Chuck Effing Cheese
Still Not Really That Busy

One T-Junction Short of a Track

You know how some bloggers come back after a few days of not updating and talk about how BUSY, SO VERY BUSY they were, and you think, "I bet you were not really that busy." 


Well, I was not really that busy.

The other half of Noah's train table finally arrived, as did a bunch of Thomas the Tank Engine recalls-in-the-making train sets.

I should have known I was getting in over my head when I read the user reviews on Amazon...someone would complain that a certain piece had "two female ends" and thus wouldn't fit to form a circular track and blah blah blaaah, and then a hundred people would vote the review "unhelpful" and there'd be a series of rebuttals from Little Engineer in Little Rock and tommylovesthomas and hotdude4673 about how like, heh, the trains aren't meant to only go in CIRCLES and two female ends are actually really HELPFUL if you actually KNOW ANYTHING about TRAINS, unless you're like, heh, trying to replicate the track from the infamous Percy Saves the Day episode, which, heh, had a COMPLETELY BACKWARDS t-junction, like are we supposed to believe that was some sort of MAGIC t-junction? I mean, come on. Go buy some stupid cheaty wacky track and leave the fancy bridges to the REAL fans, loser.

Meanwhile, I was still at the "two female ends" thing.  Schwaa? And also, haaa? And also, why does that make me think of Fergie?

So I ordered some random (London, London) bridges and a track expansion set. I opted not to go for the the "buy this item with a DEGREE IN CIVIL ENGINEERING FROM PHOENIX UNIVERSITY" combo deal that Amazon thoughtfully offered, which was probably a mistake.

I have very literally spent the last 48 hours huddled around that train table, attempting to create a seamless track layout, failing miserably, drinking heavily and cursing. Always with the cursing.

Every attempt leaves me with at least one corner like this:


Go on, Percy. I dare you.


Percy's all, "Bah. And fuck you."

I have determined that I need to drive to the nearest hoity toy store and buy a couple specific pieces of track to finish our layout, despite the fact that Noah does not care in the slightest, and has instead been amusing himself with one 6-inch piece of track (that I randomly and heartlessly take away with each new layout attempt) and a plastic Tonka minivan for the past two days.

Yes, I fully realize that I'm being ridiculous.

And yes, I fully realize that the train set is his. The train set is not mine. I need to back away from the train set.

I think I have perhaps gone a little mad.


Sir Topham Hatt, totally sloshed again, is wondering how many damn bridges one stupid isle needs, and also how long it will be before he summons the courage to finally jump and end it all.


Yeah, it's true. Fucking stop work orders came in this morning. Some bleeding-heart pussy liberal discovered a nest and some rare bird eggs over there by the bridge -- no, not the suspension bridge,  no, not the toll bridge either, the sling bridge, over there, less than a foot away from the other bridges -- so for now, the track's ending here. So help me God, the union better come through this time for us -- my wife's been laid up on concrete blocks for months.


WANTED, ENGINE OF INTEREST: ENVIRONMENTAL DUMPING WITH MALICIOUS INTENT TO KILL RARE BIRDS. If you know the identity of the train pictured in this photo, please contact Sodor authorites.


"Old tires? Dead bodies? This isle sure ain't what it used to be," the sheriff thought bitterly to himself. "I gotta flip some track over to the roadway side so I can get the hell out of here."


Thomas has a Twin Peaks experience and meets his evil twin. "I think I can...DESTROY YOU, MOTHERFUCKER!" he said with a chipper glint in his eye.


"This is the worst disaster in the history of Sodor," the sheriff said, "A simple action switch track over yonder could have prevented this. It's like our entire community was designed by a backwards child. And wait...what's leaking from that cargo that nuclear waste? Oh, the humanity!"

"Hic," said Sir Topham Hatt cheerfully, from his place in the gutter.


Vid Digger

That's exactly what I'm getting my son for his birthday in a few days, but a Playmobile train set. Thought I heard somewhere that the Thomas set contains lead, but I could be wrong.

Someone Being Me

Thanks for the laugh Amy! I really needed that.

Vid Digger

Vid Digger

Here's the link to the story about Lead paint, Amalah.

Sorry to break this news, but it's for your kids safety.


Yes, I am well aware of the Thomas recalls. None of our pieces or sets are affected though.


awesome post. of course, i actually started assessing which sodor catastrophes likely would result in successful lawsuits. lawyers are lame. trains are cool.


Heh... always knew Sir Topham Hat was a dirty old drunk... I can't ever just create a track layout because I am engineering challenged as well. I love the Thomas website because it has layouts that tell the non-engineers exactly what they need and where. I'd go there ASAP because hoity toy store + thomas accessories = obsession.


I think these stories prove that you've been very, very busy.


You're weird.




My brothers had one of those amazing Lionel train sets when we were kids. I'm sure that my parents spent a fortune on it. One year, my brother had a train-themed party and was gifted maybe a million dollars worth of train accessories. (Even including the liquid you put into the engine to create fake smoke.)

I think the train fixation lasted six months. The train stuff was boxed up and forgotten about. I bet it's in my Dad's garage.

Maybe one day I'll retrieve it for my (unborn) sons!


so glad to know i'm not the only one who failed train track engineering. i hate those fucking things.


Oh, dear God. I'm laughing too hard to type! Those friggin' trains. I went through this once, now he's outgrown winey old Thomas. But my next boy is coming up to the age for this so here I'll go again.


Omigod. FUNNY!

To be a fly on the wall in your home. I bet it would be so fun!


we are hooked on the take a long sets -- they are 1/2 the price, and the track is awesome! And the cool carry along case -- it rocks! Welcome to little train hell.


Oh lord, I know the hovering over tracks and wishing for more female ends (i feel like i just came out of the closet). My son, however, can come over and fix up your track problems, no problem.

He enjoys the more abstract tracks though:

Here's to many train creations in Noah's future!


Very funny. You crack me up.


aahahahaha. i'm dying over here. dying.

Mama T

You are weird. But very funny too. Thanks for taking the time to capture all the little dioramas (without the box, I know) to share. It made me giggle.


Dude, you are so wrong. So very, very wrong.


Oh my god this is hilarious. I heart you, Amalah.


Amy - Which table is that? We're getting one for Christmas and are shopping around for a decent but not crazy expensive one.


just wait until Noah takes your nicely laid out track and destroys it. Yeah, it happens.


I'm not sure if you have gone mad but your story was brilliant!


Go on, go away for a few days again - being un-busy.

It's great fodder.


OMG I think I just snorted! freaking hilarious


Have the good Nobel committee members in Stockholm already given out the prize for literature this year?
They HAVE?
You're a shoo-in next year, Amy.

Sarah (In the Trenches of Mommyhood)

How pissed are you gonna be when Noah destroys your carefully, artfully and painfully laid out track?
Happens every time, my friend.
Rotten kids.


Muffy - It's from Target. $80. I couldn't even find a used one on Craigslist for less than $75. It's a little smaller than the BIG Thomas ones (and not to mention it was missing half of the pieces), but it works just fine.


Oh, Amy. You make me ready to be a parent. Now I can stop worrying about trying to live vicariously through future children and just resign myself to it. :-) Who could resist a train set? We've thought about getting one, and we don't even have any kids!


Wow! It seems like you actually WERE pretty busy, composing that lovely tale, complete with 3-D illustrations and everything!

Maxine Dangerous

LOL! That was excellent. :D

Quick story regarding two female ends (it's not dirty, I promise): I was helping decorate the Xmas tree one year and was holding a string of lights with a female end. My mom handed me a connecting string of lights, also with a female end. I said, "Um, this isn't going to work." My dad looked at them in my hand and said, "Well, when you think about it, it is appropriate." Ah, lesbian humor from the 'rents. Merry Xmas to me! :)


hahahahahaha. I'm willing to share vodka and/or wine with Amy AND Sir Topham Hat.

Papa Bradstein

If that were Thomas' Twin Peaks evil twin moment, wouldn't the other engine have its hair dyed another color? Or wouldn't there be a white horse in the living room or something? New shoes!


Oh, that really looks horrible. My coworker was telling how her kid breaks his Thomas trains so he can get new ones and how he knows all their names and asks for them by name. "Excuse me, maman, may I please have a Sassafrass the Dumptruck?" or whatever.

I hope I have a girl.


Hee, hee! I was just as bad about my kids' toys- and oh, the Sesame Street School Bus does that non-circlular track thing, too.

Just thank God you don't have Barbies. My daughter never got to play with them if I was there.


You should go work for Robot Chicken.


I don't mind waiting for new posts if they are as funny as this one! Good luck with the whole train thing.


I don't think that I've laughed so hard, ever!

You will be saving all of these posts for Noah to read when he is older, right? Too funny!


Ha! This entry was totally worth the wait. I bet your train land is full of all manner of torrid affairs and old-money scandals.


Am I the only one who keeps misreading Sodor as Sodom?


Just wait until Noah starts to say Percy, and gets all the letters out correctly except the R, which is a very important letter.
p-ur-cy = p-u-cy
Not embarrasing at all, really.


oh god, the funny.



So you're writing children's books in your spare time, right? ;)


if only you had given birth to noah a week earlier. (something i think you actually wanted to do, at the time...if i remember correctly) then you would have written this post a week earlier, and you probably would have ended up with a nobel peace prize before the weekend.
no one can be anything but laughing thier ass off when reading this post...and what could be better for the world than that?
you know, other than working train sets.

foiled again.

Marmite Breath (Nat)

Methinks this is the beginning of the script for "Thomas and The Magic Railroad Part II, The Reckoning"

Yeah, I just said Methinks. I dare you to call me on it.

Also, if you haven't already seen Thomas and The Magic Railroad, watch it. It's like being high but without the annoying munchies.

If you listen very closely, at around the halfway point of the movie, you can hear Peter Fonda's career die. So sad.

Marmite Breath (Nat)

Also, if you have the Lady Engine, watch out, she is always trying to do it with the other engines at our house. She's a ho.


Am lucky enough to live in Syracuse (that sentence has never before been uttered or printed) - near the home of TC Timbers toy company which manufactures all these tracks and trains - sans the Thomas logos. Bought boat loads of random tracks for a few years at their annual warehouse sale. Then everyone bought the expensive Thomas & Co. pieces for son. Hours of fun were had laying out enormous track configurations on the floor. Too cheap to buy the table, but me thinks now it was a blessing, as you can rework your track to fit your available pieces, not your table size.

sigh. long time ago. now he's 14. Enjoy, Amy.


thanks to an LOVELY M-I-L, my son has 3 LARGE bins filled to the brim with Thomas the train tracks (not including every bridge/tunnel/train house ever made...those are in 2 MORE bins). Hubbie and I spend hours building elaborate configurations that take up our living room, dining room and into the kitchen...just to have child play with small 12 inch circle of track. good times.


Hysterical! :)

Miss W

We've probably got a few dozen extra pieces of track that might meet your needs. Seriously. MULTIPLE layouts (wood in bedroom; plastic motorized in basement; travel wood set EVERYWHERE) -- the train table comes for the birthday next week.

And duuuuude -- you're brave for putting it together. Thomas layouts make me cry. It's totally Mr. W's domain.


I am so glad thst I am not the only one this has happened to!
F&ck Thomas!!!!


this is powerfully familiar. sigh. and I just impaled my foot on a lovely thomas train trying to sneak out of the baby's room while the toddler sleeps. hard to yell mothertrucker when everyone else is napping. damn trains.


hahaha You will regret the day you bought Thomas for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!

hehe Just kidding... it's cool to watch little boys truly *LOVE* something but good GOD I get sick of all the fucking songs and "specific" ways things need to be put together and/or specially bought so your child won't SCREAM if the tracks don't go the right way, etc.

btw, I just blogged yesterday about my child's new accent... thanks to Thomas and his fuckin friends.


OMG - I just snorted out lound in my office with the door open. My cover is blown, must return to work.

Thanks for the laugh!


lound -- what is lound???

LOUD... now I will return to my remedial reading class too.


Ahem. Dare I say it? dare I? Too.much.time. Am geting worried because this, well this means something, I think.
My friend's son just could not say 'The Fat contoller' ( which is what Sir whatsisface is called in England's Thomas the Tank Engine)no matter what we tried he would call him. " the fuckin' troller" I suspect he had the right idea.
I gave up with the wooden train track, 5 boys and I could not make ONE of them play with the damn thing, not that I ever managed to get it to meet. Ever. Not even once, bloody stuff.

cry it out!

Thank you thank you thank you -- fucking HI-larious.



That was hysterical!

But now I can't stop singing "they're two, they're four, they're six, they're eight."

And Percy is totally an ass.


That is the most fucking funny post I have seen.

I will never look at my boys train sets the same.
Thanks alot ~

P.S - Do you think Thomas had a wine train? OR maybe it hauls barrels of wine? Let's get one.


Hilarious post.

Some lovely little boys I know would ask me, while we were playing (non-Thomas) wooden trains, to build the track depicted on the box. I would dutifully set out to build it, multiple bridges and all, and just before it was finished, they would wreck it. Happened. Every. Time. Lesson: throw out the box / diagram, build something random, and have a glass of wine.


