Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, and the Philadelphia Phillies: A Southerner’s Perspective

I had originally intended for this post to go on the Philadelphia sports blog which I write for. For reasons that will quickly become obvious, I was told that they couldn’t publish it. 

Please remember that this is intended to be humorous. If any bigoted Southerners take offense at what I’ve written, I sincerely apologize.

I paid a visit to my old friend Billy-Bob last week. Despite living in South Carolina all of his life, Billy-Bob is a devoted fan of the Phillies.

I wasn’t sure why a South Carolina native would become a Phillies fan, but he told me that his father had raised him that way. Apparently, Billy-Bob’s dad really liked the way team manager Ben Chapman handled himself back in the 1940’s.

When I got to Billy-Bob’s house, he was a little upset about some of the recent happenings in his state. To try to calm him down, I started talking about our favorite baseball team. Unsurprisingly, he had a few strong opinions on the Phillies, so I made sure to transcribe our conversation.

Cutter: So what do you think about the Phillies?

Billy-Bob: They’re a [gosh darned] disgrace, I’ll tell you that.

Cutter: It certainly hasn’t been a good season.

Chase Utley. (Image source)

Chase Utley. (Image source)

Billy-Bob: That ain’t even the worst of it. I think it’s a shame what they’re doing to Chase Utley.

Cutter: You don’t think they should let Cesar Hernandez play instead of him? He’s having a good season, and Utley’s been pretty bad.

Billy-Bob: It just shows you what’s wrong with America. You’ve got this hard-working guy who does the job as well as anyone. And then along comes this Mexican fella who they don’t have to pay as much. And what happens? They tell the hard-working guy to take a seat on the bench.

Cutter: Cesar Hernandez is from Venezuela.

Billy-Bob: Well, they all come here through Mexico, don’t they? And it don’t matter. He ain’t from here if you know what I mean.

Cutter: Unfortunately, I think I do.

Billy-Bob: It’s happening everywhere. I was happy when they got rid of Jimmy Rollins, because we all know how lazy he was. But what do they do? They bring in another [Latino] to replace him!

Cutter: I don’t-

Billy-Bob: What about third base? You had that Cody Asche playing there. A nice kid from Nebraska whose been raised on nothing but corn and family values. And they find another [Latino]. And this one doesn’t even spell his name right. Maikel? That ain’t how you spell the name Michael in my book.

Cutter: Speaking of that, how’s your daughter Krystyn doing?

Billy-Bob: She’s doin’ just fine. Such a pretty little thing.

Cutter: Aw, that’s good…But back to the Phillies. Surely there must be something you like about the team.

Billy-Bob: I like that they’re letting that new kid play catcher.

Cutter: Cameron Rupp?

Billy-Bob: Yep, him. About time they found someone to replace that druggie they had playing there.

Cutter: Druggie? You mean Carlos Ruiz? He was using Adderall. It’s for ADD. And now he has a prescription.

Carlos Ruiz (Image source)

Carlos Ruiz (Image source)

Billy-Bob: Sure he does. Probably got it from some fake Mexican doctor. And Ader-whatever is only what they caught him for! He’s probably on all sorts of other drugs too! I told you: This is what happens when they start giving those people money.

Cutter: Hey now, that’s –

Billy-Bob: Come here, I want to show you something. (We walk inside and he shows me an aged poster of the 1993 Phillies on his wall.) Take a good look at that. Now that’s what a baseball team should look like. Just a bunch of good old boys playin’ the game the right way. You don’t see any drug users on there, do you?

Cutter: Um…..

Billy-Bob: We both know the real reason this team ain’t any good. It’s that Ruben Amaro.

Cutter: Most fans seem to agree with you there.

Billy-Bob: They put him in charge, they start giving all those [Latinos] money, and the team goes to [crap.] I gotta wonder why they ever let some foreigner run the Phillies.

Cutter: Foreigner? He was born in Philadelphia. He’s actually half-Jewish.

Billy-Bob: JEWISH??? Lord Almighty! It’s no wonder then that this team won’t spend any [darn] money!

Cutter: Um….Yeah….So if you were running things, what would you do?

Billy-Bob: First thing, I’d trade that lazy, good-for-nothing Ryan Howard. And then I’d get rid of Dom Brown. Once they’re gone, you got the start of a good team.

Cutter: You don’t want to get rid of Ben Revere too?

Billy-Bob: Naw, he’s one of the good ones. He can stay.

Cutter: Would you trade Cole Hamels?

Billy-Bob: Why in tarnation would I want to do that? I’d maybe ask him to cut his hair a bit, but he’s a good player. Why would I want to trade one of my good players?

Jonathan Papelbon (Image source)

Jonathan Papelbon (Image source)

Cutter: How about Jonathan Papelbon?

