Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas to all...

It's a dark, dark time in our country's history. Everyone woke up this Christmas, walked past the tree they cut down from their neighbor's yard instead of bought and the presents re-gifted from the heady days of spending in '07, and picked up the paper or flicked on the news. The Grinches/anchors gleefully reported cheery headlines like these:

"'Worst is yet to come for retailers,' analysts say."
"Retailers' holiday sales plummet 4 percent"
"Retail sales down, even online"
"US holiday retail sales plunge amid recession"

So what if retailer's stocks are up and Amazon rocked it this year? The apocalypse is upon us. Americans stopped spending willy-nilly, Billy didn't get his Xbox 360, Suzy didn't get the entire 4-dozen collection of American Girl dolls, Dad didn't get his new S-Class and instead had to lease an Aveo. This season's hottest gift? A water purifier and a shotgun both purchased at Wal-Mart, so you can protect your things once droves of unemployed rioters start roaming the streets like packs of wild dogs (over-under of that happening is January 16th... and if you're in Detroit, it started in November).

In the immortal words of John Stossel's mustache, "Give me a break!"

Let's not let the Christmas season get ruined by dour predictions of doom and gloom in the stock markets. Don't feel guilty when you use your holiday bonus to pay of a credit card or pop it into a just-in-case savings account. This is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year—an opportunity to celebrate with family and friends—so don't ruin Christmas just because your 401k took a hit. Take the time off from work (if you're lucky enough to have it) and enjoy life for a second.

Hope your Christmas, New Year's, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Festivus all rocked. Merry Christmas!

(This public service announcement has been brought to you jointly by Prozac, United Auto Workers, and Lehman Bros.)

(Kidding... it's actually brought to you by my Charlie Brown Christmas Tree—pictured above—that Sonja and I cut down during last weekend's snow storm. Merry Christmas!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just a heads up... I've started to build a website for our upcoming wedding. It's up now at

Right now, it's nothing fantastic. But it's a website and I put it up all by myself (which is an accomplishment even though I used iWeb and "Made it on a Mac"). Let me know what you think and if you have any ideas for what else I can do with it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Quotes for writers...

Both of these were taken from a coming New York Times Book Review piece called "Bail out the Writers!" Definitely read that, if you're interested.

"But instead it got me thinking that there was a real problem here. Not just a small problem involving issues of respect between one writer and one teenager, but rather a national problem of respect where being a writer has become so widely associated with being a loser that we have become the stuff of common jokes." - Paul Greenberg

"Are you prepared for the years of effort, ‘the long defeat of doing nothing well’? As the years pass writing will not become any easier, the daily effort will grow harder to endure, those ‘powers of observation’ will become enfeebled; you will be judged, when you reach your 40s, by performance and not by promise." - Graham Greene

And, yet, we still plug away... some just do it better than others.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Christmas Reading...

My company held its annual holiday party last night, and the organizers asked me and a co-worker to do a reading at the end of the night. It actually was my first-ever reading and a ton of fun.

Each of wrote the "12 Days of Christmas" from their genders perspective. Here's what I came up with...

Sunday, December 14th –
12 days to go. I don’t have a gift. Probably should get one. But it’s a Sunday. They play football on Sundays. And, on Sundays, I eat pizza, chips and drink beer until I can’t bring another crust to my lips or raise the bottle in my hand. Since it’s a triple-header today, there will be no shopping for me.

Monday, December 15th – I know she wants something. And, if history is any proof, she probably dropped hints. But they’re never good enough! She mentioned something about a sweater and her size, I tried to remember it, but then I started thinking about meatball subs. Mmm… I love meatball subs. This other time, we were driving and I’m pretty sure she gazed longingly at a spa, but I forgot about it because I was trying to figure out my miles per gallon ratio. It’s so much better on the highways—I can do almost 31 versus 27 in the cities. Do you know how much money that saves? Let’s see… carry the four… It’s like 7.3 cents per mile!

Tuesday, December 16th– I’d go shopping, but ESPN’s showing a re-run of the 2008 World Series of Poker. I’m going to watch it because there’s nothing quite so awesome as a bunch of fat guys wearing sunglasses, struggling to breathe while they grunt bets and eat French fries in between hands. Nine shopping days left.

Wednesday, December 17th – I went to the mall today on my lunch break. No, really. I walked past stores and everything. It was exhausting and I built up an appetite, so I got lunch at Panda Express. Mmmm… orange chicken. Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!

Thursday, December 18th – Spent the evening examining the gifts under our tree, hoping that I’d put one underneath and completely forgot about buying it. It’s happened before. Hmm… let’s see… None of the gifts are wrapped in grocery bags and they all have coordinated bows. No way are those aren’t from me. I’m still on the hook. Wait a second—here’s one that looks just like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. My January just got completely booked up.

Friday, December 19th– That package indeed was the new Call of Duty. I opened it, took the disc out, rewrapped it and played the game all night. She’ll never know. Yawn. Now I'm too tired to shop. Six days to go; I’ve got time, right? Right?

Saturday, December 20th – Went to Home Depot to look for gifts. Tried to imagine the look on her face when I show her the sparkling-new snowblower parked in our driveway. Then, I thought better of it. Went to look at the circular saws instead and I found a sweet, red, 7 1/4-inch one that’ll always remind her of Christmas. Bought that instead of the snowblower. I am awesome.

Sunday, December 21st – Returned the saw. Called a work buddy of mine and said he bought the same model last year. She used it to slash his tires before threatening to take his jingle bells, too. Red must be a bad color or something.

Monday, December 22nd – Today’s the first day of Hanukkah. I put the menorah too close to the curtains and set them on fire. As the poly-cotton melted and black smoke filled the air, she berated me, “Eagle Scout, my butt!” I diplomatically reminded her that it was her idea to put the candles in the freaking window. Found myself locked out. Did you know it’s cold in the middle of December? Went back to Home Depot for a new fire extinguisher. Briefly thought about putting a green bow on the red tank and giving it to her, but I didn’t think she’d see the humor. Bought a set of lock picks, too.

Tuesday, December 23rd – Still no gift, but there’s time. I was all set to go shopping, but then I saw that TBS was running A Christmas Story marathon. Haha—he put the leg lamp in the window! Frah-gee-le is a city in Italy! A Red Rider BB-gun! This never gets old, no matter if I’ve seen it a dozen times. That day. In a row.

Wednesday, December 24th – It’s 7:30. The mall closes at 8 and it's an all-male crowd. We’re milling through the halls, like a group of elf-zombies. Winding in circles, looking at carts full of cheese and sausage, furry Crocs, 365-day cartoon calendars and over-sized novelty slippers, I got too close to the Dead Sea Beauty Products and the salesperson attacked me. Now my right-hand has been violently exfoliated and I’ve been talked into buying the bulk gift set—the one with the foot scrubber and some sort of imported mud in a jar. If I’d know I could’ve made my own beauty kit with a wire brush and a jar of dirt, I’d have done it. But it’s too late to get the brush—Home Depot closed at seven. I’m worried that the dirt I bought won’t be good enough, so I keep looking…

That’s Jared!

I go up to the glass counter, whip out a credit card and tell the guy to give me the best he’s got. He tells me the price. I swallow hard, pull out another card… and ask, "What’s on clearance?"

Thursday, December 25th – She’s crying. It’s the good kind, not the “you-got-me-a-crockpot-for-our-anniversary-kind.” Man, I’m good

Merry Christmas!