Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In Which I Might Become Amish

There is still no power at the BAG household. Estimates from the power company say we should have power back by Thursday night.

It's either that, or I go full-blown Amish. Beard, wide brimmed hat, everything. All my friends agree that I look good in black.

Monday, August 29, 2011

In Which I Have No Power

There will be no regular post today, thanks to Hurricane Irene. We've been without power since 2:30 yesterday, and I'm typing this on my phone. Oh, frabjous day.

I hope everyone else affected by Irene is doing okay.

Happy Monday folks.

Friday, August 26, 2011

In Which I Am Ashamed, Again

I've had this weighing on my mind for a while now, and I just can't take it any longer. It's like a dark cloud hovering over me, an oppression that keeps me from sleeping some nights for fear that my secret will inadvertently slip out of my mouth in mumbled tones. The amount of energy it takes to contain this is exhausting, and my endurance is wearing down, grinding on my sanity.

I haven't found a way to tell The Boss yet, but I know that I'm only hurting her by keeping this a secret for so long. I've made it a point to sit her down tonight and confess everything, and I'm hoping she'll take it well. I've never done anything like this before, and I know it's going to hurt her in so many ways to hear this, but for the sake of our marriage, I need to come clean. You see...

... I'm having an affair.

It started a couple of months ago.

When we first found each other online, I was intent on keeping our relationship platonic. After all, I am married, I am not a cheater, and I love my wife despite the fact that she punches me when I snore. We conversed via e-mail for a couple of weeks, and after a string of enticing conversations, we agreed to meet. I told myself that this would be a one-time thing, that I would satiate my emotional needs and be done with it. I meant for it to end there, but I didn't prove to be strong enough to do that.

I never expected to feel so good after being with her. I am ashamed to admit that I enjoyed the thrill of doing something I knew I wasn't supposed to do. We did nothing physical that first time, we just met up for drinks and light conversation. We spent a while staring at each other in silence, not sure of what to say. And yet, somehow, the act of just being near someone new made me crave more. There was this electricity... this spark in the air... I couldn't just let her go. Before we went our separate ways after our first rendezvous, I asked her if we could meet up again. She agreed.

We would meet up again four days later.

On that day, I waited impatiently for her to arrive at our arranged spot. The anticipation was like a drug, and when I finally saw her, her scent... that sweet, alluring scent... it was intoxicating. I couldn't keep my hands off of her, and she didn't resist. I tore into her, and she into me, until there was nothing left. When I finally pulled away, I was exhausted, but satisfied. My mind, swimming and hazy with bliss, raced with thousands of different thoughts and a thousand different emotions. A fair amount of time passed until I could make any sense of them, and when I finally did, my heart was heavy.

I knew what I was doing was wrong, but the connection I had with her was so strong! Each time we met she left me reeling. There was passion, there was energy, there was variety, there was suspense! It was new and exciting each time, and the more we saw of each other, the closer we became. Our visits ostensibly became more frequent, and consequently, more intense. I found myself lacking control over the situation, being fueled by a side of myself that I had never encountered before. There was no arguing with how I felt. I wanted her, I needed her, and there was not much the more sensible side of me could do to contest this.

We continued to see each other a couple times a week in similar fashion, for three months.

Once we were three months into our secret relationship, I began to notice a change with her. When we were together, her behavior would sometimes get erratic, almost unhealthy. This happened on more than one occasion, and while I put up with it at first, it put a strain on us. Her addictive appeal was now irreparably tarnished, and she sensed that. We agreed to take a break, but on that drive home, remembering that look in her eyes as we parted, I realized that we had, instead, mutually agreed that it was over.

The full extent of what I had done didn't hit me until I arrived at home that night. The shame was staggering, and I could barely stand to look at myself in the mirror. How could you do this? I constantly asked myself. I had worked up enough courage to talk to The Boss about it a dozen times after the affair was over, but could never bring myself to do it until now.

I feel I have the strength to tell The Boss about it now, because I received an e-mail from my other woman late in the night on New Year's Eve. It was apparent that she had been drinking, but even with her misspelled words and lack of punctuation, I realized she was right:
Deerr Michael
Itz ovurr beatween us Imm sorreey it had to ennd this way
Isle alwayz remembr u

I'll always remember you, too, Little Debbie.

Those three months of Fudge Round-Oatmeal Creme Pie-Swiss Roll-filled bliss were a great distraction and as close to Heaven on earth as I've ever been, but it had to end some time.

(Originally posted here.)

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In Which Something Else Entirely Comes to Mind

In an effort to save a few bucks on groceries recently, The Boss and I made a trip to Save-A-Lot. We don't usually go there because it's a bit out of our way, but the budget for that week was tight and we had to make it work. Fortunately, that made sticking to our grocery list a whole lot easier, so we were able to blaze through the store pretty quickly.

After grabbing a package of Creme Betweens (knock off Oreos, and yes, that's the real name for them), we found ourselves in the aisle that contained a lot of the household goods like toilet paper, cleaning products, and baby stuff. They had pretty good prices on level one baby food, so The Boss stopped and picked out a few. As she was making her selections, I saw these on a shelf below:

Call me crazy, but when I think of the word "steamy" in conjunction with babies, my first thought isn't a tasty dish of knock-off Spaghetti-O's. Especially not when cooked "homestyle". I guess I'll have to add this one to the list of other ill-advised food names that I've seen over the years.

I have to admit, though. Steamies is a better name for food than Clam Chowder Chewies.

Monday, August 22, 2011

In Which It Would Kind Of Make Sense

I wrote about my neighbors on the first floor of my building not too long ago, and how I thought they were hoarders. Since I wrote that post I haven't been able to catch a peek into their apartment for more than a second or two. Their hoarding behavior hasn't changed at all, but some recent developments and observations have made my opinion of them shift a little. 

The lady downstairs has a son. He is, in a word, obese. Their SUV has a special steering wheel that looks like it was taken from a golf cart, which I can only assume is so he can fit behind it in the driver's seat. I've only seen him a couple of times, once when he was shuffling down the hallway to the mailbox, and the other when he left in the SUV. I was cooking lunch on the grill on our second floor porch, and I watched him climb into the car and leave. He wasn't gone very long, but what he came back with is what made my thought pattern change.

He pulled from the back of the SUV two jugs of chemicals, a paper bag that was obviously heavy by the way he lifted it, and a stack of plastic seed trays. After looking over both shoulders cautiously, he grabbed everything and went inside. 

Perhaps I've watched a bit too much TV, but I don't think I'd be alone in mentioning the first thing that came to my mind. You know, the possibility that he's growing a certain something that is often used for medicinal purposes.

Maybe he's just trying to find a better way to grow tomatoes indoors. Maybe he's trying to kill his mother's plants. The things he bought could have been for a multitude of innocent purposes, but I instantly went with something in the completely opposite direction. If my suspicions are true, though, it would give better purpose to the repeated, short, late-night trips he takes in their SUV. We do live in a neighborhood frequented by the police, after all.

After writing about this, I have to wonder. If I think things like this about people I don't know, what do other people think about me?

Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, August 19, 2011

In Which I've Had the Training

I realized something yesterday. Becoming a parent gives you super powers.

Before I became a father, there was no possible way I could hear a small whimper from the other side of the apartment with the TV on, the air conditioner running, while standing at the sink running water. Now, though, I've got super advanced hearing capabilities. I swear I can hear Baby Badass crying before she's even thought of pulling air into her lungs to do so.

Previously, my quick-action reflexes were questionable at best (unless taco soup is involved). Bad enough where I could be looking at someone preparing to throw something at me, and then see them throw it, and still not be ready to catch or deflect said thrown object before it hits me in the face. Since the kid has been around I'm practically your friendly neighborhood Spiderman, whether it's catching pacifiers before they hit the ground or grabbing burp cloths when the spit up is in mid-air. It borders on pre-cognition, people. Impressive stuff.

Most importantly, I've become quite adept at walking very lightly. Walking around in our apartment, which is in an old building, the floor creaks just about everywhere. When you're dealing with a baby who is a light sleeper who is teething currently, waking the baby is a mortal sin. I've mapped out invisible grids in my mind where one can tread lightly and not make any noise at all, and developed my stealth walking skills to the point where I'm pretty sure I could sneak up on a ninja. This has been proved by scaring the bejeezus out of some people I work with. Not that I work with ninjas, but that I've come up behind them when it's been quiet in the building and they didn't hear me coming at all. That's probably because I hold my keys in my pocket so they don't jingle and I don't carry change in my pockets. The rest is all quiet shoes and roll-stepping. 

So, let's recap. Advanced hearing, pre-cognitive reflexes, and ninja-like stealth techniques. I'm no expert, but I'd say that qualifies in some realms as being superhuman. 

Now all I need is a disguise. 

Have a good weekend, everyone.

P.S. I've recently joined GoodReads to help with networking and promoting my book (available on Kindle here, and on the Nook here). If you're on GoodReads, add me as a friend!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In Which I'd Sleep With the Lights On

Goodwill is a great place to shop if you're looking for cheap books, good used clothing, and nightmares.

Those eyes. Ah, those eyes. Click on the images to see a high-res version, if you dare.

Sleep tight!

Monday, August 15, 2011

In Which I Highly Doubt It

We all know that serving size suggestions on food items are ridiculous. These gnome-sized portions are on everything from bottled water to candy bars, and are supposedly geared towards those who are on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Being the red-blooded, food-loving American that I am, I barely even notice the serving size suggestion on things anymore, unless I'm bored and the only thing around to read is the box or package the food came in. Other than that, it's just one more thing I am blissfully ignorant about, and that's the American way.

So there I was, a few nights ago, standing in the kitchen at the stove. I was heating up a pan to cook The Boss and I grilled cheese sandwiches. I grabbed the nearby canister of cooking spray, and let the pan have it. While capping the canister afterwards, I glanced at the serving size suggestion. I don't know truly what I was expecting, but this was a shock:

You read that right, folks. The serving size suggestion for this cooking spray is one quarter of a second. After seeing this, I have just one question: How is that humanly possible? Who has the finely tuned reflexes capable of squeezing the spray nozzle quickly enough to only actuate it for a fraction of a second? Is the nozzle even capable of such a quick release? And beyond all of that, who would actually think that the amount of cooking spray dispensed after one quarter of a second would be enough to make sure their food didn't stick to the pan?

It just baffles me how any company would think that to be an appropriate suggestion. Sure, I know the portions are skewed that way on purpose so the individual servings seem healthier than what they really are. I  just would love to see proof that any human is capable of dispensing exactly a one-quarter-second serving. I'm willing to be proven wrong.

Happy Monday, folks.

P.S. Anyone have the Barnes & Noble Nook for an e-reader? My short story book is now available for the Nook, too!

Friday, August 12, 2011

In Which I Thought I Got Shot

A few weeks back, The Boss and I thought that Baby Badass was starting to cut a few teeth. She was fussier than normal (which is to say that she was fussy to begin with, as she's usually not), so The Boss sent me a text message while I was at work to pick up some infant pain reliever and some stuff to numb the gums. After I got out of work I swung into my local CVS, and spent a good fifteen minutes looking at the variety of options available for purchase for both items.

Up until that moment, I had no idea there could be so many variations of the same product. From what I could tell it was all about the relative strength of the medication, and from there it was about the quantity of it. The prices were staggering, too. With CVS being more or less the convenience store for the neighborhood, I guess you pay for the convenience with this kind of stuff. When I finally decided what was the best to get, I made my way to the cashier, paid, and left the store.

Once I got back in my car, I buckled up and put the gearshift into reverse. Knowing that kids often speed around the parking lot on their bikes or skateboards, I looked around carefully as I backed up. Putting my car into drive, I eased on the gas and pulled away. I hadn't traveled more than five feet before I heard a loud, explosive POP.

I stopped immediately, thinking first that the noise was a gun shot. The store isn't in the best of neighborhoods, and given how startled I was, my mind just jumped to the extreme. After making sure I wasn't inflicted with a gunshot wound, my next thought was that maybe someone's car engine backfired. A quick check around the parking lot showed that the other cars in the area were all empty. The noise had sounded really close by, so my mind then went to the next option: A blown tire. I put my car into park and got out.

I immediately saw the cause of the noise when I looked at the driver's side front tire. Someone had dropped one of those massive energy drinks in the parking lot, and I had driven over it. Instead of rolling away, it got wedged against a small rock and burst under the weight of my car. There was an impressive spray of liquid on the ground, but my tire seemed fine. Covered in sticky, fragrant energy drink, but otherwise no worse for wear.

Driving away, I felt a bit silly for immediately thinking I had been shot. I don't think I'd be the only one who'd think that, though. I live in a city where, when you see a guy running down the street, your first thought is "He's running from the police!" instead of "Oh, look, a man getting exercise." 

Have a good weekend, everyone.

P.S. Thanks to those who have bought my book so far! Feel free to spread the word about it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In Which I Take the Plunge

I've finally done it.

After much thought, effort, and revision, I've finally put together a compilation of short stories and self-published it on Amazon. For those of you with Kindles, it's available right now in the Kindle shop. Click here to check it out, or click on the flashy new link on the sidebar to your right.

My book is called "Roadside Forgotten", and it's a compilation of some of the more recent short stories I've shared here and over at Fiction Five Hundred. I'm excited and nervous to have something out in the wild like this, but I've got tons of support from family, and tons of support from my readers here. I'm anxious to see how everything goes, and to see the response I get. 

If you don't have a Kindle and would still like to check it out, Amazon offers free Kindle apps for those with an iPhone, iPad, Android, or Blackberry, or even your PC or Mac computer. I'm not asking you to rush out and buy my book, but I think you'd all enjoy it. If you do happen to purchase the book, please take the time to leave your honest opinions on a review over at Amazon, and let me know if you come across any typos or formatting problems.

And finally, for those of you who like to judge a book by its cover, here you go:

I owe massive amounts of thanks to those of you who have been so incredibly supportive of my writing endeavors over the number of years I've been writing here, and for those who helped provide some much needed inspiration. Thank you very much!

P.S. For the inquiring minds, I took the photo that I used on the cover. I've driven by it for years and years, and it's the house I had in mind when writing one of the stories included in the book. I think you'll know which one I mean.

Monday, August 8, 2011

In Which I Formulate

I spent a good portion of my day on Sunday sitting in front of the TV and zoning out. I can't really recall exactly what I watched (other than Breaking Bad at night) other than the things that annoyed me. Specifically re-runs of The O.C. that The Boss was watching, and the seventeen different infomercials that aired over the course of the day.

After being yelled at ten or eleven times by the pushy voice-over announcer guy to Call Now and purchase under-the-bed shoe organizers or spice racks or weight loss supplements or do-it-yourself pedicure kits or some other random crap, I began to realize that most of these infomercials followed the same basic formula. I paid attention to the next few that aired to confirm my thoughts. Here are my findings:
  1. Come up with a "new" and/or "revolutionary" product that will make some simple, mundane task "easier", "hassle-free", involve "less clean up" or "less preparation", and reduce the time to perform the task by at least 50%. 
  2. Show multiple video clips of incredibly happy and overly excitable people using the product to show how amazing it is. Must have requisite shots of big, fake smiles, feigned surprise, and dramatic overacting at how amazing said product is.
  3. Hook the viewer by telling them that this product is available for a limited time only, but if they were to call Right That Moment, they could get their hands on their very own [Product Name] for a very small cost (plus shipping and handling). For more expensive items, break it down into three easy payments.
  4. Then, just when the viewer has their phone at the ready to call in and place their order, tell them that if they call in the next ten minutes, they can get a second [Product Name] absolutely free (just pay additional shipping and handling). For more expensive items, offer to reduce the number of monthly payments by one payment.
  5. Cut to the final screen where it recaps the amazing offer and its limited-time-only price, and the phone number to call to place an order. Repeat the phone number approximately nine times as quickly as possible.  
I've never bought something from an infomercial before, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen a new product being hawked on my TV when I actually thought it was an interesting item. If I truly thought it was worth buying, though, I'd just go to my local Walgreens and look in their "As Seen On TV" section. They've got everything from PedEgg's to Shake Weights

And just because I thought it'd be fun, I created my own mock-up for an infomercial product. Click on the image below for the hi-res version.

Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, August 5, 2011

In Which I'm Calling This One In

I'm exhausted, folks. It's been a hell of a week, and considering how things have been going, I'm lucky if I remember to put my underwear on straight each morning. I had a decent post lined up for today but I ran out of time to put it together the way I wanted to. So instead, you'll get a rehashing of an old post.


There has been this commercial on TV lately that begs just one simple question: Why?

Take a look:

A catchy tune, no?

So let's recap. According to this commercial, Dixie paper plates can handle the following types of foods without folding under pressure: Your Butteriest, Twirliest, Beefiest (yeah, yeah), Sturdiest, Sauciest, Gooeyest, Drippiest (hey, hey!), Messiest, Juiciest, Chunkiest, Steamiest, and your Heaviest. That's a lot to live up to, and quite frankly, it's a claim that should be thoroughly tested.

The last time I saw this commercial, I thought about how tragic it'd be if this ad was for a different kind of paper product other than paper plates. Let's say that this commercial was for toilet paper, for example. If all of the aforementioned adjectives were describing the kinds of... messes one could clean up with Dixie Ultra Toilet Paper, the song wouldn't be so clever and catchy now would it? No. Although a truly durable toilet paper has yet to be put on the market, a commercial making all of those claims for toilet paper would be quite nauseating.

And before you say it, you're welcome. Enjoy having that commercial stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In Which I Prove I'm Not a Robot

In the world of blogging, word verification prompts on comment forms are pretty much the standard. Spam is everywhere and exceedingly annoying (although sometimes funny), and it can really bog down your site. Most of us have come to accept it, resigned to enter in the nonsensical word generated by some computer algorithm to prove we're not robots in order to leave our witty comment or snarky reply.

Sometimes the verification words that are generated are more real words that just a jumble of letters. Over the past couple of years that I've been blogging, I've seen a few that have been quite hilarious. I've written about two of them before, and if you would call the smattering of screenshots I've put together a collection, these would be my two prized items.

First off is the epic awesomeness that is "Scrodo":

I first wrote about this one way back in February 2009, but it still makes me laugh. What first came to mind when I saw this was that this could be the stage name for a cut-rate porno actor. Scrodo Baggins would be perfect.

Up next is "Blinguin":

This one made me laugh so hard, I just had to make up a sketch of a bling'd out penguin. Because really, what else could that word mean?

I've grabbed a couple other screenshots over the passing months and years, but really the only truly good ones I have to share are letter combinations that are too perfect to be random.

Weenskin. I don't think I have to explain why this one is funny. It speaks for itself, really. Fleal, well, sounds like a fucked up version of veal, but instead it's flesh of humans as opposed to that of young cattle. This would probably (and hopefully) only sound appetizing to cannibals or zombies. 

Have you seen any CAPTCHA words like these?

Monday, August 1, 2011

In Which I Am Observant, Part Eleven

Have you ever noticed that the shortest checkout line is often times the one with the newest, inexperienced cashier?

Have you ever noticed that using your cell phone in the bathroom isn't gross when you do it, but when you see someone else doing it, you're a bit repulsed?

Have you ever noticed that waiting for a hispter to cross the road in front of you is one of the most annoying ever things to watch?

Have you ever noticed that motivation levels coincide with both temperature and whatever is on TV?

Have you ever noticed that books that are considered "classic" aren't always enjoyable to read?

No? Well, I have.

What have you noticed recently?

Happy Monday, folks.

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten)