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My Big Red Couch

Friday, April 29, 2005

When The Other Olive Drops - Part 2

I got home and read what I sent (hey, I wrote it while giving my Geomatics final and, in all honesty, my students were my focus and I lost track of my writing). Here is my attempt, however lame it may be, to get the story back on track and hopefully capture the big Big BIG prize (a paycheck and a license to drink).

Lynne -

My sincerest apologies on the disjointed nature of this story but such is
(my) life. I blame my (self) Editor on the incomplete nature of my last post (aka I left out the good part). Isn't it funny how you can get distracted by a fact of lesser importance in the middle of a good story?

I'm back at a computer where I can transcribe this morning's rapid fire exchange of digital communication (e-mail) that lead me to where I am now:

Val (not necessarily her real name) - It is true that men are just as catty as women. (Um, you don't want to know; I was talking about somebody's thighs) Oh - that reminds me - the ANC PRESS is looking for a "night life/Anchorage life" writer.

Swank (a pseudonym) - I’m not being “catty,” I’m merely responding to rumors I have heard. As for the “night life” writer job, whose martini do I have to drop an olive in to get that one?

JEQNL (I'm only allowed to use her initials due to the sensitivity of her position with the government) - Damn, that would be a great job - writing about Anchorage night life - how many times could you make up new stories about SubZero though?

Swank - How many olives are in a jar? How many jars of olives are there?
That’s how many stories I could write about SubZero, et al. Should I?

JEQNL - Absolutely - it should take very little time? Free entrances and drinks in bars - sounds great! (It sounds like somebody is angling for the unadvertised sidekick job)

Swank - Val, there’s nothing on the Press’ website. Where did you hear they are hiring?

Val - I have a copy at home, I'll bring it to you Saturday.

Swank - Bring it on Saturday? HAW. I’m getting’ a copy @ lunch.

Val - It was kinda towards the back - you know, next to the PRESS' version of "Dear Abby". (maybe, just maybe, she WASN'T using it for her kitty)

(All this was exchanged during work so inserting the above after the work description makes the most sense)

Anyhow, (And this ties back in to the part where my friend was using the Pressonals to wiper her kitten's bottom) I wandered into the Press offices after the film vignette but between fetching the Motorcycle Awareness bumper stickers and administering my UAA final exam. It was 2:15pm, April 29th. I shall remember that moment for the rest of my life. That was the moment I saw "her." I don't know "her" name but she was there, in the Press office, doing something. Her. (heavy sigh).

Tangential. Sorry. I'll clean this up in a few lines.

I know Delana from various two wheeled run-ins (figuratively) and had she not been in the middle of selling a 40 page ad to somebody (or maybe hooking her up with that bondage guy on page 40; I may not have eavesdropped
correctly) she would have marched me straight to your desk for an introduction and my first royalty check. This gig pays, right?

I'm not good with names. I remember faces and the places they're attached to but I suck at names. I'll usually hang on to a bartender's name but only for a few weeks unless they have heavy wrists and a generous pour. The woman at the desk didn't know if the position had been filled. I didn't think to ask if there was a deadline (a paper with a deadline? Psha!).

I had looked at the current issue (am I being redundant yet?) and she pulled last week's paper. She was sure it was in there but after a minute or two she couldn't find it. She pulled the issue from the week before and there, in all its dithered glory, was my salvation in a few lines. Perhaps not my salvation but a golden opportunity to show off a few five dollar words I learned in school (I have used a couple haven't I?). Subsidized drinking.
I'm all for it.

Nick rolled by (why's he in a wheel chair?) and Delana asked, "did we fill that Nightlife position yet?" "I don't know," and he wheeled off. "You'd think he knows what's going on around here owning the place," the stoner kid on the couch said (I wasn't properly introduced and he did have that Spicoli from Fast Times look about him). "He's the Publisher," I corrected.
"That's more responsible than being owner."

I'm sorry that we did not meet today but I'm sure the persuasiveness (again the spell checker has saved me; I typed "persuavness"; so much for suavity) of my e-mails will have you calling with an offer for steaks at Club Paris for lunch on Monday (hint, hint).

I have a question. Do I use parenthesis too much? Is that a problem?

And if you've gotten to this line (yes, I know you're not supposed to start a sentence with and but I couldn't resist) then I'm impressed with my bad self (I typed "bab self" but my spell checker caught it; whew).

