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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Come Sail Away

It is official. I have given up on Blogger.

Please come visit me at

Friday, December 29, 2006

Under Construction

Blogger has been buggin for 2 days now. Eating posts or just not letting me in.

I've been warning. Hell even CNet has an article about Blogger's sloppy stumble out of Beta.

So, I am currently prettying up my new home for your first visit.

Be back soon.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

2006 Year In Review : Part I

There are certain things that I will miss from 2006. Not many. And really I guess it is more about things that have changed more than things left behind. Any parent knows the feeling. The "where does the time go" feeling. It just seemed so accelerated this year.

Gone are the days of kiddie pools, or "having to" go swimming with LatteGirl. She can swim... well. No more inflatable arm bands, silly little inflatables or other such "baby toys." Now she swims on her own and those silly little toys have been replaced with diving sticks, underwater hoops for swimming through and other "big kid" toys.

Gone this year is the simple version of soccer that was just more like us kicking a ball back and forth. Now we run drills in the yard (her choice), have orange cones (her choice), and she sets up a goal so she can (try) to shoot it past me.

The Christmas wishlist also changed quite dramatically. Gone are Color Wonder Books, Wiggles Videos, Barbie Stylin' Heads and Play-Doh. This year the requests were things like a Pottery Wheel, a telescope, a Chemistry Kit ("My First Chemistry kit" not a real chemistry set), and Leapster Math Games. Where toys were requested, they were more mature, including (one of my old favorites) MouseTrap. She also got a FurReal Friends Chimp, but that was TheWife's idea and wasn't actually a requested toy.

I know they grow up, and we can't stop them. And I am sure I will lament this again many times in the future in a similar fashion. But somehow I think I will always look back at this particular year as the end point of my "baby" and the begining of the years I can call "my young little lady."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Jell-O mold like Holiday Recap...

(Sort of looks like a post, but is tenuous at best in its construction, with lots of odd things thrown it).

LatteGirl did not feel well, and was a bit off right up and through Christmas Eve. By Christmas Even she even seemed a bit depressed. By being ill for the past week, she sort of felt like she missed the "run up" to Christmas, and several times lamented how Christmas seemed to come way too fast this year. (What child complains about Christmas arriving too quickly? Really!)

By Christmas morning however, whatever has been keeping her down was gone. She was her bright chipper self. Full of enthusiasm, excitement and awake far too early in the morning for my tastes (and it should be noted... I am a morning person in general). I will go more into the specifics about present and such later (with photos).

When I was a younger lad (way back when), the running "joke" (meaning every parent had been burned by it at least once), was the dreaded, "*batteries not included." While I have been snagged by that once or twice myself, it is nothing that a quick run to the corner store, while other gifts are being played with that cannot be remedied quickly. No, that is not it. For me the bane of my Christmas Eve life as a parent can be pointed to three different little words. Words that seem to apply to at least one gift a year. Those words that make me shudder... "some assembly required."

Our car broke down on Saturday. The Saturday before Christmas. Water Pump and Timing Chain went. We needed a vehicle so we decided to rent on for the weekend. Have you ever tried to find an open Car Rental Place on a Saturday afternoon of a three day holiday weekend? 23 places need to be called before we found one open.

As it turns out, that event was almost a blessing in disguise. LatteGirl's haul from my mother's house (my mother, my aunt, and my sister) never would have fit in the trunk of our car, so at least we reaped that benefit from having the rental car. But I think I would have happily traded having to make an extra trip back to go get the remaining goodies rather than spending $600 in car repairs, and another $150 (or so) on the rental.

TheWife and I "agreed" no not buy presents for each other this year as "we" (read: she) wants a new painting for above the sofa in the living room. She got me CSI Season 6, and a Chiminea that I had my eye on for the deck. I bought her, a bracelet (which unfortunately did not arrive in time), a vegetable steamer (she wanted one), a Target GiftCard ('cause what woman doesn't enjoy shopping?), and a pair of diamond earring set in white gold (she is now on a kick where she doesn't want anything "yellow"). So obviously... we both broke our "agreement." As it turns out that probably was a good thing, because the money we would have spent on a print for the living room (She wants a "Kinkaide") is now going into her car for repairs.

I started baking on Friday evening when I got home from work, and didn't stop until around dinner time on Christmas Eve. I was exhausted by the time I was done (which was not a good thing to be, when I had "some assembly required" gifts assemble once I could get LatteGirl off to bed), but the house smelled fantastic. I was a bit behind because of LatteGirl not wanting to bake this week since she was under the weather, but I did manage to complete all the cookies I promised people here I would send out. In the end I wound up baking about 16 dozen cookies and a couple of cakes.

I took time out from baking Sunday, to go to church (it didn't burst into flames and burn down... who knew), so I could see LatteGirl and her Sunday School class perform a nativity scene play. LatteGirl was one of the 3 Kings. She was thrilled to be the one presenting Gold. TheWife however did not find it amusing when I kept referring to her as "the king presenting the bling."

Fortunately (for us), we no longer have any family members that actually still make the Jello mold for the holidays. (Although we still have a party with TheWife's family on Saturday, so I may be a bit premature). But I have to ask. Who the heck looks a Jell-O and thinks... "that needs carrot slivers in it"?)

I hope you got everything you wanted from Santa. (If not, the post-holiday sales start today :)

Friday, December 22, 2006

I must have wronged somebody, somewhere.

That is the only explanation I can come up with. I did all my Christmas Shopping, late as usual but with more than enough time to get everything here for the holidays. Then, once those deadlines for shipping have passed, the e-mail start rolling in. "Sorry out of Stock," "Shipment Delayed," etc. etc. So now, to fill the void, the weekend before Christmas, I still have to go shopping!

This is so unfair. I swear this is some sort of Karma kickback for something I did to somebody. I even considered looking towards the Bible for some answers. What did I find? "...Latte Man the cross maker was the richest man in all of Galilee..." Ah... That explains it.

Oh well, a shopping I will go. Wish me luck. Oh, and in case this is the last time we see each other before then (or I get trampled at the mall) . Best wishes to you and yours for this Holiday Season.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Picture Perfect Thursday XIII - Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays
From Our Family To Yours

(I think that is really all that needs to be said for this one)

Christmas Meme

OK, I don't have the picture handy I want for Picture Perfect Thursday, so I was tagged with a MeMe, and decided in the spirit of the holiday, I should do it... so allow me to use this to entertain you (and tag you... snicker) until I get to Picture Perfect Thursday later on.

1.Wrapping paper or gift bags? I hate the waste of wrapping paper, and would use nothing if I could. I can't. TheWife insists on paper for Christmas. I get away with (reusable) bags the rest of the time. As a kid, we never had presents wrapped. It would be too hard for Santa to know who got what present if they were all wrapped I was told.

2.Real tree or artificial? Pre-lit Martha Stewart, because TheWife wanted "nothing to do" with a real tree "ever again" but now she is having second thoughts and we may go back to a real tree next year.

3.When do you put up the tree? With the artificial, right after Thanksgiving. With the live tree we generally waited until about Dec. 15th or so.

4.When do you take the tree down? On the 13th day after Christmas.

5.Do you like eggnog? Yup. And now I even like it without it being spiked. Who knew?

6.Favorite gift you received as a child? Is it awful that I say, I don't know. I can't think of one that was way better than any other.

7.Do you have a nativity scene? hahaha... uh... No. I have received several as gifts though. (See Number 14)

8.Hardest person to buy for? TheWife and my mother are a tie for royal pain in the butt.

9.Easiest person to buy for? I don't find anybody particularly easy, just some less hard than others.

10.Mail or email Christmas cards? Mostly mail, some e-mails though.

11.Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Oh, there is a long list of items that tie for this honor. Many came from my MIL.

12.Favorite Christmas movie? Christmas Vacation

13.When do you start shopping? January 1

14.Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes.

15.Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Triple Venti Gingerbread Latte of course. Does Coffee count as food?

16.Clear lights or colored on the tree? Color lights when I was a kid. TheWife only wants white. I settle for putting the color outside now.

17.Favorite Christmas song? Bobby Rivers: The Twelve Pains of Christmas

18.Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel, but only about 12 miles to Mom's house.

19.Can you name all of Santa’s Reindeer? Of course.

20.Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither, we have an Olde World Santa Claus

21.Open the presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Morning. I'm not done wrapping anything until just before the child wakes up Christmas morning.

