Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gobs of Muppets

Well. While I can't relate, my homeland has no native recipes that are often misnomerated by immigrants, I do have a deep respect for the attachment my new Pennsylvanian neighbors have to their gobs. I had no idea I would inspire such emotion, I just thought AK's statement was funny and had to give a little context :). SIL-K, I am both honored and apologetic that I inspired you to break your lurkish silence. But know that your insights are always welcome here. And I can assure you -- due to my inconsistent posting over the past year or so -- that there's not a lot of people picking up what we're putting down here anymore. If a dog barks on the internet, does it make a noise?

SIL-K you may also have the distinction of being the only reader who's ever BEEN through Shelocta. It's on 422 between Kitanning and Indiana, we often stop there on our way home from Sarver to partake of the Unfortunately Not a Sheetz Convenience Store's internal Subway shop.

AK can relate to the Pennsylvanian Gob phenomenon. She told me it used to make her hairs stand on end when, working at Friendly's in Ohio, people would refer to chocolate sprinkles as "chocoloate sprinkles". Apparently, they are actually called "Jimmies".

Today's Daily Muppet Thing of The Day for Tuesday is a gem from I don't know when. It's Kermit the Frog appearing on The Jon Stewart show, and it would seem that it's post-Muppet Show and pre-Muppets Tonight. It's obviously post-Jim Henson, Kermit's voice is the new Kermit's voice. But since I can't share with you the entirety of the Muppet Show First Season DVDs, I'll share this. Because while it's not Jim Henson, this late-night Kermit does show some of the snarkiness, attitude and grown-up appeal Kermit had in the beginning. Over time Kermit became more kid friendly, his role on the Muppet Show changed, and ultimately he was (I believe) a vessel to share the aging Jim Henson's philosophies and wisdom. These are not bad things, but as a grown up watching the original Muppet Show shows Kermit appealed to me like he hadn't before and I thought that was wonderful too.



Sunday, January 28, 2007

"A Gob is green. It comes out your nose and it indicates an infection"

That is Alaska's two cents on the hot debate at this evening's dinner table. She added that in this house we have a recipe for whoopie pies, and if anyone wants to order from the chef they should ask for whoopie pies. Please comment your own answer to the burning question: What are these?

Are they whoopie pies? Are they gobs? Have you never seen them before? Do you have feelings of simultaneous attraction and repulsion due to their resemblance to pregnant Oreos?

The Hults family discovered these gems of culinary delight at the Amish market/grocery auction. We get them stale and deeply discounted, then we put them in the fridge to hide their staleness and save them for treats in the downstairs fridge. Then I discover them. Then their dangerous proximity and my shameless hedonism combine to produce their very sudden goneness.

They are also sold in SHEETZ convenience stores (my Happy Place), and I seldom pass up an opportunity to partake of their light creamy middles and airy bready cookie sandwichness. And the perfect thing to chase a Whoopie Gob? Gallikers Lime Iced Tea. I'm pretty sure that both SHEETZ and Gallikers are Pennsylvanian phenomena, so. . . .sucks to be y'all.

I was recently extolling the glory of whoopie pies to a lifelong Pennsylvanian friend and he informed me in no uncertain terms that those are called "Gobs" not whoopie pies. And this was not "by the way, they are sometimes mistakenly called whoopie pies by the uninitiated", this was "I've lived here my whole life and I've never even heard the term whoopie pie. You freak. Don't let the door hit you on you way out of the state". I contested this, on account of the authentic honest-to-beardness Amish label on the treats that reads "Whoopie Pies" and also the recipe in AK's Amish cooking book called "Whoopie Pies". He allowed that they are unquestionably of Amish origin, but were never again to be referred to in his car as anything but gobs or Amish gobs. Hmmmm.

Well sure enough, this Saturday while carpooling with the very same fellow, we happened upon a small bakery in the Unfortunatetly Not A Sheetz Convenience Store in Shelocta, PA. Advertised and on display? Both "Gobz" and "Pumpkin Gobz" (trying to co-opt the successful SHEETZ marketing ploy of putting "z"s at the end of every thing. Oh the shame).

