Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Time flies

This past week has been an eye opener for me. It seems the past five years have slipped by, mostly while waiting for the Dell Computer Repair Man who says he will be there tomorrow, but actually means "three years from Tuesday but you need to sit in your house and wait just in case" (but that's another story).
My first realization that time has flown in the past five years came when Nicole and Elizabeth the Lizard came home from school shopping. As I dug through the recipes, I inquired if all this money spent covered the Lizard's first year of college tuition. It didn't. Apparently it only covered the very basic supplies a school kid needs, even though MacGyver built flyable aircraft with fewer provisions.
The second realization came on Monday when Elizabeth was officially signed up for Kindergarten.
That went fast.
Our little girl is moving on to the next stage of her life, which I predict will be held mostly in the principal's office because she loves to talk. And talk. And talk. And then talk some more.
So forgive me if I dig into some old material this week, but three years back when she was just two I wrote a column about all the crazy things she said, and I want to reuse some of that material so the teachers, administrators, lunch ladies, custodians, coaches, and random delivery people at the school know what to expect.
Here it is:
About four months ago I started jotting down things our daughter, Elizabeth the Lizard, said out of the blue. Each one of the following nine quotes she honestly, truly, 100 percent said to us.
Number 9: One day we were driving down Highway 83 and a lady in a big station wagon passed us. Lizard asked me what was in the lady’s car and I felt like saying something stupid:
“17 bowling balls and a banana,” I told her.
“No Dad, she’s not having a picnic.”
Number 8: Lizard always helps me feed her goat, Floppy, but Floppy gets a little excited when we bring the feed bucket and tries to eat it out of the bucket before Lizard can pour it. One day Floppy was being particularly aggressive and almost knocked Elizabeth over as she tried to get the feed from the bucket to the trough. Lizard got very mad and yelled this at Floppy:
“The feed is for pouring, not eating Floppy!”
Number 7: I’m not going to set this one up any, but she told me this a couple weeks ago:
“Your feet are smelly because I haven’t combed them yet.”
Number 6: Nicole strapped Lizard into her car seat and then Nicole and I jumped in the front seats, started the car, and heard this from the back:
“When I get big I’ll drive the wheel and you and mommy will sit in the back seat.”
Number 5: The last Sunday morning of deer season:
“God doesn’t go deer hunting, Dad.”
I think her mother put her up to that one.
Number 4: I was so proud this week when Lizard said this. I could tell that she is not only my daughter, but thinks just like me.
We were in the house and I looked out the window and saw a nice big rooster walking past. I called Lizard over and showed her.
“A chicken!” she said.
“No sweetie, that is a pheasant.”
“You better shoot it Dad.”
Number 3: Lizard explained to Nicole’s mom the truth about the fertilizer on our garden.
“Is that manure on your mommy’s garden?”
“That is not manure. It is cow poop.”
Number 2: Elizabeth is running around the house with a paper cutout of Jesus on a stick that she made in Sunday school, when she sprints up to me sitting at my desk and says:
“Jesus wants to see you Dad.”
Number 1: Really, there is no explanation needed for this one, but let’s just say it was the end of cartoon watching for the day:
“I can’t hear the TV when you’re talking Dad.”
Anyway, I have got to run. I have pheasant in the frying pan and I think it is burning.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The year of Ewing

