Friday, November 30, 2007

Baby, it's snow outside

One thing my brother and I share is the love of a good movie. Not having him around to sit down with and enjoy a good dude flick every now and again is one of the bummers of having moved away.

We're both "involved" viewers, meaning when a movie is on, everything else is off. During the playing, we'll share a chuckle at something humorous or a grimace over something brutal - quite often both at the same time cuz that's the kind of movies we both like - but discussion is normally left to the end.

Interruptions are not welcomed.

Many hours (too many) spent with eyes peeled, mouths agape, minds off watching our old black and white Zenith as kinderkidz have imbued us with extraordinary powers of concentration when it comes to boob tube viewage.

Perhaps all those multiple viewings of Gilligan's Island, Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes, Looney Tunes, Jonny Quest, F Troop (this list can go on and on, but I'm paraphrasing here, so bear with me) disabled that neuron path in our brains that allows human behavior during television viewing. Whatever the case, we're not the type to knit or do crossword puzzles while watching a movie.

Like I said, we're involved viewers.

At least we used to be. Something happened on my Brother's Thanksgiving holiday visit (his first ever to my new Okie digs) that was truly remarkable.

Having found a free time slot to slide a DVD into the old Sony and share a fave flick of mine with my lifelong compadre of small screen cinema, long and about the end of the second act I found my bros attention begin to waver away from the letterboxed drama and toward the view out our front landscape window.

It wasn't the movie itself, that much I knew. I had selected a modern classic from my biopic/road movie/need for speed collection titled, The World's Fastest Indian, featuring Anthony Hopkin's as Kiwi cyclist Burt Munro whose adventures in breaking land speed records on his classic Indian motorcycle are the stuff of legends.

So what then could drive my Brother's attention away from the comfort of a cushy couch, a decent flicker on the tele, and the peaceful joy of enjoying a cinematic yarn with his first and oldest movie watcher...


About an inch of it fell that afternoon.

The white stuff. Serene, quiet, lithe and graceful, falling from the sky and blanketing the Oklahoma fall landscape outside.

It had been over 20 years (he guessed) since my Brother had actually seen snow falling.

My Mom was digging it too.

I dug them digging it.

City folk, gotta love 'em.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cheops had a sweet tooth

For those of you who don't have kids in school at the moment, the staple guide of healthy eating has changed somewhat, and I thought it best to let you know.

PK colored and brought this version home this week. I'm not sure if it's accurate or reflects modern nutritional thinking, but the top of the old pyramid looks about right to me.

I always thought that Hershey bars belonged at the very top of any balanced diet.
With almonds for me thanks.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The scariest of the three

Following the traditional day of unstuffing the bird and stuffing ourselves, the family unit and I (with the addition of my visiting Mother and Brother from SoCal) dove headfirst with vim and vigor into the retrieval, construction and adornment of the triangular shaped evergreen (read-artificial) pagan icon for the next holiday...the Christmas tree.

While retrieving said icon from the upstairs storage space over the garage, I also received a Kasey Kasem American Top 40 long distance dedication and request (of sorts) from my wife to hunt down our stereo components.

We've actually gone all 3-years of Okie residence without the benefit of our little compact Sony stereo wonder and my Beloved felt it was high time we again filled our lives with the sounds that only a 33 LP could provide.

33 LP? That's right, among the many aged components that make up what I've amusingly labeled as our stereo system, there lies an actual, direct drive Sony turntable.

A vinyl spinner.

A record player.

While we have a wide and varied selection of iTunes downloaded, CD ripped, and pre-recorded on cassette tape Christmas tunes at our disposal, somehow my wife of 9+ years got it into her head that this year, while setting up the tree under which many a wrapped toy will lay awaiting molestation on the morning of the 25th, we should get out the old vinyl Christmas albums, and do it old skool style -- the way she remembers doing it with her family.

Once a place was found for the dust bunnied geriatric music making components and the speakers were appropriately placed, the honor of the first record to be played fell upon Andy Williams' classic Christmas Album.

Twelve seconds into "It's the most wonderful time of the year..." we both remembered why the record technology was so easily and happily left in the veritable dung heap of music reproduction technology, as Andy went on to repeat ad infinitum "and gay happy meetings...and gay happy meetings...and gay happy meetings..."

Sorry Andy. Even a good wipe down of your classic album by my best microfiber spectacle cleaning cloth didn't do the trick.

Maybe John Denver and the Muppets would fare better.

Maybe not.

My 4-year old, intrigued by the wondrous black licorice discs, wanted to do the DJ duties so next out of the pile came this wonder of nostalgic Christmas vinyl.

After the 7 or so times we attempted to find an unscratched and dust free section of the album that would play for us, PK took a good long look at the album sleeve in question and blurted out with a modicum of authority and a touch of fear, "the one with the glasses is the scariest chipmunk."

When she's right, she's right.

The tree was completed none-the-less and we're ready to take the season head on.

Umm, right after I put up the lights on the house, of course. Has anyone seen the ladder?

Friday, November 23, 2007

D-town doings

Yikes, I completely neglected to put the finishing touches on my Dallas trip post from earlier this month, so here goes the wrap up.

When last we heard from the intrepid little Okie family, they were facing the dreaded opening day maddening "Crowds of Humanity" (not to be confused with the Cliffs of Insanity) at the American Girl Boutique and Bistro at the Dallas Galleria...

However, the banner day started off with the peace and tranquility that only a leisurely taken breakfast at the Ultimate McDonald's for Kids could provide.

Voted by Travel Channel as the Ultimate McDonald's for Kids, this Happy Meal festooned McD's provided enough eye-candy to get the girls off to a fairly decent hyperactive start of the day.

A post-breakfast/pre-noon swim at the indoor pool in the hotel revealed that my 4-year old retained the bulk of her swimming lessons from last summer and was now into seeing if she could hold her breath under water as long as her Daddy could.

Just as revealing was my conversation with a paunch-bellied jovial grandfather who originally came from San Diego but had retired to San Antonio. He also was in town with his wife, daughter and grandaughers for the American Girl opening and was taking in the peaceful sites and sounds of the hotel while the women kin stormed the beachhead of the Galleria.

A few hours later, we too found ourselves standing in a 40-minute line to enter the American Girl store, amid a storm of complimentary water bottle bearing store employees (it wasn't that hot, but they were prepared for it, so props to them), media (local independent news station getting color...must have been a slow news day), and face upon face of young girls, eager to get in and empty their guardian's checking accounts.

As happy customers exited, an equal number of anticipation filled customers were allowed in. It was all very civil and organized and even though the crowds inside were shoulder to shoulder at times, we were able to navigate the aisles with relative ease and even enjoyed standing in the 20-minute long check out line due to a lively conversation we participated in with other commiserating parents of young daughters.

Since I'm a stay-at-home Dad with two daughters, I like to think that I'm more in touch with my softer side than many of my male contemporaries. However even I was unnerved by the massive amounts of female hormones flying about this store.

My F-i-L didn't seem to fare as well, as he pulled an Elvis and exited the building mere minutes after he did his duty by making sure we all had entered the realm of dolldom safely.

Our bank account was pillaged only a tad, thanks to a last minute gift card from my brother (thanks Bro!) and we were already putting the opening day experience behind us no more than an hour later.

Later that day while cruising the Galleria, I stumbled upon these incomplete(?) signs while searching for the restroom facilities.

Sums it all up pretty well, I'd say.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Holiday kitchen hierarchy

Last night I was in our local grocery market (avoiding the WalMart SatanCenter - as my wife calls it) picking up some last minute items to complete the gluten-free dishes I'm whipping up for my gluten-free mother who is visiting from LA for the holiday.

Potato flour, check.
Corn meal, check.
Natural chicken stock with no MSG or modified food starch...uh, 2 cans, way in the back.
Gluten free bread....uh, don't even think it (the nearest Trader Joe's is 8 hours away in Albuquerque or St. Louis, sigh.)
Mi Madre will just have to make do with cornmeal based stuffing.

While trying to decide if gizzards and giblets were one in the same thing (gizzards are giblets), I cart-bumped into a young mother who is active in the PTO and innocently asked her whether or not she was cooking for her brood and country this weekend.

Shaking her head with all the vigor of a 12-year old playing speed Tennis on their Wii, she told me that she hadn't yet earned that right.

Seems in her clan, the preparation of the extended brood Turkey Day meal is relegated to the most senior of the female family delegates. One has to "earn" the privilege(?) and right to take on such a daunting task, the current culinary throne being shared by a Grandmother and a pair of Great Aunts.

With a Mother and Mother-in-Law, a half-dozen Aunts, several older Cousins and eager spouses of assorted other relatives waiting in the nutritive wings of the family feast stage, young PTO mom is far and away from being eligible to step into the gourmet spotlight.

