August 24, 2003

Seen Painted on theCab of an Eighteen Wheeler.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 2:24 pm

“I’m nuckin’ futs.”

I luckin’ fove it.

August 23, 2003

I Wish I Had Said That.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:53 am

“Life, you know, is really just a series of delicious things to eat. Everything that happens in between, well, that’s just cocktails.”

David, at Sketches of Strain, hit the long ball with that one.

August 22, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:07 pm

Born that way says he has only three readers. That’s just not right. I hope this post will provide him with a Parkwaylanche that will double his readership.

Not Here, Mate.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:42 pm

Serenity’s Journal reports that childcare centers in Australia are not permitting children to wear the costumes of superheroes like Superman or Batman. The prohibition is based on the idea (fully supported by valid empirical evidence, no doubt) that the wearing of such costumes encourages aggressive play. I suppose the folks who dreamed this up want the kids to dress up as Albert Schweitzer or Mother Theresa. How very cool.

Funny, I never associated asshattery with Aussies. I guess it’s a globalization thing.

In protest, I will be burning my Crocodile Dundee costume.

August 21, 2003

Shopping – It’s Not All Bad.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:09 pm

Arrrgh! raised the issue of shopping. She noted that, while she is not a great fan of shopping, there are exceptions to the rule, based on what it is she is shopping for. I offered up my two cents worth in her comment section, but I thought I would amplify my thoughts on the important issue of shopping.

Here are some of places I like to shop:

Liquor Stores.
I absolutely love wandering around liquor stores, the bigger the better. Around here, the big ones are Shopper’s World Liquor and Wine Country. The latter is a supermarket-sized store that sells a dazzling array of booze, wine, beer, and assorted accessories for the drinking person.

For example, the store has damned near an entire aisle devoted to Vodka, which these days is particularly glitzy, given the various designer-type bottles that manufacturers are bottling the wonderful stuff in. There are dark blue ones (Skyy), oddly shaped ones (Friis), and frosted ones (Belvedere, Chopin, and Grey Goose). Now there is also a mouth-watering selection of flavored vodkas (best enjoyed, in my view, direct from the freezer and neat). You can buy vodkas that contain hints of: vanilla, currents, oranges, green apple, hot pepper, cranberry, strawberry, peach, and cranberry. Yowza!!

I also get lost for quite some time in the huge bourbon section. I’ve tried most of them (I’m still working at trying all of them), and when I have a few extra bucks I’ll spring for the single barrel stuff like Woodruff Reserve, Blanton’s, Knob Creek and Baker’s. However, one can never go wrong with Maker’s Mark. Finally, for everyday use (i.e. to get perpendicular to the center of the earth after an aggravating day at work), there is the old standby, Jim Beam.

Not surprisingly, the House by the Parkway has an excellent selection of spirits of all descriptions.

Book Stores.
I believe I could happily go to Barnes & Nobel several times per week for the rest of my life. I have been known to disappear for hours at a time in the History Section, and to go through the tortures of the damned trying to figure out how to leave the store with only one or two books.

And, just to make it even harder to drag yourself out of the store, they sell coffee, tea, juice and nice munchies.

I spend hours at the computer, but one cannot truly RELAX at a computer terminal. However, books go well with a comfortable chair and a place to rest your feet.

Not surprisingly, the House by the Parkway looks not unlike a small library.

Record Stores.
I wonder if anyone under thirty calls these places “record stores,” because there is not a record (those black vinyl things) anywhere to be found in them. I’m good for at least two hours in a large record store, in part because I like so many kinds of music that I look at damned near everything in the store. I do, however, pass on rap, heavy opera, and the kind of jazz where the music seems to have neither a key nor a time signature.

The good thing about being my age is that I can often find real bargains in these places. You know what I mean – in those “bargain bins” where one has to painstakingly look at every CD to find the one treasure for four or five bucks. “Wow! Jay and the Americans Greatest Hits, $3.99!”

Anyway, I invariably leave with a handful of stuff.

Not surprisingly, the House by the Parkway boasts a large collection of CDs, and a shitload of albums (the big, flat, black, round things in the cardboard jackets) and 45’s (the little, flat, black, round things, with the big hole in the middle) in the basement.

Musical Instrument Stores.
I worked in bands for more years than I care to admit (drums, vocals and a bit of guitar), and, once in a while, I still get called upon to “go public.” When I was growing up, our house was always full of music. My dad played guitar and sang his ass off (A native of the Garden State, he could sing country and western music better than some of the pros – Go figure). After supper, he would often drag out his inexpensive f-hole guitar and sit in the kitchen and sing the songs of Jim Reeves and Hank Williams, just to name a couple.

He bought me a cheap guitar when I was about nine and taught me the basic chords (which, frankly was about all he knew). Since then I also learned how to play the hell out of drums, and I got to be a better guitar player than my dad. Over the years I played in bands I spent countless hours in musical instrument stores, often buying necessary things like sticks, pedals, cases, picks, wires, amplifiers. I also have spent hundreds of hours “just looking.” I could easily smoke up an afternoon trying several guitars, both acoustic (I always like to play the 12 stingers) and electric.

Not surprisingly, the House by the Parkway is the home of an old guitar (a Framus) that I bought while I was in the Army, a Gibson Dreadnaught from the sixties that still sounds great, a Paul Reed Smith electric that damned near plays itself, a banjo (which I never took the time to really get the hang of), an electric keyboard, and, of course, a beautiful, full set of Ludwig black pearl drums (those were the money makers).

Here are some places I do not like to shop:

Linen Stores or Linen Departments in Stores.
My tolerance for looking at sheets, pillowcases, bedspreads and similar stuff is just about zero. I also notice that places that sell this kind of merchandise never provide a place to sit for those of us who are sometimes held captive there for a couple hours.

Clothing Stores.
I truly hate buying clothes. I absolutely, completely, and totally loathe shopping for clothes that I have to try on in the store. Unfortunately, one has to have clothing, so I try to: (a) buy as much as I can online, and (b) go as infrequently as possible, but each time I do go I buy lots of things, so that I won’t have to go again soon.

Home Depot.
How I hate that place. I follow the sage advice of Jimbo Fix-It, and limit my tool kit to a hammer, a roll of duct tape and a sturdy butter knife for those occasions when I cannot avoid dealing with a screw. Saws, lathes, planes, pliers, drills, nuts, bolts, lumber, sheetrock, and spackle just don’t do it for me. And, Home Depot has miles and miles of that awful stuff.

That’s all. I’m ready for a drink now.

New Gig, New Name.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:54 pm

My So-Called Blog has changed its name to “Babel On!”. As I mentioned before, the blog’s author left his job of democracy teaching in Russia and is headed for a similar position in Iraq. He has been sharing the details of the journey.

He described his farewells to people with whom he worked in Russia and with whom he had become fast friends in that foreign land. About this, he said what many of us know, but do not admit to ourselves, in similar circumstances:

I will never see any of these people again.”

… When you leave your friends and family in the States, you know you’re coming back eventually. When people leave overseas, there’s a finality to it that’s like death. I will miss the people here. I miss the people who have left before me. And I will miss this place.

At the moment, he is experiencing a visa-related delay, but for which, he would have been in Kuwait for training (which hopefully will include a “duck and cover” segment) by Tuesday.

He is a very interesting guy.

Update: Permalinks are slow and/or not working. The “farewells” post is dated August 19, and the “Visa-related delay” post is dated August 21. Scroll on!

August 20, 2003

An Unintended Souvenir.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:27 pm

I returned from Bermuda with a fairly predictable clutch of souvenirs. I brought home coconut liqueur available only in Bermuda, assorted fragrances sold at low, low prices, some British stuff (in honor of Tony Blair – a stand-up guy), a couple calendars that feature pictures of Bermuda’s pink-sand beaches and the obligatory dirt-cheap tobacco products (as compared to the price of $58.00 for a carton of smokes in New Jersey). I also brought home an interesting piece of coral, which cost me nothing. The only problem is that the coral was embedded in the bottom of my right foot.

I picked up this special gift as a result of renting one of these. After blasting around at high speed with my friends who also rented these water rockets (and reliving my motorcycle days of the sixties, sort of), we stopped at a tiny island for a rest and a swim in the crystal clear Bermuda water. In dismounting the contraption, I managed to step directly on a piece of coral, giving myself three small cuts on the bottom of my foot. Not wanting to whine about cutting my foot and looking like a big baaaaaby, I pretended that it didn’t hurt and did the beach thing without saying the “oooches” and “ouches” that I wanted to say each time I stepped on my right foot.

The exhilaration of the speed of the return trip made me forget about my cut foot. Upon arriving at the place where we rented the wave runners, we were directed to approach the pontoon dock one at a time so that the attendant could get the rider onto the pontoon dock and run the wave runner up onto the dock to await the next group of crazy renters. I was the last to execute this maneuver.

I pulled the Jet Ski a few feet from the pontoon dock, and the attendant pulled it against the dock (at least I though he did), so I could get off. When it was time to step from the wave runner to the pontoon dock, I put my weight on my recently cut foot (the one still on the wave runner), causing me to immediately to try to readjust my weight so as to take some of the weight off my “oooch, ouch” foot.

So, now I had my good foot on the dock and my “oooch, ouch” foot on the wave runner. That’s when I realized that the attendant really didn’t have the wave runner held tightly against the dock, or perhaps he did, but my “ooch, ouch” weight shift loosened his grip. Anyway, the wave runner began to drift away from the dock, taking my “ooch, ouch” foot with it, along with my right leg, which is, of course, attached to my “ooch, ouch” foot. I recalled Popeye’s Olive Oyl being in a similar predicament (Ooooh, Popeye!). However, in the cartoon, Olive’s legs stretched like rubber between the dock and the boat. Mine, unfortunately, did not.

When my legs could not spread any more, I simply gave up and gracefully (as gracefully as possible, anyway) plunged into the water, much to the delight of my friends, the attendant and the group of crazies waiting for their turn to smoke up $105 riding one of these babies.

I swam in the direction of the dock, but the attendant told me to stay away from the dock because there was no ladder and the dock was covered with sharp barnacles. Great. Just what I need. More cuts. I wondered why no ladder. Was I the only clod who ever fell into the drink while trying to get off one of these things?

“Climb onto the back of the wave runner!” shouted the attendant over the collective laughter of the group, as he once again pulled the craft close to the dock. Let me tell you. Climbing onto the back of that thing is much easier said than done. Maybe an 18 year old would be able to effortlessly do it, but dragging my 50+ year old, ample carcass onto the bobbing and shifting wave runner was not easy. However, fear of further embarrassment fueled my successful effort.

Once out of the water, I realized that my foot hurt like hell. I was most concerned about the possibility of infection, as I recalled that coral is comprised of lots of little dead animals. I pictured the unpleasant prospect of some of the not-quite-dead ones taking up residence in my bloodstream and starting a family. When I returned to the ship, I cleaned the cuts, applied some antibiotic ointment and some band-aids, and remained vigilant for subtle signs of infection, such as raging fever and convulsions.

The raging fever and convulsions did not appear, and the discomfort was tolerable. Besides, I was determined that it would not screw up the rest of the trip, and frankly it did not. However, after I arrived home, I noticed that two of the three cuts had stopped hurting and were healing nicely, but the smallest of the three hurt like a son of a bitch when I stepped a certain way on my foot. I had attributed this to the cut’s being directly under the ball of my foot.

It is now two weeks since I cut my foot, and the two large cuts are just about healed, but that one little bastard still hurt like hell. As a result of this I have not been able to do my customary three or four mile walk in the mornings, which has made me sluggish and grumpy. In addition, other body parts were beginning to hurt as a result of adjusting my gait so as to avoid stepping on the “oooch, ouch” spot. As the infamous “They” always say, “When your feet hurt, EVERYTHING hurts.” It’s true.

This morning, while applying the antibiotic gook to my foot, I felt a hard thing scrape against my finger. The careful cutting away of some dead skin and the deft use of a pair of eyebrow tweezers produced a piece of coral from the bottom of my foot that was the size of an average fingernail clipping. The relief was instantaneous. Life was good again.

It was a piece of Bermuda I would just as soon have left behind.

Anyone for a nice long walk?

Lori’s Tea Party.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:14 pm

Lori, at Right We Are, is hosting a tea party, and you’re invited.

In the event you wish to prepare in advance for the party’s agenda, the topic of the teatime discussion is “Ass Chappers,” which are, of course, those things that chap Lori’s ass. The discussion will be exclusively in English, and one would be well advised to leave one’s cell phone at home, or at least turn it off. In addition, the following people might give serious consideration to not attending, unless they wear a flak jacket: OJ, The Clintons, PETA members, peacenik protestors, Jimmy Carter, Jane Fonda, vexatious litigants, race card players, politically correct folks and people from France.

Even though I have described the event as a “discussion,” I think all attendants would be well advised to add a couple heaping teaspoons full of STFU to their orange pekoe and let Lori have the floor to herself.

August 19, 2003

A Most Unsettling Story.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:16 pm

Over the weekend I read this story over at Hanlonvision, and it has been haunting me ever since. It deals with the author’s anything-but-fond recollections of his father.

I consider myself most fortunate to have had a wonderful relationship with my father, and I have missed him every day since his death in 1994. He will always be in my memories. What I found troubling about Leigh’s story is that I am certain that his father will always be in his memories as well, and I can only imagine how painful that must be.

Mr. Cyber-Stupid.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:01 pm

Last night I tried to link to a Power Point file that showed a series of photos of American Forces in Iraq digging up and hauling away a MIG fighter jet that had been buried in the desert. Clicking the link (at least on my computer) did not open the slide presentation, but rather downloaded the file to the place in my computer where Power Point files reside. If it did that to your computer, I apologize for the inconvenience.

As it turns out, In Sheep’s Clothing (the author of which is obviously not a cyber-knucklehead such as Yours Truly) has a pretty nice and workable version of the same photos here.

I still cannot believe they buried a farookin’ plane.

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