Christmas Countdown: Star Wars Wrapping Paper, Ranked


Lightsaber Paper: Obviously the gold standard. The best one. I will personally demand that all my gifts be wrapped in it. The other wrapping paper is for the peasants. Grade: A+

The Force Awakens Paper: Stormtroopers stormtrooooopers stormtroooooopers. I’m cool with this. Also: Kylo Ren! Captain Phasma! I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THEY ARE AND YET I LOVE THEM. PROOF DISNEY HAS SUBLIMINALLY BRAINWASHED ALL OF US. Grade: B+

Christmas Droids: If someone told you Christmas Droid paper exists, wouldn’t you feel assured somehow that all was right in the world? Well, Christmas Droid wrapping paper exists. You’re welcome. A-

Christmas Countdown: Gifts for my Dog Volume 1


“Penny told me she wanted a Pig Popper for Christmas.”

“Okay, get it for her.”

Just another normal conversation in our house. Americans spend $5 billion annually on their pets for Christmas. I wonder if they also wrap each gift individually with bows and tags, some of which are signed from Santa. Not saying that I do that though. Just wondering.

The secret to giving pet presents is that they are really gifts to yourself. It’s no thinly-veiled secret that I really wanted a Pig Popper for myself. I imagine it will fling the treat across the room and the dog will excitedly run off after it. However, in reality I know that the treat will pathetically fall onto the floor, and the dog will sniff hesitantly and suspiciously. Then I’ll have to fend off the baby who will be right there to try and put it in his mouth.

Regardless, this is my new jam:

Countdown? Why Yes.


I’ve been entertaining the idea of doing a countdown on the blog. I am supremely obscenely excited for Christmas this year, and I’ve been thinking of counting down the days and posting everyday. Then last night I had a dream that I’d decided to do a Star Wars or Christmas Countdown. Since I’m also supremely obscenely excited for the new movie, it seemed like divine intervention.

So each day I will post something about Christmas or Star Wars. Or both. I will be ordering weird chocolates from Swiss Colony and raiding Dollar Trees for the crappiest Star Wars merchandise humanly possible. I will be baking cakes and blowing up my kitchen while wearing a Stormtrooper mask. I do not have a Stormtrooper mask. I will be purchasing one. I will be making more awful MS-Paint headers. I will document every single facet of the Event that is CHRISTMAS 2015. I will be drinking egg nog out of R2-D2 shaped mugs. I will be celebrating until I sweat funfetti. And then I will promptly rush to the ER if that actually happens.

I will probably end up hating both Christmas and Star Wars by the time this countdown is over, overindulged and full by both, like when you eat too much FOOOOOOOOOOOD — and yet by having too much, that is the only way you know you enjoyed it.

Before I start, I should admit my track record on Star Wars is bad. Like I would get a D- for my fandom bad. I’ve only seen the original trilogy once, as in VHS-copy-recorded-off-the-TV once. In some ways, that’s the purest, rightest way to do it.

To right this wrong, I’ve started re-watching the new Blu-rays, and after binge-watching and loving the prequels, I fell asleep during the trash compactor sequence of A New Hope.

Yes, I love the prequels, and fell asleep during A New Hope. I am a terrible human being.

I’m trying to do right by my son though.


So to kick off the countdown, I present this box of Trix with the rabbit dressed as Leia:


I salute this jarringly odd gender-bending depiction. I also commend ACTUAL PRIZES in the cereal box. Inside every box is a droid viewer. Even the words “droid viewer” sound like they’re dipped in the 1980s. Tasty. I am now the proud owner of a near-complete set of droid viewers, as well as a six-month supply of Mini Trix, Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Reese Cereal. (Anyone out there want to trade me an R2-D2?)

Halloween Therapy


I’ve been meaning to write a post about Halloween all season, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say and the only words that kept coming to me were “halloween therapy.” This year Halloween was therapeutic. It was healing.

Two years ago my mom got sick a few days before Halloween. Two weeks later she was dead. Two days before that, I’d found out my wife was pregnant. Two years later, I have a toddler. Two minutes ago he nearly fell down the stairs, then nearly tripped onto an eye-gouging corner, and next he’s going for triumvirate of burning himself on the oven door.

Yet something always just stops him, just rights him upwards. Maybe it’s my mom. Maybe it’s me screaming no in a sweat-laced panic. Maybe it’s babies are just walking near misses. I feel like that myself, a near miss of sadness, but here I am, happy and eating leftover Halloween candy.

Last year I didn’t touch my Halloween decorations. I didn’t want to look in the bins that had been hastily packed up the year before, full of shit memories, as though I’d find a dialysis machine in there or the nurse that wouldn’t look my father in the eyes.

But I went in and dug out the bins this year, and all I found was Halloween decorations. Yeah, they were shoved and crammed, as hasty as I knew I’d done it. But unpacking the decorations did not unpack whatever it was I’d feared the year before.

Besides that, I had to decorate for the kid. My kid knows five words. Dog, up, car, bottle, and ghost. He loves the Halloween decorations. Everything is a ghost to him.


This is how you know that someone has no fucks left to be given, when they string a clothesline of ghosts across their yard. We continuously corrected our son that they weren’t all ghosts; at least one was a severed head. (It’s his favorite.)

Healing comes in the form of fun-sized Reese Cups, fake severed heads, and a 15-month old repeating the word ghost ghost ghost. It comes in the form of a kid in a Kylo Ren costume coming up to your house. I gave the kid props on his Kylo, and with the weariness only a child can muster, he said “finally someone gets it.”

I get it kid. I do.

Mountain in Reality


Last week we went on a trip to the mountains of Shenandoah Valley. I had booked us a cabin on top of a mountain, which sounded at once both rugged and quaint. Still, somehow I didn’t expect it that was literally on top of a mountain. What did I expect? Perhaps I expected a mountain in theory.

Mountain in reality was an hour-long roundtrip to civilizaton each time, in our hopefully-trusty hatchback Elantra that puttered like a toy car as it climbed those mountain roads. The wife wanted to know why didn’t I just book us a stay at the Days Inn with the free wifi. Why? Why? This cabin had a hot tub, a pool table, a spec’ed-out boombox from 1993, and decorative ceramic duck statues. That’s why.


Cabin in Theory had wifi, too. Even though they had told me on the phone it did not. I couldn’t really picture not having it, so I didn’t accept it. However, they did not lie. Cabin in Theory at least had promiximity to a cell phone tower so we could get 4G?

Nope. Well how about 3G?

Nope? How about basic cell phone service where you make calls?

Mountain Cabin in reality had a landline. I was certain an axe murderer would cut the line. Speaking of which, Cabin in Theory had locks on the windows. Mountain Cabin in Reality did not.

Wait, what? What the hell? Dude, we lived in Baltimore. How can you not have locks on the windows. We’re gonna freaking die. This deeply unsettled both the wife and I. Laugh at me all you want. I’ve seen movies and been to bad places on the Internet. I foraged the surrounding woods for a stick I could jam the bedroom window shut with, and we slept with the bedroom window jammed, the bedroom door locked, and one eye open.

(Cue the wife’s WHY DIDN’T WE STAY AT THE DAY’S INN again.)

There was also the paradox of Dog In Theory/Dog In Reality. Dog In Theory is good at traveling, likes trips, and would become at one with her inner wild beast in the mountains. Dog in Reality is a weirdo nervous wreck poodle who spent the entire trip spooked by the woods surrounding us.

Dog in Theory would save us from bears if needed. Dog in Reality promptly peed on the floor upon arrival.

Dog in Reality looks fierce in a poncho though.


At least my mountain snack game was tight. Let me break it down for you:

– 7 Layer Dip Combos
– Mini-donuts
– Oatmeal Creme Pies
– Mountain fudge
– Hot Fries (the wife claims they taste like cat food. Grounds for divorce.)
– Milano cookies
– Weird out-of-state chips that you can’t get back home (favorite part of traveling, possibly.)

Meanwhile I grade my mountain souvenir game as just alright. I had daydreams of finding some leather-tassled rabbit foot embedded in an amber geode, or something else badass like that.

However, since no such amazing object exists, I got this dinosaur spirit animal instead:


I have no idea what you’re supposed to do with figural mini spirit animals, but I put mine on display in the bathroom.