It’s Christmas Eve

“It’s Christmas Eve. It’s-it’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be.”
– Frank Cross 1988

Here’s a couple things about Christmas that I think about.

Christmas vocabulary. The English language has a lot words that you never have occasion to use. Like “logician.” Or “metallurgy.” So as your talking to your boss or your friends, drop some holiday lingo. Like “yuletide” or “boughs.” Throw a “yore” in there. “Parson Brown” if you really know what you’re doing.

I love the radio station that is broadcasting Christmas music 24/7. It’s the only time of the year you can hear the Jewish Elvis sing “O Holy Night.” Singing “Silver Bells” and “Winter Wonderland” along with Johnny Mathis forces you to happy. Try humming along to “Silver Bells” without smiling. You can’t do it. It’s like trying to smile when you look at the FICA deduction in your paycheck. Or watching reruns of “Chips.”

Does disco remind anyone else of the holidays? Back in 1978 Santa brought my sister the “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease” soundtracks. So now anytime I hear disco, especially “How Deep Is Your Love” or “If I Can’t Have You” or “Disco Inferno,” I think of Santa and snow. It’s infected my whole perspective on the 70’s. Disco is cold. I swear Rudolph had a ‘fro and sideburns…

The best week of the year is the time between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s the only time of the year where you can show up for work and nobody, not a single person, expects you to do a damn thing. If I had the TV’s and the space, I’d set up Guitar Hero Rock Band, a Wii, and a huge flat screen gaming console dedicated to Call of Duty right in the office.

Last thing, because I still need to get Mom some stocking stuffers and shovel the driveway. And do it all with the girls. But it’s Christmas Eve so I’m hoping some of that magic will take hold of the nervous systems and keep them in check.

Best Christmas Gifts Ever:
Super Jock. Remember this guy? I do. Back in ’78 we had field goal kicking contests. Amazing.

Magnetic NFL Football. Santa brought this on Christmas Day 1977. vibrating_football_game The only downside was that it came with the teams that were in the last Super Bowl which meant that I got the Vikings and the Raiders. Which wasn’t so cool for a kid from Pittsburgh in the 70’s. But this thing, even though it was completely useless as a toy, just looked so cool. And you got to put the numbers on the players.

Stop Thief. This. Was. Awesome. stop-thiefThe music that hand-held thing played when the thief got away was freaking excellent.

Published in: on December 24, 2008 at 9:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Snow Day: Part Deux

Turns out everybody overreacted. Or they really just wanted an excuse to start Christmas vacation a day early. Snow plow came by and after I dug out that wall of snow the plow always leaves at the end of your driveway, I figure we head to the mall and do some Christmas shopping for Mom. Get a couple gifts, maybe some stocking stuffers.

This was a mistake of historic proportions. Along the lines of Admiral Nagumo not launching a third strike on Pearl Harbor, the Vikings trading for Herschel Walker and New Coke.

It was a mistake, to paraphrase Men at Work.

We managed to get through lunch with the standard issues or issue. Bailey wouldn’t finish her chicken nuggets but did decide she needed to dip both elbows in her ketchup while singing Christmas carols. So a normal meal for Bailey.

We quickly went through a couple stores because Bailey and Kinsey were unable to maintain complete control of their motor skills. At point I angrily motioned for Bailey to come over next me.

“But Dad, I’ve being looking for this,” as she pulled a kid sized Adrian Peterson Vikings uniform off the rack.

You know had she pulled a Roethlisberger uniform off the rack she might have gotten away it.

After a couple more incidents like this, I had had it and decided we’re outta there. We get in the car and Bailey grabs her small purse with chapstick and her play cellphone inside. I wouldn’t let her bring it into the mall because she’s Bailey. And there was no doubt in my mind that she would have lost it. She pulls out the cellphone and pretends she talking to somebody.

“Bailey put the phone back in the purse.”

“Daddy quiet, I’m talking on my phone.”


“Geez…I’ll have to call you back.”

Instead of having her pass the purse up front, I told her to give it to Rye. Giving her stuff to one of her sisters is a way better punishment than having me hold onto it.

Published in: on December 20, 2008 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Snow Day

Snow day today. Christmas vacation starts a day early for the girls and I’m home with them. Think about that for a second. You are 9 years old and it’s Christmas time. So you’re already more excited than a Bengals fan in the playoffs. Then you get up for your last day of school before Christmas vacation only to learn that it is a Snow Day. The only phrase more magic to a grade schooler than “Wake up, it’s Christmas,” is “Go back to bed, it’s a snow day.”

So I really can’t decide if this is going to be fun or annoying. Can’t be any more annoying than the Education Intellegentsia calling it “Winter Break” instead instead of “Christmas Vacation.” I mean do they really think they’ve fooled everyone?

Right now the girls are watching Scooby-Doo movie with Sandy Duncan. Remember that one? Original air date October 21, 1972. Wikipedia is cool. Back in the fall of ’72, evidently the only thing hotter than the Miami Dolphins was Sandy Duncan. Anyway, nobody likes Scoob more than Kinsey and Bailey. Bails just got up by the way after about 11 consecutive hours of blessed sleep. Rye is leafing through some of Mom’s marieclarie magazines. Ugh. Anyway the noise she’s making by turning the pages is ticking off Kinsey who is really into figuring out who is tormenting Ms. Duncan and the Mystery, Inc. gang on the set of Ms. Duncan’s new movie. Thankfully, she’s only going through each magazine tearing out all the perfume samples instead of getting dating tips. Except she’s sticking them in my face as I type this. Magnifique isn’t so bad. Diamonds is sorta run of the mill. Burberry’s new fragrance The Beat leaves a little to be desired.

So much to my chagrin, I’m trapped in the house watching Scooby and sniffing perfume samples because Mom had to take the 4-wheel drive to work. steelers-colts-19751The NFL Network better have something good on today because my day looks bleaker than Bert Jones’ chances of having a good day against the ’75 Steelers.

Published in: on December 19, 2008 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  

High Plains Driver

So the girls cleaned up at Early Family Christmas in Colorado. High School Musical everything. My folks and sisters also did a very nice job of outfitting them with church dresses. Rye and Kinz got new boots from my older sister. Rye received some nice brown suede looking ones and Kinz some black ones with some bling on the sides. But nobody was more blingalicious than Bails. Oh yeah, she was digging it.

We hit the mall with the kids on Friday and I helped Mom pick out her main Christmas gift. I couldn’t tell who was more excited. Mom because she got a real nice new winter coat. Or me because it was almost 50% off. Also spent some time playing Raving Rabbitts on the Wii display they had right outside of Dillards. You can actually compete against each other while dancing. I demonstrated my dominance by waxing Mom to “ABC” by the Jackson Five.

Anyway, the ride home was fairly routine right up until some point between Lincoln and Omaha. Have you noticed that the Midwest ends about Lincoln? It’s the last outpost before you enter something else. It’s not the mountains but it’s not the Midwest either. Maybe these are the high plains on which Clint Eastwood was drifting. Once we drove from Flagstaff to Las Vegas and it was pretty cool. But it wasn’t the desert and it wasn’t the mountains. That’s sorta the same kind of deal west of Lincoln.

The girls had pretty much had it by the time we crossed the Missouri River. What made it worse was Mom and I were listening to a Vince Flynn book while the girls engaged in what all siblings do at the end of long car trips. Terrorism.

First they spent some time singing different songs at varying decibel levels. Then they would take turns holding Bailey’s books just out of arms reach from her. Then Rye, who does this better than most adults, pretended she couldn’t hear anything Kinsey was saying but could hear what everbody else was saying.

Normally, I would have at least had a fleeting appreciation for the timing she displayed and the way she really, really sold it. Kinsey really thought at one point Rye couldn’t hear her. But we’d been in the car for almost 10 hours. That will test any Dad’s mettle. I lost it like Mike Gundy at a press conference.

You notice certain things when you’re in a car that long. For example, why is it that my side of the car is constantly steamed up? Mom’s side is clear. Kid’s windows? Clear. Dad’s window? Looks like I have a portable humidifier in my lap.

No matter how tightly you’ve packed and no matter how much diligence you’ve taken to place things correctly in order to take advantage of all the available space, you’re 5-year old has the uncanny skill to move the one bag she shouldn’t.

Make sure you’ve engaged the window lock.

