Saturday, January 27, 2007

Keep the Axles Spinning Easy

The cub scout pinewood derby fanfare is over and I can finally unbutton my woodcrafting collar and loosen my proverbial toolshoop tie. You see, I'm not a handy guy. I admit this to you but not to my seven year-old son, Skyler. He's in that stage where he thinks I'm somewhere between Jesus and Boog Powell. While Boog Powell never walked on water he was pretty handy on the baseball diamond, though his record in cub scout car races is unknown.
The boy and I bought the official kit, fashioned the classic wedge shape, attached weights to bring it up to the five ounce limit, and lubricated the axles. I fretted about the wheels. Those wheels did not roll straight on our kitchen floor. They did not rest level on our countertop. Girly requests for time and attention from the family females were rebuffed while wheels were leveled and straightened.

One wheel didn't touch the ground every time I made necessary adjustments - a violation. I tired different axle approaches: tapping in from the side, pounding in from the bottom, all with the same result. I realized there were too many variables. I glued in the back wheels without a road test and waited a day to add the front wheels to the mix. That helped my sanity if nothing else.

Skyler painted the car. I visualized a Jackson Pollock drip masterpiece, but we goofed when we dripped multiple colors before the first one dried. They mixed together on their own when we weren't looking. Pollock cub-scout blue and yellow drip car turned space green car. Skyler added star and planet stickers and we glued extra weight on top. I lubed the axles with the sanctioned graphite dust, turned it in, heaved a sigh of relief and smiled all the way to the car. This was uncharted water for me, the son of a psychologist, where household tools weren't in the garage, but were kept in the file cabinet; ink blots and cartoons of deer holding enema bags. I shit you not!

Race night got underway after work Friday and I told my son that I didn't know if we'd finish first, but we wouldn't finish last. We stood in the cafetorium at the local Middle School and recited the pledge of allegiance before racing night commenced. We finished first and second place in our qualifying heats. Our grade level featured sixteen racers and we didn't medal, but we were competitive.

The 2nd half of the evening was open pack racing, all ages against each other. 60 cars competed for the pack trophy and a chance to compete at a future district race. The green space machine qualified for the quarter finals and then the semi-finals with some fortunate matchups and solid performances. We didn't advance to district but we finished in a tie for 8th place out of 60 cars and that was pretty good considering I'm the son of the man with the inkblots in the garage. The deer with the enema bag retired.

I trotted out the Desiderata speech about there being those who were greater and lesser than you in many of life's trials in the minivan on the way home. Don't know if that sunk in. We only lived five minutes away from the race site.

P.S. Our neighbor won the whole thing and I must say he also has the best lawn too. I hope they win district. Good Luck. Maybe this summer I'll trade him some ink blots for tips on keeping the axles spinning easy.

Friday, January 26, 2007

More Embarrassment Video

My favorite all-time band doing Funtime. Thanks to the Embo discussion group at yahoo for this youtube link. And after you're doing viewing it, check out the iggy pop/david bowie version from the Dinah Shore show. It will be over on the related links tab on the right hand pane.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Trivia Alert for 1-24-07

I will appear on the Wednesday edition of Who Wants to be a Millionaire on GSN. The original ABC broadcast aired 12/13/00. See if I make it into the hot seat with Regis. Airs at 7pm central time. Check your local cable listings.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Do You Care?

You may recall the name Archibald "Moonlight" Graham from the 1989 film Field of Dreams. He was the guy who appeared in one inning of one major league game and was portrayed by Frank Whaley (as young Archie) and Burt Lancaster (as Doc Graham). But do you care that he was a real person?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I Have a Sinus Deal

My face is dry and leathery. The skin under my nose is red and flaky from the onslaught of mucus and wind I faced on the way here. I need a tissue. Still, I'm thrilled to be your server at the Brass Keg Bottom. Thanks for coming this evening. Our special: Fried Butterfly Shimp. It's leapin', lovin', kisses you never got - until tonight. Prepared with Canola oil and served on a bed of Uncle Ben's. $8.95 with a salad and a baked potato.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Grade School Full Circle

The Jones family visted Stanley Elementary open house tonight. We walked among the art projects and gold-star papers, talked with smiling teachers, now younger than me. I spied a familiar face in the midst of this bustling elementary complex. Jeff Paschal and I attended Roeland Park elementary school, Old Mission Junior High, and Shawnee Mission North during the same era. We discovered that we're nearly neighbors out here on the edge of the metroplex. He's a year older than me, but was a classmate during my second grade year when they split the class, half 2nd graders and half 3rd graders. I had not seen him since the 20th anniversay reunion of the North state championship baseball team five years ago. That was a fluke too. My boss invited me to an after work rocket sauce sampling at the same bar where the team gathered that night.
Back at Stanley elementary, we chatted and I mentioned that I bowl at Mission Bowl with another Roeland Park alum, Kurt Westhoff. It must be Jeff Paschal week. He told me he saw Kurt yesterday. I'll bet Reagan was President the last time he saw us both in the same week. Maybe I'll see him again soon. He was quite the Mission bowl junior bowler and we can always use another rock tosser.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Langston Hughes in Lawrence

I'd like to see more props for Langston Hughes in relation to his Lawrence, KS roots. So does Denise Low, Kansas' next poet laureate. Check this brief chat transcript from The Lawrence Journal-World.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tonight at Mission Bowl - A fashion show

Tonight we bowled after a three week layoff. and split, no pun intended, our match with a team where a few of the bowlers wear loose-fitting pants. Sometimes these garments are akin to sweat pants, other nights they resemble pajama pants. It's not what I'd pick to roll the urethane rock. I am forced to wear my work slacks since I drive to the lanes directly from the office. These drawers are also not what I'd pick given a choice. I think Levis are good. Some guys like to wear shorts, even during the winter months. Most choices are driven by a desire for a free range of motion, but I believe the jammie pants are too relaxed for public interaction. I think I was influenced by the Seinfeld episode where Jerry chides George for wearing sweats in public, like he gave up on life.
The truth is that the bowling alley is no place for style. Wear whatever floats your bowling bag. My guidelines: cover all bellies and butt cracks. Anything else is lagniappe. This also applies to all waitresses at Applebees, Red Lobster, and/or the Outback Steakhouse. If God shaped you like the Michelin Man, low-rise jeans and bare midriff tops will not help increase tips. The exception is the Olive Garden. Let it all hang out and keep the bread sticks comin' baby! I'm the guy in the corner booth sporting cotton pajama pants and bowling shoes. Bon appetit and good scoring.

Friday, January 05, 2007

One week down in January

The first week of January flew past in a flash. I've been busy at work and I also finished my new short story (uh, not at work, but here at home). I polished it each evening, looked for adverbs to remove, and typos that needed fixing. I took out the almosts and justs and maybes. Now its done and I'm real happy with it. For awhile last year, I wasn't sure I'd ever get it finished.

Monday, January 01, 2007

I'm Excited

I finished writing a new short story last night. Now the rewriting begins as does 2007. I resolve to do more writing and rewriting in the coming year. I am grateful for my health and my family and for the three people who visit this web log. I raise a cup of kindness (AKA scotch) to you.