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Inspirational Reads

It Came Upon A Midnight...Not So Clear

December 27, 2010

The snow came Christmas night, giving us the first White Christmas (maybe not Christmas morning, but we'll take it) in six decades.

By tomorrow, it will probably be all but gone. Such is the ephemeral nature of snow in the North Carolina piedmont. But, hey, we'll take it, because snow is fucking awesome and puts me in a good mood whenever it arrives.

Plus, I was able to make a new friend, Albert, the Dapper English Snow Gentleman.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. XCIV

December 24, 2010

Felix dies Nativitatis!

Pronounced: "Fay-leeks dee-ace Nah-tee-wee-tah-teese!"

Translation in the hovertext.

You should be able to figure out now why Feliz Navidad is Spanish for Merry Christmas!

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol XCIII

December 17, 2010

As promised, I went and got the family's Christmas tree last weekend.


I ended up going to Lowes...which, as I've mentioned before, isn't a suitable place to buy things like plumbing supplies, wood screws or light bulbs. Naturally, a Christmas tree is a perfect thing to buy from there, right?

Well, it seemed so. The tree didn't look too bad. Of all the twigs trees left, the one I selected was the best-looking one. So, I hefted it up, much to the delight of my children who were impressed by my feat of strength, and carried it up front. An old man asked if I'd like it trimmed a little bit and if I want the bottom branches cut off. Well, sure, I would, I said. I set it in the holder and then watched as the old man picked up an electric chain saw and could not figure out why it was not working.

"You may want to plug that in," I pointed out to the old man. He chuckled, plugged the saw in, and cut my tree. He then proceeded to mutilate the bottom part of the tree as he chopped off smaller branches with all the grace and dexterity of a drunken rhinoceros.

I took the tree, paid for it, and headed out to the car where I had to toss it in the back--Lowes, help you tie something to the roof? Perish the motherfuckin' thought. We drove home and I prepared lunch for the children and then decided to try my best to get the tree on the base. However, there's no hole in the base, so I have the bash the fucking base onto the tree, which doesn't go so well because all I can find is a rubber mallet and a flooring hammer. At this point, I'm a little incensed, but I finally get the tree on there far enough I feel it won't fall over.

I brought the tree in and watered it, twisting and turning it so that the thin spots were as hidden as possible. At that point, my hands were covered in sap and rosin, my arms and face were scratched by the needles, I had hit my head on the back hatch to my car, and my patience was at an end.

The following day, after letting the branches of the tree settle, I sighed at how shitty the tree looked. It's not that it's a bad little tree, Charlie Brown, it's just that it's not very wide. And it's a bit...uneven...gappy even. But, it's a tree, and it's indoors, and that's what it's about, right?

So, I started to put the lights on the tree when I suddenly realized that the outlet in front of which I parked the tree doesn't work. I didn't swear--too much--at this miscalculation on my part (read: boneheaded mistake because I didn't remember that half of the outlets in my living room don't work). I finally found an extension cord, plugged in the lights and strung the lights around the tree. Unfortunately, my glasses are so old and so bad and so scratched that it actually hurts to look at the lights of the tree because they are so blurred. My wife fixed the lighting issue for me.

I left the decorating to the kids, and they did an admirable job with it. It might not be the White House Christmas Tree or the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, but it's good enough for us. I'm sure Santa Claus will find it suitable for present deposition on Christmas morning.

That is, if I can find where I put the tree skirt after I washed it last year...

With all that in mind, I think this might be my last real tree, as this could be the most annoying one that I've had to buy and set up so far. And when the time comes to take the tree down, you can be damned sure that I'll be firing this little phrase off when I need to dispose of the body. Or bough. Or whatever the fuck it is.

Neca igni!

Pronounced: "Nay-cah eeg-nee!"

Hot translation in the hovertext.

Just the tree. She can stay.

Legend has it that the Christmas tree became a symbol of Christianity when one Saint Boniface (his name is Latin for "doer of good deeds"--see how that works out?) decided that he'd had enough of the pagan symbol of Thor's Oak tree. So, he did the logical thing: he cut it down.

The reasons for cutting down the tree were many, but they mostly revolved around getting rid of a site sacred to a pagan god. He also wanted to show that Thor wasn't all that, and that his mighty oak could be destroyed. When everyone saw that Thor did not strike Boniface down for felling his mighty tree, they converted to Christianity.

Boniface then noticed that, among the roots, a tiny fir tree was growing. Being the opportunist that he was, Boniface said that the fir tree should become a symbol of Christ. He then began to spread Christianity throughout the German world, including Bavaria, making him the Patron Saint of Brewers.

Germans and Swedes had for a long time been decorating evergreen trees during the darkest part of the winter in order to welcome the coming spring. They would hang candles and apples and paper stars and all sorts of shit from the trees in a midwinter celebration. Some of the trees were left in the yard, some were cut down and propped up next to the door, and some were brought inside. Eventually, the two traditions were combined, and the modern-age Christmas tree was born. The Germans eventually brought the tradition to America in the 18th century, about two hundred years after the practice of decorating a fir tree became widely associated with Christmas.

Despite all this, and his connection to the Christmas tree, St. Boniface's day of veneration is June 5th. Makes perfect fucking sense.

Felix dies natalis Christi.

The Greatest Christmas Picture Ever?

December 16, 2010

I've already switched my Facebook profile picture to reflect my esteemed opinion of this photo. I don't know how they could make this better or more Christmas Card worthy. Maybe put a Santa Hat on the walrus? A Christmas tree in the background? Mistletoe over his head?

I don't know, but I applaud the people who did this. It's comedy gold. It works on so many levels. It's genius.

Okay, it's a walrus eating the hell out of some cake in the shape of a Christmas tree. I think it's made funnier by a) it being a walrus, an animal with a name just as silly as its appearance and b) the fact that the walrus has no thumbs, and therefore must dive face-first into his snack.

How I long to be the walrus...

If I had time, I'd print this out and slap a Merry Christmas on it and send it out as a Christmas card. At the very least, it's a helluva lot better than a cartoon drawing of a puma fist pumping his excitement over my birthday.

Screw the snowy chapel picture, Saint Joe. Next year, I want funny walrus pictures in my electronic in-box.

Or, better yet, funny walrus movies...

All I Want for Christmas

December 15, 2010

Is for you to shut the fuck up.

I like Christmas music. I honestly, actually, truthfully do. I don't mind at all when a couple of the local stations fire up ye olde carols in the middle of November and don't stop until Christmas evening. I'm fine with it.

I'm not fine with the fact that the programming manager at the local station doesn't realize that more than five Christmas songs exist. Yes, I, too, love me some Trans-Siberian Carol of the Bells. I don't love it seven times an hour. I don't love Dan Fogelberg's Same Auld Lang Syne at all. Well, maybe once, but that's only to remind me how much I don't like it.

And, please, Baby It's Cold Outside is a Date Rape song, not a Christmas song. She wants to go home, and Dino slips something in her drink. She finds it hard to resist. When Dean's saying "it's cold outside", he means his dick is cold outside of his pants.

But...but...if he's singing it to Zooey Deschanel...well...I totally understand.

I just wish--my one, true holiday wish, Santa--is for these radio people to understand that there's more Christmas music than the same ten songs that they play over and over and over and over again. Dean Martin is great, when he's not drunk and/or trying to slip a little something something into baby's drink, or ass, or both. Frank Sinatra has more than just one song. And while I do enjoy the smooth jazz stylings of the Merry Christmas Charlie Brown soundtrack, it gets old. Fast. Especially when it's on repeat.

You guys ever hear of the Binger, Bing Crosby? He's like Dean Martin, except not drunk all the time and--as far as I know--doesn't try to drug some young woman into a "white Christmas" and his "holiday inn", if you know what I'm saying. If you don't, well, you need to catch up on your classic Christmas movies. Commie. Also, what the hell? Barenaked Ladies made one helluva Christmas album a few years ago, with new songs and traditional. And it's awesome. Try throwing that in every once in a while instead of another rendition of Frosty the Snowman.

The one, however, that galls me the most is Mariah Carey. *shudders visibly*

It seems every commercial break, those slow, stupid notes are picked out on a synthesized keyboard and she starts in with her bad porn moaning. I scream. I curse. I switch the channel to the other Christmas station, only to catch the ass-end of "All I Want for Christmas Is You". It's time to go Oedipus on my earholes.

I finally shut the radio off in the car the other day. I only listen to the Christmas music now when I'm driving with the kids somewhere. Otherwise, I have audiobooks that I listen to, and some of the subject material is a little...coarse...for their tender ears. That same day I stomped into the house after enduring Mariah Carey three times in the span of an hour's drive. I had had enough. My nerves were shot. My ears were bleeding. There wasn't enough alcohol in the house.

Trying to escape the merry jolliness of the holiday, I went to the kitchen to start making dinner. My kids were flipping through the stations on the television and turned to Nickelodeon. I stepped into the room for a second to ask a favor of one of them.

What should greet me, but Miranda Cosgrove singing..."All I Want for Christmas Is You". I fell to the floor in the fetal position and wept. Openly. My daughter had the kind grace to change the channel.

You know who Miranda Cosgrove is, right? She's the "star" of Nickelodeon's tween show, "iCarly". Personally, I don't watch "iCarly". The judge was pretty specific in his ruling about that. *shifty-eyed* He also said I couldn't really discuss it openly. *polite cough*

In what I assume is Nickelodeon's answer to Demi Lovato, Miranda Cosgrove also sings. Naturally, she decided it was imperative that she pollute my airwaves with another rendering of that abortion of Christmas music. And while I'm sure she's a fine singer and all, I just wish that she had chosen...well, anything else.

So, basically, all I want for Christmas is for that fucking song to die. To go away. To disappear and never be heard from again.

Like the chick that Dino slipped the mickey to shortly before realizing he had overdosed her and that someone had better help him move this fucking body else there would be hell to pay. And while you're at it, freshen his martini. It is Christmas after all.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. XCII

December 10, 2010

This is the weekend when I finally go and get a Christmas tree. As we support the wholesale slaughter of evergreen trees, I'll be picking up a "live" tree. This is why I'm getting the tree only three weeks before Christmas. It's an attempt to lower the potential of the tree bursting into flame (always a damper for the holiday celebration) and to slow the inevitable dumping of needles onto the carpet in my living room. I'm thinking, however, that I might invest in a nice artificial tree next year as well as an evergreen-scented candle. Not only will I have the smell of a tree, but I'll also have a cozy light of a candle to warm myself by during the cold, dark weeks leading up to the arrival of winter. Plus, then I'll be able to turn the heat up a little bit and not freeze my ass off quite so much. *rubs frostbitten cheeks*

Of course, the Christmas tree isn't the only bit of vegetation we invite into the home during the holiday season. Mistletoe is also a popular sprig of greenery to hang over doorways and zippers, all in a hope for a quick kiss stolen beneath it's green leaves and white berries.

Don't laugh at the notion of the mistletoe hanging over the belt. Mistletoe, despite being a parasitic plant, has always been seen as a sign of virility, romance and fertility. The Celts used to think that it would help cure barren animals, and mistletoe berries were often baked into cakes used for religious ceremonies. Most likely, the reason for the connection to fertility and virility is because the white berries of mistletoe look like drops of semen.

Mistletoe also figures prominently in the mythology of the Norsemen. Odin sired twin sons by his wife Frigg, Baldr and Hodr. Baldr was the most beautiful child ever born, mortal or divine, and Hod happened to be blind. Frigg doted on Baldr because of his beauty, but Frigg also had a problem. She had a bit of a Cassandra complex (see what I did there?) in that she was gifted with the ability to predict the future, but no one would believe her if she said or did anything about it.

One night, Frigg had a dream that Baldr would die (one thing about the Norse gods: they were quite mortal, yet they did not die of natural causes nor did they age after they reached adulthood...but that's a different story altogether). Upset that her beautiful son was slated to sleep with the lutefisks, Frigg went around the world and asked everything to make a pledge that it would not harm Baldr. As everyone loved Frigg--she was quite beautiful, herself, and is an archetypical Mother Earth goddess--everything promised it would not harm Baldr. However, when she came to the mistletoe, it seemed too young to be of any worry, and so Frigg didn't bother to get an oath from it.

By this point, Loki had eaten a witch's heart, thereby gaining the blackness of her soul. Loki thusly changed his attitude toward the gods of the Norse pantheon--it was they who had killed the witch and burnt her corpse, and apparently her resentment lingered in her heart after her death. Mmm. Delicious hate.

One night, in Odin's mead hall, all the gods had gathered and started playing a game wherein they threw things at Baldr. Since he could not be harmed, nothing damaged him. Rocks, arrows, swords, hammers, all of it bounced harmlessly off Baldr. It was great fun. Especially if you're drunk off mead.

Out of the cold came a stooped and bent old woman--Loki in disguise--who also enjoyed the fun. As the festivities continued on, however, poor Hodr, Baldr's blind twin brother, kept trying to shoot arrows at Baldr but missed. Because he was blind, and couldn't see to shoot straight. Kind of like a Storm Trooper.

The old woman stepped up behind Hodr and helped him aim at Baldr. She then gave him an arrow forged out of mistletoe, which had not sworn not to harm Baldr. When Hodr released the arrow, it struck Baldr in the chest and killed him instantly. Frigg was devastated, Odin was enraged, and the closest thing to all Hel breaking loose occurred (see what I did THERE?).

Odin immediately sired a son with the goddess Rindr (presumably, Frigg was too distraught with grief over Baldr's death to put out...Frigg spent the rest of her life weeping over the loss of Baldr) who sprang from Mama's loins and grew into adulthood. Vali was his name, and his sole purpose in life was to kill Hodr for murdering Baldr, accident or not.

Odin then sent another god, Hermodr, into Hel, the realm of the dead to ask for Baldr's return to Asgard, the home of the Norse gods. Hel, the goddess who presides over her eponymous realm, said she would release Baldr if everything in the world wept for his death. Hermodr returned and reported this, and Frigg went about getting everything to weep. She was successful until she came to one giant--again, Loki in disguise--who refused to weep. Thus, without that giant's tears, Baldr was relegated to living in Hel until Ragnarok. At that time, he would survive (as would Hodr), and rule over the reborn world. If I remember correctly, Vali survives, as well, which ought to lead to some rather awkward times in their post-apocalyptic world.

Because of mistletoe's role in the death of Baldr, Frigg declared it a sacred plant, and deemed that it should no longer be a plant associated with death. Instead, she wished it to be considered a plant of love. Whenever any two people would pass under the mistletoe, they were to lay down arms and have a truce with one another. This eventually morphed into kissing beneath the mistletoe--either to seal the truce or as courting ritual if a man and a woman passed beneath the mistletoe.

And, if they were from a bit further south on the continent and were fully, lusty lovers, perhaps they would utter something like this to one another upon passing beneath the mistletoe:

Osculare mea praedulcia labra!

Pronounced: "Oh-skew-lah-ray may-ah pry-dool-key-ah lah-brah!"

Exceedingly sweet double entendre in the hovertext

Traditionally, mistletoe can be kept over the doorways in the house either until Candlemas, when the last of the Christmas greenery is traditionally taken down, or can remain in the house year round. The mistletoe is supposed to also help ward off lightning strikes and fires for the house, bring good fortune, and--naturally--help bring babies to the house. However, if you keep mistletoe up all year, you should take it down on Christmas Eve and replace it with a new sprig. This helps re-up the good luck and fertility invocation of the plant.

Another tradition is to remove a berry every time you kiss someone under the mistletoe. When there are no more berries, there are no more kisses for you, buster. I'm sure there's also some lore connected with the kiss corresponding to the final berry will be the kiss you share with your future wife.

Mistletoe also is typically shown with three berries in a clump, which makes perfect sense. With its symbolism hearkening back to semen, an average man is only good for about three white showers a day, if you know what I mean. Not that I would have first hand knowledge about that. *shifty-eyed*


December 9, 2010

December is my birthday month. As I have been around these here internets for a few years, I've signed into various forums boards and community sites and created accounts on several retailers' sites. A lot of places, mostly to be nice, will send me birthday greetings and electronic well wishes on my birthday.

