"The Muffled Cries For Help From a Daddy of Four Beautiful Little Girls"

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We Are Easily Entertained

While yes, we have received various games and toys that have cost a fair amount of money, let us also reflect on the fact that the following can keep us occupied for countless hours:

* Jenna has wrapped cut-up pieces of green paper around her thumb to create a mask and cape for "Super Thumb." And then she spent the last 20 minutes telling us the character's back-story. Now she's off to create a son for the superhero. She claims this one will have laser eyes.

* I popped open the door to Brynne's room and caught Cassie swinging her iPod earbuds like a windmill and Brynne trying to run in between swings.

* The girls begged us to let them open a bag of Cheese Puffs. We consented, and they set it on the table and gathered around it like a campfire and ate almost the entire thing.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hair Gel, Sugar Cookies and Scott's "Twilight" Analysis

I took my wife to go see "Twilight" tonight. She'd read the complete series as a parent in order to determine how appropriate the books would be for our children at their respective ages. I followed suit and worked hard to read the first book. I'm a much slower reader, so tonight as we were driving to the theater, I gave her permission to summarize the last few chapters for me. I like to be able to compare movies with the books they're based on and/or the summaries of the books they're based on.

My comparison:

1) I was instantly struck by how much mousse and hair gel must have been used on the Cullen family. I don't remember any mention of the wicked spikes and floops in the book, but judging by the movie, I'm guessing they've created a shortage of hair care products in the Pacific Northwest.

2) My wife prepared me for the "Edward-in-the-sunlight" scene by telling me she'd read somewhere online that in the sunlight, Edward looks like a "sugar cookie." Again, there was no mention in the book of cookies or pastries of any kind with regards to his physical description.

3) I'm sorry to offend anyone out there, but I was creeped out by the Cullen siblings holding hands as couples at school. I didn't get the sense from the book that they displayed their "coupleness" in public. Ewww. I know that school counselers deal with a lot of issues these days, but if this movie starts of new wave of brothers dating sisters, don't be surprised if it's accompanied by the excuse "well, we're 300 years old, we're not even human, we crave your blood, and the only way to stop us is to cut us into tiny pieces and burn them. So I don't think you need to get all hung up on the fact that I'm holding hands with my sister."

4) Jasper. Oh my goodness, Jasper was a hoot in the movie. I don't know what I was expecting from the book's description, but the movie Jasper was a riot. He didn't have (m)any lines or scenes or actions or anything, but his hair and the expression on his face screamed either "my agent is going to pay for this!" or "my optic nerves WILL hold my eyes in, right?"

Clearly, based on these four points, the movie has taken some liberties and totally changed key details about the book. However, it was clever and interesting and kept my attention the entire time...except for the times my children called me on my cell phone. (Don't worry. The first call was about a sick stomach and fear of vomiting. The second call was about a candle jar falling and sending shards of glass all over the kitchen. So no cause for alarm.)

Seriously, the movie actually DID do a good job of following the story from the book, the key point being that Bella is obsessed with a vampire boy and can't live without him and needs him even if he's bad for her and blah blah blah needy obsessive blah blah blah typical pubescent vampire love.

I've told Cassie that she is welcome to read the book...once she and I have a talk about liking boys and kissing boys and holding hands with boys and blah blah blah since that's a big part of the book.

She's pretty much sworn off the book for life.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Letter: Unrated!

Some of you are unfortunate enough to already be on our mailing list for the Family Christmas Letter and are subjected to this nonsense year after year.
We often have some ridiculous theme as the backdrop for the letter. It helps make it easier to stomach all our "look what my kids can do" and "guess where we went" info if you are at least fooled into thinking we're a little creative about it.

This year, the backdrop was a reality show. It's perhaps the lamest of all our letters, especially since Cindy wouldn't let me paste our heads on the bodies of contestants from "Big Brother." She's holding me back creatively, I'm telling you.

For those of you who didn't receive this literary gem, here it is in all its glory.
(Note: this is the "unrated" version with the "poo" references when you get to Cheddar's introduction. Sorry, Cindy. I couldn't find the finial version, so there are other differences from the actual letter mailed to family, friends and heads of state.)

Welcome to the hit reality show, “The Newlands In 2008!”

It hasn't enjoyed a huge viewership thus far, but we're hoping this mass mailing will generate new interest in the show, and maybe even pick up a few new sponsors.

The set for the show is pretty much the same as last season; it still takes place in the family's two-story home outside Bloomington, Indiana. A few pictures and chotchkis have changed around the house, but if you were to drop by the set, you'd pretty much feel like you were transported in time all the way back to 2007. Maybe for next season, the network will go crazy and splurge on a new throw rug or outlet covers.

Most of the players are the same as last season too. In fact, no one got voted out...…yet.

You may remember Scott, the father figure of the show. Some viewers have referred to him as "middle-aged," but that's probably based solely on the fact that he's balding, gaining weight and about halfway through his life. Unfortunately, with the current state of the economy, he won't be retiring this year, so he’ll keep showing up for work at Sherwood Oaks Christian Church as the Family Minister, though sometimes he shows up as “Professor Scott” or “VBX Man.” Scott continued his cheese obsession in the Christmas episode by making Velveeta Fudge. He swears that lots of people have said it is “really good,” some of them even say it AFTER they find out it contains processed cheese.

Cindy, the mother hen on the show, left her position as home school teacher at the end of last season. Amid all the hoopla in the tabloids over the "Kidsaregrowingup-Gate" scandal, she made the transition to being a substitute teacher at the kids' public school. Even though she can no longer wear pajamas to class like last year, it has its good points, like an occasional paycheck which helps support her online shopping addiction. Plus she really, really, really, really loves teaching, AND she’s really, really, really, really good at it as evidenced by the success of her former homeschool students and the glowing references from her former homeschool’s principal/janitor. She’s also been traveling like an heiress with a trust fund: Vegas, Texas, North Carolina, Mexico, Malibu, San Diego and Marengo, Indiana.

Sixth-grade Cassie, who used to fool the other players with her "shy act," is no longer the quiet, unassuming girl from last season. Some viewers have written asking if she has been replaced with a new out-going player by the same name with identical features. No, it's the same Cassie but playing with a new strategy including having a starring role in the Spring '08 musical at church, actually running for student council at school, becoming a violin virtuoso and winning her class speeling beee! Keep your eye on this girl; she's going to go far on this show.

Fourth-grade Shelby is a lot like she's been in previous seasons. She's still into sports as she continues to excel at soccer and basketball, and this year she tried softball, showing herself to be incredible at first base. The ball fields were just around the corner, so we could even walk or ride our bikes there and do our part to save the planet. (We COULD, but we DIDN'T.) Shelby has become a prolific writer, with such memorable lines from her school work as “relief flowed over him like Gatorade over a Superbowl-winning coach.” We expect her to write for some upcoming episodes; watch for her in the credits and at awards shows.

Third-grade Brynne headed off to public school for the first time. Brynne plays soccer and basketball like her sister, but she’s also started dabbling in gymnastics. During cast interviews, when asked to describe herself, she said, “I’m the SPARKLY one.” Despite her sparkliness, she dug in and got dirty in Mexico building houses for the second year in a row. This time she was able to bring the whole family. The best scene of the season was her baptism in the Pacific Ocean in Mexico. You can see highlights from that episode on Youtube.com; search for “Brynne’s Baptism.” (Seriously, it’s there.)

Second-grade Jenna also hopped on the bus for the first time this season. She loves school, is always excited to go, and she comes home with fantastic stories from her day; some of them even make sense. One of the most common questions we get about her is “Where does she get her blonde hair?” All of the girls have been blonde, but Jenna’s hair remains almost white, except in the summer when pool chemicals turn it green. She proved herself to be a daredevil in Episode 24 when the gang went to Family Camp in Seymour, Indiana. Labor Day weekend was chock-full of shotguns, ziplines, rock-climbing, death-defying flights and watersports. Jenna surprised us all by climbing a telephone pole and leaping from the top to a trapeze bar. This kid keeps the cast laughing. In fact, she’s such a hoot, she may even get her own spin-off some day.

In a shocking turn of events, a new cast member was added this season. Cheddar, the famous Maltipoo, arrived and brought much laughter, joy, chewed up pencils, and soiled carpet to the show. They don’t call him a “Matlipoo” for nothing. (Actually, the reason is that he’s a mix of Maltese and Poodle, but we enjoy the double entendre.) Cindy’s character talks a good game about not enjoying him, but when the cameras stop rolling, she can be found cuddling the puppy on the couch and making baby talk to him. What a softy.

We are sorry to announce the passing of a dear family member. Scott’s grandpa—affectionately referred to as “Buddypa”—died this fall after a long and significant life. He is already greatly missed.

