Jason's BLOG pages



Jason Grose's BLOG

January 2003




What's a blog, you ask? It stands for "weblog" and it's basically an online journal of daily thought. We'll see how long I can keep this up (as though I don't have enough to do!)

If you must have a title, I'll go with: The daily thoughts/rants of a Marine Officer, father, scholar, husband, marathon runner, Flash cartoonist, computer nerd.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Here is an email exchange that I had with a young lady about life in the Corps that I think sums up my thoughts quite accurately.

(Her questions...)

I've been to forums before on military.com, but there is one question that no one seems to answer. What is life in the Marine Corps like? Has it lived up to your expectations? Also, do you get to control where you're stationed at? And how did you and your girlfriend (and now wife) do when you had to go away for awhile? Did she support you or did she at any point become upset with you that you had to go away? I am planning on going into the Corps very soon, but these are a few concerns for me (I have a boyfriend, and he knows I want to enlist, but I'm not sure how he's going to react when I actually do and I have to go away). Thanks for your responses.

(My response...)

It’s difficult to sum up what being in the Marine Corps is like. Part of why I maintain the website is to give some insight on how it is on a day to day basis so to try to sum it up here in a few lines is a challenging task.

I think living as a Marine is special because you always know, whatever you are doing, that you are doing something noble and something that’s makes a real difference in the world that we live in. I’ve often wondered how prisoners live with the knowledge that their confinement is due to something they did that was so horrible that society takes away the most precious aspect of life: freedom. Even in the hard times, I am comforted by knowing that I’m a Marine and live my life in a unique and respectable existence. Whether at work or at home, I’m a Marine with all that entails, to include not only the honor but the responsibility to uphold what being a Marine means. That makes it all worth it.

You get very little control over where you are stationed, especially when you are new. As you progress, you have more say but it always boils down to the “needs of the Corps.” If you are enlisting, you might be able to get a guarantee written into your contract for a region. But remember, “West Coast” is anything west of the Mississippi River. That was my guarantee and I ended up in Yuma Arizona.

Carrie has always been supportive of my life as a Marine. Never has she blamed me for my absences simply because she knows I don’t control that. She knows I come home the moment I’m able and when the hours get long, she understands my responsibilities. She knows that it’s infinitely harder for a Marine to have to do the difficult things we are asked to do and then have to come home to another battle at home. We are a team and communicate what is happening. Since she understands me, the Corps, and my duties, she then better understands why I must be away sometimes.

I hope this answers you questions. Please let me know if you have any more that I can answer.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

God help me but I’ve been ensnared in yet another TV show. This time it’s “American Idol” and before you judge too quickly, I have to say that I consider the first auditions the only ones worth watching. I could care less who wins the thing but to see the initial auditions is comedy at its best (well, maybe not since it’s at the expense of others but they set themselves up). To watch the ones with a modicum of talent battle it out is of no interest to me; it’s the lamers that really made the show.

Fat effeminate guy with Beatle haircut singing “Like a Virgin.” Excuse me, it could not have been called singing; more like falsetto warbling while making what passes as sensuous gyrations in his twisted reality. This was downright ugly and likely induced a nationwide gag reflex to all watching this train wreck. Even Simon was initially speechless and could not summon enough venom to adequately attack this talentless butterball. All he could muster was calling him the worst singer in the world (and Simon has seen a lot of bad singers.) The most amazing part wasthat the guy REALLY thought he was talented and was shocked at the judges reaction. Wow, some people just live in a alternate universe.

I can’t figure out whether to love or hate Simon. He’s a grade “A” prick to be sure but I think he says what most people can’t bear to come out and say. I think if he attacked the talented people, he would be even more hated by the public at large but the easy prey he pounces on leaves little room for disagreement. He even told a 5-year-old he didn’t like the singing. Gotta respect the honesty.

President Bush gave his State Of the Union address tonight. I’ll avoid the political discourse for a moment and just comment that it was mega-irritating that the President says one line and everyone claps for 20 seconds, stands, and sits down. Another sentence, claps, stand, sit. This went on for half the speech and the only relief from the annoyance was the camera pans across the audience. You could tell that I was not the only one irritated with this little game but hey, he’s the Prez. Who in that room would want to be caught on camera not clapping to child care reform or lowering taxes? But their faces told a different story. I thought that this was quite unfair for the Vice President whose ticker is not had a great year. It’s like they were trying to see how long before they could get him to grab his chest and fall over.

If you notice, the military leaders sat without clapping or standing throughout the whole thing. I asked my wife if she knew why and she didn’t. It’s because they cannot appear to be partisan and are supposed to be neutral. Clapping or reacting to a “Republican” initiative or the like could be construed as leaning one way or the other so they sit like Stonehenge. For the average viewer, it looks like they really don’t like the President or his ideas. Or that they were frozen by some super-villain.

At one point the President started talking about Iran (before he started talking about Iraq). I really thought he’d made a slip of the tongue (as he’s prone to do) and thought “ut-oh, here we go again. Letterman and Leno are going to have a field day with this one.” But it ends up he really did mean Iran which took me by surprise. I mean, Iran? Where did that come from? Trying to build up the coalition, I assume, but a strange time to bring those guys up. We won’t get any help from them in time for the Iraq crisis explodes.

Lastly, I have to give the President credit. He can go from talking about our peace-loving nation to commenting about killing Taliban in a New York minute. You know whan the sentence starts out “Let’s put it this way…” the next sentence is gonna be a shocker. And it was because he was contrasting Taliban we had captured and the ones he went on the describe as “they will no longer be a threat to our nation or our allied countries.” Basically, he said, “Yeah, we kilt them good.”

Monday, January 27, 2003

OK, he went and did it. A friend of mine kicked open my “Big Box of Bitches” by writing the following line in an email to me: “…did I ever mention, I *HATE* SPAM???!!!!”


It almost seems a cliché to write about the concept of hating SPAM because I’ve never met anyone who actually likes it. According to the advertising gods, I am an overweight, balding, impotent, sex pervert in dire need of better mortgage rates. This begs the question of why do I need to see young teen sex goddesses yearning to meet me when, according to their extensive market research, I also need Viagra to enjoy such a spectacle?

It would seem to me that this is the worst way to advertise. Yes, I know it’s practically free for them but I find it very difficult to imagine anyone responding positively to such lame ads. But the very fact that they continue to populate my inbox at an alarming rate is proof positive that someone, somewhere is responding to them or they would go away. So whoever you are, stop it!

One flavor that rates special recognition is the kind that look like legitimate correspondences with subject lines designed to get you to open the emails under false pretenses. “re: your son’s accident.”

Being the savvy email veteran, I can normally spot camouflaged SPAM like Oprah spots a Hostess product but sometimes they sneak through. So I open it and am greeted with something to the effect of “Don’t get email like this without having our lame ass health insurance…”

First, who notifies you of such an accident via email? Second, after tricking me like this, how likely am I to listen to what they have to say? Do they expect something like “DAMMIT! YOU SON OF A BI… oh, wait, cheap health insurance. I better get my credit card right away…”

Sometimes it pisses me off just for the luck they had getting me to read it. Like when you get one from “Eric Garcia” and you actually know someone named Eric Garcia but this email is not from him. It’s the alias that the bastards are using that just happens to be the same name as a friend of yours. If I didn’t know that a reverse flood of responses back to them would do nothing more than clog up the Internet that much more, they’d be getting a cubic butt ton (degrees of magnitude more than a “$hitload”) of emails telling them where they can pack their online degree certificates.

(breathe, Jason.)

OK, all better now. I have to go and make out my obviously inflated mortgage payment and the shine off of my bald head is blocking the barely legal teen porn site I “had to see.” And if my gut wasn’t blocking my view, I could swear my little soldier might be coming back to life after all these years …

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Last Saturday I took the family and went to San Francisco because my brother was visiting there for the weekend. A girlfriend of his from New Jersey had a convention there and invited him down for the weekend to stay at the Fairmont. Yes, I said the Fairmont which is like a huge, expensive, 4-star hotel. I fully expected Julia Roberts in her hooker outfit to be walking through the halls but instead just gawked at the snooty rich-types that were in abundance (just as they gawked at me “Really, Lovey, they’ll let ANYONE in here these days.”)). It was all I could do not to say something like “Dude, how much did you pay for HER!?” just for the reaction.

BTW: that’s where the series “Hotel” was set, for you 80’s prime time soap fans.

This just happened to be the Saturday that all the protesters decided to invade the City of Brotherly Backside Love. Luckily, we somehow avoided the surge of traitors despite several thousand of them being in the area, according to the radio. They didn’t want the U.S. to go to war with Iraq. I would have soothed their fears by informing them that they would not have to go. I’d do it for them.

But we had a great day in SF going to Fisherman’s Wharf, riding trolley cars, cabs, and busses, and even seeing the Golden Gate Bridge which, if you don’t know, is friggin’ huge! And let me thank the trolley driver for introducing my kids to the terms “shit” and “ass.” OK, maybe they’ve heard me say it on more than a few occasions (along with the TV these days) but still, public servants on the job should be more careful in, you know, public.

When we all were looking at Alcatraz from the shore, some guy walked up to his buddy and said “Hey, is that Treasure Island?” My brother and I found this profoundly funny not only because he thought Alcatraz WAS Treasure Island but the fact that he asked told us that he thought “Treasure Island” actually existed. It was not until we came upon a map later that we realized that there actually is a small island near Alcatraz that they have dubbed Treasure Island. Who’re the idiots now? (I just noticed that the contraction of “who are” looks like “whore.”). OK, fast forward my age a few decades…

On the way back, I ran across my daily rant: automatically flushing toilets. This story is related to another one on my last vacation that I will relay quickly.

I was in a truck stop toilet all alone in the middle of the night. Not feeling to comfortable being out in the middle of nowhere in a truck stop bathroom in the middle of the night, I was a bit watchful lest the scene from “Dumb and Dumber” should evolve. So in my skittish mood, I was hyper-sensitive to the utter silence of the bathroom. All of the sudden, the auto-flush of the crapper kicked in and the power of said flush rivaled that of a meteor hitting the Space Shuttle windshield. Except louder.

Every one of my appendages flew in a different direction as every muscle I own convulsed. Then the “Boy, do I feel dumb” factor kicked in, soon replaced with misplaced anger. It just wasn’t right, man.

OK, back to the SF story, A.K.A. Jason vs. The Terminator Toilet Part II.

Again, I walk into a public bathroom (a Chevron this time) to, you know, lose some weight. The toilet I choose happened to be the one that the user before me thought necessary to coat the seat with urine. Yeah, that’s necessary. But that’s another rant.

Like any normal human, I took some TP and wiped it off (not my TP thus about a cubic ton was necessary). As an extra precaution in such situations, I took a toilet seat cover from the dispenser and proceeded to create my semi-opaque barrier of paper, because my ass is the last place I want to come in contact with other ass germs and/or urine.

I had just got it situated just the way I wanted it (an exact science to be sure) when the auto-toilet decided it was a good time to kick into action. In a nanosecond, my perfectly placed butt-shield was sucked down, toot sweet.


So I went through the same procedure, chalking the first up to God’s little poke in the eye for me. Unfortunately, the toilet also decided to repeat the scene. This just ain’t right.

Well, there was nothing left to do but the obvious. Apply shield directly to derrière and make a carrier landing on the seat. Of course this is similar to a night carrier landing and the result was not pretty, in setup nor execution. But I had beaten the little auto bastard and it was somewhat victorious that the toilet let forth a final, futile flush attempt to rob me of my victory that sounded satisfactorily like a scream of defeat.

I had looked the beast in the face and did not falter. Superior intellect had won over automation. I was a warrior. I was invincible.

Then I choked at the plate. I know God was laughing.

So I pissed on the toilet seat and left.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Today's BLOG entry is an email from a girl asking about the Marine Corps. My response is below and pretty well sums up my view about my beloved Corps.

-----Original Message-----
From: <name withheld by Capt Grose>
Sent: Saturday, January 04, 2003 4:42 PM
To: jason@grose.us
Subject: have a few questions

I am 16 years old, and I am hoping to join the marines within the next 2-3 years. However, I do have a few questions about the marine corp. I have heard in marine brochures and in websites that unlike the other 3 military branches, the people who become marines change in the values and gain strength and other things. But I want to know from an actual marine, what exactly does the marine corp have to offer that other branches don't offer? I have done lots of research just to make sure that the marine corp is the branch I want to go into. Also, you once said on your website that america doesn't need a marine corp. It wants one. Well, If it is not necessary to have a marine corp, do you ever think that the corp might one day be disbanded? I really hope not. But I just want some input from an actual marine. Please write back with answers. I may have some other questions later on, but these two are my biggest questions. Thanks a lot

<name withheld by Capt Grose>

P.S. your site is awesome! It has given me a lot of info, and its fun! If I ever get any money, I'll try to help out.

