30 August 2005

Assorted Mints

Or the title of this very blog: "Five Flavors of Reflections" ..... or, better still, "oleomargarine" -- the subject line my friend Steve Farrington (R.I.P.) used to put on e-mails which meandered among various topics.

Just a few thoughts:

1) I've been given a correction to my previous post about the ASU Indians. I've been laboring under the misconception that my alma mater, the Chicago Cubs of Division 1-A NCAA Football, have had nothing but losing seasons since 1987. I am wrrrrrrRONG!!!! There was the 1997 season, when the Tribe finished 6-5. Thanks, Stoney, for setting me straight.

2) My brother-in-law was busted for drug possession over the weekend. Less than an ounce of Fine Colombian found in his car (he was stopped for impaired driving - he didn't get home before all his "back meds" kicked in). "That s**t doesn't belong to me!", he told the officers. Yeah, surrrrrrrrrre.

The $64,000 Question, Who Wants To Divorce A Sponge, and Newlywed Game 25-point bonus question -- all rolled into one -- is: will this finally make Seraphim's younger sis wake up and smell the Yuban??!!

3) I'm so glad TV LAND has begun running a block of classic SCTV episodes late on Friday nights. I have the DVR set up to capture 'em. Right now I'm watching one of my most favorites, the one where the USSR TV station breaks into the signal off and on throughout the program. "3-C-P-1 on your dial. Russian Television." Totally funny!

4) I bought about a pound and a half of green peanuts with the intent of whipping up a batch of Boiled Peanuts Ala Gleck. But I needed 1.5 cups of salt, and we're down to less than 1/2 cup. @#$%!! It's getting late, otherwise I'd run to the store and get some. Note to self: hit the grossy sto on the morrow and grab a canister of NaCl. There's always tomorrow night.

When it rains, it pours.

Ciao for niao

--Talmadge "Where's the Morton Girl? I want that salt shaker!" Gleck

Katrina and the ...... naaaaaaaw!

...I can't say it. It would be outrageous, tacky and compleatly wrong. But suffice it to say this Katrina was not walking on sunshine.

I don't remember who said it, but the quote was about Biloxi, Miss.: "This is our tsunami." Like many, we've been staring at CNN and/or The Weather Channel (or some even keep it on Fox News - "Katrina: Why the Liberal Democrats Caused This Storm!").

Anyway, we look at the news channels in stunned silence. I remember Ivan and how it all but destroyed coastal Alabama -- even doing damage most of the way upstate. Holy cripes, I dare say Katrina makes Ivan look like the small squall we had breeze through Savannah this afternoon. I shudder hearing all the sound bytes from coastal Mississippians, all varying themes of the same sentiment: this was worse than Hurricane Camille in 1969! Wow!

I have a great deal of raw video footage taken in the aftermath of Camille ... and Biloxi, Gulfport and Pass Christian all looked like war zones. If Katrina was indeed worse ..... God help those poor people!

Monday morning I had this sick feeling in my stomach -- it was looking as if New Orleans was about to be turned into a modern-day Atlantis. I didn't wish this on anyone else ... but I am glad New Orleans was spared armageddon. Their cleanup process will be long and painful, however I'm sure things will be up and going in plenty of time for next year's Mardi Gras.

Although I imagine it'll be a long time before people start cutting decks of 52 again along the Mississippi coast.

I join most everyone else in praying hard for those struggling to put the pieces back together in Mississippi, Louisiana and parts of Alabama.

All the while reminding myself of a well-used phrase of wisdom: There But For The Grace of God Go I. Savannah, Georgia is long overdue for "the big one." What happened with Katrina, Ivan, et al, could just as easily happen to us.

Ciao for niao.

22 August 2005

Comically speaking.........

There's a man in the funny papers we all know...

Is it just me, or has a huge generation gap taken hold on the comics page? On one side you have the "modern" strips like BABY BLUES, ZITS, 9 CHICKWEED LANE, FOXTROT and of course DILBERT. They all have fresh gags, and stay current ... especially ZITS. Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman have created what in my opinion (hey, this IS my blog, after all!) is the best comic strip of the last decade. Another favorite is RHYMES WITH ORANGE ... that creator Hilary Price obviously has a fondness for Public Radio doesn't discourage me from reading, either.

