Friday, May 22, 2009

Did you know pizza can be eaten for ANY meal? (Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 17)

Sweetie's Hunk of the Week this week is Dane Cook!

You/Sweetie Know Him As: Probably as a friend on MySpace. At last count, Dane Cook had over 2 1/2 million friends. They, like you and Sweetie, probably love him because of his hilarious stand-up comedy.

On an entirely unrelated note, last night, for a snack before bed, I had a bowl of Cap'n Crunch cereal at 10 p.m.

I Know Him As: Not as a MySpace friend, since my account keeps getting Phished, so I can't post these cell phone pics I took of me and my broz at a party. No, I know Dane Cook as the amusing stand-up guy, too, the guy who tells those funny jokes about wanting to go on a heist with a monkey, or how his dream house would have a trap door. Yep, he's a laugh riot. Dane Cook is about the funniest guy around. That's why everyone loves him.

On another unrelated note, I recently decided that McDonald's Cheesburgers could be a dessert! Talk about innovation.

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmm About Him: Nothing. Nothing at all. He's just a regular funny guy, a comedian who makes people laugh and we love him for it. Since I've got nothing else to talk about here, I'll just mention that the other day, instead of working out, I took a walk. But that's pretty healthy, I suppose. True, I didn't sweat, and I came home and had a big snack, but it's the thought that counts.

Reason I Tell Myself Sweetie Likes Him: No mystery here: This guy is funny. And Sweetie likes her some funny. She likes funny the way I like to put Lucky Charms Marshmallows into my popcorn. Yummy.

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: She said "His body." But he's a comedian. How could his body...dear God!

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him: I can't talk right now. I've got things to do. Where'd I leave that Thighmaster?

My yard: Scenic Tourist Destination (Someday. Not now.)

Last summer's big project was tearing down the old shed and building the Sorta Great Wall. And surviving in the face of what could have been very, very vicious raccoon babies.

Mission Accomplished! And this year, the goal is: Finish The Path To Nowhere. See, after we tore down the shed, we had a garden path that led from our house to... nothing. It had previously led to the shed, but now, sans shed, we had a path to nowhere. The Boy and I couldn't tolerate that, so we ripped up those bricks and hauled them around and began building another path, one that would wind through the backyard (which someday will be a beautiful garden instead of the ragged growth of $1.00 Wal-Mart trees it is now) and after winding through the garden, would loop back and rejoin the sidewalk around the house.

Only... we didn't have enough bricks, so instead of the Path to Nowhere that previously led to the Shed, we have the Path To Nowhere that leads to nothing.

This year, though, we are definitely going to make the Path To Nowhere lead to somewhere, and the somewhere I'm thinking it should lead to is a garden wall fountain.

I got the idea from looking at wall fountains online. I've always liked fountains: they add a sense of life and peacefulness, together, to a garden. The burbling of water, the splashing sounds, the light that reflects back.

And an outdoor garden wall fountain seems to be ideal. I was worried that I'd have to get a plumber to install it, or put in extra pipes or get a permit, or something. But instead, they just plug in and have their own pump. Put in water and you're on your way. So I think that'll be what we do: put in a wall fountain. It doesn't have to have all kinds of extra plumbing, it'll fit into our yard, and it could serve as the centerpiece around which to build the rest of the beautiful backyard garden

... as well as serving as an end point for the Path That Will Eventually Lead Somewhere.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Finally, it's that Plants & Submarines Story!

Question: When is a plant like a nuclear submarine?

Answer: When they're both school projects I have messed up.

Last week Friday, I took the day off from work, a move that will have profound implications on the scientific world for years to come, although I could hardly have guessed that when I first took the day off.

The day off had profound implications because it led to Middle asking me to "keep an eye" on her science project, which is "growing a plant."

That may not seem too scientific, but I guess by the watered-down standards Middle's school is now imposing, it's a pretty tough project. Granted, kindergartners also grow plants for science projects, but who am I to argue with education professionals? If they think not actively interfering with a natural process equates to learning something about science, then I should just go with the flow.

Besides, as it turns out, that whole not interfering thing is a lot harder than it looks.

Middle had been growing her Science Project Plant for about a week, periodically asking me questions about it, questions like "How much should I water it?" and "Does it need a lot of sunlight?" Those seemed to me to be the type of questions she was supposed to be answering -- and learning -- via her project, and I tried to get her to look them up and otherwise learn the answers, but only part of my motivation was that Middle should be learning stuff.

The other part of my motivation was this: I don't know. When it comes to plants, I'm a complete idiot. We have the One Surviving Plant in our house, a plant that I think is called a corn plant and that we have because my Mother-In-Law gave me a potted cutting from the corn plant we gave her one Christmas. The One Surviving Plant meets all of my criteria for a plant in our house:

1. It's big.
2. It's hardy.
3. It's probably not poisonous.

I learned that latter bit of information -- maybe -- about two years ago, when Sweetie left me with the Babies!, who were then in walkers and who I thought couldn't get into much trouble because they were in walkers. So while they toddled around in their walkers, I did what I usually do when left alone, which is download music onto my iPod. I took a break from that and checked on Mr F and Mr Bunches, who were in the living room with me and who were toddling around, still, in their walkers, only now they had bits of leaves from the corn plant on their hands and their faces and their walker-trays.

I looked first at the corn plant (if that's what it is) to see if those leaves had come from the corn plant, which was kind of a dumb thing to do because back then, we only had two plants in the house, the corn plant and a sad remnant of the flowers that had been sent by my office as a congratulations when the Babies! were born, and the sad remnant flowers were on top of the Piano That Almost Is Playable, out of reach of the Babies!

Then I dug my finger into Mr F's and Mr Bunches' mouths, ignoring their protests and their biting, to see if they had parts of the plant still in their mouth. They didn't, but that didn't mean anything, because they might have swallowed them.

(Mr F and Mr Bunches don't generally go in for eating anything and everything they find, unlike most babies. But they will eat some surprising stuff, like fossilized Froot Loops from under the couch, or, last night, the wrapper off a taco sauce bottle at the grocery store.) (They will not, though, eat bologna. Make of that what you will.)

I was at a loss for what to do about the maybe-eating of the maybe-corn plant, because I didn't know if it might harm them, and I very much didn't want the Babies! to get sick or die, and I also very much didn't want that to happen while I was in charge. So I took the next step in an emergency, which was to Google it and find out how bad things were. Only I didn't know, for sure, what kind of plant it was.

So I had to google "corn plant" and see if that looked like the plant, and other plants, to see if they looked like the plants, and then I had to compare pictures to try to find plants that looked like our plant, and then go read the entries on those plants to see if they were poisonous, and then I had to get distracted for a while reading about the aloe plant and how aloe really does come from that, and then I had to stop reading that and also stop reading an article about kudzu, and get back to researching.

In the end, I could never tell if our plant was a corn plant, and, if so, whether the corn plant was poisonous, but the Babies! are still alive, so things worked out for me. And kudzu can grow up to 7 feet per week, so there's that, too.

I discourage the Babies! from eating the One Surviving Plant, and that, plus watering it now and then, constitute my entire regimen of care for the One Surviving Plant. Plants in my care undergo a rapid imposition of Darwinian rules; only the fittest of plants can survive in my care. I begin by purchasing my plants, if I purchase them at all, only on clearance and only from department store garden centers. The last time I bought a plant from a a "real" garden store - -the hibiscus bush outside our front door-- it completely let me down by not even having leaves this year.

(I only know its a hibiscus bush because my Mom told me that's what it is, and I only remember that because it's right outside our front door, so I like to walk out and say Hi, biscus!)

The hibiscus bush stands -- wilts -- in contrast to the three trees I bought at the end of the season last year for a couple of bucks, trees I found lying in a pile at the back of the Wal-Mart garden center, and which I planted at the very end of the growing season just before the first frost, prompting my dad to make dire predictions about their future. Those trees are doing great -- the pear tree has flowers.

(I only know it's a pear tree because I left the tag on it so that I could tell my dad what kind of tree it was when he came to visit.)

Step two of plants, for me, is never really caring for them. If a plant is going to be all needy, I don't want anything to do with it. Plants in my care need to be self-sufficient, go-getters, survivors. They need to survive wherever I set them, without regard to whether they need sun or CO2 or even soil. My favorite plants are the hostas that grow all over our flower gardens, including some in between bricks of the path. Those are plants a guy can love. They'd probably grow on the tires of my car if I put them there.