Next season looks to be a good one with Scott and Cindy celebrating their 15th anniversary, perhaps another house-building venture in Mexico and [insert dramatic music here] junior high.

Be sure to TiVo the cliff-hanger season finale.
You’ll be left wondering:
Will Scott grow his hair back?
Will Cindy try to give up the unemployed lifestyle and renew her teaching license?
Will Cassie shock everyone and get lower than an A on something?
Will Shelby give up football at recess in favor of dolls and girl drama?
Will Brynne stop rolling in glitter and crushed diamonds?
Will Jenna lose so many teeth that the tooth fairy has to hire help?

The cast hopes that all is going well in your own reality shows. They also wish to thank their producer/director/creator God for all His blessings in 2008 and for His faithfulness every day this year.
And that’s saying more than normal since this was a leap year.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Have You Ever...

A) Have you ever sprayed contact solution on your toothbrush? (Or other such switcheroo because you were sleepy)

2) Have you ever gone on a trip and forgot to pack underwear? (Accidentally. I don't want to hear about you go commando on purpose.)

III) Have you ever forgotten to rinse shampoo out of your hair? (For me, I didn't notice until I was out in the rain and it bubbled up a bit.)

These are three things that I have done (the third one not so recently).
All you have to do is comment "yes, no, no" or whatever would be true in your case. Elaborating on your answers is totally optional unless there is a wicked backstory that must be shared with the world, then it's totally mandatory).

It's is a quick "meme" (which I believe is Swahili for "tree root") that I've come up with for our mutual enjoyment. You can do it with any number of Lhave you evers," even one. It hopefully serves the purpose of locating others out there in Cyberinternetoblogoland who are just as dorky/forgetful/forgetful as me. There ARE others like me, aren't there?

Hello? Hello?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mr. Scott Tells The Christmas Story

Last Friday was an awesome Christmas party thingie for families at our church. We called it the Jingle Jam, which is a copyrighted program from a big church in the south, but a lot of the stuff was original stuff we wrote ourselves. Yeah, there were carols. Yeah, there was a girl with chocolate smeared on her face. Yeah, there were live camels and sheep. Yeah, there was a robot named Mr. Roboto who told lame jokes. But what I want to share is the video of the teaching time that my friend Tim helped us produce. (Tim is the husband of also-friend Emily.)

In case you've always wondered what I look and sound like, here's your chance. This is also your chance to see the coveted Last Supper Lunch Box.

Once you get over the fact that I wrapped baby Jesus in toilet paper and terrorized the stable with Godzilla (played by an angel), it really is a charming Christmas video that is sure to become a classic that your children will ask to see every year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bread. Seriously, Folks

At our office, we've all signed up for what we're bringing to the staff Christmas luncheon. (We also had the discussion over the difference between a "lunch" and a "luncheon." Generally speaking, I believe doilies are the main differentiation.)

There was a list of blanks with a certain number of spaces to sign up for either appetizers, cakes, pies, vegetables, salads, nogs, etc. All that was left when I signed up?

Seriously, folks.

Claudia's bringing her world-famous sourdough rolls. How can I compare with that? You see, Jeremy brought a delicious tray of wheat rolls last year, but when Claudia's in town, all other rolls are dismissed. (Hence, Jeremy's left-over rolls are wrapped and stored on my top office shelf. I'm not even kidding. There was a prank planned for them, but I forgot what it was 11 1/2 months ago.)

So what should I bring?

A) a loaf of Wonder Bread
B) Hawaiian rolls
C) Mini Muffins of some kind
D) Bread sticks (maybe with a little sun-dried tomatoes and parsley for holiday colors?)
E) Jeremy's Wheat Rolls

If the magic of the internet works quickly, maybe I'll be reading your ideas in time to shop and/or bake for our doily-laden luncheon tomorrow (Thursday).

One of Those Days

I'm trying to cram all my frustrations into one 24-hour period so I can flush them all out and have a good day tomorrow.

My Day:
* Heading down to the basement storage area in my pj's on a cold snowy wintry day and shutting the door behind which LOCKS ME IN and the only way out is through an outside door so I have to go outside and around the the house in my pj's on the snow.

* Assembling a shelving unit for the garage which boasts "Assembles in 2 Minutes!" They clearly didn't calculate in the extra 17 minutes for assembling it wrong and disassembling it in the first place.

* Planning 23 projects for a day off today and not having a SINGLE screw or nail or jabberwocky that I need and the roads have a sheet of ice and my brakes are questionable and my tires are balding.

And on top of it all I don't feel like going back and adding commas where they're needed in this post.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Being Held Hostage

I'm sitting here, knowing I should be doing a little work. The particular work I need to do right now involves getting files off of my computer.

The only problem (other than apathy, Christmas distractions and general malaise) is that Charlie The Computer Guy has been sitting at my desk clicking away, trying to solve a network problem for the last hour or two.

I'm assuming my computer has developed Consumption, Dysintery, or their binary equivelants.

In the meantime, I'm sitting here on a couch using my Blackberry. So I can't check speeling on this post, unless you expect me to get OFF the couch and find a dictionary.

In conclusion, if anyone has experience with a Code 1058 error or an SQL Dumper issue, please let me know.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Don Quixote Finds A Christmas Tree

Some people never learn. Ever.

We have this great Christmas tree farm outside town. People from our church own it, and we get to visit a little and usually see some of their animals.

Our tradition is to head out to the section where all the trees are one price regardless of size. We drive past all those perfect trees that are $10 or $15 per foot and dream about one day getting one of those because they really look great even without the lights and ornaments.

But we drive to the back of the farm. The trees there aren't as perfect, but we can get a great deal. As a man, my quest involves getting the BIGGEST tree possible (deja vu?). If they're all the same price, you might as well get as much as you can. By this weekend, they were pretty well picked over. Most were my height or shorter. Most had bald spots on one side. It was really slim pickins.

One stood out. It was sort of tall; I was guessing 7 or 8 feet. It had a really nasty bare side . It was crooked and bent. Fairly hideous...but tall. I talked my children out of more modest, well-shaped trees. My bad.

As luck would have it (by "luck" I mean "my stupidity") I neglected to request that the tree farmers drill a hole up into the trunk. If you're not familiar with this, get familiar; it's a HUGELY cool thing. They can hold the tree up straight and set it down on this drill thingie. Then, when I place it on my special tree stand with the pokey pin in the bottom, it is automatically straight. That's it. No work.

But without the hole drilled this time, I had to drill it myself. I won't bore you with the details of the 20 attempts at a hole the right size, depth and direction and cutting off the trunk a little more to start over and blah blah blah curse curse curse. Even after cutting some of the trunk off, this tree turned out to be 6 inches taller than our ceiling. I think we will hang a painting or sconce on the ceiling to hide the scuff marks after Christmas.

To make a long story just a little less long, with the help of some really thick books, some twine and a well-placed curtain rod, we got the tree to stand.

I was ready to skip Christmas altogether and move on to the next holiday. I understand Martin Luther King Day requires very little drilling, cutting and swearing.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It Was A Very insert adjective here Party

I must apologize to Brian and Kristin, our neighbors across the street. I mentioned their Christmas party so briefly in passing in my last post.

She commented:
"Your description of your neighbor's Christmas Party is sorely lacking in favorable and creative adjectives!"

So in reparation, let me just tell you that their cool and well-attended party was delightful and amazing, full of festive and yummy foods. Kristin was gorgeous in her fun Christmas apparel and flowing locks. The ginormous spread of food dazzled me with delectable treats both savory and sweet, and I sampled all the various pepperminty and wassailish holiday beverages. A good time was had by all, and it was a great place to unload my Velveeta Fudge on the unsuspecting masses.

Thank you, generous Brian and hospitable Kristin. Your beneficent neighborliness is truly an appreciated blessing to me and my lovely bride.

(Do you think those 27 adjectices sufficiently convey my sentiments vividly enough for friendly, kind, thoughtful, well-groomed, aromatic Kristin?)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Actual Unretouched Photo

Please study the following picture, and then answer the questions that follow.
The above photo was taken after a Christmas party tonight at a friend's house across the street.
Based on the amount of leftovers, which of the following was gobbled up the most?
a) Sweet Brown Sugar Barbecue Meatballs
b) Savory Ranch Flavored Oyster Crackers
c) Fudge made with Velveeta Processed Cheese

There you have it. The masses have spoken.
They have voted with their mouths, and their mouths say, "As long as you don't tell us that there is Velveeta in this deliciously decadent fudge, we will eat it like it's going out of style."

Actually, several people ate some even after they knew the secret ingredient. I did mention Paula Dean's name, though, to add credibility. At that point, they were just surprised it wasn't also battered and deep-fried.

So if you prefer coming home with virtually empty platters so you don't have to dirty up your Tupperware with leftovers, you better make this super easy fudge. If you missed my post with the Pioneer-woman-style photos and the actual recipe (corrected no fewer than 3 times when I saw mistakes in the amounts of cheese and/or sugar), then click on anywhere I've said Velveeta or Paula Dean in this post.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

What's wrong with this picture?
It's all a matter of perspective, really.
Some people prefer their fudge withOUT the Velveeta, while others swear by its creamy goodness. (And I'm not even joking. Why don't you believe me? Come on. I'm being serious...for once. Here's a real, legitimate recipe site with it. So phooey on you disbelievers.)
The first thing I did was cube up a half pound of Velveeta (which is 1/4 of a "loaf") along with two sticks of butter, and then I nuked it for what ended up being a minute and a half.
That gave me approximately a minute and a half to continue to slice more cheese and eat it raw.

Let me warn you, as much as you'd like for the Velveeta and the butter to melt together into a creamy sauce, in actuality it separates and looks kind of gross. Surprisingly, it ended up looking kind of like globules of melted cheese floating in melted butter; go figure. Maybe I did it wrong. Next time I may melt the cheese first, and then stir in softened butter and see if it looks less unnatural.

Moving on...
In a separate bowl, I mixed together a 2 lb. bag of powdered sugar with 1/2 cup of cocoa. Important: ALWAYS use a mixing bowl that is just too small for your ingredients so that they fly all over the counter and floor with every flick of the wrist. It won't help you in any way, but it will make me feel better knowing that I'm not the only one who does this EVERY SINGLE TIME I mix.

I don't have a photo of the next step, but picture me dumping the cocoa/sugar mixture into the cheese/butter glop. It pretty quickly turned into a chocolate-colored dough-wad as I stirred it and added some vanilla. I was starting to get excited, because it looked good enough to eat at this stage.

Then I plopped it into a 9x13, and I chilled it for a couple of hours.
When the kids got home, they devoured it.
This is a picture of Shelby eating her second piece of fudge...right before I told her it was made with cheese.

The truth is, the fudge was delicious. The children and I still continued to eat it after the revelation of its surprise ingredient, but Cindy didn't finish her chunk. This was mainly a moral stand for Cindy as opposed to anything related to taste, I believe. It turns out she's a chocolate snob.

Here's the recipe so you can make it today and thank me.
[Note: I re-read the post and found some mistakes, so my apologies to anyone who tried the recipe with too little sugar or cheese before I corrected it. Below is the proper recipe...I hope.]

1/2 lb. Velveeta (or other processed cheese)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
32 oz. powdered sugar (2 lbs, I think)
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
(chopped nuts, optional)

1. Melt together the cheese and butter.
2. Combine the cocoa and sugar.
3. Add the cocoa/sugar to the cheese/butter and toss in the vanilla. Mix well.
4. Plop it in a pan and chill.

Next, we'll check into swapping out the creamy nougat in homemade Milky Way bars for some Velveeta. Or maybe Oreos with a Velveeta center?
I'm sure other chocolate/cheese combinations will be just as tasty. And you?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Save Yourself Literally TENS of Seconds This Christmas

[insert intro music for infomercial here]

Hi, my name is Scott, and I'm here to tell you about a revolutionary idea that will save you tens of seconds throughout the course of this holiday season and keep you safe and healthy as well.

Are you tired of climbing under your Christmas tree to reach the outlet to plug in and unplug the lights every day?
Do you end up cussing and/or crying when you reach into the tree to turn on the lights only to get a pine needle right in your eye?
Does all the trouble of dealing with those stupid lights make you consider converting to one of those non-tree-lighting religions once and for all?

Then let me share a secret that will save you from all that back-breaking, eye-poking, religion-losing heartache.

I bought a fancy-schmancy cord with a big fat button in the middle of it. It's designed to be stepped on to turn things on and off.
I don't remember how much I spent on the two that we bought, but they more than paid for themselves by reducing the frequency of December visits to the chiropractor and eye-surgeon.
Every Wednesday you can visit RocksInMyDryer to check out the massive list of people who wish that they had Works-For-Me-Wednesday ideas as wonderful as mine to share.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Horseradish and Bananas...yummmm

Last night, Paula Dean was competing in a rerun of an Iron Chef episode in which they're making all kinds of Christmas desserts.

Paula Dean is such a realistic cook, it's hard to believe they let her on TV. While other TV cooks are creating masterpieces out of arugula, capers and vichyssoise, Paula deep-fries things, drops in whole sticks of butter and pretty much makes me want to lick the screen.

It was late, and I was drifting in and out of consciousness. In a moment when I was neither here nor there, I thought I heard them say she was making fudge using processed cheese. This couldn't be true, so I fell back asleep and dreamed about how perfect it WOULD be if you could truly make cheesy fudge. I love cheese. Cindy loves chocolate. It would be our perfect edible love child.

After a full night of dreaming cheesy-chocolate dreams, I hopped online to investigate this mythical food of the gods. It turns out that there are extremely popular recipes that involve Velveeta and sugar and cocoa, and some people swear that they will never bother with any other fudge recipe. One recurring recommendation was "do NOT let people know what is in the fudge or they will not like it." But if you keep the cheese a secret, people will gobble it up like it's crack cocaine. (I have no experience with this drug, but I understand it's addictive...like cheese.)

I hope to try making this fudge very soon and giving a report so you can celebrate with me.
[All right....I made it. Read about it here.]

In the meantime, hold on to that hope you've had that you and your lover's favorite flavors may actually go great together:

Steak and blueberries.
Salmon and espresso.
Chocolate ice cream and lentils.
Cinnamon and tuna.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

You Must Destroy This Post After You Read It


I'm over here...hiding under this rock. Don't tell anyone I'm here, because I have a shameful secret to confess. I'm afraid to tell you, because you may not be able to be my friend anymore. After all, people might associate you with me, and the tabloids will latch onto it, and the next thing you know you'll have to cancel your plans to run for president in O-Twelve.

This information absolutely cannot leave this blog. No linking to this on your site. No stopping me on the streets and saying, "I read your sinful post" in earshot of other humans. And by all means NO telling my mom; her heart's not as strong as it once was. She's still coping with the fact that her son SELLS PLASMA.

So this is just between you, me and my eye-rolling Catholic priest.

[deep breath]

I played Bingo on Friday night.

I know. You don't believe me, but it's true.

Our girls' elementary school had a Bingo fund-raiser. They had different sponsors who put up the prize money for each of the games (if I understood correctly), so that 100% of our entry fees went straight to the school PTO. It wasn't gambling, you see. It was donating to this wonderful organization.

Then the worst possible thing happened.

I WON the very first game. From that moment on, Bingo dauber ink was coursing through my veins so thickly you could see the subdermal lump sliding up my arm on it's way to cause a pulmonary embolism. (Yes, we watch "ER." Can you tell?)

I couldn't get enough; I was playing six cards at a time, sweating and cursing at old ladies who were calling "Bingo" long before it was humanly possible. I now know all about "four corners," "double postage," "B&O" and "pig in a blanket."

By the end of the night, I was even able to say "Are you down yet?" and sound like I knew what I was talking about. (I believe that being "down" means you're one number away from winning. For examply, you're just waiting for B8 to be called next so you can jump up and down and shout "IN YOUR FACE" to Ethel Fitzenstein who has not been at all humored by the last couple times you yelled "Bingo" prematurely.)

It's like a drug, I'm telling you. I can't wait for my next fix. I even suggested to Cindy that for our anniversary, if we end up going out of town, we can look for a Bingo game there and not have to worry about being seen by anyone we know.

Now that I've been so vulnerable about my addiction, please tell me I'm not the only one who's looking forward to spending my Tuesday nights at the VFW.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mommy Needs A Break

Cindy is regularly voted "Parent Most Likely To Not Be A Screw Up" in our weekly family election. At least I'm a shoe-in for runner-up.

While I have minor lapses and forget to feed the kids, pay the bills or unplug the toaster before taking it in the bathtub, Cindy is generally on top of things.

But sometimes, once in a very great while, she has a moment like today:

Cindy: "OK, kids. While we're gone, I want you to empty the dishwasher and then fill it up with dirty clothes."

The election could be a little closer this week.

Post #305

Now that I've passed the 300-post milestone, I feel like my blog should evolve and take on a more sophisticated tone.

I've investigated other blogs that represent the kind of serious maturity one might expect of a man of my experience and wisdom.

So I may just try my hand at intriguing posts on financial wisdom, understanding women, deep theologicial issues and astrophysics.

Awwww. Who am I kidding?

My dog just devoured half a loaf of french bread he found in the driveway (no clue where it came from). I tried to take it away because I know his stomach is only so big. I'm going to hang around a bit to see if he's going to vomit it all up or get diarrhea or something. I really don't want Cindy to come home and find Cheddar swimming in a sea of reconstituted french bread.

