Monday, September 1, 2008

Factory Sealed For Your Protection

I was sitting t the kitchen table, sipping a cup of coffee and working on a jigsaw puzzle, when I heard a familiar sound coming from outside. I had to hear it a few times before I was able to figure out exactly what it was. It was the FFFFWHAP! of a BB gun. It was a sound I hadn't really heard since I moved away from home, but I sure heard it a lot when I was there. A quick peek out the patio door confirmed that was indeed what I was hearing. There was my next door neighbor, standing behind his house, pumping up a shiny, scope equipped BB rifle. Maybe 10 feet away from him was a piece of cardboard leaning against a steel fence post stuck in the ground, and it was at this which he was unleashing his fury. Ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ffffwhap!

This process repeated itself several times, with an occasional ping as the BB skipped off the metal pole holding the target upright. Of course, it could have been skipping of the chain link fence in the other neighbor's backyard, too. Really hard to tell the difference. At first, it struck me as somewhat amazing that someone whose yard is completely encircled by the yards of others would be shooting back there without any type of stop in place. Especially since just about every yards that borders his contains some mix of pets, children, or both. Then, I became slightly jealous as I remembered the rusty Crossman 760 that I had as a kid. My neighbor now had one of those nice shiny, scoped rifles that I had wanted for myself many, many years ago. Then the adult in me remembered that for most of my BB gun episodes (with notable exceptions), I was living out in the country. I also remembered the time when we were living in Sycamore and I stepped out into the backyard to find that the neighbor behind us had fired an arrow through our solid wood privacy fence and embedded it into the yard. Add to that the times that I have been witness to odd and unpredictable ricochets and I found myself thinking that I should say something. But, as I was trying to figure out just what to say and how to say it, he quit shooting and went indoors. Problem solved.

I passed the info on the situation along to Pinklady when she came home from work. Shortly, I came to regret doing this. She instantly made her 'I am not at all pleased about this' face. This was shortly followed by the question/statement 'You are going to say something to them, aren't you?' Guess I shouldn't have mentioned that I thought it was illegal to discharge a BB gun inside the city limits. So, concerned for the safety of the Thundering Herd, but not wanting to cause bad feeling between neighbors, I pondered my options over lunch.

After eating, I found myself fairly content to let the whole matter drop, especially since there hadn't been any shooting since before I sat down to eat. I truly believe that strategy would have worked had I not mentioned any of it to Pinklady. She asked me once again if I had any intent on speaking to the neighbors regarding the situation. I conceded that I should, and faced with a minimal amount of time remaining before work, I headed off around the corner.

I got no response when I rang the doorbell, but I heard that distinctive sound coming from the backyard, so I made my way around the side of the garage. All the rehearsing I had been doing in my head went out the window when I saw it was just one of their boys in the backyard. He seemed to be quite startled when I called out to him as he was quite intent on shooting holes in his target from 3-4 feet away. I told him I was a little concerned about the shooting and asked if his parents were home. Of course they weren't, and he asked if I wanted him to quit. I said I'd come back later when his folks were home and talk to them about it. Which is what I did yesterday. When I talked to the father, I had to admit that I wasn't totally sure if BB guns were allowed in the city of not. He seemed to be somewhat understanding of my concerns, and we left it at needing to find out if it is truly prohibited or not. To be continued.

Actually, this won't be continued. Section 52.10 of the DeKalb Municipal code prohibits the discharge of 'any air gun' within the city. Pretty cool what you can find online, isn't it?

CHAPTER TWO: Aw, Crap.....That's me.
This whole reunion business keeps turning up one strange thing after another. After talking to Cromag yesterday, I get the impression that there are probably quite a few people approaching this from the 'I'll go if you're gonna go' angle. Actually, his statement was more along the lines of 'Why would I go if there's not gonna be anyone there I gave two shits about?' Not only does that make sense, it's a similar echo to something I heard recently from another classmate who has made the decision to not go to the reunion. To loosely paraphrase her position, she asked why she would want to go and spend time now with people who didn't care about her then. Again, this makes sense to me.

Now, my problem with all this began when my overly analytical brain had too much free time to chew on these statements. I suddenly had the thought, in an irritating moment of self-awareness, that I was one of those people who didn't care. In high school, I kind of stumbled my way into the upper part of the lower middle class strata of my classmates. On occasion, people I knew gave me brief access to other levels at various points along the social spectrum. But I would not ever call the high school version of me even minimally insightful. I knew who I could pick on to boost my standing with certain other people. Others that I probably wouldn't have minded knowing, I avoided of tormented to maintain my minimal status in one group or another. Having myself felt both picked on and excluded, I passed both of those experiences along to other people.

While this was not a really pleasant revelation, it was hardly earth-shattering. In those days, and in many more that followed, it was much easier to do what seemed to be the socially appropriate, or even the personally appropriate thing, as opposed to what I really felt was correct. I didn't want to take the effort, or run the risk, or trying to be my own person. It was easier to move with the crowd, which even at that age I knew would end up being unsatisfying. So, without a doubt, I can say that there are most likely people out there who looked at the invitation to their high school reunion with trepidation, dismay, sadness, anger, and possibly depression, all because in those 4 years, I was one of those people who made their time in high school worse than it should have been.

CHAPTER THREE: How Can You Not Notice???
They were freakin 4" heels. And turquoise, no less. How is that something you can simply opt out of noticing? Of course, in the process of repeatedly noticing that fact, along with the other facts, I would say it was a mere matter of microseconds before I obliterated at least 2 of the 7 deadly sins. Good thing I'm not Catholic, or a would need a Pope selected penance team. Still, one has to cautiously consider, preferably from a great physical distance, the implications of being interested in someone so well armed (in every sense of the word). If the day should come that you do notice a lack of interest on my part when a set of 4" turquoise heels goes by, please check my pulse, as I may well be dead.

CHAPTER FOUR: "Delirious" A Video Review
I really can't think of anything I've seen recently that included Steve Buscemi that I didn't like. This proved to be no exception, even though it took me a couple of days to realize it. Buscemi plays a low level photographer who befriends a homeless man and makes him his assistant. The sleepy-eyed assistant then has a chance encounter with a lovely female pop singer who he then falls for. The plot would seem to be fairly predictable, but this Cinderella-esque thread is a mere fragment of the whole story. I found myself wondering through the whole film, right up to the climactic scene, which is something I wouldn't do with Cinderella.

I think now that this rags to riches element may have been included to make this somewhat jagged story more palatable to general audiences. However, Buscemi's performance, the fantastic set design, and wonderful cinematography take this on well beyond the realms of a mere Disney tale. One of the most memorable scenes for me was one that took place when Buscemi and his assistant go to Buscemi's parent's house to show off his recent success in selling a photo. The exchange between Buscemi and his father is so dead-on accurate to things I've experienced in real life, I found myself shifting in my seat and getting nervous.

So, forget Cinderella. "Delirious" is a rough edged story populated with believably flawed characters and intensely real settings. You can only find this one at Blockbuster, so get going.
As a last note, I can remember having the exact same contact paper that's in the closet in my house when I was growing up.

CHAPTER FIVE: Great Moments In Short Film History
12 seconds. Most of the time, that doesn't even qualify as a station break. On the rarest of occasions, that minimal span of time can end up being highly memorable. Provided, of course, that you can keep that image or event in mind. With my rather sieve-like memory, this can be quite challenging. The only good thing regarding the loss of something like that would be that the degradation of memory is one of the constant themes in my art work. That, and the hope that I may sometime be graced with another memorable 12 seconds.

CHAPTER SIX: That Does Not Go There....
On the surface, it seems to be a fairly ridiculous premise: take a picture, chop it up into hundreds or thousands of bits, mix all the bits up, and then put them all back together. Someone somewhere along the line came up with just that idea. No doubt, that person was looked at strangely by many of the people that knew them. Then, someone else came along and decided that they could take this idea one step further and figure out a way to make money off of it. Guess you can file that under 'Wish I Would Have Thought Of That First'.

For some reason, I still get that sense of triumph when I finish a jigsaw puzzle. That's the feeling I got when I recently finished my 1000 piece picture of the Vitruvian Man. But realistically, there's no real good reason for that feeling. Anyone with sufficient time could sit down, and merely by testing each piece in the box sequentially against every other piece, end up with a completed puzzle. That being said, I still find the process oddly engaging, and at the same time, quite calming. It could have something to do with the idea of bringing order to a jumbled mass of seemingly unrelated parts. Maybe it feeds the need to assign, recognize, and resolve patterns. As someone has assembled tens of thousands of jigsaw pieces, I think I can honestly say that I don't care from whence it comes. It just seems to be something that I enjoy.

CHAPTER SEVEN: Maybe Tuesday
Thursday came and went. Friday did pretty much the same thing. Saturday was no different, and neither was Sunday. Today, being a holiday, is out of the question. Up next, Tuesday. That would seem to be the day when my latest tiki project leaves the relative security of the garage and heads out into the great wide world. Or at least into downstate IL. It would also seem to be the day when I get to challenge and annoy some people at the UPS store.

All that it needs before I send it off is one last coat of lemon oil. Gives the dark stain that shine, makes it look real purty. I have signed it, and decided it shall be called: Knottiki! May he bring much good mojo to the home where he wil be residing.

CHAPTER EIGHT: Meals or Meds?
For all my bitching and moaning earlier this year, here's a scoop for ya: I haven't been taking my meds for longer than I can remember. Oddly enough, I feel pretty darn good. What's different now is the question I tried to answer recently. The main thing I can think of is that I have stopped eating right before I go to bed. After having various tubes snaked down my throat, the diagnosis that was reached was mild chronic gastric reflux. Doc suggested that I not eat for at least two hours before going to bed. This eliminated my after work snack/half-meal. Seemed simple enough, and since it didn't involve medicine or the input of more tubes into my person, I was willing enough to give it a try. While it would involve a major change of habit, I really didn't enjoy the whole tube business all that much, so it seemed like a fair trade. So, I'm down to three meals a day. If I'm working, after I eat dinner, that's it. When I'm off, 2100 is my cutoff time.
The main problem here would be me giving this eating business a false causality. Just because the mental status change occured around the same time as the dietary change, does not mean that the latter caused the former. Still, something made a difference in my overall daily routine. Where before it was a struggle to get out of bed before 1000, now I usually find myself waking up around 0830-0900. Not only that, I feel rested and ready to go. No mega doses of coffee necessary. I also don't seem to hit that late-afternoon-must-take-a-nap-or-die tired spot. My overall mood is good, and I actually have an interest in not spending the whole day in front of the computer (except for entering vastly huge blog entries).

Maybe summer caught up with me. Maybe my late night Dorito binges were keeping me from sleeping deeply enough to recharge my brain. Either way, or if it's a totally different cause, I don't really care. It's just enough right now to enjoy feeling good most of the time. What happens when fall and winter come will be interesting to see, though.

CHAPTER NINE: And Another Thing...
In another half month or so, I will be hitting a pocket of vacation timeequal to an incredible 12 days off! Whoopee! Even in the light of this upcoming event, I am resisting the temptation to generate some obscenely huge list of things that need to be done (which reminds me that I need to mow the front yard). Not that there aren't plenty of things that need to be done, some of which are indeed left over from my last long weekend off, but I have every intent to not go crazy trying to quantify them in some arbitrarily concrete way. Who know, I may even get some of them done before I get to my vacation. Or not.

So, for now, no lists. Unless I get to the point of needing to make a lise to remind myself that I shouldn't be putting things on a list.

CHAPTER TEN: More Spiders, Dammit!
Flipping through the channels the other day, I happened to run across a movie called "Ghost Ship". I seem to remember vaguely when this movie came out, and I also seem to recall not hearing anything really amazing about it. That made it perfect filler for the 20 minutes I had to kill. Of course, a scary movie on network TV (even basic cable), usually ends up being far less than scary because of commercials and editing. That leaves trying to get into the plot, which is usually minimal in your average horror flick. Character development is also something you can usually forget about, especially when any of the central characters spends most of the film with an ax/chainsaw/machete/machine gun/plasma rifle in it's hands/claws/tentacles/pseudopods. That leaves the setting. Now, this is where video games have really outdone the major feature film. They seem to have been able to capture a really good sense of menace or foreboding in any number of games out there on the market currently. But the main setting of this film, the abandoned aged adrift ocean liner, was done really well. Pretty darn creepy. I think I may have to dig through my change container to see if I have enough money to go out and rent this one.

I think if the majority of a movie's budget is spent on fake blood and rubber intestines, it's a pretty good bet it won't be very scary. Graphic doesn't really equate to scary. Graphic can be shocking, but over time it simply becomes numbing. Horror films address this by exponentially ratcheting up the gore level and the body count. Boooooring. For example: Hannibal Lechter will always be scarier than Jason or Freddy Kreuger. Why? Hannibal Lechter can really exist. That's scary. Scary is what happens when something gives your mind a little push, and it starts to run wild all on it's own. Scary is what your own brain reads into something. You don't have to be told that you're scared, it just happpens and you damn well know it when it does.

**Labor Day weekend: summer's last hurrah? Not for me, pal.

**I really should do some tank upkeep soon.

**My two most recen encounters with the Pirate Queen have seemed only to magnify the increase in distance between us.

**A recently rediscovered guilty pleasure: 80's hair metal.

**LOST: one Kittyluv. Last seen in the area of Sandwich.

**Changing channels: Dhawk.

**Number of colons so far in this section:5

**Who the hell do I know in OH?

**The partial answer is Indianapolis. The next question would be to what degree I should pursue it further.

**Blowing the dust off of the Compendium could lead to the reopening of BTD Mechwerks, Ltd.

**There's just something inherently funny about the word asterisk.

**Thus far, I find myself deeply disappionted with the number of respondents to my poll.

**Cromag seems to be catching up to me in the 'rental of relatively obscure videos' department.

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