Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Cubic cat

Happy Good Frickin' Picture Wednesday!

This week's picture isn't really here for its artistic merit, but I think this one is pretty frickin' good nonetheless. My mom took this picture many years ago, back when the graphics for live animals weren't nearly as crisp as they are now. This is an 8-bit cat, a model that was phased out several years ago because of its blocky appearance and poor sound effects.

Of course that's not true. What really happened here is that this cat had just eaten a snake. Oh, and that snake had just eaten a toaster oven.

Let me also state that this cat was owned by some dude at a bed and breakfast, where he apparently enjoyed many years' worth of Moons Over My Hammy, and nobody I know had anything to do with his large-bonedness.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Accidents happen

A few weeks ago, my parents came to visit. There’s something cool about having your parents come to visit you in your own house. It’s like you’re a little birdie with your own little nest – an overpriced, tiny little nest, with old pink wallpaper all over the place, and a vague aroma of indeterminate origin that somehow reminds you of wet dog mixed with Earl Grey tea. But my parents love it just the same, mainly because our little house may be many things, but it is not their basement.

When we realized we had an imminent parental visit on the horizon, my wife Kara and I ran through the house in tri-corner hats, ringing cowbells and yelling, “The parents are coming! The parents are coming!” Our parents always come by land, but if they ever sneak up on us by sea, the house is going to be a total mess when they get here.

The day before my parents’ arrival, Kara wandered around the house, finding all of our ferret Chopper’s “accidents”. I put the word “accidents” in quotes because, by this point, I’m fairly certain that we should be calling them “on purposes.” Chopper is 98% litter trained; he reserves the 2% to remind us who’s boss.

Kara is an extraordinarily talented accident finder. If you ever need help finding your pet’s accidents, you should hire Kara for the day. She has a sixth sense for locating even well-hidden pet accidents, and pointing at them, so that you know exactly where they are. Oh, you want her to pick them up, too? Yeah, right. Ewww. That’s gross.

Once Chopper’s messes were disposed of, we were forced to focus on our own. We’re not the tidiest people. Whatever we happen to be holding when we walk through the front door, which is usually fistfuls of junk mail, will be dropped within five seconds. And while I do appreciate the hard-hitting journalism in the PennySaver, I like to give it some time on the floor before I throw it away, just to see if it will biodegrade a little first.

Like any good slobs, Kara and I always leave ourselves walkways. A bad slob will cut off access routes to other rooms by dumping stuff all over the floor. A good slob plans the mess to avoid sprawl, keeping the major thoroughfares free of congestion. Otherwise, you’ll trap yourself and have to clean your way out, which defeats the purpose of being a slob in the first place.

Once we got all of that mess taken care of, we turned our attention to the fridge, home to the jar of spaghetti sauce that we would throw out, except that it’s gotten so furry that we’re afraid PETA would picket our house. We just put fresh milk in there and called it done; if you have fresh milk, you obviously have it together.

If our parents never came to visit, I fear for what would happen to us. Our shower would probably become a Superfund site, which sounds super at first, but actually isn’t.

Luckily, though, we have four great parents now, two of whom I have not addressed by name in the last year, mainly because I have no idea what to call them. I know they’d be perfectly fine with me calling them Mom and Dad, but it seems so weird to just start calling them that all of a sudden. I think if they let me spit up on their sweaters, and maybe if they powdered my bottom a couple of times, it would feel more normal.

I’ll run that by them the next time they’re here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Attack of the fifty-foot buttercup

Happy Good Frickin' Picture Wednesday!

Click on this picture, then hold your monitor up to your face -- if your chin reflects yellow, that means you really like internet butter.

I took this one in Maine last summer. I was trying to take a picture of a moose, but then this flower jumped in the way.

Monday, March 21, 2005

This old spouse

As I make the transition from being young and stupid to being a little bit older and still pretty stupid, I’m noticing that people my age are constantly making comments about being old. I hear this all the time: “We stayed in on Saturday night. We’re so old now.”

Staying in on a Saturday night does not make you old. Passing Beano around the table after dinner does. If you are careful not to treat your digestive activities as a matter of public discourse, you can actually slow the aging process. If you never even mention digestion, you will age like a love child of Dick Clark and Bilbo Baggins.

