Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

My Photo
Location: United States

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"You mean you'll put down your rock and I'll put down my sword and we'll try to kill each other like civilized people?" - Wesley,Princess Bride


A sign at the Ren Faire®. This was in a cane store, where you could buy, umm, a cane. Or a wizard’s staff. Note that they don’t honor Ye Newe Worlde Expresse.

This year we followed our tradition of eschewing the rampaging mobs of bargain shoppers to head to the Texas Renaissance Festival®. By “tradition,” I mean that we have done it once before, and intended to do it again. By “eschewing,” I mean chewing in pumpkin pie in an ‘s’ pattern to get the Thanksgiving turkey from between our teeth after waking from L-tryptophan-induced comas. Besides, being around a group of sword and battle-ax wielding nerds is far safer than being anywhere near Best Buy® on Black Friday.

We loaded into the Wildermobile to head to TexRenFest (that’s what all the cool kids with the +2 swords call it). By loaded, I mean we skillfully smashed four adults and two children into a car that comfortably seats three adults (if one of them is short) and two children. In a pinch, I think you could fit sixteen children under the age of eight in to the car (or even more if you put infants in pet carriers), though the driving might be a touch more erratic when the seven-year-old driver forgot completely about the driving thing in order to wrestle the kid sitting next to him.

Notice that there were two extra adults? The Mrs.’ parents were in town, and we had decided to go to the Ren Fest. The Mrs. has the nicest parents, and it was wonderful having Thanksgiving with them. Thankfully, they were flexible about being extra close during the trip, by which I mean that I finally used a shoehorn to get us all in the car. We took turns breathing.

The loading of the car itself was problematic, since we were leaving in the early morning (it was just after 11AM) and the environment among the people in the car was similar to a bag of tom cats that had been shaken. I just think that the adults were caffeine deprived, and the kids had been nipping into some leftover Cool Whip®. After various iterations of putting kids in the trunk were rejected for various reasons, we finally managed to find a pattern that more or less assured mutual discomfort. After things finally calmed down, we drove the two hours from our home to TexRenFest©. Whataburgers® helped improve the mood significantly.

We finally got to our destination, whereupon we immediately saw the ranks of other people heading into the festival. About one person out of ten was dressed in either some form of velvet dress, leather armor with spiky-things on it that would frighten both the Predator® and the Alien©, someone auditioning to be Johnny Depp®, or just generally wearing flouncy clothing. Most interestingly, I did see a girl dressed in a chain mail bikini, but she was walking (I’m not making this up) staring cross-eyed at a slight head-tilt upwards as if she were taking instructions from a tiny insect god. She was armed.

I don’t know about you, but people taking instructions from tiny insect gods are rarely the kind of person who I feel will give good advice about building a strong portfolio for investment advice. I’m not going to judge and say that those people are weird. But they are.

One of the more distracting things was being called “m’lord.” It’s cute the first time that you hear it, but after that it just grates on me. Being called m’lord after you buy a funnel cake from “Ye Olde Funnele Cakee Shoppe”? Just odd. What exactly am I supposed to call them? Scum? Commoner? Peasant?

Ye olde funnele cakee (commonly called a “funnel cake” which is part sugar, part doughnut dough, part sugar, part cooking oil, and part sugar, and then covered with powdered sugar) introduced a strong streak of sugar-induced idiocy into The Boy. “CanIridethis? Canyoubuymethat? Ohhh,cooool,swords! Oh,Iwantasoda. Murwareweraagh!!!” I had been unaware that Leonardo DaVinci had done most of his work under the influence of funnel cakes, but The Mrs. informed me was indeed the case. After making him run in circles for about 20 minutes, he seemed to calm down a bit.

We eventually made past nearly every store there, and after examining no small number of swords, hats, knives, mugs, chainmail bustiers, and crossbows, we decided once again to head back into the 21st Century. The Mrs. made the note that I never actually purchase anything at the Ren Fests and Faires that we go to, and The Mrs. is right. If I ever want to dress like I’m in character for one of these things, I want to do it right, and not like the guy wearing a flouncy shirt, knee high velvet boots, a sword, a funky hat, and Levi® 501’s. Everyone knows that the medieval guys didn’t wear velvet. Sheesh.

We finally made it out of the maze that is TexRenFest®, but not before battling hordes of Orcs. Oh, wait, no. We just walked on out to the car, though there were plenty of rickshaw drivers willing to take us there for a few shillings and a promise not to beat them too soundly. We made it home in pretty good spirits.

I’m not sure that being called “m’lord” while I’m traipsing around in hiking boots and cargo shorts is very good for my ego. I tried later that afternoon after we got home to get a war party together to storm the manor across the street to increase my holdings and obtain a dowry to marry off the absent Alia S. Wilder, but was thwarted because The Boy and Pugsley had to stop the siege for naptime.

Maybe next year? I think that if I give them funnele cakees first . . .
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Two men are dead. This is not the time for petty sibling squabbles. That's what Thanksgiving is for. - Shawn Spencer, Psych


Richard Nixon preparing for his 2012 presidential run.

We’re now almost ready for Thanksgiving in Houston.

Oh, sure, Thanksgiving brings (for most people) the idea that you’d be pulling on a sweater, pulling your horse out of the barn, and taking a freakishly cold ride to Grandmother’s house on a one-horse-open sleigh. You might sing, but if you did, your larynx might be frozen solid by the time you reach old man Sutter’s pond. Then you get to Grandmother’s house, and she pulls a turkey out of the oven, and you pretend that it’s good, even though she’s cooked it to the consistency of beef jerky that’s been underneath the seat of a 1964 Corvair since Nixon was president. Your larynx? Still frozen.

In Houston? We had the air conditioning on today, not because we wanted to make snow inside to create the ambiance of late November, but because it’s still hot outside. Open the window? Besides the glass keeping the legions of lizards chewing their way in through the screens at bay, opening the window just lets the moisture inside. Do you want to be moist like the inside of a Twinkie® wrapper? I didn’t think so. We all know that isn’t good.

So, my childhood memories of Thanksgiving being outdoor temperatures generally being about 20°F are now receding. Now my memories are filled with the denizens of Houston huddling together like poodles in a freezer (don’t ask me how I know what this looks like) because it’s reached the alarming low of 67°F and debating the merits of various types of parkas.

To wit: The other day The Mrs., The Boy, Pugsley and I all went to the local grocery store. We ambled towards the store wearing (all of us) shorts and t-shirts. We saw residents of Houston running, running to the store to escape the cold in parkas and snow boots. I think we had the AC on when we drove home that day.

I think that Thanksgiving in Houston is primarily memorable because you don’t have to mow the lawn nearly as often, although the hedges grow twice as fast. It’s also too cold to swim. The upside? On the nights (three so far) that it’s cold enough that I can justify a fire in fireplace, the fence that blew down in the hurricane burns nicely.

Besides the whining above, I do feel that we Wilders have a lot to be thankful for this year. I’m thankful for lots of things, but I’m not putting the list out, because this isn’t a “very special episode” of Wilder by Far. No. I’m not going to be like the Fonz when he admitted that he had been beaten by President Eisenhower because he forgot to take out the trash.

No, instead I’ll just share a “Happy Thanksgiving” with all out there, hoping you keep your beer cold and your larynx warm.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"I met her in my quantum physics class. Isn't she great? Hold all my calls." - Bud, Married, with Children


Bat Pugsley. On Halloween if you were wondering if Bruce Wayne could have perhaps hit the gym a little harder and hit the Oreos® a bit less hard, then you might have seen the elusive Pugsley. He doesn’t talk much, but it turns out after decoding that melodic grunting of vowel-sounds that passes for his speech that he wanted to be Bat Dog, rather than Batman™. “Woof, woof.”

