Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Boys Of Summer

I drove 300 miles for lunch today, leaving early this morning to get to my appointment. It was in a small town, all crops and church steeples. We ate at the local café, a place full of people whose grandparents and great-grandparents came from Germany so many years ago. Lunch was sauerkraut and sausage and apple sauce and dark bread and dumplings, everything good and made in the kitchen behind the counter. We talked about crop prices, and about the school that closed because there aren't enough kids in town anymore, and about baseball. A lot of the small towns are dying, but until they do, there's still town ball and a chance to remember all the men who ever played on those fields.

I thought about that tonight when our boys were playing their own game.

I thought about it when the kid who hadn't gotten a hit all year lined a triple into left field and jumped up and down on the base while his parents and his grandparents and his teammates and their parents and Coach P. and I jumped up and down with him.

I thought about it when the umpire called one of our runners safe and Coach P. walked over and told him that our guy was late getting to the base and convinced him to change his call, a third out that killed our big inning, and the other coach walked over and said, "Thanks, guys."

I thought about it at the ice cream shop, a place that's become a ritual after games, where my son and his best friends ate their cones and relived the game and chased each other around the picnic tables while we parents told them to settle down without really meaning it.

I thought about it and understood that we do not celebrate wins, we celebrate that our town is still alive, and so are we, and that someday people will talk about the boys and girls who played here.

If We Can Land A Man On The Moon

There's been a lot of talk in recent years about the decline of the American entrepreneurial spirit. I don't buy that. Any nation that can build a Buick can rule the world.

The problem is these damn kids nowadays are thinking too small. Here are some of the things I hope they're engineering with my tax dollars.

1. Methane Powered Cats

There are a lot of cats in the world today, more than 8 trillion by one count (mine). Each cat consumes food, which takes fuel to grow. Our current energy crisis can therefore be directly attributed to cats. If cats could instead be bred to live off methane, and then attached to cow anuses, much like lampreys on trout, there would be more than enough oil to go around. We could then withdraw from Iraq, allowing it to continue to flourish as a paradise on earth.

2. Disposable Souls

We have made great progress in our noble quest to throw everything away. We have disposable napkins, disposable diapers, even disposable countries (see Iraq, above). What we don't have are disposable souls.

Let's say you commit a mortal sin. Sure, you can fast, go to confession, do whatever your religion demands in order to save your soul. What a pain in the neck. What if instead you could simply toss your soiled old eternity in a Soul Genie and slap in a brand spanking new one? In your face, Father O'Leary! To say nothing of the dramatic reduction in awkward Sunday morning conversations.

3. Rechargeable Snacks

Who doesn't like a handful of AAA batteries after lunch? As we all know, however, once they've been through the old digestive tract, they're not good for much else. Batteries run on acid - why can't they be designed so stomach acids recharge them? Eat and play - the motto of the future.

4. Portable Stadiums

Professional sports teams are constantly threatening to move unless they get new stadiums. Let's cut out the bureaucracy and invent stadiums they can bring with them. Everybody wins but the architects, and they're a sneaky bunch under the best of circumstances.

5. Inflatable Pork

There's nothing worse than looking forward to a fine meal of pork, only to sit down to a clearly inadequate portion. While some of us (me) would use this as an excuse to pocket our host's silverware and sneak out the back door, that's not a viable option for everyone. In that case, just hook up a bicycle pump to your bacon and you're in business.

So come on MIT and all you other sciency schools. Let's get inventing!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Put Me In Coach, I'm Ready To Play

Tonight was game number 10 for the mighty warriors of the Little League diamond. After the first inning, the score was tied 2-2. We broke it open after that, eventually winning 17-12. It was only that close because we put in a couple of our less experienced pitchers in the last couple of innings. God bless the five-run rule.

The last week has seen the team continue to grow in unexpected ways. Slorn continues to make his unique contribution to the group, wandering around the dugout and repeating in a mechanical voice, "tampering with the smoke detectors in the lavatories is a federal offense." It turns out that one of the player's mothers is a family therapist and I suggested to Slorn that he lie down on the bench and describe his childhood to her. He sort of giggled and broke into the chorus of the musical he's currently rehearsing with his choral group.

I asked him, "Do you know what Dada is?"

"No coach, what?"

"It was an absurdist art movement of the early 20th century. For some reason I'm reminded of it when you're around."

"Cool," he said. The family therapist was standing nearby and shook her head. She continues to find our coaching style "interesting."

"In fact," I continued, "I bet in about 20 years you'll be starring in some extremely off-Broadway show."

"Cool," he said again before wandering off to practice his flight attendant impersonations.

Meanwhile, my little punk decided to take an attitude when he got reassigned to center field at the last minute. The kid playing second is new to the position and I told my boy that he needed to back up the base pretty closely. The first throw to second base elicited no response from my son, although the ball almost got past the infielder. The second throw also elicited no response, even though the ball rolled right between center and left. The left fielder, no expert himself, finally corralled the ball and threw it in.

"Hey," I shouted. "You in center field, you better get your head in the game."

The opposing team's coach stared at me until I explained, "My kid," and then he nodded in understanding.

I glanced at Coach P. "I'm going to kill him. Go ahead, stick him in right field the rest of the game."

Coach P. said, "I'll talk to him."

The inning ended and the boy came off the field. Coach P. pulled him aside, out of earshot of the others. "Your dad's a coach and you're one of the best players on the team. If you're not going to take this seriously, neither will the others. Don't ever do that again."

The boy looked chagrined, far more so than if I had talked to him. He put on his helmet and walked to the batter's box. When he hit a ground ball to short, he beat it out for an infield single. The rest of the game he made sure he was the first guy off the bench to slap the backs of his teammates.

Good. I don't care if I raise a baseball player, but I sure as hell don't want to raise a brat.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I've Come A Long Way, Baby!

Many people have asked, who is this Snag, international gourmand, music critic, and poet?

Excellent question. Please allow me to introduce myself.

I was born many decades ago in a small hamlet in Peru, the scion of missionary parents. My father, a well-known cartoonist, died during childbirth. Shortly after, my mother, a devout follower of Aleister Crowley, despaired of her lot and traded my twin sister and me for a handful of tin.

In keeping with the traditions of the natives who subsequently raised us, my sister was home-schooled while I was put to work tending the tree squirrels that were the basis for our tribe's economy. So successful were the shaman's teachings that my sister left our home for the University of Chicago Medical School at the age of sixteen, the same year that I was packed in a shipping crate and airmailed to Waterloo, Iowa.

The choice of my destination remains shrouded in mystery. Perhaps the bond I had formed with the squirrels disconcerted others of my tribe and Waterloo seemed a safe distance away. Perhaps my brethren's fondness for Abba led to some understandable confusion. No matter. Waterloo it was.

As can be imagined, the people of northern Iowa were more than a little surprised to open the crate and discover a six-foot tall hunchback speaking in clicks and whistles. The good people of the Midwest, however, swallowed their disappointment and took me under their wing. Before long I had a steady job washing cows and had begun to make friends. All was well.

That is, until the first spring rolled around. In spring a young man's fancy, and all that. My mistake, I admit, but really, how was I to know the fine points of bowling alley etiquette? And it's not like you can't wash a bowling ball. Nevertheless, a series of harshly worded court orders led to my taking leave of the friends I'd so recently made.

Fortunately, my time with the squirrels had taught me many useful foraging skills. On these I relied for almost fifteen years. Whether it was nuts, berries, or road kill, I could get there first and gorge most. It was a good life, but I wanted more. I needed a degree.

I took my entrance examinations and applied at most of the major research universities. While several expressed interest in me as a subject, none were willing to gamble on me as a student. Was it the ACT essay written in crayon or some deeper prejudice? Who can say. In any event, it was a bitter pill to swallow but I vowed to persevere.

I did, and took the drastic step of joining the Peace Corps. Although I had hoped for a posting in Cameroon or Uzbekistan, I soon found myself in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, building schools and digging wells. I'll always cherish my memories of those two years, helping these forgotten people reclaim a small shred of dignity. These two years were also enough to turn the heads of the same admission counselors who had previously rejected me and I quickly found myself bombarded with brochures from most of the top-tier schools.

By then, my motto was fool me once, won't get fooled again and I dismissed their entreaties. I had bigger fish to fry. Fortunately, there are several Lisbon-based mail order colleges offering a number of very attractive study-at-home degree programs and I promptly availed myself of an exciting opportunity in biomedical research. My isolated, unmarked cabin in the far reaches of the
Gifford Pinchot National Forest was the perfect place for me to hone my skills in the vivisectionist arts.

It is not an easy life, trapping and gutting prey, wrapping it tightly in butcher paper, and hiking the many miles to the nearest post office, then waiting weeks and sometimes months for an evaluation in Portuguese, a language I know nothing about. It had to be done, though, and after three grueling years and a graduation ceremony conducted entirely by telegraph, I was ready to strike out on my own. I sharpened my blade, left my homestead, and headed for the big city, ready to make my mark as a freelance coroner.

Business was slow at first and the drain tile I installed in my garage seemed to trouble many of my neighbors. This is a great country, however, and anyone can live his or her dream. Within months, I had more clients than I could handle and took on several assistants.

Since then, I have built one of the more successful
abattoirs in the quad state area. I have met and married the woman of my dreams and together we are raising three angels from heaven, plus our children. I mostly telecommute now from the spacious doublewide I welded myself on seventeen acres of the most beautiful termite mounds you've ever seen. In my spare time I coach Skee-ball and grow nettles. I have a five-legged dog named Katie and a horse with no name. I've even reconnected with my sister, who has been recently released from a long stint for Medicaid fraud and has promised to take a look at my hunch.

And yet, with all I have, I occasionally find myself wondering, is this all there is? Will I never climb the Pyrenees on the back of a llama? Will I never raft the wild rivers of Nebraska, or hunt the mighty shrew, or eat salmon from a box?

We shall see. My life is a young one and the offal I consume promises me a long and vibrant existence. I am merely happy for the opportunity to share it with you and to tell you a little about me, the man you thought you knew.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

To Market, To Market

This morning I took oldest and youngest boys grocery shopping after middle boy left for a friend's cabin for the weekend. Oldest likes to cook, and besides he's put me on a diet. It's a humbling experience negotiating with your teen-aged son over the cholesterol count in a package of Chinese sausages. I'm told that I can have 1/2 of one this weekend if I behave.

We also squabble over my desire to make Frito pie. I told him he doesn't know good living. He told me I'm an idiot. I consider it a draw.

In the meantime Youngest was apparently sniffing glue. Chattering incoherently, he finds the bucket of basketball-sized rubber balls, dribbles down the chip aisle, whirls, and hits a three-pointer over the head of an old lady.

"Knock it off," I hiss before apologizing to the woman. "What the hell's wrong with you?"

We get to the next aisle where he starts pawing through the different cereals, looking for the most repulsive. Jackpot! Chocolate chip cookie cereal.

"Can I get it?" he pleads.

"No, don't let him," says Oldest. "That stuff's disgusting."

"Yes it is," I say. "So what?"

"He's going to get fat and stupid if he eats that junk."

Youngest pipes in, "I am not. Dad's the fat one."

Oldest nods as if conceding the point.

"Buy the cereal, I don't care." I'm willing to go along with the fiction that the vitamin spray they use on this crap counterbalances the rest of the poisons in the box. We've only been there five minutes and I already just want to get home.

Two aisles later Oldest pushes the grocery cart into the back of Youngest's legs. Knocks him down in front of the spices.

"It was an accident," Oldest hollers as his brother leaps up and prepares to attack.

"It was a goddamn accident because you were screwing around," I growl as I pin back Youngest's arms. "Knock it the hell off."

"That's bullcrap!" shrieks Oldest. "I was not screwing around. It was him. You always take his side because you love him better."

"He does not," says Youngest. "He hates me. He loves the middle one best."

"You're right, he does," says Oldest. Now that they've recalled their common enemy they've made peace with each other again.

I glare. "Both of you stop it. I swear to God I'm going to sell you to gypsies."

Youngest takes the opportunity to slip into the next aisle and grab a handful of candy. "Can we get these?" he asks.

"No. Put them back."

"You never get us anything."

I gesture at the cart, filled with chocolate chip cookie cereal, Oreos, Cheez-its, and $50 worth of other garbage. "Fine, I'll put all this back then."

