And we're back.

After a lot of traveling, eating and drinking, we've returned to the cave to recuperate for New Year's eve. Here's a few things I've learned since my last post:

1. The game "Catchphrase" is a lot more fun when everyone is half in the bag.

2. When one of the clues yelled out is "something you beat" a funny but entirely un-PC answer is "your girlfriend!" (real answer: Scrambled eggs)

3. Every Australian person I've ever met has been pretty cool. (Count so far: 2)

4. Australian football is "sort of like rugby, but more physical" and getting "squirrel gripped" is a real possibility.

5. I never want to play Australian football.

6. If someone gets really drunk and then heads up to bed and passes out fully clothed, it's pretty funny to get 15 people to sneak up to his room, climb on the bed without waking him up, and take pictures of this event.

7. It's also pretty funny to watch a drunk chick fall backwards and try to make a snow angel when there is a 3" icy crust on the snow.

It sounded like someone hit a pumpkin with a baseball bat.


The Christmas Mission.

We stared up at the trapdoor in the ceiling.

"No way," The Snitch said. "We need a ladder. No way I'm letting you boost me up."

"Come on," I replied, from atop the chair. "Don't be a butthead. I won't drop you."

"Uh uh. Go get Houdini if you want to, but I'm not climbing up on your shoulders."

"He'll do it -- you know why? Because he's not a chicken," I said. "But you're still helping us. You can hold the chair steady or something."

"What do you need me for?" he asked, his suspicion evident.

"If you help, then you can't tell on us," I said. He knew it was true, and reluctantly agreed.

I went to find Houdini. Time was running out.

I found him downstairs watching The Flintstones on TV. "Hey, mom and dad are out and I'm gonna stand on a chair and then you have to stand on my shoulders and look around in the attic," I said.

"K," he said, not looking away from the TV. "It's almost over, I'll be there in a second."

He didn't even ask why, he just agreed to it. That's what I liked about Houdini -- he was always up for anything regardless of the consequences. I left and went back upstairs to the hallway, where The Snitch was standing with his flashlight in hand. "I got this," he said, holding it up.

"Cool," I said, dragging the chair a little to the left so it was directly under the trap door. I climbed up on the chair again and yelled, "HOUDINI! COME ON!"

He pounded up the stairs and stopped when he saw me standing on the chair. "What's in the attic?" he asked.

"Our Christmas presents," I said. "We already checked mom and dad's closet, and there was nothing in there. This is the only other place they could be. "

"K. Boost me," he said, taking the flashlight from The Snitch and shoving it in his pocket.

"Climb up on the chair," I said, turning and holding on to the chair back. "Then get on my shoulders, and we'll see if you can reach the door."

Two seconds later, he was sitting on my shoulders and I was standing up on the chair. I was trying to look up, but it was difficult with him on my back. "Can you reach it?" I asked.

"Yeah, just barely," he said.

"Push the trap door open then grab on to the edge," I said, knowing that the "door" was really just a piece of plywood lying loose in a frame. "If you can get a good grip on the edge, pull yourself up and stand on my shoulders."

He did it easily, and before I knew it, he was standing on my shoulders with me holding his legs, his head and the top third of his body sticking into the attic. The Snitch was holding me steady on the chair.

"See anything?" I asked, wincing under the weight of Houdini's sneakers, which were starting to smash permanent converse all-star imprints on the tops of both my shoulders.

"Let me turn on the flashlight," he said, pulling it out of his pocket. A pause. Then, "Nope."

"That's impossible," I said. "Look in the back."

"I think I can pull myself up," he said, and before I could tell him not to, he pulled his entire body up into the attic and disappeared.

"How's he gonna get down?," the Snitch asked, voicing exactly what I was thinking.

"He'll have to hang down and then I'll get under him again," I said confidently, having no idea.

"Anything?" I yelled up through the dark hole.

Houdini poked his head down and said, "Nope. Nothing."

"Crap. OK, come down," I said. "Drop you legs down through and get back on my shoulders. Then drag the door over."

He dropped through the hole like a spider monkey out of a tree, and I barely got under him in time. He was facing the wrong way, hanging on the edge of the attic door frame, but at least he was standing on my shoulders. He moved the door most of the way over the hole, then without warning slammed down so he was sitting on my shoulders backward, giving me a face full of Houdini crotch.

"Jeez! Get the door closed, will ya?" I yelled, barely keeping my balance as I tried to avert my face. If it hadn't been for the Snitch steadying my legs I think we both would have been on the floor in a pile.

"Where else can we look?" I asked, not thinking I'd actually get an answer.

"What about the crawlspace in Dad's office?" Houdini asked. I had forgotten all about that.

"Let's go!" I said. We put the chair back and ran downstairs.

Getting into the crawlspace was more complicated than it sounds, because it wasn't just a simple crawlspace. It had a door that had a desk in front of it. The left side of the desk was supported by a chain, and operated like the flip up section of a bar that allows the waitresses and bartenders to get behind it. This section of desk blocked the crawlspace door. We couldn't just move all the crap on the desk and flip it up to open the door, because it would be obvious someone had been in there. We had to keep track of where everything was so my father didn't know we were snooping around.

I grabbed a pencil and pad, making a mental note of its original location. While The Snitch and Houdini waited, I sketched the desktop and the placement of everything on it. The stapler, the hole punch, the stacks of papers, the telephone -- all documented. When that was done, we moved it all and swung the desk up, which allowed us access to the crawlspace door. I motioned for Houdini to make like a good soldier and take a peek while I held up the desk.

He crawled in with the flashlight and I heard him say, "WOW!"

"What?" I said, "Did you find something?"

