Thursday, July 29, 2010

Third Person Thursday - Fly Guy

As Sam walked through the supermarket, he doubted he would go to the gym today. Despite the fact that he knew missing a session would doom him to never return, he wasn’t really disappointed in himself. He was actually proud that he’d gone three times a week for a month.

“I’ll still eat better,” Sam thought as he picked up some broccoli and turned it over in his hand. No brown spots. Into the cart it went.

As he turned to take a look at the grapes, he saw the woman looking at the next fruit display over (which just happened to be the cantaloupes) and stopped. She was awfully pretty. Pretty enough, Sam thought, to be a part-time model or a stewardess. Pretty enough for Sam to wonder if she ought to be the first woman he tried to pick up in a produce section. Pretty enough that Sam kept staring while he thought all this.

When Sam realized he was staring at her a bit too long, he focused his intense gaze upon the grapes instead and moved slightly closer to her. Not close enough to be creepy. A natural, I-just-happen-to-be-checking-out-the-grapes-which-you-also-happen-to-be-near type of closeness.

At one point, Sam made a point of turning in her direction just to weigh the batch of grapes he had selected. This was something Sam never did. He decided on amounts of fruit and vegetables based on looks, not weight.

The move served its purpose, however. Like the theories about T-Rex, Sam believed you had to move in order for a pretty girl to actually see you. Sam saw her look in his direction out of the corner of his eye. So, he quickly finished weighing the grapes, not noticing where the needle on the scale stopped, if he’d given it time to at all, and placed them into his cart.

But as he turned to do so, he made a bold move. He looked to initiate eye contact.

Sam was surprised to see the woman’s eyes down near his belt. When her eyes moved upward and caught his, she smiled, bit her lower lip and scurried away as her face turned red. She was obviously embarrassed and Sam watched her go in shock.

“She was checking me out,” Sam told himself. He evn had to mentally repeat, "Holy crap! She was totally checking me out!" Had he been able to give himself a high five without looking clinically insane, he would have.

As Sam pushed his cart to the deli, his head swelled.

“Half a pound of provolone,” he said to the young man who leaned over the tall counter to hear him.

Sam couldn’t stop thinking of how pretty that woman had been and how he, Sam, of all people, had embarrassed her. Usually he was the one embarrassed when he was caught staring. Sam recalled how that had nearly happened moments before he caught the woman staring at his trousers.

“Here you go sir. Will that be all?”

“And a half pound of turkey,” Sam said and as he added, “the smoked, not the honey,” he sensed someone watching him.

When Sam looked to his right, the woman waiting for the other deli worker to finish packaging her chicken salad quickly averted her gaze to the floor. Once the thirty-something mother (a description Sam developed based on the Lunchables in her cart) had the round plastic container in hand, she turned quickly and walked away, noticeable avoiding having to look in Sam’s direction as she smiled uncontrollably.

“Not as pretty as the first,” Sam thought as he puffed out his chest, “but I’ll take it.”

Inspiration had arrived for Sam in the form of female attention. He decided that he would get to the gym after all. Obviously, the weights were making a difference and to stop now would be to go back to being invisible to women. This was way more fun.

As Sam walked down the frozen food aisle, he made sure to check out his reflection in the glass doors. His profile looked good and he discreetly raised his hand to his forehead to scratch it gently and flex his bicep at the same time.

“Looking good,” he thought.

All in all, three more women were caught looking at Sam a bit too long before he left the store. One was a store employee that couldn't have been more than eighteen. This simultaneously bothered and encouraged Sam. Each one seemed to be looking him up and down. Sam had even noticed a clean cut, well dressed man staring at him in a similar way. While he wasn’t interested, Sam still found himself feeling a bit flattered.

When he returned to his sedan, Sam threw the groceries in the trunk as he beamed. Not only would he keep up the work out regimen, but as he looked over his brown four door Buick, he thought he might need to get a new car. Something more manly. Previously, Sam’s thinking wouldn’t allow him to buy anything flashy. Sports cars raised insurance and trucks used too much gas. Of course, this was when women were ignoring him anyway, so what good would a car do other than to highlight his lack of any other positive attributes?

When friends would ask him why a single guy like him hadn’t bought a nicer car, suggesting it was exactly what they would do if allowed to live his life more than vicariously, Sam had always said, “I’m still too young for a mid-life crisis.”

But now the idea held appeal. A new Sam ought to have a new car that fit him.

As he sat in the brown sedan, he turned the mirror to check his hair. After also ensuring nothing was in his teeth, Sam started the car and prepared to get his groceries home. He needed to get to the gym and keep his physique.

It was when he pulled the seat belt across his chest and down toward his hip that Sam happened to look down and notice his fly was open. Sam’s jaw dropped and he tried to think back to how long it had been that way. His memory brought him back to the stop he’d made at home after work to use the bathroom. This had been immediately before heading to the supermarket.

Instead of going to the gym that evening, Sam sat on his couch, ordered a peperoni pizza and watched reruns of Sanford & Son.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Give My Kids The Finger...Foods

When my wife and I are hanging out in the backyard with our sons and they randomly decide they are hungry (and let’s be clear, being hungry is a decision for a six and seven year old, otherwise they wouldn’t claim to be stuffed halfway through a plate of chicken and vegetables and become ravenous for ice cream five minutes later when you get in the car) we tend to go with finger foods. I’m not including recipes here because, one: this is not that kind of blog and, two: I don’t have any. I’m just saying that a couple factors combine to make finger foods ideal for myself and my family during the summer.

First of all, there are no utensils required. In fact, you even reduce plate usage. You can just heat up a big pile of chicken nuggets and drop them on the picnic table and little hands will begin snatching them up right before your eyes. A bit of advice: get your own hand clear of the plate as soon as possible to avoid getting bitten. I usually come out with the plate behind my back, then after I set it down, I get distance and act like the food appeared out of nowhere.

“Look, kids, somebody brought out chicken nuggets!”

While the feeding frenzy ensues, I get about twenty minutes of floating by myself in the pool. I can even lengthen this by using the whole you-need-time-to-digest technique.

Another reason finger foods work for us is because we have boys. Boys their age tend to hang out with other boys. So when they have friends over, my wife becomes so chromosomally outnumbered that the caveman style of eating becomes acceptable. Sure, girls can enjoy finger foods, but when you think about the staples (buffalo wings, potato chips, Cheetoes, giant turkey legs) the imagery naturally leads one’s mind to the Viking feast more than it does to the ladies bridge tournament at the country club. In fact, when you see my sons and their friends devouring chicken nuggets, pizza and watermelon, this metaphor will be pretty obvious.

