Archive for April, 2012
Weeks ago, when I first noticed this past weekend on my calendar, I raised an eyebrow. And when that plus the subsequent glare of suspicion didn’t clear away any of the events squeezed onto those two blocks of dates, I shuddered.
Saturday: 1 overnight Cub Scout campout + 1 Little League baseball game + 1 overnight sleepover event for Princess Puddinette.
Sunday: Pack up and return from camping + 1 family First Communion party locally + 1 simultaneous family First Communion party 90 miles away.
Those are just the events, too. That doesn’t include all the typical stuff that keeps the modern family moving forward instead of devolving into a dirty, stinky, 21st-century version of “Sanford and Son”. You know, cleaning, laundry, bathing, etc. Sure, sure, when you’re a 20-something bachelor living alone, if you miss a week of laundry and let the living room go without a dusting for another week, you’re not asking for much trouble.
But when you add four kids, a dog, and a spouse whom you still can’t believe was willing to overlook the general state of filth you lived in when you first met, that doesn’t really fly any more.
So, anyway, that was my weekend. At first glance, I thought it was enough to make even the shiniest, happiest person weep. But, hold on, there, Chuck, that’s not all! As an added bonus, all that outdoor camping and baseball fun on Saturday afternoon included, free of charge!, the occasionally bucketful of rain as well as a 15-degree drop in the ambient outdoor temperature.
Now, one would think that a measurable amount of rain would perhaps simplify things somewhat by postponing the baseball game. But noooooo. The rain arrived strategically, just spaced out enough so as to ensure that somehow we could enjoy the cool, comforting sensation of soaking-wet socks while taking in four hours of little league in an invigorating 43-degree breeze.
And then I got to sleep on the ground.
But hey, I shouldn’t complain. I suppose the ground could have been harder; it was, after all, you know, sodden.
The good news is that we made it through our gauntlet of a weekend, sanity still largely intact. The scouts had a blast camping—rain or no rain, the baseball game was won, and my daughter had more fun at the sleepover than she could shake a My Little Pony at. And after the Communion parties were celebrated and the weekend chores largely done, we all collapsed pretty much where we stood and gave a great, collective sigh.
There may have been napping.
The only one a little worse for wear is me, still a bit tired two days later, and more sore than I’d care to admit as sleeping in a tent apparently leaves one a bit stiff in the neck and shoulders at my age. Sure, I might have called in Exhausted this morning, were that really an option, but then, this isn’t France. So I dragged myself from bed, feeling what can only be described as a bit hungover, which is supremely unfair as I’d done nothing over the past 48 hours to deserve it.
Which brings us to today’s lesson: when you reach a point like this in life where you have to stoically persevere through the Weekend of Doom, you might as well set aside some time on Sunday evening to tie on one.
Probably earlier on Sunday rather than later, though, since, you know, you won’t be staying awake long.
Either way, if you’re going to be stuck feeling the hangover, you might as well get to enjoy the fun part of that too.
Now, can someone please pass me the Icy-Hot?
In case your arm has been trapped beneath a rock for the past 48 or so hours and this is the first thing you’ve read after sawing yourself free with a pocket knife (because, duh, who doesn’t check Puddintopia first thing after a little DIY amputation), The NFL Draft got underway Thursday night with all the pomp, ceremony, and melodrama you’d expect from picking unproven athletes to play a professional sport.
By the time of this posting, I think we should (approximately) be though the 872nd round or something. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some NFL football. But seriously, making a three-day show out of this is like putting money into producing TLC’s next big reality show, “Last Kid Standing: Playground Picks”
Anyway, since we’re knee-deep in the annual display of hyperbole, guesswork, and hype, I figured it would be a great subject for this week’s Saturday Debate. Therefore…
The NFL Draft: Awesome entertainment or yet another sign of our culture in decline?
You know we want opinions to be like…wait, I never really got that analogy. Anyway, feel free to take this week’s poll and maybe even leave an inflammatory comment or two.
Let’s get this debate kicked-off in style!
PS: My apologies for the terrifying hand-made logo used above. But the League of Football in this Nation is, um, particular about it’s copyrighted materials being used without consent. Also, the Puddinette considers it extremely bad form to risk a Cease and Desist letter just for giggles.
I was planning a pointed-yet-topical post today to give voice to an issue that we all give too little thought to these days (and no, that subject is not “Is flame-broiling really a bunch of marketing BS or what?) But I spent all day at a customer site and then 3 hours at a little league game. I’m tired, there’s a Bastard in the fridge waiting for me, and I’ve got a shiny DVD wrapped in a red envelope sitting beside my TV.
So, I think maybe I’ll spare everyone (myself included) the heavy issues tonight.
Don’t worry, though, we can talk “sprinkles” vs “jimmies” later.
Speaking of DVDs, this weekend is the last weekend in April, which means that next weekend will be the first weekend in May. And everyone knows what May means, right?
That’s right, boys and girls, it’s Summer Movie season!
What’s that? Yeah, I know summer doesn’t technically start until June. Shush, you.
The question on everyone’s mind at list point, obviously, is, “What will Puddin see this summer?”
Well, let’s assume for a moment that I’m not actually a cheap, agoraphobe more likely to draw cave paintings with my own ick on the cavern walls of my sprawling modern hermitage than visit a cinema. Yes, indeed, it is possible that I’ll pay real, US-minted currency to see one, or more, of the fancy summertime flicks coming out this year. In fact, based on the season’s release list, I’d definitely put my money on the “or more” there.
Rome was not burned in a day, though. So let’s be kind of reasonable and limit the number of flicks seen in person to three.
What three summer films will I catch this year?
Well, that’s surprisingly easy to answer:
The Avengers – If, for even a second, you entertained the possibility that I’d miss a movie with a whole barrel of kick-ass Marvel superheroes doing, you know, kick-ass superhero stuff, well, you obviously made the mistake of assuming I grew up somewhere along the way. Allow me to assure you that I did no such thing. Look, I’d pay money to see this, salivating at the potential nerdgasm, under any circumstances. Even if they let Michael Bay make it and blow up Megan Fox again for no good reason. But, no, they got Joss Whedon, King of the Nerds to make this movie right. Oh, momma, I. Am. In.
The Dark Knight Rises – I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I didn’t see Batman Begins in the theater. That was back in the early phases of Puddin’s stops-paying-through-the-nose-for-movies, and somehow missed it. And I’ve been ashamed ever since. I certainly did not miss The Dark Knight, and consider this chronicle’s rendition of Batman the best ever. I mean, dark, brooding, crazy but maybe only just enough crazy? It’s everything I ever hoped for in a Batman while growing up suffering with Adam West. Honestly, I almost don’t want July to come because I’m going to be sad at the end of Nolan’s Batman production run.
Prometheus – Um. Aliens prequel, kinda, sorta? Yes, please. You know what, never mind that. Watch the trailer below; it says everything. Oh, and also? It’s got Charlize Theron. We covered this, right? Yeah. And even better than watching her do tax-related paperwork is seeing her in a sci-fi film.
That, then, is my summer time movie dance card. What about yours? What are you planning to see? Do tell!
Sometimes I get this urge to write about Important Things. Like what? Well, I suppose complaining about McDonald’s and discussing the (potentially overwritten) emotions that accompany the occasional steps my kids take towards growing up might qualify.
I don’t know why, but today feels like a something Important day. I should post topical that’ll make the, um, dozens, of my loyal readers stop for a moment to think.
Something about Life, or how processed mini-muffins are a symbol of the Man repressing the proletariat.
Yeah, I got nuthin’. Tor/Forge announced today that all their e-books would be going DRM-free soon, which is a very big step for publishing. But I’m guessing not too many of you will be getting your knickers all twisted-up and “not-so-fresh” over that.
So, instead, let’s about the worst Saturday morning wake-up EVER.
I used to think that the worst possible thing that could happen on a Saturday morning is that I’d wake up at 7 AM, thirsting like I’d just done the proverbial 40 days and nights with Moses in the Sinai desert, with the sensation that my head was being actively bisected by 1976 Frigidaire. Then I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep, and the hangover would last 3 days.
When I got a little older, though, I came to believe that the worst possible thing on a Saturday morning was for my kids to wake me up at 7 AM and refuse to let me go back to sleep.
Turns out Nightmares do come true. That’s pretty much every weekend these days.
At any rate, I was wrong about the worst Saturday morning ever. Oh, yes, so wrong.
For whatever reason, as I get older, I find myself sleeping in increasingly awkward ways. I’ll wake up with one arm twisted up underneath my torso in what feels like a fisherman’s knot and my left leg outside the covers, dangling off the bed. Seriously, it’s like I’m playing some kind of subconscious Twister in my sleep…and losing.
But nothing beats this past Saturday. This time, my left eye was attempting to bury itself in one of my forearms. When I was ever-so rudely awoken (as usual, at 7 AM), it burned with the fire of a thousand bee stings and was as red as Jessica Rabbit’s dress. As an added bonus, the numbers on my bedside clock were hazy figures that might as well have been hieroglyphics.
Image via Wikipedia
I stumbled to the bathroom, and blinking away fat teardrops like I’d just seen Old Yeller, grimaced up at the mirror. Other than the redness, nothing seemed amiss. Well, except one contact was apparently absent, which explained my new ancient Egyptian alarm clock.
Didn’t explain the stabbing pains, though. So I looked left, and found nothing. Then I looked right…and nearly shuddered hard enough to shake the teeth out of my head.
My missing contact lens was folded in half and on the wrong side of my eye.
And I don’t mean the left side or the right side, I mean, The. Back. Side.
Yes, you read that right. Behind my eyeball. That place I always assumed the leprechauns with the evil laugh that tell me to burn things go to sleep when other people are around. To the Dark Side of the Eye, as it were.
I’m just going to that sink in for a few minutes.
Finished thinking about it? Good. So, then, all together now, “Eeeeeeeeww.”
To be honest with you, I’m still not sure how I managed to get the thing out. As I’ve said before while discussing this very issue, when it comes to eyeballs, I’d rather be kicked squarely in the family jewels hard enough to see Disney characters dance in the starburst patterns in my tear-filled vision before letting anyone’s grubby digits, let alone my own, finger my peepers.
Yet, somehow, I got the thing out on my own without being sedated, treated for hysteria, or blacking out and having hallucinations about my “happy place”. Luckily, I removed it before it became infected or my body absorbed it as part of the transformation into the gypsy psychic Third Eye I’ve always feared.
Which is kind of shame, really, at least that way I’d have known the winning lottery numbers ahead of time.
And yes, I’ve been wearing my glasses for the past few days.
Image from Taco Bell.com
I’m busy today with weekend things, house stuff, and Little League baseball. Therefore, having little time to deliver the usual nonsense, I thought I’d just throw out a discussion topic and let you go at in the comments.
It’s with great pride, then, that I give you (the inaugural) Saturday Debate topic of the week:
Now, go forth and, well, discuss!
PS: Doritos.com is the most annoying website, like, EVER.
Update: I figured we should probably have a poll to go along with our Saturday Debate. So then, here, have a poll:
This is not going to come as big news to regular readers, but I like movies. I even used to like to go to the theater to see movies—and still do, for the popcorn if nothing else—but you know, $10 a ticket and concession prices inflated a thousand percent makes the risk of dropping serious cash on a disappointing film more likely than seeing septuagenarians at the 4:30 Early Bird dinner special at Del Boca Vista.
For comparison, my recliner is cost-free and is already conveniently imprinted with my, um, specific posterior anatomical outline*. So there’s that. Oh, and the beer selection at la Casa de Puddin is typically superior to the movie theater options in the “VIP” seats.
So, while I still go to the movies once, maybe twice, a year (Avengers, anyone?), for the most part, I’m getting my money’s worth out of my home theater. So I got that going for me, which is nice.
Over the past week or so, I’ve been churning the ole Blu-Ray pretty good, and for once, I actually have opinions about all the films I’ve seen (which isn’t always the case—often times, my reaction is, ‘Eh, it wasn’t great, but Movie X entertained me’).
Unfortunately, when I have an opinion about something and set out to lay it down on paper, you poor readers have to clear your afternoon schedules to make time for the Dostoevsky-ian tome of rambling I generate.
Exhibit A: I’m 250 words into this “movie review” post, and I still haven’t even named the movies yet. Yes, your welcome.
Shall we see, then, if I can fit my thoughts about each of the films in question into 100 words-or-less? It’ll be fun!
Hey, I heard you roll your eyes from here. I can too do it!
Young Adult (2011, Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt)
I normally heart Charlize Theron. Seriously, I’d watch her fill out life insurance paperwork. But this was supposed to be a dark comedy. Now, I like to think that I’ve got a sense of humor, but there really just wasn’t anything funny here. Plenty of dark, oh yes. But even Patton Oswalt was too awkwardly pathetic to get a grin. Honestly, I was uncomfortable through the whole thing. That said, props to Ms. Theron, who played her terrifyingly pitiful part convincingly. Yep, girl can act; they should give her an award or something.
Contagion (2011, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow)
I guess Contagion was supposed to be a thriller? I don’t know. To it me was one part mystery, one part procedural, one part family drama, and several parts ‘meh’. Look, I’m not a difficult moviegoer to appease. Give me 90-120 minutes of entertainment and I’m happy, no matter how ridiculous your plot or wooden your characters. Hell, my belief suspends better than a buxom girl over a table at a Great Fakereni magic show. But this thing was so all-over-the place I just couldn’t get invested in any of the characters. I’ve cared more about broken shoe laces.
The Descendants (2011, George Clooney, Shailene Woodley)
Embarrassing admission: I like George Clooney**. He’s local, was often seen at Edna’s Edibles, and seems pretty laid back. That said, in a movie, I rarely forget he’s Clooney. Also, family drama in Hawaii? I prefer my fiction escapist and my Hawaii, well, 5-0, thankyouverymuch. So I wasn’t expecting to love The Descendants. But, damn, this movie’s solid. While emotional, it was somehow never too depressing, and even had the occasional lightheartedness Young Adult should’ve had. Clooney disappeared into the lost father whose family life is circling the drain and somehow got me to care about him and his family.
Look at that! I did it! W00t! Three movies in 100 words or less each! Cue up the Dora the Explorer song.
So what did you think of these movies? I’d love to hear, and I’ve got that comment button down there for a reason, you know. Use it!
Or, um, popcorn. Or something.
**We shall not speak of the Batman and that, um, bird travesty. Like Highlander 2, in my mind it never existed. Also, and for the record, Clooney is not an action guy and should not attempt action roles under any circumstances.
Oh, readers dear, oh, readers dear
There’ll be no fiction prize this year!
No fiction prize this year at all?
We were not sure about Train Dreams,
perhaps it needed laser beams!
Swamplandia! –it could not win.
A ‘gator theme park? Pretty thin.
The third, you ask? No, The Pale King
will not be snatching that gold ring.
We could not pick a book, you see,
Regardless of your woeful plea!
No winners from our meetings,
Or our many lunchtime eatings!
No prizes here, neither shared nor tied,
We could not so besmirch our pride.
We would not pick a book, OH NO!
So, please, oh please, stop whining so.
THERE’LL BE NO FICTION PRIZE, SO DEAL!
We’ll get you next year, we swear, for real.
When we were younger, my older brother hated to go fishing with me. Nonetheless, two or three times every summer, we’d go together anyway. Of course, we’d inevitably choose the most sweltering day of the year, when eggs fried in their shells long before they even got close to the sidewalk. So with our too-shaggy hair (as was the custom in the early 80′s) plastered by sweat to our foreheads, we’d grab our beginner’s thumb-button Zebco rod-n-reel combos and a small plastic box of tackle—which included a number of lures we’d never understand or use to any positive effect—and hike a mile or so up and across the “new road” (a four lane, divided highway, so think Frogger-with-fishing-poles) to our pond.
Our pond, of course, wasn’t so much actually ours as it was some farmer’s who we never saw. Frequently, cows would come to visit and hang out while we offered our bait to the water’s fishy denizens. They seemed unimpressed with out fishing prowess.
Did I mention that we might have had to climb a fence or two, at least one of which was barbed, to get there? In retrospect, it’s lucky we didn’t get shot.
Anyway, as I said before, my brother hated fishing with me. It’s not that I was troublesome or anything; I clearly wasn’t that kind of little brother. At least, I don’t remember it that way. I suppose he might have a different opinion.
He hated it, though (and will attest to this today, almost 30 years later), because I’d catch a bass or two in the first five minutes of our arrival, typically before he even had a line in the water. Of course, after my lightning-quick success, neither of us would get so much as a tiny bluegill nibble the rest of the day, no matter how long we
risked our young lives fishing in Farmer McShotgun’s pond stayed.
The best part of it for me was the pride I’d see later in the eyes of my grandfather, the same one who eventually gave up trying to teach me to color inside the lines, when he came over and gauged my hard-won (read: lucky) catch in the freezer. I didn’t see it at the time, but I realize now that there’s always been some innate connection between fishing and grandfathers.
My father, on the other hand, who had to clean said catch when we returned with a pair of stinking fish that had been flopping in the weeds of the pond-bank in the sun for two hours, was often less than thrilled.
I can’t say I blame him.
Which is, of course, why I was very glad to hear that yesterday’s Annual Cub Scout Fishing Derby would be catch-and-release. No bloody fish guts for me, thankyouverymuch!
The Puddinpop, Mini-Me, myself and their grandfather took our fishing poles and our tackle-box (which still has lures I don’t understand the use of) to a local apartment pond yesterday with the Pack, and we fished to our little heart’s content.
The weather was nearly perfect, albeit a tad gusty, but the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and at about 75 degrees, my hair wasn’t sticking to my forehead. Then again, I don’t really have too much hair anymore. Nothing’s been left to get sweat-plastered to my forehead for fifteen years.
At any rate, we didn’t catch much, just a couple of bluegill early in the day. But I still have my old touch. In fact, I managed to catch a fish with my first cast. I was intending to demonstrate to the Puddinpop how to cast with an open-faced reel, something he’d never used before. So I opened the bail, swung the rod, and loosed the bait into the choppy water.
Two seconds later, I was reeling in the only fish I’d catch all day—and it wasn’t even my rod.
The Puddinpop, of course, thought that catching a fish on a demonstration cast was the funniest thing he’d seen in a week.
I’m pretty sure that, this time, my brother, thirty years later, might have agreed with him.
Saturdays around here are typically full of energy. Kids going hither-tither-and-yon, baseball, games, household chores, etc, etc, etc.
But it rained today. No baseball, no hither-tither, precious little yon.
We did our weekendly household duties and then even gave the dog a bath. After that we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon. I made three-bean salad (I know, I know, but believe me, it’s good), deviled eggs, and big, cheesy hamburgers from a cast iron skillet.
We topped it off with strawberry shortcake.
And then I noticed the sun was peaking out. Might as well take a few pictures real quick, right?
I thought the sun shining on the raindrops was a nice touch from ole Mother Nature.
Maybe she’s not a complete wench bag.
So, in summary, I had a pretty damned good day. How about you?
The McDLT revisited: The hot side was hot, the cool side was cool, and both were unintentionally hilarious
As I was trolling facebook the other night—and by trolling I mean hitting ‘F5′ constantly in the desperate hope that someone would validate my life choices via status update—someone I went to high school with posted that she’d finally realized that in addition to being not particularly good for you, McDonald’s isn’t really, you know, tasty either. The long and short of it was that She. Was. Done. with the Golden Arches.
This made me happy for two reasons:
- It affirmed my notion that if you’re going to break up with McDonald’s, it’s best to do so publically so that bulbously-red-nosed clown can’t make a scene. I mean, sure, I wrote a ridiculous 1000-word post about iced tea (which is still one of my favorites), but not everyone has a personal website/blog dedicated to inflating their own ego. In such cases (read: for normal, well-adjusted, and not insecure-yet-narcissistic-writer types), facebook is the perfect place for such an announcement.
- The more people seeing the light in regard to Ronald’s lies and chemically mutant food, the better off we’ll all be on the whole. Will there ever be enough of us to make McDonald’s go back to the days of using actual beef without fillers, soy, or other stuff I can’t pronounce? Oh, goodness, no. What are you, delusional? At this point children are born with a genetic predisposition to salivate at the sight of that big yellow M. We’ve bred a dependence on excessively salted fries into the species. Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel are, of course, rolling over in their respective graves.
Her announcement-via-status kicked off a flurry of ‘Likes’ and comments, obviouly, prompting me to suggest she read my own “Dear John/Ronald” break-up letter. That led to the longest facebook comment exchange I’ve ever been a party to, at something like 30+ comments, as we laughed over the franchine’s sins. It. Was. Awesome. For a brief moment, I found myself thinking that maybe facebook wasn’t a blue-shaded harbinger of Doom*.
Among the discussion was a question about a reference to the McDLT I’d made in my original post. She couldn’t remember it. Being forever happy to share the glories of my freakish memory, I immediately muttered, “To the Googlemobile!”
The search, the results of which you can see for yourself, included a link to this report of the Top 10 Failed McDonald’s Products. You should go read it, if for no other reason than to see the information on the McDLT. Now. Go on. Cliiiiick iiiiit.
No? Too busy, huh? Ok, fine. I’ll make this easy for you. Along with a brief description of the short-lived and ill-fated McDLT, the page includes an embedded video of the worst commercial ever made. It’s one of those things that’s so awful it’s unintentionally hilarious, made even better by the fact that it features George Costanza singing and dancing about a burger. Well, ok, it’s not so much actually George as it is a much younger and significantly less bald Jason Alexander, but still, it’s just plain awesome. So without further ado, I give you, for your viewing pleasure and uncontrollable afternoon giggling, this off-off-off-off-Broadway McDLT commercial from 1980-something:
If that doesn’t bring you a smile and brighten your day, at least a little, well there’s probably just no hope for you.
*Don’t worry, the thought didn’t last.