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I'm not only the Hair Club president

I told Bearden I thought The Da Vinci Code would flop. I think we made a bet on it, but I canít remember.

So, Iíll go on the record and say I think it will perform well under expectationos and itís because of Tom Hanksí hair. Have you seen it?
Theyíve started putting it in shadows to avoid anyone going blind.

On a slightly different note, can we all agree the book and all the psuedo-claims it makes are a bunch of unfounded nonsense?

Or is it really stirring up some serious theological controversy I was previously unaware of?

- 4/29/2006 11:57:17 AM | link

Old age isn't for everyone

Like Ivan Ilyich without the three days of screaming or any of the meaning.

- 4/29/2006 8:51:31 AM | link

Al Gore Day

Yesterday was Earth Day. Obviously, a link to an opinionated article from a conservative rag, but I think most people probably werenít all that aware of Earth Day in general or they tend to give a tender nod and go on their merry way. This is a good topic for why my wife hates politics (also seen in these pages as the "party of the confused" argument).

Iíll summarize:

Basically, itís impossible to tell based on articles, research, television who is right about any topic or the various arguments appeal to mutually-exclusive rationales (in abortion it might be "respect for human life" vs. "a womanís right to choose") so otherwise well-meaning people shrug their shoulders and continue on with the practical business of life (making money, feeding their kids, getting their car fixed, etc.). I think this is one of the reasons people donít vote (one of many Iím sure, but an important one). Itís hard enough to understand any given issue, let alone weed through the agitprop that passes for political discussion and then decide which candidate or (more appropriately) which political machine might lean towards your desires or way of thinking about the world.

So, take Earth Day. Just at a very simple level, try to answer this question: Are things getting better or are they getting worse?

You can take certain articles like the one above (which is really just an editorial) and try to drill down from there. If you lean towards thinking that environmentalism is some sort of conspiracy to pull more tax dollars, you probably think global warming is a big hoax. If you think itís the only thing standing between big business and the rape of all the worldís resources, youíll likely say something like "The Wall St. Journal is full of shit." But if youíre somewhere in-between, as most people are, you probably think that global warming seems to be something respectable scientists agree on, but you arenít sure how bad things are getting or if you should really be concerned to the degree that Al Gore might want you to be concerned. Are all the various indicators showing a reduction in pollution? Or is this looking at the glass half-full? I can point to just one thing that I think most people have zero clue about. Global warming. I donít think you could get the average person to even explain to you what this really means other than probably to say something like "the earth is getting hotter" or "the ozone layer is disappearing" while not being too sure what either means in terms of impact. And itís got something to do with man-made pollution. Maybe youíre not that person. Maybe you all have done the research and know beyond a shadow of a doubt one way or the other. I did a quick Gooogle search on Global Warming and found the following completely contradictory articles:

The Real Inconvenient Truth - Nobody understands it and it doesnít exist.

An Increasingly Dim View of Global Warming - It does exist, but has been covered up by something called Global Dimming (an even WORSE threat).

The EPA site on Global Warming - Itís bad, but we canít say how bad b/c it all depends on rainfall which is entirely unpredictable. But itís bad. And you should do read all the articles we link to.

Union of Concerned Scientists - A bunch of scientists who agree it is, in fact, a problem and thereís consensus.

Cooler Heads Coalition - A bunch of scientists who agree that it is, in fact, not really a problem and thereís absolutely no consensus anyway.

Let every heart prepare Him room

Did I mention Eef Barzelay? Hot bless, that kid can write and sing. Sufjan Stephens (Stevens?) can stuff a sock in his mouth now.

- 4/18/2006 8:12:09 PM | link

Lawnmower Guy Story #5

Start with story #1 below and read up:

As for [names withheld], we are concerned about them. They are not allowed on our property at all. They both worked for us off and on, but then the brother started showing up around 10:00 at night. He came by a total of about four times. Heíd ask for a drink of water or to use the bathroom. We told him to go home, since he lived close by. We know he also went to a neighbor and was allowed into the bathroom. He stayed in that bathroom for nearly an hour and made a mess.

[ed. note: I canít even comment on this. I really canít. He walked around to different houses and asked to use the bathroom and people let him. And then he stayed in their bathroom for an hour.]

After we told him not to come back at night, we had our front door kicked in and some things taken. We donít have hard proof, but the brothersí phone number showed up on our caller ID before the break-in, and again on a daily basis for a week afterwards. They denied calling us, because we called him to ask that they stop the phone calls. Now, weíre not intending to slander the guys at all,

[ed. note: Far from it. Far from it.]

but something is obviously going on with this neighborhood.

[ed. note: Youíre telling me, lady. There are a wealth of public restrooms that I had no idea about. And free turkey dinners.]

We really didnít want to put this out there, but finally decided it needed to be included in this thread. If youíre happy with they work they do, then, by all means, carry on. We just will not let them near our property again.

- 4/17/2006 7:50:15 PM | link

Lawnmower Guy Story #4

The lawn dudes names are [names withheld] and they have worked for me for over 20 years. Iím sorry Lawnmower Guy did that to you but I have never had any problems with them. I have fed them for years and given them and their family clothes and other items for years. His brother is in jail at this time and itís Lawnmower Guy pushing the lawn mower around. They both are slow and Iím very surprised to hear about Lawnmower Guy being a peeper...Iím a single mom and have never been scared of them or their family. Their Mom and Dad have also worked for me in the past.

[ed. note: OK, brother is in jail, but they’re both cool and I’m totally shocked one of them is behaving in this ridiculous manner!]

- 4/17/2006 7:42:18 PM | link

Lawnmower Guy Story #3

Iím just gonna say a little more and then Iím gonna try to be quiet on the subject. Iím not so sure if some men can really appreciate how frightening peepers are. Maybe it would be more clear if they were hiding under their windows, hugging the walls of their house, trying to be completely out of sight, waiting for the police to come.

Lawnmower Guyís offense was clearly NOT an isolated event...I recall now that the city he was arrested in before was Cleburne. That and my occurrence are just the ones heís been arrested for. Peepers peep a lot more than theyíre caught for and a WHOLE LOT more than theyíre reported for. You know...I hate the word "peeping" sounds so innocuous. And this behavior usually escalates into something more assaultive. When the cops came they asked Lawnmower Guy why he did it and he told them, "I cainít get me no loviní". Not to sound cruel, but I seriously doubt this has changed. I still get "Hey Baby" looks from him and his equally creepy brother (they live with their father...his lawn business was recommended to me by a repair man I used)

EVERY SINGLE TIME I pass them on the street. The
brother probably doesnít know I sent Tommy to jail and Tommy probably doesnít remember because he is really dim. But I have had to try to devise a plan to defend myself just in case. The jail time didnít seem to do any good...he was out on the street before I could clean up the mess he left behind after gratifying himself at my expense.

On a lighter note...I paid him in advance because he crept me out so much and I didnít want to have to talk to him again. So he also got my $20!!!

- 4/17/2006 7:38:59 PM | link

Lawnmower Guy Story #2

Weíve used the lawnmower dude several times with no problems other than stinky gas fumes, him having trouble getting his equipment to work and a less than perfect job Ė but the price is right and Iím sure he does need to make money. He even had Thanksgiving lunch with us one year as he was mowing that day and our guests were late, we were hungry, he was here Ė why not open our home and share with a neighbor?

[ed. note: Indeed, why not?]

Sorry to hear others have had weird things happen. We are reconsidering allowing him to mow this year.

[ed. note: Take that intolerant masses!]

We have used him infrequently in the past, maybe ten times or so in two years. He refuses to use my electric mower and edger on the grounds he does not want to be responsible for damage. Nothing I say will change his mind. I respect that in a way. Anyway, I hate to hear heís a peeper.

[ed. note: Especially since you invited over to Thanksgiving Dinner.]

Heís always been sweet, just slow, to us. Thanks for the heads up Ė weíll be more aware. I hope this peeping thing was an isolated experience.

[ed. note: One peep is OK. Two peeps, no more turkey for you.]

- 4/17/2006 7:34:47 PM | link

Lawnmower Guy Story #1

These are various posts on our neighborhood listserv about this creepy lawnmower guy. He stares at you for a looooong time. Sometimes I have staring contests with him as he walks by the house. He’ll keep walking and crane his neck back and stare at me. If you get close to him, you’ll see his eyes go in two different directions:

[1st post]

I also called the lawnmower guy right after buying my house years ago because $20 for a lawn mowing sounded like a good deal to me. (He leaves a $20 lawn mowing sign on light poles in the neighborhood.) I had just bought my place, and I was busy doing stuff around the house and not paying much attention to the lawn mowing outside. I looked up one time as I was walking through my living room, and there he stood (outside peering in) -- his face was about an inch away from my living room window and he was just as still as could be, staring in. He saw that I saw him(!), and he didnít budge. It really did freak me out. I peered around the corner shortly thereafter and looked out back and he had started mowing again, so I started again to unpack and do things around the house, and about 30 minutes later or so, I heard a sound from inside my house, and the guy was standing in my living room. My heart just stopped. Again, very, very freaky. My first thought was that the guy was going to rape me. I even had the fleeting thought that maybe if I ran fast enough, I could get to my gun before he caught up with me. Fortunately, after I saw him staring in the window, I got the $20 ready to hand to him, and I grabbed that, gave it to him, and he left without making a move towards me. I think heís harmless because he definitely had the opportunity, but harmless or not, the guy is creeping and not quite right. And needless to say, Iíve never used his services before, and Iíve avoided him as I often see him in the neighborhood walking and pushing a lawnmower.

That situation and the fact that my house was broken into were the two reasons why I put in an alarm system years ago.

- 4/17/2006 7:29:13 PM | link

The truth isn't ugly to God

I’m addicted to Clem Snide. I can’t spell their singer’s name from memory, but he’s got a solo album that’s excellent as well. Eef Barzelay? Here’s a song so you can judge for yourself. It’s a little raw, but beautiful lyrics and delivery. Anyway, mad props to Carlos.

We went to Easter sunrise service in Salado this morning and listened to Joe Bentley (LonAnne’s preacher from childhood) give what will likely be his last sermon. It was about Jesus. And Mary McDonald (This is an inside joke which will piss off LonAnne...I’m joking baby...He’s a great preacher and the last of a certain breed of Texas men you can’t beat). I’ve been sitting on the bench, that’s sure.

They’re building a highway that might cut through my mother-in-law’s land. We’re all hoping it’s further out, but her land sits in the zone that the state is talking about appropriating for the idiotic alternative-to-I-35 highway. I feel sure this is some sort of joke or that it can’t happen, that the state can’t take your land without your consent. Of course, I’d be wrong. She said they usually offer fair market value and that’s about it. I already told her I’d be the first out there chained to the bulldozers.

In the effort of full disclosure, I owed $742 in income taxes, but effectively avoided the Alternative Minimum Tax. I still do my own taxes (if using Turbo Tax could be called "doing your own taxes"), but it’s becoming increasingly difficult, what with the millions of dollars in charitable donations, etc.

I watched that Bukowski documentary, Born Into This. It doesn’t quite live up to expectations. I think it just feels extremely repetitious and slightly tedious. If you’ve read Ham on Rye and Factotum, you likely know most of this stuff. Still, he is an inspiring man to me. Perhaps in that mad, Barry Hannah way. Nice interview with Bono about him, as well.

We’re still planning a time to go up and visit Kyle in Canada-land. You should also go. Canada-land is brilliant.

Thomas received some sort of soccer evaluation from his coach which says he’s doing fine. I didn’t really understand it. I don’t understand much of anything the league provides us in the way of paperwork. I ask LonAnne to look at it, but she just laughs. He’s still not as aggressive as he could be, but he’s got some fantastic footwork moves (seriously, he went Pele-style on some kid in his last game). I think the problem is just that this is Rec Plus (sort of like an advanced league inside NASA) and most of the kids on his team are bad-asses. They’ve won or tied all their games so far and frequently against teams with all ten-year olds (Thomas is nine). I tell him it’s good to play up, etc, but it’s a tough sell. He wants to be the best and is very hard on himself when he fails to live up to immeasurable standards. I have no idea where he gets this.

Lucy (the cat that replaced Sparks) is still around and doing well.

I’ve got to post some of these lawnmower guy stories. There’s a creepy lawnmower guy in our neighborhood and the neighborhood listserv is filling up with all sorts of wild stories about him. I’ll post some.