Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cowboys or Indians (Native-Americans)

Tonight at dinner, C asked me if our familly in the past were cowboys or Indians?

In the middle of correcting her, she stopped me and corrected herself...."I mean Native-Americans...were our family Cowboys or Native-Americans?"

As a parent, I was intrigued. As a closet history buff and sub-amateur genealogist, I were prepared.

I immediately launched into a long diatribe about my family history going back to the stone age. Well, sorta.

I discussed the theory about the Bering Strait land bridge between the Asian and North American continents which some scholars use to explain how the America's came to be populated with people who bore anthropological, genetic, and linguistic characteristics in common with populations across the strait.

I talked about our family crest and our role as merchant marines and arrow makers back when such things were used as articles of war.

I told her how I was totally surprised the first time I heard Lakota Souix spoken and was amazed at how similar it sounded to an oriental language I had studied.

Wrapping up my lecture were a few words about how the Native-American's were mistakenly labeled as "Indians" by Christopher Columbus during his historic journey to find a faster route to "the Indies."

C must have drifted off sometime during my Bering Strait land bridge chapter since she got up after I was done, turned to S and said, "Mommy, was your side of family cowboys or Indians?"

S (like many native-Okies) has a trickle of Native blood running through her veins. 1/8th Cherokee from her Father's side and near as we can figure, about 1/32nd "Native of some type" on her Mother's side.

C thought that was "really cool." Truth be told, I do too.

Deflating inflation

In my life as a native (Los) Angeleno, I've paid as much as $1.50 (in quarters) for 5 minutes of compressed air at a service station to fill up car tires, bike tires, and other assorted inflatable necessities of life, fully realizing that I was actually paying for the electricity to run the compressor, what little maintenance the compressor required, the property value and taxes collected on the space where the compressor sat, as well as for the convenience of having air-on-demand, 24-7-365.

But all I really got for my assorted two-bits, four-bits, six-bits, a dollar...was air.

In my small town, there are 7 establishments which sell the dino juice of the gods.

Love's, Shell, Texaco, Valero and the big 3-C's, Conoco, Cenex and Citgo

I can get free air at 5 of them, even though one of the air stations has a busted ball foot chuck on the air nozzle.

The other two charge a quarter.

The nerve.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Like a scene from Clerks 2

A few weeks back I took a sanity date with me, myself, and I.

My wife calls them "Artist Way dates." I call them "ditching my family for a few hours of sophomoric alone time outings."

Regardless, the three of us went to see a late showing of Clerks 2.

I'm a Kevin Smith fan from way back and was jonezing to see what the twisted-dialogue-heavy mind of the creator of Jay and Silent Bob had in store for Dante and Randall's future. The film felt like a reunion of sorts, had a good payoff, and I actually teared up when Randall professes his love ("in a totally non-homosextual way") for Dante when pleading for his lifelong friend to stick around.

K. Smith is a professed net junkie of crack addict proportions and proved so by including a list of ALL of his myspace pals in the closing credits.

There were thousands of names. Thousands.

The only other popcorn guzzling patrons who stayed glued to their stadium seating for the entire end scroll were, I'm assuming, those whose names were included in the myspace credits.

No, I was not one of those zillions of people listed. But I did sit through it all, cuz that's what I do.

Afterwards, I ducked into a nearby Denny's (alas, the only 24-hour well lit eatery within 40 miles of my small town) for a post-movie coffee and fruit compote dessert of some variety.

I chose a booth within earshot of one populated by a micro-herd of young Okie counter-urban turks who by my accounts, were looking for some nourishment before heading home for a late night snack. Their conversation was rude, crude, lewd, and completely adolescent male in tonality and texture.

I was all ears.

They talked of girls and cars and girls and trucks and classes and homework and girls and money.

