TOP TEN THINGS FOOTBALL NEEDS TO GET RID OF

If you missed it, B4P live tweeted (twoat?) Super Bowl LII – it was a trip!  Stuff was happening too fast for me to catch everything.  My mind was on overload – what did P!nk just spit out?  How can I make fun of Tom Brady worse than he’s doing to himself?  Does anyone realize that Bill Belichick looks like Zuul?

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But one thing that I kept thinking about the whole time was, the NFL has got too much stuff going on and it’s time to clean house.  So either because of technology, or necessity, or just because it’s plain lame, here are the Top 10 Things in Football That Just Have To GO!

10. Helmet Visors

Okay, this one comes with a bit of a stipulation.  It protects your eyes from UV rays and cuts down on players “losing” the ball in the sun.  Indeed, this is a very useful piece of equipment and has its place in the sport.  But dude…you’re in a dome.

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9. QB Finger Licking

Dear Quarterbacks – you are not what KFC had in mind with the whole “finger lickin’ good” thing.  The ball has been all over the field, touched by God-knows how many people.  You’ve high-fived your whole team and how can you be sure they all washed?  You’ve been sliding on turf that has been sprinkled with blood and sweat and lawn chemicals and feet.  For crying out loud, your hands keep going back to your Center’s butt.  Is licking your hands before you throw the ball your best plan?  This is how you get worms.

8. Pre/In/Post-Game Interviews

What are you going to tell us?  “Coach, what are your thoughts going into this game?”  “Well, we have to stay focused on our offense and keep our defense.”  “Coach, what will you be focusing on as you prepare for the second half?”  “Well, we had a pretty solid first half.  We just need to make sure our defense keeps shutting them down and we keep putting points up on the board with our offense.” “Coach how are you feeling after that upset?” “Well we came here to play and I think we had a solid effort, but they just came out ahead of us today.”

How many ways can you say you want to win and plan on doing that by scoring more points and make the other team score less?  And how many times have we heard “We came here to play”?  Oh, did you?  Well, since it’s the whole purpose of your job, it should probably appear somewhere on your to-do list.

7. Dial-A-Down

You’ve got GIGANTIC Jumbotrons.  You’ve got multiple smaller digital scoreboards surrounding the stadiums.  The quarterbacks have a freaking computers around their wrists.  Do they really need the stick on the sideline to help them count to four?!

6. Water Caddies

These guys play hard and they need to stay hydrated.  I can’t even imagine how much water these guys need to take in over the course of a single game.  I also acknowledge that time is of the essence, so having a staff member run a water bottle out on the field is also necessary.  But isn’t squirting the water into their mouths for them just a wee bit too far?!!  You just got sandwiched between five 300-pound men running at top speed and you got back up without even being winded, but your delicate little digits can’t handle a squeeze bottle?  Suck it up, buttercup, or I’ll kick you in your Turf Toe.

5. Butt Streamer

With all the hand licking and water squirting (this is starting to sound wrong), it’s no wonder players need a towel.  However, does it need to be a tail?!  We’ll look past the fact that they have grass/mud stained clothes (or at least insanely sweaty if they’re on astroturf) but they won’t be caught dead wiping their hands on their pants (Burger grease? Sure wipe it on your pants.  Moist hands?  Oh my land and stars!  What would the neighbors say?).  So, sure, have a towel.  But…

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THIS is not a towel!  This is what happens when you use the bathroom and tuck toilet paper into your pants!

4. Excessive Celebration Penalties

Let them dance!  Where would we be without the Icky Shuffle or the Funky Chicken?!  The end zone dance is a gridiron tradition and to penalize it is unAmerican!  I don’t care if the Bears want to do the entire Super Bowl shuffle when they score a touchdown!  Except dabbing – that should be illegal everywhere.

3. Chains

You can computer-generate a line anywhere on the field that we can see at home.  You have cameras that can zoom in on the last blade of grass the ball touched.  Every nearsighted armchair quarterback can tell the second someone gets a first down.  But there is no technology for the guys on the field to use to replace the dudes with two sticks and a chain?!  You have algorithms for anything and everything you need statistically – but to have a computer tell you, “Yup” or “Nope” on whether a guy passed a certain point is WAY outside the realm of possibility.  And if the chain guys can’t tell with absolute certainty, they call up to the control booth on two cans and a string.

