What Happened to My Parents?

I’ve lost my parents.  They’re gone.  Lost them both at the exact same time.  I lost them both in childbirth – when my wife and I had kids.  Now these two people who LOOK like my parents and sound like my parents are living in my old home.  And that whole “if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck” thing is a bunch of malarky!

Let me preface this by saying I LOVE MY PARENTS – they’re my heroes and our boys are so lucky to have them in their lives.  But, let’s face it, they’ve lost their minds.

I remember growing up with these people who were workaholic homebodies.  My mother’s mantra was: “I don’t make plans because something always ruins them.”  My dad’s mantra was: “don’t get stupid” but that was for totally different reasons and has nothing to do with this post and I tried to abide by it…but, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough you know– things happen.  For the purposes of this post, my father didn’t say much because he was usually asleep in his chair by 6:00 p.m.  Even when I was in college, my mother called me almost every day, from home, because that’s where they were.

Now, I have no idea where they are!  EVER!  They are going places planned and unplanned constantly!  There is not an empty square on their calendar and yet they are still up for disappearing on a whim.  Especially if one of my little heathens wants to go somewhere.  Do you know that I have only gone to Chuck E. Cheese twice in my life and once was when I was 37 years old.  The time I went as a child, it was part of a separate vacation trip which also involved my aunt and uncle and cousin.  And I remember, ever since that trip, my mother talked about the terrible pizza, and germ-riddled games and attractions, and how it was too crowded with too many people who might be the embodiment of “stranger danger.”

My kids have also been there twice.  Once when we were driving by a city, an hour away from our home, when we were starving and were already engaged in a full-out day of family fun for our boys.  The second time was six days later when our boys spent the night with my parents and when asked what they wanted for dinner the three-year-old answered, “Chuck E. Cheese.”  Well apparently that was a convincing enough argument for my parents to pile them into the car and drive an hour away from home to have pizza.

Speaking of food, I knew what we were having for dinner weeks in advance because the menu didn’t change.  We ate very few microwavable things because that wasn’t “real food” – the good food is homemade and you needed meat and vegetables every day.  We had desserts in our school lunches (a Little Debbie somethingorother or a pudding cup) but actual desserts with dinners were treats like with a full Sunday dinner or a holiday.  NOW there are times my older son isn’t hungry for dinner because he stopped over to my parents’ house and he filled up on mini microwaved corn dogs, crackers and canned cheese, and ice cream!  They even fed him Kool Aid AND NOT AS A DRINK!  HE ATE IT FROM THE PACKAGE!

I remember being in SERIOUSLY deep trouble when I refused to eat what my grandmother had made for dinner one time (not from my grandmother, mind you, she ended up making me a grilled cheese – she understood I thought ham was gross) but now my kids have more multiple choice options than they give on the SAT!  “I made lasagna, but I thought some people would want ravioli, and Nathan loves spaghetti.  Andrew, do any of those sound good to you or do you want a hot dog?”  “No thank you, grandma, I couldn’t eat another bite after I just shotgunned this packet of pink lemonade powder.”

And I lived in constant fear of not liking something my mother made.  To this day there are things I don’t like that I eat and I never say a thing.  NO, I’M NOT TELLING YOU!  SHE READS THIS!  I’M IN ENOUGH TROUBLE AS IT IS FOR WRITING THIS AT ALL!!!  It was bad enough if I didn’t eat enough of something or didn’t eat something fast enough, I was accused of not liking it. But to actually push something away and say I don’t like it?! That was dangerous ground. My wife and I aren’t that hardcore, but we do make the boys try something before they decide they don’t like it.  I was in the process of telling my mother this when I made my younger son try something different he didn’t want to eat. Or at least I was trying to explain it to her – she was too busy howling with laughter until she couldn’t breath and had tears rolling down her cheeks because my 3-year-old took a bite and gave me the most sarcastic smile and “Mmmmm” he could muster. Needless to say in that battle: Dad 0; Nate and Grandma 1.

I suppose it’s a right of passage for grandparents to do outrageous things for the grandkids. They played by the rules and it was a hard job being a parent – now they can take it easy and let someone else deal with the tough stuff. My grandfather used to schlep gallons of water from his house for my sister to drink because she didn’t like how ours tasted (they lived 5 blocks away – it was the same water). I’m sure my mother and father would tell you how ridiculous that was if my dad could hear you over the sound of every musical Christmas decoration he let Nathan turn on simultaneously or if my mother wasn’t so busy making Andrew some iced tea – not like regular iced tea – like brewing a cup of tea like you were going to drink it hot, cream and sugar added, and then adding ice cubes to it to lower the temperature down to a cold drink…

“If I’d have known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I would have had them first.” ~ Lois Wyse

Top Ten Foods That Will Probably Kill You As Soon As You Eat Them

It’s been a couple weeks but Top Ten Tuesday is back!  The idea for this list popped into my head as I was driving around on my lunch break. Now, I’m very conscious about what I eat – I try to make good choices.  I still have my guilty pleasure meals once in a while, but for the most part I try to be healthy ever since I caught a mild case of near death experience.  However, I am far from a “food Nazi.”  If you want to eat something, I’m not going to guilt you by talking about fat content or sodium – everyone needs to make their own decisions.  If we’re ever out to eat together, you can order anything you want and I won’t judge you at all…

…unless you order these.  These are just stupid.  These are going to kill you as soon as you eat them.

10.  Candy Corn  Candy-Corn

Someone mixed sugar and wax and made a million dollars overnight. These little Halloween-themed bits of yuck lure you in with their pretty colors and novelty – they even try to trick you into thinking they’re an acceptable food with the whole “corn” ruse.  Candy corn is neither candy, nor corn – they are sugary crayon tips that never expire.  NEVER EXPIRE!!! Nothing immortal should be eaten!  Rocks.  Uranium.  Candy corn.  None should be eaten.

9.  Jello Salad  unnamed

You start with salad – lettuce, cucumbers, shredded carrots.  A good healthy choice.  You add lime jello – okay that’s a little weird, not the direction I would go in but people put fruit in jello so other produce isn’t too far fetched.  And you finish with a dollop of mayonnaise – what in the actual hell? No, just no.  How bad were your munchies when you decided to make this combination?  There are way too many contradicting elements in here. This plate of gross has an extra level of evil because you’re used to seeing jello with whipped cream.  Whipped cream looks like mayonnaise.  This is the work of Satan.

8. Fugu Fugu_sashimi

I love fish. Big seafood lover. But this stuff?  This is just stupid!  It’s pufferfish sushi.  Pufferfish are toxic.  Not like food poisoning toxic.  Not like allergic reaction toxic.  We’re talking, blood pressure dropping, paralysis inducing, heart stopping TOXIC!  It takes a sushi chef three years of training with this fish alone to know how to avoid the poisonous parts so you don’t drop $200 on a plate of “eat-me-and-die.”  Sure, they know what they’re doing.  Sure, I’d probably be fine.  But I’m almost 100% sure that my taco is not going to kill me.

