Friday, February 29, 2008

You Dastardly Red Raider!

This is an outrage! Some dastardly Red Raider has somehow stuck a Texas Tech logo in the address bar for my blog. I just found out this is called a "favicon." I wish I was more tech savvy so I could correct this grave injustice. In lieu, I'll just have to sing "The Eyes of Texas."

The eyes of Texas are upon you,
All the live long day.
The eyes of Texas are upon you,
You cannot get away.
Do not think you can escape them,
At night, or early in the morn'.
The eyes of Texas are upon you,
'Till Gabriel blows his horn!

And for good measure:

Texas Fight, Texas Fight,
And it's goodbye to A&M.
Texas Fight, Texas Fight,
And we'll put over one more win.
Texas Fight, Texas Fight,
For it's Texas that we love best.
Hail, Hail, The gang's all here,
And it's good-bye to all the rest!

Yea Orange! Yea White!
Yea Longhorns! Fight! Fight! Fight!
Texas Fight! Texas Fight,
Yea Texas Fight!
Texas Fight! Texas Fight,
Yea Texas Fight!

The Eyes of Texas are upon you,
All the livelong day.
The Eyes of Texas are upon you,
You cannot get away.
Texas Fight, Texas Fight,
For it's Texas that we love best.
Hail, Hail, The gang's all here,
And it's good-bye to all the rest!

Though of course I've never heard anybody actually sing the "Hail, Hail, The gang's all here..." Most often it's "Give 'em Hell, Give 'em Hell, go, Horns, go!" Or if you're among the students, "Give 'em Hell, Give 'em Hell, Make 'em eat shit!" Or the one that's sung with the most vim and vigor, "Give 'em Hell, Give 'em Hell, OU SUCKS!"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Blowin' in the Wind

Sometimes when Thumper is weary of playing, and he has that dreamy, far away look, we go out on the back porch. He stares thoughtfully at the wind blowing through the trees and the green beginning to peek through the brown in the garden, and he contemplates the cyclical nature of time. Then he softly blows a raspberry to communicate his disdain for this material world, and we go back inside for a nap.

It is day 7 of cold #1. The conjunctivitis is gone, though we'll probably continue through a couple more days of eye drops, just because I enjoy tormenting him. This is also why I wipe his nose so often. His snot production is still at full capacity; he wakes up with a dried, crusty coating all over his face and hands. A good sneeze can produce six-inch streamers, and it's always good for a hearty, heartfelt "Eeeeewwwwwwww!" from his nine-year-old cousin. His cough, too, is not relenting, though miraculously, he seems to sleep through the many wracking fits he has at night.

Aside from the humidifier, does anyone have any suggestions for relieving the upper respiratory infection symptoms of an unmedicatable infant?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I loved President Palmer. Mrs. Rodius and I longed for President Palmer to be the real Commander-in-Chief. When he got shot in the throat within moments of his appearance in Season Five, it was one of the most shattering moments of our television viewing lives.

So lamenting the fact that he is now shilling insurance instead of guiding the ship of state through turbulent waters, I dropped a couple of Dennis Haysbert movies into the Netflix queue. See, for instance, my stunningly insightful review of Far From Heaven. Then comes Suture. Mrs. Rodius vetoed it within the first 2 minutes because 1)it's in black and white, 2)it's probably going to be all artsy, and 3) it doesn't have English subtitles. We like having the subtitles on because it reduces the number of times we have to rewind after saying, "What'd he say?"

So I tackled Suture on my own over a couple of nap times. Mrs. Rodius was right: it's too artsy. I never really got over the fact that a key plot point is that the character played by Dennis Haysbert is supposed to look remarkably similar to the character played by Michael Harris. In fact, everything about the story hinges on the two looking nearly identical. I know, there's something profound and artistic about this, something suavely ironic. I know, the tagline is, "A thriller where nothing is black and white," yet the movie is shot in black and white; the Prince is white while the Pauper is black; the Pauper becomes the Prince by wearing his white clothes and moving into his white house; while the Prince lurks in the background, now dressed all in black.

