November 30, 2005

I Told You I Was 12

The last couple of days (well, nights, really) have been hard. Really hard. Neither Beth nor I have gotten a great deal of sleep lately. Beth's gotten considerably less than I. Mia has decided, apparently, to give up sleep altogether. She'd much rather play, thankyouverymuch. This shit's frustrating, people! This morning, it wasn't any easier.

Beth, having reached her breaking point (so indicated by the bottle of Jack Daniels and pint of Ben and Jerry's she was consuming for breakfast), woke me nice and early this morning to take over. Mia had been nearly impossible to get into bed last night and refused to sleep much even after we finally got her reasonably comfortable. I picked Mia up and started the whole rocking thing...and was promptly bathed in puke. I was shirtless so this was a really refreshing experience. Mia Wardrobe Change #1. Then? She pooped. Not just any old poop but one of those forceful poops that somehow defies gravity and lets slip the surly bonds of diaper. After a change of diaper and wardrobe (Mia Wardrobe Change #2), we went back to the rocking. And the pooping. Yes, folks, this poop equaled its predecessor in enthusiasm - what we call a "blowout" in the Cactus-Fish household - and necessitated another diaper and wardrobe change (Mia Wardrobe Change #3). Apparently the changing table offended Mia in some way because, whilst making the required wardrobe change, she pooped on it too. Nothing better than free-range poop at 5:00 in the morning.

If you're keeping score at home - Mia 3, Dad 0.

I'm now dressed, at work and my eyes are somewhat open. I don't think I smell like baby puke or poop but I have some serious concerns about how productive I'll be able to be today. It could be because I'm so tired but there was one thing that made me laugh like an idiot this morning. On the way to work, I pulled up beside a truck obviously hauling scaffolding to a construction site. I was level with the cab when I looked over and saw the sign on the door. It was simple, descriptive and direct - ERECTION SPECIALISTS. Heh.

Posted by Chris at 7:02 AM | Comments (48)

November 29, 2005

Coming To A Theater Near You

Remember yesterday when I was moderately funny? Yes? Okay. Good. That's going to have to hold you for the day. Funny has left the stage and been replaced by Big Ball of Stress starring in the musical hit Oh Crap, How Can I Get All This Done. Featuring the acclaimed songs Fuck It All (Let's Run Away To Tahiti), Who Do I Have To Blow To Get More Hours In The Day, and Unrealistic Expectations, The New York Times called it a riotously wicked send-up of office politics and the efforts of one man to bend the space-time continuum. Newsweek hailed its star, Rude Cactus, as thoroughly convincing - I honestly thought he was ripping his hair out in large clumps while going slowly mad sniffing dry-erase markers. That's stage presence! and Bill O'Reilly added that pinko commie liberal was okay. What say you?

Posted by Chris at 7:03 AM | Comments (36)

November 28, 2005

Sign Of The Times

Last week, Beth and I headed to our local Borders to find a book on sign language for babies. I know what you're thinking and, frankly, I thought it was pretty silly myself until Beth told me more about it. Apparently, babies can sign before they can speak so, why not try and teach them the essentials early on? Like, hey, break out the boob, I'm hungry or that hurts like a mo-fo - help! I was totally on-board...or I was until I opened the book and found some freaky-looking dude from the seventies with a big old shaggy mustasche making obscene hand gestures at me. Look for yourselves.




Wouldn't that freak you out just a little? You can see how I found that slightly disturbing, right? If you flip the book over and look at the author's photograph, this is actually a pretty decent likeness. But if you were the artist, wouldn't you, maybe, try and tone it down a little bit? Try and take a little of the "washed up porn star" out of the sign language book for children?

I did a little digging, a little field research, and I found out how to properly describe my little discovery in sign language.



Posted by Chris at 7:48 AM | Comments (78)

Haiku For Monday #106

In a perfect world
there'd be no end to nice long
holiday weekends.

(This is not a perfect world.)

Posted by Chris at 7:02 AM | Comments (2)

November 26, 2005

Beats The Dicken Outta Me

Am I an elitist reader? The reason I ask is that I was in the bookstore just now and overheard the following conversation.

Lady 1: Oh, does he have all the Dicken books?
Lady 2: I'm not sure. Here's one with three novels. And I think its Dickens. With an s.
Lady 1: Whatever. Look - he wrote a Christmas book, it looks like.
Lady 2: Huh. Whoda guessed?

What I want to know is this - who doesn't know that Charles Dickens (with an s) wrote A Christmas Carol? Literature isn't really all that important to everyone. I get that. But everyone should have some idea of what the great authors have written. At least themes, right? Like, Melville wrote about a big-ass fish, Hemingway about some bullfights, Fitzgerald about a dude named Gatsby and Steinbeck about a really great depression. That's not elitist is it?

Posted by Chris at 3:58 PM | Comments (29)

November 25, 2005

A Boy Named Mary

As I mentioned on Tuesday, my family has a tendency to celebrate the holidays a little bit differently than most. My mom spent the majority of her life as a teacher and speech pathologist, eventually specializing in kids with learning disabilities and mental handicaps. Or whatever the politically correct way is to label those nowadays. When she retired a few years ago, no one thought she'd stay retired for long. We were right. After a year or so, she became involved with several local organizations and training programs which help recent immigrants - most, refugees seeking political asylum here for fear of persecution at home - learn life-skills, find jobs, apply for asylum and get on their feet enough to bring their families here as well.




This Thanksgiving, like most other holidays, was spent in a house full of refugees - eleven, if you're keeping score at home - many of whom hadn't ever celebrated Thanksgiving before. And as much as I said I wanted to spend the holiday with my family, what hit me the hardest again was the fact that most of these people had to leave their families back home. D (that's him in the picture, holding the baby) left his three daughters behind. He plays guitar in a band with his friend S to distract him, keep him occupied. J left his three children behind. He didn't have a choice. He'd been imprisoned for years - I've never been able to get an exact number - and so badly beaten he not only has physical scars but mental ones as well. M left his daughter behind too. "It's hard," he said. "It's the hardest thing in the world." And I believe him. I have a hard time leaving for work every morning because I miss Mia so much. A, who claims she's my long lost sister, was there as usual, this time accompanied by her 18 year-old daughter who just arrived from her country. A still has two more kids to bring over.

