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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Say Cheese…PLEASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

There Goes My Career As A Lumberjack

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

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

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

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

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

Did you know there was a difference between this:

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And this?

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

Ugh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RETURN THESE SOCKS! I REFUSE TO GROW UP!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pining For You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shopping…

I want you to read my title through gritted teeth in a manner that would make Yosemite Sam proud.

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Every year I look forward to making my list of what treasures I will be hunting down for my loved ones. Every year I look through the ads and prepare my battle plan for how to most efficiently navigate the consumer world and cross off all the items on my list. Every year I honestly forget how much I hate shopping. It is never an easy experience no matter where I go!
Where I live, our options are extremely limited. We have a “mall” – I put quotes around it because it is technically a mall for all intents and purposes, however if you need to buy something besides women’s clothes, you’re going to have a bad day.

One day my father told me I needed new clothes and I should go to Sears. I told him I’ve been there and they don’t have anything for me. He refused to believe me. Now, my dad is a wise man (and a wise guy, but that’s a whole separate issue) and most of the time when he draws a line in the sand between what he thinks and what I think, he’s going to win, I’m just too stubborn to concede (much like certain skeevy Alabama Senate candidates – you lost, move on).  However, in this case, I was right.  He tried to surprise me with a Dad/Son bonding shopping trip and he took me to Sears – he was even going to pay.  However, all the work shirts that were not horrendous looking, I already owned.  That’s right.  I collected all the shirts.  Why don’t I buy new clothes?  I have them all.  The important thing is, I will always remember my father saying, “Huh.  They really don’t have much, do they?”

You’d think with Sears/K-Mart in such dire straights, they’d really try to beef up their “A” game!  But it seems like they’re just taking their downward spiral with as much “meh” as they can muster.  Our K-Mart is no better.  I won’t delve into my whole Croc-worthy loathing of stores that end with “Mart,” but it’s pretty biblical.  However, once in a great, long while I need to venture into a “Mart” for something quick.  The last time I Marted, my purchases and I were greeted by no registers.  None.  All lights off.  I looked up at the service desk…no one was there.  I looked at the jewelry counter; nada.  Well, this sort of narrowed my options down significantly – the only other time I was in a situation like this I was buying produce off of a wooden cart on the side of the road; so I looked around for a coffee can to leave my money in.  They didn’t have that either.  I even pathetically started calling, “Hello?” out into the store.  My mind started racing, had I even seen anyone else in here?  Are they even open?  Isn’t this how Dawn of the Dead started?  Finally, someone came sauntering by and was not going to acknowledge me, but I got his attention and he hit the nail right on the head first try: “You need to check out?”  I thought it was a normal part of the shopping process, but apparently I’m not as versed in the world of retail as I thought I was.

Then someone told me of a mystical place of shopping fantasies…Kohl’s.  We don’t have one, so we loaded up our car one year (back when we were a single child household) and drove the hour necessary to do our holiday shopping at this merchandise mecca.  It took me mere moments to have an epiphany…I hate Kohl’s.

I KNOW, I KNOW!  That is an offense punishable by public stoning – or at least a pretty firm noodle whipping.  But I can’t help it!  We started by strapping our small child to the front of the shopping cart.  Sure, it follows the same concept of a stroller, except you’re in a store, not going for a leisurely stroll.  If you run into anything or anyone, you’re leading the charge with your child’s face!  Second, I quickly noticed how much stuff they had!  Lots of selections, yes, but everything was so close together we had trouble maneuvering our cart through the racks and shelves and, oh yeah, we kept hitting all these things WITH OUR CHILD’S FACE!  After we spent an hour in there looking for a pair of gloves and a sweater (averaging 30 minutes per item is definitely not going to catch the attention of the people at Guinness) it was time to check out.  Unlike K-Mart, ALL of their registers were open!  Now I was impressed!  There were so many lines open that they each only had ONE customer in them!!!  YAY KOHL’S!  Oh wait, there’s a pre-line line.  We had to wait in a line, until a line opened up and then the first person in the pre-line line was ushered to the first open register.  So instead of being second in one of the checkouts, we were sixth in line and had to wait for five other people to be the only people in one checkout lane before we could be the first ones in a checkout line…confused?  Good.  I’ve been trying to wrap my head around that one for years too!  The cashier asked me if I wanted to apply for a Kohl’s card; I took a deep breath and as calmly and sincerely as I possible could I said I probably wouldn’t be coming back.  My son agreed, or at least I think that’s what he said, his voice was kind of muffled with his face pressed against the checkout counter.