We've got questions, you've got answers. Who will authoritatively resolve this burning social issue? And how important will this question be to voters in 2008? Will you vote based on the economy, the war, or on The Gob Issue?

On an equally important note, AK finally finished my hat and MY HEAD IS SOOOO HAPPY! Really. If you knew how happy your head was? Mine would be that happy squared. I don't look like the clean cut and impeccably dressed gay man who designed the knit pattern, but I don't look too terribly wack either. And most importantly I don't look -- as I FEEL when I'm outdoors in a snowstorm with a purposely bald and NAKED head -- stupid.

More muppets to come. . .



Friday, January 26, 2007

As promised

This is from Muppets Tonight, the short-lived but wonderful reincarnation of The Muppet show. It was while watching these episodes that I noticed some actors are VERY good at working with muppets and some just can't swing it. Sandra Bullock was just priceless, and I'm sorry this clip isn't longer, because the rest of the sketch just got better. . .



Thursday, January 25, 2007

Today's Daily Muppet Thing of The Day for Thursday

Here is the original Munumunuh video. It's big, 22mb, so click it and go make your lunch. Or mix a drink. Or knit me a hat (Poppins' Rainer has a hat. And he has HAIR). . .

That guy must have evolved over time into Dr. Teeth, its definitely the same voice.

Muppet Trivia: Who was the first muppet? Rowlf the Dog.

Tomorrow I'll try to show the Sandra Bullock version. . . the beginning of it anyway.



Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Pinnacle of Western Culture in Entertainment

. . . was The Muppet Show.

And that is why my paternal cup is runnething over with pride as I sit in my workshop, painting and photoshopping, as my 5 year old twins are howling with laughter over Steve Martin's first Muppet Show appearance. He was in the middle of Ramblin Guy and I swear to you both of them erupted in applause. They are giggling contagiously and with increasing intensity at every physical gag. We all marvelled at the Carol Burnett episode after Steve Martin, and now we are at the beginning of the Gilda Radner episode. Eskimo pigs are singing "The Lullabye of Broadway" and I'm convinced that television enternainment never was, nor has ever been, this good.

The show appealed universally to both young and old. The jokes were corny and over the top, but when done with enthusiasm and sincerity by fuzzy caricatures, animals, vegetables and Whatevers -- you can't help but want to join in and laugh. I came along a little too late for the glut of TV variety shows, and only remember Donny & Marie and Flip Wilson in my earliest memories. But I must say that TV programming that is clearly escapist and foolish and overtly entertaining is SOOOO much more my speed than reality. No, I don't find the staged reality of reality TV to be entertaining at all. And the REAL reality of AK's favorite: Really Real Totally Gory and Real Emergency Room Trauma? No thank you.

Give me the sassy sarcasm of Kermit in the very first episodes (and revived a few years ago for an interview with John Stewart). That's where Dave Letterman learned his schtick, you know! Give me the comic thespians, the comedians who could sing, and the singers who could act. Give me Frank Oz's over-the-top stealing of any & every scene. Give me the Zen of Jim Henson, even the commercial zeal of Brian Henson since without it Muppets would be dead and we'd have no Pepe or Bobo the Bear. And what better test is there of an actor's mettle than to place them up on platforms and ask them to interact believably with puppets?

The term "Muppet" is believed, I think, to come from Mobile Puppets. Jim Henson was a puppet guy originally in the 50s, when puppets lived -- as they always had -- in a box. Television was taking off like crazy in the 50s, and Jim Henson's brilliance was to see the TV box as a puppet box that could move around with them. He gave puppets a whole world that they could walk around in and interact with.

I'm going to try and upload/link you to that Jon Stewart video. Then I'm going to search the internet for the latest goings on in Muppetland, so I can report to you. Both of you. Because the more I think about it, the more important Muppets are.




Sunday, January 21, 2007

Well at least it feels like a Winter now

. . . even if it still only looks like a Fall. It's cold enough to keep man-made snow alive at our local ski slope. There's not enough snow to stick and accumulate and make for sled action, but there is enough snow to make Saturday morning's 5am trip to Pittsburgh a little dodgy. It was my turn to drive the gang to the RC track, so AK let me take The Giga Crusher (Ford Expedition). My racing buddies were concerned not only about the difficult driving conditions, but also about the Giga Crusher's failing front brakes. Me? I was concerned about the gallon-a-minute Mr. Giga was drinking. How was I going to afford yummy track snacks? How would I maintain a Hammy-like Caffeine High all day if all my money went into the gas tank?