7.  Mac n’ Cheetos mac-n-cheetos

This is what I saw as I drove around today and my only reaction was, “Why?”  First of all, don’t mess with Cheetos.  Whoever started their idea with, “You know what would make Cheetos even better?” should have had the lack of taste slapped out of their Cheeto hating Burger-hole before they could finish their thought. NOTHING.  The answer is NOTHING!  On the seventh day, God rested.  Then on the eighth he jumped right back into work and made Cheetos.  Who hollows out a Cheeto, stuffs it with macaroni and cheese (something else that needs no improvement), and then deep fries them?!!  Not since Burger King introduced that creepy king mascot have I cringed so hard as I drove by their “restaurant.”  Aw yeah, that’s right, this misstep has caused me to put quotes around the word restaurant.

6. Fried Beer tumblr_lifsiwN0w01qi2ijgo1_500

To the surprise of no one, these were born in Texas.  It’s like they thought, “How can we outdo George Dubya on our list of bad ideas?  I know let’s make some pretzel raviolis stuffed with some weird beer jelly crap!”  Fried beer.  FRIED.  BEER.  Deep fried beverage!  How bored do you need to be to figure out how to turn a drinkable liquid that’s bad for you into a chewable solid that’s worse for you?  Attention Charles Darwin: your theory has been disproved.  There is no way some of your “fittest” survived long enough to create these.

5. Grilled Cheese Burger  grilled_cheese_burger_friendlys

I love grilled cheese.  I love burgers.  But I love my arteries and I can almost hear their little Watership Down, terrified bunny screams that they would squeak out with every bite of this culinary bad idea.  Sandwiches are made WITH bread; sandwiches are not THE bread.  I can see how that can get confusing.

4.  Big n’ Cheesy MacAttack-746506

Total disclosure – this is not an actual picture of the McDonald’s Big n’ Cheesy.  It’s like McDonald’s wiped the memory of this atrocity from the world’s memory.  The actual burger came out near the turn of the century and consisted of a quadruple cheeseburger.  A new foam-lined, vaulted box needed to be created to accommodate this grease-ridden behemoth.  I admit that my coworkers and I were some of the first in line to grab these when they came out.  The bottom bun disintegrated, the first bite squished and a waterfall of grease poured out the back, most of us never took a second bite.  McBad McIdea.

3.  Luther Burger luther-burger-doughnut-burger-t.j.-mulligans

A reported favorite of legendary singer, Luther Vandross, it’s a simple bacon cheeseburger…with two Krispy Kreme donuts in lieu of a bun.  In some of its most basic forms it can still tip the scale at 1,500 calories.  You know what else is 1,500 calories?  The vast majority of what you’re supposed to consume in a given day.  You can’t use the “sum of its parts motto” with food.  Burger?  Yay.  Krispy Kremes?  Yay.  Together? Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep (that was the heart monitor). Unfortunately, Mr. Vandross passed away in a car accident before he could read my blog….Nah, just kidding.  It was complications from diabetes and hypertension.

2. Deep Fried Butter ht_fried_butter_jp_110811_wmain

Seriously?!!  SERIOUSLY?!!!  Sure, just about everyone likes butter.  But how many look at a stick of butter and think, “I’m just gonna chow down on this whole thing.”  That would taste ridiculously horrible.  But if we batter it and fry it in oil, all of a sudden it’s a fair ground delicacy!  You should NEVER eat a whole stick of butter.  Nor should you ever do anything to improve the taste of raw butter so that you CAN eat a whole stick of butter!

1.  Hot Brown hot-brown-tousey-house

I apologize to my family in Kentucky – I love you all dearly, I truly do, but this is the biggest pile of death inducing grossness ever compiled on one plate.  Do you know what it is?  It’s a turkey sandwich.  I kept this picture full sized so you can get a close look.  THAT is a turkey sandwich!  Can’t see it?  Move the tomato and the bacon and the BRICK OF CHEESE!  What kind of cheese?  DOESN’T MATTER!  IT’S A BRICK!  I’ve tried this – I hate tomatoes and I love cheese but I started eating the tomatoes just to kill the cheese flavor that was assaulting me!  There was so much cheese there was a layer of cheese grease floating to the surface and drowning everything.  It gets its name from its creation at the famous Brown Hotel but, if you’ve ever eaten it, you know the real reason why that is the perfect name for this innard-rotting concoction.

“Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” ~ Mark Twain

Top Ten Things I Miss From My 80s Childhood

I am totally stoked to relive my gnarly childhood memories.  Some of you lived through the 80s with me, some of you had children who did, and some of you, like my poor children, will never know the greatness of some of these radical things.  Let’s go back to before Michael Jackson and Madonna were heard on the Golden Oldies station and our favorite things weren’t described as “retro.”

10. Not Knowing How Technology Worked

Now the kids have more power in their phone than NASA had back then!  Virtual Reality, apps, 3D graphics, and tons and tons of other technological breakthroughs are hardly even acknowledged, let along gawked at.  Back when I was a little kid, the most rudimentary technological breakthroughs were mind-blowing!  The Speak n’ Spell – you would type in words and it would talk to you and correct your spelling and play word games with you. How did this work?  Simple.  Magic.  I had a Teddy Ruxpin bear and I put a cassette tape in his back and when his voice came on, his mouth started moving.  If another character was talking, his mouth didn’t move.  What kind of technology was this?  None!  Magic!  The little known Action Max game system had a gun that shot at your television when flashing targets popped up in the short VHS movie you were watching.  Hit the right target, system counter gives you a point; wrong target loses you a point.  Technology?  Nope.  It was friggin’ magic!  I miss not knowing that some 12-year-old zit-faced degenerate is sitting in his basement reeking of Funions while he codes in 0s and 1s until he creates the next Candy Crush garbage.  In my opinion, it was way cooler when you pulled the magic string on the back of your magic Mr. T doll and he magically told you that he “Pitied the fool.”

9.  School Picture Laser Background

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8. Ridiculously Aw(ful)esome Wrestling

Before the age of John Cena and a plethora of “normal” guys beating the crap out of each other in their underwear, things were REALLY awesome.  I remember watching wrestling back when it didn’t take itself so seriously.  They knew they were ridiculous and they embraced their ridiculousness!  There weren’t a bunch of John Smiths and Mike Joneses – there was Kamala the Ugandan Giant who was supposedly a cannibal and Ricky the Dragon Steamboat who spit fire before his matches.  Guys were “killed” and came back from the dead a month later.  There were head shaving matches.  There were AT LEAST two characters who defeated their opponents using black magic.  There were wrestling cops and robbers and mounties and vikings and clowns and dentists and plumbers and even a monk!  It was a weekly circus, boxing match, and soap opera rolled together with more cheese than the whole of Wisconsin!  I miss those old matches like Hulk Hogan misses steroids!

7.  Flavored Drinks that Most Likely Were Horrible for Us but Tasted Awesome

What happened to all of those amazingly original Kool-Aid flavors that made no sense? Mountain Berry Punch, Rainbow Punch, Purplesaurus Rex, Sharkleberry Fin (okay, that one tasted like ass, but I applaud the combination of fruit, aquatic life, and classic literature).  None of these flavors exist in nature and most likely did horrible things to our internal organs – I mean, Great Bludini changed from a red powder to a liquid that was almost a direct match for antifreeze – but I’m thinking the majority of our generation is still alive, right?  Couldn’t have been too bad!  And Kool-Aid wasn’t alone in this endeavor – let’s not forget about Hi-C and their insanely addictive Ecto Cooler to pair with the Ghostbuster movies and cartoon!  Oh the controversy that surrounds this radioactive green beverage is stuff of (nerdy) conspiracy theorists’ legends.  I’d get into all the theories and legends here…but I really don’t care.  I just remember I could suck down that juice by the gallon and leave myself unblinking for hours!  Best of all, because Ghostbusters is getting a reboot this summer, rumor has it Hi-C is bringing this diabetes inducing drink back in all of its neon citrus glory!

6.  Simple Video Games

Now, I’m not saying simple to suggest that they were easy.  Confession time: I have yet to defeat the original Super Mario Bros.  The original Castlevania was damn near impossible! When I say “simple,” I mean not every game needs to have graphics sharp enough to give us the ability to see the characters’ nose hairs.  Not every game needs enough “cut scenes” to make up a 3-hour movie with a script written by Academy Award winning screenplay writers.  And if you can play your game for an hour and still be going through tutorial levels, you might have made the controls a bit too complicated.  I miss the games where you plug it in, turn it on, see nothing, turn it off, unplug the game, blow in it, put it back in, turn it on, and start playing.  Two dimensional, one directional, coin collecting, bad guy destroying, princess saving, goodness.  They were tough enough to be challenging but I didn’t need to think.  I could mindlessly let my thumbs take over.  If I lost a life it was because I wasn’t fast enough or I didn’t jump far enough, not because I didn’t correctly decode the algorithm to defuse the chemical warhead.  Run, jump, shoot, repeat.  Oh, and to all of you Call of Duty punks out there – can you beat that game with only 3 tries?  Yeah – didn’t think so.  Booyah.

5.  Ice Cream Trucks

Where the hell did they go?!!  I remember that they would come by at least once a day in the summer and if there was some sort of carnival or festival, they parked nearby.  There was no sweeter sound than that cheerful music on a 90-degree day.  Kids and adults alike would fly out of their front doors and line up at the little window for a twisty cone or a sundae crunch bar.  You’d risk life and limb sprinting in front of a speeding bus to make it across the street and get a Push-Up.  Now, I’ve seen a few ice cream trucks in my adult life, but I can probably count them on one hand and one of them is a sno-cone truck which, yeah, there’s some satisfaction attainable from a sno-cone, but there is no comparison. Where are you Mister Softee?  Come back to us!

4. Holiday Specials

You knew when the holidays were coming because all of the commercials for holiday specials on television you didn’t want to miss!  Whether it was the “Charlie Brown Christmas Special”, the “Garfield Halloween”, or “The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town,” you marked your calendars and figured out how to stop your VCR from flashing 12:00 so that you could set it to record the momentous event.  Even if you’d seen the same specials year after year, you still tuned in.  Part of the fun of the Christmas specials was to see the commercials for the hot selling toys you were asking Santa for that year and the classic commercials like the Coca-Cola polar bears and the tear-jerking Folgers “Peter” commercial.  Any show worth its salt AT LEAST had a Christmas episode and some of the bigger cartoons, like Peanuts and Garfield, had a special for just about every major holiday. It filled you up with the holiday spirit and gave you the perfect background entertainment while you decorated your tree or colored your eggs or blocked out the thought of your Mom being elbow deep up a turkey’s butt.

3. Action Figures

“But wait,” you might be saying, “you can still get action figures today.”  You, in your long history of being wrong have never been wronger.  What they have today are some sort of collectable, overly stylized version of the action figures I remember.  Action figures are toys.  Toys are meant to be played with.  Playing with toys involves more than keeping the toy in a box on the shelf.  Playing with toys involves, well, playing with toys.  And if you’re planning on playing with action figures, there is most likely going to be an epic battle or two in the cards for your little plastic friends.  I was an action figure junkie: Masters of the Universe, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Karate Kid, A-Team, and the list goes on.  LOVED.  THEM.  And I was far from gentle with these little dudes – they tumbled down stairs, fell from high heights, got slammed, bashed, and beaten in every way imaginable by their peers.  The best part is most of them have seen battle recently at the hands of my son.  I’ve passed them on almost in the same condition as when I bought them!  Out of nostalgia, I bought a few of the updated, re-released Masters of the Universe figures when they tried to relaunch the series back in the early 2000s.  I gave one of these figures to my son and, minutes after taking it out of the box, he accidentally dropped it about two feet and the hand snapped off (the kung-fu grip hand, no less).  Most of the really cool looking figures out today aren’t meant to be played with…what kind of crappy toy is that?!!

2.  Breakfast Cereals

Besides the normal cereals that we still have around today like Frosted Flakes, Honey Smacks, and Capt’n Crunch (because screw the roof of your mouth) – there were tons and tons of cereals that showed your fandoms for all of your favorite characters, movies, and television shows.  Smurf Berry Crunch, C3POs, Nintendo Cereal (with a different flavor for Mario and Zelda in each box), Pac-Man, GI Joe, and even buff Mr. T wanted you to munch on his sugary T-shaped crunchy nuggets…okay, sorry, that sounded wrong.  And each of these cereals had a prize in the box, not a prize you could mail away for with a couple proofs of purchase and $9 of real money – no, sir – it was IN THE BOX!  And even the box itself had games and fun things on them!  The best part of having all of these cereals was eating them and drinking the newly flavored milk while watching…

1. Saturday Morning Cartoons

With stations dedicated solely to children’s programming, Saturday morning cartoons seem to have faded away.  This weekly tradition is easily the most missed thing from my childhood.  My footie pajamas, my ET lap tray, and a solid five hours of cartoons!  That was the life!  I am slowly collecting the box sets of these old cartoons so that I can relive those glorious weekends.  Now I just need some insanely sugary, marshmallow-laden cereals and a new set of footie pajamas…very big footie pajamas.

“I spent my whole childhood wishing I were older and now I’m spending my adulthood wishing I were younger.” ~ Ricky Schroder

Shell Shocked

I hope you all had a happy, sugar-laced Easter.  Personally, I was in heaven.  You give this man some lamb and chocolate coated marshmallow eggs and he is a happy camper.  Yeah, I said lamb – I’m that guy – bring it on PETA!  And that goes double for you marshmallow rights activists!

