Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Commercial Excess

And just as I typed that title, I realised it sounds like one of those many, many, many, many rants over the commercialisation of Thanksgiving. I got tired of those rants. I get tired of most crowd-sourced rants. In any case, this has nothing to do with Black Friday.

For three straight weeks, I woke up every morning singing Call Me Maybe to myself. Well, only "Hey, I just met you, this may seem crazy, but here's my number, call me, maybe..." since those are the only words I know. This effectively earwormed me for the whole day, every day. I sang that line mindlessly as I ran to the printer, got some water, signed off on invoices... embarrassing, really.

I'm a professional, people.

Over the last week, I've suddenly changed course, singing Express Yourself, again, with little knowledge of the words. In my version it goes, "Express yourself, express yourself, la la la mmmmmawkward when I speak, da deedee dum, EXPRESS YOURSELF..."

I woke up at 2:00 this morning with that playing in my head and started to craft this post. I was going to make a comparison to hits of the 80's, when I was a deep, dark metalhead with punk overtones who barely listened to the radio and always changed the channel when Hall & Oates came on, yet when I'm in the grocery store and the oldies station is playing (don't get me started), I can sing every. freaking. word of every. freaking. song.

Then it hit me: the reason I know Call Me to Express Yourself at all, and the reason I only know those little bits, is because I watch way too much TV and those are songs on commercials.

No, don't

Express your own damn self

Still, I mused, why does my brain think I need these so badly that it won't let me stop playing them, day or night. My subconscious is like the bad guy from the Saw movies, torturing me in specific and creative ways... to what end?

Where is the intellectual or Darwinistic advantage to this sort of madness, I wondered, mentally writing a white paper as theories pinwheeled through my pre-REM mind.

"Why, brain? Why? mmmawkward when I... express yourself..." I muttered.

I dozed off, still blogging, and my next dreamed opened with my friend Matt's cheerleader daughter Erin, in full cheerleader regalia, beribboned ponytail bouncing earnestly as she completely disregarded the fourth wall to look me straight in the eyes to say, "When I want music for something, I don't read the headlines. I look in my own mind."

That's just too deep. And my subconscious is a supervillain.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Knitting Van Gogh

Last night, Brother, Girlthing Cindy and I went to "Becoming Van Gogh" at the Denver Art Museum.

Van Gogh's early career was steeped, both geographically and philosophically, in the Dutch manner. He worked in somber, earthy colours and his subject matter tended to be the common man, his pursuits and detritus.

Stick with me, the story gets better.

It was when he joined his brother, Theo, in Paris, that he began to immerse himself in the colour and - for lack of a better word - whimsy of the French style of the time.

A part of the exhibit talks about how colour pairs and defines and blends and contrasts, and how Van Gogh explained this to his brother. There was a box of yarn under glass by the colour wheels. The placard above it explained that, somehow, in his pursuit of colour theory education, he found that he could twist different colours of yarn together to see how they would play.

I nudged Brother, pointed to the display, and said, "Yarn!"

"Huh. Van Gogh had a stash too," he said.

Van Gogh and I both indulged in yarn stash.

And we both had little brothers who were, ultimately, teachable.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

White Christmas

On Christmas day, 2005, Mom said the only thing she'd tasted in months that tasted good was the roasted pearl onions in sherry and cream I made to go with Christmas dinner. We ate, we talked, and one by one the others left.

I was the last to leave. I hugged her and said, "I love you."

The next morning Dad called to say she screamed and had terrible seizures and he had to call an ambulance and they cut her new Christmas robe and pajamas off her to tend to her and she was in a coma in the hospital at which she'd worked for the last 30 years.

We spent four days constantly rotating through, telling stories, reading the newspaper, chattering at her under the idea that coma patients can hear and understand and might be inspired to return to consciousness.

The joke was on us. The strokes that had put her out of reach had rendered her deaf.

She did come back, but only long enough to give us hope before she lost her mind and her body and everything that made her my mother.

A week in the hospital, a week in a nursing home, some time in a hospital bed at home, an endless fog of time that ended on February 22 when she died, very early in the morning, having regained consciousness for the first time in a month - just for a second, just long enough to shed a tear.

So now every Christmas evening, freed from the tyranny of forced cheer and truly saintly tolerance for the woman who thinks she's an Untiedt, who thinks she can announce Christmas traditions and make them happen, I cry like a child and long for the days when Christmas meant sharing my best friend's favourite day with her, giggling like loons, eating well, loving well and making memories.

I don't feel any new memories being made. Only this endless parade of keeping up appearances.

I speak this in the hushed tones of white on white, of snow falling on snowy ground. Keeping up appearances is very important, and so is a white Christmas.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holy Frozen Wasteland, Batman

Every now and then, I use this very blog as a reference: which scarf did I knit for Kelley? what was the name of that perfume? what's the proper generic for Zamboni?

That one stopped me dead in my tracks Saturday night. I was trying to impart some wisdom on The Twitter, so I hopped to the blog and searched "Zamboni."

Then "Steve."

Then "Ice."

Then I looked through my post index and found - *gasp* - I WENT TO ZAMBONI SCHOOL% AND ALL YOU GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT.§

There may be more of this. One of my great #OldAndFeeble tricks is to set something up so thoroughly in my head that I think I did it. I know I do it with email and occasionally phone calls. I had no idea the blog had fallen victim.


In February, Steve and I went to Ice Camp. We learned the history and mechanics of ice resurfacing equipment in a classroom setting.

Then we did some hands-on# illustration of what the TV told us.

We watched an ice resurfacing machine empty after a productive trip around the rink.

We had photo ops.

Then we drove the beast.

THEN we made ice.††

Dudes, if we were in a disaster movie and the Zamboni operator freaked out or had a heart attack,‡‡ I could totally resurface an ice rink.

FOOTNOTE (crossed): As I'm sure you do.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): A registered trademark of Frank J. Zamboni & Co., Inc.

%FOOTNOTE (percented): Like Hogwarts, but more athletic. Also? In fricking FEBRUARY.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): It's actually a cool t-shirt that says "I drove the [picture of a Zamboni] at The Ice Ranch." But you don't actually get it. You have to *earn* it.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): Which is the generic of Zamboni.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): Literally, though you have to be careful, as there are blades that cut and pumps that suck.

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): When you're in the know, you know better than to say you drove the Zamboni. When you're in the know, you make ice.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): I think this movie should be made. It should be called "The Ice Marin Cometh."

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Not me.

I mean, I am, but I'm not reporting here. I just checked in on Allison's blog. She's a writer, but clearly she has an interest in knitting too.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Tale of Two Boots

I stand accused of being cutting edge.

Yeah, it's even funnier if you knew me in high school, like my accuser did.

See, Jeffe said she was getting some of those slouchy boots, like we wore back in the 80s, when we also hacked our t-shirts up Flashdance-style and thought the bi-level haircut was the height of edgy, futuristic sophistication.

We were teenagers. Our taste was questionable.

Yet here we are again,§ shoulder pads, pegged jeans, neon colours... but the elf boot is classic.

I had a pair of black suede elf boots. And when I say "had," I mean until six years ago when I decided to hand them off to ARC# in the cleaning-for-moving frenzy when I bought my house. I'd had the heels rebuilt†† and recapped,‡‡ but the suede fuzz on the toes and heels was worn to a shine, so I decided my 24-year-old boots had their day.

On into the future, I was doing a little wardrobe work last fall, when the personal shopper at Nordstrom suggested a pair of Steve Madden boots.

Boots EXACTLY like my elf boots, only cured leather instead of suede.

And, y'know, with the Steve Madden label inside.

The rest of the story is that when Jeffe said she was getting a pair of 80s boots, I told her I got a pair last year, at which point, she declared me cutting edge.§§

We all know different - I'm a dork with a streak of nostalgia who's never quite gotten over having to give up her elf boots.

Let's just call it trading up.¶¶

FOOTNOTE (crossed): Of still-Jeffe fame.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): Now known as The Coach.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): And by, "we," I don't mean you and me, or even Jeffe and me, I mean "society in general."

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): If you were into Dio or Dungeons & Dragons in the 80s, it was definitely an elf boot. I'm not confessing, just sayin'. You don't have pictures, you can't prove anything.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): I did not, however, hand off my 31-year-old Nike All-Courts with the baby blue swoosh. They're in terrific shape for their age, and I love when the skate punks stop me in the mall and say, "Rad shoes, dude. Where did you get them?" And I say, "1980."

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): Once.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): Twice.

§§FOOTNOTE (two slouches): And challenged me to a blog-off, in which she was going to use my "Like high school, only Steve Madden" line first. I lost the race in spectacular fashion, but maintained my stubborn insistence on ignoring people trying to get me to blog. Small victories are better than none.

¶¶FOOTNOTE (two boots): 'Cause it sounds much classier than "old people nostalgia hoarding."

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween...

...from Mikey, Dad and me.

My (first) cousin (once removed), Mike, is an artist of some renown, mostly for his oil paintings, but more and more for the wholly Mike-ish tales he tells in his newsletter, The Right Brain Express.

Every year about this time, Mike resurrects this story, and every year it gets a little creepier.

The Jon of the story is my father.

Mike's other art can be viewed at


Oiche Samhna;
Slam Dunk Spook


Every year people ask me if I have revised the story about Old Aurora and the ghost of laughing Jack Smiley. As I think about this I look at myself in the mirror and see that the treacheries of Time have added more white to an already grey head; I wonder how much revision is necessary? My boyhood steps led me to a palette and easel of unfinished canvas. My cousin Jon, youthfully prominent in the story, has cast his life to flow into a comfortable one of trout streams and gentlemanly contemplation. Though our lives are located in the pleasantries of different times and locations than that dark and wretched Halloween of 1960, the surprising horror of that night cannot be forgotten…or redeemed! Recently, as in this past year, the City of Aurora has gone to great lengths, and expense, to reportedly “upgrade” the old City Park on 16th and Dayton. Granted, this aged and time-worn part of town does not deserve neglect and decay. Yet in the cold winds of a darkening October sky with pale yellow leaves carpeting the ground like a veil of shifting whispers, one must ask if the recent face-lift is one of community development or of convenient cover-up. Cover-up of the proof of the profane, of Laughing Jack entrapped in an eternity of terror. If such is the case, no amount of asphalt and designer poured concrete can ebb the flow of the Devil’s tide, or hide the mark of His ill gotten gain!

The Story of Laughing Jack

It seems it is always stormy on Halloween. I remember Halloween 1960. The storm that night blew over the bee tree, from which my brother Pat and I scooped handfuls of sweet honey treat the next morning. This storm was also the last time Laughing Jack Smiley was seen walking this good earth...

We lived on the former Hugh Berry farm south of what was then the small town of Aurora, Colorado. The Berries sharecropped the William Smith land for years. William Smith was one of the founders of Aurora, and his eighty year old unmarried daughter Margaret still lived in the old Smith Mansion, a Victorian Denver Square built up against the Highline Canal at the end of Park East Road. The road was a gravel farm path then, and crossed a bridge behind the mansion that led to our home. Aurora pretty much ended at Sixth Avenue, and the Highline Canal meandered through miles of farmland. My uncle, Bryan Untiedt, purchased the Smith farm and along with my father Ome, was beginning to build houses on the land which became known as Park East. In 1960 the area was still alfalfa fields and pasture with giant cottonwoods along the ditches and Canal. Aurora Central High School was new, and my cousin Jon Untiedt attended there. I was infatuated, as any eight year old would be, of cousin Jon and his friends, all athletes and ball players, and was from whom I first learned of Laughing Jack Smiley, and the tragedy that followed.

Laughing Jack Smiley lived in a small, overgrown cottage on Alton Street in old Aurora. He was my cousin Jon's age, and often met to play basketball with all the older high school boys on the new basketball court in Aurora City Park at Dayton and 16th Avenue. That court is still there to this day, though the newness and sparkle has long ago worn away. City Hall has moved, Aurora has grown to hundreds of thousands of citizens and the old City Park has become one of those off-the-beaten-path forgotten places. I doubt if the name Laughing Jack Smiley would be recognized by any living person there today, though the bare spot still exists on the eastern side of the basketball courts, the bare spot that appeared on that terrible night.

According to those that knew him, Laughing Jack was a peculiar sort. Tall and dark-haired, he rarely spoke, and when spoken to often responded with a shy half smile, from whence came his nickname, Laughing Jack. Though none ever mentioned personally knowing his family, the Smileys were rumored as being related to an ancestor who, in the previous century, helped dig up the graves in the old Denver cemetery where Cheesman Park is now located, and moved the disinterred to Riverside Cemetery on the Platte River. That bit of history is fraught with rumors of greed and disrespect, and that a Gypsy Curse followed the most disrespectful of the grave movers and their descendants. I can't attest to the truthfulness of this rumor, but it makes sense and helps explains the events on Halloween night, 1960.

October evenings were a time of basketball on the court in Aurora City Park. My cousin Jon and his friends would meet every evening to divide up into teams and play ball until the cold dark settled on the blacktop and they could no longer see to shoot. Laughing Jack was often present but rarely played, instead watching from the sidelines with that queer smile engraved on his countenance. Remember the times, these were the days of Wilt Chamberlin and Jerry West. Basketball was a game of large dunks directly under the basketball, or long practiced jump shots from the floor. This was before the days of Dr. J or Magic Johnson, and the Flying-Slam-Dunk was an unheard-of move… the Flying-Slam-Dunk…indeed, who would have ever imagined?

One afternoon, several days before Halloween, Laughing Jack asked if he might join in a game of pickup basketball. "Sure" was the answer, teams were chosen and a game commenced. Laughing Jack played in an unremarkable fashion, until late in the game, as the sun was setting over Mount Evans, and a cold crispness was spicing the air. Jon intercepted a pass and made a fast break down court. Big Denny Rider, whose father Doc ran the Aurora Auto Supply on Dayton Street, made a great defensive lunge, requiring Jon to pass off to Laughing Jack at the head of the key. Laughing Jack caught the ball, and in a mighty leap, four feet high and ten feet long, carried the ball soaring through the air and stuffed it in the basket. The ball cleared through the net and struck the pavement with a baleful thunk. There was not a sound on the court, or in the park, save for the breath of frost on yellowing leaves. Everyone stared at Laughing Jack in disbelief, tinged with fear of the unknown. You see, in those days no one had ever seen such a move, and its strangeness was as a man sprouting wings and taken to flight. Laughing Jack stared at his team mates, smiled in that half way of his, and took off at a slow dog trot down Sixteenth dribbling a basketball. Even as he disappeared into the evening his footsteps and sound of the ball echoed on the sidewalk and Jon, Denny, and all the players shook their heads and turned for the safety of their homes and families.

