Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#187 In which our hero helps set the world record for the most number of people simultaneously writing about the same topic online.

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo.

As such, there are 2,000+ bloggers typing the exact same words as I am right now. I’m sure there will be no end to the “I’m glad that’s over!” and “Here’s what I learned” posts… I considered ignoring the whole thing, and just posting some random thing out of my head (as I am wont to do)… but no. It’s an achievement of sorts, and even though it probably wasn’t as difficult for me as some, I suppose it’s worth reflecting on.

I don’t know that I learned anything about myself, other than the fact that I’m pretty lazy and need some sort of outside motivation to continue to do something I don’t want to. But this, of course, is something I already knew. I did learn that there’s more people than I thought reading this, and many of them share my sense of humor, which is heartening.

I considered motoring ahead and joining Holidailies, a site that wants you to post every day in December. But I looked over that site and well, there seems to be a lot of rules. And no prizes. Matter of fact, they are looking for sponsors to give them money. See the comment above about outside motivation… so yeah, I’ll take a pass.

Not that I really expect to win a prize for NaBloPoMo. I mean, I have as good a chance as anyone else, but with 2,000+ participants, the odds aren’t in my favor.

But, strangely enough, it looks like I’ve already won something:

Blogger Rashenbo (not to be confused with “Roshambo”) sent me a very nice email, stating that she had read through all the NaBloPoMo blogs with an “S” title and thought “scripturient” was a great title. She wrote a post about it on her site. She even designed a nice little seal for the top 10 to put on their sites. She actually sent me six from which to choose, and I’ve picked the one, above, I liked best.

So, thanks Rashenbo. Appreciate it. However, I have to state for the record that I didn’t come up with the title, The Scientist did. I don’t know where she found it, but I thought it was an extremely cool word. And now, as in so many other things in our relationship, I prosper from the fruit of her labors.

This experience has me thinking back to my first “blog,” long before that word was even coined. This was the early 90s, and the Web was just starting to really take off. “Personal websites” started springing up; a trend that was greatly accelerated when AOL started providing subscribers with free server space to create their own. I bought a book on HTML, read it, and put up my own page. (Have I already written about this? Oh yeah, I have.)

I don’t remember the hordes of “online diaries” back then that we see now; it seems like most personal site were focused on design, making the Web look cool. Maybe that’s just the sites I was drawn to. Lord knows I wanted to have a really cool-looking site that people would flock to. But that never happened, which may just have everything to do with the fact that I’m not a graphic designer, I’m a writer.

But the other thing I really remember were the awards. Web sites were giving out awards left and right… and there was no “reward” really, all you got was a little graphic icon to paste on your page. And a link, of course. This was the real benefit, driving more people to your site. But these weren’t exactly the Webby Awards. Anyone could start handing out “awards,” and it seemed like everyone did.

There were a lot of “Tricia’s favorite site!” and “Golden Kitten’s Pur-fect Page” and the like. Just someone with a site arbitrarily recognizing other sites. And it seemed like everyone had an “Awards” page full of these poorly-designed icons, linking back to the host page.

Myself included.

Actually, I might have had more than my share. Because I was an absolute slut for this crap. I nominated my own site for every award I could find. Since the vast majority of these sites gave out their awards to anyone who requested them, it wasn’t hard to rack up a fair number. I had my own page of awards, carefully arranged in a nice table. I must have had a dozen or so, each more meaningless than the last. I never won any of the big respected awards of course (and rightly so) but that didn’t prevent me from proudly heralding the fact that my site was a “Silver Sparrow’s Song of the Day” site, or some such shit.

It’s interesting that this award phenomena has largely gone away. I don’t see people displaying pages of awards any more, even though a quick Google search reveals that there’s no shortage of awards out there. However, I have to say that a lot of them (at least on the first few results pages) seem pretty legit. I wish my old site was still up -- it went the way of the Dodo when I finally cancelled my AOL account. I’m sure it would be unintentionally hilarious.

And, just to be clear, I’m not maligning Rashenbo’s “best title” thing… she makes it clear that it’s just her personal picks, not some high-faultin’ award. So that’s cool. And it’s always nice to be picked first in gym class, y’know?

So that’s that.

Goodbye NaBloPoMo. See you next year.


#186 In which our hero considers exactly what his children have done to him.

Trolling around the Internet yesterday I came across this photo via Defective Yeti (which is a very enjoyable blog, you should read it):

Once I saw it I couldn’t stop laughing.

Mr. Yeti wrote that the people he sent it to either loved it (finding it as hilarious as I did) or hated it (finding it extremely sad). I was surprised that anyone’s reaction, especially a parent, would be anything other than amusement. So I forwarded the link to The Scientist and, perhaps not surprisingly, she said she couldn’t look at it because it made her so sad.

Now, before you start calling me a heartless prick, understand that I recognize that those are some really unhappy kids. I don’t take enjoyment in making babies cry -- if I did, I could have an endless supply of hilarity without ever leaving the family room. What’s funny -- to me at least -- is that these kids are obviously in a portrait studio (so they aren't hurt or sick, just unhappy), and their parents are desperate to get them to smile (look at those armfuls of stuffed animals) and the kids clearly aren’t having any of it… but at some point the parents looked at one-another and said, eh, fuck it. Just take the picture.

And then they bought the prints!

This is something that would undoubtedly make me want to claw my eyeballs out of my head at the time… but afterwards, long afterwards, like years later, it would make for a really funny story. I hope those parents had a sense of humor (and the fact that they didn’t just pull the plug and go home, sans photos, makes me think they must have) and bought the big 11x17, put it in a nice frame and hung that sucker right on the living room wall.

This is how deeply my children have affected my emotions. Before kids, I would have looked at this photo and thought, “Holy shit. That must have been a nightmare. I wouldn’t want to be within a hundred yards of that studio.” But now I can see the humor, twisted as it may be. And I feel for those poor parents, just trying to get a nice portrait of their kids. The Scientist, on the other hand, reacted just as I would expect a mother to react: she was instantly sympathetic at a gut level to these poor kids and their distress. This is why she scoops up crying children at day care who are not our own and tries to calm them. However, before kids, I’m sure her reaction wouldn’t have been far from mine.

So there you have it. Girls, your father was a bit of an uncaring dick before you came around, and was indifferent to the plight of crying children. Now, thanks to you, he fully appreciates just how funny they really are.


#185 In which our hero unloads on that guy. You know -- THAT guy.

Okay -- here we go.

When I first started this NaBloPoMo thing, I jotted down some ideas for posts, in case I got stuck for a topic. (Which I have, but instead of consulting the list, I’ve just whined about it and posted garbage, pretty much defeating the purpose of the list. Anyway.) Here’s the list:
  • Terrible taste in music (include list of all CDs in car right now)
  • Work recycling program
  • Crush on comic strip women
  • Crush on stock image girl
You may or may not see any of these topics fleshed out in the future. However, the first one I wrote down was this:
  • Talk about “that guy” -- ie., discuss that “I hate my wife” bullshit.
And yes, I do commonly use abbreviations of Latin phrases (i.e., e.g., etc.) in notes to myself -- you don’t?

I’ve been putting off writing about this topic because it’s such a hot button with me, and I knew I’d have to put some time to it to really develop the rant. But today’s the day.

First, you know who I’m talking about, right? You’ve run into that guy countless times at parties, bars and in the workplace. This is the guy who, in the middle of a conversation, casually says things like, “Well, my wife -- now there’s a real bitch” or “the wife is so stupid” or something like that.

Holy shit, but do I hate that.

Years ago I worked at a newspaper. At most newspapers, the staff falls neatly into one of two categories: young people who either need a job right now and/or are looking to gain some experience before moving on to a better job; and old-timers who have been there forever and are comfortably awaiting their retirement. I tended to hang out with the latter group.

Every morning I would join my boss and a group of 3-4 other old-timers and walk to the back of the plant where the presses are. There we’d be joined by 2-3 printers and hang out, drinking coffee and bullshitting the first hour or two of the morning away. It was a pleasant enough way to start the day, except for one thing: each and every one of those guys was that guy.

“My wife is such a bitch,” one would start. “I make all the money and she goes out and spends it all.”

“Tell me about it,” another would intone. “My fucking wife just bought three new pairs of shoes for no reason!”

And so on.

I distinctly remember my boss bitching about the lack of sex in her marriage one day. Now, to fully understand his outburst, you have to know that he and his wife had TEN children. The oldest was 13 and the youngest was something like 14 months.

“I haven’t got laid in months!” he said. “The other night I told my wife that I’m sick of waking up in the middle of the night with a boner and nowhere to stick it!”

Never mind the nauseating idea that he considers his wife simply a receptacle for his hard-on, but Jesus! Ten kids! At least three still in diapers! I’m sure at the end of the day she was too tired to contemplate pleasing herself let alone him. I mean, if you’re going to commit to having that many kids, then you might want to consider the ramifications to your sex life. The Scientist and I only have two kids and it’s had an affect. But 10?

This is the kind of guy I’ve encountered any number of times, and it pisses me off each and every time. The Scientist and I have a great relationship, and a great marriage. She is my best friend. But even so, there have been times when she pissed me off or did something I thought was dumb… but I would never start a conversation with such an example. Matter of fact, I’m unlikely to relate anything even passingly negative about my wife to relative strangers. I respect her greatly, and I wouldn’t put up with anyone talking shit about her -- myself included.

Here’s the thing: if you really hate your wife, then it’s okay, I guess. I mean, if it’s that bad then maybe you should reconsider the entire relationship, but bitch about it if you must. But it’s not like divorce is taboo in our country. Look at The Scientist: she was in a marriage that started out okay, but rapidly declined into something that outright sucked. So what did she do? She said enough, and got out of it. She didn’t stand around lamenting her terrible fate, she did something about it.

But I digress.

What pisses me off the most is men who whip out the “my wife’s a bitch” card just to be funny. I used to work with a guy who lived with his girlfriend, then proposed marriage to her. Even though he was asking her to be his wife forever, he continued with the “yeah, she’s stupid” routine at work (i.e., when she wasn’t around). One day I got fed up and said “If that’s really how you feel -- don’t get married.” He didn’t have a real response to that, he just laughed it off.

And now, I work with a guy who’s probably five years younger than me, and his wife is pregnant. The other day we were shooting the breeze in my office when, out of the blue, he says this: “Well, I don’t know about your wife, but my wife’s a bitch.”

Pal, I don’t know you that well, and I don’t know your wife at all. Do you really want that to be my first impression of her? I had to reply, “That’s too bad. My wife’s great.”

Maybe I should just shut up and count my blessings that I don’t hate my wife. But this lack of respect, this antitheses of what a marriage should be… it drives me nuts. And I find it very difficult to remain silent about it.

Now I’ve revved myself up into a good lather.

Maybe I should have stuck with my crush on the stock image girl.


#184 In which our hero reflects on Christmas shopping and his dread thereof.

This is the time of year when I take a step back from the frenzied pace of my life, breathe deep of the chill air and think, “Shit. I gotta get shopping.”

While I enjoy giving presents, I really hate shopping for them. And it’s not just the malls -- I don’t need a new reason to avoid malls, but if I did it would be how they are crammed to capacity with maniac shoppers and screeching children at this time of year -- but it’s shopping online, too. I don’t know what it is… I like figuring out good gifts, but when it comes to the actual rigmarole of buying and wrapping and shipping… ugh. Can’t be bothered.

But there’s simply no avoiding it. And this year, it’s rather impressive that I’m thinking about it in November (albeit the ass-end of November) and not December 15th. I try not to wait until the last minute, but I usually do. So then I have to deal with all the other assholes like me waiting until the 11th hour, so the malls are even worse and the lines at the post office and just stupid and it’s a self-perpetuating cycle that makes me cringe.

Of course, the real solution would be to start gathering presents in October; lord knows there’s no shortage of cues from manufacturers and retailers that now is the time to get to shopping!

The good news is that I already know what I’m buying The Scientist. Actually, I will be getting her three things, none of which she will expect and all of which she will love. At least, I hope so. My track record of hitting it out of the park is not as great as hers. Last time I thought I was getting her the awesomest present ever she ended up returning it. For store credit. Which she then used to buy a present for her sister. Still not sure how I should feel about that one.

Anyway, the biggest hurdle is the fact that I have four nephews and one niece on my side of the family, and two nieces on The Scientist’s side of the family. I desperately want to be that uncle who gets you really great presents, and not the one who you open his gifts last, because they’re so lame. I figure I’m about 70/30 in my favor on this score… but the percentage becomes increasingly difficult to maintain as they get older. My oldest sister’s kid is 14, and I’m sure there’s no pleasing him. Punk.

So, I best get my poop in a group and start some serious shopping before the holiday sneaks up on me again. Because no-one wants to see me wrasslin’ a soccer mom over the last Elmo TMX on Christmas eve.



Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. Nothing especially noteworthy happened at this year’s festivities (at least, nothing I’m going to blog about publicly) so I’ll have to think of something else to fill up the bulk of today’s posting.

The trip itself, which has all the earmarks of disaster (extremely long, boring countryside, nighttime traveling) went off extremely well. As previously mentioned, the portable DVD player and our stockpile of kid movies saved the day; both girls slept on and off and mostly watched the movie or quietly watched the road go by. Only on the way hope did Lily start to whine and, honestly, The Scientist and I were right there with her. But we all survived and since we came home on Saturday instead of Sunday, the girls are just about back on their regular schedule.

Speaking of the trip… here’s a note to whoever designs the restrooms in truck stops and restaurants: some fathers take their pre-k daughters into the restroom to change them. And while I really appreciate having a Koala changing station so I don’t have to put my child on the floor, could you maybe place them a little more strategically in the restroom? I changed Lily in a truck stop and the changing station was literally right by the door. So everyone coming in or leaving (and anyone passing by in the hall) got a great look at my little girl’s business, if you know what I mean. Now, I’m a father so if I saw that it wouldn’t bother me, but I’m sure there’s lots of people who don’t want to see miniature vagina on their way to the can. Not to mention the teens and pedophiles, y’know?

And in the McDonalds on the turnpike the changing station was positioned that when the table was lowered, I was completely blocking the only stall. Not as in you’d have to squeeze past me, if you had to use the crapper you’d have to either wait or ask me to raise the drawbridge so you could get past. Not the best layout.

There’s probably a bigger story here, about how these establishments make a gesture for men, but really focus on the women’s room, where women change the children as God intended or some-such… but that would set me off on a rant, and I’m a little too tired to build up a good head of steam.

Next on the hit list: Christmas. We’re staying at home, and we’re having exactly one person to visit, my mom. Low key, low fuss.

And no freaks watching while I change my daughters' diapers.



Back from the in-laws. In Maryland. An 8+ hour drive. The results?

Kids -- champs
Sony portable DVD player -- lifesaver
Parents -- exhausted

A better post tomorrow, I promise. Right now we're just trying to regroup.



The crimes:

“You didn’t buy me any cupcakes.”

“You didn’t buy me that big car.”

“You didn’t get me any medicine.”

“You didn’t let me go into that room!”

The verdict:

“You’re not a very good daddy!”

It’s true, when we went to the supermarket I didn’t buy Lily any cupcakes as requested, nor did I get her the giant die-cast car she saw; and we were there to get medicine for her sister, not her. And finally, I wouldn’t let her go into the play room… it would have been difficult to explain that I don’t really trust her well-being to a minimum wage highschooler, let alone explain the “must be potty-trained” policy.

However, I think condemning me as “not a very good daddy” is a little harsh, and I plan to appeal.



Couple of months ago, our day care provider made the horrible mistake of allowing Lily to take home a toy from the day care's collection. This was a mistake for us, not her. Now, if Lily is still playing with something when we show up to take her home, instead of having a confrontation, it's "Oh, just take that home with you. Bring it back tomorrow."

We have been able to use this to our advantage, however. Recently, if she's not been good in school that day she doesn't get to bring home a toy. Of course, a three-year-old not being good is mostly not listening to the teachers, ie., not having her "listening ears on." This phrase is more than a little stupid, but I have nothing but respect for these woman who deal with screaming children all day long. Not that our children scream... are kids are angels.

Anyway, Lily has glommed onto this stuffed monkey which makes monkey noises when you squeeze him. She has dubbed him "Squeeky," a name I think she cribbed from some TV show. Most days (most good days, that is) Squeeky comes home with us, then returns the next day. Mind, Lily doesn't even play with Squeeky when she gets him home, it's just the concept of being allowed to bring a toy home that matters.

So she brought Squeeky home last week, and she put him somewhere. And goddamn if we can find where she hid that damn thing.

Our three-year-old has outsmarted us.

Both The Scientist and I have searched high and low for that damn monkey, and it is nowhere to be found. Lily is not helpful, all she'll say is that "Squeeky's playing hide and seek!" Yeah, he is honey, and he's much better at the game than I am.

This worries me a great deal. If I can't find where she's hid a stuffed monkey -- that makes noise for crying out loud -- at three, then how am I going to be able to find her pot stash when she's 17?


#183 In which our hero discusses a Thanksgiving that was memorable in its awkwardness. And fat content.

Finally, I have a moment to write a decent post, not the slap-dash, rambling messes that I’ve been posting lately. But don’t get used to it, the next several days will most likely be links to books I like or a recap of all the food I stuffed down my craw on turkey day.

So, Thanksgiving. I’ve been sitting here trying to remember an especially memorable Thanksgiving, but nothing is coming to mind. For my family, Thanksgiving was very much the Norman Rockwell norm: Mom made a big turkey, Dad carved it, and all the kids came home to eat it.

There’s no grandpa farted at the table story, or Mom burned the bird or anything like that, least none that I can remember. My memories are sitting around the table laughing and eating, then helping Mom clean up afterwards. Then calling dibs on the couch for a nap before Dad got there.

Things are different now, since my three older sisters and I all live in different states (my oldest sister actually lives in a different country) we rarely all get together. And we all have kids, so that makes it all the more challenging. The norm now is that Mom travels to one of our houses and spends the holiday there. This year, she’s heading up to Wisconsin to visit my youngest sister and her kids.

However, there is one Thanksgiving that comes to mind because I didn’t spend it with my family; rather I spent it with the family of a girl I was dating.

Now, this relationship was doomed from the start. Matter of fact, I remember telling a buddy two weeks into the relationship that it wasn’t going to work out. It’s shitty that I didn’t pull the plug earlier, I guess, but part of me really wanted it to work out. I think the major issue was that it accelerated way too fast. It just happened that this girl was graduating college a couple weeks after we first went out. Naturally she wanted me to come to the graduation, and then the graduation party at her parents house afterwards. So less than a fortnight in I was meeting the parents, and that is way, way too early to meet the parents.

But as I grew more indifferent to the relationship, she grew more committed. Bad combination. She invited me to have Thanksgiving dinner with her family, and for some unknown reason I accepted. She so desperately wanted it to work out between us, and I hated the look on her face when I tried to pull back. So I went.

