Thursday, July 31, 2008

The WMD of the baby world

We have the Baby Einstein Baby Beethoven DVD and we use it as a baby WMD (weapon of mass distraction) when we can't get Tate to chill out and all other traditional methods have failed (food, diaper change, books, toys, general lovin', etc.). So far, it has a 100% success rate. Pop it in, turn up the surround sound, and bang -- instant catharsis.

It's amazing how the BE stuff just hypnotizes kids. The first time I saw it happen was with my brother's kids. He and his wife went out and left Jenny and I alone with his 3- or 4-year-old girl and baby boy. They gave us instructions that if the kids get rowdy, try this, this, and this -- then, only if they get really crazy, should you go to the Baby Einstein tape.

We lasted about 30 minutes before putting in the tape, and it was like something out of the twilight zone. The kids just froze, staring at the screen. They stayed that way for more than an hour, until their parents got back.

It worked so well that Jenny and I became paranoid about Baby Einstein videos, and that paranoia has lasted to this day. That's why Baby Einstein DVDs are the WMDs of the baby world -- they should be used with extreme discretion and only when all measures of diplomacy have failed.

Besides, if there was ever a better way to secretly insert programmed messages into a new generation of consumers (you love Mickey Mouse, you will only watch shows on ABC, you think the ESPYs are legitimate, you need every Disney movie on high-def DVD, kill your parents) I can't think of it.

We just got to talking about baby toys this morning so I thought I'd share. Incidentally, we also all agreed that it would be cool to get high while watching a Baby Einstein DVD. Not that we would ever do such a thing, but, you know, it might have been fun to do in another life.

Maybe it was just me who said that.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I am a napkin-using m-f'er

I just realized that used about 14 napkins while eating a cup of soup and a chick-fil-a sandwich.

I didn't even spill anything.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My son will not be a Cowboys fan

He may be a Rangers fan.
He may be a Stars fan.
He may be a Mavs fan.

But he's either going to be a Giants fan, a Saints fan, or take violin lessons.

I have spent a lifetime hating the Dallas Cowboys, and I see no reason to stop hating them now that I live here, or now that I have a kid. I intend to pass along this hatred to the next generation.

In fact, living here has only increased my resolve, because I have to read and hear all the whining about how your team only won 13 games last year and hasn't won a Super Bowl in a whole decade and who your 1-in-a-bazillion quarterback is dating.

The sense of entitlement here is unmatched in pro football, and eclipsed only by Yankees fans in all of pro sports. Damn you, Cowboys. Damn you and your billion dollar stadium, and your 5 Super Bowl titles, your Hall-of-Famers and your .573 all-time winning percentage.

You will not get my son. Not ever.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Texas is growing on me

It feels odd to see that headline, knowing that I wrote it and that it is, by and large, accurate.

I'm writing this because I remember feeling happy to be coming back to Texas after our recent trip -- something I've never felt about another state. When I realized this, I felt guilty. It was like I was cheating on Mississippi.

I still dearly love Mississippi and can be fiercely defensive about it, but I also recognize that it isn't the place I once imagined. Remember when you first realized that your parents weren't perfect? And I don't mean when you were a teenager, I mean when you were an adult. I've been feeling that way about my home state for almost a year now. It's no fun.

But I digress...

Texas, I have observed, has a positive, can-do attitude. That's sort of the opposite of what I've been used to growing up in a hard-luck state that for most of my lifetime has had more of an if-anything-can-go-wrong-it-will-so-why-bother attitude.

It helps immensely that Texas is, by Mississippi standards at least, rolling in money. I offer your jumbo-tron'd, multi-tiered, multicolored cathedrals you call high school football stadiums as exhibit A. I remember my first trip to Texas with my would-be bride and seeing one of those stadiums looming on the horizon.

"What college is that?" I asked.
"Um, that's Pennington Field."
"Pennington Field? Who plays there, a Division II school?"
"No, Bedford High School."
"Holy shit."

Only I didn't say holy shit. I just thought it. Later in that same visit, I read in the paper that Grapevine High had just gotten approval for $3 million to paint the field with school colors. $3 million. To paint a football field. That was more than the entire annual budget for my high school in Mississippi, and several times the annual budgets of poorer school districts in the Delta.

So yeah, maybe our attitude in Mississippi would be better if we had that kind of money. I'm not bitter or anything, I'm just sayin'.

But there's more to my appreciation of Texas than that.
Texas expects to win. Texas doesn't settle. Still, Texans are mostly easy-going and quick to make strangers feel welcome. Texans are casual -- sometimes to the point of absurdity (Cattle Baron's Ball, anyone?) -- which I have really come to appreciate, since I hate wearing suits. Texans also make inspired fast food workers, which, again, is quite the opposite of my home state.

These are just some of my observations after about 18 months. I have lots of others, but this post is getting too long and they can wait.

Besides, it's not like Texas needs me to pump it up -- the state pride thing can be really obnoxious. I mean, maybe they do make better margaritas here; that doesn't mean you have to go on and on and on about it when you're visiting other states. We get it.

I'm getting it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Road Trip Observation No.1

I just finished a road trip to Mississippi. It's about a 7 1/2 hour drive, which, conveniently, is almost the precise limit that a 9-month-old will tolerate sitting in the same seat before a complete meltdown.
Seriously, if the drive were 1/2 an hour longer, we would have to split it into two days.

But that's not Road Trip Observation No. 1. 

RTO1 is this:
Not all assholes drive pickup trucks on the highway, but all pickup truck drivers on the highway are assholes.
 - RTO1 addendum: This goes double for Dodge truck drivers.

That's all I'm going to post about this trip because I don't want to take any of the fun away from Mrs. Tomfoolery, who is planing an extended review of the Big Trip to Mississippi 2008 in the family blog.  See ya tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The All-Star Game: I love America, but...

...are we ever going to get back to just singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch of the All-Star game? I miss it.

Look, I love America as much as the next guy. I actually joined the navy and served my country. But I don't want to have the patriot police jamming "God Bless America" down my throat anymore. The first time they sang it after 9/11 was fine, but now it just irritates me.

Are we that insecure?

Let's just get back to baseball. It's supposed to be a game, not a reaffirmation.

How bad has crime gotten in Dallas?

A dude tried to rob a pizza place where his daughter worked. Apparently, her whole family was in on the gig except her.

For those of you who don't live here, here's the item from today's Dallas Morning News that started out as a tale of employee heroism but then took a turn for the bizarre.

We recently tried to cancel the DMN, or at least scale it back to a Sunday-only delivery, but discovered that canceling your subscription is kind of like trying to get out of the mafia. We may have to move.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The case for the modest affirmative

Today I was responding to an email from a coworker with the standard "Thanks", except that I wanted her to know I wasn't mad or displeased with the information she had provided me, so I took the very unusual step (for me) of adding an exclamation point: "Thanks!"

Unfortunately, that just confused her. She wrote me back and asked if I was being passive-aggressive.

No, I told her, I was trying to imply the modest affirmative, which is employed when you want to sound appropriately positive, but not inappropriately excited. It's also an official-sounding term I just made up. Sadly, there are no punctuation marks for modest affirmatives (or modest negatives), so in her case I had to go with the "!".

But I think there should be such a mark. Maybe a '^' with a period under it for modest affirmative or an upside down '^' with a period under it for a modest negative (I can't show the mark because it can't be made on a keyboard -- you'll have to draw it on a piece of paper, but it's worth it).

Of course, one may argue that we already have such a punctuation mark: The smiley. :)
Except the smiley (et al) is kinda gay. I almost never use smileys. And, since I rarely use exclamation points, I have earned a reputation at work as a sort of humorless, email curmudgeon.

But then, who cares what those bastards think?

The modest affirmative mark would take care of that, because it's a more formal mark -- suitable for straight men and mature women. Think George Clooney has ever sent an email with a freaking smiley on it? Think Margaret Thatcher would? Not a chance.

This mark would be for them. And me.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Why I hate Grey's Anatomy

I hate Grey's Anatomy for a lot of reasons, but not the most obvious reasons that most people seem to list when they talk about hating that show. 

For instance, the lead character, Grey, doesn't bother me as much as she seems to bother women in general and my wife in particular. She's whiny and selfish, ordinary-looking and not terribly interesting, which is unusual for a lead character but sort of refreshingly realistic, if you ask me.

Actually, I hate several shows, except that they are all the same show.

48 hours later...
I'm going to have to write more quickly and organize my thoughts better, I'm learning. With an 8 1/2-month-old kid in the house and wife who gets better at making up excuses to kick me off the computer every time I'm on it, I'm learning that to effectively maintain a blog, one cannot plod along thinking up Faulkneresque expressions and newspaper-ready copy.

If you have something to say, say it, cause you never know when Tate's going blow his diaper off or Jenny is going to ask me to find something that she's intentionally hidden.  So here it is.

Grey's Anatomy sucks because I hate shows with narration, music montages and lots of coffee shop white people songs in the background. It's like the producers are admitting that the acting and writing alone can't carry the show. Maybe they're right. I don't know. I just hate it.

It all freaking started with Ally McBeal, which at least had the virtue of being original at the time. I hated that show because they always wound up at that bar with that loudmouth house band chick who must been screwing one of the executives at Fox because there is no other explanation for why her no-talent ass and her bad Edie Brickell-wannabe songs would be featured so prominently. I feel sorry for that executive. 

Other shows that have followed the same basic format, give or take a feature, include(d):
  • Alias
  • ER
  • My Name is Earl
  • Sex and The City
  • Dirty Sexy Money
  • Eli Stone
  • Boston Legal
  • Party of 5
  • Ugly Betty
  • The Wonder Years
If you think of any more, let me know. I don't watch a lot of television that isn't news or sports, so I'm sure there are tons of others out there. ABC is clearly the worst offender, and now that I think of it, The Wonder Years may have been the true original. At least it didn't have that awful chick singing her awful songs at the end of each show. The Wonder Years actually had some good 60s and 70s music in it and was cool until all the kids grew up.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Well, it took my wife about 2 hours, but somehow she got the link to my family blog taken off the menu at the right. So my anonymity could be preserved.


I like the idea of standing by what you say. I used to hate it when people sent me anonymous letters to the editor when I was in college. It's just cowardly. It takes no thought, no guts.
So we'll keep the format.

Rest assured that everything I write I given serious thought to, or at least wondered about from time to time.


The best laid plans

Well, I went to all this trouble to create this awesome blog.

It was going to be my escape portal. A place where I could vent. I would say whatever I wanted to say about anything, no matter how offensive, abrasive, over-the-top or politically incorrect -- all under the comfortable veil of Internet anonymity.

Dammit, I hate Grey's Anatomy. Hate it. More on that later.

Anyway, I dreamed of taking on hot-button issues and blasting away conventional mores with my in-your-face anecdotes and hell-if-I-care
attitude. It was going to be great, I tell you. I was going to be famous.

Then, my wife (that's her) logged on while I was in the middle of making this and somehow connected our family's blog to this site, so that any boob with a computer can look at me, her, my kid, my friends, my house, my car -- pretty much everything about me except my shoe size.

So what was going to be a filthy, razor-edged, swampy editorial biohazard is going to have to be something else entirely, because my real name is going to be linked to everything I post and I'm too fed up to make up a whole new fake identity on Gmail.

I wear a size 10 1/2, by the way.