The next day some of the boys asked Coach Butchkowski from the high school to stop by during the evening game, in case Laughing Jack was playing. They wanted Coach's opinion on the legality of the move Laughing Jack had displayed. Laughing Jack showed up and again asked to play. As like the night before, his play was unremarkable until the last rays of sunlight were gleaming like ice frost over the western mountains. At that time, in the power of the gloaming light, Laughing Jack was offered the opportunity for another fast break Flying-Slam-Dunk. He successfully seized the moment, and as the ball struck the pavement, it resounded with a hollow bounce. But unlike the silence of the night before, this cool fall evening the basket was met with shouts and curses. You see, we fall victim to human weaknesses, and once the newness of something wears off, we often replace quiet unknowing with self-righteous indignation and anger. Coach Butchkowski stepped in to prevent fisticuffs, and rendered his verdict on the legality of Laughing Jack's move. "Now boys, calm down! I watched Laughing Jack carefully, and he took no more steps than you would for an ordinary lay up. There are no rules about how far you can jump when taking a shot, so long as neither foot is touching the floor, and his were definitely off the floor! Though I have never seen anything like it, I would say what Laughing Jack did was perfectly legal, and a new way to play basketball. I would like to know where he learned such a thing!" But laughing Jack spoke offered no explanation, and with that half smile tattooed on his face, turned and silently dribbled away into the waxing light. The boys would not play another game of basketball after Butchkowski's ruling, and the court remained empty until Halloween evening. You might view this as a harsh reaction to a new strangeness, perhaps even cruel. But we must be careful to pass judgment, now, a half-century after the fact; for our present seat in the story is a safe and comfortable one.

Halloween 1960 started off as a beautiful day. At Lansing Elementary School we had parties and watched "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" in the school auditorium. As darkness came storm clouds were building in the west, but the storm looked far off, and my mother allowed brother Pat and I to walk into town, to spend the night at Billy Lombardi's house, along with the rest of our bunch, which included Billy, Steve Rider, Corky Metcalf, Pat and myself. The plan was to trick or treat and watch horror movies on late night TV, which we executed in high style. We slept in Billy's dad's camper, and I remember well the lightening, wind and driving sleet that rocked the trailer, and helped our vivid imaginations drive the spirit of Halloween into our dreams. In the morning the storm had passed, and Pat and I walked home, our feet crunching in the wet gravel of Park East Road. As we passed Miss Smith's, we noticed that the storm had blown over a giant cottonwood tree, a tree William Smith had planted back in the 1880's when he first came to Aurora. The tree had fallen across the bank of a feeder ditch just below the head gate, and had broken in two. The tree had a beehive in it, and the hollow exposed core was a mass of honeycomb and golden honey. We feasted in high style, and could verify Halloween 1960 being one of the sweetest on record. That is, until we later learned of the Halloween fate of Laughing Jack Smiley.

It seems Jon had been to a party on Halloween, and driving home about 11:30 p.m. through the wind and sleet, had passed Aurora City Park. By the flashing glare of lightening he saw Laughing Jack shooting baskets on the basketball court. He stopped and despite the rain asked Laughing Jack if he was OK and perhaps needed a ride home. Laughing Jack smiled in his strange way and waved Jon on. As Jon was driving up Dayton Street, heading for Colfax, he passed a tall man in a slouch hat and long black coat walking down the middle of the street, towards the Park. This seemed strange to Jon, even more so when he didn't recognize the person. You have to remember, in those days Aurora was not the bustling suburb it now is, but was a small farm town east of Denver. Everyone knew everyone else. As Jon drove closer to home he became more bothered by Laughing Jack shooting baskets in the rain, and the tall stranger walking alone down an October street. He turned the car around and drove back to the Park, just to make sure Laughing Jack was OK. The Park was empty, and Jon could find no sign of Laughing Jack, or of the tall street-walking stranger. Jon seemed to notice a faint glow on the east side of the basketball court, but he was sure rain puddles and flashes of lightening in the sky were responsible. Satisfied with his inspection of the peculiar recent events, Jon returned to his car and drove into what became the rest of his life. Not so Laughing Jack.