Finally the conversation took an interesting turn when the topic of where a particular individual was getting all the money he was spending. My back was to them, so I couldn't tell who was saying what, but here's the gist of what I heard...I have a settlement.
Oh yeah, me too.
I was in an accident when I was about 5.
You know Brandon had a farm accident when he was about 10 and he's gone through most of it now.
What'd he do, blow it on a bunch of shit?
Yeah, he bought a new truck, then wrecked it, got a new house for his Mom, got his sister a Trans-Am, and a bunch of furniture for his place.
What's your settlement for?
Tractor wreck.
Structured or you get it all in one big wad?
Structured. Got another 4-years left on it.
That's why he always pays.
Bunch of moochers.
The average age of these young kids was about 19, give or take a few years. I felt like handing my bill over the booth and offering to let one of the settlement kids cover it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Clouds as Drama Queen

If I were a cloud and wanted to be a drama queen, I'd float on over to Oklahoma, put on this face and flaunt it to the world, honey.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Digging for crystals in the salty mud

A few weekends ago our family went on a road trip to points unknown (at least to us) in search of selenite crystals.

The great expanse known as the Great Salt Plains in NW Oklahoma was where we got our dig on and ended up hunting the unique to Oklahoma hourglass crystals.

C has inherited my wife's utter fascination for digging up buried treasures of any kind, so off they went to find an area undug by human hands, hoping to find larger and higher quality crystals. They ended up with a mason jar full of them in all shapes, conditions and sizes.

I stayed behind with the picnic blanket and observed my 3-year old's passion for sitting in holes dug by other rock hounds that were filled with muddy water.

The weather was warm, but not hot. The breeze was welcoming and cooling. The doting clouds would hang around long enough to provide shade from the sun in long intervals. The other families around us were pleasant and enthusiastic and there was an unusual absence of flying insects. Hard to imagine an outdoor picnic in Oklahoma without the requisite flies invading your turf, but there we were and there they weren't. Flies don't like salt, I imagine.

It took almost 6 pint bottles of Ozarka water that we keep in the trunk of the car to get all the mud off of PK. But clean she was as she settled into her car seat for the drive home.

BTW, further research into the holistic properties on selenite crystals turned up the following:SELENITE is a form of Gypsum which is a great companion stone for those who are in pursuit of "material gains" especially in the business realm. Selenite is also a wonderful tool for those who are seeking access to past or present lives in order to better understand the "lessons" in their lives.To quote Carl Spackler from Caddyshack..."so I got that going for me...which is nice."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Drinking Arnie

My Father-in-law thinks golf is a waste of time.

I totally agree with him. However, anyone who plays golf knows how addicting it is and how much fun it CAN be to play. Also, quoting lines from Caddyshack, Happy Gilmore, and Tin Cup for 18-holes with some buddies while watchng for the beer cart girl is pretty much a perfect day.

He won't even consider watching golf on TV, groaning out loud if he happens to stumble upon the Golf Channel while channel surfing. Strangely, he will stop everthing he's doing to watch Tiger hit a drive, chip onto a green, or make a 25-footer for a birdie. He must appreciate the art of the sport.

But, I digress.

My F-i-l was born and has lived in the same town in Oklahoma for all 66-years of his life. He married his high school sweetheart, has farmed, ranched, overhauled Ford motors, and ran a manufacturing facility that spanned four city blocks and employed over 5000 people.

Umm, what does this have to do with golf?

My F-i-l didn't graduate from a big university. Instead he's got several advanced degrees from the School of Life, Experience and-Do-It-Yourself. Even though he circumvented the higher educational system to get ahead, he put enough value in education to put his three kids through college, and one through grad school.

Hello, golf relative reference coming soon?

The other day we were working on the bannister (which he made, turning each riser by hand), chair rail and wainscoating that we're installing on our staircase. Some of the angle cuts were pretty tricky and when he got one dead on perfect, he muttered, "even a blind pig finds an 'a-kern' every now and again."

I don't know who was more tickled. Me, reacting to the down-hominess of his phrasology, or him, getting a chuckle out of me getting such a tickle from something he said.

So, what does any of this have to do with golf?

Well, later that same day, I cooked him up some lunch and mixed up an Arnold Palmer for him to drink.

From what I could gather, he had never had one before, never heard of one before, never dreamt in his wildest Okie-born-and-raised dreams that he would be drinking and enjoying a 50/50 mixture of lemonade and iced tea named after one of the greatest golfers ever to play the sport.

I told him that next time I play golf, and make a good, long par-making putt, while my partners are telling me "good putt," "nice putt," and "nice par," I'm going to just casually mutter, "even a blind pig finds an 'a-kern' every now and again."

