Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Chill

Is it snowing yet?

Autumn. It has always been my favorite season. Growing up in the Midwest, the cool air of October has always been a welcome respite from the humidity and heat of summer. It's also a prelude to the frost, but that isn't at the forefront of my thoughts when the colors begin to change and cozy nights shrouded beneath blankets bring incredible sleep. Of course I have spent the last 8 years away from the risk of frostbite and shoveling. It's easier to welcome the autumnal air in its crisp delight when there is no impending brutal winter. Nashville in fall was incredible and the eventual winters mild.

But now me and my seal pup of a dog are going to experience our first real winter. For me it's been 8 years, for her a lifetime. Nashville only had the rare snow flurry. In our time there together Taylor only had a single opportunity to frolic in white fluff, and it melted within hours. We did make one visit to Chicagoland in February. As I recall, the temperature was single digits and the short dog was up to her belly in icy whiteness.

Winter will have to wait. For now, I still have the windows open and am able to achieve a deep slumber beneath the weight of several blankets. It's a great time to sleep and I love sleep. As a second-shifter of sorts, with bedtime often at about 3 am, it is blissful to lie comatose until 10 am surrounded by a cool breeze.

The worse part of cool weather for me is the whole long pants thing. Trousers. Slacks. Jeans. I wore shorts 365 days a year in Tennessee. And I just now put on jeans.

On other subjects, since I haven't written in a couple of weeks:

1) We toured the Lakefront Brewery a couple of weeks ago. Bill and I are going to go again today. Bill has lost track of how many times he's gone, but it is more than a dozen. It's great beer, especially the Pumpkin lager, and a fun place to visit. It's not anything like other brewery tours and it begins with a beer, more beer in the middle, and more at the end. Plus a pint glass. For 6 bucks. Try that at a bar.

2) I do want a canoe. And a bike.

3) The three other items on the Great List of Five Possessions I Need to Find Money To Buy Some Day are: a new Mac laptop, a nice digital camera and an electric guitar. But I really want a canoe. And a bike.

4) We've been busy with events/parties at MAM and I enjoy my mixology forays.

5) Bill and I have been playing disc golf every morning he's off work. I had 10 pars and 8 birdies yesterday, a performance that is far from necessary to enjoy walking in a beautiful park in early autumn with a great friend and the best dog in the world.

As always, remember to tip your bartender,


Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Memorial

Who will notice when you are gone?

I don't spend much time pondering my mortality. I certainly don't consider my legacy. And, without offspring, there isn't much to live on when I am dust. As an atheist, afterlife also doesn't enter the picture.

But last night got many tongues to wagging about life and death and who would notice our individual worldly departures.

This past September 11 (yes, 9/11), one week or so ago, two men and their pilot were killed in a small plane crash in Vilas County in northern Wisconsin. I've spent a lot of time muskie fishing in that neck of the woods. It is beautiful country and the two men were en route to their cottage on Star Lake. The men were both business and life partners. A couple together for more than 20 years. Curt and Jon, 40 and 50 years of age, respectively, operated Milwaukee's premier interior design firm and were patrons of the arts. They were benefactors of the Milwaukee Art Museum where their public memorial service was held last night. 1000 people were invited and well over half that number attended. Maybe 999. I had less than 30 at my wedding.

Now I don't know about you, but I doubt I have met one thousand people in 44 years of life. It was incredible to see how many turned out for the service. These guys had obviously touched many people and lived life to the fullest.

Not that there is anything wrong with anonymity. I don't want to give the impression that I am bemoaning the fact that a memorial service for me wouldn't require the space of MAM's Windhover Hall. But sometimes perspective smacks you upside the head. And our catering crew last night, who laid out hundreds of rows of candles perfectly aligned with flutes of rose champagne for the mourners, couldn't help but talk about how popular the two gentlemen who perished in that plane near their weekend getaway truly were, and whether our own lives have touched others. Maybe we were just passing time before clearing the empty glasses.

“If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character...Would you slow down? Or speed up?” - Chuck Palahniuk


The Whirlwind

I have a confirmed third reader.

It has been a website week. The shiny new TARANTULAS.com website I created was launched earlier in the week and I launched my new Exotic Fauna website this morning. Both are state-of-the-art XHTML/CSS thingamajigs. The T.com site is a complete overhaul of a site T.com owner Alex Orleans launched in the mid-90s. Since I am still working with him and T.com, and the designer of the original site has long left this spinning Earth, it was time to create a fresh web presence. As the new site showcases the clean tableless CSS layout that most sites use today and I have been studying, I felt it was time to upgrade the EF site to match. Please visit both sites and shoot me an e-mail at exoticfauna[at]gmail[dot]com if you have any comments.