A plant that needs watering more than "whenever I happen to think of it and not be watching TV" is not going to last long in my house. But in that, I'm doing the world a favor, because eventually, I will be the cultivator of the hardiest plants imaginable, plants that will be capable of surviving with very little care, little to no sun, and little to no water. These will be plants that can spread across the continent, feed millions, explore space, host talk shows.

So that's all I know about plants: Buy them cheap, make them fend for themselves. (That's also all I know about kids.) And that's why I had to refer Middle to Google to answer her questions about her science project plant

After she did find answers, Middle decided that the science project plant needed more light than it was getting in her room. Which is why, last Friday, the day I took off from work, she brought the science project down and put it on the windowsill that faces East and pointed it out to me and said "Will you keep an eye on that today so that the boys don't wreck it?" I promised her I would, and that was her first mistake. My promises about the Babies! are worthless. I promise anyone anything about them: Yes, I will make sure they have bananas for breakfast. No, I won't let them jump on the bed. Sure, I'll watch them at the park. Then I let the Babies! do whatever they want, anyway, the result being that they generally end up throwing bananas at each other while jumping on the bed, or climbing up the tall slide at the park while other kids try to come down it.

It was a foregone conclusion that I wouldn't keep the Babies! from wrecking the science project, then, especially when you consider that I'll do anything to stop them from crying, if they cry. I lost a watch once because I gave it to Mr F to keep him from crying, and then forgot that I gave it to him until a half hour (or so; I didn't have a watch) later, at which point he no longer had the watch and we'd gone a substantial distance down the mall and through the parking lot. I also lost my library card because they wanted to play with that, so I let them. Now, when I go to the library, I have to always act as though I'm surprised to not have my library card, and then show them my driver's license and give my phone number, like I'm some kind of felon.

It was also a foregone conclusion that I'd somehow wreck the science project because my track record with science projects for school is horrible. That's how the riddle at the start of this comes up: the last science project I ever did for school was a nuclear submarine model. I did that model because I had to do a science project and display about "undersea exploration," and I didn't actually begin the project until the day before it was due.

I'd had big plans for the project. I was going to do a scale model of one of those remote-control undersea subs, the kind that are always on National Geographic specials going down into the Marianas Trench and taking pictures of those really scary, really cool way-down-deep fish that have all the teeth and no bodies, and I was going to put that model in front of a posterboard display showing all the fish and volcanoes and giant squid that were discovered using that remote control sub.

Then, the day before I had to have that ready to display in Mr. Karsten's seventh grade science class, I started the project, only to realize that we didn't have anything in our house with which to build a scale model of an undersea remote control submarine. Nor did we have anything from which to cut or copy pictures of marine life and cool fish with lots of teeth, or anything even remotely similar to that. We did have the boring yellow encyclopedias my Mom had bought a long time before, but those were no World Books and didn't have a lot of pictures.

After messing around for a while with Legos and Star Wars figures and the spare lumber that had been left over from the time my dad was going to build a work room, I finally gave up and told my mom that I needed to go to Drew's -- a nearby variety store-- and get stuff for the project. She took me there and I got some money from her and went inside and looked at the models, which were mostly airplanes and cars. There was exactly one naval model, a nuclear submarine. I bought that and came outside, prompting Mom to ask:

"What does a nuclear submarine have to do with undersea exploration?"

I didn't have an explanation for that; all I could say was "It's the only one they have left." Then I went home and had to put that together, using that old-fashioned airplane glue that stuck to everything but never dried, quite, and skipping steps that were too hard, and also not waiting for some parts to dry before gluing the rest on, with the result being that my nuclear submarine sagged in the middle and had part of the engine glued to what would probably be the bridge. It also had a little sailor who was stuck, lying on his back as though overcome by carbon monoxide fumes, down near the engine room. Whatever they had been exploring, it had gone badly.