Two issues with what was otherwise a very nice dinner. First, I was asked to cook something. This has happened to me fairly often… someone hears that I like to cook, so they give me the opportunity to make something. I’m sure they’re just trying to be nice (and in this case I’m sure it was a let’s-get-to-know-you thing) but it always feels like I’m being asked to put on a performance. A man? Who likes to cook? This I must see for myself!

Worse yet, I had to cook in this girl’s mother’s kitchen, while she (the mother) was busy making the rest of the dinner. In other words, there’s no avoiding the fact that I was going to be in the way. I made cranberry-orange relish, which couldn’t be simpler. Cut up an orange, add a bag of fresh cranberries, some sugar and some orange juice and let it simmer on the stove for a bit. But, indeed, I was in the way while I sliced up my orange and searched around for the sugar. In the end, the family politely ate it, but it was clear that they were more the jellied out-of-the-can sort of cranberry eaters.

The second issue was the mashed potatoes. Now, I love mashed potatoes. Love, love, love. Especially with gravy, and especially with turkey gravy. When I’m huge and bloated with other food, I’ll still stuff down a little more mashed potatoes and gravy.

So I see this girl’s mom making mashed potatoes, and they’re from scratch, which is good -- instant mashed potatoes from a box are gross. But just as this ivory goodness is about to be placed into its designated bowl, she brings out a jar of mayonnaise and slops maybe two cups of mayo into the potatoes and mixes it up.

Blick !

I’m sure I made a horrified face, because she assured me that the mayo would make the potatoes creamier. I’m a little grossed out now just thinking about it. But I ate some, and maybe it was my imagination, but I could taste the hint of mayonnaise, even under a healthy application of gravy. This is not the taste that should stick with you. Mayo is for ham sandwiches, not beautiful, innocent mashed potatoes.

The rest of the food was delicious, however. And I was introduced to mashed turnips, which I expected to be inedible, but turned out to be really quite tasty.

There was no escaping the fact that I was being eyed up as future son-in-law material, and that’s not where my head was at. So yeah, awkward. It should be noted that this girl’s parents were really very nice to me, and even got me some kick-ass Christmas presents. And what did I get them for Christmas? Nothing. It didn’t even cross my mind to buy them something, and I never expected them to buy something for me. I feel like a pretty big asshole to this day about that.

So tomorrow I will sit down to a delicious meal with my in-laws, who don’t have to evaluate me as potential son-in-law material, since that ship has already sailed. And I’ve helped produce two beautiful grandchildren, so I think I’m pretty well accepted.

Most importantly, I know the main ingredient in my mother-in-law's mashed potatoes is POTATOES.



Sometimes I think I watch too much TV. Then, I look back on my youth and realize that Dad and I watched three hours of TV every night. From 8-11PM, we watched whatever was on, usually not even bothering to change the channel. I was just a kid, so I guess I can be forgiven for Dukes of Hazzard, CHiPs, The A-Team and the rest… But now I only watch certain shows, and generally only then when I remember.

Here’s the shows I make an effort to watch every week:

Mondays: Heroes, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

I’m loving both of these shows. As a certified comic book geek, Heroes appeals to me on a visceral level. I think this is pretty close to what it really would be like to have “super powers,” a lot of denying and hiding your secrets. I loved Nathan Petrelli’s comments about being able to fly; he basically said so what? I can fly. I don’t have guns, I don’t have super strength, what am I supposed to do, fly around and get cats out of trees? That seems like a well though-out conclusion. Far too often you pick up the typical super hero comic book and you find a guy with a super power, say, super strength. The writers never seem to explore this concept as far as it should go… yeah, he’s super strong, but is he bulletproof? If not, there’s going to be trouble, because criminals use guns nowadays.

The writer(s) of Heroes have considered this. Really given it the geek fanboy think-through. I respect that. The writers are playing it perfectly straight; the temptation to take liberties with the concept or bend reality a bit must be very strong. And the “Save the cheerleader -- save the world” tagline? Love it. It sounds so asinine as first, but it’s such a comic book concept, a butterfly flaps its wings, and all that. Okay, I could go on and on about this series, but I’ll move on.

I’m also really digging Studio 60. I was a big fan of the dead before it’s time Sports Night, and the creator of that show, Aaron Sorkin, created Studio 60. He also created a little known, short-running show called The West Wing. I’m kidding of course, The West Wing was a gigantic hit, got lots of Emmys, blah, blah, blah. I never watched The West Wing, and the few times I caught an episode I always thought, I should be watching this show. I’ve read some criticism about Sorkin’s style of writing, and how the characters in both shows have the same annoying cadence. Which is true, I guess, but not having been burnt out on it from The West Wing it doesn’t bother me.

Another reason I’m really enjoying the show is because a big part of it is about the writing and, you’ll remember, I’m a writer. Not a big New York comedy show writer, of course, but I occasionally write (or try to write) funny things.

Now, writing is just about the most boring thing you could put on TV. If you were to watch me at work, you’d see me typing, then typing some more, then getting up for a cup of coffee, then more typing, then a thoughtful pause as I think about something, look it up on the Internet, discard the idea, then type some more. And I’m not going to start with the boo-hoo-hoo-my-job-is-hard stuff because I have friends reading this who would be right there to bust my balls about it (and rightfully so) but I do appreciate it that Studio 60 shows that there’s more to writing than some people might think.

You know what else is on Mondays? How I Met Your Mother. This is another awesome show that I started to watch, and for some reason it fell off my radar. Most likely because it’s on at 8PM, and with both girls still up there’s no way I can sit down and watch TV -- or at least hear what the people are saying if I do. But it’s really good, you kidless people should watch it.

Tuesdays: Nothing

I’m not watching anything on Tuesdays. However, looking at the TV listings I see that House is on Tuesday’s at 9PM. The few times I’ve watched that show (all reruns on cable) I’ve enjoyed it. Maybe I should be watching it. Eh.

Wednesdays: Top Chef

I’m out most Wednesday nights at practice, so I don’t watch anything until I get home. Then I always try to catch Top Chef on Bravo. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t go into details. All I’ll say is that Sam is smart money to win this season: he’s smart, low-key and very talented. And, far as I can tell, not a giant asshole.

Thursdays: My Name is Earl, The Office

Best hour on TV. Earl is consistently smart and funny, and I think people don’t get just how hilarious Jaime Pressly really is. Do yourself a favor and Tivo it forever.

And I’ve been sucked into The Office. I fought it at first, mostly because I figured it would be another shitty rip-off of a British show. But I’m a sloppy romantic at heart, and who isn’t rooting for Pam and Jim to finally make it in the end?

Fridays: Battlestar Galatica

Holy crap, best drama on TV. Not best sci-fi, best show hands down. I keep missing it because I’m doing something or other on Friday evenings, but I seriously kick myself in the ass afterwards. I don’t even have time to go into why it’s so good. Just trust me; geek or no, there’s something for you to love on this show. And I’m not just talking about Boomer. Rarrr!

Sundays: Nothing

I should be watching Desperate Housewives, I guess. Eh. I was kinda into the first season, then completely lost interest. I hear it’s going downhill, but I find it hard to care.

So there you have it. Now you know when not to call me.



I find myself a little stressed right now. The realization that I’ve got a lot of crap to finish at work before Wednesday and the Thanksgiving break has finally come crashing down on me.

I’m stressed because I’m up against a fairly right deadline for work. And this is a pretty high-profile job and I want to do a good job. Well, I always want to do a good job, but on jobs that are managed directly by the general manager and president, I want to blow their socks off.

So I’m plodding through this copy, and it’s not easy going. First of all, the brief is full of phrases like “actionable conclusions” and “synthesized analyses” and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I hate that shit. No-one talks like that, I don’t care if you’re the CEO of a billion-dollar company or the marketing director for the world’s most popular brand, you don’t talk like that.

Well, that’s not true. I’ve heard clients who do talk like that. And whenever I hear this convoluted marketing-speak, I try to do a simultaneous translation in my head to ferret out what the hell they’re actually trying to say.

See, good writing should be effortless. And not just for English Lit majors, but for the guy across the register at Taco Bell, too. I mean, why would you ever say “we can find mutually-beneficial synergies to achieve maximum return on investment” when you could say “we can work together and make money.” Language shouldn’t be used to obscure.

Anyway, I have to crank this stuff out before noon on Wednesday, because that’s when I’m signing out for the week. And as I write this, I realize that I need to post over the holiday, too. I had planned on getting a few in the bank, but that’s not going to happen now. Matter of fact, the only reason I’m writing this now is because I already know I’ll be staying after 5pm, and if it’s half an hour or two hours doesn’t really make much difference. I’m still getting home late.

Ugh, does any of this even make sense? I’m starting to crack under this posting every day BS. But only nine more days of that, thankfully.

Enough. Back to work.



Here's what the front yard looks like after being filled back in:

Please wipe your feet.

Pretty terrible, huh? It's a little daunting to realize that this isn't really going to be settled and ready for real yard repair until next spring. We have four months of muddy yard to look forward to. Ugh.

Here's the view from the bedroom window:

You'll notice that the job destroyed part of the sidewalk, too. Something else we have to pay to have repaired. The Scientist and I aren't really crazy landscaper people but, Jesus, who wants to deal with this?



Hey Internet buddies! Having a nice Saturday morning? Sipping coffee, eating a danish, reading the paper? Looking forward to a nice relaxing day of doing not much?

