Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy BirthThanksHanukkahgiving Day

Thanksgiving is also my second sister's (out of seven) birthday. It's also Hanukkah, but I'm not Jewish so I don't know what that means. Those Menorah candles would look great on second sister's birthday cake though. Here's a couple of photos of Thanksgiving 1963. Same table, same time, taken from two directions to get everybody in. Thanksgiving 1963, our family had just moved into our new house that month, President Kennedy had been assassinated just a few days before, and puberty was hitting me like a Mike Tyson punch.

Grandpa, Sister #4, Mom, Sister #2, Sister #3, Grandma.

Dad, Brother #1, Brother #3, Me (looking sharp in my t-shirt), Brother #2, Mom's sister/my Aunt.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Schnauzer Model SPL-TXC122A Paper Shredder

Mark has been collecting Broadway window posters lately. He's got quite a few and plans on selling the ones he doesn't want on Ebay. I was impressed with the value of some of them. For instance, he has a poster for the show Sunset Boulevard that he paid under twenty dollars for. Its estimated worth is two hundred dollars. This got me to thinking. I had a poster in my antique trunk that I acquired in San Francisco back in 1978. It was from the radio station KSAN, and it was a give away at the time. I Googled it, and it turns out that yes, it is worth something. So I pulled it out of the trunk and set it down in my office, carefully laying pillows over it to protect it. My plan was to open an Ebay account and sell it (along with a bunch of Mark's crap without him knowing it). Yesterday I was sitting at my computer, not paying much attention to my surroundings, when I realized something was going on behind me. Paper rustling, and ripping, along with the muted snarls of a dog. I spun around in my chair just in time to see Bette tear a large chunk from my KSAN poster. Along side the large pieces were many small bits, and on the poster itself, puppy teeth marks everywhere. What is left of my poster is not worth lining the bottom of a kitty litter box. Oh, and that piece of red paper next to it is what is left of a Netflix envelope and DVD. I'm still not sure how I'm going to return that.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bondage & Discipline

How to Harness a Dog
By Alan.
Alan takes no responsibility for lost dogs, strangled dogs, dog bites, temper tantrums, or the accuracy of any of this information.

  1. Choose an appropriate harness from the hundreds of styles offered. The harness manufacturers have purposely made them difficult and hope that you pick the wrong one and have to buy at least five more before you find the one that works for your dog.
  2. Approach your dog with the harness spread open with the leg loops for the dog's front legs ready. Figuring out which of the many loops are for the dog's legs is part of the fun. It usually takes two or three tries before you do figure this out.
  3. Set the leg loops on the ground and set your dog's front legs in the leg loops, pulling the harness up the dog's legs quickly. Now do it again because the dog has gone into it's excited going for walkies dance and pulled away from you. On the third try you should be able to accomplish this feat. If after three tries you still can't get the harness up the front legs of your dog, return to the pet store and buy another model.
  4. Connect the rest of the harness around the dog's belly. Usually a plastic clip enables you to easily do this if you have not put the harness on backwards. Two out of three times you will have put the harness on backwards. Don't get discouraged... yet.
  5. Cinch the harness up so that it is not too loose. This is done with little buckle like things with loops of harness running through them. You either pull the loop all the way through to make the harness tighter, or you push it through the other way. I have no idea which way to do it. If you go at it for an hour or so, you should eventually come close to getting it right.
  6. You are now ready to walk your dog in a civilized manner, without choking the poor thing. Hopefully you got everything right. However, you might want to consider also using the old fashioned collar and a second leash, just to be sure.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunday With Shy-Ann

Me and Shy-Ann
Sunday morning I got up early, walked my dogs, then I took a shower and headed over to Abandoned Pet Rescue. It was the Cause 4 Paws pet walk and parade in Victoria Park, and I was taking one of the APR dogs over there for a morning of fun. Cause 4 Paws is an event put on by the Victoria Park neighborhood association to benefit Abandoned Pet Rescue, so it is the one thing everybody who volunteers turns out for.  Again this year it was a beautiful sunny and warm day. Perhaps it was a bit too warm, because by the end of the pet walk through the neighborhood, and the pet parade through the park, I was shvitzn. I was tired, sweat was soaking my under titties and under arms, and I wanted to go home. So I called Mark and told him to come get me and Shy-Ann, the dog I had brought with me. Luckily, I dropped off the dog and got home just in time to watch the Chicago Bears football game, which was my plan all along. I know I shouldn't whine about how darn hot it is here on a late November Sunday, especially when all my northern friends are whining about how darn cold it is where they are. But it makes me happy, so I do.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Street Smarts

He came steadily down the middle of the busy street even though there is a sidewalk. He was leaning slightly forward and walking as if he were falling, catching himself with each step. His hair was a mix of gray and dirty brown, he had bags under his eyes, and on the back of his short, shorts he wore a fanny pack. This happened yesterday while I was volunteering at Abandoned Pet Rescue. I took the dog I was walking and crossed quickly over to the railroad tracks, giving the stumble bum more than enough room and making sure that no eye contact was made. I didn't make it to sixty three years old without learning a few things, and one of those things I learned was to carefully avoid crazy people.

When I first moved into the big city, I continued to live as if I were living on that quiet suburban street thirty five miles out. I remember one of the first nights living in Chicago and I couldn't sleep. Somebody's car alarm was wailing up the block. So at two in the morning I put on my pants and shoes, and went out to find the offender. I found the car, but I soon realized that there was nothing I could do about it, so I went back to the apartment and called the police. The lady at the other end of the phone took my information and in a monotone voice and very few words suggested that I was an idiot. I learned to live with the city noise. To this day I keep a box fan running in my bedroom all night. It does a good job of drowning most noises out including screams. Over the years I have learned not to give money to the beggars on Michigan Avenue. As I advised Mark, "They are like cats. Once they see that you're an easy mark they'll keep bugging you." It only took him a few times walking up and down Michigan Avenue to realize that he was spending more on the beggars than he was on his precious shopping. I've also learned to avoid walking past a large group of young men when there is nobody else on the street. I've learned that when a pretty lady dressed like a hooker starts a conversation, she is a hooker. There are a lot of lessons I have learned in the forty three years since I moved out of the town I grew up in. The best lesson of all though, is that I don't need a gun. I don't need a conceal and carry permit so that I can stuff a gun down my pants. That is because on the two occasions that I have had a gun pulled on me, there is no way I could have out Quick Draw McGrawed the person with the gun. The first occasion of having a gun stuck against my head I was driving a taxi, and on the second occasion I was clerking overnight at a Seven Eleven store. So that is another lesson I learned in the big city. Don't take a shitty job.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bad Bitch

I think, or I thought that I was doing a pretty good job with Bette. She's been getting better at walking on the leash. Her toilet habits have improved. She almost always hits the puppy pads, all four that I put down every day. Lately however, she has been challenging other dogs when we go out for our walks. This gets Chandler all riled up and I usually end up having to drag them both away from the offending pups. It doesn't matter how large the dog, Bette wants a piece of them. Then last night she snapped at Mark. This isn't the first time this has happened. I told Mark that he can't surprise a sleeping dog. Gently wake her up, stroke her a couple of times, and then move her or pick her up. I actually think Bette is trying out for alpha dog here in our house. She has even been bossing Chandler around lately.

Yesterday Bette went to the beauty parlor. She got a nice new hairdo, a bath, and she came out smelling like a rose. What surprised me was when the groomer, Bianca, came out and scolded me.
    "You know she bites don't you?"
    "Well yes, she's been snapping at Mark and nipping at me lately. I just thought that was a puppy thing."
    "See these scratches up and down both my arms?" The nice lady asked me. "That's from her. So miss Bette and I had a conversation."
True, I had noticed how obedient Bette was acting around her. Especially when she quietly backed a few inches away from Bianca and sat facing her.
    "How'd you do that?" I asked.
It turns out that not only is Bianca a groomer, she trains dogs. I just figured Bette was so small, why bother going through all the training I put Chandler through? The fact is small dogs need more training. They are just little bitches that will take advantage of you if you don't train them early. So right then and there Bianca gave me a quick lesson on teaching Bette who is the actual alpha dog in the house, and how to get her to stop biting. It was amazing to see it work almost immediately. So now I have Chandler trained, Bette is well on her way to being trained, and one day I hope to have Mark trained.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

No Lives Left

I sat down three hours ago sincerely intent upon writing my new children's book called Don't Play With the Dog Poo. But first I thought I'd check my Facefook page. Big mistake. Besides having to reply with the wittiest of comments to every new post on there, I clicked on the Candy Crush Saga link. Unfortunately I have Candy Crush hypoglycemia and crave just a little bit every day. I don't know if it's the music or the sounds, I can't stop playing that game. When I run out of lives on the Candy Crush I switch to Pet Rescue Saga. When that runs out it's Bubble Witch Saga with a little Staries filler. By that time my lives on Candy Crush have been restored, and the madness starts all over again. I finally dragged myself away from the games and decided to write this little post to help kick the Saga game monkey off my back. I can now get back to writing that children's book. First order of business, change the title and the subject.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Cheap Seats

One thing I missed when I moved to Florida was Chicago Bears Football. For the first six years I lived here I would catch Bears games in bars with satellite or when they were on national television. Then in 1995 they came out with Directv, so I immediately signed on. For seventeen years I had every Bears game on my big screen television, and every year for seventeen years they kept goosing up the price. So at the end of last season I gave Directv an ultimatum, cheaper satellite service with free NFL or I quit. Sunday was my tenth game without Directv and the NFL Ticket. Each game this year I have had to scramble around the internet trying to find a way to watch the game. Up until this past Sunday I was content to watch replays a couple of days later. This Sunday however, I discovered a web site in another country, on another continent that streamed games live.
I was ecstatic. I was very happy that I would be able to finally watch a live Bears game on a Sunday afternoon as god intended it to be. At the appropriate time I clicked on the link and there it was, Soldier Field in all it's glory. I sat back and prepared to watch the game. Sure it was in a tiny box the size of a You Tube video, and when I hit the full screen button it was blurry and somewhat pixilated, but it was a live Bears game. That is until about ten minutes into the first quarter when tornadoes, rain, hail, and god's wrath for my previous post stopped the game for two hours. Over five hours in total I sat in front of the computer watching football, rain on an empty field, and then more football. My eyes hurt, and I had a headache from squinting at the tiny little picture. I do miss watching all the games on the fifty inch giant television but it's the principle of the thing. Pay Directv hundreds of dollars a month, or scrounge around the internet looking for the Bears game. I think I found another site for this coming Sunday.

Monday, November 18, 2013

God Damn it

If there is a god, I don't think he (I will call he/she/it, he for my own convenience here) is some well meaning soul who created us in a gesture of beneficence. Just ask the people in the Philippines who are eating their dogs and cats right now. I know that we all have to meet our end at some time, in some manner, but the lengths God takes to trim excess humanity seems somewhat extreme. It's his own real life version of the movie Final Destination. And how come God made everything that is pleasurable and fun, Bad for you. Back when I was young I loved smoking cigarettes, drinking too much, and sex. It turned out that all of those would kill you if you didn't stop or cut down. I hear that heroin is fun, but I would never try it because it's bad for you. Cocaine was fun, but it ruins your nose and actually wasn't ever worth the price. Too much sugar, bad. Too much mashed potatoes with butter and sour cream, bad. Too much delicious food by Mark, bad. Everything I like just always seems to be bad. What really pissed me off recently, is that I have discovered that my favorite ice cream is bad. It tastes good, so good that I can't stop eating it. I don't buy it, Mark does, and he bitches every time because I end up eating it all. And what is so bad about Blue Bell Ice Cream? Well, it makes me fat for one thing, but the absolute worst thing about it is that it makes me constipated. I love Blue Bell, every single flavor they make, but it does not love me. It plugs me up like concrete. I'll bet God rolls on the floor in laughter while watching me strain the morning after binging on Blue Bell. Sadistic bastard.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

My Sister Peggy Calls a Radio Show

 My Sister Peggy on the Jonathan Brandmeier Show, with Buzz Kilman.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winnie the Pooh is taken

Last night our first real cool front rolled in. I tried to open the windows and let the fresh air wash over me, but the humidity was still a bit too high, and it was carrying the ripe scent of all the dog poop that had accumulated outside my office window over the summer months. Which gave me an idea. I will write a children's book. People make gobs of money with those things, and the word and page count is minimal. My only problem is figuring out what kids like to read, or have read to them. Even when I was a kid I couldn't relate to kids, so this may be a bit more challenging than I thought at first. Oh yes, how did dog poop inspire me to write a children's book? I won't explain it other than to say one thing led to another, and that led to another, and suddenly I had an idea. So maybe by next Christmas you will be able to buy a book to read to your little ones that was written by me. I promise, it won't have too much dog poop in it and I will be running some of the more descriptive words I intend to use by responsible people before using them.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Plumber's Crack

I've always been proud of my home improvement projects, like the self ventilating door that I installed on my tenant's apartment. Instead of thanking me, my tenant Dennis suggested that the door didn't fit, that it had a huge gap at the bottom that lizards were using to get in and out of his kitchen. Anyway, as a landlord and property owner I have found that it is imperative that I save money on projects and try to do them myself. The only problem is, I am unqualified to do such work. A minor problem in my mind, but it does come back to bite me once in a while. Yesterday I had the handyman over to fix a couple of plumbing problems. The first was a toilet in our bedroom bath that was leaking around the base. The second problem was a leaking drain pipe under my tenant's sink. In the first situation the conversation went something like this.
    "Here's your problem." Mr. Handyman said with an air of expertise. "The flange is broken. Whoever put this toilet in failed to fix the flange. Every time somebody sits on this thing it rocks, allowing the flushed sewage to seep out."
I nodded my head in agreement.

   The second situation wasn't much different.
     "Where's the cardboard washer?" Mr. Handyman asked of no one in particular.
    "Excuse me, cardboard washer?" I replied.
    "Yes, there should be a cardboard washer between the rubber washer on the sink drain, and the part that tightens it up. It's not here. Whoever put this thing together didn't know what he was doing."
    "Oh, really? Yes, that plumber didn't seem very good. I've never had him do work for me again."
Obviously I wasn't going to tell him the truth. I put that toilet in, and I put that sink drain together. I remember the cardboard washer. I threw it away, I figured it was just for shipping. One thing is for sure, I won't be using that horrible plumber that did everything wrong again. Well maybe not, unless I'm feeling a little handy, and cheap.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Is That For Here, or To Go?

Last week somebody threw an entire chicken dinner, in one of those Styrofoam to go trays, out of their car window. It was right in the middle of Chandler's poopy walk route. For the first couple of days I had to be prepared to steer him around the mess for fear he would gobble up the mashed chicken bones. Now there is nothing left but a large grease spot that has been washed by the rain and ground into the pavement by hundreds of cars. Chandler still has to stop and spend a minute inspecting it every time we walk by, as if paying his respects to a missed opportunity. This week it's a different taste treat that has Chandler drooling as we walk down the street. Iguanas, large iguanas smashed by passing cars and left to rot out in the autumn sun. I don't know why so many of them have been squashed on the streets around here lately. Maybe it's iguana mating season and they are on the hunt for some iguana sex. No matter, it's just disgusting. The worst part about it is that Chandler has in the past, grabbed a dead iguana and swallowed it whole. So I have to be quick on the leash and keep my eyes on the road because nothing piques Chandler's appetite like fresh road kill. Or week old road kill, he's not picky.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Veteran's Day 2013

My Dad in the South Pacific; WWII

Dad was a radio man on a B29 bomber. Here is a photo he took as they flew over Japan.
Photo of me during the Vietnam War.

By the way, although I would have avoided going to Vietnam at any cost, it was the US Army that rejected me. They didn't want me because I was gay. So glad to be gay at that moment. If you think I was wrong to be against the Vietnam War click here and read the history of that war. It was not my father's war.

Friday, November 8, 2013

They Are So Cute

If you don't know, I volunteer twice a week at a no kill pet shelter. I show up on Monday and Thursday mornings to walk some of the large dogs, usually from five to eight of them. It takes about an hour and a half, and each one of them is walked two blocks down, two blocks back. I try to give each a little bit of personal attention. Other than that, they spend most of their time in the kennel. Don't get me wrong, I am not a wonderful person who gives his time unselfishly. I'm not that nice. I don't volunteer to clean out the filthy kitty litter pans. I don't pick up dog shit out in the dog yard. I don't clean out the dog's kennels. That is icky shit that I leave for the paid staff. Anyway, that isn't the purpose of this post, to make you think I'm a do gooder. It also isn't the purpose of this post to make you come over to Abandoned Pet Rescue and adopt a dog or cat. They are all so cute and cuddly, I'm sure you would love them, but what I want to do is weed out the people who are expecting too much. To discourage the people who adopt a dog or cat on a whim only to find out later what it really means to own a pet.

Cats poop. They poop in a box in your house, and that box needs to be cleaned out regularly, and by regularly I don't mean once a week. They shed, they can make you allergic, and they scratch. They scratch your furniture, they scratch your rug, and they may scratch you. A cat can be very loving and sweet, but in the blink of an eye something can startle it while it is curled up in your lap. That could result in IBS, or Irritable Balls Syndrome. As for dogs, they also poop. Only they don't poop in a box in your house, they will just poop in your house until you teach them otherwise. I once heard that you should always be who your dog thinks you are, and that is the person who picked them out when they were a puppy. Not the person who loses it when they come home to a house full of pee puddles, and poop piles. Just suck it up, keep your cool, and clean the turds up off the floor. One other thing. A dog will eat grass sometimes when you walk it. The dog is doing that because it has an upset stomach. If you see your dog eating grass, leave it outside until it barfs it all back up. Otherwise you will be on your hands and knees mopping up slimy puke puddles off the living room floor. So if none of that bothers you, please come and adopt a pet from your nearest animal shelter. You probably won't regret it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Tale of Two Parties

Mark had two costumes this year for Halloween. I assume to make up for the fact that I had none and Alexis refused to leave the house. His first costume was for a house party he went to (I hate parties, I didn't go). His second was for the big street party here in town. I have my favorite, but tell me what you think.
Mark as Tonto (Johnny Depp version)

Mark as Grace Jones

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mr. O

22 pieces of mail, and none of it mine
I've had problems with our USPS letter carrier for a couple of years now. Yesterday things reached a new low when Mark came into the house screaming.
    "What the hell is wrong with that guy? Our mailbox was stuffed with other peoples mail!"
He tossed a large pile of mail on the dining room table. He was right, twenty two pieces of mail, all addressed to other people and none of them lived in our building.
    "I don't know what to tell you Mark. That's Mr. O. I've tried to talk to the post office about him but they just get pissed off at me."
The biggest problem I have with the wrong mail being delivered to our house is what about my mail? Where is my mail going? I have had the lady one block over hand me mis-delivered letters and magazines as I walk past her house with Chandler, but she likes me. What about my neighbors who don't care about me, or maybe even hate me (for what I don't know. I'm very lovable.). Most of all, what about when I order things from Amazon? Did you know that Amazon carries almost everything you would ever need including...  well let's just say private sorts of things. Anyway, Mark took it upon himself to drive over to the post office with the mail, to personally complain about our letter carrier. Thirty minutes later he returned home fuming.
    "They gave me attitude, they told me that I need to calm down. I told them, fine, I'll just call your bosses, and I left."
So Mark is in the other room right now talking very loudly into the phone. I know what's going to happen, I know how this is all going to turn out. Nothing, nothing will happen, because I did the same thing a couple of years ago. I got the attitude, I got the telephone run around, and I got a call from some woman at the post office berating me for causing trouble. I also got even worse service from the spiteful Mr. O.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Doin' the Happy Dance

I don't do my happy dance for trivial things. I did it when I turned sixteen and my dad let me buy my very own car. Sure it was a 1935 Studebaker that could barely hit forty five miles per hour, but it was freedom. I danced when I beat the Selective Service (the military draft, for you kids) during the height of the Vietnam War. I told them I was gay, they told me that they didn't want me. I danced when we sold our other income building and made a huge profit on it. Mark and I blew through that money much too quickly, it's all gone now. So you know it was something big when I did my happy dance around the living room last Saturday. Mark and I were invited to Thanksgiving dinner by some friends. What, you ask, how is that a big deal worthy of a happy dance? I'll tell you how. For the last sixteen years Mark has done Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for us and a few friends. Each year it has become a bigger and bigger event. Mark usually starts planning weeks in advance, with a couple of people invited. By the time the big dinner rolls around the number of people invited has ballooned, and the number of dinner courses has entered the double digits. The part I hate is the cleanup. I am cleaning up before Mark cooks, while Mark cooks, and after dinner I am in the kitchen cleaning up for hours while Mark and the guests yuk it up in the living room. This year I won't have to do that. I won't have to lift a finger unless I want to. Our friends have saved me from that drudgery, or should I say our very good friends. And I won't be dining down because the fellow doing all the cooking is every bit as good as Mark. So Saturday, when Mark asked me if I minded not having Thanksgiving at our house, it was like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Now about Christmas, I do have something planned that should get me out of doing Christmas dinner. It involves feigning illness, dog poop, and changing religion.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fantsy That

Yesterday morning I was laying in bed watching some television. Mark was over on his computer looking at some news sites when from over that way I heard a squawking.
    "Oh my god, I can't believe the comments on this article. These people are so racist and stupid."
    "I told you not to read the comments. That's just for cretins with nothing better to do."
I would recommend that nobody read the comments after news stories on the internet. It's like descending into an old fashioned insane asylum. Nothing will make sense, and if you decide to get in on the discussion and try to use logic and reason you will be branded a dumocrat, a libtard, and other clever names. Facts won't matter nor the truth. Alice in Wonderland would feel at home in a web news comment section. Grammar and spelling aren't very important either. Which leads me to another subject. Why don't people use spellcheck? What do they think that squiggly red line under every other word they peck out means? And it's not just the news comment section where I find this. I was on a facebook page that features the history of my home town and it was riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors. What is really fascinating is that I went to the same school as the people posting on this facebook page, and way back then I was the stupid kid.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013

Hungover, but here are a few photos of Wilton Manor's Halloween.
Sleeping Beauty?  

Invisible Man

Grace Jones

Fat, Pasty, Native American

Sick Bastard
PInkman cooling his jets while Walter hits the ATM.

Happy Fairy
Painted Fat

Ted Cruz