Tuesday, January 31, 2012


It was a beautiful morning yesterday, with a slight breeze, and sixty five degree temperature. I had got up early and was tip-toeing around the house, getting the cat food ready, and the dogs all harnessed up for their walks. A little earlier I opened all the windows to get some fresh air passing through, cleansing the house of the odors created by a couple of men living together, and the smell of dog. It was still only six thirty in the morning and the first faint light of day was filling the sky, when suddenly we were hit by an asshole storm.

Just across the fence behind my house is an office building. Because of the heat of Florida summers, the assholes who cut the grass over there start as early as possible. That means at six thirty in the morning they fired up their lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and edge trimmers. I have called the city about this before, and found out that the earliest they can do that stuff is eight in the morning. I can understand that they don't want to work in the hot sun of the afternoon, but it isn't summer! Our weather is beautiful, and the assholes could have waited until eight. True I was not sleeping, but Mark was, and this is really my only time of day where I can get some peace and quiet. It's kind of like when I was a kid and my mom would tell us not to wake the baby. She needed that down time. Same thing with Mark. I really need that down time without the nagging, and the whining, and listening to him scream at Fox News.

Monday, January 30, 2012


This happened just four houses down from my house.

Saturday morning the guy who lives down the street with the nice dog named 'Jake', burned his apartment down because he was being evicted. It really makes me think twice about all the times I've evicted people. Turns out he was a lawyer, and according to some of the neighbors he couldn't get licensed in Florida. I guess that coupled with the eviction made him one truly pissed off renter. What's so strange about this story is that it happened within spitting distance of my house at nine o'clock in the morning, and I didn't know about it until four in the afternoon. I didn't hear the fire engines, and I didn't smell any smoke. It wasn't until I took Chandler out for his afternoon walk that I saw the television news trucks, and fire investigators. It was kind of surreal, the burned out house surrounded by yellow crime scene tape, with neighbors all hanging around in front of it drinking wine, and gossiping about the lawyer. I tell you I was mighty pissed off that nobody came over to tell me about the wine party they were having just a few doors down from my house.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Video Thursday

 This ad was a staple of late night television when I lived in Chicago.
It seemed especially funny to me at three in the morning.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Robo Nuts

It's primary election time here in Florida again. Poorly produced attack ads on television, and visiting politicians screwing up traffic are again the scourge of the state. The worst thing about election time though, are the phone calls. In past years I have endured relentless calls from pollsters, calls from political boiler rooms, and worst of all the dreaded robo call. Robo calls are the ones done by computers, with the recorded message that drones on about how horrible the other guy is. What I hate about them is that I can't scream obscenities at them. Well I can actually scream and curse all I want at them, they just can't hear me. This year however, things are different. This year there is no democratic primary, because President Obama has no challengers. The only crap being thrown around is being done by the republicans, and I am not registered as a republican. Hence, I am not being bugged every day by dozens of stupid phone calls by the political machines. Silence is what we have here. During dinner, during our evening television viewing, all day long, silence. Good thing I'm not a republican with a listed number, living in central Florida. My phone would be floating in the swimming pool by now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tiny Froggers

Last week we decided to have the frogs removed from the wall, and get the bedroom shower rebuilt. It was about four months ago that the plumber, while working on my tenants shower, told me that we had frogs in the wall, and that the shower in our bedroom bath was about to collapse into a sink hole. It was the two thousand dollar price tag that made me wait a so long to have it done. What finally spurred me on to call him back was the frog that hopped out from under the washing machine in the middle of the night, and started croaking in our bedroom. Neither dog seemed to hear it, but Mark and I both sat up in the bed, and I'll have to admit that for a few moments it scared me. I grabbed the flashlight I keep close at hand, and watched as the tiny little frog with the big voice hopped back into his hiding place under the washer.

