Sunday, October 31, 2004

"Hollow"een

So today is Halloween. Dang, Halloween definitely just isn't what it used to be. That's probably a good thing, because I'm thinking of the days when I used to dress up as some sort of Skeletor
to go on a candy hunt. Not to mention the fact that it's quite a distorted holiday that's way too commercialized (like any holiday). But I still miss the good times I used to have.


I remember class parties with tons of candy and dry ice in the punch bowl. Dry ice made any party cool in those days. Then there were "spooky sounds" tapes, and the kid who got made fun of in class for not dressing up, or for dressing up as someone like Waldo. But no Halloween memory rivals the nights of trick-or-treating.

We would scour our neighborhood on a mission to fill pillowcases to the brim with glucose, dextrose, maltose, fructose, sucrose, and some sugar. We knew which houses gave the goods, and which were the biggest duds. Our neighborhood was filled with little ghosts and ghouls, witches and warlocks, gangsters and thugs, and a few trick or treaters. There was one old man who must have saved all of the change in his pocket at the end of the day, picked out all the pennies, then waited till Halloween to pass them out. He and the lady passing out apples were the worst. But then there were families who were veritable Willy Wonka factories. The trick with them was to have your face painted, then wear a mask. First, we would go down the street with the mask on. Then we would trade coats, take off the mask, and come back down the block with painted faces. Candy would roll in.

When the houses were completely pillaged, we would head back to someone's house to organize the candy with the same precision and determination that we used to organize baseball cards. I would always trade those generic caramels in the orange and black paper wrappers. I hated those things. I was a Smarties kind of guy. If we were lucky, that candy would last a week or so. There were times when I literally had two pillowcases half full of candy. I guess I could've just said one full pillowcase, but I've got to keep the facts straight.

And anyone could get candy in those days. All you had to do was put your hand in your sleeve and say you were a dismembered zombie. It was like that Adam Sandler skit. Everyone was a winner. Yeah those were the days.

So today was Halloween, and the streets were almost empty. There were a few trick-or-treaters out there. Not near as many as there used to be. And where there used to be porch lights on, and families dressed up waiting to pass out the goods, now is mostly cold doorsteps with the door shut and the shutters closed.

I went trick-or-treating until I was seventeen. It was a hard tradition to let go of. It's hard to see the way things have changed. Halloween is a messed up holiday anyway. It's probably for the best. Oh well. Maybe next year I'll break out the old Ninja Turtle suit...

Try out some entertaining E- Halloween fun.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Trying out the"Blog Explosion"

I'm trying out this whole Blog explosion, where people are supposed to sign up and check out each other's blogs. Supposedly a way to get your blog out there, and see some cool blogs in return. If you could do me a favor by just typing a quick comment to let me know whether or not you came to this blog through blog explosion, I would appreciate it. I'd like to track that traffic. If you'd like to try "Blog Explosion" for yourself, check it out here:

BLOG EXPLOSION


..or click the button on the right.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Sun Dogs, Kermit, and the Rainbow Connection

One of my favorite characters as a young lad (and I must admit, even today), was Kermit-The-Frog.

Good ol' Kermit sings one of my favorite songs: "The Rainbow Connection." I know you all know what I'm talking about. What a great song. Anyways, this post will have nothing to do with Kermit (unfortunately), but is related to rainbows. We'll save Kermit for another day...


On my way to work today I saw a Sun Dog. For those of you who don't know, a Sun Dog is one of two spots that appear parallel to the sun, and look like little rainbows:


Photo by Clay S. Turner. Used by permission.

Technically, the Sun Dogs, or "Parhelions," are part of what is called a 22° halo that encircles the sun. Anyways, I used to just call them little chunks of rainbows.

I think it was a good Canadian friend of mine who first introduced me to the term "Sun Dog." "Eh, check oooot that Sun Dawg, eh." Since then I have refrained from using the term "little chunks of rainbow," and graduated to the more generally used, "Sun Dawg."

