9/14/2007

Adventures in Babysitting, Part 2: The Play Park

Read Part 1 here

I had come home from the first day of my second week of being a “manny,” which as US Weekly tells us, is the only appropriate term for what someone like me was doing. (P.S.: US Weekly didn’t tell you I’ll punch you in the neck if you actually use the ridiculous word “manny” in my presence.) I was at the door of my neighbor, beaten and broken. She would know. She would help. Because she was the mother of a six-year-old and a three-year-old.

“Help me,” I muttered. “For crimony’s sake. Just what am I supposed to do with this three-year-old child all…day…long?”

Like the great mother she is, she invited me in and gently spoke the two greatest words someone in my situation could have heard: “Play Park.”

Those words were both a life saver and an eye opener. An open field of toys and activities for a child to discover was brilliant. But the fact that I was a man stepping into a world of mothers was like the president of the chess club sharing the locker room with the football team. Or some analogy involving testosterone and ovaries.

The mother of the child I was taking care of had signed up for a local church’s open play on Tuesdays and Fridays. It was a large open area stocked with peddle cars, slides, toys, costumes, crafts, and so many brightly colored objects it looked like a rainbow had projectile vomited. After signing in, my little buddy Jack jumped at the chance to drive around the police car peddle car and I took a seat.

I looked around. And then it struck me: I was the only male over the age of four in the building. Some of the women eyed me curiously. Most of them ignored me completely, caught up in their Starbucks Frappuchino-fuled discussions about shopping and why their husbands were defective in some way. And the ones that did tentatively approach me to ask which child was mine were completely freaked out by my response of, “Oh, I don’t have any children.”

But the more Play Parks I visited, the more I would bump into the random dad/male that was there with a child. And something odd happened every time. The men went from zero to “I didn’t need to know that much about you, stranger” in a ludicrously minuscule amount of time.

One actual conversation:
Guy: “Hi! Which one are you with?”

Me: “With Jack over there. I’m helping take care of him while his mom recovers from surgery. Which one are you with?”

Guy: “I’m with that one over there on the trike.”

Me: “Oh that’s cool. Do you have any other kids?”

Guy: “Nope…this is our only one. For years my wife and I tried to have kids but we couldn’t get pregnant and I thought maybe it was a problem with me so I went to have my sperm count tested and it came back fine so my wife went in to make sure she could produce viable eggs and after several treatments to enable her fallopian tubes and uterus to accommodate a fertilized egg we were able to figure out when she was ovulating so that we could schedule times for me to try to impregnate her and after many months of trying we were finally able to conceive and then after we had our first child the doctor said that due to my wife’s unusually small birth canal and increasing age that it may be dangerous to have another.”

Me: “Um…wow….Ok. Just the one kid then.”

But I don’t blame these men. I think the myriad conversations I had like this were due to two factors. One, the men that came to daytime Play Parks were used to conversations with women, and two, the excitement of seeing another man there. Someone to finally identify with.

I don’t say this lightly, but those men I met had to be some of the strongest men I have ever met. It’s not just the Herculean task of raising a small child, which is mind-bendingly difficult for anyone to do correctly. But it’s also the looks, whispers, attitudes, and humiliating assumptions that they deal with every single day to be a man taking care of children.

Hmmm. It seems I’ve ended this on a rather dour and serious note. In order to insert some amount of humor and lightness to what’s supposed to be a light-heartedly funny look into the “male in a female world” scenario, I’ll ask you all to participate in what probably is the manliest activity I can think of:

Let us all, together, insert our own fart sound effect here.

6/25/2007

Adventures In Babysitting, Part 1: Space-Time Continuum

My wife and I do not have kids yet. We love kids, and we’re very good with kids. Almost without exception, every single one of our friends have kids, and we’ve been teaching Sunday School for about 5 years to kids ranging from 18 months to 6 years old. We love watching Supernanny, and not just because it involves an attractive, long-haired British disciplinarian who wears smart-looking suits but you just know that underneath her buttoned-down, prim and proper English exterior lies someone who needs to let said hair down and have a little fun.

* ahem *

I say all this because I just finished a tour of duty. (You’ll understand the “duty/doody” double entendre soon.) A good friend of ours had a hip replacement, and because no one else would return her calls, she asked me if I would come during the days to take care of her three-year-old boy and six-year-old girl. I’d come as the dad left for work in the morning, and leave when he got home in the evening, so roughly from 8:00 in the morning to 6:00 at night for about two months. Since I can work anywhere my laptop is, I agreed to help.

The six-year-old girl, who we’ll call “Natalie,” since that’s her actual name, goes to school, so the bulk of the day was watching the three-year-old, who we’ll call “Jack” (see above). I arrived the first day brimming with confidence. After all, I have literally watched hundreds of children in my day. I knew the techniques. I knew how to instill respect and authority. I knew how to play “hide and seek” to get them to spend five minutes hiding in the closet so I could have some quiet time to myself. But what I discovered on my very first day – and every day after that – was a tear in the space-time fabric so large that, much like a black hole, swallowed the very essence of time itself.

I was playing “war planes” (more on this later) with Jack for several hours. I was weary from the amount of attention it took (mind you, I usually spend most of my days alone, and I’m an introvert) to keep a child occupied for such a length of time. Thinking it surely had to be near lunchtime, I glanced at the clock. I was gob-smacked with the aforementioned rift in the space-time continuum. It was 8:15. 15 minutes of Earth-time had elapsed when in reality four hours of “war plane” time had elapsed. Where’s my Supernanny now?

Before I go on, I must explain the playing habits of a three-year-old boy. There are many games. The previously mention “war planes.” “Lightning McQueen” car games. Lincoln Logs. Yet all of these activities have a striking similarity. I will present it in “Theater Writing Style” below.

“War Planes”:
Jack: “Let’s play ‘war planes’!”
[Jack picks up toy airplanes, hands one to Todd]
[Jack proceeds to smash toy airplanes into each other while making crashing noises]

“Lightning McQueen,” the vehicle from the movie “Cars” game:
Jack: “Let’s play ‘Lightning McQueen’!”
[Jack picks up a “Lightning McQueen” toy car, hands another toy car to Todd]
[Jack proceeds to smash toy cars into each other while making crashing noises.]

“Lincoln Logs” game:
Jack: “Let’s play ‘Lincoln Logs’!”
[Jack dumps out huge vat of “Lincoln Logs” onto floor, tells Todd to build a house]
[Jack proceeds to smash all logs together while making crashing noises.]

One can insert any variation of toy into above scenarios, and you get the idea.

It’s now only 8:20.

Up Next: Desperate pleas and “play parks.”

12/19/2006

Love/Hate Relationship

I'm not a person that anyone would describe as "angry." I've never been in a fight, and I've only yelled at two people my entire life (Hi Eric and Jen!). There is, however, a huge part of me that is constantly annoyed by pretty much everything. But I recently realized that being annoyed by just about anything sort of gives me a perverse sense of joy.

Let me give a quick example. This past Christmas, my wife and I went to cut down a Christmas tree. We drove to a farm, slogged through the inches-deep muddy field, laid down on the soggy ground, and sawed down the crookedest tree known to man. We were with a friend who had a truck, and we were following him as he hauled it home for us. I noted to my wife, "You know...if that rope comes loose, that tree is going to careen through our front window. Then I will have officially been killed by Christmas cheer." My wife, positive and happy as she is, said, "Oh, stop focusing on the negative. Our lives are pretty great. Just be happy." My immediate response was, "Why do you have do squelch my joy? Being killed by Christmas cheer would be hilarious!"

Therein lies the rub: Being annoyed kind of makes me happy.

When I finally realized this groundbreaking aspect of my personality, I shared it with my wife. Her response? "Duh."

So I started to compile a list of things that annoy me. But not just annoy me like they would annoy most people. The following list is composed of things that annoy me in a way that is inversely proportional to how much they really should annoy any normal, healthy-minded individual. So it's less of "That guy is driving too slow in the fast lane," it's "That guy has way too many bumper stickers and now I hate him." That's a special kind of mental illness.

This list is growing daily, and in no particular order:

People asking you to take their pictures.
I have no problem asking -- or being asked -- to take someone's photograph. What's really weird is that there always this "how do I use a camera" skit that everyone plays. You hand someone your camera, and they turn it around in their hands like they've never seen this miraculous piece of technology before. "Do I point it at the sky? Do I look directly into the lens? Will this steal my soul? How does this Devil Box work?" their expression seems to say. Seriously. Every camera since 1942 has the one button to press. And yes, we all know nowadays that you press it half way down to focus, then all the way to take the picture. No one has ever used a camera where you have to press A-A-B-A-Start-Focus-B-B-Capture to take a photo. We're not finishing off Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat here, we're using a camera.

Things that are automated that really don't need to be automated.
We're living in fantastic times. Technology has gifted us with many convenient and time-saving devices, such as the popcorn setting on the microwave that allows you to press one button instead of three, or the Clapper. But sometimes it seems like we're infusing technology where it really doesn't need to go. I speak specifically now of hand-sensored paper towel dispensers in public restrooms. As much as I despise the hand-sensored faucets, at least I "get" that. People just peed...you don't want them manhandling something everyone has to touch. But those loathsome hand-sensored paper towel dispensers make no sense at all. Number one, they dispense one sheet at a time, which helps no one. So you have to wait several seconds and pretend to be "new hands" while water is dripping off your hands and onto your brand new suede thigh-high Beatle Boots. And number two, what on God's green earth is the point of having a hand-sensored paper towel dispenser? I would imagine that the paper towel dispenser is the cleanest place in the entire public bathroom. People use it immediately after they wash their hands, for crying out loud. But now you're stuck spending 5 minutes being "new hands," trying to get an adequate amount of bark-ridden, low rate paper towels so you don't have to use your clothes to dry your hands. (Funny aside: I just accidentally typed that as "to dry your nads." Just thought you'd like to know.)

Running Magazines
This is one of those things that must annoy only me. I, for the life of me, cannot comprehend how there are myriad magazines devoted to running. And they come out every month. Seriously? What new information about running could there possibly be to justify filling an entire magazine every month? "Oh...you put the one leg in front of the other...you don't just hop on the same one the whole time..." As you can see by my gratuitous use of italics, this really gets to me. I have no explanation why. (P.S. - Running is not a sport, so don't get me started. Also, there's no such thing as "Runner's High." That's your body trying to kill itself, not trying to give you a sense of satisfaction.)

12 A.M./12 P.M.
For the life of me, I can't figure out why we switch to A.M. and P.M. at the 12:00 marker instead of the 1:00 marker. 1:00 is the lowest, 12:00 is the highest. I think they're just screwing with me at this point to see how much I can handle without ending up with a gun at the top of a clock tower.

This Thing:

This little doohickey hangs outside our local grocery store. As you can see, it's a device that "indicates freezing temperature." My question is: How in the world is this helpful in any way? As you can see from the picture, there's a bit of blue showing. That answers none of my questions about weather. Is it 31.9 degrees? Is it 8 degrees? What am I supposed to do with the information presented to me in this ridiculous carney pinwheel freezing game? If they're so concerned with giving me helpful temperature-related information, why not just tack up a thermometer up there? It almost seems like the technology to produce this device either is more difficult or at least equal to a traditional thermometer. Again, I think "the powers that be" are screwing with me.

Wow.

To the surprise of no one, I have many, many more of these. Even though it's been ages since I've last posted, I'm just going to stop this here. I'll be back with more later. In the meantime, let me know what irritates you for no good reason. You know you have your issues. After all, that's why you're reading this. We're in a safe place here. Feel free to share.

9/10/2006

To Camp, Perchance To Dream (of being back home)

Although I’m not what you would call an “avid outdoorsman,” I do like being outdoors. Weather permitting, I enjoy hiking, kayaking, skiing, walking, swimming, and the occasional curling match. But there’s one thing I can’t tolerate: camping.

My wife loves camping. All of my friends love camping. However, I can’t stand it. While everyone else thinks that it’s because I don’t like “being one” with nature (a phrase which always sort of creeps me out), it has a much simpler explanation: I don’t like to pretend I’m homeless. Nothing against the homeless, but millions of years of evolution tells me that living indoors is preferable to living outdoors, what with the roof and walls and whatnot.

Again, this has little to do with enjoying the outdoors. The Pacific Northwest has a bevy of beautiful, varied terrain from the mountains and volcanoes to the desert to caves to the ocean, and I’m not saying that just because I like the word “bevy.” There are thousands of inspiring natural features here, and I’ve enjoyed many of them. But really -- there’s no need to live there. That’s why God made the Holiday Inn.

When you think about it, camping is more of a hassle than anything else. Have you ever taken a weekend camping trip? It takes a day to pack up and drive there (loading your gear into your trunk is like playing the world’s worst game of Tetris), sherpa-ing all the gear to a camping spot (“No, no…this piece of jagged, rock-hard dirt is far superior to that one close to the car…”), unpacking the gear, setting up camp, pitching the tents (and deciding which of the tent’s icky vinyl sides you would prefer stuck to your face by morning dew), all while allotting some time to be gnawed on by myriad gigantor woodland insects. You can enjoy maybe a day of nature, and you then have to pack up all the stuff you just brought there and go back home. It’s really an inefficient use of time.

Some people give the argument of, “But I love being out there with the elements…just me and nature…it’s so primal!” Really? Remember when our ancient ancestors lit their 100,000-watt propane lantern to hook up the propane flapjack griddle while they munched on their Ranch Bugles next to the fire pit? Or when they put their GoreTex windbreaker on to settle into their padded folding chair next the ice chest and put microbrews in the chair’s cup holders? If you really want to experience nature, I want to see you plunk yourself in the middle of nowhere without equipment wearing just a loincloth, ok Squanto? We’ll see how well Mother Earth takes care of you.

Back to the issue of returning home. You’ve “enjoyed” your day of nature (which was comprised mostly of inhaling 8,000 cubic tons of campfire smoke, made worse by the fact that you’ve thrown every conceivable combination of plastic plates, cups, empty bottles, paper shards, and miscellaneous foodstuffs into just to amuse yourself), now you have to spend several hours putting the things you’ve just unpacked back into your car. And let me tell you, it’s going to fight going back in. Much like you just burgled a swap meet that sold only soiled, filthy, and unkempt items, somehow you now have three carloads-full of crap instead of one, because the woods apparently multiply your possessions while you sleep. (And when I say “sleep” in regards to camping, I mean “when my body is 400 degrees in the sleeping bag, my head is 12 degrees outside the sleeping bag, and the stump I’ve accidentally set the tent on is getting a little too friendly.”) And everything you cart back home – including you – is slathered with “camping smarm”: that campfire smoke/dried sweat/sticky hands/forest floor/insect spray/dirt layer of filth that’s coating you and everything you own. Once you’re home you have to take all your stuff back out of the car (which again has tripled, like some bad clown car of supplies), put it away again (campers must love mundane repetitiveness), and do the 12 loads of laundry it takes to get the camping smarm off your sleeping bags and clothes. I feel relaxed and rejuvenated already.

The way I see it, to camp is to do a phenomenal disservice to our ancestors. Can you imagine going back a thousand or a couple thousand years and telling the people frantically burrowing into the side of a hill for warmth, “I’ve got a house, bed, pillows, blankets, fridge-full of food, chairs, couches, and showers… But you know what? That’s not for me. I’m ‘outdoors-y.’” Good luck with that. After you recover from the punch in the face (or mace to the skull or blow-dart to the neck or whatever they did back then), you will then be offered up to their gods as a sacrifice to ward off extreme stupidity. The people that came before us worked really hard for us to not live outside. We should honor their spirit.

6/27/2006

Trade Secrets, Part 2

Last week I promised I would “pull back the curtain” and talk a little bit about the advertising industry. I’m a copywriter, which means I provide the words to any sort of advertising or marketing venture you may come across – TV, radio, web site, brochure, packaging, etc. This job comes with a lot of social recognition. Unfortunately, that recognition usually sounds something like, “I hate you,” and is often accompanied by a punch in the neck.

Here’s where I plead for you to not hate me. Terrible, pandering, and irritating advertising is usually not my fault. I don’t see myself as “above” the audience I’m writing for; what annoys you annoys me, so I do all I can to write in a way I would respond to. But since I’m beholden to write for the client – who is, you know, paying me and all – I can only do so much before they demand an extra five exclamation points behind “BIGGEST PRICE MELTDOWN IN THE HISTORY OF EVER!!!!!!” or make me call something a “SALE-A-BRATION!”

Again, please don’t hate me.

Let’s start with some basics. One of the most annoying tactics employed – and usually by used car dealers or mattress and furniture outlet stores – is the age-old use of the screaming announcer. But not just the screaming announcer will do. No, to “cut through the clutter” you must layer as many laser and explosion sound effects on top of the announcer as you possibly can – to, you know, equate low prices with death and maiming. Now your first reaction to the Unhinged Screaming Announcer Accompanied By Lasers and Explosions may be, “I must find someone to hurt.” This is normal. But the goal of Unhinged Screaming Announcer Accompanied By Lasers and Explosions is to get you to think, “I must hurt someone, and I must do it with the product and/or service they were just yelling about.” It’s solid logic.

There’s also the print equivalent of the Unhinged Screaming Announcer Accompanied By Lasers and Explosions, also usually found in car and furniture ads: the “starburst” graphic. These are most often some sort of multi-pointed star or some other thing with sharp, pointy edges. And you never see just the one. No, the first rule of using the starburst is that you have to use at least 1000 per ad – especially in used car ads. The goal is to fill each ad with so many colors, shapes, numbers, and information that the reader gets disoriented and wanders aimlessly around until she buys something. This is why, when asking what she went to mall for, she replies, “Nothing, really. I was just looking around.” Advertising in action.

To reiterate, ads are like this because many clients – not necessarily those creating the ads – make it so. Here’s where I will pull aside those potential advertising clients for a second to let them in on a few things:

1) Nobody cares that you want to beat your All-Time Sales Record. How is telling a potential customer that your whole goal is to make more money any reason for them to buy from you? That would be like me knocking on your door and explaining that since I wanted to make more money than last month, you should give me $10.

2) Is it supposed to impress me that you keep “drastically overstocking” your inventory and that’s why you’re having a sale? Is it supposed to make me feel bad for you? Or do I simply go on with thinking that you’re the worst businessman in history because even though you have this problem every Spring, you still don’t learn from your mistakes?

3) No, you cannot star in your own commercial. Yes, I’m aware you think you have charisma. But let’s be honest, Chachi – you standing in front of your huge selection of drastically overstocked merchandise awkwardly and stiltedly repeating your lines makes you look like a tool. P.S. – everyone makes fun of you behind your back.

4) Your prices are not “insane.” You are not “practically giving away” anything. And nobody believes you that if they don’t stop by today you will not be able to save them any money. Me spending money is not me saving money. You are a tool. Everyone makes fun of you behind your back.

I’m going to stop here because it’s about all I can take. I’ll leave you with something that was given to me when I was working on one of those crappy local used car ads. I had come up with a campaign that did not insult anyone’s intelligence. A series of ads that were funny, a bit different, and still communicated everything I was told to communicate about the cars and the sale. I got a note back from the account executive (the person at the advertising agency who is the liaison between the client and the creative people). I am quoting verbatim here:

“The client had the following revisions:
- Add ‘This is the greatest promotion in the history of [the car manufacturer]!’
- Emphasize that we have the biggest selection of [these cars] in the North West!
Note to writer – When it comes down to it all, all dealerships are offering the same great deal. So [this dealership] needs to stand out with having a larger selection and offering more $$ on trade.”

Yes, because I’m sure that anyone who is reading this, regardless of where they are located, has never, ever heard these distinctions. I was told to make the ad “stand out” by saying the exact same thing every other local car ad across North America has said. And thank you, Captain Account Executive, for using a patronizing tone to show me how to create the worst ad known to man.

It’s not my fault. Please don’t hate me.

6/21/2006

Trade Secrets, Part 1



I don't understand what's going on here. The illustration above came on the cover of a flyer that arrived in the mail yesterday.

Here are the facts presented to me: There are private lessons available for $30 an hour. One-on-one time with experienced teachers. I'll need to make an appointment, because whatever is going on here is very popular amongst a community of ready learners.

