Twenty-Seven Ways You Can Die

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love hearing a good sob story. Like stories about when you found out Santa isn’t real, or pathetic reasons you got fired from your job. Or how you found out that everyone will die. Here’s my story.

I was maybe six or so. I remember my family and I took a trip to some historical park. I don’t remember where. Over the years I’ve accepted that we drove up from Southern California to Washington State. I don’t remember that trip if it ever happened, but I remember being behind the backseat of whatever station wagon we were driving through whatever historical park we were visiting.

The following moment was so surreal that all else faded from memory.

I just remember my mom, dad, and sister were in the car. And maybe my grandparents.

The historical park (or wherever we were)  had several bronze statues of historical figures. You know, those eleven-foot statues set up on brick cylinders? I remember looking up at one of them (probably of Thomas Jefferson, or some colonial figure because he had the ruffles and the tricorne hat) and wondering how a statue is made.

I was curious enough to ask about it in the back of the car. “How do they make those statues?” I asked. “Who are they?”

“They’re of famous people who’ve died,” came the response from the front.

Now, before I go any further, I need to explain the difference between what parents say and what children hear. Observe:

Parent says: “Don’t touch that glass doll.” Child hears: “Touch any other glass doll.”

Parent says: “If you pull on the Christmas tree it will fall over and kill you.” Child hears: “If you pull on the Christmas tree it’s going to make a mess and there might be blood!”

So when my parents said that those statues were of famous people who died, I heard, “When you die, you get turned into a statue.”

Immediately I imagined being encased in an iron cast for all eternity. Then I asked the next fatal question: “How did they die?”

The answer: “Some got sick, some got old, some died in wars.”

(At this point, I need to remind you that I didn’t know yet that death was inevitable. I thought those were just really unlucky bastards who struck out big time. Like, don’t go to war, duh. Go to the doctor, duh.)

Then I said, “That’s sad.” I didn’t mean it was sad that they died. I meant that it was sad that they were encased in an iron shell, tormented by eternal stillness and stiff muscles for all eternity like Han Solo.

Then someone said: “It’ll happen to everyone sooner or later.”

At this point, the violins I was hearing were interrupted with a scratchy record and my eyes popped open. “What?” I asked.

“Well, everyone dies.” I wished adults really did sound like the Peanuts grown-ups so I didn’t have to hear that.

“Everyone?”

“Everyone.”

“You mean, you’re doing to die, Dad?”

“Yup.”

“And you, Mom?”

“Yup.”

I asked everyone by name if they were going to die. And then I asked the inevitable: “Am going to die?”

“Someday. But not for a long, long time.”

I didn’t care that it wasn’t going to be for a long time. All I cared about was that one day I was going to be turned into one of those statues, helpless as I watched people walk past in droves pointing at me, birds pooping on me, being left out in the cold every night.

So the violins started back up in my head and I burst out in tears. That’s pretty much all I remember from that whole trip.

You know what I did next?

After my family told me everything would be okay and that people don’t turn into statues when they die (unless you’re in Narnia), I then started counting all the possible ways people could die.

Sickness. Old age. Getting hit by a car. Flying into a window (because my knowledge of death was limited to dogs, squirrels, and birds apparently). I also included drowning and holding your breath too long for the fun of it and stubbing your toe so bad that you die.

I came up with about twenty-seven ways a person could die. And these were twenty-seven things I tried to avoid doing from then on out.

You know what I should have done instead? I should have thought about all the different ways to live.

Twenty-seven years later I guess I still have time to change my thinking. You know, before I turn into a statue. So here’s my new list:

Ways to Live:

How I Met Your … Friends?

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So I’ve been watching How I Met Your Mother for the first time ever. I’m halfway through season 4, and I love the show. Where has it been all my life? Oh, just right there on my TV but I never bothered to give it a try until Netflix decided to be awesome.

