Sunday, December 27, 2009

Trust me, it was funny

I've been contemplating what to write about my church's (www.valleycc.org) recent children's dinner theatre adventure, in which I participated as the father of the girl who has a dream about her father being the owner of a camel lot (Get it? Camel Lot? Oh, it only gets better from there.) in Bethlehem on the night of the Very First Christmas.

I could tell you all about the six-year-old shepherd turning to the audience and, in Munchkin exasperation, clearly intoning, "She didn't let me finish my line!"

I could describe the round of applause that the lead pastor received just for walking on stage in a bathrobe.

I could share the perfect sense of joy when the preschoolers were the cast for a nativity scene and Mary REALLY preferred that Joseph hold the baby-doll Jesus. ("Thwack!")

I could attempt to do all those things, but mere words on a page could not imbue to you the feeling that encompassed the room when the only person to totally forget a line in the whole show was also the only one with professional theatre experience.

Yeah...that's right...I absolutely "went up." Didn't have the inkling of a clue as to what words ought to have been springing forth from my mouth. That in itself would have been satisfying enough for the huddled masses (in a neener-neener sort of way), but the thing that lit the fuse to the Bomb of Jocularity was my pre-teen acting partner looking me in the eye, circling her hand, palm up, and leading me on with the first words of my line: "I finally realized..."

The place exploded...but I guess you had to be there.

Love and joy comfort you...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Good Christian men, rejoice!

I went caroling a week and a half ago. The reason I'm finally writing about it now is that it has taken me this long to recover.

This was not a pleasant stroll through the neighborhood with a group of guys and gals, getting invited in for hot chocolate and cookies. No. This was a group of 11 men on a mission to spread good cheer, like it or not.

You've got to understand: When left to their own devices, men carol the way they shop. You know what I mean, don't you? When women shop, it's an opportunity to leisurely examine all the wonderful options available...preferably with a friend or two so that it can also be a social event. But men? When men shop, they've got a list (that they've already checked twice) and they know exactly in which store they are going to purchase the items on said list. In. Out. Done. No browsing, no comparing fine details, and as little time away from the television remote as possible.

Operation Manly Caroling was the same way. We met at the church building, piled into three vehicles, and were off to remind all in our path of the sweet baby Jesus asleep in the hay on a silent night in a little town. We drove to a series of houses, though only the event organizers in the first vehicle knew to whom the houses belonged...and I'm not really sure I didn't just lie by saying that they knew.

There was someone home at only half of the houses. None of them knew we were coming (so, of course, they didn't bake a cake...or cookies...or make hot chocolate). And we actually got chased away from one house with a threat that the police would be called...by the neighbors...when they heard the shotgun blasts that were about to happen if we didn't "get [our] fa-la-las off [his] property."

We should have known it was going to be an interesting night at our very first stop: a nursing home. We strolled in to the sun room with smiles on our faces and a "hope you don't mind if we sing a few Christmas carols" on our lips. And to tell you the truth, it looked like we were immediately having an evangelistic effect, because a woman started praying right away. At least I think she was praying. I know she closed her eyes (rather tightly), turned her head away from us, and intoned, "Oh, God..."

The real clue that we maybe weren't getting off on the right foot was when someone turned up the TV so they could hear "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." An employee turned it back down and started moving the gal closer to the set. Apparently, the quiz show fan wasn't used to getting moved around and yelled, "What are you doing?"

"These men have come to sing some Christmas carols, and so--"

"I don't care what they came to do. Leave me alone and give me back the clicker!"

* * * * * * *
I found a new hero that night. She had bluish hair...and a decent right hook.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tootsie lovers, unite!

Sometimes, life just piles up on you until you get crushed by the sheer mass of it all.

It's not enough that everything from poor retail sales to less-than-glorious church offerings can be blamed on The Recession.

It's not enough that Chicago's song, "Dialogue (Part I & II)," especially the part about "does it make you angry, the way war is draggin' on," is still appropriate thirty-seven years later. (For a vintage video of a live performance, click here.) [However, it IS nice that the song ends on an optimistic note...several notes, actually.)

It's not even enough that Jessica Biel is still a member of the Screen Actor's Guild, in spite of incontrovertible evidence that she cannot, in fact, act.

No, gentle readers, all of this pales in comparison to the one thing I recently discovered that, to this very moment, has me looking over my shoulder to see if the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are approaching.

Tootsie Roll Pops now come in Pomegranate.

Pomegranate!

This disturbs me for two reasons:
  1. Who decided that Grape, Cherry, Chocolate, Raspberry, and Orange weren't good enough anymore? Was there some kind of secret poll taken that I missed out on? (Okay, I'll admit that Chocolate leaves a little to be desired on the flavor scale. In the candy drawer under my Grandma Roth's refrigerator, they were always the last to be taken; along with the jawbreakers that had escaped their wrappings and rolled around collecting dust, lint, and roach spittle.)
  2. Who are the fine folks at Tootsie trying to kid? Do they think that we'll think that adding pomegranate flavoring to their high fructose corn syrup actually makes a TRP, you know, healthy?!? What's next, Acai Berry? Broccoli?
But hey, maybe we should take a cue from Chicago and decide that if individuals get together, they can have a positive influence on the world. I'm thinking...Tootsie Roll Pops with the heavenly flavor of Dr. Pepper.

We can make it happen. Yeah! We can make it happen!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving: Let there be Skyline Chili!

The recently-passed Thanksgiving weekend was positively swell for several reasons, not the least of which was seeing a great niece be baptized with water from the Jordan River. (How cool is that?!!?) It was also far more glorious than grand to have all my siblings together for the first time in three years and indulge in an obscene amount of food.

But I must confess, with a slight bit of shame, that the most enjoyable repast of the weekend didn't happen at Clarence and Georgina's table, surrounded by children young and old. The best meal of all didn't consist of deep-fried turkey and sweet potato casserole. No, my friends, the food that found me smiling the broadest was enjoyed in the company of AngelFace and KayJay in a shiny vinyl booth at an eatery in Anderson, Indiana...72 miles from my folks' place.

Behold, if you will, the sumptuousness that is Skyline Chili:


For those who are fans of Skyline Chili, I apologize for making you drool while so close to a computer.
For those who are repulsed by Skyline Chili, may God have mercy on your soul.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Let a professional do it

The current fear of swine flu or pigs flying or whatever it is has gotten completely out of hand. It's to the point where McDonald's doesn't trust us mere amateurs to properly wash our hands.






I was stuck in the rest room for 47 minutes, waiting for an employee to show up.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Almost the News V

At Ford, UAW Braces for Still More Concessions
Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Company is the center of a new controversy with the United Auto Workers, as an over-abundance of hot dogs, nachos, and popcorn soaked with artificially-butter-flavored oil by-products is said to be heading toward the lunch room.

Reward Offered in McDonald's Holdup
A $1,ooo reward is being offered to the perpetrators of a daring, daytime robbery of a local McDonald's. Says McDonald's manager, Ray Onions, "It was just such a perfectly planned and executed robbery, we think their excellence deserves extra recognition."

Rude Behavior Increases in College Courses
Excellent grades are being earned in Flipping the Bird 101 and Advanced Cinema Cell Phone Use.


Dip in Jobless Claims a Surprise
Workers in the Labor Department were curious as to why the Secretary of Labor had requested that paper copies of all new unemployment benefits applications be piled into an empty swimming pool. Their curiosity turned to utter surprise when the Secretary took a running jump off the diving board and cannonballed into them.


Woman Hit by Transit Bus in Critical Condition
Of course, the question still remains: If the bus was in such bad condition, why was it in operation in the first place?


Woman Sought in Bank Robbery
An unusual note was passed to a teller at the TCF Bank inside Lexington Avenue's Cub Foods: "Fill this bag with tens and twenties, and can you tell me where Judy is?"

Health Care Bill Clears the House
Apparently, legislators were so appalled at the rampant spending included in the latest version of the health care bill that when it was introduced everyone ran out of the building.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The early bird gets the earworm

A quarterly round-up of those annoying songs that forced themselves into my head upon my waking from a perfectly good night's sleep.


AUGUST
8 – Key Largo (Bertie Higgins)
9 – Fill My Cup, Lord (Debbie Roth) Starts with the old hymn, but then breaks into a suhweet, swampy, can’t-keep-from-clapping thang.
20 – What a Fool Believes (Doobie Brothers)
21 – Baby, I Love Your Way (Peter Frampton)
26 – Nowhere Man (Do I really need to say who the artist is on this one? If so, you have no business following this blog, you sniveling, ignorant piece of flotsam, you.)
31 – Soften Your Heart (Keith Green) Hmmm…after what I just wrote about those who may not be familiar with the Beatles’ catalogue, perhaps I really needed the message of this song.