Not so, however, with a few places. I wasn't born until the waning days of the month, but that didn't stop Best Buy from sending me birthday greetings on December 1st. To celebrate my birthday, Best Buy invited me to shop at their store, to buy a little something for myself to reward myself for the hard work of living another year. No special offers. No special deals. No coupons. No sales. Just come into our store and spend your money on you. It's your birthday (eventually)! Why wouldn't you?

Now, that's quite a concept. I had never thought of indulging myself in an hedonistic, electronic manner! Why, I can feel the warmth of your birthday greetings glowing all the way through my screen, Best Buy. That's really kind of you to think of me and to invite me to shop at your store where I will give you my hard-earned cash for some shitty gadget that you will naturally want me to buy seven other gadgets for, not to mention the extended warranty on these things. This is how it always goes with Best Buy, and usually gets played out something like this:

I just wanted a box of batteries. Really? For $50, we can insure those batteries. Will they never run out of electricity? No, they'll run out, about an hour after you put them into the device. Will you replace them? No, you'll have to buy all new. You can insure those for another $50, or you could go ahead and insure these AND those for the low price of $125. What say you?

Fuck off, Best Buy.

The other entity that decided to send me birthday greetings, because it's my birthday month, was my alma mater. Not Notre Dame. This was from my undergrad, St. Joseph's. And, well, I could almost feel the warmth and love that the nourishing mother was trying to spread as she enfolded me within her loving arms with this dandy of a birthday card:

*sigh* Really? This is where my donations go? Not to scholarship, not to improving facilities, not to building new dorms, not to raising the professors' pay or to buy books for the library. The money goes to design and draw a shitty cartoon puma with slapped-on clip-art balloons and mixed font text. And what the hell is he leaning on? Invisibul fyrplace mantel? Is his tail made of reinforced steel, and that's propping him up? I guess with the way his right hand is held, his feet could have gotten tangled when he tried to escape after someone caught him masturbating.

Whatever the story, this card and picture are truly awful. Way to step into 1995, St. Joe. This horrific rendering of an anthropomorphic puma truly embodies the ideals of Catholic education proclaimed by the college.

Here, St. Joe, because it's my birthday month, I'll help you out, and for free even. Next year, send something that looks like this:

It's a rather lovely tableau, one of the most recognizable aspects of the college, and it's quite fetching with the snow cover and the frozen fountain. For spring birthdays, send one with the trees in flower. For summer, the trees can be leafed out, the sky blue, the grass green. For the fall birthdays, send a picture with the trees in full autumnal regalia. You can even move the camera around so that you can capture the chapel at different angles. Just don't send anymore of this cartoon puma shit, okay?

If that doesn't strike your fancy, just send us old Calvin and Hobbes cartoons.

Click to embiggen

Hat tip to Sully for the Calvin and Hobbes idea.

Now, Don't Get Me Wrong

December 8, 2010

It occurred to me that some might misinterpret my post from Monday, the one wherein I was taunting and making fun of the local weather forecasters and their inability to get anything right. I was just making fun of those who cast their lots with oracle bones and tea leaves...or satellites and thirty-year statistical averages. Actually, for the weather shamans around here, oracle bones and tea leaves might be a step up.

Here's the thing, though: while I enjoy taunting the weather people about how much snow we would get and how cold it is, I really love this weather. I like cold weather. I love the bracing burn of the cold air on your cheeks in the morning (either set) when you step from the cozy warmth of the house...or the temperature comfort of my house (*grumbles something indecent about insulation codes in the early 80s*).

Granted, I did live in one of the snowier parts of America for four years, which might lend itself to why I love this time of year so much. Although, one year we got 48 inches of snow in December. That may have been a little too much. I'm a tall man, but 48 inches of snow is well past the bottom of my scroat, and that's the cut-off level for tolerance in my world.

So, naturally, this past weekend when it was snowing, it was awesome. For one, I love the snow. For twosies, it doesn't snow too much down here in North By God Carolina. And for threesies, the snow makes my friend, JoeZone, cry. Not that I like seeing Joe cry; the snow just makes me think of his sadness and how I can tease him about it on Monday.

>However, as much as I enjoy the snow, the cold, the gloomy, overcast skies, there are two other things that I enjoy more than anything about this time of year:

Tight sweaters and knee-high fuck-me boots.


December 7, 2010

The holiday times are upon us once more, and that means it's time to crank up the old family traditions. You know, those things that you don't really want to do, but you do them anyway because you'd feel guilty if you didn't do them? Right. Those things. The holidays are steeped in them.

Growing up, we had a tradition of going to my grandparents' houses on Christmas Eve. Early in the afternoon it was my paternal grandmother's house, and then it was my maternal grandfather's house for the evening. I enjoyed grandpa's house more, mostly because it was bigger and he had a larger, nicer tree. My grandmother's tree was small and white. It felt more holiday-ish at my grandfather's house. Also, my grandmother was a woman who was a bit more prim and proper and so you couldn't hike up on one ass cheek and let fly with a ripe, juicy fart. It just wasn't done. My grandfather would actually applaud you if it was a good one.

High brow lot, my family.

There was also the chance that a game of Trivial Pursuit would break out, which would eventually devolve into a lot of swearing, and when you're a kid, hearing your elders cursing over their lack of trivial knowledge is damned funny. The adults would play the game, the kids would play with our toys or watch the marathon of shitty stop-action animation holiday specials that was broadcast on Channel 55 for the three days prior to and including Christmas Day. It was bliss.

