Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Force is with me...sort of.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

The Force is with me, found this test on Utah Savages' site that "determines" what science fiction character I am and it turns out I'm Obi-Wan Kenobi. That is the freaking best news I have had in a couple of weeks. Got to admit though that I answered my questions on a fairly high New Age psycho-babble level since while I don't really follow any organized religion, I don't believe humans have discovered all that makes up reality and the universe. Now please understand that my sanity, while out in interstellar space, does exist although I admit it's true shape is yet to be determined. There is no ghost in my house for me to talk with other than my sex life. I don't go around tracking Bigfoot where I live for the simple matter the first time he pooped in someone's yard in all these subdivisions he would be hunted down and killed. The only UFO's I believe in are the ones that stole Saddam's weapons of mass destruction just to make Bush look bad. And I only wear my aluminum foil hat when my in-laws come over. But I do have evidence of the la Chupacabra since I dated her once....or twice, and no, I didn't marry her. Thats is a whole other story.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Insulting the Chimps again

Chimpanzees are not the nice cute creatures some believe or others would like to make us think. It has been fairly well documented that our closest cousins can easily display some of the worst aspects of homo sapien behavior. Jane Goodall's research has gone as far as describing chimpanzees practicing cannibalism, petty power struggles, and war. But like us they have also shown the other side practicing altruism, compassion, and reassurance.

When all things are generally considered though while we have created great works of art and literature, explored the reaches of both the sub-atomic and the intergalactic, built great cities and civilizations,and are trying to come to grips some of the worse aspects of our species. They at least don't have the ability to destroy the world and exclaim it is all worth it in the name of God, democracy, or free markets. And despite the following article I have this strange idea that if they were confronted with their version of our outgoing president they would recognize him for his true nature. Instead of electing him in the first place their basic instinct would probably have been to collect a hand full of poop and throw it at him, or a shoe if they had one close by.

Humans And Chimps Register Faces By Using Similar Brain Regions
ScienceDaily (Dec. 27, 2008) — Chimpanzees recognize their pals by using some of the same brain regions that switch on when humans register a familiar face, according to a report published online on December 18th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. The study—the first to examine brain activity in chimpanzees after they attempt to match fellow chimps' faces—offers new insight into the origin of face recognition in humans, the researchers said.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Sucks!

My greatest Christmas wish is for a fallout shelter that I can shut myself in and not come out of until after New Year's Day. The simplest way to explain my total and unabashed embrace of Scrooge-ism is that while some still find joy in the celebration of religious holidays or reconnecting with family and friends I find this season to be awash in hyper-commercialism and corporate induced anxiety.

A much to recent visit to the true local place of worship, the mall, resulted in the observation of various individuals barely able to cope with factors such as child expectations and financial realities. Little Johnny, standing defiantly in the electronics department clutching a Playstation 3, just didn't have a clue why mommy's credit card was a molten puddle in her pocketbook. While such events have been common for decades I have personally reached the age that I increasingly want to disconnect totally from the "holiday season". Instead of sugar plums dancing in my head I have visions of a peaceful quiet place cut off from this joyous time.

A better and less claustrophobic Christmas wish would be a sailboat that I could cruise around the Caribbean in until such time people are talking about Valentine's Day. Spending Christmas Day on some secluded beach away from the greater mass of civilization could, in theory at least, spark a small rebirth of holiday spirit. Especially if there is a nice jerk chicken stand nearby with cold beer. If anyone out there can help a suffering Beach Bum please contact me. I swear these damn Christmas carols and television specials, overdone holiday decorations, mall zombies, spoiled brats, in-laws, and holiday traffic are going to send me into a coma. Wasn't the Recession suppose to put a damper on all this shit?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Soldiers, debauchery, and inflatable sex toys

