Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sad... and slightly ironic?

Actor Christopher Allport (the guy in the middle) died recently in an avalanche in California, according to the Internet Movie Database...

American TV star Christopher Allport has died in an avalanche while snowboarding in California. The 60-year-old actor is the third person to die after a trio of freak avalanches caused by snowstorms ripped through the West Coast of America. The veteran actor, who was a huge fan of skiing, was found near the Mountain High Ski resort in Wrightwood, California. Allport had appeared in many of TV's most popular series, including ER, Felicity and Matlock. In a bizarre twist, the actor had once warned about the dangers of skiing in a newspaper article, saying, "Any excursion into the mountains requires awareness. Have fun, but be careful."

I'll always think of Allport as the sheriff in the better "Jack Frost" (and its sequel), in which, possibly ironically, he battled a killer snowman.

It's probably better known as the actress Shannon Elizabeth's debut film...

Or the one in which she gets raped by a killer snowman. I'm not sure which.

Either way, rest in peace, "X-Files" Agent Willis. May your heaven be clear, and warm.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sick at heart

Is it wrong that, on the night of the State of the Union, with Super Tuesday just a week away, my Raiders possibly on the verge of firing their coach, my not-quite-sister-in-law about to have a baby any second and my birthday less than three weeks away...

All I can really think about is my poor, sick dog, and whether he's going to be just fine or whether he's going to die?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The fourth wheel

They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and so sometimes I do wonder if I'm neglecting the fourth member of our household - not just on my blog, but in general.

That's because Pumpkin is a cat. And of course, not nearly in need of as much attention as Norton, the dog.

But Pumpkin is, as my father once described his (late, lamented) cat, Shadow, a singular creature.

Pumpkin - who really is, as with Norton, Marisa's pet - does several non-cat-like things.

For one, she talks.

Well, not literally. But she meows constantly. I was reminded of this the other day when we visited our brand spankin' new invitation vendor and her cat started meowing at us. And she purrs. A lot. For no apparent reason. The other night, she was sitting on the couch, just purring. Nobody near her, nothing going on. Just a content cat.

Pumpkin, who also has some cataracts (no pun intended), also likes to run right in front of your legs.

I can't tell you how many times I've stepped on her, kicked her or tripped over her. Fortunately a) I've never hurt her, even the time I booted her into a wall when she zigged and I, well, zigged; and b) she doesn't hate me for it.

How do I know she doesn't hate me?

Well, for one thing, she'll "gimme a pound, dog" (pun intended).

Because she likes to rub her head on things, I suppose to mark her scent or something. But as a result, if I stick my fist out, she'll bop it head-on.

I call her "kitty head-butt" because sometimes, that's how she wakes me up. Bam! Head butt.

Another reason I know she doesn't hate me?

She follows me into the bathroom.

Those of you who know me probably realize that's a risk even (the late, lamented) Evel Knievel wouldn't take...

But seriously. The doors in the house aren't all level so they don't all close, and inevitably, if a bathroom door re-opens behind me, four times out of five it's not Norton making sure I haven't abandoned him, it's Pumpkin.

Why she does it, I don't know.

But it's darn hard to take a good bathroom break seriously when there's a cat rubbing against your legs.

Especially if you're trying to, as guys do, pee standing up. The first time she wandered in during that, which was one of the first times she wandered in at all, she nearly wound up a wet cat, if you know what I mean.

And then, of course, there are the little decks on the house. Norton likes going outside, but so does our "indoor" cat.

What does she do out there? Mostly, she sniffs the air. Sometimes she sits in the patio door and just sniffs. Other times, out on the deck, she'll stick her head through the rails and sniff. (The first time, I'll confess, I thought she was going to try and jump.) Once in a while, she growls at a bird, or hunts down a leaf. But mostly, she just sniffs.

Did I mention she likes to hide and ambush Norton? Much like Shadow would sit at the top of my parents' stairs and meow through the baby-gate at my (late, lamented) dachshund, Morgan, just to torment him because he couldn't get to her...

Pumpkin will hide behind something, wait for my gentle, wimpy and 60-pounds-bigger dog to wander by... And swat him in the face!

Hell, sometimes, she doesn't even hide. She just runs up and clobbers him, then runs away. Probably laughing.

As a result, we have a big dog... who's afraid of the cat. He won't go up stairs past her. He just stands there, waiting, looking forlorn. While she wanders back in forth in front of him, rubbbing his legs with her head. Because she can.

Of course, the pets do love each other. But really, I think Pumpkin just knows she can torment him for fun. Like a big sister or something. Except she's the little sister.

Eh. What do I know? I'm an only child.

But somehow, now, in the mornings, sometimes I wake up squished onto one side of the bed, by a snoring dog, a drooling cat and a, well, snoring and drooling girl.

Speaking of which, did I mention the cat drools?

She'll sit on your chest if you're lying down, and drool on you. She did it to me once.

But the best one was, one night when I was driving home, I was talking on the phone with Marisa, and she was telling me how Pumpkin was sitting on her, and suddenly she started screaming and squealing and yelling.

So I'm yelling, "Honey, what is it? Are you ok? What's wrong!"

And when she finally answered, she screeched, "Pumpkin drooled in my mouth!"

Which isn't quite as good as the story about one of my fraternity brothers in college.

But at least this one's printable.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Doggie in a Box" update

"Doggie in a box" is what I call Norton when I have to crate him. (No, that's not him. That's a product shot.)

Because he got his new crate from Kennel Vet yesterday, and today was his first day in it.

Miraculously, he appears to have been completely fine when Marisa got home.

The funny thing was, I got really, really nervous for her to hurry home - she had some errands to run between school and home. I mean, really anxious.

And I'm normally the calm, "don't worry, he'll be fine" one of the two of us.

I guess it was my guilt over everything - I should've replaced the crate when he really started mangling it, before he hurt himself - bubbling up. I just wanted him to be fine so badly.

I hope it's the beginning of a better stretch for him. M even said he smiled at her tonight. And she worries sometimes that he's lost his smile.

Sadly, I know what she means.

(Sadly in the sense that a) he's lost his smile; and b) I'm talking about a dog here.)

So hey, big gold crate, working for now. Cross your fingers for us.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Two unrelated discoveries

No, I'm not talking about the Strait of Magellan and the polio vaccine.

I'm talking about two things I discovered, or rather, found out recently.

First off, "Supernatural" kicks ass. I point this out despite the fact that, before about two months ago, I'd never seen it, barely heard of it, and if you told me it was on "the CW" network, I'd have thought, "Hey, didn't that Country & Western network become Spike TV?

But I managed to land both the firstand secondseasons on DVD, and I just ate 'em up. Even if the TWOP recaps are only so-so and not awesome.

Either way, if you like, um, supernatural stuff (read: horror) and some humor, or you like watching a couple of hunky teen-beat types (I'd heard of Jared Padalecki because I'd seen him in the remakes of "House of Wax" and "Flight of the Phoenix", but I'd never heard of Jensen Ackles - who for my money is the better actor - because, despite the fact that he'd been in just about every TV show ever aimed at teen girls, I've never watched any of them)...

You'll dig this show.

Monsters. Gore. Jokes. Fun!

The second discovery is thanks to Marisa, who when I said something about taking my sweaters to the dry cleaners the other day, said, "You know, you can wash some sweaters?"

Turns out I can! And to think, I've always dry-cleaned every one. At like $5 a pop. Turns out I only have to take in about half. D'oh!

Oh, a third random discovery: Dogs who are coneheads really have no concept of the fact that they're suddenly much, much wider. This leads to both comedy and awkwardness, as you suddenly fear for everything in their immediate vicinity. Because it's in danger of getting knocked over.

I'm on a semi-mandatory three-day weekend for the MLK holiday. It's nice and relaxing, but I have a few things to do. And, oddly enough, my public-school teacher fiancee had to work.


Friday, January 18, 2008

My dog is a conehead!

Poor Norton. He scratched his face trying to get out of his crate (again) today.

Here's a picture Marisa took at the vet.

It's so sad. He's so sad.

It's a helpless feeling sometimes. And I know it hurts her even more than me. She's the one who found him, trying to dig his way out from under one wall of the crate.

But I'm the one who put him in there. I'm the one who said I didn't want to risk him being loose anymore.

I love him. I spend every morning with him. I walk him every day.

He's a good dog.

But he's sick in the head. The anxiety is so bad, he hurts himself without even realizing it.

I know what it's like to battle demons out of your control, in your mind. I wish I could explain it to him. I wish I could tell him everything's going to be fine, that someone will come home to him soon and he doesn't need to worry.

But he doesn't understand me.

I sometimes think if I had three wishes, besides money and a long, healthy life with M, the third thing I'd wish for would be Norton's happiness.

And every once in a while, I think, what if something happened? What if something happened to us, and we didn't come home? How would he understand?

My poor doggie. And for all that, when I get home, he'll be delighted to see me.

He's a good dog.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My latest toy!

My latest toy/addiction is this little Radica "20 Questions" game.

Really, it's Marisa's game, but I stole it.

And it's amazing. Usually it gets what you're thinking of in 20 questions - sometimes 25 - and you can think of all kinds of unusual things.

I mean, in one trip to the... um, in one session, it got "ghost," "butterfly" and "toilet."

It probably helps that after about the fifth time it guessed, I stopped picking "monkey" as my word.

It was like that scene in Ocean's 11when the twins are playing.

"Is it a person?"
"Is he alive?"
"Evel Knievel."

So once I stopped picking "monkey," it started getting good.

I thought of Norton, it guessed "mutt." I thought of Morgan, it guessed "dachshund."

And so forth.

I tried animals. Vegetables (it does have trouble with "blueberries," I'll say). Minerals. Others. Unknowns.

Every now and then, you have to give it the benefit of the doubt. I thought "bed," it guessed "mattress." Close enough, I say.

What a great little invention. The perfect time-waster.

And so smart.

Munkees love toys!

(Aside, M bought the "People" version for a friend for the holidays, and while cool, it's not nearly as fun. For one thing, unlike version 1.0, it's a lousy guesser. For another, you really have to know a lot about the person you pick, or it gets confusing. On the upside, it has an "undo" button if you answer wrong.)

Get your own here!

And hey, go vote in the poll! Question No. 1 from the Great Toy!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ah, domesticity...

I wish I could say I strained my forearm muscle doing something more exotic than carrying the holiday decorations and spare gift bags downstairs for Marisa.

Even the obvious joke would be less humiliating.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The promised monkey post ... and some bragging!

It's not quite the Semi-weekly Monkey, but I found this the other day, and I thought it was pretty funny.

From Time magazine:

It turns out that one of humanity's oldest professions may be even older than we thought: In a recent study of macaque monkeys in Indonesia, researchers found that male primates "paid" for sexual access to females — and that the going rate for such access dwindled as the number of available females went up.

According to the paper, "Payment for Sex in a Macaque Mating Market," published in the December issue of Animal Behavior, males in a group of about 50 long-tailed macaques in Kalimantan Tengah, Indonesia, traded grooming services for sex with females; researchers, who studied the monkeys for some 20 months, found that males offered their payment up-front, as a kind of pre-sex ritual. It worked. After the females were groomed by male partners, female sexual activity more than doubled, from an average of 1.5 times an hour to 3.5 times. The study also showed that the number of minutes that males spent grooming hinged on the number of females available at the time: The better a male's odds of getting lucky, the less nit-picking time the females received.

That's right. Monkey men trade grooming favors for sex.

Whoever said there's no evolution obviously has never seen how much I spent in college at Bath & Body Works!

And now for something completely different...

I discovered the other day that I've been on Weight Watchers for almost exactly a year! Since Jan. 12, 2007.

So in one year... I've lost, depending on the day, a grand total of 25 pounds!


Just 10 more by the wedding and my life will be complete! Well, I'll be at my target, anyway. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Back online!

OK, that was quick.

Verizon's two-day outage lasted about four hours.

But I have a pounding headache, and I have to go to work, so no monkey post yet.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


They apparently hit a big phone line or something in my neighborhood, so I'll be offline (at home) for the next couple of days - but watch for a monkey story when I get back!

The best thing on TV!

First off, let me just say that anyone who doubts Al Gore is an idiot.

Last week, the first week of January, it was 17 degrees - the radio said with wind chill it was... 1. One freakin' degree.

Today (well, yesterday), the 7th of January, my car thermometer read... 64.

Yeah. The 7th of January, I'm driving to work with the sunroof open.

Anyway, I'm digressing from my main point, which is... thanks to the writers strike, there's an awful lot of random, short-term reality TV out there.

Which brings me to the greatest thing on television these days.

That's right.

They brought back "American Gladiators".

Not these guys, who were cheesy enough.

No, this time they've pulled out all the so-bad-it's-good stops, from trash-talking contestants to over-muscled freaks.

