Chicago in Winter, Part II: Snow Games

The 7th hole, ready for action.

This day marks the 29th anniversary of the unsuccessful SNOW GAME that didn't occur so long ago. Some memorable things happened on that wintry jazz band trip to Chicago in January, 1982 (you might wanna read THIS first), not that Da-da can remember much of them. Here's one he does remember.

If you recall from said previous post... Young Master Da-da, a high school senior at the time, played trumpet in his high school jazz ensemble, which was awarded a no-expenses paid trip to Chicago -- in late January -- along with the opportunity of providing a free performance for a bunch of (drunken) jazz educators and mafia types at the '82 NAJE convention. Play they said and play we did.

After the hoopla, we had a few days to ourselves. Being from Southern California, none of us jazz geeks had ever been exposed to REAL winter, so we were eager to experience it first hand. Needless to say, it was a whole order of magnitude colder than anything any of us had experienced, and it was a miracle none of us didn't die.

So, there we were, the day after the big performance, sitting around our luxurious hotel lobby...

Low ceilings inspire confidence and thoughts of mayhem.

...at our sumptious former-Soviet-bloc-inspired hotel in lovely Des Plaines.

Can you FEEL the fun?

We were more than just a touch bored. And as all substitute teachers know, nothing is more dangerous than BORED BAND GEEKS. You've heard of Kim Jong Il? Stalin? Blofeld? Amateurs. 

We resolved to try some scientific experiments involving extreme weather. First up: could we run across the street without jackets -- in t-shirts and shorts -- in minus-30-degree weather to the McDonalds, get hot chocolates for everyone, and run back unscathed. Easy, right?

Getting across the street wasn't so bad, though Young Da-da's teeth were chattering once we hit the McDonald's double doors. The people inside looked at us like we were escaped mental patients, but we took that in stride. (Jazz musicians as a whole are an odd lot, and are used to people looking at them in strange ways.) There were six of us, and we each ordered four hot chocolates, triple bagged them, placed them under our shirts to keep them warm, and ran like hell across the street to deliver... ice cold hot chocolates to our compadres. Ok, Mother Nature 1, Jazz Geeks 0.

That  night, after a late dinner and some poker till midnight, we decided we needed to test the weather gods again with a game of football on the frozen tundra/golf course that lay immediately behind the hotel. This would be fun, we thought, we'll just bundle up...

Da-da's first step out into the night-time cold was a shock, despite all the layers and the gloves and hats and long underwear -- and the custom heavy coat my grandmother had made me (she made jackets for a living). Chicago wind cuts through you like nothing else, and it was HOWLING. Da-da could barely see through the scarf wrapped around his eyes. Undaunted, we trudged up to one of the sandtraps and then noticed that no one brought a football, so we decided to jump into a snow-filled sand trap for fun, for about an hour.

Toward the end of this silliness, an Illinois State Trooper's car pulled up about forty feet away. We immediately stopped our frolic to watch. The door to the police cruiser cracked open and billows of glowing STEAM poured from the car, and from that hellish miasma emerged a rotund constable in a leather jacket, head bare. At the time, Young Da-da thought that only an Act of God would get this cop out of his car at 1:00 am in the freezing cold of January, but there he was.

He looked at us for a moment, then shouted above the wind:


"PLAYING IN THE SNOW!" We yelled back.

The officer digested this. "ARE YOU FROM CALIFORNIA?" he shouted.

We smiled (not that he could see our faces) and yelled, "YES!" How did he know? we wondered.

He shook his head, got back in his car and drove away. Jeez, if we'd said we were from Joliet, would he have saved us? Let the California idiots freeze.

After he left, a few of the sillier members of our insane snow posse decided to run and slide on what was normally a docile golf course water hazard -- turned hazardous ice rink. One thing led to another and one of our members, a trombone player, got clumsy and went down, hard -- on his head. Just before this happened, Young Master Da-da had suggested we go back in as Da-da was starting to feel kinda woozy -- both symptoms of hypothermia (mental confusion, stumbling), but since we were confused and stumbling most of the time, anyway, this was a tough one to diagnose. Anyway, we got the guy up and went back inside.

Inside the hotel's back double doors, we inspected the bone player's head wound... needed stitches. And he's loopy as hell. This meant only one thing: we had to wake up a band parent fast, the one who was a nurse. (This is the same band parent who knocked on our door in a previous post, to inquire as to why we ordered a new key for our room and several trashcans full of ice.) Needless to say, we were deeply busted. She butterflyed the guy's wound and chastised us mildly, explained the symptoms and dangers of hypothermia, and Duh.

This hard-boiled RN fixed Young Da-da and Co. with her cold blue eyes and informed us that the National Weather Service had issued an alert for our area, as it was the coldest night on record for Illinois in January. No wonder my head had started hurting. Turned out it was 98 degrees below zero with the wind chill factor. Da-da was then informed AGAIN about the symptoms of hypothermia and being stupid and how we all should all be dead, we had so little sense.

She was right, o'course. (Never argue with a nurse.) What we did was quite dangerous. But at least the brain damage from that night readied Da-da for parenthood, which is basically non-stop brain damage. 

[Da-da's only regret is that he didn't get a picture of that cop surrounded by all that steam. He probably still tells the story of the idiots from CA.]


Chicago in Winter, Part I: THE STING

This week marks the anniversary of a controversial event that transpired almost 30 years ago, so Da-da feels that it's safe to tell the truth about what happened. You all know who you are.

It was 1982. Young master Da-da was a high school senior, and second/jazz trumpet in his high school jazz ensemble (yes, Da-da was a band geek), the "jazz" designation meaning Young Da-da got most of the trumpet solos, though he probably didn't deserve them. Da-da's high school jazz band had been named #1 high school jazz band in the nation by NAJE (The National Association of Jazz Educators) and Downbeat Magazine, based on a recording we submitted, and were invited to attend the 1982 NAJE Convention in Chicago in late January to perform with Buddy Childers before about 5000 jazz educators, press and the general public. It was a pretty big deal for us. (We almost got to play before then-unknown Wynton Marsalis, but he had a problem with the stage manager and refused to perform. We later got to open for Tower of Power, but Da-da digresses.)

[Quick side note: Young Da-da's parents were kind enough to scrape together enough moolah to supplement what young master Da-da had already earned during the excruciating band promotion of selling CHEESE door to door. Yes, CHEESE. ("Hi. Would you like to buy some CHEESE?").]

Being originally from Southern California, Young Master Da-da had never been exposed to REAL winter; the coldest it ever got where he lived was about 30 degrees. So when the band hit Chicago O'Hare on a late January afternoon -- it was 19 below, or minus 37 with the windchill -- it never occurred to Young Da-da that he might need a jacket or a scarf. While waiting for his luggage to appear, Young Da-da walked outside through the double doors and took a deep breath of wintry Chicago... and had to be dragged back inside, hacking and coughing as all his mucous had frozen solid. What a moron. Welcome to real winter, dummy.

The Set-up

After checking in to our hotel in Des Plaines, Da-da experienced a minor shock. He and his best friend, Ivan (lead alto), had paid extra so they wouldn't have to room with four guys (anyone who's roomed with four guys will understand why), but the hotel was full, so our band director gave our room to his parents (on us, as we were never re-imbursed; this kinda thing happened a lot in our band). Young Da-da and company were pissed, but our pissed-offedness expanded exponentially when we discovered that we were paired for the night with the Streudel brothers, Mike and John. The Streudels were actually really nice guys, but they were brothers, and consequently bickered like brothers. Ivan and Young Da-da secretly vowed vengeance for this hotel room travesty, but alas, the only people they could take it out on were the Streudel brothers.

The Wire

We checked out the room. It was basic, with two beds. Being a polar bear by nature, Young Master Da-da immediately opened the window... and closed it just as fast: the temperature had plunged to 20 below. For fun, Da-da suspended a can of Pepsi out the window by a wire, and left it out there for about 20 minutes, pulled it back into the room... it was frozen solid. Like the Grinch, this was to give the future Man Called Da-da an idea... an awful, terrible idea.

The Hook

The next day, the hotel opened up a little and Young Da-da and Ivan received the room they'd paid extra for. However, the two were still pissed about the room, not to mention the painful memory of the Streudel brothers in matching tighty whities. Standing in their new room, they realized that THEY STILL HAD KEYS TO THE STREUDEL BROTHERS' ROOM. [Insert diabolical laughter.]

So, while the Streudel brothers were out with the rest of the brass section at dinner, Young Master Da-da and his evil friend Ivan snuck into the Streudel brothers' room, turned off the heat and opened the windows. Why you were able to open windows in Chicago in the dead of winter is a thing Da-da will never understand. Anyway, they took all the pillows from their cases and defenestrated them (that is, threw them out the window), saving the pillow cases. While the room chilled, they ran downstairs, out the double doors, stuffed fresh powdery snow into all the pillow cases, poured water over them (which instantly froze) to ensure a nice pillow shape, then ran back upstairs to their newly created ice box. Inside, the temperature was about 1. The evil geniuses then placed the snow pillows on the two beds and left -- leaving the windows open and the heat off. Tired, the two had a quick bite and went to bed in their own room.

The Sting

Here's what transpired, confirmed by first-person accounts. When The Streudel brothers returned to their room and found it freezing, heat off, the windows open, they did what any normal person would do: they closed the windows and cranked the heat, then went for hot chocolate; they stayed out a little longer than they expected. Upon returning, they quickly readied themselves for bed in their now toasty room, as they were exhausted. Da-da's mental image has them both diving simultaneously into their respective hotel beds, clad in their matching tighty whities... and splashing into icy baths of slush and ice water.

The Shut Out

Blissfully unaware of all this, Young Master Da-da and Ivan were rudely awakened at 2:00 am by a band parent, a hair-curlered mom in pink housecoat looking none-too-happy. Ivan answered the door, which was bolted and chained from the inside so no one would've been able to open it even with the key.

"Did you boys order another room key for your room?" she asked. We denied this, having been asleep. "Well, these boys were caught trying to get a key to your room."

We peered sleepily into the hallway and saw an angry queue of the Streudel brothers and a few lacky trombone players bundled up and looking sheepish, toting large garbage cans full of ice. Young Master Da-da and Ivan looked at each other and donned our INNOCENT faces and asked what was going on? Was anyone hurt? We've done nothing but sleep, mom. The band parent then busted the bundled and left the innocents alone to sleep. To this day, no one's been able to figure out who committed such a heinous act.

