Cracka Jacks

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Dear Penthouse,

I never thought it would happen to me. And, so far, I’ve been right.

Dear Chums,

Did I ever tell you about the time I went to the Insta-Princess’s family reunion? The one from this past July?


Well, let me start off by saying that I don’t play golf. I’ve been on a golf course maybe twice in my life, but I can’t say what I did on the course even remotely resembled “playing golf”. I’d probably have come much closer to success either time by bringing a pool cue and playing billiards with a Titleist. (I did, however, throw a golf club down the fairway just so I could live a cliché.) The Insta-Princess accuses me of being old, grumpy and white, but if golf were the clear indicator of all three, you couldn’t tell by me.

Now, we had just finished up with my family’s reunion the week before, so the Insta-Princess and I weren’t looking forward to yet another one. Plus, it was during my family reunion that we discovered Wiggy was gonna burst on the scene, so you can imagine that we wanted some time off to absorb the ramifications of this new eighteen year tax deduction. Still, despite our protests that one reunion a year was enough for us, my mother-in-law insisted, and had in fact paid for our tickets in a bid to get us to make an appearance. Half our battle was won: we attended the Friday evening get-together and went on the lam for the next day’s gathering.

Actually, the Friday meeting was pretty nice. Slightly cramped, sure, but everyone was kind, snacks and drinks were provided, and I got to meet a lot of people I’ll never remember, and see numerous photos that were excellent, but that I’ve already forgotten. Thus is the way of reunions.

What I didn’t care for was the planned activity for the evening. That is, someone evil devised a “find this kind of person” game where you went around with a sheet in hand and had to match a random person with one of the attributes listed on the sheet. For example, the sheet provided such characteristics as “grew up on a farm” or “likes to fish”—and for both, separately, you’d have to find a person in the room who either grew up on a farm or liked to fish. Simple, eh?

There were numerous entries that described me in some way. I like to fish, you know? And, heck, I like to bowl, read a lot, collect wine, and ride a motorcycle. But, did I get asked any of those questions?

Not a chance.

My being the only white guy in the room, however, afforded nearly half the answer-seekers the opportunity to come up to me and say, “Now, I know you play golf.” There was no question or doubt; there was just this indubitable insistence that I, the palest dude in the room, hit the links. And by the sixth or seventh time this happened, the Insta-Princess and I were nearly in tears trying to hold back the laughter.

Good god. I look like an old, grumpy white guy who likes to play golf. I just can’t win.

Le sigh.

Wolfman’s Got Nards

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

You ever catch The Monster Squad?

Probably not.

Like a bastard child of Goonies and Gremlins, The Monster Squad focused on the adventures of a group of steadfast friends whose movie-esque troubles centered around, obviously enough, monsters, instead of bank robbers and vicious Mogwai. Their main nemesis? Dracula. His buddies? Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolfman, a sartorial mummy, and a creature from some lagoon. (I don’t think they had rights to use the name “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” so they called it “Gillman”. No, seriously.)

The film had plenty of weaknesses, and proved it in 1987 by failing brilliantly at the theaters. The critics at the time didn’t help, mind you, pushing the stake in a weeeeee bit further by giving it some pretty disappointing reviews. And, rightfully so.

But, here’s the thing. Unlike Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (televisión, not el film-o), a cult favorite due to its impressive writing, emotional depth, and campy but surprisingly accurate metaphors for surviving high school, The Monster Squad remains a cult icon thanks to its just being fun.

Despite being able to go batty (and hover, unchanged, in mid-air) does Dracula drive a black hearse with a skull jutting out from the hood? You betcha. Does he employ that ages-old and deceptively simple trick of calling himself “Mr. Alucard”? Uh-huh. Does Frankenstein’s monster stumble (slowly) across a little girl playing all by her lonesome? Sure, why not. Van Helsing make an appearance? Yep. No-one-believes-the-kids-so-they-have-to-save-the-world-all-by-themselves?

Fuck, yeah.

