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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Am I the only one who, whenever he sees that UPS commercial with the guy drawing all over an imaginary whiteboard, wants to put that guy in a headlock and cut his hair?

posted by Woodlief | link | (8) comments

Friday, April 4, 2008

I Saw What I Saw

My new friend Greg sent me this video. You can see him in what to me is the most touching part. And if you haven't yet watched "Hotel Rwanda," tonight would be a good night, don't you think? Be sure to watch the documentary that is part of the DVD. It puts all of our petty complaints in perspective, and us in perspective as well, what the human race is capable of doing, and what a precious few of us have been spared.

posted by Woodlief | link | (3) comments

Thursday, April 3, 2008

But Sometimes Thou Shalt Bring the Smack

One of the nice side benefits of home-schooling, other than the occasional highly inappropriate parent-teacher conference, is that you get to deface the textbooks as you see fit. For example, Caleb is using a reading textbook that contains brief essays, and about which he has to answer questions. Recently the essay of the day was about bullying. "Dad," he asked, "what should I do if I get bullied?"

This is a common tactic for Caleb; he innocently asks for my parental advice, while keeping his reading book by his side, in hopes that I'll inadvertently answer one of the questions for him. His teacher has scolded me enough times, however, that I'm on to this trick. Even if I didn't care so much about his education, I would still have to listen to my son's teacher, because I have to sleep with the woman.

So I answered: "I don't know, son. What does your essay say you should do?"

Caleb scrutinized the essay, looking for clues. "Oh," he said. "If they call me a coward, I'm supposed to agree with them."

Now he had my attention. "Can I see that book?" He handed me the book. The essay explained that the best way to deal with bullies is to let them do what they want, and not fight back. If they call you names, laugh along with them. If they call you a coward, tell them they're right. Bullies like it when they're confronted, the essay explained.

"Give me your pencil," I said to Caleb. He handed it over. I crossed out a good quarter of the essay, leaving the parts about how bullies are disturbed and unhappy, and how it's important to tell adults when you're getting bullied.

"Why'd you cross those sentences out?"

"Because sometimes the best way to deal with a bully is to punch him in the nose as hard as you can, and to keep punching him until he falls down."


I know, I know, turn the other cheek, and all that. I'll get my sons started on pacifism once they're confident they can punch out the bully. Because unless you're willing to punch the bully, turning the other cheek isn't Christianity, it's cowardice.

posted by Woodlief | link | (12) comments

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

News by Osmosis: April, 2008

Several of you, like me, have forsaken the news as an irritant, but wrote to tell me that you appreciated my recent rundown of the U.S. presidential campaign. So as a public service, I'd like to offer my latest installment of News by Osmosis:

In election news, Barack Obama was discovered to be a member of the Evangelical Church of Farrakhan, but insists that he only mouthed the words during the hymns. Hillary Clinton's camp has also accused Obama of trying to prevent blacks from voting, due to his fear, no doubt, of the tremendous appeal that a privileged, uptight white woman has for African-American voters.

Clinton, meanwhile, reluctantly revealed that she was a Navy SEAL in Bosnia, where she and her daughter Chelsea took sniper fire while rescuing orphans — regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or sexual persuasion — from danger.

On the Republican side, John McCain has died of old age.

In local politics, New York governor Eliot Spitzer revealed that he's been patronizing hookers, but insisted that this was part of an elaborate sting operation directed against corrupt HMO executives, who are the real enemy here. The scrupulously ethical New York legislature is investigating whether Spitzer used public resources to underwrite his peccadilloes, and why he couldn't use interns like everyone else.

On the economic front, we are in the Great Depression II. From now on we have to call the first one Great Depression I, which means we'll have to change all the history books, which Paul Krugman believes is exactly the kind of stimulus we need to get the economy going. Both Depressions were caused by twelve years of Reaganomics, along with feckless 1960's-era liberal Democratic spending, which is always what happens when Republicans control Congress.

The War on Terror, meanwhile, is a catastrophic failure, and an unmitigated success. Everyone agrees that we should withdraw as soon as possible, so long as we stay the course.

In college sports, four teams are set to play for the NCAA men's national basketball championship in San Antonio. The NCAA wants you to know that all of the student-athletes on these teams are majoring in medicine or engineering, and quite possibly both, and that they are students first and foremost, and that it is these fine student-athletes who are the nation's future leaders. In related news, NCAA schools stand to rake in roughly 100 gazillion dollars this year from media and merchandising revenue, but the NCAA stresses that it wouldn't be fitting to share any of this with the student-athletes, who are, after all, students.

The Olympics, meanwhile, are set to begin in China, which is an open and free country where citizens are encouraged to make their voices heard, so long as they do it quietly and respectfully between the hours of 10:00pm and 10:05pm Beijing time. A few rabble-rousers have tried to disrupt the torch procession, but these are the same people who don't like McDonald's and waterboarding, and given that otherwise we'll be denied thirty-seven straight weeks of tae-kwon-do and ping-pong, they should all just stow it and let the games begin.

In professional baseball, all past players are drug-addled cheaters, but the current crop is squeaky clean.

Your local weather is crappy, with variable crappiness, and possible crap in the very near future. Unless you live in California, in which case the rest of us think you should go straight to hell.

Finally, our ombudsman reports that the major media outlets are unashamedly biased for and against each presidential candidate, which is exactly what we should expect from an unaccountable left-wing cabal of lock-step liberals wholly owned by conservative corporations. Only Fox News can be trusted to give us a fair and balanced argument for an end to universal suffrage and the reinstitution of slavery.

Thank you, and good night.

posted by Woodlief | link | (3) comments

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Land Spreading Out So Far and Wide

We've lived in our house with a For Sale sign in the front yard longer than we've lived without it. Yesterday we finally sold the thing, albeit not before getting dunned for a ridiculous neighborhood boondoggle, which I've already informed one HOA officer I fully intend to come back and egg once it's completed. It's the only way I see myself getting my money's worth.

But back to the house, which isn't ours any more, though we live in it for one more month via a rent-back deal with the new owner. He's an attorney, which gave me a queasy feeling, but he proved to be a decent enough fellow at the closing. We like the house very much, with its swimming pool and rounded castle walls. But somehow we settled on the conclusion that we aren't going to be the family who lives in a house like that amidst meticulously edged and fertilized lawns. The new owners will be that family, and I'm sure they'll be just fine, and the neighborhood gossips can now breathe a sigh of relief.

As for us, we've found a house on twenty wooded acres north of the city. It has a creek running through it, and a pond, and a basketball court, and the boys are beside themselves. There's also a garage/barn-type structure that is apparently a mechanic's dream, though all I noticed is that it has a corner office which will serve nicely as my writing haven. We've traded suburban for rural, and mortgage for mortgage, and somehow we're becoming country people, which when I say it makes me conjure Nellie Olsen's mocking voice.

Now there's just the small matter of moving our houseful of stuff without divorcing one another or accidentally leaving behind one of the children.

I wrote about the potential move a while back at World on the Web, and faithful reader Coneen Brace was so excited for us that she went to my Amazon Wishlist and sent me Frederick Buechner's The Sacred Journey, along with an album by the Hackensaw Boys: "Love What You Do."

I wanted to take the latter as a sign from God that I should quit right now and just work on the books I've been writing, but the Wife noted that it doesn't rightly count as a burning bush if I picked out the album myself and put it on my own Wishlist. Plus there's that new land to pay for, and the baby needs new shoes, and when you get right down to it, women are far more practical, as a general rule, which is why more of us aren't starving. But the point is, thank you Coneen, for both your generosity and your optimism, because there's a good many people who know me better, and who are taking private bets about what will do me in first, a chainsaw or an overturned tractor.

And you people know who you are.

So it's off to the country in the next few weeks. Fresh air (allergies). Clean country living (well water). Nature in all her splendor (poison ivy, snakes, the frogs my sons keep capturing). Man in his natural element (real men, anyway). Praise the Lord, and God help us.

posted by Woodlief | link | (9) comments

Monday, March 31, 2008

It Runs in the Family

My nine month-old beat me up this weekend. It was only for a moment, but in that brief time I was clearly on the defensive, and he bringing the pain. He didn't mean any harm, he just likes to get rambunctious. I think it's the influence of his three older brothers.

He was on my lap, trying his best to bite my nose, when next thing I knew he did this little baby judo move, slipped under my arm, and clamped down on my nipple.

This is the same nipple that Caleb once latched onto as a baby. I don't know what my sons find so alluring, or perhaps threatening, about this nipple. It is basically the same size, shape, and configuration as your average man-nipple, although much more abuse and it's likely to get deformed. I've got a mild case of cauliflower ear from my unaccomplished wrestling days; I know from whence I speak. This nipple never hurt anyone, but still it's been a target of abuse from my children. I'm thinking I'm going to start duct-taping it until they're all well beyond nursing age.

So there I was, with a baby clamped onto my nipple. And the thing is, you don't just yank his mouth away in that kind of situation. For one, he's a baby. I'm beginning to think he's impervious to pain and dissuasion, but still. Furthermore, that thing he's clamped onto? It's my nipple. If you're having trouble getting the point, I suggest you clamp a vise-grip on your own nipple, and then keep reading.

I began to negotiate the release of my nipple, which only made the boy giggle, because it involved my fingers under his chubby chin. That's when he pulled his second kung-fu move; he reached up and grabbed hold of my bottom lip.

I know a thing or two about fighting. I can name you several places to inflict inordinate pain on someone's body. In all my years of training, however, I never covered the bottom lip pull. Thumb to the underarm, yes. Fist to the temple, all over it. But this lip pull maneuver is still relatively new to me, even though his older brother used to do exactly the same thing.

Now, those of you with vise-grips on your nipples, imagine trying to dislodge your tender bits while your lip is being stretched to your belly button, and you get the picture. I fought him off, and I only talked for half an hour like I'd been injected with Novocain, but the fact remains that my baby beat me up. I knew the day would come when they would be tougher than me, but I always thought I would have a little more time.

posted by Woodlief | link | (7) comments