As I got older and my grandparents died, we would just gather at each other's houses for a meal on Christmas Eve, more games and swearing, and more shitty television. The gatherings would just rotate between my mom and her two sister's houses. Now, however, our families are so far-flung (North Carolina, Oregon, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne) that a holiday get-together isn't practical.

Plus, I'm married. Which means that I have a whole new set of traditions to absorb and work into my holiday repertoire. For instance, one tradition my wife and I have is that we don't have the sex for the last three months out of the year. Of course, this doesn't really differ from the other nine months, but now it's more festive because I can hide inopportune boners under Santa hats.

Love ya, puddin'!

The other major holiday tradition that she brings to the table is a heaping, steaming helping of holiday guilt. Traditionally, her parents start layering it on really good and solid starting in about July. It goes something like this:

"I know that it would be inconvenient to you, but we really want you to load up all your family into the car, drive seven hours to a small, cramped house that's not heated and doesn't have cable and has insufficient beds for everyone and uncomfortable furniture and two showers and nowhere for the kids to play. Leave your kids' Christmas presents at home and, even though your husband has nothing in common with the rest of your family, that sonuvabitch better not bring a book or a video game or anything like that to entertain himself with. That fat bastard is going to sit on those uncomfortable couches in that cramped house and be forced to watch marathons of 'Keeping up with the Kardashians' until he wants to go Oedipus Rex on himself with a pair of hat pins or--if he can't find those--corn cob holders, and he's going to like it or else we'll have an intervention where we try to talk you into divorcing him. We don't care if you have to work. We don't care if you don't have vacation. We don't care if your children would rather stay home and play with their new toys. We don't care if you don't want to be here. You will be here or else you'll be further ostracized from the family."

Or something to that effect. Every year. Starting in the summer. Usually, the guilt starts being applied in the hopes that we pick up and drive somewhere for Thanksgiving but then it really gets ramped up to eleven for Christmas. Because nothing says "Praise the birth of our Lord and Savior" like being surrounding by people drinking shitty beer, playing Hearts, sitting on crappy couches in a cold house with no television to watch. God was made flesh to enhance our misery, right? Right.

Fortunately, we now have an ace in the hole: my wife has been promoted to manager, and so she has to be at the store during the holidays. Yahtzee! No driving to Atlanta for us! Ka-loo, Ka-lay!

Granted, this misery could all be alleviated if I simply rented a hotel room whenever we showed up for holiday family functions. That shit's expensive, though. Yet, if I was a rich man...

A Few of My Favorite Things...

December 6, 2010

As you may have picked up on here over the long has it been? Four? Yeah, let's go with four years, is that I love to make fun of how inept weather forecasters are. A lot of my vitriol is directed toward the boobs on the Weather Channel--Jeff Morrow, I'm looking at you. Not really. You have a huge head and it angers me. But the rest of you are on my list.

But not you, Maria LaRosa. I couldn't be angry with you even if you ate live kittens on national television...which might actually be good theater. Admit it. You'd tune in just to see how that went.

Anyway, I was watching the local forecast on Friday to get an idea about how the weekend would shape up since I was planning on doing some outdoorsy type work and putting up Christmas lights. That's when I heard the local forecast say there was a slight chance for some flurries or some light snow on Saturday night during the overnight, but any accumulations would be confined to the areas near the Virginia border.

Oh cool, I thought, A little bit of snow would set a lovely background for the holiday season.

I even told my wife. "They're calling for some flurries on Saturday night. Just to let you know." She had to work, so I thought I would warn her. We both then laughed, because, if they call for snow, it's more likely that it'll be 90 degrees and sunny. Even at night.

Saturday arrived and I took my son with me and we went and got our hair cut, we did some Christmas shopping for my wife, and then we grabbed some lunch--McDonalds, the Lunch of Champions! Well, he's a champ. I'm a tubby white guy hurtling toward middle-age.

On the way home, I noticed some shit flying by the window. "Hey, buddy!" I said, "I think that's snow!"

"It is! It is snow!" he said in his gleeful, charged-up on McDonalds six-year-old voice! "Oh, it's going to be awesome!"

See, told you he's a champ.

I didn't want to crush his little heart, though, by telling him that the few flurries we saw sail past the windshield would probably be it for the snow. It stopped after a few seconds, and he wondered where the snow went. I explained it to him that there's probably some bands of snow moving through the clouds, and he understood.

We made it home with only a few more flurries and got inside. I started up another load of laundry, and saw a few more intermittent flakes float past the window, so I ran into the living room to open the blinds so that the kids could see it. I returned to my domestic chores and looked up to see actual snow falling from the sky. No more of this flurry shit. This was actual snow.

I went back into the living room and pointed it out to the kids. They were enthused and watched it for a few seconds and then I went to make my daughter some lunch (she's a champ, too, but I didn't bring her any lunch because it would have been cold and everyone knows that cold McDonalds only tastes good when you're hungover and ALREADY filled with remorse). The kids were talking about playing in the snow and my heart sank because, well, we weren't getting any kind of measurable snowfall out of this. The weather men had forecasted a few flurries, and, to be honest, I was surprised it snowed at all.

Imagine my further surprise when I dished up a bowl of soup for my daughter and saw that the backyard was white-ish already.

Holy Shit! I thought, This could be for real!

And, it was. We ended up with about two inches of snow on the ground, which the kids got to play in and enjoy. I do feel kind of sad, however, because if I wasn't there for them to pelt with snowballs, I don't think they'd get any enjoyment out of life.

The truly funny thing about the snow shower event was that the local hacks were still on the television, saying that there might be a slight chance of snow, but there shouldn't be any accumulation. The National Weather Service then popped up with a Winter Weather Advisory (because if there's anything that frightens Southerners more than diversity, it's snow), and yet the locals were saying that accumulations would only be significant in the counties bordering Virginia.


*sigh* It was fun, however. I had forgotten how great it is to look out the window in the gloaming of nightfall during a solid snow event, when the edges of everything sort of blur into the background and the flakes drift through the picture. It's quite lovely.

Not as lovely as Maria LaRosa wearing a pair of fuck-me boots, but lovely nonetheless.

I Have Not Gone...

December 2, 2010

...I have simply been busy.

Well, that's not entirely true. It's not like I haven't wedged a lot of midget porn into my daily routine.

However, at home, I'm without the internets. It's a scary and daunting thing, folks, mostly because it's tougher to find midget porn without the Googles to help me. Oh, sure, I can go downtown, but the weather has turned colder and now the street performers are asking for two quarters and a bottle of Thunderbird to service a goat to the cheering approval of onlookers. That, quite frankly, is exactly two bits more than I'm willing to part with.

Of course, this being the modern era and whatnot, harumph harumph, my phone is tied into my internets, so I can't even call each and every one of you and apologize for the lack of posting and/or simply leave some heavy breathing and the occasional grunt and sigh of exaltative release in your voice mail.

What makes this doubly damning is that I had to dedicate a large part of my lunch hour to sitting on the phone being told the merits and greatness of Time Warner Cable's many options that you can't get anywhere else in the world. Oh sure, they forgot to mention "spotty coverage" and "shitty customer service" in their litany of incredible services, but whatever. Since I'm not at home, I couldn't tell the tech service man if the light was blinking on my device (nothing like vagueness in your trouble-shooting questions. Which light? Which device? No, I don't think the vibrator is supposed to light up. Why do you ask?). His advice was to go home, turn it off, turn it back on, and then call advanced customer support if this does not remedy the situation.

Which I, of course, can't do if the internet no longer works as the phone remains dead.

I apologize for any lack of...whatever it is you get from this slice of the FORTRAN pie...but, for the time being, my hands are tied. How? Together. To the bedframe. In a Gordian knot. However you like it. I just thought this blog needed more Toni Braxton pictures.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. XCI

November 26, 2010

Oh, dearest Ceres...sign me up for the third circle of Hell. *pats sides of voluminous potbelly* I certainly put the celebration in the harvest celebration this year.

If my non-American friends will excuse me for just a moment...yesterday was Thanksgiving, of course, and I'm feeling a bit lethargic. Is there a holiday that's any more American than Thanksgiving? I mean, where else would you celebrate the largess of the fields to the extreme like here in America? Oh sure, Fourth of July with it's mayonnaise-based fare and explosions is theoretically more American than Thanksgiving, but we're a people who love to eat. By God, yesterday was the pinnacle of the celebrating-by-eating holiday.

You know who else enjoyed celebrating holidays by eating too much? Yep, the Romans. And the Greeks. And the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Ethiopians and...well...pretty much every civilization that's ever thought twice about setting aside days on the calendar for purpose of a party. In fact, civilization itself might have begun because people liked getting together and eating. Either that or folks were just fucking tired of wandering around all over the place and said "Here! I'm building a city here!"

I hope you all had good holidays. All four of us got involved in the cooking this year for the Thanksgiving holiday. We had ham and turkey, mashed potatoes, cheese peas, deviled eggs, cranberry salad/relish, dressing, crescent rolls, a dish from Emeril involving bacon, apples and squash and Guy Fieri's sweet potatoes. Oh, fuck, it was good. And then there was butterscotch pie, lemon chess pie, and my wife made me one fucking awesome pumpkin pie. Smooth and creamy and my my my, was it delicious. Every year, I promise myself I'm not going to make an ass of myself when it comes time to eat. Last year, that was not a problem. This year, the fare was much better and, well, holy wow, did I spend the afternoon in a bloated state of lethargy that brought a broad smile and a touch of indigestion to my lips. It was a Bacchanalian orgy of carbohydrates, fats and deliciousness.

And, of course, when it was done, I uttered this mouthful of happiness:

Non possum credere me totum edisse...

Pronounced: "Nohn poh-soom cray-day-ray may toh-toom aye-dee-say..."

Bloated translation in the hovertext

The other nice thing about this Thanksgiving is that I'm not going out to fight the crowds for "deals" on Friday morning, nor am I driving back from any extended family members' houses after the holiday. I'm home, where I can lay on my couch, rethink all the bad decisions I made yesterday (Oh, yes, I'll have some more!) and be the worthless lump of humanity that I am.

That's what long weekends are for, right?

Happy Thanksgivin, Y'all!!!

November 25, 2010

As my wife and I are preparing a genuine (pronounced "Jen-yew-WINE!") southern Thanksgiving (read: Everything fried), I'm taking time out from surfing Thanksgiving porn...and wow, did Squanto ever show those Puritans the proper way to "bury a fish for fertility" getting last minute candied yam ideas just to wish you, my friends, family and complete strangers from the internet, a Happy Thanksgiving.

Let us celebrate the fertility of the land...and the loins of a gobbler and hen turkey...with a festive feast, good cheer, family togetherness, and pie. Lots of goddamned pie.

Now, please, for the love of God, would somebody lock Al Roker away in a vault somewhere and throw away the key?

Fie! A Pox Upon Me!

November 17, 2010

Last Friday, despite the best efforts of Duke's only attractive undergrad female and her...otherworldly...attributes, I began to fall ill. It was one of those illnesses that had an onset of about thirty seconds. One moment I'm bipping along, happy as can be, the next it feels like one of my eyes in drooping into my sock and my head is suddenly filled with a highly viscous, putrid yellow jelly.

It was the normal type of illness: stuffy head, lots of mucus, sore throat, lots of mucus, rattling cough, lots of mucus, sneezing. I'd touch on the mucus factor again, but I don't want to beat a dead horse, mostly because dead horses get turned into glue which just reminds me of more mucus.

The big thing, however, was that I was just drained of energy. I spent a lot of time in bed and on the couch. Okay, so I spent more time than usual on the couch and in bed. Smartass.

I am now, if not fully convalesced, at least doing much better. I feel pretty good, truth be told. I've still got the gummy, semi-dry boogs stuck in my nose, which are actually kind of fun to pick out and flick at my kids. The thing that's annoying is the ever-present smell of stale piss that seems to permeate snot as it dries into drywall putty inside your nose. I blow it out, and suddenly everything smells of stale urine. I know it's not me, because I haven't pissed myself in the past couple of days (at least), and I'm bathed. It's the stupid, lousy mucus clinging to the insides of my nasal and sinus passages. It has to be.

*changes underwear just to be safe*

However, it's not the thick, gummy paste stuck in my head that is the most annoying thing about being sick. Sure, it's annoying being sick, but at least my kids are old enough they can entertain themselves when I'm down like I was over the weekend. Also, they bring me medicine and drinks. I suspect it has something to do with the proximity of Christmas and not so much any great love they have for their father.

No, this most annoying thing of which I speak is a distinctly male issue. When I start to run a fever, everything is cold. I shiver. I feel an annoying cold that I just can't seem to shake. My entire body starts going into cold mode. I shiver. I shake. I huddle close.

However, my scrotum doesn't. It recognizes that the brain has cranked the old internal temperature up a few degrees and, in an attempt to protect the optimal sperm-production temperature, my scrote dives. Oh, sure, Captain Longsword turtles up into his hidey-hole, but not my Balzac. The old coinpurse dives for my knee. I have to hitch it up over my shoulder in order to walk to the kitchen.

As you can imagine, this leads to some rather embarrassing moments for me personally. While trying to sleep off the affects of cold medication and to recover from the heavy fatigue that was weighing down on me, my wife slipped under the covers with me and patted my thigh. Brushing the massive bulge on the inside of my thigh, a look of wonder twinkles in her eye and she draws near.

"Oh," she purrs into my ear, "are you happy to see me?"

I look over through a haze of cold medications and muster a beguiling smile.

"No, sorry, dear, I'm just feverish."

Fortunately, I'm feeling better now, so my wife can return to her regularly-scheduled disappointment.

A Crudely-Rendered Latin Post

November 12, 2010

Hiatus is Latin for "an opening, a gap in something".

It's what you've been seeing here for the past few days. A hiatus, an opening in the somewhat daily parade of posts that, for the most part, decorate this little piece of the internet.

Normal posting will resume next week. I hope. Until then, enjoy this picture of the one attractive girl on Duke's campus.

Suum hiatum volo videre...

Pronounced: "Soo-oom hee-ah-toom woe-loe wee-dair-aye..."

You know where to get the translation...

It's relevant because it's basketball season.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. XC

November 5, 2010

Salvete, Omnes!

Here we are again, a Friday morning upon us. And a cold, damp and dark one at that, for those of us in the northern hemisphere. At least around my little part of the hemisphere, that is.

A lot of Latin phrases have survived from antiquity into the modern era, mostly because their meaning is not lost on us in modern times. In vino veritas is one of those phrases. It's also one of those phrases that we need to infer part of the phrase for it to make sense in English. It means "In wine, (there is) truth." The "there is" is implied for we speakers of the barbaric English tongue.

It means that, when one is deep into his or her cups, the speaker is more likely to tell you what they actually feel rather than what they think you want them to say. It's a pretty good summary of the affects of alcohol loosening the tongue, and seemed to be just as common in Roman times as it is today.

However, truth isn't the only thing that can be found in a bottle of wine...or beer.

In cervesia, pulchritudo.

Pronounced: "In care-ways-ee-ah, pool-kree-too-doh."

Boozy translation in the hovertext.

Really, this was just an excuse to use my favorite advertisement for Olde English malt liquor. You can substitute vino in for cervesia and get the wine version of this phrase.

Got time for a fun little story that's only somewhat related to the text?

Sure you do.

Vino isn't only the ablative and dative form of the word for wine in Latin, it's the name of this Indian dude I hung out with in grad school. Vino was from Dekalb, IL, born and raised here in 'Merica. Despite this, he still lived up to every Asian stereotype there is about bad drivers. We knew this, and yet got in the car with him because he was willing to drive us around, especially when the rest of us--me, Dr. Assy, Captain B., the Vulgar Bulgarian--were drunk.

One night, we were drunk and we absolutely needed some Taco Bell. This was after we had all been in South Bend for about two months, so we didn't really know where things were, aside from the campus and the closest City Wide Liquors. However, Vino had a rough idea where the nearest Taco Bell was (turns out, it was the second nearest, but, hey, he was willing to drive).

We loaded up in Vino's car and drove toward Taco Bell. Unfortunately, we drove past the intersection, so Vino decided he was going to turn around in someone's driveway. Problem was, Vino kind of turned in front of an oncoming car. The bigger problem was that Vino didn't pull into the driveway right away, and instead held his car perpendicular to the rush of on-coming traffic.

Dr. Assy and I began screaming as certain death bore down upon us, flashing headlights and honking horn included. Finally, Vino pulls into the driveway of some dentist or doctor's office, narrowly missing being T-boned by some angry South Bend driver. As Dr. Assy and I laughed off our near-death experience in the way that the sudden rush of adrenaline co-mingled with the sweet sense of relief of not dying brings, Vino voiced his displeasure with our screaming.

"Chill," he said, "I didn't want to drive on the grass."

Vino did not make it to his second semester in grad school. He left ND and returned to Dekalb to do God only knows what. I hope he found something that involved minimal driving to and from work; he was a great guy, just a shitty driver.

The Big 8-0-0

November 3, 2010

This is my 800th post. I figured, in honor of the eight hundredth piece of crap that I've churned out to suck up slices of internet pie, I should do a rant.

If you are friends with me on the Book of Faces, then you will know that I recently got the disheartening news that I was once again turned down by a publisher. Ho hum. It's old hat at this point.

However, there was something particularly grating about this one.

I had decided to try my hand at one of these small, independent e-publishers. Since the market place is beginning to see a pretty wide array of e-readers as well as a moderate uptick in sales of electronically-published books, I figured this could be a good way to stay apace with technology and get myself into the hot little hands of teenagers everywhere!

*ahem* Sorry about that.

My wife had found this particular publisher for me. She knew someone who had published with them, so I thought I'd give them a go. Plus, you know, make the missus happy. *wiggles eyebrows*

*ahem* Sorry about that.

I prepared everything I needed as per the guidelines on their website. As they instructed, I submitted, waited patiently for word from them, and then got kicked in the teeth grundle. The reasoning for them to turn me down? Here, I'll let them explain it, cutting and pasting directly from the rejection letter they sent me:

To be completely frank with you, I believe The Boar War is too commercial a manuscript for a small independent publisher
I'm sorry? It's too commercial? What do you mean by that? Do you think that it's "too good" or "too mainstream" for your small publishing company? You're afraid that it would have "too much success?" Um. Okay.

At this point, I wasn't feeling so bad. And then I continued reading:

The story seems to be perfectly positioned as a middle-grade YA fantasy, in the same niche as the recent Guardians of Ga'Hoole.
Recent? Just because Hollywood made a shitty movie based loosely on the story does not make it "recent". The last book in the series was published two fucking years ago and the series itself was started in 2003. Yeah, that's fucking recent. That's real fucking recent. I guess if it falls within the current epoch, that shit's recent.

Also, just because a story features animals as characters does not mean it is exactly like another story with animals as characters. That's like saying Hamlet and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are the same fucking book because they both have Scandinavians in them. Or, better yet, claiming How to Train Your Dragon is the same story as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I mean, they have "dragon" right there in the titles, and they feature Swedes, more or less, and--the real kicker--they're both written on paper!

I do hyperbole so well...

After this, the real fucking slap in the face arrived. Please note that the following was written after the text of the email had changed fonts. That's real fucking professional, too, by the way. Let me be the first to point out that recently movable text was developed so that your documents did not look fucking shitty and like a third grader put them together. Maybe you should look into it, or even try the recent development of word processing programs that allow you to highlight a block of text and make it uniform with the click of a button.

Anyway, this is the line that really filled my veins with rage-ahol:

consider submitting your work to YA agents and perhaps to publishers like Peachtree and Scholastic.
This tells me that the asshole who wrote my rejection letter did not read a fucking word of my submission. They read the cover letter and the synopsis (maybe), and that was it. I can tell this because here is what happens in the first fifty pages I sent them:

  • The bloody and meticulous slaughter of an important character
  • An attempted rape on the main character of my story
  • Implied sexuality between two of the first characters we meet
  • Violent murders of those same two characters
  • The main character's pet killed in cold blood and for sport
  • Liberal use of the word "bitch" to describe one of the dead characters and the main character as she escaped the threat
  • A bloody fight between a herd of deer and a pack of wolves
  • A somewhat graphic description of the wounds sustained by one of the deer characters

Now, you tell me that this is something that is going to be targeted straight for middle school readers. In a recent development, rape is somewhat of a taboo in children's literature.

Oh, and by the way, fuckers, the main characters of the story--as clearly outlined in the submission summary and the synopsis--are humans, not a bunch of fucking owls. Yes, the animals are characters, but they are not the characters. This story is more like the fucking recent political story Animal Farm than motherfucking Guardians of Gahoole. Dammit, I want to skull fuck you stupid cockwaffles.

The final nail in the fuck-you coffin, also in the "hey, we're a fucking joke of a company" vein, was how I was told that I've used "highly-repetitive language" and where my "prose could flow more smoothly." On their website, they implore potential authors to avoid "thesaurus abuse" and not to worry if things seem "choppy" or "rough". These things "can be fixed later."

So, while I was originally kind of sad, I think I'm just mad. Mad, and relieved that I won't be working with these hacks. Sure, this might seem like sour grapes, and perhaps a little of it is. However, when you tell someone that their story is too commercial and then suggest the wrong places for the story to go and slap it all in a form email that is poorly formatted and, by the way, repetitive, then you open yourself to some criticism of your own.

In that light, fuck you, electronic publisher. My too commercial manuscript and I will go find someone who actually gives a damn about potential new authors. And, more importantly, someone who has their shit together.