Saturday, February 20, 2010

If four people read this, that will double the number of people who know this guy. (Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 50)

We've hit the half-century mark on Sweetie's Hunks of The Week. Imagine how great it is for me, to know that I'm married to someone who has absolutely no trouble naming fifty different hunky men.

Number 50 is:

Dave Annabele.

You Don't Know Him Without You Have: Um. I'm not sure. When Sweetie named him, I asked where he's from, but instead of saying Law & Order, (as I expect, by now), she began to mumble something about Brothers & Sisters, which she quickly finished by pointing out that she's never watched the show Brothers & Sisters. I believe her, because (a) nobody has ever watched the show Brothers & Sisters, and (b) Sweetie only watched Law & Order-related shows, except for when she begins watching a true-crime investigation show about that one guy who got pushed off a boat by "someone"* (*his wife) while on their honeymoon, a show that I then start watching, only to doze off while watching it because it was after 8 p.m., so that the next day, when I get up and ask if she knew how it ended, whether his wife really did it* (*yes), she says "I don't know, I fell asleep," and then I say:

"Well, at least it taped," but Sweetie says that no, it didn't tape and I'll never know how it ends, unless I were to go Google it or something, but I can't do that, for two reasons. First, if I Google something like husband killed by wife on honeymoon cruise, I'm going to cement myself further into that list you know the government has of people who do weird Google searches, and second, once I've started watching something on TV, I don't want to read about it. That seems too much like work. TV isn't supposed to be work. TV is supposed to seep into your brain while you lie there motionless, the way the sun does when you tan and the way leftover pizza does when it exists.

Since Sweetie won't admit how she knows who Dave Annabele is,

It's this guy, remember? The guy you've never
seen on TV

...and since I assume every celebrity is Tom Selleck, I'll look him up. Wait here...

Enjoy this optical illusion as you wait...
Courtesy of Mighty Optical Illusions,
and as suggested by Petri Dish.

...Ok. It seems that Dave Annabele has made a career out of shows that nobody watches. He's been in Brothers & Sisters, and Third Watch (a/k/a ER but with more explosions) and something called Reunion. Which means about three people have seen Dave Annabele act in his career. It won't be long, I'm sure, before he appears on other shows nobody watches, like Ugly Betty and Thirty Rock.

The bottom line is you don't know Dave Annabele. Which doesn't explain how Sweetie knows him. I'd go ask her again, but that seems like too much work, too.

Instead, I Googled "How does Sweetie know Dave Annabele," which made me wonder: Should I capitalize Google when I use it as a verb? And which also led me to find out that Dave Annabele once made Sweet Potato Fries with Martha Stewart, which led me to take a stand, here and now, and say this:

Will everyone please quit trying to make healthy snacks?

There are snacks, and there are healthy foods, and the twain shall not meet. I am fed up (ha!)(Pun intended!) with people trying to make me like healthy foods by making them look like snacks. A sweet potato is neither sweet nor a potato nor edible, and it should not be a french fry. You can't make something good or edible by renaming it (except the sea bass, which used to be the Patagonian Toothfish and which used to look like this:

Not Dave Annabele. Don't freak out, ladies. And yet,
the "Patagonian Toothfish Variety Hour" draws
more viewers than all of Dave's shows combined.

But which was renamed the Chilean Sea Bass and now generates massive amounts of money spent on it by people who would be called Yuppies if anyone was still ever called a yuppie anymore.)

Other than that, you can't rename a food and think it'll be better, and you can't take a gross food like a yam and french fry it and make it a snack. No matter how much you deep fry, roll in sugar, sprinkle with candy and chocolate coat a piece of broccoli, it's still disgusting. So you people who want to eat healthy foods, just go do it and be miserable, and leave me alone with my Funyuns.

Dave Annabele, by joining Martha Stewart's unholy crusade, you're part of the problem.

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmm About Him: I'm still kind of wondering how it is that Sweetie even knows him. She's downstairs now, so let me go ask her. Wait here...

Here's another one to bide your time with -- another
Petri/Mighty Optical Illusions Team-up!

... Okay. Here's the conversation we had:

Me: How is it that you know Dave Annabelle, again?

Sweetie: From my magazines.

Me: And what was he in there for?

Sweetie: For Brothers & Sisters, but I never watch that show. (See!) Why?

Me: And how did you notice him then?

Sweetie: Because I thought he was cute.

Me: For how long?

Sweetie: For always. Why? What am I missing?

That last little line really hits home, doesn't it: there's some big secret about Dave Annabele that Sweetie's not telling me. I bet he was once married to a Patagonian Toothfish. Or Martha Stewart. (Same difference.)

Googling What's the big deep dark secret about Dave Annabele leads to

...nothing. You'd think that by now Google would have a special vault of all our deepest, darkest secrets, one that's easily searchable. At least, I thought that. I'm a little disappointed. (And relieved.)

Reason I Thought Sweetie Liked Him: When I sat down and saw his picture, I thought to myself That guy looks like a cross between Shia LeBeouf and what's-his-name, the guy I hated in Reality Bites who then wrote some lame whiny novel, oh, yeah, Ethan Hawke. (That's an exact mental quote, there.) I couldn't figure out why Sweetie would like anyone who looks a little like Ethan Hawke, until I remembered that it's me that doesn't like Ethan Hawke. I'm not sure how Sweetie feels about Ethan Hawke. Sometimes I think she says she doesn't like him just to humor me, but I'm pretty sure her heart's not in it.

In fact, now that I think of it, I wonder if maybe Sweetie doesn't like Dave Annabele a little because he looks a bit like Ethan Hawke. That's probably it. Sneaky Sweetie.

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: "It's his face. It's all scruffy. You can picture him rubbing it all over you."

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him: What? Sweetie, you can not picture him doing that. What's going on around here?

Also, if Dave Annabele is appearing in Sweetie's scruff-rubbing fantasies, that makes four people that have seen his work.

This image courtesy of Sweetie's dreams.

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Yes, even THAT store.But I'm surprised you thought of that one. I didn't think you were that type of person.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mr F is a better dancer, I bet, than the robot in the picture. (3 Good Things From 2/18/10)

Not only am I sore from swimming last night -- I'm the only person I know who gets injured swimming laps -- but I just found out from Sweetie that while I'm here at work like a sucker, she and Mr Bunches are having "Dancing Friday" and Mr Bunches was doing the robot. All that makes me really need my 3 Good Things today...but it's also 2 p.m., so I'm going to make them quick:

1. Mr Bunches picked out, successfully, the frog, the cow, and the pig in the book "Snog The Frog" during learning time-- pointing to them and naming them.

2. Mr F was feeling better. He's so miserable when he's sick that it brings everyone down. But by seven p.m., he was feeling up enough to play and watch his Bolt song on Youtube... even though he'd barfed in his room without telling anyone.

3. Sweetie didn't get mad at me for not noticing that Mr F had barfed without telling anyone. Plus, she made pizza rolls for dinner. She's awesome that way. And lots of ways.

Haunted by a calendar (Friday's Sunday's Poem & Hot Actress, 44)

Ahem. It has come to my attention that many people tend to skip over the Friday's Sunday's Poem and move on to the stories about Mr Bunches trying to make me eat that thing that he found under my bed the other day, the thing that could have been an old Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch or might have been a dessicated bug.

Friday's Sunday's Poem should not be skipped; it should be the cultural highlight of your week. However, rather than try to interest you in a poem for the sake of poetry, I've decided to Philistine-ize the FSP by including, from here on out, the Hot Actress Of The Week -- in part to counter Sweetie's Hunks -- but with a twist. These hot actresses will only be those actresses who are (a) over 30, and (b) have not had, so far as Sweetie tells me, plastic surgery.

So here we go with the poem, and the actress:

A Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty
by Ogden Nash

Unwillingly Miranda wakes,
Feels the sun with terror,
One unwilling step she takes,
Shuddering to the mirror.

Miranda in Miranda's sight
Is old and gray and dirty;
Twenty-nine she was last night;
This morning she is thirty.

Shining like the morning star,
Like the twilight shining,
Haunted by a calendar,
Miranda is a-pining.

Silly girl, silver girl,
Draw the mirror toward you;
Time who makes the years to whirl
Adorned as he adored you.

Time is timelessness for you;
Calendars for the human;
What's a year, or thirty, to
Loveliness made woman?

Oh, Night will not see thirty again,
Yet soft her wing, Miranda;
Pick up your glass and tell me, then--
How old is Spring, Miranda?


The actress: Justine Bateman, who turns 44 today. Justine has appeared in 8 TV shows and one movie since 2006. But she'll always be Mallory to people my age.

You know what's weird? The name Mallory never seems to have caught on as a kid's name. Maybe because according to this site (which is authoritative because it's on the Internet), "Mallory" can mean "Bad luck."

Imagine this: A comic book... made of GOLD! I'd rule the world.

How many of your hobbies have the potential not only to make you money -- but to keep you secure for the future and hedge against economic catastrophe?

Not counting your comic book collection, of course, the answer is probably "none." Most hobbies are there for fun -- again, not counting comic book collecting, which is CLEARLY a significant, serious investment -- and not profit.

But if you buy gold, you can do both: You can have fun AND invest in the future. That's what I learned from, a company whose site I've reading more and more lately.

I've been reading Goldline more and more because all I ever see or hear are ads for buying or selling gold, and it made me wonder "What am I missing out on, that gold is such a hot business right now?" So I looked up Goldline to find out about it, and learned from them that gold is big in times of economic uncertainty, because gold tends to retain its value (if not increase.)

Goldline had all kinds of information about buying and selling gold, but the information I liked best was the part about the ability to buy gold coins as an investment. Goldline lets you buy British sovereigns and Swiss francs and other interesting gold coins, so you can have a hobby -- coin collecting -- that might pay off if you need it to in a crunch.

If an economic collapse doesn't happen, you've got some interesting decorations for your home or office. But if society falls apart, you've got gold, which has been deemed valuable for, oh, all of history.

Looked at that way, gold may be an even better hobby/investment than comic books. (Probably not, though.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I saved the best one for last, today. (3 Good Things From 2/17/10)

Poor Mr F is starting to feel under the weather, and woke up crying this morning at 5 a.m. Which woke me up, and sent me in to lay with him until he felt better. So I began my day lying in the dark, rubbing Mr F's stomach, while we watched the end of Bolt.

Actually, that's not a bad way to start off a Thursday. Here's my 3 Good Things from Wednesday...

1. Pizza waiting for me when I got home. I'd promised Sweetie I'd take Mr F and Mr Bunches both grocery shopping with me so she could have a night off... and in return, she got pizza delivered and waiting for me when I got home. So I had pizza, with a side of pizza, and later on, a slice of pizza for dessert.

(Plus, of course, leftover pizza for breakfast today. And that's yet another time leftover pizza made this list.)

2. I didn't have to drive to Elkhorn, Wisconsin. No offense to Elkhorners, but I didn't really want to drive there yesterday. I had a case that absolutely, positively had to be filed there, yesterday -- a case that only became ready to file yesterday -- and I was going to have to leave the office and drive down there, a 3-hour round trip I'd ordinarily welcome only I had a lot of other things that needed to be done yesterday, too...

... and, as an aside, I'm absolutely positive that all the time I spend blogging and reading Wondermark in my office have no relation, whatsoever, to the suddenness with which I developed a billion things that had to be done yesterday, instead of, say, last week...

...but I was about to get into my car and drive there and back and make the best of things when my boss reminded me that I could send someone else. "That's why we have employees," he said.

I've always wondered what all these other people were here for. Now, I know. And, with that newfound knowledge, I didn't have to drive to Elkhorn, I got my other stuff done... and it's back to blogging and Wondermark!

3. As promised, the best is last: I was on TV last night! I was interviewed a couple of times for a TV report exposing Wisconsin's Department of Consumer Protection, and the report aired last night. Not only am I in it several times, looking smart and vest-y in my suit, but Sweetie tells me that all day long the station -- WKOW 27 in Madison -- was promoting that story and all the promos included a shot of me!

You can watch the video here.

In trouble with your mortgage? Read this.

The economy's getting better -- but not everyone is out of the woods yet. And you or someone you know may be still struggling to pay the mortgage... or you might have already missed a payment.

It's important, if you're in trouble with your home loan, to act fast and act smart. Getting a Bank Loan Modification can save your house and save you money -- but the process is complicated and lengthy and if you mess up you might be out on the street with no home and no credit, and out a lot of money.

Before you begin looking into a Home Loan Modification, check in at Fair Home Loan -- They're a good starting point for information and assistance to determine whether you need a lawyer, or a banker, or someone to help you with a Mortgage Loan Modification in general. And it's a free service.