The Aftermath

The later NAJE stage performance itself was a little horrifying. Young Master Da-da had a long feature solo (in a song entitled, "Nobody Cares But Da-da"; so true) and had to stand out front of the band before 5000+ people, which was even more terrifying since he was exhausted and bleary-eyed from screwing around. Needless to say, he used a bit too much vibrato (hands shaking like crazy), but the drunk band director's wife later said he sounded FINE. (Thanks, Margo.) Young Master Da-da also spaced out during one tune with Buddy Childers and DIDN'T TAKE THE CODA [gasp], dropping a loud note-bomb in a quiet section. [Image: Smoking rubble. Voice #1: "What happened?" Voice #2: "He didn't take the coda."]

In retrospect, Da-da regrets a lot of things. He regrets not getting enough sleep and preparing better for his performance. He regrets not dealing with the near-paralyzing fear of standing naked before 5000 people. And he regrets not being upfront about The Prank... but Da-da still giggles like a little girl about getting away with it. Mike and John Streudel, Da-da eagerly awaits that big trash can full of ice. Jeez, any feeling at all these days is entirely welcome. All told, this event at least gave Da-da his inevitable tombstone:

We had more chilling adventures, but Da-da will save them for... Chicago in Winter II. Read on.


Thank You, Don Rosenbrock

Considering that Da-da's not only a ranking child wrangler and veteran stun-tag-and-releaser, but also The Chef de Resistance, his only New Year's Resolution for 2011 involves writing more about food -- not foofy food with bizarro ingredients, or the eating of foofy food with bizarro ingredients, or the turning of foofy food with bizarro ingredients into annoying theater, or the ripping of anyone who makes/eats foofy food with bizarro ingredients into annoying theater, Lloyd. No.

Da-da's food posts will be for people who have to feed ravenous, bottomless-pit children, usu. multi-boy families, HUNGRY MONSTER BOYS MY GOD LOOK AT THE BONES, not to mention beleaguered Mr. Moms who don't count anyway. Above all, these posts are for Da-da, because no one appreciates Da-da like Da-da. C'mon, after doing all the hominid courting and breeding and growing and feeding and educating and gerunding, Da-da is now SO-OO back of the bus. Last seat. Face pressed up against the window. But enough about Da-da's socio-economic status. Let's back wa-aay up and try to ease the hyphenation.

Da-da's parents are from the midwest (someone had to be), and consequently weren't exposed to a plethora of thrilling cuisine. They're from Meat and Potatoes Land, with a spattering of southern cooking influences... and they NEVER ate pasta growing up. (For thrills, they ate RICE.) But once they moved to Southern California in the late fifties, those provincial bets were off. Indeed, later, they became trained chefs in their own right.

So, it wasn't surprising that, when Da-da was only six, he'd never had linguini and meatballs; the only pasta he'd ever had was spaghetti. And he'd certainly never experienced real parmesan cheese; young master Da-da thought parmesan cheese came in a tall green can filled with Italian sawdust.

Enter a man named Don Rosenbrock. One of Da-da's parent's co-workers, Don invited us over for dinner one January night in 1970. Don was cooking in his kitchen, plying some red sauce and garlic and various meats and green things that he chopped and cajoled and squished between this fingers. Weirder still, Don was doing this while playing his, "HAIR!", album from 1968. (Don kinda looked like the cover, as Da-da recalls.)

Being the product of two Republican bankers, I'd never heard this kind of music before, as it was considered, "hippie" (anything that smacked of, "hippie," was not a good thing in my family). Anyway, the chef was cooking something alien and listening to something incomprehensible and catchy and Da-da was intrigued to say the least. Don watched Young Master Da-da peruse his freakish, left-wing record collection (what, no Sinatra? no Mantovani?), when he asked if Da-da had ever had, "stinky feet cheese." Nothing grabs a six-year-old's attention like a word salad of, "stinky," "feet" and "cheese."

Young Da-da expressed ignorance and noticed that his dad was also looking bemused. Don then showed us our first-ever wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano -- bigger than our TV -- while plating mounds of linguini and meatballs and topping them with freshly grated parmesan. I took my first bite...  and suddenly felt like Christopher Columbus after discovering a great chili burger stand in Columbus, OH.

To this day, linguini and meatballs serve as Da-da's, "grounding meal," bringing everything back down to simple, affordable, earthy yumminess. And last Da-da noticed, the world needs more simple, affordable, earthy yummy groundingness. Anyway, the recipe is below. Enjoy.

Da-da's Linguini and Meatballs


2 lbs each, ground beef and sausage
Handful of mint
Handful of flat-leaf parsley
6 cloves garlic
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1 large egg
1/2 c. grated parmesan
Salt and pepper

Sauce (see below)

Secret ingredient
Decent dry red wine
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Place a sheet of foil on a jellyroll pan and smear with about a 1/4 c. of olive oil. Meanwhile, dump the above ingredients -- save for meat and sauce -- into a food processor and process till you have a green mealy mixture. Pour mixture over meat in a large bowl. Add egg, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix with your hands until homogenous, then roll into 2" balls, arranging them evenly on the jellyroll pan. Bake for 20 minutes on one side, turn over and bake another 25 minutes. Should make something like 18 meatballs. Mint is the first secret ingredient that Da-da stole from an old Sicilian grandma who's still looking to strangle Da-da. Bring it on, grandma.

