Archive for May 2005

May 25th, 2005

I’m a Lumberjack and I’m Ok

If a tree falls in the Witchgers’ yard, because they’re cutting it down with chainsaws, does it make a sound?

Yes. Yes it does.

Here’s how I know: Mom and Dad have graciously offered their house as the location for Steph and I’s rehearsal dinner next year. Awfully nice of them. “Of course, we’ll need a completely new deck before then,” Mom quickly added, as her eyes wandered out to the old one.

Mom and Dad…they’re crafty…for old folks.

So our big “family project” for the summer is reconstructing their deck. Step one was to cut down the trees that were in the way. Mainly, the 175-foot tall poplar that stands just a few feet from the existing deck (and the house). Of course the 100-foot white oak will have to come down too, since the poplar won’t fall to the ground with it in the way.

I’m sure most people would hire an experienced, fully-bonded service to come in and do this. Dad didn’t. He claims to have called some places. But every quote was just a little more than he wanted to spend…. Honestly, I think they could have offered to do it for free and it would have been too steep for him. I think he wanted — no, needed — to do this himself.

After all, we do come from Michigan, a state that revolves around tree-chopping, a state so deeply immersed in the culture, history, and folklore of lumberjacks that I was actually taught that Paul Bunyan was the first president. (Boy, is that wrong. The first president was, of course, General Robert E. Lee. Thank God the North Carolina school system set me straight.) I can still recall learning about lumberjacks in grade school. The units lasted for months. To be big and hairy and walk around all day, swinging an ax…by the end of the year every boy in class (and possibly some of the girls) wanted to be like that.

And I only lived in Michigan until the second grade. Dad was exposed to this for 38 years.

So last Saturday Dad, Kevin and I dawned our sacred flannel shirts and — with help from an insane neighbor named Glen, who assured us her knew what he was doing — we ran guide wires all up in the trees and over to other trees and in all directions, ’til it looked Spiderman had tried to build a web in our backyard…after a night of heavy drinking. Then Glen and Dad — who was looking more and more worried that his house was going to be demolished — started up their chainsaws and cut a big “V” in the trunk to make the tree lean away from the house. Kevin and I were on the other end, right where the tree was supposed to fall, ratcheting these come-alongs that tightened the guide lines and pulled the giant tree in our direction…. “You’re ready to run out of the way, right?” we repeatedly asked one another in nervous voices. Then came the cracking, like gunshots. And in a few seconds the tree was falling and we were all diving for cover.

I’ve never experienced something that big or heavy falling before. There was an actual “whirrrrrr” as it cut through the air. The crash shook the ground.

And, thanks largely to dumb luck, things came down exactly where they were supposed to, both times… The poplar missed the sickly pear tree that Kate had planted years ago by two whole feet.

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May 16th, 2005

Bored Games

I’ve always found Pictionary to be too easy. I’m not trying to be arrogant here. I feel I can say this because, well, I’ve devoted my life to the practice of representing people, places, and things by putting lines on sheets of paper. There is no single activity I have done more in my life than that. Add in the four and a half years of art school and, well, at this point, if someone puts me in front of a dry-erase board and a group of guessers and says “Draw something that will make them say ‘chicken’.” I can scribble out something that will make them say “chicken.”

Conversely, when I play Pictionary, it’s usually not all that challenging or fun for the people who are guessing.

(Imagine a scene where everyone is laughing and having a good time with this wacky game. Then it’s my turn to draw.)

Timekeeper: “Ok, you’ve only got one minute! And… Go!”

Guesser 1: “Ok, ok, it looks like an animal. Um….”

Timekeeper: “55 seconds left.”

Guesser 2: “It’s some kind of bird! Ha-ha!”

Timekeeper: “54 seconds.”

Guesser 3: “Chicken!”

Me (recapping the marker and sitting down.): “Yes.”

Timekeeper: “52 seconds left.”

(Disappointed silence.)

Well this all about to change. Kaiser, Megan, Steph, and I put our heads together a few weeks ago and came up with Artist’s Pictionary. (I’m pretty sure we were drinking beer at the time, which should account for most of what I’m about to tell you.) We decided the game could work one of two ways. Either:

a) You get an object to draw and an artistic style to draw it in. (Example: Chicken in Neo-Cubism).


b) You have to draw an abstract concept. (Example: The Id.)

After the guessing there’d be a speed crit where each of the guessers would have 30 seconds to tear the artist a new one, then you’d move on.

Doesn’t that sound like a fun game! It totally makes up for the fact that I spent my childhood holed up in my room all alone!

Ok, while I’m salivating just thinking about it, most of you are either completely lost or convinced this is the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard. But this could be just one in a whole line of elitist board games. Here are some more possibilities:

  • Operation for Surgeons
  • Battleship for Naval Officers
  • Clue for Police Detectives
  • Scrabble for the Multilingual
  • Monopoly for Bill Gates

It’s brilliant! And, for those of you reading this (both of you) and scheming your schemes, there will be no crazy-getting-of-riches for you. And certainly not quickly. This is our crazy-get-rich-quick-scheme. We thought of it first. It’s trademarked and patent-pending. And we’ve got lawyers. Big, scary lawyers.

They’re in the back room.

Playing Trouble.

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May 10th, 2005

It Snot Like I Can Help It

Today I’m writing with wads of tissue shoved up both nostrils.

“Yeah, I noticed. What’s that about?”

Um. I’ve got this bloody nose. ’Cause I got into a bar fight this morning. The guy was like three times my size. You should have seen it.

“Wow. You’re pretty tough.”


“Wait, a tough guy who keeps a little diary on his website?”

Yeah. Um…I… Ok, ok. You got me. It’s my allergies. From late April to early June my nose does nothing but run. (Unless there’s some public event or function I’m attending — anything where it is important that I make a good impression and not disgust people — then my nose gushes uncontrollably…and I quickly run out of Kleenex…and it’s all downhill from there.)

Everyone is always telling me I just need to try Claritin or Allegra or some other new allergy pill that the rest of the world just swears by, but I have yet to find anything that really works for me. I’ll admit that, occasionally, if I take several times the recommended dose, I get a little better. But when pollen really wants to make me it’s bitch, there’s nothing any drug out there can do about it.

The only medication that consistently works for me is Tavist-D. And I believe this is only because it’s difficult to feel the effects of allergies when you’re in a coma. If I took one right now, I’d be out until mid-August. At that point all the pollen would be gone, so, in a way, I guess it does relieve allergies. Unfortunately I just can’t afford to go erasing months of my life right now.

“Come on, you really should try some of the fine new drugs on the market. They’ve just reduced the prices to $40 a box.”

All right, who are you exactly, and what are you doing on my website?

“Why I’m just a kindly, neighborhood medical professional. I appear whenever a physical ailment afflicts you. Especially when you can be helped by everyone’s best friend, medicine. Here I’ll give you a few free samples to start you off.”

I don’t know.

“Come on. You’re not a chicken are you? Just try it. Everybody’s doing it.”

Wait a minute, you’re from a pharmaceutical company, aren’t you?


(Sound of evil laughter disappearing into clouds of smoke.)

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