Wait, today is what, exactly?

I’m so confused.

On the one hand, it’s Halloween today, huzzah!  As I’ve tried to make abundantly clear in past posts, Halloween is my favorite holiday. It’s dear to me to the point that I’d happily argue at length that it ought be a paid Federal holiday.

On the other hand, thought, it’s Monday.

Yeah, right.  Monday.

Monday and good times fit together about as well as Kim Kardashian and her ex-husband (too soon?).

My brain is trying very very hard to reconcile these two things.  But non-off-day holidays on a Monday just muddy up the whole thing.  So, inside my brain, two rival factions were having a Less Filling, Tastes Great tug of war: I’m pumped (holiday!), and I’m "meh" (Monday…), but it’s fun (holiday!), yet there’s work (Monday…).

Lather rinse repeat.

If people were off today, this wouldn’t be problem.  But I guess I’ve been down this road recently.  No point beating that horse any deader.

Maybe this conflicting feeling is exacerbated by the cues I’ve gotten by the people around me, namely my kids and my coworkers.

Obviously, when my kids woke up this morning, they nearly sprung from bed like those tiny rubber super balls and bounced off the walls, ceilings, lamps, and any other potentially destructible solid in the house.

Wait, did I say super ball?  Scratch that.  Flubber.  They were straight-up flubber.  All you had to do was whisper "trick-or-treat", and that would set ‘em in motion.  After that, well, they just kept going, and going, and going….bouncy, bouncy, bouncy. 

Yep, this morning my kids were enthusiasm-power perpetual motion machines, smiling at me with huge, shiny, pre-Halloween eyes every time I looked at them.

Which makes me think: odd that I can buy a bag of Three Musketeers any time I want, and never do, but, for a kid, the thought of dragging a sack full of them through the neighborhood, given freely, can generate such excitement.

The general feeling when I got to office, though, could only be described as the polar opposite.  Not only were several cases of the "Mondays" in evidence, a goodly number of my co-workers seemed saddled with the residual effects of weekend activities. 

What I mean, of course, is that as they’re typically younger, and, um, freer of spirit than I am at this stage in my life, they could go to Halloween parties Saturday without having to pay a babysitter.

As a result, not only do I suspect that some of them were fighting the weariness marking the last tenacious clutches of a Halloween Party Hangover, but I’m pretty sure the holiday exists only for them in the past tense.  Because, let’s face it, once the party has come and gone, you’ve done your morning walk of shame, and consumed every last nibblet of link sausage from the Frisch’s Sunday Breakfast Bar while still wearing clown face paint, well, one’s celebrating is official done.

So, yes, as of this morning, my non-parental colleagues had moved on to Veteran’s Day and were already secretly entertaining their first wicked thoughts of Black Friday sales.

See why I’ve been feeling a little conflicted?  One one hand, flubber.  On the the other, the post-holiday hangovers.

Nonetheless, as soon as I parked my car after work and took those first few steps around the neighborhood surrounded by ghosts, goblins, and nuclear blue-haired Katy Perrys(?), Halloween settled comfortably on my shoulders like an old friend.

And I guess that’s the thing about holidays: it doesn’t really matter if you’re feeling it before or just over it, because once the time comes for to break out those familiar holiday habits, well, everything seems to become very, very clear.

Plus, there were Snickers.  They always clear things up.


3-Way Thursday: A timely surprise

I wasn’t sure what to think about this month’s 3-Way Thursday parlor, Chili Time in St. Bernard, before we went.  It’s surprisingly close to where I work, but I’d never heard anyone even mention it before.  And looking over their website, I found myself a bit unsure of the graphic design they’ve got going (you get a feel for it at their website and can see shot of their main street sign in the Chili Time review at Cincy Coney Quest‘s blog). 

I mean, sure, I get the the bowl of chili and the clock face symbols; I’m not dense.  But the font, graphics, and all the Oompa-Loompa color pallet make me think of the early 80’s for some reason.  I don’t know why, it just does.  So there.

But, then, if a place has good chili, odds are I’m not going to give two flying cheese coneys what it looks like, even if that means 80 year-old, dilapidated frat house.  And everyone’s been in real frat house, right?  Not the big gothic mansion-like structures that you see in movies that are managed by a housekeeping staff for those poor silver spoon-fed student who can barely time out from their busy schedule of persecuting Freshmen to enjoy the lobster thermidor, no, no.  I mean that place where actual twenty-something males dwell.  A place where the pantry has a nothing but an unopened ketchup bottle, the fridge holds only a few ‘Nati Lights, the living room boasts a beer bottle cap collection picking up dust under the couch, and the door to the only bathroom hangs crookedly and won’t shut all the way.  There also may or may not be graffiti.

