Category Archives: Ramble

Show Week


*pokes head up from sand again*

It’s show week. Which means basically all of my daily fargoes are given over to making sure we put on a good one, which further means very little time or energy leftover for things like writing novels or posting to websites. Regularly scheduled programming will return once we are sure what is normal anyway.

Anyway, I woke up today feeling shockingly calm. Shockingly calm especially in contrast to my recent wakeups, which have been more and more dread- and panic-filled. The mad run-up to opening a high school musical will do that to you, what with teenagers wearing sneakers instead of character shoes in dress rehearsal, the sudden inability to make it through a scene which has gone off without a hitch in practice for weeks, or the near-constant flareups of arguments between friends, deepening of grudges between already-established enemies, and the IV drip of emotions that high school students have coursing through their systems at any given moment.

It’s been a rough several weeks, is what I’m saying.

But, like I said, calm this morning. And I didn’t know why, until it struck me — there is nothing more that I can do for the show. No more time to coach the actors. No more time to run the scene changes. No more time to “fix” anything. At this point, if it’s broken, it’s going on the stage broken, and while that’s not in and of itself a happy thought, it’s at least a sort of peaceful one.

Like a javelin in flight or an e-mail you forgot to proofread, it’s out there now. It’s sailing through the ether and it will either hit its target, or not, and well, whatever will be will be.

Of course, I’m also fully cognizant that this is the eye of the storm. We open tomorrow, and that will bring its own stress and panic to bear.

But for today — or, I should say, for this moment — I’m calm.

Which is nice.

See you in a week.

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Superdetectives are my Jam


It’s funny how I made it through just about 20 years of life basically indifferent to — and uninterested in — Sherlock Holmes, and spent the next (almost) 20 years with Sherlock Holmes and his myriad derivatives being my favorite kind of superhero.

It started when I watched Monk sometime in college. Tony Shalhoub played this detective with OCD — a totally understandable dysfunction for a detective to develop, actually. He was a germophobe, perfectionist, and kind of a genius. He couldn’t shake your hand, but he could figure out where you’d been when your neighbor said you were over for crappy grilled cheese sandwiches by the grease stains on your shoes.

Image result for monk

Thus began my fascination with the character who sees what the other characters don’t. In the intervening time, some of my favorite stories have been House (a doctor show based on Sherlock Holmes), Criminal Minds (a detective show where everybody has superpowers for determining truths about psychopaths based on their preferred method of decapitation and/or sexual abuse — a pretty messed up show, actually), and a host of other shows based on the character who had that vision for the thing misplaced, the nose for the detail that didn’t fit. Oh, and of course I went back and read the entire Sherlock Holmes catalogue (loved it), watched the newest iteration of Sherlock Holmes movies (loved the ones with Robert Downey Jr., despite the knocks against them. Hated the one with Ian McKellan as Holmes … so boring), and then there’s the brilliant Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch (which is the funnest name to screw up ever — Flumbybums, Drumberdroops, Pookersnoots), which belongs in your life if it isn’t already there.

So it’s no surprise, I guess, that my latest protagonist — even in a novel that is decidedly not a detective story by any stretch — has a bit of that vision.

Funny how the right story can unlock your brain.

I’m gonna have to think about this more at a time when my brain isn’t as fried as it currently is.

This post is part of Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday.

 


SUPPORT THE CAUSE


Just picking my head out of the sand to relate a funny:

Many months ago — maybe more like a year ago — I followed a link to a survey asking “real Americans” for their input on Trump’s presidency. I filled it out, in detail. I seem to recall one of the questions reading:

As Commander-in-Chief, President Trump’s performance has been:

A. Amazing

B. Great

C. Good

D. Other

With lots more to that effect. Needless to say, I answered with a lot of “other” and had a good time venting a bit of my spleen, and I still do it every now and then.

What I didn’t consider was that filling out said survey apparently added me to a list of “real Americans” who might be interested in supporting our president’s cause, and more to the point, in supporting his cause with my dollars.

Nothing happened for a while, but in the past few months, I’ve gotten barraged with e-mails — literally sometimes six or seven a day — begging me for my contribution.

“Friend, is your name on the list?”

“Friend, will you count yourself among our ranks?”

“Friend, we need your support!”

I get a kick out of the fact that I’m assumed to be a “friend,” and I certainly get a kick out of the increasingly desperate tone of the letters. They’re “signed” from all members of the clan, from the big daddy himself to his non-security-clearanced in-law to the daughter he seems to have an unnatural attraction to. From the daughter he’d like us to forget he has to the one Trump son he cares about and even from the other Trump son. As if these people sat around typing out these pleas for cash (“just one dollar!”).

But what really makes me laugh is the big red banner at the bottom of each one:

Screenshot 2018-04-11 17.32.08

Deadline: 11:59 PM TONIGHT.

Every single e-mail for months (I open one every few weeks for giggles) has a deadline of 11:59 PM TONIGHT. As if at the stroke of midnight, like Cinderella’s carriage turning back into a pumpkin, I will lose my chance to support the orange one forever.

Maybe I’m too cynical, but I can’t help thinking that even if I did support this particular cause, the desperate language and the hyperbole would disincline me from giving them a dime. I mean, have some dignity. And even a two-year-old can figure out that when the “deadline” passes and a new deadline follows, and another one after that … that the deadline means nothing. If I were the cleverer sort, or if I had the time (or the extra fargoes to give in a day) I’m sure I could have a lot of fun responding to these e-mails and messing with some poor staffer about why my sizable donation won’t go through.

As it is, I’m just content to giggle to myself … while also feeling more than a little bit gross about the fact that my name is on a list of people who might potentially support this man.

But, you know, I hear things are going well for him lately — so I’m sure he’ll do just fine without my abuse.

Sigh. Never fill out a survey.


Time Traveling Road Trip Breakfast


The following exchange, or something like it, takes place around mile 200 of a 300-ish mile road trip. The husband is getting well and truly loopy and spending long stretches of rolling-hills highway venturing into the dark spaces in his brain.

The kids are napping in the backseat. It has been quiet for some time. He has had time to think and to zone out in the monotonous ebb and flow of interstate traffic.

They have just crossed several state lines in the space of less than an hour. (I-24 is weird.)

I24isweird

The conversation is fictional, and is not in any way related to actual conversations ever had between any husband and wife ever.

Please to enjoy.

Husband: Anybody hungry?

Wife: I don’t know. I think the kids are okay.

Husband: I could go for something. Not sure what. What time is it?

Wife: Eleven.

Husband: Local or home?

Wife: We agreed we were staying on Georgia time for the trip.

Husband: I just get confused. Every clock I see is on Central. Your phone switched over and you didn’t even want it to. The only thing I trust is my watch.

Wife: So why are you asking me?

Husband: (several miles pass in silence.)

Husband: (finally can’t stand the silence anymore) Know what I just realized? Suppose you lived in the right place — say right here by the state line. Suppose further that you wake up with a craving for a chicken biscuit and some hash browns, as one does.

Wife: (totally uninterested) Uh-huh.

Husband: And you get up and dress yourself, you know, go through the trouble of preparing yourself to go out into the world, and in you go. And you get to the counter and say, “I’d like a chicken biscuit and some hash browns, please.” And the kid at the counter tells you, “oh, sorry, man, we stopped serving breakfast at 10:30.” And you realize it’s 10:45 and going through the trouble of getting up to go out in the world is what made you late.

Wife: So you shouldn’t have gotten dressed?

Husband: What? No. Of course you got dressed. I’m not advocating nudism, here. Stay with me.

Wife: I’ll try.

Husband: You could kick and scream and throw a fit and demand to see the manager. Or you could, by dint of your geographical location, hop in your car, drive a stitch down the road in a westerly direction to the next fine fast-food establishment, and be there in plenty of time for your breakfast.

Wife: Uh-huh.

Husband: Because time zones.

Wife: Mm.

Husband: Isn’t that interesting?

Wife: Why didn’t you just go to the one that’s an hour behind to begin with?

Husband: Because, I dunno. You prefer the first one.

Wife: But it’s the same restaurant, right?

Husband: Well, yeah.

Wife: So what’s the difference?

Husband: It’s like Publix and Kroger. They sell the same things, but you prefer to go to Publix, why?

Wife: Because it’s a superior shopping experience.

Husband: Even though it’s more expensive.

Wife: It’s not just about the money.

Husband: And it’s not just about what’s on the menu.

Wife: So … you’re going to a Kroger when you would rather be going to a Publix?

Husband: More like you’re going to a slightly less-nice Kroger instead of the Kroger you wanted to go to.

Wife: Because of the time zones.

Husband: Right.

Wife: And you didn’t check the time before you left the house, because …?

Husband: Because you weren’t thinking about it. You just wanted to get your biscuit and figured you were in time for breakfast.

Wife: Well, that’s where you made your first mistake, isn’t it?

Husband: Right, sure, but we’re getting off the point, here. The point is that if you made this mistake — for whatever reason — you could rectify it by crossing the state line and, in effect, going back in time.

Wife: Uh-huh.

Husband: I just think that’s interesting.

Wife: Right.

Husband: Because it’s arbitrary, you know? Oh, because we decided there’s an imaginary line right here that marks a boundary between this state and that one, we’re also going to say it’s a totally different time on the other side of the line?

Wife: (making a concerted effort, by now, not to engage, stays silent.)

Husband: It’s just weird, is what I’m saying.

Wife: You know, McDonald’s has breakfast 24 hours a day. You could just go there.

Husband: But I don’t like McDonald’s.

Wife: Or you could make your own hash browns.

Husband: Let’s go ahead and assume for the sake of the exercise that if I wanted to make my own hash browns, I wouldn’t be going to a fast-food joint to begin with.

Wife: But after you waste all this time driving back and forth from one place to the other, you could easily have made all the hash browns you wanted.

Husband: Right, but that’s not the point.

Wife: So the point is you want to be lazy enough to sleep in until the last minute, fail to notice the time on your watch, or your phone, or on your car’s dashboard, or anywhere else, miss the cutoff for breakfast at restaurant A, but still have time to cross state lines to be in time for breakfast at restaurant B?

Husband: Well … I’m not saying I want to. I’m just saying you could.

Wife: (takes a long pause.) We can stop for breakfast, if you want.

Husband: CAN WE, THOUGH?

Wife: There’s a McDonald’s at the next exit.

Husband: Yeah, I guess I’m not that hungry.

driving chris farley GIF-source


Vocabulation


We’re out of town the past few days, but a quickie here:

I have a tendency to over-vocabulate. (Big words are fun, especially in conversation — why reach for a five-cent word when there are perfectly good words to be had for a quarter, as the old expression goes? I’m pretty sure that’s how the expression goes.) So when the check-in attendant at the hotel informed me that the side door, while functional, was not totally reliable for entry to the building (card reader acting up), I told my wife that the side door was a “dicey proposition.”

And because my son, who is in kindergarten, soaks up every new word he hears like a black sweater collecting cat fur off the sofa, he immediately pulled me over. “Dad, what’s a dicey proposition?”

Being loaded down with luggage and a soon-to-be-shattered bottle of smuggled wine that I was trying to shoehorn into said luggage, I answered offhandedly: “uh, well, it’s something that’s kind of scary. You know, something you wouldn’t want to use.”

He responded with two words I am learning to dread, because they either mean he has misunderstood me completely or he has understood me perfectly: “oh, okay.”

Later, at dinner, I overheard him leaning in close to his 3-year-old sister to give her a surreptitious warning: “watch out, those green beans are a dicey proposition.”

So, as usual, he’s not wrong, he’s maybe just too blunt.

Which is to say that as usual, I could probably stand to learn a lot from the little bugger. The beans did need salt.

But what really made me laugh was picturing him having the same conversations when he gets back to school in a week. At the lunchroom table, or perhaps in gym. With his classmates who, perhaps, don’t have the affinity and curiosity for language that he does.

“You’ll want to stay away from the mashed potatoes, Tyler. They’re a dicey proposition today.”

“Dodgeball? No thanks. That’s a dicey proposition on a good day.”

My wife keeps asking me what I’m laughing at, and this stuff is really hard to explain.

Anyway.

In related news, since we’re on vacation, I currently smell of Coconut Mint Drop, which is altogether crisp- and creamy-smelling.


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