Then in the middle there's SALLY FORTH and FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE. I like the latter in particular because the characters all age, where most others stay in a static anti-timewarp. Some people are hooked on soaps; I've been reading FBOFW as far back as 1989. The character April was born right around the same time as my son, so it's been fascinating seeing April 'grow up' into teenhood. Many features resemble soap operas with continuing stories and even multiple storylines. More on these shortly.

And then ... yup, the "old school." Yes, I'm talking about FAMILY CIRCUS, DENNIS THE MENACE, SNUFFY SMITH, BEETLE BAILEY and .... GARFIELD. Penned often by folks so cooped up in their ivory towers so to have been disconnected from reality for decades. Or cracking a whip over a slaving staff of "ghost cartoonists", pausing only to sign his name after it's done (as allegedly is the case with GARFIELD).

Okay, I grant you, Garfield came along in 1978, perhaps arguing against my pigeonholing the cat among the "old." Perhaps not in letter, but in spirit - absolutely! GARFIELD made waves when it debuted over a quarter-century ago, and was among the hottest comics in the early '80s. Remember all the books?

Of course, GARFIELD wasn't the first comic strip to take advantage of the power of marketing; look no further than the late Charles Schulz's PEANUTS. From the first Charlie Brown special, A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965, leading to many other "CBS Special Presentations" throughout the late ‘60s and the ‘70s, to the licensing of characters for Interstate Brands (Dolly Madison Snack Cakes and various regional bread labels like Millbrook), Schulz raked in the big bucks from all the ancillary merchandising. Oh yeah, and Snoopy donning a hat and telling people "Get Met. It Pays." Which reminds me of a Mad magazine parody: "Get Mutt. You'll Pay."

I truly can't put my finger on the difference — Schulz somehow managed to keep from getting his reputation dirty with all the HYPE! Jim Davis has done nothing but cash in. And rest on his laurels while his subordinates keep cranking out incredibly mediocre strips. Good grief!

Nice work if you can get it.

It's evidence of a grossly unfair and sad world when first-rate cartoonists like Bill Watterson (CALVIN & HOBBES) and Berkeley Breathed (BLOOM COUNTY) quickly kill their comic features out of fear of getting stale. While the hacks keep cranking out chucklers (I'm being very nice here), one right after another and jealously digging in their heels. The jokes you read in today's BEETLE BAILEY probably originated in 1962 and repeated in 1978, 1985 and 1996 before its latest retread.

I close with some observations and assorted opinions about comics today:

BIZARRO — Dan Piraro's one-panel gag strip has obvious influence with Gary Larson's famous THE FAR SIDE. Funny as I find that, BIZARRO makes TFS look like FAMILY CIRCUS!

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE — At long last, it looks like Elizabeth and Lawrence are on their way to connecting. It remains to be seen how Lynn Johnston will frame a divorce between Lawrence and Therese in order to allow E. to come in and be a loving wife and stepmom.

CURTIS — Curtis, my man, Chutney might not be perfect, but she's quality! Let Michelle go. That snob'll get hers. And Barry really needs the shitsu kicked out of him. Either that, or force him to smoke your Dad's Luckies. Oh, and your hair's getting a little long ... time for another trip to the barber. I enjoy the occasional barber shop storylines (not to mention the "hidden record store" gags). CURTIS creator Ray Billingsley is among the greats of the present day.

SALLY FORTH — Ted, ever the p-whipped husband. Nuff ‘sed.

CALVIN AND HOBBES — Bill Watterson, you let this one go too soon. You were nowhere near jumping the shark! Now, a decade later, a whole generation of kids are growing up thinking Calvin does nothing but pee on Chevy or Ford logos on pickup truck back windows!

BLOOM COUNTY — It's been out of production since August 1989. And I still miss it terribly. Lucky for us, some elements have been revived in the weekly Sunday strip named after BC's main penguin character, OPUS. Bill the Cat (a delicious parody of GARFIELD) is around, and recently Steve Dallas made a triumphant return.

DENNIS THE MENACE — Jay North was better. This is a textbook case of the dangers of commercialization. In the early-ish ‘70s DTM was licensed to Dairy Queen ... and even today you can still see the strip's characters gracing drink cups and wrappers. Otherwise, it's a comic strip that saw its best days before I became a twinkle in my Mom's eye.

SNUFFY SMITH — It amuses me when I see this one in some papers still billed as "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith." Barney Google hasn't been a regular presence in this strip since, ohhhhhh, the ‘50s! This is about as funny as one of Jay Leno's monologues.

BEETLE BAILEY — "Ummmm, Mort Walker? 1970 called; they want their storylines back." The military is a subculture just begging for a DILBERT-style treatment! But this dreck continues. Could this be the reason for sagging troop morale? "Your choice, soldier: A poorly-armored vehicle in Iraq .... or reading nothing but BEETLE BAILEY day in and day out. No other reading matter. Just Beetle." I dare say Iraq looks pretty damned appealing.

FAMILY CIRCUS — Notwithstanding the occasional (amusing) joke with dotted line plotting the travels of one of the kids through the neighborhood, this must be hanging around only because people over 90 like a good chuckle.

PEANUTS — Mr. Schulz died in 2000. Why do newspapers insist on rerunning old retreads??!! It takes up space better suited for a new, up-and-coming strip. Good gawd on a POGO strip, if you're gonna serve up reruns, how about some classic CALVIN & HOBBES???

I'm gonna go read the paper. Ciao for niao.

20 August 2005

I do love dogs, what's your point?

Continuing with our Saturday out 'n' about, with my newly-acquired vinyl delights I headed back toward the university to pick up Seraphim. It was just about 430, so we made a beeline for the Regal Cinemas behind the Savannah Mall. "Must Love Dogs" is a movie we'd both wanted to see (John Cusack has to go out of his way to make a bad movie -- "High Fidelity" and "Better Off Dead" are classics).

$12 for two matinee admissions and $13.50 for two drinks and medium popcorn later, we were in our seats. After half a dozen previews and as many commercials, the movie began right on the nose at 4:40.

The big reason this flick piqued our interest? As some of you know, I met Seraphim online. It was 1998, the early days of Yahoo! Personals. Barely three months out of a divorce, I ventured into that area late one night in a fit of "is this just as much of a joke as the People Meeting People section of the Sunday paper??" Yeah, let's see what kind of desperate people we can find.

Yeah, let's see what kind of crow Talmadge can eat. Just a matter of minutes after entering Yahoo! Personals, my life was forever changed. One woman got my attention and I actually RESPONDED to her. How did it go?

I've now been married to said "one woman" for closing in on five years.

Here's the entry for 'Must Love Dogs' on IMDB. It's a sweet movie. Worth every penny of inflated admission, overpriced Coke and insufficiently-buttered popcorn.

"Must Love Dogs" makes me thankful for several things:

1) Seraphim. Plain and simple.

2) That following my divorce, I didn't have to endure sleazy one-night-stands, bad dates, 30-something women whose clocks are clearly audible: TICK TICK TICK TICK!!!!! ... even if the chemistry was perfect, once they found out I got a vasectomy years ago, they'd do an about-face and disappear in a cloud of I'm-running-out-of-time dust .... or, worst of all, a clone of Josiebelle - my ex-wife.

3) That Josiebelle set me free in 1997. Thank you. I suspect Seraphim thanks you, too.

4) That we have a dog just as show-stealing as the ones in this movie. Seraphim raised her from a pup -- and both accepted me into their hearts and lives.

5) See item #1.

I like it when people find happiness after tragedy. Some will call this a "chick flick"; I don't really agree. It's funny - and I love the subplot involving "Dr. Zhivago", with Cusack and his friend. Kind of a parody of the "An Affair To Remember" scenes with Rosie O'Donnell and Meg Ryan from "Sleepless in Seattle."

And I really love it when I see happiness-after-tragedy movies in 2005, as opposed to 1995, when I first laid eyes on a film called "Untamed Heart." That movie, back then, depressed the shitzu out of me. Sure, Christian Slater met with a tragic conclusion, but he was loved to the end by Marisa Tomei. We all should be so lucky to be loved like that.

Ten years later, I am.

"Must Love Dogs" is full of a positive "hope" message. It gives real hope for anyone who has yet to hit three 7s on love's slot machine - regardless of their age.