My response

You pose some interesting questions and I’d be glad to answer them the best I can.

The Marine Corps is unique among the armed forces in several respects and many of them that you hear or read about are mostly true in practice. While it’s honorable to serve in any branch, the Marine Corps takes the most pride in being the best in what we do and that attitude carries through both our personal and professional lives (which by the way, blurs as we identify ourselves as Marines).

Being a Marine is an attitude of professionalism, brotherhood, excellence, pride, and a belief that we can do anything. We promote both physical and mental toughness, education, decision-making, and a self-assurance that borders on cockiness. But at the same time, we hold civility, protocol, respect for others, and a love for our country and her people in high esteem.

We hold ourselves to a high standards and are not shy about policing our ranks, which means that if we see something wrong or someone acting the fool, we correct the situation right away because not only does it make that Marine look foolish and we do not allow it to continue, he or she represents the Corps as a whole and therefore the stupidity is a reflection of all of us. So you have everyone keeping everyone else in check at all times and it becomes a mark of professionalism never to let your fellow Marines down by doing something we know is wrong. This is something you don’t see in other services who would view this behavior as “too motivated” or “hard core harassment.”

Marines have pride in their history. Every Marine knows and celebrates the Marine Corps birthday every year. We can talk for hours about our history and traditions from loving memory. Any Marine can talk for hours about everything from weapons and tactics to protocol and history. We all go through a life-changing transition when we go through bootcamp and we have endured the hardest recruit training in history from men and women that are as scary as they are professional (and we never EVER forget them).

It would be insulting to call the head of the Air Force “Airman.” Just as insulting, the Army General would be beside himself if you called him “Soldier.” If you call the Chief of Naval Operation a “sailor”, you’ll see the inside of the brig. But the Commandant would still get a chill when addressed as Marine. We are the only service who uses part of their service name as a title. It’s a compliment to be called “Marine” no matter what rank you are.

The last point I’ll bring up answers your second question as well. When things go wrong in this world, who are the first people that the President turns too? He calls the Marines and that’s the truth. We have Marines waiting on ships deployed around the world every day of the year. When called, they can be anywhere within a day if not hours, ready to fight.

I say America doesn’t technically need a Marine Corps because technically, we provide a service that could be a specialized Army function. But America WANTS a Marine Corps because we represent the punch of American power. We kick down the door and neutralize any situation before it gets too big. It’s what we represent that makes America feel good about having some really tough men and women to keep them safe from those that would do us harm. To ensure that we meet that requirement and that the belief is not just a bunch of hype, we train hard and hone our skills to match the expectations America has for us. We focus that professionalism, excellence, pride, smartness, toughness, and dedication on everything but when applied to warfighting, there simply is no better force in the American arsenal.

We do two things well: win battles and make Marines. The benefit of the first is obvious but the benefit of the second is not fully appreciated. By making Marines, we create super-citizens who take the skills but more importantly, the attitude of being a Marine with them for the rest of their lives. Once they return to civilian life, they have with them an attitude of citizenship, respect, honor, drive, and professionalism that is somewhat missing in today’s average American, at least to the degree that Marines posses.

Will the Corps be disbanded one day? I hope not but it’s been tried ever since we were established in 1775. The same people that love us sometimes forget why they loved us in the first place. This is especially true after a war because they want to put the reality behind them and see no need to keep fighters at the ready after they have established peace. At that time, we represent the ugly reality that you must have men and women who know how to fight and do real damage to the enemy. They forget that there are people out there that do not share their view about loving everyone, accepting diversity, and laying down their arms for one big Earth hug. There are people out there that would take over this country at any sign of weakness from us because we are the “haves.” People who have enjoyed our standard of living without ever experiencing foreign aggression sometimes do not appreciate the level of danger that exists every day in the majority of this world and that the only realistic protection from it is to meet force with force, or at least have the capability to do so. Personally I wish it was not that way but that doesn’t change the necessity of protecting ourselves from those that do not share that same view. I don’t want to try to explain the folly of violence to a mob who is tearing me apart for being an American. The Marine Corps exists for the same situation on a national scale.

We have to constantly prove to those that forget what we do that we still hold a purpose. We are in a continuous state of justifying ourselves which, on the good side, forces us to reevaluate what we do and the services we provide. The result is that we evolve depending the latest world situation. We used to have an amphibious focus but the mass landings on hostile shores are unlikely for the future. We now concentrate on things like close combat in an urban situation, terrorism, and quick insertion strikes. But the thing that has not changed, and that will never change, is the application of the Marine attitude. As long as we keep that, we can learn new tactics and apply our professionalism to become proficient in anything we evolve into. That’s the secret and what I think is the uniqueness of the Corps: the attitude is the constant and with that, we can do anything.

I hope this answered your questions and please hit me with any more you have.

Semper Fi.
Jason D. Grose
United States Marine Corps

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Today was the first of many “easy Tuesdays” for this quarter. I have one class and since Tuesday is a uniform day, it’s almost given that you will behave as in combat: “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down.” In other words, when class is over, get the hell out of Dodge and get home. Maybe that’s just me but I doubt it.

So I took advantage of the day and went with the wife to do some shopping but before the fun began, we had to stop at the post office and mail a book that I sold online. (I feel a rant coming on…)

I know it’s a cliché and I know the stereotype is that post office employees are slow but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!! If they would have been any slower, I would’ve had to check for a pulse. Picture the scene, a line of the most pitiful creatures lined up with no intelligent gleam in any eye… and that’s just the people waiting to be helped. They make the post office workers look like stalagmites.

The waiting line of death feeds into a row of potentially 5 counters. Of course only two are being manned at any one time by sloths on valium poorly disguised as postal workers. When another one shows up, likely emerging from a slimy cocoon as seen in “The Fly”, the collective hope of the poor souls waiting spikes, causing the dreary place that is the post office, to momentarily take on a hint of excitement, only to be dashed as one of the “workers” decides that the new arrival is her cue to put out her “Window Closed” sign and meander back into the nether regions of the building (probably to feed on the bleached bones of customers who just ran out of life force while waiting).

Five slots, two employees, a few dozen people. Come on, it’s after the Christmas rush; a time to rededicate yourself to your chosen profession! I was uncharacteristically patient with the whole scene but I have to admit that did feel like slitting my throat more than once while waiting the eternity it took to advance to the front of the line. But then it occurred to me that as my lifeless body would crumple to the floor in a unanimated heap, the people behind me would simply step over my corpse, un-phased at my graphic demise and happy that they are that much closer to the front.