That project was not much worse than any of the other projects I'd ever had to do in school. I could never find the kidneys in the sharks we dissected. I didn't get my water rocket to launch and, when I had to build a model of a Roman building for the big 8th grade exhibition of "Ancient Rome as Built From Household Materials by 8th Graders," I got assigned something that looked like a storage shed, and built that out of sugar cubes that I then painted gray, a history project that ended up with my "Roman Detached Sugar Cube Garages" being dwarfed by Derrick Van Orton's "Giant Colosseum Made Out of Construction Paper, Cardboard, Nicely-Done Drawings, and Probably Actual Pieces of the Real Colosseum."
Leaving me in charge of the Science Project Plant made it 100% likely that something bad was going to happen, and something bad did happen. I was getting ready to go make the Babies! lunch, and paused to check on Mr F's "tickle bugs"...

("Tickle Bugs" are what I tell him I'm looking for when I tickle him. I tickle him and say where are the tickle bugs today and then when he laughs I say I found them!)

...which left Mr Bunches unsupervised and a little jealous of the attention Mr F was getting, so he responded by grabbing Middle's Science Project plant and throwing it down on the floor, spilling it out and detaching the plant, which had one leaf at that point, from its roots.

I scuttled the boys away from that area, got Sweetie to come begin vacuuming up the dirt, and I scraped what I could of the plant into its pot, then packed dirt around it, then realized I'd left the roots out, so I had to take the plant and the dirt out and then put the roots in, after which I tried to touch the plant to its roots while packing dirt around it.

When that was done, I put the pot into a bowl and watered the whole thing until it was waterlogged, to cement the plant into the dirt and maybe help it absorb nutrients -- I thought to myself Plants grow hydroponically, and "hydro" in science means water, so plants could grow with lots of water, and went with that as valid scientific reasoning.

Then, I put that whole shebang onto the kitchen table to absorb some healthy sunlight, and made the boys' lunch. Mr F and Mr Bunches didn't eat their lunch, though -- they spent their time throwing bits of their lunch into the plant bowl, something I didn't realize, so that when Middle came home, she was greeted by a plant that was wilting, and droopy, and kind of brownish-gray, and in a bowl full of water, Ramen noodles, and banana chunks. It looked like this:

And that is the point where Middle told me that her entire semester grade depends on that plant surviving.

I told her I would explain to her teacher, and tell him what happened, and that I'm sure that he would give her a new plant or maybe let her do something else for "science." Before I could do that, though, she went and talked to him herself and explained what had happened and got him to give her a different plant to start over on her project with, so she might still be able to graduate from high school after all.

She and Sweetie wanted to throw out the old plant, but I wouldn't let them. I told them I'm going to take care of that plant and make sure that it grows and thrives. And I'm serious about that. I'll show them. I'm going to grow that plant and rescue it and have it stand as a monument to my scientific endeavors. Probably next to Derrick Van Orton's Colosseum.

It was a tactical Pop Tart (Cinnamon Flavored -Tactical, to be precise.)

What tactical gear do you wear for your job? For me (today) it's a tactical blue-striped polo shirt, and tactical black pants with a tactical bit of Pop Tart frosting tactically smeared onto the leg...

Oh, who am I kidding? My job doesn't require tactical gear. I almost never have to dodge bullets, rappel down walls, sneak up on bad guys, engage in a heated armed standoff, or drive 100 miles per hour down the road while trying to catch a fleeing, monkey-driven van full of bank robbers. (That last reference courtesy of Dane Cook.)

And sometimes I envy the guys and gals whose jobs do require those things -- people who get to shop at LA Police Gear and not look ridiculous doing so. I get jealous of people who can wear tactical pants, who carry Versipacks that have a special holster for their weapons, who need specialized incandescent flashlights and tactical Under Armour. I get way jealous of how cool their jobs must be: get up, order a bunch of stuff off of LA Police Gear, then go to work and spend the day jumping from rooftop to rooftop after fleeing terrorists, or parachuting out of a helicopter into the middle of a riot... or, you know, cool manly stuff.

But you know what? I bet they don't get to blog about superheroes, so they're probably really craving my job.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'd make a "2001" joke, but I bet he gets sick of those (Take A Book For Charity, 11)

Even as we speak, my book, Eclipse, is winging its way to New York for autographing by Murder Mystery (a/k/a "The Greatest Band In The History Of Ever") and when I get that back, I'll auction it as promised...

... but I'm still continuing to try to get others to Take a Book for Charity, and I'm pleased to report today that the arduous process of becoming a MySpace friend to Gary Lockwood is now complete; I have become a friend of Gary Lockwood -- star of 2001: A Space Odyssey -- and have today posted a comment on his MySpace page asking him to join Murder Mystery (The Greatest Band In The History of Ever) in helping me help Mateo and McHale Shaw pay their medical bills.

I will keep you posted on Mr. Lockwood's response. Will he help out -- and maybe make himself, in so doing, the Greatest Actor in the History of Ever? Stay Tuned!

Also, here's a link to Murder Mystery's MySpace page. Go listen to their music or buy their album or go to their shows or do all three. They rock.

Take a Book For Charity is my program in which I am asking that various organizations do something neat with my book, Eclipse, and then send it to me to auction off, with all the proceeds of that auction going to McHale and Mateo Shaw.

Want to take part? If you've got an idea for something interesting to take my book to, and want a donated copy for charity, email me at thetroublewithroy[at] Put "I'd like to take a book for charity" in the subject line.

And, the promotion I was offering if you just want to buy my book is still open: the first 50 people to send me a picture of them holding Eclipse get an awesome t-shirt, free!

For more information about the Shaw Twins, go here

To read up on the blog their parents keep and find out how to help more directly, go to "Caring Bridge" and type "Mateoandmchaleshaw" into the "Visit a Caring Bridge Site.'

And, as always, send your contributions to the Shaws to:

Mateo and McHale Shaw Irrevocable SNT
C/O Kohler Credit Union
850 Woodlake Road

Kohler, WI 53044

Also: If you are a library, community organization, or other charitable group and want a free copy of my book, email me at that address and I'll send you one. Put "Free Copy of Book" in the subject line.

Question of the Day, 60:

Am I a good person because I take my shopping carts to that little pen in the parking lot?

Shopping carts and stores present any number of moral questions that you probably haven't thought about before, but which I, and maybe Nietzsche, have spent lots of time pondering.

Everyone is supposed to put their carts in the little pen the stores put out for that purpose. But a lot of people don't; I'd say maybe a majority of people don't do that, but instead leave their carts wherever they happen to be. Which means that as far as society is concerned, not taking carts to the holding area is normal behavior. So if I take my cart back to that pen, does that make me better than most people... i.e., a good person?

And, on a related note, just how much effort does society, or goodness, demand with respect to the morality of shopping carts? I ask because of this: There's a grocery store we sometimes go to where they don't have that little pen anywhere; your options are "take the cart all the way back to the store" or "leave the cart in a random location in the parking lot." People at that store tend to choose the latter... and I do, too. My thinking is: If they don't put that pen out there for me to put the cart in, I don't have to walk the cart back; it's unreasonable to expect me to do that.

So if I'm a good person for putting my cart in the pen at one store, do I then undo that goodness by not taking the cart back to the store at that grocery store? And can morality be measured by the distance one walks to put a shopping cart somewhere?

And, finally, does it make it any better, at that grocery store, if I try to at least carefully park my cart in the parking lot, like I did last week, when I unloaded my groceries and decided (as usual) that I wasn't going to take my cart back to the store, but I took the time to put the cart neatly in between two unused parking spaces?

Another small business takes a hit in this economy.

I was thinking of getting into the fashion designer business -- specifically, the maternity fashion designer business. It seemed easy enough to me: Just take a lot of material, preferaly with a dorky flower pattern on it, and then sew it into a roughly-tent-shaped pattern, and voila, maternity clothes.

That's what it appeared to me that maternity clothes designers did, judging by the maternity clothes that Sweetie always wore, and the ones I've seen worn by friends and coworkers and people on the street.

So this morning, I was all set to begin my new and totally easy career, and I thought "I'll just check out where I'm going to be selling these tents... I mean maternity clothes," and I come across this website called "Kiki's Fashions Maternity."

Dang, was all I thought. This site blew my plans out of the water. They had not tents, but actual stylish maternity clothes, things that pregnant women could wear and still look good. Like this:

What's the deal with that? There's no dumb floral pattern. It's not shapeless. It's not drab and baggy and dumpy. How am I supposed to compete with that?

