Monday, April 06, 2015

How not to mess up Easter

Easter is one of those holidays which brings all parts of the family together. The host family spends hours cleaning their home, preparing food and planning this only to have it turn to shit in mere minutes.

 For us, hosting Easter dinner for the third time in ten years, we partially remodeled both our kitchen and living room, meticulously cleaned our money pit of a house and planned a pretty kick-ass meal. Of course, as luck would have it, the electricity had gone out when we arrived home from an excruciatingly long Easter morning mass. We hauled what we needed to my sister-in-law’s house and the wife cooked what she could there. I stayed home and minded the rugrats and waited for guests to show up.

 The guests showed up in a trickle. The electricity came back on at ten minutes before noon and we hustled to get everything on the table by noon. We missed the mark by about ten minutes but that was, by far, the most timely holiday meal which had been served in over a decade for this particular family by anyone hosting it.

 The problem, though, was that eleven people had yet to show up. I graciously waited five minutes and, after that time, calmly proclaimed “screw ‘em” and told everyone to eat. The food was as good as could be expected but where in the holy hell have people’s manners gone? I know that life gets in the way and kids can be a total bitch to get out the door in a timely fashion but it’s not like this was sprung on you a few hours ago. We told people months ago, followed up by a reminder a few weeks ago and a reminder about what to bring about two weeks ago.

So, why can’t people show up at a designated time? Everyone lives within ten minutes of our house. The wife’s dad showed up 50 minutes late. One of her brothers and his family showed up over an hour late. Her sister and family rolled up thirty minutes late. That accounts for a whopping fourteen guests showing up late. I get that holidays should be fun and relaxed but, shit, plan your time a bit better. While this isn’t a fucking job interview, have some respect for those who have the kindness to invite you lazy, untimely bastards into their house and feed you for free. Showing up on time is the least you can do.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Bunnies and eggs, an Easter question

Why are the two traditional symbols of the commercialized Easter holiday entirely unrelated?

Bunnies don't come from chicken eggs and chicken eggs don't come from bunnies. Sure, if my science here is correct, bunnies do in fact come from eggs but that involves freaky bunny sex which, amazingly, I know nothing about except that 'fucking like bunnies' is a popular term when describing your friends who have insane amounts of sex.

Great, I went off on a twisted tale involving humans fucking like bunnies while trying to decipher the symbols of easter. Just give me the ticket to hell, please.

Where is the relationship, folks? Why must we surround ourselves with an Easter basket full of varying types of eggs and fill the fucker out with an Easter bunny? Which came first, the bunny or the eggs? Huh? Wait a minute.

That old tale is about a chicken and an egg, two things which are related. Chickens come from eggs and vice versa. Not the same with bunnies. Bunnies are born alive, they are not hatched.

Maybe bunnies, in some corner of the world, give birth to eggs where pollution runs rampant and thus began the tradition. Or maybe they swim underwater at the Mall of America like Scuba Bunny does...

Enlighten me, please.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Last Man on Earth WAS promising

FOX comedy “The Last Man on Earth” started out with an explosion of greatness. A stunning and almost dangerous concept starring but one actor, the under appreciated Will Forte who was the bumbling MacGruber in numerous SNL sketches. The concept was risky but played out wonderfully — one solitary man leaving a bleak if not interesting existence after a virus wiped out 99.99999999% of humanity. It was a wonderful one-man show. Forte’s Phil Miller traveling the country in search of any glimmer of humanity.

I even liked the second episode where the moderately grating Kristen Schall was introduced. She is wonderful as the voice of Louise Belcher on another FOX comedy, the animated and overlooked “Bob’s Burgers” but just like  her role as Hazel Wassername on NBC’s “30 Rock” a few years ago, her acting simply rubs me the wrong way. Her characters are grating and borderline annoying but I suppose that’s why she is playing the characters she is playing.

But a comedy starring even two characters was too good to be true and too good to last for long. Future episodes saw the addition of two more characters. Hopefully that’s where the character additions stop because what quickly became a multi-faceted show focusing more on Phil Miller’s desire to be with the more attractive of the last two apparently living females in America showed just how much of a dickhead he is — even to the only other apparently living guy in America. Everyone needs friends, no matter how much they deny having such a need, and pushing them aside in an effort to have the more desirable of two women possibly shows why Phil Miller survived. He was left behind to suffer through a miserable and incomplete life.

He could choose to be a better friend and a better husband but instead he continually finds ways to alienate those around him. That is, until the most recent episode. Forte’s character chose to change his life to make a better life for those around him. He decided to clean up his poop pool, he reluctantly allowed his wife to move into his house and is beginning to realize that, for better or worse, this weird existence is his new life and that he needs to make the best of it or continue to be a self-loathing and shallow dickhead.

I know that even after a short while that television shows change and evolve but I hope to see more of the weirdness that comes with what is now a small group of  survivors left as the last people in America — possibly Earth — and less of the relationship drama. Check out “The Last Man on Earth” Sundays at 8 PM and/or 8:30 PM (C/T) on FOX.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The string of family deaths has begun

It happened last Wednesday. My mom called in the middle of the day to inform me that her sister’s health was worse than previously expected. Her sister, the youngest of three siblings from my mom’s family, had never married and lived alone in the same apartment for over thirty years. Her health, though, had gone downhill rapidly over the previous six weeks.

I offered to come after work and visit them as they waited for news at the hospital. With her brother from out of state on his way, though, my mom opted to wait for him. She is both an open and closed-off person — at least emotionally speaking. I have rarely seen my mom show her emotions. It’s the way she was raised, I suppose. They grew up with little, thrived on hard work and long hours and survived on little. It’s a generational thing.

I knew, though, that when my mom declined my offer to visit her, her brother and my dad (as well as my aunt) that things were not good. Nobody want to be seen when they are in rapidly declining health by members of even the extended family. As it stands, I am the only nephew my aunt and uncle have. My uncle, married twice, never had children and my parents have only me. Small families are typically close-knit and I suppose ours is no different. I arrived home form work that evening and further discussed with my wife what was going on. I flatly explained that this is just how my mom is. My wife knows it and has seen it. A hug is a rarity but the love, often unspoken, is still there.

When my phone rang on my way to work the following morning I already knew what it was about. My aunt, at the age of 63 years old, had passed away at 2:23 AM at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. After only one day in the hospital in Mankato, she was airlifted when bad became worse. They contemplated surgery but with the medication my aunt was on she would have likely bled to death. If medical attention, and a consensus between doctors at the clinic and the hospital in Mankato, would have been sought out earlier, the trio of conditions could have likely been treated. Instead my aunt passed away due to complications from a kidney disease, a possibly ruptured colon and a nerve disorder. All of which stemmed from a poor diet and a lack of medical attention.

When this happened, I wondered how my mom would deal with it. Separated by about 100 miles, the two spoke weekly via phone. My mom is the oldest in the family and she is the glue that holds not only her family but my dad’s family together, too. They visited in person regularly and my mom looked out for her as plenty of older siblings do for their younger siblings.

My mom, though, described what she was experiencing only as “a bit tough”. That’s who my mom is. She can talk for hours but when it comes to anything remotely personal, the conversation is quickly steered away from that topic.

The troubling part for me is that this was the first death of a close family member. The first aunt to pass away. Sadly, it marks what will likely be a regular occurrence for years to come. My dad is one of seven siblings and he also has two step-siblings. That leaves around a dozen family members when you factor in spouses. The next twenty-five years will be full of losses for my extended family.

But instead of thinking about the losses, I like to focus on the positives. My daughter will have her first of probably many boyfriends. My son will start school and slay plenty of ladies with his good looks. Things will continue to change and evolve for my wife and me. Our friends and family will continue to grow. We’ll have far more good times than bad.

The inevitable changes will happen but the memories will last forever.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The best Mai Tai on Kauai

I recently returned from a trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Populated with far more chickens that humans, this is definitely the most authentic look at Hawaii I have seen and truly the most laid back of the islands I have visited. In our time on the island of Kauai, we managed to sample a wide variety of Mai Tai cocktails and throughout our travels on the island came up with the list below chronicling the tastiness, price and location of some of the Mai Tais we threw down our drink holes. Use this guide as you plan for your vacation to Kauai as this is the definitive guide to the best Mai Tain on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

9th Island
Fruity but definitely not watered down. Two of these will sneak up on you and remind you that you are, in fact, drinking a tropical cocktail that is laden with alcohol. The 9th Island Bar and Grill is located in a strip mall adjacent to the Safeway grocery store in Kapa’a. If you ever get a hankering for a slice of the mainland while on the island of Kauai, this is the bar and grill for you. It doesn’t hurt that it’s owned by a guy with Minnesota roots who is originally from White Bear Lake, MN.

Smith's Family Luau
Free with admission
The food was the best of the three luaus I have attended in Hawaii and the Mai Tais were the second best of my entire trip to Kauai. You can grab two at a time from the open bar during dinner and it’s entirely possible to drink a dozen cocktails while you eat. While they may be a bit weaker than those which you pay for out of your own pocket at other bars and restaurants, the sheer quantity you can consume in a short amount of time will make up for the somewhat weak mix. They definitely do not lack in the flavor department, though. The show at the Smith Family Luau isn’t bad but not stellar either. I got a hearty laugh out of one of the cultures portrayed whose supposed claim to fame was being able to stroke a chicken to sleep.

Outrigger restaurant/bar - Oasis on the Beach
Tall and tasty. Mixed with a different blend of tropical juices than I had come to expect, possibly a bit heavy on pineapple. The setting is nice as the Outrigger Waipouli in Kapa’a sits just feet from the beach on the Pacific Ocean. This just so happens to be the very hotel/condo which we stayed at and I would definitely go back again as the Outrigger properties are definitely top notch (we honeymooned at Outrigger Reef on the Beach in Waikiki).

Rob’s Good Times Grill
Definitely tops as far as Mai Tai drinking is concerned on Kauai. A little sports bar tucked away next to a bowling alley in Lihue, an ad for Rob’s Good Times Grill ironically played on the radio as we pulled into the parking lot. A buddy of mine boasted about how these were the best Mai Tais he had had during his vacation and he should know as he was rarely seen without a Mai Tai in his hand.

Tiki Iniki
Strong Mai Tais. Little if any juice. Good if you want to get rip-roaring drunk in paradise but not flavorful at all. A bit lacking in atmosphere as well as this bar, owned by Todd Rundgren, is located towards the back of a cute little shopping center in the north shore enclave of Princeville. The service was a bit slow at Tiki Iniki and a friend of mine discovered a little paper umbrella smashed in the bottom of one of his green ceramic Mai Tai glasses. That leads even the slowest person to believe that the glass had not been washed. A bit of a disgusting vision to be sure but, like I said, the Mai Tai from Tiki Iniki in Princeville on the island of Kauai was strong and full of alcohol. One short swig and I knew that this outing would be interesting.