Monday, December 29, 2008


So here we are, midway through the holiday season, and I’ve realized that many people on my list of to-be-gifted have not received their flashy-paper-wrapped mystery bundles. Being the Scroogey person you all know me to be, I’ve decided that this year’s gift will be cheaper than coal, but hopefully give you just as warm an all-over feeling…I’m updating my blog!

Merry Giftmas!

Let’s begin with a holiday season montage of highlights.

That’ll be $50.00
Giftmas is a time to be with family, getting the things you want that family to give you. Due to several mis-giftings in the past, my family instituted a new Giftmas policy: buy what you want and save the receipts, you will be reimbursed. Thanks to this new and highly efficient means of not knowing my family’s whims, Mom got the yoga mat and bathrobe she apparently always wanted. I love you, Mom!

The Grapes of Wrath
I’ve never liked grapes. At an early age, I developed a deep skepticism of ovular fruits. It’s their pack-mentality; fruits which travel in hordes should not be trusted, they’re plotting something. Of course, don’t forget they can be turned into raisins and inserted into cookies where chocolate chips should go. That’s my biggest beef with the grape, it was in my Giftmas cookies this year. How? I don’t know.

Linton, North Dakota?!
I won’t even pretend anyone has heard of Linton, ND. If- for some unfortunate Trivial Pursuit reason- you know where Linton is, now is the time to sit on your hands and keep that information to yourself… blurting out any Linton factoids at this time will only cost you “cool points” or whatever imaginary currency you and your friends exchange. If you don’t exchange any such monopoly money, you’re that much cooler. So please, people, do not turn to whoever is nearby you and say “Linton? Isn’t that where Phyllis Wolverton was from? You know, the contralto, trained under the world renowned Madam Schumann-Heinck who became the director of the Linton High School Glee Club while teaching English and History.” Also please avoid admitting knowledge of Charles Patterson- Linton’s hotel mogul (owner of the one hotel (now a motel) in Linton)- who, in 1906, went to Minneapolis, MN and bought Linton’s first automobile, drove it back to Linton, and almost as soon as he entered city limits, got in the first Linton automobile accident when he crashed into the city’s prized bull on Broadway. It should be noted he was speeding- a full 2 mph over the city limit of 8. Authorities believe he was drunk. (Please see if for some reason you think I made any of this up) Why bring up Linton? Well, it proved to be the powder-keg igniting topic on my flight into the heart of NoDak.
For Giftmas this year, my family decided to celebrate in Bismarck, ND with my grandparents. Not wanting to spend 7 hours on cruise control, staring ahead blankly at scenery that can only be described as “blank,” I opted to fly instead. Since I expected a MSP airport filled with roving tribes of Home Alone-esque families waging war on one another over who was first at the Cinn-a-bon counter, I arrived a bit early, in as complete of riot gear as I expected the airport authorities would permit without pulling me aside into the little clear cubicle where they demand to see your underwear’s elastic and ask you if you have latex allergies. There was almost no one there. Economic Depression: 1. Holiday Hassles: 0.
Gate A14. That was my destination. Sounds front-of-the-airport enough that a person might be a tad surprised to discover the actual location of aforementioned A14 is at the absolute end of the last terminal. There is an outer boundary of the MSP airport, and I found it; no food court, no Starbucks, not even a vending machine filled with carby delights. This A14 is where Linton, ND becomes relevant, not because it is in Linton, but because that is where a tired british man who just wanted to be left in peace met Earl; as Lintonish a Lintonite as there ever was.
Earl is somewhere in his 30s or a very unhealthy 20-something. He was D-R-U-N-K on the plane, the type of drunk that needs to be spelled out in capital letters, each one accompanied by a little drunk hiccup. Drunk. Earl sat across the aisle from me (I was seated next to the much-too-large-for-his-seat-where’d-the-armrest-go? guy.) next to the window. Next to him sat a very well-dressed and tired-appearing gentlemen. Wolf Blitzer beard, Burberry eye glasses; a real dapper bloke. When Earl introduced himself, the man seated next to him made two fatal mistakes: 1.) He answered Earl’s “where-er-oo-eaded?” with “Linton, North Dakota” and 2.) He used a genuine British accent.
Earl’s droopy eyes lit up “LINTON, NORTH DAKOTA? S***, I’M FROM LINTON, NORTH DAKOTA YOU BETTER GO TO THE GREEN LANTERN YOU EVER BEEN TO THE GREEN LANTERN I LOVE THE GREEN LANTERN!” This proceeded until our unfortunate British friend demanded Earl leave him alone. A few curses were exchanged before our flight attended moved Earl to the back of the plane (where the awful swears wafted forward on a bed of boozey breath) and served the complimentary sodas. Ah, Northwest. How your commitment to quality inspires us all.

Tucker Max
I received the gift of Tom this year. Yep, one whole week of finding little Tom waiting at home for me by the front door jumping up and down with eager anticipation of the walks I will take him on every day so he can sniff the sniffables and stretch his little legs. Tom is well-known around these parts for his natural charm, political correctness, sunny disposition, and not-naked-at-inappropriate-times-ness. Having a Tom is a wonderful experience, but sometimes Toms can be bad. If a Tom is especially bad, consider Tommy Obedience School (TOS).
Take today, for example. I arrived home to discover Tom cleaning my house. Good, Tom. Then, he told me stories about his first night here. Bad, Tom, Bad! No Treat for you! Tom next made dinner; trout with prosciutto and butter sauce. Good, Tom. Then he recommended a movie to us Good, Tom. More goods than bads…the newspaper can be unrolled. But I’m watching you, Tom.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Home Sweet Home

The blog is back from hiatus! I know you missed it. All those sleepless nights you spent staring up at the ceiling, wondering if it was every coming home can finally come to an end. If you got your local dairy farmers to put its picture on the side of their cartons, be sure to notify them that it’s ok to start printing the Moo-Maze again. That trip to Kinkos you had planned for tomorrow can be crossed off your schedule. Go ahead, throw out the template flyer you made; it’ll bring you a sense of closure. With the blog home, we can move on to the more pressing matter of determining an appropriate punishment for the little bugger. I can’t tell you how worried I was; the torture I went through was truly ineffable. So please think about appropriate punishments for the blog while you read.

If it helps, think of the blog as Ginger Spice running away from the other Spices (aka us) to try and make it big on its own. Ol’ blog forgot that it’s nothing without us though. Nothing! So this entry is sort of like Ginger realizing she’s not all that (or the bag of chips, Scary Spice is totally the chips) and agreeing to a Spice Girls’ comeback tour ( Thus, I think it’s only fitting if we adhere to the following ground rules:
1. If you want my future forget my past,
2. If you wanna get with me better make it fast,
3. Now don't go wasting my precious time,Get your act together we could be just fine
If you can agree to those terms, I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want. What do I want, you ask? I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna reallyreally really wanna zigazig ha.

This year was my first ever experience of all things deeply fried in Carney oils. Candy bars, cheese curds, scotch eggs, various on-a-sticks, and the curiously corn dog-like “pronto pup” (I smell a lawsuit…nope, never mind. That was the great big turkey sandwich drizzled in BBQ sauce, sprinkled in Cajun spices, and dripping with grease-a-liciousness) all found there way into my craw (because no word is more appropriate than ‘craw’ when talking about fair food) with the help of a few gulps of fresh squeezed lemonade and a swig from the water fountain. A chocolate bacon may or may not have been consumed in my time at the fair as well (don’t judge me!). Of course, what meal could be complete without the fragrances lurking in the animal barns? Swine smells, sheep scents, cow colognes, poultry potpourris, and even rabbit redolence; there are no better aromas for ensuring a satisfactory acid reflux. *Burp*

I had 4.