SEPTEMBER
1 – Take Me to the River of Living Water (Debbie Roth) The slightly spooky factual fact is that, when I cranked up the car to go to work this morning, guess what song started playing?
4 – We Look to You (Debbie Roth) This preponderance of songs by Beloved showing up in my head is understandable: her third CD, drenched in HOPE, has just been released, and I’m working on my parts to sing with her…apparently, even in my sleep.
8 – All the Earth (Worship song that we sang two days ago, so maybe it makes sense that it’s still in my head)
24 – Can’t Buy Me Love (yep…the Fab Four, once again)
28 – Coffee in a Cardboard Cup (from the musical, 70, Girls, 70)
29 – You’re the One that I Want (John Revolting & Olivia Neutron Bomb)

OCTOBER
1 – Don’t Pull Your Love Out on Me Baby (Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds)
8 – Starlight Starbright (2nd Chapter of Acts)
9 – My Little Town (Simon & Garfunkel) Don’t remember it? Click this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxuEr_p8Z4o
13 – Wells Fargo Wagon (from the musical, The Music Man)
21 – I Just Want to be Your Everything (Andy Gibb) And curse you, Pier One and your Muzak, for planting this in my brain last night.
23 – Dancing Queen (Abba)
25 – Whenever I Call You Friend (Kenny Loggins & Stevie Nicks) When I heard this on the radio last night, I was all “Oh, wow! I haven’t heard this for years!” Now, I’m not quite as excited.)
29 – If You Love Me Let Me Know (Olivia Newton John)

Monday, November 2, 2009

You had to be there...

...and even then, you wouldn't have laughed as hard as I did.

Allow me to explain:

I was watching an episode of The Time Tunnel at hulu.com. Not familiar with The Time Tunnel? It was a one-season, hour-long drama that originally aired in 1966 with the futuristic plot (it all happens in 1968!) of two guys trapped in a mostly-malfunctioning time machine that hurls them into a different historical event (and sometimes, into the future) where they either learn or teach An Important Lesson For Us All.

Sidetrack: Why does the time machine always plop them into the middle of something historically significant? For example, in the first episode, they found themselves aboard the Titanic. In another show, they wound up trying to stop Lincoln's assassination. I mean, if the time machine took them to 1492, it would be a sure bet that they would be tossed onto the deck of either the Nina, the Pinta, or the Santa Maria. No way would they spend an episode in Greece tending sheep.

Anyway, I was watching the episode where our intrepid time travelers were trying to keep a young bugler from riding to the Little Big Horn with General Custer. It was all very super-serious and who's really the savage here?

The young bugler, named Tim, had just made some kind of suggestion about something and the taller, older, scientist-from-the-future looked him directly in the eyes and seriously intoned, "I don't think so, Tim."

Well, I've seen far too many episodes of Home Improvement to hear that phrase and not picture Al Borland trying to keep Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor in line.

I laughed...really hard...all by myself.

And yes, I know, even if I had been in a room full of people watching the same thing, I still would have been the only person laughing.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Indiana Dewey and the Can Opener

Had I known it was going to be this difficult...

Let me start at the beginning:

The earth was without form and...wait...not quite that far back.

Beloved was off on a ten-day adventure: spreading hope and joy and her newest CD (http://www.restinhimministry.com/) to the waiting women of Indiana. Meanwhile, I was deeply entrenched in the final rehearsals for Giant Step Theatre's production of Sleeping Beauty, wherein I attempt to keep the storyline moving along while surrounded by 75 3rd through 9th graders.

The normal course of events when Beloved is away is for me to open a can of Skyline Chili, lovingly ladle it onto a pile of steaming spaghetti, crown it with a heaping helping of shredded cheddar, break out the oyster crackers, and indulge myself in what can only be described as a tantalizingly tasty triumph.

The reason this delectable delight is enjoyed only when Beloved is away is because the smell of Cincinnati-style chili gives her a serious case of the urlps.

So...because Beloved was away, I was driving home from work Wednesday and looking forward to my Skyline Delight when I realized that our electric can opener had flatlined and that our hand-operated can opener was AWOL.

"No worries," thought I, "I'll just swing into Walmart and pick up another can opener."

It was at exactly that moment that God looked down and said, "Oh yeah?"

I parked the car, hitchhiked the few miles up to the store entrance, was about to go inside, and then noticed a notice taped to the door: "Our credit card reader is temporarily down. We can only take cash or checks. Sorry for any inconvenience."

My first thought was, "Any inconvenience? ANY inconvenience? How about 'Sorry for how we have single-handedly guaranteed that you will be overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness?' That would be a tad bit closer to falling within the realm of accuracy."

You see, the last time I actually paid cash for anything was when I was buying tickets for the train ride to Lincoln's inauguration.

By the time I had trekked back to the car, my mood had lightened enough for me to come up with Plan B: Swing into Target and pick up a can opener.

I got to Target, got parked, got through the doors with no news about cranky card readers, and actually found the kitchen gadgets - hung on a wall with care in hopes that St. Chargalot soon would be there.

The display was neat, tidy, orderly...and totally confusing.

My usual whine about Target is that they carry a lot of items...that are identical to each other. For example, if I want to buy a plastic storage bin, I could go to Target and find plenty of storage bins, but only two different models from which to choose. Not so when it comes to hand-operated can openers! There were no less than seven models, ranging in price from 99 cents to 17 dollars.

"What's so confusing about that, Dewey?" asks an alert reader.

The source of my confusion was that Target went to great lengths to make sure I knew the difference in the can openers' prices, but did absolutely zilch to clue me in on why one opener cost more (or less) than the identically-looking one hanging right beside it.

Having no information upon which to base an intelligent decision, I threw the nearest Target employee against the display and purchased the model that did not fall to the floor.

I think I may start making all my purchasing choices that way, because the can opener worked great, and the Skyline Chili was heavenly.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Going to NYC can be an educational trip

Things I saw, heard, and/or learned on my recent trip to NYC and back with Beloved:


If there was an award for Best-Smelling Airport Rest Rooms, Milwaukee would win it.

It never hurts to ask about getting your plane tickets together. You just might end up in the wider, more-comfortable, leather seats without paying the extra 35 bucks apiece.

“Stand clear of the closing doors, please.”

Greek meatballs are really more like mini-brats…and they are AMAZING.

Apparently, NYC women aren’t content with boring their men by dragging them along while they shop for clothes. If the guys can’t come, they are forced to experience it vicariously through lengthy cell phone contact. (I’ve never seen a store filled with so many women flipping through dresses with one hand and pressing a phone to their ear with the other. No wonder the children were on leashes.)

Breakfast doesn’t get much better than a sausage, egg, and cheese on an everything bagel.

St. Paul’s Chapel is directly across the street from the World Trade Center site and is the oldest building in continuous use in NYC. George Washington spent some time there on his inauguration day. Its yard is full of tombstones…from the 18th century! (Can you tell I was impressed?)

Not everyone on Wall Street is trying to break the bank. I met some guys who were apparently trying to break their ankles by rollerblading on the marble benches.

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs isn’t lying when they say they serve “the world’s best crinkle-cut fries.”

The stories about New York City cabdrivers not being able to speak English are not entirely true. They are quite clear when it comes to telling you how much you owe them.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"The trouble with the world today..."

This morning's earworm is so irritatingly insistent, I felt the need to implant it in a few more minds than mine.


The song is "Coffee in a Cardboard Cup," and was written by John Kander and Fred Ebb for the musical, 70, Girls, 70. My personal introduction to the tune was hearing ActorBoy and SWAWOSH practice it (and practice it and practice it...) in our front room while they were preparing for their Broadway debuts in The World Goes 'Round: The Songs of Kander and Ebb at Circle in the Square Theatre. (Beloved and I were privileged, blessed, overjoyed, pretty-dang-happy to have seen them in their opening performance, during our recent NYC trip.)


Needless to say (and yet, here I am saying it), I have no video of their performance to post, but here's what I found on YouTube. Watch, listen, and good luck getting it out of your head.


The amazing Mandy Patinkin:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOiaDI2XE2c


The decidedly-less-frantic Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgz4uB4L6E8

Seniors from Nazareth College, MT:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1g4rL_HV6Mk

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

They say every cloud...

On June 10, 2009, Beloved had the knobs of bone that used to be her left knee joint scraped, sanded, drilled, and totally replaced with a mechanical marvel of human design. And every day since then, she has been in pain.

It's getting better, but it has taken a lot longer than we were led to believe by all the glowing reports of instant relief from others who had been through the procedure.

