Monday, December 31, 2012

My Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man

Is he strong?  Listen, bud.  He's got radioactive blood.

2012 marked the fiftieth birthday of the Amazing Spider-man, my favorite superhero.  I meant, for months, to blog about my love for this character, and why he means so much to me (being a fictional character, it's kind of strange how much I see him as an actual person, a friend even), but never felt ambitious enough.  I knew it would take a while, and even if I wrote for hours, I would leave something out, such as the humanity of the character, the relatability of Peter Parker, his unique look and mannerisms.

But then I realized: if I just recorded my thoughts in front of a microphone, I could say whatever came in my head, and be done in fifteen minutes, whereas it would take a day or two to say as much in a blog.

So, here you go.

This still ended up taking a while longer than I expected it to, but hey, Spidey's worth it.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Birthmark

I was sitting at Der Weinerschnitzel today, having a chili dog and mulling over my failures in life, when a family came in.  I glanced over at them, then went back to eating. 

But then I paused.  There had been something wrong with the boy.  I looked over once again to see a little boy, around five years old, standing in the line.  He was blond and cute and antsy, stomping his feet to shake off some of the snow . . . but there was something on his forehead. 

I stared harder, willing my eyesight to improve somehow.  There was a brown splotch on the boy's temple, right above his eyebrow, about two inches square.  At first I thought it was a bruise, but it was too red for that.  Some kind of growth, maybe?  A cancerous growth?

But no, I realized that what it had to be was a birthmark.  A big brown puzzle-piece shaped birthmark, smack in the center right of his forehead.

Holy moley, kids.  What would life be like to have a big stain like that on your face, not only in childhood, but for the rest of your life?  What nicknames would you get, what beatings would you encourage, what complexes would you develop, noticing that the first thing anybody notices when they look at you was the big discoloration on your temple.  This poor child.

And I started to think of my own life, and how miserable I've been for so long, finding things to complain about even on days when nothing bad happens.  Sure, I am a bit of a failure in life.  Sure, I lost my job again yesterday.  Sure, I'm somehow both skinny and fat.  Sure, no woman will allow me to touch her, and when I've done it anyway, they've twitched and shook as though I'd dumped on some fire ants.  Sure, I have very little money right now.  Sure, my car's heater has broken, but I still owe nearly two thousand dollars to repair it from last time.  Sure, what little talent I've been given in this life I have squandered by being too afraid of rejection to ever put myself out there.  Sure, I will die alone, and soon.

As I finished my meal, my heart was filled with a warmth that even the frigid temperatures outside (and in my car) might not extinguish.  Life is hard, yes, but it could be so much worse.  I may have a lot of problems, and even more defects as a person, BUT AT LEAST I DIDN'T HAVE A BIG DARK BIRTHMARK ON MY FACE. 

With that kind of freedom, I could start again.  I could move away and begin a new life, and make of it as I wish.  I could approach a pretty girl and say something to her, confident that whatever her reaction, she wouldn't be gazing in nausea at my forehead.  I could get a job somewhere, start saving up, get a new car, and let it take me wherever my heart (my newly-warmed, newly hopeful heart) might wish to take me.

I stood, straighter than before, and moved toward the exit, glancing at the poor, saintly child with tears in the corners of my eyes, wishing I might be able to thank him, encourage him, tell him that although things are tough, they--

Up close, I saw that it was no birthmark. 

It was a temporary tattoo of a Pokemon he'd applied himself, now fading almost to unrecognition. 

Stupid fucking kid.

Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24th, 2012

I haven't posted on here in quite a while.  I've been really busy, and both my writing and my podcasting has suffered.  I didn't even get a chance to do my yearly viewing of LOVE ACTUALLY, which I'm sure my buddy Jeff managed to do this week.

Even so, I still watched it in my heart.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Where's Your Messiah Now, Moses?

I was taking my four year old nephew to the store today to look at toys (it was actually to pick up sour cream and hashbrowns, but who's counting?), when he said a disturbing thing.

He wanted the Skylanders game, and I told him it was very expensive, so he'd probably be better off asking Santa for it.  Then he said, "Santa Claus isn't real.  He's just a man in a costume."

Well, that really gave me pause.  That a four year old would say such a thing doesn't seem natural.  Four year olds should believe in all myths: unicorns, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, wishing on a star, true love, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings, cheaters never prosper, the earth is six thousand years old, if you swallow a watermelon seed one will grow in your stomach, Miley Cyrus has talent, breaking a mirror gives you seven years bad luck, four leaf clovers give good luck, people with red hair are evil, if you step on a crack it'll break your mother's back, there's a pill that can make your unit grow, Tom Cruise marries for love, someday your prince will come, and there are no monsters--no real ones.