There were some foods I just could not muster the requisite bravery to try. At the top of my Do Not Eat That Thing Under Any Circumstance list: the frozen pickle juice popsicle, any and all seafood items (who honestly trusts the shrimp salesman who operates out of the back of a horse trailer? Seafood should only be purchased from restaurants required to pass health code inspections! If you are a Minnesota citizen, please write your senator to prevent the deep friend shrimp on a stick from making a return next year), the deep-fried mystery mammal, and anything which could be purchased at the convenience store for 1/3 the price.

Ok, so domesticated is a stretch. I’m rather certain that some of the people I saw were tranquilized by the Minnesota DNR (or by Vladimir Putin, taken from their wilderness habitats and relocated to the Fairgrounds for the viewing pleasure of the masses of urbanites. There’s no other way to account for the milling herds of bedraggled…something-or-others. The dredlocked, mohawked, bearded, mulleted, balded, and other such strangely tufted creatures were all out in their finest short shorts and tank tops for the festival.

No matter how they were dressed or- in some horrible cases- not dressed, everyone had one thing in common; the willingness to pay $11 for the supreme joy of squishing against other bodies into some sort of human lipid bilayer (that’s some science talk for all you biology majors out there!). Throw in the oversized stuffed animal prizes and you’ve got a fluid mosaic model analogy that Minnesota high school teachers everywhere silently wish they thought of. Elise, I give you full permission to use my brilliant idea…so long as you pay me royalties. I accept double pinochles.

Of the many different tribes I saw, the bewildered family of four with two kids on leashes was my favorite. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a tethered, teething two year-old being dragged on his/her bum back to mom’s side so she can feed the wee one a bit of slushy. Kids are so precious!

Actually, I’m moving a bit to the West, but since I’m still east of Fargo, would you cut me some slack? I’ll make you breakfast in my wondrously spacious new home. You see, Prospect Park and I must, sadly, part. BUT, my new home in Uptown more than makes up for the Autumn move. Please check out the photo tour at to see where you can find little old me. Same roommates, great new location. And now, stained glass windows. HOO HA!

There it was, sunning its lovely self at Lake Calhoun with the rest of the Labor Day Weekend vacationers. It looked ready to take a nap, and I realized that the beach was no place for a double sawback to fall asleep. Bird do-do, waves; dripping popsicles; greasy, ketchupy, mustarded hot dogs; and all assortments of sweaty people posed too big a health risk to Mr. Jackson. I had to save him, so I picked the little guy up and deposited him in the nearest noodles and company cash register where he could get a decent night’s sleep. The people at Noodles & Co. were so amazed by our act of kindness that they rewarded us with two heaping bowls of carbohydrates. All in a day’s work.

Way to go Tom! You know what I’m talking about. Hero.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Blog Numero Dos

The Bigger Better Blog
Dear Faithful readers,

I am sorry for yesterday’s entry. Upon a second reading, it really wasn’t quite up to snuff. Much to short, rather unsubstantial, and definitely not one of the better links I’ve used in a thinly veiled attempt to distract you from actually reading. I’ve gotten a bit rusty. I guess there’s only one thing to do; get out the oil can lube up the ol’ joints and try, try again.

I just got back from South Dakota, a region often confused with North Dakota by non-Dakotans. The best way to distinguish between the Hearty Proud Dakotans of the North and our awkward Southern cousins is to compare the architecture. If you find yourself inside buildings made out of corn, you’re in South Dakota. Here’s an example:

Oh, sure, it looks exciting, but if you recall a certain three little pigs story, you realize how unwise it is to build structures from flimsy cellulose-based materials in regions of the world known to serve as habitats for:
It’s just not a good idea. We in the North know not to challenge the lung capacity of Canus lupis bigus badius. Our buildings are made from brick and the wolves leave us alone. Corn is for eating and corn cob pipes, not for building.

Also, they have an obsession with blowing up mountains to turn them into giant people. Again, this is risky business. What if those giant presidents come to life? All it’ll take is one lightning storm and this could happen! DEFINITELY NOT SAFE FOR BABIES OF ANY KIND!!!! (There’re some swears and not so family safe images)

It’s science people. There will be no corn for anyone. South Dakota, you really need to do a better job of thinking about the future!

Finally, in North Dakota, you may sleep wherever you choose. Not so in SD. There, it is illegal to sleep in cheese factories! Who are these monsters?!

So now that I’m back in the forward thinking, normal, but oh so exciting state of ND, I am preparing for my newest voyage. Tomorrow, I seek out the lands of Minnesota where I will begin my job as a people inflator. Yes, there are many other aspects to my job- knob twisting, button pushing, switch toggling, etc.- but the most noticeable thing about what I do is the person inflating. You see, surgery these days is not as messy as it used to be. Nowadays, some surgeons have opted for the laparoscopic route. That’s your word of the day, laparoscopic. Basically, it means that surgeons fill your belly with air and then poke a camera and some instruments in there to make you all better. Much cleaner than the old method that I’m sure you’re all envisioning right now, so there’s no need for me to describe. BUT, the new method cannot be performed without people like me running some of the various machines.

In preparation for this job, I’ve been practicing my skills at the arcade. Crane games for hand-depth perception coordination…and the occasional stuffed animal for defending me from bedtime monsters. Pinball to teach me patience and hone my reflexes to samurai-like precision. Dance Dance Revolution is teaching me how to handle nurses barraging me with thousands of commands (if I’m ever asked to arrow up arrow left arrow left arrow up arrow down arrows right and left arrows up and right arrow left arrows up and down arrow up arrow left arrow down arrows right and left arrows up and right arrow left arrows up and down arrow up arrow left arrow left arrow up arrow down arrows up and right arrow left arrows up and down arrow up arrow left arrow left arrow down arrows right and left arrows up and right arrow left arrows up and down, I’ve got it covered!). I even find a bit of time in there to practice assertive driving with Parking Ramp Perils 3: Rise of the Sub-Compacts. Yeah, I’m ready.

I’d say one the biggest perks of the job is the attire. I’m being paid to wear pajamas all day long. Enough said.

What else is there to report? Hmmm….I’ll think about it some more and return with another blog later. If I strain myself now, I might be out for the rest of the blogging season.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? It’s not Sioux Falls, SD. I know, I’ve checked.

I have once again taken to the road in search of treasure, glory, and adventure. This week, I found myself in the luxury of a SD Comfort Inn. To my right, the sights, smells, sounds, and other “S” words of South Dakota. To my left, a cup of rooibos tea.

Shakespearean Understudy for Romeo and Juliet: What, pray tell, is this rooibos tea of which thou doth speak?

ME: Uh…who are you? And how did you get in my blog?

Shakespearean Understudy for Romeo and Juliet: I know not how to tell thee who I am. My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, because it is an enemy to thee.

ME:…uh huh. Reginald put you up to this didn’t he? He gave you his spare key so you could get in here muddle everything up with your “doths” and “thines” and codpieces and other ridiculousness. You’re working for Reginald aren’t you?

Shakespearean Understudy for Romeo and Juliet: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell just as sweet.

ME: Really? You’re going to do that? I swear, if you do nothing but recite lines from Romeo and Juliet, I’ll—

Shakespearean Understudy for Romeo and Juliet: Oh, swear not by the moon, the fickle moon, the inconsistent moon—

(A struggle takes place off stage. There is much shouting and many yelps of pain. Paul returns to the stage. He is out of breath, but victorious)

Sorry about that, Romeo and Juliet belongs in 9th grade literature books, not my blog. So where was I? Ah, yes, pulling one of my patented What-Was-The-Point-Of-That?!™ openings.Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with South Dakota’s water supply. I began to suspect something was awry a few days ago when I noticed I’ve been doing many things recently which are highly uncharacteristic of your garden-variety PaulStorm.
I’ve been waking up around 5AM
I have NOT been rolling over and back into my sweet slumber at 5:01AM
I bought a pair of Crocs. They are as comfortable as advertised; if you are croc-less, I recommend you get off your high fashion horse and buy a pair.
I’m opting for tea over coffee. Rooibos, by the way, is an excellent remedy for colicky babies. If you have or are yourself a colicky baby, Rooibos will make it all better. If you are a colicky baby, are you reading this blog unsupervised? If you are, do not go here, it’s for mature adults: I’m serious, baby!
I’m working?!

Yes, I recently joined the ranks of the tragically employed. No longer will my days be filled with mindless, free, flash games. No more reading for 5 hours and then taking an unearned nap. The days of lounging in my skivvies till 3PM are gone. I am now a productive member of society. What do I do? Well, I push buttons on machines worth much more than my annual salary. One button fills a person up with air. Another, fills that person up with even more air. Too many pushes and…well…let’s not talk about that. There are babies present, afterall.

If you are confused, I am afraid you will have to wait till tomorrow to find out more. Why? Because I am most exhausted from all the button pushing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I’m not ignoring you; I’m just looking out for my health.

There was an article in the New York Times recently about the health risks of blogging. In particular, it causes premature death. Yes, death. Please read the attached article before you go on. There will be a quiz, so don’t scan, or pretend like you read. This is 30% of your final grade.

Some of the more smart-alecky members of the class are probably asking “Ok, so that accounts for the last 3 days of bloglessness, what about the weeks that went by before this article was written?” Well, to you I say details shmeetails. If that’s not good enough for Toooooommmmm, I also recently began transcending time and space. Does that satisfy you? It’s a little hobby I started dabbling in during my month-long stretch of free time. Yep, nothing quite like a random act of not-using-your-noodle *cough* Dodge *cough*Aries’ *cough* are *cough* bad *cough* cars *cough* to free up a month of your life for things like taking advantage of Einsteinian Spacetime.

Also, I am sad to inform you all that the Indiana Event alluded to in the previous paragraph will not be appearing in the next edition of Harper Publishing’s American History: A Textbook. “National Significance” is not as easy a standard to meet as you might think. I know. I was shocked to. If Two North Dakotans, a handful of strange Michiganians (Michiganites? Michiganers?), and the Indiana State Patrol isn’t enough, I don’t know what is.


Besides pondering all that stuff, I’m currently sitting in a Starbucks connected to the hotel I stayed in last night. Why you might ask? Well, I was TOLD my automobile would be ready for me yesterday. So I arrived yesterday, expecting to be seated at the helm of my noble vessel later that day. When I called the body shop, they assured me it would be ready to go by 5:00.

“That’s not so bad,” I thought to myself. “I have a book with me that I wouldn’t mind knocking off a few chapters of.”

127 pages later, and very near to 5:00, I received a phone call. “oh goody, my car is ready!”

“Mr. Storm?”
“Yeah, hi this is Todd from the body shop. You’re not on your way over here right now are you?”
“I was actually just about to call a cab. Is my car ready?”
“Ok, uh where are you right now? Are you in Gary?”
“…Yeah, is my car ready?”
“Ok, listen, uh your car, well, it isn’t going to done today, so what I’m going to do is come pick you up and take you to a hotel for the night. Where are you?”
“A restaurant off of Broadway.”
Ok, if you could go to the south corner of 5th and Broadway, I’ll pick you up there. It’s real easy to find, there’s a police camera mounted on a pole right there. I’ll be there in 12 minutes. Oh, I drive a new, Ford 350. it’s red.”
“uh, ok.”

Now, while I certainly appreciated the complimentary pick-up-and-take-to-a-hotel gesture, I found it odd that I had to go stand underneath the police camera. That seems like a location where crimes would probably occur more often than, say, the corner that the police camera is AIMED AT. That particular block of downtown Gary, Indiana, as it turns out, is not exactly Sesame Street. It didn’t help any that an angsty adolescent wearing a dog collar and a very metal-filled I-know-something-you-don’t-know grin walked past me. Twice. It also didn’t help that many Gary-ans own red Ford pickup trucks. So 12 minutes went by and a red Ford stopped at the intersection. I started to walk toward it and it drove away. Not Todd.

When Todd finally did arrive, he explained that there was some variety of latch on my vehicle which is not doing as it should i.e. latching. When I asked the mechanic how long it would be before a new latch could be put on my car, he explained that my car was a very “unique” vehicle. That is Auto-Shop-ese for:

“What were you thinking when you bought this thing?! Don’t you realize how impossible it is to find parts for the 2004 Grand Prix?! It’s probably the worst year of the vehicle you could have possible chosen because everything before 2003 was a different body shape and in 2005, Pontiac changed a bunch of the parts it used, your latch included. In other words, we have to find an identical 2004 Grand Prix. Moron.”

Auto-Shop-ese is an economical language.

No, my car would not be receiving the crucial latch until sometime tomorrow (i.e. today). A latch had been discovered in Michigan and was being FedExed to Gary. ETA 11:00 AM. These things happen, I guess. No point in getting too worked up about it.

Todd dropped me off at a very nice hotel. I know because it had an atrium which attempted to create the illusion of a tropical getaway. They played a $2.99 soundtrack of exotic animal noises (some of which people would find rather alarming in an actual tropical setting. Jaguars do not make soothing sounds). The pool was set in the middle of an artificial grotto complete with cascading waterfall, cabana awnings, plastic plants, two too-tiny hot tubs, and fiberglass rock formations which were exceedingly climbable despite the “NO CLIMBING” sign. Overlooking the tiny facsimile oasis was the Tiki Bar. Yes, this would do nicely. In a chintzy environment such as this, I could forget about latches AND Gary, Indiana. But first, food!

The restaurant in the hotel was an Irish pub. I had no idea Ireland was so jungle-ish. I must visit someday!

So after an evening of pampering myself and determining my SleepNumber (35), I awoke expecting to have my car waiting for me. It was not. The latch never arrived so they had to drive to somewhere to go get a different one.

So, here I sit. In a Starbucks. Waiting. My phone is turning itself off randomly. Indiana hates me. There’s no other way to dice this one. None.

3:52 PM: Huzzah! My car is ready. Allegedly.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Make some space on the shelf right next to The Illiad

Here it is! After dozens of minutes of revisions and cheeks for spelling and grahammatical accuracy, I can now proudly present two ewe…The Odyssey of Tom and Paul! Yes, my epic transcontinental journey back to the land of my forefathers after voyaging deep into the heart of the barbarian Eastlands will be unveiled to you in all its two-dimensional, bloggy glory.

Prepare yourself a flagon of mead, leg of lamb, and figgy pudding! Arouse the knights and nobles; escort the women of the court to the Great Hall! Command the jester to adorn himself in the frumpiest of multicolored one-pieces, and commission an especially absurd hat with bell tassels for him to wear! Make Haste! Avast! And other exceedingly dated slang terms!

Alternative for individuals not trapped in a medieval time warp:
Fill up a tall glass of cran-raspberry juice, make a grilled cheese sandwich, and open an individual serving sized refrigerated Jello pudding cup! Bring the laptop into the kitchen or other space where you are most likely to find your housemates! Someone put on a retro-90s super ridiculous winter hat (yes, 90s are now retro)! Get on it G-bomb yo!

Crash Course in Epic Tales
If there’s one thing I took from being an undergrad, it’s the inevitability of seemingly unnecessary and convoluted rules. THUS, in accordance with the rules of the International League of Traveling Bards (ILTB), this entry includes the following 8 Elements of an Epic:

1. The hero is a figure of great national or even cosmic importance, usually the ideal man of his culture. He often has superhuman or divine traits. He is greater in all ways than the common man….ahem…for sake of consistency between reality and the demands of literature, you are encouraged to envision UND Sioux Goalie Jean-Phillipe Lamoureu playing the role of yours truly. Please refer to: if you need any clarifications about his magnificence.

2. The setting is vast in scope, covering great geographical distances, perhaps even visiting the underworld (South Bend, Indiana), other worlds (Brennan’s), and even other times (3:35 AM).

3. The action consists of deeds of valor or superhuman courage (especially in Minneapolis bars, Holiday Inn Express Lobbies, and Kia Sportages).

4. Supernatural forces/gods interest themselves in the action and intervene at times.

5. The style of writing is elevated, even ceremonial. Amenway.

6. The writer invokes a Muse to provide him with divine inspiration to tell the story of a great hero. Normally, I would call upon my personal muse, Reginald, but ol’ Reggie left a note yesterday announcing that because he is now “Assistant to the Regional Manager” of Shoebox Greeting Cards, I’m on my own…. Fine, Reg, that’s how you want to play it? Then I’ll be calling upon the 2008 NME Best Live Band: MUSE! Please be sure you’ve downloaded “Hysteria” or “Knights of Cydonia” so that…MUSE is present during your reading…MUSE! You hear that Reginald?! Who’s clapping for you Reginald? Who’s clapping for you?!

7. Use of the epic simile. While a standard simile is a comparison using "like" or "as." An “Epic” or “Homeric” simile is a more involved, ornate comparison, extended and having great detail, like an anaconda…um…moving through the underbrush…um…of your subconscious…um…with an umbrella made of mysteriously mysterious…stuff… yeah, ok, yeah that’s a pretty good warm up simile. They’ll get better later. Pssst, Reginald? If you have time, text me a couple of starter similes. Please? Buddy?

8. Heavy use of repetition and stock phrases. The poet repeats passages that consist of several lines in various sections of the epic and/or uses Homeric Epithets (short, recurrent phrases used to describe people, places, or things). Both make the poem easier to memorize. I could do something witty here, but I’d rather wait to spring this trap upon your unsuspecting ankle as a sneaky spider that does wait before leaping upon its victim with the utmost tenacity and vigor. Thanks, Reginald. *wink*

Okay, so beginning…nope not yet…okay… now! I, your orator of great renown and esteem amongst his peers who doth reside throughout the imaginary realm bound within his crania, upon which doth rest a tuft of ever-decreasing, unkempt brown locks, magnanimous hairs which do gleam with the sheen of a fine pomade purchased with farthings and pence acquired through the most noble of endeavors, do call upon the mighty muse, MUSE, to assist him in recalling the voyage of two brave men. Men who struggled against the Fates. Men who knew not fear when faced with nature’s forces. Men who praise and abide the gods up until the gods see fit to hurl tiny pieces of hail toward the eyes and other vulnerable parts of the body. Men hearty enough to endure the influences of beverages of both the caffeinated and non-caffeinated natures, and the ever-unwavering keepers of taverns. Men who knew not the limits of mortals; not exhaustion of the flesh, nor pain of the spirit. Nay! Neither idleness of mind nor the fiery will of those that would oppose their successes have ever prevented these models of masculine perfection! These, pinnacles of strength! These, all around pretty alright guys!

This tale of truest valor has been outrageously embellished, that you might come to understand the galactic truths which lay within its velvety folds. These words, a garment so luxurious its touch intoxicates one’s very understanding of cashmere, may lead you to places in your soul never before lit by the light of…um…shiny, shiny, bright-up luminescence stuff! Indeed be warned that you will question whether you possess the courage, the force of will, the RESOLUTION to procrastinate until the final chords of MUSE sound and the final punctuation soothes your eyes into a slumber of deepes- ok, that’s it, I give up! Homer?! How in the world did you talk like this for DAYS about a guy who got lost while tooling around in his boat and not find yourself impaled on a pike by the bored townsfolk you bamboozled into giving you food and shelter for the night?! I’m sorry but we may have to tone down/scratch Epic Element 5.

DAY ONE: Lucille the Tempest
I and my most esteemed travel companion (whose name is herein redacted to T. so that T. might still have a chance to forget the many horrors of our excursion and thereby save himself many a sleepless night.) collected the necessary objects for our journey into the spacious back seat of his Ford Focus, enjoyed one last home-cooked meal (Tombstone Pizza) and departed from the land of Far-Go. T. set our heading due East toward the great Twin Kingdoms...and directly into the heart of a most treacherous winter tempest, called up by the goddess, um, Tabitha. No, make that Lucille. Yes, Lucille, angered by our arrogant ambition to reach the sanctuary of the Twin Kingdoms in under 3 hours threw ice, snow, and exceedingly slow-moving motorists into our path. The mighty Ford Focus proved its mettle, however; placing us safely into the fold of our old companions, N., D., and J. Upon our arrival, we discovered N. deeply hypnotized by the CGA presentation of that most familiar and beloved tale of Beowulf, his Dorito-dusted left hand absently scratching his ear as Beowulf delivered fatal blows to the evil eater of men, Grendel. That reminder that good always prevails energized our spirits and comforted our hearts as we made our final preparations for the continuation of our voyage East.

DAY TWO: “Ain’t no way you’re gettin’ through MLK without someone tryin to pop dat trunk at a red light.”)
From the great sky port of the Twin Kingdoms, we departed for Atlanta. To go East, you must sometimes first go South, wait, and then battle turbulence, motion sickness, and colicky babies as you go North. Such was our voyage.

In Atlanta, our need for victuals navigated our ragged bodies to the tables of Sam Adams’ hostelry. Southern hospitality has a particularly unique flavor in Atlanta’s sky port- the goblets of brew were stale; the Nachos Supremo were far from. I’d rather not recall the hamburger since it tried to recall itself shortly after consumption and still I fear its ghost.

In Baltimore, we sought out the services of one of the local rickshaws. A man from the furthest reaches of the known world (“Me? Topeka. Hate Bahluh’more, but it ain’t Topeka, so that’s something that’s going for me or some shit like that. You want stuff in the trunk? Lock’s broke an’, jus sayin, we’re takin’ MLK boulevard an’ aint no way you’re gettin’ through MLK without someone tryin to pop that trunk at a red light.”) escorted us to his carriage and sped most intrepidly toward the commercial center of the city where he deftly weaved between the various vehicles occupying the road. At times, we exceeded 60 mph and indeed a ragged creature did attempt to open the trunk at a red light. Many of those moments occurred in regions that the nobility of Baltimore had decreed no creature may move faster than 30 mph under most extreme penalty of law.

We eventually came to the gates of the residence I was finally leaving forever. We crossed the threshold of my domicile and quickly fell into dreamless slumbers.

DAY THREE: “That? Probably just a homicide.”
I packed what possessions seemed most urgent to bring home saying farewell to the larger furniture that would not fit in my Pontiac. T. arranged an evening bread breaking with his kinfolk. We arrived and enjoyed a wonderful feast of many pastas and then retired to the home of said kin for reminiscings and obscure Scandinavian liquors. At the end of the evening, T. and I returned to the roads of Baltimore and soon found ourselves mere feet from a great tragedy. A half dozen or more members of the caste of guards had circled their chariots round a body laying in the street. An event I have come to be far too comfortable with observing. T. however immediately recognized the event for its significance, reminding me that I’ve lived far too many sunsets in Baltimore.

DAY FOUR: “So is this a sign that I shouldn’t have quit, or just proof that Indiana is the worst?”
After many hours of navigating the Great Roads, we entered Indiana and took a quick meal with the kin of our mutual acquaintance, R. After leaving the godforsaken land of South Bend, which seems to be the place all other villages export their potholes to, we continued West…until exit 23 on highway I-80 near the tiny hamlet of Portage, Indiana.

Once again, the gods commanded events to thwart our journey home. In the not-too-early, very well-lit midday hours - a time when human beings are most alert and ready to react to whatever may befall them- the gods disabled our carriage. A mighty 2004 Pontiac was crippled under most disastrous conditions.

We had stopped at the turnpike to pay the tax levied by the lords of the Great. These gates with rumble strips, flashing lights, large warning signs, and the countless other indications that now is a very good time to apply brakes and come to an easy stop- it is not surprising that a 1980 Dodge Aries- bearing the raw materials for making crude methamphetamine in its trunk- might not recognize the insistence that it stop was more than a suggestion. While paying my farthings to the gatekeeper, the Dodge Aries plunged into my carriage’s generous trunk space, launching my Pontiac forward as a billiard ball might shoot forth from the impact of a cue ball.

After checking T. for injuries, I leapt from the vehicle to determine the cause of this newest malady. 7 curious creatures alighted from the Dodge. A man adorned in spiky metal ornaments, a collar of the variety often found on dogs, and a mashed green mohawk began to console the driver. She bore similar aboriginal ornaments and a haunting tunic wove from the swampy darkness of an OzzFest mosh-pit awaiting the discordant sounds of some unheard-of garage band hired to fill the time Ozzy Osbourne requires to properly liquor himself up before explaining to the crowds of miscreants the origins of Iron Man. These two were soon joined by a member of some other, though closely related tribe. A thin man with dark circles painted over his eyes, the beginnings of a bear belly, and crying out in pain as he rolled on the concrete claiming back pains from a recent surgery, dragging on a cigarette between the howls. Two blubbery globes of humans emerged from the back seat to assist in the nervous cigarette smoking. Finally, a pair of fully grown Labradors exited the Dodge.

Once the Indiana guards arrived, it became clear that this band of travelers:
1. Lacked insurance for the Dodge
2. Lacked license plates for the Dodge
3. Lacked “brakes” for the Dodge
4. Lacked knowledge of their exact whereabouts (they were operating on the assumption that they were in Wisconsin…please refer to a map of the USA if you need to confirm your suspicion that those two states do not share a border)

The strange hodge podge of persons was deeply admonished by the guards, assured they were wholly responsible for the crash, and their vehicle’s cache of meth-making materials was duly noted before the group was sent to the local apothecary for ointments and salves to cure their whiplash.

My Pontiac was towed to the local inn. The keeper agreed to discount our room for the evening, recognizing the deep furrows of anguish which marked our faces. T. and I later departed for the tavern just down the road where we met a gnome-like creature whose love of the Chicago Cubs was exceedingly evident in his manner of dress, though his origin- Germany- was mistaken by T. as being a speech impediment and not an accent. In the wee hours we retired to our sleeping quarters, the tavern keeper giving us each “to-go cups” for our drinks. That’s all I have to say about that.

In the morning we hired the services of a Kia Sportage. While transferring our luggage from the Pontiac to the Kia, it began to hail. Looking up at the Heavens, I considered my options for which deity to curse. I was promptly struck in the eye with the aforementioned hail. I put my head down and grumbled as my Kia filled up with my possessions, the Pontiac left to wait in the parking lot for a tow truck that would take it to a body shop.

Off on the Great Roads again, we soon reached Madison, WI. There, we battled ridiculous odds to reach Brennan’s: an oasis of fresh foods and fine cheeses where we acquired the items desired by my father. The phone conversation went something very literally like this:

Me: Hello?

Dad: Hello?

Me: Yeah Dad?

Dad: HelloooOooo? Well what’s wrong with this thing

Me: Dad!

Dad: Oh, oh there you are. Can you hear me good?

Me: Yes, dad I-

Dad: Oh, you sound very far away. Talk into the phone. Are you talking into the phone?

Me: Dad, turn up the receiver volume on your phone.

Dad: Oh, how do I do that? Nevermind, just talk louder, can’t you just talk louder?


Dad: You haven’t gotten to Wisconsin yet have you?

Me: …NO…

Dad: Well, if you get a chance (translation: Do this), why don’t you stop by Brennan’s and pick up some jellies. Boy, if you could bring home a few jellies that would really be great. They have really good jelly. Have you ever had their jelly? Hey! Are you listening to me? Paul?


Dad: Oh, well you didn’t say anything for awhile. I wasn’t sure if you were still there. Anyway, the jelly there is really quite remarkable. So if you could pick me up a few jars of jelly, that’d be really appreciated. Can you do that for me? Can you pick out some jellies for me?


Dad: Oh, I don’t know. Use your judgement. Some Huckleberry jelly would be really good though. Oh and the Boysenberry is also excellent. There are so many kinds; blueberry jelly, raspberry jelly, blackberry jelly, huckleberry jelly. Did I already say huckleberry jelly?

Me: So how ma-

Dad: Paul, speak up! I can’t hear you.


Dad: $100 worth should be good.

Me:…a hundred dollars worth of jelly?!

Dad: *chuckles* Yeah, about a $100 should be good.

Me: Anything else?

Dad: Oh, if you can, how about a few six packs of beer. Use your judgment, I’m sure you’ll find some good stuff. Of course, it’s all very good. Very good stuff at Brennan’s.

Me: Uh huh, so where exactly is Brennan’s?

Dad: You remember don’t you? And speak up you’re cutting in and out.


Dad: It’s on University. University is a street with a whole bunch of shops on it. Brennan’s is on University.

Me: Ok, Dad.

**Hang up. Dial Mom.**

Me: Where’s Brennan’s from the interstate? Dad wants me to buy a hundred dollars worth of jelly and beer when I get to Madison.


Jelly purchased, the remaining drive uneventful, we eventually reached Minneapolis.

The end.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Excuses, Excuses

Reginald, Get Back Here!
I’ve tried to start this blog a few times now, but every attempt sounded too convoluted or too watered down or just plain boring. It’s as if my creative muse has left me to fend for myself on this one (yes, I have a muse. His name is Reginald. He’s one of the lesser known muses. Got picked on a lot as a wee muse at muse school.). Actually, Reginald really did leave me. Apparently when you can’t afford to pay your muse’s monthly fee for more than 2 months, he goes in search of someone else to inspire with his whimsical whisperings. Start checking the new Shoebox greeting cards, I have a feeling Reginald is working for them now. Sell out.

So, since there’s no supernatural chauffer ensuring that my train of thought doesn’t derail into ridiculously boring terrain (When it happened in the past, I wasn’t worried. I could always blame Reginald. He’s a terrible driver.), I’d recommend you open the following link . Consider this my lifeline to you. Not really, but it is a curiously addicting game. Especially for people who have difficulty concentrating on any one thing for more than about 15 seconds. If you’re slow at switching gears, it might not be quite what you’re looking for. I’d advise those people try going here instead . Yeah, I know! Crazy, huh?

Ok, so now that I’ve hopefully diverted everyone away from my sub-standard writing, I can blog in pea- Oh, you’re still here… Huh, I really thought those links would have sent everyone off on internet tangents…. Could I interest you in…this? No? Damn! Alright, fine. Here’s the blog:

The Impending Apocalypse
I thought we'd go with something a bit lighter than my usual banterings, but then I found out the Maya decided to end the world in 2012. Some of you may not be all that savvy about Mayan mythology. It’s ok to admit it. We all get busy in our lives, and sometimes we just don’t get around to stuff we’ve been meaning to; dusting the plants, alphabetizing the recycling, reading up on end-of-the-world oojie-boojie, etc. (Un)Fortunately for you, I’ve had enough free time- as of late- to get the low down, the 411, the skinny, and all sorts of other slang terms I should not be using but have chosen to anyway for the purpose of making Tom Johnson smack his forhead and say “Damnit, Storm! Stop that!” Apologies to those of you who do not like to read cuss-words. If Reginald were here, I would have had something much more audience-friendly in place of that “Damnit.” Damnit, I did it again…

Ok, so the basic gist is this: The Maya really like time. Seconds, minutes, hours, days weeks, months, years, decades, epochs, eons, eras, ages, if you name it, they’ll time it. They also really like math. So already, the Maya and I are not exactly on the fast-track to friendship. They’re in the one category of nerds so far beyond me and my own love of acquiring factoids and trivia that I can legitimately bully them! And I would totally atomic wedgie them and then take their lunch money were it not for two facts; a.) They’re mostly died out, and b.) they’ve got so much science backing up their claim that 2012 is the end of time as we know it that picking on the Maya might cause their scientists to come to my house and fork my lawn…well, they’d probably do something a lot more sinisterly science-y to it, but you get the idea. I do not want Stephen Hawking deflating the tires on my car.

