Friday, June 29, 2007

Headline of the day

From "Astronaut's attorney: She did NOT wear diapers"

Glad they set the record straight on THAT one...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Things I didn't know

From an article about the high rate of bodies being found in the Spokane River in the last year and a half (11 in 16 months): "Bodies normally resurface in seven to 10 days, Walker said. They typically float at the surface for 24 to 48 hours before sinking again."

I'll keep that in mind.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Fortunately I don't have any trips planned to amusement parks soon (although we've talked about going to Silverwood over in Idaho)...then again, I'm not a big fan of the free-fall ride anyway. But still...

Girl's feet severed on ride at Six Flags in Kentucky - "'The people on the ride just came and hit the ground,' she said. 'When I got up there, the lady she was just sitting there, and she didn't have no legs. ... And she was just there, calm, probably in shock from everything.'"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

RIP, Cousin Gerry!

So when my mom calls me in the middle of the day it's usually one of two things: the computer is broken and she needs tech support, or she ran in to someone who knew me back in the day and wants to tell me about it. Or, a third option, I've called or e-mailed her asking if she can watch the kids. It's almost never to tell me that someone has died, and on the few occasions that it was it's usually one of her neighbors and the death has been relatively expected.

So I was completely taken aback when she called me today to tell me that my cousin Gerry had died.

Sure, Gerry was 75 he'd lived a good, full life. But the problem was he wasn't done living it. Unlike my dad (Gerry's 1st cousin, making me his 1st cousin once removed, if I'm doing it right...) Gerry wasn't battling a mind-eating disease. Unlike my sister's college roommate who recently passed Gerry hadn't fought MS for 25 years. In fact, he was in such good shape for a 75-year-old that he was out riding his bike when it happened.

Mom was thin on the details when she called, having only received a voice mail from another cousin (we're big on the cousins in my family...Dad had 5 or 6 uncles and each of them had at least 2 kids) saying something to the effect of "Gerry died this morning in a bicycle crash." When I hear the term "fatal bicycle crash" I, being a good Seattelite, assume that there was a large, motorized vehicle involved. Not in this case. According to the story in the Appleton paper he was riding down a hill through a park when he had to slam on the brakes and inertia took over. If you've ever done this you know what happens after you slam on the brakes: bike stops, person continues. The usual result is scraped hands, skinned knees, bruises galore. In Gerry's case the end result was a broken neck and, a while later at the emergency room, a departure from this mortal coil.

I'm not going to be able to do Gerry justice, because while I knew him like I know all my cousins, I didn't really KNOW him. I know he was a scholar - he taught French for something like 39 years. I know he was one of the most literate people I've met - my sister Barb, who went to Lawrence University where Gerry taught, was for years afraid that her Christmas cards would come back covered in red ink. I know he could spin a yarn, mesmerizing his audience with his soft, warm voice and attention to detail in a way I never could. And I know that I'll miss him, and that my main regret today is that, when we went to his 75th birthday party last summer, I didn't bring the camcorder. I thought about it, then consciously decided to leave it in the motel room because "there won't be anything to film." Sure, nothing other than Gerry reciting the family history, explaining who we were and why we were in Ward, Colorado on a sunny August day. And now that memory will live on in my mind, but no where else.

Sleep peacefully, Gerry, and if you see Dad wherever you've gone tell him "hi".

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Solstice Parade!

So one of the Chicken family's annual traditions is to pack in the car and head down to Freemont for the mighty Solstice Parade. We've been going since, oh, some time in the '90s, back in the days when the SPD were uptight and if anyone so much as took off their top it was off to the slammer.

Well, as the photo evidence shows, the cops have lightened up dramatically and the amount of painted skin has risen just as dramatically. And now that I have a decent camera I can finally do the parade justice.

As always, the naked bicyclists kicked things off. While last weekend featured "World Naked Bicycle Day," here in Seattle it was wicked wet and cold. Not that taking a practice run would have made these folks skip the parade, mind you, 'cause I'm pretty sure they like riding around showing their painted bits off to the masses. Here are pictures of a few of them...I like the elephant boys, 'cause if you're going to wear a codpiece you really want one that makes you look well hung. The ladybug lady was nice too, but she kind of lost it with the pipe cleaner antennae.

I like these boys too, especially the guy with the flower paint, 'cause he clearly wanted to just go nude but didn't want to buck the body-painting trend. Not sure if the guy in the middle picture is a cop or a sailor, or maybe just some guy who has a thing for uniforms. Oh, and as you can see we found Waldo. In fact, there were about 10 of them, and later in the day one of them came by and hugged someone standing behind us. Up close the paint didn't look as good, 'cause it was kind of starting to crack.

In other news, Lest you think everyone biking naked was in their 20s and early 30s and good looking, here's proof that older folks can get their body paint freak on.

And if Linda Carter had just painted on her costume, Wonder Woman would still be on TV. Well, ok, not on TV, but at least on DVD. And I love the woman in the suit...looks like she's off to work at Staples. The beauty in the paint job is in the details, so zoom in and check out the collar and cuff work.

Finally, after the bikers were gone the "real" parade showed up, led by this bead-throwing stilt-walking guy and the two topless chicks carrying the solstice banner. They were followed, as always, by the samba dancers and band and a guy wearing Nemo as a hat:

The next group had something to do with water, bottled and otherwise. I think they didn't like bottled water, based on the weird long-neck dudes covered with bottles and the guys in suits with all the money, but I could be wrong...

That was followed by about 300 fake Egyptians, led off by dancing maidens and ending with people carrying pieces of a pyramid. They didn't put it together for us...not sure if they ever did. I just want to know who made all their costumes, 'cause that's a lot of fake snakes.

Next up, apparently a message to reduce, reuse and recycle. Or ball up all those plastic containers and roll them down the street dung-beetle style.

These guys were just wandering around. Not sure who they are supposed to be, but they looked pretty cool.

Again with the recycling theme. Or maybe she just wanted people to yell "Nice Jugs!"

This dude's space air bike thing was really sweet...looks like the fan is pushing it, but I'm pretty sure it was front-wheel drive.

Nice hair. Really.

This group featured jack-in-the-box washing machines. Turn the cranks and out pops a kid covered in laundry!

And for those who don't like thrash metal, how about a hand-powered disco and giant boom box? (didn't get a picture of the boom box, unfortunately...)

If I'd been thinking I would have asked these guys where they got their sweet space suits. But I was too distracted by the bubble man.

The Ents made an appearance last year too, I believe, but this year they took it to the next level. Really cool costumes, and the giant tree dude was gorgeous. I really expected him to get up and walk away.

And last but not least, bringing up the rear, the kids' marimba band from, um, somewhere. Salmon Bay school, maybe? Don't know, and didn't get a program so I can't look it up.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

All your freak barrel are belong to us

I'll admit it...I sometimes surf Craigslist for no good reason. Just looking for a deal on something. And then I stumble across something like this and it just confuses the hell out of me. And I'm not talking about your run-of-the-mill confusion, this one is profound.

The confusion starts with the title: **Complete FREAK BARREL Kit**W/ Stainless Steel Back**OBO - $100

Not only do I not know what a FREAK BARREL is, I didn't realize they came in kits. Or that they could have stainless steel backs. I'm intrigued...does the barrel come complete with freaks? 'cause the Fremont Solstice Parade is a couple weeks away and I'm short on freaks right now. If there are enough of them the $100 might just be a deal!

Then I read a little farther and come to find that not only is this guy selling his freak barrel kit, but, and I quote, "The system is shocker threaded so all you ballers out there with shockers this is a hott addition to your marker."

The combination of "shocker threaded" and "ballers" throws me for a loop. I thought "ballers" meant street kids playing hoop. But I don't know how that relates to threading. Are we talking threads like "dude, check out them threads! That cat's lookin' hot!" or are we talking threads like "fucking QuickieLube over-tightened my oil plug and stripped the fucking threads"? And what makes this addition to my marker so hot it requires two ts?

Once it gets to the red parts front and the rainbow color inserts I'm completely off the reservation and have no idea what he's talking about. If you're really curious, google "freak barrel" and learn about the wonder that is the freak barrel kit.

If not, just join me in bemused confusion and crack another bottle of gin.