These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Friday Night Lights

i saw the movie last night and enjoyed it -- for several reasons, including it being about a texas high school team and because it reminded me of where i came from.

there were certain aspects of the movie that made me laugh because i saw san diego, texas in the screen in front of me. tim mcgraw playing the hellishly angry father who'd done it, gone to state and won it. he wanted his son to do the same.

there was the part where this guy drives up in a souped up car. the guy inside invites the football players to a party.he drives off yelling and hollering. one of the football players says, 'isn't that guy about 35?'

then there was the whole mentality of the town. it was gung ho for football. they craved it, talked it, dreamed it. that is so texas. football and texas go hand-in-hand.

san diego was (and is) never anything special when it came to sports. during my tenure at the high school, they didn't do much, certainly not ever go anywhere near the state championship (our school was 3A, though, and not 5A like odessa permian).

there was this rivalry with a nearby town, benavides. it was completely ridiculous. both pissant football teams trying to beat one another. they weren't even in the same district. still, that hatred when the teams took the field was there. silly.

but was worse were the fans. they took it to heart.when either team lost, they were glum. sometimes kids would even break car windows and cause damage to places around the town. one year, one of the teams' members were caught egging a day or two prior to the game.

and the 35-year-old guy driving around town, the loser? well, that was still seen in SD. i remember once when i helped my brother with laundry in town. i walked outside the place. it was right on the main street. cars were driving by. one of them contained a classmate of mine. i saw him drive by over and over again. at that time, we were in our mid-20s. so you have this mid-20s guy, cap turned around in his head, glazed look in his eyes, hands gripped on the wheel. geez, get a life, man. i hope he's now settled down and doing something with his life other than curising around a town where nothing ever happens.

the days of cruising around that town are long gone. but when i was in school, it seemed that cruising (and unfortunately boozing) was fun. now, when i go back home and make my way through town, it seems dead and empty -- except for those few dedicated cruisers wasting gasoline.

but the movie, well, i have to give it props. i really liked it and managed to capture that element of texas high school football only seen there in that wild state.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


i attended my first drowning as a reporter last night at the state park. it was eerie
to see it transpire.

call came in after 7 p.m. to get dive team out there. i knew it was bad. instinct. dennis and i drove out there. the beach was flocked with people watching the horizon, hands shielding the sun from their vision, all staring at the water. a helicopter circled the area, while boats floated on the water watching for traces of the boy.

a nine-year-old boy had trouble as he was swimming back to shor near the breakwater when his two companions saw a wave hit him. a man tried to save him but came back empty. another man through in a life ring, nothing.

rumors spread that the kid had jumped off the breakwater rocks and into the lake as many crazy kids will attempt. others said it was his uncle who tried to save him. but the facts were he was only trying to swim back to shore and the man that tried to save him was a tourist from indiana.

as the sun set (and dennis took a great shot of the helicopter hoovering with a man hanging inside a basket, the sun setting behind them), the crowds remained, the news crews fell upon the beach. one stupid cameraman even waved off dennis as he tried telling him where the action was. hopefully he missed the action, just for being stupid.

as of last night, the search was called off due to darkness. but the boy was identified as living in the area. his family wasn't with him at the beach. he was with friends.

there is something ominous about lake michigan. it's beautiful and expansive and such great sunsets. but when its in a bad mood, it takes its vengeance.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


my experience with panhandlers is very limited t0 none. but last night i got one foolish idiot asking for cash.
earlier in the evening, dawn called me at work and said she managed to put gas in the car at only $2.41 (all over town is was already $2.55). she said some man at the corner of the block was asking for some cash because his car ran out of gas and needed to make his way to grand rapids.
dawn's got a big heart, so she said she'd fill up a one gallon can for him. she did and when she returned, he went off on his bike with it. returning later with it empty but said it wasn't going to be enough. dawn then gave him a couple of dollars in pennies and he was on his way.
dawn said she went around the area where his car was but couldn't find it. also, she said another guy was coming up the street with a gallon of gas (presumabley for this man). in exchange for the gas, he offered dawn his watch in the mean time.

wel, last night about 1:30, we were getting ready for bed and i went out to close the front door and lock the scren door. this guy out front says, "can you help me out, my car ran out of gas and i need to get to grand rapids. i'll give you my watch." same damn dialogue from the same old loser.
i was irritated by it because i recognized who it was by what he was saying. i told him he'd already come by and asked for money in this area. he denied it. dawn looked at him and said yes he was the same guy. he denied. i got angry and said we weren't going to give him money. he went away grumbling.

i was really pissed off that this idiot had the gall to panhandle for money, trying to play on the sympathies of people and gip them. then this idiot is stupid enough to return 7 hours later and by chance see me by the porch area and ask for money. hell, by that time of morning he could have pedled his way to GR on the damn bike. and furthermore, if he was on his way to GR in a car, where thehell did the bike come from? if he's visiting friends, why not go back to their house for help?

i was further angered by his indignant attitude toward me for calling him out that he'd already geen around here. instead of wasting his time and panhandling for some cash and a couple of gallons of gas (on a day where it rose 14 cents, which could be why he decided to attempt that silliness), he should be out trying to get a job and better himself.

i know there are people in need of money and help, i am all for helping out people when they need it. IF they need it and they're not trying to rip people off. it's people like this moron that makes it hard for the people who really need help.

i was so tempted to call the cops but worried that maybe he'd come back and retaliate by doing something to the car. he'd better not come back though.

Monday, August 08, 2005

gotta get a bell for 'Trina

the brat cat disappeared last night after i went out the back door to check something out. i let her go out and dawn followed me out and we started looking at the small plastic pool our upstairs neighbor has (there's a turtle in it) and when we went back towards the open door, she was gone. it's not like her to just pop back inside.
it was already dark and we looked around the edgesof the house and up to the front. nothing. i started panicking that maybe she'd slipped away -- and she's de-clawed in her front paws. i had vividd images ofher being torn up by some crazy tom around the neighborhood.
after some searching, dawn found her underneath a big Dumpster in our driveway (our landlord is tearing up the roof and there's a lot of material there). it took some clapping of hands and she finally got inside.
dawn suggested we maybe get tags and a bell for her. we tried once for fun and she absoutely hated it.
this morning our landlord came over and the front door was open while dawn talked with him. i was still asleep. but about an hour later, i'm trying to find her and can't.
panic all over again.
we tried everything, even opening a can of tuna. the sound of it opening always gets both cats meowing and jumping around for the juices we eventually give them.
didn't work.
went all around the outside of the house. nothing. but there is this big pile of broken shingles and i envisioned her dead underneath the wreckage.
i decided to recheck the basement again. this time i opened the door that leads to the bigger room downstairs and there she was stadning by the door on the other side. she quickly ran by me and went up the stairs. i don't know how she went into that room. the only opening on the wall is about five feet high near the door. but it would have to be a hell of a jump.
we gotta keep an eye on her every time we open the door to make sure she's not by the door and if she goes out, pop her back in an quickly as she went out.
crazy cat.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

'living in a box"

called home today and got good stuff from the family. i always like to hear what my niece and nephew are up to.
my brother and his family are living in a small apt. while they have their house built at the ranch. they moved in some time in june. they're the same apts where dawn lived before we married.

my niece and nephew are used to the open spaces of the ranch. they had their double-wide, the acre around it, my parents' home and yard and my aunt's home and yard to parade through. now they're in the small, crampt apt.
someone asked my niece how it was going living at the apt. she replied: "it's ok. but it's like living in a box."

my nephew had both a good and bad day today. he'd prepared himself, all of six years old, to go to the ranch with his dad and his papa. he's one of the boys. he'd eaten, put on his cap, took some oreo cookies with him, two juices, and he was on his merry way.

he remarked that "today was the best day of his life." that's cool. to be young and free.
then, he came back to my parents' house and he was out with my brother while he was working with a calf in a corral. noney bees started flying around him. he swatted at them and got stung twice on the head. he later changed his mind on the day, remarking, "today's the worst day of my life."

kids say the more interesting and impromptu things. can't ever find those phrases or anything candid kids say on a script.