Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mission: SPACE - The day I almost died at Disneyworld.

I guess Disneyworld would have been a pretty cool place to die. At least Cathi would have had a great story to tell.

Mission: SPACE almost killed me that day. When I say it almost killed me, I mean just that: I was hanging by a thread, ready to become a stiff version of my former self. The Grim Reaper was sitting next to me, asking if I would be needing the complimentary motion sickness bag hanging over my head.

I almost got off the ride, crawled through the corridor into the gift shop, curled up in the corner, next to the $30 plush Goofies and the $8.00 lolipops and went the way of all flesh. Almost.

I should have known better.

Several people have been taken to local hospitals for chest pain and nausea after riding. Most who complained of these symptoms were over 55 years old. Two people have died after completing the ride, although due to pre-existing conditions - one, a 4-year-old boy, with an undiagnosed heart condition, and the other, a 49-year-old woman, from a stroke due to high blood pressure.

It could have been three. It SHOULD have been three. I closed my eyes and could see my beloved wife telling me that she would be okay, just walk toward the light, she would find another lover.

But death would not be taking me that day. I emitted an aura of Yospe bravery previously unseen by mankind. No, not during the Great Depression, the World Wars, and the Y2K bug has any Yospe shown the great bravery that I showed that day.

Warnings throughout the attraction caution that people who do not like enclosed spaces, spinning, or are prone to motion sickness should not ride. Signs also warn that the ride may cause nausea, headache, dizziness or disorientation, and that people prone to motion sickness, or who have a headache or an inner ear problem, or who have a history of migraines, vertigo or elevated anxiety also should not ride.

I refused to give up the ghost. I could feel my lungs crushing in on themselves. Sweat dripped from my brow as I gripped my control panel. Every fiber of my being seemed to become mushy, like the fiber in Malt-O-Meal, not the fiber in fiber-rich bread. That fiber would have been the fiber in my being BEFORE the ride.

The attraction exposes riders to forces up to 2.5G, more than twice the force of gravity at the earth's surface (effectively multiplying a rider's weight by 2.5). A few months after the ride's opening, motion sickness bags were added within easy reach of riders.

As the craft accelerated, I could feel the skin start to peel off my face. I like the skin on my face. This is probably my most favorite skin on my entire body. I began to wonder, is this really Disneyworld? Where are the cute, singing robotic animals?!

No one responded to my call for help. I cried louder. Could the ride operators not hear my plea for life? I wanted to live and my calls for living went unanswered.

Several people have been taken to local hospitals for chest pain and nausea after riding.

I glanced at Lincoln sitting next to me and his expression was one of fear. This was not Space Mountain or even Jet Star II. This was a Disney-ized torture chamber and we were the lab rats.

I could see Walt Disney hovering above my head, eerily laughing at my extreme anguish. Why was he laughing? And why was Neil Diamond rubbing his back? He hasn't even died yet. My hallucinations continued.

There are also signs which instruct the rider to keep their head flat against the headrest; if one ignores this, the centrifugal motion acting on one's head can cause undesirable effects such as dizziness and/or headaches, or possibly even more serious effects.

Our craft landed on Mars, my heart palpitating through my chest, no blood left in my face and the banana smoothie I had just eaten making it's way up my esophagus. If there would be a return trip to earth, there would also be a return trip for my banana smoothie to earth.

Also featured on the attraction are various labeled buttons and switches which the rider may play with but do nothing; they are only there to add to the realism aspect of the ride.

Trust me, there is not a button that stops this ride.

I held Lincoln's hand and whispered him a sweet goodbye. I told him that he was now the man of the family. I told him to tell his mom to remarry. She could do much better than me anyway. However, I am not sure he could hear me as it looked like he was about to pass out. I ask him about that day now and he just nods his head and says, "I don't want to talk about it dad." I don't want to bring any more harm on the poor boy.

At long last, there would be no return trip to Earth. The hatch doors opened and my harness released. I rolled out of my seat and onto the cold concrete floor. EPCOT had gripped my throat in it's cruel, cold hands and squeezed.

The nearest garbage can became the new home of my old smoothie. It did not taste as good the second time.

I grabbed Lincoln's hand and we headed to meet mommy. Much to my chagrin, she had not remarried or even dated during the time we were gone. I thanked her for her faithfulness and then fell into her arms, weeping with joy. I told her about the Grim Reaper sitting on my left, about the vision of her telling me to go toward the light and about Neil and Walt's torrid affair. I told her that she had to go on it just to see what it was like, but if she did not make it, I would not remarry.

I had escaped death that day. The ghosts of Disney would not be fetching my soul, for I wast brave and I wast a survivor.

Disneyworld, Day 5 & 6 - Disney's Animal Kingdom

The Animal Kingdom made our choice of Disneyworld over Disneyland worthwhile. We absolutely loved it for several reasons: It seemed much more laid back and definitely less crowded than the other parks. Not that the other parks were very crowded, but there were times at Animal Kingdom that we were completely alone. It was a very strange sensation to feel alone in an amusement park. Also, there was tons of stuff to see and do and there were more characters in this park to see, with no lines.

That being said, the lack of crowds certainly was not because the place has a lack of fun. We had heard that it would be a half day venture and that our kids would tire of it, but at the end of day one, we definitely wanted to go back for another.

Just to be clear, Animal Kingdom is one part zoo, one part rides and one part entertaining shows; all of which were just terrific.

Stuff we loved:

1. Expedition Everest - I believe that this is the best Disney rollercoaster ever made. Everything about it screams excitement and the effects throughout the ride are simply stunning. Never mind the fact that the entire track travels through a dazzling array of cliffs and crevices in a remarkable replica of Everest. My body could only handle two trips (do to the fact that I would have puked) but Lincoln and Cathi may have ridden ten times with very limited wait times.

2. Dinosaur - This is the ride that is designed much like the Indiana Jones ride, but with a dinosaur theme. Cathi liked it less than Indiana Jones but Lincoln and I liked it more. There are a couple points of the ride that - no matter how much you know that they are just mechanical dinosaurs - you get truly frightened.

3. The Tree Of Life - This is neither a ride or show - it's just a giant tree that sits in the middle of the park. Nevertheless, it is a legitimate awe inspiring attraction in it's own right. We walked around the tree twice, just looking at all of the animals that are intricately carved into the trunk. Around the base of the tree lies many animal enclosures, all very natural and scenic.

There are hundreds of animals carved into the trunk, branches and even roots of the tree. Underneath the tree is the attraction "It's a Bug's Life", which seems fitting. It's simply amazing.

4. The Kilimanjaro Safari - You see tons of animals, the jeep almost falls off a bridge and you get attacked by poachers. What's not to love? We went on this ride twice, but could have gone several more times as it seemed that we spotted new animals or the animals were doing new things every time we rode.

5. Festival of the Lion King - We were hesitant to even go to this show - it seemed as though we had seen our share of kiddie shows with puppets and braided girls throughout the week. This was not what we had imagined at all. This is a Circus Olay style show with acrobats, fire dancers and other cool crap. We were definitely glad we didn't pass this one up.

Side note: When my wife read this, she said that it is actually called "Cirque Du Soleil" and not "Circus Olay". All these years, I thought it was Circus Olay, and it really just some fancy french word that has nothing to do with circuses. The French suck.

Really, there was a ton of stuff we loved about this place, including all of the animals. As we wandered the park near closing time, it seemed as though we were the only ones there. (The park is only open from 9-5 and most people start leaving around 3:30 to go to the other parks that are open later) We happened to be walking through an exhibit that holds giant bats the size of monkeys. The boys found these bats fascinating as they crawled around and looked just like monkeys with big wings. We happened to be there while their animal handler was there, feeding them and cleaning their cage. We talked to her for quite some time (We were the only ones there) and she told us all about them. Very cool.

Stuff we hated:

There was not a lot, just one ride.

1. The spinning Wild Mouse - For some odd reason, they have this out-of-place ride in the middle of the park. There was no way I was going to go on a rollercoaster that also spins, so Cathi and Lincoln made the venture. They hated it.

2. Oh, and just like every other theme park in America, they have a round raft ride. This was the shortest one I have ever been on, but it does have one drop. It wasn't bad, but wasn't great either.

Overall, we loved this park and if there is one reason to choose Disneyworld over Disneyland it is the Animal Kingdom.

Finally, as we walked down the path, I happened to glance this lady hiding in the trees. Cathi and the boys walked right by her, without noticing her at all. I made them come back and look at her. She started pointing her long limbs at Calder and I think she completely creeped him out. Can you see her? You will definitely need to click on the picture to make it bigger.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Disneyworld, Day 3& 4 - The Magic Kingdom

Even though there is not an enormous Matterhorn, the Magic Kingdom is still magic. Apparently, the magic is not contained in a 1000-foot fiberglass fabricated mountain.

It’s important to note that technology has not advanced to the point of being able to contain magic with fiberglass.

We decided to visit the enchanted kingdom during what would likely be the two least crowded, enchanted days: Tuesday and Wednesday. Our choice was laced with enchanted wonderworking and joyous gaiety (phrases often heard in the Magic Kingdom).

In many ways, the Magic Kingdom is a lot like what I remember Disneyland to be as a kid. The People Mover is still there, as is the Carousel of Progress, the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, the Bear Country Jamboree and even the fort on the island was open.

However, this version of Disney’s magical place is missing a few things that Disneyland holds: The StorybookLand boats, the Alice In Wonderland ride, the aforementioned magical-less Matterhorn Bobsleds and the famed Indiana Jones ride (although there is a nearly identical ride at Animal Kingdom that I will touch on tomorrow).

Nevertheless, it was an enlivening couple days in the heart of Disneyworld.

Crap we liked:

1. Mickey’s Philharmagic – This attraction is not in Disneyland and it is the best 3D show I have ever seen Disney do. Better than Captain EO, better than Honey I Shrunk the Audience, better than A Bug’s Life, and yes… even better than The Muppet Show. We saw it twice, but definitely could have gone back a third time.

2. Space Mountain – I didn’t like it as much as the Disneyland version – it did not have the music and you sit single file rather than side by side – but it was still great. We rode it 5 or 6 times.

I should mention that Lincoln went on it once with his mom and he was wearing a birthday button with his name on it (even though his birthday was a week before). The girl that runs the ride took a liking to him and thought he was adorable, which of course, he is.

Anyway, he got off the ride and I had a child pass so we immediately rode it again. She noticed him on the ride and yells, “AGAIN LINCOLN? TWO TIMES IN A ROW?” Lincoln - with a grin on his face - just nods and off we go.

As we are getting off the ride, a Disney “cast member” approaches us and asks, “Do you want to go on it again?” Well, as a teacher I know that there are no stupid questions, but if you ask an 8 year old if he wants to go on Space Mountain again… that is a stupid question.

The cast member takes us up a secret hall (yes, Space Mountain has secret halls) and straight to the front of the line. Lincoln and I felt like movie stars – easily comparable to a young Frankie Muniz and a more handsome Orlando Bloom. Lincoln is then seated in the very front and me directly behind him.

Lincoln’s new girlfriend sees us and Lincoln tells her, “They told us to go on it again!” She replies, “LINCOLN!!! Yeah, I told them to!” Awesome. It could have been the highlight my trip.

So anyway, Lincoln may have broken a record by riding Space Mountain 3 times in 20 minutes.

3. Pirates of the Caribbean – Who doesn’t love this ride? This version takes about half the time as the Disneyland version, but that version is way too long anyway.

4. The Haunted Mansion – Much the same as the Disneyland version, but with a few added items. Calder spent most of the rest of the trip looking for and telling us about a ghost that was following us home.

5. Thunder Mountain Railroad – Identical to Disneyland, but maybe had an added bit of thunda'!

Crappy Stuff:

1. Stitches Great Escape – For some odd reason, there is a height requirement for this ride. I am still trying to figure that out. You sit down, a bar comes over your shoulders and then??? Nothing. A few odd sounds, Stitch laughs. You don’t move. It’s the stupidest concept Disney has ever had.

2. Toontown – I’m sorry - 3 houses is not a “town”. That is a polygamist compound. Not nearly as big or fun as the Disneyland version. Also, no Roger Rabbit ride to break down every 15 minutes and force you out of line was actually a plus.

3. The Tiki Room (Under New Management) – Call me a romantic traditionalist, but adding other Disney birds like Lago and Zazu. The new management sucks. I want the old birds back that sang words and the flowers that bloomed.

Dearest Airplane Jerk -

Dear Airplane Man,

I am not that smart a guy and I may not travel all that often, but I know the rules of the airplane armrest.

I don’t care if you are wearing tan suede sweatpants with matching suede jacket. That only impressed me a little bit.

At the very least, the armrest should be divided with an imaginary line down the middle. Half is yours, half mine.

I don’t care that your wife is sitting across the aisle and she is also wearing a brown sweat-suit outfit with classy, jumbo reading glasses hanging around her neck.

Don’t I, as the rudimentary sitter, have first claim to the armrest? My arm was on that rest long before you even sat down on your quaggy, brown pongee pockets.

I honestly don’t care that your glasses are so brazen and bulky that when I look to my left, I feel like I am underwater.

This is a four hour flight.

The armrest should not belong to someone who’s carry-on bag looks like this:

Forget the armrest. You can have the danged armrest. Please just stop jabbing me in the side. I have tender sides.

I could care less that you have an adorable miniature laptop that you are typing on. That does not impress me. The laptop does not make you important enough to jab me in my frail oblique externals.

I should have pushed that button next to that air blowing thingy and let that less-than-manly attendant give you the what-for and who-what. How would you have liked that?

I don’t care that you ordered a Finlandia Vodka and paid for it with a fifty dollar bill that you had in your “money clip”. Clearly, you are an important man, especially because you had to ask for the little straw.

After two hours, you forced my hand. I lifted up my other armrest and moved my body over to my son’s seat. Yeah, that showed you! In your face, Mister! It’s just too bad that my son asked me what I was doing and to please move back so that he could continue on – playing his Nintendo in peace. That really would have shown your sorry butt.

Seriously, why should I care that what you are writing on that little laptop is a forward to a book called, “How to Succeed in Life” and that your first four generically rueful bullet points are: How to make your money work for you. How to declutter your life. How to love problems. And How to Become your own Favorite Boss.?

I sat in the middle. The middle seat deserves both armrests.

If you are so successful, than why are you flying coach on Southwest? I will not be reading your book.

If you are so successful, than how is it that I can see 6 misspelled words on page one, including the word “sharring”?

So, Mr. Man with drunken wife – as we got off that plane, did you notice that stare I gave you? Yeah, I totally let you have it. My sides may be swollen and sore, but your ego has to be more swollen.

Yours truly,


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Disneyworld, day 2 & 7 - Hollywood Studios

I don't believe that Hollywood Studio is an actual working studio the way that Universal Studios is. Sure, they have a back lot tour, but I am still scratching my head to what the actual back lot was. Was it the back of the bleachers of the stunt show? Perhaps it was the pile of junk that the told us was "from movies" but were not clear which ones.

At any rate, Hollywood Studios had improved vastly since the last time I was there 13 years. There were many more rides, tons of shows and enough stuff to do to keep us occupied for 2 full days.

