The Wife and I have been watching Game of Thrones, now that we can watch HBO without a cable subscription thanks to the HBONow app.(1) One of the things that gets me about Westeros is how each family has its own banner and it own words:

House Stark


Winter is coming

House Lannister


Hear me roar

House Baratheon


Ours is the fury

You get the idea.

This set me to wonder: What would be House Butler’s sigil? What would be our words?

OSUThe first question depends on which of us developed it. If my mother and/or brother chose our sigil, it would probably be the OSU banner. If my sister and/or I chose, it would probably be the metal/devil horns on a field of black. If my dad chose…I have no idea.

But the words of House Butler are easy. It’s a lessen drilled into us at every turn from a very young age. Dad says it with the same grim tone as Ned Stark says his House’s words, with a mixture of foreknowledge and warning that would be dangerous to ignore. I don’t know why this is so important a thing, but I also don’t know the consequences to violating it…because I never have. Such it their import, such is their weight.

We do not mow on Sunday

Silly as it might be – and some House words are rather silly sounding – I’m sure those would be our words.

  1. We cancelled Netflix to cover the cost of the HBONow app, which makes us like the only American household without a Netflix subscription.

breaking bald

In time, I will be bald.

This fact was first driven into my consciousness when I learned that the genetic marker for baldness is carried on the mother’s genes. I looked around at my grandpa and my uncles, some of whom were quite young at the time, and saw about enough hair to cover the heads of maybe two or three small birds. The writing was on the skull.

Then, sometime during my early twenties, I could no longer lie to myself about what other people called my “receding hairline” and I called “localized forehead expansion.” A few years later, I realized I was leaving enough hair behind on my pillow night after night to create a whole new cast of Muppets.

Sigh. So yeah, I’d say I’ve been pretty much hip to my impending baldness for a solid decade now. And I don’t really care. I see lots of guys who’ve shaved their heads so they can tell themselves that they’re not bald. Especially since Breaking Bad made it so cool:

We are the heads who shave!

The hair stylist could only work part time.

However, I’ve committed to balding gracefully.

But…there are times…

Bo's Bald Head

Stupid little sticking-up hairs…

These stupid hairs hanging on for dear life are the kind of thing that’d make a man blow-up a wheelchair-ridden mob boss. It’s not just that they won’t give up the ghost, it’s that they insist on exactly one configuration: standing straight up. If I don’t keep my hair super-short, I always look like I’m about ten minutes past the last time I stuck my finger in a light socket. They are insane, degenerate pieces of filth, and they deserve to die.

I guess what I mean is: I’ve accepted that I’ll be bald one day, but I can’t take this process of balding. When they’re gone, their death will satisfy me. Until then, they’d better tread lightly. Or like, lie down or something.


In a house with ten cats, there are many things you always have “help” with. With some things, this so-called “help” makes the task impossible, such as tying your shoes, changing guitar strings, and returning to the sofa with your seat still vacated. With others, the task is merely more cumbersome, such as doing laundry, rolling over in your sleep, and pooping.

Many things, though, can still be accomplished, albeit under certain conditions. Meal times at our house are a careful balance of eating your food, shooing cats away, and never leaving your plate unattended.(1) It’s not too bad…when Ash and I eat together. When it’s me vs. ten cats,(2) I have to get a little crafty.

I usually eat breakfast before waking Ashley up, so I’m on my own for the first meal of the day. I combat this by feeding the cats right before I eat. This work pretty well…except for Chirpet.



Chirpet “hides” behind my iPad as I read the news. Most cats I know won’t really touch anything made from grains, but Chirpet loves toast.  If I don’t pay attention, she’ll run off with an entire slice. Over the past few week I’ve given in and started tearing off little pieces for her. It’s already something of a ritual, and I kind of enjoy it the way normal people maybe enjoy having breakfast with their kid.

But so okay. I told you all of that just do get to this:

This morning, as Chirpet and I shared some toast, I suddenly thought of something I hadn’t thought of in a long time. And so, O Faithful Reader(s), I present you: Toast.

The first time I heard this I laughed so hard I nearly drove into a wall. So if you’re reading this whilst driving, please pull over until the video had stopped.


  1. One of the kittens, Tolkien, actually stole a huge chunk of chicken right out of Ashley’s bowl of chicken and dumplings. But the amazing part was how he managed to eat over half of it while running away from me and from the other cats.
  2. Six of which are the most stubborn, entitled kittens you’ve ever met.


Now that Ashley has begun the first of her two summer internships, there are a few things I’ve had to adjust to. The most notable of these is that, most of the time, I’m alone in a house with ten friggin’ cats! Seriously? If I don’t show up to work one day look for my body parts in the litter box.

Another thing is that she’s gone most evenings. When the person you speak to more than anyone else on the planet is suddenly not around as much, you notice. Like the other day. I had to watch our neighbors go through a break-up-and-move-out right in the middle of our shared driveway, and I had to watch this all by myself. As I sat there, peeking through the blinds in the bathroom, all I could think was how much more fun it would have been if Ashley’d been there peeking through the blinds with me. I imagine it felt something like when James Cameron watches his old home movies in regular old 2D: the experience was good, sure, but lacking something indefinable.

Everything is quiet all the time. That’s another thing. Though I’m sure my family will remember back when my brother and I used to make like we were Def Leppard jamming in our bedroom, it turns out I just don’t tend to make a whole lot of noise. I’m not the kind of person to leave the TV on. I might play some tunes, but I do it through headphones because my headphones sound better. Otherwise, reading and typing on the computer’s about as noisy as it gets. I would be shushing monks and librarians, is what I’m saying.

But without a doubt the oddest thing is being on the receiving end of text messages from someone working in the field of organ transplantation. Yesterday, for example, was this:

Going to surgery at 3!!

Now, I can imagine that there are some people excited about going to surgery. People finally undergoing gender-reconstructive surgery, for example, are probably excited about it. Nervous, but excited. But you have to remember that when Ashley talks about going to surgery, she means standing by while doctors removing organs from deceased patients.

So to me her text reads like this:

Me and a bunch of people at work are going to stand in a room with a dead guy at 3!!

Few will argue the necessity of organ transplantation more ardently than I; yet, it’s a good thing that she wasn’t around to see my face when I read her message. To see the courage it took to text her back with an equal number of exclamation points.

Today we had the following exchange:

Me: Our flight is booked.
Ash: Nice. In OR now. Heart is about to come out.

See? It’s already weird as hell. All I can picture is that dude from Temple of Doom being like some team-building-exercise leader.

“And so now I’m just going to let myself fall back and you’ll all catch me. It’s about trust, people.”

To continue:

Me: You’re texting me from the OR?
Ash: Yep.
Me: That seems odd…is that odd?
Ash: No. I’m not sterile so I’m not gloved and we have our phones to keep in contact with the office.

Well okay sure. When you put it like this it makes sense. So I figured since texting is okay in the office, why not sexting? Maybe it’s not the best idea, but few things work better to get me used to something than being just plain silly about it.

Me: Oh. Well then. What’re ya wearin’?
Ash: Scrubs lol.
Me: Oooh. Yeah baby. Papa like.

See? Getting into it a little bit. Trying to work my mojo just a touch. But then this:

Ash: Lungs are about to come out.

And we’re done.

Turns out I can’t have a conversation, salacious or otherwise, while I know that organs are being removed in the relatively near vicinity of my fellow conversationist. I never knew that about myself, so I guess there’s just one more thing to get use to.

what i learned from the (real) three stooges

Like many other things I still enjoy today, my love of The Three Stooges was passed down to me from my dad. My brother, sister and I are probably among a very select group of thirty-somethings who can – and do – quote Stooges shorts at length. We had a videocassette – made by a friend of mine from his uncle’s rather prodigious LaserDisc collection(1) – that was about six hours of Stooges shorts that we would gather around in the way that other families might gather around Little House on the Prairie or Lassie.(2)

I learned a lot from the Stooges over the years, which is why I will not be going to see the new movie. Let me put it this way: think back to your favorite teacher in school. Now imagine learning that same material from someone else after you’ve already learned it from him or her.


Before we get to what I’ve learned, though, let’s address something: When people talk about The Three Stooges – especially in their classic configuration of Larry, Curly and Moe – they mostly talk about the so-called violence. Let’s skip over the part in which, in our post-Tarantino world, we really have no right to talk about excessive violence of any other time or medium. Instead, let’s remember that the Stooges started in the 1920s as a vaudeville act(3) and, typical of such, physical comedy was a large component of the act. In fact, performing comedy on a stage for a large audience almost requires physical comedy, and, like anything performed on stage, also requires exaggeration. So the comedy was not only physical, but by nature of the vaudeville medium, was excessively so. Once you take that act and train a camera on it, it will most certainly seem to shift from physical comedy to violence. But it is not violence; it is merely physical comedy.

There’s so much more I learned from The Three Stooges, things so important to me that they inform my everyday choices. And so important that I was honestly shocked when I first heard people talk about the violence of Stooges shorts. I thought, “That’s what you take away from the Stooges? How sad for you.”

Here’s what I learned from The Three Stooges.

Lesson One: Silliness in the Face of Reality

This video a about four minutes long, but you only need to watch the first twenty seconds of it to get my point.

I learned from Curly a lesson that would be reinforced years later first by Roger Rabbit and then by our current comedic geniuses Paul Rudd and Will Farrell: never – never – underestimate the importance of being just plain silly. In the clip above, when the waiter sets the bottle in front of Curly, it’s not enough for Curly just to open it and enjoy the drink. First he has to express his surprise, and then he has to do one of his trademark handjives. There is no reason for it whatsoever. Its only purpose is simple silliness. Curly, the character, is not trying to impress anyone. Instead, he is merely expressing the joy he feels as he’s about to enjoy a tasty cold beverage. It’s a beautiful moment, and reminds me of Ashley, who actually does something I call her ‘happy food dance’ just because she’s excited to eat whatever we’re about to eat for dinner. Which, if you’re paying attention, means that yes, there is something of my love for Curly in my love for Ashley.

Lesson Two: Honesty in the Face of Calamity

Skip to about minute 2:15 and watch until about 2:40 of this video.

Curly is just about the goofiest, clumsiest, weirdest person ever. He is overweight, shaves his head, and has what some would think is an annoying voice. He views barking at inanimate objects as a valid strategy to best them in a fight. He gets into fights with inanimate objects. And often loses. Nevertheless, he doesn’t pass up the chance to flirt with the nurse. And even when that doesn’t go as planned, and even after he looks ridiculous in a gas mask, he still thinks a pretty woman might be interested in him and doesn’t hesitate to let her know that he would be equally interested. It’s neither arrogance or ignorance. It’s simple honesty. It’s “This is who I am; if you’re cool with that I’m cool with you.” If only everyone could be like that – goofy or otherwise – the world’s collective pulse rate would be much, much lower.

Lesson Three: Witty Wordplay in the Face of Adversity

This clip’s only about a minute long and you’ll need to watch the whole thing. Also, I like that the person who posted says it’s his or her favorite Stooges moment ever. It’s pretty high on my list, too.

I have no idea where Moe and Larry got their press badges, but it’s pretty obvious that Curly yanked his Pull lever from a toilet. Why didn’t he grab a press badge from wherever Moe and Larry got theirs? You might think that maybe they could only find two. I like to think that Curly just wanted to be goofy, but at the same time to kind of stick to the man in his own silly way. He might have been able to hold the lever up and still say “Press” and maybe get away with it. But instead he actually says “Pull” and then makes sure the guy knows he’s being put on. Awesome. If you’re going to make fun of the establishment, make sure they know you’re making fun of them. Then run like hell.

Lesson Four: Follow Directions, Even When You Don’t Know What’s Going On.

This is the longest clip I’ll foist upon you. This is from what might be my favorite Stooges short, so I’d encourage you to watch the whole thing. But you really only need to watch from about :15 to about the 1:00 mark.

When Larry tells Curly to shave some ice, Curly has no idea that he wants him to chip off slivers of ice so they can make a dessert called, appropriately, shaved ice. Nevertheless, Curly follows the directions as he understands them. In fact, Moe is doing exactly the same thing. In this short, they’ve been promised money if they can prepare a birthday dinner, and prepare a birthday dinner they shall. The fact that they don’t know what they’re doing doesn’t matter. If you watched the whole clip, you’ll see more evidence of this. (I particularly like how Curly dices the potatoes and even pretends he got a lucky roll.) This notion got me first through algebra, then geometry. I had no idea how any of it worked, but I followed instructions and got As and Bs. It has gotten me through far more adverse situations as well, the idea being that if you pretend you know what you’re doing, people will assume you know what you’re doing. Hopefully at some point you figure out what you’re doing – which of course the Stooges rarely do. But if you don’t, just follow instructions to the best of your understanding. And for God’s sake, if you’re told to shave some ice, make sure you make conversation with the ice. Otherwise you’re just being rude.

  1. LaserDiscs were these LP-sized video discs that were just terrible to watch. If a person sneezed like two towns over the disc would skip. Imagine listening to a record player in the car whilst driving down a recently firebombed street. They were that bad. You know how some people say that vinyl provides a better listening experience than CDs or MP3s or anything else? No one has ever said anything similar about LaserDiscs. No one. Ever.
  2. My brother and I have a shared experience in which, some time after we moved out of our parents’ house, we learned that not everyone was raised on the Stooges. He once talked about quoting lines from a short and no one knowing what he was talking about. It happened to me, too. Still does, in fact.
  3. They were originally called Ted Healy and His Stooges.


I saw this in the restroom at a local grocery store.

Forget that obviously I’m the type of person who will take pictures of things in the restroom.

Forget about the excellent punctuation in the title line.

Forget about the toilet saving water. And potentially the planet. Forget about how cool it is that such things even exist.

Focus instead on how awesome it is that whoever came up with this little instruction panel relegated the more ‘grown-up’ term to the parenthetical and used the same bathroom code familiar to anyone above the age of three.

How awesome is that?

I urge the makers of signs to make more signs like this. Bump Ahead? How about just Owies! Watch for Children? Gone. Now it’s Don’t be a Doodiehead. School Crossing would be Stop, Look and Listen.

Every McDonald’s sign would be changed to Noms. Ice cream parlors would be Yummies. Hotels would be Night-Nights and the doctor’s office would be No Mommy Please!

Forget international sign standards. Let’s make them Three-Year-Old Sign Thingys.

souvies & momies

Ashley:  (Delirious with joy at various wedding details that shall heretofore go unnamed.) “It’ll be like a souvie.”

Me: “Uhm…”

Ashley: “For our wedding.”

Me: “Okay. But souvie implies that you go somewhere, buy something, and bring it back.”

Ashley: “Well it’s still a souvie.”

Me: “And souvie? Can we call it a souvenir? And I think the word you want is memento.”

Ashley: “Yeah!…Momies!”

And she’s right…I really should have seen that coming.