Friday, September 30, 2011

Barked Up The Wrong Tree

It's a chicken or egg thing, isn't it? Folks and their names. You either better have a great sense of that infant sitting in your arms when you stick a name on it, or early on you better have a great sense of what your name means so as you can arrange your life accordingly, because if not--in either case--someone gets stuck with the wrong name and their whole life can be a rather painful exercise in disconnectedness. Take the above-pictured Stanchion Landreaux for instance (he's the one on top, the human; the dog below is Cooter, Tuck Jennings's bitch). With a name like Stanchion Landreaux you'd think he'd be a lord of the manor type, an expert tamer and ruler of his back 40, someone at peace with the chaos of nature, the wilderness. Far from it, though. As far as possible. The name notwithstanding, Stanchion Landreaux has the personal make-up of the guy standing in an office cubicle, licking glazed donut shards off his fingers and warning people that the toner is low, not like he knows how to do anything about it. If his daddy had been half as wise as he purported and comported himself to be, he would have named his only son something like Phil and done away with the whole Landreaux thing and just made it Landry. Folks is dumbasses most of the time.

It's not like Stanchion is a idiot or nothing. He's got qualities on the plus side. There ain't nobody in the county organize a better pancake breakfast, logistically speaking, than Stanchion. And if you don't mind the odd wince or cringe, his homebrew tastes pretty...well, it gets the job done. Takes the best action photos of the high school's cheerleaders too. That's something. But take him anywhere beyond the smell of a drive-thru or sight of concrete and that boy is more helpless and useless than tits on a shotgun.

So it was with much trepidation in my soul, and I know Curtis Loganbeck's too, when that fool Armsted Callow invited Stanchion along on our annual hunt this year. "Somebody don't get killed or maimed, I'll take it as a happy accident," I told Loganbeck. "Sureshit," he replied, feeling loquacious.

"I'm gonna get me a bear," Stanchion announced when we were still setting up camp t'other side of T.C. Creek. Honey Bun, Stanchion's wife, is gonna have to re-pile that bouffant of hers when she gets the Visa bill for all the hunting haberdashery Stanchion treated himself to. To be kind, the man's portly. Why he needs seventeen layers of vests and such I have no notion.

"If'n a duck don't get you first," Armsted cackled.

"Sureshit," said Loganbeck, feeling convivial.

Anyway, but time passed, as it will insist on doing. We got a few bucks the second day, enough to keep me in venison jerky past March. Stanchion proved to be merely incompetent, which I took as a not insignificant victory. The third morning we was just finishing up the squirrel fritters--the Lunk Stevens way, not the Buddy Mac way, too reedy, them--when Armsted finally cracked with what Stanchion had been doing with the bacon grease every morning. Cracked as in, "Just now what in the hell you doin' with that bacon grease near every day, Stanchion?"

"Soaking my hankies in it," Stanchion replied like duh, as the young ones say. "What else you think I'm doin'? Blow your nose in a sea a bacon aroma like I do, you don't mind the allergy sniffles t'all."

Nonplussed, we all was, at that.

So that day we trekked a ways west, out toward Tuck Jennings's, looking for that big buck we'd seen the day before. "Got a trailer wall just begging for that buckhead," Armsted crowed. I know that trailer wall, opposite the Elvis painting. Call me prejudiced, but that buckhead'd look much better in my den.

"Buck schmuck," Stanchion spat. "I want me a bear. I do believe I'm getting the hang of this hunting thing right quick."

"Well," I offered," how about right quick hanging that shotgun elsewhere? I do kind prize my face is all."

"Sureshit," opined Loganbeck, feeling altruistic.

Half a mile later we were all zipping up, getting rid of Armsted's coffee in some brush, when the barking started. Cooter can smell Loganbeck across about five acres; I do believe the two of them are some kind of long lost kin. Well, a minute later that fyce comes charging down the trail running to Loganbeck, whose arms were already open wide waiting for the embrace, when Stanchion let out an "eeekkk!" (Jesus render me mute if it was anything but a bona fide housewife-encounters-mouse eeekkk!) ear-shattering enough to de-buck the whole county and half of the next one over, too. He--Stanchion--takes off running from whence we came like a monk who just stumbled onto Beale Street. Poor old Loganbeck, standing there waiting for a reunion slobbering like a 60-year-old spinster waiting on an "I do" and that dog run right past him hot on the trail of the turned-tail Stanchion, who by now was maxing out what little speed his corpulence allowed him and yelping sounds I ain't heard since Turgid Noyes had his unfortunate confab with that demonic chainsaw of Bullet Mull's. As he ran for what he thought was his life, Stanchion doffed layer upon layer of his still neatly creased togs, trying to gain more speed I reckon, in a exhibition of dexterity I would have bet anybody but Snipey Horne was far beyond Stanchion's capabilities. Provisions and all whatnot were falling out of pockets as Cooter's barking got closer and closer to Stanchion who, not unwisely if he had possessed the arbor-scaling skills of the twelve-year-old lithe boy he never had been, made the quick decision to get airborne in the nearest tree. But the result, well, that picture up there tells it more succinctly than I could ever muster words for.

That picture, by the way, was snapped by Loganbeck on Stanchion's very own leaping-cheerleader-full digital camera that had fallen out of one of his jettisoned vests' pockets. And as Armsted rolled in the mud cackling, and Tuck Jennings trotted toward us snarling, "c'mere, hound," and Cooter growled and wouldn't let go of Stanchion's ass pocket, and Stanchion whinnied "Help me, Sweet Jesus, help me!" and I surveyed the whole tableau with mild disgust at the entirety of human endeavor, Curtis Loganbeck, after the whizzing sound of the camera's "click," peeked out from behind the camera and, obviously feeling aesthetically proud, said, "Sureashellshit."

"Sixty-five dollars for these trousers," Stanchion lamented afterward, twisted all around and pawing at the bitten-out hole that used to be a back pocket and now just exposed a flabby glute. "Fourteen bucks for a lookalike brand at Wal-Mart," Armsted put in. Cooter lay on the ground snuffling the remains of Stanchion's pocket and hanky; we had been able to separate the dog from Stanchion's ass, but no sane man was going to try to separate dog from fabric or scent. "Beast loves her bacon," was all Tuck offered in the form of explanation or apology.

Yep, Phil Landry would have made sense, but a Stanchion Landreaux barked up a tree with a bacon-soaked hanky makes a man question everything he thinks he knows about anything.

Speaking of which, I know I need to apologize to Orville Schank. God rest your soul, Orville, I know there ain't nothing useless about tits on anything.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Red Sox Win Nothin'! The Red Sox Win Nothin'!, or, The Two Greatest Baseball Games I Experienced Without Seeing Or Hearing Either One

Any truth to the rumors that, twelve hours later, when you call the Boston area Suicide Hotline you're still getting the "all circuits dead" message?

Oh God, is baseball not the greatest game ever? Yes, a month or so after giving up all hope in my Cleveland Indians' surprise season, I've rebounded to take full part in the city's second favorite pastime: taking extreme pleasure in the sports heartbreaks of other cities. You'd think nothing could top this spring's LeBron-led Miami Heat's flame out in the NBA Finals, but really, that wonderful event pales in comparison to last night's baseball goings on in Baltimore and Tampa. LeBron, after all, is nothing but a misguided, fingernail-chomping, insecure kid. Sure it was great for us Clevelanders to see him lose, but it was strictly a one-man show. But Boston? Red Sox Nation? Good Bucky Dent to see it all collapse on the BeanTowners is nothing short of sports nirvana for this Cleveland fan.

