Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mark's Malady

Earlier this year Mark and I went to the Antiques Road Show. They were filming in Miami Beach so we dragged a few pieces of our crap down there. I never got the painting I schlepped along appraised because the line for that was the longest, and the estimate was it would take four hours. Mark, however, got right in and found out that the lunch box he had was worth a hundred dollars. That isn't what a hoarder needs to hear, that their sickness has finally paid off.

A couple of weekends ago, Mark and I took some time and visited the flea market they put on once a month, here in town. I like it because we can take the dogs, and I often run into folks I know. As for all the things people have spread out for sale, it just looks like bulk pickup day to me. Mark on the other hand, has to take his time strolling between the sellers, and pawing through each pile of crap. This time he came over to me, all excited, with something he called Broadway window cards.
"They were only five dollars a piece!", he squeaked.
"You could have wiped your ass with a five dollar bill, and I'd be just as happy for you.", I said encouragingly.

Well knock me over with a feather. When we got home, Mark got on the internet, and looked up the Broadway window cards he had bought. The very first one he looked up turned out to be worth anywhere from eight hundred dollars, to two thousand. Excitedly he continued researching them. Turns out the least valuable one is worth sixty dollars. Like I said, sometimes the sickness pays off.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sasha Goes To The Vet

On my calendar it said, 'Sasha, Vet, 9:30, bring poop'.  One of my favorite things is to walk into the veterinarian's office with my bag of dog poop, and ask, "Who ordered a bag of shit?".  They all politely smile, and a few of the employees even chuckle. I've been going to the same vet for over twenty one years, and I'd hope they would at least pretend my joke is funny. I know it's not.

Unfortunately for Sasha, this time I forgot the poop. Earlier I had thrown her morning dump into the garbage can, thinking at the time how convenient it was that today is garbage day, and that the can is right out front. For Sasha it meant that they'd have to dig for it. It was a procedure that the vet techs had done over and over, but I got the distinct impression they didn't like it. 

One tech lifted Sasha up onto the table, while the other tech took a long slender spoon out of a wrapper.
"What is that for?", Mark asked.
"They have to dig some poop out of her butt."
Mark is a very squeamish man. He gags at the sight of any bodily fluid, so just as the tech started digging, Mark gasped and ran out of the room. This was followed by a loud yelp from Sasha, and a equally loud yelp from the tech. Sasha had bitten her.

I felt really bad. It was after all, my fault. If I had remembered the bag of dog shit, Mark wouldn't be out in the waiting room wretching up a lung, Sasha wouldn't be standing there with a spoon up her butt, and the vet tech wouldn't be bawling me out for consoling Sasha.
"By doing that you are just rewarding her for biting me .", she scolded.
At least with all this ruckus, it's been burned into my memory. The next time I will definitely remember to bring the poo bag. And when I do walk in with it, I expect that vet tech to at least pretend my 'Who ordered the bag of shit' joke is funny.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Power Trip

I am always amused by Hollywood clichés. One that I find particularly stupid is the power failure. In movies, as the power fails, they first show a room full of lights flickering, then going out one at a time. They then back out and show a view of the city as chunks of the grid slowly fail. That is not how electricity fails. It is sudden, and certain. In the blink of an eye everything is dark. You are not given time to look around and see lights in the distance blink off. Most of all you don't conveniently have a match in your pocket, and a candle next to you. No, you have to stumble around in the dark trying to find that flashlight you were certain was left on the top shelf, while cursing and shouting for some goddamned help.

This evening I was sitting at my desk, working away at the computer, when 'blip', the electric went out. My immediate reaction was, 'Damn, I've lost that game of bubbles I was so close to finishing'. Then I started inventorying all the other things no electric means. Number one, no air-conditioning. It was ninety two degrees outside, and even though it had only been seconds since the power failed I was already sweating. Then I realized there would be no steak dinner that Mark had promised, and no television, which meant no Jeopardy, no baseball games, nothing.