That momentarily silences him and he returns the candy to the shelf.

We get to the produce aisle and I look at the apricots and plums. Youngest stands beside me making gagging noises.

"Can you behave for 30 freaking seconds?" I ask. He goes into some kind of Tae Kwon Do stance and begins stalking me. I wave one hand at him, trying to maintain a defensive perimeter, while I squeeze fruit with the other. Oldest has abandoned us, concerned that one of a classmate will happen by and think he and I are related. He doesn't seem to realize I'm no more happy about that than he is.

Finally we get checked out and back to the car. I load the groceries in the trunk and drive out of the parking lot.

We get home and my Lovely Bride is sitting at the kitchen table having lunch. "Your youngest son is a pinhead," I tell her. She shrugs and goes back to her soup. There's a reason she lets me do the shopping.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Albert, Dance Around!

This afternoon my youngest is playing the part of Albert Einstein for a school project. He's had to research Einstein's background, put together a costume, prepare and memorize a speech about the man. There's nothing like a grade-schooler with white hair and pants yanked up to his chest. It's a nice look.

Last night after the ballgame (good guys won, yay for us), we were having ice cream and he was describing the project to some of his friend's parents. He talked about Einstein's life, where he grew up, where he died. One of them, half-jokingly, asked, "What do you know about the science?"

"Not very much," he answered, and then gave a reasonably correct explanation of why force equals mass times acceleration. Assuming I understand the concept well enough to judge.

Holy crap! I think. He's a genius! My nurturing's paid off. I'm the best parent ever!

Then he dropped half his cone down the front of his shirt. Easy come, easy go.

Anyway, I've been trying to help him with the presentation. For example, I just told him the other day, "I bet you weren't aware that Einstein wrote music."

"Really?" he asked, though warily.

"Sure. You know how he played violin, right? Well, he used to like to write music to play with his friends. That Avril Lavigne song, 'Girlfriend'? Einstein wrote that. She's just doing a cover version."

His head starts shaking.

"He did a lot of other cool things too. He loved to collect string. In fact, he had one of the largest balls of string in the world. That's why physicists talk about string theory. It's the theory that nothing can be bigger than Einstein's string ball."

His eyes begin to glaze. "That's not true," he says.

"Sure it is," I reply. "A lot of this stuff doesn't get into normal textbooks. That's why you're lucky to have a dad who knows so much."

He begins humming to himself, a tuneless, desperate noise.

"Quantum mechanics," I say. "That's another thing many people don't understand. There are these special spaceships called quantums that can fly faster than the speed of light. Einstein invented the tools the mechanics use to repair them. If you study very hard in school, you can be a quantum mechanic when you grow up."

The humming gets louder. Our dog Katie comes downstairs to see what's wrong. He clutches her around the neck and begins talking to her.

"Albert was also an animal lover," I note. "He had a ranch in Wyoming."

The boy looks at me for the first time in a few minutes. "He lived in New Jersey."

"Yes. New Jersey's in Wyoming. Remember when we went to Yellowstone when you were little? We stayed in Trenton."

He's back to talking to the dog.

"This ranch he had in Wyoming," I continue. "That's where he built his ark. Have you ever seen pictures of Moses? Looks just like Einstein, doesn't he? That's because they're the same person. 'Moses' is Hebrew for Einstein. It's all in the Bible. You can look it up."

He gets up to leave and Katie gets up too. They walk upstairs together. "Mom," I hear, "he's doing it again!"

"Just ignore him," my Lovely Bride tells him. "There's something wrong with him."

I turn on the television, tune in to the Discovery Channel. There's a whole world of science left to learn.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


With the long weekend coming up, many of you will be getting together with friends and family. When you do, there's nothing like a refreshing cocktail to make you forget how much you really dislike them. Here in Snagsville we've developed a few of our own favorites.

1. Tee Many Martooni

Mix one bottle gin and a splash of dry vermouth. Purchase one large dram shop policy. Garnish with an olive. Consume.

2. Black Russian

Make one medium White Russian. Add black food coloring.

3. Sex on the Interstate

Combine 3 oz. absinthe, 3 oz. Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, 5 oz. whole milk, and 5 oz. grain alcohol. Garnish with a corn dog.

4. Manhattan, Kansas

Mix 4 oz. ethanol, 2 oz. raw beef (preferably corn fed), and loam to taste. Blend until frothy and top with a marble.

5. Grasshopper

In a large bowl, combine 1 gallon creme de menthe, 1 cup hot cocoa, and a pinch of cayenne. Sprinkle with grasshoppers and serve at room temperature.

6. Yiddish Coffee

Brew one pot kosher coffee. Stir in 1 cup tequila, 1 tbsp. horseradish, and 1 tsp. liquid from a jar of gefilte fish. Bring to a boil and serve immediately. When finished, wrap serving glasses in a towel and stomp on them.

7. Appletini

Make one martini. Flavor with apple.

8. Pork Daiquiri

In blender, combine 3 cups homemade rum, 6 hotdogs, and the juice from 1 overripe tomato. Blend until hotdogs are creamy and serve over ice.

9. Mojito

Stir 2 mojitos into 1 teacup of ginger ale. Microwave on half-power for 17 seconds. Garnish with chives.

10. Margarita

Using a small industrial-grade wire whisk, mix 3 peeled limes, 1 cup sugar, and 2 pinches of powdered liver. Pour over high-quality bran and chill until slightly frozen.



Several Friends of Befouled have asked whether the Snags ever enjoy any moose-related beverages. Of course! I often begin my day with the following eye-opener:

11. The Moose is Loose

Combine 1 quart Moose Drool Brown Ale,
3 tsps. Southern Moose corn liquor, 1 bottle Jägermøøster, 1 can Canadian Club whisky, and 750 ml. extra-peaty Scotch. Garnish with a hoof and serve flaming.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

And It's Outta Here!

My youngest hit a home run tonight, our team's first of the season. The pitcher was bringing some heat, but the boy took a ball, fouled off a pitch, and then drilled one into deep center field. He's pretty quick, and God knows the fielding at this age is weak, and he hit third early enough that sending him didn't seem wrong.

