Church Giggles

Muttley…a.k.a. my trying-to-be-silent laugh.

Darlene, my oldest BFF in terms of our years together, will be the first to tell you I am prone to the church giggles. She would know. She attended church with me from the time we were five and six. We attended grade school and high school together, so she will also tell you that I have a penchant for the library giggles. Next on this hierarchy are my giggle attacks whenever I’m tasked with being reverential and silent. This is an unnatural state for yours truly.

For example, there was this yoga class. Marovich, my other BFF since 7th grade, went with me to be supportive of our mutual BFF, whom I’ll reference as “Anonymous” for reasons you will see in a moment. Anonymous was in breast cancer recovery, so we gladly did anything she asked of us. But yoga is not my thing. There’s WAY too much silence. Like picking folks up from Midway Airport–Midway’s call letters should be changed to BFE, IMHO–you know I really love you if I agree to attend a yoga class with you. So there we all were…laying flat on our backs in this yoga class. Marovich was laying to my left. Across from the tops of our heads, Anonymous and her daughter were also laying there. About halfway through the class, the instructor asked us to grab our knees and squeeze them to our chests. We were doing as we were told when Anonymous grabbed her knees to her chest, ripping the loudest-ever yoga class fart, “like a bullet being shot from a pistol,” as Marovich would later recount. Just sitting here writing this, I’m giggling all over again. We tried collecting ourselves–Marovich and I–but it was GAME OVER. Anonymous and her daughter were also dying, which helped not even a little. Tears of laughter were rolling down my temples as I laid there shaking and hugging my knees to my chest. Every time I’d finally stop giggling, Marovich would start up again. And vice versa. It was an endless cycle of re-giggling. Then the instructor scolded us, which only made us giggle even harder. It was HORRIBLE.

I’m sharing this back story to help you understand how truly vulnerable I am.

So along comes Mother’s Day. Jack, my mom and I all went to church together. (Dave stayed home to paint his new cover for comic book creator Timothy Lim.) My mom sat between Jack and me. I think this was strategic on her part. She knows the two of us sitting right next to each other can be…shall we say…combustible? As an added bonus, and completely unplanned, one of my newer and hilariously funny BFFs was sitting in the pew directly in front of me.

Eventually, after much singing — we are Lutheran after all, so if there’s a sixth verse to a hymn, it will get sung — we progressed to the prayer portion of this Mother’s Day 2018 service. The visiting pastor was reading aloud all of the people’s names on the list that the parishioners had submitted to be lifted up in prayer. All was going well, when suddenly he announced that we should pray for Jim McNugget. Jack whiplashed his head to the right, looking at me, while I whiplashed mine to the left, locking eyes with him. Instantaneously, we were both doubled over, silently laughing. This was church, after all. I somehow managed to reign in the 10-decibel version of my laugh. Instead, I exuded more of this Muttley-style laugh, half silent, half sounding like a COPD patient with a gurgling, pleurisy-riddled lung. There may have been a snort at some point.

Our entire pew was shaking from our laughter. This was no easy task, given its robust, solid wood construction. Mom sat between us, stoic, completely oblivious to our shenanigans. Then I looked up and saw my BFF’s shoulders shaking in front of me. That made me giggle even harder. She relayed to me later that she heard me laughing and managed to hold it together, but then she spied from the corner of her left eye Jack all doubled over, mouth open in silent laughter, all red-faced. The visual was her breaking point. Thank God for small miracles that she couldn’t see me!

After church, my BFF and I analyzed the situation. Was there really someone in this world named Jim McNugget? Or was the pastor just hungry? Since our church service  ends around noon, this wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility. Could this have been his fast food Freudian slip?

Well, today we got our answer. The same person from last week was on the prayer request list for today. This week, he had a last name similar to McNugget. But it was not McNugget. And this did get me forming a future shenanigan. I do so enjoy seeing my BFF’s giggle-shaking shoulders in church. I may have to submit someone to the prayer list who wishes to remain anonymous. And that someone may get assigned a pseudonym for their last name…like Doodlesack. Or McCheese.

Advertisements

The Benicio del Toro-Fred Fenster School of Call Center Training

I’d research where AT&T is outsourcing their call center to before I write this, but since I’m still on the phone with them, I’m capturing this comedy routine while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Somewhere, there’s an AT&T Call Training Center with scripts being taught by THE USUAL SUSPECTS’ Fred Fenster…

So far, the first thickly accented woman I spoke to in my attempt to reduce our monthly bill sounded like the understudy to Benicio del Toro’s “Fred Fenster” character in “The Usual Suspects.” (Benicio intentionally invented his film accent to be virtually impossible to understand.) You know…THIS character:

Actor Benicio del Toro in my favorite role (so far).

