28 November 2009

Did you hear the secret about some stores having pretty big sales?

I don't know how you all do it in other countries, but here in America, today is the day that begins this magical time of selfless giving in the most frantic, sleep-deprived, violent way possible.

That's right, sharpen your elbows, cause it's time for... what's that? The day after Thanksgiving passed and took with it all those unbelievable deals?? Damn.

Oh, yeah, that's right... THAT'S what my wife was doing while I was sleeping yesterday... Saving almost $2000 on appliances we needed to buy for our new house anyway. Thanks, desperate retailers of America!

And a special thanks to you, Sears, for narrowly winning your own battle against poor planning and organization to barely not totally mess everything up!

As for you, readers, even if you think you could never be lured down from your lofty position of righteous judgment --a seat I kept warm for many years-- into the fray that is Black Friday, I urge you to at least consider bypassing all that famous interminable-waiting and running and scratching and occasional-murdering while still getting almost all the other benefits-- shop online!

The best part is, when you're online, Black Friday isn't just Friday, so this post is still useful and timely!

Yes, awaken yourselves from those tryptophan-induced comas and remember the spirit of the season: buying more things than anyone would ever need for everyone you know (not forgetting that you are the first person you ever knew), and singlehandedly reviving a sagging economy somehow by demanding to pay retailers less than their cost for a choice selection of the most-wanted consumer goods.

In that very sacred vein, I point you in this direction, to my good friend and partner Amazon, which is offering unbelievably amazing prices for many, many different products this week:

I've only just begun my shopping there for this year, but as long as you don't buy the last thing of something I didn't know I wanted yet, I won't have to track you down and push-trip you while you're triumphantly carrying it from the mailbox a few days later.

Happy shopping!

FULL DISCLOSURE: I might come trip you anyway, just for old time's sake-- you just can't get that full experience online!

Also, as always, I do receive a commission for anything you purchase at Amazon as long as you get there from my site, but don't let that make you think I didn't get involved with them only because I know all sane people shop there at least sometimes, except for those who just haven't seen the light yet. Come into the light!

23 November 2009

Classic quotes, Vol. 20

Here's the latest batch of quotes from my wife J-, my 5-year-old son D-, my 2-year-old daughter M-, and me:

D- (talking about his "girlfriend" of the last month or so): Jessenia and I are going to get married. And then we're going to have a baby. (I ask him what they'll name it) Ummm, Joseph... Toys.

M- (on toilet, happily): Something's coming out... (mischievously) Guess what it is??

Me (getting a look from J- after I jokingly joined her in scolding herself for dropping pictures behind the scalding radiator): What?! I thought we were berating you as a couple for your clumsiness!

D- (casually telling my mom about his abovementioned girlfriend): Yeah, we're in love, so we're going to get married. (remembering) Oh, and I'm also going to marry Naya!

M- (rightfully infuriated with D-): No D-, those are mine! (he gleefully ignores her) Stop it! (lunging towards him with outstreched hands) I will choke you!

21 November 2009

Working undercover as a scatterbrain

If you've been wondering for the past few months why I haven't been stopping by your blog anymore, fearing it was a devastating social rejection by the coolest person you know,* worry not. It wasn't, and what's more, you're not alone.

Yes, the now-two-and-a-half-month process of trying to buy a house out in the country has been sucking up my time as hard as... the now-two-and-a-half-month process of trying to buy a house out in the country.

To clarify, when I say "a house", I don't mean, "any house", I mean one specific house, for which we officially signed a contract over two months ago.

My life has been a long, tortuous series of ups and downs, brokers and insurers, negotiations and extensions, approvals and denials, and disclosures and contingencies. Did I forget to mention forced humility?

Yes, I sympathize with my invisible sisters, the stay-at-home moms sitting on the sidelines while The Wage Earners sign paperwork to buy themselves cool stuff like cars and houses, which they'll share with us only at their pleasure. Or, at least, that's how the lenders would have us all see it.

Doesn't rescuing many thousands of dollars a year of my wife's salary count as my income, for all intents and purposes? Or how about my dozens of dollars a month in blog-related revenue? Maybe I'll just let my friend Mr. Washington negotiate with these people for me, to smooth my path back to legitimacy in the eyes of society.

Hey, let me tell you, I can always spare a couple of ad clicks (a.k.a. a week's salary) for such a noble, self-interested cause.

Anyway, I offer this page as proof of my blogging-slacking-off claims. For my (surely) dozen or so stalkers out there: you're welcome.

And for the rest of you, please accept my awkward apologies, aw-shucks expression, and pathetic groveling for forgiveness. If, in the recent past or in the coming days, I don't seem to acknowledge some major change in your life, it's just because I probably didn't read or hear about it yet, but rest assured I feel far more guilty for that than you or your devoutly Catholic grandmother could ever try to make me.

Just fill me in on what I might have missed!

* I mean me. You don't perceive it by any normal human senses or your logic-processing faculties, but I am in fact extremely cool. Kind of like discovering that light is a series of particles that move in waves, you have to totally adjust your perspective to see a brand-new, mind-bending reality. See how cool I am already?

18 November 2009

Book Review: Spongebob's Feelin' It!

When you see this, the cover of the infant-tactile-stimulation book SpongeBob's Feelin' It!, are you as unnerved as I am at this answer to the question, "What is SpongeBob doing when he's not filming his show?"

Book cover of How did this pass all of the various committees that surely had to approve its creation? Are they even paying attention anymore, when they're not busy cashing checks labeled "SpongeBob Toothbrushes", "SpongeBob Glucose Monitors", and "Actual Square Pants"?

I mean, just look at that satisfied smile on his bucktoothed face! Chilling.

Then again, haven't you always wanted to find out exactly what kind of pants those famous trousers are? Corduroy? Canvas? Chino? Well, SpongeBob really wants you to find out.

Not unlike my previous experience with the book I Went Walking, I'm too terrified to open this one up to find out what's inside.

But I know someone who's not: whoever belongs to those little eye stalks peeking over the arm of the chair...

You may enjoy my previous attempts at book reviews. I'll write one someday that might actually be useful for someone, somehow.

16 November 2009

Amusing searches, Vol. 4

Here are some of the most amusing searches that brought people here recently, this time collected under the very simple theme of Herpes.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: I must warn you against using Google without at least some kind of keyboard cover-- it seems to be the ringleader in spreading herpes across the Internet.

(All search strings are reprinted exactly as they were entered.)

can a dog give you herpes and can dogs give you herpes - Yes, these were two distinct searches.* All I'll say in answer is, if you find yourself driven to search the globe for this particular bit of information, I'm pretty sure the answer should not be your biggest concern in life. Even on the loneliest of Saturday nights, guys, you should probably just... fly solo on this mission.**

herpes and swine fluswine flu Herpesherpes swine flu [etc.] - Granted, I did pair these two afflictions in my post on swine flu, but since you're the ones earnestly seeking information, only I'm in the position to demand an explanation.

Are you worried swine flu's gonna turn your herpes sores into pork snouts, or something? Don't forget about your chicken pox. And acne. And anal warts that you just can't quite see or feel. I swear I'm sorry to add to your irrational fears. Really.

do pigs have herpes? - Isn't that kind of an overly generic question whose answer ("well, yes, they can... but like you, they don't necessarily") paints pigs in an unfair light? Those guys have it pretty bad as it is, what with all that Semitic and Islamic disdain... talk about a backhanded compliment-- "I will never eat you! ...But only because you are too disgusting to eat."

We should all be so lucky.

purell herpes - No. Just no. I'm sorry, but you'll need at least slightly stronger protection.

Or, you could not trust my judgment, and start taking a daily $200 bath in hand sanitizer and figure you're then rendered immortal.

eatng out can give you herpies - (Wayne, NJ) Just what the ladies want guys to start rallying around! That is, assuming this searcher's talking about female humans. Given some of the other herpies-/sex-related searches --robots, pigs, dogs, toilet seats-- I can't be totally sure. It's all merely a moot point***, though, because pretty much everything in New Jersey can give you herpes anyway.

Also, for the record, I think your spelling of herpies is tremendously more endearing than the boring old herpes. That way, the germs seem like puppies or kitties! The International Herpes Council, which is now commanded to exist if it didn't already, really needs to get on this change immediately.

* Based on their word choice, I'd say one's in love, and the other wants to play the field. Or dog park, I should say.

** Particularly you, Mr. Palmerton, Pennsylvania. Look to your town's founding fathers for guidance!

*** In using this word, I can't help but note that the word "moot" actually means "debatable", not "meaningless", which is how it is often used. So most of the time people invoke the label, they're not adding anything at all to what is already a debate over said point.

You wouldn't hit a man with glasses, would you?

13 November 2009

A conversation between M- and D-: Now thar's a handsome woman

Here's a little conversation I overheard the other day between my 5-year-old son D- and my 2-year-old daughter M-, while they were sitting on the floor getting dressed:

D- (innocently): You look handsome today, M-.

M- (lovingly but firmly correcting him): No. I'm pretty! Not handsome.

D- (seeing a chance to frustrate her): I'm pretty, you're handsome.

M- (getting riled up, but still just extremely insistent): Noooo!!! Handsome is for boys, pretty is for girls, so I'm pretty, and you are handsome.

D- (scrambling for a BS explanation, just like his old man would): No. ...

M- (shouting now): YES!! Handsome is for boys and you will be in trouble for saying a girl is handsome!

You may enjoy my previous D- conversations, (2YO daughter) M- conversations, and (wife) J- conversations.

11 November 2009

They never specified "Veterans" of what

As the Calendar Gods grant all Americans (except my mom, as usual) a rare Wednesday off from work and school (or, for some of us, from not neglecting the care of children), I think it's important that we all take at least a few moments to remember who this Veterans Day is really about: Me.

How is this day about me, you ask? In what branch of the military did I serve? Well, that's a complicated question, in one sense. In another, more realistic sense, the fact that I never served is not complicated at all.

But let's look past that technically unanswered question to the most pertinent issue-- I work really hard, kind of, and I sacrifice a lot day in and day out, kind of. I've been the victim of so-called friendly fire as well as, more commonly, heavy enemy fire, in the form of fists, feet, land mines, food, toys, and bodily substances.

I don't think I need to remind you that many of these missiles have been aimed at my eyes and/or nuts.

So for obvious reasons, I could really use this day off, from... sitting around the house with the kids..... dammit.

Now that D-'s in kindergarten, this "day off" school actually means I'll be facing an even greater armed resistance, with reinforcements even better trained in the deadly and disgusting arts.

This makes me fear that while you sit at home yourselves today, you'll be wondering the whole time if I'll survive long enough to post on Friday. I assure you, though, I've got a few tricks up my sleeve, and treats in my belly* (thanks, Halloween!), so I'm sure I'll be fine no matter what they throw at me. Literally or figuratively.

So I suggest you change your usual plans for that time from focusing on me to an even more worthy cause-- remembering and thanking those men and women who have so proudly volunteered** to continue sheltering this American experiment that has led the world to a brighter future over the last 233 years.

They sign up for the ultimate sacrifice, and we should always make sure they never have to make it.

* The latter will help me outlast any forced starvation efforts before the kids themselves need their next meal prepared.

** I include in this, of course, those who were drafted into service or involuntarily reactivated.

NOTE: While you're remembering the sacrifices of our armed forces, also remember that today would be Madeline Spohr's second birthday. Please stop by her mom's blog to help celebrate Madeline's short but eventful life.