Then I find out, too, that Kiki's will give you 20% off on clothes just for reading about them on my blog -- all you have to do is enter the coupon code blogfriends at checkout -- and, well, that was it: My career as a maternity fashion designer was dead in the water.

So while you're over shopping for trendy, cool, hip, fashionable, neat, inexpensive maternity clothes at Kiki's, I will be figuring out what to do with 20,000 square feet of floral-patterned burlap.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Awesome Covers Of Already Awesome Songs, 2

I'll get more substantial posts on here soon -- I swear. There's a good one coming up about plants and nuclear subs and all. I've just been busy.

But not so busy that I couldn't find number two of the awesome versions of already awesome songs. Here's Dolly Parton doing Collective Soul's "Shine" :

Did you ever wonder what ever happened to Collective Soul? I didn't until just now today. So I googled it and found... this website, which wondered the same thing.

Then I googled "Collective Soul" and found out from their website that they're actually starting a tour, which sounded exciting, until I found out that the tour will stop in Idaho, which removed all the excitement from me. Idaho's always had that effect on me. Just mention Idaho and everything seems a little less exciting. Doesn't matter what it is: Band tours, potato chips, Season 3 of Lost on DVD... mention it in the same breath as Idaho and the luster just fades.

But then I found out that Collective Soul released a song called "Hollywood," which they described as "Bright as California sunshine... [which] features an undeniable melody with tinges of ’80s pop." So I thought, and I quote, "Eh, I'll give it a try."

And now you can give it a try:

And, you know, it wasn't half-bad. Notwithstanding Idaho.

Fun-Iverse is copyright 2009, "Thinking The Lions." All rights reserved. I'm a lawyer, so you know I'm not kidding about that. I'll sue you silly.

I've been writing a lot about Kissimmee on here lately, and there's a reason for that: It's because Kissimmee is awesome.

It's awesome because Kissimmee is like the nexus of the Fun-iverse. The Fun-iverse is like the universe, only more fun, and who would want to live in the universe when you could be in something that's more fun?

Kissimmee has more fun in it per square inch than any other part of the universe, and that's scientifically provable. It's located more or less in between and around and underneath and on top of 1 jillion waterparks, amusement parks, golf courses, lakes, and shopping malls.

1 jillion is a lot, but I'm not exaggerating. And these aren't crummy little amusement parks that you're used to in Ohio, or Nebraska, or Prague. These are theme parks and waterparks like Wet 'n Wild -- a waterpark near Kissimmee which has "Der Stuka," a waterslide that sends you down a 250-foot, almost-vertical waterslide.

Does Prague have "Der Stuka?" I think not.

We went to Wet 'n Wild when I was a kid -- I was only 12 years old, 28 years ago -- and I've never forgotten it, because it has the best waterslides around. And they've added to it since then, with things like "Der Stuka" or "Bomb Bay" -- that latter being a ride that sits you on a trap door, then sends you falling down 76 feet of watery, slide-y, fun.

That's what life is like in the Fun-Iverse (Kissimmee)-- sun, water, roller coasters, golf, and vertical drops into crystal clear, cool pools of water.

That is why I'm thinking about Kissimmee a lot -- and you should be, too. Because you can go enjoy Der Stuka and Bomb Bay and Disney and oranges and golf and more, for free! Kissimmee is giving away trips: weekend trips for two, and weeklong trips for four. The next drawing is on June 1, so be like me: Enter early and often. Use that link above to get to the site.

Then I'll see you... in the Fun-Iverse.


I'm also pretty good at "Makeover Doll."

My sister and her daughter are staying with Mom right now, and her daughter -- my niece -- is away from her friends and a lot of her toys, leaving her with a lot of free time and not as much to do.

So I thought "Hey, I'll show what a cool uncle I am" (as if she doesn't already know) "and find some games for her to play." Then I did what I always do and Googled my question, which in this case was "Where can I find some Girl Games for my niece to play?"

That, in turn, led me to "Easy Girl Games," the website -- -- which, I learned, has (you'll never see this coming) Easy Girl Games. Games that girls might find fun and which are quick to learn and fun to play; lots of point & click stuff about Barbies and fashion and celebrities, with nary a truck in site.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not being sexist here. I'm the guy, after all, who let his son bring a Holly Hobby doll grocery shopping with us. But my niece doesn't want to play with boy toys or boy games. She wants princesses and dress up and makeovers, and Easy Girl Games delivers, with games like "Makeover Doll" and "Miley Cyrus' Romantic Kiss," games that young girls will love to play -- if my niece is any indication; she seems to love them. And she loves the fact that she can beat her uncle playing them.

Although pretty soon, I'll catch up to her in Kiss Points.i

Sunday, May 17, 2009

If nobody cares about it, why am I posting it? Do you really need to ask that question? 'Cause I have no answer. (Mourning Gnus, 5/18/09)

News Nobody Really Cares About, Part One: "Angels and Demons" apparently beat "Star Trek" at the box office over the weekend, in a battle of sequels to movies that weren't any good in the first place. ( I'll exempt "The Wrath of Khan" from that because I saw it when I was younger and am nostalgic, plus I don't want to get spammed, as I'll note below.) Trek took in only $43 million to Angels' $48 million -- but what went unreported entirely was the 197% increase in box office experienced by The Cross: The Arthur Blessit Story. (That movie, a documentary about a man who literally walked around the world carrying a cross, actually sounds pretty good, though.)

News Nobody Really Cares About, Part Two: Do you know who won the Preakness this weekend? Probably not. Do you know where the Preakness is held? Probably not. That's because there's only one horse race America cares about, and that race is Cannonball Run IV: Horsing Around, in which Burt Reynolds and a new all-star cast race horses across the country. (Coming, Spring 2010). (Although you don't care -- see the headline -- the answers, respectively, are "Rachel Alexandra" and "Baltimore." Although this being horseracing, if you reversed those two, it would sound just as correct.)

Google Waffle Update: I'm now the top 3 sites for that search term in one form or another. Take that, Waffle House! Also, how are you readers doing on finding out what this song is called?

Website of the Day: Supposedly, the Wolfram website can answer any question you put to it, with graphs and codes and even something about time-traveling, just to show that "scientists" still don't care about "facts" or "science." After clicking on it about 30 minutes ago and still waiting for it now, the only thing I want to ask it is How can I get this site to load faster?

In a pinch, I will accept Florida or San Diego as a substitute for Hawaii. But I'll miss the volcano.

It's no secret that I try to use my blogs as a way to promote my writing, and myself, and in doing so get myself rich and move to Hawaii, where I could spend my time writing on my deck while I look out at the ocean and maybe also at a volcano (but not an active one.)

So I'm always on the lookout for things that can help me do a better blog, or promote it better, and when I find those things, I like to share them with you. Like the latest thing that I've found to help make a better site: the webhosting reviews and information at

I found my webhost-- blogger -- entirely by accident. I had decided to write a blog, and "Blogger" was the only site that I knew of that allowed me to do that. (This was back in 2005, before the "internet" really caught on.) It's worked out okay, but that's by chance, and who wants to leave it to chance when we're talking about making money and/or moving to Hawaii? Not me, and not you. takes that element of chance out of it. They provide quick, easy-to-read information about web hosts (that's the company that's putting up your webpage), giving you the rundown on the ten best right on their front page, so you can get information like price, bonus features, and disk space all up front, then make a choice and click through to buy. They even break it down, like "Best Blog Hosting" and the like.

If you've already GOT a webhost, like me, they'll still help, via their blog, which is chock full of information and ideas. Ideas like how to maximize your SEO -- or "Search Engine Optimization." Search Engines are the billboards of the Internet, and if you're not way up there on them, you're not anywhere, as far as readers are concerns. So helps out with three tips to maximize your SEO. Awesome, right? Right.

All the great content and Sticky Waffle Sandwich jokes in the world won't get you to Hawaii unless you're doing it right -- and is the site I go to to make sure I'm doing it right. From setup through marketing, they've got answers.

Quote of the Day, 28

"You're always telling me these interesting things about sports and then when I try to talk sports with you, you're like... Joe Theisman."

