Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Hogmanay! Huh?

I'm a proud Scot. Some examples:
~ As a child I was in awe of my mother's grandparents (Sidney & Maggie Row, immigrants) even though I could not figure out what they were saying during their little bickering sessions but somehow (perhaps because of this) I can now do a fantastic Scottish accent. (I love randomly broguing the phrase SCOTLAND YARD!)
~ On special occassions, my son and I proudly don our clan tartan neckties.
~ I love Craig Ferguson and the bagpipes more than my children (some days).
~ I almost bought a kilt when I was in Nova Scotia a few summers ago but (stereotype intact) I was too cheap.
~I actually own Scottish Strongman trading cards purchased at a highland games competition in Antigonish.
~And here's the kicker: I got married on Hogmanay! (And yeah, some people chose to, or as I like to call it, were forced to wear plaid.)

Despite all this, there's something I must confess. Someday when I finally travel to Scotland, it will all make sense but as of right now, this Canadian does not understand Hogmanay. What the hell is going on?

Craig Ferguson has an intriguing definition for Scotland's New Year's Eve celebrations. Hogmanay (noun): "a time when people who can inspire awe in the Irish for the amount of alcohol they can drink decide to ramp it up a notch."

It sounds like a pretty big deal. So I did some typically pea-brained research. I hope one of my readers out there can shed some much-needed light on this topic but until then, apparently this is what's possibly happening in Scotland right now:
  1. (no surprise) people are wearing kilts (with long johns I hope);
  2. (no surprise) people are getting rowdy and shit-faced drunk (just like here in Canada or the US or well okay, most of Earth);
  3. (surprise) people are throwing around balls of fire? (see photo borrowed from Life magazine online);
  4. (surprise) people are giving gifts or at least bringing food to parties (ceilidhs)? Thanks to Laoch, I am told these usually involve fist-fights. Uh, why give someone a bloody-nose if they brought you a present/bundt cake?
  5. (surprise) a tall dark-haired dude must be the first one to enter your home after midnight? (I believe this tradition is referred to as first-footing? And I'm guessing my wife would choose Jake Gyllenhaal.)
  6. (no surprise) people listen to great music and sing Old Lang Syne at midnight. (Robbie Burns may be the bomb dot com but can anyone possibly remember those lyrics? It's like a misheard lyrics wet-dream.)
  7. (surprise) people burn other shit too? Seriously, a Viking ship? I think Ewan McGregor might be involved. (Is there no security or what?)
  8. (no surprise) people have to kiss pigs (I suspect this is how women all over the world describe New Year's Eve.)
  9. (surprise) people fling haggis and/or curling rocks at politicians (I totally made this one up but it sounds reasonable to me.)
Whatever it is they're doing, I only have one more thing to say: I'm jealous.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What a year can be like.

While driving during periods of snow blindness not long ago, someone tried to pass a big semitrailer but couldn’t see my vehicle in the oncoming path. I wasn’t aware of the other vehicle either because I had just met another semitrailer that temporarily snow-blinded me. Once my wipers cleared the windshield I realized there was a vehicle in my lane coming straight at me. In fact, we probably both realized this simultaneously.

I hit the brakes. Slow-motion commenced. I began a mini-debate in my head: do I aim for the ditch now and roll or is there enough time for the other driver to get out of my way?

Despite the weighty feeling that everything was slowing down, there didn’t seem to be time enough to ponder much of anything. There was nothing I could do about it; at least there was nothing I could safely do about it. What was going to happen was going to happen.

Sometimes this is exactly what a year can be like.

What was going to happen was going to happen. The unexpected. The sad. The unfair. The confusing. Those challenges that seemed overwhelming. The bitter disappointments. And the delights too. We all do what we can to prevent disaster or regrets. We all try to keep safe and strong and healthy. We all try to put our arms around those we love and hold them close. We all hope they will do the same. We all make choices. Some good. Some bad. But sometimes, no matter what we do or should have done, what happens happens anyway.

That was my lesson this year. Forgive yourself. You tried. It wasn’t entirely your fault. Maybe it wasn’t your fault at all. And maybe time will tell.

That other driver manoeuvred around that semitrailer and out of my lane. Barely. Only afterward did I notice my heart beating like someone had just finished boosting it with jumper cables.

Soon I regained composure and speed and continued on my way, with the other driver on my mind. I wondered how he was feeling. I found it odd how quickly I calmed down. Maybe it wasn’t as much of a near-miss as I had perceived? He was clearly to blame for that near-accident but I felt no animosity. I have probably done the same thing to some other driver at some point. And to be honest, I just wanted to forget about it. That was probably my way of coping.

Sometimes this is exactly what a year can be like.

That was my lesson this year too. Move onward. Get home. Get comfortable. Cry if you need to. Be thankful. Slow down. Learn. Love the ones you love. Cope. Hope.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Things that are most likely the devil:

Did you know that an anagram for New Year's resolution is "A weenier lousy snort?" Seriously. (Go here.)

That just sounds unpleasant to me and therefore must be avoided. You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wordfuse (The Guide Blog Award)

guide dog + blog = Guide Blog (noun): a blog that assists other bloggers by providing much-needed direction, guidance or steerage; capable of helping us change course so as to lead us to a better place, and even if just for a short time helps us all feel not so alone; the ever dependable blogger's best friend.*

I've been blogging for less than a year and I'm so happy Chelle (a true guide blogger) recommended it. It saved my sanity. It was exactly what I needed. Just before I joined this world, I had been thinking about keeping a journal again. I needed something to help me sort through my ever-more-jumbled thinking. For a big chunk of my 20s I kept one but it wasn't creative enough for me and I was too stupid then to realize that I could make it more than a journal. Blogging is the solution that treats my life (my teen daughter's phrase).