Some birthdays are big milestones. Every youth knows turning 18 means the courts can officially try them as adults. Turning 21 gives people the right to enter a bar and spend $7 on a drink that is worth about 85 cents. The 29th birthday is always a big one, and I have been told my grandma celebrated that birthday at least 25 consecutive years. Of course turning 40 means two things: First, you are now officially old and second, your kids, who are probably teenagers, think you are not only officially old, but officially lame, officially embarrassing, and officially dumber than they are. That is a lousy birthday.
But this past week I had a great birthday. I turned 33, which we officially deemed "The Year of Patrick Ewing" as the legendary Knicks big man wore number 33. Next year will be "The Year of Charles Oakley," but the following year I'm going to ignore my birthday altogether because I refuse to live through "The Year of Clarence Weatherspoon" considering at least 98 percent of his shot attempts were blocked and his teams always, well, sucked. He would have been better suited playing for the Milwaukee Brewers where sucking is expected and nobody attempts to block your at-bats, but if they do, you can simply take drugs like a dirty, dirty cheater (Ryan Braun) to make yourself better.
(That last sentence was in response to a column written in the Leader-News a couple weeks back by a Brewers fan that discussed Baron Davis, a former Knicks point guard who claimed to have seen an alien while in Las Vegas. I would simply counter anybody poking fun at that claim by saying if you have been to Las Vegas and NOT ran into an alien, you never left your hotel room.)
Anyway, to celebrate The Year of Ewing, we needed to do something big, something grand, something exciting, something we had never done before. So we loaded up the family in the Jeep and headed to Wing for a movie night.
You may not have realized it, but Wing has a movie theater. And it is awesome. Tickets are $5 for adults (our kids were free), popcorn is 75 cents (you read that right - 75 cents!) and  pop is 50 cents or a buck, depending on how big of a cup you want. We wanted the big cups. It was the Year of Ewing after all.
If you have not been to the Wing Theatre, it can best be described as a simple little building with crumbling steps out front and plain padded chairs lined up in front of old church pews on a hardwood floor. There is a chance the big screen at the Grand Theatre in Bismarck is bigger than the entire Wing Theatre, but then again you have to mortgage your house if you want popcorn while you watch the feature there.
On Sunday night they were playing Monsters University, which seemed like a great idea for a family film. At least until you consider the movie is all about monsters learning how to scare small children, which is why Dan the Broken Leg Man quickly moved from his seat onto my lap about 27 seconds into the movie. But the movie wasn't really that scary for the little guy, and I expect he will start sleeping again by the end of the week.
This was the first movie theater experience for both Elizabeth and Dan. Elizabeth was pretty confused by what was going to happen, especially since in the Wing Theatre the screen sits on a stage. She kept asking "When are the people dressed like monsters going to come out?" She was expected a full-blown Broadway theatric stage experience, but since most Broadway shows have a cast bigger than the population of Wing, that seemed unlikely to happen.
But when the lights went down and the movie came on (which Elizabeth realized once she got back from the first of many trips to the bathroom), the kids' eyes were locked in. I don't think Elizabeth blinked for an hour and a half. Dan snuggled into my lap while clutching his popcorn box. He basically forgot to eat popcorn for 90 minutes, but he never put it down.
When the movie ended a woman came out of the ticket booth and announced the winning ticket numbers for the evening. I checked out movie stubs and our numbers were not the winners, which is probably good because I have no idea what the prize was. There is at least a 50 percent chance the winner had to sweep the floor and stack the chairs.
On the drive home everybody agreed it was a great start to the Year of Ewing. And as we tucked the kids into bed, both of them still talking about the movie, I did what any good 33-year-old father would do. I told them I loved them and then, without hesitation, promised them the Knicks would win the title this coming year. It's what Patrick would have done.