22.Most annoying thing about this time of year? Cranky people that bitch and moan about all the work they have to do to plan for the holidays. If it is "work" you are doing something wrong (in my not so humble opinion). Yes, there is work to be done, plenty of it. But when we get family and friends together, I feel like it is all worth it. Updated to add: This goes Double for Bill O'Reilly and his Faux War on Christmas

23.Do you have Jesus in your heart this Christmas? I don't think so... It is probably just heartburn

24.What would you like for Christmas? A smile on my daughter's face. Everything starts there.

Now to find three people to tag with this, that I think will actually do it. How about:

Cathy (Feel Free to Tag Team with Doug)
Chicka (c'mon you know you want to)
CMHL (It will make a nice diversion for a couple of minutes... PLEEEZ)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Run Away!

On the idea of leaving Blogger, figuring I would do it after the holidays when things slow down. However, apparently their new version is out of beta. Personally, I do not know a single person that is happy after they made the switch. So now I am very afraid. I may have to make a decision or move sooner rather than later.

I created a test blog on the new blogger, and while it is not as bad as I have heard some people complain... it still looks half baked. Many things were added to catch up with everybody with some long overdue features (like labels), but none of it seems complete. Just slapped on with a "we can fix it later" sort of mentality.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Timing is everything

So far this year we have been very lucky. LatteGirl has (knocking on wood) been very healthy this year. She was even able to, for the first time in her life, cut her asthma medication dosage in half.

So naturally, it seems only fitting that she should wind up getting sick just a week before Christmas. I saw it coming. She was having meltdown (usually a sign she is tired) way earlier than usual the past couple of days, and I knew it was only a matter of time.

Of course she is not sick enough to get an anti-biotic script yet. Oh, no. We need to wait until she is full blown miserable before we can get the doctor to write one. Well, with a little luck, maybe she can kick it before the week is out.

A matter of perspective?

OK, somebody explain this to me. The headline of the story says, " US students believe the First Amendment guarantees too many rights!" However, it goes on to say 33% of students polled believe the First Amendment goes "too far" in guaranteeing freedom of speech, press, worship and assembly.

Now two things bother me about the article that appeared in USA Today (besides the fact that it is a USA Today article). First is, do these 33% of students realize that the very rights they use to express their opinon is allowed because of these rights that go "too far."

The second, is the simple fact that if 33% do believe it goes "too far" doesn't it mean that 66% DON'T, and since twice as many don't believe it than do... shouldn't that headline read, "US students DON'T believe the First Amendment guarantees too many right"?

Or am I missing something?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Helpful Reminder

If you still plan on buying Holiday Gifts online, for many (most? all?) today is the last day you can place an order and get it before Chistmas without having to mortgage your house for shipping charges.

Your welcome.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Saturday Blog Reader's Bonus

LatteGirl and I are baking chocolate chip cookies today. So, to make a typically light blogging day a bit more interesting, the first three (3) comments today requesting cookies will receive a care package of Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Update: Ok, I have 3... I think... but I am still in a giving spirit, so I will bump it to five (5).

Offer valid in the 50 States and Canada only. Offer may be expanded to include more commenters at the discretion of AoLM management. I do not put any nuts in my chocolate chip cookies, but my bakeware has been used for products that contain nuts and most of the products I use also carry that warning (Including a bag of cashews I bought... go figure), so if somebody in your household is allergic to nuts you may not wish to enter. Liars, cheats, theives, members of the Bush Administration and Employees of Faux News Channel (is that redundant?) and their immediate family are not eligible.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Non Sequitur Friday

Timing is everything sometimes. I happened by a newly opened Omaha Steak store the other night on my way home from work, and decided to splurge and get a few items to bring home. When I arrived home however, I found on the porch a huge white cooler. My Aunt decided to send us a huge "sampler" from... you guessed it... Omaha Steaks. So now there is no room in our freezer for anything. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. As problems go, this is not a bad one to have.

I am probably a little late with this but if you haven't seen the 2006 Year in Review from JibJab, then go watch Nuckin' Futs. Requires sound. Just too funny.

andrew michael baron of Rocketboom "fame" is clearly bitter that Amanda Congdon has a new gig, and probably more so that it is backed by ABC (meaning she is getting paid).