So anyways, I saw a Sun Dawg on my way to work this morning, and man, those things are so beautiful. I started thinking about why I like them so much, and really couldn't find an answer. I've always liked rainbows, although these days you have to be careful when you say that. Why did those in the gay community have to adopt the rainbow as a sign of homosexuality? I feel like Homer J.S. when he said, "They stole all our good names, like Bruce and Karl and Stephen Trent." So now a guy can't like rainbows, Elton John, or Steve Trent without their sexual orientation coming into question. Life's just not fair. Or maybe I just need to (grow up) be more comfortable in my masculinity.

So anyways, I've always liked rainbows, and it seems that rainbows are one of those things that everyone likes to see. I've never heard anyone say, "Dang. There goes another one of those rainbows. Man, I can't stand those things. All colorful and stuff. I wish they'd all just go away." One is more likely to be awestruck by a rainbow, and like most beautiful things, feel the need to share the moment with others.

Another reason I like Sun Dawgs (the first being that they are similar to rainbows, if you missed that connection) is that they frequently (but not always) appear along with a sunrise or sunset. And just like rainbows, sunrises and sunsets are beauties of nature that everyone loves to see. There is seriously something about sunsets (and sunrises, but I just see them less frequently) that I just love. So the combination of sunrise and rainbow was just too much for me, and I could've died happy right there. And just about did, because I was too busy watching the sunrise and almost hit a mattress that someone was kind enough to leave on the highway.

So I saw a Sun Dawg on the way to work this morning, and it got me thinking about a lot of things. From sunrises to sunsets, from rainbows to Kermit The Frog, and from Stephen Trent to .... Canadians. The reason I like them so much is because of the fond images and memories they bring up. That's the thing about sunrises, sunsets, rainbows, Sun Dogs, or anything that you find beautiful: you can always go back to that moment. Not only that, but the moment compounds upon itself to bring more images and more memories, until the emotion of all those moments is brought into one. So that in the end, each of those moments was the same moment. That moment never dies. This is the true Rainbow Connection, and why Kermit can obviously be seen as a transcendentalist-romantic follower of C.S. Lewis.

So the next time you see a Sun Dawg (or Steve Trent), stop (so you don't hit the mattress) and think about the things you love.


For more info on Sun Dogs click here:

22° Halo




Thursday, October 21, 2004

"The Curse of the Bambino"

Now I have a topic of conversation for the very few readers who may be out there:

Last night while watching the game, I was frequently knocking on wood after saying things like, "Yes, that should do it" and "They'll for sure win now." And then there's all this talk about "the Curse of the Bambino." So I thought since Halloween's around the corner, and somehow that relates to the topic, we could see how many crazy superstitions we can come up with. I don't know many, but I'll get the obvious one's out of the way: black cat, walking under a ladder, the number 13 (why is that?), walking while chewing gum. If you could do some research and tell us how these superstitions came about, that would be great too. I apologize if nobody responds, I don't exactly have a following for this blog.

Baseball is Back?

I guess I wouldn't be a true American if I didn't mention something about Baseball's playoffs this year. "America's Favorite Pastime" has lived up to its title in both the AL and NL Championship Series. Last night the Red Sox beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS. The Yankees were three outs away from a sweep less than a week ago, and now they're done for the season. No team had ever come back from being down 3-0 in a seven game series. So that's pretty cool, and it's been fun to watch, and I'm not even close to a huge baseball fan. It's good to see baseball creating some entertainment. But that's enough of that...Go Colts!

Monday, October 18, 2004

"His Ride's Better than Ya'lls"

Kiska001



Amazing. Wheelchairs for dogs. I remember a dog with three legs that lived at Pine Creek. We named him "Tripod." I'll bet he would appreciate a Doggy Wheelchair.*


It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, and I was driving downtown to get a passport photo taken for my upcoming trip overseas. A good friend and I were cruising through the streets with the windows down to feel a warm summer breeze. We arrived at a stoplight, and noticed a man in a wheelchair.

This guy had one of those motorized wheelchairs, and he must have somehow hooked up some type of flux capacitor, because he was flying across the intersection. He also had a kind of cargo basket on the back of the chair, which seemed to hold all of his earthly possessions. This basket made him a little back-heavy, and would soon cause problems when he reached the "on-ramp."

Well, my friend and I were speechless as we gazed in awe at the "handicapped" speedster. Our heads followed his travel across the windshield like a couple of fans at a ping-pong match. When he got to the other side of the road, he quickly wheeled around, facing his back to the sidewalk, then reversed up the ramp (so that he would not tip over), spun quickly back around, and was rapidly on his way to Sam Goody's... KIDDING!!!

As my friend and I were watching him, a local pedestrian had been watching us. He glanced at the man in the wheelchair, and then looked back at us. After a short analysis of the situation, he was insightful enough to inform us that: "His ride's better than ya'lls!"

After witnessing the wheelchair's display of speed, style, maneuverability, and class, I could not help but agree.





*For more dogs-in-wheelchairs, check out: Eddie's Wheels

Friday, October 15, 2004

When in Rome...

Have you ever traveled to a different country? If you haven't yet, and you plan to, be sure to learn the cultural taboos before you go...

I recently took a trip to London to promote my new book and soon to be released motion picture "You Get Paid to do What?" Actually, it wasn't recently, and maybe I don't have a book, I am just trying to prepare you for the sarcasm to come.

I really was in London however, and was planning on staying there for a few weeks. I was with a group of students who were studying abroad, and before we left, we were informed of the similarities and differences between America and our great neighbors across the pond. They warned us about pickpockets, and things being stolen in internet cafes. We knew that "bugger me" was not an expression to be used in polite society. And we were informed not to ask for a "napkin" in a restaurant, because apparently "napkin" refers to certain British feminine products.

Feeling well prepared, I was eager to go visit all the sites of the big city. I could tell that I fit right in. I'm sure nobody suspected that I was a tourist with my bright blue jeans, and my sparkling white sneakers. I greeted people with the traditional "G'day" and " 'ello;" and said "Cheers" for everything else. Yeah, I was one of them.

Now it comes to pass that I was staying in room number two at St.Margaret's Hotel. It was a very fine room with a large painting of a boat, and a little tv so that I could watch BBC programming in all of its glory. But in order to get to this virtual penthouse, I had to get the key from the "nice" old lady at the front desk.

The old lady appeared to be a paragon of warmth: the welcoming smile, glasses on the tip of her nose, hair up in a bun (I have no idea what a bun is). She was kind of robust, and looked like a Mrs. Clause, or the grandmother who doesn't stop feeding her kids. She was pretty much every nice old woman you've ever met. But for some reason, she seemed to give me a cold shoulder. She would chat with everyone else; laughing and carrying on, but with me she just sort of tossed the key on the counter and turned away. I figured she knew I was just some noisy American tourist and she probably hated George Bush and therefore every American, so I thought nothing of it. Until I found out one teensy weensy little aspect of British culture that I was previously oblivious to.

Before I begin, I need to cover two points: First, try to think about any time you ask for a quantity of something that is smaller than the number five. Perhaps I'm wrong, but it seems that most people feel the need to clarify that number by using their fingers as a visual aid. Where I come from, your index finger means "one," index + middle = "two," index+middle+ring= "three," and all four digits opposing the thumb equal four. Duh, right?

The second point that I need to make involves a little bit of a history lesson. Now, this may or may not be true, but I will explain this lesson as it was explained to me. Apparently back in medieval times, the archer was considered one of the deadliest weapons in an army. Those who mastered the long bow could take out numerous enemies before they came within striking distance. When an archer was taken prisoner, in order to humiliate them and render their skills useless, the captor would cut off two of the archer's fingers: the index and the middle. So when it came to battle, the archers who still had their all their fingers would wave two in particular (index and middle) at the enemy, as a way of taunting. One could say it was their way of saying, "Hey, look what I've got. F- you." And so that gesture and its meaning have carried on through the ages to present day London.

Well, needless to say, I discovered the reason for the nice old lady's abrasiveness towards me. I had been asking for "Room Number Two," the only way I knew how: with my index and middle finger. It would be like someone asking for room Number One by flipping the bird. Unfortunately, there was no way to make up to such a stubborn old ninny, and the best I can hope for is that maybe this little story will prevent someone else from making the same blunder.

