Just call me Johnny Astro.

When I was a kid, this was one of my favorite toys:

Basically it was a ducted fan with a throttle and a joystick that allowed you to fly a weighted balloon around in a column of air. If you're familiar with the Bernoulli effect, you know how it works. It's basically the same way an airplane gets off the ground.

I know it sounds really boring compared to the toys kids have today, but back then it was almost like magic. You could actually fly it around in circles, out to about five feet, and then by dropping the throttle speed you could bring it back in for a landing. There were two flat "planets" (sold separately) that I didn't have, but really wanted. Somewhere, I have a picture of me playing with this toy. Here's the commercial that suckered me in - hook, line and sinker.

This Christmas, I decided to get myself a little gift, and I have a vintage Johnny Astro on its way to my house as we speak. They were pretty hard to control, but I have faith that if the six-year-old me could get it to fly around, then I'll still have the knack. (I hope it works out better than the japanese flute I bought. I still can't get that thing to make a noise that doesn't sound like geese sex. I'm clearly doing it wrong.)

Thinking about this toy led me on a toy hunt of sorts, and I started googling every toy I had as a kid. The first mechanical toy I have clear memories of playing with was called "Clancy the Great." He was a roller-skating chimpanzee, and he stood almost as high as I did:

I was probably only two years old at the time, and Clancy scared the living shit out of me. There were two ways to get Clancy to do his thing -- either grab his hand and push a button on his palm, which was supposed to make him skate beside you, or put his hat in his hand and then drop a coin into it, which would close the contact between the two metal studs and start him skating on his own. He had a creepy, sliding gait and his right arm and his head moved back and forth, while his hat arm stood perfectly still.

I'd sneak up on him from behind, throw the coin in his hat and then run away screaming like the hounds of hell were chasing me. I was certain that Clancy was right on my tail. I wouldn't go near him again until he ran into a wall and stopped. It was the best and most horrible toy I had. I wanted him to be my friend so we could do things together, but I was also scared he would kill me in my sleep.

During the day, he looked friendly, but there was something about him at night:

At night, he looked like he knew something you didn't. He'd just stand in the corner of my room, silently staring at me until I made my mother throw a blanket over him. It didn't help.

More toys tomorrow. I have a feeling I'm going to go broke on e-bay.

This never even crossed my mind before today.

It's like my magazine rack is a pervert.


A Simple Flowchart.

About a year ago, I created this for the loud, annoying guy in a cube near mine who has no "inside voice." I had forgotten all about it until I was doing a search on my hard drive for a particular graphic file.

I figure I'm probably not the only one with a need for something like this, so I thought I'd share. I never actually used it, because I moved to a different cube to avoid going postal. Your mileage may vary. Don't get face-punched is all I'm saying.


I wish cowboy boots were back in style.

Once upon a time, back in the early 80's, cowboy boots were in style. I alternately loved and hated this, for a few reasons. Let me start by telling you that I wore cowboy boots pretty much exclusively from 7th grade until I was a senior in high school. For four long years, I took a lot of shit for wearing them, because nobody else did. I didn't tell anyone why, but they probably figured it out anyway. It was my answer to being short.

The cowboy boots gave you an extra two or three inches in height, and once platform shoes went out of style in the late 70's the western footwear was my only option that didn't involve me slow dancing with my face buried in my girlfriend's boobs. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, however it did make hugging her mom pretty awkward.

When the Urban Cowboy movie hit in 1980, suddenly everyone was wearing cowboy boots, and my days of artificial heightening were over. I was back to being short on the relative scale, but on the bright side, at least nobody was making fun of me for wearing cowboy boots anymore.

You're probably asking yourself why I'm telling you this. The answer: Socks. It all has to do with socks. Because I wore high cowboy boots for so long, I got used to wearing high socks. You can't wear short socks inside cowboy boots because it just feels weird. Eventually the entire sock will end up as a sweaty cotton lump crammed into the toe of your boot and this is obviously not comfortable. So I would buy those over-the-calf gym socks that went almost up to my knees because they never fell down.

So that brings us to today. I still wear high socks. Yes, I'm a geek. To be fair, I don't wear them to the gym, and I only wear them with long pants. I just cannot wear short socks. They drive me nuts. I can't stand the way they feel, like they're always bagging up on me and threatening to fall down. I swear, I should just get a pair of these:

As a result, my wife is always on the hunt for what they call "full length" gym socks instead of what they commonly refer to as "calf-length" which makes no fucking sense whatsoever, because, as far as I know, your calves normally go all the way up to your knees whereas these piece of shit socks do not. They should call them "half-calf socks that fall down every 30 seconds so you have to stop whatever you're doing and pull them up again" but then nobody would buy them.

She's come home with dozens of different brands over the years. Some start off with potential, but then they turn out to be a letdown. The elastic goes, they're just a bit too short, or something is wrong in the toe area. (She once brought home socks that had rectangular toes. They were basically tubes that were sewed straight across on one end.) Then these rejects sit in one of my drawers collecting (or is that making?) lint.

Sometimes when we need to do laundry, I'll be forced to dig into the drawer of hideous cast-offs because there are no other socks, and today was one of those days.

Today, I was reminded that not only has she come home with rejects that were too short, but also these, which I am wearing as I type this:

They are practically support hose. Ridiculous. I have to fold them in half just so I can bend my legs. They do make me feel kinda sexy though.


I'm going to share this last item with you because it made me laugh. If my boss is reading this, it seriously took me about 60 seconds to do, so don't dock my pay. It turns out I'm practically Eminem.

I'm on a team at work that has the acronym of EME, or Electronic Messaging & Engineering. We currently use an old version of Lotus Notes, and are planning on upgrading soon. This morning, one of the guys on my team who is in charge of this upgrade wrote an e-mail message to everyone this morning because he was going to be a little late. It looked like this:

I am running late be in by 8.

I couldn't just let that go. So, obviously, I did what anyone would do and immediately sent him this reply:

Don't hate
Just because I deviate
from the arbitrary time
of Mr. Slate
The man
who pays my rate
while I create
the orderly state
of EME while my
peeps wait
for the date
they get Notes 8.


He didn't answer my email. I think it's because he's a lot younger than me and might not know who Mr. Slate is. At least that's my theory.

P.S. - Thank you to everyone who has bought the book so far. It's doing pretty well, considering I don't know what the hell I'm doing in regards to promotion. And thanks for the typo lists. I'll be fixing them in the print version in a week or so. The Kindle version should already be fixed.


I need professional help.

OK, maybe just regular help. With three things, actually.

A bunch of you bought the book. (Thank you!!) I'm assuming some of you may have even read it by now. First, if you liked it (or even if you thought it didn't suck) please leave a review on Amazon if you can.

Second, if you see any typos, let me know. I've only gotten feedback from one person about one typo they've noticed so far. (Apparently, I managed to spell the word dynamics as "dymanics," which is just stupid. It's not stupid that I reversed the letters, it's stupid that I didn't see the obvious red underline that my spell checker used in a vain attempt to get me to notice my blunder. It reminded me of this.)

I can't read the book accurately any more because I've seen it too many times. But with new eyes (yours) I can fix any typos and get new files uploaded. To fix them on the Kindle version is easy, as the original just stays for sale until the new one is out there. The printed book is a little harder, in that it takes the book out of commission for a week or so, and I don't want to do that until after Christmas. So I guess you could call the versions that I've sold so far "collector's editions" if you want to be generous, or "screw ups" if you want to be truthful. I'll refer to it as the "Dymanic Edition."

Third, If any of you reading this has a blog, a facebook page, or a telephone pole you like to nail shit to, I'd be eternally grateful if you could possibly mention my book and link to it on Amazon.

OK, I'm done begging now. Thanks!

ps - I was #4 on Amazon's "Hot New Releases" list today in the "Parenting and Family Humor" category. I think there may be some angry soccer moms writing to me in a few weeks.


The way my mind works.

The other night, I was sitting in front of the television eating dinner and watching Two-and-a-Half Men. You cannot escape that show. It's ALWAYS ON. While I actually sort of liked it in the early days, it seems as though it (as all sitcoms eventually do) has become a parody of itself, and probably should have been canceled by now.

In the intro of the newer run of shows, they do this freaky morphing thing when the three of them are singing the theme song and the kid Jake goes from being about six years old to 16, or whatever he's supposed to be now. As I sat there watching something I knew was going to be painful, for no good reason other than I was too lazy to look for something else to watch, I had the following thoughts:

(1) Damn, how much longer can this show stay on the air?
(2) What if this trash stays on the air for another 30 years?
(3) By that time, they'd probably have to change the show's name to "One Men."
(4) They'd have to work on that morph, too.


The Republic of Bananas

I opened my wife's Banana Republic bill yesterday, and I saw this printed on it:

I'm not sure what that's supposed to be.

Is it supposed to be a very round lipstick kiss? A bow on a present? What?

I know what it looks like, but I'm pretty sure that's not what they were going for. I think this week there's probably going to be a staff meeting at Banana Republic, and the Director of Marketing is going to ask, "Who thought it would be a good idea to send a picture of a cat's asshole to 120,000 of our customers?"

Someone will not be getting a bonus this year.

Now I'm afraid to open my Gap bill. What if it's scratch-n-sniff?