THAT'S the kind of stuff my friends expect me to write about. If you want a discourse on predestination, hedge funds or the feasibility of wormholes, I have other friends who can cover those quite well.

I should stick to what I know: poop, cheese, vomit, laziness, cheese, television, eating, cheese, and raising four wonderful little girls under the careful supervision of my lovely wife.
Updated to add: So far so good with Cheddar and the loaf of bread. His belly hasn't exploded yet. But if it does, you can bet I'll turn it into one heckuva post for ya'.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Scoatch Like Christmas

I'm home from work today, keeping watch over a child and her vomit.

Don't worry about me, though. I have a big, long to-do list to keep me company. And, as I always do when I have a to-do list, I have found a number of things that "need" to be done that aren't even on the list, like trying to Christmas-ify my blog header (the big title block at the top).

Before you get all impressed and say, "Great idea, Scott," please know that what you should say is, "Great idea that you stole from someone else, Scott."

Well, my lovely wife Christmas-ified her blog header this week, and I do everything she does. She started blogging; I started blogging. She started having children; I started having children. She started wearing fishnet stockings; I started wearing fishnet stocking. Just kidding. I did that all on my own.

Here's what I've worked up so far:
It's no Mona Lisa, but it does have a bald man in a Santa hat which is the modern equivalent. You really can't go wrong with that. I need to put some finishing touches on it, like maybe I need a glowing red nose.

There will be time enough for the 27 things on the to-do list later...well, actually no, but we'll cross that poorly constructed bridge when we come to it.

And for Marie, here is our house with the wreaths all in place (#14 on the to-do list...check).
For the record, it looks like a big house from the front, but it's only like 3 feet deep. I don't know how it doesn't fall over.

Adult Fantasies

There's a store in town called something like "Adult Fantasy Store."

I've never been in it, but you can't miss it on one of the main streets here. I have to admit I'm a little intrigued. I've talked with some friends--who are also adults, the target audience of the store--and we've discussed what we would fantasize about finding in that store:

* Obedient children
* Magic weight loss pills
* Comfortable shoes that also look cool
* Affordable dental care
* Pain-free permanent back hair removal
* Free child care
* Someone to clean our house
* Hovercars

I should call the owners up and recommend some of these things if they don't already carry them. If they do already, I bet they're raking in some serious cash.

Is there any other merchandise that you think they should carry?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lazy Man's Wreath-Hanging

It took a few years to figure out how best to hang wreaths on our windows at Christmas time.

We have a traditional-style home with lots of windows (11 or so) on the front of the house, and we love to have a plain, artificial wreath in each one, and a candle on each window sill. (See how badly the house to the right needs a bunch of fake wreaths?)

I had tried suction cups and attachments to clip on the frame around the window. I'm not too eager to put nails and screws on the outside of the house, because I imagine the house might fall down if I did.

A couple of years ago we discovered the easiest and fastest method that works for us.

I simply take a length of red fake-velvety Christmas ribbon and loop it through the wreath and staple the ends of the ribbon together. If I was industrious, I could also make a bow out of the same ribbon...but I'm not, so I haven't.

We have the double-hung windows (i think that's the term), so we can open either the top or bottom pane. To hang the wreaths, I slide down the top pane and fling out the wreath while holding onto the ribbon.

I lower the wreath to the right spot. Then I shut the window with the ribbon stuck in it. The window does all the work of holding the wreath in place, and I haven't had to do any major construction or destruction.

Best of all, I haven't had to step outside for even a second! In a matter of minutes yesterday, I had all our windows wreathed and ready for Christmas (except for the garage windows which will require burrowing through 12 months-worth of spiderwebs and ladybug carcases trapped in the blinds).

I hope this helps at least one person be a little lazier this Christmas season.

[photo added]
You can pop over to Rocks In My Dryer to see a bunch of other people's great WorksForMeWednesday ideas; I just scanned the list, and there's a heck of a lot of Christmas ideas for you...plus a yeast infection idea if that's your thing.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dang! Shucks! Fooey! Schnagglefumble! Drats!

Sorry for my language.
I'm just kicking myself BIG time.

It turns out that my previous post was my 300th and I just totally let it slip by without even a hint of hoopla.
That's so not like me. Remember the fun we had for my 100th post? If I'd had the presence of mind to see THIS milestone creeping up on me, I assure you that I would've planned something bigger for you.

But as it is, I'll just have to throw something together real quick.

O.K. I just called around to see what kind of place I could rent for this shindig on such short notice. Apparently, a lot of places require a skoach more than 5 minutes notice, so I'll meet you all down at the party room in the back of Uncle Skeeter's Rib Shack/Bait Shop in just a sec.

[just a sec passes]

Welcome to the celebration. Unlike last time, I don't have time to ask some of you readers to take part in the planning and preparation. For decor, we're pretty much limited to what I could grab from around the house. So it's largely a Christmas-themed gala...and not a very classy one. We'd already had the van loaded with our rejects from Christmas past for delivery to Goodwill, but they'll just have to make the detour here at Uncle Skeeter's for a bit before ending up in resale heaven.

And yup, you guessed it. For food, we're having delicious turkey. At my mom's we had a whole second turkey that never even got carved, so we'll have plenty for tonight's extravaganza. And a little stuffing, some corn casserole, a half of a pumpkin pie, some green been casserole, and gravy. And we might have half of a bowl left of the world's best Clam Chowder. I'm sorry there was no leftover cheeseball after Thanksgiving dinner at the Newlands, but you should know there's NEVER leftover cheeseball (or cheese-anything) when I'm in town.

I feel awful that I didn't have time to commission one of you to put together a PowerPoint slide show with highlights from the past 300 posts. Or a stirring tear-jerker of a speech in my honor. So I'll just pick a few of my favorite posts and share why I picked them:

* Dying Dog, Raw Chicken Restaurant on Vacation, because I still have flashbacks every time I eat chicken...in a restaurant with a dog in the corner...seizing.
* Time-Traveling Hygiene Products, because most commenters agreed that I was "deadmeat" for mentioning hygiene products and tube socks. I haven't done it since...until now.
* This Tribute to my wife, because it has the world's best photo at the bottom, and the inclusion of the lyrics from "She's A Bad Mamma Jamma" put it in the running for a Pulitzer. It will also help her forget that I posted about hygiene products.
* That "Corndog" One, because I go back and read it every once in a while, and I absolutely giggle each time. I'm such a dork.
* The One Where I Try To Burn Out The Yellow Jackets, because near-death experiences help you appreciate the little things...like staying alive.
* This One Where I'm Not Really Making Fun of My Wife, because I just thought of it again last week when my daughter was telling about the time when the teacher at school turned on the TV to pop in a movie or something and Beth Moore (the lady preacher) happened to be on the channel briefly. Cindy's question for my 4th grader, of course: "What was Beth Moore wearing?" The blue shirt and grey/silver pants; my daughter actually noticed! Women are weird.
* American Idol Live Blogging, because I love to demonstrate to the world that I have no life by blogging live during that show each week it's on.
* This Vomit One, because being a parent is all about the vomit, doncha think?

Are there any that have touched a special spot in YOUR heart? I'd love to hear about how your life has been changed by what you have read here. I'm sure this blog is responsible for saving marriages, bringing prodigals home, ending world hunger, and making coffee squirt out noses onto computer monitors.

Seriously, though. Thanks for sharing life with me these last 300 posts. I'm having a blast writing mine and reading yours.

I couldn't have done it without you.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Prom Dates and Cops (Unrelated)

Part of the joy of going back to my hometown in Missouri for a holiday is catching up on what's going on locally.

For example, my mom saved a newspaper article about my date for my junior prom. She is now an award-winning literature teacher at my old high school. So you see, I'm kind of pretend famous.

Almost as cool are the police reports in a local paper written by that community's police chief. I think he enjoys his job if the following reports are any indication. These published accounts have just a touch more personality than the typical crime reports in the paper.

• A trespassing ex-boyfriend was escorted April 11 from a home in the 300 block of Madison Avenue. Next time, police said, the man will know better than to argue with his girlfriend, especially when she owns the house.

• Officers were called to a residence in the 1200 block of Gilbert Avenue April 15 for a strange subject knocking on doors. Officers looked for the strangest subject they could find and stopped him...

• Officers raided an unsupervised teenage party April 16 on Eldorado Court. After sneaking up on the unsuspecting teens and scaring the bejesus out of them, officers notified the parents of the incognito party...
You gotta love it when police strategy involves "scaring the bejesus out of" unsupervised teens.
I feel safer AND more entertained thanks to the local police.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

That's Just Fowl

I was doing a search for the most complicated way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving. Not because I actually want to engage in that kind of insanity. I'm more of a buy-a-large-boneless-chunk-of-perfectly-shaped-turkey-meat kind of guy. Actually, I love HAM; ham's already cooked so you just have to heat it up, and a microwave can do that in a pinch.