Then we have the illustration. It appears we are thrown into the situation mid-story. The 1960s Emo Phillips-looking character is defending himself with the well-known Dungeons & Dragons defense of "+5 Dandelions of Fury Power." He also has a stash of Ninja Throwing Roses tucked away in case of emergency need. He's harnessing these spectacular powers to safeguard his rockingly groovy threads from The Ungroovifier, who is so thwarted by his weed-seeds-of-death that she was stopped mid-air and mid-strike by his counter-attack. The Ungroovifier is armed with what appears to be a pair of ice picks, a balled-up chinchilla, and a completely unfortunate haircut. (Actually, in this battle, the two horrifying haircuts sort of cancel each other out. Ditto on the Peter Pan shoes.) I can't tell if The Ungroovifier's expression is an interrupted battle cry or a shriek of pain. And while I assume it was a bad print job, it could be that the +5 Dandelions of Fury Power are literally melting the face and leg of The Ungroovifier away. Also her boob.

I've decided that this post is going to be the prelude to something I've wanted to address for quite awhile: advertising. Some of you may know that I am in the advertising business as a writer, and I've been kicking around exposing some of the trade secrets. I think this is where I'll begin. (And while I won't promise to keep up a CDP-like pace to the amount of posts I make, I do promise I won't go months on end without something new. I know you're glowing with excitement about that.)

And one last thing. I'd love to hear guesses about what this flyer was about. I'll tell you some of the courses that are offered for $30 and hour. And no Googling. That's cheating.

-Intro Fair Isle Workshop
-Now What?!, w/ Patricia Harrington
-Felted Clutch
-Shibori Felting (#5 on my list of things that sound dirty but is not)
-Needle Felting Fantastica! w/ Elaine Marcus
-Beginning Socks

Part 2 coming soon...

3/08/2006

Master of Disguise

Here’s why Asians all look alike to me.

* cough *

Well then. That certainly wasn’t the way to start. Let’s try again.

I believe there is some truth to the old stereotype that the typical white American finds it hard to differentiate the distinguishing characteristics of non-European nationalities. (Ok, well at least that sentence covers what seems overtly racist with pseudo-intellectualized babble.)

It basically boils down to this: America, as the melting pot, has quite a wide variety of people. Black hair, blond hair, brown hair, blue eyes, green eyes, brown eyes, tall, short, black, white, etc. I think as Americans, we tend to focus on what the obvious differences are – hair color, eye color, height, skin color, accessories such as glasses – as opposed to more subtle differences in actual physiognomy and facial characteristics. Quite simply, we don’t need to “go that far” to quickly ascribe and make a mental notes to identify someone’s appearance. This quick categorization doesn’t work as well in somewhere like China, where characteristics like hair color and eye color are widely shared.

Why in the world am I bringing this up? Well, I was looking back over some pictures and came across my “costume” for last Halloween. In fact, it’s kind of my staple costume, because I already had every single piece of it, and I’m a cheap, cheap person who doesn’t like to spend money on things like Halloween costumes. This costume, though, is particularly annoying, because it plays right into my above-stated theory of Americans not really paying attention to what people’s faces look like. It’s like when someone tells you, “Oh…you look exactly like [insert random actor here]!” when, in fact, you really look nothing like that person. (And even if the person really does look like the actor, this is a dangerous road to go down. No one wants to be reminded that they look exactly like Ernest Borgnine, regardless of how cool he was in Airwolf.)

Below you’ll see a photo of me. This is how I usually look (when I’m forced to put on pants and leave the house, that is). As you roll over the picture, you will see me magically transformed before your very eyes, in a dazzling display of makeup and costume wizardry. Go ahead…give it a roll.


Yes, I can hear you now. And gee, no…I’ve never heard that one before.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Laugh it up, chuckles. But I think this illustrates my point. If you take away the glasses and black hair, I look nothing like the Verizon guy. Yet every time I go somewhere after I wear that get-up, I have to endure scores of people holding up their hands to their ears and giving me that wink-wink nudge-nudge look.

When you look at a country like Japan or the throng of lobotomized guitar players in a Robert Palmer video we Americans feel they all look similar. It’s because we’re stripped of the factors we normal use to formulate out mental distinctions between people.

So I can hardly be held responsible when I make hideously inappropriate and wild, “Ugly American” statements like “they all look alike to me.” It's not my fault. I blame society.


Author’s note: Please realize that I only make the above statements as a tongue-in-cheek way of making a broader point. I do not think that the beautiful, distinct, and lovely individuals who make up a larger group of people all look or act the same. I’m sorry I have to make this overly literal disclaimer, but I do know I have some international readers. And as we all know, other countries are inferior and none of them are equipped with a sense of humor. TW

2/02/2006

One More Search Party

Ok, so I hate to keep beating a dead horse about the "how people find my blog" thing, but I just saw this one:

"- girl gets dog poop smeared in hair"

I don't even know how to feel about this. I'm horrified, intrigued, and confused all at the same time.

I just hope to never meet the person who searches for that phrase. I don't know what they wanted to find, but I'm more afraid that they found it on my little blog.

I'm going to go shower now.

12/09/2005

Search Party

Ever since I figured out how to work the “Referrals” feature on my Site Meter visitor counter, I've been obsessed with how people are finding this page. Even though I've been terrible at keeping up with posting, people are still visiting every day. How in the world are they getting here? For the most part, people are clicking on the comments I make at other blogs or web sites (I'd say about 75% of the people coming here are finding their way through my 'internet buddy' at "The CDP").

But then there are "the Others." The Others find my way through search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and MSN. The Others scare me. They scare me because I can see what they were searching for. I can never exactly tell what they are hoping to find; but what's even more upsetting to me is that my page comes up with "relevant" results for some of these searches. So let's take a look at a few of the more "interesting" searches that have led people to my humble Cavalcade of Whimsy.

(A quick aside for people who may not know: When I put various terms below in quotes, it means people were looking for that exact phrase, and only web sites that have those exact words in that exact order will come up with results).

A few searches that don't surprise me (There's porn on the internet now?!):

- sexy legs thumbnail

- feather pillow fight

Ok, so far, not too odd (although I’m intrigued that someone specified “feather” for his pillow fight. No polyester/fiber/cotton blend in that dude’s pillow fights). I guess in a year's worth of posting stuff, I've used those words somewhere and in no particular order. Not exactly relevant to what my site is about, but I can see how that happened.

Let's move on to some fairly random search phrases:

- todd gross weather man

- soft briefcase whimsy

- huffy walking stilts

- indicator deadbolt

- what happens when a bird flies into a wall

Alright. Again, nothing too freaky. I don't like hearing that I'm a gross weather man, but I'm a big boy…I can handle some criticism. And I'd like to thank whoever searched for "soft briefcase whimsy," because that is now officially my favorite new phrase.

And now for three scary ones and two that really amused me:

- toilet whimsy

- "tore off his foot and attacked his limbs and genitals”

- refrigerator corpse

- "i saw mommy kissing" adulterous

- IQ of people watching sports

Yes, I've mentioned "toilet whimsy" before, but it's still freaking me out so I had to mention it again. (I’m still pulling my hair out trying to figure out what this person was hoping to find. The only thing less whimsical to me than a soft briefcase is a toilet, not that there's anything wrong with that...) The "tore off his foot and attacked his limbs and genitals" is a tad off-putting for two reasons: 1) They searched for this exact phrase, as evidenced by the quotes, and 2) they found that exact phrase on this very web site. ( Click here for where I used that icky, icky phrase.) And for those of my dear readers who want to find out everything there is to know about stuffing bodies in refrigerators, apparently my site can help you do that. I’m going to move along quickly here because the whole idea of “refrigerator corpse” linking to my site makes me feel oogy and like I should keep the door locked at all times.

Now we get to the ones that really amused me. It seems I was able to help some dude wanting to delve into the home-wrecking and two-timing origins of a beloved yuletide musical tradition and searched for “’I saw mommy kissing’ adulterous.” You’re welcome. I’m here to help. And lastly, although the search words aren’t necessarily that funny, just the idea that some frustrated non-sports fan out there really wanted to find out the IQ of people watching sports – and then found part of the answer here – really warms my cockles. Er, my heart’s cockles. You know what I mean.

Oh great, I can’t wait to see what search phrases will point here now that I’ve written the word “cockles” three times. As Drudge would say, “Developing…”

12/06/2005

Game On

I'm not a huge sports fan. I enjoyed playing them myself, but I just never saw the appeal of watching people I don’t know or don’t care about get paid more than the gross national product of Uruguay to run back and forth and back and forth a lot. It’s gotten to the point that I’ll TiVo the Super Bowl just to watch for commercials and any errant boob that happens to fly across the screen.

Watching sports in person can be a different game altogether (see how I can use appropriate puns?). There’s something electric about seeing the players live and being amongst the crowd. I have a love/hate relationship with large groups of people – I tend to enjoy people on an individual level or in small groups, but something happens with a large crowd. I think the average IQ of people is inversely proportional to the number of people present. That being said, I’m a huge fan of people watching, and nothing beats people watching at a sporting event.

The reason I bring this up is because I recently went to a minor league hockey game, which I enjoy quite a bit. Not only does hockey provide the greatest amount of sporting lingo that sounds dirty but really isn’t (puck, high-sticking, in the crease, pulling the goalie, etc.), it’s Mecca for loony-bin fan watching. It’s like hanging out at the monkey cage at the zoo: you’re horrified, intrigued, and quite sure that at any moment the simian-like sports uber-fan may in fact fling his own poop at you.

The fan I sat behind at the hockey game did not disappoint. Magnificent, tangled hair that went down to his waist. A cowbell/noisemaker tricked out and customized to a size even Donald Trump would find ostentatious. Additional noisemaker in other hand in the unlikely event he would find himself unable to make any other loud noises. But the best thing about this dude was the labored and outright confusing things he would yell at the game. A few prime examples:

“You little no-chin!”

“You Mexican wanna-be!!”

“Give them some hockey Ex-Lax so they can get it out of their end!!!”

Granted, these examples could make sense if we thought about them hard enough. But it’s this next one that I will always fondly recall with a sense of awe and wonder; a soliloquy so richly packed with narrative and character yet at the same time bereft of any ostensible meaning. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

“Let me guess – you are the kid who used to hang out at half court of the basketball game just standing there and waiting for someone else to throw you the ball!!”

Yes, this preceding sentence actually game out of this guy’s mouth. And the way he “delivered” this line made it even more fantastic. You could literally hear the gears in his head grinding together, emitting a shower of synaptic sparks so intense it was like Jennifer Beals was recreating the opening scene of Flashdance. He started yelling it at the top of his lungs, and then would pause every few words to catch his breath while simultaneously trying to figure out where his little story was going.

“LET ME GUESS…(breath)..…YOU ARE THE KID….(crunching of gears)……WHO USED TO…..(sparks, gears)….HANG OUT AT HALF COURT….(pause, breath)…..OF THE BASKETBALL GAME……(gears, pause, grind)….JUST STANDING THERE………(pauses getting longer, gears revving up to full speed)…AND WAITING FOR…..(waiting for…waiting for what? Think, man, think!)….SOMEONE ELSE TO THROW YOU THE BALL!!!!! (triumphant celebration in his head, look of pride and satisfaction on his face, gears ripped to shreds and smoking uncontrollably).”

All the while, I sat behind him listening to it all unfold. It took a good 15 – 20 seconds. During the first five seconds, I was just rolling my eyes at the crazy man. Then, as the tale began to grow, I edged forward on my seat. “Half court? Basketball? What on earth is happening here,” I whispered to myself in wonder. And then it kept going. And going. Clearly this man wasn’t just going for a double or a triple (to throw in even more random sports analogies). Oh no. This was the Babe Ruth of crazy sports fans. He had pointed to that centerfield wall, and he was going to crush the ball out of the park so far that he’d become a legend. He was going to deliver. And boy, did he. It was magnificent. The only thing missing was a little boy in a hospital bed somewhere who made Sports Guy promise that his next insane ramble would be the best ever…and he’d do it for him.

So here’s to you crazy sports fans everywhere. To those who think yelling “DEFENSE” from 400 feet away is going to actually cause the player to think, “By Jove, he’s right! I’m supposed to be on defense now!” To all of you who encourage athletes everywhere to “KEEP YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME!!!” only to delight in yourselves when it appears that the athlete now, in fact, does have his head in the game more so than before you screamed it. To all of you. Thank you for giving me something to watch other than the game itself.

It Just Gets Weirder

Just when I thought no one could top finding my page through a google search of "bathroom whimsy," I just noticed that today someone found my site by googling the following:

"Bathroom whimsy dog."

I have no idea what to say about that.

*

(New update on its way. I promise. Seriously.)

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