Friday, March 30, 2007

The New Look

The groundswell of enthusiastic support for this blog's new look has been nothing short of bewildering. I would like to thank all those who sent threatening emails and those who took the time to threaten me in person. The attention has been gratifying. I especially want to thank the rock throwers and the guy who backed his car into my front porch steps. It does my heart good to know that so many of my loyal followers have such strong opinions about my humble little blog. Keep on reading, and I'll just keep on writing silly drivel.

All About Podcasting

I did another Jawbone Radio podcast the other night. I am invited on there occasionally by Len when his medication runs out. This time was a bit different because Nora was absent. She is claiming to be pregnant and therefore not feeling well enough to participate. But she sure seemed well enough to lie on the couch. Well, that doesn't matter; that's between her and her conscience.

But the purpose of this post is not to point fingers at malingerers, nor even to accuse anyone of acting sick. No, I wanted to mention that the podcast experience was fun and easy. It was as simple as sitting in a room and chatting with somebody, although I wouldn't know what that is like, as I've never done it. Lenny was a very affable host, engaging, witty, vulgar (I never realized just how many really bad words he has to edit out per podcast). He has all sorts of state-of-the-art sound equipment and computers and flat-screen monitors and sneeze guards for the microphones and a refrigerator for soft drinks and stylish office furniture and lighting fixtures and just a nice all around set up for his podcast and other work. It's similar to what I have here in my office; except that my computer's high-pitched whirring noise is very grating after a few seconds, and the plastic stack chairs are a bit less than stylish, and the 40 watt bulb in the ceiling is arguably inadequate, and the odor in the air here can be a little off-putting to anybody whose nose is not stuffed up. But I think we're on the same wavelength, Len and I. We're all about being ergonomically sound, the better to facilitate quality product. I know that I certainly couldn't blog with such frequency if I had to do it from an uncomfortable chair using a slow computer or if I kept having to stop what I was doing to kill carpenter ants.

So, what is the point of this communique? I think it's just to fill time while I wait for the fishsticks.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Snazzy Artwork, Inept Blogger

Thanks to Len from Jawbone Radio fame for the fishbrick illustration. It's just what I've always wanted. However, I can't figure out how to make it the new header for my blog and get rid of the original. I can't even figure out how to make it bigger than it is.

I must confess that I am not very well versed in blogging. Mostly I am getting away with it because it has been made fairly idiot-proof by Google. Everything pretty much gets arranged nicely and all I need is a rudimentary ability to follow simple directions and hit the execute button. Why, Google is actually writing my posts. All I have to do is give them a subject and suggest a few nouns or adjectives I would like included. You can imagine how surprised I was when Google came up with the whole party sock entry, including the bit about the exploding threads. Computers are really amazing, aren't they.

The irony is that Google's supercomputer is responsible largely for this post as well. Even the part about thanking Lenny.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fishstick Update

You may recall the other day that I had some Van de Kamp's fishsticks that were less than perfect. I had overcooked them in my toaster oven, and the resultant product was a poor substitute for real food. Well, one week later, I have revisited the fishsticks, this time cooking them to golden-brown flakey perfection. The sticks today were done just right. And, as it turns out, when their true flavor is thus revealed, the fishsticks are actually quite dreadful. Their flavor is almost exactly the same flavor as the box they come in, but at least the box they come in has some nutritional value. I'm not saying that you should not eat Van de Kamp's fishsticks. Just don't expect too much out of them.

Mom's Out of Bourbon

A friend of mine uttered that line tonight in attempting to tell a quick story about what she had done today. But I had to interrupt her immediately and call her attention to the perfection of that statement. The rest of her story went untold. Mom's out of bourbon was the best sentence of the evening, maybe even of the week. One cannot just rush past that sentence as though it were a run of the mill statement of fact. It's a gem. It demands attention. You can't ignore it. It is a rich vein of humor, waiting for the right smart-aleck to come along and extract the gold.

Just put yourself in a situation where a friend of yours started a story with "Mom's out of bourbon". What would you do? Would you let it slide and patiently listen to the humdrum story to which it's attached? Or would you slam your foot on the brakes and grab the wheel, obnoxously steering the conversation into the deeply rutted path of cheap laughs with such lines as "how many times have I heard myself utter that phrase?" or "Mom's out of it lunchtime again?" or any of a hundred other such sophomoric bon mots? I know what I did.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sweet Danger

Am I growing weak in my middle age? Is my constantly subjecting my body to the depredations of junk food and alcohol, physical inertia and lack of sleep causing my strength to leave me? It could be that. How else can you explain that it takes me a half hour now to open a bag of M&M's? Sometimes, after a prolonged wrestling match with a bag, I get so desperate, that I force myself to get up off the couch and retrieve a pair of scissors from the kitchen. It almost isn't worth the effort.

Of course, the problem isn't really with my shriveled heart muscle and noodle arms. No, the problem is in the design of the M&M bag. It's designers have a bit of a puritan streak in them. It seems they can't stand the idea of somebody somewhere enjoying delicious plain or peanut chocolate candies, so they try to prevent all but the most dauntless candy lovers from getting at the candies inside the bag. So, too often, an eager chocolate enthusiast, driven to a frenzy by his frustration, will grab a bag with both hands, pulling in opposite directions, holding his breath, his fingers aching, face turning red, sweat beading on his forehead, his vision reduced to a narrow tunnel, until suddenly, with a violent rip, the bag explodes, shooting candy at high velocity in all directions. Windows are broken, pets are maimed, bystanders lie unconscious or cower under the coffee table digging candies out of their ears. It's tragic. It's tragic and so unnecessary. Why must M&M Mars make their bags so hard to open? Why?

And why, after I feel slightly nauseous from consuming most of a bag of M&M's do I feel that I must have one more? That's a question for another time.

Friday, March 16, 2007

All the World is a Fishstick

As I wait for my Van de Kamp's "fishsticks" to "cook" I will post a little something. It's been a while since my Party Sock posting, but I've been busy, busy, busy. My life is a never-ending whirlwind of activity, although, in truth, it will end eventually.

The play that I haven't mentioned being a part of premiered tonight in North Royalton. The atmosphere was electric as the audience waited for the show to start. Actually, I think the electricity may have had more to do with their anticipation of the intermission refreshments. The audience laughed all throughout the show. If only it had been a comedy. They laughed in particular at my fly being open, but I am happy to have made any kind of impression on them at all.

I'm joking, of course. The show was indeed a comedy. The crowd really enjoyed it, in fact they even broke into cheers whenever I left the stage. My only problem with them as a group is that they hogged all the refreshments, leaving the actors with little to eat but hardtack and headcheese. I have no idea what headcheese is, but it bounces when you drop it on a tiled floor.

We don't seem to be getting anywhere here. Let me start over. I was in a play this evening in North Royalton (in Ohio, less than a day's mule ride from my house.) The crowd was small, but enthusiastic, which may have been due to the fact that it was a group of dwarves who just came out of a motivational seminar. Okay, disregard part of the previous sentence. I think that the smell of the "fish" sticks wafting up to my computer room is having a deleterious effect on my concentration. Anyway, the cast of players did a fine job in their respective roles, and afterwards we all played a quick game of headcheese basketball.

Van de Kamp's fishsticks, if left unattended in an oven, will shrivel and dry up much more quickly than most bloggers expect. This blogger found the resultant sticks to be unworthy of another Gold Medal Taste Award from the American Tasting Institute (they won the award in 2001). I have to wonder how many entrants there were in the competition for a medal at the American Tasting Institute that year if the winner was fishsticks. Did they compete against a wide array of foods, including such items as key lime pie, mom's fried chicken, chocolate cake, etc? I don't see Van de Kamp fishsticks winning a medal over any of those foods. I bet there weren't many entrants that year, and that the fishsticks won over such foods as turnips, potted meat and sea cucumber.

And what kind of a place is this American Tasting Institute? Can anybody get a job there? Do the tasters only taste the food and spit it out, like wine tasters do? Or does the institute employ people who are willing to eat vast quantities of food in the quest to find the best of the best? Would they consider employing competitive eaters in order to increase productivity? Those fishsticks made my stomach hurt a bit. It'll pass in time for the next batch. Good night.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Party Socks

I went to a St. Patrick's Day party over the weekend (since St Patty's Day falls on a Saturday this year, the party was on the previous Saturday). I got dressed in a bit of a rush (unnecessarily as it turns out) and so I grabbed a pair of gray socks that are among my very best. Old Reliables, I call them. They've got the nice black border at the top, the fluting on the sides. A more handsome set of stockings one could not hope for. Over these I donned my dressy black shoes and off I went, just in time to wait for R, who, God bless her, came out 15 minutes later. Off to the party we went.

Once there, I saw a mess of sundry shoes at the front door, and saw R removing hers, so I put two and two together and proceeded to ask her what to do. She suggested that I remove my shoes, and I did so. We went into the party area and enjoyed festive party food, refreshing drink and delightful, shoeless company. It was all going fairly well until about two hours into the party, when I looked down at the floor and noticed a familiar looking toe staring up at me. It was my own toe, exposed by a forgotten hole in my sock.

Great. So now I spent the rest of the party hiding the offending digit with my other foot, scanning the assemblage for other holes in other socks, hoping that seeing one, I might not feel so out of place. Unfortunately (from my viewpoint), the room was full of the finest specimens of hosiery America has to offer. These people had covered their feet with gorgeous, pristine, mint-condition socks, the like of which one wouldn't expect to find outside of Beautiful Sock magazine. Even the children running through the crab dip had perfect socks on their little feet.

It was all a bit disconcerting. Nobody said anything nasty about my threadbare footwear, not even R. Of course, she would never say anything unkind about me. But the fact is that I may not be able to show my face or feet to those people for awhile. I think it is quite possible that right now, somebody who was at that party is posting to his or her blog about "Old Rag Sock". I just hope this doesn't reflect badly on R. She shouldn't suffer guilt by association. Her only fault was in not checking my socks before the party. How could she have known?

The sad thing is that the gray socks, as shockingly inappropriate as they were for party exposure, are typical of my sock supply. It's sad, and it's strange, too. Strange because there is no good reason that my socks should all have holes in them, but, by and large, they do. Why, even now, as I look down at the black socks I'm wearing, I see a hole large enough to admit a basket of grapefruit. In fact, these socks developed a hole the very first time I wore them. Who knows why. It isn't as though I have razor-sharp toenails. I don't wear socks that are six sizes too small. I don't grab the top of the sock and pull up with all my might. All I do is carefully put them on my feet. My only guess as to why these stupid things develop holes is that they are sewn with Mission Impossible threads in the toes. That is, the threads are designed in such a way that a small explosive charge in the fibers causes the threads to self-destruct 15 seconds after I put them on. But why would anybody design socks to partially self destruct? Who would do such a thing?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Early Morning Haiku

Phone rings. One AM
It's Mitch. A wrong number. Oops
Mitch now sleeps. I can't

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I Can't Wait for Summer

I can't wait for summer because then I will be able to open my windows and let in the fresh air. My opened windows will also allow me to to hear the birds singing and the gentle rain falling on warm summer evenings. But the greatest treat in store for me when I open my windows in the summer is that I will at last be able to hear every last shriek and wail of the world's loudest children who live in the house behind mine. From sun-up to sun-down they go into their back yard and holler at the top of their young, healthy lungs. I don't know exactly how many of these adorable children there are, because they are shielded from my sight by their garage. But, judging from the noise they make, I would have to guess that there are at least 450 of them. It's such a comfort to know that their mother is inside the house ignoring their caterwauling and bawling, yelling and and laughing. I suspect she is inside there watching close-captioned soap operas, because she must be deaf.

The Loud Family is not the only high-decibel emanation from the rear of my house. Because now, right next door to them and abutting my property line is a property containing two young, large, obnoxious dogs. They love to bark and bark. I'm sure that their vicious barks and snarls are not indicative of any malice on their part. They are just being doggies. They enjoy exploring the world around them by bouncing soundwaves off of it. They take particular pleasure in bouncing their shrill soundwaves off me, as I get out of my car and go into my house. What a joy to be barked at in my own driveway. Another joy is to have one of the Loud Family children standing on his side of the fence and teasing the dogs into a frenzy. Meanwhile, the dogs' owner is apparently enjoying close-captioned television inside his house. Good for him. What is not to like about a person who buys pets in order to ignore them.

Aah, summer.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

My First Excercise of the Year

I just came back from my first real excercise session of the season. My friend and I drove to a local high school to do a series of 440s around the track with a rest period in between each. Let me just say that my legs were turning rubbery, my heart was thumping like it wanted to escape my chest, my lungs were burning with each breath, the sweat was pouring off my forehead in waves. It was almost unendurable. Then, when the ride to the track was over, it got even harder.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Time Change

Here in the USA we will be changing the clocks on Saturday night/Sunday morning, thereby making the transition to Daylight Savings Time. By edict of the Federal Government, we must all set our alarms for, or stay up until 2AM and at that point move the time backwards 23 hours or forward one hour on every timepiece in the house/apartment/condo/office/barn/garage. After making the prescribed changes to the aforementioned timepieces, we must call the United States Bureau of Time and report that the transition to Daylight Savings Time was successful. To fail to do so could result in prosecution by the Feds.

How do you do it in your country?

One Post, One Mistake

So far, I've posted one link on the blog and it doesn't work. I wanted it to work, believe me. I wasn't trying to aggravate anybody. I followed directions and did it right, but the link still doesn't work. It's not my fault. It's the stupid internet. When you come back to this blog next year, I will have worked out the problem. In the meantime, enjoy this picture of maple syrup.

Welcome to Fishbrick

Thank you for taking time out of your busy web surfing to stop and read the inaugural entry of the Fishbrick blog. Why did we call it Fishbrick? Simply because every other possible combination of letters and numbers was taken (ironically, even Fishbrick23), so we had no choice but Fishbrick.

What can you, the web-browsing citizen of the world (except China, where Fishbrick has been removed from public view) expect to find on this blog? Well, we haven't yet decided what to place here. We weren't intending to create a blog at all. It simply came to be through a combination of carelessness, incompetence, lack of imagination and bladder control problems (it's an interesting, oddly fascinating story, but I refuse to elaborate). The powers that be decided that we ought to keep it and maintain it, and they chose your humble servant to be its primary author. I drew the short straw, as it were.

So, to start with, maybe I will post a link for your surfing pleasure. Here, click this and see where it gets you.