Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Becoming Fine in 2009, Part One

Thanks to our good friends at U.S. News & World Report and their "special year-end issue," I now have fodder for fueling my brand of curmudgeonastics as I look through the feature, "50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2009." I know, I know, I know that these folks have my best interests at heart and that they're only making friendly suggestions, but seriously...

1. Bike to work. All I need to do to let you know how -- ahem -- silly this Minnesota resident thinks this idea is, is to quote the first paragraph of the article: "On a freezing November morning in Chicago, Megan Mason puts on leggings, several polyester tops and a fleece, a windbreaker, four pairs of gloves, and silk sock liners. She ties a bandanna over her head, dons earmuffs, snaps on a helmet, safety-pins a scarf into a cocoon around her head, and gets on her bright green Schwinn for a 6-mile ride to work." What the article fails to mention is that Megan can no longer bend her legs, grasp anything with her hands, nor see anything that isn't directly in front of her.

2. Get a new toothbrush. I've got this one covered. The dentist gives me a new one at every 6-month checkup. I also get a miniature box of floss and a shiny sticker that says, "Look, ma, no cavities!"

3. Move to Vermont. Amy Golad wrote the two paragraphs containing this suggestion/order. I kind of wonder if she's a real estate agent in the Green Mountain State.

4. Use glass to store food. I'll admit that this is a much better suggestion than using food to store glass, which is what Bubba's Diner must have been trying. I still haven't received my settlement check from that piece of litigation.

5. Walk the craves away. The idea here is that physical exercise reduces the cravings that some people have for particular foods...in this case, chocolate. That's all fine and dandy, but what amuses me is the description of the scientific study that was conducted...probably using our tax dollars, but that's just a hunch on my part: "25 regular chocolate eaters [Does this refer to people who regularly eat chocolate, or people who eat regular chocolate? Or people who are regular? And does that mean that they are somewhat normal or that their bathroom habits are predictable?] abstained from the treat for three days before participating in the study, for which they walked on a treadmill for 15 minutes. After completion, they waited 10 minutes before engaging in two activities that generally stimulate chocolate cravings: a simulation of a stressful situation and the unwrapping of a chocolate bar." I know that I always crave chocolate after simulating a stressful situation...and who's the genius that figured out that unwrapping a chocolate bar is usually followed by eating chocolate?

6. Get paid for good health. The point here is that some companies -- PepsiCo is featured in the article -- provide financial benefits to their employees who participate in wellness programs. It's such a good deal, I'm thinking of taking up smoking so I can pocket the $600 I'd get for quitting...if I worked at PepsiCo...which I don't...so I won't. Besides, shouldn't this directive be directed to employers instead of employees? As in, "Pay Dewey for cutting down on carbs." That would certainly improve my life in 2009.

7. Have your eyes checked. I prefer my natural polka-dot coloring scheme, thank you very much.

8. Continue to compete. To quote: "Just because you're getting older doesn't mean you have to give up on the sports and fitness activities that you enjoy." This is good news, because I would hate to think that I could no longer participate in the middle-of-the-night dash to the bathroom, the hand-to-mouth popcorn toss, and my personal favorite, the full-house-search-for-something-I-had-just-a-minute-ago.

9. Take an afternoon nap. Finally, these guys are talking my language! Now let's talk to my boss about it.

10. Jump into freerunning. If you've seen the opening chase sequence of 2006's James Bond movie, Casino Royale, you've seen an excellent demonstration of freerunning: bounding over, around, and through obstacles and walls like a skateboarder doing tricks...only without a skateboard. I love watching this stuff, but I have a tiny issue with it that keeps me from joining in full-heartedly: In addition to the fact that its origins are in Fraaaance, there is also a problem with terminology. It's known as freerunning, but its real name is parkour. And to put the cherry on top of this language mishmash, those that participate are called traceurs.

And don't even get me started on how I would -- you know -- break my neck and all that.

Stay tuned...there's more to come!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


He wasn't really a Christmas gift, but the timing makes it seem like that.

Saturday, December 20, 2008, Beloved and I became the recipients of a second miniature chihuahua to take up space, breath up air, eat up food, and pee up furniture in our house. His name was Karma, but (and don't tell the previous owners this) we think that's a dorkasaurus of a name for a dog, so we have renamed him Connor. (Yeah, I know, that's not a real doggy-sounding name either, but it starts with the same consonant sound...we're hoping to keep his burp-sized brain from imploding.)

I'm writing about Connor because he has already brought a seismic shift to my farm-boy-transplanted-to-the-suburbs sensibilities.

Here's the story: Connor was given to us by a family that realized they just weren't a good fit for the little feces factory. Their kids were too young to play with him like anything other than a ragdoll. He ended up being kept in the basement most of the time, partly out of protection for him, methinks. I also think that he was never taken outside to take care of the final steps of the digestive process.

So, when I physically carried him outside to show him where he should be relieving himself--instead of on every available piece of carpet, furniture, or family member in the house--he was a bit confused and took quite some time...enough time that his uninitiated, puny pink paws perhaps got the tiniest bit bit by frost.

Which leads to the aforementioned shift in sensibilities.

I, Dewey Roth, who grew up on a farm in Northeastern Indiana with fairly feral cats; played with dogs that were never allowed in the house and ate nothing but table scraps; who always thought that animals were capable of taking care of themselves......I am sitting Connor on my lap and swaddling his paws in cloth before every trip outside.

So help me, though, I refuse to lay him in a manger.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'Tis the Season

Being an official Old Fogey does not preclude me from also having a large measure of sentimentality when it comes to Things to Watch During the Christmas Season. Herewith is a short list of what I consider to be holiday essentials...

Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol - I very rarely run into anyone who remembers this TV classic. Actually, I very rarely run into ANYone. I'm fairly careful about that. One can't say the same about the majorly-myopic Mister Magoo, voiced by Thurston Howell the Third himself, Jim Backus. I'm especially fond of the duet that Magoo's Scrooge sings with his younger self when visiting Christmas Past: "So many grains of sand in the world. Why such a lonely beeeeeach?" Other highlights: The singing foursome of those who filched Scrooge's things after he died ("We're just, yada-da-daaa-da, all bad!"); "Razzleberry dressing;" the cast clapping with the closing song but putting more energy into pulling their hands apart than slapping them together.

Irving Berlin's White Christmas - A rousing romp of a showbiz movie having very little to do with Christmas, but featuring the practically non-existent waist of Vera Ellen. Seriously...the woman is a living Barbie doll. And she's got the massive poodle skirt to prove it. I particularly like the scene between Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in their dressing room arguing over when Bing is going to stop pretending to look nonchalant about pulling his overly-long t-shirt down to cover his whitey-tighties. Other highlights: "Not so much as haaave an apple;" the disappearing pants legs in "Gee, I Wish I Were Back in the Army;" Bing Crosby actually cracking up at the end of their dressed-in-drag number, "Sisters."

Little House on the Prairie's Christmas Episode - We've got a VHS tape of the one where the Ingalls family is sitting in the little house remembering Christmases past. It is imperative that all of today's ankle-biters who can't imagine Christmas being worthwhile if they don't get the newest, hippest, shiniest, most Internet-compatible gizmo watch Half-Pint and siblings wet their bloomers when they get an orange. Match that with the youngest gal's look of utter joy when she stares at the star on their tree, and you've got yourself some Christmas magic.

A Charlie Brown Christmas - It had been several years since I watched this, so I tuned in the other night. I had never noticed before that there's a set of twins in the cast. You'll notice them dancing as mirrors of each other from across the stage when Charlie Brown is trying to get everyone to concentrate on the Christmas play. All almosting of truth aside, Linus' recitation of the Luke 2 Christmas account is worth the price of admission all by itself.

Rankin & Bass' Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - The clunky stop-motion animation, the mysterious shifting of the Bumble's fur, an elf that looks like Dennis the Menace's dad...this show has it all! Best of all is Burl Ives' singing snowman that is somehow bothered by cold weather...hmmmm.

Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life - Scene after scene, this is one of the most quotable, iconic motion pictures of all time. When Donna Reed welcomes Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey to their wedding night in an architectural sieve, her glowing face makes me forget I'm married. Other highlights: "This is an interesting situation;" "He's making violent love to me, Mother;" "You're nothing more than a measly little spider...and that goes for YOU, too!" "I was savin' this for my divorce...if'n I ever got me a husband." And yes, I still tear up every time the war-hero brother calls George the richest man in town.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What a Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Weekend!

I've been around the track enough times to have heard it ad nauseum: "December is just too busy of a time to schedule anything." While I've heard it over and over, my actual experience has been the antithesis of it. It seems that people are so fearful of December being busy that nothing really happens. At least that's been my experience.

At least that's been my experience until this past weekend.

The perfect storm of December activities started Friday evening with our church's annual Ladies' Christmas Tea. A few weeks ago, The Lady In Charge contacted me and asked if I could pull together a few men to sing a couple songs for the ladies before the main attraction, which was a local high school's acapella group. As has been my downfall in the past, I couldn't think of a reasonable excuse not to do it, so I agreed to the task.

The ummmmm interesting challenge about it all was that the request was for the group to consist of guys that don't normally sing on a worship team...so that the ladies could fawn over some fresh faces. What made that a challenge was that these fellas not only didn't sing on a worship team (for the most part), they pretty much didn't sing any kind of harmony except by accident. Don't get me wrong, they were all great guys...marvelous, helpful attitudes...but we sang our songs in three different keys...at the same time.

The biggest hit of the evening was when we cleaned snow off car windshields.

Contribution number two to living up to the Christmas season busyness stereotype was Saturday's trip to Decorah, Iowa, for Christmas at Luther. It was a beautiful extravaganza with five choirs, four soloists, three instrumental groups, two handbell choirs, and a pipe organist in a pear tree. Driving two-and-a-half hours...each way...for an hour-and-a-half concert featuring carols that had all masculine pronouns surgically removed was a bit crazy, but our youngest, KayJay, was in one of the choirs. Whatcha gonna do, eh?

Sunday morning had its normal brand of hustle and bustle, but the cherry on the top of our Christmas-o-rama sundae was a 2 P.M. performance of Rosemount High School's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It was done in the performing arts center in which Beloved and I have been supportive parents for the past 14 years...except that this was the first time we didn't have a child actually in the production we were watching. It was a great performance...but...well...strange.

In addition to the strangeness of being childless, the high schooler who played Pharoah (which is written to be an Elvis impersonation) would have been a better choice if the Pharoah's name was Elton John.

I'm just sayin'...