Best Bike Advert of '08


don't normally post youtube clips on here but this ad has brought me significant enjoyment since i discovered it last fall. when it's cold outside and the two wheeler is mostly locked away for winter, this is all a bike enthuz has to go off. perhaps it'll make you happy too.

p.s. i want a fixed-gear/straight handlebar bike like the advert dude's. and riding in NYC would be pretty boss, too. sign me up, Betty...

Local wildlife

POSTED IN | 12:57 AM

As seen from the town park. Lots of panting venison running the streets round these parts. Odds are these chaps (and ladies) have been shot at before. I thought they looked impressive in the snow.

I'll be a Monkey's Uncle

POSTED IN | 12:06 AM

Playing in an Uncle Sam band


As I'm about to round the corner on my sixth year in the Army Band, my ventures Wyoming-side have given me new bandee grounds to stomp on, most notably, the 101st Army National Guard Band in Denver.

Mostly it's been a good experience so far with the group. I drive to D-town once monthy, do some tootin' on the ol' T-bone, hob-nob, get some free guvment lunches and head back north to my arctic tundra of a home (it's surprising how much colder Wyoming is than Denver).

These times have been good, as a bonus comes in getting to see my Uncle Bob and Aunt Cheryl, the folks I stay with in the Metro during my stay.

But these times have been bad at points too. A certain rigamarole of an army physical that involved FOUR shots and a lengthy BLOOD draw comes to mind. Needless to say I passed out cold, sure as Staph (which I was probably immunized for - who really knows what's in those army shots?).

But you cling to the good moments. Not the ones where the interstate closes because of snow when you really need to drive to Denver. No, you do your best to forget those.

SO. This past weekend forged a cumulative highlight of my time in the Colorado band. We graced the stage of the historic Paramount Theater in downtown Denver, near the happenin' 16th Street (Lo-Do, what-what).

In the end we played sundry Americana hits (were you expecting something else?) with other tasty tidbits sprinkled in (The Music Man medley, an Artie Shaw clarinet concerto, etc).

The two massive Wurlitzer organs rocked the house with us (literally, you could feel it in the walls) and the 1,800 person crowd (with a silver hue, to be certain) never missed a beat, except when they were falling asleep before intermission. It was Sunday afternoon, after all.

I stood around before and after in the entry way, gripping and grinning amid fellow bandsmen. Always entertaining meeting people, where they're from, why they came, and did you know I stormed the beaches of Normandy in '44! Some good personal histories usually come too, free of charge.

I met a 13-year-old kid, there with his rents. He plays the trombone, like his dad. I swelled a few sizes bigger in my dress blues with admiration, sharing the love of a mutual instrument with the fellow Sliders. Something tangible in shared musical experience. Maybe something we played at the concert will make the kid keep playing for even a few more years. I hope so.

Thus, you're never quite certain of the glints and glimmers that will finagle their way into this life. I'm thankful for moments like Sunday afternoon that sheen a bit more keenly than the others. And I'm thankful for musical experiences like playing with a 50 piece group in a 1929 theater for a packed house in Colorful Colorado's capital.

Music used to be such a cornerstone element of my daily life since I was, well, 13 (the year I joined band). It's good to still have a few coins in my pocket these days, if only a remnant of the former melodious wealth.

That's what keeps me coming back.

Goodnight, Denver!

(photo caption: I'm third from right on the far right. this is us playing Stars and Stripes. perhaps you've heard of it before?)

Farewell, Happy Serven

POSTED IN | 10:47 PM
Happy, you were a heck of a dog. My stars. You were simple beyond words and yet always made me feel, well, happy. You were perhaps the most consistently benevolent animal I've known. Perhaps we could all take away a life lesson in unbridled and unattributable joy given us by you, a 15-pound ball of black curls that couldn't possibly have seen ANYTHING through those bangs.

May you always have a place at the foot of life's bed. May you also run ever freely beside bicycling humans and not painfully tangle in the leash (oops).

Rest in peace, Happy Pet.


Tribute to Granny

POSTED IN | 11:17 PM

"Well, I don't feel just really weepy, but maybe that will come in time..."

The words of my granny Lillian Qualls floated across her Bristow, Oklahoma dining room clearly, not betraying the inner turmoil that boiled just below the surface. Or so I thought. Emotive analysis is only so keen when you're a 13-year-old male.

Standing perched with a leg on the chair in a blue night gown, my Gran spoke these words in 1996 to several other family members. With fresh soil over her husband of 13 years, her countenance was stunning considering the circumstances.

Several days previously Harley, the grandpa I knew, had died of a heart attack in their bedroom, essentially.

The loving cacophony of the funeral whirred and chugged.

During the service my uncle Reuben quoted Harley's "that'll be a dollar ninety eight" punch line, made famous through years of practice and always accompanied with a grampy chuckle.

Then it was casket, eulogy, flowers, tears, soil, stone, burial.

And that was all. And then there we were in the house, Granny in the blue night gown.

Lillian Lela Qualls, my mom's mom, died 13 days ago now, passing peacefully in the night with a good book of a friend perched nearby her still frame.

But, in her passing, I wonder if my numerous family members (we're a hoard to be certain) hold quite the same stoic line as she did. Or if we're even capable of that. If we're quite as able to merely utter a few non-weepy sentiments and move on in life, thinking the law of averages will eventually take hold and right what is askew.

I wonder if I can merely do that.

But to her credit my Gran had much practice with this thing called upheaval.

Outlasting the Depression on an Okie farm alongside her seven (or was it eight?) siblings before marrying young and birthing her first — a girl — she had learned much already.

But the War in Europe had other plans, ripping my grandpa Reuben Paul away on a several year tour where he doctored sinister wounds, and miraculously, survived — one of only a handful bearing the red cross to do so in his platoon.

Then two more kids came along to Granny, the last of which is my mother. The Placid Providence is not lost, or the what-ifs un-entertained at what wouldn't have been had my Grandpa's war experience turned out even one bullet trajectory different.

And certainly God's grace kept her afloat during many tempests. Even through the unexpected hospital death of my Grandpa when he was only 41 and my Gran only 39 and with three kids.

She went to work at a time when women largely didn't and blazed a rough swath to make three adolescent ends meet while still having enough in the piggy for her own sanity. I can't imagine these difficulties.

So you see, my Gran was a strong woman. Always trusting in Someone other than herself. Firm, consistent and yet personable, one of the friendliest people I've known probably.


"Well for the land's sake!"

"Well I declare."

These were all favorites. As was the occasional "Now John! you stop jumping on that sofa!"

But a granny scold never cut you very deep, even when you're a young-un.

Granny cooked like I think heaven will taste. And nary a lessened-fat substitute made its way into the pot. Ever. Nothing but full-octane delish in her kitchen. That was her pure culinary Gospel. And that's the way it's supposed to be I think.

And yet her strength is there. A testament of adaptation. A lesson in learning, coping, surviving. Of mistaking and re-routing. Of walking in blindness when there were likely so many reasons for despair.

But the Pity Path never seemed an option for Gran. Though no doubt a proud woman she was, hers was not the way of self-inflicting misery. Not even when Grandpa Harley died some 12 years ago, the nuptial lodestone of her rich old age.

Gran went to God on January 29th. Perhaps she's even perfecting some angelic culinary delights right now, exchanging percentaged ingredients for ones bearing the label "whole" and telling Gabriel to put some elbow grease into those egg whites, why don't you!

But there are memories. Many good ones.

I'll hold on to those months last year when we'd go out for lunch every week. You would always ask me where I wanted to eat like you didn't have an exact place calculated. You were sneaky like that.

I'd say "you decide" casually and immediately you'd give an answer.

"Now John, I think I'd just like a good hamburger." I would just smile and never let on like I knew what friendly slight of hand you'd dealt me. And we had some good lunches together. Lordy, lordy.

So Gran, this isn't so easy you see — bidding farewell. You were a great woman and you lived through some crazy history lessons of life experience. For the land's sake! My life seems like a walk in the Feather Party Park when held aloft beside yours. And yet I probably don't see God in things nearly as much as you. I pray we could have a faith like yours, too.

Gran, we will miss you. I will.