Laughing Jack was absent from school the following week, when at last the high school attempted to contact his parents about Jack's truancy. The over-grown cottage on Alton Street was empty and boarded up. Every trace of the Smiley family seemed to have disappeared. The police were notified, but nothing came of it. After all, no one was sure anything untoward had happened. Eventually the disappearance of Laughing Jack Smiley became a numbered police report in the dusty files assigned to the vagaries of time.

But occasionally, when the late light of fall disappears over the Rocky Mountains, the sound of a dribbling basketball can be heard in Aurora City Park, when no players are present! After that Halloween night, 1960, a large bald spot appeared in the grass on the east side of the Aurora City Park Basketball Court, and it is there to this day! The City has tried to hide it with a playground, mulch and gravel, but it is there still, for no living thing will grow on it. The unholy spot is camouflaged with happy cries of children swinging and sliding through a timeless ritual. Despite the joy a playground brings, there are rumors that you can stand by this bald spot of ground on Halloween, and hear the distant thump, thump, thump of a dribbling basketball, and a weakening voice crying out "help me, please, me!"

Halloween 1960 will always stand in my memory for the wonders of the honey-laden bee tree; but even more so, though the spirits of Halloween brought the miracle of honey to this October night, they also took something away. There are those I know who believe in the Cheesman Gypsy Curse, and payments made to quiet the dead, and to this they account for the disappearance of Laughing Jack Smiley. The Curse is based on an old legend, hard to verify and harder yet to satisfy the questions of a discerning mind. After the facts I have related and attested to in such good faith, I believe there is an undeniable explanation for Laughing Jack's predicament, if a predicament may be called such when it represents an event that lasts an eternity. Laughing Jack Smiley was taught the skill of the Flying-Slam-Dunk by the Devil himself, at the cost of his soul. In that fateful storm of Halloween midnight, 1960, Lucifer visited Aurora City Park to collect his debt; and collect his debt did he!

copyright 2011 Michael Ome Untiedt

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Can You Get Better Advertising?

Remember Zombie Boy?

Dermablend Pro... seeing is believing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


My friends at Nintendo sent me something new.

Let's take a moment to step back from the simple glory of games showing up on my front porch; the creativity of the packaging and quality of work amazes me.

Look at this box:

Hand painted.

I envision a little Brand About Town sweatshop where an assembly line of sharply-dressed marketing genii% carefully hand paint and hand build these packages.

Plus, this cool tag:

I was just thinking to myself, "Self,§ what are you going to do with that tag?" Then I realised I never removed it from the box, so I have no idea how long the chain is. There's some chance I'll recognise its intended use if I actually look at the thing.

I'm a dork.

You may remember the story of how I skipped the video game revolution.

Well, I like Professor Layton. I like Professor Layton because he doesn't make me feel stupid, clumsy and inept. No, Professor Layton makes me feel *smart*. I whiz through the Laytonverse, solving puzzles, searching for coins and I don't lose.

I get stuck sometimes, but the aliens don't land on my head because the time's run out.

And that's why I like Professor Layton.#

FOOTNOTE (crossed): They've sent me a few new things over the last couple or *mumblefourmumble* months, but I haven't told you here. If you really loved me, you'd follow me on The Twitter. I talk a lot on The Twitter.

%FOOTNOTE (percented): I've met the Nintendo team from Brand About Town. They are all bright and remarkably well dressed.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): I suspect BAT commissioned these, but I'm still envisioning marketing elves at a workbench with tiny hammers.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): My little voice always calls me Isabelle.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): I have no explanation for my fascination with Guitar Hero, which makes me feel stupid, clumsy and inept every time I play it.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): And that's what I did on my summer vacation.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Back for Two Posts...

...and I already have weird spam comments.

"Thank you for insightful! Your blog is excellently well writing and I will definitely be reading in the future. Hire a web designer!"

FOOTNOTE (crossed): That is to say, "Comments that are weird, but probably aren't weird for spam, which is baseline weird anyway. These are actually pretty normal spam comments."

