Category Archives: Humor

The Gods Must Be Angry

I live in San Diego, and our region, along with the rest of California, has had a drought for the past 3 years.  We have had so little rain, that when it actually does rain we get all excited.  As you can see from the photo below that I posted on Facebook, which documents the extraordinary occurrence of ACTUAL RAIN in my yard.

It's rainingYou will notice my enthusiastic use of the type tool in Photoshop, along with exclamation points!  And…I also made a sort of snide comment about how the rain only lasted for 20 minutes.  Well, who would have thought that that innocent little comment would result in another bout of rain, this one a veritable deluge, just a few short hours later?  Obviously, the rain gods monitor social media, and I clearly yanked their chain.

After I put this post up on FB, I picked up the kids from school and then took Sam to the orthodontist.  After his appointment is when all hell broke loose.  We looked out the window and saw rain falling by the bucketful.  Actually it wasn’t so much falling as hurtling towards the ground at a 45 degree angle.  Trees were flailing, people on bikes were cowering under walkways, and the streets and sidewalks were streaming with water.

When we arrived home it was to a full on, rip-roaring thunder and lightning storm.  Some of the lighting came really close to the house, and I made the kids stay in for a bit, as I felt like I had already incurred the wrath of the rain gods, and they are probably good friends with the lightning gods.  After the fireworks calmed down Emma and I puttered around the yard, just enjoying the feeling of being rained on, and filling up lots of containers with water to use on our plants in the coming week.

Emma in the driving rain. You can see the angle it is coming down at in the upper corners of the photo.

Emma in the driving rain. You can see the angle it is coming down at in the upper left corner.

Emma helping to fill water containers.

Emma helping to fill water containers.

Eventually the rain slowed, after a good 45 minutes to an hour.  Blue sky peeked through illuminated clouds.  The woody scent rising up from the canyon was amazing, as the dried earth and plants opened up to drink in all the water.

Raindrops plopping into the birdbath.

Raindrops plopping into the birdbath.

Clouds and happy canyon plants after a long-awaited watering.

Clouds and happy canyon plants after a long-awaited watering.

After the rains cleared, the birds came out in force, chirping and swooping about.  I noticed several birds streaking out of the big eucalyptus to snatch insects out of the air.  This is a very blurry photo of what was a very graceful and lively scene.

Bird and bug

After the storm was done we had lots of water stored that will keep us going for a bit.  The plants in the yard and canyon were scrubbed clean, and though it was still very hot and humid, everything was refreshed.  We were lucky not to have any trees or branches fall, we were also glad we were not struck by lighting!

Lots of water to keep us going for a bit.

The tree faces in the yard always look great after a rain, as the palm trunks get dark and shiny.

The tree faces in the yard always look great after a rain, as the palm trunks get dark and shiny.

I, along with the rest of San Diego (except the people stuck on the highways which were full of crashes), were thrilled with our rainstorm.  And now that I know that I have the ability to summon wet and wild weather through injudicious comments on social media, I will endeavor to do my best to end the terrible drought afflicting our great state.  Do you hear that, rain gods?  Your mother was a hamster and your father reeked of elderberries!  I blow my nose at you, so called meteorological deities!!!

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The Babysitter’s Party – A Star Wars Action Figure Play

 

Title picture

My daughter Emma has created “Action Figure Plays” for years.  She uses dolls, Lego mini figures, or her Star War action figures to create plays that are based on movies, books, comic books, TV shows, and her own ideas.  She purees them all in the blender of her mind into a magnificent mash up.  Below is one of her favorite plays, ‘The Babysitter’s Party.”  She uses Star Wars characters to act out a drama that has elements from Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Calvin and Hobbes.  Even though you would think otherwise, Obi Wan Kenobi is not a very responsible babysitter for young Luke and Leia…

(Double click on the images to get a better look, there are lots of fun details)

Annakin and Padme have hired Obi Wan Kenobi to babysit while they go out for the night.

Obi Wan Kenobi comes over to babysit Luke and Leia while their parents go out for a date night.

Padme and Annikin head off to dinner, secure in the knowledge that their good friend Obi Wan will take good care of the kids.