While the meatballs are baking (much less messy than sauteing and just as tasty), set a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Pour about 3 tbls (or three "circles") of olive oil into the pot, then add 4-5 jars of secret ingredient #2: Trader Joes' Marinara Sauce. After decanting the sauce, pour a decent dry red into one of the jars (about a cup of wine), put the lid back on the jar and shake and pour into the next one until you do them all, then pour the last one into the pot. (I know, but Trader Joes' Marinara is good, cheap and fast, and Da-da has enough on his plate, thankyouverymuch; make a sauce from scratch if you must, but the last time Da-da looked, big cans of tomatoes were $4.) Set the sauce to simmer, gently.[NOTE: these days, Da-da mixes TJ's organic basil sauce and its regular basil sauce, as they balance each other out.]

Once the meatballs are done, place them one by one into the sauce and simmer for 1-2 hours (more cooking makes meatballs more tender) -- but not too long, or you're left with a meat sauce! Meanwhile, set a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Da-da usually uses linguini with his meatballs, but any string pasta works; linguini grabs the sauce well. Follow the package directions, then turn off the heat on the sauce and meatballs. Once the pasta's done and drained, get your big plates ready. A bohemian TROLL, Da-da uses glass pie plates, as they're cheap and reminds Da-da of his troll roots. Note: before you plate, turn off the heat and dump a cup of parmesan into the sauce and stir; don't do it earlier, as the cheese will separate and leave a BP oil slick. Onward.

Place a Gorgonesque PLOMP of linguini on each plate, then dole up 2-3 meatballs per person. Slather with more parmesan and eat with garlic-cheese bread and the rest of that red wine and then go sleep it off. And boy will you wake up the next day feeling fortified.

Why so many meatballs, Brunelleschi?


Buy a big loaf of french or sourdough bread, cut it in half so it's still connected, toast it with a bit of the warmed sauce and fresh mozzarella and parmesan, cut some warmed meatballs in half and place them on top of the cheese with a little more warmed sauce, dust with parmesan, broil a bit, and squish it together. Then draw a lo-ooong cold one, or a bottle of red, and camp out in front of Any Game, USA -- or better yet, an old movie -- and take your place in grinder heaven, brother.

And thank you, Don Rosenbrock, wherever you are.


The Man Formerly Known as Chickenbutt

Well, that's just rude.

Da-da's 5 and 7YO boys love his sophisticated tale -- they should, they pretty much wrote it -- a dialectic extrapolation of the 13 Words That Make Little Kids Laugh. Da-da thought he'd share since it seems to always get laughs from the kinder crowd, even though the character development is anemic, the imagery thin, and the metaphors offered as soggy little tea sandwiches. Demographics beyond the aforementioned age group will probably just stare at you -- unless they're stoned, which they all are after age eleven.

[Performance Note: "Sit" on each silly bolded word for extra laughs. Da-da also employs a variety of accents, his thoroughly researched backwoods drawl the biggest laugh-getter, though some words take practice. It helps to channel Sam Elliott, especially in the pace... you know, kinda like you do everyday, already. And use your hands to demonstrate the eavesdroppers' slapstick.]

The Man Formerly Known as Chickenbutt
by A Man Called Da-da
There once was a man with a very silly name that hardly anyone ever said out loud. His name was Bighonkin Chickenbutt. He lived and worked outside the dark woods of Dribblestinkie, where he could be found every day making succotash for aardvarks. Somebody had to.
One day, Chickenbutt met a shy girl with red hair and red glasses. To him, she seemed very pretty. After weeks of sharing funny looks, Chickenbutt got up his courage and walked up to her. He suddenly realized he'd have to introduce himself and tell her his name. Then he saw a group of rude townsfolk standing within earshot. He knew they'd laugh at him if they heard their conversation, but he found his courage, gulped and lowered his voice.

"Um, hi. I'm... [Brghrnkn]."

"What?" the girl asked. "I couldn't hear you." Her voice was kind, birdlike with a bit of raspberry. The eavesdroppers craned their necks.

Bighonkin cleared his throat. "Ahem. Most call me... Chickenbutt." The girl smiled, but did not laugh. The eavesdroppers snickered quietly. "But you can call me Bighonkin."

"How do you do?" she said, still not laughing for some reason. "What brings you to our fair town?"

"I work at the Dribblestinkie rutabaga factory... making succotash... for aardvarks."

The eavesdroppers tried hard not to laugh out loud, shoving fists in their mouths and pulling jackets over their heads.
"How fascinating," the girl said, sincerely. Encouraged, Bighonkin asked the girl her name.
"My name is... Aimnotta," she said. Nearby, an eavesdropper snorted in the bushes.

Bighonkin thought this an odd name. "Aimnotta," he said. "Aimnotta what?"

"Aimnotta OoglyUnderpants," she said. One eavesdropper laughed and fell into a corn bin. Another laughed so hard he fell off a roof (BONK). "I teach at the Flabberbingball School for Wombats. We train them to use teeny tiny toilets."

The eavesdroppers howled, falling over themselves in the street, laughing. One tripped into a pickle barrel. Eventually, they all passed out. In the silence, Bighonkin moved closer to Aimnotta.

"I know this is sudden, but will you marry me?" Bighonkin asked.
"That would make me... Aimnotta Chickenbutt," she said, making a face. An unconscious eavesdropper lying in the dusty dirt road laughed once and was silent. "It's not very dignified, I'm afraid."

