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.

#BeatTheHeatIn4Words

The trending hashtag today on Twitter is #BeatTheHeatIn4Words. It is wrong that I instantly thought of Dairy Queen? My 4-word suggestion: Dairy Queen Turtle Sundae. This is part of DQ’s “hidden menu.” I think it used to be on their regular menu, but ever since this confusing Dairy Queen-Orange Julius merger, things have gotten a little weird. But whenever I think of caramel, whipped cream and hot fudge, I instantly think of the Sister Wives.

You see, the Sister Wives and I made a commitment to each other long ago. Our lifetime of depriving ourselves of hot fudge and caramel sundaes in the name of chasing junior-sized clothing will officially end once any one of us is on our deathbed. When we’re ready to take that final dirt nap, we’ve all committed to each other that at least three of us will be administering hot fudge, caramel and whipped cream in one final, delicious cornucopia of calories, gently poured down the throat of the dying Sister Wife in a flavorful fare-thee-well.

Death by dessert.

Proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

 

It’s only fitting (since our clothes are fitting, due to extreme dessert deprivation). The only discrepancy will be Sister Wife Heather, who confounds me. You see, she doesn’t like whipping cream. (I’m saddened, just thinking of all the fun she must have missed in college…).

There used to be a really great series on Showtime called “HUFF,” starring Hank Azaria, Blythe Danner and Oliver Platt. Blythe played this salty, sassy, aging mother. One of her card-playing friends was on her death bed after a major stroke, so Blythe gathered up her remaining friends, went to the hospital and administered the final solution out of mercy for her friend. That touching scene, and that act of friendship, has haunted me since I first saw it. This was well before I ever knew the Sister Wives.

Call us morbid, but we discuss and refine this final chapter of our lives ad nauseam. We plot our final move to Oregon with the same level of care and detail that some folks put into planning their family vacations. The last time we were together, Heather sought my reassurance that I’d be okay with generic whipping cream. She was concerned that if mine was a sudden, imminent death, she might only have time to do rushed shopping in a gas station or 7-11 on her race to the hospital. I acquiesced. I might be so drugged up as to not be able to taste the difference at that point. I also agreed to Cool Whip, if things got really desperate. Hopefully, she remembers to pack a large spoon.

The Sister Wives’ annual “glamping” trip is coming up shortly. (Glamping involves air conditioned, fully furnished housing with cable TV in a campground setting.) I’ve drawn up the legal documents, and I’ve already identified the notary in Baraboo, Wisconsin. When it comes to these kinds of commitments, we Sister Wives are. dead. serious.

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

 

Dave Dorman Gets a CLUE — His Art on Milton Bradley’s New Alien vs. Predator Edition of CLUE Game

I posted this image on Facebook today, and got several back channel messages about “How much did Dave make on this deal?” The answer? Zilch. Nada. Zero dinero. It was a work-for-hire deal for 20th Century Fox, so they can repurpose this image however they so choose. In fact, Dave had to buy his own game sample for his file, since Milton Bradley didn’t send him one. It was initially $40, but thankfully Dave forgot about it, and the post-Christmas price dropped down to $13, so he just bought it on Amazon. Hopefully this has dispelled the notion out there that if you (or your artwork) is famous, you’re wealthy because of it.

Dave Gets a CLUE!

 

That BBC Interview Interrupted by Children

I have great empathy for that sober-as-a-judge professor who was interrupted by his two younglings Friday morning during his BBC interview on the very serious nature of South Korea’s volatile political climate. (I also feel sorry for the background mom or caregiver–if she was the nanny–I hope she still has her job.) If you haven’t seen it already, it’s a riot — here’s a link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/world/europe/bbc-interview-toddler-interruption.html

Anyone who works from home can relate to this, altho’ not to the viral degree of this poor professor. Take, for example, the day I was trying to close a contract with a new client, and a certain elderly relative who shall remain nameless walked into my office with a fresh jar of their urine for me to inspect. As I wildly gestured that I was on a “Go To Meeting” call, this relative got more insistent about shoving said urine into my line of sight, as if I could magically diagnose a kidney or bladder infection by looking at pineapple juice. The silver lining was my friend Chrissy’s text message reply to my rant about it–a fluorescent stick figure cartoon re-enactment (via her new drawing program in the iPhone software upgrade).

Chrissy’s iPhone epic drawing – I snort laughed when I got it.

And then there was the time I was holding a business meeting in my dining room at my previous house. Jack was about two at the time, announcing for all to hear in his adorable third-person speak, “Jack farted! Again?” That story made it into the Wall Street Journal feature article I was in about the challenges of working from home. And to this day, no matter how much I yell, scream, create signs, send text message warnings, or use my menacingly quiet Batman voice when I’m dead serious, Jack bounds into my office the moment he returns from school, eagerly greeting me, initiating our secret handshake, and sharing his day.

Someday, about six years from now, I’m really going to miss those disruptions…

Buckle Up, Buttercups! It’s College Tour Season

My male partner in crime–my cousin Jeff–took his daughter Leah to an out-of-state midwestern college (that shall remain nameless) for a tour this morning. Aaaand…she won’t be going there. Today could’ve been fodder for an SNL skit. I know this because Jeff called me tonight while they were driving back. The hills of western Wisconsin are filled with cell phone dead zones, which made his retelling of the story even funnier, because he’d almost reach the punch line, and the comedy gods would disconnect the phone. We called each other back 15 times to finish the story.

Jeff and his daughter were led through the campus by two Asian tour guides–Seiko and Gunther. It’s not every day you meet an Asian guy named Gunther, so this was fast becoming a FARGO episode. Seiko, the girl tour guide, was a math major. I mention this factoid because it erupts later in the story. Lest you assume I am making an Asians-are-good-at-math crack, that might make you the racist! Gunther, on the other hand, was a fishing and agriculture major.

To Jeff’s great comedic fortune, this was Gunther’s virgin voyage at playing tour guide. Seiko did her level best to remain positive while trying to engage Gunther into the conversation. Every one of Gunther’s answers only served to further erode his credibility.

Some nondescript, generic university…

As Seiko was showing Jeff’s small tour group the dorms, she asked Gunther which dorm he lived in.

“Oh,” he looked down. “I commute from home.” From there, his reactions were barely on life support.

“So…Gunther,” Seiko asked with as much feigned chipper cheerleader chatter as she could muster, “What made you choose this Midwestern University?!?”

“I didn’t get into the Naval College I applied for, so I just ended up here,” he shrugged, his monotone voice devoid of any joy. Jeff started searching for hidden cameras. Surely this was some sort of a YouTube prank. Or Gunther was setting foot on campus for his first time, part of some witness protection program.

Like two warring, passive-aggressive newscasters, Seiko would try throwing the tour guide lead to Gunther, and he’d just toss it right back at her, with a “No, that’s okay, Seiko…I think you’ve got this…”

Seiko finally got Gunther to talk about one of the buildings. The math building, where Seiko spends most of her time. “Gunther, why don’t you tell our guests about this building?”

Gunther looked down, sullen. “You mostly only go into that building for math classes,” he mumbled. “Except for one class…that’s where I took my public speaking class.” At this point, Jeff and Leah couldn’t even look at each other, choking back their chortles.

Gunther had yet to master the walking-backwards-while-talking part of this gig. He had no self awareness of his personal space, narrowly missing many landmarks and human collisions. Other tour groups were glaring at my cousin Jeff, as if Jeff was somehow responsible for reining in Gunther! These are the ridiculous situations Jeff always finds himself in, getting blamed for stuff that is never his fault, which always make me double over laughing. Jeff can keep a poker face…until he catches a side glimpse of my shoulders quivering in silent giggles. Jeff, Leah and I were all in agreement. It was a very good thing I didn’t join them.

The best moment occurred at the very end, when Jeff overheard Seiko tactfully taking Gunther out of earshot and querying him, “Umm, Gunther…didn’t anyone show you the tour guide script?”

“What? There’s a script?!?” In that singular moment, Gunther demonstrated that he did, indeed, have a pulse.

Jeff spoke up, trying to make Gunther feel better about things. “Gunther, care to join us for lunch?” Leah glared at her father.

“Thanks, man. I can’t–my ride’s here,” he declined politely, his tilted head gesturing toward the nearby parking lot.

Jeff and Leah are pretty sure the middle-aged woman behind the wheel was Gunther’s mom.

 

 

Top 8 Things From 2016 I Won’t Be Missing in 2017

If you have kids at home, then you are more keenly aware of the nails-on-a-chalkboard trends riding the wave through 2016, thanks in no small part to YouTubers (and the Viners, before they were disemboweled). I’ve been thinking about all of the ear-itating stuff Jack has said and done ad nauseum in 2016, and I came up with this list, and in the 11th hour, added a new one of my own.

#1. Dabbing. That weird gesture where they put their head down in the crook of their bent arm. Or, as I call it incorrectly-on-purpose, just to agitate Jack, “Dabbling.”

#2. “Getting triggered.” According to Jack, all of the authority figures in his life “get triggered” at him. This is Generation Z’s nicer way of saying “pissed off.”

#3. Bottle flipping. Enough already with the fucking bottle flipping! Oy! That sound!

Bottle flipping, country style, with the cousins.

Bottle flipping, country style, with the cousins. I almost felt sorry for the birds for a nano-second. Almost. #SorryNotSorry

#4. “Deez nuts.” A viral YouTube video kicked off this phrase, which ended up on one of Jack’s favorite t-shirts, as in “Deez Nuts for President.”

The Quirky Video Where It All Began...

The Quirky Video Where It All Began…

#5. “In my butt.” Jack binge-watched “The Office” and got hooked on the character Stanley’s droll go-to comment for the location of pretty much anything.

Me: “Where’s my pen?”

Jack: “In my butt.”

Me: “Where’s my car keys?”

Jack: “In my butt.”

Me: “Where did I leave my coffee?”

Jack: “In my butt.”

Yeah, I hear this one several times a day.

#6. “I forgot.” I can’t blame this one on YouTube or The Office. This is Jack’s most consistent response to these queries:

  • “Did you brush your teeth?”
  • “Did you do your homework?”
  • “Did you practice your guitar?”
  • Did you bring home your Friday folder?

Oddly enough, I never have to ask “Did you play video games today?” “Did you watch YouTube?” “Did you eat?” “Where’s your phone?” (To which he’d reply, “In my butt.”)

#7. “Dank.” Remember a while back when “sick” suddenly meant cool? As in “Dude, that skateboard is sick.” Well, now the term I usually apply to damp, cold, musty basements has been flipped to mean “cool.” In an ironic sense. This new, stupid term is oft referenced as in “dank memes.” Fyi, parents, here’s the stoner source DNA on this adorable little catch phrase:

Those kooky stoners, always cutting edge on the catch phrases.

Those kooky stoners, always cutting edge on the catch phrases.

#8. Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP Holiday Gift GuideMy bff since kindergarten sent me this treasure beyond measure — surely Gwynnie is just doubled over somewhere laughing that anyone takes her seriously. Then again, if those rumors about steam-cleaning her vagina have an ounce of freaky truth to them…Time for me to put some perfumed vegetable oil in a sexy bottle with an eye dropper, start selling it on Etsy and call it a day. There’s a sucker born every minute…apparently with a split ends condition that I’d rather not know about.

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