Now it's true that my father was a native New Englander and a lifelong Red Sox fan. And it's true that when growing up in the fallow 70s when Cleveland Indians baseball was beyond lousy, I actively rooted against the Red Sox in both '75 and '78 while watching the games with my father. But it was never some antagonistic father-son psycho-drama--I just didn't like most of the Red Sox players then (and who wouldn't take the Big Red Machine or the Bronx Zoo Crazies over the Bosox in those years?) and through the years I have never much cared for their players. But as I grew older the whole force (farce) that is Red Sox Nation grew more and more tiresome. "Long-suffering (i.e. insufferable), rabid Red Sox fans"? Bah. They give both suffering and rabies a bad rap. Such Bosox fans (no need to forgive me, father; you liked them but never were obnoxious about it) are the stray strand of hair on the sumptuous plate of sports--joykillers in extremis. I'm on record as saying I'd rather see the Yankees win 10 straight championships than watch the Red Sox win anything. The Yankees are the devil, yes, but like the devil, they're kind of good to have around, if for nothing more than keeping one's faith life alive and kicking. Plus, their drama is fun, while Red Sox drama is just so much theatre of cruelty stuff.

But I digress. I also, it seems, am regressing. After growing up watching baseball on TV (anyone else remember Harry Jones and Mudcat Grant calling Tribe games on WJW-TV 8 or Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubeck on NBC's beloved Baseball Game of the Week? It's against all my instincts of being a gentleman to even mention Fox Sports and Joe Buck and Tim McCarver), over the last fifteen years or so, having eschewed much of TV, I have discovered the absolute pleasures of following baseball on the radio. But last night, during baseball's greatest night since at least Kurt Gibson's limp-off homerun in the '88 Series, I went back in time even further. Maybe, unbelievably, there's a latent Conserative (I can't even spell the word correctly) Republican lurking deep inside of me who wishes to experience a young Ronald Reagan re-creating Cubs games in a radio studio somewhere in the outback of the Midwest, because I absolutely delighted in following the simultaneous Oriole-Bosox, Yankee-Ray melodramas on's Gamecast.

Trust me baseball fans, you haven't lived until you've followed a game (or two) you really care about until you've stared at your computer screen and seen what ESPN does with a game. There's an (barely) animated diamond graphic (think the ancient video game Pong crossed with the cheap APBA-knockoff dice baseball game I used to play with a small cardboard ballpark and red plastic things representing baserunners), more stats than you could ever dream of, and an almost real-time pitch-by-pitch report popping up. You get each pitch's location on a strike zone graphic. You get pictures of the batter and pitcher. You get up-to-the-out-and-even-pitch probability percentages for runs scoring that inning and "projected winner" of the game. But the best--each pitch is depicted with a small white dot zooming from mound to plate. When a blue light comes on signifying that the pitch is "in play" the white dot slowly, torturously slowly, traces the path of the real-live ball thousands of miles away. I logged on just as Evan Longoria hit the three-run homer in the eighth last night that pulled the Rays, who were down 7-0 at the beginning of the inning, to within 7-6. In what must have taken fifteen excruciating seconds, the white dot lofted away from home plate and (I love this, you could see the ball's shadow on the field) slowly made its way to and beyond the left field fence. Of course, every mere pop out from then on started out looking like a homer, adding an incredible amount of suspense to the experience. My imagination, hopes and fears (and blood pressure) rose and sank, twisted and turned with each slow-moving white dot until finally I could read the result of "in play." I've ridden world-class rollercoasters whose thrills were nothing compared to charting the course of that white dot and waiting for the word on what just happened. Exuberance.

Now this is not the first time I've followed an inning or two on Gamecast, but since the last time I did, ESPN (but wait, there's more!) has added something more--real-time Tweets from various reporters on the scene. In my ethos, Twitter means less than the price of twine in Botswana, but I did get a kick out of reading these instant thoughts while waiting for that white dot to stop its crawl to the seats or somebody's glove. The best came in about the 11th inning in Tampa. A guy wrote, "when this game started, Tommy John still had feeling in his elbow." I hadn't laughed that hard with regard to baseball since Mark McGwire expressed his intention not to talk about the past in front of Congress. Little did I know at the time that in a few minutes, right 'round midnight, appropriately, would I be laughing ecstatically when in the span of about three minutes, my Gamecast recreations would show me Baltimore's two-out two-run walk-off win rally to KO the Bosox, then Evan Longoria's second homerun of the night, a walk-off solo shot in the bottom of the 12th that kicked the dirt onto the Bosox corpse.

But I digress again (funny how writing about Boston's historic, worst-ever September collapse just keeps intruding). That paragraph's real intention was to write about those Tweets. Besides the great Tommy John line, I must say I was distracted by the beguiling Twit-pic of Boston Globe reporter Amalie Benjamin (so not all things in Boston are cringe-worthy; I feel your pain, Amalie).

The great thing about Longo's walk off (well, great in proportion to the Rays, who I believe started the year with baseball's lowest payroll [or near the bottom, anyway], rallying so mightily [in all of September, in just this game] and obliterating the Red Sox, who were everybody's pick back in the spring to win not only the AL but the Series as well, after another off-season spending spree) was that instead of soaring high on the Gamecast screen, the white dot made a bee-line down the third base line (a dying, dilatory bee--the thing must have taken twenty seconds) all the way to the wall, leading me to believe, after first thinking it was a bunt, then a routine grounder to third, that Longo had doubled down the line. But the little (I don't know what color) blob signifying baserunning Longo didn't stop at second, so I'm thinking triple?, and then didn't stop at third, so I'm thinking, a walksprint-off inside-the-park-homer to cap off an unbelievable comeback win to put the Rays in the playoffs and kill off the Red Sox--too much, way too much for this amazing night. Well, that would have been too much. As it was, eventually Gamecast told me Longo hit it over the fence. The thing is, when I actually saw the highlight video, that homerun was indeed a line shot right down the line, so that bee-line white dot, rather than a default soaring one, was completely accurate, as accurate as a cheap, Pong-like animated recreation could be. ESPN, I'm hooked. I'll be Gamecasting throughout the playoffs.

What more could I wish for? A perfect, thrill-filled ending to a glorious night of baseball. Introduction to a new technology that improbably helps me regress further in my love of baseball. A reason to finally follow someone on Twitter. And, best of all, the Boston Red Sox go down in a monumental victory manque.

What more? Well, maybe this as the new "Welcome To Boston" sign:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Know It's In Here, or, I'm Glad I Don't Own A Purse

We've all been there, whether you're young, old, male, or female--a woman opens up her purse and starts the hunt. Hands disappear in a sea of stuff, things bubble up from down below you and even the woman are amazed at ("Oh, so that's where my tube of fix-a-flat went to"), pens, keys, and tissues fly out like so much shrapnel, and upon that golden "I know it's in here, just give me a second," you go blank and begin to ponder eternity's breadth. As a man who occasionally works a cash register, the overstuffed, disorganized purse is one mighty bane. Nothing kills the quick handling of a long retail line like a woman with a messy purse looking to write a check. You hover with a pen at the ready, knowing that if after finally locating her checkbook (now there's a money-raining app to develop--a mini-GPS tracking device for the stuff in one's purse, though I guess most women would put the device in their purse and have to find it first before they could use it to find all the other stuff) she then has to suss out a pen, the man behind her buying just one two-bit item might die or kill, depending on how much he fears mace or a handgun lurking somewhere in that purse. If I'm in a puckish mood, I wait until after the check is (finally) completely written before saying, "I'll need to see some ID, please." Makes a guy wish he had a Monty Hall haircut and a wad of dough: "I'll give you fifty bucks if you can rummage out some dice, and another C-note if you come up with my missing teal sock."

