Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I'm working on the mower in the front yard. It's not going well. High in the spruce trees, a bird is chittering his spring mating call. In the distance, a competing male answers him. They go at it for a good thirty minutes before I decide it's time for a talk. I scan the trees until his silouette is in focus against the mountain.

Dude. She's not even hearing you.

No answer, but no song, either. He's listening.

Right now she's partying with some biker scumbird,exploring the limits of her wildness while you twitter here in my tree.

He hops down a branch, leans forward.

Oh, don't worry, He'll dump her at some point and she'll rebound toward someone more traditional; someone sweeter and committed, like you. It won't be your song that attracts her then, though. It'll be your timing and location. Have a nesting site or two picked out, and show her you're willing to work.

He puffed his chest a bit.

That's as good as it'll get, though.

He cocked his head.

Once her eggs are fertile, you become a tool; an accessory. You're dropped in the pecking order. Your value is the worms you dig. And when the chicks fly, the relationship is over.

The tree was silent.

Sorry, Dude.

Then the bird in the distance called. No response from our end.

Now hold on. I'm not saying quitting is an option. You sing because that's what you are. Your responsibility is to build the boldest and brightest song; a song that will attract a mate, but also a song that will define a legacy, a song that will represent your species, a song that will give your kind a better chance to survive. I know that's a lot to ask. I know this is a tiny piece of a large forest, and your contribution seems miniscule, but trust me on this; your effort matters! It does. So sing. Boldly and brightly.

He did.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Food for Thought

My wife had nightmares after pizza. Something someone over at Moose Tooth Pizzeria put in the sauce worked its way into her inner consciousness and woke all the best monsters. I'd listen for a while when she spoke in her sleep to see if she'd divulge anything useful, but usually about the third scream I'd kinda lose interest and poke her and tell her to pipe down. We're not together any more, but I still honor our tradition of Friday night pizza, though it's not near as fun. But it got me to thinking, the pizza nightmares did, of how different foods affect our minds and our behaviors. So I asked around, and by golly it's amazing how many folks I know that have some food or another that changes them.

Buck doesn't drink tequila any more because it made him think he was Superman and he found out when someone sets out to conquer evil when they're NOT Superman evil hurts them a lot, so he quit. I know tequila isn't really a food, but Buck pretty much lives on hard liquor and ball park cuisine, so that's all he could come up with.

Ernie overheard his new girlfriend tell her other friend that mushrooms make her amorous. Ernie became a quick study on everything fungus. He bought books and started cooking with all the exotic Japanese shrooms. He quit fishing and started hiking in search of wild Morels. He borrowed some manure from Langleys and farmed mushrooms in his crawlspace. His girlfriend's therapist said he had some kind of addiction and she should shed herself of him. His new girlfriend likes horses.

Ted said Nutter Butter cookies always put some stupid song in his head that sticks there for days and he can't get rid of it. Sometimes he doesn't even have to eat a cookie, just look at the picture on the package. "Damndest annoying thing", he says.

Ice cream came up in my research a bunch of times. Everybody at the poker table agreed that the headaches are the worst and it hurts too much to think when your having them. But different flavors seemed to affect some of the guys differently. Flash, when eating pistachio, always designs little golf courses on the scoops with his spoon. 'Mo never hums unless he is eating his homemade peach cream, walking around mmming with his mouth full and that squeaky voice of his and you have shut him up. Walt says ice cream is for kids and won't have any until you tell him to go ahead and have some, then fills a whole bowl and scarfs it quick. Then he gets real animated and tells you everything even if you don't want to hear it, but falls asleep in his chair after an hour or so. We all told him he ought to check his sugar, but he says rocky road always gets him and he works nights besides.

Tim has a sad story about broccoli. He actually likes broccoli, but had to pretend to hate it when he was growing up, because all of his brothers and sisters did. His mom made quite a fuss over him to get him to eat his broccoli, and now that she's gone, he can't eat broccoli without thinking of her and all that attention he got. Jake likes broccoli too, but gets so uncomfortable over what it does to his system that he won't eat it if he's going to be around anybody. Truth be known, just about everything Jake eats is going to make anyone around him uncomfortable later, but broccoli is the one thing he just won't get near.

Almost everyone tells of being sent out in the night by their pregnant wives for strange foods. We figure it's one of natures mysteries, that there are women who are so tuned to the nutritional needs of whats growing in them that they will miss a development window if they don't get an ingredient in pickling spice or Clamato RIGHT NOW. Of course, we also believe there are women who just enjoy the thought of their poor sap making his fortieth trip this week to the Tastee Freeze for soft serve.

Claude gets misty every time he hears the word gruyere, as in cheese. He was sitting in Simon and Sieforts, looking out over the inlet eating $20 fried cheese with the girl he planned to marry when she let him know they were breaking up because he wasn't romantic enough. Ernie told him he thought the cheese S&S serves is actually brie, but Claude has gruyere and that girl tied together in his brain and when he gets all soap-boxy about something stupid like literature or music we work "gruyere" into the conversation and his switch gets flipped.

Cliff got a green Budweiser when he was a kid. He says looking at a label or seeing a clydesdale on TV still makes him just a little green himself. Cliff's wife heard that red wine, blueberries, and garlic make you healthy, and she's gone a little overboard with all three. She perks up and gets happy about their healthy future whenever she has some, so Cliff makes sure the house is always stocked with a box of each.

It turns out we have a scientist of sorts in the gang; the new guy, Kansas. We call him Kansas though his name is Rollie. Seems the kind thing to do even though he's never been to Kansas. Rollie has been exploring the corners of his brain box combining all kinds of foods with Ambien, the sleep drug. Ever since the judge let him off for sleep-driving his volkswagon into the DMV with his head through the wrong hole of his pajamas, claiming his sister needed to be pulled out of the fire even though there was no fire and he's an only child, Ambien has become his drug of choice.
That's a pretty ringing endorsement, because Kansas has been "expanding his horizons" since the late sixties. He claims the sleep drug is a kind of accelerant for the thoughts and moods produced by certain foods, and he's been documenting (when he's able) what he eats and what goes on after. Kansas thinks he has found a subject of study which will fill the rest of his days with purpose and leave his mark on mankind. Ernie thinks those days are short numbered and the only mark left by Kansas will be the dent in the DMV building, but the results Kansas shared are interesting, so I'll offer a sample and take my chances with any future copyright infringement.
Kansas says the best food for concentration is tuna salad. You can see it in his writing after an "experiment", he says. He probably wouldn't have wrecked the volkswagon if he'd just downed a deli-pint before he went to sleep, he says.
Fast food burgers have some mystery chemical (he's going to find) that takes your "full" signal away. One night he ran a test, and ate seven quarter pounders without his body telling him to quit. He thinks the chemical may be related to another he experienced back when you were allowed to grow your own, that would allow you to eat cardboard and crave more.
Mexican food makes Kansas "virile". He held his clenched fist at arms length with his other hand over his elbow when he told us this. Not just any Mexican food though, just the kind with real hot Hatch chile, sharp cheese, and charred refried beans. The thought of a virile Kansas is more of a Taco Bell kind of experience to the rest of us, so we didn't let him get into any depth on the subject, but there you are.
German food makes him sleepy. "Combined with Ambien, how could you tell?" was my first thought, but Kansas insisted that after controlled dosages and multiple trials, sausages, potato salad, beer, and bread make him listless and dull.
Kansas made some comment about food from Great Britain, but I don't remember it. I do remember we had a discussion afterward trying to define what English food actually is, but no one could think of any, besides Guinness, of course.
Breakfast foods actually ARE the most important meal of the day according to Kansas, even when consumed at midnight. A "train wreck" scramble from Leroy's all night cafe may look like a predigested hash of floor leavings, but Kansas claims the eggs in particular provide 8-10 hrs of staying power to conduct science and write all night.
All but the organic wines make him crazy. Most sandwich meats do the same thing. Evidently, sulfates, sulfites, nitrates, and nitrites combined with Ambien are the makings of psychopaths and radio talk show hosts according to Kansas. Cliff wanted to hear more (He has quite an assortment of Slim Jims - the factory burned and they may be collectible) but Kansas was convinced we were not capable of dealing with such ugly realities, and he moved on.
Chinese almost always spun him into depression. It only lasted for a few hours, but consistently darkened his mood. If he ever gets too happy, he says, Mongolian beef will snap him out of it.
Kansas went on quite a rave concerning Italian food. He suspects anise or oregano, but marinara makes him reflective, romantic, and deeper thinking. According to Kansas, if we spent more time with fresh pasta, heavily spiced sausage, ricotta, and organic chianti, the world would be a better place. Can't argue with him there.

Offered with an apology to Scribbit ( even though it's fishing season.