Billy-Bob: No way! Paps is my boy! I love the way he stares down those hitters. We need more guys with that kind of attitude!

Cutter: So do you see any hope for the team?

Billy-Bob: I keep hearing about this J.P. Crawford they got down in the minors. I never seen him before, but if he’s as good as they say, I think I’m gonna like him.

Cutter: I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Billy-Bob: Why’s that?

Cutter: Oh, just a feeling I have. Anyway, thanks for talking to me, Billy-Bob.

Billy-Bob: No problem. Go Phils!

Posted in Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Blogger’s Analysis of the 1989 Cleveland Indians as Depicted in Major League – Part Seven

In honor the 25th (Um..26th. I’ve been taking my sweet time at this) anniversary of the movie Major League, I am attempting to chronicle the events of the movie from the perspective of a sports blogger.

For past installments: Part One – Part Two – Part Three – Part Four – Part Five – Part Six

Wild Thing Mania has overtaken Cleveland!

Inexplicably, the Indians have become a good baseball team. Thanks to an absolutely scorching month of July, the Indians have climbed out of the basement, and have reached the dizzying heights of third place in the American League East.

Perhaps even more inexplicable is that for the first time in a long while (ever?), the city of Cleveland actually seems excited by the team. It used to be that the only people who excitedly discussed the Indians were drunk middle-aged men, and they tended to be less than positive with their comments. These days, just about everyone is talking about the Tribe, and for the most part, words like “suck” and “awful” are not being used.

Cleveland has taken a real shine to this cast of misfits, and the most amount of adoration is being heaped upon pitcher Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn. You might remember Vaughn from his memorable debut on Opening Day. Back then, it was difficult to picture him remaining in the major leagues for more than a couple of months. The thought that he could develop into a solid pitcher and fan favorite seemed absurdly implausible.

Apparently, all Vaughn needed was a new pair of eyeglasses. I’m serious; several coaches have gone on record saying that Vaughn’s control was so poor mostly because his eyesight was bad.

Glasses fix everything? (Image source)

Glasses fix everything? (Image source)

This doesn’t exactly ring true. Even if Vaughn couldn’t see the plate, he should have had a general idea of where it was. Many of Vaughn’s pitches were thrown as if he was completely blind.

If the only thing holding him back was his eyesight, how was this not diagnosed earlier? If his eyesight was as bad as they claim, it seems like he shouldn’t have been able to function. He certainly shouldn’t have been allowed to drive. I wonder: Are there a few hit-and-run incidents out there waiting to come to light?

Then again, criminal activities are something that Vaughn is familiar with. Remember that he wasn’t pitching in the minor leagues a year ago. He was in prison for stealing a car. (If the Indians really want to run with the “poor eyesight” thing, maybe they can explain that he just couldn’t see which car was his.)

This leads to another question: Should we be so quick to cheer for a criminal?

The Indians are a feel good story, and have plenty of guys worth rooting for. So why is the most popular player someone who spent time in jail last year? Maybe it wasn’t the most heinous crime ever, and yes, Vaughn served his time, but it strikes me as odd.

It seems obvious that some of the fans are cheering for Vaughn because of how he looks. According to many women, Vaughn is quite pleasing to the eye, and of course some girls can’t help but be attracted to “bad boys.”

Other fans are apparently happy to cheer for Vaughn simply because he comes off like he’s as pissed off as everyone else. After years of watching crappy players on crappy teams, it is a refreshing change of pace to see one of the players actually seem upset by it.

Or maybe Indians fans are so desperate for a good team that we’ll just cheer for anyone who looks capable of bringing us one.

I’d better stop or else people are going to accuse me of being a wet blanket. I’m going to get complaints that I’m only happy when the Indians are losing. (If that was true, I’d have spent the majority of my life feeling happy about the Indians, and that is certainly not the case.)

Then again, maybe they have a point. The Indians are finally playing well, and the first thing I do is find a reason to complain. I think I’d better switch into positivity mode.

Let’s all sing it together: “Wild Thing! You make my heart sing!”

Ah. Much better.

Posted in Pop Culture, Sports | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Didn’t Set My Fantasy Lineup Last Weekend

I play fantasy baseball, but I’m not doing very well this season. Part of the problem is that I usually neglect my team on the weekends. I don’t often update my lineup or make player transactions, or any of the other things that good fantasy players do.

I’d like to be able to update my fantasy team on the weekends. I’d also like to write, go to the gym, and maybe sit on the couch and relax. But it’s rare when an opportunity to do these things actually presents itself.

It seems like I should have plenty of time. Considering I typically wake up anywhere between 6 and 7 AM, there are quite a few hours until I go to bed. But weekends are strange; despite being awake for so much of the day, there’s very little time to get anything accomplished.

Take this past weekend for example. Saturday was the Cutlet’s birthday party for which we rented out the local splash park and had over 20 kids in attendance. (This extravagance merits a post of its own.) After a busy day of buying supplies, setting up, and running the party, Mrs. Cutter and I were exhausted, while our house was a mess of presents and leftover supplies.

At least the house didn't look this bad. (Image source)

At least the house didn’t look this bad. (Image source)

Before children (honestly, even in the days of just one child), we probably would have punted on the day. We likely would have slept in, and probably spent most of our time leisurely putting the house back in order. Unfortunately, we don’t have the ability to simply give away days like that anymore.

When I awoke on Sunday, I was dismayed to find that the magical cleaning fairy had not come by. I was also dismayed to find that the Cutlass – who had spent most of the previous day in a bad mood – wasn’t any happier. We’re not entirely sure why, but she spent most of the day crying.

Sunday morning was spent giving the twins their bottles, feeding them, changing them, and trying to entertain them in hopes that they might stop crying for a little bit. (Honestly, I feel bad blaming Cujo, since he was in a pretty good mood.) During the brief times when I could put them down, I tried to get things put away.

Nap time is usually the best opportunity to get household accomplished, but that was not the case on Sunday. In an attempt to eliminate one of their daily naps, we’ve been trying to push back their morning nap later in the day. Once I finally got them to sleep, the Cutlet asked if I would play with her.

I had lots of things I needed to get done, but my general attitude is that chores can wait, while childhood is fleeting. In a few years, what’s more important: A clean house, or that I got to spend some quality time with my daughter? Besides, it’s not like play time lasted all that long. About an hour later, despite the later start time, the Cutlass woke up ready to resume her crabby day.

The rest of the day was spent taking the children on a few errands (it’s not good for any of us to stay inside the house all day), mowing the lawn (we don’t want to be the neighborhood eyesore), and attempting to get things straightened up.

To our credit, we managed to get the house in acceptable working order by the end of the day. It’s possible that we might have had to step outside by ourselves just to get a brief break from the chaos. That break lasted about thirty seconds before the Cutlet came outside to ask if we were coming back.

So no fantasy lineup update this weekend. I didn’t get to write the blog post I had in mind either. I may have put some laundry through the cycle, but I didn’t get it put away. (And I still haven’t!) I suppose that can always wait until next weekend. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time then.

Posted in The Cutlet, Twins | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Sympathy for Ariana Grande

Celebrities – They’re just like us!

The latest example of this is Ariana Grande. The actress/pop star has found herself in the news lately for a bizarre incident where she was caught on camera licking donuts and saying “I hate America.”

Before last year, I had no idea who Ariana Grande even was. Thanks to Wikipedia, I know that she used to star on a Disney TV show, and now she makes songs that I generally do not listen to. Honestly, the first time I saw her, I thought that she was one of the Fembots from the Austin Powers movies.

Ms. Grande has received a good deal of criticism for this incident. She forgot that among the many rules for living in America, two of the most important are:

1. Never say you hate America.

2. Don’t lick donuts that aren’t yours.

I gotta tell you, I’m really confused by the whole donut licking thing. Who does that?  Actually, I know who does stuff like that: My daughter. That’s at least slightly understandable since she’s only five years old, and despite her appearance sometimes, Ms. Grande is considerably older.

But really, who am I to judge? I’ve done plenty of bizarre stuff in my time too. I can recall one night a couple of years ago when I was walking home. For some reason (Okay, I was drunk), I decided that I was going to pretend to shoot energy beams from my hands (Just like the Transformers!), destroying all the buildings in my neighborhood. I was having a grand old time until I discovered someone sitting on his balcony watching me with bizarre amusement.

In other words, we all do some really strange stuff when we think nobody is watching. That incident happened was when I was in my thirties. I don’t really care to chronicle all of the bizarre things I did in my twenties.

As for her saying she hates America, she’s explained that it was taken out of context. I actually believe her, because who among us hasn’t said something similar?

For example, I think many people have expressed a sentiment similar to this in recent days: “It’s 2015, and we’re still having a debate over whether the Confederate flag should be displayed. America really sucks sometimes.”

For some reason, people will vote for this man. (Image source)

For some reason, people will vote for this man. (Image source)

Hell, every time Ted Cruz opens his mouth and I’m forced to recognize that he’s actually considered a legitimate candidate for president, my opinion of the country drops a little bit.

So let’s all cut the poor girl some slack! She doesn’t really hate America, she just hates that Americans like donuts and that it’s made us all fat.

On that note, today is Krispy Kreme’s 78th birthday, and in honor of the occasion, if you buy a dozen donuts, you get a second dozen for only 78 cents! Better get them soon, because you apparently never know when a celebrity might try to lick them!

