Friday, December 18, 2009

Two Gopher Brothers In A Van...

Just got the word that the project I did with Brian Henson in November is going to make its debut on PBS KIDS GO on January 11th.

However, there's a preview site up now. It's right here.

We used the HDPS system and had a lot of fun. I'm Ditch...the gopher in the green shirt. Brian Henson is Wilson.

Okay then...

Got a deadline today for two projects after which I shall blog and have an award for Keeper and generally catch up.



Monday, December 14, 2009

Tuesday, December 15th - 10am PST

A doctors appointment? A visit with a tax attorney? No. No. No. No...

Tuesday, December 15th at approximately 10AM PST something super cool is going to happen. The first flight of the Boeing 787 aircraft. Better known as the Dreamliner.


Now, I know what you're thinking. "Paul! You haven't blogged in over two weeks! No explanation! No nothing! And now, you show up all high and mighty and wanna talk about a jet!?"

In my defense I've been super busy. I have three projects all due this Friday. Yes. It's true. I've been slaving away for weeks. My family hasn't seen me. (I'm here in the house, they just can't find me. My dogs haven't eaten. I haven't slept in over 3 weeks. All so I can put food on the table and see a smile on my daughter's face on Christmas. No, it's not much. Just a sock with cotton in it. I've painted a face on it. But it's all I can afford. The economy...you know.) So fine. Be cruel to me. Yell and scream! Hate me! HATE ME! I'm doing the best I can.

I just thought I'd point out that tomorrow will change the way we all fly. But fine. Be that way. Don't care that the 787 is made mostly of carbon composites which are lighter and require less fuel. Fine. I guess you don't like our planet. I hope you're happy when we all get warmer!

Anyway. I'm sorry. I'm tired. But tomorrow I'd like you to pause at 10am PST and think about this super neato airplane. Better yet...go to this website...

You can watch the whole flight live.

And if you don't want to...can you at least do it for America? Or are you too busy what with Christmas and all of that.

What if Abe Lincoln was too busy with Christmas and all of that to do important Lincoln stuff that Lincoln scholars think was super important?

Do me proud. Watch this...

I love all of you more than you deserve.

Paul

PS. There's a certain someone in Germany who asked for something a while back. I haven't forgotten.








Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Top Froynlaven Searches!

Yahoo recently announced the top web searches for 2009. Well, two can play that game. Really.

And so, I've decided to announce the top searches that brought people to the happy place of Froynlaven. I have a little thingy here that allows me to see what people were looking for when they wound up here. I can also see their social security numbers, all credit card information, parole reports, reading history, health records and pretty accurate life-expectancy graph.

All this information allows me to steal virtually everyone's identity and buy things for my daughter at American Girl. (I probably shouldn't be admitting any of this, but I promise I only take $100 per person. Never any more than that. Seriously. What's $100 dollars? Plus, things are pretty expensive at American Girl. There's this plastic horse that's like 120 bucks. And you should see how my daughter's face lights up when I give her all that fun doll stuff. When she's older I'll tell her I was only able to afford it all because I scammed Froynlaven readers out of money. But, let's not talk about any of that right now.)

And so, here are the top search words and phrases that brought people to Froynlaven. (Plus their money.)

1. "What is this nubby thing on my foot."

2. Pineapple+loose meat+airfare to Vermont

3. "Who is following me?"

4. "What is a meat bee?"

5. "This nubby thing on my foot is getting bigger."

6. recipes for yak.

8. "My foot is one big nub."

9. "How to spray paint a bird."

10. "My nub is growing eyes."

11. dogs+bottom scooting+odor

12. "My foot nub wants food."

13. "Where is Ireland?"

14. "How to kill a demonic foot nub."





Monday, November 30, 2009

Bloggidy Blog Blog

Yeah, I know. I haven't been hear in a while. But I have a very good excuse. I do.

My dog ate my computer. He did! I woke up and there he was eating the computer. I was sooo mad at him. I said, "Bad dog! Now I can't blog! Bad, bad dog! You BAD dog!"

He then lunged at me at tore into my neck! He ruptured one of those important arteries that are important.

I staggered backwards and fell off the back porch balcony. I passed out. While passed out the gardeners (who I am soooo mad at) came to mow the lawn. They didn't even try to help me! They mowed over my hand and caused my typing fingers to become detached from where they normally are. I awoke to see my dog eating them. I was sooo mad!

I said, "Bad dog! Bad, bad dog! Daddy needs those to blog!!!!"

I chased him across the yard to get my fingers back and hit my head on a tree branch and punctured my eyes . I stomped around in a blind rage! "I can't blog without eyes, fingers or a computer! I am soooo mad!"

I stumbled into a deep crevasse and fell hundreds of feet into a goblin town. There I was held prisoner and given only mineral water and Ak Mak to eat for 18 days.

The head goblin, Kipsy, was rude and cussed quite a bit.

Finally, a kindly goblin named Thweel, gave me a map and a key to escape. When I finally got out I was in China! I had fallen so far into the crevasse that I had gone almost clear through the earth.

Once in China, XinXin, a friendly farmer, gave me a salve made from ginger root that cured my punctured eyes and grew my fingers back.

My wife wired me the money for a flight home. When I arrived back home, my dog had felt sooo bad about being a bad, bad, dog that he bought me a new computer with money from his commercial work for Alpo.

Anyway, long story short...

I'm fine now.

Paul

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ALIVE. SWOLLEN HAND.

Okay.

Been gone.

Been doing puppety things for cool new show at Henson on HDPS system.

Long days.

Had fun.

Hand sorta swollen.

Going to sleep now.

Will be more coherent soon.

Bye.

Paul




Tuesday, October 27, 2009

GOT MY COSTUME

JUST A LITTLE MORE HALLOWEEN HELP

Yikes! So close to our halloween office party and I'm still not sure what do go as. Thanks for some of your suggestions, but I'm still torn. I've gone ahead and used photoshop to put my head in the following costumes. Lemme know. Time is running out!











Monday, October 26, 2009

HALLOWEEN HELP!!!!

This happens every year! I did it again. Here it is the week before Halloween and I don't have my costume for our office party. Anyway...listen...if ya'll wouldn't mind...take a look at the following costumes and let me know which one you like best. I've narrowed it down to my favorites.















Friday, October 23, 2009

"Hello, Ladies And Gentlemen, This Is The Captain And..."

