Saturday, December 24, 2005

closed until january

We’re off for Christmas with Clan Camino and then further south for a few days on the Alabama coast.

I hope you all eat too much, drink too much, and receive everything you asked for. May you all then be giddy as children and eventually pass out somewhere in the middle of repeated viewings of A Christmas Story on TBS.
See you in aught-six.

Friday, December 23, 2005

speaking beasts on christmas eve

According to European folklore, animals are given the power of speech for one hour on Christmas Eve. I firmly believed this as a child, but each year brought only another fruitless attempt at conversing with our Collie.

You’ve probably heard about this before, but you can read about it here, here, or any number of other places on the Internet.

I only wish that I had access to a loquacious kinkajou tomorrow night, as my own beasts tend to use their hour for an airing of grievances.
don't believe him
It should be noted that talking animals do not always speak the truth.

rosie saves christmas

The over-materialism of Christmas certainly bothers me, but I’ve never let it interfere with my love of receiving stuff. I even find that it’s almost better now that I’m a full-grown man and expected to work to buy things on my own. It is good to have an occasion in which people simply give you things just for being around another year or because they love you or you love Jesus or for whatever reason it is that exchange gifts at Christmas.

Yes, but doesn’t the part about buying everyone else a gift sort of even everything out?

Shit. I knew I was suppose to be doing something this week.

To be honest, I really do love receiving more than giving. I find that I tend to get more out of it when I literally get more out of something, but that’s just me. Sure, I’m happy to see that I’ve made those around me happy by giving them things, but not as happy as I am to see how happy they are at seeing my happiness from receiving their gifts.

Then again, there is always that one aunt or uncle who seems to seek out a sweater seemingly comprised of horsehair dyed an assortment of tasteless colors and woven in to the most uninteresting patterns. In those dark moments you have to either feign happiness or hold the damn thing up between you and the family while weeping silently behind it. God help you if someone is wandering about with a video camera to capture the gathering for the ages—although I have given quite a few Oscar worthy performances in Christmases past, if I do say so myself. Meryl freakin’ Streep couldn’t have done a better job of selling my aunt Christine on the pure joy of receiving that Rosie Greer autobiography back in ’93.

Rosie Greer is a self-described “gentle giant”. He was friends with Robert Kennedy and has appeared in a number of paper towel commercials. Mr. Greer is a big fan of simple sentences and large print. His book contained many photographs of Rosie Greer standing with people more interesting than Rosie Greer.

But Rosie did teach me this: the gifts we give at Christmas are important, and shitty gifts can hurt.

Which is precisely why I went with Mrs. Camino to shop for our angel tree child this year. She even let me pick the card off the tree, and I chose a nine-month-old who preferred musical toys. I got the loudest, most obnoxious ones I could find while Mrs. Camino shopped for baby clothes. I don’t know much about babies, but they appear to care very little for fashion.

However, babies seem to be easily amused, and I’m pretty sure we provided a bit of amusement for one little girl. She is probably too young to appreciate the Rosie Greer autobiography I left at the bottom of the bag, but I suppose it is never too early to try and teach the harsh lessons of life.
Next year some kid might get a bicycle and the most repulsive sweater I can find.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

rex's holiday memories: valentine's day 1985-86

You may be sitting there thinking that Rex L. Camino doesn’t remember back to fourth grade when you were his girlfriend for two weeks in February just to get candy on Valentine’s Day and then dumped him on February 15th. If so, you may also think that Rex doesn’t remember you doing the same damn thing the next year in fifth grade.

You would be incorrect on both counts.

You may now be thinking that the fact you currently reside in a trailer park somewhere back in Alabama with a full brood of bastard offspring and a boyfriend with a meth lab in the trailer next door is a sort of karmic justice that somehow pardons you and keeps you from Rex’s super secret, yet all too real enemies list.
It does not.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

rex's holiday memories: new year's eve 1981

My older cousin sawed the handle end off of an aluminum baseball bat that year to use as a makeshift bazooka for his assortment mostly legal fireworks. He fired upon us as we ran around the open field. I remained relatively safe most of the evening, as my cat-like swiftness was evident even then. It felt good to be fired upon, and my young ego was embiggened.
Then I got singed by a mere bottle rocket and commenced to yelping like a little bitch.
Later on in high school I would engage in much the same thing every December 31st and 4th of July. The big difference then was that I was quite drunk, and there is no greater pain resisting and ego embiggening agent than alcohol.

rex's holiday memories: christmas 2001

Christmas 2001 fell near the beginning of my two years as an office temp in east Tennessee. I worked that month in a bank warehouse in Blount County where materials were printed and checks were processed. My job was to mail bounced checks back to people, mainly overzealous Christmas shoppers or churchgoers who couldn’t quite back up that Sunday’s offerings.

