Tuesday, August 30, 2016

And Then I Met Ruth

As I mentioned to you recently, I've been engaged in a new quest to meet all of my neighbors and become the most popular person on the block, so much so that they all start listing me as their emergency contact.

You guys. I would be an amazing emergency contact. There is literally no emergency too big for me to be contacted about. I would answer that phone call with all of the professional dignity required of the role. I'm not saying you're stupid if you haven't listed me as your emergency contact yet, but I am saying that you're missing an opportunity.

In an effort to meet the above-mentioned goal, I walked across the street and met Ruth.

Ruth is constantly gardening and manicuring her perfectly-landscaped yard and so I've had occasion, regularly, to send a friendly wave her way as I've come and gone over the last nearly-two-years since I moved into this house. But we had never met, until last week.

Ruth was friendly. She doesn't look old, but she informed me that she is, in fact, basically older than the Titanic. And she proved it by updating me on neighborhood gossip that preceded the maiden voyage.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Strangerville Fan Mail

Somehow it has been about eight months since Jolyn and I launched Strangerville. If our announcement of Strangerville was equivalent to conceiving a child, you would have to watch the graphic video footage of the baby's head crowning in just a few short weeks.


While we are admittedly novices (with exceptional hair) at podcasting, we've ridden the learning curve with some success and are arrogantly proud of how far Strangerville has come this year. Very much of that has to do with your continued support, comments, emails, and the number of times you spend your birthday candle wishes on us.

This week on Strangerville shorts, we decided to finally go through some of the emails you have been sending us and answer them to the best of our ability. One Stranger has expressed a hope on a few occasions that Strangerville might somehow be made accessible to those with hearing impairment, something I would love to have the bandwidth for at some point. For today, I've pasted the text of the emails below, so there's at least something for you.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Yesterday someone accused me of "making up" the phrase "the squeaky wheel gets the grease/oil" and this was a pretty intelligent person and it caught me off guard because I have been using that phrase for many years, almost to the point of cliche, and nobody had ever called me out on it. So suddenly I started to wonder if this was a twice up the barrel, once down the side situation where I have just used this so confidently that nobody ever thought to question me on it. So I took the Stranger Facebook page for some backup. And you guys backed it up, fanatically. (You can go read those responses here). And I just want to say that I'm grateful for social media because how else could we find such instant validation AND completely ridicule another human being en masse?

One more thing, the other day, Stranger Sandy Cook left a very helpful comment on Stranger explaining how to calculate your "middle age." So please take a moment and do this, if you haven't already.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Craft Lake City, Year 3.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I See Dead People. They're Everywhere.

Last week I was on a cruise ship for seven days with my family. It was basically the Titanic. I can still smell the paint.

It was an Alaskan cruise. And I was nervous about going because I once got trapped in a very small space in the middle of the ocean for an entire year and I wasn't sure I was ready to relive that.


Fortunately, my family is exceedingly fun to travel with, which was actually really helpful in preventing anxiety attacks so big you could see them from space. Also, Alaska is the most beautiful place that has ever existed and I swear to you I saw a bald eagle fly over a bear catching a wild salmon for her three cubs right next to a waterfall coming off of a glacier surrounded by forest. I actually believe that anyone who visits that exact spot automatically becomes a U.S. citizen.

Sunset from the ship

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Year of Productivity

I realized some time ago that New Year’s resolutions work as well for me as they do for most people. I embrace them enthusiastically on January first and then drop them with reckless abandon sometime around January fourth.

If I was as goal oriented every day as I used to be January 1 through 4, I would have cured everyone’s cancer by now AND fulfilled my lifelong dream of teaching a water aerobics class to a group of 50 plus.

Maybe some of you are more dedicated to your goals than I am. Or maybe you all live your lives so effortlessly and perfectly that change isn’t really needed and so resolutions are pointless.

Well I’m not like you. I’m deeply flawed. Layers and layers upon flaws. Flaws coming out of my ears. Flaws coming out of my nose. And I pick at them and wipe them under seats in public venues. And then I chew off all of my fingernails and spit them across the room. And I don't even cover my mouth when I yawn.

I don't remember what we were talking about.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Episode 7: The World of Travel

Welcome back to Strangerville, the Titanic of podcasts. Actually, I don't know what that would mean. I might have just insulted Strangerville. UNLESS I was saying that it's like Titanic, pre the whole iceberg incident. The Titanic was basically the bomb before that happened. The point is, somewhere toward the end of this episode you'll hear Jolyn quite nearly criticize me for bringing everything back to Titanic. So I think I may have a problem.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

My new best friend/neighbor has 100 billion potted plants in her backyard and since I'm now house sitting for her (you thought I was joking about this) I get to water all 100 billion of them and it takes an actual 7 and one-half eternities. Within the first 10 seconds of watering them on the first night I dropped my phone and completely shattered the screen WHICH PROVES that when you befriend your neighbors it completely ruins your life.

Fortunately she has a lot of amazing clothes that are surprisingly very slimming on me.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Taylor Hicks played a concert in Matt's new neighborhood. Mr. Pants stayed home and took a nap.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hi. I'm Your New Neighbor.

I walked two houses down the hill to greet my neighbor, a blonde woman, age 50 or so, who rivals The Perfects in magazine-cover landscaping and lawn care. It was 9:30 PM, a time not usually reserved for greeting neighbors for the first time after living two-hundred feet from one another for 18 months.

I felt compelled to do it out of jealousy. Not jealousy for the neighbor. Jealousy for Matt's new life in his new neighborhood in which smiling pedestrians line the street and force-feed any passerby a history lesson on the area, the speaker's genealogy, and the schedule of mandatory events for neighborly bonding.

Somehow, without ever having lived there, I know more of Matt's neighbors than my own. I've also been to neighborhood parties there, I've stepped inside people's homes, and I've played with multiple dogs, all things I have never done on my own street.

And so I made a new promise to myself. I would transform my neighborhood, one neighbor at a time, and turn it into the social place I know it has the potential to be. And who better to get things rolling than me, the guy who lives smack dab in the center of the street.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Magical World of Broome Bungalow

The Broome Bungalow project (Matt's house) is finally about to hit "move-in" date. And everyone is looking forward to this more than any child has ever looked forward to Christmas because we don't like seeing the Pantses homeless. And Matt's street currently doesn't have an old man who yells at kids to get off his lawn so there's going to be a general imbalance in that neighborhood until he moves in.

Broome Bungalow has been an exercise in frustration for Matt, one that, if you ever run into him, he will tell you about in such a strong southern accent that you'll taste fried chicken by the time he's done.

There have been plenty of hiccups and unexpecteds. And in recent weeks, Matt has sought the aide of a few contractors to help with some of the work, contractors who performed poorly enough that Matt left online reviews so scathing that it actually restarted the Civil War.

But if you happen to stop by Broome Bungalow now, you'll notice that what once looked like the set of a horror film, which was then turned into the set for a film about crack-addicted babies once we started tearing it apart, is now starting to look like something out of a magazine.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Mr. Pants is sleeping over at my house right now because we love each other and we don't care who knows it. Last night I tried to take him outside to "do his potties." Right when I opened the door, he looked out and saw a cat in the Perfectss''s'ses' yard and BOLTED. I'm not kidding you when I say that he ran faster than I have ever seen an animal run. And I chased him all the freaking way down the street, screaming, barefoot, and in my underwear, until I finally caught him trying to go through a fence to murder a cat. Because Mr. Pants hates cats. And loves my anxiety disorder.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
It was Matt's birthday. We made a mistake trying to take an ice cream cake hiking. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

My Favorite Posts

With some regularity people will email me and say they just found Stranger and they wonder if I have any "favorite" posts they should make sure to check out and I'm like, "START FROM THE BEGINNING OR DON'T COME BACK AT ALL!!!" But then I remember that I'm positively ashamed of everything written before 2013 and mostly ashamed of everything written after that and so I immediately send a follow up email that says, "JUST KIDDING GO READ CHARLES DICKENS I HELPED HIM." Because I refuse to use punctuation when I email.

Which reminds me, I posted the below photo on the Instagrams the other day as a throwback to that one time a couple months ago when I was in Latvia and I was having problems interneting and I started screaming and then Adam looked over and captured the moment.