Over this past year I relished my blogging experiences and the bloggers who likewise love it: writers, artists, ranters, teachers, questioners, goofs, comics, armchair philosophers and more. People wanting to connect to the virtual ethos and just ride it like a surfer. Dare I say, I found my peeps? And they feed my fire: creative people, people with raw, honest voices, people who make me think and definitely make me laugh too. This is my criteria for all the blogs I follow.

Some days, someone's post was just exactly what I needed. In my opinion, those are guide blogs. Those seeing-eye blogs pointed me in a better direction, even when I didn't know I needed one. And so to thank them, I present my wordfuse blogger award to ten of so many (in no particular order) and recommend that you experience some of their posts, especially these ones that over this year, took me where I really needed to go:


Blog O Cheese

As Vinny C's It

Ninja Mom

all writey then

Didactic Pirate

frominbetween

ohfortheloveofblog

Highway 10 Revisited

Counterintuitivity

Buggin Word

*It was so hard to choose just ten. This post may have a part two.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Walrus-ness

The Walrus:
-a large, flippered, marine mammal easily recognized by its tusks, whiskers and great bulk, especially in the chest and stomach area.
-the origin of its name is a combination of the appropriately chosen words “whale” and “horse.”
-can weigh up to 4500 pounds.
-its name is practically synonymous with the word “blubber.”

I have always respected these creatures but truthfully, something that happened a few years ago gave me a new appreciation for the walrus.

I love snowmobiling and skiing and skating but probably my favourite winter activity is sledding. It’s fun to partake in and watch. I really appreciate that the only slightly athletic skill involved is mild bravery. It’s simultaneously suspenseful and hilarious—spectators wince and cringe then remark, “Oh, that’s going hurt later.”  Injuries are usually minor and one is often inspired to laugh through the pain mostly because everyone else is too busy laughing to provide medical assistance. Anyone can “get air.” And let’s be honest—Canadians were born to sled.

Anyway...once while whooshing face-first down an icy hill on a wide, flat, duct-tape enhanced, surfboard-like sled, I skidded to a stop near a tree and my young daughter looked down at me, smiled and said, “It’s SO great how you embrace your walrus-ness!”


At first, I thought 911 might be necessary because my evil wife was laughing hard enough to burst a major blood-vessel. Indeed, I laughed too; I knew the speaker intended this as a complement. Later though, after my wife had conveyed this story repeatedly to about ninety-eight people, I started to think about what my daughter actually meant by this statement and I believe she made an excellent point.

Do you ever feel like a walrus? In particular, are you feeling like one right now? Why not embrace it?


It reminds me of the famous poem “The Walrus & the Carpenter” of Alice in Wonderland fame. The only part I remember is this: “the time has come to talk of many things: of shoes, and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.”


Yes the time has come folks: pigs really can have wings. And so do we walruses, especially when we “get air” sledding down an icy hill.  Want to feel light and free and forget your worries (or your holiday-enhanced belly)? Well. Just jump on a sled and let your walrus sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide.*

*Blogger friends in warmer locales may have to visit a water park to walrus it up but it feels just as great there too.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wordfuse

NOK (interjection): No + OK = a word that expresses an emotion intended to reveal that the speaker has not authorized what is about to happen but knows it is about to happen anyway.







See: Christmas Day with my son and the big evil grin on his face that says, "I am going to shove this giant chunk of snow in your face despite your protests and you know it."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Whose feet are whose? (A Christmas Card)

"But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams."    ~William Butler Yeats

I'm just waiting for our teens to go to bed so we can fill their stockings....

Our little family rarely does the cliche thing. Believe it or not, this is my version of our yearly Christmas photo. Well, if we had a yearly Christmas photo. We're just not that type of family I guess.

As my children continue growing well into their teenaged years now, I am still perplexed by their accelerated physical changes and all the other changes too. Moods. Attitudes. What they value now. What they no longer seem to value. Not only are they growing, they are growing away from us.

How did this happen so quickly? I so fondly recall the way it once was...when it was quite obvious whose feet were ours and whose feet were our children. I washed those feet. I clipped those toenails. I put band-aids on those feet. I tickled those feet. Those feet once clomped around our house in our shoes. I rubbed those feet. I led those feet safely across the street. But not anymore.  

These feet are reminders that my wife and I don't have that much time left with them. How did they get this old? Can you tell whose feet are whose? I can barely tell anymore. I know. I know. Every parent has to go through this. Every parent finds it difficult to fathom how quickly time sneaks away.

But these feet are my life. These are the feet I love: my wife, my daughter, my son, myself. I really have nothing more precious. I am afraid for the future. For their future. But hopeful too. I have spread my dreams under these feet. World: tread softly. Please.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dear Santa: this is a test.

My wife really loves the whole Santa thing. Me not so much. She's way more in charge of Christmas at our house than I am and I appreciate that she makes Christmas very warm and memorable for our whole family so there was no way I was ever going to infringe on her desire to Santa it up.

So when my kids were little and questioned me about Santa's existence, I wanted to tell them the truth but out of respect to my wife I just shrugged my shoulders and said to them, "What do you think?"

What I really wanted to say was, did you know that when the makers of Coke put Santa's image on their packaging, sales increased dramatically?

I didn't have to say or do anything though. She didn't reveal this until she was about 12 but, unbeknownst to us, when my daughter was about 8 she decided to test the Santa theory herself and left a special note, just for Santa, hidden in her bedroom on Christmas Eve.

Uh. Apparently he did not respond. *Insert bubble bursting sound effect here.*

Unfazed (as she later described it), she kept this all a secret and continued to perpetuate the myth for our sake. Smart cookie eh?

