Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: What Facebook groups are we starting?

10) The Police Used My Facebook Photos as State's Evidence.

9) I'm Only on Facebook to See If My Ex- Got Fat

8) Can You Tell Me If This Looks Infected?

7) I Was So Drunk I...

6) Let's Super Poke Glen Beck's Eyes Out.

5) My Spouse Is Cheating With One of My Aliases

4) How Did I Bill My Facebook Time to Clients?

3) Please Call Us by Our Jedi Names

2) What's the Status of Your Pants?

1) My Stupid Parents Friended All My Friends

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

I recently purchased Resident Evil 5, the latest iteration of the zombie-blasting video game series. I played the first one a dozen years ago, and despite the series retaining many of the cringing elements of that first game—controls that resemble a remote-control car, porn-level voice acting, and a storyline that makes the fake Apollo landing conspiracy theory sound reasonable, I love playing it.

I made a reference to this on my Facebook page, and several folks commented about how Resident Evil is great training for a zombie apocalypse. Which is good, because frankly, I need that training.

Ever since moving to the UP, I've thought more about the kinds of skills it takes to survive. Driving through here, I pass lonely houses out in the middle of nowhere. They certainly possess elements of civilization: cars, septic tanks, satellite dishes. Still, the area is in sharp contrast to the suburban and urban landscapes I previously inhabited. If I were to suddenly be weaned from the teat of mass produced society—growing my own food, heating my own house, making my own clothes—I'd be dead or someone's manservant within two weeks. I'd have to pledge my fealty to a camouflage-wearing lord who has his own arsenal of firearms, built his own compound, and can offer protection against the Feral Wraiths who crave man flesh.

Because I have no real skills. When the end comes, no one will need convincing marketing copy. No one will care about engaging in detailed discussions about progressive rock. And certainly no one will be looking for people with mad video game skillz. If I'm lucky, my liege appreciates a good dick joke and I at least get to perform as the court jester—which is actually more appealing than some of the work I do. More likely than not, I get shuffled into the human stable to join the other members of the man-herd who have to pull the master's gasless Chevy Silverado around, until we grow to old and weak and get traded to the Feral Wraiths in a peace agreement.

Although, if Resident Evil is any indication, I am pretty adept at finding ammunition and healing herbs in crates and barrels. So I have that going for me.

On to the tunes...

1) "Real Love," John Lennon. It takes real love to ask Yoko to sing. Thankfully, she does not here.

2) "Valentine," The Replacements. (No band video, but a nice solo performance from Paul Westerberg.) I suspect a valentine from The Replacements would be smudged from spilled beer and stop halfway through because they passed out while writing it.

3) "Takk/Glósóli," Sigur Rós. "Takk" is actually the one that came up, but it leads so beautifully into "Glósóli" that I couldn't leave it off. Music like this is why I'm glad we have ears. Cool performance here too, and a band I would love to see in concert, if we had things like concerts here in the UP. Although if we were going to hook anyone to perform here, it would be a band from Iceland.

I recently read the article "Lost" in The New Yorker, about how Iceland recently went broke. Imagine taking our economic situation, having the financial system completely collapse, and putting it on an island in the middle of the Atlantic. I don't think we'd be as polite about it as the Icelanders appear to be.

4) "I Want Your Hands on Me," Sinéad O'Connor. It's funny to go back and listen to this after all the hullabaloo of her career, because her first hit sounds so conventional. It's pleasant enough, but certainly not Papal-shredding. I guess you could say the same thing about Madonna and "Borderline."

The video has an unfortunate rap portion tacked on, which is fine on it's own, but feels like it was applied with safety scissors, construction paper, and Elmer's glue.

5) "Laid," James. Our previous female singer focuses on the foreplay, while James here goes straight for the main event. Personally, I don't know why so many men are (allegedly) averse to foreplay. Foreplay is so easy. I never have to think about baseball during foreplay or apologize afterward. Foreplay is the offseason, when all our hopes and dreams for a championship are still there, before we realize our starting pitching has trouble finding the strike zone consistently.

6) "Bad Moon Rising," Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR may be the most appealing classic rock band around. The usual classic rock suspects like Zeppelin, The Stones, Aerosmith, AC/DC, et al are certainly popular, but they also have plenty of detractors. CCR is one of those bands that everyone seems to like at least a little. You could be going through any type of music collection—rap, metal, punk, pop—and have a decent chance of finding the Chronicle best of, and also not run into any justification for owning it like "I only like 'You Shook Me All Night Long'" or "That's from when I was smoking a lot of pot." They simply gave the world a collection of songs that are both strong and let kind of unassuming.

7) "The Rat," The Walkmen. The only other group I can think of that produced a song I loved to death on an album I otherwise strongly disliked is The Breeders and "Cannonball." Trying to describe rock songs is difficult, because the legions of awful rock critics have laid minefields of clichés over the decades, and speeding up their output exponentially with the invention of the Internets. But "The Rat" is genuinely thrilling. The buzzing guitar, the fat drum rolls, and the desperate vocals completely hooked me on the first listen. So good that the money I spend to buy the rest of the disappointing album was worth it, which I can't say about "Cannonball."

8) "Long Distance Runaround," Yes. Are you ready to wank? That's not really fair, considering that this is under four minutes and it grooves. Warning: Guitarist Steve Howe looks like that guy at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when he grabs the Holy Grail and starts to age. Rick Wakeman is wearing a sparkly shirt, though, so that helps balance it out.\

9) "Cecila Ann," The Pixies. They give a nice metallic edge to this surf rock.

There's a lot of fun poked at the alternative reunion trend, with bands like the Pixies getting back together, touring, and probably making more money in one month of gigs then they ever did when they were together. I say good for them. It's bands like this that deserve to get paid. If they get together and give their fans a night of greatest hits, even if they're not in the greatest of shape, I don't see the harm. Better them than fucking Van Halen. Not that Van Halen shouldn't necessarily reform if they really miss playing together. But they certainly don't need the money and look like they need to freebase Cialis before then can be horny enough to play "Hot for Teacher." And let's face it, no one would consciously decide to spend a lot of time around David Lee Roth if there wasn't a large financial incentive to do so.

10) "Blue Orchids," Sun Kil Moon. Simply beautiful. It's very hard to make very delicate music that still has a strong presence.

11) "Don't Do Me Like That," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The spiritual successor to Creedence in universal rock appeal. Even though Petty gets played a lot, I never feel like he gets overplayed. Classic rock radio ruined a lot of songs I really liked (including, seriously, "Freebird"). If I'm stuck listening to a station that thinks Foghat still rocks (that one's for you, Jennifer) and they just finished getting the Led out, and I'm seriously debating looking for Christian radio so I can at least be entertained, Tom Petty can come on and save the day, even though I've heard him over and over again. That's a pretty sweet legacy to have.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: What side effects are we experiencing?

10) Seller Shingles (apply Bailout Balm until buyers appear)

9) Tween Fang (may lead to Hemoglobin Huffing)

8) Facebook Fatigue (can be triggered by Quiz Overload and Chronic Status Discourse)

7) Nyquil Spiritwalk (warning: drool pooling may cause drowning on kitchen floor)

6) Beano Backfire (avoid open flame)

5) Syrup Syphilis (caused by indiscriminate IHOPping)

4) Xanax Panics (triggered by empty bottle of Xanax and lack of a new prescription)

3) Label Liability (may cause Legal Brief Rash)

2) Viagra Flashback (consult doctor if erection lasts longer than the entire history of the universe, man)

1) Geithner Gout (symptoms include currency hardening, liquidity discharge, and retirement dream dissapation)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Random 11

Is more random than 10 by factor of 1!

I am going to have the Russian scientists voice from the Colbert Shmeat episode in my head for a while. In fact, I am considering putting "Is inescapable future of humanity" on my tombstone (the grave, not the pizza).

We thankfully had the full monty appearance of spring this past week. It opened up its trenchcoat and flashed us with 50+ degree weather for a few days. We grabbed Libby and the stroller and headed out for a walk, not caring that the sidewalks were still slushy from the 200 inches of snow that had begun to melt. We were outside! And warm! And wearing but sweatshirts!

