Category Archives: GateHouse

Fish Are Expendable As Pets, There, I Said It

fish-are-expendable-there-i-said-it-jeff-vrabel

This was easier to find on Google than you think.

GateHouse — First, a confession: I murdered about eight fish this summer.

It wasn’t my fault, and by that I mean it was entirely my fault. The tale is long and tragic, but the short version is that when you’re driving a moving truck, it’s best to not leave Tupperware containers full of goldfish on the floor of the cab, because that floor gets hot. And that makes the water hot. And that makes the fish hot, and dead, mostly dead. If there was a bright side, though, the cab smelled delicious. (And if it makes you feel better, the frogs survived, right up until I transferred them into my new fish tank and they immediately perished, presumably from comfort.)

Second confession: I don’t have much experience with taking pets for operations. I’ve only done that once in my life, and it was with a dog, and it was less an “operation” and more “the last walk she ever went on, if you’re catching my drift.” But I do know this: Cutty’s non-operation would have been expensive, prohibitively so, and as much as we loved her, and as cold as it sounds, it wasn’t feasible. And that was for a dog, an animal that can interact with you, slobber on you, provide “unconditional love and companionship” or whatever for you. I can’t imagine what our financial cutoff would have been for a fish. Wait, yes I can. It’s zero.

Because fish, let’s be honest, are expendable. There, I said it. I realize I’m inviting volumes of hate mail from the nation’s lively lobby of fish fans, but I’m not too worried. Their influence lately has been… scaled back. I pretty much think they’re… fin-ished. Do you see what we just did there, how veered from an emotional moment about euthanizing the dog of my childhood to idiotic fish puns? We’re all about versatility today.

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How the World Cup Turns Even Non Sports Nerds Into Foam-Fingered Face-Painted Bar-Trashing Maniacs

THIS LOOKS SO DANGEROUS, DON’T YOU GUYS HAVE ANOTHER GAME TO PLAY?

GateHouse — You win, soccer!

I learned something in the World Cup in 2010: Turns out that if you furnish a scorching last-minute sudden-death winning goal, and add the subtle, unrelenting pressure of most of my friends and all of Twitter, I turn into a dynamic, perspiring World Cup fan! At least for a few days, or weeks, or years, or however long this thing goes on. I haven’t the foggiest idea.

But that’s OK, because I’m still new to this soccer thing, this severe, rash-fueled case of World Cup fever that makes me want to occasionally punch random strangers in the throat. But I confess to being baffled by my sudden enthusiasm, and by “enthusiasm” I mean “the fleeting brush of elevated interest I feel because everybody else is watching it and I’m a unrepentant meerkat who wants to know what the group is talking about.” Because, like all of America, and despite what the more self-satisfied portions of America might claim on Facebook, I don’t generally pay the remotest smidge of attention to soccer unless a soccer game is interrupted by a camel invasion, Alison Brie photo shoot or velociraptor attack, and even in the case of the latter I’d probably just watch the highlights (“Just look at the way those raptors are using cooperative hunting to distract the American goalkeepers, right before slicing them to pieces with their sharp, slashing claws! Amazing, isn’t it, Jim?” And then the camera would cut to Jim, and we would see that Jim has just been sliced to pieces by velociraptors. I am pretty sure it’s paragraphs like this that made me not get the callback about that ESPN job.).

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Great News, Everybody! We’re Almost Out of Clowns!

sad_clownGateHouse — GATHER AROUND AMERICA, I HAVE THE BEST NEWS OF 2014.

That’s right, 2014. No better news will come out this year. If I find that a mysterious rich uncle left me $55 billion and a yacht it will not be better news than this. If the Cubs decide to avoid baseball this summer and save us all the errors and collapsing it will not be better than this. If Sean Hannity plunges into a sinkhole filled with monstrous giraffe-sized worms who feast on pouting, it will not be better than this. OK, that last one will be pretty close, but still: Bring the children into the room, find a comfortable chair and grab a nice bottle of seltzer, for drinking:

The United States is facing a severe clown shortage.

HOW GREAT IS THAT? It’s working! We’re getting rid of clowns! Which is frankly long overdue, because it’s been like 300 years and several circus mergers since anybody needed them. And I say that as someone who has purposefully attended an Insane Clown Posse concert, which was — and this is not a joke — easily the most positive clown-related environment I’ve ever been in. (Seriously, however much Faygo you think those guys spray at an average small-market concert, it’s like a million times more Faygo. I didn’t know Faygo made that much Faygo. And the concert ended with like 20 guys on stage, mostly in face paint, and lights and confetti and lasers and Faygo and everyone hopping around stage performing a thrice-punctuated track called “Bang! Pow! Boom!” and it was maybe deeply entertaining? I don’t know, all the confetti was very disorienting.)

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Exactly What Is This Viscous Black Substance Pouring Forth from the Carpet Cleaner

muddyotterwater

This is more or less what emerged from our carpet cleaner. Otter included.

