Thursday, January 20, 2011

Football, Fatherhood and Feeling Guilty.

I have a guilty conscious.

For instance...

If I'm not spending time with my kids...I feel guilty. If I spend too much time with my kids...I feel guilty that I'm not experiencing the spice of life.

If I don't write or draw...I feel guilty. If I write or draw too much...I feel guilty that I should be doing other things, like running.

If I skip my daily run...I feel guilty. If I run too much...I feel guilty that I'm not spending enough time with my kids.

You get the idea.

It's a never-ending cycle that drives me absolutely bananas.

So, a week or so ago, I was feeling guilty about not spending enough time with my kids. In particular, my three-year old son.

As fate would have it, this past weekend we both had an opportunity to spend some 'Man-time' together when my wife decided to take our four-year old daughter to get her toes painted.

The NFL playoffs were on the tube, which sparked an idea...a perfect father-son tradition that has been handed down from Eimer generation to generation...

Tossing Football! The perfect male-bonding experience for any male, any age at any time.

As my son was napping (yes, he still naps), I ran to the garage and started searching for the pigskin. I hit paydirt - a Michael Vick-branded Atlanta Hawks football.

It was a football that my good, old dad purchased for me back in 2006 during our summer vacation at the Jersey Shore.

With football in hand, I walked in from the garage to find my bleary-eyed son, rubbing his eyes with one hand and holding an Ugly Doll in the other.

"Hey guy," I said holding up the football. "Wanna toss some football with your old man."

"Don't want to toss football," he said. "I want the ferry."

"Ferry?" I asked. "Are you looking for a ferry boat?"

"No," he said again. "A ferry."

"Let's just toss some football and we'll find the ferry later," I said as I lobbed the red and black oval into the air.

The ball bounced on the floor with a clunk. My son took off running.

"Hey," I yelled. "Where are you going?"

"I want to play with ferry!"

I sighed. Then I heard a loud happy shriek that sounded like a young girl, but was definitely from my young son.

"I found it," he exclaimed.

He turned the corner, a big smile on his face as he was holding a Tinker Bell figurine.

"Oh, a fairy," I said nodding my head as I picked up the football.

Then I looked at Tinker Bell. Then I looked back at the Michael Vick-branded football.

Back and forth. Back and forth.

Then I thought....(click here).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Whip It...Good!

As I’ve stated in a couple previous entries, I'm an avid runner.

As I've also stated in a previous entry, I find a lot of crazy shit when I run on the highway.

Last year, I noticed an uptick in the number of beer cans strewn on the side of the road. I blamed the stock market.

This year, I’ve been noticing something a bit more peculiar...Reddi wip™ cans.

No, not the circular Tupperware-like plastic containers of Cool Whip, but the long, metallic cylinders of whipped cream.

There are literally dozens and dozens of these festive-looking cans strewn along the road.

At first, I pictured a rather large-and-in-charge male or female navigating their high-priced Lexi (plural of Lexus) down Hametown Road, driving with their knees, as they juggle a Hostess® Fruit Pie in one hand, a can of Reddi Wip in the other hand, attempting to indulge in an extraordinary dessert.

But, c’mon! Let’s be realistic. That’s not what’s happening at all.

If I was a betting man (and I am) I would say it’s a group of teenagers-possibly from the Revere school district or, at the very least, neighboring Cuyahoga Falls, Medina, Richfield or Fairlawn-doing Whip its.

Yep, Whip-Its® - the act inhaling nitrous oxide from small compressed canisters or compressed cans of whipped cream. (Thanks Urban Dictionary!)

Seems to be quite a resurgence going on in this particular neighborhood nowadays. And I have a couple thoughts as to why:
  • It’s harder and harder for the youngsters to get alcohol.
  • It’s harder and harder to steal mom and dad’s prescription ‘back pills’.
  • It’s harder and harder to buy expensive weed on a high school student’s budget.
  • Simply put, it’s harder and harder for younger people to catch a buzz nowadays.
Look, I’ll admit it, I’ve done Whip-Its in my lifetime.

Yes, it's addictive. And, yes, it does kill mega brain cells by depriving fresh oxygen to your noggin. Hence, the buzz.

The last time I did Whip-its was about seven years ago...

I was living in Columbus, Ohio. It was a dull Wednesday night. My two good friends (who happen to be married) and I decided to grab a 12-pack of beer and a couple canisters of Whip-its, a canister cracker (I think that’s what they're called) and some balloons at a local Kwicky Mart.

We giddily drove to my buddy's house and indulged in an hour and a half of pure nitrous fun! With our lips blue and our heads throbbing, we watched about 10 back-to-back episodes of COPS and then called it a night.

Another story...

During a Spring Break waaaaay back in college, five of my buddies and I crammed into two small Honda Accords and hightailed it down to Hunting Island, South Carolina, with a huge tank of Nitrous Oxide hidden deep in the trunk. And when I say tanks, I'm not talking about the little itty-bitty canisters used by your neighborhood dentist. I'm talking the big-ass tanks they use to juice up drag-racing cars.

In any event, it took six dudes less than two days to suck down an entire tank of the stuff. In the middle of the night, I remember more than once hearing a silent zipping sound of the tent being opened, then suddenly an extremely loud discharge of the Nitrous Oxide tanks echoing in the night as one my friends filled up their designated balloon with the hippity, hoppity fun-filled gas.

