Monday, February 23, 2009

Cafe Quote

This one is from a long time friend and customer, Chris. The other night I was sitting at the bar at Landlocked and Chris was a few seats down. In between were a couple of attractive women in their early 50s and Chris was chatting them up.

Attractive woman: So, what do you do?

Chris: I'm a writer, I'm working on a book.

AW: Really? What's it about?

Chris: It's called "Cougar Tales," would you like to be in it?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Return of Frank. Again.

I have fired Frank twice. I have wanted to fire Frank several more times than twice. So why yesterday did I hire Frank back? Ok, before some of you attempt to correlate the softness of my heart with the post below this one let me just point out that the Boddington’s started at 10:30 am and the Shiner ended about 12 hours later. I was not drunk when Frank came in.
There’s something about this kid, I’ve known him for eight years, since he was about 14, when he used to come in and hang out at the counter all night.

John hired him and he was a major point of contention between us toward the end of John’s tour as owner. Frank was often late, would sneak beers and a couple of times left before his shift was over. I almost quit over John's failure to deal with him.

Two days after I bought the place Frank didn’t show up for work, didn’t call until the next evening…from jail, so I fired him.

Several months later Frank came in crying and really seemed sincere about getting his shit together, so I let him come back with strict conditions. He did good for quite a while. Two days after I lifted those conditions he did it again, no-showed then called from jail, so I fired him again.

But I missed having him around. Frank is funny as hell, he’s quick, he doesn’t need a prep list, just comes in and sees what needs to be done and gets started, he’s very well read for not having a formal education…hell, he’s read more obscure books on philosophy, sociology and politics than many sitting on bachelor degrees in those fields…his taste in music ranges from what sounds like the soundtrack for the Nurnberg rallies to 60s French pop to 80s new wave to noise. He has tapes (yes, tapes) of some of the weirdest shit: crime victims talking to reporters and one that’s nothing more than 45 minutes of street noise.

He is probably a sociopath.

He also bakes the most beautiful rolls and cookies of any of us and will jump on any problem without being told. Grease trap backing up? Toilet overflowed? Out of onions? Frank's already on it and will have it solved.

Now, if I can just keep him out of jail.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

Drunk history

Brett told me about this this morning so we've done absolutely nothing constructive yet. This is a great one for Presidents Day...who knew?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Morning

Let Me In by The Unseen Guest is on my Beirut station on Pandora and I'm sitting in the wreckage that passes for my office. I should be doing anything else, but the dough's still mixing and I've got a few minutes, so here's a quick glimpse of my morning.

I awoke to dog breath; Heidi almost always needs out before I'm ready to get up so I usually wake up to her breathing in my face, watching for a the first flicker of consciousness. If I don't get the covers up fast enough she then follows up with a lick.

I shower for way longer than is necessary, my forehead resting on the cool wall letting the hot water work on my shoulders and neck, dress, and knock on the kids' doors to make sure they're awake before I leave. I get a response from the boy, but not the girl, but I don't have to worry about her, she'll be up and to work on time.

Coffee at Sacred Grounds where I never sit, but drink or eat standing at the end of the counter where I can talk to Troy and Kirsten as they work. Keith and Nick are there so it takes all of 30 seconds for any conversation to veer towards obscene.

Brett's already rolling dough when I get to work so I help with that then grab another cup of coffee and make myself a breakfast burrito. The burrito has two eggs, mozzarella, green chile, and Italian sausage. I cook the filling in my favorite pan, a black steel, or French, skillet. The pan heats up very evenly and is well seasoned. I add some Miss Anna's hot sauce and wrap the thing in a soft flour tortilla that I've warmed over the open flame of the stove.

The girl shows up with a pile of mail, but not her brother. She didn't know he was still at home and left without him. So, back she goes to re-wake him and get him to work as well.

La Valse de Virginie, by Gregory Page is on now. The song evokes Paris of a hundred years ago and soon I am searching the stalls of Les Halles for the perfect chicken and some leeks. A Gauloise smolders, dangling from the corner of my mouth, as last night's absinthe still courses through my veins and consciousness. Dinner secure, I will return to my flat where my love will have just returned from from the boulangerie with a gorgeous crusty baguette.