I know, sounds delightful, right?  But I’ll still dig a place like that so long as they bring the 3-Way goodness.

Luckily, both for myself and the coworkers joining in on my adventure, Chili Time does not resemble that frat house.  What it does resemble is just what it is: a greasy spoon diner, which, I’ve come to realize, is exactly what Cincinnati chili parlors are supposed to be. 

Think about it, outside of a few chains, e.g. Waffle House, Cincinnati really has few straight-up diners.  Instead, we’ve have chili parlors, many of which, I realize now, do the whole diner shebang: sandwiches, breakfast all day, a daily plate-special, etc.

So, it should come as no surprise then, that Chili Time reminded me of Mel’s Diner from Alice or, for you slightly younger sitcom viewers, Monk’s from Seinfeld.

So, what about the 3-ways?  Well, regardless of the name, it didn’t seem to me that Chili Time really makes a living from it’s chili.  Walking through the place at lunch time, there were a whole lot more diner-style dishes being eaten than anything with chili.  And for a guy that gets most of his ways at places that do that, first and foremost, it’s a strange sensation.  I got the same kind of diner-not-just-chili feel at Blue Ash Chili, but they moved enough of the spicy red stuff while I was there to make me feel at home.

As it turns out though, I had nothing to worry about.  The 3-way at Chili Time was not only good, it was very good.  The pasta was thin spaghetti, my preferred gage of noodle for the dish, there was just the right amount it, and it absorbed the chili perfectly.  Even if I got a mouthful of just the spaghetti, it carried along plenty of chili flavor.

The cheese was sharp, seemed really fresh, and was shredded very finely, enough that it almost had to have been done at the restaurant.  And the chili itself was exactly what I’m usually looking for in Cincinnati-style chili.  It hit all the right notes with the cinnamon, clove, etc, and still managed to offer a surprising mouthful of heat every so often.  It was well-balanced and meaty, and had just the right texture.

That’s not to say it’s without faults, though.  Something in the overall result is pretty greasy; whether they butter the spaghetti or the chili is just extra fatty, I don’t know.  Either way, before I’d finished eating the 3-way, I could feel an oily coating in and around my mouth.  And to some degree, I can even still feel it.  It’s not really what I want to be thinking about when I finish a 3-way.

I can’t imagine that’ll help my reputation with the ladies.  Hold on while I ask the Puddinette what she thinks of "greasy mouth".

That said, the carry-out rendition of the 3-way was far more disappointing.  The "regular" size for carry-out is actually more like a small, as you only get a half pint.  A "large" then, is a pint.  Most other places, a large is a quart and regular is a pint.  Because I was only sampling it, that worked out for me, but if I’d stopped in for carryout and that’s all I got for $5.25, I’d be more than just a little irked.

The carryout version suffered from its diminutive presentation too.  At that size, it’s really hard to get a 4-way-bean right and have everything working in balance, and so it was in this case.  There was much too much cheese provided for a mere half-pint 4-way and although I didn’t even use half of it, between the cheese, the spaghetti and the beans, I totally lost the flavor of the chili.

So, yes, the carryout way disappointed.  But, will it ever be Chili Time again for me?  Very likely.  I enjoyed the diner-like atmosphere, most all the food I saw looked mouth-watering, my coworkers’ claimed lunch were just plain tasty (that includes the best-looking goetta omelet I’ve ever seen), and the dine-in 3-way was very solid minus the greasiness issue.

In the end, I don’t believe I’d ever think of Chili Time when in need of a carryout "way", which, admittedly, is a big part of my quest. But, still, I’m pretty sure I’ll be back there before long for maybe another 3-way or a proper plate of diner hash browns.


If it was easy, everyone would be published

Although there’s certainly plenty of evidence threaded subtly (or not-so-subtly) through my posts from the last year or so, I don’t think I’ve yet made this point outright: the business of writing something with the intent on getting it published is not easy hard.

How’s it going, you ask?  Well, the revisioning part of writing my novel is moving right along.  Admittedly, not quite as quickly as I’d have liked; I wanted the first pass done by last weekend.  As it turns out, though, I have a full time job, a family with no shortage of nightly responsibilities, a blog to pen content for, and a wife that doesn’t care much for being ignored whilst I pursue my muse.

