Friday, January 30, 2009

Cultural and generational crossover - with a side of fries

Back when cartoons were cartoons before they were bestowed with their fancy labels of "animated characters" and "toons," Bugs Bunny was my childhood Saturday morning hero.

He almost always won (okay, one time his tail was snipped off), almost always had a snappy comeback or one liner retort, and had the greatest opening line ever uttered by V.O. genius Mel Blanc.

Yet when my Grandfather from Hawaii visited us for vacation, and he huddled around his morning coffee while my brother and I absorbed weekend early a.m. cartoons, it was Wiley E. Coyote that got the old gent laughing.

I'm talking hearty, from his gut, teary eyed laughter. Everytime that wiley coyote would land at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in a "poof" of smoke, my grandfather's face, burnt brown from a lifetime of working in the blazing Hawaiian sun, would crack open yet another deep crevice and the joyous melody of childlike laughter would echo throughout our small living room.

And I remember watching him and enjoying his unfettered laughter as if it were yesterday. To this very moment, it's a memory I draw upon when I need a quick spiritual uplift.

I flashed on that memory the other night, as the girl's and I partook of our Thursday night after-dance class dinner routine. It's normally their eat-out dining choice, but somehow an emerging tradition is breaking through the barrier of free choice and they've been choosing to eat at the downtown burger g-spoon as of late.

Sure, the burgers are superb (onion fried, cooked through and through on the flat iron before being tossed onto the open grill for a quick flame-ridden charring...yum!) and the atmosphere is family-oriented and relaxed, but it's the glowing humongo-screen plasma displays at each end of the joint that I belief is at the heart of their once-a-week culinary dinnertime splurge.

Call me a tyrant, but dinner time at our house is a pretty old-fashioned, sit down with the family, talk and eat festival of family-time. "Please pass...," will get you just about anything you need table side, and the latest rule of conversation being limited to non-bodily function topics is seemingly taking effect -- not an easy task with a 9 and 5-year old.

Therefore, at the burger joint where the girls can catch some junk on the tube and eat it too (simultaneously in fact), well, that's too much a luxury to pass up for their once a weekly eat-out-a-thon.

I'm on pretty good terms with the owners and my ordering convention has become somewhat of a routine. I hand over the cash for the girls food, he hands over the remote for the tv in the back. Some people don't get that good a service at home.

While the girl's used to plead and beg for yet another Hannah Montana (or Suite Life of Zack and Cody, or Wizards of Waverly Place, or iCarly) viewing, I'll usually default to the familiar and less-sassy dialogue offered by the Cartoon Network Boomerang's nightly offering of the classic, Tom and Jerry.

Violent and PETA-unfriendly though it may be, it's visual humor and slapstick sight gags can still make me chuckle continuously, and genuinely laugh-out-loud at times.

I mean, c'mon, how many times can Jerry make Tom take a bite out of his own tail before you just have to bust a gut?

And from my vantage point, sitting at the back of the burger joint on a weeknight at dinner hour, there are more than a few adults and elderly folk alike, who seem to dig the physical comedy stylings of one tom cat's ongoing endeavor to make a snack of his best friend and lifelong animated nemesis, the mouse.

And my grandfather's spirit is sitting right there with me...probably wondering when the Road Runner toon is coming on?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's stuck up on your ceiling?

As old-fashioned as it seems, my Wife had a hope chest sitting at the foot of her bed since she was a young lass, growing up in OKC tract home 70's suburbia.

In it were stored items she collected and would use in her future adult days as a happy homemaker.

Her stints away from home in college and grad school tapped into the chest for daily use stuff - cups, bowls, plates, etc., but the chest and a few contents actually remained intact until the day we moved back to Oklahoma and her folks brought it up to our new digs.

Sure, the stuff she saved was tacky, and dated, and most of the practical items were already part of some landfill due to their use and abuse through my Wife's early adulthood days. But a few items remained, as did the chest, which now proudly sits at the foot of our oldest daughter's bed, awaiting the placement of items for her own future days.

Prize of the collection was a scrapbook my Wife had made, consisting of magazine clippings, articles, and advertisements, appropriately titled, "My Dream Wedding and Home."

Recalling that my Wife and I grew up in the heady days of the 70's and 80's, you can only imagine the choices she had to work with when designing her perfect wedding ceremony and future household.