-- The Boy, when I tried to tell him about an article I read this weekend. To celebrate our anniversary, I took Sweetie out Friday and one of the things she did was get a manicure. She asked if I minded waiting and I did not because they had an issue of The New Yorker just sitting there, which meant that I got to read a fascinating article about why David beats Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell.

The article focused on how a junior high girls' basketball team had used the full-court press to win its way to the championship, and I used the article to explain another "interesting thing about sports" to The Boy the next day, after he had the gall to tell me that there's never anything interesting in The New Yorker. It was after my story that he gave the Quote of the Day, apparently as a put-down, and then he left before I could tell him about the neuroscientist who once spent a weekend trying to get flounder to mimic a polka dot background.

God, I love The New Yorker.

Question of The Day: 59

How much do you have to buy at McDonald's to use their playland without being a freeloader?

Yesterday was kind of chilly, so rather than take the Babies! to the playground, we went to McDonald's to play on their playland. Ordinarily, if I take them there, it's around lunch and I just buy a Happy Meal and they play and eat the french fries, but I feel kind of guilty because there's two of them playing, but I only bought one Happy Meal. Then again, the two of them are only 2 1/2, apiece, so that's like one 5-year-old kid playing, right? Should it go by age? Or weight? Or height? Maybe for every 3 years of age, people should spent $4.00, or something.

Then, yesterday, the math got harder, because we got there about 9:45, too late for breakfast and too early for lunch, and I didn't want to order coffee. So I bought a soda, and then as an afterthought threw in some McDonaldland Cookies. Then we went to the playland and the boys ran and played and climbed while I sipped my soda (and also gave in and just gave Mr Bunches cookies, at 10 a.m., because he wanted them and Sweetie wasn't there.)

We were there about 40 minutes, and when I left I got a free refill of my soda, but I felt a little guilty, like I wasn't keeping up my end of the bargain.

Also: I'm the parent at those playlands and playgrounds that you hate. The rules say no shoes but I let the Babies! keep their shoes on because they're small and they have an easier time climbing on the things with their shoes than if they wore only their socks, which in my mind justifies my breaking that rule.

The rules also say "No Food In The Playland" but I break that rule by telling myself, each time we go in, that I'm not bringing the food in for Mr F and Mr Bunches to eat; I'm bringing it in to hold it until later. Then they want some -- they always do -- and I justify that by saying "They're not eating, they're just snacking."

I just ignore the looks everyone else gives me, and focus on the important part, which is this:
McDonaldland cookies have kind of an orange-y flavor to them.

Hey, I Think I Love You!

We went to Hollywood on vacation about 8 years ago, and I spent our entire time there looking about for celebrities: movies stars, rock stars, Johnny Carson, ANYONE. All in vain -- the closest I came was Sweetie said that Craig Bierko shoved The Boy in an airport, and everyone else (but not me) saw one of the Williams sisters on the street as we drove by.

That lack of celebrities in Hollywood may be caused by the fact that they're all in Kissimmee, Florida, as I found out recently -- which makes all the more reason to go there.

The Kissimmee area already has more or less one theme park for everyone in America: Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, Gatorland, Disney and all its incarnations, plus water parks and golf courses and more malls than you could shake a stick at. (Why would you shake a stick at a mall? What's that gonna prove?)

And now it's got celebs. Tons of celebs. Celebamundo, so to speak. Athletes: Tiger Woods, Larry Bird, Dwayne Johnson (he's kind of an athlete, right?) Actors: David Caruso, and Matt Damon. Singers: Cher, Enrique Iglesias, Barry Gibb... and David Cassidy.

That's where I stopped looking things up. David Cassidy! That guy is AWESOME. Imagine spending a day with David Cassidy in Kissimmee. Me and David going golfing in the morning, then throwing some food to some gators before lunch. After lunch, we head over to Disney and ride Space Mountain, maybe bumping into some other not-as-awesome celebrities over dinner, guys and girls who would say "Hey, David, who's your cool friend?"

And now I've got a chance to hang out with David Cassidy for free: Kissimmee is giving away three weekend getaways for two, and two weeklong getaways for four (don't worry -- that's all the math you'll be required to do), with the next drawing on June 1. I've already entered -- you should, too. Don't just hang out in Kissimmee this summer: Hang out in Kissimmee this summer for FREE, with David Cassidy! (And me.)