And what’s so bad about getting old, anyway? I’m pretty proud of the fact that I haven’t gotten myself naturally selected yet. Sure, I’m still young, but nature’s swung and missed a few times already. So anytime you feel like complaining about your age, you just remember -- this isn’t gym class. Getting picked last is a good thing.

Last weekend, I accompanied my wife Kara to New York City so that she could ditch me and hang out with her girlfriends for a bachelorette party. Our separation for the evening was a mutually agreed-upon arrangement, as husbands aren’t exactly welcome at a bachelorette party, and I would probably feel more at-ease attending the Donner Party dipped in steak sauce anyway.

A buddy of mine met up with me in the city, and while we were standing in line outside of a comedy club, an old man came outside to smoke a cigarette, which is a very effective way of getting nature’s attention.

As he lit up, he coughed a bit. “Getting old is hell,” he said to me.

If I had any ability to think on my feet, I would have given the only appropriate reply, which is: “but it sure beats the alternative.”

But I don’t know how to think on my feet. I know how to bludgeon small talk. So I said, “Yeah, I’m finding that out for myself.”

That’s how much hearing twenty-somethings complaining about being old has messed up my mind -- I’ll complain about my age to somebody three times older than me. I’m sure the eighty-year-old man appreciated all the trials and tribulations I’ve had to go through to get to the grizzled old age of twenty-seven. I bet when he’s having his colonoscopy tomorrow, he’ll be thinking of me, and hoping that I’m adjusting well to having a bald spot.

It’s easy to talk about appreciating old age when I haven’t yet had to endure any of its indignities, except that now I can give myself a hangover just by sniffing Nyquil. I’m not expecting old age to always be a blast; I just think it’s pretty out-of-whack when people dread their birthdays. Old people have a proven record of managing not to get themselves killed, and I think that’s something to be proud of.

And when I finally do get to be old, I don’t want to be wasting my time trying to look like I do now. I already look like I do now, and it’s not anything to get too excited about.

So I might as well look forward to getting old. Why not? Life is a process of constant learning, and that’s a cool thing. It also means that every time you see me, I’m as dumb as I’ll ever be. What exactly that means, I have no idea. I’ll be smarter when I’m older, so check back then.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Good Frickin' Picture Wednesdays begin!

It's kinda boring only posting on Mondays, but I don't have time to do much more than that. The solution? Good Frickin' Picture Wednesdays! Every Good Frickin' Picture Wednesday, I'll post puzzles, games, and... no, wait, maybe I'll just stick to frickin' pictures. So columns on Mondays, frickin' pictures on Wednesdays. Word.

Here's the first one:

My buddy Jeff Hofer took this one in Guatemala. He's wandering around Central America, where, apparently, children throw hay at him. This won't be Hofer's last installment on Good Frickin' Picture Wednesdays. He takes some good frickin' pictures.

If you are a magazine editor, and you don't have this picture on your cover, what's wrong with you?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Hardware’s gone soft

My wife Kara recently tricked me into thinking we were going tool shopping. I know, I know, I should have smelled a trap. I’m like Wiley Coyote – she paints the tunnel on the rock face, and I run smack into it every time.

She fooled me by taking me to a store called Restoration Hardware, and I, for reasons that seemed obvious at the time, expected to find myself in a hardware store. Once we got there, though, I realized it was really a Pottery Barn in disguise. Talk about your dirty tricks. Someday, I’m going to open up a sports bar called “Pillows n’ Scented Candles.”

I actually can’t complain too much about getting tricked into furniture shopping with my wife -- furniture stores always have a place to sit. Shopping with Kara is much more fun for both of us when I can just sit and space out until it’s time to go home.

If it was socially acceptable for a grown man to play GameBoy in public, I’d be a regular furniture shop-a-holic. Nintendo needs to come out with a GameMan for the more mature nerd. It could double as an electric shaver or something.

Anyway, that fake hardware store sure did have a nice place to sit. I found a couch there that was so comfy, it was obviously the result of celestial intervention.