Bighonkin thought a moment. "What if we both changed our names to one we found more agreeable?"
Aimnotta smiled, nodded and took his hand. "Then the answer is yes. Wait till you taste my chickenhead poof-cake!"
And so it came to pass that Bighonkin Chickenbutt of Dribblestinkie married Aimnotta OoglyUnderpants of Flabberbingball. The next day they legally changed their last names and traveled to a new county for a time, where they started a new family. Years later, longing for home, they moved to nearby Whackenpoof Prefecture in SquirrelButt Township. The local newspaper ran a story about the newcomers:
SquirrelButt Welcomes Underpants-Heads
Locals welcomed Aimnotta and Bighonkin Underpants-Head to SquirrelButt yesterday with open arms. The Underpants-Heads bring with them all manner of rutabaga and succotash thingies, as well as wombat-style teeny-tiny toilet training for SquirrelButt farmers everywhere. Additionally, Aimnotta Underpants-Head's new Squirrelbutt bakery boasts her award-winning chickenhead poof-cake.

Their children, Stinky, Whomper, Jiggerbutt, Gooberbooby and Robo-stinkie 
Underpants-Head start Boom-Pickle Elementary in the fall. 
The End. Finally.
Yeah. Da-da knows. It's Proust for pre-schoolers. Try reading this to a group of kindergartners though, and you'll knock 'em dead.


The Sandworm Vote, Part 2: Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey

Da-da gives Sandy some political pointers.

Some wag sent Da-da a message asking if he was LEFT or RIGHT. For the record, Da-da is a DA-DA, a beleagured, highly trained, no-neck lawn gorilla (read KID) wrangler-ninja -- IN 3D -- who cares little for controlling anything save for his tiny patch of real estate, and only then to make small beings eat, sleep, do their homework, and not turn out like most politicians. That said, when it comes to political direction, Da-da's riding a giant sandworm that's about to eat both Right and Left. Why? 'Cause Da-da's the founding member of The Sandworm Party, Mr. Bond.

Sandworms have an extensive laundry list of winning attributes. They consume everything (esp. if it has cheese on it). They poop an addictive, mind-altering substance (nicknamed, "the spice") that's kinda like peyote and ayahuasca and LSD and carne asada and cinnamon rolls... served with that yummy civet coffee, mmm. They make great rumbling sounds when they approach, making everyone yell, "RUN!" They're not annoying (though they are deadly). They don't make speeches. They don't encourage people to kill or subjugate other people. They unify ("RUN!"). And best-of-all: they're fictional. Which is why Da-da's all over them like CHILI on a DOG.

As if that weren't enough, sandworms also create huge amounts of oxygen (due to the friction from zooming through sand and trailer parks at high speed), thus solving all global warming woes. Take a deep breath! And sure, they eat and pretty much destroy everything in sight, but then again, so does the U.S. Government. At least the sandworms won't lie to you while they do it. AND the press conferences wind up with all the media being devoured, dropped screaming into an alchemical maw! ("Hey, Rupert! Hold this thumper!") But...  best of all: NO SANDWORM TAXES. Nope. Not one. Save for the fact that they eat pretty much everything on the surface of the planet that moves or vibrates. Could be worse. They could incorporate. And at least sandworms don't dance and wave flags when an "enemy" dies. No bloodlust. No "justice." They just eat you and, "move forward."

To get you all used to the idea, Da-da's gone so far as to create a SANDWORM CAT to act as your personal (un)disposable political saviour. Isn't he cute? (HINT: don't pet him.)

(Factually, someone sent that image to Da-da, so it belongs to someone else, BUT Da-da doesn't know who. If this is yours, let Da-da know and he'll give you ample credit.)

[Read "The Sandworm Vote, Part 1."]


Da-da Salutes...

This day, Da-da salutes Marty, as well as anyone who makes it their business to unify. Why are so many unifiers killed? What wants us divided, and why? Da-da knows the answer, but wonders if you've thought about it. (And no, it's not THE DEVIL. The devil is a blue-screen laptop.)

Marty had FOUR kids, not to mention his wife and family. Perhaps future gunmen-wannabes should think about the families they leave without a Da-da or Ma-ma. Try imagining the look in all those eyes before putting your hand to a weapon or bomb. (Are you reading this MKULTRA controllers and controllees?) Like the parole board said, "You're only hurting yourself with this rambunctious behavior." How can any flag or silly idea justify that?

DAMN. Blue Honky Da-da's bringing me DOWN, man... and Marty wants us UP.

Wellsir, nothing made Marty laugh like an AMC-Pacer-load o' honkies hair-whappin' to Freddy.

Fig. 1: Classic midwestern HONKIES "getting down."


Da-da's Transient Awardage Potentiality

Da-da LOVES ball-polishing popularity contests. He really does. Really. That said, Da-da's been nominated for three 2011 Blogger's Choice Awards. No idea if this means anything, but what the hell. Vote if you feel compelled.

2011 Best Parenting Blog

2011 Best Humor Blog

2011 Hottest Daddy Blogger

FYI, as evidenced by that last one, note that Da-da is exceptionally HOT -- in a Lebowski kinda way, man.


Here Comes the BRI--IIIEIAAEIEEE!!!

A topical, cautionary tale for those moving inexorably toward WEDDING SEASON. You know who you are. Good luck. We're all counting on you. (What's this got to do with the Aflockalypse? Shhh, wait for it.)