I Live......Again.......

Update: Now available at Amazon, too. Those guys like to under promise and over deliver.

For all you people that like to hold actual paper in your hot little hands, here's the real deal.

The printed version of the book is now available in my CreateSpace store and from Amazon.com. The Amazon option has free shipping if you spend over $25.

Honestly, I get a bigger piece of the pie ($6 vs. $3) when you buy directly from Createspace, but it's completely up to you.

I've also ordered a small quantity to have on hand in case anyone wants me to write something ridiculous in their copy. I'm not sure how soon I'll have them though. Perhaps in time for Christmas, or perhaps not. I hope so.

This version has at least one less typo than the Kindle version because a few people who bought the Kindle version gave me a heads up and I fixed it. I'm OCD like that. Also, it was in the Introduction. I might be able to live with a typo 200 pages in, but seriously, the second page? No way I could let that sit there and nibble chunks out of my soul every day. The downside is, I'll have about 25 copies of what I call "the very expensive mistake - typo edition" sitting on my porch sometime this week.

I've decided to have a contest to give some of these away. It could be fun. But then again, at one point I also decided to type the word "I'll" instead of the word "I'm" so I can't really be trusted in matters such as these.

I was going to have a contest to see who could find the most mistakes, but then I figured that would just depress me. But I'll think of something.

Enjoy! And thanks again for your support!


Look what I just bought.

No, not the Kindle. Look at what's on it.

Yes, my first customer was me. I clicked a single button, and through the magic of modern radio tube technology, I bought my own book. Also, I can't believe there's no way for you to reliably test out your book without actually buying a copy.

So for all three of you guys who use the Kindle, you can get my book right now for the amazing low, low price of only $4.95 by going here. I bow to the sub-$5 price point. Also, don't forget that you can give Kindle content as a gift now. So spring it on someone you love. Or hate. I don't care.

However, before you spend your hard-earned cash, let me tell you what's in it. People who have been hanging around in my doorway for the last five years have heard most of these stories before, since they came from my blog. They've been tightened up and added to, and there are also a couple of new stories, and a new introduction for each section. And I don't want to over-sell this, but you also get original artwork. Think of it this way: If you drink Starbucks coffee, you'll pay that much for a double-shot venti soy mocha. This book should give you at least that much bang for the buck. Also in it: Typos. Those are free.

Feel free to review it after you're done. Even if you hate it. On second thought, scratch that. I don't want your crappy reviews spoiling things when the print version becomes available. That would be like standing outside of the carnival sideshow tent like this:

Personally, I think you should hold off for the printed version. The cover looks better.


Nest of Junk Mail.

Our mailman is a giant pain in my ass. For some reason, he can't just place our mail gently in our gigantic, cavernous rural mailbox. He has to wind up like a major league pitcher and throw it in. This means I can't pull up to the mailbox in my car and grab the mail, because I don't have the arms of Mr. Fantastic. All my mail is cowering against the back wall of the box like it's afraid of light. I have to get out of my car, which makes me cranky, especially if it's raining or snowing.

This is the same mailman who is so lazy he won't drive up to the house to leave an over-sized package on the porch. I realize I'm calling him lazy when I don't even want to get out of my car to get the mail, but he's a special case. Instead of putting the package on the porch, he'll open the mailbox, balance the package on the open door, and wrap a rubber band around it. Doesn't matter if it's raining or snowing -- I'll just find it there when I get home. He actually left boxes in the snowbank last year because the plow had gone by and blocked our mailbox with snow. He also somehow manages to get actual important mail stuck inside the mail order catalogs. I think he does it on purpose because we get too many boxes that make him have to walk to the porch. It's no wonder the post office is hemorrhaging money.

This time of year, we get about 10 pounds of mail-order catalogs every day. I have no idea why these companies are continuing to do this. I think they should figure out which households have internet connections, and then just stop sending direct mail there. I suppose they keep doing it because they pick up a lot of bathroom browsers.

As I was shaking out our daily load of catalogs, looking for incidental things like bills that have to be paid on time, I stumbled on this picture:

A nest of nativity, if you will. In the second I glanced at it I noticed that something seemed off to me. It's not that they're all the shape of bowling pins, although that's part of it. I think it's that the order is wrong. First, everybody piles in Donkey Joseph. That has to be uncomfortable. And baby Jesus should be in Mary, not two levels down, sitting inside of a shepherd that looks like Tom Welling, if Tom Welling could grow a beard. The wise man wearing the football helmet and holding the Scooby Doo lunchbox has to hold Tom and the baby Jesus, and then jump inside Mary, and that's just no good for anyone.

My considered opinion: The Nativity scene is not optimal for interpretation via Nesting.