Monday, July 26, 2010

Go out and snap some weird pictures

MARK’S ARTICLE – July 26, 2010 “Waiting for photos”

You know what killed the Abominable Snowman, Sasquatch, Yeti, Big Foot, Lee J. Cobb? Do you? No, they’re all one and the same… except for Cobb. I just threw his name in to see if you were paying attention. Hate to lose people this early in the piece.

Well, what killed Big Foot is the same thing that killed the Loch Ness monster and most UFOs. Ready for this? Ta da! It’s the cell phone. Pretty obvious wasn’t it? Well then, apparently my mind just thinks differently. Not better, necessarily… but, different…ly. (I’m using way too many of those “…” aren’t I? “Ellipsis” I think they’re called. I’m sure I’m using ‘em wrong, too, but they just seem to show up occasionally… along with Bigfoot, ghosts, extraterrestrials…)

Back to “death by cell phone.” I thought about cell phones while seeing about five minutes of the latest program on Roswell and Area 51. The Roswell incident happened back in ’47. Area 51 has been around since… who knows? I don’t.

Area 51
It could’ve been out there during the time of Moses. They’ve probably got Elijah’s fiery chariot in a hanger right next to the Roswell spaceship. (For those who consider that blasphemy, I don’t really think they have the chariot. That was just silly talk.)
I only mentioned Roswell and Area 51 because I’m tired of hearing about ‘em. It’s sad to think that that’s the best we can do. We’ve got some conversations with people who say they saw stuff? Is that it? Oh, I know there are blurry photos of UFOs and scary stuff, but come on, man, how come every witness to a “happening” turns out to be a lousy photographer with a cheap camera?
The only decent photo of Bigfoot was the one taken of the guy in the woods walking straight up, wearing the gorilla suit. He’s looking right at the camera like he’s saying, “Is this about where you want me, Herbie?

No, if there are any real Sasquatches out there, we’ll have some real pictures pretty quick. Maybe next week. And, that’s because of cell phones. Those things take great pictures. We had a family get-together awhile back, and Jill was snapping pictures right and left with her phone. They came out better than mine did, and I was taking photos with one of those disposable camera things. You can’t get any better than that… I thought.

Today, nobody goes anywhere without a cell phone. Well, that’s a lie, but since it adds more credence to what I’m saying, I thought I’d use it. People do that on talk radio all the time. It’s become an accepted practice. Accepted by everyone in the Free World. -- See how easy it is to do?

So, whether they’re in the woods, at the beach, on a dark and stormy night -- insert ellipsis -- everyone has the ability to take a picture or a video of anything weird. So far, we haven’t gotten any good stuff. Oh, there’s Grandpa’s pants falling down, a dog attacking a vacuum cleaner, a kid blowing spaghetti out his nose, a lady falling out of a canoe, ellipsis.

But, we see no in-focus UFOs, Yetis or sea monsters. Notice I didn’t include ghosts in there. That’s cause ghosts are among the few apparitions that show up mostly in pictures. You don’t know they’re there until you look at the photo. Hey, I’ve seen one. If Al can find the picture, I’ll see if the boss won’t put it in. If you don’t see it’s ‘cause Al couldn’t find it or the CIA wouldn’t let The Villager print it.

If you think I’m trying to debunk Bigfeet or Loch Nesses or UFOs, you’re sadly mistaken. Well, not sadly. That doesn’t even make sense to me. Point is, I’ve seen a UFO. At least I saw something in the air that I couldn’t identify and it was weird as all get out. Haven’t seen me on TV talking about it, have you? The Government won’t let me. Again, that’s a lie, but it’s really working here.

Unfortunately, during my sighting, I didn’t have a camera with me. If I had, the photo would’ve come out all blurry and weird, ‘cause I’m a lousy photographer. Or, maybe I had a camera and the aliens confiscated it and left a shard of something in my earlobe to make me forget. I’m liking the sound of that.

I’ve mentioned before that I’d really like to be the President, so I could find out what the government really knows about UFOs and aliens and what all. I’d make somebody show me all that we’ve got. Of course, I saw a preview of one of the new TV series where they showed a clip of the President telling some underling to give him some info. The guy said, “I’m sorry, Mr. President. That’s on a need-to-know basis.”

Boy, if I were President and somebody told me I didn’t need to know something, I’d have the nearest Secret Service guy make him talk in a squeak for the rest of his life. “Need to know basis” my foot! For a President “need to know” should be the same as “want to know.” If the President is kept in the dark, he could push a button to send missiles to France, when it was really the escaped extraterrestrials from Area 51 who attacked Silver City. (No offense meant to the French. I just drew France right out of the air. Could’ve easily been Paraguay… No offense to the Paraguayans.)

Oh, well, the only thing left to do is just sit back and wait. If there is anything out there, we’ll probably get a picture of it in a week or two. If we don’t, that means there’s nothing out there. What I’m thinking. There are too few places for oddities to hide anymore. And there is absolutely nothing that can dodge a camera. They’re everywhere. Of course, that’s not true, but it’s true enough to serve as evidence.

Area 51 and Roswell? They were yesterday. I want to see some new stuff. So, let’s all go out there and take some cell phone pictures. Starting with Jill. Post ‘em on You Tube. Don’t give ‘em to the government. We know what they’ll do with ‘em. Stick ‘em right there in Area 51, right next to ET’s bicycle. They didn’t let that poor creature go. You’re aware of that aren’t you?


Friday, July 16, 2010

Too many wheelbarrows, not enough porch swings

MARK’S ARTICLE – July 16, 2010
“The horror of side effects”

Did you hear the latest about vitamin D? Yeah? Well, I’m pretty tore up about, too. I would’ve just as soon not known. Just makes me wish Kay didn’t read so much.

We were doing our breakfast thing last week. We’re sitting at the table and I’m eating my Wheat Chex/Grape Nuts combo. I invented it. Only, I don’t buy the real Grape Nuts, I get the Kroger brand called, Nutty Nuggets. The box is bigger and it costs less. I can’t tell the difference. Of course, if you threw in some road gravel, I’m not sure I could tell the difference.

Where were we? Right. We’re at the table and I’m eating cereal, Kay’s eating… something healthy. Since I can’t read and eat crunchy stuff at the same time, I’m just munching. Kay’s got the newspaper in front of her nose.

“Uh oh,” she said. “Says here that Vitamin D will wheelbarrow you.” Of course, she didn’t say wheelbarrow. She said “constipate.” The term calls up so many horrible visions, that I’m just gonna call it “wheelbarrow” for our purposes today. Try not to get mixed up, or this is really gonna come across as stupid.

Where was—Oh, yeah. After many decades of study, some smarty-pants discovered that Vitamin D can give you a serious wheelbarrow problem, and he decided to share… his findings. Not the wheelbarrow.

Do you have any idea how long I’ve taken Vitamin D of a morning? About two years now. I take Vitamin D3 to be exact. No idea what the “3” stands for, or if there’s a “1” or “2”. Truth is, I don’t even know what a Vitamin is. Do you dig for ‘em? Pick ‘em? Suck ‘em out of fruit? Who knows? I’m sure Kay does.

She’s what started it all. A couple of years ago she commented on how little sun I get. She said it after I stepped out the door in my shorts. She noticed that my legs were a bit white. And, they are. I know that. Here, let me show you. No, no, it’ll just take a second. I’ll-- Well, okay. Take my word.

Anyway, Kay said that we get Vitamin D from the sun and since we weren’t getting much sun, we should probably take some D. She suggested D3. No idea.

So, I’ve been taking the stuff for two years now, all the while wrestling with the side effects. Turns out I’m taking several things that have been known to load your wheelbarrow. Way too many things.

All my pills are meant to make me healthier… help me to look young, help me sleep, see and bend down without staying down. I’m one of only three men in the county who are taking iron. I don’t know why those other two yahoos are taking it, but I’m taking it ‘cause I’ve got the jimmy-leg. Cowboys call it “restless leg syndrome.”

