Go Ask Daddy About Vocabulary, Liability, and Rad 80s 3D Puzzles That Forever Stump Me


Competition wasn’t a problem for me as a kid. It was the success I had a problem with.

GAD GRAPHICNo bother. I embraced a life of green and white third- and fourth-place ribbons on field day as part of my DNA. (I can’t remember which was for third, which for fourth.) I toiled on the second level of Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, even.

I made the Detroit Lions look like the dynasty to end all dynasties.

Imagine if I’d been able to compete in something squarely in my wheelhouse. Alas, there existed no competition that involved eating tacos (that I knew of) or throwing a plastic football on the roof of my grandma’s house and catching it at least 20% of the time.

I did win a writing scholarship for college, though.

It came from Doritos. Yeah. It was an essay about snacks. The more things change, the more they stay the same. That $500 nearly paid for a full semester way back then. Let’s get to the kids’ questions before I tell you where I was the day of the Louisiana Purchase.

1. Were you ever in a spelling bee?

No, but I feel as if I’d have been right up there with the champs.

We didn’t have spelling bees at my school. We considered them old-fashioned. This was before ESPN began covering them. ESPN also exposed me to Australian Rules Football, cheerleading competitions, and Major League Eating. (Check out the logo!)

It doesn’t matter. Joey Chestnut recently broke the taco-eating record with 126 in 8 minutes. It’d take me at least 17 minutes, for sure.

Hell, I should give up the dream of the spelling bee, too. I had to scroll in this list of winning words from winning spellers all the way back to 1993. The word was kamikaze, which, incidentally, I misspelled just now. (Thanks spell check.)

Also, kamikaze describes my tactics in taco-eating.

2. Which Star Wars movie is Han Solo’s first?

han solo
By Klapi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
In a universe in which the first movie is actually the fourth – who the hell knows?

The Star Wars Wiki page cites a yet-untitled Han Solo film in the works. It’ll pick up the life of the smug smuggler turned rebel hero in his 20s, and how he came to become sidekicks with 7-foot-6 Chewbacca. (I wish he’d report to Wookie camp for the Denver Nuggets.)

Filming began in January 2017, and Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of The Force Awakens, wrote it. Alden Ehrenreich, who got to be in a movie with Cate Blanchett once, will play Han Solo. Lando Calrissian will also be in this one. I’m ready.

3. Why do you have to be a certain height to go on carnival rides?

Don’t’ feel bad, kid. There are restrictions for being a stormtrooper, too.

Also, some rides are age restricted. The thought being that some ages aren’t capable of managing the emotional stress of a ride. I’ll tell you, there are people my age who would struggle with It’s a Small World After All, but that’s neither here nor there.

If you’re under the limit, maybe your noggin won’t reach a head cushion. If you’re under tall, maybe the restraint bar won’t cross your chest, but your face. If you are below the line, you might get tossed out of the moving machine.

These carnival rides look like they’re assembled in a speed race, anyway. What’s the rush? It’s bad enough a kid ages out of the kids’ price at pizza buffets. My girls are all tall enough for all rides, and old enough to get charged like grown-ups. At buffets, that is.

4. What is an apricot?

I hate to generalize, but apricots seem like fruit with aspirations of becoming peaches.

Both come from the genus Prunus Subgenus, along with the plum. They also share common names with crayons you’d find only in the 64-count box (you know, the one with the crayon sharpener out back.)  [It’s true.]

Besides being stuffed with antioxidants and just beginning their prime season this month, the apricot also has a few skeletons – er, pits – in its closet.

There exists an Apricot Hex, among Marines. It began in the Vietnam War when a battalion on patrol north of Cua Viet came under fire – just as a marine ate his C-ration of apricots. In Turkey, an American Amphibious Assault Vehicle blew an engine years later.

The machine showed no outward sign of problems – until they found an apricot seed at the bottom of the disassembled motor.

Other tales trace the apricot effect to World War II, where Japanese airmen shot down a platoon of AAVs, killing everyone aboard. They were hauling apricots on those vessels. Word is, apricots are no longer included in military MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat.)

They’re really the pits.

5. Can you solve a Rubik’s cube?

rubiks cube
photo credit: davidmulder61 75/365: Solved it! via photopin (license)


I came from the era of the first incarnation of the cubical shifting puzzle, and I didn’t resort to the sort of trickery my contemporaries did – peeling the colored stickers off to reassemble it with six sold-colored sides. (Besides, the stickers didn’t always stick back.)

I was dignified. I took the damned thing apart with a screwdriver.

See, back then, we had cheats for Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, but they were far too complex for me to memorize. If a Rubik’s cube cheat existed, it wasn’t in my universe. Instead, I took small victories each time I could solve one side at a time.