Wisconsin (and many other states) have laws that can protect you from foreclosure and from getting ripped off (one such law is a rule that no person can take money up front to help you modify your mortgage -- in Wisconsin, they can only get paid once they've gotten your mortgage fixed) -- and those laws can be complicated. But you don't need to know them: You just need to know where to turn for help. Fair Home Loan can be the starting point to getting you out of trouble... and keeping you in your home.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sweetie: You can always tell what day it is by looking at my blog. (3 Good Things From 2/16/09)

Last night, Sweetie asked me "Is tomorrow Wednesday?" I assured her it was. Today, she asked me "Is today Wednesday?" I assured her it was, again. I don't know whether to be jealous of her life, or very, very concerned. Here's 3 Good Things to take my mind off that decision:

1. The April issue of Conceit magazine came out, with my story in it. Conceit Magazine published my short story, Jenny Goes Bowling With The Angels; I got my free contributor copy yesterday. If you don't subscribe to Conceit, you should -- especially now that they've had the amazingly good sense to publish me.

2. I didn't run out of gas before I was able to get more. My gas light had been on for about two days, and I was getting concerned about making it home, so I called Sweetie and had her transfer some money over to my bank account so I could use my debit card -- then, when I got to the gas station, I had to loop around three times before I got to a pump that was open and on the same side as the gas tank; each time before that, I'd almost get to my pump and someone would get in there before me, so I was getting worried that I'd run out of gas at the gas station.

But I didn't.

3. I played trucks with Mr Bunches. We just rolled a truck back and forth between us, for about 10 minutes. Sometimes the little things count the most.

UPDATE on the 1001 Ways: Revisiting Way Number 19:

Way 19 was, remember,

"19. Start treating health care like what it is: a universal, inherent right of all people."

So, how's that free market working out for you?

Back in August, 2009, I wrote:

All that has to be done, and it is this simple, is first, require that any insurer who provides insurance cover all pre-existing conditions. Then, have the Federal Department of Health And Human Services offer an insurance policy -- call it "Federal Care." Make it available to anyone who wants to buy it, and charge as premiums a percentage of the insured's income.

Then, in October, I said:

We don't have a free market for health insurance. A free market assumes that the seller and buyer have a choice, to get something or not get something, or to shop around. But health care doesn't work that way. If I am having a heart attack, I will be taken to the nearest health care facility, period... And, health care is not an option in the first place; I can't replace "health care" with something else, the way I can replace "buying a house" with "renting an apartment" or "living at home." I have to have health care, or I'll die young (like Nikki White, who tried to buy health insurance on the "free market," but couldn't, and so she died.)

I don't have a choice of what insurance company to go through, anymore: once I get sick, I have to stay with my health insurer, or I'll be denied coverage for any "pre-existing conditions."

Now, just this month, Anthem Blue Cross raised their premiums 39%. And that's a drop in the bucket -- last year, Anthem Blue Cross raised some premiums 68%.

Sixty-eight percent.

Those rate increases affect real people who really don't have that money. Take Jeff Sher. Jeff's premiums were raised 38% this year, and 41% last year. Two years ago, he paid $273 per month. Now he pays $530 per month.

But God Forbid we declare that access to health care is a universal right, and require that it be provided to everyone. We have the government involved in providing phone service, electrical service, paving roads, delivering mail, regulating cable rate increases, monitoring the calorie count in fast foods, and probably, there's a government department of making sure my ears don't have wax in them.

But God Forbid we regulate the insurance industry, or provide health care to people.

All you people who snorted when I said there's no free market, and all you people who cheered on Idiot Palin when she railed against government-run health care, all you people who figured the free market would take care of things... how do you feel today? The increase covers 800,000 people, 800,000 people who were just screwed out of a basic right by the Free Market.

So Way 19 is important enough to bring up again:

"19. Start treating health care like what it is: a universal, inherent right of all people."

If we can't do that as a society, we could start by treating health care as being as important as, say, cable TV.

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Now Is The Time For All Good Men And Women To Come To The Aid Of... Me. (Thinking The Lions)

As much as I hate to do this, I'm going to have to ask for your help, you readers of this blog.

I need your help to convince society -- which is mostly made up of people, people just like you -- to take whatever steps are necessary to free up my time so that I can make the world a better place.

Free up my time, and your money. I'm going to need that, too.

It's come to this -- my plea to you to get together, as a society, to free up my time and my money, because I've decided that it doesn't make any sense to go on the way I've been going on so far, and that we need to improve things, improve them by implementing my various ideas and solutions for society. I've got plenty of ideas and solutions for society. I just don't have the time or the money to implement them. Or the power, but that will come if you give me time and money.

All my time, and money, is currently taken up with things like "having to go to work to earn the money" and "going places to spend the money that I worked to earn," the result of which is that I never have any time, and I never have any money, and society just muddles along without the benefit of my many possible improvements.

Improvements like better lip stuff, and like indoor playgrounds.

Those are just the two most recent of my many many brilliant ideas, ideas that now range from the "EZ-Mover" (TM me, some year or other) to the In-The-Cupboard-Dishwasher (which lets you take the dirty dishes, put them back in the cupboard, and then throw a switch, washing them right there so that you save the steps of putting them into the dishwasher, and then putting them into the cupboard)(or which would let you do that, only it doesn't exist yet.)

These are ideas that came to me in recent days, as I was struggling to get by in what passes for a "civilization" these days, a civilization that can hardly be referred to using that word, considering how few of my ideas are actually adopted by that "civilization."

First, over the weekend, I had to bravely bear up under intolerable conditions imposed by society, the intolerable conditions in this case being "other people wanting to use the McDonald's playland at the same time as I did."

Living in Wisconsin, as I reluctantly do, means that for 11.5 months of the year, there is snow everywhere. You may live in Wisconsin, or have been to Wisconsin, or otherwise have some knowledge of Wisconsin and/or basic weather and physics principals, in which case you're likely saying "There's not snow everywhere, and not for 11.5 months, you're exaggerating." To which I respond: (a) I'm not, and (b) there's enough snow, and enough cold, that it really doesn't matter, does it? Is there a big difference between there being some snow and cold, and perpetual snow and cold? Not to me, there isn't. If it snows at all, then it might as well be snowing always and everywhere, because when it snows, people get left with snow-covered ground, and snow-covered cars, and snow-covered roads to drive those cars on, and slush-covered sidewalks to walk on to get from their cold cars to their cold offices, after which they'll realize they have slush in their shoe, and realize that it's time to replace the pair of black dress shoes they've had for five years.

Technically, it was time to replace those shoes about a year ago; I've been putting it off because I really like those shoes and I really dislike spending money, so I never went and got a new pair until recently when the old pair got a hole in the bottom and I spent a day at the office with slushy socks.

