Tick Tock…

I’ve been scarce this week because A) I was celebrating Christmas with my family, B) I just did 23 posts and a 30-minute video for you people, cut me some slack!!! and C) I was enjoying my birthday festivities!  Yup – my natal day has once again come and gone.  For those of you who know me (and for those creepy stalker type readers who remember all the details of one of my old posts), you know I came into the world a couple days after Christmas – which is AWESOME as an adult because for most of my birthdays  (like all but 3 or 4 of them) I have never had to go to work!  Of course one of those few birthdays I got laid off after helping stop a shoplifter…but that’s a story for another time.

As a child, my birthdays weren’t the best; terrible weather, limited choices for places to have a birthday party, you have to invite everyone in your class (even the ones who are mean to you all year long and then there they sit, sucking down your pizza and juice boxes…but I digress).  My parents did well making my special day feel special despite it being so close to Christmas (that Jesus guy really stole my thunder) and even to this day, birthdays are a huge deal to my parents.  My mother plans out every course of a kick-ass meal with the birthday boy or girl – it doesn’t matter if you want tacos or steaks (or steak tacos for that matter).  My father never forgets to hang the birthday banners which are given preferential locations so that they are in the foreground of any other holiday decorations (which means a lot seeing as though most of my immediate family are born near major holidays).

However, this birthday was a unique one for me…this was #39.  Bye bye thirties.  As far as my aging goes, I’m fine with it – I think I was dreading 30 more than 40.  Everyone kept telling me that 30 isn’t bad, you’ll be fine, you won’t feel any different (of course on my 30th birthday I was hit with a massive stomach flu and could barely move…so those people are all liars).  However, I want to really live it up this year.  AND NO, this is not some sort of mid-life crisis (mainly because I hope to make it past 80, on the other hand there are also people who look at me and say, “Damn!  You made it to 39?  I lost money in that pool!”) this is just a way for me to get the most out of the end of my 30s AND create more entertainment for you guys!  I mean, I have this nifty blog with readers  from all over (sure some of them are hackers trying to steal IP addresses, but I still count them, I’m not too proud), and most of my readers have the same fun, slightly twisted, refuse-to-grow-up personality that I have…that’s why I’m leaving this up to you.

MAKE ME A 40 BY 40 LIST!!!

I’ve looked up a bunch of “40 Things You Have To Do Before You Turn 40” lists and most of them suck.  They are either full of stuff I’ve already done (get married, have kids, buy a house) or it’s full of crap no normal person could afford (visit all seven continents, get your piloting license, scuba dive at the Great Barrier Reef).

So here’s what I need from you:

  1. Things you think I should do/experience/learn/try before the end of 2018.
  2. Keep it attainable within a year.
  3. Keep my budget in mind (think below public defense attorney and above homeless guy asking for change…stick closer to the homeless guy).
  4. Keep it legal and ethical(ish) – nothing that jeopardizes my marriage (more than I do on my own) or my job (more than I do on my own) or my physical well-being…okay, screw the last one.
  5. MAKE IT FUN – I’m going to be creating posts and videos for you to enjoy for these things, so if you’re bored by them, you only have yourself to blame.

Comment here, or on Facebook, or on Twitter, or email me before Thursday.  I will choose the 40 finalists and present the list to you NEXT FRIDAY!!!

On your mark, get set…..GO!

“Why is a birthday cake the only food you can blow on and spit on and everybody rushes to get a piece?” ~ Bobby Kelton

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

Short one tonight.  Getting the kids tucked in before Santa passes us by.  Plus we’ve had a busy, wonderful night with relatives – ate too much and had a couple too many Bourbon Balls (I’ll let you fill in your own jokes – by now you know my sense of humor, and I’m just too tired to think of anything good right now).  But I promised you 24 advent entries and this is number 24 – so booyah.  I just wanted to take a minute to thank you all for your support and laughter – two of the greatest gifts I could ever ask for.

I’m taking tomorrow off so I can bask in the holiday goodies and play with all of my the kids’ new toys.

Merry Christmas to all of you and your families and loved ones.

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.” ~ A Visit from St. Nicholas

OUR HUNDREDTH POST!!

WE DID IT!  Thanks to all of you for reading and enjoying and supporting!  I hope you enjoy the video – the subject matter gets a bit dicey, so you might want to keep this one away from the li’l ones (or don’t – I’m not your real mom, make your own decisions for crying out loud).

“If we do not succeed, then we run the risk of failure.” ~ Dan Quayle

Spoiler Alert!!!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you anything about Star Wars or Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead or Max and Ruby.  This spoiler is TOTALLY about Bobbing for Popcorn!

TOMORROW is our ONE HUNDREDTH POST!!!  1 – 0 – freaking – 0!!!  I’m kind of pumped about it.  When I started this whole thing I thought I’d have a fun little Lenten challenge and tell some goofy stories about my childhood and some social commentary about subjects that wouldn’t necessarily polarize people.  I love talking about quirky things, I love writing, and, above all, I love making people laugh.  I never expected the response I’ve gotten from this little hobby.  I am humbled and psyched simultaneously.

However, TOMORROW will be very different.  And since it’s going to be different, I asked for some help from some very special people.  I’ve talked about the comedy troupe I perform with in past posts and I am fortunate that these fellow performers are in my life all the time.  Anyone who has performed on stage knows that your cast mates turn into a sort of theatre family.  Not these people…they ARE family – we complete each other’s thoughts, we bring out the best (and worst) in each other, and we are together more time offstage than we are onstage.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have all of our troupe involved, but we did gather a healthy helping for tomorrow’s celebratory post.  ALSO, unfortunately, at no time do we explain who these people are, so just to get you ready for tomorrow here’s a bit of a visual aid:

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So get ready for something new.  Be patient, we’re venturing out in unfamiliar territory for your entertainment.  And if you could have a few heavily loaded Tom and Jerrys before checking out tomorrow’s post it would be greatly appreciated.  It is scientifically proven that we get funnier the more you drink.  Mazel Tov!

“I don’t care if the turkey said the dog was a turkey! The dog is not the turkey! The turkey’s the turkey, you turkey!” ~ A Muppet Family Christmas

On Dasher! On Dancer! On Prancer! On Nipple!

FAIR WARNING: There is some NSFW information ahead – and NO it’s not my fault (I’m talking to you family members who think MY mind is always in the gutter).

First of all, a BIG shout out to one of our subscribers, Beth, who sent me an article and told me that she’d like to see me address this trend in an upcoming post.

The article comes from Woman’s Day – so we’re talking about a LEGIT publication.  Apparently people are no longer content in settling for ugly Christmas sweaters at the annual parties and they felt the need to up the ante a bit…okay they upped it a lot.  The name of this new trend is a bit on the nose (if you’ll pardon the pun) and it is called…*ahem*…”reindeer boob.”  Prepping for this new trend is pretty much what you think it would be:

  1. Get a festive top.
  2. Cut a hole in the festive top.
  3. Put boob through festive top hole.
  4. Make boob look like a reindeer.
  5. Wait for people to jettison eggnog nasally.

First of all, I have no problem with the “free the nipple” movement – the human body doesn’t make me uncomfortable and if you’re comfortable enough with yourself to pull something like this off, more power to you.  Second, I am not focusing on women because even the article shows examples of how this is a unisex trend (which also makes me think this trend would be way more awkward if Santa travelled via flying elephants – pause a moment and let that sink in).

I am awestruck and shaking my head for both genders of all body types and levels of self confidence.  Bottom line, this is just weird!  You are literally gluing things to some very sensitive skin – I mean it has to be something like a sticker, body tape, or spirit gum, or something like that, right?  I’ve used spirit gum many times ON MY FACE and that hurt like hell coming off.  I also don’t even like to wear a sweater without a t-shirt because it feels all chafey.  So I can’t even begin to imaging gluing things to the nippty-nips!

Some participants cited the convenience for breastfeeding.  Really?  Is it really that inconvenient?  Believe me, again, I support all mothers’ right to breastfeed their children.  I will gladly have words with anyone who shames a mother.  However, if you are already in a place where you are comfortable breastfeeding…do you really need to worry about the convenience of lifting your shirt versus popping off a crocheted nipple beanie?  Don’t use the excuse of feeding your baby to stick googly eyes on your tata.

Look, I get it – the holidays are frustrating and we all need some time to cut loose and go a bit wild.  But just because you’re sick of the Elf on the Shelf you Undressed the Breast?  I’m sure there are a few other steps between sinking into the holiday doldrums and turning one of your body parts into a woodland creature.

For those of you who are interested, here is a link to the Woman’s Day article.  And if anyone ever has something they find interesting that they would like to see brought up on Bobbing For Popcorn, PLEASE feel free to leave a comment on here, or Facebook, or Twitter, or in an email.  We love hearing from you and we’d love to hook you up if we can!

“Well, I’m sure Charles Dickens would have wanted to see her nipples.” ~ Scrooged

 

Say Cheese…PLEASE

I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but if you are on our Christmas card list, we spent a bunch of time and money on lying to you. That family photo you are all complimenting? Totally staged. We only have to act normal and respectable for 1/100 of a second and it STILL takes us a dozen and a half tries to get it right.  We’ve been taking portraits since the early 1800s and while the technology of photography has advanced leaps and bounds since the camera was introduced into society, we have gotten worse at taking pictures.  There are photographs of pioneers that are more well-posed than the pictures my family takes.  Back in the day they had to set up a tripod and adjust the lens exposure; they had to load up flash powder and their blinds – the whole time, the subjects of the portrait were patiently waiting for the big POOF of the flash.  We’ve seen these pictures in history books and museums – there are children in them, there are animals, there are uncomfortable outfits.  EVERYTHING we have!  And yet, it takes us seconds to set up a photo and we can shoot a dozen pictures rapid fire in a matter of moments and we still can’t pull this off!

First of all, why do we make it tougher than it has to be.  Put up your tree, sit your ass down, CLICK.  We try to fit themes, make ourselves look more clever than we are, and contort our entire family into poses that have nothing to do with the simplicity of a family photo.  “Deirdre, turn to your left but look over your right shoulder at Chet.  Chet look back at Deidre, but don’t really look at her, look past her like you’re wondering what the future will bring – love, fame, security.  Todd-Maverick, lay on your back in the fetal position – yes, like you’re crowning.  Don’t worry what crowning means, I’ll tell you when you’re older.  Tina-Sue-Bob, perch yourself on Todd-Maverick’s knees like the soul of a Buddhist monk who was just reincarnated as a Great Blue Heron and be sure you hold up the baby Jesus and your Furbee.  Now where did the ferret go?  Is he still wearing his onesie?  Okay, I’ll just set the timer and grab my Stormtrooper helmet and we’ll be all set!”

We also put on clothes we never want to wear.  If my entire family left the house all color coordinated, I’d gag.  I once saw a husband and wife at a restaurant and they were both wearing the same Elvis postage stamp t-shirt.  I made a vow to myself and to my wife right then and there that I would NEVER let that happen to us.  And yet, when picture time rolls around, we are all digging through our closets looking for a red shirt and a Santa hat.

And you know damn well our kids never stay focused long enough to tell you what their names are, let alone hold a pose and a smile for an extended period of time (you know, like 30-seconds).  If you were to see all of the outtake pictures you’d see a small child shaped blur sliding out of my wife’s lap and dashing toward the camera.  Or a set of hands trying to pull the cat into his lap so he can squeeze her until her eyes start going in two different directions.  Our older son can sit still with a (fake) smile on his face for days; his problem is inside his head where the wheels never stop turning.  He’ll be thinking the most random things like a glove advent calendar, where you get one glove a day for 24 days, or a glove coat, gloves that look like coats (apparently he’s been thinking a lot about gloves lately for some reason) and as his mind wanders, so do his eyes.  We have so many pictures of him where he’s facing the camera and smiling, but he’ll be looking somewhere else – not that there’s anything there where he’s looking, he just seems to have forgotten we were taking a picture.

