Roll out the flannel

(Editor's note: I'm jumping the gun a little here, but the blustery taste of autumn we're getting in Redding made me think of this ode to flannel.)

That crisp snap in the air marks the arrival of our favorite time of year: Flannel Shirt Season.

During the hot months, we all go around dressed as if we’re on our way to Physical Education class. But in autumn, the flannel shirt replaces (or layers over) the ubiquitous T-shirt, briefly turning the whole nation into lumberjacks. During the seasonal window between cutoffs and heavy coats, the fluffy flannel shirt is the ideal garment.

Unless you live where it’s really cold and/or work outdoors, a flannel shirt is all you need on most days (though pants are a good idea, too). When you go outside, you’re usually only exposed to the elements for those few minutes between indoors and in-the-car and indoors again. Why bother with a jacket?

When it gets colder, a flannel shirt is perfect for layering, especially if you like the “grunge” look or own a skateboard.

Unless it’s a formal occasion, you never really have to tuck in a flannel shirt. This is important to those of us who are equatorially challenged.

Most flannel shirts have two pockets, often with flaps, giving the wearer room to carry around a lot of unnecessary stuff.

Lumberjacks are cool. Ditto Eddie Vedder.

Wearing flannel shirts indoors means you can keep the climate-control settings a little lower, and save on your utility bills. For further information, see “Domestic Harmony and the Treaty of Thermostat,” Lawrence F. Hongenecker, 1989.

Flannel shirts last a long, long time and always look pretty decent, right up to the point where your elbows poke through the worn fabric. And for another two years beyond that, if you wear the sleeves rolled up. You can cut off the sleeves altogether, but only if you’re willing to be mistaken for Larry the Cable Guy.

How do you know when a flannel shirt is too worn to go out in public? When passers-by keep trying to give you nickels. Time for that flannel shirt to take on a new life as a “rag.”

Flannel shirts were embraced early on by those of us who work at home. We don’t have to worry about a dress code, so we gravitate toward the most comfortable clothing. We recognized that there’s a reason why they make pajamas out of soft flannel.

Flannel shirts are legal pajamas. You can answer the door, run to the store, be seen by your children’s teachers, all while wearing your jammies. If people notice you’re rumpled, they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. They’ll say to themselves: Maybe he’s a lumberjack.

The danger, of course, is when you start wearing the same shirt around the clock. If you’re already in your comfy pajama shirt, there’s really no reason to change for bed. Then you get up the next morning and, what do you know, you’re dressed already. This can go on for days. Pretty soon, you’re giving a whole new meaning to “grunge.”

Pair your favorite flannel shirt with sweatpants, and you never have to change again. Every day’s a round-the-clock pajama party.

Caution: You can wear that get-up out of the house only if you utilize drive-thru windows. If you see anybody you know, wave and zoom away. But don’t get out of the car. Nobody looks good in sweatpants. Trust me.

Maybe some flannel trousers, though. Loose, comfortable. Something in a nice plaid to match your lumberjack shirt. Wait, that’s pajamas again.

Note to self: Idea for a successful business -- Drive-thru Pajamas. Seasonal sales on flannel shirts. Hmm. Sleep on it.


Everybody awake? How about now?

Regular readers may recall that I like to watch DVDs while walking on the Dreadmill in my garage, but this activity is not without its hazards.

Because I'm trying to hear the movie over the thumping Dreadmill, I keep the volume up high, even though I work out in the cool of the morning. My neighbors have been very understanding.

But this week I plugged in the DVD of a movie called "Surveillance," a strange crime drama directed by Jennifer Lynch. The movie opens with an extremely violent attack on a couple in bed; the woman gets away and runs off down the highway, only to be chased by a pickup. The whole time, this woman screams at the top of her lungs.

I'm sure my neighbors thought someone was being slaughtered at the Brewers' house. Again.

