Monday, April 30, 2007

I got a new car...let's bury it!

My in-law's lake house sits in the eastern part of the state where the local news is fed from the Tulsa stations.

While enjoying some different faces reading the news teleprompter, M-i-L proclaimed without any veracity of a lick sarcasm, that "Tulsan's are a different breed of Oklahoman." Apparently, Tulsanite's have their own way of thinking and doing that leaves the population of the rest of the panhandled state scratching their heads and saying, "Oh, they're just from Tulsa, that's why..."

To put it in a perspective I could relate to, my agreeing wife cited the cataclysmic differences between the environs and peoples of NorCal and SoCal and I instantly got it.

My information on Tulsanite's unusual proclivities for their internals running on a difference engine is secondhand, however a recent discovery via my car club compadres might lend some credence to my M-i-L's proclamation.

Case in point, the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere Sports Coupe was a 17 1/2 foot long monster with a 118" wheelbase and a wingspan over 6 1/2 feet wide. Only a Tulsan would think to bury one of these jewels of Detroit modernism and invention in the ground. But that's exactly what they did, 50-years ago this summer.

The Event Chairman of the Tulsa event wherein the brand spankin' new Belvedere was buried beneath the front sidewalk of the Tulsa Count Courthouse in 1957, is quoted to have proclaimed the car to be a perfect vehicle to serve as the rolling time capsule since it was, " advanced product of American industrial ingenuity with the kind of lasting appeal that will still be in style 50 years from now."

Pretty bold statement. He must have been a car guy.

Check out the Tulsarama link, part of this states Centennial celebration.

Oh, and if you're curious as to what will become of the 50-year old rolling relic of a time capsule, it will be given to the person with the closest recorded guess of what the 2007 population of Tulsa would be. That's right, 50-years ago ordinary folk recorded their guesses of their fair cities babyboom growth, which were then buried along with the car. Come this summer when they remove the gassed up capsule and pull the guesses, some lucky prognosticater of Tulsa's population will be handed the keys to the Belvedere.

My guess is that the car and it's contents will be in much better condition than the Tulsan who made the winning guess. 50 years of chicken fried steak and prime Oklahoma beef will have taken it's toll, even on a tough-as-nails-Tulsan.

My opinion...Indiana Jones had it right, "it belongs in a museum."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Adventures in Principalling - Swapping spit with a swine

Sorry, been busy with preparations for the Parent/Teacher Org's final fundraiser of the year...the elementary school carnival.

I must say that we PTO officers and parents got pretty creative this year in figuring out ways to separate the good folk of this town with their hard earned fundage - all toward a good cause of course...their kid's school.

The result of one such activity resulted in the following video, taped rather shakily by myself this morning.

You may recall that our dedicated Principal had to eat a handful of worms earlier in the year, due to the upper level students reading more books than he had anticipated them to read.

The aspect of the entire episode that struck a humorous chord with me occurred back during our initial discussions of the "Kiss the Pig" event at a PTO meeting some months back.

When we announced that we were looking for a little swine to stand up for the kissage, the room swelled with responses ranging from, "my neighbors got a litter of piglets," to "I can bring a big big a one you need?" to "How many, cuz I can get a several from my Mom," -- as if procuring a piglet was the most normal thing a person could do.

Normal is as normal does, I guess, whether it's kissing a pig, eating worms, or doing an hour in the dunk tank at the carnival tonight. I asked the Principal after the swine kissing this morning if they taught this kind of stuff in Principal school...Public Education Administration is a tough gig in my small town.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

When the circus comes to town

Last weekend we took the girls for their semi-annual clown phobia shock therapy at The Carson and Barnes Circus -- apparently one of the oldest circuses to call Oklahoma home.

For some odd reason, Hugo, Oklahoma has been and still is the winter HQ for several difference circuses.
From the Hugo Chamber Website: "Hugo also proudly lays claim to being the home and winter quarters of three of America's largest Circuses: Carson & Barnes; Kelly-Miller Brothers; Circus Chimera and Culpepper-Meriweather."
I can count on one hand the number of times I remember going to the circus as a kid so I'm not taking my girls to relive and revive a plethora of cherished childhood memories. Nope, I'm taking them for the same reason I like old diners and small town museums, revival movie houses, American Graffiti cruise nights, drive-in theaters, soda fountains in pharmacies, and picnics at the park -- nostalgia.

Even nostalgia that I wasn't around to experience.

Heck, I was alive when the Beatles broke up and Elvis died, yet didn't appreciate them until many years after their heyday. Had I been more aware, I would have done all that I could to see either of them perform live.

Which brings my family and I back to the circus every time we get word one is setting up in a nearby town. The girls seem to have dug it and for a few bucks more, they got a light-up, spinny, noise-making souvie, some finely blown cotton candy, a coloring book, elephant ride, and the cutest picture of the both of them holding a monster python.

Someday, due to lack of interest by audiences, too much interest by PETA, skyrocketing costs of equipment maintenance, transportation fees, labor costs, and diminishing returns at the ticket office, the circus as we know it will have gone the way of disco roller rinks, the cassette tape, shag carpeting, and the Camaro (yes, I know the Camaro will return in 2008/09 - wish that were the case for roller boogie, boy do I miss those days).

Do yourself a favor. Save up a few bucks and take yourself and a kid to the circus. Someday, like Elvis, "The circus will have left the building" and will exist only in cyberspace and in the long term memory of those, like me, who took the time to enjoy this dinosaur of live entertainment.

Besides, the more tyksters that have clown phobia therapy, the better off we'll all be in the long run.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Not a flinch among us

C's softball practice has begun and there are a slew of new girls who are on her team this year. Including C, there were 5 others from last year's group so it was pretty familiar ground for us all.

Two other Dad's showed up, one of which reluctantly accepted the task of being head coach, so I didn't have to step up and dig into my "Girl's Softball Coaching for Dummies," book. The other Dad has coached before and actually knows things like teaching the girls how to throw, catch, cover the infield, tag a runner out -- you know, the basics.

So, we're in pretty good shape and C is more than relieved that she doesn't have to call me coach. Not as relieved as I am, sweetie.

As we were winding up the evenings practice session, parents were dropping in to pick up their kiddies and talk to the coaching staff (ahem), about future practices, games, uniforms, snack buying rotations, etc.

One woman came up, her arm around one of the new players -- we'll call her Jayme, and introduced herself to me, the other two Dad's, their wives, and another player's mother. She had short cropped, bleached hair, several piercings in one ear, no noticeable traces of make-up, and had the following phrase prominently silk-screened on the front of her tee shirt... "Di-ver-si-ty
1.the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness.
2.variety; multiformity.
My So-Cal-Spidey-senses flared up and I glanced quickly to the other parents as Di-ver-si-ty Mom casually stated..."Hi...I'm one of Jayme's Mom's and..."

How 'bout this...not a flinch in the bunch.

Not a single raised eyebrow, conversational stutter, or awkward moment of discomfort. Hands were shaken, smiles seemed genuine, and welcoming praise was heaped on Diversity Mom's daughter for her prowess in the softball arts.

Label them whatever stereotypes that you want, but if these Okie's are anything, they are extremely polite. I actually felt a bit ashamed that I expected some quiet drama and that I was internally exploiting these people and the situation for some sick and twisted voyeuristic enjoyment on my part.

For a brief moment my small town didn't seem all that small anymore and I realized that I have a lot to learn...or unlearn as the case may be, about being, in the finest sense of the word, an Okie.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wedding incognito

A TV detective once demonstrated (I think it was Jim Rockford, not sure...may have been Thomas Magnum) how a man carrying a clipboard can walk around the outside of any house in the world and not be held in a suspicious manner.

I'm going to update this slightly by including the addendum that anyone carrying a video camera and tripod can enter a church and videotape a wedding ceremony, in it's entirety, completely unfettered, and even be welcomed by the family's involved.

A project I'm working on involves gathering footage of some historical buildings, one of which was a 1940's era church built entirely by WWII German POW's. On a particular Saturday morning, I showed up with my equipment, ready to get some quality time in with my Panasonic 3-chip, when I found myself smack dab in the middle of a full blown wedding.

So, I sat and watched and smiled and did what inevitably any married person does when attending a wedding...thinks back to the day when they did their "I do" thing. Lucky for me it was a short ceremony and I would soon have the building to myself for footage gathering.

As with most nuptial ceremonies that I've attended, the audience is usually afforded a rear or profile view of the happy couple, and only on rare glimpses do we get to see how they are enjoying the first day of the rest of their lives together, so it wasn't until later during the picture taking phase of the event, that I got to see the expressions of joy on the young couple's faces.

Somehow I'm not convinced that this is the happiest day in this girl's life...

Before the picture is snapped...



This was THE biggest expression of joy that I witnessed on the blissful brides face for the entire picture snapping session. None of her smiles before or after came close to the excited joy exemplified by the expression on her lovely spectacled face.

Maybe she's just not all that big in the smiling department or maybe she just hates taking pictures. Who am I to judge, since I'm sure there are at least one or two shots of me at my wedding where I've got that "can't wait 'til this is over" look on my face.

But, we won't tell my wife that.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Good things come in big boxes

Our small town has a family owned appliance store that's the only place in town to get the big, electronic must-haves of modern living, and being relatively new to town and totally in-love with the smallness of it all, we chose to support our local businesses when we decided on a dishwasher purchase awhile back.

The store was crowded, but clean, bright and inviting. A myriad of bulky household items were sorted, organized and placed logically inside the steel building that sits just on the outskirts of town. Appliances to the west (stoves, ovens, dishwashers, washer and dryers, fridges, microwaves, etc), living area to the east (sofas, barcaloungers and big screen tv's), office in the back and beds arranged nearly on top of each other about the middle.

The girls scattered as soon as entered the building and saw the amusement to be had in the maze that was the unboxed inventory on the floor.

We met up with the genuinely friendly owner who helped up select a dishwaher to our liking.

10 minutes or so after we arrived back home, up drove a red pick up with our new dishwasher in the back, the appliance store owner's son at the wheel.

The skinny-as-a-rail teen brought the new cardboarded beast up the steps and through the front door with not a grunt to his name, smiled, said his "thank-ya-and-see-ya-round's" and was off.

From the time we decided that morning while eating our omelettes to go and get a dishwasher, to the time I was loading my first load of dirty dishes and dollop of Cascade into our new stainless steel lined German incredulity of fluid dishwashing dynamics, 90 brief minutes had progressed on the wall clock.

Almost a year and a half and hundreds of loads of dishes, plates, glasses, mugs, forks, spoons, knives, chopsticks, and rice bowls later, our wonderful white dishwashing dynamo is still going is our local appliance store.

In fact, I spotted these in a recent full-color newspaper insert ad he was running in our local paper -- a first for him. Business must be good.

No wonder with offerings such as this...

Guess the days of sticking your keg in a bathtub full of ice in the back bathroom are over. Even beer busts have gone high tech out here on the prairie.

Friday, April 20, 2007

"...a fry cook on Venus"

If you know this famous movie line from what I consider to be the high point in filmmaker John Hughes' 80's "teen" period, then you know a little bit about what can occasionally be considered high art in the movie theater in my mind.

One of the things I always thought I would enjoy doing - not as a career but as a hobby - was being a short order fry cook.

I can trace this blue-collar service oriented trade manifesto to two distinct periods and places of my past.

First, as a pre-teen I spent countless fall, winter, and spring weekends with my Pops and Step-Mom at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The skiing was top notch, the interaction with fellow skiers of varying degrees of maturity was educational and my time spent on the slopes gave me a better understanding of the importance of being able to tolerate me, myself and I.

There was a young Asian fellow named Denny, who was the short order cook in the lodge cafeteria where we ate breakfast. He was handsome, jovial, and seemingly enjoyed his work with the same amount of carefree vigor that he displayed on the slopes during his afternoon "off-time." He was a ski-bum in the truest sense - working to live, living to ski, and skiing for the love of it.

Then - and maybe even a little bit now - I wanted to be Denny.

Second, during my undergraduate years, I spent more hours than I should have, sitting at the counter in a small canteen, talking and listening to a large Black man in a very small white apron.

His name tag stated in crooked black dymo-labeled lettering that his name was Robert, but I called him what he asked me to call him after he found my familiar face staring back at him for several late morning breakfast feeds in a row...Junior.

Junior and I became friendly acquaintances in the 4 years I took classes at the state university just east of Downtown LA. Never getting too personal or letting go with too much private information, our conversational shorthand centered around what I coined as "fry cooking techniques, theories and practices." He got a good chuckle every time I would use that phrase.

To this day I still practice one of Junior's cardinal rules for making an A+ omelette - scrape the griddle surface clean before laying on that egg.

So, you can see why, when I drove by and saw that Jobe's Drive-In on Route 66 in El Reno, OK, was for sale, the memories of Denny and Junior (and Ferris) flooded my mind with images of lording over my own griddle, making sweet onion fried burgers to be served via roller skating car hops to waiting patrons in convertibles and pick-up trucks.

It ain't Venus, but a fry cook with little to no experience could do little better.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wabbit season, duck season...twister season

Yep, it's gettin' on to be that time of the year again.

Thunderstorms to rattle our 100-year old windows, lightning shows that would impress Nikolai Tesla, hail big enough to enable one to say, "Barkeep, a scotch on the ROCK, please," and tornadic activity that sends our local TV WeatherMuppets into multi-orgasmic hyperventilation...all the joys of nature's fury with half the calories of regular weather.

Noticed this in our small town's news rag this morning. Two twister seasons and I've yet to see this form published.

I'm wondering if New York Citian's that have Jodie-Fosterish "safe rooms" get to register them with the City, so the NYPD knows where to go looking for them after the Day After Tomorrow thaws out.

Or if my Los Angeleno brethren who live on the bottom floor of multi-storied apartment buildings can have signs printed up that spring from the front lawn of the complex, informing passing by Earthquake rescue workers that the building they are looking at used to have 8 stories, not 6.

Don-chya-no dat da good folk out and aboot in Minnesowda fer sure hafta get dem permits from da city to build really tall chimneys dat will reach over pretnear any amount of snowfall, you betcha (wow, that was hard to do...props to you folk up north...that's a hard way of talkin' - K)

We don't have a storm shelter. We have a full basement that will not afford much protection if the entire house is Wizard of Oz-Dorothy-lifted from it's foundation and spun through the air.

Maybe I should sink a pipe about 30-feet down and get enough leather straps for the family and I to strap ourselves down to. Be a good way to look up into the eye of the twister, wouldn't it. Or does that just happen in movies? Shucks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

441, still havin' fun

Two years to the day, I created a blogger account and started this semi-circular ride into the blogosphere.

440 posts later, I'm still finding that I have a few things to comment about on the comings and goings of my small Oklahoma town and the effect it's having on my family... and visa versa.

Here is my first ever post. I still wonder sometimes.

Thanks to all who have temporarily joined the slow cruise. Sorry it's isn't always (rarely ever) an E-ticket ride, but you Net junkies have YouTube for that kinda stuff.

In celebration of this anniversary of sorts, I present for your viewing pleasure, 20-seconds of Franny eating her breakfast. Any bipedal hominid who doesn't enjoy watching and listening to man's best friend eat dry dog food needs some therapy to generate growth in their brains pleasure sensor works on so many different levels.

Max out the bass on your computer's subwoofer, crank up those speakers and enjoy.
Happy trails!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Fast Times at rural Okie High

Just when you thought Jeff Spicoli was a relic of the past and nowhere to be found out here in the wilds of the Oklahoma prairie, along stumble these clowns...

In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the black Honda was a VW bus, and the three bozo heads spilling out of the car were Anthony Edwards (ER), Sean Penn, and Eric Stolz (Mask), but the smoke billowing out as the door was opened was the same doobie laced fog to be sure.


My first reaction was, "speakers in a bulldozer....sweet!"

Then I had a chuckle as the story triggered a memory from my youth of a couple of acquaintances (one an A+ honor student, the other a barely passing C- athlete) who were busted for stealing a 280Z -- which left a trail of dripping oil from the driveway they boosted it from, several blocks away to their own garage. Doh!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sniffy Part 2

There lies a particular stretch of alleyway a few blocks west of our street where backyard upon backyard of canine populated residences make this portion of real estate a veritable gauntlet for anyone foolhardy enough to meander down it's single lane path.

Franny and I do it almost daily.

While the pit bull twins announce our arrival, and the daschund / corgi tag team follow suit, we slowly make our way past the dalmation/black lab mix who playfully yips while his yellow lab/shepherd mix kennel mate yaps in unison.

At the end of the alley lives the civil servant drug dog, Sniffy, his K9 patrol car backed neatly into the carport to his left.

Now, I don't know what kind of training drug dogs go through, but I'm assuming they must receive highly skilled specialized instruction in narcotic and weapons locating. What I'm not sure of is if they receive any skill sets in the security arts including attack, offense, or guard duties.

I wonder this, because Sniffy is the last one on the dog gauntlet alley, so he gets the barked notifications of a dozen of his bowwow comrades beforehand. Yet 9 times out of 10, when we make it to his backyard, he'll jump up in a startled surprise and give an anemic, embarrassed woof or two, more of a "far-out man" than an irritated warning of impending doom.

I'm hoping that sniffing all those drugs on a daily basis hasn't mellowed his other doggy senses to a dull sheen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sniffy, part 1

The 4-lane highway that runs through my small town is a relatively major traffic corridor in this part of Oklahoma.

As such, our local newspaper police blotter regularly carries a blot or two about traffic stops gone bad (for the driver), many of which are thwarted by the drug sniffing dog that our Sheriff acquired sometime last year.

I'm not sure of the parameters that are used for a cop to call in for the drug dog (we'll call him Sniffy), but I can imagine there exists somewhere, in some file, a professionally prepared profile of what a druggie user, maker, transporter, or dealer in this part of the state would/should/could look like.

And if you, your car, your passenger, or your load falls within any of those parameters, then Sniffy may get a page.

Like many communities around the globe, the resulting carnage of impounded cars, trucks, boats, and other modes of transportation that have piled up from drug confiscations have manifested into "Seized Vehicle Auction" ads being placed in every newspaper, signpost and telephone pole within this panhandled states odd borders.

My right brain says, "Hooray, cheap cars for sale, may get a good deal!"
My left brain say "Bad karma, getting a car that was used for illegal purposes."
My inner female self says (shut up guys, we all have it..if we're lucky), "Umm, what's wrong with this scenario..."

Here's the scenario in question.

Say Sniffy gets a whiff of an illegal substance in a car during a routine traffic stop. The driver goes away, the ganga is seized, the car is impounded and sold at auction to a young couple expecting their first child at the end of the year.

Fast forward a month later.

The young father-to-be gets so involved with his sculpting project that today's lamaze class completely slips his mind, until 15 minutes before it's set to begin. He jumps into the car without removing his dust covered coveralls or washing up and is caught speeding by a constable in the next town over.

The dedicated Officer raises an eyebrow at the young driver's dusty appearance, harried look and long hair, gets a funny feeling and calls in Sniffy.

Now, unless someone along the way (law enforcement motor pool, impound lot goons, auction lot workers or the buyer themselves) cleaned out the car of any or all traces of the illegal substance that got the car impounded in the first place, old Sniffy is going to find something that "sends him a barkin'".

Perhaps I'm being paranoid here and with the initial removal of the illegal substance by law enforcement, time and the elements will take care of any trace evidence left over.

Perhaps not.

Here's my proposal for a new business, that feeds on the paranoid fear of the scenario I just outlined. Anyone who wants to take the idea and run with it, owes me free access to the service for myself and my family, for life.

You've heard of the Carfax service, where you can trace the history of your car using the VIN?

I bring you, DrugCarfax.Just bought a car at auction, on the internet, or from a shady character with bad teeth, a mullet, and a crooked walk, and want to be sure you won't be the victim of the previous owners "habits?"

DrugCarfax is the answer.

For a nominal fee, you can drive your car to one of our convenient service centers and get it sniffed by a certified drug sniffing dog. Once our factory trained veteran drug dogs walk away from your car and gives it the "paws up" sign, you'll get a genuine computer printout stating that your car has been DrugCarfaxed and is drug free and on the wagon.

Don't run the risk of having your "new" used car being impounded by one of those civil servant drug sniffing dogs on a routine traffic stop. Use DrugCarfax and get the insurance you need to protect your car, your self, and your family.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Close Encounters with a pickup of the Third Kind

Here in Oklahoma, the land where pick'em up trucks are described as Super Duty's, Quad-Cabs, Hemi's, and Silverado's, and wordy coded numbers such as XLT 450, Ram 2500, and 3500HD are bandied about during early morning farmer/rancher coffee talk, my youthful hippy cousin and her Nova Scotian hubby caused quite a stir when they recently rolled into town for a visit driving this wonder of Japanese mini-truck invention...

It's a Honda ACTY

Yes, it's street/highway Canada.

Here in the States, you apparently can't get one tagged for street use. However, if you happen to be driving from British Columbia to Nova Scotia via the United State's highway system visiting friends and relatives along the way, then it's perfectly legal - even though the young couple reported multiple curious law enforcement road dawg tailgaters who followed them for several miles while calling into their watch commander, obviously inquiring as to the legality of said vehicle on the road.

With all of 45 hp and a top speed of 60 mph, my cousin commented that seeing the USA super-mega-interstate-highway system at a good 15 - 25 mph below the rate of speed at which the other vehicles are clicking by at, can be unnerving at best, life-threatening at worst.

Still, they reported that they've been the subject of more than one camera phone drive-by snapshots, that their fellow interstaters (for the most part) have been courteous and patient as they puttered along, and not one pick-up truck full of rambunctious young'uns has hassled them about their steering wheel being on the "wrong" side.

I suggested they find and jump on as much of Route 66 as they could on their next leg of the journey, since they were leaving us and heading up to my cousins's hometown of Indianapolis for a visit with Mom and Dad. Would be a much more relaxing drive as their relatively moderate speed limit would be a welcomed entity on the aging Mother Road.

I'm thinking that there are still plenty of modern conveniences along the way to fulfill their petrol and roadside fruit/vegetable stand requirements as well.

BTW, a quick check of this website revealed that the prices for these used Honda truckettes are pretty reasonable (starting around $800US). Course, you have to get it here and only drive it off-road. But with a 350kg load capacity (about 700 lbs.), it'd be enough to haul around a Chevy engine block and a set of cast iron heads.

And wouldn't it be fun to show up at the next Monster Truck Ralley/Mud Bog in one of these gems?

Okay, maybe not.

Monday, April 09, 2007

We interrupt this winter-like weather for an important spring sunset

There are times I feel bad about parking my classic, unrestored El Camino in the driveway, out in the wilds of the Oklahoma weather. But it's only a car -- a hunk of metal, rubber, plastic and various petroleum products whose sole purpose is transportation of people, animals, minerals, and vegetables.

However, like most car guys, I feel that my vehicles have a definite soul and personality to them.

That being the case, for every snowy, icy, sub-20 degree night the Elky must endure in it's stationery state in my driveway, it is rewarded with sky encompassing views of sunsets such as this one from last week.

My Elky smiles wide when surrounded by a wondrous Oklahoma spring sunset/

Fire in the sky, soon to disappear behind the western prairie.

The 100-year old Catholic Church across the street wears the setting sun like a well-tailored suit.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I'll call you honkie and you'll like it

Every night after the girls are tucked into bed and snoozing the wonderland express, I take 30 minutes of sanity alone time with the pooch on her final relief break of the day.

Normally, this is a peaceful, zenuous experience - channeling the powers that be to provide my pet with a healthy, well formed stool to finish out the day, and for myself to peruse the memories of the day and the pre-hectic to-do list for the morrow.

On weekend evenings, however, is when the "honkies" and "zoomies" come out.

These are usually kids in pairs or more, piled into cars (cars are honkies, pickup trucks are zoomies - keep reading), cruising to or from somewhere, looking for what my wife's phraseology book terms as "sh*t's and giggles."

The ritual goes as follows...
  • Cruise through town.
  • Spot a seemingly unsuspecting pedestrian, out for a late night stroll, baggie in hand that is soon to be filled with doggie dookie.
  • Make sure the pedestrian isn't someone familiar, or someone who would recognize and narc on you and/or your vehicle to your grandparents at church on Sunday.
  • If it's safe, lay on the horn as you pass by (car) or rev your motor to the redline (pickup).
  • Watch for the pedestrians jumping jack reaction.
  • Laugh your infantile butt off.
  • Repeat.

  • I've somehow managed to retain quite a bit of my urban/suburban street sense where my subconscious won't let it's "out-in-public-danger-guard" down.

    The honkies have yet to make me jump from surprise. The zoomies succeed in turning my head, hoping to catch a glimpse of a muscle car, only to be disappointed at the site of yet another pick-em-up truck with Flowmaster's and a 3" exhaust (yawn.)

    There will come a day, I fear, where my serene little town will get the better of me and my Radar O'Reilly internal tunage won't protect me from the Honkies and Zoomies anymore.

    But for now, honk and zoom away. I kinda see it as payback for the infantile things I did while cruising my old souped up Nova in the sweet days of my youth.

    Thursday, April 05, 2007

    The notice in C's backpack proclaimed that sign-ups for the girl's summer softball season were quickly approaching and coaches were desperately needed.

    We talked it over with C and she absolutely, postively wanted to play softball again this summer, stating proudly that this year she could actually "throw the ball to someone," as opposed to what she did last year, which resembled an Aboriginal boomeranging more than anything.

    The other day while walking across the parking lot to pick C up from school, the mother of one of C's softball teammates from last summer (we'll call her B), yelled and gesticulated wildly at me, beckoning me to come over for a friendly chat.

    I did.
    I was suddenly and without any provocation, attacked from my smiling blind side...B - My husband (Z's Dad) wants you to coach with him this year?
    Me -
    B - Yep. He says he'll do it, but only if you do it too.
    Me - Well, I helped out last year, but only as a standing-around-Dad-spectator-who-chased-balls-into-the-outfield-kinda guy. I was planning on doing the same this year.
    B - So, you'll help him coach then?
    Me - Huh, well, I'll be at every practice if that's what you're asking.
    B - He said to be sure to tell you that you'd better be there (jokingly).
    Me - I'll be at every practice that I bring C to, and I'd be more than willing to help him out.
    B - Coaching...
    Me - Whatever...catching balls, fetching Gatorade, yelling encouraging remarks to the players...
    B - Great. Because he said he wouldn't do it without you.
    Me - Whatever he needs me to do, I'll do, as long as it's doesn't involve actual coaching or teaching softball skills in any way, cuz I'm a total lamo when it comes to just about all team sport skills.
    B - It's only softball. You're so funny. Okay, I'll tell him you said okay.

    At this point the kids starting flooding out of the school building and the controlled chaos of child pickup began it's strange and wonderous dance.

    Later on, while I was replaying the conversation I had had with B to my wife, her only response was, "I don't think either of our girls are going to wrestle, or do Judo, or go into competitive skiing, so maybe this would be a good experience for you to learn some softball basics."

    Is there a "Girls Softball for Dad's who only did individual sports as a kid for Dummies" book?

    Wednesday, April 04, 2007

    Radiator Springs in realtime

    Our final evening in western Oklahoma found us once again on Route 66, this time heading for the little town of Canute.

    We had heard there was a deadly pizza joint in this little town of 500+ people and we were on a mission for some thin crust ala carte.

    Friend's Pizza and Pub occupies a small lot on Main Street, which sits perpendicular to the section of the Mother Road that zooms through the tiny, blink-twice-and-you'll-miss-it community. There are several hotels on 66 that must have been something to see in their neon-blaring heyday, neither of which looked habitable now.

    The P and P itself is little more than a used-to-be post office-turned hamburger joint-turned bar with a conveyor belt pizza oven and uber-friendly staff. The cars parked in front of the joint ranged from a beaten down 1987 Monte Carlo SS, to a brand spankin' new Dodge Charger Daytona/RT with a few showroom new "Wild Hogs" tossed into the mix.

    Parental panic kicked in slightly as it should for anyone contemplating taking their kids into a bar-type atmosphere seeking fine dining, however upon entering the dimly lit pub, a quick survey of the separate eating and drinking areas proved to allay most of our fears.

    In the bar area sat a table of blue-haired grannie's drinking coffee (?) from thick white diner mugs, right alongside a group of yupped-up bikers (Wild Hog-types), a young couple with their infant in a carrier, and several groups of what I believe were Route 66 road trippers taking in the local scenery.

    Everyone who was drinking beer, drank it from longneck bottles, leading me to believe that had I asked for something on tap, I would have been denied in a most pleasant way.

    When it came time to order off the menu, I didn't dare order my standing favorite pie (sausage, anchovey, garlic, onion) since the place looked more like a pepperoni and iceberg lettuce salad joint. However we were all pleasantly surprised when our pizza arrived in good shape, form, and edibility factor.

    The pizza pies were named for personalties of questionable celebrity (we ordered the Diana Ross), the dough was decent for not being hand-tossed, and the mushrooms were fresh, not canned. Overall I'd rate the atmosphere a 7 (if you like bar-type places, if not then a 5), the staff an attentive and friendly 10, and the pie a well-earned 8.

    Friends Pizza and Pub was the kind of place where the waitresses and kitchen staff were happy to take the time to get to know a little of our own story, what brought us to Canute and to their door, and where we were headed from here.

    Even though the town surrounding them was obviously in the throes of neglect, in need of repair and attention, the collection of friendly faces, decent food fare, and local color was the exact Radiator Springs/Route 66 vibe we were hoping to find on our trip to motor west, on the highway, that's the best.

    Tuesday, April 03, 2007

    "Still too muddy to ride horsies"

    You can imagine the disappointed looks on our girl's faces as we uttered those words after repeated hopeful phone calls to the Flying W Guest Ranch several mornings in a row. The rainstorm that drenched the eastern part of the state was attempting to drown our darling daughter's dreams of spring breakin' via horseback on the open range

    However, the Holidome and all it's distractions proved to be excellent parental planning on our part as our family shifted gears and took full advantage of the indoor pool facilities, jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room, 9-hole migi-golf, ping pong, shuffleboard (ahem), and foosball table in the game room.

    Our first few hours after check-in, we spent so much time at the pool and jacuzzi that our wrinkles had wrinkles. I channeled a few lessons from my youth and demonstrated for C the finer points of push shots and pull shots on the foosball table, while PK showed me the effectiveness of chasing the brightly colored miniature golf ball with the putter, rather than just hitting and aiming it toward the hole.

    While abiding of the Griswold Family "Vacation" facilities at the Holiday Inn, we put our mortar board hats back on and hit the nearby sites for some class and culture of the historical kind.

    The docent at the Black Kettle Museum in Cheyenne, took it upon herself to ensure that the girls completed the required tasks to received their "Junior Ranger" badges complete with coloring activity book and "pinning of the badges" ceremony. They totally dug that.

    We tallied forth under warnings from the Museum Lady that the trail at the nearby Washita Battlefied Site would still be muddy going, but we should have it all to ourselves.

    While we strolled the sacred grounds where the Custer led massacre of Black Kettle and members of his Cheyenne tribe took place, we tried to put some perspective of why there is a monument to this area into C's head. Finding it too difficult to explain the concepts of wholesale slaughter and eminent domain to a 7-year old, we stopped reading from the laminated narrative brochure provided by the Parks Service and instead focused on the natural surroundings, the spring bloom of colors, and the red Oklahoma mud that was quickly collecting on the girl's long pants.

    Lunch was to be found back in the town of Cheyenne, in an old Catholic Church. A Mexican family had recently relocated to the old church, hung up a few well placed zarapes and other TJ paraphernalia and reopened the once hallowed doors to a new congregation of hungry country dwellers.

    I had a trio of some pretty darn good carne asada street tacos, S did proud with her spinach enchiladas and the girls stuck with their tried and true "chips and cheese" standby, while taking full advantage of their God-given right to forkfulls of food off their parents plates.

    Next up, the final installment -- back on Route 66 for a farewell to Spring Break '07.

    Monday, April 02, 2007

    2 years, but who's counting

    It was exactly 2-years ago this week that I said farewell to my cubicle, packed up what little remained of my/our Los Angeleno lives into the Civic and pointed my nose east.

    Even after all this time, the number one question I get from folk, both here and back in LA is, "how could you do such a thing?"

    Gotta go with a movie quote here...

    "Life is simple. You make choices and you don't look back."