I kid you not, I was just finishing up this entry in Bloglines when "Mr. Engine Driver" came onto the iPhone/iPod/iDon'tCareWhatIt'sCalled.

"I'm an engine driveeeeerrrrrrr..."



Big Mama

I hate to tell you this, but I think you may have inhaled some lead paint fumes.

You know for sure that Sir Toppham has.

Kathy Gillen/lessons from the laundry

OMG, instead of drinking and trying to play Thomas I should have been stealing the stupid trains and making my own fun. Our train table has retired to the attic, but our Sir Topham hat or whoever that dude is was not drawn onto wood. You got ripped off.

p.s. Once you get a configuration you like, number the pieces with pencil inside by the male/female part.


Oh I can't even begin to tell you about my Thomas experience. It was when my son turned two also...ahh I remember it so vividly. He would tear the tracks apart every chance he could get. So, I decided to order some tracks and other expensive sheisza off e-bay. I also glued the whole damn thing together with wood glue and it only took me a whole day in my pajamas, and I too swore like a truck driver! In the end my son has the most unique table ever! There is a sky bridge that goes over the island of effin' Sodor and lands nicely on top of the ambulance building. I know I sort of went OCD on the whole table. And you know what, he couldn't care less about that damn table. I am still holding out on my 1 yr old daugher. I don't care if it makes her a lesbian! Do you know how much time and money I've invested into that toxic table?! Secretly I go in and re-arrange the trains just how Mama likes 'em. Scary!

Alice R

Oh Amalah. These kids of posts are why I loooove your blawg so much. Effing hilarious. And it made me want to drink some wine for some reason (not that I really *need* a reason)...


Okay: A) hilarious and B) maybe it's just been a really long day, but all the trains and trucks are giving me a slightly shady vibe. Like maybe they can't wait to tie Sir Topham Hatt to the tracks or something.


I am the master track engineer in my household. When the grandparents got my son the Deluxe Roundhouse (takes up 30% more space and makes all sorts of noise if you're stupid enough to put batteries in it), I found the following site:
pdf files of track layouts.

Not that I ever have all of the pieces, but this is definitely where the wacky track and this other cheaty piece (I think it's a 4 inch track that has a joint in the middle that allows you to adjust it from straight to curved) become very useful.

My son has been playing with his trains since he was 18 months--and he's 4 1/2 now.

Exiled to Canada

SO funny! I laughed so hard I almost choked on my dinner! Thanks for the laugh.

Leaf, probably...

Wow I wish I had one of these.In fact I might ask for it for xmas, and then I could spend my whole two week work break making the perfect giant train network.

Yes I'm 22. No I don't care.


a. that was hilarious
b. you are so strange, but in a good way
c. feeling a little weepy because my 9 year old LOVED Thomas for years. YEARS. Like from 18 months old until he was at least 6. He knew all the names. Played with those trains for hours. Saw Thomas in person in Pennsylvania. Watched every Thomas movie, listened to every Thomas book on tape. We read more Thomas books than I can count. Eventually graduated from just lining up all the trains on the floor and talking to them/looking at their faces (he wasn't ready for the tracks until he was 3 or so) -- to making very elaborate track designs with bridges and tunnels and hazards. Sigh. Seems like so long ago now.
d. I'm a big sap -- enjoy this stage -- that is if Noah ever actually gets to play with the trains himself. ;)


But someone else who posted here is right, Noah will destroy your work. No way around it!!!
Still Hilarious - you made my day.


Dear Amy,
You're heeeelarious.


Step away from the table!


God, I love laughing out loud... and one day, just one day I'm going to say motherfucker on my blog. I can only hope!


Is it bad that I laughed hysterically while reading this? OR that I linked to it? Or that I'm reading it again?

Just too many hours spent with those trains and Sir T.H. I guess...

merry jennifer

Awesome! I just love your posts. They always make me smile (and turn a bit green with envy at your creativity).


Well, this was worth the wait.

V. funny.


you've been drinking a bit, eh?

very funny post! glad to see I'm not the only one that is suspicious of Sir Topham Hat's sobriety.


1. I'm glad Sir Topham Hatt gets drunk in other households. I think it's because Lady Hatt is such a bitch. She's not very nice to Annie and Clarabel.

2. My 2 year old also loves P-u-c-y! Glad I'm not alone!

3. You made my night! :)


Just give him some knives and other kitchen items. Surely they would cause less stress than a train set. ;-)


We had that problem with my son's set until we bought these flexible, wacky track


Ah yes...