Want to hear about my Saturday morning?

It started at 2:30AM when Macey woke up crying. This isn’t an unusual occurrence, since she’s still not 100% down with the sleeping through the night thing. Generally, The Scientist gets up and puts her back to sleep, but, being that she has to work this weekend, I thought I’d be a hero and mind the baby, letting her sleep.

I pick up Macey and start to rock her. This usually works, and after five-ten minutes of fussing, she was dropping off again, and I gentle laid her back in the crib.

Half an hour later, she was up crying again.

So I pick her up again, and get back into the rocking chair. I’m holding her and rocking, giving her the traditional, “hush, hush, back to sleep” routine… and then it went horribly wrong. Macey started coughing a bit, which also isn’t unusual, she’s been fighting a bit of a cough for a while now. She coughed, then settled down. Coughed, settled down. Then, without warning, she puked all down the front of both herself and me.

It was pretty amazing. I happened to be looking right at her when the dam burst. Rivers of last night’s peas and cheese and water cascaded down, soaking her jammies and my shirt. The Scientist, who’s much more tuned into alarming nocturnal noises, was up in a flash, helping wipe down the child. I stripped out of my clothes and wiped up the floor.

Is there anything like standing in a freezing laundry room at 3AM wearing only your boxers starting a load of puke-covered clothes?

Macey spent the rest of the night in our bed, which, thankfully, remained vomit-free. She appears to be none the worse for wear this morning, even though she doesn’t have much of an appetite -- which isn’t surprising, I suppose.

So, yeah, great start to the day. Can’t wait to see where it goes from here.


#182 In which our hero discusses a phobia that he knows is rather irrational but scares the crap out of him nevertheless.

Fucking NaBloPoMo! I really don’t have anything to report, so this would generally be a post-free day on my site… but nooo! Now I have to post something.

Fortunately, before this whole mess started I jotted down some emergency blog topics. Things I knew I could write about, allowing me to avoid posting a photo of my cat and calling it down. This is one of those topics:

I am scared to death of sharks.

I hope your reaction to this is, well, yeah, who isn’t afraid of these torpedo-shaped eating machines prowling the oceans just waiting for you to dangle your hand innocently over the edge of your boat before it rockets up and devours you!

But, you may be one of those lunatics that has no fear of sharks, and wants to go snorkeling with them or whatnot. Freaks.

Being that I have in Cleveland, the chances of me being eaten by a shark are, thankfully, slim. We don’t even go to the lake, and we certainly don’t go to the ocean that often. I say “we” but The Scientist foolishly doesn’t share my fear. The fool.

I’m not sure where this phobia came from; it’s not like I ever had a shark-related incident. I grew up ever further from large bodies of whatever than I am now, and it wasn’t really until college that I remember starting to think, “Huh, sharks. They could eat you pretty quick, I imagine.”

But it’s progressed to the point that I’m a little uncomfortable and sometimes a little panicky in the ocean. When we were honeymooning in Hawaii we took a late night walk on the beach once, and I think The Scientist floated the idea of jumping in the water. To which I replied No. Fucking. Way. The ocean? At night? Have you never seen Jaws?! This exchange may never have actually happened anywhere outside my own head; the fear makes things cloudy.

To give you an idea of my fear level, take a look at this photo:

Holy shit. Look at that fucker. That’s a real mako shark weighing in at 1,082 pounds and is 10’10” long. Tell me that thing doesn’t want to eat you. Jesus. More details here.

This photo gives me the heebie-jeebies. This shark is dead in the photo, but even so, there’s no way in hell I’d stand as close to its mouth as that guy is. Just in case, y’know, it came back to life and was hungry. On a scale of 1 (doesn’t bother me) to 10 (I just had explosive diaherra in my shorts) I’d give this image a 6.

Now this:

The caption says the experience was “fairly tense” for the guy in the kayak. Really? Tense? If this was me, I would have already shit out my spleen in terror. Details here (he wasn’t eaten). Pants crapper rating of 8.

Or how about this?

Turns out that’s a dolphin in the photo, not a shark. Y’know what? Doesn’t matter, it still makes my heart race a bit looking at it. Yikes. More here. Entering Browntown level 9.

Finally, this one:

Yeah, I know, this is a fake photo. Not real, not even the slightest. But knowing that doesn’t make any difference, it still scares me witless. Jesus. Craptastic score: perfect 10!

So there you have it, Internet buddies, I’m scared of sharks. So the next time I beg off your pool party, you’ll know it’s not personal.



And this is what happens when you force a person to publish a post every day... you get less than optimal results. Instead of the usual witty and insightful essay, today you get a rundown to the days events:
  • I took today off (The Scientist also had the day off since she works this weekend).

  • The entire family went to get a holiday photo.

  • Macey was fussy; regardless we got some nice photos.

  • I looked like a big dork in the photo.

  • A balding big dork.

  • Note to self -- never pose in an angle that exposes the top of your head.

  • Ate bagels at Panera while waiting for our prints.

  • Dropped the kids off at day care.

  • Faced with an open afternoon without children we did what every couple our age would do: we went to the movies.

  • Not a lot either of us wanted to see. Decided on Borat.

  • Funny, but not the laugh riot reviewers would have you believe.

  • What I don't believe is that the guy wasn't repeatedly punched in the face during filming.

  • Back at home by 2pm.

  • My thinking: plenty of time to have sex and take a nap.

  • The Scientist's thinking: plenty of time to go to the barn and ride my horse.

  • Took nap alone.

  • Made chicken enchiladas for dinner.

  • Found the phrase "Lily, can you please take another bite of your enchilada, please?" at the table really funny.

  • Watched "My Name is Earl" and "The Office." Best hour on TV.

  • Macey crapped out (in every sense) around 9pm.

  • Watched "30 Rock" and found it promising.

  • Books and bed for Lily.

  • Collected garbage and put it on the curb; lamated the state of my yard, again.

  • Wrote this post with 61 minutes to spare.

Whew! I'm still in the running. Goodnight, Internet.



As promised, photographic proof of our sewer line repair:

That's a big damn hole. I was stunned when I came home to see this. I expected there to be a hole, but I didn't expect a 12' deep trench and so much dirt that it literally covered my entire lawn.

But, that was yesterday, and today all is filled in. It looked like the biggest gopher in the world took a quick trip through my yard.

Ugh. That's it for tonight. I'm still fuzzy-headed and waiting for the antibiotics to kick this shit out of my system for good.


#181 In which our hero seriously considers the benefits of adjusting his humours.

Clearly, something is out of whack with my body. First, I couldn’t shake my cough; then I started to feel run down; then I started to feel better; then last night I couldn’t sleep due to the sinus pain in my nugget.

There was a time when I proudly declared to people, “I never get sick!” And it was true. Winter came and other than a sniffle or two, my constitution was rock solid. But now? Suddenly my immune system has gone from fearless protector in shining armor to a scared 12-year-old in ripped bluejeans. (It took me five minutes to come up with that analogy. I was trying to think of something weak and unable to fight off infection, and all I could come up with was a preemie baby. And that’s just wrong.)

So finally, after two weeks of hacking, I scheduled a doctor’s appointment. And of course, two days before the appointment, I started feeling better. I walked into his office with nary a care. We talked about symptoms for a bit, and how they had all resolved on their own, and that was it. No drugs needed. This was last Thursday.

Than, after nearly a week of imagined good health, I had a bad night last night. I woke up with my jaw aching. It felt like I had a dozen cavities in my molars. I was convinced that there was something wrong with my teeth. I got up at 2am and flossed. I’m not sure what my sleepy brain thought that would accomplish.

I tried to get back to sleep, but the throbbing pain showed no sign of subsiding. Eventually I came to my senses enough to recognize that it was a sinus infection (blowing a sizable wad of green gunk out of my head may have helped me come to this diagnosis). After an hour or so I just gave up and went downstairs to watch television.

And today is flu shot day at the agency. The Scientist is against flu shots for some reason, and because of this I haven’t had one in a couple years. However, last year I got really, really sick with the flu and, you know, fuck that if I can avoid it. So my arm has been injected with dead viruses that are supposed to help me get through this winter with minimal intestinal emergencies… here’s hoping they work. And my doctor was goodly enough to call in an antibiotic prescription, too.

But tomorrow is the blood drive in my building. I’m not clear on if I’m allowed to donate so soon after a flu shot. However, if I am allowed, I’ve no doubt that the removal of a small volume of my blood will be enough to allow the viruses in my system to get a foothold and stage a bloody rebellion that puts me in the hospital.

I have blood and phlegm covered. Maybe I just need more yellow bile and black bile in my system.


#180 In which our hero cooks a meal and only later discovers he could have gone a lot easier on the goddamn lemon juice.

We had the delightful Miss Kate over for breakfast yesterday.

She is soon to leave us forever in favor of the icy Wisconsin wilderness. Being that she hails from the Badger State (had to look that up, I assumed it was the “cheese state”) and will be empowered by the new “Dr.” in front of her name, I’m sure she’ll do fine. But we will miss you and your new short hair!

The Scientist and Miss Kate used to work in the same lab. I’m not sure how, but The Scientist somehow convinced her to take the thankless job of watching our dog when we were out of town. This is, of course, before we had children and actually left the house. The dog loved her and we never returned to a destroyed house (which cannot be said about other dog sitters we used) and Miss Kate got to use our washer and dryer, so it was win-win-win.

We wanted to get together again before she left since, sadly, after the dog died, we really don’t see her that often. We started talking about days and times, and decided on breakfast at 8:30am.

