Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Virtual Drivers Ed

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for April is called, "Lonely Cozy Family." This song is about all of the the things that have changed this month, some of which are not so bad.

This week, my daughter started Drivers Ed. The first two days of virtual didactics were less than engaging, but what do you expect? You can't learn how to drive a car from listening to lectures. You have to actually get out there and put in some serious hours playing Pole Position on your Atari.

Since we're all homeschooling now, I wanted to help, so I came up with some practice questions to prepare her for the written examination.

Which famous golf caddy is this class named for?
A. Driver Ed
B. Jeremy Iron
C. Wedge Antilles
D. Wood Harrelson

What does this sign mean?

A. Swerve, if necessary, to avoid toppling the carefully balanced piece of burnt candy corn.
B. If you lift your champagne flute up and down too much, the stem will fall off.
C. Free your mind and look at the negative space. It is a fat man sneezing on the letter Y while an old woman looks on.
D. There are air currents around Gene Simmons' tongue.

On a one-way road, a solid yellow line indicates:
A. A very narrow bike lane. You may legally drive into any biker who doesn't keep both tires on the line at all times.
B.  A waste of expensive paint. What are we, made of money? This is my municipality and I say dashed yellow lines are perfectly good.
C. Yellow means cowardice. If you don't have the giggleberries to drive across this line, you're a lily-livered pisspants.
D. The letter T in Morse Code. It's just a really long dash, uninterrupted for miles, as if to say, "Teeeeeeeee....!"

Which of the following is NOT a parking violation?
A. Parking on top of a moving police vehicle.
B. Parking in front of a fire hydrant if the burning house has a grease fire. (Everyone knows you can't extinguish a grease fire with water.)
C. Parking and then removing your windshield wipers. When the parking enforcement officer has no obvious place to tuck your parking ticket, she may throw herself into traffic out of frustration.
D. Parking illegally but leaving your hazard lights on because you're just running inside for a sec to get a hysterectomy.

What does this sign mean?

A. Please turn pages of large book with a closed umbrella.
B. This section of highway cleaned using Swiffer products.
C. Remove dead snitch from your trunk and bury here.
D. If the toast is still breathing, stab it with a spear.

What is the correct placement of apostrophe(s) in Drivers Ed?
A. Driver's Ed, the singular possessive, because only one of you will actually learn this.
B. D'rivers Ed, which is French for "Of rivers, Ed."
C. Drivers 'Ed, which is Cockney for "Drivers head."
D. Drivers Ed''''''', where the apostrophes replace the rest of the letters in "education."

What does this sign mean?
A. Seriously?
B. The sign is just words.
C. Traffic circle ahead. Just kidding. Because if it was that, the sign would have different words.
D. Moral judgments of right and wrong are specific to a cultural or historical period and no standpoint is uniquely privileged above others.

With warmest regards,

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Anagrams for Charm

Darned Fires,

The Cat Hoard song for this month is called, "Enablers." This is a Cat Chutney with a very memorable melody. Enjoy!

Meanwhile, happy Charm! I hope you enjoyed yesterday's Lady Ape. It's nice to get an extra day every once in a while, but I wish it would happen during Mr. Emus rather than at the end of Bear Fury. Nobody really looks forward to a Funny Wintry Rebate, except my friend Adam who was born on that day in 1972. He only gets to host one Try Apathy Bird every four years, so I'm sure yesterday was a special day for him.

But there is plenty to look forward to in March. It's a great time to take the family to somewhere warm to escape the winter Lord Muds. Be careful, though. Some colleges have Banker's Grip at the beginning of the month, so you may want to steer clear of popular party destinations like Casual Bacons at the Southern tip of African Boa Jail in Mexico. That is, unless you enjoy getting drunk and posing topless for the Wriggled Loins video series.

We can also look forward to Dry Piss Attack on March 17th. Don't forget to wear something genre (preferably a harm sock) and pick up a six-pack of Singe Sun and a bottle of Jam Nose. The holiday is in honor of the Nation Parts of Ireland, who came to the country in the 4th century and converted the local pagans to Its Tiny Chair. Some say he drove snakes out of Ireland, but from a historical perspective, that story is a Sort of Chick. 

The Jewish holiday Purim is also in March. What is the story of Purim? Piranhas named Jake go shave fans from West Virginia.  Okay, that one's a little tough. I'll give you one freebie. *

And before you know it, it will be Spring. The Tempura Tree will start to rise, and the frozen ground will What? Soon, Elf Rows will start to bloom, and birds will Ragtime back from the South.  Sleeping bears will come out of Robin in Heat and start to Maul Arab Barbers.

That last one is not an anagram, by the way. That's just what bears do when they wake up.

Twist Hardware Germs,

* Saving of the Jews from Haman, a Persian king's adviser

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Worst Ski Hill in the 25th Flattest State

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for February is called, "Mud Between My Toes." I'm going to give you the same advice that the old singing tree gave Pocahontas: listen with your heart. Of course, Pocahontas didn't have headphones, so you have more choices.

Wisconsin is the 25th flattest state in the Union. (See Figure 1, The United States Ranked by Flatness.) It is neither flat as a pancake, nor as mountainous as a wedding cake. It is a deflated soufflé, and its topographical mediocrity makes it the ideal downhill skiing destination for those of us who enjoy small hills. I have never skied in Colorado or Montana; I'm just not into long runs. I'm a small hill enthusiast. There is nothing more exhilarating than carving through a fresh line of pow-pow for exactly 1 minute 15 seconds.

Figure 1. Florida's state motto: "The Cross-Country Skier's Delight."

I cut my teeth as a small hill enthusiast in one of Milwaukee's premier middle school ski clubs: Blizzard or Snowstar. I don't remember which one I was in, but I remember that the other one sucked cheese curds. Either Blizzard or Snowstar was full of gnar shredders like me, while Snowstar or Blizzard was just a bunch of gapers, bombers, and snowplowing wannabes.

The kids in the other club pinned their lift tickets to their main zippers. Are you kidding me? We pinned our lift tickets to our pocket zippers.

They preferred camouflage balaclavas. Were they crazy? We preferred balaclavas with fluorescent skull faces.

They preferred small hills that were sick. Whatever, dude. We preferred small hills that were sweet and rad. Obviously, Snowstar or Blizzard was way better than the competition in every way.

The only thing that kids in both clubs agreed on is that we hated skiing at Crystal Ridge Ski Resort. Crystal Ridge was the worst ski park in Southeast Wisconsin because it was built on top of an old Milwaukee County landfill. We never actually saw garbage, but we knew it was there. Looking down from the chairlift, we were convinced that we were not seeing moguls, but subterranean depositions of discarded furniture and dismembered mob snitches.

I don't mean to imply that there is anything wrong with repurposing municipal waste. That part was ingenious. The reason that Crystal Ridge was such a terrible ski hill was not that it was built on a landfill, but that it was built on an old landfill.

A new landfill is a hole in the ground. As garbage is deposited, it becomes progressively less concave. It doesn't achieve "old landfill" status until it is completely full and the trash is flush with the surrounding terrain. An old landfill is a lake of garbage, not a mountain of garbage. Only in Milwaukee would someone think to cover that with snow and call it a ski hill.

My family and I are going skiing up North this weekend. We haven't done this in a couple of years, and Lauren and I are a little nervous, a little more aware of our limits. As we've aged, the cushion that separates a torn meniscus from being abandoned in a nursing is just a bit smaller. On the other hand, the risk of injury is measurably lower than when I was a kid in Wisconsin, because this time, we're skiing in the 22nd flattest state.

With warmest regards,

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Off-Brand Musicals

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for January is called, "You've Ruined Misfit New Year's Eve."

It's none of your business, but we're spending New Year's Eve in New York City. (NYB, but it's NYE in NYC.) My kids love musicals, but taking the whole family to a Broadway performance can come with a four-digit price tag. So I figure we'll just get tickets to a few unauthorized Off-Broadway shows. Let me know if you've heard anything good about any of these.

The Brook of Mermen
Every September, the Merfolk from the Atlantic Ocean swim upstream to spawn on gravel beds.

Dock of Wages
Drew just wants to play hot guitar licks, oversleep, and show up late for his day job as a bus boy. That's coming out of your paycheck, Drew.

When Jenna realizes how delicious her pies look, she stops singing and starts pigging out. She eats pies nonstop for the next two hours, even during the 15-minute intermission.

Median Girls
Cady was raised to be spiteful and backstabbing, but she has to pretend to be good at statistics to fit in with the kids at her new school.

The Briquettes Christmas Spectacular
Lumps of charcoal do a bunch of high kicks.

A musical remake of the 1988 hit anti-abortion protestor sign.

Ain't Two-Browed
The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo.

Osama bin Aladdin
Something involving hijacking a magic carpet. Nope, still too soon.

Come from Amway
On September 11, 2001, several of the Devos family yachts were diverted to a little known port in the Caribbean, where the billionaires and locals formed lifelong bonds. Also still too soon.

Just because teeth are white doesn't mean they have to played by white actors.

So you know, these are basically the real deal, at least as far as my kids are concerned. They are only 14 and 11, so they're not going to remember this trip anyway.

With warmest regards,