ANYWAY, the Maya have calculated a lot of ridiculous stuff way off into the future (eclipses within a few seconds, the appearance of comets to within minutes, etc., etc.). Their track record of a few thousand years makes them sort of a good source to check with about things pertaining to time.

Their calendar stops on December 21, 2012.

STOPS! It wasn’t like they got bored of their time keeping hobby and finally got around the inventing the wheel (they NEVER invented the wheel). Eugene the Mayan didn’t drop the stack of stone tablets the calendar for 2013-3045 was recorded on. No, the calendar STOPS. That’s it, that’s all there is. The finish line for the game of Life is 2012 and I haven’t even started looking into potential midlife crises yet.

The Maya include a bit of an explanation for this 2012 stop date. They say that our solar system is going to eclipse the naval of the galaxy on 12/21/12 around 11:00 PM standard time. When that happens, we’ll be cut off from some sort of fundamental cosmic energies and time will stop.

If that sounds like a bunch of neo-New Agey gobbledy gook, I sure hope you’re right. But if you’re lodging your argument in a bed of physics, it’s not looking good for all the science-o-philes out there. The solar system actually will eclipse the center of the galaxy (whatever that means) on 12/21/12. And that apparently will cut us off from some variety of cosmic radiation that’s been gently showering down on us for the last 26,000 years. I don’t know what that really means or entails, but this is one of the few occasions where stopping the universe from drenching my cells in radiation sounds like a bad idea.

The various scientists are also muttering something about the polarity of the planet reversing (south is the new north) by 2012 and an intermittent period where the planet has hundreds or thousands of poles all over the place before South and North finally settle down in each other’s old homes. Think Trading Spaces. I recommend you all go out and buy larger bird feeders because if your yard turns out to be a South or North Pole, you may be responsible for the well-being of a few hundred thousand Canadian Geese and other migratory species. I sure hope you like Monarch Butterflies. Millions of them.

Also in the magnets category of the apocalyptic jeopardy board, there’s some sort of ‘crack’ in the magnetic field around the planet. The magnetic field, apparently, absorbs the ‘bad’ cosmic radiation (yeah, there’s good and bad cosmic radiation. News to me. For the sake of imagery, imagine a lot of yellow smiley faces and green Mr. Yuck faces falling on the Earth. Like Skittles. Only in two flavors. And some sort of skittle eating…thing wrapped around the planet eating the Mr. Yuck Skittles…with a crack in it…this metaphor isn’t really going anywhere…how about a fluid mosaic model cell membraney kind of thing with a hole in it. Does that work?) This ‘crack’ is letting bad cosmic radiation in. So not only are we losing out on the nutritious, yellow smiley face radiation, we’re getting a heaping, steaming plate of Mr. Yuck. Yuck.

THERE’S MORE! A Supervolcano underneath Yellowstone National Park is getting ready to explode, we’re overdue for a mass extinction (every 62-65 million years, most things die), there’s an upcoming sunspot cycle peak (in 2012) which will be bigger than any other in recorded history (they can trace sunspot cycles back a few thousand years because of some sort of information found in ice cores drilled in Antarctica) that will up the amount of radiation hitting the planet from the sun (I thought you were on our side sun! Remember the good ol’ days when you were in the Raisin Bran commercials?!) by outrageously large exponents of anything we’ve had before, and we’re (our galaxy) drifting into an energy cloud of some variety…which we should be smack dab in the middle of in 2012. We’ve never really inside of an energy cloud before.

So am I a bit…unnerved? Yes. Throw together all this scientific stuff going on, that the Maya think 2012 is the end of the world, The Bible Code (a code discovered in the Old Testament which has so far withstood every criticism science and math has thrown at it. There’s a book by the same name about the mathematicians who tried to disprove the code only to discover a LOT of ridiculously eerie and creepy stuff in the O.T. like an acrostic containing the names of 66 significant rabbis, each intersected by their birthplaces and dates of birth and death) also says 2012 is the end, the I Ching considers 2012 the end of time, and on and on and one gets to thinking; “how seriously should I take all this voodoo ‘science’ and ‘prophecy’ stuff? Should I change my thoughts on how to use the next 4 years of my life so that I feel like I got the most out of existence while at the same time not leaving myself in a position where I’m totally broke in 2013 should that year come circling around?”

It’s a puzzle. On the one hand, people screaming about the sky falling usually turn out to be among the duller knives in the drawer. I mean, how many times has someone come forward with an end of times prophecy only to have some serious explaining to do when everything was very noticeably not Armageddonized the morning after? But I was a boy scout (made it all the way to Webelo), and was taught by my troop leader to always be prepared. So should I start building a subterranean bunker and stocking it with food, music, batteries, Cranium, Pinochle decks, Scrabble, and Chuck Klosterman books?

Read Lawrence E. Joseph’s book, Apocalypse 2012: An Investigation into Civilizations End, and give me your thoughts please. I really need some help on how panicky I should be getting.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

SIgns, Signs, Everywhere are Signs

Signs I may be the reincarnation of Robin Hood

When you become unemployed (or as I like to call myself, a not-for-profit freelance entrepreneur), it frees up a lot of time to pursue activities that have very little practical value. Most recently, I’ve been refining my parlor games skills. Air hockey, cribbage, Indian leg wrestling: the usual. I’m hoping to start hustling people in their homes next month. I’m so going to clean up if anyone suggests putting money down on a game of Old Maid or Catch Phrase.

Also in my repertoire/arsenal of games is darts. Yesterday, during my third hour of- alright, alright, fourth hour of darts- I threw a dart INTO THE BACK OF ANOTHER DART!!! As in, the point of the dart got lodged in the back of the other dart. Never mind that that dart was in the “1” section of the board, I threw 2 darts into the exact same spot on the board! I have photographs and an eyewitness to prove it.

My immediate thought about this nigh impossible event was to move to Loxley of Yorkshire, round up some Merry Men, find a guy named John, rob him on a bi-weekly basis, and give the pounds and pence I pilfered to the pouting poor public (say that 5 times fast!). Don’t worry, I realized that would be a silly thing to do since I’d have to live in a tree with J-Bo (my obvious choice for a Little John), adopt an English accent, and train a bunch of endearingly unhygienic peasants in the ways of combat and toothpaste. Hmm…besides the peasants, that doesn’t sound so bad…

Signs indicating I may be a hobo

I recently decided to give my beard another chance to show its multi-colored glory to the world (Red, white, brown, and black are in there somewhere). It’s in that awkward seedling stage just beyond 5 o’clock shadow. I realize this may be contributing to my lack of success in the “get a job, ya bum” category, but I thought it might be fun to have some bearddage again. It’ll probably go by the end of the week, but I’ll do my best to hang on to it.

Signs indicating I may be Martha Stewart

1. I cleaned the house quite thoroughly.
2. I started baking bread and other confectionaries
3. I know what a zester is for and what a rotary whisk looks like
4. I’m engaging in insider trading

Signs indicating I’m Arnold Schwarzenegger

I recently started going to the gym twice a day. That’s right, Paul has gone from no gym time to future Ironman. Well, at least half-marathon. We’ll see after that. Part of the reason for this is that I can’t run for more than 20 minutes without becoming so bored that I start looking around the weight room just to see what everyone else is up to. That is NOT a safe thing to do on a treadmill, elliptical machine, or anything that requires ‘balance.’ I’m also of the opinion that if I’m running, when I finish, I should be somewhere else. My weight hasn’t changed too much, but it has moved around a bit and I can now sit up hundreds of times in a row. Not entirely sure what that’s good for, but if all these people are doing it, there must be something that requires repeating the same maneuver over and over. Although, I’m starting to believe that working out is just the act of moving heavy things around so that I can get better at moving heavy things around so that I can get even BETTER at moving heavy things around. I think it’s some sort of scam.

