Jan 31, 2007

"Are You Sure It Wasn't A Girly Scream?"

There are a lot of terrible sensations in the world, but there is one that I am particularly attuned to, and therefore hate with every microgram of my being.

When you ride a motorcycle for any length of time, when you are a serious rider and not a weekend play-about, when you ride beyond riding you will at some time and place be riding in the cold. And by cold I don't mean 65 degrees and you need your long-sleeved T-shirt, I mean the nether regions of 35. And if you're smart, you're bundled up, layered, thermal underweared and otherwise comfortable. If you've done it really right, you're warm.

And then, one day in all that cold, with you all bundled up against the worst that a Louisiana winter can throw at you, this chill green bayou air throws you a curve.


And it's not pouring down rain. It's not a frog-strangler. It's not pouring like a blind cow pissing on a flat rock. It's not rain so thick you have to get off and walk, and it's certainly not rain of a Biblical proportion that surviving it gives you such motorcycle cred that when you arrive at your destination squadrons of archangels sing you into the garage and waft you on golden wings to your rest. No, it's just enough drizzle to make you unhappy. Enough to make it hard to see out of your visor. Enough to make the road surface untrustworthy, enough to make you take in a gear more than your used to getting through your favourite curve. And even if everything you're wearing is waterproof, even if you've spent as much as humanly possible on keeping the two hydrogen and one oxygen off of you, there's always one place that water will find:

The back of your neck.

It'll do so in the middle of that evening that you happened to get caught in 35 degree temps. You'll be driving home, idling along being safe, high-beam on, every nerve taut and alert for danger. The years of rubbing lanolin and neet's foot oil into your favourite leather jacket has paid off, the overpants are beading and repelling water like they've just been Turtle Waxed, the rubber covers are keeping the damp away from zippers and other openings, you've closed every vent on your helmet and you're just starting to realise that this time, this freak rain-storm in the middle of winter, This Time you're Going To Be Dry.

And then the unthinkable happens.

That first frozen drop has been imbued by all that is chill and unholy with the very essence of cold. That drop holds within itself endless Russian hinterlands, mammoth glaciers lurking just under frigid waters, the very frost upon a penguin's arse. That icicle-cold finger slips sensually around the curve of your helmet, slithers it's frostbite way past your layers of collars and leather and lanolin and scarves and thermal underwear, squirms skinward with all the boneless effort of quicksilver on a sheet of glass until it falls with the finality of a funeral bell's toll upon the back of your bare, innocent, and very warm neck.

I don't think I've ever squealed loud enough to deafen myself before today.

Jan 30, 2007

Raping The Language

Okay, peeps, if you're gonna send email to the entire corporation, at least make sure that your grammar, usage, sentence structure and other high points of grade school English are up to snuff? Please?

From corporate:

"Here is a specific update on the slowness enhancements that will be released today and the work that will be performed tonight."

Slowness enhancements. Okay, as it stands right now the network is so painfully slow that if it speeds up it'll break into a standstill. Now you're telling me that you're going to ENHANCE that slowness. Does that mean the network is going to start doing that Steve Austin "running top speed in slow motion" thing? When I print is the printer going to start making the "nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh" sound? Or are we going to have to endure a sort of phantasmagoric trail of slowly fading images from behind each monitor as we process the day's visit paperwork?

I can see the inter-office memo now: "All the pleasures of an LSD-induced trip without all the visits to your local dealer!"

Jan 29, 2007

Twenty Four Posts And A Wake Up

I've made 975 posts since the inception of this blog. Some good, many mediocre, a few truly bad ones, and maybe one or two of those posts has touched someone out there.

I find here of late that I'm falling back pretty fast on my posting. There was a time when I was firing off two posts a day, it seemed, and more were fighting tooth and claw to get their air time. Now I seem to be doing good to manage once every few days. And it's not that there are fewer stories floating around in my head; they're still there, still jostling for attention. I think, however, that I have taken a step away from writing whatever enters the hallowed halls of my mind, and taken one toward filtering a little bit, taking out the absolute detritus, with the intent of finding more pearls to deliver.

And maybe I'm just a lazy sod.

Jan 28, 2007

Fifteen Minutes Of Fame Revisited: Twenty Six Seconds

That's how long the local news interview lasted on the six o'clock edition, and three of those precious seconds were focused on the dog.

Belle's first show is part of history now, and we're moving forward. It was a real joy to attend a dog show I have been to almost every year for ten years now as an exhibitor, not a spectator. To show a beautiful, promising dog in the ring was unexpected: in all the years I've attended and watched dog shows I never saw myself owning one of those dogs, but here we are, here she is. And it was a genuine pleasure.

Well, it was raining, but that's to be accepted. It's been raining for months now, it seems. We had a tremendous moral-support group show up, too. Family, friends, even co-workers came to cheer Mrs. Irrelephant and Belle along, and to offer support and pats on the head. Belle adapted very quickly to the noise and confusion, as did Mrs. I., and we even walked away with two ribbons.

I've had a lot of learning to do concerning how exactly a dog show is run and the winners awarded and advanced. If you'd like to learn I'd suggest a search of the AKC site, because I'm not even going to try to describe it, seeing as my own knowledge is still wearinging it's caul. Suffice to say that if you show up for an exhibition and yours is the ONLY dog in it's class you can still be dismissed or simply not awarded anything. The judges are not required to give anything away, and if you don't earn the ribbon you don't GET the ribbon. So it was with some small pride that Belle and Mrs. I won Best Bitch (9-12 months old) and Best of Winners since there were no other dogs competing against us in Regular Class.

We knew our only competition would be fierce, though, going forward. Belle and a four year old Open Class Champion bitch Ksar Majenkir My Fair Lady, "Gwenevere," were the only two Borzoi entered, but we were game, and we were naturally trounced. But, and I'm going to honk our own horns here, we were gracious losers. Gwen was gorgeous, and she was well-shown, and one day perhaps we'll trounce HER. *s* And we were good ambassadors of the breed--we stopped many, many times so people could approach Belle, pet her, and ask questions about the breed and what it was like to keep a 70 pound horse in the house with six cats and a four pound Papilion. Rita taught us that a few friendly words can change a person's direction in life, and we took that lesson to heart.

Piebald is beautiful. Belle is still in what Rita calls "her puppy uglies." Her coat is half adult, half puppy, and half missing, so she looks, as Mrs. I. calls it, "like she's wearing a toupee on her shoulders." But the judge yesterday did compliment Belle on her teeth and her overall presentation, and commended Mrs. I for showing Belle "out of coat." I guess that's a nice way of saying "My gawd she looks piebald but hey, kudos on having the balls to be seen in public with her."

So. Two ribbons to our name, zero points, and another show today at noon, this time against a number of other Borzoi both in and out of Belle's class. If nothing else it'll be interesting, we'll meet some new people, it'll be another good learning experience for all of us, and who knows, maybe we'll win against some other, equally puppy uglies! Pictures and hopefully some video to follow.

Belle, come on, it's time to brush your toupee.

Jan 26, 2007

Fifteen Minutes Of Fame

Well, we made the local paper! Woot!

Let the grooming begin: Alexandria Kennel Club show attracts dog enthusiasts of all ages
By Bill Sumrall
(318) 487-6417

Briana Stokes is only 6.

But Briana's grandmother Nancy Stokes already describes her as a third-generation dog enthusiast and handler.

Stokes is the Alexandria Kennel Club's show chairwoman. And since Stokes is in charge of the AKC's annual dog show this weekend at the Rapides Parish Coliseum, Briana won't be participating.

Besides, she's still learning the ropes.

"I'm grooming her (Briana) as I did our boys," Stokes said, referring to her sons, Alan Stokes Jr., who is Briana's dad, and Michael Stokes, Briana's uncle.

"I know a number of children that have started out as young as Briana and now are professional handlers. It is quite a wonderful sport as far as all ages."

Dog groomer Mrs. Irrelephant, 25 and her husband Mr. Irrelephant, 39, are new to the sport.

Mrs. Irrelephant will be showing her 9-month-old female Borzoi -- a Russian wolfhound called "Belle," whose registered name is "Aria Svora Cascabel" -- at this weekend's show.

"This will be her first show and my first show," said Mrs. Irrelephant who remembers watching the Westminster Dog Show on television as a child.

"I've always loved animals and I've always been interested in dog shows. There's something special about a well-bred dog," she said. "It's a very old sport, a very traditional sport."

Mrs. Irrelephant said a lot of people don't really think it is something they can do.

