Monthly Archives: December 2010

Happy New Year Everyone!

Do you want to know what your wife doesn’t want to hear about on New Year’s Eve?  Blogging.

So this is going to be quick.  2010 has clearly been the best year I’ve ever had as far as writing is concerned, and it’s been kind of a jerk in lots of other categories.  And then again, it beat the hell out of 2009, 2008, and 2007 combined.  So I’m just going to focus on the positive.

This year, like most years, we aren’t doing anything, because this is definitely one of those nights of the year where folks who don’t go out much really get their drink on, and there’s no telling what they’re going to do. 

Also, the kids are at the age where a fun thing for them to do is play music and watch movies and bop around the living room, so we’ll have about six or eight kids over here, several dogs, popcorn, pizza.  Seems pretty clear that someone needs to be here so it doesn’t turn into a rockin’ Molly Ringwald movie.

Fortunately, we are currently hopelessly embroiled in Breaking Bad, which is easily the best show I’ve seen in years.  The last time I was this into a show was either LOST or Six Feet Under, and this one’s a lot more like the latter.  I sort of bought myself the first season for Christmas, and then we started watching having no idea what to expect.

I had heard the writers on NPR talking about the basic premise.  It’s about a science teacher who learns that he has terminal lung cancer and no life insurance, and who then decides to start using his chemistry knowledge to cook meth.  The idea being that if he can save up a quick million, then it won’t matter if he goes to jail and his family will be taken care of.

I don’t want to give much away or anything, but I can tell you that the show gripped us both from the very first second.  The actual first one. 

We blew through the first season, and because of the writer’s strike at the time, there were only seven episodes.  So a few days later, we found ourselves standing in Blockbuster – not something we like to do – trying to find Season 2.

They didn’t have it.  So we drove to the next Blockbuster and got the first two discs there, and now we’ve blown through them, and it’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m off to see if I can find the rest of the season.  If I have to, I’m going to drive a forklift through the window of Blockbuster to get it, so I hope they’re open.

I’ve been a lot less active on the blogs and on Twitter and every place else because the girls are home from school and so is Marilyn – she’s a student at OSU – and next week they’ll all be back in school and probably I’ll be more visible.

But Happy New Year very sincerely to anyone who’s ever spent a few minutes reading one of my posts!  I really feel like I live in a completely different life than I did last year, and I mean that in a good way.

So, I have to run out and work for a couple of hours, then it’s going to be raining little girls up in here.  Their Wi is directly above my downstairs television so it’s exactly like trying to watch a serious drama while someone is hopping up and down on a pogo stick above your head.  That’s what subtitles are for, in case you are wondering.

I’m looking forward to next year, but it’s been a while since I got to New Year’s Eve and felt pretty decent about looking back.  Got a couple more movies coming up this weekend – True Grit and Tron, one day after the other – and a lot more sitting around hibernating, and then next week it’s a whole new beginning.

If you’re out there and you’re mad at someone – in particular if you are mad at me – please remember, it’s the time of year to forget about all that.  I know that my dad might have hurled racial slurs at you during dinner, or one of my daughters might have pickpocketed you at the mall, or my wife might have dragged your wife out and gotten her intoxicated, or my mom might have , well, I don’t know actually anybody who’s mad at my mom.

But the point is, getting all furious about The Flying Pizza’s irregular hours for instance is a silly thing to do, and it’s not going to do me any good balling it up and carrying it with me into next year. 

How can I stay mad at Flying Pizza?  And really, how can you stay mad at me, or whoever it is?  Tip a cocktail and dump it out, my friends, the New Year is upon us.

Now of course, don’t go overboard, either.  Some people are folks who we should stay mad at.  Like I’m still mad at Jeffrey Dahmer for eating all those people, New Year’s Eve or not, you know?  But I think that goes without saying.

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Posted by on December 31, 2010 in Uncategorized


Parallel Universe Dark Tom At Large In Columbus?

If you don’t know who Dark Tom is, then I’ll go ahead and tell you – Dark Tom is what they sometimes called me in college, and usually it meant that I was drunk.

