is Thankful…

that all three of my children take after C instead of me.

that all three of them are smart enough to realize that this is a good thing.

that while money is tight, food is on the table… and the table is under a roof.

that of all the things that broke this year, the CD player wasn’t one of them.

that C is a much stronger person than most anyone else i know.

that all three of my children still believe in Santa. Or at least do a pretty decent job at pretending…

that i had the pleasure of knowing some people i’ll most likely have to say goodbye to very shortly.

that i got to meet new friends and reconnect with old friends, all while not pissing off too many of my current friends.

that my older brother introduced me to “The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy”.

that adversity can bring you closer together.

that even without ever meeting a person face-to-face, you can still build a solid and beautiful friendship with them.

that even in the digital age, you can still have pen pals.

that socks – if done correctly – can be so much more than mere footwear.

that two of my three children LOVE The Clash.

that, if asked, my third child will SAY she loves The Clash as well (even though she really doesn’t).

that you’re smart enough not to now ask me “who’s The Clash?”

that my eldest son joined his schools’ Gay Straight Alliance simply because “duh… it’s the right thing to do, daddy…!”

that adversity can make you stronger.

that while footy-pajamas are only made for children, the largest size available is still big enough for a small adult to fit in to.

that someone had the good sense to give the world Godzilla movies.

that the bulk of my problems are more imagined than real.

that someone invented a machine that – through the use of little red squiggly lines – tells us when we misspell something.

that at least SOME people realize that that is what those red lines are there for.

that i have JUST ENOUGH hair left that no matter what i do with it, it inevitably looks like a comb-over.

that the last time i lit candles, i actually had to go hunting around for a lighter instead of just reaching into my pocket.

that not ALL booze is “top shelf”.

that i no longer have to be burdened with being the tallest member of the family.

that someone had the good sense to stuff bread crumbs into the cavity of turkeys.

that it will be a very long time before computer-generated “customer care” phone answering services have the ability take over the world.

that Jesus gives me only what i need, instead of what i deserve.

that i had the good fortune of stumbling into this community, and that you are willing to share my somewhat disjointed and quite-oft poorly written world with me. The fact that you do means more to me than you’ll ever know – Thanks!

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11/9 turning it up to Eleven

“Heavy metal and mullets it’s how we were raised. Maiden and Priest were the gods that we praised.” ~Sum 41

You might as well call child protective services straightaway, seeing as how this Friday, i will be a very bad father indeed.

You see, this Friday just happens to be 11/11/11. A day that will find C in Arizona watching her brother get married. Again. And a day that – as a result of C’s trip – will find me at home alone with the kids. But more importantly a day that, by sheer luck of its numerical quantifiers, has been designated by VH1 Classic and That Metal Show as National Metal Day. (And for the love of God, it you don’t understand the tie-in between “11/11/11” and National Metal Day, would you please grab a copy of “Spinal Tap” already? You’re long overdo for a viewing. One that should help explain everything). So excited am i about this “holiday”, i haven’t even given much thought about the Real holiday that normally sits here as well – that being Veteran’s Day of course. But more on that later. Or at least i think. We’ll have to see…

At any rate, my bad fathering will occur because in lieu of doing anything remotely resembling parenting, i will most likely leave the children to their own devices and the boob-tube nanny, spending the day instead locked in mortal combat with other metal heads and metal head wanna-be’s. As we try to outdo each other in finding *just the perfect* post to throw up on the wall of a good friend i’ve never met. i know, i seem to have a lot of those, don’t i? i suppose maybe i’m a lot easier to “take” online than i am in person? Regardless, and prior to my digressing further, the concept of my friend’s wall is simple – every Friday, a different musical topic, style or idea is highlighted, and all day people are allowed to post videos of bands or songs from the past (some from the recent past, and some from the way past) that fit the bill. For instance, not too long ago, only songs that had titles in the form of questions could be used, and on another occasion only artists or bands with one word names could be posted. It can be pretty fun, especially if you know a bit about the subject at hand for a given week. i suppose it could also be seen as competitive, but for me, i have to agree with Liberace in saying that “too much of a good thing is WONDERFUL!” In regards to music at any rate. And sex. Music and sex, but most everything else i suppose, should be doled out in moderation. Except for maybe pizza as well. Music, sex and pizza – but i’ll draw the line there – you know… for now.