It's cold all the time in Wisconsin -- and snow gets everywhere, even in our socks, and for great big chunks of the year it's too cold to go outside and do anything, period. Who wants to go outside when the temperature is measured in the negatives, risking frostbite and having to bundle up before going outside, only to then immediately begin to sweat the moment you move around outside so that you have the disparate feeling of freezing to death and dying of heat exhaustion at the exact same time? Not me. And even when it's not actually life-threateningly cold, what's the point of going outside when there's snow all around and you can't do anything because you're so bundled up you can barely move and you've got big clunky gloves and boots and jackets on?

I took the Babies! outside about two weeks ago, on a "nice" day -- it was 23 degrees -- getting them, and me, bundled up to do so. We put on warm pants and sweatshirts and socks and boots and jackets and hats and gloves, and they had snow pants on, too, and after all that, we walked out the back door and tramped to the back yard, which was covered in snow, and the three of us just stood there, and I thought to myself, "Now what? What was it I thought I'd be doing out here once we got here?" The snow wasn't pack-y enough to build something with, or have a snowball fight with. But it wasn't the right kind of snow for sledding, either, making the snow useless for everything snow could possibly be used for. It wasn't even good for decoration, since it was melty and brownish-gray.

But with the snow, and our bundling, we couldn't play other outside games. We couldn't throw a ball or kick it or play tag or engage in Mr F's favorite backyard activity, which is to pick up things in one area and drop them in another area. There was nothing to pick up here and drop there. It was all covered by ugly, useless snow.

(Then things went from bad to worse, as Mr F remembered that outside is also where he once saw the neighbor's dog, a dog that, of all things, came into our yard and sniffed Mr F, who decided then and there that he didn't like dogs, and because the dog he didn't like in particular was outside, Mr F also started disliking outside, which he remembered all of a sudden that day and which made him want to be picked up and carried on the offchance that the dog would come back and sniff him again.)

After that day, I gave up on "going outside" for the winter, and went back to my usual practice when I want to take the Babies! somewhere to play in the winter, which is to take them to the mall playground or the McDonald's playland.

The Mall playground is bigger, but we don't go there as often, for a couple of reasons. First, it's farther away than the McDonald's playland. Second, the Mall playground is usually a lot more crowded, which poses many problems for me when I take the Babies! there. The Mall playground is surrounded by seats and a low wall, but the seats and the low wall don't really help me keep track of the Babies! when we're there -- because the Babies! can climb up the seats and over the wall, if they want to. (And they want to.) Plus, the wall is low enough that any stranger who wanted to could lean over the wall and grab one, or both, Babies! and get away with them, selling Mr F or Mr Bunches into slavery and making me have a lot of explaining to do for Sweetie (an explanation that would likely begin "Well, I was trying to decide if I really wanted to go get an Orange Julius..." and would likely end in divorce court.)

I'm not crazy, either. I know, as a result of my upbringing, that the world is teeming with serial killers and rapists who are lurking around everywhere, but most especially malls, waiting to steal children. And mug me, which is why I keep my wallet in my front pocket when I go to the mall. I'm no sucker.

So when I go to the Mall playground, it's exhausting. I have to try to keep track of Mr Bunches and Mr F, and they head off in different directions, surrounded by a teeming throng of other kids and other parents, causing me trouble already when I try to watch both, trouble that gets worse when one or the other demands my attention by wanting to play with me, or taking my cell phone, or taking some stranger's cell phone, or trying to climb the wall to get out to where the kidnap-y strangers are waiting. Then I have to focus on that one, giving the other one a golden opportunity to steal a cell phone or get kidnapped. After a while, I usually end up carrying one twin under an arm while chasing after the other one. I'm sure it's amusing to other parents. To me it's just the beginning of an aneurysm.

Plus, when I go to the Mall playground, there's always one kid, a new one each time, who appears to be there without parents and who tries to glom onto me to play with him or help him. This kid -- generally it's a boy, but always a new one -- will follow me around, or try to talk to me, or ask me to help him up onto the yellow construction-worker's-hat display like I just did for Mr Bunches, and that puts me into a bad position, because what do I do about that? In this day and age -- in what passes for our civilization -- I can't go around just talking to random kids, let alone picking them up and putting them places. That's the kind of thing the kidnap-y strangers do, and it'll get me arrested... at best. But if I walk away, or ignore the kid, I look like a total jerk to everyone around me, including the kid. I end up usually trying to act as though I don't see the kid, and trying to go get Mr F or Mr Bunches to do something like steal someone's cell phone so that I have an excuse to leave the kid there, but it always ends up with me getting the worst of both worlds: I feel like people are thinking That guy's a jerk... and probably a kidnap-y stranger. (I always want to yell out "Hey, if you're this kid's parents, why don't you pay attention to him because he's talking to strangers"... but I never do.)

Instead, I try to avoid the Mall playground and go to McDonald's, which has the advantage of being closer, and more cheeseburger-y, and more confined: the playland is enclosed and has only one door (plus the emergency exit), reducing the ways the Babies! can escape and the ways the perverts can kidnap them, so I can relax a little. But McDonald's has its own problems, mostly by virtue of the fact that it has rules.

McDonald's has rules like "No food in the playland," and like "You must wear socks but not shoes." I don't follow these rules, but that's not by choice. Not really. I don't follow the rules because I can't.

I always buy some food when we go there. I'm not sure McDonald's would kick me out if I didn't, but I don't want to risk it. Technically, I'm supposed to eat that food outside the playland, or at least to leave it outside the playland, but I can't, for several valid reasons.

First, the Babies! won't wait to eat outside the playland. They want to go play, and now, so getting them to sit in the chairs and eat a McNugget is impossible. (It's not like they ever sit, anyway.)

Second, if I leave the food outside the playland, then I not only have to step out to get it for the Babies! when they do deign to eat a french fry -- exposing them to the kidnap-y strangers in my absence -- but that leaves the food unattended, and if there's one thing I know for sure, it's that in addition to the hordes of serial killing rapists roaming our country, there are also millions of sickos and deviants who want nothing more than to poison or spit in my food if it's left unattended for even a second. So I don't risk it. I take my food into the playland and hope that nobody calls me on it.

Then there's the socks-but-no-shoes rule. Here's the thing about the Babies!: They won't wear things on their feet. They're barefoot about 99.9% of the time. I can get them to wear shoes and socks if I get the socks on, and then get the shoes on, and then keep them distracted the entire time they have shoes on, so that it never occurs to them that they have shoes and socks on because they're so distracted. But if they get even a moment to think about it... even one moment, those shoes and socks come off. So when we get to the Playland, if I take their shoes off, that directs their attention to the fact that they have something -- socks -- on their feet, and they will take those socks off and go barefoot, which seems to me to be a horrible thing to do in an eating establishment, which I guess McDonald's counts as.

The Babies! are distracted by the playland, though, so they won't take their shoes off if I don't point out the fact that they're wearing shoes. Once I realized that, I was left with being a rulebreaker no matter what: either I'd have shod Babies!, or barefoot Babies!, but either way, the socks-but-not-shoes rule would not be followed. (I only once tried to keep putting the socks back on, only to have Mr Bunches take his sock off somewhere in the tube-maze and lose it.)

I end up, then, in the Playland with our food, and with Babies! with socks-and-shoes on, which wouldn't be bad at all, except that (as happens so often when one lives in a society), other people are occasionally around wanting to also use public accommodations. And those other people also have other kids, who come into the McDonalds' playland and cause all sorts of troubles by making me think that they're thinking ill of me, and also by commenting on things.

It's not all in my head. Maybe part of it is, but not all of it. I'll be sitting in the playland, watching Mr F and Mr Bunches do their thing, which is typically this: Mr Bunches climbs up into the higher part of the tunnel-jungle-gym, and looks out the windows at me and waves and walks around. Mr F, meanwhile, is afraid of heights and so won't go up to the higher part. Instead, he sits at the entrance and makes loud noises, and occasionally crawls through the lower tunnels before coming to sit at the bottom of the slide where he waits, looking expectantly up the slide, for Mr Bunches to come sliding down. Mr F doesn't like the slide, because it's tall, but he does like to watch others come down it.

He waits in vain, though, because while Mr Bunches loves being on the upper level, Mr Bunches, too, does not like the slide because it's tall and scary, so Mr Bunches never comes down the slide. He just walks around up on the higher level, waving and occasionally coming down to have a french fry. (Or hash brown, if it's the morning.)

That's how we while away the time, generally, if there's nobody there: Mr Bunches walks around, Mr F looks expectantly, and I alternate between encouraging them to go down the slide, and encouraging them not to open the emergency exit. Or not to lick the windows, which sometimes Mr F does. (Actually, he does that often enough to make me wonder whether the windows, maybe, taste good. I have to assume that, or else I have to assume that Mr F knows it grosses me out when he licks them and so he does it to test me, the way Mr Bunches sometimes tries to get me to eat things he finds laying around the house or the car.)

If there are people there, though, all kinds of problems start. First, the people will occasionally look at the food I've brought with me, and will do so with what I can only interpret as the kind of look that says "Who do you think you are, bringing food in here when the door clearly says not to do that?" I try, in turn, to not notice them looking at me while I also try, simultaneously, to give them a look that says "I'm not trying to break the rules, not really, and I always clean up after myself, and anyway, who are you to judge me? Didn't you ever break a rule?" I'm pretty sure I get my point across.

Meanwhile, the people's kids are causing worse trouble, by noticing the food and asking to bring their own food in there -- which always startles me, because it means, when I hear it, that the people have left their food unattended. "Don't you know about the sickos and deviants?" I want to ask, but I have to focus on making sure my other defenses are communicated via facial expressions, so I don't bring it up. Then, the other people's kids start saying stuff like "Why do those boys get to wear their shoes?" and their parents say things like "I don't know but you have to keep your shoes off and socks on" only it comes out with a subtext, a subtext that seems to say "Because that man is a horrible horrible person" or that's what I feel in their comments. I don't even know how I could begin to explain, about the bare feet and the fact that I'm really not a very good parent, so I don't try. I just offer Mr F a french fry.

Worse yet, the other people's kids sometimes play on the other equipment that the Babies! want to use, the "little kid" area for kids under 3. Mr F and Mr Bunches sometimes like to go play on that smaller version of the jungle-gym-and-slide, chasing each other around and going down the (much smaller) slide, and I let them even though the rules (ha!) say that equipment is for kids under 3, because if I've already broken every other rule, why would I follow that one?

But I'm not completely sociopathic; if there are actual little kids on the other equipment, I never let Mr F and Mr Bunches over there, out of concern, mainly, for the little kids: Mr F and Mr Bunches, surrounded by their giant older brother and sisters, have learned to fend for themselves and play rough.

Plus I worry that they'd simply carry away one of the little babies that play on the equipment. Mr F actually tried that one time; there was a mother at the Playland holding an infant on her lap while her other kids played. Mr F likes babies and kept watching this one, watching right up to the moment when he ran across the playland and tried to steal the baby from the mother, who was very surprised but managed to retain possession of her daughter. Mr F wasn't yet two years old and had already developed a kidnapping habit.

Not letting Mr F and Mr Bunches play on the little kids' equipment upsets them and wrecks the morning for them, putting a damper on their waving and expectant looking and french fry eating, and making me keep fending off their increasingly desperate attempts to get to the little kids' side of the playland until we finally leave. So when I notice other parents coming in, with little kids, I naturally grow very annoyed at the way other people continue to take advantage of things like that and make my life harder. Here I am, minding my own business and ignoring all the rules so that my boys can play, and they have to go and wreck things by having their own lives and wanting to do things.

I've come up with a solution to that all, though, a solution I came up with some time ago but have never been able to put into action because, as I said, I'm always busy with other things like working and ignoring my horribly chapped lips that cause me an incredible amount of pain and make it difficult to concentrate on anything because I'm constantly thinking to myself "Don't lick your lips anymore," but then I lick them anyway, and then I realize what I did and I try to dry my lips off, quickly, but that doesn't help, it just makes it worse.

The odds are, if you talk to me at any time in the winter -- which in Wisconsin is always -- I will not be focusing on what you're saying. I'll be thinking Don't lick your lips and then I'll be trying to dry my lips off. Don't take it personally.

To help with my permanently chapped lips, I am forever investing in various lip balms and lip products and Chapsticks, all of which follow one of two life cycles: They are purchased, they are used once, they are then put in a pocket, and they then either go through the wash and are wrecked, or they are dropped out of the pocket and picked up by Mr Bunches, who then tries at some point to get me to eat them.

The problem is, I already have so much stuff in my pockets, and in the pockets of my briefcase, that I can't really keep track of more stuff in my pockets. On a good day, I've got my keys, and my other keys, and my wallet, and my cell phone, and then in my briefcase pockets I've also got my idea notebook and my iPod and headphones, and a pocket tape recorder, and a metal binder clip for some reason, and a folded up envelope that I don't know what it is but I'm afraid to throw it away in case it's important for a case-- so a lip balm gets lost in the shuffle and ultimately washed or fed to me.

