Christmas Cards 2008: Card #1

I think I'm going to do a series of these between now and Christmas.

Also, I know you guys are sick of voting for me all over the place, but seriously, 10 grand? Tell ya what -- If I actually win something, I'll put it to a vote here on my blog and donate a bunch of it to the chosen charity. I hope they like giant black olives. Vote for one (or more) of my posts here, but voting for the one with no pic and the title of my blog would be best, since it's got the highest number of the three. This week's votes end on Tuesday night, and there's some woman right on my ass.

I swear, this contest is the last time I'll ask you guys to do anything for me. (Unless I need to be bailed out of jail, of course.)


Get your Festive Flashing Savior Today!

It's that time of year when we start getting about 20 pounds of catalogs in the mail every day. The sheer amount of paper that I throw out every week is truly disgusting -- I wish there were a good way to get off their mailing lists permanently. I know about the DMA, but that didn't do squat for me.

The sad thing is, if they are even remotely interesting, I actually look at them. God knows why, but I do. I think I'm brainwashed somehow, and I have been subliminally programmed to seek out cheap Chinese crap. There's something for everyone, and every taste.

Say, for instance, you're a devout Christian who would love nothing better than to have a full nativity display on your lawn throughout the Christmas season. Since you can't really afford to pay those nutty people at the church who freeze their asses off putting on that live nativity show to stand around on your lawn from 6-11 every night, you decide you're going to get some plastic fantastic holiness. Your first option is to hit up eBay and do a search on "Blow Mold Jesus.*" You'll get all sorts of hits like this one.

(As an aside, I looked at a bunch of those sets while writing this, and all of them have one thing in common, and that one thing is Mary's wild caterpillar eyebrows. No wonder she was a virgin. Also, judging by the size of the "newborn" baby Jesus in that link, I just have to say: Holy crap, Mary, I'm so sorry.)

At any rate, your only other choice besides new or used blow mold is to go 2D. The problem there is, you can't shove a light bulb up their butts to get that holy 60 watts of glow-power, so you have to go through the added hassle of setting up a spot light in front of them.

Until now.

I present to you, the answer to your 2D prayers:

Not only can you get Mary, Jesus and Joseph, you can also get the manger, the wise men and the animals. All with enough lights to make them look like a casino on the Las Vegas strip.

Oh, and apparently you can make them blink. Can you imagine stumbling on that scene when you're least expecting it? Holy Holy epileptic attack, Batman. You'd probably wake up in the hospital mumbling something about a stroboscopic camel and the next thing you know you'd be living someplace where an orderly peels the tinfoil off your dinner every night during the Wheel of Fortune.

Here's the rest of the set:

Is it just me, or do the wise men look like they have super hero capes?

I also love the ad copy:

Please note: Express delivery is completely out of the question. You're going to have to sit your ass down and wait for quality merchandise like this.

This part made me laugh the most: "Reproduce the entire Nativity Scene (or parts of it)."

Like anyone would really order up some weird combination of holy figures.

"Oh, look! It's Jesus and Joseph!"

"Just Joseph?"

"Yeah, I heard there was a nasty break-up. He's a single dad now. It's kinda sad. I feel sorry for the kid."

p.s. - If you're not doing anything, you're all invited to stop by our place for drinks on Christmas eve. Just look for the house with the blinking baby Jesus and his best pal, donkey.

p.p.s - Check out this new site and vote for two of my posts here. I could win some big bucks. Unless, of course, they're lying, which wouldn't surprise me.

*the name of my next band


It's good to be the Agbunag.

OK, to start with, I just read this:

HONOLULU – A 24-year-old woman, on her first trip to Las Vegas, is worrying less about the nation's economy. That's because Jessica Agbunag won $2.4 million on Wednesday at a Wheel of Fortune slot machine at the California Hotel and Casino.

Agbunag, a baby sitter who graduated high school in 2002, was in Las Vegas with her boyfriend and family in remembrance of her grandmother's birthday. Her grandmother was a frequent visitor to Las Vegas who loved slot machines.

The Wheel of Fortune machines were good to Agbunag.

She twice won much smaller amounts earlier this week at the same casino.