Many people that never served in the armed forces often have a narrow view of what service life is like. Yes, it can be regimented and stifling with rules that at times can seem Orwellian. The one factor that is often overlooked is that these rules exist to develop a sense of discipline that in a time of war actually save lives. Orders have to be followed to the letter the very second they are issued at times so that not only is the mission accomplished but at the least possible cost of people and materials. Never the less that does not mean soldiers, or anyone else serving in the armed forces are mindless robots. Quite the contrary, those serving in the military find other unique way to express our individuality. Its just that expressing our individuality didn't usually involve a sexual blowup doll and helium.
I was pulling an unexpected extended duty of CQ runner early one morning waiting for both the new CQ and his runner to take over for the next 24 hour cycle. For those unfamiliar with “CQ” (Charge of Quarters) in the army is the guy, normally a junior NCO, whose duty is to represent the company commander in the barracks after normal duty hours. In more down to earth terms the CQ’s mission is to make sure the semi-barbarous barracks inhabitants conform to at least a small degree of civilized behavior.
Things like keeping the volume down on the porn movies, seeing that government property in the barracks is not carried off to some pawn shop, and making sure the barracks are kept generally clean. If for some reason there is a failure on any of these items the CQ runner (a lower enlisted man) normally gets the glorious duty of enforcing the CQ’s will. That is because the CQ, largely experiencing his first taste of command and often leadership, either doesn’t want to give up the nice comfortable swivel office chair at the CQ desk or that he has disappeared into one of the rooms running an all night porn festival. So my night as CQ runner had me making sure the moans of orgasmic delight coming from prerecorded videos were kept turned down so others could sleep. That the two drunken guys trying to cart off the soda machine and television from the dayroom were stopped. And that the puke coming from the guy passed out in the latrine stall was cleaned up. Yeah, I was a real army of one being all I could be if you want to press the point.
While my night had been actually rather boring the CQ had the misfortune to have two of the ladies he was dating bring him dinner at the same time and catch him watching porn flicks. Being bound by the duty to overlord all the sad barrack rats he was unable to quell the resulting chaos at that time but left just as soon as our duty was over that morning. Our replacements in turn were caught up in some sort of battalion level meeting leaving me holding the fort until they showed up.
It was then that as I sat at the CQ’s desk in the very comfortable office chair slightly more than half asleep that I noticed this bizarre creature coming up the stairs. It was vaguely female and partially wrapped in an army blanket but the hair had the quality of some cheerleader’s pom-pom, her face looked bloated somehow with a skin texture like latex, and her mouth seemed permanently set open in some sort of gasp of surprised. Being slightly more than half asleep the thought that crawled around in my head was that one of my more hapless and desperate fellow barracks rats had picked up a seriously messed up chick at some bar and was trying to sneak her up into his room, a situation that I myself had tried to do more than once. One time the attempt was made to just to get caught and have the CQ send the seriously clingy girl I had met at the mall home and me to my room in refuge. Much to my surprise as the cobwebs were shaken off I realized that the female coming up the stairs was no female; in fact she wasn’t even human much less walking under her own power. Coming into view, now with an exposed naked breast as the army blanket fell partially away, was a rather elaborate blow up doll being carried by one of my friends Jody Vogel, with a huge shit eating grin on his face.
At first I was actually quite puzzled over why someone like Jody would think he would need the “services” of such a sex toy. Simply put Jody had trust fund money, a close to brand new Trans Am, looks that bordered on the GQ level, and a devil-may-care attitude that served him well with the ladies. One day on an excursion to Denver right after Jody, a couple of other guys, and myself arrived at Fort Carson somewhere downtown Jody saw three very attractive ladies walking across the street. Right in the middle of traffic Jody turned his car around, pulled up next to them and simply asked to take a picture with them. Given that the ladies, all dressed in business casual and looking like they were at lunch, had never seen him before the thought running through my head right then was at best they would smile and say no. Instead what transpired was an impromptu photo session right on the sidewalk with those ladies posing for pictures with him in rather provocative shots. After it was all over phone numbers were exchanged, all going to and from him with my fellow compatriots and me looking on in resignation. That wouldn’t be the last time anything like that happened but playing second banana wingman to Jody did give that person a better than average to chance to score real well. But still seeing Jody with the blow up doll did raise some rather strange questions.
I quickly learned his recent absence was due to him returning home to Houston to pick up items for his new off post apartment the battery commander and First Sergeant had allowed him to rent and move into. I already knew Jody had spent one year at the University of Texas, became disillusioned with the kids richer than him whining about what they didn’t have and in a fit that I described to him as sheer stupidity he felt the need to enlist and serve to spend some time away from that privileged life. As a going away present some his college buddies bought him the blow up doll he was carrying so he “would never be lonely” amongst a bunch of guys. Jody saw fit to name his new latex companion “Ashley” after a former girlfriend, and one of the rich whiners, who proved to be far more trouble than she was worth.
Feeling the need to be briefed on the events of the previous week Jody sat the blow up doll Ashley in one nearby chair. He recovered her with the blanket and grabbed another chair for himself to hear about the various mishaps and adventures of our platoon leader who while having a retired full bird Colonel dad who showed dynamic leadership during combat in both Korea and Vietnam didn’t share those genes with his son. The entire platoon pretty much felt our platoon sergeant was going way above the call of duty trying to shape the young Second Lieutenant into useful officer material.
I was just happy to have someone around me to keep my sleepy mind occupied. Jody had been on the road himself a rather long time so as I recounted how the platoon leader screwed the pooch that week we didn’t hear our platoon sergeant come up the hallway who had come to check on me since I was pulling extra duty. That damn bastard was as quiet as a mouse so when he cleared his throat looking in abject bafflement at the covered human form in the other chair both Jody and I were more than a little surprised.
“Gentlemen”, Sergeant First Class Blackledge said walking over to Ashley’s covered form, “what in the hell have you all done?” Pulling back the blanket exposing Ashley the look he gave us went from bafflement to disgust then to some sort of humor. “Okay, I just don’t want to know anything about this other than it won’t be seen again in the barracks.” He said and I figured with his twenty plus years he had already served this had to be minor in the greater scheme of things involving lower enlisted types.
“Sure thing Sergeant”, Jody chimed in answering the question who Ashley belonged to. “My friend here is going to my new apartment.” That shit eating grin returned and Blackledge walked away shaking his head.
“Vogel, I just don’t see why you would need one of those things with the women I’ve seen you with.” He said turning around and pulling something out of his cargo pocket on the side of his BDU pants. “Now Private Bum”, he said referring to me, “I wouldn’t put anything past him.” He then did something pretty rare; he smiled and threw me the MRE he had been carrying in his cargo pocket. “The battalion meeting will be over in about an hour or two so that’s your breakfast Bum. But make sure Vogel and his friend are out by the time your replacements show up.” With that he left as quietly as he came.
Jody’s apartment was located a few miles down a side street off Academy Drive that just a few years before I’m sure had either been pasture or farm land. And for a new apartment complex it seemed to have seedy and dilapidated purposely added to the design plan. The place had a pool that we were told never had any water in it because the thing cracked along the side right after the complex opened and the owners didn’t want to put money into something that would be open only a few months of the year. All around it were new strip malls, convenience stores, and other almost as equally seedy apartment complexes that catered to the lower enlisted of Fort Carson and to a certain extent Peterson Air Force base. The charm Jody saw in the place was that it was crawling with young ladies, newly out of school and living on their own for the first time. The proverbial fox had let himself into the hen house and he had invited all his friends. Many nights his apartment would be used as a place to party away from the post and crash after a sudden snow storm came down from the mountains ending whatever activities taking place in town. However, it was a refuge if we had just gotten so blitzed that driving back onto Fort Carson would be akin to suicide after the front gate MP smelled the alcohol on the driver’s breath.
Now Jody didn’t give his friends free rein of his apartment. He had certain rules that had to be adhered to for what he called the “Debauchery Den”. The first rule was that while food of any sort could be brought into the apartment no one was to touch his stuff already in the refrigerator. And if you brought Oreo cookies in you better have your name on the bag or Jody would claim them. The most important thing was that while we were welcome to use his place if he wasn’t home or crash there out of sheer drunkenness, inclement weather, or seeking refuge from angry girlfriends hovering around the barracks. If we entered the apartment complex and saw Ashley standing guard on Jody’s small second story patio we were simply out of luck because Jody was entertaining and not to be interrupted. While this was a good idea we did find it unusual that when Ashley was standing guard she would be wearing a different set of clothes. None of us ever wanted to ask Jody where he got all of Ashley’s dress up clothes much less picture him spending time dressing her.
