Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Getting Rob'd

Here's a shot my buddy Rob took in Australia:

Rob's shooting a behind-the-scenes jaunt for some movie over there. I only mention that so that you'll think I'm a little cooler by association. Did it work?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Giving thanks and wedgies

It’s that time of year again for cranberry sauce, unbridled gluttony and finally getting a chance to use that awl on your Swiss Army Knife for poking new holes in your belt. Oh, and for high school reunions. If you’re a geezer like me, that last one might apply to you. I’m still in denial about the whole thing. “I can’t believe I’m old enough to be having a ten-year high school reunion this weekend,” I said to myself this morning as I poured cream and Geritol into my Metamucil.

People plan their high school reunions for this time of year because all the scattered ex-high schoolers migrate home for Thanksgiving, much like geese, which is why geese are so much more deserving than turkeys to be the mascot for this holiday. I think it’s time we gave the turkeys a break and started chowing down on some good ol’ down home American Canadian geese.

I came up with this idea earlier today on my out to my car from work, as I carefully navigated through the minefield of sundry goose-related debris. If you haven’t noticed, the geese are taking over. They already have our golf courses, parks and Wawa signs. Now they want our parking lots. Who do they think they are, sea gulls?

A few years back, my wife Kara and I lived in an apartment complex that featured a rather large and quite algified pond, a verdant lagoon that stirred romance in the heart of every mosquito and was rivaled in beauty only by the Love Canal. Every morning around three o’clock, the resident geese would begin their enthusiastic and cacophonous honking; they were either fighting or making down-covered romance, but either way they kept us up all night. On beautiful, breezy Spring nights our closed windows would rattle in their frames.

“Make them stop,” my wife Kara would say, pulling her pillow over her head.

“Please stop it, geese,” I’d mutter, making a mental note to pick up a pellet gun on the way to work in the morning.

Not that I’d actually shoot a goose from an apartment window, but I’m pretty sure I’d have no problem putting goose meat right at the top of my personal food pyramid. Or at the bottom. I don’t understand the food pyramid anymore since they turned it into a rainbow and put a little stick person walking up the stairs on the side of it. It looks like a cross between a Skittles commercial and an M.C. Escher painting now.

I feel bad about eating most animals; it’s not their fault they’re so delicious. But I could go on an all-goose diet with no qualms at all. Goose flakes for breakfast. Peanut butter and goose sandwiches for lunch. And snacking on some Goose Combos would really honk one’s hunger away.

Regardless, there’s no time to convince the rest of my family about the merits of eating goose for Thanksgiving. Mom starts cooking three days before big gatherings like this, though I also do my fair share by carrying the dirty dishes ten feet from the dining room table to the kitchen, where Dad washes them. It’s quite the equitable system we’ve worked out.

And I only have a few more days to fret before my ten-year reunion. I hope everyone who didn’t give me a wedgie in high school is doing well.

“Hey, how’s my bald spot looking back there?” I asked Kara today. I haven’t held up a mirror to look at the back of my head since I was about twelve. I don’t want to know what’s going on back there. I’ll just assume that the back of my head still looks as lush and hirsute as Pierce Brosnan’s chest.

“Babe, it looks fine. You don’t have a bald spot,” she said. She always knows how to make me feel better.

Then she said, “But don’t get your hopes up for your twenty-year reunion.”

You can fight Mike Todd for the last slice of pecan pie online at

Monday, November 20, 2006

Missing the estrogen train

My wife Kara left me this afternoon for a woman. Incidentally, the previous sentence will probably be the title of my first country song, if I ever write one. And if I ever get around to writing a second one, I think it should be about salvation and the benefits of aluminum recycling, because “Redemption Song (got my five-cent deposit back)” is a really good title for a country song, too.

But the truth is that Kara left me for not just one woman, but several. Fortunately for me, the situation is only temporary; she’ll be back tomorrow after her big girls’ night out in the city, an event to which my invitation was neither proffered nor desired. Kara and her friends have dealt me the terrible fate of having to stay home playing video games instead of spending the evening in front of better-dressed people showing off both of my signature dance moves: “Bounce up and down, with the beat if possible” and “Blend in, blend in, oh man I hope I’m blending in.” The world will be deprived of these innovations in modern dance because this evening’s party train is to be powered entirely by estrogen. In any event, it’s safe to say that there won’t be a toilet flushed or a tooth brushed around here for at least another twenty-four hours.

It’s interesting to me that a group of girls can go out in the city without any male accompaniment and plan to dance just with each other. This is, of course, roughly analogous to dumping chum into a shark tank. Which is why, just before she leaves for girls’ night out, you should tell your wife, “Hey babe, you’ve got a little makeup smudge on your cheek.” Then as you’re gently wiping her cheek off with one finger, write “BACK OFF I’M MARRIED!” on her forehead in permanent marker. Magicians call that misdirection.

Guys cannot dance by themselves in a big group. A circle of dancing guys is universally a pathetic sight, unless the guys really know what they’re doing and also they’re part of a performance of Fiddler on the Roof.

When I went to a bachelor party in Atlantic City a couple of years ago, we were all having a fine time hydrating ourselves in an Irish Pub when some of the single guys got the fine idea to drag everyone to the night club next door. Fortunately for us, no self-respecting club even allows a bunch of guys to come in without any women in their group. The bouncers saved us from ourselves, though a couple of my buddies pleaded their cases enough to ensure that we still got to shed some dignity before we left.

But now that I’ve got some quality alone time this evening, I finally have a chance to sit down, relax, listen and really get to know The Battle for Middle Earth II while the radio plays in the background. I’ve started listening to the pop station lately. If you don’t listen to pop music, you might not have been informed that Justin Timberlake is single-handedly bringing sexy back. That should be a major relief to those of you who thought you were going to have to bring sexy back all by yourselves. You have to admit: even if you decide to continue laboring over your sexy back-bringing efforts, it will be good to have some star power behind your cause.

Some people might be asking themselves, “Where did sexy go, anyway?”

This is a valid question, and if you had to pinpoint the exact moment when sexy left, it would probably be about the time that Bob Dylan showed up in those Victoria’s Secret commercials, which were less sexy than your average episode of the 700 Club. Still, those commercials did beg the question: “How many butts must a thong ride up, before you call it a thong?”

You can show Mike Todd how to do the worm online at

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Other people's pictures

It's been a while since I've posted any Guatemala pics. Here's another shot from the Jeff Hofer archive:

I think this shot should be on the cover of a magazine, like maybe National Geographic or Masonry Modeling for Kids.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Down for the count

A few nights ago, I sat on the couch in the living room, minding my own lack of business with my laptop located in what I thought was a perfectly sensible place: atop my lap.

My wife Kara walked into the room and pointed at me. “You should put your computer on the dining room table and go work in there,” she said. “Some people at work today were talking about how typing with your laptop on your lap messes with your physiology.”

“My physiology?” I asked.

“Well, they said it lowers your sperm count,” she replied.

I stopped clacking on the keyboard and looked up at her, scooching the computer towards my knees. Even though I’d never heard any such thing in my life, and I sincerely doubted that there could possibly be any truth to what she was saying, better safe than sterile.

Back when I was single and living in my own place, the only female influence in my apartment was Mama Celeste, and she hardly ever strolled into the room to randomly start discussions about male fertility. She was too busy providing dinner seven nights a week. Since getting married, though, I’ve found that reproductive conversations will just pounce on you, like Hobbes greeting Calvin at the front door. Not that Kara was necessarily bringing up reproduction as it pertained to the two of us, but her concern for my gametes sure seemed to be heading in that direction.

To find out if there was any real reason for her concern, I did a quick Google search from the safety of the dining room table. It turns out that some researchers did recently reach the very conclusion that Kara passed along to me. I was relieved to discover, though, that the problem wasn’t due to any sort of radiation. Electric things kind of freak me out like that. I don’t even like sleeping with the alarm clock too close to my head.

It seems that computers’ prophylactic effects are related to the heat that comes off the bottom of the laptop, so there’s no need to fashion any radiation-blocking aluminum foil underpants for your loved ones. Those would probably just make the problem worse, anyway, like you were preparing them to be a baked potato. If anything, asbestos underpants would most likely be the best investment, if you can find any; check with your local fire department.

Computer use does seem to be getting awfully hazardous lately. Not only do computers turn perfectly normal people into infertile, orc-slaying nerds, but some laptop batteries can catch fire rather spontaneously. You may have caught that news item on your way to the emergency room. The article I read regarding laptop use and its effects on fertility didn’t mention what happens if one’s laptop bursts into flames while resting on one’s lap (probably because they couldn’t get anyone to sign up for that study), but I think, regardless, it might be time to turn the laptop into a tabletop.

Kara continued, “Not that it’s any big deal now, but, you know, someday. We might as well not take any chances.”

I said, “You know what the people in my office were talking about today? The best way to change diapers and the semantic differences between spit-up and throw-up. Apparently, spit-up is the good kind.”

The most disturbing thing out of all of this is that Kara apparently has much more interesting conversations at work than I do. Even if I’d known the little tidbit about male fertility and laptops, I just can’t imagine how I would have broached that particular topic with my co-workers.

“So, Vernon, did you notice that the boss seemed a little testy today? Speaking of testy, guess what my wife told me?”

You can shoot Mike Todd with a fire extinguisher online at

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Popping an election

Have you caught '06 midterm election fever? Here are some of the early results:

*75% of precincts reporting. (Image source here. Update: Image ain't accessible there anymore. Much respect to whoever came up with it, though. Word.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Big Scary Real World

My wife Kara and I decided to host a little get-together for some of our work friends last Saturday night. We do this every so often just to prove to ourselves that people will still voluntarily hang out with us even though we’re married and boring. Also, the bathroom will never get cleaned if the threat of a co-worker forever associating us with toilet scum doesn’t loom near.

When you’re an adult and you have people over, guests bring stuff with them: chips, beer, wine, even homemade salsa. I’m still getting used to this idea. When friends used to come over in high school, they’d head straight for the kitchen, calling over their shoulders: “Your folks got anything good in the fridge?” Mom had to bury our good food in the backyard.

A couple of interns joined our regular crew this time. These guys are taking a semester off from college to see what life is like in the Real World, a term that I find myself using occasionally even though it’s awfully condescending. “Ooh, you have no idea what it’s like in the Big Scary Real World, little college children,” we say, holding flashlights under our chins and waving our adjustable-rate mortgage statements in their faces.

In many ways, the Real World is actually a lot nicer than school. In the Real World, nobody forces you to stay up until three in the morning trying to figure out what a Bernoulli equation is or why Avogadro’s number isn’t 867-5309. And you never have to use Bookman Old Style font to make your papers look half a page longer, mainly because you don’t have to write any more papers.

As far as I can tell, though, the biggest difference between college and the Real World is that in the Real World you get paid for doing things you don’t want to do. This helps you to afford the things you couldn’t in school, like pepperoni on your pizza. And when you decide that maybe Milwaukee’s Best just isn’t good enough anymore, you can usually upgrade to a better six-pack for less than 50% of your net worth.

As those interns sat in our living room on Saturday night, I wondered what our lives looked like to them. I pictured myself at nineteen, looking through our living room window, watching the goings-on inside like Scrooge watching the Cratchits eat dinner.

“They’re just sitting around telling stories. Only one person is talking at a time. Wait a minute, what’s that big red box they’re taking out?” I’d ask, my nose pressed against the glass.

“Oh, please, no. Merciful Heaven, what is this? It’s…it’s…Scattergories! On a Saturday night!”

Turning to the Ghost of Saturday Nights Yet to Come, I’d ask, “Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

Actually, the Scattergories game was kind of fun. That’s a good game for anyone considering a run at law school, as it was designed with the sole purpose of making people argue with each other. Days later, I’m still making my case to Kara, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Scattergories Court, that some of my answers should have been counted.

“K, of the Special variety, is a perfectly good answer for breakfast foods that start with the letter K, you know,” I told her.

“No way,” she said. “That’s worse than kumquat omelettes.”

“Well, I think it should have counted. And everyone else came up with regular old personality traits that started with the letter M, like moody and melancholy. I think I should have gotten extra points for coming up with something as original as make-friendy.”

“Make-friendy? That doesn’t even make sense.”

“Sure it does. Hey, everybody really likes the new guy at work. He’s very make-friendy.”

Kara replied, “You’re about to feel very got-punchedy.”

You can write something make-friendy to Mike Todd online at

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Purple sky nurple

My buddy Rob's in Australia right now, so that means I can steal his pictures and put them on the internet and there's nothing he can do about it.

Check this one out:

I hope he brings back a wombat.