Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Legend Continues

It has recently been brought to my attention that I am going to be a father again. Seeing the ultrasound today really made me start to think. As I think about adding another member to the family, and the fact that my daughter will be turning 2 next month, I am reminded of why I decided to become a parent in the first place. Spite.

I know what you're all thinking and you can just climb down off that magnificent stallion of yours. The idea of wanting to be a parent is a selfish act to begin with, isn't it? You are basically claiming that the world would be better if there were a little bit more of you in it. That, somehow, the world as it is is incomplete with its current helping. My reason for wanting to be a parent is far more noble than this. The need runs much deeper than the natural animal instinct to spread my seed. It drives the actions of all middle children I know. It is the reason we wake up in the morning, and it is the reason we pretend to forget our siblings' birthdays. The reason is sweet, simple, magnificent, spite. Spite and spite alone drives me to do such a thing. When one understands the equation that brings about a middle child, one understands the reason for my actions.

In order for there to be a middle child (a child of whom can receive my love and affection), there must be a first and a last who receive my wrath. The coming of this second child marks the second step in my masterpiece. A delicate tapestry I have been assembling since the first time my mother unsuccessfully put me up for adoption. My son is on the way, and he will be the child of my affection. He will receive love and care the likes of which this world has never seen. He shall be showered with praise, excused of chores, and encouraged to learn how to use the potty at his own pace. There is no going too fast, and no going too slow. He will not be forced into any sort of organized recreation. His first word will be "yes" as he shall hear no other. He will be fed red meat until his heart wants to explode with joy! I will grow him as a prized fattened calf. I will take clothes given to our other children as birthday gifts, tear them apart, and knit them together as a coat of many colors for my son. And through my line, all middle children who know no victory, only defeat, no support, only anguish, and have never received the big piece of cake a day in their lives, will receive vindication.

The day of reckoning is coming!

Monday, February 28, 2011

"He who hits and runs away, lives to hit another day."

Like most siblings, my brother and I spent a lot of time fighting growing up. For the most part we got along. But a fight was known to happen here and there. When we did fight it was usually pretty simple. I was strategic about it. I'll admit my strategy was less than admirable, but you have to do what you have to do to survive. There is one secret I will pass on to all you kids out there with older brothers. Punch him when he least expects it. I mean when he really isn't expecting it. Don't bother to make a move during a fight, it's a waste of time. Wait until he steps out of the bathroom, or is taking his dish to the sink. It takes a big man to go for the sucker punch and not feel bad about it afterwards. Punch, then dash for the closest parent. The retreat is key, because when I entered the room my mom was in, I would kick on the tears. My mom's motherly instincts would kick in before she realized who was crying, and all she would see was me running scared, and an angry brother chasing me. "Don't hit your brother so hard," she would say.

My second strategy was run directly in to him, push him as hard as I could back into the wall, and then just punch as fast as I could into his gut. This worked surprisingly well, but only because I would do it out of nowhere. Do not try that one in a real fight.

And last, should you find yourself in a real fight, there are three tactics you can utilize to get through. I cannot take credit for these, they were taught to me by my best friend growing up. He had 5 older sisters and the estrogen flowed like fine wine in that house. He was a better retreater than I ever was.

1. Armadillo Defense: Curl up into a tight little ball on the ground. A fetal position, but on your knees. The key to success here is that you don't move. Hold this position for at least an hour after your opponent leaves the room, lest they be hiding around the corner. Beware, once they learn how to implement a kidney punch, it's pretty much over.

2. No Bones: Just make as if you have no bones. Fall limp to the ground as if you were a dead body. After all, no one wants to hit a dead body. That's gross.

3. Thumb Butt: This is the only offensive move you should use, and even then, its only if you have no choice. Wait until your opponent is getting up from trying to break you from your armadillo defence. When they are getting up off the floor, stiffen your thumb and strike. Only rule here is if you are going to implement this move, you have to yell "thumb butt!" when you do it. Just remember, once you yell "thumb butt," your committed. So act swiftly, and with great prejudice.

Good night, and good luck.

Defense from the enemy

My brother and I had a strong sense of pride of ownership growing up. We took our house and property very seriously. This manifested itself in many ways, the most notable of which was the protection of our grapefruit tree. The large grapefruit tree in our backyard was the best thing imaginable. We could climb up to the top and see for miles. This was our fortress. We could navigate that tree with our eyes closed.