Ciao for niao!

Talmadge's Thrifty Thirty-Three-1/3 Treasure Trawl

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. That is, if you like hot days where the heat index nudges the 110-degree mark.

On this day, Seraphim decided she wanted to catch up on some work so she could take some days off later this week to be with her mother, who is having surgery. So, we decided to make a day of it "in town" ... I dropped her off at her workplace about 1230 and would come get her at about 430, after which we'd go catch the late matinee of "Must Love Dogs" -- then supper at IHOP (sure wish the hades we'd get one up closer to Effingham County; there's plenty of room at the I-95/Ga. 21 exit, potential franchisees!!)

OKAY - this gives the Gleckster nearly four hours in which to find, entertain and then bury himself deep into trouble. And does he ever. First stop: LUNCH! Seraphim got herself lunch at Perkin's on the way in, but I had taste designs on Chick-Fil-A (see "wish the hades", above graf). Had a great lunch, just me, myself and this weekend's USA TODAY.

Second stop: I decide to make the round of area thrift stores -- we're in bad need of a new computer chair. Figure I might be able to find one on the cheap. I start with the Big Red Shield on Montgomery Cross Rd. Nada. But there WERE a buttload of old '80s-style tellys. I almost expected to see Max Headroom's archaic CGI mug burned into at least one screen. Nothing much of interest here, not even a pre-owned Christmas kettle, so I left.

Third stop: over to Sallie Mood Drive, home to two thrifties in close proximity. On the left is The Lame Half Smiling Face/Lower Case G. No chairs, although this one has the best selection of old coffee mugs. I browse for any with old radio or TV logos. Again, nada. Buh-bye, Willgood.

Fourth stop: cattycorner across the way to the Chatham Humane Socity, which runs a thrift store upstairs from its animal shelter. It's my first time visiting this one and I'm not disappointed. No desk chairs to be found here either ..... but what I found was the most impressive collective of used vinyl records I've seen in a thrift store in many moons.

Okay, as with most other Goodvation Army and Salwill stores, 90% of the vinyl has more scratches or scuffs than a 9-year-old kid after playing in the woods. There WERE, however, some real treasures lurking within. Alas, it will depend on how you, the reader, define the word "treasure."

Here is what Talmadge Q. Gleck added to his sizeable music library of dubious merit on this sultry Savannah Saturday:

JOHNNY MATHIS / The First 25 Years, The Silver Anniversary Album (Columbia, 1981)
Two-LP set, near mint condition. Has the expected early Mathis standards, like "Chances Are" and "It's Not For Me to Say", right up to his 1978 hit with Deniece Williams, "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late." In addition are horrid covers of "Three Times a Lady" and "As Time Goes By." Only his incredible iconism in MOR music excuses Mathis, however. In any event, if nothing else my Mom would certainly enjoy listening to this. It went home with Talmadge.

APOLLO 100 (FEATURING TOM PARKER) / Joy (Mega records, 1972)
"Joy", the title song, was a big instrumental hit in 1972 - a synthesized take on J.S. Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." Rounding out the rest of this 12-inch licorice pizza were ten other filler--er, ah, I mean, fine songs. I'm sure there'll be a long line of devoted readers (all two of you - including myself) waiting for me to burn copies of "Mendelssohn's 4th (Second Movement)", "Exercise in a-minor" and the read-into-this-what-you-will "Classical Wind." The liner notes end with "Thank you for everything, Mr. Bach."

Johann looks down, "For THIS I gave the world beautiful music?!?!" Why does he look like that Indian in the anti-litter PSA?

THE LONGINES SYMPHONETTE SOCIETY PROUDLY PRESENTS "RADIO'S FAMOUS THEME SONGS"
"A Gold Medal Presentation, Produced In 'Living Sound'"
Some of you may be old enough to remember the Longines subscription series of record albums, mostly classical music. And, yes, it's the same Longines name as in the Longines-Wittnauer Watch Company. This was a real find; an album containing the theme songs from classic old-time radio programs ... among them "Love In Bloom" (Jack Benny), "Seems Like Old Times" (Arthur Godfrey), "Love Nest" (Burns & Allen), and Bob Hope's signature theme song "Thanks For the Memory."

I got goosebumps just knowing that this record was A GOLD MEDAL PRESENTATION. I think after I get finished listening to it, I'll give it to Seraphim, so she can make some cake batter out of it.

Then there were two more I just had to pick up. The sicko side of me couldn't resist hauling these back to Effingham. They were 50 cents, so I didn't mind too much. Seraphim, though, had to hold her nose in the car after I picked her up. These aren't pretty, so I'd suggest popping a Tums before reading further:

"MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE" (Kimbo Educational records, 1989)
It's credited to Dottie Waddell and Phil Clanton. God bless their pointed and drug-free little heads. The liner notes on the back read: "SMOKING ... DRUGS ... ALCOHOL ... PEER PRESSURE ... PREJUDICE ... SAFETY Don't wait 'till it's too late! All children may at some time be faced with all of these issues and more. If you can reach youngsters when they are between the ages of 3 to 13, you might make a difference." It goes on: "All the ingredients to ensure success have been included -- upbeat music, lyrics children can relate to, young voices to sing along with, and a positive message."

What kind of positive messages are contained within the grooves of this rekkid? Check out these Billboard top-40 smashes: "Say NO to Drugs" (my, that's original) ... "Please, Don't Smoke" (no wonder the teen smoking rate spiked in the '90s) ... "Buckle Up" (Vince and Larry, take five - Phil and Dottie will take over) ... "Child Abuse Won't Do" (ummmmm, what do you call exposing kids to this tripe????) ... "Prejudice" (hinky-ass white folk such as ourselves who MAKE these records deserve all the prejudice we get) ... "Love Your Pet" (ironic, since this album rested within a Humane Society Animal Shelter) ... "Don't Talk To Strangers" (no, not the Rick Springfield hit) ... "Don't Drink and Drive" (or listen to this record while driving) ... "Litterbug Blues" (remind me to throw this record on the side of the road tomorrow) ... "Dare to Cope" (hard to do after listening to this).

This record was made in 1989. 16 years later, we have rampant drug problems, rural kids are rotting their teeth out with all the meth they're smoking, people still drink and drive, abuse kids and pets ...... in the name of all that's holy, this might be the reason!!!!

And finally.......
THE HOKEY POKEY: FAVORITE ACTIVITY SONGS FOR THE CLASSROOM (Melody House records, no date indicated)
Evidently, a teacher dumped off a batch of old LPs at the Humane Shelter. Good for them. At least innocent kids cooped up in a classroom are no longer a captive audience for these sounds emanating from a Califone school A/V record player (with the metal latches and rugged fake leatherette chassis).

This record boasts that it's "Recorded slow for the very young - faster for the advanced." Recorded SLOW? That's right, boys and girls, you play it at 33 for the, um, "special" kids, and bump the switch over to 45 to make the jocks and popular kids dance as fast as they can.

But wait, there's more: "Records are pressed from a high-quality vinyl formula under very precise manufacturing standards to assure the truest possible tonal quality."

Damn. I was hoping for the WOPPA-WOPPA-WOPPA-WOPPA of an RCA "Dynaflex" disc.

That's what it's all about, people.

And there you have it. The newest musical treasures in the Talmadge Gleck Record Library. The music skips, but it never stops.

Ciao for niao!

18 August 2005

For once in my life, I have someone who kneads me

....that's the new slogan for Stevie Wonder Bread.

This morning after dropping off Seraphim at her workplace, I stopped at Kroger on the way into mine to procure a few grocery-esque items (there is only one restaurant on the island, and it's rather pricey -- we normally brown-bag our lunches out here).

@#$%, out of Lay's Stax original. @#$%, out of Kroger brand solid white tuna in water. And @#$%, out of my favorite bread. Okay, I went without the potato chips (didn't get Pringle's - don't care too much for those). I went for my second favorite brand of tuna, Bumble Bee (Star Kist? Sorry Charlie, that stuff is nasty).

And bread? I went for a loaf of Sunbeam, which costs a few cents more than my favorite kind, Bunny. ("That's what ah said ... Bunny Bread!") Kroger was out of THAT, too. Okay, Stoney, you need to come out here and make some heads roll. Leave Hot Springs, Ark. and that bad life behind and have Kroger transfer you to beautiful, picturesque, and crime-ridden Savannah, Georgia!