Allow me to add here that even if your children are no longer in diapers, baby wipes prove invaluable in these situations. Whether eating sans utensils in the yard, in the car or dealing with a kid who would rather use his shirt than a napkin, the baby wipe is a necessary weapon in the war that is feeding children.

The final reason I have for leaning toward finger foods is that they are fun. Any food that you can employ the trained seal technique of eating with is okay in my book. I love throwing a small bite-sized foodstuff item into the air and catching it in my mouth. I’ve found in recent years that I never truly appreciated the cheese ball in my youth for this fact. It’s light, perfect shape for tossing in the air (either straight up for yourself or across the room for a friend) and packs a satisfying crunch upon a successful reception.

While I took the cheese ball for granted all these years, I did highly value other foods. During my early teenage years when I was too old to use my imagination without embarrassment and too young to drive a car to get somewhere, my cousin and I would spend a lot of time watching MTV. I’m not afraid of dating myself by admitting this was back when MTV actually showed music videos all day. In fact, some people out there may be surprised to know that the M in MTV stands for Music. Anyway, when boredom set in, we would look for snacks and the snacks would sometimes lead to further boredom fighting activities.

One day in particular, we found a bag of marshmallows. This immediately turned into a round of tossing them from one couch to the other into each other’s mouths. But this proved to be too simple for the two of us. The toss and catch aspect quick mutated. Before we knew it, we were standing in various rooms of his house competing in full contact food wars. We were bouncing the marshmallows off the walls and the kitchen table and diving, sustaining many a rug burn, in order to catch them.

Once the whole bag of marshmallows was gone, much to my aunt’s later astonishment, boredom took over again. But the point is that these finger foods, in the hands of two young men, actually provided more than just calories. They provided a brief period of entertainment.

As I finish typing this post, my sons and their friends sit at the table with me, eating cut up fruit, chicken nuggets and Kool-Aid. They act out small scenes where the nuggets are small animals or fish and they are larger predators who decimate the once great population of the smaller species. This is a successful and low stress way to feed and entertain all these monsters. Dishes used: 2. Kids fed: 5 (including me).

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Students Shall Surpass The Master, Which Kind Of Ticks This Master Off

I’ve decided to undertake a creative project with my sons. My plan is to build a Lego brick, miniature scale replica of the cabin my family has stayed in on summer fishing trips for the last several years.

The design itself shouldn’t pose too serious of a challenge. It’s a square cabin with a low slanted roof. The doors and windows are not located in strange places. The standard Lego door or window would not look very different from them. There are very few rooms. Should we decide to detail the inside so that a mini-figure family can vacation within, it ought not to be overly complicated. The cabin is red. Aside from gray, red is most certainly the color Lego brick I possess the largest inventory of.

The real challenge of this project looks to be my ability to relinquish complete artistic control of the final product.

Regular readers will remember that my sons have been undertaking some pretty complicated Lego builds on their own. They’ve tackled a few Lego Star Wars sets by themselves. Most notably, a few days ago, I woke to discover a Y-Wing over halfway assembled on my dining room table. I knew this was not my wife’s doing. As the smile of fatherly pride spread across my face, the child inside me stomped out of the room in jealousy.

You were supposed to wait for me!

So how do I build a relatively simple model house without being completely phased out during its construction? They’ve displayed proficiency in assembling vehicles that can cruise through the galaxy, regardless of how long ago they were used or how far away said galaxy was. A basic red box with some predictably placed doors and windows shouldn’t pose them a problem by comparison.

I feel like the father who plays basketball with his kids and realizes that some day they will defeat him without his purposely letting them score or intentionally missing any potential game winning shots. Ultimately, the goal is to have fun with them while you teach them to play better. Their increased ability can be seen as a testament to your teaching ability. This is the lesson of Kung Fu masters everywhere. However, it still stings a little when the reality that they have surpassed of your skill level sets in.

I find myself in a dilemma that many parents who enjoy their children’s hobbies along with them must face. Do I want them to be so good that they don’t need my help anymore or do I want them to need me to step in and finish all their building projects for them?

If I could hope for a happy medium, I think I would want them to have just enough problems to keep my services and advice relevant. I think the fact that most of their Lego success has come from finely detailed set instructions should keep me in the loop. The planning and creative process would seem to be a facet of the build where I could still lend my life experience.

And, just to be safe, maybe I’ll hold back on a few tricks of the trade. Maybe I won’t volunteer to show them how we could make the pier leading out to the lake just yet. The old man might need to have a few surprises up his sleeve for a later project.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Last Thing These Weekly Features Need Is Another Cup Of Coffee

Just as I must take out the garbage, mow the lawn and change my underwear, it’s time to update the weekly features.

This week’s top 5 is Steve Buscemi roles. Yes, I have randomly (did you think there was any other method to this blog) decided to honor that great American actor who many know as the funny looking guy. Allow me to apologize in advance for disqualifying voice credits, otherwise his portrayal of Randall in Monsters Inc. would have surely made the list along with Mr. Nebbercracker in Monster House:

5 – Rockhound in Armageddon
4 – Crazy Eyes in Mr. Deeds
3 – Donny in The Big Lebowski
2 – Carl Showalter in Fargo
1 – Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs

This week’s cool-ass thing you will never own is your own radio station. It would be nice to mess with people’s heads though and play all country one day and switch to mariachi music the next.

This week’s sign you are a nerd is that you’ve counted how many times a movies has departed from the book it’s based on. It’s going to happen. Deal with it. You either liked the movie or you didn’t. If you want an experience that is exactly like the book, just read the book again.

This week’s lesson learned is that the warning on the side of the inflatable pool telling you to keep it on level ground is there for a reason. You will understand that reason when you have to explain to your neighbor how their flower garden ended up washed two blocks down.

This week’s Star Wars quote is: “You like me because I’m a scoundrel. There aren’t enough scoundrels in your life.”

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the new weekly feature I promised last week. Yeah, remember, I told you to look forward to a new feature? What, didn’t you read it last week? Anyway, the new feature is a weekly equation. This week’s is:

h/t = s/m

where h represents the humidity percentage expressed in decimals, t represents the temperature in Fahrenheit degrees, s represents the sweatiness of my ass and m represents my mood, the lower the integer, the worse my mood.

That’s all for now. Thanks again for reading.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

When It Rains It Pours Rage Out Of My Ears (I Know That Makes No Sense, But That's How Furious I Am)

There is a higher power.