"Unfortunately, I've been arguing with co-pilot for the last hour and...well...the funny thing is...ha ha ha...we're 200 miles from where we're supposed to be. But we're going to turn around now and go back. So sit back, relax and enjoy some of the fine food we don't carry on board anymore."

Okay, Froynlaven readers. So, yesterday's blog about the balloon boy was a bit of a bummer. That won't happen again. Only happiness and joy here. Which is why I'm pleased as punch to talk about another true story that will make you smile and never fly again.

This happened just a few days ago. And here it is: A Northwest Airlines jet was flying from San Diego to Minneapolis. I'm not a geography expert but Minneapolis is somewhere in the middle of the country but higher up towards Canada...or Russia. I'll find out. I know it's not near Florida.

Anyway, it seems as the jet approached Minneapolis, the air traffic controllers tried to call them on the radio to tell them important information like..."Hi. This is Minneapolis. We're down here. You should land...especially since this is where you're supposed to be."

But, it turns out. The pilots didn't respond. It continued to fly over Minneapolis at 37,000 feet. The air traffic controllers kinda get nervous when stuff like that happens. So they contacted the air force and put fighter jets on stand by in case there was a problem. Like a hijacking or something. You know. That sort of thing.

Well...a long time went by. And air traffic control suddenly got a call from the Northwest Plane. Seems they had been busy and totally forgot where they were going. The plane turned around and landed. An hour late. But mistakes happen. The pilots said they had been having a heated discussion and totally lost track of time....AND...where they were. Again. This is totally understandable.

I have a friend who works at the NTSB and he's managed to get me the audio recording of the cockpit voice recorder. Here it is...

CAPTAIN: "You're an idiot, Frank. Superman is indestructible. Got it?"

CO-PILOT: "Batman could do it!"

CAPTAIN: "Get your head out of your butt! How? How could Batman hurt Superman? Seriously. How?"

CO-PILOT: "Well, I'm not exactly sure. But he's got all that stuff. He's way smarter than Superman. So he'd come up with a plan."

CAPTAIN: " A PLAN?!!! See! That's what I'm saying! You're not telling me anything. A plan! HOW? WHAT'S THE PLAN! Think it through! You can't! And you know why? BECAUSE HE COULDN'T DO IT!

CO-PILOT: "No. No. He could do it. It would be a trap or something."

CAPTAIN: "Are you listening to yourself, Phil? Are you? Are you seriously listening to yourself. Because I am. And all I'm hearing is a bunch of crap! How the hell is Batman gonna beat Superman?"

CO-PILOT: "Okay. Fine. Kryptonite. He'd put it in a little box and and spring it on Superman at the last minute."

CAPTAIN: "Kryptonite. Again with the Kryptonite! I told you, Phil. No Kryptonite. This is theoretical. I said, how could Batman hurt Superman WITHOUT KRYPTONITE. That's how we started this whole thing. I said NO KRYPTONITE.

CO-PILOT: "You did?"

CAPTAIN: "I did."

CO-PILOT: "I didn't hear that."

CAPTAIN: "Obviously. So. Without Kryptonite, how the hell is Batman gonna hurt Superman?"

CO-PILOT: A trap."

CAPTAIN: "YOU'RE SAYING TRAP AGAIN BUT YOUR NOT TELLING ME HOW HE..."

[Cockpit door opens.]

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: "Excuse me, Captain. One of the passengers said we flew over Minneapolis an hour ago."

CAPTAIN: "Really?"

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: "I think so."

CAPTAIN: "Hmmm. That's not gonna look good."

CO-PILOT: "Go tell him he's mistaken."

CAPTAIN: "Good idea."

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: "I tried that already. But he says he's the mayor and he knows what it looks like."

CAPTAIN: "Shoot. Okay. Uhm. I know. Okay. Tell the passengers we flew through an interdimensionary time warp."

CO-PILOT: "That's how Batman would do it."

CAPTAIN: "Do what?"

CO-PILOT: Trap Superman. An interdimensionary time warp."

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: "We should probably turn around."

CAPTAIN: "How is Batman gonna create a time warp?"

CO-PILOT: He doesn't have to. Alfred would do it.

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: "Because we're almost in Michigan. And we're supposed to go to Minneapolis. And that's where the passengers kinda planned on going."

CAPTAIN: "But Alfred would have to be super smart to think of something like that."

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: "We're out of peanuts, too."

CO-PILOT: "He is super smart!"

CAPTAIN: "Yeah. Well, Phil. You got me."

CO-PILOT: "HAAA! YES!"

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: "I think I see Canada."










Thursday, October 22, 2009

I REFUSE TO BELIEVE

And what I refuse to believe is all of this stuff about the Balloon Boy. I'm not going there. It's too painful. Here's what I've decided to believe because it's so much better my way. Don't try to talk me out of it. I'm not budging on this. So here goes...

I'm choosing to believe that there is this totally cool family who chase storms and stuff. The super cool dad is a crazy scientist who builds all sorts of contraptions. His kids are way into all that stuff. So is the mom who's also super cool.

I'm choosing to believe that he built a space ship balloon because he likes to invent stuff. I'm choosing to believe his youngest boy accidentally let it loose and was sooooo upset about what he had done that he hid in the attic.

I'm choosing to believe all that because it's so American and cool and old fashioned and fits in perfectly with 200 years of crazy folks who have made this country what it is...was.... or something. I'm choosing to believe this because it's so much better than the painful truth: That somebody wanted to be so famous and on a reality TV show that they put the country through 2 hours of collective hell.

I''ve said it before and I'll say it again. Paddy Chayefsky was a prophet. Watch the movie NETWORK. That's your homework.

Five years ago we yanked the cable in disgust. It's been fine.

I don't know who anyone is anymore. But that's fine, too.

Anyway, no matter what you hear about the whole Balloon Boy thing. Don't tell me. I'm gonna believe it my way.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A BLOG ABOUT THE TIME THIS ONE THING HAPPENED AND I'M GOING TO BLOG ABOUT IT

I think it was Winston Churchill who once said something. And he was right! Something similar happened to me in Melbourne a few years back when I was performing at the Comedy Festival in the Henson Company's Puppet Up. None of that is really important, but it makes me sound as if I've done interesting things. That also isn't important, but I'm feeling fragile today and like reading that I've been to Melbourne. This also isn't important. Frankly, the only things you really need to take from this paragraph are the following:

1. That Winston Churchill said something.

2. What he said is similar to something that happened to me.

3. It was at a Chinese restaurant.

Paragraph Nazis will no doubt point out that I never mentioned anything about a Chinese restaurant in the first paragraph and therefor can't be included in a summation of important points to remember about the paragraph. Ha! I was utilizing the French literary technique known as P├Ęte trop nombreuses. It's super French and used by people who quote Churchill.

