March 30, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: Spectacular Crashes

In the it could just be a publicity stunt but even if it is it's still damn funny category, we have Eddie Griffin, funny man and terrible driver.

Eddie Griffin crashed a rare Ferrari Enzo worth more than $1 million into a concrete barrier while practicing at a racetrack Monday, destroying the car but escaping uninjured.

The comedian was practicing for a charity race to promote his upcoming film, "Redline," when he drove too fast around a curve at the Irwindale Speedway. Video footage showed the red sports car screeching before it ricocheted off the barrier with heavy damage to its front.

"Undercover Brother's good at karate and all the rest of that, but the brother can't drive," Griffin, referring to one of his past films, said after the accident.

Eddie's credits include the intellectual hit Deuce Bigalow, the brilliant Date Movie and this year's sleeper hit, Norbit. Honestly, it shouldn't have come as any surprise that, given his track record, the dude's judgment isn't so hot.

One of the best stories of the week flew below the radar for the most part.

Scott Weiland may not have had the best of weekends. The Velvet Revolver singer fought with his wife in a hotel, leaving the room trashed, and his wife allegedly burned his clothes. Burbank, California, police Sergeant Mathew Ferguson says Weiland and his wife, Mary, got into an argument at a boutique hotel that left two rooms vandalized. Police were called there on Saturday afternoon.

Police found both rooms had damage and items were scattered and plates were broken. He says Mary Weiland is a suspect in the vandalism, but Scott is not. No charges were filed and it's up to the hotel to decide if it wants to press charges. Police were then called to the Weilands' home in suburban Los Angeles on a report of a woman burning clothes in a trash can Saturday night. Ferguson says Scott Weiland claims the clothes are worth $10,000.

Mary Weiland has been booked for investigation of felony arson. The couple's two children, ages four and six, are staying with friends of the family.

Scott Weiland's wife said an imbalance of medications for bipolar disorder caused rowdy behavior that left hotel rooms trashed and led to her arrest for allegedly torching the Velvet Revolver rocker's clothes.

"The weekend's difficulties were brought on by a reaction to an imbalance in medications used to treat my bipolar disorder," she said in a statement released Tuesday by the couple's spokeswoman, Bryn Bridenthal. "Reports that we were fighting at the Graciela Hotel are untrue," she said. "Scott was simply trying to help me calm down. I want to make it very clear that he did not hurt me in any way. For lack of a better expression, I was unstable and just lost it," she said.

Who knew Mary was such a bi-polar bear who'd come unglued like seven caged tigers. I guess when your brain goes haywire like trippin' on a hole in a paper heart, you can pretty easily reduce your plush hotel room to still remains like a silvergun superman. Can you imagine all the other guests just lying there going, "hello, it's late, too late for a tumble in the rough." Scott should have whipped out a guitar and sung an interstate love song, or, better, a song for sleeping for the sour girl and let her glide off into a big empty sleep. At least it wasn't a sex type thing.

Sorry. I geeked out with Stone Temple Pilots songs there for a second.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (22)

March 29, 2007

The Big C

Yesterday I described my worst nightmare thusly:

...being stranded on the ledge hanging precariously above the Grand Canyon as Helen Reddy, clad only in leather bondage gear, stands above me at the rim belting out a never-ending version of I Am Woman backed by Lawrence Welk and his amazing polka band whilst millions of spiders spring to life in my mouth as I'm forced to engage in lewd acts with Bob Barker who screams "how do you like my version of Plinko, bitch?"

And while that would really and truly suck, frankly it's not something I lose a great deal of sleep over. Rarely am I anywhere close to the Grand Canyon and I hardly ever run into horny gameshow hosts with latent homo-erotic tendencies. No, my worst fear is checking out at an early age. You know, buying the farm, going Anna Nicole Smith, taking a dirt nap. It's not really the dying that bothers me, although for the record I'll admit that I'm averse to lingering suffering. Instead, it's the stuff I'd miss, like seeing my daughter grow up and getting old and wrinkly with Beth that scares me the most.

That's why the book I finished recently - nicely titled Kill Me which I realize should have been an indication it would deal with death - coupled with the recent news about Tony Snow and Elizabeth Edwards caught me a little offguard and forced me to ponder this crap. At the same time (I realize that it's heartless and terrible) I'm sick of hearing about these two. Their cancer is pretty much the only thing making the news this week. What they're going though is tragic, and awful, and not something I'd wish on even the most annoying asshat to walk the face of this earth but there are approximately 10.14 million people in the United States alone who are waging the same battle for control of their bodies with dignity, grace and strength. Where is the recognition for them? Where is the recognition for someone like my blogging buddy CJ who, despite her sporadic posts laden with excruciating details of the things she's going through to save her life, still manages to crack me up and inspire me?

I don't have any answers or miracle cures except that the sick - everyone who's fighting for their lives - should have all the help and strength we can give them. That's a start.

What is your worst fear? And look, if it involves Bob Barker, I'm going to know you're just cheating.

(Oh, and just for the record, I left the house this morning and what was sitting on the front porch waiting for me? A big-ass spider. They're coming after me, I swear. If you don't hear from me tomorrow, send help...and an exterminator.)

Posted by Chris at 7:20 AM | Comments (32)

March 28, 2007

Ziggy Cactus And The Spiders From Virginia

Yesterday evening, I was looking over Beth's shoulder while she looked at something online. "Ew gross!" she exclaimed as she gazed at sudden movement by the base of the monitor.

Beth: What are they?
Me: Um. They're spiders.
Beth: Those are not spiders.
Me: Then what the hell are they?
Beth: Oh, damn. Those are spiders!

There were millions of the little fuckers swarming all over the corner of the desk. Always eloquent in my horror-filled exclamations, I said "fuck" really, really loud. Even though Mia was standing beside me. Then, for variety, I said "fuck" again. Maybe even a little louder. Afterwards, I mixed things up by saying "fuck." Then I left the room pulling my daughter out with me.