But I couldn't find anything meaningful in it. Or even anything all that thrilling. I couldn't reconcile that irony with the relatively straightforward monologue of the psychiatrist that neatly wraps the story up for us. I guess I'll have to break out the 24 DVD's. The old ones, back before Jack Bauer was a broken former drug addict and torture victim. Back when President Palmer still had us all in good hands.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Our Weekend Started Like This, and Went Downhill from There...


7:00 a.m.: "His eye is a little red and goopy. Maybe it's just allergies. If it doesn't get better, we might have to take him to the doctor tomorrow."

1:15 p.m.: "I think we'll stop by the pediatrician's office on the way home."

2:30 p.m.: "He was coughing a little bit this afternoon, and it sounded kind of phlegmy. And he was snoring in the car on the way over here, so I think he's a little stuffed up."

"It's conjunctivitis, all right. It's highly contagious, but you and your wife have probably already had it. He's probably got a little cold on top of it. He sure is a happy little guy, though! And what a flirt!"

4:15 p.m.: "He woke up from his nap, and his temperature was 102.9, and he's just laying here, moaning. He looks absolutely miserable."

5:15 p.m.: "Wow, that Children's Tylenol is amazing!"

We've sort of been riding the Tylenol cycle ever since. He's up! He's down! He's up! He's down! He's quite the trooper. Depending on where he is in the cycle, he tries to have fun. He wants to see the humor in the belly raspberry. His eyes still light up when Mama puts her hair down.

I'd like to share with you these valuable lessons that our experience has taught us. I may be the first person to come to these realizations:

1. Having a sick baby is stressful. And tiring.
2. There's no effective way to explain to an infant that he should blow his nose.
3. When the doctor says "conjunctivitis," one or both of your eyes immediately start to feel a little funny.
4. Taking a baby's temperature rectally kind of sucks. Probably more for him than for me, but still. Also sucks: watching the numbers creep up. And up. And up. Also sucks: giving a baby eye drops.

I'm glad I can share these little nuggets of wisdom with you guys.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Far From Heaven

So, what have we learned here?

Gay guys make crappy family men.

Don't talk to black people.

The end.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Streak Is Over

After nearly seven months, the previously never ill Thumper has finally demonstrated that he is not, in fact, Unbreakable. And the winner is...

Conjunctivitis! With a little dollop of cold on top.

The doctor said that they're seeing a lot of conjunctivitis going around, and so, apparently, are the chains on the swings at the playground. Mrs. Rodius may never let us out of the house again without a can of Lysol.


I just realized that our camera thought it was May, 2002. Appropriate that I realized I was 36 and 30 simultaneously, since I'm reading that time travel book. Anyway, I did not take this picture six years ago.

Wouldn't it be interesting, though, if this whole Thumper thing were a hoax?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Joy of Swing

If I stole
Somebody else's wave to fly up
If I rose
Up with the avenue behind me

Some kind of verb
Some kind of moving thing
Something unseen
Some hand is motioning
To rise, to rise, to rise

By the way, that there be some Soul Coughing. If you don't know you some Soul Coughing. Get it. Get it?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Excuse Me, But Your OCD Is Showing

I got Thumper a Discovery Ball for $3 at Goodwill, since cheapness counts. It's $17 retail. And it was $4.50 at Kid to Kid. I got it for $3! I love thrift stores!

Uh, what was I talking about again? Oh, yeah. When you spin the ball, Little Electronic Lady sings the alphabet song. If you stop spinning it, it stops singing. Thumper loves it, and it engaged him enough that it helped get him rolling over to get to it. And it was only $3!

The Little Electronic Lady sounds suspiciously like the Little Electronic Lady in his Fisher Price Cookie Jar. Are Fisher Price and Leap Frog two branches of the same tree? Huh. Apparently not. Maybe this chick just has the market cornered on voice work for electronic baby toys. Well, not toys for electronic babies. You know, electronic toys for babies.

Uh, what was I talking about again? Oh, yeah. The only problem with the Discovery Ball is that I think it's bringing out the Monk in me. Thumper starts it spinning: "A, B, C, D..." and then stops. If he waits more than a few seconds, it resets so that when he spins it again, it starts over: "A, B, C, D..." So of course you can see where I'm going with this: Little Electronic Lady almost never finishes her song! After awhile, it gets to me, and I have to keep spinning it so that Little Electronic Lady can give me closure. The worst is when Thumper spins it all the way down to: "W, X..." and then loses interest. Aaaaghhhhh! You can't get me that close, Little Electronic Lady, and then leave me hanging! It's cruel! "Next time won't you sing with me?" Whew!

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Media Week

anniemcq tagged me, and hey, why not? I actually got some answers for this one.


I was slogging through The Complete Stories of Truman Capote, but last night I finally gave it up at about the halfway point. No engaging plotlines, no likeable characters, no emotional punch at all. So I donated it to the Dick Paxton Memorial Library, the odd assortment of reading material shared among the ushers. I don't know who Dick Paxton was, but I guess he must've liked a good read. I'm sorry to dump this crap on you, my coworkers. I picked it up because I had a Book People gift card from my birthday and Capote on the cover looks exactly like the French professor in whose class Mrs. Rodius and I met.

I don't know if this counts as a book or as a "what I'm listening to," but I'm counting it as a book. And it's a fantastic book. When I finish it, I think I'll do a whole review, because I love, love, love it: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

In place of Capote, I just started Last Seen in Massilia by Steven Saylor, which I also picked up with the gift card because it was on sale and finished off the balance on the card nicely. By the first page and a half, I don't think I'm going to dig it much, but sometimes I'm wrong about these things.

My last three Netflix returns:

Oldboy, which should've been right up my alley, but somehow wasn't. Very strange, very violent, very sad. Maybe if they make a big budget American remake, I'll dig it. The twist was a little icky for me.

Brick, which also should've been right up my alley, but also somehow wasn't. It had Claire from Lost, Eden from Heroes, and Tommy from 3rd Rock from the Sun. It also had an annoyingly pretentious dialog style that presumably was supposed to anchor it firmly in the film noir style by reminding us of hip '40's slang that might be rattled off by the likes of Humphrey Bogart. But coming out of the mouths of 21st century high school students, it just sounded stupid. And the nicknames were pretentious, too. Brain. The Pin. Tugger. Eh, not bad. But not great either.

'Allo, 'Allo!, Season One. It's not really a movie, but it was a DVD on Netflix, so I'm counting it. Screwball physical comedies are sort of out of character for me, but this one was a nostalgic choice. When I was in jr. high and high school, Pops and I used to spend every Sunday night watching British comedies on PBS together, and this was one of them. It wasn't as funny as I remembered it, but nothing ever is. It was fun reliving it again, though.


Lemon Jelly. I have '64-'95, LemonJelly.KY, and Lost Horizons. I don't know anything about this group, even that they were British or a duo, until I just linked to the Wikipedia article. I heard "Space Walk" on Paul Oakenfold's compilation, Perfecto Chills, and absolutely loved it. So when I saw some more Lemon Jelly, I grabbed it. Now, of course, "Space Walk" is a Friskies cat food commercial, which makes me very, very sad. It's not the greatest workout music I've ever heard, but it is hypnotic and beautiful. And when you don't really like working out very much, hypnotic can be helpful.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Few Things

1. I have never been this regular. I have, well, not an irrational fear per se, but an aversion, to public restrooms. This presents a problem when you work out of the home forty hours per week. Now, though, I can go whenever I like. It's fabulous!

Don't judge me!

2. Small children are baffled and intimidated by turnstiles. When they are presented with that hip bar that strikes them at, oh, about forehead level, they stop dead in their tracks and think, "What fresh hell is this?!" When you say, "It's OK, just push right here and walk on through," they balk like cattle at the slaughterhouse chute, even though you're ready to catch that next bar before it swings around and cracks them on the back of the skull. Still they don't trust you. When you encourage, "It's OK, just duck under," they stare at you with wide eyes and think, "It's a trap! You bastard!"

Man, little kids is funny.

3. Speaking of kids, THE kid is, as Mrs. Rodius described him today, "A rollin' fool." Back to front, front to back. His front to back strategy is to put his head down, get his feet under him, and push his butt far enough in the air that he topples. So I'm thinking pushing with the feet will lead to forward locomotion soon, and then he'll be unstoppable. Unstoppable, I tell ya!

4. I've achieved stasis on one database project and have yet to be given the go ahead on the next one, so maybe I'll be able to do some good ol' naptime bloggin'. Maybe. I miss you guys. I feel like I'm neglecting you. Shhh, internet. Come here. It's OK. You know I still love you, right?

Saturday, February 9, 2008


It is a gulag. A prison camp. I am awakened in the middle of the night. I am interrogated, bright lights in my eyes. Day four of leadership training. I am fourteen. I am a scout. I am in hell.

I lay my head on the table. The Coleman lantern still roars. It blazes just on the other side of my shuttered lids. I can smell it. 2 a.m.? 3? 4? I open my eyes. The clear lines of the wood grain are hallucinatory. It's so bright. The ladybug and the ants trundle on, and I think I am dreaming them. It's too late. It's too early. No one should be awake at this hour.

They say they know I did it. Did what? I was involved, they know. The other scouts have already told them. I might as well confess. To what? I don't know.

Pee. Somebody peed. Somebody ran from camp to camp, peeing on tent flaps. Somebody shit in the fire. They know it was me. Somebody sprayed shaving cream on the camp director's tent, too, and damn well ruined the water proofing. They know that I did it, with a few other boys. The others have already confessed. If I admit it, things will go easier for me.

What the hell kind of camp is this? I just want to sleep. I don't know what they're talking about. There was no pee on my tent. No shit in my fire. Convenient? Coincidence? I guess. The Coleman roars on.

And Mark. Jesus. On the overnight hike. No adults. Part of our leadership training, of course. Leadership. Hiking aimlessly. Smoking grapevine 'cause we heard it gets you high. Just like banana peels, if you cook them right. That's what I heard. I'm so high! Not as high as me, man, I'm all fucked up! Mostly it just makes my lips kind of numb and itchy, but I say it like the rest of them. High! So high! Grab-ass and horseplay. Chris swinging the entrenching tool in the tall grass like a machete in the jungle, blazing a trail, then knock! The sound of a hammer on a coconut.

And Mark goes down. He's out. And there's blood. We carry him. We take turns. Two miles, five. Ten. All night. He's woozy. He's delirious. He fades in and out. His face is black in the moonlight, but the road shines like silver. His shirt is soaked. There's blood in his shoes.

How could they leave us out here like this? It's ridiculous. It's an outrage. We're just kids. He's going to die, I know it. We can't save him. A badge for first aid, my ass. First aid? He needs surgery. He needs transfusions. Stat! There's so much blood out of him, there can't be much more left in him. What did they think was going to happen, sending us out there alone?

Two stitches! Two stitches and he's back, and the very next day. He was practically dead! They should've graduated him at least, no question. Graduated him in absentia, or whatever. Graduated us all. We saved him. No thanks to them, we saved him. Carried him for miles. But two stitches in his head, and they throw him right back in again. It's a gulag. It's a prison camp.

Well they can send me home without my certificate. Man, I don't care. I'm not telling them shit.

Friday, February 8, 2008


I'm amazed to see how few blog posts I have lately. Time is flying along. I guess I'm surprised at its speed because I haven't been this busy in a long, long time. Not since college, when I worked full-time while carrying a full-time course load. Back then, the stress of it gave me stomach pains, and I carried around a bottle of Pepto Bismol with me everywhere I went. Now, though, I just don't have that same stress.

Thumper keeps me busy while he's awake. On Tuesday, he rolled over back to front on his own for the first time; he grabbed my pants and pulled himself past the previously unconquerable barriers of his arms and shoulders. I said this was cheating, but his Grandma said it was creative problem solving. Yesterday and today, though, he's done it without cheating. Then he finds himself somewhat baffled, arm pinned under his body and butt in the air, so he rolls back over. I'm having a blast watching him figure things out and cheering him on. I thought that there would be a series of quantum leaps in his development, but it turns out it's a longer, slower series of incremental progress. It's a lot of fun to watch.

So we do stay busy playing, but he then he naps four to five hours a day. I was keeping busy during those times mostly with cooking and cleaning and blogging, and while I'm still trying to stay on top of the household routine, I've now been assigned some work-from-home database projects by my former employer. Woo-hoo! Work-from-home pay, the Holy Grail of at-home parenting! And in addition to my weekend ushering, I've also been babysitting my niece and nephew, and SWSIL, Big Brother and I just set up a summer schedule that's going to give me a solid 22 hours per week at precisely the moment that the ushering dries up from a lack of events at the arena, a drought which will last more or less until next basketball season. So while neither the database work or the babysitting are permanent arrangements, they'll certainly help carry us through for now.

What's disconcerting, though, is that I really enjoy all of my jobs now. Ushering is fun in a way that I never expected, because my fast food experience taught me to hate dealing with the general public. Babysitting is fulfilling because I not only get to develop my relationship with my niece and nephew, but I get to watch them develop their relationship with Thumper. And ever since I first started fooling around with Filemaker in 1999, I've loved the mental exercise of attacking a new problem and figuring out how to accomplish it. I love my jobs! I've never been able to say that.

I'm as happy as I've ever been. But I'm just not used to being this positive, so out of habit, I keep telling myself, "Don't count on it; it can't last. Something terrible is going to happen. And soon." It's ridiculous. Mrs. Rodius traveled to San Antonio for her job, and that little part of myself kept whispering, "She'll get into an accident." I was mildly nervous about it all day until she came home. It's kind of like the part of me that sabotages weight-loss success by overeating. Why should I be afraid of happiness and success? Weird, huh?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The King of Kong

suttonhoo, knowing of my adolescent love of the Brothers Mario, suggested the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. It was released this week, and out of my powerful respect for her taste and intelligence, both of which far outshine my own, I not only added it to my Netflix queue, I even bumped it up to the front of the line. I didn't want to be six months behind on the conversation.

The documentary gives us entry into the world of "competitive classic gaming," a cabal of skinny, greasy, bespectacled geeks who commit their lives to the profitless pursuit of world record scores in early-'80's cabinet arcade games the likes of which I spent years of my youth dropping quarters into at the local 7-11. Specifically, the story centers on the previously undisputed god of Donkey Kong, whose score is so exponentially higher than any other pretenders to the throne that it is universally believed that it will stand forever as the greatest achievement ever on one of the hardest games ever invented. Then enters our David to this Goliath, and the chase is on.

I didn't think I'd enjoy this documentary after the opening sequences because of the apparently serious treatment of an utterly ridiculous subject. The cartoonish nature of characters like the villainous Billy Mitchell and his long-time nemesis, Mr. Awesome, left me wondering when Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest would wander onto the scene, sporting outlandish accents and hairdos. Then two things changed for me.

First, I started to realize that the filmmakers weren't taking it all that seriously after all; they seemed to be approaching the subject exactly as if they were making Best in Show or A Mighty Wind: making fun of the world that they're documenting, but with a genuine, heartfelt affection.

Second, I was surprised to find that I was becoming somewhat emotionally invested in the story. I felt outrage for the dastardly treatment to which Steve Wiebe, our David, was subjected at the hands of the Scorekeeping Establishment and Billy Mitchell, the man pulling the Establishment's strings. Wiebe seems fully aware of the ridiculousness of the world into which he's entered, but he still yearns for his one fair shot. I felt a pang in my gut when he's shown with wet cheeks after being thwarted once again. I admired and pitied his wife, who supports him in his quest and travels back and forth across the country with him in his pursuit of it, but who kind of just wants the whole thing to be over soon. Even the minor characters, the hangers-on to the greatness of Billy Mitchell, are presented with an endearing sort of humanity. The desperation of Mitchell's protégé, Brian Kuh, as Wiebe gets closer and closer to the record, for example, is nearly as heartbreaking as Wiebe's tears.

I won't spoil the story and tell you whether Wiebe's David takes down Mitchell's Goliath, but if you enjoy a good fake documentary, I recommend this real one. Thanks for the suggestion, Ms. hoo.
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