“What’s the Oort Cloud, Dad?”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been waiting forever for The Boy to ask me that. Technically I wasn’t expecting the question much before he was six, but getting it from him when he’s eight is close enough.

“Well, The Boy, the Oort Cloud is a batch of matter out far beyond the farthest planet (Neptune, if you’re a punk or, if you’re old school, Pluto).” My nerdy-heart pitter-pattered.

“What’s it made of?” Oh, additional nerdy goodness!

“Ice, some rocks, maybe. Long period comets probably originate there.”

After a few more minutes of discussion on things astronomical, the conversation drifted off into more mundane matters, like, “Oww, owww, owww! Pugsley’s pulling my hair!” Although this isn’t really a conversation, I think you get my drift. He’s still eight.

I am willing to admit it. I’m a nerd. The Boy wants to build a radio incorporating homemade capacitors and inductors? I’m in. (Note: I read on the Internet how enterprising prisoners of war built these radios out of speakers from a tank driver’s headset, some wire, and a rusty razor blade and a bit of pencil graphite to create a point-contact diode. Apparently these radios were good enough that they could hear aliens thinking on one of Jupiter’s moons. Obviously they had more than an evening to work on this and no women or beer to distract them.)

Build a second radio because the first one only picked up a very slight noise? Also in. Build a third because the second one only allowed us to hear the a tiny amount of incomprehensible noise and what might have been Mariachi music? Well, not yet. But probably some day.

This isn’t an isolated event: The other night The Mrs. was off in the other room writing (or, perhaps, just hiding from us smelly men), and The Boy was burned out on television. I’m pretty sure that The Mrs. would extract my spinal column if I showed him the Bleu-Wray® version of Predator that I wanted to watch, so we started, ugh, talking. (Side note: I’m pretty sure that the Predator never picked on Moms for a reason. Too scary. Plus a typical Mom would make him feel all guilty before she killed him, and then dusted his skull and put it on the mantle.)

We started having a conversation on astrophysics. I happened to have a textbook on Cosmology in the bookshelf (not the “look pretty” Cosmetology kind, but the “how did the Universe start” Cosmology kind). I drug the thing down, blew the copious amounts of dust off of it, and, after coughing a bit, started to explain some of the topics in the book. Since I had actually gotten the book from a “Science Book of the Month Club” I hadn’t spent a lot of time tearing through it. It was mainly for, er, reference? Heck, I’ve never even opened the darn thing. I’d have to be “lone nut in a cabin in Montana and completely out of trees to cut down” bored before I started to do homework for a class I wasn’t even taking. It was very physics-textbooky, which is to say, there was very little that would interest a physics student, let alone an eight year old. Instead we talked a bit about how a star evolves (first, you’re a waiter, then you get a walk-on part in 90210, then you do a series of hit movies, and then you enter rehab, then, if you’re lucky, you direct) and which stars explode in glorious super-nova fashion (Robert Downey, Jr.).

Actually, we talked about the ultimate fate of the Sun, and how one day, billions of years from now, it would swell up and eventually swallow Earth because in the core of the Sun it would be fusing heavier elements than hydrogen and would create correspondingly greater pressure. He seemed a bit upset that the Earth only had billions of years left in the way that only an eight-year-old can – I could see the gears in his noggin working and attempting to figure out a way to save the planet.

Perhaps he will figure out a way to save Earth, and develop a clean, safe energy source to power our civilization for millennia. Perhaps they will build statues of him.

Perhaps. Or perhaps not. I tend to think he’ll start dating instead.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 09, 2008

"It's a growth economy, Gus. We've already made, like, 500 rupee." - Shawn, Psych


President Roosevelt, showing that he was actually a Terminator sent from the future to eat George Patton.

I had intended to actually write this post about something other than politics. Most people had been focused on that for the past two years.

My friend, however, wouldn’t let me rest. He called me and said, “You watch, within a week of the election the banks will be closed and troops will be in the streets.”

I said, “John (I surround myself with people also named John), it won’t be that bad.”

“Well, Tuesday is Veteran’s Day.”

I do have some significant (you can’t hear me screaming in panic as I push the couches against the front door and polish my ammo over the Internet) concerns about the economy – I think that President-Elect Obama will face Change He Wasn’t Ready For. Hey, what do you expect, the guy’s a lawyer, and the only training in economics that they teach in law school is how high you should set your fees (high enough to drain most of the blood of the client, not high enough to actually turn them into a legal vampire like yourself). President-Elect Obama understands the economy the way the average man understands the emotional motivation of his wife, which is: Not At All. I tend to think that his advisors will bring out piles of M&M’s©, and use them to simulate international trade using a Risk™ board. They may simulate international banking by using a Monopoly™ board with Skittles™ as counters and pretending to be China and France. Let’s face it – the man has no idea what he’s doing, unless he gets to be the shoe. Then he might be okay.

It’s not that we would have been in a better place with McCain. As a fighter pilot, his first instinct would likely have been to launch all of his missiles and then hit the afterburners and then kiss Kelly McGillis after a beach volleyball game. Unfortunately, the Oval Office doesn’t have an ejector seat.

Don’t feel sorry for Senator McCain. He has never been married to Madonna®. He has several bunkers in Arizona stacked high with Campbell’s Chunky Soup®, hydrating body wash, gold coins, and Pez™. It’s not nearly as cool as being the nominal leader of the free world, but he has a big screen TV that you can see from space, and all of the beer he will ever want to drink, and will never have to have PhD’s explaining how the world works using outdated board games and candy.

The economy? Was it my imagination or were things working better before the majority of our elected representatives voted $700 billion dollars worth of pantyhose and frilly things to the bankers? Didn’t my Econ 101 professor say that the beauty of the free market is that those who do well are rewarded with profits, while those that act like six-year-olds sugar-drunk after eating sixteen chocolate Easter rabbits are punished given $700 billion? I may explain in detail why this was stupid, if the nice policemen who want me to unstack the couches and come outside and talk will let me go about my business.

Thankfully, those controlling Congress added $150 billion in pork so that they could assure passage of this economic version of Freddy Meets Jason.

Back to voting. As always, my concern is that (for some reason) it seems like the American people are nearly goaded into voting, regardless of their ignorance on the candidates. Commercial after commercial, including commercials from heroin-addled rock stars and Valium®-addled movie stars encouraging us to vote. Because they’re such good role models for responsible citizenship.

Did any commercial say, “learn about the issues and candidates”? No. Voting is a right. The unmentioned part is that voting is a responsibility – not just a responsibility to haul your hiney off to the polls: voting is a responsibility to cast a meaningful ballot. I didn’t vote for candidate after candidate, simply because even with my massive cranium I simply wasn’t informed enough about the issues related to those candidates. Voting down the party line? No. Not for me. I might be voting for a modern-day equivalent of Millard Fillmore – and our Republic is still living down the horrors of his administration, namely, admitting California as a state. Were California still a territory, we could sell it off to France in trade for Fiji or something cool and keep a straight face.

I think we haven’t had a decent candidate in years. If Jefferson was running today? The whole “having sex with his slave” thing wouldn’t have played well in Iowa. If Lincoln were running today? Tall, ugly, wife that’s batsnot crazy. Washington? Well, okay, Washington would have just stared down his opposition with his heat-vision and melted their souls. There is no debating Washington.

I, for one, welcome the time when Washington will wake from his multi-century slumber and put things to right with his fire-breath and laser-eyes.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 02, 2008

"You mean your vote counts the same as mine?" - Dick, Third Rock from the Sun


General Patton may not want you to vote. If you’re stupid, stay home. Oh, and if you've got some spare time, please dust me. And fix my G*&%$#mn tie.

On the Sunday before this most solemn day for our Republic, I have in my mind a thought or two. The most important thought is that voting (by the Constitution) should be left to adults. Since you are a reader of this website, you are amongst the smartest, most handsome, most popular, best smelling, least likely to make a left hand turn from the right hand lane type of people on the planet. You win. You should vote.

If, on the other hand, you have friends know people who are mouth dragging morons, convince them (in an entirely legal way, since telling people that they should vote on Wednesday is for some reason illegal) that they should leave the problem of governing the United States to adults.

I hate, hate, things that make it easier to vote. If I were in Congress, I’d make damn sure that if you couldn’t solve a quadratic equation your opinion would not count at all. Oh, sure, we’d let you come to pretend to vote, but your mark wouldn’t add against the total. You would have to attend at least two (two!) city council meetings to register.

Oh, anyone who uses the term “feeling” when they should be “thinking” would also be ineligible. If you can’t name the three branches of government? Off to that lurking pit of evil that is Canada with you (they are very suspiciously too polite). Like you’d know the difference.

This year? Vote if you must, but I’m going to vote for someone who I know won’t win. That’s right, I’m wasting my vote on Thomas Jefferson’s ghost. Because Jefferson would come back and whip the butts of both parties with this thing he wrote, the Declaration of Independence. Plus. Thomas Jefferson was 11 feet tall and weighed in at four tons. He would put any professional wrestler to shame. I just wish he was around to debate the current candidates. As soon as he hit them with his fire breath and laser eyes? He’d be a shoe-in, since he’d be the only candidate left standing.

So, after that, my point should be clear. Friends don’t let dumb friends vote.

My new national slogan? “Voting, if it’s too much bother? Stay home. We’ll give you some fresh Pez®.”

Okay, now for a digression. In 1980, as the Western World entered one of the biggest recessions of the last 50 years, AC/DC® released “Back in Black.”

Now, as we head toward the jaws of another, they’re again number one on the charts. Coincidence? I think not.

For your pleasure, I have transcribed an AC/DC™ tune, as written by William F. Buckley. Enjoy.

If you’re experiencing difficulty with the school principal
He’s making you quite sad
You wish to complete education without resorting to implied sexual intercourse
Here is a course of action
Grab a telecommunication device, I never leave my domicile
Contact me whenever it’s convenient
E-mail – Bonn.Scott73@acdc.com
I conduct my life through extralegal means


Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively

You are experiencing difficulty with your life partner
You have serious emotional depression over the relationship
He’s conducting a clandestine illicit possibly romantic relationship with someone with whom you share extremely strong interpersonal ties
You may feel so emotionally distraught that you cry
Grab a telecommunication device, I am currently not in the vicinity of other humans
Or come visit informally with no set purpose or agenda
Enter and remove thoughts about him from your mind
We will cooperatively either stage a fancy dancing party or partake of our own illicit romance


Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively

You have a female domestic partner whom you wish to no longer have contact with
But you lack courage to take action
Your domestic partner is continually argumentative and critical
Sufficiently so to make you question your mental competence
Grab a telecommunication device, leave your domestic partner without other human companionship
The proximate moment for you to exhibit some sort of courage is now
With reasonable financial remuneration, I would be glad to
a)perform a silent act of assassination while you pursue your own alibi or,
b)have an illicit romantic encounter with your female domestic partner
(the Internet is unclear here, I prefer version a since I see no reason version b would in any way bring the situation described to a favorable conclusion, but there is some scholarly debate)

Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively, yeah
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively

Heavy quasi-stone masses intended to sink bodies when attached to the feet
Molecules containing triple-bonded carbon and nitrogen
Performed inexpensively

Ooo, common items used for the purpose of constricting the ability of a subject to breathe
Agreements to do wrong
Large differences in electrical potential
Performed inexpensively, eah

Nefarious acts, I will perform them without regard to what they are, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, nefarious acts, nefarious acts, performed inexpensively

Posted by Picasa

Silktide SiteScore for this website
Blog Flux Directory Blogarama Free Web Counters
Web Counter
Search Popdex:
Humor Blog Top Sites Top100 Bloggers
Top100 uscity.net directory