We were so assured of a speedy recovery that we figured a mid-September trip to New York City, the Pedestrian Capital of the World, would be no problem at all. So the flight was booked, the credit card charged, and vacation time arranged.

Contrary to expectations, the week before the trip, we were researching how much it would cost to rent a wheelchair.

Not happy with the rental rate we found, Beloved insisted she would be fine just using her cane. And aside from always feeling like she's catching up with the able-bodied walkers, she is doing both okey and dokey.

"Excuse me, Dewey?" interrupts an attentive reader, "Doesn't the title of this piece imply that you've got some kind of impressive good news in store; instead of all this whining?"

Ah...yes...thanks for reminding me. The silver lining of this slow-recovery cloud happened this past Monday, September 14, 2009. Beloved said she would like to visit the Empire State Building, and so, being the dutiful, obedient, wise man that I am (who knows which side of the bread his butter is on), we boarded the N train and headed out.

Ignoring the carnies who insisted that a second floor virtual tour of New York's highest point would be far more satisfying than actually being there, we followed the signs to get our Observatory Tickets. The second we caught up with the back of the line, a maroon-jacketed building employee moved aside one of the velvet ropes and directed us to "go right on ahead." Being the dutiful, obedient, clueless people we are, we went right on ahead.

This happened two or three more times, each time being asked, "Do you have tickets?" and each time answering, "No we don't." We finally came to the point where the actual tickets were actually getting scanned into The Actual System and our hands were empty. We expressed this to A Guy Who Looked Like He Was More In Charge Than The Other Jacketeers, who said, "Okay, here's what we're gonna do. You're going to follow me to the ticket window, then we'll come back and pick up your wife."

And I did. And we did. And then we were ushered past the line of people waiting to get into an elevator going up and go up we most assuredly went.

All this special treatment...all this bypassing of lines...all because Beloved was using a cane.

And all God's children said, "Cool!"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Great Minnesota Get-Together

Having lived in Minnesota for only 15 years, Beloved and I still aren't considered "from around here." And that's okay, because, as much as I love the way snow doesn't shut anything down and there are a limited number of humid days in the summer, there are other things about the Land of 10,000 Entitlement Programs that I would rather not be associated with/connected to/blamed for.

Uppermost in my mind at this moment is the irritating propensity for thinking that Minnesota is first or second in all things positive that seems to be part and parcel of having Minnesota river water coursing through one's veins. Specifically, I find it boggling how much bragging goes on about the accomplishments that have either been invented, originated, perfected, or monetized in The Gopher State. (If you ask, I'm sure that someone will claim that the buzzword monetize was first coined by a Minnesotan school child while contemplating how to turn a profit while serving as Hall Monitor.)

Case in point: it is not enough to call the summertime culmination of the state's best 4-H entries The Minnesota State Fair. That just wouldn't do. It is "The Great Minnesota Get-Together."

Don't ask me why it's called that. My best guess is because it is at this event that hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans get together to conspire against my wallet. Maybe it's because, while standing in the mob (there are no "lines" at the GMGT) waiting to pay close to twenty bucks for a plastic pail of chocolate chip cookies (they are mighty tasty, but give me a break), I am pressed together with other fair goers to the extent of becoming a homogeneous mass.

Speaking of a homogeneous mass, have you ever actually had deep-fried cheese curds? Well, I have...and my homogeneous mass grew to twice its normal size.

But I really shouldn't complain. It's just that complaining is funnier than saying, "Had a great time. Ate myself silly. Wish you were here."

Monday, August 31, 2009

Nothing to say, but...

Nothing to say, but it's been kinda long
Since I've posted anything beyond the titles of songs
That swirl through my head at morning's first light
(Not a horrible way to end up the night)

No headlines to mangle or twist out of shape
No stories to make you drop jaws and gape
No questions to ask or pictures to post
No self-important celeb to roast

I've really no thoughts I need to express
And with poems like this, more is sure less
So let's shut this thing down and head for the showers
Catch you all later, when I've pumped up my powers.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Almost the News IV

NATO, Russia Resume Ties

Sartorial splendor turned international today as leadership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia agreed to go back to the practice of wearing neckties.

State Will Spray for Gypsy Moths

...because gypsy moths apparently can't operate the sprayers themselves.

5-Year-Old Drowns at Pool Birthday Party

Why the family was throwing a birthday party for their pool is unknown.

Iran Compiles Issues for Talks With West

In an effort to be more completely educated on the mainstream of Western thought, top officials in Iran are stockpiling back issues of Readers' Digest.

Charges Against Cop Are Upgraded

While version 1.0 of the charges were in grainy black and white, version 2.0 feature full-color, high-definition, user-friendly controls...and a lower price.


Building Faith While Reducing Waistlines

There's a new program at a local church that combines weightloss with righteousness. It's called "Pray Your A** Off."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I Sing the Earworm Fantastic

This quarter-year roundup of earworms--those melodic marauders of my mind in the morning--is, once again, testimony to my eclectic taste in music...and my total dropping off the popular music map as of 1981.

MAY
1 -Time in New England (Barry Manilow)
2 -Last Song (Edward Bear)
9 -Going Out of My Head (Little Anthony & the Imperials)
10 -Take a Chance on Me (Abba)
13 -I am a Woman in Love (Barbra Streisand)
19 -Easy Like Sunday Morning (Commodores)
21 -New Heart (Rich Mullins)
22 -So Much for My Sad Song (Chris Rice)
27 -Let Your Love Flow (Bellamy Brothers)
29 -Philadelphia Freedom (Elton John)

JUNE
8 -Humble Yourself (2nd Chapter of Acts)
18 -Have You Seen Her? (The Chi-Lites)
22 -I Just Want to be Your Everything (Andy Gibbs)
24 -I’m Not Cool (Scott Krippayne)
25 -SOS (Abba)
26 -We Can Work It Out (Beatles)

JULY
1 -Drenched in Hope (Debbie Roth)
2 -Nights are Forever Without You (England Dan & John Ford Coley)
4 -As Long as I’m Singing (Brian Setzer Orchestra)
6 -Heart of Worship (Matt Redman)
7 -Where Do the Children Play? (Cat Stevens)
9 -Man in the Mirror (Michael Jackson)
14 -How Can I Tell You? (Cat Stevens)
16 -Solitary Man (Neil Diamond)
20 -Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash)

AT LEAST THERE'S AN EXPLANATION for July 7, 9, and 14. I was trying to stave off the effects of Michael Jackson Fever surrounding his demise by listening to Cat Stevens during my morning commute. It couldn't help but to spill into my waking-minutes musical cavalcade.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

When I'm 52

Dedicated to Beloved
Apologies to Lennon & McCartney

Each day I get older
I've lost so much hair
Right here and right now
Still, I hope you think I'm worth a Valentine
Even though we know my head shines
I never stay out till quarter to three
Why? What would I do?
Do you still need me, can you still read me
Now that I'm fifty-two?

You are older, too
But let me say this word
I show it more than you

I've never been handy, mending a fuse
When our lights have gone
Power tools are dangerous when in my hand
Give me bongos and a folk band
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
I'm bad at those things, too
Do you still need me, can you still read me
Now that I'm fifty-two?

Every summer, we discover
We don't have the dough for a trip
If it goes too far
Money's always tight
Grandchildren, we have none
But someday we might

Leave me a voicemail, send me a text
Verizon makes it free
Tell me if you're glad to be my children's mom
Facebook, MySpace, yahoo-dot-com
Bring me your kisses the next time we're near
Yes, I still love you
Do you still need me, can you still read me
Now that I'm fifty-two?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Getting to the bottom of the matter...

...no wait...reverse that...Getting to the Matter of the Bottom...there, that's better.

It's true, faithful reader...at the age of 51 years, 11 months, and 20 days, I endured my everybody-oughta-do-this-at-50 colonoscopy.

The problem with this is that folks expect me to write this hilarious blog about it...because...like...it's funny...you know...they stuck something where the sun don't shine. Tee--and may I say--hee.

The reason that's a problem is because Dave Barry has already covered that base in a far grander scale than of which I could ever hope to even be a dim shadow. Seriously, check it out: http://www.miamiherald.com/283/story/427603.html

And the True Truth of the matter is, it really wasn't that big of a deal. Yes, the "GoLitely" bowel-flushing mixture was a little slimy, but nothing to gag about. The procedure itself was a little humbling, but nothing painful whatsoever.

The most fun was the short period of so-called recovery, when I was encouraged to get "all that air we pumped into you out." That section of the facility was quite musical, but I'm proud to say I could compete with the best of the virtuosos.

Not that any of you really wanted to know that.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

If the phone rings, don't answer it

What with a not-completely-successful attempt to avoid becoming part of the Michael Jackson Media Maelstrom, and finding it difficult to find anything humorous about playing nursemaid to Beloved since her knee replacement surgery June 10th, I have officially come up Quite Short in the Time To Blog Something Department.


