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Tuesday, February 25 2014 22:44

Old Crankypants: Chiberia does not exist...

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I hate cutesy catchphrases that are delivered with a smug grin, a chuckle, or wink. Have them delivered by a news anchor, a major website or even a lesser-known internet jockey, and they're even worse... amped-up and ready to irritate. I have a growing list of phrases, along with some individual words and terms that make my blood boil... or "grind my gears" as the wise Peter Griffin once said. One of the latest is "Chiberia," a made-up, annoying term used to describe the arctic temperatures in the Chicago area this year. I'd originally thought that the Chicago Sun-times coined the term, but according to FOX 32, it was a National Weather Service forecaster named Ricky Castro that is to blame. Tonight, as news of another snowfall came across the television, I watched in agony as another anchor delivered the "Chiberia" name with a grin and that fake "ha-ha" delivery that only one at a newsdesk can properly pull off.

Last night, I went back to elementary school... our first visit to what will be our girls' home base for learning for the first several grades of their public school careers. We're about six months out from the start of Kindergarten for Addie, and it's a close call as to what's been more surprising - the fact that we just did the open house for the Fall 2014 school year... or the fact that we'll have a kindergartner. I'm going for the latter, as I still can't believe that this little girl is going to be five this year.

This Country is regressing. Despite all the "talk" of moving forward, creating a brighter future for our children and embracing a World where there is equality and freedom for everyone - The United States is in rapid decline, and there is little to show me otherwise. Here in Illinois, Chicago has taken the stage as becoming "the wild west" once more - a place where crime pays and the bullets fly early and often. Since the installation of Rahm Emanuel as Mayor, Chicago has fast-begun reverting to the ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING depiction of the City - a dirty and ominous place where you have to question whether it's really safe to take the kids. If it's "keeping up appearances" that create a first impression, The Windy City is also failing - from burnt out lights on the welcome sign to NAVY PIER (the City's top tourist destination), to decaying Christmas decorations at O'Hare airport (saw plenty of half-lit wreaths still displayed as of February 13!) or signage where "Mayor Richard M. Daley" has been hastily painted-over rather than being replaced with the new regime. While I could go on about the plight of Illinois and Chicagoland in general, it's the "news" that brings to light the further regression from other States, and each day brings forth another head-scratcher. What the hell is wrong with Kansas?

I was named after both of my Great Grandfathers on my Fathers side. "James" comes from the middle name of John J. Magoon, a man who died about a year and a half before I was born. "Charles" comes from the middle name of Bert C. Zahn, who I was fortunate to meet and spend some time with as a small child. I knew that Great-Grandpa Bert had been a pioneer of sorts in the world of screen printing, penning the book SILK SCREEN METHODS OF REPRODUCTION, a copy of which I bought on eBay some time ago. Great-Grandpa John was a little more of a mystery, as I'd been told as a child that he was "a coffee taster," but never really explored much beyond that. Despite all the talk of ancestry and genealogy that's been growing in popularity over the years, I hadn't paid much mind to my own... until a trip to Ohio last Fall opened an unexpected door to my family history.

Note: My wife told me last night that she'd prefer I not post this... my annual anti-Super Bowl post. But since it was already written a few days in advance, I'd hate to let it go to waste.

This Sunday, while most of America is spending the evening shouting at the TV... wait a second. I wrote this before, didn't I? Well, yes, I sorta did, on "Super Sunday" last year. So here we are, nearly 365 days later, and SUPER BOWL XLVIII is about to kick-off, and just as I've done for many years prior, I will be watching - or doing - something completely unrelated to the "The Big Game." Ah yes, "The Big Game," the legally-enacted phrase that so many businesses use in place of "Super Bowl" thanks to the NFL's iron-fisted restrictions on people calling the game what it actually is (seriously: Does anyone think that some crappy used car lot really has any kind of official relationship with the NFL?). But then again, I don't like the NFL, either. Funny enough, I didn't even know who was in this year's Super Bowl until yesterday, and just found out where it's happening today.