Anyway, i was somehow able to get my friend to buy into the whole National Metal Day premise, and while i’m sure she would have rather not (especially knowing how damned irritating i can be about these things when i think i know even a nugatory’s worth about a topic), she still agreed to earmark this Friday as a “Metal throwback”.

i am almost wetting myself in glee as i type the words.

My list is ready. It was created with the children during one evening meal while C was at work. For the most part the kids were helpful, except for my daughter who brought up “The Misfits” and “The Revolting Cocks” (tsk, tsk, m’dear – those are punk and industrial bands respectively – not metal. But thanks for your input!!). Now, i suppose one could say that the mere fact that my children know of these types of bands already puts me in the running for the “Worst Father of the Year – Any Year, Just Pick One” Award, but to be fair, my daughter did use the much more parochial “REVCO” when mentioning the second band, and she’s not actually a fan of theirs anyway (much more a “top of the pops” girl, she is). My youngest caught my icy glare when he brought up “Europe”, but he can be forgiven his misstep since he otherwise knows his metal, all the while having an overwhelming – and downright scary – affection for “The Final Countdown” (or as he calls it, “the best song ever…)

Now, i can’t tell you who made the final list (on the odd chance that someone might read this and decide to steal some of my “metal thunder”, and bragging rights), but i can tell you Metallica did NOT make the list (sorry anyone who cares, but that’s just the way it is). Black Sabbath didn’t either, but in their case it’s only because i’m sure that they’re already on quite a number of lists, and will be well-represented throughout the day. Other bands not to make the list are groups such as Great White, Bon Jovi, Ratt and Winger – although i fear they too are already on quite a few lists, and sure to make appearances as well. One who posts regularly has already threatened the occasional Creed video, and it scares me to think what an unholy bloody mess the whole thing could become, should novice metal heads and posers take the lead on this one. But as for me – my selections (sans two special surprises) will be tight, choice cuts – honoring what true Heavy Metal was (and still is) to me.

And since i’m sure you’re wondering (i know i am, right about now) why this is apparently such a big flippin’ deal to me, i guess that that would be the reason. The metal of “then” served as the soundtrack to my life for quite a long spell, and it played during some of the happier parts of my biographical reel (albeit an ABC after-school special, at best). While i’m not looking to “relive” my younger days with the aid of grinding guitars and operatic screams, metal has rejoined my life again, this time being shared – and helping me to bond with – my children. Another and more important reason – for any type of music really – i get so terribly excited is because, as i told my friend who runs the page, for me “it’s not so much of a ‘being last to post’ thing as it is a ‘please, don’t let’s stop just yet’ thing”. In short, as i’m pretty sure i’ve mentioned in a previous post (and if i haven’t mentioned it yet, then shame on me), music was my first best friend, and this Friday at least, i am really looking forward to spending some time “catching up” with it.

i hope you enjoy the day as well, and i hope you drop in for a post or two (just make damned sure their good ones!). And of course, no matter what else you may do, i hope you have the good sense to “turn it UP to 11!”

11/7 bookcases

Sinatra smiles easily, looking rather dapper in his cocked Fedora. Audrey looks coyly away, almost as if to say that she needs no such accoutrements to achieve an even more sophisticated look. Edward Gory sits between the two, not really caring what he looks like, seeing as only his oversized letters are visible – each complete with feline accessory – and together, spelling out the title of his ode to meaningless and nonsensical things. Clustered between all three are various Hollywood power couples of old – all or most of whom are long ago buried, each to their own grave. Swing band dandies can also be seen on occasion – a horn to the mouth and a devil-may-care gleam in their eye – all of them oblivious as to how far we’ve fallen from the musical hopes they may have had for us. The shelf is rounded out by Norman Rockwell’s take on Christmas, some determined Marines, hell-bent on raising a flag and a solitary woman, apparently hell-bent on folding herself in half, all in an effort to explain “proper” yoga techniques.

