Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Christmas Letter*

Dear Friends,

Just wanted to throw a quick note in with our Christmas card so that those of you who we haven't felt obliged to talk to for the last year can feel some small guilt this holiday season, secure in the knowledge that you have completely fallen out of touch with us.

Brian started the year off well. He won the inter-glacial ski-sailing championship in Norway despite heavy competition and a strong showing by the Canadians. He said at the time that he thought maybe they were spiking the akvavit** with extra caraway seeds, giving them an athletic edge, but it turns out the fortuitous mauling of the team captain by a randy moose kept them from capitalizing on this.

Maxine had a great year as well. While technically still not allowed within 100 yards of the School for the Deaf, after what became known as the "The Mashed Potato Incident", she has found a way to surgically alter that one mole she has to look like Brent Musburger, as has always been her dream. She spends her afternoons lounging around the sanitarium and hurling insults at members of the staff, all of whom she now refers to a "Sir Mortimer Ponce Willobury Snee." They in turn, beat her nightly with soap wrapped in a towel. But with love.

Little Marly had a tough go of it this year, between the failed application to Space Camp and the loss of her precious stuffed cat "Fucker", she spent all of 2008 filling her closet with earth from the back yard and then burying herself up to the neck in it. Don't worry about her though! She is still competing in this December's State-wide Moaning tournament. We expect another silver medal at least!

And finally, after 19 long years of marriage, Patricia and I have finally decided that murdering her is the best possible way to end our relationship. She offered resistance to the idea at first but then she blacked out and the rest, as they say is for the courts to decide. Have Yourself a happy holiday season and I hope that you don't spend too much time filling out those silly legal actions again this year. Remember: If you got this card, we have your address!


* This is the kind of thing I never think of until too late. I think next year I am totally going to write a fictionalized Christmas letter and mail it to my whole family.

** Akvavit can also be spiced with corriander, if you're into that kind of thing (perv)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mispronunciating The Whos

The Grinch was on last night and as we're sitting around watching them sing "Yahoo Door-ehs" or whatever the hell it is they've been singing at me for the last 30 fucking years, so that  you would think I'd know it by now,  when it occurs to me that even when I read the book by Dr. Seuss, the voice in my head sounds like Boris Karloff. 

Hmmm... I didn't know I could do that. Or rather I did but never thought about it. 

And then I start thinking about who else I have in my head. Definitely the guys from Monty Python pretending to be women everytime I think of the word "who?", because in my brain it's a high-pitched keening mispronunciated "Ooo?". (I am keenly aware that "mispronunciated" is not a word. I'm making up for it by using both variants of "keen" in the same paragraph. Also, shut up.) 

So now I'm thinking about Monty Python and trying to watch the Grinch, except every other goddamn word in The Grinch is "who" so that the opening sentence sounds like this:

"All the Ooos down in Ooo-ville liked Christmas a lot..."

Except the "Ooos" are all spoken in the Monty Python screech and the rest is Boris Karloff and none of it is my own "in my head" voice and it disturbs me greatly. Then The Boy jumped onto my head wearing only his underwear, and I ate crotch and it wasn't a Christmas miracle but just gross.

The End.

ps: The moral of the story: You should probably be reading something else.

pps: The underwear may have been clean but I give it like a 30-70 split percentage-wise.

ppps: This night was so uneventful on the grand scale of my life that I almost didn't blog about it, but then I realized eating boy-crotch should NOT be the "norm" of my experiences and maybe by writing about it I can better cope.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thoughts on a Middle School Choral Concert OR Why My Ears Hate Me.

I love music. I just want to get that out there. The reason I mention it is because music is going to have awful things done to it this evening and it makes me sad that I have to watch.  It's a bit like being on a jury and having to watch grisly footage of a violent crime. You know you have to pay strict attention, but inside... a little piece of you dies.

That's right... it's time for the annual Middle School Winter Concert. I had to wear a knit hat today because my ears are trying to run away from home.

The thing is... not even the most diehard, ultra-supportive, super-invested parents can actually LIKE these things. I know, I know...we all put on a brave face, and smile and clap...but we're all thinking the same thing. "Dear Jesus, if this is how we are celebrating the birth of God's child... with stunted, lurching and off-key Romanian Yule carols, then fire will surely rain from the heavens before a fortnight hath passed." This is like walking all the way to Bethlehem for weeks on end, to seek the presence of your newfound king, and the only son of the Almighty, only to give the little baby Jesus a bowling ball with your name etched into it. 

Okay, that's probably just me. But there is no logical way an intelligent person can still derive pleasure from this overt act of cacophonous treason. Early on, they had the "cute factor" working. The "Aww-Aren't-They-Precious" thing. That ship has sailed my friends. These kids are too old to be cute. That line was crossed when I had to discuss oral sex with my daughter in the backyard at my parent's house on Fourth of July. Once you've heard your daughter say the word "blowjob", "Cute" is a thing of the past.