The team poured off the bench and slapped him on the back. All well and good. Then Coach P. and I saw one of the kids pointing and laughing at the pitcher.

"A.," we hollered in unison. "Knock it off."

We don't yell at the kids much. In fact, we pretty much never yell at any of them except our own. It's become something of a joke among the parents; "Oh, Coach is yelling, his kid must have screwed up."

But this didn't cut it. Coach P. was so angry he had to walk away for a minute. I pulled A. to the side.

"Look, buddy," I said, "if you go to a pro ball game, you can swear at the other team if your parents let you. This isn't pro ball. We're here to have fun. Cheer your own team, but don't ever, ever dog the other team again."

He looked like he was going to cry. I went over to his parents, who were watching, not to say anything, just to gauge their reaction.

His mother looked at me. "Someone needed to yell at him for that," she said. We have good parents on our team.

We ended up losing. Up by one run going into the last inning, we blew it. It was a loss we deserved. Our fielding pained my soul.

We huddled around and Coach P. found some nice things to say to the kids. He's good at that. My kid got named player of the game for his home run, dragged his mom and brothers out for ice cream.

A. didn't go for ice cream. His parents took him straight home. He wasn't close to tears anymore, but he was still quiet. That's alright. Anybody can learn how to hit and field. It's harder to learn how to be an adult. Tonight A. got a lesson.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Glory Days

Evenings around the Snag household are usually pretty quiet. I get home from work, blow a fuse because the house is a pigsty, and threaten to sell the kids to an Asian family where they'll learn the meaning of real work. We go to some godforsaken field to play some Chaplinesque version of one of the the sports to which I tithe.

On the way back, the kids demand ice cream - "I scream, you scream, shut the goddamn hell up before I pull this car over!" We get back home and my oldest tells me that my fantasy baseball team sucks and I'm stupid. The boys go to bed, I watch The Daily Show, make myself a drink, and cry myself to sleep.

Mornings, however, are another story. I do not like mornings. I do not like them at all. Everybody understands it's best to just leave me be until I've finished a cup of coffee and the metro section of the paper.

Thank God my two oldest are long gone by the time I get up. By the time I'm moving around they're in class or smoking dope or doing whatever kids do nowadays. My youngest is still home, though, and full of love for dear old dad.

This morning was typical. I get up and slink downstairs in my bathrobe. My Lovely Bride's been up for hours and rolls her eyes behind my back; she thinks I don't know. I do.

The kid's reading the sports section. "How's our team doing?" I ask.


"It's not like when I played," I say.

He looks at me. "What?"

"You know, when I was in the All Star Game. In '83."

He puts his head down. "Shut up."

"No, really," I tell him. "You've seen the video, remember?"

"Oh my God." His head's completely on the table now.

"You can just call me dad," I say, a joke that gets better with each retelling. "But I was."


"Really, look it up. I was out there with Yaz and Carew."

He gets up from the table and goes upstairs. I follow him. So does our dog, Katie.

"Careful buddy. Katie has rabies. It looks like she's attacking you."

He's face down on the couch now with a pillow over his head.

"Anyway, it was a good game. Don't tell all your friends, though, because then we'll get swarmed with autograph seekers. You should just let your teacher know and she can figure out how to announce it. Maybe I'll come for show and tell next week."

He's rocking now, that vacant stare one sees on recently returned combat veterans. Muttering "Shut up, shut up, shut up." Meanwhile my Lovely Bride is lying on the other couch sadly gazing at nothing.

I give him a hug. "It can be tough finding out that your dad was a superstar. Don't worry, I love you just as much as always."

I head for the shower. Katie's in the hallway chewing on a bone we bought for her at the grocery. "Looks like she got one of your brothers. I'd be careful until we can get animal control in here."

He sighs and picks himself up from the couch. Gets his backpack and his shoes. My Lovely Bride sighs also and joins him. They exchange glances and walk out the door. The house is quiet, and while tonight will come all too soon, for the time being, it's mine.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Shine It On

The middle boy had a soccer tournament this weekend. By nature I'm more of baseball fan than a soccer hooligan, but I do like watching him play. The team's come a long way over the past year and this weekend beat two teams that thrashed them last summer. The weather was nice, for one of the games anyway, the guys played better than I've ever seen them, and they ended up in second place.

When it was announced that runners-up also got a medal, my kid shrieked, "Yay, we get a shiny thing!" in the Sesame Street voice he normally saves to irritate his older brother. I shook my head at his complete lack of self-respect while the other parents, who've gotten used to him, laughed and tousled his hair. He scored four of the team's six goals during the tournament and I guess that earns you the right to be a knucklehead.

Meanwhile, the baseball team's practice consisted of a Wiffle ball game. Coach P. and I had a theory that this would allow the guys to focus on fundamentals, like covering bases, without worrying about getting beaned by a pitch or having to chase around the outfield for a well hit ball.

One of the moms came up to me about halfway through the practice and said, "You two certainly have the most interesting coaching style I've ever seen."

"Interesting?" I asked. "As in, 'What in interesting piece of art' interesting? As in, 'if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all' interesting?"

"No, nothing like that," she replied. "Just interesting."

It's hard to know how to respond to that, but I live a life filled with enigmas.

In most ways a pretty typical weekend. There were two things, though, that made this weekend a little different.

First, for the only time since my kid started playing, someone got a red card. The coach of the team that won the tournament, for that matter. They're up 5-2, less than a minute left to play, and the referee called a penalty on his team. The coach started complaining, the ref reached in his pocket, and out came the card. That means the coach was not only ejected for the rest of today's game, he'll be out for the next game too.

Ten minutes later the medals are getting handed out. As runners-up we go first and our coach recognizes our individual players. Then it's the winning coach's turn.

He looks at his kids and ours, all the parents, and says, "I'd like to congratulate the second-place team. They played well.

"I also want to say that a few minutes ago you saw a coach do something stupid. I forgot for a minute that soccer's about a lot more than goals and winning. I've apologized to the referee and I apologize to all of you."

On the way to the car I shook his hand and thanked him.

Second, we spent Saturday morning at an adaptive baseball game. A friend's son has some disabilities and this was his first time playing. I went with my boys and a neighbor and his boy, and we watched and cheered as the kids rounded the bases in their wheelchairs, or guided by the Little Leaguers who'd volunteered to help. It's a beautiful field they have, built with tax dollars and private contributions and worth every penny. The boys yelled when their friend scored and gave him high fives when the game was over and on the way home asked, "That was fun. Can we go the next time he plays?"

So my kids learned something from sports this weekend. They learned that people do stupid things and suffer consequences. They learned that real men and women admit their mistakes and take responsibility. And they learned that having fun is more important than winning something shiny.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Broken In

It's been a .500 week in baseball. Tuesday the boys played like hell, but squeaked out a win. Tonight they played better than ever, but lost by a run. So far we're 4-3.

To end today's game, the home plate umpire made a questionable call on the last play. He's the dad of one of our players. Looks like his boy's going to be riding the pine. We tell the dad that and he laughs.

The personalities are really starting to come out now. That's not always a good thing. The other night Coach P. said, "Alright, we're on our 6th game. I'm going to read the positions once and I expect you to know what position you're at and where it is."

He reads them off. One of our guys comes up. "Coach P., what position am I?"

My friend twitches. "Left center."

"Where's that?" My friend twitches again and points.

The inning starts and Coach P. looks at me. "I think he's fucking with me on purpose."

Tonight, same thing. Same lecture, same theory. Same kid, same result.

"Coach P., what position am I?"

"Ask Coach Snag." Coach P. walks away.

"Coach Snag, am I at second?"


Where am I?"


The kid looks at me, puzzled, trying to think it through as he walks toward second base. Good, that's a start.

That's not all, though. The week started with my losing my glove. Sunday night, the beautiful night under the stars, I walked away without the glove that I've loved and cherished for 15 years. Broken in, just the right size, I left it at the field. Maybe it will show up. I can't sit around and hope, however, and my old high school mitt isn't going to cut it.

I bought a new one yesterday, an Easton made with Kevlar for God's sake. It feels pretty good so far, even if it's going to take a few years to really break it in. But, oh, sweet Lord, what fun it was looking for the missing glove.


The Lovely Bride's gone so it's just me and the boys. They look at me.

"A dollar if any of you find it in the next 3 minutes." They scatter and search, to no avail.

I have to be at the field in 20 minutes and I'm hosed. "Goddamn sonsofbitch fuckers, if I find out who stole my glove I'll rip their stupid face off."

My oldest, who hates letting anyone else uses his stuff offers me his glove, clearly hoping I'll just leave.

"Thanks," I say. "I'll just keep it until I figure out where mine is."

On the way to the game I keep mumbling while my youngest grins in the back seat. "Bastards. Steal my glove. I hope their freaking souls rot in hell. Except God hates me so there's no hell for my enemies. Fuck." Interspersed with even more violent outbursts against drivers who get in my way, mostly inarticulate grunts punctuated with screams. Fortunately my kid's used to it.

We get to the game and I tell Coach P. about my night. He smiles, tells me about his crappy day at work. The game begins and I stop worrying for a while, watching the boys instead, tucking the frustration back inside and telling them, "Nice hit, good swing, great catch" and the game ends and we go out for ice cream again and I buy a new glove and it's game time and the kids have fun and the new glove is just fine.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bon Appétit, Volume 3

As a renowned gourmand, I know that a good meal isn't great without dessert. Over the years I've developed some favorites.

1. Buzzard Blizzard

Finely chop one fresh buzzard. Freeze until solid. Combine with 3 cups vanilla ice cream (substitute Blue Moon if Jennifer is joining you), 1/4 cup milk, and 1 teaspoon of your favorite fish oil. Blend for 47 seconds. Divide into 25 shot glasses. Shout "l'chaim" before guzzling. Throw glasses in neighbor's fireplace when done.

Serves 1.

2. Møøse Mousse

Heat 1 gallon Captain Morgan rum in a pail. Whisk together 3 turnips, 2 tsps. sugar, and a pinch of salt in a metal bowl until combined well, then fling into rum pail. Transfer mixture to microwave and cook on high for 3 seconds, stirring constantly, until walls of microwave are evenly coated. Scrape through a fine-mesh sieve into a flagon.

Melt one large Norwegian møøse in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water while glaring at a small child. Whisk møøse into rum mixture until chunks have dissolved. Set aside to cool until baseball season ends.

Meanwhile, beat a rented mule until it holds stiff peaks. After final pitch of World Series, fold mule in half gently but thoroughly. Combine with møøse, spoon into stemmed glasses and coat with lye. Chill at least 6 hours. Bring to boil before serving,

Serves 1 Norwegian.

3. Brandied Dandy

Grease cakepan and roast one tender and cleaned 17th-century fop* for 2 hours at 66 degrees. Set aside to cool.

Cut down cherry tree. Dispose of cherries and use wood to build large fire. Over fire, boil 1.75 liters brandy until fully evaporated. Extinguish fire, being careful to stamp out any remaining embers.

Take remaining brandy from liquor cabinet and pour over fop. Drizzle with hot fudge and Slovakian-made crème fraîche. Slice and garnish with milkweed.

Serves Roger.

* Available at most Micronesian supermarkets.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Happy Birthday, Buddy, Part Two

Nine years ago today, my youngest was born. The boy who calls me lazy, who believes our dog hates me. (For the record, she doesn't.) I've never coached his brothers, but I do him, maybe not well, but I give it a shot.

He woke up today while I was leaving for work. He's been a bit under the weather and this morning he dragged out of bed and leaned against the wall outside his room.

"Happy birthday, buddy," I say.

"Thanks dad."

He doesn't insult me. Clearly he isn't feeling well.

I lean down and give him a quick hug.

"Happy birthday," I say, this time like I mean it. "You're a good kid."

"See you later," he says.

I leave, go to a couple meetings, work at home the rest of the day. He gets back from school and we're rushed like always. I jam some food down his throat, talk to my middle son about his homework and his soccer, listen to my oldest complain about his math ("Have you ever used quadratic equations at work? I didn't think so!"), get him ready for baseball.

At the game, after a shaky start, including a lot of batters walked by my kid and a brief argument over rules, things turn out well, with the good guys winning 14-9. The best part of the night is when a kid on the other team, one who's played the last few years with my youngest and Coach P.'s kid but this year is on a different team, hits a line drive shot to the outfield. At school he has some struggles, some learning disabilities, some physical disabilities. Boy, did he hit a rope tonight, though. Coach P. and I yell, "Nice hit!" and so do some of the other parents from our team, and those from his team of course, and he stands on first, beaming. When the game ends and we're shaking hands my youngest tells him "Way to go," and I'm proud of him.

So we win and my youngest asks to go out for a treat. It's his birthday and he's done the right things and even though I need the money for retirement, we go. A few of his buddies are there and, under a clear, cool sky they eat their ice cream and relive their games. I talk with their parents, and we hash through our days, and laugh about our kids, and later I think that without my youngest son my world would not be as full.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Easy Money

Having grown increasingly disenchanted with modern society, I've decided what I need is a get-rich-quick scheme that will allow me to completely withdraw from personal interaction. I'm currently mulling over the following possibilities. Care to join me?*

1. Powerpuff Possums

A closely knit band of marsupial cartoon superheroes, the Triple Ps fight a vast network of arboreal villains. A television show, movie, and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical are in the writing stages. The brand will be extended to include kid-friendly foods such as Li'l Possum Snackcakes, Possum Brand Breakfast Sausages, and the Outback Steakhouse Possum Blossom. Promotional tie-ins with Bowie Knives, LLC are also planned - "There's more than one way to skin a possum - see them all at your local Bowie retailer."

2. The Expurgator

The equivalent of a V-Chip for the written word, installing this simple device in your child's Broca area will eliminate the need for attending school board meetings and burning books. Easily operated even by those parents unable to work a TiVo, the Expurgator censors out offending language, ranging from the racial slurs of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to the Catcher in the Rye's challenges to authority. Can be programmed to work with any universal remote.

3. The Catastrophe
. .


This trademarked punctuation mark will be rolled out to cat lovers after market testing is complete. Originally designed by German engineers for automotive use, the catastrophe perfectly replicates a typical domestic feline, down to its DNA. It should be especially popular with readers of Lilian Jackson Braun's "Cat Who. . . ." series as well as members of the Wichita-based Kit Kat Klub chain of wife-swapping venues.
Whoa baby, Snaggy needs a new pair of shoes!

*Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of the investment can go down as well as up and can't be guaranteed. You may get back less than you invested.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Player Of The Game

Tonight we played under the lights. The game didn't start until 7, and by the time we got to the last inning it was getting late. So the lights came on and the kids stopped for a moment, looked around, and knew something was different. It's always been daylight hours play before, with the games getting called on account of darkness when they ran long. Tonight, though, they were the big kids and they were the ones who got to play under the lights.

We faced a team from a neighboring community, as close as it gets to traveling ball at this age. They weren't particularly good or particularly bad. A lot like us, in fact. Their coaches were nice guys, asking us whether we wanted to run on overthrows, sending one of their players back to second when we said no. We tried to be the same, telling one of their players "Nice hit" when he slammed a triple to the outfield fence.

My Lovely Bride's dad was in town with his wife, so they came to the game. They've always been great to our boys, taking each of them alone for a week back to their city, playing golf and cards with them, doing the fun things that grandparents do. Because they don't live here, though, they don't get to see the kids as often as they'd like and they especially don't see many of their games. So this was nice.

My youngest started out catching. He was solid behind the plate, handling most of the pitches, or at least stopping them. He made a nice throw to second with someone advancing on a wild pitch. He got a couple of hits, an RBI, a run scored. In the last inning he pitched in relief, made a nice defensive play for the first out, and then struck out the last batter with the bases loaded. Meanwhile, my oldest kept the book and my middle one alternated between cheering for the team and doing chores for the league president. My father-in-law loves baseball and he loves his grandchildren and I don't know that he's ever had a finer time.

Other grandparents were there, and so were aunts and cousins and friends and brothers and sisters home from college. It was a warm and perfect evening.

We have one kid on our team, a nice boy, nice parents, a friend of my youngest from way back. He's a tremendous athlete, but he's never played baseball before this year. Baseball's a tough sport and he's been getting frustrated. He hasn't gotten a hit, his fielding's pretty ragged, and he generally doesn't have a good handle on how the game works. Coach P. and I have been doing our best and his dad's been working with him too, and we're making progress, just not fast enough for the boy's taste. It'll come, it's going to take some time, though, and we've been worried that he's going to give up before we get there.

Tonight, while my youngest was pitching in the top of the last inning, the batter hit a line-drive shot to third base, right to where this kid was standing. Luck, instinct, or burgeoning skill, it doesn't matter, he caught it. Caught it awkwardly, not the way we'd recommend, but it worked.
"Yes!" Coach P. and I shout.

"Nice play!" yells our catcher as he tears off his mask.

"Way to go!" hollers the rest of our team, and the parents and grandparents and aunts and cousins and friends and brothers and sisters home from college.

In the bottom half of the inning, it was his turn to bat. We'd been down by a few runs but we'd fought back to even. It was on him now.

He walks. He gets on base. He gets moved up to third. He scores on a single by my youngest, the winning run. His teammates welcome home, pound him on the back. After we shake hands with the umpire and the other team it's player of the game time and Coach P. says his name, gives him a certificate for a free ice cream cone and our team cheers for him again. He kind of skips over to his dad, his dad puts his arm around him and says "Good job, buddy," and they walk off together for the ride home, which they'll spend talking about his catch and his walk and his run and, I hope, how much he loves baseball.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pearls Of Wisdom

Thanks to Righteous Bubba for his suggestions on running a great blog. I'd like to add a few of my own.

Tip #1: Shower Regularly

No matter how interesting your posts, people don't want to read a blog that smells. Consider those offering the enticing aromas of lilac, cookies, emu, and even bratwurst. Those are people you want to visit over and over. On the other hand, think of those on-line communities you avoid because of the stench (nothing personal, Powerline).

Tip #2: Use a Written Language

While clicks and whistles work perfectly well in face-to-face conversation, they do not form a sound foundation for a blog. How many Hendo-language blogs are listed in Technorati's top 100? And pick a language with staying power. Chinese and English are good choices, Esperanto and Morse code less so.