Signs I may be a library

I’m reading (simultaneously)
-Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
-The Jesuit and the Skull by Amir D. Aczel
-I can Read You Like a Book by Gregory Hartley
-The Indispensable Noam Chomsky, a collection of speeches by Noam Chomsky
-The Evolution of Human Morality by Richard Joyce
I know what’s going on in each book (I think)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wakuwa Vuka (When you fall, rise again)

It’s about as cliché as you get, but boy does it ever make you think. Yes, this will be one of Paul’s long-drawn reflections on life.

I resigned from my position with the high school I was teaching at. For a myriad of reasons, I decided I could not continue to burlesque as a teacher when I’m not one. I’ll get into some of those reasons throughout this composition, but some need to percolate in my head a bit longer before I toss them up for judgment.

Now that I’m unemployed in a city I haven’t felt particularly comfortable in, I’m torn about what to do. Do I finish the year here by working in a coffee shop, bookstore, or other ‘entry level’ position? Do I pack my car and go in search of chance? Do I book a flight home, and ‘enjoy’ some sub-zero temperature therapy? This is that quintessential movie-moment where the protagonist has to make a choice that will set the tone for the rest of the film (At least, that’s how I’m looking at it.). The problem is life doesn’t operate like a movie: There’s no guarantee that I get a satisfactory ending. I know that I’m thinking a little too “big picture” and concentrating on what is way off in the uncertain future when I should be thinking about the right-here-and-now (read, looking for a job), but I can’t help it. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. There’s a number of you looking at this thinking “Enough already Paul, you’re not any different from me. I graduated and my immediate thought upon getting my diploma was ‘well now what do I do?!’”

I guess I’m stuck on this because here I am wondering whether what I really did was fail, or if it was an example of making a hard decision, one that doesn’t seem to have a ‘right’ answer or even a ‘best’ answer. Or perhaps my whole framing of life is wrong and theses aren’t even the questions requiring answers. 

If I did fail, then how do I ‘get back up?’ What does that look like? By quitting, did I admit defeat and choose to quit the game. Or was quitting the falling down part? How big picture/little picture am I looking? Does it even matter? Ai yai yai, Paul! Enough already, go to the part where you’re not thinking so hard!

Well, fortunately, I can! Between the last paragraph and this one, I took a break and went out to lunch at my favorite restaurant in Baltimore. Gia’s is a tiny, family-owned, Italian joint on a corner in Little Italy. It opened pretty recently, but the word-of-mouth reputation earned by the tiramisu (I would commit a range of felonies to get my hands on it. Fortunately, they sell it, so I don’t have to.) has generated a small body of regulars. Me included. When I sat down, the owner, Gia, was surprised to find me 1.) alone, and 2.) sitting down for food when I should be at school. I told her about quitting and trying to decide what my next steps should be. At some point, she either called her mother, or her mother called the restaurant. That doesn’t matter, the point is, I was given the phone by Gia and found myself talking to “Momma.”

I should side track here for a moment and explain that Momma is often at the restaurant and the two of us hit it off one night. Anytime I ate at Gia’s, Momma takes a few minutes to check in with me and see how life is going.

Ok, so Momma heard that I resigned and demanded that I leave my phone number at the restaurant so she can call a few of her friends and see if there’s anyone around who can help me out with finding some work out here in Baltimore! Yeah, definitely the little bit of sunshine and good fortune I needed to boost my spirits a bit. Add a piece of tiramisu, and it was a good, good start to my afternoon.

Well, after Momma and I chatted, I gave the phone back to Gia, and a couple across the restaurant made a comment along the lines of “so are you the mayor around here, Paul, or what?” Yes, they knew my name. Gia’s father was in the restaurant so she introduced me to him and the couple overheard me. They invited me to join them at their table and we talked for about a half hour. They were in Baltimore (from Rhode Island) to see their son off before he left for Iraq. Dave was a counselor who took a bit of an interest in my story, he gave me his email address and told me I should contact him if I’m ever in the tiniest state in the country. A few words of wisdom later, I was on my way to my present spot. Latte Da. A coffee joint in Fells Point I’ve never entered before, but curiosity pulled me in.

So now, I’m going to hunt for some work and see what comes up. If nothing looks good by mid-February, I’ll probably roll back to the mid-west for a stretch afnd re-figure out my life. We’ll see.

Monday, January 21, 2008

From the basement of Sam Koelbl's

Well, it’s that time again. You’re bored, Youtube isn’t doing it for you, there’s nothing too exciting on the Facebook gossip grapevine, and you’re not interested in freezing your anatomy off. So here you are, hot chocolate in hand, probably wearing some old sweats and a T-shirt you bought to help some club raise money. Maybe there’s a blanket involved. Perhaps a cookie or two? Actually, if you don’t have these things, I think you should go get them. They sound like good things to have while reading a blog. I’ll wait. Heck, I’m going to go get those things! Meet you back here in 5 minutes.

Ok, I didn’t find any hot chocolate (who are these people?! I suppose I should explain that I’m at Sam Koelbl’s right now.), but there are some fantastic cookies in the pantry…well, said are cookies are in my stomach now.

Al Gore, you might be on to something
It’s January. That’s a month- according to tradition- that’s cold. My body sort of expects to shiver in January. So when I stepped out of my house on Tuesday of last week and found myself in a beautiful spring day (sunny, 70 degrees, birds twittering their happy little spring songs, etc., etc.), I got concerned. Really concerned. I’ll grant that I’m much further south right now than I usually am during the winter months, but 70 degrees do not all belong together in the same day in January. I don’t care where you are, winter is the off-season for degrees. They’re supposed to go on vacation, maybe work on their hobbies, read a book. You know, get rested before summertime. That’s just the way it works. So on Wednesday, when I caught a couple of degrees lounging on my front step, I gave them $40 and told them to high tail it for Minnesota because I can thing of few frigid folk in need of some Fahrenheit. Hopefully, they’re on their way.

Things got a little more normal later in the week when legitimate SNOW fell on Baltimore! I, suffering from chronic snow withdrawal, made it my mission to get in all things winter on that blessed Thursday. I made a snowman in the park with the help of a dog named Booker T. Washington (not kidding at all), and his owner, Andrea. Booker wasn’t all that much help really, he just made sure that no one who’s savvy to the old adage about colored snow would try to eat the snowman. Thanks, Booker.

Once my snowman was complete, a group of kids in the park decided it’d be appropriate to toss a couple snow balls in my general direction. Little did they know, I am an accomplished and highly decorated snow ball hurler. I may have gotten slightly carried away when I whitewashed a 9 year-old who tried to sneak up behind me, but since neither frostbite nor hypothermia was an imminent threat, I should be ok. Alright, alright, I didn’t actually whitewash a 9 year-old. I just threw that line in for the sake of paragraph length. Those of you who were envisioning me laughing victoriously while rubbing a wee boy’s face in a mound of snow should be ashamed of yourselves. Imaginary 9 year-olds do not deserve such treatment. Please take a moment to imagine yourselves apologizing to the child. Bullies.

After the snowball fight (that part really did happen. I dominated!), I was invited to take a few runs down the big hill in Patterson Park by the Pagoda (yeah, we have one of those. Jealous?). The snow was a little too sticky for a good ride, but it was fun. Not late-night sledding on the old ski hill with a bottle of firewater fun, but a wholesome fun that definitely beat what my roommates were up to at the time (XBOX 360 something or other.)

Wii is not for me
I took some time on Friday to explore the other side of Baltimore with Conor (TfA person) and some of his roommates (Not TfA people). We started our night with some shots of Amarula and a few rounds of Wii Sports games. As it turns out, I am not a particularly good bowler unless the object I’m holding is an actual bowling ball. The remote shape just doesn’t seem to trigger my innate bowling instincts. I am slightly worse at Wii tennis, and MUCH worse at Wii golf. Stupid Wii.
Once we left the game console and wandered out into the balmy Baltimore evening, I suspected that our BACs might rise to pre-graduation levels. I should have stretched more. A few games of beer pong in the back of a hole-in-the-wall bar, some shots and one or two or seven beers later, I was relatively certain that up was down and vice versa. As it turns out, I was wrong. Down is still down.

The mouse in my house
It’s been a few weeks now since I mentioned the little bugger who’s been keeping me up with his midnight snack scavenging. Reginald (I decided a nice name might get Reginald to act a little more polite), recently moved downstairs after I plugged the holes I suspected he was using to get upstairs. Reggie was last seen perusing through the overflow garbage in one of the other roommate’s room. The garbage was promptly thrown out and replaced with an excessive amount of rat poison. Reggie has not been heard from since although I suspect that he’s still out and about. Stay tuned for further developments.

Finals week!!
The students finished up their final exams this past week. Of the 90 students I teach, about 70 showed up for my test. Of those 70, about 15 passed. That’s slightly up from last year. Not enough that I can claim to have done anything particularly spectacular, but hey, at least I didn’t screw things up terribly!

Johns Hopkins
I’m still doing the graduate student thing out at JHU. I decided to finish the year’s worth of school, just in case I want to finish up my Masters. So Wednesday nights will be unbearably long, but I’m making myself stronger because of it. As some dead German philosopher said “that which does not kill us, only makes us stronger.” I don’t know why I’m taking advice from a guy who’s strength clearly must have ran out, but I’ve got to take it from somebody.

Shout Outs
Lil Buddy: Your Turn!
J-Bo: Back Door Slam!!! Listen to it and Love it!
Elise: You make me smile a smile I’ve never smiled before.
Tom: Get any good spam lately?
Johnny B: Infinite Jest is LONG! We both know what joke you might to build off that
sentence. Lies are not funny.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Not all those who wander are lost ; )

With a new year comes a new blog. And sometimes a little Tylenol.
Welcome to 2008 everyone. I know we’ve all been aching for this year to arrive. It means we have yet another opportunity to make a long list of resolutions which will inevitably be broken by 9 out of 10 Americans (someone did a study. I’m not sure, or how they did it, but I’ve been assured by a radio personality who uses sound effects such as *boiiiing* *muah, muah* and *doo dooo dooot doo dooooo* that it is a very scientific study.). Despite the odds, I have made my list of RESOLUTIONS. It is as follows (in no particular order)

Get more organized (oh, subtle irony, how I love thee).
Limit my use of profanity.
Stop half-as…I mean, putting 100% of my effort into the things I do. Phew, almost blew it!
Travel to at least 1 place not on the North American continent.

That seems like a pretty manageable list. I haven’t started yet, so look for updates in future bloggles. Why don’t they call these things bloggles? I feel like more people would have one if we called them bloggles. It sounds a lot more upbeat than ‘blog.’ That sounds too much like a cartoon bad-guy. Of course, ‘bloggle’ sounds like an absurd creature from a 1980s Saturday morning cartoon show. Hmmm, I wonder if anyone has ever pitched ABC the idea of a show called “The Bloggles.”

New Years Resolution #5:
Write and submit a script for the first episode of The Bloggles.

I returned to Baltimore from my week-long Midwest therapy session on New Year’s Eve. Worst possible day to be traveling instead of enjoying the company of friends? Yes. I apologize to one and all for my terribly responsible choice. I make up for it by sleeping in and arriving to class late. My students will never notice, they arrive 20 minutes late as it is.

I arrived in Baltimore just in time to catch a cab to my casa and see the fireworks which summon the New Year’s baby and scare away wrinkly old 2007. To Baltimore’s credit, they know how to execute a fireworks display. Nothing burned down, the best fireworks were saved for last, there were two pyrotechnics teams (one on the east side of the city and one on the west side. Perfectly coordinated I might add.), and the grand finale drowned out the noise of every dog in the city. Take THAT Captain Jack! (That’s the name of my crazy neighbor’s equally crazy insomniac dog.). Yes, the fireworks display was the exact opposite of the 4th of July show that followed my grandpa’s now infamous “Lining up all the fireworks on a metal tray right next to the spot I intend to light fireworks at is NOT a bad idea” speech. Thanks to some fancy garden hose maneuvers by Grandma (God bless her green thumb), the farmhouse and barn did not burn down.

That’s a story for another bloggle®.

Why did you get home so late, Paul?
Well, as it turns out, I am not savvy to the rules and regulations that are involved in buying a ticket with Northwest Airlines. I, being a foolish lad, assumed that because I had a connection flight in Minneapolis (my original departure city was Fargo), I could just show up at the Minneapolis airport and check in there. At this point, every single one of you is thinking “Paul, how could you not know that buying an airline ticket is the equivalent of entering a contract with the airline in which you agree to depart from a certain city. Failure to depart from said city is a breach of the formerly mentioned contract which permits the airline to choose either A.) to deny you passage on the flight, or B.) cancel your initial reservation, rebook you on the flight in the same seat as you were originally designated to sit in, and charge an exorbitant fee for booking a same-day flight.” To every single one of you, I say, “oooOOOOoooo you’re soooooo smart aren’t you?” To which every single one of you is entitled to say “Smarter than you, buck-o” so long as you say ‘buck-o.’

When I called Northwest, thinking there’d be no problems involved, I was shocked to learn they would charge me $754 for my flight home! Fortunately, I had the wisdom to demand that I be placed on hold until the next available manager could listen to my whiny plea for mercy. 10-15 minutes later, Stacy (names have been changed to protect the identities of those who spoke to me on the phone…and because I didn’t really pay attention to who I was talking too. Sorry, Susan…I mean, Stacy.) informed me that her manager, Ron (Ted? George? Stanley?), had graciously chosen to exercise his powers over the ticketing department and charge me only $100 for the change in flight. Considering who I was enjoying my last few hours in Minnesota with, it was WELL worth the money.

BUT THEN, when I arrived at the airport, I discovered that I had a ticket to Detroit, MI (originally one of my stops before Baltimore)…but no ticket to Baltimore! Confused, alarmed, and a little bit scared, I rushed through the security gate to my terminal (there was no one at the NWA counter outside the security gate. Damn self-service check-ins!) and found Marge (I remember her name because she’s my saving grace. I did, however change the name for the sake of her job). Marge was quite flustered because the flight to Detroit I was on was overbooked. When I explained my plight, she smiled broadly and told me she’d be happy to put me on the DIRECT FLIGHT TO BALTIMORE, give me a $25 travel voucher, AND $10 to be used in any restaurant in the airport. Thanks for violating NWA’s “how can we make the traveler miserable today?” code of ethics! So, meal vouchers in hand, I moseyed (Yes, I said moseyed. I mosey quite well.) to the Rock Bottom Grill, ordered a $7.00 beer and waited for my flight.

It’s almost 9:00, I have to be awake by 5:00 and there’s still things to be done tonight, so I end this one here.

Till my next threatening fan letter spurs my fingers to action,


Elise: Best Christmas Gifts EVER (Especially the scarf). You’re my favorite.

Heterosexual Lifemate: Thanks for the stir-fry! I’ll do something sweet for you the next time I see you.

Lil Buddy: boop booop boooooop boop boop

Tom: Stop sending me requests for toe-nail clippings. It’s creepy. You’re the threatening fan, not the creepy fan. Now go check your email again.

Morgan: Que Pasa?

Jolene and Chanti: WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR REUNION?!?!?