Monday, December 15, 2014

Lazy von Jingles -- Multitasker

So, it was a quiet weekend without a visit from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (and I don't mean Voldemort).  That was until I received this text:

But I got the last laugh. I just invited over the geriatric nudist society to try out my new living room trampoline.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lazy von Jingles: Master of Pranks

My maniacal elf is back, this time in 30's gangster form.

Unfortunately, I am not the bees knees like Larry.  Perhaps I can wow ol' von Jingles with a Cracker Jack performance.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lazy von Jingles gets personal

Another miserable text from my Elf on the Shelf, Lazy von Jingles...

Never-nude until New Year's!

The Horror that is Lazy von Jingles

Do you feel it?  That empty place in your soul where trivial, useless musings used to live.  It eats at you day after day, wondering about what's happened to Jack Grubb and his fabulous blog.  Sure, you tried to fill the void with cat videos and whatever links George Takei throws at you on Facebook, but nothing can replace Losing the Internets.  I know; I felt it too.

You can now stop sitting in the back of your closet drinking Mad Dog 20/20 listening to Depress Mode records in the dark.  I'm back, baby, so please stop flooding my inbox with requests...


Not one...

Screw you, guys!  I could have been lying dead in a ditch for all you care.  I could have been taken hostage by a rogue tribe of donkey-men demanding equal pay and their weight in hay.  Man, this is more depressing than the time when my imaginary friend ran away with my imaginary dog.  Even my Christmas elf ignores me.

That's right, I have a Christmas elf -- not that you care.  He came as a package deal with Daffodil Snowflake, the Princess's elf.  Her elf gives her special surprises, like a tub of cookie dough in the fridge or trips to the zoo.  Daffodil texts the Princess with clever jokes and inspirational quotes.  She loves her elf and draws it pictures depicting the two dancing and enjoying a nice yogurt parfait together.

My elf, Lazy von Jingles, hates me and I hate him.  While Daffodil flitters around the house spreading sunshine and gaiety, Lazy von Jingles just sits on the couch eating pork rinds and scratching himself with our good spatula.  Ask him to bring his plate to the sink or stop watching Pay-Per-View pornography, and he just spits in your eye.  And the mouth on the bastard!  Even Eminem was like, "Dude, you need to tone it down."

I didn't even want to get into the Elf Tradition. (Can you even call something started in 2005 a tradition?)  If you're not familiar with Elf on a Shelf, let me fill you in.  Evidently, Santa could give a crap about privacy rights as he sends his NSA-like elf spies to record your every move.  From Thanksgiving until Christmas, these little a-holes watch to see what "naughty" things your family does on a day-to-day basis.  Then on Christmas Eve, it goes back to Santa with a comprehensive report that makes the Affordable Care Act seem like light reading.  Forget Elf on a Shelf, it should be called NARC in the Dark.

My elf, however, will have none of that.  According to von Jingle, I'm already on the naughty list because "I know what I did."  I can't even protest it to the big guy himself or a "dead hooker may find its way into my trunk."  And forget about the nice gifts or experiences that some elves leave their charge.  Here's what the Princess got from Daffodil Snowflake:

Here's the kind of texts I get:


The worst part of Lazy is whenever I ask if he's really leaving on Christmas, he just winks and says "Maybe."  What the hell does that mean?!  And why does he keep slapping me on the butt?  Seriously!

Maybe now you'll feel bad for not caring if I posted another entry on the blog.  It's pretty hard to write while hiding from some maniacal elf who keeps "accidentally" cutting the power lines.  You know a nice note would have given me an emotional boost in this hard time.  But go ahead, enjoy your holiday.  Lazy von Jingles has a butter-sock full of Christmas cheer all ready for me. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Princess Conspiracy

I don't know if you noticed, but last winter a struggling studio named the Walt Disney Company put out a small independent film called Frozen.  It's about the life of a magical, talking snowman and how he shows two sisters, one who has winter-based powers and one who doesn't, the meaning of true love.  Oops...


It's about the life of a magical, talking snowman and how he shows two sisters, one who has winter-based powers and one who doesn't, the meaning of true love.


The movie seemed to make a buck or two and gained a lot of praise for how Disney bucked it's "helpless little princess" ways of past movies.  Newspapers and feminist blogs everywhere raved how Anna is saved by an act of sisterly love, and not by any man!  In fact the usual tropes of love at first sight or openly mocked by having the initial love interest becoming a right bastard.  Disney has finally found a progressive princess to be proud of -- unlike those meek and boy-crazy monarchs of the past.  Oops...


There are still newspapers.


On the surface this feminist proposition sounds justified.  From Snow White to Rapunzel, Disney "princess" heroines mostly concern themselves with men.  By reading the back of the box of these films, these girls can exude the appearance of ditzy, meek little things that need to be saved rather than role models that modern girls should emulate.  Even the Disney Princess line of toys perpetuates that stereotype, by covering all toys in pink, purple and other pastels and keeping themes to salons, kitchens and dress shops.  On the surface, these past princesses are only about the tiara.

But I object the premise of the argument.  In fact most Disney movies show young women that I would be happy for my own Princess to mimic.  Most of these heorines are everything I strive to teach my daughter about being kind, strong, true to beliefs and taking risks.  In what I will dub the Princess Conspiracy, I will show you how strong these women are princess by princess using Disney's own princess collection.

Lets start in order, shall we:

Snow White:  Sure, she's demonized for her looks by a vain step-mother, and banished to die, but she convinces her executioner not to do it.  Then she breaks into a house and pretty much takes over.  Sure she cooks and cleans, but it's the 1930's.  Name another 1930's film that features women in both the heroine and villain roles.

Cinderella:  Here's a girl who is stripped of her title and acts as a defacto slave to her step-family.  Does she wilt or whine in her situation?  No!  She performs her tasks dutifully and trains mice in her spare time.  When she wants something she goes after it, creating a dress from scraps to attend the only thing that could distract her from her miserable existence.  And when she is thwarted, who comes to her rescue -- another woman!  Then at the end when the palace lackey comes around with the glass slipper, she defies her oppressors and was like, "Yeah, that's my slipper bi-otch.  I'll see you losers later."  I'm pretty sure if the prince didn't come a-calling, she would have led the mice on an all-out revolution.

Aurora:  OK, this gal is pretty damsel in distressy, but in her defense, she had no idea what was going on.  Her parents hid her a forest with three old ladies for 16 years.  Then she sleeps for the other half of the movie.  It's hard to play a liberated sleeping woman.

Ariel:  This sixteen year old may fall in love a bit quick, but her determination and risk-taking shows that she will not bow to any man.  Her quest actually has to do more with the human world, and the man is just the cherry on top.  And when her dad throws a hissy fit, does she give up and cower to a man's whims? Hell no.  She trades a part of herself to get what she wants.  A less progressive women would have sought out  the nearest merman and popped out a litter of merpeople while being trapped in a loveless mermarriage.

Belle:  She's incredibly intelligent and reads during a time when women -- or most people -- were not literate.  When people allude to the idea of taking a man, she's like "screw you, a-hole," and rebukes Gaston's manliness.  She sacrifices herself to protect the elderly, and t naturally becomes the leader of a bunch of talking household items.  Then she forces the man to submit to her preferences before she will even consider loving him, and not the other way around.  It's also interesting to note that the villain is the stereotypical image of masculinity.

Jasmine:   Consider for a moment that in many countries of the modern-era Middle East women cannot drive or travel without permission from a man.  Then look at Jasmine who freely speaks her mind to the Sultan.  Thieves get their hands cut off for stealing a crust of bread, what do you think would happen to a woman who back-talked their father?  And she owned a tiger! 

Pocahontas:  I have actually never seen Pocahontas all the way through.  The talking tree threw me for a loop and I never finished the movie.  I hear she's a bad-ass that saves John Smith and then stays with her people instead of following him back to England. 

Mulan: She saves China from the freakin' Huns.  The.  Freakin'.  Huns. 

Tiana:  Hard working, independent thinker, and a thirst to be a small business owner.  That's a pretty large, non-stereotypical role for a black woman in the 1920's.  In fact it is the prejudice of the white, male bankers that deny her ambition.  But she displays tenacity and grace as she keeps pursuing her dream.  She doesn't even let getting turned into a frog get in her way.  She makes the prince work for her affection as she thinks he's a jerk for most of the movie.  And in the end when she could retire to the palace and live the life a leisure, she says "Not in this lifetime!  I'm opening my damn restaurant and you, Princy-boy, will be my waiter.  I am the wage earner in this family!" 

Rapunzel:  This is the most intriguing princess, as on the service she seems like the demure cliche of femininity.   She bubbly and optimistic and naive and wears pastel purple.  What a ditz.  Then when the man shows up, she smacks him into submission, forces him to escort her around and do her bidding, rescues him multiple times, and even saves HIS life in the end.  By the way she proposed to him.  It's clear that its her kingdom and he's merely the arm-candy. 

Merida:  In every way throughout this film, Merida defies her "womanly" expectations and outshines every single man to the point where they are merely background characters.  Not only does she not have a love interest, she humiliates all who even tried.  

You may think that Disney movies only show vulnerable, flighty women, and I will respect your decision to be wrong.  The princess product line may make this rather strong group of teenagers look like vapid airheads whose only thought is about their perfectly quaffed hair, but I believe that's a horrible disservice to the source material.  I, for one, will confidently show these movies to my daughter so she can view a wealth of positive female role models.   

Except for Pocahontas.  Talking trees freak me out.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Uncomfortably old

As a plucky, young sophomore in high school, my friends and I practically begged our theater director to let our school perform the stage production of Grease for our spring musical.   It all seemed like a good idea.  After all, a play about high schoolers in the late 1950's fits a high school play perfectly.  The characters are relatable, the songs are catchy, and we could wear leather jackets and jeans.  All in all, Grease kicks Oklahoma's ass.

Our crusty director never let us perform Grease, citing that it was too risque for a bunch of kids to perform.  He asserted that the language and theme would make parents and grandparents uncomfortable.  We retorted that any movie that starred Olivia Newton John cannot be that bad.  She sang songs about summer love and exercise.  Why would Olivia Netwon John put her name on anything inappropriate for high school kids?  With the way they talked about Grease, you would have thought that it's all about sex.

That's because Grease is all about sex.  I know this because I just sat through a rather uncomfortable high school rendition of the play.  It started making me squeemish when a bunch of teenagers started singing about screwing in the sand.  My stomach clenched a bit after Grease Lightning made chicks cream.  And my soul died a bit when I witnessed my nephew honking some girl's adolescent knockers.  Now I know why Mr. Baird made our class stick to playing ruthless, singing gangsters instead of horny teenagers.

For those who never seen the play or the much tamer movie, let me give you a little snippet of a song without all the alluring music:

We'll get some overhead lifters, and four barrel quads, oh yeah
Keep talkin', whoah keep talkin'
Fuel injection cut off, and chrome plated rods, oh yeah
I'll get the money, I'll see you get the money
With a four-speed on the floor, they'll be waitin' at the door
You know that ain't shit when we'll be gettin' lots of tit in greased lightnin'
Go, greased lightnin', you're burnin' up the quarter mile
Greased lightnin', go greased lightnin'
Go, greased lightnin', you're coastin' through the heat lap trials
Greased lightnin', go greased lightnin'
You are supreme, the chicks'll cream for greased lightnin'

We'll get some purple French tail lights and thirty-inch fins, oh yeah
A palomino dashboard and duel muffler twins, oh yeah
With new pistons, plugs, and shocks, I can get off my rocks
You know that I ain't braggin', she's a real pussy wagon - greased lightnin'
I seem to recall watching Grease at nine years old.  My sister watched it so much by the time she turned 13 that we had to buy a new VHS tape.  Perhaps I was distracted by the Hand Jive and all that leather, but the idea that every single scene revolved around sex never entered my fragile little mind.  The only thing that really bothered me was that Sandy felt like she had to change and start smoking in order to get her man.  And that the car flew at the end.  Perhaps these teens putting on the play are as clueless as I was at that age.

But there's a difference between watching and acting.  With acting you need to digest the lines and derive meaning.  When you're watching a play you might gloss over lines about how "horny" the characters say they are, but when you rehearse the lines over and over, you can't miss what's going on.  Even for the audience it's different.  There's a bigger separation from reality when watching 30-somethings pretending to be teenagers on screen and watching actual teenagers on stage, especially in close proximity of parents and grandparents.

And the worse part...the kids acted superbly.  They sang fluidly, acted believably, and looked like they were having fun every step of the way.  I don't know how a northern suburb of Indianapolis amasses such talent, but they really knocked it right out of the park.  The kid who played Sonny might even make it big!

Anyways, I'm probably being a big prude.  No one else seemed uncomfortable as the crowd erupted in a huge ovation at the end of the song about how Rizzo would rather be pregnant than a tease.  Perhaps I'll just have to accept that sex and teenagers go hand in hand, or that today's youth have absolutely no clue as to what's going on.

Besides I'm kinda looking forward to their next performance--I hear good things about The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Working for ghosts

I know, I know.  It's been a while since I had time to sit and write on Losing the Internets, frustrating my fan to no end.  I missed it too.  The writing; the lack of response; the endless criticism from my editor of my grammer and speling.  (Don't worry Queen, I misspelled those words on purpose for comedy's sake.  I know that grammer is really spelled with a o.)

The reason for my absence is that I've been busy with work.  In the last month, I created a database of over 5,000 grocery stores where I had to look each one up individually, and that takes an extraordinary amount of time banging away at a computer.  On top if that I had two conventions where I acted as a knowledgeable exhibitor and a 100-foot sandwich to promote.  By the time I have a chance to write, I'm so sick of the computer that I mostly just close my eyes and dream of bunnies.  Horrible, horrible bunnies.

