Monthly Archives: May 2014

Impossibly (un)Rotten Tomatoes

Every spring I get a giant garden boner and start obsessing about plants.

Yeah,  that’s what I’m going to write about, gardening. No one is coming here for Kim Karsashian wedding news so there shouldn’t be any complaints about my garden boner.

I blame my love of gardening — or more truthfully — thank, my mom. Her love of gardening rubbed off on me. In my youth, my family and I lived in a modest home in a middle-class suburb of Phoenix and despite the lack of “farmable land” Mom always made a go of gardening. She even enlisted me in my teen years to dig up and till parts of the backyard in a desperate attempt to scratch out a few fresh vegetables from a meager 15-by-15 foot plot of land under an unrelenting Arizona sun.

While I toiled away, I pretended I was busting sod like some 1823 explorer in northern California,  and she enjoyed cheap labor. It was a win-win.

It mostly worked. Despite my father’s insistence that whatever was planted was just another obstacle to mow around, a decent bit of veggies could be harvested and I always found that cool.

I didn’t want to eat any of them, mind you. God no, they might interfere with my diet of Big Mac and weed.

My mother’s love of plants never left me and for that I’m thankful and always look forward to springtime. That bug has long since also bitten Dagmar and it’s become a mutual labor of love.

Because we move around a lot, Dagmar and I plant our gardens in containers. Over the years we’ve amassed a fine collection of pots and every spring we dutifully drag them out to the backyard and carefully discuss the planting options for each container.

Then we go to the gardening store, collectively lose our minds, buy a shit-ton of plants we hadn’t planned on along with some potting soil and come home.

Once home, I unload the plants from the car while she lines the backyard with plastic bags explaining to me that this is how Martha Steward gardens. I then call Martha Steward a fucking retard because who cares if potting soil gets on the lawn. Dagmar then storms inside the house mad at me for debasing the benevolent Martha Stewart and I’m left to pot my plants in peace for three minutes.

Page 27, "Use a trash bag to protect your lawn when potting a new plant."  Seriously look that shit up. Actually while captioning this I asked her and now she claims she saw it "somewhere".

Page 27, “Use a trash bag to protect your lawn when potting a new plant.” Seriously look that shit up. Actually while captioning this I asked her and now she claims she saw it “somewhere”.

Once I admit that Martha Stewart isn’t an idiot and Dagmar admits that potting soil isn’t bad for a lawn, we get down to the serious business of arguing about root balls. Specifically, how much you should fuck with a root ball.

I think that our new family member should be introduced to their new home by gently loosening the root ball of the plant. Dagmar prefers some sort of “fuck your roots, you’ll grow new ones” approach.

So while I gingerly shake the soil from the new plant’s roots, Dagmar prefers the “kill the old soil and roots with fire” approach.

rootsoutside

We’ve had mixed success stories obviously.

One of our recent plants never looked good, not even the morning after we planted it. (She planted it, of course.) Throughout the week it looked worse and worse. When I finally checked on it I discovered she’d separated the plant from the roots. Physically broken them apart and hadn’t realized it.

Point mine, honey. Point mine.

Back to the story.

I bought one of those gimmicky tomato plants sold in gardening stores that already has a bunch of cherry tomatoes on the vine. Some are ripe, most of the tomatoes are still green, and fuck, why wouldn’t you buy one of those?

They’ve got tomatoes you can eat right now!

They’re perfect because they’re so easy. But yeah, nothing good is really ever easy is it?

When you garden you can expect failure. Some plants don’t get enough sun, some plants get too much water, some plants have their roots molested to death by Dagmar and some plants can’t handle being peed on a few times by some drunken ass from the house.

You know, failure.

The gimmicky tomato plant was a failure. Inside of a week, the leaves looked like hell and the branches drooped. Although the tomatoes themselves looked awesome, the plant was in that, “well that’s going to die” phase anyone who’s been around a blade of grass longer than a week can recognize.

Dagmar and I debated the plant’s root treatment. She accused me of just pulling it out of the plastic pot it came in and sticking it directly into the ground. I accused her of violently attacking the roots like a vicious tomato plant hater.

We unceremoniously ripped it up from the stem because neither of us knew why it was dead. It was an impulse purchase, it was a gimmicky impulse purchase and yeah, it was almost dead.

