Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bachman Turner Overdrive

My friend Andrew Freimuth once drew a fantastic Dilbert cartoon at a party we had at our apartment.  I believe that it beats out many actual Dilbert originals.

There is not much new to post tonight.  However, there is a new Puddles of Myself Poll up on the sidebar of the page.  This poll is brought to you by The Gates, airing Sundays at 10:00 PM on ABC.

I have been working hard at a variety of projects as well as killing time in the lunch room at my regular work job. I'm polishing up my manuscript of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt, as well as drafting sketches to submit to Saturday Night Live (don't ask me how). See, those stupid screen shots we put up on the blog weren't just a threat.  We can actually do  it.

However, later this week we will have a full-time NBA podcast with Paul Sicilian where we break down the NBA Draft and what went wrong in the NBA Finals for the Boston Celtics as well as ramifications for the NBA and NBA legacies going forward.  That should be a good one.

Also, I will be doing a podcast with Ted Robinson of Forest City. Ted plays guitar and writes some of  the shortest and most poignant songs you'll ever hear.  Ted and I will hopefully discuss the project that Puddles of Myself and Forest City will be working on together, which is tentatively called "Forest For Yourself: A Tale of Two Bottles".  This project will be the presentation of free tracks from the upcoming Forest City album that will be available on this blog.  You can follow track by track and then download the whole album.  You will also be able to provide a donation.  More details will follow in the podcast itself. That is a podcast I am looking forward to very much.

I'll also try to get you a column on my thoughts on the NBA (as if you didn't get enough in the most vain Puddles of My Podcast episode to ever be recorded.). And next week I want to explain to you all the glories of Blitzen Trapper, who are one of the most underrated bands playing today.

But now, another excerpt of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt.  We have reached Part III of the novel and we now return to the first person perspectives of the O'Donnell family.  The funeral and burial are over and now the family members return to their home in order to empty out the house for sale and to return to the problems of their individual lives.  No wonder I am trying to write sketches for SNL.

As always, my Puddlers, enjoy:


“I can’t believe you did all of this, Aunt Erin.  We could’ve handled some of it.”

    “Please, James,” Aunt Erin says to me.

    I want to say something about responsibility and about mom being my mother and that I should do better, but instead I don’t say anything.  I smile and I put my arm around her little body and pull her close.
    “I love you, Aunt Erin.”

    “Thank you, James.”

    I let her go and look around the kitchen.  There are about a half dozen aluminum catering trays filled with food.  There are plenty of plastic cups and plates and untensils all wrapped and stacked on the counters.  She has two liters of soda and also plenty of beer.

    “That was a nice service.  They have a good cemetary out there in Calverton.”  Uncle Connor is sitting at the kitchen table.  The fading grey light comes in from the skylight.  Behind him against the back windows there is a little red and purple from where the clouds are breaking and letting the sun through.  He drums his fingers on the kitchen table. “And Douglas and his family have always had a fine business at that home.”

    “I don’t know how with that crook of a father of his and the faulty hearses they used to send around.” Dad walks in with the bottle of Sark the girls found him with last night.

    “He wasn’t a crook, Ben.” Uncle Connor says.  I can see him want to smile.

    Dad grabs two tumbler glasses.  He turns to Uncle Connor and points a finger. “Revisionist.”  He puts the glasses down on the table and unscrews  the Sark cap. “Scotch?”

    Uncle Connor shakes his head and looks at Dad. “I don’t think so, Ben.”

    I watch Dad meet Uncle Connor’s gaze.  Dad turns away and pours himself a glass.

    “Well, I think so.” Dad says. “James?”

    I shake my head.  “I think I’ll just stick with beer.”

    Dad sits down at the table and pulls his glass in.  He takes a long drink off it and exhales.
    “James,” Aunt Erin says, grabbing a tray. “Why don’t you get Tom and help me carry this stuff into the dining room to set up.”

    “You got it.”

    I walk out of the kitchen, through the living room where Eve is sitting with Liza and looking over a book.  Eve looks at me and smiles.  I feel the hollow dread in the bottom of my stomach.

    “Why did you hide my grandson from me?”

    “I didn’t, mom.  I didn’t mean to.”

    She shuts the oven and my mouth tastes like an onion.

    I move through the main hallway and to the front door.  I look out and Maggie is sitting on the front step with Jake.  The sun is shining red.  He still looks good and it surprises me how happy I am to see him.  Surprise isn’t the word – I always admired him and thought that we saw eye to eye in some way.  Even though I always felt that Maggie would break his heart somehow.  But he’s back and it would be like him to show up to the funeral without telling anyone.


    I jog quickly up the stairs, my feet making that soft warm thudding sound on the carpet.

    “Tom?” I ask again.  I turn down the hallway and look into his room.  Tom is sitting on the ledge of his window, legs draped out the window. “What’s going on, Tom?”

    He turns around and smiles. “I’m not going to jump.”

    “I didn’t say that.” I cross my arms.

    “You looked that,” he laughs.

    I shake my head.

    “What’s up?”

    “Aunt Erin wants us to help set the food up for the guests.”

    Tom turns his feet back into the room.  Red light enters onto his tan carpet.  It reminds me of too many summer afternoons.

    “Who’s coming?”

    “I don’t really know. Friends?”

    He nods and steps into the room.  He slides the screen back over the window.  I suddenly feel hot around the collar of my shirt.  Tom stretches up.  He looks lean and sharp.  He looks healthy and slightly sad.

    “I’m sorry,” I say. “About the look.”

    He walks over and pats my shoulder.

    “Thanks for coming up to get me.”

    He passes me and walks out into the shadow of the hall.  I follow him.

    “Who was that girl from last night anyway.”

    Tom doesn’t answer and disappears down the stairs.  I begin to descend but I can feel mom behind me.  I turn.

    “Be patient with your brother.  He needs your help just like everyone else.”

    “I know, mom. I know.  I love him.”

    “Good,” she holds her arm against my cheek. “Now where is that grandson of mine?”

    Of course she’s not there.

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