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.

Friday, February 24, 2006


it's been awhile since i've written about family affairs. my sister's time to give birth is just about here. she's been havign contractions, albeit small and far between. she's due around march 20, but she thinks it might be earlier the way it's going.

by the time we make our way there, the baby would have been. emma grace is her name. and i would have missed the entire pregnancy and seeing my sister's belly expanded.

it seems like only yesterday that i found out she was pregnant. the months have flown by. and it's still hard to believe that she's getting ready to have a baby.

last weekend she was given a baby shower at my aunt gloria's house. it went off really well and she received lots of nice gifts from family and friends.

emma grace has already positioned herself to enter this world. she's turned around with her head down in position. she used to be all over the place, bumping up against one side or the other of my sister's stomach.

by the end of march, she'll be out and i'll have two nieces and a nephew. that's pretty cool. i still remember when the first two rugrats were babies. now, rena is turning 9 and caro is 7. they grow like crazy.

see ya soon emma grace.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

infomercials...aren't they captivating

i find myself sitting in front of the tv at times, eyes drawn to the screen, silly look on my face and oblivious to all around me. that is, until i hear dawn say, "why are you watching that?"

yes, my friends, it's the infomercial, that 30-minute commercial that advertises knives, footwear and ladders, just to name a few items.

i don't know why i sit there and watch them. i'm certainlynot going to fork over the moolah for the damned product. and most times, i find the people who appear on these commercials totally dorky, stupid and ridiculous, both in their comments and their appearance.

it started wtih the stupid rotesserie that cooks food in a healthy way by turning the chunk of ham or hamburger patties, causing the grease to drip down. theere's the stupid phrase that goes along with it. "put it in, turn the knob, and forget about it." after awhile the audience gets into it and starts repeating the catch phrase.

there's the infomercial about the knifes. the guy selling the product touts them as the toughest knives in the universe. one can cut through leather and still slice tomatoes. it's a great deal. something like 1,000 knives for a meager price of $19.99 or something like it.

there's the silly 200 ladders in one thing. al from tool time on that silly tv comedy is on it, along with some blond and some tough-looking guy selling the ladder. they get the crew to stand on the ladder at one time. i often wonder what would happen if the guy standing on the rung above you farted. it's be great. right in your face, too. they even get this expert to come in and test the ladder. he makes all of these positive sounds and grunts, does push-ups on the thing, and finally gives his approval.

then there's the medical infomercials. one touts this great concoction that cleans out your guts for a great, thick bowel movement. these folks look serious when they talk, too. how can anyone talk about a bowel movement being the size of a person's wrist and not laugh. another medical infomercial discusses a book that has the cures for many things such as cancer and arthritis and a shitload of other medical conditions. it's often on during the day after the noon news. the guy on there doesnt' tell you any of the cures. you have to shell out the bucks for it. the interchange between the two goofballs is funny. and i find myself sitting there watching them.

and through all of this insanity, i sit and watch. very often dawn catches me so i don't waste the full 30 minutes on it. god bless dawn.

i know these things are stupid. i know i'm not buying a product and i think the people in the commercials are fools. yet, there i am, also the fool, watchign the freakign thing.

the question is: if we had the green, would i whip out the credit card and order one of these products? hmmmm, i just don't know.

in the meantime, they'll still be on tv and i guess if i catch one, i'll stop and check it out again for the 100th time.

Monday, February 20, 2006

classics vs. pop culture

i'll start by saying i enjoy reading anything from the strictest literature to the blandest modern novels, as well as listening to classical music to something rockin' on the radio. i pretty much try to catch whatever i can by reading or listening to it.

some time last week a friend at work posed me an interesting question: how i could read great works of literature and poetry and still manage to read stephen king. that's a good question. i gave some half-assed answer. but i have been thinking about it since and decided to put into workds the reply.

some of my favorite books are classics, like "moby dick" or "the great gatsby" or a hemingway novel or non-fiction. but among some of my favorite books are stephen dobyns' "church od dead girls," king's "'salem's lot," "the shining," "the stand" and the dark tower series and richard adams' "watership down." just to namea few off the top of my head.

i like to mix it up because some of the latter books allow me to put my brain in auto pilot and enjoy the read for enjoyment's sake. i don't have to watch for symbolos or imagery or any significance in words or phrases, i just read (listen) to the books and come away feeling refreshed when the read it done. it's for the pure simple pleasure of reading, something i take serious because of my eye sight condition.

i guess reading is a luxury to me. there was a time soon after i lost part of my sight that i didn't read any books -- i'd say for about a good year. it was such a waste of time for me. in fact, for several years, i don't remember reading much from the age of 15 to 17. i guess the reason for it was adjustment to having to listen to a book on cassette rather than turning a page.

but i digress...

i still enjoy a good classic. i read "moby dick" every two or so years for that simple reason -- pleasure. except that that pleasure is insance since the novel is expansive and difficult to read.

the same applies for music. i love music a lot. my taste has grown from the time i used to only listen to heavy metal (maiden rocks!!), then short bursts of country and some classical. then came my experience withe the fab four, which, in turn, has branched out to other bands from the 60s and 70s and the band's solo projects.

most recently i discovered muddy waters, who i think is fantastic. in addition, i checked out the clash's "london calling" and was blown away by what i heard on the cd.

i will say, though, i do draw the line at teeny-bopper bullship music, the euivalent of a south texas music station in texas Z-95. horrible stuff. but, hey, everyone's entitled to their opinion on what's cool and what's not, i guess.

when it comes to movies, though, i'll admit to beinga bit of a snob. i have recently gotten into the habit of watching old classics (what other kind is there?). bogart's acting enthralls me. his movies are great. plus, black and white movies have something color movies don't have. your mind is drawn to nothing except acting, since there is no color stimulus on screen to disattract you. plus, i do watch really good new movies (nothing like "shawshank redemption or "the godfather"). and sometimes i do watch the other kind of movie.

this weekend i rented several movies because i needed to relax and let my brain absorb nothing serious. i rented "deep blue sea" and "dante's peak." sea is an implausible movie about super sharks that i'd seen several times before. the scene where samuel l. jackson ges chomped on by a shark still freaks me out. peak was kind of lame. bad dialogue, mediocre acting and plot. i'll never see it again. still, they provided dumbed-down entertainment for entertainment's sake. back to the library they both go.

so i've rambled on and no one will read this. but it's done.

so, to sum up, i guess i'll read pretty much anything (even the writing on the wall??) and listen to most anything that has a good beat and leads me to someting else.