Friday, October 28, 2011

Confessions of a lame voter.

Today, I'd like to ask your advice on something, because I'm feeling...a little inadequate.

I often utilize this forum to rail against America's political system and it's participants, usually as seen through my fogged up, lefty colored lenses.

Which is why I'm experiencing some pointy little needle jabs of hypocrisy.

You see, I am a partial voter. I'm a half-baked, half-cocked, lightly informed semi-participant in America's participatory democracy. I'm that god awful eighty calorie beer of voters.

With the fall elections still ten days distant, I rescued my voters' pamphlet this morning from its submersion in the quicksand of "I don't want to look at this right now" mail on our office desk.

Do you read your voters' pamphlet? Really? Good for you.

I actually do, too; just not all of it. Okay, maybe about ten percent. I like to read the stuff written by this man named "Goodspaceguy," who runs for office nearly every election. He's campaigned on the platform of colonizing space as our planet's only hope and has challenged incumbents in Washington State for the offices of United States Senator, Governor and King County Executive. You go, Goodspaceguy.

In addition, I frequently base my decision upon nothing more than by whom a candidate or ballot measure is endorsed. An anti-taxation mercenary named Tim Eyman has gutted Washington's tax base virtually single-handedly, and therefore I refuse to acknowledge any measure or candidate he lauds.

Plus, I can't stand to look at him and I fantasize about him forever disappearing from the Evergreen State and waking up in a war torn village somewhere in Sudan where government waste is non-existent...since government is non-existent.

Sometimes an organization underwrites a cause, so I read those carefully, since they may appear quite benign on the surface. If some guy is running for school board director, and he's been endorsed by the Organization for Knowledge in Schools Cooperative Heritage Order of Legions and Groups United in National Security, or O.K.S.C.H.O.O.L.G.U.N.S., I probably won't darken his circle with my Sharpie fine point.

You probably also won't see my vote cast for anyone heralded by the Bureau of Land and Management Enterprises Toward Health and Ecological Proliferation of Organizational Reliability, or B.L.A.M.E.T.H.E.P.O.O.R.

Back to my original solicitation. I need your advice about how you decide for whom you vote when you don't even know what it is their desired position does. I understand the duties of mayor, county assessor and city council; the big ones.

But how about "Wastewater Commissioner?" I'm sure it's a highly specialized and important position, and as long as little bits of mercury and Prozac-laden toilet paper aren't chunking up my Britta filter, then good job, Commish.

And based on some of the wastewater I've after having spent four years in a fraternity, maybe Goodspaceguy could figure out a way to rocket it completely out of the earth's atmosphere.

"Cemetery Commissioner" is on this fall's ballot, as well. Again, I must claim ignorance. It's got to be more than some dude with a walkie talkie who calls security when those kids are smoking a fat one at Jimi Hendrix's grave again.

Please, I need your help. I'm tired of being lame.

And it's really a shame the candidate above for Tukwila School Board chose not to provide a photo.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Your 2011 Halloween Costume Guide.

You've probably already decided, now that the big event is single-digit days away, what you're going to be for Halloween. Oh, really? You haven't?

Well, certainly, if you've got kids, they probably nailed down back in August what or whom would possess their souls on the final day of October, but apparently, you're still weighing your options. Okay, no problem.

I'm not here to prescribe any rules; perish that thought. Life contains enough statutes and limitations as it is, and All Hallows Eve is all about breaking the rules and assuming an alter ego.

So that's why, if you're still experiencing ambivalence for all that is orange and black, I humbly offer this simple guide, kind of like how they show Lucky Charms with toast and orange juice as part of a balanced breakfast—it's nothing more than a serving suggestion. Hopefully you'll be able to root out a couple of truffles from my sloppy bog of ideas.

Let's get started, then, yes?

Recent pop culture and media figures are always fun. Even if a couple of other people at the party are dressed as your character, it's always a hoot to see alternative interpretations.

One person may show up as Qaddafi with three quarters of a head and someone else may sport half. Osama Bin Laden's left eye may dangle loosely and caress one party goer's neck, while another person may display nothing more than a gaping abyss where the SEAL's projectile saluted his cranium.

Naturally, you may opt to dress as a being who still occupies the world of the living. Consider dusting off that red Sarah Palin outfit from 2008, but gussy it up with a dab of powdered sugar under your nose to celebrate Ms. Palin's foray into the enticing charms of the coca plant back in college.

