Saturday, December 31, 2005

Let's try this again

Yeah, I know, that was fast.

But in the spirit of a friend of mine, who threw her first "New Year's Do-Over" party after an early-January night when she wrecked her car and her husband wrecked HIS coming to rescue her - I get a permanent invite because I rescued them both - I'm going to write my Happy New Year post over.

Yes, I'm feeling a little better.

Yes, I'm still busy, stressed out and going through some personal stuff I JUST DON'T NEED right now.

Yes, the Raiders sucked this year. Again.

And yes, I'm still moody.

But that doesn't excuse being an asshole, and I was an asshole before.

So first, a public apology to Stewie, who ought to be used to me by now. If you've followed the comment-related sniping of an earlier post, you'll understand why.

And now, for the excuses for being an asshole.

Look, this isn't a great time for me. I hate the holidays. I'm overworked. I don't have much time, and I have a dark cloud hanging over my head.

And it hurts to think I have almost no time, go out of my way to try and take time to post to my little blog (you ever read the times on some of these posts?) and then be accused - even in jest - of not putting in enough time. I'm frustrated enough in life, and not just sexually.

So I'm sorry, Stewie. Mea culpa. (Or as they say somewhere, "my bad.") I hope someday soon, I can laugh with relief and explain to you and everyone else why I'm being so bitchy lately. It's a lot on my mind, and I just can't share it right now.

That said, for the rest of you, please understand: I don't have a lot of time to post here, or do much of anything else. And I'm struggling with a lot of stuff right now. So yes, keeping this up is even more pressure, and demands sometimes that I neglect even more things to do this. 2005 was a good year (yay!) but the ending has been rough on me (blame the job and the personal stuff). And I really do want to start 2006 fresh.

It's just tough to do right now. Maybe, like Mary, I should declare a do-over at the end of January and start the new year over. Maybe I will. A lot depends on what happens between now and then.

I enjoy doing this blog, mostly. It amuses me and I hope it amuses you.

I just need to relax, take a little break and hopefully deal with some stuff. So be warned - my remarks of before still stand... I don't know how much I'll be posting in the near term.

But when I thought about it a little bit, really, how is that different from normal?

So Happy New Year, everyone! Again.

I promise, I'll try to put the emphasis on "happy." But it'll probably just be on "year."

Reasons for moodiness, including depression (which I have) and PMS (which I don't)
Stewie's blog, like I don't give him enough free plugs - but I figure I owe him one
Yes, Wikipedia has an entry for "asshole"; no, it doesn't have my picture on it

Oh, and if you're wondering what caused the whole flap with Stewie, and you're too lazy to read the comments on the earlier post, he was complaining (in jest, or so he says) that I don't reply to comments people leave. I read them all. I ponder them all. (Well, not the spam.) I just only reply when I have something to say, something that (ideally) adds to the discussion at hand. So if you're reading, thanks. If you're commenting, thanks. I mean it. And if I'm not responding, no, I'm not ignoring you. I just figure I write enough random stuff here and I don't want to bore you with more.

After all, the expression is "discuss amongst YOURSELVES."

Happy New Year!

Just wanted to wish any and all of my readers a Happy New Year.

(Not the Jewish New Year, the regular calendar one. Duh.)

Someone I used to work with once wished me a happy new year with the words, "May the coming year be rich in all that is good."

The next year was probably the worst year of my life, but I appreciated the sentiment, even in retrospect.

It's really about the nicest wish I could make for you and I always admired the beauty and simplicity of it.

I'm thinking of taking a bit of a hiatus from blogging to concentrate on some other writing and some other stuff in my life. So forgive me if the posts here become less frequent. I guess I just don't have as much to say that's worth sharing (at least in my opinion) as I have in the past. Or I just don't feel up to it anymore. I don't know. Life on the Rim has just felt like a chore lately, and I've got enough stress in my life these days as is.

I hope this is just a funk that I'll shake my way out of sooner rather than later. For both our sakes. But consider yourself warned. Sorry my efforts to post every day became a few times a week than maybe once a week and then "when I feel like it." Sorrier still I just don't feel like it right now.

(If you miss the blogging, you know where you can read my other stuff.)

Not much of an upper to close the year with, I know, but tomorrow's a new day, a new year, and a fresh start for me. Again.

May the coming year be rich in all that is good. And filled with munkees.

Friday, December 30, 2005

A little bit Christmas, a little bit rock 'n' roll

I got two pretty cool gifts for Christmas, along with some excellent books.

Yeah, that's right, I said Christmas. I know, I'm Jewish. But when you grow up in rural Pennsylvania, they don't let you have Hanukkah off from school, but you get a whole week around Christmas.

So that's when my family celebrates.

Actually, we open gifts Christmas Eve. I don't know why. Whether it's an f-u to the Man, or what, it's the way it's always been.

We spend the holidays with another family, some very dear friends who might as well be relatives. But that's sort of why I've got this warped holiday existence.

The first Christmas morning I woke up in my parents house was about six years ago. This year, at Thanksgiving time, we (my folks and the same family we spend Christmas with) went to see BTE put on "Miracle on 34th Street" (a remarkable comeback from the debacle a few years ago that was "Peter Pan"). Anyway, I'd never really seen it, but it turned out to be about Santa Claus and whether or not he's real. I'm pretty sure I stopped believing in Santa Claus the year I got the Millennium Falcon "Star Wars" toy for Christmas. That would be the year my Mom took a curve in the road a bit fast, and it fell on my head from the pile of gifts in the back seat next to me.

Whap! Yeah, Mommy's one of Santa's elves. Sure.

I realize I'm meandering way off topic here, but there's a lot of explaining that needs to be done if you're going to understand my holidays.

So I celebrate with seven other people: My mother and father, the parents of the other family, and their three children. The grandparents of that family were part of the tradition - my Uncle Leo was like an extra Grandfather, a mentor and dear friend of my father's. But they've since passed away.

The upside is, of course, I get gifts from two families. The downside is, of course, I have to buy gifts for two families.

That's not really a downside. I actually enjoy giving gifts. I enjoy giving gifts almost more than I enjoy receiving them. Maybe more. I know that sounds like about 5-foot-9 worth of bullshit, but it's true. I really enjoy giving something to someone else - something that's special, in particular. Like a gift they didn't ask for that still rocks the house, or when they ask for something like "a sweater" and you get them one they really like. (Or when you give someone something for no reason at all, like the time I sent Sari flowers because she complained no one ever sent her any, and I had a coupon. But obviously, at Christmas, that random occasion thing doesn't apply.)

Don't get me wrong. I love getting gifts. But I've reached that awkward stage in life where I'm fortunate enough to have most of the means to buy what I want, and the stubborn shopping addiction and credit limit that ensure I can do just that.

So most of what I asked for this year were books. Not an exciting gift for a child-at-heart who still loves toys, but I love to read and the books are rockin' cool.

But I did get two excellent gifts. One, I asked for, the other was random. And like I said, it's the winning random gifts that just rock.

I feel guilty. My parents didn't get me the cooler of the two gifts.

They got me a nice big fluffy comforter like the one I had on my bed when I was younger. They're superduper warm, and my bedroom tends toward the cold side in winter. And it's a definite A+ as far as the most useful, most enjoyable gift.

Nothing I love more than a warm bed on a cold morning. Except perhaps sharing it with someone. Someone at least slightly sexier than a stuffed monkey.

But it wasn't the most fun gift. That was a random gift from the other family: a desktop speed bag.

Yup, a leather bag you can punch to your heart's delight.

Now, those of you who know me know I go by "the Hitman" on some of my writings and other sites. How do you think I got the nickname? Yeah, my penchant for hitting things. Usually things harder than my fists. Like walls.

So since that was one of the first gifts I opened, I spent most of the rest of Christmas Eve first entertaining people by having to manually pump up the bag with my lazy out-of-shapeness. And then irritating them by repeated smacking the hell out of this thing. It's the closest thing I've gotten to a toy in years.

The great thing about getting gifts from two families is that my parents are loving/spoiling enough to basically get me exactly what I want, and the other family often takes a swing at something totally random they think I'd like. So I get the best of both worlds.

Plus, with the house in need of decoration that expands on the frat-boy motif, I do often get random gifts from the parental types, too.

Some years, the random gift is a little odd, like the anatomically correct dachshund candle holder. Yeah, a black metal weiner dog with a weewee and balls. Other years, the random gift rocks, like the giant lion sculpture that looked weird as hell when I opened it but looks absolutely excellent on my fireplace surround.

The best gifts I've gotten, I've gotten from my folks, including all those "Star Wars" toys and some seriously huge GI Joe stuff - like the space shuttle, one of the best-ever inspirations for my childhood scenarios, right up there with the Death Star.

But the best random gifts I've gotten are often from the other family (whose name is being omitted to protect the innocent from my ramblings).

The prize-winner there is probably the Colecovision. Back when my parents kept me technologically deprived. I finally had a video-game system - and an even better one than my friends' Ataris. All was happyjoy that year (1983, I think) until I was reading the instruction manual on the way home, and came across the dreaded sentence:

Color television required.

My parents - who in their retirement are engaged in a my-Mac-is-better-than-yours competition that would make Steve Jobs blush - were someone ambivalent toward technology back then. (This year, Dad got Mom an XM radio. I don't have an XM radio, for crying out loud.)

That made me the last kid in the world whose parents didn't have a color TV.

I cried all the way home.

My father still cheerfully calls it the only gift someone else gave me that cost HIM money.

But I'll tell you what, talk about "they don't make 'em like they used to"! That color TV, bought within days of our return, probably to stop my wailing, lasted nearly 20 years. The buttons started going in the late '90s and they replaced the TV a couple of years back. I'm not kidding. 20 freakin' years.

The Colecovision, I might point out, still works, too. Or at least it did the last time I fired it up, a couple of years ago.

And the GI Joe space shuttle and Death Star are still in the basement. And I still get the nice warm comforter on my cot when I go home at Thanksgiving.

(Yes, I said cot. They sold my bed while I was in college. Now I sleep in the guest room like everyone else, except at Thanksgiving, where seniority, in the form of the other parents, get the guest bed.

Aside, know how a college senior knows he better get a job? When his parents knock out the back wall of his bedroom and turn it into the sitting room for the master bedroom suite they're having built onto the house. That means "you ain't moving back here." Kind of like when they went on a cruise the day after dropping me off at college. I told them, you're lucky I wasn't the kid who quit before the end of orientation week. They said, no, you're lucky. We were in Sweden and the front door was double-locked.)

So in my 30 years on Earth, I've spent one Christmas at home. That year, my mother was sick and I guess she couldn't travel and Uncle Leo (who had polio and didn't travel far) had passed, so we switched Christmas to the folks'.

It was still exciting, waking up at home on Christmas morning (late in the morning, knowing me). Not that the family tradition isn't a highlight of the year - but I guess there is something magical about being at home on that day, and hustling (limping) downstairs to see what's under the tree or next to the fireplace (or piled up near the coffee table, having been opened the night before. point is...). And I'd never really had that experience. And I guess I'm just childlike enough to still get a kick out of it.

Well, I paused for a couple of minutes to bop the speed bag. Now it's time to snuggle up under the comforter with my insomnia and stuffed monkey. Between that, the biography of Richard S. Ewell I got, the Adam Sandler "Chanukah Song" I downloaded for the iPod I bought myself with my year-end bonus, and the praise the gifts I gave won...

(Aside, my personal favorites: the pearl earrings for Mom, the "Leave it to Beaver" lunchbox DVD set for Dad - one of my fond childhood memories is of my father coming home from campus for lunch and eating in in front of the (black-and-white) kitchen TV while watching "Leave it to Beaver" - and a couple of good and random books people really seemed to like.) was a good Christmas.



The Christmas/Hanukkah debate
The Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble
Restoration Hardware, sellers of the desktop speed bag
The Company Store, comforters and beyond
"Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier's Life," so far an excellent book about an underrated, quirky, bald, slighly inbred Confederate general
"Leave it to Beaver" - you're inferring more than you should

And if that weren't enough fun for one week, not only did I finally buy the "Star Blazers" set I've been coveting, and on sale, no less - thanks, bonus! - I got my free key-making machine for my locksmith course. Rockin'! Now all I need to do is figure out what I can mount it to. I think I'll order the portable board. It's that, or screw the thing to my kitchen table. Nine more lessons 'til I finish the basic course! Yay!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Long, short or shorter

I got my hair cut today. Sadly, my stylist lady is quitting. Sniffle. A good stylist is hard to find when you have Asian hair.

Well, there was that one place where the Vietnamese lady cut my Vietnamese hair. That was good.

I needed a haircut. I was having a bad hair day. Week. Life.

See, as you know, I'm Asian.

And Asian hair isn't like white people hair. Or black people hair for that matter.

Asian hair basically has three styles. Long, short or shorter.

It's black, it's straight. It's stiff and it's oily. (That doesn't sound like I'm talking about my hair. More like... well, nevermind.)

Anyway, I've lived most of my life surrounded by white people and therefore surrounded by white people hair.

And I'm jealous.

Most of my childhood, I had that Asian bowl cut all small Asian children have once they grow hair. (When I was a baby, I had a little bit of hair on top of my head that stuck straight up. After that, bowl cut.)

So in junior high school, at some point, my Mom let me get my hair cut more or less like my friends, or as close an approximation thereof as her stylist - a very good, wonderfuly but star-crossed woman - could do.

Basically, I wound up with the closest thing to an Asian mullet possible. At least it wasn't feathered. I don't think you CAN feather Asian hair.

A mullet is basically short in front and on the top and long in the back. You know what this looks like on rednecks and hockey players. Well, it doesn't look the same on Asians.

But that's about what I had. Short on top - now, after much combing and gelling, parted down the middle - and long in the back. Hey, it was the '80s.

That's pretty much what I wore through high school. At some points the back (the long part) was down over my collar.

The day before I graduated, I cut the back and buzzed the sides. I put my graduation cap on when I arrived at practice that day and my friends thought I'd shaved my head because all they could see was the buzzed sides and back.

But I had hair on top, parted and slicked.

And that's how I arrived at college. Where I kept buzzing the back and sides, but grew the top increasingly longer. At one point, I could tie it up in this little samurai-looking topknot, like one of my fraternity brothers.

And that's pretty much how it stayed for years. One summer, I got the whole thing buzzed. When I grew it back out for the fall, I spent about three months looking like a small porcupine had taken up residence on my head - hair straight, stiff and sticking straight up.

Anyway, I kept up this sort of pseudo-skater-cut of varying lengths all through the rest of the '90s - gel and all.

A couple of years ago, when I turned 29, I decided to spend my last year of my 20s living it up - so among other things, I did something I've always wanted to do - I got my hair colored.

I had my stylist - Sharon, the one who's leaving - cut it short on top (as well as buzzing it all around the back and sides like usual) and spike it up, then bleach/color it blond. (blonde = female; blond = male.)

I thought it would be funny.

Everyone at the office loved it. Especially the women.

(One of my co-workers called me "Spike," after some character on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." I still haven't watched my Big Box o' Buffy yet, so I still have no idea who she means.)

So the haircut stayed. I even experimented with color. One month I tried red and blond. One month (at the recommendation of one of the office hotties) blue. But mostly I've stuck with a blond, spiky buzz cut.

But I think I'm going to stop the blond, and only a year late (I was going to stop the craziness when I turned 30, that was sort of the point, but I liked the hair... well, the ladies liked it).

It's just too short to justify the expense. I don't get much blond, and the coloring costs three times the regular cut. Plus I'm not sure I'm prepared to get colored without Sharon, even though the other stylists at the place are good (I've used some in the past).

Ah, the curse of Asian hair. And just when I got comfortable, too.

Asian hair: "Thick, black and perfectly straight"
Asian hairstyles - as with clothes, the women get all the cool stuff
How hair coloring works
Spike, fanlisting-style

Watch for a post about my holidays coming up. I'm just not prepared to do it now. Happy Hanukkah to my fellow members of the Tribe. After all, Christmas is over, but we've got six crazy nights left!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The most wonderful (monkey) time of the year

Can I just interrupt today's religion-themed post to point out the patron saint of smart mouths has put up two of the awesomest holiday monkey pictures ever?

• The Hanukkah monkey - complete with prehensile tail and dreidel!
• The sock monkey Nativity scene - complete with baby-monkey-Jesus!

So go there and check 'em out!

And notice my new sidebar referring you to blogs that make me laugh, including hers.

Have your science and eat it, too

I've been following with a mixture of interest and horror - depending on the day - the news about a trial in Pennsylvania over intelligent design in schools.

It's the one where the religious people on the school board in Dover mandated the teaching, the voters of the district voted them all out of office, and then the district wound up in court while the new board tried to figure things out.

So the other day, a judge ruled that indeed, this was a violation of separation of church and state - and the religious people called him an activist judge, just as he anticipated, even though he is a church-going Bush appointee.

Pondering all this, I've come up with a conclusion and placed it before the ruling council of the Church of the Holy (in Memoriam, for Eternity) Dachshund.

(The Church of the (Late, and Lamented) Holy Dachshund is, of course, my effort to get a tax break as a religious organization. Donations can be sent via Paypal to the e-mail affiliated with this site. This is, of course, the unofficial-but-endorsed church bulletin.)

Back on topic, here's a way I think the fundies and the fishies can have their science and eat it, too:

Why don't we just agree that people evolved from monkeys, which God created in His image?

After all, who but a higher power could have designed the prehensile tail, perhaps the ultimate in appendage, or at least a close second among male members of the species? And how but evolution could mere mortals hope to explain the opposable thumb, which most monkeys regrettably lack but we have?

And on this blog, at least, the divine nature of the munkee remains unquestioned.


God, a munkee, makes monkeys in his image.
Monkeys evolve into humans.
Humans visit zoos to see monkeys because they are the image of God.

And everyone is happy!

Or at least, we at the Church of the (Enshrined in Pennsylvania) Holy Dachshund are. I think we may adopt this as our formal stance on creation vs. evolution at the next Holy Dee. (Like the Holy See, but D is for Dachshund.)

Sometimes, I'm a common-sense conservative. Sometimes, I'm a hedonistic liberal. But mostly, I just want to be a silly little happymunkee. Take that, you crazy Intelligent Design people!

The Scopes monkey trial
The Dover Area School District
The latest on Dover, via CNN

If I don't post at y'all before then, have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever it is y'all celebrate (Kwanzaa, Festivus, etc.).

And in case I don't get to it before then... have a Happy New Year, too!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Another random blog referral

Some of you may have noticed Lesley posting witty comments here.

If you haven't wandered over to her blog, you should.

Patron Saint of Smart Mouths

For people like me. With smart mouths. You know you're one, too, or you wouldn't be reading this blog.

Yes, yes I do

I think I have a new candidate for most ridiculous ad line of the week (see earlier post).

"Do you want incredible entertainment experiences... in your lap?"

That's the new laptop commercial from Intel.

Brings a whole new meaning to "Intel inside," doesn't it?

Intel, apparently lacking some QC in the ad department
Maybe this is what they meant

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I don't know what this says about me...

I think my latest dented rim, which I've been driving around on for months, has finally given up the ghost.

So I've got a flat tire and I might be out yet ANOTHER couple hundred dollars. (Still waiting on that class-action settlement, but claim submission is over.)

You know what, I really don't care. Debt is something my estate will have to deal with when I'm dead. As long as the housing bubble doesn't burst, I'm still in the black, overall.

But we had two potlucks at the office today and on the way back to my desk from the dinner one, picking up some page proofs, I almost ran into a wall, and nearly dropped my full plate (everything from ham - and nothing says Happy Hanukkah! like a good slice of ham - to cannoli).

I think if I'd done that I would've just sat down on the floor and cried.

Debt, during Christmas season, pah! Who cares?

But losing free food? Tragic.

I don't know what that says about me, but it might explain my waistline. I'd like to think it reinforces my belief that I enjoy the smaller things in life. Like chicken wings and pulled pork in the same meal.

Potluck, Wikipedia style - yes, I still believe in them
"Hot Shots!" and its jokes about chafing dishes

As for a more serious tragedy, when I was poking around on earlier today, I saw ex-Raider Darrell Russell died in a high-speed car crash today. That's a jaw-dropper. A tragic end to a tragic life that was once full of hope and potential.

The Raiders are one of those teams that's been jinxed with many (relatively) young men dying before their time. Another name for the list that includes Stacey Toran (drunken driving), Tim Hall (drive-by shooting), John Matuszak (hard living), Lyle Alzado (cancer and/or steroids), Mike Wise (suicide), Dave Waymer (heart attack), Eric Turner (cancer), Dave Dalby (car crash and/or suicide) and more. Barret Robbins didn't die, but he has certainly suffered many life tragedies in recent years, too. Very sad. Tragedy, and perhaps foolishness, know no bounds of fame, fortune or otherwise.

Political stances... today, anyway

I'm bored and I can't think of anything to write. I'm done with work and I was reading a couple of Web sites that deal with politics, and I thought it might be fun to list where I stand on a variety of interesting issues.

Pretty lame post, but on the other hand, it might be exciting. And who knows, maybe 20 years from now, pundits will be poring over it to try and decided if I'm qualified to be a Supreme Court justice, or if I'll just be an activist*.

* = "activist" being defined as somebody who doesn't rule the way you want.

Keep in mind, not only am I a wee bit crazy, I'm moody. As a result, I reserve the right to change any position at any time. Kind of like when I'm on the chaise watching the big screen at home.

Are you ready, fundies? Buckle your seat belts and place your Bibles in their locked, upright positions.

Here are some stances, chosen at random. Standard disclaimer: These are just my opinions, here for your amusement and entertainment value. I speak for no one but myself. And I'm only doing that for fun.

1. Abortion - This is the biggie, I suppose, since everyone's making a fuss about Roe v. Wade ("George Bush says, 'Who cares how people got out of New Orleans, just so they got out.'"). I'm pro-choice. That doesn't make me pro-abortion. I'm just not one to tell people what they can and cannot do with their bodies. It's none of my business. Until you've walked in someone's shoes, you can't judge them. (Who was who said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?" It probably wasn't somebody outside an abortion clinic. But it might have been somebody in whose name those jerks are throwing stones.) And hey, maybe you do go to hell for having an abortion. You probably do. But that's part of the choice, now isn't it?

2. Death penalty - That whole Stanley "Tookie" Williams thing was big in the news the other day. I'm in favor of the death penalty, too. Unlike the crazy lefties who are pro-choice and anti-death penalty, or the crazy righties who are pro-life and pro-death penalty, at least I'm consistent. Kill 'em all, I say. I think you should be as sure as you possibly can be that the person is guilty, but some people don't deserve to live, and others are never going to be redeemed. I don't know Tookie, but I tend to side with the folks who claim he was a poseur and wasn't remorseful in the least. I'm tough on crime. What can I say?

3. The new wave of censorship - Fimly opposed. Hey, I write horror movies. Like I want the FCC to be telling me what I can and can't see. I'm an adult. I know what I like. You want irony? I went out for food at halftime of that Janet Jackson Super Bowl, because I didn't want to miss any of the game, and nothing ever happens with the stupid halftime show. Who wants to hear Justin Timberlake sing? My bad. This, by the way, is why I'm always torn about supporting Joe Lieberman - I mean, he's a fellow Jew, but his stance on the whole Hollywood thing is just such a turnoff.

4. The war in Iraq - Well, at least Bush finally admitted his "intelligence" was more like his intelligence. Poor. I support our troops, wholeheartedly, but I think we went to the wrong war in the wrong country for the wrong reasons. So we either ought to bring them home or fight this war to win. And I mean the war on terror, not the whole Iraq democracy thing. Good luck with that. I mean, let's go find Osama and string him up somewhere. Wasn't that kind of the post-9/11 point? Back when the world sympathized with us, instead of hating us? So let's kick some ass and get our bravest men and women home. Or at least to Afghanistan to find bin Laden, and then home.

5. Fur - Well, fur probably is murder, but what's the point of a mink if it's not to become a coat? I mean, it's not like you can buy a coat made out of a puppy or a munkee. Then I'd be against it. But frankly, I just don't care. Some animals are meant to be a) eaten; b) used for lab tests; or c) turned into coats. That's natural selection. Darwinism.

6. And speaking of Darwinism: Intelligent design - Evolution all the way. And I don't just mean the Lancer Evolution. I mean, let's be real. The bulk of good and decent science favors evolution and survival of the fittest. Intelligent design is just another way for people to show they aren't, and it wasn't, or they wouldn't be here. And I mean, come on, the duck-billed platypus? Whose freakin' image was that created in? Like God, in his Intelligence, was sitting around like this:

• "Aw, shit, Gabe, I've got this leftover bill, a tail from that... what was it?"
• "Beaver, my Lord."
• "Right, beaver tail. Bill. Webbed foot. What the Heaven can I make out of this? And an egg pouch."
• "Well, my Lord, perhaps a creature designed to move swiftly through water and confound those You created in Your image years from now, when they try to decide what's a 'mammal.'"
• "Mammal... those are the ones with the tits, right?"
• "Yes, my Lord. The live birth-milk thing."
• "I need a break. Is it Sunday yet? What's the point spread on the Raider game?"

(Wait for it...)

Ok, no lightning strike. I do have to admit, those little Jesus Fish eating the Darwin Lizards on the backs of cars are kind of funny.

7. Israel and the Middle East - Obviously, as a Jew, I'm pro-Israel, and relatively hawkish (see the "if you're going to play, play to win" riff on the war in Iraq, above). But really, that crazy Iranian president has a point... not the one about the Holocaust "myth," but the one about giving Israel land somewhere else. I mean, what idiot thought putting the Jews right in the middle of all the people who hate them was a good idea? Why couldn't we give them the northern half of Florida? They were all going to end up there anyway? (I once turned down a job in Florida partly because it struck me that I'd be the first person in my family who wasn't moving to Florida to die.) And why not the whole state? Well, the southern half would be for the Cubans. What about Arizona? Or New Mexico? Does anybody really notice what happens in those states? I mean, they're hot, desert, full of ancient wonder (like the Grand Canyon). Give them to the Jews. Presto! Instant world peace!

8. Political correctness - Like you can't tell? Firmly opposed. I'm a proud member of the Politically Incorrect News Team, est. 1995. I really do hate radicals, on both sides, and the radical left has this thing about not offending anybody about anything. Whereas, I'll offend anyone if it'll get a laugh. I once worked in college with a girl who was - literally - African-American. She was very into her African heritage (she eventually went to Ghana, I think), and she once asked me if I had studied my Vietnamese heritage. I thought about it for a second and then said, "Sure. I've seen 'Platoon,' 'Hamburger Hill' AND 'Full Metal Jacket.'" Never seen a black person turn white before. But she was that horrified. Hey, when you're a Vietnamese Jew, you're a walking menace to the PC police. Deal.

9. Gay marriage - I think at the least, there should be civil unions, or whatever they're called. If you sign a form that says you're life partners or whatever, you deserve the benefits. And really, this "sanctity of marriage" crap gets on my nerves. If I were in Congress, and I heard them talking about an amendment to ban gay marriage because of the "sanctity of marriage," I'd get up and say, OK, listen, anybody who's not divorced, never cheated on their wife, doesn't have an intern under their desk - you guys can vote for this "sanctity of marriage." The rest of you can drink a nice tall glass of Shut the Fuck Up. Well, I'd probably have to be a little more eloquent than that, but my God, that just bugs the hell out of me. These holier-than-thou people whose only good way of life is theirs. What happened to love thy neighbor, live and let live, let he who is without sin cast the first stone? (I know, I used that one already. Sorry. Same point, different subject.) Love has nothing to do with gender or sexual orientation. Why should some people in love deserve anything less than others? Because, as some wingnut once said, "God hates fags"? God hates assholes, too, I'll bet, and they're allowed to marry. Otherwise, Dick Cheney wouldn't have a lesbian daughter.

10. The "culture of life" - More right-wing crap. Jon Stewart said when George W. Bush was governor of Texas, he signed a bill that allowed hospitals to pull the plug on vegetables when their insurance ran out. This is the same guy who wants a Constitutional amendment or something to save one vegetable in Florida? Hypocrisy! I call "bullshit!" I'm in favor of dying with dignity. Not so sure about assisted suicide, but then, why not? I'm on record as telling people if I'm ever a vegetable, they can pull the plug. Just make sure I'm not going to wake up and recover first, eh? Life is not as sacred as fundamental human decency. Not one life, anyway. Certainly not the shell of a life. Anyway, ten's a good round number, so this is it for now. End of rant.

11. Gun control/hunting - Screw it, this one goes to 11! I thought of another fun hot-button topic. They just finished Big Bear Hunt #2 in New Jersey. And I'm cool with that. I believe in gun safety education. I believe people should be allowed to have handguns and hunting rifles - with licenses and waiting periods and education. I'm opposed to automatic weapons. Face it, if you want to hunt, you know when hunting season is. Buy your gun seven days ahead of time. And if you've been convicted of a felony, you don't get a gun. You don't get to vote, either, so deal with it. As for automatic weapons, well, heck, if you need an AK-47 to shoot Bambi's mother, you're not a real hunter. I could shoot a deer with an AK-47. And hey, regular people shouldn't have bigger guns than the COPS. That's how criminals kill police officers. That's BAD. And any self-respecting, law-abiding gun owner should be able to follow the rules and not have to worry or feel like he's missing out on something. Learn to use it so you don't accidentally shoot your kids. Wait a week, it might keep some other idiot from shooting his wife on impulse and ruining it for everyone else. Go hunting, and keep the goddamn bears off the goddamn Interstate. Yes, I saw a freakin' bear on I-78 once. To me, that means there's too many of them. Now... end of rant!

There you have it. Some random samplings of my political thoughts, for posterity. Discuss amongst yourselves. Or post a comment if you want to hear more, or want a particular answer.

And remember, especially if you're one of my superiors at work, I'm just screwin' around here, having some fun, and establishing a track record for when they pass the Schwarzenegger Amendment and I can run for President. That's one Constitutional amendment I could get behind. Ace in 2012!

(Notice how, after a year and change of the Governator, no one talks about Arnie for President anymore? Or "Terminator 4," for that matter.)

• No links today. This post is all about me!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Munkee happenstance

My latest food network addiction is the show "Challenge," which is on Sunday nights and features cooking competitions.

I used to be an "Iron Chef" addict, but eventually I got tired of it... it lost its place in my heart to "Trading Spaces."

But anyway, now I watch "Challenge," which features everything from barbecue contests to cake-making and -decorating.

So on the holiday cake challenge, which repeated this Sunday night, there was a competitor named Elisa Strauss, out of New York City.

I recognized her, not just because her name is Strauss (same as mine), but because she had been a competitor before, in the birthday cake challenge - when she made a cake that was...

A sock monkey!

See, I'm not the only Strauss who thinks monkeys are cool.

But she didn't even place at the birthday cake challenge. I was disappointed. And so was Mookie, my stuffed munkee, who often watches TV with me.


She did win the bronze at the holiday cake challenge! I was very happy for her, and for another competitor, Michelle Bommarito, who just imploded at the wedding cake challenge, but won the silver at the holiday cake contest with an absolutely gorgeous cake.

Anyway, I thought I'd share this as cool random monkey happenstance of the day.

Food Network's "Challenge"
"Iron Chef," the Japanese version: "Allez cuisine!"
Elisa Strauss of Confetti Cakes, NYC
See the sock monkey cake here! Yay!
Michelle Bommarito, of Detroit

By the way, the other day, I was at the Short Hills mall, and apparently Food Network star Rachael Ray was there signing her cookbooks. I didn't even know she could cook, since the only show I'd ever seen her on was "$40 a Day," where she eats at restaurants and stuff. But apparently, she's superpopular. My parents and some friends said she's like A-list Food TV. And at the mall, there was a huge, HUGE line. And I was at the mall for like three hours and when I left the line was just as long as when I first saw it. Yeesh. Anyway, coincidentally, I caught one of her other shows the other day, and she really is hyper - and kind of annoying. She calls extra virgin olive oil E-V-O-O. Girl has had way too much caffeine. Cute, perky, talks with her hands, can cook a whole holiday dinner in an hour. Hell if I know.

R-R-R-L (that's Random Rachael Ray Links):
Rachael Ray
A defense of Rachael Ray, who apparently needs it...
...perhaps from this
Every Day With Rachael Ray, a magazine that rhymes

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The boy inside the man

I read this essay in my local paper - no, I can't vouch for how long the link is up - and it really struck a nerve.

It's about a man who reads a fantasy story to his little girl and then worries that her "real world" won't be nearly as impressive as her fantasy one.

My psychologist told me once that I understand the difference between fantasy and reality - which makes me sane - but that I prefer fantasy.

And I suppose it's true.

I mean, I'm an adult. And if I wasn't bar mitzvah'ed into becoming a man, I suppose I became a man a few years later, with some bad sex in a dark basement. I have a job, a house, a car. And believe me, if you're an adult, you know it every time you open the mailbox to face another bill.

Can you see why this world is drudgery? I get up, I get dressed, I brush my teeth and take some pills, I drive to work. I work all night. I drive home. I eat something, watch TV, shower, and go to sleep. Repeat. Day after day. After day. After day.

And yet, I can see the wonders of the world - sometimes I have to really try, but I can. I can take a certain joy in little things, and not just an extra wing from Hooter's or whatever, but simple joys. Snow falling. A sunny day. A pretty girl. A fancy car. Getting something accomplished. Most recently, hand-cutting a key to open a pin tumbler lock. My thumb has finally stopped hurting, three days later, but damn it, the lock opened! Yay!

But I do wonder what is so wrong with at least appreciating fantasy. I think of stories every night when I lie in bed, I dream every night when I'm asleep. I can still stare at the dinosaur skeletons and dioramas at the Museum of Natural History with a child's wonder. I can still stand in the Lego store at the Bridgewater Mall and stare. And think about my checking account balance, depressingly.

I've been to enough movie cons that I've seen old "Star Wars" toys for sale at extravagant prices. And once, I found myself thinking about how much money I could have made if only I'd kept all my toys in the boxes ("Mint In Box").

What a lousy childhood I'd have had. Those toys were my world - those "Star Wars" toys and G.I. Joes became a universe of joy. Hours upon hours. I make a good hourly wage, and I don't think the price I'd get for those mint toys would fit the bill.

But the thing is, those are some of the happiest memories of my life. The day I plowed Darth Vader's star destroyer into the Death Star a la "Return of the Jedi"... well, somewhere there's probably a toy merchant weeping at the thought.

Screw him.

That was an epic adventure to end all epic adventures.

I don't want to give that up. I want to loose my imagination, not lose it. That's why I write, that's why I watch escapist movies and read escapist books.

Because my psychologist is right. I do prefer fantasy. There's nothing wrong with the real world, but it's limited. It's limited by so many practical things.

My mind is unlimited. I love that. I love to dream, even when I'm awake.

"Star Wars" toys
G.I. Joe toys
And a random essay on fantasy vs. reality that doesn't quite apply

This weekend, I go Christmas shopping. If I don't come back, call my folks.

Friday, December 09, 2005

I sent it where?

Considering I've only ever had two packages get lost in the mail (knock on wood), one coming and one going, I've had pretty good luck with the Postal Service.

At least, with stuff I would blame them for.

On the other hand, I don't always have the best luck with mail when it ISN'T the fault of those fine, heavily armed men and women in blue.

Today, I'm wearing a sweater/sweatshirt thing my parents brought me back from Alaska, cheerfully emblazoned "AK - Alaska."

It's probably their way of reminding me of my postal misadventures.

When I was a college senior, I was applying for jobs in journalism just about everywhere.

I got one offer. About three weeks before graduation. And seeing as how I was supposed to get married back then, I took it immediately.

"Don't you want to know what it pays?" the Easton Express-Times' news editor asked.

"No. That's OK. I'll take it."

"Are you sure."

"Well, why don't you tell me."

He told me. It wasn't much.

"OK," I said, "I'll take it."

"You don't want to think about it at all?"

"Well, OK, let me think about for a couple of days, then I'll call you back and say yes."

I hope this gives you some idea how desperate I was... a would-be sportswriter winding up on a news copy desk.

Anyway, I'd sent out another resume, earlier in the process, to a place whose ad for a sports-desk-of-one described it as "Ketchikan, AK."

How bad could it be to work in Arkansas, I figured. Yeah, it's the Deep South, but hey, a job's a job.

About three days after I put it in the mail, it dawned on me that "AK" isn't the postal code for Arkansas.

Michelle was aghast. "You applied WHERE?"

My father gleefully informed me Ketchikan, Alaska, gets more rain than Seattle, depends on the fish cannery for its industry and is on an island you have to get to by boat.

And wouldn't you know it, they called. Gave me a phone interview and everything.

I suspect one reason I didn't get the job was I wouldn't commit to three years there, which they were asking candidates to do. I offered two and a half years, the amount of time until Michelle was supposed to graduate from college.

They posted the ad again in six months. Guess whoever they hired didn't like the rain. Or thought they were headed to Arkansas.

The United States Postal Service
The Express-Times, which hired me
Visit Ketchikan, AK. Bring an umbrella
Arkansas, which, like Stewie, goes by "AR"

For the curious, the two packages I lost were a bunch of used DVDs I mailed to a reseller, which cost me about $125, and a cookbook my parents mailed to me, which had more sentimental value than monetary value and was easily and cheaply replaced via eBay.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Let it snow, yes or no?

So it finally snowed in New Jersey over the weekend, and it's apparently going to snow again tonight - which should make my drive home a living hell, as usual.

I have mixed feelings about snow.

On one hand, it's a royal pain in the ass to drive in. I paid extra for a FF car (that's front engine, front wheel drive, for you non-"Gran Turismo"-players) with antilock breaks and traction control in part because I was tired after years of sliding all over the road in my FR mini-Mustang.

But even that FF doesn't mean much in Jersey weather. It mostly means I can actually GET home, just slowly and at the cost of added white in my hair (and I don't mean snow or dandruff) and an increase in my blood pressure, which is otherwise doing quite nicely, thank you.

On the other hand, I don't mind the cold, and I don't mind being snowed on. I kind of enjoy it, if it's nice, fluffy snow or light flurries, and not that heavy, crappy kind.

And some of my fondest memories involve the snow in some way.

The first time I ever appeared in a newspaper wasn't a byline, in fact, it was a picture of me as a little tyke, crashing off my sled (one of those big red saucer-discs) on the hill across the street from my house. The one my mother always worried I'd go spinning off into the road.

I should say I only did once. And of course, it was right into the path of a car. Which, fortunately, was going slow enough to easily avoid a small bundled-up Asian and his out-of-control saucer.

My mother probably still has that newspaper clipping somewhere. (Hey, I was a cute little kid. No, I don't know what happened. Puberty, I suppose, which ruined my complexion, and Domino's, which went on the college meal plan and ruined my waistline.)

Then there was the freshman-year weekend, years later, with Michelle at college, the one and only time in my life I've ever REALLY been snowed in somewhere. That was when I learned that the warmth of holding someone you love close to you is the single best feeling in the world. Yes, better than being drunk. Better than sex. Better than victory. No matter what parts of our relationship can and should fade, I can still feel the warmth of her body curled up against mine, the smoothness of her skin. Curled up on some cheap-ass dorm bunk, watching the snow fall through this tiny little window, just in love and never wanting to let go.

Another snow day in college was a Sunday during my freshman year. I worked at the school paper, a weekly, and we did our production on Sunday. One of the deals we had was with Papa John's, which brought us pizza in exchange for ad space. A great deal, except the weekend they brought 10 Hawaiian pizzas (ham and pineapple, if you've never tried it, and I recommend you never do). Ick.

But anyway, that weekend, Papa John's wasn't delivering. I don't blame them. There was probably a foot of snow on the ground - remember, in Pittsburgh, it's always raining. Lower the temperature, and presto!

So Chris Restifo and I drew the task of wading to the only place that was open, the Subway on Craig Street, about a half-mile away. A breeze in the spring. Not so much in the summer. Chris had quit the fraternity I had joined, years earlier, so I didn't know him well, and most of what I knew I'd heard third-hand, in a negative way. But I liked him, and we really had a sort of bonding experience on the trip. Was nice to get to know someone and be pleasantly surprised. And Lord, whomping through that snow may be as close to polar exploration as I ever get. Though I hope not.

And that makes me think we could've used some dog sleds, but that's not the point.

Speaking of dogs, this brings me to one more fond snow memory, and it's a Morgan one.

Morgan, as I've mentioned, was a dachshund, and therefore what I'll charitably call low-slung. And he hated hated hated (to quote another low-slung kind of critter, Roger Ebert) to get his tummy wet.

So walking him in the snow or rain was an adventure. He never got very far and was eager to run for home. He could dodge puddles, and mostly stay out of wet grass, but in any snow more than about an inch and a half deep, he was in trouble.

So he'd hop. Like a bunny, with his back arched and tummy sucked in, back paws to front paws to back and so on, trying desperately and futily to stay dry.

(Is futily a word? I don't know and I don't edit on this blog. Futile-ly.)

And he actually would look miserable the whole while. Very expressive dog.

I still love to watch the snow fall. And I get a kick out of watching the guys who plow the driveways in my complex run their little Bobcat around, popping it in circles and stuff. Hey, I pay for that, and it keeps going up, so I'm entitled to watch and laugh. It so looks like a toy.

Well, I'll think happy thoughts about snow now. I'll be swearing at it in a few hours as I literally sweat my drive home, no matter the temperature.

All About Snow
Front-wheel drive vs. rear-wheel drive
Why RWD beats FWD, an opinion piece
Domino's Pizza
Papa John's Pizza
Carnegie Mellon...
... and its newspaper
What Roger Ebert hates
And something I hate

And yeah, I'm a cold-weather person. I'm surrounded by co-workers who are always cold, and I'm always hot. Hey, if you're cold, you can add layers. If you're hot, there's only so much you can take off, unless you're on a beach in France or at a nudist colony.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

In one of life's questionable ironies - questionable in terms of itself, and whether in fact it's ironic at all - I find myself cleaning up both before and after my cleaning ladies visit.

Yes, I pay someone to clean my house.

Two reasons: 1. I don't clean bathrooms. Ick. 2. I think cleaning is a job best handled by professionals, in terms of hygiene, actual cleaning, etc.

OK, three reasons: 3. Laziness.

In my (weak) defense, I do actually enjoy doing many household chores, including vacuuming. I just don't have the time, energy or real desire. Plus, like I said, there's something vaguely comforting about the thought that professionals are cleaning the house.

But that's not the point. The point is, I clean. Right before they arrive, and right after they leave. Which strikes me as odd.

Why before? Well, I am this sort of schizophrenic/bipolar slob/OCD person. Half my house has everything EXACTLY - and I mean EXACTLY - where I want it, and the other half is a raging mess.

So I clean up the messy part. Two reasons: 1. It's kind of embarrassing. Bad enough strangers see the bathroom - which is not disgusting or anything, but hardly a model of sparkly clean. But I don't need to be reminded of the pile of dishes in the sink, the empty cans/bottles on the counter instead of the recycling bin, etc. 2. I do this sort of sweep-and-clean mission about once a week anyway. No time like the present.

Why after? Well, that's the half for the OCD person, rather than the slob. Like I said, for some reason, I want some things right where they should be.

Part of me suspects it's because I'm generally depressingly disorganized, so I keep some stuff just so, so I can find it.

But I'm like this with everything. My day planner is a wild mass of lines, stuff scratched out, arrows, etc. On the other hand, I have a day planner I write so much crap in, I need lines, arrows and scratches to fit it all.

At work, when I book the section (lay it out), I've got a ton of papers scattered all over my desk. On the other hand, that's how I can tell what stories are in, what stories I need and what goes where.

I have three bookshelves' worth of books crammed full of paperbacks, hardbacks, trades, borrowed, owned (maybe even stolen?) in one room. And my LE hardbacks displayed lovingly between my monkey bookshelves on the coffee table. Big monkey sit. Little monkeys puuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuullllllll!

Mind you, I also have one bookshelf full of Civil War books organized by subject, chronologically. See what I'm getting at?

Back a little closer to point, when the cleaning ladies leave (no, I don't really know their names. I know, that's terrible. But they're here once a month, very early in the morning, and they don't speak English very well and I don't speak Spanish, and I know that's not really an excuse, but the point is, we don't talk much other than "hi!" and "bye!" and "thanks!" and I'm sure they've told me and I've just forgotten - it used to be a different group every month, which didn't help, but these two have been my regular crew for a while now. I don't know if they know my name, either, except that it's probably on the appointment book, and on my check)... well, that really roamed far afield from cleaning into guilt.

When they leave, I clean. Because they move stuff around. I mean, they have to, it's not like it's their fault. But it's not quite where I want it, and sometimes it's not even close to where it was before they cleaned. It's not like I want my toothbrush exactly six centimeters from the sink in the master bathroom. But it would help if it's actually somewhere in the vague vicinity of the sink, since that's where I brush my teeth. Or you know, if they knock a piece off one of my various decorative toys, I put it back, so I don't lose it or it doesn't get vaccuumed next month.

On the other hand, I really have no excuse for why I move all the picture frames around and stuff after they go. I think it's just part of my chemical imbalance or something. Not that chemical imbalance, the other one.

Well, off to straighten up downstairs. And then, nap time. Did I mention they get here WAY too early in the morning?

"Is Cleanliness Next to Godliness?," an article from
Maid For You, Bridgewater, N.J.

I've sat here for six minutes trying to think of something witty to write here. But I just keep yawning. Sorry.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Well, maybe not for the turkeys

Just wanted to tell all my wonderful readers that I hope it will be a Happy Thanksgiving for you!

Stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. And dinner should be great - my Mom is making... reservations!

Of course, that means I'll have to dress up. Sigh.

And it's snowing. Right before my 200-mile drive. Double sigh.

I was thinking of driving home tonight, to beat the weather, rather than tomorrow early afternoon after the weather. But it's apparently already snowing. So it looks like I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't.

This just isn't my week.

Still, I have a lot to be thankful for. Not the least of which is the parental types. So the least I can do is survive the drive home to see them. I hope they'll still be thankful for me when I leave.

So enjoy the stuffing, and really - take a minute or two to think of everything you have to be thankful for. I know things aren't always easy in this game of Life, and anything wrong can really feel like it's important, now matter how trivial you "know" it really is. (Believe me, after this week...)

But I'm thankful for lots of things.

• My life, even if it's not perfect. It's good enough to get me by, and then some.
• My family, without whom I'd have nothing and be nothing.
• My friends, without whom I'd be either more or less crazy, depending. I'm not going to name names, because I'll leave somebody out.
• My little almost-kinda-nephew, Ben, and his sisters, Charlotte and Ellie. For either making me want children more, or less, depending. And just for being them.
• My job, which challenges me even as it wears me down. And pays well. And lets me hang around with some pretty fine people.
• My house, which is slowly but surely becoming a home.
• The men and women who worked on the Babylift and served in Vietnam. I'm here, aren't I? I didn't swim.
• The recycling people, who let me put out my cardboard without cutting it up, just this once. (It's not just the big things, people!)
• My dreams, which keep me going. My imagination, which starts me on the journey. My intelligence, which lets me overthink the journey the entire way. Well, maybe not that last one. But in any event, my gifts from God.
• The everyday heroes, who keep me safe and inspire me. Policemen, soldiers, firefighters, doctors, nurses and, Friday, the department-store clerks.
• The new Atlanta aquarium. And aquariums everywhere. Except the sucky ones.
• The Internet, for helping me meet awesome people, and get dates with girls.
• The Oakland Raiders. 'Nuff said.
• Joe Ripple and Don Dohler, the men behind Timewarp Films, for giving me the experience of a lifetime working with them on "Dead Hunt."
• Morgan Jay Dog. This man's best friend, in many ways. Most of them involving licking my face. I miss my puppy.
• Movies and DVDs, which rock. And books, which rock even harder.
• The NHL, which is back and better than ever. Plus my Strat-o-matic hockey game (both versions).
• My car. Even if it's still costing me money. She's my girl, and temperamental and bitchy like all the other ones I've loved.
• Music... and iTunes, since I still haven't figured out how to afford my iPod. But I *am* thankful I can pay my bills! And almost on time. Sometimes.
• The little things. Because they're what make my day. Especially if they're free, or toys. Like the cartoon book I found at work the other day. It made me smile.
• Munkees. And bunnies. And bunnymunkees.
• And of course, paid vacation days. I'm off 'til Tuesday! (Who might sum this post up best: "Coming up close, everything sounds like 'Welcome home.'")

There's probably lots and lots more, but I've got a long drive ahead of me. You get the idea, I hope. Now, smile and pass the turkey legs!

So, in conclusion (the two lamest transitions ever, for the price of one!)...

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful you're reading this. Be safe, and happy, and healthy, y'all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Random referral

In the interests of time, and to spare you from continued bitching (today, car repairs!) and lamenting about putting out my Massive Mountain o' Recycling instead of watching my Big Box o' Buffy tonight, I'll just post a random link to a random blog I found on Freak's links list.

Boobs, injuries and Dr Pepper

Why this one? Well, I clicked on it because it sounded funny, boobs being something I like, injuries being something I'm too familiar with and Dr Pepper either being a sickly-sweet soda or a sickly-sweet mixed (?!) drink that I've drank either way.

(recipe for Dr Pepper, the drink, near as I could tell back in '00: drive to Canada with underage-in-U.S. girl. get hotel room across street from bar. go to bar. order a beer, then drink half. take remaining half-glass of beer, drop a shotglass full of amaretto in. chug. watch out for the shotglass hitting your teeth. repeat often. then try to walk home across much-busier-than-though street. sleep. drive home.)

So with this blog, when I see posts with titles like "Hockey and A New Way To Tell Someone That They're Retarded" I was hooked.

Lady's blog almost makes me wish I had kids - it would probably make this blog more entertaining, although this blog is probably a prime argument for why I SHOULDN'T have kids.

And any woman who'll discuss how and why she shaves in her blog deserves some kind of praise.

Meanwhile, time to prepare the severance package for my Cardboard Sherpas.

A guide to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the TV version
Dr Pepper, the soda

If I don't post by Thanksgiving, I probably won't until next week. Consider yourselves warned. I'm going home for the holiday, and to bury my dog.

I cried last night thinking about how if I went home early and slept in the guest bed it would be the first time I ever slept in that bed without him jumping on, licking my face, stepping on my head and eventually curling up next to me to sleep.

This is doing wonders for my depression. Not.

Monday, November 21, 2005

In case I haven't been cranky enough lately...

Allow me to spend a moment bitching about the lovely piece of shit, er, I mean, piece of hardware I like to think of as my iBook.

Earlier this week, I was trying to fix my fonts. I bought some new ones and was trying to remove some old ones. Yummy.

Instead of installing fonts, I wound up reinstalling my entire operating system. And downloading all the updates. That I'd already downloaded and installed.

Whatever I did, the computer wouldn't freakin' start. Literally it wouldn't run the finder. God bless Mac OS X for coming with a system restore disc. So all I really lost was time.

Eight freakin' hours. Midnight to 8 a.m. Then off to work on three hours' sleep. I almost fell asleep driving to work. I almost fell asleep at work. I almost fell asleep driving home.

If you were in the car next to me, I apologize for the dreadful, loud singing. Beats swerving into your lane, snoring.

Anyway, just when that crisis passes - and I get the fonts I want up and running (yay!) - tonight, my Entourage e-mail program bombs.

Totally. Not loading.

So I've been fucked by Apple AND Microsoft this week. I haven't gotten this much action in years.

This time, there were casualties.

I wound up reinstalling my entire Microsoft Office suite. Which wouldn't really matter much, in fact, would amount to only redoing my Word toolbars, which I customize like crazy, except...

I lost all of my saved e-mail.

Fortunately, I'm not one to keep every e-mail ever written to me. In fact, I delete about 90% of what I get after I read and/or reply, and that's not including the spam.

But I did lose my archive. And that's sad.

Not because most of my mail-order receipts were in there. I can get my order status online from places like Amazon.

Not because I lost a few shareware password codes from actually paying and registering. I'm sure I can track those down, too, if push comes to shove.

Not because I lost my goofy quotes for my sig files and had to type them back in.

But because I lost the notes and jokes from people I'd carefully saved, sometimes for years.

There were notes of congratulations, nice notes from my parents, some of my father's reminiscences. A lot of nice remarks from the cast and crew of "Dead Hunt," to me and in general. Those hurt.

But I have the memories - it's not like I didn't read them or cherish them. And it's not like I've never lost anything before.

Just one more frustration in a frustrating week. Another bad end to a good weekend.

Since Morgan died, I've been kind of sad to begin with, so maybe I'm taking this a little harder than I should.

And of course I know this is a teeny-tiny problem compared to so many other people's. But you know how it is - when something bad happens to YOU, no matter how small, you get frustrated or aggravated. And it's been an aggravating week.

I mean, this week's Thanksgiving, and I do have a lot to be thankful for.

It's just right now, I could use a hug. And a nap. And some ice cream.

Sigh. I guess it was just my turn to be Charlie Brown this week.

Links:; I sure got the worm in the Apple this week, didn't I?
Typography and design, which might explain my font addiction
Wayne Fontes, just because
Damn you, Entourage, you betrayer!
Timewarp Films - "Dead Hunt" is coming soon!
Lastly, Charlie Brown and his football

Why the good weekend, you ask? Well, Ed and I got a jump-start on our yearly tradition of spending an entire weekend learning and playing the latest "Smackdown" video game, this year dubbed "Smackdown vs. Raw 2006." We both happened to be free this weekend - our big weekend is scheduled for next month, so we got a lot done (the create-a-wrestler is tough), plus we watched a bunch of movies and ate some bad-for-us food.

Plus, the Raiders won! So at least some things are well in the world.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I couldn't make this up if I wanted to

So I saw this "Cute Animal Quiz" on Freakmagnet's blog (where she got it from somebody else) and I took the quiz.

I swear to you, I answered as honestly as my juvenile side would allow, and I had no idea of the possible results.

And this is what I got:

You Are A: Monkey!

monkeyMonkeys are intelligent and agile, well-adapted for jungle life as they swing happily from tree to tree. As a monkey, you are a social animal who eats a wide range of food, is quick to learn new things and loves to climb. A monkey's tiny primate features are irresistable, as is his gregarious personality!

You were almost a: Bear Cub or a Kitten
You are least like a: Chipmunk or a DucklingDiscover What Cute Animal You Are!

Yes, I'm still waiting for my stinking laundry to finish. Sigh. I'm going to bed. It'll just have to be wrinkled.

I should point out, based on statistics, "monkey" is the No. 1 most common result of the Cute Animal Quiz. One more reason munkees rule!

10 (dix) Questions

So I was watching a commercial for "Inside the Actors Studio," and it made me want to look up the 10 questions James Lipton, the host, asks at the end of each show.

It turns out, some Internet research uncovered, that these questions were originated by a French guy, Bernard Pivot, on his own show, "Bouillon de Culture."

(The classic "Three Kings" joke about Kuwaiti bullion: "No, not the little cubes you put in hot water to make soup.")

So here are the 10 questions, and my answers. Since I'll probably never find myself inside the Actors Studio, except maybe in the audience.

01. What is your favorite word?
Monkey. (Duh.)

02. What is your least favorite word?
The n-word. It can be so uncomfortable, and wrong.

03. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Creatively: Brilliance in art. Magnificence, uniqueness.
Spiritually: Love, I know it sounds odd, but that gives me faith.
Emotionally: Comfort, warmth, touch.

04. What turns you off?
Fat women in tight clothes. Haha. Really, ugliness, not just in the physical sense.

05. What is your favorite curse word?
Fuck, and all its uses and variations. How do they answer this one on TV? I haven't watched the show that much.

06. What sound or noise do you love?
Applause. The cheer of the crowd. Or maybe that soft noise the girl you love makes when she snuggles up against you in the dark. Is that a moan? A purr? A grunt?

07. What sound or noise do you hate?
Anything loud and unexpected.

08. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Actor. (That's probably one no one ever says on "Inside the Actors Studio.") Astronaut. Salvage diver. Locksmith. Hockey player. I've got a million of 'em. I'm not counting screenwriter. I think that counts as one I've done.

09. What profession would you not like to do?
Plumber. Nothing against them, but I'm not playing in other people's shit for a living.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Ideally, "Come on in, we've got ice cream!" But I'd take, "You did alright." I'm not sure I'm going to make it, though. I hope so.

Here's where I got the questions from
"Inside the Actors Studio"
James Lipton
Bernard Pivot

Feel free to list your own answers in the comments, or put 'em on your blog and let me know. We're stimulating thought today, while we wait for our laundry to dry. And yes, that's the royal "we."

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veterans, I salute you

Those of you who know me know how I feel about the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who serve our country.

Today, on Veterans Day, let's remember the sacrifices and strength of those who risk their lives to keep us free.

Particularly, for me, the sacrifices of our Vietnam veterans are at the forefront of my mind on a day like this.

And, too, those who are overseas now, fighting in the Middle East. Whether or not we agree with the war, the just and right thing to do is support our troops. Let's get the job done and get them home!

So, veterans, I salute you. God bless you, and thanks.

Veterans Day
America supports its veterans

And while we're remembering people, let's pause for a moment to think of Moustapha Akkad, the producer of the eight "Halloween" movies, who was killed in the recent terrorist bombings in Jordan, along with his daughter, Rima Akkad Monla. Rest in Peace, and thanks for the memories, Mr. Akkad. Those of you who know me know my love for horror movies, and this truly is a loss to the horror world. My sympathies to the Akkad family, and the families of all those lost in this tragedy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Down with the Lounge-ness

Today I heard one of the funniest albums I've gotten in ages, "Tuxicity" by Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine.

You may have heard some of his music if you've seen what they call the "f***ing huge" movie, "Dawn of the Dead" (the remake).

Lounge Against the Machine is a cover band - and they cover metal, rap and alterna-rock rearranged as lounge music.

No, I'm not kidding.

"Down With the Sickness," the song that played over the montage-of-boredom scene in DOTD, was originally done by Disturbed, and if you listened to their version (over the closing credits) you'd know exactly what I mean.

It's so ridiculous, it made me laugh hysterically all the way to work (I was playing the CD in the car).

Richard Cheese has about four more albums, and I'm tempted to buy them all. The only problem is, if you haven't heard the originals, the lounge versions aren't half as funny. But if you have...!

The Cheese stuff reminds me of the worst CD I've ever heard: Pat Boone's "In a Metal Mood" cover album. Very similar music, the difference is, Cheese is trying to be funny. Boone wasn't.

When I reviewed that Boone CD, I remember writing that when I played it out loud, Michelle burst out laughing and Morgan (RIP, puppy!) started whimpering.

We passed that Boone CD around the office for weeks, until somebody either lost it or (yikes!) took it home for keeps. It was just disgracefully bad, these big-band/lounge covers of metal songs like "Paradise City" and "Smoke on the Water."

But Cheese just has this tone about him that tells you from the get-go that he's being a goof, and his cheerful swearing or random riffing (when covering Britney Spears' "Crazy," he basically winds up pointing out she's hot and he'd do her) just add to the surrealism. I mean, a lounge version of "Baby Got Back"?

Strange how it's all how you take yourself, isn't it? A fine line between parody and just straight-up humiliation. It's no wonder Zack Snyder (director of DOTD) fought to use it.

Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine
"Dawn of the Dead," the 2004 version
Pat Boone's fall from grace into metal
An interview with Zack Snyder, which mentions the DOTD music

I can't think of any witty closer here. I miss my dog.

Election Day

Today was Election Day in New Jersey, home of one of the disgustingly-filthiest gubernatorial races I've ever seen.

I love Election Day. It was more of thrill when I was working newsside, at least professionally, but it's one of those days that I really enjoy as a citizen.

I know that sounds trite, but I feel like voting is one of the great responsibilities of a citizen of the United States - and having been naturalized, I've grown to appreciate that citizenship more than I think I would if it were a birthright.

And something I've noticed as I've gotten older and particularly now that I'm a homeowner is that I pay a lot more attention to the issues on a local level than I used to.

I'm a registered Democrat, and I often vote more-or-less party line. I'm a moderate liberal, what I think of as a blue-collar liberal, that is to say, very conservative on some issues, but generally liberal on most.

Thing is, I live in a blue state, but in a red county, as it were. For instance, Democrat Jon Corzine handily won the governorship tonight, despite recent polls that showed Republican Doug Forrester was closing the gap.

But my Assemblymen (state legislators) and Congressman are both Republicans who have won easily the past couple of times out.

And I find myself feeling very parochial at the ballot booth sometimes.

For instance, in two elections I've supported one of the GOP Assemblymen in a couple of elections now, because he's from Hillsborough, the township where I live, and I feel like he keeps the best interests of the township in mind.

On the other hand, there was a very divisive issue regarding the township governance this year, and I'm curious to see how it turned out - the Democrats championed the change, while the GOP was in favor of the status quo, or at least opposed to the change.

I also found I have very different feelings about politics and politicians from a national and local standpoint. For instance, I voted for Corzine when he ran for U.S. Senate a few years back; but I didn't vote for him for governor today.

I agree with many of his political positions, but I didn't feel like he was someone who could relate to the average state resident, such as myself.

(Disclaimer: This is just me talking, not my employer, etc., don't fire me!)

The point isn't really who I support, but my fascination with how I've evolved as a voter. It pleases me that I give the issues some thought and try to read up on the candidates, etc. (I voted for one candidate because he is gay, and I think diversity in office has its advantages; I'm sure he didn't win.)

On the other hand, it sort of amazes me that I'm far more conservative on some issues than I thought I was. My parents are quite liberal, generally speaking, and staunch Democrats, for the most part. So I became a Democrat when I started voting, and I actually do generally agree with their positions, if not always their character.

I always joke that in New Jersey politics, the problem is, the Democrats are corrupt and the Republicans are crazy.

But the thing is, on a local level, I don't think many national issues I care about are really important - it's not like the Hillsborough Township committee has any effect on abortion or the death penalty or gun control. So I tend to support the local guys who seem most interested in doing what's best for me, as a property owner in Hillsborough/Somerset County.

And sometimes, that sort of bothers me. My parents raised me to think of others, but it seems like a selfish viewpoint. On the other hand, my quarterly property tax bill is the same as their yearly one, and it's not like any of these other people are paying my mortgage. Nothing wrong with trying to support the right people who will do what I want on the local issues, like build the Route 206 bypass and get the mercury out of the township.

I think I've written about this before, but it's what's on my mind tonight, on account of it being election night and all.

I guess time will tell what becomes of the governor-elect, and the daylight will show how the other things turned out. I know I'll be eager to see the paper tomorrow and find out.

Links:'s election results
The N.J. Division of Elections

"Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country." ~Ambrose Bierce (quote cheerfully swiped from

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The end of an era

My dog died today.

I cried.

He's been sick for a while (see previous post) and I really expected it. But it still hurts.

He was one of the last tangible aspects of another life that I had left.

He was her dog.

But then he was mine. And my parents'. Ours.

I didn't make Morgan the butt of jokes. Morgan made Morgan the butt of jokes. But I think he enjoyed it. He loved attention. He needed attention.

Morgan entered my life because I wasn't paying attention, and to indulge my fiancee, I let her wander around the pet store. I got distracted, and when I looked up, she was gone.

Well, she wasn't gone. She was in the little pet-tryout room, playing with a dachshund puppy.

The little room had a bench, and Michelle was sitting on the bench, and this little runt puppy-mill puppy was running in circles on the floor, building up momentum.

Then he'd leap for the bench.

And he'd hit, about halfway down his little body, and the front paws would scrabble and scramble for purchase. And then his eyes would go wide, and he'd fall backward, slow-motion movie style, still flailing at the air, and land on his head. And then start running around again, sure he'd make it this time.

I finally told her to sit on the floor before she broke him and I'd have to buy him.

So she sat on the floor, with her purse, and he immediately grabbed it by the strap in his teeth and started running in circles again.

Shortly thereafter, I was $1,000 lighter and one dachshund, plus equipment, heavier.

Morgan was never what you'd call bright. But he was enthusiastic, curious and shockingly clever. Not to mention loyal.

The crazy lady who lived downstairs from me and Michelle hated him. But she didn't always take her medicine.

And when she didn't take her medicine, she hated Michelle, too.

And while I don't think Morgan really cared that she'd threaten to poison him, when she'd yell at Michelle (loud enough we could hear her through the floor), he'd growl at the floor and bark and bark.

One day I actually had to pull him away from her, she was screeching that he'd bite her he was growling and barking so loud.

Mind you, this is a dog about a foot long and 10 pounds. Not very intimidating, except that he had a big bark for a little dog.

He had a big dick, too, relatively speaking. Something I noticed because after about a month, he'd greet me and Michelle when we came home, with a raging erection. You had to back off, stand there a bit, and THEN you could pick him up.

You can't get dogs fixed until they're 6 months old. He got fixed on his half-year birthday.

Oddly, he was never a humper - except other dogs - never legs, nothing. He was just happy to see us, I guess.

At least by that point, he was staying barricaded in the kitchen.

It took about three years to housebreak Morgan. In the beginning - after an ill-advised attempt to follow advice and lock him in his crate, where he allegedly wouldn't go... the theory being you don't shit where you sleep... proven wrong when we found him covered in poo, along with everything else in the crate - we barricaded him in the galley kitchen (only one way in/out) and newspapered the floor.

That was a hell of a run-on, eh? Well, I'm drinking.

So anyway, the first thing we did was block him in with his crate. That worked about twice, and sure enough, I got home from work, and he was standing at the top of the steps, wagging his tail and waiting for me, having pooped on the rug and eaten everything he could reach (including, in one incident, the earpiece of my glasses and an ENTIRE HAT BRIM).

Turned out he'd finally gotten big enough he could leap onto the top of the crate, and hop down on the outside.

We caught him when we put the laundry basket on the other side of the crate - thinking he was somehow moving the crate out of the way - and he was yipping before we even got out the door. Having, of course, hopped on to the crate, gone to hop off, and promptly fallen into the basket, where he couldn't get out.

So we bought a baby gate.

By the third time I found him at the top of the steps (wondering how in the hell he could jump 4' in the air when he was only about 8" high) I realized that I, a college honors graduate, was being outsmarted by a dog with a brain the size of a hacky-sack.

I finally caught on... he'd chewed through the gate, just enough to wiggle through, and wiggled.

I duct-taped the gate. Both sides. The entire gate.

By the time Morgan went to live with my parents, the duct tape, top center, was being pulled from the wood frame in such a way that it was obvious he was so desperate to get out, he was literally hanging from the duct tape by his teeth.

About a year after we got Morgan, Michelle and I broke up. And I gave her the dog. He was her dog, after all.

She had him three days before he pooped on the rug and her new landlord told her that either the dog went, or she went. (By went, I mean, had to go, I don't mean the landlord thought she pooped on the rug.)

Morgan, by the way, is named after my favorite liquor, Capt. Morgan Spiced Rum. Michelle had a friend who named her dog Kahlua, and insisted we give the dog an alcohol name.

She called him Morgan Jay Foofpuppy Dog (he was Morgan Jay Dog, like her favorite cartoon, Michigan J. Frog). And I called him that up until the last time I saw him. Not all the time. Just when we'd talk about her. I really do think he missed her. He remembered things. He barked at everyone who ever came to my parents' door, for eight years. He never barked when I came home, even though I see them maybe once a month, if that.

He was a foofpuppy.

Anyway, Michelle had to get rid of the dog. She cried, too, when she gave him back to me.

Of course, by then, the crazy neighbor lady was speaking to me again. (Later, a few months after Michelle had left, she asked me, "whatever happened to your wife? I liked her." I damn near punched her in the mouth.)

I should point out that while the crazy neighbor lady hated him, and he her, the little girl up the townhouse row, whose mother had just died of cancer, loved him, and he her. She'd pull his ears and his tail, and he'd chase her around. I'd like to think it helped her a little. They moved away eventually, but he was always good with children.

Aside, Morgan was a black-and-tan shorthair. So there was this big rottweiler who lived in the complex, same coloring and marking. And Morgan used to follow him around, and I always thought Morgan must have been thinking he was going to be that big when he grew up. Later, he always seemed sort of disappointed when he saw bigger dogs, I guess because his puppyhood ambition went unfulfilled.

But there I was, just me and the dog, again.

He had one friend, my buddy Pat's cat, Mocca. They were about the same size, and he'd chase Mocca around, until he caught her, then he'd try to bite her on the head. Then she'd claw him, hiss, and start chasing him.

He was never really a traditional dog. I bought this bitter apple stuff that you're supposed to spray on wires so dogs won't chew them. So one day, when I was trying to train him not to bark at something, I sprayed him in the mouth with it, just a little squirt. I figured that'd teach him. Instead, a couple of barks and sprays later, he was licking the nozzle of the can. He liked it.

Frankly, he never met anything he didn't like to try and eat.

I'll never forget an angry vet, on call at 7 a.m. Christmas morning, the day Morgan rang in the only Christmas I ever spent with Michelle by waking us up at 6 a.m. to show us how much a small dog can vomit at once.

She gave him a carrot while making Christmas Eve dinner. Guess he didn't like it.

Then there was the time Michelle dropped a jalapeno popper. If there was one word Morgan accepted as a challenge (and Lord knows, it wasn't "sit" or "fetch") it was "No!"

Well, we both yelled "NO!" and he still scarfed it down. One bite.

I've never seen an animal's eyes bug out before. But it's a good thing he could run, because he was off to the water dish in a flash!

Anyway, so that whole fiasco with the neighbor lady is how he ended up living with my parents. I moved, and couldn't find another place that would take pets. So they kept him. With them being retired and all, no more being locked in the kitchen for eight-plus hours a day.

And they gave him a better life than I ever could. He had a small bladder, and they walked him every three hours whether he needed it or not. They're good parents. I've said that before.

I could tell stories all day.

Morgan used to fall off their couch. He'd roll around and around, and thud. And he'd get up, shake himself, and then jump back onto the couch.

He'd walk under the coffee table, and hit his head.

You could even make him do it. And he'd wander out the other side with this sheepish look on his face.

See, he always popped his head up when you said "Mor-gan!" Or pretty much anything in that sing-songy two-syllable tone. For about the first three months of his life, I think he thought his name was Biscuit, because that was the only way to get him to stop doing anything. Food.

So if you said his name right when he was under the dangly part of the coffee table, he'd poke his head up and THUD!

He was a licker. If it was bare skin, he'd lick it. Ankles, arms, faces. His own nose. Constantly licking. When not chewing.

Then there was the time he found a dead squirrel outside. I had to reel him in on the leash. Dachshunds were bred to hunt small animals (the name is German for badger hound).

And in one of his last adventures, he was out for a walk with my Mom - he once took her all the way around the Bloom U campus, then collapsed within sight of home, all four legs out to the side, SPLAT. Mom had to carry him the rest of the way.

Hell, with those short little legs, he used to run laps of my parents' house - he probably got more exercise in a day than I get in a month.

But on that fateful walk, he suddenly started digging under an orange construction barrier on campus. From the other side of the barrier pops up a black-and-white striped tail.

Good thing Mom was walking him, because as I've established, Dad doesn't run. And Mom ran. SKUNK! He'd have ripped the thing to pieces, but probably would have smelled bad for the rest of his life.

One thing Morgan never got - heck, one of many things he never got - was what I called "leash dynamics." As a puppy, he'd run in circles around the legs of whoever was walking him, hog-tying them so they couldn't walk. Michelle actually fell on her butt once - she fell down a lot - and it was funny as hell, at least until she caught me laughing.

But he never understood that a leash was finite. He used to wheeze occasionally, almost like an asthma attack, and the vets finally figured out he'd dented his esophagus by running full speed until the leash YANKED! and he flipped up in the air and landed on his head.

Morgan, in one of his oddest characteristics, would look back over one shoulder while he pooped, all embarrassed, as if he didn't want anyone to see.

Morgan moving in with my parents made their cat's life hell. But Shadow, who also died this year, was much smarter than Morgan. And she'd lead him on a merry chase. She'd wait until he was dazed on the couch, sneak down from upstairs, then hit the tile floor running for the basement. He bolt up and start running, but he never caught her.

Except the time he snuck upstairs (past my parents' industrial-grade baby gate) and was wandering around their room when he happened upon a paper grocery bag, and wondering what it was doing there, stuck his face inside.

It was there because it was the favorite napping place of the cat.

Next thing you know, they're both racing down the hallway, so startled neither was actually chasing the other.

And Morgan could run. I always thought he would have made a great weiner dog racer. Stand at the end of a track with a biscuit, I'm thinking, and you'd see he could outrun some greyhounds.

So my parents were never really keen on walking Morgan, especially in the rain or in winter. He hated the rain and sometimes wouldn't even make it out of the front yard before heading for home.

And in the snow, he'd hop like a bunny, trying to keep his tummy dry and relatively warm.

Being a purebreed, he had a very noble profile, but face-on, he always looked like a puppy to me.

And whenever I went home, he'd curl up in bed with me. As a puppy, he loved the soft spots. He'd sit between my legs and rest his head on my stomach. But with Michelle, he'd sit on her stomach and rest his head on her chest. What can I say, 36C. I liked resting my head there, too.

But boy, if I was showing her affection and he wasn't involved, he'd bark up a storm. Good thing we were in the downward spiral - whenever we'd have sex, he'd bark like a fiend - and he couldn't even see us, being as how his crate was at the foot of the bed. Nothing kills an erection like an old woman screeching, "Will you shut that goddamn dog up?" through the floor while you're trying to get a little quality time.

In the end, it was Morgan who had the girlfriend. Some people up the street from my parents have a miniature dachshund girl, and they'd run and play together a lot. He'd always walk up to their house, and if she wasn't outside, he'd bark, experimentally, to see if she'd bark back. But when they were together, they'd chase each other in circles.

I think she'll miss him. He missed Shadow, my parents said. The first while, he'd go looking for her. I guess it's true what they say about how many spouses don't live very long when the other spouse dies.

It's funny how the people/animals with the big hearts always die of broken ones.

Morgan had a huge heart. And in the end, it failed. It only got broken once, like mine, and I think he got over his "mom" better than I ever did. But I know he thought of her until the end. If you even said Michelle, or Mommy, he'd perk up and look around. I guess people and their pets aren't that different after all.

My parents used to take him to visit the nursing home where my Mom's aunt lived (before she died), and he'd entertain the senior citizens. So he was good with everyone, young and old.

My parents almost gave him away once, when the dachshund of a woman Mom worked with died in an accident. They would care for Morgan, and their little daughter would climb into the crate with him. When their dog died, I suggested they could give him to them, since he was a burden on my folks, but my father, of all people, wouldn't give him up. He spent 15 years trying to get the cat to sit on his lap, and Morgan did it so much, he probably spent the better part of 8 years trying to get the dog OFF his lap.

Morgan used to like ice cubes. My Dad would give him one, and he take it and run off and hide it. They never realized he was hiding them (because sometimes he'd just crunch them right up) until the day they found him staring mournfully at the damp spot on the carpet where he'd left his snack for later.

And he used to sit on these blankets - my parents covered their light-colored couch in them - and curl up and sleep underneath them. So you call his name because you couldn't see him, and up would pop his tail, usually the only part not under the blanket, and it would start to wag. So if you said "Morgan" again, up would pop a part of the blanket - his head, like always, looking around. Then he'd struggle in circles 'til he found his way out.

If dogs could smile, he'd be smiling all the time.

I can't type anymore. I'm crying again, and drunk.

I miss my puppy. I always said when his tail stopped wagging, that would be the end.

It stopped wagging this morning, at the hospital. He fought to the end, wagged his tail to the end, then he went to sleep.

Then he was gone.

I miss him so much. I never got to go home to say goodbye. I thought I would at Thanksgiving. And just like when Grandma died a few weeks before I was going to see her.

I just wish I could pet him and talk to him and play with him and just sit there with him, in the dark of night, curled up on the bed, and miss her together.

I hope all dogs do go to Heaven. And I hope there's a big wide open field, and he's running and running, chasing bunnies and squirrels and barking and jumping and wagging his tail.

And I hope St. Peter doesn't mind when he licks his ankles. And I hope the little children love him.

He never understood the concept of the road. And I worried every day that he'd get hit by a car. Thank you, God, for keeping him from that. He died peacefully, and didn't suffer.

And other than that day he said goodbye to Michelle, I don't think he ever suffered. He was a good dog, and happy.

He was registered in her name. And he lived with my parents. But he was mine. And I loved him. And, just like her, I always will. But more, because he never let me down.

• Morgan Jay Foofpuppy Dog: 1996-2005.

Somewhere, in heaven, a long black tail pops up from a cloud, and starts to wag.