Dear Bicyclists : I Totally Hate Your Guts

The other morning Peyton, the baby, woke up early, and, being the conscientious father, I decided that rather than having him wake up everybody else in the house that he and I would go and drive around for awhile. It was approaching 7 am and I was tired, having already been up with him for an hour, and I wanted to do something with him besides say “No!” and grab things out of his hands before they entered his mouth. So I grabbed the keys to the truck, loaded him up and we headed out for a morning drive around the lake.

“The lake” is White Rock Lake, and people of all shapes and sizes go there in the very early morning hours to run, walk, jog and ride bikes. It’s a lovely tranquil place to just drive (or run, walk, jog or ride bikes) around the lake and look out at the water. Noah loves going there to feed ducks and also try his hand at (very amateurish) fishing. I like to go look at the gigantic houses and just while away a little time before I realize how much money I’m blowing on gas.

So Peyton and I were driving and I’d come to the southern portion of the lake where the road diverges from the lakeside and I was out in residential land again and there’s a pack of about 20 bicyclists coming towards me. I knew from learning to ride a bike that the safest way to ride is towards traffic in a single file line, but these bicyclists were only doing the former and not the latter. Because of this there was a giant swarm of bikes and we were on a collision course with each other.

But I kept driving towards them. “They’ll realize they’re going to be killed and they’ll avoid me, the larger vehicle.” This did not happen.

I drove on, approaching them at about 35 mph. They kept on coming straight at me.

I got to about 15 feet from them before I steered clear of them. I also gave them a very noticeable finger, letting them know that I was number one and they weren’t.

The arrogance of some people! Where do they get off thinking that naturally I, the automobile driver, am going to avoid them just because they are on bicycles? “We are exercising and you are contributing to making Dallas one of the fattest cities in America,” was what I assumed they were thinking as they pedaled on.

So bicyclists, this is your warning. I will take you arrogant muthas down!

The Longest and Shortest Major League Baseball Games

Baseball, in this day and age, can seem to take an eternity to watch. Especially if you’re going into the 8th with a 0-0 tie on your hands. But the longest baseball game in major league play was played between the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The game started on May 9, 1984, and because of MLB rules, the teams had to quit playing at 12:59 am of May 10, so the teams came back the next day to finish what they’d started the day before. All in all, the game lasted 8 hours and 6 minutes, with a final score of 7-6 in 25 innings. The White Sox won, by the way, on a home run by right fielder Harold Baines. The shortest MLB game on record took place on September 28, 1919 between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. It took the Giants only 51 minutes to beat the Phillies, 6-1. [1. This information can be found almost anywhere on the Internet, but for more information you can check out the amazingly comprehensive Baseball Almanac.]

A Disturbing Trend in Children’s Birthday Parties

Being a dad I’ve hosted birthday parties in the past and have often had to go to birthday parties of the children of friends of ours. It’s a trade off – you buy my kid a gift and that entitles your child to receive a gift from my kid at your kid’s next party. Every parent is paying off the other parent so that their kids can get something at the birthday party when it rolls around to being your child’s time again.

And often you’ll put a lot of effort and caring into choosing that special birthday party gift. What does the child like? What is the age range on the gift? Does it have small parts and do they have a younger sibling that might choke on those parts? You want to make sure that you don’t get something that the kid won’t play with because more and more stores aren’t letting you return, or even exchange for that matter, toys that don’t have a receipt with them. You end up putting a lot of research into determining just what kind of present you’re going to buy.

But lately there’s a new trend that until now I hadn’t noticed – the host of the birthday party (the birthday partier, if you will) not opening their gifts that the invited got for said partier until after the party’s over and everyone’s gone home.

After your effort, aren’t you entitled to a little closure with that present that you took care to find and wrap? What’s up with that? You take your present to the party, your child has fun, and then you leave without the host opening their gifts. It’s like watching all the way up until the end of Star Wars and not seeing if the Rebels destroy the Death Star.

Anyway, I’m sounding the klaxon that this is a completely uncool trend. Let it end now, parents of would-be present non-openers. Don’t even try it, muthas.

Why is Everyone Scared of You When You’re Wearing a Ski Mask?

I remember when I was a kid that some kids (not me) when they were walking to school in the cold would wear various things – coats, gloves, hats, and sometimes the invaluably effective ski mask.

I always wanted one. I never got one.

They were awesome. Your face would be warm out in the cold. An efficient piece of clothing for keeping your nose from freezing.

Of course, if you wear one now, people look at you a little funny. You can see it on their faces. “Who’s that shady, yet warm, character over there? Is he going to rob me? Kill me? Maybe blow up a bomb?”

Everyone thinks you’re a terrorist or a bank robber or a mugger now if you wear a ski mask. Which is why I want to rehabilitate the ski mask’s reputation. Who’s with me?

I want a ski mask just so I can drive around with one on. People may stare but I’ll only do good thing while wearing my ski mask – help the environment, care for old people, be kind to animals, go shopping for groceries, all while wearing my trusty, warm and woolly ski mask.

