If You Were a Ski Jumper…

If the Salt Lake City jump looked this scary, just imagine...

If the Salt Lake City jump looked this scary, just imagine…

What we know about Sochi is that despite promises to the contrary, the city is laughably unprepared for the Winter Olympics. If you haven’t already, check out the story about journalists arriving at their hotels to find simple things missing — like shower curtains, floors and water that won’t eat your face. Also missing: rooms, beds, stall walls in public restrooms and manhole covers.

Of course, the official line is, “Nothing to see here you sissy Americans.” Funnily enough, another official line, regarding the rounding of stray dogs is that one reason it’s being done is to protect athletes from them running on to a course.

So. If you’re a ski jumper, how confident are you feeling about that ramp right about now?

Video: Ken on the Katie Couric Show

I posted this everywhere else. I might as well post it here. Last week, I appeared on the Katie Couric show to talk about Super Bowl ads. Yes, that was my SECOND appearance on the Katie show.

Little Something to Read on a Louisiana Snow Day

Since it’s snowing (kind of) in South Louisiana, I thought I’d offer a little taste of something that’s dropping in July. 

(And, no, there aren’t ‘free copies’ floating around, so don’t ask.)

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* * *

“Yall get out here,” Daddy shouted from the front door, freezing us all in mid action, stopping our very thoughts. “C’mon. Yall missing the snow.”

With that, we tried to get all six of our bodies through the bedroom door at once and stormed out onto the porch, where we stopped short. Breathing heavily in our excitement, we looked like overworked horses, steam puffing from our nostrils.

I don’t know how long it had been snowing before he called us out, but the ground was covered and it was still coming down. Silence reigned, our breathing the only sound to be heard. The lighting was strange, a gray dusk in the middle of the day serving as backdrop to the white flakes falling from the sky. I stuck my hand out from under the porch’s overhang, hoping to catch some of the magic, but it only melted.

“Can we go play in it?” Kurt Junior asked.

“Not enough to play in yet,” Daddy said. “Let’s give it a little time.”

That seemed about like asking pigs to wait a few minutes before eating the slop right in front of them, but we all said, “Okay, Daddy,” and deferred to his wisdom. Obviously he knew a thing or two about snow. Even if he knew only one thing about snow, it was one thing more than the rest of us.

“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go eat some gumbo.”

We usually ate like a pack of wild animals, tearing through what food we had and hoping beyond the realm of all experience that there would somehow be more. But that day we were too nervous to eat, worrying that the snow would stop or that it would melt by the time we were allowed out to play.

An hour later, when we were let outside bundled up in what clothes we could find, there was a full inch on the ground. It wasn’t much, but to us it might as well have been the North Pole. After working as a team to build a two-foot tall snowman that was as much dirt and sticks as it was snow, we declared war on each other, practically scraping every inch of snow off of the ground and fence rails and the truck and low-hanging tree limbs to arm ourselves.

Since Baby Joey was too small to stay out for long, the warring factions broke down as they often did, Kendra-Sue and me against the other three. Fight like cats and dogs as often as we did, together we were an unstoppable force. Or, an alternate reason, given by Kurt Junior: “Yall too hateful to separate.” Meaning that if we were on opposing teams, the play fighting would at some point turn into real violence—and we’d all get a switching from Mama.

Still, Kurt Junior probably wished he could have both of us on his team. As Kendra-Sue and I worked silently to build our arsenal, we could hear Karla-Jean nagging him.

“We need a plan and we need to build a fort.”

“Mais, what you gonna build a fort with? Just pack some snowballs before Kendra-Sue and Katie-Lee come get us.”

I listened not so much to the words as to the way they carried in the cold air. Kurt Junior, Karla-Jean and Karen-Anne were on the other side of the house, but sounded like they were in the same room. Karen-Anne whined that her fingers hurt from the cold.

Mine burned too. Red and raw. It was the most disappointing thing about the reality of snow. I don’t know what I’d expected. Something soft? Clouds that could be packed into solid form? It hadn’t occurred to me that I’d basically be sticking my hands in cold water for an hour or more. But I held my tongue. For all I knew, this was a once-in-a-lifetime event.

I stuck my head around the side of the house to spy on the enemy.

“Kurt Junior’s sneaking off behind the barn,” I reported.

“Good. We’ll get Karla-Jean first.”

She didn’t need to explain to me why. Swooping down on Karen-Anne might prompt Kurt Junior to counter-attack with force. He’d do nothing to protect Karla-Jean. If we hit her hard enough, she’d give up immediately.

When we stormed around the house, Karen-Anne bolted away from Karla-Jean, who was bent over a bare patch of ground trying to coax a fort out of mud and what was left of the snow. It looked more like a snake. Whatever it was, the three-inch mound did nothing to protect her from the four snowballs we hurled at her face from point-blank range, knocking her onto her butt. In a second, she was back on her feet, red-faced, blood streaming from her nose. She was a sight. Tall for her age, topped with flaming red hair that apparently struck at least one Fontenot in every generation. And so mad she couldn’t speak or make up her mind which one of us to kill first. Not that either of us were going to stick around to make her decision easier. We took off in separate directions and rendezvoused on the other side of the house.

Karla-Jean’s voice split the air. “I quit! Yall hear me? I quit. I’m going inside. Stupid. That’s what yall are. I hope yall freeze to death out here.”

“That was probably the best thing ever in my life,” Kendra-Sue said. She looked like a dog that had just eaten a week-old opossum.

“You think she’s gonna tell?” I asked.

“Let her. The only person gonna listen to her crybabying is Jesus.”

That was true. And Karla-Jean was smart enough not to ruin Mama’s mood by tattling.

“Who’s next?” I asked.

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

We sat for a bit, mulling it over, sticking our tongues out to catch the snow. We made more snow balls. Kept an ear out for the approaching enemy. If past war experience—and we had plenty of it, waging pitched battles with china-berries, rotten eggs, acorns and, yes, on occasion, hardened cow pies—was an indicator, Kurt Junior would lie in wait like a sniper. He could out-wait any of us. Sooner or later, we’d go looking for him and, from some tree limb or barn rafter, he’d rain death from above. And just like death, it didn’t matter that we were expecting him, he always caught us by surprise. But what was he going to do with Karen-Anne?

We found out soon enough when she poked her head around the corner. He’d sent her to spy. Big mistake.

Without even discussing it, Kendra-Sue and I said at the same time, “Wanna be on our team?”

Not five minutes later, we’d completely turned her with a promise that she’d be the key to our first victory over that stupid, smelly boy we called our brother.

***

The Things We Stash

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We’re moving to a new office space next month. So that means cleaning out 13 years worth of desk junk.

Things found in my desk:

  • A number of 3.5-inch floppy disks (at least one dating back to college)
  • Sports Illustrated that came out right after Saints won the Super Bowl
  • three or four newspapers printed right after Katrina
  • a Ray Nagin in Your Pocket key-chain
  • a Ka-Bar knife
  • two rolls of toilet paper
  • complete set of Burger-King-issued toys from The Simpsons Movie (still in their individual bags);
  • bacon wallet (not really bacon, just looks like it)
  • check book from two banks ago
  • student-loan repayment booklet (long ago paid off)
  • chimp clock
  • set of plastic office chimps
  • plastic gorilla
  • assorted stuffed primates
  • Palm Pre
  • Maytag Man (and his dog) bobble head
  • Frank Perdue bobble head
  • George W. Bush bobble head
  • Kia hamster figure (wearing a Hamstar hooded sweat shirt)
  • a number of bottle openers
  • assorted thumb drives with lord-knows what own them
  • a hand-written list of old log-in/password information, including one for MySpace (I tried; it no longer works)
  • and a cassette tape of an interview I did with Gene Simmons from KISS in which he called men today a bunch of pussies because they get married and do what their wives tell them.

What the Weather Channel Sounds Like…

…after insisting on naming yet another winter storm

Very Similar Phrases Can Produce Extremely Different Results

Try this one at home or at work.

1. “Calm down.”

2. “Just calm down.”

3. “Just calm down, already.”

Seven Acres of Paradise

My kind of daily commute.

My kind of daily commute.

Unless you’re using a nautical chart, you might have a hard time finding Hatchet Caye on a map. Go on, try Google Maps. Nothing? Now type in Hatchet Cay (without the e). That’ll put you in the general vicinity, 15 miles or so east of Placencia.

It's in there. Somewhere.

It’s in there. Somewhere.

What was putting us in the general vicinity just over a week ago was a guy in an open boat, about fourteen-feet or so of fiberglass and not much else. The problem was, it was dark. And the running lights weren’t working. And the LED display in the GPS had quit. And the engine had stalled once on the ride. So there we were bobbing along somewhere in the Caribbean — three couples, Captain James and two other employees of Hatchet Caye resort — and I’m thinking the best case scenario is we bob around all night until someone finds us in the morning. Worst case is once the boat gets going again we run it right into a reef.

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