It's a hoot.

Which brings me to the guts of this post, being, my Wife is a pack rat-tess of the highest order. And when I write order, I don't mean "ordered." Far from it. We have things she's been collecting since the beginning days of her hope chest -- all with the stated caveat of, "someday we'll use these for..."

I knew this quality of my beloved going into our marriage, and have therefore sacrificed some of my collecting desires (still have my Mad Magazine's but will have to put off adding anymore Precious Moments Beer Steins to my stash for awhile).

Her prophetic argument of using her collectibles for a practical and/or decorative use has proven correct just enough times during our years together, that her statement continues to remain valid. Thus her collecting continues.

Today's point of evidential order, the recently completed tin tray ceiling in our new upstairs playroom.

The raw material for the project were decorative tin trays (department store cafeteria items circa 40's-50's) that Wifey's been collecting (along with her once partner in thrift/collectible store crime, Traci in LA) for about 13 years now.

The first set she found in a thrift store for pennies, and once she found the next 4, 5, 7 and 12 in the set, the hunt was on.

Ebay was scoured.
No thrift store shelf was safe.
No antique mall booth was left unscathed.
And in the end, the final numbers came from Traci's Mom herself, donating her prize trays to the project.

Fast forward to a few months ago, when we found the trays in a box we were just getting around to unpacking, and the ideas started flowing.

The end result of my Wife wanting to have a tin ceiling of some sort in the house, combined with utilizing a beloved collection from her recent past, is the project/product you see here.

It took a bit of engineering and basic math to get it done, but my intrepid F-i-L who has yet to say "nay" to any of his daughter's wacky home decorating ideas, was up for the task.

I still need to do some touch up work on the nail holes and seams, but once that's done, the project should be complete. The lamp is a dumpster find, using a color scheme from both the playroom and the adjoining bathroom.

Big thanks go out to Traci and Tak!

Now if only I can find something decorative and practical to do with my 30-pin simm ram chip collection sitting in a shoe box under my bed...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shall we dance, Bud?

It's a strange tradition that didn't exist in the So Cal environs where I grew up.

Every time the weather folk on the local news stations here in the panhandle state start warming up their cold weather comedy routine for a winter storm, my Wife starts waxing poetic about her youthful evenings spent huddled around the old Zenith, waiting for the school closing announcements.

That's right. They actually close schools here for ice, snow, and bad weather days.

Now, don't get me wrong, living here now, I'm all for it. In fact, when they announce the school year calendar in the fall, the snow days are factored right into the schedule.

Course, this is only Oklahoma, not Chicago, or Fargo, or one of those little towns in Vermont that are impossible to pronounce.

Still, Oklahoma is no slouch when it comes to frequent bouts of the icy and snowy stuff. Occasionally there's enough around to make the roads relatively treacherous for rubber shoed vehicles, the air too frigid to take a deep breath, and the backyard which is normally a brown, dead mess during the winter to be covered in a blanket of white so beautiful, that wasting a day in class when the kiddies could be out in it, making snow angels, minuscule snowmen, and putting some miles on their Radio Flyer sled, almost a non-issue.

But it all stems from the scroll, the constant and never ending listing of names that all the networks roll across their televised real estate, alphabetically announcing what schools, businesses, and community activities will be closed the next day due to the slippery stuff.

During last nights evening news, a few of the surrounding communities had called in their school closings, but our community held fast. Then, on the 10 p.m. news, when the girls had gone to bed without the knowledge of a pending day off, we spotted our school's name and knew that somewhere in dreamland, our girls were doing the happy-snow-day dance.

We almost missed it due to the equally important announcement that the Bud Elder Dance Academy was closed down as well.

That's right, the Bud Elder Dance Academy.

Seems Bud Elder (not a dance teacher) has some clever, jocular friends, who derive some joy in putting one over on both their friend, Bud Elder, and the network news stations. Apparently some in the state media machine (my wife included), know from whence this gag originated, and who the focus of the friendly jib-jab is aimed. The only unknown is who is perpetrating the gag on a regular, snow-closing basis.

In the past several times we've had snow cancellations, we'll inevitably spot the Bud Elder Dance Academy closing and have a good chortle at the news programs expense.

