Thursday, March 8, 2012

Say What??

The other night as we were watching Parks and Recreation for the 10th time, Leslie's reference to Tom (who hails from Bennettville, South Carolina) as being from Libya, some vivid memories of my childhood came to my mind.  That's right, the Libyan reference brought me back to my much younger years and reminded me of 3 times when I picked something up from a movie and caused some trouble.

A little backstory:  My family is pretty conservative.  My dad is a Lutheran minister and his dad was a Lutheran minister before him.  The only time we really heard cursing was the very rare occasion when my grandpa on my mom's side of the family would get angry (typically at a card game) and mutter "shit" under his breath - just loud enough for us to get a laugh out of it when we were kids.  Other parents didn't curse around us, partially as a result of my dad's position and partially out of respect for me being an impressionable youth.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have heard either of my parents say anything worse than "crap".

This is literally a postcard of the pool in Herington.
Weird to see it here exactly how it looked when I grew up.  
Both sets of grandparents lived between 10 and 13 hours (by car) away from us, so we would typically take a trip to see each set for a week each year and they'd come visit us for a week or two at some point.  For a large portion of my younger years, my dad's parents lived in Herington, Kansas - haven't heard of it?  It's okay, no one has.  My grandparents weren't the most active people, so Herington fit them well.  The only thing in town to do was visit the city pool - unfortunately that doesn't do much good in the middle of winter.  So then we were down to renting movies and playing cards.

Seriously, whose idea was it to make this a kids movie?
And how did it pull off a PG rating??  And parents today
think that stuff our kids watch is "too adult."

Somehow on one of these trips when I was maybe 6 or 7 we made it back to the house with Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  And for some reason we were able to make it considerably far in to the movie without one of my parents or grandparents realizing that either 1) I would be scarred for life or 2) I would have nightmares or 3) both.  If we had had the IMDB Parents Guide this movie never would have made it across the threshold.  I'm fairly certain that no one had any inkling what was coming, but as soon as I heard Eddie refer to someone as a "son of a bitch" I thought it was perfectly reasonable to use this new term of endearment in speaking with my older brother.

I never saw my grandma move faster.  She was out of the kitchen and in to the living room had snatched me up and dragged me to the kitchen before I could even plead ignorance.  I turned on the waterworks quickly enough that I don't think this one resulted in any major punishment, but I didn't call anybody in my family a "son of a bitch" again.

The next instance occurred at our house - once again with grandparents involved, but this time it was my mom's parents.  Unfortunately I can't remember the movie this time - something tells me it was Big Business or Turner & Hooch or maybe even Dick Tracy but IMDB isn't helping me jog my memory this time.

This time we were engaged in our other fun activity with our grandparents - playing cards.  For those of you that haven't played games with my family, we might be conservative, but that doesn't mean we aren't competitive.  Just ask my wife or brother-in-law who we have tried to bring in to the fold - they just don't understand the mean streaks that come out during gameplay.

Anyway, we were waiting for someone - I don't know if it was my sister or my grandma - and I was getting tired of waiting.  In my 9 year old brain, I was trying to come up with a word I knew I had heard someone say - something that would sarcastically tell whoever was wasting time to get out of their deep thoughts and get back to the game.  What came out was along the lines of "you only get 5 minutes of masturbation time."  That's right.  I can only imagine the horror my parents must have been experiencing at this point.  Clearly I had no idea what it was meant and clearly I wasn't trying to be disgusting.

Instead of being quickly removed from the table, my parents waited until bed time when my dad came to my bedside with the dictionary.  Dear God, that was an awkward "conversation".  Thankfully I had yet to discover the joys of the semi-scrambled Spice channel, so I didn't fully appreciate just how awkward it was.  Again, I learned my lesson.

Okay, Nathan, but what does all this have to do with Tom in Parks & Rec being from Libya?  Well for that one, we're going to have to get to Back to the Future.  I saw this one when I was pretty young as well thanks to my older brother and dad who got in to these movies.  As the youngest, I was blessed by the fact that by the time my parents got to me they had gotten tired of some of the rules and just sort of let things go.  And Back to the Future was the least of their worries.

