Dinosaur Underpants

Just about everything I touched as I crawled into bed from 1994 to 96 was Jurassic Park related: from the bed sheets to my socks, my pillow cases and pajamas, and yes, even my underwear. They had dinosaurs, big "Caution" signs, and random shapes. I remember these bedsheets well. I remember learning how to spell "caution" by reading the words on this. At first I thought it said "cussion," which is gibberish, but to a kid like me still looked pretty badass in that stencil font. I friggin' loved these sheets.

But what's the big fascination with matching outfits and bedsheets as a kid, and what's more, underwear too? Who's cares about that? Don't those "DANGER!" signs take on a whole new meaning when you're wearing them down below? "Danger! About to FART!" And I shouldn't have to tell you where the "Keep Out!" was. (I really hope I'm just joking about this, I don't remember that much detail.)

It's because they're the "underwear that's fun to wear." They're what you wear when you're seven years old and don't give a damn about dignity, you just want to be covered, head to toe, in Raptors and T-Rexes as you snuggle up between sheets of Raptors and T-Rexes. I had no idea that the bedsheets, pajamas, and underwear I had as a kid would eventually be termed "vintage" on Ebay, but now it makes me feel like the dinosaur.

"Naturally you might have dinosaurs on your...on your dinosaur bedspread?" 

Sticker Fever

Throughout elementary school I was a hoarder for stickers. I couldn't pass through the back aisle of a Staples without feeling the itch to clean out the racks. I got stickers for being good, got them with my birthday presents, at retail checkout lines, at the doctor's office (once they let me have the whole roll!). It was a disease. I saw one that looked cool and just had to have it.

I craved all kinds--cars, smileys, balls, clouds, words, animals, signs, flags, planets, aliens, dinosaurs...etc, ones that smelled (scratch and sniff), ones that sparkled, ones that changed color in heat, were plastic and popped up, or had googly eyes, ...etc. For sure, I was sick on the stick.

My teacher used to plant stickers on our assignments with uplifting sayings like "Excellent!" and "A+" when we did a good job on something, and of course I asked about her source. She turned me on to this little outfit called Office Max, which for me became more like "Office Fix." The biggest stash was back with the teacher supplies, that's a pro-tip.

What did I do with my massive collection? I plastered every square inch of the lamp in my room (all around its shade), and covered the top of my dresser. I was forbidden from sticking them on car windows and the walls of my room, but I did anyways. It was a typical pastime similar to stamp collecting but without any hope of them being worth anything in the future. It also ruined a perfectly good lamp and dresser (until they were scraped off), but that's what kids are supposed to do with their furniture.

Apparently it's a real hobby too. It's called "sticker bombing," and you can find people who have covered their cars, walls, radios...etc., with stickers end to end. I didn't know this at the time. People make awesome collages with them, and it's even considered a type of "found art." For me, it gave me something to do as a kid, but when it was time to put that old lamp out to pasture, all those stickers unfortunately went with it. So now I'm about 16 years off the stick (to which I was stuck), and haven't looked back (until now).

Lego Creations

Here's a few pics of some cool Lego works by a cool 8 year old who most certainly isn't a dork. He has kindly submitted them to this blog (with the help of his dad) for all to check out. It looks like an X-wing from Star Wars, and some other ship from the newer movies. 

Great job, Kyle.











Flash, Crash, Rumble and Roll

If you need something to read while you ride out these April showers and scary thunderboomies (the ones I hear as I write this), the 8-year-old me provides you from his warped bookshelf Flash, Crash, Rumble and Roll. This was a book I must have read a hundred times before bed, whether it was raining or not, and it was one that taught me everything I know about thunderstorms and why they're too funny to be afraid of. Well, this, and the scientific fact that thunder is just the sky farting. That's just science.

Look at that cover (the old one I remember). Every page told a funny little story like that. Mom waits at the door of their 20-square-foot abode (attached to a lighthouse!) for blondie and pop who're racing in from a fishing trip gone wrong (everyone gets caught off guard in this book--no Weather Channel apps in those days). Clouds are always these menacing black (not grey...black) lumpy toasted marshmallows, and usually a dog or cat factors in somewhere too. The illustrations always told a story because there wasn't one (other than a storm blowing in, people running from it, and then going out). It was one of those 'educational books' about thunderstorms, as it taught you what to do and especially, what not to do, during one.

Did you know that lightning bolts can be over a mile long? Or that they may come from clouds that are ten miles high? Storms can be scary, but not if you know what causes them. Before the next thunderstorm, grab this book by veteran science team Franklyn Branley and True Kelley and learn what causes the flash, crash, rumble, and roll of thunderstorms!

Let's see, what did I learn? Lesson one, don't take a shower in a thunderstorm, lest you absorb any of those little lightning bolts on the medal shower head and handles. Lesson two, don't sit under a tree, lest lightning strikes it and sends it crashing down on top of you. Pretty dark right? Lesson three, cars are the safest place to be (it's not because of the rubber tires by the way). Lesson four, if you're on a bus coming back from camp during a storm, sing "Found a Peanut." Most importantly though, and I can't stress this enough, after you see a lightning flash, count the seconds until you hear the thunder (to find out how far away it is)... and if there is no time between flash and BOOM, then don't sit near the window and look for flashes!

Grand Theft Lunchbox

I was not one of those kids who did the school lunch deal, which is probably why I've lasted this long. Thinking back, my heart goes out to all those kids forced to eat that stale cheese (with pizza built somewhere into it), meat nuggets of mystery, and the ever-nefarious "brownie" that all seemed to invariably land wrapped in Styrofoam. In many ways though, being a lunchbox kid was worse socially than it was gastro-intestinally. On the mean streets of the lunch room, a war was brewing between the trayers and the baggers, and you did not want to be on the wrong side of that table.

In my day, we didn't have no fancy Vitamin Water to take to school, we had a juice box, and if we didn't have a box, we had a a device known as a thermos that took up all the room in your bag and crushed your sandwich. Opening this juice box was a piece of work, and involved a process similar to poking a baseball bat through a sheet of Saran Wrap. If you poked too soft, it'd never go through. If you poked too hard, you'd have a geyser of punch in your face. With a Thermos though, once you dropped the straw inside, that was it for your ability to extract liquid unless you took the top off and guzzled it like a loser... (guilty as charged).

Food was another story, because if you came in with something good, all the trayers wanted a piece of it. Opening your lunchbox was like driving a Viper through a real seedy part of town. If you got up to get a napkin, you could only expect that someone has jacked your chunky peanut butter sandwich. It was a tough boy-eat-banana-world, devoid of mercy or respect, but to us elementary schoolers, it was a place we called the cafeteria.

Of all the years I spent fighting in the war, only one battle turned out me: 1, bully: 0. Every day I came in, this other kid would take my lunch. If I came in with any sort of candy, it was his. If I came in with a granola bar, it was his. If I came in with nothing but a sandwich, he'd take it and pull out the meat. Every day I had to surrender something. So one day, I decided to get even. My mom gave me confectioner's chocolate to bring in--the real nasty 90% pure ground cocoa kind. Sure enough, the moment he saw chocolate he snatched it up and took a bite. This kid practically puked! His face went sour and he spit it out in a napkin. "Sick! What kind of chocolate you eating man?" I don't ever remember him stealing my lunch again.

You Got a Butt For a Face!

The second grade was full of confused anatomical insults and other factually inaccurate taunts. But the best thing about being a boy (and I preach this because it's the honest truth) is that if they are putting you down one year, they're probably going to be your friends sooner or later. We just don't take things all that seriously because with insults like "Oh yeah? Well you got a BUTT for a FACE!" how can you take that seriously? When the girls insulted you, it was because it was true, because they're better at being cruel and are just more accurate. They say things like "you're fat." We say things like "hey buttface!" It's seriously a case of, yeah, that's the best we've got. Psh! No big deal. "You're a buttface times infinity!"

These boys consisted of that same "flannel gang" of "cool kids" that I described in detail earlier on, and before I made my epic journey to become cool in their eyes, I was assuredly a dork. Once in gym class, we were doing one of those 90's New Age type "exercises" (they just couldn't let us play something that involved winning and losing or else we'd cry) when this battle of wits played out almost poetically. We were split into groups of three, and one had to be the leader and the other two had to mimic his every move. I happened to be the leader that time, and I thought it was kind of cool, being paired with two of the flannel jerks and being "in charge" of them. It was a pure "mwahaha!" moment.

But I quickly undid whatever was cool about it.  In my quest to make them look like idiots, I way overshot the runway. I started out doing these Russian-type kicks on the gym floor, and then got the wise idea to go down flat and do a "snake-like" slither. It was in the middle of my slither that I realized both my little minions were following my lead exactly, hurling light Russian-style kicks at my face! It was a reminder of just what I was up against.

The teasing became more verbal after that, with both of them finding ways to poke fun at my so-called puke-pooling ugliness. It was a time in life where one could get away hurling insults like the old "stare and avert your eyes" jab. One of them, who I naturally ended up becoming friends with a year later, even said after looking at my face for a second, and I quote, "Ah! I'm being blinded by the evil thing!" This happened quite a few times, but I was quite sharp, and retorted the same jab back. It wasn't so much an insult to me as it was just a funny thing to hear and say--that and the old, "Oh my God!" (mouth-dropped, eyes bugged)... which might have prompted me to go "what?" in all seriousness, and to which the reply invariably was, "You got a butt for a face!" How do you respond to a claim like that? You can't. Even if you say "no I don't!" you still look like an idiot for even just debating the subject of your butt face.
 
I could be the acid tongue myself though. A kid came to class with a prescription bottle once and had it propped on the desk in front of him. Someone else asked, "what are those pills for?"  It was the age of Ritalin back then, so just picture three different prescription bottles instead of one for the modern equivalent. He got angry at this and huffed, "They're pills you put in your head to make you stupid!" Now I have to admit, he walked himself right into this one, and I couldn't resist taking him the rest of the way: "Oh? Then you must take a lot of those!"

So I did my share of serving and being served. For example, who could forget the classic bus-ride questionnaires.. "So, have you been PT?" "What's PT?" "Yes or no, have you ever been it?" You'd be tempted to say no, as I was, because it didn't sound good if you were to say yes, but then you'd be mistaken. "No," I said. To which he shot back, "Ew! You've never been potty trained?" You just never knew whether to say yes or no to those things. And who could forget the grand old "open your mouth and close your eyes and I'll give you a big surprise!" Or the "do you know what I think about that?" Prompting a "what?" followed by a rectal explosion of some kind and a smell so bad it could peal the paint off the walls! "Ah... that's what!" he'd say.

Surprisingly enough, this kid became my best friend the first half of 3rd grade. That's the way it is with boys, even the puke-pooling butt-faced booger-brained fart smellers like me.

April Fools Snowstorm

This story is a bit late, but I'll tell it now because if I had told it on the day itself you would've probably thought I was fooling you. Now, being it's a tale from a rather typical boyhood, you're probably thinking, "since when is that foolishness confined to one day?" But I assure you, this has nothing to do with being young and male, for once, so it's not going to be that story.

I don't remember what year it was, but spring was in the air, the flowers were just beginning to bud, everyone had had more than enough of the miserable winter, when all of a sudden God decided to blanket us with an epic snowstorm on none other than April 1st. It has been since known as the April Fools snowstorm, and just as the recent invention of "Thunder Snow" proves there must be a God, this story proves He definitely has a sense of humor.

I remember the tree branches being so caked with snow they hung almost to the ground. The trees caught so much snow that it didn't even really make it to the ground and there were these big empty patches of wet ground under them. That's how fast and hard this snow fell. We got buried, and our April vacation from school began a little early that year. In fact, I remember shadows freezing right to the ground.

Trust me, that happened.

90's Nick, Where Kids Rule!

I like my butt. I especially like sitting on it. And that's exactly what Nickelodeon made me do to it in the 90s. I recently heard someone criticizing shows like iCarly for all the perversity, and it got me thinking, "when wasn't Nickelodeon perverse?" You're talking about a network that got its start with dumping green slime onto unsuspecting kids who said "I don't know.' This is the network that has brought us the surreal, sick depravity of Ren and Stimpy and Invader Zim, the gross-out splashes of Double Dare and You Can't Do That On Television, the trippy post-modernism of Rocko's Modern Life and Adventures of Pete and Pete, the subversive goofyness of Salute Your Shorts and All That, all the bizarre claymation, the existence of puppets of any kind, and all those other assorted surreal clips, shorts, and bumpers where giant orange balls leveled cities and boys turned inside out.

Nick has gone to the teenage girls for sure, but at one time, it was known as the television network for kids that kids actually liked to watch--all the dirt, guts, and grass stains included. If the 80's showed us a Nick that was more about kids watching the world of adults through the travels of a pinball, in shows like Lights Camera Action and Mr. Wizard, mixed in with kiddy sock-puppet shows, the 90's showed us a Nick of slimy, grimy, kooky craziness where kids ruled and adults could take a hike. And you know what? Both still sound awesome. And it wasn't so cut out like that, because the 80's had the early beginnings of what would be the 90's in You Can't Do That on Television, and the 90's had lingering traits of the 80's in shows like Nick News.

The only period where Nick could have been classed as "moralistic" would be the late 80's and early 90's when all those foreign cartoons were filling up the morning slots, like the Lit'l Bits, Maya the Bee, and David the Gnome, and they were great too. At one time, Nick had something for everyone: the kiddies who liked the soft-lined musical sweetening of the foreign cartoons and puppetry weirdness, the older kids who liked the subversive guts-filled, surreal, anti-PC "kid's rule" middle-finger at the yawn-fest of "social graces," and the teens who were just into looking cool and getting their way past their clueless parents (Clarissa Explains it All). Girls were always tough and smart, boys were always goofy and slick, little brothers were dorks, big brothers were buttheads, and sisters were just evil and proud of it.

It was an age where the silly gelled pretty easy with the crazy, the absurd, the downright nasty, and even (at times) the educational, but it was always perverse--because a half hour before the archeology fun of Legends of the Hidden Temple it'd be Wild and Crazy Kids, where kids were sure to be competing to fill a bucket with slime after sitting in a pool of it with a sponge strapped to their butts. Perverseitude is their trademark.