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The Aftermath!

Well, they are over...for at least the next ten months anyways. Our beloved holidays. I did not get any gift cards! A stunner. BUT! I have a cute little gift card story (in case you didn't know, I ranted on gift cards last column)...

So, I run over to the corner gas station on Christmas Eve afternoon to get myself a 12 pack of Pepsi and some butter or something. While I'm getting my stuff I hear a bit of a commotion near the cash register. I hear the employee softly uttering apologies and the slightly raised voice of an irate customer. Both involved are women in their mid-fifties to early sixties. I look over and see the two women involved and another younger woman waiting in line to pay for her gasoline. I think to myself, "Alright, a little pre-holiday cheer!" I confess that I kind of relish watching people get all riled up during the holidays (aren't they supposed to be stress-free?). So anyways, I get my goods and saunter slowly up to the register where the two women are still going back and forth. The customer is getting more and more irate. Apparently, there's some sort of delay with whatever she's purchasing and she just simply cannot wait any longer and shouts, "Just forget it! I can't believe it's taking this long and I don't have any more time to waste here!" I hang back in the potato chips aisle where I have a nice view of both participants. The employee apologizes again to no avail. Apparently no excuse can assuage the irate woman. Then, all on her own, the irate woman asks if she can leave the money and come back in 15-20 minutes for whatever it is she's purchasing. The employee says, "Yes, sure. Can you give me at least 20 to be safe?" The irate women, calm now, says, "Yes. I'll be back in 20 minutes." So she hands the employye a wad of cash and heads out as I head towards the register and the youger woman finally checks out not saying a word. I 'm next. I ask what the heck that was all about and the employee explains...Apparently the irate woman came in to buy MOBIL GIFT CARDS but didn't have any cash. The Mobil station only takes cash on gift cards. So she had to leave and come back with cash for these well thought out and very meaningful gifts for her loved ones which she so obviously gave so much thought to (yes, you are to read this last sentence with dripping sarcasm). So when she gets back it's going to take a few minutes to ring up the $200 worth of gift cards! Well! She simply does not have the time to wait as she has guests coming over and much to prepare! So she's pissed.

Now that's Christmas, isn't it everybody? Rushing last minute to the corner gas station to get your gift cards for the family. WOW. I wish I was on her Christmas list! Thanks for the tank of gas Grandma! Your the BEST!

I got a couple of pretty cool things this year actually. I got the BAND OF BROTHERS DVD Box Set! An absolutely riveting account of the heroic Easy Company paratroopers who served during WWII and fought at Normandy, helped liberate Holland, fought at the Battle of the Bulge, and were the company who captured Hitler's infamous "Eagles Nest!" This was the most highly decorated, revered, heroic, noble and courageous of the United States troops and suffered some of the highest casualties. Hearing their accounts and seeing the 10 plus hours docudrama is a moving experience and makes you realize just how lucky you have it that these men served our country. You owe it to yourself to see this series. If you watch it and aren't moved to tears you have no soul!

Also got the "Complete Sandman" oversized slipcase hardcover! Very sweet! I'm about halfway through this first of four hardcovers planned and I love it. I've read just about everything Neil Gaiman has written--all his novels--but have never read Sandman straight through in its original sequential order! I know...completely unacceptable. But now I can and now I will and now I see why (again) this clever chap has achieved such success in this biz. Great stuff.

Stella got a kitty, and easy bake oven, a lite-brite, play-doh, books, clothes, stencils, jewelry, Hullabaloo (which I highly dig!), toys, toys, toys, and more toys. I think she had a pretty darn great Christmas.

We also took her ice skating for her first time yesterday and my first time since I was 12! 29 years! Sandy said it's been about 24 for her. The rental skates were friggin' brutal! Hard as a rock. Pure pain. If the goal was to have as sore of feet as possible, mission accomplished. As we took our first tentative steps out onto the ice, and Stella's little legs started flailing this way and that, her body jerking in, out, side-to-side, back-and-forth, I fully realized there would be at least 2-3 dozen spills in store for us. Surprise surprise, didn't happen. There were only a small handful of spills by Stella, and Sandy an I stayed upright the entire 2 hours (I did lean into one of the cushioned barricades, however, and took an embarrassing spill). And little Stella improved a hundred-fold by the second hour. She was absolutely hilarious. And what a brave little trooper. No fear. And, of course, the little social butterfly that she is, she made a friend within minutes (also skating for her first time) and they ended up skating together, holding hands, and having ice cream together afterwards. We'll be making the ice skating a regular feature from now on. Good family fun. I'll be buying better skates, however, first.

One funny aside I must mention on the ice skating. The asian dude who was so uncoordinated and had to helplessly crawl on his belly off the middle of the track to the wooden benches made my week!!! I laughed so hard! I couldn't believe what I was witnessing.

Quick notes...Look for the Hellboy Trading Cards from Inkworks in February. Yours truly was one of the featured "Sketch Artists" chosen for the limited sketch cards that are randomly inserted! Cool stuff!

ALSO!...I'll be doing a signing at Westfields in Madison, WI Saturday, January 27, from 1-4 PM. I'll have books, original art and be doing commissioned sketches. There will be much frivolity, joy, laughter, handsomeness, and, from what I understand, Michael Flatley will be giving dance demonstrations. Be there!

Word! r

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