Anyway, there we were sitting in the Chinese restaurant. They had chairs so this was easily accomplished. I excused myself and asked where the restroom was. (By the way, in Australia they don't call it the restroom. They call it the toilet. However, I could never bring myself to ask where the toilet was. It just seems so. You know. Restroom sounds so much better and clean and not so poopy. Restroom sounds like a place where I could potentially go to rest and freshen my face with a towel.)

Once inside the restroom...for that is what I will call it...I came face to face with the oldest air-blown hand dryer in the entire world. In fact, this could have been the very first one. I'm sure of it.

I'm sure of it because of the instructions. And, as nearly as I can recall, here they are.

This is the Dyna-Dry 5200. Do not be worried or leave. This device will make your hands devoid of moisture by using air and hot heat. Do not be alarmed by the sound of air or the hot heat. This is normal. Use the device to dry your hands ONLY. Drying anything else that is damp is potentially dangerous and embarrassing. To activate the Dyna-Dry 5200 place your feet on the rubber grounding pad. Failure to ground your feet properly could lead to death. Detach all metal such as rings, watches and bracelets from your person before proceeding. Make sure your hands are sufficiently moist before using the Dyna-Dry 5200. Hands not sufficiently moist could be burned. Horribly. Use the attached safety goggles before activating the Dyna-Dry 5200. Failure to use the safety goggles could lead to eyeball discomfort such as blurred visions, blindness or retinal melting. Wear the lead vest (not provided at all locations) over your chest by binding the cross strap at the nexus between your abdomen and clavicle. Now you're ready to experience the finest in hand drying without a towel. Note the two large buttons at the top of the Dyna-Dry 5200. The large green button in labeled START. The orange button is labeled SUMMON HELP. While using the Dyna-Dry 5200, it is wise to keep at least one finger within pushing distance of the SUMMON HELP button. If, during the drying process, you feel extreme discomfort and are unable to press the SUMMON HELP button, simply drop to your knees, grab the thermal blanket and begin the roll-over maneuver. Once the fire is out, simply crawl out of the room while keeping your head away from the smoke. Enjoy the Dyna-5200. Another quality product from the Perth Munitions Company.

So, there it is. Churchill was right.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

4TH GRADE SOCIAL STUDIES REVIEW NOTES

Apologies to readers of my blog. I'm afraid it's been hijacked for today. My daughter is responsible for providing the Social Studies test notes for her study group and, since she doesn't have an email, this is the only way for the other kids to get the info. It's someone else's job next week, so we shouldn't have to ever do this again.

Sorry...

4TH GRAIDE STUDIE NOTES FOR TEST ON SOCIAL STUDIES CHAPTER 5 - 6

1. ARCHEOLOGISTS - Okay, so like these guys like, dig stuff up and it's mostly really old because the people that used them were super old dead people and the archeologists can find out about how the dead people lived because they get paid to do that. An example of something the dead people used is a rock with a chip in it. This was used, to like, saw the meats off of an animal and then get eaten or worn like a coat.

2. THE GIGNER-BOSE SCALE - Okay, so like there was this guy Mr. Gigner and he got together with his friend Mr. Bose and they came up with this idea which basically is a way to do things which helps us today to understand that kind of stuff because before people used to have to do that sort of thing differently or even figure it out in their heads or just guess. But now, no.

3. TRIBE - Okay like, a tribe is a group of people who all like the same sorta thing and they kill other people who don't. An example of this would be two groups.

4. PLAINS - Like, these are really boring flat places where buffalo and native Americans used to live but now they don't because Europeans ruined everything and should have stayed in Europe with other Europeans.

5. STRAIT - See, like a long time ago there was this strait which is sorta like a bridge kinda things and people walked on it from Chinese all the way to America. But it's gone now because of global warming, oil companies and long time ago humans.

6. CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS - This totally evil guy who ruined everything because he only thought of himself and not others and was totally evil and who made it so that ever since he came things here have really gone down hill and he should have stayed in Europe and been like, a shoe maker or something like that. He killed a lot of people.

7. NORTH AMERICA - A place that used to be a good place to live back when there weren't any people living here.

8. CARTOGRAPHER - So, like these people make coffee in an old fashioned way which includes sticks.

9. CALIFORNIA - The largest place on the west coast. Europeans stole it from Mexico by doing a trick with bears and that's unfair. California has many things including dirt, celery, wine and artisenal bread.

10. THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS - Big mountains that are huge and enormous and rocky and somewhere in America. Over time global warming will make them explode and kill all young children no matter where they live. This could happen in like, five years unless humans stop having gas.

11. PUBLIC OPTION - Only mean people who want everyone to die don't like this. It is a good idea and makes good sense for all sorts of reasons. It is totally fair to kick people who feel this way.

ESSAY QUESTION (BE PREPARED TO ANSWER THE FOLLOWING)

A. How will human beings eventually cause the sky to catch on fire and kill all young children no matter where they live?




Tuesday, October 13, 2009

AIR FORCE ONE AND ME

We've established...I think...that I'm sort of an aviation junkie. If I haven't then I'll correct that right now.

I'm an aviation junkie.

I think we've also established that I'm afraid to fly. If I haven't I'll also correct that right now.

I'm afraid to fly.

Which is why Saturday night was super neato. I got to go into a really spiffy jet which was not going to go up into the sky where spooky, icky, scary things are. For once I could enjoy being in a jet and not ask for someone to knock me out.

The jet was Air Force One which is on permanent display at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley. It was Ronald Reagan's Air Force One which is why it's at the Reagan Library and not at the Clinton Library. I'm not sure if Bill Clinton has a library. Maybe someone could look it up. I'd do it, but with things being so busy and crazy right now, I just don't have the time. Sure I could have googled it in the time it took to type this sentence. But I have something more important to do.

And that important something is to show you this picture...



This is a picture of my wife and I as we entered Air Force One. Actually, that's not my wife's head. She has requested to remain anonymous so I have replaced her with Herve Villechaiz.

You probably can't tell, but I'm super excited to go into Air Force One. I love jets. We've established that. We have, right?

I don't normally go around in a suit but we were at the Reagan Library for a fundraising dinner for the Pregnancy Counseling Center of Mission Hills. (Which is a super cool organization that helps women in crisis pregnancies to keep their babies by providing all sorts of great resources.)

