If wealth were measured in T-shirts, I'd be Dick Cheney.
Rachel and I like to live like college students. Well, perhaps that "like to" bit is a stretch, but we definitely live on the cheap. We live in a cramped one-bedroom apartment, our TV and stereo are carried over from Rachel's high school days, and we do not own a chest of drawers.
In place of a chest of drawers, we have an enormous trunk to hold all our T-shirts, underwear and socks. Needless to say, the trunk becomes an unintelligible mass of cloth rather quickly.
Today, because I am the greatest husband in the world, I decided to organize the trunk as a sort of "welcome home" present. Nothing says, "I love you," like an organized trunk -- the diamond people don't want you to know that, but it's true.
As part of the organization process, I discovered that I am the proud owner of some 45 T-shirts. Good Lord, that's a lot of shirts. I could have gone through the entire Biblical flood without ever wearing a dirty shirt. AND I'd still have a few extra shirts for the first fair-weather workweek.
Oh, SUREBarbie and Ken are still good friends. That's why Ken can be found most nights -- tiny bottle of Stolichnaya in hand -- weeping into a stack of porn and screaming: "I hate Australia! Stupid Aussie bastards!"
And those naughty Polaroids that Ken has of Barbie? Perfectly legal.
Although, now that he's his a free man, Ken may want to try something new.
Please send space suits that work.
The ISS crew
I work in an office that is probably best described as: "a closet in the basement." I am rarely seen, and, as such, I have a tendency to look like someone who is rarely seen. Today I am wearing a three-day beard, a T-shirt I stole from a San Francisco reporter in 1997, corduroy pants bought before I got married and a pair of worn-out sandals.
But don't get the wrong idea about my employer -- they're important big media types. As proof, one can regularly find big important-looking types sitting in the upstairs conference room, tapping presumably important things into laptops that probably cost more than my wife's car and saying presumably important things into cell phones that definitely cost more than my wife's car.
What's funny about the suits is the fact that they all seem to exhibit the same sort of animal-like behaviour.
Male suits insist on wearing white shirts. You can vary the colour of your tie, apparently, but a shirt that is anything but white indicates that you are still a low-peg suit who has yet to learn the Tao of The Suit.
When they have been released from the conference room, the male suits wander around in circles, like grazing cattle, one hand in pocket, the other hand pressing a cell phone to their ear.
The female suits move their jaws fishlike as they chat into their cell phones. They wear plastic grins and seem to be far too energetic, as if they have spent most of their day overdosing on illegal stimulants.
When confronted by a beardy basement troll, both sexes of the suit will go into a defensive posture.
The males will puff their chest slightly and slowly work their wandering cell phone conversation closer to the offending basement troll. By doing this, they are hoping the troll will pick up on the suit's important-sounding conversation, realise just how dramatically more important than the troll the suit is, and scamper off.
The female suit becomes very excited. Her head darts frantically and her false smile grows to comic, beauty-pageant proportion. If they cannot make you go away by pressing their cell phone to their ear, they will retreat to the safety of the herd, where they will pretend to be interested in whatever tedious, non-cell-phone conversation is taking place near the coffee maker.
One of the most amusing things to do to a suit is: walk in a straight line through the herd and pour yourself a cup of coffee, even though you do not drink coffee, and say: "Howdy, suits!"
One of my favourite words is "huzzah." Today I used the word but drew a confused look from my friend, so I grabbed my dictionary and found the definition: "an expression or shout of acclaim -- often used interjectionally to express joy or approbation."
"See?" I said to my friend. "I was approbating your trip to Chicago."
Then we both agreed that "approbating" sounds "kinda dirty." It's a bit like the word "uvula" (that thing that hangs in the back of your throat) in that it sounds obscene, but isn't:
"Mom, Dad: I've been approbating quite a lot lately, and now my uvula hurts."
I, uhm, I mean, Professor Wrestling was 3 for 5 in his Great American Bash predictions. He has confided in me that he's pretty sure he would be 4 for 5 if it hadn't been for Chavo Classic's getting the axe from the WWE.