But she didn't seem all the bummed about it.

Happy Gluten-Free Thanksgiving to all! Who's up for seconds on our crust-less pumpkin pie?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I figure there are approximately 60 second grader girls in my small town.

4 classes of 2nd graders at the public school, with 15-17 students per class, factor in the fact that the girls seem to outnumber the boys by almost 2 to 1, then add in the small number of 2nd grade girls at the Catholic school as well as the home schooled kids, and my 60 figure is a decent educated guess.

I also figure there to be approximately the same amount of pre-K girls in my small town as well.

Now, assuming that each one of those 2nd grade girls in town have at least half as many doll and/or stuffed animals that my 2nd grade daughter has, and that each of the pre-K girls have equal or lessor amounts as well...

Then by my math, the entire doll and stuffed animal population generated by pre-K and 2nd graders alone is easily equal to the total human population of my small town.

Factor in the Kinder, 1st grade, 3rd grade...etc., etc., and were outnumbered by at lease a 5 to 1 margin.

In reality, it's probably closer to 10:1.

Friday, November 16, 2007

You're doin' fine, Oklahoma

After spending the night sleeping like an Egyptian at this unique Guthrie B&B with my family unit, we ended up spending a most special day celebrating our state's 100th birthday stepping up and down the same streets where the historic event actually happened.

Among other uniquely Okie people, places, things and sites we absorbed this day, was this view from our corner spot of the parade.

Note the historic buildings (Guthrie is one of the largest historic districts in the country), the throngs of excited centennial-goers anticipating a parade 100 years in the making (est. 100,000 people flooded into the city), the brilliant blue Oklahoma Fall sky (high of 70 with south breezes) and...

...these kids who sat up there, dangling their feet off the 2nd story of that building for the entire length of the parade.

Don't know if anyone else noticed them, but with all the cops roving the streets and parade route, I'm sure someone with a badge must have spotted them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rethinking recruitment representation

I was quite pleased to discover that Oklahoma had a public liberal science and arts college that was ranked #1 in U.S. News & World Reports America's Best Colleges “Great Schools, Great Prices” list.

But then I saw their half page ad in a recent issue of Oklahoma Today and had to wonder what the PR / Ad layout person was thinking when they selected this particular photo to represent their university.

Raising the Standard, indeed.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Street gang invasion

It had to happen sooner or later, but a dangerous new street gang has invaded, apparently moving through my small town from their home turf on the westside.

Sadly, they aren't the romanticized singing and dancing Jets and Sharks from the West Side, nor are they the colors wearing, deuce chunkin', AK-47 slinging, crack-dealin', low-riding Boyz from the Hoodie.

Nope, these new gangsta's can be easily spotted by their funky spiked hair doos, their penchant for gathering in high places, and an apparent need to rid the world of hunting dogs (maybe they mistake them for drug sniffing dogs, who knows).

Their weapon of choice are sharpened needles -- not the kind your Grammy hems your pants up with before sewing it tight. I'm talking thick, razor tipped, long as a Sonic Coney dog and barbed needles that these gang members hide in their spiked hair styles.

Since they've been spotted hanging out around Main Street and in their safe dens around town, the local cops have had multiple altercations with them, resulting in the shooting death of four alleged gangsters.

Low enforcement officials are warning locals not to approach members of the new menace, and definitely not to touch them, for they seem especially prone to attack when physically touched.

Fellow street gangsters...I give you...
The Westside 'P-pines

Friday, November 09, 2007

Moo juice in motion

With the addition of an anecdote my pre-k'er unloaded on us at dinner the other night, I can proudly add yet another Universal Truth to our cadre of family wisdom-isms.

As a race, we are all born, we all love to get mail, we all pay taxes, and we all die.

And to these I can now proudly add that every member of my little family has witnessed the disgusted thrill of watching someone laugh milk out their nose while sitting in the school cafeteria.

For me, it was Charlie Okamoto, with Chris Diaz as the inducer of the milky nasal guffaws.

C got hers in Kindergarten and couldn't wait to tell us all about it after school that day.

I know not the details of my Wife's foray into the realm of the half-n-half honking, however since she's familiar enough with the syndrome to know the discomfort it causes both to participants and viewers, it stands to reason she too has a skim-sniffer incident in her past.