However, this little act of Christmas subterfuge makes me suspect that someday my daughter may work for the Canadian government.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Reads

Grade 7. I had a terrific teacher for a while. Maybe he was a sub? I can picture his black curly mop of hair and his goofy smile but I can't recall his name. He was the first teacher to reveal something about reading that had never occurred to me before: subtext.

I can unlock the meaning? And I have a key?

Yup, he used the lyrics to Hotel California to mess with our virgin-interpretive minds. Before this experience, I had always loved words and enjoyed reading but he planted a seed for a much more interactive experience. He deepened my reading. And thinking too. Love that guy.

So I became a serious reader. And I'm not alone: see Life of Riles. I mined his top ten 2010 reads for ideas and I decided to list my favourite 2010 reads, in alphabetical order.

A writer meets a fan?
Strange. Intense. Compelling.

Non-fiction. A father's
heartbreak  as his son sinks
deeper into drugs.

Non-fiction. A father's
attempt to cope and find
meaning in his son's
rare disability.

The most hilarious book
about punctuation I've ever
read. (And I've read two.)


Graphic Novel. A thought-
provoking, quirky, funny,
oddly affecting story.

The story of a tragically
clueless boy trying to
find his Jewish parents.
Surprising and despite
the subject matter: funny.













The story of a victim who
chooses not to be a victim
and the teacher who
opens her mind and spirit.
Unique voice; stylistic treat.


A 5 year old narrator.
A disturbing secret revealed.
A skylight.
 











Interesting answers to
this difficult question.

Non-fiction. Informative.
Wacky. Quite a cast
of real characters.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wordfuse

*cumbertoothsome (adjective): cumbersome + toothsome = when food is especially delicious yet awkward, problematic or tedious to actually consume. See pomegranates, s'mores, poppycock, caramels, candy-apples, frozen bananas, chicken wings, bbq ribs, double cheeseburgers with all the fixings or, if you have braces: everything.

*Cumbertoothsomely (adverb form): how babies and toddlers eat all the time. Also how drunk people eat when they stumble home from the bar or a party: see David Hasselhoff.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Was and Wasn't

     Eight years ago this week, my Dad left our home and returned to Saskatchewan for Christmas and to await another spring, his favourite time of the year. Before he left, he stood at his truck, afraid someone was going to hug him. While my wife and kids and I hugged my Mom, my Dad stood his ground. I obliged his unspoken request but my wife and children (just barely school-aged then) didn't. The next time I saw my Dad he was dead. I had a feeling. He died suddenly on a cold spring morning the following April. My Mom said he was eating breakfast and suddenly pushed the table away and fell to the floor.
     In the past eight years, I have thought about my Dad many days. We didn't have a typical father-son relationship. I suppose no one does. What is a normal relationship? And yet our relationship seemed closer than the one my older brothers had with him. At least, I think it was. (As close as Dad might ever get.) Yet we didn't agree on much. I am still the black sheep.
     My brothers are practical and responsible and industrious. They are what he expected. Me not so much. I once thought I was his opposite but I'm not, and yet I am. Confusing, I know, but I'm trying to explain. I saw the side of my Dad other people rarely ever saw simply because I was always seeking to know the real him. I saw the cracks and I pried them open. I never bought his facade and I challenged his bullshit. I asked personal questions. I rattled him. I got under his skin. I very rarely ever intentionally disrespected him and I surely did not want to purposely disappoint him but I didn't avoid anything out of politeness either.
     And I think I became the side of himself he hid, the side I pried open, the side I was so keenly interested in: the man who loved movies and stories and beauty and humour, the curious man, the man who dreamed of flying, the man who wanted to explore the world, the candid man, the emotional man, the spiritual man, the foolish, silly man who didn't act his age. Sometimes I'm positive I became the man he might have become if his mother hadn't become frail and absent and bed-ridden for almost two decades and his father had not become an alcoholic. In other words, the man he might have become if he had actually had a childhood.
     Is that what we do with parents? Mine them for the qualities we want to inherit and disdainfully discard the rest? And then wind up with what we chose and their worst qualities too? I seek to make you understand him and yet I didn't really understand him myself.
  • He loved to talk and exaggerate and spin a good yarn yet he always avoided the truth of the matter.
  • He was not demonstrative or affectionate yet he never once hit or spanked us.
  • He wheezed when he laughed and he laughed a lot yet he had a grinchy demeanor.
  • He swore all the time yet he never once said fuck.
  • He believed in work, it was his religion yet he hated churches. 
  • He was a farmer, practical and rooted in harsh reality yet he was a dreamer, always seeking spring instead of admitting fall frost. (He made me a dreamer too.)
  • He wanted to fly a plane someday. He even built a runway. (Tell me that's not a dreamer.) It never happened yet he made sure to arrange my first plane trip, something I'll never forget.
  • He loved to travel yet he did not believe in recreational or holiday time.  
  • He made toys out of iron to give his grandchildren yet he claimed he was so busy he had to work 18 hours a day.
  • He said that to raise happy kids you should just give them everything they want yet he had nearly nothing growing up.
  • He always told me land was the most important thing and that someday some of his beloved property would be mine but this never happened; instead he paid for my education even though he detested universities.
  • He always gave rides to hitch-hikers, he was quick to share gum, candies, money in his wallet, he frequently forgave long overdue bills, yet he didn't believe in charity.
  • He would always sit on his knees at the kitchen table and there would be a big ring of salt and pepper around his plate whenever I cleared away his dishes yet he never said please or thank you.
  • He loved the outdoors and wildlife and would bring home wounded animals: rabbits, an owl, a bear cub (I kid you not), even a raven yet he loved his bulldozer and thought nothing of pushing down trees and busting through beaver dams and thought climate change was a comedy routine.
  • He was overtly political and he told me who I should vote for; I rarely voted for his candidate yet I could never fathom not voting (and now refuse to tell my own children for whom I vote).
  • He told me once after we finished installing a door: "There, now we can quit arguing." Confused, I replied, "I didn't know we were."
  • He often told his friends I was smart and they would tell me about these conversations later yet of course, I most strongly remember the one time he directly told me I was stupid.
  • He always had to be in charge or first (so exasperating) yet he rarely had to tell us twice and never had to raise his voice.
  • He loved to remind me that his mother was an artist. He loved country music, dances, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and a good movie bar-fight and he loved it when a sassy woman punched a man in the movies and he loved "The Flintstones" and restoring old vehicles and welding and building toys yet he thought the arts were a waste of time and money. 
  • He held not-so-private grudges yet no one was ever turned away from our door.
     He was and wasn't many things. Just like me I guess. And if I could, I probably wouldn't change anything about him. Miss you Dad.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Things that are most likely the devil:

Gourmet dessert truffles are basically chocolate-flavoured butter. Just sayin' (and salivating like the dog-raised-on-trans-fat that I am).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wordfuse (Holidays recipe-for-disaster Edition)

Eggsnog
Ingredients:
~6 eggs
~4 cups whole milk
~3/4 cup heavy cream
~1/2 cup plus 2 tbps of sugar
~1/4 tsp salt & 1 tbsp vanilla
~1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
~1 cup rum

Directions:
Whisk eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla in a large bowl until well-blended. Continue whisking as you slowly pour in the milk until it is completely mixed. (Yeah, I don't know how you're supposed to do that either.) If you can believe it, continue whisking in a sauce pan (on your lowest possible heat setting). Whisk. Whisk more. Whisk ad nauseum for 25-30 minutes or until you can't stand it anymore, run to the corner store and buy eggnog. Or just drink the rum. (Okay, so I'm obviously not Nigella Lawson, aka WOW.) Take a cab to the office Christmas party, or really any holidays get-together, but NOT the family get-together (this part is pretty important). Drink too much. Mayhem ensues. Suddenly realize you are snogging with someone in the corner of the living room. Voila! Eggsnog.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thankful for them. First.

     One of my most memorable Christmas experiences mostly happened underneath the kitchen table.
     Someone at school tried to convince me that Santa didn’t exist so when I was sent to bed on Christmas Eve I waited and waited and waited until everyone had gone to bed. Silently, I then took my blanket, tiptoed into the kitchen and crawled under the table to wait for Santa. Santa wasn’t going to make a fool out of me.
     Almost immediately I fell asleep.
     I guess I missed Santa because the next thing I recall was seeing my Mom's legs moving around the living room next to the couch where my two brothers and I had safety pinned our Christmas socks, the big wool ones my Dad wore, equal space between each sock. I watched my Mom moving silently. So I waited while she worked. And waited. Soon she returned to bed. And then, of course, I went to take a peek at the gifts she placed on our ratty old couch. It was still dark but there was just enough light...and then, there it was. (Cue music.)
     At that point, I forgot Santa. Who cares about Santa when the perfect, perfect gift is perched on the couch just waiting to be played with? A miniature John Deere snowmobile. Green of course. With a little switch and then there it would go, bumping over the carpet and later, lurching over snowdrifts. I think the hood even lifted.
     That gift wasn’t from Santa. It was from my Dad. I knew it right away.
     I returned to my room with the snowmobile, promptly flicked on my light and turned on the little switch underneath my most awesome little snowmobile.
     The whole house woke up.
     My mother was probably angry and frustrated by the noise, anxious to get back to sleep, weary from her busy Christmas preparations (the turkey would always thaw in the kitchen sink overnight) but she did one thing exactly right: she let me sleep with my new snowmobile.
     I have received many terrific gifts over the years but this is the childhood gift I remember with the most joy.
     Kids young and old, this is my message for you: don't spend so much time thinking about Santa. What to give. What to spend. What to do. Wondering when enough is enough? Worrying. None of that matters. Santa doesn't deserve so much of your time. Nor the credit.
     Instead, notice what your Mom and Dad do. Or did. Or tried to do. Or gave. And be thankful for them. First.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Awesomeness.