Stuff we really liked:

1. The Tower of Terror - This one trumps the Disneyland version as the elevator moves throughout the halls of the hotel rather than just moving up and down. The ride is anxiety and fear piled into one juice pop and there are a couple moments where you feel weightless. (Or at least Cathi and Lincoln felt weightless. I had eaten a double cheeseburger earlier that day) I rode this ride exactly once on account of my tendency to throw up after riding it, which I fortunately did not do this time. Cathi and Lincoln rode probably went on it 8 times.

2. Aerosmith's Rocking Rollercoaster - This coaster would be the best ride Lagoon has ever seen if it were outside. However, add the lasers, the dark indoors and the Aerosmith blaring in your ears and it becomes one of the best coasters I have ever ridden. What really amazed me was that I rode it three times and each time a different Aerosmith song played.

But really... I really hated the time that awful song, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" played. Ruined the whole ride.

3. Toy Story Mania - This ride is FUN. That is three capitals, and the word is only three letters long. Had the word been "exciting" I probably would have capitalized every letter in it as well. That would have been 8 capital letters and every capital would be worth it. I would not have used a word that was less than three letters because it would not have justified how fun it was and because who capitalizes a word with only two letters?

This one is exactly like the Disneyland version and we rode it probably 7 times. However, we did have to fast pass it several times as it was the most popular ride in all 4 parks. In fact, both mornings we got to the park very early and when they finally open the gates, 90% of the people run straight for this ride. Within 3 minutes the line is 45 minutes long. There were times that the line was 2 hours long, but we always fast passed it, so no biggie.

4. Car Stunt Show - It's a good thing we have two boys, because they want to go to stuff like this rather than waiting to meet Ariel in her Grotto of Sucktitude.

This show was actually quite cool. I know because not only did I get to watch it, but I was also shown the back of the bleachers in the "back lot tour".

5. The American Idol Experience - This was one of my favorite things we did the entire vacation. I could have watched this all day.

Here's how it works: Anyone entering the park can "audition", which I seriously contemplated doing. The "producers" then pick people from the auditions to perform in shows throughout the day. There are three contestants per show and their singing ability ranges from "okay, but at times really bad" (hilarious) to "halfway decent" (mildly amusing). The stage looks just like it does on the actual show and they have three judges: a big black guy, a women and an English guy.

The three contestants each sing their little ditties and then the audience gets to vote for the one that they liked the most. The winning contestant from each show comes back for the day's finale. The winner on the finale gets the ultimate prize... A fast pass the the front of the line at ANY real American Idol audition.

Now, this is all fun and good, but add to it the fact that the "warm up" guy was downright hilarious, it made for a rootin' tootin', rousing good time.

Calder said he was bored every time we went.

Stupid Stuff:

1. Did I mention that the back lot tour was a colossal piece of dung? 30 minutes in line to go about 200 yards in a figure 8 around a parking lot.

2. They had this new Narnia "ride" in which people lined up for because, well, it was Narnia. We were amongst the suckers that fell for this. We filed through the ropes into a round room in which we were shown a video preview of the upcoming movie. Now this was bad enough, but the fact that they made us STAND through it and it was 20 minutes long just made me angry.

A crummy commercial?!

3. Beauty and the Beast show - Every community theater, high school and Glee watching twerps have put on this production since Disney started allowing it a couple years ago. So, their OWN production IN DISNEYWORLD should stomp on all of them, right? You would think. Congratulations, Murray City Theater troupe - you out Disney'd Disney!

4. The Great Movie Ride - The only thing great about this ride was the ending. Well, that and the zero people in line.

5. The Pixar Street Party/Parade - Normally, we are not ones for parades. In fact, we avoid them like they were, well, parades. But there was no avoiding this one. It must have ran 4 times a day. The music was throbbingly agonizing, IE - "Celebration Time Come On!" sung over and over. The parade was worse - glittery gals in overalls and fake freckles hopping around with fake smiles, dripping in sweat.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Disneyworld, Day 1: EPCOT

EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow or some garbage like that, but I did not see a single floating cul-DE-sac or apartment building made of technology. In fact, it was quite the contrary... the streets of EPCOT looked exactly the way I left them 13 years ago. Not exactly the laser laced Serial Ports with flat slab thingies I had imagined.

EPCOT should really stand for Expensive Place [should be] Called Other Thing [like "Golf Ball Surrounded by Fake Countries" GBSBFC]

That's not to say that the place is a total waste. Fun stuff was abundant. Our favorites:

1. Soarin' - Exactly the same as Soarin' Over California and a slap in the face to Florida, which evidently has nothing worth soarin' over. Also, why they call it "Soarin'" and not just "Soaring" is obnoxious to me.

2. Test Track - On this ride, you "drive" a car through a set of cones and then the car takes off and you go very fast. It's a little bit like being in the back of a driver's ed car and the foreign exchange student from Singapore just took the wheel.

3. The Land - One would think that riding a boat through a bunch of greenhouses would be boring. Yet it remains one of the most popular rides at EPCOT... so much so that it actually has a fast pass option. For some reason, and I am not sure exactly why, this ride is fascinating and enjoyable.

4. Spaceship Earth - Yes, there is actually a ride inside that golf ball, and it does not involve Tiger Woods crashing his chick-mobile into a fire hydrant.

5. The Norway Boat Ride - This ride is infamous in my family as my father once described it using his hands in a hilarious boat like manner. I'd give it about a 6 out of 10 on the fun factor.