“Yeah. And you know? I think I learned something today, it doesn’t matter if you’re Christian or Jewish or Atheist or Hindu. Christmas still is about one very important thing:”
“Yeah, ham.” ~ South Park: The Spirit of Christmas

There’s Always That One Person On Your List

We all have one – the person who always has you straining your brain to figure out what you can get them for Christmas.  For me it’s my grandmother.  I’ve posted about her before, but, long story short, she’s a feisty 91-year-old Italian who has a very sharp wit and a solid hand to smack you with if you are not fast enough to dodge her (which, believe me, you’re not).  I love her dearly but, God help me, that lady is tough to shop for.

For one thing, she’s not an “old lady.”  She doesn’t sit around and knit.  She doesn’t have dozens of cats.  She won’t be excited if you send her a care package of prunes.  She’s a one-of-a-kind who still plays on the floor with her great grandkids, dances around the kitchen (usually after a couple two-finger shots of liquor), and can fluently cuss you out in three languages (English, Italian, and her own brand of gibberish).

For another thing, she’s the queen of regifting.  Except she’s savage about it.  A) She won’t usually wait until the following Christmas to regift it and B) She regifts it back to the person who gave it to her.  Seriously, I have a set of Christmas dishes in my possession that my mother gave me…after my grandmother gave them to her…after my mother gave them to my grandmother.  If my mom didn’t read this blog (hi, Mommy) I’d probably wait a couple more years and give them back to my mother wrapped like they were brand new.  Do you see the sacrifices I make just to entertain you guys?  You’re welcome.

She’s a little gentler with her grandkids.  She usually returns our gifts to us and makes it sound like it’s for our benefit.  She is ALWAYS cold (and enjoys proving it by putting her arctic hands on your neck when you least expect it) so I thought she would like some super warm winter pajamas.  I hinted around the subject around Thanksgiving and she admitted to always wanting a set of the footed pajamas.  Huzzah!  I was finally going to successfully buy her something cool for Christmas.  Long story short (again), I ended up buying her three sets.  The first one freaked her out because of the “access panel” in the back.  “What the hell is this?  My culo hangs out.”  The second one was too big.  The third one was probably also too big but she gave it to me with the subtle message to stop exchanging it, “I’m too old for this – give it to your wife, she might like it.  It’s nice and soft and warm.”

My wife is 5’7″.  My grandmother is 4’9″.  She was just trying to get rid of it and let me down easily.

She even gave me back gift cards!  She loves to go out to eat – her favorite is Red Lobster.  And her favorite person to go with is my oldest son – they’re seafood junkies.  So I gave her gift cards and told her take him out for a  feast; just the two of them.  A couple months go by and she gives them back to me (multiple cards from several different gift giving occasions) and told me take my family out on her.  Though, it’s not really on her…I bought the cards…the meal is still on me, there just happens to be a couple more middle men involved in this transaction.  The real kicker is, a short while later she decided to take my son out to lunch and asked for her cards back.  So I guess I’ll count that as a win…or at least a solid tie.

So, I don’t know what you do for your tough-to-shop-for person, but for mine, I stick to the three Bs.  Books (mysteries – the seedier and more violent the better; don’t waste her time with jewel heists, she wants cold blooded murder), brain teasers (puzzle books that keep her up well into the wee hours of the morning), and booze (because…well…she really likes liquor).

