Thursday, October 24, 2002

Good things, good moods, even on another gloomy day. Good things come in bunches. I sit here in my overalls, smoky smelling from open stage last night, and speaking of smoke, I've got my upstairs neighbor Eric's Weber grill fired up to cook my first beer can chicken. This is an indirect cooking technique where you stand a whole chicken upright on a half-empty can of beer with extra holes punched in the top by a church key can opener. Supposed to be the tastiest, juiciest chicken with a crispy outside. Yum. Pavlov's dog salivating response at these written words. I'm like The Doors' "Backdoor Man." I 'eat more chicken any man ever seen.'

(Why do they call it a church key? Does the triangular hole it makes remind people of a church? Or is it the trinity of the triangle? Or church keys were triangular shaped for the same reason?)

Last night's open stage went reasonably well. My rendition of "Man Who Sold the World" was solid, if imperfect on guitar. Rocked out on "Space Oddity," especially vocals. Guitar work suffered because I played Goat Boy's guitar. He's got steel strings while mine has nylon. My guitar has nylon strings, much easier on the fingers, but quieter, too. My top string is tuned an octave lower because at normal octave they're always breaking. Lungo's Landing is a nice, intimate, nautical-themed venue with a townie clientele. Lots of faces worn haggard by vice. Before I played I watched the World Series on a big screen TV behind the stage. Had to ask the bartender to tune the game in. What's this world coming to when you have to ask the bartender to tune in the World Series? The Giants tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning while I played. The rally was really getting going when I was called to the stage.

My stage name is Raru, same as my trailname. The members of the Acoustic Millenium Band, who host the open stage, had a great time with my name, howling it out, Ra-roo-roo-roo. It is a fun name. One even made the sadly inevitable Scooby Doo reference. God, I hate that frickin' cartoon. We would have hatched our evil plan if it wasn't for those meddling kids. Glad I didn't see the motion picture. Heard it's a real howler.

After nursing a beer at the Landing, it was only 10 p.m., but Esther and I'd been up since 5:40 p.m. The game was still tied 3-3, so I dropped Esther off at home and went to Dad's place to watch the rest of the game. En route I found a station in western New York broadcasting the game. Another sad state of affairs. No local station broadcast the game on the radio? Used to be when Dad was a kid practically every station played it. Nobody listens to radio anymore. I got to Mom and Dad's the same time Dad returned from a grocery run. "I had to go to the grocery store or else I wouldn't sleep tonight," he said. What? Dad ran out of cat food. He said Gato would meow all night if she didn't get fed. I enjoyed the guilty pleasure of potato chips and dip, an Old Style Light and seeing David Bell hit a game-winning RBI single for the Giants in the bottom of the 8th off 20-year-old California Angels rookie phenom Francisco Rodriguez, the winner from game one. How one's fortunes turn so quickly in this game.

Talked to my brother Ken earlier in the day. He was at the Atlanta airport after visiting a girlfriend, Grace. Ken e-mailed me a picture of her and I told him she looked like a Bond girl. What's her name, Luscious Vulva? I wrote. He told me he shared the e-mail with her and even called her Luscious a few times. How embarrassing. We talked about work. He's doing a freelance architectural job in southern France for an old buddy of his from Studios Architecture, a firm Ken worked for back in the day. He said he will be home for Christmas. Good. Because when he visited in August-September I hardly saw him because I was finishing up at the Daily News and getting ready for my Superior Hiking Trail trip. When I saw Dad later he said he also talked to Ken. They talked about a completely different topic, the recent renovations Ken made to his Paris flat. Guess he had to spend $70 on a restoration kit for his bathtub because the previous tenant put some acid in the tub and ruined the porcelain. I think Ken and I have the same level of hands-on skills. We don't seek out projects, but show a certain level of proficiency when something absolutely needs to be done.

The really good news is that I finally, FINALLY got work as a substitute teacher. Today was my first day on the job, at the Rockford Environmental Science Academy. I am also working tomorrow at West Middle School. This comes together after I worked this week to re-do my resume and prepare cover letters and salary history for administrative assistant positions. No. I'll be more than happy to substitute teach. I also may do some part-time work at UPS over the holidays to build up the bank account. But finances are looking pretty good. Thanks to the insurance settlement from getting rear-ended a few weeks back, we didn't have to dip into savings. And we've laid low financially.

Other weird thing. We got our phone bill earlier this week and it is paid for by some credit we were given because of some business merger between local companies. We got $43 credit, which pays for two months of local phone service. We don't have long distance. Instead use Sam's Club phone cards. And no other frills like call-waiting or any of that other happy crap. And no cell phone. Our phone bill is $25 or less each month. I know people who spend $200 or more for phone service. We got 2 months free phone service!! Yakkety yak yak charlie brown's parents mraw haw haw which reminds me of a musical joke I always wanted to do, but never did. Take a trombone onstage and make all these abrupt bleating noises with it. Charlie Brown's parents making love.

Yeah, back in the substitute teaching gig. Easy money. Glorified babysitting. Today it was 7th grade English. Watched a video tape of Larry King Live. You ever watched the same video five times in a row? But the day went by fast. I started work at 8:45 AM and got out at 1:30 PM. Five periods straight. Five viewings of Jack Hanna and Pat Sajak, the sub for Larry King that night, showcasing exotic animals from around the world. I read Hemingway's "For Whom The Bell Tolls" in-between telling kids to sit in their seats and not kill each other. For this the school district pays me $65.

Each hour there were one or two kids who would die unless they went to the nurse or the bathroom. Take a seat. You got a young bladder. Cross your legs. You'll survive. If you pass out I've got emergency medical training. I'm not allowed to give bathroom passes. Seventh graders aren't too corrupted yet, but their childhood is frayed at the edges. Naivete replaced by tired crusty worldliness. I called one boy a dude and he goes, Dude? And I'm like, yeah, sure, dude. I told them to call me Greg because my last name's too hard to pronounce.

And when I get home I got a message on my answering machine from Clint Wolf at the Beloit Daily News. They want me to do another story on the jail referendum. Also talked to Deb Jensen-Dehart and she said she was pleased with my Stateline Business stories and has three more lined up for next month. Now all I gotta do is talk Bill Barth into letting me have a weekly outdoor column. Got to put together three sample columns and a written proposal. Really dazzle the Barth-meister.

Tonight I'm all about the World Series. And in a good mood because of the work and resultant money. I'm a valued commodity in the world, a participant, however passive, in the military-industrial complex.

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