One summer afternoon we found ourselves in the back yard and decided to partake of one of our favorite activities, "alley shopping." This consisted of Tony and I wandering down the alley behind our house looking for other people's discarded treasure. This day, we hit the motherload. We found about 350 sq ft of used carpet in convenient rolls. It occured to us what our domain had been missing. It was that cozy living room feeling you can only get from being able to dig your toes in carpet. We loaded the rolls in the back gate one by one, rolling them out underneath our tree. It was a thing of beauty. All we needed now was a recliner, a lamp, and a coffee table.

We began to learn an important lesson. The more stuff you have, the more protective over it you become. And with the addition of carpet to our already beautiful grapefruit tree, it became more and more obvious to us that we needed a line of defense. A way to watch after our property when we weren't there. What about when we were at school? Some neighbor kids could easily hop the wall and sit under our tree! Disgusting. The thought of some other neighborhood jerks enjoying our enviroment made us sick. The next logical step? Booby traps. I have outlined our efforts below for your reference in the protection of your wares.


1.) The Abyss: Dig a hole. A pretty good sized hole. Use the pocket knife your parents got your brother for christmas and sharpen some sticks at the bottom of the hole, cover with a thin layer of plastic and construction paper. Cover plastic and construction paper with leaves. Wait.

2.) The Brain Blaster: Find an arrow from the toy bow and arrow set that your parents bought your over-priviliged brother for Christmas. Balance it precariously atop the tree. Tie a string to it that extends down to the ground, easily bumped by a passerby. Test this one a few times to make sure it works. If done correctly, the arrow should fall straght down with enough velocity to dig in to the ground about six - eight inches. (It should be noted that dogs can set off this trap easily. Gizmo was a near miss. This did, however, confirm the effectiveness of the trap).

Manual Controlled. To be activated manually from a tactical position:

3.) Frondinator: For those of you who don't know, years back some genius decided to start planting palm trees in Arizona. Known to locals only as "The Devil Tree," they lack purpose all-together except for one thing. They are useful for home defense purposes. The palm frond of the palm tree is lined with tiny little thorns. Secure frond to a rope, thorn side out. Tie back to the tree, release as enemy approaches.

4.) Grapefruit Dump: This is pretty simple. Its just a box of old soggy/moldy grapefruit kept up in the tree. Should the enemy approach, dump box accordingly.

There you have it! All you need to know about home defense.

Me, Gizmo, and the Hibiscus

Growing up in Arizona has its advantages. No natural disasters, swimming 7 months out of the year, and I never had to shovel snow. It is truly great for those reasons. However, in the house I grew up in proximity to, I learned that the Arizona climate is more troubling than you might think. I say in proximity to because around the time I turned 8, my mother all of a sudden became very excited about me "camping" in the back yard. At first it was fun! Being outside, experiencing nature, learning to survive with nothing but my wit, a pack of Ramen Noodles, and a cup of luke warm water. And the pup up tent I had was not much but it got the job done. My dog Gizmo (a nearly blind lhasa opso with dread locked hair) and I would huddle up in the tent and reminisce of better days. This was all well and good until I visited my old bedroom to find that my bed no longer had sheets on it. "That's weird," I thought to myself but didn't think much of it. Then the next week my actual bed was gone. I just continued sleeping in my tent as my mom insisted I was having a great time. Then a short three days later I returned to my room to get a long overdue change of clothes only to find that the locks had been changed on my bedroom door. "What gives, Mom?"
"We had to make room."
"For what? That's my bedroom!"
"Your father has decided he wants to get in to shape. He's going to take up running."
"Round is a shape!" I insisted to no avail. "And what does that have to do with my room?"
"We're getting him a treadmill."
The only thing dumber than running on the street with no destination was doing it on a machine that keeps you stationary. "I thought you were enjoying camping? Aren't you having a good time?"
"I was, but I am ready to sleep in my bed again. I think I need to see a chiropractor mom, my L5 is killing me!"
"Your vertebrae are fine, Mike. They're not even completely fused yet; you need to give it time."
I reluctantly resigned myself to the fact that the back yard was to be my new home. I headed outside only to find my loyal hound tearing my tent to pieces. I forgot I had left the last corn ration that my mother had given my under my pillow. "Amature!" I thought to myself. So I decided to form a shanty out of the old tent pieces and the leaves of a fig tree that I took from my neighbor's house. The nights started getting longer as winter began to rear its ugly head. Now winter in AZ ain't all that bad but you don't want to be outside either. Gizmo and I found out real fast the secret to staying warm in the winter was body heat. We came to really depend on each other. I coveted his long winter coat and I assume he coveted my opposable thumbs.
I truly learned to appreciate all that I once had thanks to my mom having me sleep outside. I hold no hostility toward her now. And through all of it, she continued to take care of me. She explained that my restless bowels were caused by making my oleander tea, and that I could close an open wound using the sap from the rubber tree. She would come out on the nights when the weather man would predict a hard freeze and cover up me and the hibiscus I slept next to with Tony's old bed sheets. I felt so warm on those nights. So loved. I only hope that my kids will feel the same kind of affection.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Caution: Show Chickens

Hanging out in Hollywood past two days had made me realize three things.
First, no one is here without a mission. It doesn't seem that anyone was actually born here. In fact I don't think they have a hospital. Just a series of Urgent cares. Second, everyone here hates everyone else here. Now this is an attitude I can get on board with. Its like prison in that regard. There are just more shankings on Sunset. Hollywood is a dirty town and everyone I ease drop on is talking crap about someone else. Being surrounded by people who are aspiring writers, actors, models and Subway sandwich artists can be very tiring... The third, and quite possibly the most important thing that I learned about LA, is that it is serious about its chickens. Extremely serious. In fact I have seen more then one "chicken cafe" since I have arrived. I'm not completely sure what that is, nor did I have the stomach to check, but just the idea of it really creeped me out. And I couldn't care less about animal rights! The above truck was in front of me the way to Hollywood. What is the appropriet response here? A semi has a sign that says "wide turns" and is accompanied by a diagram in case the verbal warning is to confusing. But "Caution, Show Chickens" is self explanitory? I feel like this sign is leaving out some very important details. I don't know the first thing about what it means to be cautious around show chickens. Its seems a little presumptuous to assume that those of us that don't currently interact with show chickens on a regular basis would even know where to begin. In order that no one else would ever have to feel my pain when encountering an 18 wheeler full of show chickens, I decided to do a bit of research. The following bullet points are curtosy of ehow.com on the proper care of show chickens.

  • 1 Choose which birds to show according to class - sex, age and number of birds per entry.
    Simple enough
  • 2 Pick hens that have been laying regularly over the past few months if you want to enter a layer.
  • Definitely want to enter a layer. Check.
  • 3 Check that layers have a soft, pliable abdomen, breastbone and pubic bone at least three fingers' width apart from each other, and a pubic bone two to three fingers wide.
    Is it weird that according to this scale I could enter myself as a show chicken?
  • 4 Choose birds with lots of meat if you want to enter a meat bird; look at the length and width of the bird's breast and size of leg.

    I find this step particularly difficult to do without killing the bird.

  • 5 Vaccinate birds for fowl pox, and check with fair about the blood test for pullerum as you begin preparing for the show.

    Seriously? "Foul" Pox? Why is it foul pox for a chicken and chicken pox for a human? Shouldn't it just be pox? This is making me tired...
  • 6 Check birds for lice and mites. This should be done on a regular basis as you are raising the birds. Dust when lice or mites are present.

    Lice. Now you're speaking my language.

  • 7 Look at the feet for rough spots, and apply baby oil or petroleum jelly to improve skin.

    I would rather check the three finger width on the chickens colon again.

  • 8 Wash birds three days before the show with warm water and mild shampoo so that they can be dry and so that oils will be back in their feathers by show time.
    (Insider tip: Panteen Pro V and some bottled chicken oil can be a real life saver)
  • 9 Dry birds with a hair dryer to prevent them from getting too cold and possibly getting ill before the show.

    I prefer to use the broiler.

  • 10 Transport chickens to fair in a clean cage.
    Season to taste.

  • There you have it folks! All you need to know the next time you pass an 18 wheeler on the highway to California.

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    No! I'm NOT John Mayer so quit asking!

    Being a celebrity look-a-like is not as fun as it sounds. Sure, you get the occasional free drink at the pub or a free hotdog from your local streetside vendor, but ultimately, I feel that it detracts from what I bring to the table as a person. I have feelings and thoughts of my own. But when you are the spitting image of a rock legend, all that fades to black.
    I found myself at a local pizza eatery a few days back and had such an experience. I ordered the usual pepperoni, pineapple, bacon and onion special, and made my way from the counter to my usual seat in the corner. It was a typical pizza joint with tables that are too tiny and the place claims to be authentic "Chicago" style pizza, whatever that means. Personally, I like my pizza to be like me; greasy and Phoenician. None the less, I slid into my chair in the corner and as usual, I drew pictures with my finger in the table top pizza grease and began to silently judge the orders of my restaurant-going comrades. Mr "spinach, olive, zucchini and basil" was just asking for it. He really couldn't get enough of himself. My buddy, Brian from high school, who works behind the counter, turned to "check on an order" and shot me an exaggerated eye roll. And that's when it happened.
    Zucchini's equally pretentious girlfriend saw me. I noticed her double-take and tried to make myself scarce.
    "Not again..." I thought to myself. I wondered how quickly I could change my order to "to go" but it was too late. She tapped Zuchini on the shoulder and wispered in his ear while looking in my direction.
    "wisper wisper wisper... John Mayer... wisper wisper wisper."
    I tried to slouch lower in my already too tiny pizzaria chair and pulled my hat down. But I think my mesterious look only made them all the more convinced. Brian loved when things like this happened and took some time out of his day to confirm their suspicions.
    "Yeah he eats in here all the time!"
    She left the line to come over. I decided this was it. I am tired of playing second fiddle to John, its time for me to take mine. Some time in the sun was well deserved. So I played along.
    "Excuse me," she said, her boyfriend on her heels. "Is that really you?" she asked wide-eyed.
    "Of course it is," I replied. "It's me!"
    "Ohh wow! We are such huge fans!" her boyfriend chimed in. "Your body is a wonderlaaaaand." He sang with a slight thrust in his hip.
    "Yes. Its true. My body is a wonderland." I replied with a deep-seated resentment for the man who bears my face. "Like a resurrected Walt Disney but with more raw sexual magnatism."
    "We have all of your albums! Even that one that came out after that other one that kinda sucked..."
    "I have that one too."
    They looked at each other slightly puzzled, but continued. "What kinda pizza do you eat? They should give you your own item on the menu and call it the Mayer special!"
    "I would agree with that. I pushed for them to name a pizza after me but the guy at the counter is a Sevendust fan."
    "Ohh man, I can't believe we ran into you here! Are you from Phoenix originally?"
    "Yeah I live here now actually. I stay with my parents right up the street."
    "You live with your parents? Aren't you like, rich?"
    "I don't do too bad. I've got a car now which is pretty sweet. And a blog! I even opened up a shop out of my house where I sew old patches to the tops of old tennis shoes. I sell them on ebay."
    "What kind of a car do you drive?"
    "1989 Mazda 323 hatchback. It can do 0-60."
    "In what?"
    "Alright, well when do you have time to write music? Don't you have a tour coming up?"
    "I'm thinking about quitting the music biz. It's become so commercialized. It used to be about the rock. Now all it seems anyone cares about is pushing albums on 15 year old girls at the local Target. I'm more than just a pretty face, you know? But they make me feel so dirty and used, like a toy banana in a monkey prison."
    "Wow," she said, "I had no idea."
    "Well now you do. Sometimes I wish I could just eat a piece of Phoenix style pizza in peace, like everyone else. I'm just like everyone else, Guys. I ain't no different. I'm just waiting on the world to change..."
    They called her number at the counter and she looked back over her shoulder, and then to her boyfriend who was clearly less than impressed with our encounter. "Well, it was good to see you." They gave me a nod and went back to the line looking very defeated.
    Mission accomplished, I thought to myself as I finished my last bite. I stood up from my corner chair, wiping my greasy hands off on my denims. I headed for the door thinking of my good deed, giving that nice couple a chance to meet their hero. The bells on the door chimed as I opened it. I heard my buddy Brian yelled from behind the counter,
    "Take 'er easy, Mikey."
    "You too, brother."

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Where it all began

    I have had a lot of people ask me how I got started blogging this way, and more importantly, why I am the way that I am. I mean, could we blame my mom? Well yes or course. Could we blame my dad? Without a doubt! But I think the answer is, it's a compilation of many events of my life that I am hoping to summarize within this blog. But the most important thing, is to go back to the start and check out my humble beginning.