Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Look to the Cookie

My daughter floored me yesterday with a tale of pre-school discrimination, rendering me speechless for at least a solid minute.

Rew began our conversation with a question as we walked to the car. “Ya know what Dolly said today that got her in trouble?” By the way, Dolly is a real person and Rew’s best friend, not cotton puff held together with stitching. “She told Little Ms. B that she couldn’t play with us because her skin was brown.”

The statement literally stopped me in my tracks.

My mind began to race for words, kinda like the time when GROB’s daughter found that funny-shaped vibrating thing on the floor while she was helping dismantle mommy’s and daddy’s bed. However, I knew almost instantly that the “It’s a special screw driver for the bed” excuse wouldn’t work. I’m quick that way, ya know.

This was hard-core real life. The right words, correct delivery relating to her world, and proper praise for not participating were extremely important. I first had to determine if her participation in the circumstance was, in fact, exempt. I’m confident it was.

After thinking about it for a while, I’m willing to bet that this was more the type of discrimination that children do to the fat kid, or the kid with glasses, or the kid who is kinda stinky. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m saying that it probably wasn’t rooted in racial prejudice. There is a difference, but not much.

The obligatory discussion about green skin, red noses and/or purple toes ensued at length. A child’s definition of discrimination was invented, and praise for non-participation included the words, “how proud I am of you” and cost me one piece of bubble gum and a sucker.

At bedtime we prayed. In addition to thankful blessings, we asked God to help all people understand that discrimination is unacceptable.

I held Rew’s sippy-cup of milk, the one with the green top, in my hand as I tucked her in. After which, she asked me for one last drink. I rocked the cup back and forth in my hand as if it was speaking.

Then I said in one of my best character voices, “No Reilly you can’t have a drink of me. I have a green top and you don’t. Only people with green tops can drink from me…”

She held up one finger as such when making a statement and interrupted my last effort of the day.

“Uh, daddy. Daddy! Sippy-cups aren’t people and they can’t talk.”

Lesson of the day learned. Adult insight as to the comprehension level of a 4-year-old also learned.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Thorn in my Blog

I get an email from Popeye today telling me to write more blogs.

“Get with it dude! I am now checking your page every day. NEW BLOGS????”

What Popeye doesn’t understand is that I write for a living. Okay, maybe not every single day, all day long, but I write a lot. Currently, I’m bussin’ my hump to get this magazine written and proofed by deadline. I’ve been working on it for nearly five days, non-stop, all day long.

The worst part is, I hate this magazine; the design is completely dated and the content is, to me, so very boring. But alas, I’m in now position at the moment to go changin’. It will change, I promise you this, but not at the present moment. I’m so glad this isn’t the only thing that keeps me occupied at work.

Anyway, back to Popeye. He’s a smart man, ya know, and works in a very honorable profession. He’s an educator, a motivator, a coach, and a daddy, too. He even got himself one of them there masters degrees. But my lord, shut the hell up, Popeye.

Popeye and I grew up together, and we share a lot of the same memories. This is great for our friendship but detrimental to my blogging. Even though I attempt to keep the characters in my tales anonymous, there is enough information to peg exactly who I am, at least if you have half a wit about your brain.

Within hours of releasing Worlds Beyond Rittman to Popeye, I see comments that allude to, and actually pinpoint, some events that occurred during my adventures that I would rather not mention.

But I don’t blame Popeye. The blog is new to him, and probably to most of my friends within my former stomp.

I have faith that sooner or later blog curtsey will make that synaptic connection in his head and I’ll no longer have to worry about the extraneous details that I omit from certain stories poppeyeing up in the comment section.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have much to hide. But like most people, including Popeye, there are certain aspects of life that should be left to memory versus posted for the world to see.

Now, getting this point across to him is another matter.

How to do it? Hmmmm…..

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I Geek – I Believe

I think it might have started in 6th grade Exploratory. My first choice was A/V training. Yes, I was one of those people, although I was closeted for most of my tween-teen years. I simply couldn’t help it. I loved film and slide projectors, audio equipment, and most anything else with lots of buttons and knobs that elicited an emotional response when something mechanical was pushed, twisted, flipped or depressed.

I always loved Atari 64—which still works perfectly, arcades, calculators, and anything related to that cool new device—the PC. We had one, an Apple of course—circa 1982, in my middle school. It seems though that I wasn’t smart enough to make the cut. The Apple was only for those with grades higher than mine.

In college I started as an undeclared (not a specific field of study) business major, switched to engineering, and then switched to a geek major—photography and cinema. These were the years when I learned how to work the Apple IIe. A guy in my dorm had one, and it was soooo cool.

Years later Gates unleashed Windows 95. My girlfriend had a computer that was running Windows for Workgroups. I purchased the new OS and my addiction grew rapidly.

Now that I’m a grown man with a family and more responsibility than I ever thought I would have, I’m still a geek. The three computers, two video cameras, numerous still cameras, an Xbox, and enough software to choke a torrent might testify to the fact. There is also the aforementioned Atari 64 and a pre-Atari gaming consol sold by Sears. It works, too. It’s color and includes Pinball I & II, Pinpaddle I & II, Breakaway, Breakout and a few other things. And I swear that I’m going to get my 1986ish Playboy Pinball machine up and running again sometime in the near future.

I run a duel-boot Mac Pro Intel at work with one 23” monitor and one 22” monitor. I also have an IBM ThinkPad laptop, which I take home every night because I simply don’t have enough computers in home already. My Dell Axim PDA is my personal secretary, and I would feel naked if my portable 20GB hard drive wasn’t within reach at all times. One second-generation 15GB iPod and one 30GB video iPod round out the collection.