Our fellow residents joined us, rubbing their eyes like survivors emerging from their caves after a nuclear winter. Even the ice cream place on the next block opened up, and the line was at least two dozen deep. It was like the whole town was letting out one giant huzzah!

Last year, even though we had much less snow, we had no spring at all. The weather sucked Donkey Kong until around mid-June. Now, even though the cold has returned and we seriously did have 200 inches of snow around here, we experienced enough spring to recharge our batteries. And enough melting snow to remind me that I have to rake the leaves still, because they were buried under snow about three days after they finally fell off the trees.

Oh well. It's sunny and there's college playoff basketball. I also would like to say that the ability to stream these games onto my computer while I work is the greatest use of the Internet that doesn't involve pictures of naked people or cats with humorously misspelled captions.

1) "Radio Ga Ga," Queen. Not one of their finer moments, especially with the Con Agra Foods Extra Cheese Powder 80s production.

Even though the concept of radio is very different now, the songs from the 70s and 80s bemoaning the state of radio are still pertinent, even when they leave your ears covered in orange cheez dye. When we were on vacation, our rental car had satellite radio. It was great because we had a lot of stations to choose from, we found a few we liked, and we didn't have to worry about losing them. But of course you lose any local flavor, and we also noticed (since we were in the car a lot) that there was a lot of repetition, even on stations like the New Wave one. I suppose it's more transparent than Clear Channel owning an alleged "local" channel, but it's sad that great independent stations like Chicago's WXRT are so rare. Radio ga ga, indeed.

2) "The Writ," Black Sabbath. Holy shit, Ozzy's voice is unbearable on this (insert "when is it bearable?" joke here). He sounds like he sucked out the nitrous from of a dozen cans of Redi Whip. Be glad there is no video.

3) "Eleanor Rigby," The Beatles. The lyrics to this were in the poetry section of my senior-year English textbook. The editors dumped in a few rock songs to try and hook the kids into poetry ("Born to Run" and a Dylan song were included). Compared to the poets we were studying, they certainly seemed contemporary. To a class full of seventeen-year-old boys, it was a little too Big Chill. Our poets were more "I used to do a little but the little wouldn't do it so the little go more and more." It does go to show that the tradition of trying to trick kids into reading poetry goes back at least a couple of decades.

4) "Call Me on Your Way Back Home," Ryan Adams. Mandy Moore, really? I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. I saw him in a concert performance a while ago, one of those little intimate Unplugged kind of shows. He took questions from the audience, and all the questions were from cute girls. So maybe he has more Vincent Chase in him than I suspected.

5) "Goon Gumpas," Aphex Twin. The Richard D. James album has a brilliantly unsettling cover. It's one of those images that creeps me out enough that I can't stop looking at it, especially since the eyes follow me around the room.

6) "Cold Life," Ministry. Hard to believe that before Al Jourgensen was all fuzzed out guitars and relentless industrial beats, he was kind of Eurotrash dance. He has disowned this period of his career, and pulled the even greater cop out of saying he was pressured to make music that's more Drakkar than noir. That's code for "If I could, I would go back and kick my own ass."

7) "World's Apart," ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. They are dead to me now, and this track was the turning point. I dig the music, but there's a huge slice of cobag pie in the lyrics. They're so kiddie-protest, this song should be called "If I Had a Hammer-Time."

8) "Dancing Days," Led Zeppelin. (A surprisingly not terrible cover by Stone Temple Pilots) VH1 Classic is a black hole for my attention span. I torture poor TLB with it from time to time, like a couple weeks ago when I insisted on watching the Behind the Music on Ratt. Why? I have no idea.

The other night, I was staying up to give Libby her midnight bottle, and flipped on VH1 Classic just in time to see a sweaty Jimmy Page in the middle of his cello bow guitar solo in The Song Remains the Same. Complete with dragon-embroidered jumpsuit, which you can purchase for your character in Rock Band. Despite being really terrible in parts, I watched for a good half an hour. Why? I have no idea. I also occasionally watch a nerdy fat guy and his meathead Long Island co-hosts interview washed up metal stars on That Metal Show. I have a problem.

9) "Saturday Nite," Ghostface Killah. I am way too white for this. Me listening to this is kind of like this guy dunking—kind of exciting to me, but awkward and difficult to watch.

