Thursday, June 26, 2008

Things I Don’t Understand (yet another edition of the never-ending series)

I don’t understand a bevy of things, yet you think I have time for introductions? On to the list…

The phrase “circus-like atmosphere”

This phrase is normally used to describe a situation where there are a ton of people around, some raucous celebration, and a bunch of media members covering the proceedings. Does this sound like a circus to you? Kids aren't going to get excited to go see some cameras click.

Where are the clowns? Where’s the cotton candy? What about the trapeze artists wearing the flamboyant costumes? Honestly, if there aren’t lions jumping through hoops of fire, I don’t want to hear the phrase “circus-like atmosphere” brought into the mix.

The fact that people won’t draft Michael Beasley due to character issues

When it comes to the former K-State star, it seems that no NBA general manager doubts his talent. He’s one of the most-talented scorers in the draft. He was the top rebounder in the NCAA. He made 30-point games seem commonplace.

Yet, it now seems that the top two teams in tonight’s draft may both shy from Beasley due to “character issues.” If you hear about Beasley, odds are you’ll hear those two words. But, what exactly are his issues in character? Oddly enough, that point isn’t normally addressed.

He went to a few different high schools – (insert shocked gasp here) – and he got in a bit of trouble at one for signing things (hello ebay!). Sure, he has a joking personality and doesn’t take anything too seriously, but he’s also 19. Think about yourself as a 19-year-old? Did you ever answer a question with a smart-aleck remark?

Nevertheless, there’s talk that the Miami Heat may draft Ovinton J’Anthony (O.J.) Mayo instead of Beasley with the number two pick. I am a bit biased, and I don’t know much about the former USC guard, but his Wikipedia page - - (which can be edited by anyone and therefore may contain falsities (this message brought to you by the “Cover My Butt Foundation”)) contains some interesting information.

Character issues, you say?

The level of celebrity status one must reach in order to comment about things on I Love the New Millennium

The prostitute from Borat is commenting on 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.” You’re sure about this?

And what the heck is going on with airing I Love the New Millennium, when we’re not even through the first decade of it? Are we that low on ideas? (The fact that Tila Tequila has a show tells me yes.)

Keep an eye out for my next blog entry, “I Love My Last Blog Entry,” where I will recap the entry you are currently reading, and add in comical quips along the way. It's going to be hilarious!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Parenting 101

As I've mentioned in this space recently, it seems that nearly everyone I know is adding a baby to their family. This procreation is happening at such an inordinate level that someone said to me the other day, "there must be something in the water." This quote could be taken in a multitude of ways (many of which are unfit for print in this family-friendly blog), and I am therefore going to leave it alone.

With so many couples achieving parent status, it seems to be a good time to share the limited knowledge I have on the subject of child rearing. I understand that a single guy in his 20s may not seem like the best source of parenting advice, but I have reviewed this handy guide - - and done some puppy-sitting in my day. These facts alone may make me more qualified than at least a few parents out there.

On to the tips...

When reading to baby...

Do - Select a colorful book of stories or rhymes with a lot of illustrations and easy verbiage that will help the baby learn.

Do not - Select a text by someone like Stephen Hawking that details wormholes, antimatter, and quantum physics. No matter who you are or what you're interested in, baby's first word should not be "photon."

Further advice - Magazines do not count as story books. Sorry devoted readers of Guns & Ammo or TV Guide.

When putting baby to bed...

Do - Sing a lullaby or play soft, soothing music (if you're like the author and not fit to sing) to comfort the child.

Do not - Put baby to bed to thumping bass of tracks laid down by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, or any other rap artist. You may find such tactics make the baby cry, and not even in rhythm.

Further advice - Playing any song on Guitar Hero III does not count as singing to the child. Granted, you may be able to do some sick shredding to Slayer's "Raining Blood," but you may find that your infant does not care if you've nabbed the title of "Rock Legend."

When it's time to change the baby...

Do - Keep a light mood about it. There's no use in getting frustrated, you'll be changing a few more in your future (maybe in about 28 minutes).

Do not - Confuse your child with your pet. If there is leakage from the diaper (a phrase I never expected to type in this blog) that gets on your furniture or carpet, sticking the baby's nose in it while saying, "No! No!" will not accomplish much.

Further advice - No, really, keep a light mood about changing the diapers. After all, it's probably about time to do it again.

When traveling with baby...

Do - Be sure your car seat is installed properly in the back seat and snugly buckle the baby in on every trip.

Do not - Neglect the purchase of a car seat because your child is small and your vehicle has jumbo cup holders.

Further advice - At some point in your child's life, he or she will learn to read a map. Do not expect this to happen as an infant. Your baby will not be able to navigate for you on road trips.

When you have baby in public...

Do - Pick the baby up and carry him/her around outside/in the annex/in the lobby if he/she begins crying uncontrollably in church or at a movie.

Do not - Try to prove to the child that the crying bothers other people by crying yourself. Baby will not understand your point, and you may get some weird looks.

Further advice - You will find that your infant will be a popular subject of conversation, even among strangers. People would otherwise not say a word to you may ask you how old your baby is while in line at the market. Answer these inquiries politely, no matter how tired you are. Do not attempt to teach your child obscene gestures in order to repel potential conversationalists.

When walking the baby in your stroller...

Do - Take your time and enjoy the outdoors. It's called a "stroll"er for a reason.

Do not - Release the stroller atop any sort of incline in attempt to test the rig's top speed.

Further advice - Your stroller has wheels, however this does not mean it's road-ready. Avoid merging into any roadway that has motor traffic. Even if the sign on the interstate does not warn against stroller traffic, it is still ill-advised.

When spending time with the baby outdoors...

Do - Be sure the baby has proper sun protection. Wide-brimmed hats (perhaps a baby fedora?) and layers of sunscreen are good ideas.

Do not - Leave the child exposed to the sun and remove his/her shirt because you don't want it to get a farmer's tan.

Further advice - If the unfortunate occurs and there is some sort of stinging insect on your infant, calmly shoo it away. Never swat at the insect with a rolled up magazine while it is standing on your child. This may be viewed as "child abuse" and is widely frowned upon.

When the baby is sick/has a fever...

Do - Take it to the doctor.

Do not - Tell the baby to "toughen up," and follow that with a long-winded ranting detailing how you once went to work with a 102-degree fever and still got more done than your slacker co-workers that day, despite constant hallucinations involving Abe Lincoln, Slimer from Ghostbusters, and a game of Chinese Checkers.

Further advice - Your child's health is no laughing matter... The idea of two trained chimps playing ping pong while a third plays the Magnum P.I. theme song on kazoo, on the other hand, is a laughing matter.
... Ha. Crazy chimps.

When celebrating the baby's first birthday...

Do - Invite family and celebrate with a cake. The kid won't remember it, but you'll have the pictures and memories that you can use to embarrass him/her 15 years down the road.

Do not - Put the baby's face directly next to the solitary burning birthday candle atop the cake, expecting the infant to blow it out. Best case scenario, the kid sneezes it out and your cake has a little extra icing. Keeping the child with ever-developing mental capacity and motor skills away from open flames altogether is the safe route.

Further advice - As mentioned before, your child will not remember this party. Don't get too carried away. Hiring a clown is completely unnecessary, unless your goal is to make your child scream.

If you are a parent/future parent, I hope this advice proves beneficial.

If you know a parent/future parent, feel free to pass these points along.

If you are now dumber after having read this writing, you certainly aren't this first that's happened to.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Word to the Wise

When it comes to the world that we live in, there are plenty of subjects of which I am ignorant.

Who led the English Premier League in goals in 2006? No clue.

What is the best way to make a delectable creme brulee? I haven't the slightest idea.

What is any female thinking at any given time? That's obviously beyond my comprehension.

Who was Bread's lead singer? (Insert clueless expression here).

My lack of knowledge is readily apparent, but I recently figured out that I do know at least one thing - and I'm certain of it.

Please prepare to write this down... I'll give you time to grab something to write with. Seriously, get a pen, pencil, marker, or finger dipped in pudding. I'll pass the time by listing all the shows on MTV that I deem worthwhile:

We'll start with... well...


... 3 South?... No, they canceled that years ago...

... I Love the 80s?... Nope, that's VH1...

... Wow, this is proving difficult...

Hey, look at that! You've found a writing utensil! (If you are currently holding a Ritz cracker, I'm sorry, but you'll have to make it work.)

Anyway, I hope you're ready for a piece of advice to carry with you for the rest of your Earthly journey. Here it is:

The shelf life of a Twizzler Pull-n-Peel is significantly shorter than the seven months and 18 days that have passed since last Halloween.

How I came about this ground-breaking information is no one's business but my own.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Getting a Stew Going

There are no particular themes here. Just tossing ideas in the proverbial pot to create blog stew... A big thank you goes to Carl Weathers of Arrested Development fame (what do you mean he was in Rocky? And Rockys II-IV? And Predator? And Happy Gilmore?) for providing this title of this entry.

-Yesterday, a co-worker told me that I "look tired." Granted, with some overtime being put in and the fact that I have been waking up earlier than normal, I was tired. I guess it could be a good thing that my appearance is not dishonest.

Nevertheless, I also realize that when someone is told that they "look tired" it often is a nice way of being told"you look like you were run down by a stampede of ill-tempered wildebeests shortly after spending a sleepless night getting repeatedly flicked in the eyeballs by the Boogeyman's distant cousin, the the Think-you-can-dance-but-you're-only-fooling-yourselfman." Congratulations, self.

- I have just discovered an actor/actress triumvirate that I never dreamed possible. The title of the program eludes me, but it appears that Gilbert Gottfried, Bill Bellamy, and the girl who played Lisa Turtle on Saved By the Bell appear in the same cast. I am too lazy to look this up, but I'm nearly positive that it had to win some awards.

- The story of Nick "Hogan"'s car accident and subsequent arrest is a horrible one for all parties involved, but it is also getting entirely too much media coverage. Therefore, I'm not addressing that issue, but another item that is far more trivial. It makes absolutely no sense that the media refers to the son of Hulk Hogan as Nick "Hogan." After all, "Hogan" was a stage/ring name. The Hulkster's true last name is Bollea*. It is utterly asinine to refer to the rest of his family with the Hogan surname. If I ever have a son, he's not going to go by the last name "Flute," despite the fact that I played a candy flute in an elementary school production of The Nutcracker... I guess I'm old-fashioned.

*I realize that the fact that I know Hulk Hogan's real last name is probably a huge strike against me in the game of life (real life, not the board game with plastic cars)... but, I'm getting used to seeing those total up like Randy Johnson pitching against the Bad News Bears.

- I enjoy fantasy football as much as most participants, but aren't we getting a little carried away when we start devoting television coverage to it in June? The pointlessness of the preseason doesn't even begin until August, only three first-round draft picks have even signed contracts at this point, and the Bengals have hardly had time to have any players be arrested. We've got to give these folks some time.

- I received an abundance of questions** after updating my status on a popular social-networking web site (hint: it rhymes with racenook) with a quote on the subject of powdered gravy consumption from one of my favorite television programs. It was at this point that I was reminded that several things I reference may be deemed nonsense to the average person. Look for The Complete Guide to Understanding Derek Larson in bookstores near you.

**Should it concern me that some people who know me actually thought I would eat a packet of powdered gravy I found in a parking lot?

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Name Game


We all have them, and very few of us played a part in choosing them. It's interesting.

Sometimes names can even seem to affect one's personality (ever heard someone say, "Y'know, she looks like an Agnes" or "He looks like a Floyd"?), yet, aside from those that go by stage names or those who had really lazy parents ("Hell, I don't know what to name him. Wait 'til he can talk and let him decide."... Surely that's how someone gets the name "Cookie," right?), none of us had any input in choosing the monikers that would follow us like loyal pets (or irritating spam e-mails... I'm not looking for a great deal on Viagra. I'm sorry.) for the rest of our lives.

Normally, I might not spend much time pondering what goes in to choosing a name, but it turns out that 2008 is the Year of the Newborn (also the Year of the Rat, according to the Chinese calendar... I like my phrasing better). In DL history (please note: records only go back to 1982), there has never been as many family members, friends, acquaintances, enemies (... okay, not enemies... yet) receiving visits from the baby delivery stork* as there have been/will be in 2008.

*I am too lazy to look this up, but I am trying to figure out why the stork was designated as the UPS of ornithological baby delivery. Why not an osprey? Or a pelican? Maybe a flock of finches could team up to deliver the "bundle of joy."

With so many people entering the "DL Circle of People He Recognizes" it also means that several new names must be added to the "DL List of Names He Better Not Forget." With this in mind (and at the suggestion of one reader), I figured I better offer any advice I might have to those who will have the task of choosing the perfect name ahead of them.

One obvious consideration is the harmonic agreement among the first, middle, and last names. You want to pick something that sounds natural. If your last name is Smith, you might lean away from naming your child Adolph (actually, if you're having a child, you might considering crossing the name Adolph off your list, regardless of your last name... Just an idea.)

In the case of my family, the last name of my future niece or nephew (we'll get to that in a minute) will be Myers. In such a case, the name Oscar immediately springs to mind as a fantastic option for a young boy (or even a girl... to a much, much lesser extent). The middle name could even be Frankfurt.

When the gender of the child is unknown during the tossing about of the potential names, it can make things a little more difficult. Even something as simple as referring to the future toddler as "he" or "she" is out the window. Nevertheless, this does not mean you should give in and have your potential surprise ruined for the sake of pronouns. You just need to be careful how you refer to the kid (you don't want to risk getting the baby ticked off when it has a chance to kick vital organs of a family member). In the case of my future niece or nephew, I took the obvious route. I call the kid "Niecephew." It's easy. It covers all available options (female, male,... other?). And, honestly, I think it is a name with potential. It is my hope that Niecephew, makes the final list of names considered.

Now, if one chooses to take the more "conventional" route and go against choosing a ground-breaking name offered by a future-uncle, another option that might be considered is basing the name off the child's heritage. The Larson family hails from Sweden, which brings forth an abundance of options. However, one thing that must be considered when pursuing this route is whether or not the name may play a role in determining the child's future.

Is a child named Bjorn more likely to become a tennis pro? Or if you name your kid Sven, will he be more likely to wear thick sweaters all the time? What if named your little girl Heidi? Would she pick flowers in the mountains, always refer to her grandpa as "Grandfather" and have a tendency to interrupt the watching of football games at crucial moments**?

**I obviously know extremely little about the actual plot of the novel, motion picture, and TV movie, "Heidi." Forgive my ignorance... Although you should probably be used to it by now.

If you've considered the aforementioned options, but you're still coming up empty, you can always consider looking to the world of movies, television, music, or sports for inspiration. For instance, if, down the road, I were to look to my favorite TV character for the name of a son, I'd be blessed with a kid named Homer Larson... Maybe that wasn't the best illustration.

If Paul Simon is your favorite musical artist, you might wind up calling your kid "Al." If it's Johnny Cash, you may have a boy named "Sue." If your favorite actor is Harrison Ford, you could name your son "Indiana" or "Han." Maybe you love the show "The Real World" so much that you want nothing more than to parade around on it someday. Then you might just name your little girl "Oops."

It may be that you have reviewed all these wonderful tips (that should probably be compiled in book form and sold in stores(that's not a compliment of my work. There are books out there with nothing but names, for goodness sake... JUST NAMES)), but you're still unsure what the child currently called Womb Dweller will be named once it sees the light of day. That's understandable. The most important thing to remember is that, no matter how much advice you receive or how many baby name books you read, the most important thing is that the name is something both the parents and the child will be able to take pride in. No one can make make the decision but you, future parents.

... although...

"Derek" is a pretty good name. I mean, it's versatile, distinguished, and can really fit with any last name you might have.

Seriously, it's an excellent name.

Think about it.

Friday, June 06, 2008

ABCDEFG... (continue at your own pace)

Quick, stop what you're doing.

Okay, wait, don't take that too literally (I guess if you had, you wouldn't be reading this far... This is far too much thinking this early in the writing), but be prepared to follow these instructions. You need to open up a new web window of this blog page*, and then click the "Next Blog>>" link found at the top of the page.

*Why open a new window? Because you certainly don't want to tear yourself away from The Writings?

Anyway, after clicking the "Next Blog>>" button, where were you taken? A site created by a girl that is basically an online apology to a guy we can only assume is now an EX-boyfriend**?

**Believe it or not, that blog is not titled "I'm a Little Floozy." ... Maybe I should e-mail that suggestion in.

Perhaps you traversed through this web that spans the world to a blog housing a photo collection of people looking less-than-thrilled to be learning about building computers. It could be that you even found a blog written entirely in a language you do not comprehend, let alone recognize, but that contains pictures that you can craft your own hilarious captions to in your head*** (no? That's just me?).

*** Also known as "the jackpot."

It turns out that this link found at the top of the page is a bit like the Orchid Station from the world of Lost****. Clicking it is "dangerous and unpredictable. It's a measure of last resort." While the Orchid moves an entire island through space and/or time, this link moves your browser through cyberspace and wastes your time. Frankly, I'm surprised at where I end up every time I click that random link. I am probably enjoying this a little too much.

****I realize several of you may not watch Lost... Yeah, I certainly never go off on tangents that others don't understand.

It also turns out that most people out there who have blogs also have themes for their blogs. It may be a family photo blog, a gadget review blog, or something used to sell clothes, but it seems like most other blogs out there have a particular reason for being online in the first place.

... Then there's The Writings, which exist to... uh...

... Well...

... ("think, Derek, think.... Entertain?... No, they certainly won't buy that... Serve the greater good?... Nope, that doesn't really make sense... Provide the best cornbread recipes west of the Mississippi?.... Ugh... Wait, I've got it!)...

The Writings, a blog that exists to combat illiteracy. Remember, if you can read this, you aren't illiterate.

I'm just trying to do my part.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

... But Still More Successful Than the Author's Last Date...

Tony Pena, Jr., - Royals shortstop and free-swinger extraordinaire - enters tonight's game against the Chicago White Sox with a .158 batting average.

For those of you who may not be familiar with baseball or the stats that come along with it, a .158 batting average is horrid. Actually, horrid may not be a strong enough term. With a .158 batting average, Pena has a slightly better chance of getting a hit each time at the plate than I do of stepping into a gnome-crafted inflatable pool filled with gummi worms and Alf pogs when I wake up tomorrow morning.

I have done some ground-breaking research, and what follows is a list of people and things that may have a better chance of getting a hit in a Major League batter's box than Pena, Jr...

- George Brett... swinging a licorice rope instead of a bat.

- A blind Yorkshire terrier.

- A football tackling dummy.

- Sr., Ynot Anep (the bizarro Tony Pena, Jr.)

- Colonel Sanders swinging a drumstick.

- An inanimate carbon rod.

- Lupus from "Bad News Bears."

- Omaha Royals SS Angel Berroa (I can't believe I just typed that).

*Please note: This Writing is for entertainment purposes only, and is not meant to be taken seriously.

... After all, we all know that Derek would never take the time to do actual research.

Monday, June 02, 2008

What the Hail?

I have always enjoyed Spring and Summer rainstorms. There's something about the combination of the rain falling and the occasional flash of lightning and crack of thunder that creates an almost tranquil atmosphere for me.

It turns out I'm not such a big fan of the storms that bring hail along with them.

... Neither is my car.

With a substantial storm rolling through the Little Apple today, my car has seemingly suffered the consequences.

Picture a spider with a torso no larger than a ladybug, but nine legs (it's a mutated spider), six of which are around two-feet long. Now picture this arachnid squished flat on a large pane of glass, the likes of which one might find at the anterior of a motor vehicle. This is the ailment (spider fracture... call it an "arachture") currently plaguing my poor mode of gas-powered conveyance.

To conclude this exercise, picture a gangly 25-year-old staring at the arachture, looking like the Royals reacquired Neifi Perez. That's me, realizing how much it will cost to replace the windshield.

It's funny, I was not really sure where I was going to take this after the previous paragraph, but I just realized something... Ice has proven my foil yet again!

Over the past year-and-a-half, the frozen form of water has firmly established itself as the Wes Mantooth to my Ron Burgandy. It has yet to start a gang-war with me involving local TV news personalities, but it has done just about everything short of it. It has broken my wrist, shut of my power, caused a bevy of brain-freezes, watered down my soda, and now violently attacked my car.

I have tried to resolve our issues in a peaceful nature: refilling ice trays as necessary, avoiding ice skating at all costs, and not even thinking about tossing any ice cubes in a blender. Nevertheless, Ice seemingly does not favor the idea of a pleasant resolution to our differences. I'm beginning to fear the thought of chilling my drinks with covalently bonded hydrogen and oxygen atom cooled to zero-degrees Celsius. Who knows when a covert cube will wreak havoc on my insides?

The only option I have left is fighting back. I'm defrosting my freezer, buying a blowtorch and an ice pick, and heading to the Arctic. I may even swear off any television show, movie or song featuring Ice T, Ice Cube, Vanilla Ice, and similarly named artists. Sorry Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, but Ice has gone too far.