Using Your Brains Before They’re Eaten

Last weekend my improv friends from Pavlov's Dogs and our spouses set out on an adventure. No, we didn't go to a craft beer tasting, or ride around town in a karaoke limo. We were locked in a room with a zombie and had 60 minutes to solve riddles in order to escape. Spoiler: we all died.

About a month ago I got a Living Social email offer for something called "Room Escapes". Interested. "Use your wits to solve complex puzzles in order to gain your freedom before you and your team are eaten by a zombie." [click] purchased.

I had never heard of anything like this, and it sounded 1000x better than a murder mystery performed by your local community theater thespians. Plus any extra training I can get before the impending zombie apocalypse will only make me and my compadres more Z-proof.

A group of 9 of us were locked and loaded for the event. Two spouses wanted no part of this due to fear. One female (understandable), one male (major eyebrow raise). After dinner we wagon-trained to the place through a series of roads in west Dallas that we've never heard of before. Malaka St.? Quebec St.?

As we drove past abandoned and derelict shipping warehouses and 1970s office fronts I had a moment of pause - is this an elaborate ruse to lure people into an organ harvesting syndicate? But, Living Social posted it, surely they vet things out. Unless, wait a minute, what if EVERY Living Social deal was actually a front for organ harvesting!?

Sure enough it was a legitimate business, albeit a little rough around the edges. The “manager” looked like he might have a couple Level 50 characters in World of Warcraft, and he was playing Avenged Sevenfold on his portable speakers on a card table. Also, he was “vaping” from a device that looked like a mini-lightsaber. Super nice guy though.

We all signed our waivers and met the 2 other people that had signed up last minute for our timeslot: a 9-month pregnant lady and her baby-daddy. Not kidding. I felt bad for them, because I know the personalities of our group and they would undoubtedly get steam-rolled in the rush to sniff out clues and solve puzzles. But hey, there are no rules when society breaks down from zombie infestation.

3…2…1… we are led into the room and the door is locked, the counter starts and we have 5 minutes before the chained up zombie appears. The rules are that every 5 minutes the zombie’s chain is lengthened by 1 ft, so by the 60-minute time length the zombie’s chain is long enough to reach the entire room. GO!

It was chaos. The room is filled with items that looked like they came from a shopping spree at an east Texas antique mall. All of us are looking into things, around things, under things finding all kinds of letters, numbers, ciphers, and odd markings. We were all barking out our findings to the point where it sounded like the floor of a bizarre stock exchange. “I found a dictionary with the word HACK circled!!” “Here are some post cards and the stamps areas are circled!!” There are a bunch of coasters with 1792 written on them!!”

DING! The zombie bursts out of an upright wardrobe. Her name was “Dr. Oxy” and she apparently succumbed to her own experiments and chained herself up to protect anyone who wandered into her office. The wig and makeup were actually pretty good, and her “zombieness” was par. I’ve seen better, but my focus was on figuring stuff out.

We were figuring stuff out left and right, DING!, the zombie chain was lengthened. We had a major “AHA!” moment on a key clue, which led to the next thing to figure out, DING! I was impressed with our little group, everyone was contributing in some form or another, DING! The zombie was in striking distance now, able to roam through half the room. “TODDDD!!! NOOOOO!!!!” He was the first person to die. Which means you have to sit against the wall, able to speak but not touch anything. “BABY-DADDDDY NOOO!!!!” I saw a wave of relief wash over him, he was clearly being nice and tagging along with Mama.

Now things were getting frustrating. We had some objects that you knew needed to be used somewhere, and some locks that clearly needed to be opened, but our progress was slowing down. DING! More people were dying. The zombie could now reach 80% of the room. We figured a huge clue and got a battery, which led to a key, which led to another clue, and then, “MEEEEEE!!!!!! NOOOOO!!!!” The zombie’s hair touched my leg.

Okay, I know this is a game for fun so I didn’t contest things with a dungeon master or a girl in zombie makeup, but I really think I got the shaft. Show me one instance of zombie hair killing or infecting someone, and I’ll change my tune. I digress.

We figured out all of the clues! We had all of the moves we need to unlock the padlock locking the door, the problem is that the zombie lady literally squatted right by the padlock for about 7 minutes. We had 2.5 people left, my lovely, take charge wife, Mama and the baby in her belly. They tried coaxing the zombie to them, but the zombie never moved. BUZZ! Game over, we lost.

Again, this is a game for fun, but I firmly believe that it would have been easier if it were a real undead walker driven by instinct for flesh than an actress getting $10/hr.

As soon as the buzzer went off, the zombie stood up and in a voice that sounded like Jessie from the Toy Story movies she said, “Oh Man! I killed all’a you! I’ve never killed everyone before!” Ok, thanks lady. She and Dungeon Master did go on to say that we had figured most of the puzzles out quicker than anyone else, but that we hit a major lull in the middle. And then, well, death.

