I just noticed a two-inch long horizontal cut on my leg. It's mostly healed now, but it looks like it may have been kinda deep. I have no memory of when where or how I got this injury, so clearly, something has been implanted in my leg while I was asleep.

Top 10 Things Potentially Implanted In My Leg While I Was Asleep:

10. Alien implant

9. Tracking device

8. Explosives

7. DVD Remote

6. Cigarettes

5. House Key

4. Grocery List

3. First Aid Kit

2. Ratchet Set

1. Allowance*

* My parents didn't believe in "allowance" when I was a kid, they thought it taught a poor work ethic to just give me money on a regular basis, so they would surgically implant it in my body while I slept. I would never know exactly where they put it, so I had to feel around my body for the lumpy, painful, stitched area. Then, when I had found the deposit, I had to cut the stitches and dig out the cash with my fingers or a kitchen spoon, which took a long time and hurt really bad. Sometimes I wouldn't be able to find it at all, and I would have to just wait until it got infected, then go to a doctor and have the doctor remove it. This all built a lot of character and taught me a lot about work ethic and saving money. I had to pay for the doctors with my allowance, too, so it also taught me about medical debt. My parents were really cool.


Yesterday was Memorial Day, which is an American national holiday memorializing something or other, I don't remember... But anyway, whatever it's about, the American workforce gets the day off. So how did I spend this glorious sunny holiday? Well, I had no big plans, I was getting bored, so I decided:
It Will Be Fun to Go Get Drunk On The Beach By Myself In the Middle of the Day.
I've never done it before, I have nothing better to do, why not? So I grab a blanket, I grab a book, I grab my "Camel Pack" water bottle, the kind with a straw built into the lid, I fill it with all my remaining liquor--Brandy, Kahlua Especial, and a little Gran Marnier--add a Moxie soda for a mixer, and hop in the old Hyundai. I'm off to the beach.

It's a short trip from my house to the beach, so while I'm driving I get out the water bottle for a little pre-loading. The thing that I'm forgetting is that since this water bottle has a built in straw that reaches all the way to the bottom, the slightest increase in internal pressure causes its contents to rise up the straw, and...out. This can even happen with plain water, just from being warmed up a few minutes. So in this case, being under high pressure from a bottle of highly carbonated soda...I flip open the mouthpiece and, with a great burst of spray, the bottle ejaculates a cascade of soda and liquor onto the ceiling of my car, my seats, and all over my own self.

Amusing, yes, laugh at me, sure, but this is only a foreshadow of the spewing that's to come later that evening.

So I arrive at Golden Gardens Park, aka The Beach. I throw out my blanket, remove my shirt and socks, and lay out in my dark jeans, realizing I don't even own a pair of shorts. I take long pulls off my "water" bottle and lay there soaking up the sun. Low-flying planes spin out of control as their pilots are blinded by my torso.

After a while, I receive a text from my ex-girlfriend / current-friend, and I invite her to join me at the beach. I tell her that I didn't bring enough liquor to achieve my goals, and she asks if she should bring Skyy. I say yes, absolutely--but it turns out that Skyy is a person, not a Vodka. But Skyy the person brings a can of Tilt and a Heineken. So it's ok. Oh and my ex brings a flask of 151. So...it's ok.

So, we all three sit there on the blanket, three very white youths dressed in black, enjoying the beach and drinking a great deal of alcohol. The thing that I have not taken into consideration during all this is that I haven't eaten anything all day except a Hot Dog. Yes, a Hot Dog. So all this beveraging is catching up to me faster than I expected. Soon I have achieved my goal, I am Drunk On The Beach In The Middle of the Day, (although not by myself) and it's pretty much everything I hoped it would be, except that my stomach is not feeling all that great. It's time to go eat some dinner.

We get into my ex's car. They get into the front seats. I get into the trunk. This is New Experience #2--I've never been locked in a trunk before. It's kind of fun, until the driver of the car starts intentionally swerving around and wailing on speed bumps. I yell at her to stop, and I'm waiting to get out when I notice something that makes me laugh: There is a door handle inside the trunk, lit up in glow-in-the-dark green. The fact that Volkswagen actually thought about this scenario and added this feature makes me laugh a good, hearty chuckle and feel better about the state of mankind.

Note to Mafia types--Volkswagen Passat is not the car for you or your business.

So we arrive at the restaurant in Capitol Hill, the estimable Pho' Cyclo. If you've never been to a Pho' restaurant, Pho' (pronounced "Fuh") is a Vietnamese soup consisting mainly of noodles, broth, and various types of boiled meat. The menu has two categories, "Pho' Beginner" and "Pho' Master". The first category is regular meats like sliced steak, chicken, etc. The second category is slightly stranger fare like "fatty flank" and "soft tendon". (I can only assume there is a secret 3rd category, "Pho' Supergrand Masterlord", that contains menu items containing less chicken and beef, more cat eyeballs and human genitals.)

I usually stick with the basic sliced steak, but since I'm slightly buzzed at the moment I order from the "Master" menu--Bring me fatty flanks and tendons! This would no doubt have induced the vomiting my stomach so desperately desired by this point, but it never got the chance, because immediately after ordering I decided I would be more comfortable hanging out in the restroom for a while. So this became the climax of my Memorial Day memories. Me, in the Pho' restaurant restroom, singing death-metal vocals into the porcelain microphone. So, all in all, it was a Memorial Day I'm glad I won't have much memory of.


Oh is that it, Blue Space? Thank you for reminding me. I can always count on you to remind, correct, and contradict me.


I'm not totally sure you're correct on this one, though, to be honest...


No...I'm pretty sure it's not, I'm pretty sure Memorial Day is in honor of...Sea Vampires...


Yeah...because of all they've contributed to this nation? Not only do they keep the Pirate population under control, but think of all the other services they provide.


Well, there's the obvious ones, like search and rescue--


Yes, well, that may be true, but would you rather be a drowned corpse, or a healthy happy Sea Vampire, roaming the open seas, staying active in your community, wearing high-collared capes? Think about that, Blue Space.


That's what I thought. So, listing them off, there's Pirate control, search and rescue, message-in-bottle delivery...they kick up waves for surfers, they clean algae off the undersides of boats, they popularized Water Wings in the 80s...


Let's not forget they're also considered a delicacy in many cultures, and their bone marrow produces some of the finest chocolate in the world...


Good, Blue Space, thank you. So, Washington D.C huh? Did you actually get elected congressman or whatever back when you were doing all that?


Wow, so you actually beat out Pablo McDougal? That guy had serious charisma! And the votes of both this nation's key ethnic demographics: Latino and Irish...


Alright, well that's not necessary...


Wow, that's a pretty good impression, Blue Space. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree...


Alright, well we should go now. Goodnight, readership.


I returned yesterday from a week long road trip to Nashville, Tennessee with friend Karl. We arrived in the city on Monday afternoon and immediately hit South Broadway where the Honky Tonks host live music all day and night and all the musicians work for tips. Had a grilled cheese sandwich and a beer at Robert's Western World where they sell beer and boots and are known as the "home of traditional country music". Dave Cox played "only songs that were written before I was born" or original material. Notice the "tip jar" to the left of the stage. All of the musicians who entertain on South Broadway work for "tips" only. This is called "starting on the ground floor" of the country music business.During the week we also stopped in at Tootsie's World Famous Orchid Lounge, The Stage, and The Wildhorse Saloon but kept coming back to Robert's for the best time. Best original song I heard was a song about an ex girl friend titled "I Thought You Were My Girl But It Was Just My Turn". On Thursday afternoon we toured the Country Music Hall of Fame and on Friday attended The Grand Old Opry.
We were in Nashville to attend a "Transformational Preaching" conference that presented 17 powerful speakers including Barbara Brown Taylor, Fred Craddock, Thomas Long, James Forbes, and Will Campbell. We were also entertained and inspired by Sweet Honey in the Rock. It was a great week of learning, fun, and seeing old friends.


I don't know if this is true for the rest of America, but here in Washington State, they are really concerned about our safety. In particular, they really want us to wear our seatbelts. The state government sheds a fat, shiny tear every time someone gets hurt in a car accident, so they have made it their personal quest to make sure YOU always wear your seatbelt. This is not a suggestion, it is the law, you MUST wear that belt so that you don't hurt yourself, and to hammer home the seriousness of this law, they created this slogan, a rhyming masterpiece of locutional minimalism:


Lately, this slogan has been blinking menacingly on all the Amber Alert screens on every freeway and highway around here, followed by the announcement that they are stepping up patrols in order to utterly wipe out the non-seatbelt-wearer menace. So, given this new enthusiasm our government has for our safety, and how effective "Click It Or Ticket" has been in eliminating incidents of people not clicking it, I thought I would come up with some more clever slogans in the same spirit as the seatbelt campaign…

It's good to know our government is looking out for us. If I make sure to click it every time, they might even let me have a sleepover this weekend!


As you know, my job is to supervise visitation between foster kids and their biological parents. Today during my morning case, the kid's social worker showed up to observe the visit. And she was a stone fox. Much to my dismay after meeting her, she informed me that my role in this case is going to be ending, because it's been determined, based on what I've been reporting in my Visit Logs, that the dad is safe and doesn't need to be supervised anymore. So, I will never see Hot Social Worker again. What do I do? Well, if it's my visit reports that are convincing them to end supervision….then the obvious solution is…

Take some creative license with my reports…..

Road Trip

Yesterday afternoon I departed from home to drive to Quakertown, Pa. to begin a road trip with friend and colleague, Karl. This first leg of the trip was 4 1/2 hours of gray skies, intermittent rain, listening to a cd of Greg Brown singing about love, slow food, and "I want my country back".
After church this morning, Karl and I climbed into my little red Nissan Versa to drive to Nashville where we will participate in a week long conference (more about that later). This afternoons' trip covered 442 miles through the green hills of Pennsylvania, Maryland,West Virginia, and Virginia. Karl and I talked about family, work, retirement, politics, music, and life as we moved along in our conversational nook at 70 mph. My experience is that road trips create the right conditions for honest and lively dialogue. There is something about the hum of the tires, the passing landscape, and a minimum of distractions (this depends on the other drivers) that enhances conversation. We arrived in Wytheville, VA. at 8pm and shared a fine dinner at the local Ruby Tuesday. A good beginning to a new adventure.


I recently began accepting applications from my friends to star in their own brand new stories about Hitler and WWII, written by me. Here are the first two finalists, and their rousing stories!


(An Oral-History Story-Prose Screenplay In Six Parts)

By Isaac Marion

The first scene starts out with a shot of Rainier Ave, in Seattle WA. It's like, the Ghetto, like Compton in California or something, except it's World War II. The camera zooms in on a house where the main character, Christina, lives. She is gardening or something, when suddenly a black limo pulls up and these government agents get out. They kick down Christina's front door and she's like "Hey, I'm out in the yard, gardening." So they put the door back and come out to the yard and flash FBI badges or something. I don't know if the FBI had happened yet in WWII, but whatever, the FBI is awesome. So they're all like "Christina, Hitler is trying to kill all those other countries with his army! We need you to help us by stopping him!"
So Christina thinks about it for a minute and then she's like "Ok."

The government agents put her in the limo and drive her to a WWII airplane in the government airport and she gets in it and starts flying to Germany.

We cut to one of those shots where you see a map and there's like a line moving across the map to show where she's going, and it turns out it's Germany. As soon as she gets there all these German airplanes appear out of nowhere and start shooting their guns at Christina's plane. But she dodges all of them. Then she puts her plane on auto pilot and jumps out into mid air and kicks all the German planes so they explode. Then all the tanks and army troops come out but the airplanes fall on them and they both all explode. This scene is incredible.

So the whole German army is dead but suddenly when you least expect it you hear this deep voice from out of nowhere that's like, "Christina!!!!" And the camera pans over and you see that it's Hitler, flying in mid-air in a sweet jetpack. He's like "I will kill you!" or something, and he flies right at Christina. But at the last second Christina dodges him and he flies into a haycart and explodes.

So Hitler is dead and suddenly WWII is over and everyone knows that the world is safe, so everyone comes out of their cities and does this big parade to celebrate. The president of America calls Christina on her cell phone while she's flying back home and he's like "Thanks, you saved the whole world."

Christina is like, "Don't mention it" and then the president is like "I want you to have something," and it turns out that it's America! He gives America to her for a reward for saving everybody, so Christina becomes the new president and the first woman president at the same time, so then there's like, another parade.

The End


(An Oral-History Story-Prose Screenplay In Six Parts)

By Isaac Marion

The first scene starts out in the past. It's a prologue or something. You see some shots of times in the past, like the 18 hundreds or something, with horses and buggies and stuff, and then it flashes back to the present, where the main character, Emily, lives. It's the present, sortof, except it's World War II. So Emily is this like alternative chick and she has a lip ring, so when the president is watching her with the government spy cameras he's kind of not sure she's the right candidate, but he realizes she is awesome so he sends his bodyguards anyway to pick her up at her apartment in Bellingham, WA. (At that period in history Bellingham was mostly swamp. So they pick her up out of a swamp.)

They try to clean her off a little bit and then they fly her to Washington D.C. The president meets her at the baggage claim with a sign that says "Emily?" so Emily is like "Hi, are you the president?" and he says yes. Some violin music or something starts going on the soundtrack so you can tell there's like a romantic interest or something, and there's some close-up shots of Emily's eyes and the president's eyes. (The president during WWII was only 25, and pretty good looking, so it's not weird.)

The president tells her about how Hitler is taking over the Jews and killing all these European countries, and how he's probably going to start attacking America pretty soon, so he needs to be killed, PRONTO. Emily doesn't even blink she's just like "Give me a jet with machine guns"—but those haven't been invented yet. So the president is like "those haven't been invented yet" but he gives her the next best thing, a tank that's painted bright red like a fire truck. So she gets in the tank and drives it to Germany, and doesn't even think twice she just starts shooting everything, and she never misses. Plus tank bullets are like, bombs sortof too, so they explode and there are lots of good explosions going all over the place. Oh and the music here is really dramatic, with a lot of violins and trumpets and stuff.

So the whole German army is surrounding Emily's tank and shooting at her, but they keep missing and they are getting blown up all over the place. Then all of a sudden Emily gets this tough look on her face and she puts a brick on the gun-shooting pedal so that the tank just keeps shooting, and she jumps out onto the top of the tank and pulls out two normal guns, and starts shooting both of them, so the tank is shooting AND Emily is shooting both her guns, so people are getting killed everywhere, and in a few minutes the whole German army is pretty much dead, except for a few army guys who are still alive, but she kills them.

So now the whole German army is dead, and from out of nowhere you hear this big evil voice saying something, and the camera moves over and you see Hitler coming up out of the ground in this huge Japanimation robot suit. He's like, "I will kill you!" or something, and starts shooting all these crazy lazers and lightning balls at Emily's tank. Emily jumps off the tank just before it explodes, and flies through the air for a while and then lands on the ground. She looks up at the robot suit and says some kind of tough line, like "No, you will kill YOURSELF, by letting me kill you, because I am going to now!" And then she does.

So Hitler is dead, and so all the buildings and stuff in Germany dissolve in this puff of smoke because Hitler's power is broken. Then everyone realizes that the world has been saved and has a huge party where most of them get really drunk. The president of America sends a limozine that flies to pick up Emily and take her back to America, and since it's a flying limozine it doesn't have any wheels, just big airplane wings and propellers, so it's faster. She gets home really fast, and the president meets her at the baggage claim holding a sign that says, "Will you marry me?" Emily can't believe her eyes. She says no and they don't get married, but they make out in the gift shop for like half an hour.

The End


Once again I am trapped in the Lynwood CPS office doing a visit, but the options for child entertainment have expanded. That's right, I am now watching the final chapter in the epic large-dog trilogy, Beethoven's 3rd.

The previous installment, Beethoven's 2nd, was released in 1993, and this latest came along 7 years later, in 2000. One wonders how after seven years, some producer suddenly remembers this brilliant concept--Giant dog + People = Hilarity, and decides it's time to revive the franchise. Of course, "revive" is a pretty strong word, because Beethoven's 3rd is not a legitimate sequel, it's the kind of low-budget, churned-out straight-to-video trash that moves directly from the shooting set to the 2.99$ DVD bargain bins at Walmart, without passing go or collecting any dollars.

So, Beethoven's 3rd. Let's have a look.

The first thing one notices about this new film is that it has pretty much nothing to do with the first two films. The original cast has been replaced by a crew of actors whose previous project was probably modeling for Kmart junk-mail catalogues. This crew is led by the Dad character, played by screen legend Judge Reinhold, in a performance sure to earn him an Oscar nomination for "Worst…Stupid…Acting"…if the Academy ever creates this category like I've been asking them to.

So, times have changed since 1993--this new, alternate Newton family is pretty much the reverse of the old one. In 1993, kids were cheerful and good-hearted, but now, in 2000, the young daughter is now a sassy little brat recording everything with a video camera, and the sweet, nerdy son of Beethoven 1 and 2 has been replaced by the archetypal Asshole Son so popular in modern film, complete with baggy pants, razor-tongued dialog, and plenty of Attitude. The dad is still a bumbling idiot who means well, but the mom is now a histrionic shrew instead of the patient, longsuffering woman of the original films. How Beethoven ends up in this thoroughly modern Newton family instead of the idealized one he grew up with is a rather muddled plot point. This new Judge Reinhold dad is the brother of the original Charles Grodin dad, and apparently they are going to be vacationing in the same area. For reasons unclear to me, the Original Newtons have Beethoven shipped to the Modern Newtons--in a huge metal crate like the one used to transport the Raptors in Jurassic Park--so that they can…bring him? To the vacation area? Or something? I have no idea where Beethoven was being shipped from, or why the Original Newtons didn't just bring him with them wherever they were going, but this is the plot, and we have to live with it.

The dynamic between Beethoven and the family has changed drastically. In the original films, Beethoven arrived as a sort of savior, beloved by the children, and serving as a silent protector of the family from the various sinister characters. In this film, the son hates him, the daughter is vaguely tolerant of him, and the parents mostly ignore him. He mostly just causes problems for the family and destroys their property. This is all strangely sad to witness, on some kind of weird subtext level. Beethoven arrives in this crate, transported from another universe. Transported from films that played in theaters, featuring known actors, with actual production values, to this surreal, straight-to-video-trash alternate universe, where he has no logical place in the plot, no relevance, and where even the characters don't seem to notice he is there. What if this happened to you? What if you woke up one day and found yourself in some alien situation, with people you don't really seem to know, just kind of drifting through a day to day plot that doesn't make sense? Is Beethoven's 3rd an elaborate metaphor for the alienation and essential loneliness of modern man, lost in a complex, dysfunctional, and soul-less modern society? Maybe, maybe…

The "plot", as it were, of this film, revolves around the obligatory Two Bumbling Villains pursuing the Newton Family on their trip. Apparently they encoded some kind of evil computer program onto a DVD in a video store? Which the Newtons then rented and took on their trip? I don't know. But anyway, the villains, two twenty-something nerds played by actors who will never have careers, chase the Newtons across the country, and perform various slapstick routines. You know, the usual schtick of being sprayed with poo-poo, covered in concrete, driving into lakes, etc. I think the theory is that anytime a human being gets covered in a fluid of some kind, people will laugh. Because, I mean, people aren't supposed to be covered in a fluid, right? It's all wet and icky. Hence, comedy.

So, they travel around, the guys chase them, hijinks, hilarity…. It's interesting watching a movie with the volume turned down low, because it all becomes kind of vague and dreamlike. At some point I think I lost track of the plot, because suddenly the Newtons are involved in a Wild West gunfight scene being performed by Sumo wrestlers? And everyone is wearing Sumo outfits, I don't know, I just don't know.

Ultimately, I just didn't care about the plot or the characters in Beethoven's 3rd. At the end of the film, when they arrived at the Newton family reunion, I had this surge of hope that we would catch a glimpse of Charles Grodin and the original cast, and that some link would be made between this pale, nightmarish world of bargain-bin obscurity and the bright, sunny world of the original films I've come to know and love so much. I knew this was unlikely, but how could they tie up the plot without this reunification taking place? I waited with held breath.

Of course, it didn't happen. Some old man at the reunion told them that the Newtons couldn't make it to the reunion and in fact, they were going to be absent for another year? Or something? So this family would have to continue to take care of Beethoven for another year? And also, here's the rest of the dogs, Beethoven's offspring? It didn't make much sense to me, but my heart dropped. Our beloved St. Bernard would spend another whole year trapped in this strange shadow-world, cut off from the people he loves, who are played by actors who have been in more than one film, and may still act again in other films. Beethoven will remain isolated and unloved, adrift in this cold, empty universe, alone, without a voice.

Beethoven's 3rd may be one of the most depressing films I have ever seen. When I get home I'm going to drink a bottle of vodka and watch the first two Beethovens over and over until I fall asleep on the couch in a crust of dried tears.

The Smothers Brothers

Last Saturday evening, Mary and I, had the pleasure of spending the evening at the beautiful Proctors Theatre in Schenectady with the Smothers Brothers. It felt like we were with old friends who had invited us into their home. Tommy and Dickie demonstrated the same quick wit, humor, and musical ability that made their 70's television program such a hit. This clip from a concert with the Boston Pops will give you a taste of what we experienced. Click here.
They also demonstrated some of the satire and political commentary that got them kicked off television three decades ago. In a long "bit" about lying, Tommy finally admitted that he lied because it is "national policy". It was a fun and entertaining evening.


I rescued a puppy!

You should have seen me, Blue Space, I was a godmamn hero.


Yes sir. I bet I put your Red Crescent adventures to shame.


Don't use sarcasm with me right now, Blue Space, I'm about to tell you about an evening that refreshed my spirit and restored my zest for living. Don't bring your "a'ittude" into this.


Stop it, stop your relentless sarcasm. I want good vibes in the air. Good vibes, not those cheesy vibes they use in smooth jazz and elevator music. And Baby Mozart.


Ok. That's actually a little much, but thanks. Ok, so to understand this story we need to back up a little and establish that I have had a horrible series of weeks, possibly even years. Due to cancellations like the one mentioned above, my work hours have been temporarily but vastly reduced, leaving me with unexpected amounts of free time. Not prepared to exploit this free time and frustrated by a sudden lack of purpose, (and money) I spent my days lounging about in my apartment, walking in circles, staring at walls. Doing nothing, basically. And this is just the latest expression of a long-standing malaise, a cancerous mass of emotional scars and cynicism that has been gradually converting me from the wild-eyed, journal-keeping, letter-writing, Mod Poging, music-loving, girl-pining artsy fartsy mental case of my youth to a dead-eyed, dull-dayed, tax doing, rent paying, world-hating, washed out, washed up old husk.


Oh are you?


Talk of suffering gets your attention does it? Like blood in the water for man-eating sharks or vampires?


Sea-Vampires do, obviously.


Uh, who do you think keeps the Pirate population levels under
control, Blue Space? The Coast Guard? Yeah right. They're not equipped for culling herds. Most of them aren't even college graduates. If it wasn't for Sea-Vampires the oceans would be so teeming with Pirates that they would consume all their food sources and probably be extinct within a decade. Is that what you want?


Of course it's not what you want. Can I continue my story?


Ok, so, there I am living through yet another painfully protracted week of frustration and repetition, holed up in my apartment like the guy in Oldboy, and once again I get a call telling me my evening appointment is canceling. Having been recently discussing my descent into mediocrity with my train-hopping, Kerouac-reading, bohemian friend, Nichole, and being urged by her to break the "normalcy" of my life, I decide to alter my routine and go to Discovery park.


I am continuing, Blue Space, you didn't need to say continue, I would have just continued anyway.


I am. So, it's sundown at Discovery park, and I'm walking through this vast natural world just 10 minutes from Downtown, a wide open plain, then a forest with winding trails, then a beach with a lighthouse. I stroll through all this, pretty much the only person in the whole park, as it's positively freezing out. The sun goes down, it gets dark, and I head back to the car. On the way, I start to hear this dog barking way off in the distance. It's not a casual dog bark, it's mournful and desperate, repeating over and over again. Something is clearly wrong. I follow the sound, imagining the possible scenarios, such as, the dog's master has fallen off a cliff and lies dying, or someone has put out a tape player with a repeated dog -in-distress loop to lure passersby into the woods, where I will be mugged. Or Timmy has fallen down the well, or it's a robot dog.

I follow the sound to its source, which is in the middle of something that can only be described as a thicket, or maybe brambles, or maybe a briar patch, in which case that would make the dog in question Br'er Dog. Is that how that's spelled? I guess I'm eliminating the "I" and replacing the "A" with an "E". Anyway--


Dammit Blue Space, I was. That's what "Anyway" means.


Anyway, there I am listening to Br'er Dog plead for his life, and the only thing between us is a huge, impenetrable expanse of densely woven brush, branches, and coils of razor sharp thorn vines. I look around. It's completely dark. There's ice on the grass. No one is around. This dog must be saved.

So, dressed not in work boots and a leather motorcycle jacket, but dressy shoes and an urbane wool pea-coat, I crash into the thicket.

It takes an incredibly long time to get to Br'er Dog. The brush is up to my neck, and walking through it is like forcing my way through giant industrial-size steel wool. With thorns. I'm advancing so slowly that I start to wonder if B. Dog is backing away from me in fear as I approach, which I would totally understand since by this time I am crashing violently against the bushes, stomping and thrashing and cursing like some kind of stomping thrashing cursing guy. But finally, my tiny LED keychain flashlight illuminates B. Dog's face, and somewhere up in Heaven, angels rejoice, and sprinkle angel dust down on this thicket. Not…angel dust. Angel…powder. Angel sparkles. Is sparkles a drug term? Ok, they sprinkle angel sparkles.

The situation is thus. B. Dog is a small Terrier type beastie whose leash is utterly tangled in the br'er patch. I dig down to his level and detach the leash, then carefully pull him out of the stickers, hoist him up above the treeline, and crash my way out of the brush. You should have seen how heroic this looked, I mean really, the only way it could have been more heroic would be if B. Dog was a voluptuous 18th century maiden with ripped bodice, and I was Fabio.

So, I haul B. Dog out of the thicket and take him back to my car. He's soaking wet and it's freezing out, so he's shivering uncontrollably, so I have to kind of wrap his nasty wet-dog ass into my nice coat…stinks, dog hair everywhere…Anyway, I take him back to my car, and, long story short, I find the owner, who had gone home to get a flashlight to search. The owner is a middle-aged man, but my hopes of delivering the dog to a tearfully grateful voluptuous 21st century maiden are briefly revived when he mentions it's his daughter's dog…but she turns out to be 16, and not even all that voluptuous. Probably not even a maiden, for that matter.

So in the end, it didn't turn out all that dramatically, but the point is, when does this kind of stuff happen? How often do you rescue a puppy from a sinister thicket? That kind of thing hardly ever happens inside my apartment, I know that much. There aren't even any thickets in there.

The whole event just struck me as some kind of omen. In fact the middle aged man even said so, said it was a good way to start 2007, rescuing a puppy. And then on my way back from this adventure, I picked up a pair of elderly hitchhikers who only wanted me to take them about 5 blocks. The old man even complimented my car, which he referred to as a "Hondai". (this is what people over 50 call Hyundais.)

What does it all mean, you ask? How is this significant? I don't know exactly. But scabs are falling off, calluses are being ground down, and it will probably hurt soon, but I would say that hurt is unequivocally better than numb, and you can't walk around all the time bundled up like the little brother in A Christmas Story. That little punk couldn't even move.

Blue Space, you look like you have something to say. You want to offer an opinion on the direction my life is going? Got any sage advice? Didn't you used to be an actual sage? On like a mountain in Tibet kind of thing?




Oh we're back to that huh? It's all about that again already?


They're going to, Blue Space. Soon. No joke. I talked to one. She's going to call. She's just nervous. Maybe you should call her. That's the man's roll, isn't it? I thought you were a pretty old-fashioned guy.


Well, that might not be appropriate… No, I think I'll let her wait for her own good time. Just…you better stay by the phone, because she said she's only going to call once, and she doesn't leave voicemails. So….you have to stay by the phone. Until she calls.


I'll try to remember.

Goodnight people.

The Best Laid Plans

90% of Greensburg, Kansas was destroyed in just a few moments last week by a tornado. Like most small cities in the Mid-West, Greensburg was a carefully planned town. As you can see in the above photo, the streets were laid out in a careful grid. The planning was deliberate, organized, structured, and well thought out. The purpose was to help the residents feel comfortable and safe as they traveled to and fro throughout their town. It is these streets alone that are familiar now. Most residents would find it very difficult if not impossible to identify their property now if this grid work hadn't survived.
Chaos breaks into our lives unexpected and unwelcome. the familiar landmarks of our carefully constructed lives are destroyed and we feel adrift, without moorings. Then we become aware that something, something familiar, something trustworthy remains and we begin to find our way once again. That something has many names; hope, love, courage, community, faith. The residents of Greensburg speak of those things now. They talk of gratitude that their lives were spared, they speak of hope as they plan to rebuild.
Click here for some more incredible aerial photos of the devastation. As you look at these photos, think of all the lives that have been affected. Pray that they would have courage and hope and faith and know that those prayers have already been answered. The rebuilding, the planning, and the dreaming has already begun.

25 IS THE NEW OLD (Deathcab, Mcdonalds, and your Parents)

As I write this I'm sitting in a McDonalds in Federal Way, supervising a visit. The walls are garishly painted, covered in posters with larger-than-life photos of well-manicured chicken sandwiches, bold colors and bold slogans, declaring prices, flavors, and how much everyone is lovin' it. Teenage skater kids and down-and-out black folk fill every table, making a steady buzz of chewing and chatter, and over all this, the sound of Death Cab For Cutie's "Your Heart is an Empty Room" tinkles gently from the overhead PA speakers.


It suddenly hits me how surreal this is.
When I was 17, just leaving the parents' house and just starting to get exposed to "good music", Death Cab was one of a few household names that all my new friends knew about, along with Radiohead, Sunny Day Real Estate, Pedro the Lion, and maybe Portishead. Their latest album was We Have the Facts and We are Voting Yes. All these bands were so obscure (relatively speaking) that knowing them was sort of a badge of potential, indicating that you might be an interesting person who does interesting things, thinks about interesting things, or at least appreciates interesting things. Who would have ever thought that a secret-handshake band like Death Cab would within a few years be part of the decor at the largest restaurant chain in the world, the prime champion of low culture, the icon and epicenter of all of society's most base instincts? The place with the really annoying radio commercials that always come in sets of two?

I don't resent Death Cab for being successful. I'm not the kind of guy who accuses bands of "selling out" just because they start getting some airplay. I understand the cold reality of the music biz and I know that any band in their right mind would jump at the chance to do what Death Cab is doing. The fact that they're being played at McDonalds doesn't bother me--it just makes me feel really, really old.

Have we already become our parents? Are the bands I grew up with now "the classics"? Am I already the gray-haired old dude with the worn out tour t-shirt, telling today's young punks how there ain't been one good rock band come out since Led Zepp?

This happened way too fast. I'm not ready for this role.

Although, I am a little excited to see the commercials for The Best of Indie Rock! Vol. 1 with the names of songs scrolling up the screen (some highlighted in yellow!) while two middle aged scenesters in Chucks and hoodies hold copies of the CD and exclaim to each other, Wow! I NEVER thought I'd find every song I ever lightly bobbed my head to collected all on one CD by a team of cultural analysts and focus groups! This is GREAT!

It is truly spring!

It has been thirty days since my last post. I have been missing, absent, truant, gone, from the blogosphere. Thank you to those who have noticed and have urged me to get back on the keyboard. It has been a month of adapting to an exciting and flexible retirement schedule filled with activities and challenges. Someone wrote that retirement was the appetizer part of life because you get to pick and choose what you like. My experience so far is that it is more like an all you can eat buffet with a vast variety of dishes. Each dish is filling and nutritious. In these past four weeks I have spent quality time with each grandchild visiting museums and libraries, playing in the park, and listening to their laughter. I am taking three classes through the Academy for Learning in Retirement and have traveled by train to Niagara Falls, Canada with John, my son's adult transition group. We have also attended a Billy Joel Concert and a Wierd Al Yankovich performance and the musical, The Putnam County Spelling Bee. There has also been the smaller but no less sweeter joys of cleaning house, cooking dinner, paying bills, having dinner with friends and planting the garden. All new activities to me in this post-work world I am experiencing. Similar to the all you can eat buffet, I am tempted to over indulge and consume more then is healthy. I am learning to pick and choose activities and opportunities with more care.

The icing on the cake has been the arrival of Spring. The sign we look for in our household is the blooming of our flowering crab apple tree. This morning it greeted us with a magnificent display of pink flowers. My thoughts turned to this prayer by Ted Loder titled; Be With Me in My Unfolding.

It is spring, Lord, and the land is coming up green again,

unfolding outside my well-drawn boundaries and urgent schedules.

And there is the mystery and the smile of it.

The willows are dripping honey color into the rivers,

and the mother birds are busy in manger nests,

and I am learning again that

"for everything there is a season

and a time for every matter under heaven."

O Lord, you have sketched the lines of spring.

Be with me in my unfolding.


Some Facts and Figures

Estimated days until I obliterate a street-crossing pedestrian while taking a right turn: 64

Odor level in my garbage disposal: Potentially Fatal

Number of Wine Bottles I Just Dumped in the Cardboard Only Recycle Bin: 3

Number of pickles I've been able to stomach so far in my attempt to empty out this gallon pickle jar: 1

Political Awareness: Low (Shouldn't someone be doing something about that stuff going on in the mid-east?)

World-Affairs Anxiety:
High. (Concerned that Congress is not doing enough to make self-propelled human flight a reality...)

Number of people I know who have recently had people attempt to kill them by blowing them up with a pipe bomb:

Girls I know who have recently been threatened at gunpoint (with shots fired) by psychotic ex-boyfriends who drove from California to attempt suicide in front of them: 2

Black plastic garbage bags in the middle of the street blowing violently in the wind that have turned out to actually be roadkill raccoons writhing in the hideous throes of death, thereby disturbing the holy shit out of me: 1