But I've solved that problem, too -- a chain reaction of solutions that would let me solve other problems, and which would improve the world for everyone (mostly me) and would also let me not have lips that are so chapped that it hurts to eat salty foods, which I do all the time (forcing me to lick my lips even more), or that problem would be solved, if I had the time and your money to solve it.

Here's the solution to the lip balm products problem: Wallet-sized lip balms. I'm picturing a credit-card sized packet of lip balm that opens at one corner (and then reseals easily), so that it can be slipped into a wallet slot and carried with me, and used as necessary.

See? It's genius, right? Of course it is. That way, I would never lose my lip balm (or have to eat it) because how often am I going to lose my wallet? (Twice. At least.) The lip packets could be sold in sets -- 2 or 3 or 5 - -and held onto forever, and they'd fit in other things like women's coin purses or shirt pockets or business card holders. They would be endlessly useful (as most of my inventions are) but they don't exist yet, because I'm too busy working and earning money to spend on the errands I run to buy the stuff using the money I worked to earn, and because of that, I have chapped lips all the time and I'm pretty sure I've eaten at least two Chapsticks.

But if I could get all of you to pitch in and convince society (you) to pay me to develop things like the Lip Balm Packet (TM Me, 2010), and to pay for those things to be made, then we'd all have lip balm packets and nobody would have chapped lips, and we'd go on to allow me to make (with my time and your money) my other inventions, one of which solves the Playland problem, and which is this:

Indoor playgrounds.

How is that not already a thing? How have people existed in the subarctic climes of Wisconsin for two thousand and ten years and not yet built an indoor playground? I'm not talking about playlands, or Mall playgrounds. I'm talking about big municipal playgrounds, just like they have at parks, but indoors. What's wrong with society (you) that for all these years, you've taken your kids to the playground in spring and summer and fall but then, when winter comes, nobody ever said "Boy, it'd sure be nice to have a playground to go to" and built an indoor playground?

It's not like there's a shortage of space: there are ten billion empty buildings in the world, all just waiting to be converted to a playground with a merry-go-round and swings and slides and a bunch of bright lights and restricted access to kidnap-y strangers. And it's not like there's a shortage of kids -- they're always there, hogging up the playland and Mall playground. It's just that for some reason, we as a society (you) have decided that once November 1 hits, nobody should be allowed to go down a publicly-owned slide anymore, and we've got to all cram ourselves into the McDonald's playland and buy some McGriddles if we want to get the kids out of the house.

I first thought of the public playground idea a couple of years ago, and I revisit it each time I have to go and watch Mr F and Mr Bunches compete with seventy-zillion other kids in the crowded confines of a commercially-built playland stocked with lame displays (the one at the mall includes a tube shaped like a fluorescent lightbulb... fun!) or with limited space. I've come up with designs and names and locations and funding ideas and ways that the playground could be used in the nicer months, too...

... and then I have to go back to work, with my chapped lips, and scrap it all until next time, with the result being that we never get any closer to fixing my lips, or my playground problems, until now, when I've thrown it out there for the public (you) to help me out, by deciding as a group to let me stop working and start just thinking up great ideas like this to give to society (and getting paid to do that)(and paid handsomely. Let's face it: I'm worth it. It's not like any of you came up with Lip Balm Packets or Indoor Playgrounds) and then getting society (you) to pay to create those things.

If you all pitch in and do that for me, it won't be long until we're living in a Nirvana-like state where nobody ever suffers from chapped lips, everyone's dishes are all put away all the time, everyone's Moves are EZ, and my kids get to play in the indoor playground without any interference. (Your kids won't be allowed at the Indoor Playground, because it'll just make my life harder. But you're free to use the Mall. Watch out for the kidnap-y strangers.)

I don't drink tea. I just liked the picture. (3 Good Things From 2/15/10)

Today's Tuesday Present was the book A Reliable Wife -- Have you gotten your own Tuesday present for someone today? Maybe yourself? Here's my 3 Good Things from yesterday to keep me distracted from doing my work today:

1. Mr F's smile as the snow fell on his face leaving the health club. Mr Bunches was still down (but not out) with the croup, so Mr F and I spent the night running some errands and then going to the club, me to work out, and him to play in the play room. Working out was fine -- but what really made my night was when we left the club. It was snowing lightly, and Mr F looked up and let the flakes hit him on the face, and burst into the biggest smile I've ever seen him have.

2. Mr Bunches knows how to work our clothes dryer, and I don't. While I was putting some hooks on the laundry room door -- to keep out Mr F, who likes to go in there and shut off the hot water heater -- Mr Bunches opened up the dryer, stopping it. I told him "You shouldn't do that," at which point he closed the door and hit the button to get it going again.

3. It was only 11 p.m. when Mr Bunches woke me up. Mr Bunches got a coughing attack in what I thought was the very-early-morning, and I went to help get him back to sleep. After he dozed off again, I stumbled back into my room thinking that I'd maybe have about an hour more to sleep before I had to get up and get going on the day... but when I glanced at the clock, it was only 11 o'clock, so I had pretty much the whole night left to sleep. That's an amazing feeling, like finding money in your pocket that you didn't remember was there, only the "money" is "time" and the "pocket" is "sleep."

No, wait, the "money" is "sleep" and the "pocket" is...

Maybe the sleep is the the time... I'll work this out. Eventually. But you get the drift.

The guy in the video is slightly less annoying than O'Reilly.

When you stop to think about it, renting a hotel room for a vacation makes as little sense as, say, treating Bill O'Reilly like a person with a brain. What do you get for the cost of a hotel room? 20 square feet of space and a picture of some sailboats? How is THAT a relaxing vacation? Because the maid comes and cleans up? Cleans up WHAT, exactly? All the maid ever did when I stayed in a hotel room was make the bed and replace the towels -- which isn't all that much of a reason to be staying in a hotel.

Instead, I now look for a vacation rental home or condo when I go somewhere. I can get one of the luxury vacation rentals available through some services for the same cost as a hotel room, in many instances -- but I get a lot more space, and I get better views and better locations.

Most hotels are located in crummy areas -- near airports, or downtown. But vacation rentals are located where people live and relax and play -- which is where you want to be on vacation, right?

Right. Plus, vacation homes can have kitchens in them, so you're not stuck eating crummy continental breakfasts on a plastic tray on a lumpy bed. They have living rooms in them, so when you relax at night you can sit on a couch and watch a real TV, instead of sitting on an uncomfortable chair watching a bolted-down little screen.

I make a lot of sense, right? Unlike Bill O'Reilly. So use your head: Next time you go someplace, get a vacation rental instead of a hotel room. Or this might happen to you:

Monday, February 15, 2010

[SPOILER ALERT!] I mention something on "Lost" that most people knew about 3 years ago. (3 Good Things From The Weekend!)

Mondays can be tough, especially if you were up late with a coughing Mr Bunches, who had to go to the ER at 9:30. Don't worry -- he's fine, now. It's just the croup, whatever that is. But he, and I, and all of us, could use 3 Good Things to get the week going right:

1. Mr F and I took a trip to the Statue of Liberty: The Sunken Statue of Liberty is up on Lake Mendota again, and yesterday morning Sweetie and I and the Babies! took a drive to see it. Mr F didn't get out of the car because he'd already started coughing, so he and Sweetie stayed back while Mr F and I ventured onto the ice for a look. Once there, Mr F immediately ducked in between two boards and snuck inside:

But I was able to rescue him using a daring method I call "moving a board to the side and getting him the heck out of there before we get in trouble."

2. Chocolate and piano tuning for Valentine's Day! Sweetie got me exactly what I asked for as a Valentine's present -- she started up a fund to tune the piano. Our piano is old, and has been moved a couple of times, and needs tuning. I don't see that as a family project since I'm the only one who plays anymore (unless you count Mr F, who'll knock out a tune now and then). So starting with this Valentine's Day, I told Sweetie that all presents should from here on out be additions to a savings fund to tune our piano so that I can get back to my dream of learning to play Bohemian Rhapsody and then having the kids sing it while I play. Sweetie got me just that: an envelope with a starter donation in it -- plus chocolates!

I of course ate most of the chocolates yesterday, because if you don't eat them right away they spoil, or wreck the ozone, or something.

3. Charlie didn't die, yet: I continued getting caught up on Lost -- I'm up to just-past-the-halfway mark of Season 3. The episode I watched Friday night was chock full of visions of Charlie dying, making me think that was the long-feared episode where he gets killed off. I know he gets killed off because Sweetie and Middle have spilled the beans about that, but he's one of my favorite characters, so each episode that he's in I keep my fingers crossed that it's not the one in which he dies. And this one wasn't.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

But Is It A Sport: Curling (Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!)

You might think that with the end of football, I've got nothing more to say about sports. You'd be wrong -- partially -- because the fact is, I've got nothing much to say about sports...but that was true during the football season, too.

With the end of football, I can focus my sports-related attention on other things that aren't necessarily "football" or "making jokes about Packers fans and pointing out how stupid they are," or "pointing out that everyone gets on Brett Favre about ending his season with an interception on 3rd-and-long but things look a little different once Peyton Manning does the same thing, am I right?" Through the long, cold offseason (and, yes, it's always cold in Wisconsin, even in May and June and July), I think about other sports topics, topics like Is that thing really a sport?

That's the genesis of "But Is It A Sport?", another feature of my old, defunct sports blog (it's this now) that I'm resurrecting here. In But Is It A Sport? I analyze whether a given activity is, or is not, a sport. I've done this already in the past for a great many things, but those posts are deleted and so I can do it again, starting all over with the task that falls onto my shoulders -- my shoulders because I'm a natural born authority on everything from possibly-right statistics to words that are so lame they're cool -- the task of determining whether that thing is a sport.

Today's Thing-That-May-Be-A-Sport is... Curling!

The Basics: Curling is like shuffleboard, only slower, and using things your mom handed you when she wanted some help around the house.

In curling, teams of two to four players slide a large stone (or "rock") down the rectangular square of ice (or "sheet") to a target on the other end (the "house".) The game consists of ten rounds (or "ends"), with each "end" being the "throwing" (but not really) of 16 stones (or "God, that's a long round").

One player takes the rock, and kneeling down, "throws" it by shoving gently forward and caressing the rock towards the other target. Once the rock is released, the sweepers jump into action... sweeping. They use specially made brooms (or "brushes") to guide the rock, helping direct its path and extend the throw. (Or "really? They use brooms?") There is apparently yelling during this time, and players may use a stopwatch to help determine something or other.

There are three kinds of shots, which seems impossible given that it's a slow-moving large rock on a straight sheet of ice, so I'll just name them and move on: They are the the guard, the draw, and the takeout.

Once all the rocks are thrown and the ice has been fully cleaned, or something, the score is added up by using math, specifically, geometry, kind of. A team gets one point for each its rocks that are closer to the center of the house (or "button") than the other team's closest stone. Got all that? I thought I gave up those kinds of calculations midway through 10th grade when Mr. Mulrooney stopped teaching to me and focused on the rest of the class.

There's also something about a biter which, sadly, is not an opponent chosen to try to interfere with the sweepers.

How much cooler would this picture
be if that lady in the back was about
to tackle one of the sweepers and gnaw
off her arm. 73% cooler, that's how much.

Does It Use Specialized Equipment That Costs A Lot Of Money? This is one of the first, and most important, criteria for being a sport. Things that don't use lots of equipment and cost tons of money to play can never be sports, because if you don't need lots of money and tons of equipment, then theoretically, anyone can do it, at any time -- like, say, running. Anyone can just get up and run, whenever they feel like it, unless they're being interviewed by Regis Philbin. Or soccer: all that takes is something round, and some space, and you're playing soccer. Or being a lawyer: All you have to do is own a tie, and talk.

That's why none of those things qualifies as a sport, or gets respect. Curling, then, must have specialized equipment that costs a lot to play or it may not make the cut as a sport.

Curling uses rocks and brooms. That's it. And ice. Rocks, brooms, and ice. Or, as it could be paraphrased, life in the upper midwest.

Sorry, curlers: a rock is a rock, even if one does cost $475.

$475: Or about 1/2 an average mortgage payment.

Quite literally free for the taking.

Does It Have Big Names?
To have a chance at being a sport an activity has to have big, recognizable household names, the kinds of people kids will hang posters of and who might show up in a cameo role in an Adam Sandler movie. Googling the phrase most famous curler leads one to this headline from this site:

Corner team stocked with famous curlers
Former world champs McCarrel and Tetley on board, Ryan on standby

So there are famous curlers, curlers with names like McCarrell and Tetley, which sound like famous-sports-guy names. The article, though, appears to be not so much about McCarrell and Tetley, but about Corner, and how he was maybe going to retire or something. I'm not sure, actually, what the article is about. I just skimmed it. But I did read this paragraph:

"I was really tired of the game," said Corner, 40. "Tired of competitive curling and all the travel, the time away and never having summer holidays. I'd been doing it since 1988 and I just felt I wasn't getting the same feeling out of the game. The passion wasn't there, so it was time to step back."