I will fricassee the chicken while she paints. We will eat and drink a bottle of new red wine while the sounds of the cafe drift up from the street. We make love, then fall asleep, her head on my shoulder, our legs entangled, as a cool breeze sneaks between the light curtains to play upon our bodies.

"I love to shit while listening to Michael Jackson!" Zac informs, leaning in my office door. Jared has brought in a CD of Michael's number one hits and it's playing in the dining room.

So, my fantasy world is gone, girl, song and all. Oh well, the dough is ready to roll and it's time to open the doors, and in a few minutes we'll be packed. Tonight I'll buy a bottle of beujolais nouveau and have a glass or three while I read, and then I'll fall asleep hoping to find my way back to Paris and my love while Heidi snores, stretched across the foot of the bed.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ok, you dragged it out of me...

My favorite album? Hmmmm, somehow this that should be among the simplest of questions is among the most difficult. I love music, not in the way that some of my friends love music, but I do. I have music playing all the time; at work, in the car, at home, I can’t imagine the void that would exist if there was no music, and I like all kinds.

I like classical, I like folk, ‘80s big hair metal and country. There are types I don’t like though; I dislike contemporary Christian music with the same intensity that I love old gospel and I hate some speed metal as much as I like to crank up the Motley Crue.

So, how to pick a favorite album?

I was going to cheat and give you a top five, but then I couldn’t decide who would be no. 4 and who would be no., I’m going to list several of my favorites.

I love Don Williams, some Pink Floyd, Yann Tiersen’s Amelie soundtrack, the Wallflowers Bringing Down the Horse, the Talking Heads, the Clash, Gillian Welch, the Reverend Horton Heat, Southern Culture on the Skids, Cake, Pachelbel’s Canon in D (in spite of this) and on and on…

When I was a kid I used to listen to my parents’ LPs, they had a crazy mix of everything, including the New Christy Minstrels, Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, Andy Williams, and Ferrante and Teicher. I used to belt out “I Love Making Love to You” along with Engelbert Humperdinck without having a clue what the lyrics meant. Neil Diamond was a huge part of this time of my life.

My first 45 was M’s Pop Muzik…I wore that one out. My first albums of my own were KISS.

In high school I listened to Def Leppard, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Maynard Ferguson, Planet P Project, U2, Devo and Alabama. My mom refused to let me get Quite Riot’s Metal Health because of the spelling of “Cum on feel the Noize”…I don’t think it was the z that upset her.

In college I listened to a lot more country (I was dating a barrel racer…yee haw) and couldn’t get enough of the Georgia Satellites.

In the army I picked up a taste for socialism and the Sisters of Mercy.

Through all of this one album has stuck more than the rest, and yes, you may mock me, but after careful consideration my favorite album is Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell.

I don’t know why.

Because of that smirk, I will leave you with this…yes, it will be stuck in your head for days and yes, you will sing it to the point that your friends will shuffle off whenever you approach.

You’re welcome.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Some More

There I was thinking I might get two or three questions at the most and then Holly went and asked 30. Cool.

Terroni, I'm still working on yours, it's turned out to be the hardest to answer for some reason.

1. How do you feel about collecting your dog or cat's whiskers by taping them to a post-it note on the fridge? Too weird or acceptable?

Endearingly eccentric. Kinda like keeping a child's drawings there.

2. How do you feel about collecting the little stickers off of fruit by sticking them on the windowsill above the sink?

I don’t consciously collect them, but I do tend to just stick them where ever I happen to be when I eat the fruit, so I find banana, apple, orange and pear stickers in odd places: on the counter, the faucet, the fridge. Strangely not on the windowsill though.

3. What are your top 3 favorite trees?

3. Aspen 2. Oak 1. Sycamore

This was tough because I'm also very fond of the Larch and the Yew.

4. Do you clip your dog's toenails regularly? How does your dog feel about it?

I don’t, I rely on rocky trails and her love of digging to keep them short. I tried to clip Fanta’s nails once and I cut too short, she wailed like crazy and gave me a guilt trip for days. Never again.

5. Handlebar mustaches: yay or nay?

Only if you’re in a barbershop quartet.

6. Fu manchu mustaches: yay or nay?

Are you referring perhaps to the more common horseshoe, or “biker” mustache? Gotta love Wikepedia. I’ve had that one and it was fun…for a day.

7. Your lawn: Grass, garden or xeriscaping?

Weeds, but I don’t water and do mow, so it’s sort of like xeriscaping.

8. Do you wear a helmet when you ride bike?

Sometimes. I usually do on trails, but not on the street.

9. Do you ride bike?

Not as much as I’d like to, but yes.

10. Full moon rituals?

I’m all for the having a big fire and talking to trees with a few nekkid friends type, but not the Race with the Devil type.

11. Did you have a tire swing as a child?

I did. My sister and I had a couple hanging from a mimosa tree when we were small. I used to close my eyes and pretend to be a WWI flying ace…climbing, stalling, doing chandelles to get on my opponents tail.
But then every evening our two hogs would amble out of the woods where they spent the humid summer days wallowing in a nearby spring and hunting snakes and would take over the cool dirt of the dug out spots where we'd drag our feet underneath the swings and no amount of cajoling or prodding from a ten year old was going to move them.

12. Have you owned a good rope hammock? If so, where was it made?

I have not. I’ve always liked the idea of hammocks though. Once in Oklahoma I saw on the news where a man was killed when a tree that he had tied his hammock to had collapsed onto him. He was an attorney who had sued companies over questionable product safety issues.

13. Where does the best coffee grow?

Peru. I have absolutely no proof of this, it’s just where my cup of coffee of this morning came from.

14. Have you started making cheese yet?

Yes, making ricotta all the time now. We did experiment with mozzarella, but haven’t come up with a way to use fresh and keep the same style of pizza.
I would love to replace the gas ovens with wood, reduce the menu and use all fresh house-made mozzarella, but I would probably be burnt as a heretic.

15. Favorite kind of cheese?

I can’t pick a favorite, cheese is one of my favorite foods, I’d pretty much give up eating anything long before I’d go off cheese. I love blue, brie and sharp cheddars.

16. Did you make sling-shots as a child? Potato guns?

I did make a sling shot once, it broke and nearly took out my right eye. I never made a potato gun, but my friends and I used to have bottle rocket fights using pieces of pipe like rifles to launch the rockets.

17. Worst bike wreck?

Courtland, California when I was about eight. My friend Anthony and I had swapped bikes for the afternoon and were riding down the levy of the Sacramento River when the front of the bike started to shimmy. It became uncontrollable at the bottom of the levy and the handlebars snapped to one side and pitched me forward and over; I hit my face on the asphalt street.
Anthony panicked and rode home to tell his mom, I walked down the alley, bloody and crying, to his house where his mom and grandma doctored me while talking softly in Spanish before calling my mom.

18. Worst injury?

Above, I’ve been pretty luck considering some of the really dumb shit I’ve done.

19. Worst hangover?

New Year’s Day 1991, in anticipation of my pending service to King George I. There were at least four Long Island iced teas, an unknown number of beers and shots of several different flavors of schnapps.
I couldn’t raise my head from the pillow, or talk, until five o’clock the next evening. I threw up…a lot. The kids’ mom said that she thought I was going to die and after a while didn’t really care if I did.

20. Funnest drunk time?

Not the above. I’d have to say my thirty-seventh birthday and a bunch of us worked our way through several bars and I mooned cops (I was a sheriff’s deputy at the time) and my sister-in-law tried to kill her husband and I by driving us home in the back of their pickup while alternating between accelerating and braking.
Then there was this time when this happened. I really liked that time.
Oh, and then there was this time in Germany…
I’ve been drunk a few times.

21. Worst karaoke song?

Paradise by the Dashboard Light.

22. Write the worst concept for a TV show you can possibly think of.

Semi-literate people talking about anything in front of a live audience that is encouraged to shout at them.

Worse yet, those same people jumping off of stuff and hitting themselves in the testicles.

23. Write the best concept for a TV show you can possibly think of.

This show is a half-hour sitcom about life at a small town café. The cast consists of a crew of social misfits who somehow form a family headed by their wise and handsome boss who is somehow always wrong when he is most sure that he is right.
Oh, and the café turns into a space ship and they smuggle stuff and have adventures while fighting against their oppressive cyborg overlords from the planet Texas.

24. Flossing: yay or nay?

I’m all for it, but don’t do it nearly often enough.

25. What is your sacred place?

The forest.

26. What is home and why do we long for it?

Home is that place (or time) when things were simple and any problem could be fixed with a kiss and a PB&J from mom.
My mom mixed the PB into a purple goo with grape jelly. Do this, it’s da bomb.

27. Last time you made a prank phone call.

Don’t remember, but considering my age it hasn’t been long enough.

28. Last time you ate pizza?


29. Rough estimate of how many pizza slices you have eaten in your life time?

Low thousands?

30. Mayonaisse with french fries: too weird or acceptable?

Delicious, especially with cheese.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

An answer

Ok, time to start answering questions.

This one had me worried, Maria, but it turned out that this one wasn’t the hardest to answer and, as these things seem to do, it forced me to examine some long held beliefs and feelings and then discard a few.

I’ve thought about this a lot and there can only be one honest answer. I’ve had dates that didn’t go so well, things didn’t click or they did but then things didn’t work out after a short time, but the one date that I really regret is my first date with my second wife.

Z and I worked together and had been friends for a couple of years before we started dating. One night we were at a going away party for a friend. We were both in relationships with people outside work who weren’t present. We danced a few times; the last couple were slow dances. During one of these she asked why I was with the girl I was with at the time, being slightly drunk I told her it was because she wasn’t available.

"You didn't wait long enough," she replied.

By the next night I was single, derailing the fuck out of my karma. A few weeks later she broke up with her boyfriend. Not long after, I was at a cookout and called her to see if she wanted to come over. She said that she didn’t feel up to it but suggested that we go out that next Thursday night.

I picked her up at her parents’ house as she had moved back in with them after her breakup; she was wearing a little black dress and looked amazing. She always looked amazing, it didn’t matter what she was wearing or doing; no makeup and wearing an old flannel shirt and she was still gorgeous.

That night we went out to eat at an Italian place then went to the movies and saw “There’s Something About Mary.” It was a very good first date and not long after that we were engaged and she had moved in with the kids and I. Everything just felt…right.

I was very comfortable with Z; she became the best friend I’ve ever had. I never wanted to be apart, I could not wait to get home after work and hear her inside the house yelling, “Daddy’s home!” while the wiener dog went ape shit as I was getting out of my car.

I also took her for granted and something else happened toward the end that doomed what was (though I didn’t see it at the time) a weakened relationship. Not anything either of us did and I’m not going to write about it, but it put a tremendous strain on us.

I used to get this little panicked feeling when we were together, usually as I’d drive by a place she used to live before we were together. It was just this split-second of ‘What if I hadn’t found her?’ but it would physically startle me.

To have found and lost is so much worse.

Four years later the pain has receded and I no longer feel like the amputee with his ghost limb, waking up feeling all is right with the world only to have reality come crashing in a second later, but sometimes I still have to ask myself how I fucked up something that was so good.

But there are lessons in there and I’m pretty sure I’ve learned them well.

In the end I guess we were just too much alike to be anything but friends. So, although I loved her without measure and was so happy with her for the seven years we were together, I would not go on that date again just to prevent that thing from happening and so that we could still be the friends we used to be and I could run into her at the store and be happy to see her.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Ok, stealing Maria's stolen idea here, I'm feeling a little uninspired so ask a question and I'll answer it. Fire at will.