2. Over Zealous Statistitians

1,151 total yards at Super Bowl LII – the most of ANY NFL game!  That’s amazing!  Most Super Bowl losses was a record set by New England (as a Bills fan I say, na-nana-boo-boo) at 5.  There are great stats to know.  However, every so often the announcers will come on with a “Lowest scoring third quarter in November with a left handed Capricorn as coach when it hasn’t been snowing since the new lunar cycle.”  Calm the hell down, Calvin Calculator, if you’re that bored, bring some cross stitching or something.

1. The College Shout-Outs

Every starting player is featured giving their name and telling you where they went to school.  If you’re in your rookie year, okay.  It’s cool to know where you came from.  If you’ve already celebrated your 20 reunion, just stop, you’d be the creepy old guy hanging around campus if you went back now.  And you’d wear your college sweatshirt if you went back there for a visit, wouldn’t you?  Admit it!  They painted over your bathroom stall poetry and none of the current students have a Pulp Fiction or Phish poster on their wall.  If you’re in your 30s, you are no longer “from” that university.  It’s like referring to your 12-year-old as your 144-month-old.  At some point, you need to move on.  You’re an NFL football player, you don’t need to reminisce about your glory days like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite.

**Hey – you can never have too many Idiots in your life so I’ve got one more for you!  Go check out the Blue Collar Idiot‘s new blog.  It’s sure to get you laughing and thinking!  If nothing else, it’s better than most newspapers!

“Hey, the offensive linemen are the biggest guys on the field, they’re bigger than everybody else, and that’s what makes them the biggest guys on the field.” ~ John Madden

THE ALMIGHTY LIST

THE MOMENT HAS ARRIVED!  I received input from a number of readers, friends, family members, and even the official medical consultant for Bobbing for Popcorn (okay, so it’s my doctor, but it makes us both sound way cooler) and the list of the FORTY THINGS I am challenged to complete by my FORTIETH BIRTHDAY has been compiled.  It equally pumps me up and terrifies me!  There are some really fun things that are going to be SO COOL and others that are scary as hell!  But that was the point, I guess.  So without further ado, in no particular order, here it is:

1. Eat a carolina reaper pepper

I’ve done hot challenges before, but never anything THIS hot!

2. Polar bear swim

I hate swimming.  I hate the cold.  This sounds perfect.

3. lose 40 pounds

This is probably the biggest challenge on the list but probably the most important one too.  Phew…this one is going to take some work!

4. go camping/Hiking

Believe it or not, there are a number of normal things on this list that I have never done.  This being one of them.

5. visit a legitimately haunted location

I’m not talking about local lore, or somebody’s uncle said he saw the curtains move once.  I’m talking a place one of those ghost hunter shows would go investigate.

6. finish writing a novel

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know.  I started writing this a long time ago.  What better way to light a fire under me to get the job done?

7. run a 5k

Oh sweet baby Jesus give me strength.

8. flip & sell a house

My wife and I have had a rental property for quite a while.  Time to channel my inner Bob Villa and fix it up and sell it to another family.

9. try bulletproof coffee & “cat poop” coffee

I love coffee…these frighten me.

10.  paintball

What better way to shoot your friends without anyone pressing charges?!!

11.  target shooting

I have never fired a gun.  I don’t believe I’ve ever actually held a real one in my life.  Judging by the fact that I usually need supervision when using scissors and I whimper at loud noises, I can’t see how this could go wrong.

12.  hug a llama

This might be the greatest thing I do in my life.

13.  go caroling

Seems a bit easy.  Maybe we’ll sing 80s hip hop mash-ups instead.

14.  grill day

If it isn’t grilled, we don’t eat it.  All day long.

15.  take a painting class

This one should be a piece of cake – I can draw hand turkeys like there’s no tomorrow!

16.  ride a horse

The poor horse probably wants me to lose the 40 pounds first…

17.  sing karaoke

I was in choirs all my life and was lucky enough to be allowed to sing solos.  I was a vocal music major for a semester and performed numerous musical numbers on stage…but I’ve always been freaked out by karaoke!  I don’t know why!  Terrifies me!

18.  learn basic guitar

I’m not looking to be the next Prince, but I just always wanted to strum along to a Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash tune.

19.  milk a cow

Some days you have to grab the bull by the horns, other days you have to grab the cow by the teats.  This is one of those days.

20.  participate in a flash mob

One reader suggested a kazoo performance…it’s got potential.