The bread issue got a 'rise' out of me. As I continued to 'loaf' around in the bread aisle, I noticed the other options of bread at my disposal. Besides Bunny and Sunbeam, we have Merita, Captain John Derst, and of course the usual store brand suspects. In Kroger's case, there's Kroger brand, and a lower-tier name known as "FMV" (For Maximum Value) - FMV is the successor to the old "generic" products we used to see back in the early '80s.

But FMV bread products are always softer and feel fresher than Kroger brand. Hmmmm.

I got to thinking about Merita. Merita hasn't been marketed in my native Alabama in decades; in Georgia it's a major brand. COLONIAL bread is a big player in middle and south Alabama, in addition to much of Arkansas, parts of Missouri and even southwest Georgia (where Seraphim hails from). But Colonial isn't sold here.
.
.
.
.
That silence was the sound of me NOT complaining. Colonial is a rough, coarse bread, more suited for use as sandpaper or as an SOS pad-in-proxy. I like my bread soft. Colonial used to tout its bread as "the 8-hour loaf." Obviously. It stays out in the air for eight hours before they put the wrapper on it.

Close to Colonial on the soft <--> coarse scale is Captain John Derst. That's a Savannah-based baking concern, and it's a popular regional brand in these parts. What's curious about CJD is the bread itself has a distinct yellow color about it. You've seen the kind of buns Wendy's uses for its burgers .... CJD is very similar in look.

Sunbeam? Same little girl taking a bite out of a buttered slice. Bread out here isn't quite as good as that which is marketed in Alabama (under the Flowers Bakery name). But it's okay as a consolation prize.

However, moving out here five years ago, I was quite jolted to see the name BUNNY. For a minute I wondered if I'd taken a wrong turn and was at a grocery store in Cape Girardeau. Bunny Bread is mainly a product of the Midwest. What in tarnation is it doing in Savannah?? (see "not complaining" gag, above)

Other loaves I miss: "Dixie Darling" (store brand for the dying Winn-Dixie grocery chain), the various brands of Interstate Bakeries - "Millbrook" (Birmingham, et al) and "Hart's" (Memphis area) - which used the Peanuts characters for its old adverts.

And whatever happened to Wonder Bread? Is that still being sold? Or did they figure out that strong bodies were built only 2 ways - that the other 10 were downright fraudulent?

Hmph.

All this bandwidth over ... BREAD?

I need a sandwich. Ciao for niao.

17 August 2005

Gorillaz to Archiez

My son is now into a "virtual group" called Gorillaz. (here's their entry in Wikipedia)
It's described as a techno hip-hop outfit, but what I've heard thus far is actually more on the techno and not all that much rap-oriented. This band's "history", outlined on this page, is rather funny ... and I admit to getting a laugh out of how 'member' Noodle joined the band: she arrived from Japan in a FedEx box! Other 'member' 2D is so named because of two dents in his head resulting from an accident.

Most of the drawings of Gorillaz in a 'photo-op' setting are quite dark and ominous, but one of their latest hits I heard while with the kid last weekend is called "Feel Good, Inc." It's a really cool song, actually. They remind me of the glory days of music videos, when rock acts actually strived to make videos with substance, instead of the obnoxious ego vehicles so many are nowadays.

Okay, so you have an animated "band" fronted by behind-the-scenes people. I haven't the heart to tell my son the idea isn't exactly original.......

Remember a certain animated pop band made up of a gaggle of comic book characters? Of course you do, much as I'm sure we all wish we could forget. While most of the time I wouldn't trade memories of my 13-year-old existence for his, at least if I were to do so, I would not recognize the group known as THE ARCHIES.

While on my last visit to Kmart, I noticed the small display of Archie comic books. Holy Toledo (and other fine Ohio cities), it's like they're still trapped in a 1972 time warp. They probably still play "Sugar Sugar" in Reggie's garage, thinking they're the coolest thing to hit the music scene since Duran Duran.

And erstwhile drummer Jughead, after all these years, is still alive. He's the DRUMMER. Why in hades hasn't he died from asphyxiation, or an OD ... or other creative ways drummers are supposed to kick the bucket (or bass drum)? And does he still wear that stupid "S" on his shirt?