However, my favorite part of the holiday has to be the Easter Egg Hunt!  It has taken a huge turn since I became an adult, though.  One of the things I looked forward to the most as a child when I thought about growing up was being one of the egg hiders!  The annual egg hunts were always a big deal to my family.  We always had one with all the cousins at my grandmother’s house and all of our parents stuffed and hid a hundred little plastic eggs all over the place.  And these people were ruthless!  There were eggs in people’s pockets, up inside ceiling tiles, buried in houseplant dirt, and even once inside the purse of someone who left before the hunt was over!  But, oh how their tunes have changed now that we are no longer the little ones.  This weekend my cousin and I were discussing egg hiding strategies and these HYPOCRITICAL FORMER EASTER EGG HUNT BARBARIANS tell us to be nice because “they’re just little kids.”  So were we…so…were…we…  Sure, we may have used the words “drywall saw,” “long stick and duct tape,” and “drive around and make them chase you” but I’m still standing beside the fact that those would have all been AWESOME hiding places.

My parents also always took me to an egg hunt that was sponsored by a local men’s club that the whole town could go to.  This one was a wee bit more chaotic.  It was like all of the nice old grandpas who were members of this club wanted to give the local children a memorable holiday event but also wanted to relive all the fun they had storming the beach at Normandy.  These guys got up before the crack of dawn with bushels of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and a couple handfuls of classic plastic eggs wrapped in special foil and spread these treasures over a couple treacherous acres of muddy, swampy woods.  When the hunt was set to begin, they lined up all the children – about a hundred or so – on one end of a field across from the woods and running along side of a rocky embankment down to a frigid creek (these were the 80s, kids, before we worried about things like insurance and lawsuits – we weren’t pansies like you). They had also strewn a couple candy eggs around the field just far enough away for kids to be able to reach their top running speed before reaching the target. There weren’t enough for all of the kids, or even a tenth of the kids- just enough to cause a few really epic melees!

Then a booming voice came over the bullhorn and signaled us all to abandon all sense of self-preservation and run like hell into the fray in the hopes of finding a special egg so that you could trade it in for a genuine hollow milk chocolate bunny EXCLUSIVE to winners of this hunt (and anyone who shopped at any of the local grocery, drug, or five-and-dime stores).  The bush league kids ran straight for the decoy Reese’s Eggs in the middle of the field – diving across the wet grass and clunking their heads together in the hopes of being the first to the ten cents worth of chocolate. Some of the loose canons did kamikaze dives down the rocks into the icy creek – these kids were the nutbags in your classes in school; the ones who would show up on the first day in a cast on some part of their body and stories about the screws the doctors had to put in them over the summer.  The pros made a beeline for the woods; we knew how this worked.  The prize eggs wouldn’t be out in the open and they wouldn’t be gained by the easily distracted kids just looking for their sugar fix.  Nor would they be in the really treacherous areas like a craggy drop-off into a hyperthermia inducing mini-river. They would be in a rotted out log or a knothole in a tree or possibly at the mouth of a woodchuck den in a pile of leaves.  Oh yes, it would take a true egg hunting Rambo to find these coveted trinkets.

You find a couple Reese’s Eggs here and there – in a mud puddle, on a rock, uncomfortably close to a small pile of what looks like but probably isn’t Milk Duds – and you quickly eat them to gain sustenance for the long, arduous task ahead.  It was always cold and rainy and windy on the day of the hunt. The woods were dark and silent save for a snap of a twig, a scurry of a small woodland creature, or a wheezy puff of some asthmatic kid’s inhaler. You rub some mud on your face to camouflage yourself from your competitors.  You wander deeper and deeper into the woods.  How long have you been out here?  Hours? Days?  You check your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle digital watch and see that you’ve been at the mercy of nature’s harsh elements for almost twelve minutes…you are a true survivor.  You reach down and unwrap a Reese’s Egg – you take a small bite trying to ration it, you’ll need it to last.

Screw it.

You shove the whole thing into your face like the fat kid on Willy Wonka – modesty be damned, this is war and no force in Heaven or on Earth will deny you that peanut buttery goodness.

Finally, you see it – a glint of foil deep between the roots of an old evergreen.  You quickly check your surroundings making sure that there aren’t any egg hunt snipers waiting to see you make a move for the treasure just so they can swoop in and steal your bounty.  Your path is clear to the egg and you scouted a clear exit route back out of the woods.  You go for it – lunging at the coveted bauble (sure, you hit your head off the trunk of the tree- so what, small price to pay) and you turn and race out of the woods.  You race back across the open field past the concussed bodies of the candy fiends who have lost the Walmart version of the Hunger Games. You grab a neglected Reese’s Egg from the hand of an unconscious hunter and shove the whole thing, wrapper and all, into your mouth for a last burst of energy (and another step closer to giving yourself diabetes by noon) to make it across the footbridge. The bridge crosses the creek and you allow yourself a glance down to the creek bed where more unfortunate hunters are licking their wounds and congratulating each other on gnarly hang-times as they jumped off the rocks (you’re pretty sure you can see a bone sticking out of one of them). You make it back up to the pavilion and hold out your hand. A hush falls across the crowd. You are handed a boxed bunny. You nod your thanks to the head gamemaker and he nods his approval in return.

You tear open the box and pluck the little sugar eyes off the bunny’s smug face with your dirty, bloodied, frost bitten fingers and then bite off the ears to savor the sweet taste of victory…and diabetes.

“Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want.” ~ Ryan Gosling

Thank You, Little Bean

Great things come in small packages.  Never has a statement rang more true than when one looks at a coffee bean.  Truly, nature’s little superhero.

There is an old anecdote that teaches us about adversity.  Seeing that her daughter was having a hard time, a mother boiled three pots of water.  In the first pot she places a carrot, in the second an egg, and in the third coffee beans.  After a while she shows her daughter that when faced with the adversity of the hot water, the carrot turned soft and weak when it started off strong.  The egg was hardened by adversity.  But only the coffee beans changed the water to be more like itself.

So who are you like: the carrot, the egg, or the coffee beans?

Myself?  None.  I would be the one who would deal with the adversity after drinking pot number three.  Oh, sweet nectar of the gods!

Yeah, yeah, yeah – fables, lessons, morals – whatever, give me a good strong cup of joe and I’ll buy whatever you’re selling.  The fact is there is a lot of adversity in our daily lives and that magical little bean helps me face it head on!  How many mornings have I been able to conquer – how many challenges have I been able to face – how many lives of difficult people that I’ve needed to deal with too early in the day have been saved – all by that one amazing little bean?

I’d go so far as to say it is the most amazing thing that we consume!  Don’t believe me? Allow me to prove it to you with two really cool words: Kopi Luwak.  Also known as civet coffee.  Also known as cat poop coffee.  The coffee bean isn’t actually a bean; it is the pit of a cherry-like fruit.  Kopi Luwak is created when the Asian palm civet (which is a funky looking cat/rat/badger thing) eats the fruit, partially digests it, and poops out the coffee beans.  They are washed and sent out as one of the most expensive gourmet coffees in the world (it’ll cost you about $200 a pound).  It is one of the most sought after coffees!  Now what other food or drink would people hunt down and be willing to pay that much for after a cat crapped it out?!!  Would you do that for a taco or a bagel?  Oh hell no!

