22 June 2010

The Chicken Wing Incident

Sometimes you just don't know when to stop.

Let me amend that. Sometimes I don't know when to stop. This happens most frequently when I'm presented with a buffet. Pizza, family-style, Swedish smorgasbord, it doesn't matter. I tend to eat until medical attention is required.

Such was the case today, on a trip to the local Chinese buffet. I already forget the name of it, and wouldn't include it even if I did remember as they have not purchased any advertising in my well read virtuapages. Nevertheless, I did as I always do when perusing the Chinese buffet for delicacies that will remind me of that far away, oriental, mystical, Eastern, Asian, Chinalytical taste that no other restaurant can replace: I headed straight for the fried chicken wings. I piled them high on my plate until I could barely see where I was going. Several waitresses eyed me with a look that suggested I was breaching the customs of their ancient land.

Quite aware that I was pushing my luck, I balanced my mountain of chicken wings in my right hand and attempted to carefully ladle a generous helping of pink sweet and sour sauce over my precious pyramid. In doing so, however, I accidentally put my hand in something labeled "trukey dressing". I recoiled instinctively and this reaction caused my plate of authentic Chinawings to escape my possession, teetering and tottering--particularly tottering--until they fell on the floor. 26 separate chicken wings, scattered all over the thin Asian carpet.

Several people gasped in horror. One of them, I'm quite certain, was me.

I noticed that one wing had not fallen to the floor, but instead had tumbled into what looked like brown mashed potatoes. That doesn't have anything to do with anything, but it was what I thought of later more than anything else. It just looked so...pathetic...lying there in that goop. Like, get a life, chicken wing.

I dropped to my knees, avoiding the temptation to cry out in horror like that guy at the end of Platoon. I started picking up the wings, hoping they would be salvageable. I knew without a doubt I would not be permitted to refill my plate with fresh wings. Knowing this, I was aghast to find my chicken wings covered in dog fur. I looked around. The entire floor was covered in fine, white dog hairs. No dog was present; I could only assume he traveled the floor after hours.

I sighed and abandoned my chicken wings. I know a losing battle when I see one.

To make a long story short, my chicken wings could have easily been saved had the proprietors of this restaurant used the Petco Dog Hair Pick-Up Mitt.

It works like this: you put the mitt on your hand and then you get down on your knees and slowly rub it over your entire carpet. It picks up the dog fur like magic. One might even say it picks up the dog fur like oriental magic. You can also remove fur directly from the dog, rubbing and rubbing until he is naked. Get one today at Petco's website or at a Petco retailer near you! Don't let a chicken wing tragedy happen at your home.

15 June 2010

The Problem With Reading In Bed

A wise man once said--it might have been Spencer Pratt--"Reading in bed is one of life's supreme pleasures." Frankly, I couldn't have said it better myself. Unfortunately, reading in bed is not always what it ought to be. Sometimes...last night, for instance...it is misery.

My wife, Betsy-Ann, and I were propped up in bed, reading our respective choice of literature. For her, that meant some silly bit of fluff she found in the "chick-lit" section of the bookstore. For me, that meant the June issue of Highlights magazine. I was studying intently the Hidden Pictures game, wondering if it was a particularly difficult puzzle this month or if I was simply too tired to concentrate properly. I'd managed to find only 7 out of the 15 hidden objects, with the slice of pizza proving to be uncommonly elusive. I was busy searching through the picture when I heard the most distracting sound coming from my wife.

"Wususususususususususususususu. Wususususususususususususususususu."

I held my tongue as long as possible, but the constant low, whispering sound was preventing me from completing the puzzle.

"I'm sorry, honey," I said. "But could you please read to yourself?"

She turned her head to me, bits of Ritz cracker falling out of her beard. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize I was doing it. I'll try to stop."

"Thank you kindly."

I returned to the picture. With my hard-earned silence, I was able to quickly discover the pizza in the spokes of a bicycle. So very tricky. Still, if I'd been working with optimum focus, I should have been able to ferret it out long ago. The next missing picture was a comb, but I thought I might save the rest for the next day. I still wanted to read the letters page before turning in for the night.

"Wusususususususususu. Wususu. Wususu. Wusususususususususu."

I set the magazine aside. "For the love of all that is good and holy, will you please shut up? Will you shut up? Will you shut up? Will you? Will you shut up?"