The part of the conversation I did understand, the woman was trying to convince me that the “Deesh Network” was the way to go. But I know AT&T installation people. They have protected us from stepping foot on that electronic land mine. Even they won’t do the deesh. They divulged that if it rained, snowed or our verdant oak trees got a little too shady, the Deesh would be rendered impotent. That was all I needed to hear. Next, she suggested I downgrade to the Uverse 300 bundle. We were online researching everything she suggested. It turns out, anything below the Uverse 450 bundle is no longer in HD. Dave was visibly vibrating at the prospect of that. He’s an A/V savant. There are certain lines I am not allowed to cross. I’ve spent a bundle on their HD bundle for the past nine years. If only I had invested that money in Bitcoin instead…

Suffice it to say, Frederica Fenster’s solution did not satisfy me. She moved me up the chain to her supervisor.

The next person on the line, Frederica’s male supervisor, asked me for my “circumcise” in his thick accent. “Did you just ask me if I was circumcised?!?” I asked, in shocked disbelief. Dave slapped his forehead, or SMH in text speak. Apparently, this is how they pronounce “service address” in his part of the world. I live with a mumbler, so I’m pretty good at discerning the let’s-not-put-any-effort-into-it style of elocution. So it was Dave who understood and answered the supervisor’s question.

I’ve seen plenty of documentaries on call centers. I know for a fact that they spend an inordinate amount of time training offshore call center representatives how to enunciate English clearly. I do feel bad for them when they get saddled with these unbelievable, Americanized names like “Dustin” and “Jessica.” Why not let them just be themselves? Isn’t life hard enough, dealing with disgruntled customers like me all day? If you listen closely, you can almost hear the sheepish embarrassment in their voices when they have to introduce themselves.

I didn’t catch the name of Frederica’s supervisor. What I did catch was his same line of bullshit. He, too, explained that he could do nothing for me, despite my nine years of customer loyalty. He offered to send me to what Dave — also listening in on the call — interpreted as the “Fluoride Department.” Perhaps they could hear me gritting my teeth too tightly — a fluoride treatment could replace what I’ve possibly chipped off from tension. Maybe they have a “Temporomandibular Masseuse Department” for the ensuing TMJ, as well. We were put on hold for the third time. I slowly realized it’s how they say “Loyalty Department” over there. They should really call it the “Customer Disloyalty Department,” since only when the customer is jumping ship to XFINITY do they step in.

Now I’m on the phone with my third person. He’s the supervisor to the supervisor. He can hear me typing away, describing our call to you, Gentle Readers. I know I’ve now graduated to the big time. This gentleman speaks perfectly understandable, accent-free English. I didn’t catch his name, but I’ll call him Nebraska; I think he was raised in Johnny Carson’s neck of the woods. In five minutes’ time, he knocked $80 off of my monthly bill. I am beyond irritated that I didn’t negotiate this sooner. Lesson learned.

So, boys and girls, the moral to today’s story is, if you ever need a circumcision in the fluoride department, call AT&T Uverse. Just prepare to be on hold for a while.

The 31 Shows I Binge-Watched in 2017

Dear Friends,

If you’re looking for shows to binge-watch this winter, do I ever have the list for you! Full disclosure — we are premium cable, Amazon Prime and Netflix subscribers, so some of these shows may not be accessible to everyone. Okay, pull up a chair and let’s get started!

31 Shows?!? Seriously? What were you thinking?!?

  1. Mind Hunter — While the anachronisms of the years and the music choices drive me a little crazy, this deep dive into the genesis of forensic science has been really fun to watch.
  2. Hap and Leonard — Not since True Detective paired Harrelson and McConaughey have I seen such brilliant casting as partners James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Williams. These two are perfect together. It was fun to see Christina Hendricks again, too. I’ve missed MAD MEN so! This series is based on the books by author Joe R. Lansdale, all of which I binge-read — he has a new one out I cannot wait to get my hands on!
  3. The Patriot — Quirky, clever, and captivating. Also, this has probably one of the most haunting pieces of opening music of all the shows I’ve heard this year, second, maybe, to the opening music in Season 1 of The Affair. Here’s a link to The Patriot’s opening theme song (I’ll forewarn you, it’s a haunting ear worm. I’m hounding Jack’s guitar teacher to teach it so I can sing along, much to Jack’s chagrin). “The Train Song” by Vashti Bunyan: https://youtu.be/0AGD78mWcss
  4. Fortitude — This series, set on an uber-bleak isle off of Norway, is the site of murder and sci-fi mayhem. You’ll recognize two actors from Game of Thrones and in Season 2, Dennis Quaid plays a lead role brilliantly.
  5. Stranger Things — I talked about that previously, here. It gave me an ’80s-gasm from which I have yet to recover. They’ve avoided the anachronism issues I’ve had with “The Goldbergs.”
  6. Orphan Black — I have such a show hangover from this one. I sorely miss the believably different characters Kosima, Allison, Sarah — all played by actress Tatiana Maslany, who has given Streep a run for her money. And then there’s Felix…I miss Felix’s amazing flat. This series was so much fun!
  7. The OA — This series was super quirky and haunting. It made me yearn for more.
  8. Fargo — Regardless of the season, I love, love, love this quirky murder mystery series set in the Coen Brothers’ world. Watch them all.
  9. Channel Zero: Candy Cove — This was super creepy and probably fairly inexpensively made. It had a really interesting concept.
  10. The Missing — Season 1 is eerily reminiscent of the tragic Madeline McCann case, and this has your heart breaking for the parents of a missing boy and the long-term effect it has on them. I had to binge-watch Season 2 right away, as enamored as I was of the wonderful French “cold case” detective, Julien Baptiste.
  11. Catastrophe — This romantic dramedy is such smart writing, and I loved Carrie Fisher’s role in it. (I’m still so sad she is gone–watch her last documentary with Debbie Reynolds–haunting.)
  12. Sneaky Pete — This has that “Wait! I HAVE to see what happens in the next episode!” quality to it of Breaking Bad, and it was created by Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston, who plays one of the lead roles. It’s wonderful.
  13. Better Call Saul — I’ve had many friends tell me they didn’t like this as much as Breaking Bad. To me, it’s just as good, but you have to be more patient with letting the story evolve than you may have been in Breaking Bad.
  14. Preacher — Okay, I must admit, I wasn’t keen on seeing the Christ — the religious figure on whom I base my entire religion — having sex, but outside of that, this quirky story and cast of characters was a blast to watch. Tulip is the best, and oddly enough, you’ll feel empathy for Hitler. I know, that news is hard to swallow, but trust me.
  15. Taboo — Tom Hardy had probably one of the greatest sex scenes of all the shows I’ve seen in the past year. I can’t wait to see what happens in Season 2. Oona Chaplin is wonderful, too. I hope she is back.
  16. Mr. Robot — I’ll admit, I’ve only seen Season 1. After the “big reveal” at the end of Season 1, I’m truly unsure if I can move forward, but I’ll probably give it a go for a couple of episodes.
  17. Tin Star — I was happy to see Christina Hendricks in another great role, but sadly, her character wasn’t likable, nor were any of the characters. After the last episode, I sat and thought about it, and realized I genuinely disliked every. single. character — even Tim Roth, who played the lead.
  18. Longmire — There’s a comfort to watching this series — that slower-paced, unpretentious western vibe, and the Indian reservation and the customs they discuss are fascinating to me. If you loved Battlestar Galactica, you’ll recognize the wonderful Katee Sackhoff.
  19. Black Mirror — This is the Twilight Zone for the modern era. I love it. But frankly, if I had never seen the episode with the Prime Minister having sex with a pig, I’d be a little less traumatized. I’m told that episode was loosely based on some true story, which sickens me even more.
  20. Ray Donovan — I binge-watched Season 1 and I found the storyline of a dysfunctional Boston family transplanted in L.A. fairly enthralling, but somehow, I lost steam on this one. I’ll give it another go.
  21. The Americans — I am a couple of seasons behind, but I really enjoy this one. It’s not the level of Breaking Bad (can anything ever be?) but it’s engaging.
  22. Homeland — Now that they’ve gone PC and started foregoing the route of mentioning radical Islam in any storylines, I’m losing interest and finding this fairly dull.
  23. Westworld — This show taps into the zeitgeist of sexbot and artificial intelligence anxiety in such a smart way. The opening music and imagery is beautifully rendered and let’s face it — anything with Anthony Hopkins and Peter Weller…how can it lose?
  24. Big Little Lies — While it was hard to see Alexander Skaarsgard, my favorite True Blood vampire, playing the role of an abusive husband, the storyline and its stellar cast kept me hooked and let’s face it — anything set in a California backdrop…sigh…
  25. The Affair — I binge-watched Season 1 and have Season 2 waiting for me, but I’m sort of losing steam on this one, as much as I love Maura Tierney.
  26. Broadchurch — This is my current binge-watch show. I finished Season 3 last night. I adore the pairing of actors David Tennant and Olivia Colman. I also like how they wove the characters & tropes from Season 1 into Seasons 2 and 3. I wish for more, but alas, it’s a trilogy.
  27. The Walking Dead — Once they killed Glenn so brutally in Episode 1 this past season, I could never go back. It was torture porn to my mind. Now my friends just tell me what’s happening, and that’s enough for me. I don’t need to see it.
  28. Fear the Walking Dead — The Walking Dead set in California and Mexico made for some interesting scenes, but to be honest, most of the characters in this season aren’t terribly likable, aside from Colman Domingo. It doesn’t help that the lead actress is a Katie Couric look-alike, since she irritates the shit out of me.
  29. The X-Files — I was beyond thrilled to see new episodes, but I need to know what happened to Scully & Mulder’s child! Keep filming!
  30. Ozark — Justin Bateman (whom I believe also directs?) and Laura Linney do a great job of taking us on this incredible journey on how quickly things can get effed up when you are unwittingly involved in money laundering for a cartel, going from a simple upper middle class life in tony Chicago suburb Naperville, Illinois to running a crappy marina and strip club in The Ozarks. The last episode was breathtakingly shocking.
  31. Goliath — Billy Bob Thornton could read the phone book and I would be captivated, but he plays a down-and-out, alcoholic, underdog lawyer in this amazing series, fighting the evil corporation. (This series also gave me the blueprint for my retirement plan, which is to rent two long-term rooms in a seedy hotel, strategically positioned across the parking lot from a seedy bar/restaurant where I can get a decent burger, and within walking distance of Santa Monica Pier.)

Well…it’s clear I need to be doing more productive things with my time than binge-watching shows. That explains some unfinished paintings in my office/studio. I didn’t realize how insanely extensive this list was until I got to the very end! Maybe I’ll be better next year…

 

 

 

How to Live With a Hairless Cat

We bought her for Jack. After two weeks, his allergies to my gorgeous Persian cat triggered asthma, and a dear friend adopted her within hours of me posting the request on Facebook. So a hairless Sphynx cat came home with us in November 2014. We named her Jonesy, after Ripley’s cat in ALIEN.

Back when we still thought she was lovable…

We were so excited to love on her! The breeder told us they were an affectionate breed. The breeder also told us they loved to wear warm sweaters and tube socks to stay warm. Both of these predictions turned out to be dead wrong. I bought her an adorable red and black buffalo plaid fleece jacket. Jonesy rolled around on the floor moaning like she was having a seizure. I removed it. We tried petting her. She would contort her wrinkly, bald body into a u-shape beneath our hands to escape human touch.

Jack’s hopes for a loving pet were dashed. 

I noticed Jonesy the Cat spending more and more time with my mom and dad, who were living in our basement walk-out apartment. Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer the end of December 2014, and from that point on, Jonesy the Cat never left his side. Dad died in early February, and then Jonesy the Cat decided my mom was her new alpha. As much as her anti-social, nutty behavior drives my mom crazy, she never leaves my mom’s lap. When Mom tries to pet her, she continues perfecting her u-shaped body contortions, even for my mom. She steals pens and paint brushes from the first and second floor of the house and carries them down to my mom, plopping them at Mom’s feet as her offerings.

The most unusual part of Jonesy is her avoidance of Dave, who has always had a way with animals and small children. It’s become the running joke. Rather, Jonesy intuits which of our house guests fear her bald, alien-like appearance or simply hate cats altogether, and those are the victims on whom she foists her obnoxious, laser-focused attention. In the cat world, she is truly the Queen Asshole.

The other day, my BFF Marovich turned me on to the “My Talking Pet” app on her iPhone, which she was using on her employees at work to hilarious effect. Needless to say, I could hardly wait to make this 4-second video of Jonesy, below. I texted it to all of my friends last night and this morning. It got rave reviews. They all agreed it needed to be said. Then I played my new video for Jonesy the Cat. She watched, she sniffed my iPhone screen, and then she jumped down, non-plussed by my creativity. My advice for living with a hairless cat? If yours is as awful as ours, you will experience inordinate relief by doing something like this:

http://bit.ly/JonesieTheCat

While I normally disdain passive-aggressive behavior, this is how far this nasty cat has driven me.

I’ve realized in today’s society, only food and animals are politically correct and safe for comedians to mock anymore. Jim Gaffigan will be the last man standing. Then again, I’m expecting PETA to send me a cease and desist any moment now.

Top 10 List: How to Know You’re An Old Pro at San Diego Comic-Con Fandom

An SDCC 2017 attendee friend and I were chatting on the back channels of Facebook today. He shared this photo with me of the SyFy Channel’s sign, boldly listing “true SDCC fandom” characteristics. We were having a good laugh about how we would write this list. Can you pass our sniff test? I’ll bet those of you reading this will have some great additions to our list–feel free to chime in and share!

And speaking of SDCC 2017, I hope you got a chance to check out Dave Dorman’s new creator-owned WASTED LANDS novella and his AMAZING TALES OF THE WASTED LANDS pulp fiction magazine Kickstarter campaign! Here’s your handy link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mikebawden/amazing-tales-of-the-wasted-lands-inaugural-issue?ref=thanks_tweet

Are YOU a Pro at the Con? But can you meet MY criteria?

You Pass the SDCC Old Pro Fandom Sniff Test If…

  1. You can pronounce Bill Sienkiewicz’s last name correctly.
  2. You can correctly identify the actual creator–and for bonus points, the publisher–of the character you’re cosplaying.
  3. You attended SDCC back when the signage all over San Diego still said “Celebrating the Comic Arts.”
  4. You know why Ralph McQuarrie matters to the Star Wars universe.
  5. Creators know your name without even looking at your badge.
  6. You don’t drink a drop of liquid for 12 hours before you see a panel in Hall H. Also, you bring gum and a snack.
  7. You know 501st isn’t a style of Levis, but the world’s largest cosplay organization.
  8. You carry extra Sharpies in black and silver, in case the artists’ Sharpies go dry.
  9. You know where to find your favorite booths without relying on the guide book.
  10. You attended Preview Night when it was still exclusive to pros.

 

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there reading this!

I’m the rare, lucky person who gets a second chance at having a dad and being a daughter. I was adopted at 2 weeks of age, and the dad who raised me passed a few years ago, sadly, from cancer. But, with my unwavering bff Marovich at my side, I was fortunate enough to meet my entire bio-family (3 full-blooded siblings, and both parents) the day after I turned 40 in Albuquerque, NM, so today I’ll be celebrating later with my bio-dad and my brother Vince.

From my bio-dad, I inherited:

  • My laid back, easy-going attitude
  • My affinity for talking easily with anyone in any walk of life, and making lasting friends wherever I go
  • My unhesitating willingness to give a total stranger the shirt off my back, if asked. (Hopefully, if that occurs, I’m wearing a sports bra and we’re not in a public setting.)
  • A low tolerance for elitists

And since it’s Father’s Day, below my bio-dad Tom Turner’s pic, I must post my all-time favorite picture of Dave and Jack. It was a tender moment taken unbeknownst to them at Mike Ensley’s show, PensaCon, by my photographer friend, Fred Turnbow, whom I first met when I formed the still-active Production Services Association of Northwest Florida. (Fred and his family joined us and film commissioner friend Tom Roush for an unforgettable dinner one night with Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon.) Without further adieu, pics!

Me, Dad (Tom Turner) and My Brother Vince June 2017

Dave & Jack at PensaCon 4 years ago. Photo by Fred Turnbow. Sitting next to the Space Ghost Coast to Coast Voice Actor.

That Controversial Dave Dorman SAGA Blog? Yeah…That Was Actually Written By ME. Not Dave.

I get the alerts whenever Dave’s name is mentioned online, so when I read this morning that some woman blogger in Ireland wanted to “punch Dave Dorman in the face” for his blog on that breastfeeding SAGA cover, that was my final tipping point. So unbeknownst to Dave, I’m giving him an early Father’s Day gift. I’m posting this blog to end Dave falling on the sword for me, even one moment longer. For those of a certain age who remember that broken vase confessional on The Brady Bunch:

“Mom? Dad? It was me. I broke the vase.”

Yes. I wrote that controversial SAGA blog of Dave’s. And Dave, being the gentleman that he is, chastised me privately, but has forever remained silent about it publicly, despite the unfair ridicule and scrutiny he’s taken for it. He took the knives to his back from the all-too-quick-to-eats-its-own-young comic book industry to protect and defend me. But today, that cat’s outta the bag.

Dave is probably one of the nicest, kindest, most patient people you’d ever want to meet. I have 18 years’ worth of anecdotes to support my statement. So do many of you. Here’s one. When we were living in Florida, the local comic book shop gave out our private address to a budding artist who wanted to get into comics and was working full time as an engineer. The doorbell rang around lunchtime. We weren’t expecting guests, and this guy in khakis and a pocket protector, a total stranger, showed up on our front porch with his portfolio. Did Dave get mad? No. (I did. I felt our safety and privacy was violated and I let the comic book shop know my displeasure.) Dave generously invited him in and spent the next 45 minutes reviewing his portfolio and coaching him on his art. So, that small story encapsulates Dave in a nutshell. He’s always trying to help others get into art.

Here’s what actually went down that fateful day of the SAGA blog. Normally, Dave sits at the kitchen table and I whip out the MacBook Air and he gives me the essence of what he wants to say in his blog, then I write and refine it for the masses. He tends to write in passive voice, which drives me crazy. On that particular day, my ADD got in the way, pre-ADD meds. (To be fair, Dave does have this tone of voice that can sort of lull one into daydreaming mode.) I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the very nuanced way in which he was commenting on said cover. To this day, I don’t remember what he actually said because I zoned out. I was rushed, I couldn’t recall his exact quotes and I ended up writing my impressions of what I thought he said, but as Dave pointed out later, it bore no resemblance to what he actually said. I unwittingly unleashed an enormous, reputation-tainting train wreck. In my professional life as a journalist and ghostwriter, I record my book and article interviews and never make this mistake.

To take that old blog to the point of perpetuating some weird myth that Dave hates breastfeeders? Wow. That was troll cognitive dissonance taken to a new level of insanity. Yet those are the search engine terms that come up when you do a search on Dave’s name. All because of a mistake I made. It’s sad. I regret it every day. (I’m sure the former AT&T CEO Dave Dorman doesn’t much appreciate it, either.)

Rarely have I known a male illustrator who wants more women to have successful careers in comics and supports them more than Dave Dorman. He was first in line to see Wonder Woman before I did (and he loved it). He couldn’t wait! He has coached and mentored and supported women illustrators and writers for years. He respects women. All of those women who have gotten his free coaching and portfolio reviews at every Con for years? Crickets. They were sadly silent on the matter. No one came to his defense and defied the trolls, who were happily, busily framing Dave as a misogynist when NOTHING could be further from the truth. This one ugly controversy that I caused suddenly overrode much of the good he has done in the world. So there you have it. I’ve come clean. I needed to end this mistruth and injustice, once and for all. Now I’m sure there will be some trolls who say I’m just making this up. I’m not. I swear on our son’s young life this is the unvarnished truth, and I’m rather superstitious, so I don’t throw around phrases like that lightly.

Before the trolls out there release the Kraken, because I just know that bullshit is forthcoming, please know that I DO.NOT.GIVE.A.SHIT. about trolls’ opinions on this matter. And trolls, I already think you’re low-life, loser misogynists (and that includes women trolls as well) living in your parents’ basement, so don’t fuel me with further evidence. In fact, I’m shutting off comments on my blog for today as a pre-emptive strike.

To that woman “keyboard warrior” in Ireland, I’ll be only too happy to meet you in the boxing ring. Your ugly, violence-inciting hatefulness from behind the safe glow of your laptop is precisely what is wrong with this world.

 

 

How Little League Could Improve the “User Experience”: 12 Tips

Someday when my son is lying on his shrink’s couch recounting the many ways I’ve screwed up his parenting, I will point to this blog as proof positive that I actually attended some of his Little League games. How else would I have snapped this photo? Attending these games is typically Dave’s duty, but since he’s out of town, I’m stepping up to the plate (see what I did there?). I pray this Little League season ends before his San Antonio trip next weekend!

75, partly sunny, and a mild breeze– the only perfect weather Little League game of this season.

All of you User Experience (UX) experts out there, please apply your mad skills to improving Little League for the parents. The Sister Wives crack up at my total lack of interest in children’s sporting and performance events (but if Jack were playing indoor tennis or volleyball, this would be different) but as of today, my sports ennui is bordering on sheer hatred.

This morning’s Chicagoland shit show–a Little League game in 48-degree weather with pouring rain–was the final nail in my sports attendee coffin. There is no good reason, in my mind, to make parents and their children suffer like that. For those of us with hypothyroidism, that is, the majority of us living in the “goiter belt,” recovering from being over-chilled takes forever.

As I sat there fuming–for the 10 minutes I lasted on the cold, aluminum bleacher bench before retreating to the car and watching the game through binoculars–ach, who am I kidding? I don’t own binoculars. Anyhow, as I sat there fuming and attempting to text my displeasure to the Sister Wives and my friend Lisa with my 1 bar of AT&T signal, I began compiling a list of ways we could all improve the UX, from my perspective. Your results may vary. Soccer and lacrosse parents, feel free to borrow.

  1. Games should only occur on days when it is partially sunny and 75 with a slight breeze, and never on Mother’s Day or other holidays. And they should be scheduled for after 10 a.m., within 5 minutes of home.
  2. The concession stand should have indoor seating–aesthetically pleasing–and be sponsored by Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, or some hot beverage company of that ilk.
  3. The bleachers should have a clear, protective roof that doesn’t attract heat (this would also protect against the liability of being hit in the head by a foul ball, while I’m busily reading my phone and not watching the game)
  4. Cushioned seating with a back rest would be even better than aluminum bleachers.
  5. Even better? A cabana I could share with friends, like the ones in Las Vegas surrounding the pool, that would perhaps have a fire pit in the middle for making s’mores as we “watch” the game.
  6. There should be an app developed to vibrate and nudge me when my child is actually doing something interesting on the field.
  7. A wait staff taking orders from the parents would be a nice improvement – sort of like the local iPic movie theater in South Barrington I so adore with the gourmet sliders.
  8. Cocktails. Bloody Marys for the morning games, Leinenkugel Grapefruit Shandies for the evening games.
  9. A covered pathway back to my vehicle would be great–my clothing from this a.m.’s total drenching is still in the dryer.
  10. A televised game I could watch from the comfort of my warm bed and never leave the house would also be a nice option.
  11. Joining a league with Matthew McConaughey or Peter Dinklage’s children, so I could steal more surreptitious glances than Jack steals home plate…that could make me not mind it all so much.
  12. To add insult to this morning’s injury, Jack’s dirt-caked uniform from his slide into 3rd base–right as the game was being called due to rain–stained the powder-gray cloth upholstery in the car. So…this got me thinking an on-site car detailing service might not be a bad idea. Also, a baseball uniform cleaning service, delivered to my front door, would be much appreciated (the domestic goddess that I am not placed a panicked call to Sister Wife Maura for advice on getting the dirt stains out of Jack’s uniform).

P.S. After the game, we drove through that same McDonald’s I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. The Arby’s subterfuge agent was no longer working the drive’ thru’ window.

If you have any ideas to add to this groundbreaking list, feel free to add your comments!

 

The Last Unicorn: When Whimsy Trumps Practicality

“That better not have cost more than twenty dollars,” Dave Dorman declared. Loudly. Jack and I looked up to the right, whistling, shuffling our right feet in the dirt. (That is, if we lived in a house with dirt floors. After baseball practice, it’s sometimes hard to tell.)

The Last Unicorn, aka Jack.

Jack and I just curated the newest piece in our weird little menagerie of pranks and cosplay from, of all places, Around the Corner Candy  shop in West Dundee, IL, which turns out to have a rather clever collection of hilarious crap. (The other perfect job for me, aside from my other perfect job as proprietor of the “All Hands on Deck” cards parlor, would be curating hilarious crap. Here’s a math equation even I can grasp: Me + Unlimited Archie McPhee Credit Card = Bankruptcy.)