You may also choose to accessorize with a front pack for Baby Twig or Tarp or whatever his name is, but this time, rustle up a doll of caramel complexion to acknowledge that weekend Wasilla's crown princess of virtue spent at the Anchorage TraveLodge playing Around the World with African American basketball star, Glen Rice. Triple overtime is what I heard.

If time or money constrains you this Halloween, fear not. A few bucks and a trip to 7-11 on the way to the party are the only obstacles standing in your way of a great costume. For the price of a brown, plastic garbage bag and jar of Vaseline, nothing says "Awesome slug costume, dude," like  petroleum-jelly-slathered handshakes for all.

Finally, think about investing in makeup to replace those asphyxiating plastic masks. Temperatures can exceed one hundred seventy five degrees and the rubber band can cause permanent scalp damage, so take heed when strapping on the fake real housewife head. Plus, let's face it men, we love an excuse to wear makeup. Right? Yeah, me neither.

And speaking of stifling temperatures, do not bundle your child too warmly beneath his or her costume. Those Rite Aid ninja suits hold in heat like a rock salted tri tip roast, and your child will sweat like Steve Balmer if forced to wear a fleece Northface underneath. Always remember—those little rugrats burn hot.

I really hope this primer will help direct you toward the most fun, most comfortable, most poignant Halloween costume to date. And if you still can't come up with something, just dress in normal clothes and walk around with an eleven-year-old who is going trick-or-treating for the last time...

...that is, if you feel like going as me.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The horror movie in my mind.

"Hi, guys I'm home."

It was just after 1:00 AM. We always ask our teenager to duck her head into our bedroom door when she comes home, and it never ceases to put my mind at ease and facilitate a far more restful parental slumber.

"Can I go watch some TV for a while? That movie was so scary I don't think I'll be able to sleep."

"Oh, honey." I hadn't realized my wife was awake. "Just go to bed. Remember, it was just a movie and you're safe."

"Okay, Mommy. Goodnight."

I melt a little when she calls us "Mommy" or "Daddy."

She and three friends had just returned from subjecting themselves to "Paranormal Activity 3," a movie whose trailer claims, "The final fifteen minutes will change your life forever."

What's that supposed to mean? That during the last quarter of an hour, Joel Osteen comes out onto the stage and hands out free copies of his new bestseller, How to Become Filthy Rich, Really Good Looking With Awesomely Straight Teeth and Probably Still Go to Heaven?

Nope. And no one from Scientology or Amway was there, either. Believe it or not, that's actually a marketing tool meant to draw people into this scariest of scary films. From cinema's earliest days, even the silent era, audiences have thirsted for horror.

From 1922's "Nosferatu" on through "Psycho," "Rosemary's Baby," "The Exorcist" and "The Shining," our adolescents have yearned to experience handfuls of Junior Mints and Goobers jolted from their sweaty palms.

Back in 1978, a classic entitled "Halloween" hit the bloody screen. It starred nubile hermaphrodite, Jamie Lee Curtis, as a teenager who systematically witnessed each of her friends being slaughtered by a confused killer named Mike Myers. Did Ms/r Curtis's character, Laurie Strode, wise up and run screaming from the house? For whatever

Hey, otherwise, there would have been no movie, and therefore no reason for that awesome looking girl next to you to dig her nails into your conveniently flexed bicep and nestle her head so close to yours that you could taste her "Love's Baby Soft" halfway down your esophagus.

Actually, that didn't happen. During "Halloween," I sat next to a thirty-year-old, overweight, bearded man.

After my daughter was safely tucked into bed, I drifted off into a peaceful slumber. For a while, anyway. A few hours later, I awoke, blanketed in a frozen film of sweat, after having dreamed of a crew of sadistic serial killers. The only way they could be vanquished was through the ingenuity of the dream's protagonist, who developed a fool-proof method for killing each of them.

The hero allowed each killer, one at a time, to get close enough that the psychopath's face was within biting distance. The protagonist then methodically ate the killer's face off.

Charming, eh?

I guess I saved the price of admission last night.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Moammar is No-a-more.

He's dead.

Wow, finally. After forty-two years as supreme ruler of the nation of Libya, after scores of shady undertakings and downright murder, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi has succumbed to the same violence he nonchalantly doled out since clamping down on the dictatorial reins in 1969.

I realize that my information originates from the same sources as nearly every other citizen of the free world... so what qualifies yours truly, a middle-aged white man, someone who's never set foot on the African continent, let alone wandered into Libya, to discuss the implications and provide analysis of today's events?

Imagination, I suppose.

I can only imagine, after four decades, what sheer desperation and misery must have precipitated a nation's citizenry to rise up against a ruthless regime.

What emotional place need you occupy to affirm a desire to risk your family's lives, your freedom and your possessions, to assume arms against an overwhelming and highly trained incumbent power?

Perhaps the Libyan people procured slight comfort and confidence in their despot's glaring buffoonery,  a trait demonstrated time and again among those who have fallen prior to Gadhafi.

Who can forget those images of Saddam Hussein parading around Baghdad, clutching that massively phallic cigar and firing his sidearm into the sky while being tailed by twenty or thirty mustachioed, yes-man look-alikes? It looked more like initiation night at the Baghdad Beta house than an impressive display by a defiant strongman.

Or how about North Korea's Kim Jung Il, who reportedly injects himself with the blood of virgins to remain youthful, and has actually attempted to rid North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, of short people (except for, you know, one small exception—him)? Those coveralls and platform heels he wears make him look like he fixes really tall boilers part time.

Mr. Gadhafi was certainly no newbie to the world of eccentric beliefs and outlandish behavior, either. He employed an all-female staff of body guards; lobbied to eliminate Switzerland—yes, the whole country, and let's face it—his wardrobe often resembled something Mrs. Roper from "Three's Company" might throw on for a quick trip to the Piggly Wiggly.

But can you actually fathom your city or town reaching the point of civil war? What about your neighborhood, the most welcoming area of them all?

In the bat of an eye, it's not so welcoming.

"Kids, I'm afraid you can't play with the Johnsons down the street anymore. I noticed a loyalist flag on their Prius's bumper, so you're going to have to stay away from them until this whole thing is resolved."

"How long will that be, Dad?"

"Shouldn't be too long. Probably just a week or two after total regime change, and you should be out riding bikes again with Justin and November.

"Now, if you wouldn't mind, son, if we hurry, we can stash most of these rocket propelled grenades in the back tool shed before Jersey Shore comes on. Thanks, buddy." 

Let's hope that this transition in Libya, plus other Arab Spring blooms in Yemen, Morocco, Bahrain, Syria, Tunisia and Egypt manage to see themselves through with a minimum of violence and a maximum of constructive dialogue.

I'm not optimistic, but that's what imaginations are for.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An open letter to my daughters

My Dear Daughters,

You're each growing up so very fast. I'd like to discuss a subject with you before my opportunity to address it has evaporated.

What I'm talking about isn't new; in fact, this conversation has undoubtedly been waged over thousands of years among millions of parents and children.

The subject to which I'm referring involves generational icons of rebellion, psychological chisels intended to pry apart and further expose our gaping chronological cultural divides.

We older folks stand prepared in our roles, ready to crank up our manually generated beacons of righteousness. A full verbal arsenal lies within arm's reach when called upon, so don't be at all surprised to hear:

"Oh, sure. It might look rad and colorful now, but just wait until you're my age and your skin starts sagging like linguine from a colander."

"Oh, sure, you might believe now that half the cast of South Park embodies your life's philosophy, but will that hold true in fifty years?"

"Oh, sure. Just wait until your skin sags like baggy Levi's on a soaked soccer pitch. Did I mention that? I did? Oh."

Okay, so maybe it's not a full verbal arsenal, but we will have made our point.

Look, pierce your ears, your nose, your Achilles tendons, whatever. Dye your hair. Rock a rat tail. Cultivate a  mullet. I don't care, as long as what you do doesn't cause permanent mutation to your bodyscape.

No tattoos until you're eighteen, girls.

Although I celebrate your maverick desire to modify your body with skulls, crossbones and dubiously grammatical phrases like "Vengeance is Mine's," I prefer that you hold your adult self, rather than my adult self, accountable.

Believe it or not, I understand. Contrary to what you may think, that's not a varicose vein on the inside of my upper ankle. It's a full blown tatty. My friend and I, back in college, decided one Friday afternoon to down a few Guinesses, hit the latest Dirty Harry Movie and get some body art afterwards.

Okay, so it was just two Greek letters, and it required less ink than that wrist stamp I got at the Andrew Ridgley show (you know, the other guy in WHAM), but it still stung a little.

And now, twenty five years later, the thing has spread out so much that it looks like I'm on my way to the airport to smuggle a spoonful of plum jelly inside my calf.

Girls, it's one thing if you end up in prison. After watching a documentary on the Aryan Brotherhood, I'm fully aware that there's not a heck of a lot to do in there. After spending most of your time doing push ups or mastering the art of hands-free spleen removal, what's really left other than transforming your torso into Google Earth?

But if you still decide, upon achieving majority, that you nonetheless wish to subject your youthful flesh to that large, buzzing needle, take a deep breath, think long and hard...

And ask if you can do a quick spell check.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Herman Cain steps up to it...and into it.

Prepare yourself. Here comes Captain Analogy again, swooping down to spin yet another unsolicited parable.

When you played soccer as a kid, do you remember a conditioning drill where everyone jogged around the field in a straight line? The player in the back of the line sprinted to the front, creating a new player in the back, who then darted to the front, and so on all the way around the outside of the field?

From my perspective as a spectator watching the trotting line of Republican Presidential candidates while perched on a splintered bleacher, clutching a Thermos of hot buttered Thunderbird, Herman Cain has loped to the front of the queue as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry drop further and further toward the back of the line.

As hard as it must be for Perry to run in cowboy boots, imagine being Mrs. Bachmann  and trying to keep up with that physical specimen New Gingrich while wearing four-inch Manolo Blahniks.

Anyway, back to Herman Cain. The man has not gone away; in fact, he's surging in nearly every poll.

And why shouldn't he be? This self-made former chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza has formulated an economic fix so brilliant, yet so simple, that maybe we should toss him the White House's garage door opener right now.

Mr. Cain is proposing a "999 Plan"—a nine percent business flat tax, a nine percent individual flat tax and a nine percent national sales tax—to heal America's flat lining economy. The number nine, when used in this context, seems so tame, so non-threatening. According to Cain, "if the public understands it, they will support it and demand it."

Seriously? What a ridiculous and patronizing statement. I "understand" spraying Chanel No. 5 onto the eyeballs of bunny rabbits in the name of beauty, but I don't support it and definitely don't demand it. Cain's 999 Plan would effectively raise taxes for America's poor and middle class.

Understandable? You bet it is.

I've grown so weary of slick, highly-marketed political schemes which assume that clever simplicity is all the public requires. Maybe Herman Cain was the genius behind the nine-topping pizza for $9.99, but he's going to have to try a bit harder with this one.

I can already envision what counteroffensives his fellow Republicans are mulling over to jump start our ailing economy:

Rick Santorum's "555 Initiative"—Homosexuals must work for five dollars per hour until age fifty-five or the moment they are cured, whichever comes first. American business will reap the rewards through lower gay labor costs and Senator Santorum has offered to personally explain the "trickle-down" concept to those who have yet to see the light.

Michele Bachmann's "Project 666: designed to turn the 999 Plan upside down"—Six percent tax cut to anyone who spray paints "John 3:16" on six Planned Parenthood clinics, or wears a size six like she does.

Rick Perry's "One" Plan—According to a Perry spokesman, we'll be the first to know as soon as he remembers what it is.

Other pithy campaigns have been attempted like Dick Cheney's "1-2-3" Iraq strategy—Kill one Iraqi dictator, two of his sons and three thousand Americans, or George Bush's "Strategy 888"—In eight years, make sense eight times and leave office with eight people still liking you.

Herman Cain recently stated, "Don't blame Wall Street. Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself." He also believed that the Occupy Wall Street protests were "planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration."

Such enlightened statements. Mr. Cain, it appears that you finally made it to the front of the line.

And promptly stepped in something.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dare you take the love quiz?

I'm home sick today.

No, not homesick, like when your parents make you stay with Grandma and Grandpa while they go to Vegas for a week, and Grandma thinks, for whatever reason, that you love tomato juice and salted green pepper chunks with every meal, and you pray silently and tearfully every night for your parents to eschew any more 9 AM  cocktails and liberate you from your well-intended, yet life-shortening geriatric confinement.