2 disappointing things:

1. Mission to Mars - This ride was sooo excruciating awful, even painful, it definitely deserves it's own post. So, you have that to look forward to.

2. Finding Nemo ride - This ride is similar to the Disneyland submarine ride, but instead of feeling cramped and sweaty in a submarine, you sit in a clam shell. Sitting in a clam shell does not a good ride maketh.

Really, the entire park was fine and we rode/saw 99% of the attractions. However, at the end of the day, we felt done with the place and had no real desire to go back. In fact, it turned out to be our least favorite of the four parks.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Remember when you went to Disneyland and were lucky to see Mickey? Maybe Donald?

Some of these characters I actually have no idea who they even are. But we HAVE to get our picture with them.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

BACK from Florida!

Hello all my beloved readers.

Just returned from Florida and I have a ton to write and post in the next few days. However, I think that this needed sharing. This just proves that my Calder is a goof. Hang on for the last 20 seconds or so for the payoff.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Disneyworld... is... NOW.

Two days away from Disneyworld. That's right, you heard me correctly... it's world! Capital W, O, R, L, D. (FYI, "world" means it is the one in Florida. You know, the better one)

And yes, we can afford it on a teacher's budget. And it's already all paid for. How? Frugality and savings. Oh, and I also have stopped supersizing. Now I just "large size" my fries. I feel so much healthier. (I don't supersize the drink either; instead I make six extra trips to the fountain for a refill. You get more exercise that way)

I haven't been to Disneyworld since Cathi and I were dating. In fact, had I thought things through, I probably could have proposed in Disneyworld... on the drawbridge of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, under the magnificent glow of the fireworks overhead. But the truth is, I was an idiot.

We purchased a food package for this trip, which means we can go to any restaurant in any of the four parks and order whatever we want. (Only certain restaurants apply, meaning the plusher ones for the non-teacher type are out of bounds) I think this excites me more than anything. Sure, I already paid for the meals, but I still am ordering the most expensive stuff on the big board. I have to - no matter how improbable - feel that I am screwing THEM over somehow. No, I am definitely going to get my money's worth. (And by "getting my money's worth" I mean "continue to get taken by Disney, but by a lesser rate than the rest of those suckers)

My concerns are the weather and the crowds, both of which don't appear to be major issues at this point. The weather has warmed up in Florida and the only large crowds we will likely see will be on Martin Luther King Day and the weekend.

I've heard great things about Expedition Everest and Rockin' Rollercoaster.

So yes, the grand ole' Blog O' Cheese will not be updated for some time. In the mean time, you may want to peruse some of the Cheese Blog classics from days and years gone by.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2010 Resolutions

My 2010 Resolutions. (A little late, but my resolve is strong)

1. Begin writing my list of resolutions.


2. Make a list of attainable, worthwhile, rewarding, realistic goals that will benefit myself and my family for years to come.

Next year.

3. Invent a diaper bag that allows me to snack in church without people sitting on the stand noticing.

4. Give Paula Abdul a bigger tip the next time she waits on me at IHOP.

5. Start up a cause to stop the starvation of Victoria Beckam.

6. Learn how to fix a toilet without just shaking the handle.

7. Learn to play the open back 5 string banjo.

8. Learn to fix a toilet by playing an open back 5 string banjo.

9. Host the Tonight Show.

10. Lose 5 pounds, then gain 3, then lose 6 and gain 5, then lose 10, then gain 8 for a total net of a five pound loss, (which I will gain back by Christmas).

Monday, January 11, 2010

How to Justify your Guilt.

How to Justify your Guilt.
By Cheeseboy - King of Justification.

1. Caught in the hall during Sunday School talking to a buddy? Just trying to set up a Home Teaching Appointment.

2. Home Teaching a wash this month? Plan on bringing some cookies next month to make up for it.

3. Forget the cookies? Remind yourself that at least you got out this month.

4. Forget to tell your companion about the appointments? Plan on taking him some cookies next month to go along with the cookies you forgot for your families.

5. Leaving early from the function so you don't have to take down folding chairs? You've got kids with a routine bedtime! You don't mess with a routine bedtime.

6. Realize your wife could take the kids home while you stay and help? You've got to get home and bake those cookies?

7. Asking your wife to bake cookies while you sit and watch football on the couch? It's been a long day and cookies are complicated.

8. Do you find yourself eating most of the cookies before you can take them to your obligatory families? They're really good, plus these families don't even know that they were to be potentially getting cookies anyway.

9. Do you find yourself thinking that there is no point in even going now that you don't have the cookies? Well, there is still 3 weeks left in the month.

10. Are your kids crying because there are no homemade cookies left? Luckily there are a package of 10 month old Ding Dongs in the pantry.

11. Kids puking their guts out at 2:00 in the morning and your wife getting up with them? You do have to go to work in 5 hours.

12. Wife tired and craggy from being up all night? Good thing you are going to a Jazz game tonight.

On second thought... I am not really an expert in this, but it works for me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A smorgasbord of odd tidbits. (Staring Charles in Charge's Scott Baio and my wife)

I am so happy with my HD TV, sometimes I just sit and stare at it in awe... and then I remember that is kinda the point.

When the HD man from HD land came to install his magic HD, he had to give us a little presentation before he left.

HD Magic Man: See how some of the stations are in HD and some are not?

Me: [excitedly] Let's see ESPN! What channel is that?

HD Man: I really don't know. I really just watch a lot of HGTV and Food Network.

How is this man even a man?!

Sometimes I go to Costco just for a hotdog. But yesterday we went there and I wasn't in the mood for a hotdog. Of course, I could have ventured over for a smorgasbord or grab-bag of small pieces of food garbage in the free sample area, but we all know how that went the last time.

If you have been to Costco for an actual meal (the area with the umbrellas, soda machine and fat ladies standing next to their cart, waiting for their husband with a giant pretzel in their hand), you know that their menu is very limited. Here are your choices:

pizza slice
some sort of giant, greasy Hot Pocket
Cesar Salad

I had had a large lunch, so I went with the salad, plus I am on a diet. Good move - the 6 samples I ate later would have so made me barf had I eaten the hotdog.

We watched a movie the other night called, "Food, Inc", a documentary examining where most our food comes from. The movie claims that just about every hamburger you eat in the United States has chunks of over 1,000 different cows in it. This is one reason why the spread of salmonella is so difficult to contain these days. Disgusting.

Now, when I get a hamburger I separate it into 1,000 small pieces and eat them one at a time. Much more delicious that way, but it is hard to get pickles that small.

People still consistently tell me how beautiful my wife is: both men and women. I am not sure if this happens to other men, but it seems as though I get this compliment from a different person at least once a week. It never gets old, it's great and oh so true.

However, in contrast, a group of three 4th grade girls came up to me at recess, told me I was, "handsome" and ran off. Yeah, it's almost the same thing.

Someone once mentioned in the comments of a previous post that I had tracted into Charles in Charge on my mission. Now, I am here to admit that this is only HALF true... I actually tracted into Scott Baio, who played the CHARACTER "Charles" on the hit TV show, "Charles in Charge". He owned an enormous summer home in the "mountains" of the Poconos. He came to the door in his Pajamas and reached over and grabbed the paper while he spoke to us. Not sure if he actually lived downstairs.

Scott (as I referred to him thereafter) was quite handsome, silky and dashing as he reached over, grabbed the paper, said, "no thanks" and shut the door all in one continuous motion. I am not sure if I said a single word, but I could feel a connection had been made.

I could see Buddy making coffee in the kitchen and FYI... there was a lake nearby!

Also, I would like to make it abundantly clear that this was not my only brush with fame (and by this, I mean my brush with someone famous) during my two years in Pennsylvania. During that time, I knocked on the doors of the following: Both of the Andretti brother's homes, Evander Hollyfield's home and I drove by Tom Cruise's property almost daily for three months. I never saw him and it was all fenced off so knocking on his door was impossible.

Also, during my time in Scranton/Wilkes Barre, I may or may not have heard the band "Scrantonicity" during a Farmer's Market I attended.

Monday, January 4, 2010

3 really funny (homefully) things I wrote about today: Sound Machines, Antique Roadshow and The Doctors.

I have exactly three things to write about today.

1. Sound Machines (Not Miami)

My wife received as some sort of gift a sound machine. We sleep with it on, next to the bed. Now, I am sure that many of you sleep with a sound machine on and it comforts and relaxes you. (On a separate note, I don't know why, but folks nowadays are so darned intimidated by silence. They are uncomfortable around it, even when they are alone)

About two weeks ago a time traveler from the year 1850 visited me in my sleep. This was the gist of the conversation:

Time Traveler: Nice home you've got here. What is this, some sort of indoor toilet? I am so impresteth. (People from the past always end their sentences with "ith". It's more old fashioned that way)

: Yeah, nice eh?

Time Traveler: Sounds like you have those annoying crickets we had backeth in the day.

: No, that is my wife's machine.

Time Traveler

Me: Yeah, my wife... she has a machine. It makes the room sound like crickets!


Me: No, it's real. Supposed to relax you or something.

Time Traveler:
Why would you WANT to bringeth that obnoxious pest clamor INTO thou bed room?!

Me: I don't know. It helps her fall asleep or something.

Time Traveler
: Does she havest thou a machine I can take back to get riddeth of the annoying chirps?

: No, but I can give you one that brings in more chirping. We have like 6 of those things.

Time Traveler:
[Echoing] NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo! [As he disappears from my sleepytime dream with the sound of twinkling stardust.]

My real problem with the blasted sound machine isn't so much the sound, but the type of sounds it plays. I hate the crickets and here are my other options: 1. Stream 2. Rain 3. Thunderstorm 4. The Ocean.

Is there any sound on this GOSH-FORSAKEN THING that DOESN'T MAKE ME WANT TO PEE?! Nope, it's either crickets or water sounds. They ought to have a "urination" button. Just the constant sound of urine splashing in the toilet... that way I will remember what I really need to do while I am lying in bed. Heaven forbid we actually sleep in silence.

Now that I think about it, there is one other option... "White Noise." This option is akin to turning on your television and changing the channel to a station with no signal. CHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Ah, the perfect way to melt away the stress and fall into a deep sleep, only to awaken in the middle of the night and wonder why the TV is still on.

2. Antiques Roadshow

I spent the past 4 days in beautiful Leeds, Utah with nothing but CBS, ABC and PBS to keep me company on the tube. The only time I ever get to watch this beloved program is while I am doing nothing in Leeds. And so t'was on Friday...

Here is the thing that really amazes me about this show: People (seemingly normal people) bring in their junk, are told their junk is actually worth something and then these "normal" people proceed to tell the guy that they are keeping said junk.

Not me. If I ever have seemingly worthless crap and I go on that show, it would definitely NOT be the normal scripted BS. It would go something like this:

Weirdo PBS Dude: So, you say you got this St. Bernard coffee mug from your Grandma?

Me: Well, Nanners gave it to me back in '85. She said it belonged to a Union General. He loved St. Bernards.

PBS Dude:
And the inscription, that is authentic.

Me: Yep, right there across the St. Bernard's beer thing they hung around their necks back then. Says, "To my beloved General. How I knowest you lovest Bernards . Hey, and good luck with that slavery war thing. Circa 1826."

PBS Dude: So, this is a family heirloom?

Me: Yes, it means a lot... I shall never part from it. It will be my son's son's son's someday and then when he is deemed too insane to hold possessions, they shall dig up my body and bury it with that mug. It means that much to me.

PBS Dude: Well, can I tell you... this mug is valued anywhere from $50,000 - $75,000!

Me: No!

PBS Dude: Yep!

Me: Well, Nana did tell me she wanted me to be happy...

3. The Highlight of the Leeds Trip - "The Doctors"

Speaking of Leeds, we generally always go with my wife's parents. They are gracious hosts and actually really spoil us. Actually, I wouldn't want to go without them.

Anyway, we had just returned from a morning of hiking and other exhausting activities. We settle down (kids included) in front of the tube for a little mind-numbing daytime television.

Something called, "The Doctors" comes on. Seems interesting enough.

Have you ever seen this show, Cheeseboy? It might be right up your alley, with you being a hypochondriac and all.

Me: No, but if they discuss diseases, I don't want to watch it.

Mother-In-Law: Well, they teach you all about the body, things to watch for, stuff like that.

Me: Okay, well I am always up to try it.

[Show comes on, music blaring]

Doctor on show: Today we will be discussing a topic that should be of interest to every women in America: How to reach orgasm quicker!

Click. Oops!

Now my Mother-in-law is definitely not the embarrassed easily type, but I think that maybe I have seen her just embarrassed for the first time.

Moral: Some things are just not worth watching, especially with your Mother-in-law.

PS: One of my New Year's resolutions is to make my wife laugh again and I think, just maybe this post will do the trick.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My job is so much better than yours.

If you frequent the Blog O’ Cheese, which undoubtedly you do on a twice daily basis, you know that for the most part I love my job. (Teaching First Grade, if you don't frequent the Blog O' Cheese) I love it for so many reasons, but the main reason is that - no offense – my job is so much better than yours! I can prove it. Get out your sheets of paper and writing utensils (preferably sharpened and a #2) and start taking score.

You get paid infinity more than me. Score 10 points for yourself.

At 9:00 on any given day, I am playing dodgeball, throwing a hula hoop around or riding a small scooter. At 9:00 on any given day, you are sitting at your desk, wishing it were 5:00. Score 10 points for ME.

My job.

Your job.

I often get presents – good ones – and I am under no obligation to return the favor. You get a present and a guilt trip from a co-worker. 5 points - me.

I get to read stories everyday and I get to chose which one we read. You get to hear stories about the foot fungi your coworker in the cubicle one over is taking medication for. 5 points – me.

When we celebrate birthdays at my job, people are actually sincere about being happy for the person, not just looking for free cake. 5 points – me.

I get recess. You get 15 minutes in your breakroom. Push.

In six years, I have never once been bored. You: play solitaire. 5 points – me.

I have a closet full of candy. 3 points – me.

There is all that mumbo-jumbo about making a difference in the life of kids and this and that. 20 points – me.

I get 3 months off every summer and every holiday and they still think we need days off on top of that. 10 points – me.

Women constantly approach me and tell me how great I am and how I am an inspiration- the greatest thing ever in fact. You: work with strange women. 10 points – me.

Every day, I get at least 3 original portraits painted of me and placed on my desk. You: If someone draws a picture of you, you are worried for your safety. 5 points – me.

I get to watch really bad kid’s learning TV shows about 2-3 times per week. You: get to huddle around a buddies computer and watch a funny youtube clip. 10 points for you.

I am adored by 20; a walking celebrity of sorts. You: are technically not "adored" by anyone at work, except for the creepy weirdo that is drawing pictures of you. 15 points – me.

Of course, you probably don’t have to deal with crying, bad behavior and sassiness. 20 points you, unless you have a boss that is sassy.

I can pass gas in a room full of people and not a single one will assume it was me. (It's never the teacher, trust me.) 3 points – me.

Final Score:

You: 40 points

Me: 96 points

That’s right - undefeated for yet another year. (Unless, of course, you have one of the following jobs: Undercover Brother, astronaut, Catholic Priest, Carson Daily, President, movie star hairdresser, scone taster, Smoky the Bear, or Smoky the Bear's handler)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cheeseboy's Top 40 albums of 2009

Yes, I have had a lot of time on my hands recently.

Yes, I really did listen to this many albums this year. In fact, I had to narrow the top 40 down from a list of more than 100 new albums.

Yes, you should care, unless you don't, in which case, I don't care that you don't... but you should.

No, I in no way consider myself a "music guru", but I like what I like, and this is what I like. Also, I realize that most lists like this go from 40 to 1, but I wrote it and THEN realized that and there is no way I am going to go back and do all that work. So, if you want the 40 to 1 format, scroll down and read backwards.

So, without further ado, here are the top 40 of 2009 (and the top 3 EPs):
  1. The Sounds – Crossing The Rubicon

Got this album early in the year and I still listen to it constantly. Not a bad song and some will have you dancing on the phone book. Not that my opinion matters, but these guys (and girl) simply rock and made the best album of ’09!

  1. Passion Pit – Manners

Almost made it #1, but I found myself tiring of it after the 800th listen just a smidge. No other album this year is better to jog to though.

  1. Metric – Fantasies

From top to bottom, Metric’s best album and the 3rd best of the year.

  1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion

Perhaps the most musically stunning album of the year. I thought about putting it #1 as it probably deserves to be, but I just couldn’t.

  1. Empire Of The Sun – Walking On A Dream

Holds the best song of the year, plus several other good ones.

  1. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns

Chalk full of pleasant surprises.

  1. Silversun Pickups – Swoon

If you were a fan of The Smashing Pumpkins…

  1. We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls

Not a truly great song on the disc, but one the CD has a 100% guarantee of likeability

  1. Islands – Vapours

A late addition to the list, they land in the top ten. This album is amazing. Every song a joy. Every morsel delicious.

  1. Mew – No More Stories Are Told…

Arena rock for the indie lover. These guys could sing the phone book and I would still wonder why everyone says, “you could sing the phonebook.” Who are all these people singing the phone book?

  1. Discovery – LP

Not what I was expecting when I imagined a Vampire Weekend/Ra Ra Riot merger project, but good nonetheless.

  1. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

One song, 1901 dominated the airplay, but this album stands on it’s own. There are plenty of other great songs on it.

  1. Julian Plenty – Julian Plenty Is… Skyscraper

The former lead singer of Interpol may have made a solo album better than any of the bands.

  1. Say Hi – Oohs & Aahs

This album came out early in the year and I almost forgot about it. Upon further review, it still rocks.

  1. John Vanderslice – Romanian Names

The man just knows how to write great songs.

  1. Ramona Falls – Intuit

Smooth, luxurious melodies meant for a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

  1. Andrew Bird – Noble Beast

I am not a huge Andrew Bird fan, but I have to give him credit, this album is his best and has to be in just about everyone’s top 20.

  1. White Lies – To Lose My Life

English alternative mixed with a touch of eletronica = great songs.

  1. U2 – No Line On The Horizon

Hated it at first, then it grew on me.

  1. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

Sometimes a bit too experimental for my taste, but this album rose above that.

  1. Bell X1 – Blue Lights On The Runway

Somewhat of a disappointment considering the hype I had created in my own mind for this album, but still solid.

  1. Sunset Rubdown – Dragonslayer

Both Sunset Rubdown and Handsome Furs have an interesting sound with tangy vocals.

  1. Handsome Furs – Face Control
  2. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Listened to this album at least 20 times and I can’t tell you a single lyric.

  1. Fanfarlo – On The Wing Now

A suggestion from my friend Spencer (amongst others on the list) He seems to have a knack for finding good music.

  1. The Juan MacLean – The Future Will Come

Great music to Jazzercize to .

  1. White Rabbits – It’s Frightening

Very solid rock album all the way through with a couple brilliant songs.

  1. God Help The Girl – God Help The Girl

If you actually are taking this list seriously and happen to pick this album up, you may want to tease me endlessly. It is cheesy, corny and sounds a lot like Mama Mia on crack. Nevermind all of that… I am fascinated by it and can’t get enough. I have no idea why.

  1. Matt & Kim – Grand

Happy music that is unbelievably fun to listen to.

  1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz

I’ve seen many have this #1 on their year’s best list. This is good, but in my eyes, they are a second rate version of my #1.

  1. Eulogies – Here Anonymous

Nothing more than a collection of great rock songs.

  1. BLK JKS – After Robots

Edgy, harmonic, raw, ubber cool.

  1. Weezer – Ratditude

I am a sucker for anything they put out, but I would place this one in the good, not great category.

  1. Dan Deacon – Bromst

Pounding beats, great fun.

  1. Why – Eskimo Snow

Clearly, not their best effort, but their lyrics are so incredible, it is worth listening to.

  1. Pearl Jam – Backspacer

Their best album in years. (Minus Eddie Vedder’s solo album two years ago)

  1. The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You

Superb easy listening harmonies.

  1. Telekinesis! - Telekinesis!

Smooth punk.

  1. Regina Spektor – Far

Regina is back with her most consistent album from beginning to end.

  1. Dark Was The Night: A Red Hot Compilation

I hate compilations, but as compilations go, this one was pretty darned good.

3 Good EP’s

  1. Death Cab For Cutie – The Open Door [EP]
  2. Modest Mouse – No One’s First, And You’re Next [EP]
  3. Blitzen Trapper – Black River Killer [EP]