Happy birthday, Jesus.

Anyway, the women in that office were a miserable lot who spoke only of where to buy the cheapest carton of generic smokes or how their husbands were unemployed, drunk, and never touched them anymore. They ranged in age from an eighteen year old mother of two to a sixty-five year old grandmother who went around singing “All I want for Christmas is some sex” all day.

There are things, horrible things that a person simply can never hope to erase from memory, and she is one of them. She will be there when and if my life ever flashes before my eyes, and I know that I will no longer struggle to cling to my earthly form then.

The only tolerable woman was a quiet middle-aged divorcee recently laid off from Hobby Lobby by the name of Phyllis. I mention her only because everyone referred to her as “Feel this”.

It was a henhouse of despair and sexual neglect, and those were the longest six weeks of my life.
There was only one other man in the department. He was possibly the only black man in this particular corner of Blount County and definitely the only black man I had seen with a mullet since the last significant Jackson 5 tour. He was even quieter than “Feel this” and spent each of his breaks sitting alone at a table in the cafeteria reading through high school football magazines. Football seemed the obvious topic of conversation when I found myself sitting beside him at the Christmas party.

“Like high school football?” I asked. I can be quite the conversationalist when required.

He looked up long enough from a magazine open to pictures of sweaty high school boys working out to say “No”. Then he took his stack of magazines and shuffled off to another table.

I was sore afraid.

Anyway, that Christmas sucked, and every subsequent Christmas, no matter how uneventful, has been all the more appreciated.

Monday, December 19, 2005

unable to let sleeping goats lie

I have already mentioned her way too many times on this humble little blog. Too be honest, I find her neither attractive nor all that interesting, but she is bound to surface anytime I google kinkajous for my own amusement. She has stayed long past her allotted fifteen minutes, and I certainly would prefer to do my part in assisting the collective unconscious to completely erase her existence from memory, but a goat is hard thing to simply let pass without mentioning.
Does she really have a goat now? Are goats the next trend in fashionable pets? Will there be a boom in goat breeding that eventually leads to a multitude of discarded goats? Would you, by any chance, go see a band named "Discarded Goats"? What about "googling kinkajous for my own amusement"? Is that even legal? Is the goat thing old news? If not, then how can a self respecting journalist just bury this fact in the middle of the story?
I think the last one kind of answers itself.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

i see you when i'm sleeping

Mrs. Camino swears that I was sleeping with my eyes open the other night.

Now, any number of current and former coworkers and even a few passengers in the Rexmobile will attest to the fact that I sometimes appear comatose while maintaining the minimal amount of energy and enthusiasm for any given task. However, this rarely happens during the time allotted for slumber.
Perhaps this is a trade off for my seemingly vanquished insomnia.
Then again, it could be just another way of keeping my enemies at bay, namely Santa (the cat known on this blog as) Bukowski, as he tends to prey on the sleeping.
a cat and his eggnog
Although he is rarely caught on film, a glass of eggnog left on the counter last year retarded his cat-like swiftness just enough for me to snap this.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

happy monkey day

Some of you have grown tired of Christmas either through commercial oversaturation, the overly enthusiastic, people looking for religious fights, or some personal dispute that you may have with my Jesus. Perhaps you have even turned your back on the assortment of other holidays in the holiday season and find that none of these offerings cover what you are looking for in a holiday.
Then again, there are those of you who can't get enough and wish that December only had more to offer in the area of festive occasions.
Fear not, for I have something for you both.
December 14th is officially Monkey Day, and I think we can all come together over that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

happy birthday, steve buscemi

Steve Buscemi

The character actor probably best known for Fargo and Reservoir Dogs was born in Brooklyn on this day in 1957. He is a slightly odd looking man with the ability to play psychos, sympathetic losers, and psycho sympathetic losers—not unlike a modern day Peter Lorre, if you will. I liked him best in Ghost World, The Big Lebowski, and in his recurring role on the under appreciated Nickelodeon series from the early nineties, “The Adventures of Pete and Pete”.