Da-da used to be a classical and jazz musician, and like many quasi-respectable musicians trying to survive in this big ugly unmusical world, Da-da was forced to play theme parks, malls (ug), bank openings (double ug), funerals... and of course, WEDDINGS. No one likes to play weddings. Da-da bursts into flame if he hears, "GREENSLEEVES" (what Da-da used to call, "GREENSNEEZE"), "JESU, JOY OF MAN'S PERSPIRING" -- or the worst: PACHELBEL'S, "CANON IN D MAJOR." Kill Da-da now. (Many is the time Da-da has gone back in time to hit Pachelbel in the head with a shoe.) Sure, these are beautiful pieces of music IF YOU HEAR THEM ONCE; hear them a thousand times and you start donning the musical jackboots.

Having played too many weddings (more than one is too many), Da-da knows that weddings are NOT about the bride and groom. They're about everyone else, a celebration of your blessed union. So, get married and shut up. Just try telling the bride that.

Given hideous amounts of power over others by tacit agreement, brides are forces of nature to be feared. Say, "bride," to Da-da and he heads for the hills. There's no more spoiled and monstrous entity anywhere. Even Bronko and Nagurski run from brides. Except for those rare, cool, "Snow White" erratics, most Brides want it all, they want it their way -- THE WAY THEY'VE BEEN IMAGINING IT SINCE THEY WERE LITTLE PRINCESSES -- and they want it now, you bastard. Where's the bride's chainsaw? That's not to say that all bridal requests are unreasonable. Some are more high maintenance than others, depending on budget; budget goes up, high maintenance-ness goes up.

Now, before Da-da gets to The Event, you need to know something about musicians. They are experts at laughing silently. Any musician who can't is quickly weeded out and sent to Nordstrom to sell women's shoes (and a quick humorectomy). Musicians need to be able to do this so they don't interrupt a performance, and because funny things happen all the time that the audience can't see. So.

The Event

Picture a rare winter wedding, already in progress. A huge church is flowing in flowers and wedding guests. The ceremony is almost over, and Da-da and a handful of musicians -- perched in an apse -- are awaiting the bride and groom's kiss, so they can begin the little recessional piece of music that's played as the bride and groom head off to recess. Da-da can't remember what it's called; he's blocked it out. Anyway, at the ultimate moment, when the freshly married bride and groom are turned by the guy in the collar toward the audience for the first time, "wedding helpers" were supposed to release scores of doves INTO THE CHURCH. Not sure how they afforded managed to talk the pastornator into that one. Doves were to be released and fly about while the band played on and little fuzzy bunnies fell from the heavens. But it didn't turn out quite that way.

You see, some genius failed to poke holes in the bird boxes. You know, so the birds could breathe. Just like toddlers and ninjas and camels, birds need AIR. So, at the ultimate moment, poised to wield a righteous downbeat onto the assembled assemblage, the band watched as two burly guys dumped dead doves all over the bride.

The band immediately lost it. Da-da is laughing right now. However, we didn't make a sound. Everyone else was petrified, rooted to their respective spots, while we awaited bridezilla's meltdown.

It never came. The bride looked at the band losing it and burst out laughing.

All the air leaked out of hundreds of pairs of lungs that had been holding breath for something like a minute, and the laughter wheezed out. Yes, it was a miracle. We were beholding that rarest of creatures, THE BRIDE WITH A SENSE OF HUMOR. She and the wedding party proceeded to take all their wedding photos while toting dead birds for the camera, putting them on their shoulders, their heads, wearing them for earrings... Da-da even used one as a trumpet mute to great effect.

So. In terms of weddings -- esp. as we're on the cusp of wedding season planning -- a little advice. Less is more. The above music sucks. A sense of humor is more important than anything else in existence. And PLEASE, poke holes in the boxes.


The Sandworm Vote, Part 1

People ALWAYS ask Da-da: what's your favorite monster? That's easy.


The one from Frank Herbert's, DUNE, which still exhibits better writing than most books today.

Then they ask Da-da who he's voting for. For 2012. (Why they're asking Da-da this so far from the damn elections tells you a lot about how silly politics have become in this country.) Who is Da-da going to vote for? That's easy.


Like Sarah Palin, a sandworm is not only insensate, it also: eats everything; poops an addictive mind altering substance; is impervious to nearly everything (except water); makes this great rumbling sound when it approaches making everyone yell, "RUN!"; is worshipped by religious whackos in robes and snuggies and suits, etc. UNLIKE Sarah Palin, the sandworm is not annoying, it doesn't encourage people to kill other people, it unifies ("RUN!"), and best of all, it's fictional, which is why Da-da's voting for it. As for all initiatives... FYI, Da-da votes YES on NO, and NO on YES. We clear now, pollster?

Gotta go. Da-da's 9:00 sandworm is inbound. Grab your hooks, Stilgar, we just created The Sandworm Party.

Sandworms just need more love.

[Read "The Sandworm Vote Part 2: Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey."]


Oh. Right. 1/11/11. So 11 Seconds Ago.

One one one one one... wow. Da-da's numerologist said, "I'm not a numerologist," but added that this was indeed a list of primary numbers. Whoa. SIGNIFICANT. And he's a feng shui networking poobah. SPOOKY. It's Monday, so whaddayawant? Wait... it's TUESDAY. Ack. Like Da-da said... SPOOKY. Can you wait until it's 11/11/11?? AIIEIEEEE! Me, neither.


