Thursday, August 27, 2009

The great rooster murder [Ryan and Connor]

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. I disagree. When we dined upon the flesh of the victim of our vengeance, it was quite warm. It also worked really well with a little barbecue sauce.

So ended the saga of Jumper the rooster. For this post, we felt two authors would truly put the tragedy, the test, and the triumph in perspective. Ryan's contributions will be in regular typeface, while Connor's will be in italics.

Not long ago, Mom got another scheme to build character in her children: to raise chickens and sell their eggs. One of the chickens we bought turned out to be a rooster, which my lovable but somewhat uncreative brother named Jumper.

Jumper soon proved to be a menace.

My younger brother and sister’s daily journey to feed the chickens became a journey fraught with peril once the rooster appeared.

He would stand in our doorway, refusing to let us in our own house. My dad decided it was time to end the rooster’s reign of clucking, preening terror.

When your eight-year old brother carries a plastic lightsaber into the chicken coop purely for self-defense reasons, it’s time to step up as a man and eliminate this threat to your family. And if you question why I had to use a machete, you clearly have not consumed enough Otter Pops.

In my defense, I don’t usually go around killing chickens with machetes. This rooster was the Al Capone of chickens, ruling the yard with an iron talon, surrounded at all times by his harem of hens.*

Somewhere along the line, we bought a machete, and somehow it ended up occupying a semi-permanent place in our living room by the side of the couch. Like villagers arming against the monster on the hill, my dad and I prepared to storm the rooster’s citadel and wreak our vengeance.

But my little sister, even injured by Jumper as she was, barred my dad’s path, distraught that the rooster she had raised from a chick was about to be dismembered with a instrument that had probably never really been sharpened. My dad retreated, and the rooster laughed in mocking.

Soon, though, my brothers and I took matters into our own hands. We were prepared to do what needed to be done, to protect my little sister’s honor even if she was too noble to avenge the wrongs done unto her.

I grabbed a shovel; Connor grabbed the machete and noose.

INTERMISSION: my mom once related to me a story told to her by an older man standing next to her in line at the hardware store. It was similar to ours, except that rather than resorting to a machete, the man had drugged the chicken until it was asleep, put it in his car under cover of night, and thrown it over the fence at Bear World. "Wait a minute. You don't know my name, right?" the man asked quickly after relating the story.

It’s not easy to murder a rooster. You have to contend with all sorts of difficulties, not the least of which is the guilt of killing another living being. To overcome this obstacle, we simply remembered the crimes he had on his record, including attacking our little brother, attacking our little sister, exercising unrighteous dominion, and being named Jumper. (Possibly embezzlement, bank fraud, prostitution and weapons smuggling as well. You never can tell.)

After a quick trip to the restroom (I never kill on a full bladder), we tried Phase One. This involved sequestering Jumper in the fenced area and chasing him with a machete.

And so I found myself standing with a machete to Jumper’s throat, his baleful gaze urging me to strike him down and complete my journey to the Dark Side. But I couldn’t do it! There’s something about holding a blade to a living, breathing creature’s throat that truly makes you feel like a coldhearted murderer. After twenty seconds of tense stalemate, my nerve failed me and the chicken walked free. I returned to the house to seek reinforcements to finish the job.

We resorted to Phase Two — shooting him with a paintball gun.

As it transpires, a paintball gun is insufficient to kill a tough chicken. The paintballs merely hurt the chicken enough to make the shooter feel like a really horrible person who tortures small animals.

Phase Three consisted of Connor chasing Jumper in a futile attempt to strangle him in the most humane way possible. (Notice the omission of the word "catching.")

It’s impossible to strangle a chicken when said chicken realizes you’re attempting to strangle it and instantly transforms into a raging demon bird that will do anything and everything in its power to escape.** That attempt marks the only occasion in my life that I have fled a chicken coop in terror.

At last came Phase Four. It was simply time. We had dilly-dallied for long enough, and I took a shovel and —

I’m going to censor that part, but if you need a visual aid, think of the shower scene in "Psycho."

*Or, as I like to refer to them, his hos. Hoes? Ho's? Houghs?
**including, but not limited to, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Observations from Washington, DC [Ryan]

I missed last week’s blog because I was in the midst of heading off for Washington, DC. It’s an amazing city, full of helpful people who will stop at nothing to help you in any way they can, whether it be helping you read a map* or selling you a souvenir T-shirt that disintegrates upon washing.

Here are some keen observations I gathered while in our nation’s capital:

OBSERVATION 1: ALTERNATE REALITIES. One of the first things you should know about our nation’s capital is that it may be the crux of several alternate realities. Though this theory has been largely refuted by scientists, we proved the existence of such realities when we tried to meet a friend at the Smithsonian Metro entrance. My aunt Jessica was on the phone, describing where we were (at the entrance, looking toward the massive Department of Agriculture sign on an arch), while the friend recounted her surroundings (at the entrance to the Metro, looking toward the Department of Agriculture sign). The trouble was, the friend was nowhere in sight. My agile scientific mind immediately leapt to the possibility of unseen alternate universes, a notion the others in my group were slow to accept. When we finally agreed to meet somewhere else, the others finally conceded that my explanation was the only plausible one.**

OBSERVATION 2: SMITHSONIANS ARE FREE. The Smithsonian museums, we were pleased to discover, were all free. Having already surveyed our finances and found that we would probably need to subsist on pretzels and water for the duration of the trip, we took this news with great jubilation.

(To say we lived on pretzels and water is to employ only mild hyperbole. At the beginning of the trip, I bought a box of 25 large microwaveable pretzels. I ate these for lunches nearly every day. Near the close of our excursion, one of my companions complained that we had nothing left to eat. I pointed out the giant supply of pretzels still left in the fridge — which, despite my eating them, never seemed to decrease in quantity — and, surprisingly enough, the others maintained that, yes, we had nothing to eat.)

OBSERVATION 3: FOGGY BOTTOM. There’s a district in DC called Foggy Bottom. (Isn’t that fun to say? Foggy Bottom.) Despite sounding like a symptom of something you’d catch if you drink impure water, this is not only a real place, but it’s the location of George Washington University. Foggy Bottom.***

OBSERVATION 4: THE METRO CAN BE HAZARDOUS. One of the great parts of DC is the Metro subway system. Within a few days, we learned how to work this complex network of underground trains, with only a few minor hitches. One such complication came at one of our stops, when a slow gentleman man with a gigantic pile of luggage lumbered out the door with the speed of a tectonic plate, blocking the entire doorway. My brother managed to get out before the man began his one-man congestion of the subway door, but as the man finally dragged himself and his luggage out of the surging crowd and into the terminal, the doors shut. My fourteen-year-old brother watched as the doors shut, dooming the rest of us on a journey to the next stop with out him. I’d like to continue this story and ad more danger and drama, but we found him quickly after taking an abrupt 180 at the next stop.

OBSERVATION 5: METRO MUMBLING. At every stop, the Metro conductor lets you know where you are. Sometimes, unfortunately, the guy’s accent makes it sound like he’s speaking through a dying transistor radio from Jupiter with a mouth full of cottage cheese. When he intends to say something like “This is the Blue Line train to Franconia-Springfield, Pentagon City, doors opening on left,” you hear something like “Blue laaahhn train to Frncnnnnaaah-Sprrinnfff, Peggnuuhhhctiuhhh, doors opening on left.”**** You’ve just got to listen.

* Within the first two days of being in DC, no fewer than four people stopped to help us with directions. We had some indefinable quality that branded us as tourists adrift from our moorings. It might have been the subtle way we hesitated before getting on the Metro. It might have been the bulges in our back pockets, betraying the presences of guidebooks. Or it might simply have been the way we peered at our maps with all the confidence of a squirrel reading the Rosetta Stone.

** Not long afterward, we discovered there were two entrances to the Smithsonian Metro station, both with a view of different parts of the Department of Agriculture building. I still cling to my theory.

*** Foggy Bottom. Foggy Bottom. Oh, it’s so much fun to say!

**** The part about the doors opening is always clear. Don’t ask me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One-week hiatus

We're taking a week off due to a trip to Washington, D.C. Expect a blog next week.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A confession involving Hannah Montana [Connor]

I’m not proud of it. But I will never live with a clear conscience while carrying this secret: I’ve been listening to Hannah Montana music a lot lately. Not just Hannah, either; Selena Gomez, the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, you name it.

Before you accuse me of being of those creepy teenagers who actually buy Jonas Brothers albums in defiance of the law of reality which clearly states that the Jonas Brothers are the territory of nine-year-old girls, I’ll point out that it’s a work-related sacrifice. At the amusement park where I work, we rely on satellite radio for music, and the most “family-friendly” station available is Radio Disney. Consequently, all of the employees are extremely familiar with all Disney songs, a situation leading to embarrassing situations wherein an entire line of customers waiting at an attraction witness an employee belting out the lyrics to “He Could Be The One” by Hannah Montana.

The point is, four months of listening to Radio Disney have left me uncomfortably familiar with certain singers and their music. People like Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus (of COURSE they’re different people! Hannah Montana is just as real as Santa Claus!), and the rest of them, including, most unfortunately, the Jonas Brothers (No, I don’t have anything against them, except that they dress in clothes four sizes too small and their excessively juvenile music is at a level of maturity usually associated with mooning). I also know a lot of random facts about them; I could tell you, for instance, that Selena Gomez (star of the Disney TV series Wizards of Waverly Place) was born on my own mother’s birthday. I could also tell you that Miley Cyrus secretly wishes to own a house where everybody can write on the walls with crayons.*

There are worse things I could listen to. Most songs these days are total crap (wait, or do they call it rap? I can never remember). Many of them (“Boom Boom Pow” and “Poker Face” spring readily to mind) sound as though the synthesizer machine has gone rogue and is attempting to devour the lead singer. Actually, I have a pet theory about “Poker Face”: I think Lady Gaga had a decent song recorded, but the day before deadline, her five-year-old son got into the studio and messed with the song. They didn’t have time to fix his changes, so they just sold the song that way and were shocked when it climbed to the top ten song list. This accident probably inspired the making of “Boom Boom Pow”, come to think of it. Some of the songs these days are so bizarre it’s no wonder some of us are pushed to listening to Hannah Montana.

Don’t worry; I do listen to other music too besides Hannah Montana. It’s really the best of both worlds.**

*I’m serious.
**If you had to ask your nine-year-old sister about that reference, good for you.