After calling Florida Power and Light, and throwing a temper tantrum, I grabbed Mark, and dragged him out to a nice cool tavern with satellite television. FPL had estimated that they would have the power back on in two hours, and like a fool I took them at their word. when we returned home after the two hours, there was still no electricity, and the FPL repair men were standing around chatting under the power pole in my back yard. I probably shouldn't have told them they were incompetent, and shouldn't have called their office and demanded a crew who knew what they were doing, but I had been drinking for two hours. I was crabby. I honestly think they purposely wasted another two hours out there, for a total of four hours of no electric on one of the hottest days of the year. I'm going to call FPL tomorrow, and demand that the electric company deduct thirty nine dollars off my bill for the cost of cocktails. Of course tomorrow I won't be drunk and I just might forget about the whole thing.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Joe Btfsplk Lives Here

If you've never heard of Joe Btfsplk, he is an old cartoon character by Al Capp who brings bad... no, horrible luck to whoever is near him. I think he lives in my attic.

For months I've been trying to save money for our trip to Chicago. For some reason every time I get some cash saved up, something needs fixing. Usually something very expensive. On Monday it was the PT Cruiser. It needed a new gasket, new front wheel bearings (both wheels), and various other parts replaced. The guy asked me if I had purchased the car new. I told him that I had. He then asked me if I had ever had it serviced, because all the parts in the engine were the originals. My position was that it added to the value of the car as a untouched classic. The mechanic disagreed. Besides, it will probably be another twenty two years or more before my eight year old PT Cruiser is even marginally collectible.
$1,100 was the bill.

This afternoon my tenant called and said the shower was leaking. That would be the shower that Mark's friend, the unlicensed plumber, had rebuilt from the ground up. I went over and took a look. Sure enough, moisture was creeping up the walls, and around the baseboards of the bathroom. This time I called a licensed plumber that I had used before. It was like that show on HGTV, Holmes on Homes, where the guy cleans up the mess of incompetent tradesmen and contractors. He looked at the shower and just stood there, "Tsk, tsk, tsk. Gotta tear it all up, and redo it."
$1400 is the estimate.

On my way out of the apartment, my tenant had a little 'by the way' for me, "You have termites Alan.".  He then pointed to a little pin hole on the wall, and a pile of termite poop on the floor. Luckily I bought a termite protection contract from a local pest control company. I just hope they're still in business.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

King of the Hill

I am dead tired. I got up this morning at seven, and walked first Chandler, and then Sasha, around the block. Then I took the car up to the mechanic and walked the half mile back from there. That was followed by my stint as dog walker at Abandoned Pet Rescue, where I walked six different dogs, each a half mile. I know, 'waa, waa, waa, quit your whining'. It isn't actually all that walking that is the reason I'm so tired. The walking simply pointed out how beat I am. I'm tired because I have two dogs who think they are equal beings living in this house.

Every evening it is like a race to see who gets the good spot in bed. As soon as I begin turning off lights it starts. First it's Sasha grabbing her place on my pillow, then Chandler jumps on the bed, and curls up into a large ball. Finally Mark lays his skinny ass down. By the time I get everything turned off, the doors locked, and head for the bed, there is about four feet by three inches of room left for me. I can usually get them all to jump off, except for Mark, by yelling 'chewy strip'.  I then have about ten seconds between the time I throw them chewy strips and the time they retrieve them, to get comfortable in bed. Last night Chandler beat me back, and Sasha simply crawled on top of my head later. I know I should show the dogs who's boss, and last night I did. I pushed Chandler over towards Mark, and told him to move it. For this I got a snarl, and bared teeth. I immediately gave him a slap on the snout, and bawled him out, "We don't ever snap at daddy. Bad dog!". He showed some fear, and hurt feelings, but he did move. I almost at once felt guilty. I had slapped my best friend (He's my best friend because he doesn't shop and clutter the house.) in the face. So of course later, when he nudged me over with his big paws, I gave him the space, and I ended up trying to sleep on that three inches of mattress anyway. Just for the record, I am looking into a king size bed.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Alan's Balls

I approached the lane in the same manner that I have for almost thirty years. The same steps, the same mark out on the alley, yet this time something happened. The synapses in my brain failed to notify the muscles in my arm as to where I wanted the ball to go. Like some kind of demented zombie, my arm flailed out in the wrong direction, and the ball went flying off into the gutter. Red faced, I turned around expecting my team mates to be snickering, or at least be looking at me with disapproval. After all, we needed for me to get some pins to win this game. I got none. Luckily I bowl with a bunch of lushes who were busily chatting away over their cocktails, too engrossed to notice my blunder.