Not that I'm complaining.  If there is one thing I really like, it's working.  And after I stepped down from being an unpaid Executive Director at a local non-profit, constant work has been spotty at best.  I have a few clients that I help with their social media outlets, but after the platforms are built, it's just a matter of keeping them updated.  That's enjoyable, but not always at the constant, unrelenting pace that I like.  I guess I could clean the house and teach the Princess some morals, but the house will just get dirty again and Princess keeps threatening to move out, get her navel pierced, and join an unregulated, underground circus specializing in monkey acrobats.

While I welcome this spike of activity, and anticipate it will continue to spike until August, I'm looking for a more constant state of employment.  I especially am targeting one organization in particular, even though I have a better shot at creating a cat out of spare hair found in couch cushions than landing an interview.  At least I probably won't get one by going through the traditional online portal.   

The problem: Five of my past jobs have been with companies that no longer exist.  Any HR director will tell you that having multiple positions in theoretical companies can hamper your employment opportunities because there isn't any way to corroborate that you actually worked there.  Having five on the resume isn't just a red flag, it's a red tapestry that covers the entire North wall -- the tallest of all the walls.

Here's what I'm talking about.  The names of the companies will be held private (but if you're curious, just look at my LinkedIn profile).
  • Job #1--Insurance advertising copywriter: Company merged with another local company and assumed their name.  The merged company was bought by a national conglomerate which renamed the entity again.  For the two phone numbers listed, one is disconnected and the other is for a Kosher deli.
  • Job #2 --Insurance advertising copywriter: Company decides to keep two sets of financial books, which as it turns out, is illegal.  Company folds and is broken up into different subsidiaries that all have different names.  Building I used to work at is now home to a college preparatory school.
  • Job #3--Middle School/high school teacher:  Private school closed down for various non-criminal reasons.  The website is still up if you want to enroll for the 2008-2009 school year.
  • Job #4--Middle School/high school teacher:  School shut down because of various non-academic scandals.  Their story becomes more sordid and unbelievable the more I read about it.
  • Job #5--Non-profit executive director: Don't start a non-profit during the worst recession since the Great Depression.  After grant money dried up, board didn't want to restart under new leadership.
I've been told that I'm the type of employee that sees his work as an extension of his life.  That no task is too large or too small to undertake.  I work hard and smart, and bring unbridled creativity and heart to the workplace.  Unfortunately, these organizations couldn't stick around, making me look like a confidence man trying to shake down old ladies for their Social Security checks.

Now, before this devolves into a pity party (one that serves pathetic punch and hopeless hors d'oeuvres), I understand this isn't the end of the world.  It isn't even the end of the city block.  I just now understand why it may be impossible to go the traditional wait and see route and find more unconventional in-roads to my dream job.  And if I never get there, so what.  I have a lovely wife, a great kid, a somewhat ok dog, and glitter all over my couch.

What more can a guy want.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hiding in the dark

I'm hiding on my bed in the dark trying to be as quiet as possible.

"Is there a psycho killer loose in your house?" You ask, hopefully quietly. 

No, it's a three-year-old child who has relocated herself from her room to the couch.  I foolishly said that if she actually pooped during the day, she could have sleep wherever she wanted to tonight.  Usually she poops in her Pull-Up during the night, which leads to all sorts of shenanigans.  Today, right before her bath, she pooped, and then declared that she was going to sleep on the couch.

All was good until she actually had to sleep on the couch.  It's rather uncomfortable compared to a bed.  She's been tossing, and turning, and telling me that I'm making too much noise, and that the light from my room is bugging her.  I tried to convince her to go back into her room, but to no avail.

And a deal is a deal.

So I sit in the dark on a bed full of clean unfolded clothes wondering what makes parenthood so wonderful.  Then I remember how she spent two hours singing "Let it Go" and dancing crazy-like across the living room.  I guess it's worth it.

Crap, the furnace just clicked on.....

Keeping fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The passion economy

Between eating my morning bowl of cereal and pouring my first cup of coffee, I flipped on the TV to Morning Joe.  The featured guest sitting at the table happened to be some economist from some magazine who had the solution to this nation's economic woes.  It turns out that there are millions of unfilled "blue collar" jobs, like manufacturing or plumbing, that could be filled if we could steer young people to them. Unfortunately, we keep directing people to college, telling them that's the only way to get ahead in the world.

These points made sense, except that just yesterday Joe and Mika interviewed some economist from some magazine that had a different solution to this nation's economic woes.  It turns out that there are millions of unfilled "white collar" jobs, like accounting and engineering, that could be filled if we could steer young people to them.  Unfortunately, we keep saddling people with low expectations, not realizing that those with college degrees make $1 million more in a lifetime than those without college degrees.

These points also made sense, and I became confused.  How can both going to college and not going to college be the right call?  What should our teenagers do so that they can fill the jobs that employers need filled?  Where should I position my daughter so she can be most successful?  We need to direct the young somewhere, but which which path are they destined to follow?

Of course the biggest problem with both economists' solutions is that they left out the most important variable in the equation.  With over 40 minutes of air time combined, and not one person mentioned asking these high schoolers where they wanted to go.  By following the conversations, it almost seemed that as long as we could agree with an economic ideology, we could just place our young into the career paths that fits society's needs.  After all, they're just cogs in our machines. 

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" used to be such a basic question of childhood.  I remember being asked this since I was six or seven, giving different answers during different developmental years.  For a while I wanted to be a baseball player even though I couldn't catch a ball.  Then I grew into computer programming, then writing, then film and television.  Eventually I settled in communications, which is rather abstract field that embodies everything that I was truly interested in (except baseball).  And while it hasn't been the easiest path to prosperity, I'm now doing a job that I'm excel at and that I love.

However, I grew up in the empowerment age of the 80's and 90's when hippies were having kids.  Nowadays we're in an economic slump, and time's are tough.  It's a cold, cruel world where student loans and minimum wage both rage out of control.  We have a skills gap and an education crisis to deal with, plus an income disparity that you can drive a Mack Truck through.  We need to tell kids what to do, not listen to what they want.

Except have you ever seen a successful person who hates what they do?  Do you think Mark Zuckerberg gets up every morning and says "F*&#@$g social media!"?  Does Stephen Hawking complain to everyone he meets about the awesome power of the universe?  No, they like what they do, and then do it to the best of their ability.  Then they get up the next morning and do it again.

That goes for us "normals," too.  About two weeks after we first bought our refrigerator, it decided to stop working.  After a quick two-hour call to Sears, they sent out a repair guy to see what was wrong.  This guy that arrived spent about ten minutes diagnosing the problem, two minutes mending the appliance, and twenty minutes showing me how to fix it myself if the problem ever happened again.  It turns out that he's been a repair guy for 23 years, and he loves it.  In fact, he turned down a job managing the service shop because he'd "rather fix stuff and not fix people."