In Greek mythology, Hephaestus, the god of fire and metalworking, crafted a golden throne inside his volcano forge. He gave this throne to the goddess Hera, and when she sat upon it, invisible chains entrapped her. Many years later, that throne was re-upholstered, outfitted with a hide-a-bed, and set upon display at Restoration Hardware (which, by the way, does not sell hardware).

Hephaestus eventually returned to Mount Olympus and set Hera free. If I was trapped on that couch, and Hephaestus came to set me free, I’d say, “Thanks but no thanks, Heph. But hey, before you leave, would you mind using that volcano of yours to fire me up some Cheetos?”

Seriously, if this couch were in my living room, all I’d need to survive would be a remote control, an IV drip, a catheter, and some sort of water-wheel-and-pulley contraption to roll me over every couple of days.

I hung out on that couch until Kara finished looking at all the satiny, aromatic delights of the hardware store. When she came back to retrieve me, I rolled over and checked the price tag, which read $4,000.

“You like that couch?” Kara asked.

“Heck no!” I said. “It’s lumpy. No, no -- don’t sit down. Let’s get out of here.”

“It looks like a nice couch,” she said, eyeing it up.

“Depends on what kind of highway mileage it gets,” I replied. Clearly, nothing costs that much money that can’t be driven home.

Apparently, that couch is so expensive because it is upholstered with the woven chest hair of virgin leprechauns, and the pillows are all stuffed with $20 bills. At least that’s what I assume. We hustled out of there so quickly, I didn’t have time to find out anything else about it.

I didn’t need the temptation. The Couch of the Gods got trumped by the specter of the Unholy Credit Card Bill.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Why am I watching The OC right now?

Okay, I'm getting bored only posting once a week. If you haven't seen this yet:

your life probably isn't as complete as it could be. And if you saw this like three years ago, your internet must be newer than mine.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Berry good, not purrr-fect

We’re facing a very real idea shortage. I submit as evidence: a well-known and respected comedian just had a special on Comedy Central a few weeks ago, and he made a joke about his wife asking him, “Does this dress make me look fat?”

I suppose I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt -- maybe he thought he was the first person ever to make a joke about that, like how Columbus thought he was the first person to discover places that already had people living in them.

I do empathize with the comedian; new ideas are just plain hard to come by. With so many people thinking about so many things (mostly during commercials), it’s hard to come up with something all your own.

Just try to think of a cool new car name that’s never been done. The all-new Dodge Bicep? Introducing the Toyota Streaker? The cool ones are already all taken. That’s why fancy car makers, always one step ahead of the game in finding new ways to heat up your backside, gave up long ago. They just stick random numbers and letters on their cars. Here’s how that process goes: “Eh, we’ll call this one Four. No? Okay, Z4. Whatever.”

While new ideas can be hard to think up, there are also some old ones that we badly need to stop recycling. To help get these ideas out of circulation, I propose the following punishments:

• If you’re a politician, and you accuse another politician of playing politics, you have to propose a law that would force Phil Mickelson to accuse Tiger Woods of playing golf.

• If you’re a writer for Cat Fancy magazine, and you use the term “Purrrrr-fect,” you have to neuter yourself.

• If you notice out loud that MTV doesn’t even play music anymore, you have to let Keith Richards move into your basement.

• If you are selling something with berries in it, and you call it “berry good” on the packaging, you have to go to the mall dressed like Catwoman (think Halle Berry).

• If you’re on The Apprentice and you use the phrase, “at the end of the day,” you have to tug on either a mall Santa’s beard or Donald Trump’s hair.

The only reason I can fathom that Apprentice contestants incessantly say “at the end of the day,” is that they think it makes them sound smarter. In my few years of professional life (I’m no longer an amateur liver), I’ve learned that if you really want to seem smart, you should wear jeans tucked into your socks and line up the buttons on your shirt incorrectly. If you are the biggest slob in the building, you are probably the smartest. And if you somehow manage to be bald and have a pony tail, you probably deserve a raise.

Genuinely smart people don’t have to compensate by dressing nicely. The slogan for the Men’s Wearhouse should be, “You’re going to like the way you look: really, really dumb.” The smart guy probably isn’t the one in the suit – it’s the one who doesn’t know that his work shirt was meant to be an undershirt.

If you will excuse me now, I have to figure out how to put on this tie.