Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Doctor Trash-Picker-Upper, I presume

downtown Houston is not really a spectacular thing; it will never be mistaken for a Chicago or New York.

still, those entrusted with managing the city have seen to it that the downtown area, if nothing else, remains relatively clean and free of post-consumer debris. they have accomplished this by employing a work staff of foot-patrol street custodians who roam the downtown city blocks (well, i think maybe there are a few cavalry who get to ride around in a golf cart for bigger clean-ups) picking up Things That Should Not Have Been Left Where They Are.

this is a good thing. i have to wonder, though, what the city managers were drinking / smoking when they came up with, or at least gave their stamp of approval on, the uniforms that these custodians have been made to wear.

picture this:
banana-yellow short-sleeved button-up shirt

teal / aquamarine long pants with matching vest

white jungle safari explorer hat (like the kind, if you were a child of the 80s like me, that you might have seen being worn on a Panama Jack t-shirt by the man of the same name)

it really has to be seen to be believed (unfortunately for you i'm not one of those bloggers who always has camera in hand); i just feel sorry for the crew. i can understand the city wanting them to be a visible presence in downtown so the public knows they're at work, but there must be a color scheme slightly less offensive to the eye and less ego-shattering to wear.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

the home from work ritual

just about every weekday i get home from work and the following occurs:

walk into the house through the laundry room.

our eldest dog Pugston rises from his napping spot on the old couch that's placed in what would otherwise normally be considered our formal dining room, greeting me enthusiastically. he does this because, among other things, i am the Scooper Of The Food and the Opener Of The Door That Leads To The Grass Where He Poops (and he's also been sleeping for the last eight to ten hours so the mere sight of someone new in the house is an exciting change of pace).

after proper greetings between Pugston and myself are exchanged our cat Nerf usually makes an appearance, coolly scoping out the situation.

make my way to the master bedroom where our newest dog Louie has been enjoying the cozy shelter of his kennel where he stays during those times when the house is unsupervised by humans (Louie is young and has not yet demonstrated a level of conscientious bladder control that would grant him greater freedoms).

opening the cage to the kennel, Louie unleashes a day's worth of pent-up kinetic energy as he bolts to the living room eager to chase or be chased by Pugston or Nerf, whichever one happens to be first in his path.

both dogs eagerly follow me to the kitchen door that leads to the backyard, barely letting the door open a crack before they squirm their ways out to the carpet of green grass (well mostly a carpet, we have some brown and dead patches, i never claimed to be a master of the yard) for their routine evacuation activities. i walk out in the yard with them, taking a look at the state of the backyard and keeping an eye on things.

if i turn to look back at the kitchen door i can see Nerf through one of its glass panes, sitting on the kitchen floor observing us in our movements about this strange foreign "not-house" world. maybe he wants to join us in exploring the outdoor flora? oh, no sir, not at all, he's strictly an evaluator from afar. open the door to any degree and he bolts to a location more suitable to his always-heightened sense of caution.

the dogs' business done, we head back inside. the events occurring after may vary in timing or happening (dinner prep, playing xbox, cleaning dishes, minor household chores), but this first sequence of events invariably comes to pass in similar fashion weekday after weekday.

in some circumstances this type of repetition of ritual can grow mundane and dispiriting; with Pugston, Nerf, and Louie, though, our developing tradition is a presence of pure goodness in life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


...just haven't been blogging lately; the switch from eating lunch at work in solitary at my desk to hanging out in a boardroom with coworker friends has really cramped the output.

we have a spiffy new laptop at home that can be used comfortably from the couch with wifi to litter the blogosphere with new entries but i find sometimes after eight hours of computer-screen viewing and keyboard typing at work i'm not really gung-ho to launch into personal computing time; if not that, then other after-work activities like dinner, sports, TV, chores, projects, etc. seem to get in the way.

think i just need to suck it up for the greater good and get back to posting!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

the door at work

so the office in the building in which i work is accessible by two doors on opposite ends of the area; both are magnetically locked and can only be opened with the proper badge and reading of the code on said badge by the door lock sensor.

that is, until yesterday when someone leaned too heavy a shoulder or something into the door near my end, the result being that the metal arm lever that brings the door to a mechanically controlled slow, smooth close was broken off from its moorings to the door frame and now acts as a wedge that keeps the door from being closed properly.

maintenance should be by to fix it in short order, but the interesting thing to me for the time being is, having gone through the swipe badge / open door / proceed through door routine for a long time now, that i get this weird Pavlovian sense of unease whenever i now walk through the door standing listlessly agape.

there are no free and open doors anymore, it's lunacy! there must be some requirement to gain access, it boggles the modern mind to just flow through unchecked.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

brave dog survives danger, shoddy writing

so cnn had this story on the air about a fourteen-year-old dalmatian that got stuck in a storm drain underground for four days; concerned friends and family eventually rescued him.

i went to the web to find an article of this happy-ending story that i could forward to my wife and her sister (both ardent dog lovers)

and this.... this is the first article i find:

KLTV in Tyler - proofread what you put on your website
8/21/07 Wayne County , West Virginia
Dog Buried Alive Trapped Four Days Underground

Dog trapped underground in a storm drain for four days has been rescued.