Padme and Anakin head off to dinner, secure in the knowledge that their good friend Obi Wan will watch over the kids.

Instead of taking care of Luke and Leia, he calls all of his friends to come over for a party.

Obi Wan has plans for this evening, and they don’t include hanging out with a couple of kids.  He sets up a table full of party food and drinks and gets out the radio.  Then he calls all of his friends on his giant green phone to come over for a party.

He puts Luke and Leia to bed at 6:00 to get them out of the way.  NO FAIR!

He puts Luke and Leia to bed at 6:00 to get them out of the way. NO FAIR!

He calls all his Jedi friends of course.

He calls all his Jedi friends of course.  General Grievous gives them a ride over in his lemon yellow Playmobil sedan.  Ashoka looks a little squished!

Grandma Shmee and Tim the Sandperson are also invited.

Grandma Shmi and Tim the Sandperson are also invited.

Mace Windu is giving Jango Fett a ride, which is kind of ironic since Jango hates Mace and wants to kill him.

Mace Windu is giving Jango Fett a ride, which is kind of ironic since in the movies Mace beheaded Jango.  But Mace has one rockin’ purple Polly Pocket convertible.  Maybe he will let Jango drive it on the way home?!?

While we are the subject of awkward pairings, what about these two?  Are they going to make small talk, or sit in silence?  These two teams just don't like each other...

While we are the subject of awkward pairings, what about Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul sharing a ride? Are they going to make small talk, or sit in silence? These two teams just don’t like each other…

Finally, here come the bad guys, complete with flowers for the host.

Finally, here come the bad guys, complete with flowers for the host.  The emperor has a purple zebra stripped car…who would have thought?

They form a convoy, heading to Annakin and Padme's house for a PARTY!

They form a convoy, heading to Annakin and Padme’s house for a PARTY!

What a crowd!  When they get there they have to line up to get in the door.

What a crowd! When they get there they have to line up outside to wait their turn to get in the door.

Here they all are, hanging out at the party.  Boy, I hope Obi Wan doesn't get caught...

Finally everyone arrives and gets inside.  But they are all just sitting around, and Obi Wan is getting nervous that his party won’t be AWESOME.  What to do?

Meanwhile, Padme and Annakin are having a lovely dinner in the courtyard of their favorite fancy restaurant.

Meanwhile, Padme and Anakin are having a lovely dinner in the courtyard of their favorite fancy restaurant.

And Luke and Leia sneak out of their room and head down to the basement playroom.  They call up Han and he comes over for a night of binging on TV watching and sugar eating.  They let all of their pets out of their cages for good measure.

And Luke and Leia have snuck out of their bedroom and gone down to the basement playroom. They call up Han and he comes over for a night of TV watching and sugar eating. They let all of their pets out of their cages for good measure.

Obi Wan figures out the best way to break the ice is a game of Twister. It certainly gets the crowd going! This is shaping up to be an EPIC evening...

Obi Wan figures out the best way to break the ice is a game of Twister. It certainly gets the crowd going! This is shaping up to be an EPIC evening…

After Twister they all head out into the yard to TP the tree.

After Twister they all head out into the yard to TP the tree.

Next they head down the street to paint graffiti.

Next they paint graffiti on the side of the house.

Next they see how many people they can fit in General Grievous' car.  Don't scratch the paint!

Then they see how many people they can fit in General Grievous’ car. Don’t scratch the paint!

What a relaxing and special evening.  But after dessert the parents decide to call Obi Wan to let him know they will be home in a half an hour or so.

What a relaxing and special evening. After dessert they call Obi Wan to let him know they will be home in a half an hour or so.

Oh #$%^&**&@!!!

Oh #$%^&**&@!!!

Everybody, CLEAN UP!  Count Dooku, get that ice cream tub off of your head.  Stop spoon fighting Qui gon!  They're coming back!!!

Everybody, CLEAN UP! NOOWWWWW!!! Count Dooku, get that ice cream tub off of your head. Stop spoon fighting Kit! They’re coming back!!!  We have to get this place cleaned up and you all have to go home.

The force must have been with them, because by the time Annikin and Padme arrive Obi Wan is sitting quietly in the living room, reading a magazine.

The force must have been with them, because by the time Anakin and Padme arrive Obi Wan is sitting quietly in the living room, reading a magazine.

They check on Luke and Leia, and they are tucked in bed, fast asleep.

They check on Luke and Leia, and they are tucked in bed, fast asleep.

The only one not safely home yet is Han Solo.  He got trampled by everyone as they rushed from the house, trying to get away before the parents got home.  Hopefully he wakes up soon and gets home to bed.  It was a WILD night!

The only one not safely home yet is Han Solo. He got trampled by everyone as they rushed from the house, trying to get away before the parents got home. Hopefully he wakes up soon and makes his way home.  What a WILD night!

Postscript

Emma at Legoland with giant Darth made out of legos.  And she is holding two of her current favorite books, which create silly scenarios with Darth and Luke and Leia as they grow up.  They reminded me so much of the type of things Emma has done for years with her action figures I had to buy them for her.

Emma at Legoland with a giant Darth Vader made out of legos.  She is holding two of her current favorite books, that create silly scenarios with Darth and his kids Luke and Leia as they grow up. They reminded me so much of the type of things Emma has done for years with her action figures I had to buy them for her.  Adult or kid, if you are a Star Wars fan these books are a giggle fest.

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My Friends Visited the Set of Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand, and All I Got to Do Was Write About it in My Blog

My friends Matt and Vanessa went on vacation to New Zealand recently.  I didn’t get to go.  I’ve got 2 kids, and I think it is like a 4 day flight.  At least it would feel like 4 days if I tried to do it with my 2 kids.  Vanessa and Matt don’t have any children yet, so I am living vicariously through them.

I like to live vicariously through Vanessa, because she doesn’t have any gray hair or wrinkles yet.  Except those cute little wrinkles around her eyes when she laughs.  My wrinkles aren’t cute.  You can see what I mean below.

Vanessa

Vanessa with my daughter Emma, on a field trip to Las Vegas.

Vanessa with my daughter Emma, on a field trip to Las Vegas.

Me

Me and my daily stogie

Havin’ my daily stogie

Anyway, back to the New Zealand trip that I didn’t get to go on.  I am a bit of a J.R.R. Tolkien geek.  I own all the movies and books, read The Hobbit to my kids and am currently reading them The Fellowship OTR.  I own one or two action figures (Treebeard! Bilbo! Gandalf!), Lego sets (really, the Bag End set was for the kids), and I have the key to the back door of the Lonely Mountain that leads to Smaug’s lair hanging from my rear view mirror.  So when Vanessa posted on FB that she was off to New Zealand with Matt, I asked about their plans to visit Hobbiton, which I was sure they must be doing, since who in their right mind would fly all the way to New Zealand and not visit Hobbiton?

BTW, I know that it’s not really Hobbiton, but until I see it for my own eyes that it’s not real I’m going to pretend that it is.  Same goes for Hogwarts.

When Vanessa and Matt got back I asked to see their pictures from Matamata, which is what non believers call Hobbiton.  The scenery was gorgeous, which makes me regret AGAIN how far way New Zealand has the temerity to be from me.  I also noticed that there were some odd people hanging out there, besides Vanessa and Matt.  Look at some of their photos below to see what I mean.

On their drive out to Matamata it got a bit foggy on the road.  It was all well and good, sort of atmospheric really, until this weird guy, dressed all in black, sitting on horse, kept popping up.  Asking for Baggins.  Matt told them they hadn’t done their shopping yet, they didn’t have any bags (he thought that baggins was plural for bags Down Under), and that they couldn’t help.  Even the black rider’s horse looked confused.  So Matt and Vanessa kept going.

Foggy road.rider

Then this kind of crazy, old, homeless guy with a giant Q-tip thought they looked a little lost, and was helpfully pointing the way to Matamata.  It was kind of annoying the way he kept screaming, “This way, YOU FOOLS!”  Whatevs.  Some people just like getting worked up.  But his directions were spot on!

Gandalf

Soon Vanessa and Matt emerged from the fog into a beautiful glorious day!  The sun was shining, the sheep were grazing, and WHAT THE HELL?!?  What are they doing here?  No, no thank, no Tubby Toast for us.  Hobbiton is waiting.  No, we don’t want to rub your tummies.

Sheep+TT

Well, that was unexpected.  Anyway, back to Matamata.  After arriving Matt and Vanessa headed off on the two hour guided studio tour (insert Gilligan’s Island theme song joke here).  The original Hobbiton set used in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy was not preserved, and had to be completely rebuilt for The Hobbit.  It will remain as it is now, so hopefully, eventually, sometime before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I’ll get to visit too!  A peek at the tour brochure.

Hobbiton.tour.brochure.2

Matt and Vanessa got on the bus to take them to the set.  They were really happy, so excited to be off on this great adventure together.  It would have been a totally perfect moment, except for Mr. Bad Naked, who you can see over Matt’s shoulder.  A few ideas for you dude.  One, take a shower, a long one.  Two, cover up!  Three, muttering about lovely fishes and preciouses being stolen and how you hates Bagginses forever makes other people who are stuck on a bus with you really, really nervous.  Just saying man, just saying.

V+M.bus

Actually stepping out of the bus, onto hallowed ground, made all the uncomfortableness disappear.  HOBBITON!  HOBBIT HOLES!!  ROUND DOORS!!!  CABBAGES!!!!

Hobbit holes and gardens

Here is Vanessa by the Party Tree  And views in the village of Hobbiton.  It’s all so green and lovely.

Hobbiton village

After the tour it was time for a drink.  Vanessa made the acquaintance of two shortish guys who kept calling themselves “The Sexy Dwarves.”  They were handsome, if hairy, but Vanessa already had a guy of her own, so they left for greener pastures.  Even if she wasn’t with Matt it’s not like she’s that kind of girl anyway.  Two dwarves are not always better than one, no matter what Fili and Kili were telling her.

Shire's rest

Well, Matt and Vanessa had a tremendous time visiting New Zealand, and made tons of new friends while they were down there.  They were married just a few months later in San Diego.  Some of their new friends became so close to Vanessa and Matt that they flew in for their wedding!  Fili and Kili were not invited.

Wedding with hobbits

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You Had Me At Free Cake

My son Sam and our friend Trevor had a day off from school last Monday.  It was a “staff development day”, or something like that.  They go to a charter school, which can do what it wants.  Their school didn’t want to have school that day, so they didn’t.

Anyway, when the boys have random days off, we try to find something to do.  Besides them sitting on their backsides all day in front of a computer.  I happened across an article in the paper (yes, I am one of 10 people in the United States who still get a paper) on USCD’s annual celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) lived in San Diego, and his widow Audrey has donated thousands of his materials as well as money to the UCSD Library, which bears their name.  She recently donated 1,500 new materials, which are display at the library through the end of March (http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/feature/donated_dr._seuss_works_may_lead_to_new_books).

That all sounds lovely, but what really made me decide to go was the part about free cake.  Also, the fact that in the 6 years I worked on my PhD and the two years I was a postdoc at UCSD, I never managed to go to this celebration.  This was my chance to make up for a lifetime of regret.  And a chance to get some free cake.

So off we went to UCSD to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ 110th birthday.  We headed to the library, and something told us we were probably in the right place.  The giant blow up Cat in the Hat maybe?

One Big Cat

There was a rocking band…and lots and lots of CAKE!

Cake + band

Besides eating the delicious cake and cupcakes and drinking lemonade (one of Dr. Seuss’ favorite drinks), Sam and Trevor got to hobnob with important people, like Pradeep K. Khosla, the Chancellor of UCSD, and Brian E. C. Schottlaender, the Audrey Geisel University Librarian at UCSD.  Heady times boys!

Chancellor+Librarian

Though you might not think it, there was a point in the celebration when a drone would have come in handy.  The Chancellor stepped in make the first cut in the cake, and all we got was a nice view of the photographers.  The camera guys got out of the way soon enough, as the crowd rushed the table, desperate for cake.  Frosting flew everywhere, small children were crushed underfoot!  Just kidding, this is UCSD.  People politely waited their turn for some cake.  Just trying to spice up the old blog a bit, New York Post style.

