Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Creepiest Game Ever

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

While visiting my parents in New Jersey last week, my sister took me and the kids out to dinner. Marin pointed out a game on the supposedly kid-friendly placemat which, in our collective opinion, is the creepiest thing, well, ever. I might never get a good night’s sleep again. Who designed this thing – Harlan Ellison?


All I wanted was some pizza. Instead, I will forever be haunted by the bone-chilling knowledge that a few strokes of my pencil can endow these that these faceless cornfield zombie children with the power to see me

For Marin

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Sometimes, I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

No soap, radio

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

clip_image002I’ve done it! I have finally transferred my collection of radio show tapes from cassette to MP3. Another pointless chore accomplished.

I’ve been trying to covert all my old 20th century media to something that, if my kids are so inclined, they can use in 25 years. I copied my old home movies of Evan and Marin from VHS to DVD a few years ago, and now I’ve made a record of my radio show tapes as well.

What radio show? Check out the Radio Show Nostalgia page for some clips. Todd Stauffer and I had a fun little call-in talk radio show in Denver back in the age of Windows 95 (think Car Talk, but for computers). That was back when I lived in the glorious city of Colorado Springs, and my freelance writing career was still pretty young. The city newspaper–the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph (now just called the Gazette)–published a weekly computer magazine, and someone at "The G" thought it was a good idea to host a radio show to promote it. Ah, I really miss those days.

Just thinking about the radio show reminds me of all sorts of things from that era that make me bitterly nostalgic.

  • My kids were young grade-schoolers. Wow, you never expect that you’re going to miss that. But you do.
  • I miss Colorado Springs — the weather, the sightseeing, the proximity to Denver, even the malls and the fast food.
  • Lil Ricci’s in Tamarac Square in Denver. The best pizza, ever. And I grew up near Manhattan, so I know. Trust me.
  • Hanging out with my friends Anne and Kevin and Rick and Shawna. Wow, I miss those guys. Now we all live in three different states. We used to play cards with Anne and Kevin every Friday night for years.
  • Writing for magazines like Home Office Computing and PC Computing, just to name a few. There were a lot of awesome magazines in those days. And while I don’t want to sound like an old guy, writing for blogs and websites is somehow not quite as magical as writing for the printed page.
  • And of course, being a scuba instructor for Underwater Connection in Colorado Springs. Diving and teaching was perhaps the single most fun experience of my life. Now that we live near the ocean, we don’t dive very much, and I certainly am not an active dive instructor. There are a few reasons for that, but I guess they’re not important. But it is sad. (When I Googled Underwater Connection to find the URL, I knew I found the right site right away because their site still stinks. Troy! Fix your site!)

Anyway, the clips of the radio show might only be entertaining to me and my cat, but I’ve posted some here on the site. I hope you enjoy the intentional camp of Dank Showcase.


Sunday, August 12th, 2007

Nah, not the classic 1968 Bee Gees song. I’m referring to those fridge-magnet-word-poetry thingys. This week, we stayed at a little cabin in Mazama for the weekend, and the fridge was pre-stuck with words, glorious words. Evan, Marin, and I spent hours creating little haiku-like poems for each other.

 Now, I’m not saying these things are all that great. But I’m rather fond of some of them.

Actually, it seems to me that these terse little word convulsions are a peek into the writer’s soul.

After writing 2000-word stories, these short fits of brain venom are somehow gratifying.

 In retrospect, so many of these are directives, but some are cautionary.

Some are disturbing.

I feel much better now, thanks.

Become a Simpsons Character

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

While the rest of the world breathlessly awaits a stupid music phone that only has 8GB of storage (there are Yes albums that probably take up more space than that) here in the Johnson household, it is Simpsons Movie Anticipation that is running high. 

If you’re in the same boat, be sure to pass the time at the new Simpsons Movie website, where you can make your own highly customized character. This one, for instance, looks just like me. Except I don’t really have a Blinky t-shirt. 

But I should.

Looking for a way to save a digital version of your character? ‘Ol Matt Groening doesn’t appear to give you a way to do anything but print your creation.

Well, here’s what I did: I clicked the Print button on the website but selected the Windows Vista XPS printer driver, which saved the character as a file on my computer. Then I opened the XPS version in a browser window, screencaptured it, and used Photoshop Elements to save it as a JPG. More work than it should have been, but hey, it’s free entertainment.  

When logos go horribly awry

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Marin got this at a camping trip last weekend:


Evan wanted to know the answer to the obvious question:

Why is a dog-headed parakeet eating a walrus, and what does that have to do with Girl Scouts?

My Daughter, the Genius

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

If you’re interested in getting to know your future president now, say hi to Marin, who was inducted into the National Honor Society last night. Not only did she attend as a new inductee, but she also performed in the school band that warmed up the crowd before the ceremony began.

My Fawning Daughter

Friday, March 16th, 2007

This evening, on our way out to Cold Stone, I said, “New system, tonight, guys. You only get ice cream if you don’t say uncomplimentary things about your father.”

Marin immediately responded: “That’s a stupid idea, dad.”

It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

So I’ve been playing drums in a band for about five months now. At the moment, we’re a trio: guitar, vocals, drums. If you play bass and want to experience rock ‘n roll mediocrity from the inside, send me an email.

Actually, Jay’s guitar playing impresses me, and Dawn has a great voice. It’s really just me that’s bringing up the rear. In any event, a couple of months ago we started looking for a name.

There’s perhaps nothing more cliched in all the world than band names. There was a time when band names weren’t so wacky. When everyone named themselves after animals, insects, and common nouns (Yardbirds, Beatles, Turtles, Rolling Stones, Cars, and Doors), a name like Tonto’s Expanding Headband could really turn heads. If you were lucky enough to name your band after an interjection (Yes) or label your band in a way that sounds like it’s named after someone in the band, but really isn’t (Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull) then you could pretty much bank on getting famous.

But these days, band names are so darned weird that it’s impossible to stand out from the crowd. Think you’re clever naming your band Astronaut Love Triangle? Well, get in line behind Live Alien Broadcast and Alien Ant Farm.

Since our band is composed of two writers and a writer’s wife (unrelated to either of the writers…) we decided to start with writing-related names:

  • Stet
  • TK
  • The Batch 10 (which was an inside joke related to a writing project Jay and I were involved in)

Of course, there’s a certain been-there-done-that quality to writers naming their band with a writing-related theme (and the current lineup of the Rock Bottom Remainders seems to include almost every living writer that isn’t me or Jay) so we figured that since we are also geeks (well, Dawn isn’t), that we should at least consider some tech-y names as well. I was particularly proud of:

Then Dawn suggested:

  • Mulva

Which I thought was hilarious, but my buddy Paul said “What, now you’re in a Seinfeld tribute band?”

Paul offered dozens (and that’s being conservative) of options, but then again, he’s been compiling band names since college. In the end, we decided to go with The Batch 10. No, it’s not inspired. But there can only be so many Decemberists and Throwing Muses out there.

Cats are Flammable

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

The week before Christmas was memorable in my home this year becuase of the Great Windstorm of 2006. You might have heard about the storm that knocked out power for a million people around Puget Sound. Well, we lived at Ground Zero, and we were powerless for just about the longest of anyone: six days. Six agonizingly long, electricity-free days. no TV, no computer, no Internet. No Xbox, no Colbert Report. But strangly, what I found that I missed the most was something that’s been around for a century: the light bulb. Every day, I’d wake up in darkness, spend the day in murky, dim-grey overcast dusk-like Seattle Day Darkness, then watch it get ever dimmer until we were plunged back into the blackness of evening. It didn’t help that we broke our hurricaine lamp on day 2 (here’s a fun family activity: try picking up hundreds of shards of glass from the carpet in near-total darkness with just a few flashlights).

Each morning I’d get up, light about four candles on the kitchen table, feed the cats, and then sit down to a bowl of cereal. Round about day 4, Marin’s orange tabby, Muff, jumped up on the kitchen table and waddled over to greet me. What happened next was startling and unexpected: he brushed past a candle, which caused his right side to instantly burst into flames with a dramatic foosh! And dramatic it was; flames leapt inches above the top of Muff’s back, like he was feline kindling.

Now, a brighter (or less obese) cat might have shouted (in catspeak) “oh my god oh my god oh my god” and darted out of the room, complicating an already “flammable” situation. But not Muff. He stood there, blinking at me, while I jumped to my feet and patted him down. It only took a second or two to extinguish him, and he was no worse for wear. In fact, the only evidence of the accident was some singed fur.

And that’s how I spent my Christmas vacation.