I know this because He (or She/It/Them, whatever you believe) sees all of my innermost thoughts. A superior being who is up there calling the shots is the only one who could read my mind and sense when I am in a terrible mood whilst I hide it to the rest of the world.

Only an omniscient deity could possibly know that I hate everyone and am on the verge of strangling the next person that speaks to me for any reason other than to give me cash or ask, “Have you been working out?” I have, in case you were wondering.

So, devil’s advocate, you wonder how I know that there is someone out there who is privy to the inner machinations of my mind? Because they torment me at these precise moments, that’s how. They pick the times when I am so pissed off I could choke somebody to sprinkle more crap onto the manure sundae of my life.

It’s as if this all powerful one notices I’m crabby and acts like the overtired parent whose child has whined a few too many times because they haven’t gotten what they wanted at the department store.

“You want to cry? I’ll give you something to cry about!”

Call me crazy, but this is the only method I have of explaining why when I come home from a bad day at work and shut down because I don’t want to take my bad mood out on everybody else, I end up getting water in my basement. And it’s the only logical explanation for why at the same time my dog would be so suddenly afraid of the thunder that he pees on my dining room floor in the middle of the night, causing the entire house to smell of urine (my lack of enthusiasm over this smell is precisely why I bought a dog instead of a cat). Furthermore, it’s the only reasoning that I will accept why my pool would then be so overfilled that one side of it would begin to collapse as I’m standing next to it and nearly wash me into my neighbor’s yard which, by the way, it transformed into a swamp within a span of ten seconds.

“Heh-heh…sorry about that, Bob. It’ll dry out by next Thursday.””

It seems that the only thing that caused this seemingly never-ending barrage of annoying events to subside was my indifference to them. Once I stopped swearing and stomping around the house after each new blow to my optimism, the bad things stopped happening. It’s like when your older brother stops picking on you because you stop crying about it. It becomes less interesting for the bully.

Maybe someone was trying to send me a message. Maybe my blood was unexplainably gamma-radiated and if I were to become angry enough, I would turn into the Hulk. Perhaps the man upstairs has simply been trying to alert me to my as yet undiscovered power. He’s been trying to push me over the edge so that I can finally realize my calling: to be chased around to globe from location to location where I will inevitably help random citizens who are, at first, terrified by the sight of me but soon come to see that I’m just a tormented soul who wants to be left alone and wouldn’t hurt anybody unless provoked. They will understand this after I lift a truck off somebody or rescue a frightened little girl’s cat from a tree and return it to her despite her parents’ attempts to distance her from me. “What jerks we were to think he would harm our daughter,” they’ll say. “He was only trying to help her.” I’ll then hitchhike to the next town after calming down and finding a new flannel shirt and pair of purple jeans as somber piano music plays in the background.

Rather than risk it, the next time I have a bad day at work, I’m going to talk very loudly about what a great day it was. I will then pray and sacrifice live animals in honor of the remarkably wonderful day I had and perform an interpretive dance, reliving all of its best moments.

Maybe then whomever it is that likes to see me fly into uncontrollable rages will leave me alone like I want everyone else to on those days. If not…HULK SMASH!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Anti-Climactic Return Of Third Person Thursday


He opened his eyes to the dark wood veneer of his desk.

"What, buddy," he called groggily. This was exactly the word he thought in his head to describe his voice and cringed to himself at the awkwardness of it.

"The movie's over," called his six-year-old from his bedroom.

He straightened his back and tried to stretch the pain from his neck. As he did so, he noticed that as he had fallen asleep at his desk, his hand had come to rest on his keyboard. The word processing document on the screen held a few sentences of substance and then seventeen pages of the letter "c".

As he rolled his chair back from the desk, he rubbed his forehead, imagining the red mark he would see were he in front of a mirror.

"I need to stop doing this," he said out loud to himself. "Sometimes I can just skip the writing and catch up on sleep."

He shuffled into his sons' room. One was asleep and the other almost was. He turned off the television which now played the DVD menu screen of Phineas & Ferb over and over again and kissed them each on the cheek.

"Goodnight, guys," he said to the already sleeping boys as he walked down the hallway to his own bed.

Tomorrow would see more writing. So would the next day. But tonight would see sleep.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Can A Blog Have An Official Bird? Yes. Yes, It Most Certainly Can.

Having recently been fishing in the north woods, I find that something is missing as I try to fall asleep at night. It’s not mosquitoes. It’s something soothing and majestic. It’s the sound of the Common Loon (or Gavia immer).

If you’ve never seen or heard these birds, you need to look them up. Below is a picture I took of a couple loons on the lake I fish.

As you can see, they look like large black and white ducks with pointed beaks and red eyes. They spend very little if any time on land, preferring to be on the water, where they are excellent swimmers. They can stay beneath the surface for prolonged periods of time to swim and catch their food with the aforementioned pointed beak.

To see a loon take off or land on water is to witness a sight that is less than spectacular. They take a very long time to lift off, sometimes becoming stranded if the lake they land on is too small. Their landings look like that of a comic relief character in a children’s cartoon as they use their bellies to slow themselves because their feet are set so far back on their bodies.

While I may not be making the greatest case for your appreciation of the majestic loon, I have yet to go into detail regarding their calls. The first time you hear a loon’s call in person is a life changing event. Often when you hear the first, you hear other loons in the distance calling in response. It in a haunting, enchanting, just plain flipping awesome sound.

Their calls vary, but each is spectacular in its own way. You have the hoot which the loon uses to communicate or check in with mates or chicks. The tremolo sounds like a short laugh but signifies fear or agitation. The wail is a call and response call that the loons use to contact loons from a distance on the same lake or a nearby lake.

But the best of all is the yodel. This is done by the male as a territorial cry.

Not only is the call of the loon the world’s greatest bird call, but it may be the single most amazing sound I have ever heard in my life. If Mozart or Beethoven had a loon at their disposal they surely would have used it as an instrument.

So as I sit in bed and listen instead to the thumping bass of some jerk driving by with their stereo turned up too loudly, I wish instead that I could hear the distant call from the clear waters of the north woods of the loon. I hereby declare that the Common Loon is the official bird of Transformer Generation Dad.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Wreck Of The F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’ve been trying to work on my writing. That’s the reason that I started this blog. Loyal readers will already know this. I want to make myself write daily because I feel it’s good practice.

But I think I’m missing out on a very important technique. This was a method used frequently during a period in which many classic works or literature were penned. It was something that a lot of great authors did and I think I need to step up my commitment to it.

I think I need to become an alcoholic.