We all have friends like that who get jazzed about HVAC systems, or architecture, or marketing, or whatever.  I know my insurance agent is entirely too wound up about annuities, but that's what makes him a great insurance agent.  Perhaps we help our rising workforce focus on this mindset instead of trying to fit people into an economic mold.  I know employers needs are important, but I believe that they'll still be met while we cultivate some natural passions.

So call it a knowledge economy or a skills economy, I don't really care.  I much rather live in the passion economy.  I know about 80 million people under 21 probably would, too.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 30 -- Tuck me in

For anyone who has children--or was once a child who was not raised by leopards--you know that story time is an integral part of the bed time ritual.  In our family, we allow the Princess three story books, with a fourth story if she gets ready for bed quickly.  She can pick whatever books she chooses from her collection in her room provided that they are short and not horribly banal.  We then sit on her floor with her in Mommy's lap and Daddy reading her each book, precisely in the order she dictates.

For the last few weeks one book has been a staple of hers, and therefore been read over and over again.  Tuck Me In by Dean Hacohen offers a simple tale of animals lying on a pillow ready to be tucked in.  The Princess can do that by flipping over a half sheet of paper that serves as a blanket, and then repeat the process with another adorable animal.  The dialogue is incredibly simple, so perfect for younglings who are starting to read words.  Every animal tuck in has the same dialogue:
Narrator: Who needs to be tucked in?
Baby Whatever: I Do
Narrator: Good night, Baby Whatever.  Who else needs to be tucked in?
If you don't believe me, see the pictures below.  (We'll talk about your trust issues later.)

Although, the story must have been a little tame for the Princess.  I say this as she she has started to add angst-ridden dialogue for the various animal sleepers.  The story now has grown into problems revolving around sleep toys and a rather hungry alligator (who gets "tucked in" on page 7).  And while the story changes on a nightly basis, tonight it went a little something like this:
Narrator:  Who needs to be tucked in?
Baby Pig:  I do!
Narrator:  Good night, Baby Pig.  Do you have you sleep toy?
Baby Pig:  No.
Narrator:  What happened to it?
Baby Pig:  Alligator ate it.
Narrator:  Oh, no.  What did you say to him?
Baby Pig:  I said, "Don't eat my sleep toy!"
Narrator:  And what did Alligator say?
Baby Pig:  Yum.
Narrator:  That's ok, we'll make you another one in the morning.  This time it won't be made out of food.  It will be made from plastic.  Who else needs to be tucked in?
Unfortunately, we do not know why Alligator eats the toys.  It's probably that all the animal's toys are made from a meat-based product.  Or he could just be a jerk.  Whatever the reason, he's been on a tear lately and shows no remorse. 

I do know that a book that used to take 3 minutes to read now takes about 15.  And even though we read it so much that the binding has come loose, the story seems fresh and surprising every single night.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day 29 -- What a guy needs

Lately I noticed the word "need" floating around the castle lately.  It's a weird word to notice, since it's usually pretty mundane.  However, with the right context, it conveys an urgency that no other word can substitute itself properly.  For example,. "I'm going to the emergency room," makes you seem like a wuss that can't stand a little blood.  "I need to go to the emergency room," lets everyone know that your liver just fell out one of your orifices.    

In my case, the word mostly comes from the three-year-old child who never wants anything, but needs everything.  For a snack, she needs cheddar bunnies.  She needs to watch the same Phineas and Ferb episode over and over and over and over.  Tonight she needed me to hang myself backwards off the bed so she could slide down me like she was on the playground.  

Every single need ends up life or death with her.  Suggest that she not slide down onto my neck just because she needs to "practice her sliding," and it's a ten decibel scream.  With her reaction, you would think that I just told her that Santa Claus actually hates her or Mickey Mouse had only 10 weeks to live.  Abraham Maslow developeda hierarchy of needs, and unless my psychology professor lied to me, "pouncing on the dog" wasn't on the list.  According to the Princess, though, it is right between breathing and shelter.

I've been told that the child will eventually outgrow these irrational needs.  However, now I'm attune to the word "need" and I see irrational needs all around me.  I did an informal, unscientific assessment of what people need me to do last week, and I have to say, the hope of developing a more sophisticated set of needs doesn't look promising.

Here's just a few things people needed me to do:
  • I need to read this book:  Unless it's a book about getting thinner, younger and richer without getting my fat ass off the couch, I'm pretty sure I don't need to read it.  The only reason you want me to read the book is so I can agree with you on how good/bad it really is.  Basically, you need me to read the book to validate your opinion.
  • I need to buy this product:  I usually only watch commercial TV during sporting events, mainly because I can get most of what I want (bad 80's sitcoms) on Netflix.  With the Superbowl and Winter Olympics on this month, there's a lot of things I now know that I need to buy.  Or do the companies need me to buy their crap so they still have profits?
  • I need to see what x political party is doing to America:  I'm happy humming Funky Town to myself in a perfectly spherical bubble of ignorance.  America is not the most divided it's ever been -- that's the Civil War.  One person cannot burn down the ENTIRE country.  And as far as I know, most people are too busy working to worry about who's screwing who.  It's really the politicians who need me to pay attention so they can get my vote.
  • I need to get on board:  OK, Mom.  I don't even know what method of conveyance I'm supposed to get on.  A luxury liner?  I'm down with that.  A garbage barge?  I think I'll pass.  Why don't you give me a little more information of what you actually want from me?  When I hear this, usually it means that someone me to shut up and let them do whatever they want.
  • I need to take out the garbage:  Yeah, this one's true.  It stinks and I think that it tried to eat the dog earlier today.  I already had the garbage standoff with the Queen early in our marriage, and she's content to stack cans and boxes on the counter until it reaches the sky.  So if I want a clean house, I have to take it out.
I guess we all live with unreasonable needs.  I know every once and a while I need a drink or a new set of titanium golf clubs (*hint, hint*).  Some of us need a day out or a romantic night in.  Almost every day someone tells me that they need a vacation.  Even the Joker in Tim Burton's Batman exclaimed that "This town needs an enema."

And right now, I need to end this post so I can get some sleep.  So I will.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Day 28 -- The art of saying the wrong thing

I once heard that 96% of all human verbal communication comes from non-conversations.  At least I think I heard that. Maybe I just contrived that percentage.  Could well be, since 86% of all stats are made up.

Whatever the percentage, most of our talking comes with predefined scripts that happen automatically.  For example: when I'm at the store and check out, the cashier should tell me to "Have a nice day."  In which I reply, "You, too."  I don't even have to think of a response; it just happens.  My brain actually hears Charlie Brown's teacher, and issues the generic statement when there's silence.  I know this routine because it happens every single time I go shopping.

Except when some rebellious ne'er-do-well mucks up the whole shopping experience.  I just paid $68.35 for some printer ink and wiper fluid, received my receipt, and ready myself for a hearty "You, too."  But instead of hearing "Have a nice day," I hear, "Thanks for shopping with us."  That's not part of the plan!