10) "Chromakey Dreamcoat," Boards of Canada. Boreds of Canada is more like it. Creative stuff, but it's a bit like found sound wanking—a bunch of samples that don't really go anywhere. If there was an actual song here I would dig it the way I dig DJ Shadow.

11) "Top of the World," The Carpenters. Like I said, the sun is out and the greatest sporting event of the year is underway. This is a good way to go out.

I'd also like to extend an M-I-Z...Z-O-U for The Lovely Becky and our other Missouri alum friends. Here's hoping the Tigers avoid another gut-wrenching tournament loss.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pass the Shmeat balls

Americans spend a lot of time worrying about what's going in their mouths. We worry if we're eating too much, not eating the right stuff, or, if we're Republicans, about the homosexual menace ramming Item 6 of the Radical Gay Agenda down our throats.

However, none of that is as shocking (or as funny) as what I saw on The Colbert Report this week. It's Brave New World meets Oscar Meyer. I give you...Shmeat.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we justifying our bonuses to taxpayers?

Special bonus edition!

11) Achieved bonus goal of obtaining tax money to pay for bonuses.

10) Giving needy citizens rides to the unemployment office in our new Porsche (pending available seating).

9) Obtaining bids from multiple vendors before using bonus money to purchase hookers and blow.

8) Managed annual salary so poorly, need a bonus to bail us out.

7) Need additional funds to pay for our guillotine insurance.

6) While it's right for the government to give businesses public funds, it will make Baby Jesus cry if it says how businesses should spend those funds.

5) Promising to invest that bonus money in companies that will help the American economy and not those like A.I.G.

4) The same way we justified them to our shareholders...through equations that no one wants to admit they don't understand.

3) Sitting back, lighting a cigar with a $100 bill, and letting the Times do our justifyin' for free.

2) Hey, nobody took away George W. Bush's salary.

1) "Justify"...sorry, we're not familiar with that word. We're MBAs, not English majors. Now who wants a little caviar with their fillet mignon?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

This is the second Friday the 13th we've had in a row? Isn't that bad luck? Or is it good luck, like multiplying two negative numbers? Maybe 2012, the year everyone says is the big apocalyptic year, has 12 Friday the 13ths, and the last one will unlock the mystical 13th Mayan month that brings about The End. Actually, that sounds like a good idea for a highly successful, semi-literate novel that generates a lot of controversy and gets made into a somewhat successful, slightly more literate movie staring Tom Hanks and a bad haircut.

Okay, onto some big freakin' news: While we were on vacation, The Lovely Becky sold her next novel! It's a love story about a female writer who is married a fantastic husband who is as good in bed as he is funny, and every chapter reveals just how awesome he is, especially in bed.

Wait, that's my novel.

Her novel is a dramatization of the life of this lil' ol' lady, written from her point of view. I would describe it as a portrait in human cruelty, and it's the kind of book that I think could do well enough to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a kept man. It's being published by a little publisher that some of you may have heard of.

In all seriousness, I am ecstatic for TLB. I have always reveled in my wife's success, and her happiness makes me happier than my own ever could. Her lifelong dream has been to be a writer, and now she gets to continue that dream.

Plus, I'm totally going to ride her coattails to my own book deal.

1) "Cath...," Death Cab for Cutie. The thing I like about Death Cab is that there's always something bubbling under their shiny, jangly musical surface. There's a whole mass of dark, depressing lyrics beneath the driving drums and chugging guitars. The live video here has a hilarious introduction.

2) "Rest My Chemistry," Interpol. Our Love to Admire is the most disappointing album I've heard in a while. I loved their first two discs and still play them very regularly, so I had my inner hype machine going full-bore, which made this dull, uninspired group of songs thud that much harder.

3) "Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car," U2. An annoying song from an otherwise underrated album. I really like Zooropa. The toughest thing to do in music is follow up an album like Achtung Baby: a work that both redefines a band's sound and becomes a massive hit. Do you play it safe and make Guten Tag Toddler? Put out a live/studio hybrid album called Der Rattel und Humm? Or get a little weird and maybe even let The Edge do vocals? They took a chance by going the weird route and made the most unusual album of their career.