Listen carefully, and you'll hear a grown man cry: Tears of triumph over tragedy. Finding his buried dog: alive.

This is a story of sheer perseverance! It could have had a completely different ending. The threat of a cave in, after heavy rain, was very real!

Alex the Dalmation was trapped 15 feet underground in an old storm drain. He crawled in to cool offand got stuck.

A danger, not only to the trapped dog, but it's owner: who had been digging for days to try and free Alex. A friend with a backhoe came to help, inching dangerously close. It's giant, iron claw capable of ripping the animal in half. A hole large enough to swallow this ladder whole and everyone and everything in it.

That was the thing we had to whisper a little prayer for last night, because these dogs get to be like part of the family.

But after 4 days of searching and two days of digging, Alex, was free.

For 14 years he has bee a part of Thompson family.

Alex was taken to the vet, early this afternoon: he arrived on a stretcher. iI's a miracle.


a veritable minefield of:
- exclamation points! !! !
- colons and commas dispersed on a seemingly random basis
- fragment sentences that start almost in mid-thought and end jarringly abrupt
- apostrophes where no apostrophe should be
- missing letters and misspelled words

it's so bad, it's almost poetic. brave, brave doggy.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

30 is the new 20

hey, my friend of friends, Steven, who in the beginning gave birth to this website, was given birth to on this earth this day thirty years ago!

so happiest of birthdays to you Steve, my contemporary. if your thirtieth year is anything like mine it'll usher in an era of curiously increased focus on the richness of the green color of the lawn grass bordering your domicile. then again, recent home ownership may have contaminated me as a subject for purposes of the scientific "age 29 vs age 30" study.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

i'm alive

that is to say, i'm more alive than my blog has been of late.

same excuse remains: work and process of moving into home, trying to keep track of all the things to buy and errands to run.

bright spot of hope: probably going to get a new laptop soon so i can take care of my computer reponsibilities wirelessly from the comfort of our couch at home. this will enable some more responsible blogging frequency (and possibly catching up on old post ideas that have been mouldering) than what i am able to accomplish at odd moments during the workday

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

another FOX News watch post? ...... yes

ok this is going to be kind of a weak post after almost a month's absence but been super-busy with goings-on at work and home, both environments being full of much activity. i'll deal with the backlog of post ideas later, but for now:

the subtitle script as Fox News' own Neil Cavuto interviews one football player to get his thoughts on how the wealth of another football player was not sufficient to remove said other football player from enjoying rougher, less socially acceptable hobbies:

"Ladainian Tomlinson thoughts on the the Vick dogfighting case"

first the Fox News monkey typist is a poor grammar student, now he's a stutterer.

Monday, June 25, 2007

at the Target checkout

so grace and i were on a low-quantity Target run for some miscellaneous grocery items and we're behind this guy in line.

probably about in his late twenties, i think he was indian; he's buying exactly two DVDs and nothing else.

engaging in a casual invasion of privacy, i glance over to see which titles he had elected to purchase.

consider this:



Action Force (starring Steven Seagal)

what an odd mix

now i can understand if this DVD run was the result of some compromise; girlfriend / wife wants Dreamgirls and in return guy gets to have an action flick, but if that's the case why isn't he buying one of the classics, like the first Die Hard? or Aliens? or Predator?

what drives someone to not only buy a Steven Seagal movie but also one of his certainly more recent direct-to-DVD releases? i mean, if he was buying Hard to Kill i might give it a pass, but Action Force? i'm starting to think a review of the man's collection at home might also include a few seasons of Walker, Texas Ranger.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

check your dictionary, son

so i was waiting in Fuzzy's Pizza late evening last night for my to-go order of pizza to make its way out of the oven.

tired and a little bored, i sat down near the racks of free local magazines and started perusing.

found one called "DISH" apparently concerning all matters of food and cooking, or at least those matters that could be discussed within its ten or twelve pages. high-color production but the flavor of the articles and illustrations pointed toward a less-than-professionally-trained crew. case in point was the magazine's cartoon strip which was three frames depicting various people's positive interactions with DISH magazine and their efforts to pass along knowledge of DISH magazine to other people at restaurants and parties and such and how those other people were equally as pleased with what DISH magazine had to offer.

flipped to the back and found some fluff paragraph all about the Blue Bell Creamery in Breham. the sentence that caught my eye read something like this:

"just a short drive outside of town you can find the Blue Bell Creamery, in a melancholy world all its own."

melancholy....i'm sure the author meant to intend something else. i went to the Blue Bell Creamery as a kid, seemed pretty upbeat to me. but it's been many a year since then; maybe i'm mistaken, maybe i've been living inside the fog of assumption that a business entirely centered around pleasure food was immune to the pitfalls of gloom and depression.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Worst Drive Home Ever

NOTE: this particular anecdote generally concerns humorous subject matter of the "low" variety. if you're not up for that, no problem, just check back next week or so; i'll probably have posted something by then with wider audience appeal.

Thursday night May 17th didn't start off poorly; however, it was to end with the Worst. Drive. Home. Ever.

Grace's parents had just flown in from L.A. for the following day's travel to Austin and my brother-in-law's graduation from UT graduate business school; Grace's mom had one of our favorite Houston pizza places (Barry's) on her mind so off we went to eat dinner.

After a delicious meal of one Barry's Special and one pepperoni-and-pineapple pizza we headed home so that i could pack up my gear for the week's hockey game.

it was a late one, starting at 10:20 pm; the game was a toss-up through two periods but the third was evidently not ours to have so i walked out of the rink non-victorious. would that my troubles ended there.

the drive home from my rink is about a 30-minute affair due in part to Houston being a generally monstrous and sprawling metropolis; about fifteen minutes north on I-45 and another fifteen west on the 610 loop is the usual routine. normally i use this time to wind down from the game and review plays in my head, reinforcing what i did well and analyzing the areas of play where my athletic candle may not have shone so bright. on this night, though, my mind was not afforded such a state of ease and contemplation.

about ten minutes into my journey north on I-45 i started to sense a little rumble in my stomach. normally this is neither irregular nor bothersome; since about junior-high age my stomach has been an especially sensitive thing. while in early years it produced some anxiety over long bathroom-less schoolbus rides on field trips or other occasions in which a site of relief was not readily available, over time i learned to manage and mostly control my stomach's temper.

in the sense of that history, these first few rumblings were unremarkable, hardly worrisome; i'd subdued greater disturbances before with little to no trouble.

as a few more minutes passed, though, and the hockey rink's restroom facilities receded further into the black stretch of midnight behind me, i became aware of a growing, piercing painful pressure in my guttiworks that increased with steady precision. at this, the standard first sign of stomach discomfort entering into its more advanced and complicating stages, the first wave of panic set in.

i tried to calm myself and not be mindful of my surroundings, trapped in my car along the ghetto stretch of I-45 during the witching hour. a few moments passing with no relief of discomfort found, the calm began to wear off. i wasn't familiar with the exits here; if i needed to stop, where would i go and would i find anything open at this hour?

too late to turn back to the rink now; i was almost at the halfway mark between there and home, the point of no return. took some deep breaths to center myself and an attempt to bolster my mental reserve: "you can make it through this, everything will be okay". pressed a little harder on the accelerator and picked up the pace homeward ever so slightly. at this point it was clear that i had to push the limits of acceptable speeding to keep the odds in my favor but i could not afford to be pulled over by law enforcement; any such event and the game would truly be lost so i chose my level of law-breaking speed carefully.

onward i sped, simultaneously looking out for patrol cars and any open businesses. a moment of hope: there, on the southbound side, a Taco Cabana! it looked lit up, might be open....but i just passed the exit to it, would have had to take the next one and U-turn, the feeder roads are cruelly long on this stretch of highway, quite a sizable detour. i'm not familiar with Taco Cabana's store hour policies, what if only the drive-through was open? i weighed the options and ruled it out; too much of a gamble. i shifted uncomfortably in my seat and pressed on, still in control at that point but the momentum of the contest rapidly turning against me.

as i careened around the I-45 exit to 610 West the situation quickly deteriorated into a crisis; my stomach, indignant that i had chosen to throw my support behind my bowels in their struggle against its wishes, made known its anger and fury at having been made to process greasy bread/cheese/sauce/meat food products and then be jostled and churned just hours later during my goaltending efforts. panic level entered stage two and the law became broken by an additional five to seven miles per hour. flying down the freeway, mostly alone in the multi-lane thoroughfare. home was creeping slowly closer but i feared not fast enough for my needs. still no available havens of refuge along the highway, my apartment was my only option. the terror increases.

about a half-mile from my exit, as i did the wiggle-dance in my seat, the thought first crossed my mind, resounding with great weight:

i, a grown man, despite every ounce of my will opposed to it, just might actually mess myself right here in this car.

my worldview collapsed inward like a dying star to a fine point; there was only me, my car, the road and its laws and regulations, and the Growing All-Consuming Fear increasingly difficult to deny. despair began to grab hold but i fought it back, summing up my deepest reserves of inner strength. i crested the hill before my freeway exit; this was to be my final test, my greatest challenge, the last street gauntlet before home.

the Scott street exit leads immediately to a stop-light intersection; after that point you must follow a long and curving feeder that runs along west 610 and north 288. this leads to another stop-light before you turn left to take the street crossing over 288. another stop-light on the far side of the street over 288; after that, about a third-mile of street separates you from my apartment complex.

i rose over the ridge to the Scott street exit, praying for a green light at the intersection below. green! but for how long, who knows.... descending the 35 mph exit at 60 mph, this was the breaking point; the jump off of the building onto the rescue helicopter, clipping the right wire on the time bomb. fail to make this light and i was doomed.

no traffic, i barreled through; the light turned yellow but i remained within lawful limits, current velocity excepted. the 610/288 feeder snaked out ahead, mocking me. the tires of my Accord proved their grippy worth as i shot through the curve and raced up to the first overpass stop-light.

Red... and i knew these to be on a timer; despite the absence of cross-traffic at this hour i would be waiting a pre-set amount of time before granted my turn to move.

but i had no time, i was beyond time, on borrowed time at a high interest rate. i am the type of guy who becomes annoyed when i see other people's selfish moving violations: driving in a non-lane area during congested rush hour to get to the feeder road, cutting in at the last possible second to take a freeway exit, parking in non-parking areas, cutting over three lanes of traffic to make a last-second exit, et cetera. in light of this it was no easy choice but i made it: i looked both ways and then ran that red light. crossing over 288, another red-light! quick look to the right for traffic and then burned rubber like i was fleeing a bank robbery.

around a twist in the road and then turned left onto my street, my midsection in agony, possessed by demonic culinary forces. down and up over two sickening, terrifying dips in the street; at this point, within sight of home, it would be the height of ironic cruelty for me to fall short now.

nearing the entrance i fumbled for my complex entry gate's clicker; curse its weak battery, the gate didn't start opening until i was almost upon it. the moment i had enough clearance to get my car through i was on the move. a rapid approach to my building; spying no spaces available i found the nearest curb, shifted into park, hit the hazard flashers, and turned off the car.

as i opened the door and rose from my seat, an almost fatal slip in the mental poise that had been the only thing keeping me in the fight. as i rose my stomach intensified its assault and my lines of defense nearly gave up. an angry admonishment to myself to keep it together and the last twenty yards: a sprint up the stairs (the gods laughing now at my choice to have lived above the first floor for security of our possessions kept on the outside balcony).

keys already in hand, deliriously searching for the apartment key. key located but so nervous and desperate the hands trying to locate it to the lock. no no no no no, hold on just a few seconds longer. my stomach will not be my master, not today.

the front door finally opened, i advanced inside as quickly and quietly as i could in mind of a sleeping wife and in-laws inside; immediately to my right the guest bathroom beckoned and i rushed inside with no time to spare. the next few moments were a blur but when my head cleared i knew this: i made it. i had proven myself worthy on the field of intestinal battle.

the sense of relief during my time spent in that narrow bathroom was overpowering to an almost hallucinogenic effect; i heard choirs of angels sing, my mind expanded beyond human understanding and all of the secrets of the universe became known to me. i realized that i am one with all things, time and space are imaginary constructs and that there never was any stomach pain, indeed there was no stomach at all, only a troublesome imaginary organ in an imaginary body whose illusion keeps me from full harmony.

such are the rewards for those who survive great peril. and there you have it; the worst drive home ever.

Friday, May 25, 2007

sobblog squatter

so i'm home a little early from work on account of the memorial day weekend and decided to check on the ol' blog and see how it looks after my most recent post earlier today.

guess i must have been zoning out when i typed in the address because instead of going to my blog,, i ended up at the site of the original S.O.B.

curious, i decided to see who this person was that caused my friend Steven to have to insert "the" in front of my address when he brought this website into being for me.

this particular blog seems to have died a quick death; looks like the author only posted for a week at the end of May 2004 before giving up on it or leaving Earth to astrally explore other worlds or whatever caused a cessation of new material. so there's not much of a printed record to give us insight on the mind behind the writings; still, let's try and see what can be gleaned.

the author is/was a female attending some sub-par law school in Ohio and seems to have migrated there from Seattle, which she apparently likes/liked considerably more than whatever Ohio town she is/was in.

oh yeah, and she also has a pretty foul mouth / mind; those sensitive to discussions of "blue" topics and words you can't say on network TV should steer clear of her musings. for those of brave spirit and curious nature, go ahead and read her five posts for a quick peek into a world of self-loathing, sexual frustration, familial resentment, and general irritation/anger toward assorted associates, strangers, and educators.