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): The last bit could be read as an indictment of my not yet figuring out how to put linked footnotes in a sidebar, but it was actually a link to a vendor of web designers, so I'm taking it as a guided marketing ploy rather than an insult. My blog, my rules.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Pie Makers

Which sounds like the title of a highly acclaimed runner-up for the Man Booker Award or something.

Definitely soon to be a major motion picture starring Kate Winslet.

Actually, Tallest, Hairiest Nephew and I baked a cherry pie while Dr. Doom was at soccer practice.§

But they *so* look capable of pie making, don't they?

I had to tell them the old-people-nostalgia story of how their father was exactly the same way, and back when we still had film in our cameras,# it would cost me oodles to foot the bill for the film we had to go through so he could make faces for 20 frames before we got down to one good, serious shot.

Then I had to explain the word "hereditary" to them.

Also "evolution."††

Trying to build hope for the future, one nephew at a time.

FOOTNOTE (crossed): My old book club would definitely swoon for it.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): Handmade crust and all. Skillz... we has them.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): And I went to his soccer game this weekend. He is not a soccer talent. Brother says worse than usual, but I notice a certain sibling tendency that includes a complete lack of awareness of the ball and such joys as watching clouds while the game is going on around him.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): My tongue is firmly planted in my cheek.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): You kids get off my lawn!

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): Next time, we'll explore "nature vs. nurture."

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): Aren't they handsome creatures, soccer and pies aside?

Monday, October 17, 2011

I'm learning...

...that if you have a post of, say, zero words, you should probably still split it into a series of posts because people get cranky if you choose Twitter over Blogger and absent yourself from the many-word world for months on end.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mommy, Where Do Monsters Come From?

If you're very lucky, Monsters come from Jennifer by way of Nathan.

When the Monster Revolution comes, Jennifer and Nathan will be in the clear.

The rest of us should start tending our Monsters toward this end.

NOTE: If I were half-brained these days, I would've remembered to give Jennifer a shout out for being the creative force behind Cotton Monster and my new best friend. Better late than never?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


In stunning Technicolor™!

The Monster came to live with me just before Easter.% We spent a happy day playing with my new camera and these are the results.

We started with a glamour shot by the train yard.

A train came by. And the conductor *waved* at us. It may be the single greatest moment in Monster history.

LoDo§ from the wrong side of the tracks.

There was some construction we watched for awhile. They were assembling a crane.

Like this. O hai! Crane!

We headed west past the skate park to stand on the bridge over the South Platte.

A nice bicyclist thought I looked awkward holding The Monster at arm's length# to get a good river picture, so he stopped to help. Not a lot of monsters wave at train conductors and make new friends all in one day.††

It was time to get down to some serious art.‡‡ Like Common Ground, the picturesque stairway to nowhere.

We started on one side of the stairway.

Took in some rays.

Used all our America's Next Top Model training to work with our surroundings.

Played with camera angles.

Climbed the stairs, crested the summit and found a bunch of irritated, stoned emo kids hiding from the cold, cruel world there. Stepped over them and went down the other side.

Kiss the ground, we made it.

Took a moment in the shade.

"I win!"


Braved trespass charges§§ to sit on someone's front steps.

The Monster would like to conclude with a little Public Service Announcement.¶¶ Remember kids: the more you know...

%FOOTNOTE (percented): A gift from someone who knows I am fully capable of stuffed monster wrangling as an art form.

FOOTNOTE (crossed): Canon G12, for those of you scoring at home.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): Flowers make everything more glamourous.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): Lower Downtown. Used to be a scary industrial area. Now the hub of tragic hipness and kids you want to throw off your lawn.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): Which we decided to skip. You know how hard it is to get pot smoke residue out of a monster?

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): Poor, sweet man; he didn't realise that "awkward" is just my natural state of being.

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): I can say this, as am now expert on monsters.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): No art is as serious as art you can climb on.