Coffee has been an obsession of mine since high school.  It’s what my friends and I used to do more than anything – go out and get coffee.  We knew where to go, where not to go, how to make it – we were connoisseurs of java.  We knew all about the lattes and the cappuccinos long before Starbucks became a world-wide staple.

Early in the morning there would be a bunch of little old men griping about the youths of today over their hot morning mugs and in the evening the youths of today would sit there grumbling about old people drinking the same drink.  If only we knew then what we know now maybe we could have found some common grounds…see what I did there?   Grounds…?

I remember one time a couple friends and I were spending the night over at one of our other friend’s houses and we wanted to pull an all-nighter.  We thought the only way to achieve this was to brew the strongest pot of coffee known to mankind.  How does one do that?  You brew a normal pot of coffee.  Then you brew a second pot of coffee, but instead of using water, you use the first pot of coffee.  Then you do it again.  And again…and again…

Our final pot was brewed with six previous pots.

Did you know caffeine had a taste?  Like the actual caffeine – kind of sour actually.  The coffee itself?  Horrible – godawful – a disgusting abomination of our beloved beverage.  Of course we drank the whole thing and quit blinking for most of the evening.  BUT we did manage to stay up all night.

Crashed like a meteor around noon the next day and felt like puking for a day past that…but that’s besides the point.

Then, in 1997, my life changed forever.  Yeah, it was the year I graduated and met my future wife…but besides that.  I went to Disney World for the first time.  It was a school trip, I was a senior, and I had my own debit card…party time.  I had a job so I had socked away quite a few paychecks leading up to the trip, plus my family had given me some spending cash because they rock.  I didn’t plan on spending extravagant amounts of money – a couple souvenirs here and there and something to bring home for my parents, sister, etc.  But then it happened…I saw it…this strange new term I had never seen before…

ICED COFFEE

How can this be?  Coffee is a hot drink.  Waitresses and waiters come to my table and ask me if I need a “warm up” when my cup is running low.  However, this is Florida – I’m hot – and I love coffee…

I took a sip and the angels sang.  I had epiphanies.  All my sins were forgiven.  I had become a man.

I would suck down a large glass of it and toss the cup of ice before I passed the next refreshment stand so that I could buy another one.  Over the three-day trip it was nearly the only thing I drank (with the exception of breakfast – I had hot coffee then; I’m not a savage).

I looked over my receipts from the trip on the bus ride home and realized that I spent over $150 on iced coffee in three days…I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but that may have been a bit excessive.

I have cut down on my addiction quite a bit (at it’s peak – while I was student teaching – I was drinking ten to twelve cups a day) and I usually enjoy a cup in the morning – maybe two on the weekends.  And I was fortunate to marry a fellow coffee enthusiast (met her the same year as I met iced coffee…coincidence?).  Luckily for me, she likes her coffee like she likes her men…lukewarm, pale, and weak.

“I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.” ~ T.S. Eliot

Like Shooting Crackers in a Barrel

When we were in college, my wife-to-be and I practically lived at our local Cracker Barrel. It bordered on addiction.  It may or may not have something to do with some massive weight gain during my college years, but I’m not one to point fingers, or jump to conclusions, or state the obvious.

It was a sad day when they shut it down – we both went through the DT’s.  We didn’t have one where we lived – it was a minimum two-hour round trip to eat at the closest one. Needless to say we haven’t partaken…partook?…partookened in the lardy loveliness that resides on the Cracker Barrel menu. And, like most things, you need to take a step back to really see things clearly – which is exactly what happened tonight, when we returned to the infamous Barrel o’ Crackers.

I remember one episode of That 70’s Show where the main characters thought they came up with the best ideas when they were in their weed smoking circle in the basement so they decided to record their next session so they could have a record of all the brilliant brainstorms they had and when they listened to the recording the next day when they were completely sober they heard a mash-up of the most incoherent rambling they could imagine.

This is how I picture Cracker Barrel coming into existence.  A bunch of stoners sitting around with a mega case of the munchies and they start bouncing ideas off each other.

“Hey man…you know…you know what would be cool, man…fried chicken…and mashed potatoes…and Beanie Babies…and a buttload of rocking chairs…”

“Yeah man, why can’t you buy Beanie Babies and rocking chairs at a restaurant?  Then you could sit on the rocking chair and play checkers with your Beanie Baby!”

“No way, dude, I’d be too stoned to see those little checkers…”

“Naw, man, not the little ones, our restaurant would have those big-ass checkers that are the size of your head!”

“Yeah, man!”

And there you have it!  The birth of Cracker Barrel!  Where else can you go and have a whole friend chicken, fried potatoes, an assortment of other fried vegetables, and apples…fried, of course (I didn’t even know you could fry an apple!)…and then while you pay your bill you can do all of your Christmas shopping for people who you marginally like.

We pulled into the parking lot, our car dwarfed by the huge sign beckoning to everyone from the highways traveling in every direction.  We walk toward the front door and pass by dozens of rocking chairs and it strikes me, how many people do you know who buy rocking chairs from Cracker Barrel?  It must be a hot seller – there are literally dozens of them.  I want to know the sales statistics – has the world’s leading rocking chair exporter been breading my chicken strips all these years without me knowing it?!!

We make our way to the hostess station and I nearly knock over a ceramic frog in a straw hat fishing in a birdbath.  We leave our names with the hostess and begin to browse the store while we wait for our table to be ready.  There is nowhere else in the world where you can stretch your arms out, spin around, and touch large scented jar candles, Confederate flag trucker hats, rubber band guns, greeting cards, singing animal heads, prayer beads, fart putty, ambiance music CDs, and a DVD full of classic Andy Griffith episodes.  If you mixed Alice in Wonderland with pure grain alcohol, you’d come up with the Cracker Barrel gift shop.

Then the quirky kitschiness doesn’t end when it comes time for your meal because you are seated underneath the most unsettling decor imaginable.  All sorts of old tools, signs, pictures, and various whatnot from days gone by are tacked on the walls.  I believe that whenever a new Cracker Barrel opens, an Amish family somewhere nearby gets robbed. Poor Jedediah Yoder goes out to his barn and finds it completely emptied out.

“Elizabeth!  We’ve been robbed!  The curséd English must have opened another Cracker Barrel!”

“Oh, Jedediah, we might as well pack up the children and move on because that will ruin our rocking chair business as well!”

***I apologize to any Amish people who are reading my blog***

And if your appetite isn’t set off by having an axe and sickle hanging over your head, the photos on the wall might do the trick:

These are the kinds of photographs that steal your soul if you stare at them too long. They’re from the days when families dressed up dead relatives like they are still alive and pose with them and you never really know which ones they were because NO ONE smiled in those pictures!  Think about that the next time you’re munching on your okra!

Once we finished our meal, I went to pay (after I bought my younger son a beanie baby and my older son a couple packs of squishy zombies…no joke) and my Cracker Barrel experience ended the only way that it could – I was asked by our cashier if I would be interested in buying a 5-pound box of Jelly Bellies.

Not gonna lie…I thought about it longer than I should have.

“Always remember you are absolutely unique.  Just like everyone else.” ~ Margaret Mead

Paper or Plastic?

The dreaded grocery shopping trip.  It’s inevitable – we all have to do it.  My father has always been one of the bravest, toughest guys I know – but he will drop into the fetal position and shiver like a chihuahua if you take him to the supermarket.  Every time I go I try to soften the blow by making it a game – I try to see how quickly I can get out of there which is stupid because I always seem to break my record for the slowest trip every flippin’ time!  Tonight I was trying to get out of there within an hour.

The set up of the store alone is mind boggling.  They have everything sectioned off perfectly but then they get all these “special” bins and put them on the ends of aisles, in the middle of aisles, and everywhere else possible.  The worst culprit is the produce section.  Crates and shelves and bins all snuggled up so two carts can’t fit through at the same time.  Then some devious mastermind decided that you have to package and label your own produce and spread the rolls of bags everywhere but only supply you with a handful of labeling stations (most of which are out of labels) which forces you to zigzag through the section fighting your way to the labels like some twisted event from “American Gladiators.”

Seeing as though we’re trying to eat healthier, my next stop is Nature’s Marketplace, or as I have come to affectionately refer to it, The Devil’s Butthole.  Most of the things in this section could easily be mixed into the other aisles of the store thus eliminating the need for this section altogether.  But no – hippie food doesn’t play well with the other food. Ironic that the place that sells “Coexist” coffee mugs and “Namaste” yoga mats is against inclusion. Thanks to the beauty of technology, I can look up the location of anything on my list with the use of my iPhone…unless that item is in the Nature’s Marketplace, in which case it just tells you it’s in the Nature’s Marketplace.  Somewhere hidden in the eight aisles is the one obscure, nondescript item you need.  They might as well just put “Good luck, sucker” next to the picture of the item.  I needed coconut oil (you use it when you have a creaky coconut) so I looked by the coconut – weird, I know, why would it be there – and I found shredded coconut, flaked coconut, finely ground coconut, coconut butter, and condensed coconut milk…no coconut oil.  I went to where they kept the coconut milk; I found almond flavored coconut milk and coconut flavored almond milk (no joke) but no coconut oil.  I wandered aimlessly for way too long and finally found it…by the organic salad dressing.  Of course.  One good thing is, I had a chance to find all sorts of interesting new products that I probably will never try.  This section of my blog post was brought to you by Skeeters: the official cookie of neutered squirrels.

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After I escape that department, I fight my way through the rest of the store eliminating item after item from my list.  Trying to squeeze my way through people who instead of shopping seem to be having meetings and reunions with shopping carts.  I get it, you see someone you know, you say hello and chitchat for a bit.  But then you move on.  And for the love of all things holy, move to one side so people can get by!  And set a cap to the number of people in your conversation – it seems like instead of getting snacks for their party, the “Johnsons” decided to just have their family reunion in the chip aisle tonight!

After I drop my last item into my cart, I slowly make my way to the checkout lanes (slowly because I’m behind what must have been a retirement home parade) and I find the shortest lane – I only have four people in front of me.  Every couple minutes, the light would start blinking and a manager would come over and fix something.  I see the other lanes moving faster, but I KNOW as soon as I change lanes this one would start going faster – it’s the Murphy’s Law of the grocery store – so I stick to my guns and I don’t move.

I should have moved.

After nearly 20 minutes, I make my way to the front of the line.  The cashier is extremely nice – I cannot say a bad thing about them…but this may not have been the best move by the managers.  Occasionally, there will be little challenges for the cashiers to work on – this time it seems they were trying to improve their personal check-out times.  They all had goals as to how many items they scan in a minute.  My cashier’s goal?  The bar that was set for them to strive for?  A number that was meant to be the challenge?  13.

Thir.  Teen.

Play this game with me.  Pick something up.  Anything.  Now pick an imaginary point on your table that will be your scanner.  Now move the item past your “scanner” but be sure your item does not get from point “A” to point “B” before your clock ticks off five seconds.

That’s what we’re averaging here, folks.  Five seconds per beep.

When I finally pulled back into my driveway I checked the clock.  My hour target?  So close.  I only missed it by 70 minutes.

“Ever consider what pets must think of us?  I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul – chicken, pork, half a cow.  They must think we’re the greatest hunters on earth!” ~ Anne Tyler

If You Are What You Eat, We Must Have Eaten Dumb

Let me start off by saying I have very intelligent friends.  When we gather around a table together there are multiple Masters degrees.  There are teachers, heads of college departments, military specialists, and the most formidable force for any trivia competition.  However, there’s something wrong with our chemistry – when we get together, the stupidity seems to emanate from every fiber of our collective being.  Especially when it comes to food.

It all started one day when my family and I went out to eat at a Quaker Steak & Lube and read about their “Atomic Wing Challenge.”  These wings are supposed to be so hot that you need to sign a waiver before they will serve them to you.  Now, I don’t know where you are from, dear reader, but unless you are from the same part of the country that I am, respectfully, you don’t know real buffalo wings.  We’ve eaten the buffalo wings from the place where buffalo wings became buffalo wings.  There is no way we can let this restaurant (which didn’t start anywhere near Buffalo) tell us their wings are “challenging.”  So on our way out of the restaurant I bought a bottle of their Atomic Sauce and rallied the troops.

At one point in my life, I worked in a pizzeria so I know my way around some wings, therefore I worked my magic and whipped up a couple batches of Atomic wings.  Sure the bottle said “add a few drops to any recipe” and sure I added half of the bottle…but I figured it was okay to round up.

We each had six wings (and a buttload of celery) that was it – no biggie.  The plan was to muscle through those six wings as quickly as possible and then just “man up” and handle the heat.  The plan worked perfectly for a while.  The first wing was very tasty (I make damn good wings, by the way).  The second wing was equally delicious.  The third wing introduced a tingle in the back of the throat.  Wing four went from tingle to flat out fire.  Wing number five killed the sense of smell and got the eyes pouring tears.  The final wing made us understand why there was a waiver to eat these things.  But at my house, there are no waivers.  There was just a bunch of chicken, hot sauce, and dumbasses!  And PAIN!  Let’s not forget the copious amounts of PAIN!  Grown men were crying, coughing, guzzling anything liquid (nothing helps, by the way – water, milk, pop, beer, tears…nothing), and eating celery with reckless abandon.  Our voices were high pitched and whiny like teenage female hyenas sucking helium at a Bieber concert.

The pain (and ridiculously unmanly behavior) continued for a solid half an hour before it became manageable.  I wiped the tears from my eyes.  Do you remember the part where I said I washed my hands before wiping my eyes?  No?  Because I didn’t…and that hurt way worse.

You’d think that we would have learned our lesson after that…wait, if you’ve read any of my other posts, you probably know better than to think that.  We all had gathered to hang out once again and we brought up our favorite topic again…food.  We brought up another staple in our diet – Texas Hots.  For those of you who are unfamiliar: take a hot dog, add mustard, onions, and a spicy brown gravy and you’ve got yourself a Texas Hot.  We were in agreement that we could take down obscene amounts of those dogs.  I opened my big, fat (finally extinguished) mouth and said I could easily get through a dozen of them.  One of my friends (who was intelligent up until this point) matched my challenge without batting an eye.  My wife, who is a vegetarian, decided that an order of chips and salsa from a Mexican restaurant was more her speed…you know, the large bowl they bring for a party of  five or six people.  Another formerly smart friend of ours decided he could easily satisfy his sweet tooth on six packages of marshmallow Peeps (a dozen bunny Peeps per box – yup, half a gross of sugar coated sugar).  Another compatriot decided he would eat an order of sushi, a bowl of popcorn, and a quart of milk.

***Okay, to this day none of us think that his quantity was comparable, but he certainly got the “What the Hell Made You Think of THAT Combo” Award***

Finally, I talked about our escapades at work the next day and I gained the interest of one of my coworkers who swore she could single handedly conquer a dozen glazed doughnuts.

The food was ordered, the places were set, the guests had arrived, and we dug in.  The first couple hot dogs, chips, Peeps, and doughnuts went down easily.  Surprisingly, my hot dog partner (well, THAT sounds dirty) was the first one to finish, followed shortly thereafter by sushi/popcorn/milk guy (seriously, eew).  Right around my halfway point, we started to worry about our sugary duo.  My friend with the Peeps had quickly downed about two packages and my coworker was halfway through her third doughnut when they both started getting jittery and speaking to each other a mile per minute.  “DO YOU FEEL WEIRD I FEEL WEIRD IS IT SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE THIS I’M ALL SHAKEY AND MY STOMACH HURTS AND I WANT MORE BUT I THINK I’M GOING TO THROW UP AND AND AND AND AND…”  We actually had to Google: “can you get diabetes in one sitting” for them – it was a legitimate concern for them (as was passing cars, fluorescent lights, specks of dust, and the sound of their own jittery breathing).  Our doughnut eater tapped out shortly after that and the Peep challenge ended after three packages.  My wife was feeling “no muy bueno” with her “salsa grande” after only polishing off one of her two 32oz containers.  As for me, I finished my dozen dogs as my quicker counterpart sat next to me complaining about chest pains…probably indigestion…probably.  We immediately agreed that this was a stupid challenge and we all hated ourselves (and each other) a little bit for even agreeing to attempt this asinine dinner.

The next day I went to work feeling like absolute garbage.  My stomach hurt, my head hurt, my mouth tasted like funky lint (as opposed to all of the tasty lint out there).  The strangest thing was, all I could smell was onions.  Everywhere I went: onions.  In my classroom, in the hallways, in the office…it must be me!  I tried gum.  I still smelled onions.  I brushed my teeth.  Onions.  And then it hit me – it was coming out of my pores!  I WAS SWEATING TEXAS HOTS!!!

So that was it – one case of “dolor del estómago,” two cases of lighting diabetes (one of which was paired with a tongue that was dyed neon pink for a few days), a minor cardiac arrest, a full-out onion detox, and…well…whatever you get by combining sushi, popcorn, and milk – we swore to never, ever, EVER do something that stupid again…until we heard about the Quaker Steak & Lube TRIPLE Atomic Challenge…

Yes, we did.  Yes, it turned out as badly as you’d imagine.

Buon appetite!

“When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut into four or eight slices, I said, ‘Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.'” ~ Yogi Berra

Feel the Burn

I’m not fat.  I can’t be.  All my life I’ve been told that, so it must be true.  Oh sure, I’m something, but it’s not fat.  When I went shopping for school clothes as a child, Mom took me into the “husky boys” section. That went well in school; when other kids (who were wicked jealous of my pleated pants) called me “fat,” I quickly fired back, “I’m not fat, I’m husky.”  That promptly earned me a husky lip.

So, I’m not fat!  I’m husky, or overweight, or plump, or big boned, or extra-healthy, or horizontally tall – I’m anything but fat!  I am dedicating a lot more time and effort to my health lately – not too long ago I had quite the health scare.  I’d tell you about it now, but I could probably stretch that into a couple more blog posts, so you’ll have to wait.  I’m eating much healthier and I recently began working on my black belt in karate; true I’m a white belt, but technically I’m working on my black belt (journey of a thousand miles and whatnot).  However, up until my near death experience (see how I keep making that future blog post sound more enticing?  I’m keeping y’all hooked!) my dietary regiments were pretty much all the same – I’ll live off of Triscuits and air for about a day and half, hit the treadmill once for an obscene amount of time, then treat myself to a carton of Crisco and my favorite spoon.

There was one time in my life when I was in awesome shape – my freshman year of college – right after my super-powered high school metabolism was still engaged and I got in beastly shape to portray a very physical role on stage.  I was eating protein like I had a personal vendetta against all farm animals and I was hitting the gym daily.  I was well on my way to defined abs (not a six-pack, but I had that super sweet line cut down the middle…a two-pack?) and my legs were made of iron; I even won a bet with my buddies when I put up 800 pounds on the leg press…sure I screamed like a 3-year-old girl being chased by a shark and I couldn’t walk for 2 days, but I got twenty bucks so who’s laughing now?!  BOOYAH!

Fast forward to my college graduation and my two-pack turned notoriously B.I.G. (see what I did there?) after my metabolism and I started a relationship akin to that of the Miley Cyrus and virginity.  If there was one thing I learned from being husky, to being in shape, then to being not-fat again is this: Mother Nature is the best friend you can have – if she’s not with you, getting is shape is going to suck!  You hear all these fit folks telling people how important it is to be healthy – “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” – shut up!  I just fell off the treadmill and I’m a second away from eating you!  The first dude who won “Biggest Loser” dropped over a hundred pounds and then he springboarded right back to where he started!  You know why?  Because just about EVERYTHING tastes better than rice cakes!  He WAS thinner, so he knows how good it feels, and he probably would tell you that nothing tastes good enough to replace that feeling except HIS MOUTH IS FULL!  I’m sure being thin feels great, but getting there sucks like a Hoover vacuum factory!  Health food tastes horrible and exercise does not feel good.  Eating and comfort = bad and gagging and pain = good?  What kind of messed up math is that?!!  And the math is only one-third of the problem with fitness.

Besides the food and the exercise, the math of non-fatness makes no sense at all.  If you want to lose weight, you need to eat less.  But if you eat too much less your body will rebel and you will actually gain weight.  Wait, what?  My body is rejecting being healthy?  It doesn’t WANT me to do this?  I’m mutinying MYSELF?  If you want to lose weight make sure you don’t gain too much muscle because that weighs more than fat.  So if I want to weigh less I need to be more fatty and less muscular?  Isn’t that what I was trying to do originally? “I can’t lose the last 5, 10, 20 pounds because my body has plateaued.  It just got used to what I was doing so I need to push harder.” Hold the phone!  You spent 30 years conforming to your couch and shoveling chips into your head and after 6 months of eating right and working out, your body has gotten used to it?!!  And now you have to eat healthierER and work out moreER?  So your original healthy eating and exercise is your body’s new unhealthy norm?  How busted are you?  Why am I working so hard to go against what my body wants to do naturally?  Everything that the experts say to do gets answered, in one way or another by my body with an, “Oh yeah?  That’s what you think!”  Just because your scale is weeping less every time you step on it does not mean you are looking any better.  Back to the “Biggest Loser” folks – check out those big dudes who are dropping 15-20 pounds a week!  Yeah, sure, their hearts are getting stronger and their blood work will earn them an “Atta boy” from their doctor and a Muppets bandaid on the way out the door.  But their body looks like it’s melting!  Their fat kept everything in place and now their nipples are tucked in their pockets!  How is THAT better?  With their ta-tas hanging down to their stomachs and their navel stretching out, their torso is resembling the mask the killer wore in Scream and their gut looks just as awestruck as the rest of us staring at the Michelin Man doing an end zone dance and crying in his wheat germ because he’s back to using the factory installed holes on his belt!

Wheat germ?  Sounds like something that gives farmers the flu!  Why do the fitness folks tell us, “Don’t eat anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce” but then give us choices of foods we’ve never heard of before?  Have you ever eaten a slice of Ezekiel bread?  I have – although eaten is a misnomer because it gives you the impression that the bread has made it down my throat – and let me tell you, it was an experience.  If I made a sandwich with white bread, I would be consuming multidextrose.  A) I can pronounce MUL-TI-DEX-TROSE and B) being a literate person, I can break the word down and engage my prior knowledge to know that the “trose” has something to do with sugar.  However, Ezekiel bread contains Organically Sprouted Millets.  WHAT THE HELL IS A MILLET?!!  Is that like a small mullet?  It also contains “fresh yeast” – well that’s a relief.  Because you know what happens when yeast becomes NOT fresh, right?  IT MAKES BREAD!  My breakfast included Ezekiel’s multigrain formula, but it also comes in a HEMP variety!  Like WEED!  Like gives you the munchies and causes you to eat more bread!  What a racket.  Every time I hear the name Ezekiel, I automatically think about Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction quoting the Bible verse.  Which is fitting because I kept hoping he would walking in and “lay his vengeance upon me” and bust a cap in me to save me from consuming any more bread!  This Ezekiel bread company has done just about as much good for the Bible as the Westboro Baptist Church.  No kind and loving God had a hand in creating this bread – this is the work of the Devil if I’ve ever seen it!  Charlie Daniels needs to update his song:

The Devil went down to Georgia
And he was looking to make some bread
It’s gonna look real old and taste like mold
And be heavier than lead.
[fiddle solo]

That brings us to exercise.  The only people who enjoy exercise are pathological liars.  People enjoy the RESULTS of exercise, sure…but the process?  My friend put it best, “I have come to this realization – Working out is stupid. It doesn’t make you feel better (just the opposite), and very unlike other things that are enjoyable, I want the session to be over the second I start. You know what feels good, workout freaks? Doughnuts – Preferably from Tim Horton’s, still warm, and covered in chocolate goodness.”  I agree!  Exercise ALWAYS seems like a great idea UNTIL you actually start doing it!  I’m all gung-ho to hit the treadmill for a solid hour until I’ve been walking for about a minute and a half.  I’ve learned that I hate sweating.  I’ve learned no amount of prayer can bend time and make the treadmill clock move faster.  I’ve learned that having blisters would have made Cary Elwes’ character’s decision to hack off his own foot in Saw much easier.  I’ve learned that no matter how much it feels otherwise, I don’t think my heart will actually explode, it will just make me keep wishing for a visit from Samuel L. Jackson.  I’ve learned that exercising until a man’s body is attractive to women will back fire once they approach and find out the top half now smells much like the bottom half.  Most of all, I’ve learned that all of the people who are older than me who say, “back in the day” no one needed to exercise because they HAD to walk everywhere are full of it.  That doesn’t make you profound, it makes you old!  Telling me that “back in the day” people spent more time outside instead of rotting behind their computers typing about nothing important doesn’t…okay, you might have something there.  I’m off to hit the gym, cry in the shower, and then order some Buffalo wings.

“I tried every diet in the book.  I tried some that weren’t in the book.  I tried eating the book.  It tasted better than most of the diets.” ~ Dolly Parton

Let’s Get This Party Started!

Hi!  Wow, so this is blogging…neat.

Well another year has come and gone and I’m sitting here in brand, spanking new 2016.  And, for once, I am going to try some new stuff – listening to other people’s advice and spending more time doing something that I love.

I also tried frog legs for the first time today, but that’s a whole different story.  Didn’t hate them – just had a hard time getting past the fact that, even breaded, you could still make them hop.

But I digress.  For years I have posted my little observations and anecdotes about things that happen to me or around me on Facebook.  I don’t think I have a unique perspective on things or that I’m some sort of gifted artist who sees all the creative potential in everything I observe around me – I think, basically, my mind is slightly warped and I pay closer attention to the weird crap that seems to happen to me!  It also helps that there is no shortage of satirical fodder from the quirky area I live in.  Therefore, I live, I observe, and I report – like a mall security guard without the nifty Segway.

Many people have left comments on my posts that I should write a book or start a blog.  So I did.  And, YES, I’ve started a blog before and, YES, I abandoned it after I created ONE POST and, YES, I can actually hear some of your voices reminding me of that.  But I am a different man than I once was!  This time I am definitely keeping up with this plan!  Guaranteed!  Most likely.  Probably.  Definite possibility…there is a good chance this will be my last entry.

However, I love to write.  So why not make that my New Year’s Resolution?  It’s better than my yearly vow to quit smoking (and for those of you who don’t know me, I don’t smoke – I just don’t want to fail at my resolution, as long as I don’t start, I’m golden).  So that is my goal for 2016 – write more thoughts, create more laughter.

I should probably keep trying to get into better shape, too – deep fried Kermit probably didn’t help with that…

But I digress again – which will most likely be happening A LOT.  But, that’s just how my mind works, which could really make this blogging thing kinda fun!

So here is my official 2016 New Year’s decree: I PROMISE to TRY to update this regularly – even if it’s just to put up a fun little quote – so that I can help lift the spirits and lower the stress of myself and anyone who happens to stumble upon my ramblings.  So help me God.   Forever and ever.  This I swear by the stars.  Amen.

Happy New Year.

“If Heaven exists, to know that there’s laughter that would be a great thing.” ~ Robin Williams