Saturday, June 28, 2008

Putting your best feet forward

While on my mail delivery route Friday I stopped at a bakery for a scone and coffee. I was the only customer except for a teenage girl sitting at a table, eating a pastry, drinking coffee, and talking to the teenage clerk behind the counter.

The counter girl had to make the coffee for me, and as she was preparing the coffeemaker a steady stream of customers came in. Most them were women, almost all young, but a couple of matures. I noticed that each of them, without exception, were wearing sandals, and with the exception of a couple, flip-flop sandals. When I was the Army we called flip-flops shower shoes because we wore them when taking a shower, so as not to get athlete’s foot or some other kind of noxious fungus. I never thought they were very practical; they might’ve been OK for the reason the Army gave, but not for everyday wear. There’s just no support.

Still, it gives a guy like me who likes to look at pretty feet a chance to gawk a little. Most people aren’t very stirred up by feet, no matter how pretty. I always wonder, why then do women go to the trouble and expense to paint their toenails, or to have a pedicure? Since the bakery was in the middle of an affluent neighborhood, most of the women in their flip flops had pedicures.

A man and his wife, who appeared to be in my age group, gave their order and then stood to the side so other customers could order. The teenage girl who was the sole customer in the store when I came in stood up and turned her back to look at something. She was wearing a sweatshirt that was printed on the back:






An acronym for SCUBA. The mature man and his wife saw the shirt. The girl sat down again. The man looked at me with an expression that seemed to say, “These young people nowadays…”

“Yep,” was a look I gave back.

If the girl had been in school she would have been ordered to remove the shirt, but she could wear it all she wanted outside of school. I wonder if her mom knows she left the house in that shirt? She was blonde, slim, very pretty, real all-American, and yes, she had a pedicure and pretty feet. The message and its tone of sexuality and badness on the back didn’t match the girl from the front.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Warped rotors and rubber lips

It's been a hectic week, and it's only Wednesday. Yesterday I had the rotors on my 2005 Ford Escape machined because the fronts were warped. When I braked I got a vibration. No, Brian Wilson, it wasn't a good vibration, either.

After plunking down $420 for rotor grinding, new brake pads all around and a 4-wheel alignment I headed in my now no-vibration car for the dentist. I had his fingers and drill in my mouth for the better part of an hour. I was too disheartened to ask what all of that cost. It's been heavy on the wallet the last few weeks. Hey, Bush, where the hell is that $1200 check you promised me? Did you forget to put a stamp on it?

On the way home I had some coffee, but had the foresight to bring a straw along because the left side of my mouth was numbed. Nothing like trying to drink hot coffee and not be able to feel your lips or tongue. You get more coffee on your shirt than in your mouth.

Later when I went to bed I fell asleep not counting sheep, but the $$$ I'd spent that day. For a guy who wants to save his money and retire within the next year it isn't easy to watch those hundred dollar bills flying away. I have the wallet snapped shut today. Let's see if it stays closed.

*******On another subject, right now in rotation on my car stereo is the CD Under the Covers Vol. 1 by Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs. They do cover versions of old songs, some of them once very, very popular ("Monday, Monday," "Different Drum," shown in a live version below), and some obscure but fine songs. It's like someone took my musical tastes of the 1960s and translated them to this CD. Speaking of otherwise obscure, I especially enjoy "I See The Rain" by The Marmalade (1967) and "Alone Again Or" by Love, which blew me away when I heard it. I had the Love album in 1966 and loved it to death. Get it? I loved Love? Oh well, maybe you had to be there.

Really great versions of "And Your Bird Can Sing" and "Cinnamon Girl," too. Hey, Matthew and Susanna, since the name of this blog is Paranoia Strikes Deep, have you guys been inside my head, picking my brain for song choices? If you have, c'mon back. I've got a whole bunch for your next CD.

Different Drum, live

Cinnamon Girl, live

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Uncivil discourse

Is civil discourse dead? Of course not. Even in this most heated political season the candidates seem to be trying to hold on to some civility.

George Carlin died, and civil discourse wasn't his schtick. It was more like uncivil ranting. Curmudgeon, cranky George made a living by getting on stage and complaining about things in the most hostile tones possible. He also made us laugh our collective asses off.

I thought about Carlin when I found these three cards. A friend who worked in a print shop gave them to me many years ago. They made me laugh, and nowadays I can hear them being spoken in George Carlin's voice. I wouldn't want to get one of these cards,. It would ruin my day. But there are people I encounter every day I'd love to present with one. George Carlin wouldn't have needed the cards. He'd have gotten on stage, said what they say, and we'd all have busted a gut laughing.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Sally orders Netflix movies online. She has such interesting taste in movies. She is always looking for something beyond the big hits. The other day we received Transamerica, starring Felicity Huffman as Bree, a man in the midst of transgender reorientation; trying to talk in the voice of a woman, trying to act like a woman, while still hauling around a penis. She bails her son out of jail in New York City. A son she didn't know she had, conceived during a moment with a woman she knew in college. It's a road trip movie, as they make their way from NYC to LA, hence the punning title, Transamerica.