By George

It was not very fair of me in last week's column to use the new royal baby to take a shot a the British peoples' poor dental practices. If I wanted to pick on those cheeky folks, it would have been better to have simply pointed out they eat foods horrible foods like "Tripe" and "Haggis" which are basically the parts of the cow and sheep that hotdog companies reject, their royal guards wear giant q-tips on their heads, or that they produce sitcoms so boring they get canceled by PBS.
I know this first hand from a month Nicole and I spent there during college studying Shakespeare. Yeah, we were nerds. No doubt about it. And my digestive system is still trying to heal itself 11 years later.
Regardless, I'm not here to pick on our British brethren (the same guys whose tea and crumpet butts we kicked back in 1776). I am writing today in an attempt to bring us closer. In a move that could only further strengthen the United States and England's relations, today Neu's Ramblings is presenting tips to Prince William and Princess Kate on raising their new baby boy. Mostly we will focus on what they should not do because it is easier not to do something than to actually do something. And I like easier.
Don't name the kid George. Every single headline in the British tabloids is going to say "By George!" whenever he accomplishes something or "Buy George" if he ever takes a bribe or "Bye George!" whenever he goes somewhere or "Bi-George" if, um, never mind.
Don't let the baby hang out at all hours of the night with Parliament. Those guys in the wigs get CRAZY.
Don't set expectations too high for the baby. For instance, tell the little one that he can grow up to be anything he wants, from a garbage man all the way up to and including (but only if he wants) the king of England. Pretend like you would prefer he be a garbage man.
Don't hock the crown jewels for anything less than genuine Pampers. 
Don't expose the baby to sunlight, don't get the baby wet, and don't feed the baby after midnight or he will turn into an evil monster. Wait, that might be the plot of Gremlins.
Don't let him drive around with James Bond. Even if 007 straps him into a government approved car seat, chances are it will not be a safe ride.
Don't tell him Jack the Ripper is dead. That way, when it comes time to potty train, you can tell him Jack the Ripper is looking for little kids who wet their pants. Problem solved.
Don't let the kid watch British sitcoms. It will depress him something terrible if (and this is a big IF) he is able to understand what the actors are saying. I don't care what anybody says: What they are speaking is not English.
 Don't tell little Baby George that you are going to a "Football game" and then make him sit through a soccer match. That's just cruel. He is going to want to see the Patriots play the 49ers.
Don't feed the kid British food. Ever.
Don't spend money on one of those baby monitors for the nursery. Instead, ask Scotland Yard to bug the room.
Don't just assume you can drop the little one off at Great-grandma's house whenever you need a night out. She is a little busy.
Don't tell him bedtime stories about his Great-great-great-great Aunt Mary Queen of Scotts. The beheading thing at the end might give him nightmares.
Don't use the Tower of London as the kid's Time-Out punishment spot. Even though that would be really, really sweet.
Finally, do buy the kid a toothbrush. Right away. Even before he has teeth. It can't hurt.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

73rd annual plagiarism column

We are in the dog days of summer. It seems the recent heat wave has the world slowed to a stop, and the only excitement revolves around the fact that two non-related people with good teeth in England are having a baby. That hasn't happened in better than 30 years.
In these days, my ideas for columns also slows down. I could write about the new royal baby, but the lame teeth joke in the previous paragraph was the only one I could come up with, so that would make a short column.
Instead, I'm falling back on an old gag: the comedy quotes column. This is something like the 73rd annual comedy quotes column I have plagiarized. So without further ado (I think we can all agree these has been enough ado in this column already), here we go.
When you enter a room, you have to kiss his ring. I don't mind, but he has it in his back pocket (Don Rickles).
My wife said to me, "I want to be cremated." I said, "How about Tuesday?" (Buddy Hackett).
There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? (Woody Allen)
They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad to realize that I'm going to miss mine by just a few days (Garrison Keillor).
I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day (Frank Sinatra).
I distrust camels and anyone else who can go a week without a drink (Joe Lewis).
I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, women, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself (Johnny Carson).
Why do people in ship mutinies always ask for "better treatment?" I'd ask for a pinball machine, because with all that rocking back and forth you'd probably be able to get a lot of free games (Jack Handy).
My parents didn't want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty and that's the law (Jerry Seinfeld).
Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for (Will Rogers).
All people are born alike except Republicans and Democrats (Groucho Marx).
I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again (Joan Rivers).
Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it's open to anybody who owns hideous clothing (Dave Barry).
When I was a boy the Dead Sea was only sick (George Burns).
I don't need you to remind me of my age. I have a bladder to do that for me (Stephen Fry).
What I find most disturbing about Valentine's Day is, look, I get that you have to have a holiday of love, but in the height of flu season, it makes no sense (Lewis Black).
My daughter wants to throw a stone at a bad man. I stop her from throwing, shaking my head and giving her a little slap. My disapproval is complete. You think: 'That's right, she shouldn't throw a stone even at a villain.' Then I hand her a brick to throw (W.C. Fields).
Women now have choices. They can be married, not married, have a job, not have a job, be married with children, unmarried with children. Men have the same choice we've always had: work or prison (Tim Allen).
I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, 'denigrate' means 'put down' (Bob Newhart).
My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said "Okay, you're ugly too" (Rodney Dangerfield).
My wife's gotten really lazy, or as she calls it, 'pregnant.' (Jim Gaffigan).
He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher. Or, as his wife would have it, an idiot (Douglas Adams).
And finally, just to tie it all together like a good writer who hasn't run out of ideas would do:
When you look at Prince Charles, don't you think that someone in the Royal family knew someone in the Royal family? (Robin Williams).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer: A Retrospect

Now that the 4th of July is done and gone and your eyebrows are just beginning to grow back after that Roman Candle incident, summer is pretty much over. Retail stores are setting up Christmas displays (the Back-to-School Sales ended back in March) and the Miami Dolphins have already been mathematically eliminated from the NFL Playoffs. About the only thing that has not taken place yet this summer is the Game and Fish running the deer lottery and giving out tags. Apparently they are not planning on getting around to that until mid November.
 It seems like a good time to look back at the summer that almost was here before it was gone with a brief multiple choice quiz to see how your season went.
1) For a vacation after the long winter, you went:
A) On a relaxing family vacation to the mountains.
B) To the islands on a cruise with your significant other.
C) To the emergency room. Several times.
2) The best book you picked up this summer was about:
A)  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
B) Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson.
C) Parole Handbook for the Newly Released by the State of North Dakota.
3) You took your boat out on the lake or river:
A) Five times.
B) Ten times.
C) Just once, and it is still out there somewhere.
4) This summer, you fired up your grill to:
A) Cook dozens of steaks to perfection for friends and family.
B) Mostly heat up hotdogs for the kids.
C) Attempt to collect on your homeowner's fire insurance.
 5) If neighbors were to describe your lawn, they would say:
A) It is neatly manicured.
B) There are a few dandelions growing, but nothing too bad.
C) I think there is a house in there somewhere.
6) After your best round of golf this summer, you:
A) Bought a round of drinks for everybody in the clubhouse.
B) Framed your scorecard.
C) Only had to pay to replace two broken windows and one guy's eyeglasses.
7) With the abundant rain and warm weather, your garden produced:
A) Some of the best lettuce and tomatoes ever.
B) Corn on the cob so sweet you would swear it was covered in sugar.
C) A couple funny looking plants that caused the local authorities to secure a search warrant.
8) The best movie you watched this summer was:
A) The Lone Ranger - A remake of the classic television show about a masked hero and his Native American sidekick set in the old west.
B) Despicable Me 2 - The sequel to animated hit Despicable Me where a charming villain adopts children and turns into a good guy.
C) Sharknado - A movie about a tornado filled with sharks. Seriously.
9) Your favorite sports team:
A) Spent the summer cutting guys who are in jail (Patriots).
B)  Spent the summer trying to convince MLB that its best player didn't take performance enhancing drugs (Yankees).
C) Spent the summer losing (Twins).
(Yeah, none of those options  were really very good. Just pretend you didn't answer that question.)
10) To stay in Baywatch type summer swimwear shape, you:
A) Spent time swimming laps at the pool.
B) Ran in several 5K races around the state.
C) Often, but not always, got your own drink out of the fridge instead of sending your kid for it.
Now, to score this quiz, if you answered A or B for most of these 10 questions, you had a spectacular summer. If you answered C to these questions, you are a completely normal human being, and, with good behavior, may be out of jail in time for summer 2014.