I won't expound too much today on my magazine and DVD projects and how I let them wither. I have to be brief as I need to shower and shave for my gig at the museum tonight. For now I will just say that I have been thinking of ways to resurrect them for months now and have kicked some ideas around with Billy over the past week.

Suffice it to say that the buggery DVD that wouldn't play in all but MY OWN DVD player has been converted to a QuickTime computer movie. I can't afford to have it professionally mastered for DVD player use, and I want to at least get it out there, especially to those who ordered the faulty original. I was further motivated by my creation of the aforementioned TARANTULAS.com site. I tried to add as much content as possible, focusing on frequently asked questions from beginners. Of course, this was also self-serving as I grow very tired of answering the same questions over and over via email. So, through the process of adding written care information to get the neophyte tarantula keeper headed in the right direction, I decided to add a Care Videos page and I uploaded four excerpts from my DVD project to YouTube and embedded them into the page. The same clips are embedded into the Video page on the Exotic Fauna page. So, I have now started the ball rolling on getting the footage I spent a great deal of time with before I left Nashville out for public gawking.

As for ARACHNOCULTURE magazine, creating the seven print issues was quite an accomplishment. I will always be proud of them and the positive feedback they received worldwide. But producing them was cost-prohibitive and labor-intensive so I am now focused on an E-Zine version that will be available online. I haven't worked out all the details, but it will likely be available as a password-protected download at no cost to my past paying readers and at a nominal fee to new readers. Since the magazine was small format [half page], I am currently laying out the most recent issue as a full page PDF file and will take it from there.

I just realized that this post was actually on-topic; at least about exotic animals if not about kissing large hirsute arachnids. I will have to return to disc-golfing, brewery-touring, movie-going and longing for a canoe and bicycle in my next vomitous blog. See you then, MJ

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Unneutered Cat

Allow me to spray like an unneutered male cat:

1] Mexican music is absolutely horrendous. Just vile, annoying, utter crap. Blaring brass and freakin' accordions in chaotic entropy. And, boy, do they like it loud. I'm far from a xenophobe or ethnocentrist. I'm just stating fact. When you live in a Hispanic neighborhood, between the music and the Mexican doorbell (aka beeping a car horn for five minutes instead of walking up to a door and knocking like a civilized person) you will lose your mind. One day I will play some Norwegian black metal at the same volume and I expect the police to haul me away.

2] Who is my audience? So far, all I know is my mother and an ex-girlfriend-of-sorts has popped in here. Is there anybody out there? I'd write more often if I had a readership. Or maybe I should abandon this project... TOO!

3] OK, you won't believe this... as I am typing this a car raced up in front of a neighbor house and blared the horn. I wish I was deaf.

4] Happy Birthday to my sister Lisa who turns, well... one year younger than me [shouldn't disclose women's ages], tomorrow!

5] And Happy Birthday to my parrot Jesse! She is 18. She doesn't mind if I tell. I don't know her exact hatch date, but it was right around the middle of September so I use my sister's birthday as Jesse's for convenience's sake. And my sister's son Alec is 18, the same age as Jesse so it makes it real easy for me to remember. I have had Jesse since December of 1990 when she was still being weaned from hand-feeding formula. She's a Dusky Pionus [Pionus fuscus] and shows no signs of aging.

6] I've turned Billy on to my favorite outdoor activity - disc golf - and we have been playing quite often. In fact, on Labor Day we played 3 times on 3 different courses. The PDGA website [pro disc golf assoc.] has a course directory and there are plenty around Milwaukee. The site lists 2700 around the country! We've been playing mostly at Abendschein Park just south of the airport. It's a beautiful course and the other day Taylor joined us for some fresh air and sunshine.

7] I'm now working at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I do bartending and serving at special events. Last night I bartended at a gallery opening, Monday we had a corporate dinner for 315 people and last Friday we had a wedding party for 160. The museum is beautiful and the view of the lakefront is incredible. The staff is great and it's just good to get out of the house. We've been fortunate to enjoy some of the good food at the end of the evening, not to mention a little leftover vino!

8] Tonight Bill and I and hopefully some young ladies will be going to the Lakefront Brewery for a tour. Lakefront makes some wonderful beers. The Riverwest amber lager is a new personal favorite and the seasonal pumpkin lager that they have right now is delicious. It's the only pumpkin lager in the US; all others are ales. Their tours are supposed to be very entertaining and we're doing the fish fry before or after so it ought to be a nice night.

Until next self-indulgent post to myself and 2 others, MJ