Monday, June 27, 2005

I've changed. I hope I change back.

Seeing this black eye in the mirror makes me think of a panda bear, because it is shaped like a panda's black eye patch. Thinking of a panda bear makes me think of the Southpark episode in which the kids learn about sexual harrassment from Sexual Harrassment Panda. SHP had a catchy theme song which was meant to be so bad, it's funny, and it pretty much hits that mark head on. Unfortunately, it is now pretty much on a continuous loop inside my head.

Maybe it's thinking Southpark thoughts so much, maybe it's just me (okay, it's probably just me), but this black eye thing has also made me consider seriously for the first time in my life going to one of those Glamour Shots-type photo studios where they doll you up in big hair, heavy make-up, and red carpet-type clothes and take mantel-worthy photographs designed to make every woman look like a trailer park hotty. However, I want to go now, while at my most colorful, eyewise, and tell them to do my hair, throw all the pearls and feather boas they got at me, but don't touch the face. Let the rainbow beauty of my black eye show through. Wouldn't that be awesome?

That's what I was thinking.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A quote from Liam McEneaney's blog that you must read

RE: white suburban kids grooving to Public Enemy: "Fight the Power! After the Power gives me my allowance!"

My Doctor Gave Me a Black Eye

I'm really not that bad of a patient. I may ask too many questions in the 30 seconds allotted, or sit cross-legged on the exam bed, but I am careful not to tell them that their hair looks silly that way, or that I hope that's not somebody else's bodily fluids on their smock.

Nevertheless, I came out of my doctor's office on Wednesday with a beaut of a shiner developing under my left eye. Now, two days later, the swelling is subsiding, but the colors are just beginning to get interesting. It travels from the outside of my left upper cheek, tiptoes around the two stitches there, and spreads itself liberally over my lower eye-bag area using a palette of yellow, indigo and red, and ends in a purple exclamation point in the corner of my eye.

It started as all my visits to the dermatologist start - with the doctor zeroing in on some bitty mole or another and pronouncing it too suspicious to allow any further leisure time on my body, and calling for the mole removal tools to be brought from the dungeon designed just for such purposes.

It's been like this since, in a surprise case of beauty mark-turns-evil, my family doctor removed a mole on my arm (what - you don't have beauty marks on your arms?) that turned out to be deadly melanoma disguised as a friendly mole. This was when I was eighteen, and ever since, it's been, "Oh, no, doctor, I haven't been out in the sun without sunscreen. Why, with my history, that would be foolish. What, these freckles? I had these already. Yeah." And every time I go to the dermatologist for a melanoma safari, they find something to remove. I've had so many moles removed, I've lost count. Some have left scars, some haven't. I just assume that dermatologists are like zombies, only they prefer to dine on skin rather than brains. I go in every year and donate skin, like some people give blood. I guess it's for a good cause. I'd hate all the dermatologists to perish from hunger.

But I digress.

The tiny, yet suspiciously self-satisfied-looking mole on my face right where a beauty mark should be - right under the left eye, Marilyn-style - attracted her attention from the start. Yes, it was tiny, and if, in somebody's cruel mind, they may be correlating the tiny-ness of the beauty mark with the tiny-ness of the beauty in the face in question, then they would be breaking the rules of fear-the-telephone land and would be banished, and then we can continue our conversation in peace.

The tiny, yet suspiciously self-blah, blah, blah, anyway, she put that Worried Dermatologist look on her face and told me that I had two choices, either she could take it out now and get it biopsied while it was small and would leave a teeny-weeny scar, or we could wait and watch it grow, and then whack it off later when she would need a ladder, a chain saw and some staples for after.

Since she put it that way, I chose option one. Now the punchline: turns out that it wasn't an evil mole after all, but a blood vessel posing as a mole! Ha, ha! Those crazy blood vessels! As soon as she drilled into my face, it was like she hit a gusher, and then it was like, "you don't have any bleeding disorders or clotting difficulties, do you?" Well, I thought, isn't it a little late to be asking? And how clod-brained would I be if, I knew I had a bleeding problem, not to say something up front when you started talking about mole-drilling?

Yep, turns out no bleeding problem, just a broken main problem. It takes longer to clot when you hit the mother lode. I get my stitches out on Tuesday. Although it's felt a little, oh, uncomfortably conspicuous, walking around with a huge, galloping black eye, I kind of hope it's still rainbow-colored on Tuesday, just so she feels a little twinge of guilt. I'm assuming dermatologists have guilt. I don't know for sure.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Madison racing explained

I am a casual observer - no, casual is the wrong word, as when I am observing, I am usually white-knuckled and twisted stomached - let's say novice observer of velodrome cycling.