     I just finished reading Neil Pasricha's Book of Awesome, a book inspired by the website 1000 Awesome Things. Intended to celebrate the little joys in life, it cites such awesome things as bakery air, the last crumbly triangle of potato chips at the bottom of the bag, the way old people smile at little kids, sweatpants, and laughing so hard you make no sound at all. I'm still pondering bakery air. Sorry but it just makes me all gushy with happiness inside.
     Definitely a pick-me-up, that book inspired my own quick list as follows, in no particular order: 
  • Scorching hot deep-fried fish & chips from a street vendor. Awesome!
  • Opening a bill and discovering that it's much lower than expected. Awesome!
  • Checking off the items on the to-do list in your brain. Example? Replacing our old deck: check! Taking that off my list last summer felt so satisfying. This feels especially good when the dreaded task takes less time than anticipated. Awesome!
  • When someone you love rubs Vicks Vapo-rub on your congested chest. Awesome!
  • Rubbing your feet together under the covers. Awesome!
  • Snowmobiling on a not-too-warm-but-not-too-cold, sunny winter day. Awesome!
  • When something does not take as long as you thought it would, like a meeting. Awesome!
  • Surprise chocolate. Awesome!
  • Chinooks...such a warm reprieve from winter in Northern Alberta. Awesome!
  • When your kids do something unexpected that makes you proud. Awesome!
  • Ice cubes. I couldn't live without them. Awesome!
  • When your wife needs you for some reason that is not annoying. Awesome!
  • Fixing or installing something yourself and then guess what? It works. Awesome!
  • Cooking something that people actually enjoy and ask for another day. Awesome!
  • Unexpected sports prowess. My son's Junior High boys basketball team once challenged the parents in a game and I survived! (That's as good as it get for me folks.) Awesome!
  • When someone recommends your blog. (Like maybe you'd appreciate Oh For the Love of Blog or From Inbetween or maybe Counterintuitivity.) Or thanks you for retweeting her. Awesome!
  • Making others feel good about themselves. Awesome!
  • Controlling your emotions. And keeping quiet when you want to say something that probably won't help. I love it when I can resist these urges. Awesome!
  • Learning the secrets behind magic tricks. (My son is really into magic tricks right now and after he surprises me, he reveals how it works.) Awesome!
  • When you suddenly feel skinnier. Awesome!
  • When you share a smile with another guilty stranger trying to surreptitiously buy chips and dill-pickle dip at the grocery store. Awesome!
  • The perfect comedy clip on television that makes you laugh so hard you can barely breathe and this experience is even more awesome when you share it with someone in your family while everyone else looks at the two of you like you are insane. Awesome!
  • When someone really gets you. Awesome!
  • When someone you love sings (on or off tune). Awesome!
  • When someone you love plays the guitar for you. Awesome!
  • When you don't have to groom yourself. I love it when I don't have to shave. Awesome!
  • When someone takes the time to make sure you receive their copy of a book because they truly believe you were meant to read that book. Awesome! (Thanks Megan.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wordfuse

thingamadiscombobulator (noun): thingamabob + discombobulate = an object at first quite puzzling and difficult to name or even comprehend but whose function becomes clear after the initial period of confusion, yet likely remains unnameable. These objects may be odd or disturbing or creepy or even beautiful but they always inspire wonder, just like art should. (Long story short: they make you go huh.) See the very thingamadiscombobulating Moggit for more examples of intriguing idiot-genius.
Did the lamp melt? No.
(Apparently it's a rug. Huh.)



















Possible synonyms: 
  1. thingamadiscombobsyourunclators;
  2. whatchayourguessisasgoodasmineamajig;
  3. *shrugs* I don't frickin know.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weird Word-of-the-Day

Har (interjection): expresses the sound of laughter, with a [delightfully] sarcastic connotation.

You might be thinking that I forgot to double the har. Nope. I prefer one. I do indeed appreciate this word's sarcastic-ness but I enjoy it more for its disconcerting nature, especially when using it just once. Doubling the word sends a fairly clear message: "I find what you say to be harmlessly amusing but silly." However, the single har implies something different, something more difficult to interpret.
That's why I've decided a single har is the perfect comeback for my teens. It flummoxes them. Momentarily perplexed, it knocks them off balance, makes them jittery. (Yeah. My parenting goals are likely not chapter titles in parenting guru handbooks. But whatev.) This technique might even be the dazzle camouflage of the war that my wife and I are currently fighting known as raising teens. An example follows.

Teendaughter: Just so you know, I volunteered to be the designated driver after the party tonight at [insert name of teen-with-too-much-freedom here]...

Pulsing Forehead Vein (this is what I named the voice inside my head in these types of situations): When did she ask for the vehicle? When did she ask to go to the party? Where is this party? Who is chaperoning this party? What sorts of frat-boy teen wannabes will be at this party? Where is my taser? Oh hell no...

Teendaughter: (ignoring my pulsing forehead vein) and drive everyone home...

Pulsing Forehead Vein: With our one-and-only family vehicle? The same one I'm sort-of partial to no one barfing in?! The same one you never, ever offer to put gas in? Oh hell no...

Teendaughter: (bubbly) But because it will take a lot of time to drive everyone home I will need a later curfew.

Me: (one eyebrow raised, high intensity eye contact engaged) Har.

Teendaughter: (confused silence as she eyes me curiously and realizes the conversation is not going to continue according to her happy-go-lucky-out-the-door-before-anyone-can-say-no plan) MOOOOOOOOOM!

Yup. I love this word.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wordfuse

smeeze (noun): smothered + sneeze = a word that refers to those constipated sneezes that do not reach fruition; the uh, unconsummated sneeze; the action of beginning to sneeze characterized by the tell-tale intake noise but then...nothing; a squelched sneeze, lots of ah but no choo.
Caution: this sneeze may be quite disconcerting to others especially during public transit *sudden flashback to university days riding a city bus trying to make eye contact with an attractive young woman but then the bus turned into the sun and I smeezed and well, she looked at me as if I were a hairy wart.* Smeezing may cause others to question your sanity or at least your level of anxiety (considering you seem to gasp, unprovoked).
See Kevin Federline's status in the rap world. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Eep.