While this is a time tested method of improving one’s quality of writing, it isn’t the only method. Great writers like Hemmingway suffered from crippling depression. Many succumbed to dire financial hardship. Some lost loved ones. Others experimented with drugs. Edgar Allen Poe even combined several of these, losing family members and going through rough financial times while drinking and doing drugs. Then there were guys like Herman Melville who was obsessed with whaling for some strange reason and squeezed a good novel out of it.

Regardless of the source, many good authors have had a great deal of pain in their lives. I need to find and cultivate a source of my own. I’m pretty sure the route of F. Scott Fitzgerald is the way to go.

I’ve looked into all of the techniques mentioned above. I don’t have the courage to try drugs. Hallucinations aren’t my bag. Spiders are meant to be outside, not crawling all over my skin, even if it’s just in my mind.

I enjoy the outdoors. Still, I don’t see myself at sea or undertaking some other random, secluded occupation for years on end.

‘Twas the year twenty and ten when I first began my search for the great Muskellunge of the North Woods. Many a man would give their lives before my journey was over.

I don’t think it fair to ask a family member to contract some life threatening, outdated illness like polio or smallpox just to promote my writing career. I also think that financial woes would be a greater hardship on my immediate family than my being an alcoholic. Bankruptcy follows you around forever and makes nobody want to do business with you while everybody has an alcoholic in the family and can relate to one another about it.

I’m a pretty happy drunk, so while I’ll need to be driven everywhere, there is the added bonus that people might find me more agreeable. Then again, the point of this is to produce misery in my life so that I can tap into the absolute agony of existence and spout gold onto the page. So maybe being happy and over-sentimentally drunk all the time wouldn’t help.

Did I ever tell you how much I love you, man? I do! I love you sooooo much!

I need to start looking at other alternatives. Maybe I could just keep some ragweed in my house and always have really bad allergies. Perhaps instructing my sons to leave Lego bricks lying everywhere and then walking around barefoot all the time would sour my mood.

Whatever the technique, my life needs to be more worthy of a behind the scenes documentary that spills all my darkest secrets. If I want to be a serious writer, people need to hear my life story and say, “That guy was messed up.” I need to be more miserable.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hear This Humble Pool Boy Out, Virginia Woolf

I will begin this post with the following statement: I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that either gender is superior to the other.

I needed to get that out of the way because I spent the better part of today cleaning up my swimming pool. This process is normally a simple one that requires a few minutes each day. You use the net to get larger bugs and dirt, run the filter, and add chlorine. That’s about it.

I was gone for a week and left all the necessary tools to perform said daily maintenance in plain view for my wife to access. A week of inattention is just long enough to make cleaning the pool afterward a pain in the ass. Dirt builds up. Bugs that were floating on the top now sink to the bottom. The filter cap can become congested. The water gets cloudy.

This led me to realize that there are certain things women will do and certain things they won’t. In this particular instance, they will want the pool to be set up and swim in it. They will not, however, set it up or clean it thoroughly. Perhaps women have an instinctual impulse to leave pool maintenance to a shirtless pool boy as they merely lay in or near the pool looking good.

I can’t quite explain why my wife is unable to do certain things like cleaning the pool, but I can observe them and there are others. She is entirely unable to kill a spider. Starting the lawnmower is beyond her realm of expertise. Putting gas in the car has been done but only in the direst of emergencies such that it is an activity that can be placed in the same category as most of Bear Grylls’ survival techniques. I’ll drink my own pee or eat a reindeer’s eyeball only if it is absolutely necessary to keep me alive.

I’m not picking on her. I’m merely observing and taking note. There are plenty of things that she can do far better than me. Shopping for shoes, feeling emotion, not falling asleep in the middle of conversations, and cooking a meal consisting of something other than meat and on something other than a grill are just a few.

There are simply undeniable differences between the average man and woman. I happen to find it funny when I notice these things.

I am perfectly able to accept that women can do just about anything they set their minds to as well as a man and vise versa. I don’t believe men are to go out and work and women are to stay home with the children. In fact, I think I would be the one of the two of us to feel more comfortable as a stay-at-home parent. I have absolutely no inner drive to go out and be the bread winner in order to feel like a productive member of society. My career is based entirely out of needing money. My wife on the other hand, seems to feel a greater purpose and actually believe in the point of her job, bless her little heart.

So off I go to finish cleaning the water in the pool. I’ll wade around in it with my shirt off and hope she’s sipping a margarita and eating bon-bons, watching me out the window in lust.

Boredom May Be The Father (Or At Least First Cousin) Of Invention

As the old saying goes: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I agree, but as a remedial class in biology will tell you, if there is a mother, there must also be a father. Necessity alone is not enough. It takes two to tango.

Necessity is a major driving force behind invention, but mostly behind very useful and meaningful inventions. This holds true for fire, the wheel and the light bulb, but what of less important inventions? Laziness was a factor in the invention of the remote control. Greed invented the slot machine. Accidents have even produced valuable inventions, per legend, like penicillin and The Monkees.

But which name appears on the birth certificate of invention? What factor should be deemed the father?

I would have to argue that the second most important influence on innovation is boredom. Somebody is sitting around, bored out of their mind and an idea pops into their head. Then, they are so desperate to have something to do that they pour themselves into creating this new thing.

Sometimes, due to such advanced boredom, said invention is just a way to fill up the time that was previously spent being bored. Most sports are a great example of this. Were it not for boredom, I dare say we would not have a single sport. Certainly, there was no secret board room meeting between wealthy men who controlled society behind the scenes to dream up a sport.

“We need to have an excuse to sit around on our asses and drink beer while we watch people play a game for three hours at a time during the summer.”

“I think I’ve got something here. I call it Baseball.”

I think this holds true for most games in general. Monopoly was not made to encourage future real estate agents or bankers from an early age. The game of Life is not an actual way to practice for life. Hungry Hungry Hippos was not developed as a tool for…well, exactly, there is no other possible reason to play Hungry Hungry Hippos.

I think most simple pen and paper games were invented by someone who was so bored that they just wanted to find something to do with the pen beside jab themselves in the brain with it. Tic-tac-toe and the dot game were obviously created while somebody got stuck for a very long period of time, most likely in a doctor’s waiting room, without a book or magazine. Or by a frazzled parent who needed to occupy some kids.

“We only have a pen and paper? Okay, I know. Here are a series of lines and I’m going to figure out something for you to do with them so that you’ll shut up and I don’t strangle you.”

Solitaire was most likely developed by someone stranded in a cabin in the wilderness. Or perhaps by someone who was so obnoxious or smelly that nobody else would play cards with them. The deck of cards in general was, no doubt, created with the possibility of making up time passing games.

Yes, the cotton gin and the printing press were concocted by great minds looking to further the world. But certain things take boredom.

You need a mother and a father for some inventions. A mother takes care of your needs. She provides you with food and clothing. She carries you with her for months doing so. Then your father figures out junk for you to do keeps you from driving your mother crazy.

I think invention comes from a two-parent home.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Had Time To Build On This Week's Features

I’m back from a little hiatus and ready to update the weekly features.

This week’s top five is Lego Star Wars sets I need to repair:

5. The Tantive IV – This is going to take a lot of work and, although it’s a pretty accurate set, it is low on my priority list.

4. The Death Star – This will simply be various small repairs to the multiple rooms. I knew this would be an issue when we decided to get it for the boys for Christmas.

3. Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter – This gets a higher rating because I need to have something to fly around and dog fight with #1.

2. The Mini-scale Millennium Falcon – The best Star Wars ship ever is sitting on the shelf above my desk without its top gun turret, its satellite dish or it’s landing gear.

1. X-Wing – The wings are close to complete but missing a few pieces and I know there is more than one R2-D2 around somewhere. This, too, sits upon the shelf above my desk. Yes, I stole it from my kids. Don’t judge me.

This week’s cool-ass thing you will never own is a time machine. Though you may want to travel into the future to fight Morlocks (or was that the past? or another dimension?), ensure John Connor is born or save the world with your rock band’s music, the space-time continuum is far too delicate to be trusted to regular people like you or me. Besides, I think this technology is at least five years off, still.

This week’s sign you are a nerd is that you’ve chosen to keep your shirt on while swimming without having a medical condition requiring you to do so. So what if your back is hairy, you have a roll or two too many or you have a third nipple. Just grow a pair and lose the t-shirt. Trust me you’ll be less noticeable exposing whatever you’re trying to hide than you will be with a practically see-through layer of cotton form fitting to your torso.

This week’s nemesis is inflation. When my father talks to me about how much things used to cost, I want to puke. If only I’d taken my paper route more seriously, we could have had that lake house.

This week’s lesson learned is to write ahead of time when you know you’re going to be out of town for the week and you write a blog. Wi-fi is not guaranteed everywhere you travel.

This week’s Star Wars quote resembles comments I made to my sons on the drive home the other day: “Watch your mouth kid or you’ll find yourself floating home.”

Please keep reading and check back next Sunday when I plan to introduce a new weekly feature.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Keep Something In Front Of You To Look Forward To

The last four days have seen no post because on Monday morning, I went off the grid.

I'm using Jack Bauer terminology, but what I did for the last several days was far less dangerous than anything featured on 24 unless you are ridiculously bad at handling fishhooks or insist on going into the woods after dark without DEET. I was on a fishing trip.

Since I'm nowhere near organized enough to prepare four posts ahead of time, you all got the shaft. I left you without any new posts since the last time I had wi-fi access. Perhaps I've left you with a craving that needs to be filled. Maybe you were sitting around with a void in your heart that my blog would have normally filled. Perhaps absence of my posts made your heart grow more fond of them. Or perhaps you realized that your life went on without reading this page. (Please let it be the void, please let it be the void.)

While you may have lived sans new posts for the last few days, I've returned with a gem. Yes, yet another unsolicited nugget of life wisdom from Transformer Generation Dad. Get your pen and paper ready or turn on your printer or do whatever you have to do to create a hard copy of this one because you're going to love it.

Maybe if I can keep the suspense building even longer, you'll forget I was going to tell you anything at all.

But seriously, I've devised an ingenious new method to taking road trips. Read carefully.

We all know that the drive to your vacation destination is far better than your return drive. You start out psyched that your getting away from your day to day routine. Each new mile comes with a feeling that trouble is in your rear view mirror. The anticipation as you pass landmarks that signify your destination is nearing builds to a crescendo.

On the other hand, the drive home is filled with the silence and solemnity of a funeral procession. Adventure now sits in your rear view mirror and trouble looms on the horizon. The relaxation and break from the monotony has ended. All you have to look forward to tomorrow is work. And really, who ever looks forward to work?

But what if excitement and anticipation were a part of your return trip? What if there was a way of making it home without ever having realized that's where you were headed?

The secret is this: Make every road trip a multiple location trip and start with the furthest away. That long first drive is tolerable. You're excited. Let it work for you. Drive as far away from home as you can, stay for a few days and then schedule short stops on your way back. The stops only have to be a few hours a piece, but leave an extra day or two on the end of your trip to fit these in.

Going to see the East Coast? Enjoy the lobster in Maine as you sit near the Atlantic and watch the waves crash into the picturesque lighthouses. On your way home, stop overnight in the mountains of New Hampshire or Vermont. Then wake up and hit Philly to see the Liberty Bell or Niagara Falls, depending on your direction. Once you start looking at your return path with this technique in mind, you will notice all sorts of opportunities that aren't that far out of your way.

This is the ultimate tool for the procrastinator. You will get to feel like your vacation is stretched out to the last possible second. You will inch closer and closer to home without having to acknowledge that the fun will be ending soon.

If you really want to make the final leg of your journey exciting, plan some sort of big party for the exact day of your return. See if you can somehow schedule it at a friend's house so you won't have to worry about cleaning up the next day. Then, fix the alarm clock in your hotel room so that you purposely oversleep. The adrenaline of trying to get on the road and make it to the party on time will make that last day of driving just fly by. You'll come rushing in the door, just in time for the bash and appreciate it all that much more.

This way, your vacation ends with you waking up, hungover, on the floor of your own house. Every moment leading up to that was a mad rush of anticipation. You left yourself always looking forward to the next thing until you ended up at home. Or a close friend's house.

(Note: If you are successful in staging the party at a friend's house, make sure they live very close to you)

As you stagger to the bathroom to prepare for your first day back from work, you'll see I'm right. It's all about looking forward to something and not dreading what comes next. Being well-prepared for work is overrated. Better to come skidding in sideways, looking like a mess. That way, you force people to ask questions about your vacation due to your physical appearance and you get to relive all the memories again via anecdotes around the water cooler.

Good luck, road trippers. Just remember to thank me when this works out swimmingly for you.

Monday, July 12, 2010

While Enjoying The Open Road, Try To Stay On It

Long drives result in great scenery. You end up crossing changing terrain and usually passing through multiple weather patterns. Emerging from a rainy area around the time the sun is setting can create some breath-taking skies.

On a long drive with my sons the other day, my youngest was practically perched on my shoulder the whole ride. He wanted to see everything. I finally let him sit in the front seat and I found myself glancing over to see the look on his face as he took it all in.

It reminded me of how I used to be at his age. Hell, I’m still that way.

In fact, I’m that way too often. There have been too many instances to count where I take my eyes off the road, while driving and try to point out some natural phenomenon to my wife, only to be rudely interrupted by the rumble strip along the side of the highway as it calls attention to the fact that I am slowly drifting off the road with its high pitched fart noise.

But anyway, it did my heart good to see my sons staring out the window as they passed trees and rock formations. While I felt the slight sting of fear at the yellow diamond signs that warned me of deer crossing, they expressed excitement at the potential of seeing a deer.

No matter how often you’ve driven a stretch of road, drive it again with a wide-awake, young, excited kid. You’ll either see things you never noticed before or you’ll remember feeling the same way the first time you drove it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lured To This Week's Features

This week's top five is my favorite fishing lures. Notice they are my favorite lures so that tells you that their success in catching fish has little to do with how their ranked.

5. Frog - It's nice to cast a weedless frog into the weeds and watch for something to zip out and take a bite at it. And if nothing does, you can just pretend it's a real frog and make it swim around for fun.

4. Spinner Bait - My dad and brother like these because of their success in attracting a variety of species. That makes me like them because I'm too lazy to switch lures very often.

3. Johnson's Weedless Spoon - My brother once found one of these under a porch and then caught a Northern Pike on it. My other brother caught his first muskie with one. Despite my lack of success, it carries fond memories.

2. Floating Rapala - This is the one lure I've actually had a lot of success with. It seems to be my go to lure for Largemouth Bass.

1. Beetle Spinner - My sentimental favorite because it was pretty much the only lire my grandfather would use.

This week's cool-ass thing you will never own is your own R2 unit. Not only would it follow you around beeping and squealing in a comic manner, but you would never have to worry about taking your car to a mechanic. Any problems would be taken take of as you drive.

This week's sign you are a nerd is your reaction to LeBron James' announcement. Instead of showing any emotions of calling a buddy to talk about it, you went straight to the last several years stats and tried to extrapolate which of the new big three would be the leading scorer. Then you crunched more numbers to determine the Heat's official odds of winning the title next season.

This week's nemesis is computer solitaire. It presents a constant distraction from the many other activities I should be participating in.

This week's lesson learned is not to roll your lawnmower over a metal pipe. Even if you really think you have the blade high enough to clear it, it's best not to take the chance.

This week's Star Wars quote is: "Don't you call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight glob of grease!"

I will remind you here that there is not a weekly Chuck Norris joke because you all did not vote to include it in the weekly features. Don't blame me. You brought this upon yourselves.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Taking Notes & Approaching The Point Of No Return

Writing on this blog is the closest I have ever really come to keeping a journal.

I have recently been thinking about keeping a journal. Not the lock on the cover, deepest darkest secrets, who I think is neat and who I think is smelly kind of journal. What I have in mind is a much less productive and enlightening type of journal.

I’m considering keeping a video game journal.

I’ve mentioned before that age is taking its toll on my video game dominance (see The Brett Favre Of Gaming June 23rd). While I’ve, admittedly, lost a step or two on my reaction time, I’ve also lost what I refer to as Enemy Placement Retention (or EPR). EPR is the ability to restart a level after losing a life or after a day of not playing a particular game and being unable to accurately recall which enemies will appear at which precise times in the level or the precise methods by which to defeat said enemies. EPR might be called memory in layman’s terms but that’s merely semantics.

EPR is exactly what makes me believe a video game journal may be a sound idea. I would be able to make notes regarding where I left off on Bioshock. I could document important information from Fallout 3. Tecmo Bowl passwords would be instantly at my fingertips. I could keep a comprehensive list of the best order to defeat the Mega Man 1-6 bosses in without having to constantly pause the game (much to my sons’ chagrin) and use my iPhone to look up the walkthroughs that some other nerd published online.

Much like HGH did for Barry Bonds, my recovery time between bouts away from a game would be greatly abbreviated. I would no longer need to restart a game where I left off and die three times before I regain the hang of it. I could take a few short minutes to flip through my journal and remember that Sam Fisher should use a sticky camera to distract the security detail outside of Third Echelon’s headquarters before opening fire on any of them. I would be ready to roll on my first attempt.

This journal could sit in the drawer where my controllers rest. Each time I reach in to begin a new session, I would see the journal and be reminded of its benefits.

As you can see, I have all the details worked out. I’ve put quite a bit of thought into this. Yet, there remains a problem. I hesitate to move forward on my plan of keeping said journal.

To keep a video game journal is to take a further step into the twisting, sinister abyss that is nerd-dom.

I’ve long considered myself less of a Dungeons & Dragons nerd and more of a Can’t Buy Me Love nerd. My tendencies, my likes and dislikes, my vocabulary, put me in the nerd category. However, I’m merely a decent haircut, a new wardrobe and a recommendation from a moderately popular person away from fitting seamlessly into normal society without anyone guessing what lies beneath. In fact, I’ve lived on the fringe between regular Joe and geek for years since graduating form high school. I was relatively well-liked through college and convinced a pretty girl to marry me.

But decisions need to be made from time to time that place this entire persona in jeopardy. Months ago, after a great deal of hand-wringing, I went forward with my decision to read a Star Wars graphic novel (see I Fear I Came Out Of Hyperspace Too Close To The Geek System from March 16th). I’ve littered the shelf above my desk with toys and action figures that have been stolen or conned one way or another from my sons. I’ve stocked my t-shirt collection with Marvel and Star Wars themed clothing.

Each time a choice that threatens to jam me more permanently into the category of nerd presents itself, I find it only responsible to take some time to consider its potential effects. I worried during sleepless nights through each of the aforementioned dilemmas. Each time, the irreparable crack that I have left in the mask of my regular guy disguise has caused me pain. I’m slowly destroying a work of art that it took me years to create.

However, what is to be left behind is simply me. After all the years of hiding it, it is making its way out. You can’t hide the nerd inside.

And so I suspect that, within a few days, I will have a black and white covered composition book tucked neatly into my game drawer, its pages filled with codes and tips. And I will thus be further down the slippery slope from which no sports car or expensive pair of jeans can pull me back.

Remember me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pillow? Yes. Anvil? No.

While my wife and I were in a pizza joint with my sons the other day, I looked over at the television mounted on the wall behind them. It was tuned to a game show featuring foam-clad people (ala American Gladiators) preparing to try and cross a baseball-themed obstacle course, complete with rotating giant bats and wobbling base paths, without falling into the giant pool of water below.

As I crammed another piece of pizza in my face (already two pieces past when I should have stopped) I realized it was the show I’d seen advertised a year or two back. On the original commercials, the poor contestants were attempting to cross a series of gargantuan pilates balls by bouncing from one to the next and failing miserably.

That’s going to get old, I remember thinking to myself then.

But as I spit flecks of half chewed pepperoni across the table through my laughter, I had to admit that I was wrong. The show is pretty good.

For the better part of our meal we watched as, more often than not, the contestants misjudged some portion of the course and fell into the water. But just watching them fall wasn’t the best part. The real treat came when somebody committed to their jump and did a Wile E. Coyote into the side of a foam barrier or mistimed their ascent up a tower and took a spinning post to the side, full cartwheel spinning to their soggy fate.

As I watched the hilarity ensue, I realized exactly why my sons and I enjoyed the show (I’ll point out here that my wife chuckled a few times but said she felt sorry for the contestants). It appealed to my most base level of humor. It wasn’t crude or vulgar, but it was simple. I like watching people get smacked around and falling.

And it’s not like this show, called Wipeout, was the first to figure out people liked watching this. The Three Stooges slapped each other around and attempted to tear off one another’s noses with pliers while we all had a good chuckle over it. Tom & Jerry, (like any other cartoon with even the slightest chance of the appearance of an anvil) saw the protagonists blow each other up and throw knives as we shot our morning milk out of our noses. The best clips on America’s Funniest Home Videos have always been the ones where somebody gets hit in the crotch.

People just like to see other people get hit by things. The assumption is that censors would remove anything that was actually dangerous from the show and that everything we watch is harmless. So we let ourselves go. We indulge that part of ourselves that would point and laugh at our buddy as he flubs the cool bike trick he was attempting and lands with one leg on either side of the railing before we ask him if he’s okay.

When you think about it, babies will hit their toys or stuffed animals and laugh about it before they can talk. Most kids go through a hitting phase and think it’s hilarious. They don’t know it could ever hurt anyone, so with that aspect of it removed, it’s hilarious.

I think allowing that part of our psyche to step out into the light and enjoy itself every now and then is healthy. If you don’t, I think violent tendencies might spawn and fester in the dark reaches of your brain and take over. I picture the proverbial pressure cooker (also used in cartoon, Woody Woodpecker I believe) filling with steam and resulting in a stabbing. This is why my sons have Nerf swords. Sometimes they just need to beat the hell out of one another and I'd rather have it be with a consequence free piece of foam than their fists or my video game controllers.

So, as I sat enthralled over my pizza, I was fully aware of how rudimentary the entertainment was and I accepted it. I wasn’t watching trash. This wasn’t Springer or one of the many reality shows where people are petty and mean to each other for no good reason. These contestants knew they would take a beating and look silly as they flipped around and into the pool. It’s just plain old fun.

But the show that followed was just mean. It’s called Downfall and it has contestants watching their potential prizes roll by on a conveyor belt. If they don’t answer the questions fast enough, the prize reached the end of the belt and plunged off a cliff where it was destroyed as it hit the ground a hundred feet below.

As I watched a fully loaded new dishwasher drop off the edge and nearly explode on impact I thought, this is just wasteful and wrong.

I’m not sure if this is going to come out right, but I’m just going to say it: If you’re going to try and entertain me by knocking something to the ground, I’d rather it be a human being than something somebody could use.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I Go, We Go, He, She, They LEGO

I must apologize to everyone out there whom I may have offended. The mistakes I have made recently are regrettable and embarrassing, yet I promise to do everything within my power to keep them from ever reoccurring.

I’m referring to my vile mistake regarding my pluralization of the word LEGO. I’m currently reading LEGO: A Love Story by Jonathan Bender and came across the following passage:

“Pluralizing the word ‘LEGO’ is one of the most common mistakes made by the average mom buying a set or the dad talking about his kids. It is also one of the largest pet peeves of adult fans.”

He goes on to quote a gentleman by the name of Eric Harshbarger who states, “The word ‘LEGO,’ when used as a noun, should only refer to the company that makes the product. Otherwise ‘LEGO’ is supposed to be used as an adjective. Thus, when referring to the pieces, neither ‘lego’ nor ‘legos’ is correct…rather one should say: ‘LEGO bricks’ or LEGO pieces.’”

I am sooooooooooo sorry.

I have been playing with these things for a long, long time and I have always called the pieces legos. I feel like such a fool. From this point on, in proper reverence to the greatest toy ever made (no this cannot be refuted, I have written it and will not take it back, thus, it is so), I will use the term LEGO according to these rules.

While I am not going to go back and change things which I have already written, please accept this post as a disclaimer that I am nothing but a lifelong true and loyal fan of LEGO and would never mean to harm its reputation or slander it in any way. I knew not what I did when I so haphazardly wrote “legos.”

I sincerely thank Mr. Bender for pointing out the error of my ways and placing my children’s-toy-related grammar back on the straight and narrow. I consider the use of proper terminology as one of the most sacred and established rules of the unwritten nerd code. I now know that to call a LEGO brick a "lego" is tantamount to failing to capitalize Star Wars or saying James Kirk. Where’s the T?

There, now that I got that off my chest I feel like I can move on. I’m sure LEGO will forgive me and would still be quite happy to allow me to continue playing with the LEGO bricks and LEGO pieces I currently own and purchase many LEGO sets in the future.

On a related note, I will, from this point on, not refer to facial tissue as “Kleenex.” I will ask my wife to pass me a tissue. Should someone ask me for a "Kleenex," I will refuse to acknowledge their request and will stare blankly at them until they are so unnerved that they leave.

Weathering This Week's Features

Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July weekend. In celebration of the independence of our nation, this week's top 5 is things that make America (not Ferrera) great:

5. Bald Eagles - These are some bad ass birds. And to think Ben Franklin wanted our national bird to be the turkey.

4. Rock n' Roll - Yeah, people from other countries rock too, but the best came here to do it right (see: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who...need I go on?)

3. White Castle - Mmmmm...sliders. What would our country be without obesity.

2. Freedom of Speech - The fact that any schmuck can start up a blog and not be censored is pretty cool.

1. Baseball - America's pastime has spread worldwide, but began here. Any sport where you can sit on your ass and drink beer and only have to pay attention about 5% of the time is truly American.

This week's cool-ass thing you'll never own is LeBron James' contract rights. He's beyond your reach. Although, with the business-like nature of sports these days, I sometimes wonder if a modern professional athlete would agree to do something else for twice the money. "LeBron, the Knicks can give you $30 million/year for 6 years, but I'll give you $60 million/year for 6 years to tie my shoes for me everyday."

