Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Calling Dad

I called my Dad today. We hadn't spoken for almost 4 years. We didn't fall out. There was no argument - he just dropped off the planet one day. Disappeared. The only thing I had left of our friendship was an old pic from my graduation.

I hadn't planned on today being "find Dad" day. Suz was writing Xmas cards and was wondering if we should send a card to my Dad's last known address. I wasn't sure. Before I knew it Suz had run a search on BT online and had a list of all telephone numbers for every Michael Wheatley listed in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. There were 10.

Looking through the list I found myself wondering if my old man was behind one of those numbers. I could have done the same thing numerous times over the years but I never did. Part of me didn't want to. I didn't want to know if the reason that we lost touch was because that's what he wanted. After all, our once best friend relationship had been strained at best. My parents divorce was as ugly as they come. I hated him for what he did to my mum and he knew it. He knew it because I took every opportunity to tell him so. In fact, thinking more on this, I'm not really sure that I wanted to talk to him again until today.

Without thinking twice, I picked up the phone and dialed the first number. I worked my way through the list and spoke to some lovely people today. It makes me wonder if I'm half as nice as the other Wheatley's that I spoke to this afternoon. One lady, upon hearing the story of how my father and I just lost touch continued to call every Wheatley she knew. I heard her asking her husband, Michael, to "get out the phone book". At one point this lady put me hold, very apologetically, while she "made a cupper". "Christmas is such an emotional time" she explained over a hot cup of tea (sipping loudly).

In the end I failed. Nobody I called knew who I was talking about. I sat here, in this chair, feeling the lowest of the low. Then out of nowhere I remembered an old telephone number of a relative I hadn't spoken to in over 5 years. My grandmother - 3-1-8-2... I can't tell you how odd this is. I don't know my own telephone number. I struggle to recall birthday's of just about everyone.

I called the number. As if poised by the phone, waiting for it ring, somebody picked up on the first ring. I hadn't spoken with my uncle Roland in over 15 years yet I knew his voice instantly. He was thrilled to talk with me. He said that I had made his Christmas and that my Dad had been trying to get in touch for almost 4 years! He gave me a number and urged me call straight away. I called.

A man answered. I didn't recognize the voice. I asked if I could speak with Michael Wheatley. He answered with a very nonchalant, "Dean, this is Dad". Then there was a pause. My heart sank. In an instant all my worst fears of rejection choked the voice out of my throat. Then he continued, "I've missed you, mate" he said. And I missed him. We chatted for over an hour. It went well. No arguments - just water under the bridge.

Best friends reunited? I hope so, but I'm not really sure how I feel about all of this. "A lot" is about all I can muster right now.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I know it’s a little late an’ all. It just takes me time to process, analyze and digest. I’m not sure what “Happy Thanksgiving” really means. The most I can make out is that some people arrived here (USA) on a boat called the Mayflower. These people were called pilgrims (distant relatives of John Wayne). They established a colony and celebrated with a big dinner. And I do know that I don’t need to be offended by this one since, unlike the 4th, it’s not about sticking it to the British.

Thanksgiving was a difficult day for me. Despite appearances to the contrary, I have a hard time with new people. With like-minded people I can be outgoing and fun.However, if I can’t talk about fast cars and tell the strip club story I’m, um, a little boring I guess. Suz thinks that without her I’d be a bit of a hermit. She’s probably right.

Suz had arranged for us to have lunch with the neighbors and their 3 kids. I tried to conjure up an excuse not to go. I didn’t have a headache and I didn’t have to work. Bollocks! Plus, I promised Suz that I’d make an effort. So I did. We arrived, as invited, at 12. Lunch was at 4. The time in the middle was spent kid wrangling, waiting and worrying. By 2 my head was pounding and I could have eaten a small dog – like the family Pug, for example.

Doug and Jenny are very nice people. They were accommodating and welcoming. They gave me good beer and crackers and cheese. Jenny even attempted a Yorkshire pudding. It was such a nice thought that I felt obliged to eat four or five thick pudding poofs with gravy. No matter how nice they tasted, manners comes first. I fear that it will take weeks for them to pass. In the meantime, I’ll have to continue to walk with a wobble.

In truth, I didn’t really enjoy myself at all. I just wanted to eat and go home. I found five kids too much. The thought of my kids trashing their immaculate house gave me a headache. Conversation was limited at best. My gracious hosts were either examining the food with sigh and exasperation or kid wrangling with me. The highlight of my afternoon was holding their baby while staring menacingly at Jake trashing their kid’s room with a stick and an evil grin. He knew I couldn’t shout at him with the baby sleeping in my arms… He’s such a lil stinker that it make me smile.

Dinner was over pretty quickly. It was the usual assortment of odd American foods like candied yams, potato sludge and such. I helped clean up as best I could, bundled the kids up and headed home. I was satiated with 1000mg of Tylenol and a cup of Italian dark roast. Thanksgiving is about offering thanks and I was thankful to be home.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Calling a call center

I know for sure that blind rage is not what most people experience when they call customer service. I do. I have taken great care in lumping all of my unsatisfactory call center experiences into two broad categories; lazy and the unhelpful.

Lazy, arrogant ass wipes can usually be found in call centers here in the US of A. They are the ones that ask me to speak slowly and calm down. They are also the ones that put me hold for 30 minutes and hang-up. They are the ones where I can spend the better half of a day “putting things right” with the call center supervisor. These people often play a song in my head (a fav of mine by Kevin Wilson). It goes like this,

“I said… Stick that fuckin fone, up yor fuckin arse
You're supposed to fuckin help, not make it fuckin hard
I only want to make a call and you keep acting smart
So you can stick that fuckin fone up yor fuckin arse”

My other unsatisfactory call center experiences come from offshore call centers. These people are usually very polite and genuinely try not to be as helpful as a fart in an elevator. I especially hate a lady named Helen Smith from Mumbai that asked me to speak “rational English” or she “would be forced to disconnect from this conversation”. Rational English? WTF? And why pick a fake name like Helen Smith when you could have Jenna Jameson? See? No sense of service AND no sense of humor.

My modem didn’t work that day I met Helen. She suggested that I turn it off and on again. I pretended that I did since I knew that the problem was with some obscure public key encryption setting. I continued to show her how little she knew by lecturing her on the finer points of transport protocols, bandwidth and DHCP. She continued to expound the obvious. I continued to ignore her.

After I accidentally hung up by repeatedly hitting my forehead with the phone, I decided to power down the surge protector. It was then that I noticed that the modem was actually unplugged. OK, OK, I know what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong because, well, um, Helen is a stupid name anyway…

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pooping at the museum

Yesterday the kids and I spent the day at Jasmine Moran Children’s museum in Seminole. It’s a trek, but it’s worth it. Mommy was grouchy as hell and pretty hung-over from a night on the town. The drive there was uneventful until we passed the National Shrine for Infant Jesus of Prague, which I thought was hilarious. I couldn’t get Talladega Nights “baby Jesus in his golden diaper” out of my head. I must have giggled for 20 miles straight just thinking about it! Anyway, we arrived in one piece and continued to all have a great day. There was the bed of nails (yes, really!), crazy mirrors, kid-TV, dinosaur excavation, skeleton cycle, marble roller coaster, bubbles factory, fun, fun, fun, and then there was the maze.


It was a little chilly yesterday so we had to cover up to venture outside; past the train, over the footbridge and through kid town to get there. Castle maze is a plastic maze with a plastic castle fa├žade and a big plastic slide in the middle that you can use to shortcut from the start to half way through. We were having a great time. Wookie and Jake lead me through the most indirect route possible to the center of the maze. And that’s when things started getting frantic. We started off walking, then jogging and finally sprinting… The transition started with one “I gotta poop” to all three “I gotta poop… now”!