GateHouse — Never rent a carpet cleaner.

Seriously.

Never rent a carpet cleaner.

Just don’t. Realize that carpets, by their filthy fibrous natures, will always contain some considerable amount of playground dirt and cosmic dust and standard-issue housefunk and dog hair and old food and and that’s just how it is, and you should be OK with it. Maybe it, you know, boosts immunity or something.

We rented a carpet cleaner this weekend. Related: We live like farm animals. Related: That’s not true. Farm animals would not let their living spaces get like this; at some point a rooster or something would be like, “Guys, seriously. Also, cock-a-doodle-doo!”

Oh sure, there is a hygiene upgrade and general peace of mind that comes with the post-clean knowledge that your carpets are so sterling you could eat off them (so long as you didn’t mind fibers in your steak or the occasional ball of fuzz in your soup). Sure, it’s nice to have a clean house. We have two kids in ours, so this last part has gone from being an occasional delight to something we remember from a time we’ve come to know as “The Restaurant Years.”

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Monopoly Isn’t Getting Rid Of Jail, But I Will Still Crush You At It

MonopolyMan2

YOLO

GateHouse — First of all, the good news is that Monopoly is NOT getting rid of jail. JAIL IS SAFE, EVERYONE. Well it’s not safe, because it’s still jail, and I’ve heard enough about “Orange Is The New Black” to know what I’m talking about, but you get the point.

This is a big deal because last week there was concern when The Internet, which is the thing you read when you sort of want news but mostly want to know about “14 Things That Happened When A Waffle House Opened In The Braves’ Stadium,” reported that a new version of the venerable board game was doing away with jail.

That’s right: NO MORE JAIL! Why, the very thought of it was enough to send the Internet’s army of unpaid clones into a tizzy about the injustice of a world that allowed modified board games, an injustice that was so fierce and disturbing that it left little energy for fact-checking, which would have saved loads of time since the story turned out not to be true. I KNOW, you’re saying, The Internet usually doesn’t get things wrong, unless it’s Boston bombing facts or the name or the occasional school gunman, but it’s straight-up all over this “32 Signs You’re A Weasley” thing.

Let me back up a little: For you youngsters reading the paper (HA!), this “Monopoly” is a Precambrian “board game” once played by children before the invention of a video game you played by hopping around your living room like a lunatic, and it basically made family-friendly sport out of basic economics. That’s probably why fewer people are playing it now, because most modern parents can’t hand over even fictional cash to theoretical utilities without bursting into tears.

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When You See A Shark Someplace Like This, There Is Only One Explanation: Sharknado

trail shark

Despite what Jimmy Buffett tells you, sharks cannot swim on land.

GateHouse — Little do you all know it, but two years ago I came across the very aftermath of a sharknado.

At the time, I considered it no great shakes. I live on a resort island in South Carolina, a sleepy, mild-mannered community filled with retired people, golfers and retired golfers, as well as a great deal of Darius Rucker fans, shrimp experts and people who I really do not need to ask about their thoughts on this Zimmerman thing.

So my sharknado episode came and went and I paid it little mind. Because, I figured, if a sharknado could happen here on this isolated, tucked-away spot filled with birdies and senior discounts and sort-of country music fans, it can’t be that novel, can it? If verified photographic evidence of a legit sharknado happening here on our shores was real, wouldn’t someone from the newspaper have at least tweeted me about it?

Today, of course, sharknadoes are big deals that everyone gets all worked up about, because of some basic cable movie starring, if I’m reading this correctly, a rehab clinic filled with actors who you would have heard of in 1995 if you only watched movies while drunk or trying to sleep on the floor at 5:30 a.m. It also occurs to me that I’m not sure if it should be “sharknados” or “sharknadoes,” so if someone could pitch in on the grammar for me I’d appreciate it.

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Company seeks volunteers to live on Mars, arrive with Earth-shattering kaboom

Pictured: Basically how all this is gonna go down

Pictured: Basically how all this is gonna go down

GateHouse — Having pretty well established over the past two or three weeks that things on Earth are pretty unsalvageably jerked up, I think I’ll go ahead and cut my losses and apply for this one-way flight to Mars thing. I don’t know much about Mars, other than they have an Olympus Mons and we shot a rover there one time, but I’m pretty sure that if 90% of people support something on Mars, the Martian Congress will figure out a way to get it done.

Last week a Dutch nonprofit company called Mars One, founded by an entrepreneur named Bas Lansdorp, because his parents couldn’t think of a more Dutch name to give him apparently, announced it was looking for people to volunteer to become the first humans to live on Mars. They don’t need a lot — just four initial colonists to shoot on over, set up a colony and then, of course, never ever come back. It’s kind of like an interstellar-travel version of a Carnival cruise.

It’s a one-way permanent vacation that probably requires at least a little bit of travel insurance but according to Mars One thousands have already applied because, again, I mean, (makes “I mean really just look around” motion). But there are naturally questions about whether any company can swing the technology and financing, which is estimated to be $6 billion for the first four colonists and $4 billion for each subsequent crew of four, although the 10th crew is free and you get a free colony on your birthday.

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cak1xly8oUM]

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Toddlers almost fall into the ocean pretty much all the time, right?

safety first

Yeah, yeah, I’m working on it.

GateHouse — So it’s totally normal for kids to almost fall off of piers into oceans during trips to the water with their dads, right? That’s a thing that happens pretty regularly? Right? All the time? I’ll take your collective silence as a big yes.

Being a brisk and glorious Sunday morning, and because it had been a gray and pallid Saturday and we were all tired of being in the house with each other, I took my youngest — an 18-month-old mucus production system — out to a local pier for some good old-fashioned rock throwin’. I contend there is no greater activity for children than rock-throwin’, in any capacity. Rock thrown’ into the water, rock thrown’ into the pond, rock throwin’ at a wall. Every Christmas, every single Christmas, we go through this profoundly insane charade of making a gift list, receiving presents from the gift list, opening said presents, writing thank-you notes for said presents and spending a few hours playing with presents that are all like 750% less fun than an average pile of rocks. Geology has given us the perfect toy, and here we are screwing around with Legos and action figures and whatever Monster High is.

So with a day to ourselves we headed to watch people casting nets into the Intracoastal Waterway. We’ve done this a number of times. Once my older son and I came across two fishermen, two youngish guys of probably 20 or so who had not spent a great deal of their day in the field of personal care and at least one of which was, unless he was suffering from a glaucomal condition not readily apparent, probably illegal.

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How I Bonded With My Son Over “Tom And Jerry” And Then We Both Got Really Violent For Like A Week

See that just doesn't look safe

See that just doesn’t look safe

GateHouse — The 9-year-old and I recently had a Saturday evening to ourselves, and when presented with such a rare opportunity for unperturbed bond-reinforcing time we did what any rational father-son combo would do: Watch something like two-plus hours of “Tom and Jerry” cartoons on DVD.

We did this for a many reasons: 1. I canceled cable a few weeks ago, so “MythBusters” and “Deadliest Catch” and “Duck Dynasty” were out. 2. The show “Duck Dynasty” is about a curious and bearded family of boss-level rednecks, which is the most disappointing possible outcome for a show with that title. 3. “Tom and Jerry” beat his usual preferred activity, which is telling me the numerous reasons I’m playing Lego Racetrack incorrectly. 4. What better way is there to share time together than watching 70-year-old cartoons predicated on incomprehensible violence?

Because I’m a grown-up, I remembered that “Tom and Jerry” was constant with the hitting and punching and concussing and stabbing and gun-toting and anvil-dropping and whatever it’s called when you shove a cat’s tail into a food processor. But merciful heavens I guess I forgot that for a while there in the 40s it was OK to insinuate that one-half of your star duo just got decapitated via guillotine, and then to show the other half shrugging and bopping off into the sunset. Like, I get that it’s a cartoon, and I think this was a parody of “The Three Musketeers,” but I’m just saying that was a pretty realistic ka-thunk sound effect happening there.

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Right, Like The “President” Doesn’t Know What A “Jedi Mind Trick” Is

president spock

As someone who was literally called “Spock” every day of my life from 3rd through 10th grades, this picture is highly gratifying.

GateHouse — Welp, late last week the President went on TV and mixed up a “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” things, and then the Internet died, keeled over, that very second, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Obviously we’re still hashing out whether this was a negative or a positive.

First things first: Here is what Obama said, and I warn you that if you thought his swearing on a fake Muslim Bible in his first inauguration was bad, the following may actually give you appendicitis: In a press conference about something having to do with a 400-year-long slap-fight with a sobbing John Boehner and those angry hobgoblins who work for the government who also hate the government, Obama started talking about science fiction movies, exactly all of which are more likely than a reality in which a theoretically functional government elects to install a land mine in its own front yard, then wakes up one morning and waddles right out on top of it. (That’s right: ALL sci-fi movies. “Lawnmower Man?” MORE LIKELY. “Spaceballs?” CONSIDERABLY MORE LIKELY. “The Running Man?” I’M PRETTY SURE WE HAVE THAT ALREADY.)

Obama, out loud, said the following:

“I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow, you know, do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right.”

For those of you who learned to unclasp a girl’s bra before the age of 27, this is a GRIEVOUS AND GHASTLY ERROR, on the order of that time he meant to write “Socialist” on his presidential paperwork and wrote “Democrat” instead, one that CONFUSES the “Star Wars” Jedi mind trick, most famously used by Obi-Wan Kenobi in order to get the galaxy’s most wanted teenager past the desert-planet equivalent of mall security, and the “Star Trek” mind meld, which is when Spock touches your brain and learns your bank passwords.

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