Friday, August 31, 2007


Alright . . . rain, big city, people, the Tokyo Hotel on State and Ohio. Tourists and stock brokers, umbrella-wielding data-entry thirty-somethings looking smug as they saunter down the street, dry in the rain, alternateens walking briskly in their Ragstock, Belmont best, city-dwelling trail devils apparently oblivious to their sopping wet Kelty packs, d.i.n.k.s with Old Navy bags, limos and leather jackets, couriers internally screaming "BANZAI" as they steam the streets with their blazing wheels.

There is a frozen drink beside me which gives me a headache when I drink it. It cost me $3.75. How often do we consider it a pleasure to pay for pain? The Gap just walked by, all tight sweater and nylon, urban-styled, navy attache case/bag/thingy, hair shaved and spiked like an ad campaign on legs.

The rain has stopped. Smiles are appearing - a large, black woman and a small Asian man are laughing together. They're behind me, ordering some form of caffeine. Who are the unique? The homeless. All dignity has been stripped and abused and drugged and frozen and cooked out of them . . . human beings whose outer shell is paradoxically both fragile and calloused. Hopeless and hardened. Fences made of communion wafers - how many people care?

I keep drinking my $3.75 Tiazzi.

How long has that fragile girl been in a wheelchair? She handles it well. I need paint. Guess I'd better get going before it starts to rain again.
Installment Three of Tyler's Tot Terrors:

When I first saw this movie, I teetered on the precipice of abject terror, barely daring to breathe lest each breath become a scream. I give you . . .

The Secret of Nimh. I know. It's rated G. I saw it during the Fall Party at Bethany Fellowship in Bloomington, MN. This was the same Fall Party in which I got my neck zipped into my Wrangler jean jacket by my Auntie Carrie. I think I was four.
The culmination of the evening, after all of the kids were nearing maximum sugar saturation, was the movie in the community dining room. They set up a screen and a projector in the corner of the room. I was so excited to watch a cartoon that would last longer than a Bugs Bunny short - I imagined how much fun it would be - but then the movie began. Eerie, creepy . . . a gnarled hand, claws clutching a quill, moves slowly toward an inkwell - an inkwell that produces sparkling gold ink! A breathy, ethereal voice narrates as, not beautiful gold ink, but mysterious ink drifts from the well. Ink is black or blue. Not swirling and golden. And it CERTAINLY doesn't make the page you are writing on flash like fire! What kind of movie is this?!
The mysterious clawed hand then produces a strange medallion with a red gem in the middle. How odd.
That's when the title comes up. "The Secret of Nimh."

In this movie, there are many vicious and frightening characters, and all of them seem bent on some sort of mad destruction of something. Even the good guys are scary. Especially that Owl. If you've seen the movie, you know what I mean. Downright diabolical. I have sense memory of clenching my jaw shut in a grimace and averting my eyes to find something . . . anything! . . in the dark on which to devote my attention. Good luck when the only light source is the very thing that I'm trying NOT to look at.

Not too long after I was traumatized by that movie, I discovered my own little secret. In my mom's jewelry box, I found a gold medallion with a red gem in the middle. To my young eyes, that was the very same necklace as the one in the movie. I used to sneak into my parent's bedroom and pull the necklace out to look at it. It would give me a terrific thrill, and I would place it back into its spot, my heart fluttering wildly. As I grew older and the memory of the movie faded, I stopped looking at the necklace. It no longer made sense. The second I realized that it wasn't from the movie, it became uninteresting, even a little bit embarrassing, to think that the jewelry box held any secrets at all. It was just jewelry, not magic.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Part 2 of the Films/Videos that scared the snot out of me as a kid.