Let me put it this way: In 2007, I went to Wisconsin. I went to Vermont.

And nowhere did I see cheese like last night!

Best moments of the pilot, complete with spoilers:
• The first contestant blew out her knee on the first event!
• The one guy was like 5'5" and 150, he took on a Gladiator in "Joust" who was about 6'6" and 280". And won!
• The last contestant went head-first into a metal bar - oh, yes, there will be blood!
• And of course, the contestant with about a 40-second lead in a 3-minute event who couldn't get up the reverse-treadmill (not that I blame her) and wound up just sort of hanging there by her fingertips as the slower, exhausted opponent limped past her.

This stuff is sooooooooooooooo... great, there aren't enough "o"s to put in that "so."

And of course, they've brought back Assault!

By the way, did you know first-season champion Brian Hutson once went to training camp with the Raiders and actually got into a couple of games for the Patriots?

His opponent in the finals? Former "Lost Boy" Billy Wirth.

Yeah, and version 2.0 is even weirder.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year's (lack of) Resolution?

As the clock ticks over to midnight, January 2, I'm up with a bit of a tummyache and thinking about resolutions.

Marisa asked me yesterday morning if I had any, and I just sort of joked that I'd like to get through the year alive.

If you must have a formal resolution, keep an eye on the Monkey Waistline Tracker on the left. I'm aiming to get down to 200 for the wedding in August, and even if the holidays were a bit of a setback (I think I gained 3 pounds this week, and I feel like hell), I think I can do it. It's a pound or two a month, for crying out loud.

Anyway, most days, I think about being better: Doing more, being more helpful, being a better boss now, just being a good guy. I'm starting to think about marriage and a family, I've gotten pretty used to sharing my life with someone again and all that entails, both good (snuggling) and bad (compromising).

So it's a little tough to try and decide what my goals for 2008 are.

Above all, I want to get married. I'm crazy in love, and as someone who was engaged once before - but not married - I guess I have a bit of a deep-down fear that won't be settled until M walks down the aisle and says, "I do."

Of course, there's stress - a new/old boss at work could mean big, if better, changes, plus there's the continued turmoil in the industry, plus the opposite hours. And then there's always the money or lack thereof, and the house, and the crazy dog, and of course, planning the whole August affair.

Time remains a big issue. Time to do the things I want to do, time to spend with M, even at the expense of things I love (albeit less), time to just relax, which there is never enough of.

My health, which on the surface is good - passed my physical, it seems - but continues to nag in places. The achy calf is better, but still flares; my balky knees really appreciate the weight loss; my headaches come and go. Not too many complaints, even if I'm back on the meds, and take too much Advil for my too-frequent headaches.

The wedding should be fun, and the honeymoon more fun, but we worry about money, and then there's the family we both want, which will undoubtedly tighten money even more... I always joke that her job is to dream, my job is to worry about paying for it, because that suits our personalities, but it is stressful to think about - how we can barely pay for everything now, and yet we want to try and do without her income for as long as we can...

Still. I have to say 2007 was one of the best years of my life - I fell in love, for real, for sure, for certain, and really, the rest is just details, even if it includes a promotion I worked six-plus years for. Still. New job, new house, there's lots to be celebrating.

And somehow, I hope it's not to presumptuous or bad-karma-risking to hope 2008 is an even better year. After all, it's going to be the year I get married, and I suppose in many ways, first engaged at 19 and second engaged at 32, I've spent a long time waiting for and dreaming about this day, a long time thinking it would never come.

It can't be August too soon, I guess.

And even though I worry about my responsibilities as (co-) head of a household, especially in regards to work, I'd like to think it's going to be an even better year there, too. I've made some mistakes, but I had a boss who had my back and I am getting another I expect will feel the same. Maybe, despite all the outside factors, we'll take strides forward and continue to do work to be proud of.

But if nothing else, 2007 was the year I stopped pondering a future stretching out ahead of me alone, like a prison sentence despite its good points, and started thinking things like, 2008 will be the year we get married, maybe 2009 will be the year we have a baby, and so on.

The future is bright. So 2008 will be a good year. How can it not be, when it feels like every day with Marisa is a better day than the ones that came before, without her?

I'll hope and pray for the best. Meanwhile, I'll worry. Maybe that should be my resolution: Not to stress.

Hah. Good luck with that. I've got a better chance of cracking 190.

Happy New Year, my readers. Enjoy the ride.