More sin was collectively committed in that apartment complex than can reasonably be explained even taking the foolish energy of youth into consideration. In our free time the parties could end up being rather creative with us one time during the summer dressing up the empty pool that still hadn’t been fixed and more or less acting as if it had water in it. I think we actually tried something called skinny dipping dancing in the pool but the memory is thankfully hazy. Many nights after the last drop of alcohol was consumed and with no one even remotely coherent enough to go out for more bodies would be sprawled out on the floor in a helter skelter manner looking both like a murder scene and orgy at the same time. Clothes remained on, or at least that’s the story I’m sticking to, but the closest I got to a three-way involved how my girlfriend at the time and I didn’t have a pillow one of those nights with some people actually sleeping on the bathroom floor with us having to use the ever ready Ashley to cushion our heads.
Changes had to come and by 1990 our little group was about to go its separate ways. Enlistments were ending for several of us, some had already reenlisted for different duties and posting that pulled them away. More to the point a certain maturity was finally starting to seep into the consciousness of all of us left. A few relationships developed taking a couple of the guys to the altar, after a suitably morally corrupting bachelor party or course. Moreover, the parties that never really seemed to end actually degraded to the point that some weekends we could be found just watching some non-porn movie on video. For the most part the group would be totally gone by August of 1990 and discussions started to revolve around about how we would close out our time as a platoon and as friends. Surprisingly it was the commanding general of the post that gave us our idea; unfortunately it ultimately meant the sacrifice of Ashley.
I have no idea if it’s done now but there use to be a tradition of hanging an old pair of boots from some high point, like a telephone pole or tree, to celebrate the completion of a successful term of enlistment or in some cases, a career. It was during a minor field training exercise that Lawrence Sanders, a fellow member of our little group, saw an article in the on post newspaper on how the commanding general used his personal helicopter close out his career. Hovering just above the highest point on some elm tree that was heavily used to hang outgoing service member’s boots from, he draped his boots on the highest limb. The article came complete with a picture of the general leaning out the open door of the squeaky clean and new Blackhawk hovering over the tree with his boots in hand showing off what had to be thousands of dollars of dental work. The article went on to say he didn’t figure anyone could ever get their boots any higher off the ground. It didn’t take us long to begin to figure out a way to outdo the “Old Man”.
Far more discussion in how we were going to outdo someone with the personal use of a helicopter went on than I want to admit. While we had matured to a certain extent with wild partying no longer holding quite the appeal it once did I for one grew bored about all the strategies and technical plans that were thrown about like we were planning a mission to the moon. But as we were sitting in Jody’s apartment watching some baseball game a sudden heavy wind blew down from the mountains catching Ashley, who has not moved back inside from the patio, and blowing her off the patio and out in the open. We all scrambled outside and ended up running several blocks to catch her after the wind died down and she came to rest on top of a local deli that was part of a strip mall. I won’t go into the looks we got from the manager, staff, and customers as several guys, some still partially in uniform, rushed in asking if we could go on the roof to bring down our sexual bow up doll who happened to be our unofficial platoon mascot. In stunned disbelief the manager said yes but when we came back down and the look from everyone in the deli got even worse. I did feel the need to assure them as we walked out that our relationship with the doll was strictly platonic. Walking back to the apartment hoping that the cops, or even worse the press, wouldn’t show up to ask questions most of us began talking about how high up the wind had taken Ashley as she was blown from the patio. From there even lowly army types could figure how this might work to our advantage.
Scuttlebutt had that the Old Man was a fanatic about golf and whenever the snows melted would be on the Fort Carson golf course playing every weekend. Since a good portion of Fort Carson sat in the foothills in the very shadow of Cheyenne Mountain the terrain around the golf course had several convenient prominences that would provide ample concealment for the plans we had made. It was mid-morning on a Saturday in May that we loaded up Jody’s car and took the short drive to a position on the opposite side of a hill that faced the greater portion of the post golf course. Not much in the way of occupied buildings existed at that time of the side we were using. Most were empty having been part of the old Fort Carson hospital that now was housed in a brand new facility further down the road and close enough to the gold course that if our plans were successful would give any patients or staff that happened to be looking in our direction a good show.
Poor Ashley had been partially deflated for the trip and for an inanimate object looked out of sorts for what was going to be her day of glory. Jody had purchased two canisters of helium meant to blowup children’s balloons and as Lawrence and I held Ashley she was connected to the spout and filled with the gas. Ashley took all of one canister and most of the other to be filled to the point where she had taken her full form. After that a pair of highly spit shined jump boots were slipped over her delicate feet and because of the size difference had to be duct taped at the top of the boots and at her calves. A couple of other guys in our group had taken up a position near the crest of the small hill we were behind and with binoculars were trying to see who might be at the golf course to see the event were about to start. The Old Man simply couldn’t be spotted and after several minutes we had to be satisfied with a group of golfer that would see Ashley once she was released. A couple of the girls along with us had small air horns and when after we all said our goodbyes to Ashley the signal was given for her release with the girls activating the air horns.
Our little plan was to have the Old Man, as he was playing golf, hear the air horns and look up to see Ashley with her boots reflecting the sun lift off into the air Rapture-like as if she was going to meet Jesus. Paraphrasing here, but the best laid plans of mice and drunken soldiers just don’t pan out sometimes. What happened was that Ashley did not disappear into the clouds as the people at the golf course stared in awe. Instead she reached an altitude of what had to be at best three hundred feet and started drifting in the wind. None of us were rocket scientists and to this day I don’t know if it was the helium canisters which actually had a rather high mix of normal air since they were just meant of children’s balloons. The weight of the boots on Ashley, or that since Fort Carson was already so high above sea level Ashley didn’t reach anywhere near the altitude we thought she would.
Nevertheless, we found ourselves transfixed as Ashley in her blow up doll nakedness, with her cheerleader pom-pom like hair blazing, started to drift deeper into Fort Carson in what was just about plain site. Better judgment would have had us beat a hasty retreat hoping no one had seen us launch our inflatable friend who, despite the logical part of my mind, I couldn’t help but think was slightly pissed with us.
We loaded up and sort of followed her as she passed the main Post Exchange, the post library, and commissary all just then opening with people milling around. Jody’s Trans Am had a sunroof which allowed us to keep good sight of her but we did not take into account that someone had to watch the road and we almost ran off a few times or into several telephone poles until Jody forced himself to keep his attention on driving.
Ashley continued to drift passing over the heart of Fort Carson which because it was Saturday was largely deserted. That is until it she drifted over a huge parade ground used for large unit formations and was surrounded by various unit headquarter buildings including our air defense battalion and the division artillery brigade that was practicing for a brigade level change of command on the parade grounds right then. Jody’s car turned the corner coming out from behind the belchers when we saw the better part of the artillery brigade in formation and this time there was some serious officer rank both on the grass and stands now looking up at our helium filled friend drifting overhead. Discretion being the better part of valor, especially with a full bird colonel in plain sight, we quickly turned around and into the parking lot of our battalion headquarters only to see the now First Sergeant Blackledge looking up as well, shaking his head, and looking directly at Jody and myself.
We gave up trying to follow Ashley actively but watched as she pasted further out catching a change in the wind that took her south pretty much toward Pueblo, Colorado. We all went back to Jody’s apartment and had one last blowout party that despite our almost toxic levels of inebriation had us gathered around the television wondering if any word of Ashley might be mentioned on the late night news. I mean a naked inflatable sex toy floating above a major city has to bump the normal man-bites-dog story on a slow news day. But, nothing was mentioned and as usual we all ended up passed out of the floor.
There were repercussions though, the grapevine had it that the full bird colonel whose change of command practice we slightly interrupted reportedly fell down laughing his ass off thinking the blow up doll floating by was something done for him. First Sergeant Blackledge never spoke a word to us about the whole affair but we learned he put in for retirement the first thing the following Monday morning. Nothing ever filtered down from division in the way of someone complaining about Ashley floating over such family-friendly areas as the Post Exchange and commissary. I figure these days if such a thing were to happen not only would the moral Gestapo make a fuss but Homeland Security would have scrambled jets and placed the Vice President in some undisclosed location.
As for Ashley, we all spoke well of her in our final days but by unanimous consent all pictures of our parties over the years were divided up and locked away before we left, each person having enough to get the others in trouble. Since people’s behavior normally moderates as they grow older I’m sure many of my former friends, now with respectable jobs and lives, ruminate back on those times and wonder what in the hell were we thinking and that thankfully Ashley, wherever she is, can’t talk.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Infected with a viral story, and it was fun