I am somewhat notorious for my poor memory -- I have trouble remembering what I did a week ago. So, I can understand being surprised by something that happened seven years ago.
Imagine the poor brother and sister in this story -- always hearing from their mother: "Why can't you be more like your younger brother? He's so quiet and always helps out around the house by eating flies..."
I've been married for five years now, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. But I'll admit to you that occasionally I wonder what life would be like if I were on my own. Here's what it would be like:
On a Saturday I would call all of my friends, twice. They would either be busy or not answer their phones and I would spend the night watching the Olympic gymnastics trials. That Tasha Schwikert is a looker, but I'll be happy to see my wife return.
By the way, based on the female gymnasts, it appears that glitter is a part of the U.S. Olympic uniform. I'll be interested to see whether our wrestlers follow that trend.
My radio show appearance has come and gone. I think I did OK -- I stuttered a few times, but I think it went well overall. The most surreal moment came when the radio show put my mother-in-law, Kay, on the air. Kay is with Rachel in Washington, D.C., this week -- along with all the rest of Kay's five daughters.
That's part of life's beauty, I suppose -- you think you're all cool and important because you're a guest on a radio show, then your mother-in-law storms on the scene to steal the spotlight and leave you in stunned silence.
As I mentioned before, I only prepared one joke for my appearance on "The Wedding Show," everything else was pretty much off the cuff. As a result, I was delighted when I came up with a line about Lucky Charms: "They're not just delicious, they're magically delicious."
But now that I think about it, isn't it disturbing that cereal makers are using the dark arts to improve their product's taste?
Anyway, I had a great time. I don't know if they'd ever ask me back, but I'd love to do it again. If you heard the show, leave a comment and let me know what you thought.
I've finally downloaded the free Hello software, enabling me to post some pictures and ruin any positive illusions you may have about what I look like.
Presently the digital camera is in Washington, D.C., with Rachel. But here are a few pictures that I had on the computer:
Lincoln, Lincoln. I've been thinkin'...
This is about as close as you can get to the Crazy Horse statue without forking out more cash. We paid $18 to be able to take this picture. What a bargain!
Here we are in front of (or behind? or next to?) the Devil's Tower Monument in Wyoming. I have that concerned look on my face because I'm the one taking the picture -- standing, extending my arm, aiming the camera properly and pushing a button makes my brain hurt. I'm a simple man.
One of the highlights of any trip to South Dakota (the Dakota your mother warned you about) is a stop at Wall Drug. Here I am standing next to a stuffed bison. Note how big that thing is compared to me -- I'm 6-foot-1. Actual bison are considerably larger.
Here's Rachel at this year's St. Paul Winter Carnival, wearing the scarf I knitted for her. When I took this picture, I think the temperature was minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
BOOK UPDATE: I am now up to 9,950 words in my novel. That's almost twice the number of words that exist on the whole of this blog at the moment. Today's post is my 30th, by the way.
Using the word "novel" is rather haughty, isn't it? Book.
One of the things I'm learning about the book-writing process is that it is about as fun as knee surgery. There's a great deal of revision. Actually, you get drugs with knee surgery, don't you? That might be more fun than going back over your words again and again and again.
With the lovely Mrs. Cope in Washington, D.C., until Tuesday I should have plenty of time to write (and revise and revise) over the next few days.
Speaking of Washington, D.C., my interview on WJFK 106.7's "The Wedding Show" is tomorrow!
I'm so excited that I used an exclamation mark.
Tune in and listen to me bomb live on air at 3 p.m. EST.
I had a good time this morning chatting with Keeva, the producer of WJFK's "The Wedding Show with Sharon Lewis." Everything is set for Saturday's show, which gets under way at 3 p.m. EST on 106.7 FM. I'm not exactly sure when I'll be on but it should be a pretty good time. I'm really excited.
Among other things, we'll go over some of the things I said in these columns:
~ Love/Hate Relationship With Weddings ~ How To Fix Your Wife I only have one prepared joke for the show:
"So many people want to turn their weddings into a cinematic event. What they forget is that in a movie, you do a scene over and over again. In real life, you only get one shot at wedding, only one chance -- unless you're Jennifer Lopez."
Leave words in the comments for me to try to work into my conversation (no profanity).
This week's column will be about the importance of cordial and meaningless conversation -- sometimes it's best to keep your religious/political opinions to yourself, I say. But that column's not out until Tuesday. In the meantime: St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly is a blithering idiot.
You'll note that on the lower right side there is now a link to Amazon.com -- please use it for all your shopping needs. Amazon has everything. And when you go through this site I get gift certificates -- maybe in about 20 years I'll have directed enough web traffic their way to earn myself a CD.
Or, if you want to cut out the middle man, you can just go straight to my wish list and buy me stuff from there.
As a tertiary member of the Vast Media Conspiracy, I feel I have the authority to make certain important decisions for the media community as a whole, such as how we should refer to the coupling of Marc Antony and Jennifer Lopez.
When J-Lo was paired with Ben Affleck, we called them: "Bennifer." Following that theme, I hereby decree that Marc Antony and Jennifer Lopez shall be referred to as: "Antelopez," also acceptable is "Anto-Lo."
"We'd like to thank you for flying Northwest Airlines, we hope you enjoy your visit to South Dakota and, huh? We did what? Oh, crap."
Happy cows come from California. Happy cows consume rocket fuel.
Non-Minnesotans may not be aware of the major cultural event that is the Minnesota State Fair, and more's the pity for those people. One of the highlights of the Fair are the numerous foodstuffs available on sticks: ice cream on a stick, corn dogs (known as Pronto Pups up here), pork chop on a stick, walleye on a stick, turkey on a stick, steak on a stick, corn on a stick, fried candy bars on a stick, etc.
But put a stick through this and I think you've got this year's most popular Fair treat.
I am shocked -- shocked I say -- to learn that, less than two weeks removed from her 18th birthday, the wheels have come off for Mary-Kate Olsen.
According to Teen People (I'm an avid reader, don't you know), Mary-Kate lives by the motto: "Life is short, eat dessert first." -- Apparently life is too short to digest that food.
First Christina Aguilera cancelled her tour because of a vocal strain. Then Britney Spears cancelled her tour because of a bum knee. Now Jessica Simpson has fallen out due to a mysterious illness. These pop stars are dropping like flies, man -- no longevity whatsoever.
You know those little spoons they sell at tourist traps everywhere that have state seals or an outline of the state on the handle? A few years ago, my mother decided that she was going to start collecting the spoons and started with Pennsylvania.
Then, a few weeks ago, I noticed the spoon being used as a sugar spoon.
"Where are your other state spoons?" I asked my mother.
"Oh, I gave up on that idea," she said. "I don't go enough places."
"Mom, have you ever even been to Pennsylvania?"
I am a manly man. This weekend I changed the spark plugs in both my wife's car and my truck, changed the oil in both vehicles (along with oil filters and air filters), put in new plug wires in my wife's car and rotated the tires on my truck.
And when I say that I did all that, I mean that my brother actually did all the plugs and wires, and his friend, Matt, directed me on where to place the jack and helped me figure out where the oil pan was under my wife's car.
But my hands still got dirty, and that makes me very, very manly indeed.
Congratulations England on yet another football (soccer) victory. This is the first time -- on foreign soil -- that England has progressed to the quarterfinal round of the Euro championship. It was a very good match.
I wonder how hard you'd get punched if you were to attend an England football match and sing the lyrics to "My Country 'tis of Thee" while they sang "God Save The Queen."
One of the interesting side effects of my copy editing gig comes when I read quotes from random Americans that force me to admit that many of us make absolutely no sense when we speak: "Just the other day I was on my way to work and everybody's speeding because everybody is slow." Huh?
"One African screamed wildly into a cell phone and ran around as colleagues tried to restrain him." -- I suspect he was screaming something to the effect of: "I love Spain! This is even better than I could have hoped."
I found this picture of me from about a year and a half ago, when I had long hair. I am, to quote Prince, a sexy mother-(squeal). I'm quoting from the radio version, of course. I almost look like a pirate, don't I? If you're interested, I documented the day I had it all sheared off.
BOOK UPDATE: I now have enough words to comprise the sort of essays that Dr. Theresa Callan would demand of me in my University of Portsmouth politics courses.
My 6,673 words are very rough, however. I'm sure Theresa would still give it her usual three-second glance, circle the first paragraph, and say: "You'll need to rewrite that bit. And if the rest of the essay is like that, you'll need to rewrite the rest of it, as well."
Sitting in my office today I received a phone call from an unknown young woman. And when I say young, I mean she was no older than 4 years old -- she was clearly teaching herself how to use the phone:
"Hi," she said.
"Hello," I said.
"I'm using the phone."
"Yes, you are. Very good. But I think maybe you got the wrong number."
"The wrong number?"
"Yes, sweetheart, the wrong number."
"What's your name?"
"My name is Chris."
She squealed with delight and dropped the receiver. I could hear her excitedly shouting to someone: "I used the phone and called the wrong number and talked to Chris!"
I think more toddlers should cold call people at their place of business. It definitely makes your day.
What do you get when you mix Dallas with a career in television? Very big hair.
You know, I think President Bill Clinton got a bit of a raw deal. I think that, in retrospect, his critics were overzealous in their pursuit of his every foible. But honestly, does anyone literally believe that he slept on a couch for two months? Why even say such a thing when it is so obviously not true?
I'm sure the White House has at least one additional bed for the leader of the free world to sleep in. If not, they should have called my parents -- Mom and Dad have a spare room and would have been delighted to have the president visit for a while. Dad would have made him King Ranch casserole.
South Dakota was a good time. Here's my advice if you go: skip the Crazy Horse Memorial. Actually, you can skip Mount Rushmore, too. Both look exactly the same up close as they do from the highway. The Corn Palace, however, is a must.
The part of the $18 Crazy Horse experience that amused me most is the fact that no one actually knows what Crazy Horse looked like.
There is also a sense that the good folks behind the project are a little unrealistic in their expectations -- in the sense that a 5-year-old with two refrigerator boxes and a packet of Black Cat fireworks is a little unrealistic in his expectation that he will be able to build a rocket ship.
The project has been under way since 1947, and so far, only an 87-foot face that may or may not look like Crazy Horse has emerged. Beyond the proposed 563-foot tall sculpture -- which might be completed before the Sun collapses in on itself -- organizers are promising an airport, university, and medical center. Presently all that exists are a gift shop and restaurant.
This blog will go untouched until at least Wednesday, June 16, while my wife and I celebrate out fifth anniversary. We're heading to the sexier of the Dakotas, South Dakota, to stare at the enormous heads of former presidents, see how things are going on that Crazy Horse project, and enjoy some hot, passionate... uhm, I'll keep that part to myself.
There will be a new column out on Tuesday, though. You will be able to find it here.
Here's a fun fact: The guy who played "Faceman" in the A-Team, Dirk Benedict, is an alum of Phi Delta Theta -- my fraternity. Since leaving the A-Team, he has featured in such big-name projects as "Steel Stomachs," and "Zork: Grand Inquisitor" -- the latter putting him in collaboration with Rip Taylor.
We did the same thing with my pet rabbit when I was 8 years old. Well, with the exception of the whole thing about cutting out his heart and passing it around for 180 years and giving it with a royal funeral.
We just put Thumper in a cardboard box and buried him in the back yard. Not the same thing at all, come to think of it.
Did I mention that I'm writing a book? It's an absolute mess at the moment, but I am almost finished with a (very) rough draft of the first of the novel's four parts.
This morning I happened to run a quick word count on what I've got so far: 5,347 words.
"That doesn't seem like much," I thought.
That's about two weeks of work. Maybe I can write books for people with short attention spans.
That reminds me of a story from when I was a very small child (to the extent that this story goes beyond my own recollection -- which generally only extends a few weeks).
My dad reportedly decided it would be fun to take his son to one of those drive-through zoos, and piled himself, his wife and their son into his small vinyl-topped Datsun.
My dad has always been very good about following rules, so he understood why there were numerous signs at the park asking visitors not to feed the animals. But as a journalist, he also understood that a disturbingly large number of people are complete idiots. This point was underlined when monkeys attacked his car, hungry for the treats that so many other cars had provided.
His son was reportedly delighted by the goings on.
A few days later, my dad found himself standing in front of a claims adjustor, trying to explain that the damage caused to his vinyl roof had been caused by monkeys with a serious case of the munchies.
"I have no idea what coding system I'm supposed to use for that," the claims adjustor said.
Claire Adams, however, would have understood. Then a police officer would likely have shown up and commanded her to "Put down the monkey and step away."
Maeve and Liam are two of my favorite people. They run an Irish shop a few blocks down from my apartment.
I went in this morning to pick up another box of tea and idly commented that the usual display of candies was not by the cash register. I said this not because I actually wanted any candy, but because I wanted to subtly brag that I was a regular visitor to the shop, capable of recognizing little changes in the store's layout. Because, like all Americans, I want Irish people to like me.
"It was so hot yesterday, I took them downstairs," Liam said. "I'll go get them."
"No, that's OK. Really," I said.
But it was too late.
"Maeve can you come down for a minute," Liam said into an intercom, and instantly Maeve appeared and chatted amiably with me about which candies she likes the best and wasn't it hot? And I felt guilty for making Liam run downstairs to get candy that I hadn't actually wanted to buy and stared at the collection of CDs. I tried to remember the name of a band from San Diego that plays Irish-punk, but the name temporarily escaped me (Flogging Molly).
Liam returned, and I bought a Yorkie bar and a packet of Wine Gums, and sought to again endear myself to the proprietors by helping to arrange the candies display.
My "raisin and biscuit" Yorkie bar, which I had never tried before but bought on the counsel of Maeve, was delicious, and went extraordinarily well with my tea.
I have no idea why I told you that story. Regardless, you should buy some stuff from them.
This weekend marks the start of Euro 2004, a battle of Europe's best football (soccer) teams. I'm not sure if any games will be aired in the United States (I haven't checked), but if you do happen to watch a match, please be careful.
Here's a useful tip: When attempting to douse your boyfriend with lighter fluid, make sure the fluid bottle's nozzle is pointed away from you.
I'm in this picture. No, I'm not the guy in the green and blue jersey. No, I'm not the guy in the red and black jersey, either. I'm the guy in the red jacket (see my leg?), standing an inch off the touch line, screaming like a girl at a Justin Timberlake concert in excitement because Woody (the guy in the green and blue jersey) is about to score a try.
This is usually about as close as I ever get to scoring a try -- standing on the sidelines and watching someone else do it. Occasionally, I get to view a try whilst actually on the pitch, when an opposing player runs me over to score one.
My wife and I had a good time running the Grand Old Day 8K run on Sunday. It was the first run I have ever participated in. I finished at 41:35 (with a pace time of 8:22), beating Rachel's time of 44:36 (with a pace time of 8:59). I attempted to gloat about outrunning her, but my best friend, Eric, stopped me short:
"Did you win the race?" he asked.
"Did you finish in the top five?"
"So, the only thing you did do was beat your wife?" he asked.
"Dummy. You didn't win anything. Now you have to buy her flowers."
I already play rugby, so why not take on another impossibly difficult and painful sport, like Aussie Rules Football? I'm thinking about it.
I've been invited to the fourth anniversary party for Utilikilts. I won't be there, but encourage you to buy a kilt, anyway.
I really wish that I had worn my kilt out and about during Grand Old Day yesterday. It was a beautiful day. Summer comes to Minnesota in the way a relative comes to Minnesota -- it just shows up on your doorstep one morning.
Yesterday's high was 81. As I write this, it is a sweltering 91 degrees outside.
I spent much of last night at Eric's house, where he fed me with hamburgers and barbecued chicken. His older brother, Ben, is a teacher in Boulder, Colo., and is taking advantage of the last remaining perk to being a teacher -- summers off -- and spending some time back in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Ben provided us with samples of his extraordinarily good homemade beers. And on a related note, you're welcome, Colorado Education Association, for the $10 I decided to donate to your lobbying efforts. My decision had nothing to do with the effects of Ben's beer. Really.
I've noticed that "I Danced The Polka With El Cajon" is not yet showing up on a Google search. I wonder how long it takes for the All-Seeing Google Eye to notice one's blog?
I was struck by an odd phrase today: "world-famous paleontologists." Can you name one paleontologist? I'm pretty sure that guy from "Jurassic Park" doesn't count.
After just one more marriage, Jennifer Lopez gets a free pasta bowl at Noodles & Company.
I would like to propose a toast to the crazy old man pedalling a one-man surrey bicycle down Highway 5 today while I was on the way to the office this morning. Choosing to pedal your dork-mobile on a stretch of road that has no shoulder was truly a stroke of genius. I applaud your faith in St. Paul drivers' ability and desire to avoid killing you.
Last night, I got an e-mail from a producer for a TV program that she described as "Dr. Phil on the road." The subject of the e-mail had the headline of a column I wrote in 2002, and asked me simply to give her a call.
I won't give the producer's name, but my editor said her name sounded like a stripper's chosen moniker. Let's call her Divine.
She answered the phone by saying: "Who's this?"
"Uh... Divine?" I asked.
"My name is Chris Cope. You sent me an e-mail asking me to call you. I assume it's about a column I wrote."
Somehow Divine had read this column and decided that I was in the military and stationed many miles away from my wife. She wanted her "Dr. Phil on the road" to set things right.
"That's not what the column was about at all," I said.
Divine was then forced to confess that she had not, in fact, read the column at all. She just saw the headline and thought it was sad.
When I reported back to my editor on how the phone call had gone, I offered a less than favorable opinion of Divine's professional capacity.
"She was up late pole-dancing. Give her a break," he said.
On a related note, I would suggest that any advice offered on this show be taken with a grain of salt.
A guy's talents are simply being wasted if he can break out of jail using only a fingernail clipper.
Every time I go to the doctor I end up sitting, quietly and bored, in the patient examination room for at least 30 minutes. Eventually I find myself staring at the cabinets, wondering what's in them. But I never look, because I'm afraid the doctor would walk in and I would get in trouble -- lots and lots of trouble.
Here's some comforting news: Most people are simply too dumb to follow the instructions necessary to save you life.
"OK, wait. So, when you say that I've got to breathe for him, do you mean that in a sort metaphorical sense?"
I mentioned before -- and will no doubt mention again and again -- that on June 26, I will be a guest on WJFK's The Wedding Show. This weekend I mentioned the appearance to my mother, and she said: "Oh, you can wear your kilt."
"It's a radio appearance, mom," I said.
"Oh. Well, you can tell them you're wearing a kilt."
Many people (and when I say "many people" I mean "no one at all") say to me: "Chris, you are a true master when it comes to the Internet, apart from your blog, of course, what other blogs should I read every day?"
Well, Grasshopper, there are many. But one instantly comes to mind: The Bagpiping Report
Hola. I'm Chris Cope, author of the books The Way Forward and Cwrw am Ddim. I'm originally from Austin, Texas, but through a series of terrible and wonderful events called "life," I now reside in Her Majesty's United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland -- specifically the bit that is Penarth, Wales. Occasionally I write things.