So for those of you who received our card, don’t fall for it.  We just didn’t want to spend money on a picture where the cat was getting shorn by the younger child who was about to bolt out of the room with a handful of fur in his hand, my wife in full-eye roll, me in mid-conniption, and the older boy deep in thought about how he could achieve making the world’s smallest pencil.

“I fell down the chimney and landed on a flaming hot goose!”
“You have all the fun!” ~ The Muppet Christmas Carol

There Goes My Career As A Lumberjack

I told a little white lie yesterday.  When I was talking about going Christmas tree shopping and I said, “Most of [those trips] just blur together and fade into the background.  Except one…” I meant except two.

That first story I told you about was an adventure and one helluva challenge.  This trip was more of a living nightmare!  The first mistake that we made was going without my father.  Every trip was either my dad and me, or both of my parents and me, or my parents and both of us kids – we were never sans Dad.  But Mom reeeeeally wanted to get that tree home and the ball rolling on the decorating before Dad got home (I don’t even remember what the rush was) so my mother and sister piled into my car (my baby, an ’89 Ford Probe – this is important later, file it away).

We drove to our favorite Christmas tree farm and trundled out into the snow.  It was horrendous weather (as always) and it was going to be a real trick to drag this tree through the deep snow.  To make matters worse, the place was packed and their parking lot was full, so we had to drive up the road and park by the ditch on the shoulder.

We got out and made our way to the trees.  It was beyond cold!  The windchill had to be below zero and it was whipping around and cutting through all of our winter layers.  I was so worried about how long this was going to take (my mom can be a bit particular when it comes to the family Christmas tree) because I was already going numb just from the walk from the car.

To my surprise, my mother found one she loved right away!  It was close to the entrance and the ground was well travelled there so the snow wasn’t deep at all!  I pulled out the saw and got ready to start hacking away.  This is where I discovered problem numero dos – I did not inherit my father’s know-how of tools and what equipment was required for certain jobs.

Did you know there was a difference between this:

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And this?

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Sure you did.  I however did not.  I just thought a saw is a saw.  After about the millionth pull of the saw when I finally made it through the bark I realized the foolishness of that assumption.  Nevertheless, I kept hacking away.  When I was a little over halfway through, I heard my sister’s little voice ask, “Who’s Hooper?”  If you remember other posts about my sister, you’ll remember that she is 11 years my junior – so at this time she was probably still in the single digits; an age when random questions and nonsense is normal.  I ignored her and kept sawing.  But my mother pressed her for further information wanting to know what she was talking about.  My sister went on, “Hooper.  It’s written on this ribbon on the tree.”

Ugh.

Well, whoever the Hooper family was, they had a beautiful tree picked out and half of the work had been done for them.

The second tree that we decided upon was not nearly as quickly chosen, nor was it anywhere near the entrance to the tree farm.  And it was a BIG tree – not as big as the behemoth I told you about before, but still quite a beast.  How that hacksaw blade didn’t break is a complete miracle.  We managed to cut it down and with A LOT of effort we dragged it back to the car.

Next issue, my mother and sister are extremely short and standing in a ditch didn’t help.  Why not bring it to the other side of the road?  Well there must have been an Amish parade that went by while we were walking around the tree lot because the road was a virtual patchwork quilt of horse poo.  My mother is a very strong woman – athletic in her childhood and a hard worker her entire adult life – however, if you can’t lift your arms high enough to get the tree onto the roof of the car, strength doesn’t really help you too much.

Eventually, we managed to hoist the tree up to the roof of the car, which buckled and sagged under the weight of the snow and ice-laden tree.  It was a Probe – it would sag under the weight of a lightbulb – and here it is being a flatbed for a redwood!  My poor baby.

We tied the tree down as best as we could.  It was a two-door with no anchor points on the inside.  The doors and trunk would not close if there was a rope in the way.  So it was held together by knots and the windows clamping onto the rope as tightly as they could.  Oh and by my elementary school aged sister.  We told her to hold tightly to the rope in the back while we drove.  Because, you know, if a hundred pounds of frozen tree decides to shoot off a car doing 60 miles per hour, your best line of defense is a 40-pound ballerina.

