Sunday, February 26, 2006

Me and the Midgets

I just got back from Kentucky where I attended the annual Paducah Midget Festival. Now it may seem odd being 6' 7" and going to a midget festival, and that's because it is. I usually pass on these things these days, but as a three time winner of the Clay County Fair midget tossing bonanza, I sometimes want to relive the glory days.

It's all bitter sweet, as I've been retired from the circuit since my partner Oscar died in a tragic midget bowling accident. You form quite a bond as a giant-midget pair, and he really loved to be thrown about--for distance, for height, and he was great at accuracy. I'd toss him up and he'd land like a laser guided bomb. Well, now I needed to find myself a new partner.

I figured I'd start by making a showing at the local Holiday Inn, knowing the bar would be a good place to begin. I walk in there, and it's like a scene out of the Star Wars Cantina, only with midgets doing karaoke--well, I see all that once I look down, as it looked like an empty bar at first. I guess I must have made a grand entrance, as everyone seemed to take notice. The bartender didn't exactly make me welcome by saying we don't serve there kid here, as he pointed at me. Oh well, I guess I didn't need a beer that bad. So I got down on my knees and crawled about, meeting and greeting the little folk.

I soon discovered that no one really wanted to be tossed (apparently dwarf tossing is an extreme sport among little people), and they actually were just there to be around other little folks. Fortunately they saw past my ignorance and enormousness, and we became friends. They shared their beer, and we all toasted Oscar. Stretch even sang Free Falling in his honor. Before long, the proclaimed me an honorary midget--er little person, and when I left, they would take turns crawling on top of the bar to be able to stand on the bar and give me a hug.

I didn't get to toss a midget, but it was a worthwhile trip. I was able to put the passing of Oscar behind me, meet new friends, and I realized that the rednecks back home can be quite cruel. I still don't feel bad, as I knew I helped Oscar live his dream. Oh, and I found out that the annual national midget tossing convention is on the other side of Kentucky, in Buckhorn.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Nine Inch Nails and the Demize of Chivalry

I just got back from a Nine Inch Nails concert. They're my favorite band, and have been so for many years (beginning in my angst filled teenage days, which seem foreign these days). I've been excited about the concert for a while. Unfortunately, the concert is in Toledo, which I've concluded in my three recent visits is a dump. It's like the Dothan, Alabama of Ohio. Anyway, it's a real boring drive to get there, but we're going to the concert, so it's not so bad.

We get to Toledo a bit early, chill at a bar, meet a few other concert goings, and here about a pre-party two doors down. We go there, a little bit, and then off to the concert. When we get there, I'm reminded why Toledo is such a dump. By far the worst venue I've been to. You start by walking straight into a narrow (like 8 feet wide) concourse, and discover the whole place has one men's room. I'm guessing the arena might seat 4,000-5000 people; that's absurd. You also can't help but notice something odd. Everyone is white--I mean whiter than Wonder Bread. Literally, besides my friend Jeff who I drove up with, no one (no ticket taker, security, concessionaire, concert goer or member of either band was Hispanic, Asian, Indian, Arabian, or black. Really oddit sorta made me feel uncomfortable. I'm still really excited that we're gonna see NIN.

We move to front stage-left right on the rail. Coincidentally Jeff's girlfriend (I dunno if that's official but I got to describe her somehow) is there with her posse. The nearby crowd is cool, a few couples, but mostly chicks. Several comment about me being so big and feeling safer around me, it's flattering and true. The opening act, no one I had heard of, was better than I expected. They possessed a New Order or Joy Division sound, and they also didn't play too long, a mistake of many opening acts. Before too long, NIN was playing--awesome. Right before the show I'm really pumped (not quite Florida-Florida State pumped, but close). When the band comes on the crowd is in a hyper-intense frenzy. I haven't seen so many crackers getting psyched since history class, and those were tapes of Nazi rallies--not my cup of tea. Anyway, I'm psyched too and the show starts great.

Before too long some jackass who looks just like Earl from My Name is Earl, shows up with his woman. He's carrying a stack of beer cups as his personal badge of honor, complimented by his loopy almost shut eyes. They're behind us, and things get bad pretty soon. A mosh pit opens up nearby, and things push our way. Earl takes good care to protect his beer from spilling, but lets his gal get crushed. Then he uses her to soften the blows of the crowd, what a cowardly loser. Getting worse, he starts to push, shove, and even elbow into the little gal next to me. Her fella steps in and Earl doesn't have the balls to do that shit with him. Now he starts pushing into me. Since all that was between me and the steel rails were these 4-6 chicks, I can't give in. I'd rather get my rib cracked by a jackass than crush one of these gals. I don't know any of them, but I sure as hell was treating them better than Earl was his girl. I guess I always treat women the same as I'd want someone my mom, wife, or daughter. So he starts getting nasty. I give him a crazy look and he backs off. The boyfriend who was shielding this gal next to me needed to take a piss (which ended up taking him at least a half hour because of the crappy facility). So earl was back up to his old tricks, so I put myself between me and her so he'd stop elbowing her. Then he started messing with other gals. I know chivalry is all but extinct, but is it too much to ask a guy to not physically hurt women? For those of you who don't know me, I'm a gentle giant. I'd rather settle things with my mind than slug it out. Anyway, if I had known that my dental insurance would have paid to get his teeth (didn't have many) out of my fist, I might have slugged him. A little later he tells me that I'm ruining his concert, and I give him a kind warning. I guess he thought the wiser, as he left.

The concert itself was awesome--incredibly intense. I never was on my heels, always bouncing up and down. The rest of the crowd around me was really cool, and everyone was having a great time (especially after Earl left). Jeff was having a blast, so was Star and her friends. It went for about an hour and a half, but it was nonstop and I heard everything I wanted to hear. When it ended I was greeted with numerous thank yous by everyone around me, especially the gals on the rail. I guess if God put me on this world to protect gals from jackasses like that, I'm down with that.

I still cant get over guys who use their girls to shield them from moshers and elbow other chicks (but somehow don't need to elbow me when I'm there). It reminds me of my days down in Jacksonville, when I'd see rednecks go to Club 5 to beat up gays, Goths, and other alternative folks. They'd call it moshing, but it was targeted beat downs. I can't tell you how many times I'd be there protecting friends from shit like that. Earl, if you or your other jackass kind can read and are reading this, send me a friend request. You can come over to my house and join my Fight Club in the basement. Oh, and remember if this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight (rule 8). Seriously, pick on someone your own size, or better yet don't pick on anyone at all. Only once in my life have a thrown a punch, and that's when I was 8, and a 13 year old was punching a 7 year old. I broke his nose.

Things were also a little more emotional, as the only two other times I saw NIN, I was with my friend Kevin, who passed away a month ago. I know he would have stood there with me to protect the gals, as we've had to do it in the past. I guess I've healed, because more than anything I was happy for the memories. Rest in peace bro, you were one of the best. I wish I could be as great as you.

I really had an awesome time--thanks Jeff for using your fan club status to snag us some tickets. I hope I won't be too sore tomorrow, but I think I will be. It was still worth it. Oh, and chivalry will always be alive as long as I am.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Over the years I've developed an affinity for sports, hobbies, activities, etc ... that fall outside the mainstream, or at least the white middle class mainstream. I'm not talking about snowboarding or any extreme sports. If its on ESPN at least once a year, no dice. Likewise for lumberjack competitions, which can be amusing, but still relatively mainstream. What I'm talking about is America's Cup Yachting, Formula 1, and at the moment curling. I don't know if it's because I want to be different (in case you didn't notice, I'm a little out there without eccentric sports interests) or if I just want to make sure someone appreciates the efforts of those who participate. I imagine quite a bit of that goes into it, as I'm always fascinated with the focus and effort people put into these activities. So back to curling, which I'm watching on TV now. You won't see it on TV outside the Winter Olympics once every four years, and even then its relegated to CNBC, so if you don't know what I'm talking about, don't feel bad. If you ever flip through the channels and see a bunch of people on a sheet of ice with brooms and big rocks, well that's curling. At first it kinda looks like team shuffleboard for janitors, and I guess that's not too far off. Anyway, someone slides a rock down the ice at a target while their teammates affect the speed and 'curl' of the rock by sweeping in front of the rock (its spinning, so the less you sweep, the more it curls). I won't go further into how that works , but it does. Teams take turns, often targeting opponent stones as much as anything, and it's an interesting thinking persons' sport. I imagine outside the Olympics curlers would keep a six pack on the ice to make it more interesting. Oddly enough it seems to be a young persons' sport (I can't see how youthful strength and energy helps, but it must), and its not coed. Men and women compete separately (I'm trying to figure that one out too), and CNBC only seems to show the chicks (that may not be such a mystery). So I watch, learn, and am impressed with the knowledge of the commentators and the bizarre lingo of the teams. The British gals sound like scurvy pirates, the American gals like Canadian expatriates, and the Japanese yip and yap with an energy and ferocity that only is seen in Godzilla films. I can't imagine there is much to say besides broom, broom faster, and damnit sweep mother fucker. If you think curling is boring, it's probably more interesting than this blog, but you're probably right.

I'll keep watching though, as at the moment I'm kinda spacey and daydreaming a lot, so its not too involving.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rocky Horror, et al

I went to go see the Rocky Horror Picture Show last night, and I had a great time. Despite single digit temps, a relatively full house showed up, all looking for a good time amongst other non-conformists. Some brought props (I made sure to bring a newspaper to not stick out as a 'Virgin', someone who's never been before); others dressed up (or down). If you've never been before, it's a celebration of a cult classic: complete with inside jokes, live acting mimicking the movie, props, and lots of crown participation. Since the movie itself isn't exactly mainstream, you'll find that folks come dressed in a variety of, shall we say, provocative attire. Its a very accepting crowd, and people who may otherwise be self-conscious, feel comfortable coming out in fishnets, hot pants, corsets, etc ... Anyway, its all quite the experience. I always enjoy being around new groups of people, especially those who enjoy what they do and put time/effort into it.

One side note, while there and increasingly elsewhere, MySpace is becoming quite pervasive. You can overhear people talking about MySpace, promoting groups and activities via it, and generally being aware of it. More and more I find my real world friends are out there.