"I didn't realize I was doing it! I'm soooo sorry I'm taking away your concentration. I know it's hard for you to follow along while reading a magazine meant for kindergarten students!"

I sat bolt upright in bed. "Have you ever read an issue of Highlights? The articles are written so they can be enjoyed by both adults and children. Adults and children alike! Why is that so hard for you to understand?"

"Don't you ever yell at me in this bed," Betsy-Ann said, tossing her book aside and turning to face me. "I can't help it that you're an emotionally stunted man-child. Don't take it out on me."

"Well," I said, fully regretting my choice of words before they had even left my mouth, "I guess this is what I get for marrying a talking goat!"

A moment of complete silence spun out as we both pondered what I had said. I wanted to take the words back, but they were out there and no apology would be good enough to make them disappear. After a moment, she pushed back the covers and leapt from the bed. Her hooves made a faint clip-clop sound on the hardwood floor as she left the bedroom. I heard her pause by the salt lick in the kitchen for a brief refreshment. Shortly after that, she was gone.

Wracked with sadness, I leaned over and buried my head into her pillow. It smelled like Tide and goat urine. It smelled like love.

10 June 2010

My Rejected Novel

Well, it's official. My novel, which took me three years to write and an additional three years to edit, has been rejected. No, not just rejected. Rejected soundly. I really never anticipated this day. I thought for sure it was destined for the NY Times Bestseller's List. Alas, it is not to be.

Longtime readers of The Shark Tank will not be surprised to learn that I've spent much of my adult life writing an intricate romance novel. While I put my heart and soul into the book, the editor at Harlequin was unimpressed. I've read the rejection letter nearly forty times now, and I get angrier with each pass. What do they want out of me? Here, read the letter and see what you think:

Ignoring for a moment the unnecessary vitriol, let's just take the points she makes in the second paragraph. She says my novel needs improvement in description, character development, dialogue and she apparently thinks the love scenes are horrible as well. I have to admit, after reading the letter, I began to have internal doubts. I went back and read my manuscript, thinking that freshly opened eyes would see the work differently. If anything, however, I thought the book was even stronger than I remembered. But I have to take into consideration my possible bias. That's why I'm turning to you, faithful readers. I encourage you to tell me the truth. I've posted excerpts from my book, each of them demonstrating the aspects of fiction Judith Esterman seems to think need so much improvement. Read them, form your own opinion, and let me know what you think.

Description: From Page 38

Eddie thought she was the picture of loveliness as she stepped out onto the balcony. She was wearing a dress that was almost the exact color green of his poop when he'd spent the last several days drinking grape NeHi. Her hair was a mixture of gold and silver and copper, all flowing at once like a mineshaft had exploded, except there was no sign of a dead canary. Her chin was restful and deep, like the thoughts of wise men from centuries past. He wanted to examine her more closely, smell her, see if there were any small bits of orange ear wax on her inner lobe.

Character Development: From Page 99

From the moment Gretchen met him, she knew he would be trouble. Though she had no way of knowing this, she suspected he had been involved in terrorism in his youth. Perhaps he had been born to Al-Qaeda parents, living on the east end of New York City. Maybe his father was called Abdul Shariik and his mother had been a suicide bomber in Jerusalem. All of these things, actually, she guessed correctly, as these were all true facts from his life and he was as evil as they come.

Dialogue: From Page 145

"Do you think our love will last forever?" asked Gretchen.

"It will last as long as the days, and even longer," said Eddie.

"Like 24 hours?" asked Gretchen.

"No, I meant like the end of time. So very long. You see, I was speaking metaphorically. Do you want some fish?"

Gretchen thought a moment. "Why couldn't you have just said, 'yes'? No I don't want any fucking fish, do I look like a Chinaman?"

"omg, you idiot, I meant to eat," Eddie said, running out of patience.

"Oh," she said, "then I guess so."

Love Scene: Page 390

They exchanged a knowing glance when they both reached for the last shrimp at the same time. He picked up the shrimp and dangled it above her wanting mouth. Gently caressed her cheek with the jumbo crustacean. She bit at it once, twice, and finally got it on the third try. Butter squirted out and stained Eddie's jeans.

"I guess I'll have to take these off," he murmured.

"Oooh, yes," she said, in between chewing her shrimp.

He took off his jeans and his underwear and approached her with his growing ding dong.

"Let me get the fly swatter," she said, and ran for the utility room. He sat down on the couch and waited, wondering idly if that guy he saw on the train that morning had really been his father. But no, his father had died many years before. It must have been an imposter.

"I'm baaack," Gretchen said. She had a fly swatter in her right hand and she had removed all of her clothing.

"You're naked," he said, giggling to himself.

"That's right," she said and smacked his wiener with the fly swatter until the local news came on.

Maybe I'll try sending it in to Simon & Schuster.

07 June 2010

Whatever Comes To Mind

A lot of people are rightfully concerned about this oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. It doesn't seem like anyone has any great ideas about how to stop it. But here's what I'm wondering. Why hasn't anyone asked Superman to help? He's proven his ability to stop oil leaks (see Superman III). I'm really not sure why I have to be the one to think of these things.


Every time I read something about the Punch-Out series on Nintendo, someone has to bring up the fact that it is a game of pattern recognition. But it's not. It's a game about boxing.


I like to buy and use Cottonelle toilet paper. It's just the right mixture of softness and rigidity. However, even if I didn't really like it, I would probably still buy it just for the dog on the packaging. That is a happy, cute dog. I wonder what he's thinking sometimes. Do you think he uses Cottonelle? Does he eat poop?


Is there anything more embarrasing than singing a song out loud and your friends have to correct you on the lyrics? The other day, I was singing Billy Joel's "Piano Man". I always thought the lyrics were "La la da, la do da", but it turns out it's actually, "La la la, de de da". If I could have found a way to disappear at that moment, trust me, I would have.


I was looking for something to do the other day, and I saw an advertisement for the Florida Air Museum. I don't care how bored I get, I'm not going to a museum about air.


Just once I want to watch a movie with someone and have them turn to me and say, "Yeah, well, that was a hell of a lot better than the book."


Why in every container of McDonald's french fries is there that one, crispy dark fry that looks like an infected toenail?


Now that's gaming.

04 June 2010

I Hate You, City Bus

Finding yourself caught in traffic behind a city bus is a special dimension of hell. Has this ever happened to you? The answer is no, because you would still be behind it right now. There's no getting around the bus. And if your town is anything like mine, there is a bus stop approximately every 3.4 feet. There's not even any space between the benches, they're just linked together like seats in a sporting arena. And should you be traveling behind one of these buses, you can rest assured that it will stop at every single one of these stops.

Pictured: Five separate bus stops

I found myself trapped behind one of these mechanical tortoises the other day. I didn't really catch on to my own predicament until the bus had made three consecutive pickups, all within the span of a single Safelite Auto Glass commercial. I watched as a man I wouldn't have suspected would have the money for bus fare shambled on to the bus, leaving a trail of dust behind him.

With every bench the bus stopped at, I grew more and more frustrated, all of my increasing anger directed at the riders, none of whom were in any hurry to get on the bus. And when I get angry in traffic, I start calling people names, some of which make little to no sense in hindsight.

Bus Stop #1
"Oh come on. We don't have all day, Dirty Wellerbee."

Bus Stop #2
"For the love of Baby Jesus, will you get on the bus already, Crackerjack Cowboob?"

Bus Stop #3
"Here we go. Prince Abdul ShitAss of the turtle fucking tribe of East Pedoville, Ohio is going to take his sweet time getting on the bus."

I could feel my blood pressure soaring to previously unexplored heights as the bus made stop after stop and my attempts to pass in the other lane were consistently thwarted by what could only be a choreographed effort from other asshole drivers. I'm not exaggerating when I say that literally everyone on the road was able to pass except for me. In fact, I'm pretty sure people saw the scene from their houses and stopped whatever they were doing just so they could rush out, get in their cars, and contribute to the campaign to keep me awash in black exhaust for the rest of my life.

"Dude, get over to Brower Street. We've got this dumbass trapped behind the bus. It's awesome!"

I looked at the clock on the dashboard and realized that if I never passed this bus, my arrival home would coincide with the next appearance of Haley's Comet. I had to make a decision. Passing on the left was an impossibility, and there were no side streets coming up for the foreseeable future. I decided to take my chances and simply pass on the right. I thought that with a little luck I would only have to drive through three private residential yards before returning to the road, successfully having thwarted the bus and securing my name in the annals of the Highway Hall of Fame.

I went for it.

