Follow by Email

Inspirational Reads

Ere He Drove Out of Sight

December 24, 2007

A couple of things. First, I'm sorry I didn't send any of you Christmas cards this year. I got many beautiful cards filled with lovely messages of Holiday spirit. Thank you, one and all for the cards you sent. We misplaced our address book, and so we just didn't get around to sending them. I can send you two next year if you'd like.

I've decided that, aside from "A Christmas Story", Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July could be my favorite "classic" Christmas story, only because it beautifully ties all of the other stories together in one. Crappy storyline, but it was pretty cool seeing all those Rankin-Bass productions being pulled together and tied up like the final book of a well-written trilogy.

Finally, today is Christmas Eve, so I thought I'd share my absolute favorite Christmas Story from my youth (since I haven't told you all a tasty tidbit from when I was a kid in a while).

Every year, on Christmas Eve, we would go to our grandparents houses for Christmas. Usually, it was my Grandma Jane's house in the morning and my Grandpa Obie's house in the evening. We'd open presents and play and everything. The biggest joy was that all of my aunts and uncles rolled in, so this would be one of those times that I'd see my cousin Scott because he lived SO far away in Fort Wayne (I lived in a town a little east of Huntington, IN) and that 20 miles or so prevented us from seeing that wing of the family very often.

This particular year, however, we had a terrible snow storm come whipping through the countryside, as many of you in the midwest and northeast are experiencing or have experienced in the past few days. The roads were covered with ice which was covered with snow, and my mother, fearing...well...everything...decided that it was too unsafe for us to brave the trip to my grandfather's house in order to celebrate Christmas. So, there would be no Christmas Eve for us this year. We would be stuck at home while my other cousins were all together, playing, laughing, running around the circle that comprised my grandfather's living room, family room, kitchen and dining room (a traditional holiday custom), and getting their presents.

My mom hung up the phone from where she had called my grandfather to give him the news that we were not coming, and I shuffled off to another part of the house. I remember staring out the window, watching the snow fly and whip around in the wind and wistfully imagining my aunts and uncles and grandfather loading up their cars and driving over to our house. I felt bad, because I thought it was selfish of me wanting to have them risk their own safety in order to make the trip over to my house just for Christmas Eve. Finally, I abandoned my post in the dining room window, went into the living room (but not the den, because the roof in the den/sunroom always creaked heavily whenever we got a lot of snow, as if it was about to cave in at any moment...this has since been fixed, but as a child there was always the looming danger of imminent death and the sheer rapturous joy of watching my father climb up onto the roof with a broom and a shovel to clear it off when he finally got home from work).

Moments after I started working a puzzle by myself, the front door flew open like it had just been kicked off its hinges. SLAM! it met the wall of the dining room. All of us whipped our heads around, certain that part of the house was being crushed beneath the awesome weight of the icicles hanging from the eaves outside my brother's room (my mother had us terrified of all manner of wintery evils while I was a kid) only to find my Uncle Marty (cousin Scott's father) standing triumphantly in the doorway, his glasses fogged over, his scarf whipping about his head and shoulders like an aviator fresh off a cross-country flight, a long brown coat dusted with snow and a cap that fit tight to his skull. In his arms he bore a laundry basket. In the laundry basket was a stack of beautifully wrapped presents.

"Merry Christmas!" he boomed, and he pushed his way into the house to the bay window in my living room where he neatly began depositing the presents.

Behind my Uncle Marty came a whole host of relatives, each bearing presents or candy or, even better, food. Despite my own fears of selfishness, Christmas Eve had come to our house! My father was quick to join my uncles and cousins as they shuffled the last of the Christmas feast and presents into the house. Soon, things were warming in the kitchen and my father, ever the resourceful one, even had found time to start brewing coffee. The house suddenly filled with the buzz of conversation, the warmth of family, and the delicious smells of dinner being cooked in the kitchen. The dining room table was hastily assembled, as well as the auxiliary table for the children. Soon, we were seated around the table. Immediately after, we began opening presents, and right after that? The adults began playing Trivial Pursuit (another holiday tradition).

I can't tell you what I got for Christmas that year, nor how old I was, or even what year it was. But, I do remember it being one of the happiest Christmases of my life, only because, for once, my Christmas wish came true...no matter how selfish I thought it was when I made it. A few hours after they arrived, everyone departed and everyone made it home safely. In the post holiday rush, I remember practically glowing as I made my way to my bed to eagerly await Santa Claus, knowing that he would not be able to make me nearly as happy as my family already had.

So, my friends and other casual blog viewers, Merry Christmas to you all. I certainly hope that this year and every year afterward captures the warmth and joy as that Christmas did for me those long years ago.

A Few Updates

December 18, 2007

Because I absolutely hate leaving stories untold/unfinished...