Or perhaps maybe she just needed a "napkin"?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

"And Thirty-Four Cent"

This story is a lesson which teaches us that in order to get the things we want, we must not be afraid to ask. "Ask and ye shall receive."

It was a pleasant summer evening, and my girlfriend and I were walking off a spicy cajun dinner. As we walked through the bustling city street, I noticed a scruffy looking individual making his way toward us. Being a lifetime resident of the inner city, I was no stranger to the accosting of transients. So as this man approached, we braced ourselves for whatever story was about to ensue.

We were politely informed that this particular "street person" was not here to hurt us. That was a great relief to me, because my cans of whoop-ass had run dry (that's another story). After familiarizing himself to us by calling me his "brotha," and speaking briefly about "the Good Lord," the hobo (we'll call him "Jim") weaved an intricate tale of depression and disaster.

Apparently, poor Jim just had the wheels jacked off his car not five minutes prior to our meeting. Not only that, but he had caught "them bitches" in the middle of their thievery. In an attempt to dissuade them from stealing the tire, he hit one of the thieves. At this point Jim showed me his bloody knuckles as obvious proof to the veracity of his story. After they ran off, Jim looked around for a cop and proceeded to walk the streets for help.

Having found help in me and my girlfriend, Jim reached the obvious conclusion that we could best assist him by giving him seven dollars "and thirty-four cent."

Let me digress a moment to address the profundity of that "thirty-four cent." I may be wrong in saying this, but I believe the preciseness of this number was some sort of attempt to prove that Jim indeed needed the money for a specific purpose, and was not merely making up a lame story. He didn't need five, six, or seven dollars: he needed seven dollars "and thirty-four cent."

Well, I was in a good mood that day, and I happened to have some money in my wallet. I figured that whether Jim really needed a new tire (the reason for the $7.34) wasn't the point. Here was a fellow man ("brother" even) in need, and I had the means necessary to help him.

So I reached deep into my wallet, pulled out the seven dollars, gave my girl a little wink, and proudly laid that seven dollars into the chalky white of Jim's hands. Happy at myself for having done such a generous and philanthropic deed, I looked at Jim and said, "There you go, buddy. Seven dollars."

I looked back at my girlfriend with a smile, and then glanced back at Jim in anticipation of the praise, thanksgivings, and "God bless you's" that were sure to come.

Keep in mind, all of this happened in a split second. So, right after I had said, "...seven dollars," Jim looked down at the veritable fortune in his hands and stammered, "and thirty-four cent?"

And thirty-four cent!! What? Debating whether or not to snatch back my money and run, I looked at Jim to make sure I heard him right. He sternly repeated: "I need seven dollars and thirty-four cent."

So what lesson did I learn in return for the eight dollars that Jim scammed from me? "Give an inch and they'll take a mile?" "Never talk to strangers?" "There's a sucker born every minute?" No, the lesson I will take from this adventure is, "Ask and ye shall receive."

To Blog, or not to Blog

Well, I've decided to give this whole blogging thing a try. I'm not sure how it'll turn out, and I"m almost positive that I won't be able to keep up with it as much as I would like. I've had journals before, and never really kept up with them either.
So, who actually comes to read these? Do I have to invite people or something? I guess it doesn't really matter though, because I'm not writing this for someone else. Which brings me to the question: why Blog?
I am sure there are many reasons to Blog. Some people may have a deep desire to be heard, others may be hoping that through their own personal Blogs they may find a deeper understanding of who they are. As for me... I'm just incredibly bored at work. So here I am, Blogging away, somehow getting paid for it, and not very happy about it all.
So now the decision is what to Blog about. Do I Blog about work? family? religion? politics? relationships? Does it matter? No, of course not. Especially if I am doing this for myself, and not for some random person who may come across this Blog.
So in the future, "Life in the Shadows" will discuss all of these things and more. If you are a random Blog-checker, feel free to comment on whatever you see. If we're lucky, we'll find some deeper meaning as to who we are. But at the least, it will help a boring day go by a little faster.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Blog what?

This first post is really just a test to see what this all looks like. I hope nobody wastes any time actually reading this, or any future blog that I may publish for that matter.