"It's a little hard to get into the sport but if you talk with people and study, it can be a family affair and not just for professionals," she said.

In fact, she introduced the sport to her husband and he'll be her back-up handler for Belle at the show.

When Briana turns 9, she can show in the Junior Showmanship category of the Alexandria Kennel Club Show, where the dog handler, not the dog, is judged on her skills and knowledge.

Until then, she'll keep practicing with her 8-month-old smooth-coat female Chihuahua nicknamed "Nikki" -- registered as "StokesRidges In The Nik Of Tyme" -- and a 1-year-old long-coat male Chihuahua nicknamed "Zeek," whose registered name is "StokesRidges Sir Durbin."

However, in the next couple of months, Briana will start showing in the Confirmation category, where it is the dog that is judged, not the handler.

"From there, she (Briana) will start her own (dog breeding) line," Stokes said, like her father and uncle, who bred their own line of French bulldogs and boxers.

What's fun about this is that Mrs. Nancy Stokes, the grandmother and chairperson in charge is the same lady I mentioned a few posts back who has been training us in ring etiquette, etc. and who surprised us with her position with the local club.

Small Interweb, isn't it?

Jan 23, 2007

Hijinks Ensued

"I likes my coffee like I likes my women - cold and bitter."
Commented by starbuck on 1.23.07 at Masculinity And It's Discontents.

"I like my coffee like I like my Secretary of State - light brown and just a little sweet."
A drunk Geo. W. Bush on "American Dad."

"I like my wine like I like my women - ready to pass out."
Robin Williams - "Reality, What A Concept."

"I like my coffee like I like my women - in a plastic cup."
Eddie Izzard, commedian.

As culled from the Interwebs--

"I like my coffee like I like my women - ground up and stored in the freezer."

"I like my coffee like I like my women - warm, wet, and with a spoon in 'em."

"I like my coffee like I like my women - drunk."

"I like my coffee like I like my women - dark, sweet, creamy, and with a splash of liquor."

"I like my coffee like I like my women - easily available on any streetcorner."

And my all-time favourite?

"I like my coffee like I like my women - tied up in a burlap sack and dragged through the Andes behind a donkey."

Go on, take a stab--you know you want to.

Jan 22, 2007

Iron Horses Couldn't Drag Me Away

I love watching the trains go by.

I've always been fascinated by trains; they never fail to give me an almost drug-like rush, and my job is an enabler. There's nothing separating me from trainspotting except six lanes of traffic and a stand of scrub trees that line the tracks running parallel to the interstate. Add to that lots of open space intervening between me and the tracks some quarter of a mile or so out my front door and I'm set. My front windows give me plenty of view and three or four times a day I get to pause for a few moments and watch them labour past.

I wrote this yesterday morning while under the spell.

I was just now sitting here, watching three huge diesel engines pulling a train of what looked like coal cars along the tracks, and they were just barely creeping along, far slower than a walking pace. They were building up speed slowly, these three ugly, brutish machines, their cars loaded and heavy, and the ground and the air were vibrating in sympathy with their struggle.

I was wondering what it would be like if I could have been standing there beside the tracks as they came lugging and rumbling along. What it would feel like in the ground and in my chest, and how I might keep up for just a while walking along beside them, my shoes crunching in the grey gravel alongside the ties. What would I feel if I reached out a hand to touch one's flank, and let the fierce growling and clanking seep into me, in through my skin. I wonder if I would become a channel, a conduit of all that energy barely held in check, circling through my arm into my body, out my feet and into the ground, there to return through huge steel wheels, up through diesel engine and back out the flank, into my arms again.

Life hits me like that at times. I wish it did so more often.

Jan 18, 2007

And I Ran

Remember the good old 1980's? When things were so uncomplicated? I wish I could go back there again, and everything would be the same. I've got a ticket to the Moo...no wait, sorry, that's ELO's Ticket To The Moon.

Where was I?

The 1980's. Some of my most formative years. I learned a lot about Life in the 80's. I was just turning 18, and for a naive kid from the sticks there was a lot to learn about, and a lot to become confused over.

Like sex.

Up until the 80's I thought I had sex pretty well figured out. Tab A into slot B, who leads while tangoing, and I had read enough Cosmo and Redbook to know pretty much what a woman wanted from, well, everything.

And then along came the 80s, and along came MTV, and I was a ship without an anchor. Suddenly, sex was no longer simply foreplay, etc. No, according to the videos that I was watching, sex suddenly seemed to require exotic women, bizarre locales, paint, white horses running along foggy beaches, and a very extensive wardrobe which consisted mainly of slippers and pastel-coloured linen suits. Oh, and a Ferrari. Alternatively, I could score only if I wore psychotically-coloured spandex, had bleach blonde hair three feet in all directions, was disturbingly gender non-specific and had a pair of dark green Jaguars.

Keep in mind that at the time I couldn't even afford a Member's Only jacket or a pair of parachute pants. I didn't wear Izod, and I hated popped collars. I seem to recall resorting to my mainstay in clothing--loose T-shirts in a variety of basic colours and several pairs of red-tab Levis. I think the only concession to fashion I ever made was a brief flirt with a pair of hi-top Ponys, and that's because they were all I could find.

And then the 80's left me, mullet-headed, one ear pierced ("left is right, right is wrong") and quite frankly somewhat dazed and confused. What's worse, I don't think I ever got right again.

Jan 16, 2007

Why A Girl's Name?

The naming of vehicles is a fairly common pastime, isn't it. I'm always pleased and surprised at the number of people who name their vehicles.

And naturally, the naming of vehicles is a serious matter, it isn't just one of your holiday games; you may think...no wait, that's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." Sorry.

I've heard many different axioms concering the naming of vehicles. I've heard that an automatic transmission car is a man because it's easy, and therefore a standard transmission car is a woman because of the difficlty. I've heard that you sex a vehicle after you wash and dry it the first time: if the vehicle continues to drip after it's been dried it's a woman, because it's retaining water. And foremost, I've heard that vehicles, specifically boats, are given women's names by their male owners because they're always very expensive, difficult to maintain properly, give you problems when you least expect it, and the two happiest days in the relationship are the day you first obtain it and the day you finally get rid of it.

Me, I've been a long-time vehicle namer. I started out with my 1985 S-10 pickup, the one with the 10" wide tires riding on 50 series Cragar S/S rims in the back. That beastie carried the moniker "Wretched Excess." Those same tires landed me in a ditch full of floodwater one spring afternoon after hydroplaning better than any of the Miss Budweiser boats. My current truck, who only gets used when the weather is inclement carries the name "Rainy Day Rita." I've even infected Mrs. Irrelephant with the habit--her new metallic blue CX-7 crossover SUV is "Babe The Blue Ox."

My bikes have always carried names, in the same way that WWII airmen named their aircraft. A B-17G carrying number 3952-N is cold and uncaring, but Memphis Belle and Miss Behavin' will always get their aircrews home safe. In that spirit, I've ridden "The Kricket," my dark green Yamaha, and my long-ago restoration project, a 1984 VF 700 was serial number "001300," therefore becoming "Lucky" almost immediately. After that I began using the WWII motif, naming my bikes after women in my life who have been memorable enough to leave scars.

I took the name "Strawberry Bitch" off a B-24 Liberator and attached it to two red Honda bikes I owned; the first SB was a V-45 Magna, and years later my red VF-R was "Strawberry Bitch II," and carried the maiden name "Miranda," since I drove her so hard I was certain that was the rights that I would be hearing when the cops finally caught up with me.

My newest bike, the Midnight Edition Roadliner is, pretty unoriginally "Black Betty." Ram-a-lam, eh? And truthfully, thus far my ladies have kept me safe and relatively abraision-free, which is more than most of my lady friends have managed to do for me. It's a strange superstition, but it's one that I find not only harmless but very enjoyable.

So tell me--what do you call YOUR proud steed?

Jan 14, 2007

I Kid, I Kid

I spend a lot of time on here bitching about work. I guess that's to be expected, but I'm as certain as a fart in church that it gets old for you, my handful of readers. Plus, here of late I've been so busy WITH work that I haven't had the desire or time to post anything, even some bitching. So, something new.

Very early Saturday morning, while driving (I won't tell you I was driving to work, that'd spoil the ambience) I was given something to see. Something that I took to heart, something that I won't forget for a very long time.

Those of you who are religious would say that it was God-given. Those of you who are spiritual might say that it was karma. And the hunters amongst you would say something stupid about having a rifle ready, but that's just you. Me, I'm not religious, and spiritual I might be but not that much. My father was the hunter of the family, I never got that bug, but he was never so crass as to carry a rifle with him at all times, just in case wild game showed it's face. Me, I called it 'langniappe.' A little something extra, an unexpected bonus that makes you smile.

It was early Saturday morning, the sun was still blinking sleep out of it's eyes, and I was driving along the little curvy stretch of bayou that I like most on my morning ride. On my right is a big cow pasture. The grass is green, tall and thick, interspersed with huge round bales of hay slouching in the dawn, and oak trees spread their arms over the whole, here and there. It's filled with big black cows, solid black from horn to hoof, and early in the morning when the fog is thick it dampens their coats so that they look like they've just been polished. I think, on mornings like that one, that if you were quick enough you could catch sight of the bootblack, his cap jauntily askew, putting the finishing touches on a shining flank, eagerly awaiting a fat tip.

On the right is the bayou. All the rain here of late has it stretching for it's upper banks, and the winter has laid bare all the trees, so the water is visible all along it's length, where the road hugs it's side. Sometimes there's an early-rising bird, a blue heron or a white egret wading along the shallows, hoping for fresh fish, or the vee wake of a beaver or nutria swimming up the current, a furry salmon headed for better times. Sometimes the fog lies thick and close along it's surface, a white blanket hiding the red-brown water, but even when none of that happens it's still got that sweet alure that all moving water has.

I wasn't driving particularly fast, I never do in my truck. And as usual, I had my eyes open, watching for anything. Motorcycle training. That's why I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye, away off in the green. A flash of dusky orange, moving fast. It was well in front of me so I didn't have to brake, and as the fox leaped and bounded across that green I could truly enjoy the cat-like grace it displayed. It effortlessly cleared the grass time and again, trying to keep it's head high over the damp srands, dove under the cattle fence with a surety that told me he had done it many times, and sprinted across the road.

His red wasn't the crimson of a Disney cartoon fox, but the dusky red of old leaves, the bronze-orange of damp clay on a bayou bank. His tail was puffed up thick and proud, sailing behind him like the exclamation point following the joyous shout of his existence. The last quarter of his tail was black, as though he was the subject of some old Indian parable about a fox who had stood with his back to a campfire until it scorched, and it was the last I saw of him as he dove into the thicket alongside the bayou bank. He was gone from my life as quickly as he had arrived, in a flash of orange and black, and look though I might I couldn't spot him.

I carry him still. In my mind he's forever dashing across that field, moving between the slow black bulks like a bird flying between trees, dancing across the road in front of me without ever touching foot to the pavement. A thing of Nature, pure and free, unfettered by concerns of paycheck or credit card payment. A reminder that we're no more than that fox, and no less, the only difference being a few more pounds of grey meat behind our eyes. I see him still, dancing with sure and unconscious grace.

A pure expression of Life.

Jan 12, 2007

It's Peculiar How Often I Use The "Foolishness" Tag

Our computer network at work sucks. On ice. Out loud.

To prove this, Vulgar Wizard and I took turns emailng each other back and forth (which makes me wish I was a civil servant wasting my tax dollars at work by emailing my boss who sits all of twenty feet from me) and we imitated:

The Noises Our Network Makes


(That's my standard answer for everything when it breaks.)

Whiz-bang, whiz-bang, whiz-bang . . . *SPOINK*

(That's VW's standard answer for me when I use the standard answer.)

whee whee wheee wheeewheeeewheeewheeeBANGO!

(This is how I sound when I pee at work, thought it'd be a nice sound for a damaged network.)


(That's how VW sounds when...well, never mind how I know that.)

squee squee THUMP squee squee THUMP squee squee SPOING BLAT SPLODE!

(My Camaro once made this noise when a big chunk of it's tire tread came loose and beat my fender to pieces.)


(And that's how it sounds when the IT department's Black Hand Orcs team make a huge tournament win on World of Warcraft, which they play using our servers.)

Jan 8, 2007

Nietzsche Pops!

The new breakfast cereal straight outta Germany! Put some Ubercereal on YOUR table!

"The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything."

Jan 7, 2007

One More Thing To Do With Your Lapdog

It's been a bleak week.

Not so much emotionally...well, okay, it's been bleak emotionally too, but I'm not talking about that right now. I'm talking about the weather. You see, if it would but drop some 20+ degrees it would be snowing lovely bayou-green snow, instead of raining. It's rained for days now, it seems, and rained for days before that. It's gotten so marshy in my back yard that I simply cannot walk anywhere without sinking into the earth a few feet, and poor Belle comes in looking like she's been dragged tail-first through a sewer pipe, but that's only because she loves to run full-speed in large orbits just inside the fence, slinging mud up like a late 70's Bronco in a swamp.

Naturally all this water and slogging and mud-flinging is keeping me firmly ensconced in the house, and quite frankly I've gotten a bit cabin fevered. Since this IS the weekend and therefore the time for me to be working hard at cleaning, I started cleaning early this am. And I started with the Exmas tree.

Exmas, as you may have noticed, is over. Mrs. Irrelephant thoughtfully (but none too gently) took off all the ornaments and dazzle and such yesterday, leaving a rather piebald Douglas Fir for me to haul to the burn pile. And before any of you long-haired pinko hippies start squalling, keep in mind that I have earned the right to burn this now dead once alive tree: I spent this summer planting fifty replacements, so shove off and go bother a coal-fired electricity production station or some Christians or something.

So anyway.

Penny, if you may recall, is our Papillion.

No, sorry, that's not Penny, that's my great-aunt Isopropyl. Here's Penny, photo courtesy of Vulgar Wizard.

It's a little known fact to non-francophiles that the word "papillion" means not only "butterfly" in the French language but also "extraordinarily strong for it's tiny size." I know from previous experience this past spring and summer in the garden that Penny has a strong dirt-dog streak in her. This is of course belied by her outer princess-like behaviours, and while I never got to put my idea to the test (I could never find a single-row plow that would hook to her harness) I promised myself that when the time came I'd see just what kind of a workhorse this pampered and preened lapdog could be.

That opportunity came this morning. Mrs. I. had taken Belle down the road for their morning workout in preparation for her debut at the AKC show, and I thought that this would be the prime opportunity to test my theory. I made a slip-knot at one end of a long stretch of nylon rope and hooked it to the lowest branches of the Exmas tree, and looped the other end through Penny's body-fit harness, at the little top metal rings intended for a leash. I was pleased to be putting that ring to a much more useful...er...use. A pat on her head and a quick snap of the whip and she and I were off!

I have to tell you, I'm hard to surprise. Astounding me takes a lot. I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time...no wait, sorry, that's Blade Runner.

Where the hell was I?

So anyway, I leapt atop the tree, found myself a precarious but comfortable spot amongst the needles, joyously cracked my whip a few times and we were off! Out of the garage, down the little gravel drive that goes to my mother's house, and then the real test of Penny's mushing ability--the rain-soaked mud-gorged field. I thought for sure this would be the point at which my four-pound fearless hound would give up, but no, she plowed right into it with all the gusto of a late 70s Bronco in a swamp. Her tiny stick-legs flailing, mud flying in huge twin rooster tails, she unflaggingly dragged that tree and me the hundred yards to the burn pile. She powered through puddles leaving a frothing wake behind her, and tore through fire-ant piles with a ferocity that left even those fearless warriors trembling behind their mud-soaked hills.

I was saddened when we got to the burn-pile, but as I unhooked the rope from the tree and tossed it onto the pile an idea came to me. Seeing the excitement in Penny's eyes (through the layers of sodden hair, stinking mud, dead grass and the occasional terrified fire ant,) secured it, and I quickly arranged the necessary attachments and modifications to her harness and the rope.

I tell you now, you haven't lived until you've barefoot mud-skied behind a four pound Papillion.

Jan 5, 2007

Irrelephant In The News!

A long-lost piece of my family history is finally uncovered, as is the roots of an age-old Irrelephant family tradition: sitting on a dead horse in the middle of the street.

Posted December 15, 2006 in the Sheboygan Press.

Vintage photo of dead horse raises questions

By Janet Ortegon
Sheboygan Press staff

First of all, what's the deal with the top hat?

A vintage Sheboygan photo, taken before the turn of the 20th century, has sparked some conversation in the community since its inclusion in The Sheboygan Press' 2007 calendar.

The photo, which is inside the calendar's front cover, shows a scene at Eighth Street and Indiana Avenue, looking north toward the Eighth Street bridge.

In the photo, a dead horse lies in the street, roped off with string tied to stakes in the dirt road. A man in a top hat, bow tie and jacket sits on top of the horse, and people in the background are standing still, looking toward the camera.

"I always just assumed it was taken as a joke or something like that," said Bill Wangemann, Sheboygan city historian. "I was never able to find out anything about it. What the story behind that (picture) is, I don't have the foggiest notion."

Past attempts by reporters at The Sheboygan Press to find out the circumstances of the photo were unsuccessful, and even local experts at the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center came up empty-handed when they looked for information.

A print of the photo was submitted to the Historical Research Center several years ago, said Kathy Jeske, but there was very little information attached.

"I don't think we have any idea," Jeske said. "There's no name on it, nothing."

The photo does say, on the back, that it was taken at Eighth Street and Indiana Avenue, and that it's of a man sitting on a dead horse.

That last part might be redundant, but the photo clearly shows the entry to the Eighth Street Bridge and what is probably the Evergreen City Hotel and Saloon on the northeast corner of the intersection, near where the C. Reiss Coal building is now.

In the background is a brick and lime business and other unidentified buildings on the banks of the Sheboygan River.

Wangemann said he guesses the photo was taken between 1890 and 1900, judging by how the men are dressed and the dirt street.

Roger Prescher, 73, owner of the Charcoal Inn South, liked the photo so much he hung a framed copy in his restaurant several years ago, along with other photos of historic Sheboygan.

"We just wanted a little nostalgia," Prescher said. "I think it's kind of funny."

If anyone knows anything about the origin of the photo or has information about the scene, contact Janet Ortegon at 453-5121 or jortegon@sheboygan-press.com.

Here's the photo:

If you look very closely at the enlarged closeup below, you can see the vague similarities between me and the man whom I firmly believe is my great- great- great-grandfather, Beatadeadhorse Irrelephant.


OMG Interregnum WTH?

Is there an online slang chat abbreviation for "What The Hell?" If not there needs to be.

I'm tired. So tired. I can't believe my own first mate attacked me. No wait, sorry, that's Ren & Stimpy.

I'm not even sure where to begin this post. I've been so out of it here of late that I've not even had time to read other folk's blogs, the ones I read regularly, much less comment on them. I haven't posted here, for that matter, my own little slice of narcissistic mental masturbation, and it's pretty darn sad when I don't even have the energy to choke the pope online.

Heh. Yeah, it's still me.

So much has happened. It feels like a full moon has been hanging in the sky for the entire past week. I've had my highs (hearing the coyotes howl and bark one frosty cold morning) and I've had my lows (finding out that my director not only printed out a confidential email from me to him but he also put it in the wall pocket on his door for everyone to see) and I've slept badly because of work stress, and I've slept like the dead because I simply don't have the energy for anything else.

I found out something fun, though. My local pop station is now streaming, which means that if you really care (which I doubt many of you do, honestly) you can tune in online at 93QID and if you happen to be listening to the 80's Flashback Friday around 8:20 am CST or so you can hear me phone in and harass the DJs, and make some obscure request. Like this morning, when I had to dog the two younger disc spinners, CJ and Erin because neither of them had any idea who Joe Jackson is, nor why he was stepping out.

I weep for the next generation. As my syster said in an email this morning, they all need a good flounding.*

So I responded with "When Hell is full, the dead shall walk..." no wait, that's not what I said, that's Night Of The Living Dead.

Belle's first show is coming up at the end of the month, and I'm probably more excited than anyone in this house about it. I know I'm letting my hopes get desperately inflated, but I so want to see both her and the Mrs. do well in the ring. And, it'd be nice to add "Champion show dog owner" to my already twisted and disturbed resume', right under "Looking forward to an old age sitting on my front porch in my rocking chair shouting at the neighbor's kids to get off my lawn" and "Successful Dungeon Master and campaign builder."

Ye gods it's been a long week.

Oh, if you're reading this and of any sort of religious or spiritual bent, sent prayers, mantras, good thoughts etc. to Nancy Dancehall, who is going to have surgery on her mommy bits this coming Monday, and who is a little concerned about the whole anesthesia thing. For the whole grisly story, scroll down to the post entitled "Two Strands Of Black Pearls" because I can't get the link to work right. Sorry. Hang in there, NancyDancy, you've got friends all over these here interwebs. "Mommy Bits Monday." Now there's an idea that someone needs to grab and run with.