Parenthood is covered with poop. Sometimes metaphorically and other times quite literally. From my very first experience with the dreaded “black tar poop” diaper, I knew my poop-perception would never be the same. I’ve cleaned up so much poop in 5 years that I could list poop cleaner on my resume as a second occupation. I’ve cleaned poop off stinky butts, underpants, carpets and even walls! I’ve even lived to tell the tale of brown torpedoes… twice! This is undoubtedly the most horrific of all experiences. Just imagine for a second that you’re in the tub with your little angel. You’re both wearing bubble hats and playing with Diego Super Boat Rescue Pack. It’s all giggles and smiles until you spot the dark destroyer staring up at you from the depths of the tub. First comes the question, “what toy is that?”. Then there’s the realization that the brown torpedo from the rescue pack isn’t actually part of the rescue pack. It’s blind panic. A frantic cry for help, “Suz, helpPPP!!!…” followed by capture and disposal of the floater…. It doesn’t get much scarier than that. I’m sure if I looked it up, I could find parents suffering from PTSD from exposure to that situation alone. It really is that bad… But that was all a long time ago. Now the kids are older. I thought my poop-scapades we well and truly over. Boy was I wrong!


So back in the maze we found ourselves sprinting. We crawled under walls to get to the other side often only to arrive at yet another dead end. Poop was coming whether we liked it or not. I was avoiding sharp movements for fear of sharting. The worst case was a very smelly hour and a half ride home. The best case was to make it back to the museum before the turtles left their shells. It was manic! We all had to go. We all had to go right then and there.

Perhaps it’s because we’d been blessed by baby Jesus’s golden diaper on the way, but we made it back to the museum just in time. I didn’t know what state we were in, poopy vs clean, but we made it!

Now public restrooms with a kid can be tricky. It’s stressful, but you can get through it with a healthy supply of tissue, lots of patience and a double stall. It gets harder when you add more kids and/or poop. Yesterday’s turmoil came from the following equation,

Panic = 3 y/old poop+ 5 y/old poop + own poop + single stall

There were two stalls free. Jake took the first. Wookie and I took the second. I practically ripped Wookies pants and undies off and threw him on the toilet. I clenched my cheeks and waited as Wookie, sharted, farted and squirted more poop than one would have thought his little body could contain. Next door I heard Jake shouting “daddy, I dropped a big ‘un… wanna see? Do I get candy for the MASSIVE POOP?”… I took relative comfort in the fact that I could, if the looks came upon me after this, ask in a puzzled way “who’s kid is this?” then walk away. He'd find me later, I'm sure.


No sooner had Wookie finished pooping than I pushed him off the pot and shat my brains out. Jake was now crawling under the door. Wookie was wiping his little bum with his little hand and not the huge wad of paper that he had in his other hand. I heard the guy in the other stall leave the bathroom. Flush, rustle, open door, close door, no washing of hands, gone: all in less than 10 seconds! I was shouting at the kids to do that, don’t do that, stay there, move, wipe here, not there, etc. But none of that mattered. The threat of bacteria, germ infested, and disease-ridden children was nothing compared to the feeling that I had just left my sphincter in the pot. And that was nothing compared to the overwhelming feeling of relief that we’d made it. Sure, there’d be lots of cleaning up – but we made it!

One of the lessons that I learned from team building this week at work is that some of the most satisfying experiences are often on the back of adversity. Yesterday at the Children’s museum we beat poop to the pot! We wiped butts, washed hands and even did a coordinated high-5 to congratulate ourselves! We had made it! We got through it! Daddy, Wookie, Jake – Team Wheatley! What a team!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How to wear a pink tutu

The only dance I can pull off is the "Funky Chicken". It's my trademark dance that features a unique combination of awkwardness coupled with a supreme lack of coordination. I turn into John Travolta with a few beers, but sober I'm about as skilled at dancing as... well nothing really... nothing, nobody, nowhere is truly as bad as me. But men, real men have chest hair, they sport a scowl and frighten small children with the size of their muscles. Real men don't dig that stuff! Real men don't dance, right? So what am I worrying about? And, more to the point, why would I let Suz drag me, kicking and screaming to a "So you think can dance" show?

I spent last Tuesday night with Suz and a few other thousand people watching the live version of the popular TV show. It features all the usual suspects.

I like nothing better than to proclaim that reality TV, dancing and all that sparkly bullshit just isn't my thing. I'd like to say that I'm too manly - too testosterone fueled to be sucked in by all this gay bullshit. I'd also like to say that I'm not secretly in love with Kherington - shh, don't tell the wifey! But the truth of the matter is that I like watching people dance. I like the long legged Kherington just standing there sure, but not as much as I enjoy watching her dance.

My secret is out. Suz didn't drag my there kicking and screaming. It was my idea! Ah, that feels so much better. I'm out of the closet at last. I don't have chest hair, I don't look mean, I don't have bulging muscles and my chest is as smooth as a baby's behind. I can't even whistle! I don't even have enough facial hair to grow a 5 'o clock shadow after 2 weeks! I mean, I like dance and performing arts. I'm a big fan of art galleries, smoked salmon and truffles. I hate big belt buckles, country music, cowboy hats and bravado.

So I'm not a stereotypical man then I guess. Maybe I'm a man-boy as Jake once told me I was. Maybe even worse... Maybe I'm a... I'm a... metro- *gasp*-sexual? Whoa! That's enough! This is getting a little too close to home! Plus, I know it's not true since the guy sitting two rows in front of me at the show was huge. He had mUsCLEs - he was huge! He was mean and macho. He even had a tatoo! And there were two of them sitting next to one another. It was a big relief. So there! I should feel much better now, right? But I didn't because these two guys were holding hands!

So my manhood has been crushed. First it was spicy coleslaw - now this! But Butch and Benjamin didn't ruin the show for me. Quite to the contrary. It made me smile. It illustrated, beautifully I might add, just how much gender stereotypes are bullshit. So I'm fluffing up my pink tutu today and admitting that I've always wanted to be a Ballerina. I'm gonna wear that pink sweater vest with pride... Like hell I will! HA! Had you there for a minute, right?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Ker-clunk"

I’m in a funny mood tonight. The kids are asleep and I’m kind of drained from too much Tequila last night.

I don’t like medical shows - especially ones with kids. As I killed channels tonight, I caught a glimpse of something that brought some unpleasant memories back. It’s funny how words always fall short of defining the moment. Nevertheless, we still try don't we?



Awake

“Ker-clunk, ker-clunk, ker-clunk”

I could be traveling the interstate tonight
Lights flashing past my head
It’s like I’m traveling 100Mph!

But I’m not going anywhere but here;
I’m stuck in a moment in time
Strapped to a bed built for a child.

“Ker-clunk, ker-clunk, ker-clunk”

It’s not the sound of little wheels
Propelling this bed into motion that keeps me awake
Nor is it the ghastly scent of sick children
Wheezing and crying,
Resting like spent bullet casings.

“Ker-clunk, ker-clunk, ker-clunk”

Why are their beds a full twenty four inches closer to heaven?
I look for answers that I know I will not find
Beyond the repetition of the sound that keeps me awake.

“Ker-clunk, ker-clunk, ker-clunk”

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A pair of testicles and a bottle of hot sauce

A few short months ago, I was sitting in the conference room at work having lunch with my team when the coleslaw incident happened. VGT buys it's employees lunch every day. I don't remember what it was, just that it came with coleslaw. And that it was spicy. I took two mouthfuls and quickly had to guzzle down some water, "damn, spicy coleslaw!", I proclaimed. At which point, David "Ninja" looked up and replied with a nonchalant, "you know you're a man when coleslaw kicks your ass!". The whole conference room burst out laughing. It was funny. He's a funny guy. Ever since that day I've been like Rocky Balboa in training for his fight with Ivan Drago. I'm in spicy training. I've got a pair of testicles and a bottle of hot sauce... and I'm gonna use em!

The perfect opportunity to show off my new found spicy fortitude came at this month's Buffalo Wild Wings lunch. It's a monthly lunch where we all go out for wings. It's customary now to order a shot of Blazing wings, succumb to the peer pressure and pretend that, despite appearances to the contrary, you are not going to assume the fetal position and cry like a little girl. Now let me explain what a blazing wing is. Imagine a chicken possessed by Ra the sun god. So hot that just the smell of the thing can bring a grown man to his knees. That is the blazing wing.

So out comes the blazing wings. Always one to "get it over with", I jump straight in with gusto. There is a silent anticipation as the rest of table looks on in amazement. "Eye of the Tiger" blaring in my head; not only did I eat the wing, but I did it with nary a raised eyebrow nor bead of sweat. I threw the bones aside and prepared to beat my chest with my testosterone pumped fists. Then it hit me. Hard. So hard that the waitress could hardly hear my whispered dying wish to "some more water, please?" Then I started sweating like a pig. My lips felt like they were somebody elses. And my stomach was tumbling so much that I'd have put a Chinese acrobat to shame. In short, I failed, yet again, to gain the respect of my coworkers.

The humiliation doesn't end there. A couple of nights ago I sat down with my training chips "blazin' wings" Pringles when I noticed that most of the box had gone. WTF! I cast an angry glance at Suz. She said, "Wookie!" What? My 3 year old had eaten almost a whole box of Blazin' Pringles. Would the humiliation never end? Not even close, coz Wookie, ever able to outdo his old man just downed three boneless hot wings and asked for more. And my mouth was on fire with two!

So that's it for me. I'm trowing away the hot sauce, getting my pink sweater vest out of storage and admitting defeat. I mean, let's face it, what kind of man gets his ass kicked by coleslaw?

Genocide and other family favorites

Story time for my kids tonight came from one of my fav books. The Brick Testament is bible stories told with Lego. Think Lego Star Wars but with God n stuff and you're pretty much there. I like it because I find it hilarious. And my kids? Hmm, they are mighty confused and a little scared right now...

It started out with Genesis. There were a few "Ohh, that's gross" bits - especially the bit where God harvests Adams rib to create Eve... and it just went downhill from there. As I read the story of Cain and Abel, Jake politely asked what "sacrifice" meant. I explained it in terms that I understand - of an offering. He didn't get it. Worse still, he wanted to know why God wanted the "females of the flock". I didn't have an answer. Next, of course, comes the cold-blooded killing of Abel by his brother Cain... all the way to genocide. At which point, I closed the book- "the end". What I thought was hilarious was just plain scary to them.

So I'm writing a new holy book tonight and it begins like this,"In the beginning God created Chimmay..." And tonight is Chimmay night. Suz is out on the town and I'm gonna ritualistically poison myself in the best possible way - with a Belgian Trappist beer (it is literally holy - google it)! Thank the lord!

Not many people know this, but I'm allergic to the natural world. For years I'd suffered from intolerable headaches, every single day since I was 15 or 16. I recently discovered that wheat and barley, amongst most everything else that grows, will kill me. Well maybe not kill me, but fuck me up enough to get a real nasty headache. And you all know what product features lots of wheat and/or barley, right? If you didn't guess beer then you need to stop reading this, shut down your computer and hit yourself... So the real question tonight is why am I drinking beer again? Did I just run out of Tequila? Nope, I have a fresh 1800 sitting in the freezer...

You see good beer for me is the comfiest chair you've ever sat in your entire life. It just feels right. I love the taste and the warm blankets of snuggle-iciousness. And I mean love, L-O-V-E; LOVE! I'm loving the way that I'm poisoning myself tonight, because, frankly, I deserve it. I deserve it for making a mockery of Christianity and for subjecting my kids to it's nonsense. I've had another hard week at work; full of all the usual political BS. And those are my excuses to get sloshed.

I tip this glass to nonsense tonight. Cheers!

-Saturday, October 18, 2008 at 8:25pm

Stochastic is a "special" person?

So what would you do if everything you ever knew about money and investing turned out to be nonsense? How would you hide the bruises where you'd been kicking yourself for being such a plonker? What do you do first? I've spent a week trying to answer these questions. I've discovered, much to my surprise that concerns about retirement and college for my kids are slowly taking up the space in my head that was previously reserved for boobies and sports cars. I think I'm in shock!

For me terms like compound interest, bullish and bearish were little more than fancy words that boffins used on CNN to make themselves look smart. Ain't nuffin but bullshit, I'd say before switching the channel to Top Gear.

Last weekend was my crash course on investing. I spent two days from 8 to 5 getting cozy with about 100 other people who, just like me, thought that stochastic was just a word to describe "special" people. It isn't. It's actually a term used to describe something that indicates something or other. OK, I can't really remember, but it's really important - I think. Anyway, the details aren't important. What is important is that I've pissed away so much opportunity. I tell you, if I was in my 60's like the guy sitting next to me in class, I'd have just off'd myself already. 67 years old and no money for retirement. Suddenly the greeter position in Walmart starts to look attractive.

I've got my eye on a new Jaguar XK and that would make me feel so much better about my future than 70k in stocks; driving a beat up Honda Civic to catch the latest 2-for-1 deal at Walmart. And that's what sucks so much about investing in the future - the current has the suffer. But spending my retirement reusing tea bags, buying canned meats, cutting coupons and counting pennies is a truly frightening concept for me.

So this is me making a commitment to change the way that I think about money. Change the way I think about my family's future. Change the way I live my life. But before all of that, I simply must catch up on Top Gear! They're gonna review the XK in the next episode on my TIVO HD... See how hard this is gonna be for me?

-Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 11:25am

I did an oopsie

I just got sucked into one of those compare-a-thon things on facebook. It has pictures of all your friends, two at a time, it makes you pick one for each of the questions. The questions vary. They start with harmless stuff like "who is most likely to stab you in the back?" to "who would you rather hug?" to "which one would you sleep with?". All of this wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for a little fucking checkbox that I noticed on the 48th question. It says, "yes, notify friends"... So now, I guess you all know my hidden secret that I'd rather sleep with Charlotte than Terence. Sorry Terance, but you're just not my type! I hope that this doesn't hurt our other, special relationship :)

What really, truly pisses me off is that you go through all 60 questions then it says "Monkey says that there isn't enough information to build a profile"! Can you believe this shit? ...That's the last time I stray from my wall.

- Monday, September 29, 2008 at 9:18pm

Living an infomercial

Suz and I were working on the laundry earlier in the week when Jake came by to supervise."What a mess!" he proclaimed at the sight of a foot high stack of clean laundry on the bed. "We need a high capacity, space saver bag", he continued... "Vacuum sealed for your protection... Now only 19.99. That's a $60 value, dad..."Speechless, Suz and I sat on the edge of the bed - flabbergasted. Our 5 year old had turned into a walking infomercial!

It doesn't stop there. For months, we've noticed the odd "mmm, mmm, good" when we pass a McDonalds or "Subway, eat fresh!". "You'll say WOW when you use a ShamWow!"... We thought it was cute until he tried to push a useless product! I mean, nobody actually buys any of that useless shit like the ShamWow do they? In all seriousness, it made me question how much time the kids watch TV. How was it that these messages had gotten so embedded in his little head? Moreover, how is it that I can't remember my own telephone number, but I can rattle off at least 10 catchy slogans for a product as useful as a bucket with a hole? All these questions relate directly to my experience of the "Get Motivated" seminar. You see, between the speeches by Rick Belluzzo, Robert Shuller, Colin Powell, Zig Ziglar (who I missed b'coz of imprisonment in Irish pub) and Ruby "9/11" Giuliani were expertly placed infomercials.

These guys were introduced with all the vigor of Powell. Often complete with fireworks and confetti. You didn't know that it was an infomercial. It was brilliant! I enjoyed the infomercials as much, if not more, than the real speeches. I remember one of these guys being so good that nobody knew that was an infomercial until the last minute. Genius! This dude, we'll call him Bob, managed to suck in at least a thousand people into buying a get rich quick "system". Bob didn't explain what this "system" was nor how it was going to make you rich. Nevertheless, as soon as he said that you could buy it today for $49.99, at least 500 people people stood up, wallets in hand, sporting the "I believe!" look of stupidity. If the messiah returns you'll likely find him taking notes at an event like this. Really. Now I believe in bullshit like everyone else, but I wasn't that stupid... or was I?