So the plumber started on the job last Wednesday. He tore the place apart, and jack-hammered out the shower, and the floor under the shower. The next day he showed up and replaced the drain pipe, and P trap that goes under the shower. On Friday he came back and poured a new floor, and then asked for a check. Half the agreed upon price. It is now Three in the afternoon on Monday, and I haven't seen or heard from my plumber. On Thursday my friend Dennis is expected to arrive, and I would really like to have two working showers in the house. On top of that I have had to share my shower with Mark for the last five days. There is a very good reason I don't use the same shower as Mark. First there is the fact that it always looks like a tsunami has hit when he is done, and then there is the general messiness of Mark. Some people might call him a slob, but to keep things quiet around here, I just refer to it as disorganized. That is if you can call shampoo dripping down the side of a shelf, three half used rolls of toilet tissue sitting on the toilet tank, and a tube of toothpaste with the inside goo squeezed out all over the sink disorganized.
So tick, tick, tick, here I sit waiting for the plumber, who by the way, is not answering his telephone.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Maybe it's the Water

Seven in the morning last Thursday, and Chandler and I are out for his early walk in the cool air of dawn. In the gray morning light I noticed my neighbor standing at the edge of the road in her robe and slippers.
"Alan, come here." she whispered while motioning me across.
As I approached her I noticed that her eyes were opened wide and a bit bloodshot.
"Hi Kathy..."
"Shhh, look down the street. Do you see those bright lights?"
I did see the bright lights. They were the street lights from the street just across the canal.
"Those are alien ships. They've been out here all night, since three thirty this morning."
I looked at Kathy again, trying to determine if she was kidding me.
"They've been chasing cats and dogs up and down the street all night, eating them."
I stood there with a grin on my face, waiting for her to break out laughing at the hilarious joke she was pulling on me.
"I'm terrified that they'll come back."
She wasn't kidding.
"Really? Are you sure you didn't watch some kind of crazy movie last night?"
"No Alan, this is for real. Don't walk down there, they'll eat Chandler."
As she stood there clutching the front of her robe, I assured her that Chandler and I would be just fine.
"I wouldn't worry. The sun is coming up, and everything will be okay."
I wasn't quite sure what I should do. Obviously Kathy was not right, but what do I do? Should I go up to her house and get her husband? Maybe he's also out of his mind. Maybe they were both up all night doing drugs, and he's even crazier than she is. Maybe he's laying in there on the floor, eviscerated with a kitchen knife because Kathy thought he was an alien invader. I did not know what to do, so I did what any good neighbor would do, I said goodbye and went about my own business.

Three thirty in the morning, Friday. It's a beautiful night, temperature in the mid sixties, all the windows open, and a nice breeze moving through the house. Something has awakened me. It's a man's voice, and he's shouting something. After a few moments the voice fades off in the distance, and I try to go back to sleep. Again, about fifteen minutes later, I hear the voice, so I get up. Out on the street, a man with long hair pulled back in a ponytail, in his bathrobe, with flip flops on his feet, is shouting the Lord's Prayer at the top of his lungs. I wasn't sure if it was the Catholic version, or the protestant version, but I knew what to do this time. I called the police, and went back to bed. Damn aliens.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Day

Remember the day it snowed in South Florida?
Picture taken on Fort Lauderdale Beach when the Fort Lauderdale News reported snow in South Florida on Jan. 19, 1977. (Sun Sentinel file photo)

What we remember about the day it snowed in South Florida

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Alan and Mark's Death Camp for Plants

I have never been known for my green thumb. My yard is lush and green because I live in Florida where if you stick something in the ground, and if it's predisposed to growing here, it'll just take off like a weed. One of my biggest gripes is with stores around here that will sell you plants that have no business being planted in Florida. Go to Home Depot and you'll find seeds for all kinds of things that will only grow north of the Mason-Dixon. Mark and I tried some tulips one year, and the sickliest, most deformed little flowers stuck their heads up out of the ground. It was pathetic.