Fixed Radio Service

This from Da-da's friend Peter's recent visit to check in on his wife's mother (you get all that?), whom Da-da will call, "Iris," despite the fact that Peter's name really is Peter; he doesn't care, as his ninja skills are fresh and springy at 66. Jeez, get to the point, willya?

So, backdrop: Iris is 92, five foot nothin', retired nurse, smokes two packs of camels a day, and goes through two liters of scotch a week. Suffice to say that Iris has what Nick the Bartender would call, "a whisky voice." Iris lives alone most of the time and wouldn't have it any other way. She's also a crack shot, and can skin anything in seconds, living or dead. Don't turn your back on Iris.

Peter was over at Iris' the other day on one of his regular visits, dropping off more booze and cigarettes. (Hey, she's 92 and pissed off, so she can smoke and drink whatever she wants.) Iris lets Peter in and gives him THE EYE (she's aptly named), then points at the new radio Peter got her last week.
Peter: Yes, Iris? Something wrong?

Iris: [points to radio] I don't like this. I want a new one.

[Peter turns it on to see if it works: it does.]

Peter: Why? This one's brand new.

Iris: I want one that gets better stations.

Welcome to Da-da's Fixed Radio Service.


The Aurora Has Been Drinking

For those with clear skies, you might wanna step outside your teepee tonight. The aurora borealis may make a rare appearance at lower latitudes given the sun's continuing dip into southern polarity. Science boy says, "HUH?" Follow me, Timmy.


The Sitter II: A Retrospective Freudian Analysis w/Burned Baloney

Nothing prepares you for what you're going to be like as a parent. People drone on and on about how you'll probably be like your parents, but that's too simplistic and takes into account NONE of the vast, profligate heaps of Freudian baggage you've been amassing across the eons. Case in point: what Da-da calls, "babysitter fear." Few things peg Da-da's Sphinct-O-meter like leaving his children with total strangers. (This fear used to be worse before Da-da completed Bronko and Nagurski's extensive ninja training.)

This anxiety goes wa-ay back to the time Young Master Da-da was babysat one late spring night by Archetypal Teen Babysitter, LINDA, a 16YO neighborhood girl, when Da-da was six. Linda, you know who you are. Da-da should note before we begin that he has what's called an eidetic memory: that is, HE REMEMBERS EVERYTHING... well, until he had kids. Now, HE REMEMBERS NOTHING. Except dumb things that occurred when he was six. Great.

Anyway, Young Master Da-da was not fooled by babysitter LINDA's faux doves-and-bunnies act before mom and dad. And Da-da about came unglued when she tried to put him to bed at 6:00 (interrupting, "Forbidden Planet," which fully activated Da-da's REVENGE circuitry). Prior to this insult, LINDA had made "dinner" for her charge: what she called, "Mexican hats," that is, broiled baloney (BROILED BALONEY?) covered in yellow mustard (what wine would you serve with broiled baloney covered in yellow mustard? VIOGNIER? White zinfandel?)... where was i? Oh, yeah, BROILED BALONEY, krikey, which said babysitter forgot about while yakking on the phone with her long-hair boyfriend, filling the house with acrid, BURNED BALONEY SMOKE. (Da-da can still smell it.) Later, she foolishly assumed Young Master Da-da was asleep (at 7:00?) and snuck out to meet her boyfriend down the street, LEAVING YOUNG MASTER DA-DA HOME ALONE in a house filled with poison, broken glass, dynamite, and toxic burned baloney fumes. Nice.

To make matters worse, this dim bulb failed to notice a six-year-old white ninja -- in glowing white ROY ROGERS PAJAMAS -- tracking her down the street as she schlepped to the water treatment plant around the corner. Why was she going there? Young Master Da-da wondered... Ah.

The water treatment plant had a lush, broad green lawn that the teens used as their May Pole rendezvous field of dreams. The field itself was already packed with teens humping in the moonlight; there must've been twenty couples coupling in early '70s, pre-Burning Man abandon. Linda arrived, found "STEVEN," stripped off all her clothes (seriously), took possession of a very large bong, and boarded the illicit sex train with all the other assembled hippie teens. Young Da-da watched for only a moment. Ok, maybe two moments...

He then went home, found the phone number left on the kitchen counter, and called mom and dad. Once the cavalry arrived, Young Master Da-da walked his parents to the water treatment plant's lawn, toting a police flashlight, and showcased LINDA in full glory. Needless to say, Young Master Da-da pocketed Linda's $20 that night. (And Young Master Da-da watched himself from then on; indeed, Da-da was given a key to the house and was officially a "latch key kid" after that.)

So, it doesn't take Fellini to figure out why Da-da sweats every time he leaves his children alone with little miss perfect (or does it?). Da-da can just HEAR the Freudian archetypes building in their subconsciousnesses. Or maybe that's gas. Either way, it's frightening.


It should come as no surprise that Young Master Da-da's parents were bankers and staunch Republicans (it's actually 10 million times more complicated than that, but Da-da will save that for later), and that 6YO Da-da himself was a miniature goddamn Nixon. He's since regained his sanity, going from Republican, to Independent, to Libertarian, to Democrat, to Silly Party... but it took a while.

Da-da has since performed an intensive Freudian analysis of the entire above event. It's not too tough to figure out. Basically, Young Master Da-da had a crush on LINDA -- who was HOT -- but she snubbed him for "STEVEN" (some long-haired geek who would later direct, "JAWS," what a loser). Additionally, she burned Young Da-da's "BALONEY" (do I have to spell that out for you?), turned off, "FORBIDDEN PLANET," then went and humped the hippie, "STEVEN." Oh, the salamis and handrails.

Despite the fact that it's irresponsible and dangerous to leave a child unattended, for the record, LINDA snubbed a highly accomplished and attractive 6YO who not only had his own car, BUT TWENTY OF THEM. Sure, they were only matchbox cars, but Da-da could do a lot with a little... and we're going to deep-six Freud on that one and move on with our lives, already in progress, while Da-da goes out to buy some sausages and a monster truck.



Behold the latest in grooming convenience from those geniuses at AcmeVaporware, the main supply house for All Things Da-da. Da-da's beard has been shivering all morning...

Advanced Psycho-Consumertronics Section Whips Sheet Off Shocking Personal Grooming System

HIRSUTE, KENTUCKY, January 5, 2011 -- AcmeVaporware Inc. (AVW) today revealed its new GOOGLE-TRAC Razor before a horrified, yet good-natured crowd of beauty & barber science academy graduates. The first overly manic personal grooming system of its type anywhere on earth, the new GOOGLE-TRAC Razor has well over 100 razor-sharp blades that simply dont know when to quit.


The first blade comes in and pulls up the whisker a fraction of a millimeter, while the second blade zooms ahead and pulls it up a little bit more; the third blade then takes up where the second blade left off, while the fourth blade assists the third, working in unison to hoist the whisker’s petard for the deadly FIFTH blade, which helps the sixth do its job, followed by the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth blades that then work in harmony with the next eighty eight blades to FINALLY AND IRREVOCABLY zip-zop that pesky growth right off the face of the earth, with extreme prejudice and malice aforethought.

“We decided to stop screwing around and make a serious LEAP in razor technology profits,” said Dr. John Smallberries, president and CEO of AcmeVaporware. “Other personal grooming system profits only went so far. I mean, the American public will believe literally anything, so why not?” Dr. Smallberries then unleashed the new GOOGLE-TRAC Razor System on the hundreds of unsuspecting barber & beauty school graduates, most of whom were females in their ‘20s. Test subjects’ screams were most impressive.

“Our GOOGLE-TRAC Razor System can be used to boost bottom lines of all types, making it far costlier and more complicated than more conventional gas-powered shaving solutions,” said Dr. John Yaya, Vice President of International Vice Presidential Systems for AVW. “In contrast, other personal grooming systems are short-sighted, cheap and kinda suck. Just wait till you see the prices for our replacement blades! A-HAAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!!!”

“This product has absolutely nothing NOTHING to do with Google,” said Google CEO Barney Google. “Still. I’d still love to have one. Just stop touching me.”

About Google

Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google Google. Jeez, enough about Google already.

About AcmeVaporware

AcmeVaporware, Inc. is an awesome, intergalactic septillion dollar web-based APE monstrosity, providing truly ludicrous and uncompromising physical layer transport and grooming solutions, pseudo-lexiconographical logistics and torpovapor supply-chain fusion thingies to anyone who will stand still long enough for us to draw an X on their forehead, on a scale that makes the collective armies of all the Pharaohs look like a junior high school marching band. Yes, we're talkin' BIG. Information on AcmeVaporware, its internecine technology and personal grooming system arm, and its future profligate amounts of finest-quality miasma are mostly classified. Regardless, its all on acmevaporware.com anyway, so whatever. If you must read more, try this book, which is all about AcmeVaporware and will take your head clean off. It's even in the Library of Congress.

All content and images copyright 1996-2011 and Beyond, AcmeVaporware Inc. AcmeVaporware is a registered trademark of well, AcmeVaporware Inc. All rights reserved. Don’t mess with us. Our attorney takes air baths in malls.

AcmeVaporware scientists KNOW f = ma.


It's SURVIVOR... With a Hug

Da-da doesn't often recommend things that aren't radioactive and ingesting East Rutherford, but the Kratt brothers have a new animal show on PBS that's half live action, half animation, and delivers a lot of engaging information in a short time for kids 4-11. Anyway, here's the description:
A half-hour adventure comedy from Chris and Martin Kratt - adventurers, brothers, zoologists and creators of hit shows such as Kratt's Creatures, Zoboomafoo and Be the Creature. In their first-ever animated series, they are on a mission to save the animals of this planet from the evil Zach Varmitech, who plans to use animal "spare parts" to create a legion of biotech robots that will give him control over nature and the entire planet.
[PBS linky] 
Huh. Kinda like real life, with MONSANTO as evil Dr. Stand-in and Dick Cheney as The Beaver. Anyway, it's well done. The PBS site is pretty good, too. Da-da's been playing on it all day. Right now he's a sloth... wait, he's always a sloth. KRATT!

And NO, Da-da wasn't paid for this. He doesn't accept money -- or geese -- for reviews, sorry.


Eat Your Chicken Sandwich

After a ten second countdown, ignition and lift-off, five-year-old Nagurski, Space Ranger, today loudly announced:

"Attention: We are now in space. If you have a chicken sandwich, eat it now."

(Preferably, a home-made chicken sandwich. Note: no live chickens were injured during this post, though some did go MAD.)
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