§§FOOTNOTE (boggle): Seriously - I opened a gate and went in for that shot. Totally worth it since I didn't get caught.

¶¶FOOTNOTE (magic wands): Let's just consider that proactive community service to balance out our prior trespassing on private property. Kharma!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The NFL Wishes Me a Happy Birthday

If they really loved me, they'd fix the labour dispute and let me believe in a 2011 season.

"Fantasy Football" is taking on sinister meaning.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Evolution of Footnotes

I want to learn to do footnotes like they do on Grantland.

I know some of you would appreciate it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


From: Marin
To: Brother
Sent: Tue, May 17, 2011 6:20:48 AM
Subject: Re: Eye Dissection

Can I put that on the blog? I won't use any dirty words.

From: "Brother"
To: "Marin"
Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 9:16:27 AM
Subject: Re: Eye Dissection

Well, sure. And it wouldn't hurt anything if you used dirty words.

Dr. Doom Dissects an Eyeball

From: "Brother"
To: "Marin" (et al)
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2011 7:09:55 PM
Subject: Eye Dissection

Hey Guys -

As a preferred younger sibling, Victor got to go to CJ's class last week to dissect eyeballs and CJ's teacher just posted this picture on her blog. Pretty cool.


Sometimes when you have an older brother, the world is a much cooler place.

Go ahead... click for big.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dr. Doom and the Tongue of Steering

Now for something completely different.

Friday was Dr. Doom's birthday. As My-Former-Sister-In-Law-Let's-Just-Call-Her-Elizabeth had the boys starting Friday, our side§ of the family celebrated Thursday night.

The nephews got their Nintendo 3DSs that night. Tallest Hairiest Nephew is going to have a meager birthday in August, but I suspect he thinks it's worth it.#

This, by the way, is a family trait††:

FOOTNOTE (crossed): Thank goodness. The whole dead cat thing was too grey to leave at the top of the page for too long.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): Anybody want to start a pool on how long I will continue to think that's funny? Also note, that's what I call her when I talk about her IRL. Like, with my mouth.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): Plus the Wicked Stepmother, who I suspect is her own side.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): The boys also got golf clubs, and since we're heading into golf season, THN got all his big birthday presents Thursday.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): Mostly because he said, "AntiM, you've made me the happiest kid in the whole world!"

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): His grandfather would have you believe it came from his grandmother's side, but I have pictures that would prove this is a homozygous congenitality. I may have just made that last word up.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

You Can Skip This Post

No, really. I won't be offended. This is a maudlin post full of bad photos and it's definitely an exercise in self-indulgence.

Though those of you who've been around awhile may appreciate this FB post from my brother:

Cat for Scale ceased to exist on this mortal coil April 8. He was 21, he was euthanised and he never had a health problem or a noticeable ache or pain until the last two weeks of his life. In fact, the many scans and prods and sucks and bleeds and samples and tests yielded nothing.

He just couldn't stand up reliably anymore.

He didn't eat more than a couple of tablespoons of food a day.

He had no interest in kitty treats.

He didn't even have any interest in my dinner.

He spent all day in a kitty bed. I'm going to take it as a testament to his love for me that he hauled his poor little body upstairs for a couple of nights - even though he could hardly walk on flat ground - to curl up next to me.

After that, I carried him up to my bed every night and down to his bed every morning.

It broke my heart to see my sweet, dopey old companion laid low by perversions of age and time like that. I know deep, deep down - so far it's just an abstract batch of words - that it was a mercy and a matter of dignity to put him to sleep.

But I can't shake the feeling to this day that I somehow failed him.

He was the least photogenic cat I've ever seen. That didn't stop me from trying, nor is it going to stop me from collecting all my old Cat for Scale blogphotos here.

Look at him:

He looked stoned...

...or startled...

...or asleep...

...often looking the wrong way...

...rarely in action...

...but always For Scale.

Now I wish I'd taken more pictures.

Thank you for letting me indulge.