Posted in Pop Culture, Randomness | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

I Peaked in Fifth Grade

For the first four years of my elementary school career, our semi-annual school concerts were mundane affairs: The students would line up on stage, we’d sing a few seasonal songs, and our parents would applaud accordingly. In fifth grade, our music teacher decided to spice things up a bit. She gave the concerts a special theme and based them around everyone’s favorite childhood star: Pee Wee Herman!

Pee Wee Herman (Image source)

Pee Wee Herman (Image source)

In case you were curious, this took place before Pee Wee’s um…”scandal.” Had the music teacher chosen to base a school production around Pee Wee Herman a few years later, she likely (definitely) would have been fired.

Obviously, the role of Pee Wee was highly coveted, and half of the boys in the fifth grade class vied for it. Unfortunately for them, they had to contend with the Cutter. After several grueling rounds of tryouts, I outshone the competition and was chosen to fill the starring role. (In reality, I think that maybe three other kids tried out, and I only won because I had the loudest voice.)

The winter concert focused on Pee Wee travelling through “Holidayland.” Basically, Pee Wee and his friends would briefly discuss one of the fall holidays, and then the other students would sing a song about it.

The show was a hit and received rave reviews from all of the parents. (Although really, what were they going to say? Sorry, kids, but that show absolutely sucked! You guys can’t sing. At all.) I think most of them were happy that it deviated from the usual school concert formula in which the kids sang a few Christmas songs (and don’t forget the token Chanukkah song!) and called it a night.

I became a school celebrity. Everyone knew my name, and the younger students would stare at me with adulation. It was as if they couldn’t believe that Pee Wee himself actually walked among them.

My fame grew even larger when Pee Wee returned for the spring concert. (This time, the concert was based around an episode of Pee Wee’s TV show Pee Wee’s Playhouse.) The music teacher said she considered letting someone else play Pee Wee in the spring, but she realized that they would likely end up being unfairly compared to me.

At the end of the year, the school held a ceremony for the graduating fifth graders. I was presented with awards in several categories: Academics (I made the Honor Roll!), athletics (Meeting the standards for the Presidential Fitness Award!), and band. (Honestly, I’m not sure why I got this one. I was lousy at the clarinet.) In addition, the music teacher presented me with a special drama award.

I felt like quite the star that day, and why wouldn’t I? I had basically “won” elementary school. Little did I know that my status was going to take a major hit the next year.

Some kids arrive at middle school and quickly figure out how to become popular. I remained mostly oblivious to the fact that the social landscape had changed. The most prominent change was that many (most?) of my peers were now primarily concerned with the opposite gender. Here’s something I quickly learned: Pee Wee Herman may be many things, but “chick magnet” is not one of them.

If only Danny Tanner had shown me the way! (Image source)

If only Danny Tanner had shown me the way! (Image source)

If you’re a fan of the show Full House (and who isn’t?) you may remember that there was an episode based around this theme. There was also an episode where DJ had her first kiss, and this was a VERY BIG DEAL among my peers. I remember discussing this episode in-depth with some of my classmates.

My role as Pee Wee proved to be the height of my acting career. In sixth grade, I tried out for the drama club’s production of Bye Bye Birdie, but I was only assigned a few token supporting parts.

I can’t really blame them for not giving me a prominent role. While my 11-year-old voice might have allowed me to do a suitable impression of Pee Wee Herman, I’m sure it wasn’t exactly pleasing to the ear when I tried to sing.

I didn’t even bother trying out in following years because drama club interfered with the various sports I was trying to play. That’s kind of a shame, because in eighth grade, the music teacher who ran the drama club said she had a role that I would have been perfect for.

Since then, fame and fortune have continued to evade me. At my age, it seems unlikely that I’m going to be breaking into a professional sports league, and my dreams of becoming a famous actor died in 1998 when I tried out for a supporting role in a local film production and never heard back. (However, I did make it into the Hall of Fame of my kickball league, so I got that going for me!)

Oh well. Maybe it happened when I was relatively young, but at least I had my fifteen minutes of fame. Most people don’t even get that.

Besides, I’ve got kids now! Everyone knows that the best thing to do with failed dreams of fortune and fame is to simply push them onto your children!

Pageant circuit, here we come!

Posted in Trips and Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Mobility and Sibling Rivalry

We are starting to realize how lucky we were with the Cutlet. While she was a difficult baby in many ways, she was also low maintenance in terms of her mobility. If you placed her somewhere, she’d generally be content staying put.

While we baby-proofed our condo, it really wasn’t a necessity. The Cutlet didn’t try to open cabinets or climb into the toilet. I think the worst she ever did was empty an entire box of tissues all over the floor. (Although if I recall correctly, those were quality tissues.)

Never forget

Never forget

When we moved into our current house, we never bothered to baby-proof aside from a few token cabinet locks and outlet covers. We are making up for that now.

There’s a stereotype that male babies are more active and more likely to be mobile and get into things. We’re quickly learning just why that stereotype exists.

Cujo has learned to crawl, and he is taking full advantage of his new-found mobility. If you place him on the floor in a certain spot, it is unlikely that he will still be in that spot a few seconds later. If there is some place you don’t want him to go, that’s where he will try to go. If there is something you don’t want him to have, he will make every effort to get at it. (Daddy’s phone is of special interest.)

This mobility has made life more difficult for his parents, especially when he’s supposed to be drinking his bottle. He will only sit still for so long before he flips himself onto his stomach and starts motoring away. The other night, when he was supposed to be drinking his bottle, he was instead entertaining himself by pulling on the spring of the door jamb and being delighted with the sound it made.

As a result, changes have been made in the Cutter house. Our home was once a place of freedom, with its residents able to travel where they wished. Now, certain restrictions have been put into place. Where once there was free passage, now there are baby gates.

You shall not pass

You shall not pass

The twins’ playroom has been gated off, and there is also a gate at the top of the stairs. I’m becoming quite adept at opening the gates with one hand while carrying a baby in the other arm. We were slightly concerned about the Cutlet’s ability to open the gates, but she hasn’t had a problem either.

We do need to stress to her the need to close the gates once they’ve been opened. Theoretically, she will start to remember without being reminded. Theoretically, she’ll also remember to always flush the toilet after using it.

Meanwhile, the Cutlass hasn’t quite mastered the art of crawling, as she’s just as likely to move away from her intended destination. This is causing her a great deal of frustration as she wants to be able to move and grab things the way her brother does. She also doesn’t much like it that her brother is able to come over and grab for toys that she’s already playing with.

Yes, they’ve already begun to fight with each other. I’ve witnessed Cujo crawl over to his sister, pull the pacifier out of her mouth and stick it in his own. The Cutlass is not completely innocent either. I’ve watched her yank a toy away from Cujo and then push him over.

It’s not a good sign that I already have to tell them to stop fighting with each other. I’ve even had to separate them a couple of times when it seemed like they were really annoying each other.

I get it. If I had to spend just about every moment of the day with another person, I’d probably want some time to myself too. Sure enough, after they were separated, both of them became noticeably happier.

Don’t worry, I have a feeling that they’ll soon realize it’s more beneficial for them to work with each other. Especially when they unite against a common enemy: Their parents.

Posted in Twins | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

A Trip to Awesome Con!

“Do you want to go to Awesome Con?”

I am ashamed to admit that when my au pair posed this question to me, I had no idea what she was talking about. I may not get out much these days, but I do spend a lot of time in front of a computer, so I probably should have heard about Washington DC’s most prominent comic convention.

LogoSM2Once I did some research, I soon realized that this was indeed something I’d like to go to. Even better, it was something I could bring one of my children to, and I wouldn’t have to leave my wife with all three of them! So on Saturday afternoon, the Cutlet joined the au pair and I as we ventured into the city.

If you’ve never attended a comic convention, they all follow the same basic template: They invite a bunch of personalities from the comic book/video game/movie industries who will hold autograph and photo sessions and also take part in panel discussions. In addition, there are a plethora of dealers and merchants selling just about any geeky thing you could ever want.

The list of celebrities was an enjoyably odd mix of A-list stars and niche personalities. I mean, where else can you see William Shatner sitting a few feet away from some of the original Power Rangers as well as the guy who did the voice of Michelangelo on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon? (His name is Townsend Coleman, but I’m sure most of you already knew that.)

IMG_1702

I didn’t opt to pay for a photo session. There are very few people in this world who I would actually pay upwards of $40 to get a picture taken with. Maybe if Bruce Boxleitner was there, I would have splurged. (Okay, I definitely would have splurged. I also would have asked him if he was as upset by this news as I was!)

I didn’t get any autographs either, although I did walk by the booths to check out the celebs from a distance. I was tempted to go up to Coleman’s booth just to ask him if it was his decision to basically give Michelangelo the personality of Bill and Ted.

Neither the Cutlet nor the au pair were all that impressed when I pointed out Ralph Macchio and said, “Look, it’s the Karate Kid!” To their credit, they didn’t respond, “That’s not Jaden Smith!”

Part (most?) of the fun of these conventions is seeing some of the costumes that guests wear. While there were quite a few extravagant outfits (one guy had a Batman outfit that looked like something that Batman might actually wear), there wasn’t as much absolute craziness as I expected.