For those of you that haven't seen the movies, Dr. Brown was supposed to build the Libyans a bomb with some plutonium they gave him, but he used the plutonium to make his time travel device and gave them a bomb casing filled with pinball machine parts.  They came back pissed.

At whatever age I was, somehow I already knew that the word for a gay woman was lesbian.  So, not having seen the word "Libyan" in writing and not having taken a World Geography course yet, I naturally assumed that "libian" was the masculine form of "lesbian" so the libians must be gay men.  Why Dr. Brown would need to build a bomb for a couple gay men who drove a big van, spoke gibberish and carried some heavy duty weapons never occurred to me.  Since it wasn't a topic of conversation that came up around the dinner table too often, I just went on thinking that Dr. Brown was attacked by angry gay men who didn't get their plutonium.  I'm not exactly certain when I realized how wrong I was about the Libyans.  I apologize for my ignorance.

I hope my wife enjoys this one since she gets mad at me when I give her a hard time about words that she learned by reading books, but didn't ever learn to pronounce correctly.  Not sure I have shared any of these experiences with her or anyone outside the family.  So, the question is, what kind of things did you say when you were a kid, or what has your kid said that just makes you go - "huh?"

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Princess Cakes

I have no idea what I should name this post, so Princess Cakes (what Marge just told the bullies that Bart can't get enough of) seemed as apropos as anything.  Today on the way home from work I was listening to the Almanac segment on the radio station I frequent.  This is a half-interesting, half-off-the-wall segment including different birthdays, deaths and other events that happened on this day in history.

One of the events today was the anniversary of the death of the horse that played Mr. Ed.  Wikipedia didn't confirm the date of Mr. Ed's passing for me, but if you want to learn more about how Mr. Ed was apparently like Elvis, feel free to take a look at the death section the Mister Ed Wikipedia entry.  Mister Ed's death didn't really do much for me, but then I started thinking about the implications of there ever actually BEING a Mr. Ed, a talking horse whose death we would recognize more than 40 years later.

Mr. Ed was introduced to the American public way back in 1961.  It was a simpler time - and as my wife points out - they were only just beginning to realize what they had with the television.  Kennedy's inauguration would be the first live televised inauguration the same year.  Talking people were just starting to get overdone - but the industry was revolutionized with a talking horse.  What else was happening in 1961 that might give us a glimpse in to why people would be entertained by a TV show whose lead character was a talking horse?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Jobs

For those of you who have spent a lot of time around me lately, you are probably getting tired of my updates on the Steve Jobs biography.  You could care less that he didn't shower often because he thought his diet of apples and carrots would keep malodor at bay.  The fact that he walked around the office barefoot a good deal of the time simply grosses you out.  And his relationship with Bill Gates and Microsoft is really none of your concern.  From what I've told you, you probably think the guy is an asshole, and quite frankly, he was.  So why do people like him so much?  What has made me continue turning the pages - probably as quickly as any book I've read since the Hunger Games?  It's a perfectly valid question - and one that, as I pass the halfway point, I'm still trying to answer.

Today, I think I got it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Who is the Idiot?

Last night, we attended Green Day's American Idiot at the Oriental Theater in Chicago.  Before I get in to my deep thoughts about Billy Joe's foray in to musical theater or my opinions about how this musical/rock opera/whatever you want to call it stacks up with some of the other musicals I have seen, I need to share a few pre-show observations.

What crowd do you expect with a cast like this?  
A musical based on a Green Day album draws the strangest collection of people I think I've ever seen.  There were grown up punks who you could tell have moved on from their hard-living, but their faces and tight jeans tell where they've been.  There were the stodgy old theater goers that probably have "season tickets" and likely wanted to throw up 15 minutes in.  There was the middle-aged gay couple with the leather pants - not tight leather, loose "Van Halen-leather" in Natalie's words.  There was a group of teenage girls whose parents must have dropped them off, screaming intellectual things like "You're hot!" at the lead (when we saw them before the show Natalie asked if they got lost on their way to The Vow).  There was fat Harry Potter wearing shorts and a tshirt on a 30 degree night in Chicago, fashion-challenged Dorothy who needed to click the heels of her ruby slippers and return home to find some clothes that matched, and my personal favorite - the girl with the Green Day t-shirt.

I'm sure we've all heard the unwritten rule regarding wearing a Green Day shirt to a Green Day concert (or Counting Crows to Counting Crows, or whatever band to their own show) - but this girl must have needed an update to the rules for this situation.  My personal opinion is - not only is the tshirt a little too dressed down for the theater, but you can't wear the band t-shirt to the rock opera based on their album.  Though the next time I seen Mamma Mia, I might have to find an Abba shirt at Goodwill and blow some people's minds.

If you've gotten this far, I give you a choice - there will probably be spoilers in the coming paragraphs, so if you plan to see American Idiot at some point and want to be surprised, stop reading.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Risky Proposition

I haven't posted anything sappy since MLK Day, and with Valentine's Day upon us I figured, why not keep up the holiday tradition here at VLV?  Many of you have probably seen the headlines (you can enjoy the whole moment here) about Matt Grevers, the Olympic swimmer who proposed to his girlfriend over the weekend on top of the medal stand.  As a former high school swimmer, its nice to see swimming in the headlines at a time other than the Olympics.  For the record, if I had tried something like that, I would have suffered an unceremonious 3 foot drop because my wife would have pushed me - not in a surprised/shocked Elaine Benes way, but in a "I don't have a weapon, so knocking him on his head on a hard floor is my best defense" kind of way.

I'll grant him that it was a unique way to pop the question, and it appears that this particular proposal had a happy ending.  Unfortunately, every once in a while this happens making the whole sport of public proposals a terrible lottery that ends with lots of winners and one loser that will never rebound from that kind of public humiliation.  Or you just end up like Michael Scott.

In addition to all this thought I'd given to proposals over the last couple days, I got a call from a good friend last night who, after several years of my wife badgering him, finally popped the question to his long-time girlfriend.  So I guess with all this love in the air, I thought I'd share my own story of one of the most terrifying nights of my life.

Back in 2005, I had just graduated, spent a month in Greece, three months continuing my career as a pool boy, and a month looking for a job.  I had no money, my wife was in grad school, we were both living with our respective parents and I thought - what a perfect time to propose!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Author or "A whore"?

As anticipated, the wildly popular "Chicken Sh!t" guest blog by DLee yesterday broke the floodgates of guest blog content and now everyone is clamoring for a spot on VLV.  Okay, by everyone I mean one more person. That person is Toddy Todd himself and he's come out of the gates with a vengeance.  I'm feeling slightly guilty for taking all of this content from Anub, but I'm not sure this post "puts random to shame" like Anub is clamoring for.  Here is Todd - analyzing the difference between an author and "a whore".  Sorry James Patterson, you're first on the list.

Last night as I was getting ready for bed I noticed on my night stand was a paperback copy of the novel “Private” by James Patterson, a recent birthday gift from my mother. This is the first in a new book series by Patterson. He’s mostly known as the bestselling author of the Alex Cross series, the Women’s Murder Club series, the Michael Bennett series, the Maximum Ride series, the Daniel X series, the Witch and Wizard series, the Middle School series, and the Holy Shit When Does This Guy Not Write series.

OK, I made up the last one, but really is there anyone out there willing to admit they’ve read all of this crap? Of course there is and that’s why he keeps pushing this stuff out. I first read “Kiss the Girls” in 1995. It was the second book in the wildly popular Alex Cross series which then turned into an unusually forgettable Morgan Freeman movie and we all know there aren’t too many of them. Anyway, I actually enjoyed the book immensely. It was my kind of book. It had short chapters so my wildly short attention span wouldn’t drift away and the end of each chapter had that hook, big or small, which made me want to read on to the next chapter and so on and so on until I had finished the book. Shortly after that I went back and read “Along Came the Spider” which is the first book in the series. I enjoyed that as well. Over the following three years I read each of the books that were published in the Cross series.
Where is Morgan Freeman?  

It was shortly after that when a friend’s wife introduced me to the Women’s Murder Club series. I got through about the first ten chapters of “First To Die”, when I realized something. The bad guy in this story was no different than the bad guys in the Alex Cross books I had read. The only thing that’s different was the locale (San Francisco vs. Washington DC) and the hero became a heroine(s). I never finished the book and I started to become wary of the author as the endings of the Cross novels were becoming more and more ridiculous. I then started noticing that whenever I walked into a book store there was a new Patterson book being displayed or if I looked at the NY Times Best Seller list, there was that same Patterson book. The guy had become a friggin whore. I was done. Hell, in the last 4 years the gigolo has authored or co-authored 37 novels. That’s right 37! He’s crapping these things out at the pace of practically a book a month. What does that translate into for pages per day? Come on!!! That’s more crap than Anub used to produce each day at 1:15pm after lunch at Ole’. Hey, I’m willing to give Patterson credit for the dedication he has to his craft, and I certainly appreciate the thought my mother put into the gift (she was the one who bought “Kiss The Girls” for me in ’95) but take a vacation already James. You’re making the rest of us feel worse than we already do.

When are Trey Parker and Matt Stone going to dedicate a South Park episode to this guy and turn him into some Transformer/Swamp Thing/Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle mutation? It reminds me of this:

In closing I went to Google Images and put in the term “James Patterson Crapping Out Books”. The first 8 images were either of Patterson or one of his book covers. Somehow this was the next image that came up. It may not mean anything, but it’s funny all the same.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chicken Sh!t

I'd like to thank my first ever guest blogger, Mr. WWPVWD himself, DLee for this Gem (no, not the delicious fried chicken treat).  Needless to say, lunch today was interesting.  And for the record, none of those of us involved in the conversation intend to stop eating our share of the 24 chickens the average American eats each year, but it really makes you stop and think - where do they all come from??  Without further adieu:

So, I’m eating my very pretentious Chicken Cobb Salad from Panera (sound the beacon!) at lunch today, and I start to wonder, how many people are consuming that very same salad today, and how many chickens were needed to fulfill those orders. Now, take it one step further, how many chickens are consumed by Americans in general on a daily basis. Screw that, how many chickens are consumed yearly???? It was an answer I needed, pondered (more than Christian) and required. So I asked.

Interestingly enough, my co-workers had never wondered what the answer to this mind-blowing question would be. In fact, one could ask why the hell I care. Was it because “I was loaded!!! Ok?!?” No, it was because the chicken on some very subconscious level must fascinate me. Well, I needed answers… even though I probably, in my best Jack Nicholson impression “can’t handle the truth!!!” So, we went on a hunt for the answer and here’s what we found…

The average 8 fingered, 2 thumbed American (sorry Anub!) consumes 24 chickens each year. There are 307,000,000 U.S residents (and who knows how many illegal immigrants hiding under Kurt’s desk). That equates to 7.4 billion chickens consumed by Americans each year alone. 7.4 BILLION!!!!! Manage that!!!!!

What kind of land space must that occupy? If you lined up 7.4 billion chickens, could you get to the moon (please don’t drop your pants, I’m not talking about that moon). You bet your sweet ass you could. In fact, if you lined up all the eggs, from those very same chickens that are consumed by Americans, you could get to the moon and back 5 times! On a side note, don’t try that at home. I guarantee you won’t be struttin’ that ass if you try.

Anyway, I digress. Where is the anger from the chicken-loving community? Who will rise up to defend these birds from insane amounts of procreation, egg-laying, slaughtering, and ultimately roasting on a rotisserie? They need a voice (god I love the beefier Christina Aguilera on that show)! They need to be heard (if someone can get KReba to shut-up for 5 minutes)! They need a coalition (Max can you develop a logo?)! They need…

Ahh, screw it. It’s Thursday. It’s time for Crown Brewing, It’s time for a Special Forces IPA. And, I heard they have 50 cent wings. J

Peace out until my next guest appearance.


Again, a big thank you to DLee.  The gauntlet has been thrown down.  Who's next?  And for all of you Arrested Development fans out there - enjoy some chicken dancing.