Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Nearing the end of summer road trip - part 2

Where were we...oh yeah, heading into downtown Davis, Oklahoma...

S had been in Davis before on work related business, so we knew exactly where we were headed for some family fillin' consumables.

Located smack dab in the center of the main drag through town, the Las Cascadas restaurant was light, airy and inviting. The menu offered a few things that surprised me, but (surprise!) I ordered my favorite craving from the old country (East Los Angeles) - tacos al pastor, aka. street tacos.

Mini corn tortillas, mini-chopped and thinly sliced pork, mini-diced onions and cilantro all served as a trio on a plate as large as the chrome air cleaner on my El Camino's small block.

Rating on our Indigest-O-Meter for Las Cascadas on a scale of 0 - 4 burning hearts (one for each member of my family), we gave Las Cascadas a 0, since no one got sick or woozy after our meal. Salud!

Downtown Davis has an interesting selection of main street businesses including several eclectic B&B's -- one of which had a swinging espresso/kafe klatch bar downstairs.

Full stomachs and a few trips up and down the aisles of an antique consignment shop provided the bearings we needed to get to our destination for the next three nights -- a solitudinous cabin in the Chickasaw Recreation Area, known as the "Peaceful Valley of Rippling Waters."

We had booked our single room cabin online and were pleasantly surprised at the pristine condition and sanitary feel of the cement foundationed, fully insulated, log covered structure.

A queen bed for the big people, futon sofa bed for the girls. Fireplace, central heat and air, fans aplenty, full kitchen and bath, and even a gas cooker on the wooden porch to 'q by if we were so inclined.

The main focus of the shack for the girls was the firepit in the front area -- they had been promised a vacation that included a roaring campfire with roasted marshmallows, family singalongs, and poking-a-stick-in-the-fire fun, and nothing was going to detract their atttention from those activities.

Such city girls.

Unfortunately, there was an extreme shortage of collectible firewood within walking distance of our cabin, so with the pinky promise that we would find a suitable proprietor of the "good burning stuff" the following day, we ventured into nearby Sulphur for a sit down dinner at an eatery conspicuously called OJ's Chili Creek Grill.

The digs were fine and the food was above edible, but the key word for this meal was "edible pets."

See, we happened to arrive on their seafood buffet night. Atop an 8000 foot long, 15 year-old well worn canoe sat a fresh seafood selection on ice, that included oysters (fresh?), peel and eat shrimp, imitation crab salad, fresh fruit (?), and crab legs.

The cooked item buffet line included a wide assortment of breaded/fried offerings, including catfish, frogs legs, shrimp, oysters and clams, along with some friendly looking crawdads at the end of the line.

I've had frog legs and to be honest, I prefer them breaded and deep fried. Helps with the gag reflex, so that's no biggie for me to see on the buffet line. The crawdads, however, stopped my wife cold in her gastrointestinal tracks.

When she was a kid, a favorite activity for her and her brothers was to grab a piece of bacon from the meat drawer in her Mom's mustard yellow Frigidaire, tie it at the end of some unused kite string and head on down to the creek in the "boonies" section of her small town. Once there, they would "fish" for crawdads (crayfish for you city folk), paint their initials on their exoskeletons, play with them for awhile, then let them go back into the creek.

Crawdads were pets. And here in America, we don't eat our pets.

So, as much as C begged and pleaded for us to get the all-u-can-stuff-in-your-already-stretched-OU-tee-shirt buffet, we opted for other menu selections.

Later that night, while "listening" to the 19" tv supplied in the cabin (the only station we could get on the aerials was a radio station -- go figure), and watching the girls wrap and unwrap themselves in the light sheets on the futon sleeper, Wifey concluded that it was a mistake to deny the esculant experience of eating the bright red muscular miniscule crustaceans to our daughter.

She may have hated it, spitting out the contents of the arthropod into her napkin and desperately reaching for the glass of lowfat milk on the table, but at least she wouldn't have been denied her impluse to try new things - one which we are constantly encouraging her to foster.

Next up, fried pies for breakfast and why we'll never be able to find all of the wild animal food pellets that spilled in our car.

Monday, July 30, 2007

It's all about the Benjamin's

I'm not sure I'd be all that comfortable with my neighbors and friends knowing what my annual salary was, but if you're an employee of my small town, you have no choice.

This was published on the front page of our small town newsrag the other day -- accompaning an article on a new plan that's bringing raises across the board.

Enjoy...and rest easy knowing that the Hilton siblings probably spend more on a weeks worth of underwear than our city spends every year on it's entire salaried roster.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Poor Jud is 'Daid and the Boy Who Lived

Like a dozen other communities around this state, my small town received a grant from the State Centennial Committee to fund a performance of what is arguably the greatest musical of all time...say it with me now....O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A...Oooooooooo-klahoma!

We're about as far off-Broadway as you can get, and the only stage/auditorium in town is at the old recently abandoned high school/middle school. However the good folks involved in the production are doing their darndest to put on a good show and with only a few days left until showtime, the rehearsals are starting to get that frenetically excited feel to them.

Since C wanted to participate in some way when we told her about it, we took her to the chorus auditions. She barely managed to squeek out a note or two, and since the Play runners were taking just about anyone who showed up for auditions, we found our 2nd grader playing the part of a pioneer girl in the roving chorus of the show.

Rehearsals have been Sunday afternoons for the last month or so, and stage rehearsals have been going over for several weeks.

C seems to be enjoying herself since several of her friends have joined her in the chorus, PK loves running around the auditorium during rehearsals and pretending that she herself is "Laurie" whenever the pretty young coed who is playing the surrey-with-the-fringe-on-top riding girl takes the stage.

And I have been taking advantage of the semi-alone time to read Harry Potter #7.

After many stolen moments in the drive-up line at Sonic, in the parking lot waiting to pick up Wifey's car from the mechanic (100K mile service), on the throne at home (ahem), one late night marathon session and three 3-hour play rehearsals later, I finished the 700+ page tome.

It was after 10 p.m. and the cast looked as drained physically as I was emotionally, after reading the final 100 pages of the Deathly Hallows.

In a perfectly iconically ironic literary moment, I found myself reading the "19-years later" epilogue at the close of the book as the cast was singing the final stanzas of the final song of the play,"Oh what a beautiful morning," on stage (you know you know the words...go ahead and sing it).

Have to add that wherever and whenever I was out in public reading the book, somebody commented to me about it -- "How's THE book?", "What part are you up to?", "I finished it yesterday," "I had to get two copies because I couldn't wait for my daughter to finish it," etc., etc.

How's that for pop culture product awareness.

Finally, I must comment on a previous post wherein I listed a few predictions of the outcome of the 7th and final installment of the Harry Potter series. Toes to toes I was 2.5 for 8 in my predictions. Not good enough to be inducted into the Harry Potter Fanboy Hall of Fame, I'm afraid.

Which, could be a good thing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Nearing the end of summer road trip

I've heard bad mojo about the I-35 highway and the high crime rate that borders the lengthly corridor since moving to my small Oklahoma town several years ago.

It seems to be one of the most disliked stretches of road in the state, not only for the high incidences of drug/illegal immigrant trafficking, but for the poor state of the actual roadway itself.

Perhaps the fact that the I-35 will carry unsuspecting Okie travelers into the heart of the state occupied by the "mostly" undesirable breed of American known as Texan's has something to do with it.

Hey, Texan's -- don't blame me for that last bit of sarcasm...I'm just an outside observer here. Remember, I'm from California and to my public educated mind, U.S. Geography lessons usually stopped at the California border.

So, with the groundwork set for our final family truckster trip of the summer, we decided to brave this mostly 4-lane stretch of cement and asphalt and head on down to the southern environs of our panhandled state for some family R&R.

We left on Friday, after PK's final swim lesson of her 2-week session, and C's final day of Summer Kid's College at a local community college. Tae Kwon Do, advanced tumbling and Varietal Art were all a hit, but she was now ready to live a few days of unstructured family unit bliss.

First stop was the town of Paul's Valley for a few hours of Daddy indulgement at the Action Figure and Toy Museum, centrally located on the town's very quaint, red brick paved main street.

As much as I dug the trip back to childhood (okay, my adulthood is occupied by a few of the fantasy items in the museum...just a few) the whole time I was there I was thinking how cool it would have been to be sharing the experience with my big brother, who has amassed quite an impressive collection of Action Figures himself.

Every so often, my oldest would yell out, "Hey, doesn't Uncle Brian have one of those?" -- to which I would just smile and reply, "Yep, but I think he's got two of them...one still in the bubble pack and one in his display case."

Perhaps if we all float some comments his way, dear bro will send along some pics of his impressive collection.

Before we scooted out of the lovely little town named after American Pioneer Smith Paul, we partook of a yummy old-fashion root beer float at an ancient use-to-be-a-car-hoppin'-drive-up joint in downtown called the Dairy Twist.

I'm not sure what the many locals who were stool sittin' at the counter in the itty bitty eatery thought of my little ethnic family unit, but the smiles the girls generated from those nearby us as they engorged themselves on the frothy frozen treats were unspoken and honest to goodness.