I tried to skirt around the issue, telling him that Santa comes every year, and he did when I was a boy too, and who else brings us those presents if we've been good, to millions of boys and girls?

Finally, I sighed, and realized that all the chatter around me must have been true, and that my little nephew ceased believing . . . because Obama was re-elected President.  Sigh.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Chilling Sound of Your Doom

Can we "spring forward" soon?




I know some of you out there delight at images such as these.  But then, so did the Nazis.


Saturday, November 03, 2012

My Waste of Time

Right about the time our third episode of the Dunesteef hit the podosphere, a friend of mine suggested that Big and I were wasting our time with this particular endeavor. He was trying to make a point--a positive one, I'm sure--but I took it badly, and have never, ever forgotten it. As far as I know, he never listened to the show again, and he's the kind of guy who would've told me if he did.

But here we are, more than four years later. We're st--wait, let me leave Big out of this for a moment. I'm still doing the show (two shows now), and while there have been a couple of moments where we came close to shutting it all down (even going so far as to record a final episode a year and a half ago), I've never completely given up on the idea of podcasting as a valid use of my time. It fulfills a dream of mine, which was to be a radio host or DJ, and also provides me with a creative outlet every single week. I get to drive over to my friend's house and do battle with his family over his attention, and hang out with Big, go on walks, and try to make him (and an invisible audience) laugh.

But it is a great deal of work, and as my credit card statement reminds me, not extraordinarily lucrative. I don't know why, but for every minute of finished podcast, it takes several minutes of recording, transferring, editing, saving, transferring back, levelizing, and problem checking, and no matter how much time I assume something will take, it always takes more. Plus, because I get a kind of creative fulfillment from this work, I often ignore my other creative endeavors in favor of it, or simply have little energy (or time) to pursue those.

We--sorry, I--decided it would be a worthy pursuit to record thirteen shows for Halloween last month, and put them up in the days leading up to the 31st, as a tribute to my favorite holiday, and hoping that it encouraged people to toss us a few spare dollars. It too ended up being way more time-consuming than I ever would've guessed, stopped being fun at one point, and there were times when I wanted to throw my hands in the air and forget the whole thing, since nobody was going to care either way.

I didn't quit, in the end, but I sure as hell burned myself out with that ordeal, and haven't edited anything since then.

Also, last night we had our very first in-house guest on the show, and it ended up taking us into the wee hours of the morning to do all the recording, even though we still left a couple of things we'd planned to get to on the to-do list. I had to try and get some real dollar-value work done this morning, and it was hard to manage with less than five hours of sleep.

(do you have a point? my inner Donald Duck Devil is asking)

The point is, I sometimes wonder if it is a waste of time, as my friend suggested. And then I get a letter like I did today. A listener in New York wrote us, talking about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and our thirteen episode marathon helping keep him sane during the insanity that followed.

If I can be so crass as to quote from his message:
"Yesterday...I borrowed [a] bike to traverse across the East River and get to the office. It was a ghost town south of 39th Street. While I'm going through a scene of a post-apocalyptic city, I was listening to episode after episode of "13 Nights of Halloween." There are people filling jugs of water from fire hydrants, crowds of people surrounding libraries (the only locations with WiFi) and the streets are dark and abandoned, no lights from the stores or the lamps.

"I know it's hokey, but the normalizing conversation that Rish and Big were having kept my mind focused on the fact that this catastrophe was temporary, not the usual, and that reality would come back online soon."

He said that he wasn't able to dress up for Halloween this year or go to any parties, but listening to us talk about those things made him feel like he had. We made him think of times past when there were more trivial concerns and trials on his mind, and hope that those times came again. "Listening to Rish and Big," he said, "I *felt* like I was a part of that world. For whatever weird time, I *lived* through them and their experiences, which beats anything of mine."

This guy, who we've never met, said we were his favorite podcast, and when he really needed it, we were there for him.

Today, I don't feel like I wasted my time. Today, I'm ready to work on the podcast again.

Rish

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Trick or Treat?

So, I had various plans for Halloween night, a play with my uncle, a scary movie with my sister, trick or treating with my nephews.  But none of it ended up happening.  I put on a costume to greet the children who came to my door, but the stench of death (or maybe it was failure, they smell so much alike) kept them away.

I was bummed out that my favorite night of the year was pretty much squandered with blogging and work.

But ah well, somebody's got to burn in hell, to make y'all's paradise seem sunnier.

Regardless, I awoke this morning to some good news: another of my short stories has been podcast, and is available to listen to.  This one is called "The Visitor" and is presented on the Midnight Circle horror show. 

