American Film Institute 100

Last night was one of my favorite times of the year. The American Film Institute unveiled their 100 list. This year they listed the 100 greatest American films of all-time. It was the first time they had done this since 1997. Below is their list, the ranking the movie had in 1997 and the size and direction of the change in the movie’s ranking since 1997.

One of the things that makes me happiest about this list is that “Dances with Wolves” got the boot. The thing that makes me the saddest is that “Star Wars” is still on the list and is still rated WAY too high.


4. RAGING BULL 24 20
9. VERTIGO 61 52
10. WIZARD OF OZ, THE 6 -4
11. CITY LIGHTS 76 65
12. SEARCHERS, THE 96 84
13. STAR WARS 15 2
14. PSYCHO 18 4
15. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 22 7
16. SUNSET BLVD. 12 -4
17. GRADUATE, THE 7 -10
21. CHINATOWN 19 -2
22. SOME LIKE IT HOT 14 -8
27. HIGH NOON 33 6
28. ALL ABOUT EVE 16 -12
35. ANNIE HALL 31 -4
39. DR. STRANGELOVE 26 -13
41. KING KONG 43 2
45. SHANE 69 24
48. REAR WINDOW 42 -6
51. WEST SIDE STORY 41 -10
52. TAXI DRIVER 47 -5
53. DEER HUNTER, THE 79 26
54. M*A*S*H 56 2
56. JAWS 48 -8
57. ROCKY 78 21
58. GOLD RUSH, THE 74 16
60. DUCK SOUP 85 25
64. NETWORK 66 2
68. UNFORGIVEN 98 30
69. TOOTSIE 62 -7
76. FORREST GUMP 71 -5
79. WILD BUNCH, THE 80 1
80. APARTMENT, THE 93 13
84. EASY RIDER 88 4
86. PLATOON 83 -3
87. 12 ANGRY MEN N/A
100. BEN-HUR 72 -28

Source URL: American Film Institute

Checking in on a Friend and More


I also wanted to check in on my friend Monica and report on what she has been doing lately. The answer is painting. I’m posting 6 pictures of her more recent paintings for you to enjoy.



When I started typing away on my novella, I stated that I wouldn’t do anything worth writing about while I was writing about those 11 days. It is a pledge I haven’t been able to keep. I have done some stuff worth writing about, but I’m not going to write about them. I am merely going to post a collection of pictures from my most recent adventures. There will not be an explanation for the pictures. They will simply exist, unless somebody out there wants to try to explain where these pictures came from.

Catching Up with Some Friends

Here are what some of my friends and a family member have been up to lately:

Boone’s bands: Everything from Bach to Broadway

By: MARY CATLETT, Boone News-Republican


If you didn’t spend last evening in a state of grace, relaxation and live music, then you’re one of the few Boone residents who weren’t enjoying the Boone Municipal Band.

Your loss.

Every Wednesday evening under the stars for the last 91 years, this musical group has kept time with the summer season, entertaining scores of Boone generations and enriching the quality of life with the sound of music.

Lowell Davis is a knowledgeable member of the band, which started its season the last week of May.

“We play on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. in the summer at the Herman Park Pavilion,” he said. “You can expect to hear around eight different musical pieces each week,” in addition to the standard opening “Star Spangled Banner” and closing “America” the Beautiful.”

The evening just wouldn’t be complete without an ice cream social, featuring cake, pie and ice cream. These duties are handled by a different church groups each week.

There’s no Paula Abdul or Randy Jackson to critique, only good times and quality sounds wafting through the attentive crowds.

“It really is a wonderful atmosphere on Wednesdays for our concerts. The Pavilion has marvelous acoustics and, as the band director Dave Richardson often points out, ‘a thousand shades of green’ as you look around the park,” said Davis. “I think it’s great to see different generations of families each week enjoying themselves.”

Morever, Davis knows all of the kids who are playing in the park while their parents and grandparents listen to music will have “wonderful memories as they get older of a community event that just doesn’t happen everywhere anymore like it does here.”

For long-time resident Twila Ingham, the band directs sweet memories to the forefront. “I do ‘remember the days’ many years ago, when my parents would take all five of us kids and one of those large paper bags full of popcorn out to listen to the Boone Municipal Band every Wednesday evening throughout the summer months,” she said.

At that time the band played at Blair Park, across the street from the high school, said Ingham, instead of its current home Herman Park Pavilion at the south end of Greene Street.

“The park had a pond that the kids would inevitably end up playing in during the concerts,” she said. “We always enjoyed ourselves, and going to the concerts meant that we kids got to stay up later than usual – that was always a treat!”

For the last 16 years or so, Boone also hosts the Iowa Municipal Band Festival on the second Saturday in July each year. “In the past we’ve had bands from as far (away) as Germany and as close as Ames join us for a full day of music in the park,” said Davis.

Be it Basie or Bach, there’s good reason for Boone citizens to wend their way to the Herman Park Pavilion for a little mid-season music.

“It was, and I’m sure it still is, a great way to spend a summer evening,” said Ingham. “The nice part of this is that the Wednesday night concerts were and still are free. There’s no charge, so get off that couch and bring the family out for a great evening of entertainment!”

The genesis of the Boone Big Band offers a musical counterpoint to its municipal cousin.

Formed by jazz enthusiasts of the concert band, the Boone Big Band is a full-size award winning community-based band made up of five saxophones, four trombones, five trumpets, drums, piano, bass and guitar. They held their first annual chili feed and dance at the Boone Municipal Airport last October.

“We really didn’t plan on ever performing as a group,” said Lowell Davis. “We just thought it would be fun to have an outlet to enjoy some of the music that we all love. Once we played together a few times people got wind of the group’s existence and asked us to perform in public.”

Their first performances were so well received, and the players enjoyed themselves so much that the group decided to continue on. They now have over 100 charts in their repertoire.

“We love playing the music and people seem to enjoy listening to us,” he said. “We’re on a bit of a hiatus for the summer months as the focus returns to the municipal band and its style of music, but we’ll be back in full force this fall.”

Source URL: Boone News Republican


Quality, Iowa-made soap gentle on skin, clothes


Ames Life & Times Staff Writer

Time is a key ingredient in Shannon Bardole’s Little White Lye Soap. Bardole, 27, started her business in December and operates from her Ames home. Lye, lard, cream of tartar and a lot of time are combined and the result is, soap, a quality, Iowa-made product that is very gentle on the skin.

Bardole’s process begins with lye and rendered lard from Iowa-raised hogs and some cream of tartar. The mixture is stirred for four hours before it is the right consistency to pour into molds, which her father designed and created. The soap continues to cure for two weeks, to ensure that the caustic lye is blended with the lard to make it gentle on the skin. Bardole carefully cuts and packages each bar and distributes them to retail outlets, all relationships that she has fostered. Bardole learned the art of making soap when she worked at Living History Farms and continues to share her excitement about the process and distribution of her product.

What is exciting about your business that draws you in everyday?

Since this business is so new, I enjoy the new opportunities to create relationships with retailers and customers due to a locally handcrafted high-quality product.

Where were you employed prior to this venture?

I spent four years at Living History Farms after I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in family services. Within those four years I was the Broom Shop Supervisor and 1900 Farm assistant domestic supervisor. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I am currently the office manager at Atlas Media Group, which deals in collegiate athletics.

What made you decide to open the business?

After leaving Living History Farms, I wanted to continue with some of the things I’d learned there. I can garden and cook at home, but I wanted to be able to bring a quality, Iowa-made product to the public.

Why soap?

Soap was a relatively easy and inexpensive start up. I’d like to get into brooms, but that’s taking more time.

How did you become interested this process?

At Living History Farms, we encouraged visitors to participate in some of the daily processes at the 1900 Farm, and one of those activities was making soap. I remember sitting on the porch stirring soap at the 1900 Farm and thinking, “When I leave here, I think I’d like to keep doing this!” It’s an interesting process to see an extremely caustic chemical turn into the gentlest soap you can use on your skin.

What are some other uses for this product?

I use my soap to wash my hands, as we did at the farm, but we interpreted that lye soap would be used for everything from bathing to laundry. I rub my bar of soap into my shower loofah and shave it up to use as laundry soap. One of my customers commented that it helped with itchy skin. I have begun to shave up some of the soap to use as laundry detergent. It’s been very gentle on my clothes, and gets them clean. For a little extra stain protection, I rub some of the soap directly onto the stain, and it’s been known to take out stains such as grease, ground in dirt and blood.

What is special about Little White Lye Soap?

Since it doesn’t have any perfumes added, it is very mild and gentle on sensitive skin.

Describe your products?

A single bar of Little White Lye Soap is approximately 5 ounces. The molds I use are wooden boxes that I cut the bars of soap out of. Each bar is a little unique regarding shape and size.

What other items do you sell?

My dad and I make crocheted dishcloths, which we sell.

What is a price range for your items?

A bar of soap is $4-$5 and a dish cloth is $5.

What have been customer favorites?

The gift set of a bar of soap wrapped in a dishcloth has been popular.

Why would you recommend Little White Lye Soap?

It’s a mild, gentle soap that is good on your skin in whatever form you use it, whether that is as laundry detergent, hand-washing soap or as a full body soap in the shower.

Where can readers purchase your product?

Little White Lye Soap is available directly from Bardole or at the following retailers: Wheatsfield, 413 Douglas Ave, open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; in Story City at RVP~1875, 526 Broad St., Story City, open Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Heart of Iowa Marketplace, 221 Fifth St., West Des Moines, open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday; Living History Farms, 2600 111th St., open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

RVP~1875 is the only location that carries dishcloths. It will also be sold at the Webster City Farmer’s Market from 8 a.m. to noon starting Saturday.

Source URL: Des Moines Register

There are pictures on the website, but I thought I would throw out some pictures I took on the day of the interview.

Dirty Boot



Shannon being Interviewed

This Cat Didn’t Help at All

My Sister Teresa

Below is a news story about a Hokie Healing Blanket. My sister Teresa made 7 squares for these blankets.

Minutia – Chapter 8: False Sense of Entitlement

Chapter 8: False Sense of Entitlement

Friday Night Supper Club has been in existence for over a year now. Since its existence, there have been three members. We are just like the three musketeers, without the intrigue, sword fighting and problems with the Cardinal Guards. Willy is Porthos. Jay is Athos. I am Aramis. Auxiliary member Jesse is our d’Artagnan. There have also been a few Planchets, Man from Meungs, and Constance Bonacieuxs that have graced FNSC as well.

Since its inception one cold March night at Tic-Toc, it has met without fail. True, on some occasions, Willy has skipped out to roof or watch steroid jockeys talk about God. Jay has missed on occasion to clean his apartment for Symposium. On occasion, actually I don’t think I’ve ever missed a FNSC. In my world, FNSC is sacred.

However, it was looking like our streak was going to come to an end. There was a Friday looming on the calendar that looked like trouble. Porthos was going to hop on a plane and go to Spain. Aramis had birthday dinner plans. This left Athos to hold down the fort and keep the streak going. It wasn’t promising though. d’Artagnan was at Safeco Field in Seattle, watching Chris Young dominate.

The three musketeers weren’t about to give up though. A plan was hatched. Friday Night Supper Club was going to have its first ever Thursday night meeting. It would work perfectly. Porthos would be able to get to his plane on Friday. Aramis would be able to get to his birthday dinner. Most importantly, the streak would continue.


Jay called me at work in the afternoon and wanted to know where I wanted to go for dinner and asked if this was going to be for my birthday.

“No. We can’t go out for my birthday without Jesse. That will have to wait until he gets back from Seattle and Willy gets back from Spain.”

“Where do you want to eat?”

“I’d prefer to eat in Ames because I have some errands I need to run in Ames. How about the House of Chen?”

>We agreed on the House of Chen, but we weren’t sure if Willy was going to make it. He was leaving for Spain the next day and probably still had ducks to get into the row. Jay agreed to meet me at the computer mine. The plan was set.

I did not tell Jay what my errands were. Some people view me as being hyper-secretive. I don’t think of myself this way. I think that I am a builder (not just because that is my unofficial job title at the mine). I build suspense and let things play out in a superior way, rather than just giving up the goods at the beginning.

Plus I’ve learned that when I tell people my plans, they feel like they need to give me their “ideas”. I prefer to work on my thing and unveil it when the time is right.

The night’s errands consisted of going to Hobby Lobby and buying a frame for Rebecca’s graduation signature thing, going to Lake Laverne to feed some swans (and get rid of some old bread that was stinking up my bench at work), go to Wal-Mart to pick up the 2 Disc Special Edition of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and square my 14 buck debt with Monica.


When Jay met me at the computer mine he had the look of a man that wanted to drive. I don’t think I’m giving up a major male secret that there are just times when a man needs to drive. If you can read people, you can usually tell when a man has that need. I emphasized with Jay. I had often had the need that I knew he was having, but I really needed to drive. Not in the visceral, instinctual way that Jay needed it. I needed to drive because I didn’t want to transfer stuff back and forth between cars.

“You want to drive, don’t you?” I asked but already knew the answer.

“Oh yeah!”

“I really need to drive.”

He was slightly deflated.


“Because of all the errands I have to run. It will be a lot easier if I don’t have to move all of this stuff from my car to you car and then back to my car.”

He seemed slightly defeated.

“Alright.” He offered, “But we have to be back by 8:30. I’m having electrical problems with my car.”

As I reached for the door to my car the riff from “Mannish Boy” blasted out of my cell phone. Only two people have that ring tone and one of them was standing about 5 feet from me and he believes with religious fervor that the cell phone is an evil invention. This could only mean that it was Porthos.

I looked down at my phone and saw Willy’s smiling face staring back at me from the Caller ID window.

I answered my phone, “Lone Wolf.” I’m not a nickname enthusiast like Jay, but I felt like playing to the crowd.


“You joining us?”

“I left work early; I got everything taken care of. I’m in. Where we eating?”

“House of Chen.”

“I have heard of such a place, but I don’t know its location.”

“I have to run a couple of errands before we eat. Just meet us at Lake Laverne.”

“Will do! Wolf out!”

I shut my phone and got into the car. Jay was already in the passenger seat. He looked at me and asked, “What is this about Lake Laverne?”

“One of my errands is taking an acceptable swan picture.”

I started the car, turned on the iPod and we headed towards Hobby Lobby.


I have been a long time sufferer of HobbyLobbyphobia. The anxiety caused by this condition does not keep me from entering Hobby Lobby. This anxiety only keeps me from looking a Hobby Lobby employee in the eyes or asking one for help. If the unthinkable happened and a Hobby Lobby employee actually asked me if I needed help, this anxiety would prevent me from accepting any assistance from them.

My HobbyLobbyphobia does not prevent me from pulling things down off their shelves and taking them to the checkout line. I’m quite willing to do this despite the fact I usually have to go through about 5 or 6 frames, candle holders, or whatever before I find one that isn’t scratched, dented, or otherwise damaged. I have no problem doing this if I don’t have to see any Hobby Lobby employees. It is when I’m in the line my anxiety usually turns to frustration.

This trip to Hobby Lobby was one of the rare times that I can say the experience was painless. I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted a 24×36 frame that was silver. I had already scoped out the frame I wanted. It had a metallic finish. I waited until this week to pick the frame up because one of the good things about Hobby Lobby is the fact that if something you wanted isn’t on sale, wait 1 week and it will be. At least this rule has always served me well when it comes to frames and mat boards. This rule served me well again. 50% off. I was a winner.

I found a frame that looked like it hadn’t been dropped from a high place. I grabbed it and headed for the dreaded line.

The strangest thing happened. I was the 2nd person in line AND the person ahead of me wasn’t buying 40 glass bowls that all needed to be individually wrapped. I was through the line in no time. I was back to the car in no time. We were heading to Lake Laverne in no time. My HobbyLobbyphobia did not ruin this evening.


I parked at Lake Laverne. We had beaten Willy there. This seemed weird to me at first, but then I recalled that despite his love for his sports car, he rarely exceeded the state prescribed speed limits.

I looked around the lake. I looked for the swans. Earlier trips had resulted in swan photos that I considered to be unsatisfactory. I was hoping to entice them with some of my old bread and get in good and close for the picture I wanted.

The swans were on the south bank of the lake. This was where I usually found them. It was going to work out well because they were in fairly deep shadows. I wouldn’t have to worry about small bits of light fighting through the foliage and creating awkward bits of contrast in the images that I didn’t want.

I began making the walk around the lake to the swans. Even though there is a side walk that encircles the lake, I walked close to the water. I was hoping to catch a picture of a frog on my way to the swans. I had no such luck.

Willy showed up while I was doing this activity. He, Jay, and the loaf of bread caught up to me.

“What are we doing?” Jay asked. He was always the inquisitive one. Willy was always the one just able to go with the flow.

“I want a satisfactory swan picture. I want you guys to feed the swans, while I take pictures of it.”

“We’re doing this because?” Jay still wasn’t satisfied.

“So I can get a satisfactory swan picture.”

We finished the walk and approached the swans. They seemed receptive to the idea of having their pictures taken. Jay opened up the bread and started throwing bread at them. I took a couple of pictures.

Then out of nowhere, two geese swam in on us. They moved quickly. In an instant they were on the bank. The beautiful swans were spooked. They plopped into the lake and floated away.

My plan had been foiled by these two honking geese.

Jay looked at me, “Now what?”

“Well, I have to get rid of the bread either way. Give it to the geese.”

Jay and Willy threw some bread at them. In an instant, the geese were on them. They were begging for the bread, but not in the way a dog begs for food. They were moving in on my fellow musketeers demanding the bread. They were hissing at Jay and Willy. They didn’t just want the bread. They felt that they were entitled to the bread. In all my years, I’ve only seen one other creature with such a false sense of entitlement and that was a human.

These birds weren’t thankful for this handout. They felt that they deserved the bread. I still can’t fathom why.

Willy and Jay looked at each other. They stopped giving bread to the geese.

“We can find some creatures out there that will be thankful for a free meal.” Willy said and closed the bag of bread. The gravy train was over.

“Go get a job!” Jay said to the goose nearest to him. Only he didn’t say it out loud. He said it with a look.

They pushed their way through the geese. We walked along the lake for a few hundred feet. We stopped by a bench. Willy and Jay started throwing hunks of bread into the lake at some perch.

It was a melee. 9 or 10 perch all came to the surface and fought for a hunk of bread. This was good entertainment. Plus the perch that got the bread had earned it. They weren’t just sitting around hissing about what they thought they deserved.

“We’re the only Canadian Geese on this lake; we deserve to be given this bread. It is our right!”

These perch were busting their humps for a little taste of bread.

I moved slightly away from my fellow musketeers. I wanted to get a picture of them feeding the fish. Unfortunately as soon as I got into a good position to take a picture, I realized that there was a silver sandwich wrapper on the ground next to Jay’s feet. This trash, this pollution ruined the purity of my shot. I silently thought about how much I hate people that litter in parks. Absolutely the dregs of society.

I was denied my first satisfactory swan shot, but at least I could do something about this picture. I walked back towards Jay and Willy to pick up the piece of pollution. When I was within 15 feet I heard this sound:


It came from both their mouths. Something relatively cool had happened.

“What happened?” I asked.

Willy answered. “A catfish just showed up.”

I checked out the lake and there was a catfish mixed in with the perch. It was fighting for its hunk of the bread.

“That thing is so nasty.” Jay said.

Jay is afraid of fish. He always has been. Despite his biased perspective, I do have to agree with him. Everything in the catfish family is a pretty nasty fish. They look nasty and they spend their whole lives in mud. Pretty tasty though.

The catfish made Jay and Willy throw larger and larger hunks of bread into the lake. A second catfish showed up. Then a third. Watching the catfish fight for bread was better than watching the perch. They began throwing full pieces of bread.

I picked up the piece of pollution and moved back to my position.

“Save me a piece of bread.” I called out.

I took a couple of pictures.

When there was only one piece of bread left, we continued on. I wanted one piece of bread left in case we encountered any more geese. I have never been a fan of the goose, but I wanted to see if it was just these two birds that were filled with this false sense of entitlement, or if it was the whole species.

I was not to find out. We finished the loop around the lake without spying another goose. I threw the last piece of bread into the lake. Nothing happened. Willy grabbed a stick and pushed the bread farther out into the water.

A catfish hit it. Then another. Then another. Then it was a catfish feeding frenzy. At least 6 catfish hit that piece of bread. After the first hit it was gone in seconds.

“That was disgusting.” Jay offered.

“Yet cool.” I countered.

“I don’t feel like eating fish for sure now.” Willy offered.


Willy followed us to the House of Chen. We walked into the restaurant and were seated. We sat for a while. Then our waitress came and took our drink orders. It may have become apparent that I’m not real big into physical appearances. I haven’t described the physical appearance of a single character in this tome. There are a few reasons why I haven’t included any physical descriptions of anybody.

The main reason is that I’m not a physical appearance person. Anybody that has seen how poorly I put myself together knows this fact. Another reason for the absence of physical descriptions is that I’m not very good at making them. I can tell you the color of somebody’s hair. I can tell if you if they were short or tall. I can tell you if they were slender, plump, or fat or some degree elsewhere. Sometimes I can compare what a person looks like to somebody else I know. That is really the limit of my skill in this department.

The final reason is that I have yet to come up to a point in this story where somebody’s physical characteristics added a dimension to the story. There hasn’t been a point where somebody was so short they couldn’t do something. The color of somebody’s eyes hasn’t changed the course of any event. The degree to which somebody plucks their eyebrows has not been important to me. Somebody hasn’t been so fat that something else happened.

This is about to change. I will make a vague physical description of a person and it will only happen again one other time in this tome.

I’m not very good with physical descriptions of other humans. So I’ll just say this about our waitress, she met the benchmark for being physically attractive in about every category on the average male’s checklist.

Why is this important? It isn’t terribly important, but it does lead to a minor episode that occurred at dinner.

Perhaps I should give a little bit of background on where this episode was spawned.

I work with a guy by the name of Steve. I lunch with Steve several times a month. Steve is a terrible rubbernecker.

I’d like to say that Steve is an admirer of the beautiful form of woman, but I can’t make this case without knowing that it is a lie. You see whenever we are at lunch; Steve suffers from a decided inability to make eye contact with the waitress. Steve is a straight to eye to mammary contact man.

In the past I have tried to defend such behavior. I point out that when the human eye looks at a photograph or a painting the eye instinctively always looks at the point of greatest contrast. This can not be controlled. It is instinctual.

When a man looks at a woman, he instantly looks at the cleavage because cleavage is the point of greatest contrast. The fair skin contrasts with the shadow that the cleavage gives off. Inevitably the eye is lead into the complete darkness of the cleavage valley.

This does not mean that the man is “checking out” any chick because he looks at her breasts first. The man’s eyes are just drawn to the point of greatest contrast and then his eyes move out from there. It is the same as looking at any other piece of art. That’s just science.

However, it is hard to make this argument for Steve. Not when most waitresses where polos (which hide the mammaries) and most restaurants are poorly lit. This just isn’t the proper environment to create high contrast. It could be that the way women are composed (the lines of a woman also draw the eyes to their breasts like the way the lines in a picture draw the eyes to a subject) that makes Steve so powerless, but I think the truth of the matter is that Steve likes what Steve likes and he doesn’t have the societal training to stop him from making eye to mammary contact for minutes at a time.

Jesse also lunches with us. Jesse is always giving Steve a rough time for his uncouth behavior. Steve deserves the derision, but it comes from a man who is standing squarely on the San Andreas Fault of moral ground.

Before I met Steve, Jesse was the most notorious rubbernecker I ever laid my eyes upon. Jay often recounts tales where Jesse was driving down the street and would almost rear end the car in front of them because rather than watching the road, Jesse was admiring some buxom lady on the sidewalk.

The times when our d’Artagnan would join us for FNSC, he would be on the prowl. Not for himself though. He would be on the prowl for Porthos and Athos. Any restaurant we eat at, he is constantly nudging one those two gents and pointing out the physical qualities of any girls within our table’s sphere of influence. This nudge is usually accompanied by a finger point and a visceral half grunt half “huh, huh?”

It is as if rather than dining with a normal human being, we are dining with the “nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more” character from Monty Python. It is uncomfortable for everybody at the table, except for King Rubbernecker.

I wasn’t thinking about Steve or Jesse at this time though. I was just thinking about what I wanted to eat. Feeding the wildlife at Lake Laverne had built me a mighty appetite.

The Waitress came back to the table. She took Jay’s order. She asked me for my order. I ordered pepper beef.

The Waitress stopped before she took Willy’s order.

“I really like your shirt.” She said to me.

It is rare that anybody ever compliments a shirt I am wearing. The exception is the shiny pink dress shirt I bought for the Oscar party earlier this year. Other than that, (and the occasional backhanded ‘you clean up nice’) I don’t get very many compliments for the way I dress. That is fair though. I don’t deserve many compliments. I don’t have a discernible style. My style consists of “what was clean and what musician/movie/cause/plaid I like today”. That is all the thought that goes into how I dress myself every morning.

I get out of the shower and think, “this is clean and I like Dang! root beer.” I throw those on and I’m ready to take on the world.

On this day, I didn’t remember what I had decided I liked. Was it red plaid? Was it Shannon Curfman? Was it saving Darfur?

I looked down at my shirt. Rocky Balboa was staring back at me. This morning, my “Rocky” shirt was clean.

“Thanks.” I said.

“It is really cool.”

“It is a great movie.”

Then she moved on to take Willy’s order and then she was gone. It was a simple comment. Nothing was meant by it other than that she liked my shirt. The only other thing one could deduce from this comment was that perhaps she was also a fan of “Rocky”. You could just as easily deduce that she liked the monochrome color scheme of the shirt.

Whatever her intent, the dye had been cast.

I looked at Willy. His elbow was out and he was moving it in a rubbing motion. If we were not so far apart, I assure you that his elbow would have been grinding into my side. Then he pointed in the direction that the Waitress had left.

“Huh, huh!” Willy stammered out a visceral half grunt.

Jay laughed and spit out some water.

It was indeed rich. I had never been the victim of Howard’s vicarious rubbernecking. It was always Willy and Jay. Now Willy was using this opportunity to mock Jesse. Jay was enjoying the moment as well.

I knew that mocking Jesse was funny, but I only laughed, took a sip of RC Cola, and said, “What? She likes Rocky.”


We stood outside of the House of Chen. We wished Willy the best of luck in Spain. Willy accepted our good tidings, got in his Stealth and drove off.

Jay was ready to get a move on.

“Let’s go.” He said. “I got to get back to Boone.”

“I need to make 1 more stop. Maybe a second stop.”

I really wanted to make 2 more stops. I wanted to stop at the Ames Wal-Mart and see if they had a copy of the 2 Disc Special Edition of “Pan’s Labyrinth”, but that was going to have to wait, unless we made record time at Monica’s Salon.

“We don’t have time.”

“We have plenty of time.”

The sun was quickly fading in the western sky. I had to make at least 1 stop. I owed Monica 14 dollars and I was going to square that debt. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a welcher. I make good on my debts.


Monica’s salon is located in the mall. We were right next door. We barely drove a block. We still had plenty of time.

I parked the car and Jay asked, “Should I come in?”

“I guess that depends on whether or not you want to see Monica?”

He decided that he wanted to see Monica. We ascended the stairs to her Salon and saw her working on somebody’s hair.

“Benndawg. Jay.” She said excitedly. Monica is one of the last people that still calls me Benndawg. “What are you guys doing here?”

“I came to settle a debt.”

She looked kind of worried. Her look made me think she thought we were in some mindless action film. I was going to explain how she had wronged me. Then Jay and I would shoot the place up. We would miss her with the thousand some bullets that we would fire, and the debt would finally be settled in an extensive martial arts battle that involved hair supplies, shears, and people running up walls and doing flips.

This wasn’t an action movie though.

“I owe you 14 dollars.”

She shot back a blank stare. I would swear she was wondering if she threw some Griptight in our eyes if it would blind us long enough for her to make her escape.

“For what?”

“For taking care of my HobbyLobbyphobia.”

“The matboard.”

“You had forgotten.”

She laughed.

“I had.”

I reached for my wallet and pulled out a twenty. “Can you make change?” I asked.

“As soon as I’m done with this client.”

Jay became agitated. The sun was fading away. He only had one headlight. He was blaming me for the situation.

“What do you mean you need change?”

“I only have a twenty.”

“We don’t have time to wait.”

“I’m not a welcher.”

Jay pulled out his wallet and started handing me cash.

“Take this; pay her so we can go.”

I then realized that I had money in one of my front pockets. I reached in my hand and pulled out exactly fourteen dollars.

“What do you know about that?” I said wondrously.

I put the 14 dollars on her cash register.

“There you go Monica. We have to go. Jay is having electrical problems.”

Before the last words had escaped my mouth, Jay was down the stairs. He was in a hurry. There would be no stop at Wal-Mart. That was the bad news.

What I didn’t know then was that my quest for “Pan’s Labyrinth” would end at the Boone Wal-Mart in less than an hour. That would be good news.

When I got home that night, there was a 20×30 picture of Rebecca waiting for me in my mailbox. That was great news.

Jay Giving the Handout

Swan Floating Away

Goose Throwing a Hissy Fit

Willy Feeding Perch

Jay Watching Willy


Jay and Willy Feeding Fish

Minutia – Chapter 7: Lust for Life

WARNING!! This following chapter is on the cusp of being stream of consciousness writing. Not really, but it is as close as I allow myself to come to such a thing. It is not my favorite type of writing and I understand that sometimes it can be difficult to read. I know what you are thinking. You can’t change styles like this in the middle of a project. James Joyce did it all the time, so I’m going to do it too.

Chapter 7: Lust for Life

I don’t know much art history. I did know that an artist by the name of Vincent Van Gogh had been on my mind lately. Ever since Jesse told me that somebody actually bought the picture (the veracity of that claim has since been called into question by his wife) that is hanging in Kelly’s salon I have thought about Van Gogh. He is perhaps the most successful artist of the last 100 years. His paintings consistently break records when they go to auction.

For all of that success, he only sold one painting when he was alive. That is one of only three things I know about Van Gogh. I know that fact, I know that he cut off his ear, and I know that he killed himself. That is really all I know about the man.

I was thinking that now I had tied Van Gogh. True I’m not a painter, but I had now sold one piece of art to a stranger. The same as Van Gogh. I had tied Vincent.

I knew that I wanted to know more about him. I was standing in Border’s holding Rebecca’s birthday present. I decided to get her a book of Van Gogh’s work after she had showed me an elephant sculpture she had painted in the spirit of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” the evening before.

I had picked up a book published by Taschen that included images of every one of Van Gogh’s existing paintings. It was now that I was considering picking up a copy of a biography on the man. I didn’t really need a book for myself. I had borrowed a copy of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” from Jon at work. He warned me that the book was too boring for a person to complete.

I knew it was a short book and figured I’d be finished with it by the time I decided it was too boring to read. I had been reading the book off and on now and had not caught any kind of natural rhythm with the book. I think it was because the book was written in a difficult style. It was not quite stream of consciousness, but the entire book is written in a manner where one person is just telling a story. In dialogue. The book is literally 100 some pages of one guy speaking.

I decided to pick up a copy of Derek Fell’s “Van Gogh’s Women”. I opened it to read a little bit of it. I instantly found my rhythm with this book and finished it in one weekend.

This was somewhat problematic for anybody that surrounds me. I have this annoying habit of telling everybody around me all about any book I read when I really enjoy the book.

People who were around me after I read this book frequently had to endure a 21st century man’s vernacular, describing the life of a 19th century genius. Often people would amble up on me and ask a simple question about “what I’ve been up to?” They would frequently got a response that was something like this:

“I’ve been reading this awesome book on Van Gogh. Man his mom really screwed him up. Vincent was the oldest child in the family but he wasn’t the first born. His mom gave birth to a still born baby. She also named that baby Vincent. 1 year later she gave birth to Vincent. When I mean 1 year later, I mean 1 year later. He was born 1 year to the day that his older stillborn brother was born. His mom named him after his older brother. His older brother was buried on their land. Every day Vincent played outside he would play next to a grave stone that carried both his name and his birth date.

If that wouldn’t screw you up enough, his mother got hardcore into something called ‘Replacement Child Syndrome’. This is when somebody loses a child and then they have another child to replace that child. They never love the replacement child as much as they loved the first child because the first child was perfect in death and a living person can’t attain perfection.

Even after his mother messed him up, I think he still had a few chances to be happy. His old man was a minister, so he decided to become a minister. He didn’t make it though because his grades were terrible. He refused to learn Greek and Latin because he considered them dead languages and he didn’t see what good it would do him to learn languages that he wasn’t going to preach in.

He still got a chance to serve God though. His church gave him a job as a missionary in a poor coal mining town. He could have been happy there, but the Church canned his ass. They didn’t like the fact that he dressed like his congregation and was dirty like his congregation. Plus he gave up his bed to a sick woman and lived in a shack and slept on a bed of straw on the floor. They might have been okay with some of his more unorthodox ways, but he also supported and tried to help organize unions for the coal miners. They got rid of him.

This really changed the way Van Gogh thought about God. He looked for other ways to serve God and began to get serious about his art work as a way to serve God.

He moved back in with his parents. As fate would have it, his cousin Kee and her son Jan were staying with them. Kee was a recent widow. Vincent fell in love with his cousin and tried to put the moves on her.

She flat out told him ‘No! Never! Never!’ She moved out and went back to live with her parents because even in 19th century Holland, hooking up with your cousin is just gross.

Vincent wasn’t about to give up though. He followed her to her parents’ house. When she refused to meet with him, he met up with her dad AKA his Uncle. When his Uncle wouldn’t let him talk to Kee, Vincent held his hand in a lamp and burned his hand, stating that ‘he would only talk to her as long as he could hold his hand in the lamp’.

His Uncle quickly put the lamp out and probably wandered what kind of sick bastard his nephew had turned into. Vince was still burned pretty badly, so his Aunt and Uncle helped bandage him up and then found him a hotel for the night.

Then Vincent started getting into prostitutes. The man loved the prostitutes. Prostitutes and absinthe and something to paint. That was all Vincent lived off of for large chunks of his life.

He got over Kee quickly enough when he started hooking up with a prostitute named Sien. When he found her she was pregnant and living in the streets. Vincent gave her a place to live and got her medical attention. You are probably thinking ‘how does a man without a job support himself, let alone a pregnant prostitute’. Vincent’s brother Theo was supporting them. Theo would support Vincent his entire life.

Theo was an art dealer in Paris. He tried to sell Vincent’s artwork, but nobody would buy. Two reasons for that. Two sad reasons really. The Paris Salon was basically the word on what art was worth buying. Royalty and rich folk do have a long history of needing other people telling them what is good and what isn’t. The Paris Salon hardly ever displayed anything that wasn’t from a dead artist. If the Salon wouldn’t display your work, nobody would buy it. To sell enough paintings to feed yourself, you already had to be dead.

Plus people didn’t trust Theo. People thought that he was just trying to push his brother’s work on them because he was his brother. People couldn’t believe their eyes. They wouldn’t spend money on what they believed to be nepotism. People just wouldn’t believe Vincent was any good because his brother tried to sell his paintings and he was still alive. The first problem Vincent took care of eventually.

Even though Vincent took Sien out of the street and provided her with medical attention, as soon as she had her kid, she went back to whoring. Vincent didn’t like that very much. After his mom screwed him up, Vincent really spent the rest of his life trying to find a woman to rescue and he thought he had found that in Sien, but rather than have a normal steady life with Vincent, she’d rather whore.

Vincent left Sien and moved back in with his parents. That didn’t go so well, since Vincent’s dad was a minister and Vincent considered the God of the clergy to be dead. Although he did paint the “Potato Eaters” at this time, nothing went very well and Vincent moved to Antwerp to take art classes. This didn’t work very well either. His instructors thought he worked too quickly and didn’t like his use of colors. They made him go back to the beginner’s class.

Van Gogh wasn’t going to take that. Can you imagine how clueless his teachers had to be? They had perhaps the greatest painter in history in their class and they busted him down to the beginner class. I guess that is consistent with our education system as well though. The most dangerous thing in the world is passion. It makes people uncomfortable to be around people that are passionate about anything. Apathy is the virtue of our day. It sure isn’t cool to care, that’s for sure.

Somewhere during this time frame, I think Vincent had his second chance at happiness. He hooked up with a lady named Margot. Margot was 12 years older than Vincent. This caused quite a ruckus. For reasons I can’t quite figure out, her family objected to her being with a much younger man. The family had them break it off. She was so dejected by the situation that while she was walking with Vincent she took some poison to try to kill herself. Vincent rushed her to a doctor and she lived, but she was sent away to recover and one of Vincent’s chances at happiness was squashed.

Shortly after that, one of Vincent’s models got knocked up. He was accused of being the father, but he wasn’t. His model did reveal to him the identity of the father, but Vincent refused to divulge the name to the church leaders, so he got the boot from that town.

Also somewhere in here, Vincent’s dad died. Some of his brothers and sisters blamed Vincent for this death because Vincent had punched the old man during a fight. However that punch was months before his death, but Vincent’s family was nearly as crazy as he was. After Vincent’s death, his sister Wil spent the rest of her life in an insane asylum. Another brother moved to South Africa and killed himself. A whole family of crazy.

Vincent told them where to go and he moved to Paris to live with Theo. This probably made Theo happy. For once he only had to pay rent at one place, but I doubt that Theo cut Vincent’s stipend. I just don’t think that Theo rolled like that.

While he was in Paris Vincent met all sorts of artists. He even got into pointillism for a small period of time, but the most important person he met was Gauguin.

>Paul Gauguin. That dude was kind of a horse’s ass. He was a wealthy man with a wife and 5 kids. He was in the stock market or some kind of financing, but he lost everything. His family was poor and he didn’t stick around. He took off and decided to become an artist. Like Van Gogh, he wasn’t financially successful while he was alive, but he did well enough to support himself. He never went back to his wife and kids though. In fact, he moved to Tahiti and married a 13 year old chick before he died. Dude was just a prick.

Despite that, Vincent developed a man crush on Gauguin. Nothing gay, but he really thought the world of him. Plus Gauguin really liked the prostitutes and absinthe as well. In fact, they would later go onto share a favorite prostitute named Rachel, but I don’t want to put the cart in front of the horse here.

Vincent ended up moving to the south of France to the town of Arles. He befriended a mailman and moved into a yellow house. Vincent wasn’t very well received in Arles. People would throw things at him while he was painting. They would stand in his way while he was painting. People from Arles were pricks.

Vincent still loved it there though. He wanted Gauguin to move in with him. He wanted to start an artist’s colony, with Gauguin as the master. His wish was granted and Gauguin moved into the yellow house with him. It wasn’t what Vincent dreamed it would be. Gauguin couldn’t stand how messy Vincent was. Everything was a mess. The house, Vincent, and Vincent’s art supplies. I will say to Vincent’s credit, any time he came home from a night of whoring and had too much absinthe and he puked on his bedroom floor, there isn’t any record that he didn’t clean all that up.

Gauguin was kind of prick though. He berated Vincent for his lack of technique and using emotion in his paintings. Their time together was not easy. Even though Gauguin thought that he was the superior painter and let everybody know it, he would write a book where he talked at length about how he helped Vincent, it just wasn’t true. When they separated Gauguin’s style changed. Vincent’s didn’t. Vincent clearly influenced Gauguin more.

There disagreements were awkward. Vincent would get angry and stop talking for long stretches of time. Gauguin would wake up in the middle of the night and find Vincent standing over him. Then Vincent would just go back to bed.

The relationship boiled over. Gauguin walked out on Vincent after a heated debate during supper. Gauguin was walking down the streets of Arles when Vincent came up behind him with a blade. Gauguin struck a defensive posture. Vincent ran off into the night.

Vincent then cut off his ear and took it to the 15 year old prostitute that he and Gauguin favored, Rachel.

Vincent decided to commit himself to a mental asylum in Saint Remey. Vincent spent about a year in the asylum. When he got out he went to visit Theo. Theo had married a woman by the name of Jo. She would become very important to Vincent’s legacy. She had a baby and they named the child after Vincent.

Vincent struck up a relationship with Jo through writing. When he got out of the asylum he went to Paris to see his namesake and meet Jo in person and see Theo. Didn’t turn out to be so happy though. Theo was suffering from syphilis. Theo liked to go whoring as well. Theo never passed syphilis on to Jo though. Something about having it for more than two years. Theo was in bad health and was recently demoted, perhaps for always pushing his brother’s art on people. The syphilis was also working on his brain to some degree and Theo was physically abusive to Jo. Plus little Vincent wasn’t in good health either.

Theo didn’t really have the money to keep supporting Vincent. This lead to a huge fight with Jo, but in the end they never cut Vincent’s stipend.

I should point out that ever since Vincent was in the asylum he had swore off prostitutes and booze. This was a big change for Vincent because he really thought that the absinthe and the prostitutes really helped him with his art. Probably didn’t though. It was during this time that he did some of his most famous works, such as “Starry Night”.

Vincent left Paris for Auvers. Vincent badly wanted Theo to move his family to Auvers with him because he thought it was the bad Paris air that was keeping them all sick.

In Auvers Vincent was under the care of a Dr. Gachet. This quack considered himself to be somewhat of an artist. He was also very fond of artists. It seemed like an ideal situation, but it was Gachet that may have finally drove Vincent to kill himself. I believe that Vincent had one last chance at happiness. Gachet had a daughter named Marguerite. She was smitten with Vincent. Vincent thought she was pretty swell as well. Vincent would paint pictures of her where she was dressed like a bride.

Gachet would have none of it though. He put the smackdown on the relationship. Which was sad because Marguerite would live to be 70 something and would never marry. I don’t know if she had a happy life, but I feel like her old man put the smackdown on any chance she had at happiness as well.

Vincent wrote to Theo that they couldn’t trust Gachet any longer because “When the blind lead the blind, they end up in the ditch”.

Vincent wandered out into a field and fired a bullet into his chest. This is somewhat controversial because nobody knows where Vincent got the gun. Nobody ever found the gun. What is known for sure is that Vincent didn’t die right away. He got up and went back to his room where he suffered for two days before passing.

Theo came to his bedside and waiting with him until he died. His last words were ‘I wish it were all over now’.

At his funeral, Gachet eulogized him by saying: ‘He was an honest man and a great artist, and there were only two things important to him: humanity and art.’

Something else that is up to debate is whether or not this was a suicide. Vincent had a history of harming himself physically when he faced rejection. It is possible that Vincent was just trying to transfer his emotional pain to physical pain. He shot himself in the stomach. Even for 19th century medicine, this wasn’t a guaranteed death. It is possible he was shooting for his heart, hoping to break it one last time.

I don’t know his motivation, but within 6 months Theo died as well. He was buried next to Vincent. This left Jo with a baby, no income, and a huge collection of Vincent’s art that was pretty much worthless.

I think this is fascinating. Jo had a brother Andre. He looked at Vincent’s art and told her that it was worthless and she should just burn it. How close was the world to losing such beauty. Jo was smarter than Andre. She offered Vincent’s art to his living relatives, but they all said they didn’t want any of it. She didn’t quit though. She moved to Amsterdam and opened a boardinghouse to support herself. In her spare time she organized exhibitions of Vincent’s work. This time he caught on. Within 10 years the name Van Gogh and artistic genius were synonymous.

Oh yeah, when Vincent died, Gauguin was in Tahiti. He wrote a letter that said, ‘In these circumstances, I don’t want to write the usual phrases of condolence – you know that he was a sincere friend; and that he was an artist, a rare thing in our epoch. You will continue to see him in his works. As Vincent used to often say – Stone will perish, the word will remain. As for me, I shall see him with my eyes and with my heart in his works.’

Maybe Gauguin wasn’t such a bad guy after all. Could anybody that wrote such beautiful words be that bad.”

Chapter 2 Addendum

I have received several request for more information on the “I towed the store manager at Duff’s car” story. I am posting a copy of an e-mail that I sent to Jay about it. Jay already knows all about Dasher Mismanagement, but in case you don’t I’ll fill you in with some information to make it easier for you to understand.

Nancy was the store manager at Duff. She was all show and no substance. She had no clue how to run food cost, so she used to figure out all of the food she was missing at the end of every month and transfer it to my store. I never knew this and I never understood why my food cost numbers were always different than what I had calculated.

The F.O.R. stands for Full Operations Review. This is when corporate comes down from Minnesota and reviews your store on quality, cleanliness and service.

We were not a corporate store. We were a franchise store. Therefore we had an owner. The owner was setting up the company to be taken over by his son-in-law Ty. Ty was the Director of Operations and my boss. What you need to know about Ty is that he was a nice guy, but completely incompetent. How incompetent? Think about the most incompetent person you’ve ever had to work with. Add 10% more incompetence.

That should do you, here is my letter to Jay:

Yes it was Nancy. I didn’t know she was screwing with my reports at that time. In fact, I didn’t even know we had towed her car until the next day. At Campus the parking lot used to fill up on bar nights, but we wouldn’t have a single customer in the store. Even if a customer wanted to come into the store they couldn’t. All the lots were full. When this would happen I would call our towing service. I can’t remember their name at this time and they were very excited. This was a gold rush to them. I would have them tow every single car in the parking lot.

The great thing about this for them was, while they were towing cars, more cars would come in. Then they would get to tow that car. Here is a life lesson for you. If you drive an SUV or a van, don’t push your luck parking illegally. They always towed these cars first because they could charge them double.

One Sunday morning Nancy called the store. Cory Ungs answered the phone. She wanted to know where her car had been towed. So he told her. Then he told me, I thought it was hilarious. She had parked in our lot on the previous night to go to the bar. When she came back, her van was gone. It would not have been towed if she had merely came inside and told us that she was going to park there. If people asked to park there or were employees or friends of employees we let them park there. If we didn’t know who you were, you got towed.

Campus was more or less a warehouse for other stores. We weren’t very busy and we knew how to order truck. Whenever other stores ran out (unless they were in the Janelle – BooneWest Dyad) of anything, they always called us first. Not many store managers work on Sundays. So frequently half my Monday morning consisted of answering the phone and looking to see if we had enough product to spare for other stores.

It was very important that you actually entered all of these transfers in to the computer. Another trick some stores employed at that time to reduce food cost was to hope that you never did a “transfer out”. They would then not do a “transfer in” on their end. Then if you forgot to do the “transfer out”, they just got all that food for free. I did know that some stores did this, so I was very anal about nothing leaving the store without a signed transfer slip.

Duff, despite being the “super” store with the “super store manager” was our biggest customer. If it was a game weekend, I frequently had my truck ordering people order even more than we would need, because I knew that Duff would be calling us on Sunday or Monday looking for product. Duff was getting so much hot air blown up their bums about how “super” they were that they were completely out of touch with what their strengths and their weaknesses were.

One time when we had a couple of bad truck orders in a row because we were training a new person on truck order they displayed their ignorance and their arrogance. I had Cory call over there and see if we could borrow some product. Nancy had the gall to say, “You guys need to learn how to order truck. I can come over there and teach you if you want.”

The Monday after Nancy’s van had been towed, she came into the store to borrow some product. I saw her and said, “Sorry we towed your car this weekend.”

“It is no problem. I shouldn’t have parked here.”

“If you want to park here, that is no problem. You just need to tell the manager and you won’t get towed.”

To me I figured this was the end of the situation. I had forgotten that Nancy was extremely two-faced.

I forgot about the situation until our F.O.R. that was later that month. While Ty and I were outside taking D-T times, we were looking at a car on the lot.

He said, “I hear you towed Nancy’s car.”

This was before they completely hated me. All I really knew was that they weren’t interested in new ideas and they really, really wanted to close my store. I thought he was remarking on how funny it was. I had forgotten that even though I technically was the exact same rank as Nancy in the organization, even that ranking had tiers and I was clearly a tier below Nancy. Not because of skill. She was just his pet. Possibly because she was the best brown nose I have ever seen, ever. I have never seen anybody that could smooch butt like her. She was an artist.

I began to laugh.

I said, “Well, she shouldn’t have parked here and went to the bar.”

“Why did you tow her car?” He said soberly.

“I didn’t tow her car. I towed every car in the parking lot. Hers happened to be one of the ones that were parked here in clear contradiction of our signs.”

“Why are you towing cars?”

This was a strange question, because it was only a couple months ago that we switched towing companies and he made a big effort to make sure I had that information.

“Because, when the lot is completely full and you have no customers in the store, the people in your lot aren’t your customers.”


“The problem is that these people that are parking in your lot are preventing actual customers from coming into the store because they have no place to park.”


“If you are losing customers because they can’t park in your lot, soon enough they won’t even come back because they know that parking is a problem at that store.”


“It is not the type of reputation I want the store to have. I would rather get the word out that our parking lot is for our customers and not for the bars around here. So I tow cars to send that message. Soon enough, I expect I won’t need to tow cars any longer.”

“I don’t want you towing cars.”


“I don’t care if people park in the lot.”

“Even if they prevent customers from coming to our store?”


The big freeze started to get a little bit colder.

Minutia – Chapter 6: An Adequate Birthday

Chapter 6: An Adequate Birthday

I woke up on a Friday morning. It had been 32 years since I was born. If I know the story correctly, my parents had to leave the Hillbilly Auction for my birth. That sentence didn’t sound correct. Let me try again. If I know the tale, my Ma and Pa had to leave the Hillbilly Auction for my birthin’.

Perhaps it is tales like this that prompted my cousin Allan to once give my kin (sisters) the backhanded compliment that he was impressed with how well we turned out considering the White Trash we came from. I’ve always considered this to be a bold and clueless statement considering that we are related by blood. If I came from White Trash, he came from the same white trash bin. Believe me, I don’t want to compare sides of the family, but he comes from the side of my family that is considerably less sophisticated.

I had realized long ago that family is family and it doesn’t matter so much where you came from as where you are going. But where you came from always remains part of who you are. I embrace that fact.

Yet, where I was 32 years ago on this day mattered little for where I was going on this day. I got out of bed, showered, and went to work.

The drive for me to work is almost always the same. On this day though I was going to add the complication of trying to change my voice mail message. This really goes against my core belief that people shouldn’t talk on the cell phone while they are driving, but I really didn’t want to be bothered with a ton of phone calls wishing me a happy birthday. It was my birthday, but I didn’t want that to control my entire day. I was going to change my voicemail to say something to the effect that I “wasn’t taking calls on this day, but if you leave a message I’ll return your call tomorrow.”

It turned out that I pushed a wrong button along the way and changed my message to that message that just tells people what number they have just dialed. Then the battery on my phone died. I considered this to be good enough.

Work was more or less uneventful. More than half of our employees were in Seattle for the big convention. To placate (the people who care that they weren’t in Seattle, which doesn’t include me) the people left behind, the Company grilled out. This meant some kind of pork. It was tasty and prevented me from having to leave to find food.

The only other eventful thing to happen during the workday was a call from Jesse. Apparently he wasn’t to be denied. He actually called my work phone. This is a good thing, because if you take out him calling my work phone, it has rang on only a handful of other occasions. If it wasn’t for Jesse, my phone could break and I would never know it.

When he called I was not at my desk. I was talking to a co-worker about 70s science fiction movies. The Shipping Manager approached me and said, “I have Jesse parked in 4.”

“I don’t know what to do about that.”

She explained what to do and I was successful. I had Jesse on the line.

“You not answering your phone?” It was both an accusation and a question at the same time.

“The battery is dead.” It didn’t dawn on me that he was talking about my work phone because nobody ever calls it.

“I mean your work phone.”

“It hasn’t rang all day.”

“I just called you.”

“I didn’t hear it ring, but I was over talking to Co-Worker X about ‘Zardoz’.”

“Well, I just wanted to talk to you on your birthday.”


“You got anything big planned?”

“Just going over to Colleen’s for supper.” I had enough of this birthday talk. I changed the subject. “How is Seattle?”

“It is awesome. It is the greatest and cleanest big city ever.”

“Are you going to do anything cool?” This was a legitimate question. I’m always disappointed when I here stories about people that travel to exotic and interesting locales and all they can tell me when they got back was how drunk they got. I’ve never been much of a drinker, which people tell me clouds my judgment on such issues, but I’ve never been to Seattle or Hawaii or Los Angeles. I wouldn’t want to go some place that has so much to offer and only come back with a basket full of “I got so wasted” memories. I can make those memories in Boone for a quarter of the price.

The other side of this question was because I worry about Jesse. Our big convention is just like every other convention. It involves lots of drinking. Jesse is not supposed to mix alcohol with his medication. This is exacerbated by his well documented lightweight status. It only takes a few drinks to get him going, but there are theories that it isn’t possible for human to get drunk on as little alcohol as it takes to get him loopy.

A friend of ours by the name of Corey is a leader in the field of alcohol research. He is a man that is so passionate about the field that he has even suffered broken bones in the pursuit of new knowledge. He has purported the theory that none of us have ever actually seen Jesse drunk. We have only seen him pretend to be drunk.

That might be the case, but I do know that despite his doctors warning and being surrounded by alleged friends at the convention in Las Vegas last year, he had too much to drink. As I have stated, due to his medication, too much to drink is anything to drink.

I say this because while a few of them were walking down a Las Vegas sidewalk, Jesse decided to drop trou and have a whiz. This actually is not a completely rare sight. It is not uncommon for a group of men out and about to stop short and take care of business out in public. Men don’t even have to be drunk to engage in such an activity.

You don’t have to be drunk to take a leak facing a building. You have to be drunk to do it facing the street. I was hoping not to hear a repeat of the Las Vegas story come back from Seattle.

“We are going on an underground city tour and we are going to a Mariners game.”

I was jealous of these two activities. The Mariners were playing the Padres on this evening. The Padres have been my favorite team for over twenty years now. I have never seen them play. In fact I have never seen a real baseball game. I have been to the Metrodome and to Kauffman Stadium on numerous occasions, but that doesn’t count as real baseball. They use the Designated Hitter. Then I reminded myself that an interleague game at an American League stadium did not qualify as real baseball either. They would be using the great abomination as well. Still, I would like to see the Padres play some time, even if it is under such conditions.

The underground tour would be fascinating as well. If I ever do make it to Seattle, it is the one thing I would have to do. Seattle has a fascinating history in this respect. I’m a sucker for almost all kinds of history.

“Chris Young is pitching tonight. You’ll have to watch his control early in the game. If he throws strikes early in the game he will dominate. If he his is going deep in the count in the early innings, he will have a short night. There is no middle ground for him. He either has control or he doesn’t.”

“I’ll have to watch for that.”

“The underground tour, that would be the number one thing that I would want to see if I went to Seattle.”

“Why is that?”

“Seattle has a unique history and their underground is unlike any other in the world. Their city started to sink, so they just changed what was considered ground level and what was ground level is still there, but now it is underground.”

“That does sound pretty cool.”

“It sounds fascinating. You’ll have to let me know how it was.”

“I’ll let you get back to work.”


I left work at about 6 pm. I was supposed to be at Colleen’s for supper around 7 pm. We were having a giant birthday supper for all of the May birthdays. Rebecca, Nate, Colleen, and I all had the great pleasure of being born in May. Nate and Bethany were coming back from Minnesota for Rebecca’s graduation and this was really the only time that we would all be available to sup together.

It was my birthday, but it was really just like any other day. There were times in the past when I would take my birthday off and do whatever I wanted. I would make my birthday my own 24 hours of hedonism. I would only do the things that I enjoyed. I would even have grand birthday bashes where I would send out birthday invitations that glorified me. Those days were behind me now. I was perfectly content to let my birthday pass by just like it was any other day on the calendar. I didn’t want or need birthday presents. Today was an adequate birthday. It was a day like any other. That was all I wanted.

(Secretly though I did covet a couple of birthday presents and I have gotten one of those presents and I have an IOU for the other.) I have found though that whether or not you want presents or not, people some times insist on giving them to you. Which is alright, I guess.

I arrived at Colleen’s at about 7:15. She greeted me at the door. Rebecca and Kirk were there, but Bethany and Nate were not there. For the tenth straight time that I have been to Colleen’s, Kirk was watching some form of auto racing. It seemed like a waste of such a nice television.

“Where are Nate and Bethany?” I asked. It had been a while since I had seen either of them. I don’t think I had seen Bethany since we went to the Sculpture Garden and I don’t think I had seen Nate since the Jordis Unga concert.

“They are still on the road.” Colleen answered. “Apparently they had to stop somewhere because Bethany wanted to buy a camera.”

I took a seat and waited. I looked at the television. There were trucks driving around in a circle. I don’t know much about racing, but I hope this wasn’t the big race of the week for truck racers. There must have been maybe 100-200 people in the stands. I did not make any comments deriding auto racing though. I have quietly come to accept the fact that auto racing has invaded all of my families on some levels. Although I have accepted the fact with a defeated dignity, I figured that I would take a few jabs at the “sport” when Nate was present. He had the ability to do it in a good natured way where feelings were only bruised and not injured. If I started in with Rebecca as my backup, things might get personal.

So I turned to Rebecca. “Are your hands clean?”


“I got that book that is going into Kelly’s Salon, if you would like to check it out.”


I handed the box in the book with it over to her.

“Good news,” I said, “Your picture came yesterday, so I just need to get it matted and then it will be ready for Sunday. Are you going to be around tomorrow?”

“I will be in the morning. I’m going to a Slaughterhouse 6 show at Vaudeville Mews tomorrow night and I have some graduation parties to go to.”

“What time are you getting up in the morning?”

“Pretty early. Probably about 9.”

I knew that meant 11.

“Did you like that Van Gogh book that I got you?”

“Yeah. It is pretty neat. I think it will come in real useful when I go to college.”

“I hope it does.”

It was then that the door opened and Nate walked in with Bethany. Nate looked at the television and saw that racing was on the television. Nate had been admiring the television for quite some time. He held his tongue, but the look on his face clearly indicated that he thought that this was a waste of a perfectly good television.

Bethany looked at me and said, “Hey Chris!”

Whenever Bethany is going to ask me for a favor or for my help she always starts the request with these two words and an identical inflection. This is the type of inflection that makes the two word “hey” and “Chris” a question more than a declarative statement.

I already knew that a request was about to be made and I already knew that the request was going to be granted. What I didn’t know was what the request was going to be.

“Yes Bethany.”

“What are you doing tomorrow?”

“I don’t have anything scheduled per se.” I still didn’t have much information. “Except that I’m going to be delivering Rebecca’s picture signature board thing.”

“Can you help me buy a camera?”

Wow! This was something I was actually, sort of qualified to do. In fact, people had sought my advice about buying a camera quite frequently lately. Only every single time I had given my advice and backed it up with reasons, the advisees had bought something completely different.

“Yeah, I can do that. I’m actually pretty excited about it. Perhaps you might listen to my advice.” I said and thought “rather than completely wasting my time”. Why don’t people listen to me? They come to me for a reason, but then they just wander off into the wilderness. Fools and knaves! All of them!

I stroked my goatee knowingly and then I asked, “What time were you thinking?”

Bethany sat there for a second.

Nate chimed in, “Why don’t you ask her what time she is going to get up.” Brothers are always there to help.

I acted on Nate’s advice, “What time are you going to get up?”

“I can get up and be ready by noon.”

“Then we’ll go at noon.”

Racing trucks roared in the background.

Moments later we were sitting around the kitchen table eating supper. Colleen had fixed a wondrous spread. It included turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and asparagus. There were also various salads but I’m not going to try to describe them. I’m sure they were varying forms of pasta salad, but that is all I can say about them for sure, besides that they were delicious. This is a gap in my schooling that I have looked to close in recent weeks. I have yet to be successful.

After dinner I sat down in the chair where I couldn’t get a clear look at the screen. Trucks were still driving around in a circle. It boggles my mind that at this point they had been doing this for over 2 hours.

Nate, Bethany, and Rebecca all sat down around the television. We were all miserable from eating too much food. It was a good kind of miserable though.

In the kitchen Colleen and Kirk did the dishes and cut up the birthday cake. Even though it seemed that I couldn’t eat any more food, I managed to eat a piece of cake. It was a good cake, but it wasn’t the caliber of cake made by Nate. I think I would have added a third thing to my secret birthday list, but in retrospect what Nate did give me was almost as good as a Nate cake. Besides, he certainly didn’t have the time to make a cake while he was down this weekend. Nate makes such good cakes. Perhaps if he asks me for a birthday list next year, I’ll just point to my belly and tell him to make if full and happy. Happy with cake.

Even though I did not desire anything, I was given a couple of birthday presents afterwards. It not being just my birthday, I was not the only one. Rebecca had brought bag purses for Bethany and Colleen from the Senior Trip to New York City. One was a “Prada” and the other was a “Coach”. I received a pretty sweet stocking cap that says New York City on it. It makes me look even tougher than I normally do. When I wear it I will no doubt scare small children.

From Colleen and Kirk I got a copy of the first season of “The Office”. Always an excellent choice.

Shortly after the cake had been eaten, Sara H. showed. Sara had just graduated from college. She told me how she was going to work for Habitat for Humanity for a year in North Carolina to be near her boyfriend who goes to Davidson.

The thought crossed my mind about her working on a construction crew. It might be possible that her mastery over profanity could be taken to the next level. Habitat might be a non-profit organization, but I refuse to believe that anybody can frame a house and put up dry wall with out the occasional f bomb flying out of their mouth. Well, perhaps the Amish.

She ruined this dream. She is going to be doing office work. How boring.

After a few more minutes of polite conversation, Bethany and Sara H. left for a bar in the west end of town.

A little after they left, Colleen and Kirk left for the bar. That left the television remote unguarded and up for grabs. Rebecca and Nate both made a move for the remote, but Rebecca is younger and was quicker.

She turned the television to TBS and just like that truck racing was replaced by “Sex and the City”. Nate grumbled at this development.

“This is only marginally better than watching auto racing.” Nate declared.

I moved to the couch so that I could actually see the television screen. Nate grumbled some more. Then he watched in silence for about five minutes.

“Well, I’ve seen all of this I can take.” Then Nate got up off the couch and left to go to the bar.

This left just me and Rebecca. Watching “Sex and the City” reruns on a Friday night.

“Do you hate ‘Sex and the City’?” Rebecca asked.

“I’ve been more or less conditioned to watch this show.”

Then we more or less sat in silence watching the remainder of the episode where one character hooked up with the guy from “Office Space”, one character decided that she really did love her baby’s father, one character realized her relationship could only go so far because her boyfriend was Jewish, and I can’t remember the problems of the fourth character. The show ended and we watched another episode. Same problems.

“Sex and the City” was followed by an episode of “Scrubs”. About half way through this show I got up and said, “Well, I better call it a night. I have to get up early tomorrow to do some matting.”

Rebecca wished me a good night. As I walked down the stairs, through the door, and out to my car I had one thought cross my mind:

“This was a perfectly adequate birthday and there was nothing wrong with that.”

Bennett's Run
Former Birthday Party Invitation – Parody of “Logan’s Run”

Present from Rebecca – Photo by Corey Schmidt

One of my “secret birthday wishes” – Stained Glass Made by Jen

Letters from Spain

E-Mails that Willy has sent from Spain:

Letter #1:

I don’t mean to give you a heart attack, but yes I am sending an email. Just to show you how ignorant I am on emailing, I couldn’t figure out how to send this to more than one person. I hearby authorize you to send this email to others.

Today was the first day of my hike after 4 days in Madrid. The scenery here reminds me of the West Highland Way. The mountains are not very high, but the feel is the same. It’s as though you are nestled in a valley most of the time you are hiking. There is a feeling of community even though I have only been on the trail for one day. I MET A GROUP OF PEOPLE FROM SOUTH AFRICA YESTERDAY AS THEY ARRIVED FROM ST. JEAN IN FRANCE. I walked up with them today along the trail as we hiked from roncevalles, where we started this morning, to our end point for the day in Zubiri.

Please forgive the caps lock, as I couldn’t figure out how to shut it off on this dam Spanish keyboard. The message would have been longer but the Spanish chick at the hostel was mumbling something about shutting down the computer( I think)

Letter #2:

I was going to figure out the multiple address thing,but, that would make sense, and is therefore not the Mcalpine way. I talked to Jay today, and he is going to post a blog of my travel tales.




Letter #3:

It is hard to think about leaving the trail tommorrow. I was thinking about skipping ahead to do the last 100 kilometers to Santiago, which entitles you to a pilgrimage certificate, but you get a little depressed, thinking about the friends you have made so far; and you don’t want to leave them behind. That’s the great thing about being on the trail, you know that you will meet new people every day. There are an incredible number of people that are walking the entire 500 miles of the trail to Santiago, and you kind of feel unworthy of skipping ahead to see Santiago.

Tonight there was a group of 8 that got together and made dinner. There was 3 Americans, 2 New Zealanders, 1 Australian, 1 english woman, and 1German girl. It’s almost unfair the variety of people and cultures you encounter along the trail. There is no way to have this kind of interaction in your ordinary life.

I think this might be an apropriate place to end my hike tommorrow, in Logrono. I think I will head to southern Spain and spend some time on the beach, as well as head to Seville; and possibly still Morrocco.

The hardest thing about travelling is having to pick and choose where you go. You can’t see and do everything, and knowing that, you want the experience to be as broad an experience as possible.

Mintuia – Chapter 5: HobbyLobbyphobia

Chapter 5: HobbyLobbyphobia

I’m not used to having an agenda when I’m dining with my friends. I like to keep things loose. Not on this day though. I was having lunch with Monica and I had an agenda. Monica is my matting expert. We were meeting to discuss the plans for Rebecca’s graduation “present”.

Rebecca is somebody that does not like to have her picture taken. It is not a family trait, but Nate also is afflicted by this condition. This is Rebecca’s senior year. When she needed somebody to take her Senior Pictures she asked me. I agreed to take her pictures, but I had to tell her I am not a portrait photographer. We may have to attempt this on a few different occasions due to my lack of skill. She accepted this deal because she was more comfortable with me taking her picture rather than a stranger.

It turned out that there was enough useful material from one photo shoot for her to pick a few different pictures out for gifts and to use as wallet sized pictures to hand out to her friends. What I wanted to do was make a giant picture out of one of those pictures. Then mat the picture with a black mat board. Then place everything in a silver frame. Then have people at her graduation party sign the mat board with a silver sharpie.

I had run this idea by Rebecca a few weeks ago and she thought the idea was fair to excellent. I told her I didn’t really know what she would be able to do with this picture after her graduation party.

She thought for a second and then said, “Maybe I’ll get into having really big pictures of myself.”

We picked out a suitable black and white photo and I thought about ordering it. I didn’t order it though. I waited.

At the same time I was also working on putting together a “photo book” for Kelly’s Salon. I also needed to order 20 5×7 pictures for June and Dean to give out to celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

I normally order all of my enlargements from Adorama. They are a company that is based out of New York City and they do an incredible job. They are fast on the turnaround and even with paying shipping I always save a tidy sum thanks to their low prices.

However, Adorama does not have very much to offer when it comes to gimmicky photo gifts, like a photo book. Instead, I decided to design and order my photo book through Sony Image Station. I figured that I might as well order everything through them. I knew this was a risk because I didn’t have any history with them. So I ordered everything a couple of weeks in advance and hoped that they would come through.

By the end of the first week, my photo book had arrived. The photos did not. It was now the Wednesday before Rebecca’s graduation. The photos still hadn’t arrived.

Monica met me at work for lunch. She gave me total control over where we ate because she said that she was “tired of making decisions”. This was fine with me, I hated the awkward moments of negotiating an eating place that we both didn’t hate, but that usually meant that neither of us loved it either.

I was having a hankering for the club sandwich from the West Street Deli. While my search for the best tenderloin in the state continues, my search for the world’s best club sandwich was completed earlier this year when I took my first bite into the pure goodness that is the West Street Deli club.

There is just one problem with the West Street Deli. There is never any parking. At least not during the day. So I brewed up a back up plan. If there was no parking at the West Street Deli, we would go to Chinese Homestyle Cooking, home of the 2nd best crab rangoons in existence and the best restaurant owners in existence.

There wasn’t a parking spot to be had anywhere near the West Street Deli, so I drove the two blocks to Chinese Homestyle Cooking. It was a compromise that I was willing to make because in the back of my mind I knew that I was going to get that club sandwich eventually.

As I turned into the small parking lot that is shared by Flying Burrito, CHC and some gas station, I realized that there wasn’t a parking spot to be had. I drove across the street and parked in the Taco Bell parking lot.

We got out of the car and I stared at a sign that said, “Taco Bell Customer Parking Only”. I thought about the time when I was running Campus and the store manager at Duff parked in our parking lot to go to a nearby bar. I had her car towed. When I think back at all the time I wasted with that organization that might be the best thing I ever did.

The Store Manager at Duff was the Owner and the Son-in-Law’s favorite, so they were pretty angry when they found out what I had done. It was still worth it. They hated me either way. It was better that they hated me for a reason.

They told me that I wasn’t allowed to tow cars any longer. Like everything else they told me, I ignored it. I continued to tow cars. It was my public service. I was keeping drunks from being behind the wheel. Plus, you can’t beat the entertainment of somebody coming in on Saturday or Sunday morning after they have sobered up and asking if I might tell them where they could find their car. It was the only thing that made working on weekends worthwhile to me.

I hoped karma wouldn’t come back and get me as we crossed the street. I hoped that my car was still there when we crossed this street again.

Once inside CHC I ordered pepper beef and an order of crab rangoons. Monica ordered mongolian beef. We sat down and waited for our food.

As we waited Monica began telling me some of the burdens of management. Although Monica loves her job it reminded me that I don’t really miss management. I don’t really miss “responsibility”. I have responsibility in my job, but at the end of the day I’m only responsible for myself. I don’t miss being responsible for other people. I don’t miss it at all. Every day when I leave my job, I don’t think about it again until the next time I show up for work. In actuality, so much of my job is clicking and waiting and busy work, I can go large chunks of my workday without thinking about my job. This is a tremendous luxury.

I listened to her stresses and gave her what comforting words I could muster, but I was really still thinking, I’m glad I’m not responsible for “Co-Worker X”. Explaining that person’s actions to my superior would sure be a painful process.

It was then that the food came. Monica asked the foolish question of whether or not she could have one of the crab rangoons.

“No, but you must have two.”

She laughed at this display of wit. Or it was the uneasy laughter of somebody who was just relieved that they weren’t going to have to watch me eat all four of these fantastic appetizers.

After she ate one she did agree with me that only the crab rangoons at New China in Boone are superior. Then we had an awkward interaction where we agreed that the flat rangoon is superior to the bunched up rangoon. Although we decided we knew what we were trying to say, we really weren’t very good at describing the physical appearance of the two known types of rangoons.

Monica then began picking at the white flaky things that were in her food.

“What are these?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’m not crazy about them.” She said and then began about the serious business of picking them all out of her meal.

I wondered how she could not enjoy every single aspect of CHC. I wondered what Mike (the man that turned me onto CHC) would think if he saw her do such a thing. I averted my eyes. I pretended I didn’t see what was going on. I concentrated on my plate of pepper beef and its inherent goodness. I hoped to just get out of here without any attention being drawn to what was going down on her side of the booth.

I decided to calm my nerves. I would just start the agenda.

“This is what I got planned. The picture is black and white. The picture is 20×30. The mat will be black. The frame will be 24×36. The frame will be silver. People will write on the mat with a silver sharpie. How do you think that will look?”

“I think that will look awesome.”

I knew Monica would like it. From the style of her paintings I know that she preferred a dark palette. I knew from experience that she hates pastels. HATES PASTELS!! Even though I always tried to convince her that it was silly to hate pastels because every color has its purpose, she has yet to admit to the validity of my point. She still hates pastels.

“Do you think this is something that we can pull off?”

“The picture is 20×30?”


“The mat board will by 24×36?”


“You need this done by when?”

“Graduation is Sunday, but I don’t know when I would be able to work on this because the picture has not arrived yet.”

“You want me to cut this?”

“I didn’t buy a mat board cutter for you not to cut mat boards for me.” This statement wasn’t actually true, I was hoping I would become skilled in the art of mat cutting and not need to rely so heavily on Monica or the area craft stores.

Monica thought for a second and said, “I have a better idea. How about I go pick out a mat board and we’ll have Hobby Lobby cut it for us.”

I was about to agree to this suggestion, with one caveat, but then the wife of the husband-wife team that owns CHC stopped by our table.

“How is everything?” She asked.

“Excellent.” I said.

Then she looked down at Monica’s plate. We were busted. Although I had no implicit guilt in the crime that had been committed, I felt like I was certainly an accessory to the crime.

“You don’t like the rice noodles?” She asked Monica.

“No not really, they’re kind of weird.”

This caused the Wife of the husband wife team launched into a long diatribe about how the rice noodles were made. She went into great detail about how when you started cooking them they were very small and they rapidly expanded while they were being cooked.

She was very passionate about the food. I felt bad that Monica didn’t like the rice noodles. Monica assured her that she loved everything but the rice noodles. The rice noodles were just too weird.

The Wife accepted this answer and gave Monica some suggestion about things she could order next time she came. Menu items that didn’t have weird stuff in it. Then she moved on to the next table.

“Where were we?” I started up the conversation again.

“I think this is a really big mat to cut. It would be really expensive to make a mistake on it. So I think we should take the mat to Hobby Lobby and have them cut it.”

“I can agree to that. Except I have one caveat.”

“And that is?”

“That you go to Hobby Lobby and do all of the talking.”

“Why is that?”

“I don’t like Hobby Lobby employees.”


“I don’t like Hobby Lobby employees.” I reiterated.

“Why not?”

“They aren’t interested in helping you and they are mean.”

Monica wanted me to provide examples and so I told her stories about one Hobby Lobby employee yelling at another Hobby Lobby employee just because the first Hobby Lobby employee was actually assisting Jesse. It got so heated that the manager had to step in and he sided with the second employee. When Jesse asked if he could get some help from any Hobby Lobby employee, the manager told him, “No. This department closes in half an hour and we have lots of work to do.”

I was not interested in experiencing this situation on my own. In my own experience I had found Hobby Lobby employees not interested in being helpful and not knowledgeable about nearly anything.

In addition to those facts, it seems that Hobby Lobby hates men. That would seem to be a facetious statement about a store that is clearly aimed towards women, but if you ever look at the types of things that they stock that are male specific you will see that they think that men are Neanderthals. Everything is the ugliest fishing, sports, or golf memorabilia. It is all hideous.

The men’s restroom is filled with terribly ugly golf course pictures. Everything is just so ugly.

When I do go to Hobby Lobby I try to get my stuff and get out as quickly as possible. This never turns out well for me because no matter how busy Hobby Lobby seems to be, they refuse to open up a second register and I always get in line behind the lady that is buying 100 glass objects that the cashier has to individually wrap.

Monica soaked in my points and agreed that after I dropped her off at her car she would go to Hobby Lobby and try to negotiate the mat board that I needed out of those people.

We finished up our meal and walked back across the street to Taco Bell. My car was still there. I had won this round.

About one hour after I dropped Monica off at her car, she returned with my mat board. It was cut perfectly. It was exactly what I wanted. It was a thing of beauty.

“How much do I owe you?”

“It was fourteen dollars.”

“I don’t carry cash; can I bring you money to your work tomorrow night?”

“That works.”

The Monica turned and was gone. Now all I needed was for the picture to show up.