Author's note: Got tagged by Randal with a story virus and surprisingly both Dragonwife and Wiggles left the house to go shopping so I had some time to get some writing done. Finally rabid Christmas consumerism actually was a help for a change. But the deal was this from I, Splotchy's site:

Randal did his part and then tagged me, along with several others. So if this doesn't make any sense drift over to his excellent place and see the beginning. I hope Randal is cool with what I have done and I hope I followed the rules. But here it goes. As for tagging someone else the only person that might come close to wanting to do this I know,and hasn't already been tagged, is Zombieslayer.

Entering Arkham the banner overhead told of the annual Vegetarian Zombies Association convention with the group's motto underneath, “The living are friends not food.” Somewhere underneath the Disneyworld castle I figured the frost burned body of old Walt was spinning in his frozen capsule with the living dead so obliviously stealing something, however obliquely, from one of his movies and his incestuous domain that his acolytes protected so feverishly. The villainous corporate rat versus the living dead, the zombies just don’t know what they may gotten themselves into. However, happily it wasn’t my fight and I soon saw the bus approaching my destination.

We pulled into the bus station with an ease that seemed bizarre for the pretty young maniac that had piloted this contraption that was probably held together just with good intentions, duct tape, and maybe some sticky slime if the condition of the bus floor was any example. She collected her jacket as she adjusted her miniskirt that had ridden further up her thigh exposing a tattoo of some cute teddy bear eating the remains of a small child, the symbol of an old rock band whose music now was standard on the oldies and easy listening stations these days. I felt the old stirrings of youth and lust just under the surface of my ancient and stoic exterior, so much so that I focused my electric eye ever closer on the near busting cleavage her blouse barely contained. My mind began wandering and for someone like me that is always a mistake.

“So how about asking me about Dagon?” I heard her say which brought me back quickly to this particular reality. I looked up refocusing my eye to see her standing right next to me, her face cold and so lovely inhuman with her black hair flowing off the side of one shoulder.

“Excuse me miss?” I coughed out startled and embarrassed.

“If you want to do more than just look at the goods you have to come to our seminar. Dagon will not only show you the path to eternal glory and power but we have timeshares on the coast that frankly only foolish mortals would pass up.”

The vision before me now seemed tainted and spoiled. Dagon was nothing but a minor real estate deity hawking cheap condos and low financing, such a waste. After disengaging myself from her the best I could I made my way off the bus careful not to forget the small leather bag I was carrying and began walking through the bus station looking for the entity that I had to give the bag.

The whole spectrum of living, living dead, undead, possessed, phantoms, and spirits mingled in the dirty environment of Arkham’s bus station. My electric eye caught sight of some poor zombie, apparently here for the convention, on his cell phone trying to explain to his wife how he fell off the wagon and ate some living person. The sadness I saw in his eyes was awful, even the one hanging out the socket dangling by the crusty remains of his optic nerve. However, sitting off away from all the rest was some very pale fellow dressed in nice black slacks, white oxford shirt, black jacket and shoes holding a sign that said: Winford Picklesworth, the entity I was suppose to meet.

Walking up to him I quickly realized that Winford was a vampire. We exchanged greetings with me careful not to expose my neck and tempt the undead creature with my old but still valuable blood.

“Not to worry sir,” he politely said. “I’m just here to get my package from you.” Instantly I felt at ease with this creature of the night and didn’t know why. While for mortal appearances he looked around his late twenties to early thirties my experienced guess was that he had to be closer to three hundred.

“Well young man,” taking into account what I thought his true age was, “here you go. “I must say that while professionally I shouldn’t ask I’m curious to why so much would be spent to pay for an in person delivery?” As soon as the words left my mouth I figured the good undead man would go all vampire and do something like rip my head off.

“I’m so glad you asked.” Winford said as he took possession of the leather bag and opened it. “Because when I get a chance to praise the Lord to the unsaved I feel it is my duty to spread his word.”

In shock I recoiled to see him pull out a specially crafted cross and bible from the bag. It was then I realized that I had run across the strangest thing in at least three parallel universes. He was a member of “Vampires for Jesus” and the cross and bible I brought for him and been specially blessed by none other than big dude in Rome. Needless to say I got the hell out of there claiming that my electric eye was about to die out. As I walked away I couldn’t help but wonder where in the world did freaks like him come from?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Damn it Jim, its a new Star Trek movie.

Holy warp drive, phasers, and antimatter! The Hollywood establishment might have made a Star Trek movie that may actually be worth the eight dollar ticket. Getting seriously Trek nerdy here but for years I lived off the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty. Rerun after freaking rerun I gladly watched Kirk bag the hot alien chick, Spock deal with his interstellar mother issues, McCoy tell everyone time and time again that he was a doctor damn it, and Scotty rig up the warp drive like a Christmas tree to get just a little more warp power. Of course I lusted after Uhura like you wouldn't believe, but I just will not go into that.

Then Roddenberry had to bring in the Next Generation crew and while they were good for a few laughs I just couldn't feel the same about them since Picard had to have a staff meeting to discuss implications for the Federation if he took a crap while on patrol next the neutral zone, and turning over the Enterprise to Riker was sure fire way to get the ship blown up or at least taken over by hostile aliens. I swear there were times I wished Worf would have gone all Klingon on them sometimes. Especially after the last three Next Generation movies that frankly I wish someone could tell me didn't seriously suck on all counts. And don't get me started on Wesley Crusher, if that character wasn't a reason to root for the Borg to collectivize the whole lot then I'm a primate's uncle.

For those wondering no, I do not have a stash of Star Trek toys, I got rid of them a few years ago but I do still have my plastic Vulcan ears. Long live and prosper, y'all.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

About that wedding...

The Time: September 25, 2008
The Place: On the road in central eastern Virginia

Believe it or not it was a dark and stormy night as I drove the starship (the family CR-V) up I-95 trying to find our way to some place called Sandbridge Beach, Virginia for my brother-in-law's wedding. Past military training for me has that when driving the guy or gal riding in the front passenger seat not only is the navigator but carries the job of making sure the driver, that was me, stays alert. Much to my dissatisfaction as I was driving I would repeatedly find Dragonwife reading some culinary magazine using a small book light. Normally keeping my wife preoccupied on long trips is a good thing but since this area was terra incognito for me I would have greatly appreciated her attention due to the severe rain, blasting winds, and heavy traffic I was driving through was seriously freaking me out. Instead I was periodically getting shown glossy pictures of various entrees that strangely reminded me of what the occupants of automobiles looked like in the aftermath of terrible car crashes. At least the kids were quiet with my son, Darth Spoilboy, and daughter, Miss Wiggles, being entertained. The former with his iPod and the latter watching a "Bratzs" movie on the portable DVD player. This was a good thing since I started to see in the rain this looming concrete octopus of several highway overpasses stacked on top of each over with the arms being roads moving off if different directions. In a rush Dragonwife dropped the magazine she was reading and began trying to tell me which of the many series of exits I would soon have to take. I in turn was careening across lanes while praying that we all didn't end up a sticky paste on the wet road because my brother-in-law had to be married in some out of the way romantic place. The MapQuest directions were saying something on the order of five separate exits all less than a mile apart. As usual for the Beach Bum/Dragonwife navigation team we missed one of the exits which I thought would soon have us replaying the old Bugs Bunny cartoon of him tunneling through the ground on a trip, coming up to the surface realizing he was very off course, in some sort of cartoon adventure, and that he should have taken a left turn at Abuquerque. At this point we tried to loop back around but due to rain, unfamiliar territory, and general grumpiness of both pilot and navigator we ended up on some county road which at least had the benefit of being out of traffic. Now I know guys are suppose to be the ones that don't want to ask for directions but I did stopping at several convenience stores hoping that someone would actually know where their store was in relation to the rest of the world. After hitting one in which the store clerk actually admitted to being a local and knowing something about the area we wandered around until we figured he was back at the store snickering about the tourists he sent on a wild goose chase. But since God looks after children and fools we came to a stop at an intersection and accidentally noticed a landmark that matched one on the poorly printed map we got from MapQuest. Back on track we made our way finally to the Sandbridge Beach area stopping at a fantastic seaside restaurant. It was still raining heavily as we tried to enter the restaurant with the hostess telling us that the area all the way toward Virginia Beach was experiencing a tropical storm that suddenly formed that day.

The restaurant was awesome, it was locally owned and operated and not some crappy national chain with mass produced pop culture stuff hanging from every space inside. Surfboards of various styles and lengths hug from the walls, a sign on the door assured us the seafood was locally caught, and the waitress was wearing a tight t-shirt. I don't know who was happier, Darth Spoilboy or myself, since he actually removed his iPod and talked to the young lady serving us along with openly staring at her nicely shaped assets. Anyone who reads me even a little will easily understand I was doing the same thing.

While our travels had been hard the delay its caused was beginning to be welcomed since had we arrive earlier we would have been drawn into Dragonwife's sister cooking dinner for the entire clan. Past history has Dragonwife's sister, Lady Trump, being large and in charge of the kitchen and freely drafting anyone into her service. Past history in such events have Dragonwife and me doing kitchen cleanup with Dragonwife going AWOL soon into the assignment. She would explain that her family doesn't get together all that often and she wanted some time to catch up with them. But since we ended up so late getting in having to stop for dinner we arrived at the house with dinner and cleanup done. I never asked who got saddled with cleanup but several disgruntled looks from the extended family sitting in the living room gave me a undue satisfaction and a general idea of who it was as we came in.

The rental house we were in for the weekend was beyond huge bordering on enormous. It has TWELVE bedrooms with four of them having two sets of bunk beds. Two fully furnished living rooms on the second and third floors, five bathrooms, and two decks again on the second and third floors with a deck area on ground level around the small swimming pool. Since the house was on stilts beside the pool area was a relatively sheltered space for parties that was going to be put to use Friday night. Now some might think we would have most in not the entire Dragonwife clan staying in such a place but it was only my immediate family, Dragonwife's parents, and Dragonwife's sister Lady Trump and her daughter. Mrs. Sunshine, my mother-in-law had some of her family (about six people) in another rental. Warren Beatty Sunshine, my brother-in-law had one for him and his fiancee. His fiancee, the soon to be Beautiful Gorgeous-Sunshine had her family in another house nearby as well. Mr. Sunshine, my father-in-law, couldn't get any of his people to break away from their jobs in Hell or from causing world-wide chaos but had they came I'm sure they would rented another beach house as well. All told I'm sure the wedding was a boost to the local economy.

Early Friday morning Wiggles came and got me out of bed wanting to walk on the beach and watch the sun rise. Since I had about nothing to say in the matter as far as my daughter was concerned I did whatever good dad did in such situations. I put on my shoes and went walking on the cold beach. After everyone finally went to bed the night before leaving the house quiet I swear I could feel the house swaying in the wind and hear more than the usual noise of creaks and groans. The truth to the matter was that as I strolled the beach with my daughter I started talking with another couple also walking around who were old time locals to the area near Sandbridge Beach. What they told me was that when the rental houses were built certain corners were cut in their construction. In a conspiratorial tone I was told that since the rental houses were never built to be family homes the roof trusses and rafters along with the floor joists were spaced farther apart to lessen construction costs. The husband of the couple also floated the idea that if a hurricane ever tore the place up he figured the rental agencies would clean up nicely having the federal government help pay for rebuilding the area . Of course as our conversation moved on to different subjects this couple began expressing their belief in UFO's and how Christ was going to return to Earth in one.

After our walk Wiggles and I returned to the house for breakfast. Lady Trump was once again cooking which brought me a sudden desire to go and find a McDonald's but once I found out it was simply scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes and not some sort of exotic breakfast recipe like the cauliflower spaghetti aglio olio, grilled lamb shoulder chop or salmon mango bango she made for breakfast at my house on several of her past Christmas visits. All I'm sure are fine meals for the most discriminating connoisseur but just don't figure in my menu.

Of course everyone should know Miss Wiggles in the picture and the other pretty little girl is Lady Trump's daughter the delightful Miss Giggles. Giggles gave me a new nickname on this visit and as far as she is concerned I'm not, or ever have been Uncle Beach, I am "Big Tummy." Sadly you can't fight the truth.

I figured I would get saddled with clean up since I was able to avoid it the night before but Darth Spoilboy, never a morning person, really ticked off Dragonwife that morning and ended up having kitchen cleanup much to my satisfaction.

As Friday progressed the various actors and actress in this drama began getting ready for the party that would take place that evening on the pool deck and the space under the beach house we were staying at. One time I described my in-laws as structured, controlled, and deliberate people taking nothing for granted or doing anything without a plan. The one thing I left out was that in such a situation as a wedding my in-laws each want to have the others to follow their plan.

As tables were erected, sound systems installed and checked, and the pool areas cleaned everything was going okay. When it came time for decorating Dragonwife, Warren Beatty Sunshine, Lady Trump, and Mrs. Sunshine each had their own ideas of what to be done. Mrs. Sunshine started out decorating the party area with beach/jungle style garland that looked like jungle vines, seashells and starfish made out of tissue paper hanging from the garland, admittedly obtrusive looking fake palm trees, and my favorite colorful parrots also made out of tissue paper. For my taste I thought it was perfectly fitting for a wedding in which the sounds of the ocean surf was clearly heard, plus I admit I thought it was cool stuff. Once Lady Trump, Dragonwife, Warren, and Beautiful Gorgeous' uncle arrived on the scene a shriek of such decorative distaste erupted I thought someone had died. They each sprung into action ripping all the stuff down giving Mrs. Sunshine such a case of the "vapors" that a normally very socially accepting lady couldn't help but point out in a very sarcastic way that she admitted she was out of her league in decorating since Beautiful Gorgeous' uncle was not only a professional designer but gay. In short, my mother-in-law was rather crabby the rest of the night and beyond which is the reason behind the picture I chose for this segment.

My initial concern on this whole matter was how Miss Wiggles would act at a very structured event on a beach in which her usual behavior at such a place was to run absolutely wild. Happily, her behavior was excellent except for the fact that the one duty she and Miss Giggles were assigned was to hand out small sea shells to all the beautiful people assembled so they in turn could drop them in some seriously expensive large crystal vase signifying the joining of two people and unity of marriage or some other symbolic verbal crap that I tuned out after about a minute wishing there was a tiki bar somewhere nearby. While the very long winded pastor rambled on who was in turned replaced by Warren and Beautiful Gorgeous who wrote long poetic vows for each other Wiggles and Giggles at some point decided to bury all the shells they had in their baskets. About ten minutes away from having the girls hand out the shells Dragonwife and Lady Trump had to quickly dig up or find more so the girls could hand them out. At this point I tried to slip away but my wife caught me (Spoilboy snitched) and dragged me back by the ear. Yes, Wiggles is annoyed in this picture because she was blowing bubbles with her bubble gum during the vows and had just had it taken away.

A small sampling of the "beautiful people" at the wedding right before the ceremony started which was done Saturday afternoon. I could point out many of the people I have written about but to prevent my life from becoming endangered I will leave it to y'alls imagination which person goes with the names I have created.

After the ceremony was over my father-in-law wanted to quickly retreat back to the house so he could watch some golfing tournament but Mrs. Sunshine, still irked about her choice in decorating being rejected from the day before, was not in the mood and kept his leash very short.

The newly married couple Warren Beatty Sunshine and Beautiful Gorgeous-Sunshine. I wish them all the best for a happy future. After the ceremony both rushed off and reappeared thirty minutes later having changed clothes with an airy rosy glow emanating from Beautiful Gorgeous and a telling shit eating smile coming from Warren. At that point I was at the beer table draining a third or fourth glass from the keg hearing some of the older guys making snarky comments about the couple "sealing the deal". I don't know whether Warren heard this stuff, I actually doubt it, but he yelled something out about never needing Viagra which shut several of the older farts up very quickly.

All told, I still hold to my belief that when the urge to marry comes up between two people regardless of any factor both should go lay down, take a nap and let the urge pass like bad gas.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Maybe its just me, but redundant comes to mind.

There is much in this world that I admit is over my head. How Bush got reelected in 2004, how that expert in the Constitution and geography Sara Palin still has people that want her to run in 2012, and perhaps strangest of all how Joe Lieberman can get on television and say he is still popular with Democrats after repeatedly stabbing President-elect Obama in the back. But as I was waiting in the theater parking lot for my son, Darth Spoilboy, to break his lip lock on his girlfriend ending their date the NPR game show "Wait...wait don't tell me!" was playing on the radio and they mentioned the item in the above video. I really didn't believe what they were describing so when I got home and after forcing Spoilboy into a cold shower I looked up the video.

Now I understand the concept of a treadmill and how it has certain advantages because I have always preferred running on them than running outside. Running outside in bad weather can really suck and I have an understanding that running on a treadmill is actually easier on the knees but combining a treadmill with running outside just doesn't make any sense to me. After seeing this video somewhere I imagine PT Barnum is laughing his ass off.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In the Park- A work of fiction

Author's note: Several years ago Miss Wiggles and I made it into Charleston, South Carolina without Dragonwife and Darth Spoilboy in tow and were able to mosey around that glorious city with no whining about the various crises concerning mountains of laundry and dirty bathrooms at home from the former and missed time with video games and friends from the latter. As my daughter and I strolled around I noticed many different types of people but in a crowd of generally well dressed tourists one young, attractive, and obliviously very well off couple stood out mainly because they were dressed in matching his and her outfits. They were very much in love and very much in their own little world. While this is a complete work of fiction about the events, how I described the appearance of the "young lovers" is true.

On the surface everything about them looked perfect as they crossed the street into the park. The young, highly attractive couple walked down Meeting Street on a hot and humid Charleston day dressed in matching clothes holding each other tightly and intimately silently announcing to the world they were lovers. The man was in a flowery Hawaiian shirt with a black background overlaid with various tropical flowers that suggested style without looking like he was trying to be stylish. Blinding white slacks that had to be brand new, expensive leather belt and some of sort of leather loafers for shoes just oozed privilege and money. Despite the weather the man showed no sign of it affecting him to the point his hair being blown in the hot breeze returned to its exact position looking like he had just left the stylist. The lady was wearing a matching tube top with the same Hawaiian design that was cut low exposing more than a little cleavage. Perspiration from the Southern heat and humidity had left a glossy sheen on the upper portion of her exposed cleavage that if anything added to her grace and sensuality. Her long skirt was the same blinding white as the slacks her lover was wearing but tight enough to show off her legs.

The young lovers moved as if in slow motion oblivious to all the other tourists and residents around them and every now and then would move their hands touching each other in a new even more intimate way momentarily looking into each other eyes reconfirming their love for each other. Passion burned in those looks and before a statue of some Civil War era politician erected in the center of the park they embraced and in the fervor of the moment unable to contain themselves and fierily began kissing and exploring each other’s body. While the world during that time didn’t exist for them the spectacle of what amounted to making love in public did shortly begin to draw the attention of all the others in the park. Old men smiled in envy, old ladies in pastel hats and dresses waving fans as if to cool down their own fantasies looked on prudishly in disapproval. Various reactions could be found in the married couples strolling through the park at that time. Some husbands and wives made attempts not to make eye contact with their spouses as they jealously watched on wishing for all the world that they could experience again just for one moment the same fire. Other married couples saw the young lovers next the statue and looked into the eyes of their spouses and began smiling quietly making a wordless promise that once the kids were asleep they too would reach for each other.

The sounds of city traffic, children playing in the park, municipal workmen tearing up the street nearby, and passing planes on approach to the airport didn’t faze the lovers as they continued to ignore the world and explore their feeling for each other but what did draw them back was the sound of sirens. Their separation from reality ended and what had once been the look of burning passion in each other’s eyes now became fear and worry. For an instant their look changed and they both glanced around like cornered animals looking for some avenue of escape or someplace to hide. But the attention they had drawn had not ended with their display of affection. The onlookers still watched on which brought a hint of redness in the cheeks of the lady and a slightly embarrassed smile in the man he tried to hide.

The young lovers looked to each other again and curiously resigned themselves to what fate the thought approached them. Moving over to an empty wrought iron park bench they sat close to each other finally whispering some words that to everyone else watching were overwhelmed by the normal sounds of a living city. Now like teenagers on a first date they nervously held hands and looked off into space.

The sirens came closer and more distinct separating into at least six to eight individual cars. For some in the park such sounds of approaching authority were a motivating factor to be someplace else even though their ultimate destination of the sirens could be miles away. But the sound of screeching tires and car doors being quickly opened and slammed signified that the park was the destination of whatever authority that had been racing the streets.

The small park was close to perfectly square with streets bordering it on all four sides. At each side of the park two unmarked cars with a flashing siren magnetically attached to roof had stopped with three deadly serious people in suits getting out and walking toward the young lovers. Even in the summer heat both the males and females of the group converging on the lovers carried themselves with an air of dark professionalism. Their eyes were hidden with midnight black sunglasses giving what some of the people still in the park hopefully thought was an unintended look of death stalking it’s next victim. Like wolves they surrounded the lovers still on the bench and with the little earbuds inserted in their ears and the occasional lifting of an arm to speak into some tiny device mounted inside the sleeve of their suit jacket like wolves they covered each other for any possible surprise. More than a few parents rushed to their children who out of curiosity began walking toward the well dressed wraiths. Instead of a reassuring smile or wave as the parents retreated with their children they received a cold appraisal that lacked all human spirit or feeling.

Within a minute the lovers were surrounded with some of the authority figures facing outward to block the view to those watching. Suit jackets were finally unbuttoned and one retired military man sitting on a nearby bench that had enjoyed watching the two lovers as they entered the park spotted a submachine gun holstered underneath the jacket with the authority figure’s hand on the pistol grip clearly scanning the surroundings for dangerous intent. The retired military man, a veteran of several wars, knew not to make any sudden moves and prayed that no civilian would either. He knew from experience that behind those sunglasses was not the mind of a human but at best a well trained machine and at worst a cold reptile that was looking for a reason to spill blood. Quietly the retired military man wondered what the two young people had done to draw such special attention to themselves.

The retired military man caught a glimpse of some sort of identification being shown and the complete lack of response from the lovers. Efficiently and quietly female personnel produced restraining devices and applied them to the feet and hands of the lady at the same time male personnel did the same to the man. Equally efficiently they lifted the two and even more quickly moved them in separate directions to cars on opposite ends of the park.

Most onlookers had long since either left the scene not wanting to possibly be draw into whatever was going on or made special effort to ignore it all but none could have mistaken or ignored the final words the two lovers spoke. As they were being carried away the authority figures had overlooked taping their mouths.

“I will always love you!” The man cried out. Clearly his choice of words and tone said that he knew he would never see the woman again in this life time. That whatever fate awaited him she would be someplace else.

“I will never forget you!” The woman cried back less than a second after the last word left the man’s mouth. Her words spoke of an equally sad fate with no hope of redemption.

Whatever authority that had taken them into custody quickly corrected the oversight of not preventing them from speaking with one person in each group producing a clear tape that was applied to the mouth of the person they carried.

The young lovers were placed inside cars, along with the authority personnel and instead of speeding off the drivers made a special effort to leave as quietly and as normally as they could. The flashing sirens were removed and within a mere two minutes the cars had each taken a different direction away from the park. Another minute later it was if nothing had ever happened. A few onlookers whispered questions to each other about what the two lovers might have done. But new people arrived in the park knowing nothing of the recent events, children began playing, old men took up seats and watched young lovers come strolling by, old women fanned themselves and wished they were home, parents watched children and wondered if excitement would ever return to their lives.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day 2008

In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. ~Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935

Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.
- Otto von Bismarck, 1815 - 1898

Lord, bid war's trumpet cease;
Fold the whole earth in peace.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again. Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Just so no one will be confused where I stand.

The true test of the American ideal is whether we’re able to recognize our failings and then rise together to meet the challenges of our time. Whether we allow ourselves to be shaped by events and history, or whether we act to shape them. Whether chance of birth or circumstance decides life’s big winners and losers, or whether we build a community where, at the very least, everyone has a chance to work hard, get ahead, and reach their dreams.

BARACK OBAMA, speech, Jun. 4, 2005

While it is still early McCain's path to victory is looking thinner by the minute. So forgive me if I start to get contemplative on what lays ahead. It's an old military adage that while winning the battle is hard, winning the peace is even harder. A nearly wrecked economy, a military spread desperately thin fighting two wars, a drug-like addiction to foreign oil, an education system that after decades still falls embarrassingly short of preparing children for the 21st century, and finally and perhaps worst of all an American people that has been polarized and fractured to the point that some people openly question who is "pro-American" and "anti-American".

If Obama does end up winning the election the battle will be far from over. Expectations of a massive progressive agenda will have to be balanced with economic and political realities. Bridges will have to built with those on the other side who are willing to work together in good faith. Along with exposing and isolating those out to sabotage efforts to help the country from either side whether it be spiteful Republicans out for revenge or rogue Democrats out to score points for their own purposes.

A President Obama will still need our support even more then as he tries to knit a wounded country back together and sets it back on a road toward the principles it was founded on instead of a government that just craters to those with access to power and wealth. It will not be easy, success will not come overnight, and some might become impatient with pet issues that are not addressed as quickly or as intensively as they want. This is where we have to act with the same energy and motivation that carried Senator Obama through close to two years of hell to the White House. In other words instead of acting like spoiled children we will finally have to act like the Americans we claim to be. Lets hope we are up to this battle because it will be far harder than just getting Obama elected.