What you need to know about velodrome cycling is that it should be bigger than the NBA. It's way more exciting, has more crashes than Nascar, has the same wicked rivalries as professional wrestling, has better bodies than baseball (better everything than baseball), and is faster than crap. It's kind of like roller derby, but with bikes with one speed and no brakes, on a track with banked sides that a bike cannot stay upright on unless in motion.

I have become familiar with velodrome cycling, not by the usual means, which, I guess, would be watching the thirty seconds of coverage lovingly allotted it every four years by the wizards of Olympics television broadcasting, but through the actions of my son, who, as a bicycle racer, found himself more comfortable on the velodrome track than on roads (which tend to point up at uncomfortable angles much too often, and require one to climb up them, something he does not enjoy - no Lance Armstrong, he).

Crashes are spectacular on the track (let's quit calling it a velodrome now - it's hard to type and seems rather starchy, considering that everyone involved with the sport says "track" unless speaking to the uninformed). Racers are invariably going way fast, and crashes invariably happen on the steepest point of the bank, which allows for not only the crash, but the fall off the embankment, and the swerving and crashing of those behind the crashee. Even simple mechanical failures can be spectacular, as there are no brakes in which to stop a berserk bike. You can only hope for a skilled rider, who can take it in for a soft landing in the infield grass. When mechanical failures aren't spectacularly crashy, they are spectacular in some form or other - take the time I saw the enormous, Thor-like power of a sprinter's thighs snap the seat post and seat off his bike in the middle of a sprint race - and finish the race! That's skill for you. Mixed with a little fear of sitting down onto the splintered carbon fiber remains of a seat post with sensitive anatomy parts.

Now that I've set the scene, imagine that these crash-prone kamikaze types invent a form of tag-team racing in which one member of the team is actively racing while one member is taking it easy for a few laps and catching his/her breath. Then after a few laps, he positions himself right in the middle of the thunderous racing herd with one hand placed casually on his back. His team member then grabs this hand and uses the kinetic energy he has gained by racing like a demon with Tourette's Syndrome to fling the rested racer into the race in his place. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Not just with this one team, but with all the other teams (ten is a good number) on the track. There's racing. There's flinging. There's racers slowing down, there's racer being launched. All together. It's chaos. But this is where the angels come in: usually nobody dies. It is truly a sight you must not leave the earth without experiencing.

This is the Madison. It is named after Madison Square Garden, where it was conceived, long ago when track racing in America was as big and popular as the Garden. It's hard to imagine that a sport once so beloved could fall practically into oblivion. It's especially amazing that it has happened to this sport. It's everything Americans love: speed, cutthroat tactics, crashing, thus bloodshed, and drama. What's not to love? Europeans love it - they call it The American Race, since it was born here. And here in its birthplace, it is practically disowned. Criminal.

Here in the Portland area, the racers use a track that exists only by the grace of an amazing local dairy that lends out its suburban acres as a park for the community. There are baseball fields, a bmx track, picnic tables and lots of other stuff. It's a bit of community philanthropy that you just don't see much of anymore. Oh, I'm sure it helps ice cream sales, but who else would devote 57 acres of prime suburban hill space to fun? Here's to Alpenrose Dairy. If you want to see the track where Portlanders come to try not to crash, go here:

There's a new track in LA. There's one in San Diego and one in the Bay Area. There's one in Redmond, north of Seattle, (it's kind of big, so there's not much bank to it - takes some of the yikes out of it). There's the big daddy in Trexlertown, PA. If there is one near you, check it out. The athletes are either unpaid or underpaid, so you won't have to pay much to get in (if anything), and they won't make you feel like a peon (like ____ fill in your least favorite professional athlete here). You won't be disappointed and you won't be bored.

And if you see my son there, pray for him. I have a feeling his angel is overworked.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The start of something mediocre

I am in a computer training class today. Since training classes go at the rate of the slowest learner in the class, I am left with some extra time. At one point, during the class, we were asked to write a sentence about Simone, who we learned was a very hairy cat. This is what I've written as of 10:50. This might be all I'll ever write about this particular subject. It might not.

Simone was a very hairy cat. She was so hairy we had to vacuum at least every two hours, sometimes more often in the spring. Once, we vacuumed too close to Larry the Chihuahua and lost him in the vacuum bag. When we pulled him out, he was covered with so much cat hair that he looked like a small, unkempt version of Simone. We call him Simonette for the rest of the day, which really pissed him off.

Now, a fancy business letter for your sales use:

Harvey Spongehelmet
Supah Cool Industries
100 Main St.
Vancouver, WA 98660

Dear Harvey,

We are letting you in on the beginning of a new era in widgets! We are jumping up and down with excitement and guzzling champagne as we announce the premiere of our new, improved widget! This new widget will revolutionize the way you order, produce and sell your product, live your life, and communicate with your dog.

