Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Some time ago my brother John and his wife, Lisa, gave me the above packets of turkish coffee, which they had acquired on a trip to the Holy Land. Lisa advised me at that time that Turkish coffee was "nasty." She said it was somewhat less than delicious and that it leaves muddy-looking dregs in the bottom. Well, as you know, I am no stranger to experimenting with foreign coffees so I accepted the gift without reservation and have been looking forward to drinking it ever since. I had to wait for the proper season though. In my opinion, summer is no time for drinking coffee. Too hot. This is the correct season for coffee drinking. It's a fire in the fireplace, sweater-wearing, hot mug of joe kind of season. So I dug out the ol' turkish coffee packets, fired up the tea kettle, and embarked on an exotic coffee experience, which you are no doubt envying as you think of the plain old American coffee you drank this morning. Don't be jealous.
Smells like normal coffee.
Looks like normal coffee.

Wooo! That's bitter! So I added my secret coffee ingredients- two spoonfulls of white refined sugar and a splash of 2% milk. You can use that too if you want. I don't want everybody in the world to know my coffee tricks, but I'll allow you fellow citizens of the BFZ in as my confidants.
Yep, that's the ticket! You could throw two spoons of white refined sugar into a hot steaming mug of gorilla sweat and I bet it would taste delicious. It's a fine product, that white refined sugar!

Turns out I like Turkish coffee. It was actually really good. Thanks Turks!
Lisa was right about the dregs that were left behind, but that didn't bother me much. 
Like some merry dam has broken, and its joyous torrent freed
Come the children on Christmas mornin'- a giggling stampede.



"The best sort of men are tough but not mean."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I woke up in a fog this morning that stubbornly refuses to burn off. I will try the usual remedies- bible, prayer, and to-do lists.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


When climbing in the pines
You must beware of oozing sap-
Many are they who've stepped in it
And never did come back.

We find them later in the trees,
Caught in their sticky trap,
With "Tell them all I loved them,"
Pinned Upon their pack.

Friday, November 25, 2011


This morning as BFZ President, Josh Tate, exited an area IHOP and walked sluggishly toward his motorcade CNN's Chuck Berlinsky asked him to comment on an unruly group of occupy protesters who have erected a tent city on the BFZ's sidebar above the blog links. The protesters have vowed to remain encamped on the BFZ's sidebar until their demands are met- namely peace on earth, an end to financial inequality, an end to racial divisions, free college education, full disclosure on the incident at area 51 near Roswell, NM and an official investigation into the death of rapper Biggy Smalls.

 "I need to lay down," replied the president, "That IHOP is sitting like a ton of bricks."



 Excursions into the dawn are very different from excursions into the night. They have a different feel to them entirely. Stretching my legs for an hour before the sun came up proved to be a nice way to begin my Thanksgiving though. (Especially because the day would end slightly less energetically with me slipping into a turkey coma on the floor of my Mother-in-Law's living room.)
 It was a beautiful morning- slightly misty with clouds hanging around the hills above town. Cock-a-doodle-doo! Here's something interesting about waking up in Sylmar. It sounds like you're waking up on  a farm due to all the roosters crowing back and forth from backyard poultry operations. Cock-a-doodle-doo! 
 I walked up Larkspur, across Borden and then Down Roxford.
 At the corner of Roxford and Glenoaks I found this lone ninety-nine percenter protesting the obscene profits of the El Rancho liquor market.
I found these two signs in the same yard. The main objective of the signs, to advertise eggs and roosters, is definitely served well by these signs, but I found the inattention to detail kind of amusing. One of the G's in EGGS is upside down. Every letter in "MiNATURE ROOSTERS" is capitalized except for that one "i," and of course miniature is not spelled correctly. Ah well... I'm not being snooty about it...just thought it was funny. The signs did their job. In fact, I suspect it's all just a clever guerilla marketing ploy to draw attention to the signs. Brilliant! I did wonder as I was walking away what anyone would want with a miniature rooster though. I would imagine the bigger the better, right? What's the upside of a downsized rooster?

 At the intersection of Roxford and San Fernando I found two spans of train tracks, which crossed Roxford and ran parallel to San Fernando.
 I listened for the rumble of an approaching train, but didn't hear anything. I did here thirty, maybe forty, horses a half-mile away. The rider on the thrird horse was a fat man wearing a ten-gallon hat and a red plaid shirt. The eighth horse needed new horse shoes. The last horse was riderless. I'm good...real good. No train though.
 Across the inersection was Aunt Marlene's and Uncle Tony's store- The Kwik Market.
 Best Subs in town! Sounds like an upcoming product endorsement...
 I crossed over and made sure everything was okay. I checked the door to make sure it was locked and looked in through the windows for prowlers. Everything looked okay so I moved along.

 I crossed the street and walked down San Fernando for a ways. As I was walking past Cal Western Roofing Supply I saw this card depicting what I assume is the Virgin Mary hanging by the gate. I wondered for a moment what had motivated them to hang it there. Is it intended to protect/bless their business venture?
 Anybody with a knowledge of Spanish wanna fill me in on what this means.
 A pile of horse manure next to San Fernando. (I sniffed the manure and was able to deduce that the owner is a man of Mexican or South American heritage who lives in the Sylmar area. I'm good...real good.)

 In the picture above you can see a jogger retreating into the distance. As I was walking up Roxford I met him jogging in the opposite direction. When he was a few feet from me he reached into his pocket and produced a paperback gospel of John. He called out "Happy Thanksgiving! Here, this is for you!" I took it and then, as he was running away, I called out, "I'm already a Christian. Maybe you shoud give it to someone who needs it more." He stopped, pointed at me, and commanded "You give it to someone else."
 You got it, jogger man! I also play for Team Jesus!

 Just a few feet further down the road. I found this small baggy of pot next to the curb. I imagine someone had it in their pocket and when they reached into their pants to fish out their car keys it must have come tumbling out. The smell of it brought back memories from my police days. It's strange that Marijuana smells like adventure and justice to me.
 I dumped the pot out into the bushes and tossed the baggy back into the street.
 I briefly entertained taking the copy of John to whoever was living inside the tent at Roxford and Glenoaks, but then concluded it would be rude to wake whoever it was up, and that would start everything off on the wrong foot. After flipping through the booklet to make sure it wasn't put out by an LDS outfit or by the Jehovah's Witnesses, I ended up going inside El Rancho and giving it to the man working behind the counter.
 "Happy Thanksgiving! I have something for you. You should read it.."

"Thanks, man."

He looked like he would have preferred the pot.
As I walked down Fellows Avenue on my way back toward Larkspur. I saw the aforementioned Tony and Marlene turn up Larkspur coming from the opposite direction. They were headed out for an early morning bike ride. There's Marlene in the green jacket at the top of the street. Tony is on the sidewalk to the right checking out some graffiti which appeared on Umpa's (Sarah's Grandfather) driveway during the night. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


"For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened." Romans 1:21


This OVERHEARD is brought to us by my old friend, HUTCH, whose funnel ears directed this sad little snippet into his brain. The conversation took place over the phone between a pregnant girl, maybe 16, and her mother as THE HUTCH was transporting said girl to court. The topic-- future baby names for the girl's baby.  

"When my baby comes I'm gonna find out who the daddy is and then make it a Junior. But if it's a girl I'll make it something pretty like Treasure or Fantasy."*

* Poor girl. This one makes me kind of sad. BFZ faithful, take a minute and pray for this girl, and her baby.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Do you remember that morning when we watched the deer come out of the woods? Do you remember how it paused on the edge of the soccer fields with its head high sniffing the air? Its ears swiveled this way and that. Then cautiously and slowly it moved further out into the field. Do you remember how the dew made the field sparkle in the morning sun and how the deer's tracks linked their way across the dewey grass? Occasionally the deer would lower its head to graze, but it never seemed fully at ease. It was always tense. The world seemed full of menacing sounds, smells and suggestions to the deer. Do you rememember how it would jerk its head up, sniffing the air, eyes wide, and ears swiveling?

The moment was fragile, and as you know I am a smasher of fragile things. Watching the nervous deer made me feel tense all over, at least as tense as the deer. That's why I jumped up and yelled the way I did. That's why I shattered the moment, and confirmed the deer's worst suspicions. It made me uncomfortable.

Do you remember when I did that?

Do you remember how angry it made you?

In four graceful bounds the deer regained the woods and disappeared.

"That poor deer!" you said.

In your mind it was a sin, wrong and perverse, an abuse, but as the deer bounded away something tense within me found release. Some itch that eludes precise definition was scratched. I felt better. I felt freed.

...but you refused to hold my hand as we walked back to campus. Do you remember that?


Sunday, November 20, 2011


"Our society is not built to code. Thus it must be condemned."*

*The code being Biblical truth. Wisdom is not keeping pace these days with the increase in knowledge. Such a wobbly tower must inevitably crash. Sorry, such musings are kind of a bummer and run contrary to the general ethos of the BFZ.

I'll tell a joke now to offset the gloomy feel of this post;

There were three morons on a bridge, a big moron, a medium moron and a little moron. Two of them fell off. Which was one was left?

Get it?

The little moron was left becuase he was a little more on.



Saturday, November 19, 2011


"You smoke that up, woman!"

Two female postal employees in conversation as they were sorting mail out of sight behind the mail boxes. Post Office- Idyllwild, CA


My Mom no longer owns a swimming raft, but once upon a time she did. It was a heavy monstrosity made of pressure treated wood and floating atop six or eight 50-gallon drums. I can still picture it in my mind's eye floating out past the sea weed a hundred feet or so from shore. It was anchored to the bottom of the lake by three square cinder blocks- the sort used to build chimneys. Like a hippo it was heavy and clumsy on land but light and bouyant in the water.

Bringing in the swimming raft was an annual harbinger of the coming change in season. Usually in late August or early September, when the first tree would prematurely change color, the raft would be recalled. Like I already said the raft was heavy. Maneuvering it up onto a spot where it would be out of the lake's reach in the spring required all of the ingenuity and grunting of the ancients who erected stonehenge and built the pyramids.

I remember one year when I came home from college for Thanksgiving break my Mom cornered me and my brother, Job, in the kitchen. "Nobody brought in the raft this year," she said. My Mom loved that raft, and the concern in her voice and the expression on her face made it plain that leaving the raft out there was simply not an option. Job and I instantly knew what we would have to do.

The trouble was it was late November, and late November in Vermont is no time to go for a dip in Lake Champlain. The leaves were off the trees. The first snow had already fallen. The Tate family owned no boats. We would have to swim out to the raft, haul up the anchor somehow, and bring the whole thing back into shore.

So that was how Job and I found ourselves on a cold November day standing on the shore of Lake Champlain with nothing on but our underpants. The raft bobbed up and down beyond the seaweed, taunting us, it's decking had been positively whitewashed by the seagulls. A stiff, cold November wind blew in our faces and across our bare skin.

"Alright Job, let's do this thing," I said.

"It's on!," came his courageous reply.

Then, with teeth chattering, but shoulders squared, we waded into the chilly waters. Ironically, the waters actually felt warm compared to the icy wind blowing over the surface of the lake. The water was not warm in reality, in fact it felt quite cold, but in comparison to the wind it seemed warmer. As we went along we battled our way through thick stands of eurasian millfoil, which is an invasive species of seaweed. Slowly the bottom of the lake dropped away until we could no longer touch the bottom. Then we were forced to swim for the raft. As the water deepened the millfoil grew thinner which made the swimming easier.

It was cold.