Need a drone

After we had some refreshments, we headed into the library to check out the special collections.  They had the new Dr. Seuss materials on display, including line drawings, paintings, and color illustrations.

Line Drawings

Paintings+Illustrations

There was also a case displaying ideas that Dr. Seuss described as failures, including a card game he designed.  It was a nice teaching moment, as I told the boys sometimes failing can be as important as succeeding, if you use it as an opportunity to learn something about yourself.  I wish I could say they lap up this and the other pearls of wisdom that continuously drop from my venerable lips, but they just shrugged and wandered away.  Tweens, sigh.

Card game

Also in the special collections section was this fantastic wall covered with “The Alphabet of Bones,” a font of 26 characters inspired by the hollow bones of birds by San Diego artist Joyce Cutler-Shaw.  Trevor is doing the Chicken Dance in front of it.  Glad to see all those acting and dancing lessons are paying off.  In my opinion, the library totally missed the boat on the signage for the campus phone.  How hard would it be to add the spelling of “campus phone” in the bone alphabet?  Brian E. C. Schottlaender, Audrey Geisel University Librarian at UCSD, is this something you could make happen???

Chicken dance

Next we decided to head up to the top floors of the library, to get a look at the view.  The person at the information desk reminded us that the top floor was a SUPREME QUIET ZONE!   This made my worry wart son Sam not even want to go up.  Trevor helpfully points out the “BE QUIET ON THE TOP FLOOR” notice in the elevator.

Inside UCSD library

On the top floor I found this incredible book, which I spent a few minutes looking at while the boys quietly ran amok.  They came back in time to help me get some pics from the book, as there were some large fold out pages.  Trevor is pointing out the rat’s teats, in case you missed them.

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities

A few more fun pics from around the library.  Trevor is confusing Dr. Seuss with Santa Claus, and is asking for presents.  The library has some pretty cool architecture, you can get an idea of this from the bottom picture.  The building looks like a space ship that has landed.  On the lower right you can see our reflections in the mirrored walls of the walkway leading to the front doors.  Sam is making bunny ears on his mommy.

Library shots

Finally, the art piece below (Fallen Star) isn’t at the library, it is on one of the engineering buildings, but we saw it as we walked down the hill and decided to try to get a closer look from the top floor of the building.  We did get to see the garden and the front of the house that is perched on the edge of the roof, but only through the locked doors.  It is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I guess we will have to try to come back over spring break.

Fallen Star

Fallen Star is part the Stuart Collection at UCSD, a collection of site-specific public art pieces around the campus.  If you haven’t ever wandered the campus visiting the art pieces, I would recommend it.  Parking is free on campus on the weekends, just like the cake on Dr. Seuss’ birthday!

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Sochi Closing Ceremonies Mo-ments

RingsNow That Was Funny Moment

Classic.  The Russians made fun of the 5th snowflake that got stuck during the opening ceremonies, by having the last ring of dancers hesitate before opening during the closing ceremonies.  A case of vodka to the person who came up with that one!

Upside downGetting a Headache Moment

All the kids and I could do during that whole “upside down village” thing was focus on the upside down villagers.  Were they real people?  Robots?  If they were real, then nothing argues more for the idea of a Putin-ocracy.  If Vladimir Putin tells you that you are going to hang upside down for 15 or 20 minutes while the village slowly, oh so slowly, makes its way across the arena, then you are damn well going to do it, comrade.

MascotsCreepy Moment

Thank you, NBC, for editing out the giant, super creepy mascots from the opening ceremonies.  This must have made Putin unhappy, hence their appearance in the coverage of the closing ceremonies.  They were kind of like a car accident on the side of the highway, you wanted to look away, but you just couldn’t.

HibachiPeckish Moment

And how weird was it that the creepy bear brought a hibachi?  Tri-tip anyone???

FlagAwkward Moment

I get the whole passing off the Olympics to the next nation thing, but could they come up with something besides three dudes each taking their turn waggling around a giant Olympic flag?  It made me squirm.

PaperMessy Moment

When the show commemorated Russian writers, a giant plume of paper kept spewing up onto middle of the arena floor.  My son Sam’s comment was, “I wonder who is going to pick up all that paper?”  This from the person whose pajamas I pick up from the floor everyday.  The floor of his bedroom, the floor of his closet, the floor of his bathroom.  At least he varies the location to keep it interesting for me.  Who will clean up the paper?  Send in the clowns…

FloorFloored Moment

I LOVED that damn floor!  Seriously, it made up for any and all weird awkwardness.  I just stared and stared every time they projected one of those incredible scenes of waves, or landscapes, or cityscapes on it.  Though now that the Olympics are over, I am worried about all those Russian programmers who have nothing to do, since the floor show is over.  Keep track of your personal information everyone.

PutinMy Son Giggling Moment

Apparently my 11 year old son was unaware that the last name of the leader of Russia is Putin.  Or as he put it, Poo-tin.

Post Script

I received this comment from Vladimir Putin, President and Plenipotentiary Representative of the Russian Federation:

Very, very nice post Mo.  I was very amused.  My facial expression even changed for a moment while I was reading it.  I was so amused that I would like to invite you, and your son, to Russia, so I can express my amusement and gratitude for your post in person.  Please tell your son that I have never heard that poo joke before.  Sigh.  Americans…

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Almost Famous – Or How I Went from the Pampered Pet of a Pop Star to an Inmate in a German Zoo

My name is Mally, and this is my story.

My name is Mally, and this is my story.

One day I’m speeding through the gated streets of Calabasas, California in a white Ferrari, wind racing through my fur, my miniature monkey-size Rolex keeping perfect time on my delicate wrist, the love of my life, Justin Bieber, behind the wheel.  I was living the kind of life that 99.9% of old world and new world monkeys can only dream of.  And the next day, the NEXT day my friends, I am being torn from his loving arms by the German authorities.  I was kidnapped by Klaus, waylaid by Wolfgang, held up by Helmut, and quarantined by Conrad (I couldn’t find a German name that started with Q).

So now, instead of traveling the world aboard a private jet, or munching on mangoes and meal worms in a penthouse hotel suite, I have been imprisoned in the Serengeti Park/Monkey Hoosegow, in some godforsaken town in northern Germany called Hodenhagen.  Hodenhagen…REALLY!?!

Needless to say, it has not been a smooth adjustment for me.  The guards noticed how depressed I was becoming.  All I wanted to do was to lie in bed, snuggling Stuffy Bear (the only gift from Justin that my jailers would let me keep), and dream of happier days.

Monkey.pic.sad

All I want is you…all I want is you.  Sitting here, all alone, watching the snow fall.  Looking back at the days, we threw them snow balls.
I can’t believe, I’m putting the tree up by myself.
I need you, and nobody else…

So one of my gefyngniswyrters, Heinz, came up with the idea of offering me enrichment opportunities, to take my mind off of my troubles.  Apparently other depressed zoo inmates take up hobbies, like crochet, woodworking, and painting.

Painting zoo animals

Deluded captives, clearly suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, engage in enrichment activities.  These are obviously misguided attempts to either bring meaning into the Justin-less void that is their existence, or to cull favor in the hope that someday this will lead to their escape/freedom.  Freedom to return to their stolen former lives.

But in the end it didn’t help to take my mind off of my Justin.  All I painted was endless portraits of Him.

My guards, or as they like to call themselves, "keepers", try to get me to paint other subjects, but I just make painting after painting of my Baby, Baby, Baby.

My guards, or as they like to call themselves, “keepers”, tried to get me interested in other subjects, but I just made painting after painting of my baby, baby, baby.

So here I am, and it appears that here I shall remain.  Instead of a 7 million dollar mansion in Hollywood, I get to live on an island in a zoo with horror of horrors, OTHER MONKEYS!  Don’t they know I am practically a person?  Don’t they know WHO I AM?  Or, I guess I should say, who I was…

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