Friday, May 24, 2013

Mr. Fix-It Gone Wild

(A little lengthy, but worth it!)

Here's the deal...I'm the kind of self-reliant guy...why pay a repairman $75 bucks for a home repair when I can screw it up and pay him twice that?  But, sometimes, things go right for how I got myself embedded with the Army in Baghdad all on my own without any help from CNN or any other major news network.  (Of course, there was that little incident where the Air Force security crew threatened to strip-search me, but that's another story!)

So, this morning, I see a little water on the kitchen floor.  (Now, listen to the first measure of the Jaws sound track...du dum.)  Don't think much about it...I prolly just spilled some when cleaning up, right?

When I come back from errands, I start to thaw the perch for dinner, and then I see some more water on the floor.  (du dum...du dum.)

I open the sink cabinet door and see that the space beneath the sink is god-awful wet. turn off the sink water, and pull all the fricking cleaning supplies and trash bags out so I can see what's going on, but there is no apparent leak. 

So, I grab a flashlight, turn the sink water on, and stick my head up under the sink.  And then I see it, a steady trickle of water from base of the faucet.  It's not a standard hot water on the left, spigot in the middle, and cold water on the right type; rather, it's one of those all-in-one units.  At first, I figure just put a pan under the drip and call the plumber.  But, then, I decide to investigate further.  (du dum, du dum, du dum!)  

So, I find the valves for the hot and cold water lines and turn them off.  I pull my wet self out from under the cabinet and test the faucet.  Turn to the left, no water.  Turn to the right, no water.  I've successfully cut off the water so I can work to my hearts content.

It is at this point where I reached the MOFU fork in the road.  (Every home repairman knows this Moment of Fuck's the point of No Return...the point at which you should proceed past only with extreme caution.)  I could have just left things alone and worked with some inconvenience, but, no, I go to the Moment of Fuck Up and bulled right through it...although I certainly didn't think I was.

My trusty allen wrench fit the recessed and mostly hidden retaining screw and a few turns later I was lifting the spigot from it base "just to check" if there was anything I could easily see amiss.  (du dum, du DUM, DU DUM DU DUM DU DUM!!!)  I lift the spigot one inch and nothing, I started to lift it a little more and...


I clamp down on Old Faithful it with one hand with the result that the fountain now sprayed horizontally in all directions.  

Next, I grab it with both hands, like I'm gonna choke that fucker.  The water then just gushed out and up, but nowhere near as bad as before.  But, there's one little problem:  IT'S HOT WATER!

I mean, now my hands are being boiled alive.  

No choice but to let go and dive under the sink cabinet again, this time looking for the damn third water shut-off valve.  (Who the fuck ever heard of there being THREE shut-off valves, anyway?) 

While I'm fumbling around, trying to find a valve (they are itty bitty little valves that are hardly noticeable), I'm wondering where the fuck is the t-handle so, at worse, I can turn the water off at the street.  

I groping around, hot water is pouring down on me, I know my wife is gonna kill me, and then, BOOM!  The overhead ceiling light explodes because the water has hit hot glass.  

So there I am, boiling hot water pouring on me, glass raining down on me, I'm on my back, barefoot, and stuffed under the sink.  At this point I want my wife to just kill me where I lay and get my torture over with.

But, I find the valve and turn it and, mercifully, the fountain of my despair ceases.  

So, the next thing I did what any self-respecting, do-it-yourselfer does and reach for...

Only then do I assess the damage.

Water is fucking everywhere: on the ceiling, on the kitchen/breakfast room/den floors, on the counters, and in the drawers.  Apple computer was drenched, I-phone wet, recipe book soaked...and on and on.

So, I start mopping...THE CEILING.  Can't reach it.  Have to stand on a fricking wobbly stool.  And, yeah, by this time the wine is kicking in.  Imagine a half drunk man, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, standing on a stool and trying to mop the ceiling, all the while trying to avoid the recessed light socket that is hissing and spitting...that's me!

Long story short, I called my wife and said that I would meet her for dinner out.  She asked why and I said that the kitchen faucet was broken...that I tried to fix it but had bad news and good news...the bad news was that my attempt resulted in no water in the kitchen, but the good news was that the den, breakfast room, and kitchen were spotless...and that her interior flowers had plenty of water.

Two wine glasses later for her, she laughed.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Where Do You Go When You Die?

Years ago, my elderly father sat across the kitchen bar from me.  I figured it was time to broach the subject of how he felt about death, given that his life expectancy was a short measure.

I said, "Dad, you know we've talked over the many years about life and death...are there any thoughts you wish to share about how it is most likely that at some point I will be placing a spare plate for you at the dinner table?  Do you have any concerns?  Like where you go when you die?"

Dad thought for a minute, no words did he say, then he simply stood up and looked at me.

I said, "Ok, I'm supposed to ask you what just happened.  What?"

He said, "My lap.  A minute ago I was sitting and I had a lap.  Now I'm standing.  Where did my lap go?"

After picking my jaw up off the floor at my father's profound and succinct answer to an existential question that has dogged humans since they sat around the campfire licking their fingers after a good answer that he gave not in words but in action...I said, "'Nuff said."

Then we finished our meal with satisfaction.

Mike Sledge

Friday, September 21, 2012

When Is Enough Simply Enough

This is not about extending life by artificial means, or about how big should the US budget deficit go with regard to stimulus spending.\ Rather, it's about yard work. I don't know about you, but I have more (AND LESS) control over yard work than I do the health care or budget issues above. Here's the deal: I hate blowers. I'm not arguing from a Luddite position. Rather, I'm asking when is a yard/sidewalk/drive clean enough?

Here is a picture of a sidewalk I swept after edging.
Here is another picture of the sidewalk of the house next to me.
How you view these two pictures is based on a very important philosophical orientation. More specifically, my sidewalk is realistic. It shows the dirt and detritus that naturally occurs from such yard work.

My neighbor's sidewalk, on the other hand, shows nothing.  There is no flaw, no evidence of a real world is too "perfect."

Is his life perfect?  Of course not.

I'd much prefer that my "things" reflect a life spent acquiring the dirt and bumps and byproducts of living.


Mike Sledge

Friday, December 23, 2011


An argument conducted via text messages.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pity the Poor Zombie Actor

Next week The Walking Dead will open its new season. Now, for sure, I really thought the first season was pretty silly, pithy, full of bad lines and off-the-shelf stereotypes (even real rednecks aren't as rednecky as portrayed in this movie), and failing to rise to the level of a good B flick.

Having said that, I'll prolly watch as much as I can stand, most likely while spinning my bike on the trainer. (Hey, when your heart rate is high your brain can't be too heavily engaged!)

Also, I'll try to see what lows the show can reach in a genre that is already intrinsically hampered by an acting arena that is much more closely fenced in than other horror film types.

So, let's compare zombie, vampire, and werewolf films. Certainly, the dream horror flicks (Nightmare on Elm Street), the mutant flicks (The Hills Have Eyes), the sci-fi flicks (Alien), and others all horror films, but the three involving human transformation stand in a class of their own, and within them vampire/werewolf (henceforth, VW) stand on one side of a divider from zombie films, and actors who take on the role of the transformed also fall into clear divides: those you know and those you don't.

VW actors? Bela Lugosi-"Dracula", Kate Beckinsale-"Underworld", Wesley Snipes-"Blade", Michael J. Fox-in the laughable "Teen Wolf", David Naughton-"American Werewolf in London", Tom Cruise-yes, the considered-to-be miscast blonde vampire in "Interview With the Vampire". Hell, even Slim Pickens played a memorable role in "The Howling".

Zombie actors? ................ Anybody? Anybody?

And little wonder why there are no zombie actors. (Well, one could say that there ARE "zombie" actors whose names we know, but they weren't playing zombie roles!) Well, go figure. What can they do?