My brain already heard the silence and blurted out the "You, too."  But that makes no sense.  She didn't go shopping.  I went shopping.  And even if she did happen to go shopping, it was with me.  "You, too" sounds like she just bought a watch out of my trench coat.  Or, perhaps I'm some crazy man who thinks he's actually the cashier.  What am I doing with her groceries?  And where is her change?

I can't take it back, because she already started ringing up the twenty-seven Power Bars that the dude in back of me needs.  What am I going to say, anyways, that would warrant such an interruption.
"Uh...excuse me miss.  When I said 'You, too,' I thought you said 'Have a nice day.'  In fact you said, 'Thanks for shopping with us.'  These two sentences sound nothing alike, but since I'm such a poor listener, I blurted out something completely nonsensical at the time.  I guess I should have said 'You're welcome' or 'No problem' or something like that, but I didn't.  I just want to clarify my position on the whole conversation thing that just happened.  So...have a nice day?"
That would probably get me escorted out by security.  Or beaten up by the bag boy who thinks he's her boyfriend, even though they've only spoken once outside of work.  Or scowled at by a line of angry shoppers who also can't figure out how to use the U-Check.

Instead, I'll just slink away with my head slumped low and my pride bruised.  I'll try to convince myself that nobody noticed, but I know an awkward silence when I hear it.  We both know what happened, and there's no rectifying it.  That conversation will just have to eat away at me for 37 years until I have an aneurysm in my sleep.

Plausible, since  I hear that 74% of all non-conversational screw-ups lead to death.  At least I think I heard that.

Day 27 -- Remakes that don't suck

If you haven't been aware, Robocop came out this month and disappointed a whole bunch of people.  There the kids who wanted something grittier than a watered down version of Iron Man. There's the folks who can't stand a special effects extravaganza just to pimp a new franchise.  And there's the 80's Robocop purists that believed that nobody should every dare to make a remake of such a perfect gem of a movie.

And, all of them yelling, "Is Hollywood all out of original ideas?  Stop with the remakes!"

But are all remakes bad?  My first answer is "Yes! God, please, stop with the crappy-crap!"  But when you think about it, some remakes are actually enjoyable.  And I'm not talking about making a foreign film into an American film.  We Americans hate subtitles and actors whose names we can't pronounce.  I'm talking about remaking a good Hollywood movie into another good Hollywood movie.

Remakes happen in every genre, and here's some that work:

Gone in 60 Seconds:  I would have gone the Italian Job, but since the original was English, that's still a foreign flick.  Gone isn't the best action flick, but any action film that makes you forget about Nicolas Cage's acting has to be a great remake.  And it made a crap load of money.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Science Fiction has to be the easiest to remake because a.) technology can up the special effect ante and b.) you can really screw with the source material.  I saw this movie as a kid, and Donald Sutherland still freaks the hell out of me.

Ocean's 11:  George Clooney out Rat Packed Sinatra and company.  It's one movie that I watch to the end when I see it on TV.  Unfortunately, it spawned two inferior sequels. 

Romantic Comedy
You've Got Mail:  Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan bicker as a mega-book conglomerate and an independent book store.  I love the way the mega-book store wins without an apology, the unabashed commercial for AOL, and the way people still went to book stores. If it was made today, you would have someone working for bickering with someone from Radio Shack.  Oh, and our wedding song came from that movie.

True Grit:  Love both movies for different reasons.  The original because it's a John Wayne flick, and all John Wayne flicks are awesome.  The remake because Jeff Bridges is excellent.  I don't like any of the main characters, but I'm so interested in what they're doing.  If you do something right for the wrong reasons, does it make it all right?

Romantic Drama
An Affair to Remember:  I actually didn't like Affair, or the original Love Story, or the second remake Love Story.  But Affair to Remember inspired Sleepless in Seattle, which has Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.  Is there anything those two can't do (beside Joe Vs. the Volcano).

Little Shop of Horrors:  A weird musical to remake which works wonders and put Rick Moranis on the map.  Annie comes out soon with Jamie Foxx as Daddy Warbucks (renamed Benjamin Stacks).  Hoping more of a Little Shop and less of a Hairspray remake.

There's more, but do your own research.  A remake is no different than any other movie.  It still needs a great script, good actors and a competent director to succeed.  And it doesn't hurt to throw Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in there, too.  They're old, but I still want to believe!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Day 26 -- Why you should celebrate Valentine's Day

I guess yesterday was supposed to be Valentine's Day, better known as the day where we tell our special someone how much we love them by giving them something pink and fattening.  The day originated when St. Valentine came down and from the clouds and showed the celibate Romans how to party down with some sappy greeting cards, over-priced chocolates and a Barry White CD.  Legend has it that if Valentine's Day happens on a full moon, those crappy chalk-tasting candy hearts will actually cure leprosy.

The Queen and I have a love-ambivalence relationship with the ol' V-Day.  While we like the idea of having a spot where we feel compelled to actually say "I love you," we are too cheap to actually do anything on February 14th.  Instead we generally wait a week or so after Valentine's Day to celebrate our love because chocolates are 75% off, flowers return to regular price, and we can actually get a reservation at a fancy restaurant.  Besides, I'm much more of a Sweetest Day guy.  (That's the one in October of September or somewhere around there, right?)

However, this year we decided to up the ante because we have the child.  For some reason we thought that if we didn't celebrate Valentine's Day "right," she would grow up to be a heartless, mean old lady who despises love in any form.  Without her heart-shaped box of chocolates, she would slip into an endless malaise that triggers a series of events in her adult life:
  • First, she would become a shut in who surrounds herself with oodles and oodles of cats. 
  • But after her nosy neighbor complains of the constant meowing, the health department takes all the cats away leaving her with nothing but festering rage and an electrical mechanical degree from DeVry University.  
  • She then creates the Deloveinator, which will empty the love two people have for each other FOREVER.
  • She'll zap celebrity couple Miley Cirus and Liam Hemsworth....Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones....Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman...(Wait, those two are back together.  It's nice to see.)  Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman it is.
  • The public will witness the tragedy.  And, without the love of Danny and Rhea, the world will fall into deep despair.
  • Valentine's Day will be over.  Hallmark will fold.  Walmart and Target will conspire together to develop a new holiday so it can sell Hating Day hatchets, Hating Day Voodoo dolls, and Hating Day chocolates laced with cyanide.
  • The President of the United States will want to help the sagging economy by partaking in the new tradition and will end up up in jail after poisoning the Queen of England.
I'm not sure if I could live with being the catalyst for regicide, so we bought the Princess a video game (Kinect Animals), a mini heart-shaped box of chocolates, and a card.  She now LOVES Valentine's Day and the world is safe for another year.

As for the Queen and I, we ended up eating chips and salsa in bed watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and were asleep by 11.  Who said romance is dead?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Day 25 -- California makes me sleepy

I live in Ohio, which happens to lie in the Eastern time zone.  I have to work with someone who happens to live in California.  You would think, "No problem.  The internets make all things possible."  That's what I thought.  I was wrong.

Perhaps it's the nature of my work.  Sometimes when you do web work, you get in a habit of doing it on the off hours.  Most days I update websites before nine or after seven, so not to interfere with regular business hours.  I never thought that those in California would also try to avoid high traffic times.  But in their case, they have a three hour lag.

Doing business with someone in Pacific time takes grit, determination and a slide rule.  You can't talk to them in the morning, because 9:00 AM Eastern time equates to 6:00 AM Pacific time, and people don't like coming into the office in the butt crack of dawn.  You might as well sleep in and play video games until lunch.  They ain't coming in until noon. And they're crabby until 2:00 or 3:00 PM.

But they have no problem calling you to work on something at 7:00 PM, right when you're sitting down for a fine dinner of chili and six dollar wine.  Hey, it's only 4:00 PM in the land of sun and mudslides, what are you trying to do?  Spend quality time with your kids?  Get to work, you schmuck!  That's because time code etiquette only work in reverse.  We can do subtraction in time, but addition would blow our minds.

So when you're a web guy and you have to wait for another web guy on the west coast, you're talking about working on stuff between midnight and 2:30 in the morning.  You don't think about that, though, when you start your day.  Time zone math sneaks up on you like a ninja, only pouncing right when you start to pack it in for the night.  "Well, I'm done...CRAP!"

The next day you still have to get up at your usual time, because you don't live in California.  With three or four hours of sleep, the child wakes you up to go to school or something lame like that.  You hoist yourself up, and shuffle to the coffee pot like it's your only hope for salvation.  Unfortunately you forget the cup and the coffee runs over the edge of the counter and fills your slippers with scalding hot liquid.  Better be home from the hospital by dinner, because California doesn't care.

Moral of the story:  time zones ruin feet.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 24 -- An unexpected journey

John Lennon once said that Life is what happens when you're making other plans.  At least it might have been John Lennon.  Perhaps it was Jack Lemmon who said it.  It's late and I don't want to look it up.  Anyways, no matter who said it, they're wrong.

Life doesn't sneak up on you and quietly overtake you.  Instead it winds up like a major league slugger and belts you with an aluminum baseball bat.  Whenever you think you're in a groove, that's when life takes over and slams into you, ricocheting you 180° away from your intended target.  Finding out you're pregnant.  Losing a job.  Getting hitched to an internet bride.  All things that can happen in an instant without any warning.

I think that these events come as a statement from God that we should never be too complacent.  For better or worse, change is inevitable.  It's what makes us grow and prosper as human beings, and what drives most major historical events.  If England didn't suddenly issue crippling taxes and tariffs, would we be in such a hurry to achieve independence?  If Rosa Parks went with the flow, would the civil rights movement have caught fire?  If a bulldozer didn't try to level Arthur Dent's house, would he have ever made it to the End of the Universe?

The television will tell you that you should spend every waking minute preparing for these changes by buying gold or some insurance policy.  Or at least counter-act the changes by suing someone -- anyone.  But that doesn't resolve the issue, it merely gambles on what life changing event will come your way.  Placing a large wager on Cancer only prepares you for one out of infinite possibilities.  Your changing moment could come as Loses Ear in Benihana Accident.  What are you gonna do now?

It's the transitions that really test your mettle, no matter if the change is good or evil.  Stomping around and kicking the cat seems to be a popular option for certain personalities.  Blaming others instead of yourself.  Turning to religion though you've never been to church.  Drinking until you pass out.  Becoming an annoying beacon of energy that lifts up everything you touch.  Baking delicious baked goods.  Or my favorite, giving stuff away to all your friends and neighbors named Jack Grubb.

I personally tend to retreat to nostalgia.  Something goes amiss in my life, and I'm stocking up on my favorite books, like Winnie the Pooh, Catcher in the Rye, and the Harry Potter series.  I tend to hunt down the essential movies like The Natural, Ghostbusters, and The Goonies.  The months before my daughter was born, I had to watch every episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show and Charles in Charge.  Sometimes when I even feel a major change coming on, I still hum a few bars of:
Charles in Charge of our days and our nights,
Charles in Charge of our wrongs and our rights,
And I sing, I want, I want Charles in charge of me...
I'm sure now that I've found the groove as a work at home dad and blogger extraordinaire that something is about to go down.  I've been wearing my official Chicago Bears helmet ready for the blow and have the complete series of The Golden Girls queued up on Netflix.  Hopefully it has nothing to do with clowns.  They freak the hell out of me.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Day 23 -- When it doesn't pay to get out of bed

Last night the Princess exhibited the greatest display of temper tantrum that has ever graced our halls.  She cried.  She wailed.  She hit.  She kicked.  She jumped.  She thrashed.  She rammed into doors.  She disowned me in about 25 ways.  All because she couldn't find the "right" Yoga  Pretzel card.

The fit lasted about 45 minutes, and if she hadn't tired herself out, probably could have gone on another hour.  She was determined to do The Snake yoga pose, but could only find The Cobra pose in her stack of yoga cards.  Trying to explain the a cobra is a snake and therefore they are the same move just made her madder, and before long she was in full Hulk mode.  And, somehow, the whole affair became my fault.

When the Queen and I got drunk enough and thought that it was a good idea to have kids, we were told that the "I hate you" stage wouldn't start until she turned 12 or 13.  "When they're young, they have short fits about things and just cry," they said.  "It's those teenage years you have to worry about."  Well, my kid must be jerkily gifted because she lets me know that I'm not her family about 5 times a day.

Today started started with my loving child climbing into bed and slapping me in the face and telling me to get out of the house.  Then, she tried to dictate what pair of daytime underwear I should go and fetch her while she waited to pass judgement.  Unfortunately for her, these strong-arm tactics haven't worked yet.  The next hour and a half found her screaming at the top of her lungs that I needed to go and find "the right" pair of underwear, bring them to her like a faithful dog, while she waited and watched iPad.

I drank coffee and watched Morning Joe.

Right now, I'm not allowed to work on my computer, sit on the couch, eat with utensils, or talk on the phone.  As someone with a deadline looming and about half of dozen pictures to edit and a Flash movie to compose, my computer is sort of necessary.  As it stands now, my day looks like alternating between punishing meanness and then hugging and talking about better choices.  When you work at home, your schedule usually is dictated by the moods and leaps of your much younger co-workers.

The good news, the Princess has not outlawed dreaming of being alone on a deserted island.  Boy, look at that monkey dance!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day 22 -- Kittens and Wine

Last night I went to a fundraiser, because that's what we high society folks do.  During the night, the participants forced me to drink a few glasses of wine.  I didn't want to do it, but it was for the kids, and so I took one for the team.

