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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Of Love and Loss

Well, it's only been 4 months since the last blog update, so I reckon I'm getting more regular about it.  I actually write quite a bit for this place, but being a little bit of a perfectionist about certain things, I do a lot of revamping before I actually publish anything.  If Poe could spend 6 months figuring out the best place for a comma in The Raven, I should be allowed to take a couple of months to figure out the best way to work a fart joke into my blog.


From just about the time my youngest daughter was born, her favorite thing on Earth was her pacifier.  She could not go a good five minutes without what she would later call her "gonk-gonk".  I have been sheltered and fortunate enough not to have ever known any severe drug addicts, but I have a good idea of how they behave thanks to my child's incessant need for that bit of plastic.  Fearing permanent tooth and jaw deformation from chronic non-nutritive suckling (that's Dr. Phil-speak for "We didn't want her to look like a buck-toothed yokel"), we did our best to wean her off of the cursed thing. 

That, of course, is a lie. 

We, being average parents in much need of sleep and peace, would listen to her whine for it for about 2 minutes before we would give in and give her the gonk-gonk.  (I actually made a midnight run to Walgreen's to buy a couple of them after a long couple of hours of withdrawal.)  It's not like we had a choice:  Before she could even walk, our cunning little snowflake had learned to keep a hidden stash of the things.  She had them hidden everywhere: under the liner in her car seat, under her pillow, in the toy box, UNDER the toy box, taped to the underside of the dining room table, in a safety deposit box at the bank, etc.  Finally, my wife and I had had enough and decided to break her of her habit once and for all. 

Six months later, we had finally tracked down and trashed all of the pacifiers in the house except for one.  (And when I say "trashed", I mean we took scissors and cut the things up before throwing them in the trash.  She would actually check the trash can for them and pull them out if they were still usable.)  We knew that the Last of The Gonk-Gonks would be the toughest one to get rid of, especially since our little 'un pretty much had it handcuffed to her person at all times.  That's when my wife had a mind-alteringly brilliant - and desperate - idea.

My wife (whom I shall hereafter refer to as "Genius") pulled out a small, padded manila envelope, showed it to our budding addict, and asked if she would like to put her last and only gonk-gonk in the envelope and mail it to her recently-arrived baby cousin in Utah.  I could actually see the wheels turning in her little toddler head as she considered her options.  She took the gonk-gonk from her mouth, stuck it in the envelope, and handed it back to Genius.  Genius scribbled her nephew's name on the envelope, handed it to me, and told me to "put it in the mail" immediately. 

As I stated before, my child loved her gonk-gonk more than any other physical thing on Earth.  I could go away for several days, and she wouldn't even notice.  Take her pacifier away from her, and she would hunt it down and give you a look that contained as much contempt and scorn as can be mustered by someone in diapers.  Also at this point in her life, her entire moral code could be summed up as "Dora = good, Swiper = bad".  When she put her pacifier in that envelope for her cousin, it became obvious to me that she had made some sort of conscious decision to give that which she valued above all else to someone whom she had never really met because she thought he might need it more than she did.  I learned that day that charity begins at home - and in infancy. 

So why, dear friends, am I telling you all of this?  Well, it has become sort of a tradition during this time of year to tell everyone what one is particularly thankful for.  I am of course thankful for all the usual things: good health, a loving family, stunning good looks, etc.  What I am MOST thankful for, though, is what my 2 year-old daughter taught me when she gave away her gonk-gonk:  There is good in everyone.  It ebbs and flows as we live our lives and move through the world, and sometimes it is hard to see in others (and even in ourselves sometimes), but it is most definitely there.  You want to change the world?  Find the good in yourself and others and share it...nurture it...reward it...celebrate it.


ps - While cleaning out my car before trading it in a while back, I reached under the driver's seat and pulled out a small, padded manila envelope addressed "To Baby B____" (our nephews' name).  The Last of The Gonk-Gonks was still in it.  Maybe someday I'll give it back to her....

Friday, July 29, 2011

So Anyway, As I Was Saying....

I know, I know.  It's been 5 months since my last update.  Sue me.  Actually, wait until after my next post in which I will intentionally harass people just to get sued and, therefore, gain media attention.

Moving on....