Look, this is why you can't walk at graduation

intrepid grammar reporter in the field Steven Harms recently served notice of this article to me concerning students at a Fort Worth high school who were protesting being excluded from graduation commencement ceremonies due to their inability to pass the TAKS test.

here is the picture that accompanied the article:

listen, children, this is why you cannot walk at graduation.

i would go further; to me the photo above is evidence of the need to be held back a year. high school graduates should not fail basic proofreading of the signs that they (or their parents, as the case may be here) choose to display in public as their own handiwork.

(on a side note, what is the deal with sloppily-prepared protest signs anyways? you have some point about which you are passionate enough to stand around on a street corner during your own free time yet all you can manage to offer the passerby is lazy black handwriting on white poster-board with the words just strewn about in a seemingly haphazard fashion? you've gotta put some showmanship into your message if you want anyone to acknowledge it for more than a split second)

Thursday, May 17, 2007


hi all, haven't posted in a while so i thought i would drop something in to show that my blog existence continues to persist, though in general hibernation at the moment:

- quick note about what in general has been keeping me off the blogosphere:

Grace and I have been in the hunt the last couple of months for our first long-term debt contract whose principal exceeds our annual salaries.... i mean, in the hunt for our first house! We found a well-designed one-story down just south of Houston, the commute from there to downtown being currently the least of all the Houston freeway evils.

I have tried to go through this the right way; I even, after unsatisfying hodgepodge efforts during free moments at work to look at mortgage lenders, took a full day of vacation to stay home and make numerous emails and phone calls until i found the right lender and best deal. can you not see that i am serious!!? (points to anyone who can identify that reference)

Currently scheduled to close on the sale at the end of this month but won't be moving into it officially until the later half of June. time to go buy a lawnmower. and a bed frame. and the widescreen TV i've been wanting for a while. and some new living room furniture. and a kitchen table.....

- quick FOX News rant:

displayed on-screen in large font during an article about the search for the three missing G.I.'s in Iraq:


(cue me gritting my teeth about the lack of oversight)

- quick note about maturity and clothes:

there is no denying it: i am thirty years old and i have reached that point in my life where i have a fairly strong opinion about the design and construction of dress shirts.

for me, the key distinction of a good shirt is not color or pattern or whether the collar is buttoned-down or not; to each his own in those matters.

no, the cornerstone of a dress shirt (at least for the modern business casual employee) is this: the placement of the second-most top button in the middle of the shirt. you know the one i mean, not the top button that chokes your neck and you have to button up if you're wearing a tie; the one below it is the king of business casual shirt buttons.

properly placed, the king button allows the open-neck portion of the shirt to spread out to a short but relatively narrow V up towards the neck; this exposes a moderate amount of undershirt (or chest hair, if you go European with your dresswear) and keeps the collar of the shirt more neatly held near the sides of your neck.

if the designer places the king button too high, though, the V spread takes on a more extreme obtuse angle and the collar tends to not sit as well, not to mention the fact that a highly-placed king button can obscure the undershirt entirely and make it look like maybe you should be wearing a tie but you're not so what's up with that Mr. GQ?

this is all brought to mind because today i'm wearing the most expensive dress shirt i own; a Kenneth Cole, i believe. despite its premium cost, i've decided that it's the worst dress shirt i own because its king button placement is severely flawed. the king button is nearly up to the bottom of my neck; if, as right now, i leave it unbuttoned and rely on the button below it (the prince button?) which is a good ways down toward the top of my chest, i start getting this 1970s V-neck spread, very long. if i didn't have an undershirt on i think i would be required to be wearing a long gold chain around my neck and probably also be doused in cologne.

another problem with the Kenneth Cole is its regrettable collar size ratio (this is another key element of a good dress shirt, but not quite as crucial as the king button)

there are two main lengths in my mind of a dress shirt collar:
1) the height of the inside collar (where the shirt rises up around the outside of the neck
2) the height of the outside collar (the traditional flap of fabric that folds down and makes the traditional "collar")

i haven't put thought to paper on the actual mathematics of it but in general i'd say that #2 should be probably about 7/5 as big as #1. properly ratioed, #2 will stand up on your shoulders and look fairly crisp. if #1 is much too short or #2 much too long (or both), then the collar tends to spread out wide (again much like 1970s fashion dictated) and the whole collar looks a bit deflated.

i have a closetful of Stafford dress shirts i bought years ago, probably from JC Penney for half the cost of the Kenneth Cole, whose design in king button placement and collar ratio is just about perfect. just goes to show that high-visibility brands don't always have what you need; as for the Kenneth Cole shirt, i've ignored it for a long time but i think today is the day i decide not to wear it anymore (maybe for an event that requires a tie, but then again maybe not as it still suffers from bad collar ratio).

there you go, more than you probably ever cared to consider about men's dress shirts.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bugs the Pug

the Sobczak household welcomed in a new guest last week: a 5 1/2 year-old, personality-filled black pug named Bugs!

