Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pizza Hut: Fail

I’ve spent the past few nights searching for the beloved children’s book, Ira Sleeps Over. My wife needs it for work. I have never heard of this book and have no idea what the story is about (although I could take a guess), but I am confident that it is beloved. Who knew that it would be so hard to find though. Borders didn’t have it. Target didn’t have it. Barnes and Noble said they had one copy but it was nowhere to be found. Ira Sleeps Over must be one hot commodity!

The search was exhaustive and taking much longer than anticipated, so my wife and I pulled into a Pizza Hut for dinner. Pizza Hut is quick and easy. Sometimes it’s really nice to know what to expect from a place, which is always the case with Pizza Hut. The only decisions you have to make are which toppings to get and if we should spring for breadsticks. After eight years of living together, the toppings my wife and I choose are almost automatic, and on this night, the breadsticks were what drew us into the restaurant.

A quick side note before the impending disappointment: Domino’s recent recipe renovation is pretty tasty, and right now, they have a deal going for $5.99 for a medium pizza. The cheap frozen pizzas that are edible start out around $4.50 and can cost as much as $10! Plus, with Domino’s, it’s not DiGiorno; it’s delivery.

Anyways, back to Pizza Hut, so we order our pizza, half pepperoni and onion – half pineapple and olive and our breadsticks. The place is somewhat crowded so we watch people come and sit down, we watch as they get their breadsticks. When our pizza comes out, I ask the waitress to cancel our order of breadsticks. She apologizes and walks off. A few seconds later, I got up to get her attention as our order was wrong. It looked like half of it had all of our toppings and the other half was just cheese.

When they took it away, I thought they would put a rush on our order. Instead, they returned a few minutes later to let us know that it could take a while. At this point, I reordered our breadsticks. When they came, we ate them up quickly as they were delicious. My mind started relaxing a bit and I wanted to make a point to apologize to the waitress if I seemed annoyed earlier. Mistakes happen.

I didn’t see our waitress for another forty minutes, during which time my wife and I started talking about what headache pills we had at home. When the waitress finally did appear, this is what she said, “I don’t know what they’re doing back there but they’ve made three pizzas and none of them have been right.” We got up and left.

As I was walking out I started to wonder what they did with screwed-up pizzas, at that point I wish I had just eaten the cheese pizza. Hell, even the other half with olives and whatnot wouldn’t have been so bad. But today, some time after the events, the thing that bugs me the most is the response from the waitress.  I don't care who's fault it is... I just want pizza.  The fault can be yours and yours alone, but I guarantee that if you recognize the problem and react to it it won't be nearly as bad as you think it is.  I'm also easily won over with more breadsticks.

We did have places to go too.  We weren't sure when the library closed and we wanted to check it out on the off chance that they would have the beloved Ira Sleeps Over.  I figure if no national chain bookstore had it, there really wasn't much of a chance that the public library would carry it, but lo and behold they did!  And multiple copies too!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My wife created a butterfly out of a caterpillar. It’s magic!

She started out with a black and yellow caterpillar that likes to eat big green leaves of a plant called milkweed. Interesting note about milkweed: the stuff is poisonous to most animals, but caterpillars love it. It doesn’t take much encouragement for them to eat, as they don’t have much else to do. Which brings me to a cautionary point, keep in mind that when things are eaten something has to come out the other end. Beware of copious amounts of pooh while creating a butterfly. Interesting note about copious amounts of pooh: skin mites live in your bed mattress subsisting on the dead skin that you lose each night; they poop five times their bodyweight each and every day.

Anyways, eventually the caterpillar decides enough is enough and begins to look for a place to hang himself.  Then in a fit of rage, this happens:

Then the caterpillar just hangs out for a week or so, while the magic happens; and while spectators are left to wonder “what’s he doin’ in there?” Then the vivid green and gold of the cocoon begin to fade, revealing what is inside!

And from the caterpillar’s cocoon, emerges a beautiful butterfly that can fly and soar and be free and land on a nearby fence…

 And a jungle gym…
And a hand…
 Until it flies and flies and flies.
All the way to butterfly heaven, which is somewhere in Central America.  All-in-all, just like honey and maple syrup, it’s pure magic.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Walling Off Traffic

I’m not a big fan of traffic. I hate the stuff. Ironically, all the traffic that I encounter in my suburban commute is due to road construction meant to alleviate traffic. Whatever… maybe it makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is building houses right next to busy, traffic-filled, 60-mph roads. There are probably a half-dozen neighborhoods that back up to my commute – each with several homes that I can see into from my car, granted very briefly. I don’t understand people who live in these homes. They must have gotten a good deal.

What makes even less sense is that a number of them have built these fancy patios or decks. Maybe they enjoy their location and think of it as box seats to a show. They sit out and watch the traffic… with their news radio on listening for traffic updates. Hey, it beats NASCAR.

Of course I’m kidding, and apparently the residents of these homes are thinking along the same lines as me. In the past few weeks, I’ve gotten to watch as three of these neighborhoods on my daily route have erected giant privacy walls between them and me, the commuter.

I’ve seen them before on the side of major highways, but after seeing their slow progression, I must admit that I didn’t realize how big they actually are. Or, how big things are that build big things. Or, that anyone would ever think to paint a giant wall brown.

So now those poor people are backed up against a giant wall. The relief from the noise and stream of headlights I can only imagine is worth it, but now you have this giant wall in your backyard. It seems like a lose-lose situation to me. I mean, my commute feels different and I’m usually flying by these walls without much thought, I’m sure that if you live there, life has to be different as well… much more guarded and protected.

In fact, I bet you that a study on kids that grow up next to giant walls as opposed to kids that don’t would prove that there are huge differences, like in racquetball ability. Although it won’t take too many over-hit balls before it starts affecting traffic.

Note: Sorry for the lame post. I’ve had the idea of these big walls for a couple of weeks now, but I have no idea what to call them, let alone what to say about them. If I only had a roving reporter, then I could get someone else to write about it, and do some investigating, like who paid for these giant walls, and what does the homeowners have to say about them, and are there any world-famous racquetballers who grew up in their shadows. Maybe they could do a “Day in the Life of” type piece about the painter of the giant wall. And of course there would be pictures. Ahhh… someday, maybe someday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Mutant Guerrilla!!

At some point in the year – it seems to change every year – my parents unleash the family newsletter. This year along with it, they unwittingly released the Mutant Guerrilla! Rehaarr! That’s right – mothers collect your kids – there’s a Mutant Guerrilla on the loose! Rehaarr!

A local man reacted to the news saying, “Mutant Guerrilla, eh? They usually don’t stray this far from the smelly bogs. (He) must be hungry.”

The Mutant Guerrilla. I love it! Rehaarr! Apparently on top of writing the wonderfully insightful Muted Guerrilla blog, I also maintain the Mutant Guerrilla, which I can only assume is much angrier and uses more capital letters. REHAARR! Yep, it must be one of those smelly blogs.

I’m not sure if everyone’s family has a similar experience, but in my family, the annual family update is a practice in wishing the worst upon your siblings. The picture and description of you will undoubtedly be embarrassing, but as long as someone else’s is worse, you’re golden.

Actually, that’s not true. While I bemoan the letter with everyone, each year I secretly hope that I look like a deformed Batman villain, the zanier the better. It’s my only chance of standing out, and I like to be noticed… from afar. The picture that comes to my mind is one, from a few years back, taken when I had a temperature of well over a hundred and I hadn’t shower in a week or so.  I was smiling though, so it worked for my Mom.

In fact, maybe next year the picture of me will be unrecognizable.  Long-lost friends and distant family members will open next year's newsletter and wonder when the Duffy's adopted a thirty year old man who appears almost like a mutant guerrilla.

All that being said, I only hope that everyone enjoys the Muted Guerrilla as much as my parents do.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tabbin' It Up

If you want something done, it’s best to do it. I think that’s how the saying goes at least, and a truer statement has never been said. My intern Jeff has dilly-dallied far too long in revamping the Muted Guerrilla, so I’ve taken the project up myself.

The color and layout is in a test phase right now and is subject to change without notification. You have been warned. I’m currently trying out a color that is referred to as “the color of that shirt that I don’t like but still wear” which, at the moment, I kind of like.

There are also a few new features of blogger that have become available, which I hope to implement cautiously, as I do not want to overload the reader. The first of these fine advancements you would come to if, like me, you are a practicing Mutedguerrillologist is tabs.

While tabs can be used effectively in the right format, I’m not sure it’s suited for my write-whatever-the-hell-I-feel-like approach. But as a testament to my never-ending quest to perfection, I’ve included them for you to appreciate and reference as needed, provided that you feel blessed to be living at a time when tabs have become a reality.

Currently we have two tabs for you, an About the Author tab and a Frequently Asked Question tab... both of which are still under construction.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Frustration Begets Inspiration

The lake where I eat lunch often has been as peaceful and relaxing as ever lately, with the exception of one thing. Now that summer has passed and the boat rental booth is closed for the season, people are starting to assume that the well-placed man in business attire, who is eating his lunch in the shade by the lake, would know how to rent a boat on such a beautiful day.

Well, I don’t, so stop asking.

This has become somewhat of a daily occurrence, which only annoys me in that I don’t have an answer for them. Today, two groups asked me this, along with a multitude of follow up questions, which I answered as best I could. I tried to be friendly with my answers, but when an older gentleman struck me with “well, do you know the number we can call to find out?” in a tone usually reserved for customer service hotlines, I decided to drop all pretenses of being helpful. With a bigger smile, I repeated my opening line, “Sorry, I don’t work here,” but this time I ended the sentence there.

While I returned to my lunch, I now had more to chew on than another perfectly-crafted Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich. People can sometimes annoy me, hence my daily trip to the quiet of the lake. But, if you think about something long enough, some good’s got to come out of it. Yep, frustration begets inspiration:

Not Staff shirt
Not Staff shirt
See more t-shirts created on zazzle
That’s funny to me.

I'll have to find a way to darken my wife's sketch on the front, but I have a strange feeling that this will not be the last time that A Portrait of Me finds his way onto a T-Shirt. One can only hope.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Brilliant Game Show

Not to find genius where, clearly, there is none, but that’s (meaning my last post which I just posted today)not a bad idea for a Game Show.

Let’s say the game involves six contestants. Each person is given $1000 dollars. In the first round, everyone secretly bids for something small – let’s say a twenty dollar gift-card to Chuck E. Cheese – and the top five bids win the prize.

The next round has those five people competing for a better prize – let’s say a brand new Kodak digital camera – with their remaining money. Like if I bid $50 to win the $20 gift card, I would only have $950 to bid this round.

And so on and so forth through prizes like a $500 gift certificate courtesy of, a fully loaded 2011 BMW Z-series, and finally the grand prize, season tickets to DC United! That’d be awesome.

I’m not sure if there are any game shows like that, but if there aren’t, I’m laying claim to this one. Maybe I should contact my local broadcaster and see about making this a reality. I could be the next Bob Barker!

Dreaming of an Audience

I don’t want to start detailing every dream I have, however rare they are, but after revealing yesterday’s one-of-a-kind dream to my esteemed audience, last night I dreamt of (to my knowledge) two-thirds of this very audience. It’s quick and makes absolutely no sense, but I thought I’d share.

It begins with a phone call home. My Dad answers and mentions my sister Martha’s whereabouts. In pure disbelief, I end the conversation with my Dad and set out to see my sister first-hand. She and her husband are at a bar playing a game called the Ticket Tree, where you have to outbid people for better tickets. It makes no sense, so don’t worry about the details.

Everyone playing had gotten pretty into the game, none more so than my sister and brother-in-law who were each dressed up like Christmas trees, complete with giant, softball-sized glowing lights wrapped around them.

As the game progressed, and you outbid people, everyone who bid enough to advance had to lift themselves up to higher and higher platforms on the wall. These platforms were set in a triangle, thus the Tree, with the winner getting the best tickets of all. My sister got pretty high up the Ticket Tree before I woke up.

The tickets they were after… field level seats to the Boston Red Sox. I have no idea why they would want them but that’s what it was.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dream Big, or Don't Dream at All

I read somewhere that the one thing, above all else, that is a sure-fire conversation killer is to start talking about dreams. Apparently, it’s one of the few topics where the listener has zero input. I think of this whenever someone shares one of their dreams, and the result usually involves my eyes glazing over as I’m deep in thought wondering why that is and how I use to like hearing the strangeness of others’ dreams. Ultimately, it’s become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That being said, I had a dream last night. It woke me at 1:40 in the morning with my heart pounding and a sharp pain in my ribs, and it kept me up most of the night after that. Similar to most dreams, some details were fluid and didn’t make much sense, but I’ll do my best to convey the basics of one of the greatest dream of all time.

It starts out with me being the President of the United States. I don’t remember most of my dreams, but I like to think that I carry some weighty title like that in the vast majority of them. I had my beautiful wife next to me and we were talking to a pilot of sorts through a hatch in the ceiling. He asked a question and gave a demonic smile when my wife agreed to go explore the moon with him. I think it was actually the sun, but that makes even less sense.

Either way, I felt like I had been stabbed in the back by my own wife as she scurried up through the hole in the ceiling. Decisions were being made without me, the President, and I knew that I was no longer safe where I was. My reactions were slow; I remember thinking that I should have jumped up and closed the hatch denying my wife the chance to go explore the moon (or sun), sealed it with a spin of the wheel, and hightailed it out of there.

I knew that safety existed through a blue door somewhere in the distance.

I should have followed my instincts, but something held me back. This is where it gets kind of murky, as I’m not sure why I didn’t immediately seek refuge behind the blue door. When I found the blue door though, I turned the other way, for there was work to be done. Some sort of mysterious mission had to be accomplished first.

I went down a hallway looking for answers. The hallway turned to the left and then there was a door to a closet. Behind that door was a man, who I guess didn’t have the right answers, because I killed him. I killed him with my bare hands.

This is a first for me. I’m not a killer, in real life or in dreams, so I was little freaked out by it. I also knew that this only heightened the danger I was in and further jeopardized my mysterious mission, so I had to hide the body. To do this, I went back down the hallway and turned out the lights. Brilliant, eh? No one would suspect to look down a dark hallway.

There was a group of important people walking by just as I was switching off the lights and they asked me what I was up to. The biggest of the bunch, a guy who must have been at least 7 feet tall, was suspicious and I had to turn him away from going down the hall.

I went on my way searching for whatever I was searching for when there was commotion from the group as they had turned back to search the dark hallway. I knew that I didn’t have much time. I sprinted towards the sanctuary of the blue door. I ran past the 7-foot man. I was impressed with myself for how fast I was running. As the door was quickly approaching, I heard a gunshot.

That’s when I woke up, at 1:40 in the morning, with my heart racing and a sharp pain in my ribs. I think I dreamt that I got shot and the pain is what woke me up. As I tried to calm down, and sort through this dream, I kept thinking that I should have killed the 7-foot tall man as I ran by; if I had jumped up and grabbed his head, it wouldn’t have slowed me down too much and I would have made it to the blue door.

Now, after thinking about my violent dream through the rest of the night - yep, I couldn't fall back asleep -and most of the day, I’m a little worried about myself. I mean, who would want to be President of the United States?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hang Ten and Cowabunga

Today, I saw something I have never seen before, nor would I have ever imagined seeing in my life time. It happened at the lake where I eat lunch often. Take this photo of the quaint and pristine lake:
Now, picture if you can, two older ladies, wearing bright older-lady-pinks-and-blues, rounding the corner and coming to shore… surfing. As in, on surfboards.

While it was a pretty blustery day, there were, predictably, no waves at the lake, as it is a small lake and not the ocean. Because of this, the two ladies each had one long oar, which they wielded like the famous Venetian gondoliers of yore, leisurely and effectively. From afar, I wondered if their boats were actually some version of a gondola, but as they neared I saw that they were definitely just surfboards. Yep, just two old ladies riding surfboards.

Maybe I’m, once again, behind the times and this surfing-gondola thing is sweeping the nation and I’m just the last to know. But I can’t imagine that people would want to be stuck standing up, carrying a bulky stick, when they could sit and paddle and have a similar experience. Of course, if this was fifteen or twenty years ago, I would have questioned the emergence of the kayak, thinking the canoe adequately filled the hand-powered-boat niche, so what do I know?

I do know that when I’m older and wearing my bright pinks-and-blues, I can only hope to have the gumption to go surfing, or gondolaing, or just try something new and bizarre. For this reason, I say, “Surf on, sister-friends. Surf on.”

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Mind Reading Vampires

Lately, I’ve been reading the Sookie Stackhouse/vampire books. While the series started out being more or less just murder mysteries with, how should I say it, unique characters, it has sort of devolved into a Halloween-themed soap opera. And just like Day of Our Lives, I can’t resist. It’s given me a couple things to think about though.

Firstly, I think I’ve got vampires figured out. Sure they can be incredibly powerful and insanely fast; of course, they have an extremely acute sense of smell, hearing, and vision; and legend says they are irresistibly attractive, but I think all this is the result of one thing: sleep.

Vampires are forced to sleep during the daylight hours. They simply cannot see the light of day. That means they’re sleeping a minimum of ten or so hours each day. I don’t know about you, but if I got that much sleep each and every day, I too would be incredibly powerful and irresistibly attractive. As far as the other stuff, super-speed and whatnot, I’ll believe it when I see it.

The other thing is Sookie Stackhouse. Her special power is that she can read people’s thoughts. If she were to read my thoughts, she would see that I think about this all the time. Recently, whenever I have a thought about someone, even if it’s a relatively harmless thought, my mind immediately jumps to this thought of, “what if they can read minds and they are reading my mind right now!” Then, if there’s time, I start to test them, “Hello… hey… are you reading my mind? There’s an extremely attractive person to your left.” I haven’t gotten a reaction yet.

Yep, if mind readers are out there, I’m sure I’ll find one. And when I do, I hope they’ll introduce me to all their supernatural friends.

Monday, September 06, 2010

His & Hers Toothpaste

What kind of Tuba can you not play?

A Tuba Toothpaste.  Ha! Ha! Ha!
So as you can tell, there are two tubas of toothpaste in the picture.  One for me and one for my wife, can you guess whose is whose?

It's usually not this extreme, but a month ago, while I was packing to go out of town, I decided to take with me our shared toothpaste, which was near it's end.  While I returned after just a few days, the cap to the toothpaste remains out-of-town. 

There wasn't much left, it seemed at the time, so I considered just throwing away the capless tube of toothpaste.  But then I got to thinking... why should I throw away perfectly good toothpaste?  Thus, it began and slowly but predictably the toothpaste built up around the opening.  Each day it grew and grew until it came to resemble the art that it is. 

That's right, I said it, it's art.  I can hear the critics now, "It represents both the beaulty and the ugliness of life.  It cleans while needing to be cleaned.  It represents motion while representing hardened rigidity.  It creates while it destroys; it destroys while it creates.  It even promises fresh breath.  It is such an ordinary item, yet I cannot look away."  And that would just be for the one tube.

If you included the second tube of toothpaste in the same piece of art, suddenly it becomes so much more.  "This work speaks of truths that civilization is to ashamed to recognize.  The constant pursuit of cleanliness that we all share has rendered us all filthy.  Soiled by the ignorance of consumption.  Consumed by the spoils of greed.  What is used, is easily replaced.  What is replaced is easily still of use.  Yes, the artist is telling us all that our morning breath overwhelming our lives, that we all wreak of failure."

Then if you put it in front of a mirror, the meaning is only magnified...

I could go on and on.  I have to say though, that that ugly empty tube of toothpaste is still spitting out toothpaste on command after all this time.  It's really quite impressive.  Of course, when I do switch over to a new tube, I'll have to remember to keep an eye on the cap.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Our New Camera!

We got our fancy new camera and this weekend, we were finally able to take it out for a test drive. We used a nearby park for our first time out.
This picture is the result of a pretty cool feature of our camera, where you basically take three pictures and it stitches them all together. So Tiff took a picture of me sitting on a log, then took a picture of the empty middle section, then I took a picture of Tiff on the other end of the log. Pretty cool, eh?

By the way, aren't we cute in our plaid?

So the camera's super fancy, so before you watch the first ever video of me with this camera, I encourage you to go ahead and pop some popcorn, use the restroom, get comfortable and adjust your mind to widescreen, because what you are about to see is a cinematic experience like no other! And Please Silence Your Cellphones.

(I had to shrink it all funny because of the widesceenedness, so if it look all wrong for anyone, please comment. Thanks!)