Bree's son, Toby, played by Kevin Zegers, is a jerk. He's a street hustler, druggy, who has sex with men for money. It's the son's "goal" to be in porno movies. Toward the end of Transamerica he's shown "acting" in a gay porn movie.*

We find during their time together that despite her life choices Bree is a very conservative person who doesn't approve of Toby's choices. It was billed in theaters as a comedy. There are some funny situations growing out of the story, but it's not a comedy in the sense of the Adam Sandler-definition. I found out about deep stealth, which is when transgendered people hide in their new roles, not letting the world know they are going through sexual reassignment. Because of her conservatism Bree is extremely paranoid she'll be outed. She is, when the boy sees her penis while she's urinating, and also in a restaurant when an intuitive 8-year-old points her out.

All of the actors in this film are excellent, but Huffman has to carry the movie. It's her credibility that is at stake. If we don't accept that she is a man trying to become a woman then the movie would just be a joke, a caricature. Huffman is a fine actor and I bought in completely.

There are some nude scenes. I thought the nude scenes of young men seemed on the verge of porn themselves, a near-fantasy of two young guys swimming nude while Bree looks on. The porn movie sequence, and a scene where the boy sees Huffman's penis. It's shown at a distance but it must've given the actress a giggle to wear such an appliance. Huffman also appears completely nude in a bathtub scene, after her operation, where she touches her new vagina. These scenes aren't gratuitous, but are an integral part of the plot. They earned the film an R-rating, but I don't think the movie would have been as powerful without them.

I was not surprised Huffman was nominated for an Oscar in 2005 for her role in Transamerica.

*He doesn't have an erection so a young man, a fluffer, is sent in to help him prepare. A fluffer is someone who has the duty of keeping the porn star erect through "oral stimulation." Thanks to Viagra they aren't much needed anymore. I imagine there came a point when fluffers had to go look for new jobs.

What is the job description of this position, and also what would a fluffer do when applying for a new job, answering questions on a written application?

Former job: Fluffer in movies

Describe your duties: Performed oral sex on male porn actors

Salary or hourly rate of pay: Are you kidding? I was supposed to be paid?

Do you feel you did your job well? You said a mouthful!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Some things never change

In the early '80s when both music videos and VCRs were new, I used to tape some of the music video programs that played on late night broadcast TV. They featured music I wasn't hearing on my normal radio stations. I remember this song, "Black Stations, White Stations," because--ahem--I liked the girl doing the singing. I liked her slim body and how she moved it when she was dancing.

I went on YouTube to find this video and after a few keystrokes found it not under the group name I remembered, M & M, but under Martha & the Muffins. This is an obscure video for an obscure song by an obscure '80s Canadian techno-pop group. I still like the girl, I still like her slim body, I still like her dancing. Musical styles change, but some things never do.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Warren piece

Going through an old filing cabinet of mine I found this clipping from a 1992 newspaper. It's about my former coworker, Warren, and the suspicion police put on him after the disappearance of his wife.

I've told this story before, but here's the short course: I worked with Warren and his wife, Margo, in the 1980s. Warren was married with a baby daughter when he met Margo. They fell in love and he divorced his wife, marrying Margo, moving in with her and her two teenaged sons.

Warren had quit the school district where we worked and gone to work on the loading dock of a trucking company. Margo had gotten a job as head custodian at a junior high school. Warren was ass-over-teakettle in love with his wife, and because he did shift work would visit her at work quite often (irking the staff, too). One day in February, 1992, Margo disappeared, a search was mounted, but she wasn't found. A few months later a father and son, hunting in the desert west of Salt Lake City, found some human remains, all that was left of Margo.

During the time of the search and afterward Warren was the main "person of interest" to the police. A couple of years later a man confessed to killing Margo and two teenage girls, who he had buried on his uncle's pig farm.

Here's what bothers me about this case, and it's an object lesson for us all: if your spouse disappears, better make sure you have a rock solid alibi. Better make sure you have a half dozen witnesses who can testify to your whereabouts, or are seen on a surveillance camera somewhere to prove you were somewhere else when the spouse went missing. Better make sure you don't make any cell phone calls that can be interpreted as hiring a hit man. Some of this I learned on CSI, Forensic Files and Law and Order, but a lot of it I realized after closely following the Warren and Margo case. When the cops lock onto someone they think is guilty, they shake him like a dog shakes a rat. This blog ain't called Paranoia Strikes Deep for nothing. The way cops think will make you paranoid.

That a couple of teenaged girls had gone missing the same time as Margo didn't seem pertinent to the police. What the killer later confessed was that he had gone into the junior high school on that February morning looking for a junior high girl to kidnap and kill. Margo, who was a petite, pretty blonde woman, fit the size requirements.

Warren had a lot of flaws to his character. We fellow workers thought he was immature, a blowhard and braggart, an adulterer, and he was also a liar. "Liar" describes most of the rest of us, too. We've all lied to keep ourselves out of trouble. Warren passed two lie detector tests, yet the cops still thought he was their man. We others knew when Warren lied he was so bad at it he always got caught. He just wasn't that smart. So if he got caught lying about something minor he'd done at work and couldn't get away with it, how could be get away with lying about his wife's disappearance and murder?

Margo's killer spent years in the court system, was sentenced to death but beat the lethal injection by dying of a bowel obstruction. He was eating his court papers. He would have gone free forever had he not come forward and confessed, because the cops were so sure Warren did in his wife they were blinded to any other possibilities.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

In the still of the night this boy is leaving on that midnight train to Georgia

The Five Satins were one of those vanguard groups of rock music, coming along with a doo-wop classic, "In the Still of the Night." Check out the movements. They'd segue into the Beatles, doing their own ballad, "This Boy." Crammed together, no moving around, but close vocal harmony. Can anyone ever believe how versatile the Beatles were? John Lennon went from this to "A Day In The Life," in just a couple of years.

Finally, the sublime Gladys Knight, and her famous Pips, show what slickness there was in the Motown hit factory. While the Five Satins look a little restrained, the Pips show the stuff that made them famous! Love that woo-woo! The total package. Gladys Knight joined the Mormon church and her bishop once said, "We're the only Mormon ward with 'Midnight Train to Georgia' in our hymnbook."

In The Still of The Night


This Boy 


 Midnight Train To Georgia


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Big rat

My wife, Sally, has been in Pennsylvania since last Wednesday, staying with our son, David and his family. I mean extended family. David is one male along with six females, with the addition of his mother. Two of the females are his daughters. He must feel overwhelmed. Sally has been keep me updated on the goings-on. Our granddaughters are Bella, age 3 ½, and Gabby, almost two.

David and I took the girls to Chuck E Cheese last night for dinner. They were really excited until Chuck E Cheese showed up....this great big rat walking around waving at the kids, etc. All of a sudden when he headed toward us both girls started shrieking and Bella started climbing up me. It was so funny! He could see they were afraid, so he didn't come near again, but from a distance, he waved at them, and the shrieking started again! I guess if I was a little girl and a big rat all of a sudden was standing in front of me, I'd shriek, too! Bella showed a lot of dexterity when it came to playing a miniature air hockey game. She was surprisingly good and kept beating both David and I. When she got the puck in the hole, she'd jump up and down and we'd praise her. It was so cute! Now Gabby, on the other hand, was content just trying to pick up the puck and place it in the hole and retrieve it. That was the only game they liked. Later we walked down to the end of the mall and there was a really cool play area for young children. The girls liked the little playhouse the best, where Bella washed her hands, gave Gabby a bath and baked cookies.

Love, Sally

p.s. I've attached a few cute pix of the girls. Some are from our visit to the zoo.
We saw a family of Amish and tried to secretly take some pictures. That was interesting! One of the guys wasn't only Amish, but a dwarf, too! (if that's the politically right word to describe him) He really stood out!


Yesterday I went to Wal-Mart for an oil change. For my car, not me. Yuk-yuk.

As I waited for the oil change I looked around a little bit to see what new goods our Chinese brethren were making us for 75¢ an hour. I went to the in-store office of my credit union, where I withdrew some cash. Finally, to kill even more time I went to the in-store McDonald's where I had a cup of coffee.

As I waited in line for my order I noticed people glancing over at me. As I walked to a table a young Mexican woman, sitting with her two children, smiled at me. I thought, ah, I've still got the old charm (operative word being "old".) Later as I sipped my coffee I noticed the same young woman at the counter, talking to a friend who worked behind the counter. They were speaking in Spanish, and they looked at me, then quickly looked away when they saw that I'd seen them. To tell the truth, I didn't think a lot of it. I got paged to go pick up my car, and that was a whole other adventure, since the clerk couldn't figure out where the Debit button was on the cash register. He had to go find help, leaving me with the store greeter, the old man who says, "Welcome to Wal-Mart," who proceeded to tell me how dumb all of the employees in that shop are. It all got figured out eventually and I went home.

Later on I was in the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I saw that my t-shirt was on inside out. My label was sticking out for all the world to see. I was exposing my Fruit Of The Loom! Good lord…no wonder everyone was looking. Too late to crawl under a rock and be ashamed, so I just put the shirt on the right way and went out into my yard to mow the lawn. C'est la vie.