Throughout the course of internet history, there have been many videos that feature "Extreme" sports of the winter variety. Skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding, and even some good old-fashioned sled hill awesomeness have been featured, with many of these videos being hosted at a place called YouTube (you might've heard of it). Tonight, I present to you The Most EPIC Sledding Video Ever!*, one that stars my four-year-old daughter, Adalyn, as she tackles the BIG sled hill for the first time ever. And the second time. I've taken the liberty of editing the video to include shots from both I and my wife, and have soundtracked it with a completely unnecessarily, yet totally necessary cinematic score. My daughter is a badass. There's no question.

Ah yes, the traditional "evil baby" movie of the year is upon us. Like ROSEMARY'S BABY, THE OMEN, IT'S ALIVE, ORPHAN and countless others before it, DEVIL'S DUE (no, not the comic book company) is arriving courtesy of 20th Century Fox on January 17th, and you're right, it is a weird thing for me to feature in my "Dad Blog" portion of The Rock Father. Funny thing is, I have a long association with the "horror" realm (even worked for FANGORIA for a short time), so it's not that far off. But why I'm covering it today? A hilarious prank that the marketing team pulled on unsuspecting pedestrians in New York City. Check out the "Devil Baby Attack" video below, but not if you don't like creepy things, hidden camera gags, or awesome radio-controlled mischief. It's a pretty classy approach...

I will start by asking you the same question that I've been asked several times so far today: "Have you seen DAD METAL?" (or, "Dude, why haven't you posted about this yet?" if you're me). Now, let's put this another way - you know those OSCAR MAYER Selects "Yes Food" Lunch Meat commercials where some sad Dad is constantly told "NO" by his boring wife when he tries to do cool things like ride a tractor through a Home Depot or quit his job to start a blog (seriously, who would ever do that?)... well imagine that we've just found out what happens to that Dad (played by actor Ben Weber) and his friends after the lunch meat and hot dog ads are over. They turn to DAD METAL and DAD METAL II: 18 YEARS OF HELL, both of which are available from a TV offer or by calling 1-800-666-6666 (or so says FUNNY OR DIE). Take a look...

Originally Posted at SproutOnline on 01/01/2014. Rescued via Internet Archive on 10/26/2015

I've never been one to put much stock into "New Year's Resolutions," as they always seem to be cliche promises that are made simply to be made, and then eventually, to be forgotten more so than broken.

The most retro-awesome Christmas video you'll see this year!

For Christmas 2013, this very special footage has been unearthed to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Christmas 1983. Yes, it's The 30th Anniversary Special Edition of a Christmas from the year that brought us A CHRISTMAS STORY, RETURN OF THE JEDI, CABBAGE PATCH KIDS, THE DISNEY CHANNEL, the CARE BEARS, MY LITTLE PONY, the video debut of MICHAEL JACKSON'S THRILLER and THE A-TEAM. It was a highly influential year for children like myself... kids that are now parents.

AdalynIt was sort of surreal, but on a Friday night back in July, I stood inside American Girl Place on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, sipping champagne with other grownups, sans our children. It was a baby shower of sorts to celebrate the relaunch of American Girl's Bitty Baby line (I've blogged about it before), and the one thing I kept thinking the whole night was "I wish that Addie was here with me right now." Bitty Baby arrived here at Rock Father HQ for Addie's birthday in August, and ever since has been a regular companion. Just last week, we took Addie and her little sister to American Girl Place for the very first time.

Earlier tonight, while having dinner at Infields beneath Macy's on State Street in Chicago, my brother-in-law's girlfriend asked me about my family, and if there were any real "Chicago traditions" that we kept going. Honestly, my answer was "no." As a whole, there really haven't been any longstanding traditions rooted in Chicago for us, despite how much I talk up my love for the city here on The Rock Father. The reality is that when it comes to tradition, the ones we have are the ones that my wife and I have been establishing, and those are the ones that will matter most for our daughters. The big one, is our trip to visit Santa Claus... who we actually visit twice. The first time is always at Bass Pro Shops on Thanksgiving night, and the second (the really big event) is when we visit him in Santaland at Macy's. Last night, our 2013 sit-down took place.

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