Random musings on a writer's life & times, with occasional input from acquaintances


Saturday, October 04, 2003

It’s the return of Mr. Black & Blue, with his advice to the lifelorn!


DEAR MR. BLACK & BLUE: My husband and I visited his parents at their lake house on a recent Saturday afternoon. My mother-in-law, “Helen,” suggested I take a swim at their private beach, which I did. When I got out of the water, I was cold, so I slipped behind a tree, stripped off my wet bathing suit and wrapped myself in a dry towel. When I looked up, there was my father-in-law, “Randy,” watching me from the porch with binoculars!

I have had problems with Randy in the past. If I take a shower at his house, I have to make sure the door is locked or he will “accidentally” walk in on me. The same thing happens if I go into a bedroom to change clothes.

Randy seems like a nice enough fellow most of the time, but I can’t keep visiting my in-laws -- which my husband and I do twice a month or more -- with this going on.

Should I tell my husband and ask him to make his father stop peeping? Or should I talk to Helen? He is offending me, but he is betraying her.


DEAR APPALLED: You need to give this Randy dude a break. How old is he? How long has he been married to Helen? Does he get any at all? Maybe looking is his only kick these days. As long as he looks but doesn’t touch, what harm is done? Tell your husband if you want, so he and his dad can share a giggle. But if you rat him out to Helen, she’ll probably just get ticked off that you’re messing up what little fun he does have, causing him to come sniffing around her again, which is something she undoubtedly doesn’t want.


DEAR MR. BLACK & BLUE: “Jason” and I have been married for six years, but I’m facing a tough decision. He is a drug user. I didn’t know until recently, when money began disappearing from our joint bank account.

Jason admitted he has a habit. He doesn’t consider it a “problem,” though, and he said he has no intention of quitting. I told him I don’t want to be married to a drug addict.

I probably should leave, but I love him -- and we have four children who love him, too. Jason is a great husband and father, and rarely shows signs of drug abuse. Please help me decide what to do.


DEAR TORN: Sounds like your husband likes to get ripped. What’s wrong with that? Sheesh, you drop four brats on him in six years, the guy needs a little numbing of the mind when he comes home from work. Cut him some slack. Unless the drug, which you failed to identify by name, is Viagra. Then you got a definite problem, and maybe you oughta call the local office of Planned Parenthood and find a counselor to assist you with an intervention.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

The local newspaper this morning carried a story about the most disliked spectator sports in the United States, as identified by a survey of 1,020 adults conducted by an outfit called The Sports Marketing Group/Atlanta.

The top (or bottom, depending how you look at it) ten identified as disliked a lot or hated, with percentage of respondents citing each, were:

1. Dogfighting (81.4)
2. Pro Wrestling (55.7)
3. Bullfighting (46.2)
4. Pro Boxing (31.3)
5. Men’s pro golf (30.4)
6. Men’s seniors pro golf (29.9)
7. Women’s pro golf (29.2)
8. Stock-car racing (27.9)
9. Men’s pro soccer (27.6)
10. Men’s tennis (26.5)

My sportswriter pal Tommy (T-Model) Goodloe dropped by the house while I was reading the paper, so I showed him the story and asked his opinion.

“Dogfighting?” he said. “That’s a sport? A spectator sport? These Atlanta boys don’t have a lot going on for sports entertainment if they’re counting dogfight fans. I’m surprised they found enough people who’ve seen a staged dogfight to even have an opinion about one.”

“Well,” I said, “I thought the same thing about bullfighting, at least in this country. How many Americans have watched a bullfight? The poll folks must not have required people to have witnessed a sport in order to comment on it.”

“Yeah,” T-Model said, “I’d toss out the results on dogfighting and bullfighting. That would leave pro wrestling and pro boxing as the two least favorite big-time sports. I guess the public just doesn’t enjoy watching a couple guys beat the snot out of each other as much as they used to, even if it is faked and/or fixed.”

“Interesting that the next three spots on the list go to golf, which is the antithesis of wrestling and boxing,” I said. “Gentlemen and ladies in expensive clothes strolling around private clubs striking a tiny white ball in hushed silence. About as far as you can get from a couple of guys in Speedos slugging and gouging each other in a room full of cigar smoke while a crowd screams for blood.”

“The worst thing about golf is, you can’t see it,” Tommy observed. “I mean, you watch this clown swing his club and then the ball disappears and everybody scans the horizon like they’re searching for inbound guided missiles. Nobody knows what’s happened until the guy hikes hundreds of yards and finds his ball. Even with TV cameras, they can’t keep up with that tiny ball. You see people swinging and peering, but not much else.”

“The worst thing about stock car racing is you CAN see it all,” I told him. “A bunch of cars going around and around in a circle. My sister-in-law’s dog has brain damage that makes it run around and around in circles. That dog is as entertaining as stock-car racing.”

“Yeah, well, it's about as jazzy as men’s soccer,” said Tommy. “Ninety minutes of guys milling around kicking a ball. Does anybody ever win a soccer game by a score other than one to nothing? I mean, look at baseball. You get a one to nothing game every now and then and it’s interesting, a pitcher’s duel, an oddity. But if every baseball game ended one to nothing, who would want to watch? It’d be like watching paint dry.”

“Or like watching a couple hairy-legged guys in shorts play tennis. Why bother?” I said.

“Right,” agreed Tommy. “The hairy legs are key. You noticed, didn’t you, that women’s tennis and soccer aren’t on the most-disliked list? That’s because guys like me can get with the idea of watching your Anna Kournikovas and your Mia Hamms bounce around in skimpy skirts or shorts. Women can watch for the athletic competition, and guys can watch for the eye candy, so those sports dodge the bad list.”