On the back of a brilliant speech on leadership by Powell came my time to be sucked in. In my defense, I didn't immediately throw my money at the nearest Bob. I listened intensely to day trader Phil as I scribbled notes like "short sale on oil future- BUY", "follow fund manager - sell 80% commodities", "diversify tax liens!", "80% capital, 15% stock, 30% real estate, 12% securities in covered calls"... What the fuck was I smoking? Those numbers don't even add up! Looking at my notes now, I was obviously demonically possessed by the god of bullshit. My notes make about as much sense as a war on terrorism.

At the end of Phil's spiel I sat there knowing full well that I had been sucked in. I watched 100's of people leap out of their seats like they'd had curry for lunch and needed to make an emergency deposit. I didn't. I gritted my teeth, clutched my wallet like my life depended on it and attempted to wait it out. I told myself that the feeling would pass. But it didn't. It got stronger. So strong in fact that I'd have jumped on the heads of baby seals to get to the registration table.

And there you have it. That's how I forked over 99 bucks for a 2 day class on stock trading. It'll be just my luck to discover that it's all just an elaborate scheme to get investors for the next ShamWow! I can hardly wait!

-Sunday, September 28, 2008 at 12:56pm

Hell is a place on Earth?

Hell is a place on Earth. You can find it at the crossroads of Memorial and 71st in Tulsa, Oklahoma. How do I know this? Because I spent a total of 4 hours there yesterday.

The Christians have it all wrong. You don't have to die to get there - you just drive there. And park. And pay for the pleasure of experiencing the dark future of the human race. I traveled there in my Pontiac GTO, but any noble steed will do. There's no need to worry about ol' Lucifer. I don't know the light bringer very well, but trust me when I say that his dark arts have nothing on the power and majesty of the hell spawn in regular attendance at Memorial and 71st. He has nothing on the power of the great one.

Thinking about it, the Buddhists may be the closest to understanding hell. The hell realms in the cycle of rebirth contain hungry ghosts. These self-indulgent shadows of their former selves, are cursed with the appetite of a God and the capacity of a mouse to consume. Their tiny little mouths can never satisfy there huge bellies. At the intersection of Memorial and 71st, hungry ghosts assume the form of children.

I know, I know - I was as shocked as you! Who'd have thought it? The deity of this dark domain is one called the great Chucky Cheese. He's a mouse of gigantic proportions. Ears as big as kids heads. And teeth that could easily chomp their way through a thousand wilted salad bars and the worst pizza on the planet. Chucky's power comes not from a guilt-trip nor lightning bolts - it comes from a hundred or so video games. Yes, video games! So why did I spend 4 hours there? Well that's 'coz I'm an idiot and got the wrong time for a kids party. It was at 6 - I was at 3!

The helpless little children arrive as angels of light and hope. Yet all, bar none, are sucked into the black hole of the manic depressive. Highs like crystal-meth and lows so low that you may actually consider eating some of the pizza just for the distraction of something that isn't screaming like a banshee, running a million miles an hour and spending money like it's your bosses.

OK, OK, let's back up for a second. I may have it all wrong here. We all know how too much of a good thing can be bad. Well the same can be said for the bad. And it doesn't get much worse than Chucky Cheese's - except when experienced in insanely large doses.

You see, much to my surprise, after a while you just succumb to it. You have no choice really. In this way, it's not unlike an all night alcohol binge. At some point you reach the point that if you don't give in to it and get another beer or 20 tokens that you'll just keel over and die. And then - Magic. For it's only in the darkest depths of the dark can you truly understand and appreciate the light. And there is nothing so good as an honest smile. Nothing so pure, so intoxicatingly holy as a kid's laugh. So there you have it. Fuck the church. Fuck Jahweh, Buddha, Ganesh and Mohamed. Open your heart and worship the great Chucky Cheese at the crossroads of Memorial and 71st!

- Sunday, September 28, 2008 at 10:28am

Sterile

I'm sitting here getting slowly sterile from the heat of this bloody laptop. Under normal circumstances I might have switched to the desktop by now. But I won't. Not today. Susan is in baby mode. And it's the "I want" not "let's make one" kind of mood. She's been inundating me recently with old baby photo's of the kids. The baby questions have been slowly hitting my head like, um, a woodpecker on crack maybe?

"See how cute they are?" It's true. We make some good looking kids. Which made me wonder, as I often do, why other peoples babies are so ugly. I mean, I'm a logical, critical thinking kind of guy. How can that be? Did my kids beat the odds? 1 in a million? The unfunky-looking symetrical, un-cross-eyed poo-bombs? I just looked back through the photo's. Turns out that both Jake and Wookie were cross-eyed, bumpy, floppy-headed examples of poop-bomb baby perfection! Adorable! Who knew? I always did. LOL!

Jake just about killed me as a baby. He was the whinyist lil dump truck of a baby (10lb) I've ever seen. I swear he didn't stop crying until he was over a year old. I would never have thought, not in a million years that I'd call a complete stranger, in tears and ask "why, whhhyyy, WHY won't he stop crying?" But I did. He brought me to the point where I wanted to jump out the window just so I wouldn't have to hear it anymore. Which may have worked if we didn't live in a ranch at the time.

And Wookie? He was a little angel. But now? He's so hard-headed. Each night, at bedtime, it turns into a Gladitorial event. There's anticipation, rapid maneuvers, diversion, tears and passion. It's a production worthy of Hollywood. Every night. Him or me. One of us is going to sleep! Thankfully he hasn't resorted to utilizing the hammer toy! Real bright idea that one, a hammer toy! Nothing good can come of a toy hammer. If the inventor of that toy was standing in front of me right now... Well, I'd, I'd kick him in the bollocks and hammer him for every parent who's ever been minding their own business, watching the TV, and WHAM!

But do I really want anymore kids? I dunno. Do I really want anymore kids? How would we make it work? How would Jake and Luke handle it? Will I succumb to the pressure? Will Wookie utilize the hammer? Only time will tell.

- Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 8:41pm

Jake 'n dadda day

Had a fun "Jake 'n Dadda" day. I thought we should do something wholesome, converge with nature and shoot someone. Real bonding stuff, ya know?

Took him to see the new Igor movie. It was kinda scary for a 5 year old. Think Tim Burton meets Disney and you get the idea. I resisted temptation and managed not to scare any teenagers this time around - but what is it about teenagers and their insistence to be as annoying as possible? They should just round up all the spotty, annoying little turds and ship em off to Iceland or something... Bjork'd sort their asses out for sure!

From Igor we went to shoot some people with lasers! I was sure I could bag a few teenagers at Laser Quest. And I did. We both did. As soon as Jake and I encountered an opponent, I just said (loud 'nuff for them to here) "I know the gun's heavy, bud", then pushed him around the corner. No self-respecting laser quester is gonna tag a 5 year old! He looks so cute with big guns a sensor pack hanging down to his kneees... And that's when I'd spring round the corner and bust a laser in their asses - HA!

After annihilating the opposition at Laser Quest (we came 1st and 2nd), we went to take in some nature. Mini golf places here are unlike anything you'll ever find in England. They are monuments to fakeism (is that a word?). Bright green fake grass, eeary aqua-marine water and holes that aren't really holes. Those ones are my favs by far. The ones that take your ball, suck it into a black hole and shoot it somewhere. Jake, of course, loved it! I didn't have to go ball-fishing this time around, so I loved it also.

Now I'm pooped. Gonna sip some Tequila, watch some TV and sleep. Big day tomorrow. I'm going to a "Get Motivated" seminar with Colin Powell and the dodgy mayor dude from NY.

Should be interesting.G'night, wherever you are.

- Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 8:01pm