And then there was Mary...

Some things get lost in translation. Names are no exception. Yes, the four month old boy picture above is named Mary. It's unclear why. But at least Mary, unlike his parents, was born in a country in which, while he'll most definitely be harassed because of his name, he'll never - knock on wood - be tortured for his beliefs. And that's what Thanksgiving is all about. That and the turkey.

Posted by Chris at 6:39 PM | Comments (27)

How I'm Spending My Morning

Thanksgiving details coming soon. Instead of writing, this is how I'm spending my morning...




Happy Friday, everyone!

Posted by Chris at 11:37 AM | Comments (24)

November 23, 2005

The Rude Cactus Thanksgiving Special

Here in American, we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow. If we don’t celebrate it, we let the terrorists win. On Thanksgiving Day, ever year, we celebrate the day the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the Wampanoag Indians came together, shared a meal, and celebrated the Fall harvest as it had been done throughout history. Today, of course, we watch a giant, inflated Snoopy float through the chilly skies over Manhattan, eat incredibly large meals and watch football teams bash the crap out of each other. While I realize the first Thanksgiving was truly a monumental event, do you ever think the Indians, by the fourth or fifth year, got a little tired of the Pilgrims? And just wanted them to go off somewhere and celebrate on their own for once?

As much as that should be a rhetorical question, it isn’t.

If you haven’t followed my humble little blog for a while, you might not be aware than I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 78 siblings, give or take. It’s true…kinda. For the past several years, my parents have been deeply involved in the immigrant community in the Washington area, specifically refugees seeking political asylum in this country to avoid torture and persecution in their homelands. The vast majority of them somehow end up considering my mother their mother. During most holidays, my parents’ house overflows with refugees. It’s wonderful. Never have I appreciated the Fourth of July as much as I have since they came into my life. Seeing things through their eyes is humbling and, quite often, heartbreaking.

This year – specifically this Thanksgiving – I feel a bit different. I, myself, have a family. Beth and I were family before Mia arrived but she’s bumped us into full-fledged family unit status. I’d like to spend this holiday with my family – Beth, Mia, my parents and my in-laws. I’d like to gather everyone together and give thanks not just for the things we have, the things we share, but for the new, bigger family we’ve become. I am, in a word, selfish. I want my family to myself this year. This year, well, I guess I just don't want spectators.

I’ll go and it’ll be fun. I’ll meet brothers and sisters I never knew I had. I’ll talk with people about the horrors from which they’ve fled and feel inordinately grateful for what I have. And for what Mia and my family has.

In many respects, it’s a lot like that first Thanksgiving we still celebrate and emulate today. Two very different groups of people come together. They share their pasts, their stories, as best they can in whatever parts and pieces of language they can. They celebrate where they’ve come from and what they have but, more importantly, what they are today. At the end of the day, all the individual pasts are tied into a great big thread to form a common future and show that we can, at least some of us, get along.

Happy Thanksgiving. If you don't celebrate it due to geography or some minor inconvenience like that, I dare you to anyway.

Posted by Chris at 4:29 PM | Comments (25)

Wednesday is the New Saturday

Monday was my Monday and also my Thursday while Tuesday was really my Friday. So, today is like my Saturday. Follow? I took today off so I've got a super double happy five-day weekend stretched out ahead of me. Of course, it all started off very early this morning. Around 3:00, to be precise. When I woke up with Beth and a slightly unhappy baby. I took over parenting duties around 4:00 so Beth could catch a few hours of sleep.

I'm sure you know this but I was surprised - I have somewhere around 4,925 channels at my fingertips and none of them were broadcasting anything but infomercials. That might, however, be better than the Today Show. It's been a while since I've been home late enough in the morning (yes, I leave for work early, with a capital E) to catch this miracle of morning television and I'd forgotten what a hard-hitting new program it is. Matt and Katie just surveyed all the big airports, introduced the new chimp born just recently in Florida and, in a few minutes, they'll be answering the Butterball turkey hotline. Gripping stuff! I'm glad they're not caving and letting pesky little things like wars and political strife keep them from reporting on the big stories everyone needs to know about.

Most likely Mia was awake so early because of the shots she got at the pediatrician yesterday. The doctor said she's perfectly wonderful and healthy. We knew this. And we knew she wasn't starving at all but now it's confirmed. I know it's not polite to talk about a girl's weight but we were shocked. Mia weighs (get ready for this) a whopping 16 pounds 13 ounces.

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Oops. Sorry. I seem to have fallen asleep with my head on the keyboard. Um...more coffee. Much. More. Coffee.

Posted by Chris at 8:06 AM | Comments (24)

November 22, 2005

Guilty Displeasures

We all have guilty pleasures when it comes to music (like yesterday when I threw a Hall and Oates song into my morning playlist). We also have hidden dislikes, musicians and albums we know we should like but just don’t. In the words of Freddie Mercury, I want to break free. Here are some of mine.

I feel like I should like Radiohead more. More precisely, I feel as though I should appreciate their post-OK Computer output more than I do. But I don’t. Actually? I think a lot of it is complete crap. I listen to a lot of weird and varied shit. My wife often describes the music I listen to as “a bunch of vocals then the cats fight,” referring to the screech of guitars or something. So, I should like the lush, layered production, dissonance and complexity of the ever-thinking Brit band, right? I’ll admit it – I don’t. Author Chuck Klosterman once wrote that Kid A, despite being released just before, was essentially a soundtrack to 9/11. When I read that, and read his full explanation, I realized that, from what I could recall, he was right. Like some evil version of the whole Dark Side of the Moon-Wizard of Oz thing, the events of one mirrored the music of the other. Shortly after reading that, I went downstairs to my music room and popped it in the CD player. And promptly lost interest by about the third track.

As a musician, a guitarist no less, I’m convinced I should dig Jimi Henrix more than I do. I respect the guy; he was a trailblazer and did things with the instrument than had never before been attempted (although there really wasn't much of a need to play the guitar with his teeth or set it on fire). I’ve listened to almost every song he’s ever recorded but I certainly wouldn’t want to sit down and listen to a Hendrix album all the way through. Not my idea of good listening. Better than, well, Kid A perhaps. I’m not sure why. Jimi just doesn’t do it for me.

The Beach Boys are, perhaps, the closest thing the United States has to The Beatles. I appreciate them for that fact. They’re identifiably American. If you’ve been paying attention to pop culture, upon hearing the first few notes of Good Vibrations, you should immediately picture a Southern California beach, bikini-clad blondes, and guys with surf boards. That said, I honestly don’t like The Beach Boys. In my head, they’re like a bizarre algebra equation (or for me, any algebra equation) – there’s just something that doesn’t click, something that I don’t get. And I feel slightly guilty about that. When Brian Wilson finally released Smile, the masterpiece he'd been tinkering with for 40 years, I ran out and bought it. Maybe this would convince me, this critically acclaimed chunk of musical goodness with such history behind it. And? I listened to it once and thought it was silly.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve always abhorred The Doors. Jim Morrison’s vocals drive me up the freaking wall. Like I said a few paragraphs ago, I listen to some weird shit full of electronic blips and strange keyboards. I can tolerate a lot. But Ray Manzarek's organ is honestly the most annoying sounding instrument ever played in popular music. I’m convinced – one day in the future, someone will unearth a Doors album and wonder quietly, what the hell were they thinking, buying this crap?

Perhaps the most alarming admission I can make is this – I don’t like The Boss. I’ve got nothing against Springsteen, but his stuff has just never done anything for me. I really want to like him. But I don’t. Bruce, if you’re out there reading, I’ve tried. I own albums I can’t stand to listen to thanks to you. I’ve heard the Midwestern yarns you spin. I like the stories. I just don’t like the delivery. Forgive me.

There you have it. Just a few of my little music admissions. What are yours?

This week in new music brings…a new album by Enya, despite the fact that all her previous releases sound exactly alike…the debut of the John Mayer Trio, recorded live in Chicago featuring primarily new material…a deluxe version of the latest Rolling Stones album, A Bigger Bang with a few extra tracks…and…former Creed frontman (and notable pompous ass) Scott Stapp’s solo debut.

Music DVD’s include…the Peter Gabriel release I promised you last week and live sets from Keane, Jack Johnson, Franz Ferdinand, Rush and Radiohead.

Re-releases hitting the shelves…Billy Joel’s box set featuring all kinds of great rarities, b-sides and alternate takes…several John Lennon including one from John and Yoko which, if you’ve ever heard Yoko before, you’ll know to stay away from this one…the 30th anniversary edition of Queen’s Night At The Opera…and…Rarities, a collection of live and rare tracks from the last 30 years of the Rolling Stones.

Posted by Chris at 7:14 AM | Comments (53)

November 21, 2005

These Boots Are Made For...

...well, someone a little larger for a start...



Posted by Chris at 5:19 PM | Comments (37)

Monday Randomness

Welcome to Monday morning's almost completely random and most likely incomprehensible post!

Part One: I Should Start Hallucinating Soon
Things there were a lot of this weekend:
Smiling, happy babies; grandparents; playing; book-reading; walks; and drooling (primarily Mia).

Things there were not a lot of this weekend:
Sleep; snoozing; napping; and on top of that, shut-eye and catching z's.

Yes, this weekend? Mia was wired. If I had to guess, I'd say she snuck out a couple times a day to hit the local Starbucks. Probably just put on little pink chaps and hitched a ride on one of the cats. No matter how it happened, the kid wouldn't sleep. We'll try it again tonight and see what happens. Cross your fingers.

Part Two: Where Everybody Knows Your Name
Now, to illustrate how utterly predictable I am, I went to Dunkin Donuts as usual this morning. Of course, when I pulled up in front, I realized I'd left all my cash at home. So, I pulled out, paid a friendly visit to the local ATM and headed back. When I walked in, there was my cup of coffee and donuts waiting for me.

DD Owner: What happened?
Me: What?
DD Owner: You pulled up then drove away.
Me: Oh, I forgot cash.
DD Cashier: You called it!
DD Owner: Yep. I figured that's what happened.
DD Cashier: All your stuff was ready to go! We were worried you weren't coming back.
DD Owner: You know, if that ever happens again, we can afford to spot you breakfast.

Part Three: Obligatory Musical Content
And, since this post is almost entirely random (cut me some slack, I'm tired), I leave you with the top ten from my Monday morning playlist:


You Can't Always Get What You Want - Rolling Stones
Punk Rock Princess - Something Corporate
Without Love - Satchel
Champagne Supernova - Matt Pond PA
Come In Out Of The Rain - Engineers
She's Gone - Hall & Oates
Interstate Love Song - Stone Temple Pilots
78 Stone Wobble - Gomez
Move Along - All American Rejects
Yellow Ledbetter (live) - Pearl Jam

Posted by Chris at 8:02 AM | Comments (42)

Haiku For Monday #105

Monday, with no sleep
but hey, it's a two day week!
Thanksgiving indeed.

Posted by Chris at 7:11 AM | Comments (7)

November 19, 2005

A Meme for Saturday

The lovely Fraulein tagged me memewise. So here it is...and it's a painful one to think about on a weekend.

Do you use an alarm clock to wake up in the morning?
Yes. I'd wake up without it (I think) but I wouldn't want to take the risk.

What time do you set it for?
Freakin' early o'clock. Five something, to be exact. Only, that's RCBST (Rude Cactus Bedroom Standard Time), which is approximately 12 minutes faster than the rest of the house and, consequently, the world.

