Archive for the ‘Childhood’ category

Beach-sauce redux

August 15, 2013

After spending a few days back at work and realizing that I’d rather be at the beach watching my language, instead of cursing at my phone, monitor, keyboard and career choices, I decided to head back to the beach house my dad had rented and spend some more time plaguing my family with bad puns, methane emissions and a new game.

In the past, my choices for family games has met with…we’ll politely call it “vociferous disdain”. If I like a game, they hate it, especially if I brought it and the rules require more thought than holding numbered cards of varying colors and matching them in one of two ways. The one that comes to mind most readily, as that is the one they immediately ask me NOT to bring when we plan these things, is Drakon, which bears a strong resemblance to the algorithmic visual programming language which I’m sure it was at least partially based on.

This is an admittedly complicated game where you not only have game pieces that represent your fantasy adventurer self, but also “cards” that you draw that are also map pieces with different rules for how to play/move across them. Oh, and there’s also Drakon, the dragon who is guarding this ever-shifting maze-map and will gank all of your coins if she lands on the same tile as you. Since that is engineered by the other players, it WILL happen. I can understand my family’s hesitance in playing this game, especially when I frequently have to consult the rules as each of us ponders what card/map piece will simultaneously help themselves and screw the other players. I keep telling them if we play it more often, it will be easier to play. Their answers, when not mocking my looks and intelligence, are crossed-arm, stony stares that seem to indicate they wish Drakon would maul me and my stupid game.

This time, in addition to hauling Drakon along for the humor factor (watching their faces light up at the mention of games, then fall again as I drag Drakon out of the bag is a game all in itself), I brought a new game called Cards Against Humanity.

If you want a quick peek at what the game is like, click the link and prepare to laugh until you feel like you’ve performed a 90-minute ab workout. The basic gist is that there are two kinds of cards, black cards that contain questions or fill-in-the-blank statements, and white “answer” cards. One person each round is the judge and picks a black card at random to read. Everyone else picks from their continuously replenished 10 answer cards to present what they think the funniest answer will be. The judge reads them all and picks his or her favorite….if they can get through the reading without falling off their chair or crying from laughing.

I’m sure there’s some Apples to Apples-esque scoring mechanism, but we were having so much fun playing the game that we didn’t bother to keep score. We learned a lot that evening, not the least of which is one horrible way to lose your virginity: tickling Sean Hannity even after he tells you to stop. The one that turned my dad into an adult fetus is too obscure out of context to share here. Plus, I really want you to play this game for yourself and report back one ridiculous thing you learned from it. You’ll thank me…if you aren’t rolling your eyes and shouting at your monitor that, “I already HAVE that game, MORON!” Still, your obnoxious condescension aside, I’d like to hear what you learned from this insanely hilarious game. Oh, and don’t purchase it if you’re strictly religious, or have a stick up your bum the size of a redwood. It’s not for you, trust me. They don’t call it the party game for horrible people for nothing.

Other than that, the rest of my time upon returning to the beach house was spent either eating, drinking, being pummeled by mother ocean or any combination of the three. It was a much needed break from The Work. And I think my nieces escaped without too much corruption from Uncle Ren.

Thanks for another great summer of fun memories, dad. Next year, we’re having a Drakon-a-thon until we all know how to play without consulting the rule-novel. Either that, or I unveil my Epic Pouting. It’s your choice.

Mr. Freakin’ Hot Sauce

August 5, 2013

***I’d apologize for not having any pictures of the following tale, but it was more fun living life than filming it.***

At least once every year, my dad launches onto the Internet in search of the perfect beach house for a week of family fun, frivolity and food. I’m not sure what his process is, but we’re frequently found pulling up to residences that seem surprised to see us there expecting a place to stay. And by frequently, I mean this time.

After a week of stress and frustration at work, Achebeyo and I were looking forward to a little down time at the beach. You know, someplace we could have drinks mixed for us and food pumped into our system while we curse the days away. Enter The Nieces.

My two nieces, 3yrs and 8mos respectively, are adorable. And I’m not a fan of kids. Let me be clear: since I’m a big kid myself, I’m not interested in adding to Achebeyo’s growing frustration with raising one whining, crying mess. Thankfully, neither is she. However, I can’t help but be smitten with my two nieces, and not simply because we have people in common. There is one thing, though, that makes it tough for me to be around them: Mr. Hotsauce.

Let me give you a sample conversation and see if you can figure it out.

The Mr. Hotsaucing television won’t Mr. Hotsaucing turn on. And with those Mr. Hotsauce neighbors stomping all around, I’m about to lose my Mr. Hotsauce mind!

Get it? Yeah, it would probably be easier to list the words you can say around my nieces than the ones strictly covered by the Mr. Hotsauce rule. I found myself inventing all new uses for hotsauce this past weekend that would likely make real hot sauce blush.

That mother hotsaucing wave slammed me into the sand and nearly tore my hotsauce off. And now I’ve got sand so far up my hotsauce that I’ll need a hotsaucetal exam to get it all out.

Ah language, the thin red line between corrupting your young relatives and going insane. I survived with my hotsauce intact, though.

While I kid about having to watch my language around my nieces, it was still fun spending time with them both. We played in the sand and water, we watched movies and played with building blocks. We even flew my high-performance parafoil kite. Many activities designed to keep Mr. Hotsauce far from our minds. Plus, there are far more subtle ways to create mischief for my brother through my nieces.

Say ‘Daddy is a Mr. Hotsauce-Head’.

DADDY IS A MR. HOTSAUCE-HEAD!

Atta girl.

Gooftacular Tales

July 23, 2013

***Having Brett guest post really got my gray matter oozing awesome, and now I must share. Thanks for the brain-boost, buddy!***

Remembering how one of my best friends from high school and I met  and became partners in The Silly triggered all of these other memories of how awesome we thought we were. Granted, few others agreed with our self-assessment, but that did not deter us from forging geektastic paths in those days.

Brett, being the humble guest blogger that he is, failed to mention that he was (is) a genius when it came to making costume replicas of some of our favorite characters from movies. Since we had the dangly-down human parts, we were enamored with the thought of being Mad Max, Han Solo or his 1940’s other-galaxy alter-ego Indiana Jones. Interestingly enough, neither of us was interested in being Luke Crywalker. Maybe we sensed his parentage before Lucas did, or maybe we just weren’t into kissing our sisters. Either way, Brett paved the way for me to explore all of the avenues I had to keep girls at a safe distance…for them.

I’ve never been much use when it comes to building things that aren’t comprised of squiggly lines on paper or computer. I’ll spare you the tired cliches about having a birdhouse condemned by government agencies, but I will say that my most brilliant accomplishment of the hand-made variety at that time was the lizard leash that Brett mentioned in the previous post. More on that some other time. Suffice it to say that if you wanted to look like an Imperial speeder bike scout on that teddy bear planet, he was the one to make it happen. And did.

Since he lived at one end of the national park and me at the other, it was usually a 15-20 minute bike ride for me to get to his place. Or, if I was lucky and feeling brain-dead, a 5 minute ride on the cargo trains that frequently passed by my house on their way past his. After nearly shredding myself on unforgiving crushed rock as I leaped to safety on one such ride, bikes became the more viable option to reach Brett’s house. Not to mention, it meant I had a way home that didn’t mean a 30-40 minute walk.

On one particular visit to Brett’s house, he showed me the aforementioned speeder bike scout helmet he made. It was so authentic that I immediately pledged my undying love and devotion to the plastic and cardboard construction and begged Brett to let me wear it on my bike ride home to show the world what a super-stud I was. I think Brett knew the actual outcome of such a solo-parade, and was likely curious to view the results. He capitulated gracefully and I plonked the helmet down over my ear-to-ear grinning face. I rode home like the winds of goofy change and just knew I was the envy of everyone who saw me.

Eventually I had to return the helmet, but not before infuriating my mother by wearing it constantly around the house. While I was busy dorking it up with the inanimate love of my life, Brett was busy re-creating other heroes of ours. Our next adventure would be a little closer to our home planet. Okay, ON our home planet. A little adventure I like to call “Indiana Beckett and the Snakening”.

Brett made himself an authentic Indiana Jones costume, and even was allowed to purchase an authentic whip to make it complete. I think his parents thought he would likely not be able to master the skills necessary to do more than flop that leather rope around like a soggy noodle. They were mistaken.

We would venture out into the national park, Indiana Beckett and his Baltimore Aquarium shirted side-kick, where he would rapidly acquire the skills to pop that whip like he was tearing open peep holes in the universe. He got good enough that he could snap leaves off of trees and even move small rocks. The best I could do was leave myself stinging welts all over my legs, neck and head, as is proper for the goofy side-kick. Knowing our respective roles, we ventured out into the searing heat of southern California summers in the national park and vowed to take on all of Nature’s “villains”. We were certain we could stop a coyote, bobcat or angry jackrabbit. Snakes would run in fear of Brett’s prowess. Or not.

As we ambled along the railroad tracks, Brett practicing his fear inducing whip snaps, me begging for the chance to scar myself further, we suddenly encountered our venerable hero’s biggest nemesis: a snake. Finally! A chance to showcase Brett’s prowess with the whip, and a chance for me to showcase my egging-on skills. Enter situational excitement and panic.

As I extorted Brett to show that snake who the boss of the railroad tracks was, it started rattling, turning Brett’s whip action into a tossing action mid-whip. Yep. He gave that snake the animal kingdom’s equivalent of a blow up doll, and it showed its appreciation by winding itself around the whip, daring us to try to regain our lost treasure. The snake standoff would last only until Brett realized that the whip’s handle was far enough away from the geometric tryst going on between snake and his paramour to allow him to grab it and make the jump to light speed.

Most of the rest of that afternoon is lost in the haze of screaming flight while shaking the snot (snake) out of that whip and hoping snakes can’t give accurate descriptions to the serpent authorities. We ran. Like the wind.

Once we had ensured our safety and distance, and checked to make certain we wouldn’t require changes of undergarments, we would embellish the tale of our encounter to anyone who would listen. To hear us retell the ordeal, we faced down a prehistoric demon-snake the size of a pick-up truck and lived to tell the tale.

We were heroes of our own imaginations.

We were also having the time of our lives.


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