This really illustrates our lives right now… as little as three years ago it would have been UNTHINKABLE to host a meal on a weekend before 11; but now I knew 8:30 would be fine because I’d already be up for HOURS. Ugh.

Miss Kate indicated a fondness for eggs benedict, which I’ve made before, no problem. I wasn’t crazy about my hollandaise sauce recipe, so I went back to the ultimate source, my beaten and battered Betty Crocker cookbook.

Y’know, I have no idea where I got this cookbook. Did mom give it to me? Maybe. Or maybe I just bought it myself, new. Anyway, even though most of the recipes are ridiculously dated, the basics are still strong. And I liked the hollandaise recipe.

Except… I really need to read the entire recipe before starting to cook. And this is my second time making this particular recipe, so there’s no excuse. Here’s the thing: the recipe calls for two egg yokes and ¼ cup of butter (that’s one stick). So I read this and think, “that’s not going to be enough for three adults, I’d better double the recipe. No, I’ll triple it, just in case Miss Kate is a sauce hog.” Well… had I read a little further along, I would have seen that after the stick of butter, you finish the sauce with another stick of butter. So by tripling the recipe, I suddenly had to add three more sticks of butter than I expected. Even so, I might have been able to fake my way through it with less butter -- except for the lemon juice.

The recipe calls for three tablespoons of lemon juice to the two egg yokes and stick of butter. So I put in nine tablespoons of juice -- actually, a little less. Even so, this shit had enough sour to knock the smile off the Joker. Ugh. Maybe lemon juice wasn't so potent 30 years ago, but Betty? You can ease off a bit.

And thank you, Miss Kate, for being polite enough to not mention it at the table. Even though I’m sure on your way home you were like, “Jesus dude, add a little lemon juice, why don’cha?”

Even so, I think it was passable, and there was bacon and other stuff and coffee to take the taste out of your mouth; so breakfast was a success, for the most part.

We sat around and BS’d and played with the girls, and it was very nice. But a little sad in the end when Miss Kate returned our house key. Which, honestly, I had completely forgotten that she even had. She could have robbed us blind and we wouldn’t even have considered her a suspect. Thankfully, Miss Kate’s desire for crappy paperbacks and Little Einsteins DVDs is slight, saving her from a life of crime.

Best of luck, Kate. You’re a good egg.


#179 In which our hero momentary shrugs off his parental obligation, with disastrous results.

Little drama on Saturday.

Macey (who, you will remember, is 1 1/2 ) has been a little fussy lately, and started getting up three, four times a night. We suspected that she was a little under the weather, mostly because everyone else in the house has been or currently is sick.

But, couple of days ago she started pawing at her ear, which is a classic sign of an ear infection.

Ear infections, we’ve heard, are approached with dread by many parents. Mostly because of their frequency, I guess. We’ve been lucky in that Lily have NEVER had an ear infection, and if Macey was getting one, it was early (i.e., she was not yet the screeching banshee that children apparently turn into).

So we bundle up the entire family Saturday morning and head over to the doctor’s office. We get shunted off to a exam room and wait for the doctor.

And wait. And wait.

We’re waiting about a half hour, which isn’t that bad considering we just got the appointment that morning, but the girls are bored and we’re anxious to get our drugs and go.

Lily is playing with the Scientist right outside the open door, and Macey is playing with a plastic chair in the room itself. She’s pushing it around, sitting on it, getting up, pushing it around some more… no big deal. So I’m not really concerned when she climbs up on it backwards (that is, she’s kneeling on the seat and holding the back with her hands).

Of course, what I realize far too late, is that no chair is meant to be stable this way, and Macey topples over, face first into the tile floor.

I scoop her up immediately, but she’s already screaming. And in a scene far too reminiscent of just a month ago, her mouth is covered with blood.

She managed to bit right below her lower lip, two very clean cuts in the exact shape and position of her front teeth. As I hold her, The Scientist runs to the nurses station to fetch help.

The nurse, according to my wife, is awfully dismissive, and says, “Okay, mom, just calm down,” in a snotty, “oh-lord-another-spastic-parent” fashion. The Scientist doesn’t go in for that sort of shit, of course, and replies that they need to get a doctor in here now or we’re just going to the emergency room. If our roles had been reversed, I’m sure I would have employed some more colorful language.

Finally the doctor comes in --

A word about this doctor.

We go to a practice that has four doctors, three men and a woman. We have a primary pediatrician, of course, (one of the men, who’s really great with the girls) but we take whoever is on call when we need to see someone right away. We like all of the doctors, but one of the men is this stilted, stiff, rather monotone guy who doesn’t seem to relate to children very well. All I’m saying is that if I had to pick one of them to be a robotic infiltrator… well, the choice wouldn’t be hard.

So, of course, we get the dull guy -- who’s a very skilled physician, I’m sure -- but we want someone who will show some sort of emotion and reassure our children.

Or, in this particular case, us.

But he’s all matter of fact, “Okay, let me see the lip. Um hm. All right. Um hm.” I think I’m looking for a, “it’s not as bad as it looks, she’s going to be fine,” etc., but I ain’t getting it.

We talk about stitches, but with this position on her lip she’d probably chew them out, making it worse, so we finally decide against it.

Oh, and she did have an ear infection, for which we get some magical pink antibiotics.

We go home and put everyone to bed. And Macey? After some Motrin, pink stuff and a nap… she’s the happiest she’s been in a couple weeks. Amazing. Her lip doesn’t even swell up.

And of course, I’m guilty as hell about not watching my child closer; neither of us want to be hovering parents, but there’s no escaping the fact that if I was, my youngest wouldn’t have busted her face like that.

Macey, daddy loves you very much. And always remember that, um, scars give you character.


#178 In which our hero writes about work, instead of working at writing which, incidentally, is the thing he is being paid to do.

(I’ll actually wrote this on Wednesday, but I'm posting it now because I'm not up to writing up another story -- of which I have a dozy -- but I don't want to miss a NaBloPoMo entry. So don't be confused when I talk about being at work when it's a Saturday.)

So, I’m a bit stuck at work. I’m supposed to be writing some radio spots right now, but I’m not feeling especially creative. There’s a couple reasons for this (and I’m about to get really vague because this is client stuff for a promotion that doesn’t start until 2007, and putting forth any real details would probably get me in big trouble. I even hesitated to write that it was radio, but it would probably not make any sense then):

Nameless client asked for several approaches to their new radio campaign. We brainstormed several in-house, and then brought in a couple freelancers to give an outside opinion. We narrowed it down to half a dozen that we really like. The client came in and we presented our scripts. This was pretty cool, but a little nerve-wracking. I felt really good about my scripts, but I only had one chance to really “sell” the concept. My ideas, in particular, really depended on fun voice actors. So I go into a room with the client, plus four account people, a media person and the president of the agency.

I walk in and think, boy, there’s a lot of people in this room.

But I go for it and act my little heart out. The client laughs at all the right spots, as do most people in the room. As I’m walking out I hear the client say, “Nice read!” So, y’know, score one for me.

The client then picks 3-4 (don’t remember) that are strong, and we produce them.

The idea was to create polished radio spots for the president of the company to hear (this is the final decision-maker, ‘natch). Something much better than just words on paper or me trying to act like a real voice actor.

I get to listen to the audition tapes of several professional voice actors “acting” my script. This is quite a thrill, I have to say. I have very little radio experience, and most of the stuff I’ve done before is simple, announcer-read stuff. But the spots I’ve written for the client have characters in settings and jokes… it’s cool. I pick my favorites for each role, and we check to see if they’re available.

I get my top pick for each role.

So, I got to the studio (along with a much more experienced writer) to act as “producer” on the spots. Basically, I’m the director, giving the voice actors cues on how to “act” the scene and so on. Awesome. Again, this is really my first time doing this, and I’m all excited, but trying to play it cool, y’know?

The actual voice actors are out of state, so we’re recording them over special phone lines or whatever (I have no idea how that works). But I press a big button and they can hear me; which is fine -- they don’t need to see me smiling like a goon with every funny line.

We use a total of three actors in two spots. Then I work with the sound engineer to finalize sound effects, time and the sniggly details. These produced spots are then sent out to the client, along with the produced spots for the two other concepts.

Now, getting back to why I’m not into what I’m supposed to be writing. Everyone likes my concept the best. “This is the winner,” the AE tells me. Cool. I start telling friends that you might be able to hear some of my stuff on the radio soon.

But… the agency does some focus groups, and my concept doesn’t test the best. It tests second best. The one done by the freelancer tests best. So that’s the agency’s recommendation. The client takes our recommendation and I’m out. Shrug… that’s the way it goes.

So part of it is that I didn’t get to sell my idea. But I’m a professional, I can deal with it. Except for one thing: the idea the client has bought is dumb.

Here’s the thing: there’s going to be a heavy radio rotation, so we’re going to need lots of radio spots. So the in-house writers (including me) are going to have to take this scenario, and repeat it over and over, keeping it fresh, funny and engaging every time. But the problem is, as previously mentioned, is that it’s dumb.

It's alarmingly similar to the Holiday Inn Express commercials from not so long ago (which I also thought were dumb).

But my big beef here is that the guy buying the product -- THE CUSTOMER --- is too passive throughout the spot. He should be the hero, but he just sounds confused. I have a big problem with that.

So I brought up my objection again, then went ahead and "fixed" the spot, making the customer a problem solver, , not just a stander-by. This makes for a better spot, but a more difficult premise. Especially when you need to repeat it a dozen times.