This is all cramming my mind like tubes of lip balm, hand sanitizer, and white-out in a purse because the other morning I woke up to this tidbit on the radio--during her lifetime, the average woman goes through 111 purses. Well, owns/utilizes 111 purses; my estimate would be she "goes through" a purse about 111 x 111 times in an average month. Now I have a friend who's probably getting close to buying his one hundredth golf putter, but beyond such eccentricity, I can't think of any male equivalent to this 111 purses per woman stat. Now don't mistake all of this for a sexist rant. In reality, I'm thanking God men don't have purses; if so, this world would be in even worse shape than it is. I mean, let's face it--women stuff all of their stuff in a relatively small, portable place. Men spread their junk out everywhere. My car--glove compartment, passenger seat, back seats, and trunk--functions merely as my "clutch" purse. I've got closets, drawers, and a Pisan mountain of boxes serving as my real purse. And if I had a garage, ooh baby, it would be a large, shoulder-strapped imitation leather one with all sorts of hidden pockets. I heard a woman recently say this about her house--her husband gets the basement for his stuff, she gets two closets. Good God, if the average man had access to a purse, commerce, diplomacy, and for all I know sexual relations would cease to exist. As frustrating as it is, a woman digging through her purse looking for something pales in comparison to what a guy digging through his would be. Try this test to prove my point. Approach any middle-aged couple in a shopping plaza. Kindly ask the woman to dump her purse. Take stock of all the junk in it. Look at the husband, size him up, and imagine all the crap he would have in his purse. Repair to the nearest tavern to wash away the psychotic vision.

Not to say that a purse can't be an attractive, even tempting item for a man. Not in an "ooh, tres chic" way, but simply in an "oh, that's damn functional" way. I'm sure I'm not the only red-blooded, gadget-loving American male who's long been fascinated by those purse commercials on TV (it's been nearly twenty years since I've had regular access to a TV, but I assume those commercials are still out there). The ones that brag about the magic purse's disorganization-proof design. The purse with the fifty-two pockets and easily accessible key-ring snaps. But wait, there's always more--hidden zippered caches "for your valuables" (like you're gonna stuff your mink stole into it), and an umbrella that shoots out of nowhere the second the purse gets wet. Oh, the allure of the organized life! As a kid I'd watch those long commercials in amazement, thinking, if I were a woman, that's the purse I'd own, and wishing I had the means to get one for my mother (what could possibly be a better present for an 11-year-old boy to get for his mother than the Wonder Purse?), but alas, what with school and all, even if I did have the monetary means, the D of COD would have been difficult to manage. Those commercials were so persuasive to me that I used to roam the malls of my childhood astounded that every woman on the planet didn't own an Amazing Purse.

So ladies, today I celebrate your purses. That you have them, endure them, and don't swing them at snarky guys like me who roll our eyes every time you take the plunge and go spelunking in them for God knows what. Go ahead, splurge today and make your way one purse closer to that magical 111. May I suggest this brand...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Didn't Fall On Me

Excuse my absence the last few days; I was out trying to catch space junk.

Yep, when I read that the odds of a person getting hit by that falling satellite were much better than winning lotto, I decided to cast my catch-lightning-in-a-bottle-get-rich-quick-scheme dreams on the sky instead of an obviously fixed governmental agency computer and bouncing ping pong balls.

I packed some peanut butter crackers, bug repellent, and an old polaroid camera and set off for the wilderness, having paid heed to those NASA wags who said the school-bus-sized piece of space age jetsam would most likely land in an uninhabited area. That's how I ended up spending my weekend in downtown Cleveland. Being a symbolic sucker, I stopped by a sporting goods store and purchased some catcher's equipment. I duly scribbled my favorite Mitch McConnell quotes of the week all over the not-too-broken-in mitt and found a nice sized field of rye sprouting up in what used to be a nice sized Giant Tiger parking lot. Soon, reeking of Off and chomping on crackers, I pounded the mitt, looked heavenward, and started to sing the late R.E.M.'s dreamy "Fall On Me" song. Visions of a guest appearance on Coast To Coast A.M. With George Noory, probing debriefings from NASA, and a million-dollar offer to tell my story to Parade magazine made me squint a little harder into the sky for a piece of falling used space trash. Nothing.

Some hours later I took to squatting behind a makeshift home plate (really just a discarded New York Yankees dew rag) and every so often flipping my catcher's mask off in a hurry, running back to an imaginary screen, and shouting Yo La Tengo while holding the mitt basket catch style. I caught a wayward leaf once, but nothing else.

As day turned to night then to day and then to night again, and my mitt remained empty, I started to ponder this latest expedition of mine, some kind of nerdy Sandford & Son odyssey in search of pie in the sky space junk. Is this what the American Dream has come to, I wondered, sitting around waiting for a school bus to come crashing out of the sky at my feet? Still, I concluded, it'd make a helluva story. I stuck it out another 24 hours. Caught a cold, a warning from a cop, and a chipmunk named Sal. But no space junk, no glory, no quick riches.

So this afternoon I called it quits. I sauntered over to the site of old League Park, buried my catcher's gear there behind what looked like it mght have been home plate, and wended my way home, silently repeating that great Jack Nicholson line from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest: "Well I tried, didn't I? At least I did that!" And upon returning home (which is what all journeys are about, aren't they?) I found a thing much rarer than falling space junk--a comment. From Alaska. Email me Will.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Get Your OWG Right Here

So I'm feeling pretty good yesterday, just like a man who effected the perfect mix of caf and decaf in his coffee maker should feel. On my way to work I had the quickest, most efficient post office stop of my life--no waiting for me but I managed to make the clerk wait while I shuffled through my wallet looking for the five bucks to pay for my ten stamps. Yeah, it was a day to whistle. Then, as soon as I walk into work, I'm greeted by my boss's slyly smiling mug. To make a long story short, the boss asked me if, when I was working at Borders, I had ever made a mix tape for a customer. Well, seeing that I have made mix tapes for just about every sentient person on the planet, of course my answer was yes. A couple years ago a customer was upset that the CD he ordered, a Lee Michaels one with his only real hit, "Do You Know What I Mean," on it, was unavailable. So in the best customer service, which is my natural default setting, I told the guy, no problem. The next day I had a CD with the guy's much-coveted song along with a bunch of great obscure original versions of songs that became famous via covered versions (operating on the seemingly false assumption that "Do You Know What I Mean" was covered by Peter Wolf/J. Geils Band). Anyway, I called the guy up, left a message that his personalized CD was waiting for him, and that was it. He picked it up sometime when I wasn't there, and I never heard from him again. Well, it turns out the guy has been trying to track me down, I guess. He told my boss he had been to various bookstores looking for me. The kicker, the thing that made my boss smile slyly, was that at first the guy thought my boss was me. Now in a very general, squinting across a football field kind of way, my boss and I kind of resemble each other. The guy thought my boss might have been me because, in his words, he was looking for an "older white guy."