I grew up on Friends, and other than The Fresh Prince, that was my go-to show. (I actually secretly call it The Ross and Chandler Show since I seriously cannot get enough of those two. I mean, Ross getting a spray-on tan – classic.)

maxresdefaultIn many ways the shows are identical. You’ve got the group of friends nearly divided equally between guys and girls. Two side characters get hitched. One of the guys is a playboy who can land any girl he wants (and does). And then you’ve got the main guy on each show (face it, everything revolves around Ross as much as it does Ted), who wants nothing more than to settle down, but just can’t seem to find the time or woman to do it with (which is ironic, because there’s really not many guys like that, so you’d think the girls would flock all over them). There’s Central Perk vs. MacLaren’s; New York/New York (see what I did there?); the guys can’t fight; it’s all about sex; always guaranteed a good time (see what I did there, too?).

The biggest difference I see in the two shows is that the storytelling strengths are there in How I Met Your Mother as the endless laugh-out-loud moments overflow from Friends.

So unless Mother tanks next season (which most shows do around season 5, except for Friends, which held a fairly level streak through all ten seasons), I’m going to be forced to decide which show is better.

That’s like having to choose vanilla or chocolate. Or an eggnog frappuccino or a gingerbread frappuccino (I don’t like hot drinks).

It’ll be like having to choose a favorite child.

So! I want to hear from you all. Am I in for a good time for the duration of Mother, or should I brace for a crash-landing like so many beloved sitcoms tend to succumb to?

It seems to me the writers must have had the ending in mind when they wrote the pilot. Something to do with a yellow umbrella? So do me a favor and let me know what I’m in for, whether that be in the form of hyping or warning.

A Politically Incorrect Thanksgiving Poem

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This Thanksgiving falls sixteen days after the presidential nomination.

Some rejoice the results while others bemoan the abomination.

 

Verbal shots will be taken and friends will fall prey

to the slander and abuse that will take place on this day.

 

No longer will just the blood of turkeys be spilled

but those of our family and friends as our bellies are filled.

 

Instead of giving thanks around the table this year

Americans one and all will incite loathing and fear.

 

“You tree-hugging liberal skank,” some will abhor.

And on the table’s opposite: “You racist republican whore.”

 

They’ll start off as groans and hard-to-hear mumbles

as the potatoes boil they’ll become audible grumbles.

 

Eye-rolls will turn into daggers shot hard

as all await the first to play the dreaded Trump card.

 

The stuffing will be dished with fingers stiff and pointing

mocking the cabinet Trump is appointing.

 

But let’s not forget those who voted for a party third

They’ll be blending in while cutting and also flipping the bird.

 

Whispers will give way to talk then raise to loud shouting

and the expletives will become part of the verbal spouting.

 

“You voted for that blood-spilling, lying bitch?”

“Do you not value me as a woman, or do you have a brain-glitch?”

 

On it will go no one having the time of their lives

“Pass me the garlic, the onions, and chives!”

 

Phones will be passed in lieu of toasty gravy,

sharing videos of Hillary bashing the NAVY.

 

More videos: Hillary bowing toward Mecca!

More videos: Trump groping my friend Miss Rebecca!

 

Trump has too much hair! Hillary’s eyebrows too bushy!

Hillary’s just reaching for power! Trumps grabbing…well, he’s pushy.

 

Some will say, “Throw Hillary in jail!”

Others say it’s to Trump we should heil.

 

Hillary loves terrorists! Trump loves Putin!

(My face is bloating, do these yams have gluten?)

 

All the while there’s a corpse on our table who had a shot at more life

But today’s president did not pardon this bird from the knife.

 

I ask you, how is that fair and how do we fare?

We still bicker and fight though we still get to breathe air.

 

So when you look at that turkey and slice its gullet

think back to a time of Game Boys and mullets.

 

When you were a kid at the Thanksgiving table,

the peace was so nice it was almost a fable.

 

Don’t judge your gay neighbors or steal your uncle’s guns.

Just laugh with your friends and have fun

(and don’t forget to grab some buns).

 

Happy Thanksgiving Americans one and all.

This Thanksgiving There Will Be Blood

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This Thanksgiving falls sixteen days after the presidential nomination.

Some rejoice the results while others bemoan the abomination.

 

Verbal shots will be taken and friends will fall prey

to the slander and abuse that will take place on this day.

 

No longer will just the blood of turkeys be spilled

but those of our family and friends as our bellies are filled.

 

Instead of giving thanks around the table this year

Americans one and all will incite loathing and fear.

 

“You tree-hugging liberal skank,” some will abhor.

And on the table’s opposite: “You racist republican whore.”

 

They’ll start off as groans and hard-to-hear mumbles

as the potatoes boil they’ll become audible grumbles.

 

Eye-rolls will turn into daggers shot hard

as all await the first to play the dreaded Trump card.

 

The stuffing will be dished with fingers stiff and pointing

mocking the cabinet Trump is appointing.

 

But let’s not forget those who voted for a party third

They’ll be blending in while cutting and also flipping the bird.

 

Whispers will give way to talk then raise to loud shouting

and the expletives will become part of the verbal spouting.

 

“You voted for that blood-spilling, lying bitch?”

“Do you not value me as a woman, or do you have a brain-glitch?”

 

On it will go no one having the time of their lives

“Pass me the garlic, the onions, and chives!”

 

Phones will be passed in lieu of toasty gravy,

sharing videos of Hillary bashing the NAVY.

 

More videos: Hillary bowing toward Mecca!

More videos: Trump groping my friend Miss Rebecca!

 

Trump has too much hair! Hillary’s eyebrows too bushy!

Hillary’s just reaching for power! Trumps grabbing…well, he’s pushy.

 

Some will say, “Throw Hillary in jail!”

Others say it’s to Trump we should heil.

 

Hillary loves terrorists! Trump loves Putin!

(My face is bloating, do these yams have gluten?)

 

All the while there’s a corpse on our table who had a shot at more life

But today’s president did not pardon this bird from the knife.

 

I ask you, how is that fair and how do we fare?

We still bicker and fight though we still get to breathe air.

 

So when you look at that turkey and slice its gullet

think back to a time of Game Boys and mullets.

 

When you were a kid at the Thanksgiving table,

the peace was so nice it was almost a fable.

 

Don’t judge your gay neighbors or steal your uncle’s guns.

Just laugh with your friends and have fun

(and don’t forget to grab some buns).

 

Happy Thanksgiving Americans one and all.

 

Naivety = Awesomeness (How do you pronounce “Naivety” anyway?)

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The great Steve Martin, in his book, Born Standing Up, defines naivete: “That fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do.”

With that logic, every person who’s ever done anything great is undeniably, unequivocally naive.

If we were all aware of how hard something was going to be before we embarked in projects or work, I believe very little would get done.

Think about it. Doctors are like, “Eight-thousand years of college?” No sweat. But what they don’t account for before enrolling for their first $2 million class is the tedious lectures, the endless research, the nerve-jarring tests. Not to mention no money, no food, no sleep. College has its perks, but we forget how much dehydrated noodles can make us gag after the thirtieth consecutive cup.

“Let’s make a movie!” Easy. But first you’ve got to scrounge up the money for filming equipment, put out ads for crew members and actors to work for cheap (or for nothing at all), not to mention the hundreds of takes, waiting for the traffic to die, the weather to clear, the dog to stop barking. . . And the grueling editing hasn’t even begun.

Writing a book? Easy. Just tappity-tappity on the keyboard and off to New York you go! (I’d hate to be the one to break it to that naive amateur that you’re lucky if you sell six copies even after less than fourteen rewrites – of course when I broke that news to myself after years of writing, I wanted to kill myself.

My wife says, “You don’t know when to quit, do you?” I take that as a compliment. No, I don’t know how to quit because I’m too naive to believe I can fail. Even though I probably will. But who knows.

Steve Martin failed as a comedian for eight years before he achieved even a modicum of success. And then he had to refine everything he ever knew.

But it’s a gamble. And the odds are in no one’s favor. For every gazillion stand-up hopefuls, there’s only one Steve Martin. For every gazillion-billion-trillion writer (because, let’s face it, who’s not?), there’s only one J.K. Rowling.

How’s that for a drop of inspiration? No? Not good?

Try this: Nativity makes the world go round. So help me keep spinning it.

I’m Back!

I hate that blog title because it insinuates that I’m just a casual blogger and just remembered to post something after an eight-month hiatus. Well, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything on here, but let me fill you in on what’s been going on in bullet-points:

  • I tried to earn a Dad of the Year award by spoiling my kids and taking them to Chuck E. Cheese’s each Saturday.
  • Sarabeth said that place is dirty.
  • I laughed it off.
  • “Come on, kids! Do you want to spend another Saturday at Chuck E. Cheese? Show me your happy dance!”
  • One sick kid.
  • Two sick kid.
  • One very sick dad.
  • Spots. Fever. Chills. Hallucinating (apparently). Bed rest.

Basically that bed rest is what did me in. I developed a blood clot in my left leg because I hadn’t moved in over a week. The blood clot developed because I had my ACL repaired ten years ago and had a blood clot then. Apparently they’re famous for encores.

So that required an impromptu trip to the ER. Mind you, this is after a stubborn and determined walk around the zoo with the kids and an uphill walk to the library even with my leg swelled to the size of an elephant’s testicle.

“I’ll be fine,” I kept telling Sarabeth. “Let me just run it off.” So I stretched, jogged, did Yoga, and continued doing the Happy Dance with the kids from Chuck E. Cheese’s Youtube channel. Some habits die hard.

Finally Sarabeth put her foot down (because I no longer could). She made me ask a trusted crmekjgxgaebxcadoctor and he said to haul ass to the ER pronto. The kids and I finished our snow cones (I was still going for Dad of the Year), I dropped them off at home, grabbed a book, and told my wife they’ll probably keep me overnight.

They did. For five nights.

The only reason the clot didn’t reach my lungs or my heart was because apparently I was born with abnormally narrow tummy vessels. So the clot couldn’t fit, even though it was trying.

Twelve episodes of Breaking Bad, four CAT Scans, three ultra sounds, two surgeries and about a trillion-and-a-half blood tests later, my leg was as good as new – new like a newborn baby’s who can’t walk.

Oh, speaking of babies, I came home from the hospital to a phone call saying that the state of Kentucky has a child they would like for us to take in. A normal couple would have said no, except this normal couple made a promise years back that we would never say no to a child. No matter what.

And, my mom-in-law was in town already, so she was happy to be around for the arrival of a new kid.

All of this to say that I’m alive and well, my publishing company is still (miraculously) on track for releasing our first two books next month, and we’ll be continuing the story of “The Underneath” by popular demand.

So… how’s your month been?

Make This Your Next Netflix Movie

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Hilarity ensues in the Netflix original The Fundamentals of Caring. It’s the first Netflix original I’ve ventured to watch, but wow, I was impressed!

I expected just another melodramatic indie film that attempts to tie everything together at the end just for the sake of closing out smoothly. But this Paul Rudd-led film was anything but a half-hearted effort. It was hilarious from the very beginning.

And for me to call a movie hilarious is pretty impressive. There are only three movies I think are actually funny. This makes four.

Anyway, I’m not going to go into the specifics except that you’ll want to watch it when the kids are in bed due to the excessive amount of F-bombs dropped.

So if you have 90 minutes to spare, or if you’re like me and your work schedule has completely changed and you don’t know how to adjust to no longer having to wake up at 5:00 AM, then get your Netflix on and enjoy this gem of a movie. The book is on my Christmas list.