Dagmar cried, I said a solemn prayer and … who am I kidding, I just took the mostly dirt-free root ball plant to the back of the yard behind the shed where I dump all the failures, ash from our BBQ and urinate when I’m drinking outside.

The dead plants are all piled up behind the shed. I like to call it composting and not dumping, but really, it’s just a pile of dead plants. I occasionally poke the pile with a stick, sometimes I pee on it and rarely do I give it a second thought.

The gimmicky tomato plant went to join the natural order of things in that ungodly pee-infested “compost” pile.

End of blog post right? I made some fun jokes about how my wife and I differ in our methods of gardening; you now know I pee in my backyard;  I worked in a Fuck-Martha-Stewart reference; and shit let’s crack open a beer and high-five, blog is done. Fuck those tomatoes!

But it isn’t — because that shit happened like a month and a half ago and look at it now.

See, root ball destroyed

See, root ball destroyed

OK, OK, I’ve since hung the “dead” tomato plant on a tree branch, but shit, after like three weeks back there (I pee back there more often than I’ve let on), I started to wonder why the tomatoes weren’t rotting.

I’ve tossed tomato branches from normal tomato plants (started from seeds or bought as starter plants) into similar piles and the fucking tomatoe’s rot right along with the rest of the plant.

This is some weird Chernobyl shit right here. Why (and this photo was taken last week*) do those red tomatoes still look delicious? The leaves and vines are withered and dead. Why do the green tomatoes not rot and fall off or more importantly look exactly the same as the day I tossed them back there?

What the hell is going on in my garden … what kind of madness is this?

* Okay since writing this, the tomatoes have started to rot. They’re getting kind of gross now in fact. I’m not at all sure what the point of this whole thing was, I thought the tomatoes weren’t rotting, but it turns out they are? Fuck, no idea. Let’s just all forget this and move on okay?

Traffic wardens, meter maids and mayhem

I’ve learned something today — something valuable, something that is meaningful and something that most of you already know — parking enforcement officers are utter dicks.

I like to call these officers “traffic wardens” because that’s what they call them in Germany (0r I’ve watched Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels a million times too many and whenever I see one this clip comes to mind).

Regardless, I’d be a shitty traffic warden if only because I’d always default to the line of thinking that goes, “Well, she’s pretty, I’ll let her go.”

Let me explain.

Dagmar had an appointment in the city of Weisbaden recently and because she can’t drive I had to take a few hours off to drive her there.

Through an unusual set of circumstances that I won’t describe here we ran into the wife of one of my coworkers who opted to join me for a quick drink while my wife went about her business.

My coworker’s wife was parked illegally because she was responding to a semi-legit emergency and assumed she’d be in and out of the area in minutes. Then I threw a monkey wrench (or in this case a screwdriver) into the plan. But parked illegally or not, she wasn’t blocking anything, she was just parked in one of those spaces that inexplicably have stripes running diagonally. The adjacent bus stop wasn’t terribly impacted by her parking job, though it would have been less affected if she had stayed there for only the anticipated five minutes and not the entirely optional and entirely awesome 30 minutes to have a drink with me.

My coworker’s wife is awesome, good looking and a really cool person. While we had our drink, her illegally parked car was in our sight as we sat at an outside table of a cafe. She’s a grown up, I’m a grown up, and well, my car was parked legally, so there’s that.

Then the traffic warden showed up, and my coworker’s wife ran out to try to prevent the inevitable. But pretty/cute/nice wasn’t enough to overcome traffic warden douchebaggery.

Eyes were batted, smiles were smiled and a ticket was issued. Not blog worthy I admit. Cute lady is issued citation despite being cute, yawn.

With traffic citation in hand, my friend’s sad wife left and I almost turned back to my Kindle book about nothing, but the warden stuck around and holy shit just watching that guy was an education.

I guess it must be a thing that happens to even the most kindhearted traffic wardens — overtime they become jaded. In this guy’s case, he must have been on the illegally parked vehicle “case” since 1083 A.D, ’cause this fucker was jaded with a capital J.

I watched as this guy just relentlessly handed out ticket after ticket. He was like  a ticket-issuing ninja.

Little old lady delivering a quick gift to her grandchildren? Fuck you, move faster next time, that’s a ticket! Repairman dropping off heavy tools before parking the van? Fuck you, they should hire stronger guys, that’s a ticket! Deliveryman quickly running into a shop to drop off a package? Fuck off, scofflaw, that’s a ticket! Super hot (and I mean SUPER hot) German chick running inside and then moments later back to her car? Yeah, take your titties elsewhere, that’s a fucking ticket!

thats-a-paddlin-30027

The dude was relentless. If Santa stopped there on Christmas eve this dude would’ve stapled a ticket to Rudolph’s nose. Dude would’ve faulted the Pope if he’s have stopped and washed a poor man’s feet.

I want to call out German efficiency here, but I’m sure the same shit happens in Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Moscow and countless other cities in the world.

Jaded mothers be jaded and such.

A quest for common ground …

I’m not really sure how to write this and not destroy the noble and righteous name that is Had A Few Beers.

Really, the words I’m about to write may collapse the walls insulating our heroic, and might I say “inspired” blog as easily as the Roman siege engines ripped apart Carthage’s defense during the third Punic war.

Stoic really ...

Stoic really …

Was that reference obscure for you? Well then strap in, because it’s about to get worse.

Be sure to check for liquids that might, if spilled, damage the device your reading this on. When you discover the dark secret I’m about reveal, in a fit of panic, rage or orgasmic joy, you could knock that drink over and cause untold millions of dollars in collective damage?

If you haven’t checked for said liquids you should. Please remove them from your immediate reading area now.

Thanks. Did you also wipe up that little water sweat ring that forms when you put down a cold drink on a warm surface? If not, you should do such now. (That directive has little to do with this blog and everything to do with my having lived with a clean-freak for the last 600 years.)

Now, onto the revelation. DRUMROLL PLEASE …

My wife played Everquest with me!

No one was held at gunpoint, the lives of kittens did not hang in the balance.

She willingly agreed to play Everquest with me.

This came about because of reasons.

Like many couples, we try to do something together that’s just us once a week. Also, like many couples, that quickly devolves into, “Let’s sit our fat-asses on the couch and watch a movie together because that’s easy.”

One particular Saturday she suggested I watch some “chick flick” with her and I jokingly said something to the effect of “Only if you spend the same amount of time next Saturday playing Everquest with me.”

She, to my befuddlement, agreed. I spent the next two hours watching a movie about a couple who were clearly meant to be together, but who were separated by circumstance, then eventually come together, break up and then, and this is the shocking part, get back together to live happily ever after.

I did this without making rude comments or pointing out the absurdity of the situation. I don’t know how I did it either. I think I did it by thinking about how I would introduce her to online gaming while appeared to give a shit about the upwardly mobile woman in the movie and her romantic interest.

I do remember thinking, “How the hell am I going to do this?”

When I asked her what kind of video games she had played in the past, she said Pong. That was the last, and it turns out, only video game she’s ever played.

Pong, as in two pixilated sticks batting a pixilated ball back and forth across a, presumably, black and white television that used actual vacuum tubes.

I considered reminding her of her short stint with “Words with Friends” but thought better of it.

Evercrack, World or Dorkness, and all of these role-playing games are not that complicated, at a basic level. All online games are routinely mastered by legions of racist/homophobic 13-year-olds, as any online gamer can attest.

I don’t know if I should have set her down with a large white board for a 45-minute class about computer gaming in general and online gaming specifically or what, but I did realize that my wife was not so much a gaming partner as she was a gaming student.

Like this?

Like this?

Look, like it or not, most online fantasy-type games can be linked to Dungeons and Dragons. For those not familiar with the concept of Dungeons and Dragons, let me give you the Reader’s Digest version.

Dungeons and Dragon’s founder Gary Gygax basically read a crapton of fantasy novels and then physically had sex with all of the books. Really, Gygax carved a hole into each book and made sweet, sweet love to each of them.

The product of that coupling are today’s online games with racist/homophobic 13-year-olds somehow added into the mix.

Gygax basically codified the whole thing. He wrote down that Gandolf was a wizard, wizards are smart. Bilbo was a thief, thiefs are sneaky, Aragorn is a ranger, rangers are fast and good with bow and arrow. Trolls are on the internet making people angry. That kind of shit.

Yet, my wife has never heard of Gary Gygax and I’m pretty sure she’s slept through every one of my monthly drunken, “Hey let’s watch the Lord of the Rings until I pass out” super fun events.

There’s tons of better, more in-depth source material out there if you’re interested, but in a nut shell most (not all) online games have a variety of classes (think job or purpose) that a player takes on while playing the game. All players have to choose a class or their online character is unemployed and is forced to watch a lot of daytime TV.

My first task was to introduce my wife to the concept of “classes.” Everquest has a handy summary page that outlined what each class did and she, while rolling her eyes, read it. She decided on the enchanter. Which was great, until she decided that her race (yeah, these games have races like elves, dwarfs, trolls and ogres) was going to be troll. When I explained to her that certain races had restrictions on what class they could be and that trolls weren’t allowed to be enchanters she declared the game to a racist bunch of bullshit. Which still cracks me up.

An appropriate race was selected and a few moments later we were in the game!

I was excited and had like 87 nerd boners all at the same time.

She was in the game’s tutorial and she wanted to read every bit of instruction the tutorial provided. I’ve been playing this shit for years and quickly jumped into “facilitate her learning process.”

Are you laughing at that last sentence? You’re laughing aren’t you? If not you should be.

She later described me as basically a drill sergeant for dorks.

“Push that button! Move the mouse like this! There will be an inspection of your copper pieces at 0400 and control your DPS until the tank has positive control, no not like that, like this!”

Yeah, I had decided people who are paid money to think though the intricate and detailed process of introducing someone to a complex game were idiots and that I knew better.

The high points from my CliffNotes tutorial were that she equated her inventory with her character’s closet and, for her, the basics of movement in the game was like watching a drunk baby attempt to walk. WASD (the keys on the keyboard that control your characters movement) were lost on her. Even now, a few weeks in, her skill at using the keys is barely at the level of a toddler that’s had too much sugar and who knows … I’m really crappy with baby analogies.

When I asked her the next day if she had fun her answer was, “I don’t know.”

She explained that she had no idea what she was doing and was just following my directions. Nothing about what she did at my direction made sense. She had pressed the number 1 on the keyboard because I told her too, not because she understood doing so caused her character to perform an action that was associated with the number 1 key.

Crestfallen, I asked if she would be kind enough to give it another try later.

She agreed and I went back to the drawing board.

I asked my guild for help, because fuck you I’m in a guild. But they were no help. Most of their advice ranged from how effective the enchanter was at high-end raiding, to mocking me for mistakenly referring to another (male) guild member as “hun” several weeks back. (That’s fucking hysterical! ~Fran)

The next time Dagmar and I played she picked a Ranger and I let her read every damned thing the tutorial had to offer. If the tutorial talked about how you could load a CD into the computer’s CD tray in order to listen to music, I let her read it. Years ago Everquest had an online feature that allowed you to order a real life pizza through some national chain. If that was briefed in the tutorial, she fucking read it because I butted the fuck out. I was there for any questions she had, but otherwise I kept my too-clever-by-half mouth shut.

It seemed to be working. She understood that she needed to attack the monsters with little to no prompting from yours truly. She grasped, on a basic level, the difference between a melee attack, a ranged attack and a spell attack.

What I mean to say is that things progressed. In a month or two I could see her and I having adventures in Everquest together. Fighting against the evil side-by-side. Dagmar’s ranger, Lordana, and I would eventually be fighting side-by-side, questing, slaying rare evil beasts and amassing great treasures. It would be our thing you see, our little fun thing to do on Saturdays when the weather was shitty.

Progress had been made, she still had a lot to learn, but that would come with time. This plan was going great. She dinged level 14 and asked if she needed to get new spells. She attacked the monster I was currently fighting instead of dragging every other monster within a 50-mile radius into the battle. She understood that the blue pants I have were better for her “Armor Class” than the green ones, even if she thought the green ones looked better on her character’s butt.

This was going great. I felt like we’d reached a common ground. I vowed to myself that any shitty chick flick she wanted to watch I’d try my hardest to enjoy, because clearly we had much more in common than I’d thought. After all, here we were, 17 decades into our marriage and she’d tried and liked, and was becoming skilled at something I enjoyed for the first time in the history of Toddmar.

Until this Sunday when I overheard her talking to our daughter on the phone.

“Yeah, we’re playing the game together,” she said.

Mumble mumble, I heard from her daughter through the shitty iPhone held to Dagmar’s ear.

“No, what? No, it’s fucking stupid. What? No I’m only doing it because he loves it so much when I do.”

So, anyone want to play Everquest?