There were a lot of Doctor Who costumes, and a fair share of Ghostbusters. (I’m wondering just how much these people spent on their proton packs, because they looked pretty authentic.) Perhaps the strangest costume was the middle-aged man walking around in nothing but a loincloth.

It was cold in the convention center, but fortunately for the Cutlet, her father offered her his cape.

It was cold in the convention center, but fortunately for the Cutlet, her father offered her his cape.

Believe it or not, I don’t own a superhero costume. I was considering putting on Joker makeup, but seeing as how I don’t have a purple suit, I didn’t think it was worth the effort to only go halfway. Instead, I dressed in a Pitfall! T-shirt and wore my custom-made Cutter cape. The au pair wore a Superman cape, while the Cutlet went dressed as some sort of fairy princess.

I wasn’t actually sure how much the Cutlet would enjoy herself. I assumed that sitting down for a lengthy panel discussion was not going to be on the itinerary. On the other hand, I was correct in thinking she’d like seeing all the people in costume. There were a few Disney Princesses around, but oddly, she didn’t want to take pictures with any of them. (I did not ask her if she wanted to take a picture with loin cloth guy.)

They had a Kids Zone with interactive presentations every hour. One such presentation was a “light saber training,” where they gave the kids light sabers (Or in this case, pool noodles) and taught them how to properly wield them. It shouldn’t surprise you that they had to repeatedly tell the kids not to hit each other in the head. At the end, the guys doing to training did allow all the kids to wail on him. I just hope he was wearing a cup.

IMG_1694

Pool noodle Jedis

One of the marquee events of the convention was “Sci-Fi Speed Dating.” I’m not sure how it differs from normal speed dating except that some of the people are probably in science fiction costumes.

I urged the au pair to participate, if for no other reason than to get some interesting stories. She finally agreed to do so, but as she waited in line, I got a few nervous texts from her telling me that some of the guys in line seemed “a bit strange.”

Apparently, the speed dating is quite the popular event. Guys had to pay $20 to participate (women were free), but that cost didn’t appear to be much of an impediment. Really, that’s not much of a surprise. These conventions are basically a shrine to disposable income. If you’re going to spend $50 to have a 30 second chat with George Takai, why not spend another $20 to actually talk to a woman?

Unfortunately, because so many people participated, the previous session ran long. When they still hadn’t started her session more than 20 minutes after the scheduled start time, the au pair decided to skip it so that we could all go home. (Oddly, she didn’t seem that heartbroken about missing the opportunity to meet the potential man of her dreams.)

Even though I didn’t shell out for an autograph or picture, I did find some ways to spend some money. I was tempted to purchase a sword, but seeing how Mrs. Cutter has been pretty adamant about not wanting a sword in the house, I decided against it. Nor did I spend $30 on a novelty T-shirt which can probably be obtained for about $8 at Walmart.

Browsing through some of the dealer booths, I was pleased to find two issues of the Marvel G.I.Joe comic book series that I had missed during the original run. For the reasonable price of $6, I was able to add issue 40 (Hydrofoil!) and issue 43 (Crossroads) to my collection.

IMG_1703

The Cutlet didn’t come away empty-handed either. I purchased a signed My Little Pony illustration and a Comic-Con Exclusive My Little Pony comic for her. She really loves the comic, and has had someone read it to her every night since then. (Unfortunately, I think I now have to track down the following issue so I can finally learn what happens to Nightmare Rarity!)

While it’s somewhat on the expensive side, I definitely had a good time. Next year, maybe I’ll do a little bit of advanced planning and actually go in full costume. Perhaps I’ll re-create my old Tron costume? Or should I save that for a time when I finally get to meet Bruce Boxleitner ?

Posted in Pop Culture, Trips and Events | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Lessons Learned from a Stay at the Hospital

When the Cutlass came down with a fever last weekend, we weren’t too concerned. Her temperature was only mildly elevated (it maxed out around 101), and she was in relatively good spirits, so we assumed that it was a byproduct of teething. When she still had the fever on Monday – after a particularly restless night – Mrs. Cutter decided to bring her to the doctor.

When I left for work that day, I thought everything was fine. I was wrong. A few hours later, we were sitting in the emergency room, and the Cutlass would end up staying in the hospital for four days.

Along the way, I learned a few lessons about hospitals and having a sick child.

Seriously, DON’T HAVE KIDS

Last month, I (mostly) jokingly advised people not to have children.  I can now give you a completely serious reason why you might not want to reproduce: If you don’t have children, you will never have to pick up the phone and hear your wife tell you in a panicked voice that she’s bringing your daughter to the emergency room.

The conversation was brief, but I received a few important details: The Cutlass’ temperature was up to 105. More worrisome was that the doctor noticed some swelling in her head.

I had to immediately leave work, stop home to pick up some supplies, and then rush over to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. I don’t recall much about the drive, but it’s a miracle I was able to maintain a safe speed.

My state of mind actually worsened upon seeing my daughter. She was screaming, felt hot to the touch, and worst of all, she had an uncharacteristic glassy look on her face.

In an emergency room, you will hear words you don’t want to hear

After telling us to relax (easy for him to say!), the emergency room doctor informed us that the swelling in her head was a symptom of meningitis. I didn’t know much about meningitis, but I knew it wasn’t something I wanted my daughter to be diagnosed with.

They needed to determine if the meningitis was viral or bacterial in nature. We learned that viral meningitis is unpleasant, but will usually run its course naturally. Bacterial meningitis is far more serious and must be treated with antibiotics. It can also lead to further complications.

Fortunately, they didn't "crank it to 11." (Image source)

Fortunately, they didn’t “crank it to 11.” (Image source)

They gave her some Tylenol to bring down her fever. (To us, it seemed like it took them an exceptionally long time to give her the Tylenol, but it probably didn’t take that long. Time has a way of warping when your child is in pain.) Next, they wanted to obtain blood and urine samples and also perform a spinal tap.

Despite the ominous sounding name, we were reassured that a spinal tap wasn’t especially risky, nor was it painful. We were concerned, but they reassured us that it was the best way to determine the cause of her illness.

We had to leave the room while the procedure took place. We felt a great sense of relief a few minutes later when the nurse brought her out to us. She was a little dazed from the anesthesia, but aside from that, she was fine.

Hospitals are not a restful place

Since someone needed to look after our other two children, I went home, while Mrs. Cutter stayed in the hospital. While I didn’t have the most peaceful night’s sleep (more on this later), I still got more rest than Mrs. Cutter.

I left the hospital around 7. The Cutlass still needed to be moved to her room in the pediatric ward, have further tests run, and given a bottle. By the time that was complete and the Cutlass was asleep, it was close to 11 PM.

Mrs. Cutter was finally able to go to sleep shortly after, but less than an hour later, she was woken up by a nurse performing her rounds. While it’s nice to have an attentive staff, it doesn’t allow for a peaceful night of sleeping.

Honestly, sleeping interruptions aside, the staff at Shady Grove did an amazing job. The nurses were all extremely friendly and helpful, and the doctors seemed to be right on top of things.

The next night, I switched places with Mrs. Cutter and took my turn sleeping on the convertible guest chair. There have been times in my life when I wished I was taller. When forced to sleep in a hospital, my sub-average height becomes a blessing. A taller man would not have found the arrangements quite as comfortable.

Not designed for the taller members of the population.

Not designed for the taller members of the population.

After an uneven night of sleep, I was feeling a bit tired on Wednesday. It was at that point that I sort of wished that the Cutlet had been hospitalized instead of her sister. The Cutlet would have been content to just sit on the bed and watch television, but Family Feud didn’t hold the Cutlass’ attention for very long.

Don’t look up diseases on the internet

Have you ever suffered from some sort of malady in the middle of the night? Have you then looked up your symptoms on the internet and become convinced that you were dying?

I learned that when your child has been diagnosed with an illness, it’s advisable not to look up that illness online. The worst case scenarios that you’ll come across don’t do much to set a parent’s mind at ease.

Hospitals are a great place to get sick

By Wednesday morning, the Cutlass was feeling much better. Her fever was gone, and she was acting like her normal self.

I wanted to bathe in this stuff. (Image source)

I wanted to bathe in this stuff. (Image source)

Unfortunately, her father wasn’t faring quite as well. My throat had grown extremely scratchy, and it felt like I was full of mucus. Apparently, spending a day in the hospital was enough to make me sick.

As I sucked on a series of cough drops, I began to long for the outside world. As the day went on, I felt like I could actually sense the germs in the air. It was a huge relief once Mrs. Cutter returned and I was able to go outside. Fresh air never smelled so good.

After I returned home and put the kids to bed, I was finally able to take a shower. Let me tell you, this was the BEST SHOWER EVER. I was probably in there for close to an hour, and had I not been exhausted, I might have stayed even longer.

There’s no better feeling than leaving

On Thursday morning, the Cutlass’ test results had failed to show any bacterial activity, indicating that the meningitis was viral. Combined with the lack of fever, it was apparent that we’d soon be able to go home.

That afternoon, we finally received the news we were waiting for: They were confident that it was a virus and had just about run its course, so we were free to go. I quickly packed up the Cutlass’ stuff and headed home, where the rest of her family was overjoyed to see her.

Well, MOST of her family was overjoyed. Her brother seemed to enjoy his time as a singleton. He was actually able to sleep late in the morning, without being woken up by the Cutlass’ cries.

Still, I think he did miss her; At least a little.

A health scare can put things into perspective

As parents, we sometimes get caught up in how inconvenient the act of parenting can be. In case you hadn’t noticed, many of my posts are focused on how much of a pain my children are being.

When one of your children has a health scare, parenting doesn’t seem like such an inconvenience. Instead, you find yourself wishing that your child was home with you, once again waking you up in the middle of the night.

With that in mind, I looked at my reunited family on Friday morning, and I couldn’t help but smile. Sure, they might be huge pains at times, but I’ve got three healthy children, and that’s all that really matters.

Posted in Twins | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

…and Z is for Zebra!

Today is the last day of April, which means the Blogging From A to Z Challenge is finally over!

BATZAP!!!

BATZAP!!!

For the final day of the challenge, I figured I’d write about one of the two animals that I am often associated with. Since platypus doesn’t start with Z, today’s post will be about zebras, or at least my collection of zebra-related items.

I don’t know when the whole zebra thing started. I think it began as somewhat of a joke, where I’d say I wanted to get everything in zebra print. Eventually, the joke became reality. It wasn’t long before people started buying me things with zebra print or pictures of zebras on them.

One of the biggest disappointments I’ve suffered was when we visited the Animal Kingdom in Disney World and discovered that they don’t let you ride on the zebras. Apparently, they are actually quite temperamental creatures, and don’t get along well with people.

Naturally, when planning my wedding, I thought it would be pretty cool if I wore a zebra print vest. Mrs. Cutter didn’t quite agree. As a compromise, I wore a plain gray vest for the ceremony and the zebra vest for the reception. And I looked quite dashing, if I do say so myself.

In case you were curious, here are pictures of some of my zebra items:

A zebra topped pencil

IMG_1617

A zebra mug and paper holder.

IMG_1618

A zebra print bandana

IMG_1620

A framed photo of zebras

IMG_1621

And my beloved stuffed zebra, Ziggy

IMG_1619

Yes, I sleep with a stuffed zebra. Wanna make something of it?

Do any of you have any animals you’re associated with?

This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was Z and the topic was “Zebra.”

Posted in Randomness | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A Tribute to Weird Al Yankovic

Sometimes, when I’m fresh out of ways to keep her entertained, I’ll let the Cutlet watch videos on my phone. Usually she requests to watch Disney Princess videos, but there are times when I can’t stomach the thought of listening to any more songs about finding one’s true love.

A month or so ago, instead of listening to Ariel whine for the millionth time, I tried to think of a video that might make her laugh. Thankfully, I finally remembered the man who has probably made more funny videos than anyone in history.

I showed her this:

Her first reaction was, “Doesn’t a girl sing this song?” Her second reaction was hysterical laughter at the line “I’ll fix your plumbing when your toilet overflows.” She now sings this to her friends, and they all laugh too. Apparently, children find the concept of overflowing toilets to be hilarious.

Since then, “Weird Al” Yankovic has become one of her favorite singers, and she’s requested to watch more of his videos. I am usually happy to indulge her since he has always been one of my favorite artists. (And it certainly beats more Princess videos!)

I’m sure you are all familiar with Weird Al’s work. While he was written many original songs – that usually feature lots of accordion – he is most famous for his parodies of other famous songs.

Supposedly, artists LOVE it when Weird Al parodies one of their songs. Not only does the parody usually bring a new surge of popularity for the original, but is also somewhat of a status symbol. Apparently, you’re nobody in the music business until Weird Al has parodied one of your songs.

Reportedly, the only artist who opposed to Weird Al parodying one of his songs was Coolio, who felt that “Gangsta’s Paradise” was too important to be mocked. I’m willing to bet that Coolio would give just about anything to be parodied these days.

Weird Al often makes videos to accompany his parodies, and these tend to fall into two categories:

  • They mock the original video and basically re-create it with some key differences.
  • They don’t resemble the original video at all, and reflect the lyrics of whatever Weird Al’s parody happens to be about. (In many cases, the parody has nothing to do with the original song’s subject matter.)

In some cases, Weird Al has been able to do both, and the result is nothing short of brilliant. Here’s a good example:

Last year, when his “Mandatory Fun” album reached #1 on the Billboard charts, critics remarked how it was amazing that Weird Al was still relevant. It’s not like he’s the only one making parodies anymore. Go on YouTube, and it seems like you can find hundreds of parody videos for any given pop song.

But it seems that people still appreciate quality, and Weird Al’s parodies are simply better than anyone else’s. Here’s an indication of just how beloved this man is:

The good news for all of us Weird Al fans is that he probably won’t be going away any time soon. It seems like every week there’s a new pop song that is just begging to be parodied. And when you want an amazing parody, there’s only one man to turn to.

This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was Y and the topic was “Weird Al Yankovic.”

Posted in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments