Sunday, September 28, 2008

Catching Up

You know what I hate?

Lots of things. That's the way I roll. But I don't hate everything. In fact, I didn't hate the dinner I had tonight with an old friend who lives in the city I'm currently visiting.

My friend and his wife recently adopted a girl. He's excited in that way new parents are before reality grinds them down. (Pay no attention, Kathleen, I'm talking hypothetically here.)

"Yeah, I sure love my kids too," I said without enthusiasm. "So much so that I've invested my retirement savings in baseball bats."

My friend looked at me quizzically.

"Baseball bats," I repeated. "Three of them. For my youngest. Each one worth more than my retirement plan. Thanks, buddy."

In addition to adopting a child, my friend just started a new job, a position in which he has an opportunity to influence national economic policy. He's adding on to his house too. He'll be lucky to last out the week and my slightly crazed glare must have unnerved him further. He laughed nervously.

"You know what's the best part of being a parent?" I demanded, slicing off another piece of boudin noir. "The gratitude. 'You're the best dad ever.' That's all I ever hear.'"

"You have nice kids," he offered hesitantly.

"A regular Cosby family, that's us," I said as I polished off the rest of my wine.

"How's the Lovely Bride?" he asked, trying to change the subject.

"Probably happy, now that I'm out of town," I replied, waving my empty glass at the waitress. "Hell, I'd be glad to be away from me."

"Right," he said, noncommittally.

"You ever consider driving into a bridge abutment?" I asked. "Not hard enough to die, just enough to spend some time in the hospital. Away from your family."

"Not really," he replied. He wasn't making eye contact with me anymore.

"Yeah, me either," I said.

My friend called for the check.

"You might as well let me pay," I said. "I keep telling my boys patricide disqualifies them from collecting on my insurance. I don't think it's just about the money anymore."

"Hmm," he said.

"You should visit the next time you're in town," I told him.

"That would be great," he lied.

"I don't blame you for feeling that way," I said.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Very Nice

Kathy Sakry, left and David Parkes, right, have mental disabilities and have been taken advantage of by predatory lenders.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Love Song

What a lovely trip that was. A nice day in a Canadian "city" eating Canadian "food" and drinking Canadian "drinks," which for some Canadian "reason" must be poured in meager jigger-sized portions. When bartenders cannot free pour then no man is free.

All this after cooling our heels for better than an hour at the Canadian border. Our neighbors to the north are learning bureaucratic efficiency and spitefulness from us. While we were waiting I read the helpful materials provided by the Canadian Border Services Agency.

"Hey, it says here we can request service in French," I told my traveling companion.

"I didn't know you spoke French," he said.

"I don't."

"Why would you ask for a French speaking agent then?"

"It would be funny to ask for one and then tell them I don't speak French."

He considered for a moment. "Yeah, that actually would be kind of funny. Except they'd get mad and we wouldn't get to our hotel before bar closing time."

"Good point. It's not worth the risk."

We were finally released after answering the two probing questions posed by a disturbingly perky agent.




"Moose wrangler."

"Enjoy Canada!"


"De rien."

"I'm sorry, I don't speak French."

Still, I managed to avoid creating any other international incidents, at least any that I remember. Probably because I had a very serious cold (which as usual did not elicit appropriate sympathy from the Lovely Bride). Speaking of heel cooling, however, the long drive home did give me the chance to update one of my favorite poems. I present a portion of it here for your enjoyment.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the bacon is spread out against my thigh
Like a beagle euthanized upon a table;
Let us go, with certain half-smoked meats,
The muttering bleats
Of nervous sheep in a fenced-in lion's den
Or a strip mall on a calcareous fen:
Lions that reek of a hideous scent
Of grease and peppermint
To lead you to an overwhelming question. . .
Oh, do not shriek, "Who are you?"
When we yell "Boo!"
In the room the women cool their heels
Talking of Rodney Dangerfield.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

When In Rome

Thursday I'm off to invade visit Canadia for a few days. With a meeting near the border anyway, the chance to spend some time away from my squalling brood was simply too tempting to resist.

But what should I do when I'm there? It would be a shame to visit such an exotic locale without experiencing some of the local flavor.

Thank goodness for the internet. Even though I missed the Cowsills concert, there are any number of unique options to consider.

I could look for smoked meat.

I could hang at the methadone clinic.

I could make change at a bank that's not in danger of imminent collapse.

I could go out for a nice poutine omelet.

I know! Beer Fest!! And it's sponsored by the Manitoba Moose Yearling Foundation!!!

Thank you, baby Jesus.

Bail bondsman willing, I'll see you soon.


My nomination is still wrapped in its electoral placenta and I've already been called a moosamentalist. Well, so be it. I've been called worse. Thank God for the presumption of innocence.

Nevertheless, bigotry hasn't died yet and there's nothing I hate more than bigots, except perhaps the Dutch. In the hope that greater understanding will lead to greater tolerance, I set forth some of the key passages from the New Saskatoon Testament and Taxidermy Guide.

1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was Bird.

2. And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from moose, made he a barbecue, and brought it unto the dinner table.

3. And the calf grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her pet. And she called his name Mooses.

4. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's peat.

5. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Moose, that whosoever eateth of him should not perish, but have everlasting meat.

6. And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a moose rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten antlers, and upon his antlers Mardi Gras beads, and upon his heads the name of Molson.

7. And when he had taken the five moose and the two elk, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the moose, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two elk divided he among them all.

8. And he said, Take now thy moose, thine only moose Bullwinkle, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Canadia; and offer him there for a delicious stew upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

9. So when they continued asking him, he reared on his hind legs, and said unto them, Let's get it on.

10. Our moose which art in swamp, Tasty be thy name.

Thy forest come, Thy will be done, on grills as you are in ovens.

Give us this day our daily meat.

And forgive us our obesity, as we forgive those who ply us with food.

And lead us not into the produce section, but deliver us from vegetables: For thine is the breakfast, and the lunch, and the dinner, for ever. Amen.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Accept

My Fellow Mammalians,

I stand here tonight to accept your nomination. It is an honor and a privilege. You have helped me find my happy place.

When we set out on this journey six long days ago, we didn't expect the obstacles that were thrown in our path. Swiss physicists trying to blow up the world. Unfair questions about whether sentience alone is sufficient preparation for high office. A very late night at a Dandy Warhols concert.

We also didn't expect the help we received from unexpected quarters. The pint of blood a supporter mailed from eastern Montana. The contribution from the storekeeper who foolishly left his cash register unattended. The unsolicited campaign slogans from Friends of Befouled.

We certainly didn't expect that unpleasant video to show up on YouTube. Fortunately the American people understand the meaning of "consent" and we were able to quickly put that behind us.

But that is the past. It is time to look to the future.

And a glorious future it can be. You already know our platform. What does that platform mean for you, though, the average voter, the person none of us really cares about?

It means five dollars in your pocket for every hobo you bring to the polling place on Election Day.

It means Snickers and patty melts for our senior citizens.

It means having an advocate in your corner, an advocate who will fight for you with a ferocity veering dangerously close to psychosis.

It means periwinkle helicopters that smell of lavender.

It means a higher grade of bituminous.

It means conjugating "frumpy."

And, of course, it means a moose in every pot.

There are some, including my opponent, who will try to tell you it is impossible to deliver this cornucopia of delights. Perhaps it is impossible, in the syphilitic opium den in which he chooses to spend his time. Out here in the real America, though, we know how to Git R Done. And Git R Done we shall.

Can we put a monkey on Jupiter?

We'll Git R Done!

Can we weaponize bursitis?

We'll Git R Done!

Can we provide every hardworking American with a pre-paid calling card?

We'll Git R Done!

Can we break the stranglehold the isopropyl cartel has on our economy?

We'll Git R Done!

Can we add a moonfaced calf named Ploopy to Mt. Rushmore?

We'll Git R Done!

But I can't Git R Done by myself. I need your help. More specifically, I need your money. I need your currency, your change, your credit cards, your animal pelts. With your help, your money, we will defeat fear, we will defeat entropy, we will defeat the defeatists and the appeasers and the mordants and the mods and the mopes and we will rebuild America! In the immortal words of George Washington, we will once again make the most of the hemp seed!

Ladies, gentlemen, thank you!

Friday, September 12, 2008

How Could I Resist?

The Excitement Builds

Something to listen to while I prepare my acceptance speech.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Catch As Catch Can

Thanks to the groundswell of support from Brando, Rotten, and AIF, among others too numerous and unimportant to mention, I have decided to try my hand at this vice-presidenting business. And what does every campaign need, besides a photogenic vessel into which catchphrases and special interest money can be poured? Catch slogans, of course! Fortunately, I have a mittful.

Check 'em out:

"Snag - Experience You Can Smell!"

"Tippiecanoe And Moosies Too"

"Compassionate Fascism"

"Snag - First In War, First In Peace, Last In His Fantasy Baseball League"

"Building A Bridge To A Disturbing Fantasy"

"Stop Belgian Aggression Now!"

"25 Or 6 To 4 Or Fight"

"Is That A Ballot In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?"

Additional suggestions welcomed in comments.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

If Life Gives You Plums

It's Sunday and like clockwork my mother was here to visit.

"I brought you a gift," she announced. "You like plums, don't you?"

"I'm allergic," I said.