1) Butch Davis managed to use the rumors of Arkansas wanting to hire him to lobby for a $200,000/year raise and a small extension on his contract. He then went out and managed to lead his team past Duke in overtime on UNC's home field, a game in which they were pretty much outplayed by Duke for most of the game. Former Notre Dame verbal commitment Greg Little, who balked at playing defensive back, proved to be UNC's most effective running back, gaining over 100 yards on the ground. In fact, he was pretty much the only offense the Tarheels could muster.

2) Bobby Petrino, of course, took the Arkansas job, leaving the Atlanta Falcons midseason in order to deepen his sleazy reputation coach the Razorbacks. He pulled the ultimate frat guy trick of leaving a note saying that he was leaving, a few hours after telling the owner that he was "his man" and he'd be there through the thick of it. Nice. It was the equivalent of telling a drunk girl at a college party that you'll always love her, taking her back to your room, having her pass out, bang her, and then leave her on her parents' doorstep in a shopping cart. And then adding a note that says "Thanks, bitch."

3) Rich Rodriguez was hired as Michigan's head coach. This is about nine months after Michigan hired West Virginia's basketball coach, John Beilein, thus making themselves another powerful enemy. I understand Rodriguez's move here as it's a chance to coach one of the nation's premier teams with a storied history in the sport. I seriously don't think it's a lateral move (at best), like some West Virginia fans have claimed. How many National Championships has West Effin' Virginia won? Oh, right. How many have they pissed away losing to the Wandstash? Right, one. Anyway, congrats to Michigan, I think you found a good coach, though I doubt I'll feel so nice and cozy about this hire in, oh, September.

4) While there won't be much whining and gnashing of teeth in Raleigh since Tom O'Brien is staying put, there might be wailing and beating of breasts in Tuscaloosa. Sure, it's internet rumor, but apparently Nick $aban's agent called up the WF'nVU athletic department as soon as Rodriguez was announced, letting them know he was interested. Apparently, a friend of mine tells me, $aban is from West Virginia and so this would be a homecoming for him. The article I read can be found here, via Foul Balls (another fine read, especially if you're a Chicago sports fan). This has moved to the top of my Christmas wishlist, but as long as it gets done by the 28th of December, I'll be happy. See, I'm slated for arrival in Atlanta that day, where my wife's brother AND sister--who both attended the University of Alabama--live, and I can just imagine the gnashing of teeth that will go on. The only drawback is that my wife's grandfather, who attended Auburn, won't be there to egg on the other two as they bemoan the sad fate of their football program.

5) Apparently, there was a bit of a paternity suit brought against beloved Notre Dame alum George Gipp (famously played by Ronald Reagan in "Knute Rockne: All-American"). So, his body was exhumed to grab a DNA sample. Now, the Gipper was a typical college athlete before college athletes became typical: he enjoyed not going to class, getting drunk, and dabbling in the ladies, and by dabbling, I mean fucking. And by ladies I mean blonde, busty college girls. So, the thought of a bastard Gipp running around isn't exactly out of the question.

6) Boudica was a queen of the Iceni people, famous for her red hair and fiery disposition. She led a revolt against several Roman military leaders (I think this was before they were officially an Empire, but I'm not certain on that one) after her husband, Prasutagus, died and willed his kingdom to his daughters--which was not recognized by the Romans. The revolt was successful enough that she managed to burn London to the ground and actually had Nero (so I guess it was an Empire, huh?) ready to pull out of Britannia. She was eventually defeated at the Battle of Watling Street. However, she was "rediscovered" during the Victorian era and much romanticized, inspiring a poem Boadicea by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. She has since appeared in several fictious works, film and television (including a spot on Xena: Warrior Princess) and even has appeared in Civilization II and Civilization IV. Each time she is portrayed with her trademark red hair and fiery disposition, usually as a Warrior Queen of some kind (even as Boodikka, a member of the Green Lantern Corps).

7) I found a new agent to submit a query to. He represents the guy who is writing the last Robert Jordan book. Yes, this means that it could have been yours truly had I not been so effing lazy and addicted to Civilization III. In fact, screw you. I have a war with the Chinese I need to go finish.

My Christmas Wishlist

December 7, 2007

Having been through several coaching searches at Notre Dame (having seen the end of the Davie and O'Leary eras while at ND and then the end of the Willingham and Baer eras as a proud alum), I feel bad for Michigan. The coaching search seems to mostly be a mess thanks to their AD Bill Martin, who seems to be treating the coaching search like the Grand Prize Game.

However, while reading this list of rumors about who is on whose radars for coaching vacancies, I spied this list for U of M.

Michigan: "Candidates: Kirk Ferentz, Greg Schiano, Jim Grobe, Gary Pinkel, Brady Hoke, Tom O'Brien, Jeff Tedford, Ron English, Mike DeBord, Mike Trgovac, Sean Payton."

Oh...please, please, please, PLEASE let it be Tom O'Brien going to Michigan. Not only would the Crown Prince of Mediocrity (the King sitting upon his throne in Seattle...a throne that's slowly heating up) be calling the shots in Ann Arbor, but then whining and crying and gnashing of teeth in Raleigh would be so great to hear. Oh, the streets would flow with the tears of the Wolfpack faithful as their great coach, set to lead them to the promised land, left for greener pastures.

Honestly, I'm surprised Leavitt out of South Florida isn't on more people's lists. I heard his name tossed around earlier in the season as a possible replacement for Weis should Chuckles lay another terd on the field next season.

Please, Santa, make it so. I'll take back that whole terrorist thing.

Styrofoam Peanut Angels, Anyone?

Here is a recent cartoon from Cow & Boy that really hit home, especially this past weekend (the cartoon was printed on Saturday, December 1st; the incident I'm about to recount occured Sunday, December 2nd):



I really like Cow & Boy. I thought the premise (a boy's best friend is a talking cow) was lame when I first came across it, but several Halo references later, I've come to quite enjoy it. It's one of my daily reads. And this one was particularly solid because it captured the spirit of trying to capture a bit more sleep (read, ignore the world for a while) while raising young children.

Anyway, aside from my digression there, last weekend was...interesting. We went to see Santa on Saturday and the kids had their pictures taken (and they were really good pics) with the jolly fat man (who bore an uncanny resemblance to Alton Brown in a beard). Sunday was designated the day we'd go get a tree (and rather than Clark Grizzwald it, I went to the local tree lot), so the air of Christmas has settled over the house. And when it settles on two kids, ages 3 and 6, it's about the same as opening a can of tuna in a house full of cats. Destructive comedy ensues.

In order to get the tree, I felt the need to clean the house up, which was to be the Sunday task. I wanted the house to look pretty when we brought the tree home, plus my wife was at work, so I thought if I could clean the house up, she'd come home, marvel at all the hard work I had done that day and say, "Let's go get that tree!" shortly after ripping her blouse open. I know, I know...the fascination I have with my wife's chest is probably a bit misplaced, given the circumstances, but whatever. That was the plan.

Come Sunday, I tried to ignore the sounds of mirth coming from the downstairs. I tried pulling the covers over my head to squeeze just a bit more sleep out of the morning, but that was not to be. Around 7:30 or so, here comes the little boy asking if we can go to IHOP. Now, IHOP is a perfectly fine place to go...so long as they have breakfast-platters-smothered-in-cream-and-fruit-compote deals going on. However, their normal fare is a bit...insipid...for my tastes. I'd like my sausage to taste like something other than cardboard and/or dust. But that's just me. Plus, Sunday morning is a bad time to go because everyone is there either before going to church or after going to church, and it makes me feel like a tool because I didn't roll my ass out of bed for Church (but I can make it for the cream-and-fruit-compote-smothered breakfast pastries). So, IHOP was off the table as far as negotiations go, but he was insistant that I feed him something for breakfast (and the other one, too), so I had to get out of bed and do something.

I ended up making them pancakes. And they loved them. You know the Bill Cosby routine where he gives his kids cake for breakfast and they're singing the song "Dad is great, he gives us the chocolate cake"? Well, that's how I was treated on Sunday morning. "Daddy is great, for making us pancakes!" Score, right?

So, in the aftermath of breakfast, I went upstairs and checked my email and worked on some stuff in my bedroom and then took my morning constitutional then took my shower. I was probably out of it for 15 to 20 minutes. I get dried off and dressed and come downstairs to find the entire dining room, entryway, and living room covered in half an inch of styrofoam packing peanuts...many of them crushed into tiny little white balls. Before the string of profanity completely forms itself upon my tongue, I see my three-year-old son on his back in the midst of this chaos making styrofoam peanut angels. In my mind's eyes, I saw myself yelling "Why you little!" and giving him the Bart Simpson special.

He looks at me and with that big, infectious three-year-old blond boy grin says, "It snowed, daddy!"

Sigh.

I learned then that styrofoam peanuts sweep up fairly well with a broom and a dustpan, even on carpet. I swept the mess into big piles and then made them both clean up the piles of packing peanuts. I even cut my daughter off before she could get out the "Well, he made the mess" and just pointed to the piles and repeated "clean them up". In fact, most of the downstairs was cleaned by the time the Comely and Buxom Boudicca came home, and though there was no ripping open of blouses, we do have a lovely Christmas tree standing in the back corner of the room.

Now I just need to figure out where my mother-in-law hid the tree skirt...

The Genius of Carl

December 5, 2007

With apologies to Hap, here's my...er...Carl's take on the BCS this year.




This comes from adultswim.com. There's nothing real offensive in here (by my standards), but you also might not want to crank the volume if you work in a cube farm (like me...sorta).

A Brush with Fame?

December 4, 2007

Methinks Stephen Pastis reads this blog.


For the record, Mr. Pastis, I won't cram your head into my coffee cup.

Sexual Images Make Children Have Sex Earlier

December 3, 2007

Apparently, a Victoria's Secret store in a mall in Carmel, IN was made to take down mannequins posed in "suggestive" ways featuring "sexy lingerie". Now, I may be from small town Indiana (much smaller than Carmel, certainly), but even [i]I[/i] know what Victoria's Secret is all about. My mom would refer to it as "whorewear". I prefer to think of it as a toy store.

Anyway, check out this article from the Indianapolis Star. Be warned: one of the mannequins in question is shown in the inset picture. It might make you want to run to the bathroom to relieve some pressure; I just returned from there, myself.

The dumbest part of the article? The woman who "spearheaded" the effort, but is displeased with the pajamas that they put over the mannequins instead. Her response? "Sexual Images Make Children Have Sex Earlier."

No, bitchy moms who try to shield their children from the real world make kids have sex earlier. Or at least encourage them to. I have yet to see a sexual image that forcibly held down a teenager and told them to have sex. Anyone want to place odds on how many copies of Harry Potter this slice of heaven has in her house? I'll bet she makes her kids sleep with the door open.

Note to the mother: If you're going to be stupid, at least do it in the privacy of your own home. And buy a push-up; them things is sagging pretty bad.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to call the buxom and comely Boudicca. There's a sexually-explicit image of a mannequin on the internet that's making me have inappropriate thoughts.

Terror in the Skies, Terror in Disguise

It wasn't until I had children that I realized just how awful the legend of Santa Claus is. I mean, seriously. Once a year, we parents get to wage mental warfare upon our children, using a "right jolly old elf" as a means to scare them into behaving. "He's making a list, he's checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty and nice." I remember getting told these things as a callow youth, which, naturally, forced me into a rigid sense of righteousness toward the end of the year. Couple that with my birthday falling three days before Christmas, and I was pretty much terrified of not receiving any presents if I wasn't a good little boy.

My parents, however, took this a step further. Not only was Santa Claus watching me, but he also had erected an intricate Elven spy network to help double check my goodness (and not necessarily for goodness' sake!) and every once in a while when I would do something out of line, my parents would off-handedly mention that they just saw one of Santa's Elves doing their double check on me. Wow. So not only were the Elves forced into slave labor to manufacture my Transformers for the impending holidays, they were also pressed into the vital information gathering service to report back to the big man in red (and not Bobby Knight...).

This behavior, of course, is being trotted out once more in my household to hold my children to a standard of what I believe to be "good behavior" (as a note, I'll just add that dumping out a box of packing peanuts and laying down in them to make "snow angels" is not, in any way shape or form, good behavior). But when I was sitting back and thinking about this, it suddenly dawned on me what a terrifying proposition Santa Claus truly is.

Not only is he watching every young child in the world (presumably peering in their windows at night...so he's a pervert, to boot), but he has indentured services also doing his dirty work. He runs a sweatshop at the North Pole where he forces captured midgets to do his bidding...or else. He commands an elite strike force of flying reindeer that not only can fly at approximately the speed of light (without vaporizing themselves due to friction in the atmosphere), but they're also elusive to radar sweeps and satellite photographs. They can stop on a dime, land on a rooftop (silently), and take off once more (again silently) all in the course of a few seconds. AND, if some of the Christmas specials are to be believed (Rudolph, I'm looking right at you), they're expert tactical bombers with precision aim and deadly accuracy.

And then there's the big man himself. Able to steal into your homes in the dead of night. Fortunately, we see him as an agent of good, leaving behind presents for all to enjoy. However, couldn't this be a clever ruse? I'll leave you some stuff that I just forced my sprawling network of slave labor to manufacture from raw goods that I buy for pennies on the dollar, and it's all a distraction because I'm in Ur House, Taking all Ur Stuffs (apparently, Santa just morphed into a lolcat). And we're all blinded to this because of the "joy" of Christmas morning. I mean, how many people, after the holidays are over say "Where did all my money go?" Uh huh. You can thank Santa for that one.

I realize that Futurama's Santa Bot has several of the same qualities that I've outlined here. I thought of that after I got done with most of the meat of the post, but great minds and all. Anyway, I'm here to tell you, people: do not be fooled. He's watching you will ill intent roiling just under his skin. It's true.

And if this doesn't get me on the Naughty list, I don't know what will.