So I’m stuck.

UPDATE: An hour later and I'm unstuck. Told myself to get over the fact that I think the entire premise is dumb, and just start writing. Do I think the spots I've written in the meantime are as powerful as they could be? No. But are they funny? Yeah, I think so. But we'll have to see how they test.


#177 In which our hero discusses the division of labor that keeps his household running like a well-rusted machine.

But first… I’m over the sewer line thing. It’s very expensive, and we certainly don’t have the cash on hand to pay for it, but we’ll deal. Beating at my breast and lamenting to the heavens isn’t going to change anything. But I will provide you photos, Internet, because I know you enjoy a good schadenfreude as much as I do.

Like any married couple, The Scientist and I do different things around the house. We never sat down and said, “Okay, I’ll do the dishes if you’re mow the lawn…” or anything like that; we just sorta fell into our roles. And these are roles that we are both mostly comfortable with.
  • I do the cooking. Not because my wife is a bad cook, but because she doesn’t enjoy cooking, and I do.

  • I do the grocery shopping. This is an offshoot of doing the cooking… but I actually enjoy grocery shopping, too. I’d go every day if it was practical. Matter of fact, I am terribly jealous of anyone who has a relationship with their butcher. Or green grocer. Or fishmonger! Holy crap, how much would I enjoy it if I could say, “This is Joseph, my fishmonger” ? But no. I do weekly shopping at the big grocery center (Giant Eagle, in my case) like most people.

  • I do the yard work. I don’t mind mowing the lawn, even though I don’t do it nearly enough for The Scientist’s liking. See, our city is really hard-nosed about things like bringing in your trash cans or keeping your grass mowed. If the grass gets too high, the city comes around and pounds a bright orange neon notice in your yard, giving you something like four days to mow before they come out and do it for you at a exuberant price. But, the grass really has to be out of control. But, whenever I go more than a week without cutting it, The Scientist is all over me, saying, “we’re going to get fined!” Which we never have. Something I’ve brought up time and time again, hoping that, y’know, maybe you could just chill a little about the grass, huh?

  • I also do the raking. This is something I definitely do not enjoy, but at some point all of my wife’s vertebra were replaced with balsa wood, so if she rakes for more than 10 minutes her back hurts her for days afterwards. So I do the raking and any other heavy-lifting sort of task.

  • The Scientist does the laundry. She claims that she enjoys it. “I like the way clothes smell right out of the dryer,” she tells me. I’m not keen on laundry, so I’m glad she likes it. I still have to hump the full baskets upstairs, though.

  • The Scientist does the bills… this is a big one. I used to do the bills, but at some unspoken moment she took over. It may be that she’s just better and more conscientious with numbers or it may be that I bounced a few checks… either way, she’s the moneyman now, and our finances run smoothly -- not that we have an overabundance of money, but she very neatly indicates in the checkbook when we are overdrawn.

  • The Scientist also has/had most tiny baby duties. Since both girls were breastfed, I was the odd man out for this task. Which is fine by me, I never complained about rolling over and going back to sleep when the baby started to scream in the middle of the night. These duties are greatly reduced now, of course. But she still gets up most times to deal with Macey (even though I generally check on Lily on the few occasions when she’s up in the middle of the night).
Then there’s several duties that we tend to share. The dishes. Dealing with things like the plumber. Cleaning.

Er, about cleaning. We “share” this duty in that we both ignore it for as long as possible. The Scientist always gets fed up with things faster than I do, and ends up cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming when I could still live with it for a couple months. She’s also a bit neurotic in that she HAS to clean before people come over. I mean, I’m all about cleaning before a party or holiday, but The Scientist had to clean up before THE PLUMBERS came over yesterday. Honey, the plumbers? They were there to examine the backed up sewage in our basement, I don’t think they’d tut-tut at you if the boxes in the basement weren’t organized just so. But, her neurosis gets the house cleaned much more often than I would on my own, so it’s good, I guess.

Finally, there’s an odd list of things that we, individually, don’t like to do.
  • I don’t like to put the Tupperware away. I have a legitimate reason for this: it’s a pain in the ass. We have a mismatched selection of containers and lids, and it’s a challenge to jam them all into the two drawers we have set aside to be the home of plastic containers. They have to be nested and stacked just so, or you can’t get everything in there, and frankly, I don’t have the time or patience for that shit. So The Scientist puts away the Tupperware.

  • The Scientist don’t like to call and order pizza. She insists that I do it. This confuses me to no end; I just don’t get it. You tell the guy what you want, he tells you the price than brings it to the door. What’s the issue?

  • She won’t fill up the ice cube trays. She has been extremely adamant about this in the past. Again, I see no reasonable explanation for this. She wants to sabotage our current refrigerator so that we can buy a new one under our home warranty -- one with an automatic ice cube maker in the door.

  • I don’t like to put my clothes away. It just seems like wasted effort… there they are, neatly folded in the basket, conveniently within reach. Why shove them into drawers, when it’s easier to just pull them out of the basket? She hates it that I don’t put my clothes away, yet refuses to do it for me; and I don’t give a shit. Clearly we’re at an impasse.
There’s probably other stuff… but I best wrap this up and get back to the one big task that The Scientist has been much better at in the last several year than I have: keeping a job.


#176 In which our hero discovers an alarming smell in the basement, with a yet again more alarming source.

Yesterday, while I had a few free moments on my hands, I wrote an additional post just so I wouldn’t be caught empty handed for today. There hasn’t been a lot of interesting stuff happening, and what with trying to post every single day, I was afraid I wouldn’t have new and fascinating topics to write about. Then, the Blog Gods noticed my attempt at circumventing the system and decreed:

Know what? You’re afraid that nothing interesting will happen to write about? Let Us help you with that: Let There Be Sewage In The Basement!

I was heading out the door to meet some friends and I had to duck into the basement for a second. When I got down there I was assaulted with a horrible smell; the unmistakable odor of raw sewage (how I’m familiar with this smell is a story for another time). Being a rational adult, my first thought was “What the fuck is this?”

There was a big wet ring around both drains in the basement, with little bits and chunks of… something … mixed in for good nature. Clearly, the drains had backed up, and if it wasn’t shit it sure smelled like it.

I called The Scientist down and she was as horrified as I. But, being that she is without doubt the awesomest wife in existence, she agreed to call the home warranty and plumber and let me go play with my friends. Thanks honey, I owe you an orgasm.

Of course, nothing could be done that night. The Scientist called and made an appointment today, and was able to bail work early to meet the plumber at home.

Now, here’s the thing: both of us are mightily sick of dealing with home repair. I mean, we’ve only been in this damn house for two years, and already we’ve had a guy fix the furnace twice; had the hot water tank replaced; had the gas line between the street and the house replaced; had the gas meter replaced; had the guest bathroom fixtures replaced; had the kitchen faucet replaced; and, and… am I forgetting something? Well, you get the point, it’s been a lot of stuff to fix.

My hope is that having everything shit the bed so soon means that we’ll live in this house for decades without having to lift a finger, but we’ll see.

Anyway, the plumber comes out and snakes the line and declares it clear. But, he says it clogged in the first place for a reason, so he wants to run a fiber optic camera down our crapper to see what’s up.

Sigh. More money going -- said un-ironically -- down the toilet.

Hopefully it will be grease build-up or something like that… worst case is a broken line or tree roots or tree roots that have broken the line.

Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll make for a great post.

UPDATE: And it just keeps getting better: the camera revealed what is most likely a broken pipe in the yard.
  • Cost to dig up the lawn and replace it: "a couple thousand"
  • Percentage that our home warranty will cover: ZERO
Christ! Hopefully they're discover that Indian burial ground while they're in there and put some souls to rest so we can live in peace.


#175 In which our hero exercises his right to have a say in the outcome of our elected leaders -- in theory, at least.

I voted yesterday. This is the first time in my life that I’ve voted in a mid-term election, even though I’ve voted in every presidential election since I turned 18. The mid-terms always seems so… blah. Councilman, Congressman, Senator, School Board… none of them really appeared to affect me directly, so I just couldn’t be bothered. Maybe I’m a little bit wiser now and see that our Congress and Senate members do make a difference, and a big one if they happen to be in the party of the majority. And that’s what was really on the line, who gets to call the shots. And I’ll be the first to admit that it’s fairly shitty that I voted for the party and not the people… frankly, I don’t know if Brown will make a better Senator than DeWine or if Strickland will make a better Governor than Blackwell.

Honestly, I think our political system is a bit screwded. I mean, the #1 job of any elected official is keeping his or her job. I think about it this way… if I knew that I was going to have to defend my right to keep doing my job in, say, two years, you can be sure that reality would always be in the back of my head. After a while, just doing good work wouldn’t be enough, I’d try to spin my work to make the maximum number of people happy. No, that’s not even true, I wouldn’t care about most people, only those who get a say if I kept my job or not.

If I felt really strongly about a concept that was objectionable to lot of those people -- even if it was the right thing to do -- I’d seriously have to consider my position. Do the right thing and lose my job (and lose the ability to ever potentially do good work again) or hedge and keep my job? So you have a bunch of elected officials dealing with this every day… and it’s not just a handful of people who get to say if they are out of work or not, it’s hundreds of thousands across the entire state. Ideally, these elected officials would just do their job and not worry about re-election until their last year. But that’s just not possible, is it? There are fundraisers all the time, photo ops, speaking engagements… and during every one of these (from day one in office to (re)election day) the official has to be thinking, “How I perform today will have an affect on if I get to keep my job or not.”

I guess that’s the price to pay for American politics, and if you can’t deal with it, the gig isn’t for you. Clearly it’s not for me. Then again, given my often-laid off history, it would be a luxury to know that my job was guaranteed for a certain number of years.

The Scientist and I both had to vote on provisional ballots yesterday, her because her name had mysteriously fallen off the rolls, and me because they still had the old address. This is completely our fault, of course; the thought crossed my mind that we should confirm our status before voting day, but I never did. Rest assured that we will before 2008.

I have no faith that our votes will actually be counted. Given the numerous and pervasive voting issues in northeast Ohio, I wouldn’t be surprised if our ballots are sitting in a wet box somewhere, uncounted.

But, the results came out pretty much the way we wanted anyway, so I’m not too fired up about it. It’s nice to wake up and not feel so much like a stranger in my own state. After Bush was re-elected in 2004, I really felt like a stranger in a strange land. The majority of my neighbors didn’t think like I did… matter of fact, many of them were diametrically opposed to my way of thinking. I longingly looked at “blue states” like California and thought, huh, maybe that’s where we should be raising our children.

So while it’s nice to be in the majority, I can’t help be being still pissed at Ohio. I mean, everything that people are so fired up about today existed two years ago… the war in Iraq, the obvious lies and deceptions generated by the White House to get us in that war, Republican misdeeds, the economy… nothings changed, it’s only gotten worse. Ohio (and the country at large) had the opportunity to make a change THEN, but they dropped the ball. It’s cold comfort to say, “Y’know what? I fucking told you this would happen two years ago!”

Now we’ll see if anything really changes. I’m not that hopeful. Even if the Democrats take control of the Senate (VA and MT are still tabulating as I write this) I don’t hold my breath for sweeping changes. The pendulum may have swung in the opposite direction, but it’s still following the same track.

Wow… that all ended up much more political ranty than I intended. Back to cute little girls’ farting stories tomorrow.


#174 In which our hero meets an oddly zoomorphic man who appears to have never mastered the art of shaking hands.

About a month ago The Scientist declared that I need more life insurance. She has a policy, and I have coverage through work, but I should have more, she said. Just in case, y’know, something were to happen to you. Then she smiled evilly and added, “buh-ha-ha-ha!

But yeah, sure, it’s a good idea… but life insurance is one of those things (at least for me) that I don’t want to think about. For obvious reasons. But also, we’re not exactly swimming in cash, so I’m hesitant to add yet another monthly bill to the pile. But it was decided that I should at least call our insurance agent.

Now, I’ve never met this guy. The Scientist had home/auto/life through this guy before I even knew her, and since it was cheaper for us to have everything under one roof, I took out an auto policy with this guy when I moved in. And in the years I’ve had a policy with this guy, I’ve only talked to him once to inform him that I bought a new car. Whenever his name is mentioned, The Scientist rolls her eyes… but he seems competent, and I’ve never had any complaints.

So I call the guy and we talk; he’s a little chattier than I care for, but I get it that it’s part of his job… he needs people to trust him, and most people enjoy this mostly meaningless chat: “Where do you work? Oh, what do you do there? Boy, that’s very interesting!” I, however, do not. I just need this guy to do the paperwork, and frankly, if I could just do it all online I would. Anyway.

We talk a bit, and then he wants to set up a time to come to the house. This is necessary, I guess, since there’s paperwork to be signed. Fine.

He comes over last night. He had a bit of trouble finding the place in the dark, so he’s not there until 8PM. And we’re already off to a bad start. Macey still isn’t used to the time change, so our 8 o’clock is her 9 o’clock, and that’s just about bedtime.

We sit and he’s apologetic about being late, and that’s fine let’s get to it, shall we? But he asks me where I work, and you’re a copywriter, that’s interesting, a friend of mine owns a small agency downtown, wish I could think of the name right now and blah, blah, blah. Clearly, this guy doesn’t get it that there’s a ticking time bomb playing with block mere inches away and we need to get this thing buttoned up pronto.

Problem is that it’s immediately apparent that insurance guy is one of those people who take twice as long as needed to explain every. Little. Thing. I mean, yeah, it’s important, but I’m a reasonably smart fellow, and you’ve already explained the coverage to me in two different ways -- I GET IT! I was constantly saying, “Okay, yeah, got it. What else?”

But he’s taking his glasses off, squinting at the forms; putting them back on, giving me what he must think is a concerned, listening face; taking his glasses off… if I were reading a description of insurance guy in a novel, I’d complain that the author was being lazy, using an obvious stereotype instead of fleshing him out as a real character. This guy is a little paper-pusher who sits in a dark office pouring over numbers all day. And with this guys squinty eyes, pale completion and cheesy little mustache is looks all the world like a mole suddenly turned out into the light of day.

So we talk about different coverage levels, and we consider increasing the policy that The Scientist already has and, of course, it all boils down to what we can afford month to month, and nothing’s ever easy, is it?

Macey is getting progressively more cranky, and around 8:30 she finally looks up and says, “Hey, y’know what? This staying up past my bedtime? Fuck that and fuck you!” and she loses her mind. The Scientist quickly shuffles her off to bed, and the insurance guy and I finish up.

As we stand, insurance guy extends his hand for a handshake. Now, I know I’m totally old school in this, but I like to do business with people who can give me a nice, firm handshake. I mean, it doesn’t have to be a ridiculous cartoon pump up and down shake, but I want to feel like you have a grip on my finances. Get it? A grip? Right…

This guy extends his hand into the proper handshake posture, but apparently no-one has every explained the entire ritual to him, because he just leaves his hand out there, and when I squeeze his hand, he doesn’t squeeze mine in return. He just hangs it out there, like a prosthetic hand. And it’s not, because I just saw him complete half a dozen forms with it. Yuck. I Purell’d my hands thoroughly afterward.

Now, he goes back to his cave office and mails in the forms, and apparently a nurse will be dispatched to my home to evaluate me. She’s going to take blood and urine just to make sure that I wasn’t lying about my current health.

She just better get here before 8 o’clock. And shake my hand like a man, dammit!


#173 In which our hero participates in a group pagan ritual, enjoys himself thoroughly and eats many sandwiches.

So, Halloween.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve worked at a place that was loose/fun enough to encourage the employees to dress up. My current agency has those qualities in spades, so it’s no surprise that not only did people dress up, but there was a Halloween party with prizes for best costume.

Being that this is an advertising agency, I should have expected really good costumes. The contest was for best “funny costume,” best “scary costume” and best “group costume.” Walking in the door I felt pretty good, but when I saw some of the other costumes, my prize winning hopes plummeted.

Some of the best in the group category:

  • The Scooby-Doo Gang: really spot-on casting. “Shaggy” left his goatee grow out for two weeks ahead of time. The capper? “Velma” owns a real, live Great Dane, who she brought in for judging. They looked great.

  • The Red Hat Society: bunch of young women who dressed up as old woman. Kinda fun, but what really made it was the one man who put on a dress to participate. And I have to say, his hat was really quite lovely.

  • The Shits: a group of people wearing brown costumes that looked like big turds… each with it’s own special attribute: one had flames painted on the side (“Hot Shit”), one had a halo and wings (“Holy Shit”), one had tattoos (“Tough Shit”)… and so on. A couple were a bit of a stretch (one wearing a small fan around her neck and boxing gloves? “When the shit hits the fan”) but pretty clever overall.

  • The Bachelor: probably the best conceived “costume” of the bunch… matter of fact, not just costumes, really, but a full-blown event. One of the media guys is English, so he was “The Bachelor” (i.e., from the reality program of the same name) and there were eight suitors, each of a delightful stereotype: the weeping virgin, the slutty stalker, the beauty queen, and so on. There were audition videos to watch, three rose ceremonies throughout the day, and an agency-wide contest in which you could win $50 if you chose the winner. Well thought-out and orchestrated. However, not so amazing costume-wise… I mean, The Bachelor was just a guy in a suit, the stalker wore a low-cut dress... eh.

  • The Clue Gang: You know, Mr. Green, Col. Mustard… Miss Scarlet was a cross-dressing man who, frankly, looked great in a dress. Each had a murder weapon, too… but in the end, much like the Bachelor crew, it was just people in dresses or suits.
The winner: The Shits. They were deserving, I guess, but it just wasn’t to my taste, really. Boy, that makes me sound snobby.

Some of the best in the funniest category:
  • Giant piñata: probably my favorite… this woman wore a giant piñata, it had to be five feet tall, and only her legs stuck out the bottom. And the best part? When you whacked her with a stick, candy fell out the bottom. Hi-larious!

  • The Bride: that is, Uma Thurman from “Kill Bill.” Her costume was amazing (she got it from eBay, and it was dead-on right down to the yellow shoes). She did a flip during the “agency costume parade,” which got her a lot of points, I think.

  • Death row: There’s a woman in the office who’s in a wheelchair right now due to leg surgery… she decorated the chair to look like an electric chair, wore black and white prisoner stripes and had a tin-foil cap that lit up. I thought she was a shoo-in to win.

  • Silent movie: this rather statuesque woman wore black and white and had a tile card pinned to her hip… making her a “silent movie.” Probably too conceptual, since most people didn’t get it (myself included).
The winner: a flyboy. WTF? I didn’t think this costume was that funny, really… it was a couple of guys in aviator goggles, and they had dressed up a shopping cart to look like a plane (that is to say, they duct-taped cardboard wings to it) and pushed each other around. Eh. I smell fix.

The scariest costumes:

There were maybe four people really trying to be scary… one dressed as IT, another guy with this crazy costume that was a black hood with a mask that somehow popped up and down… hard to explain. Another guy in ghoulish black and white makeup.

The IT guy won, and rightly so. This costume was only minimally affected by the brand name “BOZO” on his sleeves.

My costume?

Identities hidden to protect the innocent.
Here, Daphne considers a new line of work.

It’s kinda hard to read, but my bling says “COPY PIMP.” I thought this was hilarious. I’m a copywriter, see, so I’ll PIMP your COPY! No-one got it. I also made a crunk cup that read, “WORD,” which I also thought was hilarious. Still no takers.

Next year, less conceptual maybe. Probably the funniest thing of all was that Lily said I dressed up as a "pimple," which was so funny we never corrected her.

I’ve already given thought to next year’s costume. See, the agency doesn’t fool around with prizes… the funniest and scariest costumes each got a $1,000 travel voucher good for a year; and the group got a free night out (dinner and drinks) at a swanky place in downtown Akron.

Clearly, the way to go is scariest. There were probably 20 funny costumes in the contest, but only five scary. Next year, I’m going all out.

Or maybe I’ll just focus on dick n’ fart jokes.

OH! The sandwiches! Couple of weeks ago the agency sponsored a contest to create a new sandwich for a local deli. The grand prize was having your sandwich added to the menu, and a sandwich a week for a year. The food for the Halloween party was the sandwich finalists (which did not include yours truly). I ate of all the finalists, and have to say they were all better than the one I came up with. Again, next year!



The Scientist has to work every third weekend. This never works out evenly, far as I can tell, due to people being off and what-not. The result is me being surprised every Friday and saying, "Oh hell, you have to work this weekend?"

And here's where I've developed a deep respect for single parents. Having the girls to myself Saturday and Sunday can be... taxing. Not that the diaper changes and feeding is a big deal; it's more the daggers that are driven into my skull when Macey is screaming "MAMA! MAMA!" for two hours straight. And no adults to bitch to.

Today was especially bad. To add to Macey's screaming was Lily's never-ending pleas of "can I have some candy? Please? Please can I have some candy? I want some candy!" At one point she ran into the room and shouted at me, "I want some candy NOW!" Tone your ass down, Veruca Salt, that's not going to get you anywhere. Damn you, Halloween!

It doesn't help that I'm still hacking and coughing like a lung cancer victim, horking up great green gobs of God-knows-what. I’m just tired of being sick. I’m afraid that I’m actually going to have to go to the doctor now, just to make sure I don’t have pneumonia or some exotic lung-rot. Ugh.

But, The Scientist is home now, and other than being a grumpy dick (me, that is) all is calm in the house again. Whew.

Wow… when you have to post every day, the quality of the writing sure goes down, huh?


#173 In which our hero helps celebrate a birthday with an odd, but highly-desired item.

Lily turned three on Thursday. It’s amazing that this little human has been a constant part of our lives for three entire years now… it doesn’t seem that long. What is even more amazing is that in only three years she’s grown from a basically immobile and non-communicative lump into a real little person with her own personality, quirks and, naturally, attitude.

And as much as I rant and rail about men who are lousy husbands and fathers… I forgot that it was her birthday. Yeah, I’m a shithead. I was thinking it was the 6th. So when The Scientist called to ask when I would be home, I hold her that I had to work late, and to go ahead and eat without me.

THE SCIENTIST: Oh… do you want us to do cake and presents without you, too?
ME: Oh shit! Tonight’s Lily’s birthday?
TS: Yeah.
ME: Okay, never mind. I’ll be home.

I brought work home with me -- something I try to never do. Not because of some home/work line in the sand, but rather, because I never get around to doing it at home. And indeed, those papers stayed in my bag until the next day, untouched.

I got home a little late, but just in time for cake:

And presents:

And finally… remember when Lily wanted that stupid plastic helmet back before Halloween, and had a little bit of a meltdown when we wouldn't buy it for her?

That night, as I was tucking her into bed, we had this conversation.

ME: Lily, did you have a nice birthday?
LILY: Yeah.

She curled up under her blanket, facing the wall. Suddenly she twisted to look up at me.

LILY: Daddy? I’m so happy you boughted me that helmet. I really wanted it!
ME: I’m glad, honey.
LILY: I love it the best!
Happy birthday, Lily. I love you. Even more than a $4 plastic helmet.


#172 In which our hero discusses corning, which may sound like a deviant sexual act, but is, in fact, not.

The last several work days I’ve been sitting around with my thumb up my ass, but now, naturally, when I want to write and post daily I’m chin-deep in work. But, as I have a few minutes before jumping into project #2 of many, I have to write about something that’s been on my mind for months: CORNING.

I know that sounds vaguely sexual, but I can only assure you that it is not.

I grew up in a tiny town right on the OH/PA border; there wasn’t much around us other than farms. And, being in Ohio, most of these farms grew corn. In the lead-up to Halloween every year, my friends and I (and pretty much every other kid in town under the age of 16) would steal field corn (i.e., hard, dried corn left on the stalk to be used for animal feed), shuck and shell it, and run around town pelting houses with it. When you got a good throw at a big picture window or, better yet, aluminum siding, it made a very satisfying rattle-claddle noise. This provided us with hours of fun.

Remember, I said it was a small town.

Looking back, it’s amazing to me that this behavior was allowed. I mean, it was no secret among parents what we were doing; and if it was, the paper grocery store bags filled with dried corn should have been a big giveaway. We would dress in black (to better hide in the darkness) and literally run all over town, unsupervised, for hours corning houses. The big payoff was if someone would come out on the porch and yell at you. The especially bold among us would then pop up from the bushes and pelt the yeller with more corn. Hilarious.

Now, I can’t even imagine allowing my children to do this. Run around in the dark, trespass, vandalize (albeit, mildly) houses? Even more amazing, is that the law looked the other way. It was a Halloween prank, it lasted for maybe a week before Halloween, and that was it. The only ones who really got up in arms about it were farmers. Apparently they didn’t appreciate a bunch of kids stomping through their field stealing their crops. Go figure.

When I went to college I would occasionally mention corning to people, and without exception they looked at me like I was insane. It was something that always happened in the fall at home, and had for generations, far as I could tell. It never occurred to me that everyone didn’t do it.

After a while I stopped mentioning it, and came to the conclusion that this was something that only happened in my little home town. When The Scientist and I were dating I brought it up, and got the same “what the hell kind of Children of the Corn town did YOU grow up in?” look.

One corning experience that really stands out: one night, we were out corning cars. This is just like corning houses, but you hide by the side of the road and throw at passing cars. The big thrill is if they slam on their breaks for a second, before driving away. It was always in the back of my head that corning cars could lead to something catastrophic, like the driver panicking and driving into a tree (not that this ever happened). So we didn’t corn cars very much; most often it was an end of the night thing, after we were tired from running around town.

Well, we knew we picked the wrong car when a corvette stomped their breaks and five teenage boys came pouring out. I was probably 13 or so, and these were high-schoolers… and not only any high-schoolers, but high school toughs. We split up and ran, but I was caught. I tried to talk my way out, but I was held until the leader came to me. He was a known psychopath, even to us middle-schoolers. He squared up on me as his buddy held me tight. He asked me my name and I told him. See, my father was a principal in the school system, and for a brief shining moment I thought that this guy would come to the conclusion that it would be a bad idea to punch out the principal’s kid.

I was very wrong.

He sucker-punched me mightily in the gut, leaving me crumpled and gasping for air. Looking back, I guess I’m lucky that he didn’t beat the shit out of me, a quick shot to the gut was getting off easy.

I’m pretty sure I never corned cars again after that.

So for years I lived with the notion that my miniscule hometown had this weird Halloween custom that no-one else in the world knew about.

Until this year.

I was talking with one of the VPs of account services about some project we were working on together. There was some question about the color selection, and she picked up on my accent. Growing up less than an hour away from Pittsburgh, I has a couple of distinctive qualities about my speech. The biggest by far, is how people who grew up where I did pronounce “wash” as “wursh.” I’ll be the first to admit that it makes you sound like a hillbilly, and ever since leaving town I have worked hard to NEVER say “wursh.” About 98% of the time I pronounce it correctly… but every once in awhile, it will still slip out. I think the last time we had an appliance crap-out I screamed, “We just had this fucking wurshing machine fixed last month!” Naturally, my wife never misses the opportunity to mock me for this.

But even though I don’t say “wursh” (at least, most of the time) I still pronounce “color” as “keller,” hard K. Only rarely have I had people not understand me, so I’ve never worried about it. I can say it correctly if I envision the word as “culler.”

Anyway, this AE picked up on it, and asked me where I was from. Turns out she grew up in a small town not far from my hometown. Our schools even played each other in football. Ha, ha, small world.

Couple days later, I started thinking about corning. So I asked her about it and, by God, she had been corning! She hadn’t thought about it in years, she said, and we both had a good laugh about it. Then, amazingly enough, a passing graphic designer chimed in saying she, too, had been corning. Holy crap! Twenty years of isolation and suddenly my weird small-town prank is shared by no less than two people! Crazy.

My mom was up last weekend, and I asked her if she remembered corning. “Oh course!” she answered. Do kids still do it? “Yes, every year.”

I wonder if there’s some distant pagan/insular community foundation to this ritual, or if it just started with a bunch of bored Ohio kids? Next Halloween, Lily and I might have to make a quick trip to a lonely corn field somewhere. Just to, y’know, keep traditions alive.

But no corning cars.