"Allergic? To plums? I've never met anyone with a plum allergy."

"It's something in their skin," I said. "It's uncommon, but quite severe. I wouldn't dare touch them."

"You ate them when you were growing up," she said.

"It was adult onset," I told her.

She gave me a skeptical look while my oldest pretended to concentrate on loading the dishwasher. "Very well," she said. "Do the boys like plums?"

"I don't know," I said. "They've never tried one. Plum allergies are passed down on the paternal side. It's not worth the risk."

Just then the Lovely Bride came upstairs. "Good morning," she said.

"Good morning," my mother replied.

"Oh, plums," said the Lovely Bride. "Where did those come from?"

"I brought them," said my mother. "I wasn't aware of his allergy."


"Your husband claims to have a plum allergy."

The Lovely Bride stared at me.

"It's possible," I said.

"Why do you ever listen to him?" she asked my mother.

"That's an excellent question," my mother replied.

"It's because I'm such a peach," I said.

"You're a moron," said my oldest.

"Thank God you didn't inherit your father's brains," my mother told her grandson.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My Alaska

The Lovely Bride and I went to Alaska on our honeymoon.

On the plane ride there, some knucklehead let his pet snake out of a backpack. He found it. Then he let it out again.

The Lovely Bride hates snakes. "If I see it, I'm going to kill it," she told the flight attendant.

"That makes two of us," said the flight attendant.

In Alaska we took a guided river raft tour. There was a scheduling mix up and it was just us and two guides. The guides did most of the paddling and the cooking. After we set up our tent in the middle of a moose path, the guides did that for us too. One day we hiked to and from an observation point far above the river and then we drank wine and watched the mountain goats as the guides cooked chicken piccata.

In Fairbanks we stayed at a bed and breakfast owned by someone from our hometown. "The weather's better here," the owner told us. She was probably right.

On the way back to Anchorage we ate the worst pizza of our lives and almost ran into a moose.

In Homer we stayed in a lean to with a feather bed and watched the eagles circle overhead. We fished for halibut and salmon and caught some of each and shipped them home to eat with our friends. We bought a print and a sculpture I see every day in my living room.

In Alaska I was crazy in love. I still am.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fall Is Back. We Just Don't Know It.

I used to look across a lake late at night and listen to these, while the leaves came down.

Simon and Garfunkel

Lou Reed

Don McLean

Jerry and the Boys

The Beatles

Monday, September 1, 2008

Reading Is Fundamental

"School starts tomorrow," I said.

My youngest glowered at me from the couch. "So?" he demanded.

"You'll have to learn to walk upright again," I told him.

He turned his attention back to the television and silently dismissed me.

Since baseball ended he hasn't done much of anything. I force him to play a little basketball every day; if I'm paying a fortune for a try out he better make the most of it. Besides that, however, I'm not sure he's been moving between breakfast and dinner.

This is nothing compared to our spectacular parenting failure on the reading front. Through some inexplicable quirk of academic evaluation, each of our three boys have been selected over the years to participate in summer enrichment courses. It's a multi-school district attempt to provide a little extra for kids who at least peer through the talented and gifted fence, four hours a day during the month of June. Course offerings range from biology to theater to history, all led by enthusiastic teachers in an environment that encourages learning. Naturally my kids hate it.

The oldest, being the oldest and thus getting the short end of the stick, had to attend the most years. The middle boy wore us down a little earlier. The youngest, sensing the exhaustion that so often accrues to the benefit of those who share his birth order, convinced us he didn't need to do it this year.

"Alright," we told him, raising our voices to be heard over the howls of our other children. "You need to read at least an hour a day instead."

"I will, I swear," he replied.

"He never has to do anything!" shrieked the middle one.

"This is bullcrap!" thundered the oldest.

"You'll read, won't you?" I asked the youngest.

"I promise."

He did read, I suppose, if you include the back of cereal boxes, the crawl at the bottom of ESPN, and an occasional Sports Illustrated article. Not an hour a day, though. Maybe an hour a week. This didn't bother me as much when he was at least playing two or three hours of baseball every day. Watching him sit on the couch like a lump, though, that chaps me.

Which is why I told him this weekend he owes me ninety hours of reading this fall.

"I can't read that much," he complained while his brothers danced in glee.

"Sure you can," I said. "I'll help you pick out books."

"You read terrible books," he snarled.

"Dad doesn't read books. He reads blogs," said the middle one.

"That's because Dad likes his blogs better than us," said the youngest.

"Yes I do," I said. "I can still find you some books to read."

"I'm not reading for ninety hours."

"Was there something in my voice that made you think it was a request? Because it wasn't."

"I hate you," he said.

"Why do you think I have my blogs?" I asked.