“Maybe women’s pro golf ought to require players to wear skimpy skirts or shorts,” I suggested. “It might juice up the ratings.”

Tommy shook his head. “Wouldn’t work. Half of those female golf pros have a crush on Melissa Etheridge, and even the ones who don’t tend to be built like Ukrainian shotputters. Seeing those women in skimpy skirts would be scary. I’d rather watch a dogfight.”

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Here’s a poem of mine that first appeared in a litmag out of Louisiana called “Thema.” I wrote it after spending a week at a writing conference in Ashland, home of -- yes, I know it -- Southern Oregon State University. SOSU is just too clunky for poetry, so I used the name the school went by when my contemporaries and I were in college light years ago. I’m not a newspaperman any more, so I am allowed to fudge on things like names. Nyah, nyah!

College Cats

They roam the campus
at Southern Oregon College,
a pack of cats who act as if
they rule the school. Perhaps
they do. That gray tabby?
He's an English professor,
a specialist in Eliot, teaches
a grad course on "Old Possum's
Book of Practical Cats," disdains
Andrew Lloyd Webber, on occasion
segues into Yeats, speaks of
a cat alone, important and wise.
The beautiful Burmese
with the bright blue eyes, she
teaches geography. Published
a book on Katmandu, plans
a Spanish sabbatical for research
on Catalonia. This black cat
is a medical quack, operates
the campus clinic, gives evening
lectures on catalepsy and cataract.
The orange fellow with the white
stripes is an instructor in the film
department, hopes to win tenure
when he finishes his thesis
on "Cat Ballou: Movie as American
Myth." He's a great Jane Fonda
fan. Hates Kate Hepburn, though,
can't stand her shaky caterwaul.
That lean brown tom directs
public relations, answers questions
about campus catastrophes,
produces the college catalogue.
All kinds of cats on this campus,
stalking, spying, staring, tossing off
the random reference to Joyce's
tortured Catholicism. Good thing
a custodian feeds them from bowls
outside his Siskiyou Center door, or
they all might decamp to Kansas State,
become Wildcats, let SOC go to the dogs.

--By David Jordan

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

A friend has convinced me Writeright needs an advice column to maintain its position on the cutting edge of pop culture. I have agreed to let this man write periodic pieces that I will post. He has requested that his identity remain a secret, and that I refer to him only as “Mr. Black & Blue.” Here is his first effort:



Yes, I know Garrison Keillor used to write an on-line advice column called “Mr. Blue.” He took his title from some old song, though, and mine comes from a different (and better) source: my lifetime of hard knocks.

If anybody is black and blue emotionally, it’s me. And the pummeling I’ve taken in my personal life over the years has given me a unique and valuable perspective on human relationships. So . . . today I present the first installment of Mr. Black & Blue. Consider it advice to the lifelorn.

Hugs, Kisses, etc.,
Mr. B&B


DEAR MR. BLACK & BLUE: I am a 28-year-old woman who has been married for two years to “Glenn.” We have been happy most of the time, but Glenn has a tendency that is beginning to frighten me. He gets mad at inanimate objects, especially appliances that don’t work right. He yells and swears at them, and sometimes he attacks them physically. The other morning our electric can opener wouldn’t work when Glenn tried to open a can of coffee, so he swatted it onto the kitchen floor. If the lidded trash can fails to open when he steps on its pedal, he cusses and kicks the thing. He even punched a dent in the door of our clothes dryer after it scorched several pairs of his boxer shorts. Glenn is sweet to me, usually, but his hostility toward objects is scary. Do you think I should try to steer him toward professional help?


DEAR NONVIOLENT: Glenn doesn’t need help. His behavior is perfectly normal. Don’t you realize what a conspiracy us guys are facing with “inanimate” objects of the world? Especially appliances? These things are out to get us, and must be kept in their place. If we don’t discipline the occasional can opener or clothes dryer, humanity -- and this includes most of you females -- will be overrun in short order.

Your case brings to mind an event from my senior year in college. The electric space heater in my apartment attacked me repeatedly, burning various parts of my anatomy with its chrome grill. Finally, one cold afternoon as I was reading Aristotle with one eye while watching “Roger Ramjet” on TV with the other, it staged a sneak attack and branded the inside of my right forearm with what looked like a tic-tac-toe diagram. I kicked the heater across the room, yanked its plug from the wall and stomped it into submission. All that remained was a pile of wires and metal. The young lady who witnessed this incident expressed fear that I’d gone insane, and remained wary of me for years. HOWEVER -- I have not been attacked by a space heater since. Glenn and I rest our cases.

DEAR MR. BLACK & BLUE: For years, my best friend in life was my German shepherd dog, Adolf. He slept on the foot of my bed at night, fetched my newspaper in the morning, galloped happily about Laurelhurst Park every evening while I sat on a bench and relaxed. A month ago, sadly, someone spread poisoned hamburger about the park. Adolf ate some and died. Now I am a man alone.

Mr. B&B, how could anyone be so cruel? Don’t people realize that dog owners love their pets? I am so depressed, I have thought about ending it all.


DEAR GRIEVING: Dude, any man who shares his bed with a dog OUGHT to end it all. Consider substituting a woman. Or even another man. As to that newspaper -- how could you read the thing with dog slobber all over it? Too bad park vigilantes greased ol’ Adolf, but I understand their reasoning. You have leash laws in Portland, right? You ain’t supposed to sit on a bench and let your giant German shepherd chase joggers, terrorize toddlers and crap on the grass. That doesn’t amount to love of your pet, it amounts to callous disregard of your fellow man.

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