Anyway, guests of this fundraiser got to walk around the library for free before dinner. Part of that walk included Air Force One. In my case, I ran. I ran to Air Force One. My wife said to slow down. But I didn't. Cuz I like planes. We've established that. Read the first sentence.

There also happened to be another event that night. I don't know what it was...but the people at that event were super important. More important than us. My wife and I were mistaken for those more important people. Perhaps it was my blue tie. I don't know.

Once inside Air Force One, and mistaken for these more important people, we were then invited to sit in the cockpit. I was all gooey and said something like, "Really? We can? Wow. Seriously?" I think I started to cry. Which leads to my second picture


I'm in the captain seat. My wife is in the co-pilot's seat. Again, that's not my wife's head. I've replaced it with Herve Villechaize because she doesn't want her picture on the web thing.

I wanted to sit in the cockpit forever, press all the buttons and make engine noises. I would have unless we didn't had to go to the dinner. In fact, I think I told my wife to go to the dinner and come back when it was over. She didn't like this idea. Before we left the cockpit I kissed the wheely thing.

As we made our way through Air Force One, we were treated better than other people. Because, if I haven't made this clear, we were mistaken for being important people from the other event.

Now, I've done this tour before. It's a great tour. But there are few velvet ropes keeping you from stepping into certain rooms. Like the cockpit. And...Reagan's personal office. However, as we approached that section of the plane, the rope was removed and I was bid welcome to sit in President Reagan's chair at his desk. Which leads me to the last photo.


This is me. I put Herve Villechaize's head there just because.

This is where Ronald Reagan sat and did Ronald Reagan things. And had my wife and I not been mistaken for being more important than we are, I never would have gotten that chance to sit here.

So, if you ever go to the Reagan Museum and want to sit in the cockpit, wear a suit and a tie and look like you're important. Don't bring Herve Villechaaize because he's dead and that would be awkward.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Let's Catch Up...

So, here I promised to Blog a lot when summer ended and I blew it! I blew it! No other way to put it. Well, there is...but I'm not going to.

Firstly...I think Keeper's Musical Challenge was AMAZING. So, I don't care what anyone else says...he wins the prizes. And something else. I'll tell you next week what that is. (They're handing out Nobel Prizes like candy these days, so maybe I'll get him one of those.)

But enough of anything remotely political. This is a happy place.

Anyway, my plans to blog were obliterated by a script assignment which I just finished. There's also a pilot I sold along with a friend to "another network". Been working on that all summer and I hope to be able to say yummy things about it in November. I think you'd like it.

Starting Monday however, I'll go back to the old ways of blogging. We'll have music and video and prizes and clowns and other things.

Okay then...

Monday. Prizes. Clowns. Music. Video. And a poem from my dog, Lucky. Also we'll speak some Spanish. We'll learn how to cook some Cuban meals. We'll check in with Chuck Melville and see what's coming up at 11...






Monday, October 5, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

FINALLY! FINALLY! A CHALLENGE FOR KEEPER!!!!

This man is Keeper.

I have waited MONTHS to write this. MONTHS! Do you hear me? MONTHS!

Thanks to someone in Germany who is the FIRST...let me repeat...the FIRST person to email me with a musical stumper for Keeper.

For those of you new to this blog, Keeper has agreed submit to musical challenges submitted by Froynlaven readers. But none of you ever submitted anything. I don't know why. I couldn't have made it easier. To the right you'll see an email where to send said challenges. It has never been used. Ever. By no one.

THAT IS...until this week. I got an email from someone in Germany. Yes. Germany. I guess they care over there. So thank you, Germany. All of you. (Or at least one of you.)

So here's Keeper's Musical Challenge. It's a doosy. And I'm giving Keeper until Monday, October 5th. If Keeper succeeds in the challenge (as voted by Froynlaven readers) he will receive a slightly-used copy of Nancy Drew Mad Libs.


So, Keeper. Here it is the challenge submitted from Germany:

You are to sing the themesong to Animamiacs in as many different languages as possible. I don't mean you have to sing the themesong many different times. No. You are to sing the themesong once while incorporating as many different languages as possible. Perhaps the first verse in Dutch. The second in Spanish. You get the idea.

Now, I realize this is hard. But you are Keeper and we are not. Upon successful completion of said task...I am prepared to sweeten the deal with these incredible prizes:
This never eaten York Peppermint Patty.

And this...


Key ring I found in our dry, dead grass.

So, there it is Keeper. We look forward to hearing from you...



Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Lost Poems Of Maya Angelou



I can't get enough of poetry. Man, oh man! I love it! I do! I love poetry so much I wish I could marry it. But I'm already married. I love poetry so much I wish I could buy it a steak dinner. Poetry is so wordy and stuff like that. I love stuff like that. (Which is why I love poetry.)

I love poetry so much I wish I could go to Disneyland with it and ride the Matterhorn. We'd scream and laugh and then stand in line for another ride. Me and poetry. After a long day of fun, we'd drive back home. Poetry would fall asleep in the car while holding the balloon I bought it.

WHICH IS WHY...

I'm so happy I found a small book in my backyard as I was not watering. We're not allowed to water here in Southern California because we're in a drought. We're allowed to play with the hose and stuff, we just can't turn it on. It's fun to hear the dead grass crunch under your feet.

So there I was, not watering and crunching dead grass, when I spotted a small journal. I don't know how long it's been there, but it must have been years. The grass was too green and lush and alive for me to see it. But not anymore. Thank goodness for crunchy, dead grass!

The book was dirty. I don't mean dirty as in naughty. I mean it had dirt on it. And dead grass.

I opened it up and to my surprise it said, "Property of Maya Angelou." (I don't mean that the book spoke those words. It was written there.)

Inside were a bunch of hand-written poems. I don't know how many Maya Angelous there are out there. But I think these were written by THE Maya Angelou. I can't prove it. I'm just saying...

So, I read a few of the poems and thought I'd share some of them with you. Here they are. See if you can spot a theme...

THE ROAD

Weeping mournfully I uttered nothing
Lips pursed in quiet silence trickled
The man in the hat
The man in the hat
Greeting muted passings on the long long road
Meaning
Meaning
Running clippingly as fresh baked yams mocked gleefully
Meaning
Meaning
Strong were the words of solitude
Anger at their mention
Hatred like a doo doo.
Meaning
Meaning



INTO NOTHING

Corn knows no other way
It cannot grab with fleshy paws
It cannot sing the song of the perennial
Corn knows no other way
Corn knows no other
Corn knows no
Corn knows
Corn
Cor
Co
C
Doo doo


HELVECTOR ENVONSO

June bug, crackerteeth and crow
Why?
He devised his own
Out of his own
June bug!
The long shadows weeping iridescent globules while their own voices shattered and rambled but un-noisily, un-willingly, un-applogetically, un-to and un-der the OTHERS who themselves sat lazily and doo doo.







Tuesday, September 8, 2009

SIX YEARS WITH VANNY






The Ruggs were one of the first families in all of Las Vegas to get an AMC Pacer. It broke down as my sister drove it off the lot. That should have told us something. Regardless, we loved that car. We loved that car because it was weird and different. We were weird and different.

Since that time I had always searched for a car that was weird and different. I spent many years with normal cars. Six years ago my search for weird and different ended and at last I found contentment.

For many years I had flirted with the idea of a VW Eurovan with a pop-top roof that became a bed. But why did I need one? I didn't. I didn't camp. I wasn't a hiker. I had a home with a bed. I also didn't need the little table and tiny refrigerator that came with the Eurovan. We had a large table in the house. We also had a refrigerator. For years I fought my desire to own a Eurovan Weekender.

But six years ago I heard devastating news. Volkswagen was discontinuing the Eurovan. The last model year would be 2003. After that...the Eurovan would be no more. Well...that's all I needed to hear. I would get a Eurovan. I told my wife that it would be a good idea because we could sleep in it if there was ever a devastating earthquake. She didn't buy it. But she was also tired of having me talk about Eurovans. I wore her down.

And so, six years ago...I drove my brand new Eurovan off the lot. I waited for it to break down. That would be fitting. It didn't. It never has. And...I love that car.

I love that my daughter likes to do her homework in it. I love that when her friends come over she asks me to pop the roof. I love that Germans are so smart. I love that it's so impractical. I love that people sitting in the back have to face each other. I love that Germans are so smart. I love that, in those rare moments when we spot another Eurovan on the highway, we wave at each other. We wave because we know we are both weird and different.

I don't love that my Eurovan only like 91 octane gas. I don't love that it is less than fuel efficient. But...we make up for it with our other boring car. Boy is it boring!

So, Vanny...thanks for six years of fun. Thanks for being German. Thanks for having no more than three buttons. Thanks for having a pop-top bed. Thanks for having a little table. Thanks for being weird and different.




Thursday, September 3, 2009

FINALLY! A POLITICAL FAMILY I CAN RESPECT!!!




My hat's off to the people of Japan! Are you listening NORWAY? Heck, are you listening everyone else in the world? Are you listening old-school, political dynasties?

Well...move over!

There's a new political force in the world! And I for one, plan to revere them. I might even move to Japan. I have to talk it over with my wife and stuff and figure out what to do with the dogs. But I'm thinking about it. And what I say goes! Most of the time. Occasionally, anyway. Maybe not that often. But sometimes what I say goes!

I better slow down a bit. But I'm so excited and in awe and excited and in awe and stuff that I need to remind myself to breathe.

Last week, the people of Japan elected a new Prime Minister. His name is Yukio Hatoyama. He's gonna clean up their mess over there. I don't know much about their mess, but evidently it's a real mess. I could research it but with things being so hectic and crazy and stuff, there's not a lot of time. Just know, they have a mess and Yukio Hatoyama is gonna kick ass cleaning it up. Got it?

But, that's not the best part. The best part is his wife. Here's here picture. I've blown it up and made it bigger because I think she's AWESOME! Here's her picture!



Now here's the same picture, except it's just of her left eye.


I kinda hoped that would have been bigger. But, who cares. That's not the point. The point is that the new first lady of Japan is someone I CAN RESPECT. AND I SHALL! ALWAYS!

Her name is MIYUKI HATOYAMA. And she has traveled to the planet Venus!

At last! Someone has the guts to admit to something like that.

She claims (and I have no reason to believe it's not true) that one night while she slept, her spirit rode on a triangular UFO and went to Venus. She said it was green and very lovely. Now some of you...you pathetic skeptics...might think it's not true. Especially since we know venus looks like this:


We know it looks like this because the Soviet Union sent a few probes to the surface of Venus back in the 70's. Most of the probes lasted a few minutes before tremendous heat and pressure made them all melty. So some of you STUPID SKEPTICS might say going to Venus isn't possible. You stupid, dumb skeptics make me sick. EVER THINK SHE MIGHT HAVE GONE THERE IN THE SPRING? HUH? THAT EVER OCCUR TO YOU DUMBHEADS!

She went to Venus! Okay! And Mark my words. As Miyuki Hatoyama becomes more popular and people start hearing the truth...and she becomes more popular, Michelle Obama is going to all of a sudden say she's been to Jupiter.

The people of Japan have made a very wise choice. This is an awesome lady.

Oh, and not only has she been to Venus. She's been abducted by aliens and she knew Tom Cruise in a past life when he was Japanese.

Here's a picture of her hair.





Wednesday, September 2, 2009

BACK TO SCHOOL


And so, dear friends, what's left of my brain is mine again. Today was the first day of school. The house is quiet and I am once again left to my own devices.

Shoot.

We spent the last week buying back-to-school supplies. It's unfortunate there are no back-to-work supplies.

Men in their 40s can't buy plastic pencil cases with their cool, plasticy smell. We can't buy a 24 pack of crayons with their cool, crayony smell. Well, we can, but people would talk.

Let's face it. Back-to-school supplies are neat. Pencils. Erasers. Binders. Folders. Rulers. Pens. It's all cool.

But we who are going back to work get nothing. Oh well.

Tell you the truth, I'd love to be going back to school. I'd love to have someone stand in front of me and tell me exactly what I needed to be doing.

"No, Paul. You can read the Drudge Report during recess. Now you need to be writing that scene. Sit up straight. Later on we're going to have a fireman come in and tell us about his work. Then we'll have nap time. Then we'll make things out of Ivory Soap. Then you can go home and play."

Ahhhh. If only...


Thursday, August 20, 2009

WE'RE CHANGING OUR LOOK!

That's right!

Beginning August 24th, Froynlaven will be NEW and IMPROVED! Many things will be different! (Sort of how teachers used to change the desks around at school. It felt super fun for a day! But then...obviously it wasn't because you were at school.)

I've spent months with researchers who research this sort of thing at research institutes where they research this and I must say I'm super excited.

The colors will be DIFFERENT. The menus will be DIFFERENT. The font will be DIFFERENT. All sorts of DIFFERENT things will be DIFFERENT.

Flinn Buttress, the researcher in charge of these changes put it this way: "Goodness! There will be all sorts of buttons to click on. Many of these buttons will do different things. Some won't. But we're working on that. We hope that they (people) will find the site to be filled with interconnectivity and yada yada blah blah and things that'll portal and allow users to yackity smackity while communicating in a new way and all that sort of thing. A family of birds lives in my mouth."*

SO! I'm super excited.

* Flinn Buttress was institutionalized shortly after these comments.



Monday, July 20, 2009

Does Anyone Know Paco De Portillo?

Because I need to reach him about the 500 million dollars he was supposed to ship to me from Bolivia. I don't want to go into the whole back story now. You can read that here.

It's been quite a fews days now and I haven't heard anything from Paco who was going ship me the money and needed my credit card so that I could pay for the shipping. It's all in coins.

I checked this morning and my card has been charged 25,000 dollars. However, the charge isn't from Bolivia. It's from Xinxong provice in China. I tried to call China this morning, but they weren't very helpful. Plus they only spoke Chinese.

It's curious. Why would the Chinese be involved in a shipment of 500 millions dollars worth of Bolivian coins? And where's Paco De Portillo?

I have no reason to believe there's anything wrong at this point and I'm not worried about the cost. 25,000 dollars is nothing compared to 500 million. Still, this seems a little unprofessional to me. Like something they'd do in Norway.

If anyone knows the whereabouts of Paco De Portillo, please pass along the information to me. I'd gladly cut you in on some of the money.

Thanks,

Paul

Saturday, July 18, 2009

WHY IS MOM CRYING?

That's the question my sister and I asked each other as we sat in a darkened movie theater one summer afternoon in the mid 1970s.

We were at the movie theater at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. That theater was super cool. It's gone now. Bummer. The theater didn't have seats, but thick, leather couches. In front of each couch was a table with a button on the side. That was nifty. You'd press the button and a cocktail waitress would take your drink order. (And bring you a Keno card.) So, if the movie was bad, you could always get hammered and play Keno. Cool.

The theater showed nothing but old MGM classics. (I really didn't care about those movies, but anything was better than being outside in the 110+ heat. Plus there were those buttons. Nifty. Did I mention they would bring you food, too? They did.)

So, my mom dragged my sister and I to the theater to see Meet Me In St. Louis. I don't really remember too much about the movie. I wasn't paying attention. I was too busy eating my corn dog and fries and washing it down with a yummy A&W root beer. Halfway through the movie I turned to ask my mom if I could press the amazing button again and have the waitress bring me another beverage. My mom was sobbing uncontrollably. I leaned over to my sister.

"Why is mom crying?"

She leaned over to mom. "Why are you crying?"

My mom leaned over. "It's just such a wonderful movie.

My sister and I looked up at the screen. There were a bunch of people carrying parasols and wearing flouncy dresses and drinking Sasparilla and singing. A wonderful movie? This was mediocre at best. And long. The desert heat had surely gotten to my mother.

As the movie continued to unspool, my mother continued to sob and wail. It was almost biblical. My sister and I worried that we'd have to call security and have her committed. We were young. We had never committed anyone before. Would there be forms to fill out? Should we bother my father at work or just commit her ourselves.

After the movie was over and the lights came up, my mother shot out of the couch and happily said, "That was wonderful! Who wants ice cream?"

Ice cream was a good idea. It would give us a chance to observe her before we called security. Plus, it's ice cream. Who's gonna say no to that...even in light of the possibility that my mother was criminally insane....let alone need special pants the rest of her life.

Seems mom was fine. However, my sister and I were puzzled. Why on earth would she cry during such a boring movie? Nobody even died. Nothing exploded. Nobody had to shoot their dog because of rabies. It was a musical for heaven's sake. They sang a big, boring song about Easter bonnets.

Flash forward many decades to last week.

My daughter and I were at Target. (Of course, this is before I learned that I was to get 500 million dollars.)

I saw the DVD of the 1966 movie The Trouble With Angels on a sales rack. I remembered that movie. I had two older sisters who had dragged me to it when it came out.

Always on the lookout for a safe movie for my daughter I bought it. We watched it that night.

Near the end of the movie my daughter turned to me and said, "Daddy? Why are your crying?"

WHAT? Oh no. I was crying. The Trouble With Angels is a comedy. I'm crying! I'm going to need special pants!

If you haven't seen The Trouble With Angels, you should. It's not a great movie. But it's good. Dang good. It's a movie that shows all amazing potential of the 1960s...and not the turd sandwich it turned out to be. The score by Jerry Goldsmith is great.

The movie is sweet, warm and innocent. It's also something else. Sincere. It may be the last sincere movie ever made. Plus there are cool Nuns. These are Nuns like I remember. Cool. And Neat. And Strong and nice.

Okay, mom.

I get it.


Friday, July 17, 2009

WHAT I'M GOING TO BUY NOW THAT I'M A MILLIONAIRE Part One

As most of you know, I'm about to come into quite a large sum of money. Like...500 million! Whooooya! Like that sum of money. I know. It's incredible. I'm waiting for confirmation that Paco De Portillo, an accountant in good standing in Bolivia, received my credit card info so he can ship it to me. But it shouldn't be too long.

My mind has been going crazy thinking about what I'm going to do with all that money. I've got some good ideas and thought I'd share them with you.

1. I'm going to pay the outstanding expenses the City Of Los Angeles incurred during the Michael Jackson funeral. I think this would show that I deserve to have a street named after me. There's a street I've been eyeing and it would be the perfect Rugg Avenue. Or boulevard. Or way. I think I like that the most. Rugg Way. It sorta says that I not only have a street named for me, but I sorta know the way. Cuz I'm a millionaire and important and the "way" I do things really are better than the way you do them.

2. I'm going to purchase Roberto Benigni.


Here's my thinking on buying Roberto Benigni. See, with all that money comes a lot of stress. And I know there are going to be days when so much is going on that I'm going to need a laugh. So I'll have Roberto come into the office and do something funny and Italian. Maybe something with a silly hat. Then, I'll send him away and get on with my important millionaire stuff.

3. An Oxo Olive and Cherry Pitter


When I was poor I had the time to pit cherries and olives. But now that I'm a millionaire...good bye to that horrible chore! This Oxo Olive and Cherry pitter will do the work for me. Actually, I'll have Roberto Benigni do it. But it'll be a breeze with this amazing device!

