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Archive for the ‘Movies, Music, & TV’ Category

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Two young children, a boy and girl. Neither could be older than five or six and both blond like the Swedish Bikini Team. They live next door and were playing ball on the street in front of their house while I sat on our front porch reading a book. I could hear them talking and laughing, as kids will do; kicking, shouting, footsteps…

…and suddenly, silence.

Turning in the direction I expected them to be, I was initially taken aback by the sight of them, lurking at the end of our driveway. There they stood, like two wily horror movie villains, with Charlie’s car standing between us, their faces tinted green from the glare of the vehicle’s back window. No sound, just a static and suspicious gaze.

They looked like something out of Children of the Corn.

“What the hell are they doing?” I thought to myself.

Their vacant stares then seemed to develop into concern followed by an argument of sorts which went something like this:

“We have to get the ball.”

You get the ball.”

“No, you get it!”

Finally, without explanation or agreement, they both turned away from our driveway and ran home.

“Did what I think happen, just happen?” I wondered.

Did these two little blond kids accidentally kick their ball into my dad’s yard and were too afraid to retrieve it? Is this what Charlie has become? The scary old man in the creepy house with the un-mowed lawn? When I’m not here, do the neighborhood children dare each other to ring our doorbell and run away? I had to investigate to be sure. (more…)

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If you’ve already reviewed the list of the Top 5 Best Restaurants according to Charlie, you know that my dad is not a picky eater. Indulging himself with greasy Ivar’s fish and chips, McDonald’s Big Macs, and gravy drenched Denny’s cuisine is not exactly the makings of a culinary expert nor a healthy diet for that matter. However, for all his fat-injected, cholesterol-elevating, artery-clogging cravings, Dad also has his standards.

Don’t get me wrong; he’ll still clean his plate, but if anything – from the staff, silverware, or food – doesn’t live up to Charlie’s strict guidelines of taste and acceptability, he’ll find a way to bitch about it from appetizer to dessert.

What follows is Charlie’s Top 5 Worst Restaurants. They are, without a doubt, a selection of the last places you would ever want to take him for dinner or even suggest for a special occasion. His reaction could be potentially anywhere from a frown and a head shake to an open display of 3-year-old tantrum-like hostility.

You have been warned. (more…)

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If there’s anything Dad likes more than computers, it’s food. And not just any kind of food… well, actually no, that’s not entirely true. Charlie will eat anything you put in front of him. In fact, I remember distinctly a time when I was dishing out ice cream after dinner and when my sister, Leigh, complained about the brand or flavor, the following short dialogue ensued:

Me: “I scooped the same kind of ice cream for Dad and Dad isn’t complaining.”
Leigh: “Dad wanted to eat the scoop of ice cream that fell on the carpet.”
Me: “Touché, Leigh, touché.”

So, needless to say, Charlie is not exactly a picky eater, but he is a tough critic. If he likes something, he becomes overly animated about it. Sometimes he’ll even request it the next day and momentarily sulk if there are no leftovers. And what happens if Dad doesn’t like his food? Well, because he grew up in the generation of “Clean Your Plate!” (as did I by proxy) he’ll still eat it, but with the face of a 10-year-old being forced to eat his broccoli and brussels sprouts.

Over the summer, I’ve been trying to get Charlie to eat healthier.

  1. Sodium-filled TV dinners are replaced by fish and organic, free range meats and eggs.
  2. Greasy potato chips as a snack, substituted with apple sauce and carrot sticks with hummus dip.
  3. Sugary, frosting-covered donut desserts tossed out in favor of fruit smoothies with flax seed and pro biotic yogurt (the ingredients of which I have to repeatedly explain before he’ll agree to drink it).

This is a man who, when left to his own devices, nukes an entire package of bacon (sans plastic) in the microwave until it’s black and eats it all in one sitting. He needs help.

I’ve tried to explain that he must take better care of himself. His blood pressure is through the roof, he’s already had a couple heart attacks AND a quadruple bypass. Instead of eating the shite he chooses to eat on his own, he might as well have doctors shove a scoop of lard and a dozen maple bars into his arteries and get it over with!

Nevertheless, despite my best efforts, protests, and fruit smoothies to the contrary, Charlie still has his preferences and a routine to maintain. If I or my sisters aren’t cooking or it happens to be the day of the week Dad has penciled in a specific meal, there are five places he’s willing to patronizing (the consumer-type of patronizing rather than the condescending-type he’s more prone to). (more…)

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Pet Peeve #5: Empty toilet roll. Why do you hate me so much?

When you live with someone long enough, they can do things, even little things, to really get on your nerves.

Examples:

Growing up with my two sisters we fought over clothes, bathroom time, and whose turn it was to do the dishes.

Husbands are also a great source of pet peeves; never refilling the toilet paper roll, leaving wet towels on the furniture, and flossing their teeth anywhere but in the bathroom.

And my late mother, she HATED when you’d read a book without a light on behind you. If you really pissed her off Mom would usually react one of two ways:

  1. Respond sarcastically to questions like, “Where are you going?” with, “Crazy, that’s where!”
  2. The silent treatment.

Mom was a pro at “2.”

These pet peeves and others are minor inconveniences we put up with every day. Whether it’s finding toenail clippings or coffee stains on the counter for the 1,876,435 time, we supposedly love these people and are willing to bite our lip because we know their good qualities far out weigh the bad. Besides, none could be so irritating as to cause a mental break, right?

Then comes Charlie.

Pet Peeve #4: Drama Queens and/or generally anyone on Reality TV.

I love my dad. He’s often thoughtful, funny, and tolerates me eating his food and using his washing machine while I’m visiting in exchange for home cooked meals, cleaning, and, I assume, my sparkling personality. That said, however, Charlie also has some seriously grating aspects to his personality that can be beyond irritating and could nearly drive a sane person to tears.

Perhaps that’s what was causing Mom to go ‘crazy’?

I’ve begged him, I’ve pleaded. Still no change in his behavior.

“Dad, could you please turn the music down?”

“DAD. I’m sitting right here. You really don’t need to yell.”

“Could you PLEASE STOP leaving your wires everywhere? Someone is going to trip over them and kill themselves!” (Close calls happen about a half dozen times a week.)

“Are you aware you just said ‘Son of a bitch’ five F*CKING times in the last five F*CKING minutes?!”

The thunderous snoring. The TV at full volume, coupled with his refusal to replace the battery in his hearing aid. The pointing at his non-existent wrist watch at the stroke of 12 noon and 6pm to not-so-stubbly indicate he’s ready for me to make food. I’ve bitten my lip and lived almost blissfully with all of these “minor inconveniences” for weeks. Then the day came when I discovered the biggest potential Dad-related pet peeve of all: A disrespectful sound used to cut me off in mid-conversation. That’s when I mentally broke and the Mexican Standoff or, in our case, German Standoff began. (more…)

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He’s had his lunch, it’s 2 o’clock, so Charlie decides to take a break from swearing at technology for an afternoon nap.

In addition to the technology – which I’ve come to hate with a passion – Dad’s naps have become the curse of my current existence. He sleeps about three times a day, sometimes unintentionally, and far too often within ear shot.

  1. One to two hour naps shortly after breakfast and/or lunch.
  2. One hour in front of the TV, computer, etc. usually when attempting to stay up passed 8pm.
  3. Eight hours of semi-regular sleep from 9pm, which hopefully carries on into the next morning.

Having spoken to others on the subject of old people and naps, I know this is a pretty common occurrence. As you get older the body slows down, you have less energy, and thus require more down time. Based on this theory, I’d assume millions of people over the age of 60 are taking naps at any given point of the day. I have to wonder, however, while the frequency tends to remain the same, do all retirees also choose the most random of locations? And how many have daughters slowly being driven mad by proximity and nap-related noise?

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Location, Location, Location

Charlie can fall asleep anywhere:

  1. In church
  2. In front of the computer with his head propped up on his elbow
  3. Sitting in a booth at Denny’s while waiting for his usual, senior discounted Country Fried Steak with Coleslaw

All completely random and without warning.

Dad even sleeps in the car. After kindly offering to drive me to the store, though he knew I’d need at least 15-20 minutes to get ready, Charlie still went straight out to the car and proceeded to take what seemed to be an unplanned snooze behind the wheel. Did he forget he was in the car or did he really mean to sit there, coat on, key in the ignition, and head tilted forward like he’d taken a blow to the back of the head?

It’s like he’s some kind of elderly, absent minded narcoleptic.

And God forbid if you try to wake him up. Even if you’re successful, Dad ALWAYS tries to pretend that he wasn’t. Teeth clinched, claws out:

“GrrrGRRRAH!… Huh… What?!… NO! I wasn’t SLEEPING!” (more…)

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It’s pretty well established at this point that my dad, Charlie, is addicted to computers or – more specifically – “fixing” them. It has also been stated that while Dad is unquestionably knowledgeable in the area of electronics from the 1970s, he lacks the required formal expertise in modern-day computers and related technology. These facts, coupled with his stubborn refusal to admit his aforementioned limitations, more often than not, lead to disaster.

I wish I was making the following story up. I assure you, I am not.

Charlie’s latest forage into the realm of attempted computer repair came at the expense of a young woman’s poor, defenseless Toshiba laptop. The woman, an acquaintance from church, heard through the grapevine of Charlie’s hobby and asked if he would mind taking a look at her broken laptop screen.

One broken laptop screen? Check. (more…)

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Photo Credit: slightlywarped.com

I asked my dad, Charlie, today, “What’s

your favorite movie?”

Dad: “Don’t have any.”

Me: “Don’t have any?”

Dad: “Hell no!”

Doesn’t everybody have a favorite movie?

“Did you like James Dean growing up?” I asked, assuming the answer had to be “yes” based on his pompadour hairstyle in high school and his trademark white tee (worn with or without a dress shirt depending on the occasion).

Dad: “Yeah, I suppose. That’s old stuff (though).”

Okay, this was going to be a challenge! What movies would Charlie consider worthy of his rigid approval? I know he’s got a preset list that, if you ask, he’ll always watch no matter the time of day, what he’s doing, or how recently he saw it last. My goal, however, was to create a Charlie’s Top 5 Favorite Movies and I only had 4 sure things.

Me: “Humphrey Bogart?”

Dad: “Nah.” (said with a grimace)

Me: “The Rock?”

Dad: “The what?”

Me: “Chuck Norris movies?

Suddenly Charlie’s eyes lit up.

Dad: “Oh, they’re fine, I like them. In fact I’ve got one of the trilogies!”

Armed with Chuck-fueled gusto, Dad immediately dashed over to his limited DVD collection and made a brief, futile effort to hunt down the Missing In Action omnibus (they were probably in the cabinet whose door is conveniently obstructed by an enormous speaker). Had he been successful I have no doubt we would’ve been treated with a marathon after dinner.

So now, armed with the assistance of Chuck Norris, without further ado, I humbly present to you the reader:


Charlie’s Top 5 Favorite Movies!
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