Lately I've become aware that my bowling is sucking more than usual. My average has dropped to an embarrassing low number, and my ability to make the ball go where I want it to is gone. Naturally I blame it all on my bowling ball. It is old, and nicked up. There is a gouge just below the thumb hole that I am sure is causing it to miss the head pin every time. There could be no other reason for my poor showing the last few months. So last Thursday I went to the sports shop and bought a new ball. It's a beauty, all shiny, and clean. The holes are freshly drilled and free of the years of slime that had built up in my old ball. Also, it is two pounds lighter than the old one. That's because I am also old and nicked up, and I needed something I could actually lift. My arm, that used to have a bicep, is now nothing more than a wet noodle covered with dried up, wrinkled skin. My knees are shot, my feet are bad, and my eyesight is comparable to Mr. Magoo's. It's a wonder that I can even lift this new, lighter ball. Never the less, I will be at the bowling alley tonight with my new acquisition, because I still enjoy bowling, and they have cheap vodka drinks.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Heat Wave

It's eight in the morning, and you step outside. The heat smacks you in the face, causing you to catch your breath. Gnats buzz your ears, while the smell of things rotting in the hot sun fill your nose. Hey, it's summer, and I'm not talking about the hell hole I live in, Florida. I'm talking about much of the rest of the country. You're having a heat wave. Welcome to my world.

One of my favorite things to whine about is the never ending, oppressive heat here in South Florida. Now, because of climate change, I'm getting no traction on that complaint. "Whine, whine, whine, I'm hot, whine.", and all I get back is, "So what? We're hot too." The worst part about it is that I'm planning to go north in a few weeks to get some relief from the Florida hot box. Hopefully your heat wave will have run it's course, and the temperatures will be back down into the cool eighties. That is the one difference between Florida heat, and Chicago heat. Florida heat is super humid, and will still be here in October when Chicago will be enjoying the cool breeze of autumn. And then there's that thing called winter. I usually stop whining in the winter. Or to be more specific, I stop whining about the weather.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What The F*ck Would You Do?

I am not one of those people who sticks his nose into others business. If you are having a screaming, cursing fight with your girlfriend I will walk the other way. Unless somebody is in danger of death, I mind my own damned business, and even then if I don't know all the facts I might step aside.
"Sorry maam, I didn't know he came at you with a hatchet. Go right ahead and shoot him."

I have a large, extremely strong dog. For the most part he behaves, and obeys me. The only trouble I ever have with him is when a bicycle or motorcycle goes by. If I see them coming I can take Chandler aside and keep him calm, but sometimes, like last Friday, they sneak up on me.

We were taking our afternoon walk when one of the morons that live next door to me came buzzing by on a mini-motorcycle. You know, the kind that kids are always getting killed on because the cars can't see them. Anyway, Chandler went nuts, and took off after it. Thanks to the new bouncy leash my mom gave Chandler, he didn't tear my arm off. Instead he reached the end, and I jerked him back, yelling "NO!". That didn't seem to faze him. He ran again after the motorcycle, again hitting the end of the leash. I jerked him back again. On his third try I jerked him back and gave him a slap on the ass just to get his attention. When everything finally got calmed down, I heard somebody yelling. It was some punky young guy hanging out the passenger window of a pickup truck a half block away. As I walked towards the truck I could hear him.
"I'm calling the police!"
I was confused, why would he call the police.
"You have a problem?", I asked him. He then informed me that he saw me abusing 'that dog', and he was reporting me.
I suddenly turned into my father.
"Why the fuck don't you mind your own fucking business. You have no fucking idea what the fuck was going on." I then added the little addendum, "Asshole!". At that point the kid got out and did the little tough guy shuffle, and we exchanged a few more pithy comments.

I blame John Quiñones, and his television show, 'What Would You Do?' for this behavior. If you've never seen that show, John Quiñones sets up some bizarre scenario where someone is doing something outrageous that never in a million years would the average person run into. He does this with a hidden camera, and then sits back to see how people would react to it. Many people ignore the situation, or maybe notice it, talk to each other about it, and then ignore it. In other words, they mind their own damn business. Sometimes  though, somebody will get involved. This behavior is considered to be good, and all the folks who ignored the situation are shamed. That of course is stupid. Remember, if that guy doesn't mind bullying his girlfriend he certainly isn't going to care if your nose gets bloodied by his fist.

