Friday, May 30, 2008

Hounded by the Paparazzi

This is us on Memorial Day at the park. We were in the paper! I didn't see the copy, but it probably said something about how we're the cutest family in Northwest Arkansas.

"When you make it to Google Earth, you've arrived."

I added the pictures, but the story is pure, unadulterated Arkansas.

SPRINGDALE : Rooftop plane makes last flight off McDonald’s
Posted on Friday, May 30, 2008

SPRINGDALE — An engineless airplane on the roof of a Mc-Donald’s propelled its last customers through the restaurant’s front door on Thursday.

Owners Bill Mathews and Walter Mathews are removing the Piper Seneca that’s rested on metal posts above the roof since the store opened in 1994.

Two factors led to the decision: The fast-food chain encouraged the brothers to remodel their local restaurants, and liability became a concern after a rudder snapped off in high wind three months ago.

“The restaurant is going to be a ‘Forever Young’ design,” said Bill Mathews, referring to the chain’s current branding campaign. “That plane was showing its wear.”

Customers and store employees were disappointed to see the plane with Ronald Mc-Donald riding proudly on the fuselage lifted by a crane and put down on the parking lot. The restaurant was closed temporarily while the crane moved the plane.

“When they do something like this, people ought to have a right to vote on it,” said Audrey Harris, a Springdale resident who eats breakfast at the McDonald’s every Thursday. “That’s how we tell people where to turn to get to our house. It’s a landmark. Now, what am I supposed to do?”

Indeed, the restaurant most commonly referred to as the “airplane McDonald’s” just down the road from the Springdale Municipal Airport has served as a regional compass for years, guiding people to the used car lots, pizza restaurants and other businesses on Robinson Avenue east of Arkansas 265.

The brothers knew their store, with its unique decoration, had become a landmark for locals and businesses.

“It’s served its purpose,” Walter Mathews said. “It’s like one of your kids growing up and going off to college.”

Still, Bertha Murillo fretted about getting customers to her job at a neighboring used car lot.

“We’re going to have a harder time giving directions to people who call,” said Murillo, who works at the Pine Meadow Auto Plex. “We don’t even have to say we’re on East Robinson Avenue because everyone knows where that McDonald’s is.”

A giant chicken and turkey just up the street in front of Four State Poultry Supply Inc. might be just the ticket for those seeking a different compass. Each standing 14 feet tall, the fiberglass birds are nearly a mile west of the airplane McDonald’s and have been in place for 30 years.

“If you go to Google Earth on the Internet, it’s a big chicken and big turkey that’s on there in Springdale,” said Ron Day, one of the supply company’s owners. “It doesn’t say ‘airplane.’ When you make it to Google Earth, you’ve arrived.”

Popeye, a statue near the Allen Canning Co. plant on Thompson Avenue, declined comment.

The McDonald’s corporate honchos knew of the rooftop airplane. A vice president from Dallas often commented about it, telling Bill Mathews “you Mathews boys are nuts” when the topic came up.

Walter Mathews, a former aircraft mechanic, pieced the halfton plane together from parts found at a salvage yard near Kansas City, Mo., with the propellers purchased in Clinton.

Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Five's been a little bit hard on me

"Transformers! No one meets the skies," Paolo's voice piped through the house. I joined in, singing the actual lyrics from the cartoon's theme song. Silly me, I'd forgotten that nothing pisses off a five-year-old like being corrected. In a rude, condescending voice, my know-it-all son told me how very, very wrong I was about the whole thing. Robots in disguise? Hah! The song says no such thing. Paolo lectured me slowly, enunciating each word of the bungled lyrics like he was explaining 'sit' to a mildly retarded puppy. A nerve in my left eyeball started to twitch. "Listen, Paolo, I'm pretty smart...," I began. Paolo interruped, "I'm pretty smart, too. I know how to spell play. P-L-A-Y. I know things!"

It was late, and I was waltzing the baby to sleep in Paolo's room because he can't fall asleep alone. (Yes, I wrote waltzing, not walking. Gianluca has been having a lot of trouble falling asleep lately, with screaming and bucking. For whatever reason, my hurky-jerky attempt at ballroom dancing does the trick. Call me Twinkletoes.) So. Between the fussy, floppy, tired baby and the willful five-year-old noise machine, I was on edge. I barked at Paolo, who was lying on his bed sideways with his legs up the wall, to LAY DOWN. He told me no. I walked out of his room and closed the door behind me. He immediately got out of bed and ran to open the door. I was waiting on the other side, furious-faced, and demanded, "Do you say no to me?" Paolo started to answer, but couldn't because I had asked him an impossible question. He had such a perfect oh-shit expression on his face, I couldn't help but erupt with laughter.