Sometimes life's not fair. My son has Gorillaz. We were stuck with The Archiez.

Where's Big Moose when you need him?

Ciao for niao!

Turn to Bolivar

At this late hour, my thoughts have traveled westward to a place called Arkansas. Hot Springs, to be exact. Besides having lived there from 1982-85, the city also holds the distinction as the home of my best friend from college, a guy named "Bolivar Shagnasty." It was also the "boyhood home" of a certain former president. Choosing who I like better - Clinton or Bush - is akin to asking me to choose between Pepsi and chocolate ...

Ahem, I digress. Bolivar and I shared many great times over the years, as well as countless adventures while we were both at Arkansas State University. I worked at the university's Public Radio station, and he worked across the field and railroad tracks at Bonanza. After work we often met at a place called Larry's (a 24-hour restaurant in the local mall, which used to be a Sambo's until the tiger melted into butter melted into political correctness melted into "you gotta name that eatery something else, boy!")

Ahem, I digress again. Bolivar has been nothing but a true friend over the almost 20 years I've known him. I was best man at his wedding. He wasn't best man at my first, i.e. practice marriage. He wasn't even there. Which is why my marriage to J-Belle failed worse than a country station in Gary, Indiana. Lucky for me, he was there for my marriage to Seraphim in 2001, as all my closest friends were. Yes, Bolivar was best man.

Unfortunately, my presence had no such luck with him. I was there that June day in 1996 as he wed a short redheaded woman whom I heretoforth refer to as RWP (Rhymes With Punt). Now, I did not think this of her when they married. To the contrary, the two seemed very happy and I thought this would be a marriage that makes it to the fabled "death do us part." RWP had a difficult life to date, the victim of two divorces - both ex-husbands pretty much beat her around. Bolivar was lucky #3, a good, loving husband any woman would appreciate.

Fast forward six years, to 2002. RWP announces that "she's not capable of loving" and wants a divorce. Seems she has been flirting online with someone. I'll never forget that voice mail from Bolivar that morning, the pain in the man's voice. For whatever reason, the woman got over what was bothering her (or so we thought), and wanted to reconcile. Oh, and she was pregnant. They soon had their first child.

All seemed nice, I received pictures of the boy as he grew from infant to toddler. Bolivar and RWP seemed happy again ... that lapse of sanity behind them. Granted, it still weighed on my mind's backburner, although I kept that to myself. Later RWP became pregnant again.

Then came the phone call on October 9, 2004. John Lennon's birthday, and exactly two years after RWP's first "episode." RWP not only wants out, but has moved in with this one guy (yes, the guy she was flirting with online two years earlier). Now, why would any man be interested in a married and 8-months-pregnant woman???? There's only one answer to that question, I'm afraid. And I didn't win the washer and dryer for answering that 25-point bonus question correctly.

Bolivar files for divorce, and demands a paternity test for the new baby. Well, that expands to a paternity test for his two-year-old son. Early in March he calls with the news: just as both Seraphim and I feared, not only is the baby girl NOT his, but his firstborn ... nix that; he's NOT. Both chirren have the DNA of this (vile reference to male sex organ) who has been an extracurricular activity for RWP all along. Just stab Bolivar in the gonads -- it would hurt less!

As I write this, VRTMSO and RWP are dragging this out ... keeping Bolivar and his lawyer in a nightmare of legal limbo hell. Which puzzles me, because RWP has indicated that she wants to marry VRTMSO as soon as her marriage to Bolivar is dissolved. How's that for "not being capable of loving anyone"??

As for Bolivar, it'll be a wonder if he ever trusts another female creature again. And as for RWP? It would be justice if marriage #4, to VRTMSO, becomes a low-budget Lifetime movie and everything that goes with it.

I can't believe I actually said that, either. But for what this walking yeast infection did to my friend Bolivar, as good and decent a man as they come, it's difficult to resist entertaining such wishes. If the woman couldn't handle a loving husband, that's one thing. But why did she lead him on with a two-year-long April Fools joke "Bolivar, you're a Dad - HA HA FOOLED YA, YOU'RE NOT!"

I don't know God's purpose for doing this to Bolivar -- but it'd damn sure better be part of His master plan for Bolivar's eventual happiness. I pray non-stop that one day his heart will be able to trust, and that he'll come upon a Seraphim of his own.

Chicago's "Dialogue, Part 1 & 2" is playing on Music Choice Classic Rock at this very moment. I don't know why I mentioned that, but I just did. Well, it IS one of my favorite Chicago tracks.

It's a crappy way to wrap up a tome, but it's wrapped up.

Ciao for niao.

16 August 2005

Pawn This Wreck

This is about my Luffly Wifely One® -- the woman whom I proudly call my best friend, my soulmate, my true north. She is everything I long dreamed for in a lifelong female companion. Seraphim and I have been together for more than seven years, and married for 4-1/2. Years, not decades. Although it sometimes seems that way. :-) And best of all, after that long sharing a life with a guy who has a Talmadge Gleck living within him, she has yet to turn tail and run, screaming, for her sanity.

Sick yet? Well, get some "Pepto", take a swig and get over it. Some people are nauseatingly happy to be in the warm tethers of a wonderful and loving marriage. I consider myself as one. So nyeah.

Now I can hear you saying, "Gleck, just what does this lovey-dovey bullsheyet have to do with CAR TITLES?? You're wasting my time. You owe me a bottle of CVS Brand Extra Strength Pink Bismuth Liquid, you sumbirch!"

Okay, cutting to the chase: my Seraphim works for the Financial Aid department of a local state-chartered institution of higher learning. Among her duties, she sometimes has to get on the phones and deal with students who have questions about the loans they're taking out in order to take classes, buy books (often more expensive than the classes themselves!), and have a good chunk left over ... after all, Budweiser isn't cheap - even at Kroger. We must always be cognizant of a college student's necessities.

Seraphim tells me about some of the phone calls she gets. One student asked, "Is this loan something I have to pay back?" Another had to have his mother do all the work for him -- he couldn't even speak for himself; Overbearing Maternal Figure had to take over.

But her latest "phone call of the day" came from someone who was late submitting her FAFSA form (Federal Application For Student Aid, I think it's called -- even though Seraphim always pronounces it "fass-fah"). She was in a state of personal crisis, pondering just how she's gonna cough up the dinero to pay for her classes. Then the little 2-watt nightlight went off over her head: she'll PAWN HER CAR TITLE! Yeah, that's the ticket, little girl.

Then she said her car didn't run. But the pawn shop didn't have to know that.

Did you know financial aid offices at universities have some of the highest turnover and burnout rates of any line of work???

Take comfort, my Seraphim: these students are gonna be on the hook for many, many, many, many, MANY years, paying back all that money. This Bud's For You today. Enjoy that beer now, 'cuz you'll be doing well to afford Milwaukee's Best as you pay back those student loans (yes, you have to pay 'em back, why do you think they're called LOANS, genius??) until you're old enough to draw a pension!!

I love you, Seraphim. Hang in there.

And Ciao for Niao.

15 August 2005

Talmadge 101

No, it's not the latest radio station format craze. It's the first entry of what could well be a haphazard, erratic and off-kilter contribution to the blogosphere. It might last forever and ever, amen. Or be canceled quicker than a good network TV show.

After some thought, I've taken the dive and now I have a blog of my own. Yippee! I now feel validated as a citizen. Webpages are so .... 20th century. My teenage son, illustrious Goth-In-Training, just started one at Xanga.com; I suppose that gave me the nudge I needed.

Okay, some of you have wondered: "Who's this Talmadge Gleck person?" Wonder no more. Talmadge Gleck is an 'alter ego' name I coined back in the abyss of high school; literally so, as the name came to life in a basement classroom at a high school in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. It was a typical 1981 school day, and I thought of a really outlandish name for a fictional character. It just came out. Talmadge Gleck. A famous name was born.

The name Talmadge Gleck would occasionally surface over the years, often as a generic fictional name if I needed it for, say, a piece of writing.

And, here in August 2005, Talmadge Quirkius Gleck now has his own blog. Look for thoughts, ponderings, reflections, ruminations, et pluribus al, in this space.

And there you have it. Talmadge 101. Better keep those notes, as there might be a pop quiz tomorrow.

Okay, I'm going to go back to watching Letterman before I hit the hay. Ciao for niao.