One yard, two yards, shit I just ran over a little kid's 3 wheeler, three yards, and...damn.

There was a cop directly in front of the bus. He did not hesitate to flash on his lights and pull me over (which actually consisted of me pulling back into the road in this instance). I watched helplessly as he took my driver's license and cut it in two pieces right in front of me. My irritation at this turn of events grew even greater when I noticed the ease with which the bus was able to pass both of us.

So now, I'm forced to take the bus myself. I try to get up from the bench and climb into my public chariot as quickly as possible, but I've noticed more than a few apoplectic drivers doubtlessly calling me names that would get you thrown off network television. I want to tell them to calm down. Everything's going to be okay. You can't fight City Hall, and you can't fight the city bus.

02 June 2010

Prizes Found in Generic Cereal

The manufacturers of kids cereal have known the name of the game for some time. Not only do they wisely put their colorful boxes of sugary breakfast candy right at a child's eye level in the supermarket, they make sure and put some kind of prize in there, in case the lure of cartoon characters and fruity rings aren't enough to get the job done. Of course, for every Froot Loops, there is the generic equivalent. In order to have a fighting chance, they have had to rise to the level of their giant sized competition. Well, maybe not quite to that level.

31 May 2010

Monday Movie Reviews

The Nightmare Before Christmas (2010)
This unnecessary remake follows the original almost beat for beat, but suffers by using terrible CGI and entirely too many instances of the word, "bushwhacked". The plot is much the same, following the adventures of beleaguered champion of Halloween Jack Skellington as he terrorizes the teenagers of Springwood, Ohio by appearing in their dreams. The movie is mostly inoffensive until the bizarre third act when (SPOILER ALERT) it is revealed that the happenings of the film are set in the reality of "Dateline NBC". Best viewed at night with someone who doesn't have long to live. Starring Hippopotamus Johnson and The Three Stooges. 9 stars out of a possible 3,211.

Gladiator (1992)
A charming tale of love and longing set against the background of the 1986 Challenger disaster. Russell Crowe stars as an airline pilot named Maximus whose dream it is to one day go aboard a space shuttle. His dreams are shattered when the disaster happens and he is forced to fight for his own job when an airline stewardess accuses him of masturbating in the cockpit. Starring Russell Crowe and Meredith Baxter Birney. 44 stars out of a possible 50.

Space Jam (1921)
One of the earliest successful combinations of animation and live action, Space Jam tells the story of a young scientist obsessed with becoming the next emperor of the galaxy. With a little help from his animated friends Shoebox Forrester and his sidekick The Ice Train, he learns that power isn't everything, but friendship is. Starring Michael Jordan and Abraham Lincoln. 8 stars out of a possible 13.

27 May 2010

The Shark Tank's Guide to Interior Design

For centuries, interior design was the exclusive province of the wealthy, the erudite, and the frou-frou. However, with accessible furniture and ornamentation coming down in price every year, having a great looking home is something we call all strive for. Sadly though, unless you were born with the gift of garnishment, you might find proper interior design to be beyond your capabilities. Hiring a professional might be beyond your budget. That's why I'm here to give you some important tips that will take your abode from drab to fab in a heartbeat. Listen up!

Finding the Balance
One of the most important aspects of interior design is to find the right balance between your various ornaments and furniture. A piece of furniture by itself might be especially gaudy or inappropriate on its own, but together with a complementary piece, it could really come alive. The opposite is also true. Don't believe me? Well, maybe you'll believe this: Your parents didn't intend on carrying you to term. It was only when a gypsy told them they could sell you for $100,000 into slavery that they decided to go ahead with it. Fortunately for you, they could never find that gypsy after you were born.

Let's continue with an example of proper balance.

Here we have a nice, plain, red couch. Boring, right? Maybe, but its important to have a few pieces like this so the room doesn't get overwhelmed. Besides, it looks comfortable enough and you can probably find a replica for cheap. Here's the secret. Bookmark the couch with endtables. On one of the endtables, place a lamp. On the other endtable, place this decorative ornament:

That's right, it's an Al Roker cookie jar! All right, maybe it's Louie Armstrong, I don't really know. Whoever he is, he will bring just the right amount of whimsy and warmth into an otherwise dull situation. Why don't you just stretch his head open right there and have a cookie. I think I will. Mmmm, chocolate chip. My favorite!

The Importance of Contrast
Matching a room is not like matching your t-shirts and jean shorts. You have to put a little thought into what colors go with what, and then play around with the concepts. Sure, you can make a whole room a single shade of blue, but don't complain when you go blue-blind and wind up lost and alone, murmuring the word, "periwinkle" over and over again while your children decide what to do with your corpse when you finally die off.

Contrast is like this. Let's say you have a floor that looks something like this:

Simple and elegant, but you're asking for trouble if you introduce a blue rug on top of that. To find the right contrast, you have to go to the color wheel. Directly across from blue is "lion face". Perfect! I know just the rug!

Not only does this rug contrast beautifully with the floor, it lets your guests know that you're a person who appreciates wild animals and might even have a bit of a wild streak yourself, if you know what I mean. Eh? Eh?? Don't you just kind of want to brush that lion's teeth for him? Come here, lion, let me get those back molars, you saucy cat.

Comfort is Paramount
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking style should come before comfort when decorating their homes. This is not true. After all, you have to live there, right? Shouldn't you be able to relax in your own home? I guess you think style should be paramount when decorating your house. Perhaps you'll wonder where that line of thinking got you when you're sashaying down a secluded alleyway, your pants missing, and a Bratz doll stuck in your lower colon.

Let's take this chair for an easy example.

Just look at that thing. Oh sure, it looks like a million bucks, but how long do you think you could sit on it before you started to get butt-leprosy? Probably not for very long, if my days as an amateur doctor gave me any indication. On the other hand, take this chair:

Sure, it's a little silly to have a dinosaur chair in your primary living room, but what of it? Oh, are dinosaurs just for little kids now? The pteradon, one of the most popular flying dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous, was actually known for his skills in interior design. This way, you can not only watch television in comfort, you can pay tribute to one of the pioneers of decoration at the same time. Plus, look at that spiny dinosaur just where your left knee would go. Doesn't that kind of put you in the mood for peanut brittle. Man, I love peanut brittle.

Selling Your Home
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Sometimes you'll make such a disaster out of your interior design, you'll have no choice but to simply sell your house and start fresh. I've moved 39 times in my adult life for that very reason and I'm about to do it again. My best advice: use Craig's List.

25 May 2010

Some Dogs Don't Deserve to be Adopted

[As part of a community outreach program, The Shark Tank is pleased to welcome SPCA Tampa Managing Director Phil Gillman, who has a few words he'd like to get off his chest about pet adoption.]

For years, the SPCA has been the leader in the nationwide movement to protect precious animals from evils such as overbreeding, abuse, and neglect. As part of that effort, we have encouraged a system whereby potential pet owners come to us for adoption possibilities, rather than patronize expensive pet stores that likely sell pets from outdated and immoral breeding farms. While this movement has been a tremendous success, I can no longer stand by and let bad dogs go to good homes. Let's face it, some dogs don't deserve to be adopted.

To prove my point, I'm going to pick a sampling out of our current batch of dogs at the Tampa chapter of the SPCA. Don't get me wrong; many of the dogs here are well trained, obedient, and ready for a nice home. They will play with kids, fetch the newspaper, and do all manner of things people expect out of their faithful friends. Then there are the dogs I'm about to feature. While some of them certainly look like the type of pet you would bring home to Mom, let there be no mistake: these dogs are bad. Let's take a look.

Name: Bernie
Breed: German Shepherd Mix
Favorite Color: Atomic Tangerine

Why He Doesn't Deserve to be Adopted: Bernie is certainly a playful sort and one look at his rambunctious face will lead even the most hard hearted to fall immediately in love. Unfortunately, Bernie is a habitual liar. He claims to have invented helium and to be the first dog in space. This could be excused as mere senility or even eccentricity, but his lies are typically not so grandiose. Usually he just lies about whether or not he's been fed.

Name: Captain Courageous
Breed: Welsh Corgi
Favorite Song: "Yes! We Have No Bananas" from the musical Make It Snappy

Why He Doesn't Deserve to be Adopted: The good Captain will fool even the sharpest of dog lovers with his meek manner and his lovely pork choppish scent. Adopter beware, however! Captain Courageous is one of the laziest canines I've ever had the displeasure to meet. Though his resume suggests a great deal of experience in secretarial work, he will not take so much as a single page of dictation, even at a fair wage. If you like your dogs to be freeloaders, this is your guy. Otherwise, avoid.