This cat at work, though. He’s Otis Skipper, and besides having a rad name, he can solve a Rubik’s cube – upside down. Submerged in water. Check it:


rubik quote



  1. Hubby does the rubics cube. Hand him one and let him concentrate and voila! But he’s a weird Monk type who starts counting seams and nails and stuff soon as he enters a room. I dated a carny in college. Most of those cars you rode in are held on by a cotter pin. And most are kept erect by hydraulics and we know what happens when a pin hole gets in a hose….down she goes.
    Faith: #TheWordonWords at Life & Faith in Caneyhead.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I can solve a bag of snickerdoodle cookies faster than I can a Rubik’s cube. Much more passion in the former. I love Monk!

      I sort of wish I had some of that, the Monk thing. Any story that begins “I dated a carny in college” ought to draw clicks and possibly a spot on the best-seller’s list.

      Carnivals and news stories go hand in hand.

  2. Lyn says:

    Eli, where on earth do you find all this information — especially about the apricot! Personally, I find apricots a little bland. Give me a nice juicy mango or a Pink Lady apple. Or…a scrumptious satay chicken pie my son in law has made from scratch (apart from growing the chicken of course). Yep, I can solve a Rubik’s cube…well I used to be able to, probably not now though seeing I’ve a few less brain cells 😀
    I just love Star Wars movies – especially the first three. There’s just something very special about them.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      As I told S-Lat, I get it lots of spots! Mostly I don’t know the sordid details until I’m already up to my elbows in research, Lyn.

      You’d be perfect for a tanker, then. I don’t think pink ladies have adverse effects. Chicken growing isn’t a prerequisite to a great chicken pie, and I’d like to try a slice.

      I figure as we age we shed those brain cells that reminded us to, for instance, knock out the tab on a cassette so it can’t be recorded over. Remember that?

      Star Wars changed my life as a young boy. It turned me into a dreamer.

      1. Lyn says:

        Cassette tapes…yeah, I vaguely remember those 😀
        LOL I’ll send you my son-in-law’s recipe if you like.

  3. XD XD I had to refrain from laughing out loud during the Rubik’s cube story because of where I am right now. But oh. My. GOSH. I think my parents still have a Rubik’s cube, and though my dad’s quite the handyman and probably has all the necessary tools for taking that thing apart, that’s not a strategy he ever thought of!

    We had spelling contests at my elementary school! And spelling was one of my strengths at that age, so I usually did really well in them. Some of my classmates called me “The Walking Dictionary” because of it. *blushes*

    Finally, how dare you give apricots a bad rap. 😉 Dried apricots are one of my favorite snacks right now. Either way, I have to second Lyn’s comment: Where do you find all this information?

    These Go Ask Daddy posts are always fun, btw. It’s neat to see what facts, opinions, and humor come out of them, and all the conversations they can start with your readers. Keep it up!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      If you’re ever in a space where you must refrain from a laugh, dear Sara, probably everyone there would love it if you didn’t refrain! (Even church or the library!)

      This cat took 26 years to solve his cube, so maybe your pop should get back on it!

      They called me the Walking Dictionary – but that was in basketball, where those skills aren’t as easily transferred. And actually, they called me “toast” because I was always getting burned, but that’s neither here nor there.

      Hey, apricots did a good enough job of constructing that rap sheet on their own. All this information is gathered through mindful introspection, sprinkled with Google searches and personal accounts and interviews.

      I once long ago skipped Go Ask Daddy on a Friday in favor of a guest post, and it went over like … well, apricots on a tanker!

  4. We had a Rubik’s Cube when I was a kid. My sister tried to solve it and never could. I didn’t have the patience for it. I was a total sticker-peeler.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Rubik’s cubes are 37,000 times less annoying than those thumb spinners kids have these days, don’t you think Aj? Here’s to those us s busy trying to beat the system!

  5. Court says:

    Apricots are better for baking due to the lower water content I find. They make a nice pistachio apricot blondie. 🙂
    Have you ever done “A Reader Asks Coach Daddy”? I bet you people have some good questions for you.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      i could totally see that, Court. I’ll have to taste test to determine whether I agree. I’m not above that.

      I love your idea. I’m going to send out a call for questions at the end of this week!

      1. Court says:

        I’ll make you some and send them down. A batch made it to Afghanistan pretty well. They should survive the trip to you.

        I’ll put my thinking cap on. Be warned 😉

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Thinking caps come with blinking lights and low-key alarm sounds for just this reason.

  6. Did you know a Rubik’s cube make great projectiles? My brother lobbed one at me once and though he didn’t have a sporty bone in his body, he hit his mark – me! Dad made him go to bed early while I got to stay up late (& rub it in). Sweeter than solving it!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      The trick is in how you spin the projectile, Jenn. Did it break like a breaking ball when your brother fired it?