I like Five, I do, but it wears me out. Five is literal, scatter-brained, clever, infuriating and hilarious. Five can make me so mad my skin vibrates. But just when Five is making me re-evaluate my stance on corporal punishment, Five says or does something that makes me smile, totally undermining the impression I'm trying to make of how much trouble he's in. I'm figuring out that I don't need to fight the urge to enjoy a moment of levity with my kid. I need to relish those moments.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Azzurri squad announced for Euro 2008

Goalkeepers: Buffon, Amelia, De Sanctis
Defenders: Barzagli, Cannavaro, Chiellini, Grosso, Materazzi, Panucci, Zambrotta
Midfielders: Ambrosini, Gattuso, Aquilani, Camoranesi, De Rossi, Perrotta, Montolivo and Pirlo
Forwards: Toni, Borriello, Del Piero, Di Natale, Quagliarella, Cassano

There are three, THREE Fabios in the lineup. Have I mentioned already...? Yeah, I have.

All in all, I'm pleased with the lineup. I'm disappointed with the exclusion of Pippo Inzaghi in favor of Antonio Cassano. Cassano's a big baby, and Pippo's a pro. Pippo is a cherrypicker and has never scored a pretty goal in his career, but you know what? They all count, even the ugly ones he scores with his knee cap or his ear.

There are two words that explain why I'm not too stressed about our forwards: Luca and Toni. Toni, who broke my heart by moving to Bayern Munich last season, helped his club win the Bundesliga title and finished as the league's top scorer with 24 goals in 31 appearances. Perhaps the national side lost God but found Jesus.

Two years ago when Italy brought home the World Cup, I said I didn't care if they ever won anything else. I almost meant that.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Stimulate this!

We finally got a Wii, which we've been trying to find since December. We don't have any games except the sports pack it comes with because Wii games are freaking expensive! Luckily, all GameCube games work on Wii, so Paolo and I are still plugging away at Paper Mario and revisiting Lego Star Wars (the greatest game ever made). The sports games are fun, but Paolo won't play boxing anymore since he got knocked out. He takes things like that very personally. Speaking of Lego video games, there's a Lego Indiana Jones AND a Lego Batman coming out soon. I'm totally hyperventilating just contemplating that. At some point, we also need to replace our GameCube Lego Star Wars with the Wii version because you use your remotes AS THE LIGHT SABERS.

Dear IRS, could you mail our stimulus payment soon?

Actually, that payment is going to stimulate some medical bills, stimulate me a new windshield, and anything left over is going to stimulate our savings account. In short, I will do the opposite of what the government wants me to do with this money. I will use it to pay off our recent emergencies and sock the rest of it away for the next time the cosmos takes a dump on us. As much as I'd like to pay $50.00 for a brand new video game, I'll wait to find it used. The sagging economy is just going to have to suck it.

No time for love, Dr. Jones.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Alchemist

I'm about three months behind initiating a discussion for my book club on The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. I considered getting up the gumption today since it's pretty slow at work, but instead I'll combine a post and a discussion point because I'M A MULTI-TASKER. I've been hung up on a line from the book, "And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." (Now, isn't that sweet? The whole book is like that: fulfilling your personal destiny, not abandoning your dreams, and trusting that all of the natural and spiritual world has your back.) This poetically worded concept is actually quite common. Most people call an unlikely event "happy coincidence" when it's favorable and "Murphy's Law" when it's not.

What the book does not address is the worth of the "something" being sought. Santiago, the shepherd boy in The Alchemist, is seeking treasure. Is that a worthy quest or merely avarice? What about people with truly laudable quests, like curing cancer, who don't seem to be getting anywhere? Conversely, people throughout history with rotten dreams, like genocide, can be quite successful. Are they getting help from the universe? Should they be? Chew on that, book club, and email me your thoughts.

And now I segue into what's going on in my life and what I have been wanting: sleep. For such a harmless goal, you'd think the universe could help me out. Indeed, it is working against me. There are many things that disturb a baby's sleep. Currently, my baby is experiencing three of them: teething pain, illness, developmental milestones. Over the past several weeks, Gianluca cut three new teeth. Babies are SUPPOSED to get two teeth at a time every two months, starting at 5-6 months old. I have an eight-month-old with seven teeth. And since teeth come in pairs, there's another on the way.

On top of that, he contracted a mean cold that went straight to his lungs. It sucks holding a baby down to force his asthma meds. It sucks sitting in a steamy bathroom at 3:00 A.M. It sucks even more watching your baby struggle to breathe, his body jerking as he sleeps. He's getting better though. A few more days ought to do it.

The third sleep-destroyer is actually awesome. Luca is learning to pull himself to a standing position, as well as learning to crawl. Right now, it's more of a backwards scoot, but he'll get there. Who can sleep when there's potential for pitching over the side of the crib? [Note to self: lower crib mattress.] So I'm still not sold on Personal Legends, but I think my baby is dabbling in alchemy. He has managed to turn sleep deprivation into gold.