Friday, December 5, 2014

inflatable christmas

Gone are the days of large C9 bulbs and silver tinsel you find in your living room long into spring.  The Christmas decoration future arrived in the 2000's in the form of giant, air-filled snowmen and reindeer.  Inflatable Christmas shit.

Driving through your average American suburban neighborhood you will find these massive inflatable creatures all over, and with every year comes a new! and fun! character or idea:

Christmas Crocodile Bearing Gifts!

Santa on a Motorcycle with Sunglasses™!

Jesus, Lord, at Thy Birth!

If you can dream it in a nightmare, America can inflate it and put it in your front lawn.

In my humble opinion, these inflatable Christmas decorations should be used sparingly.  An ideal house would include Christmas lights draped from your gutters and spread around your azaleas by the front porch.  Candles in the windows, perhaps some wreathes hanging from your windows.  One massive inflatable Rudolph biting into a candy cane and your yard is COMPLETE.  Less is more when it comes to Christmas.

My brother's philosophy is the complete opposite of this.  I made note of this when I pulled up to his rambler a few Saturdays ago.  Three o'clock in the afternoon, it's a cold day and my brother, my dad, my sister-in- law and my niece and nephew are scattered on a lawn roughly the size of an elementary school cafeteria, staging various inflatable Christmas decorations.  There are at least ten of them.

It is utter chaos.  The decorations are all in various stages of "flate," some sagging, some flattened to the ground, others proud and full.  The entire house, from the front yard, to the front porch is a tornado of Christmas.  Most people, if they pulled up to the house might say, "Good GOD, what happened here?  Was it an F5?  Were their any survivors?  How sad, the storm left them with so much Christmas shit in their yard."

On the porch there is a life-sized Santa statue facing the wall.  His arm is hanging limply, jerked into an awkward, uncomfortable angle.  Something violent has happened to this Santa statue, and for some reason he's being forced to stand in time out.  I ask my five year old niece, "What happened to Santa, why is he not out with the rest of the decorations?"  "An animal got him," she says, her eyes wild, as if remembering that fateful night when an animal almost made off with Santa's arm.  Was it a dear?  Was it a dog?  Was it actually a neighbor, grown impatient with the clutter of my brother's yard, seeking revenge on this jolly man and the arm he uses to deliver joy to children?  We don't know.  One thing is clear, even the local fauna doesn't like what's going on in my brother's front yard.

As you scan your eyes over the yard you'll find an inflatable decoration to tickle any number of fancies.  There's an inflatable dachshund with a scarf and Christmas hat.  There's Charlie Brown and Snoopy on a seesaw.  There's a Santa in a hot air balloon that failed to make it into the air.  There's yet another Santa, popping out of a chimney, flames covering his backside, his eyes wide with surprise, forever caught in a hilariously violent moment that teaches young kids how funny it is when people are on fire.

My brother rushes from one decoration to the other, stressed and confused, like a surgeon with multiple patients he needs to attend to simultaneously.  As he runs around the yard, the over-worked, over-capacity power strip is accidentally knocked about, a plug pops out, just to be plugged back in immediately and cursed at by my brother.  This causes all of the decorations to slowly deflate at once.  Like a sad puppet show, they all start to go limp, bowing down to the ground.  And then click!  They inflate once again for a slow, unenthusiastic encore, like an inflated Aerosmith show.

There is a decoration with two snowmen standing together, one in front of the other like a snowy two-person conga line.  When the electricity goes out they slowly sag forward, the snowman in the back covering the other in a graceful, protective dance.  And then click! they come back to life.  While the snowman in the front remains bent at the waist, the snowman in the back slowly stands erect, hands out to each side, a smile on his face.  He is thrilled.  A front lawn sex show slowly inflates before our eyes.  Should the kids be seeing this?

My favorite part is the main event of the yard, the "snow globe."  When it works properly it's supposed to look like a human-sized globe filled with tiny pieces of Styrofoam snowflakes shooting up from the bottom  and falling between two snowmen who are hugging at the waist in what appears to be a moment of pleasure and elation.  Another Christmas sex show that can be viewed easily from the road.  Have snowmen always been sex maniacs and I just never realized it?

Not only are the snowmen embracing, they are also sharing a leg.  Let me just slow this fun train down for a second and ask why these snowmen have legs.   Have snowmen really evolved so quickly that they easily sprout legs without any magic?  Are legs just a given in the snowman world now?  It used to take a silk hat and a handful of bored, unsupervised children for a snowman to sprout some legs, now it's expected.  What happened to the days when snowmen glided around on a single ball, playing the banjo?

Traditional gliding ball

This giant snow globe decoration is having a hard 2014, it must have been chewed on by some field mice while it sat in the garage, because it has a few holes.  My brother plugs it in and the styrofoam snow blasts up from the bottom.  "Yay!!" the kids yell with excitement.  It takes us all a few seconds to realize the snow is actually being forced through a hole on the bottom and out into the yard.  "That's bad for the environment!" some people would say, and then they would deflate the snow globe and dispose of it.  "What a mess!" other people would say, and then they would deflate the snow globe and dispose of it.  "This decoration is broken!" still other people would say, and then they would deflate the snow globe and dispose of it.  Not at my brother's house.  "Okay!" he says and walks away, leaving the snow globe on while it shoots a steady stream of Styrofoam into his yard.

Finally, the sun is setting and now should be the time to quit.  But my brother is never finished.  "We want to buy 5 more for next year," my sister-in-law says matter-of-factly. Cars honk  and people "wooOOOOOOoooo" out of their windows as they pass by on the road.  Are they excited and in the Christmas spirit?  Are they mocking him?  Maybe it was a little bit of both.  I feet a little torn myself.  I love Christmas, but I hate shit.  I love fun but I hate things that are stupid.  While a part of me wants to pop all of the decorations in a hateful Professor Hinkle fashion, I decide it would be best to leave that up to the "animals" described cryptically by my niece earlier.  When I come back in a month maybe all of the decorations will be on the porch, slightly deflated, tattered and facing the wall.  I'll ask my niece "what happened, why are they not out in the yard?"  "Animals got 'em."

Monday, August 18, 2014

good girls

My mom told me the most beautiful story of revenge yesterday.  Before I start, let me just praise my mother for being the best bitch I've ever known.  She is a force, she is a beast, she takes NO shit and I love her.

My mom grew up in the 50's and 60's, which, as we've all seen in black and white TV shows, was a time of complete Utopian disillusion, (at least until the late 60's when everything got either serious and sad or psychedelic and trippy).  For the most part, everything appeared to be very wholesome and pristine.  Ron Howard was Andy Griffith's son.  Barbara Eden was Larry Hagman's genie of which he dreamed.  June Cleaver was a perfectly coiffed wife and mother who did needlepoint and stayed at home in case her two sons or husband got home and needed to be fed.  STARCHED, IRONED PERFECTION.  So when my mom's parents divorced when she was 13 it was naturally a big neighborhood scandal.  My mom chose to live with her dad while her sister lived with her mom, even more scandal.

Three years following the divorce my mom was still judged for a decision her parents made.  When she was 16 she had a high school sweetheart named Clay Murray.  He was a frequent visitor of my mom's house, spending a lot of time with her and even her dad and grandma.  One day she asked Clay why they never spent time over at his house.  He told her, "my mom said she'd rather not have you over because she said good girls don't come from broken homes."

Well...that relationship didn't work out.  Not just because of this guy's fuckbag mother, but because apparently good guys don't necessarily come from "intact" homes.

Fast forward several years.  My mom is in the parking lot of the local A&P supermarket where her then-boyfriend worked.  That boyfriend would eventually become her husband and my father, but I digress.  

The two of them are standing in the parking lot and my mom happens to see two people in a nearby car, really going at it.  Like, some lover's lane heavy petting type shit.  

"Whoa, who is that?" she asks my dad.

"Oh, that's Mrs. Murray with one of the bag boys, she's a regular here, you may know her, I think you probably went to school with one of her kids," my dad says, unaware of the back story.

"...huh, I think I did, she has a son named Clay, doesn't she?" my mom says, no doubt grinning a wry thin-lipped smile as she puts the pieces together.

"Yeah, that's one of them," my eventual dad nods.

At this point the two figures in the car have stopped, possibly hearing my mom and eventual dad talking about them.  They make eye contact with my mom and so she waves and walks up to the car window.

"Hi there, Mrs. Murray?  How are you?  I don't know if you remember me, my name is Janet Ould, I dated your son, Clay, a few years ago.  We didn't work out, though.  Apparently he said you didn't think I was a good enough girl to date him.  Isn't that the darndest thing?" and with that, she walks away from the car and back over to my dad who bursts out laughing.

I guess the moral of this story is good girls don't come from any particular kind of home.  And they also don't come from a parking lot of the local A&P.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

carolina wren

I'm planning to get a tattoo of the Carolina Wren and I'm doing some research and looking up pictures. These birds got SASS.  I'm loving it.  Here are a few little wren stories for you.

Some wren babies.
"Oh, hi world.  Looks like a beautiful day."


Sneaky, sneaky little nest wren.

Got my worm, my butt's twitchin, I'm ready to go.

I'm real plump.  I also got my worm.

And then little Mike Wren said, "I didn't sign up for this, you squeezin too tight, my wing hurt."

And then Mike's older sister Carol said "UNHAND MIKE YOU ARYAN DUNCE!!!"

And then Mike flew away and was all "THAT'S WHAT I THOUGHT!"

What's going on here?  Oh, it's time for a fact.  
The Carolina Wren creeps around vegetated areas and scoots up tree trunks in search of insects and fruit.

Ew, little wren babies, you kinda gross looking.

Some people paint us and it's not so good.

All these wrens are beautiful.  Sike, just one wren here, got you good.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!  You'll love the Carolina Wren.  They're here to stay and have a good time!

And keep an eye on you.

Monday, April 21, 2014

a morning of rage

This morning was a domino effect of frustration.  Like 10,000-spoons-when-all-you-need-is-a-knife, kick-Dave-Coulier-in-the-face, Alanissy kind of morning.  

Running late for work, I walk out the door for my 15 minute walk to the metro wearing a dress that kept riding up my legs (into Crotchtown) and making me terribly uncomfortable since it was already a short dress.  I was going to work, after all, not to a place where women wear really short skirts and dresses.  What would you call a place like that?  

Walking to work in this dress put me into a slow-building rage.  Rage Level: Subdued Jack Nicholson

I'm so annoyed with my outfit that after I get off the metro, I decide to go to the nearby H&M before I go into work to buy pants or a skirt or something to put over my dress.  They're not open yet, even though they are supposed to be.  So I run over to Whole Foods to buy snacks, spend a stupid amount of money for "natural" reduced fat, low sodium popcorn and unsweetened organic applesauce.  I almost get run over by a 40-something Type A lady with a cart full of dairy products.  Anger rising.  

Rage Level: Lars Ulrich (When he's playing the drums, not whining about Napster)

I finish at Whole Foods and finally make it into H&M and look at my watch and it is LATE O'CLOCK in the morning and I'm like fuuucckkk I need to get to work but I can't go with my dress up my ass.  I search around and grab whatever clothes I can find and try them on.  Now I'm in the dressing room and starting to sweat in my sweater (I know, I hear it)  and coat.  The 1 pair of pants I picked up that actually fit will have to fucking do.  I pay for the pants, go back into the steaming sauna of a dressing room to put them back on before I leave the store.  

Rage Level:  Alec Baldwin yelling at his daughter in a voicemail or beating up a photographer.

As I'm walking toward the office, my ankle is THROBBING.  The shoes I'm wearing today keep rubbing on the bone of my ankle, starting a small fire of agony, causing me to limp.  I haven't even gotten to the office yet.  

Rage Level:  Bill O'Reilly shouting DO IT LIVE

I finally get into work, a basket full of hate sitting at my desk.  Happy Monday, mother fuckers.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I really, big time, huge time DO NOT CARE about the new Spiderman series.  Nobody is going to make me care.  Not even Sally Field being in it can make me care.

Andrew Garfield?  Don't Care.
Emma Stone?
All of it?  Not Do Care.

And I think Jamie Foxx is on my side with this one.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Teaching Computer Stuff to Middle-Aged People

A [fortunately small] part of my job at the moment involves teaching a group of my co-workers how to use a new computer program that's been designed to help communication between them and the health clinics they work with on a daily basis.

THE PROBLEM IS:  the group I'm teaching is made up of 4 individuals over the age of 40.  Not only do I have to teach them the steps to a complicated process that I struggle to understand, I have to do it while they're being over 40 and very much void of computer knowledge that I grew up learning from a young age.  I'm no expert, that's for sure, and I know one day I will be 40 and frustrated with how difficult new technology is as 20-somethings run circles around me, but that's the future.  RIGHT NOW I want to light my clothes on fire out of frustration after every session I have with each of them.

For one hour at a time, I sit down one-on-one with each of them to review a few pages at a time of a 30 page user guide.  It's mostly one hour (times 4) of situations that goes like this:

Co-worker:  So I should type in the first name, last name and date of birth to search for the patient?

Me:  No, that's not necessary, you can just put in the last name.  In fact, you don't even need to type in the full last name, the name will appear in the box below and you can select it.

Co-worker:  *looking at keyboard, pecking one letter at a time, types in full first name, last name and date of birth anyway, spells last name wrong, searches for 'Smmith, Pual' instead of 'Smith, Paul', enters date of birth as '13-02/1890'*


Me:  Okay, so, if the patient isn't in the system, you click the button that says "Add this patient"

Co-worker:  *searches with cursor for the clearly marked "Add this patient" button despite it being the bigger of two buttons on a blank screen* Where is that?

Me:  Right here.  *puts finger on the screen right next to the "Add this patient" button*

Co-worker:  *clicks the other button on the page that does not say "Add this patient," the screen returns to the home page*  Oh no what did I do??!


Me:  Alright, now that you completed the demographics and household income information [which took 10 minutes for them to type] you click "Save."

Co-worker:  *clicks Exit* Ay!  Uh oh, how do I get it back?

Me:  *dies inside* You can't, we have to open it again and re-enter all of the data.

For one hour at a time I try to maintain my composure, but I'm pretty sure I come off like Tom Hanks in this scene of A League of Their Own: