Island Packet — I casually mentioned to a friend last week that I’d made my son waffles and bacon for breakfast that morning. I also casually mentioned that I’d done it a few days before, and a few days before that, and probably a few times the previous week as well. My older son does not have an adventuresome palate, so when his dad finds something the boy will eat that doesn’t originate from exhaust-belching factory machinery with the words “VAT OF NUGGETS” on it, he sticks relentlessly with what works. So, sure, I said, waffles and bacon. Get some OJ, throw some fruit out there, breakfast of champions. Let’s get this kid to third grade.
But my news seemed to come as a solid surprise, like, wait, you make him waffles and bacon? Every day? Sure, I replied, feeling really pretty jaunty about myself and my breakfast-related fathering, given all this sudden affirmation and everything.
Well, obviously, this was a bit of a communication breakdown. It took me a few minutes to realize she was talking about actual waffles and actual bacon, while I was talking about something different — namely waffles that can be waffled in a toaster and come from Sam’s Club in a box of 35,000, and precooked bacon that can be re-cooked in a microwave and come from Sam’s Club in a box of 47,000.
Island Packet — First, the good news: The 9-year-old loves books. Always with the books. He’s a big reader — at bedtime, in the backseat and at the breakfast table, which is why many of his favorites are frequently drenched in syrup. There are certainly worse things to be into, such as firecrackers or the Disney Channel or almost literally anything else, so I understand that complaining that your kid reads too much is a little like whining how you can’t get him to put the carrots down long enough to shovel a Baconator in there.
But the problem isn’t that he’s reading too much, it’s that his current favorites — a series of adventures starring a mouse in some sort of mystical dragonworld — are, to borrow a phrase from the world of literary criticism, rhinoceros poop.
These are such terrible books. They have terrible titles and terrible art, and they use terrible words. They have no discernible storyline, characters arrive and vanish for no reason (one turtle just up and leaves, which is odd, as turtles aren’t known for their speedy departures) and each chapter is about two pages long. Read more.
This thrilling-looking excitementfest is what it’s keeping my son up late at night.
Island Packet — For going on nine years, the video game situation in our house has been happily deplorable.
By “deplorable,” I mean we don’t have video games. We are sans Wii. There is no Xbox here, no PlayStation. One time a friend brought over some device that you control by hopping around your living room like a hysterical lunatic, which wasn’t something I could see doing regularly. Somewhere in the attic there’s an ancient blow-on-the-cartridge-era Nintendo, which essentially represents the precise moment my video game evolution came to an end. And that’s it for video games. Somewhere, we are being pitied by the Amish.
Yet it’s hard for me to stand atop Hippie Mountain and say, “The scourge of video games shall not touch this castle!,” because in place of the Xbox, we’ve become obsessed with something called Minecraft. And apparently if you are the parent of a boy between the ages of 3 and 18, there’s a solid chance you just went, “Oh my God yeah, Minecraft!” — especially if you’re the kind of person who talks to your computer a lot. Read more.
This image contains coded patterns which mystically herald the coming of the Apocalypse or some crap.
Island Packet (Stolen Hastily From November 2009) — ‘What do you think about this 2012 madness?” Paul Mitchell asks me via the newsroom’s instant-message system earlier this week. Paul Mitchell is a line of high-end hair care products, but he also is an actual human person who works in the newsroom. At one time Paul, being of a considerably younger vintage, failed to correctly identify Bruce Springsteen on the television. Illogically, we’re friends anyway.
The movie looks like silliness, I reply, but on the other hand, “Independence Day” was a pretty great movie in which many objects were indiscriminately exploded, such as the White House and Lone Star from “Spaceballs,” so it might be fun.
“Not the movie,” Paul says, an icy fear creeping noticeably into his online voice. “All I gotta say is I’m panicking if that mess comes my way in three years.”
Paul was, I surmised, referring to the Mayan prophecy that says the end of times will take place in the year 2012. It’s also the hook of “2012,” a new movie by destroyed-landmark fetishist and director Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) that stars John Cusack, both of whom, it turns out, appear in a strong percentage of Mayan prophecies. In their lore, Cusack is actually immortal.
McClatchy/Tribune – I am not a very good-looking woman, which I think is the primary reason I’m having trouble coming up with a decent Halloween costume this year. (It’s also the main reason I kept getting turned down for sororities, not that I’m still bitter about that, stupid Zeta Tau Alpha, I hate you so much.)
Indeed, if you have visited any costume stores lately, you might have noticed that they look less like costume stores and more like places that Britney Spears might shop, if she could stay sober long enough to park the car. Costume stores these days feature an irrationally large percentage of rack space devoted entirely to Sexy versions of average things: Sexy Nurse, Sexy Doctor, Sexy Soccer Player, Naughty Navigator, Sexy Mountie, Support Our Troops Sexy Adult (really), Sexy Wilma Flintstone (I can send you the link to these if you want). One newsroom staffer reported stumbling across a costume for a Sexy Cab Driver, which is, of course, something that has never happened in the history of the human experience. (However, if it does happen, I suggest immediately that we cancel Halloween and institute National I Found A Sexy Cab Driver Day, which we could commemorate by briefly increasing the national speed limit to 200 mph and growing splendid beards.)
Probably don’t so much want to play the Grand Prize Game with these people
Island Packet- Everybody loves a clown, except me, because I hate them, hate them with an intractable hate, an icy and all-consuming hate, a hate that’s so hateful it’s gorgeous, because all clowns are bone-chilling, spine-curdling, bone-curdling, fake flower-squirting, red-nosed, be-wigged messengers of hideous demon-terror. And I’m not just saying that because of the recurring nightmares I’ve been having since what years of therapy have determined to be around the age of 4, but then again, I probably am. For when they would haunt my sleep, the clowns would mostly chase me across a desolate, bone-dry landscape, one filled with brush and tumbleweeds and Sergio Leone camera crews; I tried in vain to run away, but they were relentless, cackling horrifically on their unicycles and popping up from behind cactus after cactus after cactus. This went on for years, pretty much until the nightmares with the Incredible Hulk began, but this is probably oversharing now, as well as a startlingly long intro paragraph.
For the most part, I don’t like to overgeneralize about things I disapprove of, except Fox News anchors and country music, but I feel comfortable saying that clowns should be avoided at all costs; in fact I have endeavored to keep my young son, for instance, away from them for as long as possible. Seriously, if he came up to me right now and said, “Dad, can I have a clown birthday party?” or “Dad, can you buy me a carton of cigarettes?” my only question would involve his preferred level of filtering.
Multiple campaign signs make this average lawn shine with class and charm.
Island Packet — Just throwing this out there, just spitballing, just doing a little brainstorming — because that’s what I do when it gets humid and heavy enough to make the birds literally bang on my window with their beaks and plead for death — but if we here in Beaufort County have rules, guidelines, codes, covenants, unspoken laws, unbreakable vows and sternly worded press releases regarding things that can and cannot besmirch our greenosphere, is there some reason we allow official-sounding political types to acne up our landscape with cheap-looking red-and-white-block-lettering campaigny signs?
I realize that the balance of this column will result in my sounding the very oldest I have in my life, except for that one time I handwrote a complaint letter to Andy Rooney because he made fun of Gene Krupa, but to that I say: “Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!” Because it stands to reason that if I cannot successfully locate a grocery mart after nightfall without knowing my precise longitude — which, thanks to my iPhone is no longer a problem but I’m still sniffly about this — if I can’t enjoy the calming glow of the average American streetlight, if I can’t go for a lousy evening run around my stately, verdant neighborhood without wearing a coal miner-style headlamp because of the constant threat of stepping on, around, or into an alligator in the pitch-blackness, I should not have to be reminded, upon venturing out for coffee, who is running for governor. (Incidentally, it’s blogger-affair lady and some other people.)
Tinkerbell pauses on a mirror to address her pathological body-image issues.
Island Packet — So I have a 3-year-old son who is scared to death of Tinkerbell.
This, on its surface, is not a bad nor even surprising thing, because I discovered something recently while watching “Peter Pan”: Tinkerbell is a jerk. She’s jealous, she’s petty, she’s got irrational body image issues and she’s consistently mean to the Darling children, even the dippy one with the top hat. I’ll be honest: When my son started saying, “She scares me, Daddy,” I thought, “You know what, son? Six-inch-tall bioluminescent faeries with unexplained powers and vengeful attitudes scare me too.”
Still, having a 3-year-old son who is frightened of Tinkerbell — or anyone involved in “Peter Pan,” which on the whole is about as scary as a high schoolnewspaper class — is not something you exactly run around the playground sharing with the other fathers, particularly if they’re throwing a football around.
I bring this up partly because at some point in the distant future I plan to use my son’s fear of Tinkerbell to get him back for some adolescent transgression involving cigarettes or a fire alarm, but also because his fear of winged blondes stands in direct contrast to things he is not afraid of in “Peter Pan,” which is the latest Movie We Watch So Frequently That Exposure To The DVD Laser Will Soon Cause The Disc To Burst Forth In Glorious Combustion, which will make him extremely displeased but probably sound really cool. (Let me amend that: We watch the first half of “Peter Pan.” And then we stop and watch it again. We are apparently only allowed to watch the first 40 minutes. Honestly, I have no idea how this movie ends. One night, after he’s asleep, at 3 a.m., I’m going to sneak into the living room and watch the end of “Peter Pan,” like a common criminal.)
Whatever, Flintstone, my kid thought of this idea before you did, and he's only 6
Island Packet — Not to be the indigestible kind of overbearing, obnoxious screaming-on-the-soccer-sidelines father dude, but I have to report that my 6-year-old is a genius. But he is not a genius in the traditional sense — he cannot, for instance, perform a full piano concerto (he can only make it like halfway through Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” which is kind of embarrassing), and he can’t complete major surgeries or anything (OK, he did that partial knee replacement one time, but to be fair he was looking at Wikipedia).
What he has done is revolutionize breakfast, via his most recent invention: Cocoa Pebbles And Fruity Pebbles Mixed Up Together In One Bowl And Eaten Without Milk.
I am going to pause so you can drive to the nearest Grocery Mart, screaming and with your arms flailing wildly over your head if you have a large enough car, to purchase or steal (whatever, I’m not your Dad) two boxes of Pebbles and speed maniacally home to hungrily gorge upon what will certainly be the most life-changing breakfast-oriented experience you will have all month. (Having planned for this, I brought a book to pass the time. It is by Nicholas Sparks. I have just begun it, but I am pretty sure it will involve young, star-crossed lovers who hail from two different worlds and whose all-too-brief summertime romance ends abruptly when one of them is eaten by a monster.)
Thanks to Change, this letter can now be used to score points on everything from Zappa to Zoltar to Zombie
.Island Packet — Not to sound like a jerk, but I am better than you at Scrabble. And I can prove it with shocking mathematics: In March I played a single word for 117 points, 117 nasal passage-melting points, a startling, Bob Huggins’ head-sized accomplishment that is difficult to process with your mortal human brain, so I will pause here to let you absorb it with reverent silence.
Go on. It’s OK. I’ll cool myself with tropical foliage while being hand-fed cheeses and star fruit while you stand slack-jawed with wonder.
OK, now that your heart rate has relaxed and most of the major sweating has slowed, I will tell you that the 117-point monster I conjured with my brain-wand was DOOZIES, a word which is far too cartoonish for the verbal firepower and childish gloating it unleashed. If you are not a Scrabble player, this is the equivalent of Albert Pujols hitting a home run that counted for 30 runs, or Duke’s championship victory coming in part because Jon Scheyer hit a 75-pointer (which NCAA officials would happily allow, incidentally, but whatever).
Indeed, at any given time, I am engaged in three or four games of Scrabble, mostly on my iPhone, where I play the free Scrabble app called Words With Friends (a name which no doubt resulted from Lawsuits Among Companies), a diversion that helps exercise my mind while causing considerable terror in the drivers behind me.
But this has all taken place under what will soon be known as Old Scrabble Rules, the board-game equivalent of the pre-’roid era. Because a new edition of the game will for the first time allow proper nouns — including the names of celebrities, places and companies — because a board game adored by language enthusiasts for 62 years can’t possibly navigate the rocky transition to the iPad Age unless it can somehow work in “Beyonce.” (I note with no small degree of pleasure that the person who established the anti-proper noun rule was Alfred Butts, whose name is now worth a great many points and immeasurable awesomeness.)
I've written for the nice people at Men's Health, Time, GQ, Billboard, Paste, Nickelodeon's NickMom, brucespringsteen.net and The South Magazine. I'm also a syndicated humor columnist in "newspapers" and a father of two (the younger of whom has been personally approved by Bruce Springsteen) on the coast of South Carolina. Even longer bio/clips.