I have a couple of friends on Facebook who are currently in veterinary school.  Both of them are named Jessica, but I'm not sure what importance that has right now.  What IS important is that I am addicted to their status updates and comments regarding the finer points of being in vet school, mainly because almost every conversation ends up devolving into an educated-sounding discussion of particularly naughty anatomical bits and pieces and their place in the animal world.  (For a good example, google "dirty biological mnemonics", specifically the lewd mnemonic for remembering the cranial nerves.)   Even when the discussions aren't about the ins and outs (so to speak) of reproductive science, they're still highly entertaining and informative.  Entertaining and informative enough that someone could make a TV show out of it.  What follows is my proposal for that show:

They need a House set in the vet world. They can call it "Barnes". He could be a crusty large-animal doctor who now has to practice in an urban small-animal clinic because his arm was permanently damaged in a bizarre calving incident. His best friend is a feline diabetes specialist who has an Odd Couple sort of relationship with Barnes. Barnes has the hots for the clinic administrator, a former staff vet at Pimlico Racetrack until her torrid affair with a jockey ruined her reputation...and her back (you shouldn't stoop to shtup). He will have a team made up of: an Asian guy, a vegetarian, a foreign stud-muffinette (I'm thinking an Austrian - NOT AUSTRALIAN- chick), a bland white guy, and Wayne Newton (just for gits and shiggles). Each week they will tackle a seemingly normal case that has gotten way out of control because of some mystery illness.
Hou...I mean Barnes:  "What we thought was a hairball was really...A BEZOAR*!" 
Wayne Newton: "How does a cat get a bezoar*? Aren't they only found in goats?"
Barnes: "EXACTLY!"
Asian Guy: "Amazing!  How did you figure it out, Dr. Barnes?"
Barnes: "I don't know.  I was leaning back in my chair listening to a Counting Crows CD when suddenly I thought of a goat."
Adam Duritz (lead singer of Counting Crows): "I do NOT sound like a goat when I sing!"
Entire Cast: "Yes you do!!!"
Wayne Newton: "Can I go now?"

*Google it

Friday, March 4, 2011

I'm Smarter than Roger Ebert (Not Really)

One of the many things I love in this world is movies.  All kinds of movies: sci-fi, horror, drama, westerns, comedies, etc.  My tastes are pretty eclectic.  Don't believe me?  I own Clue on DVD.  Yes, the movie starring Tim Curry that was based on the board game.  It's funny, and I like it.  Anyway, one of the things I love to do while watching movies is to try and catch mistakes in the movie: a beer bottle changes places in the middle of a scene, a Storm Trooper bonks his head on a door frame, Dorothy's ever-changing hair length in The Wizard of Oz, etc.  These mistakes are called gaffes or continuity errors.  There is actually a large number of people who try to catch these oopsies for fun, and yes, we are all nerds.

In defense of filmmakers everywhere, let me explain that movies are not easy to make.  If you have ever actually sat through the closing credits of a movie, and I can almost guarantee that you haven't, you have noticed how many hundreds of names there are.  Imagine trying to coordinate all of those people without making a mistake.  In addition to the sheer size of the workforce, movie scenes are not shot in the order in which you see them.  That would be a logistical nightmare.  Part of a scene involving two actors may be shot using just one actor and a stand-in on one day, and the other actor and a stand-in on a completely different day.  Therefore, it is understandable when a movie shows an actor with two vest buttons closed in one shot and three in the next shot.  The movie I am getting ready to talk about, however, has one of the largest and most inexcusable gaffes in the history of ever: Citizen Kane.

For those who don't know, Citizen Kane is the story of the rise (and fall) of Charles Foster Kane, an extremely wealthy and power-hungry media baron.  (Imagine Bill Gates was into newspapers instead of computers.)  The movie starred and was written and directed by Orson Welles back in the days before he developed his own gravitational field and started pushing crappy wine.  It starts with Kane uttering the word "Rosebud" with his dying breath, and it is told in flashbacks courtesy of a reporter who is trying to discover the tantalizing mystery of the meaning of Kane's last word.  This reporter will not rest until he finds out exactly what, or who, Rosebud is.

Thanks to this movie being a thinly-veiled biography (and some would say character assassination) of a real media baron - William Randolph Hearst - at the time (1941), it didn't do very well in theaters.  Hearst owned a large enough percentage of God's green Earth to make sure that this movie didn't play in too many packed houses.  Since then, however, it has become regarded as one of the best movies in the history of cinema.  Greater even than High School Musical and Twilight combined!  The American Film Institute repeatedly ranks it at the top of its annual lists, and even Roger Ebert has stated: "So it's settled: Citizen Kane is the official greatest film of all time."

Here's the problem:  Remember how it was Kane's dying word, "Rosebud", that launched this whole investigation?  The whole movie was basically an investigation into Kane's life to find out what Kane meant by "Rosebud"?  No one was with Kane when he died.  The movie takes great pains to show how alone Kane was in his last days: an empty mansion, "No Trespassing" signs all over the place....  They even show the room his deathbed is in.  No one was with Kane when he died, therefore, no one heard him say "Rosebud".  How did the reporter know what Kane said as he was dying - the word that sparked the entire investigation, and therefore the whole movie?  Granted, a nurse walks in right after he croaks, but I doubt she heard his whispered last words across 20 feet of room and through a heavy wooden door.

The "official greatest film of all time" is based on an impossible premise.  Suck it, Ebert!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Non-Bucket List

A movie came out a couple of years ago called "The Bucket List".  It starred Jack Nicholson as an older fellow who had a list of things he always wanted to do before he died, or as they say: "kicked the bucket."  Not being a member of AARP, I didn't actually watch the movie, but, judging from the previews and Nicholson's current girth, I thought it was called the bucket list because that's how he measured his fried chicken intake.  Anyway, a bucket list is a list of things one wants to do or achieve before he dies.

Since I am currently 35 and have no major diseases that I know of, I have never made a bucket list.  What I DO have, however, is a list of things I really want to see in this world.  These are not great monuments like Stonehenge (built by gnomes), the Leaning Tower of Pisa (knocked askew by gnomes), or the Eiffel Tower (built by the French, who just LOOK like gnomes).  This is a list of things I think would be really cool or funny to see.  Things like:

  1.  A Chevy Suburban NOT being driven by a 5' tall soccer mom. 
  2.  Someone at Wal-Mart after 10pm who DOESN'T have an unfortunate tattoo and/or respiratory problem
  3.  Flying cars.  We've been promised these things since our parents were kids, and no one has done a darn thing about it.
  4. Someone on a Rascal scooter in a grocery store who doesn't weigh over 300 pounds.  You know, someone who is ACTUALLY disabled and not just lazy.
  5. A news report of Fred Phelps dying of a heart attack while fully "engaged" with an underage male prostitute.
  6. More Hummers broken down or out of gas on the side of the road.
  7. My feet.  (For the record, I have NEVER used a Rascal scooter at the grocery store.)
  8. More honest Facebook status updates.  We all know that "Jane Doe is pondering life's greater mysteries" actually means Jane was pooping and had nothing better to occupy her time than update Facebook.
  9. An auctioneer with Tourette's syndrome. "I'm bid 5, 5, 5, now 10, 10, #$%^&^!!, who'll give me 20?"
  10. Oprah come out of the closet.  It's 2011 and she's worth a billion dollars.  I really don't think anyone is going to give her any grief.
  11. An episode of CSI: Miami that doesn't look like an ad for sunglasses.
  12. The entire cast of Jersey Shore backing over a cliff in an RV driven by MTV's head of programming.
  13. "Plus-size" male models.  They have them for women, why not for men?
  14. Paris in the springtime.  While I would like to see this, I would most definitely NOT like to smell it.
  15. A clown on fire.  Not so funny, is it you red-nosed, seltzer-spritzing freak?
  16. A black guy in a hockey jersey standing next to a white guy in Roca Wear.
  17. Fox "News" going off the air.
  18. MSNBC going off the air.
  19. A mother character in a Disney movie make it to the end of the movie.  A friend of mine pointed out that, in almost every Disney movie, the mom of the main character is either already dead, or she dies during the movie.  Uncle Walt was a rather misogynistic fellow, apparently.
  20. Shorter lists.
That's my list for now, but I may add more things in the future as they occur to me.  Feel free to let me know what you would like to see.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Twisted Trivia, Part 1

Welcome back, Tilters!  For this installment of the blog, I've decided to combine two of my favorite things: trivia and twist endings.  I've always liked movies like The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects that had surprising revelations at the end that made me go "Holy CRAP! Bruce Willis was really a woman throughout the WHOLE MOVIE!"  Add a twist to a minor piece of history and you get Twisted Trivia!  (Add a twist to gin and vermouth and you get a Martini!)  Hopefully, this will become a regular topic on the blog.  If not, then it was fun while it lasted (about 15 minutes or 22 farthings in the metric system).

Prior to 1982, it was considered taboo for a company to mention one of its direct competitors in its advertising.  (In a lot of countries it is outright illegal, even today.)  It just wasn't done.  Along came Burger King and their advertising agency J. Walter Thompson.  BK and JWT decided to create an ad taking on the behemoth of burgers: McDonald's.  They aired an ad on television featuring a cute little 4 year-old actress who proclaimed, "I only eat at Burger King".  They also made claims that their burgers were 20% larger than McDonald's, among other things.  Those of you who have ever met a lawyer or who know anything about McDonald's know that this is where the meat hit the grinder, so to speak.

McDonald's at this time still had their sesame seed buns in a wad over the pernicious but false rumors that their burgers contained worm meat and their milkshakes had cow eyeballs in them.  (If you don't know what I'm talking about, ask your parents.)  There was also the ugly business involving the Hamburglar, who is now known as the Hamregisteredsexoffender, and the fact that their coffee stirrers were being used as coke spoons (that one is true, but don't ask your parents because they'll just deny it).  Mickie D's, being a multi-billion dollar corporation, had a couple of lawyers with nothing better to do (which is when a lawyer is the most dangerous) than sue the crown off of the Burger King.

McDonald's didn't just go after the ad agency for defamation, they also sued the 4 year-old actress who starred in the commercial for false advertising.  After intense cross-examination by one of McDonald's hellhounds lawyers, the little girl finally broke down in tears and admitted that she did, in fact, eat at places other than Burger King.  At that time, BK wasn't quite as big or lawyerly as McDonald's, so the case was eventually settled out of court.  That commercial was the first in American advertising in which a company's direct competitor was named, and it was also one of the first cases of the spokesperson - in this case a spokeschild - being named in the suit.

And now,


The actress in that commercial was none other than Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Grudge, Cruel Intentions, I Know What You Did Last Summer and It Wasn't Very Nice, etc. 

Sarah Michelle Gellar got her big break as the star of the TV version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  One of the primary sponsors of that show?  McDonald's...the same company that had sued her when she was 4.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Welcome to my blog, Dear Tilters!  If you are here, it is probably because you know me, know about me, or have heard vague rumblings about my plot to overthrow Chuck E. Cheese.  Therefore, I will skip the biographical info for now, but if you really want to dig up some dirt on me, you can check out my profile at the bottom-right corner of this page.  No...the OTHER right.

So what is "Life at Full Tilt"?  The expression "full tilt" originated with jousting, that popular sport from way back in which two knights would grab long spears or lances, get on horses, and charge directly at each other in the hopes of knocking each other off the horse (who probably had more sense than either of the iron-clad idiots who were competing) and impressing some Medieval maidens.  (These guys would do some serious stuff for some damsel nookie.)  It was basically a game of chicken before cars were invented.  If a knight was going "full tilt", it meant that he was pushing his horse as fast as it could go and leaning as hard into his lance as he dared.  Since then, the expression has come to mean "at full speed" or "as hard as one can".  (For more references, read Don Quixote, specifically his fixation with windmills.)

For my purposes, "full tilt" has two other meanings.  I tend to look at things in a slightly screwy way.  I am perpetually in that state of being in which one looks at something and tilts his head while trying to figure out the meaning of said thing.  Imagine you are looking at a large Chevy Suburban with decals on the back window indicating that the driver has a family containing at least 5 kids.  On the bumper of that monstrosity, however, you see a "Pro-Choice" bumper sticker.  You just have to look at that scene as a whole, tilt your head, and go "Huh?"  These are the things I notice and will hopefully pass on to you, Dear Tilters.

The other meaning for "full tilt" relates to wine.  I spent several years in the wine business and have subsequently developed a passion for the stuff.  I know it's just rotten grape juice, but it is GOOD rotten grape juice.  Try getting rotten bananas to taste that good!  In my dealings with wine, I discovered that both the best moment and saddest moment related to wine happen at the same time: when the bottle is at full tilt and the last drops are being poured out.  You have the (hopefully) pleasant feeling imparted by the wine you have just drunk, but you also have the sad feeling that there is no more to be had.  There is a deeper meaning to this that relates to life as a whole, I am sure, but we'll try to figure that out later.

So...what can you expect from here on out?  Well, my interests are varied, but here is what I will (probably) be covering in the future:

- wine
- the funny aspects of my family life
- food (I'm actually a pretty good cook, but I am NOT a "foodie")
- entertainment and popular culture (usually in a mocking tone)
- Monty Python
- anything else that catches my attention but won't cause me to rant

I'll update as often as I can, and I promise that future posts won't be this long.  If you have any topics you would like to see me cover, or HELPFUL suggestions in general to offer, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.