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Archive for December, 2012

A Star Is Born

And it came to pass in those days—as everything comes to pass, for if it doesn’t pass then it must run the ball—that a decree went out for Caesar Salad from Augusta, Maine.  All the world was to be taxed—the Democrats had won the election.  Everyone came to Bethlehem to be recounted.  In Florida, they came to be counted and recounted, until every male Chad, well hung or with dimples, had been counted again.

Joseph, wearing his amazing Technicolor raincoat that he got at a Christmas sale at Wal-Mart, brought his wife.  She was with child—Joseph should start acting his age.  They tried to get a room at the Holiday Inn (because kids eat for free) but apparently the Patriots were in town for a play-off game, and no rooms were to be had.  They passed up the parking garage for a stable in back.

Meanwhile, there were shepherds standing out in their fields.  Well, where else would they be?  They were watching over their sheep.  Some were counting their sheep.  Others were doing things with their sheep we should not mention.  They were lonely.  They were sore.  They were afraid.

An angel came to them and said, “Fear not, you have nothing to fear but fear itself.  I bring you tidings of great joy!”

The shepherds asked, “What’s a tiding?”

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.”

And suddenly, with the angel food cake, there was a hostess of cupcakes.  Praise be to God.

It came upon a midnight clear, although the weatherman had called for snow.  Many of the shepherds had bought merchandise that would be free if six inches of snow fell that night.  It had not snowed in Bethlehem in centuries.  They were clueless.

Hark!  The Harold angel sings.  His name was Harold.  You got a better name for an angel?  But the story is not over until the fat angel sings.

And it came to pass (for if it didn’t pass it wouldn’t be history and we couldn’t write about it now) that the shepherds talked amongst themselves.

“For unto you a child is born,” repeated one shepherd.

“Not me,” replied another.  “I never touched her.”

So they set out to see what this was all about.  Besides, the sheep were tired and there was nothing else to do.

Meanwhile, back in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph found the stable and decked the stalls with boughs of holly.  Don wore now his gay apparel (we always wondered about Don.)  Mary, who was quite pregnant, gave birth to a child.  She had the baby in the stable since her HMO insurance wouldn’t kick in until after the New Year.  Joseph was happy since he could take his tax deduction right away.  She wrapped the babe in sequined clothes, and named him Elvis.  She laid Him with his manager.  He was to be the King.

And it came to pass—apparently a lot of things came to pass back then—that Three Wise Guys, who were apparently lost, saw a star appear in the heavens.  They followed that star from the East, but they really couldn’t be sure what direction it was since they were lost anyway.  Those three kings, disoriented are.  Wearing gifts, they traveled afar.

3wiseguys

They brought the new King gifts of goldfish, Franks-n-beans, and mirth.  In addition to being wise guys, they were pretty funny as well.  They also had a lot of intestinal gas.  They laid their gifts down before the King.

And He said, “Thank you.  Thank you very much.”

The moral of this story: book your reservations ahead of time.

Laugh if you will, for I have given you the gift of mirth.  It is a humble gift.  I hope this gift reminds you of another story, long ago, which came to pass.  And as you come to pass (fourth and long, late in the game) and decorate your stable, wrap your myrrh, drink your eggnog, and tend to your sheep, that you stop for a moment—perhaps more—and consider the reason for the season, and remember that babe—our Savior—so long ago when a Star was born.

Thank you.  And have a Merry Christmas!

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Deer Me

airquotes

We “hit” a deer.

A friend of mine was relating a story this week. She and her husband were on their way home Tuesday night after a party.  It was dark (but not a dark and stormy night.)  All of a sudden, he hit the brakes.  She looked up from her Ipad just as he “hit a deer that when flying off to the side of the road.”  She claims they even “heard glass breaking.”

Now, you may wonder why I put that in quotes.  It’s because I can’t do air quotes in a blog.

The car was still drivable so they continued home–expecting the worst.

car_hits_deer

They assumed something like this.

When they pulled into their driveway and got out, there was no visible damage to the car.  There were no broken lights or mirrors to explain the broken glass sound they allegedly heard.   She claims there was a “patch of fur” on the fender but nary a dent or scratch to indicate that a deer was launched off the roadway by impact.  She further claimed that her husband took the car to a mechanic to check and make sure there was no damage under the vehicle–and everything checked out just fine.

This led those who were listening to conclude one of the following possibilities.

