Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Dastardly Femme Discarder

part of my rock-solid daily routine is the walking of our two-year-old pug, Pugston, in the mornings and evenings. we have the gig down pretty well:

-walk down the apartment stairs

-head to one of the nearest grassy areas to urinate (not both of us, just him)

-and then over to the narrow strip of lawn which borders the brick wall that separates our apartment complex from the neighboring one, where our little man can sniff around a bit and eventually assume the squatting feces position (on a side note, due to the inherently sad look of the pug face, when he's in this stance he always looks as though he feels embarrassed to be evacuating his system in public view).

of late on these trips to poo territory i'd been noticing an increasing frequency of various pieces of litter: empty beer cans, empty packs of cigarettes, and on at least two separate occasions a drink cup from Long John Silver's.

at first i dismissed this phenomenon as the product of some careless fellow resident, his or her open-bed truck, and the forces of wind but then i noticed that the garbage always lay within an area of about three to four feet in width. at this time i should note that the neighboring apartment complex has two-story units a mere ten feet or so from the dividing brick wall and that one of the unit's second-floor balconies directly overlooks the trash trajectory area.

on this particular balcony Pugston and i had seen before a young white twenties-ish girl out there on some nights, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. i don't recall ever having seen her drink beer or smoke cigarettes but the layout of the crime scene suggested her as suspect numero uno; not having any damning evidence with which to confirm my suspicions, i merely made a mental note and moved on with my life.

the other day, though, i think i just missed my chance to catch the misdeed in action:

pugston and i were en route one Friday evening to the poop spot but our view of the alleged perp's balcony was obscured by a set of stand-alone one-car garages. moments before we cleared the edge of the garages and had full view of the grassy area, i heard a distinct hollow 'splosh' that any former fast-food patron would recognize as the sound resulting from the meeting of ground (plant-covered, earthen base) and cardboard cup (with ice). sure enough, what did i and my little pug detective partner spy but the culprit's trademark Long John Silver's cup(!), lying crumpled on our complex's premises in the target area with the suspect sitting out on her balcony chair.

seeing us she quickly said 'hello' as if wanting to fill the awkward silence and i cursed the extra water Pugston must have drank to prolong that evening's urinary exercise; had i arrived seconds earlier i might have caught sight of the cup mid-throw and possessed irrefutable evidence based on which i could have engaged in something cathartic like making some cutting remark or throwing the cup (or one of Pugston's landmines? no. surely not...) back at her where she sat. as it stands i'm the kind of guy who, no matter how solid the case appears, doesn't want to look like a raving accusatory lunatic if it turns out later that i missed some key piece of evidence that would have exonerated the recipient of my ire, so i held my tongue and finished the pug bathroom break without incident.

the whole episode is fascinating to me as it brings up the following questions:

1) What grown adult, in this generally mindful and conscientious society, actually throws trash on the ground with willful abandon? i'm sure she has a garbage can somewhere in her apartment... it's not as if she's being forced to choose between throwing the trash on the lawn or personally carrying it on foot to the local landfill.

It's just one of those things that you naturally don't think people would really do; i get the feeling, based on my upbringing, that i'm actually physically incapable of doing it, that my brain would short-circuit or something.

2) Why was our apartment's landscaping the target of her garbage projectiles? Have I stumbled into the midst of the psychological warfare campaign of some sort of apartment complex border war?

3) Who the hell eats at Long John Silver's these days, let alone on a seemingly regular basis?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Goaltending Exorcism: The Washening

a word or two (EDIT: or a whole crapload, as it turns out) about the hockey experience:

a game of hockey can entertain many of our basic senses: the impressive sight of agile dekes, deft maneuvering and acrobatic saves; thrilling sounds of open-ice bodychecks, rattling glass and the hollow echoing ring of a goalpost as a puck caroms off of it, and so on...

hockey's treatment of the sense of smell, however, is not so poetic. hockey players these days wear more protective gear than any other modern athlete (the goaltender, due to his very specific job duties, wears the most out of any position on the team) and during the course of play this gear tends to absorb large quantites of perspiration; consequently, this sweat/gear relationship can, if not properly addressed, create an overpowering odor/hygiene problem.

you might be surprised to find that, despite the greater amount of gear that they must wear, goaltenders are usually not the most odor-offending persons in the locker room; this, i find, is largely attributable to the laziness of the non-goalie players.

a typical non-goalie will wear the following during a game: helmet, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves, pants, long socks, shinpads, skates, cup, and a jersey; all of these items go back after the game into the equipment bag from whence they emerged prior to the commencement of said athletic endeavors.

most players will take this bag home and at least remove the garments (socks, jersey) for washing while treating the rest of the bulkier gear with various levels of care.

for some this means airing out the items in a garage or on a balcony; these gents are the cleanest of the bunch and will very seldomly assail anyone with saturated musky odors.

others not quite so diligent will wash the garments but leave the rest of the equipment zipped up in the bag until the next time it is needed. these guys, in uniform, are surrounded by an aura of funk whose strength is determined by where they left the bag (open balcony, closed garage, closed car trunk all week during a Texas summer, etc); they'll rankle your nose in the locker room if they sit by you.

then there are the guys who favor leaving everything, washable garments included, in the closed bag until the next game....when this type of player is lurking out of sight behind my net i can track him by smell alone.

now, as for myself, i think i'm one of the cleanlier players out there; after every game i wipe down my gear with a towel and hang it up on a rack on our balcony to dry while also giving the uniform et al the standard washing machine treatment. there is one piece of of the uniform, though, that stubbornly straddles the line between a garment and bulky gear, this thing shown here: It's designed to be worn under the traditional goalie chest protector as supplemental protection to your throat and clavicle. A cut-resistant collar goes around your neck while a semicircular piece of high-density foam extends down over the clavicle to reduce the impact of shots to the upper torso. The foam, however, is not removable and so the garment is inherently unsuitable for machine washing.

This means that if you want this puppy clean, you're going to have to kick it old-school handwashing style. This also means, of course, that in the couple of years since I've owned the thing it has never, EVER been washed. (I chalk this up to laziness reinforced by my weak assumption that if I hung it out to dry outside the wind and sun would take care of things somehow), so two years of goaltending "experience" have silently accumulated in this shirt.

Well, last weekend I decided that I'd shirked my hygienic responsibilities long enough and would attempt to purify the collared shirt. By virtue of me not being a mid-1800s western settler, i lacked the washboard and lye most suited for undertaking an antiquated event such as handwashing but i did buy a medium-sized tupperware container at Target that could be used to give the shirt a good pre-soak. On the day of the cleansing, I grabbed the container, squirted in some mild dishwashing liquid, filled the thing with hot water, threw the shirt into the tub, sealed off the whole business with the tupperware lid, and sequestered the tub in the bathroom to let the soapy water do its magic.

About fifteen minutes passed before I returned to check on how my little shirt was doing. Now bear in mind, I had done no agitating of the shirt in the soap/water mixture, no physical labor of the cleaning variety, just let it soak. I expected to find the shirt thoroughly drenched and primed to be scrubbed but good; what I did not expect to find was that the shirt had released pure evil into its watery surroundings. the shirt, soley by passive contact, had turned the water from soapy and clear to impenetrably black and dark, like an ecological sample lifted from some river in the jungle primeval.

somewhat amused and a little bit stunned, i removed the shirt and poured the unholy mixture down the bathtub drain; afterwards, a refill of the tupperware container with extra detergenty water along with some good ol' fashioned scrubbing rendered the shirt cleansed of its long-dormant demons, the water wrenched out of the shirt becoming a more passable color with each subsequent rinse.

not really sure how to end this post, the whole point was only to recount the tale of the dark water (in this instance not starring Jennifer Connelly). if you want a lesson out of this i guess the only plausible one would be 'never lick a goaltender's equipment, no matter how clean he thinks or tells you he keeps it'. if you for some reason actually needed that advice to be given, may god have mercy on your soul.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Cirque du Soleil Moon Frye

Grace bought us tickets to last night's Cirque du Soleil performance of Delirium at the Toyota Center here in Houston; it was a really good show and a bit of a departure in style from the ones she had taken me to in the past.

The shows I'd seen before were Alegria and Varekai and both of those were set up in a more traditional circus tent atmosphere with small crowds; even the cheap seats (which, as any former Cirque-goer knows, are not that cheap at all) were close enough to the stage for you to be too close for comfort to the gyrating, half-naked male dancers and their megapackages. This show, however, was labeled as more of a music event and apparently demanded the 750,000 square feet of space that only a major city stadium can provide. Our seats were up high in section 423 and gave us a good universal look over the entire performance while providing at least five times the minimally-required distance of viewer/megapackage separation.

The show took place on a long black runway that spanned the entire length of the stadium floor and was flanked on both ends and sides by massively large curtains which had video images displayed on them in time to the music (the semitransparent curtains sometimes were run across the entire length of the runway to overlay the people onstage, pretty effective use really).
I'm not really sure, the change of venue size excepted, how this was more of a music event than other Cirques - they still had all of the bright colors, dancers, and ridiculousy toned and internally-gyroscoped gymnasts to go along with the songs.

About the music, they used both new songs and old ones from other shows and the catch this time around was that they added actual words (in English and other languages) instead of the gibberish language that was in place before (hmm, and i always thought it was just French). Lots of good tribal beats in the mix which were enhanced by the volume and space of the stadium; the whole collection of songs went well with all of the jumping and balancing and hula-hooping and such that took place on the stage. The whole show was something like someone's fever dream; i guess the same could probably be said of most Cirque shows though this one was a little less kooky somehow.

When the curtains were employed it was kind of like a laser-light show with people added, though that's a bit of a bad comparison given my recent experience a few months back with a "Dark Side of the Moon" showing at the local plane*arium. Traditional laser-light shows belong to that category of "things best left remembered fondly in your high-school-age past instead of revisiting them when you're older and sober and can see how old and crappy the screen is and how dated and not-so-far-out the graphics really are".

Thursday, March 09, 2006

heather graham - why?

so Grace and I were watching a recent episode of Scrubs (which it seems, on a side note, that the few newer episodes I've managed to catch are unnaturally forcing the 'zany goofy fun' factor more than the beginning-year episodes that we're going through via Netflix at the moment) and the events centered around Zach Braff lusting heartily after a character played by Heather Graham, who according to the show was the true embodiment of sexy or something.

i hadn't seen Heather Graham in any role in a while but it brought back to mind how i always think she's not as attractive as people say or think they believe she is.

to me, she looks as if she was planted here on Earth by the X-Files / Roswell aliens as a human simalacrum of the "attractive Earth female".

She's blond, tall, thin, curvy, etc., all of that which fits the blond bombshell archetype; what gives her away as an imposter, however, is her complete inability to accurately capture and express human emotions (that, and she has eyes that seem too large for her face, but her alien creators can't really be faulted for that oversight given the facial proportions to which they're accustomed).

she's going to be one of those highly-regarded beauty icons that our kids will look back on in twenty years when they're watching VH2's "Lovely Ladies of the 90s and 00s" and say "that's what passed for attractive in your day?" (along with Sarah Jessica Parker, recipient of the slickest marketing boost campaign in recent memory. you clever PR folks, you submitted her name and face for approval so smoothly we hardly even noticed! until of course her face was featured in Gap Ads to Lenny Kravitz singing 'lovely lady' and something just didn't feel right)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Bread (the food, not the '70s soft rock band)

In another year I'll be thirty years old and I'd like to think that in that time I've come to know a few truths about myself. One of those truths is this:

I love bread.

Be it a proper English Muffin or honey-sweetened dinner roll or seasoned garlic toast or even the infantryman of the bread army, the Saltine cracker, I almost savor them more than the main entree that they typically accompany.

Maybe I can weather this anti-Atkins predilection because I only have 160 pounds stretched over a 6'1" frame; in that case, I officially label my body's metabolism in pyschobabble terms as my co-culprit enabler.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

FOX News: Fair, Balanced.....Grammar-retarded

The office that I work in has wall-mounted TVs scattered about, some tuned to financial news channels but most seem to be fixated on FOX NEWS.

Now, while this does provide for the occasional entertaining diversion from work due to high-speed car chase coverage (so many in California, by the way.. what gives?), I often find myself gritting my teeth over FOX's baffling and continuing inability to catch basic spelling and grammar errors in its onscreen text.

The text I refer to is not the rolling news ticker (though I think I've spotted some goofs in there from time to time) but the phrases printed directly under the anchorman's visage to underscore the main point of whatever he/she is talking about. These are updated frequently as topics change so there are plenty of opportunities for FOX's text & graphics monkey to screw things up.

Good example today during their discussion of the recent NY serial killer murder: "Police Pouring Over Security Video & Physical Evidence"

They are? Really?? What type of liquid? Hopefully nothing corrosive as they're going to need that evidence later methinks....

Maybe it only bothers people like me who go quietly insane when people interchangeably use "insure/ensure" or "affect/effect" but it blows my mind that a major news network would give that plum job over to someone with a grasp of spelling and grammar rivaled by most ten-year-olds.

(crotchety blogger gets off his soapbox and returns to work...)