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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Cageball, Poker, and the Atomic Wedgie – Take 2

The original artwork that I created in Microsoft Word. Hard to believe, huh?

Cageball, Poker, and the Atomic Wedgie: A Tale of Catholic School Mischief started out as my senior project in college. Over the next few years, in order to pass the hours of various mind-numbing jobs – administrative assistant, pricing coordinator, industrial cement inside sales (seriously) – I worked on the book until deciding to go the pay-to-publish route in 2003.

Over the next few years I managed to sell around 3,000 copies on my own, forcing them on my friends and relatives, people at weddings, my coworkers, the cashier in the grocery store, etc. I even sold a book to a man in Australia, who said he found it online while he was Googling “wedgies.”

As the years passed and I honed my writing skills (as evident here), I cringed anytime I glanced at the book, which included dozens of typos. Recently I revised Cageball, eliminating most of the typos (hopefully) and restyling from one long story into a collection of stories, which you can now download for free as a PDF ebook.

I hope you enjoy it!

PS: Please don’t tell me if you find any typos.

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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Break Me Off a Piece of That…Piece of Wood!

Mmmmm...wood!

“Hey, Val…this just fell out of the fridge, and…”

I look up from my laptop to see Cassie holding what my mind immediately identifies as a Kit-Kat bar. So, naturally, before my wife can even finish her sentence, I snatch the chocolate-coated wafer and pop it into my mouth.

Instantly I realize something is wrong, and not just from the look of shock on my wife’s face.

What I have mindlessly tossed into my mouth is not, in fact, a Kit Kat bar but rather a dry, splintery piece of wood.

As Cassie drops to the ground in laughter, I remove the now saliva-covered piece of wood from my mouth and recognize it immediately.

Days before it had fallen off one of our old chairs. And since I am a writer, i.e, one who is without any other practical skills, I put the piece of wood on top of the refrigerator, which in our home also serves as The Place To Put Things When You Want To Forget About Them. It’s a real hodge-podge up there.

Well, apparently the opening and closing of the refrigerator doors caused enough vibration to make the piece of wood fall off, where it ended up first in my wife’s hand and then, moments later, clamped snugly between my molars.

After composing herself, Cassie asks me why in the world I would just blindly toss something into my mouth like that. I explain that I heard her say “fridge,” and then I saw what to me certainly appeared to be a Kit-Kat. And for a man, it doesn’t take much more than that. That’s just how our minds work. We aren’t much different than animals, really. We see food; we eat food—it’s that simple.

Even if the “food” is actually a decades-old piece of pine.

My wife is always telling me that I don’t listen to her; that I never hear a word she says. But that’s not true. Men can’t handle lot of detail, i.e., 95% of the other words in the sentences you speak to us. Therefore we just zone in on the key words. I heard her say “Val,” which grabbed my attention because it happens to be my name. And then I heard her say “fridge,” which also sparked my interest, because that’s where we keep most of our food. At that point my eyes took over, temporarily shutting off my hearing in order to notify my brain that there was a delicious piece of chocolate within my vicinity (even our nervous systems are incapable of multi-tasking). My brain then sent a message via my synapses to my hand, instructing it to grab said Kit Kat and toss it into my mouth.

So you see, I really had no control in the matter. It was millions of years of evolution in action.

So what did we learn here? Well, for one, I learned that maybe I should pay more attention to what my wife is saying. Nothing new there.

Two, it is never wise to toss anything into your mouth before first making sure that it is actually a piece of food. Think about it…it could have been one of my kids’ LEGOs or maybe even a cyanide pill disguised as a Good & Plenty. Of course, that’s just silly. My wife would never give me a Good & Plenty.

And last but not least, I learned that I may have an unhealthy and involuntary proclivity for Kit Kat bars.

But deep down I think I’ve known that all along.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Craft From Hell

What it's supposed to look like

“You guys wanna do a craft?!” my wife says to the kids, just as we finish up another exhausting family dinner.

My children, who, for the last hour or so, have been whining and complaining about their food as if it were cough-syrup-covered cockroaches, suddenly spring to life and yell out in joyous approval.

“YAY! A CRAFT!!!”

Since I already made a date with the sofa, I am stunned and saddened by this unexpected turn of events. Cassie is quite familiar with my facial expressions, and she senses my lack of enthusiasm. “Oh, com’on,” she says. “It will be fun!”

Fun? Happy hour is fun. Going to the movies-—fun. Embarking on a complicated construction project with a rambunctious 2-year-old and a 4-year-old drama queen…yeah, sounds like a real hoot.

Apparently my wife found a craft in Disney’s FamilyFun Magazine and then downloaded the directions online. The final product was to be an elaborate cardboard tree house, “perfect for nature-loving peg dolls and fairies,” according to the description on the magazine’s site. Personally, I’ve never met a “nature-loving peg doll” and/or fairy.

But then again I’m sort of a homebody.

The craft looks simple enough – an obvious red flag – and so I decide to play along. As I go down to the basement to get some cardboard boxes for cutting, my wife and the kids clear the table to make room for some serious crafting fun!

The Devastation

Fifteen minutes into the project, my hand is already cramping from cutting the four long cardboard pieces for the trunk of the tree house. I’m a writer, for cryin’ out loud; I’m not used to this type of physical labor. It’s also around this time that my daughter decides that she’s had enough “fun” and leaves to go play with some real, already assembled, store-bought toys. My son is nowhere to be found. He was out before we even started cutting. Smart kid.

An hour in, we are still nowhere near completion, and my dining room looks like the inside of a dumpster. Then, as we try to start assembling the tree house, we realize that we cut out the main trunk pieces backwards, so now they won’t fit together properly. The only way they actually fit together makes the tree house look more like a sorry excuse for a rocket ship.

“YEAH!” says my daughter, her interest in the project renewed. “A rocket ship!” So now we’re building the world’s very first wood-paneled rocket ship.

The Finished Product

By the time we finally finish – over two hours later – it’s way past the kids’ bedtime, my right hand has become a useless claw, and our tree house/rocket ship, which is held together with duct tape, looks neither like a tree house nor a rocket ship. But no matter, because the kids love it. That is, they love it for the remaining 15 minutes they’re awake. After that night, they never actually play with the cardboard monstrosity again.

We keep the deformed tree house/rocket ship around the house for a couple more weeks, solely out of principle, occasionally patching it with more duct tape as needed. After all, I sacrificed over two hours of my life making that damned thing.

And I have the claw-hand to prove it.

Finally, unable to bear the sight of it any longer, I take the Craft from Hell out behind the woodshed and put it out of its misery. Hopefully my wife will remember this little crafting catastrophe and not subject us to similar “fun” projects in the future.

Rest in peace, deformed cardboard tree house/rocket ship. We barely knew ye.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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