Why can’t we all love the ski mask again? It never stopped loving us.

I Already Know How the Imaginext Dinosaur War Will Turn Out

My son loves Imaginext Dinosaurs, I mean, really loves them, loves them so much that he wants not just one red Tyrannosaurus Rex but also its partner, the looks-just-the-same-except-for-the-color green Tyrannosaurus Rex. Both are named Razor, by the way, but my son never calls them that. It’s always just “T-rex”. And those T-rexs live, of course, at T-rex Mountain. He loves these dinosaurs, which I suppose are probably the heirs to my old Adventure People from years ago in the 1970’s. And man, I loved those Adventure People.

And the dinosaurs are pretty cool. They move and make noises and stuff like that, but rather than just make them dinosaurs who coexist with each other, Fisher Price has turned it into a battle. From the Fisher Price site –

Imagine…a primitive civilization of humans and dinosaurs, living in a lush, green land. One side—the predators—are using up its natural resources, wiping out everything and everyone that gets in their way. The other side—the ecovores—want to preserve their land. And they’re willing to fight to make that happen.Will the predators succeed in destroying the land, causing their own extinction? Or will the ecovores stop the destruction and make the land a place where dinosaurs and humans can live together peacefully? In the world of Imaginext®, anything is possible!

Is it possible? Really? “If I had a hammer….”

Let me ask you this – did the predators win? Or the ecovores?

I don’t want to give this away, gentle reader, especially if you don’t know how this whole thing ends, but I really, really can’t help myself. I’m sorry. It’s just too difficult to keep such spoilerific information all to myself.

Okay, I’ll say it – they both lost!

Here’s how it happened.

The place is Pangea, and our enemies, the Predators and the Ecovores, are meeting up and about to have one of those mother-of-all battles, you see, and there they were, Razor and Ripper and Slasher and all of their allies, and they were moving in for the kill on Whip, Thunder, Tank and Hammer, when out of the blue, they heard something in the sky. They stopped their running and slashing and biting and looked up, quizzically, to the sky.

“ROWR?”
“ROWRROWR!”
“RUHROWR?”
“RUH…ROWR!”

BANG.

And thus died the Imaginext Dinosaurs as that big comet hit the Earth and destroyed them all. Sadly, they, and their political agendas, were lost in the coming ice age.

Can’t we just let them be toys?

Brush With Local Greatness, Vol. 6 : Charo

Kim and I met Charo at the Dallas Museum of Art several years ago when she came there to hock some new salsa or something for Pace. They had a car outside decorated up by some artist or something and she spoke and played her guitar for a few minutes before a crowd of about one hundred people. Afterwards she took questions, of all things, doing that “Cuchi-cuchi” thing she says every once in awhile. It was goofy and surreal at the same time, knowing that this was that strange unintelligible Spanish woman I’d seen on The Love Boat when I was a kid.

Kim, never one to shirk from making a comment, had the guts to pipe up when she said that she lived on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

“We had our honeymoon there!”

It kind of threw Charo 1Yes, I know Charo does not live in Dallas, but she was there, and we talked to her. So there. off, but hen became excited. She was bonding with the audience, you know. “Oh, did you love it? Where did you stay?”

“South side of the island at a B&B.”

“The B&B’s on Kauai are wonderful, aren’t they?”

“Yes!!!” Kim was so excited.

What was even cooler was she even took a picture with us. She was wearing a red sequined minidress and was completely falling out the thing. We were going to use the picture for our Christmas card (“Merry Christmas from Kim, Glenn and Charo”) but Kim was laughing when the picture was taken and her smile was Joker-esque, so we didn’t use it, but, you know, it’s still a great story.

What I’m Not Looking Forward to With The Bourne Ultimatum

I like the Jason Bourne movies because they’re gritty and realistic (kinda) 1If you can say anything about these movies it’s that they reignited the James Bond franchise. Daniel Craig is no Pierce Brosnan in Casino Royale. He’s one mean SOB. and Matt Damon is much better as a CIA assassin than I thought he would be. When I first saw the preview for The Bourne Identity I was so-so with it, but in the years following that first knock-out punch I’ve been hooked like a zombie on fresh, delicious human brains. The two films so far have been great, but there are a few things I’m not excited about with this third one.

1) Damon has said no more Bourne films after this one.

I understand what he’s doing here. He wants to be identified with something else besides Jason Bourne 2Maybe he shouldn’t do any more of the Ocean’s movies then, either., but that doesn’t make it any easier.

2) The amazingly cool Brian Cox is gone.

I love Brian Cox. He’s one of the great character actors of his generation and seeing his character Abbott kill himself in The Bourne Supremacy was heartbreaking for me. I was very disappointed when he turned out to be a bad guy because up until that moment that he stabbed his lackey he was just a great amoral character.

3) More shaky camera fight scenes.

One of my big criticisms between the first and second films was the way hand-to-hand combat scenes were filmed. Doug Liman filmed the scene in Bourne’s Paris apartment from about 10 feet back, allowing you to see what was going on with the knife/pen fighting. Paul Greengrass shot the fight scene inside of the house in Germany way too close to the action and with far too many edits for my taste. French director Jean-Luc Godard 3If you don’t know him, Godard was one of the most influential members of the French New Wave movement in film. The New Wavers experimented radically with editing, visual style, and narrative, and the movement has been claimed to influence many movies, from Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde all the way to Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and Wes Andersen’s The Royal Tenenbaums. said “Every edit is a lie,” and it’s true. I would have preferred a more continuous feel to the combat than a shaky pile up of visuals.

4) No more Franka Potente.

Unless some miracle happened in that Indian river, Marie’s not coming back. That’s too bad.

And unless there’s a huge plot change, this is how it will all go down – the CIA will find Bourne somewhere and try to dispose of him. Bourne will rely on his training and smarts and will outwit all of them and overcome his adversaries. In the end he will be more paranoid than ever.

I’m sure it will be good, though. We’ll see.

Brush With Local Greatness, Vol. 5 : Troy Dungan

It was Parent’s Weekend at Baylor, probably around 1993. The big hullabaloo was going on over at Founders Mall – parents meeting teachers, kids introducing their moms and dads to Professor So-And-So, and there I was just ambling through without my parents, who hadn’t come this time around. If you’d seen me then on that warm early October day, you’d probably have said, “Why is that dirty hippie walking through here?” I was not the clean cut person I became later. That’s the trouble with people; they change.

And so that dirty hippie was loping through the hordes, probably going somewhere in a slow and “keep on truckin'” kinda way, when I saw him. He was the weatherman that I’d grown up with, and I knew his daughter was attending his alma mater at the same time that I was. His trademark bow ties were legendary around Dallas from the first time I remember him and he wore them every newscast, no matter what. He’d always been short, you could tell that by comparing him to the other news anchors on the channel 8 sound stage, but I didn’t know he’d be that short. I’m talking like Danny Devito height, no kidding, the man was SHORT. Like 5′ 2″ or something.

As I brushed by him (literally) he seemed startled. I mumbled, “Hi there.” He didn’t say anything, just sorta glared.

I thought, “Man, what a jerk.”

And that was my close encounter of the weather kind with Troy Dungan. He’d started working for WFAA on July 19, 1976, and he’s retiring tomorrow, July 18, 2007. From what his collegues say he’s a swell guy. I’m sure he is and was just probably scared of that dirty hippie kid way back when. So long, Troy. Happy trails.

President Margaret Spellings?

Ha! Just kidding! Margaret Spellings is the current Secretary of Education and isn’t president. Come on, silly, what were you thinking?

So…how does the Secretary of Education skip all of that running for President and the election and just become President of the United States? Why, have everyone in front of you in the line of presidential succession die! Want to know the current line of succession? 1I got this list from infoplease. Well, here it is –

  1. Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate
  2. Speaker of the House of Representatives
  3. President of the Senate pro tempore 2The President of the Senate pro tempore is the second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate and the highest-ranking senator. The current President of the Senate pro tempore is Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia).
  4. Secretary of State
  5. Secretary of the Treasury
  6. Secretary of Defense
  7. Attorney General
  8. Secretary of the Interior
  9. Secretary of Agriculture
  10. Secretary of Commerce
  11. Secretary of Labor
  12. Secretary of Health and Human Services
  13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  14. Secretary of Transportation
  15. Secretary of Energy
  16. Secretary of Education
  17. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
  18. Secretary of Homeland Security 3On March 9, 2006, President George W. Bush signed HR 3199 which renewed the Patriot Act and amended the Presidential Succession Act to include the Secretary of Homeland Security in the line of succession after the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The Birth of the MoonPie

The MoonPie, the delicacy of choice for working men across America during the first half of the 20th Century, was created in 1917 by Earl Mitchell while working his territory of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia for The Chattanooga Bakery of Chattanooga, Tennessee. As the story goes, Mr. Mitchell was visiting a company store that catered to the coal miners of the surrounding area when he engaged some of them in conversation. While chatting with them he asked what they might enjoy for a snack during a grueling, filthy day of mining. They told Mitchell that they wanted something that would be solid and filling.

“About how big?” Mr. Mitchell asked them. At the time the moon was rising, so a miner held out his hands, framing the moon in them and said, “About that big!”

He headed back to the bakery after making his rounds and saw some of the workers dipping graham crackers into marshmallow and laying them on window sills to harden. With a concept for the perfect working man’s snack, he added another cookie and a coating of chocolate and sent them back for the workers to try. When the response they got was favorable he sent samples around with their other salespeople, too. The MoonPie was a hit.

The usual way to enjoy a MoonPie in the 1950’s was with an RC Cola, which, when couple with a MoonPie, cost about 10 cents. RC was preferred since the RC bottle was a little larger than that of Coca-Cola. The two became inseparable and was often referred to as “The Working Man’s Lunch.” 1The info for this piece came from the maker of one half of the Working Man’s Lunch – The Chattanooga Bakery.