4) "Friday, I'm in Love (Live)," The Cure. What Friday would Robert Smith love more than Friday the 13th?

5) "Don't Go," Yaz. I am man enough to dance with my hands over my head to this song.

Speaking of embarrassing sights, I got this text message from my friend Smokey, who is on her first trip to Vegas: "At XS at the Wynn, lots o people dacin on tables!" So it's not just me.

6) "Wish," Nine Inch Nails. My favorite song by Trent Reznor, and not just because it uses the phrase "fist fuck." The guitars cut through the speakers like Ginsu knives, and I dig how the snare drum beat manages to sound industrial without sounding like your usual industrial jackhammering. An awesome song for the gym or driving when angry.

7) "Sentimental Fool," Roxy Music. Kind of grungy for them, with the guitar walking around Bryan Ferry's pristine bachelor pad in its dirty bare feet, until Bryan comes back home and cleans up the mess. No vid, sadly.

8) "Quality of Armor," Guided by Voices. I think I read that Robert Pollard turned down an offer to license this for a car commercial. It's perfect for one: the chant of Oh yeah, I'm going to drive my car with the standard awesome GbV guitar line seems like the perfect accompaniment to images of a Chevy Stimulus SX driving near a cliff. I would have definitely taken the money because those videogames don't buy themselves.

9) "Lie," Dream Theater. I grabbed a bunch of music from my brother Snake Anthony, who, being an avid musician, tends to listen to some stuff that only avid musicians like. Dream Theater is supposed to be like Rush—hard prog for the progger who wants more double-bass drums and less Keith Emerson keyboard-farting. But I find Dream Theater to be soulless. Rush, for all their pun-inducing faults, have an organic feel, three guys who come together to make songs. This DT song feels like composition-by-committee, where every member has their contractually-obligated time to wank off. That's fine when you're Joe Satriani and everyone else is a musical fluffer there to support your wanking, but it's messy and kind of ugly when everyone's blowing their wads at once.

10) "Surprise, Honeycomb," The Wrens. Compare that to this Wrens song. There's all kinds of shit in the spin cycle here, little bits of guitar and noises swirling around and making this more than your standard hummable pop fare. Yet it still has personality. It's not in its room playing scales for 12 hours so it can dazzle other guys who like to play scales really fast.

11) "Razorblade Salvation," Jedi Mind Tricks. More stuff from Snake Anthony, who mentioned he had also gone on a hip-hop bender for a while. This is good, like Eminem if Eminem wasn't so FACKING annoying, but it also illustrates why I am not a true fan of rap: My least favorite aspect of rap songs like tends to be the rapping. I dig the samples here, the female vocals, the overall groove, and could completely live without the guy popping into to speak-sing about not killing himself. Still, a cool song and a great band name, although they should have an album called These Aren't the Rhymes You're Looking For.

Hidden bonus track
"My Generation (Live)," The Who. From Live at Leeds, the greatest live album of all time. The great thing about music, and especially live albums, is there's a chance someone will record you at your peak, that a moment where you are at your best will be preserved for all time. Here are one the best bands of all time, rocking fifteen minute jam of one of their best songs, at a time when they were playing better than they ever did. I wish that could have happened to me, someone recording me when I was 17 and courting TLB, during the brief 10-12 month period where I learned how to be cocky, but in a charming way, before my natural neuroses returned and dragged me back to my usual state. It would be cool to pop that recording in every so often.

Have an awesome weekend. We're supposed to be over 40 degrees for a few days, and I'm so happy, I'm considering going out and buying a gun so I can fire it in the air in celebration.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

United States Has to Let Two States Go

Alaska and Hawaii given notice under ‘last admitted, first omitted’ policy

WASHINGTON - Faced with a severe contraction in revenue and a bleak economic forecast, the United States was forced to downsize by two states, giving notice to Alaska and Hawaii that they would no longer be part of the union.

“It is with great sadness and sorrow that I had to let these two magnificent states go,” President Obama announced at a news conference. “I am especially saddened that my home state of Hawaii will now be considered foreign soil.”

President Barack Obama called the states into his office to deliver the news personally. He thanked them for their contributions to America’s history and economy, and said he would be happy to provide glowing references. He also said he would consider readmitting both should conditions change and the United States begin expanding again.

