Monday, October 31, 2005

Back (from) Home

I went home for a few days just to relax and celebrate the birthday with my family. It’s been a while since I made the trek down to the family homestead, which now consists of an apartment-sized condo on the northern hills of West Chester just north of the wraparound highway that surrounds the great and terrible city of Cincinnati, Ohio.

It was nice to see Cincinnati in the fall. I had almost forgotten how beautiful it can be. That’s really the only thing I like about my hometown. The city sits in a bowl so the proliferation of airborne fungi and other assorted molds and spores in spring is a nightmare for even the strongest of sinus cavities. Summer is so hot and humid you feel as though you could drip and melt away in the jungle of concrete. And winter is as sporadic as a paranoid schizophrenic without his medicine.

But autumn! Ah, autumn is grand. The hills which surround the city are painted every color of the rainbow and the puffs of trees in the distance, when they catch the dying daylight, burn like torches against the crisp sky. You just don’t get that kind of beauty anywhere else.

At least not here in Columbus.

Currently, I’m sitting at my desk, listening to Miles Davis’s “Birth of the Cool,” an old cd of mine from the days when I thought myself a jazz trumpeter. I had lost it many years back and feared it had suffered the same fate as my baseball card collection when my parents’ basement flooded back in 2001. Oh what a sad day that was! But, hark! My Miles Davis cd, along with a commercialized compilation of Chuck Mingus hits, survived. Apparently my father had found them in a box a few years prior to the evil flood, and had absentmindedly stored them in a box underneath my parents’ bed. The discs survived a move to Florida and back and have now been returned to their rightful place. All is right with the world.

This week looks to be busy, as I have the new part time job to contend with, my regular job of nothingness, and that play which, despite my most earnest intentions, remains unfinished. No worries. I know what needs to be done. All that remains is typing.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

No Work Weekend!

It's a mini-vacation! Everybody go crazy! See you next week.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Handing Out Props

My friend Abbie got me a part time job with (*company deleted to protect the semi-innocent*) as a fact checker. Finally! Something to do at my real job when I’m not doing anything. And I get paid for it, too. Say it with me now…Mo money! Mo money!

Who Needs Sleep Anyway?

I spent most of the morning looking up friends on Google. It was fun, because I haven’t done it in a while and I unearthed a lot about some people I haven’t heard from in quite a while. For instance, one of my old student workers from UC, Sam Tyx, is now a Youth Pastor for a university in Iowa. A former co-worker, Amanda Zeiders, has a blog. The most interesting thing I found, however, was this song (right click+ “Save As” to download)

The musician in question is a friend who lives in England. He wrote me several years ago to tell me that he’d fallen in love with a girl from Thailand who was studying as his hospital as part of some international medical exchange sort of thing. At least I think that’s what it was. I could be wrong. Anyway, at the end of that summer, he wrote me to say that her visa had expired and she had to return home. She had thought of staying, but her home hospital made her an enormous offer; one that was just too good to pass up.

She had almost stayed, though. For him. Sometime after that, he wrote the song above.

A couple of years passed, and we passed e-mails. He’d mention the girl from time to time. He said he wished she had chosen to stay. He said he wished he had chosen to go with her, but the obligations of life in England were too great. Even still, given the chance again, he might have chosen differently.

At the beginning of this summer, my friend e-mailed me to say that he had signed up to be a project manager for a medical relief team that would spend several months scouring the wilds of Borneo in search of people who needed assistance and training and supplies. That sort of thing. Every few weeks, he’d send a mass mailing with explicit descriptions of what had happened and what was going on. He talked of the people he’d met and the experiences he’d had. One night, while sleeping in a hammock near the top of some strange hill in the middle of nowhere, he heard something “large and hungry” snooping around outside of his tent. He hear the thing move closer to his hammock and, just before the thing was about to pounce, there was a noise in the distance. The thing bounded off, and a few seconds later, he heard the screams of some wild animal as it took has place as “dinner” for the thing that had so recently hunted him.

It was all good stuff.

He wrote later to say that, when the group left to return to their various homes around the world, he took some extra time and made a trip to Thailand. He wrote to say that he met the girl with whom he had spent the best summer of his life. He said they toured around her city for endless hours, happy just to be together again. In his last e-mail, he said he was awake the evening before his flight was scheduled to return to England. He said he’d been given that second chance. He said he wasn’t sure, but he was thinking of staying this time. I haven’t heard from him since.

I hope he stayed.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Don't look now! It's No-work Monday

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Boring Entry

I’m sitting at my desk listening to a compilation of Ben Folds’ music, including his latest album, Songs for Silverman. I’d like to be doing something else, I think. But right now all I’m doing is listening to music. And sometimes that is the best thing for you, really. Sometimes you just have to shut off your head, let the notes pour over you like water, and relax.

Sometimes it’s good if there is also beer involved. Tonight is not one of those nights, though.

I went down to Cincinnati today to visit the parents for a bit. They’re doing well. Dad sat on the deck smoking cigarettes, shivering. He swam in an old flannel shirt and a pair of pants that, if he hadn’t worn a belt, would have fallen down. Mom seemed shorter than normal. I’m not sure what it was, it just felt that way. My parents aren’t old by any stretch of the imagination, but I can see the start of it.

The song “Magic” just ended.

We watched the Bengals get their asses handed to them by the Pittsburgh Steelers. We watched “Batman Begins.” We talked for a while. We ate dinner. My aunt and cousins came over and we shared cake and ice cream in celebration of my impending birthday. We talked for a while. Mom and Dad gave me a present: the original edition of “The Natural” by Bernard Malamud. Being the baseball fan that I am, I can’t believe I haven’t read this book. I tried to check it out a hundred times when I worked at the library, but in the course of my four and a half years it never came available. I had it on my list of “books I will buy if I ever come across them at a bookstore,” but I had not, as of a few weeks ago, been able to find it. Mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I told her to pick up this book if she could find it.

They came through, as is usual. I don’t know how they do it, but they have a knack for finding things.

So it seems that my “soon to read” pile of books has grown considerably over the past few weeks. Currently, I have a stack of books on my shelf, waiting to be read, which include The Bridge of San Luis Rey, The Natural, Invisible Monsters, and Searchin For God Know’s What. I’ll get to them some day. I swear I will.

Not much else to report. I think I’ll tackle some reading before I retire for the evening.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

a day full of stuff

Today was a long day. First, we helped Abbie and Katie move into their new apartment. This act involved a great deal of driving all over the city, and on two of these trips I got lost and had to call somebody else for help. That’s less than normal, though, so it seems that I am finally learning!

