Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Lost My Internets For Two Days And Had To Call Van Morrison To Lay Hands On The Intertunnel And Heal Me

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Songs Engendered By Driving Past Emo Girls Texting At A Yard Sale In Norway, Maine

Fat girl texting in her bed all night
Man, those stubby thumbs can really fly
All Done, Bye Bye (ADBB)
She was only waiting for the pizza to arrive

Facebook Friending in the dead of night
Tagging Bieber's Wall for all to see
(Pie!) AYCE
You are only waiting for his Poking to be free

Fat girl, type
Fat girl, type
Into your T-Mobile myTouch Slide.

Fat girl, type
Fat girl, type
Into your T-Mobile myTouch Slide.

Fat girl texting in her bed all night
Man, those stubby thumbs can really fly
She was only waiting for the pizza to arrive
She was only waiting for the pizza to arrive
She was only waiting for the pizza to arrive

Friday, August 27, 2010

Holy Cow! The Borderline Sociopathic Blog For Boys Is Three Years Old Today, And Still Writing On The Intertunnel Wall With A Crayon

My son received The Dangerous Book For Boys as a gift. It's a right smart looking tome, with its old-fashioned cloth cover, Warren G. Harding typeface, and heavyweight off-white paper inside. I got to looking around in there.

Hmmm. How to play soccer. Make a paper airplane. Marbling paper.

Marbling paper? This is beginning to sound like the Dangerous Book For Emily Dickinson. It appears to my untrained eye that perhaps the only dangerous thing in this book is nine letters between "The" and "Book." Well, we are not our hearty and hardy forebears, are we? But perhaps we can punch this up a bit. Kick it up a notch. There are plenty of things a boy can do to get himself in real trouble these days. Here's my outline for new version:

The Borderline Sociopathic Book For Boys
(Since the Dangerous Book has upped the ante by claiming that learning to play chess makes you a ninja, we'll have to stoke the furnace of hyperbole further to get noticed at this point.)

1. Ride a bicycle without a helmet. You heard me. And no spandex spangled with lavender and chrome yellow blotches and French words. You'll wear canvas shoes, too. You will not have anything with you that people with helmets refer to as "hydration." Eventually, you can get a snort of rubber-tasting hot water from a garden hose.

2. Tell your 5th grade teacher, when she starts in with the Vegan lecture again during a spelling lesson, that you're going to kill and eat your supper as soon as you can get your hands on some weapons. Then inform her that if she gives you anything less than a 'B" on any report card because you told her that, your father will have a phalanx of lawyers turn her life into a deposition purgatory. Then don't pass in any homework for the remainder of the term. Let's see who has the stones.

3. We're playing FOOTBALL, without any equipment but the ball. There are no rules, so this chapter is short. Soccer is Irish stepdancing with a ball introduced. We don't want any of that.

4. We're going out with dad on Earth Day, and we're cutting down a tree with a chainsaw. Dad is hung over and is in a hurry and there is only one set of ear and eye protection, so one of you risks blinding, the other deafness. Solidarity is the hallmark of any male bonding ritual. The chainsaw's guard is cheap and flimsy, but that doesn't matter because it came out of the box broken anyway. Which leads us to...

5. Duct Tape. We're going to use a lot of duct tape. We are going to dress our wounds, splint our shins, fix our tools, and tape our little brother's door shut with glorious, magnificent Duct Tape. When the womenfolk complain about the gummy residue it leaves on your siblings, we will remove it with rags soaked in acetone. These will be disposed of improperly. I guess. Who reads the MSDS sheet? Girls.

6.We are not cave men, son. Electronics are a part of our world now. You will find pictures of girls on the internet who are not clothed. You will educate yourself on the proper procedure for removing cookies and browsing history. You will leave one picture of a girl wearing only very steeply inclined clear shoes and a fetching pill-box hat on the hard-drive, and when it is discovered --by mom-- you can deny, deny, deny. Then watch your dad squirm and sleep on the couch for a week.


8. You will have a sip of Dad's beer while you watch the football game together. You will remark on the grooming, stature, or level of pneumatic charms displayed by a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader while doing so. Dad's beer tastes awful, and dad knows it, so this isn't all that dangerous for you. He, however, is risking a decade in the pokey over this. We're in this dangerous thing together, son.

9. You will fight with your fists with the biggest jerk in your school. If you're the biggest jerk in your school, you will fight with at least two classmates at a time, or any adult that rides a recumbent bicycle. You will all be in trouble, bigtime, with every adult involved. You will sit on the bench outside some boneless wonder's school administration office, rubbing your shiners, and share the respect reserved only for the men in the arena. It's the only real way to make friends with people you don't like.

10. You will give the Dangerous Book For Boys to your little sister.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

No Clouds. No Rollers. No Worries

(From 2007)

"Jaysus. No clouds. No rollers. No worries."

"No fish..."

"That's your worry. Your good lady wife's name's on the boat, neh mine."

"I'll make you oar back in the peapod if we don't put the gunnels down by the foam soon."

" You're prayin' in the wrong church or sittin' in the wrong pew, Davey."

"The fish will come if you sing. They always come. "

"OK then."

As I roved by the dockside an evening so fair
To see the salt water and take in the sea air
I heard an old fisherman singin' a song
Hey, take me away boys me time is not long

"Depressin' the fish now, are we?

" It gets worse."

Wrap me up in me oilskins and blankets
No more on the docks I'll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates I'm takin' a trip mates
And I'll see you some day on Fiddlers Green

"The fish are dumb beasts, but they're not likely to answer a call to your wake."

Now, Fiddlers Green is a place I heard tell
There fishermen go if they don't go to hell

"I fold. But please, continue as if I was all in..."

There the weather is fair and the dolphins do play
And the cold coast of Greenland is far, far away

"We bring the ice with us, you codger."

Wrap me up in me oilskin and blankets
No more on the docks I'll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates I'm takin' a trip mates
I'll see you some day on Fiddlers Green

"Oh jeez, he's back to claimin' he's bait now. There's no hope."

Now, when you're in dock and the the long trip is through
There's pubs and there's clubs and there's lassies there too
The girls is all pretty and the beer is for free
And there's bottles of rum growing on every tree

"Standin' the fish to a pint is unlikely to help here either. I hear tell they're all Presbyterians. Neither Presbyterians nor fish have pockets, so they stay out of the grog shops, generally"

Where the skies are all clear and there's niver a gale
And the fish jump on board with one swish of their scales
You lie at your leisure, there's no work to do
And the skipper's below making tea for the crew

"Now we're getting somewhere. Look at the gulls over there. They stoop."

"You get the kettle goin'. I'll have the fish here shortly."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Abandoned Greenhouse

I went to my next door neighbor's funeral yesterday.

I never met her. She was living next door when we moved here this year. But then again, she was living next door since she was born in 1915.

My house was only 14 years old when she was born. I would pay a small ransom to know what it was like then. I'm skilled at forensic carpentry and painting, and have found all sorts of clues about what this house was like when it was built, but there's only so much you can figure out by poking around a house that's been whaled on by numerous inhabitants and their handymen accomplices for better than a century.

It's an interesting thing, to put yourself as best you can in another's place. I try it often when I write, with variable success. Put yourself in my neighbor's place for a moment. 1915.

I might tell my children that I used to drive a car with quite a bit of sheet metal visible on the dash, and only an AM radio to listen to, to give them some perspective. In 1915? The stop sign was invented.

I'm so old, I can tell my kids that when I was their age, GI Joe didn't have a kung-fu grip. In 1915 the Raggedy Ann doll was patented.

I was too young, but my older brother got to see Ted Williams play just before Ted retired. In 1915 Babe Ruth hit a home run. His first, actually.

My dad took me to see Lawrence of Arabia in the movie theater when I was young. Not the first time it came out -- when it was restored and re-released. In 1915 Lawrence was wandering the Levant and Sykes and Picot came to their agreement. 

If he'd have hurried over, Booker T. Washington could have made it to my neighbor's christening before he passed away. He probably would have preferred to go see some fellows lay the cornerstone of the Lincoln Memorial instead. Maine's chilly in November.

After she was born in 1915, my neighbor moved into the house next door, which has a little sign on the gable end that says: 1806. I'm told the house used to be across the street from mine, and they rolled it across the street on logs to the spot it's on now. 

She ran a greenhouse, just across my driveway, long since abandoned. Its former denizens, just ephemeral posies for quotidian holidays, have mostly long since succumbed to exposure to the elements; but some have spilled over the low, crumbling walls to seed themselves all around their former home. It's as fitting an epitaph as one could hope for.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Good Question

We're going to cut poor people's food rations to pay to lecture poor people not to eat so much. Kafka is abroad in the land.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bright Red Chords

Today's earworm: Loomis and the Lust. Their bio page says they're influenced by, among other people, Johnny Cash. ***snicker***

I think not. Anyway, they wisely steered away from dull, black chords. I don't know how far you can get in the music business anymore while appearing to enjoy yourself, but it always worked for me. Brighten up your snout-house cul-de-sac with Bright Red Chords.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sometimes I Miss It

(Editor's Note: First offered in 2006)
(Author's Note: I was in the roadhouses because I worked there. I bet the editor was just another drunk in there. And there is no editor)

I've been in a thousand roadhouses. Paint peeling from tin ceilings, yellow pine floors stained with the offal of a million benders and scoured clean by the grit of numberless shoes. The neon winks at you. The Men's room door is on its fifty-fourth set of hinges, the room itself is on its third cleaning in forty years. There are bowling trophies and fish heads and incongruous signs on the walls all donated by the denizens -- some of whom are half forgotten but in attendance, others always present but dead. The glasses aren't clean but beer comes in its own glass, and you can order it by holding up your fingers. The pool table lists to port a bit; after 11:00 PM the patrons do too, so all is well. The quarters, stacked like a tower in Pisa, signal "next game" 'til tomorrow and tomorrow and then some anyway.

There's a stage, capacious enough for an anorexic to tell jokes from, with four people, their instruments and equipment, and a full drum kit on it. The singer wanders the floor anyway. He sings into a bus station microphone, whispering in it like a lover, or alternately screaming into it like a Stanley Kowalski sort of lover, and peppers his delivery with winks at pretty girls and harmonica playing like a distant elegaic train whistle on the prairie at night.

The guitar is a Fender Stratocaster, of course; it's strung with strings like cable, and you never hear a note unless it's intended. You can't mash them all around. The amplifier is right behind him, that player, and if he swings his hips -- he does-- the sound shakes the strings into a sort of harmonic frenzy, and he rides the rising howl like a surfer does a wave, and then swings the neck away and the volcanic tone returns to the slow boil.

There's a lot of space in the music. The bass is an anchor. The drummer could make do with just a high hat and snare. His right foot is like a piston driving a pile. He moves his stick to the ride cymbal, and you sense that the bell of the cymbal is a world away from the edge.

The guitarist knows what he is doing, and never plays what is being sung; he winds his counterpoint around the vocal like a vine on a drainpipe, and the beautiful rainwater courses down inside, splashes down in the garden, the curb, the gutter -- into the very earth. It rises again from that earth, and forms melancholy clouds, scudding across the musical horizon, then brings the cool, gentle rain down on all of our heads, which cleanses and anoints us.

Your girlfriend goes home with the bass player, of course.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Spray And Pray, Baby

I've decide to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the old Sippican in his natural habitat, inhaling fumes in lieu of drinking Guinness.

In this photo, you can see me applying "eco-friendly" finish to one of my creations. Not satisfied with simply having a carbon footprint as small as a clubfooted tse-tse fly, I've gone the extra mile and switched to only using finishes made from recycled radons, which I capture at night in the basement with a mining helmet and a dipnet.

As you know, the radons are a multi-legged organism that scurries around unwholesome places like basements and state senators' mattress pads, and transmogrifies previously harmless substances into the carbon we all fear like dentists. By harvesting the radons only when their distended bellies signal a full load of the nasty stuff (we throw back the small ones) we ensure that we offset at least three quarters of a one-way plane ticket to a Climate Change Summit for one congressional staffer, as long as they don't weigh more than 89 pounds and don't have any luggage. Unpleasant people actually desire that the trip only get 3/4 of the way there, as it's in Bali, but we shun such naysayers, and redouble our efforts.

Another beneficial side-effect of using the radons to coat the furniture is the gentle glow your furniture has in the dark of the night, allowing, perhaps, for your children to find their way to the unheated composting bathroom without the need for a carbon-spewing 2 watt light bulb in a nightlight for them. With us it's all subtraction, subtraction, subtraction.

I'm sure you'll remark, of course, on my spraying costume. The tie does not have an industrial use, it's true, but I save a lot of paper by using it in lieu of a napkin at lunch. Win/win, as it looks rather jaunty blowing back in the radon breeze, like a WW I fighter pilot.

So everyone, follow my lead and ask yourself: What have you done today to save the environment for the future generations of children you shouldn't have?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dad, How Do You Spell Upponna?

It was just a tent by the side of the road.

The road meanders from noplace special to nowhere anyone wants to go. The semis rattle by going both directions filled with the boles of trees, showing their butt ends to the only place they've ever known, going somewhere else to be useful. Like all the children born here do, as soon as they're big enough.

The car's a bit worn now, and a muddy chuckhole reaches out for the tire as we bound into the hardpan lot, pitching and yawing like astronauts on the way home. His grandfather would have called it a chuckhole, anyway. His grandfather, the man with the twinkle in his eye and a laugh on his lips and the same name on his certificate of birth. He winked out like a star in a distant galaxy last year, but the light from it is still reaching us here. It's in the back seat, bright; and driving, too -- a little faded.

The words aren't up to the task anymore. People grope for the name to call it. Antiques? A flea market? Junk or junque. It's stuff for sale that no one wants so it costs a little money. If anyone would want it, it would be by the side of the road with a "Free" sign on it. But then, commerce is not arithmetic.

I know too many things and examine everything like a doctor looking at the third person in a row with a cold in the last ten minutes of office hours. He knows nothing so everything is wonderful.

You can never tell with him. He never uttered a sound until he was four. Just looked at you with eyes like saucers half-filled with motor oil and you wondered if he was sent to make you nervous forevermore. Then he never stopped talking until his eyes banged shut each evening in a bed laden with bears and talking sponges. To bring him anywhere is to bring Ken Coleman along to murmur about the mundane in a continuous stream, and pass the time contented.

What would it be this time, you wonder. A broken Happy Meal toy or a dented sousaphone or a three-and-a-half legged-table covered with lead paint? He ranged around the tent like a bedouin holding up a caravan mid-desert and  pawing around for some honorable plunder. Then he disappeared.

We found him there, sitting alone and tapping away. No paper. A Royal Standard Ten with beveled glass windows on the sides. He wouldn't go anywhere else. He wouldn't look at anything else. Tap tap tap ding.

"I'm going to find the man and make him a bargain."

It was twenty bucks we didn't have. It was twenty bucks that wouldn't show up on our plates. It was twenty bucks I would have sold a quart of blood to get for that boy. All the way home, he sat in the back and craned his neck to look at it on the floor behind the seat. Some things are worth more than money.

"This is the machine you write books with, dad."

Yes, my boy. The machine comes with the stories in it. You just have to let them out. They put in windows so you can get a look at them first.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ghost In The Machine

Well, the Furniture Pandaemonium Come-On-Down Deep Discount Everything Must Go To The Four Walls Limited Time Offer Borderline Begging Extravaganza was a big success. Lots of people got a lot of nice stuff for cheap and we got an infusion of business at just the right time. So, thanks in general.

In particular...

Thanks to Bird Dog at Maggies Farm for sending his readers our way clutching twenties. Kind words were spoken in the comments there too, which is always nice.

One of my oldest friends I hadn't heard from in quite some time appeared in his will-o-the-wisp way and bought some things, likely for his lovely daughter. That was nice.

One of my original Intertunnel friends Ruth Anne bought some stuff for her lovely family. She's a peach, and her whole family is the color of a peach, which is kinda cool.

Rob from NJ bought two tables. Longtime friend and supporter of the blog and furniture site. He's living a parallel life to mine, just doing a better job at it.

Daphne from Jaded Heaven is a terrific writer and friend and has bought all sorts of furniture from me lately. One of the best things about the most interesting blogs is the window you get into people's lives who are in far-flung places and leading different lives.

Our new neighbors in Maine are really nice people. We're fleeing Massachusetts, so we're not used to people being nice to us, but we're trying to adapt as best we can. Gayle and Kate from down the street came by in person and got a treasure - a table too big to ship. They paid me twice for it, on purpose. It's a form of transactional alzheimers we appreciate greatly here. Now we only have to sell one child to the circus.

Thanks to everyone. I'm boxing things as fast as I can and that's the best sort of work there is.

(PS: Because we've found PayPal to be so unreliable and skeevy, we've changed over to Google Checkout for our payment service. So far, on our end, it's been an overwhelming upgrade in every way. We're wondering how it was for all our customers, too. Ruth Anne says it was a breeze, but we'd like to hear from others in the comments or privately. Thanks!)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Support Your Local ... Whatever The Hell I Am

I find myself in profoundly straitened circumstances. I won't bore you with the details. But if you're inclined to support this little logorrhea farmstand I'm running, I'm going to give you a chance to do it right now. Maybe if I find my way out of the woods I'll be able to find five minutes to finish that book I started here -- and sell you that, too.

Anyway, I don't have a tip jar, and I'm not starting now. What I want you to do is show enlightened self-interest. The enlightened part is: I end up with your money and feed my children with it. The self-interest part is: you end up with some of my furniture at prices that should make you blush to push the pay now button. If you like me, you should buy it and help me out. If you hate my guts -- you should buy twice as much because it's so cheap it's like robbing me, really. I'm selling $300 tables for $99 bucks, for example. I'm starting out with ten items, and I'll be adding more as soon as I can take the pictures and code the website.

It's all first rate, great stuff, but I'm selling it all for a pittance compared to list. It's all ready for immediate delivery. If you've got a bone handy, now's the time to throw it:

Who Wouldn't Want To Be A Playboy?

James Robert Wills

Thanks to Dick Thompson for sending this one along.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Holy Cow Larry Campbell Can Play The Guitar

Oh yes; Levon Helm should be on Mount Rushmore. But you knew that. I saw Levon one time in Cambridge, Mass., way back when. Only time I ever met a Beatle, too.

Levon Helm's Ramble at the Ryman in Nashville.