His name, by the way, is pronounced "Buss-ehm-ee", not "Boo-see-me". I have gone with this second pronounciation for years now and I have been wrong. However, any number of Camino relatives would have probably interpreted it as "Bucks-am-I".

Here are seven things you might not have known about Steve Buscemi:

1. He resembles director John Waters so much that Waters once jokingly sent out Christmas cards bearing Buscemi’s photo instead of his own.

2. He auditioned for the role of George Costanza on “Seinfeld”.

3. His short cameos are often the best things about any Adam Sandler film.

4. He frequented bars around Montgomery, AL while filming Big Fish and often bought rounds of drinks for all in attendance.

5. He has been in five Coen brother films, and his character was killed in three of them.

6. He has directed several episodes of “The Sopranos”.

7. He was a New York City firefighter in the early eighties and continues to serve as a volunteer fireman. In the days after 9/11 he worked anonymously alongside other volunteer firemen to sift through the rubble of the World Trade Center.

the important christmas list (revisited)

The problem with making any list concerning music is that something will always be left out. There will always be a glaring omission in your desert island collection that waits to avail itself just when you’ve crawled on shore and broken out the boom box and unlimited supply of batteries (or however it is that you account for the power source). These lists are seemingly meaningless, though lovers of music will agonize over them as if their composition was as significant to our individuality as DNA or that time we accidentally killed a hobo and buried him in the backyard.

So I knew that the list I left on Newton's blog last week was less than perfect and that some embarrassingly neglected Christmas song would somehow find me between then and December 25th.

Indeed it did. The prophecy was fulfilled last weekend when Otis Redding’s “Merry Christmas, Baby” came on the radio. He was one of the great singers with that ability to reach through the speakers and down your ear canal to grab your soul by the throat, and this song is the complete antithesis of those cold and impersonal sounds of Manheim Steamroller.* It certainly belongs at or near the top of my list.

But the other problem with musical lists is that they are fluid. What sits at number five today could either be off the list or at number one tomorrow. Bearing all this in mind, here are my top five Christmas songs at this particular moment in time.

1. “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby
2. “Merry Christmas, Baby” by Otis Redding
3. “Baby Please Come Home” by Darline Love
4. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Dean Martin
5. “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues

*Which isn’t to say that even Manheim Steamroller doesn’t have its place. Some family gatherings require that sort of thing.

Monday, December 12, 2005

celebrity birthday

Today would have been the 90th birthday of Kennedy supporter and father of Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra. I think he also had a music career of sorts.
Here he is with a Nixon supporter and future DEA agent.
frank and elvis
They were only friends, I think.

Friday, December 09, 2005

rex's homemade christmas decorations

It was a slow day at work. A couple of coworkers were fashioning Christmas statues and ornaments from clay, and I was quick to join in, as I would much prefer arts and crafts to whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing there.

Anyway, their creations were quite good, while mine seemed a little more abstract. They were not necessarily Christmas themed, but it was determined that the addition of a Santa hat immediately rendered any figure full of the holiday spirit and therefore appropriate.
Upon completion, mine engaged in a tournament of sorts.
The Blue Christmas Elephant drew the dreaded Christmas Brontosaurus for the first match. Logic would dictate that the Christmas Brontosaurus would win, but logic never takes into account the sheer force of will. The Blue Christmas Elephant prevailed despite the Bront's clear advantage on paper, but that, ladies and gentleman, is why we play the game.
Next up was the contst between the Christmas Cactus and the Christmas Thanksgiving Turkey With Odd Rabbit-Like Feet So That It Can Stand Upright. In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that the second figure was a failed attempt at a bear. At any rate, the peculiar nature of the Christmas Thanksgiving Turkey With Odd Rabbit-Like Feet So That It Can Stand Upright proved to be too much of a mind game for the Christmas Cactus, and victory was awarded the Turkey.
So it was that the Blue Christmas Elephant faced the Christmas Turkey With The Name Too Long To Repeat Each Time He is Mentioned in a true battle for supremecy among the clay figures that I fashioned when I should have been doing whatever it is I do at this place of business. The Turkey again had the clear psychological advantage over the Blue Elephant, and things looked quite bleak until our hero realized that he had been created without eyes and therefore could not even see the Christmas Thanksgiving Turkey With Odd Rabbit-Like Feet So That It Can Stand Upright in the first place. He emerged victorious, and I eventually named him "Pepe" for some reason.
Well done, Pepe.
But the Christmas Thanksgiving Turkey With Odd Rabbit-Like Feet So That It Can Stand Upright began to bother even me, and so I shaped it to appear a bit more turkey-like and placed it into a pan made from siver clay. I then assembled the figures into a Nativity scene in the spirit of good sportsmanship and for a possible Christmas card photo.
Perhaps not.