Two years ago Mark and I went to one of our favorite nurseries, and found something called golden mound on sale. They were beautiful little shrubs of a golden tinged, green color. We purchased a dozen of them, and planted them in a corner of the yard where I had problems keeping things alive. Turns out golden mound couldn't make it either. At first they thrived, and grew nicely, although in the heat of the afternoon I did observe some wilting. Now two years later all I have are the skeletons of what were golden mound. Basically they are nothing but sticks poking out of the ground now. I guess I'll have to go back to the nursery again and try something else. I don't really like cactus, but at this point that might be all that will grow there. Or there is another option. One of my neighbors has some blue agave growing in his front yard. It's beautiful, can take the heat and drought, and you can make tequila out of it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hot Town, Winter in the City

Marilyn Monroe Sculpture on Michigan Avenue, Chicago
While walking Chandler around the block yesterday afternoon I couldn't help but notice that it might have been our best weather of the year. Seventy two degrees, about half the sky filled with clouds, and a fresh breeze coming in off the ocean, it really was a great day. The brisk temperatures, and breeze seemed to give Chandler some extra energy as he ran from bush to bush, giving each one a quick sniff for pee-worthyness, and then moving on. I, on the other hand, let my mind drift off to what January was like when I lived in Chicago. Bitter, nasty cold, with tons of snow. I hated it. As I walked along, I formulated my blog for Tuesday. I'd do another one of my gloating stories about how nice it was here, and how horrible it was back in Chicago. It had even snowed over the weekend up there, and I could use that to show everyone how much superior our winters are down here. The problem is that by the time I sat down to write this, the snow had melted. It was like forty five degrees in Chicago. Not bad by their standards. In fact I would have to admit, if all Chicago winters were like the one they are having this year, I would have never left the place.

I see that the temperatures up in Chicago are going to drop again this week, and it's going to snow again. But don't worry, I won't gloat. Especially because I can also see that by the weekend it'll be hot again in Chicago, and by hot I mean in the mid forties.

Monday, January 16, 2012

In The Bag

Yes, I know that I wrote two stories last week about poop. I'm sorry, but what I write about is what my life is, and sometimes it's about poop. Today's post will be slightly different, today is about bags. Bags that I use to pick up dog shit to be specific.

"Mark, if you're going to the mall remember that I need more dog poop bags."
That is a direct quote, and the only thing I asked Mark to do for me on that day a week ago. Thirty minutes later the phone rings. It's Mark, and he's calling from the Home Goods store.
"Alan, do you know how much these crap bags cost?"
"I don't care, they're convenient and I need them."
The reason I wanted those specific bags is that they fit in a little roller dispenser that I have attached to each dog's leash. If one of the little darlings decides to do a double poop during their walk around the block, I have the necessary tools to handle it.
"I can buy some cheaper bags. They come in a little box, only they aren't on a roll."
"No, I need the ones on the roll. Just get the ones on the roll and I'll give you the money when you come home."
"Well that's stupid, and I won't do that." Mark spat back, and then he hung up.
Considering that I am the only one that walks the dogs, I think I should be the decider when it come to how I clean up the dog shit. If Mark did the job I'd be all for letting him cut corners and use the cheapest bags he could find. However if Mark walked the dogs, I am sure he wouldn't even admit they had shit on the neighbors lawn, much less pick it up.
About an hour later Mark walks in the door, arms loaded down with purchases.
"Did you get the roller poop bags?"
"No! I am not paying ten dollars for seventy bags when I could buy a hundred for five dollars, so I didn't get any goddamned bags."