No, I'm at home, sick. I've got a cold—the kind where you can't breathe through your nose, so when you wake up in the morning, your mouth, having been the sole receptor of oxygen for the past eight hours, feels like a sheet of caribou jerky that's been flapping in a windy desert and ultimately coated with a sticky, salty, furry, gelatinous dew.

And that first cough of the day feels like it blew a couple of JFK-sized holes through your temples. That's the kind of sick I am today.

To distract myself from this self-pity, I came up with an idea while listening to my teenage daughter's radio playing this morning. A song by L'il Wayne was playing, entitled, "How to Love." Upon listening to its lyrics, I thought smugly, "Yeah, like you know how to love, Mr. Little Wayne. Don't think for a second that you can pound out nineteen recordings about all the money and chicks and drugs you enjoy, and then on the twentieth, teach, how to love."

I know how to love, little shirtless, tattooed guy. I am a lover of love.

Then I wondered if. just maybe, today's kids hold an entirely different definition of what love is. Maybe it's evolved to where, what was once a feeling of giddiness, anxiety and wonder has morphed into conquest and short-term gratification. So I decided to put it to the test.

I looked up Billboard's top ten songs for this week, both currently and during my senior year of high school. I hypothesized that the lyrics may shed a bit of light upon the mindset of our youth through the artists to which they listen. And to make it more interesting, I'm going to structure it as a quiz for you, the unwitting reader.

Of the following songs, try to surmise which set of lyrics are from 2011 and which are from 1980.

Billboard Song Number Three—

Choice A:
Instinctively you give to me
The love that I need
I cherish the moments with you
Respectfully I say to thee
"I'm aware that you're cheating
When no one makes me feel like you do."

Choice B:
Shine a light through an open door
Love and life I will divide
Turn away cause I need you more
Feel the heartbeat in my mind

If you selected Choice B as lyrics from a gentler, more innocent time, you'd be wrong. It's "We Found Love," released in 2011 by Rihanna. Choice A is "Upside Down" by Dianna Ross from October, 1980. 

Okay, my theory isn't off to a good start.

Billboard Song Number 2—

Choice A:
Maybe it's hard
When you feel like you're broken and scarred
Nothing feels right
But when you're with me 
I make you believe
That I've got the key

Choice B
I am a woman in love
And I'd do anything
To get you into my world
And hold you within
It's a right I defend
Over and over again
What do I do?

I've got to call this one a tie. Each song basically says that it's up to the dude to make everything right. Choice A is 2011's "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5, while Choice B is "Woman in Love" by Barbara Streisand in 1980. Okay, one more.

Billboard Song Number 1—

Choice A:
I heard that you're settled down
That you found a girl and you're married now 
I heard that your dreams came true 
Guess she gave you things I didn't give you
I hat to turn up out of the blue, uninvited
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it
I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me, it isn't over

Choice B:
Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you, too
Another one bites the dust

Unless you've just crawled out from under a rock or have been listening to continuous Christmas favorites for the past thirty-one years, you know that Choice B is Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" from 1980. Adele cranks up those smokey pipes for Choice A, "Someone Like You."

This hasn't gone well. Maybe young folks do understand love. After all, I nearly tear up just typing out the lyrics to "Someone Like You," while "Another One Bites the Dust" isn't exactly penned by Freddie Mercury to see us through a tough break-up.

I suppose I feel better about kids after performing this study. I'm apparently underestimating our youth, repeating the same mistake countless other older generations have. Well, it's never too late to change.

I wonder if the YMCA offers hot freak dancing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ninety-nine percent tea party.

Interesting times, these are.

Every morning, I pass through Westlake Park in Seattle's downtown shopping district, and each day for the past two weeks, I've woven my way through soaked, discarded signs and soggy people. After having been told to remove their tents last week or face arrest, folks lie about on the wet cobblestones, their bodies shivering under rain-puddled  tarpaulins as the sky slowly lightens.

The "Occupy Wall Street" movement, a grassroots rebellion against corporate greed and financial corruption, has spread to Seattle...with a vengeance. The people are mad. The people are disillusioned and frustrated. Oh, and based on some random whiffs of crisp morning air, some of the people are baked.

Now that the left has countered the conservative Tea Party's groundswell of followers, each side has provided the other with plenty of ammunition for critique.

The Tea Partiers claim that the Occupiers haven't a clue what they're even protesting, that they're merely an unruly mob of kids looking for something to do.

The OWS crowd asserts that the Tea Party comprises nothing more than a mass of ignorant lemmings, out to fulfill the wishes of the corporate elite through anti-government, anti-taxation rants.

Hurling accusations of socialism, fascism, communism and slackerism, the Tea Party beckons the "Ninety-nine Percent" movement to get haircuts, take showers, put down their hacky sacks and print out some résumés.

Lobbing racism- and homophobia-laden grenades, the Occupiers call upon the conservatives to emerge from behind their façade of patriotism and religion to lay bare their molten core of hypocrisy.

It's prayer circle versus drum circle, Marlboro Reds versus British Columbia Green.

And beneath it all, they share one glaring commonality...they're scared, and they're sick and tired of being helpless.

When I was a little kid during the late Sixties and early Seventies, the nightly news broadcasts were saturated with stories of the Vietnam War. Along with the footage of casualties and suffering in Southeast Asia were images of protests, mostly on America's college campuses.

Our citizens, heretofore accustomed to achieving consensus and fighting for a common cause, chose up sides and carved a jagged chasm right down the center of Main Street. The youth, fearing forced participation in a sketchy police action, faced off against an adult establishment who had already fought a "just war" twenty years earlier and feared the rapid spread of bolshevism.

And here we are again, forty years later. I'm not crazy— I've got no solution for halting America's vicious infighting; I just want to make a few points:

Barrack Obama is not Adolph Hitler. He is also not a Marxist, which would be the opposite of Hitler. He's not secretly Muslim and he's not the Anti-Christ.

Most corporations are not evil. A vast majority serve a legitimate function and many are quite beneficial to our society.

Government waste is indeed rampant. Even so, taxation is necessary to provide for our country's infrastructure and to curb widespread poverty.

Homosexuality is not a choice. Gay rights are not special rights; they are civil rights.

Even though we may disagree, we're all Americans and we want our country to prosper. Most of us, regardless of political ideology, love hash browns, the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team and Thanksgiving.

I'm sure there are at least five or six other things, too.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'd like to thank a few people.

Arch West died last week. He was ninety-seven.

If we were to play twenty questions, there's a decent chance you'd go oh for twenty in exhuming the treasure for which Mr. West is responsible.

A little back story: West and his family, on a trip to Mexico during the Sixties, became enamored with the snack shacks which populated towns and villages along their route. They returned time and again to sample the salty, fried tortilla chips which were offered at low cost and large quantity.

Arch, who worked for Frito Lay, ultimately yanked the chain to the highly awesome idea section of his frontal lobe...and the Dorito was born.

If I were to tally the amount of lifetime calories I've consumed of every food type, tortilla chips would fall somewhere between all the Baskin-Robbins I've ever eaten and that night at Winchell's Donuts after the Loverboy show.

I have indeed eaten me some chips. And Doritos were the first.

Before nachos occupied every menu from Red Robin to the Target Snack Bar, Nacho Cheese Doritos were serving a second term as Mayor of Snackland. That bright orange powder which coated every savory triangle would slowly accumulate on your fingertips, solidifying into a mealy paste which streaked the thighs of your Levi's.

You had to wipe them somewhere.

Doritos even forced an emergency trip to my dentist in 1976, when a sharp fragment wedged itself between my molar and gum, forming an abscess. The guy poked and prodded and plunged, finally prying loose the puss-engulfed shrapnel.

He proudly displayed his find, now impaled on the tip of his tool, prior to raking it off on my apron.

Twenty-three million chips later, I have fortunately not relived that incident, and I realize that popular snacks like Doritos...every one of them...are the result of somebody's passion and ingenuity.

Today, I want to thank a few people.

Thank you, H.B. Reese, former dairy farmer and shipping foreman for Milton S. Hershey (doesn't the name "Hershey" just make your mouth water? It's like having "Smothered-in-Cheese" for a last name). In 1928, Mr. Reese, using Hershey's chocolate, invented the peanut butter cup in his basement and unknowingly created a confection that usually doesn't last through the first movie trailer.

Thanks to the Curtiss Candy Company, inventor of the Butterfinger in 1923. My love for you knows no bounds, even the cost of industrial mining equipment to pry loose the peanut butter-flavored cement which has chemically bonded with the valleys of my bicuspids.

And thank you, National Biscuit Company, aka Nabisco, for brainstorming the Oreo way back in 1912. Oreos and milk are divinely inspired, falling just short of Dr. Phil and Robin in cosmic compatibility.
So many more folks to thank, but I'm sure they're not around anymore. There's Baby Ruth (1921), Milk Duds (1926), Kit Kat (1935) and Cheetos (1948). And I'd surely be remiss for not mentioning the Hostess dynasty.
Oh, and before I forget, here's to you Edward Knabusch and Edwin Shoemaker. Although you weren't food visionaries, if it weren't for what you two came up with back in 1927, none of these snacks would've been nearly as pleasurable.
Thank you, thank you, thank you...for the La-Z Boy recliner.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My teenager: a post-dance interview.

This is the third one of these we've had, and I think I've written about the other two. Let's see, first there was this one in the fall of 2009, then this one last autumn, so, yeah, this one's definitely number three.

The ritual hasn't varied, other than the fact that each successive episode includes a few additional gussied up teenagers squeezing into our brick bungalow for a high school dance pre-function.

Last night, twenty-five sixteen- and seventeen-year-old children congregated for some Safeway Select frozen pizza, Caesar salad and root beer, electrifying our living room with more giddy energy than a twelve-ounce can of Welch's frozen Robin Williams Concentrate.

They were a fantastic group of kids, at least as far as I could tell, since I couldn't understand them. They spoke a dialect of inside joke humor and abbreviations; curling irons were referred to as "c.i.'s" and the term "for sure" was pronounced "fowsh." Frozen pizza? "Frope."

I realize now that my house is divided between those who speak English and one who claims "Eng" as her primary language.

At nine o'clock, our house instantaneously purged itself of the four inch heels, the short, shiny dresses and the basketball shoes worn with slacks. The time had arrived to hit the 2011 Chief Sealth International High School Homecoming Dance.

The kids retreated to their cars, and the newly silent house rang my ears with a piercing din, reminding me of searching for the Ford Grenada in the quiet night air after watching the Scorpions.

For the next few hours, to the best of my knowledge, the evening proceeded successfully. No police activity, anyway.

I asked my daughter this morning for permission to interview her about the dance while it was still fresh in her mind. She consented, provided I performed the interview while she showered. The following conversation took place as I sat on the toilet seat, talking to a shower curtain.

My words will be in italics; hers in normal case.

So, you've been to a few of these now. Are they still as fun?

Yeah, I guess. They always go the same way. No one dances and then, suddenly it's a huge mosh pit.

Do you ask each other to dance?

No. You just start dancing and usually, you just end up next to someone.

So two people don't walk out together?

No. Dad, no. What the heck? Why would they do that?

What if you end up dancing next to someone you don't want to be with?

If they're a jerk or a bad dancer, you just walk away and circle back. It's really easy.

Who was the best looking guy there?

No one stood out. Most of the guys wear ties whenever they have football or basketball games, so I'm used to seeing them look nice.

What about the other guys? The non-athletes? What about the bad boys?

No. They're not hot at all. Eww. They're gross. They do nothing with their time except pierce themselves and get tattoos.

Lots of tattoos at your school?

Oh, my god, Dad. Of course. Did lots of kids have tattoos when you were in high school?




That's weird. At least one person in each of my classes has a tattoo. Is that right? Let's see. First period? Yes. Second period? Yes. Third period? Yes. Fourth period? Yes. Fifth period? Yes. Sixth period? Yes.

Was anyone at the dance highly obnoxious?

Well, one guy tried to do a back flip but couldn't, and he hit his head on the floor. I'm sure he got a concussion. And then, the DJ didn't get paid at the end of the night because he had signed an agreement to bleep out any swear words in the music and I must have heard the "F" word six or seven times. So he didn't get paid.

Anything else you want to add?

Well, it was really fun, but strange to dance in the lunchroom. The theme was "A Night in Gotham City," but it was really a night in the lunchroom with a sign that said "Gotham City."

I love this face wash. It makes my face feel really nice.

Would you be interested in having your mom and I chaperon the next one?


Okay, how about just me? I can be cool.

Dad, who wants a fifty year old man standing in a dark corner by himself watching everyone? That's even creepier than both of you being there.

Good point.