Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dry Spell

I seem to be suffering from a terminal case of writer's block. My poor little brain has been abused to the point of converting to oatmeal and it just flat refuses to put coherent thoughts together in the form of sentences.

Honestly when I looked at my last post and saw that it was a week ago my first reaction was, "Really? Because I could have sworn I did that yesterday." Then I began to reflect on what had happened to me over the last seven days, and realized that I have had seven complete days stolen right out of my life.

It seems like everyday for the last week my feet hit the floor running and when I did manage to get some sleep it was for about six seconds. Don't get me wrong, I loved every minute of the holidays with my family. My Grandmother, who just had her second hip replaced in August was in the best Christmas mood I have seen from her in the last 10 or 15 years. I guess not being in agony will improve one's mood.

I did receive one interesting phone call from one brother from another mother on Christmas Eve. Lawdog rings me and this voice that sounds like he'd been gargling with hot charcoal says,"You've got kids. What do you do for strep throat?"

"Go to the doctor," says I.

"Anything else?"

"Nope, that's it. Go get some antibiotics, " I tell him.

"Damn. Ok, thanks."

Then I read his post and see that his call may have been a day or two too late. Next time you feel like hell brother, move your butt down to the local shaman and get treated...goober.

My week culminated in an eight hour slug-fest with the ceiling in my new house's living room. My brother(from the same mother), God love him, offered to help me fix the slight sag my ceiling had adopted over the last owner's tenure. Now when I say slight sag, I mean the center of the room was close to two inches lower than the walls. We shoved two, sixteen foot beams into my attic via a hole we opened up in one gable. Lifted the ceiling with an improvised sheet rock lift and proceeded to spend the next six hours or so squatted down in the four foot high space that is my attic. Ye gods do my legs hurt. But the effect is marvelous.

Well, I hear a heating pad calling my name.

Tole

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sweet Mother I'm Tired




I am not young anymore and I have been working my butt off, both at my job and at my house. I honestly don't know how my wife does it. She stays home all day with our 3 kids. She keeps our home livable. She keeps everyone fed and clean. And somehow she still finds the energy to go out Christmas shopping and be in a good mood even when I am not. As tired as I am, I am starting to think she is vamping energy from me whilst I sleep. She has all the respect from me I can muster.

I thought I would throw that out there to explain why it's been a day or two since my last posting. I have been coming in, throwing food down my considerable gullet and falling dead into bed. This one will most likely be short as well, but hey, what can ya do?

So the wife and the kiddos hauled off and went to the mall today for the annual picture with Santa. Well, he never saw this troop coming. As I sit here looking at the picture I notice that Santa has the biggest smile of the four of them.

When they all get to mall, Santa hadn't started his shift yet and there was a sign "Feeding the reindeer, be back shortly," so they all copped a squat in the little seating area outside the Santa Land there in the mall. I should also insert here that this is the first trip to Santa for my new baby boy who is 4 months old and also for my 3 year old as he has been sick every year prior.

Well the jolly old fat guy finally gets there and the family get in queue. When they get there my son pipes up with, "Are they fat and happy?"

"Who?" asks Santa.

"The reindeer of course," says the boy. And that pretty much set the mood for the entire visit. It is no surprise that Santa is grinning ear to ear.

Oh and speaking of this jolly old elf. The local Shop-O-Rama found a guy with a real beard down to his chest and wider than his face. Cheeks all aglow and everything. Awesome.

Merry Christmas all.


Tole






Friday, December 15, 2006

Thoughts About My Dad

You ever have one of those moments when you realize that you might not know someone as well as you had thought? I had one of those moments with my father when I was a teen. I had always known that my father owned some guns. I can even remember going to the range with him as a youth while he competed. My Dad was a member of a black powder enthusiast’s group. It was something I never realized was as important to him as it was.

My moment came when my Dad decided it was time to take us out and teach us to fire a pistol. I’d been taught to fire rifles and I was a fair shot. My brother was completely new to the world of firearms. So, Dad loads a couple of pistols and two boxes of ammo into the car and we head out into the country.