We have cheap Ikea track and trains. We have hand-me-down track and trains, worn smooth by at least 2 or 3 cousins' hands. We have new Thomas track. And we have a whole new set of the Sodor Dockside (featuring Cranky the Crane!) hiding out in the guest room, waiting for Christmas. My living room is one huge train set. And much to my surprise, I am better at laying track than my husband, which means when my son wants to play trains he comes and gets me. Sigh.

Just keep buying more track. Eventually there will be enough to circle the house, and you won't have to worry about ends not meeting, female or otherwise. My son has had this fixation since he was 15 or 18 months old, and it wasn't because we pushed it. I think something about those trains is supernaturally creepy...

Jenn T.

Oh, man, you've lost it. Totally lost it. But it's fun reading that you've lost it!


Oh my God, I love this. Love. HA! AHAHA!


ok did you *seriously* just blog about Thomas The Tank Engine?
I heart you.

M.A. Smith

That was worth the wait. I like the comments that go with the pictures. It makes me wish I had a train table and a train set to play with.

Wacky Mommy

You're funny. Wacky Boy and I built tracks that stretched from my room, through the hallway, and into his room. He was amazed by me for the first time ever. SIX YEARS I'VE BEEN ATTEMPTING A BUILD LIKE THAT, AND I DID IT!!! (With only minimal help from the child.) I mean -- finally. I was sitting on the floor, playing with the battery-operated train that can push stuff up the hills which is SO cool and thinking -- really need to get a life.

Have fun practicing.


OMG. I love you. :)


Flexi-curve track is the answer. Yes, it's sad that I know the answer to the track that doesn't quite fit. It comes from 4 non-stop years of making Thomas layouts. I'm glad that it has actually proven useful and wasn't just stuck in my brain occupying the space that should've been used for quantum physics or world peace. Go on. Ask me another Thomas question.


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAA!!!! ***SNOOORRRKKKK**** HAHAHAHAHHHAHAHAA!!! Pardon me -- HAHAHAHAH, HAHAHAHA, hahhahaha...wheezzz....giggleee....snorkkkk....

Whooooooweeeeeeeeeee! That there is some funny shit. I don't care who ya are!!!

P.S. - I think I may have just injured myself. Dangit. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA!


Ahahaha. That was awesome. I feel like I need to buy a train set now.

kim at allconsuming

Do NOT get me started on Thomas the Effing Engine. Go read my blog sometime for stories if you must.

A few things:
- the train system on the Island of Sodor is actually based on our very own CityRail system. Constant accidents and one fat controller to busy eating iced buns and getting new trousers.
- it's lovely seeing shiny new trains and track - unlike ours which is now battered and bruised. I guess I could say it adequately reflects the real world so that if and when we live on a train line and the boys have to catch a train to school/work the filth around them won't be as shocking.
- Jasper is two on Friday and we are a good three months into the toot toot obsession.
God help us all.

kim at allconsuming

Oh and in my bleakest of recent depressions (as in recent=the last five years) I could be found obsessing about track not meeting correctly, not having enough junction pieces/short curved pieces or a particular engine to adequately recreate one of the stories off the myriad Thomas the Effing Engine videos we own.


I went through the same dicey construction project, it rivaled the creation of the panama canal except no Corps of Civil Engineers. Anyway, I only had X-mas eve to finesse the vagaries of island tracking. Lots of egg nog, lots of egg nog.
It was the biggest flop of a X-mas gift ever. He never played with the damn thing and it just took up about half the living room for two years and, eventually, became the coffee table.


What's with the toxic waste and leaking barrels? I don't remember that episode. And poor Topham Hatt... overseeing so many engines can be so stressful.


heh. that's like what I do with the girl's "Little People" Red Hat lady little person is totally an abusie mother and SHOULD NOT be allowed to drive the kids to schol anymore - dumb whore, meanwhile Dad/Noah (of Ark fame) won't help with the kids because he's busy finding new naimals to breed with one another and poor Mrs. Noah can't even get a dime out of him for THEIR kids and she's stuck living in this shitty run-down, P.O.S "Arc". yeah...

I'm so glad I'm not alone!

also - my god, you know an awful lot about Thomas.

Finally, I speak from experieice here, it may be time you spent some time AWAY from the traintracks ...just step away. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go seperate all the Little People before a Little-Gang war breaks out :o)


Oh my goodness, this made me laugh until I cried! Thanks for that!


I could never come over and play with you... I'd keel over in a fit of giggles.

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