See, that's pretty much my worst nightmare. Okay, okay. My worst nightmare is being stranded on the ledge hanging precariously above the Grand Canyon as Helen Reddy, clad only in leather bondage gear, stands above me at the rim belting out a never-ending version of I Am Woman backed by Lawrence Welk and his amazing polka band whilst millions of spiders spring to life in my mouth as I'm forced to engage in lewd acts with Bob Barker who screams "how do you like my version of Plinko, bitch?"

Fortunately for me, that's not the way the evening played out. I like Bob Barker. Just not in that way. Anyway aside from be glad that I wasn't sodomized by a popular game show host and sung at by an extremely irrelevant pop singer, several things became immediately clear. First and foremost, my fear of spiders hasn't gotten any better. Second, we have to move. Perhaps I'm overreacting. If Beth were here, she would have corrected me, telling me that there were only dozens, not millions. To-may-to, to-mah-to. That's beside the point. There were spiders. Crawling. All around me. All over my shit. Maybe we don't have to move...but our home office is dead to me.

That's just wrong.

Posted by Chris at 7:24 AM | Comments (60)

March 27, 2007

The Road Trip (The Late Weekend Recap)

As I mentioned yesterday, my grandmother turned 90 this weekend. Her family, church and practically the entire small Ohio town in which she's practically lived all her life decided to throw her a party. Beth, Mia and I went. She wasn't expecting us. She liked the surprise.

As always, check out my flickr site for the entire set

On Friday morning, we loaded up our car with all the stuff needed to make a six-hour journey with a toddler. If you don't have a toddler, I can assure you this is a lot of stuff. And I recommend acquiring the services of a sherpa. Six hours later - after coaxing our mid-sized SUV into tailing my dad's sporty Lexus - we pulled into my grandmother's driveway. Her face registered surprise immediately. After spending a few minutes there, we headed to dinner at a local hot spot. It's basically an ice-cream shop. According to my parents, it looks exactly the same as it did when the two of them hung out there with their friends in high school...over forty years ago. Mia loved it. I did too, once they brought out the hot fudge sundae. Afterwards we headed to the hotel for the evening. Despite our concern, Mia managed to sleep in her portable crib through the night without a peep. She never even does that at home.

On Saturday morning, we headed to my grandmother's favorite breakfast spot, Bob Evans, for breakfast. I'd never set foot in one but breakfast was good (sweet cinnamon pancakes!) and Mia loved it. After doing our best to wear the kid out, we got dressed and went to the 90th birthday party. The party itself was held in Tiny Midwestern Town's First Christian Church. The church has been in existence for over a hundred years. In 1970, my grandfather raised the money and led the designing of a sanctuary for the church. Before he died, I think it became the thing he was most proud of in life. He'd written an elaborate history of the church which was only slightly outdated when he slid into an Alzheimer's haze. I'd been to the church many times as a kid, watching him tend the roses, but it wasn't until his funeral last August that I understood how beautiful it is. It was nice to walk through it again, with my wife and daughter in tow. Just off the main area of the church is a small chapel. It's where my parents got married forty three years ago.

The party itself was wonderful. Literally hundreds of people, many of which I'm somehow related to, came out to wish my grandmother a happy birthday. She was thrilled and enjoyed every second of it. Mia, unfortunately, hadn't napped. We left a little early, safe in the knowledge that we'd see everyone we loved later in the evening at the after party. Around 5:30, we arrived at my grandmother's house. All the relatives I hadn't seen since the funeral were there. We ordered pizza, laughed and told all of the same stories we all tell when we get together. Even though we've heard them dozens of times, they were just as funny.

We left early Sunday morning hoping to arrive home with a little weekend left to us. Mia was wonderful in the car, thanks to another round of post-traumatic stress disorder-inducing Elmo DVDs. Halfway through the drive - somewhere in West Virginia, I believe - we pulled our cars into a road-side rest stop and celebrated my dad's birthday with an impromptu surprise party. It was odd but then so are we.

I have a strange relationship with Tiny Midwestern Town. On one hand, I know I could never live there. The most ethnically diverse restaurant in town is Taco Bell, everyone knows everything about everyone else, and it just feels, above all else, claustrophobic. But then, there's history. My parents grew up and met in that town. My dad and his best friend Walt met in second grade, hung out in that ice cream shoppe every day, and ended up working in the meat department at the local Kroger's all the way through high school. The cakes for my grandmother's birthday party came from the same Kroger's. Walt and his wife were there too. It's a small town. And even though it may be a small town with plenty of dead ends - literally and figuratively - and even though there seems to be one fast food restaurant for every two people who live there, it is, above all else, a community.

When I wrote about my grandfather's funeral last August, I mentioned that my grandmother had thanked me for coming home. This time, it was my aunt. The word home struck me then and now. See, I've never lived there, never spent more than a week straight in town. It most certainly isn't, unlike the saying, where my heart is. But it is where many of my roots are. That said, it feels good to be home. Our home. Where I hang my hat.

I've messily recounted the trip and gotten inarticulately philosophical on your asses. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm lucky to have the family I do. First, Beth and Mia are great traveling companions and really my two all-around favorite people ever. Second, when I'm 90, I hope that I'm happy, healthy and surrounded by family and friends. I guess that's all any of us can ask for.

Posted by Chris at 6:57 AM | Comments (23)

March 26, 2007

Weekend Recap: The Road Trip Edition

Since you and I last saw each other, a lot has happened. Specifically, in the past couple of days, the Cactus-Fish clan has:

  • Put 800 miles on our car;
  • Spent a couple nights in a hotel;
  • Surprised my grandmother by making it to Ohio for her 90th birthday party;
  • Celebrated my dad's birthday with an impromptu surprise party at a road-side rest stop in, I think, West Virginia;
  • Seen more people to whom I happen to be related than I thought possible;
  • Visited the church my grandfather helped build in which my parents got married;
  • Witnessed my mom get really drunk;
  • Discovered that my daughter is the best traveler in the world.

It's understandable that I'm a little worn out then, right? The good news? I took the day off. I'll be over here relaxing while you guys work. I think I deserve it.

More details (and pictures) on the trip tomorrow. Meanwhile, what did you guys do with your weekends?