But on Wednesday, she inserted $16 into a Mega-Jackpot machine and it hit big. She said she plans to pay off a car and give some money to relatives.

Well, at least now she has the money to buy herself a new last name. WTF.

At any rate, this is never me. I have the absolute worst luck in any sort of game of chance. I buy lottery tickets sometimes, and I think the last time I bought one, I didn't pick a single number correctly. Not one.

I can't say I never win though. I did win something once. When I was a kid, I decided that I was going to enter every contest I could find. Every sweepstakes, every radio giveaway, everything that required sending a proof of purchase or a 3x5 card with my name on it. I drove my mother nuts. I think I probably spent about $200 bucks in postage over a single summer.

Then the big day arrived. The UPS truck pulled up outside our house, and the driver wheeled a giant box up to the door, and it had my name on it. By that time, I had entered so many contests, I had no idea which one had finally paid off. I figured a box that size could only be the grand prize, or maybe even a 1st or second prize. I wasn't picky. I had finally won something. I hauled the box into the kitchen, and I couldn't believe how heavy it was. This was going to be good. I could feel it. I unstrapped the box, and opened it up to reveal.....

4 cases of canned giant black olives. Pitted. I thought my mother was going to piss herself she was laughing so hard. I didn't think it was funny, and I was disappointed for weeks. And of course, every night my mother would ask me if I wanted any olives with dinner.

Lastly, since I don't have anything else ready to go at the moment, I'll share this with you all. My friend is a woodworker, and a while back he got careless and ran his thumb through a table saw. Luckily (?) he did it length-wise and not across, so no digits got flung across the room into the wall or anything. But it was pretty gruesome just the same. He sent me a picture of his thumb after they stitched it back up, and he wanted me to make a sign for his shop, so he would always remember to be careful. Originally we had talked about his thumb in one of those red circles with the line through it, but the more I got thinking about it, the more I thought a poster would do the trick.

Here's what I came up with:

Sorry for that picture. I know it's relatively disgusting. I think I'm going to hang one in my own shop. Because I sorta like my toes.


I'm just a bean.

I found this on my computer today, and it made me laugh, so I figured I'd post it. As all the computer geeks reading this already know, it's where I got my profile tag line. If you haven't seen it, it's from 2000, and still pretty awesome.

I really need to clean my hard drive.


Yesterday floated away

Veteran's Day was a "floater" where I work. That means it's not a day we automatically get as vacation, but if we work it, we get to take another day off at a different time. I guess it's done that way to make sure we have enough coverage since we're open for business, but it does tend to make the day go by without giving it the true attention it deserves.

Even though this post is late, I want to tell you about one of the most special gifts I've ever received.

Born and raised in Italy, my wife's grandfather was sent to this country at the age of seventeen by his father. Two years earlier, Mussolini had invaded Ethiopia, and sending him overseas to America was the only way he knew to keep his boy safe. Italy required mandatory military service from all eligible men, and the writing was on the wall. The year he arrived in the United States, Italy withdrew from the League of Nations, and shortly thereafter, things started going south in a hurry.

He arrived here with almost nothing, and knowing not a single word of English. He got a job as a dishwasher, and learned English by watching five-cent movie matinees between the morning prep and the lunch rush. Serial westerns, mostly, from what he told me. Within the next few years, he became a citizen and worked his way up to become a cook.

On May 18th of 1942, at the age of twenty-two, he was drafted into the United States Army as a Private. He then endured a grueling, 19-day voyage to North Africa, one of thousands of men packed into a ship made to hold hundreds. They slept in 4 hour shifts because there weren't enough berths, most of the time in makeshift hammocks, and shipboard conditions were so unhygienic most men were sick by the time they reached their destination in Casablanca.

I don't know much about WWII and the North African campaign, and I'm sure that I show my ignorance of world history every time I talk to him. He doesn't like to talk about the war, or the part he played in it. Even now, I can see in his eyes that he remembers it like it happened yesterday, and I can tell that he has seen things he would rather forget. I try not to pry, even though my curiosity sometimes gets the better of me. I don't ask him about it much any more, not since the time I saw that my innocent questions had upset him to the point of tears.

I don't know what he experienced. I can't even imagine. But I do know this -- he fought for our country, against his own countrymen -- against the country where all of his family still lived -- because he was an American, and it was required of him. Yes, he was drafted. No, he didn't have a choice. But he did what he had to do, and he did it for his new country, and his new home.

A couple of years ago, he gave me these:

His dog tags and his ID bracelet. I thanked him, and told him that it was an honor. He waved his hand away like it was no big deal. Maybe it wasn't for him, but it certainly was for me.

I called him up on Tuesday, just to tell him I was thinking about him. Even though I never came right out and thanked him for those years of his life sacrificed to make our lives better, I think he knows how I feel.

And to all the rest of the veterans reading this: Thank you.


To end this on a humorous note, one of my favorite family stories is about my wife's great-uncle. He too, served in the US military during WWII, but he wasn't a grunt. He was a Navy man. He also had it pretty rough. How rough, you ask? Well, he served his entire hitch working as a bartender in an officers' club in Hawaii. At first I thought he was a little confused and actually remembering the plot to an Elvis movie, but he has the pictures to prove it. Go figure.


Best Packaging Ever.

I love coffee, so I was pretty happy when Yort got me this for my birthday:

It IS pretty strong, but unfortunately it's not very good. But then again, I like to grind my own, so maybe that's the difference.

Also, for those of you who, like me, hate clowns -- Here's my Halloween jack-o-lantern.

It steals souls.


Barack, Barack Bo-back

I was kinda hoping he'd win, just because his name makes for an awesome version of The Banana song. Don't tell me you didn't think of it too, because I know you're lying. Now you'll be singing it to yourself all week. You're welcome.

I don't usually get political on this here blog. Mostly because I dislike pointless arguments. You're not going to change anyone's mind about politics, religion or abortion, and that's just the way it is, so why bother trying? Live and let live, until someone needs to die. That's my motto.

Another reason I don't talk about my politics is because I can't find a viable political party to belong to. Where does a fiscally conservative, gun-toting, pro-choice, pro-military, anti-socialist agnostic fit? Remember, I said viable. To me, current dems and republicans are just two sides of the same coin, and I'm not sure either of them stands for the same things they did back when JFK was around. I'd bet my paycheck he wouldn't even recognize his own party. Hell, he'd probably be considered a republican now.

And what the fuck happened to being a conservative democrat or a liberal republican? When did everything get so split down the middle and black and white? My theory: Democracy only works until the people with nothing outnumber the people with something, and then the candidate that promises the most free stuff gets elected.

I'm hoping Obama will be different. I'm not holding my breath, however. Other than his funkycool name, here's a few other good things about his victory:

(1) No more calls to my unlisted phone number for at least four years. I came home from work one day, and had 30 minutes of a live town hall clogging up my answering machine. I should be able to kick someone in the nuts for that.

(2) Certain liberal democrat celebrities will FINALLY stop whining about "stolen elections" and "Fascism."

(3) Finally! For fuck's sake, it's been 8 years. Shut up.

(4) No chance of McCain kicking off and leaving us with President Hockey Mom. Maybe if I had heard her speak at least once where she didn't mention her kids or hockey it would have been different. But when the shit hits the fan, I just couldn't picture her stepping up. Plus, that whole fruit fly thing made me seriously question her intelligence.

(5) The first black president. Although to be fair, it's not like we elected 50cent or JayZ. Obama is practically whiter than I am, but still. Pretty cool.

OK, I've donned my flame retardant suit. Have at me, if you must. You're not the boss of me.

ps -- Tim Robbins -- shut it, douchebag. If it had been done intentionally, why do it to you, of all people? Would "they" do it intentionally to someone who still (barely) has the public recognition and star-power clout to do something about it on the spot? No, they'd pick some nobody with no recourse. A vote is a vote, and contrary to what you might think, yours doesn't count any more than anyone else's. (Loved you in Shawshank!) [edit: ok, in the 2nd article I linked to (the first one went dead) he did say it appeared to be random.]

pps - Everyone who hasn't, go read Atlas Shrugged. Right now. And then just keep your eyes open for the next 4 years. Get out and vote (for me).