But the sheer enjoyment one can suck out of the film is probably best illustrated by this one YouTube clip:

“Wolfman’s got nards…”

G’bless ’em. Even if they didn’t do anything else right in the movie (they did), that line would still be a classic. (Well, classic to those of us who’ve thus far refused to mature.) They even managed to encapsulate some of the dumbest and most telling vocabulary ever uttered by a middle school kid in the ’80s: using “dorked” as a euphemism for getting laid. (In a related bit, the end of the movie has a hilarious scene where one of the boys is arguing with his older, high school-aged sister about whether she’s a virgin. She had just read aloud this mystical text that would have saved the day if she were, you know, all pure and stuff. Unfortunately, after the reading, nothing happened. Not even a weak abracadabra:

“You’re not a virgin, are you?” She shakes her head.

“‘No’? What do you mean, ‘No’?”

“Well… Steve, but he doesn’t count!”


So, The Monster Squad, I salute you. You bring back a little bit of the Halloween of my youth. Now, if I could only get a hold of some of those deliciously creepy sets…

Art’s In Heaven. I Wonder How He Got There?

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Now that Wiggy is busy building lips and ears and cheeks (many kinds) and a possible future receding hairline, the Insta-Princess and I’ve discovered that we now have to consider some of life’s kicks-in-the-butt that we previously thought wouldn’t (in the words of the wise ’80s prophet, Matthew Wilder) “break [our] stride”.

For instance, do we allow spanking? If so, should we wear the leather outfits and ball gags? Or, should we save it as a disciplinary measure for Wiggy should he do something naughty like bury the neighbor’s cat?

Since, for the most part, we weren’t really planning on having kids, these conversational topics failed to make their way to the top of the list; instead, we focused more on areas of interest designed for the dual income, no kids crowd. Like:

“Wanna cook dinner tonight?”

“No. Do you?”

“Not a chance. How about fast food?”

“We had that last night.”

“Right. Sounds good, though.”

“Yeah. We haven’t tried the Arby’s on the other side of town. Betcha it tastes different than all the other Arby’s we’ve been to.”

“Brilliant theory. Let’s go—hey, are we waddling?”

In our defense, we talk about smart things, too, like String Theory. Her opinion is that string cheese is pretty damn good, and mine generally centers around, “Say, did the cat eat string again? ‘Cause, otherwise, what’s that coming out of her butt?”

I suppose the one child raising consideration that we’ve (largely) done our best to ignore is religion. Now, luckily, the both of us don’t really butt heads when it comes to worshiping an almighty. Me, I’m an ex-Catholic who eventually transformed into a mighty robot atheist; the Insta-Princess is somewhat more inclined to believe in a vague “something” out there that has, thus far, handed her a good life (including, despite her occasional complaints and handful of restraining orders, moi). Personally, I kinda wish atheists would go the route of rituals and robes—because that was always pretty cool—but otherwise I haven’t missed religion. (I was an-occasional-weekend-but-mostly-holidays Catholic, anyway, so my lifestyle didn’t change much with the exception that I started enjoying Sundays a whole heckuva lot more.

Hey, pews ain’t comfortable.)

But, how do we deal with Wiggy? I’d like to think that personal religious preference is just that: personal; however, I also know full well that even if our own families didn’t believe differently than we do, there’s a world full of neighbors who won’t allow personal to remain such. People are nosy (including me) and will happily demand to know your religion (well, okay, I don’t do that); and if you happen to give the wrong answer, they’ll be sure to supply you with the proper instructional tract. Still, even if the adults in her world are gracious enough to leave that topic alone , Wiggy will face questions from her curious classmates, so she’s probably going to come across religion about five minutes after walking across that kindergarten classroom threshold.

I’m all for leaving religion out of our daily lives until she brings it up. And, then? Well, I want to introduce her to critical thinking as early as possible, but seeing as she’ll be, oh, a wee bit too young for that, I’ll probably try to stick to something short and simple like, “Nada. We believe in zilch.” Or, “We believe in Arby’s and the holy 5 for $5.95. Amen.”

Except, Santa Claus. By golly, Wiggy’s gonna believe in Santa Claus… even if he didn’t die for our sins. (Yeah, well, Jesus never saved Charlie-In-The-Box from the Island of Misfit Toys, either, so it’s pretty much a wash.)

Boys and Girls Together

Friday, September 7th, 2007

In case you don’t recognize it, the title of this post has been gleefully stolen from a book of the same name by, in my opinion (considerable that it is—also in my opinion), one of the best writers alive. Well, I assume he’s alive. He’s never called me, which is a shame because I have no doubt that we’d get along like gangbusters: I’d fawn and he’d preen. But, since he hasn’t called me, I guess I just don’t know whether he’s really, truly alive. I could query the wide world of Internet, but hell, anyone can make a dead person a zombie, given an anonymous proxy and five minutes to play around on Wikipedia.

So, William Goldman, if you’re still kicking things around (avoid buckets), give me a call to let me know how you are. You can then yell at me for stealing the title of one of your books. Until then, however, I aim to borrow it. And by “borrow” I mean “unabashedly steal like the little thief that I am”.

But, back to me. Or, more aptly, back to the lovely Tricia. (It’ll come back to me. I promise.) Now, Tricia had commented on my last entry, and had asked a question. Not one to miss an opportunity to write yet another blog entry to hear myself talk, I thought I’d devote a whole new entry to her question instead of answering in the comments. Lucky gal.

Boy or girl, she asked. (Wiggy, she’s referring to. Not me. I’m pretty sure Tricia knows what I am, and I know I know. But, just in case no one else knows… I’m a girl. No, boy. Damn.) Are the Insta-Princess and I, Tricia wants to know, going to find out whether Wiggy will be wearing next year’s exciting Spring collection of hoo-ha or kickstand?

In a word, no. (In a longer word, noooooooooooooooo.)

The Insta-Princess and I have no problems with soon-to-be parents finding out the gender of their kid. After all, there are perfect names to consider, colors to choose, toys to buy, clothes to get ready, and, most importantly, fights to have over whether a loving parent really should put his or her child through the most outrageous infant torment ever devised: The Harrowing Headband of Hell

For us, though, we’re going a different, headbandless route. We choose yonder path of surprise! Neither of us has a favored gender, so as long as Wiggy is intelligent, accomplished, talented, can fly, has the right number of nostrils, is a natural on the harmonica (just like his old Pa, no matter what anyone else says), and can convert base metal into gold, there will be love enough to spare. (No alchemy, though, and no bedtime stories. I remain anchored to that belief.)

Girls are adorable and funny and fun and for all of them that aren’t related to me, great to snog. They do, however, have this teensy-weeny social paranoia problem come the age of the teen. I’m afraid that, as good as I might be in other areas (computers, Halloween, books, and um… harmonica), I’ll fail as a fatherly paragon of good advice when it comes to the teenage years. Hell, I spent my teens lusting after the gals, not actually listening to them. The only sagacious advice I’ll probably be able to offer a Her-Wiggy would be, “Don’t get pregnant.”

Also, “You’re grounded.”

The last, admittedly, isn’t much good as advice, but I figure if she’s grounded, she can’t get pregnant. (Danae and Zeus aside, that is.) On the other ovary, however, girls can break gender roles much easier than their trouser snake counterparts. So, if she wants to be a king when she takes over the world, no one will blink an eye–or if they do, they’ll be executed, because that’s how Wiggy will roll. The reverse regal title for a He-Wiggy wouldn’t quite be viewed the same way. (Don’t look at me. I don’t make the rules; I just make bad jokes about them.)

Boys are hellions when younger. I wouldn’t have the same worries about a He-Wiggy when he reaches the teen years, but what if the little rascal kills me by virtue of having waaaaay too much energy? I don’t even take my dog for a walk on a regular basis, and the law quite clearly spells out that I can’t tie Wiggy to a leash and let him run around the yard in a circle until he’s exhausted. (Meddlesome, do-gooder politicians.) Still, men are judged by more than just their looks, so it’s possible that, like his Pa, he could still lose his hair and score a hot babe like his Ma. (Not his Ma, though. Just so we’re clear. I’m open-minded and all, but limits, folks, limits.)

So, the Insta-Princess and I are delaying these worries by not finding out beforehand. We figure we’ll freak out enough when the equipment, no matter ball or basket, comes popping out. (Or, I will. The Insta-Princess will be happy and content and sublime and totally, absolutely, out-of-her-mind, drugged. Go figure.)