After that, we retired to Chad and Christy’s for a while, whereupon Katie and Christy proceeded to go shopping at Target and Chad and I hung out watching television. When Chad and Katie returned home, Katie went downstairs to play on the computer, Chad and Christy went to get dressed for the evening’s activities, and I fell asleep on the couch under the guise of reading a book. Midway through my nap, when I was apparently snoring so loudly that the walls shook, the doorbell rang. I woke up, confused, and answered the door. Standing there were Chad and Christy’s neighbors with their two young children.

“Where are Chad and Christy?” they asked.

Still tired and confused about what was going on, I said, “Um…uhh….I thinks they’re upstairs. You know, taking a shower or something.” Upon revisiting this discussion, I may have given the impression that my friends (who are married…to each other, mind you) were upstairs doin’ it, while I was asleep on the couch. I believe this was the case, because Chad quickly came downstairs and took over the conversation for me. He seemed a bit nervous and the neighbors seemed a bit offended.

But what can you do, huh. I was asleep and my brain was fuzzy. Well, fuzzier than normal, anyway.

Later in the evening, a large group consisting of Me, Junior, Chad, Christy, Katie, Abbie, Nate, Ben, and Ben’s cousin Rachel met at a local bar filled with leather sofas, quality beer, and a dearth of people. I didn’t think such a place existed, and now that I have found it I plan to move in next door and camp out in front of the bar until they open in the morning. Finally! A reason to become an alcoholic!

We had good discussions this evening. Nate and I talked about computer stuff. Actually Nate talked about computer stuff and I listened. Because there is no comparison. Nate knows a lot about computer programming and software and system development whereas I know very little. And he is obviously very passionate about it. Which is cool. Later, Chad, Rachel and I discussed books and politics. Rachel mentioned that she is reading something about the history of celibacy and how the ancient Greeks viewed women as the members of society who were incapable of controlling sexual urges. I wholeheartedly agreed, quoting both The Lysistrata and The Bacchae, which I distinctly remember not reading when I took a Classical Civilization class in college.

I give the appearance of intelligence from time to time, but it is all an elaborate ruse to curry favor with those who are much smarter than I.

We left the bar and returned home slightly before midnight, whereupon I saw a letter outlining my ten year high school reunion and all the festivities which are soon to take place. The combination of this with the early end of a vibrant evening culminated in the knowledge that I am old. I am so very old.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Beautiful, sad morning

I love weather like the kind we had this morning. The sun had not yet risen, and last night’s rain had washed away the layer of film that sometimes settles on everything after an extended dry period. Everything seemed a little clearer, a little more real.

It reminded me of a few early mornings I experienced while working as the hiking instructor at Camp Friedlander near Cincinnati. I’d wake up early, grab a quick breakfast at the main hall before the crowds filed in, and then spend the rest of my morning sitting in the darkness, smelling the leftover wind and rain in the pines.

That was probably my favorite summer. I’d walk my requisite 8 miles each day, telling bored campers and tired parents all about the dumb trees in our vicinity. They were bored and I was bored, so rather than subject myself to so much boredom (and in the hopes that I would get a few extra points on my review), I made up a story which allegedly took place near the log cabin that sat deep in the woods, halfway through the normal trail.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

This log cabin was old and rundown, like all good cabins upon which old stores are based, and sitting on the edge of the lawn was the stump of what used to be a very large pine tree. The tree that used to stand there had long since passed. In its place, however, there grew yet another tree. It was a small tree, barely more than a sapling, and it grew right on top of the stump. I imagined that the person who had cut down the tree hadn’t quite got the all of it, and part of that sad, old tree wished to grow still.

A beautiful part.

I imagined a family of settlers living in the area, basking in the glow of the sun as it reflected off the hills and the rushing waters of the Little Miami River below. I imagined the majestic pines as tiny little things, only a few feet high. I imagined that this family consisted of a mother, a father, and seven girls. The girls’ beauty was unmatched and young men came from miles around to court them and ask for their hands in marriage.

The youngest girl, Clara, was the prettiest of them all and as soon as she came of age, her father received hundreds of requests from miles around: men who wished to have her hand. Her father refused to entertain such notions, for he preferred to marry his daughters in order by age. Oldest first. That meant all six of Clara’s elder sisters must first be married before her father would consider sending her off.

To some young women, this would have been a burden almost too large to bear. But for Clara it was a blessing, for she took no interested in such things. She preferred solitude. She spent her mornings running through the woods and swimming in the cool waters of the Little Miami, which at that time went by a different name. An Indian name. Some mornings, when the rain had washed away the summer haziness, leaving all else clear, she’d sit in the dark before the sun came up, close her eyes, and breathe in the sweet smell of the wind and the rain in the pines.

Her favorite activity was climbing the largest pine tree in the woods, which sat just at the edge of the family property and dominated the landscape in both its size and grandeur. Clara’s father constantly told his youngest daughter that such an activity was unladylike, but he could not stop his smile when he saw the great joy on Clara’s face as she descended to the ground, happy and covered in sap

One day, a wealthy banker from Cincinnati paid the family a visit. His reputation for ruthlessness and savagery, born of his years serving with Simon Kenton in the Ohio Indian Wars, preceded him. He told the family that he wished to marry their daughter Clara. The father refused, saying that he would first marry his elder daughters, Clara’s sisters. The banker balked. He offered a large sum of money, but Clara’s father was a good and honest man. He would not sell his youngest daughter to a man as ruthless as he.

The banker went away unsatisfied.

A week later, the eldest daughter Betthany ran away from home. Her note, which she left sitting on the family porch, stated that she had recently met a young frontiersman named Anthony Wayne and that the two of them had left for Oklahoma. Her parents were saddened at their daughter’s sudden departure, but they were happy she had found love at long last. They eagerly awaited future correspondence and they made plans to visit their daughter in Oklahoma if ever they could afford it.

A few days after Bethany’s disappearance, the next eldest daughter, Ruth Ann, took flight in much the same fashion. She had met a young circus performer named Roul and fled north to the banks of lake Erie. A day or so later and the next eldest daughter had gone as well.