“Wings, Mr. Santy Claus, I need new wings.  Not fancy wings, just plain-jane, low-rent, barely-bent, home-grown, bare-bone, off-the-shelf, two-part, Kmart, no-frills flappers.  They would be an improvement over my own.  As your records should show, I am a bird.  Specifically, a penguin, an embarrassing accident of birth for which I do not blame my mother.  I prefer to blame Congress.” ~ A Wish For Wings That Work

TOP TEN HOTTEST TOYS OF 2017 (THAT MIGHT NOT BE ALL THEY’RE CRACKED UP TO BE)

Toys have changed from when my generation was writing letters to Santa. Video games were just getting started, Saturday morning cartoons made action figures and dolls rulers of kids’ Christmas lists.  Nowadays… well… kids are weird and the toys reflect the weirdness.  There used to be Barbies – now there are scrawny teen monster high school girls.  There used to be GI Joes – now there are little weird rubber pieces of trash (I’m not being cynical – the Trash Pack and Grossery Gang toys are literally characters modeled after garbage).  But one thing that never changes: every year there are toys parents rush to the stores for and channel their inner William Wallace as they battle for these hot holiday commodities.  Cabbage Patch Kids, Nintendo Entertainment Systems, Tickle Me Elmos, Furbies… but this year, I don’t know.  I don’t foresee myself risking life and limb for these things.

#10 – THUMB CHUCKS

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One excited reviewer said this could be the next fidget spinner.  Oh can it, please?  Because nothing calms a fidgety child like toys that never stop moving.  Fidget spinners and fidget cubes do nothing to calm a fidgety child – you might as well give them drumsticks and Jolt cola!  Now they create this little doodad, that looks like someone neutered Tigger, and connect two little clackers together with a piece of fabric thus making it easier for these little “zen masters” to whap each other in the head with their calming tool.  Next they’ll come out with air horns with strobe lights to help children with anxiety issues.

#9 – MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES “THOR” MJOLNIR ELECTRONIC HAMMER

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This impressive looking bit of Nordic weaponry has a retail price of $100.  Why?  Because it is a solid 5-pound plastic sledgehammer with a die cast metal handle.  If you are a parent, there is no way you should ever buy this for your child.  Can you imagine your insurance premiums skyrocketing by Valentine’s Day?!!  You’d have to have a concussion protocol at the dinner table!  However, if you are an aunt or an uncle of multiple children, buy it for just one and then just wait and watch the chaos you have created.

#8 – SKY VIPER V2400 HD STREAMING DRONE WITH FPV HEADSET

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This drone is top of the line with ease of control, stealth motors, and the capability of streaming live HD video from built in cameras.  Recommended for ages 12+.  Now, if you were buying this for me, I’d think you were awesome!  This is a cool gadget with all sorts of bells and whistles.  However, stealthy aircrafts with high definition spy cameras in the hands of a pubescent boy (or Alabama senate candidates) is probably not the most comforting thought for your neighbors.

#7 – OONIES MEGA STARTER PACK

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“Oonies are the coolest way to create! Take an Oonies pellet, place it in the inflator and watch it magically grow into an Oonie! No glue. No water, no mess. Just air filled balls of amazing fun!”  Seriously?  C’mon people, they’re called balloons!  You’re telling me you’re going to drop $65 on the starter kit for an air pump, mini balloons, and glue dots?!  Tell you what, just give me $65 and you won’t have to have this hunk of plastic and countless deflated oonie creatures laying around your house after your kids get tired of this toy after a day and a half.

#6 – SHOPKINS BUBBLEISHA

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For all your little girls who love shopkins, there is now Bubbleisha, the girl who shops for Shopkins.  A Shopkins shopper?!  Can we just call it a day and admit the toy companies are officially out of ideas?  First you bought thousands of these little rubbery do-nothings (how does one actually play with a minescule purse with a face?) and now you have to buy this doll, who in all actuality is the epitome of irony because you are essentially buying a version of yourself because this doll likes to buy thousands of these little rubbery do-nothings that you have already bought.  How meta is that?!!

#5 – L.O.L. SURPRISE FIZZ FACTORY

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Actual Product Description: Make Fizz balls again and again with the L.O.L. Surprise Fizz Factory! Mix ingredients, include any surprise, add glitter and then press into a surprise Fizz ball! Surprise your friends again and again with endless surprise Fizz balls! L.O.L. Surprise Fizz Factory includes everything you need to make your own Surprise Fizz!  Plus, you can make endless Surprise Fizz balls with household ingredients!

I’m going to ignore the fact that the description said “Fizz Balls” way too many times for me to be comfortable and just move on to my confusion.  Fizz Balls have charms in the middle of this dissolvable thingy.  The Fizz Factory gives you what you need to make your own Fizz Balls out of whatever you’d like.  So basically you’re buying a toy that will encapsulate things you already own and then you can dissolve the thing you spent money on this Christmas to retrieve the thingy you imprisoned – like Han Solo in carbonite (so pumped to see the new Star Wars) – that you chose to stick in there in the first place.  How is this fun?

#4 – WHEN I GROW UP, I WANT TO BE…: THE ANNUAL CAREER POSSIBILITY JOURNAL FOR KIDS

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What is wrong with you?  Did you really buy your child occupational counseling for Christmas?  Are you a guidance counselor?  I get it, you want to record everything your kid says every year so you can look back on it when he’s living in your basement at 45 years old and tell him, “Hey, look, remember when you were 6 and wanted to be an astronaut?”  Yeah, well, maybe if you had gotten him a bike instead you wouldn’t be spending your golden years delivering Hot Pockets down to his “command center” where he apathetically beats the high score of every adolescent he can find on his Playstation.  Way to go.  I hope you’re happy with your choices.

#3 – BELLE DISNEY FILM COLLECTION DOLL

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What the hell is that supposed to be?!  I know, we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but come on, that thing is frightening!  Disney can make an actor look exactly like a living candlestick but that’s as close as they could get to Emma Watson?  That’s what Justin Bieber would look like if he dressed up as Belle for Halloween.  How could a room full of executives look at that doll and unanimously go, “Yup, that’s exactly the look we were going for”?

#2 –Plush Holiday Animated Dancing Farting Laughing Poop Emoji In Christmas Santa Claus Hat

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The name says it all.  I’m just gonna leave this here.

#1 – WOWWEE FINGERLINGS

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Actual product description: “Her name is Rose and, along with her funky hair, she loves to grab onto things. Your kids will love monkeying around with this interactive finger toy.  She responds to sound, motion, and touch. It’s like having a friend right at your fingertips. Oh, and if you blow her a kiss, she might just blow you one back!”  I’m not even mature enough to talk to you about this one.  And, if you’re one of my B4P regulars, I know your mind is just messed up enough to see where I’m going with this one.

“And they’ll shriek squeaks and squeals, racing ’round on their wheels.
They’ll dance with jingtinglers tied onto their heels.
They’ll blow their floofloovers. They’ll bang their tartookas.
They’ll blow their whohoopers. They’ll bang their gardookas.
They’ll spin their trumtookas. They’ll slam their slooslunkas.
They’ll beat their blumbloopas. They’ll wham their whowonkas.
And they’ll play noisy games like zoozittacarzay,
A roller-skate type of lacrosse and croquet!
And then they’ll make ear-splitting noises galooks
On their great big electro whocarnio flooks!” ~ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

More Crappy Christmas Music!

I received a lot of feedback about Tuesday’s top 10 list of lame Christmas songs.  Apparently I had hit a lot of the crappy classics (“crappics”), but a couple readers threw in their two cents.  In fact, I had enough two cents to think I needed to follow up on my post (pretty much a dime if you add all the two cents up) – but I couldn’t have a TOP 5 list…that’s pretty lame.  And I couldn’t hate on enough other Christmas songs to create another full Top 10 list. So, being Sunday, I deemed it worthy of a NEW Bobbing for Popcorn feature that I could utilize in such cases as this – when you, my dear sweet little kernels (Lady Gaga has her “little monsters,” you guys are my “little kernels” – cuz of the popcorn thing…and I’m like the bowl…and you are unpopped and hurt people’s teeth…you know, never mind, this is stupid) have ideas of your own that you would like to add to my posts which…

*Ahem*

I WELCOME AND ENCOURAGE ALL THE TIME!!!

Please, please, please – like, share, comment, subscribe – on here, or Facebook, or Twitter, or the B4P email – GET INVOLVED AND SHARE THE POPCORNY GOODNESS!

But, without further ado, the first ever SUPPLEMENTAL SEVEN SUNDAY created by a combined effort of YOU and ME.

7.  Jingle Bells – Barbra Streisand

This might be the only Christmas song that would put you into an epileptic seizure.  Maybe it’s because she’s technically used to Hanukkah and Christmas was not in her upbringing but, Babs, calm the hell down.  The stores get their Christmas stuff out in October – we’ve got time.  Besides, it’s Jingle Bells.  Jingle freaking Bells.  The easiest and most common song in the Christmas cannon.  First graders are given this tune when their short-sighted music teachers give them each a recorder to bring home and practice – “Hot Cross Buns,” “Twinkle, Twinkle,” and “Jingle Bells.”  No need to reinvent the wheel here.

6. 12 Days of Christmas – every-freakin’-body

I’m talking about the original, but I’m posting the Straight No Chaser version for your enjoyment.  I love this version because it illustrates just how ridiculous the original song is.  What are these things?  Why is my true love buying me all this garbage?!  And PEOPLE?!!  Are we even allowed to buy people?!!  And you can count yourself among the very few if you can honestly remember all these lyrics without having to look them up.  I swear when they wrote this song, they had to fill a butt load of time at the end of a concert and decided to make one song and milk it for all it was worth.  Best stalling tactic song in history!  And it says something if a song has MULTIPLE parodies that are played during the holidays as much as the original!  If you can become a Christmas classic by making fun of ANOTHER Christmas classic, then that original definitely deserves to be on this list.  If you haven’t already, check out Bob Rivers’ “12 Pains of Christmas” and, of course, The Muppet cover of this tune.

5. Holiday Feeling – Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme

Though not as bad as “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” this dude is still pretty much only trying to “stuff the stocking,” if you know what I mean.  It’s also chockfull of lyrics that must have been put together by one of those Refrigerator Magnet Poetry sets.  “Look how the snow is snowing.”  Yup, what does snow do?  Snow snows.  Horses gallop, birds fly, and snow snows.  We will also turn mistletoe into a verb and decide we really want to use the word “party” and must logically work the word “smarty” into the lyrics later in this cavity-inducing, syrupy sweet attempt for a woman to feel the spirit of Christmas and her man’s desperate attempts to get said woman into bed.  Fa-la-la-la-la.

4. Feliz Navidad – Jose Feliciano

Did you know that, to win a bet, Dr. Seuss wrote Green, Eggs, and Ham using only 50 words?  He repeated them over and over adding a new twist here and there to keep the story moving, but for the most part “I will not eat,” “Would you try them on/in/with a,” and “Green eggs and ham” were the central words in the text and he supplemented them with “goat” and “tree” and “train” and so on.  But the fact is, these “goats” and “trees” and “trains” kept the cannon words from getting stale.  Jose Feliciano, however, did not.  He used 20 words (21 if you count “Ahaaa!”).  No change, no supplements, just Spanish verse, English chorus, same Spanish verse, same English chorus, ad nauseum.  Aye carumba.

3.  Donde esta Santa Claus? – Augie Rios

I have nothing against Spanish music!  I swear!  But this song sucks!!!  Who is this kid calling “Mamacita,” first of all?  The literal translation is “little mama.”  So either his mother is an elf, he’s using a pet name for his girlfriend (who I hope is also 7 years old like this kid sounds), or he’s doing his best to be the Latino prepubescent Elvis.  Secondly, could we shove any more stereotypes in here?!  Castinets?  The reindeers named Poncho and Pedro?!!  The backup singers mimicking mariachi horns?!!!  And does he really say “I know that I should be the sleeping”?  THE sleeping?!!  You might as well leave rice and beans out instead of milk and cookies!!  This sounds like someone asked the Texas Border Militia to write this song!  Ay dios mio!

2. Snoopy’s Christmas – The Royal Guardsmen

What do you get when you mix a beloved cartoon, a World War I fighter pilot with 80 confirmed kills, and drinking?  A Christmas song!  This might be the only Christmas song to feature canon fire and machine guns.  Sure the war claimed between 15 and 18 million lives BUT Snoopy (who was about to get gunned down which would effectively make this the only Christmas song to have a beloved cartoon character die in combat set to the cheery upbeat sound of bells) luckily was shown mercy, landed his plane with his sworn enemy, boozed it up a bit, and then took off in the hopes of murdering each other once again in aerial combat.  Again I say, Fa-la-la-la-la.

1. We Wish You the Merriest – Les Brown

How this one escaped my first list, I have no idea.  I think I just scrubbed it so hard from my memory that it snuck through the cracks.  In any case, here it is; it would definitely vie for one of the top spots on the original list, and I have no words to describe the ear gouging horror that this song emanates on the airwaves.  This song is proof that even Satan celebrates Christmas and has enjoyed writing a carol or two that will torment his trapped souls in the most festive way possible.

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” ~ Elf

It Definitely Makes It Harder To Say Christmas

It was a cold, crisp December afternoon.  I had just gotten out of school and I was walking  home – which was a rare thing.  Even though I lived so close to the school, I was rarely allowed to walk home on my own; mainly because my mother could be considered a “worrier” and, in her defense, I could be considered “mentally ill-equipped to successfully complete simple tasks.”  However, this day was one of those days.  The snow was up to my shins as I trudged home, the wind bit its way through my layers of winter attire, and my breath came out in puffs of white.  Christmas break was quickly approaching and it couldn’t get here soon enough.  The wonders of the holidays were all that were on my mind.  That and a strange odor which began wafting up my nose about half a block from my home.  Foreign…not entirely repulsive but far from pleasant.

As I crossed the street I saw that our front door was open…way too cold for that, so I was confused and starting to get concerned.  I became more alarmed when I realized the strange odor was originating from my home.  I walked in and made my presence known and my father greeted me from the kitchen.  My eyes and nose were burning from this incredibly strong smell – it was like Kool-Aid and rubbing alcohol.  I made my way through the house until I stood, bleary-eyed and coughing, in the epicenter of my father’s mad laboratory.  When I asked what he was doing, he simply answered:

“Making glögg.”

Fast forward umpteen years and now I get the honor and privilege of gassing my own kids in the comfort of our own home.  It has become an annual tradition of concocting my own variations of this Swedish brew.  There are a million ways to vary the final product but the basic base to this yuletide face-melter is simple and extremely healthy!

You start with the spice packet, wrapped in a cheesecloth, which has cinnamon (good for you), raisins (good for you), orange peels (covered something good for you), cloves (good for you), almonds (super food!), and cardamom (I don’t know what the hell these are).  Then you add a crap ton of Port Wine (more fruit – good for you).  Go to the liquor store and ask for a crap ton – these only come in two kinds of bottles: butt load and crap ton.  Don’t get the wrong one.

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Finally, you need Everclear…

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 9.07.53 PMNow the amount of Everclear is up for debate.  It is, no joke, the strongest liquor you can get…it’s about 95% pure alcohol whereas rubbing alcohol is almost 100% pure.  Which means Everclear, which is made from corn (vegetable) can almost clean wounds as well as rubbing alcohol, ergo, doubly good for you.

Glögg is basically a health food.

However, since Everclear is so strong (like insanely strong…), the more you have to live for = the less of this you should add.

Throw these three components together and boil them until the neighbors complain.  Then it’s playtime!  Add sugar, or apples, or more Everclear, or lemons, or more Everclear, or watch it dissolve a handful of pennies, or add more Everclear.

Then wait for it to cool (or don’t – it will destroy your innards either way) and enjoy.  Serve warm or cold or room temperature – the first one should be the way you like it – the second won’t matter too much – and subsequent ones will probably be consumed straight from the jug, out of a shoe, or lapped off the floor where you dropped the jug (watch out for the glass shards).  The next morning will be kind of interesting – not “headache and nausea” interesting, but more like “regret most of your life choices” interesting.  But that’s just your body releasing the toxins from all of the produce you consumed.  You’ll be fine.

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“You’ve been drinking.”
“It’s cold outside.  A man’s got to do something to keep warm.” ~ Miracle on 34th Street