Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Importance Of Knowing Who (and how many) you’re inviting to your House to Eat Cake

Last week we had the realization that our Allison’s birthday was coming up and we hadn’t planned a party yet.  This wasn’t a huge deal, since she’s was turning 4 and, well, she’s pretty easy to fake out.  We also realized that we were going to HAVE to make a cake and, eventually, you know, eat it.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re not anti-cake by any stretch, but we (by which I mean the Mrs HTF of course) have made a few birthday cakes over the years and we always end up with massive leftovers that only slowly get eaten.  (except for the frosting – this part is usually gone by the evening after the birth of the cake, thanks to one of our kids literally LICKING THE TOP OF THE THING OFF.)  Well, we decided that it would be fun to have some folks over to munch the cake and to hang out.  Allison would think it was a birthday party AND we’d have a night of fun with friends.  The perfect plan . . .

We picked a few folks that we wanted to get to hang out with and get to know better and made the calls.  To our surprise, and I am usually surprised by this, they all said yes.  It was only then that we figured out something, really, really, important.  We’d picked 3 couples without paying attention to the number of kids involved.  Minor oversight . . . until I did some math (dangerous) and realized that we had just committed ourselves to hosting 16 SMALL CHILDREN.  Two of the families had 5 little people and the other brought 2, so with our 4 we suddenly had more kids bouncing around than my daughter has in her kindergarten class . . . and we don’t have a gym inside our house or an on-site nurse. 

I was more worried than I let on, but it actually went extremely well.  (although I think a few of the parents were a bit worried the whole time since their children were roving around our house and yard in a small herd of mischievousness)  Unfortunately the kids were way too busy playing to eat much of the cake, so our party didn’t really solve that problem.  But we did fake Allison out and she gleefully assumed the whole event was for her.  The adults were only able to get through one wild game of Outburst, but that’s ok.  I’ve learned that most folks only tolerate me in small doses anyway.

The kids ended the night without disturbing the structural integrity of the house OR spending any time in an ambulance, so we’ll call that a win.  However, next time we have a get together I will do more math . . . earlier.

Friday, September 25, 2009

HTF The Fantasy Football League – Week 2 Report

Our second week is in the books and Christy’s Crushers has leapt to the front of the pack (much thanks to the Drew Brees) followed by our other undefeated team, Blue Blood.  I eeked out my first win of the year, and apparently am being sponsored by Toyota, cuz this graphic appeared on our site:


That’s right, the rabid robot possumz look more like mechanical gerbils whose batteries have run out.  Ha Ha!!  (I don’t plan to win often so I have to enjoy it)  Here are the rest of the results and the standings:

image   image

Good luck in Week 3!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How I Nearly Melted 11 Coworkers

A few nights ago we had an awesome work “team-building” event.  We went to this cool restaurant on the water and a dozen of us divided into two teams.  Our mission was to, well, make dinner.  I was pretty skeptical that we’d do anything worth munching, but hey, it would be fun to try.  They had one of these massive kitchens, and here’s the kicker – it was stocked with EVERYTHING you could ever want to cook stuff (utensils, veggies, seasoning, meats, ovens . . . and fire extinguishers).  Let’s be clear, my cooking skillz are right in line with my hair gel skills.  Here are the top five things I’ve been known to “cook” (and the Mrs HTF will keep me honest on this):

  • Pancakes with chocolate chips (the mix is one of those that you just add water to – highly complex)
  • Assorted meat products dropped on the grill and heated until . . . black
  • Cereal – I have been known to do both Life AND Honey Bunches of Oats
  • Mac ‘n Cheese – but the kids have taken over the adding of cheese, milk, butter and stirring, so I pretty much just pour the Mac in the agua
  • Microwave Popcorn

So you can see why I had some trepidation about cooking for people I had to work with.  My main assigned task was the cooking of the steak.  I was assigned to create a “dry rub.”  There was a shelf with roughly 654,987 different bottles of spices.  So I grabbed a few and gave them a highly-scientific sniff.  Then I started dumping spoonfulls in to a bowl while pretending that I had some idea of what I was doing.  We were going with a Latin theme, so I found a little Cayenne Pepper and added that for a bit of a kick.  At the end, I again sniffed my creation and didn’t feel immediately nauseous, so I had a coworker sniff it too, and she said it was alright.  As a final check we took it to the supervising chef who was a pro helping both teams.  She asked if we’d tasted it.  “Um, no, but we smelled it.”  She looked a little confused at my answer.  Then she took a pinch of it and put it in her mouth.  She then smiled and said, “how much Cayenne Pepper did you add.”  I gave the same answer my kids would’ve given: “I don’t know.”  She then told me to taste it.  I did.  Very quickly portions of my tongue turned into Little Flaming Taste Buds (good name for a rock band).  The stuff was disastrously hot.  She suggested a do-over, and I dumped it in the trash can . . . defeated.  I called it my Dry Rub Dry Run.  I thought my screw-up would be kept quiet until I turned around to see my boss with A VIDEO CAMERA!  So I’ll probably get to relive that funness a few times.  My second attempt actually worked quite well, and I was pretty happy with how the meat eventually turned out.  By which I mean everyone who ate it survived.  My team actually won the competition in spite of my involvement.  So it was a fun night.

But I’m sure glad for the chef who taught me that the best way to know how something will taste is to, well, taste it.  The sniffer isn’t totally accurate sometimes…

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Two Head are better than, well, …..

The Mrs HTF has a twin sister.  My brother and sister are twins.  I’m AWFULLY lucky we didn’t have twins.  Although our oldest son does sometimes makes us feel like we’re dealing with unruly triplets, when it’s only him doing the skullduggery.  (yep, I just said a word that you should totally use all the time)

Traci’s twin sister is here visiting us.  We’ve spent some time together over the years since her clan lived only about 4.5 hours away from my herd.  The kids get along great, and act, well, the way cousins should . . . which sometimes results in boisterous laughter interrupted occasionally by serious injuries.  There are 4 kids in our group and 5 in theirs, so we can field a terrible, but almost totally potty-trained, baseball team.  We’re kind of a sight to see when we roll somewhere together.  It looks more like a daycare field trip than two families out and about.  The kids are pretty close in age.  And the two sisters look pretty similar according to most folks, so I often lie in wait to see people start talking to my sister-in-law as if she were the marvelous Mrs HTF.  Makes me totally wish I had a twin.  He would go to lots of meetings at work for me and also he’d spend entire Saturdays doing yard work at my house while I was watching football somewhere. 

When my wife and her sister are together though I get to see some really disconcerting twin dynamics (DTDs).  Think for a second about the bizarre conversations you have with yourself in your head about, say, what to wear to church or how to decorate a room.  Seriously, how do those conversations go?  Here’s my guess – they are scarily blunt, they skip entire phrases because some things are just “understood” by the “two” parties, they may seem like actual fights at times, but you never actually offend yourself.  You actually end up liking yourself at the end of these mental debates.  Well, with my wife and her twin sister they have the exact same types of discussions, but they do it out loud.  Don’t worry though, they limit the topics of their debates to, well, everything.

It’s interesting . . . from a safe distance.  I’ve learned never to interrupt or even worse, to get involved in the discussion.  Not only would I not be able to keep up, but I’d walk away feeling deeply offended and/or utterly confused.

So the next time you’re trying to decide what to wear on your night out, imagine those thoughts being “out loud” and well . . . laugh at me.  And if you see my twin, please send him back – there’s weeding to do.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

HTF The Fantasy Football League – Week One Report

After a highly successful, and slightly controversial draft selection process, the first week of the Inaugural HTF Fantasy Football League is in the books.  You may remember that a few weeks ago we formed a league of brave blog readers.  As expected I showed my astounding fantasy prowess by losing handily to someone who’s never played before.  Hat tip to Blue Blood!  I guess I should’ve picked up a QB who is younger than 65 (instead of Kurt Warner).  Oh well, it’s a long season, or at least that what I tell myself in consolation.  Congrats to the week one winners, especially The Beckinators, who had the highest score of the week.  Here are the results:


And here are the standings:


This week I take on the rabid robot possumz, so I just had my rabies shot.  Thanks to those of you playing along!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Who knew piano lessons would lead to . . . (not the NFL)

When I was 12 I was in the backyard playing football and pretty badly jammed one of my fingers.  It was black & blue and bent kinda funny.  But despite the pain, I was pretty happy for one reason . . .

It would be a while until I’d be able to practice piano again.

Not sure why I reviled practicing piano so much during the several years I took lessons, but I sure did.  A few years later I talked my parents into letting me drop piano entirely after I started playing junior high football.  It wasn’t a very rational argument, I’ll admit, but I’m sure my mom was tired of me pleading.  After all, to my 14-year-old-mind there was a way better chance that I’d be a pro football player than me ever being or even knowing a professional musician.  (insert hearty laughter here)  Well, my parent’s encouragement of music yielded some fairly impressive results (myself mostly excluded of course).  My two younger brothers are, in fact, professional musicians and they, well, rock.  Many of you know this already, but they play together in The Get Up Kids (Rob on bass and Ryan on drums) and Rob plays in Spoon.  I’m proud of these guys.  What they do is real work (albeit quite different from what you and I do most days) and has taken some serious leaps of faith over the years.

TGUK is back touring in the US after just returning from a European stint and I really encourage you to check out their show if they come anywhere near you.  (send me an email if you’re going or considering it)  Here’s the tour schedule:

Sep 15 2009 8:00P Marquis Theater Denver, Colorado
Sep 16 2009 8:00P Club Sound Salt Lake City, Utah
Sep 18 2009 8:00P Neumo’s Seattle, Washington
Sep 19 2009 8:00P Music Fest NW Portland, Oregon
Sep 21 2009 8:00P The Fillmore San Francisco, California
Sep 22 2009 8:00P Downtown Brew San Luis Obispo, California
Sep 23 2009 8:00P The Glasshouse Pomona, California
Sep 24 2009 8:00P Avalon Hollywood, California
Sep 25 2009 8:00P House Of Blues San Diego, California
Sep 26 2009 8:00P House Of Blues Las Vegas, Nevada
Sep 27 2009 8:00P Clubhouse Tempe, Arizona
Sep 29 2009 8:00P White Rabbit San Antonio, Texas
Sep 30 2009 8:00P Granada Dallas, Texas
Oct 1 2009 8:00P Diamond Ballroom Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oct 2 2009 8:00P Slowdown Omaha, Nebraska
Oct 3 2009 8:00P Picador Iowa City, Iowa
Oct 20 2009 8:00P Varsity Minneapolis, Minnesota
Oct 21 2009 8:00P The Metro Chicago, Illinois
Oct 22 2009 8:00P The Metro Chicago, Illinois
Oct 23 2009 8:00P House Of Blues Cleveland, Ohio
Oct 24 2009 8:00P Majestic Theater Detroit, Michigan
Oct 25 2009 8:00P Phoenix Theater Toronto, Ontario
Oct 27 2009 8:00P Town Ballroom Buffalo, New York
Oct 28 2009 8:00P The Palladium Worcester, Massachusetts
Oct 29 2009 8:00P Toad’s Place New Haven, Connecticut
Oct 30 2009 8:00P The Gramercy Theater New York, New York
Oct 31 2009 8:00P Irving Plaza New York, New York
Nov 1 2009 8:00P Music Hall Of Williamsburg - SOLD OUT!!!!! Brooklyn, New York
Nov 3 2009 8:00P 9:30 Club Washington DC, Washington DC
Nov 4 2009 8:00P Norva Norfolk, Virginia
Nov 5 2009 8:00P Trocadero Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nov 6 2009 8:00P TLA Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nov 7 2009 8:00P Mr. Smalls Theater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Nov 8 2009 8:00P Newport Music Hall Columbus, Ohio
Nov 10 2009 8:00P Cat’s Cradle Carrboro, North Carolina
Nov 11 2009 8:00P Masquerade Atlanta, Georgia
Nov 12 2009 8:00P Revolution Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Nov 13 2009 8:00P House Of Blues Orlando, Florida
Nov 14 2009 8:00P St. Petersburg State Theater, Florida
Nov 16 2009 8:00P Spanish Moon Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Nov 17 2009 8:00P House Of Blues Houston, Texas
Nov 18 2009 8:00P Emo’s Austin, Texas


Hope you’re able to make it to the show.  Also, they just released the 10th Anniversary Edition of Something To Write Home About which includes a DVD of a show they did a few months ago at Liberty Hall.  Here’s the trailer:


There’s no doubt that I’m the unashamed proud brother.  And while neither my pro football nor music career have worked out just yet, I happily get to play my little piano and accompany the singing children at church each Sunday.  I’ll never be the rock star like my brothers, but what I have is not a bad gig at all.  Thanks Mom & Dad for making me (and my siblings) practice piano now and then!

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