First of all, once the transformation takes places, that's it. There's no going back, no reverting to human form only to transform again as werewolves and vampires do. Thus, there's no waxing and waning of desire and regret. There's no pleas to help find a cure for the insatiable craving for blood or to chain the beast up until the full moon has passed through its phase. There's only mindless, soulless, and guiltless pursuit of raw human flesh. (Speaking of which, I've never figured this out: How can there be more than one or two zombies? Think about it. First, a person become a zombie and wants to eat someone. OK, so he starts eating. Then, what, he quits eating so the victim can become a zombie too? And then they go off in search of more victims. And, they find one and bite her, start to eat her. So, then what? Again, they quit eating so she can become zombie #3? Apparently, the zombies reach a tipping point where even a bite or two from each consumes the victim so there are no more zombies? Yeah, right?)

Second, zombie actors never really get to try out their dialogue skills. VW can plead, rationalize, express guilt and remorse, or describe the exquisite taste of blood or the thrill of the hunt and kill. Zombie can say only, "Brains! Brains!"

Third, zombies aren't loved, poor things. Even vampires and werewolves find lovers.

Fourth, zombies can't have sex. (Let's leave out the comments by some people that there partner is about as good as a zombie!) Lugosi feigned sex, admittedly, but he sure got to bite on a lot of beautiful necks. In "The Howling" there was a hot hot hot scene by the fireside in which a man and woman began to transform during foreplay and totally morphed into biting, clawing, scratching, and, of course, HOWLING! But zombies? Nope. So, even the last trick of bad actors--that of having sex on the screen--is denied to zombie actors.

By now, you get the picture, zombie roles are relegated to the stand-ins, the wanna-bees, the won't make its.

Having said that, herein lies an opportunity for a truly gifted screenplay writer, a brilliant actor, a visionary director, and a producer with some cojones. Do a truly ground-breaking film for zombies that will pull off a trick of making the zombie somehow more human, sympathetic, and appealing to watch for more than a few seconds. Have the zombie become a creature who has a life beyond walking the streets and looking for brains, brains, brains.

Mike Sledge

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Vacuuming: Dirt Sensor vs. Judgment

OK, here's the deal. Sometimes I end up vacuuming my girlfriend's house. Don't get me wrong, we'd both like a good housekeeper but we've been striking out in this regard for some time. So, especially since we have dogs that track in as much dirt and dead grass as Pig-Pen in the Peanuts cartoon, we have to clean ourselves. And, since harmony to me is important, I suck it up and do my part...kinda sorta. So, I figured that vacuuming is better than cleaning the bathroom, right? Wrong! My GF has a Kenmore vacuum with the dirt-sensor technology. What is this? A dirt-sensor? Well, it's a little series of lights that turn from red (dirty) to green (clean) as the dirt is picked up. Sounds simple? Sounds easy? Sounds like a good idea? Wrong again! You see, for a guy I'm pretty clean, pretty neat. For a guy, I said. And, being a guy, I like to rely on my judgment. While I'm the first to use maps and GPS and stuff instead of wandering around for hours, there are some things I like to do by sense, and cooking and cleaning are two of them. I cook by smell and touch. And by appearance. Making pancakes means more or less following the instructions, cause while putting "one egg" in is pretty definite, the cup of milk and mix is a matter of judgment. Just like barbeque, where I cook by sound, touch, and smell. The same applies to cleaning: "Well, that looks clean to me!" But, not so quick. The light hasn't turned green yet! It's still sitting on red! What? It looks clean. It feels clean. So it must be clean. But the light is still red. Here's how that freakin' dirt sensor works:

So man's ability to circumnavigate the vast oceans of the world using only a sense of wind direction and tides is tossed aside? His sense of direction in pitch black darkness is discounted?

Oh, wait, I forgot! These damn cleaners were designed with women in mind. They need "proof" that they've done a good job.

Hmm. Or, there's another thought: these damn, infernal light things were put there for the women to check if their men did a good job!

Mike S.