So now I am stuck without dog crap bags, and have had to improvise. I've found that the bags that the newspaper comes in are no good for picking up dog shit. For some reason when you try to turn the bag inside out, the handful of dog crap you are trying to encase smears the outside of the bag and before you know it you have shit everywhere. Right now I am using those plastic supermarket bags. I'm almost out of them because the dogs shit much more often than Mark goes grocery shopping. Besides that, they are not of good quality, and tend to have holes in them which makes the job kind of tricky.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dinner Conversation

Yesterday morning I'm sitting at the breakfast table with Mark, and we are talking about crap. One of the cable news programs is on, and I am answering Mark's comment about something or other that he just heard.
"Well Mark, I think....blah, blah, blah....."
I go on like this for a little bit, and then I look up from my plate of waffles and bacon. Mark is gone, vanished. Sonofabitch, he did it to me again. The only question is how long was I talking before he disappeared? You see the fact is, with my poor vision, if I am looking down at my plate I cannot see anything else which gives Mark a chance to sneak away.

Everybody who has a wife, husband, boyfriend, gay paramour, knows that there are little pet peeves that just drive you crazy. There are at least a dozen gripes I have about Mark, but this is about his getting up from the breakfast, lunch, dinner table, without so much as a belch. When we first got together I would think he was getting up to fetch something from the kitchen, and I would sit there at the table quietly waiting. After five, ten, or more minutes I would go looking for him only to find him watching television in the bedroom, or playing solitaire on the computer.
"Are you coming back to the table?"
"No, I'm done."
What makes it hard to determine if he is done or not, is the fact that Mark eats like a sparrow. He eats about three mouthfuls of food, rearranges the food on his plate to make it look like he sampled it all, and he's done.

I grew up in a house where you asked permission to leave the table. Now I don’t expect Mark to ask permission, but it would be nice if he said something like, “Alan, your conversation is quite scintillating, but it is interfering with my watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey, so I will be leaving the table now.”
Instead he just leaves me there, all alone with the waffles I made from scratch, talking to myself about crap.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gas Happens

Yesterday afternoon I was puttering around in my office, when from the other room I could hear Mark's high pitched squeals, "Oh my god you horrible animal. Get out, get out of here. Ack, ack, blechh, barf..... " I knew what had happened, Chandler farted again. We seem to have an extremely flatulent dog on our hands. He farts in the morning, he farts in the afternoon, and he farts at night. They are so bad, most certainly not for the faint of heart. I know what he eats, Purina, yet what comes out of his gas hole smells like a dead rat that ate a dog turd just before it died. It is disgusting. Fortunately I have a strong stomach, unlike Mark who vomits at just the mention of dog crap. So anyway, I dutifully took the offending mutt out for some air, and maybe a quick bowel movement just to keep Mark happy.

Later in the evening, while laying in bed with Mark and Chandler, the room again filled with the noxious odor of methane gas.
"Get him out of here! Oh my god that is so bad, just take that beast out of the room, now!" Mark again screamed in his wavering falsetto. I didn't feel like getting up and putting the dog out. Instead I just lay there and let Mark go on until the stench cleared. I also didn't feel like telling Mark the truth, and I let Chandler take a bullet for me. No need to remind Mark that I had black beans and rice for lunch. In the meantime, does anybody know if dogs can take Beano? I've considered re-purposing one of the many wine corks that we throw away, but I'm not sure that wouldn't backfire. Let me know.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Shit Happens

I am quite used to having my arm yanked out of the socket by ninety pounds of squirrel chasing hound. After three and a half years with Chandler, his penchant for taking off after things is not what surprises me. It's the suddenness of it all that scares the hell out of me. Those sneaky, silent bicycles are the worst. Often they are upon us before I can grab Chandler and keep him calm. I'm sure my neighbors find it humorous to see me spinning around like a top as my dog speeds off in the opposite direction, until he hits the end of the leash. What is most interesting is that Chandler doesn't only chase that which is at his own eye level, he looks up. Low flying airplanes, vultures gliding on thermals just above the road, and squirrels skittering along utility wires get his attention, causing him to jump up in the air and bark madly.

Friday nights, I usually go out for a few cocktails and then return home before Mark so that I can walk the dogs. This past Friday as I stumbled around the block with Chandler in tow, we came to a point in the street where a utility wire crosses the road. Chandler came to an abrupt halt under that wire, and looked straight up. There were no airplanes flying low overhead, which is what he usually sees at night, so I aimed my flashlight up. There on the wire was a sleeping pigeon. A stupid, sleeping pigeon that became startled when Chandler began barking at it. In fact you might say Chandler scared the shit out of it. It was like slow motion, the stream of bird shit shooting from the birds ass, slowly growing in size as it approached me. I'd like to say I jumped out of the way, and that my lightning reflexes saved me from a pigeon shit shower. But no, I have the reflexes of a snail.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Photo Friday

What do you do with a five hundred dollar blender?

Margaritas of course
(Yes, that is the actual Vitamix Blender)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Video Thursday

 Oh my god, is this Mark in a blond wig making fun of me?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"But when I looked in her eyes I almost fell for my Lola"

L-O-L-A, Lola
I volunteer at Abandoned Pet Rescue twice a week, and once a month I help out at a pet meet and greet. Most folks who know me, know that, and most folks who know that call me when they find a stray animal.

Yesterday the phone rang. It was my friends Tommy and Carlos. In the background I could hear traffic, Tommy was calling from Andrews Avenue, and Sistrunk Boulevard, a not very nice neighborhood.
"Alan, a dog just jumped out of the SUV in front of us. What do we do?"
It turns out that while Tommy and Carlos were on their way to eat lunch downtown, this medium sized black dog suddenly lurched out the window of the moving car ahead of them. They jumped out of their car and hustled her over to safety on the side of the street. She had a few scrapes, and seemed quite scared. Meanwhile the SUV continued on without even a tap on the brakes. Was she pushed out? Hard to say, but she is quite traumatized. I told Tom to take her over to Abandoned Pet Rescue and see if they could scan her for a chip. Yes, she had a chip. No, it was not registered with anybody. She had no tags, and unfortunately APR has no room for her. They picked up three new large dogs over the holidays, and they are full. So Tommy and Carlos now have her over at their house with their three miniature Schnauzers. They put her on the county animal control, lost and found list, but if nobody claims her it is up to them to figure out what to do. They have already named her Lola, so that might give you a hint as to their leanings. Mark and I went over today to see her. She is very sweet, and docile. Simply a nice girl. Like I said, Tommy and Carlos already have three dogs in a town house without any yard, so if someone would like to adopt a sweet young dog, I'm sure they'd consider it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I have an old photo of my grandfather on the roof of our house, helping my dad construct a dormer so that our ever expanding clan would not have to sleep five to a bedroom. Grandpa was seventy five at the time. He was a strong, healthy man, who had just that year retired from working in the Chicago stockyards.

I am sixty two, and falling apart. I have bad feet, bad knees, bad eyesight, and just for snicks, I twisted my ankle on the day after Christmas. My little project, the redecorating of my office, took a month for me to pull off. My grandfather could have done what it took the entire month of December for me to do, in probably three days, and I had help. It really wasn't that big of a project, but it seemed to overwhelm me. Eventually I figured it all out, and I think the room turned out pretty good for a screw up such as myself. I have new windows, freshly painted walls, and a nice new light fixture with only one shorted out lamp (Thanks again China). One thing I did learn while doing this job is that I waddle. When I walk through a room, my ass swings back and forth like a fat old man's ass would. On more than one occasion while working on the office, I sent cans of paint and various tools flying as my hips banged through like the proverbial bull. I would walk between ladders, tables, and other obstructions thinking there was more than enough room for my lithe, little ass to slink through, only to have that illusion quickly shattered. I've looked at my movements on video, and have found that I most definitely waddle, and that I am not all that agile. I wish that I had more of my grandfathers abilities, but unfortunately all my mishaps, and physical inabilities lead me to believe that I'm much more like my somewhat clumsy father. That and the constant cursing.