We took off for home and had not gotten very far before we became painfully aware of a strong, unpleasant odor filling the car.  Oh yeah…the horse poo.

The smell was so horrendous we had to crack the windows a bit.  Which A) sent freezing winter wind through our ears and B) loosened the tree ropes a bit, which was evident by my sister’s bulging eyeballs that seemed to fill my rearview mirror as she realized how much she could control the movement of the tree on the roof if she had the strength to do so…and also how incredibly aware she now was about that lack of strength.

It was a long ride home.  The icy winds, the thick smell of equestrian dookies, and the panicked whimpers of a young girl was holding on so tight to the rope that she was being lifted off of the seat (and she also freely shifted left and right with each roll of the tree on the roof, which would have been amusing if not for the constant fear of her getting yanked completely out the window).

Fortunately, we succeeded in our journey albeit a little worse for wear.  And we never, ever, went tree hunting without my father again.

“Can I refill your eggnog?  Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhereleave you for dead?” ~ National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

RETURN THESE SOCKS! I REFUSE TO GROW UP!

You know the biggest difference between kids and adults?  Adults have learned to fake happiness and appreciation when they receive lame gifts.  We’re supposed to be practical and responsible and blah, blah-blah, blah, blah blah-dee-blah.  “Yay!  Tongs!”  “Antifreeze?  How did you know I needed this?!”  “One of Oprah’s biographies because you remembered six months ago when I said I could tolerate her in small doses.  How thoughtful!”

Well I’m here to say the world has severely failed its immature adult population!  How many of you out there have ever snapped some Legos together when the kids weren’t around?  How many of you have tiny little adventures with the action figures or dolls you are picking up off the living room floor – even just to make them walk a couple steps or yell in terror as you pitch them into the toy box?  How many of you mold PlayDoh with your little ones and you say you’re making a snake, but that devious little inner child knows you’re making a wiener?  If you can relate to any of these, there’s still that little bit of you that holds out hope that there is something “cool” for you under the tree on Christmas morning.

***On the other hand, if you answered “no” to all of these, you are officially lame and I am no longer your friend.***

When did we start getting weird looks for playing with stuff?  When were we supposed to be too old to ask for fun stuff on our lists?  And I’m not talking about things adults call toys: cars, televisions, gerbils (don’t ask).  I’m talking about being in your 30s and asking your family for a giant Nerf shotgun or the big ol’ $400 Lego Death Star or the Barbie Dream House that you always wanted as a kid!  You’re a grown-ass man and/or woman (B4P: for all your gender progressive blog reading needs) – you should be able to get all the stuff you never did as a kid!  Instead we settle for socks and undershirts and accept them like their long buried pirate booty.

***If you didn’t at least think about butts for a split second when I said “booty,” you are officially lame and I am no longer your friend.***

We can’t rely on OUR children because their toys suck!  How many of you are guilty of steering your children toward certain toys because YOU want to play with them?

***If you answered “no” to this, you are officially lame and I am no longer your friend AND YOU ARE A LIAR!***

But times have changed so drastically and toys just don’t seem fun any more.  They have to be either educational and creative, minuscule and featureless, or weirdly asinine.  I don’t always want to expand my mind and create things out of rubber bands or beads or at-home science experiments.  I don’t want little rubber toys that don’t move and that are so small I can’t even have them interact with each other without covering them with my hands while I play – these are extremely detailed (and expensive) pencil toppers, nothing more; we used to get something like a Shopkin or a Squinkie as a freebee with our Scholastic book order in elementary school. Finally, I don’t want a Hatchimal or a Fingerling – what the hell people?!  “Daddy, can I have a mutant animal in an egg?”  NO!  We will only buy cool toys in this house!

I say we need a resurgence of the good ol’ days.  If you are over the age of 20, you need to ask for one guilty pleasure toy as a gift at some point in the coming year.  And OF COURSE, if you get it, you need to share it here so we can all enjoy the victory for our inner children’s revolution.  Power to the Immature!  Viva le Fun!

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“That’s just for starters. Now this is what Christmas is all about.” ~ A Garfield Christmas Special

Pining For You

My parents, needless to say, are a wee bit obsessed with holidays.  And I’m not just talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas and the Fourth of July.  I am talking about Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Labor Day, and on and on.  Their year revolves around when certain decorations need to come down as to allow enough time to enjoy the next holiday’s decorations.  However, Christmas is king in their house and the centerpiece to every holiday season is the tree.

When I got married, that was the first time I had ever had an artificial Christmas tree.  Before then, my family either went to a local greenhouse and looked at the ones they had already chopped down for us or, when we were feeling extra adventurous, we channelled our inner Griswold and made the trek out into the cold to hunt down our own.

I spent 24 Christmases living with my parents and I participated in the vast majority of those years’ Christmas tree hunts.  Most of them just blur together and fade into the background.  Except one…

It was just my father and me and we assured my mother and sister we would come back with the PERFECT tree.  We weren’t lying.  We drove about 20 minutes from our home and visited one of our favorite Christmas tree farms.  We walked up and down the rows, working out way into the deep back corners of the property.  And there it was.  Beautiful, full, dark green, and you could even smell the pine despite the frigid winter winds.  The only hesitation it gave us was that…well…it was a little big.  I couldn’t even venture a guess as to how tall it was – it towered over the two of us, that’s for sure.  But, no joke, it may have been taller than us combined!  My father measured to see how high up from the ground we would need to cut to even have a prayer of getting this into the living room.

He marked the trunk and started sawing away.  It took a long…loooooong time.  The trunk was thicker than a man’s thigh, the snow was deep, the wind was chilling, and the little handsaw we brought was not prepared to be David for our Goliath.  Finally, we heard the telltale snap of the trunk and we moved!  Neither of us were dumb enough to think we could catch the falling arbor and lower it nicely to the ground.  So we pulled back a safe distance and let gravity do the rest.  The trunk snapped, the tree fell, and it landed with a echoing “WHOOMP” (There it is…) and we both felt the ground shudder under us.  It felt as though an elevator lurched ever so slightly downward beneath our feet.  It was then we realized we may have made one helluva mistake…

I grabbed the bottom branches to start pulling the tree back to our car.  With one tug, I found myself under the tree – it hadn’t moved an inch, but I succeeded in dragging myself beneath its branches.  I crawled out from underneath and my father joined in and it took everything we BOTH had to get that tree to budge.  It was impossible to estimate how heavy this tree was – definitely in the hundreds of pounds range – because A) it was huge, B) it was covered in snow, and C) it was so cold all of the water and sap had frozen inside.  Add that to the fact we were dragging it through shin-deep snow and you can see how it took us a while to reach our vehicle.

Once back at our car we needed to rely on the kindness of strangers because there was no way the two of us could hoist this behemoth onto the roof.

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Notice how low that chassis is riding on the tires in the last one!  What you can’t see is how the tree caved in the roof of the car!  We had to pop it back out after we got the tree off and it never did look quite the same after that!

On the drive home, whenever we hit a bump we were in danger of bottoming out.  The tree shifted on the roof after only 5 minutes of driving and we needed to pull over in fear that if the tree rolled off the roof it would flip the car with it.  The 20 minute drive took the better part of an hour considering the snails’ pace we were driving at to make sure we didn’t launch a half-ton pine battering ram into the cars in front of us.

When we arrived home, we realized this sucker wasn’t going through the front door so we needed to bring it to the back porch where we had double doors that opened into the house.  Then we realized it wasn’t going to go up the steps to the porch so we had to hoist this tree-zilla up over the bannister before we began removing every piece of furniture we owned in the dining room and living room to make a path.

It took hours of manpower, hundreds of feet of lights, hundreds of ornaments, gallons of water to keep it hydrated, and heavy gauge steel cable to mount it to the wall so it wouldn’t fall over and kill us all on Christmas morning as we peacefully pulled our toothbrushes and tube socks out of our stockings.  We were tired, sore, mildly injured, sustained some damage to the car, and we’re pretty sure the tree ate one of the neighbors when they went hiking through our living room – but it sure was pretty!

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“Hey Griswold, where do you think you’re gonna put a tree that big?”
“Bend over and I’ll show you.” ~ National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation