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Showing posts from 2013

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As New Year's Eve approached, I realized that I had learned something over the course of December. My place is really dirty. Cleaning like mad in preparation for a few friends I had coming over for a gathering that night left me with one big question: “Was that big ball of grey fluff dust, cat hair, or both?” I had been slightly coerced into hosting a New Year's Party. It's not that I mind them, I just sometimes feel awkward at them. Everyone around me is sloshed, looking for an acceptable mouth to ram their tongue into at midnight. While I sit in the corner with a diet coke, and try to get a game of “Clue” going.
This was going to be a far more scaled back version of that. The eight friends who were coming would be providing their own booze, there would be party games, and one was bringing a karaoke machine. The sight of booze and a karaoke machine could only mean one thing, that shortly after 12:01, someone would try to get everyone singing a very off key version of “He…

Blue Christmas Lights

Despite all the tinsel and glow, all the shinny faces and families rushing around in their SUVs and minivans, Christmas can be a difficult time of the year for some people. An example? Recently a friend of mine was talking about grocery shopping with her husband and children. She came across the seasonal display of Little Debbie cakes, and began to pick up two boxes to mail to her grandfather. Upon putting them in the cart, she remembered that her grandfather passed away this year, she quietly, and sadly, placed the boxes back on the shelf.
Before you get me wrong, I'm not hating on Christmas. I love this time of the year, genuinely, not in a “Up next on the Donnie and Marie Christmas Special is Andy Ross and he's gonna read that off some cue cards” way. I suppose why I feel a need to talk about this, is that I felt a little down last Christmas. It was odd, I didn't even feel enthusiastic about making my annual Christmas Mix CD, which has become something people actually…

Shut Up and Watch the Deer get Slaughtered

Christmas at my aunt's house in the country is always something of a risky proposition. Just getting there on a cold winter's night can be scary. It's about twenty minutes outside of the city, and you have to take these old, curvy, backroads that haven't seen any maintenance since 1972. You load up the entire family into your weighted down SUV, and off you go over the river and through the woods. Praying the entire time that no crazy rednecks in big pick up trucks are driving in the center of the narrow roads that were not made for modern vehicles.
Sometimes being on those small winding roads makes me a little sick to my stomach. I can never predict when it'll do that. If I drive it's usually more under control. Sometimes people like to drive on small backroads at speeds that'd make you think a remake of Smokey and The Bandit was going on. I go slow on these roads, because I hate driving on a road at night that I don't know all that well. Since I only…

A Christmas Newsletter: 2013

Dear loved ones,
Isn't it amazing to think that yet another year has come and gone? What a year it has been! The Richards family has so much to be thankful for this year, and it was truly a year filled with blessings. I'm sure many of you will recall from last year's letter that Ronnie and I have been working tirelessly towards completing the add on to the house. The neighbors continue to raise a stink about how we're encroaching on their property line. They say they will take us to court, and I say they're dirty, filthy hedonists who couldn't appreciate a good breakfast nook if you gave it to them!
Rose, our youngest, is in the middle of her first semester of college. We're so proud of her, and all of her accomplishments. Rose is studying computer sciences, and I hope to heaven she doesn't turn out like a Sheldon! LOL, as the young people are fond of saying. Robert, our oldest, is in his last year of law school. My dreams are finally coming true …

Servo on the Shelf

You know this plucky fellow right? Of course you do! He's your old buddy Tom Servo from that little slice of genius known to one and all as Mystery Science Theater 3000! In recent years one of the most popular trends for young American children around Christmastime has been Elf on the Shelf. Which is an uber creepy doll that "comes to life at night and repots on your behavior to Santa." I suppose it's all well a good, but next thing you know little Timmy is wearing a tin foil hat and trying to fight off the Kaiser.

That's why this year, I choose to begin a new and wonderful tradition! I don't want a creepy elf doll watching over me at night. Oh, sure, it's cute at first, but then just as you're about to open your gifts it turns into "My name is Talking Tina, and I don't like you." That's why I'm proud to announce to one and all a snappy replacement for Elf on the Shelf. Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, say hello to Servo on…

Ken Burns' Black Friday

Support for “Batteries Not Included” comes from The Andrew W. Ross Foundation for Chickens That Don't Understand the Music of Paul McCarney, The American Board for the Furtherance of the American Board Tomorrow Today, The Flood Cleaning Frog Team Fund, and Readers Like You. Thank you.
Many people don't know how big an impact the yearly tradition of Black Friday shopping made on the American family in the early 2000s. Houses were divided against each other on which store to go to. Backwater Walmarts all over the south broke out in civil shopping wars, and untold millions was caused in damage. Postal workers developed gangrene after being trapped under mounds of packages for months and months. Recently, a letter from a husband to his wife, written from inside a big box department store, was discovered. We hope in presenting it that it sheds light on what it was like to shop on Black Friday.
My Dearest Delilah,
I don't know when I shall see you again my love. This store …

What I'm Thankful For

Thanksgiving is this week (don't panic!). Since we tend to get a little too caught up in the idea of Thanksgiving being all about the food—I'm just as bad as anyone about this—I've decided that I wanted to a column that's a little different from what I usually do in these pages. Thanksgiving is really all about taking a moment and remembering what you're thankful for. The modern world is crazy, and the more we spend invested in our phones than our interactions with each other, it's easy to forget the aspects of life that are really important. So if you'll indulge me, this week's column is going to be a list of what I'm thankful for. If you don't want to read it, that's fine. My usual fare will be here next week, but this is just something that I wanted to do.
I'm thankful for my family. I'm thankful for their support, and their love, and their care towards me. I'm thankful that I'm around to help take care of them in ret…

How to Survive Thanksgiving

OK, I’m gonna tell you exactly how you’re gonna survive cooking a large meal, and feeding it to more members of your family than you’re used to dealing with at the same time. I’m not going to tell you how to cook the meal, you can google Alton Brown for that. The stress factor on Thanksgiving can be high, and mostly it doesn’t come from preparing the meal, so much as that one uncle that wants to do nothing about talk about politics and Jesus. It's that you really have to worry about. Fear not! We're gonna get through this, it's gonna be alright.

First off, focus on cooking the meal. Why? Because that will give you a legitimate reason to not talk to family members. Welcome them, greet them kindly, then say “Sorry, I've got to get back to the kitchen”. Granted, some family will want to linger in the kitchen and try to talk to you/sneak a bite of something. If someone wanders in, put a spoon in their hand, and make them do something. At some point your Uncle Bill will show…

All The Things!!!

We're entering into that time of the year known affectionately to one and all as “The Holidays”. What this means, besides an overwhelming sense of anxiety about the state of your bank account, is that a large number of people who are related to you will be showing up at your doorstep. Basically from now until the end of the year, you're going to be on high alert to keep your abode as spotless as possible. Borderline obsessiveness kicks in as you roam from room to room, examining everything to make sure not a spec of dust is within sight.
Knowing that company would be coming at some point, I began my focus on the guest bedroom and bathroom. The bedroom is carpeted, and I began by vacuuming up every square inch of the carpet, then I deloused it. I mopped, sprayed, and sanitized the bathroom, then I did the same for the bedroom. The last task was to seal both rooms, I had no intention of letting anyone in those rooms that weren't planning on staying over for an extended…

Free to Gloat

If you've been in a retail store anytime from the middle of October to now, you've noticed something. There was an alarmingly early display of Christmas items. I took my mother to the grocery the other day, and in the dairy section I noticed that there was already Egg Nog on sale. Out loud, I said “Egg Nog? But it's not even Halloween!” My mother laughed, she laughed a laugh of glee and delight and said “Oh, how I love it.” She's referring to the fact that for years, when she would complain about the sight of Christmas in stores before Thanksgiving, I would call her out on it. She took great delight in gloating over how I was now doing the same thing.
Matter of fact, if one digs through the archives of my column, and goes back a good six or seven years, I actually WROTE about my mother's complaints of “It's not even Thanksgiving”. Since things are coming full circle with my entering into the stage of “It's not even Thanksgiving”, I'd figure I'd ma…

Forgotten Lore

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, trying to come up with a Halloween column was a bore. It seemed not a single idea that my mind conceived of satisfied my need of. My need of a topic that was not a bore. My need of a column that I hadn't done before. Then is when I noticed, resting gently on the glass top coffee table. My iPhone, fully charged, ready, able to handle any single chore.
Soon my fingers went to tapping, some would say gently rapping. Rapping across the glass touch screen. Typing for an answer to my problem. I asked Siri to find me answers, find me a common list of Halloween traditions. Yet all Sir would reply with was “nevermore”. “Nevermore”? What is this “nevermore”? Oh, a curse upon this iOS 7! A curse upon it and it's day glow colors, that cheerfully display the “nevermore.”
Desperately I spoke the words once more, the words that would complete my futile chore “Siri,…

So You Think You're Being Paranoid

Do you ever feel paranoid? That feeling of impending dread that something is about to happen to you at any given moment? I get that way sometimes. I think we all do even if we don't realize it. Those moments when you drive around and it seems after every turn that car behind you keeps following you. That's one way my paranoia kicks in. I'll even drive around the block, and avoid going down my street, because I assume I'm now in The Big Sleep and these are the thugs who are after me.
My paranoia is a little on the mild to moderately annoying side. There's far deeper levels of paranoia to be sure. I'm just glad that I'm no where near the side of the scale in which I don't leave my house, because I fear that bright glowing orb in the sky. I think part of the reason we're all having increased amounts of paranoia is the fact that we have TV channels who do nothing but report news to us all day long. Naturally, they need some filler to fill 24 hours wo…

I Am Not Now, Nor Have I Ever Been, Interested in Exchanging Pleasantries

I found myself at the grocery the other day—I know, shocking. I had no grand scheme in mind, I was out of fabric softener, and the all natural brand that I use—which you can only get at a particular type of store—was all I had on my mind. I walked in, with a moderate amount of duty in my stride, and went straight to the cleaning aisle. Fabric softener in hand, I did a quick tour of the facilities, looking at the sales items, snagging a bite of cheese from the sample trays, and ogling the organic halloween candy on display.
I began a debate with myself as if I should actually buy the bag of individually wrapped organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups. They looked fantastic. My heart said yes, my brain said no. “They're organic! Dark Chocolate! That's good for you!” my heart said. My brain gently reminded me “Uh, yeah, didn't you just fill a bowl full of mini peppermint patties and place them on your desk?” The week in question was a stress filled one, and I came to …

About the Author

Andy Ross is Andy Ross, which is nothing to sneeze at. A noted writer, poet, raconteur, humorist, and recording artist, Mr. Ross was born in the late 1800s in the sleep village of Idaho, Wyoming, to a family of Alpaca Farmers. Always with an interest in the arts, at the age of seven is when Mr. Ross wrote his first piece of writing, the poem “A Child's View of an Alpaca.” After college—in the 1940s—Mr. Ross then began writing farm reports for his hometown paper—The Idaho Seeker.

His work at The Idaho Seeker would get noticed by National Geographic, who would ask Mr. Ross to be their Alaska Correspondent. There he would write what is considered by many to be among the finest pieces of nature journalism ever written. The most celebrated of which are his “Tundra Trilogy” that is comprised of the pieces: “The Moose Get Up At Dawn”, “Starlight on the Snow”, and “No, Seriously, I Can't Feel my Toes.” Leaving Alaska in the early 1950s, Mr. Ross would spend time in New York City as a B…

Twenty Years of Very Dangerous Days

One of the most important lessons I ever learned as a kid, was that both laundry day, and garbage day, are very dangerous days. If you're of a certain generation, you've picked up on what the above is a reference to. A line repeated by Rocko, the main character on the 1990s animated series Rocko's Modern Life, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this past month. If you've read my column for any long amount of time, you've heard me mention this series before. It's one of my favorites, and my absolute favorite cartoon series. Considering it's from that golden age of TV cartoons that was the 90s, the fact that 20 years later the series is starting to get it's due is high praise indeed.

For the uninitiated Rocko's Modern Life is about the daily adventures and life experiences of Rocko, a wallaby who just immigrated from Australia to the city of O-Town. Alongside Rocko, there's his dog, Spunky, and his two best friends. Heffer, an overweight stee…

The Strangest Movie I've Ever Seen

There are certain movies that defy description. Movies that are so strange, so bizarre, people would swear you were making them up, until you actually produced a copy of the film and showed it to them. There are movies in this world that were designed to be weird from the get go, but nothing is quite as weird as movie that wasn't designed that way. A movie that was made just as any other movie on the yearly slate for the studio. A movie that was made not as a strange B picture, but as a major A production, with a big name cast, a budget, and everything. Such a movie is MGM's 1971 picture Pretty Maids All in a Row. It is, without question, the weirdest movie I've ever seen.

Pretty Maids All in a Row is such an odd movie, that I have a hard time trying to wrap my brain around it. It's very much a product of its time, and very much the kind of movie that NO ONE would dare try to make today. It's a film that I had never heard of, until a recent DVD release by Warner Ar…

The Arrival of Fall

At last the heat has given way and glorious Fall has arrived. I love Fall, I love this time of year in general. September through December is my favorite period out of any given point of the year. Outside of the act of changing the page on the calendar, I knew that Fall was coming by the sight of two things. The first being the sudden appearance on Facebook of status updates all about the arrival of “PSL”. Upon first glance, I wondered if “PSL” was a new type of disease that was going around. Perhaps that kind that requires that sad Sara McLaughlin song, and a request for money. It turns out it was about the early arrival of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, the popular seasonal drink at Starbucks.

The other was the arrival of the season monster breakfast cereals at the grocery store. Much in the way others celebrated the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, I celebrated the return of Count Chocula and Boo Berry. Why? Because I am secretly twelve years old on the inside. Halloween is a big part of Fa…

I, Who Wobbles, But Shall Not Fall Down

I've begun to notice that I'm getting a little klutzy as I get older. I don't think it's a sign of any mental deterioration on my part. It just seems that sometimes while eating lunch, my brain likes to signal my body to throw my fork cross the table without asking for my consent. I have no clue as to why this happens, but it does. It's getting to the point that when I go out on a date with someone, I find myself having to hand them a little card which reads: “Thank you for having dinner with me on this fine evening, should I impale you with a piece of cutlery, please realize that it's completely unintentional. Enjoy your meal.”
We all drop things from time to time, so at first I didn't think much of it. It just seems that as of late, the number of little things I drop, or knock over, have been increasing. It starts out small. A spoon, a plastic cup, a tin of mints. But then it seems to increase to larger things. You're having a nice shower, and you s…