Honestly, had I known (before I got out of bed today, before doing two radio station call-ins and two in-studio appearances, before volunteering for the Board of Directors for two vastly different non-profit organizations, before talking myself into believing I can teach at the college level, before over committing myself) or at least paid a little more attention I could have done something that wasn't so slapdash.

In summation, I hope that this has arrived in a timely enough fashion. Had I been made aware of the deadline earlier than this morning I would have met it, guaranteed. Give me a deadline. I'll meet it.

I still haven't written about drinking. I still haven't had a drink. Send me someplace (with an expense account); I'll bring you back gold.

- Jon

Same place as before.
Call me. xxx-xxxx

Correction: In the previous message the phone # line should have read:
(907) xxx-xxxx cell; always on; not always answered

Note: Dictionary.com was accessed 8 times in the slapdashing of this piece.

PS - I'm driving to Fairbanks on Sunday to deliver a used sidecar to it's new owner. He's paying cash. I can put together a road diary and send it to you early next week unless you're already sick of me.

PSS - Can two e-mails (of this nature) in one day be construed as either Harrasment or Stalking (in a legal sense)? :-/

PPSS - I'm posting all this to my blog for the vicarious thrill of it all.

Wish me luck.

When The Other Olive Drops - Part 1

Val dropped a bomb in my lap this morning. The Anchorage Press has created (or vacated) a job with me written all over it. Here is my submission by way of application. Read on:

Lynne -

I may be a day late and a cliché' short but I'm giving this my best shot.

A dear friend noticed your ad for Nightlife Correspondent last evening when browsing though her litter box (there's no accounting for taste) and mentioned it to me in passing this morning. Assuming, incorrectly, that she was talking about yesterdays still sticky pages (at least it isn't printed in Spenard; or is it?) I ran to my closest newsstand (which happened to be the lunch counter at Cafe Europa) and tore through the pages looking for your ad. No luck. I looked twice.

Let me tell you about my day. It started around 11pm last night with a drrrty nightcap (3 parts vodka, 1 1/2 parts olive juice, 1/2 part vermouth, shaken with 6 ice cubes) and I went to bed. It was a restful rest. Not the "dreaming of puppies and kittens all warm in cuddly" type of rest nor the "after hot sex with a waitress from IHOP" kind of rest but a "getting the job done for a few hours to get up and start all over again in the morning" kind of rest. That's a cherished form of rest for me with an 18 month old, a 6 year old, a 36 year old (yeah, she's my wife but she's a handful too), 3 dogs and my in-laws occupying my basement (thankfully it's not a trailer house and we're not all forced to co-exist on the same level and by same level I mean elevation).

My alarm fires off its 5:30am welcome warble, I nail the snooze button and roll over, not to the loving embrace of my darling wife of nearly eight years but the ever popular morning comment, "if you're getting in the shower make sure you shut that thing off."

Well, it's Friday and not unlike every other Friday in my life I have too much to do today. I dress (the shower will come later) and head to work a few hours early to make room for everything else. The saving grace of this otherwise hectic day is that I will be able to spend all of my traveling moments on two wheels (BMW R1150R Rockster just in case you're interested). I left my beloved Rockster in the driveway last night to save the family from the menace of the barking dogs that are set off anytime I open the garage door so all I needed to do was grab my helmet and go. So I went.

The office doesn't open until 8am. Nobody usually shows up until 7am at the earliest. This is 6am. My office keys are on my truck keys which are still in my hat on my kitchen counter. Luckily I was able to climb through an open window to get to my desk (the odd benefit of having an early spring is that the window by my desk was open; oh joy).

My job is more of a hobby than a job. To hear my boss tell it the only reason I get a paycheck is because I'm related (thanks Dad). I barely spend any time at my desk with all my extracurricular involvements (detailed below) but I dutifully go every day even if I spend most of my day on the phone ordering bumper stickers for this, buying radio advertising for that or writing (oh yeah, I'm published elsewhere on occasion). I'm a busy man but I've got to hang my professional shingle somewhere. I am a Professional Land Surveyor. Well, that's the cover I use on my taxes anyway. It's not JUST a job; it's an adventure and it takes me to the exotic wilds. Mostly inner city wilds like Fairview and Mountain View but occasionally I get to Cordova or Bethel. I love my job but I love its flexibility more than anything.

So, the only thing on MY agenda today is writing this piece for you. Call me Gonzo (please, please) but there are other items on my schedule and I’m, no exactly dropping them but, certainly giving this more attention than some people think it warrants.

