If not for The Force, Darth Vader would have totally gotten his ass kicked, because that suit? Not very practical.

Daddy Vader, 11.10.09

OK, so here’s the story with this bullshit:

A few weeks ago, Wonder Woman and I took the kids to the comic-book store. While there, Wonder Woman, who is on the school council at Zan’s elementary school, hit up the owner to help sponsor a school fundraiser by providing for the event one of the costumed characters that often appear at the store. The owner said he didn’t have anyone specific he could send, but he’d be willing to loan out the store’s $800 Darth Vader costume.

“Jon’s pretty tall,” Mr. Helpful Comic-Book Store Owner suggested. “He could wear it.”

Well, as we all know by now, no one loves to get himself into ridiculous shit more than me (see “coaching tee-ball”), so I, of course, said, “Yeah, I’ll do it.”

And so yesterday arrived, and suddenly it was time for me to actually dress up in the damn thing … and, alright, I’ll admit it: as a “Star Wars” geek from way back, part of me was kind of excited about putting on that sweet-ass costume … but a much, much bigger part of me was completely skeeved out, because the costume smelled like it just came off of a recently exhumed body that had been slow-poached in Fabreeze Febreeze Febreze bullion.

But, hey, I know how to take one for the team, so I strapped that bad boy on.

Daddy Vader, 11.10.09

Suiting up took almost a half hour, and that didn’t include the two-piece helmet, which I carried to the gig, as my priority was to avoid for as long as possible the stench wafting from its padded innards.

Once we arrived at the location, Wonder Woman provided me with the container of Vicks VapoRub that I’d requested, as I’d planned to employ the old homicide-squad trick of placing beneath each of my nostrils a dollop of mentholated goodness … which I did … but seeing as how I’m a big pussy whose skin is as sensitive as that of an allergy-ridden albino infant, the VapoRub quickly created a burning sensation, so instead of mentholated goodness, it was l’odeur des swamp-ass for me.

The fundraiser worked like this: a local restaurant blocked off a couple of hours during which a portion of its profits would be earmarked for the school (or something like that; I’m not a “details” guy; I’m a “dress up in an asstastically stinky costume” guy). The local restaurant originally was supposed to be a pizza joint, but the pizza-joint people apparently turned out to be pains in the asses, so a late-game switch was made to McDonald’s … because nothing says “we’re helping little kids” quite like pumping them full of frightfully awful, nutritionally bankrupt fast food, am I right?

So here’s the thing about showing up at a suburban-Boston-area McDonald’s at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday night in early November dressed in an authentic movie-replica Darth Vader costume: AWK-WARD.

For starters, hardly any families from the school were there when we arrived, so I was pretty much just hanging around with my wife and kids while the other patrons were all looking at me like “…the fuck?” In other words, I felt like a bit of a douche. Douche Vader, if you will. Mostly, I was just hoping that the teenagers behind the counter weren’t thinking up ways to fuck with me.

Fashion tip: an insulated, quilt-like, black-pleather bodysuit does not breathe quite as nicely as Egyptian cotton … and adding to your ensemble a heavy black cape, black snow boots, black leather gloves, black plastic-and-leather leg guards, a large black codpiece, several battery-operated light-up control-panel doohickeys, and a small steamer trunk disguised as a helmet does nothing to help matters.

It soon became clear that my only chance of survival was to station myself outside in the playground area.

Darth Vader: Sith Lord and Safety Officer

Eventually, quite a few families showed up … and, fortunately, the kids were all pretty stoked about meeting Darth Vader.

Daddy Vader, 11.10.09

Unfortunately, Darth Vader could hardly see any of them … because the sauna-like conditions inside the costume quickly resulted in the clear-plastic-covered eye holes fogging up completely.