Our sweet teeth satisfied and mindsets finally starting to jibe with the fact that we were actually on a vacation, we piled into the 42-mpg truckster (highway) and aimed directly south for Davis, Oklahoma and a hearty supper filled with "cascading tacos."

to be continued...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sirens in the streets

Cruising the streets of my small town, you'll find a surprisingly resplendent number of folks behind the wheel of their vehicles who have embraced the technological advancements of interpersonal communication, mobile audio/visual entertainment and data storage/retrieval.

At any given time a well-wheeled woman in a late model Town Car will drive by sporting the latest Uhura-inspired Bluetooth cell phone ear bob.

Pre-adult minded citizens will bounce by, testing the limits of their amps and subwoofers hidden in the bowels of their pick-em up trucks, Pontiac GrandAm's and Dodge Neon's.

Soccer Mom's pulling a livestock trailer with their offspring's blue-ribbon winning pigs, sheep, cows and goats keep in constant contact via flip-up cell phones.

Teens pulling out of the parking lot at the shaved iced stand are text messaging good natured insults to their buddies a few blocks away who are pulling into the Sonic Drive-In.

Ankle-biters enter the third row seat zoned-out squad, absorbing the comic genius musings of the SpongeBob DVD playing on the 9" lcd monitor in the center console of their folk's Explorer.

IPod's are spitting out 0's and 1's in melodious form, ring tones from the Flaming Lips and Toby Keith are being downloaded and programmed into Razr phones and directions to Mrs. Whipple's Grandma's farm about 7 miles northeast of town are being patiently and politely narrated from a Lexus LS430's in-dash GPS system.

Yet with all these high tech hubbub happenings, the lone siren and flashing lights atop a speeding ambulance, somehow finds it's way through the electronic static surrounding the drivers of my small town.

And they pull over.
Without hesitation.
Every last one of them.
I've witnessed it time and time again.
People here just pull over.

No excuses are made. No "I didn't hear it," or "I couldn't hear it over my stereo," or "No one else moved, so why should I," or "I don't understand English," or "I panicked and didn't know what to do," or "The ambulance was in the other lane," or "It was going in the other direction, so I don't have to pull over, do I?"

Everyone on the road just pulls over.

And they stay pulled over for what seems to me to be a very long time. Folks here seem to take what I've deemed a "grace" period -- sort of paying respect for the person traveling in the back of the ambulance.You mean folks where y'all'ur from don't pull over when they hear a siren coming?...asks the young Firefighter sitting next to me at the wi-fi equipped Main Street coffee shop where we're discussing the topic of this blog entry.I once saw a woman roll down her window and give the one finger salute to an ambulance that had pulled up behind her and was wanting to get past," I tell him.That happen here, I 'd get their license plate down, find out who they were and call their Mama out on them...that'll learn 'em" he retorts.Indeed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

500 posts

Seeing as how this blog was originally intended as a journal of sorts to bequeath to my beloved daughters at some future time, I'm taking the milestone of my 500th post to look back, sort through, collate, edit and collect the most relevant of the last 2+ years of posting for self-publishing into hardback book form.

I've found several online sites that allow and encourage such madness, my chosen one at the moment being lulu.com.

I know that a good portion of the readers of YASTM are blogger themselves, and I encourage you all to do the same at some point in your blogosphere journey.

While I may be placing much to much emphasis and importance on the role that my miscellaneous remblings will play in the future eyes of my daughter's and their families, thinking that someday, in a galaxy far, far, away, a descendant of mine gets a chuckle at something that I wrote, makes me smile for doing so.

Out of the e world and onto the printed page -- the journey will most definitely continue.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Remember those cheesy mix tapes you'd make for your gf/bf?

At first glance I dismissed the shiny round and flat object laying in the grass as another escapee from the trash truck that rumbled down Main Street to the dump just north of town earlier in the A.M.

But when Franny and I passed it again at the tail end of our morning walk, the 15 minutes of walking the pooch had found my mind filled with thoughts of the discarded CD and the possibilities contained therein.Could be a dvd copy of the the 1982 version of Annie starring where-is-she-now actress, Aileen Quinn.

Possibly, it was a security encoded disc containing the launch codes to the ICBM's sitting in the launch silos disguised as grain elevators just north of town.

More than likely it was a music CD of some stray Country Western band that I'd recognize as easily as that girl I knew in 5th grade who used to like to rub my crew cut during class while I threaded the film projector.
Regardless, since my curiosity could be easily satiated by a quick pickup, cleaning, and insertion of the shiny digital disc into my laptop, it was a no-brainer.