It was a great race day, one of the best this Winter so far, can't wait to go back next Saturday and duke it out in the Stock Truck class.

Today, I slept in while the rest of the gang went to church. While sleeping in did catch me up from the early early Saturday it did little get me up and at 'em, bright eyed or bushy-tailed. So despite my being still pretty damn diddly BEHIND after spending a week applying instead of painting, I declared today a Not So Much With The Work Day.

-Watched "Talladega Nights", in my 'jammies, curled up under the UAB (Ugly Acrylic Blanket)
-Showered /dressed enough to do short shopping trip for family.
-Ate a few too many cinnamon waffles for lunch
-Played "Dread Pirate", a game I think we got for Xmas from someone, with the whole family.

The twinks are almost old enough and attention-span-endowed enough to last a whole game. In this photo you can see Queen Pirate Administrator keeping the chaos in check. Ben is -- and this is one of the things that makes a game with the twinks a challenge -- touching something. You can't see Milo and I'm not sure exactly what he was doing but I can guarantee whatever it is it's at a very high volume. Max is in character, talking like a pirate, and declaring Emily to be a Giant Vicious Sea Poodle.

After clean up, AK settled in for a quiet afternoon of knitting. . .

That's my future hat she was knitting. One of the many downsides to being a Relatively Handsome Bald Man Who, Regardless of Your Feelings About Bald Men, Smells Really Good, is that your head gets cold. A few minutes after she settled in, from the kitchen where I was cleaning, I told her how grateful I was that she was trying to finish my hat, and how much it meant to me. This was her response. . .

Now I'm taking advantage of the fact that one of the big playoff football games is on the one TV channel we pick up on our old-school rabbit ears. I'm watching the AFC championship (I think) between the Colts and the Patriots, and I'm thinking of how much more interesting it would be if I followed football. Or had a bet on the game. Or gave a flip. Maybe I'll read the newspapers between now and the Super Bowl so I can enjoy watching that game at least. Who wants to invite me to a Super Bowl party?

I pay attention whenever the Niners are good (I grew up in the Bay in the 80s so they'll always be my favorite. I was 10 and remember EXACTLY what I was doing when I saw "The Catch". Where were you?). I paid a lot of attention to the Vikings when we lived in MN because it helped me fit in at the dealerships and Daute Culpepper was really something to watch. But otherwise I just haven't caught the fever, even living here in Steelerville last year. What I really miss is following hockey and actually being able to attend games. I was only an attendee for about half-a-Sharks season, but it took several years of rabid fanhood for that excitement to wear off. It doesn't translate well to TV (though it's not as bad as soccer) but there nothing as exciting as a live hockey match. It's intimate, you can see everything, and the size, speed & precision of those guys is freakin insane.

My feet are cold, I'm going to have to close the laptop to seek out The UAB. End blog here.



Thursday, January 18, 2007

There's a breeze blowing up my tailfeathers

. . . or something like that. You’ll have to see AK’s blog entry for the poetic justice. Suffice to say that the winds of change have their ears to the grindstone and their birds in bushes when in Rome around here.

See, we had concluded months ago here at Muppet Labs. . .er. . . Hults Headquarters, that custom airbrush painting – as many interesting doors as it’s opened for us – would not be my next career. No, the market is small, especially here in Central PA. So that left me, here after I feel I’ve used up my Career Grace Period, right back where I was 2 years ago: with the intoxicating yet paralyzing freedom of choosing ANY career I wanted. Kind of like deciding where in the U.S. to move when you really could move almost anywhere. Remember? Oh, but whatever I picked, I had the overwhelming feeling I really had to make money. More money. Like, tomorrow.

AK has always pushed me to go back to photography, I suppose based on my college work, the remnants of which she’s helped move all over the country for 11 years. I did enjoy it; it was my creative outlet when I soured on theater life. But for some reason, in my mind, there were always dark clouds of doubt over this idea. Then recently, for some other reason, the clouds cleared away and I could start to see the possibilities (upon reflection, I think it was actually some lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur these last 2 years, so maybe all that’s not been a waste).

We researched all the necessary equipment, JC classes, seminars & other ways to learn everything there is to know about today’s photography. Because, you know, the last time I really did it we a) used something called film and b) dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Through all the research I was thinking how I’d like to go back to formal school for this -- I am an auditory learner and just do so much better with the whole forum/critique thing – but I just figured the time & money commitment was out of the question. Well it turns out (Communication. Check it out. Highly recommended. Part of this nutritional breakfast.) that AK is all for it.

I immediately started looking into Penn State’s MFA program, just for information you understand. It turns out that the deadline for application was ONE WEEK AWAY. Great. So now just keeping that door open meant I had to assemble the entire application package in one week. At least it’s only art school & I didn’t need GRE scores! Well, that was just over one week ago, and I can assure that I didn’t accomplish one darn thing between then and 3pm Wednesday the 17th ASIDE from assembling an MFA Grad School application package.

It was NOT a solitary effort. No sir. I must give gratuitous gratuities and thankalations to the following:
-Thank you Alaska for supporting and encouraging me and having unshakable faith in my abilities. Not just this week, but for the entire 23 years I’ve known you. You have always been able to convince me of my own potential, and whenever you do I am always surprised at the dragons I can slay.
-Thanks to all of you who not only wrote me letters of recommendation but did it REALLY QUICKLY and even FedExed/UPSed them to me Super Overnight Turbo Priority Red Label. And thank you for humoring the silly Academia people and sealing the envelopes, then signing over the seal, and using your special sealing wax and ring stamps for ultra 007 secret security and, um, secrecy. Dr. Doug I haven’t read yours yet because I’m afraid to break the seal, but I’m sure it rocks and you knew to use the Penn State Poly Sci. stationary. Bueno! Richard thanks for the extra mailing effort and also for casually mentioning your Supremo Importante status in Academialand. LORs from Associate Vice Chancellors usually get read, I think J. Ed, when I read the letter that you wrote, I wanted to divorce my wife so that I could meet me, date me, then ask me to marry me. THAT is a letter of recommendation!
-Thanks to Mom, for giving me a day of your life and a tank of your gas. Thank you for driving all the way to SSU to deliver chocolates and pick up transcripts that we didn’t even know for sure would even be ready to pick up.
-Thanks to the SSU Transcript Registrar, who was impervious to my super ‘Nando sexy phone voice charm but DID succumb to the power of chocolate. Thank you for going against all of the “NO ONE WILL GET ANY SPECIAL RUSH SERVICE OR LOVE OF ANY KIND FROM THE TRANSCRIPT REGISTRAR IN THE MONTH OF JANUARY BECAUSE SHE IS SO BUSY DEALING WITH ALL OF THE OTHER REQUESTS” warnings on all the request forms. Was it my desperation? Was it the promise of chocolates? I was explaining all of this to Max on the way to school the other day: “Son, people who get things done in this world do so to a great extent by buying chocolates for the women who matter”.
-Thanks to Amy at the School of Visual Arts office, for loving the ‘Nando and finding me some common sense amidst the Academia Sillyness when I had some simple, reasonable but apparently outside-the-box questions last week.
-Thanks to Aaron, the Google Fu Master, for finding me the one camera shop in Philadelphia that was a)open on Sundays and b)offering rush slide processing! I knew it existed, and I Googled my brains out, but for the life of me I couldn’t find it. Is it just me or is Google becoming increasingly useless as advertisers become better at manipulating it? Also since it favors volume of hits and links, the sites at the very top of my search, the first (and what is implied to be the most relevant) among millions of sites, are often dead links or totally outdated. Indeed the more I rely on Google the more I rely on Aaron and Henderdog, who somehow instinctually must think themselves as a search engine does in order to always get what they need from the information abyss.

Alas, the slides/portfolio, the letters of recommendation, the transcripts, the resumes, the Statement of Purpose, the online forms, the assistantship applications and the cover letter (AK made me delete the cover letter sentence where I told them I was not only relatively handsome but very good at reaching things in high places) all came together and were handed over to Amy with great relief.

On with life! I’ve gotten good luck wishes and great goings and support from a lot of people. And that is fabulous. Though I hope people understand it’s by no means a done deal. Even if they accept me, well THEN we sit down and go over just what they offer, and what I’d get for the big bucks we’d surely have to take out loans for. And if they do sell me on the program, well just HOW MUCH do they want me and what kind of assistance can they offer and can I teach for them or help or somehow work for them. And how long can I keep that job because my little baby will be Penn State age in 8 years and relatives get BIIIIIG tuition discounts. It may be the case that we don’t have to spend all that money to get the education I want (though it would sure simplify the education-getting if it worked out. . . . . ). So “on with life” means we will now go forward as we would have without the application interruption, with intensive self-study, JC classes, seminars and perhaps apprenticeships with local photographers.

What the heck else is going on? Well, Lux is plodding along with a little less work and a little more money. Though my heart is not as in-it as it was before the direction change. But the income becomes more important every day. Alaska is still working her tail off and whipping our finances into submission like a top-dollar dominatrix. She knits so well it’s almost not not-sexy. And HOO the cooking! 5 Pupdogs have never eaten so well.

Max is wrapping his brain, slowly, around his own identity as a 5th grader. I can see him trying on new ideas and attitudes for size every few days. Some are terrifying, some reassuring, some hilarious. He continues to display musical talent and is often even interested in doing the work. Mostly I notice – and I’ve said this before – how comfortable he is being himself. Sometimes it comes across as naïve lack of self-awareness, but lately more often it comes across as unshakable, easy self-confidence. I give you his essay, “My Pet Lizard”

“Three years ago I got a lizard and all the supplies I needed for my birthday. I named him after my imaginary friend, Jax. My Mom went to get the stuff, and I gave them to him (being only seven). We both enjoyed reading History and sitting around playing with Legos. I got him in two thousand three, he lasted all through two thousand four, but two thousand five spelled the end for my scaly little friend Jax the lizard”

Ben and Milo are trading viruses. Right now Milo has it worse and stays home from preschool, swimming and piano. Ben feels fine but he makes Milo – with his baggy eyes and hungover been-in-my-jammies-all-day pallor – look like the picture of health. How does Ben do this? He’s got a hickey around his whole mouth from sucking on a cup too hard for too long. It looks like a moustache and goatee until you get up close and see its perfect circular shape and grape juice purple color. It wigs AK out a little (I was not allowed to post a picture of Captain Hickey piloting the HMS Green Recliner across the living room last night) but I think it’s mostly hilarious. There is the chance someone will call Child Protective Services on us, I suppose, since it is in fact a bruise. How funny would that be?

It’s very late. And to be honest this is the 3rd time I’ve blogged today, the first two attempts were foiled by errant electrons. I will try to blog a little more now that the minor crisis has passed. . .



Pupp Daddy Dog spends his days working as an entrepeneur and as a Dad. He is passionately in love with/obsessively neurotic about his family. Imagine Kicking Bird mixed with Albert Brooks. Oh, and throw in some Notorious B.I.G.


Alaska is the frustrated but caring cat at the center of our canine universe. All of us alternately worship, rely on and ceaselessly whine to her. Her need to control everything is confounded by the fact that she really pretty much does control everything, so in her few free moments, she knits and searches desperately for things to fuss about.



Max is smart and handsome, with a big heart. He is not only growing like a weed, but he has the attention span and concentration abilities of a weed. Despite my best efforts, AK keeps feeding him and he keeps growing. Our plan is to keep him so busy with school, sports & the arts that he won't notice he's a teenager and is supposed to hate us. T minus 2.5 years to teen launch, so far so good.



 Ben and Milo are phenomenal little creatures who remind us minute-by-minute not only how little control we have in this world, but why we should cease our controlling efforts and just laugh at all of God's jokes. Lately, Milo likes to dance and is good on the piano. Ben likes to mimic Max and enjoys manipulating adults and anyone else who has no idea how quietly brilliant he is. Both of them would love your full and complete attention. Really, stop reading silly blogs and join the fan club now. Ok? Ok.








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