An Uncomfortable Conversation

Last evening, my twelve-year-old son asked me a question that took me aback and led to a stammering, rambling, and incomplete response that probably left the boy more befuddled than when he asked.

He asked me for an overview of the Terminator story.

I mean, I have only seen the first three movies (of five, apparently), the television series, and read one of the books. So I’m not an expert.

I could made it through explaining Skynet, sort of, and the plot of the first two movies and a bit about the television series, but, honestly, it’s hard to explain them all in gestalt. It’s probably best to explain each movie or property discretely and then gloss over the problems in the timelines and continua.

I don’t think he got it. I’m not sure I do. Perhaps the best explanation is the simplest. Intelligent unstoppable killing machines travel time to kill people who are troublesome in the future.

Man, I wish he would have asked me to explain something I understand better. Like women.

I Was At That Game

I watched a little bit of the baseball game last night while looking to see if the hockey game had started, and the Cardinals broadcasters talked a bit about Bob Uecker, mentioning that he had been traded to the Cardinals and won a World Series with them in 1964. So I went to his Wikipedia page to learn a little more, and I read about his work with the Milwaukee Admirals:

Uecker also appeared in a series of commercials for the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League in the mid-1990s, including one in which he re-designed the team’s uniforms to feature a garish plaid reminiscent of the loud sports coats synonymous with Uecker in the 1970s and 1980s. In February 2006, the Admirals commemorated those commercials with a special event in which the players wore the plaid jerseys during a game. The jerseys were then auctioned off to benefit charity.

Friends, I was at that hockey game.

I took a trip to Milwaukee for my birthday before the birth of my oldest child. I went to the hockey game alone. The Admirals played the Peoria Rivermen, which was the farm team for the St. Louis Blues at that time. So I was very confused as for whom I should cheer. The Admirals were in these garish yellow plaid uniforms, or the ones that looked like the St. Louis Blues.

You know, given that I haven’t been to a Blues game since my children were born, that might have been the last professional hockey game I’ve seen in person.

I Hope That Guy Got A Raise

You know, broccoli producers of the world sell broccoli whole, or they cut the top off and sell it marked up as broccoli crowns, or they cut it even shorter and bag it as broccoli florets (sold at a premium), which leaves them with lots of broccoli stalks that, what, get sold for silege?

Until now.

Now they can shred the previously wasted broccoli stalks and sell it at a premium as “broccoli slaw.”

That, my friends, is innovation.

The Little Mysteries of Nogglestead

So I go out to light the grill for lunch (which I can do as I work from home), and I see a yellow line drawn on the rear wheel of the truck that we park outside:

I had driven it the night before, and my first thought was whether I had hit a curb and not known it. But I dismissed the thought because the mark would have been circular, not a straight line.

I thought perhaps one of my boys had drawn a chalk line on it for reasons of his own, but I didn’t recollect the boys playing outside the day before or that morning, and I hadn’t seen chalk where they could get to it.

Then my mind went to creepy thriller territory: What if someone else drew a line on my tire for some weird purpose?

Then I saw yellow scattered on the ground near the grill itself:


It had rained overnight, most of the night, I guess; I slept through much of it. But it rained enough for water to stand at the boundary of the asphalt and concrete in our driveway, as it often does, and the pollen floating atop the water affixed to the tire. By the time I went out to grill, though, the water had disappeared, leaving only the line of pollen. And a little mystery for me to solve amid my preparations for grilling a couple of steaks for lunch.

But maybe that’s what the creepy chalk wheel marker wants me to think to lull me into a false sense of security.

The Capstone To A Very Monday Monday

So I spent most of yesterday in a serious mood given the events which transpired. So I thought I would give myself the chance at an easy win by examining and correcting a problem our vacuum had.

You see, on Sunday evening, it was time to do a haphazard and quick job on the weekend chores for my boys. The chores include vacuuming the common areas of the main level of the house. The youngest claimed to have done it, but when I came up, the floor contained visible bits of thread, paper, and the litter bits that vacuuming should clear. I told him to do it again, and he claimed to have done it again, with the same results. So I tried calmly to show the by-now angry, nay, GRIEVIOUSLY OFFENDED young man the proper way to vacuum, and as I started, I noticed something was resisting.

I turned it over, and the roller was not rolling. Apparently, on a previous vacuuming, somechild had vacuumed a cat toy. Which is a 45″ shoe lace tied to a ring of pom-poms and bells. Which must have immediately stopped the roller, but not the vacuuming. It might have been this way for weeks.

So I removed the obstruction and turned the vacuum on, but the roller did not spin, so I brought it down into my office for later investigation.

Which was late Monday afternoon, after, as I mentioned, my car broke down on the way to the DMV.

I thought I might have to open the roller housing and adjust the belt or something. So I plugged it in and turned it over and before looking for the means to open it, I thought I’d try it again, so I hit the power button.

And got a face full of dust and cat hair and the roller began to spin.

So it capped off the Monday of all Mondays, but it made me laugh, so it was worth it.

Also, I continue to look like a Real Man as I fixed another appliance.

The Most Mondayest Monday Yet

So my driver’s license expired on my birthday, and I forgot about it because they sent me a reminder card in early December, which is far ahead of my birthday, and I treated it like a license plate renewal: You don’t want to do it months in advance, otherwise you’re early and losing some value.

But I remembered last Wednesday when I saw a headline in the newspaper that said REAL-ID compliant licenses would become available today, Monday, March 25. So I thought I would wait until today to renew.

So I got my beautiful wife to act as my chaffeur for the weekend, and this morning, I piled the boys into my the truck I just bought to take them to school and to stop by the license office on the way home.

As we started up a hill about a half mile from our place on the two-lane farm road, the truck lost power and would no longer go forward. I tried to power it up to the next turn-off, but no dice. The road does not have a shoulder; it has ditches. So I called my beautiful wife to bring the old, high-mileage SUV to take the boys to school, and I waited for a tow truck. While blocking traffic. Even with my flashers on, cars pulled up behind me and honked until I opened the hood in the universal symbol of This truck is going nowhere under its own power. A couple of people offered to help, which was nice. A young lady offered to help me push the full size SUV up the hill to the next turn off, which I thought was overly optimistic.

The guy at the garage was rubbing his hands together on the inside when he said it sounded like the timing belt. Which can cause significant damage to the engine if it breaks while the vehicle is running. Frankly, I’m hoping for less than half the cost of the vehicle at this point. It’s under warranty, hopefully, but we’ll see.

So eventually, I made it to the license office and found a great line of people getting their new REAL-ID licenses. With only one person processing driver’s license renewals. Which are taking about ten minutes per person because of the additional paperwork required. Which I did not bring because my instructions card from December covered a regular driver’s license, not the REAL-ID compliant one which, of course, requires more than the old driver’s license and a postcard.

So my truck broke down on the way to the DMV, where I couldn’t get the license I’d hoped for when I finally got there.

But everyone’s been very nice, and when they’ve said, “How are you?” I’ve responded “So far, so good,” and when they’ve said “Have a nice day,” I’ve said, “Thanks.”

Unlike The Other Leading Brands

This variety of Tide, unlike the other leading brands, leaves your freshly laundered clothing smelling like fresh linen.

Which makes me wonder what the other brands or, more importantly, the other varieties of Tide leave your clothing smelling like.

(I know, I know: “Clean Linen” is a particular scent that gets added to a number of cleaning products. We have a number of Glade Plugin things that carry the same scent. It’s kind of like the “Grape” flavor in candies and Kool Aid: a common artifice. And you’re saying: How many colons can he use in one parenthetical? Just this many: four.)

Movie Night At Nogglestead: THWARTED

Wednesday nights at Nogglestead are often Daddy Movie Nights during the school year because the boys have a church midweek thing and my beautiful wife practices with the choir, which means I can watch a full movie with violence or bad words in it. Or, more likely, an old movie, but I can watch it from start to finish without interruption.

But in the late winter and early spring, I often take a triathlon class, and this year is no exception, which puts Daddy Movie Night on hiatus for a couple of months–almost to the end of the school year.

So tonight, I skipped the triathlon class because I wanted to watch a movie. But the universe repaid me for my perfidy and thwarted movie night.

Here is the actual order of the movies I could not watch and the myriad reasons why:

  1. Adventures in Babysitting. As you might recall, I just bought this on videocassette, and I have fond memories of it from the 1980s, when it was on Showtime and I didn’t have much to do but watch movies on Showtime over and over again. I couldn’t find it on the unwatched video shelves, though, and I assumed that my children had rearranged things or got it out, as they often get out movies they want to watch and leave them in random places. But, no, I see now that I left it on the scanner when I scanned the cover for this post.
  2. The Secret Agent, the Alfred Hitchcock film from 1986. I put this in the videocassette player and it started; I wasn’t sure if it was a talkie or not as I know some of his early works are silent. The video had no sound, but it had no titles, either, and the actors mouths’ moved, so I thought perhaps the cheapie video was defective. Besides, I might have it in my collection of early Hitchcock movies on DVD (I later learned I do).
  3. My Favorite Brunette, a Bob Hope movie, was bundled with The Road To Bali on a DVD called The Road to Comedy. I worked myself up to some enthusiasm for watching this since the box said it was a send-up of noir films. A comedy. Oh, I could use a laugh. It was still wrapped in cellaphane, and when I popped in the DVD, it contained a collection of ten episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. I took it out and looked at it, aghast. The label on the DVD is, in fact, for the Bob Hope two-pack, and I did unwrap it and tear the little no-steal-it plastic from the table, but this damn thing was mispackaged and labeled.
  4. Charly. I just read “Flowers for Algernon” upon which this film is based, so I thought I would give it a whirl. It was not fully rewound, so I tried rewinding it and then play-rewind when it stopped prematurely on the rewind. But apparently this videocassette is blank, since it’s nothing but static from front to back.
  5. On the Beach. I figured this post-apocalyptic morality tale would cheer me up after the fiascos noted above. It came right up, but it, too, had no sound, so either the videocassette player is having trouble or something is disconnected on the back of the electronics tangle. I didn’t want to mess with it at the moment (I wanted to watch a movie!).
  6. Death Wish with Bruce Willis. All right, Roku and Amazon Prime it is, dammit. So I selected this film. I was just passed the very slow first part when I remembered that Amazon Prime movies choke out at about :47 minutes after the hour. They just stop, leaving me with a blank screen until I click Back on the remote a bunch at which point I can restart the movie. I don’t know if the fault is with my ISP, with Roku, or with Amazon Prime, but I do remember that I don’t like to watch Amazon Prime for this reason.

By this point, I was too beside myself to watch anything, and I really didn’t have enough time for a whole movie any more anyway.

So I gave up and did some housework. And wrote a blog post. And, soon, I will check the VCR connections to see if the audio is loose. I hope it’s something simple like that because I have a lot of videocassettes, and we’ve somehow already reached the point where you don’t see used VCRs at garage sales any more.

So let me foreshadow for you: MfBJN will not feature a post on a movie I just watched in the next couple of days.

UPDATE: The VCR uses a computer/TV switchbox to connect to the receiver, and the switch was in the wrong position. BOYS.

I should bookmark this so I know how to solve the problem when I next encounter it in 2024.

A Tale Wherein Brian J. Drew Strength From The Spice Girls

Last night’s triathlon class was brutal: We started with some hill running and then cooled off in the pool with some timed intervals. Let’s be honest: I have not improved in swimming in two years, and last night the swim about killed me. During drills, I focused on too many things and lost my breathing rhythm, which meant I breathed and swallowed a lot of air and a lot of water, both going to the wrong chambers in my torso.

But then, The Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” came on the music piped into the pool.

Another fellow in the remedial swim lane has a strategy of walking most of the laps, and he was finishing a length of the pool not far behind me as I did whatever it is I do that is almost as fast as walking in water.

“I’m not going to drown and have the Spice Girls be the last words I hear,” I announced to him.

And I did not drown.

So consider me inspired by the Spice Girls.

Looking back on this blog, I see the other mention of the Spice Girls comes from 2005, where I boasted I could name them all even though I’d only listened to a complete Spice Girls song once. I think fourteen years later, I could go four out of five, maybe. Also, back in, what, 1997, I wrote about them in The Cynic Express’d.

In 2019, that might count as an obsession.

Consolation Prize

The Springfield Business Journal has selected the 2019 40 Under 40 list, and I didn’t make it, again.

Of course, I’m no longer eligible, and these magazines don’t tend to create 30 Who Try To Act Like They’re Under 30 lists.

That said, I’m pleased to be on the 7.5 Billion Not Under Six Feet list yet again today. So I’ll start there for the day.

The Natives Have A Word For It

Spring, or as it is known at Nogglestead, “Repair the Gates Season.”

This year, I didn’t have any trouble with the hinges (so far) since I attached them with carriage bolts driven completely through the posts/gates and secured on the other side with a washer and a bolt.

But this year, the wind tore the edge picket off of one of my gates, and that’s where the hardware to close the gate attached, so it has been blowing in the strong winds of early march. So I replaced the picket today, eventually.

Because Spring is also known as “This Drill’s Battery Ran Out Of Charge/Where Is The Other Battery?” season.

I believe the Germans have a word for it, but it’s not as melliflous as the original Ojibwe.

He’s Not Talking About Me

Captain Capitalism tells us how he really thinks:

I don’t think the English language is robust or thorough enough for me to convey my hatred, despisement, and loathing of English majors. They are first and foremost lazy people who decide to major in a language they’re already fluent in by the age of 4. They are intellectual inferiors who think studying a subject to the point of atomic levels of anal retentive detail is a legitimate endeavor. And worst of all they are fascist tyrants who lord their technical, but impractical, knowledge of petty rules and laws of a “language” over the rest of us who use the language to live our lives, not make it our lives, because we have lives…unlike English majors.

I cannot overstate how inferior English majors are or how much I hate their loathesome and laughably inferior selves.

Ha, ha, your humble host laughs, that’s not me! I also was a philosophy major!

Is that hysterical laughter barely keeping me from tears?

You, gentle reader, must tease that out of the text and write a three page paper defending your conclusion.

He Used To Do The Young Elvis

When I was at the university, I was a commuter, so most of my friendships developed with people outside the university. I drew a number of them from the grocery store where I worked in a transitional (on the way down) corner of town. Another guy named Brian started there a year or so after I did, and we got to be pretty good friends. We spent a lot of evenings together cruising the local mall or gaming together. We bought musical instruments together, a guitar for him and a bass guitar for me, and along with the third part of our triumvirate, we were going to be a band called Ghostriders.

Until he announced that he thought of the band as a back-up band for his Elvis impersonator show.

He was the young Elvis then, and although he got away from it for a while, he’s back at it, but he’s no longer the young Elvis.

None of us are the young anything anymore, ainna?

Being From Wisconsin, I Never Understood The Groundhog Day Options

You know, on Groundhog Day, they say if the groundhog sees his shadow, it’s six more weeks of winter, but if he does not, it will be an early spring.

This always confused me as a child up north because six more weeks of winter would be an early spring.

I’ve been seeing a lot of memes like this on my Facebook feed:

And I think to myself, “It’s the beginning of March. Why would you people think that winter is over?”

I guess it’s because I live here amongst the soft, indolent southern tribes now.

Manic Pixie Friend Sunshine

I might have mentioned that I liked the album The Sunshine Project by Lily Belle. I play it from time to time, sometimes “Good Morning” to get my children up and moving in the morning (mainly because they’re preteens and hate the song).

So I did what the kids today do and visited YouTube to see if she had any new videos out, and it looks like she has just started a video series called “My Friend Sunshine” where she gives advice and whatnot. The first is called “5 Ways to Encourage a Hurting Friend”:

The second is “Five Ways to Jolt Your Creativity”:

Note that none of her tips are are actually Jolt Cola or any caffeine at all for that matter. Caffeine would be at least two of my five tips for creativity.

As of this writing, there are only two.

Also, It Has A Good Hat Shop

Kim du Toit decides if he has to go into Witness Protection Program, he wants to go to Traverse City, Michigan.

You know, I was just in Traverse City last year for a couple of hours, and it’s got Horizon Books as you might remember.

But it also has a good hat shop just down the street from Horizon Books, and I spent enough time dithering over whether to buy a new fedora with a liner that we overstayed our parking meter and learned that Traverse City has a very convenient Web site for paying your five dollar parking meter fines.

Also, it has snow in the winter.

I mean, it’s not Wisconsin, which is God’s best creation, but it’s not Minnesota. Or spit Illinois.

So if I could not choose Wisconsin, and I probably could not because I go on about it all the time, I’d take witness relocation in Traverse City or even Petoskey.