Bugs, along with another pug, had been living with a family with zero percent knowledge of how to properly take care of pugs, as evidenced by their history of leaving both pugs outside all day. in Texas. (fyi - because pugs have short snouts they can't cool themselves off as well as , say, a golden retriever can and are prone to dangerous overheating).

To that family's credit, they voluntarily turned Bugs and Maximus over to Pug Hearts, a pug rescue non-profit foundation recently established in Houston. Pug Hearts takes in abused or abandoned pugs and puts them into foster homes (like ours) until a suitable adopting home can be found for them.

Grace and I visited the foundation's owners' home last Sunday for one of their periodic board meetings and were able to meet up with many of the other pugs under Pug Hearts' care at the moment. It was pretty much pug crazy over there, probably about twenty or so pugs in attendance, good times were had by all.

Bugs is a quintessential pug: expressive face, loud snorting, loves being around people; after a long day at work you'd think you were the greatest thing since sliced bread from the freaked-out happy reaction he gives you when you walk through the door. He also behaves very well around our cat so he'd be a good candidate for a lot of different homes. Here's some pics of the little guy:

Friday, April 13, 2007

curse you fox

it's just criminal...

on Fox NEWS subtitle underneath video feed of news report:

"Apples Used to Distract Panda's during Health Checkups"

spot the error? congratulations, you must have graduated from elementary school.

hey Rupert Murdoch: quality control, you jerk!!

Monty Python & the Newly Rediscovered Humor

most people already know that the clever chaps of Monty Python put together some very humorous pieces of work; for me, the movies were a bit more entertaining than the T.V. show maybe due in part to some of the television skits being predicated on the viewer having some in-knowledge of British politics or society or whatever.

the first Monty Python movie i ever saw was Monty Python and the Holy Grail, during my teenage years; having watched it again not too long ago, i made note that the funniest part of the movie to me during the re-viewing was not the same scene that had left me in stitches during the first go-around (that being the Black Knight hilariously losing all of his limbs in combat with King Arthur, with no accompanying loss of bravado).

the scene whose dialogue had me cracking up most recently was one that i recall barely registering during my first time watching The Grail; it's probably typical, when younger you find more humor in visual gags and simpler setups and as you age you become increasingly more aware of subtle humor, wordplay, etc.

what was formerly known to me as "the part that is one or two scenes before the Black Knight part" is now the "humorous look at probable real-life reactions of the populus to fairy-tale-style methods of ascendancy to control over a country or people". to spread the wealth and hopefully put a smile on your face , i share the transcript of that scene here

ARTHUR = King Arthur
DENNIS, WOMAN = common peasants sifting through a muddy crevasse

(please employ British accents in your mind as appropriate when reading; also, the best parts have been placed in bold for emphasis of the truly masterful bits of writing):
ARTHUR: Old woman!
ARTHUR: Old Man, sorry. What knights live in that castle over there?
DENNIS: I'm thirty seven.
DENNIS: I'm thirty seven -- I'm not old!
ARTHUR: Well, I can't just call you `Man'.
DENNIS: Well, you could say `Dennis'.
ARTHUR: Well, I didn't know you were called `Dennis.'
DENNIS: Well, you didn't bother to find out, did you?
ARTHUR: I did say sorry about the `old woman,' but from the behind you looked--
DENNIS: What I object to is you automatically treat me like an inferior!
ARTHUR: Well, I AM king...
DENNIS: Oh king, eh, very nice. An' how'd you get that, eh? By exploitin' the workers -- by 'angin' on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic an' social differences in our society! If there's ever going to be any progress--
WOMAN: Dennis, there's some lovely filth down here. Oh -- how d'you do?
ARTHUR: How do you do, good lady. I am Arthur, King of the Britons. Whose castle is that?
WOMAN: King of the who?
ARTHUR: The Britons.
WOMAN: Who are the Britons?
ARTHUR: Well, we all are. we're all Britons and I am your king.
WOMAN: I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective. DENNIS: You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship. A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes--
WOMAN: Oh there you go, bringing class into it again.
DENNIS: That's what it's all about if only people would--
ARTHUR: Please, please good people. I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?
WOMAN: No one live there.
ARTHUR: Then who is your lord?
WOMAN: We don't have a lord.
DENNIS: I told you. We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.
DENNIS: But all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting.
ARTHUR: Yes, I see.
DENNIS: By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs,--
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
DENNIS: --but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more--
ARTHUR: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!
WOMAN: Order, eh -- who does he think he is?
ARTHUR: I am your king!
WOMAN: Well, I didn't vote for you.
ARTHUR: You don't vote for kings.
WOMAN: Well, 'ow did you become king then?
ARTHUR: The Lady of the Lake, [angels sing] her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying by Divine Providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. [singing stops] That is why I am your king!
DENNIS: Listen -- strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
DENNIS: Well you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: I mean, if I went around sayin' I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me they'd put me away!
ARTHUR: Shut up! Will you shut up!
DENNIS: Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I'm being repressed!
ARTHUR: Bloody peasant!
DENNIS: Oh, what a give away. Did you here that, did you here that, eh? That's what I'm on about -- did you see him repressing me, you saw it didn't you?

that's the kind of humor that i respect; writing that takes a concept you wouldn't think twice about in the context of fictional tales (Lady of the Lake making Arthur king. sure, why not?) and turning it on its ear. classic

Thursday, March 22, 2007

sci-fi teethbrushing

like most adults who meet a minimum standard of personal responsibility, i brush my teeth three times per day (my normal level is twice but having been afflicted with braces for the last year and nine months it's somewhat of a necessity to brush after lunch at work so as not to be physically repulsive to those around me during conversations).

and like some i have moved into the world of motorized tooth-cleaning apparati; i had used a pretty inexpensive disposable-battery-powered brush for a while, but recently my wife bought me the same one that she uses, the Oral B Sonic Vitality. still pretty inexpensive, something like $20, but does the job well enough.

i love the fact that the Vitality has a timing mechanism; once you turn it on, it runs for two minutes and then delivers a pulsating wind-down signal to let you know "ok that's good enough for now, stop brushing before you go through the enamel and start hitting dentine." i have come to accept that i require this external source of discipline for my tooth care; i'm just waiting for the dental products industry to develop a floss that wraps itself around my fingers and compels me to do the extra in-between-tooth work.

The $20 investment also moves me out of the realm of Duracell AA's and into rechargable battery territory; what i did not bargain for in this purchase was the ensuing sense of puzzlement that this toothbrush set has provided in that regard.

the toothbrush is made of solid, hard plastic; at the bottom of the toothbrush is a small recessed cavity. the recharging station is a simple affair; an entirely plastic base upon which is fashioned a small plastic peg.

Recharging station peg A fits into toothbrush cavity B; in this manner (as pictured on the link) the toothbrush is left to recharge over the course of several hours.

now i was never a man who particularly excelled at the sciences but the times in which i have mused about or witnessed examples of battery power and recharging, it was always strictly a metal-to-metal contact point affair.

what manner of dark arts is Oral B tampering with to achieve battery recharging with all-plastic components? i'm not exactly sure, but somehow i feel there's a military application for whatever it is they've created. maybe Oral B is a subsidiary company of Raytheon...

anyways, i'm sure the simple answer is out there on the interweb but for now i'd like to stay in my blissfully ignorant cocoon, continuing to believe that Oral B has signed some pact with the devil to make The Toothbrush That Should Not Be (Recharging).

anyone care to burst my bubble with some truth?

Pre-judging someone: the commuting way!

i know that we are all human beings out there (except for the animals and plants) and that everyone by default should have a chance to present themselves fully before any character judgments are assessed about them, but if i'm driving behind you on our nation's roadways and one or both of these items adorn your car....

1) sticker of Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbes fame) urinating on some logo or symbol - to communicate your personal disdain for whatever said urine-soaked logo or symbol represents

2) a pair of large metal testicles ( "brass balls", possibly?) hanging from your trailer hitch - to communicate just what a larger-than-life sum'bitch you are

....i have no choice but to deduct 50 respect points (for each infraction) from your total character score. i'm sorry, them's the rules.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

offbeat poetry

6:45 a.m., bathroom, on a workday.

it was almost beautiful in a way, an exhibition of motion and the dimensions and interactions of separate objects in a fixed space.

a used-up toothpaste tube, all its resources extracted, its purpose as container fully met; its final destination a trashcan, as it should be.

so simple, a casual toss of the tube into the small refuse bin and the cycle would be complete.

but cottony two-ply fate, soft and plush, suspended above the bin, intervened. the tube's flightpath to the bottom of the bin interrupted, the absorbent roll momentarily taking in the energy of the tube's downward force then giving it back in equal and opposite measure.

a new course for the tube now, its rendezvous with other discarded toiletries temporarily stayed. gliding through the air on a new arc, with the poise and precision of a circus acrobat, to the waters of the adjacent toilet.

a perfect dive, expertly moving through the seat's negative space, not once touching the white porcelain, its motion undisturbed, flawless in execution.

gentle splash, then all that remained was the toothpaste tube in water, staring up at me as i stared back down at it and contemplated the strange new task i had not previously imagined would be asked of me in this life.

Monday, February 12, 2007

the same thing happens every year....

....i get one year older.

today i am 30; the number two is, from this point forward, limited to a periodic supporting role in stating my age ( at 32, 42, 52, and so on).

please join me in thanking my twenties for all of their hard work; they were pretty good to me, all things considered.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Birthday up in hizz-ere, fo shizzle

hey all, those of you that know my lovely wife Grace would not be incorrect in wishing her a happy birthday if you did so today!

(i suppose the same would still be true for any of you that don't know her but i wouldn't think you're emotionally invested enough to seek her out to deliver birthday well-wishing)

her day started the way any deserving birthday girl's should:

A) birthday kisses from our dog Pugston (followed by him standing on Grace's stomach in bed and stretching, i'm not really sure what birthday-related sentiment he was trying to convey with that action)

B) 'Happy Birthday' sung perfectly in tune just for Grace by someone with pipes that once rocked a perfect Playstation Karaoke score on Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline"

C) a birthday card with a sunglasses-wearing puppy on the outside cover and personal writings on the inside simultaneously smooth, funny, and heart-meltingly tender

due to some online order processing problems (thanks Google Checkout!) the gift originally scheduled to have come in yesterday will not be arriving until February 5th.

so there you have it, that's the way we do birthdays up in the Sobczak household!

happy birthday babe, love you.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

a post to interrupt the silence

hey to all who might occasionally stop by this blog to see what's going on. sorry that this site hasn't exactly been a font of interesting and/or humorous anecdotes lately; just feels like 2007 has gotten off to a quick pace in terms of work and all the other things that consume your time after you leave the office on any given workday.

also contributing to the decreased post factor of late have been my efforts to actually get away from my desk at lunch and be social with others. i really need to move this whole blogging operation out of the lunchtime slot and into the "at home watching TV" segment of the day.

rest assured i have a few post ideas that have been simmering on the backburner for a while now so if i can get myself organized (and get our finances in order, and complete our tax returns, and so on) i'll stop being a deadbeat and start providing moderate entertainment value again.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

B to the E ( to the C.O.P.)

worked late last friday during the post-Christmas work week; came home around 7:15. went in the door, petted our domestic animals, kissed the wife as she prepared the evening's meal.

no more than a few moments later, what do we hear from the parking lot but the holiday sounds of "Help!" being shouted across the complex. assessing the situation from our window, i saw a mid-20s-ish couple running from the direction of our building towards the guard station at the front gate. shortly thereafter we went out on the balcony and, as the couple returned, asked the question with the known-in-advance answer: "is anything wrong?"

the reply was this : "there's someone in our apartment!" our neighbors across the hall had gone downstairs to see what was going on and help out so Grace had me call the cops and then sent me out as well, dual-armed with standard-issue suburban-hero pepper spray and 9-iron.

apparently the couple had both just returned home and, upon opening up their front door, immediately heard someone moving around in one of their rooms (hence the prudent and hasty relocation from the apartment to a more public area where they could call attention to the matter).

their apartment is on the first floor of our building, facing the the outside of the complex (which is bordered by a tall but not unscalable wrought-iron fence). the Breaker & Enterer had popped in one of the smaller bedroom windows to gain access to the place. by the time the militia was assembled Mr. B & E had had plenty of time to make his escape on foot, disappearing back to wherever he had come from. we looked around the area and didn't find anyone hiding underneath a car or anything. nobody, myself included, was volunteering to take a look inside the apartment.

i had just driven down our complex's street a few minutes earlier and saw no getaway car, so more than likely the perp lives right across the street; comforting.

after a few minutes of milling around and checking to make sure that i was holding the pepper spray correctly so that i didn't have one of those moments of painful comedy when trying to hose down a meth-addicted burglar, the cops pulled up. the female cop took the lead in going to the door while the male partner (who, while tall and fairly big, had a Harry Potter-esque face complete with glasses that said 'new recruit') brought up the rear with the police shotgun.

now, i realize that the situation was not "cool"; i.e. the violation of privacy and security, the possible loss of valuable goods, all in all not a good event for those affected.

but... there's something hardwired to the brain, or at least to one belonging to someone who's played Doom or any other serviceable first-person shooter, that when you hear someone ready a shotgun with the instantly-recognizable "chi-chit" of a shell being loaded in the chamber, one part of you will think "". it is unavoidable

long story short, the cops searched the now-personless apartment (fyi , at least in Houston it appears that the current phraseology for police before searching an area is "Police. Make Yourself Known") and found nothing.

we later learned from Officer Potter that there has been a rash of break-ins at our complex and another across the street.

our downstairs neighbors are getting out of their lease penalty-free although they're leaving without the laptop, iPod, or engagement ring that they once had.

Grace and i have been planning to look for a home this year; no better motivation to start i suppose.