Yes, I know, tell us all about it Superdad.  It was the nineties – high school kids could drink with the flimsiest of IDs, nobody cared about anything  at all, and terrorists didn’t exist yet.  I’m sure there was stuff going on in the rest of the world, but the Internet was in its infancy, so there was no way to know for sure.  All we had to do was make a token effort to recycle, watch Seinfeld and knock out the rent. 

You know, they weren’t exactly kicking ass in the seventies, either, right?  So go ahead and climb down out of Dark Tom’s butt, will you – he was all right.

Now, Dark Tom’s origins are pretty straightforward.  Because I was a pale, scrawny, Cambodian Freedom Fighter-looking pixie of a man, I adopted a defense mechanism whereby I walked around looking weird and possibly crazy all the time.  I wore a black, wide-brimmed hat, a long black coat, and I had two feet of wavy brown hair.  Frequently I walked home alone across campus at three o’clock in the morning, and I was never mugged once.

In fact, far scarier people than me would typically cross the street as I approached.

Dark Tom was prone to vanishing, Batman-style.  One moment you were having a beer with him, the next moment he was gone, and an investigation might reveal his empty Molson bottle by the back door, his diabolical laughter still mocking you in the darkness. 

Dark Tom might also steal a giant cardboard stand-up or two from Blockbuster, or he might climb through the window of your dormitory during a fire drill, or he might punch you in the face on New Year’s Eve and then somehow grab a cab within seconds, and leave you and the rest of your pals stranded in a Bethel Road bar.

Dark Tom moved in many strange and mysterious ways, and who indeed are we to question him, now that his wife and three daughters have relieved him of his hair and his hat, and now that his hilarious, unpredictable antics have become a myth, only whispered about in bars on St. Patrick’s Day?

So, anyway, you can imagine my surprise when I clicked on an intriguing article entitled Man In Cowboy Hat Robs Two Businesses, and found a photograph of what appears to be Dark Tom, aged hard and ragged, and clearly from a parallel universe in which he never married or had children or even stopped by his mom’s house once in a while.

Several things surprised me about the article.  First, I had no idea I was wearing a cowboy hat that whole time.  I thought it was a Mind Reader Defense Hat – the inside was lined with tin foil, after all, and to my knowledge, it worked.  If you ever thought that you read my mind while I was wearing that hat, you were really just guessing and it turned out I wasn’t very complicated, that’s all.

And sure, I was also surprised by the fixation on the cowboy hat itself.  I mean, surely the man has removed the cowboy hat by now.  Are we all certain we should still be on the lookout for a man wearing a cowboy hat?  Or should we maybe be on the lookout for a white guy with more hair than Jesus (all due respect), who looks permanently tired?

That’s kind of a thing these days – for some reason the news, in what I guess is a nod toward political correctness, really hates identify the race of the people they want us to look out for.  Seems like that is a pretty basic description point.  I mean, you don’t have to say “white” or “black,” you can use the proper nomenclature, sure.

The point is, they can’t take their races off, but they can take their cowboy hats off.  See how that works?  I know, I’m like a criminal mastermind.

Anyway, when I saw that picture, I thought, man, that’s so obviously Parallel Universe Dark Tom that I should probably lend a hand in apprehending him.  I know where he likes to hang out, what he likes to do, where he likes to bowl, how his mind works.  I know how he ticks. 

For example, do you want to know his weakness?  It’s easy, just push him down on the ground and then kick the crap out of him.  He’s not going to do anything – he’s drunk and his muscles have atrophied and as far as he’s concerned, there are three of you.

But there is a good chance he’s hanging around with larger dudes who think he’s funny.  That might count as his superpower, so watch out.  

Anyway, if you see the guy pictured in the article, they want you to call the cops and let them know about it.  But that’s not what I want you to do.  I want you to knock him down and steal his hat and mail it to me.  The cops can track him down themselves, after that.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation, Alert Citizens.  End transmission.

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Posted by on December 30, 2010 in Uncategorized


The Sissification Of Billy The Kid

Here’s a big CNN article about how Governor Bill Richardson is going to decide in the next few days whether or not to posthumously pardon Billy The Kid.  Since Billy the Kid has been dead for 129 years, it makes you wonder who on Earth cares in the first place, but I can tell you three people who do – me, opportunistic New Mexico defense attorney Randi McGinn, and Pat Garrett’s grandson J.P Garrett.