"Yeah," he replied. "Tons of stuff. But it's all wrapped."

I was afraid of this. "OK," I said. "Don't touch anything. Just look. Do you see anything on the wrapping paper? Initials or anything?" My mother would always put our first initial in some inconspicuous spot so she knew who was supposed to get what on Christmas morning.

"Yeah. I see one that has a K on it. Can I pull it out?"

"No, we have to keep track of where everything is. If the pile gets messed up, Mom will know. Just take the easy ones off the top. If that one's on top, hand it out."

I turned to The Snitch. "Go into my room and pull out the bottom drawer of my dresser," I said. "Pull it all the way out, then lift up the bottom and bring me the box underneath."

He took off to get it and I managed to get the desk section to stay up by itself so I could grab the presents that Houdini kept handing out the door. "OK, that's enough," I said when there was no more room to stack. "C'mon out."

He backed out of the hole and sat up. A moment later The Snitch came into the office with a skinny cigar box.

In the box was The Kit.

The Kit consisted of: A single-edged razor blade, about 4 different types of tape -- gloss, matte finish, skinny, wide -- even a small roll of masking tape, because sometimes my mother ran out. The kit was used once a year to open, examine and then re-wrap Christmas presents.

We carefully examined the presents one by one, deciding which side to cut. It had to be the side where the paper was loosest, otherwise you ran the risk of tearing it when you tried to re-wrap. If you did it right, you could cut the tape, carefully open the flap, look to see what the gift was, then tape it closed again. I fancied myself quite the Christmas present surgeon.

We opened almost all our presents, except for the ones we deemed too hard to re-wrap, taking care to re-tape using the same type and width my mother had initially used. Unless you looked with a magnifying glass, you wouldn't know they had been tampered with. As Houdini was backing out of the hole after putting the gifts back in their places, he jostled something and the desk section came smashing down on his back and head.

"Ow." he said. That was it. A 4 foot long, 30-inch wide hunk of 3/4 inch plywood had just bounced off his melon, and all he said was "Ow." The kid was indestructible.

We got the desk fastened back in place like it was supposed to be, and referenced our drawing to make sure everything was back where it belonged. Lastly, the pencil and pad went back to their original locations.

There was only one more thing to take care of.

"Let me see your surprised look," I said to The Snitch. If anyone was going to crack under the pressure it was going to be him. "Christmas morning when you open that radio you always wanted, what are you going to do?"

He said, "WOW! A radio! Just what I wanted!" and his face lit up. Not bad. A little cheesy. Not Oscar worthy, but not bad. I turned to Houdini.

"That G.I. JOE in there," I said. "Pretend you just opened it up. Act surprised."

He gave a performance that would have made Jimmy Stewart proud. In fact, I think an angel may have lost its wings that day.

I'd like to tell you my parents never caught on to our little mission, but to this day, I'm not really sure. Maybe The Snitch let something slip, or maybe we weren't as careful as we thought we were, but the following year all our presents from my mother and father were stored at the neighbors house until Christmas morning. Maybe it was just my mother's intuition -- I don't know. We never got in trouble for it, so I prefer to think of it a Christmas Miracle.

So anyway, Merry Christmas everyone, since this is probably my last post for the year unless something crazy happens. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, enjoy your time with your family and have a great holiday season. And here's a tip: Watch your kids closely when they open their gifts on Christmas morning. If they hold that smile a little too long, or glance at each other for no apparent reason -- start looking around for the razor blades and tape.



Homeless in Seattle.

For lack of something better to do while waiting in line at Starbucks, I started looking around at the crowd. (It was either that or really think about the ridiculous amount of money I was about to fork up for a small cup of bean juice and milk worth about 25 cents.)

This particular Starbucks is in a college town, and I was amazed by the sheer quantity of grungy, unshowered guys and girls who had laptop computers open and stacks of papers spread out on the tables next to them. One guy was sleeping. Another chick was camped out on the couch by the fireplace and I swear to god she had slippers and a blanket. I am not kidding. I couldn't help but wonder whose job it was to tuck her in at night.

It seems the unwritten Starbucks rule is that as long as you have a Starbucks cup somewhere in your general vicinity you are free to take up couch and table space and use their electrical power as long as you'd like to -- an offer which many people obviously take them up on.

It was at that point I realized something: The only difference between being homeless and not being homeless is a laptop and a paper cup.

Here's an example: Say you're a drummer who just broke up with your girlfriend. If that's not the definition of homeless I don't know what is. The first thing you should do is buy a laptop like this one. Then hit the garbage can outside your local Starbucks and grab an empty cup. After that, you're on easy street. Walk in, sit down, open the laptop, put your feet up and bask in the coffee-scented goodness that is your new living room.

Seriously, could this scheme be more perfect?

You're a musician, so obviously you work nights. Normally you're leaving for the club around nine or ten at night and coming home around six in the morning, so you leave before they close, and you're back when they open.

Truth be told, you don't shower all that much anymore since you discovered AXE, the bathrooms at 'Bucks are way cleaner than what you're used to, and you're there early so you always get the comfy couch. And if you're really lucky, maybe even the blanket.

Added bonus -- If the laptop actually works, you can start a blog to tell all your fans what a raging bitch your ex-girlfriend is, and how she doesn't understand what rock and roll is all about and that you didn't know she was even coming to the show and you were only autographing that chick's tits because you're a consummate professional and seriously, the reason your pants were down is simply because it was really hot in the dressing room and after a great show like that you always like to give it a little air, so kicking you out of the trailer was totally uncalled for and if you think about it, she should actually be apologizing to you, and also Neil Peart is the best fucking drummer ever.