Tomorrow is the Anchorage Citywide Bike Blessing - The Gathering and being the vaguely connected scumbag) that I am (aka ABATE of Alaska Inc. Board Member I had to run errands for that (radio interviews, pick up the Watch For Motorcycle bumper stickers). I am the public relations guy (among other titles) for Men Against Breast Cancer and I have a video taping to attend for a vignette for the Breast Cancer Focus Luncheon (great food and a great cause BTW; May 11th at the Egan Center). I am an adjunct professor at UAA and I had a final to give today. Did I mention that my plate is full (cliché city, I know; I’ll work on that).

I'm not without resolve and today, a few minutes ago, I resolved to submit this damned thing and take a shot at fame and glory. Er, the satisfaction of a job well done (at the last minute). Um, the chance at a few column inches of intoxicated goodness. I'll take D) All of the above.

I could ramble on (and take that Led Zeppelin reference way too far) but I think I’ve said enough already.

I need a drink. When this final is over (yeah, I’m writing this on Gov’mnt time) I’m headed straight to Gabe at SubZero for something cool and olivy and olivy isn’t even a word.

If you need more writing samples visit www.mybigredcouch.blogspot.com

Call me anytime and we'll meet for a proper interview.

- Jon

Jonathan “Bearded Jon” Lang
Anchorage, Alaska
(907) xxx-xxxx cell; always no; not always answered xxxxxxxjon@xxxxxx.net

PS - Pick me, pick me, pick me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Hike or Die Ouzo (half Ouzo/half water) Posted by Hello

Tuesday Night Entertainment

I got a cryptic e-mail from Jamie today. Actually, several cryptic e-mail from Jamie today. Most of her e-mails to me are cryptic. That being said, the cryptic e-mail in question goes:

Subject: Two Bottles


I want to try both of these.

Ok. So I stop at the "on the way home" liquor store and pick up one of each. $26 for Ouzo and $6 for Sambuca (although in it's defense the Sambuca bottle is half the size of the Ouzo).

I walk in the door and hand the brown paper bags to Jamie. "You got these?" "When haven't I ever gotten what you wanted?" End of conversation.

She goes out and I mess with the kids (for some reason I can't ever think of myself as "taking care of" the kids; mostly I mess with them and they mess with me back) and she comes back and I uncap the Ouzo. Well no, it happens a little different.

She sits down at the dining table with me (you've got to love the convenience of a laptop and wireless internet; I do) and asks me to look up Ouzo. So I do. Lesvos: A Guide to Ouzo comes up. Here are the two paragraphs that strike me the most from this site:

I can almost remember my first ouzo 'experience'. I was a sophomore in high school attending the American school in Athens. My friends and I were at a neighborhood cafeneon, loosening up for the big dance by drinking Ouzo 12, a popular Athenian brand. Though we had all sampled ouzo before this was the first time we had come to a cafeneon with the intent of using it as our primary source of entertainment, (not counting the dance itself.) At 7:30 I knew I had enough and began walking the quarter of a mile to the school gym. I arrived there just as the buses were taking the kids home at 11:30. What happened to those four hours I will probably never know though I have always suspected that I was picked up by aliens and experimented upon before having some kind of chip implanted in me that made me unable to take school very seriously and rendered me useless for any kind of job besides being a musician and giving unsolicited advice about Greece. The purpose of this and what the aliens have in store for me I can only guess at.


Occasionally on a Sunday I will drive over to Xidera, the most remote village in Lesvos, where my wife is from, and visit with my friends who live there. Most of them are old men though there are a few my age like Thanasis the Australian. He owns the cafeneon directly across the small street from Andrea's aunt Aglaia who is the finest one burner cook in all of Lesvos and makes grand feasts for us to be washed down with ouzo. Her husband Panayotis (riding the donkey on the front page of this guide) is the village butcher so one of the staple mezes are the fried organs of whatever he has killed recently, usually a sheep or goat. I think it's the staple. Maybe she only serves them to me to get rid of them or because I told her I liked them when she served them to me once many years ago. Regardless, whenever I sit down with Uncle Panayotis and he offers me an ouzo, I know there is a spleen not far behind.

So, there's your Tuesday Night Entertainment. Jamie seems to think that it's too strong so she's reserving her portion of the bottle for the weekend. I'll see what damage I can do before dawn.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Most Beautiful Woman I Had Ever Met

For the past week or so people from my past have been popping into my head. It usually happens in the morning, around 10am. I'll be working, drinking coffee, whatever and out of the blue somebody's face or a conversation from the past will pop into my mind's eye. Is this a named phenomenon? Am I coming down with some disease/disorder?