Oh, and there's no way I would have attempted springing this alien cd onto any peecee running any version of Windoze, whereas I felt totally confident sticking this plastic media of unknown origin into my Mac OSX runner. Reason # 1492 why I am a Mac guy.

A few "haaah-haaah's" of breath for moisture, my tee-shirt and fingers as cleaning instruments, a quick check for any gnarly surface scratches and the cd that was only minutes before high tech road kill, found it's way into my laptops SuperDrive.

The disc mounted, iTunes launched and what I found was an unusual, and surprisingly eclectic collection of songs -- none of which were in my current digital music library I might add, so score on that front.

Listen to the short collage I put together of the songs on the CD, and confirm for me that this would be the absolute LAST collection of songs you would expect to find on a mix (tape) CD that was sniffed out and recovered from a rural Oklahoma roadside.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

If the Palace Flophouse Boys had SUVs

A wave of frantic, frustrated frogs, big ones, little ones, brown ones, green ones, men frogs and women frogs, a wave of them broke over the bank, crawled, leaped, scrambled...

...But never in the frog history had such an execution taken place.
John Steinbeck, Cannery RowSteinbeck's tale of Doc, Mack, Hazel, Dora, and of course, Lee Chong on the street in Monterey named for the industry surrounding a small, oily fish is one of my favorite books of all time. I've read the short novel (and it's sequel of sorts, Sweet Thursday) at least once a year for the last 20 years.

True, I'm a fan of Steinbeck's other works, but his tales from the "Row" will be one of the few books I'll be cremated with at the end of days.

In my small town there is a large, recently constructed and brightly lit locally owned bank that sits on the main drag through the city.

Dominating the more than ample parking area is a multi-lane drive-up teller service area, completely protected from bad weather elements, with nightime lighting provided by what must be banks upon banks of daylight balanced xenon bulbed tunnel light fixtures -- ultra secure for a late night ATM withdrawal, or drive-up window transaction during a white-out snow storm.

But in the wilds of a rural Oklahoma small town in the heat and humidity of a steamy July night, these same beacons of brightness and safe-and-soundness draw the entire varmint food chain from miles around.

Little bugs bring the big bugs. Big bugs bring the slimy and slithery beasties, which bring the furry critters at the top of the varmint food pyramid -- most of which possess the survival instincts to dash away home at the first sign of a Dodge Durango rolling on 20's and looking for a quick pull of a pair of Jackson's from the auto money machine.

Not the frogs again!

After a busy Friday night at the banks drive-up ATM, the toady carnage remaining in the driving paths leading up to and away from the cash machine robot is enough to swear off nutritional ingestion of any kind for a good day or two.

What the frogs and toads must think of this killing field, or why they keep allowing themselves to be lured into this rotating wheel of deep tread radial death is beyond me.

So, I turn to Steinbeck for answers, for it has been awhile since I visited the "Row."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Death by shoveling

One of the strongest men I've ever met was my wife's Mom's Uncle, Everett Smith.

He was a 4th generation Oklahoma farmer made of the kind of stock that worked his land and livestock, literally til the day he died.

I met him back in '89 while we were scouting locations for a project -- we ended up using his land and an empty house on his property.

Everett was a towering figure, appropriately dressed in dirty denim overalls that barely covered his 6'6" frame. Other than his height, he was unremarkable in terms of shirt popping Schwarzenegger musculature. Nope, Everett's strength was of the sinewy, muscle-to-bone variety, wrought not from flourescent lighted gym memberships, but from the daily workouts of "just doin' chores," as he once put it.

Hay bales that took the entire 200+ lbs. of my bulky-not-quite-done-with-my-baby-fat body weight to move, were whispers in the wind to Everett. While I attempted to help him unload a trailer full of bundled and dried alfalfa stalks -- struggling to pull the sneeze inducing rectangular objects off the back and down the ramp, the Farmer Smith would heft the bales up, out, and over the side of the trailers walls with a single arm, all the while telling me a tale of when his little brother once found himself outside in the cool evening breeze, without clothes and a clue to how he got there -- apparently sleepwalking runs deep in his family's genes.

Once the trailer was unloaded, while rubbing my arms rendered almost inoperable by the 3 or 4 hay bales I managed to offload, Everett unlatched and pulled the trailer off to the side of a building, never flinching or stumbling for a second.

