Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bad Elf

My idea of the perfect elf is something similar to the character played by Will Ferrell in the movie, Elf. A good elf should be full of the Christmas spirit, oozes love and kindness, and wraps the perfect present. I try to be full of the Christmas spirit and ooze love and kindness, but I fail miserably in one important category- present wrapping.

I try to be a good wrapper, I really do. I attempt to carefully estimate the exact amount of wrapping paper needed. I fold the paper with nice little creases; try to make triangles that fold in on themselves to cover the ends, and use just the minimum of tape, but the presents I wrap are easy to spot under the tree. It is like my presents have been dragged behind Santa's sled over all the neighbors’ roofs.

When I wrap presents, the Lorax cries. I often find myself using twice the amount of paper that is needed for some gifts. The ends of the gifts have so much paper bunched up that I feel compelled to get my staple gun and tack down the corners. The seams are angled oddly on the sides, and sometimes on the front of my gifts. On the presents that I don't use too much paper, I don't use nearly enough paper. It is not unusual for my presents to have holes on the sides and on the back of the gifts that must be patched with scraps. The end result is like some sort of patch work wrapping experiment that requires four times the normal amount of tape. The frightening Frankenstein present.

There is no perfectly wrapped gift from me. There are always highly noticeable issues that stand out like neck bolts. It is like I am missing the present wrapping gene.

Last night the marathon of gift wrapping began, but Amy was not feeling well. Hanging out with the kids over the last two days without me left her worn-out, and fighting a bad cold. She totally has my sympathy, but with three kids and two days before the major unwrapping event, the job had to be done.

So, I volunteered to wrap presents and told her to just label the presents as I finish. I had completely forgotten that I cannot do this task without looking like a spaz. How that had escaped me I really don't know because as soon as the present and the wrapping tools are within arm’s length, it all comes rushing back to me.

Amy was watching me align presents and create my Christmas origami mysteries, but I refused to meet her eye. I knew she was ready to burst out laughing and I just couldn't be distracted from the task at hand. There was no time to be mocked.

But there was plenty of time to curse and mutter under my breath about the ridiculous shape of toy packaging- large rectangular cuboids- Stupid!

Tape is another problem for me- sometimes it is too sticky, other times it is not sticky enough, and just when you are on a large, challenging wrapping job and you only have one hand free to seal the deal, you run out. Even though I buy tape three packs at a time, I can never find the other two rolls. I have been known to resort to using duct tape in a pinch.

This year I bought a handy little paper cutter. You just run the tool down the length of the paper and it cuts the perfect straight line. Bull! This thing cannot cut a straight line, and after you have used it a few times, it no longer wants to cut paper at all. It wants to shred paper, making bunched up tears, and jagged ripples that make every cut an adventure.

I was trying to do my present wrapping on my bed. There really couldn't be a more difficult place to wrap things, it is too soft, with pillows and blankets and I always tear holes in the paper by accidently pushing the present through the paper on the reverse side and into the bed. The problem is that my little people are all jacked up on the idea of Christmas presents and the sound of wrapping paper is like the sound of bells to Pavlov's dogs. When you are an elf at my house, you must wrap under the most strict security measures possible- locked door, wait an hour after the kid's bedtime, and you must listen for the sounds of stirring gremlins. There is no wrapping at the dining room table…

For some problems in life there are no solutions, we just do the best we can. The wrapping problem continues, and Amy's cold is worse. I bought lots of extra tape, and few extra 1000 ft rolls of wrapping paper. Later today I will coffee up and do it all. I am a little over halfway through the gifts that I remember needing to wrap, but the job must be done – even if I am a bad elf!

In the spirit of the season, I would like to share this little song with you-

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ninja-Like Reflexes

It is important for me to say that I am against anyone throwing anything at the President. Now that I have said that, I think the video that came out today of the shoe throwing Iraqi is incredible, and in some ways very funny, for a few reasons.

1.) President Bush is standing maybe 20 feet away from the attacker in this video, in a completely relaxed stance, just doing his normal Head of State thing, when this guy whips off his shoe and chucks it at about 90 miles and hour. The aim was precisely for the center of Bush's face yet he slipped it easily. Awesome! Did he have special ninja training to prepare for the job?

2.) Then the second shoe comes and it is within 5 inches of the first throw! Wow! It is really hard to throw a shoe accurately, and within 3 seconds, the second shoe was heading to the same spot! I have been throwing shoes around the house all day, and I can tell you for a fact that is hard to do. Did this guy take lessons? How do you get that good at throwing shoes? It must take a lot of practice time. I mean, seriously, you would have to wear the same shoes all the time to be that consistently good. A different shoe would require a different grip, and it would have different aerodynamic properties. There are just a large number of factors that come together to make me believe the attacker was at least the best shoe thrower on his block.

The speed that he got both of his shoes off and threw them, incredible! He was like Clint Eastwood. He fired both rounds before anyone in the room except Bush could move.

3.) Was the Secret Service on a smoke break? In the movies these guys react like lightning to any threat, and then shot and kill people. How did they miss this? Maybe this was only a minor attack and the President, by rule, must take this one on his own or something- hence the previously mentioned Ninja training. After a couple of guys did jump on the shoe thrower, you see a secret service man comes over to Bush and he waves him off like, "I got this one. My momma throws a shoe harder than that." The secret service guy was a little late after all.

Maybe there is some sort of threat protocol; for bombs- we cover the president with our bodies, for guns- the guy closest to the president covers him with his body everybody else shoots the guy with the gun, for knives- we get in the way of the attacker and shoot him till he stops moving, for a shoe attack we ???? Maybe no one has ever thought that a shoe could be hurled with such ferocity and accuracy. The split second it took to process what was happening, then running through the protocols and finding nothing, left them paralyzed. I am pretty sure there are some secret agents getting grilled over this attack. And maybe that is a good thing. I do not want anyone to hurt my President.

4.) Bush slipped the first shoe with ease but the second one was partially deflected by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki while Bush was attempting to block the shoe as well. The total effect was that the shoe was harmlessly pushed out of the way. But if you look closely, it seems like Bush was trying to catch the shoe! How awesome would that have been if Bush caught the shoe and, still using his Ninja skills, immediately returned fire with the assailant’s weapon nailing him right between the eyes! I tell you right now it would have been the all time greatest YouTube video ever. I would pay money to own that!

5.) Every culture is entitled to have their own serious insults, and I am not making fun of that guy who threw the shoe or his culture, but does the insult count as much if you don't hit the target?

6.) I realize that this incident makes many people upset. Some people are upset with Bush. Some people are upset with the attacker. I am proud of Bush standing up and facing high velocity loafers at 20 feet. If he had been hit I would be angry at the attacker, angry at the Secret Service for failing to protect our leader, and angry at all of the movies that falsely depict the protection skills of the Secret Service. Instead, in my eyes, Bush saved the day.