At first I thought it was just a little pathetic when I saw there would be a new installment in the Die Hard Series, but I guess if Sly Stallone can still make new Rocky movies, then Willis can still try to be an action hero cop... again.

If you are anything like me, you have tried to get a nice picture of Christmas lights (whether on your home or elsewhere) but have struggled. Well, here is how to do it.

On the more personal front LatteGirl and I are spending the night along, with popcorn and a marathon of the standard Holiday Classic Movies on DVD, right after we watch the Grinch on Cartoon Network. Apparently, she is quite excited that she is getting to watch it "on tv" making it apparently much more important than the 17.4 billion times we watched it on DVD.

What does your weekend have in store for you?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Picture Perfect Thursday XII - Come and see the show

If you could see me now
Originally uploaded by JayMonster.
Last year at this time I was mad as heck. Why? Because I was unable to attend LatteGirl's School Christmas pageant. Why? Because it was held at 10 o'clock in the morning!

When I arrived home from work, TheWife and LatteGirl were getting ready to leave, and quite dejected she said to me, "We are leaving to go to my Christmas pageant."

I told her that I knew that, and that I was going too. Her face lit up. She started cheering and jumping up and down. She was as thrilled that I was attending as I was.

I know it may be more convenient for the schools to hold these events during the day. But I think both the parent and the child miss out this way. OK, last year I thought that was the case. Now, after having missed a year, and knowing how thrilled I was to be able to see her this year. I KNOW this is the case.

I can't get last year back. But I know damn well, I am not going to ever miss another one.

Funny / Not Funny

Funny - Jib Jab is back with their newest video, the 2006 year in Review.

Not Funny - If you have looked at the prices on eBay you already know that the whole PS3 thing is completely out of hand. How Sony can be so late (a year after the Xbox 360 release), release it just before the Holidays and still have so few untils available is simply insane. But while they still have NO units to sell, the attempted (rather poorly since they have been found out already) to start a Viral Campaign with a "blogger" that promised to "spread the luv [sic] to those like j who want a psp! …consider us your own personal psp hype machine, here to help you wage a holiday assault on ur [sic] parents, girl, granny, boss—whoever—so they know what you really want.” Maybe if they spend a little more time in production they could actually have some units to sell. They full story from Next Generation is here.

Funny - I have often felt bad that apparently lawmakers in NJ are too dumb to be able to come up with a slogan for our State. First we paid an advertising agency, mind you the same braintrusts that were hired to come up with a new corporate image for the company that would be the merger of Sprint and Nextel, and came up with the incredibly duh, "Sprint-Nextel", we paid these idiots a quarter of a million dollars to come up with a slogan that was (rightly) rejected. They then decided to turn it into a contest and allow residents to come up with a slogan. Before they announced the winner, they hadn't bothered to check if it had been used before, and unveiled a "new" slogan that was actually old, so back to the drawingboard they go. But, I guess I should be relived that no slogan is better than THESE SLOGANS that other places have (read the comments for some additional "winners" as well).

Not Funny - Following up on the stupidity of the story from Waco, TX from yesterday, today I found this story about a teacher that rather than escort three students to the restrooms, instructed the students to urinate in a soda bottle. What almost made this story funny was that the school administration felt it necessary to explain that it was the teacher and not the students that were under investigation.

Picture Perfect Thursday will be around later (I hope).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I think the wrong person was suspended

A 4 year old child was given an "in-school suspension" for what was termed according to this article on MSNBC.COM:

"inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment" after he hugged the woman and he "rubbed his face in the chest of (the) female employee" on Nov. 10.

Now, maybe it is just me, but if you view anything done by a 4 year old to be "interpreted as sexual contact" then you need to have your head examined, because you have some serious issues. Thus it should be the teachers aide that "interpreted" this contact as "sexual" that needs to be removed from the equation. Could it be considered inappropriate? Sure. A child resting or pressing their head against the breasts of a woman that is not their mother could be interpreted that way, but I think I would be hard pressed to find a well adjusted mother that would consider that to be the case. "Natural" or "Instinctual" are words that would more likely come to mind. But Sexual? I think that aide needs some serious time with a therapist, because there are issues there that have nothing to do with a 4 year old.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Oh, they are singing a different tune now

When the Supreme Court ruling came down in Kelo v. City of New London, Real Estate Developers couldn't wait to start strong arming cities into forcing people out of their homes with the newly expanded powers of Eminent Domain.

Here in New Jersey, a recent State Supreme Court Decision stated that the municipalities could use the same powers of Eminent Domain in order to for Real Estate Developers to sell property in an effort to preserve open land. Is anybody surprised that the Developers Association is now upset? Seems they are not as happy when it is THEM that is having their lives ripped out from under them.

The case is "Mount Laurel Township v. Mipro Homes LLC.", No. A-85/86, Supreme Court of New Jersey. It will be interesting to see if they decide to try and appeal this further.

How dumb do you have to be?

It never fails to amaze me just how stupid people are at times. I of course have talked about this stupidity before, but it is usually teenagers, and we all know how clearly they think at times.

But now comes the story of a 35 year old man. Smart enough to be able to escape from prison and avoid detection since last June. Until that is, he started checking his Myspace Profile, consistently from a PA. Library, which enabled the police to track him down and capture him there.

Let's run down the stupidity shall we?

1. He used his real name.
2. He consistently checked it from the same location
3. He didn't think to use an anonymizing web site to mask himself at all.
4. He was facing auto theft charges when he escaped, he is now facing aggravated battery, burglary, auto theft and entering in auto charges plus I'm sure there are some charges for the escape itself on the books somewhere.

Perhaps it would be best if we kept him behind bars for a long time so that we can remove him from the gene pool.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Start a blog... please.

As I (and many others) often do, I was over visiting Busy Mom, and she had a post about those insipidly long, horrendously boring, "Family Christmas Letter".

I mean seriously, if you are going to attempt to keep people up to date on you and your family, start a blog. Write it down while it is still fresh in your mind, and share it... then.

Now, I will admit that I am quite imetuous, and may be overreacting a tad, but I have never quite understood them. (Can it really just be me?) If I really cared about you, I would have kept touch over the past year (or if you had followed the advise above you I would have read your blog) , so I would already know everything in the letter... if not, then what makes you think I am going to carve out the time to read about it now? Honestly.

On a separate Christmas "tradition" that people either love or hate... the "child" Christmas Card. Back when I was a single lad, I was never a big fan of the "Here is my kid as a Christmas card" thing. Then of course life happens, and suddenly I find myself having done nothing but use my child as a Christmas card. I started to ponder this again this year, and threw out some feelers to family members to get some input. I swear, I thought my mother was going to lose her mind at the thought of not getting a LatteGirl Christmas card. So once again we relented, and have the "Child Card."

So what do you think... or do? Do you turn your children into Christmas Cards every year? Is this just a cheap way out of sending some photos to family members (I read this somewhere, I just don't remember where)? Do you like GETTING them? (I admit, I now actually do enjoy receiving them, and seeing neices, nephews and friends kids growing up). What do you think?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Where I support an entire industry

I swear, every year I need to buy my entire collection of extension cords for the Holiday Lights all over again. It is my belief that there is an extension cord eating monster in my basement. That is the only possibility. Otherwise, by now I would have enough extension cords to light the entire town.

Two quote for the price of one

While waiting on line for Santa, LatteGirl had a notepad and pen. When asked by another child if that was her Christmas list, she replied, "No, I want to get Santa's autograph" (which I loved in itself but we were not done).

The other child turned to his father and said, "Now why didn't I think of that? Do you realize how much that would go for on eBay?"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Picture Perfect Thursday XI - Santa's Little Helper

Santa's Little Helper
Originally uploaded by JayMonster.
The magic of Christmas. Ever year as parents we work hard to keep that spirit alive in our children. We work to keep the belief in Santa Claus alive... if just "for one more year."

When this picture was taken back in 2004, it was a really special time. While LatteGirl had already shown an understanding of the holidays with the anticipation of toys. That was really as far as it went. But in 2004 it became more. The "anticipation" became palpable. Her thirst for information, first a bit concerning to me, because I was afraid she was "outgrowing" it already, was soon put at ease, as I discovered that simply more detailed information about the stories was really all she wanted. She also started to really understand the spirit of giving that year. That you got just as good a feeling (or in her case "almost as good") from giving as from receiving.

It was also that year that I learned something new. That as much as I was trying to keep it "alive" for her, she brought it all back for me. Christmas wasn't a chore, or a season to "survive" any longer. It wasn't about "dealing" with family. She had given me back the spirit of the holidays.

And now, a couple of years later, as I ponder once again if this will be the final year of Santa Claus "mystery", I wonder who I am more concerned about. Who am I trying to "save" Christmas for... her? Or me?

Because, now I feel like I am Santa Claus. Because after all isn't it the "job" of Santa Claus to spread joy? To Bring happiness? To Give? Well, I enjoy those aspects more now than I ever have. And I give her all the credit in the world. She is Santa's Little Helper. She helped MAKE me Santa Claus.

As parents we all have become Santa for our children. And if we can remember that, while the "belief" may fade, the characteristics that we learned through our children do not have to die. We can always be more cheerful, more giving, and more loving to others. And after all isn't that what the spirit of the season is all about?

Mother has boy arrested for Opening Christmas Present

When you were young did you ever try and find your Christmas presents early? C'mon be honest now. Now... did you ever think you would get arrested for finding one? Well, apparently if you are the son of Brandi Ervin from Columbia S.C. that is the case as boy is booked for Opening Christmas Present.

The mother stated she did it to teach her 12 year old son a lesson because he has already been having so many problems. OK, so you have a child with ADHD that medication is supposedly not helping (by her own account), who took a swing at a security guard, and has been suspended from school pending an expulsion hearing, and your idea to straighten him out is to have him locked up and give him a juvenile record? Granted the child was only charged with petty larceny, but that is still going to be brought up in his expulsion hearing at school. And if he gets expelled, then what?

Sometimes I just wish I had the ability to dissect the brains of these people to see if we could identify some sort of flaw that turns off the logic in a person's brain.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

No clear pattern... just thoughts

For those that thought the house in the picture was mine, I am sorry to say it is not. That is the house from Christmas Vacation, which by storyline is in Chicago, but in reality is somewhere in Colorado (explaining the existence of mountains in the background of some scenes in the relatively flat midwestern city.

GenBetween has a good article on Shopping for elders, with links to some other similar tips. Saved my butt this year.

What is it exactly about "San Francisco Values" that has the collective minds of conservatives and the nitwits at Faux News all freaked out? Is it the somewhat oxymoronic fact that the people of the City by the Bay hate judgemental people? Or is it maybe that people from San Francisco know that Almond, Champagne, Mocha and Salmon are colors as well as food? Or maybe they are mad because somebody from SF actually knows the difference between the colors of Almond and Champagne.

Why does Joe Barton hate autistic kids? And what were the people of Texas thinking when they re-elected him?

An 11-year old boy is currently hospitalized, but fortunately stable after battling e.Coli. Do you really need another reason to stop eating fast food? Although New York City has now banned trans-fats in all NYC restaurants.

OK, how embarrassed would you be, if it was your flatulence that was responsible for making your flight make an emergency landing. Perhaps next time she flies, she could check the Facts On Farts Web Site.

Have a friend that is Secular Progressive (besides me)? Want to get in the absolutely last word? Well then sign up so you can send him (or her) a Post-Rapture Message. Of course I hope it is a Secular Progressive running the site, otherwise who will be here to send the message?

When will these kids learn? If you are going to do something stupid, or (maybe even more importantly) illegal. Do not put it up on YouTube! The latest is a case in Norway where the Police were able to track down a Reckless driver that posted his antic on YouTube.

This of course is what happens when a 41 year old with ADD sits down to write a post, without having a clear plan ahead of time. So what have discovered in your world today?

Monday, December 04, 2006

25,000 Imported Italian Twinkle Lights

No, not really. But I do put up quite a few Christmas Lights, and TheWife every year draws the comparisons between me and Clark W. Griswald Jr. I spent 7 solid hours putting up lights, and such yesterday, and I am somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 finished.

Of course, if I had gotten to this last week, I would have been putting things up on a beautiful 60 degree day. But no, the rain got in the way. So this was the weekend for it. And of course the warm weather that has lingered here in the Northeast was nowhere to be found. Figures. It wasn't as bad in some years past where I needed to clear a spot in the snow to put the ladder up, but still, with the warm weather, my body was not quite ready for this cold.

The cold did help (I think) me finally getting into the Christmas spirit which has been somewhat lacking so far. Either that, or it was the fact that I finally made a pot of Starbucks Christmas Blend. In either case, it is finally starting to feel like Christmas.

The trip to the mall probably also helped. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I set foot in a mall at Christmas time for the first time in at least 4 years. Ever since my stint one year of working at Toys R Us at Christmas time, my desire to be any where near those kinds of crowds has been (I think deservedly) nil. But to be honest it really wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. Oh sure it was busy. But certainly didn't have that "can't take two steps without bumping into someone" feel to it. But I am not pushing my luck. No more malls this holiday season. Maybe one or two stores... the rest online.

So... how was your weekend?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Yet another Holiday TV/Video Post

Yes, BusyMom already covered how kids today rarely if ever will know the anticipation of waiting for a Holiday Special coming on Television. Mr. Big Dubya has already pointed out the insanity that TNT had How The Grinch Stole Christmas showing back on November 11th. And the ever thoughtful crouching mommy, hidden laundry has led the way to finding a list of all this years Holiday Movie Showing. So what is there left to talk about?

Well, being the oddball that I am, besides the standard Classics, of The Grich, Merry Christmas Charlie Brown, and others, every year I have a selection of less that Classic...uh... Classics that I like to sit down and watch. Some you may know... most probably, but may not be the ones you think about pulling out of the Video Cabinet, or have just long forgotten about. So I thought I would share this set with you... if only to go down memory lane.

An American Christmas Carol (1979) - this is my favorite alternative variation of the true classic. It was a made for TV movie back in 1979, and only once have I seen it on Television again, so I was thrilled when it finally came to VHS (and now of course DVD). Thanks to its placement in the Depression Era, it is as timeless as the original, and I think it never really fared all that well because back in 1979, everybody was still viewing Henry Winkler as Fonzie and had trouble seeing him as the lead character. It is a truely inspired and well written variation that I enjoy as much now as I did when I first saw it.

The Ref (1994) - Going to the other end of the spectrum, when I need a bit of levity, there are two movies I watch. This is one of them. To be honest, I am not crazy about Denis Leary as a stand up comic, so originally I had my reservations about this film. But between him, Kevin Spacey and an excellent ensemble cast, this movie is funny from beginning to end.

Christmas Vacation ( 1989) - This one I am sure the most people will know, remember, or even potentially still watch this one out of my list. It is stupid, sometime quite predictable, brainless and downright hysterical. Beside all the standard Chevy Chase slapstick, in virtually each and every character, you can almost certainly recognize a particular family member or at least friend that you can associate them with. My wife to this day, when I go to put the Christmas lights outside the house says something along the lines of, "There he goes with his 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights."

Home for the Holidays (1995) - Technically, I guess this is also a Comedy, albeit more of a Dark Comedy, especially when compared with my previous selections. But that doesn't mean it is any less of a funny movie, just that this one makes you think a bit more, and has some more serious momments in it. Again, you can almost always find a member of your own family that fits each of the characters in the movie, and I admit that probably is what really makes it fun for me. Oh yeah, there is Uncle So and So, and she is just like Aunt AbsentMinded. This is actually a Thanksgiving movie and not technically a Christmas movie, and before I started to host Thanksgiving Dinner at my house, I used to watch it religiously on Thanksgiving night. Now it has to wait... but it is still certainly one of my holiday favorites.

Miracle on 34th Street (1994) - Now I know what you are thinking. Why is this on the list? This certainly qualifies as a classic. But... BUT, look at the year. I am one of the very few (sometimes I feel like the only one), people that like THIS version of the film, with Dylan McDermott, Elizabeth Perkins, Richard Attenbourough and Mara Wilson much better than the original. I am not one that usually likes a remake, but I really enjoy this classic updated and in color. Mara Wilson is just fun to watch as Susan Walker as she comes to believe in Santa.

I will also give an honorable Mention to Jingle All the Way (1996), and The Family Man (2000) but then I am flirting with more mainstream popular movies.

So do you have any out of the ordinary movie you like to watch or offbeat traditions for to get you through the holidays?

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