Tag Archives: parenting

Closed The Cover: Interview

The following has been re-blogged by me.  It came from an awesome site found at:


Thank you AshLilee The Bookworm!


Do you remember back in May of 2012 when I read and reviewed a little book called “My Status Update Journey” by Marcus Matherne?  It has been one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time and I highly recommend that you buy and read it immediately if you have not yet bought it and read it.  No excuses about not knowing where to buy it either, you can buy it here for about $14.95 and it’s worth every penny.
Now, that being said, a few days ago I e-mailed Marcus and asked him if he would be willing to provide me with a quick interview since I still have his book on my shelf to provide a few laughs during my times of need.  He kindly obliged and his responses were nearly as funny as his book.  If you laugh, chuckle, or even smile during the below interview you should buy his book.
Get to Know the Author 1.
What inspired you to write My Status Update Journey?  I’ve really enjoyed using Facebook over the years.  Writing funny stuff to make people smile is a fun outlet for me.  When I found Facebook’s “download all of your statuses” button and started reading years of my silly entries, I found myself inspired by a handful of my “friends” stroking my ego with some their responses that said things like, “you’re my funniest Facebook friend”, “I laugh out loud at almost everything you write”, and “your statuses don’t suck”.   As I was reading all this downloaded good stuff, my brain was filling in the stories between the statuses.  “Hey, I remember when that happened.  I wrote that status because…”  From there I just started writing and filling in the gaps on what I was thinking then and now.  Somewhere along the way, I changed my writing hobby into a challenge for myself:  Can I get this published?
2. You describe you, your wife and your sons as a very close-knit family. Were they all supportive of your book idea? What was their initial reaction when you told them you were going to turn your Facebook posts into a book?  My entire family has fully supported me pushing this effort all the way to publication.  My wife is so incredibly awesome because she would stand behind any idea that she sees making me happy.  Except for maybe walking sideways along the edge of a bridge.  Because, you know, she would fall off.  My older son will listen to my Facebook statuses and either say “Good one!” or “Dad, you’re so dumb.”  My younger son was very excited about the whole book thing.  He served as my biggest proofreader so any mistakes that you see in the book are clearly his fault—and I have found a handful since publishing it.  Apparently he makes a crappy eleven-year-old editor.  He also was completely convinced that this book would sell a million copies and bring fame and fortune to our family (but mainly to him).  The fame and fortune hasn’t happened yet and he is only recently beginning to understand the enormity of the marketing problem.  I wish he would come up with a brilliant eleven-year-old marketing strategy.
4. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? The best compliment?  I once had a complete stranger walk up to me and say “I wish I was as tall as you.”  I took it as a compliment because he was less than average height but not exactly vertically challenged.  A good looking guy.  He was the type of guy that could have easily have become one of my friends.  He was with this lady who added that she really liked the shirt I was wearing.  Oh wait, you mean a complement about my book!  Sorry, people tell me that they like it.  Toughest criticism (about my book)?  Hasn’t happened yet.  Everyone that reads my works will muster up a smile somewhere along the way.  Or maybe my book hasn’t reached enough of the public to have “the bitter reviewer” crawl out of the woodwork.  I’m almost looking forward to the first “You suck” review.  At least then I’ll know that there is someone out there who doesn’t know how to properly review a book.
5. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?  After you write a manuscript and send it off to a publisher, you quickly learn that any two-bit hack can publish a book.  The real challenge lies in the marketing of that book.  I have not yet figured out how to make the book “go”.  Friends and acquaintances have told me to simply host my own book signing in my own home. I can’t seem to do it. It feels awkward. How do you invite your friends and family to come over for the purpose of selling them your book?  “Say, I’m having a get-together next weekend. Swing by! Oh, and don’t forget your wallet.” Or how about this? “You are cordially invited to attend a book signing in my home. During this event, not only can you feed my ego, but you can give me cash too.”
6. I am aware that your Facebook account is still active, considering that you liked my page, can readers expect a sequel?  I was thinking about killing off the characters in the next book.  And then I remembered that the stories were all about my family.  I discuss the concept with them.  We, as a family, decided that it would not be in our best interests.  I was thinking about compiling my blog stories into more of a story line rather than the random topic jumper that my book turned out to be.  That a good thing though, right?  I’m still kicking the idea around.  For now I’ll just keep writing more and more entries to my blog.  Check back in a year or so.
7. Which came first? That Funny Blog which is hosted on WordPress or My Status Update Journey?  The book was definitely first.  “ThatFunnyBlog” was started as an additional attempt at marketing my book—still searching for that fame and fortune.  At the end of each blog entry, I have a link to where my book is being sold.  I tried to be cute about the link each time by changing the wording to reflect something about the blog entry.  For instance, if the story was about dropping a weight on my head, the link might say “Buy my book because it will not hurt if it hits you in the head!”
8. Your book, your blog, and your Facebook posts are all very funny.  Is your humor hereditary? Is your family funny?  No, I don’t think it’s hereditary, but you can warp your children into having an odd sense of humor.  My son always tells me immediately after I say something funny that he was going to say that too.  I guess that when I’m an old man and he is my age, I’ll be a grumpy and pissed that he is able to reach the punch line before me.  Growing up and even now, my older sister would laugh at anything I would say.  She was an easy audience.  I would say, “I just put food on my head!” and she would laugh and pee herself.  I’m not saying that made me a funny guy, but it helped build my confidence.
9. I am making an assumption here by assuming that you enjoy good comedy. Do you have any favorite comedians who have shaped your humor?  I do!  I wonder how people don’t.  I like the clean comedians out there like Brian Reagan, Demetri Martin, and Jim Gaffigan.  I like a good dirty joke too, and sometimes my writing goes there as well.  But for the most part, I observe so much in my world that makes the voices in my head laugh.  And since I don’t frequent brothels, most of the funny scenarios I find have a good clean source.  I find so much funny stuff in places like the grocery store.  Our local store has an aisle sign stating that you will find “Healthy Living” and “Candy” in the same aisle.  I bet I can write a whole page about the insanity of that! Oh, and do me a favor and make sure Jim Gaffigan reads this.  He is noted in my book and I am patiently waiting on his phone call.
Get to Know the Man
1. What do you do when you are not writing?  My boys are at that age where their sports rule my world.  We are involved with baseball, cross country, wrestling, and lacrosse.  So when the season is in full swing, we are in full taxi mode.  Oh, and I have a day job.  I have an Electrical Engineering degree and there aren’t too many projects that allow me to spout comedy.  Actually there are exactly zero.  Zero point zero, in fact.
2. What was your childhood ambition?  This question makes an assumption that I actually had a childhood ambition.  To be honest, I have such an incredibly poor memory that I can’t actually answer this question.  My mother wasted a lot of effort providing me childhood memories that should have lasted a lifetime.  She could have just put me in a closet and check on me every now and then.  Hey, maybe she did!  I can’t remember.
3. What is your life motto?  Make people smile.  They seem happier that way.
4. Do you prefer a printed book or e-edition?  I still like the paper kind.  You know that scent the fresh paper when you first open a new book?  You can flip through the pages with your thumb and let that smell rush over your face while inhaling deeply.  Your nose just far enough away from the pages to avoid paper cuts.   Try that with a Kindle.  Not so much.  It just smells like whatever your hands smell like.
5. What is your connection to Snoop Dogg? When I wrote about you on my WordPress blog Snoop Dogg came up as a suggested tag, I expect that they know something that I, and your other readers, do not.  Do you care to explain?  Yeah, we go way back.  Recently Snoop came up with this crazy idea of changing his name.  He kept calling me night and day, desperately looking for my approval.  I finally got so fed up with all the voice mails and the constant barrage of text messages, that I said, “Fine!  Change your name.  But ‘Snoop Cat’ sounds dumb.  Go with ‘Snoop Lion’ instead.”

My Son’s New Toothbrush

On my way home from work the other day, I was tasked by my wife to stop and pickup a new toothbrush for my son.  Apparently, he was goofing around with his brother while they were brushing their teeth.  “Something” happened (neither wanted to explain exactly what the something was) and my wife had to extract the toothbrush from the toilet bowl.  Of course, she moved it from the bowl directly to the garbage can.  No stops in-between.

I pulled into some convenient store and began my endless quest in search of a new toothbrush.  I can’t find where they stock them anywhere!  I’m pretty sure that I covered the entire store—not sure how I missed them.  As I am about to start my second pass up and down each aisle, I notice this lady creeping around and seemingly following and watching me.  Whenever I turn around to double check the aisle for the mysteriously missing toothbrushes, she quickly looks away or pretends to have interest in the items near her.  This stalking-like crazy behavior continues the whole while I’m looking for the toothbrushes.

I finally find the toothbrushes and select an appropriate one (hey, maybe this one will float).  I make my way to the checkout at the front of the store.  As I approach the end of the aisle, I notice that my “stalker friend” is making her way down the next aisle.  I can see through some of the displays and she is clearly racing me toward the check out.  As I reach the end of the aisle, I discover about six people in line.  The creepy lady jumps directly in front of me as I was approaching the end of the line.  She was carrying one of those two handled baskets and it was jammed full of all sorts of stuff.  She had hair coloring, cookies, a bottle of pop, several candy bars, a magazine, shampoo and conditioner, and bunch of other things that were out so sight as well.  Great, I’m going to be here forever in line behind the crazy lady.  I give her space.  A lot of space—wacko.  Even while we are standing in line waiting for the incredibly slow kid working the only open register, she is peeking over her shoulder, looking at me, and then quickly looking away.

I can’t take it anymore, “Hey lady, what’s your problem?”  Perhaps that was a bit harsh, but she was really freaking me out.  She apologizes for staring at me, but doesn’t really stop doing so.  “Really?  Why are following and looking at me?”  And then I get her answer.

“I’m sorry.  It’s just that you look so much like my son.  He was tall too.  And your face… Your face has all the same features.  My son was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident about two years ago.  I never got to say goodbye.  I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.  It’s just… never mind, I’m sorry.”

Well don’t I feel like a loser now.  Here is this lady having a rough time with some memories that I managed to stir up and I’m the one barking at her.  With a heavy heart I say to her, “Wow.  I’m really sorry for snapping at you.”

She replies, “It’s ok.  I should not have followed you around like that.”  At this point she is almost teary eyed.  And then she hits me with this request.  “Can you do me a favor?  When I leave the store, can you wave to me and say ‘bye mom’?”

Oh no!  No way!  What and incredible awkward moment.  How weird is that?  She wants to use me to say goodbye to her dead son!  Somehow I uttered “umm… yeah.  Sure.”  A couple of minutes pass by and I’m feeling more awkward than any other time I can think of in my life.  I feel like I’ve been standing in line for hours—even days.  She finally reaches the register for her turn and rings up all her stuff.  My mind is whirling.  She grabs her bags and heads to the door.  She looks back at me.  I raise a hand in a half hearted wave and say, “Bye mom.”  She smiles and disappears around the corner.  Well I’m certainly thankful for that to be over.

My mind is still swirling as I hand the kid at the register my son’s new toothbrush.  The kid scans it, pushes a few buttons, and says, “That will be $77.12.”

I say, “For a toothbrush?!”

“Yeah, your mom told me on the way into the store that her son would be paying for her stuff.”

Click!  The light in my head goes on!  Now it makes sense.  “You guys just got robbed!  Hang on I’ll be right back!”

I leave the register (and my toothbrush) and I dash out the door.  I spot the woman opening the door to her car.  I run over to her yelling, “Stop!”  I don’t even know what I’m doing.  I didn’t do anything wrong and yet I’m thinking about confronting and stopping her.  Just as I reach her car, she slams the door shut.  I reach down and open it again.  She didn’t have time to lock it.  She starts yelling, “Go away!  Leave me alone!”  I reached in and grabbed her shirt up by her shoulder.  She instinctively pulled away and fell over toward the passenger seat.  At this point she was sort of laying down on the driver’s seat and started kicking at me.  While trying to avoid her attempts at kicking me, I grabbed her ankle.  I wanted to pull her out of the car so that she couldn’t leave.  So I’m pulling her leg.  She is yelling.  I’m pulling her leg.  Just like I’m pulling your leg.