a monkey update

Performing street monkeys in Indonesia are giving folks retroviruses. I believe that signs of a "retrovirus" include the wearing of much polyester, but do not quote me on that, as I am no longer licensed to practice medicine in the continental US.

Anyway, don't pet the street monkeys. This story gives you all the details and provides a picture of bicycle riding monkey that slightly resembles Tom Waits.
And in other monkey news...
Folks keep showing up here through searches similar to this one, and I assume that it is part of their Christmas shopping.
Don't say you weren't warned, folks. However, if you proceed with the procurement of your kinkajou and then realize your error, you will also be able to find me with this search, as some already have.
I only pray that it won't be too late.
And in news that has nothing to do with monkeys but clearly falls under the heading of unwise housepets...
I've never understood having a bird as a pet. They are loud, unclean, and have a most unsettling odor about them. I fear them, to be honest. I once had a friend who worked at a pet store explain to me how easily a parrot could snap one of my digits from my hand with only the slightest motion of its sharp little beak. I immediately withdrew my taunting finger from the cage and decided that bird ownership was not for me.
I was reminded of this recently by a great post from Todd A.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

wearing john malkovich

I didn't realize that he had gone into the clothing design business. He appears to have been in it for the last couple of years, and I have to wonder if I'm the only one who didn't know about this.

The actor best known for Being John Malkovich and being John Malkovich describes his Uncle Kimono clothing line as, "a men's wear collection which has resonance of late 1950's Californian beach boys, some Palm Springs Rat Pack, a touch of lounge lizards, and a recollection of a Swiss banker who's been let go."
We've all known the touch of lounge lizards, but I'm not sure it's something we want to be reminded of in a fifty dollar tee shirt or sixty dollar beret.
By the way, Malkovich turns 52 tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

happy birthday, tom waits

Thomas Alan Waits was born on this day in 1949 in Pomona, California.
tom waits
Does it get any cooler than Tom Waits? Of course not. He may be known for a throat that sounds like it gargled hot asphalt one too many times, but his songs would make for greater literature through any voice.
If you don't own anything by Waits, stop reading this and go purchase something immediately. Quit your job if you have to. I don't care that you have a family to feed and a mortgage to worry about. This is important, and you will thank me, no matter how desolate things become when you are cold and alone and living in a cardboard box with nothing but a stack of Tom Waits CDs that you carry from one hobo encampment to another tied in a handkerchief at the end of a stick over your shoulder. The other hobos will think you are the cat's meow, and they will be correct.
Right now, without owning anything by Tom Waits, you are whatever the opposite of the cat's meow is. I don't mean to call you out like this in front of everyone, but it is a necessarily drastic measure that I undertake because I care about you and only want the best for you.
And so does Tom.
piano tom

Monday, December 05, 2005

a solved case of mistaken identity in my pants

I always thought that one of the Fruit of the Loom characters was tobacco. There is the apple, a cluster of purple grapes, a cluster of green grapes, and a rust-tinged leafy fellow in the back who simply had to be tobacco, as he was a bit too reddish to be spinach. I suppose tobacco is more a vegetable than a fruit, but the five-year-old Rex saw nothing odd about his inclusion. Tobacco selling me underwear is no stranger than an apple striving for me to have the comfort and support under my clothing that I so richly deserve, and so I never really dwelled on it that much.

However, I did think it was odd that tobacco was still among them when the characters returned a few years ago. Attitudes toward tobacco had changed a great deal in his absence, and I would have thought that Fruit of the Loom might portray him as a villain or forget about him altogether. The tobacco companies had just been sued, and it seemed for a while in the mid to late nineties that anyone who simply looked at tobacco had a legal case against them (despite the fact that every tobacco product for the past three decades had contained a clear label warning of cancer. One might think it nothing more than an assumed risk…but I digress).

It turns out that he is simply a leaf. His bio on a website devoted to their god-awful country music video commercial (which is really no more god-awful than actual country music these days) describes him as such and lists the cowbell and glockenspiel among his many talents. He would appear to be the percussionist of the group.
Yes, you are correct in assuming that a leaf is not technically a fruit, but that is also explained in the bio (although a fig leaf would’ve been a more appropriate mascot than grapes, in my humble opinion).

Sunday, December 04, 2005

speaking of angry squirrels...

We seem to have been overwhelmed by wild animals going wild lately. The Vol Abroad has now placed squirrels and chipmunks alongside the mauling 'roos and dreaded kinkajous on our list of seemingly cute and docile creatures gone bad. Sadly, it is more than one man can handle.

But I must admit to feeling a bit responsible for the turning of the squirrels.

There were many tall squirrel inhabited trees behind our apartment in Knoxville (the trees were tall, not the squirrels). I would wait for them to creep onto our back deck and then quickly open the back door to unleash my fattened, yet excited Brittany Spaniel upon them. They would scatter and sometimes get caught in the netting we had to keep the cat on the deck, but the dog you know as "Carl Weathers" never got his jaws on any of them.

Still, they were understandably pissed off and would actually throw nuts at me sometimes when I was grilling out. The little bastards are certainly capable of carrying a grudge.

Luckily, there are no tall trees or tall or short squirrels about the meager grounds surrounding Casa Camino.

Friday, December 02, 2005

come for danny boy, stay for the kinkajou

Three or four people show up here on a daily basis via this search (check the fourth row down), and I can only imagine that he will eventually be one of them.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

a holiday yard idea

I have a great deal of respect for the folks who cover their meager estates in Christmas lights, nativity scenes, plastic reindeer, and giant candy canes, but I could never be one of them. The juxtaposition of the baby Jesus amid novelty peppermint sticks and elves is an odd thing to display, and it is good to have a format for that sort of thing, but I lack the motivation to make it happen. It appears that the only sign of Christmas around Casa Camino might be the single line of lights Mrs. Camino wrapped around one of the plants out front. They are the simple white lights, and Mrs. Camino wasn’t sure if they were the outdoor variety.

When the rains come, we will know.

Anyway, it isn’t the sort of thing to pack Grandma and the kids into the car for. They may want to see some of my neighbors’ decorations, but many of those have been up since last year and were there for the gawking all summer.

We may not even put up a tree this year. There is a fine plastic pine wrapped in a couple of large garbage bags in the back of the attic, but it hasn’t seen the light of day since our first Christmas at Casa Camino a couple of years back. We left the decorations on it when we were packing it away, and I could hear some of the small red balls fall and break as I slid it across the hardwood den and pulled it up the stairs. There will be the thin plastic shards to deal with should I choose to unleash the tree, and I don’t know that I want to deal with thin plastic shards.

We had a small tree at Mrs. Camino’s apartment many Christmases ago. It sat by the window, and I’m sure that its meager lights did little to serve as a holiday beacon against the well-lighted Sonic on the other side of the parking lot, but it was nice to look at. The cat would often try to climb it. He would pull the tree down and nearly pin himself beneath it every time, and that was also nice to look at.

It was more the sort of thing you would pack Grandma and the kids into the car for.

The cat you know as Bukowski is too old and fat for that now. His kittenish enthusiasm and extra energy still show up on a regular basis, but we probably couldn’t count on him to constantly tackle Christmas trees in the yard for all the light seers. However, despite my love for decorated homes that flirt with and often cross the border of good taste, I would much rather see a yard full of cats tackling innocent Christmas trees just standing there in full holiday regalia.
One of you should work on that.