The second shelf is guarded by a series of Pullip dolls, some dressed as Alice In Wonderland characters, and others even scarier. A whacky Wobbler white rabbit pretends to lead them, but they ignore his existence even more than they do mine. Nestled behind their ranks are the likes of “The Little Minister” sitting idly beside Lewis Carroll’s best efforts. Fairies of various colors – Green, Blue, Red and Yellow – surround Hans Christian Anderson. And the whole lot of them completely ignore both the Little Women and the British nanny (she who can fly aided only by an umbrella) that sit close enough, and seem nice enough, as to warrant not such disregard. Bridging these two groups is a pre-war era portable pinball game, still proudly wearing its weathered box, and acting quite superior about being on top of all the rest. Slouching up against the hard-cover nanny mentioned before is a well-worn and scuffed paperback child by the name of Harry Potter. Seven volumes in total, the first being seven times more used in appearance than the last, but the last catching up quickly.

The conversation being held on the third shelf up pertains to everything from “Diamonds (of the baseball variety) in the rough” to the vanishing act of a certain Esme Lennox. In between, Studs Terkel can be seen to be making quite a dent in the available space. He is forced to share it begrudgingly with both Gaiman’s Coraline and Burton’s translation of Arabian Nights. The Pierrot doll box thrown unceremoniously atop the Burton volume is unaware of the honor, and sits rather neglected-looking, hoping to stay unnoticed in the shadows. Stuffed versions of Lock, Shock and Barrel sit closely together – quite obviously scared of the three Madame Alexander replicas. The Mad Hatter, the Scare Crow and Little Red Riding Hood are each staring blankly, with eyes as dead as you would think a McDonalds giveaway’s would have. Babe Ruth sits safe however, in the life that he built, and he neither needs the dictionary of angels nearby nor does he fear the presence of Dracula next to it. And Jo’s Boys, well they sit pondering – still not sure if they should peruse a book of Christmas Tales or rather, see what they can learn from the poisoners handbook that sits next to it instead.

The fourth shelf finds a plastic Anguirus (of Godzilla-fame) fighting a housecat dressed in period piece clothing. Anguirus surely fights out of fear, the cat being the scariest thing on the shelf. The Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book is a book in serious need of decorating, and its age can be more felt by the soul than seen with the eye. A model U.S. Coast Guard ship protects the list of Schindler, some Boys from Brazil, Oscar Wilde and Angela’s Ashes, but “The Bronze Horseman” is left to fend for himself. The Da Vinci Code feels rather underdressed in comparison to its shelf mates, and as a result it makes every effort to stand out, quite in a sore thumb and overly needy fashion. The Fozzie The Bear wristwatch beside it almost seems to blush as a result. Atop Don Quixote sits several hounds of the Baskerville – of the illustrated pocketbook type – and they seem to glare at the first of two sonic screwdrivers, created solely from a few Lego pieces, a modicum of imagination and a buckets-full of love.

The fifth shelf does not find the second of the two sonic screwdrivers, in part because this item actually resides on the sixth shelf instead.  What can be found however is a platoon of green army men. Presumably protecting the Sea World novelty mug in their midst from the blue plastic chick-a-dee sitting near by. An idea found unlikely, especially when considering the porcelain baby doll, even deadlier-in appearance, that looms equally close by. Matheson proudly proclaims that he “is legend” while Marx spouts off about his never-ending yet never-fully realized manifesto.  Robin Hood attempts to upstage not one, but three, musketeers and Faulkner simply lies there, dying. The Godfather sits in a unassuming, yet cocky fashion – even though he never once seems to show any interest in the Maltese Falcon, sitting there for the taking. Terkel makes on last appearance, shaking Frankenstein’s hand before he leaves.

The final shelf is the sixth – and while shelves one through five have been filled with culture and poise, adventure and drama, wit and wisdom – the sixth shelf is the one that belongs to me.

As a result, the thing that first jumps out is the tin of Bacon Mints (yes, bacon-flavored mints). An item that cannot be thrown away until such time as another (full) one has been found to replace it. A plastic Gigan (again, of Godzilla fame) smirks as he watches Martin Luther sit on top of Pontius Pilate, relishing in the fact that there must be at least some sort of irony involved in all that. A book on the parables of Jesus sits rather close to a book concerning itself with disastrous quotes and ill-fitted catch phrases throughout the ages. Perhaps at the time that the book was titled “Boners”, boners didn’t quite mean what it has come to mean since, and as such, the editors were unaware as to their own disaster to come. “A Christmas Story” is squashed between both Steven Colbert and Dave Barry. And even though it is the smallest and quaintest of the three, it is also i think the funniest. “The book of totally useless information” never asks why men have nipples, but the book above it does. Harold and his worn down, yet still mighty, purple crayon help to support both the second sonic screwdriver, and the most curious Fathers Day present ever received – a pen. A pen that’s also a comb. A pen that’s also a comb, complete with a mirror. And a pen that never ever wrote a single word because it also came equipped with a dried out ink stick. The old faux leopard skin cigarette case sits empty, with a rather pissy look – seemingly more upset that it is no longer used than it is happy that i no longer need to use it. And it sits on top of the final book – a book that might have better explained the entire bookcase had it come first – it’s titled “A Stranger In A Strange Land”.

The entire collection is closed up behind heavy wooden and glass doors – the kind that begin to creak almost before they’re opened. And these doors, while not locked, are sealed by a book about the lives of the saints – one that sits outside the bookcase proper because it is surprisingly used quite often. i’m not sure if the saints within pray for us, our bookcase, or if they even pray at all. But i do know that they help to complete the look. One of i don’t know what, but one that is a snapshot into our life.

11/4 a prostitute, Jesus, & a whole bunch of finger-wagging in between

She was a prostitute.

I could tell she was because this was Vegas, and the only women in Vegas who talk to me are either my vendors, or prostitutes. And this one sure wasn’t a vendor. i said “hi” to her in response (and don’t you look at me that way – if i’m allowed to talk to other women, i’m allowed to talk to her as well – i mean, she’s obviously someone’s vendor!) and i made it quickly known, with my best altar boy smile, that we would only be sharing a brief verbal exchange – nothing else. And we did. And it was quite nice. Turns out she’s a single working mom (of the “working girl” variety) and she has a teenaged son that she’s trying to raise to be better off in the future than he is today. The chat didn’t last long, and she was even nice enough to ask me if i had changed my mind about, ummm – making her a vendor of sorts – before trotting off to the next drinking hole. Presumably one where the men were willing to do more than just chat for a spell.

Now, this exchange happened several years back, but it still sticks in my noodle, creeping back into my memory on occasion. And for the most part it does so because of her eyes. You see, when she was speaking of her son and their life together, they positively twinkled – but when she was “talking shop” they deadened to the point where you would have thought she was describing the passing of her first puppy. She never mentioned anything remotely like that, of course, but she did have a way of letting me know, mostly through her body language and facial expression, that she had definitely seen the death of innocence. She had most likely seen it several times, in fact, and was clearly no longer surprised by the human animal. Unless one of them said that they just wanted to chat for a spell, i suppose.

So, why did i speak to her? Excellent question. Especially considering the environment i was raised in. One wherein on almost a daily basis we heard that we were to “love the sinner, but hate the sin” while at the same time being taught (sometimes subliminally, sometimes outright) to not only avoid and shun “the sinners”, but anyone at all who had the bad misfortune of being even remotely different than us. Being seen with a hooker gets you arrested. Being seen with a drug dealer gets you killed. Being seen with a gay person makes you one as well (i suppose it rubs off or something?). Being seen with a homeless person makes you a ne’er-do-well, and being seen with a priest gets you molested – oh no, wait – they never did alert us as to that one. Anywho, i guess against my upbringing and my better judgement, i ended up speaking with her, once again because of those eyes. i suppose i just needed to reach in and see if they really were as dead as they appeared. i was relieved to find out that they were not, but saddened to realize that we live in a world where so many eyes are dead, so many innocence’s killed. For the life of me, i simply can not understand why it happens so often – this human ability to see another as mere property, or worse. For one of us to determine that our needs are so very important, we can treat other humans as little more than disposable play things, in order to achieve our goals. In short, i guess i’m just not getting why we created a world in which we need some people to be gainfully employed as prostitutes.

And just before i get down from my soapbox (“Oh hell no, he’s on another one of his meandering rants!”) – to those of you who are captains of industry, religious leaders and citizen-kings or queens – please note that i am not only speaking of, and to, the people who dismiss humanity for their own sexual gratification. i am also including those of your ilk who simply have to have – all to yourself – the same amount of acreage that at least five families could live comfortably on. Those of you (both religious and atheist alike) who needle your way through religious texts and hand pick words and phrases solely in an effort to damn someone to hell, simply because their way differs from yours. Those of you who shun and ostercize good people and neighbors simply because they don’t wear the right clothes, or have the right job, or share the correct color of skin. To you too, i wave my not-so-mighty finger of indignation (shaming you undoubtedly in the process), for your excess, for your selfishness, for your abuse of your fellow man, for your – well – for all the things you do that i try to pretend i don’t do as well. And in my train(wreck) of thought, this is usually right about the point where Jesus steps in… (What? It’s not like i didn’t warn you he was making an appearance right up there in the title or anything):

Whoa pally, just back it the flip up there for a second! I mean, let’s be clear: you’re not exactly due for Sainthood anytime soon either. Well, of the Roman Catholic variety, at any rate. We’ll discuss true sainthood when the time is right. And yeah, you were nice enough to talk to one of my sisters who happens to be an “undesirable” in most humans eyes. It’s been duly noted, and that’s one more Gold Star for you that I’m placing along with the rest. Yeah, I actually do keep track of those things. Surprised? But I gotta tell ya – even with it’s addition, you still wouldn’t have nearly enough to cover up all the check marks you’ve made in the book, to date. And no, I don’t keep track of those – so stop gettin’ all bug-eyed, and just relax. My point here is this: you focus on your story boy-O, and stop with all the ‘i can’t understands‘. YOU stop treating my people like mere objects. YOU do the right thing – all the time. Or at least as often as you can.

You know, my Light may have come into this world through my own actions, but it can only be spread through yours. I need you to carry on my work – not in word, but in deed. OK fine, in word AND deed. Go ahead – keep your silly blog, but don’t focus sooooo much on the words only – I’ve got quite of few who do that already, and their follow-through is spotty at best. You see, we’re a team, you and I, and I have no use for whiners on my team. So stop pontificating. Stop ‘wishing‘ you knew what to do – because we both know that you already do. Just get out there and do it already! I love you bunches, t. Now you go and do the same – Cool? (((MeHugs))) And hey, next time you’re trying to be all ‘High n’ Mighty’ in my name, you might want to think about actually mentioning my name in the process. Just sayin’…

That Jesus, always derailing my most stoic, “in-your-face world!” posts. The way he talks, you’d think he was the son of God or something. Heck, the way he talks, you’d almost swear that i didn’t speak to a prostitute at all, but rather, just a person. One who, like many of us, has a hope for a better future – and unlike some of us, still a bit of a twinkle in her eye. And maybe in the end, she helped me far more than i ever thought i was helping her as a result.