This week's sign you are a nerd is that you refer to anything you possess by its model number. The Atari 2600 is a prime example. It's just an Atari, okay? Everybody will know what you're talking about.

This week's nemesis is the bugs that occasionally end up floating on their backs on the surface of my pool. They're icky.

This week's lesson learned is that weathermen are clueless. Honestly, I think there really is the Doppler weather radar and these clowns just look at it and try to guess like you or I whether the stuff over to the West on the map is going to hit us or miss us. "Twenty percent chance of rain today." You'd get better odds by betting any specific major league baseball player was going to get a hit every time he came up to bat.

Finally, this week's Star Wars quote is: "If this is a consular ship, where is the ambassador?" I think this is as angry as Darth Vader ever seems throughout the original trilogy.

Have a great week, y'all.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I'm Going To Make Summer My B----

I stocked up on beer, I set up the pool, I'm thawing various meats as we speak, and I have procured some incendiary devices. In short, I am prepared to rock this summer as a summer has never been rocked before.

As I look ahead to all the summer activities I have planned with my sons, my schedule is already filled through July. I've been wanting to pack in everything that summer used to mean to me as a kid. I want to share all my greatest summer experiences with them this year.

We've hit Six Flags a few times already and plan to again. We took our first swim in the yard today. Fishing is on the agenda. There are summer movies we need to make some time for. I have yet to hit a baseball game with them, but I hope to do that later this month. Evening before bed have been spent on video games in the cool of the basement.

What I think I really need to do, however, is slow down a little.

After all, isn't that part of a childhood summer too? The complete lack of responsibility and being downright bored from time to time is, perhaps, my greatest memory of summer. I remember, even amongst friends, sitting around under a tree and not knowing what the hell to do with myself. But even then, I knew this was a luxury.

I can't remember the last time I sat in the grass and wondered what I should do. There have been plenty of time that I've wondered what I should do next or what I ought to do. For while I've had my lazy moments, there has always been something to do that I was just avoiding. It has been many years since I sat doing nothing with another few weeks of nothing on my plate.

When we pull up ion front of the house after a late movie, picking them up from their friend's house, a long drive home from the amusement park, or any multitude of other summer activities and they get their second wind and chase fireflies around the lawn, I'm reminded to take it easy. Moments like that are what summer is made of.

You can plan a party for a month, you can schedule day after day of fun, but summer is organic. the best summer memories are going to come out of nowhere.

It's not going to be the blockbuster movie you caught on opening day that you remember. It's going to be the amazing sunset you stepped out of the theater just in time to see.

You won't remember who your favorite team was playing, but you will always remember the look on your kid's face as they watched the home run sail over the left field fence and high-fived you in excitement.

You won't keep track of how many hours you spent in the pool. But on certain days, when the wind blows just right and you close your eyes, it'll take you back to that day your son fell asleep in the floating raft as twilight hit.

Go out and grab summer by the balls. Make it yours. Soak in every minute. But let it soak you in every now and then, too. Don't move so fast that you miss the little things because that extra time and that laid back attitude is what it's all about.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Third Person Thursday - Mega Dad

His thumb strikes the A button like lightning. Plasma bursts shoot forth from his arm cannon, wiping out enemy after enemy before him.

“There’s a Sniper Joe!”

With rapid fire and well timed jumps, he makes quick work of him. no need to worry.

It took some getting used to, but all his old skills are coming back to him. This life seemed like it had been lived so long ago. He wasn’t sure he could ever return. Yet here he was, right back in the thick of it like he’d never left. He began to think he never really had, that it was just hiding inside of him all these years, waiting to be let out.

He wipes out Metalls and assassinates Pipis before they can drop their eggs. Flyboys poise no threat to him as he simply reaps the rewards that appear upon their defeat. He jumps from Goblin to Goblin with ease and jumps over the chains of fireballs spewed from Frienders. He punges into the water and begins to destroy robot frogs and fish.

“Watch out for the spikes!”

He’d forgotten about the spikes, but he’s quickly reminded of how deadly they can be. He loses two men, yet he keeps trying.

Before he knows it, he’s navigated his way through the underwater lair and taken out another target. He’s amassing powers left and right. There’s only one enemy left to take out before he can move on to the real challenge.

But again, there’s something he’s forgotten.

“Fire guys!”

The Changkey Makers, or Fire Guys, as his son so excitedly called them, aren’t the problem. They real problem is the beams of light that come after. If he doesn’t use his time stopping ability at just the right moment and collect energy pellets to keep it running as he descends, he’ll never even make it to the end of the level.

Somehow, he makes it.

After taking out Quick Man, it’s on to the evil doctor’s castle.

“Mecha Dragon! Don’t let him shot you with his fire!”

It’s all coming so easy to him now. The giant robot dragon, the moving room, the Guts Man tank all fall like dominoes to his agility and his plasma cannon. There’s not an enemy he can’t take.

Though he’s lost lives along the way, he has a stash to keep him going and several energy canisters saved up. Each acquired power is charged to the max.

“Ready to see the ending?” he asks.

There’s no answer.

He turns in the darkened room. Away from the light of the television screen, his eyes need a minute to adjust. Finally he sees him.

His six-year-old is out cold. At one point shouting out enemies, now he breaths heavily beneath his covers. His body still lies in the awkward position required to watch the screen past the father who sat at the foot of his bed.

“Guess we’ll finish up tomorrow,” he says and kisses the boy’s forehead.

Feeling like he’s twelve again is fun. He can almost see himself visiting his friend’s house and plowing through level after level as they snack on slices of salami in between.

But having his sons watch as he does it all again is even better. So, instead of continuing on as they sleep, he turns off the television and turns off the console.

He’ll be the hero tomorrow. He’ll beat Mega Man 2 when they can watch and cheer him on.

I'm Sorry, Chuck, Please Don't Kill Me

Apparently Chuck Norris jokes are not as funny to everyone else as they are to me. I regret to inform you all that this blog will not feature a weekly Chuck Norris joke. I cannot, in good faith decide to proceed with such a feature without a two-thirds majority in favor, lover of democracy as I am. The voting was actually dead even.

My link to the Chuck Norris joke page will have to suffice. It is with a heavy heart and sincere apologies to Mr. Norris that I move forward to our new poll for this month.

I was enjoying a bag of pretzel M&Ms the other day. Have you tried these? They're pretty good. But that got me thinking back to the days when there were only two M&M varieties.

My question to you, kind readers, is which M&M is your favorite. Let's see who wins come the end of the month.