This weekend promises a lot of sleep and very little else. I can't freaking WAIT.

I was thinking about those coyotes the other morning, and how they're so like us. From the day we arrive on the planet and, blinking, step into the sun...wait, sorry no, that's The Lion King.

Oh, and happy 20th anniversary to NPR's Performance Today.

*Flounding: (noun, adjective, –verb (used with object)) to strike violently, forcefully and repeatedly about the head and shoulders with a flounder

Jan 4, 2007

Pipes Or Plumbing

When I was young, I was asked by many people what I wanted to do when I grew up.

I never knew, honestly, what I wanted to do, but I often flirted with two different career paths--plumbing, or gynecology. I figured that either way I'd make a lot of money and always be up to my elbows in it.

Jan 3, 2007


I don't do resolutions. Never have, but today I make an exception.

I resolve this year, 2007, the Year Of The Dizzy Wombat in the Chinese Zodiac, to be more open, forthcoming, and straight-forward in my dealings with the world.

So, it is with that in mind that I tell you, one and all, my reading public, that I am not in actuality a person, but am in fact three ducks in a person skin.

Jan 2, 2007

The Five Faces Of Irrelephant

A very little backstory.

I'm very affected by nostalgia. Sorting through my bookcases over the holiday break I kept running across old pictures of me, which sent me reeling back over the years, and plummeted me into a dark depressive spiral which ended with me waking up walking along a major highway in tattered clothing, muttering "Why me? Why me?" over and over.

Okay, so maybe not. Try this.

This morning I talked a lot of trash against Ron, one of the morning DJs at Q93 FM. I was pretty hard on him for wearing Leggs brand hosiery for women, even though he fiercely defended his case of them being men's hosiery marketed by a ladies brand. I shan't get into the arguments here, but I still think he was wearing black hose. Anyhoo, Vulgar Wizard, hearing me laughing and carrying on like I had no sense at all, took it upon herself to dog me out to the morning Q Crew by telling Ron that he was taking fashion advice from a guy who had worn women's clothing, referencing my Rocky Horror Picture Show exploits.

See, what had happened was: When I was younger, I had the blessed luck to attend four midnight airings of RHPS over four consecutive weekends, and being the sort of rabble-rouser I am, and being let down by the sheer LACK of audience participation, I and some friends of mine went to the last showing of the month in full drag.

Yes, drag.

And it is at this point that I will ask anyone with a weak stomach, uneasy constitution or a hatred of men dressed as women to stop reading and/or leave the room, 'cos I'm gonna post pictures of me for Ron, Erin and CJ here to view, in all my...er...rather hirsute glory.

But first--a pictoral history of The Man Who Would Be Irrelephant.

Here's one from, oh gods, maybe 1988? Note the carefully unkempt curls, the white streak on one side of the part (see, when I tell you I've had it since I was 18 I'm NOT KIDDING) and the somewhat stoned look. This was, I hasten to assure you, only because this photo was taken before noon. (And yes, you can clicken these to embiggen them, if you're that much a sucker.)

Circa 1994, trying to disprove that there is any hint of good taste in my body.

Fast forward to 2005 and you find me dressed at work for Hallo'een as The Mad Hatter.

And then this, taken in the town of Yachats, Oregon, as photographed by Vulgar Wizard Herself.

That's about the most modern pic you're gonna see of me, unless you've been following the Moustache Monday pictures, and even the newest one of those is two months old now.

You see, I dislike most pictures of myself. I don't have but maybe a dozen or so all told as an adult, and I've never been very fond of them. But these--pride isn't the word. Dressing in so much thick makeup and strange clothing you find that you're wearing a mask more efficient than any other, and you can say and do all sorts of things that you ordinarily wouldn't do. The mask is a powerful tool, and can be a powerful weapon. Especially when matched with my first wife's bustier, a pink feather boa, a black satin cape, fishnet hose, a black curly wig, and women's panties. Powerful weapons indeed.

Unfortunately, I used those weapons for Evil.

I give you--Irrelephant, circa 1992, dressed as Dr. Frank N. Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Wait for it!

"I see you shiver, with anti-"





Hey--Don't dream it, be it!