I kinda blame it on my ADHD, and I kinda blame it on the high that I get from fixing someone’s computer, the compliments I get when I take a great photo, and the emotions I see in others after producing a video. But I think that I might be zeroing in on the real reason.

I’m a firm believer in the Word of God, and that he sent his Son to die for our sins—not that I don’t have questions, but I guess that’s why it’s called faith.

Theses skills that I have, are they my spiritual gift?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It’s An Amalgam

“Hey. Hey big man. You like music?” These were the first words I heard this morning aside from the standard good bye and I love you from my sleeping wife.

So how are you supposed to respond to someone asking such a question; a question asked from a distance while I stood filling my tank.

“No, I don’t like music. And while you’re asking, I don’t like ice cream, Ansel Adams, or Braveheart, either.”

Gas pump handle clicky thing in place, I walked toward him. I had to if I wanted my standard breakfast of a Nutty Bar and Diet Dew that I get every time I fill my tank before work.

“Check it out, Big Man, this stuff is hot,” said Mr. Wake-n-Bake Breath while holding one new CD and another without a case.

“What kind of music is it,” I asked.
“Not my gig dude, sorry.”
“What about this one, Big Man. What do you like? Heavy Metal? Soft Rock? This is a mixture,” he says while hold the disc to my face and showing me the picture on the case.

Maybe big men inherently look less intelligent; who knows. But some how my BMSS (Big Man Spidey Sense) managed to tingle. It could have been the combo description of musical genera, or maybe it was the CD case photo showing one man holding an acoustic guitar. Regardless, I was not going to open my car and listen as he suggested.

His pitch continued after I paid for my Little Debbie snacky cake and walked back to my car. “I’ll make you a deal, big man.”

“Dude, I’m an ATM man. I have no cash. And plain and simply, I’m just not a big fan of the heavy metal, soft rock amalgam. If it ain’t Deep Purple, then I don’t want it”

“Alright big man, but you’re missing out,” he said as he hopped from his paper-box perch in search of the next sale. “This stuff is hot.”

Friday, February 9, 2007

Bye, Bye Anna – My Time Alone Will Miss You

Maybe it was the whole graduation thing and the lack of my attendance at hers that lead my college girlfriend to break up with me. Or I guess it could have been my relentless harsh diatribe spewed to her roommates while reviewing a weekend spent with TB’s friends. It doesn’t really matter; the end result was the same.

But it was TB who purchased as a present for my birthday a subscription to Playboy. The year was 1992, the same year that Anna Nicole became POY.

I instantly fell in lust with her curves. I nurtured that relationship on numerous occasions during a time when my roommate, Popeye, was called out of reserve to serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky during Desert Storm. We were at war, ya know. And I must have thought that the enemy was hiding in my 501s.

I’ll never forget the come-hither look of my POY lounging in the tub and covered with bubbles. I was hooked for years; through the muumuu-like, big pink dress years and the horrid B-movies, she was my Marilyn.

As for TB, going out to dinner with her parents after her college graduation just didn’t appeal to me at the time. Maybe I should have called instead of standing them up. And I didn’t know she was in the other room during my diatribe.
She broke up with me for the guy to whom I subleased Popeye’s room. She married him.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Confusion: Defining Rittman and Beyond

Rittman, as in Rittman, Ohio, was at one time the center of the universe—at least for me. I never wanted to leave my beloved city of 7000ish where Indians football ruled, the dividing line between the hill and those who lived below rested at Grandview park, and churches outnumbered the bars by only a few. It’s a strange little place.

Had this town surrounded by rectangular patches of feed-grade crops been an actual breathing entity with conscience thought and a daily routine, it would certainly have an hour a week booked at the relaxing seat of a qualified counselor. This, I believe, is the root of all issues when things go bad for the Rittmanites.

Ya see, Rittman is suffering from gender confusion.

Until the problem is resolved, bad juju abounds.The City of Rittman, as it’s known, isn’t reallllllly a city. Wiki proclaims, “a city is an urban area that is differentiated from a town, village, or hamlet by size, population density, importance or legal status”.

I guess this really falls on the definition of what or is.

It isn’t really urban, or urbane for that matter. Population density is pretty much right out the window. The importance of existence was great at one time. But now that I’ve had some time past the gates, as defined by field of corn XXX lying in all outskirt points of the compass, the importance subsided a bit.

As for status, legal or otherwise, I know Rittman has been on Cleveland TV News at least twice that I can remember; once involved Popeye parent's bar, the Sleepy Owl, a rifle, and someone barricading himself in the attic. I think it was 1988, and the rifle was a .22 gage...or something like that.

The schools are defined as an exempted village. The only exemptions I’ve ever seen are during the times of local and state funding. “The Rittman School District claims its solemn right of exemption to all funding. Why should we pay higher taxes when our kids aren’t getting the education they need.”

Ergo—back to the comfy cuckoo chair.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Rittman. I relish my experiences from childhood, and I would never trade my teen adventures with JL, MB, VM, TB, DM, GK, RC, JS, DC, KE, SB and all the rest. (I had to get a RMS Smoke Signal reference in there).

All I’m saying it that before Rittman can move past any undermining juju, it simply must make a decision as to which of the defining ors best fit. I vote for hamlet.

Henceforth, I go to Worlds Beyond Rittman. Don’t worry; I’ll make sure to visit. I always do.