4. Thaw Walt Disney's Brain And Get That Man Back To Work!


I miss watching his show on Sunday night. And, to be honest with you, I think the company would be better with him back in the lead instead of those creepy pencil pushers running the company right now. I'm going to hire a team of doctors to thaw his brain, slap it in his body and get him going! If his body isn't around anymore I'll have them use Roberto Benigni's. We'll put Roberto's brain in a chimp or something.

5. Donate Al Sharpton To Norway


He's done so much good here. It's time he was given a long while to help the people of Norway with all their problems.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'M A MILLIONAIRE!

This has been an incredible morning!!! I am so much luckier than the rest of you right now...I just can't believe it. While you're all worrying about money and stuff like that...I'M NOT! Know why? Huh? Do ya? CUZ I'M A MILLIONAIRE! Ha ha!

I woke up this morning like I always do by waking up. What I do is I open my eyes and I'm up. I don't know how you guys do it, but that's how I've always done it. And now that I'm a millionaire, that's how I'm going to keep doing it. Being a millionaire means that I do things better than people who aren't.

So...there I am all waked up. I don't know if "waked up" is a proper way to say it, but I'm a millionaire so I guess it is. Cuz I'm wealthy. Ha.

Anyway, I'm all waked up and I go to check my emails. I do this in the morning a lot because someone might have emailed me something important during the night. This rarely happens, but it could. (And now that I'm a millionaire, I'm sure I'll get a lot of important emails during the middle of the night.)

So I had two emails. One from Vitamin Shoppe saying that I had a 20 dollar coupon. (Who needs that now?! Huh? Cuz I'm a millioniare! I could buy Vitamin Shoppe! Ha!) The other email was from someone named Paco De Portillo. I didn't recognize the name...but all I can say is...I'll NEVER, EVER forget it.

I copied the email. It was labeled URGENT. Here it is:

Dear You,

Forgive this email but the need to contact you has been urgent. Many phone calls have been planned, but only this way seems to work for reasons of security which you shall soon understand and appreciate. My name is Paco De Portillo. For 5 years I have been the person in charge of Jose Gustaffsen's estate. Mr. Gustaffsen is dead now for 5 years and his relatives have joined him there in that dead place. An amount of money equal to 500 million US Dollars are sitting in an account which I have access to. Because all are dead who could get the money, the money is not claimed and will be taken by the government of Bolivia before the end of day on a day like Thursday.

However, with your help, I can evacuate the money from a secret account into an account with places and other abilities to you. For serious. No hanky panky. I am a trusted business type human with many credentials to demonstrate how for serious and no hanky panky type things are up my sleeve. The urgency is made even more critical because I am dying of liver piece and want all issues resolved before my eyes close forever and permanently. Having no relatives of my own, there is no way money can be given this way.

You have come to my attention from someone whom you know but are not knowing about. Only I have known how they know you and they said you were full of trust and would do great works with such a sum.

Before my kidney piece kills my life, it would be beneficial for you so receive this money so that my eyes can close in peace without a worry that I have not done what was required by Mr. Gustaffsen.

Because the 500 million is all in coins, it is quite a heavy amount to put in an envelope. As I am near death I don't have enough to pay to ship it to you. But, if you could pay for the shipment, I could get you the money right away. Please reply to this email right away and provide me with your credit card I can begin the process.

Urgency is important and the kidney piece is not going to not be there.

Thank you for helping me.

Sincerely,

Paco De Portillo
Accountant In Good Standing In Bolivia

So,

There it is. I've already given him my credit info and I've just told some people I'm doing projects for to get lost! Who needs 'em! Ha ha ha ha!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Trouble With Lucky

I've been surrounded by dogs most of my life. During my high school years my family had four at one time. That's a lot of poop.

Since most every dog we had was a stray, they each came to our door with their own set of...issues.

Patsy, the first dog I remember us having, was particularly fond of one of my father's shoes. She thought it was her puppy and would carry it around. She'd also try to nurse it. It was super entertaining watching her trying to get this brown shoe to nurse. Sometimes it was more entertaining than watching TV. Come to think of it...this was the mid sixties. Most things were more entertaining than watching shows like My Mother The Car. Had I been older, I'd have pitched the networks a show called, My Puppy The Shoe. I bet they would have bought it.

Patsy lived a long life and went on to move from shoes to real puppies. Lots up puppies. She was quite the girl about town. Seems like every few months we were taking boxes of puppies to the pet shop.

Then, there was April. She was another stray. She was super sweet. She had super big ears. Super big ears that were constantly getting infected. You could just look at her ears and she'd yelp and run away.

Then there was Oscar. Oscar was my first dog. All mine. As far as dogs go, Oscar was nervous. Very nervous. Every time the door bell rang he'd pee. Every time there was a loud noise...he'd pee. Every time you touched him...he'd pee. Do anything and Oscar would pee. Stand still and he'd pee. Still...he was sweet. And somewhere up in Heaven St. Peter is cleaning up after him.

Next there was Daisy. Daisy was a Vizsla/Pit Bull mix. She was probably the sweetest dog I've ever known. And the dumbest. She was big and dumb and sweet and constantly had to be touching someone. She also drooled uncontrollably when anyone ate an orange. My family didn't like oranges that much but would buy them by the bushels just to watch big, dumb, Daisy drool.

There was Emily. Emily was my parents' dog. She was snooty and obnoxious. I knew I was in trouble when my father called her my sister. During the late 70s, she got more attention than I did. Had it been allowed, I'm sure my parents would have sent her to college while giving me bus fare to attend a local trade school.

Petey. Ahhh, Petey. Petey was the first dog my wife and I got. People used to tell us he was the ugliest dog they had ever laid eyes on. We didn't see it. To us...he was our baby. I got back at my parents by telling them he was their grandson and could kick Emily's butt.

My wife and I doted on that dog for many years. Then we had a real baby and realized Petey was ugly. Not just ugly. He was gross. He had an underbite that stretched out at least three feet. When he breathed it sounded like a possessed Hoover. Not the president. The vacuum. My baby daughter loved that dog and he lived long enough to love her, too.

After he died we sorta decided to not have any more dogs. That only lasted a few months. We were at the mall and saw they were having pet adoptions. We walked by one dog and stopped. He was one of the biggest dogs I had ever seen. He was laying down. Asleep. My daughter got on the ground and laid next to him. He let out a big sigh. This was the perfect Rugg dog. A big sleepy dog. A big sleepy dog with a head the size of a Honda. We took him home. And found out he wasn't so sleepy. He started running around in the back yard and playfully barreled into me. I landed hard on the ground. Then he started running toward my three year-old daughter. I picked her up just in time for us both to be knocked to the ground.

Worried that he'd cause havoc if I wasn't there to supervise, I started taking him to my office with me. Unfortunately, these 8 hour days together caused him to overly bond with me. After a few weeks he tried to take my wife's arm off when she tried to hug me. Honda Head had to go. The Adoption folks we got him from said I should take him to a dog psychic to see what was wrong. I didn't. I'm happy to say he was adopted by a family of giants.

We decided that was it with dogs. That lasted two weeks. We got a call from the pet adoption people that they had found the perfect dog for us. He was an eight week old, stray, border collie mix. He was missing his back foot. Why they thought that was the perfect dog for us is unknown. But that's the dog we have now. His name is Murphy. He's great...three working feet and all. As with most border collies...he's kinda vocal and bossy. Actually...he's way vocal and bossy.

And there...it was to remain. One, vocal and bossy dog. And one, vocal and bossy dog only.

Until last September. We were driving back from Mass one Sunday when my wife spotted a rat in the street. As we got closer she saw it was sort of a dog. An iddy biddy dog. She told me to stop the car. She got out and tried to coax the dog out the busy street. He must have known she was Cuban because he turned and ran away from her. She made me follow the dog in the car. We followed a few block and then I got out of the car. It must have known I'm of Swedish descent...because it ran right to me. Fleas were jumping off his back. Ribs were sticking out. I brought the dog to the car. It licked my nose. It licked my daughters nose. It licked my wife's nose. Our goal was to take it to a shelter. It looked like it had been on the street for months. Somewhere along the way, the plans changed and we took it home to give it a bath and some food and water. Then we would take it to the shelter. Then the plan changed again. I called the local shelter and reported that we had found the dog. They took my name and number and nobody ever called. The dog was ours. A miniature Chihuahua. A tiny, iddy biddy, teensy, weensy dog. A tiny, psychotic, teensy, weensy dog.

We named him Lucky. And he's bi-polar. He can lick you one moment and then tear into your skin with iddy biddy teeth. He'll come over to be petted and then attack you, grinding your fingers to pulp. You never know when he's about to attack. He's so tiny that you never hear him coming. One minute your sitting on the couch reading and the next there's a dog attached to your wrist.

Somehow fate has deemed it so.

I own Foamy The Freakadog.






Saturday, June 20, 2009

SUMMER IS UPON US

Which makes me think about the worst Christmas gift I ever got.

I'm not sure why I'm thinking about Christmas now, but I rarely live in the moment and usually spend most of my time looking forward to what's coming instead of what's actually here. I already enjoyed summer in April. It was nice.

Now then…

The worst Christmas gift I ever got came from the wife of one of my father's business associates. Heretofore, her gifts had always been...if not fantastic...at least, passable. Books. Pens. Stuff like that.

That all changed when I was twelve years old. Little did I know that the woman coming up the driveway with a bundle of packages was about to forever alter what I thought a bad gift could be. After her visit, and for the rest of my life, I can honestly say that I will never receive a gift as bad as the bad gift I got on that bad gift-giving day. In fact, you could give me dog poo in a baggy and I would still say it was better than that bad gift I got. Of course, if you were to give me a gift of dog poo in a baggy, I would hope there would at least be some clever card or something to explain why you were giving me a baggy of dog poo. But let's leave that aside because I'm getting queasy thinking about it.

Now then, the worst Christmas gift I was about to be given by that woman on that bad gift-giving day was:

PANTEEN SHAMPOO FOR DAMAGED HAIR

As everyone in my family opened their presents from this woman, I stared blankly at the plastic container of shampoo. I looked at it and read it over and over. Panteen Shampoo For Damaged Hair. Panteen. Shampoo. For. Damaged. Hair. Did I have damaged hair? I didn't think so. Maybe I did. But if anyone was going to give me Panteen Shampoo For Damaged Hair, it should be my parents. Quietly. In another room. Preferably in the presence of a doctor or a school counselor. This was not a Christmas gift. Shampoo is not a Christmas gift. It wasn't even Avon shampoo in a cool, racecar dispenser. That I could have lived with. I wouldn’t have liked it. But I wouldn’t have remembered it to this day.

The shampoo I had been given was clinical and scientific and no fun whatsoever. For heaven's sake, it was Panteen Shampoo For Damaged Hair!

As everyone in my family oogled at their gifts of transistor radios and Almond Roca, I ran into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I had a fine head of hair. I had a lot of hair. And not one strand was damaged.

I wanted to run back into the living room, thrust the plastic bottle at the woman and say, "What is the meaning of this?! Why have you given me Panteen Shampoo For Damaged Hair? What did I ever do to you?! This is an outrage! You don't give a 12 year-old boy Panteen Shampoo For Damaged Hair! You give them Robots and stuff! You give them things that need batteries! You give them footballs! You give them...anything! Anything but Panteen Shampoo For Damaged Hair!"

However, I was raised to be a polite child. (At least to persons who weren’t in my immediate family.) So, I went back to the living room with my bottle of shampoo and sat down. I tried to smile. Perhaps sensing that I was contemplating suicide, my mother asked to see what my gift was. I stood up, walked over and silently handed her the bottle. She looked at it and read, “Panteen Shampoo For Damaged Hair.” She looked over at the woman. “Isn’t that thoughtful.”

At first I was embarrassed that other members of my family had heard what I had been given, but then my mood brightened. In hearing my mother say, “Panteen Shampoo For Damaged Hair”, I knew this had to be a mistake. Who on earth gives Panteen Shampoo For Damaged Hair as a Christmas gift?

Any second now, the woman would say something like, “Oh my heavens! How did that get in there? That’s for my elderly mother with liver disease. Her hair is damaged. No. No. No. Paul’s gift is in the car. It’s a robot that needs batteries.”

Alas…

That’s not what she said. She said, “Yes. I thought he’d like it. I got it at Broadway. It was very expensive.”

I never opened that bottle. I re-wrapped it and took it to school for the secret Santa gift exchange. I had now made some other 12 year-old miserable. I felt bad about that. But it needed to be done.

I am sure, in the many years since then, that bottle has been rewrapped and re-gifted at least 100 times. It’s still out there, too. Somewhere.

If you happen to ever get it as a gift, would you mind sending it back to me.

I have damaged hair.