Saturday, June 30, 2007


LMJ slept through her very first movie last night. She, her mother, and I went to the Playtime Drive-In to see Ratatouille, the new Disney/Pixar flick about a rat chef. Yes, we party like rock stars. It’s a really fun movie, and I recommend it to everyone. However, the movie wasn’t the main event, the theater was. The Playtime Drive-In Movie/Flea Market has a rich history in addition to being to being a relic and a dying piece of Americana. When I first moved to Jacksonville in the early ‘80’s I remember passing the Playtime on our way to Orange Park Mall. I remember it because we didn’t have flea markets in Montgomery County, Maryland, and it was a XXX drive-in movie theater. Even as a ten year old I thought, “Seriously?” In the mid ‘80’s, as a teenager, I remember sneaking through the forest that surrounds the Playtime with a couple of buddies and confirming, “Yeah, seriously.” It was 60 feet by 40 feet of hardcore pornography. Not that watered down weak stuff you get on Cinemax and in music videos. All I can think about now are the employees, “Yes sir, I understand that I’m wearing latex gloves, but until the Teflon tongs finish their cycle in the napalm and boiling bleach I won’t be able to take your money. And under no circumstances will there be any discussion about imitation butter on your popcorn.” I thought this was the Bible belt; actually, this is supposed to be the buckle. Someone remembered that around 1987, and an ordinance was passed stating that you couldn’t broadcast Ass Me No Questions, I’ll Tell You No Lies randomly into the night. So the theater closed; I don’t know if the flea market closed or not. I guess around ten years later someone figured out that they could show non-pornographic movies, and the Playtime Drive-In reopened.

Last night was the first time I’d been since trekking through the wilderness. LMJ, MJ, and I stopped at Publix to load up on goodies: Swedish Fish, Twix, and Starbursts. MJ got a Sprite, I got a Sprite Zero, and LMJ was good with breast milk. We got to the theater, paid our $8, found the right radio station, and settled in for Ratatouille. It was about 8:30 so the sun was still up and we could people watch – better than any preview, ever. We felt bad for a mom who was arguing with her older son, possibly 14, about the movie choice. There was no violence but the youngster stormed off to go see the new Die Hard. Then mom slammed her younger son’s toes in the mini-van door. He was camped out on the van roof with his feet dangling over the edge, then SLAM! “Open the door, open the door!” It was almost too sad to be funny, almost. I guess the stress of the night was too much for them because they barely made it ten minutes into the film before they started up the mini-van and left. LMJ started getting antsy so MJ fed her, and she fell asleep on her mama’s chest. Florida is hot, even at night. LMJ is made out of fire or some close approximation, so MJ got hot. But we couldn’t start the car and turn on the AC because the car has daytime running lights that can’t be turned off. At night daytime running lights are just plain headlights, and we didn’t want to be rude by shining our brights into the car in front of us. In hindsight we may have wanted to be rude. In my nigh unfathomable wisdom I found a way to turn on just the fan without starting the car so we would keep the air moving without taxing the compressor or ruining the drive-in experience for the car in front of us. We had to do something because with LMJ comatose on her mama’s chest it was just a matter of time before MJ burst into flames. The sun finally went down around ten past nine and everyone seemed to settle down. The temperature even dropped from 85 to 84 degrees. The movie ended around eleven and people started filing out or just moving to the next screen to see a different movie. We had a Chinese fire drill getting LMJ back into her car seat. We’d had a previous drill getting LMJ out of her car seat when she got antsy at the beginning of the movie. Then MJ turned the key and click click click.

We’d run the battery down. I guess the compressor had been drawing power from the battery without the engine being on and yet failing to blow any cold air. Earlier MJ had scoffed at a negative review of the theater that complained the management didn’t have any jumper cables. Fortunately, MJ drives a stick shift so we could pop the clutch. This didn’t really stop her from falling into panic mode, but it did mean we weren’t necessarily dead in the water or dirt as the case may be. I told her that I would get out and push, and once the car started rolling she should let go of the clutch with the car in first gear. A few minor problems. I was wearing flip flops. We were on gravel. The ’06 Honda Accord weighs significantly more than her ’00 Civic or her ’87 CRX, the cars we had done this to before. I had better traction than I thought, but because MJ was worried about running into the cars in front of us she let go of the clutch before we had enough momentum a couple of times, which forced her into a deeper panic. When MJ panics she doesn’t curl up into the fetal position waiting for the inevitable. She prefers the "follow whatever impulse enters the transom of my mind, sooner or later something has got to work" style of panic. She jumped out of the car, in her flip flops, and suggested we trade places. She would push the car and I would pop the clutch. I ignored her suggestion like I was Dick Cheney ignoring a subpoena. There were words there but they didn’t mean anything to me. LMJ is still comatose, bloated on milk and summer heat. With no response from me, MJ turned and asked the people next to us if they had any jumper cables; they didn’t, so she got back in the car. I asked her to wait until we got going a little bit before she released the clutch, she did, the car started, and off we went. There could be a moral to this story, but I grew up on Seinfeld: No hugging, no learning. We had an absolute blast, and we can’t wait to go back. I love the fact that no matter what we do it always winds up being an adventure.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Beth!!!

My dear dear friend Beth turns 35 today. Which is weird because I've gotten to the point where I've known my friends from high school for more than 20 years. It's a strange, bittersweet feeling. On the one hand we have two decades of great memories, but on the other hand how the hell have I known anyone for 20 years. Beth is strong. She's smart and she's funny. She's someone I want LMJ to know and spend time with. There is no higher compliment coming from me. She's old enough to be President, and since she lives in the area anyway we might as well write her in next year.

I love you Beth.

Happy Birthday.

Mr. Rogers is Dead

My friend Beth and her family have moved into a new house, and she has written about how they have already met some nice neighbors. What the hell is that? I hate all my neighbors, current and former. I’ve lived here for almost thirteen years and the closest I’ve come to a positive feeling about any of them is indifference. It takes a concerted effort for me to be cordial to these people. Last summer MJ was nagging me about suggested that I mow the lawn. I wasn’t really interested; I was busy watching television or playing video games, but it had been at least a month since I’d mowed the lawn. So out I went into the midday July/August sunshine and commenced to mowing the lawn. My next door neighbor to the left/south, a kept man as far as I can tell, likes to make conversation by giving yard maintenance tips. He’s done this to my mother-in-law, who is almost as warm and fuzzy as me where it concerns inter-domicile relations. I almost quit mowing the lawn and almost went back inside because the only way this encounter was going to end was with this fool in a wood chipper and me in handcuffs. He’s your standard happy wanderer. He doesn’t seem to have a clue about what’s going on, and he doesn’t want one. It shouldn’t bother me but it does. I’m willing to own that character flaw. He started trying to sell me on letting him fertilize my lawn or something – like I don’t know it doesn’t look like a golf course. Our lawn doesn’t look like the rest of the lawns in the neighborhood because we don’t chemically enhance it. We let it go jungle style because, just like everyone else in our neighborhood, we have a pretty big yard and over-fertilization is ruining the river. So we deal with a little dollar weed and uneven growth. Maybe I’m crazy but the Saint Johns River helps make Jacksonville special, not everyone’s yard looking like a Lawn Doctor commercial. The Saint Johns supports a large part of the manufacturing and tourist industries, as well as the Navy. My yard is, at best, a demilitarized zone for the local tom cats – it is pretty cool watching them take turns sitting on my front porch and being masters of all they survey. Anyway, as you can see we have a basic philosophical difference. I want Jacksonville to continue to grow as a city. He wants a pretty lawn. I said no thanks to his offer, and he went happily about his business when he figured out I wasn’t going to turn off the mower to listen to what he had to say. He’s my best friend in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Austrian Economics aka Purple Drank

Fortunately for everyone I spent 2 hours yesterday engaged in high intensity exercise. Otherwise this post would have been a position paper on The Fair Tax/Consumption Tax/Value Added Tax/High Grade Fertilizer Tax. It’s funny how rich people think they know everything when it’s financial planners who actually do. It’s an easily forgivable mistake when the regular close proximity of the two groups is considered (see Willie Beamen). EJG has started a blog with certain political overtones, and since I don’t ever want to be left out, we can all blame him for a possibly more political tone on this blog. But like I said, I hit it pretty hard yesterday. It’s the first time since we found LMJ on our doorstep that I’ve run and lifted on the same day. It was also the first day of serious dieting (welcome back a pound of spinach every day). Taking a month off from serious lifting is a bad idea. I don’t care how much warm up, cool down, or stretching you do horrible muscle soreness is waiting the next morning. But I need to drop some weight. There are no successful 215lb distance runners. I want to get down to about 195lbs and see where we are. I will not get below 185lbs. That’s 100% ego. I like being a big guy. I like being a heavyweight. Personally, I don’t believe any man over six feet tall should weigh less than 2 bills. I don’t hold it against those who are, but we don’t see a whole lot of pictures of marathon winners with their shirts off. Arnold Schwarzenegger is governor of California. Lance Armstrong isn’t even on his local school board. Basically, it’s bikini season, and to quote the philosopher Heather Locklear, “Are you ready for the competition?” Well, I intend to be Heather; I intend to be.

I can tell that this is just a stop gap. I understand that Macroeconomics is the reading equivalent to vodka and codeine cough syrup, but due to my upbringing I must be heard. I’m hoping I’ll be distracted by something, so as not to bore everyone with my economic philosophies. LMJ is due to start some serious smiling at her daddy, and I’m certain that will do it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

De De De

I don’t do anything so I don’t have anything to write about. I could write about Paris Hilton going to jail and the possibility of her converting to Islam. Paris X would be hilarious. I could write about Justice Clarence Thomas not having rendered an opinion for the last two years. There’s nothing hilarious about a Supreme Court Justice just going along for the ride, irrespective of his or her views. I could write about Bobby Flay’s nearly superhuman grill skills. His Cuban burger and his double cheese burger – two types of cheese on one fat burger – are worth a paragraph or two. But I can’t get pumped about any of these, so considering my mostly female audience I will post pictures of my daughter. MJ handles the “Oh isn’t she cute?” style pictures, so I will post the “OMG Dad! I can’t believe you posted that on the internet. If any of my friends ever see these I’ll just die. Why are you always trying to ruin my life?” style pictures.

Who's retarded?

That's gonna leave a rash

It looks like Daddy's retarded too.

The most electrifying father in sports entertainment today

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Random Thoughts and Filler

MJ was giving me crap because I haven't posted since May 26th.

Newborns disrupt their parents’ schedules. I’ll give everyone a chance to recover from that bit of wisdom because I know I’ve blown your minds. LMJ has ruined my exercise regimen. I’ve been to the gym once since she was born. I’ve run maybe thrice. I’m not gaining weight though because sleep deprivation burns calories. MJ and I have a pretty good system of dealing with our bundle of joy at night, but it’s just a matter of time before LMJ has eroded all of our reserves and at least one of us goes insane. She sprayed poo all over the changing area as I was changing her diaper at 3am because she was angry at me. I cursed, spun around, and was glad that the baby wipes were cold because covering me in yellow excrement isn’t right. When I’m extra tired I get into battles of the will with my daughter, which is stupid, but that’s what happens when one if fatigued. It’s easy when she’s screaming because her eyes are closed, but when her clean diaper is on and I pick her up she stops caterwauling and opens her eyes it’s over – LMJ wins by vicious heart melt.

This is a public service announcement to everyone in the South who is not acclimated. When someone on the street smiles and says hello, return the greeting. It’s polite. If the greeting isn’t returned you run the risk of insulting someone. The consequences range from being thought of as a jerk to sharing the same fate as the Shoalin Monks who didn’t return the greeting of the White Lotus master Pai Mei. I don’t condone the use of the five point palm exploding heart technique, but to each his own.

From the easier said than done department:
I’ve agreed to run in a breast cancer ½ marathon in February. I don’t think I have to have breast cancer to enter. I’m pretty sure it’s a charity event to raise money for a cure. (Cancer joke, really? That’s a bold move) I have no idea how I’m going to get ready for it (see first paragraph) but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I don’t know why it seemed like a good idea because I don’t remember enjoying miles six through nine of the River Run, and the ½ marathon will introduce miles ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen. I may have to drop down to about 175 lbs. to run this thing comfortably. Losing that much weight will not be fun, but putting it back on will be, and I will be extra super ready for the River Run in March.