In curling, Word Balloons are
mandatory equipment.

And thought, instantly, how there might be a market for a new kind of sports movie, one about curling. It would start with a shot of Corner, standing in his home, staring at all the Purple Hearts he's won (that's the award that you get for winning the Ontario title in curling), and the pictures of those years on the road with McCarrell and Tetley, and thinking about hanging up the ol' rock, when McCarrell calls him up.

"Did you hear?" McCarrell says to Corner, who hasn't heard because he's been pensively staring at things. So McCarrell tells him: "Tetley's dead, Corner. It was a tragic accident. One of the biters on a guard shot didn't cross the tee line, and that was it for him." So Corner decides to have one last round and try to win it all for Tetley. I call it Blank End (after the curling term for an end in which no stones make it to the House.)

But until that, or some other great curling movie gets made, the two most famous curlers in history aren't exactly household names. And one of them might be dead -- that's what I heard on the Internet.

The lack of any great curling movies (I assume; it's Sunday and I'm too lazy to google it) leads me to question whether curling will meet the next test, which is:

Is It On TV? It can't be a sport unless it's televised. You know that old saying about a tree falling in the forest when nobody's around, so we'd all become fishermen or something? Isn't that a dumb saying? But it does go to show that if your activity is not on TV, it's not a sport.

Curling, apparently, will be on TV now that the Olympics are here again. Doesn't it seem like the Olympics have become an annual thing, or something that's always going on? I disliked the idea of alternating the Winter and Summer Games when it was first proposed, and I've been proven right (as always) because the Olympics are no longer a once-every-four-years special event stretching throughout the whole year; now they're always there and they last a couple of weeks and if they don't feature Michael Phelps, nobody cares. (Luckily for NBC, Phelps is competing in the Biathlon this year.)

But curling will be on TV, according to, and will also feature a "grandad," a guy who is the oldest member of the US Olympic team -- maybe the whole team, not just the curlers -- and who I was all ready to make fun of being old until I realized he's six months younger than I am.

Plus, he looks like
a movie star.

I adapted to other athletes and celebrities being, for the most part, younger than I am and still told they were old -- like Brett Favre, who's considered old and is a year younger than me. I always figured Well, they only seem old because it's a very physical, demanding thing they do and so it's hard to do that well when one gets into the 30s or 40s. But now, I learn that 41 is old for... sweeping. Great.

I didn't know if curling was only on TV during the Olympics, or whether it was only on TV at those times that channels are desperate to televise something, like Sunday afternoons or opposite the Super Bowl, so I double-checked on ESPN, and learned that the curling matches are already over for the entire Olympics. The Olympics which are, as I write this, 36 hours old.

I can see where this is heading.

Does it have an arcane rule that only a total insider could understand? Great sports have great rules: Football has the tuck rule, for example, a rule that appears not only to mean the exact opposite of what it's titled, but also which makes no sense when you get into the details of it. It's great rules that sound contradictory and make no sense which allow activities to rise to the level of sports, making the presence of at least one arcane rule a necessity to qualify as a sport.

And arcane rules allow one to claim confusion and
get away with certain liberties, right Mr. Belicheat?

Curling seems promising -- the Potomac Curling Club's site has four different versions of rules, including one called Skins Rules, which turned out not to be for naked curling but was instead for a "more aggressive" version of the game. Will it let people hit each other with the brooms? Let's see:

Sadly, no. But they do have a rule which allows for players to use something called "Draw Shot Distance" at the end of pre-game practice to determine who will throw First or Second Stone, and if that doesn't do it, then the teams will use their "Draw Shot Challenge" ranking to decide that, and if that doesn't do it, they toss a coin. That's arcane enough for me, and if a coin toss was enough to determine who would sign first at Appomattox Courthouse, it's good enough for everyone.

Which brings us to the final criteria: Can You Get Seriously Injured Playing The Sport? Anything that's really a sport carries with it the prospect of cool sports injuries, the kind of cool sports injuries that lead fans to go Ooooooh! when they happen, and cheerleaders to dote on the players while they heal up, and eventually, an orthopedic surgeon to get a new condo on Vail.

Did you know that orthopedic doctors used to just be called orthopedic doctors, until Baby Boomers starting getting older and needing orthopedic doctors, only the Boomers (who didn't change the world in the 60s) wouldn't go to an orthopedic doctor, because they felt that was for old people, and, as Roger Daltrey famously sang:

"Hope I die before I suck it up and go see an orthopedist for that nagging knee injury I got when I tried to see if I could dunk the Nerf Basketball in the backyard"

So doctors solved that problem by changing their name to Sports Medicine, and now boomers go happily. Yet another reason to pity Boomers and put them in nursing homes as quickly as possible.

I'm sure the nursing home will have curling.

Anyway, Curling must have at least the potential for injury if it's going to be a sport, and, unfortunately, potential is all it has. Curling seems tailor-made for injury: rocks, ice, and sticks: it could be like hockey, only with a far heavier object to hit at your brother and make him cry. But nothing happens. Here's an amazing shot, by curling standards:

That was a lot of yelling and shouting and all, for what amounted to a bunch of women cleaning up after something. And that was one of the fastest shots I've seen in curling. Most of the time, it's not even that fast. Most of the time, nothing appears to be happening.

The Verdict: Curling is sometimes called "chess on ice," which tells you pretty much all you need to know: Anything that can be compared to chess is emphatically not a sport. Chess on Ice would probably be more of a sport. Especially if it was Live-Action Role Playing Chess On Ice.

How come, in fact, Live Action Role Playing Chess is not already a sport? It's been more than 30 years since George Lucas showed us that little chess game on the Millennium Falcon, the one where the pieces battle it out on the board; how has nobody yet come up with the idea of having actual people dress up like actual pieces on the Chess board, and then battle it out for real? I think Live Action Chess should be added to the Summer Games 2010 roster immediately.

As for Curling: Not A Sport.

Update: After finishing the above, I checked to see if there already was Live Action Chess, and I found out that

(a), there is:


(b) That is so the opposite of what I was thinking, and
(c) Seriously, who are those people? And why are there furries there?