Archive for March, 2009

Yellow is the color of piss

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

The Yellow KidI was reading some news today (as I do) and, as usual, the point of the story itself escaped me because I was so hung up on the language in which this tale was woven.

And it was a terrible, terrible tale, to be sure – a man went to a nursing home and shot up a bunch of people, killing 8 of them (the oldest being a 98-year old woman which, come on! This lady lived through two World Wars, Russian, Mexican, Chinese, Spanish, Greek, and Cuban Revolutions and Civil Wars – plus a number of other skirmishes – a Great Depression, the discovery of Pluto as a planet and its subsequent dismissal, major floods and earthquakes and hurricanes… hell, when she was born, her life expectancy was 54 years, and she made it to 98 only to be shot to death in some crappy nursing home by some miserable prick? Fuck.)

But also terrible (although not as terrible as the actual events, okay, fine, I get that, get off my fucking back!) was the way the event was spoken of and written about.

The thing started out:

At 10 a.m. Sunday morning, while many residents in Carthage, N.C., were sitting quietly in church, police say 45-year-old Robert Stewart entered a local nursing home armed with multiple guns, stalking from room to room and shooting several residents, even those bound to wheelchairs.

Nice lead… but what does church have to do with it? Why not write, “…while many residents in Carthage, N.C., were happily preparing tasty nutritious Kellogg’s® Pop-Tarts® toaster pastries – Made for Fun!™ – police say blah blah blah…?” If you’re going to insert product placement, make it something that can pay the bills! Are you bringing up church as a stark contrast just to bring home what a bad man this was? Or are you merely emphasizing how God let these people down? I don’t know… but don’t do it.

Then there’s the political posturing. We all know it was a bad thing that happened… bad and senseless and stupid. This politician going on “Hello, Today!” (or whatever dumb morning news show it was) clearly just wanted his share of face time:

“He came in with a shotgun, a rifle and a couple other kinds of weapons and he just went around shooting people, people in wheelchairs and this type of thing,” Sen. Harris Blake of the North Carolina State Assembly said. “This could not be any more barbaric.”

“Could not be any more barbaric?” Seriously? What if he had doused them in kerosene and lit them on fire, or hacked them to bits with a claw hammer? That’s more barbaric. We don’t need some stupid politician to reiterate that it was terrible, and we certainly don’t need hyperbole when the actual event was already bad enough.

And since the political players can’t all jump on the Exaggeration Bandwagon, the police chief went the opposite way with:

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to put into words what has happened here,” Carthage Police chief Chris McKenzie told “Good Morning America” today.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to put into words…?” Excuse me, Alan Alda, but the article you’re quoted in is words telling us what happened there. Just read that out loud. (You can sound out the big words.) And what about the police report? Wasn’t there a police report? You damned well had better be able to put it into words for the police report – pictograms are totally unacceptable. I watch Law & Order (and its many bastard children), and I know how important that police report is going to be in the appeal process. Damn it, man! Get a grip!

And, of course, no tragedy is complete without the district attorney’s office weighing in:

“He acted nothing short of a heroic day today,” Moore County district attorney Maureen Kruger said Sunday.

Unfortunately, she was another one who has trouble putting things into words.

Why can’t the news just report the news, and leave the interpretation to us? Why, during every tragedy, do church and God and faith have to rear their ugly heads? When will people stop dramatizing things that are already packed chock full o’ drama? Save the wailing and gnashing of teeth, do your job, and leave the limelight for the stars of stage and screen to entertain us – they’re much better at it than you smarmy politicians.

Also, if your life sucks – really, really sucks, or you just imagine it does in your twisted, selfish, addled brain – try just turning the gun on yourself and leave the old ladies alone. The Reaper will be here for them soon enough without your help.

You fucking twat nozzle.

Taco Truck!

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Today we ventured out of our ivory tower at lunchtime to seek out one of the simple pleasures of life: tacos from Tacos Gonzalez, aka “The Taco Truck.”

A few months back we became aware of this taco truck that seemingly suddenly appeared in the neighborhood. Tempted by memories of the tacos I had enjoyed… enjoyed? No, jonesed after would be more appropriate… at the makeshift stand that appeared each night on the sidewalk outside the Goodyear garage in Irapuato, Gto. Mexico when I lived there in 2001, I finally made a trip one lunchtime to the taco truck. (That it had chosen to park outside the Ace Hardware only served to enhance my anticipation.)

Johnny K and I bellied up to the screened windows on the side of the stainless steel behemoth and each ordered three barbacoa tacos, with the works: onion, cilantro, shredded cabbage, avocado, and a deep red spicy hot salsa.

One bite, and I was instantly transported back to the streets of Mexico. (In my mind, anyway. Physical instantaneous teleportation is AT LEAST a couple of years away. Damned scientists are wasting their time on other stuff, I guess.) These are the most authentic, delicious tacos I’ve found north of the Mason-Dixon… and, they’re only a buck and change each! Just like in Mexico!

The only mistake we made was ordering three. These things are so huge, two will more than fill you up.

Since those glorious days, the Taco Truck has moved from outside the hardware store to outside an auto parts store, the cost of a taco has been raised two bits, and they don’t seem to have the barbacoa anymore. But none of that matters. It’s still easy to get to, it’s still one of the cheapest meals in town, and the al pastor and carnitas are just as delicious as the barbacoa.

And two tacos are still more than enough.

I think I need a nap.

Private parking, 24/7

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

private moments, private parkingLast weekend, Kortney and I went to Madison to go to an Indian restaurant she had heard about from a lady at work. The weather was finally spring-like, and Madison is one of my favorite little cities, so I figured it would be the perfect place to pop the question. I was thinking about maybe doing it down by the lake, but I didn’t really have that part worked out. I just figured there were enough private beautiful open spaces that I’d find the right one when inspiration struck. The only thing I knew for sure was that I would play the harmonica part from “All I Want is You” (by Barry Louis Polisar, from the Juno soundtrack) because Kortney once told me that until I could play that harmonica part, she wouldn’t marry me. I also planned to sing, even knowing that hearing me sing could be a deal breaker.

The groundwork had been laid – I found the ring a few weeks earlier, having spent an entire night going from jewelry store to jewelry store looking at princess cut diamond rings with baguettes adorning the band, only to go out again the following day and actually purchase something completely different. I had also spent a good hour on the phone with her father on the prior Monday asking for her hand (because I roll old-fashioned like that), so I had the ring, I had the parents’ approval, I had practiced the harmonica… all I had left to do was to ask the question.

So we drove up to Madison, laughing and chatting and talking nonsense – our usual modus operandi. We found the Maharaja and had a delicious meal… although my own appetite was a little stunted because my mind was elsewhere as I fingered the harmonica and the ring box in my coat pocket throughout the meal.

After lunch, we went over to the nearby mall because Kortney wanted to look at some clothes for an upcoming business trip. (And I really needed a poo. Nerves + Indian food + too much Guinness the night before!) At the mall, we passed by a Zales jeweler – except we didn’t pass by, we went in. For the first time EVER, she decided she wanted to try on some rings! Panic! The sales lady was already busy with another couple, so I mentioned that maybe it would be better to go back some other time… we could continue shopping. We could head to State Street. We could leave now… but then the sales lady came over.

Kortney had already identified several rings that had piqued her interest, and the sales lady accomodated by removing these various rings from the glass case so she could try them on. Meanwhile, I stood by awkwardly and uncomfortably clutching the ring in my coat pocket, hoping that she wouldn’t fall in love with something completely different than I had already purchased. Most of the rings she was shown were completely different. Eep!

At long last she had finished trying on the rings and we left the store. I obviously didn’t hide my discomfort very well because on the way out she asked me if I was mad or upset that she tried on the rings, and I think she began to worry that perhaps she would never get a ring from me… little did she know…

We finally left the mall and got into the car to head over to State Street. We parked in the parking garage I use whenever I go to Madison, and as we were going down the stairs to the street, I took out my harmonica and absentmindedly – and prematurely – blew a note or two. I had intended to keep it in my pocket until we got somewhere more appropriate, but no – I blew it. Literally, and figuratively.

Kortney heard the harmonica and said, “You should play the harmonica as we walk down the street!” Okay… this could work… I could just play a few little tunes on the way over to State Street, or down to the lake, or…

But no. Since I had been practicing the damned tune all morning, it was right there in the front of my mind, and it was all I could think to play – so we were walking across a crappy, run down private parking lot behind an out-of-business restaurant, singing the song we had sung together so many times before, me playing the harmonica and her dancing around, and when we got to the part that goes:

All I want is you, will you be my bride?
Take me by the hand and stand by my side,
All I want is you, will you stay with me?
Hold me in your arms and sway me like a sea

I took her arm, got down on one knee, and held up the ring.

Her reaction was one of disbelief – she said, “Are you kidding me?” followed by “Holy…!” and “Oh my…!” and various other things I couldn’t quite make out because she was completely caught off guard, trying to make sense of it, crying…

She was a little confused because she took my uncomfortableness at Zales to mean I maybe didn’t want to get her a ring, and then she couldn’t quite make out how I bought a ring when she was there with me the whole time… so where did the ring come from?!

Finally I stood up and hugged her and laughed and said, “You know… It’s a ‘yes or no’ question!”

And she said, “Yes.”