Dad had brought, what in my opinion, were his two coolest pistols. Both were .22s. One was a miniature version of a Colt .45. This thing was awesome. It was semiautomatic with a 10 round clip. Only downside to the piece was it was four or five inches long tops, so you weren’t going to be doing any long range shooting with it. The other was a single-action revolver. Now growing up in my house watching westerns every Saturday, I thought this was quite possibly the coolest gun in the world. Being a kid, my perceptions of the pistol might have been a bit skewed, but I seem to remember it having a seven or eight inch barrel and it was blued so that it glowed in the sun.

Well, we get to the place we were heading to reap mass mayhem on some beer cans, and my Dad begins to unpack the weaponry. I swear you would have thought he was building a shrine. He lays them out in the back of the Bronco II that we got around in back then. He lays the boxes of bullets down next to the pistols and begins to load them.

The whole time my father is talking about his younger days and how he used to practice a lot. I’m about 16 at the time and I have very little recollection of this practice, but he tells us he used to fire between 300 and 500 rounds a week through the revolver. See, when my Dad was in school he was a quick draw fanatic. At his prime he was supposed to have been gods awful fast. The kind of fast that would make a man piss his pants looking at a gun that hadn’t been there a split second before. My thoughts at the time came right out of the “yeah right” part of my adolescent brain, but then I can remember my Dad doing some of these, what I thought were, tricks when I was younger. There are two that I can remember to this day.

The first is a coin catch. The technique goes something like this. Place a coin on the back of your hand. Pull your hand out from under the coin, don’t toss it up, and catch it over handed. (Don’t turn your hand palm up.) Repeat this with two coins. Now it gets tricky, because you have to catch them one at a time, not as a group, and not drop the ones you’ve already caught. Did I mention you start them waist high? Yeah, you do. At his fastest, I saw my Dad catch four. He tells me that in the 60’s, when he was a real enthusiast, the national champion in quick draw could catch five. Try it. I’ve gotten to three and I thought I was flying. Five seems almost superhuman to me.

The second one is showboating, but also works the reflexes. Have your opponent, victim, whatever, hold their hands out in front of them about 8-10 inches apart like they are gonna clap. Most times the person doing the drawing will say, “GO!” and the clapper is supposed to try and get their hands closed before the “quick draw artist” can get his hand between them. This is a rigged contest because the clapper has to react to the drawer. Here’s how my Dad played. It’s the same set up as before but the clapper initiates the draw. This time the quick draw artist has to react to the clapper. See the difference? The quick draw’s reflexes are the ones having to beat the clock. I have never seen my Dad lose to this day and he’s 63. Scary fast.

Any way, back to the guns. Dad lets my brother and I shoot for a bit. He offers advice and support and after about a half an hour we are getting pretty accurate. But being angst filled youth we eventually challenge Dad with the ever popular, “If you’re so smart you do it!’ anthem of teenage boys everywhere.

My brother has the semi auto and offers it to Dad, which he declines. He instead reaches to me for the single action revolver. I stress again SINGLE ACTION. He mumbles something about being out of practice and cracks off a shot at a Coors Light can on a fence post and missed it completely.

HAH!

He opens the chamber and replaces the spent cartridge glances at my brother and I and he fires again. This time he hit it. Whoopee he hit it.

He opens the chamber and replaces the spent cartridge and repeats. He hit it again.

He opens the chamber and replaces the spent cartridge and this time I ask him why.

“Want all 6 shots,” was all he said and he smiled at us. There was something in that smile that said, “Are you ready?”

He lowers the pistol to his hip. Pulls back the hammer and draws. Crack, crack, crack, crack, crack, and crack, about as fast as you can read that, he fired all six rounds. I watched as 2 cans fell off the fence. Big whoopee do. Six shots and two hits, I could do that. I was mumbling something to that effect when Dad told me to go get the cans. What I saw there will remain in my mind until the day I die. He had hit only 2 cans; that much was true. BUT what was also true was that he had hit both cans 3 times.

I walked back to my Dad and my brother with the cans in my hands and a look of utter disbelief on my face. My Dad, master of understatement told me, “When I was in practice I could have put 5 or 6 in just one. It fell faster than I could follow so I shot the other one.”

Love ya Dad.

Tole.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Flying Cadillac

I feel like delivering some exposition...