Alaska took the news in stride. The state has long had an independent streak and made no secret of its ambitions to set out on its own. “We thank the U.S. for all it has done for us,” the state said in a prepared statement. “We will always feel a close bond with the Lower Forty-Eight, and we especially value our close relationships with the military and oil industries. But as we say, you can’t make a fur coat without clubbing a seal, and it’s time for us to make our coat.”

Alaska announced that it was now the independent Kingdom of Alaska, Ltd., and that Governor Sarah Palin would become Queen Sarah I. “Gosh, I don’t know what to say,” said the new queen. “I’ve had a few tiaras placed on my head, but never one that let me do whatever I want. This is awesome!” She immediately announced the banning of the 21st Century.

Hawaii was not so amicable. Sources at the White House say that they heard both crying and shouting from the state inside the Oval Office. At a later press conference, The Aloha State, its flowered shirt undone and carrying a drink with a tiny umbrella in it, delivered some harsh words to its former country.

“This is bull----!” Hawaii said. “We get put out to sea while f----- Delaware gets to stay. You know what’s the difference between Delaware and a guy with a thumb up his a--? The guy with the thumb actually does something. But you sign a Constitution a million years ago and you’re a state for life.

“Have fun vacationing in Dover, a--holes!”

Sources close to the state said it had already been approached by Japan, China, and Australia.

Hawaii’s outburst hinted at the difficulty the last two admitted states had fitting in with the existing Union culture.

“Don’t get us wrong, we have a lot of respect for Alaska and Hawaii,” said one Midwestern state that wished to remain anonymous. “Unfortunately, they never really bought into our continental values. Alaska wanted to do things its own way, while Hawaii never really matured from its territory stage. There’s more to statehood than pristine beaches and Macadamia nuts. You need to bring more to the table, like hog byproducts or ethanol.”

Another Northeastern state said that the two states never should have been admitted in the first place. “The U.S. is a closed shop. Our criteria is ‘from sea to shining sea.’ We work better when our states have common borders. You start rewriting Manifest Destiny to include any discarded Russian province or island full of fornicating savages, and pretty soon you find yourself having to pay attention to Guam. And no one wants that.”

Both states received two months of interstate highway severance, but no health benefits.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: What are we doing over spring break?

Special extra long vacation edition!

12) Cramming hard for our forthcoming hepatitis test.

11) Waking up in the sweet embrace of one of our frat brothers.

10) Leaping to our feet in horror when we see the Web cam.

9) Saving money on hotels by constructing our accommodations out of empty Red Bull cans.

8) Using our pre-law training to argue our Constitutional right to not wear pants.

7) Hosting Ye Olde Spring Breake on World of Warcraft.

6) Passing comp by letting our TA do a Jell-O shot off of us.

5) Wishing we’d paid more attention in Spanish so we could negotiate our release from the cartel.

4) Smoking our Pell Grant.

3) Taking a shortcut to the beach through the swamp and yadda yadda yadda hanging on a meathook.

2) Playing that game where you do a shot after you do a shot...wait, what?

1) Chronicling our eventual expulsion on Facebook.

Monday, March 02, 2009

"Ice to see you!"

The Lovely Becky, Libby, and I drove to the airport on Friday, ready to begin our Southern vacation. All three of us have had cabin fever, even our eight-month-daughter who doesn't know what "cabin" or "fever" mean.

As I mentioned on Friday, the UP had other plans. A blizzard rolled in, as if to remind us that Old Man Winter still runs this town. Still, the blizzard died down enough that it appeared we'd get out of town that evening.

We arrived at the local "airport," an old Air Force base where one converted hanger serves as the terminal. We piled into the tiny turboprop that would carry us to civilization. The plane had been sitting outside all day, and the pilot informed us it would take a little longer to get going because the crew had to do some extra procedures to make sure the plane was ready to go.

I could tell how bored my daughter is with being housebound during the winter, because she looked excited to be someplace new, even if that new place was the kind of flying craft I once heard Lewis Black describe as "one of those Buddy Holly-fuck planes." She looked around and watched as the crew outside hosed the plane with de-icer.

The right engine roared to life, but the left one couldn't get started. The pilot said that the engine was just cold, and that turning the plane away from the gate and into the wind would help get more air into the intake. The right engine revved up and the plane rocked a little back and forth.

"Uh, folks," said the pilot in the voice all pilots use when you should be moving but aren't. "It appears that the wheels of the airplane are frozen to the ground."

I've flown a fair amount, in good weather and bad, and have dealt with my share of meteorlogical, mechanical, and illogical disruptions. I have never, however, ever been delayed because my plane is stuck to the tarmac like a third-grader's tongue to a frozen flag pole. The pilot assured us, however, that it would be temporary, and that the ground crew were going to spray de-icer on the wheels to free us. "We should be underway shortly," he said.

A few minutes later, there was a puddle of orange de-icer under the plane, pooling like a melting slushee. The right engine revved up, the planed rocked back, and, after a few minutes, the pilot came on. "Uh, folks...." Apparently, we needed more than the power of one airplane engine to break from the icy grip of winter. A towing tractor would be summoned to give us a little shove. The pilot apologized, but said, "We should be underway shortly."

Outside, we heard the tow working. The plane rocked a little but kept do it's imitation of a tree planed in frozen ground. "Uh, folks...." The ice was not confined to just under us, but all over the tarmac, and the tow couldn't get enough traction to move us.

The ground crew tried other methods. They brought up big heaters to melt the snow. They tried the de-icer again. At one point, I saw a guy walking under the plane with a shovel. I would have brought my snowblower if it wouldn't have cost me $15 to check it. In the meantime, another plane arrived, unloaded, reloaded, and took off again. For a moment, I really hated those people. I didn't want anything bad to happen to them, but I hoped they had a really crappy time when they arrived at their final destinations.

The ground crew, after deciding that sacrificing a moose would likely not free the plane, decided to call the Bigger Tow, a device that must have been travelling the UP, dazzling everyone with its feats of pulling, because it took 45 minutes to arrive.

Finally, plane moved. It turned around and lurched toward the runway. The propeller on the left engine slowly started turning, faster and faster, and soon I was very greatful for the deafening, filling-loosening roar of 1920s-era aviation engineering. Three hours after we boarded our Buddy Holly-fuck plane, we lined up and took off for Detroit. I was so relieved to be moving that I found myself yearning to land in Detroit and welcomed the thought of spending the night there, having long missed our connection, because that meant we were no longer stuck to the runway.

(How did our daughter do? She smiled, she cooed, she ate, and five minutes after takeoff, she slept. She cried for maybe two minutes. She was far more mature than I was, as I kept peppering TLB with "my act" to help pass the time.)

We landed in Charlotte the next day and picked up our rental car to begin the first part of our trip: visiting my parents in Tennessee. It was a rainy, 40-ish degree day, but at least it was green and I didn't need my winter coat. On the road, my father called me. "You know, it was beautiful here a few days ago, and then you come here and bring this shit with you," he said.

"Hey, it's not my fault," I said.

The next day, big fat flakes fell from the sky, and the nearby mountains were hit with a winter storm. Perhaps my father was right and I was a weather monkey's paw.

We left the day after the storms, heading to Hilton Head to spend some warm vacation time with TLB's parents. As soon as we hit the Smokey Mountains, we saw snow from there until well into South Carolina.

"It looks pretty," TLB commented as we drove near Ashville.

"It does," I agreed, "because it's like a little, sweet, powdered-sugar snow. As opposed to the bag of flour we live in."

The snow stuck with us until we got halfway to Columbia. Even then, the temperature remained below 45 until we got near Hilton Head, when it crept up a couple of degrees. "If it it hits 50, I'm taking off my pants," I said to TLB. The temperature reached 48, then 49, teasing me, but never getting higher.

"Did it hit 50?" TLB asked.

"No, 49," I said. "I had a button undone and my zipper halfway down, but it's not to be."

The forecast calls for it to get warmer, and even possibly something known as "hot," a concept I vaguely recall but don't really remember. But I'm not going to believe it until my pants are off and the tingling I feel on my thighs is the warmth of spring and not the burning of frostbite.

At least I'm not stuck to the runway, though.