Friday, May 31, 2013

The Scarlet Nurple

Today, some random thoughts:

Do nurples ever come in a color other than purple? Has there ever been such a thing as a green nurple?

Take a look at this picture:

What is wrong with this picture?
This is a picture of a shirt I bought in Morgantown, West Virginia (home of the West Virginia University Mountaineers) in 1997. (I had served in the area as a Mormon missionary in 1985-1987.) I had the shirt for about ten years before The Wife pointed out what was wrong with the shirt to me. See if you can figure out what it is.

Has anyone ever actually broken their neck from going "breakneck" speed? I'm sure it's happened after people have hit something. But, unless you are on a rocket ship, I don't think any kind of speed is going to break your neck.

A yellow nurple?

Okay, comic book nerds, how do you pronounce "Namor, the Sub-Mariner?" Is it "sub-ma-reen-er," like "submarine" with an "er" on the end? Or is it "sub-mair-en-er," like the Seattle Mariners with a "sub" on the front? I really don't know. (And I have always wondered.)

While we're here, is Namor pronounced "nay-more," or "nam-or," or "nuh-more?" (I've always thought "nay-more," but what do I know?)

I bring this up because the other day I heard comedian Patton Oswalt pronounce the Marvel Comics villain Thanos (the bad guy revealed at the end of The Avengers movie) as "than-ohs," with the "than" rhyming with "man" and the "th" being soft, like in the word "thin." I always thought it was pronounced "thay-nohs," (again with the soft "th.") I still think I'm right, but who am I to question Patton Oswalt?

Have you figured out what's wrong with the shirt yet? No, it's not that the shirt needs to be ironed. That is not going to happen. (If you think I'm going to iron any shirt, let alone a sixteen year old t-shirt, you are certifiably crazy.)

I don't think anyone who is actually hoity-toity would ever use the phrase "hoity-toity."

Here's a picture of a truck that came through my work a while back:

Despite what you might have thought at first glance, that second letter is a "K," not an "N."
The name of the company is "AKAL TRUCKING," but on first glance, (and second glance) I was sure it said "ANAL TRUCKING." The choice of the font they used is rather unfortunate. (It reminds me of another truck I saw once that was from "TRUD INC." It took me several minutes to realize it wasn't "TURD INC.") (Apparently I have difficulty keeping my mind off of the potty humor.)

I always get confused when I try to do the "L" on the forehead. Which direction should it be? If I turn it so that I can see the "L," it looks like a "J" to everyone else. But, if I turn so it looks like an "L" to everyone else, it looks like a "J" to me. I'm not sure what to do. (I think this makes me a loser.) (Or maybe a joser.)

Did you figure out the problem with the shirt? It is supposed to say "WVU Mountaineers." Instead, it says "WVU Mountainers." It's missing an "e" on the end. I find this amazing for two reasons: A) I had the shirt for almost ten years without noticing the missing "e," and 2) I can't believe those swindlers in Morgantown sold me a defective shirt!

You know, come to think of it, I believe there was one time when I was on the receiving end of a scarlet nurple.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Lawn? It's Just Dandy

Here's a question for you lawn care enthusiasts: Do they make a product called "Feed the Weed?"

I ask this because a couple of weeks ago I bought a product that I thought was called "Weed and Feed." It's supposed to have a two-fold purpose: A) kill the "Weed" and 2) "Feed" the grass.

So, I looked at and followed the directions on the bag and spread the stuff all over my yard. And then I waited for the weeds to die. And I waited. And I waited. And I waited.

They didn't die. Not only didn't they die, they seemed to flourish. They may have even started to multiply. There were seemingly more weeds after I applied the "Weed and Feed" than there were before. That's why I wonder if I used the wrong stuff. Everything would make more sense if I had somehow purchased a bag of "Feed the Weed" by mistake.

[Just to be clear, when I say "weed" I am mostly referring to dandelions. (I am not referring to marijuana. There has never been marijuana growing in my yard.) (That I know of.)]

There always seems to be at least one yard in the neighborhood where the dandelions are out of control. In our neighborhood, that yard is mine. Before you judge me too harshly, let's first consider the reasons it's good to have dandelions in the yard:

1) If it weren't for the dandelions, what would the kids pick when they want to make a bouquet for me or their Momma? Would they pick the real flowers? Or the neighbors' flowers? It's a good thing to have those dandelions around.

2) Blowing the white, fluffy seeds off of the dandelion has been a favorite pastime of kids for generations. Who am I to stand in the way of generations of childhood fun?

C) They add some much-needed color to the yard. (Sometimes a good green yard can be a little too green.)

D) After reading The Lorax by Dr. Suess, and then seeing the movie, I'm afraid to hurt the dandelions because they remind me too much of the Truffula trees. (And no one wants to live in a world without Truffula trees!)

E) The bees need them for pollen. And bees are good, right?

Okay, okay, so the real reason I have so many dandelions is because I don't really like to work in the yard, and I'm not very good at it. Some people really like to work in their yard. They enjoy it. I tell those people they are welcome to come work in my yard any time they feel like it. They usually look at me like I'm crazy. (I probably am.)

But hey, I'm trying. I bought the "Weed and Feed," and I used it. (Unless, of course, it was "Feed the Weed.") It was supposed to kill them. It didn't. No matter what I do, they seem to come back. They're unstoppable, like the Terminator.

Really, I've only found one thing that is able to stop the return and growth of the dandelions: Winter! So, check back with me in December. I promise you there'll be no more dandelions. (For a while, at least.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

This Is NOT a Sitcom

Very early on in our relationship, The Wife and I realized we agreed on a lot of things. One of those things was the inanity of how married couples are portrayed on television sitcoms. You know the dynamic: the husband is a dunderheaded buffoon who would like nothing more than to get away from all of his responsibilities so he can go golf or do something with "the guys;" meanwhile, the wife is always right, usually harried, and often a nagging shrew.

Many incredibly successful television shows have been built on this kind of relationship. Shows like Home Improvement, King of Queens, even, at times, The Cosby Show. The worst offender was probably Everybody Loves Raymond. A lot of people liked and watched these shows. I watched much of them myself. And I enjoyed a point. And then their portrayal of the married relationship got on my nerves. If being married meant living like that, why would I ever bother get married?

That's why I was glad Amber and I agreed about those type of show.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, last week, in an "attempt" to be funny, I wrote a column that made the relationship between Amber and I seem a lot like those television couples. In it, I came across as a helpless, incompetent slug, unable to make a decision or do anything on my own without the help, guidance, or direction of My Wife. Meanwhile, Amber came across as either existing only to take care of my every whim (cooking my food, doing my taxes, picking out my clothes, etc.), or as bossing me around to keep me on the straight and narrow.

These characterizations are not accurate. Not even close.

Hey, I like self-deprecating humor as much as the next guy. (Okay, probably more than the next guy.)  But, if I was as incompetent and lame as I often portray myself to be, why would Amber stay with me? I do have some skills. There are some things I actually do around the house. I do the dishes and help with the laundry. I attempt to do some cleaning, and I take care of the garbage.

And, I like to think I'm a pretty good father. I play with the kids. I read to them (A lot.) I take them to the library and to the park. Could I do better? Of course. But, I'm trying. And I genuinely enjoy being around them. (I'd much rather hang with the kids than go golfing with "the guys.") (And I would prefer to be with Amber than with any other person in the world.)

If I'm a better person than I was before I got married, it's not because Amber "put me on the straight and narrow," or "fixed" me in some way. It's because when I'm around Amber and the kids, I want to be a better person. I want to be more responsible and actually act like a grown up. I want to be a good example.

Meanwhile, Amber works very, very hard around the house. She does a lot to help our family flourish. Does she do this to cater to my every whim? Of course not. She works to take care of us because she loves her kids and she loves her husband, and she does whatever is in her power to make sure that our family is taken care of.

(That's not to say that she never caters to any of my whims. She very often will surprise me by doing something she knows will bring a smile to my face, like planning a vacation to someplace I'd always talked about going, or buying a basketball standard for Buzz's birthday because she knew both Buzz and I would love it.) [Reminder to myself: I need to cater to some of Amber's whims a bit more often. Because I love to see her smile.]

But hey, if you read last week's post and laughed, that's okay, too. A large number of people used to laugh at Everybody Loves Raymond every week. Just know that what I wrote last week is not representative of my relationship with my wife. It was full of cartoony exaggerations and generalizations. Much like those sitcoms Amber and I dislike.

I'd like to think that the relationship that Amber and I have bares little resemblance to those sitcom marriages. I'd like to think that our relationship is built on mutual respect, mutual responsibility, and mutual admiration. (I do, after all, love her very, very much!)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My Life Without My Wife

Mother's Day is coming up this weekend. My thoughts turn to the two most important mothers in my life.

My Mom did a great job with her kids. (Obviously. Because I'm so awesome.) I will always be grateful for everything she has done for me.

And then there is My Wife. Not only is she an amazing, incredible mother to our children, she is also my best friend, personal chef, tax accountant, home repair person, wardrobe advisor, travel agent, moral compass, and so, so much more!

I shudder to think what my life would be like without My Wife. (Shudder. Shudder.) It's scary to think where I'd be.

For example, where would I be without My Wife as my tax accountant? I haven't done our taxes since we got married. If I didn't pay taxes for six years, someone would probably notice. I'd get a visit from some IRS agents. There would be an audit involved. I'd go to jail. My life would be miserable.

Where would I be without My Wife as my personal wardrobe advisor? Well, she's the one who found me my extra-tall shirts. So, without her I'd be walking around with my butt crack showing. That would not just be bad for me, that would be bad for society in general.

Also, without My Wife to guide me, I'd probably wear my green suit more often. (It's pretty scary.) Not only that, but I'd also be wearing all of my super-skinny ties that I got back in the 1980s. And, I'd probably have some weird, experimental facial hair, like a goatee or a soul patch or possibly some kind of lame attempt at muttonchop sideburns. (And yes, I might even have a mullet. It's happened before.)

Without My Wife, this Mullet Man might be unleashed again on an unsuspecting world.

Without My Wife as my home repair person, there would be a lot of things around the house that didn't work. Most notably, the shower wouldn't work. (It broke. She fixed it.) Without a working shower, I'd be pretty stinky. I'd be a stinky guy with a mullet and some patchy muttonchops with his butt crack showing from beneath his shirt.

Without My Wife as my travel agent, there are a lot of places I would never have gone. I would never have summered at Cape Cod. (And by "summered" I mean spent the better part of a week.) I would never have gone to Disneyland again. (And it is, after all, the happiest place on earth!) There are places that I'd always talked about going, but never got around to back when I was single and had all that free, single-guy time. Places like the summit of Mount Timpanogas, Timpanogas Cave, Calf Creek Falls, and the Mirror Lake Highway. But, thanks to My Wife, I've now been to all of those places!

Without My Wife as my moral compass, I'd probably go back to not going to church very often. I'd have seen a lot more "R" rated movies. I would have spent a lot, lot, lot more time watching mindless television. I would have spent thousands of dollars on comic books and DVDs of television shows that would have just sat on my shelves. (Would I have needed The Man From UNCLE, the Complete Series, that comes in the cool attache case? No. Would I have purchased it anyway? Yes. Would I have ever watched it? Probably not.)

(Of course, without My Wife I would have never seen a single episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8, so I guess not everything is a positive.)

Without My Wife as my personal chef, I would still probably be eating out five to ten times a week. Digesting that much greasy fast food for so long would not have been good for my health. I probably would have had a heart attack by now. Or be up over 300 pounds. Or both.

Without My Wife, I wouldn't know the joy of eating good, healthy food. I wouldn't eat whole wheat bread. I would never have tried things like kale, artichokes, eggplant, persimmons and mangoes. Now, I know I often use sarcasm as a tool. But, I am actually not being sarcastic when I say these things. I mean, who would have thought this beef-eating farm boy from Idaho would actually look forward to the chance to eat some eggplant, or something called "spinach pie?"

My Wife was a very good cook when we got married, but, amazingly, she keeps getting better and better and better at it. (And, like I said, her starting off point was pretty good.) Now, she is a phenomenal cook! Homemade, fresh-baked bread! Homemade jam! Oatmeal bake for breakfast! (It's like oatmeal cookies in cake form, except it's good for you!) And it's not all "health-nut" healthy. There's pizza! And chocolate cake! Muffins and cupcakes! Waffles, pancakes, and french toast! She even makes me bacon every once in a while! (And, since she knows I loathe green peppers, she saves those for those for the nights when I am away at work.)

Without My Wife I wouldn't have my kids. I wouldn't have the funny stories like the Gobstopper story or birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas. I wouldn't get so happy every time I see a bus, because I know my son loves buses so much. I wouldn't have any of the love and happiness I get from them if not for My Wife. She brought them here, she helps me keep them alive and happy and healthy and clothed and educated. She does everything for those kids.

Without My Wife as my best friend, I'd be pretty lonely. I wouldn't have anyone to talk with or listen to. I wouldn't have anyone to complain about my workday with. I wouldn't have anyone to smile, laugh, or share my happiness with. She is the bestest!

So, to sum up, without My Wife I'd be a sad, lonely, overweight, stinky guy with a mullet and some bad facial hair, and my butt crack would be showing while I sat around watching television and eating chips all day, probably in jail for tax evasion. (Unless I was already dead from a heart attack.)

Thanks for saving the world from that guy, Amber! And have a Happy Mother's Day!

[Note: I know that in these columns I usually refer to her as "The Wife." I asked Amber if that was okay, and she said she was fine with it, because she knows I do it for comedic effect. But, for today, at least, I'm going to refer to her as "My Wife." Why? I guess I'm just feeling a little possessive and extra lucky to have her in my life. I'm happy and lucky that she's mine.]

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Please Do Not Hang Up the Phone

Last week I was all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. (See:"Smiling Is My Favorite") This week? Not so much. I've been fighting off a cold for the last few days, so I am grumpy, sleepy, sneezy, and coughy. ("Coughy" is a member of the little-known Second Seven Dwarves, along with Dizzy, Weezy, Stealthy, Stinky, Clumsy, and Burt.)

So, since I'm already in a bad mood, I thought I'd vent a little about one of my pet peeves. (First of all, why do they have to be "pet" peeves? Having a pet is generally a good thing. A pet should be an animal that brings a smile to your face. Peeves do not. I'm a little peeved by the term "pet peeve.")

Anyway, see if this scenario sounds a bit familiar. You are in the middle of doing something. Maybe you're changing a diaper. Maybe you are doing the dishes and your hands are wet. Maybe you are playing a video game and are a few seconds away from getting your high score. Then, it happens. The phone rings.

Should you answer it? Of course you should. You must answer it! Why? Because you never know who it could be. It just might be that call from the Utah Jazz, looking to sign a slow, portly, aging shooting guard. Or maybe it's that call from Spielberg saying he wants to direct that script that you haven't quite written yet. You have to answer the phone. You are compelled to do so.

(And when I say "you," I mean "me." The Wife has no such compulsion to answer the phone. She figures if it's important they'll leave a message or call back. We are wired differently that way.)

So, you pick up the phone and answer it, excited at the possibilities of who might be calling you. And, of course, it is a telemarketer. Not just a telemarketer, but a telemarketing recording. And not just a recording, but a recording that immediately says, "Please do not hang up your phone."

"Please do not hang up your phone."

Really? I don't think there is any recorded message that would make me more likely to hang up the phone than, "Please do not hang up your phone." There would be a better chance of me staying on the line and listening if the recorded voice said, "Please hang up your phone and do not listen to this message." At least then I'd be a little intrigued.

Sometimes the recorded message will say, "This is a very important call." I don't think so. If it really was a very important call, there would be an actual person on the other end of the line, not a pre-recorded message.

You called me. If your message isn't important enough for you to have a real person tell it to me, then it isn't important enough to me to listen to it.

Of course, there are times when it is an actual person presenting the telemarketing message. These phone calls usually start with the complete manglement of my name. I realize that some people might not know how to pronounce my last name, and I'm fine with that. But those people really shouldn't be calling me to try to sell me insurance.

Another favorite is when I pick up the phone and say "Hello," and no one answers. And then I say "Hello," again, and still no one answers. And then, when I'm just about to hang up, someone finally comes on the line. It's like they were calling me, but not paying attention to the call they were making. Once again, you are calling me. That means you should, at the very least, be a real person and give me at least a modicum of your attention.

Yes, I do realize that there are real, actual people at the other end of these calls. People who are just trying to make a living. People who probably hate their telemarketing job. That's why I try not to be too rude to them. I've heard some people who say they yell or scream at the telemarketer. Or blow a whistle directly into the phone. Or do something else to "teach those telemarketers a lesson."I don't think there's really a need for that.

I will generally give them one "I'm not interested." And if they continue their spiel, I'll give them one more "I'm not interested," as I am hanging up the phone.

Sometimes the calls come so often that I wonder why I even have a phone at all. (I wonder if Spielberg could reach me via e-mail?)