I’m pulling your leg!  Get it?  I love telling this story and I so wish I could see your face.  I told this story to my mother years ago.  She actually cried real tears in the middle of the story.  I felt bad.  But just a little bit.

Buy my book, it’ll be less stressful than this story!

Kill the Wabbit

In order to truly enjoy this particular story, you must have experience with Elmer Fudd and his rabbit (wabbit) hunting escapades.  In particular, the “What’s Opera, Doc?” episode.

My wife plants a very modest garden every year.  It produces just enough vegetables to get sick of having those vegetables by the end of the season.  In the past her garden has kicked out squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and carrots.

To paint the picture with a bit more detail, we live in Suburb, USA at the end of a cul-de-sac.  The garden measures approximately one foot by ten feet and is located along one side of our driveway.  One faulty move of the steering wheel while exiting the garage and we can lose half of the year’s crop to tire tracks.  It’s hard to keep tire tracks out of your garden all season long—pesky little critters.  The garden may be small, but it brings my wife joy.  So when asked, I’ll continue to walk around the house to turn on the hose so that she can water her precious plot of land.

One year, she attempted to grow carrots.  The soil conditions in our neighborhood are quite poor.  If you dig down any further than five inches, you’ll hit a mixture of clay and contracted home builder’s yard waste.  You know, random pieces of wood, screws, caulk tubes, and pop cans.  It’s amazing that she can get anything to grow at all.  The carrots that year were hysterical.  They grew downward, as a good little carrot should, and then hit the clay.  Since they couldn’t push through the clay, the only thing they could do was to grow outward and plump up.  She grew “carrot balls” that year.  I didn’t even know that there was a distinction between male and female carrots.

So, the carrots were a no-go.  Scratch the carrot balls.  After all, they probably itch.  (Alright, enough ball references.)  How about beans?  One year my dear wife and her green thumb planted beans.  The beans were looking good until the rabbits moved to town.  Not only did they eat the green beans themselves, but the leaves and the stems too—all the way down to the ground!  They probably wanted the roots too, but they had no little bunny tools to excavate them.  Even if they had the tools, their lack of thumbs would have hindered the effort.  My wife declared war on the rabbits when she stated to boys that she “would pay five dollars for every dead rabbit”.  I think she meant it too.  One of our neighbors heard that the hunt was on and pleaded for us to chase the rabbits across the street to her house rather than kill them.  Perhaps she watched a little too much Bugs Bunny as a kid.

My boys don’t really have the proper equipment to terminate bunnies, but they were on the hunt with their air-soft guns and plastic bb ammunition.   The worst they would be able to do is blind the rabbit with a direct shot to the eyeball.  Even then, the one-eyed critter would still eat all the beans on the left side of the garden while thinking to itself, “Odd, I remember there being twice as many beans here.”  Truth be told, my boys haven’t even come close to killing, wounding, or even bothering the rabbits.  “Ouch, stop that you pesky little boys!”

And then the other day, the chase was on!  While my son was chasing a rabbit around the house, he dove for cover into a gutter downspout (the rabbit, not my son).  My son got a fishing net to cover the opening and we tried to bang on the pipe to scare it into the net.  No deal, the rabbit was moving and we were getting bored, so we left the net in place and went about our business.  Soon thereafter I noticed our fishing net crawling slowly across the yard.  My son walked up to it, bent over, and picked up the net.  Victory was his!  He caught the rabbit and I broke out into a chorus of (using the Elmer Fudd voice) “I killed the wabbit!  I killed the wabbit!  Killed the wabbit!”

I’m hunting wabbit.

Now what do we do with it?  It was this cute little adorable bunny.  We ended up carrying the poor little thing across the street to our neighbor’s yard.  “Remember when you said you wanted our rabbits?  Well here you go.”  We, as a group, let the bunny loose and watched it frantically scurry into our neighbor’s landscaping at which point my son asked, “Do I still get my five dollars?”

My wife paid the bounty.  And that particular rabbit is not allowed to cross the street anymore!

Buy my book, or the next bunny gets it!

Chuck’s Cheese

I read an article recently that explained how the face of Chuck E. Cheese is changing.  If you have children, you know the place.  It’s that building where they serve lousy pizza, take your money for game tokens in exchange for paper tickets, and repay you by rewarding your child with toy trinkets that you will find under your car seats long after your child has started college.  Apparently the old mouse is being replaced with a new mouse.  A more hip, more cool, and more trendy mouse.

I can speculate that Chuck’s business model is struggling to survive and this change is the result of some recently promoted hot-shot who thinks he can build a better mouse trap.  Ok, maybe that’s not the right analogy.  Accurate perhaps, but not appropriate.  Well see now I have this vivid picture in my head of the old Chuck E. Cheese character bleeding from the eye balls trapped in a humongous mouse trap clamping down on his neck while the new mascot stands in the background shaking his head slowly.  And it would have to be a humongous mouse trap—have you seen the size of that rodent’s head?

It’s been years since I was subjected to Chuck’s mad house since my children are a bit older now.  But, when I saw the “mascot changing” news story, the memories flooded in.  We would always happen pick the day where every single parent in the entire state would show up.  The place would be jammed.  There would even be a line at the entrance where the incoming children and parents would have to wait for the same number of crying children to exit the building.  No one ever leaves Chuck’s house without crying a river.

The wait to get in was no doubt due to fire code and building occupancy rules, but I’m also sure the teenager at the door failed to keep the correct count.  While waiting for our turn to enter, I would be observing absolutely no space to walk from one side of the room to the other.  This will be fun.  Pictures of abducted children running through my head.

Once we passed the entrance queue, my little young boys would love to crawl around in that very complex maze of plastic sewer pipes.  That is exactly what they were—raw sewage pipes.  Children see this structure as the greatest indoor jungle gym ever assembled.  As a parent I was appalled–watching the not-quite-sick-enough-to-stay-home children with their faces just oozing out snot crawl around through the same tubes that I was about to send my children into.  It simply looked like a raw sewage system.  You know why those slides are so fast and fun?  They are greased down with several different bodily fluids from multiple children.

Regardless, I would follow my children on my hands and knees through the endless miles of muck filled tunnels and slides.  I think good old Chuck could have made an extra fortune by renting knee and elbow pads to the adults.  My knees and elbows would be raw and bleeding as I desperately try to keep up with my children who were short enough to simply walk through the tunnels.  “Oh crap!  My boys just went in two different directions!”  Maybe one day I’ll be reunited with them again, I think to myself.  Maybe one day.

There was this over-sized ball pit filled with colored plastic balls that my boys loved so much.  It was this large area where kids would romp and play and giggle and laugh.  They would also take turns throwing the balls as hard as they could at each other’s heads.  A wonderful playtime experience.

Once, my son yelled out a very happy noise as he stood in the middle of the ball pit, jumping up and down,waving a ten-dollar bill high above his head that he just fished out of the bottom of the ball pit.  How awesome is that?  Without hesitation, I dove in head first to join him with dreams of recouping some of the college funds that I wasted on Chuck E. Cheese’s institution.  Picture this crazy man sitting in the ball pit among several small children frantically scouring the bottom of the pit with both hands.  And then I hit the jackpot!  I felt a papery object, raised it high in the air, and exclaimed, “I got one!”  Only I was holding a used tissue.

The following noise I made was not a happy noise.  I grabbed my children and flung them and myself out of the ball pit, never to return again.  I think the “E” in Chuck E. Cheese stands for “Effing”.  If it wasn’t a place for children, the business would have been Chuck F. Cheese.

buy my effing book!

Costly Movie Night

Last night, I took my family to the movies.  I can’t remember what movie we saw.  I guess that means this blog’s opening line of “last night” was simply me trying to convince you that this is a current story, rather than some recycled memory from the depths of my brain.  It was actually several months ago, but don’t you think you would enjoy reading this more if it just happened?

My wife and I have an excellent home equity line of credit which we can draw upon to bring the four members of my family to the movies.  Four tickets, one large shared drink, and one large popcorn bucket totaled a cost matching the national debt.  But I got a bit of reimbursement as my children unloaded the caramel powder flavoring onto the popcorn.  They probably should have just taken off the top all together and poured it in.  At least in doing it in that fashion the air in the lobby of the theater would not have been saturated with powdered caramel dust.  Four fellow movie goers were rushed to the hospital with critical respiratory issues.  Sorry about that.

After dusting ourselves off, we made it to our seats.  I love watching movies!  I enjoy watching movies even more now that my children are a bit older.  I allow my twelve and thirteen year old boys to see fairly mature movies.  The movie selection is not an anything goes, but let’s just say that I haven’t seen a cartoon on the big screen in a long time.  Nemo, you’re a cute little fish with that tiny flipper on one side and all, but honestly, I don’t miss you at all.

Well the previews and the movie came to pass.  My sons interrupted everyone in the theater to use the restroom only once.  Their attempt at walking down the aisle hunched over in order to not block everyone’s view leaves much to be desired.  They are fast, but not fast enough.  If you do the math and calculate the monetary cost of the amount of time spent in the bathroom based on the total investment of this night out, you’ll note that actual cost of the large drink is even more appalling than originally thought.  That large barrel of pop caused their bathroom break to ring up to be about $1.21 of missed movie viewing time.  When is the last time you spent more than a dollar to take a leak?

My movie going family has this odd little tradition.  When the movie ends, we continue watching the credits to the very end.  I have several reasons I like doing this.  First, we play a silly little game.  We search the first names scrolling up the screen for the names of people in our family.  “Hey, there goes a Logan!”  “Look, it’s a Denise!”  We almost never find a “Marcus” and “Devin”, but we keep trying. 

I think the second reason that I stick around for the credits is that whole cost of the movie thing that clearly I’m troubled with.  Since I just sacrificed part of my children’s college fund to see this movie, we better use this time as an educational opportunity.  Today’s lesson, what does the “best boy” and the “key grip” do?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Third, some movies will tack on a little extra clip of goodness after or during the credits.  What if you leave the theater and miss out on the blooper reel that the editor spliced onto the very end of the movie?  How would you feel?  Oh wait, you wouldn’t know any better.  You already left!  I hope I didn’t ruin your day by enlightening you on how much joy you voluntarily walk away from in your life.  Sad really.

And lastly, deep down inside I think it’s kind of funny that the teenage employees assigned to cleaning up the theater for the next showing are not allowed to start cleaning until all of the customers have left.  They have to just stand there at the base of the theater with their broom and bucket on a stick and observe my family pointing at names scrolling by on the screen.  This brings me an odd satisfaction.  I know, I have issues that run deep.

Unfortunately on this particular night, my son whispered to my wife that has stomach wasn’t feeling good with about ten minutes remaining in the movie.  So when the credits started rolling my wife told me that she noticed him really squirming around in the seat and looking uncomfortable.  So we left as soon as the movie ended and long before the credits concluded.  I’ll get you next time you lucky teenage movie sweeper.

As we were exiting the building, I decided to hang on to the plastic gallon-sized jug that once held our single shared pop.  I shook out the last remaining drops of pop behind my car and handed the empty cup to my son with an understanding that if he gets sick, this is his target.  Well we almost made it home.  With about five minutes to go until we hit our driveway, the noises produced by my son sounded like an angry beast was crawling out of his belly.  But I could not be more proud of the way that he filled the cup without missing a drop.  And honestly, my idea of using that cup to collect potential barf makes me proud of myself. 

My driving speed picked up just a bit as I swiftly made the finally set of turns in my neighborhood.  I feel like a bad parent because I was thinking “Please don’t spill it” the whole time rather than “Oh, poor boy.”  As I threw the car into park, I was already jumping out my car door in order to open his car door and grab the cup that was getting full and dangerously approaching the top.  Please don’t spill it!  Oh no, I’m still a bad parent.  His mom lovingly got him to our couch, tucked him in, and took care of him. 

I emptied the cup into the sewer at the street.  Taking care of the actual barf gets me some level of parenting points.  Right?

buy my book (it will not make you sick)!