So there I was, broiling to death inside a Darth Vader costume. A lesser man would have caved in, fled the scene, removed the mask and gulped down lungfuls of fresh, breathable air. But not me. No, if there’s one thing that enduring army basic training in Alabama in the middle of July and subsequently spending three years stationed in the Mojave Desert made me capable of withstanding, it’s being overdressed in extreme heat. Yes, that’s right: My extensive army training and military background sculpted me into the perfect candidate to wear a sadomasochistic science-fiction costume to McDonald’s. Happy Veterans Day, America! You’re welcome!

Finally, my two-hour ordeal came to a close … although I still kept the mask on for the entire drive home … both because one of the mothers begged me to make sure her child didn’t see me take it off for fear of scarring him for life, and because I figured I might as well get some decent pictures at home, indoors, where the lighting was much better.

Sadly, my staff photographer accidentally switched the camera from “Auto Focus” to “Manual Focus” without realizing she had done so, so instead of some epic shots of Daddy Vader and Zan Skywalker engaged in a deadly lightsaber battle, we have this blurry batch of shit:

Daddy Vader, 11.10.09

Daddy Vader, 11.10.09

Daddy Vader, 11.10.09

Daddy Vader, 11.10.09

Also not to be missed is this blurry shot of Daddy Vader and daughter, who felt compelled to quickly throw on her Snow White costume.

Daddy Vader, 11.10.09

Daddy Vader, 11.10.09

This would have been a great one, too:

Daddy Vader, 11.10.09

Oh well, at least we can plan on getting some better shots the next time I dress up in the suit … which should happen roughly never.

When I finally stripped off the costume, Zan looked at my soaking-wet gray running shirt (which I wore along with a pair of spandex running pants, because there was no way in hell my flesh was going to touch the inside of that thing), he was all, “Whoah! I can’t believe how sweaty you are! Why did you do that, Daddy?”

“Why did I do what?”

“Dress up in that costume for two hours!”

“Why did I do it?” I replied, somewhat maniacally. “I did it for you! For your school! Pretty awesome, huh? Aren’t I a great guy? What a lucky boy you are to have a Daddy like me, eh? Now come here; I’m gonna hug you just like this!”

He wasn’t interested in hugging my sweaty, stench-covered ass … but I’m hopeful that, when he reads this someday, he’ll be appreciative of the crazy shit I did in order to be the cool dad.

UPDATE: Wonder Woman just told me that Zan did, in fact, thank me sincerely during that last exchange, but I apparently was too delirious from toxic Darth Vader-costume fumes to commit that moment to memory.

You’re welcome, son.

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Posted in Parenthood | Tagged | 22 Responses

Sorbet, anyone?

When I was 10, my parents took my brother, sister and I on our first big vacation. We flew from Boston to California, where we rented a Mercury Zephyr and visited Disneyland. The Zephyr had power windows, which were relatively new to us; had my parents used the money they spent on the trip to instead buy a car with power windows, we’d have been equally entertained.

In addition to visiting Disneyland, we also visited Universal Studios … where, sadly, the “Jaws” attraction was drained due to in-progress maintenance. (There are few things more pathetic than an enormous, fake, Great White shark trying to look fierce as it’s being held aloft by a fully exposed metal arm while sitting in the middle of a bone-dry cement pond.)

We capped our Universal visit with dinner at Victoria Station — which, at the time, seemed fancier to us than the Taj Mahal. As an indication of just how fancy-shmancy the restaurant was: they served to each of us between the appetizer and main course a miniature ice cream cone containing a tiny scoop of lemon sorbet, whose purpose, we learned, was to cleanse our palates before we moved on to our tasty dinner. (Clearly, this was a big deal, because, roughly three decades later, I remember neither the appetizer nor the dinner, but can still see with great clarity the little lemon-sorbet cones.)

Now, I don’t know about you, but the happenings around here last week left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, and I feel I could use some palate cleansing before we move on to tastier things. Unfortunately, sending each of you a lemon-sorbet cone is entirely impractical. Thus, I offer up instead a delicious musical interlude:

That there is a duo that goes by the name of Pomplamoose covering a Beyonce song that I’m happy to say I’ve never had the misfortune of hearing, but I’m willing to bet my lily-white ass that Pomplamoose’s version is about a bazillion times better. The lovely Maggie of Mighty Girl fame turned me on to it a few weeks ago, and I instantly was hooked. If ever a palate-cleansing mental sorbet existed, this is it. (And if you need further cleansing, allow me to direct you to this equally catchy Pomplamoose original.)

Both songs have some serious hooks … so much so that they’ll soon be rattling around in your head incessantly, wiping clean the brain space previously occupied by the nastiness of last week’s infestation. You’re welcome.

And for those of you who actually prefer controversy, feel free to read my thoughts about circumcision over at Momversation … because I know you’ve been consumed with the need to know how I feel about that issue.

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Posted in General, Life, Music | 13 Responses

Howzabout we just pretend I never said anything, and you can all crawl back into the sewer?

Wow. Just … wow.

I’ve gotten quite an education over the past couple of days about a controversy I never knew existed.

There apparently are battle lines drawn out there. On one side are the Childfree (a single word, I’ve learned), and on the other side are the Childed (what most people refer to as “Parents,” and what the angry faction of the Childfree movement refers to as “Breeders”; they also refer to mothers as “Moos” and fathers as “Duhdees” … and, I swear to Christ, I’m not making this up).

When I sat down to write my “So now I’m the unwitting poster child for why people shouldn’t have children?” entry the other day, I said to myself, “Self, this seems like a relatively entertaining topic … the fact that your tongue-in-cheek ‘Kids for Sale’ thing is being waved as a flag around which to rally those who have chosen to be child-free.”

And so I wrote my little “So now I’m the unwitting poster child …” thing, and I posted it, and I mostly got what I expected: lots of comments from the many parents who read this site and could relate to what I was saying about being a parent.

I also expected to hear from some in the Childfree camp, and I can understand why a few of them may have taken issue with what I wrote, because its tone was harsh … which, in all honesty, didn’t have a thing to do with me having any kind of opinion — good, bad or indifferent — about people who don’t have kids (because, truth be told, I really, really, really couldn’t care less whether or not another human being has chosen to procreate; I have enough shit of my own to worry about, thank you); what it actually had to do with was the fact that I mostly paint with fluorescent, Day-Glo colors here, because I’m trying to make this shit leap off the page, not blend in with the wallpaper. Yes, when it comes to taking poetic license (or literary license, as it were), I flail about with wild abandon.

If my remarks were directed at any singular entity, that entity was not the general Childfree population, but rather the author of HappilyChildFree.com — partly because I felt like he/she was taking something I wrote and using it in a manner that misrepresented my true feelings … and mostly because the simple fact that he/she had decided to link to my “Kids For Sale” entry gave me something interesting to write about.

Of course, what I didn’t realize at the time was that I was about to walk into a shit storm. You know, ’cause that’s what I need.

Had I taken the time to really dig into HappilyChildFree.com before writing my piece, I maybe would have thought twice about posting it, because what I assumed was probably just a harmless little blog that had benignly linked to my “Kids For Sale” entry turns out to be one of many tiny tent poles propping up the slime-covered canopy under which the aforementioned angry faction of the Childfree movement — whose presence, I swear, I was completely unaware of before I stepped on this landmine — huddles together all hunched over and cackles about us awful Breeders whilst rubbing together their cloven hooves and burning holes in the ground with their “Alien”-like drool.

As fate would have it, I didn’t find that out until after the fact … which explains how I inadvertently placed myself in the crosshairs of a small number of lunatics — some of whom, for the sake of example, have created a messageboard thread all about me (so flattered!) at the insightfully titled BratFree.com, where they’ve written things like this:

“… And like clockwork, [the “Kids For Sale” entry is] followed by a post with a GIANT picture of the GirlBrat’s mug (sitting in a bathtub, HOW original) yammering about how such a hellion could be so sweet and delighful.”

“Use protection next time, DUH.”

“Duhddies are more delusional than the moos.”

“This is probably the type of prick who put more thought into the colour of his car than he thought about having kids.”

And my personal favorite:

“DAMN YOU. Now I want to find this guy and KILL HIM.”

Honorable mention goes to the following two comments, left just now by a couple of troglodyte spawn who slithered over here from that messageboard and used their rat-like noses to peck this out on their keyboards:

“Ugly kids your balljuice created. Gross.”

“Wow, you write just like Dave Barry. I hate Dave Barry. Almost as much as I hate ‘Candyland’ but that’s neither here nor there. Oh, and kids suck.”

Actually, that last one there is more of a backhanded compliment … so, um … thanks!

Now, to be clear: I know that, much like White Supremacists don’t represent all caucasians, these sick, twisted, mouth-breathing fuckheads don’t represent the entire Childfree population, which I’ve seen firsthand is also occupied by completely sane, compassionate, reasonable adults. It’s like my grandfather (Grandbreeder?) used to say: “There’s always a shithead in every group.”

So, to the Shitheads: I’m very sorry I accidentally knocked over your cup of poison. It was not my intention to find some rancid little subsection of society that I could whip into a narcissistic frenzy; it was my intention to entertain the demographic that usually frequents this site … you know, the Breeders … the Moos … the Duhdees.

It has been very … eye-opening to make your acquaintance, but I’m all done with this topic, and I’m also all done hosting a battleground in my Comments. Yes, it’s very one-sided of me to deny you your voice from this point forward … but this is my little fiefdom, and I made it to share with those who are interested my experience of being, among other things, a father, and not to give you some place to vent your obvious unhappiness with the world.

By all means, you’re welcome to continue to come here and read things that will make your tiny little reptilian heads spin around and spout steam, if you like — after all, I get paid every time you view a page — but if you’re looking for someplace to spew invective, please kindly crawl back into the holes from whence you came. Or, hell, make yourselves some new holes … just as long as they’re not here. I would appreciate it … and, in return, I’ll never mention you again.

Love,

Duhdee Scratches

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Posted in Life, Parenthood | 70 Responses

Hewlett Packard wants me to feel bad about myself

HP Deskjet 5550

I’ve had the color-inkjet printer shown above for just under six years, and if six human years are equal to 42 dog years, then 42 dog years are equal to 750 computer-technology years … which means, technologically speaking, my printer is … hmmm … times seven, carry the two … um … a billion years old. (I always sucked at math.)

Zan recently needed to bring to school a picture of his family, so I printed one out for him. Here’s what it looked like:

Freaky Fenway Family

Turns out I had pretty much run out of ink, so I ordered some replacement cartridges online, and, in an effort to save a few bucks, I purchased refurbished cartridges rather than new cartridges … because I’m very poor conscientious about my family’s finances.

So the refurbished cartridges arrived, and I installed them in the printer, and then I opened the Print Utility application on my computer so that I could check the ink-level indictor to make sure that I, in fact, had received full cartridges. Unfortunately, when I clicked on the “Supply Levels” tab, I was greeted with a message that said “Go fuck yourself.”

Well, I still remember a time when the “Supply Levels” tab had far better manners, and would instead reveal a lovely color indicator that showed me a heartwarming visual representation of just how much ink was left, and I very much wanted those days to return, so I shuffled on over to Hewlett Packard’s website to see if their “Support” area might be able to enlighten me.

The closest thing I could conjure up from the depths of the “Support” search engine was the following little nugget, and based on the solution offered, I’m pretty sure that when Hewlett Packard uses the word “Support,” they mean “moral support” rather than “technical support”:

ISSUE:
After installing a new HP Inkjet print cartridge, the ink level indicator remains at the previous level.

SOLUTION:
Continue to print and ignore the ink level indicator. The print cartridge is full of ink, it just is not being measured accurately.

Really? No, seriously: really?

That’s some damn fine, highly insightful information right there. So insightful, in fact, that I’ve decided to also apply it to the following dilemmas:

  • an illuminated “you’re almost out of gas” indicator on my dash
  • an almost-empty gauge on my home-heating-oil tank
  • a near-zero balance on my checking account

As pleased as I was to have had Hewlett Packard resolve all of those annoying problems for me, I still kinda wanted to know where my “Supply Levels” info had run off to, so I sniffed around the HP site a bit more, which led me to the following similarly helpful bit of HP “Support”:

We are sorry to inform you that there will be no Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) support available for your HP product.

Well, that sucks. But they didn’t just leave it at that, did they? No, they didn’t.

A small set of HP Inkjet printers beyond 5 years old are not supported with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

“A small set” … in other words, “There are a few losers out there who still are using one of our ancient relics.” So now you’re calling me a loser, HP? Oh, don’t act all innocent; I can read between the lines, assholes.

And as if insulting me and my old printer wasn’t enough, HP then had the balls to throw this at me:

Please consider upgrading to a newer HP product that is supported on Mac OS X 10.6.

OK, tell you what, HP … I’ll consider using this month’s food money to replace my near-mint-condition printer with another one of your products that presumably will be obsolete in five years if you’ll consider GO SUCK IT.

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Posted in Geek, Life | 22 Responses

Dishes are done, man

Oh, the blogging I wanted to do today. I mean, when you have this much “funny” and “witty” and “sheer genius” pumping through your bloodstream 24/7, you need an outlet, you know what I’m sayin’?

But here it is, 11 p.m., and I am just now finishing a day of working, and an evening of taking care of the kids, and helping Zan do his book report (because, you know, if there’s one thing 6-year-old kids who are spending all day, five days per week, cooped up in a classroom for the first time in their short little lives need, it’s fucking homework and book reports … and, yes, I know I’m cursing, but I have to pretend in front of my son that I think homework is a GREAT IDEA! and SO MUCH FUN!, so guess what, Internet? You get to bear the brunt of my displaced hostility about the whole homework thing! You’re welcome!), and putting both kids to bed, and emptying the dishwasher, and doing the dishes, and taking the trash down to the curb — to include an assload of big, bulky, shit-we’re-getting-rid-of stuff from the basement — and so what you get instead of my special brand of world-class blogging is me ranting like a pissy little bitch about stuff that really isn’t that big of a deal, and, again: You’re welcome!

The best I could come up with was this picture, which I snapped at approximately the same moment that I heard what sounded like my daughter crying and calling out for me, and I swear to Christ, we have the kids’ monitors on every single moment of every single night except, without fail, on those occasions when they actually do wake up and are having a problem and do need Mommy and/or Daddy (to include that time a couple years ago when, just before I climbed into bed, I went to check on Zan, who was absolutely sound asleep, which was great, except something didn’t smell quite right, and as I got closer to him, something didn’t look quite right, and did he spill something in his bed, or is he bleeding, or, wait, no, sweet mother of god, he vomited in his sleep and has been rolling around in it for who knows how the hell long, and it’s a good thing we always, always, ALWAYS have his video monitor on … except, of course, on the night he hosed his bed down with puke and didn’t even wake up).

So I dashed up the stairs, where my stuffed up, sore-throat-having daughter was crying, and had apparently been doing so for long enough that she was a teary, snot-filled, dry-heaving mess. After a few minutes of holding her up in front of the toilet after she informed me she thought she was going to throw up, I got her settled down and back to sleep without any vomiting … but she’s sick, and if ever you’re on a game show, and the host asks “How many days of pre-school does it take for a 4-year-old who hasn’t been sick in months to suddenly develop a full-blown cold inside of two hours?,” the answer is “Five.” (And if you win the game with that answer, I expect to be compensated.)

And there’s the sound I love oh-so-much … the sound of a baby monitor broadcasting the pathetic cries of a sick child who drifts in and out of sleep all night, occasionally crying out, which simultaneously makes me feel terrible for the sick child and makes me wish I was completely deaf.

Nothing like following a long day with a long night, am I right?

Well, at least dumping it all on you has made me feel a little bit better. Thanks, Internet. Good night.

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Posted in Featured Photo | 12 Responses