21.  make a 1/2 court basketball shot

NOTE: I suck at basketball.  It is one thing I am the worst at!  This could take a long time!

22.  hold a tarantula

The person who suggested this is no longer a friend of mine.

23.  go skiing

Again, something most people have done.  Not me.  Not even once!  I’ve never even been to anywhere while other people skied while I watched from a chalet!

24.  beat the original “Super Mario bros.”

The game that started a revolution has always escaped my nimble thumbs.  It’s time I take down Bowser and save that princess once and for all.

25.  go ice skating

Nope.  I put on skates once, dragged myself along the wall for about 20 feet, threw a tantrum, quit, and went home…I was probably 17…not one of my prouder moments.

26.  Create an animated short film

This one was just too intriguing not to try!

27.  sing the national anthem at a public event

Dear God please let me remember the words.

28.  act like a professional announcer for a youth sports team

I think this one would be a riot if the kids didn’t know I was going to do it!

29.  hit a home run out of a local ball park

I never played sports as a kid (I was too busy trying to beat that damn Mario Bros. game) so this is one of those thrills I’ve never experienced.

30.  snow golf

Now THIS ONE I have participated in before a few times.  However, to keep it on my list I think we’re going to need to play a full 18 holes.

31.  do a police ride-along

I have already contacted the police and was given permission to ride shotgun (maybe literally this time).  I have also informed the officer who will be hosting me that I reserve the right to sing the theme to “Cops” as many times as I want.

32.  perform at an open mic comedy club

Again, it’s strange.  I write comedy.  I perform in front of audiences all the time.  But this scares the crap out of me!

33.  get ordained

Bonus points if someone wants me to marry them!

34.  donate blood

I have a terrible phobia of needles…this could get very entertaining for you guys.

35.  meet a childhood idol

Could be tricky since most of them were cartoons…

36.  catch a big fish

I used to go fishing with many different members of my family all the time growing up.  However, while the lake we fished out of is full of walleyes, muskies, and bass, I only ever walked away with a couple sunfish and perch.  I can’t even tell stories about “the one that got away” because he never gave me a chance.  I want to catch “the big one!”

37.  Get a reading from a psychic

I’m super skeptical.  It’s going to take quite the reading to convince me that I’m not wasting my time with this one.  But I promise to keep an open mind and not to get too snarky when the spirits are visiting.

38.  audition for a movie or television show

Oh, why not?  Find an open audition and send in a video.  Who knows, I might be Man In Hat 2 in the 18th Mission: Impossible movie.  Dare to dream!

39.  help a beekeeper

I’m guessing these little guys are harder to milk than cows, but I’ll do my best to get the honey out.

40.  take a whirlwind trip to anywhere new

I’ve never done a lot of traveling, so the whole spontaneous jet-setting lifestyle is foreign to me.  I’ve never been farther west than Indianapolis.  Florida once and very few places north of there until you hit Pennsylvania.  As far as other countries go, Canada is it and I haven’t even been back there in over a decade.  So where should I rush off to on a whim?  Vegas?  London?  Hollywood?  Nambia?!!!  I’m going to hop in a car or on a plane, plant my feet on new ground (for me), snap a couple photos, and then head back home.

* * * * * * *

So that’s it!  My challenges for this year.  I will try to give you updates as weekly as possible (I have 12 extra Fridays that I can play with).  I am also going to challenge myself to get you guys AT LEAST 40 new Top Ten Tuesdays AND 40 new posts that are not Top Ten or 40 By 40 list related.  At least 120 new posts in 2018 just cuz I like ya!

So PLEASE, like, share, retweet, comment, and invite your friends to join in all the popcorny goodness!  And buckle up, this is going to be a busy year!

“Who says nothing is impossible. I’ve been doing nothing for years.” ~ Henny Youngman

Top Ten (Best of the Worst) SPAM Comments From 2017

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to get this blog up and rolling more professionally (don’t tell the IRS, but I’ve already earned a whopping fifty cents by doing this).  Over the course of 2017 my blog posts received over 6,000 comments…71 of them from my readers.  This tells me two things: ONE – you guys have to make some more comments!  SHOW SOME LOVE, Y’ALL!  And TWO – I really need to take care of the SPAM mail much more frequently.

In cleaning out all of the junk from my comments, I came across some real doozies!  Anything from outward expressions of love and adoration to blatant hatred to invitations to join communities for hair loss medication pyramid schemes.  In any case, if these were sent to me by “real” people, there would be grounds for legal action – however, since these are just SPAM messages, they’re just fun to share with you guys.  I skipped the ones about “Hot Singles In Your Area” or “Male Enhancement Pills” because those are so cliché in the world of SPAM – to make this Top Ten list, they needed a little something special to leave me shaking my head.

WARNING: Some strong language ahead (mostly not my fault).

#10 – From Russia With (Paid) Love

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Most of my SPAM, you’d be proud to know, was created in good ol’ “Murica!”  But I also received quite a few messages from China and Trump’s home office in Russia (sorry, couldn’t resist).  For these posts, I needed to employ my dear friend, Google Translate, to help me see what they were saying to me.

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They collected ALL the prostitutes?  Kind of like Pokemon with the danger of STDs?  Watch out for her “Jigglypuff” you might end up with a “Bulbasaur.”

#9 – What Language Are You Trying to Use?

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Someone somewhere must have done what I did and used a translator which is how they ended up talking about Mr. Trump’s “chiffonier” and not his “cabinet.”  I am still not sure what kamagra is because the link was broken when I tried to get more information on it.  However, the way they just throw it randomly in the middle of the text, I like to imagine it being whispered by some sultry voice in the background like a Calvin Klein perfume advertisement.  Finally, I also wonder, as do most of you, I’m sure, whether or not “the bitch directed at law makers” was indeed “anecdotal” or perhaps something more (Insert dramatic organ stinger: dun dun duuuuuuuunnnn).

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#8 – The Victims Get Enough Help

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Aren’t you sick of all the anti-bullying campaigns?  At what point do the victims start bullying the bullies?  Poor bullies.  With all of this push to empower the targets of bullying, we are in need of more well-trained bullies.  Lucky for us there is the American Bully Training Program – just in case you need to re-up on your Wedgie Certification.

#7 – Why Have I Been Working So Hard?!!

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“Fed up of typing ‘who can write my essay’ in the search bar?”  Boy howdy, am I!  If I had a nickel for every time I had to type that out, I’d have…well…a nickel, because I just wrote it one sentence ago.  But I can tell you, I shall write that phrase NO MORE!!!  From now on I am just going to essayerudite and pay them to do all of my blog posts.  I know I said I wanted to make money doing this and this would require me to spend money instead of doing the writing myself…but think of the minutes of my life I would get back!

Okay, so I’m kidding, but it would be fun to contact them and see if they could handle my subject matter.  “Yes, I was wondering if you had a writer who could give me one thousand words about accidentally dropping a flaming Kleenex on my friend’s cat?  No?  Okay.  What can you guys give me on Reindeer Boobs?

#6 – SPAM Sweet SPAM

Sometimes the SPAM messages were so flattering – I almost accepted them and let them get published on my site.

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Even if sometimes, I didn’t always know what they were talking about…

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But then the lovefest started getting a wee bit creepy…

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I’m sleeping with one eye open from now on.

#5 – Ummm….What?

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#4 – There’s So Much Wrong Here

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Where to begin?!  The guy plunging to his doom?  The dead guy’s girlfriend admitting her apathy toward her late beau?  The hook up with his best friend?  The INSANELY gratuitous ending to that short story which, NO, I am not going to let you read?  Or how about the fact that these folks  are capitalizing on AUTISM!!!  Not cool, man, not cool at all.  Now, as a responsible adult, I can not tell you to contact this upstanding citizen.  But I also forgot to blur out the email address…

#3 – I Kinda Wish I Wasn’t A Man Right Now

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Wow.  Just wow.  Ladies, I officially apologize that people like this exist.  Oh darn it – I forgot to black out that email address too…

#2 – I Seem To Have Upset Him

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Someone REALLY took offense to my post about my “spirit salmon.”  I don’t know if he has a fish allergy or perhaps a popcorn intolerance or maybe it is an extremist branch of PETA who believes no animal should be forced to be a spirit animal.  In any case, this dude seems a wee bit peeved at me.  Now the most interesting part of the message, besides figuring out the seven hundred ways I could be killed by his bare hands (I could only figure out three hundred and eleven – I’d never suggest that a Navy Seal’s pants may or may not be on fire, but he may have exaggerated just a tad), was when I hovered over the link (because, no, I didn’t have the guts to actually click it being worried about his secret network of spies and all).  The preview that popped up was risqué to say the least (NO, I’m not going to show you).

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“This is NOT a dating site!”  Just in case you were unclear that the initial message was NOT a pick up line.

#1 – It Takes A Community

 

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What else is there to say?

 

***DON’T FORGET TO GET SUGGESTIONS FOR THE 40 BY 40 LIST TO US VIA COMMENT, EMAIL, FACEBOOK, OR TWITTER BY THURSDAY***

“The Internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication since the invention of call waiting.” ~ Dave Barry

 

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

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

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

TOP TEN MOST SANTA-ESQUE MOVIE SANTAS

First I have to apologize for my recent missed posts – I’ve been under the weather AND normal Christmassy stuff got in the way.  BUT, I said there would be posts for every day leading up to Christmas and I WILL deliver on that promise!  I plan on doubling up a couple days and giving you guys a couple doses of popcorny goodness between now and the time jolly ol’ St. Nicholas squeezes his rump down your chimneys.

Speaking of which, this is THE LAST Top Ten Tuesday before Christmas, so what better focus could there be than the top portrayals of Kris Kringle?  So here we go: the TOP TEN BEST PORTRAYALS OF SANTA.

#10 – Tom Hanks in “The Polar Express”

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Not gonna lie – this movie creeps me the hell out.  The characters are too real and not real enough at the same time.  Like those creepy Asian “service” dolls they’ve invented.  Just skeeves me out looking at the dead eyes and the mouths that are kind of moving to the words but seem to be a bit too fluid.  Yeesh – gonna have nightmares now.  HOWEVER, Tom Hanks lends his voice (and his actions via motion capture) to combine a portrayal of your favorite uncle’s warmth and a superhero’s majestic poise to bring about a Santa Claus that raises the hair on the back of the neck of your inner child.  That “star struck” feeling of your childhood when you got to that line at the mall and saw HIM sitting on his throne waiting for you to come sit on his lap.

#9 – Oliver Clark & #8 -Douglas Seale in “Ernest Saves Christmas”

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Ernest movies are a guilty pleasure of mine – along with Pauly Shore – and I have a soft spot for Jim Varney’s lovable doofus.  However, I could never ask you to take me seriously ever again if I were to include ANY Ernest movie on the top 10 list of cinematic masterpieces (“To Kill A Mockingbird,” “Citizen Kane,” and “Ernest: Scared Stupid” just doesn’t seem that credible).  However, it fits on this list not once BUT TWICE.  The Ernest storyline is garbage, the reindeer in the airport storyline is forgettable, the homeless kleptomaniac who sees the err of her ways is a barf-worthy redemption story that even the Hallmark Channel thinks is too cheesy.  BUT Douglas Seale plays an aging Santa Claus in search of his replacement and Oliver Clark plays an actor who is topping the list of Santa Claus successors.  Both Santas are human and flawed men and they let the chinks in their armor show, but they both know that children need Santa and no matter what hubris or missteps they have been guilty of, they never put the children’s beliefs in the Holiday Spirit in jeopardy.  “Y’know what I mean, Vern?”

#7 – Charles Durning in “Elmo Saves Christmas”

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What the hell is wrong with Christmas that it always needs to be saved?!  And why is it alway up to people like Ernest and Elmo to save it?  Why not Batman or Rambo?  What’s Elmo going to do – look how he saved Sesame Street – Ernie and Bert are all but on public assistance, all of Big Bird’s songs have been rerecorded with Elmo taking the lead; it’s basically Elmo Street.  And he’s too fuzzy and cute for you to realize he’s Napoleon!  That’s one reason I love Charles Durning’s Santa Claus; St. Nick doesn’t put up with Elmo’s crap!  He’s like the second Dumbledore – the first one was soft spoken and warm; the second isn’t afraid to lay the smackdown.  The movie is called “Elmo Saves Christmas” but in all actuality he’s the dumbass that puts it in jeopardy in the first place.  Here enters Santa who, without being mean and scary for the kids, tells Elmo, in no uncertain terms, “You done messed up, you furry little meal ticket, now man up and fix what you broke.”  Sometimes Santa needs to lay a healthy helping of tough love on you.

#6 – Andrew Hill Newman in “A Wish For Wings That Work”

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This little-known Christmas cartoon, featuring Opus and Bill and other Bloom County/Outland favorites, is a hidden treasure.  If you have never seen it, forget hunting down a streaming version or a rental option, just go to Amazon and treat yourself to a copy to keep.  Irreverent humor like the comic strip and true holiday warmth mixed together in equal helping.  As for Santa’s role, it is very small but Newman’s voice is what I’ve always thought Santa truly sounds like:

Also, he doesn’t give the protagonist what he wants for Christmas – in an original twist away from the perfect gift showing up at the last moment – he gives him a solution to his underlying problem thereby improving his life permanently.  Santa is better than any guidance counselor any of us has ever had.

#5 – Tim Allen in “The Santa Clause” Trilogy

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Okay, we’re going to skip over the whole part about how he only got the job because of the involuntary manslaughter that caused the original Père Noel to plummet to his death leaving his crumpled corpse at the feet of a small child who is already in need of counseling due to his parents’ ugly divorce EXCEPT that his stepfather IS a counselor who psychoanalyzes the kid at every turn.  DESPITE the grim premise, Tim Allen turns into one of the quintessential modern day Santa Clauses who adds the extra twist of balancing his duties of being Father Christmas and still being just Dad.  How can Santa play favorites among millions of children?  And how can a father neglect the needs of his only child for the needs of strangers?  Forget Tim “The Toolman” and Buzz Lightyear, this will be the role he will be remembered for.

#4 – Ed Asner in “Elf”

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This movie is just plain old Christmas fun and childlike silliness.  Ed Asner puts aside the usual teddy bear-like Santa character and just lets the jolliness show.  He is still warm and festive, but there is just an extra dash of fun and whimsy that feeds into Will Ferrell’s…well…Will Ferrellness.  Santa’s advice about “free candy” is absolute genius and should be added to all parenting books.

#3 – David Huddleston in “Santa Claus: The Movie”

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WARNING: This movie sucks like a Hoover vacuum.  It is an ungodly massacre of modern cinema.  The fact that you need to put “The Movie” in the title for a movie is a red flag.  “Hey audience, by the way, this is a movie…hence why you’re all sitting in a movie theater.  Don’t try to talk to, or touch, or in any way try to interact with the giant people who are about to show up on this big light up wall, because they aren’t real.  That’s why this is ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’ and not ‘Santa Claus: The Real Person You Can Talk To,’ or ‘Santa Claus: The Dancing Puppets Made Of Tropical Fruit Slam Poetry Extravaganza.'”  However, despite it being 99% unwatchable – that last remaining 1% shows us a portrayal of Santa that proves to children how magical he really is.  Not good enough to save this movie, but if you come across this movie somewhere, do yourself a favor and just fast forward to Huddleston’s scenes – he instantly sparks the Christmas Spirit no matter what time of year it might be.

#2 – Richard Attenborough in “A Miracle on 34th St.” (1994)

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The only downside to this performance was that he couldn’t find a way to work in the line “Welcome…to Jurassic Park.”  I usually balk at remakes, ESPECIALLY movies so well-done and classic they should be deemed untouchable.  There have been other versions of “The Wizard of Oz,” but no direct remakes.  No one would stand for a reboot of “The Godfather” or “Gone with the Wind” – so this one made me reeeeeeeeally skeptical.  But Richard Attenborough channelled the spirit of the jolly ol’ elf, stayed true enough to the original, and still made his performance unique enough to stand on its own.  Come to think of it, I’m not even really sure I remember anything else from this remake – just Santa.

#1 – Edmund Gwenn in “A Miracle on 34th St.” (1948)

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Nothing compares to the original.  Gwenn won an Academy Award for this performance, but more than that he became what we think about when we think of Santa.  Whimsical, funny, warm, kind, the protector of children, and a moral compass (and Lord knows we need help in that department).  If you ask me (which you didn’t, but you don’t have a choice because it’s my blog and I say what I want) I wouldn’t be surprised if Santa used Edmund Gwenn as an alias and portrayed himself in this movie.  It’s fitting that in a movie where there is a fight to believe in Santa’s existence there is a performance that removes any doubt in your mind that he’s real.

“Whoow! Now I know there’s a Santa Claus. Oh, you may laugh, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not so easy to be certain, you know. He’s a most elusive little fellow. He turns up in all sorts of places under all sorts of names and disguises.” ~ Edmund Gwenn from his acceptance speech after receiving the Academy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role