1.  There was no deer.  She made it all up.  I hit a unicorn the other day with my jeep.  There was some horn on the fender, but nothing else.  See, we can do that too.

2.  They hit a reindeer, flying low across the road.  It veered away at the last second, and the glass breaking noise was actually jingle bells.

3.  They hit a Christmas Ornament (those light-up deer you see grazing in yards amidst twinkle lights) that fell off someone’s truck.  It would explain the glass, but you would expect some scratching of the vehicle.

reindeer_on_road

4.  They ate some psychedelic mushrooms by accident at the holiday party they were returning from.  This is the explanation that the listening group eventually agreed upon.  It had to be the ‘shrooms.  Maybe they were drunken ‘shrooms as well.

5.  There was a deer.  It did get hit.  There was miraculously no damage (the “immaculate impaction”) and right now there is a deer in the woods trying to convince his buddies that he did indeed get hit by a car and lived to brag about it.

“Dude, that’s just a bald spot.  You didn’t get hit by a car.  Quit pulling our deer legs!”

“I swear it’s true!  See . . . they broke my glasses too!”

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Oh, Check My Flow

It all started so innocently enough.

PONG.

Two paddles.  A square ball.  Black and White.

And then came Asteroids and Space Invaders.  PAC Man and Frogger.  Tetris!  Super Nintendo and Super Mario.  I don’t even know or understand what is out there today . . . Guitar Hero?  Assassin’s Creed?  Halo?  Hello??? McFly!

Somewhere along the line, Bill Gates invented the computer and there was Solitaire.  And it was good.  And Hearts.  Even better.

Then, Al Gore invented the Internet.

So much technology.  So much programming.  So much time of my life wasted.  Curse you Angry Birds!

And while my true addiction still lies in playing MahJong on Facebook, I have recently discovered a new game to keep me from spending time with my family, or working and earning a living, or eating, or breathing, or blogging, or pretty much anything else.

FLOW.

The concept, like Angry Birds, is so simple, yet the game is somehow compelling.

A grid is displayed.  As you play and move up levels, the grid gets larger–5×5, 6×6, 7×7, 8×8, oh I think you get the picture, and more colored dots are added.  Is it politically correct to call them colored dots?

On this grid, the computer displays pairs of colored circles.  The human must then connect these colored circles (blue to blue, yellow to yellow, etc.) without crossing another other color and leaving no squares unfilled.  (No square left behind!) It’s like a color based Sudoku!  Actually, it’s eerily reminiscent of Twister where you have to connect the green circle with your right hand and the red circle with your left eyeball, except in Twister, you did get to cross other people, and if you were lucky, they were of the opposite sex and cute.  Or drunk.  Or both, which is even better.  (Okay, for some people, it didn’t even have to be the opposite sex, and I don’t want to imply that there might be something wrong with that since it’s politically impolite to offend ANYONE these days, and it appears I have seriously transgressed digressed here.)

Back to my FLOW.Flow

My general requirements for a game these days is that it is FREE, easy to understand the rules, FREE, and doesn’t require me to play with any other human beings.  It’s not that I don’t like other people.  I really want to like people.  But most of them are just so damned stupid and ignorant, that I can’t possibly like them, let alone play a game with them.  Let’s face it, most people are alive because it’s illegal to kill them.  I really think that’s why some of the video games my kids play are so popular.  They get to kill people–without being thrown in jail or fried for it.  And I have digressed again.  Did I mention that the game has to be FREE?  OK–doesn’t have to be–I tried the FREE Angry Birds, and you just know that I ended up buying the full version like some crackhead purchasing his fix.  And even though there is no killing involved (even Angry Birds involves blowing things up with kamikaze birds) Flow fits these criteria well.

This is all my daughter’s fault.  She asked me to help her with a level while we were waiting for our food at a restaurant.  Five minutes later, I was hooked.  Does that make her a pusher?   There ought to be warnings on these games.  Support groups.

I’d discuss the game and strategy more, or maybe seek some professional help, but I really feel the need to go and play it right now.

 

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Is It Worth It?

Here’s a deal even Faust couldn’t pass up . . .

DevilDeal

Sorry for the crappy picture–my cell phone doesn’t do pictures well.

So is the 666 deal with the devil your soul for a Miller Lite, or your soul for a Pittsburgh victory?

How much for a quarterback?

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Today we went to a Christmas parade in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania.  Why you may ask?  I don’t know for sure, but if you think of a good reason, let me know.

Oh wait!  My daughter was marching with the St. Francis Marching Band, and they were performing in the parade.

I’m still not exactly sure why I was there.  I mean, it’s not like she can’t march without me being there.  I’m pretty sure she can march and chew gum at the same time, so my presence would be superfluous.

So we left the comforts of Hollidaysburg and headed up the face of Mount Crumpit to see a Christmas parade.

Now I am not a big fan of parades to begin with.  Basically, it is a convention of rude people.  I absolutely refuse to watch a parade in Disney World.  People start claiming their territory like two hours before the parade, because God forbid someone’s kid isn’t close enough to actually get run over by Mickey.  There are actually guidelines to watching a Disney parade . . .

Don’t – Arrive just before the parade starts and expect to find a good viewing location. “Excuse me, pardon me.  Ouch!  Look out, would ya!”  Nobody likes a party crasher.  You can expect these kinds of reactions if you get to the parade route when it starts and try to improve your view.  The guests who arrived early won’t appreciate it and may have a choice word or two for you.  Save yourself the embarrassment and plan accordingly.

In Hollidaysburg, people start putting out chairs early the morning of a parade, much like this town below.

saveseats

I have always thought that leaving unattended chairs to save a place is the height of rudeness.  If someone–at least one person–is there, then I can understand it, as long as that one person isn’t reserving half the block.  If you want to wait in line to be first, fine.  Then WAIT.  Don’t send a chair in your place!  And I am apparently not alone in my disdain for people who reserve “their space” hours ahead of time with empty chairs, as the town of Canonsburg, Pa. considered a ban to the practice . . .

A western Pennsylvania borough council is set to vote on a compromise policy to solve concerns about people who put out curbside chairs to reserve seats for the borough’s popular Fourth of July parade.

The issue has come to a head in Canonsburg because some people have put up chairs to save their seats nearly two weeks in advance. Some folks tether the chairs together with rope or chains, or link them to utility poles. That can block access to sidewalks and causes other problems when the chairs blow over in stormy weather.

Officials don’t want to ban the practice entirely because the chair-placing has become an event unto itself, with many residents decorating their chairs in a festive way.

TWO WEEKS???!!! Seriously?  Chair decorating?  And this makes the practice less rude?

But that was not a problem in Ebensburg.  We brought our own folding chairs, but I don’t think anyone else on the street we were on brought their own chairs.  And the street didn’t start to get crowded until about ten minutes before the parade began.  I’m not sure Ebensburg ever gets crowded.  But we had gotten there early, set up our chairs next to the curb–because you just know if you set them further back, some ***** will stand in front of you.  And we actually sat in the chairs instead of using them to keep our place while we did other things.  Like there’s anything else to do in Ebensburg anyway, but I digress.

But sure enough, with the parade just minutes to go, a mother crosses the street with three young kids in tow.  Beside me is a tree.  There are people on the other side of the tree.  She stands in front of the tree, and sits her kids on the curb in front of her.  Of course, there is not enough room.  By the time the St. Francis Band came, the kids had already inched down and I had to sit sideways because there was no room at my feet.

I thought about saying something to the mother–I assume it was the mother, because grandma would have been brought up in a generation where people had respect for other people.  Maybe it was a crazy aunt.  I do not know.  I did not ask.

But I was not happy.  (So which dwarf was I? Rim shot-cymbal.)

I could not back my chair back, because the tree would block my view worse than it already was.

So I got up and stood behind my wife’s chair.  I thought perhaps when the guardian of these innocent parasites saw this happen, she would realize that it was rude for her kids to push me out, and correct the situation.

She did not.disapproval

I glared at her.  With disapproval.  See the photo–that was me!

She didn’t even look at me.  She didn’t acknowledge my disapproval.

Finally, I picked my chair up and moved it down and sat behind my wife.  She was able to inch next to a fire hydrant and my son moved a little, but my parade experience was certainly not filled with the holiday spirit.

The sad part is, if the rude woman had simply asked if it would be okay for her kids to sit in front of me because she was late because she was a single mom or her husband was in Afghanistan, and she had to work two jobs that morning and her car broke down because she couldn’t afford maintainance and she would have been here sooner but . . .  I would have been less apoplectic about the whole situation.

My wife thinks I over-reacted.

I thought I controlled myself very well.

And three more children are being raised to ignore and disrespect others.  I don’t see anything festive in that.

Have you ever had any bad parade experiences?

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