Unfortunately, when the Queen and I arrived home last night, I was much too tired to write a post.  This morning I'm also much too tired to write a post.  However, I'm not too tired to look at random pictures of kittens. And here they are:

You changed my wireless plan?  I will kill you!

We're adorable!  Give us all your money.  PayPal accepted.

Dear Stay-Puft, about your "cat in every bag" promotion...are they edible?

They would go great with my tabby hot chocolate.

Dear owner, sleep with one eye open tonight.

I hate you dog.

What?  There was a fly on your nose.  And I'm a jerk.

You know, Duck, after this photo shoot, I am going to eat you.

Star Wars, Episode VII.  I think J.J. Abrams is mailing it in.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Day 21 -- Knuffle Bunny: A Wonderful Book

If you haven't caught the picture book series Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems, you should.  Especially if you ever had a special stuffed animal, blanket or crack pipe that was your childhood crutch.  In this picture book trilogy, we see a follow a little girl named Trixie and her stuffed bunny through various stages of life, and get to relive some of our own fond memories in the process.

For those who haven't read the series, here is the quick rundown:

  • Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale: Baby Trixie loses her Knuffle Bunny in one of the washers at the laundromat.  Daddy has to figure out that it's lost by deciphering a babbling tantrum.  He finally does (because Mommy tells him) and they frantically tear the place apart to find it, and Trixie says her first words.  They are not "Thank you."
  • Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity: Pre-K Trixie brings Knuffle Bunny to school, and promptly gets in a fight with Sonja who also brought her own Knuffle Bunny.  The teacher takes both of them away -- like you do -- and then gives them back at the end of the day.  But they were switched by mistake!  It wasn't until 2:00 AM when Trixie notices the problem and makes Daddy get out of bed, call Sonja's parents (who actually call them), and rush through New York City to Central Park to swap bunnies with Sonja.  The feel good moment happens when nobody gets mugged.
  • Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion: Little girl Trixie goes to Holland with her parents to see her Oma and Opa.  She mistakenly leaves Knuffle Bunny on the plane and realizes it after the plane is en route to for China.  The trip does not go well until Trixie dreams of a mystical stuffed rabbit that makes all the boys and girls in the world happy.  Then when she leaves to fly back to the America, she finds Knuffle Bunny in the seat pocket!  She ends up giving it to a crying baby sitting behind her because she realizes she's old enough, and a 12 hour flight with a crying baby would ultimately suck.
These three books are a godsend for more then a few reasons.  First, these seem to be books that we can read throughout her childhood.  The pictures are fantastic and combine photography with hand-drawn illustrations.  The story is funny without being ridiculous, and the complexity of the story grows as Trixie ages.  The Princess has every line memorized, so now we "read" the stories together, as I'm the narrator and Daddy and she plays Trixie.

But more than that, these books bring back fond memories of my own childhood that I don't get to relive that much.   I had a stuffed dog, aptly named Doggy, that I carried around with me until I reached first grade.  Anytime that I was frightened or sad or whatever, I would put him in a Hulk hug that would kill a mortal dog. And since I had an older sister who liked to "help" me do everything, I was frightened pretty much all the time.  Poor Doggy had his neck sewn up so much he couldn't turn his head.

Most children's books get harder to stomach the more times you read them.  I have even devised a subtle speed-up mode so that we're busting through pages in five minutes or less.  Some books are less painful and tend to have at least some lasting power.  But few can actually be as moving for you as they are for your kids, all on a different level.

I would say that the Knuffle Bunny series is the Toy Story 3 of picture books.  Anyone who seen Toy Story 3 knows exactly what I'm talking about.  Enough said.

Day 20 -- Sochi, so what

Hey, did you know that the Winter Olympics started today?  Neither did I, until I heard the familiar Olympic theme song after Jeopardy ended.  I look up, and there was good ol' Bob Costas sitting at a familiar anchor desk about to announce the preliminary events we would witness tonight.  Unfortunately, he looks like he just came down with a case of Popeye eye.

Well, blow me down! Arrg guh-guh-guh-guh!
According to Mr. Costas, he woke up with his eye swollen shut and "as red as the former Soviet flag."  Hopefully the thing is minor and he can get back to wearing his contacts, or even some more stylish glasses.  My theory is that he got some of the Sochi water in his eye.  Evidentially, that's a problem, as described by Chicago Tribune reporter Stacy St. Claire:

It seems that Russian host city, Sochi, couldn't quite fix itself up in time for the Olympic games.  This despite seven-years and a $50 billion price tag.   Water seems to have a interesting hue:

Stacy St. Clair's water after it was "fixed"

Toilets have been interestingly constructed:

Standing ovation!

The provided bin

Sochi is for lovers

With interesting signage:

No fishing!  Oh, come on!
Streets aren't paved.  Stray dogs abound (currently being rounded up and slaughtered because they are "biological trash").  And entire hotel rooms haven't been finished.  But don't worry, the games officially start tomorrow and everything should be fine then.  Just ask them. (You should be able to make contact by just powering on your phone.)  According to ABC News, every type of communication is being tapped for "security reasons."

If this isn't the most exciting games on the ice, it definitely will be the most exciting plumbing experience.  Need more Sochi Problems?  Follow @sochiproblems on Twitter.  At least it will be good for a laugh.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Day 19 -- Weather One-Up

It snowed today.  Again.  And the schools were closed.  Again.  And the entire family was stuck in the house.  Again.  And I got weather one-upped.  Again.

Weather one-upping happens when you live in one part of the country and experience crappy weather.  When you complain about said crappy weather, someone from another part of the country tells you how much worse their weather is.   For instance, last week I posted a note on Facebook to let God know that we in Ohio would like it to stop snowing, and sure enough, several people in Chicago had to tell me about how much more it snowed there.  Bam!  One-upped and nothing you can do about it.

It's not like you can bitch about being one-upped, because while I may feel unhappy with five inches of snow and 3° temperature, they're sitting around with 17 inches of snow and -17° temperature.  That's like complaining that you lost your wallet to someone who was on the losing end of a Ponzi scheme.  You just take it, put it in the mental bank, and save up the rage.  You will have a worse weather day, someday, and then you can collect.

Because, we all weather one-up at some point or another.  Perhaps your annoying uncle keeps posting beautiful sunsets from  Florida and complains about the frost warning they have tonight.  You're instinctively going to let him know that while it's too bad that he has to turn on the heat, you have to scrape ice off the inside of your windows.  What a jerk he is anyways, prattling on like that.  Doesn't he know how good he has it?

Sometimes we even weather one-up our friends and family who live in close proximity.  Does this statement seem familiar: "I can't believe that little Suzie doesn't have school today.  When I was a kid in Buffalo, we consistently had over sixteen feet of snow and we never cancelled school."  I'm just using Suzie and Buffalo and sixteen inches of snow as examples, mind you.  I don't actually think you said those exact words.  But I'm sure it was something similar that was equally as one-uppity.

Just remember as you weather one-up someone, there's another person living in a crappier climate waiting to one-up you.  Farmers in Indiana will one-up Mississippians.  Cheeseheads in Green Bay one-ups Hoosiers.  Sheriffs in Fargo, North Dakota make fun of Facebook statuses from Green Bay.  Mounties in Manitoba text pictures of thermometers to Fargo.  Loggers in Juneau call Manitoba a bunch of wusses.  And penguins in Antarctica make harassing phone calls to Juneau.  Even Santa takes a little jab at Antarctica every once and a while.

So before you hit send on that comment that weather one-ups a snowed-in blog writer from Ohio, just know that Santa can one-up the hell out of you.  We all need warm thoughts this winter and not a who's-colder-than-who frozen pissing contest.  Remember that we're all in this together.

However, if some jerk tries to reverse weather one-up you and tells you how warm they are in Miami while you're busy shoveling a tunnel to your mailbox, then by all means give both barrels.  Those d-bags deserve everything you can dish out!

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Day 18 -- The ghost with poor bladder control

If anyone is expecting to come over to our house after tomorrow to possibly bring over some pie or something, save yourself a trip.  I have decided to move out of the house and either put it up for auction and sell it to the highest bidder, or burn it down to the studs.*  I don't really know where our family will live (hint, hint), but we have a large SUV that possibly could work for a week or two.

The reason for the sudden eviction comes from a horrible invasion of an incontinent ghost.  It seems that although this house was built in 2008 and there's no evidence of an Indian burial ground, a specter has still decided to appear and make it's home in our home.  At first I couldn't believe it and accused Old Man Smithers who owned the abandoned amusement park.  But after so many strange occurrences over the past few weeks, I'm convinced it's a ghost with poor bladder control.

As I write this our guest room toilet is in the middle of a flush, with no living person using it.  That's right, for no earthly reason, our toilet just flushes.  I began to notice the phantom flushing when I was sitting in the family room and out of the blue came a big whooshing sound.  I looked around and counted the family members in the room and came up with three.  I was fairly certain some homeless guy didn't break into my guest bathroom just to use the john, but I let it go since I never heard it before.

Then two days later it happened again.  Then it became more frequent.  Now it seems that about every other hour, the thing drains itself.  I tried to be rational about it and look for a pattern: perhaps it goes off when someone else uses the toilet, or when the heat pump runs.  But just when I think I have it nailed down, the pattern changes or it flushes when nothing else it happening. 

The internets tell me that it's either some air is in the wet vent (whatever that means), or that the flapper needs to be changed.  However, I pretty sure we don't have a 1920's woman who shows disdain for conventional dress and behavior living in our toilet, so the only other conclusion is the ghost.  Besides, there are other reasons to believe that a ghost haunts our house:
  • The pillows get torn up when we leave the house.  The dogs swears that it isn't him.  I lean towards his version, because every time I show him the tattered pillow he runs and hides under the bed.  Anyone that afraid of a pillow couldn't possible shed it to smithereens.
  • Toys get scattered all over the floor without reason.  Every day the Princess tells me that she can't pick up the messes because she didn't make them.  She also doesn't know who made them, even if the mess maker did seem to have fun.
  • My phone moves around to strange places.  Evidently the spirit likes to pull some pranks.  My phone should live on the kitchen counter, right next to the charging cords.  But every now and then I have a hard time locating the damn thing.  I've found it in my coat pocket, various drawers, the washer, the dryer, on top of the stacked washer dryer, the car glove compartment, the Princess's Doc McStuffin's play house, under the bed, in the outside trash can, and in the Queen's briefcase.  Enough is enough, I have important calls to make. to play Angry Birds.
  • The beer is missing.  I'm sure I'd remember drinking it.  My pants are also missing.
I probably could live with Sir Haunts-a-Lot and his antics if not for the whole bathroom thing.  It's not even that the constant flushing wastes our precious natural resources (although I'm kinda pissed about the water bill).  But every time he flushes that toilet, it makes me need to go to the bathroom -- a Pavlovian peeing trigger, if you will.  I have to drink about a gallon of water every two hours just to keep up with it.

So, take the house, pillows, and beer.  At least I will keep my bladder!


Editors Note: Please disregard any mention of burning down the house.  Especially the fire inspector.  All fires have spontaneously risen and/or are set by ghosts who happen to give expensive gifts for everyone willing to "look the other way."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Day 17 -- The repost

For today, I'm going to repost my very first post on Losing the Internets.  Is this cheating by submitting something I already wrote?  Totally.  But only 10 people read if a post is never ready, wouldn't it be new?  Yeah, chew on that a while.


I thought long and hard about this last night--about 15 minutes--and I came to an epiphany.  My favorite genres of movie watching all involve superheroes.  As far as epiphanies go, it may not seem monumental. Thirty-two days ago I  had the divine inspiration that I like my tea cold rather than hot (and unsweetened. I'm not all, "This tea is great. Now lets drown out the tea taste with a crap load of sugar.").  And last night, superheroes movies rock my world.

If you asked me this same question three night ago, I would have waffled between zany comedies and animated films.  But when I take an honest look at myself, the last "zany" comedy I saw and actually enjoyed was Superbad.  The rest were OK, but not "buy the DVD" good.  And animated film, well, I'm 36 and having cartoons being my favorite is weird.  On the scale of weird, its "I'm going to stand over here" weird, not "You know you can't live by a park or school" weird, but still weird nevertheless.

I think I like superhero movies, especially most modern takes on superpowers, because filmmakers are now focusing on people dealing with superpowers instead of superpowered people.  What's the difference?  I'll answer that question with a question.  Is Clark Kent a reporter who happens to become Superman to save people, or is Superman a hero who happens to become Clark Kent to blend in to society?

It's more interesting when Clark Kent plays Superman or Tony Stark plays Iron Man.  I'd much rather see characters try to balance their "real" lives with saving the world.  Personally, I think it would be awfully stressful to have that much power in the palm of your hand, and I get bored when I watch people handle god-like power flawlessly.  So, why the Hulk kicking the crap out of Loki makes me cheer, the real highlights were when Bruce Banner, Chris Evans and Tony Stark argued about everything.

Most good (Hear that Green Lantern!) modern superhero movies tend to skew more to the mortal than the mask.  Except for Chris Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Batman sits front and center and Bruce Wayne plays a supporting role. Bruce doesn't seem to have any complex motivations or development except to fund Batman.  I watched the Dark Knight for the first time last week and while Ledger's Joker rocked, Bale's Bruce fell flat.  Every single scene of his as Bruce Wayne featured exposition as how he would act as Batman.  Whether to build a better suit or pose as a distraction to extradite a mob accountant, Batman only used the Bruce Wayne as a tool for his purposes, and not the other way around.  Interestingly, Michael Keaton's rendition of Batman seemed to let Bruce use the Bat.

Now, if we could get a super-villain movie that showed some altruistic reasons for their villainy.