Gearing Up for Black Friday 2012

Sure, I can sit back and order holiday gifts online. And, since I work for myself, I can wander my local stores in the middle of the week when most people are at work. But since watching scenes of  Black Friday on the news last night, I can’t help but feel that I’m missing out on the true meaning of the pre-holiday season – frenzied violence.

It may seem intimidating, but shouldn’t we all get into the spirit? If you’d like to join me in next year’s pre-holiday Frenzied Violence, I’m creating a training program to follow. It’s still a little sketchy, but here are the basics.

Book a trip to Spain for July 2012 to participate in the annual Running of the Bulls. Wear red, run fast and try not to be fatally gored.

Travel to Egypt and/or other hot locations of political unrest and do what the locals do – yell, scream, shove and test yourself against tear gas, tanks and rogue military action.

Participate in mixed martial arts tournaments.

Spend a weekend with Occupy Wall Street, fighting the 99 percent to find a clean public restroom.

Identify the U.S. city with the highest concentration of female teenagers. When the final installment of Twilight hits the theaters, travel to that location for the midnight premiere.

Identify the U.S. city with the highest concentration of pre-teen girls and attend a Justin Bieber concert.

Spend a family vacation with the Real Housewives of New Jersey.

Alright – so who’s on board?  Anyone?  Hello…


What’s with the pepper spray lately? First, campus police at the University of  California, Davis, mega-sprayed students who sitting in peaceful protest. Those images have now been photoshopped into all sorts of interesting settings – check this out, funny and not funny at the same time In response, a Fox news anchor described pepper spray as just a food product (yum). I’m thinking of spritzing some on my turkey leftovers later.

This morning I read that an enraged Black Thursday Walmart shopper in California peppered sprayed other customers who were pushing and shoving in line. Fifteen people were hurt, but the sprayer has not yet been caught. Hmmm, just imagine how a little bit of pepper spray could cut your waiting time in line at the DMV…


Are there any motorcycle riders out there? Can anyone enlighten me about some motorcycle-related confusion I’m experiencing?  Every now and then, I see a motorcycle where the handle bars are way up high. The rider has to stretch his (and it’s always a “he”) arms way above his head to reach them. What’s the deal with that? It looks like it would be tremendously uncomfortable. It reminds me of little kids riding the classic Big Wheel toy. Could it be that these men never got Big Wheels when they were kids?

Last week, I was driving down the highway behind a motorcycle that had a gigantically fat back wheel. It looked sort of like an over-inflated inner tube. What’s the point of that? Does one need an emergency flotation device when riding a motorcycle?


A few weeks ago, I wrote a tribute to Evel Knievel’s mom, prompted by my 18 year old son flying over the handlebars of his bike and spraining his wrist. Well, son is now home for Thanksgiving break and he brought along his bike, which needed some serious medical intervention itself. The guy at the bike shop said that in his many years in the bike business, he had never seen someone break the front fork on a bike. After the repairs were made ($200+), he handed the cracked and bent fork back to my son and suggested he keep it as a trophy. Thanks a lot, bike guy, for turning what should be a lesson in being more careful into some great accomplishment to brag about.

Muffin Justice

Periodically I have the privilege of spending a few hours at my local county courthouse, along with many of my fellow citizens. Going to court is mostly about waiting, so if you fail to bring a good book to read, people watching is the next best way to pass the time.

The other day, bookless and bored, I began to notice an unusual prevalence of people dressed in such a way as to emphasize their muffin-toppedness. Almost anyone can achieve the muffin top look, regardless of their size or shape, by making sure the waistband of their pants, shorts or skirt squeezes their middle enough to create waistband overflow.

Certainly, the rural community in which I live is not a mecca for the well dressed, but this phenomenon seemed to cross all boundaries of fashion, socioeconomic status and professions. The majority of the court’s “patrons” were dressed in some variation of jeans and a tee shirt. They achieved the muffin top look by wearing low-cut jeans at least two sizes too small, allowing the entire belly area complete freedom from constriction. The results ranged from the small belly pooch to the giant beer belly hanging down to fully eclipse the front crotch area of the jeans.

There were some lawyers and other professionals in the mix who achieved the muffin top look in a similar fashion, only with different clothing. One slim woman was stylishly dressed in nice black Capri pants, the low-rise of the pants emphasized by a four inch wide bright red belt and tight gray sweater. From the front and back, she looked nice, from the side, a bit muffinesque.

As for the male lawyers, it appeared that many of them achieved their muffin top look by wearing the same suit pants that they bought when they graduated law school many years earlier. Now, having bulked up from years of lifting heavy case files, their bellies are straining at the pants, with only a belt standing between them and freedom (or catastrophe, depending on your point of view). With the help of heavy belts weighed down with guns, handcuffs, and all sorts of other intimidating accessories, the law enforcement officers did a fantastic job of creating the muffin top look.

Interestingly, the only people who were not sporting muffin tops were the judges, who were wearing long black robes, and those individuals who were guests of the county detention center, who were wearing bright orange jumpsuits.

I’m so embarrassed. I can only imagine that at this very moment, someone from the court crowd is blogging about the clueless woman who showed up for court without a proper muffin top.  Had I known there was a new Muffin Justice dress code, I assure you I would have dressed accordingly.


The End of Nice

If you live in the tri-state area I must warn you, if you see my sister out anywhere, you had better be nice to her. I don’t say this for her benefit, I’m saying it for YOUR benefit. Why? Because if you choose not to be nice to her, the consequences may be ugly.

I was talking to her on the phone yesterday and she was relaying several recent incidents where people were unnecessarily rude, inconsiderate or worse. In the face of such treatment, she broke out of niceness and confronted the jerk-faces head on. “That’s it,” she stated, “I am done being nice to people who treat me badly.”

She was telling me this as she sat in her car in the parking lot of  Shop Rite. Another driver pulled up to wait for her parking spot, mistakenly assuming that she was about to leave when in fact she had just arrived. After a few minutes, she got out of the car so that the other driver would understand that the spot was not about to become available. Okay, maybe that was a little bit nice of her. She continued to talk about the end of niceness as she pushed her cart through the aisles. She stopped to warmly greet a friend in the produce section. Yeah, that was pretty nice too, but don’t let that fool you. If you cross the line, she will take you down, she will be un-nice.

Oh, you better watch out…

Brickulus Immobilus, Part 2

For all of you who’ve expressed your concern, waved your twigs and chanted “BRICKULUS IMMOBILUS” this week in support of Wanda, our giant brick retaining wall who is undergoing major surgery, we sincerely thank you.

An update. It appears that the major portion of the surgery on Wanda is complete and the team has turned its attention to excavating our driveway sinkhole. Though Wanda is somewhat reluctant to show the scars from her surgery, she is allowing me to post these photos in the hopes that other deteriorating retaining walls will gain strength and comfort.

Finally, let me share some startling observations. The team who has been working on Wanda this week arrived bright and early every day, worked diligently each day until it was too dark to continue, and did not stand around for long periods of time acting as if they were being paid to lean against the house and smoke cigarettes, nor does it appear that they are taking any shortcuts on the project. They are working as neatly as possible and cleaning up as they go along. Pretty amazing, huh?



Brickulus Immobilus!

Stressed out Wanda

Meet our giant brick retaining wall. Let’s call her Wanda. Wanda’s job is to hold up our driveway, which is on the other side of her, way up near the top. During the past couple of years, it’s come to our attention that Wanda has been under a lot of pressure from water that gets trapped behind her. She started leaning, ever so slightly. I tried hard to pretend that it was just an optical illusion, but the leaning became more pronounced. I tried standing in the backyard, waving a twig at her and shouting, “BRICKULUS IMMOBILUS!” She continued to lean and began to crack under the pressure, while the driveway developed certain unattractive sinkhole-like qualities.

The sinkhole, formerly known as the driveway.

We called in a parade of “experts” with a host of possible solutions to Wanda’s stress problem. If Wanda were a college student, the cost of any one of these solutions would cover a nice chunk of her tuition. As far as I know, she’s not eligible for any scholarships.

Solution 1, the “Hyundai Approach:” Dump a mountain of dirt in front of Wanda, so that no matter how much stress she feels from the other side, she is simply unable to move any further.

Solution 2, the “Toyota Approach:” Drill enormous holes through Wanda to a depth of 30 feet, at which point the expert expects to hit stable dirt or rock. Insert massive spikes (“soil nails”) and some cement-like stuff that spreads out and anchors the spikes.

Solution 3, the “Lexus Approach:” Take down the top 6 feet of Wanda’s bricks and build a new wall in front of her from blocks of something-or-other that allow water to flow right through them, thus alleviating the source of Wanda’s stress.

Solution 4, the “Porsche Approach:” Completely dismantle Wanda and replace her with a brand new wall made from those blocks of something-or-other that lets water flow right through them.

After considering the pros and the myriad cons, we agreed that we liked the Lexus Approach the best since it would solve the problem and be aesthetically pleasing. We also agreed that the results of the Lexus Approach did not justify the cost, so we’re going Toyota.

Work begins today. I anticipate it will be loud and messy and carry the potential for unforeseen consequences. Updates to follow. In the meantime, if you have a more powerful twig than I do, I’d appreciate you waving it around and chanting “BRICKULUS IMMOBILUS” periodically for the next couple of weeks.


A Tribute to Evel Knievel’s Mom

Parents everywhere, but especially moms, do a whole lot of worrying about their babies. Like Kim, who recently endured the agony of her son’s broken ankle and the double-agony of having a hard time getting a doctor to see the poor kid, and Carla, who tells me that her kids are held together by a lifetime of stitches and she’s afraid to pull a single hair for fear they will unravel. Then there’s me – as of yesterday, I’ve officially lost count of how many times during his 18 years my son has flown over the handlebars of things with wheels and hurt himself. (Note: this time it’s only a sprained wrist. No stitches, no broken bones, no concussion. Wooo!)

In the scheme of things, a few sprains, broken bones and stitches are just par for the course and not such a big deal, though it certainly FEELS like a big deal. So, I started to think about other moms, like Evel Knievel’s mom, Harry Houdini’s mom, Christopher Columbus’ mom. Imagine their agony! How did they handle the constant stress of worrying about their babies? Did they drink? Were they heavily medicated? Perhaps they (mercifully?) died young and didn’t even know what their kids were up to.

Regardless, I hereby dedicate this blog post to moms everywhere, as embodied by Evel Knievel’s mom. For all the worry, the anxiety, the stress, the unpleasant post-adrenaline rush shakes, the hours spent in ER waiting rooms, and the constant tension between wanting to hug your little warrior and wanting to smack him for scaring you yet again. Moms, while you may feel like mush, you’re rock solid.

Alright then, who wants to meet me downtown for a mid-morning cocktail?