I'm two years older than my boss, the oldest guy at my present place of work. Methinks the biggest contributing factor to my boss's let's face it shit-eating grin is that although he might have felt old being confused for an "older white guy," he could take comfort in the fact that although he may be an old white guy, in this case there is an older white guy, namely me.

As they say in the Major Leagues, it's a short passage of time between being a prospect and being a suspect. If indeed one's forties are a time of middle-age crisis, a renewed "search for identity," then I guess my search is now concluded--I am the Older White Guy (OWG).

I think we can all agree that one of the greatest one-liners in all of musical history is this one from Prince's "Kiss": "Act your age, not your shoe size" (for the record I'm exactly six times my shoe size). I was reminded of this line yesterday as I bristled with all sorts of mixed emotions. I was kind of elated that my admittedly great mix tape had encouraged a total stranger to seek me out. But I was also a bit depressed at being described as an OWG, well, really just the O part. But then (and let me just add here, for the benefit of my younger readers who may not be aware of such things, at one time the pop universe virtually revolved around the diminutive Purple One's skinny, pastel-thonged ass) Prince's squeal echoed through my consciousness. What I heard in that wonderful, double-tracked exhortation was not admonishment, but encouragement--embrace it, Dan, embrace.

And so I stand before you today (actually sit, my back's killing me) a fully proud, fully accepting, Older White Guy. Now I realize the OWG moniker might not possess the same hip cachet of Older Black Guy or Older Native American Guy, but dammit, I've got wisdom, too. I can rub my knee with hard-earned experience and tell anybody within earshot, "S'gonna rain, you watch." I can proclaim with equanimity and first-hand knowledge, "Nixon had some good qualities." I can add cryptically, after any youngun's long rant about the state of the world, "I seen it all before." Geez, come to think of it, I can now fart loudly, if not totally proudly--yet--in public, knowing that the only response will be, "Oh, it's just OWG, they can do that, don't mind him." God, this is going to be fun.

I can now fully take ownership of that phrase that's been creeping into my speech more and more lately--"When I was a kid." Time was, when I was a kid and some OWG said, "When I was a kid," all I could see in my mind was a grainy black and white photo of boys in knickers selling afternoon papers with the headline "Japs Surrender" for a penny from a wooden cart. What do these goddamn kids today see when this OWG cranks up the "when I was a kid" wax cylinder of his voice? Day-glo pictures of bell-bottomed freaks protesting against the man? I'll take it over what those goddamned kids twenty, thirty years hence will picture when they're enduring their OWG's reminiscences--goateed, dorky glasses-wearing tenth-generation hipsters watching YouTube videos of their cohorts planking.

Of course, I should have seen all of this coming. A couple weeks ago, a very nice young co-worker, in all sincerity, asked me how I dealt with the Vietnam draft. Seems like I remember playing with my beloved Talking GI Joe Doll (God, what that must be worth on eBay these days), as I was all of nine years old when the U.S. ended its involvement in "Indochina." OWG, indeed.

I should have seen it coming when, just minutes before encountering my boss's I'm-old-but-you're-older-guy smile, I heard the news that the band R.E.M. have called it quits. I was the perfect age, 19, when R.E.M. burst on the scene, so I duly swooned. I literally watched them grow from bar band (Peabody's Down Under, summer '83, with the Replacements opening--the two bands that made up 75% of my listening pleasure circa '83-'87) to arena rockers. I own the picture sleeve early 45s and 12"s. When people--goddamned kids, all of them--at work snidely reacted with, "I didn't know they were still together"--I countered, "I did. I own all their albums, including their last one, released a few months ago" ("there's a couple of good tracks on it, really"--the sadly too-often-used opinion I've been defending the REMsters--as Neil Young called them back when they were just goddamned kids--for years now). Why? Because I am what I am, OWG. So, REMsters, join me in embracing our new status, OWGs. Fart proudly Bill, Peter, Mike, and Michael, and thanks for all the great music and concerts you provided me over the years, all the way back to when I was a kid. And sir customer, whoever you are, stop by and look up this OWG and I'll make you a couple killer R.E.M. mixes.

Now excuse me, it's getting late and I must go trim my white nose hairs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


For the second night in a row I had a plate of leftover spaghetti and meatballs, which means I've eaten spaghetti and meatballs for three nights in a row, which is a mere 362 nights short of my dream. Sure a little something is lost via the microwave vs. fresh out of the steaming pot, but even two-day-old leftover spaghetti and meatballs tastes great. Almost as good as leftover meatloaf. Of course, nothing beats leftover chili, which actually seems to get better (if that's possible) after a day or two. Thanksgiving leftovers get all the good press, and they certainly are good, but nothing beats the holy triumvirate of leftover spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf, and chili in my book.

Alas, there does come a time, however, when one must clean out the tubs of leftovers in the fridge, that slippery wedge of cranberry sauce, that styrofoam box of cold french fries, etc. In such a spirit, then, presently I'm going to clean out this blog's fridge of leftover ideas and false and aborted posts. These are the what-might-have-beens, the notions that for one reason or another didn't quite gel into the usual genius posts my readers--you--have grown so accustomed to. I'm sure even DaVinci had some crumpled up half-sketches in his wastebasket. Take them for what they are, the calisthenics, perhaps, that result in the finely-honed prose you read here regularly.
  • having never watched an entire episode of Friends in my life, maybe take a week off from everything, view the complete series, and share with the world the wisdom you glean
  • I'm writing this post on May 1, 2011, and will post it on October 1, 2011: Hah, if the Indians are in first place this late in the season, there's no stopping them this year. Not injuries, not inexperienced players, and certainly not a Detroit Tigers hot streak toward the end of the year. I told you so.
  • what's a rightover? a mysterious container in the fridge you finally remove and throw away without even checking/assessing the contents of? a plate of stuff from somebody's party you don't want that they insist on wrapping up for you and which you know you'll take right over to the trash can when you get home?
  • a long, incisive piece about the aging watershed for the Children of the 70s that is the impending onset of menopause for Chastity Bono
  • just what is my hang-up with the word "effluvium"?
  • is it too soon for another blog about how great Bob Dylan is?
  • which sport would be easier to learn and take up and be good at into my 50s? cricket or jai alai?
  • There was a young man from the county of Orange/Who da da, da da, da da da da/He tried a banana/But those winds of Santa Ana/Da da, da da, da da da da 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How To Enjoy The Cleveland Browns' Game Day Experience

Yes, that headline should read How To Enjoy Endure The Cleveland Browns' Game Day Experience, but I can't figure out how to make that strike out thing in my headlines, much like the Browns can't figure out how to have a winning season, so, like any Browns fan, you're just going to have to live with it.

For me the Browns' season begins today, the second week of the NFL season, partly because I had to work last Sunday and missed most of the game--the part where they were winning--but mostly because after 40 years of fandom, I've learned that it takes one real game to re-set all my default disappointment settings. Truly, even after 40 years of assiduously following this team, it takes the opener's usual slap in the face to remind me that the implausible, nay, the impossible, is not only possible but a sure thing, that surrealism is a realistic warhorse on the shores of Lake Erie, and that dreams are for rubes. Once these universal truths of "Browns nation" (which if it were truly a nation, would mix the worst of Lichtenstein, Chad, and the stateless Palestinians) are re-established, then one can progress to enjoying another season for what it's worth--basically masochistic diversion, not that there's anything wrong with such a thing.

Since their Phoenix-like rebirth in 1999 (they've got the burning up thing down pat; the rising thing is a perpetual work-in-progress), the Browns have been a rather capable substitute for reading the Book of Job. They once lost a game after winning it (on opening day, mind you--a Bunyanesque wake-up slap in the face) because a member of the team took his helmet off in celebration a few seconds early, and have won a game after losing it (a crazy scenario in Baltimore, no less, a few years ago which involved a ping-ponging field goal attempt and an "after further review" replay conducted while the teams were doffing their pads in the locker room; they then had to don them again to play some OT). So, in the spirit of this every-game-we're-not-in-Kansas-anymore spell that oppresses the Browns, and the fact that nobody has come up with the magical ruby red cleats yet, I offer some hard-won wisdom on how to endure, survive, and just maybe enjoy a minute or two of this season's Browns football.

  • Listen, Don't Watch--The Browns stink. Ergo, the announcers assigned for the television broadcasts of their games are third-tier nobodies, which in itself stinks, but they're usually annoying nobodies to boot. Some lousy play-by-play announcer who can't pronounce half the names correctly spends half the game talking about the always inevitable revitalization of the City of Cleveland and some two-bit backup running back "the Browns brass is really high on." The color analyst you know only because you used to be really obsessed by the game and knew the rosters of every team, including the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad. But mainly you don't want to watch because some things just shouldn't be seen by the naked eye, namely, the Cleveland Browns attempting to play football. Believe me, anything that happens in the game that you might want to see will be replayed endlessly over the next few days, so you can always see it eventually. I mean, everyone will happily gawk at an accident seen after the fact, but no one wants to be involved in the accident, right? And my gosh, on radio you get to hear Jim Donovan, talk about endurers and survivors (welcome back, Jimmy). Donovan should get the gig for play-by-playing the coming Apocalypse; he's well-experienced and he can make it sound fascinating and humorous. Though one can't forget the late great Nev Chandler, the radio voice of the Browns in their last heyday 20+ years ago. Whenever the Browns ran a trick play you could always count on Nev saying, "The Browns are engaging in a bit of chicanery this afternoon." The word chicanery on an NFL broadcast--genius.
  • Take To Bed--If Sartre is correct that Hell is other people, Ultra-Hell is having to experience a Browns game with other people. Let's face it, a Browns game is nothing more than a metaphor for delving deep into the nooks and crannies of one's dark psyche and encountering all the hypocrisies, oxymorons, dichotomies, and gunk that lie therein. You don't want to inflict these personal devils on anybody else, and you really don't want to expose yourself to those of others. We enter this world alone and leave it the same way--use a Browns game to remind you of this cold truth. Besides, if the game gets out of hand you can always get something useful done, like turning your mattress or drifting off to harmless sleep.
  • Don't Drink--Save that 'til after, when you can either happily celebrate the anomaly of a Browns win or drown your sorrows properly. But good God, man, never imbibe in medias res. The Wallendas didn't chug a few before or during their tightrope ambles, heed their perspicacity. You don't drink while operating heavy machinery, right? Taking in a Browns game is the mental equivalent of maneuvering a half-dozen crates of fragile china with a fork-lift on a blizzardy rush hour I-480. Though, after some thought, drinking heavily well before the game might make some sense as really, nothing replicates a hangover like a Browns game.
  • Eradicate Hope--You know why I ask for a new dictionary every Christmas? Because I've wisely ripped out the page containing the word hope from my dictionary every year on September 1st. Hope is a friend indeed when buying Lotto tickets, facing a ten-foot, ten-dollar putt on the 18th hole when you have five bucks (plus the standard three pennies for ballmarkers) in your pocket, and when walking into a singles bar, but it serves absolutely no purpose, in fact is way counter-productive when it comes to the Cleveland Browns (notice I don't say "rooting for the Browns" because, well, admitting I do that just might be the straw that breaks the back on the camel that is the forces keeping me away from institutional commitment). If there were an equivalent song in football for baseball's "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," Browns fans would sing not "so let's root root root for the Brownies..." but "so let's endure endure endure the Brownies, for if they don't win it's all the same..." Hope with the Browns is like a condom in the wallet of a eunuch--pointless and only a cruel reminder of what could be but won't.
So, to sum up: In order to best experience another Cleveland Browns football season, be a sober, bed-ridden, hopeless Luddite. God, there's nothing like football, welcome back old friend!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guest Host Post: It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

I thought it was a nice gesture, if not the epitome of magnamity. A guy I know, Russ, for the last couple of years has hosted a charitable golf outing, The Luddite Open. The charity is Russ himself. He swears 100% of all proceeds go to help pay his alimony. Since everyone who knows Russ likes his ex-wife Doreen a lot more than Russ, it seems like a good cause. The Luddite part comes in when you get to the course and Russ hands you a beaten up wood wood, most of them circa 1967 (Russ has strange collecting tastes; just ask Doreen about the amount and variety of whoopee cushions he amassed over the course of their 12-year marriage), and a dozen Top-Flite range balls fished out of a reservoir adjacent to a driving range outside of Clyde, Ohio. All the participants must play the entire 18 holes with the water-logged Top-Flites and must tee off on every hole with a wood wood. And the only carts allowed are the pull kind.

Anyway, somehow Russ is able to get people to donate door prizes, skill prizes, hole sponsorships, and items for a silent raffle that is the climax to the whole event--in true Luddite, guy-who-struggles-to-pay-his-alimony fashion, the "meal" at the end of the round consists of Kool-Aid poured from suspicious looking plastic pitchers, loaves of Wonder Bread and containers of generic peanut butter and jelly, and marshmallows for toasting on a small grill (BYOS--bring your own stick for those). So this year, obviously overestimating the popularity of this blog, I donated for the silent auction the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to "Guest Post" my blog. Whoever ponied up the most money for the privilege would be allowed free range on this blog to rant/rave/entertain/shill/whatever for one post. Knowing the kinds of participants the Luddite Open draws, I was thinking conservatively when I told Russ I thought the offer would bring in one, maybe two C notes--which is no small portion of Russ's monthly amount due.

Unfortunately, on the day of the outing my other altruistic endeavor, manning the phone lines for the local Grammar Hotline, got in the way: Just as I finished my round I got an urgent call regarding a semi-colon pile up at the home office of a summer school correspondence course woman who was trying to complete a term paper on just how Mia Farrow could fall in love with both Frank Sinatra and Woody Allen in one lifetime. So I missed the after-golf shindig. Nevertheless, I was anxious to find out who had won the guest-blogger prize. Russ was evasive when I called him a few days later. "Damn, I don't have the list of winners in front of me," he claimed. "I'm sure it's someone you'll know and they'll be getting in touch with you soon enough." Well, that was eight weeks ago, and quite frankly I had forgotten about the whole thing until I got a call from a guy named Lou last week wondering how he could claim his prize. After a weird chat of about five minutes it became clear Lou had no connection with Russ, indeed had never played golf in his life, and didn't even know what a blog is. I had to investigate.

The following is not pretty. After much badgering Russ admitted no one had bid on my donation and that he ended up giving it to some guy named Ralph who was a guest at the outing of our friend Ray and who, Ralph, was pissed that his door prize was a whoopee cushion signed by Soupy Sales. Ralph turned out to be a bit of a Neanderthal who told me he gave the "stupid thing" to his miscreant daughter Raynelle. Tracked down in a high school parking lot cutting class and smoking Native American Spirits, Raynelle, after I convinced her I wasn't trying to lure her into a circus life and that I wouldn't tell her father anything, admitted she used the piece of paper on which I had written my generous offer to write a rather raunchy note to some kid named named Ricky in Mr. Jettison's chemistry class, because, "like, he'll flunk you on the spot if he catches you texting, man." Ricky was a scared little would-be hood who confessed upon some arm-twisting (both figurative and, as it turned out, literal) that he had used the paper to wad up some gum ("my mother always told me to dispose of gum properly, not to just spit it out") when he went joyriding after school with some wayward friends who had stolen the car from the maintenance staff's parking lot and who ended up totalling it and abandoning it. Enter Lou, who drives a tow truck for a wrecker.

"I work in salvage, so I salvage. Everything's got some value. I want mine. Now what the hell is a blog?" Thus my introduction to Lou. Turns out the guy, though not particulary loquacious or creative in blogging terms, is a pretty nice guy. We've made plans to go bowling over the winter. Anyway, after much cajoling and attempted creative jump-starting, I here present Lou's blog post (Lou isn't much of a typist, so his entry was dictated):

Lou Barbuto's Top Ten List Of The Use Of The Number Ten (10)

10. "I can't really think of a tenth one. Are we finished now?"

9. "Technically it's not really a use of ten, but I liked the old ten dollar bills with the cars and the people on the back. Did you know you can see a guy hitchhiking, if you look really close?"

8. "Top ten lists, I guess. What the hell?"

7. "The Aerosmith song, 'Big Ten Inch Record.'"

6. "Ten fingers seems perfect to me. I once knew a guy named Ron who was born with six fingers on each hand. Looked freaky if you ask me. Toes I don't care about."

5. "First and ten. Football. Ten yards for a first down is excellent."

4. "Bowling. Ten pins perfectly arranged in that little triangle. Huh? And ten frames of course. It's all pretty cool." (note to self--write a blog about the differences between bowlers and golfers re what is cool)

3. "Pearl Jam's Ten album. Kick some ass, man."

2. "The Ten Commandments. Not the movie, I hate Heston, but the actual Ten Commandments. Gotta give God his due on that one."

1. "That bathing suit. Those cornrows. Bo Derek, the movie Ten."

(I'll be back next post.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In Dreams, I See This Guy?

Do you Coast? I've been Coasting faithfully for five years or so. I'm talking the greatest radio show ever--Coast To Coast AM With George Noory (though I also love George's Saturday night fill-in, Ian Punnett). Aliens, conspiracy theories, Bigfoot, all the 2012 dope you need to know--it's all here, nightly from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. in the East, though my radio station usually plays the previous show's last hour from midnight to 1 a.m. George is a bona fide St. Francis of Assisi of the airwaves, always polite and comforting to all his crazy and/or intelligent listeners and guests. The best.

Anyway, last night I caught last Friday's last hour, the usual Friday "open lines." A lot of people were calling in telling George about their most significant dreams (the sleep movies, as opposed to the one-day -I'll-have-my-own-reality-show type). I was amazed at how vividly some people claim to remember dreams they had when they were little children. Of course I have vivid dreams all the time, but the ones I remember clearly upon waking are few and far between, and they certainly kind of evaporate over time (how many times, like this morning, do I wake in the middle of a particulary lively dream and can almost feel the memory dissolve and crinkle before my mind's eye?). So as I'm listening to people's most memorable dreams last night, as I myself was trying to drift away to dreamland, I started thinking about one particular dream that has stayed with me over the years, one of about five or six that haven't faded away altogether.

It must have been at least twenty years ago. In my dream I was ushered into a series of increasingly more secretive rooms by a few people who were strangers to me. Without knowing what was going on, I knew it was important. Finally I reached the final room. There, very much alive, but obviously on his death bed, lay Lenin, the (in)famous leader of the nascent Soviet Union. Lenin, himself, he of the steely facial hair and the imposing forehead. The purpose of my visit, it soon became clear, was to be allowed the obvious honor of touching the dying legend's forehead. I timidly stuck out my hand and Lenin actually leaned forward a bit off his death pillow, and I touched the famous forehead. End of dream, as far as I can remember.

Now eventually I have come to regard the dream as completely meaningless, the product of some short in my dusty synapses. But there was a time when the dream fascinated me for what it might mean. Could I (who, despite what some of my trueblood Red-state friends in this decidedly Blue county might think, possesses no Communist sympathies except when somebody brings a plate of homemade brownies to work) be destined to grow some cool facial hair, lose even more of my head hair, and end up leading the second great American Revolution, after having the torch passed through that forehead touch? So obsessed with finding the meaning to this dream was I that one crazy night in the French Quarter of New Orleans I decided to blow my last ten bucks not on a very budget tattoo but on a very budget Tarot card reading from one Madame Knew. In her smoky, ill-lit parlor I told Madame Knew all I could remember of the dream. She nodded her head gravely and then began turning over cards, making all sorts of unintelligble noises as each card was revealed. Unfortunately Madame Knew was a struggling single mother of four misbehaving boys; one of them had apparently mixed his baseball card collection in with his mother's Tarot deck, so when the ultimate card was flipped it ended up being a 1979 Topps Bucky Dent card. Madame Knew winced and shuddered then regained her composure and shrugged her shoulders. "Well," she looked at me with daggers in her eyes, "if you're a Red Sox fan you're destined for a life of continual heartbreak. If not, well, enjoy your great smile. End of session." She swept the cards off the table and ran out screaming, "Beauregarde, I'm gonna wring your little neck."

And that's it. When I think of the Lenin dream, as I did last night, I just smile.

Lenin, or as more intelligent, sophisticated people call him...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Oh, That Guy: Bravura!

I love the Internet. Years ago, it had to be at the wonderful Cleveland Cinematheque, I saw a short film that's mesmermized my memory ever since. So mesmerized that I could never remember its name. But over the years, whenever I've had conversations about great movies, I always bring it up and try to describe it, but all I am able to say is that it's basically a one man show about some English Lord talking about his estate. Wickedly funny. And it stars Jim Broadbent. Broadbent is one of those "oh, that guy" actors. A lot of people don't know his name, but he turns up in a lot of movies--always the better for his acting--and is easily recognizable. I think I first fell in love with him in Mike Leigh's amazing film, Life Is Sweet. He's one of those actors who will pull me to a movie just because he's in it. Anyway, tonight I was determined to re-discover this short film. A few clicks not only gave me the name of the film, A Sense of History, directed by, of course, Mike Leigh, but also the film itself.

If anything, the film is even better than I remembered it from nearly 20 years ago--it's a British TV film from 1992. Broadbent is brilliant, and if you stick around for the credits (watch them all, there's one more bit at the end) you find out he also wrote the thing, which only serves to raise the man that much higher in my pantheon of cultural heroes. If Ray Davies wrote screenplays and acted instead of writing Kinks' songs, this is what he might have come up with on a dourly very good day. The film is a classic of black humor: macabre at times, witty, hilarious, and oddly moving. The language--the writing and how Broadbent delivers it--astounds me.

I can go on and on. I'm just happy to have found it after all these years and to be able to share its wonders. So, go get something to drink, settle in for a mere 25 minutes, and enjoy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Voluntary What?

So I'm sitting around this morning waiting for a plumber to show (Samuel Beckett got a modernist theatre of the absurd classic out of the same situation; I, and therefore you, get this measly blog post) and before I know it I'm reading the police blotter in the morning paper (yes, Cleveland has only one daily paper, but having been a paperboy for the late [roughly thirty years of late status] Cleveland Press afternoon paper, I curmudgeonly cling to nostalgia)--call it involuntary boredom. Anyway, amidst all the usual CVS and Target shoplifter items I found this story:

Voluntary intoxication, Coventry Road: A 20-year-old man from Illinois was arrested for voluntary intoxication following a call at 3:35 a.m. Sept. 2. The man reportedly attempted to enter a limousine without consent, leading to police being called.

Sounds like a Raymond Carver story written by Ernest Hemingway. Now the obvious first question, of anyone with any local knowledge, is just what in the hell is a limousine doing on Coventry? It's like a hackey-sacker wearing a football helmet (do people still hackey sack, by the way?). And you know what? If you've parked your limousine on Coventry at 3:35 a.m., I'm afraid you've lost any claims to actually granting consent to anybody who wants to attempt to enter it. It's 3:35 in the morning--anybody walking/staggering around then is going to be involuntarily wowed by the sight of an idling limo; the fact that they're going to want to check it out goes with the territory. Motor out to Pepper Pike if you're all hung up on the consent thing.

Needless to say, though, the bigger absurdity of this story is that "voluntary intoxication" nonsense. Is this what legalese has come to? Come back, George Carlin, all's forgiven. Unless you're under the age of let's say ten and/or a captive of somebody, intoxication is hardly involuntary. I mean, come on, "involuntary intoxication"? "Honest officer, I was going to stay home tonight and read me some Willa Cather, but my buddy called and his girlfriend just broke up with him. I didn't want those nine beers. I was just trying to be a friend who's 'always there.'" Or, "Your honor, I was just following good golf etiquette. How freaky is it that an entire fivesome makes holes in one and is obligated to buy everyone a drink? I was perfectly content with my Arnold Palmer."

And don't the laws of physics or something similar apply here? In order for something to exist, its opposite must exist, right? So if there's such a thing as voluntary intoxication there must be something called involuntary sobriety, right? Well, I guess being forced to watch a Republican Presidential Primary debate qualifies. At least that's a new one for the inevitable hundred-times-a-day "how are you doing" question: "Involuntarily sober, you?"

I don't know but I just don't like this intentional obfuscation of language we continue to involuntarily have to live with. Bring back the Mayberry World. At least back then Otis was what he was, the town drunk, not the regional municipality's reportedly voluntarily intoxicated person of interest.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's In The Contract, Honey

Say what you will about the French, but don't say their legal system doesn't stand behind the nation's image as THE place and people for love. Or at least what seems to pass for love in these jaded times--sex. I saw this story the other day about a French court fining a man 10,000 Euros for not providing his (now ex-) wife with enough sex over the course of their 21-year marriage (not being too versed in foreign currency exchange rates, I'll leave to you the figuring out of what a year's worth of marital sex amounts to in greenbacks). Essentially, it seems, the court ruled that sex is a mandatory, enforceable part of the marriage contract.

Now I don't know le squat about French culture, but something tells me if the ramifications of this ruling waft over the pond to these litigious, infamously Puritan/Gomorrahan, Saturday night/Sunday morning American shores, Judge Judy and her robed brethren and sisteren are going to be inundated with alleged sexually neglected spouses of both genders. Eventually the Roberts Court will have to decide the ultimate question of just how much is enough (can't wait to hear Scalia on that one). Could be an interesting federal/states rights argument, too. I mean can one Supreme Court mandated number ("couples should and must have sex X times in the course of one [non-leap] calendar year") possibly be sufficient for such a "contain multitudes" diverse American culture? Is the young South Beach trophy wife's makin' whoopee needs equal to those of the 40-year married "and damn proud of it" Rotarian (well, maybe Kiwanian) hardware proprietor from Pierre, (North/South I never remember which) Dakota?

I don't know, but it seems inevitable to this cultural wag that eventually the actuaries will have to get involved so that every spouse will be assured of his or her rights. "Well folks, from the data you've submitted and that I've run through our latest tables, I guess I'm happy--certainly kind of envious, to tell the truth--to inform you two that you really shouldn't leave the bedroom until April of every year." Or, "Can't say I've ever seen these results before, but you two 'life of the party' types seem to be, well, overdrawn. You might have to wait until time travel technology is perfected and then go back and feign a headache or two on those Pocono getaway weekends you used to take in order to, well, even up your, um, scores." Which types of results will only lead to the inevitable "marriage bed" tax and that braggart neighbor of yours smilingly complaining about his tax bill, nudge nudge, wink wink. "Okay, honey, I'll get out that negligee, but it's going to cost us come tax time." Leave it to the French to screw up a good thing.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Succor For The Succor-Seekers

As any scribe should, I have nothing but the utmost respect for the actual people who were, and the entities who are now, Dear Abby and Ann Landers. And while I admire them deeply, I can honestly say I am hardly in their league. That said, among the variety of services I hope this blog provides its readers--including, but not limited to amusement, provocation, enlightenment, wisdom, diversion, etc.--I aspire at times also to gift you all with sound advice pertaining to your mundane lives, and I mean mundane in its literal, non-judgmental sense. With the aid of a little technology, I believe I am able to do so.

You see, behind the scenes here at spitoutyourgum, I am able to see all of the keywords/phrases, all of the search terms, that have led people, eventually, to this blog. Quite a handy tool, I must say. After wading through the most popular search terms--"take me to the best blog ever," "oh, interweb, make me laugh my ass off," "genius,"--I find the more obscure "one-offs": people looking for something very specific, and, it seems, very important to their lives. Sometimes I have to scratch my head and wonder how the combination of search terms led them here (and scratch my head further wondering if anything they might find here could possibly help them in their time of need). My hope always, and isn't it the root hope of all bloggers, is that even if readers don't find exactly what they're looking for, at my blog ultimately they will find succor. My blog truly succors. That's my purest hope.

And so, firm in the belief that there is a succor-seeker Googling every second, on this day of un-labor I will labor to provide succor to the succor-less. I must qualify things a bit before I begin, though: Although I happily play doctor, I am NOT a doctor; any advice given here is purely the fruit of years of sweaty experience and the wisdom therein gained--in other words, it ain't AMA-approved. Wade at your own risk. The following "questions" are the actual, verbatim search terms people have used to find their way to this blog.

Is a shot glass of nyquil deadly?

You're coughing up a storm, dude, and your nose is a train wreck, your throat is in agony, and your head begs for transplant and sleep is impossible--you better hope and pray NyQuil is deadly, or what's the point? Deadly, that is, not fatal. I find that at the first sign of any of the above symptoms, if I read the warnings carefully and with consideration, and pour as per instructions that red gold liquid into the plastic cup provided and gulp it greedily and chase it with nothing more potent than tepid tap water, within thirty minutes I'm out cold for the next eight hours and wake up feeling like Milton Berle in a gingham dress--natty, to the nines. Key words, "plastic cup provided." Not some Hooters shot glass you overspent for or the dreaded highball or the hoity toity snifter.

Should I wear a bra to bed?

I am creative. I do have an imagination. But I ain't no Joyce, Tolkien, or O.J. Simpson. I could not create or imagine such a question. It is a genuine query that somehow made it to this blog. Just what kind of answer the questioner gleaned from the heretofore contents of this blog, well, I plead the current let's not go there. But in my dedication to be the succorer to the succor-seeker, let me attempt to provide some support here. A former boss of mine was big on asking the "clarifying question." Oh, the clarifying questions that initial question conjures. But let's not be a boob about this. Am I correct in thinking that "to bed" means "going to sleep"? Because one might take to one's, or another's, bed for many reasons--attempting the day's crossword puzzle, eating cheese and crackers, removing the mattress tag, etc. Having never slept in a bra, I can't experientially comment on the pro's and con's of doing so. I just know that the thought brings to mind the word encumbrance and its delightful cousin-word unencumbered. Encumbered sleep offers little succor, from my vantage point. Having seen paintings of healthy-breasted women painted long before the invention of the bra (and doesn't the word brassiere have such richer connotations than the word bra?), I can hazard the guess that sleeping bra-less does no visible damage. That said, speaking from all points of view except a religious one (consult your minister, swami, guru, rabbi, whatever), I believe you should do what feels right for you, regardless of others' views, when it comes to going to sleep, to whatever degree of clad or unclad you feel okay with.

What does it mean when you dream of spit out your gum?

I notice the question is not "...when you dream of spitting out your gum." I also notice that it isn't spitoutyourgum, but still, I have to make the determination that the question pertains not to dreaming of any expectorative action but indeed dreaming of this particular blog. In which case, you obviously care more about this blog than I do, which all I can say is someone should. After due consideration I conclude that dreaming about this blog means one of two things: Either your life is fully unencumbered and you truly are living the dream, or you seem to be mixing something a bit edgy with your nightly NyQuil doses. Whichever, it sure beats dreaming of Mitt Romney, doesn't it?

What does your dreams mean when you can't spit out all of your gum?

On the surface, your question means you need some grammatical help with regard to subject verb agreements. Digging deeper, as a true succorer does, I believe the dream signifies a self-considered deficiency in being able to communicate effectively on your part. This blog takes its name from the Bob Dylan line "your words are not clear/you better spit out your gum." Thus, at its zenith, the wisdom dispensed by this blog is via Bob. You feel able to communicate somewhat--you clearly can spit out some of your gum--but not to the extent that you want to. If you're a woman, I suggest the usual remedies: a weekend at a spa, a month's worth of Dr. Phil TiVoing, joining a drum circle group, ice cream. If you're a man, buck up son, it's your lot in life--spit when and what you can and just chew on the rest, it gets better with age and other people's begrudging tolerance of you. I'm also kind of thinking, and it's merely inchoate musing at best, so take it for what it's worth to you, but maybe your nagging dream has something to do with sleeping in a too-encumbering bra.

Where is Cleveland Ohio?

All right, I can go on only my wise instincts here and deduce that that question, resulting as it did in the eventual arrival at spitoutyourgum (headquarted, coincidentally in Cleveland, Ohio, so I guess the short answer is "right here, relax, you found it"), is not a literal, geographic query, but a more philosophic, existential one. Where is Cleveland, Ohio indeed. It's smack on the faultline/divide of hope and despair. It's not the buckle but the third notch (the one you unhappily shift to after you've eaten seven too many pirogis in one sitting) on the Rust Belt. It's south of nowhere. If the obscure outpost up river Willard stumbles upon in Apocalypse Now is indeed "the asshole of the world," then Cleveland, Ohio is that itchy part on your back you can't reach without a long pencil. It is the place that Hollywood decides Detroit or Milwaukee represents better and is a decent stand-in for Stuttgart, Germany. It is the cluttered box in your basement where obsolete technology winds up. If it's not quite home to, it's the real-life destination for, those who sleep fitfully, encumbered as they are with NyQuil paranoia, mouths of unwanted gum, and bra quandaries, and are just hoping to toss and/or turn into the arms of a competent succorer.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bob And Baseball

During my non-blogging August, I failed to address two main events of much import: The fact that I saw Bob Dylan in concert once again back on August 6, and the incredible fact that the Cleveland Indians are still playing meaningful games this late in the season, with an outside chance at running down the Tigers and winning the AL Central crown. Both wondrous events defy description, so you'll just have to content yourselves with this bit of whimsy--Bob Dylan song titles combined with baseball names and terms (can you spot the one football interloper?). Hail Bob, Go Tribe. 

A Bob Dylan Baseball Hall Of Fame

Open the Door, Homer Bush
Desolation Preacher Roe
From a Buick 6to Lezcano
Every Grain of Sandberg
Driftin’ Too Far From Ernie Shore
License to Killebrew
Chuck Rainey Day Women #12 & 35
Lay Lady Lay Down a Bunt
Watching the Mickey Rivers Flow
Maglie’s Farm
Under The Red Schoendienst Sky
Blind Willie McGee
When I Pitch My Masterpiece
Precious Angel Hermoso
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dummy Hoy
Batter’s Up To Me
Subterranean Homestand Blues
Bud Black Crow Blues
Ballad of a Thin Manny Mota
Like a Rolling Steve Stone
Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie Montanez
Tiny Jeff Montgomery
Going, Going, Gone to the Bullpen
Solid Rock Raines
Buddy Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar
Obviously 5 Basestealers
Idiot Wind Blowing Out of Wrigley
Property of Jesus Alou
Just Like Tom Trebelhorn’s Blues
Visions of Joe Adcock
Absolutely Sweet Lou Piniella
4th Time Around the Order
Lenny Dykstra Bruce Kison
Song To Woody Fryman
Lily, Rosemary and Jack Clark
It Ain’t Me, Babe Ruth
I Pity the Poor ImmiGrant Jackson
Not Alvin Dark Yet
Shelter From the Storm Davis
Please, Mrs. Henry Aaron
Temporary Like Al Cowens
Million Dollar Bash Brothers
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue Moon Odom
Stan the Man In Me
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes Walter The Big Train Johnson To Cry
I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine Busch
The Ballad Of Frankie Frisch Lee May and Judas Priest Holmes
Honey Just Allow Me One More Dean Chance
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go Back to the Minors
Masters of Warren Spahn
Ballad of Ollie Brown
If You See Tommy Herr, Say Hello
Buckets of Chuck Rainey
Father of Ray Knight
My Back Mitchell Pages
Gates Brown of Eden
Ruben Sierra Remus
I Threw It All Away, (E 5)
Three Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
One More Cup of Coffee in the Big Leagues
Joey Cora
Saving Mark Grace
Are You Randy Ready?
Mel Queen Jane Approximately
Alvin Dark Eyes
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Clay Carroll
Ring Them Buddy Bells
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Clyde Wright
Can’t Waite Hoyt
Boots Day of Spanish Leather
Restless Wes Far(ew)ell
Man In The Dale Long Bud Black Coat
David Justice Like a Woman
One More Ray Knight
Country Pie Traynor
Peggy Boots Day
Champ Summers Days
Never Say Hey Goodbye

Special U.L. Washington Wing:

I’ll Remember U.L. Washington
I Want U.L. Washington
Sweetheart Like U.L. Washington
To Be Alone With U.L. Washington
Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With U.L. Washington
`Til I Fell In Love With U.L. Washington
Something There Is About U.L. Washington
What Can I Do For U.L. Washington?