But we'll clap and smile. The ultra-sarcastic will bring video recorders so they can exact swift and cruel vengeance upon the family members who didn't make it to the show. Once they even tried to have a standing ovation. I looked around in terror, afraid that a fire had broken out or something. "Why is everyone standing?" I thought. "Are they being ironic?" 

And then there was last year... the Honors Choir that The Girl is in, did this haunting, beautiful rendition of "Silent Night". The air was dead still inside the theater as their thin, angelic voices grew to become mighty. You could sense that the audience was holding its breath as those delicate, warm words of comfort floated over the throng.I felt the goosebumps gallop down my arm and the heat in the corner of my eyes building to a watery tumble. My heart beat a little faster and I thought "Wow. They've finally gotten good." This thought alone was enough to justify the tears. It was like getting a call from the Governor at 11:55pm. 

Immediately after that came an especially kazoo-focused version of Jingle Bells. With half of the lyrics in French. 

That got a standing ovation. Sarcastic bastards.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Christmas Miracle

Baby Jesus was never stalked by a polar bear. I'm just asking for clarification on what I thought to be a known fact. I would think any arctic animals would find the heat of the Middle Eastern Desert to be a bit too oppressive for any kind of prolonged hunting activity. I look back down to verify that I saw that right. Yep. Sure enough. There's a polar bear lurking just behind the food trough in the kids' Nativity scene.

There is also a problem with Joseph. He was dropped a couple years ago and when I superglued his head back on I accidentally (at least that's what I'm claiming) put it on at a goofy angle. He looks like he might need a neck brace, which of course gets me thinking about ancient, mid-road, high speed, donkey collisions.

Closer inspection also reveals a penguin, a cougar,a threatening-looking hyena perched over the cradle, a Clone Trooper, Darth Vader, and a hand drawn sketch of a lemur posted on the wall of the manger like a travel poster, which when you think about it is pretty impressive considering the Middle East was a long way from the small island nation of Madagascar, who I doubt had a very large advertising budget in 0 AD. To have promotional materials visible and prominently displayed in a tiny manger in Bethlehem was quite an impressive feat of advertising. I would debate, however, that the marketing team was not hitting their core demographic in the "pregnant virgin and impoverished carpenter on forced pilgramage" set. Although, who knows... maybe Joseph had some disposable income, I mean they were a young couple, out on the town, she can't drink so the bar bills are cheap. Maybe that is exactly the kind of people Madagascar was looking to court.

This year's manger scene is even better than last year's, when at some point, the baby Jesus was mysteriously transmorgified into a circus peanut. I'm not sure where that falls on the blasphemy scale, but I think the whole thing was made worse by the fact that I found the cat hunkered over the nativity devouring what I thought was the only Son of God, but turned out to just be a delicious, orange, marshmallowey confection. He was musically chewing it out of the side of his mouth and drooling a little, while the tiny Wise Men, tipped over and askew on the fake stacks of hay, looked on in horror.

What a magical Christmas that first one was, is my point.

This Blog Uses the Word "Pan-Sexual" Too Much

Over the weekend we watched some Arrested Development (again. but not like "Again?...(sigh)... Jesus Christ! Why can't we do something else?!?"...more like "Yay!") and now I can't get the phrase "pan-sexual bizarre" out of my head, so when the lady at Tim Horton's asks me if I ordered a large or an extra-large Cafe Mocha (Extra large...duh.), all I think is "pan-sexual bizarre" and when my boss asks if I had a nice weekend I hear "pan-sexual bizarre" (which it totally wasn't, because I looked up the Wiki definition of the prefix "Pan-" and it means "all" or "of all members" which made me giggle a little because I am 12.) and when the Ex- calls up and asks if I know when the Winter concert for Honors Chorus is, I hear "Pan-Sexual Bizarre" because it's just stuck in there.

And I always hear it said in Ron Howard's voice, which I don't think means anything because that was the voice I heard it in during the show, but I'm not shut to the idea that I might potentially be haunted by the ghost of some repressed,traumatic, pan-sexual memory from my childhood or maybe that's just the usual way people hear the words "pan-sexual bizarre" and I'm totally "normal".

So of course, I googled the words "pan-sexual" to see if the memory I'm repressing might be something awesome like being molested by a hot babysitter or something and the first thing it came up with was an article from Gawker about a guy who proclaimed himself to be pan-sexual. Wow. I had no idea you could do that. And that made me wonder if maybe there is a pan-sexual dating service like Match.com, but then it occurred to me that pan-sexuals don't really need a dating service because being pan-sexuals they could just find a provocative-looking tree or something. And then I realized I was thinking about it too much and then my boss called and asked me for the results of the 10K benchmark thermal flow measurements and when I told him he said "That's bizarre."

(*cue Ron Howard*)*

* UPDATE: This would have been funnier if I had said "cue Opie".

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Gripe Before Christmas

I can tell it's Christmas time. Not because I can read a calendar, although that does play a small role in it, and not because the gentle, hushed fall of millions of snowflakes can be seen see-sawing haphazardly outside my window. I know it's almost Christmas because all of the sudden work is kicking into overdrive. You see, I've come to believe that my entire job is not to run and test subsystems on million dollar printing presses in hopes of finding fundamental design flaws that would make the sale of said presses unprofitable. I think instead, that I am part of some larger psychological experiment to see what it is that makes people go insane.

That's really the only explanation I can think of. Let's look at the facts:

1) During the Christmas shopping season, the one part of the year when I absolutely NEED my free time to shop for the various penis-joke based gifts I will undoubtedly decide on giving, they ask for me to start working overtime. Thereby giving me more money to spend and insuring that I don't have time to spend it.

2) They make me repeat tests I have already completed, without reason. They do seem to raise their eyebrows at me a lot though. This, of course, I take as an absolute slight against my work performance. That carefully arched brow seems to insinuate all manner of nasty things starting with "Your processes on the previous test were substandard the same way Jack The Ripper's opinion of women was less than adequate" and ending with "You are a filthy donkey-man and we hate you." I may be reading in to things a bit here.

3) Knowing full well that I am extremely stressed about the impending end of my contract, they decide that now is the best time to change the operating environment inside my lab to the meteorological equivalent of a colonoscopy. It's going to be 80 degrees with 70 percent humidity in my chamber for the next week. Putting a person with little to lose in a hot, sweaty chamber for long days during the Christmas retail season is like hiring someone to have road rage. They might as well give me a note with a name on it that will self-destruct after reading and tell me where I can find the necessary sniper rifle.

And then I think "I should just be thankful I have any job at all and should quit with the bitching. It could be worse. There are thousands of people out there who are desperate for work and watching the probability of gainful employment erode from under them daily as the economy continues its slow descent into alcoholism. This job of mine is actually pretty awesome and despite all appearances, I seriously doubt they are trying to make me mentally unbalanced."

That's when they brought me a handgun and told me I should kill my lab partner before he kills *me*.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Control Plus Pee

As I sat there debating whether or not it was a good idea to write a blog about doing Google searches for semi-pornographic words and tracking how many pages in I had to go before I found actual porn*, the phone rang. It was The Girl and she was in a tizzy (and I don't use that word lightly. Very few creatures are capable of reaching the epic state of anxiety required to be deemed "in a tizzy". Luckily, teenage girls TOTALLY can. I win.)

"Who is this?"
"Heh. Just settle down. What?"
"I need to print out this paper I wrote for school and mom's printer isn't working and the library is closed and now I'm not going to get it turned in on time and I'm going to get a bad grade because he takes off 20% for each day late and I'm never going to go to college and it's all your fault.**"

I'm always amazed by how little she needs to breathe when she's vomiting these sentences out at me. It's like the panic slows her metabolism or something. I guess you could say she is hibernating from sanity. That would also explain the growling.

"Okay. I'll bring my printer over. I'll be there in a few."
"Please Hurry!"
"Well...What if I am in the middle of something?"
"You're not. Come On, Dad."

Her disbelief that I might have a life is unnerving. And creepy in it's accuracy. I think she might be a witch.

So I get over to my ex-house, and there she is, still a-tizzy. I set up the printer, but right away I can tell it's going to be a problem. Not because of any technical issue that is making itself readily apparent, but because The Boy is running around me in circles asking questions in the machine gun staccato he has when he's had entirely too much sugar. I can feel my blood pressure starting to rise.

"Dad! Is it set up yet? Can we print? Are we going to print animal pictures? Have you seen the flying penguin ad? Are we going to keep this printer here? Is Mom's printer broken? Can I go to Webkinz.com? Are you done setting up yet? Is it easy to set it up? Mom says you don't like working on her computer? Why don't you like working on her computer. Ugh. I'm dizzy."

It's not working. It wants Windows. It wants a current Mac OS. It wants to be snuggled. I don't know what the hell it wants. I want to set it on fire by the time I have successfully managed to not set it up an hour later. I wish I had just gone out to the garage and hit my thumb with a hammer one too many times. It would be less painful.

The Girl is pacing behind me and humming nervously. There are many ways to motivate me to do something. Cake. Pie. Cookies. You'll notice the utter lack of "walking behind me and making annoying noises" on that list. That's on purpose.

It took me an hour, but I finally ended up taking the printer back to my house (I managed to drag my USB cable all the way down the street without noticing it hanging out the car door), hooking it up to my desktop, installing the drivers, and printing out the necessary sheets which I then delivered to my grateful spawn. When she was done hugging me and telling me I'm the best dad in the whole world even better than that cool guy on Gilmore Girls, The Boy comes leaping out at me from somewhere. Once again over-stimulated and pantless.

"DAD! Did you print my Christmas List too?"
"Huh? No."

It was a long night is my point.

*For example: if you Google "explode" with Moderate SafeSearch turned off, it isn't until page 4 of the images that you see anyone naked, and then it is just a naked woman, and there is no "exploding" going on, just her kneeling provocatively. I wasn't aware that kneeling was necessarily a provocative activity. But it turns out it is. Bonus points for you, Catholics. In the blog I would have had a graph. Because graphs make everything official.

** She didn't say "It's all your fault.' This is just implied in all teenage communications.