Once we got to the raft we held onto the leeward side and tried to come up with a strategy. The problem was that the anchor chain was attached dead center beneath the raft so you couldn't reach the chain without swimming underneath. Plus, the anchor itself proved too heavy to haul up from atop the raft anyway. After strategizing for a bit we decided to take turns following the anchor chain to the bottom of the lake, picking up the anchors and walking along the bottom toward the shore. First, however, we had to get the anchors up out of the mud in which they were completely buried. I remember when I first followed the chain down being surprised that I didn't find the blocks at the bottom but a smooth layer of muddy sediment. By tugging and hauling on the chain the heavy blocks reemerged. It took Job and I several dives to uncover the blocks. Then we began walking the heavy anchors into shore. It was a slow laborious process, especially once we got tangled up with the millfoil. I would go down take a few steps and then be forced to come up for air. Then Job would go down. We repeated this process over and over again, slowly making progress toward the distant shore. Once we got into shallower water we were able to lift up the anchors and put them on top of the raft. Then we made short work of pushing it the rest of the way.

Coming out of the water and onto the shore was the coldest part of the whole adventure. The wind swept over our wet bodies and set our teeth chattering violently in our skulls. We quickly dried off and got dressed, then with ears, fingers and nose red and aching from the cold we began hauling the the raft up the hill. Our energy was pretty well sapped from the effort to bring the raft to the shore and also from the cold, but one thing kept us going- my Mother's face. That poor, pitiable lover of swimming rafts inspired such devotion in Job and me that we struggled on like lives depended on it. We dragged and pushed the raft up the face of Rock Dundar, and then up onto the hill beyond. We measured progress by inches. In a last herculean burst of strength Job and I willed the ponderous raft a few more feet so that it came to rest at the base of a small tree. Then we tied the raft off to the tree, tossed the anchor blocks into the dirt  and declared our duty complete.

The next spring the raft was gone.

I don't know what happened to it. During the spring did the rising lake claim it? Was it stolen?

Although my Mother has never said anything to me about it I have long felt that she suspects that Job and I didn't do all that we could for the raft. For my part, I believe it is highly unlikely that the lake carried the raft away and thus have concluded that it was stolen. I am of the opinion that someone has been enjoying their ill-gotten raft all of these years. I wish I knew for sure though.

I always wanted to sleep out on the raft. Wouldn't that be amazing? The gentle rocking. The waves splashing against the side. The occasional fish jumping. I really want to do that someday. When my ship comes in, I'm gonna invest in a new swimming raft so I can go camping out there.

But Mom, in the meantime, I want you to know that Job and I did all that we could for your raft.


I find myself saying "crum-bum" a lot. I think it's an original expression. Try it on for size.

You get home from church and check the score of the Skins game. They lost. "CRUM-BUM"

You fish your keys out of your pocket and accidentally drop them into a puddle. "CRUM-BUM"

Your bill arrives at a restaurant and you discover that you left your wallet at hime. "CRUM-BUM"

You get the idea.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Two nights ago I had a very sordid dream wherein I committed adultery with none other than Britney Spears. Now, before I proceed you should know that although I think Ms. Spears is attractive enough she's not like my "it girl" or anything. I have nothing to confess to you or to God in this matter. All in all she was a very odd choice for my sub-conscious. The mind is a mysterious, dark, tangled wood. Can we claim to be the authors of our dreams?

I will spare you the details for, after all, the BFZ is not that sort of blog. We're on the right side of the tracks as far as the internet and decency is concerned. I like to think that the BFZ is the sort of neighborhood where you can leave your purse unattended and it'll still be there when you come back (Unless it starts raining, and then you can be sure that some kind citizen will have picked it up and turned it in to the police who are as bored as maytag repairmen due to the lack of crime and disorder.) So, never fear, such steamy details have no place here at the BFZ. You're safe.

...but I digress. Where were we? Oh yes, my dream about Britney Spears.

I woke up from this dream, and I was immediately gripped by the deepest and most sincere feelings of guilt and regret. I was positively racked with guilt. My heart threatened to beat right out of my chest. I was all sweaty, and my mind was racing- desperate to find a place of rest. The guilt! Oh, the guilt! In my sleep-addled brain it all was so real. I HAD JUST COMMITTED ADULTERY!!! It was awful, more than awful, it was like my life had ended and I was just waiting for my heart to stop beating. How long would I have to live with this moral failure? Death seemed preferable.

Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. My heart kept beating.

As my brain began to surface from out of the deep, murky depths I began groping towards reality. I was trying to figure out how I was going to tell Sarah and the kids (Oh no! The Kids! That thought cut me. I hated myself!) when I suddenly woke to the liberating truth that it had all been a dream. It was just a dream! I never had sex with Britney Spears!

It was like the sun coming up!

I lay there for a moment letting the truth of my innocence wash over me.

Laying there, I relished in my clear conscience, grinning up at the ceiling in the dark.

I listened to Sarah's shallow, regular breathing.


My heart slowed.

I rolled over.

I went back to sleep.


So you came to the BFZ in the hopes of escaping the 24 hour news loop tedium of the Kutcher/Moore divorce saga. Sorry, you'll find no shelter here. The frontline is everywhere. I just keep waiting for Demi to jump out from another room to find a forlorn looking Ashton, and make everything alright again by yelling "Ahhhh!!! You just got punked, Ashton! I punked you!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011


1. Tone Loc is the M. Night Shyamalan of rappers.

2. Or maybe, because Tone Loc preceded Mr. Shyamalan onto the national stage, it would be more accurate to say that Shyamalan is the Tone Loc of movie directors.
For some reason this article seems oddly out of place to me in the LA Times. It's a story that would seem more at home in a rag from the hardscrabble hills of Arkansas or West Virginia than Los Angeles. Then again, perhaps back there this sort of thing wouldn't even be considered a story. I like to imagine the Clampetts nodding knowingly as they read this in their Beverly Hills mansion.

"Poor fella! Dems is good eatin'!"

Monday, November 14, 2011


After posting my BFZ product censure this morning I copied and pasted my remarks into the comments section of the Redskins Offical Blog under a post entitled Fourth Quarter Quandary. This was their response.

@Josh Tate–
That was an impressive bit of literature, my friend. I don’t, however, suspect that you are the problem. Nay, you, and those like you, are the life blood that courses through Redskins Park. It’s a tough year. It’s been a series of tough years, but nothing great was ever built overnight, and this franchise has committed to rebuilding from the floor up. I know you want today–I want today. But if I can have tomorrow and the day after, I’d take that over today. And don’t cheer for the Cowboys–that’s just morally reprehensible. HTTR

This is the full transcript of what I had written to the Redskins:

Why do the Redskins insist on breaking my heart every year? The Redskins have lost five games in a row squandering a 3-1 start, and this last loss came against the Dolphins! The Dolphins! Fail to the Redskins! Why did I let myself hope? Now the perrenial losers are showing their true colors. Redskins, do you know that I avoid channels 206, 207, 209 and 212 because of you? It hurts me that much to watch the highlights of your games. They are a horror show of sloppiness, ineptitude, missed opportunities, and poor tackling. Every year! Ughhh... You know...even if the Skins win out, which is EXTREMELY unlikely, they would only finish the season with a record of 10-6. That probably wouldn't even be good enough to make the playoffs. So now every game is meaningless. Players are just hoping to get through the season uninjured, but what about my injuries? I'm listed as doubtful for this weekend's game against Dallas with a broken heart and crippling disillusionment. Sometimes, in the depths of my misery, I ask myself, "Am I the problem?" "Is it me?" Like a liitle kid who thinks he's to blame for his parents' divorce I blame myself for the Redskins' repeated failures as if my support is jinxing them or something. It's perverse, I know, but I actually have these thoughts! If it didn't go against every fiber of my being I would root for the Cowboys this weekend to test my theory. Redksins, I want you to know that if I was the problem, I would pull a kamikaze and commit to becoming a Cowboys fan for the rest of my miserable days. Such is my love for you that I would even order a vanity plate for my minivan which would read CWBYFAN. If it would increase your chances of winning I would have the Cowboys logo tattooed on both of my impressive biceps. Even though it would make me physically ill I would do it. Yes, I would do all that and more, but I suspect that I'm not the problem. I'm the victim here! "Someday" is becoming the mantra of the Redskins faithful. I want TODAY. We want TODAY! Give us TODAY!


Sunday, November 13, 2011


This overheard is brought to us by my friend, Beth Brunett.

"You are so sexy!"
A 5 or 6 year old boy in line at Disneyland to a like-aged little boy.

"I didn't even know what sexy meant 'til I was like 13. That's weird, right?"
Woman in her early twenties to her boyfriend after overhearing the above exchange between the aforementioned little boys.

Nice work, Beth! Keep those OVERHEARDS coming people!


I remember days in late November when snow would fall on the browned and blackened leaves and I would put on a heavy jacket to go for a walk across the fields. Such days seemed designed for long walks and thinking.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Today's overheard comes to us from my brother, Job. (Check out Job's blog here.)

"I think if you actually did the math, by ounce, liquor is cheaper than ambien"
Walgreen's Pharmacy- Ruland, VT
Man with a long beard to a woman in a short skirt


Last year I made a sigificant contribution to Christmas lore and legend when I introduced the world to Stinker the Tinker, and with the Christmas season nearly upon us I thought I would give yet another Christmas gift to the world by introducing you to the BFZ Chirstmas Carol classic, "We're Gonna Go Get a Christmas Tree."

Click HERE to watch a performance of the carol performed by your's truly. Enjoy!!!

We're gonna go get a Christmas tree (3X)
     And bring it home tonight
Throw one up on the minivan (3X)
     Tie it down real tight
Set it up in the living room (3X)
     Get everything just right
Hanging up our ornaments (3X)
     String it all with lights
Gather 'round the Christmas tree (3X)
     Such a beautiful sight
We're gonna go get a Christmas tree (3X)
     And bring it home tonight


Thursday, November 10, 2011


Some of you who know of my longstanding opposition to Paul may wonder at this sudden change of tune. It would not be so much an embrace of his slavish adherence to libertarian ideals as it is a complete and utter lack of alternatives.

I remain hopeful that all this sexual harassment business is unfounded, but I am pragmatic enough to concede that even if Pee-Wee Herman Cain (I can't believe nobody has used that yet in the national media- Fox? CNN? Anybody? I'll sell you the rights.) is exonerated the wound may already be a fatal one.

Maybe Bachman? Romney? Hmmm... I can't believe that at this crucial time these are the best that conservatism has to offer. Ughhh... I guess, maybe, Ron Paul it is. In for a penny, in for a pound! RON PAUL!!!


It's pajama day at Jack's pre-school. He just left in a comfy looking plaid, flannel ensemble with a stuffed animal tucked under his arm. It made me wonder what a pajama day would like like at the office where I work. I share the office with two other men, and I'm pretty sure that pajama day at the office would be three guys sitting around in their underwear. That might not be a good idea. "'re here for a tour! Okay, let me just slip into something a little less comfortable, but a whole lot more socially acceptable."

I better scratch that suggestion off of the agenda for next Tuesday's meeting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


This overheard is brought to us by my wife Sarah, who overheard this gem while purchasing a rotisserie chicken, a white onion, crema mexicana, and queso fresco at Fairway Market- Idyllwild, CA

"He's drunk!"
Female cashier at Fairway market in response to a second female cashier's question- "What's wrong with him?"


We went sledding. Perhaps not enough snow to go sledding but we discovered that plastic toboggans will also slide over mud just as well as snow.
Wiping out!
Miles hands were cold the entire time. He originally had mittens on, but found that mittens were not as good as bare hands for eating muddy snow. Eating snow made his hands cold, which in turn led to hot, salty tears. Wiping out on a muddy hillside also moved Miles to hot, salty tears. He cried approximately 65% of the time we were there. Not long after we arrived at the sledding hill, Jack announced that he had peed his pants. Just so you know, he opted to sled in pee-pee pants rather than go home and change. I shrugged apathetically.

A bon fire for the little Tater-Tots to warm up by.

The fire also proved good for drying soggy gloves and mittens.

Wait! What's that howling? I caught something in my Jack-er-Wack trap! It's a Jack-er-Wack!
He was yelling, "I'm stuck, Daddy! I'm stuck!" between sobs. Hot, salty tears!!!
I almost caught a North American Fuzzy-Headed Goo-Goo Bean too. Just as well the little guy got away. There's not as much meat on them as on the Jack-er-Wacks.