As Universal Truths go, I think "sit in a school cafeteria long enough and someone will laugh milk out their nose" may be the truism to hand the aliens when they finally do make contact and ask what the key to our existence is.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Amerikan Girls on holiday

Back in the 80's there was a tv miniseries called "Amerika" - 14+ hours of melodrama centering around the concept of what if we had lost the Cold War to the Soviet Union?

With marketing phenomenon like American Girl and institutions of higher spending such as the Galleria Dallas, the Amerika scenario is a Communist pipe dream.

Been to Dallas before as a lad and did the obligatory West end clubbing thing as well as frolicking on the grassy knoll within site of the Texas School Book Depository. Dallas was pretty much like any other big city I've visited only it's full of Texan's, which can be good (if you're a Texan) or bad (if you're a normal person).

Living where we do, only a 5+ hour drive to the home of America's Team (the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders) Wifey and I thought it'd be a hoot-of-sorts to splurge on our oldest daughter's 8th birthday last weekend and take her and her sister on a road trip down to Dallas for reasons soon be made clear.

Texas vs OSU at home and Texas Tech vs. OU at home meant lots of traffic heading north, and plenty of longhorn plates in the gas and zip stops along the I35 corridor, but other than that our drive down was painless.

We checked into our room at a suite joint across the way from the Galleria, and unburdened the trunk of it's luggage and pre-wrapped birthday presents (including two new internet-purchased American Girl dolls with almond shaped eyes and hair length and color that matched our girl's).

A quick late night outing to pick up some bottled water and get my street bearings (something odd I do when I find myself in new surroundings...weird I know, but I like to know where I am) and I happened to drive by our American Doll destination of desire.

There I spotted a host of security guards patrolling the outer environs of the American Girl shop. Odd since the store wasn't scheduled to open for another 10 hours.

Not so odd when you took into consideration the groupings of Mothers and Daughters who were bundled up in sleeping bags and fold up canvas chairs, camped out in line at the doubled glass door entrance to the mecca of resin doll and doll accessories lying in wait within.

Seems our daughter's birthday outing and our on-a-whim desire to road trip down here just happened to coincide with the grand opening weekend of this particular American Girl Boutique and Bistro (the only one of it's kind in Texas, the other B&B is located in Atlanta, whereas the larger American Girl Place's are in LA, Chitown, and NYC).

So, some fanatics were camping out in line at yet another grand opening of yet another niche store. This is America.

As a nation, we've camped out for Springsteen tickets, iPhones, Halo 3, and Black Friday sales. Surely the desire to be the first mother/daughter pair in line for the opening of a doll store shouldn't raise more than a few eyebrows.

And the fact that a few doll devotees would spend the night in the chill of a fall Dallas evening, shouldn't cast any doubts that the following days grand opening wouldn't be anything but smooth sailing and easy going.

I mean, c'mon, it's a doll shop. How crowded could it be? (Insert impending doom theme from any horror movie here...)

Yeah, me too....I suddenly got a bad feeling about all this...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Jail food is bad?

Taken from a recent issue of our local news rag...

Wonder if she's gonna sue the Police Dept. for post-booking indigestion.

Can you imagine the look on the Judge's face when the arresting officer shows up in court and says, "Sorry Judge, but the defendant ate my homework."

Friday, November 02, 2007

A tank of gas to B-town and back

Two weekends ago, we took the girls on a road trip up to a relatively good sized town called Bartlesville, in the northern quadrant of this wacky panhandle shaped state.

Since we had a relatively short time to accomplish our mission (this was a working weekend for my wife, if you can call dragging your family along on a road trip "work"), so we had to suffer the indignities of turnpike travel with the promise that we would someday take a real road trip up to the Tulsa area on the Mother Road when future time permitted.

Tickets, get ya tickets here!
The first stop on our missive mission was to the Spook-A-Rama at a little slice of kiddie ride heaven known as, what else, the Kiddie Park.

If there is a place where old State Fair Midway rides for the under 42"crowd goes to be reborn to serve entirely new generations of ankle biters, then this is the place.

The normally festive atmosphere brought on by the rides, concessions, and pint size scale of everything (including the ticket prices...two bits each!), was getting hauntingly close to a Monster Mash fevered pitch thanks to the "bring your kid in his/her Halloween costume" theme.

S got what she needed, the kids rode everything they wanted, PK won a prize in a round of musical chairs, and I got to torment the high school aged ride staff who were begrudgingly dressed in ill fitting costumes as well.

"Free breakfast served from 6-10 a.m."
A night spent in relative quiet at a local historic motor inn (we avoid chain sleeperies if at all possible), followed by a hot breakfast at 9:50 a.m. (10 minutes before officially shutting down it's complimentary breakfast service -- sorry Waitress, but...could we have more juice please?), and we were off to part 2 of our bonding-in-a-small-import-sedan weekend.

What's that up in the sky...?"
On our way out of town, we drove by this...

Now, I don't know who this Frank Lloyd Wright fella be, but he makes some wacked out buildings...and in Oklahoma no less!

This is the one and only cantilevered skyscraper that FLW designed and it truly is astonishing to look at from ground level.

We walked around it under a bright blue, late morning, cool and breezy Oklahoma sky and while the girls pulled at our arms and legs to get us back to the car "cuz we've spent enough time looking at this old building," Wifey and I vowed to spend at least one romantic weekend hunkered down in the Inn portion of the tower before we die.

All I can say is every skyscrapered city in the world must be jealous and envious of Bartlesville, because of the Price Tower that graces it's downtown skyline.

As our car left the shadow of the wondrous tower, in no time at all we had made the short drive to another wonder of attractions that fails to define itself due to it's varied level and variety of attractions, Woolaroc.

With the exception of some friends of my Wife who won't take their kids to a Wild Animal Park for fear that some errant water buffalo will scratch the finish on their 8-year old Suburban - c'mon people, live a little, I don't know anyone who wouldn't get a thrill from the 2-mile drive from the Woolaroc entry gate to the museum complex at the top of the hill.

I'm not a wildlife expert, so I'll not try to channel Bindi the Jungle Girl, but I can say that we saw more four-legged beasties with antlers, racks, horns, mucousy snouts, humps, bumps, hooves, manes, tails, and attitude, all roaming free and pooping wherever and whenever they liked, in those two miles than 14 straight hours of Animal Planet viewing.

The Woolaroc museum complex itself is astounding and a testament to what oil money and one Okie's love of the west and overwhelming desire to collect and display some oddball art, artifacts, and an airplane, can produce on some of the most scenic property in the state.

Won't fit in my bathtub
Speaking of oddball, our final stop in the area was here to go here to view this wonder of miniature shipbuilding madness.

Anything I write here wouldn't do this amazing tribute and work of model making art justice, but I feel compelled to point out that inside the miniature version of the ships Captain's Quarters, are framed pictures on the walls of the very ship the model is based on -- pictures that actually were mounted in the Captains' Quarters of the full sized doomed ship.

Hands off the glass kiddies.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The name game

As part of the research for my small town's downtown historic walking trail project that I'm involved in, I've found that in the 100+ year history of the town, businesses were generally named after the people who owned them.

Sandusky Chevrolet was owned by the Sandusky family, the Gooden's built the Gooden building and Norma's House of Beauty was indeed owned by a blue-haired coiffure named Norma.

Where I grew up, as old businesses were bought by new owners, for whatever reason, the new owner's would often times opt to keep just a portion of the previous businesses name.

A Comfort Inn became "Com on Inn" (remove a few letters, change an "r" to an "n" and you're back in business).
Phil's Deli became Phi Deli (It was all Greek to me, but there wasn't a gyro on the menu)
The Luxury Car Wash became Lux Car Wash (wonder what he did with the u,r, and y?)
Tastee Freeze became Taste Freez (guess he had something again e's)
Even the market where I worked my first job as a Courtesy Clerk went from Alpha Beta Supermarket to Shang Hai Yau Fat (just try and figure out that one!)

Much like the "Chinglish" my old work buddies and I would enjoy deciphering when reading instruction manuals for Taiwan-made discount electronic goods, there was humor galore when envisioning two immigrant brothers making the decision to turn their recently purchased "Comfort Inn" into a "Com on Inn."

While this new business naming short cutting may be prevalent the world over, here in my small town, folks don't even bother with the letter dropping - at least pharmacist don't.

When Dennis' Pharmacy was bought by Larry Adams, it didn't suddenly become Larry's Pharmacy. Dennis' Pharmacy is still around and doing quite well with a thriving drive-up window clientèle.

Same thing happened with Tom's Drug. Charley Randall bought out Tom's Drug from Tom, but didn't see the need to confuse his customers by changing the name to Charley's Drug.

Tom's Drug it was, and Tom's Drug it remains to this day.