Little did we know the buzz would evaporate for good. Shortly after our fun-filled Spring Break, nitrous oxide manufacturers deliberately added a small percentage of sulfur dioxide to the tanks as an irritant to discourage substance abuse by goofballs pining to achieve the laughing gas effect. Damn them to Hell.
But I digress...

While I think it’s fine that America's newest generation of pimple pushers are experimenting with this somewhat trippy drug that makes you giggle for a couple seconds, I’m a little perturbed that they’re being thrown out the window like an errant used condom after a quick back-seat bang (not that that’s good either).

So, Northeast Ohio youngsters, can you do me a favor?

After you get your little jollies off inhaling your whipped cream, please, pretty please (with some fucking sugar on top) toss your canisters in a plastic bag and pitch them into the garbage. There are plenty of bins and receptacles around the Bath area where you can toss these metallic eyesores. Maybe you can even look to recycling as well.
All I know is that Mother Nature would be much, much happier.

And, more importantly, so would I.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Eimer's Top Reads of 2010

This year, I didn’t come even close to last year’s record of 46 books.

I only read 27 books.

Due to my 2009 New Year’s Resolution - More Eimer in 2010 - I’ve been drawing more cartoons, working on my novel(s) and children’s books, writing a bit more, watching more movies and running a bit longer than my average of 1.5 miles a day achieved last year.

In any event, I've uncovered more great books this year that I think would make great reads for all three readers of this blog. Some oldies. Some newbies. Some of the best books I’ve ever read.

So here goes...below are my top ten reads of 2010, in no particular order. Click each title to shoot to the respective page (So you can order the damn books!):

Born To Run by Christopher McDougall
If you're a runner, jogger or moderately interested in exercise, you need to read this book. Part-autobiography, part-history, part-anthropological study, part-self-help book, this novel has it all. If you don't run, it will inspire you to get off your feet. If you do run, it's packed with a lot of helpful tips, plus motivation from some of the best ultra-marathoners in the United States, not to mention tips and strategies from the Tarahumara tribe of Ultra-runners who live in the Copper Canyons of the Sierra Madres. Like I said, fantastic book!

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
Extremely, thought-provoking, well-written sequel to Ender's Game. It's like a murder-mystery with aliens. Orson Scott Card effortlessly weaves concepts of nature, religion, science, technology and science fiction into his fiction to make a very quick, very entertaining read. If you're a science fiction fan, pick up this book and Ender's Game.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson
When it comes to books, I'm not that into mysteries. That said, this book is highly recommended on all fronts. Great writing. This isn't James Patterson crap. This is more comparable to Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie - even somewhat comparable to Thomas Harris (Silence of the Lambs). Being a former journalist, I also found Larsson's world extremely intriguing. Note: The first 50 pages are setting the scene, don't let it dissuade you.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
You know the movie Frankenstein and the Frankenstein's Monster? Well, this book - the original book - is nothing like the movies and the fantastic monsters that Filmland created. No, this book is much darker. The monster is much smarter - and evil. He's not dumb. He's cold, calculated and very, very angry. And the main protagonist Dr. Frankenstein is a tortured soul in every sense of the word. I'm very happy I picked up this book and found out the Mary Shelley's true vision. Highly recommended for horror fans and literatire fans alike.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
At only 100+ pages Hemingway fills each page with precise language. Highly recommended to any lover of fiction. Which begs a question, why do authors need to write 500+ page books. This is proof enough that a 100+ pager can do the job - if you have the right story.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
So much to say that I can't possibly touch on all facets of this book. Lets just say that Steinbeck has captured the essence of everyman's dialogue. He's weaved a triumphant story that will stand as the pinnacle of great American literature. Like I said, I need more space to talk about the importance of this book. Yes, it's long. But it's well worth the read.

The Making of Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler
If you're a fan of STAR WARS, or a fan of the film-making process, you'll love this book. It's a long book with very small text. But it kept my enthralled from beginning to end. Great behind the scenes pics and inside scoops on the heartbreak, the triumph and the creativity that was poured into this film. This is the definitive book on one of the most important movies of all time. Highly recommended.

Night by Elie Weisel
After you read this, you truly realize how incredibly lucky Wiesel was. This is a book that everyone should read. Very powerful. A little on the depressing side due to its content (A child and his family trying to survive the holocaust). But, it definitely makes you think how lucky we are to live in the United States. Right here, right now. The train sequence is the most tragic part of book.

Columbine by Dave Cullen
Another tragic novel. Pretty powerful stuff. If you were always wondering the true story about what happened in Columbine, this is the book. Let me warn you, it's not pretty. In fact, it's kind of unsettling. However, if you're a teacher or a parent, I'd say pick it up. Trust me, there is a lot you don't know about the Columbine tragedy. And most of the so-called 'facts' that you read in the newspapers were totally bogus.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
This is a book about death, destruction, mutilation, brutality and torture in the wild west. In fact, I would wager that this book averages, at least, one death per page. Truth be told, it's a fascinating book. McCarthy has a fantastic grasp of the English language and weaves a compelling story. This book made TIME's Top 100 books since 1923 and, definitely deserves a spot on your list. Bloody great read.

ADDITIONAL WARNING: Like I said last year, if you're interested in any of the above books, I implore you to not (NOT) visit Wikipedia to learn more. The Wikipedia summaries are filled to gills with spoilers that will ruin these books for first-time readers.