Posted by Chris at 7:50 AM | Comments (35)

Haiku For Monday #159

I don't mean to rub
it in, but I took Monday
off. Ha ha suckers.

Posted by Chris at 7:39 AM | Comments (11)

March 23, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: The March (Sex) Madness Edition

March madness anyone? Oh, not that kind of madness...

How Do They Hit Those High Notes?

New Zealand opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who refused to perform with an Australian singer because his female fans threw underwear at him, on Wednesday won a lawsuit against her for pulling out of the concert.

Anyone noticed the use of the incorrect pronoun? Confused the hell of out me there for a second. Perhaps there's something we don't know about Mr. Dame Kanawa. Hrm?

Sex Ed.

A Rhode Island woman who routinely had sex with her boyfriend in front of her 9-year-old daughter to teach her about sex was sentenced to three years' probation, authorities said Tuesday.

Rebecca Arnold, 37, and David Prata, 33, who received the same sentence this week, told investigators they thought the practice would help the child to learn, prosecutors said.

"Basically, and I'm tempted to say idiotically, they believed it was helpful to the girl, Ms. Arnold's daughter; they believed it was helpful to her development to see them engaging in various sex acts in front of her," said Mike Healey, spokesman for state attorney general Patrick Lynch.

Do as I do, not as I say...not a phrase that should apply to sexual education. Duly noted.

Yes, Deer

20-year-old man received probation after he was convicted of having sexual contact with a dead deer. The sentence also requires Bryan James Hathaway to be evaluated as a sex offender and treated at the Institute for Psychological and Sexual Health in Duluth, Minn.

"The state believes that particular place is the best to provide treatment for the individual," Assistant District Attorney Jim Boughner said.

Hathaway's probation will be served at the same time as a nine-month jail sentence he received in February for violating his extended supervision.

He was found guilty in April 2005 of felony mistreatment of an animal after he killed a horse with the intention of having sex with it. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail and two years of extended supervision on that charge as well as six years of probation for taking and driving a vehicle without the owner's consent.

Sweet jesus, what is wrong with people?! If you're that hard up, I have one word for you - hookers! I'll even spot ya $50. You'll end up with a pretty ugly-ass hooker for that kind of dough but hell, it's got to be better than a deer. Right?

Posted by Chris at 8:15 AM | Comments (29)

March 22, 2007

(Things That Make Me Go) Hmmm

My Day. I thought yesterday was hellish. Boy was I wrong. Check out today's calendar.

Oh, and yeah, I realize I don't know how to spell aforementioned. It's early, people.

Items Caught In my Spam Filter. Erection sent a curious message entitled What Is Erectile Dysfunction? You'd think good old Erection would know. Curious Toronto kept it simple; the subject line simply read Zero. Qmana Extort wants you to know that it's Not My Protuberant while Ms. Lawrenta Hugo wanted to discuss Your Email Result (won)! but since my curiosity is sated in the subject line, it's just one less piece of spam I have to open. Messages from both Wesley Snipes and Jennifer Lopez were accidentally routed to my spam box. I'm not sure why except that, once opened, I was confronted by some pretty impressive images of, um, rather mature women, um, let's use the phrase going out for a Sunday drive if you know what I mean. Of course, above all, I was really happy to hear from my old friend Lame Thug.

Death of A Strange Dude. Larry "Bud" Melman died. What was kind of sad about this funny guy's passing? The last line of the CNN story. "There will be no funeral service for DeForest, who left no survivors."

The Radio. On the way home from work yesterday, I heard a peculiar ad on the radio. The ad's slogan? Donate your used car to the blind. Now, I know what they mean but my first thought? Does this country really need more crappy drivers?

Posted by Chris at 7:33 AM | Comments (24)

March 21, 2007

The Fifth Year

Over the weekend, there were a couple of protests in town marking the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq. This is nothing new. Protests are a dime a dozen in these parts. This one bothered me more than most, though. Demonstrations on both sides of the issue - supporting or denouncing the war - took place throughout the day. Shouting matches ensued. Sound-bites were recorded and broadcast. War supporters even waged their very own battle, surrounding the Vietnam Memorial in an effort to avoid it being captured by the legions of anti-war advocates. Beth, Mia and I were in the car a good bit, listening to NPR reports from DC most of the time. I was offended by what I heard. The tipping point was when I heard this - "If you object to the war then you best buy a plane ticket and get on a plane because this country isn't for you."

To me, the debate over the war is structured a lot like arguments about abortion.

I'm a guy. To my knowledge, I don't have a uterus. I don't have a dog in that fight. But it's a debate that, even dogless, gets me fired up. See, I support a woman's right to choose. If I had a vagina, I'd do the same. I don't feel like it's my right - regardless of the genitalia I sport - to restrict anyone else's rights to govern what happens with their own bodies. How should I know what's best for someone else? I rarely know what's best for me. That argument is lost on a lot (but not all, I realize) of folks who oppose abortion.

I refer to them as pro-life. They refer to me as pro-abortion. But that's not really accurate is it? I can't recall the last time I tried to talk any of my pregnant friends into an abortion. I've never pontificated on the joy that is an abortion. Honestly, it sounds truly horrific and I would never, ever get one. But, you know, I don't like the idea of owning a gun either but that doesn't mean you can't have one. I'm the tolerant one, yet I'm the one labeled as a baby-killer.

The war is much the same thing.

I hate the very idea of war. I accept that war is sometimes necessary but not in this case. I won't go into my anti-war rant. You've heard it before. Long story short - we were lied to then saddled with a war we can't win. But, see, I say something like that out loud and I'm labeled unpatriotic. Anti-war, to some, is anti-America. If you speak out in favor of peace and honestly, you don't care about the country or our troops. The pro-war protests this weekend were filled with vitriolic sound-bites that angered me and, worse, scared me, as an American.

For the record, here's my response.

I will not blindly follow anyone. I refuse to cover my eyes and stumble in the dark because it is, according to some, the right thing to do. I will question authority and I will arrive at my own conclusions. I can imagine no alternative in which I was not born into the family of Americans. I am fortunate to have received this life, these fortunes, these opportunities and these freedoms. I am fortunate to live in a land, the ideals of which inspire people to lay down their lives to protect the freedoms granted to them. I am fortunate that I live in a land created out of whole cloth by forward thinking men who saw injustice, envisioned a better society and had the nerve and willingness to shed blood to create it. But to ask me to accept blind logic is to marginalize over 200 years of struggle not to mention my intelligence and that of the other 300 million people living within the borders of this country.

If you believe in the war because you weighed the facts, struggled with the dilemmas and understood the issues, fine. If you believe in the war only out of blind faith, patriotism or because someone in a position of power told you to, well, I feel very sorry for you.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (47)

March 20, 2007

My Stupid Morning

Yesterday morning, in the interest of posting a marginally coherent entry outlining the basic events of the weekend, I omitted several details about the morning itself. I didn't, at the time, know quite how to convey the events that took place in the early morning hours and, frankly, I was hard-pressed for time. I don't think well before I ingest dangerous, bladder-threatening amounts of coffee. Here's what happened.

When I opened my eyes yesterday morning, I was uncharacteristically ready to go. I was startlingly awake, alert and I was looking forward to getting to work and tackling the day stretched before me. Clearly, I was delusional and deranged but, hell, I was motivated and sometimes you just don't question these things. I jumped out of bed, cleaned myself up, and headed downstairs to get a little breakfast ready. On my way downstairs, I glanced out the window at the neighborhood and noticed frosty cars. I decided to start my car and blast the defroster for a few minutes before heading into the sunrise.

I got my jacket on, found my extra set of keys, opened the front door and that's where the morning hit its first snag. See, the glass storm door was somehow frozen shut. Solidly. Almost immediately and without further consideration, I resorted to physical violence. Quiet physical violence, since Beth and Mia were still upstairs asleep. I pushed, I kicked and I forced, but, alas, I was not able to open the damn door. So I headed downstairs, exited from the basement, climbed the hill beside our house and went out front to start my car.

I slid back down the hill (for there was still snow and ice on our lawn yesterday morning), came back inside, popped a bagel in the toaster and perused a couple pieces of the Sunday Post while I waited. Once the toaster produced its crusty, warm contents, I threw my jacket back on, grabbed my cell phone slung my laptop bag over my shoulder, armed the alarm, ran downstairs and made my way back outside once again.

Our alarm's siren is really loud. I know this because I have some fairly recent first-hand experience. I would have made it out of the house without a hitch...had I not accidentally set the alarm to go off instantly instead of asking it to allow me the standard sixty seconds to get out of Dodge. I didn't. It went off. It was loud. Downstairs at the time, laden with all my shit, sherpa-like, I ran upstairs, jumping one baby gate, stopping to fumble with a second, and turned off the alarm. Then I stood, silently, for several minutes to see if I could detect any noise coming from upstairs. No screaming, no crying. Good. I reset the alarm, correctly this time, and headed out once again.

When I climbed the hill and made it to my car, I noticed I'd made a critical error. I hadn't actually turned on the defroster. My car was running but the windows were still coated with a fine layer of ice. I stowed my stuff, broke out the ice scraper and set to work. Still dark, I felt alone. Until, several minutes later - maybe ten minutes after accidentally setting off the alarm - I took the full force of an intense beam of light directly in the face accompanied by words no one is ever really delighted to hear. "Sir, can I ask you to keep your hands where I can see them?"

For those of you playing Cactus Gets Busted: The Home Game, if you just guessed that the cops were going to enter stage left, you are correct! I quickly shoved the bagel I was still carrying - for some strange reason, even though I'd started to remove the ice from my car - into my jacket pocket and raised my hands a little. Taking the advice of others in admittedly different situations, I walked into the light and almost square into a wall that just happened to be wearing a uniform, a badge and gun and was pointing a flashlight directly at me. A cop. A really big cop.

Me: Uh, funny story...
Cop: We got dispatched because an alarm went off.
Me: Yes. That would have been me.
Cop: You? Go off by accident?
Me: Yes.
Cop: Sir, what's in your pocket?
Me: That's my breakfast, officer.
Cop: Breakfast?
Me: Yeah. A bagel. Blueberry, if you want to be precise.
Cop: What's a bagel doing in your pocket?
Me: It's unclear. But then, I've already been unable to get my front door open and I set off my alarm. And it's only 6:30. Some things you just can't explain.
Cop: So, there's really nothing wrong?
Me: Nothing that going back to bed won't fix. But no, I'm afraid I forgot to hit the button on the alarm to call you guys off.
Cop: Okay. Well, I'm sorry to bother you.
Me: No, I'm sorry to bother you.
Cop: Have a good day. And enjoy your bagel.
Me: You too. And I will if I can get it out of my pocket.

And all that happened before 6:30 on a Monday morning. The rest of the day was actually somewhat anti-climactic. I wonder why.

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (55)

March 19, 2007

Weekend Recap: Dogs Like Girl Scout Cookies

It's Monday which means another weekend is, once again, behind us. Admittedly, this is a situation which sucks donkey balls. But the weekend was a busy one, I've got a lot to report so I can't dwell on that.

After work on Friday, Beth, Mia and I headed to my parents' house for dinner. I'll admit, I was tuckered out by the time I rolled out of work on Friday and I might have preferred to collapse on the couch for the evening but I'm glad we went. We had a great time. Now, my dad is a guy who's wonderfully kind and outgoing however he's overly conscious of other people's feelings. Including Mia's. The two of them have always gotten along but she's always been wary of him and I think he's always been a bit wary of her as well. Until Friday night. He became her companion for the evening, running around the house, dancing, trying to find cats to chase. And they have, like five (honestly it's either five or six but I always loose track) so it was a full-time job. We stayed out way past her bedtime but it was totally worth it.

On Saturday, we headed to Jodi's son Michael's second birthday party. There was more than a little playing, multiple rides in a little pink car I think Mia fell in love with instantly, and a shockingly impressive consumption of pizza. We had a wonderful time. Afterwards, I think we were all worn out. We headed home, had a little dinner and passed out for the evening.

Sunday involved a little sleeping in for me, the inevitable weekend Home Depot trip and an evening at the in-laws for dinner and desert. While the in-laws were neat and all, it was my brother-in-law's dog that stole the show. By the time we left, though, Mia had him trained, getting him to sit down and everything. I'm sure "accidentally" feeding him Girl Scout cookies didn't hurt his compliance either.

Most of you probably wouldn't automatically jump to this assumption but, if left to my own devices, there's a decent chance I'd become a hermit. I like time to myself and with my family. But through all this busyness this weekend, I was reminded that it's often through the eyes of other people - family and friends - that you're reminded how fortunate you are. And I'm one lucky bastard.

So, what do you, this very instant, be it major or minor, feel lucky for? And you guys got any good tricks for getting through a crazy Monday without losing my mind?

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (30)

Haiku For Monday #159

Ahhh Monday, my arch
nemesis. Sit on it and
rotate whydontcha.

Posted by Chris at 7:18 AM | Comments (7)

March 17, 2007

Finding My Inner Granola-Loving Hippie

My friend Charlie, all around nice guy and giver of free stuff, contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I'd be interested in checking out some cereal. My first thought was hrm, what the heck can I say about cereal on my site? The second thought? Damn, cereal sounds really good right now. And while the delivery didn't exactly fulfill my need for immediate gratification, the package did arrive in time to quench my desire for granola goodness.

The cereal in question is Nature Valley Oats 'n Honey. And this stuff rocks. As much as, you know, cereal can rock. It's not going to solve the crisis in the Middle East, it can't do all the laundry in my house, and it's not as neat and cuddly as a puppy...but it tastes damn good. It's like Rick Moranis, instead of shrinking the kids, downsized granola bars, added a few flakes and shoved the whole concoction into a box so it could eagerly await the addition of milk to make its breakfast superpowers complete. The funny thing is, I finished off the box this morning and its the first time I ate the stuff for breakfast. It's pretty much been an evening snack this past week.

So, long story short, this Nature Valley stuff is pretty damn good. It gets the Rude Cactus seal of approval. And that's one seal that can't be clubbed.

Posted by Chris at 10:29 AM | Comments (14)

March 16, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: The Case Of The Missing Schadenfreude

I was in an all-day meeting yesterday. It was, no shit, 12 hours long. As painful as I'm sure that sounds, it was really a pretty great day. But I'm now braindead. And? Braindead? I already mentioned that I'm brainded? Sorry. Must be because I'm braindead.

All that good strategic thinking left me without the good quality time necessary to get my schadenfreude on. So it's your turn. Yes, your turn to clue me in to the weekly schadenfreude I'm too braindead to deliver to you this Friday. Let's have it - tell me about the good, the bad and the ugly.

Once you're done, check out some magically cute booty-shakin' over at Beth's Playgroup Dropout site. Watch it, and you'll get twice your recommended daily allowance of cute. Warning - there is danger of cute overload. Consider yourself warned.

Posted by Chris at 7:01 AM | Comments (25)

March 15, 2007

My Auto-Responder (In An Ideal World)

Hi. I regret that I'm unable to respond to your inquiry immediately but I'll be away from the Internet on Thursday, March 15, 2007. I'm sequestered in a off-site meeting that would, I'm sure, make Twelve Angry Men look like a rollicking joyride through the comedic underbelly of the human condition.

I won't have access to email, voicemail, cellphone or sanity for the majority of the day and evening. I will, instead, be feigning attention whilst

  • rerunning the movie Three Amigos in my head ("I was thinking later, you could kiss me on the veranda." "Lips would be fine.")
  • attempting to discover workable alternatives to rocks, paper, and scissors
  • trying to figure exactly what a condom was doing in our yard...although, duh
  • silently plotting the overthrow of a small third-world country to officially launch my renewed quest for world domination and the implementation of Topless Tuesdays.

If you have a matter requiring my swift attention, I'm afraid you're shit-outta-luck. So sorry. When in doubt, please ask yourself, WWJJCD (What Would Jack, Janet and Chrissy Do?).

Chris Cactus

Posted by Chris at 6:12 AM | Comments (22)

March 14, 2007

Me Dress Pretty One Day


I had several important client meetings yesterday. As befitted the meetings, I outfitted myself in a nice, black suit, a blue shirt, burgundy tie and square-toed black shoes. Dress to impress. That's how I roll.

Everything was going fine, not a style violation in sight, until, before leaving for the first of my many meetings, I pulled a self-checkout in the bathroom mirror. As I was turning to leave, something caught my eye. A spot of white on black. A threadbare belt loop. It wasn't huge but it was noticeable...not because my ass is so great but because of the whole contrast thing. I noodled the problem through on my way back to my office. Once there, my gaze fell upon my suit jacket hung over the back of my chair...and the small hole on the right shoulder. A question came into my mind, and that question was threefold:

  1. Did I pull my outfit from my own closet or did I steal it from a homeless dude?
  2. How did I get mauled by a bear on the way to work without knowing it?
  3. What the fuck do I do now?

The answer came swiftly, as if borne on the backs of little couture angels cast in the images of Stacy and Clinton - a Sharpie! Oh yes. I immediately shut my office door and set about turning white holes to black. The suit jacket was flawless (if you, you know, looked past the hole which was much easier now that it was somewhat less noticeable). The belt loop was trickier, being located on the least accessible part of my body. I found the most reflective surface readily available to me - my office window, coated with some reflective shit - and went to work. Contorted and in full view of anyone in the building next to mine - a thought that only occurred to me after I'd finished - I fixed my emergency fashion faux pas. No one would know, unless they'd developed a strange obsession with my ass. But, no worry, I'd be sitting upon it most of the day.

I sat down, smug with satisfaction at the disaster I had, McGuyver-like, avoided. And that's when the collar button on my shirt popped off and, rather poetically, landed in my coffee.

Posted by Chris at 8:07 PM | Comments (45)

March 13, 2007


When my parents were here last, they brought over a model I'd put together with my dad when I was, like, ten. It was made of Legos, some rugged 4x4 van thing with all kinds of cool doors and big tires. I showed it to Mia on Friday night. She was fascinated. Obsessed, actually. Especially after she saw the steering wheel. A fan of anything she can potentially drive, she begged to step inside and steer. The problem was obvious. Mia is a couple feet tall. The model, around four inches. She never quite understood the issue. Instead she grew frustrated and sad. Tears streaming down her face, I eventually returned the model to the bag in which it came. It must be frustrating to be a toddler.

When I was a kid, my dad and I built models. Models airplanes, mainly, but we sprinkled in a few cars here and there for good measure. I remember building a ship as well but that wasn't nearly as much fun as the planes and the cars.

The models came - and still do, I'd imagine - in boxes, pieces arranged in some bizarre fashion clinging to plastic frames, labeled with tiny numbered tabs. We'd unpack the box, lay the pieces out and find the directions. We'd take the top off the glue, a clear, smelly substance that came out of a thick foil-like tube. We'd survey the pieces in front of us, flatten the directions and find the proper starting place.

Some of the models were complete in a couple of hours - a football game on in the background, peanuts in the shell in a pile on the table. Some of them took a few weekends to finish. They'd sit, untouched, on newspapers until we both had time to work on them together.

Finishing them was always sort of a drag. The little nubs of plastic, left over from tearing them off the plastic frame they arrived on, had to be filed down. Decals had to be doused in water and carefully placed. Paint - if you were truly dedicated - had to be applied. And I was never one for the detail work. After all, it was built. I could see it, hold it, imagine myself in the cockpit.

In retrospect, maybe I didn't like doing all that stuff because I didn't really want them to represent what they were intended to represent - small versions of F-14s and Soviet migs. Maybe, instead, I wanted them to remain forever flawed, forever incomplete so that anyone who looked upon them would recognize them for what they were - reminders of time spent with my father.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (28)

March 12, 2007

Weekend Recap: When Time Attacks!

Those of us here in the States (what do you Canadians do? I'm curious!) got to screw around with our clocks a little early this year, courtesy of our Fearless Leader Dubya and his ingenious revised daylight savings time plan. Now, I know the intent is to save energy and, in turn, money, but tell that to all the poor bastards who've had to patch hundreds of thousands of computers and applications to make this work. And while you're at it, tell all the folks who're going to miss appointments today because not everything worked quite the way it should. Oh, hell with them. The bottom line is that somewhere in the dark chilly hours of Sunday morning, I lost an hour. And I want it back. Really. Now, please.

See, this week isn't going to be a hell of a lot of fun. Quite the contrary. I'll be tied up in meetings all day almost every day. Monday? Meetings until 5:00. Tuesday looks okay but Wednesday's pretty bad. Thursday? I don't want to think about Thursday. Friday's still an unknown. At the very least, I'll be able to sit in these meetings reflecting fondly on weekend memories.

[Cue screen fade and cheesy flashback music...]

Friday evening found my flying solo. Beth met a friend for coffee whilst I tried a solo attempt getting Mia to bed. Bedtime hasn't exactly been a dad-friendly event recently. I didn't think my chances were at all good. I should have been more optimistic. It went wonderfully. We ate dinner, we played, we got into our jammies and danced to Radiohead then I got Mia into bed and she never made a peep. The rest of the evening was spent catching up on a fairly neglected cache of shows recorded by my buddy TiVo.

Saturday and Sunday brought blue skies and warm weather. We were playground-bound. Many outdoor pictures were taken, although none have been sucked from my camera to my computer, and those two days gave me the hope that spring is just around the corner. Watch, there's going to be a totally unexpected blizzard this afternoon.

Better than all the blue skies in the world - not to mention the post of mushroom risotto and chili we whipped up - was the fact that Mia slept through the night with nary a peep on Saturday. Starting around 4:00 on Sunday morning, I actually started to get worried. At 6:00 I woke up with her finger in my nose dispelling any concerns I might have had. That pretty much set the tone for Sunday actually.

[Re-cue screen fade and cheesy flashback music...]

So, here I sit, trying to get prepared for the week unfolding in front of my. My Outlook calendar is scary and I think it might actually be laughing at me. Juan Valdez better get his coffee-making ass in gear and kick coffee production into over drive. I'm going to need it. Wish me luck, too. I have a feeling I'll need a bit of that too.

Posted by Chris at 8:11 AM | Comments (33)

Haiku For Monday #159

Dammit, woke up late!
Now my morning is thrown off.
This week's gonna blow.

Posted by Chris at 8:04 AM | Comments (6)

March 9, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: Schadenfreude Aplenty

There's more schadenfreude than I can shake a stick at this week. My golden goblet of fresh-squeezed schadenfreude (not from concentrate) runneth over. Allow me to illustrate.

In the world of and emo freakshow Jared Leto, frontman for the insanely mediocre band 30 Seconds To Mars, headed into a crowd of fans whilst performing and suffered a broken nose as thousands of teens inexplicably wanted to get closer to the dude. Perhaps Jared should have been a little more paranoid about his fans. Like Blues Traveler's John Popper. See, he was arrested in Washington state doing 111 miles an hour (sadly, not in a 110 mph zone). One pulled over, police found pot, four rifles, nine handguns, a taser, a knife and a pair of night-vision goggles. The vehicle itself, a Mercedes SUV, was also outfitted with flashing lights, a siren and a public address system. According to cops on the scene, he was concerned about being left behind in the apocalypse. I'm not making that up. I swear.

And of course there's Ann Coulter. Ann is like the Energizer bunny (if the Energizer bunny was a skinny, blonde, venemous, loudmouth bitch who is teetering on the edge of sanity in the same way that Mussolini did back in the day). She keeps giving, and giving and giving...

