Thursday, August 26, 2010


`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Just Say "NO." Or, "Eeeeew!"

I try to keep the blog more or less family friendly, so I feel the need to provide a

------------ PARENTAL ADVISORY -------------

This blog contains adult language like "athletic supporter" and "nether regions" and "the boys."


OK. So I was in Sports Authority the other day, in the area of knee braces and tape and other things needed to treat or prevent athletic (or in our case, dance) injuries. As I wandered down the aisle, I noticed the athletic cups, those used to protect the nether regions of young men from grounders that take a bad bounce, soccer balls that can't be avoided, or full on kicks in a karate class.

I saw these:

OK. Now I am NOT, like, "Mr. Athlete." But I have participated in sports, both when I have had to wear one of these and when I have really, REALLY wished I had. But I have never known anyone who needed either a "Left" or a "Right" (or ~SHUDDER~ both). So this is a very scary development, I tell you what.

I can only assume it's caused by the increased use of anabolic steroids. I've taken enough biology to know that anabolic steroids act as hormones, and hormones affect the, uh, boys. So steroids must be causing some very strange stuff.

And don't even try to tell me that L stands for Large and R stands for Regular or something. Regular is not a size for things people wear. It's a size for french fries. The sizes for things like this would be Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large, and Yeah, Right. There ain't no Regular.

So, young men, let this be a warning. When it comes to steroid use, it isn't worth it. Just say NO. Or, as my wife said when I showed her and asked why anyone would need a "lefty" or a "righty,"


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

El Matador

There’s a perfectly rational explanation. I am a scholar, a man of (social) science, I expect logic and order in the universe. So it’s a matter of faith that there is a rational explanation.

I spent most of Monday evening wrestling with El Toro. El Toro mowed one swath of my lawn with my daughter at the helm, quit, and wouldn’t start again.

So it fell to El Matador to set things right again.

I started with the usual things: repeatedly pulling the starting cord and using power words, questioning the lineage of El Toro. That only made him mad. Mad enough to offer one little “cough” out of every 17 pulls, just enough to keep me pulling and pulling and pulling again.

I checked the air filter, I used starter fluid. I completely drained and replaced the oil. I drained the gas and replaced it with new gas in case it had gone bad. Nothing.

After dark, in the safety of my house, and drawing on my extensive mechanical know-how gleaned from “Benny and Joon” I reviewed the possibilities. Either I didn’t have fuel or I didn’t have fire. Having checked the fuel (at least as much as I could) I decided to check the fire at my earliest convenience.

So this morning I was about to take out the ol’ plug and check it out when I thought (and this shows the depth of my lunacy), “I’ll just give it one more pull.”

It started. One pull. No cough, no hesitation, nothing. One pull.

El Toro had become El Ferdinand.

Not only did it start, it mowed my whole yard, including the jungle that had once been my back lawn, and started with one pull pretty much every time.

There is a rational explanation. My current hypotheses include:

1. It don’t like Mondays.

2. El Toro doesn’t like to see my children actually doing work. It likes to wait until 8 am in the morning when all my children are asleep to start. “C’mon,” it says to me, “Let’s do some mowin’!”

3. So maybe my mower likes me. Me, personally. Great. My mower has a man-crush.

4. Bad gas gummed up the jets and the good gas reversed it over the course of two nights.

5. Roughly equivalent to #4, but involves the curse of a bad fairy and the good fairy coming to undo it. But the good fairy has a second job as Lady Gaga’s guardian angel Tuesdays, and so couldn’t make it until this morning.

So science marches on. I’ll keep you posted. Maybe I’ll have the Car Whisperer give it a once-over. I hope he can get to the bottom of it. When it comes to machines, I don’t mind pure cussedness, but inconsistency drives me nuts.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Should I Be Worried About This?

Although I don’t consider myself an uneasy sleeper, I have never really gone easy into that good night, either. Too often in my life, surrendering to sleep just means that the next thing I’m aware of is morning, with its attendant responsibilities and unpleasantness. As John Fogarty puts it, “night time is the right time” as far as I’m concerned.

So this means that I usually have to read myself to sleep. Or maybe do some crossword puzzles or sudokus or something. And before you want to tell me that sleep experts would suggest that’s only going to keep me awake, remember that’s just the point: to pretend I’m staying up while actually I’m slowly getting sleepy but don’t notice it. Anyway, the upshot is that I have piles of various reading materials by my bed, ranging from newspapers and magazines through novels and textbooks and back to Bloom County collections. And occasionally I have to break down and gather them up and put them away.

Not a pleasant task, but I discovered something both entertaining and unnerving the other day as I was doing this: I could sort the reading material into piles based on the seven deadly sins:

Gluttony: Various cookbooks, Cook’s Illustrated

Pride: Strength Training Anatomy, Body by Science, other books on weight training. As if.

Sloth: Crosswords. Sudokus. Get Fuzzy. Dave Barry. Patrick McManus.

Wrath: Most of my professional books on education, most of which make me angry.

Lust: Sorry, I gave this up when I got married, unless you throw it in with:

Greed and Envy: Consumer Reports, especially when it deals with off-road vehicles.

Oh well. I wish I could honestly say that I’m surprised. But I’m not. I couldn’t find a single piece of bedtime reading material that I could throw in a “cardinal virtue” pile.

No, I really can’t count holy writ. It isn’t bedtime reading, after all. It puts me to sleep.

Can’t have that.