     I have a thing about shaking hands. Another pea-brain thing but nevertheless....
     I still recall the first time I shook someone's hand: Grade 2.
     I had just won a poster contest, sort of a big deal I guess because there was an assembly and a man in a suit presented me with a book and about $25, give or take $25 (that part is not so clear). I could not recall the drawing. I drew so frequently it could have been anything. Nor did I recall entering a contest. Yup peeps. More evidence that I have a history of being clueless.
     Anyway, the suit reached out to shake my hand. I had no idea what he was doing. None. Total discombobulation. It's that innocent kid stage, eh? Reminds me of my cousin Rory who, on the first day of school, knew enough to go stand at the urinals to pee but was still clueless enough to pull his pants down to his ankles before he did.
     Anyway...the suit nodded at me. I looked at the principal and his perplexed face combined with his furious pantomiming indicated I needed to lift the paralyzed stump that was once my arm and somehow interact with the stranger's extended hand. So I reached out with my left hand for his already extended right hand. And for a moment, we stood there, holding hands. FAIL! Despite my blunder, everyone clapped. And the applause felt great. Still though, I wondered, what the heck is going on? (Apparently my drawing skills were significantly more advanced than my social skills. Hmm. Has anything really changed?)
     This was not a negative experience. As an adult, I don't fear shaking people's hands. I did not become Howie Mandel. However, it might explain why I am sensitive to the whole shaking hands experience. To me, it's important. I want to show respect. But the margin for error makes me even more neurotic, if that's possible.
     Example. Think of the last time you shook someone's hand. Whether comfortable or awkward, how would you describe it?
  1. The Dead Fish Shake
  2. The Crusher
  3. The Two-handed Shake
  4. The Finger Shake
  5. The Sweaty Slide-out
  6. The Linger-too-long Shake
  7. The Too Feminine or Too Masculine Shake
  8. The No-eye-contact Shake
  9. The Wipe-on-the-pants-before-I-shake Shake
  10. The Dreaded There-is-something-about-this-person-that-makes-me-not-want-to-make-physical-contact-but-I'm-going-to-anyway-and-even-shake-hands-more-assuredly-now-to-overcompensate-for-that-thought Shake  
     Just this morning I had to shake a stranger's hand.  Here's the breakdown, in slo mo. I came around the corner and encountered a stranger at work. I smiled and said, "Good morning." A third party entered. Introductions ensued. No, no, no, I shouldn't shake this person's hand, not right now. Did she see me hesitate? Oh yeah, here comes the hand. What can I do? How can I refuse? I extended my hand. Further, further. Our hands met. It's a good shake, a firm shake, we make eye contact....
     Unfortunately this occured mere seconds after I came out of the bathroom at work. My hand? Still wet. Seriously wet. Just soap and water peeps. Honest. For some reason, I was on air dry. But she didn't know that!
     Eep.
     Now that is a lasting first impression. FAIL!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Yeah, no.

     My son and I like to pick up weird stuff at the grocery store. This glossy bowling ball of a fruit caught our attention. I can't speak for my son, but for me, I think it was the netting.
     I imagined a nubile island woman, a flower tucked behind her ear, climbing a tree to pick plump pomelos, her dark hair dancing around her head in the wind, she bites her bottom lip and tears her fishnet stockings to gather the stolen fruit together to....
     Sorry. Uh, sidetracked (into a Jude Deveraux novel apparently).
     Ahem. Like I said, it seemed like a good idea at the time. But typical of a variety of temptations, this tastebud adventure did not meet expectations. In other words, this honey pomelo was more crusty and acidic than my Aunt Donilda.
   

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Things that are most likely the devil:

So tired.
     Why do so many people complain about sleeplessness? Depending on one’s life span, we sleep about one third of our lives away, possibly up to 25 years?! This just proves what I now believe: sleeping is overrated. What a waste of time! And so unproductive too. I’ve decided that this is the reason why I barely sleep anymore. Folks, I’m just trying to boost my efficiency.
     There’s plenty to do. So much to accomplish. Why not complete tasks until one or two in the morning? Why not get started at five o’clock in the morning? I do. I’ve hardly slept for the past three nights and this has enabled me to accomplish a variety of things:

1. I remember cooking a meal at 6:30 a.m.
2. There was a third thing but I can’t remember what it was.

     Here’s my hypothesis: we are hardwired to be up in the middle of the night. Babies instinctively know this. Babies recognize they can accomplish all their goals beginning right after midnight until whenever the hell they want. It’s genius.
     Oh, sure. Those wacky scientists claim sleep deprivation has negative effects:

1. nausea and headaches.
2. hallucinations.
3. tremors and rapid involuntary rhythmic eye movement.
4. irritability or more severe reactions such as temper tantrums.
5. obesity.
6. clumsiness and ability impairment.
7. slowed word recall and other memory lapses.
And wait for it....
8. yawning.

     Since I stopped sleeping I haven’t noticed any of these so called symptoms or side-effects. No tripping. No nausea. Headaches—who doesn’t have those every day anyway? No hallucinations. (Okay, one. But it turned out to be a garbage can in someone’s front yard. And it was dark.)  Tremors. None. Eye twitching? I prefer to call that eyelid exercise. No irritability. Okay sometimes. People need to just leave my root beer alone OKAY?  Obesity? No comment. Ability impairment? Well no tripping anyway. (Did I say that already?) And I rarely drive so this is not a problem and it is just a coincidence that I couldn’t insert the key in my doorknob yesterday. Slow word recall because memory lapse of the of the of the

     Where am I?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wordfuse

     fauxthentic (adjective): faux + authentic = a word used to describe something or someone obviously fake, yet legitimately so (as if the subject owns their disingenuousness, either due to cluelessness, entitlement or deep, deep insecurities [perhaps all three]); subjects fitting this description often inspire their own Halloween costumes (and sue for their share of the profits).
     See spray-painted pink metal Christmas trees, politicians shaking hands with "the people" during election time, reality showmances or Snooki for example: Bravo Television executives, excited to offer viewing audiences barely tweaked versions of what they are already watching in horror, have announced the latest fauxthentic reality show: The Real Housewives of Celebrities in Rehab (who may or may not have been on Dancing with the Stars.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One Creepy Red Balloon, Paris & a Noise

Creepy random red balloon.
      My daughter likes scary movies. I do too. So I decided she needed to watch something with just a tad more substance than the pathetic fare I'd noticed her watching: The Wicker Man remake (puh-leese) or The Hills Have Eyes (populated by banished royal family relates). I mean come on, what's next? Chucky?1
     No. I wanted her to actually be scared. (Yeah. Not your normal parent I guess.) Like when those two freaky twin girls show up in the hotel hallway in The Shining or when Jeff Goldbloom begs his girlfriend to help him be human again in the remake of The Fly.
     Anyway, my parental conscience and my excessive overthinking disability pruned it all down to The Sixth Sense. I reasoned she might enjoy it so I gifted it to her and suggested we watch it as a family.
     Six. Months. Ago.
     That kid! There's a saying: "Attention Defici--oh look, a butterfly." Yup. Let's just say she's easily distracted.
     Anyway we finally watched it and we were just at the birthday party scene where the bullies lock Cole in that cupboard at the top of the spiral staircase. (Come on! Did that family live in a Paris hotel or what?) And duh, there's obviously a very disgruntled Parisian in there. Anyway, my little family and I were all snuggled in our family room downstairs under blankets watching intently (kinda)....

My son: (chewing on his blanket to alleviate his burgeoning fear) I hate this movie because it's so real.
My wife: (on a tiny fraction of the couch wedged between the arm and my daughter's feet) Just watch.
My daughter: (clutching her phone like it's a big meat cleaver and texting at the same time): *tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick (ad nauseum)*
Me: (shaking my head at my teen daughter while having a debate in my pea-brain about the symbolism of the red balloon floating, floating, when suddenly...) Press pause.

     There's a noise upstairs.
     Everyone ignores me.
     There. Is. A. Noise. Up. Stairs.
     But. We. Are. All. Downstairs!
     We listen. There it is again! We tiptoe upstairs. We wait at the top of our stairs. Yeah I know: JUST LIKE THE MOVIE!!! But I didn't realize that until later. Instead, these were my thoughts: It sounds like...like...someone sharpening a knife...someone very skilled and confident...sharpening a frickin knife! (Thankfully, my composure somewhat maintained, I did not SCREAM this at my family.) It's coming from the kitchen. And that knife sounds plastic?! We peer around the corner. There it is again...My God. It's coming from the computer!!!
     Yeah. So. I quickly googled "why does my cd/dvd tray keep opening and closing?" and scored 619,000 results. I bet one of those links directly to that damn M. Night Shyamalan. And this is revenge for what I said earlier about his movies.

1To be completely honest, most scary movies whether they are excellent, mediocre, or even a few lame ones (including Chucky) have the same effect on me: they scare me. And another thing: the title of this post is inspired by a fellow blogger who knows way  more about scary movies than I do and whose post titles, quite franky, suggest some sort of personality disorder (in a very good way). Click here. She's hilarious.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nicknames

     I love nicknames. My oldest brother started this. He chose nicknames for my brother and me and when we were kids they stuck. (They are now classified, so don't ask. And yeah, I know, hypocrisy with a capital H.)
     I didn't like that then but now I too feel this need to nickname people. For me it's a playful, loving impulse. It's like a slowmo air punch to my beloved's chin: I only do this because I love you.
     Unlike my brother, my nicknames do not stick because IMO, they shouldn't. A long-term nickname is limiting; it loses its flavour. Words are delicious to me. New spices, new flavours. So I like to let mine evolve. And there's no logic to them. They're not alliterative and usually, they have no resemblance to anyone's actual name. I have nicknames for my wife, my daughter, our pets and even one co-worker friend (I shouldn't divulge his nickname. Let's just say it has something to do with urine and it never fails to make me smile.) But mostly my nickname compulsion is aimed at my son.
     This is a guy thing, isn't it?
     My wife tolerates this but once when my son was still a toddler, she vetoed one of my monikers. From those I can recall over the years (in somewhat order), can you guess which one she put the kibosh on?
  1. Smiler
  2. Bum-Scoocher
  3. Big Tooth
  4. Dawg (Word to Randy Jackson!)
  5. Dawg Log
  6. Diaper Log
  7. Rat-boy
  8. Googler
  9. Googlefish
  10. Hossenfeffer [sic]
  11. Mr. Deebs (This is loosely related to his love of all Adam Sandler's movies which I introduced him to with Happy Gilmour, a classic.)
  12. Deebzee
  13. Deebus LasVegas
  14. Ding Dang
  15. Flappy
     She vetoed "Diaper Log." Can you believe it?! She claimed I was calling him a piece of poop.
     Yeah. So?
     Oh that nickname still makes me chuckle so. I explained to my wife that after all those years of changing his diapers, I was entitled to this but shockingly, she could not comprehend that "Diaper Log" is actually a kickass term of endearment. She didn't get it. She still doesn't even after I rented I Love You, Man for her and kept pointing at the screen to underline each moment I felt validated. Oh I love that movie. Thank you John Hamburg. That movie just gets me *double fist pump.* Uh, yeah, probably too much eh? Moving on....
     This nicknaming compulsion is so familiar to my son that he barely blinks an eye. In his teens now, he too seems to be developing the habit. Not long ago he began calling his mother a variation of Mom: "Mumps." And me? "Measles."
     Yup. I'm proud.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wordfuse

unloathe (verb):  unload + loathe = the action of unloading one's passionate frustration, anger and even hatred (may involve expelling what one needs to say with such force that spittle is forthcoming); often inspired as a reaction to general incompetence (insert name of currently hated politician here) or hormones, or low blood-sugar or perhaps when dealing with someone who repeatedly confirms they are going to do something that they indeed, never do. Ever. (Despite being deliciously cathartic, this practice is not usually recommended, especially between spouses/partners; instead just go into the bathroom, turn the fan and/or taps on and let 'er rip.): After his mother criticised her hair, house-keeping skills and Butterball turkey (all within a span of 15 minutes), his wife turned to him, made eye contact that could wither flowers and that's when, his eyes pleading, he whispered, don't unloathe right now; it's Thanksgiving honey, I'm begging you. See Sue Sylvester for plenty of other examples.