Link: http://midnightcircle.com/the-visitor

I wrote "The Visitor" about a decade ago, as part of a contest for a now-defunct horror website.  I didn't win the contest, and the feedback I received was . . . wait for it . . . that the story was predictable.  It tells the story of an old woman who returns to her woodland cottage to find a note from the Grim Reaper.

I thought it would be fun to write the story in Spanish, for my grandmother who was ill at the time.  I found that however limited my writing skill is in English, it's way more so in another language.  The podcast version is read by William Macrae-Smith, who kindly stuck to the English text.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"We're ready to believe you!"

October 2012

I think it was two years ago when my pal Rhett asked if I'd be interested in going ghost hunting with him the weekend before Halloween.  Of course, I said yes, but I must not have said it loud enough, because we didn't end up going, and last year, something happened to upset our plans.  So I made sure to let him know well in advance that I wanted to go this year, in no uncertain terms.

I've known Rhett since high school, and we became really good friends our Senior year.  He is something of a believer in the supernatural, and has told many an entertaining ghost story over the years.  He even kindly offered to drive out there and arrange the whole thing (which is a nice change).  We drove about an hour, listening to Oingo Boingo, talking about THE AVENGERS, and got their just before it was about to start.

The location was a pre-Civil War army base (and town) that had been converted in the 1960'[s into a state park and museum.  The park gives tours throughout the year, but on the weekend before Halloween, they give a special, haunted tour. Or maybe I should say "haunted," in case a prostate-sucking lawyer is once again reading my blog.

There was a ranger who gives tours and information, and at seven pm, he took us into a little old fashioned schoolhouse where he did a bit of a presentation.  He talked about the history of the camp, and the various ways people had died there (this was prompted by me), and shared photographs and experiences people had had while visiting.  There are three different phenomena he said photographers had captured: orbs (which are circles of light in photos), ribbons (which are colored lines or squiggles in the air), and apparitions (which are . . . something else).  He showed us examples, then debunked some of the photos.  But some of the things captured remain unexplained (there were a couple that looked like a little girl, and one or two more that had definite[?] human shapes).

The ranger was trying to be impartial, but you could tell that he was not a believer.  He never came out and called the whole thing hokum, but when I asked him later, he sort of shrugged the general idea off.  He was a nice guy, but he could have scared us all much better had he only played up the mystery a bit more.  Not that that was his job, necessarily, but you know me, and what I mean.  I counted around a dozen children in the audience, so maybe that encouraged him to leave the brake on, and keep it from being genuinely scary.  But still, who takes an easily-frightened kid on a ghost tour?

So, we were in a group of thirty to thirty-five, and after the presentation, we were invited to walk the grounds, the stagecoach inn, the schoolhouse, yards, general store, and the nearby camp cemetery.  Rhett and I immediately broke off the main group and drove over to the cemetery.

It was a cloudy night, and we were the only ones there, so all was dark--like completely pitch black.  I mean, it was so dark that the only thing you could see was the stars and whatever was in front of you when your flash went off.  That was a perfect opportunity for a really terrifying experience, but no "beings" showed up in the quarter-second flashes of light.

There were many identical headstones, spreading in a nonsensical pattern, and later I found that they say "Unknown" on them.  Originally, they were wooden markers, but they'd been lost over the years, and even though the authorities know there are bodies down there (from electronic mapping), they have no idea who is buried where.
Rhett originally pulled onto the wrong road (because it was so dark, and this camp is out in the middle of nowhere), and backing us out again, we went into a gully, where we were lucky to get out again, and that it did no damage to the car (although he said it bent up the license plate).

So, let me expand on what I said earlier. The camp is supposed to be haunted, and people have recorded voices, experienced things like a little girl laughing, being tapped on the shoulder while working, EVP aplenty, and felt presences. Mostly, though, it's been photographs, as the slideshow depicted (the photos he showed us were all taken on this yearly tour and sent via their Facebook page). Apparently, there are i-Phone apps for electromagnetic spectrum and infrared, as well as EKG and custom ghost-hunting stuff. But I have no i-Phone or similar, and I didn't think to bring a recording device, but I had my camera, and proceeded to take a ton of photographs (originally, I wrote "about seventy" here, but that was an understatement).

The funny thing is, at the very beginning of the event (in the schoolhouse), my "battery low" light started going off, so I knew I was in trouble (and I hadn't brought any spare batteries), but it didn't actually die until the tour was over nearly three hours later.

Because I hardly ever see Rhett, and because of our shared history, I pretty much couldn't shut up the whole evening. Maybe that wasn't conducive to ghost attracting. Sorry, man.

I've learned from experience that it's difficult to intersperse a real blog entry with a bunch of photos, so I'll split this up into sections.

PHOTO SECTION 1

Here we are first arriving, right before night fell.
My buddy Rhett caught one of those orbs in a picture and showed it to the park ranger/host.  Oddly enough, there's an orb in my picture of him doing that.

Another cool one here (zoomed in so you can see the dude in the doorway).

All in all, I took one hundred and eighty-six photographs (which is about a hundred more than I thought I had taken).
 Some of them are nice and spooky.

 Some of them are pretty banal.





Actually, there's something in this one.
 But most of them look like this:



After the cemetery, we went to the stagecoach inn.  It was small and rickety, and done up as a museum, trying to keep it looking as it would have when it was up and running (it was a stop for the Pony Express, and there was an amusing handbill listing the rates and times for letter delivery).  It was all done up to look as it did, with roped-off areas, furniture, and photographs from the era.  The most interesting thing in there was the bullethole in one of the walls from a rifle that accidentally went off and blew through to the next room (the hole continued through the hall).


At one point, Rhett was trying to get into the inn from the balcony, and the door would not open, as if something were pushing on it from behind, sort of trapping us out there.  Turns out it was another ghost hunter, who didn't want us to go in where he was taking pictures.  Rhett thought he was an asshole, but I wondered if I was talking too much, and that guy didn't want somebody to spoil the mood.

The park ranger was in the general store, where you could buy history books, souvenirs, and a compilation of local ghost stories.  I bought some candy, because it reminded me of something I used to eat thirty years ago.  We asked the ranger about the history of the place, and the kind of supernatural experiences people had had there.  He said that ghost hunters had filmed there, using night vision and such, and at one point, had asked the ghost of the little girl her name, and they had recorded what sounded like her saying "Elizabeth."

Again, the dude didn't believe there was anything paranormal going on, and had never gotten so much as a bad feeling, but he didn't come out and say, "You losers make me sick.  Ghosts don't frigging exist.  Angels, however..."

Rhett and I went back to the schoolhouse, discovering that everyone had already gone home (traditionally, the group would reunite and show the pictures they had taken, but it was cold out, and nobody seemed to want to).  It was all over, and the ranger said he would be by at nine-thirty to lock up, but I had wanted to experience something, and wasn't willing to leave, despite the cold.

A black cat kept coming around us, and I didn't find myself despising it, since it was such a friendly cat, and a sort of representation of Halloween and scariness.  That in itself is a little bit unusual.

We wandered around, snapping photographs and listening for voices or Cure songs or something, and finally, I went into the dark schoolroom by myself.  The lights were all off for some reason (it didn't strike me as strange until just now, since the tour was still ostensibly going on, and that was the only restroom unless you wanted to use the bushes), and after taking several pictures (which turned out so dull I shan't post them here), I simply stood there, in the dark.

I wanted to feel something.  Or hear something.  I spoke to the ghost aloud, asking for her to make her presence known.  I asked her if her name was Elizabeth.  There were some motion detectors in the corners of the ceiling, and at one point, they started to blink, even though I was completely still.

Nahh, that didn't happen either, but I expected SOMETHING to happen.  My imagination provided me with some interesting What If's, but the place just didn't FEEL haunted.  I never had the sensation that I wasn't wanted there, or that something was creeping up on me in the blackness, or even that I wasn't alone in the whole building.

Finally, Rhett came in to tell me he was ready to go.  The park ranger arrived to lock up, turning on the lights, and then a woman and her daughters came inside, hoping they hadn't missed the ghost hunt.  They had, and I could tell that the mom was way more disappointed than the kids, who were eager to . . . do whatever this generation does for fun.

The ranger closed up the school and left us there, me and Rhett, and this woman and her kids.  We hung out with them outside the schoolhouse for a few minutes, and my camera finally ran out of battery.  But one of the teen girls kept capturing dozens of "orbs" in her photographs.  I didn't believe they were ghosts (and I still don't), but it was kind of remarkable that the girl would take a picture and Rhett would take one of the same thing, and hers would have orbs in it but his wouldn't.  In fact, she could take two pictures of the same thing and one would include orbs but the next one wouldn't.

The woman kept telling us stories of her own brushes with the supernatural (for example, she had gotten a premonition that her husband was going to die, so she told him about it and he made fun of her that whole day . . . but the next day he died in a freak accident), but I was so cold by then and ready to go home.

I will add this little bit of personality so you can go on judging me: while I appreciated this stranger's enthusiasm (she just knew that every one of those floating circles in the photographs were the souls of people who had not moved on for one reason or another), I was probably more interested in her teenage daughters.  It was dark, so they were hard to see, but at least one was really attractive, and I couldn't help but think of a teen Rish Outfield, going on a ghost hunt with a bunch of girls.  Maybe something would happen, maybe it wouldn't.  Maybe I'd get to hold one girl's hand, maybe comfort another who was spooked, maybe swap spit with the one who was just there to have a good time.  The thing about being young is, there are so many possibilities ahead of you.  You're learning about life, and boundaries, and experimentation, and so are they.  I didn't get nearly enough of that growing up, and it's hard not to be bitter about it now.

Rhett and I talked about such things on the drive home.  He had a lot more of those magical teenage nights, where hormones were raging and options were endless.  I envy anybody who can look back on that time with fondness and only mild embarrassment.

I'm at work again today, and talking to other people in between writing this.  I guy I sort of know here said that he too went on a ghost tour on Saturday, but his was in a bus, where they told various ghost stories of the haunted houses they drove past.  That sounded pretty good to me, and he said that mine sounded better than his.  Maybe we'll switch next year.

PHOTO SECTION 2

 It's fun to look at the old buildings, furnishings, and decor.
 

 This is where I spent the majority of the ghost hunt, the schoolhouse.

 This one turned out pretty spooky (if you don't recognize that it's me in the photograph).
 Heck, maybe it's spooky if you do recognize me.

My imagination conjured a human-like shape standing at the bottom of the darkened stairs.  So I waited until someone walked by to get a picture of it.
It's easy to imagine a face or eyes underneath one of these old beds.


Or even better, a creepy bed and a creepy baby carriage.

So, the majority (according to the tourguide) of captured "paranormal phenomena" in photographs is what they refer to as "orbs."  Like this one.


This photo, however, had several.

Another example is what they call "ribbons."  All in all, I found two photos with ribbons in them.


I caught several stars in this picture.  Except that some of them are in front of the building.

Lastly, I took a ton of pictures, and it's possible that one or two of them have something interesting in them.  Apparently, by playing with the contrast and zooming in, people have spied some amazing stuff.  I don't know if I really wanted photographic evidence of ghosts, to be honest.  Of course, there are more terrifying possibilities than even that...
Rish "Egon" Outfield

Friday, October 19, 2012

Stupid Thing of the Week

So, I was working on a TV show this week, just as an extra, playing a soldier in 1963.  They had us change into our uniforms in the honey wagons (which are the restrooms that are part of trailers), and while getting into those awkward, scratchy outfits, a dude came into the mens room and took up the single unoccupied stall.  He then proceeded to pour several cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup into the toilet.

At least that's what it sounded like.

Oh wait, that's not what I wanted to write about.  Weird that I got on here and typed that.  Sort of gives all blogs everywhere a bad name.

So, what I wanted to complain about was, that while I was on the set, I ran into another extra who I had seen on a couple of other film shoots.  He was a dorky, depressing, gawpy, overweight, dumpy-looking, balding dude, and I became sad just looking at him.  Because we had worked together before, I ended up talking to him for a while, sitting by him at lunch, and sort of feeling sorry for the hand this guy was dealt.

And then, a crewmember came up to us and said, "Hey, are you two brothers, then? You look so much alike I knew you had to be related."

Sigh.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gonna Get A Big Head Soon

So, a few days ago, Marshal Latham repodcast my short story reading of "The Scottish Scene," a little witches' curse story I wrote that lost the Masters of the Macabre contest during the summer.  Just yesterday, Hugh O'Donnell podcast my ghost story "Old Man River" on his podcast.  And then today, I got an acceptance letter from an online horror magazine for my possession romp "Overtaken."  It's really kind of wrong, this stuff happening to me.

The weird thing is, I submitted this story last month, and immediately got an email back saying the message was undeliverable.  I figured I'd sent it to the wrong email address, so I tried it again, and got the same email, saying I could not send the message as requested.  Well, I cursed and growled, and asked The Horned One to do his nasty mojo on the magazine in question . . . and then, somehow, I get an acceptance letter from 'em.*  Next thing you know, I'll be getting a call from an old would-be girlfriend telling me she had a dream about me, and it made her so happy she wanted to tell me allllllll about it.

But I have been on something of a writing bender over the last couple of days.  I finished my yearly "October Scary Story" on Friday, and immediately started on a new one.  Then yesterday, I finished that second story at work, and started on a third today.  But never fear, I later decided the second one isn't truly finished, so I could still fail miserably on that one.

Guess I should keep on keepin' on, and see if I can't get more positive out of it, since I appear to be in Bizarro Universe right now.

Fudge, I forgot to mention, I got a call today about a screenwriting project that could possibly bear fruit in the future.  Weird.

Me Am Rish Outfield

*Oh, and another strange thing is, I somehow got the title of my own story wrong in my introductory paragraph, and they STILL bought it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

He Keeps On Rolling Along

I have often accused myself of always writing the same kind of stories.  Who else is around to accuse me of it, after all?  But one of the subjects/topics/tropes I go back to time and time again is a story where somebody tells someone else a story.  Just such a tale is "Old Man River," which is being presented on the Way of the Buffalo podcast this week.

