Sunday, May 30, 2004

Wide World of, Sports.

It's raceday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: the Indy 500, Indianapolis' secular Mardi Gras. I have almost no interest in car racing, as it happens, despite growing up here. A certain amount of "race fever" is unavoidable if you live in Indy.... I learned my color names in kindergarten from the assorted race flags (though darned if I remember what they mean--there's a blue one with an orange stripe, what the heck IS that?) If you live anywhere on the west side of Indy you can hear the cars running on race day; it's like a distant hive of angry bees, or a spaceship warming up for takeoff. It's been going on all day today, since the weather has been poor (but not bad enough to call it off) they've been running under a red or yellow flag for a good part of the afternoon which means they're running "slow" and it's taking hours longer than it ordinarily would. I turned on the radio a bit ago to hear what's up and they were only on Lap 130 (out of 200)... so they may overlap with the Pacer game tonight, which is unfortunate.

But that's not what I came here to talk about! In an effort to make my blog more hip and relevant to today's blognews junkies, I'm pointing out a crucial news item I read yesterday. It's not about our horribly screwed up government, or Kerry's military service, or Bush's tie this keeping with today's theme, it's about sports. At the French Open this week, Russian tennis star Marat Safin pulled down his shorts and flashed a moon to celebrate making a difficult shot against his opponent. ("Safin Cheeky in 5-Set Win", Chicago Tribune May 29) He got penalized a point for this, and was furious that match officials saw something wrong with him dropping his drawers. The best part in this article was this quote:
SAFIN: I felt like it was a great point for me. I felt like pulling my pants down. What's bad about it?"
Yeah--everytime I have a personal triumph, my first impulse is to pull MY pants down. I used to do it all the time in fencing. I think I saw Ron Artest moon the Detroit bench in the playoff game Friday night. My friend Jeremy, a labor lawyer, always moons the courtroom after a particularly incisive cross-examination. (At least, I bet he does. He probably thinks about it.)

Up til now, I'd have said that professional tennis interested me even less than car racing.... but now that I know there's shorts-dropping action at the French Open, I'm going to be a fan for life.

Friday, May 21, 2004

It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.

I know, I haven't blogged in a while. The reason isn't particularly exciting; it's that, frankly, working outdoors in 85 degree heat and 80% humidity utterly exhausts me. Call me feeble and old... but every day for the last two weeks I've come home and basically fallen over. I've only had one day off since I got back from N.O., and I don't even remember what I did with it. I think I slept.

So what's to blog about? I could blog about the basketball playoffs--it's that time of year again, and my team (the Indiana Pacers) are in the conference finals. But that pretty much says it all about that, I'm rabidly watching TV when I should be cleaning my house, working in my yard, or gaming. I could blog more about work--like i said, it's drippingly hot. In the last two weeks I've developed a handsome tan, which stops just above my elbows and below my neck. I've also developed tons of bruises and the Death-Of-A-Thousand-Tiny-Cuts on my forearms from weeding in the Sun Garden. I could blog about my new hobby of trying to learn to identify bird songs; I have a CD, but it's like learning a new language. Well, a language where all the phrases mean things like "Hello! I'm a cardinal! Hello! I'm a cardinal!" Conversational, no. Interesting, yes. Going outside now is kind of amazing, i'?s like there's this background soundtrack that I'd never really paid attention to before and now I'm discovering it's this intricate web of signals between birds I didn't even know existed. There's a kingfisher hanging out on the canal lately, and I find it amazing that I know where he is even though I hardly ever see him. Yeah, OK, I'm easily amazed.

I had thought I'd blog about blogging this week, but this post is already getting longer than I'd anticipated without me ever actually having talked about anything, so I'll save that for the weekend.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Nawlins Rocks...

I got to spend 4+ days in New Orleans last week, leaving behind the daily grind of lawnmowing which had dominated both my life and my last two posts. I remember New Orleans as being a fabulous city from a brief visit 12 years ago; needless to say, Big Easy didn?t let me down on my return.

I thought about following Jane's post-trip model by scoring the major elements of my trip on a scale of A - F.... but I hate to be a copycat. Instead, I'll just pick out a few bits and pieces of things I noticed while I was there.

The Pigeons of Jackson Square. Jackson Square is known for its psychics and palmists and buskers. For my money, though, the scariest thing in Jackson Square are the pigeons. They're not like ordinary pigeons.... they're kind of greasy and vaguely scrofulous-looking. If a bum that looked like those pigeons came up to you, you'd give him five bucks just to leave you alone.
(Incidentally, I did not opt to have my fortune read. There were an awful lot of psychics there at little tables, and no one seemed to be doing good business when I passed by; I was afraid things might get ugly if I actually selected one psychic over another:
ME: What do you see?
PSYCHIC: I see....I see the large peroxided man three tables down breaking your kneecaps after you leave my table....
ME: Uh oh.
I did, however, pay $1 to a guy whose sandwich board read "I tell jokes for money." He did. It wasn?t a great joke, but hell, it was only $1. Maybe for $5 I could have gotten the one about the priest, the rabbi, and the insurance salesman.)

Food. I'm known, in some small circles, as The Hungry Tiger due to my ability to pretty much eat at any time. I'm nearly always hungry. Naturally, this means New Orleans is a baaaad place to be. I ate so much excellent food, it's a wonder I was able to fit into my Conferencewear (tm) by the time of my presentation.

Fishies. The very first thing I did Wednesday--literally, I dropped my bag at the hotel and started walking--was go to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Pricy, yes, but worth every penny. It was amazing, one of the best facilities I've been to--and I've been to quite a few aquariums in my day. Hell, I worked in one until very recently! Our seahorses are nice, we've got more of them, but AoA's setting for theirs is exquisite. Man. Wow.

The Morial Convention Center.Jesus, that thing is huge. And I thought Javitts was big! Naturally, my conference was on the way far end of it, entailing a hell of a lot of walking in somewhat restrictive shoes. I doubt this did anything to mitigate the food mentioned above, though.

Chillin' in the French Quarter. Despite the Morial's vastness, I made my escape from the conference on a regular basis. I hit the Cafe du Monde. I found a magic and oddities shop called "Sideshow," which is owned by Elizabeth Anderson, wife of Harry Anderson of "Night Court" and SNL fame. I prowled around the voodoo shops and bought a tiny, worried-looking little matchstick poppet. Best of all, I hooked up with Marguerite, who I hadn't seen in about 5 years; she showed me around, took me out for good food and great music, and I had a blast. Overall, an excellent week. And now, back to the land of John Deere and 12-12-12 fertilizer.

Monday, May 03, 2004


Yeah, it's a little like being Rambo... only with a lawnmower. And with my shirt on.

I started my seasonal gig at WRG yesterday, and I'm already bleeding. Now, you might think that my injury potential has declined this year since I'm not actually working in or near the animal enclosures--WRG has no penguins. However, it does have rosebushes. The Gardens consist of two main parts; a Conservatory, which houses the butterfly show I worked at in March and April, and a series of outdoor gardens over about 3 acres of ground. The tour de force (from a marketing standpoint) is the "Wedding Garden" which is, of course, designed to be rented out for weddings. It's a large swath of green turf lawn, bordered by crushed limestone paths on one side and a brick walk covered by a trellis on the other. Framing the edges of the garden are those typical wedding plants, the rosebushes. One of my new duties is to mow the wedding garden, in perfect stripes and along the edges... which is where the blood part comes in. Just a few scratches, of course, but still. A peculiar thing, as my coworker pointed out, is that people like to sit and watch you mow the wedding garden. I'm not sure why this is--do they wish THEY were mowing the wedding garden? Are they fantasizing that their own lawns might someday look like this ode to turf? Or are they just glad to see someone else sweating behind a mower? Either way, sure enough, once i got started, a family of three just sat on one of the benches watching me mow. Point being, of course, that this seriously curtailed the stream of profanity that might otherwise have resulted from my encounter with the rosebushes. Just as well, a cussing gardener doesn't reflect well on the Gardens or the Zoo. Still, though.... %$#@&!