Tip #3: Look For The Union Label

Some blogs off-shore their content manufacturing. But look at the result; posts that are boring and incoherent, the result of having been created by eight-year-old children in dim Marianas Island sweatshops. While that may be good enough for Instapundit, you want to aim higher than that. Befouled proudly uses only union-made posts.

Tip #4: Employ a Recurring Theme

Some bloggers have a general overarching motif. Alicublog is a witty, well-read New Yorker who discusses politics and culture. The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler is crazy. In each case, their respective audiences get what they expect.

Other bloggers simply have an on-going riff they employ. For example, Atrios likes to name the Wanker of the Day. Jonah Goldberg prefers to be the Wanker of the Day. Whatever approach you take, the key is to find your strength and stay with it.

Tip #5: Make Your Blog Pop!

Nobody wants to read a bunch of boring old words set in a boring old typeface. Take the effort to provide some visual interest!!!!!!!!!LOL-;)SNAP@:(

Tip #6: Make the Moose Your Friend

When it comes to moose, more is better.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

It's A Long Season

Tonight was an ugly one for the good guys. Up against a bigger, older team, one with pitchers who can bring some heat. And a home plate umpire, supplied by their side, with an extremely . . . flexible strike zone. Which is okay, the umpires are parent volunteers, but it would be nice if it was reciprocally flexible.

The game wasn't too bad after the first inning, only 5-4. Then the wheels came off. One of our normally solid players caught in a fugue state in the outfield, a ball rolling past him for a double. Two of our best hitters coming up with the bases loaded and striking out. Balls getting booted around the infield, kids not only failing to cover, but failing to have any idea they were supposed to cover. Some asshole parent from the other team shrieking like a banshee until Coach P. turned to one of our dads, looked at his pitch counter, and muttered under his breath, "I'm going to miss this after I ram it down that guy's throat." Which we all thought was funny even if Coach P.'s wife didn't.

There were a few bright spots. Nobody died. I didn't punch the other coach when he ran his team on an overthrow back to the pitcher. Stuff like that.

And some other things. The boys high-fived our batters who struck out, saying, "Nice at bat" and "Way to take your cuts." When one of our pitchers gave up five runs in an inning, the rest of the team slapped him on the back when he came off and congratulated him for getting the ball over the plate. Everybody said thanks to the snack captain.

There were some individual stand-outs too. Slorn got walked to drive in a run. Then, playing in center field, he made a nice play to knock down a hard-hit ball. His dad came over and asked, "Did he really just make a diving stop?"

"Yep," I answered.

"I'll be damned," he said and walked away.

In fact, we named Slorn player of the game tonight. Everybody, parents and kids, clapped for him and he got a coupon from a local ice cream shop. He smiled in his goofy way and said, "Thanks Coach."

Then P. and I took our kids, and one of the other kids from the team, and one of the other dads, and we all went out for beer and soda and wings and gumballs and stayed up too late. And now the boys will be tired at school tomorrow, but it's almost the weekend, and they cheered for each other, and what the hell, they earned it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Tomorrow is a retirement party. The guest of honor is back in the city, having spent some time away. She's not well. The cancer's been at her for a while and the diagnoses aren't getting better.

For a lot of us, tomorrow will probably be our goodbye. She'll leave town again and that might be it. We're friends, but work friends. We know her husband a little, but not her kids or their kids. If it comes to it, we'll attend her funeral and we'll miss her, but our own lives are busy and other things will fill that space.

But she'll be in town and we'll have a party. We'll hug her, shake her husband's hand, tell her she's looking good. We'll have a few drinks and dinner, toast her, secretly admire her courage in small whispers at the back of the room. We'll drive home to our own families, a little sad, and give them an extra kiss while they sleep. Then we'll lie awake thinking.

And she'll have given us that.

UPDATE: After the meal, after presents were given and speeches were made, she stood in front of us, smiled, and said, "It's easier to be happy than to be sad."

Monday, May 7, 2007

Almost Famous

I’m sitting at work today and I get a text message.

“Won 8-2.”

It’s my oldest, dropping me a note from his tennis match. I text back, “Sweet!!”

I get a response. “Dork.”

When I pick him up I ask, “Why am I a dork?”

“Two exclamation points. That’s stupid.”

I make some smart-ass comment and he says, “See, that’s why people hate you.”

Which is true, it’s just most people hide it better. I’m used to it by now, so I just laugh and think how each passing day brings me blessedly closer to the grave.

We get home. My middle kid, the one with a band concert tonight, is nowhere to be seen. I yell his name.

No answer.

I yell his name again.

Still no answer, but I see his shoes so he has to be somewhere. Even he isn’t enough of a pinhead to run around the neighborhood in his socks. At least not while it’s raining.

I scream. “Goddamnit, where the hell are you?”

My youngest peeks his head around the corner. “We’re in the computer room.”

“Turn that stupid thing off,” I say. “We have to eat and your brother has a concert. Are you coming?”

From the look the youngest gives me I may as well have asked him to eat raw squirrel. Which I did a couple of years ago, to similar effect.

I yell the name of my middle son again. Face red, blood pressure dangerously high.

“What?” I finally hear.

“Turn that freaking thing off and get up here,” I shriek. “You have to eat, get dressed, and get your instrument ready.”

“Why are you always yelling?” he asks.

It’s 6:00 p.m. and I already need a drink.

He eats, puts on his concert clothes (after much arguing over whether he has to wear a shirt with a collar, which he does), and grabs his instrument. Off we head to middle school.

Sitting in the auditorium, a half hour before the concert starts, I’m accosted by an neighbor with strong views on a public works project. We talk street construction, liquor licensing, property taxes. This is the interesting part of my life.

The music begins. I can’t see my son, he plays an instrument that lands him in the back, but I know in theory he’s somewhere in the auditorium so I feign interest. Where do they get these pieces? Ringtones are more interesting. I have a headache, which isn’t getting better as the night goes on.

I meet him in the hall after the concert. “You guys sounded good.”

“We were awful,” he says.

Define awful, I think. “No really, it was good. Especially the part where your section had a solo.”

He looks at me skeptically, convinced I’m lying, which I am. The only people they sounded good to were me and the other the parents in the auditorium.

We get in the car. I turn on the radio and an old Bob Marley song is playing. It’s great. I liked his concert more.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Growing Up Moose

Regular readers have already seen this blog's glossy coverage of the moose demographic. That's an important part of the story and not to be taken lightly. Friend of Befouled Jennifer, though, is concerned that the seamier side of moose life is not properly understood. Point well taken. Let's take a visit to that other side of the tracks.


Doris, shown here awaiting trial on charges of cranberry possession, has spent much of her short life behind bars. Abandoned by her father at an early age, she dropped out of school shortly after becoming pregnant with the first in a series of illegitimate calves. Despite the best efforts of a parade of social workers, Doris has never held a job for more than three weeks and shows little interest in settling down.


If you look closely enough, you can see the three teardrops tattooed next to Stanley's right eye. Each one represents a kill, the result of a vicious turf war between Stanley's crew and a gang of knife-wielding whitetail. Although he was born into a comfortable middle-class family, an early taste for malt liquor started his long, downhill slide. When not brawling with his mates, Stanley can typically be found running numbers or shaking down neighborhood widows for loose change. Local law enforcement officials don't expect Stanley to see his next birthday.


The inspiration for Jane's Addiction's song "Jane Says," this lost soul has been working the streets of British Columbia as long as she can remember. Her dead eyes belie the smile she uses to entice visiting conventioneers. Numerous convictions for petty theft, loitering, and solicitation charges have left her virtually unemployable in the straight world.

Desperate to avoid confronting these hard issues, society too often tries to sweep them under the rug. Until we grab them by the antlers, however, we cannot hope to make progress. These stories are brutal, but they are also reality.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Bon Appétit, Volume 2

While we are on the subject of animals, it seemed a good time to discuss some more of my favorite ways to cook them. Check out these delicious recipes.

1. Black Rhino Soufflé

Capture and kill one medium black rhino. Saw off horn and discard remainder of rhino. Grind horn into powder, mix with other soufflé ingredients, and bake until soufflé-like.

Serves 1.

2. Loggerhead Fettuccine

Shell and devein 10-12 loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings. Melt 3 tbsps. butter and sauté hatchlings until pink. Set aside.

In meantime, boil large pot of water and cook 1 lb store-bought fettuccine noodles per instructions on package. Drain and set aside.

In pan used to sauté hatchlings, add 1 cup whipping cream and 1 cup grated Parmesan. Cook on low heat until cheese is melted. Salt and pepper to taste.

When sauce is done, add hatchlings and continue cooking on low until warmed through. Toss with fettuccine noodles, sprinkle with parsley and additional grated Parmesan, and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

3. Braised Elk Gizzards

Peel 20-30 young elk. Wash, dry, and refrigerate gizzards.

Make elk stock by simmering remainder of elk in large 40-gallon pot until tender, approximately 3 weeks. Drain pot, reserving liquid.

Finely chop elk and combine with 1 bay leaf, 3 cloves, 1/2 finely chopped celery stalk, and one sprig thyme to make a bouquet garni. Add bouquet garni to stock and boil until reduced to 2 cups.

Heat 3 tbsps. olive oil in skillet until almost smoking. Add gizzards and cook until well-browned. Reduce heat and add elk stock and 1/2 cup dry white wine. Partially cover and cook for 25-30 minutes or until gizzards are medium-rare. While cooking, add additional wine or isopropyl to skillet if gizzards appear to be drying out.

Serves 6 as a main course, 82 as an appetizer.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Working 9 To 5

The use of "working" animals is a growing trend, both at home and around the world. While dogs remain a favorite because of their keen sense of smell, loyalty, and delicate flavor, others are also gaining a foothold in our daily lives.

Fire Cows

Many cities are increasingly turning to the noble bovine as a firehouse companion. Besides sharing the Dalmatian's traditional coloring, fire cows combine courage, selflessness, and a surprisingly dry sense of humor. Saved by the bell? More like saved by a cow!

Mediation Weasels

When seemingly intractable interpersonal disputes arise, many people turn to the weasel. Blessed with profound wisdom and infinite supplies of patience, the weasel commands instant respect. Family court judges in particular find the weasel an excellent resource in child custody matters.

Border Crows

Although crows have long been favored companions of celebrities and the ultra-rich, they were originally bred as winged ranch hands. Watching a border crow herd his charges down a western mountain trail is one of the quintessential American experiences. Giddy-yup, little fella!

Guard Squid

More than a handful of intruders have come to regret trying to burgle an establishment protected by one of these ferociously territorial animals. While they are gentle and affectionate to those with whom they're familiar, they are equally capable of snaring and digesting those who are perceived as a threat. If the sign says "Beware of Squid," you'd better believe it!

Search and Rescue Badgers

As one of Nature's gentlest creatures, the badger is ideally suited for locating lost children. One can only imagine the sense of relief a young person would feel upon seeing a badger's cockeyed grin lope into sight. No wonder they're a favorite visitor at nursing homes.

Yes, animals remain companions, friends, and meat. More and more, however, they are also colleagues. So, be careful how you treat our animal friends - someday you may be working for one!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Coach Of The Year, Part 3

We had a scrimmage the other day, dads against kids. It wasn't full teams, just six boys, plus my youngest, against six dads, plus my oldest.

The boys score a run. "That's minus eight for you," says one of the dads.

"What? What are you talking about?"

"When you score a run on a double, it's negative runs."

The boys shake their heads in disbelief. A few minutes later, one of them gets called out at second on a force.

"That's not fair," he howls.

His dad looks at him from the outfield. "The Fair's in August. Don't worry about it until then."

Another kid comes up. He points his bat at right field and calls his shot. His old man beans him.

"Looks like you've got 'Rawlings' tattooed on your back," I remark, pulling his shirt back over the blotch on his spine as he huffs and tries to collect himself. "We'll have to get you a matching one that says 'Wilson.'"

My youngest bats. He reaches second and belly-flops on top of it, convinced we'll steal it from under him. Smart kid.

The dads come up to bat. We score on three consecutive quasi-bunts.

"Those runs have a multiplier factor. It's twenty to negative seventeen."

My youngest throws a ball at me. The rest of the boys shriek.

"This game is stupid."

"You're making up rules."


We laugh. They're right.

What a great day.