Archive for the 'Editor’s note' Category

A week off

February 26, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew has really dug himself into a creative hole this time. He was going to write this blog for last Saturday on the following Wednesday. Then try to write a blog for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Then he had the thought — how about taking a week off, ex post facto, as a birthday present to himself? Then he weighed out the following pros and cons of a weeklong vacation from blogging:


PRO: Already five days behind anyway.
CON: Have enough material to write five current posts.

PRO: No one really reads blog posts that go up five days late.
CON: Every blog entry counts toward a body of work.

PRO: Will relieve pressure to overproduce or half-ass to make up for past mistakes.
CON: Will break commitment made in January to produce 365 blog entries in 2011.

PRO: Would allow me to just free-write and stockpile material to make future blogs better.
CON: Who am I kidding? If I give myself a week off, I’m not doing anything productive.

PRO: You’re gonna take the lazy way out anyway.
CON: You’re right, Pro, damn you.

See you in a week.

Counterclockwise perpendicular

February 22, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: …aw, screw it.

When I take my babies to the doctor, I always end up feeling like a crappy parent when I fill out those baby-development questionaires. I don’t pay enough attention at home to answer “yes” or “no” to, “When your baby sees his reflection in the mirror, does he reach counterclockwise perpendicular toward the mirror baby’s right shoulder?”

Um, I think I’ve seen Silas look in the mirror before, and I think he reaches to touch his reflection. Should I just answer “yes,” or is “yes” the bad answer? Is clockwise parallel toward the mirror baby’s left shoulder actually the way a non-waterhead baby reaches to touch his reflection?

I’d tell the medical community exactly what they wanted to hear if I knew exactly what they wanted to hear.


Silas and his ornate Native American rattle shipped from Colorado by Grandpa Hicks.

A man like Annie Lennox

February 10, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew wrote about half of the following post yesterday afternoon, intending to come back and finish it when he had a break from the babies. It never happened.

On the standup comedy front, last night was my first trip to another Central Illinois club, Mason City Limits, in Mason City. From what I was able to ascertain, Mason City consists of about four blocks, three bars and a Dollar General. I’m a little jealous. Where I’m from, we have a Subway and a Christian youth center that looks like a bar from the outside.

I rode up from Springfield in the passenger seat of local C-list celebrity Buddah Eskew*, and immediately, we were arguing about car music. Buddah was like, “We’re listening to Justin Bieber,” and I was like, “Screw that. Justin Bieber sucks. Justin Bieber’s not real music. We’re listening to Miley Cyrus.” Back and forth it went: Bieber, Cyrus, Bieber, Cyrus.

We finally turned on the radio and found shared solace in the song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Hearing that song only further cements my feeling that Annie Lennox is one of the great underappreciated male vocalists of our time.

In the back seat were Saad Ahmed, a razor-sharp comedian with an inimitable dry delivery and timing, and Rich Mansfield, the one guy in our peer group that really seems to have the stage performance aspect down and isn’t mostly just up there reciting jokes. Mansfield wanted to talk about comedians the entire time. He told us about a Marc Maron podcast interview with Gallagher that went awry, and he name-checked just about every famous ’80s comedian who was given a sitcom after making it big on “The Tonight Show,” along with other comedians who were no doubt just given a crappy pilot that never got picked up by a network.

The open mic is normally on the first Wednesday of the month at Mason City, but last week’s diabolical snowstorm postponed the event to this Wednesday. I want to blame scheduling changes for the lack of turnout, but there was still a foot of snow on the ground, and the temperature was hovering around 4 degrees Fahrenheit, so that also may have had something to do with everyone’s decision to stay home.

With the exception one of the comics’ mother and girlfriend (two separate people, FYI), the audience was made up entirely of open-mic comedians. Meaning, like fifteen people total, including the club owner and bartender. In a situation like this, you should have a pretty good stockpile of bits you want to try out just in front of your peers. You should just get up there, be conversational, leave out most of your tried-and-true set list and have fun with it.

I didn’t have a lot of fun with it, unfortunately. I had to go up first, which meant no time to relax and laugh a little and try to get together a few shared reference points to call back from earlier in the show. I got some good scattered laughs, but mood-wise, I wasn’t feeling social, I wasn’t feeling bold, I wasn’t really feeling “on.” An Andrew with a different mindset would’ve welcomed the opportunity to have a looser, more friendly structure onstage, to chat up a new club owner, to banter with the other comics. This Andrew mostly kept quiet.

I have another open mic at my home club this Wednesday. Five days to get myself back into Showoff Smartass Mode.

* Buddah writes regularly for our humor site, We’re Not Funny, and is a very friendly, amusing dude. I like editing his stuff because the end result is always a good blend of lines that are funny written as is, other lines I can make funnier with a little judicious tweaking and still other lines I completely rewrite based on his premises.


Squatters and robbers

February 9, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: Still not caught up to the present day, Andrew has decided to run a couple bits he would have included in his “My Quiet Neighborhood” post had he remembered to.

Any time I see more than two cars pull into the retirement community down the street, I assume it’s a ghetto funeral procession, and they forgot something.

The owner of the house next door, which is obviously abandoned and in shambles, nonetheless has adopted the cliched anti-theft strategy of playing talk radio all night long so squatters or passersby with criminal intent will mistakenly believe the house to be occupied.

SQUATTER OR ROBBER’S INNER MONOLOGUE: Damn, I thought this house might be empty, considering its condition and the lack of tire tracks in the snow-covered driveway and the accumulation of mail and newspapers, and the fact that all the lights are off, but it sounds like two people inside are discussing current economic issues in a lively fashion. I’d better go rob or squat elsewhere.

Another crime averted by AM radio.

Dirty looks from Indians

February 8, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew is apparently spending this entire week in Editor’s Note purgatory. It’s Thursday afternoon, and he’s just now writing Tuesday’s blog. Worse, he’s listening to Mr. Mister’s Welcome to the Real World album on cassette in the background. And he’s trying to come up with some obvious joke about how these days, for the Mr. Mister guys, it’s less “Welcome to the Real World” and more “Welcome to Wal-Mart.”

Andrew’s trying to think back to Tuesday right now, and all he remembers is going with his wife on her lunch break to take Silas to the doctor. Silas was about a month late to his six-month checkup — which, in the scheme of things, is probably a greater transgression than being two days late with a 500-word blog post. What prompted Baby Silas’s parents to get him to the doctor was noticing a couple circular dry patches of skin of Silas’s leg. Which they speculated might be some kind of infant ringworm infestation, and which their educated doctor quickly informed them was in fact just dry skin. Baby needs more lotion and salve**.

Tiffany took Silas back to see the doctor, while Andrew stayed in the enormous waiting area with Sarah. Who was having fun jumping on the painted hopscotch boards on the carpet but perhaps suffered from the fact that all the waiting room toys had been removed due to flu-spread concerns. She quickly found the only toys in the place, some elaborate wooden blocks that belonged to a little kid named Corbin with an ugly but nice mom who let Sarah play with them then hurried them back into her bag when Sarah got distracted and wandered further down the waiting area.

Andrew received one of his first “I’m disgusted at what a bad parent you are” looks from an Indian*** family who were waiting with their infant. Andrew guesses it was because he was unable to talon-claw his child’s shoulder before she went exploring in the restricted area behind the flu shot reception desk. He coaxed his kid back out and picked her up, but that wasn’t enough for the judgmental Indian family, who also didn’t look too happy that the reception desk lady rewarded Sarah for her transgression with a fragrant peach sucker.

Silas is about to cross the 20-pound weight mark, which to Andrew is exciting, but not as exciting as when Silas crossed the 16-pound mark and went from Not As Heavy As A Bowling Ball to In Fact Heavier Than A Bowling Ball. Ask one of the Mr. Mister guys where you can find a bowling ball, and he’ll tell you, “Kyrie Eleison… I mean, Aisle 12.”

* “You can find that gallon of paint in the hardware department and a $5 CD copy of my greatest hits in the electronics department. I had two hits. Both equally great.”

** Which, the Mr. Mister guys would tell you, you’d think lotion and salve for babies would be located in the baby section of Wal-Mart but actually are located with the adult personal beauty items. The Mr. Mister guys know their Wal-Mart layout. They’re proud of their greeter jobs.

*** 7-Eleven Indian, not Native American.


Super Bowl kids

February 6, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew once again dashed his daily productivity goal and did not have this blog posted before midnight. The culprit this time? Super Bowl XLV. Now, don’t assume for a second that Andrew cared a thing about the game. He had to double check which teams were playing before the game started so he wouldn’t look like a moron at the party. Andrew never watches football and, in fact, spent most of his high school years at a Christian school whose homecoming game took place on the soccer field against schools with names like Because He Died For Us Central.

Let’s not forget, though, Super Bowl is one of the major party days every year, and until just a few months ago, Andrew was a major partier. Super Bowl is only partially about the game. It’s also about gathering, eating a ton of food and talking over the game. Andrew estimates that this Super Bowl, the first since he quit drinking, he paid less attention to the game than when he was matching Anheuser Busch ads one beer per commercial.

The domestic takeover of Andrew’s life, though, was ever-apparent at this year’s Super Bowl party. He went with his wife and kids to the next-door neighbor’s house. Andrew’s two kids plus the neighbor’s four kids plus the neighbor’s best friend’s two kids plus another neighbor’s kid outnumbered the adults in attendance. Seven adults, nine children, and it was a completely new experience for Andrew to have his child playing in another area of another person’s house with other kids.

He had to frequently quit watching the game — no major sacrifice, but still — to go upstairs and check on his 2 year old, who was perfectly safe the entire time. Oh, and when one kid climbed up on Andrew’s shoulders during one of these visits and begged Andrew to take him for a ride, Andrew obliged him, not realizing that all the other young kids were going to see this, think it was awesome and each want their own turns. Then beg for second turns directly after completing their first turns.

Andrew quickly felt every bit of how out of shape he was, which he supposes is some kind of basic irony, considering Super Bowl is supposed to be the ultimate show of the atheletic strength and agility of the few contrasted with the passive, indulgent consumption of the many.

Oh, and Andrew wants to add that he was tired of people talking about Christina Aguilera messing up the national anthem immediately — partially because he couldn’t come up with an easy, decent joke about it. He is grateful, however, that the Aguilera incident caused entertainment gossip shows to dig up a hilarious 2003 clip of Michael Bolton having to check the lyrics of “The Star Spangled Banner” that he wrote on his palm. Funniest part was, people were still asking Michael Bolton to sing the national anthem at major events in 2003.


Baby Silas, ready for transport.

14 hours, 23 minutes late

January 9, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this blog, Andrew Hicks, is participating in’s 2011 Post a Day challenge. He has committed to produce 365 consecutive blog posts in a timely and entertaining manner. So far, he has missed the midnight cutoff twice.

The first time, his 6-month-old got him up at 4 a.m. afterward and he wrote the blog during the morning news and backdated it. The second time, which occurred on Sunday, January 9, Andrew optimistically decided to go to bed at 10 p.m. and was reconsciousified at 11 p.m. He had no creative inspiration at the time, although he did have a pretty solid if vague idea he could’ve killed a few hundred words on.

Instead, Andrew sat up with Silas until the little guy got appropriately tired and fell asleep around 1:45, then Andrew stayed up hisdamnself in selfish nonproductivity* until 2:30. Then 2-year-old Sarah woke up crying at 6:30 a.m., and Silas quickly followed suit, and Andrew got up with both and ate a killer breakfast sandwich** and watched old Disney shorts on YouTube with her***. Then Silas fell asleep, and Sarah and Dad were starting to feel like they were out of bed too early.

So everyone went back to bed and lounged around for a number of daytime hours, until finally Andrew pulled out his laptop to write yesterday’s blog post while Silas flopped around his activity mat and Sarah got to drink her very own large water with lid and straw. Sarah has been good about using cups with lids and straws, even if Dad has to remind her a few times to hold the cup down so it doesn’t spill.

Sarah eventually finished her water and went to drop the plastic Quik Trip cup in the recycle bin. Dad stopped her, saying, “Sarah, get that back out, we’re gonna wash it and use it again.” Sarah realized there was unfinished business with the plastic cup, so she pulled it out of the recyclables and ceremoniously crushed the cup in the center, like her mom and dad do with aluminum soda cans as they’re dropped in. It was cute toddler stuff, and Andrew couldn’t be mad.

Anyway, Andrew hopes you’re not mad this post is going up 14 hours and 23 minutes late. He assumes it’ll get slept on anyway.

*a.k.a. hanging out, a.k.a. unwinding

**A couple months ago, while looking through a ShopKo Holiday catalogue sent via junk mail, Andrew’s wife Tiffany decided she wanted a $30 egg poacher/2-slice toaster for the family. Andrew thought it might be an unnecessary purchase but agreed his wife deserved to have something new and functional around the house. Well, Andrew was immediately proven wrong when he realized that a poached egg was the best and easiest companion for sliced bread since Extra Heavy Duty Mayonnaise. A poached egg is Andrew’s new favorite condiment. It’s the new mustard.

***This is one of the things Andrew is bound to address in this blog, so let’s get it out of the way right now. 2-year-old Sarah, in the past few days, has fallen hard for old Disney cartoons. Her favorite characters, in descending order, are Pluto, Mickey and Donald. Mischevious chipmunks Chip and Dale are starting to gain in popularity. Andrew likes this because — unlike his toddler’s previous forays into the worlds of the Teletubbies, Barney and Elmo — Daddy can watch, enjoy and comment on this on a non-mind-numbing level. Watching old Disney shorts, mostly from 1936-1952, on YouTube has the added bonus of frequently being dubbed into Spanish, French, you name it. Or it’ll have foreign subtitles superimposed on the bottom. I don’t kid myself that my toddler will grow up with true mastery of any language other than English, but it’s great to acclimate her while very young to the idea that there are all types of people and ways to communicate.

From loyal reader and spambot John: “ The good blog very much was pleasant I will watch your news”