Also your tolerance for drivers without cruise control is lower than the expectations for Tom Cruise’s new movie about the assassination attempt on Hitler. I’m still going to see it but I acknowledge I might be the only one. Regardless, Keeping a steady speed is not that difficult. Convincing John Madden that the Immaculate Reception really did start with a double-touch by Jack Tatum and Frenchy Fuqua? Hard. Driving a steady speed? Easy. Convincing a Democrat that the New Deal didn’t save us from The Great Depression? Hard. Keeping the needle at 75? Not hard. Arguing that grunge was anything more than the disco of 90’s? Hard. And dumb. Not driving like your foot has some type of motor skill disability? Easy. Yet you have people out there utterly confused by the concept. You’re buzzing along for miles at the same speed while the same genius in the Taurus with Kansas plates passes you 7 times. And looks at you like you have live pigs in backseat. The only thing worse is the guy who comes screaming down the on-ramp, passes you at warp speed, then changes lanes only a couple car lengths in front of you and sets his cruise at exactly the same speed as you.

Oh, that’s not annoying.

Published in: on December 8, 2008 at 11:09 pm  Leave a Comment  


I wrote this entry Saturday morning. But the wireless at the Town Suites either wasn’t working or was holding a grudge against me for making it work late into Friday night for fantasy football research and my college football recruiting fix. So it had to wait until tonight.

Couple stories upon our arrival Thursday afternoon. After we arrived at my younger sister’s condo in Denver, we headed to Red Robin with my older sis, her boy, another 1st grader like Kinz, and my folks and younger sis.

My folks have been staying up at my older sister’s place in Ft. Collins. Which has forced her to sleep in the same room as her boy while the folks take her bed. They have a cat. Well, not really a cat but more a beach ball with fur, four legs and stinky cat breath. Her name is Fatty. She’s quick for her size. Kinda like Jerome Bettis. If you put a black and gold #36 jersey on her she’d look like just like The Bus if Jerome were a small furry hovercraft. Anyway she comes bounding into the bedroom the other night and jumps right on my 6 year-old nephew who upon impact with Fatty says:

“Ooohhh, right in the giblets.”

Yeah, that’s funny.

My younger sister is what the folks at Strengths Finder would call a Collector. Her condo doesn’t have one of anything. She has an entire extra bedroom filled with bookshelves of crappy romance novels. The front of her fridge is covered with meticulously placed mangets holding a crazy amount of bumper stickers in place. The fridge looks like a collection of right angles. And with the amount of Sarah Palin stickers, you’d think she was ready to go Moose hunting. Good job sis! Also present are a decent sized inventory of hard back conservative books, Yankee Candles, shot glasses from nearly every state and Miller Lite. It’s like a small convenience store. If she had cigarettes and gas, she could run a business right out of the condo.

Anyway, we’re headed over there to have early Christmas this morning. My mom made homemade poppyseed roll. Mmmm…secret Polish family recipe. Don’t even ask, I’m not giving it up.

Published in: on December 8, 2008 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment  


We drove out to Colorado yesterday. Early Christmas with my family. Merry Christmas by the way. We were up at 4 a.m. and were on the road at exactly 4:57. Got the girls up about 4:30 and they were up faster than “The Super Bowl Shuffle” went to #1 back in ’85. It was amazing. Not that they weren’t excited to go, they’ve been counting down the days since Thanksgiving. But it was like we just gave up them each a two liter of Jolt Cola and a couple sugar packets. On a normal day it’s easier getting Cris Collingsworth to say something good about the Steelers than it is getting them out of bed. Not yesterday.

The trip was really uneventful for the most part. Stopped in Lincoln for gas and endured the stench generated by everything husker. We managed to hit the quinella when Mom and I listed to a book on tape and the girls watched some Scooby cartoons. That’s a lot of audio going on in the car.

Stopped in Ogallala for lunch. Forgot to get gas. So we had to stop at Lucy’s Café in Segewick, Colorado. Been there? The gas pumps are still the old school deals where you flip the lever on the side, watch the numbers spin to zero on the front before you can fill up. No digital anything. Can’t pay with a card outside. You have to go into Lucy’s General Store which is located right next to her café. The Pacifica looked a little out of place next to the two F-250’s and the Chevy Godzilla pick-up. Those boys out there don’t fool around. Segewick is right across the Colorado/Nebraska frontier. And there’s not much there on I-76. Western Nebraska is like suburban Chicago compared to I-76. I suddenly, and when I say suddenly I mean that same feeling General Custer had when he noticed he was outnumbered by the Sioux and Cheyenne, realized we forgot to fill up in Ogallala and were in a place that looks like the moon with double-wides.

“Holy Crap we forgot to get gas. Check and see how many miles till empty.”


“It’s over 70 miles to Sterling. We better hope Segewick is selling more than tobacco and pelts.”

That turned out to be a minor issue when compared to the road conditions between Segewick and Denver. The Colorado Department of Transportation did a great job of applying the de-icer to the interstate. Road was wet but not really slick. Except they only had applied it to the right lane and that not only made the left lane slushy and icy but it also forced everyone to use one lane. You get stuck behind a semi going 55 and it’s like driving in a hurricane of dirty snow, water and crap. We made it but it looked like the entire car was encased in this weird grayish-black substance to which Riley made the following astute observation.

“Dad, it looks like one giant car booger.”

Published in: on December 5, 2008 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Legion of Doom

As our new President goes about naming all the cool kids to his White House kickball team, it reminded me of something. Last summer when we were driving to the Ozarks, for the now infamous Ozarlympics, the girls were watching the portable DVD player. Not the one that is actually installed in Mom’s car but the little mini one we bought 3 years ago. Why you ask? Because we have had the damn car DVD player fixed and/or replaced three times and it still doesn’t work. So we gave up and now we just bring the old one.

Anyway, the girls were watching “The Challenge of the Superfriends” DVD’s I bought them for the trip to Florida a couple years ago. Do you remember this classic Saturday morning cartoon from the late 70’s? It succeeded the original Super Friends cartoon with Wendy, Marvin and Wonderdog. It had the original cast of Superfriends but added the Wondertwins along with Flash, Hawkman and Green Latern along with Black Vulcan, Apache Chief and Samurai.

Think hard. You have to remember it. Next to Scooby, it might have bee the next coolest Saturday morning cartoon.

Anyway the opening to the show is pretty cool with Lex Luthor running down the roster of the Legion of Doom – “Banded together from remote galaxies are 13 of the the most sinister villains of all-time- The Legion of Doom! Dedicated to a single objective, the conquest of the universe. Only one group dares to challenge this intergallatic threat – The Superfriends!” Which kinda reminded me of what Prez-Elect Obama is doing right now. He’s banding together a collection of the greatest liberals of all-time in a quest to resurrect FDR and re-create The New Deal!

I’m having a little trouble filing out the roster however. I mean, who the hell is going to be Lex Luthor? Or Brainiac? Luthor is leader of the Legion. Is that Obama himself? I think it’s probably Michelle Obama. Because Brainiac is a super-intelligent evil android from the planet Colu. That’s Obama.

Al Gore is Black Manta. Or Ack Ganta as he’s called now. He seeks to make things as they once were. When the creatures of the sea ruled the world!

Captain Cold? Hillary. C’mon, who else could it be?

Scarecrow? That’s Nancy Pelosi. They have the same skin texture. Alec Baldwin is Bizarro. If you look up Bizarro you’ll find one of his characteristics is twisted, erratic and irrational behavior. Hence, my decision.

Giganta is Rosie O’Donnell. They’re both big, annoying and stole their superpowers from somebody else. Giganta from Apache Chief. Rosie from Madonna.

Grodd the Gorilla? Michael Moore. Like Grodd, Moore was just a simple apeman until some aliens gave him superpowers and now he wants to take over the world.

Solomon Grundy? Ted Kennedy. Google them both. Separated at birth. Ted Kennedy stronger than Obama!

Toyman is Al Franken. Toyman is kind of an irrelevant member of the Legion. He was annoying and not very sinister but somehow managed to get a gig with the Legion. Among Luthor’s many questionable leadership decisions is picking Toyman for his team. Sounds a lot like Franken. Annoying. Democrats in Minnesota couldn’t find anybody else to run so they picked him. Now he just won’t go away.

That leaves the Riddler, Cheetah and Sinestro. If you have ideas let me know.

Published in: on December 5, 2008 at 9:52 am  Comments (1)