09 November 2009

Kids are nature's way of overwhelming your gag reflex

For those of you who don't have children, or those who just haven't found out quite yet, somehow, I have a very special bulletin for you.

Children are, as a species, probably the most disgusting beings on Earth, with the tie-breaking edge being handed to them over the dung beetle only because their cute, innocent looks and demeanors really blindside you with the scandalous truth.

I mean, you don't know how many times you'll have to ask them, whether an infant or a first-grader, to stop graphically tonguing the handle of a shopping cart, especially if it's got crevices (thanks Target).

A typical run-in with a child might involve you asking what the strange, unpleasant odor is, and receiving an answer to the effect of, "Ummm, my butt was itchy so I put my hand in it to scratch it, and yes, I then handled my sandwich (and/or yours) and chips, which I retrieved myself from the bag. ... Yes, I will remove the hand from my mouth."

And, let me tell you, this information will be delivered sheepishly only if your questions or tone suggest there's something wrong with the situation.

Before you think, "Oh, ha-ha, I get it-- this one event happened to Dan and now he's making a post generalizing the idea as a method of telling us about it," let me assure you, this particular sequence did NOT happen to me as described above, it's actually portions of multiple (and redundant) incidents combined for expediency's sake.

And the basic idea behind it is just the first one that sprung to mind! Yes, that's right, there are many, many more. But you don't need to hear all those. You should just take my word for it, there's a reason you don't get sick more often than you do now-- you were a child once, and you were disgusting.

06 November 2009

Corporate intelligence, Vol. 10: We're number -1, we're number -1!

I'm filing this one in the No Press is Bad Press folder:

While perusing the Web to find out if there was already a pitchfork-wielding mob I could join on the march to the Frankenstein's Castle of whoever makes those TVs at gas stations and grocery store lines, or if I'd just have to start my own, Google brought me to GSTV.com.

GSTV stands for Gas Station TeleVision, which, as far as I can tell, is a company that supplies content for the TVs in gas stations and, presumably, other totally inappropriate locations.

But the page to which I was pointed was not their splash page, designed to sell me on the idea of not cursing the waking nightmare this concept has wrought, but rather to a (authorized?) reprinting of a Wall Street Journal article in which the company is mentioned.

The article, despite the WSJ's "pro-business" bent, is distinctly hostile to the very idea of this company, starting with the title, I Don't Want My GSTV, and ending on this gem with which I couldn't agree more:

Before allowing me to complete my transaction, the pump TV asked me whether I was hungry and exhorted me to go inside to check out the snacks in the minimart. I wasn't, but it did make me wonder -- do they sell hammers in there? There's a TV I'd like to smash.

I'm thinking someone down at headquarters needs to call a meeting to pass a motion to consider implementing a new policy of manual review of the automatic feed to this section of the Web site.

04 November 2009

Pretend it's still Halloween with me!

In case you're breathing a sigh of relief that, after hours of painstakingly inspecting, and possibly dissecting, your children's Halloween candy, they were not near-victims of some dastardly neighborhood psychopath, I just thought I'd like to share with you the secret fact that No one has ever found an actual razor or pin or anything similar in a piece of Halloween candy from a stranger. Ever.

This is decades-old madness, so people need to relax and be sensible. Teach your kids what skeevy-looking candy is, and that they should set it aside for you to dispose of. If need be, offer a per-piece financial incentive like my mom used to for our Halloween gum haul.* And if you're smart, make sure to identify some of your favorites as the skeeviest of all.

But Dan, you say, you just finally eased our minds by saying the candy was safe! Why not tell the kids to down those skeevy pieces? We know how you hate waste in all its forms.

Well, I didn't say the candy was safe, per se, I just said no strangers are putting razor blades in their candy. For one thing, do you know how expensive that would get? Not to mention ridiculously laborious. And what would come of that anyway, a cut lip? Other than your "husky" son who's half boa constrictor, of course.

One body who's always itching to find the answer to a juicy what-if like this is your friendly neighborhood corporation, passing off production to whatever distant land offers the sweetest deal, then rewarding them by promptly squeezing them incessantly for increased profits until they're forced to stir in some surplus metal filings and actual razor blades to thicken up those goddamn lollipops that have to cost no more than 0.000008 cents each.**

One more thing that bugs me, since I'm already pre-wound for a tirade:

This paragraph (all errors and style choices are theirs...) is from my son's elementary school newsletter a couple weeks before Halloween, and it left my jaw hanging open. I'm not exaggerating-- as you might imagine, I often rant at inanimate objects in the privacy of my own home, but this one left me searching (still) fruitlessly for the right words to express all the feelings it stirs in me:

As your child begins to think about what he/she wants to be for Halloween please be mindful of appropriate costumes for school. [...] Students choosing to wear a costume for the Halloween party and parade should wear costumes that portray positive images. Scary, grotesque or negative costumes are not acceptable and will not be allowed. Please make certain your child's costume does not include:

• Toy weapons or look alike weapons
• Masks
• Gadgets that show blood, etc.

How it manages to stir that (non-scary) pot of those feelings (non-violently) without anything that could also be viewed as a weapon, I'm not sure...

Why don't we just give up and call it "October Dress-Up Day" with only slutty, cute, or funny costumes allowed, and then let's all give Halloween a proper burial, with the only pictures allowed to remember it by coming from before the past 15 years??! Sounds good to me.

And on that note, I hope you all had a great Halloween! Since Christmas stuff has already been in stores for a month or so now, I think the next holiday must be Valentine's Day. Better get your lollipops while Dollar General still has them in stock!

* Gum was forbidden, so this was like a "Cash for pistols, no questions asked" program.

** And those aren't
pills in your Smarties, those are prizes!

02 November 2009

That was my trick, now here's the treat

Well, as I'm sure you noticed, this past week was a bust for posting-- Blogger was all messed up.

Did I say Blogger? I meant The blogger.

So, to try to make it up to you, I'll post some hypnotic pictures of the kids today, and some thoughts I'd wanted to include in a pre-Halloween post Wednesday. We can all pretend I'm really organized and planned it this way from the beginning.

The best Peter Pan costume I could muster... thanks Home Ec!See the children, love the children, forgive their father.... and then give him all your candyyyyy...

...This scam's working so well, I'm gonna pull my patented Overreach Maneuver:
Tinkerbell redefining the Picture Smile
Weren't my posts last week the most hilarious ever?

They were so good I took them down, printed and bound them, and now I'm waiting for the Library of Congress to beg me to submit them.

That's why you don't see any posts dated during the past week.

And incidentally, these aren't the droids you're looking for.

They are, however, Peter Pan and, for the second straight year, Tinkerbell. I'll point to my creation of the Peter Pan costume from scratch as one reason for my rumored inability to post last week (which as we established is false), even though I bought the supplies Thursday afternoon and cut/sewed/etc. it all Thursday night so he could wear it to school on Friday.*

Because that's how stupid I am. Or awesome, depending on how you feel about legendary procrastination.

By the way, before you think I'm one of those parents who seeks to turn the world into my own little puppet show, no, I did not coordinate the kids' costumes. D- was a pirate two years ago and in remembering that, he made the jump to Peter Pan for this year, while M-'s imagination was just limited to the idea of being Tinkerbell because that's all she can remember (from last year) when she thinks of Halloween. And she's very stubborn, so she just put last year's costume on for one last run.

Next year I hope she easily accepts the fact that the costume will be too small, and she'll agree to be something else. Like the Incredible Hulk. One day, please God, one day, I want to see her in an Incredible Hulk costume, because I don't think I can imagine a more fitting one.

* Sunday through Wednesday, I was visualizing and planning the costume 24 hours a day. Yeah, that's the ticket...