I can recall the first time Jack and I simultaneously spotted the unicorn head on the highest shelf in her shop two weeks ago. We both saw this glittery, rainbow glow spotlighting it, whilst a choir of angels held a very long “Ahhhhh” note, not unlike the sound effect when you start up your Mac computer.

“Why?” you might ask, “do you need a unicorn mask?” Weeeellllll…there’s Halloween. And then there’s…well, we could wear it to Cons, until we got too sweaty under all of that rubber. I didn’t need that retractable dinner fork and the googly-eyed glasses I bought in Key West, either, but they’ve sure come in rather handy over the years.

It all boils down to this: Make lasting memories. Jack and I will never forget how hard we’ve laughed together over this silly mask. Today we’re wearing it–er, bringing it–to my Godson’s confirmation party. My Facebook page will soon be flooded with pics of all of my relatives wearing it in some fashion. While Dave is off snoring in a recliner somewhere, Jack and I will be continuing our tradition of injecting hijinks into our family gatherings. (My Aunt Karen still hasn’t commented, or perhaps noticed, the appointment we added to her calendar a few weeks ago to get her anal fissures examined.)

You’ve only got one shot at earning a good tombstone epitaph. I suggest we all make the most of it. Here’s hoping mine will say “Beloved Mother, Friend, Prankster.” 

My Restaurant Alias

If you attend C2E2 this weekend, be sure to visit Dave Dorman at E-1 in Artists Alley. “E,” as in “Easy-to-Remember” and 1 as in, also easy to remember. (I’ll be there Sunday!)

Ever been waiting to be seated at a crowded restaurant when you heard the hostess yell out a ridiculous name? Yeah, that was probably me. In honor of Mystery Science Theater 3000s new comeback on Netflix, I’ll probably start leaving the name “Tom Servo” with the hostess, but my old standard is Nipsey Russell. This makes me giggle like a 12-year-old schoolboy every time I hear it uttered–loudly–in a busy restaurant foyer. I can’t explain it, but it tickles my ribs. Juuuuust riiiiight.

The Man. The Legend. Also, My Restaurant Alias.

One of my many favorite things about The Simpsons is Bart Simpson’s frequent prank-phone-call-to-Moe’s routine. For your reading pleasure, here they are. (I may have to borrow Ivana Tinkle one of these days…and hopefully, the hostess doesn’t threaten to carve her name into my back with an ice pick…)

Some Enchanted Evening

Bart: Is Al there?
Moe: Al?
Bart: Yeah, Al. Last name Caholic?
Moe: Hold on, I’ll check. Phone call for Al… Al Caholic. Is there an Al Caholic here?
(The guys in the pub cheer.)
Moe: Wait a minute… Listen, you little yellow-bellied rat jackass, if I ever find out who you are, I’m gonna kill you!

Some Enchanted Evening

Bart: Is Oliver there?
Moe: Who?
Bart: Oliver Clothesoff.
Moe: Hold on, I’ll check. (calls) Oliver Clothesoff! Call for Oliver Clothesoff!
(Marge picks up the extension)
Listen, you lousy bum, if I ever get a hold of you, I swear I’ll cut your belly open!

Homer’s Odyssey

Bart: (with Lisa) Is Mister Freely there?
Moe: Who?
Bart: Freely, first initials I. P.
Moe: Hold on, I’ll check. Uh, is I. P. Freely here? Hey everybody, I.P. Freely!
(the customers laugh) Wait a minute… Listen to me you lousy bum. When I get a hold of you, you’re dead. I swear I’m gonna slice your heart in half.

Moaning Lisa

Bart: (with Lisa)
Moe: Yeah, Moe’s Tavern, Moe speaking.
Bart: Is Jaques there?
Moe: Who?
Bart: Jaques, last name Strap.
Moe: Uh, hold on. Uh, Jock… Strap… Hey guys I’m looking for a Jock Strap.
(laughs from all) Oh… wait a minute… Jock Strap… It’s you isn’t it ya cowardly little runt? When I get a hold of you, I’m gonna gut you like a fish and drink your blood.

One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish

Bart: (with Lisa)
Moe: Hello, Moe’s Tavern. Birthplace of the Rob Roy.
Bart: Is Seymour there? Last name Butz.
Moe: Just a sec. Hey, is there a Butz here? A Seymour Butz? Hey, everybody, I wanna Seymour Butz!
(realizes) Wait a minute… Listen, you little scum-sucking pus-bucket! When I get my hands on you, I’m gonna pull out your eyeballs with a corkscrew!

Principal Charming

Bart: (in Principal Skinner’s office) Hello, is Homer there?
Moe: Homer who?
Bart: Homer… Sexual.
Moe: Wait one second, let me check. (calls) Uh, Homer Sexual? Hey, come on, come on, one of you guys has got to be Homer Sexual!
Homer: Don’t look at me!
Moe: You rotten liver pot! If I ever get a hold of you, I’ll sink my teeth into your cheek and rip your face off!
Skinner: You’ll do what, young man?

Blood Feud

Moe(answers the phone) Moe’s Tavern, where the elite meet to drink.
Bart: Uh, hello. Is Mike there? Last name, Rotch.
Moe: Hold on, I’ll check. (calls) Mike Rotch! Mike Rotch! Hey, has anybody seen Mike Rotch lately?
(barflies laugh) Listen, you little puke. One of these days, I’m going to catch you, and I’m going to carve my name on your back with an ice pick.

Treehouse of Horror II

Bart: with Mrs. Krabappel and one of the Sherri/Terri twins
Moe(answers the phone) Moe’s Tavern. … Hold on, I’ll check. Uh, hey, everybody! I’m a stupid moron with an ugly face and big butt and my butt smells and I like to kiss my own butt.
All(laugh)
Barney: Ho ho, that’s a good one.
Moe: Wait a minute…
Bart(hangs up and laughs)

Flaming Moe’s

Moe: (answering the phone) Flaming Moe’s.
Bart: Uh, yes, I’m looking for a friend of mine. Last name Jass. First name Hugh.
Moe: Uh, hold on, I’ll check. (calling) Hugh Jass! Somebody check the men’s room for a Hugh Jass!
Man: Uh, I’m Hugh Jass.
Moe: Telephone. (hands over the receiver)
Hugh: Hello, this is Hugh Jass.
Bart(surprised) Uh, hi.
Hugh: Who’s this?
Bart: Bart Simpson.
Hugh: Well, what can I do for you, Bart?
Bart: Uh, look, I’ll level with you, Mister. This is a crank call that sort of backfired, and I’d like to bail out right now.
Hugh: All right. Better luck next time. (hangs up) What a nice young man.

Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk

Moe: Moe’s Tavern, Moe speaking.
Bart: Uh, yes, I’m looking for a Mrs. O’Problem? First name, Bea.
Moe: Uh, yeah, just a minute, I’ll check. (calls) Uh, Bea O’Problem? Bea O’Problem! Come on guys, do I have a Bea O’Problem here?
Barney: You sure do! (everyone laughs)
Moe: Oh… (to phone) It’s you, isn’t it! Listen, you. When I get a hold of you, I’m going to use your head for a bucket and paint my house with your brains!

New Kid on the Block

Moe(answers the phone) Yeah, just a sec; I’ll check. (calls) Amanda Hugginkiss? Hey, I’m lookin’ fer Amanda Hugginkiss. Why can’t I find Amanda Hugginkiss?
Barney: Maybe your standards are too high!
Moe: [to phone] You little S.O.B. Why, when I find out who you are, I’m going to shove a sausage down your throat and stick starving dogs in your butt!
Bart: My name is Jimbo Jones, and I live at 1094 Evergreen Terrace.
Moe: I knew he’s slip up sooner or later! He unsheathes a rusty knife and heads out of the tavern.

New Kid on the Block

(Laura Powers with Bart)
Laura: Hello, I’d like to speak to Ms. Tinkle? First name… Ivana?
Moe: Ivana Tinkle, just a sec. (calls) Ivana Tinkle! Ivana Tinkle! Hey, everybody, put down your glasses. Ivana Tinkle!The PTA DisbandsThis isn’t at Moe’s; Moe is taking over as the substitute teacher for Mrs. Krabappel’s class during the strike
Moe: OK, when I call your name, uh, you say “present” or “here”. Er, no, say “present”. Ahem, Anita Bath?
(laughter from kids)
Moe: All right, settle down. Anita Bath here?
(laughter)
Moe: All right, fine, fine. Maya Buttreeks!
(more laughter)
Moe: Hey, what are you laughing at? What? Oh, oh, I get it, I get it. It’s my big ears, isn’t it, kids? Isn’t it? Well, children, I can’t help that!
Moe runs out of the classroom crying.

Homer the Smithers

Burns: I’m looking for a Mr. Smithers, first name Wayland
Moe: Oh, so, you’re looking for a Mr. Smithers, eh? First name Wayland, is it? Listen to me, you; when I catch you, I’m gonna pull out your eyes and stick ’em down your pants, so you can watch me kick the crap outta you, okay? Then I’m gonna use your tongue to paint my boat!

Bart on the Road

Homer: Hello, I’d like to speak with a Mr. Snotball, first name Eura
Moe: Eura Snotball?
Homer: What? How dare you! If I find out who this is, I’ll staple a flag to your butt and mail you to Iran!

Homer The Moe

(Homer is looking after Moe’s.)
Bart: I’d like to speak to a Mr. Tabooger, first name Ollie.
Homer: (excited) Ooh! My first prank call! What do I do?
Bart: Just ask if anyone knows Ollie Tabooger.
Homer: I don’t get it.
Bart: Yell out “I’ll eat a booger”
Homer: What’s the gag?
Bart: Oh, forget it…

24 Minutes

Ahmed Adoodie