By the way, Chandler didn't like the punky guy, and convinced him to get back into the truck.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Inspector Gadget

Everybody has a junk drawer in the kitchen. We have two. Besides the junk drawers, Mark also has a large gadget drawer full of, well, gadgets. Weird, and familiar things solely for preparing, cooking, and serving food.

Last week I cleaned out his pots and pans drawer, arranging everything in there so that he can get to it without digging in it as if he were mining diamonds. When I was done it looked great. That of course will last for maybe two weeks. This past weekend I did the same for the gadget drawer. I pulled everything out of there, and piled it all on the counters. I then went through the pile, tossing out things that were obviously junk, and duplicates. For instance he had twenty cork screws in that drawer. If we were ever taken over by the French, Mark would be ready. He had five can openers, numerous orphan knives, and a lot of gadgets missing the parts that made them worth keeping. In that drawer were also some things that I have never seen before. I had to enlist Mark's help in determining what to keep, and what to toss out. Below are five things that Mark told me to keep. I challenge all of you to identify them. Yes, that's right, it's a contest. Identify the five items pictured correctly, and you will win the sixth item. A strange silver spoon that I was going to throw into the garbage. That is until I thought of this. It does say Sterling Silver on it, and it is old. It is, however kind of beat up. So if you would like to have a genuine piece of crap that Mark had squirreled away in that drawer, name the gadgets. Oh, and no anonymous entries. That wouldn't make sense now would it?
The Prize

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Video Thursday

It's really hard to get Mark in one of my videos

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tuesday's With Mark

Something happened to Mark yesterday. For some years now Mark has been chauffeuring me around because of my bad eyesight. It's been a harrowing few years. He almost killed us on the interstate in Atlanta, slowing down to thirty five mph because he said he couldn't drive at the seventy mph speed limit while I screamed in horror. In Chicago he got lost, and ended up in the middle of the most notorious housing project in the city. He goes slow when he should speed up, and speeds up when... well he never speeds up.

Yesterday I had things to do. I needed a haircut, a new pair of shoes, and I needed to visit Home Depot. For all this I also needed my chauffeur, Mark. The drive to the barber was fine, no drama there. It was on the way to the shoe store in Miami that something happened. Mark learned how to drive. Honestly, it was the first time I have ever ridden with Mark and not had to scream in terror, or close my eyes. He merged onto the interstate, got over into the fast lane, and sailed on down to Miami at seventy miles per hour. The only difference between this trip and previous trips is the fact that some asshole had cut him off just before entering the expressway. The whole way Mark cursed and screamed at the errant driver. True only I, and a few dogs with acute hearing could actually hear him, but it seemed to distract him from his fear of driving. We got to the shopping center in no time, and for once I didn't feel compelled to give him handy driving hints.

Later this summer we are driving to Chicago again. I've been a bit leery about that, but we did it last year and survived. I think if I can get Mark pissed off at another driver just before we leave, it'll actually turn out just fine. I just need that other driver to be going all the way to Chicago.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Clench That Sphincter

When I was a kid, I loved the Forth of July. Firecrackers were still legal back then, and for some reason my mom and dad didn't seem to be worried that five year old Alan and his older brother and sister were blowing off lady fingers in the driveway. I guess it was a matter of degrees. Down the street the kids had cherry bombs, and the small stuff we had seemed tame.

At the age of sixty one, I couldn't give a rat's ass for fireworks. Not the big stuff that the city blows off, nor the crap that my moronic neighbors are shooting into the sky, and allowing to land on my roof. Probably I've come to dislike fireworks because of my dogs. Molly was a basket case, who would shiver in fear for hours while hiding under the table. Sasha is afraid of them, but not as bad. She just clings to me like Velcro. Little Sasha hasn't gone out for a pee, or poo since one o'clock this afternoon, and now at eleven in the evening I'm afraid she may burst. Chandler is the brave one. Every time a loud firecracker explodes the fur on his back raises, and he lets out a deep, loud bark. It's like he's saying, "Who the hell is that out there?". I just came back from walking him, and he seemed unperturbed by all the racket outside. That was until the rabble down the street lit some very noisy, and sparkly rockets. With a yank on the leash, Chandler started pulling to go back. I gave him his way, and we went directly home. Now I have two dogs in the house with full bladders, and sphincters clenched tight. I only hope they can hold it until the rockets red glare, and the bombs bursting in air stop.