Our new, patented Purple Widget will increase your production efficiency by 120%, help you lose weight, and give your customers a new way to view your product – through a relaxing, purple haze.

And now, for the best part! If you order today, we are ready to give you a special, one-time only, 15% discount on your first order over 100 units. Hurry, Harvey, because this offer is only good for 30 days from the date of this offer.

We believe that this product is so superior that you will want to start with twice your normal unit order, as your sales will inevitably skyrocket as a result of the Purple Widget.

Please call us today to place your order.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Animal Planet Owes Me $330. So Far.

I've tried to explain, or understand, my attachment to Animal Planet's series of shows about righteous cop-types saving starving, abused pets from bad guys, nurturing them back to heath and finding them new, loving, non-abusive homes so that they may live happily ever after, such as "Animal Precinct," filmed in New York and "Animal Cops," filmed in the wrecked streets of Detroit. (Detroit is my favorite, for the mangled cop-ese that the Detroit "Cops" use in describing their actions for the camera - lots of "I ascertained this," and "the perpetrator that," plus its fun to guess what the awesomely laid-back, corn-rowed dude is really thinking. He is deliciously inscrutable.)

I don't know why, I just find myself tuning it in, especially if there is no one else around to give me a hard time about it. I like watching a dog come in who is obviously down to his last calorie, ribs all showing, backbone sticking out, and then seeing him later - sometimes no more than a couple weeks later, all fattened up and shiny-eyed and frisky. The thing that really pisses me off about those poor little starving ones is that when they pick up the "perp" to take him or her down to book 'em at the station, they are always fat. Doesn't that just piss you off? It does me.

On the animal cop shows, they are always booking people for failing to get their dog or cat or iguana the veterinary care that they require. Dogs are running around with big open sores on their leg, or big ol' tumors hanging off them, or so much matted hair that it's hard to tell where the face is, or cats are going blind from poor nutrition. They was always gonna. Or their vet told them that Blacky's just fine with that tumor hanging off her. It don't hurt her none.

Now all that booking of negligent pet owners has cost me big time, and I want Animal Planet to reimburse me in full. I've become so paranoid about the animal police showing up at my house that I've taken my cat to the vet so that he can tell me that she stubbed her toe on something (cha-ching: $90), and now I've taken my dog to the vet for full hip x-rays, just to find out that she is a lazy-ass (cha-ching: $240). At least her teeth are clean now, since I had them throw that in while she was out (yes, they have to knock her out for x-rays).

I was so sure that she was suffering from the same arthritis and hip dysplasia that our last collie had (and suffered in manly silence, I might add, except for an"oy vay" groan when lying down for the night). She was really slowing down when I took her for walks, and on some longer walks, she would sometimes just find a nice grassy spot and lay down, and look at me like, "well, you can join me if you wish." You can imagine that this made me wonder if everything was okay. She seemed to be acting like a 12-year-old in a 5-year-old body. $240 later, my vet tells me her hips look great, and there's probably nothing wrong that a little Doggy Slim Fast wouldn't cure (which she took offense to, naturally).

The next time I took her for a long walk, she decided to veer off into a nice patch of grass and take a snooze, leash and owner in running shoes still attached. But this time, the Animal Cops were off my back - I had the veterinarian's receipt in my wallet as proof. I told her to get the hell up and walk. So she did. No back talk. Turns out she just thought she had the right to plop down when she saw an inviting patch of grass. Turns out I just had to let her know that she didn't.

Was it worth $240 to find this out? I guess it had to cost $240 to be able to tell her to get the hell up without feeling like an abuser of a hip-dysplasia-broken-down dog. It's not me, it's her. She's the abuser here! And I have the receipt to prove it! So get off my back, Animal Planet, and give me my money back!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Random Thoughts Part 3

Good names for rock bands:

Meat Bowling Club
Future Nostalgia
I dare you to name your band Supah Cool.

Bad names for rock bands:

Future Has Beens
The Trouble with Janice
Smart Guys with Glasses
The Bloggers

The name of the protagonist in my upcoming novel:

Orin "Orange" Dunlap (this stuff is copyrighted, right?)

My new favorite quote from a cartoon:

"This is the current world of the forever now!" (Agnes)

My favorite silly motel name:

The Alpine Chalets (At Otter Rock, Oregon, on the beach, virtually at sea level) - okay, they are pointy A-frames, but still, as far away from alpine as you can possibly get. I love to stay there. They have kitchens and lofts for the kids, and I can bring my dog. And it's fun to say, "Let's go to the beach and stay at the Alpine Chalets!"

Favorite recent newspaper headline:

"In Life and Death, the Gribbles Gather" This headline appeared in the Oregonian on May 31, 2005, over a story about a family that has their own cemetery.

And sorry about those haikus.