It's tough to decide which one to share next. Having found so many of my childhood nightmare videos online, I just want to post them all. Patience . . . patience . . . So here's the next installment:

Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster. I remember hiding behind the black vinyl rolling chair in my dad's den while my siblings watched this during some sort of Saturday matinee. Occasionally, I'd need to dart into the living room to escape, but I'd keep coming back. I wanted to be cool like my brother and sister, but I was acting about as uncool as could be . . . and for good reason. Conflicting emotions!
Listen to the sound that the smog monster makes - a psychedelic wheeze with some sound engineer in Kyoto manhandling the phase knob. Absolutely frightening. And look at that! All it has to do is fly over the people and they drop down, polluted and dead. No warning. No fighting back. Very scary to a three year old.
Even the way that thing moves; its lurching, slouchy gliding was not ok with me. Nothing should move like that.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm on a mission. An exorcising mission. I'm searching online for all of the videos that used to scare me as a little boy. Someone's bound to have posted a few of them, at least. Here's a good start:

The part that would get me in this cartoon was when the skeletons' skulls remain stationary while their bodies do a weird, gravity-defying, synchronized sweeping motion on the ground. This freaked. me. out. It just seemed wrong. Not only are dancing skeletons scary, but the fact that they are not bound by the same laws of physics that we are gave them a femur up on us young fleshy types.

When I first saw this, I was at the Decathlon Athletic Club during a brunch of some sort. There was a kiddie room/holding pen with a TV. This was on it. I remember bolting from the room when those skeletons started waving around. I would have none of that.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Here's an interesting online calculator. It determines how much you would need to consume of your favorite caffeinated beverage for it to kill you.

Apparently, I am 1/50th of the way to kicking the bucket. Why, it would only take 98.31 more cups - mere gallons - to cause my demise!
Of course, it only takes a few pints of sea water to drown, but that's not the point. I don't willingly ingest sea water on a daily basis. I guess if I ate 12 whole turkeys, that'd probably kill me too. So you there, with your seventieth cup of espresso - you've got one foot in the grave already. Put it down!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I know that this is a couple days after the fact, but I wanted to share this with y'all. Our nation recently celebrated National Night Out. I'll let the website explain what it is. The purpose of the day is tertiary to my reason for this blog.

On the left, you may behold the Night Out Knight! After all, what would a national community building/edumacational program be without a mascot, eh? The following, then, is my ode to the Night Out Knight.

"Knight Out"

Lights out!
When the Night Out Knight's out.
Why pout?
Tout the Night Out lout
When you're out
At night.

He's the Night's Knight.
A nice Knight.
Give a shout out loud
For the Night Out Lout
Whose clout's about right
For a Knight out now.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Today's one of those days where I can't get a particular event out of my head, and I don't think I'm alone in this. Even though I'm halfway across the country, I feel a certain resonance with yesterday's bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

Maybe it's because I still have many friends there and I was concerned about their safety.
Maybe it's because it's where I grew up; a great tragedy like this usually strikes a blow at happy memories of innocent days, driving home the fact that we live in a world that is constantly changing (read: decaying and in need of repair) - a vessel that is unable to hold the soup of our nostalgia due to the incessantly developing cracks.
Maybe it's because I've been driving across legendary bridges today - The Bay Bridge (which has recently suffered a collapse of its own), The Golden Gate - and one cannot help but think of plunging down into the water . . . not in a nervous, "it could happen to me" sort of way, but to look out at the water and for a moment understand how truly terrifying it must have felt to have the world simply drop out from underneath the tires of the 50 or so cars that fell along with the I-35W bridge.
I'm not sure I would have enough time to comprehend what had happened. That's probably a good thing - there's no time to be upset. One survivor said that one second he was driving along as usual and seconds later he was staring at the ground forty feet below through his windshield. His one thought was, "I'm going to die" but would you know why? Would you have time to think, "Well, I guess the bridge collapsed. What are the chances?"

There's an excellent vlog of the aftermath here. It does well at capturing the atmosphere surrounding the event - incredulity, morbid curiosity, and relief. Keep your eyes peeled for the little boy who glances off of the bridge at the Mississippi below. You know exactly what he's thinking, what we're all thinking.