I was at a fund raising dinner for 4A's tonight that was also a part of the favorite poem project. I heard a dozen or so poems and they were all delivered from the heart. There I was, somewhere between the main course and desert, and she popped into my head. I didn't dwell on her for long but I couldn't let the image go so here's the story.

When I was 8 I lived in Valdez, Alaska. It was 1976 and Valdez was busy building the marine terminal of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. My father worked for the only Engineering company in town and one of the engineers was from India. He had to take time off from work to go to India and get his bride, a woman he had been engaged to since shortly after her birth.

I was 8 and I knew nothing about women or sex or beauty. I only knew that it was fun to play in the woods between South Central #1 and South Central #2, both being trailer parks, or over at the Harris Sand & Gravel pit. During the pipeline construction nearly three-quarters of the population of Valdez lived in some form of housing that at one time had wheels under it in the not so distant past. I knew that the sun came up early and went down late and this was my time. One night I had angered my mother, she has told this story often, and she locked me out of the house after dinner and said “don’t come home until it’s dark.” In Valdez, Alaska in June the sun goes down behind the mountains around 10pm but it doesn’t ever GET dark, only dim. As she tells it I fell asleep on the porch and my father had to carry me in to my bed.

The engineer’s name was Hasmukh and I knew him as a small round man with big glasses and I don’t remember his wife’s name. Valdez had about 7,000 people during the construction (this dropped to about 2,500 after the terminal was completed) and whenever a new family moved in it was news. My mom was always social and was either volunteered or self appointed as the welcome wagon for the bride. “She’s coming from half way around the world. It must be a huge transition,” she said by way of offering some help.

I don’t ever recall seeing her after that summer but I do remember either being sent to her house to deliver something or going over there to get something. My friend Ben was with me or maybe it was his little brother Justin. We walked through the woods from South Center #1, where the company trailers were, to South Central #3, where the honeymoon trailer was. I remember being surrounded by these massive aluminum trailer houses, with their aluminum skirting and barrels filled with cement attached to cables that ran over the tops of them (commonly called tie-downs). There were vehicles in various states of disarray, garbage here and there and there was always somebody or something coming or going. We walked to the honeymoon trailer and I remember going up the small flight of steps and knocking on the door.

Knock, knock.

She opened the door a crack and the most wonderful smell I had ever smelled came out. It was spice. It was sweet. It was harsh. It was overwhelming. I cannot name what I smelled because I did not have the words at the time. It was otherworldly.

She opened the door more and I saw her. She was radiant. If I had to guess she was 19 or 20. She was wrapped in a colorful sari and her head was covered with a shawl. She was slight, small boned, a girl swaddled in vibrant color. She had the red dot in the center of her forehead but, even at age 8, I was polite enough to look past it. But I wasn’t looking past it. I was overcome by her beauty. I cannot describe her face because it was too radiant for me to remember. All I know is that she is what beauty meant.

I don’t think she spoke any English. I remember her motioning for us to come in. Her house could have been made of gingerbread, albeit gingerbread with wheels under it, and filled with candy as entranced with her as I was. We went in. She offered us a plate of something. It was cookie/pastry-ish and was delicious. It had a paste like texture and I know now that a lot of the flavor came from ginger. It was delicious even to my childhood palate. It was sweet but not sugary. It was spicy but not overpowering or maybe the spice smell of her trailer house took away from the cookie/pastry. I do not know.

The house was filled with large pillows and warm fabrics. It was an oasis although I did not know what that was at the time either. Ben or maybe Justin and I sat and ate and said nothing to each other, we had nothing to say, or to her, she shouldn’t have understood, and finished off the plate of a dozen cookie/pastries. She smiled as we ate and I remember whiter than white teeth between thin lips in a dark face. Beauty made more extreme with the juxtaposition in her face of light and dark

Friday, April 15, 2005

Goddamned donuts

Ok. Jamie wanted me to warn you that I've been drinking.

"Look at this again tomorrow when you're sober," she said.

This kid. He's so sad. Fuck. I want that donut, but for whatever reason he can't have it. I know the feeling.

Look for yourself. Do you agree or disagree.

hughdonut.jpg (JPEG Image, 432x337 pixels)

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