Saturday, April 30, 2011

The McBone Birdwatching Journal; Blue Jay

The blue jay is among the most cantankerous species in all the bird kingdom, screeching and cawing (read: bitching and moaning) in the most vulgar of ways from high in the treetops.  They are also, in my opinion, one of the most spectacular to look at:

Beautiful, loud, temperamental, obnoxious and rude...I guess that makes them kind of like the Stanley Kowalski of birds.

From my observations, blue jays tend to be the wandering type, stopping by for a quick bite, stirring things up, showing off their bespeckled blue feathers and dropping some flip remark before taking their act to another corner of the hood. Today we had the good fortune to have a particularly raucous flock of four drop by for most of the afternoon.

The wind was blowing and the jays were squawking, but the only unpleasantness I could hear was the  roar of the internal combustion engine. Check out this signature, McBone-produced, ultra low-quality vid:

The atonal serenade alone would have contented us, but the blue jay's was not the only fancy display of plumage to be observed today. Behold the rare and mysterious neighbor bird, with ostentatious fuchsia crown, foraging in the dirt for beetles, worms, grubs and maggots:

Should you encounter the fussy neighbor bird trespassing on your lawn, you'll find it is easily frightened by a well aimed garden hose.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

¡Que Ridículo!

What's Julianne Moore got to laugh about?

She just looked at the AL Central standings!

Dedicated to you, SKS, and you know why.  Stay the hell away from our first basewoman.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Monsters vs Moose!

Tonight we root on the Lake Erie Monsters, official employer of Stabbone and likely the only team in Cleveland to taste the postseason this year.  The Monsters finished the regular season with an impressive 44-28 record, good enough to qualify for a chance to win the Calder Cup for the first time in the team's young history.

Following a string of three straight sixth-place finishes, the Monsters exploded this year to establish themselves as a power in the AHL's Western Conference.  Their final record represents a ten-game improvement from 2009-2010 and suddenly Monsters hockey is the best act in town.

Now deadlocked 3-3 in an epic series with the Manitoba Moose, the Monsters have a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period.  The Moose ain't going quietly, though.  They've climbed out of a 3-1 hole to even up the series.

Should the Monsters advance the second round, the 44-27 Hamilton Bulldogs are waiting.

Let's go Monsters!  Down with Canada!*

Update--The Monsters allow four unanswered goals to lose the game and series in typical Cleveland flameout fashion.  But just wait till next year!


*Except their superior health care system, from which we could learn a lot

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The McBone Birdwatching Journal; Downy Woodpecker

Easter Sunday at McBone Manor means feasting on ham and scalloped potatoes and whatever green vegetable wasn't looking too gray in the produce coolers at the local Kroger.  No ham for this downy woodpecker, though, who seems perfectly content to pick away at a delicious cake of peanut butter and rendered fat:

Male downy woodpecker, with indicative red spot

A couple of hours later, his lady friend stopped by to fuel up too:

Female downy woodpecker, sans indicative red spot

While this afternoon snacking can in no way match the drama of last year's x-rated Easter display by two merlins screwing as if Judgment Day were nigh, what, I ask, could be more pleasant than a visitation by two perfectly lovely examples of Picoides pubescens?  The downy is among the most far-flung of American woodpeckers, ranging from Portland, Maine to a certain port city in Oregon, the name of which escapes me at the moment.  These suckers are easily attracted by anyone with a couple of bucks to spend on a suet cake, a cage and a can-do attitude.

What's that?  Not good enough for you?  Well then, how about the first hummingbird of the season!

Hummingbird feeder.  Not pictured: hummingbird

OK, so I failed to capture the bird, but I swear it was there a nanosecond before the shutter could close--that's just how fast a hummingbird can fly.

What the keen eye may have observed is Red, one of our resident fucking squirrels and a voracious eater of the food I buy for birds, parked on the bird feeder like he owns the goddam place.  I really should go chuck a rock at him, but I suppose it is a holiday after all, and WWJD?

Still not satisfied?  Well then, how about this breathtaking combination of red and yellow, or as my sometimes-popular wife put it, ketchup and mustard?  Hey, as long as there's no mayonnaise in the equation, I'm ok with the condiment references:

Ever notice that the goldfinch very closely matches the color of a blooming dandelion?  Coincidence?  I think not.  I don't know if God has a plan, but I'm pretty sure nature does.

Well, that's all I got.  Merry Easter, everyone.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

If This Doesn't Get You Hopping Mad...

Nothing will.  My intention today was to sleep in, relax, bird watch and drink a martini.  It was a good plan.  A great plan even.  Then I had to go and click a link on facebook and now it's all blown to hell:

There are moments that warrant a wtf?!? and moments when only a good old-fashioned, undiluted, well-enunciated What the fuck? will do.  Watching a video of young women being arrested for making the best out of a dire situation not only made my head explode, it sent my mightiest What the FUCK? soaring north toward Lansing.

The Age of the Republican Governor is upon us, and, as the headlines fly by, I seriously begin to wonder if these guys are locked in some kind of all-out, Koch-sponsored game of gubernatorial one-upmanship to see who can kick the most constituents in the teeth.  I'd imagine there's a nice plaque for the biggest achiever.

Privileged white men like me should come through it just fine.  Sorry for the rest of you schmucks.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

GE and Me

Tax day has come and gone.  My sometimes-popular wife and I are a couple grand the poorer for it.  Ouch.  Naturally we're happy to pay our fair share, but my how civic duty hurts!

Really though, it's not the money we owe that gets me.  Time and gin will heal that wound.  No, what I need is for someone to explain why a student and a lowly bookstore accountant with pennies in the bank had to cough up, while G.E., a corporation that boasts billions in annual profits, did not.  What's especially perplexing is that, ever since that infamous Supreme Court ruling that removed the restrictions on how much a corporation can donate to a political campaign, G.E. more or less counts as a citizen, just like me.*  Oh, except that, unlike me, this is one great, big, loud, rich, well-connected and highly influential citizen.

Yeah, I know the very idea of taxing a business is enough to send it running for friendlier international confines, shove our economy into a bottomless chasm and rocket unemployment to apocalyptic new heights, but come on now!  Zero taxes?  If the highest court in the land sees the corporation as a person, can't General Electric at least be asked to pay as much to Uncle Sam as the average actual living, breathing, voting citizen has to?

Or better still, can't the G.E.s of the world fork over a few million of their 14.2 billion in profits so we don't have to go after Head Start and Pell grants?


*Corporations do not qualify for McBoner status

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Help us Catch Justin Bieber

Join our campaign to catch Justin Bieber
Twitter followers:

Justin Bieber: 8.8 million

McBone: 8

The Bieb may have us by a healthy margin for the moment, but I wonder--can he count AL FRANKEN as one of his followers?  Didn't think so.  The senator is a McBoner, not a Belieber.

You hear those footsteps, Bieber?  McBone is coming!  Better check the rearview mirror, bud.  Just to show I'm not afraid, I'll even choose to follow you.

Your move.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The State of the Vine

I stuck this Concord grapevine in the ground in August of 2009.  At the time, I was in the midst of co-writing what is, to date, my magnum opus.  A year and a half later, the book is a runaway bestseller, and, more improbably, I still haven't managed to kill the damned plant.  In fact, the warm weather and a wet couple of days seem to have coaxed some buds out of hiding.

Yes, I am aware that I wrote an almost identical post a year ago, but as my horticultural successes have thus far been limited to shower mildew and a pretty vigorous case of jock itch, I count this annual event as a thumping triumph.  With my confidence surging, I'm ready for new challenges.  Who knows what daring realms an amateur botanist full of gumption might explore?

'Avocado Pit with Rooster'

But now is no time to get cocky!  This is a vulnerable time for a grapevine.  As young, green shoots stretch their tender arms into the unknown, rabbits will be tempted to gnaw, gnaw, gnaw my poor vine to ribbons.  Fortunately, I have devised a number of bunny deterrents to safeguard against such villainy.

The possibility that our promising young Vitis labrusca will yield fruit in 2010 is remote.  For now, I will be patient and enjoy the aesthetic payoff of my viticultural enterprise.  Yeah, I know that a grapevine will never be mistaken for the more magnificent flowering plants of the world, but I'd like to see some precious fucking orchid come up with this:

Or even this:

Here's an idea: why don't you bite me, orchids?

So goddam pretentious. 


Friday, April 8, 2011

Nate Eats a Bucket of KFC!

The chicken does not look like this
I knew I was in trouble the minute I walked through the door of West Lafayette's local KFC.  I'm not sure what I was expecting--maybe the furious snap and spatter of scalding oil?  Just-prepped chicken turning golden brown?  A focused, flour-dusted workforce tossing fresh bird in that secret and most hallowed of recipes?  That's the stuff of fabulous romance and forgotten times.  In this corporate den of unhappiness, chicken sat lifeless and flaccid on stainless steel shelves while workers drifted here and there in the minimum-wage march of the damned.  In the sparsely populated dining area, world-weary patrons made their way through double downs and forked ersatz mashed potatoes and gravy into their gobs. You could take this snapshot anywhere, anytime, in almost any city in America.

I wanted in on the action, and it so happened that I had a coupon, 10-piece mixed bucket for $11.99, which I presented to a semi-conscious cashier.

That comes in a bucket, right?  For some reason, the bucket was really important.

She deflected my question with one of her own: Where did you get this coupon? I get that in a bucket, right?

After eying the coupon for ten minutes and ultimately getting an 'OK' from what looked to be a 13-year-old supervisor, she filled my bucket with ten pieces of the world's most famous fried chicken.

Eating in the prefab confines of the restaurant was out of the question, so I hopped into the McBonemobile and took my bucket back to McBone Manor.  Peeling back the lid revealed ten of the most desolate-looking pieces of chicken you could imagine.  Meat both white and dark huddled at the bottom of the sweaty container as if shrinking from natural light. 

Iconic bucket with lid.
Iconic bucket without lid
I'm a dark meat kind of guy, so I picked out a drumstick and went to work on my lukewarmish supper.

The Colonel's special blend of 11 herbs and spices is part of American lore, but any semblance to the chicken that Harland Sanders cooked up in Corbin, Kentucky has by now been evacuated by home office cost cutters.  All this palate could detect was:  

Low-density lipoprotein
Growth hormones

I tore into a breast next--dry, chewy and utterly undelicious.  A soggy, room-temperature thigh revealed that not all of the pieces in this bucket had been fried within the same hour.

After gobbling a few pieces of this awful, awful food, I waited for what would surely be a grim aftermath.  The wait was not a long one. Within minutes, my happiness and sense of self worth were gone.  Optimism was displaced by crippling depression.  Hope gave way to fear.  My libido plummeted to an all-time low.  Sperm perished en masse.

Then things got bad.  As my heart began racing, I was gripped by images of a world on fire.  Earthquakes.  War.  Poverty.  In a last-ditch move, I tuned into Fox News, but not even this sudden break from reality could rescue me from a deep-fried melancholy.  All I could do was pray, pray for sweet death to take me.

Why do I do this to myself?  Why patronize one of the ubiquitous purveyors of nonfood that are not so slowly ruining the collective health of our nation (and that of the world)?  Why undermine my personal quest to eliminate megachains, hellbent on removing any trace of variety from our culinary landscape, from my diet forever?  I do it for you, McBoners, that you may circumnavigate the KFC en route to real chicken eateries like this one.

Has Kentucky Fried Chicken won a place in my heart?  Sadly, yes.  Has it won a place on the McBone List of Boycotted Substances?  You bet.  Will I ever eat there again?  Not a chance.

Besides, I prefer my chicken flame-broiled.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Go Maggot Brain

My sometimes-popular wife ditched me this week for a conference in Atlanta.  I'm positively crawling out of my skin over here.  Channeling my old man (and a little Phil Collins), I've been repeating these phrases in the hope they might motivate me to stop being such a pathetic loser and get some fucking work done:

Be a man

Man up

Sack up

Grow a pair

Shut up and get me a goddam beer

You're no son of mine

Nothing yet, but I'm thinking of adding gin into the mix.  If that fails, I might try putting on some of her clothes.  Wish me luck!  I don't want to spend the next few days picking scabs.

Oh, and in the event you don't hear from me over the the next few days, can someone please swing by?  If you find me crouched and wild-eyed in the corner, all that means is I've gone feral for a second.  Just toss a couple of pork chops on the floor and I should be good to go until Saturday.


Monday, April 4, 2011

A Bloated Stinking Maggoty Corpse of a Ballpark

You need more than two asses in the seats, fellas.
Hey Dolans, how did you enjoy those 8,000 fans littering the once proud ballpark known as Jacob's Field?  Did that come as a shock?  Or did you expect such tiny crowds for opening weekend of the season against your division foe White Sox?  Is this what you envisioned when you decided to buy one of the most popular and exciting teams in the American League?  A yawning stadium filled with only the most ardent and masochistic of devotees?

Let me put it to you another way: do revel in being hated by millions?  Because you are, and that includes yours truly.

Yeah, yeah, I know it's not a level playing field.  I've blogged about it before.  But here's the thing: see, when you invest nothing in your team, when your payroll keeps shrinking, when your big free agent signing, for the second consecutive season, is Austin Kearns, your fans begin to feel alienated.  They see an ownership group that doesn't give a good goddam about winning, and they stop coming downtown.  Can you guess who else this hurts?  Local businesses.  That's right, it's not just about your bottom line, guys.

I know there's been some bad luck mixed in there.  Grady Sizemore can't stay healthy.  Travis Hafner stopped 'roiding.  Shit happens.  I get it.  Hey, you know who else had bad luck?  The Cavs.  In the midst of a historically bad season, fans come to the arena.  Why?  Because Dan Gilbert gives them hope with his words and his wallet.  Wonder why the helpless, hapless, hopeless Browns keep packing them in season after futile season?  Maybe because the owner isn't afraid to open the purse strings.  Randy Lerner doesn't win, but fans see he is committed to winning, nevertheless.

And anyway, isn't it true that you make your own luck?  Because trading two Cy Young-winning lefties in consecutive years is a good way of injecting some serious bad karma into a situation.  It also shows a pretty firm commitment to losing.  I mean, in terms of absurdity, isn't that sort of the Cleveland equivalent of trading Babe Ruth for cash to fund a Broadway musical?  At least the musical got good reviews.  Not so sure about the players we got for C.C and Cliff.

Yes, it's a mess you've made, but you know what the funny thing is, Dolans?  As much as we hate you, we'd love the chance to forgive you.  So what do you say, buhzillionaires?  You can't ride a near miss in 2007 forever.  How about throwing us fans a bone?  We don't want to live through another 1955-1994, so let's pump some goddam cash into the team!  That'll get the turnstiles turning, the hot dogs selling, the beer flowing and the fans cheering.  Come on!  Do yourselves and Cleveland a favor and revive that dead venue on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.



Saturday, April 2, 2011

In Memoriam

Below is a photograph of my brother and occasional co-blogger, Stabbone.  The wispy fibers clinging to his upper lip comprise the moustache that earned him second place (out of two) in the Northern Ohio Moustache League's legendary 2006 Moustache Growing Championship.

That contest ended in scandal.  A few hasty strokes of the razor sent the brown beauty surging to a foul and unworthy doom.  To this day, traces of the silver medal 'stache no doubt mingle among any manner of unspeakable filth.  Alas, such a fate it deserved not!

Five years later, we reflect on what was, and what might have been.  Moustache!  Too short was your time on Earth, but yours was a life that will inspire for all time.

Fly, fly on, downy fur!  Rise up from your excremental resting place!