No, no, not like that.  I said "muse".  You know, like this made up personification of your inspiration?

What do you mean you can’t have a made up personification because it’s like saying "pretend real person"?  Sure I can.  It’s just…you know, when you, um…I mean…

Never mind, it’s a creative thing.


Tomfoolery aside, edits are progressing slowly, and while I’m not done yet, I hope to get there pretty soon.  And after reading a very pointed blog post about taking one’s time, I’m not in the hurry I was a week ago.  Also, I’m finding that the later bits aren’t as needy for changes as the earlier bits were, which makes the process move faster.  So that’s something.

Of course, even when things are going well, there’s always the possibility that a huge Black Obelisk of Potential Doom might spring up in the middle of your ochre-tinged road when you least expect it, throwing the brakes on your whole convoy of creativity.  Then your tomato truck slams into your peaches, which then plows into your swine hauler and pretty soon your head is full of unrestrained, slippery, marinara-covered pigs gobbling up your now-bruised peaches, leaving you with nothing but red stains and a some slobbery pits.


That seemed less he’s-gone-round-the-bend when I wrote it, I swear.

Anyway, for example, I met The Guys for a beer and a little MNF Monday night.  Turns out the football was pretty awful, but the beer was good and it’s always great to see The Guys.

At some point in the evening someone asked about the novel, which I’m happy to discuss to some degree now, having finished the draft.  One of the fellas then turned to me and asked "You know that show <recent popular show>?"

"Oh, sure," I replied.

"I just started watching the first season."

"Oh, I’ve been meaning to see that, how is it?" I asked.

"Well," he said, "it’s not bad.  It turns out that in the first 15 minutes of episode one, they do <very familiar plot device> to get things going.  Now, didn’t the part of your novel I read start with <very familiar plot device>?"

*blink blink*

I then favored my friend with a blank stare while I had fever visions of my hopes and dreams circling the toilet accompanied by a flushing noise (apparently audible only to me).  Thankfully, I somehow managed to suppress the infantile wails that bubbled up from my cockles.

"Um, yeah.  Yeah, it does still start with <redacted> in <redacted>.  So they did that same thing, huh?"

"Yeah, but it’s not exactly the same, and it’s only right in the beginning, it’s not really a big part of the show."

And that’s when I began the maniacal, almost-about-to-snap, head-thrown-back laughter.  Which seemed arguably more constructive than option two: ordering a full bottle of whiskey and a shot glass.

Disclaimer: I might be somewhat exaggerating my reaction.

But you see? Just like that, my plan to conquer the publishing world has met with the first of undoubtedly many external setbacks.  Honestly, this really isn’t even a big one; I’ve yet to encounter the Path of Countless Rejections.

Besides, the truth is, every story is made up of pieces that have been written before.  The magic comes in how you put those things together, how you weave the patches into a nice, warm quilt.  Did you make your quilt square, rectangular, or amoeba-like.  Did you use all the same colors or does it every hue found in the garbage can at a county fair?

Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me that here I find <plot device> used someplace else.  It’s been done before, it’ll be done again.  The question, then, is do I need to replace it?

It fits so snuggly into my story that I’m hesitant to change it.  But the timing kind of blows.  If the show referenced wasn’t so new, I’d almost certainly not bother. But, I don’t want to have agents I’ve queried or editors considering the manuscript think, "Oh, this doofus lifted this from <unnamed show>" before summoning a minion with a dismissive snap to clang the ponderous Crimson Rejection Stamp of Woe upon it.

I want my manuscript rejected on its merits, because I wasn’t good enough.  Not simply out of happenstance.

I want to earn that rejection, by gum.

For the record, said friend, being a fine, upstanding person, proceeded to apologize for "ruining" my night with the revelation.  It took me some time to make him understand that, for real, it was better to know these things now, especially during revisions, then later, after 50 rejections letters with comments like, "No thanks, you worthless hack."

Have you ever had something like this happen?  What did you do?  Should I rewrite that bit or stick to my guns?  Ultimately, is it likely to matter?

Oh, hey, and if you’re an agent or editor, I’d love to hear what you think.  I’d even purchase the beverage of your choice to get your two cents.

Maybe I won’t hold my breath on that, though.  Starving my brain of oxygen isn’t going to make those revisions any easier.


A relationship broken, doomed by iced tea

Dear Ronald,

We’ve had some good times, you and I, back in the day, before I really understood how you were just taking advantage of me.  In the long past, when I thought we meant something to each other, not that I was simply a means to an end, a tick on the bottom line.

But it’s over now.  I’m done.  We’re through.

I never thought we’d get to this point.  When I was young, I basked in your Happy Meal goodness, reveling in cheap plastic Star Trek toys.  I marveled at the McDLT, and it’s fancy ability to keep the hot side hot, the cool side cool, and wept when they took it from the menu.  It was a gaping wound that would take years to heal.

As I came into adolescence, with the freedoms of my own car and a few of my own dollars, I believed you were there for me.  You introduced conveniently discounted Value Meals, helping me keep more of those few dollars to myself for movies and bowling.

But really you just wanted to get me through the doors more often.

Still though, we had some wonderful times.  Cheap ice cream cones, hot apple pies.  A time when your fries were beyond compare.  Your dollar menu, too, gave me easy access to a cheap bite between points A and B during the rush of my twenties

Time, though, strips the shine from everything.  As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to question our relationship.  You became stingy with your Monopoly pieces.  Your burgers seemed assembled by a blind crack-addled chimpanzee.  And everything you offer now is saltier than a sailor in port;full of rum and light on pennies.

The Big and Tasty was neither big nor tasty.

My children now, themselves fond of Happy Meals and the trinkets within, are frequently led to disappointment when we find you don’t have enough of the specified toy.  Not enough cheap Batmobiles or tiny bedazzled shoe things.

They’re just kids!  Even if we can’t get along anymore, why must you be so cruel to them?  Or are you just so focused on the earnings that you can’t ship a million extra crappy pieces of plastic.

No, I just don’t understand you anymore.  And, honestly, I don’t see what so many others see in you, either.  But, then, you have them all fooled with your faux coffee shop drinks and your “pork” sandwich, don’t you?

Finally fed up, I decided to see what you were really up to, so I did some research.  Snooped around a little bit.  Oh, and I found out.  Tired of your chemicals and lies, I decided I’d had enough.

And so I call it quits.  No more.

But I hoped it could be an amicable split.  A little awkward, maybe, but I wasn’t going to be crazy.  I wasn’t going to make my friends and family pick between us.  I figured I could still come to see you once in a while with others, give you a reserved nod of the head, not be a jerk about it.

After all, your tea is still pretty good.  Admittedly, my enjoyment of it is probably symptomatic of your straws, the perfect physical device for pumping fluids into someone’s gaping pie hole.  And, it doesn’t hurt that I can get it for a dollar.

But, dammit, you can’t even get the damned tea right.

Unsweetened.  Un-effing-sweetened!  Again and again I say it, and again and again I take that first, anticipatory slurp, ready to sigh contentedly, only to be slapped in the face with cloying sweetness.  Swallowing sugary syrupy swill sours my satisfaction.

So tell me, How. Hard. Is. It?  I order the damned drink unsweetened.  Every time I emphasize the “UN” like some freak at the drive-thru attempting to speak his order like a Shakespearean tragedy: “UNNNNN-sweet tea, from thee, forsooth!  UNNN-sweet, I say!  My chariot for an UNNNN-sweet drink!”

There on your monitor, I see my choice, “Unsweetened Tea, $1.00″

And still, time and again, when I pull up to the window, eyes shiny with hope, your minion inevitably passes my beverage to me filled with enough sugar to drop a diabetic mule.  All hope deflates like a week-old child’s birthday balloon.

It’s like you don’t even care anymore; you’re not even trying.  Or you’re slipping some kind of addictive mickey into the drink it the hope the sugar covers its odd taste with sweetness.

Whatever, I’ve given you chances.  A lifetime of them.  No more.  I’m quit of you.

So keep your damned sugary tea and your fake food and your golden arches and lies.

Keep your Happy Meals and your Monopoly pieces.

No more, Ronald, no more.



The embarrassment of book signings

There’s this quick thing I want to mention for anyone who isn’t a regular reader of Hoperatives.com.  Although, for the life of me, I certainly don’t know why you wouldn’t be a regular reader seeing as they are the authority when it comes to sharply written information regarding all things craft beer in Cincinnati (and beyond).  Of course, I might not be completely objective on that score, since I’m a Hoperatives contributor and all.

But I digress.

