Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Tour '08

After absorbing a heavy dose of holiday hubbub, I'm glad to be back at my desk here at the Oak Lair with the report of the past week's events.

It was hurry up and wait last Saturday morning as I rushed the van to the mechanic in response to a smell Jodi had noticed a few days earlier. It kinda smelled like burning rubber, so naturally I figured it was just the roasted tires from all the drag racing. Turns out it was actually transmission fluid leaking from the filter housing and spraying over the exhaust, requiring a new filter and gasket. Sounds cheap, right? Not the case.

So after an hour or so of Field and Stream, coffee from a styrofoam cup, and the incessant mutterings of a mentally ill guy in the waiting area, I was more than ready to pack up the big top and move this circus on down the road. When we arrived in Lost Nation a glorious reception awaited. Boisterous voices, and the buzz and excitement one would expect to surround an occasion fueled by prime rib, wine, and Christmas cheer.


With bellies full of goat meat...er, I mean beautifully prepared prime rib, we made our way to the sacred area for the gift exchange. Many lovely things were unwrapped as Maura wallowed in the scraps of paper and bows. Before her lie a generous offering of neatly wrapped gifts which awaited their undoing.



Everybody got everything they wanted and more, and we knew it was only a matter of time before Ms. Maura got into the liquor cabinet.



At some point during the next couple days something dreadful happened to our van. Whatever the cause, it soon became apparent that the engine no longer held oil. With 240 miles ahead of us, the prospect of getting home without major repairs seemed doubtful, while the familiar trip home grew ever daunting. After filling up with oil (one quart of which being a $10 "stop leak" formula) we set out on the first leg of the drive. Forty five miles later we stopped for lunch and a status check in Dubuque, at which point we made a grim discovery. There was absolutely no oil on the dipstick, meaning we went through five quarts of oil in less than fifty miles.

Not good.


We grabbed a couple quarts here and there along the way until we got to the Prarie du Chien Wal-Mart where I proceeded to buy four five quart jugs for the drive home. At one point while stopped at a gas station for a complete oil fill up I tried to clean off the rear window with the squeegee/sponge wand only to find it completely oil-covered, thus coating the sponge for the next guy to smear across his windshield. Crap. Seemed like that was the theme for the trip, because I'm sure people were probably spinning off into the ditch behind us as we literally dumped thirty gallons of motor oil onto the highway. With the awareness that comes with being a complete stress-ball and the diligent use of the tripometer, we managed to dock the Valdez in the garage until further inspection.

Aside from wishing I would've asked for a barrel of oil for Christmas, everything was great. I hope you all had a wonderfully less eventful holiday. We'll probably play it safe with Seacrest on New Year's Eve.
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Of All the Trees Most Lovely

Thanksgiving 2008 is in the books, and another year's worth of blessings have been counted. We, like many others observe the day after Thanksgiving as the first day of the pre-Christmas work-up. It wasn't long until the boxes came out and the house underwent a transformation not unlike something one might see in Whoville. A childlike wonder is restored within me...as in, I wonder how we ended up with all this crap. To all grinches out there that don't particularly care for this time of year, I urge you to check your pulse echocardiogram. Your heart may be two sizes too small.



We used to make a point of picking out a new ornament each year, but that tradition, like many others has gone by the wayside. That doesn't mean that we don't have a copious amount of ornaments, because we do. So this year I've decided to give special attention to a select few and recognize my...

TOP 5 FAVORITE ORNAMENTS



#5

Tiny lil' Wright brothers airplane

A treasured Hallmark collectible, this tiny airplane will soar into your heart, letting your imagination take flight. I can't believe I haven't lost it yet...the ornament, not my poeticism.


#4

Ralph Wiggum eating paste

What a stinker. His cat's breath smells like cat food, his doctor urges him to keep his finger outta his nose...Who among you can't see a little of yourself in this fresh portrait of playfulness?




#3

Santa being pulled by a fish team

The decision to choose this as my yearly ornament all those years ago was just as easy as the decision to include this in my top five. A special place on the tree is always reserved for this incongruous gem.



#2

The Craftsman belt sander

As classic as the star at the top, this ornament may be too abrasive and gritty for some, but I was immediately able to recognize its rugged beauty. Be sure to observe all safety precautions when hanging.





#1

1977 Disney ball ornament

My all time favorite ornament. This is the one I always acknowledged as my ornament and was always the one I had to dig around for when mom was decorating the tree. I don't think this was the first one I'd received, but to me it's the holy grail of ornaments. The treasure that I uncover every year and identify as a key to a historic ritual. Just holding it conjures memories as though it were some type of mystical orb.



Enjoy the holiday!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Opening Day Success


Maura's first deer hunting experience proved to be fruitful, as her big buck dreams were realized. She waited patiently in the bitterly cold woods, and actually passed up on a couple other nice ones before harvesting this beautiful trophy animal.

After field dressing her kill, she still had about three miles of woods to drag the deer through.

"The fun part's over," she said. "I'll probably be up way past my bedtime cuttin' up this big boy."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quality Local Meats

When it's time to shoot deer in Wisconsin, a feller really ought to know where to take his animal(s) for processing. Every morning while lying on the couch I'm reminded of a nifty little full service meat market that would be more than capable of handling all of my venison needs. The only problem is that I've been reminded so many times that my focus has now shifted to how the commercial itself has so much room for improvement.

So, of course I took it upon myself to tenderize and beautify this little piglet, with the intention of bringing the blue ribbon back to the Oak Lair. You be the judge.


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The original...

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The classic.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Smurf Alert!

It's been awhile since I've given the people a look at the baby, so allow me to drop the latest video featuring the one and only Chubbz Thunder. In this episode, she's channeling her inner jive turkey, just a twitchin' and a floppin'. Work it out, Maura.


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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Feral Amish Kids Bent on Mayhem

Imagine yourself traveling through the midwest, run down buildings and rusty farm equipment occasionally breaking up the monotony of mile after mile of corn lining the highway. Not so much creepy as it is depressing...until you add Amish kids.


YIKES!

Sounds like a great recipe for a short story. Someone should write that. Then someone should make a movie based on it. Then someone should make about five sequels. Then someone should do a remake based on the original short story...in my home town.

Wait a minute, I've just been told that all of my aforementioned suggestions are too late.

That's right, my home town of Lost Nation, Iowa was selected as a filming location for the upcoming Sci-Fi Channel exclusive "Children of the Corn". I don't think any of the town's 500 residents would have ever imagined that their downtown would one day be transformed into a desolate backdrop of ruin for an army of bloodthirsty, self-created orphans. In any event, I'm sure they didn't think it would happen so suddenly.

When Jodi and I rolled into town, what we saw couldn't have been too unlike what the main characters Burt and Vicki saw when they first arrived...a town that had fallen to neglect. As it turns out, grubby little maniac children aren't the best housekeepers. In fact, they pretty much get an F- for effort. It's not for lack of numbers though, as you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting one. Someone just needs to give them the many hands lighten the load rundown.

So anyway, you get the idea. Old familiar things from my childhood (family grocery store, cyberninja's house) were transformed into horror movie sets much to the chagrin/amusement of the townspeople. Have a look for yourself as I present to you my first feature-length documentary that covers some of the high points of the filming.


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Monday, October 6, 2008

Filler

I know you could easily just go to youtube or hulu yourself, but I'll just save you a step and put all the videos you'll ever need to watch right here on the Lair. I know it's weak, but everyone reads the Cliff Notes at some time or another. I'm sort of gearing up for the next post, so in the meantime, learn a little something about the young Chuck Norris. It's very informative, and you might even find a little humor in it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Come to Penn State

The Big 1o Network was added to our cable package this year, so needless to say I've been pretty jazzed about the new opportunities to watch some Iowa Hawkeye football. As it turned out last weekend, the team had a few opportunities of their own, so the highlight of the afternoon for me ended up being this silly Big 10 commercial.

For the most part, all of the coaches are half committed at best to their acting roles, because after all, they're football coaches first and public spokespeople second. But there's one coach who steals the show. JoePa.

How can an 81 year old man continue to motivate players and win bowl games you ask? After seeing how hot the fire still burns in this guy you might just find yourself going to Penn State.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Trip to the Farm

Jodi's Aunt and Uncle Wisner tend to a fantastic little slice of God's country in northwest Wisconsin, so naturally we always look forward to visiting. This time the occasion was brought on by the birthday of cousin Trent, which seemed like the perfect excuse to gather the family and celebrate this time of year and the awesome weather that it brings.

Like always, I wish I took more pictures, but they really can't capture the enchantment I feel when I'm at the farm. Rolling fields, beautiful gardens, bee hives...it's a showcase of nature. I actually saw a snake catch and eat a tree frog right outside the front door. By the time I grabbed the camera the frog was but a lump in the snakes throat.


Among other plant varieties there grows a mighty hop vine along the back of one of the buildings. I was allowed to pick till satisfied, much to the delight of Brando, who intends to use the precious ingredient in a future brewing venture. We talked of the dude on the Sam Adams commercial who kind of churns some hops in his hands and then pulls a big whiff off it. Unfortunately there's no smell-o-vision on the Oak Lair, but I can assure you that they posess a very bright bouquet.

What would a trip to the farm be without a pony ride? Believe it or not, this was Mo-chubkin's very first time atop a mighty steed. I think it's clear though that she's a natural, but Jodi still wouldn't let her ride by herself. I know she could do the horse-wheelie thing if given the chance. Hopefully this doesn't spark any kind of "I want a pony" phase later in life.



We wrapped up the afternoon with a titanic clash on the bocce ball field. The rules were bent as they often are, until the game we were playing only loosely resembled this refined sport of gentlemen. We did, however, adhere to a selection of rules, keeping the spirit of the game intact, and we faithfully referred to the target ball by it's proper name, the "pallino"...over and over.

Great is the bounty of the Wisner Farm, which it bestows freely upon all who visit. It's the kind of place that can sustain your body and soul with it's countless riches. Until next time.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Brett Seymour Hoffman

Here's a comparison you're not likely to see elsewhere...

Brett Favre and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

"Oh please...tell me he didn't just go there."

I watched the movie Capote this morning and found that among other things it's a study of Philip Seymour Hoffman's face. I really enjoyed the movie, don't get me wrong, but it's very much a character study of Truman Capote...and PSH's face.


Last year it would've been out of bounds, blasphemous even to draw such a silly comparison which disparages the regal looks of Favre, but now that he's done us all a favre and checked out, he's pretty much fair game.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dear Diary

I knew at the outset that a good percent of the material in this blog was going to be foolish crap, but I don't think anyone really knew what grade of foolish we would be dealing with.

Having no preconceived notions about what I would do, I found myself gravitating toward the film arts. I think a typical oaklair blogpost is much like a gymnastics routine. Everyone pretty much just waits for the high-speed flips and then yawns during the dance elements. The movies are the flips, and my writing is like the filler...to make it appear more blog-like. Anyway, don't ask me what my muse was when I cooked up this particular slice, just take it at face value.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Mini Getaway

First of all, I hope that everyone soaked up their last deliciously sizzlin' summer weekend. I suppose there could be more sizzlin'...it's only September.


Since we didn't really take a vacation this year, we felt we should at least take a day trip to somewhere quaint and picturesque. We had received a hot tip that there were some pretty interesting places to be seen south of us along the Mississippi, so we set sail for fabulous Fountain City.

First stop on the itinerary was the Monarch Pub. Upon entering this piece of living history it was clear that it had been around for awhile, and that it had been gathering a lot of character over the years. I wish I would have paid more attention to the little tid bits on the walls that explained it's origin and significance to the area. In any event, it was authentic, right down to it's $4.50 beers. I guess that's the price of admission to absorb a dining experience at this museum-like restaurant/pub...savor it.


After eating way more pizza than Kobayashi could even dream of, we figured a good way to burn some calories would be to walk up the street...and I mean UP the street. This thing had to be at about a thirty degree angle, and we thought it sensible to push a baby stroller up it. I kept thinking about how far it would've flown into the river had we accidentally let it go.


Fortunately, we all completed the one block journey and gained about 100 feet in elevation. The struggle would not go unrewarded though, for we soon found ourselves at the geocache I was tracking as well as a beautiful garden through which we were offered a tour.

On the way home we hung a right through some more twisty country in the town of Alma. Buena Vista park was another strongly suggested area of interest that we intended to scope, so we pushed upward towards the summit of this natural wonder, and eventually found ourselves atop one of the best vantage points along the Mississippi River...and I ain't bluffin' *groan*.


A day of travel and exploration on a day that felt like it was pulled from a Bob Ross painting was just what we needed to refresh ourselves. I hope you (the reader) were also able to make the most of your precious Labor Day weekend.




Friday, August 29, 2008

Michael Jackson Turns 70

...or 50, one of the two.

It's too bad that the name Michael Jackson is now almost synonymous with creepy perv-man. I choose to remember when his sexual ambiguity was still finely tuned and not a bane to his character. When the moonwalk was silky and left us in a trance. Let's just take this moment to search our souls for anything that resembles the admiration that lil' Carlton expresses upon bumping into his doppleganger.



Have a great holiday weekend.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Games of the XXIX Olympiad


The Olympics are again upon us, and as a staunch proponent of human achievement, I'm fully on board. I love the flippin' and jabbin' and everything that goes along with the wide variety of events that are on display. My only regret is that I don't make the effort to tune in at 3 a.m. when people are shooting stuff and getting judo chopped.

I haven't done a lot of research about the Olympic games, but I'm sure that at the conception of it they were primarily created as a chance for people to demonstrate some sort of survival/combat skill when there was no particular reason to kill anyone at the time. There are probably a few exceptions, but for the most part you're attacking someone or getting attacked. Fencing is my favorite example. It sort of forces the loser to think, "Man, I wouldn't want that to happen to me for real."

I like to speculate about what certain events could possibly be simulating. Archery and other shooting events are clearly representing some sort of deadly prowess, but what's with the watery hurdles in the steeplechase? It's like, "We don't want you to develop the same kind of rhythm you would in regular hurdles, we almost want you to forget there are hurdles at all until WHAP....SPLOOSH!" It makes me think of fleeing from a crime through a bunch of people's yards.

Seinfeld says it best.
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Ridiculous Photoshop medley...

"Oooh, I want a $5 footlong!"

"I bit my tongue."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Get a Room

If there is one gripe I have about our neighborhood it would probably be the loose attitude toward public displays of varmint affection. These teenage squirrels get all juiced up on hormones and all discretion goes straight out the window. I'll tell you right now that the video you're about to see may shock you. You may find this to be adorable or you may think it is absolutely horrible. You may span the entire spectrum of emotion several times in just one viewing. Whatever the case, you'll be changed forever...or you'll again wish you had your two minutes back.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Precious Paparazzi Pix

It was a cool, overcast Wednesday night a couple months ago when our co-ed crew of volleyball warriors was assembled around a picnic table rating our most recent performance and sizing up other teams in the B bracket, when I realized that I was in the presence of someone special.

Had no one else seen him yet? Surely people recognized him, I mean he's been in a lot of movies...movies that target the exact demographic that this area is crawling with. Whatever the case, it was clear that the important thing was to settle down, shake off the excitement, and snap a couple of hot pixxx.

Part ninja, part paparazzo, I pretended to fiddle with a friends camera as if to be thinking, "Huh, pretty cool camera. Lemme check out summa these sweet features." But under that dopey appearance I was as focused and intense as a laser beam as I framed up my subject with the cunning and poise one would expect from a TMZ assassin.

What did I end up with? A couple of mediocre pictures of a guy that my friends and I kinda think looks like Will Ferrell. I wonder if he drives a Dodge Stratus.

Stay classy San Diego.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Shut Up and Dance

The other day I started writing this impassioned post about the home run derby that I just watched on tv, the thrust of it being that one of my favorite players won it and nobody gave a crap. Basically just taking it altogether too seriously.

Meh. Aren't you glad I didn't finish it?

Instead of getting wrapped around the axle with all of that, I figured I should stick with what I do best.

Dance.


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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Saturday (Friday) in the Park

With a couple of days off work, I was invited to take part in one of Jodi and Maura's favorite activities; a stroll at Irvine Park. They saw it as an opportunity to stretch their legs and mark out a good pace while I felt the time would be better spent farting around with our camera with the intention of producing another slice of cinematic gold for the Lair.

Truth be told, I probably got the best workout as I hopped from benches to rocks, sprinting ahead and up hills to get the shots you deserve. I think you'll be glad that I demanded everything and compromised nothing in the creation of this summer blockbuster. Actually, I think you'll probably wish there was some way I could refund the three minutes you spent watching it.


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Friday, July 4, 2008

Fireworks and Complete Jerks

Today is a holiday that may remind you to pledge allegiance to our country, and with this opportunity I would like to pledge to you that I will continue to bring you the finest, most exclusive stories you'll find on the internet. This is not one of those stories, however, this is but a promise.

I would also like to give a couple of birthday shouts to a couple of brothers from altogether different mothers (different from each other's and different from mine). Happy birthday to Superchad and happy birthday to the sensei of the Brandodojo.

Go me. It's muh birfday.


Superchad is getting a little anxious as his visit with Santa is growing ever stale.


Enjoy the holiday.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Kickball; the Sport of Kings

The other day I was invited to fill in on a kickball team. Supposedly a bunch of the regular players couldn't make it, but I think the real reason is that they had been told that kickball had been cancelled, so that superior players like myself could jump into the roster and hit the field running.

I knew it was gonna be fun, but I also knew we faced extreme odds fielding a team of only six players. Fortunately, this was a hand-picked, elite squad of kicking fury, so needless to say we weren't scurred.

We steadily drove in runs through the first few innings by playing smart, fundamental kickball...driving it at the girls who looked like they didn't want to muss their hair (did I mention this is co-ed kickball?). The following video is a perfect example of how I personally overcame adversity at a pivotal moment in the game.

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But alas, all of our steam was released as our defense faltered and our muscles stiffened. The opposing team of buzzed-up thirty-somethings found a way to manufacture runs late in the affair to overtake our game-long lead. Despite a tough loss, our patchwork band of warriors exited the arena with heads held high, pleased with the display of sportsmanship, integrity, and self-respect.

Monday, June 9, 2008

On a Mission for Free Fishin'

Was the mission successful? I'll get to that in a moment. What's far more worthy of mention is the visit we were paid by a certain beautiful Iowan couple. Brando and Kimbo. We had much to catch up on, so we got right to it...and talked ourselves hoarse.


Burning $600 worth of gasoline tends to leave a traveler weary, so the men grunted around a fire with booze on ice while the ladies caught up on all the latest needlepoint techniques and Riunites...so nice.







There were also gifts delivered straight off the assembly line of Brandodojo craft brewery...



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We had the first taste of Honey Wheat.


Now for the big fish story you've all been waiting for. We shook off a couple of junior varsity hangovers and got our shows on the road at the crack of 10:30. We packed up our deadliest tackle, listened to some attempted discouragement from my neighbor as we loaded up the canoe, and headed to Bloomer.


I have eaten many pies from the fabled Main Street Cafe, but I had never actually taken the pilgrimage to this mecca of wholesomeness. I took advantage of the "special" for a scant $1.99 while my counterpart ordered something that was called like the Lumberjammer or the Farmhand...or the Beekeeper. At any rate, it was like a special with bacon.



Then pie.


Much as we could've drank coffees and rotted away in there all day, we knew there were fish to slay. So we pushed on to Marsh-Miller Lake, home of beer-flavored marshmallows. We got the canoe off the car and avoided disaster as we launched onto the fish-impregnated waters. The hours wore on as we continued our assault on the lake. Surely a fish would bite...surely they know the arrangement. But much to our chagrin, the only thing we took from Marsh-Miller were the memories of a special canoe ride and brutal sunburn. No big whoop, we had plenty of food at home that was more than fit for consumption.




Here we are, talking it out over a couple of beers at the local resort. "Fishing doesn't make the man." we assured each other.




And of course, there was Maura time.






The End.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Pleasant Temps with Scattered Gunfire



The weather this weekend was spectacular and I tried to be ready to make use of it, so bright and early Saturday morning my home-skillet Scott and myself hit the rifle range.




He had just acquired a deadly Browning A-bolt .22 (sadly no picture) and still had the itch to shoot it, and I just wanted to squeeze a few through my trusty Ruger 10-22.




I didn't test myself this time...just sort of plinked away at a high rate. Before we left though, I stuck a target to the 50 yard marker and carefully directed 10 rounds at it.


Not terrible I guess.


Sunday we hit the geocache scene in Eau Claire and did a little treasure hunting. It was a beautiful day for a little exercise and photography, and Punky-Wunks was as well-behaved as we could've reasonably hoped for. I'll take a weekend like that any day of the week.