“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

The Geeky Dad? That's me.
Saturday, January 31, 2009

So you've all seen the rabid dads and moms who sit in the stands during sports events, yelling and ranting like maniacs? Well, I've always made fun of these people ... and I really shouldn't. Because doing so makes me a hypocrite.

You've heard of soccer moms and football dads? Well, I'm a Mock Trial dad. A quick explanation: In Mock Trial competition, students are given a case to study. Then they compete as either defense or prosecution against another team. A real judge and jury presides over each competition.

My daughter's team is one of the best in the state, and last night they won county level once again. And when we learned they'd won, I jumped to my feet and whooped and hollered like a redneck at a NASCAR event. I had to fight to control myself from yelping out a dog-like chant, jabbing my fist in the air.

We're not all that different, the football dads and mock-trial dads. Instead of saying, "Dude, how could you let that offensive end run free like that?" we say, "Why didn't you object on grounds of speculation?"

Instead of saying, "Man, could you believe that tackle?" we say, "Man, was that closing argument a killer or what?"

Instead of Gatorade, we provide high-protein snacks of nuts and dried fruit to keep them sharp and witty.

A Mock trial dad carries lint brush and hairpins and hi-liters in his backpack.

Life Tip #42111383A4
Thursday, January 29, 2009

Once, when I was a reporter for the newspaper in Rochester, New York, I was on the thruway, on my way to Albany for an interview with the governor (Cuomo back then) ... and I had to go to the bathroom. Badly. And I was running late. Very late. And I'd heard from other reporters that tardy journalists were sometimes sent back home with no interview. Every minute counted in this situation.

And, man oh man, did I have to pee. I looked around the car for anything that I could use as a makeshift bedpan while driving. I had just cleaned out the car. Nothing. And then I scavenged through my backpack with one hand, my other hand on the steering wheel....and I pulled out a .........disposable diaper.

Yep. You guessed it. I am pleased to announce that one Pampers will sufficiently hold one adult-size portion of urine.

Easy clean-up, too. I taped up diaper and tossed it into the trashcan on the way into the capitol ... and made it to my interview just on time.

I probably shouldn't have shaken the governor's hand, as I did ... but what he doesn't know won't hurt him.

Tattoos and Disney princesses
Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We've been re-watching old Disney movies in our house lately, which prompted us to ask: Of all the modern-day Disney heroines, which one of them would be most likely to get a tattoo? (...though Pocahontas already has one, my daughter pointed out.) ... So let's focus specifically on those tattoos that women get just above the crack of their butts. Some people call them tramp stamps. Others call them butt caps. They're hard to miss; you can see these peeking out from the rear waistline of the pants. They're very common among young mommies who were not raised with National Public Radio.

Honestly, I think Ariel from The Little Mermaid would be the most likely to get a tramp stamp. I've never been a fan of hers. She's dumber than Jasmine (Aladdin) and Belle (Beauty and the Beast). She's not happy with her own disposition EVEN THOUGH SHE'S A FREAKIN' PRINCESS! She wants everything she doesn't have, including LEGS! She also defies her father all the time. And, let's face it, there's just something slutty and centerfoldish about her.

Now, then ... a tramp stamp for Ariel....what would she choose?
Hmmmm. An eel? A starfish? A very-stylized "H2O"? That would be kinda funny.

Dear Author: I'll give you until page 100!
Monday, January 26, 2009

I used to force myself to finish every single book I started reading ... even if I didn't like it. (It's the German in me.) And then, some time around age 30, I realized how stupid this was ... and that I was wasting my time. Already overwhelmed by the number of books to read, and realizing I would die long before I was able to read even a fraction of them, I made a new rule: The Page 100 rule. If the author hasn't hooked me by page 100, then I give up on that book and pick up another.

Now, that doesn't mean I toss it in the Goodwill pile. In fact, I might even pick it up in a year or so and give it another try. It's odd how we won't like a book for the longest time, and then, suddenly, we pick it up again and say, "Wow, what a great book!" Our filters as readers evolve as we change, I believe, so something that bores us at age 24 might really engage us at age 28 or 41. It all depends on what has happened to us emotionally and intellectually ... where we are at that point in our lives.

How about you? How many pages do you give an author to engage you before giving up?

How people find me...
Saturday, January 24, 2009

Check out my essay at the southern authors blogspot this week:
Click here to be transported.

That's MISTER Boy Scout to you!
Thursday, January 22, 2009

When I was a wee lad I was a bit of a momma's boy. I did the Cub Scout thing, but when it came time to evolve into a Webelo and, finally, a bonafide Boy Scout, I stopped scouting because the latter groups required camping. And while I like to camp as an adult I thought back then that going to the bathroom outdoors was downright uncivilized, and I would have no part of it.
I went on one camping trip as a Webelo, and when they showed me the toilet -- a plank of wood with a big round hole in it, placed over two fallen trees -- well, that was the end of my scouting days. Now, I wish I would have stuck it out.

Well, one of my daughter's high-school friends, a brand-spanking-new Eagle Scout, sensitively noted my scout envy and recently gave me a gift:

I'd wear it in public, proudly...but isn't there a law against that? And, John ... isn't that the wrong salute? Isn't that the Webelo's salute?

About that song, Aretha ...
Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I was looking forward to the Queen of Soul's singing "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at yesterday's inauguration. I was prepared to cry. Instead, I am sulking. I'm a little mad.

I love Motown, but a presidential inauguration isn't the place for it. I didn't want entertainment; I wanted to feel a rush of patriotism, and Aretha's wonderfully unique trills and dips just were not appropriate at that time and place and event. I honestly don't have a problem with one artist interpreting another artist's work in his or her own way ... but there are some things that shouldn't be messed with.

Imaging if you had a favorite dish (let's say, oyster stew) your mother made every single Christmas Eve. It had been made the same way your entire life. And then, one year, out of the blue, she decides to replace the oysters with crab and chicken ... oh, and let's throw in a few squirts of Vietnamese hot sauce.

You would feel betrayed. An institution had been corrupted. Right?

Fair comparison, guys?

Life Mystery #653-GV
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why is it so hard to find good Chinese food outside of New York and San Francisco? Granted, there are some exceptions to this rule -- oddly enough, some of the best Chinese food I've had was last summer in Minot, North Dakota -- but, in general, I am disappointed with the quality most places I go. And I am eternally optimistic; anytime I see a new Chinese takeout open up in some strip mall I always give it a try ... and I almost always come away disappointed. It's bland ... and there's NEVER enough ginger or garlic. I'll even go out of my way and say something like, "I like BIG BOLD FLAVORS! Just cook me the same thing that YOU eat after closing, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it."

But, alas, I am given a concoction that tastes like something from a steam table of some benign cafeteria. WHY!?!?!?! I don't have this problem in Thai or Vietnamese or Korean restaurants ... only Chinese. The food just seems to be dumbed down to a middle-school palate. And I believe that somewhere out there is a factory, hidden in some back alley in Rapid City or Fresno or some place, and on its door is written Gloppy, Salty, Bland Brown Sauce for American Chinese Food Inc.

Is there some secret word or phrase I don't know of? Something that I'm supposed to say to the wait staff of a Chinese restaurant that lets them know I want the REAL stuff and that I won't send it back to the kitchen?

Buying a new toilet: Lesson #215G
Sunday, January 18, 2009

As my readers know from last week, I am in the process of finding a replacement for the exquisite 1951 burgundy-colored toilet in our home and have begun the search in earnest. Some things I have learned:

Two shapes of toilet bowls: elongated (more oval) and round (smaller, with a stunted look). My plumber called the other day and said, "We can only find that weird gray color in an elongated size. Would that work?"

"Just a minute," I said. "My bathroom is teeny-tiny. Let me go check. ... How much longer would it be?" I asked him, sitting on the pot.

"About three inches longer," he replied.

"Well, three more inches and my knees will be hitting the door ... so I guess the answer is no."

"Now," I said. "I have another question. I went onto the Kohler site and saw lots of talk about 'comfort-height' toilets. I don't know what that is, but I certainly am interested in something called 'comfort height'. It sounds very ... comfortable."

He proceeded to give me a short history in toilet evolution. Apparently, when the new higher toilets for the handicapped came out in the '70s, they were called "handicapped model." Well, evidently everyone, even the non-handicapped people, loved these toilets because they were three or so inches closer to their bums -- they didn't have to crouch down as far -- so, VOILA!!!! ... they changed the style from "handicapped model" to "comfort-height" model ... and started to sell the bejesus out of them.

You read it here FIRST!

True Secret #17884
Friday, January 16, 2009

I used to be fat. Not for long, maybe three or so years when I was a kid ... but it was during THOSE years: right before adolescence, when the self-esteem and psyche are oh-so-delicate. Right when I was getting interested in girls. All I can say is this: Bad timing.

Fatty Addy.

I wore husky-size pants, available in Burlington, Colorado ONLY at the Tots-To-Teens store. (Mom, do I have the name right?). I would squeeze into them on a Friday night and splash on some Jovan Musk cologne and walk down to the movie theatre, hoping that some sweet girl would sit by me and let me hold her hand. I usually ended up sitting alone. Probably because I was also the class tattletale. (Fat kids make great tattletales.) Oh, and I was bad at sports ... which meant I was OBSESSED with yelling out the score of whatever game we happened to be playing in P.E. ... because I wanted to contribute in SOME way.

I have this hunch that those who are fat as kids are health/gym freaks as adults ... like me. There's just no way you want to re-visit those feelings.

Relive my childhood? Not for all the coffee in Kenya!

A simple pleasure of wintertime
Thursday, January 15, 2009

My definition of perfect timing: While the snow is flying and the landscape is brown and barren in much of the U.S., something wonderful is happening in warmer climes: The citrus trees are bearing fruit! Lemons, limes, grapefruits, oranges, tangelos, tangerines ... they're all the perfect antidote for senses that have felt frozen and dead for months. What's nicer than peeling an orange or slicing a lemon in the dead of winter and breathing in those microscopic oils that smell like sunshine! There's good reason why so many household cleaners are offered in citrus varities.
Something I do: whenever I fly I always take with me some sort of orange/tangerine. Sometime in the middle of the flight, when I'm weary of breathing that very-stale, recirculated cabin air, I take out the fruit and start to peel it. People from as far away as two rows up and two rows back all crane their necks, looking about them for the source of that great smell ... and then they finally find me, with my orange, and they look at my orange like hungry dogs: "Oh, Man! An Orange! Why didn't I think of bringing an orange?!"

But YOU did bring an orange. And you will enjoy it. Or, if you're feeling nice ... you'll share the sunshine.

Reasons why I never read the arts section of The New York Times
Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Take a look at this sampling of stories taken from one single day:

"Hirst's Art Auction Attracts Plenty of Bidders, Despite Financial Turmoil."
"A stylist devoted to making idleness look chic."
"Revealing Verdi's colors through the shadings of a Russian voice."
"Saluting a change agent and a maverick of dance"
Ad? Ad? ... Wake up, Ad!

Honestly, I'm glad someone's writing about these things. They elevate us all and keep us civilized. I just hope the three people in the world who read these stories ENJOY THEM!

Ad Takes on American Express. Ad wins.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

About five years ago I got a platinum American Express for my "business" of Ad Hudler Novelist. The annual cost: About $500. Two important perks that justified the cost: FOUR free companion air-travel tickets each year, and free access to most airport VIP lounges.

Well, the ticket thing was just cancelled ... so I called to cancel my card. It's not worth $500, and we already have platinum personal cards that cover the other benefits.

The phone rep asked me why I wanted to cancel. I told her. She persisted. I persisted. "Just cancel the card, please. You can't change my mind. Really."

"Don't you know you're saving money by having this card?" she asked me.

I replied, "Barbara ... I was never really good in math, but I'm thinking there is a severe flaw in your calculations here. Please cancel the card."

She went on and on about the benefits. I went on and on about how I didn't need them.

Then, she transferred me to a "specialist," which basically meant she knew she couldn't win with me, so it was time for some tag-team action.

Judy, too, was persistent. Judy, too, told me I "couldn't afford" not to have the card. Judy, too, ignored my constant plea to cancel the account.

Transfer to Scott. I'm guessing Scott was the head-guy in the phone bank ... the Gestapo Guy they turn to as a last resort.

AGAIN, I asked him to terminate my card. I tried to do it politely, I really did. But at one point I found myself yelling, "Scott! ... Scott! ... Scott! ... Scott!" over his talking because he wouldn't shut up about the card and how my life would be OVER if I cancelled it.

He simply would not shut up. And I finally had to yell -- and I mean YELL:


Silence for a second, and then: "But you understand you're actually losing money by cancelling this card," he said.

"I'm willing to take that chance, Scott, I really am."

And I hung up, victorious but trembling with rage.

Dear grocery-store manager ...
Monday, January 12, 2009

Sometimes there's a key ingredient you need for some recipe, and the problem is they're sold only in multiple numbers ... and you need only ONE!

Celery comes to mind. How many times do you require just one stalk? Two at the most. And you try to make yourself feel better by saying, "Oh, but this stuff is just so DARN TASTY! My kids'll eat the rest, I'm sure."

Chipotle peppers packed in adobe sauce are another. You NEVER need more than one of these. Hell, two of them could burn your house down. "Oh, I'll freeze the rest," I've told myself. And then I forgot I've frozen them ... and I end up, two years later, with a collection of unrecognizable brown-red lumps that look like someone's frozen stool sample.

There are plenty of other things that need to come packaged in smaller amounts: cardamom pods. Soda pop (whatever happened to a SIX-pack?)

Any others?

Life Lesson #542G
Saturday, January 10, 2009

Do NOT try this at home:

Why I love Country Music and the "shaving legs" saga
Friday, January 9, 2009

I grew up in the middle of nowhere -- East Jesus, we called it -- a town on the High Plains of eastern Colorado, 170 miles from the nearest airport or McDonalds, though there is a McDonalds there now. This meant we only had one radio station to listen to ... and that was KNAB, 1140 on the AM dial. And since my town was in the middle of ranch and farmland, KNAB's format was ... you guessed it: Country.

As a result, I grew up not liking country music because it was my only option, so, obviously, I rebelled against it.

But, having lived most of my adult life on the East Coast, I have since re-visited country music and have come to love it, especially classic country ... not that new crap that can't make up its mind whether it's rock or country.

I think the other reason I like country music is because I can understand the lyrics. I've always thought I had this genetic flaw that didn't allow me to understand song lyrics. (Remember the Pina Colada song from the '70s? Well, I thought they were singing "I like Bean Enchiladas," not "I like Pina Coladas.")

Years later I realized that it wasn't my ears that were the problem -- it was the singers' inability to articulate. But those country singers ... their diction is awesome. And here is a great song by Deana Carter called DID I SHAVE MY LEGS FOR THIS?

"Flowers and wine is what I thought I would find
When I came home from working tonight
Well now here I stand, over this frying pan
And you want a cold one again

I bought these new heels, did my nails
Had my hair done just right
I thought this new dress was a sure bet
For romance tonight

Well it's perfectly clear,
between the TV and beer
I won't get so much as a kiss

As I head for the door
I turn around to be sure
Did I shave my legs for this?

Now when we first met
you promised you'd get
A house on a hill with a pool

Well this trailer stays wet
and were swimmin' in debt
And you want me to go back to school

I bought these new heels,
did my nails
Had my hair done just right
I thought this new dress was a sure bet
For romance tonight

Well it's perfectly clear, between the TV and beer
I won't get so much as a kiss
As I head for the door
I turn around to be sure
Did I shave my legs for this?
Darlin', did I shave my legs for this?

Ouch ...
Thursday, January 8, 2009

This email sent from a reader, in reaction to yesterday's blog about women drivers and cell phones ...

"I couldn't agree with you more about the cell phone/driving situation. So many accidents and deaths have been caused since the addition of the cell phone to the car. It is a problem. I have my cell phone in the car for emergencies only. Luckily, I haven't had to use it for an emergency. The battery usually dies out from non-use. But I realize I am one of few "Ladies" who do not walk, talk, AND use the restroom while talking on the cell phone ... yes, it's true. "Oh, let me tell you what happened today..." FLUSH. ... Please tell me you are not the 'gentleman' that is so self-important and so impatient that you cannot tolerate a momentary lapse of instant gratification. "Green light! GO!" HONK , "Turn woman, turn!" HONK, "Move, get outta my way!" HONK. Sounds almost as disgusting and annoying as "Uh, huh..." FLUSH.

Ad again: I regret to say that that is EXACTLY what I am yelling in the car. Almost word for word. I have suffered from road rage ever since I began driving. I'm thinking some of it comes from growing up in small town of 3,500 people where EVERYTHING was within a 2-minute drive and, thus, I have no patience for being in a car longer than a few minutes. That's my excuse.

I am, however, starting to mellow a little.

Thanks for the mirror, dear reader in Georgia. I will strive to improve.

Ladies, please ...
Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I know you all take pride in your multi-tasking talents, but I am begging you not to hone these skills while driving on our public roadways. I have been forced to honk WAY too many times this week at drivers in front of me who failed to notice when the red light turned green ... and nearly every single time it was a woman driving. ... AND, in most of those cases, she was talking on her G.D. cell phone!

Trust me: the call can wait. Our moms managed quite well without the nifty little devices. I know y'all are the more social of the two genders, but please ... keep our safety and societal efficiency in mind here. New studies are showing that the human brain is NOT capable of engaging in conversation and tackling other chores efficiently ... and the hands-free option does not help any.

Do what I do: Simply refuse to answer your phone while driving. Then, after you've parked in the lot or driveway, you can return the call.

Please. Do you realize how much better traffic would flow if we all just concentrated on DRIVING?!?! That means less time commuting ... and more time at home ... talking on the phone.

Goodbye to Dear Johnny
Monday, January 5, 2009

A sad time at the Hudler house because we are losing a friend: the toilet in what we call our "RV bathroom" ... so named because it's the size of a bathroom in an RV: VERY small. Everything in this bathroom is original (from 1951), and when we renovated the other three bathrooms we just couldn't find it in ourselves to change this one. And here's the main reason:

Now, is that a work of art, or what? They don't make toilets this color any more, do they? And the toilet seat? REAL SEASHELLS and REAL DEAD SEAHORSES arranged in clear Lucite. It's a beauty, don't you think? The poor toilet is leaking like a sieve, and it takes too much water (2 minutes to fill the tank) so I'm afraid it must go. I'm thinking of a second life for the toilet seat, though ... hmmmmm. Wall decoration? Necklace? A bean-bag toss game?

Ad "talks" with Novel Journey
Sunday, January 4, 2009

A lot of author interviews these days are conducted online instead of voice-to-voice. Here's one I recently did with Kelly Klepfer at Novel Journey, one of my favorite book sites.
Click here to be transported to the interview. Hold on now ...

About that checkbook, Mr. Hudler ...
Saturday, January 3, 2009

Whoops. Got sidetracked there for a few days. I guess it's because, after setting our New Year's Goals (see previous post), we had to go to Georgia to visit our financial planner. And guess what? According to his estimate, Carol and I only have to earn $3.5 million dollars every month for the next 63 years in order to have enough money to eat. Gosh, I guess things could be worse, right?

At any rate, I only met about 35-percent of my goals. Our daughter, Haley, won this year's goal contest with a very ambitious set of 2008 goals. One of them was this: "Help Obama win the White House." Not bad, considering he hadn't even won the democratic nomination at the time she made the goal.

So, even though I did set new goals this year, I'm tossing them all aside and instead going to dream up ways to save money. I've started a list:

1. Use toilet paper ONLY WHEN NECESSARY

2. Pour leftover milk from bowl back into carton after done eating cereal.

3. Work on advising Carol, my wife, that she does NOT need that 23rd pair of brown sandals. They really do ALL LOOK THE SAME!!

4. Teach the cats how to eat their hunt. (Wouldn't it be nice if they actually consumed that rat or lizard instead of letting it rot on the doorstep or in the back of my closet?)

5. Eliminate showering. (See this blog entry on why we want a bidet.)

6. Shoot the neighbor's barking dog and eat it for dinner. (Just kidding ... or am I? Hmmm, one of my books, "Southern Living," DOES include an antagonist who poisons the neighbor dogs because they're messing in her yard.) Or was she a PROtagonist? I can't remember.

Sorry. Very much on edge these days because of the bad news from my financial guy.

Excuse me now. I've got to go siphon my neighbor's gas before he wakes up.