Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I got an award!! (but it wasn't for my legs)

My good friend, neighbor, and blog-pal, Alida, did the kindest thing yesterday - she gave me my first-ever blog award (that wasn't a picture of a potato boat)!  CLICK HERE to see her super-cool post about it.  Alida is awesome and it totally made my day.

Before you see the actual award, I should point out that the vast majority of my blog readers are female, and the percentage goes even higher when you look at the comments.  I don't know why that is, I really don't.  I know less about females than your average guy, just ask the Mrs. HTF - so I wouldn't have the vaguest idea of how to write things they'd want to read.  Sometimes I chalk it up to the female compassion thing - "Oh look, there he goes, trying to write again, ahhh, I feel for that guy, therefore I will read what he wrote and even act interested sometimes."  Anyway, I'm not sure, but I'll certainly take what I can get and I'll say unequivocally that MY READERS ROCK!  That being said, it's time for the unveiling of the award (you're about to find out why I even mentioned the whole female reader thing):


That's right friends!  My award is a skinny lady with a huge hat and a tiny dog.  Pretty cool, huh?! - I'm kinda sure that I'm supposed to be the Terrier, cuz the legs on the lady don't look much like mine.  Now getting this award has some strings attached: (note that the use of the word "fabulous" is not really my thing, it was a copy/paste and I'm scared of messing up the chain letter thing)

1. You have to pass it on to 5 other fabulous blogs in a post.
2. You have to list 5 of your fabulous addictions in the post.
3. You must copy and paste the rules and the instructions below in the post.

So, here are 5 awesome fabulous bloggers that I bequeath this award to in no particular order, intentionally choosing some of the most frequent HTF contributors:

1.  Marie from Kansas Johnsons.  She a strong mommy-blogger who also writes pretty funny stuff that happens with her family.  Marie's had a bunch of posts that have left me laughing for a long time.  Her kids are hilarious.  She's semi-dry and to-the-point, two of my favorite blogger skillz.

2.  Becca from Rebecca's Ramblings.  Also a lot of great family stories and you can tell she writes what she thinks.  She also mixes in some culture and some refreshing randomness (good name for a rock band).  This girl gets the award for most frequent blog redesign - and she's a great writer. Cool photos sometimes too.

3. Gonzalo from A Nice Deed.  You might remember my good buddy Gonzalito from the day my blog was hijacked.  His posts always make me think and the pictures/video are usually amazing.  Also, he inspires me to change the world for good, at least a little bit.  He always has.

4. JJ from The Conroys.  She always has a stylish design and a super-cool signature that she sometimes drops at the end of posts.  I like that she writes about real-life, but isn't afraid to include the warm & fuzzy.  She comes strong with the photos too.

5. AGM from Permanent Signage.  Probably the most frequent HTF contributor.  Hopefully you read along with her blog because we share a few jokes/references back and forth.  AGM hits on pop culture, politics, muppets, an ongoing saga with the water department and high-fashion,  I'm sure there's a master plot in there that none of us are bright enough to figure out yet.  The posts always crack me up.

Now the 5 odd fabulous HTF addictions: The West Wing, counting to 16 before I turn off the shower, fleece, fiber-one chocolate bars, and Dave Barry.

I hope you were able to make it through this super-long post.  Coming soon - the "winners" (air-quotes intended) of the drawing and the Top HTF Posts of 2008!

Other instructions for the winners that I was commanded to copy/paste:  Upon receipt of this award, make sure you include the person that gave you the award and link it back to them. When you post your five winners, make sure you link them as well. To add the award to your post, simply right-click, save image, then "add image" it in your post as a picture so your winners can save it as well. To add it to your sidebar, add the "picture" gadget. Also, don't forget to let your winners know they won an award from you by emailing them or leaving a comment on their blog. Congratulations!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Cycle and the Blue Sheep

As many of you know I'm back in KC with the family for a couple weeks.  It's been awesome, a bit like coming up for air after diving far too deep in the pool.  But it hasn't been without its, uh, glitches moments.  To go from living totally alone to living back with the family DURING CHRISTMAS VACATION is a pleasant shock to the system.  But it can feel a little like trying to run a marathon after not running a step for a few years.  You see, the kids (all 4 of 'em) are on the constant Christmas-binge-and-crash-cycle. 

It's really quite something to see.  They happily play, even sharing at rare moments and we all have a great time.  Then the tension creeps in and before you know it they're reprimanding each other, and sometimes me, for deep offenses such as accidentally putting the daddy doll in the kid's nursery room in the doll house.  (of course I had no idea I was committing an actual atrocity since to my untrained-eye all the rooms look pretty similar)  Then the kids play harder and harder (and consume additional sugar), which results in much more impressive yelling and statements shouted at me including, "I don't want to eat now or ever!!!"  (actual quote from my 7 year old when I tried to peal him away from the new Wii for lunch) 

But eventually comes the crash portion of the cycle, which is beautiful to watch, assuming you've kept a safe distance.  At the peak of the super-rational-freak-out (good name for a rock band) the IMG_0361child suddenly falls totally asleep no matter where they are.  Oh they might fight it, but it's clear the brain has shut down.  For instance, instead of shouting, "I don't want to sleep on my bed" they may say, "I kicked a blue sheep on a shed."  The tough part is that it's nearly impossible to predict the crash, but if you have the stamina to endure the rest of the day, observing the child falling asleep can be like a hot shower after shoveling all of the snow on your driveway with your hands while wearing shorts.  (I probably overreached on that particular metaphor) 

Don't get me at all wrong, my kids are great and usually marvelous to deal with - we've had some awesome moments the last few days and there is no place on the planet I'd rather be.  I'm the luckiest guy you know.  But the cycle is cracking me up.  Anyway, I have one more week to soak up the fun before I'm back in Seattle and the kids are back to the normalcy of school schedules.  Until then you can count on me to take in every minute whether or not I'm being tongue-lashed for such offenses as enforcing a strict midnight-toy-curfew on the kids.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to the Readers and a Shot at a Prize

First and foremost I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. Hopefully your day has been somewhat similar to mine, which generally has consisted of:

- Watching small children opening presents and emitting sounds of glee.
- Staging a full-scale extraction to get the toys out of the packaging, using power tools and everything
- Watching the youngest experience her first present-opening-euphoria, where even after everything was opened she was frantically searching for more
- Eating stuff
- Simultaneously playing dollhouse, Legos, Wii, and Memory in an attempt to keep everyting happy

So as you can see, it's been an awesome Navidad so far.

The Mrs. HTF already posted a little something.

I also wanted to thank each of you, or at least both of you who read this, for reading along with HTF this year. It's been an interesting year and between my family, the election, the olympics, your questions/comments and other real-life stuff there's been no shortage of material. I've had a ball reading your comments and pseudo-answering your questions. Thanks for making this a great year that way.

In the spirit of all of the other top-10 lists of everything that get published at year-end I'll be doing my own top-10 posts list in the next week or so. But I'm asking for your help, and there could be a little something in it for you too. Please post a comment or drop me an e-mail with your favorite HTF posts of 2008 (that's assuming you liked at least a couple of 'em). You don't need to provide justification or anything (unless you wanna), just a list of 3-5 is fine. Here's the fun part - everyone who submits a list will be entered into a drawing for fantastic prizes which you're guaranteed to either like or regift to someone you don't really dig. I'll randomly pick a winner. (It's Christmas, I'm in a giving mood)

So thanks again for playing along with the blog this year. I hope you're having a great day with family and friends. As for me, I'm off to build a lego castle if we can figure out how to get the actual legos out of the box.

Much luv,


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

You Can Do It!!!

Looking for a little inspiration before you tackle the wrapping of the presents or the final trip to the store, HTF is here for ya. Check this out (yes, you can be insprired and laugh at the same time):

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Shopping and Dangerous Fish

As usually happens, the Mrs. HTF has done all of the Christmas shopping.  It's not like she doesn't try to involve me.  She asks me what I think we should buy for certain people and my responses, while often lengthy, can pretty much be summarized in one word:

"Uhhhh . . ."

I'm a guy, so my idea of shopping is that you go to a store, THEN you decide what to buy.  All this "planning" seems like a huge waste of time.  Granted, I certainly overpay, and sometimes I find myself in a sporting goods store looking for gifts for my grandma who can barely walk.  Often I will just buy the first shiny object I see and call it a successful day.  (my wife didn't like the aluminum foil I bought her last year)  See shopping is literally painful to me.  I have the attention span of a 3 year old reading War & Peace.  So speed is key.  One other thing - I am scared to death of intense female shoppers.  I respect them in much the same way I respect sharks (cool to observe from a very safe distance, but no desire to come in contact with them).  Several years ago I made one of those Black Friday ventures at 5 AM to a Walmart (at my wife's behest) and I'm not making this up - I came out with bruises from the shopping carts of obsessed women.  So in addition to being a bad shopper, I'm also kinda scared of it. 

And now you can see why I'm not in charge of the gift buying.  (I pretty much just get consulted after the gifts are purchased so I'm not the one acting surprised when the kids open things up and thank me.)  So if you happen to get a gift from me this year - thank Traci first and then let me know what I bought you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

To Click or Not To Click - The Dilemma of the book

I sat down tonight to punch out a blog, but literally nada came to mind.  However, a quick peak into the mailbag solved that problem in a hurry.  Warning - if you don't use Facebook (and I know there are still a few of you holding out) this question and answer won't make quite as much sense.  Or perhaps you'll make more sense of it than I will because this one is a winner:

Dear HTF,

As you know, I am new to Facebook & I’m still trying to figure it out.  I thought it was supposed to be a friendly place, but whenever I sign on, I find that people are throwing everything under the sun at me: snowballs, drinks, iceballs, ornaments, flair, etc.  It is a little overwhelming.  What is all of this stuff??  When I click on the links, the computer asks to access all of my private info, & I freeze, back slowly away, & hope that it didn’t notice me.  And, what in the heck is a poke??  When I went to the help page, it just says that a poke “can be used for a variety of things.”  Like what?  Can I get it to fix my dryer?  Move my car when the no parking zone goes into effect?  Cook me a spaghetti dinner?  Take me to Ikea?

I went to my all knowing sister for advice, & she advised me to ignore all the extraneous stuff & continue just focusing on what I have been doing--posting random Muppet videos, replying to my own posts, and trying to figure out if I know these people from high school or from my television.  That’s easy for her to say because she has over 200 friends.  She can ignore pokes and snpotato boatowballs, lose 20 or 30 friends, and still have more people in her all star roster than there are in Plymouth Village, Kentucky (pop. 201). 

So I decided to turn to you, Captain Facebook, for your thoughts on the matter.  As part of my appreciation, I am throwing at you what I think will become the newest and most popular application in Facebook:  the potato boat!

AGM, doing my share to fill the HTF mailbox since 2008

Well, AGM, you both called me "Captain Facebook" and awarded me a potato boat, for which I am deeply troubled appreciative.  In my first week of joining The Book (I'm told that's what the kids are calling these days) over a year ago I was bitten by a werewolf, kidnapped, involved in a Mob-related Jewelry Store Heist, hit by the aforementioned snowball, invited to overthrow a government (I'm not sure which one), involved in the "worlds biggest pillow fight," and got Super-poked (OUCH) by someone I supposedly knew in high school, which made me really uncomfortable.  (If you thought a normal poke was powerful, you should see what a SuperPoke can do.  I once used one to make Rosie O'Donnell stop talking - that's powerful.) 

So I was a bit overwhelmed like you.  I'm a pleaser you see - someone who tries to keep the peace and not ruffle feathers - keep the sailing smooth - don't rock the boat - you get the idea (those idioms would all be great band names).  But then I discovered the "IGNORE BUTTON."  After pushing it a few times I felt really empowered.  Now I hit that baby a half dozen times a day.  Yeah, I have just a few friends on The Book and you'd think they'd get the idea that I never, almost never, click "ACCEPT."  But I guess they are intent on involving me in their lives of crime or at least giving me a virtual bruise. 

So my friend, this post is a bit long already, so just take my advice - Click ignore, unless it's something like a really cool piece of "flair" with a chimp throwing fedoras or something.  In that case you fire some of that action my way!

Monday, December 15, 2008

To Pile On or Not To Pile On

Tonight I took a gander (not goose-related) at the HTF mailbag to see who's been naughty (those who never post comments or submit questions) and who's been nice (everyone else).  Here was one of the festive questions I found, appropriately titled "X-mas Excess":


I'd like to gain your perspective on Christmas - and the pile of presents stacked around the house the day after.  Are the presents a distraction to what Christmas should be about, a way to show those around us how much we appreciate them (in a materialistic sense), or something else I'm completely missing?  The day after I find myself toggling between "all these presents are just way overboard" and "look at the kids faces and the memories a great Christmas has provided them".  Any wisdom you can shed is much appreciated.


My friend, that's a marvelous question, and it's one that plagues millions of parents.  First let me say that you certainly don't need to buy me a huge pile of presents.  I'm good with a small mound.  But for perspective on this one we need to remember what Christmas used to be like before we got into this never-ending holiday-gift-giving-arms-war.  Way back when, by which I mean WAY BACK even before the internet, families would gather around a not-particularly-impressive potted plant on Christmas Eve.  (This, of course, evolved into our current tradition of chopping down entire forests of perfectly healthy trees and putting them in our living rooms the way nature intend.)  But in the old days the families would sit down, sing a few songs, and instead of exchanging presents, they'd simply give each other a series of verbal compliments.  However, as you might imagine doing this in your own family, these compliments could get just a little back-handed.  For example:

- Mom might say to the teenage boy, "Merry Christmas, Joey.  You are doing so well on learning to drive.  I like that our mailbox is now a hood ornament on your car."  OR

- Dad might say to Mom, "Merry Christmas, Honey.  I reviewed our insurance records and your cooking, with the resulting ER visits, helped us get to our out-of-pocket deductible much quicker this year."

At this point Mom reaches for the nearby lump of coal and flings it at Dad's jolly head.  Now you all know where the festive little "lump of coal" (good name for a rock band) tradition comes from.  So times were simpler then, and clearly better.  All the gifts we do now are a perfectly acceptable substitute for conversation and in some cases they do make for great memories, particularly the ones that you spend several weeks assembling and the ones that break before your Christmas Day nap.  (but those can be some pricey memories)  So as you toggle (great word choice by the way) this holiday season between the massive pile of happiness you will bequeath on the kids and the realization that you are, in fact, WAY overdoing it - try this - substitute a few of the gifts for some heartfelt words of love.  And after your kids have forgiven you, take them directly to the toy store. 

Thanks for the question!!

You too can get a "response" to your question like BP.  Send 'em in to henrythefrog@gmail.com.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Things You Can Buy In Illinois

Oftentimes real life is way crazier than anything they could put into movies or even into episodes of Grey's Anatomy.  Today's events surrounding the "Governor" (air quotes intended) of Illinois are a perfect example of this.  Thanks to alert reader, AGM, who pointed this story out to me and has already blogged about who would play this guy in the surely forthcoming made-for-TV movie.  If you're not up to date on the story, it's basically this, presented in bullet-point format because I work in corporate America:

- Illinois Governor Rod "Helmut-Hair" Blagojevichiwiczisnicklefritz was arrested at his house at 6 AM this morning after a really long investigation which consisted mostly of Federal Agents watching him say STUPID things on CNN.  Oh yeah, and they wiretapped his phone and office too.  What, you may ask, did he do wrong? . . . .

- With Barak Obama getting the small promotion from junior senator of Illinois to Supreme Commander of Everything, his senate seat was "open."  You'd think they'd have a rule where you had to pull a sword out a rock or something to get that seat, but no, the governor could just pick pretty much anyone he wants.  So he had a great Idea, which was . . .

- "Let's auction it off for charity to the highest bidder!!"  (with the proceeds going directly to me and my wife)  This seemed perfectly reasonable, since he probably consulted with the previous governor of Illinois, who, and I'm not making this up, is currently in prison.  Makes you proud to be an Illinoisian I'm sure.  But that's not the craziest part.  The most brazen part of the deal was . . .

- He KNEW the feds were listening in, and still tried to make the sale.  (you gotta read up on this guy's history, it's amazing)  Pretty sure that when he posted bail this morning he offered Barry's seat to the District Attorney for a hair brush and a piece of gum.  There's a lot more to the story, but you get the gist of it.  You should read the actual articles if you're not sufficiently excited for the upcoming movie.

What is up with politics in Illinois?!  Tonight on CNN, Roland Martin, who very recently was "prouder than ever to be from Chicago" was suddenly from Texas (that sentence was true).  The President-Elect, when asked about the events, claimed to have never heard of Illinois, and then said something powerful about hoping for change. (that part's less-than-true)  The best part of the whole thing is that this story is just getting started.  And the other best part is that I now know what I want the Mrs. HTF to buy me for Christmas!!

A Senate Seat!!!  (or maybe just a Wii)

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Little HTFers are Dancing Elves!!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

A Foray Into Pop Tunes

There was a time when I was a pop-music-fiend (rock band name).  I knew every song, every "artist" (air-quote emphasized), and tons of facts about what was going on in top-40 land.  I could tell you who was hot and who was a has-been, understanding that an act could move from one list to the other within 48 hours time.  Well, that was then, and now, . . . I'm . . . uh . . . ancient.  At least I feel that way sometimes.  So this weekend I couldn't sleep one night so I turned on the VH1, and to my complete shock there wasn't a celebrity reality show on at all, it was the Top-20 countdown.  Figuring that would teach me all I needed to know to get back into the loop.  Here were a few things I picked up:

- So I thought Brittney Spears was forever a punchline, and I was right about that part, but she has a new video and record.  In this particular video she's wearing absolutely nothing, which makes it remarkably similar to other appearances in her bizarre career.  There was no snake involved this time, and somehow she had hair.  Didn't she shave it all off a while ago? - I sure wish I knew her high speed hair growth secret.

- Beyonce had 2 videos in the countdown, but it felt like there were 6.  The best one was her and two other ladies doing a funky dance in leotards (now that is a hilarious word - doesn't that totally should like an 11-year old insult: "YOU'RE JUST A STUPID LEOTARD!!!") while telling single ladies to tell the guys that they should "put a ring on it."  Catchy tune, but I'm not sure how the guys will feel about being lectured like that on TV.  I am sure that the video got old fast.

- Katy Perry scares me . . . but she was on the countdown

- The biggest takeaway was that the American Idol People don't always just disappear.  I don't watch the show, but I pick up what's happening by osmosis through coworkers.  The Davids were #1 and #2 on the countdown.  Archuleta was #2 with what I think was the best pop song on the show.  Cook was #1 and the song was lame.  And this was one of those videos where the actors portraying the story keep getting interrupted by over-done, annoying images of the band pretending to play the song.  But hey, winning American Idol entitles you to a few bombs that will still be surprisingly popular.

So I walked away from the thing with the realization that not knowing everything about pop music is really just fine.  You may love it all, and that's ok.  As for me, I'll somehow survive not watching that again for a few years, by which time Ms. Spears will probably be making her 12th big comeback. 

In honor of my little adventure I've added a couple of tunes I heard to my playlist - take a listen . . .

Friday, December 05, 2008

Attack of the Killer Air-Quotes

Let's take a little peak into the mailbag . . .

Dear HTF:
So what’s the deal with “air quotes”?  If you’re trying to “make a point”, don’t “air quotes” just distract the person you’re “talking” to?  Didn’t John McCain learn this “lesson”?  Or am I just easily “distracted” and should instead “get back to work” and stop sending silly “questions” just so I can “share” my inane “comments” with the “blogosphere”?

I feel like a little "context" or "history" might help here.  Air Quotes, which I will call AQs for the rest of this post because I work in corporate American and anything worth saying has to be made into an acronym, actually originated at the time of Noah.  Yes, the one with the really big zoo-on-a-boat.  See there was a guy at that time named Philanthropus, who obviously went by Phil, who was Noah's next-door-neighbor.  When Noah started telling everyone about the rain, repentance, and stuff, Phil was  really skeptical, and he also happened to write for the local paper, which was a tough job since paper hadn't even been invented.  Anyway, in the paper he would quote Noah often, constantly making fun of him, showing mocking skepticism, and taking his words out of context.  (If Phil would've survived the little flood, his descendents would all work on cable news today)  Phil was asked to speak arkto the town and in his remarks we see the first documented use of AQs.  He felt the need to distinguish the psycho-babble of Noah about a "coming storm" from his own words.  And the AQs were his tool of choice. 

So we have "good-old-Phil" (good name for a rock band) to thank for introducing this nice little non-verbal messaging device.  History will remember him for AQs, but it won't remember him for being a particularly strong swimmer.

Thanks for the question, CM.  Hope you think about Phil whenever you drop AQs on folks.

Send your questions/comments into henrythefrog@gmail.com.  I promise to do my best to either answer them or write something totally unrelated to what you ask.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Alone vs very much not alone

So it's kinda weird being a visitor in my own house, but I'm sitting at the airport right now headed back to Seattle.  I absolutely loved being home.  It seriously feels like a vacation.  The kids even seem to like it when I'm there, but some more than others.  I busted the oldest little HTFer the first night I was home as he tried to rifle through my suitcase looking for presents.  As he walked by me on the way to his sentencing in his bedroom he muttered, "it's harder to do stuff when you're home."  That's music to my ears.  The time was great and the kids and the Mrs HTF were a ball.  But being back home I am learning a bit about the contrast between living alone and living with the family.  Here are just a few observations:

- Living alone, when I leave my clothes on the floor in my bedroom, for some strange reason, they're still there when I get home at night.  This never happened at home.

- By some law of nature, kids almost always want you to get up before you actually want to.  The whole getting-up thing is totally different when you're alone.

- Cooking for yourself is really unfun.  I'd rather make 2 boxes of mac 'n cheese for the kids and a few neighbor friends.

- My wife pointed out multiple times that keeping the kids on a schedule is much easier with me gone.  Apparently my presence like triples the length of time it takes to get the kids to bed.  I don't have a good explanation for that, but bedtime seemed really fun to me . . . I don't know what she's complaining about.

Those are just a few of the observations.  It's hard to be leaving again, but I'll be back in a few weeks.  If you wanna call and talk to me, you should do it around bedtime, because I'll probably be locked in the basement.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Posers, Stabbers and Squinting at Lights

So I've never been a big fan of posing for pictures of any kind.  And I've learned over the last 9 years or so of fatherhood that adding multiple children to the mix really only makes things worse, and makes the smiles that much more fake.  We have a set of family photos where one daughter literally was crying the entire time.  So busting a grin for the camera became a bit like asking someone on a date while someone else was jabbing a sharpened pencil into your back repeatedly. 

(true story, I was once stabbed so hard with a pencil by a female 5th-grade classmate that I had to go to the nurse's office - I was left to assume that the girl either really hated me or really liked me, but I was just a kid with pencil lead in my back) 

Well today we took the little HTFers to the photographer and did our annual ritual of faking smiles so we can send out photos to people who we think like us at Christmas.  It went well, but in the end we were all pretty spent.  And that's when the wise studio-workers try to sell you stuff.  They know you're worn down and just wanna get out, so they fix up "packages" which often include several thousand wallet-sized photos of your kids staring into a light and trying not to squint.  (of course they don't cut out the pictures for you - they don't have that kind of time, because there's always a big line of gullible festive families there to photograph)  Still, the pictures turned out fine, although somehow we bought so many that we even ended up with pictures of other families too.  (that last part wasn't entirely true - Traci was actually quite frugal.) 

* The term "little HTFers" was coined by my good friend, "Little Scott" - he is known to his kids, and I'm not making this up, as "King Daddy, The Great, The Fifth" - which I thought was an excellent title.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It may not be an afro, but it's clean!!

Last week I had to drop by the store to pick up a few things.  I chose a Target since it's a place I'm kinda familiar with. This is important since I still have a big fear of shopping.  I grabbed everything on my abbreviated bachelor list.  But there was one item that I should've easily found, but couldn't seem to track down.  This was something I hadn't bought for myself in well over a decade, so it wasn't a shocker that I couldn't locate it.  And that item was . . .


Now if you know me at all, you'll know that my head is a lot more like a cue-ball than a chia-pet.  Still, there is a bit of hair on there and I burned through the tiny bottle that came with the apartment I'm living in.  It took two whole months to do it though.  I kinda have the George Costanza thing going on just a little.  My kids draw pictures of me and the top is always totally bald, but there are these little patches on the sides.  Male-pattern baldness is a beautiful thing!

Back to my search - I looked everywhere and spent a large bit of time walking up and down the "body-wash-aisle."  Who knew there were 8,321 types of body wash?!  I thought the shampoo was gonna be nearby, but wow was I wrong.  After the long search I finally fought off my guy instincts and asked a "red shirt with khaki-pants-wearing" Target girl where the shampoo was.  I TOTALLY caught her glancing at my head and asking herself internally why in the world I'd need shampoo.  Nice.  I let her off the hook and told her it was for my wife.  She showed me to the aisle and I scored a small 87 cent bottle of Suave.  How did I celebrate my find you might ask?

That night I shaved everything off my entire melon with a razor for the first time in my life.  (I"m not entirely sure why I did this)

So if anyone needs shampoo, you can borrow mine - this bottle's gonna last me a while.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vampires at Midnight and the Precautions Guys Should Take

I intended to write about the rapidly worsening economic crisis, but that got way too depressing and since I was online I was tempted to look at my 401K, so I killed that noise.  Then I was tempted to write about the crack team of rivals that President-elect Barry is putting together to cause "change we can believe in."  This would've included a detailed description about how the strange kabookee-dance that Barak and Hilary are doing is exactly like most high-school dating.  But I'm taking a pass on that (still, trust me, it would've been good.)  So instead I'm going to tell you about something actually quite important that is at this moment grabbing the intense attention of a vast majority of the ladies in the house.  And that is . . .

"Twilight," which I think is a movie based on a book based on the real-life experiences of a teenage girl falling in love with a blood-sucking politician vampire boy, opened in theaters at midnight tonight.  Across the country men will  be going to bed alone while their wives are at the movies living vicariously through said teenage girl.  My suggestion to the guys out there, hang up some garlic and crosses or something before she gets home, because I'm just guessing that she's going to be a lot more welcoming to vampire men when she returns.  I'm tellin' ya, don't even let the kids watch The Count on Sesamee Street, because that lovely wife of yours might pull up a chair and swoon a bit, while counting along with your toddlers.  A quote I've heard about the blood-sucking hero in the book: "he knows how to treat a girl."  Are you listening guys?!  Those are frightening words - be afraid.  (and if, for your next date, you wanna borrow some of those plastic vampire teeth that you find everywhere on Halloween I'll hook you up)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Today I heard this song ("The Luckiest" by Ben Folds).  It made me really miss the Mrs. HTF, who I'll get to see in a few days!  I've added it to my little playlist.  So in lieu of the usual cheeky satire, which will return soon, I give you the lyrics:

I don't get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls
Brought me here

And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know

That I am
I am, I am
The luckiest

What if I'd been born fifty years before you
In a house on the street where you live?
Maybe I'd be outside as you passed on your bike
Would I know?

And in a wide sea of eyes
I see one pair that I recognize
And I know

That I am
I am, I am
The luckiest

I love you more than I have ever found a way to say to you
Next door there's an old man who lived to his nineties
And one day passed away in his sleep
His wife, she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away

I'm sorry, I know that's a
strange way to tell you that I know
we belong
That I know
That I am
I am, I am
The luckiest

Monday, November 17, 2008

Handle and/or Bite With Extreme Caution

Today we take an ever-so-cautious peek into the mailbag.  Here's what I found:

TUBERS: What would HTF suggest someone do with such things.  I have read that they are edible - but have found no recipes or claims that anyone has attempted to eat them.  I have also read that they can be stored and propagated the coming year. 

I am afraid that if I were to re-plant even one of them, that our neighborhood would be taken over.  The pictures do no justice. They are humungo! I wonder if they could be the next best thing in emergency preparedness, food storage or feeding the hungry children of the world while beautifying our planet at the same time.

Hope all is well on your side of the pond my dear frog friend.

- Becca

I'm always one with my radar turned on looking for funny words, and "tubers" is a clear-cut winner.  It is also multi-functional (kinda like the printer is supposed to be here at work, but as far as I can tell the Xerox's only function is to JAM).  For instance, it's a perfect insult: "Brandon, you're such a freakin' TUBER."  It's a term of endearment, "Ah, that baby is cute little TUBER."  OR, as is more often the case, it's a strong substitute for a swear word: (upon stubbing my pinky toe on the bed frame for the thousandth time) - "OH TUBER!!!"

Now, back to the question, which was about gnomes I think.  Oh, no, it was about tubers.  This form of vegetation, while it may be edible in the same way that shoe boxes are edible, is actually quite dangerous.  You can chop 'em up, but they won't stop growing under most conditions.  In fact, a few hundred years ago, a pirate, who I will call Captain Tuber (mostly because that would be a good name for a rock band) sailed into a tiny island in the very South Pacific called "Speck."  He had plundered (an excellent word as well) a jar of some type of vegetable from a mother in Malaysia.  He took a bite of it, and it was so HORRIFIC, that he dug a hole in the little island and buried the thing.  Well, the tuber grew, a lot, and that island now has a new name.  Most folks call it Australia.

So yeah, I guess tubers could be food storage and feed hungry children, but there's a reason you couldn't find any recipes.  That pirate was the last known human to take a bite of one.  A little known fact is that the ultimate weapon from the military isn't "NUCLEAR" it's "TUBULAR."  This means that if a country is really throwing down with us, we'll sneak some guys in there with garden gloves, bulletproof aprons, and one of those miniature shovels, and we'll plant 2 or 3 of those things.  It's a Weapon of Mass Vegetation.

Anyway, thanks for the great question, Becca.  I hope you enjoyed my photo of an actual Tuber.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

HTF The Podcast - Episode 3

A few months ago I threatened to start up the podcast again. Well, I'm finally getting around to the "meet the readers" series.
In this episode Scott interviews blog readers Becki and Jason. A few highlights:
- Jason calls Scott stupid.
- We learn the 5-letter swear word in their house,
- We listen to fantasy football cause a little marital discord
- Becki reveals Jason is a "football snob"
- Learn how you too can rent out your house for $20,000 a week
- And somehow Debbie Gibson's piano gets in the mix.

MP3 File

Remember you can subscribe to the feed or download on iTunes (just search for "HTF") Let me know what you think (comments/e-mail) and if you'd be willing to be interviewed for a podcast! :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Not in Kansas Anymore (part 1 of many)

I was warned when I moved here to Seattle that the people here were quite different from the Midwest. I haven't seen much of that, but then again, I pretty much stick to my apartment, my office, the gym, and Costco. Most everyone I've met has seemed pretty much like folks I knew in KC. So I decided to look up the Seattle newspaper online to see if I could find some examples of what they were talking about.

Well, this was the lead story. (give it a read, but just a quick one)

My favorite part was about the bicyclists who were "strutting their stuff" to "draw dependence to oil dependency." I'm sure that if anyone came across one of these chilly riders the first thing to cross their mind would absolutely be our frightening dependence on foreign oil.

Also, the line about "per se not illegal" was a bit (a lot) surprising.

So yeah, I guess some things are different here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Remembering The Great Marble Incident

I had a talk on the phone with my 9-year-old son tonight. I asked the questions my parents used to ask me and had the same conversation we've all had with our kids at the end of the day:

Me: How was school?

Him: Good

Me: What was good about it?

Him: I don't remember

Me: Ok, then, how was the rest of your day?

Him: Good

Me: (pausing . . .) Why was it good?

Him: I don't remember. Can I have your football that's in the closet? (I have a fancy autographed football in there that I won at some thing I don't remember)

At this point I racked my brain trying to think like a 9-year-old - not that tough actually. You see, they think pretty big, and they think immediate. Planning is something you do when you're old. And what happened 10 minutes ago was forgotten 8 minutes ago. As a 9-year-old boy you just want to maximize the fun - now.

For instance during fourth grade a conspiring friend and I decided that during indoor recess it would be a marvelous idea to sneak away to the bathroom and throw handfuls of marbles at the wall as hard as we could. Made perfect sense at the time. We laughed heartily as we dodged the careening marbles (good name for a rock band) while avoiding, most of the time, putting a shoe in the urinals. We'd pick the marbles up off of the super-duper-clean floor and make more throws. This was way better than Connect-Four! To our dismay a teacher walked in - catching me mid-throw. Somehow her spidey-senses had picked us up, since I'm sure we weren't making any audible noise, what with the ricocheting spheres and our prepubescent cackles . . .

So I guess my point is that I won't be frustrated with Ethan's not wanting to talk about the day. But you can bet that if he (who happens to go the same elementary school I went to) had happened to discover the power of high-velocity marbles and cinder-block restroom walls, we would've had a great talk about that.

And if you're wondering if I washed my hands after emerging from the scene of the crime all those years ago - I don't remember!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

HTF (back in control of the blog) Responds

I can't say that I've ever had my blog hacked, only to be repeatedly complimented.  Not sure what I did today that made all that goodness happen.  But I'm left speechless, and oddity for me, and humbled.  You were going to be reading a long-winded rebuttal, full of multi-syllabic words, denying everything, with both nouns and verbs, and even perhaps another photo of a walrus, but I'll just leave it at this.

Thank you. 

I'm a lucky guy to know you all.

A Guest (or rather a meddling wife) Posting For A Guest

My husband got this really nice email from a friend and I know he probably won't post it himself, so I'll do it for him. Let's see how long it takes before he notices that it's here. I'll let you know (that is, if he doesn't change his username or password.)


I know this goes against the HTF standards, but if thats Ok with you, Id like you to include this not as a comment, but as an entry into the Blog:

About this Blogger
Before anyone gets confused, this is not Henry The Frog writing today. My name is Gonzalo Peña, and I just asked HTF to include this entry in the blog. I just wanted to pay a little hommage to him, to whom a consider a friend and a brother, and to whom I will refer in this entry as "the blogger". I met the blogger in 1994 in (my native country) Venezuela, while serving as full-time missionaries for our Church . Back then both of us were new to the missionary experience, and needless to say, we felt quite self-concious and insecure, but with great desires to do good to those around us. Life as a missionary, contrary to the romantic vision some might hold, brings many hardships along with the undescribable joy that one might experience. I was only twelve hours away from home and yet I felt I had walked into a totally different world, I cant even imagine how the blogger might have felt. Despite all this, I was not only able to perceive the bloggers great heart and willingness to do good just by listening to the broken Spanish he spoke when he arrived to my country, but I was able to see firsthand his greatness and character when becoming his full-time missionary companion for several months. By the way, he became fluent in Spanish in a really short time (and he still is).

Later on I had the blessing of coming to USA to obtain an education, and for those of you who dont know, Caracas, Venezuela, does not resemble very much to Provo, Utah, in fact, Provo, Utah does not seem to match many places on the globe. Now it was my turn to REALLY feel like a fish out of water. That first year in the United States was not easy at all, and hardships made me go back home for a while before returning to finish my degree. But without going to details, The blogger and his beautiful wife were there for me when I needed it the most. I was able to feel their sincere love and ability to share whatever they had to accomodate a good friend. Their example that helped me keep going when I felt alone in a new country.

The blogger taught me that at the time of the importance of be valiant when defending the people one loves, and to be a good listener, to be faithful to your friends, to serve with a heart. This is the type of individual Henry The Frog is. I am grateful and joyful to be considered his friend.


Gonzalo A. Peña

Monday, November 10, 2008

Walruses, Lawyers, Yoda, The Guy With All The Medals, and Sunday Morning Talk Shows

Not being creative enough to come up with anything myself to blog about tonight.  I opened the not-so-full mailbag and came across a question that I think is quite timely.  Just a reminder - send in your questions/comments to henrythefrog@gmail.com so that you too can see your "name" in lights and learn absolutely nothing perhaps a bit of information that may or may not be entirely accurate.  Those questions needn't (a funny word) be long or particularly insightful themselves.  Some simple examples might be:

Amongst walruses, what is the biggest holiday?  OR

Was The White House named "The White House" before or after it was painted?  (chicken or the egg stuff) OR

So what would the downside be if mosquitos and/or lawyers suddenly became extinct?  (fun fact - multiple real lawyers read HTF, so I'm gonna get it for that one)

See, it's easy.  Also alert reader, CM, mentioned to me the other day, "I think comments are like crack to bloggers."  That was a bit humiliating, but I suppose it's a fair analogy.  Kinda pitiful I guess...  anyway, enough about that.  On to our question from an alert reader (who may or may not be an actual lawyer):

Dear HTF,

There has been a lot of speculation on who will be the next permanent host of Meet the Press.  Brokaw?  BriWi?  Andrea Mitchell?  Gregory?  Chris Matthews?  Chuck Todd?  Who do you think has the best shot?  OR do you think this is all a ruse & that NBC is going to pull a Palinian surprise (new band name??) &  actually name HTF as the new host?  If so, can I be your first guest?  I would like to have a VERY ANGRY DEBATE with Michael Half Fish/Half Man Phelps on . . . [hold on, I'm trying to figure that out] . . . on . . .

Oh, who am I kidding, I should just go ahead and ask him to be my running mate, right?  (After I get him to autograph my swim goggles first, of course.) 

The Future President of Awesomeness

First, I'll note that you're still dwelling on Phelps envy.  So as Yoda would say, "control your emotions you should."  I'm not entirely sure how you're so in the loop on something NBC and I have been trying to keep under wraps for a while now.  Yes, HTF will replace T-Russ permanently in the near future.  Tommy Boy has been ok, and Chris Matthews was definitely in the running.  The only downside is that I have more of a face for radio, so NBC is putting together lots of video montages to compensate.  In fact - I've been telling TommyBro what to ask the last several weeks.  For some reason he keeps changing my questions on TV though.


Tom Brokaw: "Senator Obama, what is the most important thing the President can do to turn around an economy where thousands are losing their jobs and homes every week?

HTF (what I told him to ask):  "Senator Obama, If you were a present how would you be wrapped?"

That was an actual job interview question I got once, so I thought if it was good enough for a financial analyst job, it would be good enough for a wanna-be President.  I see by polling that you're definitely the front runner in the President of Awesomeness race.  But beware the "Palinian Surprise" (no, this is not a dessert . . . that I know of) from your competitors.  But don't "beware" too much, because by definition that type of surprise backfires in the end.  Anyway, I look forward to seeing you and wanna-be-VP Phelps with all his medals on MTP with HTF in the future.  Thanks for the question.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Attn Patron(s): Please Shower Before Entering the Gym

There are people out there who exercise at private clubs, some of them do it to maintain peak fitness, some do it just to oogle (is that a word?) at a few of the others exerciserists (definitely not a word), and most do it way less often and with way less vigor than they should (HTF).  See I know this because I do, in fact, go to the gym on occasion.  Yesterday I was making sure the elliptical unit I was on was doing actual ellipsis when a guy got on the machine next to me.  You know that in these rooms they always have the equipment close together.  I gave him the obligatory head nod acknowledging that he had entered the area and that I welcomed him in as non-committal a way as possible. 

It should be noted, that almost by definition, rooms full of people sweating from exertion probably shouldn't be expected to smell like when you walk through the perfume area of the department store in the mall.  But I'm telling you, after 2 minutes with this guy next to me I was grimacing and gasping for air that I didn't want to breath in because his scent had made the area uninhabitable by oxygen consuming organisms. 

Dude stunk.

So after 6 entire minutes on the machine I made my way to a vacant treadmill, one on the other side of the room.  I'm good with people stinking after they exercise, but they shouldn't stink before the heart rate cranks up.

Trust me, I made strong mental and olfactory notes (involuntarily) of what the fella looked/smelled like, and he won't be greeted as kindly the next time he mounts the machine next to me.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Jockeying for that Dream Job with the Insanely Long Title

In case you can't tell by reading the blog, pretty much all I've been catching on the TV/internet is politics, The West Wing, and the occasional football game.  I'm told there are actual shows with plots and acting and everything out there.  I'm just pretty sure there's nothing as entertaining as "real" people jockeying for power.  The buzz today is that pretty much everyone who's ever called themselves a democrat or seen a donkey is trying to be appointed a cabinet secretary, get a spot working in the White House or at least hired as "the senior counsel to the junior deputy advisor to the special aide for the assistant secretary of agricultural regulatory affairs in the department of transportation in charge of scented candle trade negotiations with SouthEast Asia."  (that guy has a larger-than-usual business card)  These are just some of the great jobs that are suddenly being vacated by vilified Republicans, who will soon all relocate to a fort, a well armed one, in an undisclosed red state.  Only the two remaining GOP senators and the pizza delivery guy know where it is.

The yapping melons (good name for a rock band) on TV are wildly speculating about who gets which job.  (somehow I started typing "talking heads" and "yapping melons" came out . . . I may need to go to sleep soon)  I was trying to think about what would happen to big corporations if suddenly everyone in charge of anything was gone and a new leader showed up and had to staff the whole thing.  (I'd be shorting that stock)  Kinda nuts, if you think about it that way.  So our new president-elect is gonna be a busy guy and will need a lot of org charts.  Actually, you may be surprised by this, but he's asked me to vet candidates for positions in the executive branch.  So please send me a note (post a comment) telling me which government position you'd like to have and why.  And even if it's not a real position, that's not a problem.  We (your friendly federal government) just came up with $700 billion by signing a piece of paper, so we can manage to find the room in our little budget to help you land your government dream-gig.  It doesn't even need to require actual work.  For example, your job could be to ride on Air Force One with the President when he vacations in Hawaii.

As for me, I plan to open up a business card printing business in DC.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Night Live Blog

5:15 PM PST:  And so it begins, or should I say, ends.  Most of the votes have been cast, and polls are closing all up and down the Eastern part of the country.  Welcome to the live HTF analysis/commentary of Election night.  You'll read snide remarks valuable insights that will hopefully make the event just that much better.  This is the Super Bowl of politics capping a presidential race that began way before I was born.  We'll see if this can go interactive tonight.  Here's what I ask - add your comments early and often.  Send in e-mails to henrythefrog@gmail.com.  Don't just read along, play along.  (hit "Refresh" to see the new posts) A couple of you have told me that this blog is the source of most of your political news which is frightening interesting.  I am at my desk on the West Coast and will drive home now.  As it stands Barry has a 103 to 34 lead, and the networks that I can access on the internet are showing a good deal of coverage of people gathering for the huge "We Love Our New President Obama" party in Illinois.  Probably a sign of how the night's gonna go.  I'll be back with an update when I get "home" (by which I mean my lonely apartment).  It's entirely possible the election will be over by then, meaning that the millions of folks in the West could've probably just avoided standing in those lines we saw on the news.  (on that note, here's Brian Williams blowing you a kiss)


5:53 PM PST:  I just landed on the couch.  Catching an interview with BO Campaign Chair David Axelrod.  I LOVE that last name.  I'm told his best friends are named John Crankshaft and Eddie Gearshift.  Welcome to AGM - she correctly pointed out the creepiness of Ann Curry's hologram thing where she looks like she's in a greek cartoon showing us incomprehensible charts and graphs about "exit polls."  (these are actually metal poles placed at the exit of the church or library you vote at and built to not allow you to leave until you are thoroughly questioned.)

6:02 PM PST:  I've done a quick scan of all of the "news" (cable and otherwise) channels and have learned what the real point of tonight is: to find out which station has the most flashy, impossible to use without extensive training, big, "touchable", computer thingy.  I just saw Soledad O'Brien yell at a 97 year old guy trying to get the touch screen to work.  As he repeatedly poked it with his finger she not-so-patiently pointed out, "you need to touch it higher!"

6:14 PM PST:  James "Golum" Carville is so excited about the fact that dems are winning EVERTHING that he just sprouted hair live on CNN!

6:23 PM PST:  I'm loving how the talking heads keep getting interrupted by a funny bell sound telling them there's a "Voter Alert."  It's like they suddenly forget how to speak when that happens, and that's saying something.  Current score: Barry 174  JohnyMac 69

And in a sign of how anticlimactic the night seems to be going I just got a text from BGray saying he's trying to decide whether to watch the election or run 4 miles.

6:28 PM PST:  Hello to Marie who fairly questions whether "Axelrod" was a real name.  Trust me, I had to verify that one too when I first heard it.  Wolffgang Blitzer just pointed at a huge screen covered with numbers and said, "THESE ARE REAL VOTES."  Wow, I'm glad to know we're not posting FAKE votes, but we haven't gotten to Florida yet.

And AGM, I'm with you on the Magic Skates and JK.  But he is that MASTER of the touch screen.  Right now he's just mumbling and drawing happy-faces all over a map of Ohio with his index finger.

6:45 PM PST:  Hi Amanda, welcome to the blog!  JK is still playing with his touch screen.  He just did a scenario where McCain wins almost everything that's left and it's not enough.  Then he said to all west coast voters (a good name for a rock band), "God Bless you, but please still vote.  Nice to feel pointless.  But as the Mrs. HTF just told me on the phone referring to West Coast voters: "Your vote may not count, but at least you're awake enough to see everyone else's results"

6:48 PM PST:  JJ is in the house!  (see comments)  I can't type that without thinking "DY-NO-MITE."  She's wisely opted to not watch election coverage and instead watch "Get Smart."  This happens to be exactly what JohnyMac and the Mrs. JohnyMac are doing right now. 

6:55 PM PST:  Most stations are calling Ohio for Barry.  It's quite over, but we all knew that several hours ago.  We see now that the networks are trying to drag this thing out as long as possible but not calling the whole thing.  Right now the CNN panel of talking heads is having a heated debate on dental hygiene.  Ew, David Gergen (heretofore known as G-Dogg) just started speaking - see women everywhere swoon.

CM just told me that the local station in KC has switched over to coverage of the Fort Osage Fire Dept Tax proposal.  Nuf said...

7:03 PM PST:  Here is an actual exchange from CNN talking about Obama's electoral votes:

Anderson "I'm too cool" Cooper to Wolff: "When he gets to 270, what do we do?"

Wolff's response: "We report that!"

It's hilarious to listen to these people try to drag out the non-drama.

7:22 PM PST:  Well my friends (said in a John Mccain-like voice) that's it.  I had hoped it might go on for a bit longer.  I just snuck into the Obama fortress in Chicago and snapped this photo for you:

He looks kinda bummed out.  If you look closely you can see the plans for drapes and carpet in the White House.  Watching the talking heads you can tell that the only thing keeping most of them (the non-Fox News folks) from screaming out in glee is the fact that, as JJ just pointed out, they have to "fill hours of time with meaningless and humorless comments."

Thanks to those of you who logged in and played along.  I acknowledge that most of you are probably quite asleep and/or watching something interesting by now.  If you have any post-election thoughts/questions, send 'em in and I'd be happy to post a response that you're guaranteed to either like ... or not.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Scary doggies, tough cowboys, a giant mouse, and an invitation

The weekends are the hard times without the Mrs. HTF and the tadpoles (a good name for a rock band) around.  Thankfully this weekend my sister and her family drove up from Portlandia to hang out in my too-big apartment with me.  Henry, my 2.5 year-old nephew dressed up as Pecos Bill.  (I'm pretty sure Pecos wasn't a real guy, but judging from Henry's costume, if he was real, he was too cute to scare any of the bad guys):


We met up with my brother and his girlfriend and they brought their wiener-dog, Petty, dressed as a devil - this is about as scary as wiener dogs can get:


And as you can tell by the sudden rush of photos on a blog that typically is pictureless, I got a new camera.  And instead of eating Halloween candy, I played with my new toy under the watchful eyes and wagging tail of Petty:


In other breaking-news - this weekend I figured out how to videoconference with the family back in KC.  This was great because the kids could give me the same one-word answers to questions "face-to-face" instead of over the phone.  I am loving the new camera so much that I'm taking pictures of pictures.  Here's one of the video conference with the Mrs. HTF.  I'm probably gonna get in trouble for posting this one without written authorization, so don't ever call me a wimp!


Then there's this photo, which I would invite you all to create a caption to by commenting on this post (yes, that's an enormous roller-ball mouse):


Also, tonight I learned that an entire family in Tokyo, Japan listens to the HTF Playlist frequently and performs serious dance moves.  So yeah, to answer the question we all get at work multiple times on Monday mornings - I had a great weekend.

PS - I want to invite you all (both of you) to a play by play blog during the election results on Tuesday night.  I will begin blogging/commenting around 5:30 PST/8:30 EST as I watch the election coverage.  You should PLEASE comment on the blog and send in questions as the night goes on - let's make it interactive!  (You'll just hit refresh to see the new posts)  Invite your friends/family/pets/appliances and gather around the laptop and the TV news team of your choice - it's gonna be a fun night for all of us and either Barry or JohnyMac will be flashing his teeth and wading through balloons by the time the night is over.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Strikes Con Queso

You may have done something cool tonight.  Perhaps you watched something good on TV, maybe you went to the gym, possibly you even walked on the moon.  Well, I got you beat, because, with my new work group, I ate unhealthy appetizers and went bowling.  Why do those things go together, always?  Oh yeah, and I guess it should be pointed out that most everyone else in the "alley" was complementing their no-tread shoes on a slippery floor by downing stabilizing glasses of beer.

Let it be known that I am a master of bowling in much the same way that I'm a much sought after expert in hair care products, although I may have forgotten a few things since male-pattern baldness kicked in at the age of 19.  I have heard the snickers (and tonight I sensed them from a crowd too polite to give sound to their thoughts) as others marvel at my bowling "form."  (emphasis on the "air quotes")  Yeah, I'm pretty bad.

So here I sit with a bit of a blister on my toe and I'm actually slightly sore.  Pitiful, I know.  Still, a good time was had by all, including the HTF.  An odd thing with bowling is - we pay money, probably too much, to roll a ball.  To roll a ball?!  To roll a ball while we wear funny shoes . . . that we also pay for.  It's understandable that we get distracted by cheesy-fries and mozzarella sticks.  Some make little funny jokes about bowling.  But we've all done it and we'll do it again.  These are the relics of "culture" - and culture is always better with a little cheese on top.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Glossy Ads and Pessimism

I opened my mailbox today at my temporary apartment and was overwhelmed by a deluge of glossy ads proclaiming that certain politicians would certainly make everyone instantly wealthy and their competitors were against children, puppies, and world peace.  Like most of you I'm kinda fried on politics right now.  But I'm a guy living alone who also happens to be a political junkie - so absent stories about my kids, I'm left to blog about the reality TV that is the 12 year-long presidential election that's about to end.  The "media" are helping us all make informed decisions by being perfectly impartial third-parties dedicated to providing absolutely untainted facts equally supporting both sides.  This was demonstrated while I was in the gym a couple days ago (true story) - I was kickin' it on the treadmill and I looked up at the big TVs in the room.  Here were the two "breaking news stories":

CNN - "Obama is surging in the polls and pulling ahead"

Fox - "McCain is surging in the polls and closing the gap"

I deeply appreciated the clarity from the talking heads. 

Since I voted yesterday via absentee ballot, I care somehow even less about what's being said on the tube.  (not that that'll stop me from watching)  Politics kicks up so much emotion and hipocracy - I'm guilty of both I'm sure.  It'll be quite interesting to see what 90% of voters have to do when there's no W in the White House to vilify.  It'll be a big shift for many people to not have someone to just be AGAINST - they'll have to be FOR something. 

For instance, I know many people who helped beat the drums FOR the war (or at least didn't oppose it in any way noticeable to themselves) and woke up one day totally AGAINST it and the once very-popular president.  It's hard to root for a losing team, especially in politics and college football.  So one way or another about half of us will be happy on Tues night and half will have a new somebody to be against.  I think we need more people who are optimistic about government, cuz based on like 98.5% of my conversations with folks about politics in the last three years, it's tough to get more pessimistic.  And I have yet to see pessimism really ever help people accomplish much.

Also, maybe someday I'll get something good in the mail.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Are you listening, ABC?

Since the last two posts had something to do with odd things about me people dancing, I figured that a third would make for a good rhythm, but let's not start calling it a theme, ok?  For this post we turn to the bursting-at-the-seams mailbag (henrythefrog@gmail.com):

Dear HTF:
Like you, I am a fan of DWTS (Dancing With The Stars). I’m already looking ahead to the next season, and was coming up with my own contestants (“stars”).
Sarah Palin – if she’s not too busy making policy with the Senate
Henry Paulson – he needs to milk his 15 minutes
John McCain? Um…no
Michael Phelps – and he has to wear all those medals for every dance
Joe The Plumber
Shannity – I’m sure he’s also a Great American Dancer
What do you think?

I like where you're going with this, CM.  As for me, I'm voting in favor of politicians having to compete on DWTS to be even allowed to run for anything.  And at at least 50% of every political ad has to include highlights from their "routines."  And the non-political types that you mentioned would be marvelous to watch get crazy on the hardwood.  Here are a few others I'd recommend:

  • David Gergen, cuz I'm told he's "smokin'"
  • Dick Cheney - if anyone can find him
  • Katie Couric
  • Billy Clinton - Just keep him away from the ladies changing area
  • And my favorite - let's match Hillary up with Rush Limbaugh and watch the "sparks" fly

As a tribute to the match made in heaven of politics and dancing I give you this:

Send your questions/comments/feedback into henrythefrog@gmail.com.  You're guaranteed to get the auto-response that I set up along with a new car of some sort.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking the Mrs HTF and the four little tadpoles to a showing of the long-awaited, in our house at least, High School Musical 47. (I’m calling t HSM from here on out, cuz it takes up less space) You should know that my kids are extreme fans of the series including such vital memorabilia as HSM pajamas, underwear, and fruit snacks (I’m guessing on that last one, but it’s a darn good guess).

One Pope-Family-Tradition that you should all be lucky enough to observe from a safe distance at some point is our Dance-Parties. This is where I plug in the iPod to some speakers in the kitchen and the kids let loose doing moves that are a mix of break-dancing, aerobics, hip-hop (my girls can “shake in” if you know what I mean), and intense interpretive dancing, which often results in injury. In all seriousness, if I had 10 minutes left to live, the family Dance Party is how that time would be spent. Well, over the years, HSM music has been featured prominently on our wooden dance floor. I’m pretty sure our DVR defaults to HSM when you turn it on, regardless of where it was last set. Allison could say “Gabriella” before she could say “milk.”

Well the movie didn’t disappoint at all. My expectations were low, but it was great. At one point my girls were literally dancing in the aisle next to our seats – this is the sign of an effective pre-teen movie. The characters are way too good to be true. (Although I got kinda concerned when on the way home Traci made us stop at the store so she could get her own life-size Zach Efron poster to hang in our room while I’m living in Seattle. Not sure how I feel about that . . . (j/k). At this high-school there are no drugs, drinking, cheating, sex, or violence – even the food in the lunch room looked pretty good. Imagine if we’d have all had a high school experience like these kids. They’re not overly selfish (Sharp-Hey excluded as the not-so-evil villain), and heck, the theme song is “We’re All In This Together.”

I see high school kids, and they may make fun of the HSM gang, but they should be jealous. Teenagers do SOO much to make those years way harder than they need to be. A little more singing and dancing would help. I say this as a former participant in high school musicals myself. Oh I wasn’t much of a performer, but if you were male and could walk a few steps without falling over and also lip synch effectively you could make the show. (I have some stories that I’ll share in future posts) But there was a real power to being part of something like that. I remember those feelings and the closing moments of the show brought some of ‘em back. I hope my kids can do shows at some point. They’re certainly working on the dancing part!

Anyway, I recommend the movie. And, if you’re too embarrassed to go see it, you can borrow several of my kids so you’ll look more like a compliant parent than a groupie. But it's a package deal - I get to go too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Stunning Admission Involving Sequins and White Pants

I like to think that we all have our little secrets that we'd rather the whole world not know. I have one too, and I'm about to tell it to you. Warning - there may be cringing and most certainly there will be calls for me to turn in my man-card. So here it is...
Several years ago the Mrs. HTF roped me into watching some bizarre show where semi-celebrities did ballroom dancing with real-life professional dancers, competing for a big glass ball. By now you know the show - yes, I am a part-time fan of Dancing with the Stars. I try to justify it by rooting for manly athlete types like Emmett Smith and Jason Taylor. There have been multiple Mormons on there, so I reconcile that it's just me supporting my "people." But I must now admit - those are just examples of my playing with my own mind. I'm a fan.
So there it is - perhaps not the darkest secret you've ever heard, but nonetheless, I'm feeling a little liberated, and quite embarrassed. I haven't watched this season, but I'm home now visiting the family, so hopefully my dear wife will get me up to speed. Of course I will feign disinterest . . . until the music starts.
In honor of my admission and tipping my fedora to my frequent political blogs, I leave you with this (sent to me by my good friend William . . . if only it were so):

On Two-Years Rest . . . again

I haven't been much for blogging the last few days, so I'm going with the ultimate cop-out - a re-post. (is that a word?) In the spirit of self-deprecation (the opposite of what we here from our humble presidential candidates) I give you this post from Dec 8, 2006:

So a few days ago I went and tried, stressing that word, to play full-court basketball for the first time in a long while. Going in there with almost two year's rest I assumed I'd totally dominate. Actually, I set the bar a little lower - being able to walk again within 3-4 days would be a stunning success, but I was content with survival. I stretched and jogged around a little bit before we started - this part went marvelously. I even made a few shots in the warm up. Then we began . . . Now let me say in all fairness, I can do 3-4 miles on the treadmill without much struggle, it's not like I'm totally hopeless or anything. But after roughly 2 minutes of play, all of my cells, except for 3 or 4 of 'em, were on fire. I was huffing and puffing so hard I was afraid I was gonna do structural damage to the building. At one point the guy I was guarding got an outlet pass and went flying down the court towards his goal. Now I knew exactly what I needed to do, I just needed to run him down and get in front of him. He had a little head start, but I knew I could catch him . . . At least my mind knew it. With literally no one around me I took two quick steps towards him . . . I was off to the races, or so I thought. Then, like some kind of drunk panda bear, the top half of my body kept moving in the direction I wanted it to, but the feet were quite content to be stationary. I fell flat on my face at midcourt, skidded to an ugly halt, and my guy scored. A thing of beauty. It's rough to spontaneously fall down on your face, all alone, for no apparent reason. All the guys were good enough to not say anything to me about it, but there was no need - any semblance of pride in my hoops prowess is gone. I'll keep going back though. The moral of the story: I should've probably stretched more or at least have worn protective gear with an oxygen mask.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tribute to Gertrude

A few posts ago I kicked off a little contest. This was mostly to see if people were actually reading the blog. A few of you took the bait, and I was impressed with the responses, particularly Aubri's "uhhhh..." So, I tip my fedora to Becca, Alida, and Julianna for at least playing along and especially Becca for coming up with "dweeb". But the prize of a tribute post goes to Krista. (I just noticed that all the responders have names that end in the letter "a"... don't know if that's interesting or not.)I'm going to write about her even though the kids helped out so much. It's much easier to write about my sister-in-law than a group of nieces and nephews. Hopefully they will enjoy reading about their mommy though. By the time the rest of you read this, you're likely going to be pleased that you didn't win:

You see Krista is someone everyone should know. She was born Gertrude Caseopia Lahti, so you can see why they called her Krista. Life couldn't have been easy, what with having to live in an igloo in Anchorage eating mooseburgers and speaking eskimo. (English is her second language as you'll learn when you talk with her) At age 5 she was a successful kindergardner with pig tails, and one thing led to another and today she's a terrific mother of 5. Krista isn't like some mothers you know, she knows everything about her kids, including their names and birthdays, but this isn't the only thing that makes her a great mother. She's been known to spend hours playing games with them, but letting the little people win is out of the question. She compassionately teaches the kids to be good losers. Here are a few other great "facts" which may or may not be true about Krista:

- She is perhaps the most competitive non-male I know. (and I know "competitive" having played years of church basketball)
- Krista has lived in exotic places such as Guam, Idaho and of course, her current island paradise of St. Louis.
- She's always up to date on current events, but she doesn't have cable so the source of all of her knowledges comes from the always-accurate internet.
- She's an excellent blog author, but I can't link to her blog because she keeps it super-secret (invite-only) . . . yeah, it's that good!
- At this moment she's hosting my wife and our 4 kids at her house, so if you're doing the math, there are like 14 kids there now. She handles it amazingly well. (It's Uncle Mike you should feel for . . . I've been in those shoes . . .)

So I pay homage to my sister-in-law for all that she manages and is. Because not only does she do all that stuff I told you about, she takes time everyday to humor me by reading HTF.

Thanks for all that, Gertrude.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Economists and Plumbers are suddenly rock stars!

I should be snoozin' right now, but I can't help but opine about a couple news items from what was a pretty eventful day:

(in no particular, you know, order)

1. Stocks crashed for like the 11th time in the past 9 trading days. Economists, who have never been more popular, are saying that this "recession" will be "deep." When pressed for details they used penetrating words like "bad" and "long." Seriously, is there a big different between an enconomist and a psychic?
Psychic: "I sense that somebody in the audience will have an experience, a bad one . . . in the future."
I guess the difference is that when economists open their mouths bad things actually happen (see first sentence).

2. Tonight was the final of the 439 presidential debates in an election that began in the the spring of 1992 and is quickly coming to a close. I was lucky enough to only catch the last 30 minutes. Something struck me while I was watching it - there is absolutely no chance that these guys can possibly be telling the entire truth here - and they HAVE to know it. Still they must have reason to think that we're not bright enough to figure out who is stretching the truth the most. In the immortal words of Charlie Young (The West Wing Season 2) - "Everyone gets treated like they're stupid in an election year." That's probably truer than we'd like to admit.
At one point Mccain accused Obama of inventing cancer and Barak let us all know that John had been Hitler's campaign manager way back when. I'm pretty sure people don't like hearing these intriguing allegations because when they were mentioned the "hypnotic tracking signal" that CNN shows had both gender lines go off the bottom of the screen.

But the oddest thing was that some guy named Joe the Plumber had a staring role in the debate. He was mentioned twice by Barry and NINE TIMES by JohnyMac. He kept coming up regardless of the topic Bob threw at them. Pretty sure he's gonna be in somebody's cabinet.

So here's to all of you economists and plumbers out there - we've apparently never needed you more!

Deputy Downer

Warning - my unstated goal with 90+% of posts is to leave you chuckling and sending the blog post to all of your friends, family, neighbors, and even those people you don't know who are your "friends" on Facebook. Granted, I typically fail at my goal, but a guy can dream. This is not one of those funny posts.

Is it just me, or is everyone, and I mean everyone, a little more down and/or on edge? Seriously, I get this sense that all the really-nasty economic stuff going on, coupled with an increasingly-annoying election is starting to drag us all down at least a bit. Seems like folks are thinking a lot more cup-half-empty about the future, and who can blame 'em? There's not much eminating from the news channels to life our spirits (but isn't that almost always the case). It really does feel like the end of life as we know it, for now at least. These guys running for president are doing nothing to make me feel better, in fact, I was gonna vote for JohnyMac, who I've never really been a fan of, and as of today I'm squarely on the fence. (I know that'll shock a lot of you since I've never voted for a donkey-party candidate - this may be the first time) The solutions to the financial problems coming from politicians involves throwing ungodly piles of money at things. We're over a TRILLION DOLLARS if you're keeping score at home. Imagine if we could've used that money to fundamentally reform education and/or make ourselves energy independent (or we could've built a road from Seattle to Hawaii so I'd have another place to visit on weekends).

I'm a bright-side guy usually. Big problems are typically somebody else's problems - if you know what I mean. And I have almost nothing to complain about. Yet here I sit in an apartment in Kirkland, WA - alone. My family, who I miss so badly that it hurts is 3,000 miles away and the only thing that's keeping us apart is that we need to sell our house - at the worse possible time in my lifetime to be selling a house. Our realtor let us know, in a kind way, that like nobody is crazy enough to buy houses right now unless they're gonna steal 'em from people. So yeah, I guess this financial crisis is suddenly feeling real, at least more real than the "on-paper" loses that I cringe at in the 401K and IRAs. We'll deal though and things will work out one way or another. We are incredibly blessed and have so much to be thankful for. Still I ask you, is my little view of how people are thinking/feeling just shaped by my family's own little trials or is it more pervasive than that? Let me know.

As for me, well, I need to laugh. It's just a lot harder to do that alone.

HTF (aka "Deputy Downer" .... sorry about that)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Utensils and Best-Selling Novels

Books are great. I've even been known to read one or two over the years. Even a few without pictures that required the use of an actual bookmark. I don't really keep track of what books are popular aside from I guess Harry Potter and the 976 versions of the Bible that seem to always be for sale at the Sam's Club. It is however, tough to escape the popularity of the "Twilight" series by J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer, . . . it's one of those two. Not that long ago I got my first introduction to the series which is INCREDIBLY popular among women of all ages.

I literally thought my wife was playing an amazingly creative joke on me. She described a tale about a 17-year-old-girl named Bella who moves to Forks, (yes, I said forks) Washington and falls for a boy named Eddie or something who just happens to be a . . . (wait for it) . . .CANADIAN . . .!! Actually he and his family are real-life, fictional, VAMPIRES. But not to worry because, as wikipedia points out, this is not that big of a deal because his family has shunned drinking human blood and sticks with meals of animal blood instead.

So my wife, along with 86.7% of other litterate females, is suddenly a HUGE fans of vampire books. There are four of them (the books, not the females), but you can ask the lady of your choice for the rest of the plot. And there's another one called The Host that's about aliens possesing people's bodies and taking over the world. (I'm not making that up) Suddenly my wife is into vampires and sci-fi novels?!!!

All that I know is that once the Mrs. HTF picks up one of these books she ceases to, you know, exist in this world. She tunes the rest of us out completely. Here's proof. Also, unless you're living under a rock and/or you're a guy, you'll know that there's also some movies based on the books coming out that will be like an estrogen convention I'm guessing. (not that there's anything wrong with that)

I was recently given an even better reason to be a Stephanie Meyer fan - two females, (my wife and alert-blog-reader, JJ) pointed out - at the end of Mrs. Meyer's last best-selling novel, the Mormon, BYU grad pointed out that she was inspired in her writing by my brother's rock band, Spoon. (if you're paying attention, that's the second utensil reference in this post, and I wasn't even trying!) So maybe, just maybe, I should put down my books about politics, current events, or business management and join the ladies in reading about blood-sucking, alien, body-snatchers who woo teenage girls in logging country.

Or maybe I'll just wait for the movie.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

That's A Lot of Zeros

After my post on the subject, a few of you have sent in questions about Congress's bailout, rescue, nonsensical, $700B "package." I have lots to say on the subject, but to answer the most common question, here is a chart that even the US Congress can understand:

Hope I don't come across as too jaded, but this chart looks pretty accurate to HTF . . .

Keep sending in your questions/comment/jokes/rants to henrythefrog@gmail.com.
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