First, I earlier referred to my group of friends in high school as the Rat Pack. We adopted this name not because we had a penchant for Vegas Lounge Music, or that we had any aspirations of someday headlining at Frank's place in that town. We called ourselves the Rat Pack, because much like a pack of rats if there was mischief afoot, we were most likely at the epicenter.

Since I'm not sure if Lawdog has introduced you to the band, let me take a moment to paint you a picture. When I joined our merry little group there were six members. Burk, our resident barbarian, was six feet plus of pure unadulterated ornery and has been buying beer since the age of 13 when his beard came in. Rotten, who earned his name from the ability to clear a gymnasium with one little popcorn fart. LG, who was the comic relief and could always be counted on to cover our retreat. Lawdog, who we all know and love. Chris, LD's brother and the embodiment of "he was so quiet, you would never have thought he would..." Finally yours truly, Tole. While LD and Chris longed to were building trebuchets to fling bowling balls, I longed to find a way to set the bowling balls on fire.

But I digress. On to the Flying Caddi. It was the beginning of the weekend. Burk had grabbed a case of suds and Rotten had managed to purloin the keys to his mom's new car. Everyone piled in and we made a b-line for some secluded country road to enjoy some forbidden happiness brought to us 12 ounces at a time. Now, we had, out of necessity, about 34 different places we went to drink where the local law enforcement officials would be unlikely to stumble across our fun. As it turns out we could have chosen better than we did on this one occasion.

I was under the impression that we were headed to a place affectionately called Troll Bridge, but as we flew past the turn realization hits. Rotten had a love for speed and we were on a straight deserted country road in an untried car. It was about this time that he exclaims, "Hey look we're doing 120!!" The LG lets fly with, "Coooool." Lawdog's knuckles were white.

It was about now that reality stepped in and reminded us all that this road ends in a T, and said T was about 15-20 feet above the surrounding landscape...

You know tires have a distinct sound when traveling down a county road in excess of 100 mph...

That sound is even more distinct when it suddenly stops and is replaced by the scream of an engine that has had all resistance removed from it's drive wheels...

That sound was soon replaced by Rotten screaming the F word for what seemed like about an hour. We must have flown 80 feet or more before we touched back down on Terra Firma and bounced, not once, but three times cutting a swath through the foliage that looked alot like that scene when Superman's childhood transport came down somewhere in Kansas.

There is one more element to this story that will push the stupidity meter right off the chart. You see, it was the early 80's and Texas had yet to pass a seat belt law. So, you guessed it, not a one of us was strapped down. Ever shake a snow globe? Imagine that all those little flecks were teenage boys inside a rather large car. When we finally came to rest the only people who were still in their original seat were Rotten, the driver, who had been held there by his airbag (LG) and Burk who had bounced off a back seat SRS...me. I was in Burk's lap, somewhat confused as to what exactly had happened except that there was a Burk shaped bruise forming on my back.

When we all get out to survey the damage, Burk immediately exits the vehicle and hurls our, as of yet unopened, case of beer as far into the underbrush as his mammoth arms can manage. And that my friends is the real tragedy of this story. We never found a single one.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Have a Very Twisted Christmas

Last weekend the wife made me go to Wally World with her and as penance to her I bought a new CD. I promised myself when I started this blogging experiment that I would not let it devolve into music and movie reviews...and I won't...after this one...I promise. This just has to be shared with the world.

In my youth I was a bit of a metal head...I was a bit of a metal head like Hiroshima was a bit of a bang. Anyway, my indoctrination to this particular style of music came at the not so gentle hands of Twisted Sister. Imagine my shock and surprise to find that not only did they have a new album on the shelves, but that it was a collection of Christmas classics. Never being one to ignore morbid curiosity, I bought the thing.

After two times through, I ripped it into mp3s and added it to my Christmas directory and put it on rotation with the likes of Bing, Frank, Andy and all their milk-toast musical ilk. Say what you will about the musicians your parents/grandparents listen to, but they lay down some mean Christmas music. God help them, now they share hard-drive space with Dee Snider.

Now, I'm not gonna say, "I recommend this to any fan of the genre" or "I give it 4 out of 5 stars" or any other pompous "I know more than you" cliche crap. Just that I enjoyed it and my children bounced around my house the whole time it was on.

Tole

Monday, December 11, 2006

Growing up with Lawdog

Ok, while I am trying to put together the random sparks that are scurrying their little gimp butts around in my cerebrum, I thought I'd tell a little story on my buddy Lawdog. Maybe give a little insight into our unique relationship.

It was the summer of 1988. I was an incoming freshman at the local University and had met some lovelies at orientation. I, being the stand up guy that I am, decided that 3 girls were WAY too many for me to handle on my own, so I rang old LD and told him to get his tail to the school. We all decided to have a few drinks and check out the new Nightmare on Elm Street movie...number 4 I believe. Well, a few drinks turned into double shots of PR 151 and Jager.

LD was an abstainer at the time and remained the only sober one in the bunch...personally I think he did it just to get to do what he did later...but I get ahead of myself.

The time finally came to head out to the theater and well, I fell down 3 flights of stairs taking 2 of the young ladies with me. Fortunately, we were REALLY relaxed and no one got hurt. LD and I pile into my truck (which I still own to this day...I'm sure we'll get to talk about Old Blue at some point) and the girls into one of their cars and off to the movies we go.

I seem to remember leaning heavily on someone whilst buying my ticket...I think it was LD and one of the girls...not sure. Not 5 min later my body decided it was going to take umbrage at all the ethanol coursing through my veins and I lost all control of several bodily functions. LD being the buddy he is rushes me into the necessary room so I can make my mess on tiled a floor.

And now, the sole reason I believe he didn't imbibe back in those days. LD decided that it was his responsibility, nay his God given right to get me sober in the next 10 min. Every time I hoarked, he would ask me a question and regardless of the answer tell me I was wrong and slap the ever-loving piss out of me. This usually had the effect of triggering another eruption of Mt. Tolewyn...rinse and repeat.

After what had to be a week and a half of this cycle, LD decides that he isn't going to reach his goal. He makes apologies to the girls and throws my near dead butt back in the truck. I lived, I kid you not, 5 miles from the theaters. LD put over 50 miles on my truck getting me home. Why you ask? Well, it seems that it had begun to rain and LD decided that the thing that will finally straighten me out is some nice cool rain water...administered to my face...at 60mph.

Did I mention that I had hair past my shoulders? By the time he got me home it was full of mud and twigs and in one big knot on the back of my head. If I had but used the brain that I spoke of in my earlier post I would have seen the pattern of this behavior over the previous 5 or so years of our friendship when I had seen him and several other members of the Rat Pack administer similar "slobber-knockings" to those in the group who overshot their tolerance of the demon liquor.

Which calls to mind an episode I call the "Flying Cadillac" or "Jay's mom is gonna kill us." But that is another story.

Here Goes Nothing

Well, here goes my first attempt to put myself out there for the world to see and not look like a total git. Most of the random thoughts that will cross my mind would get me committed or at the very least given a strong case of the "hairy eyeball' by anyone who stumbles across these mad ramblings.

I am and will always be, quite mad, but I have kept it locked away for those who know me best to revel in. Now, I feel the urge to share it with the world. I sense that this is a good place to insert some back story for those of you new to my nightmare. I grew up in a town of less than 3000 people in Texas and was cursed with a brain. For anyone who has never lived in a small town in Texas let me explain why this is a bad circumstance. You see, the average IQ in my home town hovered around that of cro-magnon man, and oddly enough some of my school mates can list making fire under their greatest accomplishments. Enter me, who understood calculus and could speak in compound sentences and viola you have a recipe for frequent and repeated beating and oppression.

Now you understand a little better why there is a crowd here in my head. Long about the 8th grade I found another castaway or two there in my home town. Lawdog is a blogger here. He and his brother have been my best friends for going on 25 years. They helped me more than they can ever know. So, dear reader, if you hear something in my writing that smacks of LD's style, there is a very good reason for it. We are of a kind.

Please ignore the lack of style in the formatting of this somewhat weak attempt at prose. I am sure that it will improve as I get time to fiddle with this mess. That being said, I will wrap this up for now. Hope to get to know alot of you soon.

Tole