I didn’t know I had it till the third time I went to the sleeping clinic and got diodes glued to every body part that has hair. The doctor looked at the results of my tests and said that, among other things, I’ve got the ol’ restless leg. Gave me a blood test and said I’m low on iron.

I’ve been taking iron tablets now for about a year. The doctor recommended I eat a lot of fiber ‘cause the iron can really cause wheelbarrowation. Of course it does. Even if it didn’t, the mere suggestion of it would give it to me.

One time when I was with the brothers, I was eating a boiled egg. Dennis says, “How can you eat those? They give me the wheelbarrows.” Sure enough. No problem before, but now I can only eat eggs scrambled or over easy. Boiling, demonizes an egg. Don’t know if you knew that.

I also take a few pills for some other problems. I don’t wanna go into all of ‘em. Baylor University is doing a study. I take one pill for my eyes. Seems I’ve got retina problems from a cave movie. I’ve mentioned the movie before. There were monsters in the cave, so we kept lighting flares so we could see ‘em. We shot the cave scene a hundred times. No telling how many flares we used. The doctor said I should’ve kept my eyes shut. Obviously, he hasn’t been around that many cave monsters.

Good news is, my retinas aren’t getting any worse. Probably because of the pill I’m taking. I’m also taking stuff for… well for a lot of different problems. Many associated with my head. It’s a mess.

Fortunately, I’ve got Kay to read all the side effects of every pill. I’d just as soon not know, but she thinks I should. The subatomic-sized print that comes with each pill bottle says that among a hundred other things, the pills “may” cause wheelbarrows or porch-swings. I’m using “porch-swings” in place of diarrhea. A vile word it be. I’ll hear no more of it.

Anyway, when given the choice between wheelbarrows and porch-swings, I think we all know what my body is going to choose. Just once in awhile I’d like to get porch-swings. I need porch-swings. But, noooo. I’m one of the chosen few who are destined to push a low-tired wheelbarrow through life.

I see a lot of you think this funny. Dennis does. Dennis thinks it’s a hoot. He’ll make up stuff to mess with my head. He’s liable to call and say, “Hey, bro, did you read what cinnamon will do to you? Yep, one sprinkle is the same as three boiled eggs.” Anybody need to borrow a brother?

It would be so interesting to know what it would be like if I had never known of side effects of stuff. Would I be like normal people? Am I, in fact, allergic to knowledge? Is that what it is?

I’ll let you know what the doctors at Baylor have to say. They’re pretty excited about this. One of ‘em told me to just keep doing what I normally do, or else I might skew the findings. Right after saying that he recommended I cut down on cookies. Everybody's a comedian.


To see Mark and restaurant reviewer Brad Meyer’s second video review, go to You Tube and type in "Brad and Mark restaurant review" and click on the the picture of us with the gray screen behind us.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oh, what a week it was

MARK’S ARTICLE – July 12, 2010

"Weird week"

Last week was not one of my better weeks. It wasn’t your fault. I can’t believe it was mine. Kay, maybe. Yeah, probably Kay.

The week started off with "The Southern Cross." It’s a song sung by Crosby, Stills and Nash. Mostly Stills. – "Got out of town on a boat for the Southern Islands. Sailing a reach before a following sea…" -- No idea what a lot of it means, but I dig the tune. I’ll give it a 95.

Right now, I’d give about anything to get it out of my head. Scratch that. I’ll give anything under $10. Hey, it’s buggin’ me, but I’m not completely outta my mind. That won’t happen till early Friday.

This is one of those times when a song keeps playing over and over in my brain. I played it twice last Monday and it hasn’t left me since. You may be able to get away with hearing a good song more than once, but not me. Not even "I." (Lt to rt) Stills, Nash, Crosby and Young (better known as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)

The song is on a continuous cranial loop all day and into the night.

"Into the West" the song from "Return of the Kings" holds the record for the longest mental play, but this Southern Cross thing is getting close with no sign of let up.

I spilled my coffee twice on Tuesday. That’s another bad thing about the week. I seldom spill coffee. Maybe once every two months. Usually on a Thursday. I’ve got the remnant of a spill right here in the guts of my computer keyboard. It happened back in November. Since then my "j" key has been sticking. Have you ever had that problem?

Tuesday’s two coffee spills didn’t do any real damage. Both times the splash hit on a rug that has a weird design. Coffee blends well with it. Blended so well that I couldn’t find the second spill. I had to get down on my hands and knees. Found it with my left knee. Fascinating.

Although the coffee spills did little physical damage, they did give me pause. – What? Oh, sorry. -- Uh, the spills ‘caused me to worry about my coordination. It’s just not normal for an agile, athletic suave guy to juggle two coffees in one day. It’s not even normal for me. Or, even I. Weird week.

I wouldn’t worry all that much about mug juggles, if it weren’t for the blinker light on my Yaris. (That’s a baby Toyota. Cute as a bug.) Last week, I left my blinker light on… three times. Yes, I realize that blinker lights normally turn themselves off, but only if you make a complete 90-degree turn. If you do one of those 120-degree turns, that light just might stay on. At least mine might. And, when it does, my blinker doesn’t want to disturb me. It makes way too little noise.

Dennis told me that if he leaves his blinker light on too long, the thing will start blaring at him. I may have to take the car in and have Troy turn up the volume on my blinker. That’ll excite him.

Bottom line, I’ve turned into the driver I used to fuss about. Before I completely freak, I’d like you to run a test for me. How about finding the nearest Yaris, hot wire the thing (however that works), turn on the air conditioner and the blinker light and tell me how hard blinker is to hear. If you have no trouble hearing it, I may be turning into Kay’s uncle. If you do have trouble hearing it, I don’t have to feel so bad about making fun of Kay’s uncle.

The ol’ coup de grace of the whole week came with our decision to bundle. This particular bundling involved handing our telephone, Internet and HD TV service to one company instead of parceling it out to a couple. It was Kay’s idea. I knew I could drag her into this. Kay persuaded me to ditch Dish and bundle with our Telephone company, so we could save $60 a month. She made it sound so good that I agreed to delve into the world of the techno. Eve, thy name is Kay.

I was the one who did all the switching. There is a tablet on the desk behind me just full of notes and names and phone numbers. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but it’s much easier to buy into a service than it is to disconnect a service. The selling people are eager. The disconnecting people not so much.

I eventually told a Dish network guy – Miles, I think -- that if he sent me back to Customer Service I was going to get on a slow freighter to Kuala Lumpur and beat the daylights out of him. Fortunately, he had me on hold at the time. Miles couldn’t help it. He was just doing his job. It was pretty much Kay’s fault.

Eventually, I got everything disconnected that needed to be, and everything connected that was supposed to be. After just a few days we wanted out. We needed out! Our new HD TV DVR system must’ve been taken out of a house in Amityville. -- By the way, a TV without DVR is a box. (Isaac Newton, 1671)

Our new system was so slow and so much more complex. It required a PIN number to get into the closed captioning instructions. The remote had more buttons than a Van Heusen factory. The whole thing almost cost us our marriage.

I ended up having to switch everything back. Only took me a few hours and two pages of notes. Everyone I talked to from the Phone Company was from the States. So refreshing.

The guy from the Phone Company who came to pick up all the equipment said that much of my trouble was probably due to the metal roof. Seems wireless signals have trouble with metal roofs. Whatever, just move it out, and take the remotes with you. Devil sticks they were.

It was much easier to get Dish to take us back than it was for them to let us go. Apparently a prodigal son thing. Since I still had my equipment, Dish only charged us $40 to return to the fold. It took 10 minutes to get us back on line. A guy in a rock building in Nepal flipped a switch. Probably.

Fortunately, I learned a few things from the goings-on of the week. I learned that I may have turned into a deaf klutz with a reoccurring-song disease. And, I learned that the government doesn’t have a monopoly on bureaucracy. It all makes me wanna go "sailing a reach before a following sea." Whatever that means.