Separated at Birth?

I was watching "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" the other night, and I realized something.

Jessica is really hot.

No, I'm kidding. I actually noticed that when I was about 8. When she lets her hair down during that psychedelic fountain song....yikes. Flat blue eyes be damned, she's a fine looking woman. It's too bad she let herself go.

What I realized the other night is why the "good" winter warlock bugs me. It's because he reminds me of the most annoying human* comedian on earth:

That's freaky, right?

* carrot top, gilbert gottfried and emo phillips are not human as far as I can tell.


This could be the solution I'm looking for.

There's a commercial that's been on quite a bit lately for a sleep aid called Lunesta. Normally I don't pay much attention to these types of medical advertisements -- the Enzyte debacle notwithstanding -- but invariably with these sorts of things, in the last ten seconds some guy with a deep, barely audible voice runs through all of the horrible side-effects that they are probably required by law to tell you about, but don't really want you to know. Like the "fine print" at the end of a car dealership ad when they tell you (at auctioneer speed) that you're not really going to get the fantastical deal they just told you that you were going to get.

Anyway, as the requisite droning voice in the commercial was going on and on about how Lunesta can cause drowsiness (what? my sleep aid can cause drowsiness? WTF?), garbage mouth, light-headedness, heavy-headedness, periodic shooting of luna moths from random orifices, etc. -- something catches my ear.

I backed up my DVR just to make sure I heard it right. It said:

"Instances of sleepwalking and driving while asleep and later having no memory of these activities has been reported."

Sleep-walking, yeah I can see that, but sleep-driving? That is a pretty serious side-effect. They are telling me that I could quite possibly find myself waking up behind the wheel of my car in the parking lot at work and having no recollection of how I -- wait, that's a really bad example.

I went to their website for more information and they elaborated on this theme a little bit. They say you are supposed to "Call your doctor right away if after taking Lunesta you walk, drive, eat or engage in other activities while asleep." Maybe it's just me, but that sounds pretty cool. I'll bet I would get a lot more done.

And really, at that point, why call? Hell, I'm already out cruising around in my sleep. I'll just hit a Taco Bell drive-thru and stop over at his house. I'm sure he'll be glad to see me standing in his doorway in my Underoos at 2am chowing down on a chimichanga and snoring.

Also, "engage in other activities?"

Like what? A Badminton tournament? A 5K marathon? S&M rodeo sex at a highway rest stop?

I can picture the morning call:

Me: "Hello, Doctor Marten?"
Doc: "Yes? What seems to be the problem?"
Me: "I woke up this morning and apparently.... well, I think I painted my house in my sleep last night."
Doc: "Oh my god! We've got to get you off that Lunesta right away!"
Me: "Uh, can I wait one more night? My wife thinks it needs a second coat."

At any rate, this stuff sounds dangerous. If you take it, you might want to hide your car keys. And probably your paintbrush. Either that or just stop over and I'll let you paint my house.

p.s. - Bring Meximelts.


My needs according to internet marketers.

Judging by my bulk mail folder, my need for a new wristwatch is apparently much greater than my need for a bigger penis.

I think that's good, right?

Unless they all just got together and decided, "Well, there's obviously no hope for this guy in the dangle department. Let's at least try to help him remember when his favorite TV shows are on."


Terror Clown.

Did anyone catch the Macy's parade? I flipped the channel just in time to see this:

Holy crap. If I were a child and saw this monstrosity floating down the street directly at me, I think I would immediately shit myself and then start screaming "PLEASE DON'T LET IT EAT ME! PLEASE DON'T LET IT EAT ME!"

Seriously, just look at this thing:

It looks like it should have a Honda Civic in one hand and a dozen screaming children in the other. I thought this next shot really conveyed the complete and utter horror:

There is clearly evil in those eyes. Every time I look at that picture, this is what I see:

He likes the heads best because they're crunchy.


Anyone got a cigarette? I'm spent.

On November 2nd, I peaked at 47,910 visitors in a 24 hour period. Now I'm back down to about 3,000 a day, which is still ten times more than I used to get prior to the JC Penney debacle. At least the pressure is off.

In other news, our friends told us to "bring games" with us tomorrow when we go over for Thanksgiving dinner. So my awesome wife came home with a giant deck of cards today.

Go Fish? Hardly. Uno? Not on your life. Much better than that. On each card is a different drinking game.

I opened them up in anticipation of immediate inebriation, and I was greeted with this card:

I am really glad I didn't dive right in and start playing, because obviously, had I missed this card, I would be lying in a gutter somewhere right now seriously injured or dead. Probably with giant exclamation points hovering over my cold, lifeless body.

Seriously, why would they even bother? I mean really -- their recommendation that you "play these games with non-alcoholic beverages" provides them with about as much actual legal protection as the "for tobacco only" sticker on the bong case at the local head shop.

I can just picture the crazy fun we'd have using Pepsi to play these games.

"Dude, I am so freakin' GASSY right now."

"Here, take my keys. I'm too BLOATED to drive home. Can I crash on your couch?"

Man, that sounds great, doesn't it?

*no, I don't smoke.


I'm sorry. Voice mailbox for....GOD....is full.

I know this sign isn't entirely true, and I know that because I helped Him set up his voice-mail box a month ago. So I know He has it.

God's kinda old-school, though, and by that I mean He isn't very technical. Put it this way - his VCR has been blinking 12:00:00 since 1975. Yeah. It's Betamax. I was over there last week and we watched Spiderman 5. Where he got that on beta I'll never know. The small miracles amuse him.

The problem with the voice mail thing is that it only rings 4 times before going to VM, so He always turns it off when he's going to just be hanging around. Unfortunately, he's not great at remembering to turn it back on when He goes out, so I can see how the church people may have been under the above impression. Seriously, most of the time when you call, it just rings off the hook.

I keep telling him he should just have it roll over to his cell number, but He says being on the phone with Verizon tech support is just way too close to actually being in Hell.

If you're curious, this is what his voicemail message says:

"Hi. You've reached the number of God. I'm everywhere right now, so unfortunately I can't take your call. My message is very important to you, so if you would leave your name and a number where you can be reached, I will call you when when you least expect it. If I don't get back to you right away, it means that I am out working in mysterious ways. If this is an emergency, please contact my son Jesus, or his mother Mary, and they will handle it. You can have complete faith in them. Thanks, and have a good day."

I called him the other day and got lucky. I let it ring about 15 times and just when I was going to hang up, He answered.

"Hello? [heavy breathing]

"Hey, It's me. Why are you out of breath?"

"I was outside raking galaxies. I had to run for the phone. What's up?"

"What happened to that wireless handset I got for you?"

"Still in the box. I haven't had time to hook it up yet. What d'you need, bro?"

"You're all powerful. How long would it take you to hook it up? Jeez. I tried your cell too. Went right to voicemail. To the system greeting, no less. I thought we got rid of that last week."

"Uh, yeah I don't know what's up with that. I was trying to erase old messages the other day and I think I pushed some wrong button. Anyway, If you called my cell I didn't hear it ring. I think maybe I left it in the truck. It's on vibrate so I can never find the damned thing. "

"Whatever. You should just go Blackberry like the rest of the world. Hey, I know you're busy, but I just wanted to tell you -- you might want to drop in over there in the middle east. Things are a little out of control."

"Oh man. Again? Yeah, I've been meaning to do that. Thanks for the heads up."

"No Problem, G. Get back to it. Oh yeah, by the way -- I've been meaning to ask you: Why'd you put all the oil on one side of the planet and all the people who want it on the other side?"

"I know, right? I crack myself up sometimes. [beeep] Hey, hang on second. It's the other line."



"Yeah, still me."

"OK, hang on. I think something might be burning outside. Let me just get rid of ----"

click. [dialtone]

Unbelievable. Great guy, though.


Goat Cheese of Death.

Recently, to celebrate a special occasion, my wife and I were eating in one of those restaurants where the reputation of the food outweighs the ambiance. You know the type -- those places where the tables are so close to each other that you can't help overhearing the topic of conversation at the next table. You're having your own conversation, and listening to three or four others at the same time, and everyone just pretends that it's not happening. It's pretty funny when you think about it. Here we all are, in a big room, sitting literally within arms reach, and ignoring each other completely.

Also, I have three different forks, and I don't know what to do with them. Can you tell I eat in expensive restaurants all the time? At any rate, I tend to be self-conscious in a place like this and find myself unable to hold a normal conversation. I think the primary reason for that is because my 'normal' conversation could quite conceivably consist entirely of quotes from the The Family Guy and the Venture Brothers, and I don't want anyone overhearing that unless they can appreciate my vast knowledge of all things irreverent and animated.

So eventually, I just drift off into eavesdropping. The funniest interchange of this particular meal was a conversation that happened between the waiter and the woman at the next table. It went something like this:

"I'd like the prime rib, medium rare, and a glass of the 1998 Muller-Catoir, please."

"A suggestion, madam? You'd be much better off with the 2000 Chappellet Mountain Cuvee. Trust me. It has a much fuller nose and is a better match for the beef. The other wine will simply not hold up."

"Thanks so much. I'll try that instead."

"My pleasure. Will there be anything else?"

She paused for a second and then said, "Yes, actually. I was thinking of getting goat cheese on my salad, but I'm allergic to dairy. Can you tell me if I'd be allergic to goat cheese?"

I don't think the waiter was expecting this line of questioning, because he immediately dropped a few pegs on the smoothness scale and almost lost that veneer of efficient, elite professionalism.

Playing for time to gather his thoughts, he asked, "What happens to you when you eat dairy?"

"I get giant hives and my throat closes up and my tongue swells," she replied.


You could see it in the waiter's eyes. He was clearly thinking that he wanted none of that happening in his dining room, now or at any point in the future. He was also clearly thinking - 'What the hell is wrong with you? Don't you know your own food allergies? Do I LOOK like someone who is well-versed in the contraindications of goat cheese?'

He said none of these things, however. My wife and I were trying very hard not to laugh, and failing.

The waiter caught my eye for a second, and the side of his face twitched a little. He almost cracked a smile, then regained his composure. He was good.

"You'd probably be OK, but personally, I don't think you should chance it," he said after due consideration.

"Yes, you're probably right. I'll have it without the cheese, then."

"That's for the best, I think."

There are many things a good waiter will do to earn a great tip, but apparently stabbing needles full of epinephrine into a stopped heart is not one of them.

That's what I get for going to a place where you have to pay for your meal after you eat it instead of before.


Good Vibrations.

I work out regularly and try to stay in shape. Sometimes the last thing on earth I want to do is hit the weights or the treadmill. While browsing through a magazine the other day, I spotted the answer to all my motivational problems. It's a new "exercise" machine made by Soloflex. I had one of the original Soloflex machines, and while not completely useless, it was a lot better at storing clothes than building muscles. This one looks more interesting:

While "Ahhhhhh!" is not a sound I generally make while working out, I guess it's not completely out of the question. For only $495, this miraculous piece of equipment provides "low amplitude mechanical vibrations" that allegedly "improve circulation, strength, flexibility and balance."

You're supposed to sit on it, stand on it, lie down on it or dry-hump it for ten minutes a day. OK, I added that last one just to see if you were paying attention.

I can tell you a couple of things right off the bat -- One, she did not get that body using only that machine. Two, this thing is basically a full-body sex toy. In fact, if you look closely at the woman's face, she is obviously forming a deep personal relationship with the Soloflex WBV.

In fact, I'd be willing to bet you a hundred bucks that if you tried to take it away from her right now you would find yourself waking up in the hospital with no recollection of how you got there.

Soloflex may have hit a home run here because she clearly didn't seem to give a shit that there was a photo shoot going on.

Ahhhhhh!, indeed.


I've gone Viral. Hide the women and children.

So about midweek last week I noticed a bunch of traffic coming here from what seemed to be mostly webmail servers. I normally only get a couple hundred hits a day, and suddenly I was seeing this:

It turns out that my JC Penney's post has mutated into some sort of viral e-mail forward. It's crazy to see all the different places it's popping up.

Oh well. You can never tell what people will find funny, I guess. I've gotten my share of crap forwarded to me over the years, so I guess it's only fitting that I finally get my revenge.


Strap in, shut up and hold on. We're going back.

Last weekend I put an exhaust fan in the ceiling for my wife's grandfather. After a bunch of hours spent in The Hottest Attic In The Universe, he had a ceiling fan that ducted to the side of his house.

While my brother-in-law and I were fitting the fan in between the joists, we found something under the insulation. What we found was this:

A JC Penney catalog from 1977. It's not often blog fodder just falls in my lap, but holy hell this was two solid inches of it, right there for the taking. I thumbed through it quickly and found my next dining room set, which is apparently made by adding upholstery to old barrels:

Also, I am totally getting this for my bathroom, because obviously nothing absorbs errant pee like a nice, thick shag:

There's plenty more home furnishings where those came from, however I'm not going to bore you with that. Instead, I'm going to bore you with something else. The clothes.

The clothes are fantastic. Imagine if you wore them today.

Here's how to get your ass kicked in elementary school:

Just look at that belt. It's like a boob-job for your pants. He probably needed help just to lift it into place. The belt loops have to be three inches long, for god's sake. And way to pull your pants up to your armpits, grandpa.

Here's how to get your ass kicked in high school:

This kid looks like he's pretending to be David Soul, who is pretending to be a cop who is pretending to be a pimp that everyone knows is really an undercover cop. Who is pretending to be 15.

Here's how to get your ass kicked on the golf course:

This "all purpose jumpsuit" is, according to the description, equally appropriate for playing golf or simply "relaxing around the house." Personally, I can't see wearing this unless you happen to be "relaxing around your cell in D-block." Even then, the only reason you should put this thing on is because the warden forced you to at gunpoint.

Here's how to get your ass kicked pretty much anywhere:

I'll bet these guys do ok with the ladies. If you look at that picture quickly, it looks like Mr. Bob "No-pants" Saget has his hand in the other guy's pocket. In this case, he doesn't, although you can tell just by looking at them that it's happened - or if it hasn't happened it will. As soon as he puts down his color-coordinated coffee cup.

Here's how to get your ass kicked at the beach:

He looks like he's reaching for a gun, but you know it's probably just a bottle of suntan lotion in a holster.

How to get your ass kicked in a meeting:

If you wear this suit and don't sell used cars for a living, I believe you can be fined and face serious repercussions, up to and including termination. Or imprisonment, in which case you'd be forced to wear that orange jumpsuit; which, frankly, is a step up.

How to get your ass kicked on every day up to and including St. Patrick's Day

Dear god in heaven, I don't believe that color exists in nature. There is NO excuse for wearing either of these ensembles unless you're working as a body guard for the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

In this next one, Your Search For VALUE Ends at Penneys.

As does your search for chest hair.

And this -- Seriously. No words.

Oh wait, it turns out there are words after all, and those words are W.T.F. I'm guessing the snap front gives you quick access to the chest hair. I think the little tie must be the pull tab. If you look closely, it says, "In case of chest hair emergency, pull tab quickly and back away."

Also, judging by the sheer amount of matching his/hers outfits, in 1977 it was apparently considered pretty stylish for couples to dress alike. These couples look happy, don't they?

I am especially fond of this one, which I have entitled "Cowboy Chachi Loves You Best."

And nothing showcases your everlasting love more than the commitment of matching bathing suits. That, and an appreciative blonde with a look on her face that says "I love the way your junk fights against that fabric."

Then, after the lovin', you can relax in your one-piece matching terry cloth jumpsuits:

I could go on, but I'm tired, and my eyes hurt from this trip back in time. I think it's the colors. I will leave you with these tasteful little numbers:

Man, that's sexy.


Me and my brothers in 1976.

Dammit, mom.

(If you want to meet the woman responsible for dressing us like this, check out my book here.)


Modern conveniences stink.

One of the places we go camping has changed over the years. Here's another story about this same place.

It's become more commercialized, more people are using it, and really, it's just not the same as it was when we first started going there. You can tell by the posh accommodations that have recently been installed.

Case in point:

In other camping news, I finally got one of these:

Now I don't have to hang our food from a tree every night to keep the bears and raccoons out of it.

There isn't really a point to this post. I just wanted to show you that picture of the throne with a view. I like how they go out of their way to point out that it's "unisex."

I only wish it could be scratch and sniff.


Quiz time.

Yesterday, on the way home from work, I managed to do this:

Did I:

(A) Eat something yummy from a porta-potty?

(B) Do something to Smurfette that's
really gonna piss off Papa Smurf?

Finally get backstage at a Blue Man Group concert?

(D) None of the above.

If you guessed (D) then you are absolutely correct.

Actually, on the way home yesterday, I stopped at the vet to get some medicine for the cat, and they had a giant bowl of these sitting on the counter:

You see that one all the way over to the left? Yeah. That's the one. I thought it was grape, except that when I unwrapped it, it was bright blue. So then I thought it was blueberry. Turns out it wasn't blueberry either. I couldn't really place the flavor, but it wasn't great. I finished it because it was free, and didn't realize it was making my entire mouth look like a tidy bowl.

It turns out it's the one they call "Mystery Flavor." That explains all the question marks that I didn't notice until much later.

It's sort of a cross between Windex and Smarties.

I don't recommend it.


My pits can beat you at chess.

I noticed something that struck me funny while I was getting ready for work the other day. The top of my deodorant says this:

First of all, I'm not exactly sure how my no-stink stick can be smart. From what I can tell, it really has very little in the way of intelligence. It can't even automatically roll itself up a little bit when I am scraping armpit skin off on its hard plastic sides. Also, how do you trademark the word "smart?"

The bigger problem, of course, is that if some scientists set off to develop "smart technology" I would think one of the last groups of people they would go to would be athletes. Granted, they're probably better off going to athletes instead of...oh, I don't know....rappers or David Lee Roth, maybe. But still -- As a whole, athletes are not generally known for their scientific prowess.

How would that development actually happen? I can picture it now.

Scientist: I've developed what I think may be the ultimate Smart{tm} deodorant! However, I am not sure if it really works, so I need your odoriferous expertise. Rub this under your armpits.

(Pro football player rubs like there's no tomorrow.)

Scientist (pointing): No, no. Those aren't your armpits. There you go. And now, we wait. Um, maybe you better take a few laps.

PFBP, upon completing laps: Does I stink?

Scientist: SUCCESS!

PFBP (holding scientist by neck): Where's my money at?

I compared it to my other, non-smart deodorant, and there really doesn't seem to be much difference.

I think that one might be more crafty than smart.

OK, I'm off to a lake somewhere. Be back in a bit.


Advice for Batman: Avoid camping with Catwoman.

I realize I've been slacking lately, so let me tell you why. September and October are my vacation months, and my wife and I take 4-day weekends to go backpacking and/or canoing, although lately it's been easier to take the canoe. What this means is that I have three "regular" work days and also only three days to do things like freelance, practice piano, do stuff around the house, you name it. So that's my story. It'll get better - that's a promise. Or a threat. Take it however you want to.

This past weekend, my wife and I took the canoe to a place called Cedar River Flow. It's an easy place to put in, since you can almost back your car down to the water -- there's no canoe carrying involved, like there was last week. That being said, it is designated as "wilderness," so things are pretty rustic. And by "pretty rustic" I mean no bathrooms. Not even an outhouse. Also, it's a good idea to not leave food around your camp because there are various large and small animals in the area that would like nothing better than a free meal on your dime.

What made this trip unique is that we weren't alone. You see, we have this cat, JD. Unfortunately JD needs medication every 6 hours. Because we couldn't board him at the last minute, we decided we had two choices -- either not go on the trip, or....take him with us.

In a spectacular lapse of good judgment, we decided to take him.

Some more details: He is an indoor cat. He has never worn a collar in his life. So, of course, the first thing we did was get him a collar, which made him walk around like he had a cinder block resting on his head for 2 hours. After we got him used to that, we put on the harness. With all the buckles and studs and black leather, all he needed was a little leather cap and a pair of assless pants and he could have walked into any leather boy club in LA without attracting attention. If he hadn't been a cat, I mean.

We bundled the backpacks into the car along with the cat carrier and headed out.

Surprisingly, he was fine during the two hour car trip. He slept, in fact. When we loaded everything into the canoe, including him, he didn't flip out. He was amazingly laid back about the whole thing. We paddled through semi-rough water for a few miles and then unloaded everything at a remote campsite. The cat loved it. He was rolling around on the ground, exploring everything, laying in the sun, having a grand old time.

Everything was fine until approximately 2:30am, which is the exact time I learned why it wasn't a good idea to bring a cat camping with you. Was it the coyote howling approximately 100 feet from the tent? No, it wasn't that, although I am pretty sure he figured cat was on the menu if he persevered. Was it the incessant licking of various body parts? No, I'm used to that -- I'm talking cat stuff here.

2:30am was the exact moment in time that I learned that indoor cats don't realize that all of outside is their litter box. How they cannot get this, I don't know. I base this theory on the fact that our cat made himself comfortable on top of my sleeping bag, nestled himself between my calves, and then took a giant piss.

Luckily, (if you can call anything about this luck) my sleeping bag was slightly water resistant, which also means that it was slightly pee resistant. Incredibly, I didn't panic, even though there was approximately 2 pints of cat piss in a small indentation balanced precariously between my legs. We soaked it up with toilet paper, and when I was able to move, I dragged everything out of the tent.

So the stage was set: It's 2:37 in the morning. It's cold. There's howling in the distance. I can't find my jacket. Everything smells like pee. It was like waking up on the lawn after passing out at a frat party.

I carried my bag down to the lake and dragged it across the top of the water, front and back, about 3 times. I wanted to wash it, but not soak the feathers inside. Once I did that, I brought it back to the camp and started a fire, then stood there with it until it dried. Finally, we were able to put everything back in the tent and go back to sleep. Everything still stank, but at least I wasn't going to freeze.

I dreamt of hobos, and we left early the next morning.

As my wife told me repeatedly, worse things could have happened. She's right. At least I didn't get crapped on, too.

I guess there's always next time.


why does james blunt sound like maurice gibb?

No, the title of this post has nothing to do with the content, but I just heard James Blunt's new song '1973' and it sounds like it came directly from 1973. WTF, James Blunt. It's 2007, and as far as I know, it's not the year of the cat. According to a recent poll in the U.K., his music is more irritating than hangovers, noisy neighbors, bad hair days and stepping in dog shit. I'd fight them on the dog shit one, since I tend to wear hiking boots with a pretty intricate tread pattern, but the rest is right on.

This post was supposed to be about cow pasture golf, but I'm going to wait on that one.

Instead, I'm going to talk about our recent trip to Shelburne museum, which is an amazing place to visit if you've never been there. It's a 40 acre collection of stuff put together by one rich woman who collected things like the original Ticonderoga paddle boat, the last manned lighthouse on Lake Champlain, and various historic buildings from all over the northeast. Check out their website -- there's a lot more I didn't mention. Other than getting rear-ended by an old guy while sitting on the ferry on the way over to Vermont, the trip was uneventful.

We spent a little time in the Apothecary, which was pretty enlightening.

They have a extensive collection of old medicines, and reading the labels was hilarious. It seems there wasn't much in the way of a "federal drug administration" back in the 1800's, so if it didn't kill you, it was legal to sell as medicine. Most of the medicines on display seemed to have at least a 20% alcohol content, so I figure they were pretty much guaranteed to make you feel better no matter what your ailment -- at least for a little while. Alcohol is nothing if not nature's pain reliever.

Everything cured everything back then. You could drink one thing and it would cure impure blood, cramps, stomach aches, rheumatism, nerve problems and the dreaded "female sickness" which was "an awful internal trouble that is wearing out their lives." (Symptoms included nervousness, fragility, weak nerves, irritability, fretfulness, ringing in the ears, and sleepless nights.)*

I took some pictures of my favorites.

Dr. True's Elixir - If your kids have any complaints whatsoever, all they need is Dr. True and his fabulous elixir.

You know why? Because it cures all children's complaints. All of them. They don't like school? Dr. True will fix it. Don't want to eat their vegetables? Dr. True will make it happen. A bottle of Dr. True's Elixir across the side of the head and they will eat broccoli until long after the bleeding stops. In addition to curing ALL children's complaints, it works specifically hard to expel worms. You might think that the act of curing all complaints would include expelling worms (since I'm sure if you had worms you'd be complaining about it constantly) but who am I to contradict the Doctor? It's impossible to call him a liar -- not when he has the last name of True. There's no way you can go up against that and come out ahead. This stuff must have sold like crazy since everyone knows a worm-free kid is a happy kid.

Dr. Davis's Laxakola - Apparently, pooping was a pretty big issue back then too. It seemed like every other bottle up there either got you going or stopped you from going. This is one of the kickstarter formulas. You'd think Dr. Davis would look a little happier if he had just dropped the kids off at the pool. Physician, heal thyself and all that.

Not only does it supposedly get the factory back in production, it also cures "all conditions resulting from derangement and inactivity of the stomach, liver, kidneys and bowels."

And believe me, deranged bowels are nothing to mess with, especially when they don't care whether they live or die. They take hostages, they hole up, and before you know it, SWAT teams are involved, things are exploding left and right, and it doesn't end well for anyone.

Lydia E. Pinkham's Sanative Wash - The smugly smiling picture of Lydia speaks volumes. Or, if not volumes, sentences. Or maybe it's just one sentence. To me, that sentence is, "My toolbox is as clean as a whistle, and it feels fabulous."

I'm not a woman so I don't know a lot about the daily rigors of keeping things daisy-fresh down there in the old Pinkham, but to me it seems like this stuff has a lot of..well, acids in the active ingredients. And a little math and common sense would lead me to believe that:

Acid + Delicate Female Parts = A band I never liked.

They do eventually tell you what you were supposed to sanitize with it, just in case it wasn't obvious from Lydia's smiling face. I think they had to spell it out because it's conceivable that if you didn't know, you could be happily washing your face with the stuff.

Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic - This one was lighter on the alcohol, being for babies and all, but heavier on the corn syrup. It supposedly cures the chills and fever associated with malaria.

Judging by the picture, and the tagline next to it that says "Original Laughing Baby Trademark" I can only assume one of these things is true -- (1) people had horrifically ugly children back then, or (2) this stuff has some nasty side effects.

But it is pleasant and effective, even if it does eventually make your baby look like a 35-year-old laughing midget with a receding hairline. Is it just me, or does he look like he should be smoking a cigar and running a pawn shop?

Oh, and it's tasteless. If you don't count the lemon flavoring.

Which, when it comes to malaria remedies, I never do.

*I think I might have it.


Please god, not the hole in one.

Recently I flew out to the old corporate headquarters for a little "team bonding" which involved playing two games -- one of which I was familiar with and one of which I was not. The one I was familiar with is called "golf" and the one I was not familiar with is called "cornhole." You probably think that sounds like a painful and unpleasant thing that you should go to great lengths to avoid playing ever in your life, and you would be absolutely correct.

Being from New York, I had never heard of this game. I guess it's big in Scranton because people were incredibly good at it. They brought their own homemade cornhole boards, that's how hardcore they are. What is cornholing, you ask? Well, it's when one inmate commits to a verbal 'contract' with another inmate whereupon he is provided 'protection' in exchange for...no wait -- that's the wrong one.

Much to my relief, it was fairly innocuous and not at all painful, unless you count the acute pain I felt for the lost dignity of those people actually playing. In this instance, cornholing is the act of throwing a bean bag, (or if you are playing with a bunch of professionals, an actual corn bag) at a slanted piece of wood with a hole in it.

There are all sorts of complicated and arcane rules that I really didn't pay attention to because I wasn't playing. From what I gather, it's similar to Jarts except there's no drunkenly launched steel-pointed projectiles flying through the air. With no chance of witnessing an inadvertent impaling, I lost interest pretty quickly.

I was, however, extremely relieved to find out that (1) You weren't forced to play, and (2) It was nothing like I expected.

To give you a sense of my relief, I drew it in picture form:

I have to say the high point for me was this conversation with my boss:

Me: The boards your husband made keep collapsing.

Her: Why? What's wrong with them?

Me: I don't know. I think it's cuz all these guys are professionals and they're just pounding the crap out of your cornhole.

Her: That is just so wrong in so many different ways.

The golfing was a lot of fun. We played a scramble, and I did better than I thought I was going to, since I haven't picked up a golf club in about 10 years. I quit when it became really popular because I was wasting too much time and money on it, and I couldn't stand the way our local public course was turning into a country club. I think I may have to give it another try though.

Special Dark was on my team, which really made the whole thing worthwhile. Even if I never got to swing a club, it would have been worth the 18 bucks just to see him shank three shots in a row straight into the woods and then completely lose his shit and heave his golf club into the next fairway. The other guy on our team had never been golfing before, and a lot of the time it was like watching a cartoon. He'd wind up, swing as hard as he could, completely miss the ball, and then spin around so hard he'd practically screw himself into the ground.

All it needed was manic piano music.


I would like a camp on a lake, please.

Last weekend my friend and I spent all day Saturday replacing the ghetto stairs. We ended up having to construct the new stairs in the empty stairwell because we figured out that they wouldn't come up from the basement -- or in from outside -- if they were in one piece. It's a long, boring story that has to do with modular houses and the way they are bolted together in the center.

My legs and shoulders were sore for two days, all from squatting like a constipated troll on a narrow platform under the stairs and hammering in 60 or so wedges at impossibly weird angles. These angles, incidentally, resulted in me pounding the living shit out of my own hand approximately 97 times. Anyway, they're done:



My wife and I returned from a week's vacation on Friday, and I have a lot of stories that I will, in the not too distant future, attempt to weave into amusing tales for your reading pleasure. We had a lot of fun exploring a couple of different lakes around upstate NY and Vermont, and had almost perfect weather all week.

I still have vacation head, so it's going to take me a while to get back into this blogging thing. In the meantime, I have two questions for you.

One, wouldn't it suck if you were this guy and you had a tiny wiener?

And two, why the hell didn't they sell these things when I was a kid in high school?

For full comedic effect, read the "Feature" list out loud using a fake chinese accent, paying close attention to the creative punctuation.

Remember, more than a handful in wasted.


On Reflection*

I know everyone thinks they have good taste -- even though they mostly don't.

Luckily, my wife and I share the same taste in decorating -- not too modern, not too "country" -- maybe a bit too much toward the antiques-and-farmhouses side of things. I say that simply to enforce the fact that normally, I am OK with whatever home decorations my wife wants to indulge in.

I will admit that I like things less cluttered than she does (my office/music room/library notwithstanding). I don't like knickknacks on tables and counters. In the kitchen, for instance, I am not a fan of decorative bottles of olive oil that you will never, ever open and use, or fancy bottles of assorted sizes with absolutely nothing in them that just sit there looking pretty and take up valuable counter space.

That holds true in the bathroom as well. Our bathroom isn't too bad in that regard -- most of what's in there serves a useful purpose. Magazine rack: check. Candles and air-fresheners: check. Toothbrush holder and soap dispenser: check.

It's when we get to the back of the toilet that I have a problem. Here is the current decorating scheme:

I know what you're all thinking. "That's not too bad," you say inside your heads. Or maybe outside your heads if you've been living alone for a while.

But let me break it down for you.

Everyone reading this knows what the Kleenex is for -- it's mostly there for when you don't realize there's no toilet paper until it's too late. At least that's my theory, which has been proven to be true on multiple occasions. But the mirror? I'm not really clear on that. I suppose if you were a woman, you might want to check your makeup while sitting on the pot. I'm sure it's been done, however not being a woman and generally not wearing makeup, I've never tried it. That's not the problem, however.

The problem is this:

If you are between 5'6" and 5'10"* and standing where one would normally stand to take a piss, you have a pretty good chance of getting a free show -- one in which your penis gets top billing.

That is not a show I want to see on a regular basis. Or on any basis for that matter. It's bad enough I have to look down at it for control purposes, but I don't feel the need to simultaneously cover two different angles. I'm peeing, not creating performance art.

One Thanksgiving, my brother Houdini came back after a trip to the bathroom looking a little disconcerted. He walked over to me and asked quietly, "So what's with the dick mirror?" I just shrugged, pointed toward the kitchen, and told him to go ask my wife.

I am tempted to put a sticker on it that says "WARNING: OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE LARGER THAN THEY APPEAR" just to make myself feel better. I also recently discovered that there is a magnifying mirror on the other side, so for obvious reasons I keep flipping it around. My wife keeps flipping it back. I'm not sure why.

I am taking a little break for about a week, so I'll see you all after the intermission. And if you can stand to do it one last time, go here and vote for me. It's the last couple hours. Thanks for helping me win the $50 (I'm jumping the gun a bit, here but...). Now help me decide where to donate it.

*The title of this post comes from a Gentle Giant song. The lyrics are not intended to be penis-related.
*or over 6' and particularly well-endowed