Humps & Hills (tee, hee)

I was taking requests this morning for breakfast. So today was bacon (of course), and a traditional favorite from Corinne’s side of the family: Norwegian Oven Pancakes (aka: Humps & Hills).

Humps and Hills

(Insert Butt-Head laugh here.)

The breakfast part was a fantastic success in spite of Corinne’s derisive laughter at my inability to use her great-grandma’s mixer. (My Mom didn’t love me enough to teach me to use a hand mixer correctly.)

The mixer

All four of the still-at-home kids go nuts for Humps & Hills, and it’s great to see something that gets teenagers excited and engaged.

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But the sophomoric giggling part of breakfast was even better than usual this morning because last night, Molly and I (and Josh and Quinn at various times) watched most of Beavis & Butt-Head Do America. (It’s 1 hour, 20 minutes. I made it through 1 hour, which, I’m quite certain is a new record for anyone over 40.)

So Molly and I spent this morning sharing good food and breathy, stoner chuckles at quasi-dirty jokes. Family bonding is in the eye of the beholder.

Dick Van Fatten my dog up

Are you sure you're a dog?
Genetic testing would confirm that Jasmine is a dog. But she's nobody's Balto.

There is no proud, regal wolf ancestor peering down from the heaven to which all dogs go and nodding thoughtfully as if to say, "Yes. THAT is my bloodline."

For years I've given Kirby the guinea pig more dog cred than Jasmine.

She was skinny. Her hair would get tragically matted way too quickly. She was whiney and a fantastically conflicted combination of timid and aggressive that may have made sense to Cesar but always just left me shaking my head.

That's just who she was. She was one of us and we pretty much loved her. But she sure wasn't going to win many favorite pet contests in a house currently occupied by personalities like Shouko and Bijou. Such is life.

Then our dogs got the runs.

In the process of trying to firm that situation up, one thing we did was throw out their current bag of food. For a few days I was actually fixing boiled chicken and rice for three dogs twice a day. But anyone who knows me knows THAT shit ain't gonna fly for very long, so we needed to get some dog food.

Partly in the interest of making sure our dogs were happy and comfortable (but mostly just because I didn't want to go back to cleaning up runny dog crap several times a day) we opted to temporarily switch from our regular super-premium brand of dog food up to some sort of insanely expensive ultra-mondo-uber-premium dog food.

At least for a little while, Iams was out. And Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance was in.

As '70s quasi-celebrity endorsements go, this seems to be among the more random. Suzanne Somers for the Thighmaster? That made sense because her claim to fame was that she was allegedly hot. (I was always more of a Janet guy than a Chrissy guy.) Sally Struthers for the Christian Children's Fund? That was totally in character.

But this? Seriously. Did the Bradfords even HAVE a dog?

Well, whatever. As Tom Bradford, he may not have known anything about birth control, but as Dick Van Patten he's totally got dog food figured out.

Jasmine's so happy now she can't hold still for a picture.
Shouko and Bijou are fine. But, with the exception of that brief intestinal episode, they were fine before. Jasmine, on the other hand, has officially flourished. She's put on at least 40 percent additional body weight. Her hair's calmed down. She's just generally happier. She's even started doing DOG things like finding smelly stuff and rolling around in it.

Jasmine, why the heck are you pink?
Who knew we were starving our dog by buying Iams? (For real. That stuff's not cheap. It's not like we were shoveling Atta Boy down their throats or something.) So, while the two bigger dogs are migrating back to regular dog food, I think we're going to keep spending some extra extra money to keep Jasmine under Dick Van Patten's watchful eye.

Now. Where do I go for a bottle of that Gavin MacLeod Kitchen & Bathroom Cleanser? (Just kidding. No way Gavin could come up with anything to top simplyneutral!)

My Life Aspiring to the D List


NOTE: This headline is in no way intended to imply that any of the guests attending the event to which I'm about to refer could or should be assigned to any "D List." I don't judge. I'm just alluding to the rumor that Kathy Griffin was going to show up…and how that very concept scared the crap out of my poor boss.

So I just got back from a few days in Los Angeles. You'll hear all about it cuz I'm probably going to milk this trip for a bunch of posts since the bulk of my day-to-day existence is boring like watching the bonus features on the DVD from season one of Numbers. (Hey, Mister. Are you calling a non-threateningly cute genius who solves crimes through math boring? Yes. Yes I am.)

Big picture, Corinne and I were there for work. Creative Memories has been working with Nancy O'Dell (former co-host of Access Hollywood, current co-host of Your OWN Show…). She just finished writing a book about how important scrapbook albums can be in raising happy, self-confident kids. I edited it and Corinne was the art director on the project. I'm not going to make any jokes about that (and not just because it could cost me my job) because I really do think that's pretty darned cool. She totally lives this stuff. If you were to cut Nancy O'Dell – and, let me be clear, I am in no way suggesting that you do – she would bleed fade-resistant, bleed-resistant (okay, that doesn't make any sense dumbshit) ink in any of six lovely jewel-tone colors.

The main event of the trip was the book launch party at the insanely swanky SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. Now, I've never been to a Hollywood book launch party, so in my mind I had the event bracketed somewhere between:

An Academy Awards Red Carpet Arrivals Show


The Hamster Party we threw in our sophomore dorm floor study lounge where everyone brought a newspaper to shred and throw on the floor

I knew it was going to be something in between those two, coolnesswise.

So here are a few highlights.

Booze: Open bar with wine and beer. I thought this was a good thing, but I was wrong. It became a GREAT thing when I asked the bartender what they had for beer. "Um…Let's see… Bud, Miller Lite, Coors Light…and this Long Hammer IPA from RedHook."

Free RedHooks? Score! (Although it is a little awkward to approach the bar and ask, "Excuse me, do you have a Long Hammer back there?") Bacchus was protecting me from getting out of hand (which is good, because I was working and representing my company) by making sure that most of my bottles were tipped over by co-workers. And I couldn't even get up in anyone's face because all their titles started with "Vice President of". The bottles that didn't get spilled were mostly snatched prematurely by overeager waiters. No biggie. Still tasty.

Brushes with fame: The nicest famous person I met that night was Jeff Probst from Survivor. Wow. Just a really nice guy. And, when I explained that my son was such a fan that I had to switch my regular visitation night with my kids from Wednesday to Thursday this fall (because Quinn and his mom love to watch Survivor together), he got all excited about writing a note and signing an autograph for them.

The famous person I was most excited about meeting that night was Alison Sweeney. Corinne and I are huge avid Biggest Loser fans. She was nice, but seemed just a little distracted and standoffish. Nothing wrong with that when you're talking to some creepy guy you don't know. The only reason I even mention it is because it made her reaction that much more dramatic when I mentioned Jesse. "What?! How do you know Jesse? I love that guy!"

Then I had to admit that my connection was pretty weak. "Um…this guy we work with used to be his college roommate."

[Ali's look says, "You've got to be fucking kidding me. That's it?" But the only sound is the awkward pause.]

"But the guy at work, he sits, like, right next to me… And Brady – that's the guy's name – Brady's a really good guy… Seems like Jesse's probably a really good guy too… I'll bet I'd really like him… If I ever actually met him… Did I mention I went to that same college?… Only that was a lot earlier than Jesse and Brady… And Brady's the guy I work with… Really nearby…"

At that point I went looking for another Long Hammer. Cuz my hammer was feeling particularly short.

More details from the trip to come!



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Thank God for better offers

On the evening of Friday, June 16, 1994, my friend Scott Hyland stopped by the house. I don't remember if it was an unannounced drop in or just a quickly planned visit. I just remember it turned into a fantastic evening filled with good conversation, laughter, music and a couple of beers. And at the end of the evening, I was very glad he'd come.

The next day I was even more glad.

Because, for those of you who don't remember, June 16, 1994, was the evening when Al Cowlings drove his friend Orenthal James Simpson very slowly around the greater Los Angeles area for about two hours, followed by about 20 police cars and the eyeballs of every sad loser in the world who didn't have anything better to do on a Friday night than watch "breaking news" on TV.

If Scott hadn't come by, I'm pretty sure I would have been one of those losers. So thank you, God, for presenting better offers.

Last night was a similar deal. Some friends had a get together. Corinne (my completely insane wife…but that's a different story) and I attended and enjoyed a wonderful evening of talking, laughing, eating, drinking and enjoying weather that can't accurately be described as fall.

And one of the key advantages of this particular gathering on this particular evening was that it included no baseball fans. So it saved me the weeping anguish (or, even worse, resigned apathy) of watching this.


I just need to let go. I need to revise my expectations and clarify what baseball should mean to me. I should define the value that I find in baseball and eliminate the excesses that can evidently only lead to heartache.

Moving forward, baseball to me will be:

  • An optimistic and eagerly anticipated sign that; when spring training starts, spring is on its way.

  • An enjoyable radio soundtrack to a summer Friday evening barbecue or a Sunday afternoon garage project.

  • A beautiful way to blow a bunch of money at least once a year on tickets, parking and overpriced concessions.

  • Something to fill the sports scene until the NFL season has a chance to get into full swing.

I won't have any October expectations from Minnesota baseball in the future. I won't. I can't.

So thank you, Gina and Eric, for offering me a distraction last night. And thank you, Twins, for helping to make my summer great…but my fall miserable. (Don't you know that last part is supposed to be the Vikings' job?)

Boy meets girl


So this morning I heard about a teenage girl (stop guessing, not related) who’s having boyfriend troubles. They dated. They broke up… He’s not getting the hint.

Her dad’s had to talk with him. Recently, on prom night, the police had to get involved. Yuck.

It all sounds really unfortunate because, from everything I’ve heard, he’s a good kid. He just sounds a little misguidedly lovestruck (at least at this point). Awkward. Because I don’t want anyone to misunderstand my point here – there’s a whole world of possessive, abusive, controlling behavior out there and it’s terrible. I don’t want to minimize that. (Quite the opposite, in fact.) My question is, how much of that have we brought upon ourselves?

Every romantic comedy ever filmed has the same general plot line: Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back. The hilarity ensues in the details of how he loses the girl and then the crazy lengths he goes to in order to prove his love and get the girl back.

See the problem here? The repeated message is that, if she says she never wants to see you again, that just means you need to try some crazier shit. What’s that? She’s still not coming around? Don’t worry. Once she sees that you’re willing to go this far, she’ll break down into a weepy smile, somebody will crank up some Coldplay, and you’ll drop your lunch trays and hug it out right there in the cafeteria while everyone cheers and claps.

I wonder if there’s a potential screenplay waiting to be written and right this wrong. I’m trying to think of a way to keep it romantic comedy rather than going to the other end of the cliché spectrum and turning it into a Sleeping-With-the-Enemy-style cautionary tale. See what I mean? The guys are either hopeless romantics who won’t take no for an answer. (I’m picturing John Cusack here.) Or they’re psychological terrorists who must be stopped. And the only difference is in the actual use of physical violence and the theme music.

Do we, as media consumers, bear some responsibility if we end up raising a generation of stalkers?