Later I went back to see if I could handle the rusty red painted trailer that the old famer in his 70's had bandied about like a Tonka toy. Mid-way through my first attempt and the third or fourth popping noise I heard/felt way down low, I stopped, thinking that getting surgery for multiple hernias was no way for a man in his mid-20's to spend his wonder years.

Everett died over a decade ago, several months after his beloved one-and-only wife, Jane Anne, lost her battle with Alzheimer's. I hadn't thought of the gentle man with the mighty forearms in quite some time, however a recent foray out into the jungle that is my backyard, fired a neuron or two in my brain, triggering a memory of the gentleman farmer and his casual method of pest control that I witnessed one fine, summer afternoon.

The unusual through-the-summer rain and steady Oklahoma sun have given rise to an almost mutant-like growth pattern to the grassy environs of my yard. Grass and weeds that were normally controllable with a once weekly dosage of whacking and mowing are now hooked on a twice a week fix, testing both my patience and lawn maintenace equipment.

The wetter than wet weather has also given rise to the local toad/frog population, as evidenced by the surprising scattering of the small bounding amphibians whenever approaching an overgrown area of the yard.

Suffice it to say, the casualty rate of the slick adult polywogs has increased numerically with their upswing in population totals. Many have fallen prey to curious yard animals, domestic pets attempting to get in touch with their feral personas, SUV deep tread radials, and the occasional swooping hawk on the lookout for a slippery snack.

Then there are the amphibious casualties resulting from my small town's war of the overgrown lawn and garden. Whose to say how many hoppers have fallen prey to the sharpened swing blades of a self-powered push mower, or a 23 HP John Deere zero-turn radius grass biteN'bagger.

The carnage on my own homefront involved some deep shag bermuda, my bright orange and black electric powered GrassHog, and a covey of thumb sized toads who mistaken followed their instincts to hop away from my footsteps and directly into the whirling death of nylon at the end of my weed whacker.

I'm slightly ashamed to say (only slightly, I am a guy afterall) that it took several seconds of this froggy massacre to realize what was happening, another several seconds to decide my best course of action, and a few seconds after that to pry my finger off the whacking instruments trigger.

Enter Farmer Everett, stage right, directly into my memory.We were walking and talking and heading into a small silo consructed of corrugated metal and rivets. Everett carried a flat nosed shovel which I figured he was going to use to remove some of the feed grain that he informed me was stored inside the inverted funnel shaped structure.

As we entered the building, peeling the doorway open and allowing daylight to rush past us, Everett calmly raised the shovel to hip level and started...slamming it down on the dozen or so mice that were scurrying about the dull yellow grain.


It was a farm version of whack-a-mouse with the prize going to the 3 or 4 cats who had seen us enter the silo and were now gathered outside the door, smacking their lips and awaiting their treats of flattened but still slightly fluttering mouse flapjacks.

As Everett would smack a mouse, in a single elegant motion that even the best fry cook at Jimmy's Egg would envy, he'd scoop it up and toss it out the door. I quickly jumped out of the way, lest I get a freshly shovel squashed rodent on my freshly laundered Polo pullover.

The carnage was chaotic, but Everett was cool, calm and collected. Just another chore, after all.
What was just another "chore around the farm" for Everett became a "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore" moment for me -- totally lost to my memory until the the other day when I was doing "chores around my own farm."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Spock dies!

When Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was released, my friends and I were the first in line for the coveted 7:55 p.m. showing at the AVCO Center Cinema in Westwood, California. While the second chapter of the film series based on the 60's tv space drama had an earlier screening, anyone who was anyone (at least in our adolescent minds) avoided the early shows and held out for a seat during the coveted post-drive time showing.

My brother and his friends took in the earlier showing, choosing instead to forego the "happening" screening for the opportunity to see it before anyone else.

After geeking out on all things Trek-like for several hours, and basking in the self-deluding glow of being the first Spockeroonies in line for the "popular" screening, the anticipation level has risen to a warp drive pitch.

This was in the days before movie spoilers and leaked scripts would appear on the internet, and story super secrecy at the studios was status quo. All the better to enjoy a much loved tv-show franchise flick.

Finally, the time came for the "non-persons" in the 5:35 p.m. to start filing out of the theater, thankfully at the opposite end of the sidewalk, lest the wind accidentally carries some important tidbit of Wrath of Khan movie trivia to our Vulcan pinched ears.

In all the excitement of the pre-entrance commotion, not one of our group noticed the grinning face poking his head out of the door in which we were about to enter the auditorium.

Oh, the horror. It was my brother -- one of the non-persons from the earlier showing.

Unlike the rest of his fellow 5:35 p.m. herd, he broke the ranks, broke opening-night-movie etiquette, and broke the misplaced but dedicated spirits of the dozen or so fellow line-standers surrounding us, by yelling out from around the slightly opened glass door, "Spock dies!"

Sure, we chuckle about it now, but at the time, the groans and jeers resounding from the surrounding crowd were enough to curl an Andorian's antenna and drive my brother into a joyfully satisfied warp drived mischevious shit-eating grin.

I bet he's grinning that same grin as he reads this post, aren't you Bro?

Which brings me to this very rare, weekend post that is completely off topic from the theme of my blog -- which is why it's being posted on my usual "blog-day-off." Since this blog is/was originally intended to act as a record of sorts for my daughters to have and keep long after I've left this world, I feel that including my thoughts on the following topic to be relevant...of sorts.

The 7th and final Harry Potter installment comes out in a week.

In preparation for this, I'm ready to reveal some of my own personal predictions for the outcome of the book. These predictions are based entirely on my own preferences and observations of the book series and in no way should be taken any more serious than the fact that Spock does die in ST2-TWoK, but comes back as funny as ever in the next two Star Trek movies, as well as appearances in the ST-TNG series.

So, why are my own personal predictions of the final HP chapter relevant from a record keeping perspective? As of this date, my oldest is 7 1/2 years old and has absolutely no interest in anything Harry Potter. As many times as I've told her that in a few years time she'll be pouring through the 500-900 page HP manifestos, she'll claim loudly and with all the fervor of a budding chapter book reader, that no Potter'd storybook will ever be held aloft in her muggle hands...okay, I added that last part, but you get the picture.

Therefore, on this, the veritably monumental eve of the release of the final printed appearance of the bespeckled wizard-in-training -- an event that I wish I could be sharing with my "not-ready-for-prime-time" literature daughter, I will put down on e-paper what I hope to someday be discussing with my beloved children when the time comes for them to be wondering what becomes of the Hogwarts crew in Book 7.

Non-HP readers/fans need not read any further. Go enjoy your weekend.Setup from Half-Blood Prince...
  • I believe that Snape killed Dumbledore to SAVE Malfoy. Dumbledore was not pleading for HIS life at the end of Half-Blood Prince...he was pleading for Snape to kill him instead of forcing Malfoy to do it. Snape is loyal to Dumbledore.

    The Deathly Hallows...
  • Neville manages to kill Beatrix, avenging his parents.
  • Harry, Ron, and Hermoine do away with Voldemort...or so they think.
  • Harry and Ginny get married, after Voldemort is THOUGHT to have been killed.
  • In the final battle with Voldemort, Ginny dies (taking the killing blow meant for Harry - much like his Mother did), but only before weakening Voldemort first, allowing Harry and Neville to deliver the killing blows.
  • Malfoy and Snape are instrumental in the final defeat of Voldemort.
  • Ron and Hermoine end up alive, and well, and together at last (duh).
  • Harry ends the book by walking the earth...like Kane in Kung Fu (okay, not really, but it would be funny).
  • Amazon will be delivering my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on it's release date, July 21st. You may not hear from me for a couple days after the 21st, depending on how long it takes me to read it and get on with my freakin' life already.

    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    Standin' on her own two little feet

    It started with C running out of the pool. She had a concerned look on her face and stopped short of getting me and the John Rain spy novel I was reading from getting soaked by chlorinated water dripping off of her head.Daddy, I'm gonna tell you something, but you can't get up.Okay, I say, wondering what it is she's about to tell me that will probably make me upset enough to stick a bookmark in my novel and rise from the wooden replica adirondack chair that I've been sitting in for the past hour.

    I love how kids tell stories in one long, run on sentence. Here was C's:
    Me and some other girls were playing with that green ring, and it got tossed too far into the deep end, and these other kids picked it up and started playing with it and when we asked for it back and told them that we were playing with it, they told us that we had to wait our turn.I kept my seat.You mean those green rings that belong to the pool, and that they use in swimming classes?She nodded.And you told them that you were playing with the rings and they still wouldn't return them?Another nod, but this one was a bit more sheepish than the last. I could tell she was starting to not like the tone my voice was developing so I backed off a bit and asked...What kids?At that point she shook her head and exclaimed "oh no Daddy, you promised you wouldn't get up!"(Starting to get up) I'm just going to go and talk to them...
    (Pushing me back down) No Daddy, I said you had to stay in your chair.
    After some further explanatory exclamations on her part, it seems that she was more fearful of the snidely stated "You had to bring your Dad to help you," remarks than she was of dealing with the situation directly.

    Now, a more sensitive and thoughtful Dad may have figured out a way to deal with the situation that helped their daughter develop a better sense of self worth and independence. Or at the very least have found some words of comfort and care that combined a confidence building phrase or two with some stern fatherly direction.

    Instead, I spewed forth with...Well, then why did you come and tell me if you didn't want me to do anything about it?With that she shrugged her shoulders, gave me a quick peck on the cheek and stormed back into the pool to join her little friends, while I was left to ponder the exchange that had just taken place.

    While I'm always happy to be told when I should act and when I should just remain in my chair by a female member of the species (I am after all just a goofy, clueless male), at that moment I feared that I may have failed that particular test.

    Was my daughter looking to me for an alternate solution to the issue?

    Was she hoping that there would be some nugget of advice I could produce that would both make her feel better and get the ring back without causing her any embarrassment?

    Was the most obvious solution of direct confrontation that my Neanderthal mind spewed forth inappropriate in the politically complex dynamics of the neighborhood pool arena?

    In retrospect, I think my little girl was just looking for a little reassurance from me that I had her back, in the event that her solution to the issue caused a tad of turmoil.

    In the end, Dad's are always good for turmoil.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    Fargo in my small town

    A few weeks back these items appeared in our local paper's most recent crime roll.

    As an avid reader of mystery and spy novels, I caught myself having a brain feast on the nefarious possibility that all three of the car related incidents were somehow involved in a crime spree of a more magnificent scale.

    Unable to find a more common thread to take hold of and pull to it's logical conclusion for the big picture crime, here are my musings none-the-less...

    June 14 - An able mechanic, wandering the highways of America with a good set of jumper cables and a few spare parts could make a pretty good dime repairing and driving off with the wide assortment of roadside automotive roadkill.

    Course, if this had been a "tan Ciera" with some blood stains in the back and a "funny looking-kinda guy" behind the wheel, I'd just keep moving along (Fargo fans Unite!)

    June 15 - There's a story circulating amongst my wife's family about an Aunt who had a Toyota T-100 pickup for 10+ years, traded it in for a brand new Chevy Silverado, took it back a few hours later because the brand new Ford wasn't half the truck her decade old Toyota was, only to find that the dealer had sold the Toyota truck minutes after she had traded it in.

    Makes me wonder if the Chevy truck thief had second thoughts, returned the truck and is now out trolling for a Toyota pickup to steal.

    June 21 - Proves that people will steal anything that isn't nailed down, bolted on, locked up....or has a good bead of weld on it.

    Friday, July 06, 2007

    Black Beauty is a boy!?

    My 7 1/2 year old just finished reading the classic novel, Black Beauty.

    Naturally, once completed, she got a dollar from me (buck a book, that's the deal for this summer) and a trip to the library to rent the video.

    For those not familiar with the story, BB is an autobiographical memoir of a horse, told in "first person" narrative.

    Surprisingly, our local library had a DVD of a 70's badly-animated production from Hanna-Barbera.

    Not surprising (to me at least) was that the DVD version utilized a first person narrator to tell the story.

    Surprising to C was that Black Beauty's voice was that of the male persuasion.

    See, to her 7 1/2-year old pre-estrogen induced literary imagination, Black Beauty was a girl horse. Naturally.

    So imagine her dismay and, I'll come right out and say it, disgust, to find out that the horse she was reading about, routing for, sympathizing with and picturing in her 'tween 1st and 2nd grade head, was actually a penis packing boy horse.

    Needless to say, she was bummed.

    Undaunted at this discovery, she rifled through the book, looking for any reference to the nubian horse as a "she." I'm not sure what she found within the 186 large print text pages, but there, on the back jacket was printed the following passage:"Living at Squire Gordon's country estate, the spirited young horse, Black Beauty, is well taken care of and happy. But when the squire is forced to sell off his horses, Black Beauty's life changes as she is passed from one cruel master to another..."That did it. Our small town is fortunate to have a video/dvd rental store with a relatively good selection of older titles. A quick call to the counter, some fast keyboarding into their database, and a VHS copy of this 1994 live action version of the film came up as available and on the shelf.

    $.99 and a few minutes later, I got to watch C's jaw drop in disbelief as Black Beauty's live action movie voice was not only male, but tinged with a bit of a Scottish accent as well (voiced by none other than the X-Men's Nightcrawler, Alan Cumming).

    Such a harsh lesson for a 7 1/2-year old girl to learn at the very beginnings of a lifetime of literary liaisons.

    Although I am looking forward to the day when she reads Melville's Moby Dick, whereupon questioning whether or not the white whale is a boy or a girl, I'm guessing she'll miss the phallic imagery and naming convention and will come up with her own distinctive opinion on the matter.

    However, I'm not too sure I'd want my 7 1/2-year old reading Melville just yet.

    Huck Finn anyone?

    Thursday, July 05, 2007

    Cast offs

    Until I met my wife, had my kids, and met my in-laws, I had only made two trips to a hospital emergency room in my entire life thus far.7th grade, touch football. Got blindsided from a headblow by Eva Chen, a 78 lb. waif of a girl with arm bones the diameter of my air compressor hose and a smile that would dazzle even the most dedicated member of the "He-Man-Woman-Hater's-Club."The next thing I remember is the angelic face of the lovely Ms. Chen standing over me, her facial expression caught midway between a Spice Girl smirk and genuine concern, asking me if I was okay. ER doc said it was a mild concussion and that I should stay away from Eva Chen unless I wanted to take tackling lessons.

    Eva went on to become one of WWF's leading money-makers in the Orient and retired with a staggering 42-2 record.

    Not really. I think she sells real estate in Northern California. I hear she's really tough when negotiating closing costs.Mid-90's, wrapping up production on the first two stress-filled episodes of a PBS series. Appendicitis hits after a heavy meal of chow fun noodles. I now have a scar to match my Dad's.Classic moment came when my friend and Producer of the series came into my hospital room post-op, pulled me aside and asked me if stress can cause an appendix to burst. I lied and told him I didn't think so, but anythings possible. I still got paid for that week.

    So, with only two trips to the ER under my belt, unlike many of my accident prone contemporaries, I was never privvy to the secrets of the broken bone bondage. Sure I had written humorous insults and drawn my version of Kilroy on many plaster coverings on friends and acquaintances over the years, but the mysteries of the procedures and practices associated with shattered subclavial shroudings had eluded me.

    Until PK broke her arm a few weeks ago.

    We managed to scuttle our way through the do's and don'ts of cast ownership and before we knew it, the day of cast removal was upon us.

    Fearing that our small town doctor's ofice may pull some ancient, but tried and true form of a farm-type implement to cut the cast off, I stammered in awe when the nurse pulled out the coolest stainless steel encased saw I had ever seen.

    It oscillated instead of spun.
    It hummed instead of buzzed.
    It sliced through the thickest part of the cast like Eva Chen against the OU Defensive line.
    It left not a spec of dust in the air, nor a shred of fiberglass on my little one's arm.

    I, had serious saw envy.

    The nurse must have recognized the look on my face and the serious bulge in my...eyes, for while she wiped down PK's newly minted arm with a cleanser/moisturizer, she proceeded to tell me about a home version of this most coveted piece of cutting machinery that was available...for a price.

    Here it is, in all it's German Engineered, as-seen-on-tv, wonder and glory. The Fein Multimaster Oscillating Tool.

    Oh, and PK was fine, btw.

    Monday, July 02, 2007

    Half way to Noah

    Today marked the 20th straight day of recorded rainfall here in Oklahoma.

    Last month saw record rainfall amounts and topped the charts as the wettest June in the history of the state.

    My father is obsessed with weather.

    Our weather, not his weather.

    He retired to a city..."blessed with one of the mildest climates in the United States, dubbed by USA Today as having the second best climate in the country. The reasons include:
    * A mean high of 75° in July and 64° in January
    * Less than 11 inches of rain every year
    * Among the fewest heating and cooling degree days in the U.S."
    And boy, is he cocky about it.

    On a weekly basis, he'll chime in via email or land line (no cell phone in my old man's future -- and he still uses dial up net access), ranting about the high (or low) temps, extreme (or total lack thereof) humidity, rain or snowfall levels, winds, hail diameter size, tornadoes that have touched down, fire, brimstone, and the latest plagues of locusts that have descended upon us poor Okies -- all the while raving about the weather outside his Oceanside bay windows.

    My wife claimed that I too was guilty of being a California weather whoremonger, taking PERSONAL credit and responsibility for the extremely fine climatic conditions that befall the southern portions of the Golden State on a regular basis.

    I called it a purely So Cal characteristic, inbred into most 3rd and 4th generation Los Angeleno's.

    She called it annoying.

    But now, having lived in an area that actually HAS weather, I'm more in touch with it on a daily basis, much more appreciative when it's pleasant, and much, much more in awe of it when it stands up, rolls over, plays fetch, and does other tricks previously unseen by my west coast eyes.

    20 straight days of rain, looking for a blackjack tomorrow.

    Glub, freakin' glub.