At least two more daily newspapers -- The Oakland Press of Michigan and The Mountain Press of Sevierville, Tenn. -- have dropped Ann Coulter's column. A daily in Pennsylvania had dropped the column two days ago. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign gay-rights organization announced a campaign late this afternoon to get other Coulter newspaper clients to drop the columnist. This comes a day after HRC started a letter-writing effort that resulted in what it said were more than 20,000 messages urging Universal Press Syndicate to stop distributing Coulter. Coulter's exact words Friday were: "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I -- so kind of an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards."
Also in the world of politics, good old Scooter Libby was finally convicted of several crimes, among them having a name fitting an animated mouse better than a political figure of some stature, obstruction of justice and perjury. He revealed the name of an undercover CIA agent. Shouldn't do that, dude. A guilty verdict should not have been a shock. Being hung out to dry by the Bush administration? Also, not a shock.

Of course, there are always the freaky crimes that make me feel uncomfortable just reading about. Like the lady who used her kid as a weapon. Yeah, she used her four year old as a bat. Unfortunately, she connected with her husband, injuring him and the kid. Worse, however, was the Indiana pilot who deliberately crashed a plane carrying himself and his daughter into his mother-in-law's house. The ultimate losers in this world are the ones who take innocent people down with them. The most amusing losers, though, are the ones who self destruct in such an impressive way. Like NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak. NASA finally canned her ass. Well, that took long enough.

You know who I miss? Lenny. Jerry Orbach on Law and Order. The guy was a great actor and the character he created was brilliant. So I don't blame his widow for wanting a NYC street corner named after him. Apparently the city's got an issue naming the corner of 53rd and Eighth after the man. Personally, I think Manhattan Community Board #5, responsible for making this decision, could use a little talking to. If, maybe, you wanted to do the talking, they can be reached at

See...more than you can shake a stick at. Certainly a bunch of stupid cocksuckers in the world (come on, I've wanted to do that since Wednesday).

Posted by Chris at 7:23 AM | Comments (30)

March 8, 2007

Time Keeps On Slipping...Slipping...Slipping...

Me, I, myself, Chris Cactus, officially derailed at 12:18 PM yesterday. First, the phone rang. It always starts with the damn phone.

Me: Chris Cactus.
Coworker: Where are you?
Me: Who is this?
Coworker: Oh, this is Ed.
Me: Ok, so, Ed. Where am I?
Coworker: I don't know. That's why I'm calling you.
Me: Where am I supposed to be?
Coworker: Lunch.
Me: What lunch?
Coworker: The lunch meeting.
Me: Fuck!
Coworker: I saw your name on the invite list.
Me: And I'm not there.
Coworker: I noticed.
Me: I'm sick. I'm not going to be there. But thanks for letting me know.

I hung up the phone at precisely 12:18 and that's the instant I knew that there was something completely and totally amiss. That lunch thing? Totally not on my calendar. And that's the kind of thing I obsess about for weeks ahead of time, meticulously plan around and, most importantly, put on my damn calendar. What's worse is that I'm never late. For anything. I have a singular aversion to being late. Actually, my list of top ten aversions runs something like this:

  1. Spiders
  2. Tardiness
  3. The current presidential administration
  4. Rosie O'Donnell
  5. The Doors
  6. Large people (to include Rosie) in spandex and/or fanny packs
  7. Clay Aiken
  8. Cockroaches
  9. Zombies (not movies or books about zombies but actual zombies)
  10. Selling anything, buying anything or processing anything as a career. Selling anything bought or processed, buying anything sold or processed or processing anything sold, bought or processed or repairing anything sold, bought or processed.

I'm one of those annoying people who actually start getting antsy when they're not early enough for something. I realize this is something of a sickness but the world should, at the very least, meet me halfway and be on time.

I guess I just have the feeling recently as though I can't get anything done, that I can't actually get ahead. And when I do, the feeling lasts for approximately 12 seconds before several other turds find their way to the metaphorical fan. So, for that reason, Thursday finds me frustrated and really looking forward to the weekend. Oh, and I've still got the damn cold.

It's not Friday yet, is it?

Posted by Chris at 7:46 AM | Comments (44)

March 7, 2007

My Excuse

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (43)

March 6, 2007

A Picture, Three Conversations and Booty Shaking

One: The Brush
He: This is a fucking great brush.
She: Huh?
He: This's fucking great!
She: It's a brush...for the dishes.
He: I know! And it's fucking great!
She: I didn't know you had such strong feelings.
He: I likes me a good brush.
She: Obviously.

Two: Yub Yub
Me: Is this a squealing contest?
Me: Or did someone just run over an Ewok?

Three: My Left Foot
Colleague: He really gave this report his all.
Me: Good. I appreciate that.
Colleague: Me too.
Me: Hell of a lot better than giving just, say, your left foot.
Colleague: Uh-huh.
Me: Especially when they, you know, put their left foot in then take their left foot out. Then put it in again and shake it all about.
Colleague: You okay?
Me: Not especially.

And I'm not. I'm a little under the weather, actually. Somewhat heavy weather. The good news is that, while I had seven meetings yesterday (no shit), I only have two today. I might just survive after all. The other good news is that I taught Mia how to shake her booty last night. It was awesome, as you might imagine.

And how are you?

Posted by Chris at 7:23 AM | Comments (37)

March 5, 2007

Weekend Recap: Clean Up Your Face

Yesterday morning, after Beth had left for the gym, Mia and I decided to break out the crayons and color. At some point I noticed that Mia wasn't coloring; instead she was looking at me, adamantly rubbing her hands together then pointing at her face. It took me a little chunk of time to noodle it all through but I eventually pieced the signs together and discovered that Mia was, in effect, asking me to please clean up my face.

Please clean up my face? What the hell?

Thanks to Beth, I slept in yesterday morning and, upon awakening, I pounded cups of coffee like college kids slam brewskis. The mystery and meaning of please clean up your face still took me a few minutes of deciphering. See, during the weekends, I rarely shave. Apparently this offended Mia this particular Sunday.

So as not to prolong her agony, we headed up to the bathroom so I could shave. It's something she doesn't see very often since I usually shave weekday mornings when she's still asleep. Everything was going swimmingly until my face was all lathered, shaving cream in all the right places. Mia, looking on from the doorway, was taken aback. Things got worse when I actually started shaving. She stayed in the doorway, looking as if she was ready to run for her dear little life. Her face turned red and soon enough the tears came. It was as if I'd transformed from my normal, everyday dad-like self into a vicious interplanetary intruder from Blargon 7 whose mission it was to assassinate Elmo and systematically behead the Teletubbies. I'm happy to report, however, that I was able to finish shaving before she completely wiged out. And I still have my nose.

So, first I scare my kid, then I lie and piss off god.

While Mia has not yet forsaken her love of Elmo, she has formed a recent bond with Mr. Noodle. For a while yesterday afternoon, all she did was point at the television and say Noodle, Noodle. While a little TV never hurt anyone, it's a sure sign she's had too much when she starts begging. So I offered her an explanation.

Mr. Noodle and Elmo are both fundamentalist Christians. It's against their religion to be on television on Sunday.

One day, I'm going to pay for all this.

Posted by Chris at 7:26 AM | Comments (32)

Haiku For Monday #159

Another Monday.
Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.
For good measure - crap!

Posted by Chris at 7:25 AM | Comments (5)

March 2, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: VanSchadenfreude

according to Britian's The Sun...
Eager penguins rushed towards Pete Doherty at a wildlife park — as he threw them his leftover cannabis joint.

Then one of the birds wolfed it down — thinking it was a tasty morsel.

Junkie Pete, 27, was showing off in front of girlfriend Kate Moss by waving the spliff in front of a group of Humboldt penguins. As supermodel Kate, 33, giggled, he hurled the remnants into their pen, where one bird promptly swallowed it. It was a scene that would shock fans of animated movie Happy Feet — about a tap-dancing penguin and his pals. A fellow visitor who snapped Pete at the Cotswold Wildlife Park in Burford, Oxfordshire, said: “Everyone knew he was smoking grass — he was joking about getting the penguins stoned. “He threw them his joint and it looked like one gulped it down. It seemed very wobbly.”

What the fuck is wrong with this guy? I mean, aside from the fact that he's clearly off his rocker (if he ever had a rocker to begin with) and stoned out of his mind 99.99% of the day. Yet, while I know it's terrible, the image of a penguin with a wicked case of the munchies is just too damn funny.
according to The L.A. Times...
For Van Halen, the stars seemed aligned for a triumphant 2007. This month, the group will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the plan was to follow that with a summer reunion tour that would feature David Lee Roth back at the microphone for the first time since the Reagan years.

But, once again, the backstage soap opera of Van Halen is the story of the day.

The Van Halen tour has been ''shut down'' according to a top official at Live Nation, the huge concert promoter that finally surrendered in the face of the chaos surrounding guitar hero Eddie Van Halen. Roth, meanwhile, says he is unsure whether the mercurial guitarist will even travel to New York for the Hall of Fame induction on March 12.

''We have fragile politics in Van Halen, please accept that as a partial answer,'' Roth said. ''But I don't know if the Van Halens are going to go... I hope they do, but right now, I just don't know. Hope springs eternal.''

According to reports yesterday, Van Halen won't even play at their own hall of fame induction. Instead, Velvet Revolver will take the stage. Well, light up the sky and dance the night away! I had the feeling this one was going to be D.O.A. Seems they're outta love again. Maybe I was only a little dreamer to think this would actually happen. I guess there was some kinda eruption and some little punk came unchained. You know how it goes...push comes to shove then it's one foot out the door and onto the mean street. Where have all the good times gone? Happy trails, as they say. But don't worry - I'll wait.

A Note About Schadenfreude: Last week, Beth mentioned that Schadenfreude Friday didn't always live up to it's name. And I was forced to agree. See, schadenfreude is defined as satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune. Sometimes there's some legitimate schadenfreude but quite a bit of the time, I'm just pointing out some really stupid people and events. So yes, I realize the error of my ways...but the name's pretty catchy and sometimes accurate. I'm keeping it.

Posted by Chris at 7:54 AM | Comments (25)

March 1, 2007

A Post Like My Brain - Random

It's early, yet I'm wiped. And I have a two hour meeting that starts in a half hour. This won't be the best entry ever, so I'm going with the old bullet points.

  • I might have mentioned this before, but my daughter is obsessed with salad dressing. But not any salad dressing. In order to meet with her approval, the salad dressing must be that of Mr. Paul Newman. She's learned to say Paul specifically so she may address the salad dressing. She often lavishes Paul with kisses. Last week, I mistakenly left the salad dressing out overnight. Since I'm weird about food and abide by directives such as refrigerate after opening, I threw the bottle away the next day. Last night, she demanded Paul. All I could give her was Ken. Ken was not acceptable and yielded a tragically sad face. Note to self: pick up Paul on the way home.

  • News headlines have gotten stupid. Or just plain nonsensical. Take, for instance, Five kids die in icy pond, Scriptures in laps. What, precisely, does that mean? Or 200k dead, bone-thin babies, no charges. I'll be damned if that makes a bit of sense. How about Crooked Rep. goes country in jail e-mail? Did he journey to the country in random email musings? Or did he express a hankerin' to pluck the ol' banjo? Then there's Combine winners and losers. Since it's in the sports section of CNN, I'm guessing that they're talking about some new farming sport, maybe people jumping combines in their tractors. Or something. To follow-up on last week's Schadenfreude Friday, it's just another sign that the media doesn't think we're all that bright. Or doesn't care.

  • The other night, I walked around the house for a good ten minutes trying to find the remote. If I only knew then what I know now. Check out the Remote Wrangler, a helpful and fashionable accessory to help you keep all your remotes at your fingertips. Want to know the sad thing? I think this is an actual invention someone thinks is a great idea. Something that is a great (although potentially dangerous) idea? The Roadmaster Scrolling Message System. Imagine the possibilities.

  • I pass a firehouse on the way to work every morning. In front of the firehouse is a sign, one of the ones you can slide plastic letters into and change messages, which they do frequently. This morning, it read, simply, Be silly. Be honest. Be kind. Amen.

  • I'm out of time. I have seven meetings and no brain. I feel stupid...and contagious.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (34)