Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A Year in Review and The Drakie Awards
You know what people never do around this time of year? Recap all of the best stuff that happened over the course of the previous 12 months. Oh wait, I’m sorry. I’m confusing “never do” and “always do” again. God, this happens all the time. It’s just like that day at the Natural History Museum. So embarrassing.
                Let it go, man. Remember, it’s a new year. Ok, whew. Moving on.
                2014. It was a year when hackers literally hacked everything. Go ahead, take a bite out of that apple. Taste funny? It should because it’s been hacked. Steer clear of the banana, by the way. Also hacked. Twice.
What else happened in 2014? Oh, America learned either we might be getting too fat to sit on our phones or our pants are getting too tight or both. A bunch of states finally got around to declaring “Love is love, baby. It don’t matter who you love, it’s all the same.” A couple of states even decided to get off stoners’ backs and just let ’em toke. In what I’m sure is a totally unrelated story, Grumpy Cat got a movie.
                Taylor Swift staged a currently-still-bloodless coup of the music industry.  
                It was a year of engagements. Both in the romantic and the militaristic sense.
                We learned that almost all of our favorite athletes are probably dicks and then America lost its mind about Ebola for like two weeks but quickly forgot about it once it stopped being our problem.
                We also had the unfortunate task of saying good bye to Robin Williams, one of comedy's all time greats, an event that hit me harder than almost anything else negative that happened this year, which is confusing but no less true. 
                Oh yeah, the ice bucket thing happened. Jesus Christ. Lesson learned. Don’t ignore charities unless you want them to start irritating viral campaigns that clog up social media for two months.
                Well that was fun. Now for our next segment on this, the final Cheese Life post of this sad-yet-danceable Year of our Lord 2014. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Drakies. This is the award show founded by my friend and business partner Drake Stone, who hasn’t been seen since 2008. Some good news on that front, I found a postcard in my mailbox this Christmas that was jet black on the front and totally blank on the other side. No warm wishes, no return address. It wasn’t even addressed to anyone actually so I’m not sure how it came to be in my mailbox, but I assume it was from Drake or one of his unknowable minions. Happy Holidays, buddy!
                Anyway, years ago Drake entrusted me to carry on the Drakies and give out awards to what I deemed to have had the best year in a number of different categories. Without further ado, let us begin the show. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Decision: What I'm Going to Do About Santa and Why
In my previous post I shared my awkward and disconcerting history with Santa Claus. In case you missed it and don’t feel like scrolling down to it or clicking the link, I was one of Kris Kringle’s most devoted acolytes until the fourth grade when I found out it was all bumpkiss. From there, the post turned into a debate about whether or not I would even go down the Santa road with my future kids or just let them know right off the bat that the big guy in red ain’t real.
                As I sit here, an adult on a lunch break from his adult job, closely monitoring NORAD’s Santa tracker, I think I have my answer. I know, I promised mounds of scientific data based on intense psychological research performed on my cats, but I think I found a shortcut and shortcuts are always worth taking. Another lesson for the future kids.
                Anyway, my answer is “Yes, Internet, I will be telling my kids about Santa.”
                I mean, of course I am. Let me repeat, I’m a grown-ass man with no human children who’s been following the Santa tracker all morning and getting mildly annoyed because it doesn’t show Santa stopping at every single town in every single country. I want my high tech fairy tale-tracking system to be 100% mythologically accurate goddamnit!    
One reason for my decision is that I want to have my turn playing Santa. I want to sneak around, putting presents under the tree, taking a few bites of some cookies and carrots, maybe leave a candy cane floating in the toilet and some muddy boot prints from the chimney to directly outside the kids’ room, shake the handle of the door angrily a few times just to freak ‘em out. You know, all the classics.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

To Claus or Not to Claus, That is the Question

People always ask me “‘Cheese List Guy,’ what are you going to tell your kids about Santa?” Actually, no they don’t. The only thing people ever ask me in regards to kids is “Would you mind standing somewhere else, just anywhere away from my kid? You’re freaking him out. Thanks.”
                But if people did ask me the Santa question, well, boy. I’m not sure how I’d answer it. There are a lot of pros and cons to the situation, as this LifeHacker query I stumbled upon today indicates.
                Now, my own personal Santa narrative lasted a little longer than most … a little lot longer. An embarrassing lot longer. Fourth grade is when I learned that Santa doesn’t travel from the North Pole to deliver presents to all the good kids in the world (mysteriously skipping over the poor kids’ houses) in a single night.
                I remember it well. I’d just written an impassioned manifesto in Computer class to a kindergartener in my school explaining to him/her how Santa was a real thing. This wasn’t something I just did out of the blue, it was a project. All of the older kids were supposed to write letters to the younger ones to back-up the Santa story. Little did I know that almost everyone else in the class was doing it to humor the little grubby kindergartners. For me, it was serious business. I had a goddamn job to do. Without me, those kids might think Santa wasn’t real and as we all know, not believing in Santa is the first step on the slippery slope to the naughty list.
                To back up my assertions about Santa’s validity, I used this rock-solid evidence: My family’s dog Sadie slept on my parents’ bed with them. Sadie was a Beagle. Beagles, by nature, are prone to loud fits of barking when they’re startled, when they’re happy, sad, bored, content, etc. In my fourth grade mind, there was no way they’d be able to sneak out of bed in the middle of the night to put presents under the tree without setting off a Beagle barking spree. I mean, how could you argue with that? It was the Chewbacca defense of the holiday season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Song Dissection: The Worst Christmas Song of All Time is Put on Trial
We’re still early enough in December that Christmas music hasn’t fully taken a stranglehold over my car’s radio. While I’ve been listening to it, it hasn’t become an unhealthy obsession quite yet. Check back with me next week as it will usually happen somewhere around the month’s midway point.
I’m not one of these people who start listening to Christmas tunes while they’re carving Jack-o-Lanterns. When it comes to seasonal commodities, I have a few simple rules I like to follow: 1) No pumpkin beer before October. 2) Seasonally festive Reese’s Cups ALWAYS take precedent over standard issue cups. 3) Christmas music is not permitted until after Santa arrives at the Thanksgiving Day parade.
Those are the big ones.
Anyway, so since I’m still in the beginning stages of Christmas music fever, I’m happy to report that I’ve only, ONLY heard NewSong’s “Christmas Shoes” one time on the radio. When it came on, as per government mandate, I immediately changed the station, shoulder-rolled out of my still-moving vehicle and forcibly took refuge in the nearest basement I could find for about four and a half minutes. Stay alert, stay alive.
Sure, that brush with the schmaltzy was horrifying, but it could have been worse. There’s one song that I haven’t heard yet this holiday season, a holiday staple which, despite pleas for sanity from the World Health Organization, radio stations continue to put in heavy rotation this time of year. Dan Fogelberg’s “Same
Auld Lang Syne.”
Now, I know. I’m taking a great risk even typing that title into my Word doc. Sure the urban legend says you need to type it or speak it thrice in order for Dan Fogelberg to appear guitar in hand, but urban legends can be wrong and I don’t want to push my luck. From here on out, we’ll stick to vague descriptions instead of actually naming the song or artist, but you’ll know who I’m talking about.
If you’re not familiar with this vile, murderous musical travesty, (God has smiled upon thee) I’m going to break it down for you here, on this very blog. Keep in mind, even though I’m only reading the lyrics to the song while doing this, I’m still subjecting myself to trauma akin to what astronauts endure during a long space flight. There will be gravitational swings and forces which I can’t begin to comprehend, let alone prepare myself for. I’m stalling now. Let us begin and hope it goes quick. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Good & Bad: 'The Walking Dead' (11/30/14)
Season 5, Episode 8: “Coda”
Plot: After last night’s mid-season finale, it’s safe to say that “The Walking Dead” just got 68% less adorable. If it wasn’t for Maggie, Daryl and the prospect of that dog Daryl met last season showing back up, well, I shudder to think what the adorable meter would have looked like this morning.
                Last night, Fr. Gabe went in a literal and figurative circle: he “escaped” the church which no one was holding him prisoner in, ran to the school, saw Bob’s half-eaten leg, got chased by a herd of walkers back to the church, begged Carl and Michonne to let him in, they let him in and the three of them escaped (or in Gabe’s case re-escaped) from the church using Gabe’s tunnel and then trapped the walkers inside. Abe and company show up and the plan is to go to Atlanta to help Rick rescue Beth and Carol.
                Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Officer Lamson knocked out Sasha at the end of last week’s episode and now he’s on the run! Will he get back to the hospital to warn … oh wait. That ended fast. Nope, all Lamson was able to accomplish with his dastardly escape was hurting Sasha’s feelings and getting slowly chased and then run over by his own squad car – which Rick was driving. When Rick tells you to stop, smart money says to listen.
                In the hospital, Beth and Dawn are locked in this crazy dance where they don’t seem to like each other, but keep doing each other high-stakes favors because they sort of have to, or something. Dawn covered up Beth’s killing of Mean Cop because she needed a new helper and then Beth kills New Mean Cop because he overheard their conversation and attempted to kill or overthrow Dawn, which Beth determined would be a step backwards in the leadership department.
                Rick and half the team (Abe’s gang is still in transit) arrive at the hospital with their two cop prisoners to trade for Beth and Carol. Everything goes surprisingly well, too well, and then BAM! Dawn demands that Noah (formerly “Everybody Hates Chris”) be returned to her as her ward. Rick says “Na-uh, wasn’t part of the deal,” Dawn retorts with “Nuts to the deal, I need someone to help me murder people around here” (not in those exact words, but that was the gist). Unlikely political football Noah elects to sacrifice himself, but before he can, Beth steps in, announces that she “Gets it now” and stabs Dawn in the chest with some scissors. Dawn responds by shooting Beth in the head. Daryl responds to that by shooting Dawn in the head. New Lady Cop says enough is enough, Rick says any of the wards are free to join him, only Noah does, everybody’s crying, they go outside where they meet up with Abe’s gang who’ve just arrived. For the first time all season, Maggie is bummed out not to have a sister.