We both had a good chuckle.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cherokee Strip, parade

Last weekend we took the girls up to Enid to partake in the festivities of an event dubbed the Cherokee Strip Days Celebration

There was a parade, an outdoor festival of sorts, and a host of other activities related to the Cherokee Strip Land run of 1893.

During this parade my suburbanite brain matter produced two questions, the answers of which may or may not be general knowledge to natural born citizens of the Cherokee Strip. But I brought along pictures to help me clarify the details of my questions.

Here goes.

Did all Cowboys riding the range have to have their cowboy hats held onto their heads by an adult chaperone or similar person with available appendages?

At what point in my life here in the open prairie am I ever going to see a herd of longhorns being "yee-hawed" and "whup-wheed" down a city street and not be on my feet, ready to turn tail and scurry up the nearest tall lamp pole?

"Yippee, tai, yai, yeah, git' along, little doggies..." Not to be argumentative, but there ain't nothing "little" about these doggies.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blue and Gold

No, I'm not going to talk about my grad school alma mater (whose school colors are blue and gold and whose football team is 2 - 0, but not for much longer).

This blog entry is about sausage for sale.

Apparently, at only one time during the year, non-card carrying members of PETA can buy sausages and other animal products from a smiling FFA member. Future Farmers of America, to you and me.

Why blue and gold sausage?

Those happen to be the "flag" of what is an amazingly large group of agricultural gang bangers out here in America's Heartland.

I know, I know, FFA is everywhere, even in So Cal. But as I recall, the FFA kids who were showing their livestock at the most recent LA County Fair I attended, looked more like Fergie donning her London Bridge gear. A far cry from these FFA'ers posing with their beloved sausages in this recent newspaper clipping from our local paper.

C'mon. If you're going to clog your arteries and summon congestive heart failure at a rapid rate, why not do so with some pork products culled from the finest of the fine, bestest of the best livestock that the farmers of our future took home the blue ribbons for.

Put me down for several sausage logs and a couple pounds of bacon, please.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A small town county fair...Part Deux

More pictures and musings from our recent small town county fair...

Yes, the gun collage is exciting, as is the horse collage, the batik tee-shirts, and the Peterbilt drawing. But check out the cubist face painting in the lower right hand side of the picture.
Inspired me to get nude and descend a staircase.

That's my hand holding a handful of wheat. I've never felt closer to the land than at that moment.
Made me hungry for a pimento cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread.

Day old pie never looked so good. Is there anything better than a homemade pie crust with enough butter to make a milk cow moo with delight?
Gave me a hankering for a hot cup of joe drunk from a thick, white, ceramic mug.

Nothing against the selection at our local grocery store, but these 4H kiddies grew some kick a*s looking veggies.
Enticed the closet vegetarian in me to forego that SlimJim that was sitting on my ear as a snack for later.

The last time I sewed was when I used a roll of duct tape to put the hem up on a pair of slacks I needed for a job interview. Wonder if they have a sewing category for non-needle and thread construction?
Reminded me that I had to sew on a button onto one of PK's dresses.

In conclusion...
C won a red ribbon (2nd prize) for her acrylic on canvas entry.

She was disappointed in not getting either a blue ribbon, or the purple Grand Champion ribbon. She vowed to enter many more paintings next year to assure her a better chance at that coveted purple ribbon.

Donations for canvas and paint expenses will be gladly accepted.

Friday, September 15, 2006

iPod of a different color

For the last several weeks since the girl's school bells have begun to toll for them at 8:10 a.m., I've been taking some steps to get some morning cardio activity that didn't involve hoisting laundry up and down the stairs.

4379 steps to be precise.

My 35-40 minute walk takes me along a recently completed walking trail, the creation of which is due to the efforts of the non-profit organization on whose board of directors I sit.

I not only talk the talk, I walk the walk. Figure if the people responsible for the walking trails don't even use them, what example are we setting for the good folk of our town that we built the trails for.

My 8:20 a.m. journey begins at the east end of the Baptist Church parking lot, where I leave my car. As with most Baptist Churches in this part of the country, this one has acres and acres of free parking.

More than our WalMart.
More than our high school football stadium.
More than Area 51's Alien Parking Only lot.

It isn't long before my steps start taking on the rhythmic beat of a marching band....literally. See, the walking path takes me directly adjacent to the field where our high school marching band (30 strong) is currently practicing a medley of patriotic tunes.

"Oh beautiful, for spacious skies..."

"Good morning" I say to the lady I've labeled as "Mavis Beacon teaches typing," since she reminds me of a caucasian version of the woman who graced the shrinkwrapped box of the popular learn-to-type computer software. Mavis sports a 1st gen iPod shuffle.

"...what so proudly we hail, at the twilights last gleaming...."

"Great morning, isn't it?" is how I greet "Lady Lone Wolf and Cub" named for the popular manga series. Momma has Apple Earbuds hooked to what I can only conclude is an iPod, but it's tucked away neatly into the jogger stroller that carries her 3-year old.

"...stand beside her, and guide her, thru the night with a light from above..."

"Glad it finally cooled down some..." pops out of my mouth to the elderly woman I've come to know as "Pinky" due to the pink iPod Nano she listens to while stroling along the same path.

35-40 minutes later, I'm getting in my car, wiping away whatever sweat has accumulated on my brow and watching my own private red, white, and blue iPod march off to whichever classes the band members have picked for 2nd period.

I'll be back tomorrow as I'm sure they'll be too. They need the practice as much as I need the exercise.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ode to a cinnamon roll

The 100th version of the State Fair of Oklahoma starts this week, and from the amount of media coverage this event receives, one might venture to say that it's a "right big deal."

But that's not what this blog entry is about.

I occassionally have breakfast in a little joint a few miles down the road that sells some very delectable cinnamon rolls. For those who will not venture this far into the depths of central OK, the bakers make fresh batches of the Princess Leia-hairbun-shaped pastries daily to sell at their booth in the "Made in Oklahoma" building during the run of the State Fair.

While the town where this family run cinnamon roll roadside eatery resides is better known for it's combination ancient bar/fried chicken establishment, the hot joe, folksy servers, amusing regular clientele and of course, the sticky-gooey-cardiac-arresting buns, made it an instant hit with me.

The main dining room is big and spacious, with privacy booths of little consequence, since regulars speak loud enough so that everyone in the joint can hear their stories of woe or whimsy. The pervasive scent of the utterly perverted warm and soft cinnamon rolls makes you wish for the metabolism of Lance Armstrong.

They also package a dozen or so rolls up into a tin tray, shrink wrap them, and sell them at a few fortunate grocery stores in the area.

I've eaten them out of the package.
Warmed either in the microwave, or by holding it under my armpit for a few minutes.
Good, but not quite a memorex experience.

I've eaten them at the Fair.
Good, but slightly smaller than the one's you'll get in their dining room and too many eyes are watching you at that venue to make for a comforting culinary experience.

And, I've eaten them at their restaurant.
With a nice size cup of decaf, a shiny fork and slightly dented but entirely useable knife.

It was better.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Those snappin' fingers

Yesterday I was sitting in a car with PK, my 3 1/2 year old, waiting in line to pick up C from school with a myriad of minvans, maxi trucks, and otherwordly human transport vehicles over 5000 lbs. GVW, when she asked me which finger makes the noise when you snap.

I brain-burped for a second, but remembered who I was and what I was doing on this planet, while formulating a reasonably sounding response that a 3 1/2 year old could grok.

I told her "both of them make the noise" with all the assurance and confidence that a male in his early 40's could and should muster.

Yet here I sit, late at night, examining my snappin' fingers in motion, wondering if in fact I was correct in my explanation.

Some mysteries were meant to remain mysteries.

Least I can tell her with unwavering aplomb that in my 12th year of life, it took me exactly 242 licks to get to the Tootsie roll center of a Tootsie pop.

Where's Joe Pesci when you need him

One of my favorite boobtube shows of the 90's was called Northern Exposure. It followed the adventures of a New York city born and bred doctor who must payback his med school loans by serving the citizens in a small town in Alaska.

A particularly memorable episode found the NY Doc feeling like he was losing his "hard city edge," forcing him to run down to the local video rental house to grab up any and all NY flicks he could find to help remind him from whence he had come. GoodFellas, The Godfather, Mean Streets, Woody Allen's Manhattan among others.

Like the good Dr. Fleischman, I know I've lost some of my city-fied edge since moving to my small town less than a year and a half ago.

I'm not as suspicious of people's intentions.
I'll make eye contact when walking down Main Street downtown.
Not everyone who says "hey" and "good morning" is looking for a way in to invade your privacy or space, or to separate me from my money.
When someone here comments about the weather, they're not just making light of the fact that the weather in LA hardly ever changes.

I was thinking which dvd's I need to keep in my library to remind me of whence I came and to help me "re-edge" myself so I don't get too complacent by this slower, safer, relaxed environment.

Here's a list I've started. It may grow.

LA Story - Utterly dated and utterly satiric, but like all good satire, therein lies the truth.
Swingers - I no longer use the Club on my car, but I do miss Pink Dot.
LA Confidential - How in the world did they fit those huge cars of the 40's down the narrow streets of the Melrose District.
The Fast and the Furious (2001) - Driving on the 10 is neither of those, unless you let the fast drivers and furious traffic get to you. Even then furious is really all you get.
The Big Lebowski - "Isn't that near that In-n-Out...boy those are some good burgers."
Pizza Man - A film I worked on that was written, directed, and produced by J.F. Lawton. The millions he made from his screenplay for "Pretty Woman" paid for it all....starring a young Bill Maher.
Chinatown - Did Los Angeles ever really look this cool?
Blade Runner - Will Los Angeles ever really look this cool?
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure - "Hello, San Dimas!"

I wonder what movies Okies who leave the state use to remind them of their home state/town?

Monday, September 11, 2006

A small town county fair...Part Uno

Some snapshots from our recent county fair....and my observations on them.

My long term goal is to clandestinely infiltrate the small society of folk who get to judge the eating portions of the fair competition, and invoke the judges right to claim whatever he tastes as their own for personal consumption. I'd be swimming in jams, jellies, and preserves. Hey, it could happen.

I don't know what category this collage of moo-cow photos falls under, but I was "udderly" transfixed by the multitude of angles one little girl could invoke to capture the comings and goings and sittings and standings and eatings of a single least I think it's a single cow. If I make the blanket statement that all light brown cows look to same to me, am I a bovine racist?

This all works for me. From the "How a Paintball works" full-color diagram, to the 4-outlet edison box, complete with heavy duty 3-prong grounded cable, I was thrilled to happen upon this display. Someone give that kid a blue ribbon...oh, someone did. Good. He/she deserved it.

I wonder if anyone would mind if they put these 10 Commandments up in a government courthouse or public building?

Forget robbing the local banking establishment. Grab a few of these handmade quilts and set up a vendor spot at the local swap meet. Ka-ching, ka-ching.

Stay tuned for another installment of....A small town county fair.

Friday, September 08, 2006

County Jr. Miss Scholarship Pageant

Last month, we attended our counties Jr. Miss Scholarship Contest.

We attended to cheer on a girl from our small town whom we know as a lifeguard at the local pool, the girl who mows our next door neighbor's lawn (for free), and as one of the friendly and helpful teens at C's Wednesday night kiddie group gathering at the Nazarene.

The emotions generated by being at a scholarship pageant (not called a beauty pageant, even here in the heartland of all places) harkens back to my wife's family's keen interest and living room ritual of religiously watching every Miss America pageant that's been televised since 1967.

The girls seemed to enjoy the spectacle on the high school stage, complete with cardboard cut-out props and streamers for decorations.

The girls on stage aerobicized (fitness evaluation), strutted in long gowns (poise evaluation) and answered existential questions of little meaning to a teenager, but that I found to be rather thought provoking.

The big finale was the talent competition. It was at this point that I picked the winner, hands down, no question about it.

The contestant performing a modern dance routine drew little applause. I thought she was bold to attempt it at this venue.

The gospel singing contestent drew a little more applause. Playing the religious card - hard to go wrong with God.

The hip-hop dancing contestant drew whoops and hollars from the younger crowd. Others just scratched their heads.

The dramatic reading contestant drew stares the likes of which even the Elephant Man would ponder as rude. Gutsy and bold. I liked it.

Then the winner came out.

She was the one who donned a pair of red "Ariel-from-Footloose-"my Daddy hates these boots" cowboy boots, a rhinestone encrusted denim skirt, topped off with a red and white gingham top tied at the belly. She 2-stepped out onto the stage and came out singing "I wanna grow up to be a cowboy" to which the audience stomped their feet, clapped their hands, and just about threw a hoedown right there in the high school auditorium.

You could feel the audience turn with every sh*t-kickin', boot-stompin', cowboy hat wavin' step.

In the end, our girl didn't win (she was 2nd runner up), but I'm sure C learned some valuable life lessons from the evening.

I'm sure of it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lunch lady loses learners loot, leaves lunchers in a lurch

We received a notice from the lunch lady at C's school that they suffered a computer crash and had lost all traces of recent payments made for students lunches.

Considering that school had only been in session for 2-weeks, I figured, how bad could it be?

Surely they back the database file up regularly.
Surely the have some sort of redundancy in the filing system.
Surely they print out daily hardcopies of at least the summary totals of the days lunch money receipts.

Three strikes, dude. And don't call me Shirley.

This antiquated system was running on an old pre-Pentium 486 chipped Windoze 3.1 machine. They had had crashes before, "but not like this," I was told.

The database file was apparently intact and saved on a floppy (whew!), but they didn't have another machine with the proprietary software loaded to access the file.

Floppies. Remember those. Don't some Windoze machines still use 'em? How retro is that?
But I digress.

For now, they're going back to a more traditional method of keeping track of things -- a log book with every students name and total, updated daily.

I've been informed that a new, modern, plasti-card with code stripe system has been ordered, which will not only allow the student's lunch transactions to be traced, but will also keep track of those pesky little milk money purchases set aside for nutrition break.

A small price to pay for keeping track of all our kiddies mac and cheese casseroles, circus dogs, and bar-b-q riblet on a sticks.

That's some guuuud, eatin' now.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New purchase at the local drug store

Forget e-ticket rides at Disneyland or an IMAX-3D movie in Sensurround or a quick jaunt around the block on the new 4-wheeled Segway's.

The attraction that has the people I shop with lining up around the block -- okay, aisle -- is this little wonder of science combining the fun of masochism and joys of health monitoring.

I kid you not. People of all ages, creeds, religions, and shopping cart levels can be seen lining up at these little wonders at every one of the WalMart Supercenters, CVS Pharmacies and Walgreens closest to me.

The other day, while sitting at my local drugstore lunch counter, I jokingly mentioned to the Druggist/Owner that perhaps he should purchase one of those automatic blood pressure devices to increase customer traffic to his establishment.

He took no time or effort in presenting me with stacks upon stacks of brochures, sales flyers, and reading material related to purchasing such a device and wanted to get my opinion on which one he should order, me being a "computer guys of sorts."

I don't know anything about these devices other than my 6-year old always begs me to "try it" whenever she spies one with an empty armhole.

Alas, I told him what any self-respecting Mac user would tell someone looking for advice on a computer controlled device.

Don't buy the one that runs on Windoze.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sideways Oklahoma

Before you non-Okie's (and resident Okie's for that matter), guffaw and chortle at the thought of there being a thriving and increasingly popular wine growing/making industry here in the land of the red man, know that there were over 5000 acres of vineyards planted around the time of statehood (1907).

Prohibition killed the industry, and it wasn't until the 1980's that the current resurgence in grape vine croppery took root.

I'm not a wino. I'm not a oenophile. I liked the movie Sideways because it was sorta funny and I went to film school with the guy who directed it.

But I am encouraged by the fact that bottle and bottle of award-winning fermented grape juice is coming out of my adopted state.

Cut the cheese, slice the sourdough, pop the cork, let it breath and let the Festivus for the restofus begin.


Friday, September 01, 2006

The world at an angle

I don't know how my daughter is doing it, but she's putting an angle on the world through the lens of her cheapy-Taiwan-made-digital-camera.

I love these pictures. Just wish I knew what combination of movement/light/optically unclear lens glass/and space time continuum shift she's using to get them.