No, I was simply wasting time on the computer. Searching for the lengthiest-to-prepare turkey recipe was as good a time-waster as anything.

So check this out: I know you've probably heard of a Turducken which is a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. But how about "The True Love Roast," which has a different bird for each of the 12 days of Christmas. (For those struggling with the math, that's 12 birds.)

Here is the picture of the whole flock which explains why it takes more than 45 minutes to put together and 8 hours to cook:

Any guesses on what birds "my true love" gave to me?

OK. I'll go ahead and ruin the surprise, because--quite honestly--there are some birds on the list that I've never even heard of:
1. Turkey, 2. Goose, 3. Barbary duck, 4. Guinea fowl, 5. Mallard, 6. Poussin, 7. Quail, 8. Partridge, 9. Pigeon squab, 10. Pheasant, 11. Chicken, 12. Bald Eagle

(OK. I'm kidding about the bald eagle, but that sounded more American than the "Aylesbury Duck" from the original recipe.)

If you're eating anything less than 12 different birds today, clearly you are just plain lazy.

Have a happy Thanksgiving anyway. Enjoy your loved ones, and by all means, get off this blasted computer and go eat some guinea fowl or poussin...whatever THAT is.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lazy or Smart?

Don't you love it when little kids get into the kitchen cabinets and pull out the pots and the pans and make a mess all over?
Me neither.

There's a better use for those lower cabinets than storing noisy things.

Once our kids got to a responsible age, we found it helpful to keep all their own cups, plates and bowls in a lower cabinet.

This way, when one of them says, "I'm thirsty," I can remain peacefully stretched out on the couch and point in the general direction of the cup cabinet and grunt, "git yo'self a cup and fill it with some water."

The increase in my children's self-reliance is amazingly proportional to the increase in the my weight. Hmmmmm.
As always, for ideas that are even more impressive than mine, check out Rocks In My Dryer for more WorksForMeWednesday ideas.

Welcome To New York, Sort Of

I just can't leave well enough alone with the crazy signs. I know there are plenty of websites where you can see wacky mistakes and curious oddities on a regular basis. Some of them I'm afraid to send you to in a link because there is no guarantee that everything posted would be clean enough for your pure little eyes.

But here's a photo snapped and emailed to me by a reader while visiting New York City.

Phooey on those who have characterized the fine folks of NYC as cold and unwelcoming. Here's proof of the opposite:

"[insert New York accent] Welcome to our fancy restaurant. I see that you are in a wheelchair. Rest assured that we have taken your every need into consideration, unlike some of our competitors who have simply widened their toilet stall or attached a railing to the wall. We, on the other hand, have an entire accessible suite with top-of-the-line accessible fixtures, brand new flooring and walls. We even have a perfume dispenser (for a quarter) placed low for your convenience..."

"...all you have to do is drag that clunky wheelchair of yours up a couple flights of stairs. We just threw a frozen roast in the crock pot, so it should be ready by the time you get back to your table."
For some reason, Elaine from Bismark who sent me the photo asked that I not disclose her name or location. (so I made up a name and location. You're welcome, Michelle...)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Growing Old Stinks

I don't think many people would argue with the truth of the title of this post.

We had lunch with my mother- and father-in-law a while back. I mean no disrespect as I describe their conversation. They can't help it that they've reached the age when it is common to discuss the following riveting subjects (actual topics while eating out at Chili's):

bowel dissections
prostate cancer
broken hips
and test after test after test.

At what age should I expect to start enjoying this stuff?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

::.. :..:. : ::. ::..:.. ::.:.::.. . :. .: You Have To Touch The Screen To Read The Title of This Post

It's not like you really care about the restroom signs at our church, but maybe some other signs may be of interest to you.

I'm assuming the same company that provided us with the aforementioned grammaticaly-challenged "MENS" and "WOMENS" signs also produced the other room signs we've had for the last several years.

Like the signs welcoming members and guests to our "Worship Center." A nice bonus touch on these signs was the addition of Braille for our seeing-impaired friends.

It would've been even more thoughtful if they hadn't placed the signs ABOVE THE DOORS, out of reach of the very hands necessary for reading braille.

So whenever a blind person attends, I guess we have to whip out a step ladder so they can feel around above the doorways as they figure out what room they're about to enter...and pray to God that no one throws open the doors in their faces.

While we're on the subject, is anyone else disturbed by the braille on drive-up ATM machines? If a person can't read the buttons on an ATM machine, should he/she really be behind the wheel of a car?

I'm sure there's a logical explanation for those. Just like there's probably a logical explanation for braille bumper stickers or a braille sign that says "DANGER: DO NOT TOUCH."

[By the way, I must know: how many of you actually felt your computer screen on the title?]

After re-reading this post, I hope other readers recognize that I'm not making fun of those with vision impairment. I'm mocking the cruel, evil sign-making industry.
...and whoever orders the signs for our church.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tastes Better Than It Looks, But Only A Little

I watch Man vs. Wild every once in a while just to learn some tips on what to do if I ever find myself stranded in the Sahara Desert, the Amazon or East L.A. From what I've learned from Bear Grylls (that's really the guy's name, I guess), if you want to live, you pretty much have to cut open an animal, eat its organs raw and drink whatever liquids you find in there. With the way the economy is going, you may want to start watching the show.

I'd like to think I'm as resourceful as Mr. Grylls.
Today, I made some lunch utilizing whatever materials were in the vicinity. In lieu of raw yak liver, grubs and elephant dung, I was fortunate enough to track down some leftover spaghetti, ground beef and cheese among other things.

I won't bother giving you the recipe; I'll just tell you how Cindy described it:

"It looks like dog poop."

I took offense and said, "I have NEVER said that about your cooking."

"Because I never make stuff that looks like dog poop."

Who cares what she thinks. Bear Grylls would've eaten it...especially if he thought it was poop.
Disclaimer: I apologize for so many mentions of the word "poop." Next time I write a post like this, I'll preface it with a warning like "Poop Alert!" so that those of you with severe poop allergies can go get your epi-pens before you read further.

Feelin' Groovy

Oh, what fun we had at the elementary school Family Retro Dance.

I couldn't find a suitable zoot suit anywhere in town, so I went with the standard unbutton-your-shirt-down-to-here-spread-the-collar-wide-and-wear-some-awful-piece-of-bling-that-screams-midlife-crisis look. I hear that was popular in the '70's.

I did pick out a lovely dress for Cindy at Goodwill. She's hot in ANY decade. Check out these mad skills I learned at the dance last night.

But as this photo demonstrates, the most important lesson learned was that deodorant is not the same thing as antiperspirant.

Friday, November 21, 2008

And This Shall Be a Signs Unto Yous

I dont gets to use my English major everydays, but every once in awhile a issue pops up that calls for a little bit of expertease.
For the last several weeks I've had difficulty going to the bathroom at the church where I work. No, it's not a medical issue. Being forced to see the following new signs outside the restrooms is painful:


(Yes, with an "s".)

My friend Emily who works with me is just as distressed and has put a voting button on the sidebar over at her blog. She wants to see if anyone in the world thinks those signs could be right. We've debated among our staff, and frankly, I've just found it wisest to believe whatever Emily says...because she is one smart cookie. (She used to be my secretary and then chose not to be...THAT'S how smart she is, my friends.)

So in protests, until those signs come down, I shall be adding a superfluous "s" every chances I gets.

I probably shouldn't do it around the childrens; they may picks it up and makes fools of themselves.

So go and votes and makes your intelligence voice heard.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Blame Tim, 100%

I woke up before 6 a.m. which is really not appropriate for a man of my laziness. Unable to regain unconsciousness, I was pretty much forced to read email and check all the latest posts on my reading list.

Tim Duckabush (not his real last name, but that's what I call him) is working on improving his health. I won't give details here, because that can be kind of personal--like telling the world he wears women's stockings; I don't want to be the kind of person who shares others' intimate details with everyone. But I will say that he's asked for friends to pray for him as he tries to stick to his diet plans. I wasn't going to do it, no way. Because if I DID, I might be forced to consider my own weight gain and the fact that my metabolism came to a grinding halt 5 years ago.

This morning at 5:30, though, I read his latest post and felt compelled to pray for him. And then as luck would have it, I suddenly felt like maybe I should do something for MY health/weight as well. Seeing as how there are a group of guys that meet at our church gym to work out and exercise each morning, I thought maybe since I was up anyway...

Nothing good ever comes from that line of thought.

First thing at the gym, I weighed myself.
I actually weighed a good 4 pounds less than yesterday. "My work is done here," I thought. I guess it should be noted that I had previously been weighed with my jeans on, wallet, phone, keys, shoes, etc. This morning it was only shorts and shirt; I even took my SOCKS off. Everyone else did that, so I was just following suit. (Yes, Mom, they're also jumping off bridges later this afternoon and I'll be joining them.)

Then came the stretching. I've never really received stretching lessons, so I'm always self-conscious when I do it in front of others, assuming they're thinking to themselves, "Who's that goofball over there? Doesn't he know that he's actually shrinking his muscles with those moves? His body will surely snap in two when he works out. What a dork!"

So after a few minutes of irreparable damage while stretching, I jogged around the gym for 5 minutes to warm up. Well, I really only jogged for 3 minutes. I learned that each lap was exactly like the previous one, so I didn't see any real need to continue THAT monotony.

I opted instead for the monotony of a demonic rowing machine. I will try to recreate for you the drama and excitement of rowing for 40 minutes. It's hard to describe the thrill, but I will do my best.

(repeat for 40 MINUTES...or eternity, whichever comes first. I'm fairly certain eternity comes first in the world of fake rowing.)

Needless to say, I feel great (because it's over). They tell me that it'll be tomorrow morning when my legs will hate me and hold the rest of my body for ransom.

I don't think I want it back, so don't bother sending money.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Where, Might I Ask, Did You Get That Cool Scarf?"

Thank you for asking about the scarf. It's really not that big a deal, but I appreciate your admiration of its quality and appearance.

Because I made it all by myself.

Now don't look surprised. I'm a very gifted scarf-maker, and if you draw near, I shall whisper to you my secret method of scarf-making.

1) Buy 1/4 of a yard of fleece at your local fabric store, craft store or black-market fleece dealer down on 4th and Walnut. A fourth of a yard is only 9 inches, and the fabric is probably like 45 inches wide, so you've got yourself a nice long strip-o-cloth, a.k.a. a scarf and you didn't have to lift a finger.
2) (optional) Use scissors and cut several slits into each end, creating little fringe-ie things.
3) Wear it.

Yup. My neck was cold a few weeks ago, so I popped into Hobby Lobby and spent a whopping $1.29 on the fabric and walked out of the store with a very well-insulated neck.


My other scarf was even easier. Here's how you can get one just like I did:

1) Walk by Mary's office (if you don't have a Mary, I'm sure a Donna or Vickie will do) and say, "That's a really sharp scarf you have hanging there on your coat hook."
2) She then offers it to you because she has "plenty of others just like it." And she possibly feels sorry for you and your $1.29 piece of ratty fleece.
3) Wear it.

So there you have it. Two easier-than-dirt ways to have a warm (and stylish) neck this winter. Feel free to let me know of any other scarf-making or -taking methods that work for you. At this rate I'll have 10-15 scarves by the end of winter!

For more life-changing ideas, every week go here to check out other Works For Me Wednesday freaks...who most likely spent way more on their scarves than I did.

Quick! Cindy, Look Over There In the Other Direction!

OK. Now that I've distracted my wife and made her look the other way, I need to ask a favor from my peeps out in Cyberinternetoblogoland.
We're gearing up for our 15th anniversary. When I say "gearing up," I mean that it's well over two months away. It takes that long for me to figure out how best to screw it up, and Cindy needs that much time to emotionally prepare for the disappointment of what I plan.

I've checked into a few different resources regarding traditional gifts for certain anniversaries. Depending on which one I choose to believe,the 15th anniversary could be the year to give something made of:
* roses
* melamine
* crystal
* corrugated cardboard
* velour
* particle board
* cheese

(I made up that last one, but I think it's a good one.)

Actually, I think Cindy and I would both prefer spending money and time on an EVENT type gift, going somewhere and doing something instead of just another chachki.

Keeping in mind that our anniversary is right on the heels of Martin Luther King Jr Day, who knows what kind of budget we'll have left after all THOSE parties and celebrations are over.

No, seriously, being a month after Christmas is usually a financial strain on our anniversary plans. That's why last year we ended up staying home and covering ourselves in slime and getting headaches. You can read about last year's anniversary from hell as a base line while you help me plan something this year that's even better.

The things we definitely need to do (yes, I know we don't NEED to do anything. I'm using one of the alternate definitions of "need") is to get out of town. I've checked with Cindy, and she wants to go someplace that has stuff to do; a cabin in the woods with a hot tub isn't really going to do it for her, and who can really blame her after last year's lousy anniversary soak?

Keeping in mind that we live in Indiana, and that Lousiville, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago and Bean Blossom are within a reasonable driving distance, does anyone have ideas of places to go and things to do to make a January get-away special?

Here's what is likely to happen if you DON'T help a brother out:

I'll surprise her by picking her up from school where's she'll be subbing, saying "Hop in the car. I've got the bags packed. We're headin' to the big city."

"Ooooh. How exciting. You are wonderful to take me away and to arrange for someone to take care of the kids."

[awkward silence. Then the next couple hours are spent back at home making arrangements for the kids while she repacks her bag because "I can totally not wear that sweater with those pants. Do you HATE me or something?"]

Finally on the road, the timing's all off, so we have to drive through White Castle if we're going to make it in time for the theater production I bought tickets for.

The rest of the weekend is filled with bad food, bad entertainment, bad hotels rooms, bad weather, and so forth. I'll try saying something like "Isn't it the thought that counts," bat my big puppy dog eyes and try to give her a peck. She'll say, "You seriously THOUGHT I would like White Castle, the stage revival of 'Ishtar,' and a Dominatrix-themed room at Fanta-Suites?"

As you can see, I need a little input in order to delay the Apocalypse just a little longer. Feel free to leave your ideas in my comments. Cindy is distracted by a shiny thing I threw across the room, so she won't be reading the comments (right, Cindy?).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Misled By Hollywood Yet Again

I am a kind of science fiction nerd. Just kind of.

I don't attend Star Trek conventions or anything like that, but I really like certain shows and movies. One of my favorite movies off all time is "Aliens." My wife even bought me the whole boxed set of the Aliens quadrilogy or quintilogy. She found it online for a good deal; I think it was perhaps one of her very first online purchases back in the day. The great thing about it is that the packaging is all in chinese of some kind and there are tons of subtitles to choose from including a couple of Korean choices, japanese, several chinese languages. Did I mention she bought it online and got a good deal?

I obsessed about the new Battlestar Galactica, staying up till 3 a.m. getting caught up on the first season on CD. I beg all of you to just watch the first 1-4 episodes and try to tell me it's not awesome.

I also liked Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), which is pretty much the only Star Trek I watched consistently. However, I tried to like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was just a little too unfamiliar for me, so I never got into it.

There was one particular character I remember, Constable Odo, who was a shapeshifter, or changeling. I believe his natural state was a blob of liquid plasma, but he could become any form he wished. Normally, he was in a humanoid form. (I think the script probably called for more airtime as the blob, but the pool of liquid protoplasmic actors is limited in the Alpha Quadrant.)

Here's a photo of Odo from his high school yearbook.

Changelings were very intriguing. Odo had to revert to his liquid state every so many hours to recharge or something. As a liquid he could slip through keyholes and under doors. Very useful skill no doubt.

So you can imagine my surprise when halfway through Angelina Jolie's newest movie "Changeling," it still hadn't been revealed who the shape-shifting alien was. I had lots of guesses including the police chief, the little boy and the 11th telephone operator down the line on the switchboard.

Then during some critical courtroom scenese, it seemed obvious that the defendent was about to liquify.

But he didn't.

Turns out that the Universal Pictures probably just used the title "Changeling" as an attempt to lure sci-fi fans to a movie THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SCIENCE OR FICTION!

It's a true story about a mother in L.A. whose son disappears and the police department--in an attempt to prove that they can get the job done--find her son, only it's a totally different boy. She struggles to prove that the boy is not hers, but the harder she tries, the more the police department is able to demonstrate that she's delusional, and she gets placed in an pysch hospital with others who have bucked the system.

It's an intense movie, and I really really liked it a lot. You should go see it.

But be warned: there are absolutely no Klingons, no time travel and Scotty ain't beamin' nobody anywhere.

Well, I didn't stay all the way to the end of the credits, so I suppose it's possible that at the very end the police chief liquified and went down a drain or something and escaped through a wormhole.
Dang! I should've stayed just in case.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Hear It's Warm In Belize

Is it cruel to stop feeding and watering my dog during the cold winter months?

Then maybe he wouldn't have to go the bathroom, and I wouldn't have to take him out to pee when it's freezing and/or snowing. I'm sure there are solutions to this like doggie diapers or litter boxes or doggie catheters, right?

He's had a few "accidents" inside lately...like peeing on our guests' coats and purses that were sitting right next to the door this weekend. But I have to admit, if my options were either to go out in the cold or pee on the guests outwear and accessories, it'd be a tough choice indeed.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Something Borrowed, Something Ewwwwww

Having four daughters, I'm likely to have four wedding$.

Therefore we often find our$elve$ having intere$ting conver$ations about marriage and wedding$ and the merit$ of having only mint$, nut$ and cake at a reception.

Since none of the girls are even interested in boys yet, most of these conversations usually are met with a "whatever, dad" or "ewwwww" or "why can't you just ask how school was like normal parents?"

My most recent talk was with Cassie.

"So, Cassie. That song on the radio mentioned how the girl's boyfriend asked her dad for permission to marry him. Do you think your future husband will ask ME?"


"Is that because you're going to find someone all rebellious or non-traditional."


"Are you going to elope?"


"Are you even going to get married?"


"Are you going to live at home forever with us?"


"Are you and your sisters going to share a cool apartment?"

"No." (Don't worry; a non-no answer is coming soon.)

"Are you going to go away to college and never coming home again?"


"Are you even going to move out?"


"Are you just going to wait for us to die so you can inherit our house?"

...slight pause...
"Do I get all your money, too?"

And you thought she didn't have any dreams.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Preparing For Our Interview On Larry King Live

Several of you already know my dear wife Cindy. While there are many things you can learn about her from reading her blog, there are some things that you can only know by asking the man she's been married to for the last 15 (almost) years.

Well, here's a "meme" (that's Norwegian for "I don't know what else to write about so here's a list of questions someone else came up with"). She answered these questions about ME, so it's only fair for me to return the favor.

1. She's sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen? I could pretty much narrow it down to "Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders," "The Office," "Heroes," "Dancing With The Stars," "Big Brother," "Amazing Race," "ER," "Grey's Anatomy," "Cold Case," "Without A Trace," "Lost," "American Idol." I'm just waiting for someone to create a reality show about singing cheerleaders stranded on an island, forced to live together in an ER with paper distributors with superpowers who do constant voice-overs while learning the Foxtrot and solving crimes from 20 years ago. The best of all possible worlds.

2. You're out to eat; what kind of dressing does she get on her salad? She likes to mix it up. Just when I think she's going for a raspberry vinaigrette, BAM! she orders the bleu cheese.

3. What's one food she doesn't like? Peas. And bananas. And milk (by itself). That's obviously three different foods, but they occupy the same corner of the food pyramid that Cindy would label "Ick."

4. You go out to the bar. What does she order? Lettuce, tomato, maybe eggs, cucumber if they have it. It's a salad bar, right?

5. Where did she go to high school? Some school in Painesville, Ohio. Riverside High? All I know is that they were the "Beavers." (Don't bring up her unfulfilled dreams of being a Beaverette.)

6. What size shoe does she wear? Ha. That's a funny one. I wonder if she's ever blogged about her shoe size. For the longest time she was wearing size 8 or 8 1/2. Then she actually went to one of them fancy schmancy stores where they have employees who assist you, bring you shoes from the back room AND even measure your feet. Turns out she's a 6 or something crazy like that.

7. If she was to collect anything, what would it be? Babies from around the world. Live babies. To adopt and raise...not just to hold for ransom, of course.

8. What is her favorite type of sandwich? Tough one. She can do gyros, loaded veggies from Subway, artichokes at Penn Station. Mainly, she likes any sandwich that someone else is making for her.

9. What would she eat every day if he could? Chocolate. And she does.

10. What is her favorite cereal? The only kind I've ever seen her eat is granola-ish stuff. It counteracts the chocolate, I believe.

11. What would she never wear? The first outfit she tries on. [sigh]

12. What is her favorite sports team? Indiana University Hoosiers. You should see her foam at the mouth when we go to a basketball game.

13. Who will she vote for? Palin in 2012.

14. Who is her best friend? She has too many to list. We stress with our daughters not to get hung up on a "best" friend. The chicks in our family are too good to share with just one lucky friend. If we were in Sunday school, I would answer "Jesus."

15. What is something you do that she wishes you wouldn't do? Snort through my nose/throat to clear out the gunk collecting back there. Crunch. Sniff. Pretty much anything I do that makes a noise.

16. How many states has she lived in? Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, Florida. That would be four...not counting the state of wedded bliss.

17. What is her heritage? She's a mixed bag of Sunni Muslim, African-Irish, Burmese-Latino...with just a hint of Pennsylvania Dutch. Actually, she's just pretty stinkin' white. German? Irish?

18. You bake her a cake for her birthday; what would it be? Lopsided. Undercooked.

19. Did she play sports in high school? Only if yearbook staff is a sport.

20. What could she spend hours doing? Blogging.

21. What's something cool about her? Literally? Her feet are freezing cold, and she gets them all over me in bed. Figuratively, something cool about her is her ability to ask great questions. Whether you've just met her or have known her forever, you can talk with her for hours, and she will learn all about you from questions like "what's your favorite thing about yourself?" or "what's your favorite thing about ME?"

Me, Myself and My Laptop's Camera

It's just been sitting around in cyberspace waiting for a slow day here.
So how about I press "Publish" right...about...now...

Well, the girls are having fun outside on the trampoline and pool (yes, I've given them permission to jump from the tramp to the pool. Cindy's out of town, so it's not like SHE'S going to have to make the emergency room run). I guess it's just me and the camera...and perhaps a few of the following handsome friends:

Here's my friend Fritz...Usually, an hourglass figure can be hot and sexy, but probably not when it refers specifically to the HEAD.

No party is complete without a big-brained know-it-all like Niles, as long as it's a party with Trivial Pursuit or a full-contact Math-Off.

Thimon ith getting over a nathy little sinuth infecthyun.

This is Vincent, with a look that is a cross between "WhatyoutalkinboutWillis" and Sam the Eagle from the Muppet Show.

Yes, Rico, the face lift WAS successful.

Now you just need a chin lift to bring it all back together.

Gerard (pronounced with the hard "G" for no real reason) has been doing some eyeball exercises to improve his vision. He may not be able to see BETTER, but things do look BIGGER at least.

Thanks for indulging my silliness. Don't worry, I'll be back tomorrow with a discussion on quantum physics to make up for the time you just wasted here today.

And if any of you ladies out there were hoping I'd give you the numbers for some of these hot guys, forget it. They're all happily married to these hot chicks...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Would You Like A Mushroom (Cloud) With Your Order?

I'm always in search of knowledge.

I love Google. It answers all of my important questions. And since I have a Blackberry, I need not wait even a second for the answer to life's most pressing mysteries.

For example, I had an intense NEEEED to know the history of Guantanamo Bay and why in the world the U.S. has a base in Cuba of all places. Google helped me figure it all out, and then I was able to finish my lovely dinner at the fancy restaurant.

[BTW, we lease the land for a few thousand dollars a year. Cuba doesn't wish to honor the lease anymore because it was agreed to long, long ago before Fidel Castro was even a twinkle-o in his father's eye-o. (Like my use of fake Spanish?) So Cuba hasn't been cashing our lease check in forever. Wikipedia tells me the checks are sitting in Raul Castro's lower left desk drawer. Has anybody told these people that those checks are usually void after 90 days?]

Well back to my quest for knowledge.

I drove through McDonald's on my way to the local Center for Plasma Donation and Advanced Vampire Activities. There was some kind of gas tanker parked behind the restaurant. In addition to whatever the giant main tanker-tank held, there were also several portable tanks. I assume those contained the C02 for the soda fountains.

The presence of the truck and tanks was nothing unusual. But the dense smoke/steam/fog pouring out from under it made me wonder whether or not I should hightail it out of there. Also, it was hissing menacingly. In movies, that noise usually precedes explosions and death.

So do I stay in line...and die? Or do I pass up on a double cheeseburger and live?

As I preprared to Google "steam pouring from gas tanker behind McDonald's will I die," I thought I'd give my intelligent readers a chance to clue me in.

After all, I assume some of you have worked in either the fast food or death tanker industries.

Were me or my fries ever in any danger?

I Am Not A Monster

Dear 2nd Grade Teacher,

In case you need help piecing together the facts, here are some additional insights beyond what you have witnessed first-hand.

Last Friday when I showed up to watch my daughter give her presentation, maybe she hadn't noticed I was there or something, because at Q&A time, she didn't call on me when I raised my hand. Then she burst into tears the moment you said, "Let's have one last question. It will be from your dad." I assure you it is not because she's afraid of me or anything like that. The moment was so awkward with all the weeping over the fear of dad asking questions, I worried that you might think that she's used to questions from me like "Where's my beer, you worthless..." or "why do you keep hanging my shirts on WIRE HANGERS?! No wire hangers ever!"

And then she was absent the following day and came back the day after that needing to go to the nurse for the blood squirting out her chin. She had simply slipped and bumped it on the kitchen table. Honest.

I actually have a very weak uppercut, so I can assure you I have NOT been beating or intimidating my daughter. I'm not that kind of guy in spite of all the evidence over the last few days.

And so help me, if you breathe a word of this to the authorities, I will hunt you down. I know where you live...

It's just a rough draft. I probably won't really send this letter. I just needed an outlet for my paranoia.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm Sure It's Delicious

While on the hunt for a good Snowman-related craft for lots of kids, I stumbled upon an interesting concept on a website.

Snowman Poop.
Essentially, it's just some marshmallows in a zip-loc bag with a catchy poem about having been naughty and only deserving snowman poop. ("I hear you've been naughty, so here's the scoop: All you're getting from me is snowman poop.")

Clearly, this is not a craft we'll be doing with our children AT CHURCH, what with that whole philosophy of separation of church and poop.

Also of note is the "Related Articles" list on the snowman poop webpage. Not surprisingly, there was
* Reindeer poop
* Elf poop
* Grinch poop
* Panino Mediterraneo -- Mediterranean Sandwich

That kind of makes you wonder what you were eating last summer on that cruise of the Greek isles, eh?

Maybe you're Greek and can clue us in to what a Panini and holiday poop have in common.
Or maybe you have some genius snowman craft idea.
I'll take either in my comments.

For other ideas, mostly unrelated to poop, check out these WorksForMeWednesday ideas... from a gazillion relatively nice people.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cast List Posted

The Role of Queen Elizabeth I

will be played by

Cheddar is excited to get this role.

Almost as excited as he was to get neutered today.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"The Anxiety. It's KILLING Me!"

I really, really love how my wife verbalized her feelings following this week's elections on her blog yesterday. Many of you have probably already read it and know how perfectly she's put thoughts into actual words.

She cracked me up, though, as she was watching different local and national races on the computer and on TV. With only a small percentage of returns in for some races, she'd bite her nails and shudder and talk about how nerve-wracking following all this was.

So when you read her very-well-written (perfect) post that I wish I had been the one to write because it's good enough to be published in a serious magazine or something, you can appreciate it even more fully if you knew that several hours earlier, all she would've been able to get out was:

"Oh, no....oh, yes. Wait, that's just 4% of the precints, so anything
could happen still. Wait, it's updated. Now what does THAT number
mean? Oh, my heart can't take this all night! What if he
loses? What if he wins? OH NO! OH YES! O.K. if he can
just hold this lead, that'd be great. But I wonder what precints these
are. And what if it ends up too close to call? Oh, I can't stand the
pressure. The stress! How do the candidates handle this on election
night? Maybe I should start drinking. This is hard. Oh my oh
my oh my oh my..."

And you don't even want to know how she is during the results shows for American Idol.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Radio Active

Sunday morning on the way to church, I was listening to a local radio station.

When one song ended, I heard some coughing and some whispering like there was a live microphone without the DJ realizing it.

Then she began to read a commercial announcement about an upcoming community event. When she messed up, she started over...several times. After FOUR MINUTES of working on this one ad, she said, "There's just no way that's going to fit into 30 seconds."

I caught on by then that someone had accidentally popped in the tape(?) of the rough original recordings for promotional announcements instead of the final edited ones. Accidents happen.

I could not change the channel, because I did not want to miss something being said like:
"What's that smell? Did someone just cut one?"
"Omigosh. Did you see Suzy's hair today? It is hideous!"
"[on cell phone] Yeah, here's my credit card number, and expiration date, and secret code number from the back."

Do you guys have any ideas of what else might be funny and/or awful to say in the recording room if you didn't know it would accidentally be broadcast? Or maybe you've been caught with your video camera or speaker phone on or wore a live microphone into the bathroom?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thanks... I Think

It is flattering (usually) when someone says that something reminded them of you.

For example:

"I saw a beautiful sunset...and it made me think of you."
"I met a really intelligent person at work today...and it made me think of you."
"Brad Pitt called today...he made me think of you."

And then there's Gayle and her comment on my last post:

"I posted a new poop story today and thought specifically of you. I aim to please."

Truly, I blush. I must return the compliment...

Gayle, next time I collect my dog's poop in a plastic grocery sack and twist it up and dangle it from my car door handle (which I have done at least 3 times at soccer games this year), I will definitely think of you too.

Good Morning, Alfred Hitchcock

Sitting in the living room this morning, Cheddar (the dog) heard a noise.
This is not altogether unusual. It's fall, and every time a leaf drops in the yard, he makes a beeline for the front door to welcome it to his world.

It's quite an endearing little routine...except for the fact that it's annoying. Even if we weaned him from his leaf obsession, there would still be the deer to be barked at.
And the squirrels.
And the cars.
And the moths.

And the air.

Today, though, the noise he heard was squeaky and very loud. It pretty much sounded like a parade of 250 cars who all had their brakes adjusted to sound just like mine.

When we got to the door, we saw a scene from a horror movie: We were glued to the front door for 10 minutes or so.
None of us wanted to miss it in case something really dramatic happened.

But unfortunately, we didn't see any babies carried off by the birds.

And the lady trapped in the phone booth didn't freak out as much as we'd hoped

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Shall Not Be Voting This Week...

...because I enjoyed some early voting last month. While some of you may choose to vote twice or more, I'm not down with that.

O.K. I must admit that many people who read this blog have grown accustomed to me writing about things that are either:

a) funny
b) stupid
c) weird
d) embarrassing
e) cheese-related
f) all of the above

Therefore, I feel I must warn those of you who wish not to read my personal opinion on a serious subject that you can just come back tomorrow when I return to the inane. Who knows, maybe I caught someone off-guard a couple weeks ago when I mentioned politics and abortion. It is definitely a hot-topic, and many people have made conscious decisions to avoid the issue altogether. If you don't like the subject or don't wish to read a post that might differ with your views, here's your last chance to click away.






O.K. for those of you who risked it and stayed, I want to confess that I think for this go around I've turned into a "single-issue voter." I was tempted to think that this might be small-minded of me. So you see, I'm open-minded enough to consider that I might actually be small-minded.

While I absolutely understand that many many people do not consider abortion to be wrong because they do not consider the unborn child to be alive yet, I do. And while I understand that many many people cite lots of benefits of abortion--some of them really noble--it doesn't make something I consider wrong to be right. We just have a fundamental disagreement on wrong and right.

(I really think someone of you don't like reading this kind of stuff. Seriously, come back tomorrow when I'm back to my normal self.)

I'm not violent. I'm not going to bomb a clinic or kill an abortionist. And I'm not going to call a woman who's had an abortion a murderer. According to the laws of our land, she's done something perfectly legal for now, and many people determine what is right or wrong by looking to our nation's laws to guide them.

Unfortunately, we keep learning of new and more horrifying ways to get the job done. Partial-birth abortions and live-birth abortions have sent shockwaves through the pro-life camps and caused them to feel even stronger about their stance, fearing that it looks like it's getting worse.

(Remember. You can click away if you don't like this drivel.)

As long as an unborn child is viewed as simply tissue that a mother can choose to get rid of, it probably doesn't matter to the doctor if it is removed by crushing the living tissue, sucking out the insides of the living tissue, or burning the living tissue with chemical solutions. If it's not a little baby human, it really doesn't matter at all. When you take my appendix out, I won't care how it's done. Granted, my appendix doesn't respond to my voice while it's still inside me, so there might be some differences between an appendix and a baby/fetal tissue.

I suppose 150 years ago, if all slave owners were kind and gentle plantation owners who treated their slaves like family with love and respect, slavery might have endured longer. And if abortions were performed "humanely," it might not draw as much attention from opponents. But as it is, we have legislators that continue to fight for people's rights to increasingly horrific methods of abortion. They're pretty much begging for me to vote against them.

(You're still reading? You can always hit backspace and go to your previously-viewed page.)

But let me be completely honest with you. If I had been raised generations ago on a plantation with slaves, there's a very good chance that you'd never convince me slavery was wrong. And if I had been raised in a different family today and had been exposed to many good people who benefitted abortions, I might be embracing abortion today as well.

So I will seek to understand even more those who disagree with me. They really are smart people who have given the subject a considerable amount of thought.

And I will use my opportunity to vote for what is important to me.

I WISH everyone in this nation agreed with me 100% and felt exactly the way I do about everything, but if that were the case, there would clearly be a shortage of Velveeta, and its price would surely skyrocket.

So there you have it. I'm a single-issue voter, it looks like.

Now if there ever were an anti-cheese party, I might be a two-issue voter.


Tomorrow: No political stuff whatsoever.
The next day: Probably not then either.