After I fumbled for the remote control and got it pointed the right way and the audio turned down, I could only wonder: What was that movie moment like in a theater, in Dolby SurroundSound? Did viewers flee screaming with their hands over their ears?


Carried away

Today's advice for aspiring criminals: If you work for the U.S. Postal Service and start stealing Netflix DVDs from the mail, practice a little self-restraint.

Authorities say Myles Weathers stole more than $30,000 worth of DVDs from the mail while working in the Springfield, MA, post office for a year. Netflix contacted postal authorities about a large number of complaints about missing DVDs in the area. At one point, officials say, Weathers was stealing 50-100 DVDs per week.

Didn't he think someone would notice?

Full story here.


Things I can't believe I said, Vol. XXII

Me to my wife: You oughta stop jumping around like that. All that exercise is gonna kill your appetite.


And I knew that wasn't right

Me to my wife: Hey, that movie we couldn't remember the name of, the gangster one with Leonardo DiCaprio?

Her: Yeah?

Me: "The Departed."

Her: That's right! God, that's a relief. All I could think of was "The Disabled."


Soon on Inmatebook

Today's tip for aspiring criminals: While burglarizing a house, it's really better not to pause to check your Facebook account on the victim's computer. Also, remember to log out.

Police say 19-year-old Jonathan Parker of Fort Loudon, PA, forgot this important lesson recently while rifling a home and stealing two diamond rings. The victim found his Facebook page open on her computer, which made detectives' work much, much easier.

Jonathan's new "status report" on Facebook: "I'm facing 10 years in prison...."

Full story here.


Pool talk

My 20-year-old son: "I saw what you wrote online about me and my friends using the swimming pool. 'Hippie soup.' Ha-ha. Very funny."

Me: "After you guys left, the pool was like a mud wrestling pit, full of filth and cooties and vermin."

Son: "Yeah, right."

Me: "I had to give it double chlorine! Had to kill off all those youthful hormones!"

Son: "Hormones?"

Me: "You can't leave those untreated. If you do, your swimming pool might rise up during the night and come in the house and hump you."

Son: "You are so weird."


Arrested development

Today's tip for aspiring criminals: If you simply must steal that giant pepper logo from atop the local Chili's restaurant, you might want to get a battery-powered drill.

Police say four young people in Bennington, VT, succeeded in removing the $8,000 pepper sign, using an electric drill to remove the bolts holding it in place. To power the drill, the youths strung 470 feet of extension cords, including a stretch across a busy street. The cord didn't seem to bother motorists, and it was the restaurant's alarm, not the extension cords, that alerted police.

Full story here.



Two 17-year-olds, slumping past on their way to my son's bedroom:

My son: "We're gonna go play 'Halo.'"
His friend: "I am the lord of all things 'Halo.'"


And a birdbeak stereo . . .

I don't understand why, with all our scientific advancements in cloning, etc., we can't develop animals to do our household chores for us.

For instance, I would happily house an anteater-like creature that would hoover up my carpets. I'm tired of pushing around a loud piece of machinery that breaks if it picks up a crumb. No, don't try to sell me a better vacuum or a Roomba or whatever. I want a critter that feeds on dust.

Haven't these scientists ever seen "The Flintstones?"

PS: Birdbeak Stereo would be a good name for a band.


You're doing it wrong

A former inmate in Florida has been injured on a 12-foot-tall fence when he tried to climb back into the jail.

Sylvester Jiles, 24, had been held on a manslaughter charge, but was released after a plea deal. Later, he showed at the jail, begging corrections officers to let him back inside because the family of the manslaughter victim was gunning for him. The guards couldn't just take him in, so he tried to climb the fence and hurt himself on the barbed wire.

Full story here.



I look out the patio windows and there in our relatively small in-ground pool is our oldest son, the wandering minstrel with the blond dreadlocks, and five of his equally filthy freak-flag-flying friends, swimming and splashing and having the time of their lives.

I turned to my wife and said, "Hippie soup."