All in all, we had an absolute blast because it was an activity so different from anything we’ve ever done before. And it is invigorating in a weird, way when you are forced to use all of your senses and your mind to escape a harrowing incident. It made me ponder how we humans are odd in that we are in pursuit of danger through recreation. 

Other species have natural predators to fear, but we have to conjure up new and inventive ways to potentially meet our demise. Whoa. That’s a heady topic for a different day. Thankfully I only lost my pretend brains to the zombie.


Most nerds are socially awkward. The first step to solving this problem is admitting you have it. With effort, it is possible to overcome much of our goofiness...but we will still make the occasional joke referencing a boss monster from a PlayStation One video game at a party with our spouse’s coworkers and everyone present will quizzically look at us like we are said boss monster.

But that’s okay. We have friends and loved ones that accept our quirks. We hang out with them. We learn from them. We eventually go out and meet more people, strike up conversations and make friends with our newfound social skills.

This article is not about that kind of nerd. This article is about nerds who are total dicks.

Last week, I discovered a new independent video game store that specialized in all old stuff. They had current things in stock, but WOW-- you want Atari 2600 and 5200 games? A SEGA Nomad? Neo Geo carts? 3D0 discs in the box? They have it. There’s even a small museum in the back room with a Fairchild Channel F!

The staff is awesome; they’re the type of people I used to work with at my old store in the 90s. They know about things you’re looking for. And if they don’t, they’re like, “Wow, I didn’t know that! Neat!” It’s the kind of place where you can join a communal conversation about boss monsters from PlayStation One video games and everyone, customers and staff, understand what you’re talking about. It’s where the socially awkward are social with no awkwardness whatsoever.

Except for this one guy.

Leaving the Toilet Seat Up is Wrong

You don’t drive around the street with the hood of your car up. You don’t leave the microwave open when cooking your Hot Pocket. After you grab a cold beer, you don’t leave the rest to get warm with the fridge ajar. And you don’t play your Xbox with the disc player open. Really, it’s not THAT difficult to close things. So…is it really that problematic to pivot the damn toilet seat the ENTIRE EFFING 90 DEGREES? Is it? IS IT?!

No. No, it’s not.

My husband has a mutation; his genes have evolved into a superior man that includes X-Men capabilities that gift him with the ability to always — always — put the toilet seat lid in the horizontal position. I have never, in the 10 years we have been Facebook linked, ever caught the toilet seat lid up — EVER. He is also proudly furry like Wolverine, just with less adamantium.

So basically, all you men who leave the toilet seat up and have uber horrible aim are in big trouble, because my lifelong man-friend has proven that this anomaly is possible even if you have the Y chromosome. It’s not MY dumb white husband that is wrong this Wednesday…it’s the rest of you.

Passing the (Human) Torch

I’ve been noticing more and more elements of myself emerging in my kids as they grow up. I can’t take total credit for their developing sarcasm; that one comes from both ends of the gene pool. The flat feet have been there from the beginning, so that’s not really “emerging” as Webster’s defines it (the dictionary, not the classic 80s sitcom). The pieces I’m seeing that make my heart sing a little are the things I thought I was going to have to spend a lot more time and energy passing on to them. But if my barely-even-scientific assumption turns out to be only half as nonsensical as it sounded when I made it up, there might be something of a genetic element to Becoming Interested in Nerd Things.

This makes my job so much easier.

Thanks, genetics!

My oldest cut her chapter-book reading teeth on Eragon and other high-fantasy dragon chronicle literature. She made little dragon sculptures out of clay and talked pretty incessantly about what kind of dragon she would be if she was ever given the chance to make such a thing happen…as if it was even a question. And somehow, in the quieter moments when I wasn’t watching, she graduated to illustrating unicorns and riffing on Adventure Time episodes.

Oh, my nerdly heart.

Are you Chicken Enough?

Sometimes inspiration strikes when I least expect it and well sometimes it just doesn’t hit at all. But I really believe that inspiration hit hard with this recipe. I love dip and who doesn’t but I don’t exactly make a lot of dip. Actually I don’t make any dip unless you count adding ranch powder or onion soup mix to a container of sour cream, but this time I did and it’s good—promise!
Chicken Dip
1 8oz. Package of Cream Cheese, softened
1 Garlic Clove, minced
½ C. Canned Chicken, drained
¼ C. Red Onion, chopped
¼ C. Green Chile (you can use canned chile)
½ C. Shredded Cheddar Cheese (or whichever kind you prefer)
½ tsp. Kosher Salt
½ tsp. Black Pepper
½ C. Cheddar Cheese, shredded for topping

Here's a Terrible Idea

There's a new idea in Singapore. You can't have your coffee until you connect with someone. The machine simply will not start making your coffee until it detects you interacting with another person.
The theory is that relationships and business opportunities often start over coffee and this will encourage it.

It's called the Coffee Connector and it is the most disastrous idea to come out of Asia since Godzilla. The idea is to withhold caffeine, the only thing that makes early morning human interaction possible in the first place, until you've made a new friend.

Look, no one wants to be friends with pre-coffee morning me. He's an asshole. He's irritable and inconsiderate. He's snappy. But he has a good reason—he hasn't had his damn coffee.

Forcing him to interact with other people to get coffee is inviting him to create new ways to define the term interacting. If a sleepy head nod is not enough, punching is interacting in a way, slapping, kicking, suplexing, steel chair across the back. Those are interactions. Raising a mob against a holier than thou Mr. Coffee is certainly interacting.

R Rated Cartoons From the 80's

The 80’s were surely a terrible time to be an adult. The music sucked. The clothes were ugly. And, the hairstyles...yikes. Just imagine trying to date while having to look like that.

But, the 80’s were a great time to be a kid. The world wasn’t dangerous. The food wasn’t poisonous. And the good people at the cartoon factory had absolutely no guardrails to keep them from going off the rails. How else would they have gotten away with turning R rated movies into lovable Saturday morning entertainment.

Remember these:


The movie had the hero shooting people in the dick, the villain doing blow off a hooker’s chest and one of the most gruesome guy’s face melts off scenes ever. So they made it a cartoon. Probably with less people getting shot in the dick.

Rambo The Force of Freedom

We use to try a tally up Rambo’s body count. We gave up once he started blowing up troop trucks with explosive arrows.

Police Academy 

 “Wouldn’t it be wacky if we let kids follow the zany antics of the Police Academy crew? Just take out the blowjob jokes and it should be fine.”

There were a couple of others but I’m wondering why they ever stopped.

Here are a couple of ideas I think they should have pursued:

The Fairy Godfather
After his passing Don Corleone becomes a fairy that appears from a magic cannoli. His job is to grant wishes but hilarity ensues when everyone he is trying to help accidentally gets whacked.  Sonny and Luca Brasi play comic relief.

That's So Regan
Some say demonic possession, others say super powers. Young Regan MacNeil uses her new found powers to create mischief with her friends: climbing walls to steal cookies, changing her voice to skip school...the fun never ends with a friend like Regan.

There's a couple of other I'll be pitching soon. I see no reason to let completely inappropriate source material stop kids from enjoying a fun family cartoon.

What cartoons do you think they should have made? 

Sleep Smarts

I remember weekend mornings of childhood. Running down the long hallway into my parent’s room, wriggling under the covers, stuffing my little body into a nest of snoozie warmth. Rolling over feeling my elbow connect. Then a barking shout, covers thrown off and immediately shuffled back into my own cold lonely room. Confused and sad, I never quite comprehended the why after experiencing the how of my eviction.

After the first half dozen or so sharp elbows and knees to the “Daddy” region, I wished I could travel back to that suburban household and warn the younger me thusly: “Hey. Kid. If you hit Daddy there, he’s gonna kick you out of bed. He’ll be pretty pissed off too.”

Made Art out of Trash

There’s no two ways about it, lumber is expensive. It doesn’t seem that much when you’re walking by it at Home Depot, but it really is. Strangely, people will finish a project and throw away their scraps. Or someone will demolish something and actually pay a landfill to dump exotic and hardwood cabinetry there. As if walnut and mahogany somehow loses its value and integrity by having hung on a wall for a while. As you drive around, if you see a house being remodeled or renovated, it’s highly likely that you will find very high quality materials that you can have for free. I know because I’ve gotten stuff this way.

Jasester’s Choice

Okay, by now we’ve pretty much established I’m no expert in the field of coffee. If anything, I’m just a guy who knows what he likes, all the while experimenting with new types of beans whenever the opportunity arises. And like I said in my first post, I’ve really only been drinking coffee regularly for 3 ½ years now (which is stupid, because beforehand I would just go on a very untrustworthy autopilot until roughly 10AM.) I think it’s important to note that my journey to find a good coffee is mine and mine alone. If your tastebuds find themselves a’hankering for different flavors and blends, then that is YOUR journey. And Godspeed, my friend.

But get your own damn column.

My birth into the world of habitual coffee drinking was more out of necessity than anything. In 4 months my wife and I were going to have our first child, so I felt the need to accomplish 2 things beforehand: 1) lose some weight, and 2) figure out how to become more coherent in the morning. Considering a cup of joe with cream and sugar was only around 60 calories, coupled with the explosivo go-go power it provided me in the morning, coffee was an ideal choice. And do I need to mention just how good it is at keeping you regular? I mean, I was REALLY regular, which when I think about it was actually rather irregular at the time.

Just stop trying.

From the beginning, when I started this “fitness experiment,” my coaches and doctors made an observation about me. They said I was good at following orders. They would tell me to do something and usually, without question, I would do it. I followed the diet. I went in for checkups and showed up at the gym. On the handout I received my first day at the gym was a slogan that I kind of made into my mantra. “Show up. Don’t Quit.”

And, at first I wanted to think it was just a ploy to retain membership. But, I almost immediately heard another voice in my head with another, similar mantra. “No! Try not! Do or do not! There is no try.” And, since Luke and Yoda are on my short list of male role models, I listened. Maybe Yoda trained a werewolf or two in his lifetime. Not sure, but it seems plausible.

Don't Even Ask - Highland Mist

When drinks abound till you are right pissed Chunk it, spread it, time for Highland Mist

The line between an outright crime against nature and something so bad that it’s fascinating is often hard to distinguish. The case could be made for New Coke, “Jersey Shore”, anything relating to any Kardashian (including Lamar Kardashian’s play for the 2011-2012 Dallas Mavericks) and Jerry Jones falling in both camps. I wouldn’t think it could ever apply to alcohol until I had distinct displeasure of befouling my innards with Highland Mist.

I was in deepest East Texas for reasons my barrister’s demand I not disclose when my associates decided to impress me with their sophistication by providing me with some “scotch” called Highland Mist. Now I was legitimately excited by this; I prided myself in having sampled ever possible iteration of Scotch in existence and had never, ever heard of the Mist. It obviously was a cheaper (MUCH cheaper) brand then normal scotch fare, but not everything can be 20 year + Scottish genius. I was intrigued.

Party Crashing

When we heard 5 Minutes For Mom was a having an Ultimate Blog Party we knew we’d have to crash it. Now that we’re in, we figured we should introduce ourselves. 

Our site was started a few years ago as a spinoff of the bestselling Dumb White Husband series of books. Back then there were just two of us sharing our thoughts on what it was like to be the stereotypical husband and father and shamelessly plugging our books. Today, through hard work and dedication, we’ve gotten even dumber.

We invited many other husbands and wives to share their passions and perspectives on all the dumb things husbands love—our kids, video games, movies, coffee, whiskey, food, technology, cars, toys, DIY projects, fitness, stuff and more—and all of them said yes, because, let’s face it, we’re married and we haven’t got anything else to do. 

Are we perfect? No. A while back we made the mistake of asking women to tell us Why We’re Wrong and ended up being one of our more poplar features—for example, there was something about pie. So, we have stupidly left it open to anyone who’d like to tell us why we’re wrong. 

And, not to steal 5 Minutes For Mom’s thunder as party hostess, but we throw a pretty mean movie night on Twitter almost every month. 

But, that’s enough about us. Please leave us a note and let us know about you. We’ll be right back. We’re just going to grab a drink real quick. 

Thanks for visiting. 

Oh, and of course, we’d never crash a party without bringing a gift—it would be rude. Check out their prize pool and you’ll find a few things we left behind.   

The Tip-Off: NBA Game With A 6 Year Old

I have a confession to make: the last ticket to a sports event I purchased was in 2000. And it was $16 with a discount Dr. Pepper can to watch a pretty terrible Dallas Mavericks team led by a young schnitzel named Dirk.

All the other times? Free tickets. I have been the recipient of a lot of goodwill from others and I have appreciated every opportunity and gesture, but it has jaded me to the experience in a lot of ways. When I do score some tickets I usually bring a guy friend or my wife, and it’s pleasant enough. But the dawn of a new day is here; having a 6 year old means I have a new wingman.

Out of the blue my buddy Ryan at Greengrass Studios said he had some tickets to the Mavs v. Warriors game. My mind immediately went to “buddy,” and then it shifted to “wife,” but then this new option popped in my head – “son.” Yes, I would take Benjamin to see his first basketball game.

You Are A Terrible Terrible Person

I like to think that I’m a pretty good guy. I make room for cars to merge into my lane on freeway entrance ramps. I let the shopper with just one item go ahead of me in the checkout lane. Hell, I was once given $20 too much in extra change at Best Buy and I went back to the register to give it to the clerk.

If given the choice, this seems to carry over into my video gaming personas as well. Recently, while playing InFAMOUS Second Son, I found myself following the path of the hero and taking every effort to not kill innocent bystanders with my newfound powers. It’s quite challenging, because it would be far easier to finish the story by indiscriminately Comet Dropping every living thing in Seattle. That automatically makes me a nicer person than Man Of Steel Superman.

Only after I become the hero do I dabble in evil. Bioshock, Fable II, Fallout 3… I always break bad the second time through.