It’s really simple as far as I’m concerned.  I’ve refined my thinking into three specific reasons why Billy the Kid should not be pardoned, all because Richardson is one of my favorite politicians and I don’t see why he should have to spend his time on this topic when I’ve already got it figured out for him.

Reason #1:  Billy the Kid is a badass of historical proportions.

Just look at this extremely rare, actual, full-color photograph of him:

And if you pardon him then he’s just some dude.  It may be true – as archived letters and documents apparently show – that he made an agreement with then-Governor Lew Wallace in which Billy agreed to testify in another federal court case in exchange for the pardon, and that he held up his end but then Wallace never pardoned him. 

And it’s also apparently true that Billy the Kid once sent a letter to Wallace, asking him to honor the agreement – so it seems like when he was alive, a pardon was what he wanted, too.

But that was just so he could ride his horsie around without everyone in the country chasing him around trying to shoot him.  It wasn’t because he wanted his name cleared for posterity.  It was for logistics and convenience, clearly.  And now that he’s not riding horsies around anymore, his near mythical notoriety is all that he has left.

See, if we pardon him, then he’s very likely to get angry and blast out of Hell to exact a horrible vengeance on us all, for de-sullying his bad name.  For the love of God – think, people, THINK. 

It’s like some folks have never seen a demonic cowboy zombie movie before.

Reason #2:  It was an attorney’s idea. 

I don’t like the idea is that a defense attorney pretty obviously thought of it as a way to get into a big CNN article.  She’s claiming that he’s owed a pardon because 129 years ago, Lew Wallace extra super promised him and then didn’t do it.  Time we made good on that promise, she says.

And then it’ll be time she writes a book about it and makes three and a half million dollars, I say.

It’s interesting, isn’t it?  That McGinn is so morally outraged by a (possible) broken promise from 129 years ago, and somehow that trumps all the moral outrage that she most certainly trips over every time she sets foot in an Albuquerquee courthouse?

I am not interested in “clearing” Billy the Kid’s name for the professional benefit of a defense attorney.  I know she’s working for free – how about you offer your free services to some living Americans who desperately need it, McGinn?  I know they won’t let you write a book for that or put you in any CNN articles, but on the plus side, I won’t feel like barfing anymore.

Reason #3: Pat Garrett’s grandson doesn’t want him pardoned.  I had no idea that Pat Garrett’s grandson was alive, but my guess is, he’s kind of a badass.  I don’t want any trouble with Pat Garrett’s grandson.  If there are two sides and Pat Garrett’s grandson is on one of them, then that’s the side I’m on.  Especially if the question is silly and pointless and a waste of anyone’s time who isn’t a blogger, or Pat Garrett’s grandson.

And part of this reason is of course also that, speaking of vengeful ghosts, the last thing we want to deal with is Billy the Kid’s vengeful ghost and Pat Garrett’s vengeful ghost at the same time.  It seems like the current legal designation of the events of 129 years ago have been working just fine all these years.

If it isn’t broke, and there are currently no vengeful ghosts haunting us, then don’t try to fix it.

Now I know that Pat Garrett is often portrayed as something of a coward, for shooting Billy the Kid in the back, in the dark.  So you might think that’s relevant, when considering the opinion of Garrett’s grandson.

Well I don’t know if Garrett shot the Kid in the back or not, and neither do you – but you can bet your ass that’s where I would have shot him. 

History and legend and Emilio Estevez all have different ideas about how many people Billy killed.  It’s either nine or twenty-one or 300-ish.  Whichever one it is, those were all guys who tried to shoot Billy the Kid in the front.  

See why J.P. Garrett was even able to be born?  Let’s all climb down out of Pat Garrett’s butt, he was only after one of the toughest men in history.  He probably didn’t feel like fair was the way to play it. 

Also, J.P. Garrett is concerned that pardoning Billy the Kid would mean that his grandpappy shot an innocent man.  I’m dead serious here – would you all please stop trying to make Pat Garrett’s grandson angry? 

I’m on your side, Mr. Garrett – the Old West was just fine without the ACLU ziplining in and sissying the place up.  The cards were dealt 129 years ago, and let’s all please quit trying to pretty them up.

And as for you, Emilio Estevez – get to work on Young Guns IV.  You don’t look busy.


Posted by on December 29, 2010 in News/Commentary


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The War On Christmas Gets Ugly

You know how I feel about Christmas.  It’s a single Christian holiday on the 25th of December, and that means that at no point in the entire month should you ever say anything to anyone that can even be liberally interpreted as a wish to enjoy a different holiday.

Christmas owns December.  If you’re some other holiday, then screw you, cause this is America.  And don’t try any of that all-inclusive Happy Holidays crap either, because that’s just like slapping Christmas in the face.  Christmas is serious and insecure and all-powerful.  If you even tell your pal Charlie Happy Birthday three weeks before Christmas, then you’re at War with Christmas.  So like, shut up.

But sometimes, Christmas hits back.  Like for instance on actual Christmas day, when a lot of stores are closed.  And it’s that time of the morning when you just realized that you’re out of beer, and you think, man, I never should have said Happy Hanukkah to that dude with the funny hat last week, cause now Christmas is mad at me, and it’s making it so no one will sell me beer.

Maybe you’re unfamiliar with that particular type of Christmas wrath, because maybe you live in a city, where there are plenty of gas stations and Kwik-E-Marts where you can go and buy all the beer you want from a colorful nose ring guy, or a Muslim, or a robot, or an ex-convict.  This futuristic world we live in rocks, even if the cars don’t fly and the air is orange and nobody lives on Mars.

But see now I’m losing my whole train of thought.  If you were out in the middle of Oregon and there was only one store, and you went to get your traditional Christmas Morning case of Keystone, and you found the store locked up tight, then I guess Christmas kicked your ass that year – and you probably deserved it, saucy.

Unless of course you are the type of Christmas warrior who – like Captain Kirk – doesn’t like to lose. 

Well these guys from Oregon certainly weren’t going to sit there and take it, that’s for sure.  Watch who you’re smacking around, Christmas, because some guys out there will hit you back.

These particular guys – in this article right here – approached it more like a problem than a denial.  They said, well, the beer is in that building behind a locked door, and we’re out here, and exactly how much crap are we supposed to take from Christmas, anyway?

So they looked around and found a forklift nearby with the keys still in it – a War on Christmas Miracle!

I know that my old pappy used to tell me, son, you can solve an awful lot of logistic problems with a stolen forklift and old-fashioned gumption.  And he was right.  These guys simply blasted open the wall of the store and helped themselves to some festive, stolen beer – take that, Christmas!

It was nothing veteran Detective Sgt. David Kempas hadn’t seen before.  The article quotes him as saying “I guess it was a Christmas Day beer run.”

Top notch work, right there – that’s why he makes the big bucks.  I wonder if there’s a number for that, like an eight-forty-two or something.  Yeah, looks like an eight-forty-two, Hank.  Sure does, Dave.

Detective Kempas also went ahead and rounded out the moral/philosophical side of the story for us, too, letting us know that the lesson to be learned here is that you don’t want to leave your keys in your forklift.

You really don’t, either.  I know it seems like no one’s going to start it up and drive it through any walls, but you never know, do you?  What with Obamacare?

Anyway, I think that it was most likely the work of master housebreaker Santa Claus, though I’m not going to turn him in because I know how it is when you get off work and there’s no beer and the carryout doesn’t have a chimney. 

I know, stealing is stealing and just because you’re Santa Claus doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want.  But really, what exactly do you have to do to get a beer around here if Santa Claus isn’t already doing it? 

Now, of course a good solution is to secure all local forklifts, but there are other ways to break into a carryout, like you have your eight reindeer trash the place like a bunch of mobsters.  Or you can simply employ a large rock to blast out the front window, if your reindeer are tired.  And there’s no way to secure every single rock.

So the solution is of course for all carryouts to start leaving out a case of beer for Santa Claus in case he gets a hankerin’ for a cold one at the end of his shift, like the rest of us.  I do understand that there’s no way to verify if it was actually him who came by and took the beer and not, say, me – but you know, there’s no way to verify he’s the one who ate the cookies by the fireplace, either.  Stop making it more complicated than it needs to be.

Either the beer goes to Santa Claus, which is a win-win for you, cause he keeps track of that stuff.  Or it goes to me or several problem-solving badasses from Oregon, which is still cheaper than a new wall and so also, again – a win-win.

The only way to lose is to keep locking up your beer, Scrooge.  How’d that work out last time again?

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Posted by on December 28, 2010 in News/Commentary


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The Man Who Wasn’t Married

Here in Ohio, when you get a mortgage on your property, your spouse has to acknowledge the mortgage even if your spouse isn’t borrowing the money.

The rationale is, the house belongs to both of you.  That’s called dower rights, in Ohio.  If you own your house for forty years, and then you go to Vegas and marry a hooker, then that hooker suddenly owns half your house.  Congratulations.

The idea is, you don’t get to secretly borrow money on your house.   Back in the fifties or sixties, a guy would just go in and mortgage the house to the hilt right before divorcing his wife.  That way, they’re splitting half of nothing, while he has the equity in cash.

These days if you try to do that, and the mortgage wasn’t acknowledged by your wife, then the mortgage isn’t valid.  So your mortgage company and your title company are going to make you sign an affidavit stating that you aren’t presently married, otherwise your spouse has to be there and sign.

“No,” said the fifty-ish man in front of me, when we got to the marriage affidavit.  “We don’t do that.”

I frowned at him.  We were sitting at his kitchen table, and I had just asked him out loud as I showed him the affidavit, if he was married.  “Wait a minute,” I said, because he was about to sign it.  “Who’s ‘we?'”

He looked up as if startled.  “Oh, my ex,” he replied, waving his hand at me.  “We don’t do that.”

“I’m sorry,” I said for some reason.  “You don’t do what?”

He blinked at me, so I added.  “This is your ex-wife we’re talking about?”

He gave me the Boy’s Club nod – I knew how it was, didn’t I?  He said, “Yeah, we haven’t been together in years.”

“Ah, I see.  So you are divorced.”

“Well, we never filed for divorce really, but we’re separated.”

“Okay, but separated is married.  You’re legally married if you aren’t divorced.”


I had to purse my lips and gather up some patience.  “At one point, were the two of you legally married to each other?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“And since you just said that you were never divorced, that means that you are still legally married.”

He squinted around the room, nodding, then arched his eyebrows.  “Well, I guess so, but we haven’t been together in years.”

I could see that he felt like this was important, but it is actually not at all important as far as the State of Ohio is concerned.  You can be married and then live on opposite sides of the world and blow up each other’s Facebook pages with insults every single day – the mortage isn’t valid unless you both sign.

Just like the State of Ohio wouldn’t care if you were deeply in love with the hooker from Vegas.  It’s a pretty simple concept like being Male or On Fire.  You’re either Married, or you’re not, and listen to me – you know which one it is.

So I explained to the man that regardless of the European nature of his relationship with his wife, regardless of exactly how married he considered himself to be, his wife was going to have to acknowledge the mortgage or he wasn’t refinancing his house.  I don’t make the rules, I told him.

“I guess I could call her, she’d probably sign it.”

“You think she’d sign a mortgage if you called her out of the clear blue sky and asked her?”  Not very professional of me, but that sounded pretty damn married to me.

“Oh, yeah,” he said.  “I talked to her about it earlier today, but I didn’t think she’d need to sign it, since it’s just my loan.”

Hard not to frown at him, since that suggested that all of this had occurred to him already and he’d been trying to float it by.  “Okay, well, you’re welcome to give her a call and see if she’s up for it.  Does she live far?’

He looked puzzled.  “She lives here.”

“Right here in town?”

“Right here in this house.”

“She lives right here in this house?”

“Oh, yeah.  She’s across the street at her friend’s house.”

“I see.  So you are not divorced from this woman, and she lives right here in this house with you, and you discussed this loan with her this morning, but you were about to sign an affidavit saying that you’re not married, based on your general lack of interest in each other?”

“You want me to call her?”

“Yes,”  I agreed.  “I do.”  Something told me she was probably the one I should be talking to in the first place.

This must be how women feel, when they’re hanging around in a bar or a coffee shop and a dude starts chatting them up, and while he’s talking they run a quick Facebook check on him and determine that he is married, and for some reason he isn’t bringing it up.

Not nearly as flattering as I thought it’d be.  I’m glad that doesn’t happen to me very often.

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Posted by on December 28, 2010 in Uncategorized


Okay, Christmas, Get Back In The Box

You’re awesome, I’m not joking that was cool, but it’s over now.  Let’s not embarass ourselves.  You don’t want to be the holiday version of that couple who won’t leave the party even though everyone else is already gone and so is the beer.  Don’t stand around making small talk about how much you dig other holidays, like New Year’s Eve, for instance.  Aside from a sweet stop motion movie from forty years ago, New Year’s Eve has almost nothing to do with you, Christmas.

Just take your cookies and your creepy, horror movie songs and your glittery decorations and your consumer-driven guilt wagons and get moving.  It’s time.  The rest of us need to sleep for two days and then start serious, structured barfing-and-treadmill programs and probably go to the tracks, see if we can get a pony to pay the house payment in January. 

This is more patient then we’ve been in my family for years – the tree is still up.  For years we used to yank the tree down by noon on Christmas day and then we’d literally drag it out back and set fire to it.  Nothing personal, we’d tell it, we just don’t want there to be any confusion as to what’s over and what’s not.

Christmas is over.  So now, for instance, when something normal happens to normal people – like getting robbed or mugged or grifted – then we don’t have to hear about it on the news with the words AT CHRISTMAS TIME after it. 

We all know that if you’re going to get mugged or robbed or grifted, Christmas is the time to do it, because then you can get on the news, enabling you to receive a crapload of Christmas presents from total strangers, which will then enable you to be on the news again, talking about how overwhelmed you are by the Christmas kindness of strangers.

You get mugged at Christmas and you hit the jackpot – don’t think the rest of us don’t know it, either.  Every time I see a story like that on the news, it gets my wheels turning.  Like this story right here – come on, robbed during childbirth AND at Christmas time?

That’s about as subtle as a baby shower.  Ten baby showers all at the same time, except you don’t have to plan them, just call the news, tell them what happened and then start making closet space because it’s going to rain like a Georgia strip club around here.  (I heard that phrase on NPR, so that makes me smart instead of gross).

I see these stories and I try to talk my kids into staging a robbery so we can cash in on some of that Secret Santa Christmas joy, but they’re a bunch of Christmas Kool-Aid Drinking sissies.  They have a lot of detailed theories about how oh Dad, we’ll get caught, and how oh, that’s inviting karmic trouble and how oh, it’s morally (!) wrong. 

You know, you try to raise them up, do the right thing, block the Disney channel off the cable box, but in the end they’re their own people aren’t they?  It’s like kids get in their teens and suddenly they’re WAY smarter than you about everything from computers to white collar crime to moral philosophy.

They’re like, don’t you remember that balloon guy and how his kid wasn’t really in the balloon?  And how in the modern, digital world, his lies inevitably came home to roost for all the world to see?  And I’m like, no.

What do they care?  Sitting around playing the Sims and listening to tiny, futurist Walkmans with televisions on them, not participating in insurance scams or confidence schemes with their lovable, hard-drinking old man. 

I seriously don’t even know who these kids are anymore.  Christmas used to be about rolling the squares – you guys changed.

Anyway, that’s plenty.  I ate a solid six hundred cookies this year – barely an exagerration, I almost went into the hospital one time.  You can eat cookies until your blood is so thick that your head threatens to explode with each heart beat, so try to listen any of the first eight or nine times it’s telling you to stop.

Plenty of decorations and blinking lights, too – I have some neighbors who really take this to the next level with a huge, blinking “JESUS IS LORD!” sign that they put up pointing directly at the house full of Muslims across the street.  I guess it’s better than a “MUSLIMS SUCK!” sign, but what can I say, it seems about that antagonistic.

Just seems like Jesus would keep it a little classier than that, you know?  Like if Letterman runs into Leno at a party or something – he doesn’t throw down on him.

But it’s not just Muslims in danger from Christmas decorations.  Don’t kid yourself.  Those decorations don’t care what religion you’re from – take a look at this story, accurately titled Giant Candy Cane Crushes Family’s Car.  See it’s all fun and games until something like this happens, then suddenly everybody’s like, oh we never should have hung up that giant candy cane.  When will the madness stop?  How many people have to get crushed by giant candy canes?

Everyone just sweep it all up back into the boxes where it belongs, because we’ve got a solid nine months to look forward to without hearing about any of this again.  Everyone knows Christmas ends on December 26th, and it doesn’t start up again until three weeks before Halloween.  Time to let go.

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Posted by on December 26, 2010 in News/Commentary, Phoning It In


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Christmas Eve In An Actual Chinese Restaurant

A series of logistic problems led us to the decision.  My father uses either a wheelchair or a walker, and my house is made almost entirely of stairs.  It’s like the mind-blowing drawing from your high school art class, except there are shoes everywhere.  So having Dad over for Christmas Eve requires an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys, and he doesn’t like it.

So then the next idea was, we’ll take Dad over to my brother’s, where there are very few stairs and then we’ll all have Christmas Eve over there.  Except for a variety of reasons, no one wanted to attempt to cook for eight people over there, and I don’t think he really has a table.

Chinese food was the answer, including a ton of egg rolls and crab rangoon to stand around eating later that night.  It was perfect because everybody except my brother loves Chinese food, and also nobody has to cook.  But you know what would be even more perfect?  Not having to clean up after ourselves, either.

So I don’t think we realized we were channeling A Christmas Story until we were sitting there in the Golden Phoenix at a large, round table, wincing every time my dad made a joke about eating a cat.  Really, he only did that twice, which for him is kicking ass. 

I made it a point to really look around at who else was there, and we were definitely the only family there with our kids.  There were three sixty-ish couples at the next table, having dinner and some kind of white elephant gift exchange, and I got the distinct impression that they were sort of judging us.

Hard not to, though.  When you order chicken wings at that place,what you get are pieces of fried chicken.  So let’s just say we ordered a lot.  If you were in that restaurant, you would have been judging us, too.

There were a pair of divorced dads at another table.  And a guy at a booth wearing sort of African garb, including a cylindrical wicker hat – he was having dinner with his wife, who was dressed in a similar fashion but hatless.  All of those folks seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves.

By contrast, a few solo diners, looking glum.  And then three vaguely creepy middle-aged single people, sitting in a booth along the wall, barking out laughter and theatrically enjoying themselves with such gusto that I thought any second they were all going to collapse into a cloud of snot and tears.

And also a crazy guy at the bar, a huge bear of a man in a sort of Charlie Brown shirt, but wearing a pink hat, the kind which I think means he’s Jewish.  When my daughters walked past him to the bathrooms, admiring the cool Chinese calendars they’d stolen from behind the counter, the big crazy man began hollering at the staff that he, too, wanted a calendar.  They gave him one, too.

Which is what I would have done.

Anyway, I don’t think the girls really stole the calendars.  I think that they were given to us because we ran up a silly Christmas Eve tab.  Everything we had was fantastic – this place is on Cleveland Avenue just north of Morse road, by the way – and then when we were finished, I consulted with my brother and children before ordering thirty dollars worth of chicken wings to go, so we could all stand around eating them over the sink, later that night.  My vegetarian wife is one lucky duck, isn’t she?

Anyway, it was a big enough order that it warranted free calendars.

So everybody ate, everybody was happy, and they gave us our wings in crate form and then, we arrived home and the kitchen wasn’t trashed, the house wasn’t trashed, there were plenty of leftovers, and nobody was hollering at me – a Christmas miracle.  Please believe me when I tell you, this is probably going to be how we handle Christmas Eve every single year for the rest of our lives.

Now the presents are open, and I’m sitting in the aftermath.  My living room looks like the Death Star’s trash compactor, complete with my little puppy dog lurking within it somewhere, sniffing, seeking, licking.  Everyone else has retreated to their rooms to mess around with presents or take naps, and I’m thinking, let’s get this tree down, let’s get this music off, let’s all go back to normal.

But really this is my favorite part of it, lounging around on the couch while everyone else collapses in exhaustion, eating leftovers and watching a Doctor Who marathon.  It’s all leading up to the big Doctor Who Christmas special on BBC tonight as I’m sure you know.

And then good news just keeps coming – a phone call from my actual mother-in-law, letting us know she’s running late.  You take your time, lady.  I think me and these chicken wings and this puppy dog can probably find a way to occupy ourselves, during the delay.


Posted by on December 26, 2010 in Uncategorized