Name: Roxy Fantabulous
Breed: Labrador/Great Dane mix
Favorite Insect: Pink Katydid

Why She Doesn't Deserve to be Adopted: Roxy has a number of traits typical of a dog. She likes to chill out and chew on a bone. She likes to go for long walks, stopping every few feet to release imaginary pee on unmarked patches of land. She even likes to watch television, particularly late night infomercials. Oh, and she likes to crush your dreams as quickly and efficiently as possible. What's that? Oh yeah, Roxy is our resident Debbie Downer. Let's say you're thinking of going back to school to become a dentist. Roxy will be there to remind you how hard the entrance exams are and how unwise it would be to take out student loans at this point in your life. Maybe you dream of asking out that gorgeous gal you see every Friday at Starbucks. Roxy will quickly let you know how unsuccessful this would likely be, considering your growing pot belly and undiagnosed skin condition. Sure to trample every aspiration until you settle in to your meager existence, Roxy Fantabulous should never be adopted.

Adopting the wrong dog is not only bad for you, bad for the dog, and bad for the planet, it actually sets our efforts back considerably. For the sake of all dogs everywhere, make sure you do some research before adopting a pet and don't reward bad dogs by giving them a loving home. They don't deserve it.

22 May 2010

The Fly and the Pig

The Fly and the Pig

One day, an angry fly was buzzing about outside a Red Lobster dumpster, looking for some rotting food within which to lay eggs. The fly was angry because hours earlier a homeless man had stolen most of the choice garbage, taking it home to his homeless family so they could eat one last day before succumbing to exposure. Incensed at this injustice, the fly alighted on the edge of the dumpster and rubbed its hands together furiously. A pig happened along and noticed the fly.

"What are you doing," the pig asked.

"I'm angry and I'm not to be trifled with," warned the fly.

"Why don't you tell me your problem so I can help you?" offered the pig.

"No, leave me alone, you don't know anything about the problems of a fly."

"Come on, I'm a friend and I'm very wise for a pig," he said graciously.

"Fine," the fly said.

The fly zoomed down and landed on the ground so it could speak to the pig more directly. Unbenownst to the fly, however, the pig hated flies and immediately crushed it under his hoof. A little bit of green fly guts squirted on to the side of the dumpster.

"And a merry ho-ho-ho," sang the pig as he went on his way.

Moral: Pigs are filthy, immoral creatures and should never be trusted under any circumstances.

20 May 2010

Bringin The Prayer

A few days ago, I was invited by my good friend Larry Whitson to have dinner with him and his family. Not realizing that he had also invited 30 of his friends from First Nazarene to the dinner as well, I gratefully accepted. Larry has had some hard times in his life over the past couple of years and I knew that letting him cook food for me would be in the spirit of giving generosity.

I arrived early, carrying a bottle of Publix Grape Soda. I handed the soda off to Larry's wife (who, frankly speaking, was not as appreciative of the gift as I might have hoped) and Larry and I retired to the "parlor" for a quick game of dominoes before dinner. It was when I caught him cheating for the third time that the other guests began arriving. I tried to hide my displeasure, but it wasn't easy. I have an intense dislike for large groups, especially in settings where I know I'm going to be expected to mingle. In fact, sitting there in front of our aborted game, I silently vowed that I would not speak to a single guest of the Whitsons.

My plan was somewhat foiled when, moments later, we all sat down to dinner. Because the Whitson dinner table sat only eight, the rest of the guests (including me) had to find various places to sit in the living room, the hallway, the kitchen, and even the back porch. More often than not, this meant sitting on the floor (which smelled not a little like cat urine). I was fortunate enough to grab a seat on Larry's recliner, which had suspicious looking brown spots on the lower back rest. I settled in with a glass of grape soda and a plateful of macaroni and cheese (which I assumed to be some sort of appetizer but later realized was the main course). That was when Larry did the unforgivable.

Rising from his seat at the head of the table, Larry welcomed all of his guests and then said, "Before we eat, I'd like to ask my good friend Shawn to lead us in prayer. Shawn?"

Every eye in the house turned to look at me. For a brief moment, I thought about throwing my plate of macaroni to the ground and making a mad dash from the house, screaming, "I'm on fire! I'm on fire!" I now believe I missed a golden opportunity in not doing so. People do crazier things all the time.

Knowing that any attempts to protest would be seen as sacrilegious God-hating by this swarm of elderly, stern-faced churchgoers, I stood up and decided to recite the one prayer I knew--The Lord's Prayer.

"Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name," I intoned, subconsciously adding a few layers of bass to my voice. This was going surprisingly well. I hadn't prayed in public since...well, it was quite possible that I had never done it before. Here I was making my debut in front of a tough crowd, with mac-and-cheese cooling on my plate, and it was going great.

Except I had already forgotten my lines.

Hallowed be thy name...hallowed be thy name. CRAP! What's next?

I felt a line of beaded sweat break out on my forehead as I struggled to remember the rest of the prayer. Silence drew out and though I steadfastly kept my eyes closed, it was not protection enough from the eyes I felt sure were slowly opening around the room, piercing me with their impatient glares. I had to improvise, and fast.

"The Lord is my shepherd, and lo shall I walk the path. The path of iniquities and forsooth."

Okay, you just used the word forsooth. Get it together, man!

"Rare is the bird that catches the morning worm. High is the pride of the fallen knight."

I heard two distinct throat-clearings and something that could have either been a stifled sneeze or a snort of laughter. I vowed never to attend First Nazarene Church, nor drive down the road where it was located (even though this meant I would have to take an extraordinary long route to get home on most weekdays).

"Thank you for the food of our nestled breast and deliver us from the harms of snakes."

"Be not angry with us and wind the clocks of our advancing age with trust and goodness. Umm, amen."

Though I had little experience with public prayer, I knew that it was customary for several others to echo the "amen" portion of the prayer. No one did on this day. I opened my eyes and was not surprised to see a vast sea of confusion among the guests. I thought about offering an explanation. I considered blaming my heathen ways on the tutelage of Reverend Frank Wilson, but I decided to just sit and eat my dinner instead.

Later that day I found a turtle in my mailbox, but I'm still not sure if that is in any way related.

18 May 2010

That Time I Wanted Tacos for Dinner

So it was just about a year ago when I decided I wanted tacos for dinner. Rather averse to subjecting myself to the flavors of Taco Bell, I chose to make them myself. I approached my wife and I said:

And she was like:

And so she left and about two hours later she came back and said:

And she handed me the meat and I examined it and was not pleased with what I saw:

And I made my feelings known:

And she was all:

But I was just like:

And so she's all:

But I'm still like:

And then she finally says:

Unfortunately, she was run over by an out-of-control rickshaw on her way back to the grocery store and died of internal injuries later than night. Instead of tacos, I had to settle for a bowl of Chef Boyardee Beefaroni. I'm still a little bitter about that to this day.

14 May 2010

The Perfect Post

Those in the blogging business know how difficult it can be to craft a good post. You have to think of an idea (or be inspired by one from an exterior source), but that's the easy part. From there, you have to spend time with that idea, working it this way and that like a Rubik's Cube, finding the angle that will serve the story best. It is an exhausting process, on par with tarring a roof or wrestling an alligator.

Protip: Go for the tail

Sometimes the process gets out of hand. On July 6th of 2009, I came up with the greatest idea in the history of blogging. Just the mere mention of the idea gave me chills. Murmuring the idea in my sleep was single-handedly responsible for several birds dying outside my bedroom window. One of them was an ultramarine lorikeet, one of the rarest birds in all of North America. Most unfortunate.

The problem? The idea was too good. I wrestled for hours on how to present it perfectly, giving it the perfect showcase that it so desperately deserved. Hours turned into days and days turned into weeks. I couldn't do it. I could not form the words that would give my idea justice. Better that it should go forever unwritten than for me to bring it to the blog in a manner unbefitting its glory.

I could have moved past it. I could have continued to throw up new blog posts unrelated to THE IDEA, but it all seemed so meaningless suddenly. Every time I turned on the computer I was reminded of my failure. To forget about it and return to business as usual would have been like craving a bowl of gourmet ice cream and then settling for a bowl of Grape Nuts. I don't like Grape Nuts. They tire my jaw.


With the benefit of time and reflection, however, I have finally come to terms with my regret. THE IDEA may never fully come to fruition, but the show must go on. With oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, Sarah Palin still enjoying inexplicable popularity, and Casey James disturbingly close to winning American Idol, America needs the Shark Tank more than ever. I can no longer neglect my task.

¡Viva la tiburón!