      Were you coherent enough to enjoy the late night that day?

  7. stomperdad says:

    A friend told me recently that she tried to watch Star Wars. She got 5 minutes into it and had to turn it off, she couldn’t stand it. Then she told me she was watching ep 1. I told that was where the problem was and to not even bother with the first 3, but to watch the originals. I can’t solve the Rubik’s Cube. Sometimes I can come close to solving one side. So, where were you during the Louisiana Purchase?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Watching those … *other* three first will ruin you the same way eating moldy steak will ruin you for filet mignon, brother.

      I liked to solve one side of the Rubik’s cube and set the thing on a shelf with that side facing out. Presto.

      I was in third grade during the Louisiana Purchase. Jacked up our geography text books big-time.

      1. stomperdad says:

        There so many different kinds of Rubik’s Cubes now. I’ve seen everything from a 2×2 to 17×17! I bet textbooks were pretty thin back then…

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Textbooks were thin, Eric. But they were engraved in stone. It sucked to tote them.

  8. I completely forgot about Pac Man cheat codes. Up, up, Up, left, down. Yeah, they were way too complex.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Right-o, Sheri – I couldn’t possibly remember a think once I spent 3 seconds trying to outrun Speedy and … I can’t remember any other ghosts at the moment. I was stellar, also, at trying to eat a ghost *just* as it was changing from blue and white back to its deadly color.

  9. While i do like dried apricots, i’d prefer plums any day. And my #2 Son used to get on those rides when he was just a hair under size by taking his socks off, folding them, and stuffing them into his shoes to lift him up a bit. Now you know why i have gray hair!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’d prefer snickerdoodle cookies, but given the choice, I’ll take either apricots or plums. There was a dude dressing down a worker at the amusement park yesterday for not letting his kid under the bar for a ride – although he ranked under the bar. It sounded quite preposterous and I wish I’d been present to impart some opinion on the event.

  10. ksbeth says:

    “I made the Detroit Lions look like the dynasty to end all dynasties.” – best line of the day. says it all. i was a sticker peeler.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I thought you might be able to associate with that one, Beth. I could say the same for my Rockies, but we haven’t been around for centuries like the Potsdam Lions, or whatever they were called back in the day.

  11. First of all, the Rubik’s cube was the spawn of Satan! That thing drove me crazy. I was able to only get one side, one color, like you! Grrr… (I have pent up emotions about that thing, can you tell?)
    I was never in a spelling bee either. I think they went away after about the 5th grade, but I am a pretty good speller.
    I saw the first Hans Solo (and the ONLY Hans Solo in my book) in the very first/fourth movie back in 1977. It was a date.. God I’m old!
    I LOVE roller coasters and other dare devil rides and I started riding them the first opportunity I had, but at my age, I think I would have a heart attack now. They don’t like me. I rode the last one in Vegas and had a headache for 2 days and threw up as soon as I got off the ride. But it was fun!!
    I actually do not like Apricots usually, although I have had some cooked in recipes that are to die for. I just don’t like them as is… raw.
    Hope you are having an awesome Saturday Eli. Sorry I haven’t been around. My life took a left turn for a few weeks but I have a relatively laid back summer ahead until school starts late August! 😘💖

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I think I got a knockoff pyramid shaped Rubik’s cube. Or, I wanted one. It’s hard to tell so many years later.

      Harrison Ford was on top of the world then wasn’t he? Han Solo, Indiana Jones …

      I think the longer we are away from rides, the bigger the shock on our systems. I went on just a couple, and one was really high in the air on swings, but I was fine because I kept chanting to myself “I am one with the force and the force is with me.”

      I like dried apricots best.

      I hope it’s a good turn by now, or one with good possibilities. I’d love a laid-back summer, but I don’t see it happening, unless I break an ankle or something.

      1. I wouldn’t recommend a broken bone lol!
        I can’t do anything that spins. I have vertigo and it makes me sick to my stomach really bad. I have learned that no matter how much fun it is.. the feeling afterward is never worth it 😟

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        The steep drops are what get me. Or the anticipation or slight chance that a steep drop might occur.

  12. An essay about snacks, now that makes me smile 😎

    FYI, a Rubik’s cube cheat sheet did exist, and I owned one. Learned it by heart, step by step, when I was in fifth grade. It’s actually the only life skill I actually learned in fifth grade – that I still master, that is.

    I wish I wouldn’t meet the height requirements for certain rides.

    There is a brand-new post up for your vocabulary practice today, head over for a crash course: https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/2017/05/top-ten-thursday-vocabulary.html

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It was made for me, Tamara. I think I could follow a Rubik’s cube cheat for about three moves … or three less than that!

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