Like most practical jokes, this one is made possible due to the frenzy caused by the change in weather. The news networks don't have time to check out the legitimacy of every incoming call or email therefore Bud Elder keeps sneaking past the News Intern whose job it is to take the info and type it into the text file for the scroll.

Still and all, it's both a comfort and a quick chuckle to see Bud's name in the scroll, reminding us that no matter how bad it gets out there, humor will always prevail.

Dance on Bud Elder, dance on.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Even the best of us get recalled now and again

It came via snail mail as a pink and white cardstock mailer. The top was perforated for ease in tear-away access and the words "Recall" and "Notice" were featured prominently on the cover.

The gory details were as follows..."On certain (our year) and (our model) vehicles equipped with power windows, the driver and front passenger door glass bolts may loosen and come off, causing the door glass to separate from the window regulator...

...In the worst case, the door glass may separate from the window regulator, bind and shatter during operation of the power windows, causing driver distraction and/or injury."
Okay, glancing at a popular tv actress picking her nose in her sleek 750li bimmer next to you at a traffic signal is distracting.

Realizing you left your chai latte on the roof of your car and watching it kersplash all over the rear window as you pull out of the mini-mall parking lot is distracting.

Refereeing a back seat argument between a 9-year old who knows it all and a 5-year old who is determined not to let the 9-year old dominate the dvd selection is distracting.

Having my window bind and shatter possibly causing serious injury...that's get-your-butt-off-the-factory-floor-and-send-me-a-pink-and-white-recall-notice-in-the-mail serious.

Well, sorta. Since when I first read this recall notice a few months back, the windows in Wifey's car weren't loose, nor were they rattling abnormally.

Until last week when we noticed that we were having to crank Casey and the Sunshine Band up to a 4 on the stereo to hear him tell us that he's our boogie man, our boogie man (that's what I am) due to the rattling windows.

Having replaced far too many car windows in my days (every car I've ever owned had a window smashed in at one time), I was fairly confident that I knew of which bolt the recall was addressing, and it would have been a 15 - 30 minute job at the garage of shade tree mechanics at the end of my driveway.

But how often do you get a free factory service from a major car dealer, all for the minor inconvenience of driving your car 30 miles to get there.

Besides, history has proven that on more than one occasion, my easy fixit jobs turn into major hassles and headaches when it comes to vehicular repair maneuvers - remind me to tell you about the time I had to pull apart the top end of my Nova's motor due to a dropped spark plug wire holder down a pushrod hole - ugh.

I called the dealer, made an appointment with a service dude named Brian, and after doing some research on the dealers website, packed up my laptop to take advantage of their complimentary wifi in their waiting lounge and caught an outbound tailwind out of my small town.

In exchange for the keys to Wifey's car I was given a salaried cheery estimate of a 2-hour wait to have both windows "fixed" and I made my way to the fishbowl service waiting lounge.

Like all waiting lounges in car dealerships, this one had the air of dread and anxious anticipation filling the air.

I decided to lend my happy homemaker hands to help ease the tension by making a fresh pot of coffee in what looked to be a shiny new industrial strength coffee machine. A brief forage through the adjacent cabinets provided me with a pre-measured coffee filter pack, and since the machine was hard-lined into a water filtration unit, all I had to do was hit "start" and we were off.

An uneasy looking set of elderly women made their way over to the beverage section where I was standing vigil over the still brewing coffee pot. One asked me if there was any Splenda around and I had to apologize that I hadn't found any, but there was the pink stuff sitting by the sugar and cream bar.

The other thanked me for "finally" making more coffee, using a tone that smacked of well practiced subtle sarcasm. It was at this point that I realized they thought I was a paid employee of the dreaded dealership where their 4-door sedan was being serviced, to which I quickly corrected the error of their observations.

As we all found our seats in the lounge, several others made their way to the coffee pot and before my styrofoam cup was half empty, the fresh pot was half gone.

I fired up my iBook which found and connected to the dealers open wireless network with ease and I was happily flying around the net cloud without a care in the world.

The peace was interrupted when a service rep (not mine) entered the double doors, drawing the glared attention of several waiting customers. Like a middle manager delivering pink slips, he was greeted with suspicion and ire as he proceeded to tell an old fella that the last place who installed his oil filter had jammed it on and in doing so, stripped the threads, so much so, that their ASE certified dealer mechanics couldn't "get it off using the standard methods."

You could almost feel the tension in the room mount as we collectively all expected the worst reaction from the now "screwed" truck owner. At the same time, the humanity level also seemed to rise as well for as a group we both felt his pain but also were grateful that it wasn't us preparing for a cavity search on our wallets.

My confidence that the factory service recall work being done on my Wife's car would be simple and painless was quickly slipping away, so I packed up my gear and made my way to safer, less tension filled waters -- the outdoor lot.

Filled with shiny vehicles, the new car lot offers the freshness of whole-hog capitalism, combined with the positive feel good emotions that the marketing gurus of car commercials offer up in spades.

Now, this being the economic downturn that it is, there weren't a slew of new car buyers buzzing around the lot on a weekday morning.

Still, a bored-out-of-his-gourd Salesman took the time to find me wandering up and down the aisles and engaged me in conversation.Salesman - You having your car serviced?
Me - Recall work.
Salesman - Really. Which one?
Me - Loose window bolts.
Salesman - That's a weird one.
[lull as we turned a corner]
Salesman - What year is your car?
Me - 2003
Salesman - Whoa, you ready to trade it in for a new one?
Me - A new what?
Salesman - A new model.
He went on to explain to me that folks around here (I'm assuming he meant Oklahoman's) like to trade their cars in every 3-5 years.

I mentioned something about "keeping-up-with-the-Joneses" which he just smiled and enthusiastically said, "exactly!"

Basically, I told him that for a daily driver, I didn't feel the need to trade in a perfectly good car that I fully expect to roll past the 200,000 mark with ease in 10 years, just so I can have a brand new model every few years or so.

Then I told him I grew up in the Depression, seemingly explaining my thrifty ways.

Then I blamed his car company for making such durable, well made cars.

Except for the window bolts, that is.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Idaho on my mind

Last weekend, Wifey and I had Facebook on our minds.

Her brush with the famous/infamous social networking site came via a Sunday morning sermon, the theme of which seemed to center on the importance of building a base of friends, whether from the present, the future, or even the past (which Facebook apparently excels at).

That last point -friends from the past- jiggled loose a molecule or two in my gray matter, as just the other day my brother informed me that a voice from our collective past had recently found and contacted him via his Facebook page.

We all have these types of friends. Hanging out buddies. Traveling buddies. Friday night movie, Sunday go to races, even double dating at times buddies.

But as buddies sometimes do, they move away,
get a new life,
in a new town,
with a new wife.

And guys being guys, we don't keep addresses handy for yearly Christmas card swappage, nor do we keep in touch with other old friends who in turn keep track of other friends for us.

Generally speaking, guy friends from the past, sadly so, usually stay guy friends from the past. The exception being the presence of females somewhere in the mix who excel at remembering important dates, knowing who gave what to whom, and where that darn address book is kept.

Yet because of my brother's unusual and uncharacteristic turn toward non-anonymity on the web (he works with middle school kids who apparently "forced" him into creating his own Facebook page), we have now learned that a high school/college buddy with pretty much the same background as ourselves, has made the move with wife and stepkids into the wilds of suburban Idaho to run, of all the crazy things, a diner.

Okay, it's not the same as being a fry cook on Venus, but it's pretty darn close.

I wonder what kind of entries HIS blog is filled with?

Wonder if he was ever called Ming?

Oh and no, sorry I don't Facebook. Heck, I won't even post my real identity on my blog, let alone plaster my mug and personal info all over the net so some diner-running-Idahoan buddy from the past can reach out and touch me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Such a thing as fair money?

As a kid the means I had for picking up some pocket change were slim pickins.

There was my allowance...$5 a week, more or less.

Christmas and birthday checks from generous family members would usually last well into the following month...if I rationed.

Nobody I knew had a paper route, or mowed lawns, or collected aluminum cans in shopping carts for extra change.

Heck, we were a bunch of privileged middle-class suburbia kids with little for basic need but much for unnecessary want.

Not until sometime slightly after my 15th birthday did I seek out and acquire my first real job -- bagging groceries, retrieving carts, and running for price checks at a local grocery store chain.

Part of the contract of being a parent is wanting to do better for your kids than your own parents did for you. Problem is, my parents did just fine by me, and if I were to have any aspirations of exceeding the financial support bestowed upon the youthful me, onto my own soon-to-be "needing more than lunch money" offspring, I would have to first take stock in what exactly is necessary, and what is excessive.

We've dabbled in chore based allowance, but since our 5-year old has not yet developed an interest in collecting greenbacks while our 9-year old is wild for the stuff, the effects have been vague and various at best.

The other day I overheard a couple of kids about my kids age talking about what they were planning to do with their "fair money."

Turns out every year they count on a certain number of their county free fair entries to take home prizes of varying levels and cash worth. As I recall, C's photographic and fine art forays brought home more than just some purple, blue, and red ribbons. She also received a check somewhere in the amount of 25 buckaroonies.

When reminded of her windfall of colorful ribbons and cash prizes at last years fair, she instantly kicked into go-baby-go mode and vowed to start churning out the fine art by the trunk load.

Nice of the free fair folk to encourage the arts. Our own small town N.E.A.

Here's a sampling from a recent trip to our small town's most excellent historic themed museum.

I think the kid's got an eye.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bob's vs. Kip's

Sherman, set the Wayback machine to the fateful summer of '88 where upon landing for the first time in the state the Choctaws called "the land of the Red people," I happily encountered a familiar face with a foreign name.

Bob's Big Boy was an iconic figure of my youth, inasmuch as I had still retain many fond memories of hanging out in his well lit abodes and dining on reasonably priced high caloric food items being served in his name.

In grad-school my then main squeeze/now wifey-for-lifey lived in the upper floor of an airport house a mere mile drive from the now famous Bob's '49 in Burbank. Our multiple forays into this most hallowed of all Bob's remaining dives were sprinkled with ample celebrity sitings (you haven't lived until you've spied Drew Carey downing several bowls of Bob's chili size), post-cineplex discussions, production meetings, and late-night/early morning double-decker burger dates.

Going further back, as non-driving teens, my buddies and I would migrate on foot from Friday night high school football games over to the Bob's on Valley Blvd for a post-game snack and schmooze-fest.

The short two-block walk to Bob's provided the requisite amount of time needed to shake the computer punch card confetti out of your hair and boxer shorts while inviting and gathering up as many of the pre-driving age short-skirt adorned drill team members as possible.

The girls would order Tab-floats and share mega-platters of fries, we'd get Big Boy combos and triple-thick milkshakes and blue cheese dressed salads.

My well established youthful trysts with Bob's Big Boy was thereby shattered somewhat when upon studying the environs from the back seat of the Ford Econoline van that my then girlfriend/now wife's parents had procured me from the airport in, I spotted this place...

Now remember, this was pre-internet Google days, when one couldn't just fire up a browser, type in "Big Boy" and get all the skinny on the history and background of a restaurant chain. The mystery of how my beloved "Bob" became "Kip" within the span of 1300 miles and a short 2.5 hour flight time away rocked my "Never been to Heaven but I've been to Oklahoma," world.

What triggered this keyboarded memory down Big Boy lane was an online article recently forwarded to me by a former mentor and replacer of broken tools (thought I forgot about that, didn't you topless Mustang-boy?)

The article details how the current owner of the Bob's of my youth is showing some respectful props to the history of his establishment, even though the sites and smells of burger combos and milk shakes have long been replaced by bowls of Vietnamese noodles and boba tea drinks.

Thumbs up to the current owner...and I'll have a combo pho to go.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My life as a duffer

I've said it before and I'll say it again, golf is the biggest waste of time and money the Scots ever invented.

Too bad it's so addicting.

Myself, I learned the finer points of the game via Osaki Tadamichi no Super Masters for the Sega Genesis during one fine spring break hanging with my brother and best bud at his sister's apartment in Tokyo.

My childhood bud was a decent junior golfer in SoCal and has remained a scratch player since his heady days as a teen link stud. Yet somehow he never managed to get me on a course or interested in the game until that dreaded electronic version for the Genesis game system invaded my psyche and convinced me that all there was to the game was club selection, wind direction compensation and making sure your back swing falls within the red zone on the tv screen.

I knew I had crossed a line when I found myself discussing the hole yardage, bunker locations and how cutting the dogleg to the right will end you up in that massive bunker on the 14th hole of the Pebble Beach Golf links.

Funny thing was, I had never played anything but virtual golf on anything but Sega Genesis, but to this old timer who had played courses all over the golden state, my rubber spiked talk was seemingly as good as my walk.

Fast forward to my cube farm job in corporate So Cal and I find myself cubed up with a bevy of fellow fluorescent light wage earners who had an interest in golf. Didn't hurt that our offices were a mere block away from a challenging 9-hole public that we could meet at and finish in the wee morning hours before our 8:30 a.m. nine-to-five day.

A fortuitous dinner with my scratch golfer buddy found me taking a quick 20-minute living room lesson on club grip, stance, and swinging technique and for the next 5 years I enjoyed weekly 9-holers with my coworkers, an occasional full round on a free weekend, and my very own set of graphite shaft club hand-me-downs from my buds Dad that were worth more than I spent on the tranny rebuild for the Stingray I was restoring at the time.

Fast forward to my move out of the office and out to the prairie with the clubs, shoes, bag and boxes of Titleist sitting dormant going on 4 years now. All my days on the greens (okay, more likely the rough than the greens, but I'm waxing poetic here), those missed putts, soaring drives, Caddyshack quoting contests and 19th hole diet cokes are stashed away like so many broken tees at the bottom of my carry-bag.

Relegated to the past, and doomed to stay that way until something (or someone) gets me motivated to seek the long drive and short putt once again.

Three letters...w-i-i.

That's right, Santa chose to bypass our wishes this year and brought the girl's that holy grail (for the moment) of video gaming systems, a Nintendo Wii. For those that don't know about this entertaining and interactive wonder of modern time suckage, go outside, grab a kid and demand to know how he or she "Wii's."

After you make bail for assaulting a youth, get one of your own and point your Mii to the Wii Sports Golf game and prepare to either swear off the game in utter frustration or fall-in-love with an old friend all over again.

Once I par'd the beginning, intermediate, and advanced 3-hole courses, then par'd the combined 9-hole and achieved my "Professional" Mii status, I was able to channel Kenny Rogers and knew "when to walk away, and when to run."

But it sure got me tickling the memory keys in my brain and there are times now when I watch my 9-year old on her way to becoming a scratch Wii golfer that I can hear my club's whispered calls to me from their spot in the cobwebbed corner of the garage.

My small town of 4380 people actually has what some tell me to be, a decent 18-hole course, complete with pleasantly sarcastic Starter, gas powered carts, and fairways with a solid layer of permafrost in the winter months that will turn my 150 yard drives into 230 easy.

Will Wii lead me back to the links at some point in the near future?


But if by chance I do make it out there, I will have to change out the UCLA golf towel hanging on my bag for an OSU or OU one.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

But, I like the bagpipes

Caught this story on NPR during the holiday break and felt inspired to make sushi rolls for my family's New Year's Day brunch.

This particular story focused on an online poll conducted in the '90s and three dudes quest to create the most annoying song ever. "After gathering data about people's least favorite music and lyrical subjects, they did the unthinkable: they combined them into a single monstrosity, specifically engineered to sound unpleasant to the maximum percentage of listeners."You can read the article from April '08 here, as well as listen to a stream of the "most unwanted song" in it's entirety.

See (or listen rather) if any of your favorite (or least favorite) song elements are included.

Here's a link to the composer's website where you may be so inclined to order the CD's of both the Most Wanted Music (boring, generic, soulless), and the Most Unwanted Music (genius, has a good beat, easy to dance to).

So, how pray tell does the hunt and production of the most Unwanted Music composition make me want to roll some sushi rolls for my brood?

Think about the last time you had sushi rolls and what strange, wonderful, and utterly foreign foodstuffs were contained therein. Yet when combined with sweet sushi rice, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, some farm raised and dried seaweed sheets and a healthy dipping of soy sauce and wasabi, becomes a melody of tempting taste and texture in your mouth.

Or gag food, depending on the adventure level of your taste buds.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

That's Opry with a capital O

If I got right up into your face and bellowed the words, "rodeo" and "opry" at you, what images would instantly pop into your most cultured and esteemed mind?

Yowza, same as me.

So it was with some skepticism and disinclination that I accepted my wife's invitation to join her and two fellow work mates for an evening fundraiser at the Oklahoma Centennial Rodeo Opry last week.

We dragged along the two kidkinz and my in-laws for good measure. Misery loves company, right?

The event was a fundraiser for one of the Opry Heritage Foundation's many worthwhile philanthropy's that are focused on developing young, talented artists and musicians. Everyone there who didn't pay for a seat or table was volunteering their time and efforts, including a most excellent band and surprisingly talented group of performers.

Surprising for me at least. Some of these folk are apparently staples of the thriving music scene here in the panhandle state. And it shows.

When I heard the theme of the musical selection for the night was "70's" I racked my brain to recall even one country/western hit from that era that I could relate to.-- Glen Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy...was that in the 70's?
-- How about Devil went down to Georgia...that was considered C/W and opry material, right?
-- Please, no, not that Elvira song...
But, since the ticket included a prime rib and fried chicken fricassee courtesy of the Stockyard City good-eats staple, the Cattleman's Steakhouse, my full belly and the fairly open minded iPod in my noggin was up for just about anything.

My wife somehow managed to scurry up some primo seats at one of the corporate donation tables up front, and were lovingly greeted by platters of homemade sweets, treats and baked-goods aplenty. Chocolate dipped strawberries were downed by the dozen by my two girls, while the rest of the table got down and dirty with the brownies, divinity cake, cookie crisps, dried fruit and nuts galore.

Resembling squirrels stocking up on acorns for the winter with our cheeks filled with goodies, the lights dimmed dramatically and the band fired up their instruments of wonder.

Hold on now. It wasn't what you think. At least, it wasn't what I thought. And come to think of it, it was so far and away what I think I thought, I actually thought to myself what I fool I was for thinking of not coming.

First tune up, a hopping version of Pick up the Pieces (The Average White Band) complete with visiting horn section and note perfect sax solo.

I don't recall in what order the rest of the songs were played, but one after another, the tunes of my AM/FM youth came flooding back along with multiple rolled eyeballs from my eldest daughter as I sang along with the vocals. Who knew my memory was still so crisp as the lyrics of each and every tune flowed forth directly from long forgotten synapses and often misfiring neurons.25 or 6 to 4 - Chicago
Delilah - Tom Jones
Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash
Don't Stop - Fleetwood Mac
Soul Man - Blues Brothers
Got to be real - Cheryl Lynn
Proud Mary - Ike and Tina Turner
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
Fire and Rain - James Taylor
I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
Midnight Rider - Allman Brothers
I want you back - Jackson 5
Takin' it Easy - Eagles
Okay, not all of the songs are truly "70's hits, and I didn't really sing "I Will Survive," but I did bounce my head about a bit.

There were several other songs that were played and enjoyed, but now sadly lost to my foggy memory of the fun and jazzy evening

These Opry folk put on a great show, for a great cause, and if they can belt out these golden oldies with passion and fervor enough to get me out of the house and into a seat in the audience, then perhaps I'll be able to swing a night or two of their regularly scheduled more "Opry-like" entertainment.

Good vittles, great live music, C was called up stage to draw a raffle winner (not us, thank goodness, otherwise folks would be yelling FIX), PK stayed awake, my wife looked lovely and I got to spend some time talking vintage Cadillac with a genuine car fanatic (has over 28 in his collection). All in all not a bad gig.

Oh no not I, I will survive, hey, hey!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Tried to match it, seam by seam, but could not make them fit.

So my 9-year old's first big sewing project with her birthday present Singer was done, signed, boxed and wrapped up in time for the holidays.

It went to my M-i-L for her birthday/Christmas present.

The material came out of a curtain swatch sample book that my wife found at a yard sale for a buck.

The manta ray design, although it reminded me a bit of a certain feminine product that advertises "wings", was inspired by a discussion between my daughter and wife involving the need for blankets to have gripping handles for ease in tucking and body wrapping on cold winter nights.

The blue, wool tie belonged to my M-i-L's daddy.

The love was all my daughters.

The Lost ThoughtI felt a cleaving in my mind
As if my brain had split;
I tried to match it, seam by seam,
But could not make them fit.

The thought behind I strove to join
Unto the thought before,
But sequence ravelled out of reach
Like balls upon a floor.

Emily Dickinson