I was beginning to think that my life had become so drudgingly dull and despondently dreary that I was going to have to change Almost the Truth from a humor blog to a health care forum.


And then along came KayJay...

The phone call was initially a bit scary: "I'm okay, but...." These are not words that a parent wants to hear coming out of the mouth of his/her youngest. Granted, it's better than a police officer or emergency room nurse telling you that your youngest is not okay, but....

"I'm okay, but I'm going to be late for supper...."

Oh...well...that's not so bad. But I did kind of wonder why she sounded like she was crying. It's not like I was going to ground my 20-year-old daughter for being late for a meal.

"...I'm going to be late for supper because I have to wait for a cop to show up...."

Okayyyy...that could be a good thing. She could have been a witness to a mugging or something and had to help identify the perp.

"...I have to wait for a cop to show up and take the accident report...."

Well...it could still be an innocent observer kind of thing.

"...take the accident report and give me a ticket for hitting this guy who perfectly could have made his left turn but he just sat there and, I don't know, I just looked away for a second and when I looked back he was still there and I swerved to miss him but didn't exactly miss all of him."

I guess I need to change Almost the Truth from a humor blog to an online car insurance workshop.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I'm just a guy who says that I am the one

Okay...I seriously mean absolutely no disrespect. I totally revere and admire the overwhelming talent with which God endowed Michael Jackson. His entertainment legacy is unmatched, unequaled, and unable to be duplicated on this or any other planet.

However...

When the star-studded memorial service was beginning, and the casket was being rolled in, and the choir was singing "Soon and very soon, we are going to see the king," was I the only one who got a little creeped out? Seriously...did anyone else kind of wonder if that casket lid was going to flip open and The King of Pop was going to have the Greatest Comeback of All Time?

*shudder*

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

M.J.'s Cause of Death?

Apparently, a vast collection of the tens of...tens of people who read this blog are positively apoplectic at the thought that I haven't turned the recent demise of Michael Jackson into a yuckfest.

Hmmm...what kind of person do you think I am? There are thousands upon thousands of people who suddenly realize that their lives are not complete without Michael Jackson making a hermit of himself in horribly overpriced housing. How could I possibly make light of their pain?

However...

For some reason, I couldn't help but be reminded of this classic little story, reproduced here as submitted to the June 2009 issue of Reader's Digest by Hank Chawansky:

In surgery for a heart attack, a middle-aged woman has a vision of God by her bedside. "Will I die?" she asks.

God says, "No. You have 30 more years to live."

With 30 years to look forward to, she decides to make the best of it. So since she's in the hospital, she gets breast implants, liposuction, a tummy tuck, hair transplants, and collagen injections in her lips. She looks great!

The day she's discharged, she exits the hospital with a swagger, crosses the street, and is immediately hit by an ambulance and killed.

Up in heaven, she sees God. "You said I had 30 more years to live," she complains.

"That's true," says God.

"So what happened?"

God shrugs, "I didn't recognize you."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Almost the News III

Woman, 83, Stabbed at Bowling Alley -- An 83-year-old woman repeatedly thrust a knife toward a bowling alley today, causing only minor injuries to herself when she missed the bowling alley but hit her thigh.

Man Gets 3 Years in Meth-Related Fire -- An East Grand Forks, Minnesota, man recently ran into a blazing meth lab and retrieved a treasured possession: a three-year calendar.

Pakistan Braces for More Taliban Bombs -- Quite a trade was made today in the Middle East as Pakistani orthodontists swapped their services for additional explosive devices from Taliban terrorists.


Biker Killed After Hitting Deer -- A minor incident of bullying soon turned into deadly mob violence as an angry crowd of Bambi's relatives sought and found revenge for a motorcyclist's thoughtless act of punching a 7-point buck.

Police Break Up Two Prostitution Rings -- However, this reporter is still trying to figure out why law enforcement officers were telling jokes to prostitutes in the first place.


Hillary Clinton Breaks Elbow in Fall -- And with this single headline, we have gone from reporting the news to predicting it.

Terror Attacks Down Globally -- A wave of fear has swept over the supply of goose feathers around the world. Consequently, experts expect an exceptional rise in pillow prices. That's right...down will be up.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Food to Die For

This past Wednesday, Beloved had her left knee torn in two, drilled into, sanded off, and stapled on. But this blog post isn't about that. This blog post is about MY experiences in the hospital's cafeteria. [But let's pause here for just a bit and consider the opening three words of this paragraph: "This past Wednesday." Doesn't that phrase strike you as being a bit odd? This-past? Is it this or is it past? This implies something that is present; something that is here and being referred to. Past doesn't imply any of that. I'm just sayin'...]

Two things worthy of note from my cafeteria excursions:

Menu True Truth: The receipts at this particular cafeteria are fairly detailed. Instead of just saying, "Meal--$8.49," they list each item purchased. They are also wincingly honest in making that list. For instance, instead of saying that I had whipped red potatoes, skin on, with a trace of chives, my receipt said "Starch."

Dole 100% Apple Juice: You never can tell what you might learn by reading the labels on the things you eat and drink. I'd be willing to wager that most folks don't know that Dole is owned by Pepsico. I'm also pretty sure that only a few people on the planet are aware of just how internationally involved a 15.5 ounce bottle of apple juice can be. Let me quote from the list of ingredients (this is true truth): "Filtered water and concentrated apple juice, natural flavors, malic acid, ascorbic acid. Contains concentrate from Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Argentina, Chile, China, Turkey, Brazil, and the United States."

I'm not kidding. That's really what it says. I suddenly feel so rural and inexperienced. My apple juice has been more places than I can ever hope to be.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Roadkill Ode

I saw the strangest roadkill
Along I-35
It filled my heart with pity
For what was once alive

Why it tried to cross the road
Like chicken-tales of old
Is something we will never know
A story never told

But there it lay, flattened out
Soaking in the rain
Long past being frightened
Or feeling any pain

The driver simply drove away
As if he didn't need it
Surprising, since the object was
A queen-sized PosturePedic

A drying out, some cleaning
And it'd be good as new
But those were things the driver
Must have thought he couldn't do

Instead, the roadkill mattress
Perhaps a U-Haul blunder
Was left to peak our interest
And fill us full of wonder

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Big Splash from a Little Stone

I had a fun time today rediscovering how funny some of my friends are...and I'm not talking about appearance.

I had no idea what to type in response to the question that creates a Facebook status message, "What's on your mind?" so I let my fingers do the walking every which way but loose all over the keyboard. The result: blusnoe;ona lkdjoe ;lajfopjjkdleijafj fager lkdiej;aj ;lkajij llmohjenpa

Having done my duty of updating my status, I went on about the far-less-important tasks associated with my 40-hour-a-week excursion into bankruptcy avoidance. And that's when the fun began.

First, a nephew simply checked the response, "I like this." Then, a preacher's wife interpreted the gibberish by saying, "You must really, really, really be mad." Our current children's pastor gave away what he thought my status was by saying, "Gesundheit." My Former Office Mate agreed, "Yeah...I'm thinking, did you wipe off the keyboard when you were done?"

At which point, I'm thinking, "Cute. This is like Modern Art. It means different things to different people...because it doesn't really mean anything at all."

The next opinion was contributed by the namesake of my daughter, BuckEye, a former college classmate, who added a theological twist: "You're supposed to have an interpreter." (See I Corinthians 14:27. Click here.)

And the ball just kept rolling...

Former coworker: That happens to me all the time when my fingers are on the wrong keys on the keyboard.

Again from Former Office Mate: Oh wait - you're suppose to use your FINGERS for the keyboard?!? Ohhhhh. That could explain a few things for me - my keys kept getting jammed between the buttons when I was typing. Wow - the things you don't know. (Editor's Note: Correction...the things YOU don't know.)

And then my Big Guffaw of the Day came from another entry by Buckeye's Namesake: I can't believe butt typing would get such a response.

With friends like these, who needs Jay Leno?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hot News Item!

The story is apparently a big deal, because it got a piece of yesterday's Star Tribune front page, pointing alert readers to the full story on A2. And because it's such a big deal, I will quote it here, so as not to be accused of almosting this vital truth that the enquiring public has a right to know:

Olivia Wilde has received Maxim mag's greatest cultural honor: She has been named the hottest human woman alive. "I'm considered sexy even though I'm wearing a lab coat every day and seen as a doctor on TV," says Wilde, who tops Maxim's Hot 100 list. "That really says something. Playing someone who is not defined by her looks and being considered hot, that really makes me feel good." Others in the top five are Megan Fox, Bar Refaeli, Malin Akerman and Mila Kunis."

Let me say this about that:

1) Olivia? I hate to break the news to you (that's a lie...I'm kinda liking this), but your perception that you and/or your character's hotness is not defined by your and/or her looks is totally whacked. The reason the editors of Maxim think you're hot is because they're enjoying imagining what you may or may not be wearing under that lab coat.

2) Take a second look at that list of the top five hottest human women alive and commiserate with me in this one over-arching fact:

I.

Have.

Absolutely.

No idea who any of those honored women are.



My position on the cutting edge of popular culture has long ago been usurped by those younger, faster, and more disposed to actually giving a rip.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Not exactly bats in my belfry...

I'm always on the lookout for something in my life that I can stretch all out of proportion in order to make it chuckle-worthy. Many times, I'm the only one who sees the humor in the situation. Now the tables are turned.


Since last Thursday afternoon, I've had this...thing...going on in my life that everyone around me is laughing about, but I'm not so sure I get the joke.


I walked out my front door late Thursday afternoon, on my way to the garage to get the smoke-belching machine I refer to as the lawn mower, when above my head I heard a shuffling of feet ("Deal me in!") and a guttural, animalistic mruff. I tapped on the part of the roof that hangs directly above our front door and I thought whatever it was that was up there was going to crash through and clamp its jaws on my jugular. If that was a squirrel, it had the healthiest Napoleon complex on the planet.


Later, when Beloved brought me a glass of water, she just happened to mention that our next-door neighbor, who walks the streets (but not in that way) at strange hours, told her that there's a raccoon in the 'hood. At which point, the clouds parted, a harp glissando sounded, and the Truth burst upon my sight: "I think I know where the raccoon lives."


That night, it took us several hours to get to sleep as we listened to the squatter in our attic rearranging pieces of furniture and singing in the shower. I tapped on our bedroom ceiling with a yardstick and Rocky Raccoon answered back with the drum part from Wipeout.


Bleary-eyed and dragging, I was making animalistic noises myself as I arrived at work Friday morning and quickly did some research on the World Wide Wackfest to find a professional answer to my woes. My co-workers, of course, were quick to come up with a plethora of possible paths to take, but I just didn't think it was practical to put a cougar in my attic or a howitzer in my driveway.

The founder and CEO of Elmer's Varmint Gitters ("We git 'em dead or git 'em gone!") arrived at the homestead Friday afternoon and put a trap on the roof, next to the hole that "I've been meaning to get to once the weather got nice enough for the squirrels to be outside." The idea being, when the nocturnal critter leaves the attic to get some grub (or possibly, quite literally, some grubs), it will end up in a one-way crate to the wastelands of Farmington, free to infest someone else's attic.

As I write these words, it is Wednesday afternoon. The wire mesh connecting the hole to the trap has been peeled away, an additional escape has been made by a board being pried into the soffit, and we are no longer being kept awake by the sounds of scampering raccoon feet...

The sound robbing us of sleep now is guttural, animalistic laughter.

Monday, May 4, 2009

...the mice will play.

The continuing saga of my life as a temporary bachelor, while Beloved records the vocals for her 3rd CD (http://www.restinhimministry.com/).

Thursday, April 30
Lunch wasn't worth mentioning...except that I just did mention it as being not worth mentioning...which is not the same as being unmentionable...but nobody would eat unmentionables for lunch anyway.

I was handed a wonder-inducing bit of information today. A friend (on Facebook, of course) wrote to tell me that she was looking at baby names and found out that Dewey, according to http://www.babynames.com/, actually means "beloved." How freakishly appropriate is that, seeing as how that's what I call my wife...Beloved, not Dewey.

Had a great taco salad for dinner (thanks for the leftovers, AngelFace) and became one with the couch as I watched Marlon Brando and Yul Brynner ("Yuuuuuul Brynner watch out,. Yul Brynner not cry. Yul Brynner not pout. I'm tellin' you why...") in 1965's ManMovie, Morituri. Once again, I totally missed where the farnsworth that title came from...maybe it was made clear during the several minutes I was sleeping.

Friday, May 1
Very productive day: finished off the leftover taco fixings, made reservations at a bed & breakfast to celebrate my 30th anniversary with Beloved, completed the organize-the-CDs project, and still managed to change my language of choice on Facebook to "English (Pirate)." This be the actual, factual truth, mateys! My birthday is now listed as Arrrrgust 2. And instead of deleting anything, I now get to keelhaul it or send it to Davy Jones. How cool is that?

Tonight's movie, Operation Crossbow, starring George Peppard and Sophia Loren was good enough that I stopped it a little less than an hour from the end so I could actually be awake for it on Saturday.

Saturday, May 2
Good thing I was awake for the final 30 seconds of yesterday's ManMovie. That was the only time the phrase "Operation Crossbow" was actually used.

The joy of today was that both lunch and dinner were provided by my neighbors' celebration of their daughter's third birthday. I know I'm putting my reputation as a curmudgeon at risk, but I pretty much melt whenever I'm around her. (She effects global warming that much!)

The original intent of chronicling my exploits while Beloved is away was to encourage myself to actually accomplish some things. It doesn't appear to be working, though, because while I was telling myself that I absolutely must recaulk the shower, I navigated over to hulu.com and watched Thank You, Mr. Moto. Peter Lorre rocks my world.

ManMovie Report: Got started on A Bridge Too Far, but also got started on dozing off. Narcolepsy and movie marathons don't mix well.

Sunday, May 3
Thanks to some Swell People at my church, I am now 10% toward my fundraising goal for Amnion Crisis Pregnancy Center's "Life is Beautiful" Walk (Click here to offer your support). Thanks to my feigned cynicism, I notice that 90% is still a long way to go in only 13 days.


The primo-supremo lunch of the whole adventure happened today: Skyline chili, lovingly ladled over a bed of pasta and caressed by a massive mound of finely-shredded cheddar cheese...lazily indulged in with a healthy helping of oyster crackers. Ack! sry, my kyebrd iz sotrhing owt...too mcuh druul...

Finished A Bridge Too Far. You sure can tell it was made in 1977 and not 1947. The war flicks from the 40s that I've been watching all week were all about victory in the face of overwhelming odds. This 3-hour, star-studded, cinemascopic event was all about the Allied troops biting off more than they could chew and being forced to back off in defeat. Was this a World War II movie or a Vietnam movie? Hmmmm...

Monday, May 4
Beloved returned today and the cans of Skyline chili are all nestled snug in their beds. The ManMovies are ready to be returned to their rightful residence. I have vacuumed and caulked and wiped-down and straightened-up. Time to get back to Real Life.

And make no mistake about it...I'm grateful.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

While the cat's away...

Beloved is in Indiana busily recording the lead vocals on her third CD project, drenched in HOPE (read all about it at http://www.restinhimministry.com/), and I'm on my own.

Early on in our marriage, if we were going to be separated for any length of time, she would pre-prepare meals, get them all organized in the freezer, and leave a detailed note on how to warm them up. Well, either her confidence in my ability to survive without her has quadrupled, or she has stopped caring whether I live or die. Her words to me upon her departure this time: "There's some leftover spaghetti in the fridge, if it hasn't gone bad yet."

And eating is actually one of the least of my concerns when Beloved is away. Boredom tops the list. I simply lose all motivation to accomplish anything of note when she's not around. Perhaps if I commit to creating a record of my sans Beloved activities, it will give the oomph to do SOMEthing...

Friday, April 24
Following a dinner of eggbake (leftover from last Saturday's jewelry "party"), I spent some time at my church's (http://www.valleycc.org/) "Family Fun Night," watching preschoolers throw a volleyball under a net and high schoolers throw a basketball (and a couple junior highers) through a net. Then I went home and cried while watching a YouTube clip of a few hundred people dancing to "Do Re Mi" (from The Sound of Music) in the middle of a train station in Belgium. I don't know why I cried, but I did. And I have with each subsequent viewing. Maybe you should check it out (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkBepgH00GM) and see if you can explain me to me.

Saturday, April 25
Had a heart-stopping breakfast of bacon, three eggs, toast, cheese and juice. And just to make it completely dangerous, cardio-vascularly speaking, I spent all morning sitting at the computer, writing pastoral-type e-mails on Facebook. After picking up our lawn mower from the little old magician who was getting it into gear for the summer that will some day arrive, I posted "Almost the News II" and started this post.

The evening repast was a large bag of movietime popcorn and a Cherry Coke while I watched State of Play. It was a good movie; easy to sit through; even when the slightly older woman in the row behind me would loudly gasp at every single plot twist. I have no idea what the title means, but I'm really hesitant to admit that for fear that it reveals how utterly stupid I am. I am also still in a state of shock from learning that popcorn refills are no longer free. Somebody fix the economy!

Sunday, April 26
Led worship and tried to entice people to sponsor me in Amnion Crisis Pregnancy Center's "Life is Beautiful!" fundraising walk (http://www.firstgiving.com/dewey4life). Nothing was growing on the spaghetti, so I warmed it up and wolfed it down. After looking through the paper (napping), there was a pre-marital counseling session with a couple who is having an out-of-town minister perform the ceremony. (That's really a great arrangement. I get to do the important [but really too late in the game] stuff, and the other guy has to sweat through all the icky details of who-stands-where and what-happened-to-the-ushers.)

Monday, April 27
Lunch at work was a bologna and cheese sandwich, corn chips, and raisins. Yeah...that's how exciting it is when there's no leftovers going on at home to take for lunch. Dinner was a different story, praise God. My neighbor and his 3-year-old princess were bach-ing it for a few days, so he invited me over to try his Pork Chops Mexicali. They were so good, I offered to be his wife.

After dinner, I picked out some shirts to put in the donation bag for the Vietnam Vets who were coming through the neighborhood in the morning (brandishing machetes and semi-automatic weaponry, no doubt), watched Gossip Girl in hopes that ActorBoy's appearance would be this week (it wasn't; maybe May 4th), and popped in the first of seven ManMovies being loaned to me in my temporary bachelordom: 1957's The Enemy Below, starring Robert Mitchum. The man's nickname should be "Monotone Mitchum." Seriously...there was one scene where he was telling another naval officer about how his wife died right before his eyes. He might as well have been discussing the color of paint on the ship's deck, for all the emotion he mustered up.

Tuesday, April 28
I worked from home in order to facilitate a 2-hour break from 9:30-11:30 so I could speak on behalf of Amnion Crisis Pregnancy Center (http://www.amnioncpc.org/) in a high school health class. I know, I know...everybody thinks that a guy telling teenagers to keep their pants on is like asking the ocean to stop waving at you. Survey says...BZZZZZ! True truth: 52.2% of American teenagers are NOT sexually active. That's the majority, babyyyy!

To reward myself for a job well done, I grabbed a Filet-O-Fish and some fries on the way back home. Mickey D's is now printing "Nutrition Facts" on their food containers. (Kind of like Hitler publishing a list of his favorite Jews.) Just by being a good boy and eating all my fries, I took care of 38% of my daily need for fat. That's called efficiency!

I finished off the last of the spaghetti and had some steamed broccoli with it for dinner, followed by a rousing session of paying bills, balancing the checkbook, and watching Humphrey Bogart fight the Germans in Sahara.

Wednesday, April 29
More bologna and cheese for lunch, but AngelFace came over and made tacos for the two of us for dinner. And there were leftovers!!!! The rest of the evening was spent at church with my small group of prayer warriors and then on the couch watching John Wayne in Flying Tigers. This was definitely the best Man Movie of the week so far: some decent air battle sequences, a good helping of humor, a pretty nurse, and The Duke, for crying out loud!

To be continued. The world breathlessly awaits...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Almost the News II

Mexican Police Nab Drug Cartel Heir
In a surprising bit of fighting fire with fire, law enforcement officers in Mexico City grabbed an heir to one of Mexico's most notorious narcotics empires as he was exercising in a city park. The drug lord soon received a non-traceable phone call demanding several million pesos in exchange for the heir's safe return. When asked about the unusual tactic, Sheriff Manuel Transmission stated, "It's the only way we can afford to purchase new cruisers for the precinct."


School Bus Firm to Pay $1.2M for Death Suit
A purchase agreement was finalized today for a school bus to purchase a set of clothing in which to die. (Yeah...I don't get it either...)

Laid-off Workers May Get Help With Cobra
Workers who have lost their jobs at small businesses since the first of September have come up with a unique way of increasing their chances of returning to work. They are threatening their former employers with large snakes.

Soldier Cited in Theft of War Cash
Apparently, either superhuman strength or a lot of heavy equipment was used by Captain Michael Nguyen. Otherwise, how could he make off with a building full of huge brushes and miles of hoses and...wait a minute...that doesn't say "Car Wash," does it?

Kim Jong Il Returns to Public Spotlight
Following a well-received concert of crowd favorites, Korea's president was called back on stage for no less than three encores. It is reported that the thunderous applause and the well-armed soldiers standing at the exits had no correlation whatsoever.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Direct from Studio A

The real purpose of my recent trip back to the land of my origin (Indiana) was to participate in the first steps of recording Beloved's newest CD project, drenched in HOPE. (To get the updated update and find out more about what that's all about, go to http://www.restinhimministry.com/.)

I didn't write anything for this album, but the performance standards were lowered enough for me to sing a duet on one song, be part of a choir of singers for another, and add the special effects of my Chilean rainstick on a couple others.

None of those things were what you might imagine...

DUET: The song is "Be Ye Glad," and Beloved and I have been singing it together for...ummmm...several years. But of course, the arrangement on the CD is totally different from that with which we are accustomed. (Whew! All those words...just to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition. What kind of carbon footprint did THAT leave?) Now, when I say "duet," you probably think we stood together at a couple microphones and sang the song. And you would be wrong. We were in separate rooms...something about too much greatness all in one place putting a strain on the recording equipment, I think. And the fact is, Beloved's upper respiratory system had declared war on the rest of her body. Part of the collateral damage was that she couldn't sing with me...so I was singing harmony all by myself. I'm hoping that's a fitting explanation as to why it took 87 takes to get it right.

CHOIR: No, there was not a large number of singers in the studio that I was allowed to sing along with--er--with which I was allowed to sing. (Stupid-stupid grammar rules!) I was all alone, singing the choruses (chori?) of "How Great You Are." The rest of the Sweetwater Tabernacle Choir (which will probably actually be 4 or 5 people singing the parts 3 or 4 times) will be recorded later. The cool thing is that I got to set the pace in terms of phrasing and all that jazz. The professional background singers are going to have to match what I did. Yeah...good luck with that.

RAINSTICK: With the title of the album being drenched in HOPE and most of the songs having some kind of water reference, it was a fitting thing to include the playing of my Genuine Rainstick from Chile in the background of some of the songs. The scary thing was that it's one thing to play around with a rainstick on a worship team and something entirely else to have that playing around be digitally preserved for centuries to come. Every little tink-tink-trickle sounded like a tsunami, and I had to be very gentle and precise and meticulous and sweaty.

All in all, though, it was a fun experience: the hired instrumentalists were amazing, the ability to go back and fix just one note in the middle of a song was magical, and the lunchroom was reasonably priced.

Who could ask for anything more?

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Loins from Whence I Sprang

I spent last week in the Crossroads of America: the great state of Archway cookies and Seyferts potato chips and Johnny Appleseed and racing cars that bear the nickname of the capital. The residents are called Hoosiers, and no...nobody really knows where that term originated.

Spending a week living with my parents is an occasion for circumspection, self-awareness, and room freshener. Seriously, my dad is the king of flatulence. I once saw him clear out a whole section of the Allen County Memorial Coliseum during a Komets game. It even melted a section of the ice...the Zamboni got stuck and the hockey game had to be postponed.

If you've been around Almost the Truth for a bit, you know that I like to give the people in my life hip-as-all-get-out nicknames. (Beloved=my wife, AngelFace=the oldest daughter, ActorBoy=my only begotten son, etc.) So, in contemplating a posting about spending a week Back Home Again in Indiana, I tried to come up with something appropriate for my parents: GasKing and SweaterGirl? (Mom is always cold and wears a sweater.) SayWhat (Dad's got hearing aids he seldom wears) and WordSearch (Mom's favorite word game)?

Nothing I came up with could beat their actual names: Clarence and Georgina.

Clarence was born in 1924 and has known little but hard work his whole life. Well...hard work and lots of meat and potatoes. Lots...of meat...and potatoes. He fittingly likes to say that he has furniture disease. That's where your chest has fallen down into your drawers. But it's not that he's fat. He's just always been what used to be called stocky. As in, he could lift a stock car by himself.

Georgina entered life on Planet Earth in 1929 and in addition to raising five children, she has worked as a secretary in both a distribution center and a church. It's good that she got out of the secretarial pool when she did, though, because computers absolutely freak her out. Did I say "computers?" HA! Her phone doesn't even have an answering machine. In fact, mechanical pencils make her break out in a sweat.

They do like their satellite dish TV, though. Where else could they still watch Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and Hee Haw?

Endlessly.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Almost the News

St. Thomas on Track for $118M Expansion
In a bizarre turn of events today, the Doubting Apostle was tied to the local railroad track, not in retribution for his presumed lack of faith, but because he was instrumental in the recent high-cost expansion at the university that bears his name.

Man Gets Workhouse for Shooting His Friend
The bartering system sank to new depths when Benedict DiMucci received payment for the assassination of a friend in the form of a workhouse. DiMucci is quoted as saying, "Hey...even a hitman needs a roof over his head."

Climate Debate Puts Nuclear Back on the Table
Things got decidedly out of hand at today's Global Warming Summit as the delegate from North Korea, frustrated by having his proposals pooh-poohed, pulled a nuclear warhead out of his attache' and set it on the table.

Priest for Lepers to Become Saint
The Vatican has announced that the number of lepers awaiting sainthood has become so large, they require the services of their very own priest.

Man Back in Court After Poop Incident
I have no strange twist to add to this actual headline. It strikes me as being strange enough all on its own.

Police in Pakistan Try to Contain Protests
Attempts to contain the growing tide of protesters in Pakistan were put on hold recently when it was discovered that Tupperware doesn't make a large enough Seal-N-Serve.

Man Who Shot Two Cops Ruled Insane
It has been discovered that the Hollandale man who shot at two Owatonna police officers was formally the potentate of a Middle-Eastern nation, even though he was certifiably insane.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Almost the Nativity

I view the Bible as being 100% truthful and reliable...however...it doesn't always report 100% of what actually happened. At times, it uses figures of speech and poetic language and just plain leaves some things out.

For example, what really happened between Luke 1:26-56 and Matthew 2:18?

Following the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah, and Mary's hasty, three-month visit with her kinswoman, Elizabeth, she returned to Nazareth and her betrothed, Joseph.

"Joseph?" Mary inquired, as she entered the carpenter's shop.

"Is that the voice of my turtle dove?" laughed Joseph as he picked Mary up and swung her around in joy.

"Careful, you glorified lumberjack."

Joseph was a little confused about needing to be careful, so Mary continued: "I've got some wonderful news, oh hubby-to-be! I am expecting a child."

"That's a wonderful, positive attitude, my basket of flower petals. I, too, expect that our God will be gracious and grant to us the blessing of being parents." (Joseph was not the sharpest chisel in the toolbox.)

"You don't understand, my muscular ox. I am, even now, at this very minute, expecting a child."

Joseph tilted his head to one side, squinted, and slowly said, "Yea, verily...me, too."

Mary slipped her hands up Joseph's arms and cupped his face. "Let me speak plainly, oh He Who Is Strong of Arm and Thick of Skull. I'm preggers."

The light dawned excruciatingly slowly in the carpenter's mind: "Heyyyyy...what were you doing for the last three months, anyway? I thought you were visiting your cousin Elizabeth. Is there something in the water up there?"

"Joseph," Mary calmly interjected, "I am not pregnant by the effort of any man. God has placed this child within me."

"Riiiiiiiight."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

...in all the wrong places

In a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly (#1036, 02/27/09, to be exact), Lindsay Soll wrote an interview piece focused on the television show, The Bachelor.

That in itself would be a journalistic event worthy of our fullest powers to ignore, but I noticed something interesting in a sidebar to the interview that answered the burning question, "Past Bachelors: Where are they now?" Season 7's bachelor, Charlie O'Connell received this write-up:

Jerry O'Connell's li'l bro is back with his now-fiancee, Sarah Brice, after breaking up in 2007. The pair are pitching a reality show about their romance. "We didn't fully know each other when we started dating," says O'Connell. "We're looking to move back in together, but the right way this time."

"The right way" being with television cameras continuously focused on your every move? Is that what you're suggesting, Chuck? Yes indeed...you've really learned your lesson now, huh bud?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dewey needs...

One of the latest things to hit Facebook (and you know that I am all about the latest things) is a little exercise in narcissism wherein the practitioner does a Google search on the World Wide Wackfest (www) for the words "Practitioner'sName needs" and then posts the phrases found floating in the Ethernet for all the world to see.


And so, here are the top results for "Dewey needs..."


...shoes
...a home for the holidays
...to regain the pace he once had and develop a step rather than trying to run over everyone
...a glass of water to help him relax but instead discovers marijuana
...a lot of freedom in his close one-to-one relationships and he may experiment with nontraditional forms of relationships
...to win to surpass Donato Hanover’s single season TROTTING earnings record of $233,6190 set in 2007
...to get his act together, lose the frat-boy persona, and learn how to teach
...just four assists to move into the UIndy all-time top ten
...sleep
...to be corrected and modified and brought up to date
...to find a job, and as fate would have it, he decides to take Ned’s
...some schema information for labeling
...shelter only John can provide
...a social life.
..to place a call to Burt Hooten and ask for advice in getting Wandy straightened out
...a win Friday in order to still be playing on Week 11
...Emersonian nudgings to help learn the value of the nonconformist within society
...to abstain from sex for the entire weekend, and if he does, his prize is Jay's virginal Jesus freak sister
...a watch
...to be held properly accountable for failing to pay explicit attention to the specific nature of the power relations surrounding him
...to be mentioned as a leader in education
...to be saved
...all the energy she can muster
...to take a physics class
...money, and desperately wants to enter the local battle of the bands competition
...a ride to the arcade
...a little training (but learns quickly!) and is quite energetic - he'd make a great outdoor companion
...to be replaced
...a full-time team of translators with a language and library background and some input from specialists
...a haircut
...not only to be studied but to be emulated
...a gazebo and money needs to be raised so it can be built
...fired and Davis needs voted out
...to swab a lot of decks
...no defense for his action, certainly
...to be even cooler than me, 'cause he has all that Husky hair
...extra gear for the annual burn convention
...comforting
...to alter five feral cats who are living under a trailer next to her
...your help now
...more than the vet
...to try and pull up a picture on that camera phone, and say, “Dang, I run my own business, but I can’t operate my cell phone!"
...you
...to save all of his friends from an evil baron who wants to pollute the world
...to come up with a hit song
...a ratings boost
...a written report from each person
...to be on quality senior feed as well as hay pellets due to the fact that his teeth are worn down with age
...to be outside by himself in order to go
...miles and an owner with time to spoil him; he was an orphan so he is accustomed to lots of attention from people
...camera lessons
...a biblical lecture from Glenn Dickey
...a plan
...no introduction
...to understand that we no longer live in the 1970's
...a new blog entry [Ah-HA! So THAT'S what this was really all about!]

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Return of the Earworm

Last Wednesday morning, I inexplicably woke up with an old, old, old Pepsi jingle running around in circles in my head. (Not that it was inexplicable that I woke up. In fact, it was quite understandable that I woke up...what with my alarm ringing and all.)

"Taste that beats the others cold...Pepsi pours it on."

After I had unsuccessfully exhausted all attempts at purging the nasty earworm from my consciousness, I started wondering, "Whatever happened to the Cola Wars?" Back in the 1980s, there was a series of commercials spewing forth from Pepsi and Coke that were basically attack-ads aimed at each other. There was some pretty funny stuff, including nursing home residents sucking on Cokes but being transformed into young, hip party-ers when someone delivers Pepsi to them instead. ("The choice of a NEW generation.")

But I realized that I hadn't seen anything even approaching a Cola War ad for a long time. To be more exact: a very long time.

But then I realized that I hadn't seen any cola TV commercial for a very long time.

But then I realized that I hadn't seen any television ads at all in a very long time.

And then I remembered..."Oh yeah...I don't watch TV much anymore." Most of my boob tube entertainment infiltrates my sphere of awareness via either DVD or www.hulu.com. (A moment of silence, please, for "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.")

* * * * * * *

While doing the exhaustive research necessary to keep this post historically accurate, I found that the Cola Wars have been reignited. This was posted by the news service, Reuters, on January 22nd of this year:

Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are reigniting the long-smoldering "cola wars" with new marketing, hoping to stem a 3-year U.S. sales decline of carbonated drinks.

Coke is launching a global marketing campaign this week for its iconic cola brand, weeks after Pepsi introduced new marketing and overhauled the logos of its soft drinks, including its flagship cola.

"I don't think we've seen this kind of head-to-head competition from the cola giants for probably a decade or so," said John Sicher, publisher of industry newsletter Beverage Digest. "In my view, the cola wars are back on in a very intense and dramatic way."

Yeah...so intense and dramatic that none of us was aware it was happening. But then again, I've already established that even though my best friends while growing up were Captain Kangaroo and Gilligan, my television awareness in the recent past is comparable to my skill with power tools. ("Back away from the reciprocal saw, Dewey.")

But then I realized that this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Headline Tango

I am inflicted with a strange disease that doesn't allow me to read a newspaper without twisting the headlines to my own warped way of thinking. Observe . . .

When I read the headline, Alleged Mobster Gets Sucked In, I immediately imagined Al Capone as part of the Kirby video game.

Outcry Over Ship Named After Nazi. It's not enough to name hurricanes and tropical storms? Now we're keeping track of outcries by giving them names like Adolf and Himler?


I understand that the writer of the headline Cretin Crushes Lakeville South may have been a Lakeville fan, but that's no reason to start name-calling.


Retired Teacher Charged Over Sex Acts With Student. I'm sure he was, but I'm pretty disgusted by it myself.


The headline reads TV Anchor Slaying Suspect Tied to Rape, but is it talking about someone who is suspected of slaying a TV anchor or a TV anchor who slayed a suspect?

Defense Hit with Computer Warfare. Apparently, these new-fangled computer warfare games really, really like the idea of defense instead of offense. Why that's a news item, I'll never know.


Teen Accused in Fatal Beating by Pipe to be Tried as Juvenile. I'm confused. Since when were pipes given the right to accuse anyone of anything?


Only one of those flamboyant, swishy hosts of a cable fashion show would be upset with the news that Protesters Clash with Police in Capital.


Franken Loses Bid to Toss Out Coleman Suit. I've got no problem with this. I think a man ought to be able to clean his own closet. Let everybody else mind their own business.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

God Our Fodder

One day this past week, as part of the Useful Breath Bible-reading schedule (hop aboard at www.usefulbreath.com), I read a passage in Jeremiah, Chapter One, wherein God is showing the prophet different object lessons to teach him some truths. Two verses jumped out at me (scaring me just a bit, while waving their arms and shouting, "Booga-booga!"):

Jeremiah 1:11-12...

The word of the Lord came to me: "What do you see, Jeremiah?"

"I see the branch of an almond tree," I replied.

The Lord said to me, "You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled."

A thinking person's first question might very well be, "What the farnsworth does the branch of an almond tree have to do with God being the Father-up-above-who-is looking-down-in-love-so-be-careful-little-hands-what-you-do?"

A footnote in my Bible has the answer: "The Hebrew for watching sounds like the Hebrew for almond tree."

So...God is a punster! He likes to play with words. And He uses the humor in such wordplay as a memory aid for the prophet Jeremiah. It would be like if He showed me a picture of Benedict Arnold and said, "I am a trader; taking your sins and giving you abundant life."

Okay, maybe not a whole lot like that.

The valid point to make here is that God was infinitely wise to do this whole thing with Jeremiah, the Junior Woodsman/Horticulturist, and not me. If He had asked me, "What do you see, Dewey?" I would have said, "A tree branch," and the whole object lesson would have been lost.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Page 56, Sentence 5

I haven't a clue (what's new?) who started it, but there's a quirky little thing going around Facebook wherein a person is instructed to grab the book closest to them, turn to page 56, and use the fifth sentence as their status statement. It's easy and random and the results are sometimes eerily appropriate. Like this morning, when I grabbed the New International Version Bible sitting next to me and found "He too will become a people, and he too will become great." (Yeah...really fits me...whatever.)

It got me to thinking (a noteworthy experience in itself) that it might be interesting to collect the fifth sentence on page 56 from a series of books. It might just turn out to be easy and random and eerily appropriate. And so, here they are, from Harry Potter and the...

Sorcerer's Stone
Brought yeh ter this lot.

Chamber of Secrets
Mr. Weasley took Harry's glasses, gave them a tap of his wand, and returned them, good as new.


Prisoner of Azkaban
I just--lost control.

Goblet of Fire
Front page of the Daily Prophet, I expect, cauldron leaks.

Order of the Phoenix
Give it another quarter of a mile!

Half-Blood Prince
"Well, Harry...time for us to be off," said Dumbledore at last, standing up and straightening his long black cloak.

Deathly Hallows
But the owl lay motionless and pathetic as a toy on the floor of her cage.

Easy? Yep. Random? Except for the fact that it was the same page and sentence in each book, sure. Eerily appropriate? Uhhhhh...not so much.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Becoming Fine in 2009, Part Five

This is the fifth and final installment of Almost the Truth's skewering of U.S.News & World Report's "50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2009." [Insert sounds of celebratory crowd here]


41. Visit the last American frontier...which, in the editors' way of thinking, is the great state of Alaska. It's kind of interesting that Vice Presidential nominee, Sarahcuda, has brought so much attention to Alaska at the same time that it celebrates it's 50th anniversary. At the same time, it's kind of messing with my mind to think that I am 1 year, 5 months, and 1 day older than a state. I really am, officially and beyond question, older than dirt.

42. Geotag your trip pics. It's bad enough that I have to remember where in the computer I filed my picture of the kids recreating Mount Rushmore...now I'm suppose to put the latitude and longitude in the photo's file, too? I really am, officially and beyond question, ready to find the goons that come up with these things and lay hands on them...hard, fast, and repeatedly.

43. Give pottery a spin. This is exactly what my life needs...something else for me to spend money on that will result in proving I am inept.

44. Teach your kids to cook. Sure...rub my face into the sad-but-true Truth that all four of our children are so far out of the nest that they very rarely even see the tree anymore. However, Beloved is living out this "suggestion" on bettering our lives. Whenever AngelFace calls, it's usually to ask how to cook something. So in a way, having not taught our kids to cook when they were growing up is increasing our opportunities for interaction and relationship-nurturing now that they are adult-like creatures.

45. Listen to Kind of Blue. "In 2009, 50 years will have passed since a young trumpet player named Miles Davis and his band walked into Columbia Records' East 30th Street recording studio..." ZZZzzzzzzzzz...

46. Learn to play bridge. ZZZzzzzzzzzz...

47. Take a "staycation." Here's an idea whose economic time has come! Instead of spending the truckload of cash it takes to fly to some exotic location, get to know the places in your hometown area that folks who "aren't from around here" would pay money to come visit. Needing to save even more money than what airline tickets would cost, I'm stretching this idea even farther. This June, Beloved and I are spending a week walking to our mailbox and back. I'll post the pictures!

48. Play that funky music. This piece sings the praises of the video games Rock Band and Guitar Hero. I admit that these diversions are probably healthier than the blood-splattered shoot-'em-ups that usually fly off the shelves. My only issue with them is that I've never heard of any of the songs they dare me to duplicate. The most-recent pop music album I own (and, yes, I'm talking vinyl record here) is Billy Joel's 1981 classic, The Stranger. From that point on, I mostly gave up on pop radio. That decision saved me from a decade of synthesized drum-like sounds, but it left me totally ill-equipped to rise to the challenge of singing along with the Flaming Hot Chili Bowlers.

49. Watch Let It Be. I would really, really love to obey this command, but this Beatles movie is out of print. Do we have to wait for a 50th anniversay DVD in 2019? C'mon, Paul and Ringo, you've done everything else to keep pulling income from your long-gone heydays...make this happen!

50. Read the book first. This annual list ends with a whimper as U.S.News & World Report breaks the amazing news that there are movies being released this coming year that are based on books. Their next investigative report will focus on the recent discovery that the sky tends to get brighter when the sun is above the horizon.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Becoming Fine in 2009, Part Four

Almosting the list of "50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2009," from U.S.News & World Report:

31. Study the life of a great leader. The specific "suggestion" from the bossy-pants editors is to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth (February 12, 2009) by reading some of the over 40 books either recently published or about to be printed. As much as I support the memory of Honest Abe, I'm still waiting for the commemoration of other great leaders like the guy who first came up with the revolutionary thought to squeeze that bag hanging between a cow's rear legs and drinking whatever came out. There's brave leadership for you.

32. Eat your own spinach. Eat my shorts.

33. Line dry your laundry. Mind your own business.

34. Switch to a push mower. Switch this!

35. Don't drive distracted. I'm sorry...what? Did you say something?

36. Help others and yourself. I'm at the point now with this list that I really can't bring myself to read the whole article, but contrary to how the headline reads, I doubt that they're actually recommending shoplifting as a means of self-improvement.

37. Swap paper for screens. "Reading online helps the planet because it reduces your carbon footprint." In addition to my general feeling of wanting to put a size 12 carbon footprint squarely across the seat of the pants of anyone who uses the phrase carbon footprint, I am positively in shock that a magazine...printed on paper and distributed by trucks...would actually publish this self-defeating piece of advice.

38. Spread tolerance. I can't stand intolerant people.

39. Buy laptops for kids. Don't you have to be at least 18 to go the the places where they do those personal dances?

40. Try to hypermile drive. Hypermiling is a blanket term for certain techniques used to get really, really good gas mileage: coasting whenever possible, turning off the engine instead of idling for over 30 seconds, attaching your winch to the rear bumper of a semi going your way...

The fifth and final fraction follows...