(Happy Thanksgiving US peeps. Hope your little family reunions are uh, calm.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Pillows

     My wife bought new pillows. They are HUGE. At first, typically, I assumed their sheer size would so distort my spine that in the morning I would wake to discover my junk directly under my chin. Sorry. Don't visualize that.
     Anyway, she's quite familiar with my overthinking-the-most-pointless-issues disability so she suggested that I just try them out for a few minutes. I shook my big old curmudgeon head  thinking, why does my wife do this? Look at these things: they're like princess and the frickin pea pillows... How much did these COST?!  I've explained before that I don't need new pillows because they're a luxury and how can I continue being a martyr if...? Does she have some sort of pillow obsession? Fluffy indulgences....
     And then I woke up 39 minutes later.
     I likey those new pillows. (Sigh.)
     Here's my point. Never, ever, would it have occurred to me to buy new pillows. After experiencing those new pillows, the same ones I initially deemed frivolous, I can't believe the condition of my old pillows. How did I sleep on those stale frozen pizza bread dough disks for so long?! I could snowshoe on those pieces of crap! I can't imagine what sort of a petri dish smorgasbord my old pillows probably are! I can't....
     I can't finish this. I want to say something about how perplexingly wonderful women are but my pillows are waiting for me. They're whispering. Ni'night.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dread

     Dread.
     Many things induce dread.
     Mondays. Maybe Tuesdays. The occasional Wednesday. Root canals. Income tax audits. Failure. Embarrassment. that look from people that seems to declare, Yup, you really are incompetent.  Large invoices. Early morning phone-calls. Everything my teens do. The bathroom scale. Spruce bugs. Turkeys. Dropping a television. Clothes shopping. Being boring. Unexpected mass home appliance breakdown. 
     I cringe thinking about these dreadful things despite having already experienced all of them and much worse. Even though I’ve been there, done that, I still dread. Heck, sometimes I even dread dread.
     Why am such an anxious person? And exactly what function does this emotion serve? Why are many human beings saddled with feelings of trepidation, dismay, and fear?
     Fear can be healthy, right? We need it to survive. Fear keeps us from merrily skipping across a freeway or trying to hug bees. None of us should hop in the elevator with the man who gives us “the creeps.” If we heed our instincts, fear prevents recklessness. 
     But fear hinders us more than helps us, doesn’t it?
     Is recorded history ripe with men and women paralyzed by fear?
     No.
     We must push through dread. Even on Monday mornings. Day by day. After all, what is there to worry about? In just two days tomorrow will be yesterday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wordfuse









*accidonkulously (adverb):  accidentally + ridonkulously = a word used to describe the action involved in an accidental but particularly kooky, bizarre or freakishly embarrassing mishap: Upon entering the parking space, I failed to notice the shopping cart and accidonkulously rammed it into the RCMP officer's car. See Tiger Woods for plenty of other examples.

* "Accidonkulously" sounds better than "accidiculously" for uh, obvious reasons. BTW, the etymology of the word ridonkulous (as a replacement for ridiculous) is apparently as follows: "created in the backwoods of a Mississippian moonshiner in 1968." The story goes that he was so drunk on moonshine that when he tried to mount his donkey (named Jimmy), it kicked him in the face and he was nearly killed. After regaining consciousness, he described the whole experience as "ridonkulous!" 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wordfuse

    
     What would life be like if Lewis Carroll had never been born? No Alice. No Tweedledum & Tweedledee. And no "Jabberwocky." 
     Carroll was a word genius credited with coining portmanteau, now used to describe the concept of blending words to create new words. Like "swass," for example. (What kind of sorry state would the world still be in now if that neologism had not been invented?) 
     Thanks to Carroll, we all possess the poetic license to mash-up, mesh, and mingle words. If the word doesn't exist yet, what better way to solve that problem than create it? I love words. I'm a workgeek. I'm an amateur lexicographer. And I'm always seeking new ways to play with words. That is what wordfuse is all about....
_______________________________________________________________________
numbsational (adjective):  A word used to describe something both numbing yet sensational, lively yet listless, likely due to an incongruity between hype and reality or an anticlimactic and unexpected outcome or general disappointment with the overall effect: Although I enjoyed the debut episode of Conan O'Brien's new show, I must admit that after all the hype, it was mostly a numbsational experience at best. See Hulk or pretty much most of the movies directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Things that deserve the stink eye:

     My teens eat disturbing things. Spongebob Alphagetties with brown beans and ketchup for example. Or raw hotdog appetizers followed by hotdogs microwaved so long they "sing" when they are cooked. Anyway, what follows is a recipe concocted by one of my 16 year old daughter's peeps (Abby), also 16. I tried one and I would describe it this way: like eating ground drywall.


Disturbing Teen Recipe #39
Ingredients:
~ 1 cheese puff
~ 1 M&M with a peanut inside
~ 1 real fruit (yeah right) gummie

Shove in mouth and chew. Laugh hysterically (while adults grimace). Repeat.

Monday, November 15, 2010

She said I could share.

      My daughter has been singing since she could talk. Her singing has a remarkable effect on me. There's that line from Othello, "O, she will sing the savageness out of a bear." I believe music, and all artforms, makes us suddenly more sweetly alive, suddenly separated from the day's ordinary-ness, the day's difficulties. Life just slips away. And it's doubly, doubly so when listening to someone you love sing, sing, sing....

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