Clara’s father became nervous. It was unlike his daughters to hide their interests from him, much less run off without a word. None were as popular as Clara, but each was beautiful in her own right. They had many suitors and they reveled in the attention, often arguing over who had the most marriage proposals and how attractive and how rich those suitors tended to be. He interrogated each of his daughters, begging them to share the happy news of new love or their plans to move away. He cried as he told them he did not want his last visions of them to be a note and the memory of their childhoods. Each daughter was insistent. They had met no one, and their intention was to stay on the family farm as long as possible.

The following morning, another daughter came up missing. Her note stated that she had met a man named Chauncey and they had moved to New York City to start their life as playwrights. Clara’s father was distraught. He only had three daughters left, and he feared the worst.

But the disappearances stopped for a while. The family was worried, but they still had hope. Perhaps the notes had been genuine, they thought. Maybe their daughters had really caught the fancy of new love and left for greener pastures. Still, the father was afraid. He told his remaining daughters to stay inside, and he made Clara promise not to spend her mornings climbing her favorite tree.

As the end of another summer fast approached, the banker again paid a visit to the family farm. He wished to express his joy at the father’s good fortune, and repeated his request for Clara’s hand in marriage.

The father flew into a rage. He claimed the banker had stolen his daughters and written the notes himself. He threatened the banker. He said if he ever set foot on his family’s property again, he would find that he was not long for this world. The banker smiled calmly and said that he understood his father’s pain, having seen so many of his daughters marry and leave in quick succession, and he promised to return when the man had learn to respect reason.

The following morning, the remaining two elder daughters went missing. There was no note this time, and the window next to their bedroom had been broken. The next day, the man’s wife disappeared. All who remained where the simple farmer and his beautiful daughter Clara.

Weeks passed. Summer deepened into late autumn. The banker paid his last visit when the first few breaths of cold winter had frosted the tips of the pines.

He again expressed great joy at his eldest daughters’ nuptials while at the same time expressing great sorrow at the loss of the man’s wife, Clara’s mother. He smiled. He repeated his wish to have Clara’s hand in marriage. The father refused. He said he would see his daughter hanging from the great pine, the largest tree for miles around, before he gave her over to this monster.

The banker smiled, and promised to return when the man was of sound mind.

The next morning, Clara’s father had his wish. He awoke to a silent house. It was a clear, cold morning. The previous night’s rain had washed away the hazy film, which had settled over everything after an extended dry spell. It was the kind of morning Clara would have loved.

He went outside and saw his youngest daughter’s body tied to the limbs halfway up the tree. She was dead. Distraught, the father attempted to climb the tree and retrieve his daughter’s broken body. Even in death she looked like an angel, he thought. But he was a large man and the branches grew too small the higher he went. So he spent all day chopping the tree down.

He thought he had got all of it.

The next morning, he buried his daughter next to where her favorite tree used to stand. He left no marker, for the markers that stood for each of his previous daughters, the happy letters that told of their new lives elsewhere, were too much for him to bear. A few days later, the man disappeared as well. He left no trace; save for the house where his family once lived and the large stump that sat a few yards away. After a year of emptiness, the house began to degrade and eventually fell to ruin.

Several years later, the old stump, now dwarfed by the massive pines that covered the land and blocked the view of the river, sprouted a few leaves. By the end of spring, those leaves began to reach skyward. There was form. Another tree had taken root. And even though this tree was small, many people remarked that it was the most beautiful in all of the forest. Each year people came from miles around to see the beautiful little tree and hear the sad story of a beautiful girl who liked to climb the pines on clear, cool mornings.

** ** ** ** ** **

A few of the families took offense to the death and sadness in the story. But anybody who sat amidst the pines on an early, clear morning would understand. Though it is beautiful, it is also sad. And on mornings like this, I often remember that story as if it actually happened.

You never know. It may have.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Book Snob

Time Magazine came out with a list of the top 100 greatest English language novels since 1923. Why they chose 1923 is beyond me. But hey! I love lists. Here are the books I’ve read:

Books I have read:
An American Tragedy - Theodore Dreiser
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Beloved - Toni Morrison
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess (the movie sucked)
The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas “I hate cameras” Pynchon
The Grapes of Wrath - John “Fucking” Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrboe - C-Live Staples. Lewis
The Lord of the Flies - William Golding
The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tokein (it’s three books, dammit!)
Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf (yes, I AM afraid of her)
1984 - George Orwell
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - Ken Kesey
The Painted Bird - Jerzy Kosinski
Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow (hells yeah, this book kicks ASS)
Slaughterhouse-Five - “My Man” Kurt Vonnegut
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston (I did my senior english project on her in high school. She makes Toni Morrison and Alice Walker look like schoolchildren. But she was Harlem Rennaisance, so that goes without saying.
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

Books that are currently on my shelf, waiting to be read:
American Pastoral - Philip Roth
The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Thornton Wilder (I hear this is AMAZING)
Gravity’s Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon

Books that should have been on the list:
The Razor’s Edge - W. Sommerset Maugham
Babbit - Sinclair Lewis
Main Street - Sinclair Lewis
Ulysses - James Joyce (given college professor’s abject love of him you’d think he would be a shoe-in)

Books that should have receieved honorable mention
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S Thompson
Watership Down - Richard Adams

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Black Dog

I ran over a dog today. No, I wasn't outside running. I was driving. I was on my way back from the grocery store and a big, black sheepdog ran out in front of my car as I cruised down the road. I slammed on the breaks. I squealed my tires. I swore. I felt the right side of my car rise up as it went over the dog's body.

I heard it cry out.

I sat in the road for a few seconds and waited for my breath to catch up with me. Then I got out of the car to investigate. I checked all four wheels, but there was no dog. I searched under the car and around it on both sides of the street. No dog. I got back in the car and reversed a full ten yards. Still no dog. I parked and looked around for a few minutes. There was nothing; no mark on my car, no spot on the road, no dead body lying in the gutter. No dog.

So I got back in my car and drove home. I don't know what happened to it, but that must have been one damn resilient dog.

Go head girl. Go head. Get down...

I can’t get Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” out of my head. It was good when I heard it in poetry form two years ago on “Def Poetry Jam” with Mos Def. Now the simple beat with Jamie Foxx (imitating Ray Charles) is catchy. It sits in my head all day on a continuous loop.

Now if only MuMs would come out with an album. Even if it were spoken word. I’d buy it. Twice!

** ** ** ** ** ** **

Something strange is afoot. I was supposed to go see “Serenity” with Chad, Christy, Katie and Junior this evening after work. I would have played Frisbee golf since the weather is getting cold and the amount of available light shrinks from day to day. But since I went in late this morning, I had to stay late and it meant that I wouldn’t have time to play. So I decided to go to the movie. It was supposed to start at 7:30 and I told people I’d meet them at Mojo after work. Nobody showed up and when I went home, nobody was there either. I called people’s phones and nobody answered. I left messages and nobody called me back.

What the hell is going on?

** ** ** ** ** **

Now I ain’t sayin’ she a Gold Digger!
But she ain’t messing with no broke ni***s!

** ** ** ** ** **

It is certainly a beautiful evening. The sky is clear and the smell of recently extinguished bonfires still lingers in my neighborhood. I think I’ll go for a walk, sing Gold Digger to myself for a while, and wonder where the hell everybody went.


I woke up this morning to the sound of birds singing. The light coolness of morning autumn air left the room at a comfortable temperature, and the smell of some past bonfire wafted through my window, creating a nice, earthy aroma. I opened my eyes to the sunlight, which came through the blinds and danced across the floor in happy figures. I sat up, took in a deep breath, an swore loud enough to wake the neighbors dogs, who barked incessantly for nearly fifteen minutes.

Why did I swear, you ask? Because I was supposed to be at work at 7:00am, and I didn’t wake up until 8:30.

Luckily, I made it in by 9:00am. That is the benefit of living less than three miles from work. And also having no hair. Three minutes in the shower, two minutes getting dressed, five minutes in the car, and I was here.

The sad thing is that I was finished with my work by 9:01.

Monday, October 17, 2005

L.A. Face With The Oakland Booty

I found a very funny cover of "Baby Got Back" Check it out here (no, really..listen to it...its hilarious)

notes of little importance

Good news, everyone! Acts 1 and 3 of the play are committed to digital paper, and ACT 2 should be finished by the end of this week. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Three acts. That’s insanity! Who do I think I am? A meth-fueled reincarnation of Arthur Miller in his heyday? Don’t worry. It’s really more like 2 acts with a musical epilogue. Either way, it’s almost finished. And when that magic day arrives, I can print it up, set it aside, and let it stew in its juices until editing time comes and I go through the fun all over again.

If only I could get somebody to give me real, green money for this kind of work. Then my life would be complete.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

In case you haven’t read the comments from my previous post, the meeting with the eye doctor went well. It turns out that my eyeballs are healed and I can return to wearing the expensive contact lenses which approximate good vision. This means I can also return to driving on the streets on Columbus at nighttime with only a minimal fear of running into somebody!

That's good for you, too. Especially if you live in Columbus. Or Xenia.

In celebration of the return of sight, I ran straight out to the local Chinese food store (and there are several in the area) to purchase an extra large order of General Tso’s chicken. I hurried home and proceeded to plow through the msg-laden goodness like a fat kid attacking a doughnut. Unfortunately, my stomach is not accustomed to that much grease that quickly, and I have spent the better part of the last hour anticipating a flow reversal in my esophagus. Things had better calm down soon. I have flight school this evening and I imagine my instructor would be none too please if I painted the classroom in mostly undigested chunks of chicken, broccoli, and soy sauce.

Plus, I would hate to have spent $8.50 on all that food only to see it disappear in such a sad fashion.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

The Bengals are 5-1. THE BENGALS ARE 5-1! Do you know how excited that makes me? And next week, we get the real test. We play Pittsburgh. A battle to the death against the hated favorites of the AFC Central. Or the east. Or whichever division we’re in. Who knows?

Certainly not me, bubba. I’m outta here.

Day of Reckoning

I go to the eye doctor today to see if I can start wearing Ye Olde Contactse again. Hopefully fate will smile on me and will yet again grant me the privilege of nominally clear sight. And if not, woe to you who venture forth on Columbus roads. Woe.

no work monday!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Today Show Snafu

"On the Today show this morning, Katie Couric was promoting a segment that would talk about the apparent staged inteview with soldiers in Iraq. A few moments later the show went to correspondent Michelle Kosinski, reporting on location about the floods in New Jersey. Kosinski was canoeing in what looked to be in deep water. However as the segment begin two men walked in front of her in what looked to be a few inches of water. Michelle Kosinski attempted to brush this off, however Katie and Matt couldn’t stop laughing about the situation."

Story (with pic)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Fashion Cents

From a conversation with mom...

Mom: So I saw Napoleon Dynamite this week.
Me: Yeah? Did you like it?
Mom: Yeah, especially that awful brown suit he wore.
Me: (laughing) Yeah...that was pretty bad.
Mom: (laughing) It was almost as bad as that suit your dad used to wear.
Me: ... what suit dad used to wear?
Mom: You don't remember?
Me: No.
Mom: Let's see. The jacket was fire engine red and the pants were checkered red and white. The pants were also skin tight. The tie was red, too, but it was a slightly darker shade than the jacket so none of it matched.
Me: (laughing)
Mom: I can't believe he wore it.
Me: I can't believe you guys bought it.
Mom: We didn't buy it. It came in the mail.
Me: ...What?
Mom: Yeah. Right after we moved into our first apartment, this package just showed up out of nowhere. I think it was from McAlpins. Or maybe Sears. It had that terrible suit it and it fit him perfectly, so we kept it.
Me: (laughing)
Mom: Yeah, your uncle Skip thought it was funny when he wore it to John's wedding.
Me: (laughing even harder)
Dad: (in the background) What's going on over there.
Mom: Nothing. Joe's just laughing at your old, red suit.
Dad: (still in the background)...Hey that was a good suit. And it was FREE!

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wherever you go, there you are!

I couldn't think of anything to write. So I stole a survey from Ronni. Check it out:

Seven years ago, it was Fall 1998.....
How old were you?

I was 20 (21 on Devil’s Night!) years old physically, but mentally I was 12. Now I am 27 (28 on Devil’s Night!), but mentally I am 10. So things are getting better!

What grade were you in?
I was in my second sophomore year of college. I believe this was the year I majored in Physics then Electrical Engineering, then Computer Science, then history for a week, then Accounting, and finally Information Systems.

Where did you go to school?
Across the street from where I lived.

Where did you work?
Where I lived. I was an RA in the dorms at Wright State University. Some might call it a CA, but I call it an RA, because whenever you call it CA, people look at you like you just insulted their mother.

Where did you live?
The thing about this job is that it was where I lived. So I was always at work. I could be in my room, performing my rendition of Mozart’s Eine Kline NachtMusick on the kazoo (as I am wont to do on occasion…I play a mean kazoo), and somebody would knock on the door with their pathetic problems. Of course I would have to help them, and that meant I was not able to finish my favorite part of the second movement.

How was your hair style?
Had it not been for this job, I could have gone professional, and taken up a drug habit like any self-respecting classical musician.

Did you wear braces?
Just think of it! I could have come up with a nickname like “The mad Kazooer,” and my drunken exploits qould have made the cover of every newspaper from Newcomerstown, Ohio to Dog’s Breath, Idaho. “Musical genius caught Kazoodling with sorority babes!” Ah, the life I could have had.

Did you wear contacts?
The trouble with all of that, though, is that the party would have eventually come to an end. All night binge kazooing takes its toll, especially for a person with large appetites. Eventually, I would have gone to rehab to kick the coke and beer habit. I would have returned to society a productive member of society. Unfortunatley, I would have had to give up my previous profession as a master kazooist in order to lead a clean and sober life.

Did you wear glasses?
Things would have been fine for a while. I would have more than likely opened a specialty kazoo shop, and I would have spent my evenings sitting on the porch telling the neighborhood kids about the time I wowed audiences with my spectacular interpretations of the entirety of Nikkolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s work, which I would have entitled “the annoying Buzz: in Russian!”

Who was your best friend?
It would be a good life, a fine life. But it would not be enough.

Who was your boyfriend/girlfriend?
I would more than likely have spent several sleepless nights staring at the ceiling, thinking of the time I had spent in the spotlight; the time when music meant something to me; when I meant something to music.

Who was your celebrity crush?
Unbeknownst to my beautiful wife (a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and yoga instructor), I would have crafted the greatest kazoo ever seen by the eyes of men.

Who was your regular-person crush?
It’s perfect angles and rounded curves would speak to me in the watches of the night, begging to be played.

Were you a virgin?
One night, when I could no longer bear the thought of a life without music, I would have taken the magical kazoo to a field underneath a wide expanse of stars, and I would have played angelic notes of beauty and annoying buzzes of grandeur.

How many piercings did you have?
This would be my practice, my secret I had kept from the world, my beautiful wife, and all sixteen mistresses.

How many tattoos did you have?
But lies will out, as the great poet Whats Hisface once said, and eventually one of the local children would hear my notes of beauty from afar and come out into the field to investigate.

What was your favorite band?
Slowly but surely, an audience would form. Children from all over town would gather in the field underneath the stars to hear my magical kazoo craft the music of the angels.

What was your biggest fear?
Parents, wondering where there children had gone, would come as well, and they would stand in rapt silence as beauty poured forth from my magical kazoo.

Had you smoked a cigarette yet?
My wife would not be pleased. “Think of all you have been through,” she would say. “The parties. The binge drinking. Naked kazoodling atop the Sears tower.”

Had you gotten drunk or high yet?
And she would begin to cry. “Do you want to go back to that,” she would say.

Had you driven yet?
”It’s who I am, baby,” I would say. “It can be good this time. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it now. ”

If so what car(s) did you use?
The local media would pick up the story, followed by the national and then international outlets. “The Mad Kazooer makes his return,” they would say. “When will he play for the world?”

Which of your pets were alive?
The stage would be set for my great return. Thousands of people would purchase tickets. Television stations across the globe would battle for rights to broadcast the annoyingly buzzing sounds of beauty that emanated from my magic kazoo.

Which members of your family were alive?
But others would show. Old friends. Reminiscence of times past. “Just a little taste” they would say. “For old times. Good, old times.”

Which members of your family were not born yet?
But I would shun them. “No!” I would scream. “I am above your petty ways. GET BEHIND ME!” And lo, I would administer the fist of truth and the backhand of justice in and throughout the crowd of rabble rousers who had sought to destroy me.

Did you know the person who posted this right before you?
The concert would have been a marvelous success and the world would have been my oyster. Or, failing that, my burrito. I’m not a big fan of oysters. They are slimy and icky and they attack you in all the wrong places. In fact, there was this one time I got into a battle with a large and scary oyster off the coast of Belize. It is a harrowing tale of valor and glory, and you would enjoy it immensely.

….but that is for another time.


It's 7:02 am, and I just finished all my work for the day. Only 9 hours and 58 minutes to go!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Turn That Frown Upside Down

If you're like me, the damp coldness of the past few days might have you down. If so, turn your speakers all the way up to eleven and listen to this (right click->Save As, please). I don't care if your neighbors hate loud noises or if you're sitting in the local Panera surrounded by pompous hipsters. Turn your speakers all the way up and let everybody hear it.

I dare you to be sad when its over.

On words

“Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” - Psalm 119:105

A while back I mentioned that I was working on a play for the grove drama team about the words of Psalm 119. At the time, I lamented that it wasn’t going well. I had a lot of loose ideas floating around in my head. And I was afraid that since I no longer have hair, those ideas would seep out through the bald spots on top if I didn’t get them down on paper. The problem was not in the typing, but in linking the ideas and expressing them, with meaning, in a fashion that is interesting. Or mildly interesting, anyway. I’m not a professional writer or anything. We’ll leave compelling and intricate plotlines to Arthur Miller and E.L. Doctorrow. Right now, I’m interested in the basics.

Like spelling.

An interesting thing happened over the weekend, though. Saturday night, after church, I got a call from Chad and Christy saying that a small group of people had gathered at their place for drinks and conversation. Chad (junior) decided against joining the festivities due to the pain from his exploding ear syndrome, which is not as debilitating as my exploding eyeball syndrome, but immensely more painful.

Having spent the majority of the week at home, doing nothing, for hours on end, I couldn’t handle another night of boredom. So, despite the fact that my vision comprises a kaleidoscope of images dancing in intricate patterns across the visual cortex of my brain, and despite the fact that said lack of discernable information is exacerbated by both the darkness and rain that existed in droves at the point in time, I decided to drive there anyway.

Because I’m cool like that.

Luckily, I didn’t kill anybody, although there was one point where I found myself driving on the wrong side of a concrete median, trying to determine if the flashing lights headed towards me were those of a street sign or oncoming traffic. I think it would have been better if I closed my eyes and tried to drive from memory.

At any rate, I made it over to Chad and Christy’s whereupon I met Abbie, Katie, Ben, and Nathan engaged in both the consumption of fine liqueurs and in-depth philosophical conversation. The topics included such riveting subjects as Chad’s vehement hatred of sports, our collective reminiscence college days (I had more memories since I was in school for 8 years), and the definitions of truth and justice inherent Socratic philosophical dialogs. Euthyphro my ass!

We also made fart jokes. Because there were three guys in the room, and if I have learned one thing in life it’s that a gathering of men will always include at least a modicum of crude humor; regardless of age, education, or standing in the community.

The evening waned and most people went off to sleep. Ben, Nathan, and I stayed up until 4 in the morning talking about ideological differences between denominations in the Christian church, and how many Christian churches have let go their adherence to their roots in Jewish kashrut law. This was, I believe, an extension of our earlier discussion of overall Truth in the Socratic sense.

At any rate, Nathan and Ben passed out around four. We were downstairs, looking up stuff on the internet, when I heard Nathan start sawing logs from the couch and Ben wheezing from the office chair behind me.

“Ben,” I said. “They have couches upstairs. Why don’t you go sleep up there?”

“The t-shirts have different color paints,” he said earnestly, still caught in the haziness of new sleep.

“What?” I asked, confused.

“The t-shirts….have….different…color…paints!” he said, as if speaking to a child or a person of low intelligence, and then turned the chair away.

“Alright man,” I said, and went upstairs to sleep on the couch.

But I couldn’t fall asleep. I laid on the couch in the living room, thinking about the Psalm 119 play I’ve been working on and how to make it interesting, meaningful, and relevant. I also wanted to see if I could work in a fart joke or two (not really). I had what I feel were a couple of good characters, but the setting and the story arch – the idea that binded the characters and their stories – felt forced and contrived. It seemed only loosely related to the verses that described it. There was also no ending. It was pointless and stupid. Like reality television, it kept going when everybody involved wanted it to just die.

So I said a prayer there on the couch. I asked God to help me figure it out. “You don’t have to write it for me,” I said. “I enjoy this whole ‘discover it as I go’ style I have going. Just give me a nudge. Or let me know if it sucks. That’s fine if it does. I am forever in need of kindling”

Sometime later, I fell asleep.

Nathan left shortly after seven. I know this because the couch on which I was sleeping is located next to the door and you can’t hardly leave the house without making some kind of noise. I know this also because, despite the fact that he was now awake and moving, it sounded like he was still sawing logs. I suppose it could have been Abbie or Katie, but this figure had facial hair. Unless I am mistaken, neither Abbie nor Katie has a goatee and large mutton chops. If they do, then I might as well give up and register for status as a proud member of the visually impaired because I’ve never seen it.

I woke up and I had an idea. It was an idea about the play. It solved a few of the questions I’d labored over for a week or so and it lead to other, easier questions which, in turn, lead to plot points I had not considered. And I got an ending that I think is experimental but interesting. Now, rather than having a play that is overly complicated and uselss, I have something with which I can work. And I have an ending about which I am excited (and I’m not going to tell you what it is, so don’t ask).

Of course, I attribute this to the prayer I said as I fell asleep.

In Christian circles, people often talk about the good things in their life as a gift from God. For some people, this is a difficult concept. For a person who spends 10 years in school and immense hours of training to become a skilled physician or lawyer or craftsman or parent or whatever, saying that this was a gift from God and not largely through their own hard work, is a difficult thing.

For me, writing is definitely a gift from God. I don’t want to brag, but it has always come easily to me. One day, when I was a kid, I read a story my sister had written and I thought, “I can do that.” And I did. And the words just came to me.

Rest assured, I have worked hard at it. I write several pages of something every day, whether it is a blog entry or a short story or a play or a loose conglomerations of words that have no real meaning. Rest assured also that I do not consider myself to be a genius or even “real good.” There are literally thousands of people out there who write better than I do; who have a better sense of humor, a more in depth understanding of scripture and how it pertains to life, or who ask better questions with more open honesty.

But I’m not bad. And what insights and epiphanies and interesting turns of phrase I do come across while I waste time pounding out words on my computer are undoubtedly through no work of my own. They just happen. I reach into the ether and pull out something shiny and new. When things are really good, it feels like I’m transcribing for someone else. The great joy I get while writing, even things as pointless as this blog entry, has to be a gift. What else could it be?

And when I have insights like the one I had this past weekend, it is very easy to believe without a hint of doubt in the existence of God and his love.

Bad Mutha...SHUT YO MOUTH!

You know it’s going to be a good day when you step out of your car in the Best Buy parking lot and the theme from Shaft plays loudly over the outdoor speakers as you pimp walk into the store.

Talk about Lucky

From last night's NLDS game between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves [link] :

Lucky fan is twice in the right spot
By LEE CEARNAL Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Chris Burke's homer might not have been the only history-maker in Sunday's 18-inning victory over the Atlanta Braves. The fan who caught it — Shaun Dean of Porter — also caught Lance Berkman's grand slam shot in the eighth. Dean, 25, was sitting in the second row of the Crawford boxes. A client had given tickets to Joslin Construction, where he is comptroller.

"I never caught one in a game before," he said.

I've been to a million baseball games. And since they were Reds games, there was hardly ever anybody there. You think I would have at least caught one - or maybe I would have at least had a chance. This took place at a packed playoff game. And he caught TWO homerun balls. The odds of that happening are, I think, about the same as winning the lottery while getting struck by lighting and falling out of an airplane that is being flown by Mike Tyson and the Emperor of Japan.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Nessun Lavoro Lunedì

I'm really glad not to have to work today.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Name this person

Name the above actor and botht the movie and television show that made him famous (sorta).

A Rambing Friday

Today is Friday! And rather than spend time crafting an intricate or sappy entry, I'll just slop ome some down as it comes to me throughout the day.

7:15 am: The power went out last night and then camme back on a half hour later. I consider the fact that I made it in only 15 minutes late a testament to my fortitude. Either that, or a statemen on my inattention to personal hygiene. One or the other.

8:37 am: Three different people brought doughnuts to work today. The gods of evil are tempting me, trying to thwart FatQuest3 in the early stages before it can take root. Though my stomach does rumble for the sugary goodness therein, I will hold fast. Just remember the rice plate I have waiting for me at lunch. Remember the rice plate....I'm screwed aren't I?

8:54 am: Oh goodie. I get to call a podunk airport in norhtern Quebec. Why in the world would anybody want to go to northern Quebec?
Bonjour monsieur. Donnez-moi les informations s'il vous plait....Non!...Donnez moi les informations, MAINTENANT!...Tu es un American tres stupide....Mais le chat est sur la chaise et ma grande mereest en flambe. Vive la Wayne Gretzky!...Ah! Vive la Wayne Gretzky! Je t'aime. Je t', donnez-moi les informations? S'il vous plait!...Non!..Merde!

10:55 am: It's official. There is no more work to do. We have reviewed all the airports, we have edited the database, and we have audited each and every single file. I have written all the reports there are to weite, I have fixed every possible portlet on the webpage, and I even defragmented my hard drive. Twice. There is literally no more work left to do; not only for today but for the next several months as well. What fun!

2:23 pm: You might not think so, but I love the weather on days like today, when it’s cool enough to wear a jacket and the rain hasn’t quite made up its mind to fall just yet. I took a long lunch and walked down to Champps (don’t forget the double p!) for a Southwestern Chicken Caesar salad. Yes, FatQuest3 continues unabated. I’m closing in on the end of day 3. It would have been day 4, but I went to dinner at a bar after playing frisbee golf on Tuesday and ended up having a cheeseburger, a large pile of French Fries, and no less than three beers. That’s not exactly healthy fare, and although I went for my evening neighborhood walk, I didn’t quite feel right counting it as cannon. It’s always good to make the official start a good one. You don’t want to mire yourself in failure from the outset. While at lunch this afternoon, I started reading “Haunted” by Chuck Palanhiuk. The guy who wrote “Fight Club” and several other nihilistic books. It’s pretty strange thus far, which is to say it is just like every other book he's written. It's a collection of poems and short fiction set against the backdrop of a larger story about a group of people who take part in a writer’s retreat where they are cut off from all of civilization for three whole months. They are literally trapped in a large building with no means of escape. The only price is that they promise to work on their masterpiece. The stories we read are those written by the people who are trapped in this commune of sorts, and each of the stories is crazy. One of the first was the short story “Guts,” which apparently caused many people to vomit upon hearing Mr. Palanhiuk perform it at local readings. I’m guessing these public displays of disgust were staged, though, because even though the story was completely insane, it wasn’t all that bad.

I read it while eating lunch!

3:08 pm: Just so you know...

GIT/FA/L/P dpu s++;++ a-- C++>$ UL(++) P! L@ E---- W++ N++ o-- K-- w++ +O- M- V- PS+ PE@>! Y+ PGP+ t+ 5 X++ R- tv- b+++ DI++ D- G+ e++<++++ h- r--- y+

3:20 pm: Don’t you just love it when you walk into a room and the previously loud conversation quiets to a whisper as the people involved share furtive glances in your direction? Me too.

5:06 pm: I'm outta here in 10 minutes. The end of another long week fast approaches. Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hunger and Self Pity: A Fatman's Lament

There are two hours of work left; one hundred and twenty minutes until the fresh light of freedom envelops me, taking me away from this pit of despair to the land of everlasting happiness. Well, everlasting insomuch as I am given leave of this place long enough to forget the salty bands of hate which wrap my head and warp my thoughts each afternoon.

A friend of mine once said that happy is the main who takes joy in his work. Try as I might, I can find no joy in what I have forced my hand to do. And thus I am not a happy man, at least between the hours of 7:00 A.M. and 5:15 P.M. And what joy I do find is tinged with the sad knowledge that m reprieve is fleeting and subject to the incessant return of another long, grey day.

Nietzsche once wrote that a life of little significance is a life not worth having lived. In short, he said that our actions are doomed to repeat themselves again and again and again without ending. And if, as we pass each time, we have not impacted the world around us in a way that either benefits or harms the greater human community, we may as well have never existed.

I am paraphrasing, of course.

Nietzsche was insane and his conclusions in this regard result in a scary sort of moral relativism. But true therein does lie; at least in part. If all we do is take part in the greater rat race of humanity, what is the point? How can we look at the lives we have lead in comparison to those who define vile slothfulness and conclude that our existence is somehow superior? That the world is better for having seen us? That it all meant something?

How can I stare at the clock all day and justify having spent all that money on a college degree instead of a sports car? Or, to give a worse perspective of my character, blind charity? How can I, in good conscience, collect a paycheck and call itmine when all I do is this?

Is there a way out?

At lunch this afternoon, I sat behind a woman who spent her time away from her office speaking on the phone with her sister. Her sister was sad. Her sister was in a bad place. And the woman in front of me was a bottomless spring of hope and joy and warm expectation. As the conversation ended, I got the feeling that the gorl on the other end, whom I will never meet, is lucky to have this woman in her life. And that things will be alright for her.

And maybe for me as well, I think.

Then I return to work and strap myself in, staring at nothingness for an eternity until the bell rings and things change from one waste of time to another. A senseless cycle of distraction. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. And keep on keeping on. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He probably isn’t there anyway.

** ** **

The easy solution to all of this is to eat a large Pizza Hut pizza. With pepperoni. And mushrooms. Mmmmm.


If anybody in the Columbus, Ohio area is interested in getting together for a happy little game of football (American football, not "soccer") in the next few weeks, e-mail me and let me know when you are available and if you can bring friends.

Tackling will be involved (in the game, not in the recruiting)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

FatQuest 3: Son of FatQuest

I was at dinner with some friends last night when one of them mentioned the abysmal failure that was FatQuest2.

“I know,” I said. “I know, but what can you do? There are just too many good hamburgers out there that end their days alone and uneaten in some scary dumpster or other type of heretofore unknown trash receptacle.”

A single tear crossed my cheek “We can’t have that. Can we?”

But then I got to thinking. It’s those very hamburgers and other cholesterol-laden foods of the same ilk which are gathering near the top of the grave they have dug for me, waiting with baited breath to toss the first shovels full of dirt onto my still warm corpse. I can’t go out like this. Can I?

Naw, baby! (*CENSOR*) those hamburgers! It’s time to start again.

Except this time its for real. And I mean that. You know how I know? I ate an entire head of broccoli for breakfast. That might not sound like much to you (you skinny punk), but that’s a lot to a person whose system has grown accustomed to a regular influx of sugar coated meat and fried, breaded pseudo-cheese. That much nutrition that quickly can shock a system. It changes things, you know, on the inside, and can leave you scuffling in worried steps from your desk to the nearest bathroom; wondering if the impending doom within your lower intestines will hold its fury just a little while longer. When you put yourself through that kind of physical torture, you know you’re in it for the long haul.

The good thing is that, once your stomach adjusts and you get used to eating like a psychotic rabbit, it becomes easier. I don’t mean to say that you actually enjoy meals in the way you used to. It’s a change in mindset. A new form of stubbornness, if you will. Spend three weeks chomping on frozen grass and you tell yourself that you can’t quit or all those painful moments were for naught.

It’s the same reason the Rolling Stones keep pumping out crappy record after crappy record. “We’ve come this far,” they say, “we might as well keep on truckin.”

So the FatQuest has begun again. Except this time its in earnest. And unlike the trend in movie sequels where each successive sequels gets more pathetic each time you see it, this time we’ve saved the best for last. There are no sharks to jump and we won’t see an appearance of Hulk Hogan as “Thunderlips” here to wrestle Rocky Balboa. No. This sequel will be more like Indiana Jones or Die Hard. The good guys win and everybody goes home happy. So are you ready? Alright. Let’s go!


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Who Dey?

ESPN ranks the Bengals at #3. A little high in my book, but still a welcome change from the previous two decades of lousiness. My heart doesn't want to believe it, and my mind is waiting for the other shoe to drop. But for now, I will put all that aside. Everything is are sunshine and happinessin Bengal country.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Fun Times

When you have a conversation like the one my mother and I recently shared, you know you had a little too much fun in college:

MOM: Oooh, your cousin was telling me the other day about the time you were drunk and running half-naked down the middle of the street with a bottle of liquor in your hand. (laughs). Tell me that story.

SASQUATCH: Umm...You're going to have to elaborate. There are several of those stories.

Still Can't See

The verdict is in! I spoke with my doctor this morning and it seems that my complete inability to see anything for the past month is due to the nasty viral infection on my eyeballs. I haven’t had a cold in over a year and I have no seasonal allergies as far as I know, so it would appear that I picked up this infection by sheer luck. My luck is compounded when you consider that I wash my hands more often than an obsessive compulsive man locked in a garbage dumpster filled with rat feces.

That's a pretty picture!

The end result is that I have to buy some expensive eyedrops, and some expensive steroids which should fix the problem in either a few weeks or a few months. It also means that I have to throw away my very expensive contact lenses and that I won’t be able to drive to work with any regularity.

Sure, I could make it there in the morning, but after ten hours of staring at a computer through the wrong prescription, I won’t be able to see straight enough to judge a beauty contest between Selma Hayek and Salmon Rushdie much less drive.

So it’s walking for me! That’s 9 miles of walking per day, baby. I think I might try a little experiment. In addition to all the extra exercise, I’ll start the extreme Atkins diet. This is no carbs and as little fat as possible. So for the next few months, I’ll eat nothing but vegetables and lean meats while walking 9 or 10 miles a day. Watch as I waste away to a paltry 230 pounds (oh, the humanity). It’ll be truly depressing, I’m sure. The good news is I’ll save about a million and a half dollars a week on gasoline! So yay for that.

unrelated addendum: I've never noticed it before, but if I let my hair grow out, I'd probably look a little bit like Salmon Rushdie.

addendum #2: Somebody asked me how bad my eyesight really was. It's hard to describe. Everything is blurry and there is a lot of double vision. There is extreme light sensitivity as well. When I'm driving, if it is a bright day outside, my eyes start to hurt and I have to sqint a lot. Here are a couple examples of what it looks like:

Bad Journalism

I was bored this morning, so I googled myself to see what would come up. It turns out that one of the articles I wrote for Swine Inc. some years ago caught the attention of a Cincinnati blogger who felt the need to “rip me a new asshole” as the saying goes.

I wonder what he would have said if he’d responded to this article.

Now, you might expect me to fly off at the handle and respond in kind, but I won’t. And the reason for this is that I agree with him. That article was, in fact, poorly written and amounts to little more than senseless whining. I didn’t actually believe the things I was saying when I said them. I was born and raised in Cincinnati and I actually wanted to stay there when I graduated. Had I not been offered the job in which I currently work, I would have stayed.

So why, you ask, would I say such bad things when I don’t actually believe them? The answer lies in the words at the top of the page. It was a point counterpoint article. I had to pick one side and since the good side was taken, I had to write from the “I hate Cincinnati” angle. There is also the small fact that my articles were due at noon on Sunday mornings, and I often started them at 11:30. It wasn’t that I was lazy. It was that I just didn’t care.

This kind of thing happened often. Isaac or Brian (the opinion editors) would come up with an idea and Mark and I would fight over who got to pick which side. This would work if you had two people who were diametrically opposed on everything from politics to social issues. But we weren’t. Mark and I were generally in the middle of the road, and both of us were steeped in the mythology and culture of our city. So one of us got screwed each week.

I remember once, while standing around waiting for Nancy Zimpher to meet the News Record staff, we shared baseball stories. He says he knew several people on the West Side who had gambled with Pete Rose on a regular basis, and that this kind of thing was (and probably still is) par for the course with most blue collar workers from that area. I told the story of the time my dad got a ride home from Crosley field with Johnny Bench.

Oftentimes, I didn’t like the issues they gave us. Like the above linked article on Cincinnati, these issues were often one-sided and rarely relevant. If you look at the history of my articles, you will see that the subject matter is inconsistent. I’d criticize something one week and praise it the next. This is because, all too often, my opinion was not in fact my opinion. It was assigned.

This is why I refer to the News Record as Swine Inc. I also refer to them as such because they still have not paid me for over half of my articles. Since I was a full time staff member at the University in addition to a full time student and part time journalist, they had to jump through some huge hoops to pay me. Rather than do this, they chose to simply not pay me.

Many of the people with whom I worked are currently working in professional journalistic careers. And some of you wonder why I hate the media.

Sometimes, however, it was fun working for the News Record. There was the time I got to criticize Nancy Zimpher’s new strategic plan for the University of Cincinnati. This is the same strategic plan that took advantage of Bob Huggins’s name recognition to get the sports program into the Big East conference (thus getting the University a ton of new money), and then fired him before the season started. I do believe that Bob “2nd round and out” Huggins was overrated, but he did more for the university than anybody over the past twenty years, and those players who took the initiative ti follow his lead have succeeded both on the court and off. He didn’t deserve to be taken out back and shot like a rabid dog.

It was also fun to get an e-mail from Nancy Zimpher telling me not to write such critical articles in the public forum lest the News Record should come under fire from her office.

All told, I have to agree with Brian Griffin. My articles did suck. That’s because I didn’t try to make them good, and the News Record was only interested in filling space. All of this makes the fact that I actually won a collegiate award for editorial writing that much more astounding.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


It might still be Sunday...but who cares? Let's celebrate early!