Maybe it was the old man in broken English trying to pull off the most complicated postal transaction ever conceived. Maybe it was the oriental employee with the eyes that said “What meaningless little whiney-ass problem are you interrupting my quality hibernation time with?” Or possibly it was PWT mother with the Ridlin-deficient brat running through the building. Whatever it was, I have to conclude that it was not an anomalous situation and that the negative stereotype of the post office is NOT unjustly thrust upon them. Yes, it’s quite impressive that they can take your package and for a few bucks they will deliver anything to anywhere in the world within a few days (think about it, it boggles the mind) but there shouldn’t be a connection between the customer interaction and the service they perform. The hell that is encountered when dealing with the post office is not required nor should it correlate with the difficulty of the job that they do (other than the length of the line waiting because a useful service draws consumers).

My suggestion: since Tuesday at 1000 was insanely busy, I have to conclude there is no “slow time” for the post office. Therefore (and I know this will sound revolutionary so stand by to be blown away): hire more people to work the desks (pause for the gasp). I mean, you have the counters to handle the crowd and if it’s known that getting into and out of the post office is a quick and painless evolution, you will have less cranky people to deal with once they get to the window. I’d be willing to pay a little more for the convenience! Hell, have an express line or a line that charges a bit more for the convenience. Do something for us, you know, your customer?

One more thing: don’t have your dumb ass employees do their menial crap work at the counter with the little “Window Closed” sign still up. This makes for an irate air to the place since the employees KNOW everyone in line is expecting the window to open once an employee saunters their fat ass into the chair. But then they just sit there and act like there’s not two dozen people impatiently waiting for their turn. You know it, we know it, so cut it out you bastards!!!

And no, I don’t need any stamps today. I think I would know, and ask for, the only other service you provide after waiting it your damn line for a half hour while Betsy the Beachball over there counted her fingers a dozen times rather than opening her counter and actually helping someone. If you want to ask me something, ask if I want back the ½ hour of my life I’ll never see again, a harpoon for the Moby Dike over there, or a blow dart for Ridlin-boy. I know how to lead him just right and then it’s nap time.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Today I got a dose of how confusing the United States’ financial accounting system really is. To sum up my understanding of it, the President comes up with a budget and sends it to Congress who says “yeah, that’s nice, I’ll set it… over here…” and then sets a coffee cup on it and proceeds to come up with one of their own. Then it gets bounced around the Congress, the House, back to the Congress until it is sent to another committee who tries to mesh out the differences of the Presidential and the Congressional budgets. Then it gets sent back to the President. I think that’s the gist (likely even more convoluted than this, though, since everything I know about it prior to a class I’m taking comes from Schoolhouse Rock, which also confused me). Let’s just all agree that

A: no wonder it’s so FUBARed and late every year and
B: the nuances are better left to someone who’s much smarter than me.

Next bit of randomness: my wife got me one of those vibrating massage chair things that also has heat. At first I liked it but it makes the laptop screen look like I’m on LSD. Plus, along with the laptop power cord, the phone line, and the mouse cable, I feel like the Borg when sitting in a chair that adds yet another tether. Not sure if it’s a keeper but like an ugly tie, it might be hard on the domestic weather pattern if I don’t “just love it!!!”

Hmmm, what else. As long as we are on randomness, I meant to mention that during my travels across California, I noticed a Budweiser brewery along the highway I traveled many times this holiday season. The sign’s letters were like 3 or 4 stories high each. Why do brewery’s feel they have to create letters bigger than most buildings? Is it to burn their brand into your brain so that you can see it when you close your eyes? And for Christmas, they put a light display on top that looked like a Christmas tree that made me wonder what kind of message they were sending: “Celebrate the birth of our Lord … and throw back a cold Bud to boot. Merry Christmas. Don’t drink and drive. Just drink. Budweiser.” And the last bit of irony was the fact that there was a huge car dealership next to it. Isn’t this like putting a whorehouse next to a church? Maybe it’s just me who sees these things.

I had to use a calculator to check my son’s multiplication homework tonight. When asked by my daughter the names of the nine planets in the solar system, I had to look it up on the web. I got back at them both by beating their little smarty pants off in a vicious game of Uno. Mess with me they will think twice about next time. Yes, I’m a moron.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Another week, another week ignoring the BLOG.

I was accused of being cynical. Can you believe it? Me? Cynical? A friend emailed me and expressed how my BLOG was always good for a laugh and added the comment
“… you have a talent for cynically defining your adventures thru words...”

I know he mean it as a compliment but it never occurred to me that I was coming across this way and I know it will shock some of you but I never set out to sound that way. Yes, I have my putzy idiosyncrasies (ask my wife who loves to point them out) but I like to think that overall, I have a positive outlook on life. I guess the fact that I use the BLOG as an outlet to rant makes it look like it’s my usual mode. It is not, or at least I like to think it’s not. The fact is, I hate complainers almost as much as I hate hypocrisy but it appears that to claim that I’m not one of these makes me the other. Ouch.

I was always taught to not complain unless you have a solution to follow it. I guess I’ve been guilty of just making fun of things for the humor value but some of my entries have served the purpose of getting things off my chest. So I will continue to rant but try to find the positive spin. No promises but all I can do is try.

Friday night my son took me to The Two Towers (second installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) and we had a blast. Once a month is Boy Night where Alex and I go do something of his choosing. It was cool that he picked taking me to this movie because he had just seen it the Tuesday prior when I was called to a last minute meeting. I really wanted to see the movie and he knew it. Good boy!!

I won’t give a detailed blow by blow of the movie because not only is it three hours long, but also because that would be, you know, high on the jerk meter. But I have to point out that the elf character of Legolas is one bad mutha!!! This guy chooses a bow as his weapon of choice and is just a smooth as glass. He whips out arrows at incredible speeds and launches them with pinpoint accuracy (usually between the eyes). He’ll pull an arrow out and use it as a knife in close quarters and then launch it impressively quick. Suffice it to say you don’t want to mess with this guy. There is also a scene when he grabs a horse by the neck and hoists himself up, flipping around in a manner that makes you think you saw something impossible. Where movie magic and live action merge is utterly indistinguishable. OK, I’ll stop but as a Marine, I was duly impressed.

On the other hand, I saw “Triple X” and thought I was watching a comedy. It was so far outside the realm of possibility that it was annoying. It was an encyclopedia of standard old tired action clichés: car chase here, boat chase there, blowing up an enemy camp (with the standard “guy being blown through the air as a result of huge fireball behind him” sequence). The most humorous thing was that they tried to incorporate “X-sports” events into the story as actual useful actions. This was an obvious ploy to appeal to teenage boys (plenty of sexual innuendo, one-liner stud lines, loud punk music, fast cars, etc) and those guys who need to find some value in X-sports activities.

For instance, jumping a dirt bike over a fence while holding on to the seat, body trailing, for the purpose of shooting a gun at the enemy. In the same scene, he did a jump in a mid-air, sideways manner (I’m sure the eXtreme guys have a name for this) to fly through a barbed wire fence horizontally. My wife and I laughed aloud.

I could go on and on to include bad dialogue, bad Russian accents, and a “save the world from certain destruction” ending that was thwarted in the very last second cliché. But I promised to be more positive so I will just say it’s two hours that I’ll never get back but was free since I borrowed it from a friend. There, happy?

Late Entry

It occurs to me that in all the business of my vacation, I missed a couple of entries, one being that of New Year’s Eve.

On the last day of the year 2002, I went to see Pearl Harbor, the Arizona Memorial, and the Mighty Mo (Missouri). It was a visit that was very interesting and the enormity of what happened there is hard to grasp even when you are looking at the actual locations. Here are a few pictures of the event.

Here are a few little facts I picked up that I thought worth mentioning:

The Arizona was hit with a torpedo launched from a Japanese plane and was struck in the forward magazine. They showed video of the actual event (of which I never knew existed) and it was impressive. The entire ship lurched out of the water and the aftermath is what you usually see in footage (the billowing black smoke).

1177 men went down with the ship which sunk in 7 minutes.

21 ships were sunk or beached and all but 3 were resurrected and put into service during WWII.

The duty watch officer was informed by an enlisted radar tech that there was a large formation coming at the island. Thinking that it was a squadron of B-52 bombers that was due in, the watch officer told him to ignore it and that they were expected. Oops.

The base had their Christmas party the night before and most of the sailors were fast asleep, likely sleeping off a hangover on a Sunday morning. Therefore, the ships’ berthing areas were full of sleeping sailors when the attack happened.

The Japanese general who orchestrated the attack did so in protest. He thought they’d get their behinds kicked if the US got involved in the war. But he did his duty and did it well. I assume that he didn’t do a little jig and sing “I told you so” when the mushroom cloud appeared.

I sensed a bit of irony when I was being shuttled out to the memorial in a small tourist boat when I looked beside me to see a Japanese tourist sitting next to me. In fact, the majority of the boat was full of Japanese tourists. I bet they were uncomfortable. I mean, how would they feel if I sat next to them on the way to the Hiroshima memorial?

We spent New Year’s Eve with friends and with people we had just met. It was an ecletic group to say the least. Carrie and I were the token Californian Marine types. There was an older civilian black couple and a Navy SEAL and his wife. Add in the Michigan Swiantek’s on the Navy side and you are left with the super-geeky Navy brain trust to round out the group. I don’t mean to offend because the guy seemed so smart that I was jealous but he really looked like the teacher that was on the side of the Nerds in the Revenge of the Nerds movies. Nice guy, just wallowing in his nerdiness. If only I had such commitment…

We all had a good time but the women in the group came up with the brilliant idea to play the Newlywed Board Game. OK, so let me get this straight; we all just met and now we are going to air our most secret marriage intimacies cleverly described by the term “whoopee”? Wow, sounds like a plan. The SEAL was thrilled.

After us men were forced at knifepoint to participate, the women retired to the deck and the men stayed behind as a less than comfortable feeling enveloped the entire group. The first question was something like “If an artist wanted to paint your wife’s picture, what will your wife say would be her worst angle: her front, her back, or her profile.”

All I could hear in my head was “DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!”

There is no right answer to this. This game was made by a lesbian, bent on destroying married men and horribly scarring a husband’s private areas by irate wives (and not necessarily his own). I mean, what in the hell am I supposed to say to this? None of the answers would NOT rate a kick in the orbs.

It was Star Trek’s Kirbyoshi Maru all over again so like Captain Kirk, I changed the rules. Spock would have been proud. I just refused to answer and that’s what I wrote on the paper. Screw it, let everyone hate me but I was NOT going to answer that. I’ll let all the other fools try to talk their way out of their dumb ass answer and/or justification but not me. Call me a chicken but all I have to say is “BagAAAAK!”

The rest of the night went fine, after we all learned things like what act made us feel most homosexual and the like. I don’t know, knowing that one guy wore his wife’s underwear once really didn’t score high on my “Want to know about you” chart. Truth be told, that was a double-trouble question since both husband and wife rarely told of the same event. All and all, a bad call by the females.

So we ate, drank, ate some more, and drank (did I mention we drank?) until midnight when, like the fools that we are, thought it necessary to go out front and light fireworks for the kids. Hey junior, being up late and then mixing alcohol with pyrotechnics; hope your taking notes. Only one kid grabbed the wrong end of a recently lit sparkler and learned what a burn blister is. Ah, education to boot.

I bid 2002 a fond farewell and looking back on the year as a whole, I can’t complain. I started it with drinking with friends and ended it the same. In between I saw joy, pain, fatigue, anger, frustration, contentment, achievement, exhaustion, irritation, loneliness, and outright love. In other words, it was a wonderful year in the life of Jason D. Grose.

Sunday, January 5, 2003

Extra Bits and Pieces (OK, late entries, but I was busy!!!)

I have cracked the code for the Hawaiian language. Here’s what I learned at the Polynesian Cultural Center: The word “Aloha” is actually the Hawaiian phrase meaning “Bring your money to our island so we can fleece you, you white mainlander trash.” Similar but different is the word “Mahalo” which they would have you believe means “Thank you” but is actually the phrase “Leave our paradise island you white mainlander scum.” Once I realized this, I understood why both words were said with a smile and with such fever by the locals.

People will tell you “You HAVE to see the Polynesian Cultural Center when you are there.” After experiencing it first hand, I would counter that statement with “You HAVE to kiss my hairy white ass.”

I have made it no secret that I’m not the Hawaiian culture’s biggest fan and after going to the HQ for it, I have to admit, I’m still not a big fan. We answered their call for “aloha” and ponied up the dead presidents for the show. I will not complain about every attraction being shut down by the time we got there late in the afternoon because it allowed me to miss what was sure to be more fodder for this entry. But I will point out that the souvenir shop was in full swing and willing to aloha you dry. But just how many ugly shirts, wooden bowls, seashell horns, and puka shell necklaces can one person possess?

By the time the show started, I had successfully refrained from any purchases (my wife on the other hand was playing right into their little scheme. Aloha.). All I really wanted to see is a brown man shooting fire out of his mouth. Is that too much to ask?

But I had to sit through the entire experience. It occurred to me that what they call “culture” is strikingly similar to that of the behavior of cavemen. What I mean is that everything they showed us was just humans making due with what they had on hand and never furthering the technology. Need some pants? Use a big leaf. Need music? Let’s bang these two sticks together. Maybe I’m not conveying my meaning very well but what I’m trying to say is that either we use advanced forms of what they use or they use primitive forms of things we have improved upon. Maybe its both but I found it rather boring to watch caveman technology being celebrated. Any minute I expected the back of the stage to crack open and see King Kong chained up.

Another thought that entered my head is what I was watching may have been the last thing some poor explorer schmuck saw before becoming the main course. This thought hit me when I was watching the New Zealand portion of the show where they had their faces and chests painted in black stripes and sticking out their tongues for a fierce effect.

Two minor things that bothered me and likely only me was the tongue thing (really dumb looking and seemingly inviting annihilation by an opposing force “Hey, let’s take these idiots’ island. They’re last defense is sticking out their tongues. I think I heard one say ‘na na na na, na’”.

The other, hardly worth mentioning, is something that I have no idea exactly why it bothers me. During the hula dancing when the women are waving around their arms like a couple of pilots talking about flying, they do this subtle little head tilt. I don’t know what it means and likely goes mostly unnoticed by most but it’s this quick jerking twist that rotates the head just slightly. I don’t know, just bugs me.

The whole illusion lost some of it’s credibility when they used different ethnicities. Somehow, the black guy stood out. One of the men looked like an accountant and then there was a woman who had as much Polynesian blood running through her veins as Tiny Tim. Come on guys, this is not an equal opportunity issue! I think this is one time we can safely turn away people of diverse cultures without worrying about racist intent. For all my complaining, I would have liked to stick with Hawaiian performers on this one.

I finally got my brown guy spitting fire. Actually he just licked the end of the torch, a slightly questionable portion of the act for its sexual overtones and the fact that … he’s licking the fire end of a torch. Mostly, he used the torch as a baton and threw it around to loud music. Even though he dropped the damn thing twice, he got my grudging respect when he started flinging around two at once. What exactly would this look like on a resume?

While I’m pissing off all Hawaiians reading this, let me address the music. If you like it, great. My opinion, yikes. But then you probably think my Sarah McLachlan is noise. Fair enough. But there’s this hero they have whose name is “Iz.” Now Iz looks like he tipped the scales at an even 500 lbs, give or take a metric ton. If he’s the Hawaiian hero, fine. But did he have to put himself on the cover of every CD … with no shirt? Come on, there are better ways to sell music. I heard he died recently so please forgive me bashing the dead. I didn’t do the research but I’ll go out on a limb and guess obesity was somewhere in the "cause of death" block. Hey, I have to address obnoxious situations anywhere I find them.

Saturday, January 4, 2003

The “EXTRA DAY” in Hawaii.

We were supposed to leave today (Saturday) but the Air Force decided in their random way that today’s flights would be sparse. We found out there were only 4 seats going on the 0700 flight and getting all four of those would drain all the lottery luck we would ever had so we decided to sleep in and wait. There was a C-5 leaving around midnight so we hedged our bets to get one of the 70 seats on that flight.

I started the day in the most stereotypic Hawaiian event I could think of: taking a morning walk on the beach. Trying to get anyone up to join me was useless since I practically had to yell at the kids the day prior to get them to do it so I thought a little “Jason” time was in order. It was a good time to reflect on my vacation and think about the school quarter ahead but I still managed to find a bit of humor even at the early hour.

There was some guy asleep on the beach and my mind searched around to put some hypothetical pieces together of how he got there. Was it a hard drinking binge? A life long dream fulfilled? Just plain weirdness? Whatever the reason, he was half on the towel he used as a bed and the lower half of him was in the sand. Maybe I’m too much of a creature comfort guy but that would have made for a nasty sleep for me (bare feet dug into the sand all night). I can put up with a lot of things when I sleep but that’s not one of them. What a great idiosyncrasy for a Marine. Anyway, I wondered if he was dead on my way back and it struck me that it sounded like the same story you hear on the news: “Yeah, I was just walking along the beach and I found this guy. I thought he was asleep at first but it ends up he was dead. I should have known because he didn’t seem to mind that his toes were dug in the sand.”

The next sight that sticks in my mind was an elderly couple taking a stroll. Now before you start imagining a Hallmark Card commercial, let me point out why this scene struck me. On this morning sun drenched beach in Hawaii, with the ocean waves lapping the shore, this elderly lady was romantically strolling with her life long mate… and talking on her cell phone. What a scene. I have a cell phone but still find it monumentally rude to ignore my present company who is with me IN THE FLESH to talk to someone on a phone. It really made me think of how technology has changed the way we interact with each other. Not even the furthest beaches on Hawaii are immune: we are always in touch whether we like it or not. If I was the old man, I’d whip out my own cell phone, call her, and call her a bitch and then hang up and walk like nothing happened. But that’s just me.

Back to the story: the fact remained that I had a free day in Hawaii so what to do!! Well, it was obvious: go to the Dole Plantation. Yipee!! I need psychological help.

But the trip was not a total wash because we were treated to the Guinness Book of World Records entry as the largest maze in the world. For the incredible cost of $5 per adult and $3 per child, we were able to walk through this giant maze made of some viney hedge bush thing. I took the kids on this journey and the deal was to find 6 colored boxes in the shortest amount of time. I wonder if Guinness has a record for getting lost in the biggest maze in the world. If so, tell them I need to talk to them.

For all you Marine Officers reading this, it was land nav all over again but this time, you were in a stinkin’ maze with no map!! I almost expected to run into frazzled lieutenants looking like smashed ass at every turn. But it didn’t take long to re-learn what I had learned years ago in the forests of Quantico: look for the gathering of people through the vegetation and you will find the boxes. I knew my days at TBS would pan out some day.

For those of you who didn’t understand the last paragraph, the other powerful reference that kept creeping into my head was “The Shining”. Yes, it was just like that hedge except there was no insane Jack Nicholson with an axe chasing you. Hell, maybe there was but finding your way through seemed just as life threatening. I kept envisioning them finding my emaciated form in the deepest corner, smiling.

The sign said the average time was 15 to 30 minutes to make it out. The record was 8 minutes (likely by a very sad individual who actually took pride in the fact). In a whopping 56 minutes, the Marine and his two off spring emerged. Hey, I may be a Marine but don’t be worried: I doubt if America will find itself in a war where victory depends on finding the enemy in shrub mazes. But if we do, screw it and drop a daisy cutter smack dab in the middle. There, no more problem.

After making out of the Dolt Maze (notice the sly wit), we had to get one more look at the North Shore. Not only was in the first beach we went to (therefore all others paled in comparison, as reminded to us by our son about a trillion times) but it is the most famous home of the most famous waves in Hawaii. It was a windy day so the promise was there to see something pretty spectacular if not frightening.

We were not disappointed. Every beach was closed off because of the size and power of the waves. I say that they let anyone out there who is foolish enough to take the chance. Hell, I’d gladly pay the money the rest of the island was clamoring to suck out of my wallet just to watch Darwinism at work. These waves were of the killer variety and sounded like thunder as they smashed into craggy rocks that shot mist 50 feet into the air. It was hard NOT to think about how it would be to be standing right where they smashed. Of course this feeling would last about a nanosecond before what used to be you became a pink mist mixed in with the ocean spray.

Thus ended the vivid images that are in my head about my Hawaiian vacation. Now I’m where I began (sort of) by waiting at Hickum Air Force base waiting to get on a flight that leaves at 0120. Free flights come at odd times but hey, free is free. I’m tired, cranky, a long way from home, and 30 hours away from my next quarter starting. Vacations are so special.

Friday, January 3, 2003

Hunami Bay: a bay populated by all these colorful tropical fish and coral who are probably pretty pissed that an even greater number of humans are splashing around in it all day.

This is one of those “got to see” places in Hawaii and I will admit, it was pretty cool despite the sucking sound made by the vacuuming of my wallet to enjoy this. We had to pay to park. Pay to get into the bay area. Pay for the snorkeling equipment. I even had a fish request a dollar before he’d show me his coral home (kidding). But the coral cuts were completely free and in a philanthropic act hereunto unseen on this trip, the life guard actually gave us two band aids for free. I was stupefied.

As described in the 7 minute required video (“moo” went the herded tourists) the bay was formed millions of years ago when a volcano punched a hole in the land mass near the shore. Then the water spilled over and filled up the hole to form the bay. It seems that Hawaiian royalty used to horde the place to themselves way back. Boy, would they be pissed now. Now it’s populated by white mainlander trash and capitalistic (monopolistic) local parasites.

After being processed like cheese (don’t touch anything, don’t take anything, disturbing the fish is a federal offense, don’t feed anything, leave lots of money, have a great day) we made the trek down to the bay and stood in line to get the snorkel equipment. The variety was dizzying but came down to “The $7 Cheap Bastard Package A: for those that don’t really want to enjoy themselves and want to spend the day cussing about the saltwater that can’t decide whether to run down your snorkel or stay in your eyes.” Or, for an astonishing low price of $2 more you can get the “Dry Package” which translates “Pay or be miserable.”

At this point, let me share that the kids were driving me bonkers. Put two kids together on a Hawaiian vacation void of television and you have the potential for non stop bickering. I have two such kids. So when we decided to spring for 4 “Deluxe Dry Snorkel” set ups, it was but a temporary defense against the whining. This armistice was broken when we found out that kids’ sizes are only in the “Cheap Bastard” category. Let loose the bellyaching!!!

True to form, the kids sucked every last grain of joy out of the experience. I actually looked forward to getting into the water because it occurred to me that underwater, they couldn’t continue their barrage of complaints. Silly me, what was I thinking? They simply poked me until I came up and then wailed at me concerning their substandard snorkeling equipment. They finally had to settle on just using the leaky masks and holding their breath between peeks. This was relatively fine until we got to the reefs.

Had Carrie and I been allowed to enjoy the scenery, it would have been breathtaking. The bottom of the bay was covered with coral and there were the most colorful fish I had ever seen swimming around all around us (I think they wanted more of our money). It really looked like one of those Discovery Channel shows. But as we got a bit further out, the reef rose up to a point where we were in an inch of water. This combined with the fact that the waves were crashing on it (and us) made for what the fish probably enjoyed as the daily “Let’s watch the humans get raked across the coral” show. I fared better than the children but we all got more than a few cuts. This of course ended the minimal amount of fun for the kids who then insisted that a trip back to shore was necessary where they took inventory of their wounds and then bickered about who had more, what actually qualified as a “cut”, and the relative pain value associated with each wound..

Oh well, only $50 for a half hour of snorkeling. I could hear the fish laughing. At least we got to sit on the beach and enjoy the sun while the kids played in the surf. And if you ask them afterward, it was a great day. You would think that since I’m pretty sure I was a kid at one time, I’d understand them better. You’d think…

We are the Kings of Sunscreen so none of us got burnt but the sun still takes its toll on the energy level. By the time we left, most of my life force was gone and we barely made it back to the cabin before I yelled “TIMBER” and took an afternoon nap. The kids? Back to the beach. I better check their rooms for drugs because no one can have that much energy naturally.

After wiping the dried spittle from my check and discovering a lack of beer in the fridge, I shuffled out to the beach to join the family who were enjoying the Hawaiian surf (and coveted my beloved Coors in the cooler). The kids had never missed a beat and were trying to body surf with the boogie boards Carrie had rented. After a couple of beers (vacation is great) I decided to join them.

Body surfing is fun…. When you are good at it. When you’re not, it has a striking resemblance to thrashing around in the surf trying not to let saltwater invade every orifice in your body. I did catch about 3 in as many hours of trying and the kids loved that I was out there with them. For all of my complaining about their complaining, I’m smart enough to know that just being there is most of the fun for kids. We spent the rest of the afternoon frolicking in the Hawaiian surf. I can’t think of too many things better than that.

Wednesday, January 1, 2003

On New Year’s Day, we were laying on Waikiki Beach. How many times in your life can you say that?

We bid farewell to our friends, the Swianteks, but not before confiscating their vehicle (thanks for the $150 rental savings). We intended to hit the Aloha Bowl stadium where they were supposed to have some big swap meet but I guess the prior night’s celebration was a bit much for the coordinators because that puppy was locked up tighter than a drum. So much for seeing the location of the Pro Bowl. Oh well.

We went to the NEX which is sad because it was an actual treat for us to visit a huge PX store. Both 29 Palms and Monterey, for all their riches, has a PX system that is, well, lacking. But on the smart side, we could get anything we needed, including souvenirs, at prices that don’t leave you feeling like you have spur marks on your hips.

One story I will relay, just to complain, is that I wanted a coffee for the road from the SBC shop next to the entrance to the main mall. After getting it, I turned to go through the mall to get to the car where I was met by one of the employees (NOT “associate” if you are familiar with my disdain for that reference). Likely a local, this ancient witch could have been present when volcanoes formed this island. She had watched me purchase my coffee and as I approached with ID card in hand, she gave me a big shit-eating grin that would scare Satan himself and told me I could not bring my drink into the mall.

Let’s just say my reaction was less than gentlemanly. The kids were going nuts to get going so they could get to the beach so this meant that we had to sit around while I finished before we could get to our car. It made the coffee even more bitter than a Starbucks.

OK, I’m done. Off my chest.

Once we got out of there, we made our way to the Holly Coa (I will purposely misspell almost every Hawaii reference in these BLOGs just on principle. Since they make it tough, I’ll make it easy) where we got checked in. For those of you that don’t know, this wonderful motel is for military members and is smack dab in the middle of Waikiki Beach.

For the first time in my life, I was upgraded to a better room without asking. Of course, I was like Steve Martin in The Jerk after he got rich (“There’s so many snails on her plate, you can’t even SEE the food!!!”) and made a mockery of tipping the bell boy. Parking was another exercise in retardation so I’ll skip the details.

We got to our room which had a spectacular view of the city of Waikiki, 10 stories above it all. We even had a terrace and immediately warned the kids that there would be no climbing at all. I’m not talented enough to pen a song by the likes of “Tears In Heaven” and would not have handled it well. But it didn’t matter because we had to get to the pool before the kids slit my throat.

I saw the human body it all its beauty and all its horrid possibilities. Exactly how is a man supposed to avoid the obvious when walking with wife and kids and a excruciatingly perfect little hottie walks past with a two piece bikini that would make the Pope bite his knuckle? Ironically, she was the first woman I saw (which made me wonder exactly what I was in for for the rest of the day) and the last of that caliber. The rest were a poor facsimile and mostly of the little teen variety in an almost-woman body. You know, the kind that you should not be looking at for fear of common decency and jail time but have to take notice if you have a Y chromosome.

On the horrid end of the spectrum, well, there were a lot of retired folks. The human body does not age well and … well … it was just nasty. Skin falling off, hair in places where there shouldn’t be, no hair where there should be, and bones protruding like pillowcases full of baseball bats. There were also the Santa wannabees which all served as a reminder that life is short and then we start falling apart. God bless them, they were out there having fun but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy beholding my future. I knew that some of these men had sacrificed their bodies in times of war and found a level of utmost respect in their difficulties. May I never have to follow in their footsteps but if the call is made, may I be as honorable in my answer regardless of the cost.

So I found myself on New Years Day with some Hawaiian drink (with the requisite tiny umbrella and alcohol content of moonshine and the kick of rocket fuel) on Waikiki Beach watching the old and the young doing the same as I was: enjoying the fact that I was soaking up the atmosphere of a tropical island in the middle of winter. The moment was not lost on me.

That night, after dinner, Alex felt a bit queasy and wanted to stay back in the hotel while the rest of us went shopping on the strip. If I was smarter than I claim to be, I would have ignored his insistence that I join Steph and his mother. Shopping is such a chick thing and at Waikiki, it’s also a freak show. So me and my tendency for understanding, acceptance, and diversity set out to join the ladies for a little walk on the beach and boardwalk.

What I could have used is magazines and magazines of ammunition and the license to take out any and all freak shows I saw fit. It would have been a bloody night. I found myself playing bdy guard for my two girls from the hordes of humanity that crowded the downtown area.

I have little, OK, absolutely no, patience for street performers. A few that bothered me included the robot man, the lame bum-with-a-dog act, and the break dancers. Let me elaborate.

Robot man: black guy with dreads sticking out the back and some kind of Fat Albert junk yard outfit that boasted duct tape strips for gloves and denim jeans with spray pain on them. He had some kind of cheesy chest piece set up with random bits of wiring (bravo on the few blinking lights) and a face mask made up of dark glasses and cardboard something or other. He had a mouth piece that made a hydraulic movement sound which he sounded every time he “robotically” moved his body. I’ll give him credit that he could move well but the whole thing was, in my opinion, one hell of a cheesy way to make a living. Maybe just my disdain for street performers but nonetheless, bothered me.

But not as much as Mr. bum-with-a-dog. That’s about the extent of the act. The bum would put on a pair of sunglasses on the dog and give him the command to lay down with his head resting on his own paws. Ta-da, end of act. I think the only thing sadder than this is the immediate crowd that would form when this little scenario played out. “Please take my money Mr. Lame Bum With A Dog. I’m too stupid to retain monetary reserves. Oh, and hold that pose while I take about seven roles of film of the event.” Where’s my next magazine?

Lastly, I will spout out about the break dancers. The big crowd really had me interested and when I elbowed my way to the front, I was suddenly transported back 15 years. All this interest for a bunch of Hawaiian teens (with the most God-awful haircuts) exploring the intricacies of spinning on their heads and posturing in circles like they were from Brooklyn in the mid 80s. But oh, the interest they created. Coulda sprayed the entire crowd!!

Honorable mentions:

The Alice Cooper look-alike with the “Got Weed?” tattoo and a felt hat for offerings behind a handwritten piece of paper that read “Ask Mr. Doom Anything.” How about, “Why are you so f#$%#$% up?” I thought better of it because I’m sure he’s have a rehearsed answer. How couldn’t he?

The magic ring guy. This wouldn’t have even made the list except that he screwed up two of the three tricks I watched, dropping the rings as they rolled into the crowd and then getting stumped when he had too many rings to work with. I just kept thinking “The sound of those rings clanging together for the hours it must take to get good enough to perform would drive me to the Drooling Academy.”

Props (I thought I’d use the street lingo here. I know, that hat don’t fit too well)

The only street performers I saw that I actually paid money for were worth the donation. The act was a type of juggling trio that took turns. The one I saw was a kid with two sticks connected by a string and a kind of metal contraption consisting of two cones connected at the tips. He would catch the middle with the string and it would roll from side to side with a type of gyroscopic motion. He flung them high in the air and caught them on the string. The rest is beyond description because he flung it, spun it, tangled his limbs, etc. in ways you’d have to see to understand. Notice I did not say "believe" because I saw it and still found it a bit difficult to trust my eyes. I donated just because it was obvious that the kid was talented and that he had practiced his art. It was true entertainment I thought worthy of support.

Email -- jason@grose.us
Web -- http://www.grose.us/