"Old Man River" is one of two stories I wrote last year with the same premise: an old man tells a young man a story about something strange that happened to him.  The other ("One Last Call For Alcohol") takes place in a bar, and this one takes place in a convenience store.  I purposely tried to have one old man whose motives were a pure as . . . well, I guess that awful clear goo my sister is always putting on her hands to kill germs, and the other who's got ulterior motives.  That way, I could tell myself that they weren't both the same story.

They weren't, I tell you.

Anyway, Sir Hugh O'Donnell over at http://wayofthebuffalopodcast.blogspot.com/2012/10/story-old-man-river-by-rish-outfield.html has kindly taken my story and produced it in audio, read by the lovely (presumably) Dave Robison of the Round Table Podcast (I couldn't have done a better old man voice than he did).  I really dug Dave's voice when I got to be interviewed on his show, and while I plan to take advantage of his vocal talents (and generous nature) soon, here's your chance to listen to his dulcet tones, and decide which old man story this one was.

Hugh also stuck some subtle music in there.  A good audio production and reading always seem to elevate any story, regardless of the quality.  At least that's been my experience.

Old Man Rish Outfield

Monday, October 08, 2012

Old Dog, New Trick

My niece has a little white dog that has gotten old, and pretty much outlived its usefulness. It used to want to play, run around, have fun, go for rides, chase a sock, bite the toddlers, but now it's about to be thirteen, and it mostly wants to sleep now. Or whine. I recognize that this is going to happen to everybody, but the dog is not so great to have around anymore, you know?*

My niece still lives in my hometown, which is a farming community forty minutes away, so I rarely see the dog. But this week, we had the dog here, because it had an appointment or a date or something, so I've had to put up with the scratching to go outside, and the whining to be let in, and the begging for whatever I happen to be eating, and the watching of "Adventure Time," which really has to stop.

Tonight, the dog wanted to go out to use the bathroom, but I was busy with something (okay, it was just wasting time, but it was my choice to waste it, you know what I mean? I didn't want that interrupted), and I resented having to walk twelve feet to let the dog out the back door. It was dark, and I put the string on the dog (it's a little rope tied to the back step so the dog can only go so far and we don't have to go hunting for it), and let it go about its business.

Not one minute later, I hear the dog barking outside the window. I understand that as a person gets older, it takes longer to go to the bathroom, but apparently this doesn't apply to dogs. I sat there for a minute or three, hoping somebody else would bring the dog back into the house. My sister had just gotten home from work, and had three hours of reality shows to catch up on, so she couldn't get off the couch.**

The dog was barking furiously, and I'll be honest, it made me furious. Finally, I got up out of my comfy chair, crossed out of my room, into the kitchen, and opened the back door. The dog wasn't at the door, but was on the lawn, still barking up a storm. It was agitated about something out there, so I flipped on the porch light to see.

It was the boogeyman. The dog was doing its best to keep it away, and it apparently didn't dare approach beyond the edge of the lawn. I called the dog up to me, took off the string, and angrily closed the door behind us. "Stupid dog," I said.

Rish Outfield

*Oh, by the way, the dog is female, and should be referred to as "she." I recognize this, but my faux hatred for the dog bit only works if I refer to her as "it." You understand.

**I say this as though I'm so much better, but I did about two hours of work this whole day (while she was off doing sickening nurse activities like medicating bedsores, changing adult diapers, and applying leeches), and I'm in no real position to complain.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Whosoever Wieldeth This Hammer...

My four year old nephew is going to be Thor for Halloween, so I've been scouring costume sales for the best way to do it.  I got him one of those muscle costumes, a blond pageboy wig, and we've been trying to find a helmet (they're noplace due to him not wearing the helmet in AVENGERS) and cheap hammer. 

Today, I took him to a costume shop, where I looked in the adult costumes for a Loki outfit I could wear to compliment him.  I found a huge, scary-looking adult Thor hammer and handed it to my nephew.
"What do you think of that?" I asked.

He promptly swung it through the air and hit me in the chicharon with it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Babysitter of the Year 667

My nephew (the one year old) wanted a drink, so I got him a little cup (apparently, it's called a "sippy cup," though I feel a bit inane referring to it that way, similar to how I do when I catch myself saying "potty" instead of bathroom) of water.  I figured I'd only put a tiny bit of water in it, knowing he tends to spill if I give him too much. 

Then I left him alone, as I am wont to do (some folks never learn), but came back in when I heard a splash.

He had pushed a chair up to the fishtank, climbed up, and was using the cup to scoop water out to pour on himself, the chair, and the floor.  As I watched in mounting horror, he took a big drink of the fishwater.

I did not tell his mother.

Unrelated.
But it could've been worse, right?  Could've been the toilet.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Babysitter of the Year Part 666

September 13, 2012

My sister got a new job this week, so I've been taking care of the monsters during the mornings.  The four year old just started preschool, so I dropped him off and was alone with the one year old.  We went out to eat at Wendy's, and I was impressed with his ability to actually eat the food placed before him, instead of make up excuses why he wouldn't eat. 
Before...
Unfortunately, once I got him home, I trusted him to just play without much supervision.  Almost immediately, the one year old somehow got hold of the food coloring, and thought it was .  . what, food?  Soda?  Poison?  I'm not sure, but he managed to get the lid off one (blue) when I saw him playing with something.  I did nothing for a minute or so, but when I looked in on him again, he had gotten the lid off the green, and poured it all over himself. 

He enjoyed my frantic attempts to clean it off his fingers, clothes, and face, but in trying to help, it got on my clothes, hands, the sink, bathtub, and floor.  The carpet has seen better days.

The only thing I did right was think to take a picture before attempting to remove it all.
...After

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Choose Life?

I first saw TRAINSPOTTING in 1995.  I remember the experience fairly well.  First off, I couldn't understand a darn word being said, and it was the very first time I ever used the Closed Caption option on a television to read the dialogue in a programme.  Secondly, the poor sod who soils his girlfriend's bed?  The lesson I took from that scene was that if you didn't have sex for an extended period of time, that would happen.

The third thing was this sense of superiority I felt, thinking I was so much better than these people, with their disgusting habits and laundry list of sinful activities.  I could look down on them in 1995, and I would look down on them when the trump blew and they all burned in ever-lasting hellfire.*  Sickening junkie pervert losers.

Well, here it is 2012, and I just watched TRAINSPOTTING for the second time.  And it was a remarkably different experience for me.    First off, I understood everything, even the slang, and even Robert Carlysle's crazy rants.  My constant exposure to BBC television and the Scottish movies Jeff has made me watch has opened up my ears to various previously-foreign dialects.**  Heck, I believe the VHS version was even the American dub, where they attempted to make the dialogue more palatable for folks in Lawrence and Des Moines.

Secondly, well, yeah, I've had it explained to me.

Thirdly, though, was what a remarkable change in attitude I've had over the past near two decades.  In watching it again, I actually found myself envying Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, and the others.

Yes, they are heroin-addicts, but they have drive, they live for something, they wake up in the morning with a goal, a tangible, real goal.  And it's something they can achieve.  They live for something, have an obsession that they'll do anything for, which I really don't have.  The lifestyle seemed kind of romantic, worst toilet in Scotland notwithstanding.
Plus, I really responded to the soundtrack this time, and didn't even notice it back then.

I'd be crazy if I said the dead baby scene still didn't bother me, but I still thought, "Heroin.  That's something I never considered.  But I should."  Why not?  Could it possibly screw up my life any more than it already is?  And hey, maybe I'd have something exciting to look forward to every morning (or more likely, afternoon) when I woke up.

Rish "Spraintotter" Outfield

*Okay, this is a huge exaggeration.  I may have been a different type of person in those days, but I was never a fucking asshole.

**All those faces were so new to me when the movie was new (or "new," since I saw it on video), but so many of them are familiar now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 29th again

Today is 8-29.  If the date, August 29th, 1997 doesn't have any significance to you . . . thank Sarah, John, and "Uncle Bob."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong R.I.P.

On Monday, Big and I recorded an episode of the Dunesteef to accompany a story by Michael Anthony called "Remember Mars," in which an elderly ex-astronaut is spending his twilight years in a facility in which nobody recognizes that he landed on Mars. In fact, the people around him don't believe that America even actually landed on Mars. It's a sad, melancholy, depressing, but ultimately uplifting little tale, and afterward, Big and I talked a bit about the space program, the space shuttle and Apollo missions, and how nobody really cares about that sort of thing anymore (Curiosity notwithstanding).
We talked briefly about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and what it must have been like to watch the moon mission, then decided to halt all that and go look at the stars (Big lives in the end area of his town, with much land undeveloped, so you can usually see quite a few stars and clear sky, and we tend to do a mile and a half walk every Monday, just for fun).
Well, yesterday, I saw the announcement that Neil Armstrong had died. He was 82, and I responded to the sad news, but my niece had no idea who he was, and my uncle thought it was Lance Armstrong I was talking about.

I often think about the space race, and what it would have been like to be a kid when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and what an experience that might have been. What do I have that is equal to that? Baby Jessica being rescued? When Haley's Comet went overhead and I couldn't see it from my front yard? The release of the Michael Keaton Batman film? The year that dead guy won the election over the actual, living candidate?
 
I don't know, really.  But Neil Armstrong (as a concept more than as a man) is really fascinating to me.  That a man, at thirty-eight years of age, would accomplish something no one had ever done before (and only a half-dozen would ever do) . . . where do you go from there?
 
It's kind of like Harry Potter defeating the forces of evil when he was only, what, eighteen?
  Not that I'll ever achieve something comparable, but it is a question.  Maybe there's a story in that.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Walk of the Living Dead

My friend Big works in the news, and he mentioned to me a couple of years ago that there had been a zombie walk in the state capitol.  A zombie walk is a strange sort of gathering where strangers dress as the undead and have a kind of parade for no real reason I can think of.  He and I thought it would be fun to participate in the next zombie walk, then forgot about it until the following year, when Big found out about it on the news just as he had the year before.  We had missed that one too.  So, when 2012 came along, we became a bit more careful, vowing we'd go to it this year.

I had spoken about it with my eleven year old niece, and she was excited about the prospect.  My four year old nephew was timid at first, but then became thrilled with the idea of going.  In fact, when I got to work on that zombie movie earlier this summer, and came home to show off my makeup, he was disappointed that I hadn't taken him along, thinking it had been that zombie walk I had promised him.

Well, if you know me at all, you know that I wanted to dress the kids up as zombies and take them along more than I even wanted to go myself.  We went to thrift stores, and picked out clothes we could tear up and soil for this outing, and I went to the party supply store to get makeup for us and Big's children.  I was even tempted to dress up the one year old, but that probably wouldn't have been wise.  We tested the makeup on him last week, and he wouldn't stand still and rubbed off what little I got on him.  Ah well, next year.

I was pretty disappointed and upset today when Big told me his kids no longer wanted to go, and very nearly told him to force them to participate and get a divorce.  In the end, though, his youngest daughter changed her mind, and rose in my estimation tenfold.  My niece did her own makeup, my sister made up my nephew, and I did what I could to create a unique zombie look for myself.  It felt a great deal like Halloween a couple of months early.

An army of zombies gathered in the city park, some with only minor ornamentation, and some with amazing, disgusting, or darned attractive costumes.  Weirdly, the split between male and female zombies was way off, and not in the way I would have anticipated.  And many of those undead girls were young and attractive.

We began in the park, the made a procession down the sidewalk, looping around downtown streets, amusing many, making some uncomfortable, then finally crossing in front of the capitol building and back to the park.  My nephew really got into it, reaching for onlookers and moaning, and though there were a couple of babies spattered with fake blood in strollers, I'm certain he was the cutest kid there.

There were hundreds of photographers and many journalists there tonight, so I went to one of the newspaper websites to see if any of our group got in the shots they used (we didn't).  Unfortunately, I also made the (oft-made) mistake of reading the comments at the bottom of the story.  The second one down read, "It disgusts me that in this difficult time of recession and hardship that so many would choose to waste their time on this worthless endeavor."  Because all of the words were spelled correctly, I can't rule out the possibility that it was my father who wrote the comment.

Now, my first inclination was to yell "Oh, eff you" at the computer.  Actually, my first inclination was to chastise myself for having read the story comments, because that never ceases to bum me out, shock my senses, or piss me off.  But my second thought was to close the website and go onto Facebook, where people who had participated were commenting on how much fun they had.  They shared their pictures, and I found myself, my nephew, and Big's daughter in some of them. 

I took a long shower, managing to get nearly all of the makeup and blood off of me, tried to get a bit of work done, then decided to go to bed a bit early (for some crazy reason, I couldn't go to sleep until after five last night).  I turned out the light and closed my eyes, and suddenly remembered the criticism of that one comment on the Tribune website.  And I had to consider his words (or her words, I suppose assholes can be female too).  We are in a time of hardship and recession, and I could have been spending my evening either making some money, writing (I have a handful of stories still in progress that need constant care, or they'll die on the vine), or editing my podcast.  Instead, I spent quite a bit of money (what with the makeup, the costumes, the gas spent, and the meal afterward), and have little to show for my August 12th but an expanding waistline and a handful of photographs.

But you know, who cares what some troll on the internet thinks?  I went somewhere with my friend, and made a memory (hopefully a good one) with my nephew and niece.  I actually exercised, carrying the lad until my back started to bug me, and enjoyed the fresh air of a warm summer evening.  I had had a good time, and I had shared it with people that mean something to me.  One man's "waste of time" is another man's "new positive experience."

Glass half full, boys and girls.  Half full.

Rish "of the Living Dead" Outfield