Anyway, in case you’re not a reader, the key thing is that Greg Koch, CEO and co-founder of Stone Brewing (they make Arrogant Bastard, by the way, as well as many other fabulous artisanal beers…and I love Arrogant Bastard) will be in town this weekend as part of a nationwide book signing tour to support Stone’s new book, The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.

Why do I make a point of mentioning it?  Because it’s important, duh!  What I mean to say is, as I have more than a passing interest in both beer and books, this thing is right down the heart of the plate for me.  And I can only assume that members of the Puddintopia family (hmmm…not sure that sounds right, makes what I do here sound like a string of car dealerships), you might be interesting in one or the other as well.

So, here’s information on where he’ll be this weekend.  GO.  Buy a book.  Get it signed.  Have some beer.  Enjoy.

What’s that?  Where can you expect to see me?

Um…yeah, about that.  I, um, can’t make it.

I know, I know.  What a travesty. Really, though, it’s ok.  There’s family fun time tomorrow evening that will keep me from the first signing and Sunday is packed right up until I take the ice for a hockey game Sunday evening.  As much as I’d love to go hang with Greg Koch, buy him a Bastard and talk both books and beer, you don’t always get what you want.

This is where you all go, “Awwwwwwww”, like the audience does for Stefon on Saturday Night Live (right about the 3:40 mark).


Really, though, it’s okay that I can’t make it.  Because, truth be told, I’m a terrible participant at these kinds of things.  Terrible because no matter how enthusiastic I am about whomever’s signing stuff at the table at the front of line, I typically end up making a face like George W. being asked to explain Avogadro’s number in reference to atomic mass.

Sure, sure, there’s a hundred things I probably could say in the 30 seconds I have Mr. or Mrs. Signer’s attention, but for some reason I inevitably go blank as a fresh piece of poster board at Science Fair time and blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, which is typically also the stupidest.

For example, several years ago, squirming under the pressure to make conversation while one of my favorite authors ever signed a book, I asked him when he started writing his first book, as if that wasn’t an answer I could have gotten from Google in 10 seconds.  As if that was the pressing question burning a hole through my psyche.

I’m pretty sure I heard him roll his eyes, but he was thankfully much too polite to let me see it.

Another time I stood in line to get an autograph from a former Cincinnati Bengals linemen, you know, back from when they were good, in the way-back time, when I was a kid and dinosaurs roamed free.  In the 15 seconds it took him to sign a 8×10 glossy headshot (I’m not sure I really even wanted), the only thing I could think to say was, "I wore you number in High School."

Which, besides sounding more than just a little stalkery, wasn’t even true.

For the record, I played high school football for about four months.  I suffered through a 100 degree summer inside a football helmet just in time to completely tear my anterior cruciate ligament after the third game of the season.  Thus ended my football career.  The injury did get me elected Vice President of the State National Honor Society, but that’s another post.

The point here is that I didn’t even really wear his number.  Mine was off by two.  But it was all I could think to say while the pressure to say something, anything squeezed all the non-idiot straight out of me.

What I really would like when meeting people I’m getting signatures from is to sit around, get to kind of actually know them a little, and shoot the breeze.  Let’s face it, though, that’s often just not possible when there’s a few hundred other people that don’t make Goofy look like a polished conversationalist by comparison wanting something signed.

Would I like to meet Greg Koch this weekend?  Sure, of course I would.  But if I can’t have a beer with him, I’m okay not having just enough time to demonstrate my inner bonehead.

Then again, that could be sour grapes.  I’m not telling.

Either way, maybe next time.


Why I write, explained and expanded

Did you know that today is the first National Day on Writing?  Neither did I, before this morning.  Thankfully, several of the writerly types I follow on twitter posted messages about why they write into a collective stream designated by the tag "#whyiwrite".

While I don’t know that I would have done it two years ago, I felt compelled to add my own two cents.

Funny thing, though, just as my fingers were poised over the keys to tap it out, I got a little stuck. 

I write because I…um…

You know…I need to write…because…uh…

Look! A squirrel! *runs off*

Ok, it wasn’t that bad.  I did have a moment’s pause, though, because I wasn’t sure, for once, that I could articulate it.  I mean, I write because I love to do it, get grumpy like a backed up octogenarian who’s been palming his Metamucil when I don’t do it, and now can’t imaging ever not doing it, having opened the floodgates of it.

But those aren’t reasons why, really.  They’re effects, not causes.

So, at its root, did I really know why?  Well, actually, after a quick bit of introspection, some staring at the ceiling, maybe a few moments of navel gazing, yes, hells yes, I knew why.  It’s because, you know, the voices.  Wait, maybe we shouldn’t talk about the voices.  My legal team told me not to mention them outside of court.  You know how it is.

Anyway, I finally realized exactly why, even if it’s more than just a little hokey.  Thus, I tweeted:


See?  Hokey.  But every word of it’s true.  I’ve finished the first draft of my first novel, and I’m slightly more than halfway through the first pass of editing.  When I’m all done polishing, shining, and dressing it up for queries, the fact is that I might never successfully sell it to anyone.  But you know what?  Even if no one ever has a chance to read it besides my wife and mother, if it never gets an official ISDN number, and earns nothing more than a thousand red "Rejected" stamps inked in the blood of my innocence, I’ll still be glad I wrote it.

And I’ll write another after it, and another after that, and another after that.  Because all these strange, wonderful people live in my head, with strange, wonderful problems and strange, wonderful hopes.  But they’re not real enough.  They’re flat, kind of lifeless, bare suggestions of their potential.  Like sad, deflated pool floats. 

And let’s face it, nobody wants to see that Mr. Ponytube laying all limp and flat on top of the pool.  Especially in their head.

I don’t want them to be lifeless.  I want them to be alive.  To have voices and goals, conflicting emotions and a two feet firmly in the world, whatever that world happens to be.  I want them to make sense and not just be caricatures from a filmstrip.

And the only way to do that is to write them down, get them out of that place in my head, and make the world around them live.

Of course, that’s just the fictional characters.  That’s not really all I write, now, is it?  Turns out I spend a not-insignificant amount of writing "quick" posts like these a few times a week. 

So, then, why do I write Puddintopia posts?

That one’s a little more difficult.  In the beginning it was supposed to be practice.  You want to be a writer, you’ve got to write stuff, so a daily-or-so blog post was intended to kind of grease the wheels, keep the water flowing through the dyke, prevent me from grinding down to a word-making standstill because I decided to instead spend three months researching cupcake sprinkles and playing Dora’s Magical Bridge Adventure on Xbox.

What?  Oh, uh…forget I mentioned it.

The point is that I did my 120,000 words about nothing, and I drafted that first novel.  So I write now, right?  No reason to stick so closely to the blog posting, then, is there?  Especially since I’m not really blogging the way I’m supposed to blogging in this day and age (that’s so another post).

Here’s the thing, though: I like this writing too, need it.  Not in the same way it brings life to shadows, but because it lets me express myself.  See, most people are more than happy to rely on their mouths for self expression. 

But mine just doesn’t work sometimes. 

Often, I’ll be asked a question and my brain will start to go go go, thoughts popping around like balls in a lottery hopper.  But somewhere between there and my vocal cords, everything gets lost, jumbled.  By the time I start making actual sounds, I end up muttering and often look your average high school student when presented with multivariable calculus.

I expect it’s not unlike the look Gomer Pyle used to get when Sergeant Carter was ever-so-sensitively explaining (at the top of his lungs) what Pyle’d screwed up this time.

Ask the Puddinette how many times we’ve had conversations where my responses might as well have been delivered by Bobo, the Orangutan.

When writing, though, I rarely have that problem.  The words all line up in my head before I put them on screen, just like the lottery balls for the too-blond lady with the 80’s hair running the hopper.

And that’s not just here.  That goes for twitter, facebook, emails, what have you.

So, why do I write, whatever I write?

Because it’s the best way I know how to express myself without becoming Bobo.

Well, and because sometimes it makes the Puddinette laugh. 

And that’s really all the reason I need.


Yes, beer goes with Halloween

As my favorite holiday of the year quickly approaches, I thought it would be a good time to write a post about beer being a good match for the night when the dead rise and stalk the living.  And I mean Halloween, too, not just premiere night for The Walking Dead.  Anyway, my beer-Halloween post has been published at Hoperatives.com for your reading pleasure.  I asked a few questions at the end I’d love suggestions for, too, so make sure you leave comment or three.

See you in the boneyard at midnight. Bring a six-pack!


A whirlwind of stuff means…randomness!

You know how some days the world seems like a blustery fall afternoon in the back yard where you’re surrounded by a tempest of blowing leaves?  And you try, try, and try to catch all the leaves by chasing them down, waving your arms at them like a flailing muppet, or knocking them into a tree or wall and finally getting them to fall to the ground where you rake, rake, rake them but never quite get them all collected?  Yeah, that’s today.

Truth be told, I usually take a couple of sips of beer—a nice harvest ale, preferably—as I watch the leaves whirl around in the air.  Then I shrug, mutter something about "mulch" noncommittally, and go back to watching football.  Leaves shmeaves.

Anyway, like the leaves, I’m currently in the eye of a storm that includes an overabundance of work stuff, novel edits (that I’m still behind on), and contemplation of Possible Crazy Super Secret Project X (PCSSPX), as well as the usual chaos that accompanies my life.  Thus, instead of the usual respectable, highly-engaging, well-thought post, I give you these random bullets of nonsense.

  • Bullet the first: Netflix.  I know I’m kind of late to the party on this particular topic, but Netflix announced last week that it’s plan to split into two separate content delivery services, Netflix and Quikster, has been abandoned.  Expectedly, everyone who mocked the whole Quikster idea in the first place immediately mocked the announcement as corporate indecision (i.e. waffling).  And yes, sure, a corporate policy of "No, wait, I take that back" doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, I don’t want to hear complaining.  Netflix’s user base freaked out about the plan, which was admittedly questionable at best.  To their credit, that they actually listened to those users and responded in kind says to me that, hey, at least they’re better than our "representative" governmental officials.  In fact, next November, I’m writing in Netflix for President.
  • Sub-bullet A: Quikster is the stupidest name for a potential service ever, anywhere.  If you ask me (and you know you did), "Quikster" is the name of a throw-away, third-tier superhero that only ever gets to do embarrassing guest appearance on the Justice League.  He the kind of hero that’s fodder for the Doomsday Weapon in comic pan-universe wars.  Hell, Quikster doesn’t even have archenemies.  He’s just got a handful of annoying regular enemies.  Like Burgler Bob, Sally Swindler, or Rob Robber.  Quikster is the kind of hero who shouts his catch phrase, "Don’t worry! I’ll stop that huge, devastating orange laserbeam with my head!" before being reduced to a puff of vapor and a handful of ash.  Thank goodness Netflix come down off that meth bender and canned the whole idea.
  • Bullet 2:  Is there a single more potent ingredient anywhere than Subway onions?  You get a sandwich or flatbread or whatever with just a minor sprinkling of those things and you’re tasting them for the rest of the day.  I don’t care how much gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, soup, or bleach* you apply, that taste isn’t coming outta there.  What’s that?  Tongue strips?  Yeah, right.  That’s like dropping a mug of tap water on a burning car.  Oh, and good luck if you get those Onions of Power on your hands somehow.  You’ll be drawing that look from strangers all afternoon.  In fact, in that situation, I recommend you find a baby with full drawers to keep with you.  People understand stinky babies.  They might turn up their nose and accuse you of being a bad parent, but at least you won’t get beaten up on elevators.  Onion stench, though?  Yeah, good luck.
  • Tertiary Bullet:  As of 4:20 PM this afternoon, Carson Palmer is neither a Cincinnati Bengal nor actively retired (can one be actively retired?).  In what can only be seen as an act of a higher power, the Oakland Raiders’ starting QB Jason Campbell broke his collarbone on Sunday.  In response, the Raiders offered two draft picks for Palmer, a first round in 2012, and a second round (with potential to be a first) in 2013.  As a player with a history of injury, as well as a psyche full of "meh" after eight seasons of Bengaldom, six weeks ago there was debate about whether Palmer could fetch even a single second round pick.  Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to congratulation Mike Brown for finally sensing an opportunity to better his team when it fell into his lap started to wiggle.  Sure, sure, the Bengals will probably end up picking second and third round caliber players with their bonus picks, because without a GM, that’s what they do.  But at least it can finally be said without equivocation that, yes, Mr. Brown did learn not to overlook a gift draft in the mouth just to keep the chance to pick Akili Smith.

I think that’s enough silliness for one day.


*This is a bad idea.  Bleach is not really intended for oral use.  Don’t do this.

Sometimes you gotta test stuff

This is basically just a quick post to test changes I made to the RSS feed for Puddintopia. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, it’s no biggie. In a nutshell, I needed a way to track readers who use RSS. If my understanding is correct, it should all be kinda transparent to anyone out there, including you elusive RSS-types (I’m one of you myself).

So, anyway, there you go.


Do you fear the dreaded “man cold”?

It would seem that I’m coming down the sinus/cold gunk that every other living person (and probably some zombies too) within 20 miles of me has had in one form or another over the course of the past two weeks.  The kids all had it, the Puddinette has it now, along with the gravelly voice usually reserved for Thelma, the chain-smoking, non-nonsense, grandmotherly waitress at that diner in between No-Freaking-Place, Illinois, and Why’s-That-Buzzard-Eyeing-Me, New Mexico.

So I’m pounding zinc, have already begun the sudafed regimen (no, Mr. Pharm Tech, I swear, I’m not making meth, no matter how many people are into that show), and am slurping down OJ like I just got a bad crop report and expect Duke and Duke to corner the market come Monday morning.  When it comes to this sort of thing, I believe in striking early and often, and doing everything in my power to beat those damned, dirty apes—er, germs—back as quickly as is humanly possible.

Because, let’s face it: nobody likes being sick.  Even if its just a "head thing", meaning no aches, fever, chills, or lethargy (well, besides the ordinary laziness, that is), it’s still a major pain in the backside.  With the sore throat from the drainage, a nose that flows faster than the taps on Monday night during football season, and the inevitable stuffiness that makes us all feel like we’re breathing, talking, and eating through gauze, it just plain sucks.

Oh, and then there’s that feeling like everyone is looking at you and your runny, drippy nose and your smelly cat voice in disgust. 

No one really ever is, of course.  Well, except for that one guy who rolls his eyes and pretends he’s better than that.  But no one likes him anyway.  His six cats only put up with him because he buys them the good catnip.  Everyone knows better, because they’ve had colds too; they know it sucks and you can’t do anything about it.

Still, probably ought to make sure you don’t offer to shake hands right after blowing the old shnoz.

As bad as all of it, though, I’ve recently come to find out that it gets worse.  Working in an office populated with more women than men, I’ve learned of something known as the Man Cold.  Apparently, it’s quite common for male members of our species to become, well, out-right babies at the first hint of a little congestion.  There’s whining, crying, begging for soups and pity, and basic, all around, worthlessness.

Worried that I was, myself, prone to this foolishness, I was quick to check with the Puddinette.  She allayed my fears by admitting I don’t typically exhibit Man Cold behaviors.  I had her sign an affidavit which I laminated and now carry proudly in my wallet.

Sure, I’m a nerd.  But at least I’m not a whiner.

But, fellas, really?  Dudes that would otherwise, in the peak of health, make idiots of themselves with contests of bravado such as, who can throw the heaviest rock or who can build the sweetest workbench using only hand tools and spit are apparently utterly waylaid by a little chest phlegm. 

This. Is. Ridiculous.

Something has to be done about this problem.  The fact of the matter is, regardless of the common Macho Male Perception that leads guys to pick fist fights at bars over who saw the pretty girl first (the same pretty girl that usually leaves before the fight is over), we’re really already not doing ourselves any favors in the toughness department.  Because every guys who has ever had a mother, partner, or spouse has at some point or another spent 10 minutes complaining about how much hangnails are just the worst thing ever.  In contrast, members of the fairer sex regularly find a way to push something the size of a watermelon out a hole made for a golf ball.

No wonder we get no respect.

Gentlemen, I’m officially calling for the end of the Man Cold.  To that end, I proudly offer you Puddin’s Prescription.  The next time you get that sore throat or start using tissues faster than middle-aged people watching Up for the first time, follow these simple steps every four hours:

  1. Drink 8 ozs of orange juice
  2. Follow the OJ with 1 oz of your well liquor of choice* (I recommend bourbon, but it’s your call)
  3. Do NOT mix steps 1 and 2.  It’s not Happy Hour.  The object is to loosen stuff up, so take it straight, like a Man.
  4. Reply “I’m fine” whenever anyone asks if you’re feeling okay
  5. Go to work; yer quit whining

I also recommend a prodigious application of Imperial IPAs.  A whack of hops’ll clear up the sinuses right quick.

So, are you a carrier of the dreaded Man Cold?  Do you own a car with 450 horses but can’t get your own beverage when your nose is full?  And for those long-suffering better halves, is your significant other less use than a third nipple when a common cold comes home?  Tell us your story.  And let’s all stand together to put the Man Cold away, once and for all.

Together, we can make the world a less whiny, pathetic place.


*This may not actually be necessary.  Also, your spouse, employer, and/or law enforcement may frown upon this.