Do you hit the snooze button? If so how many times?
Yes. Everydamnday. But I only hit it once. I mean, you really wouldn't want to hear that annoying noise any more than is absolutely necessary.

Have you ever abused an alarm clock?
Of course. I recall one time in high school dragging a non-functional alarm clock and beating the ever-loving shit out of it just to put a little fear into the hearts of alarm clocks everywhere. Kinda like Office Space. It didn't work. Since then, I've been kind to my clocks in the hopes that they might one day cut me some slack.

It's time to spread some Blogcess linky love:
Anyone out there? You know you wanna.

Posted by Chris at 4:06 PM | Comments (16)

November 18, 2005

Sleep Deprivation Friday!

Words...sentences...string words together to make sentences...

I'm working from home today. Which is a real plus because I don't think I'd make it into work anyway. You see, we're on the third consecutive night of no sleep. Or very little sleep. Mia sleeps like a log (and why is that a well-used simile? It makes no sense.) while Beth and I are holding her. But the minute we put her down? Gah! The betrayal! So, yeah, that's been fun. Although I can't complain too much since Beth's gotten the brunt of it. Have I mentioned how awesome she is lately? 'Cos she is.

Oh, also, can I introduce you to my new political hero? Rep. John Murtha did something extraordinary yesterday and he deserves some applause for it. It didn't look easy, but it did look right. He also has a cool name. Take the R out and he's one bad Mutha. (Hi, did I mention the no sleep thing?)

One last thing...I had a dream that my dad found my blog last night. It was terrifying until I realized that, well, it wasn't so terrifying. Also? It must have been a short dream to somehow wedge itself into my brain during the three and a half minutes of sleep I did somehow manage to get.

That's it. I'm out. Happy Friday, everyone!

Posted by Chris at 7:16 AM | Comments (36)

November 17, 2005

Muhammad Ali

One of Mia's favorite toys. We're not quite sure exactly what it's supposed to be. It is a butterfly? Or is it a bee? So we've decided to call it Muhammad Ali.
Posted by Chris at 5:14 PM | Comments (18)

Speaking For Myself...

When I start writing about a piece of music, I feel as though I have to take a step back and explain where I'm coming from. So, before I talk about Imogen Heap's Speak For Yourself, I've got to tell you, I love good vocal work. I enjoy strong vocalists and excellent vocal harmonies. I think it's a shame when good vocalists make bad music and, conversely, when good music is lost on piss-poor vocalists. Don't get me wrong - a vocalist doesn't have to be classically trained with a vibrato that goes on for miles. All I care about is sincerity. Ben Folds, for instance? Not a good voice. But he's such a great, heartfelt vocalist you can't help but like him. Simon and Garfunkel have rather plain voices independent of one another but put them together and you get something that is majestic and enduring. Their modern counterparts, Kings of Convenience, carry on that tradition. Neil Young has a unique, and some might say awful, voice but add Crosby, Stills and Nash and you've got something. Hell, say what you want about bands like Styx or Yes or any of the other old-school arena rock acts but they had some wicked-strong vocalists.

Imogen Heap's Speak For Yourself has been generating a lot of buzz since two of its tracks hit iTunes a few months back, one on one of the many O.C. soundtracks (Goodnight and Go) and the other as a single with accompanying video (Hide and Seek). I immediately fell in love with Hide and Seek because of its uniqueness and eagerly awaited the release of the full album. Not surprisingly, I picked it up the moment it hit shelves.

The album starts off with Headlock, a song that's almost more 80's sounding than any actual 80's music I own. And while that could be cringe-inducing, it somehow works, especially surrounded by swirling vocals and complex vocal interplay all generated by Heap herself. The previously-released Goodnight and Go is fine, nothing special, and a bit too juvenile for me considering her stature and musical experience but Have You Got It In You, which follows, is its polar opposite. Mature, driven by ambient sound, droning synth and, above all, that complex vocal interaction, it continues to astonish eventually transforming into something with a more plodding, driving beat. This tension is immediately diffused by Loose Ends, another homage to 80's pop. Unfortunately, the almost cheesy beats and synths don't work as well here. Perfect vocal arrangements mark Clear The Area, while a harder edge marks Daylight Robbery and The Walk. Just For Now provides another showcase for Heap's incredible vocal arrangements as does I Am In Love With You. Unfortunately, while the song moves, it doesn't seem to have any sort of destination in mind. Closing In shows off Heap's piano prowess and provides the perfect setup for the album's closer, the majestic The Moment I Said It.

Hide and Seek, nestled in the album's middle, remains the genius track on the album. Anyone expecting anything better from Speak For Yourself will be disappointed. The Moment I Said It comes close, by Hide and Seek remains Heap's best work here.

All-in-all, Heap is a vocalist's vocalist. Musically, if someone told me she was the bastard child of Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel, I wouldn't be at all shocked. She's brilliant, doing things that no other artist has really done before. Her production is lush, and her vocals are astounding. The album is like an unbelievably expensive deep-pile carpet - it's layered, plush, and easy to relax and sink in to.

While I'm on the topic of music, I have something embarrassing to admit - I've listened to Neil Diamond's latest, 12 Songs, and I think it's absolutely brilliant. Producer Rick Rubin has managed to repeat his success with Johnny Cash and produce an album that showcases the brilliance and sincerity of the artist. I can't believe I'm saying this but here I sit, recommending a Neil Diamond album.

Also out, Green Day's Bullet In A Bible, a live CD and DVD of their highly successful American Idiot tour. Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor isn't my kinda thing but that hit shelves too. Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Tour was captured yet again on DVD in the form of Still Growing Up: Live and Unwrapped as was U2's latest tour on Vertigo 2005: Live In Chicago

Posted by Chris at 7:52 AM | Comments (18)

November 16, 2005

Search String Madness!!

It's Hump Day and I've got a sum total of precisely nothing up my sleeve this morning. And a pile of paper sitting on my desk I have to go through. So, I'll play the search string card once again. Without further, or actually any, ado, here are some of the latest search strings from he site.

Wearing black dress socks with sandals. As with the rest of the world, it appears that people on the Internetwebosphere have no fashion sense. And are sick!

Jeff Probst penis. "Wow, I wanted the immunity idol but never pictured it going down like this."

Scary dead bodies. As opposed to all those happy, joyful dead bodies?

Boy Wonder I love you. "And I love you too, Caped Crusader." Let the superhero lovin' begin.

White elephant or dirty Santa. It's that time of year again. Time for holiday themed sex acts.

Does Suzanne Somers care about her fans or is she just interested in making money? Well, all that plastic surgery costs a lot.

I went to a sorority party. Bully for you!

Ambidextrous double jointed illness. You can write with both hands? You sick fuck!

Funny mimes. That's an oxymoron, right?

Stylish fannie packs. See funny mimes.

Damn you fucking cat. An outtake from the little know Charleton Heston flick, Planet of The Cats.

Smell Bob Barker's socks. Look, I don't want to tell people how to live their lives but I think a good game of Hole In One or Plinko would be more rewarding. And a hell of a lot less disgusting.

Robert Plant pantless. Talk about your led zeppelin...

Scientology commemorative coin. "Okay, you call it. If it's Tom, the shirts have possession first. Katie, and the skins get the ball."

Gun turds. Also referred to as bullets.

What to do with your dead hooker. I think you've done enough. Check your warranty and return at the place of purchase.

Bow chicken bow bow songs. Ahhh, the favored style of music for the ever-popular chicken on dog porn.

Posted by Chris at 7:40 AM | Comments (30)

November 15, 2005

Proof

Oh...I almost forgot proof of the hickies...




My daughter sure has some power under the hood...

Posted by Chris at 3:10 PM | Comments (43)

Solo Parenting (As Mixtape)

As many of you may recall, if you were paying attention and visited the DadCentric site late last week, Beth attended a wedding on Sunday, leaving me with Sole Parenting Duties. Here now, are my reflections on that day, complete with musical accompaniment.

She Dropped Me The Bomb by Kix
When the hand off was made and Beth was out the door, everything seemed like it was going to go fine. I was happy and, more importantly, Mia was happy. Little did I know, things were going to change. Actually, I did know it was going to change. I'm no pessimist. I'm a realist. Which is an optimistic term for a pessimist.

New Slang by The Shins
I'm not a guy who fills silences well. In fact, I dig silence. But that doesn't work with an infant. So I had to talk. And, as wonderful as she is, Mia's not yet a startling conversationalist. It was slightly one-sided. But maybe silence would have been better than some of the crap coming out of my mouth. Note to self: when you ask your daughter if she pooped, try to avoid using crass terminology once she's old enough to repeat it.
Correct: Did you poop?
Incorrect: Hey Mia, did you drop a deuce?

Songs For A Blue Guitar by Red House Painters
I'm no good at math but I found the following equation worked out pretty well for me - bouncy seat + guitar = good. My guitar playing? A hit. If Mia were making record deals, I'd be on the charts. Well, it was important that ever word of ever song I played was Mia. I'm sure that didn't hurt.

Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran
It had to happen. Mia would, inevitably, get hungry. And want boobs. But me? I have no boobs. Or, to be more accurate, the boobs I have are purely ornamental. For display purposes only. Mia's cute and all but when she's hungry, you know it.

Bottle of Smoke by The Pogues
To say that the bottle was well-received would be like saying...well...it would be like telling a complete and utter lie. Of epic proportions. A Richard Nixon I am not a crook kinda lie. An I don't know where she picked it up because never in my life have I ever used a phrase like 'dropping a deuce' kinda lie. And then...

I Guess I'll Have to Cry, Cry, Cry by James Brown
...the crying began. And kept going, like the Energizer Bunny. Mia’s got endurance. Lucky for me the three-hour marathon Scream For Boobie Fest 2005 was interrupted by a few little naps when the poor thing wore herself down.

Under Pressure by Queen
When she wasn’t sleeping, she was screaming and, while I pretty much kept my cool, I felt like I had to do something. I mean, here was my daughter, bitching at me for not satisfying her every need and, more specifically, not having a good, productive pair of tits. I read books, I sang, I broke out the guitar again (but that ship had sailed), I made funny noises and the requisite funny faces to go along with them and I danced around with rattles. But very little worked. And by very little, I mean nothing.

Swing On This by Alice In Chains
Finally, the swing. Once maligned, the swing was my savior. After hours of screaming and intermittent napping, the swing did the trick. Sure, I tried to bottle feed again afterwards and sure, I was rejected like a bottle of Boone’s at a French wine tasting event. But at least she smiled at me while she did it.

Thumbing My Way by Pearl Jam
The one thing I tried that did, eventually, catch on was the swing. That, and reintroducing Mia to her thumb. For some odd reason, the digit seemed to have slipped her mind. Once introductions were made and they started making nice, things got a little better. Not inordinately better, but at least quieter.

Napoleon by Ani DiFranco
Whilst changing Mia and getting her ready for bed I think I heard Mia say her first word. It started as just a random noise but she gradually worked up to it. eh…eh…eh…eb…ebb…ebba….el…elb…elbuhhh…Elba. That’s it, people. She said Elba, the island where Napoleon was first exiled. I told her as much. Never in my life did I think I’d ask my daughter if she just referred to Napoleon’s first place of exile. Mia looked justifiably mystified when her father asked Elba? Did you say Elba? The island on which Napoleon was first exiled? I shit you not. Now, did you know Napoleon’s brother ended up living in New Jersey?

Emotional Rescue by The Rolling Stones
At long last, Beth called. She was on her way. There was rejoicing in the streets. And by streets, I mean the living room. Mia was happy. Mom, not to mention the accompanying boobies, were on the way. After all, she’s spent a good part of the day rejecting a bottle and, instead, sucking on my neck. I’ve got the hickies to prove it.

The End by The Beatles
All-in-all, the day played out just as I'd assumed it would. What I underestimated, however, was he bond that seemed to form between us. And I'm not just talking about the bond between her lips and my neck. No, I loved Mia before and I'm pretty sure she felt reasonably fond of me but, somehow, being the sole provide, being the guy who had to change all of the diapers, wipe off drooly chins, rock her to sleep, attempt to feed and, hold her when she cried and wipe away the tears that were falling really did something to me. My daughter rocks, guys. And so does my wife, not that I ever doubted it. Being away was hard for her but she did it. Then she swooped in and saved the day, laughed at my hickies and flawlessly recited Goodnight Moon in its entirety while getting Mia to sleep. I love...and I am loved. And I've got the hickies to prove it.

Posted by Chris at 7:32 AM | Comments (38)

November 14, 2005

Happy Birthday, Beth!

48577566_c4543BDAY copy.jpg
Today is Beth's birthday! And what a radical difference a year makes. Last year we were hitting the town in a limo. This year, well, um, maybe we'll order a pizza. No...no...we did that last night. Two wildly different years, both of them wonderful. I'll be right here for the next 31 years. And hopefully many more.

Happy birthday, my love.

Posted by Chris at 7:07 AM | Comments (41)

Haiku For Monday #104

I'll be asleep in
the supply room on a bed
of Post-Its - Monday :-(

Posted by Chris at 7:05 AM | Comments (6)

November 13, 2005

All The Cool Infants Wear Shades

A Fall day, with Mia (in her cool shades)...




...much more, as always, at my flickr site...

Posted by Chris at 8:18 AM | Comments (19)

November 12, 2005

On Books: October

Once again, it's time for a review of stuff I read the previous month. And it looks like October was a little heavy on the crime fiction...

Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen
Ahh, another gonzo tale of crimes gone wrong and the not-too-bright criminals who commit them. I like Hiaasen. I don’t think his novels are laugh-out-loud funny but rarely do I read something that is. They’re amusing, though. Hiaasen does run the risk of repeating himself. His formula is straightforward and his characters are two-dimensional. My dad and I were talking about his novels not long ago and it became clear to both of us that, in retrospect, his novels are almost indistinguishable from each other aside from vague plot differences. Yet, for some reason, they’re enjoyable, compelling and very entertaining. This is not fine literature. But not everything needs to be.

Dispatch by Bentley Little
I used to really like Little. He wrote a string of horror novels – The Town, The Association and The Store – that were incredibly well done and insanely creepy. Little has the ability to take an everyday thing, like a store or homeowner’s association – and turn it into something terribly malevolent and scary. I know it sounds strange but it’s true. Little dropped the ball on his last few novels – The Policy and The Resort – so I was hoping he’d pick it back up. He didn’t. No two ways around it, Dispatch was complete crap. The only thing that really scared me was how an author as competent as Little could write something so terrible.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
You have to give Lindsay credit for trying something new and different. Our hero, Dexter, is a crime lab technician who helps hunt down serial killers. Lame, and certainly nothing new there. But wait. What if Dexter is, himself, a serial killer? What if he’s somehow likable and funny? And what if he only kills people who are really pretty terrible to begin with? It sounds like a strange formula but Lindsay makes it work. Darkly Dreaming Dexter is unusual, just a tad violent, and very morbidly funny.

Seconds of Pleasure by Neil LaBute
LaBute is, supposedly, a well-known and critically acclaimed playwright. I didn’t know that but I was so informed when I took the book to the front counter at my local Borders to pay for it. I just liked the blurb on the back of the book. Here, LaBute tries his hand at short stories. If LaBute’s plays are any good, he really should stick with his day job. Seconds of Pleasure is tedious, repetitive and, above all, crap. Each story is remarkably similar to the one that preceded it. There’s conflict revolving primarily or tangentially around sex and/or a relationship. And then there’s a twist. A man and a woman fight over his infidelity. At the last possible moment in the story, we’re hit with the stunner – he was screwing his next door neighbor. A man! Duh daaa! We’re you shocked? You might be the first time but that’s LaBute’s M.O. Shake things up at the last minute and we, the readers, might overlook the fact that the stories were crap to begin with. Save yourself $12.

Secret Prey/Certain Prey by John Sandford
After reading 10 or so volumes of the Prey series not to mention all of Sandford’s other books last year, I was burned out. So, it was nice to pick up the next in the series and return to the world of Minneapolis Police Chief Lucas Davenport. Secret Prey so much, I launched right into Certain Prey. Here’s the thing – Sandford cranks them out at a relentless pace. Yet each novel is astonishingly well written. That could have something to do with the fact that Sandford is actually Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Camp. And Camp knows how to write. His characters are engaging, the crimes are engrossing and the back-story is compelling. And Sandford has some absolutely priceless lines. I enjoyed returning to these so much, I just cracked open another one last night.

Derailed by James Siegel
Yes, this is the book on which the movie is based. There’s a reason the movie hasn’t been well-reviewed. Derailed is a decent thriller but its obvious how it’ll play out by the time you hit page 20. I desperately wanted to be wrong. I wanted a few more twists thrown at me to keep me on my toes. But I didn’t get them. It didn’t spoil the ride – it was still a decent read – but it could have been much, much better.

Posted by Chris at 11:14 AM | Comments (14)

November 11, 2005

Asshatery In The News

Granted, it's a Friday afternoon and it's been a long, long week. So I'm annoyed. At the following quote from our Fearless Leader.

"While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began."

1. A war on terrorism is a blatantly idiotic idea. Combating terrorists and terrorist organizations throughout the world is fine. Excellent idea. But declaring a war against an idea has always seemed stupid - and scary - to me. It sounds about as feasible an idea as a war against greed or lust. How does one go about doing that without getting all Big Brother on our asses?

2. I don't feel as though I, when I speak out against what I believe to be wrong, am well tolerated in this political climate. Not when I've been told repeatedly that the terrorists want to kill me and my family, want to undermine our democratic values, want to take away the freedoms I hold dear. When you put it like that, who doesn't feel a little self-conscious disagreeing with the fight against the terrorists? I guess I really just don't believe that this administration tolerates differing opinions. And I think many of it's people are following along blindly, dismissing anyone who doesn't slap an NRA sticker on their bumper and have United We Stand tattooed on their foreheads as commie pinko liberals who should move to Canada if we're not happy.

3. Our intelligence sucked. That much is clear. But our government twisted the facts to make this conflict seem that much more vital, that much easier to accomplish and that much more relevant to 9/11 than was true. I'll agree not to manipulate history if you, Mr. Bush, will agree not to manipulate the truth. And on Veteran's Day, no less.

Posted by Chris at 2:54 PM | Comments (24)

Friday, and a Playlist

This week? It's been annoying. Mainly because of the particular task I've had to do at work. Because I'm a so-called expert. A trained chimp could do this, and that might be underestimating the skills of the chimp. So, it's Veteran's Day and I'm at work, doing my trained-chimp tasks, listening to some tunes. Sorry if I've been dull, lifeless and boring this week. Blame it on work. Speaking of...I'm off to get some done. Here are the top 15 songs from the playlist this morning. Happy Friday and enjoy the day off if you have one!

Fiona Apple Sullen Girl
Barrett Martin Muhammad Ali
Magnet Lay Lady Lay
Porcupine Tree Collapse The Light Into Earth
Imogen Heap Hide and Seek
The Police Does Everyone Stare
Stone Temple Pilots Plus (acoustic)
The Twilight Singers Twilite Kid
Butch Walker Uncomfortably Numb
Aimee Mann The Scientist (live)
Catherine Wheel Heal 2
Joe Satriani (You're) My World
Doves Caught By The River
Opeth Windowpane
Robyn Hitchcock Raymond Chandler Evening

Posted by Chris at 7:23 AM | Comments (19)

November 10, 2005

WNT

Before I go to bed every evening, I go through my closet and pick out what I’m going to wear the next day. I do this for several reasons:

A. Beth (and now Mia) are still asleep when I leave for work.
B. Waking up Beth (and now Mia) results in a very cranky Beth (and now Mia). So if I can avoid turning on lights and stomping around the bedroom, so much the better.
C. I’ve tried to get dressed in the dark. It wasn’t pretty. You wouldn’t think someone could actually put on half of two different pairs of shoes but let me tell you, you can.

Last night was no exception to the ritual. Before bed, I picked out a simple white button-down shirt, pair of black pants, belt, tie and associated undergarments. And this morning, the wardrobe I’d so carefully picked conspired against me.

Clad in boxers and white undershirt, it was quickly brought to my attention that there was an issue with one of my socks. I noticed this because my right big toe emerged from a hole in said sock, thus defeating, in part, the purpose. I took them off, snuck back into the bedroom, rooted around in the sock drawer and took a handful of pairs since, with my luck, I’d pick up a pair of white tube socks. And that wouldn’t be a good look. Crisis averted. Until I put on my pants. Which had, for some odd reason, a big smudge on the ass. I have no idea how it got there but I’m blaming the baby, okay? Off with the pants and back to the closet. New pants acquired (same ones I wore yesterday – shhh!) and crisis, once again, averted. Until I inspected the shirt and noticed that the collar buttons were coming off and pulling little holes in the shirt at the same time. Back to the closet. New shirt. All was right with the world.

But three wardrobe malfunctions got me thinking. What if this was some kind of sign? So, to piggy-back on the popularity of Half-Naked Thursday (HNT), I’d like to introduce WNT – Work Naked Thursday. Um, who’s going first?

Posted by Chris at 7:37 AM | Comments (38)

November 9, 2005

Another DadCentric Tease

I've been quiet here...and slaving away on the Boring Project That Won't Die. But I have managed, at long last, to make another contribution to DadCentric. Here's a tease. Hit the site to read the rest...


I’m pretty confident that I’ve perfected a few infant entertainment techniques but I’m positive my arsenal isn’t sufficiently stocked. I can read stories, I can dance and sing, and I can make the really obnoxious farting noises she likes on or independent of her belly. I can push a stroller, speak in silly voices, shake rattles like a percussionist at a Latin music festival, squeeze a bottle and play the Winnie the Pooh song on a Fender Strat. But I get this sneaking suspicion that all of these skills might not be enough when push comes to shove. For there will loom, just out of sight, the menacing Absense of Mommy.


Now, go read the rest of Why Sunday Scares The Bejesus Out of Me.

Posted by Chris at 2:50 PM | Comments (9)

Ugh

I can't begin to tell you how busy I'm going to be today. And I can't begin to tell you how crappy the stuff I have to do is. Take my word for it. It ain't pretty. So, apologies for any radio silence on my end. I'm either working or running away, screaming, from the building.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (16)

November 8, 2005

Confession

I'll admit it. As much as I advocated it this morning, I didn't vote. If you had the day I did, you'd understand. There's this project I'm working on that's driving me up the fucking wall. Today was, for the most part, maddening. Brightened by the many fine emails, comments and IMs from you of course. Tonight? More brainless work. Tomorrow? Guess what. More of the same. But no, I didn't vote. I'm an asshat. Thought you should know.

Posted by Chris at 7:49 PM | Comments (23)

Vote Early, Vote Often

Here in Virginia - not to mention, oh, everywhere else - it's voting day! Time to get out and do our civic responsibility. Of course, we don't have the opportunity to unseat the President...and the ballot will list lots of people you've never heard of…but it's still important...uh...really. Why? It'll get these pathetic bastards off my TV set for another couple of years.

The Virginia governor's race has been really, unnecessarily nasty this year. Both candidates have hit way below the other's belt and made themselves look like complete asshats in the process. Which is actually a pretty good thing because otherwise, they’re both so non-descript and unimpressive, we wouldn't have any way of differentiating them from the mainstream population.

First there was the republican ad that features a widow arguing, in tears, for the death penalty - something the democratic candidate doesn't support. Then there was the required democratic candidate's response and shots of him working as a Christian missionary. Attack ads surfaced from both parties about the piss-poor qualities of the other - too liberal, too conservative, hates education, doesn't want to widen roads, blows goats in his spare time, traffics underage sex slaves, performs satanic rituals in the nude while feasting on the still-beating heart of an American bald eagle. Okay, so, maybe I made a few of those up. But you get the point.

What I think we all need is a no-confidence buzzer. Like, the little buzzers they click to answer questions on Jeopardy? We can figure out ways to deliver porn to a cell phone. We should be able to figure this one out. Anyway, at any given time, when we've just had enough of our so-called leaders or those vying for our votes, we could just push the buzzer. I don't know what happens after that. Maybe if they reach some pre-determined threshold of no-confidence votes, they're thrown to hungry alligators. Maybe the buzzers are wired to the politicians themselves and whenever there's enough of a consensus that they've done something stupid, they get a nice shock. But there has to be an alternative for a two-party system in which politicians are so insulated from the thoughts and feelings of the people they represent.

Posted by Chris at 7:10 AM | Comments (30)

November 7, 2005

Shark Jumping in the Oval Office

Did anyone watch the over-hyped "West Wing Live Debate Event" last night?

The West Wing used to be the best thing on television. I'm talking ever, in the history of the boob tube. It was the best written, acted and produced show on the air. That is, until it completely jumped the shark last year. Don't even get me started on how many ways it nosedived in the space of 20+ episodes. And while some people say it's rebounded this year, I'm not buying it.

Last night's episode confirmed what most of us have known for years - debates are boring. NBC would have been better off airing the "Sod On The South Lawn Of the White House Live Grass Growing Event." It would have been just about as interesting and, perhaps, a bit more nail-biting.

My comment at the first sign of the closing credits? "Dude, that sucked!" From what I understand, that's not the sign of fine television entertainment.

Posted by Chris at 8:24 PM | Comments (27)

The CHIRP! Heard Round The World

Last night, Beth was upstairs feeding Mia while I was downstairs in the living room finishing off a book (reading, not writing). It was a gorgeous, cool evening. We'd opened all the windows, the front screen door and the back french doors. Sitting there on the couch, reading intently, my concentration was instantly broken by an extremely loud, electronic-sounding chirping - like one of those Nextel walkie-talkie phones on steroids. It was coming from the back of the house, through the french doors off the kitchen. It echoed, as do most noises from the street out back. Sounds seem to reverberate off of the houses back there. I went upstairs.

Me: Do you hear that noise?
Her: What noise?
Me: So, no.
Her: No.

I returned to the couch, picked up my book and, once again, started reading. CHIRP! I thought, it's definitely coming from out back. I figured it would stop. A minute or two later however...CHIRP! And again, CHIRP! My first assumption - Bike Fuck, the asshole neighbor who owns a motorcycle and thinks it's cool to start the thing and rev the engine for hours on end, usually starting around 10:00 at night. I had no idea what he could be doing to make such a noise but I'd be damned if I was going to let that stop me from jumping to unfair conclusions. I looked out back. No Bike Fuck. Back to the couch, and my book.

CHIRP!

That's it, I thought, frustrated. I played out the one-sided conversation between myself and Mr. Chirpy in my head. Look, asshat. I know it's not that late but we're trying to put my kid to bed and we don't need your chirping ass keeping her awake. It's hard enough getting her to sleep in the best of conditions so unless you're the Sleepytime Fairy or something and that chirping is part of the act, shut it! Of course, I'd also come to the conclusion that the CHIRP! sounded remarkably like the radio in a police cruiser. I put the rant on hold and took a look out back. Sure enough, as my PJ-clad self stood on the back deck, a police cruiser drove by. That's it, I thought, relieved.

CHIRP!

Oh sweet lord in heaven, what the fuck is that noise? Clearly, it wasn't Bike Fuck, it wasn't the cops, and I'd ruled out smoke detectors because, well, first thing, we didn't keep any smoke detectors outside. Beth wasn't hearing it. There was, therefore, a distinct possibility that I was losing my mind. The CHIRP! had to indicate the arrival of the psychosis I'd been half-expecting most of my life. Entering a state of denial, I figured I'd get all my stuff ready for work, and in doing so, I grabbed my cell phone from the kitchen. CHIRP! it said. And I involuntarily tossed it across the room. CHIRP! came the call from the living room floor where it landed. CHIRP! it said, warning me of a low battery.

Posted by Chris at 7:51 AM | Comments (34)

Haiku For Monday #103

This gorgeous Monday
morning would be prettier
if viewed from my bed.

Posted by Chris at 7:12 AM | Comments (6)

November 6, 2005

Reflection

I seem to be all about the pictures this weekend. Hope nobody minds. If you want some actual words, go check out DadCentric, a new site I'll be contributing to along with a bunch of other talented dads.



...self portrait, through Mia's eyes...

Posted by Chris at 1:06 PM | Comments (34)

November 5, 2005

Leaf Turning

Posted by Chris at 4:52 PM | Comments (21)

November 4, 2005

Week. End.

Finally. The weekend.



...more, as always, at the flickr site...

Posted by Chris at 5:14 PM | Comments (23)

Welcome To The Way My Brain Works

Hey, get a load of me - it's Friday and I'm actually in the office! Why? No clue. Regardless, here I am. I expect it to be a quiet one. Which means it'll be just about the opposite.

Yesterday, a few of you threw down the gauntlet with respect to my musical quirkyness. Now, before I try to dazzle you with musical brilliance, I feel I have to let you know that there are times where I just need a nudge. I allowed myself no more than a minute or two with a single reference to get pointed in the right direction. Sadly, most of this crap I know off the top of my head. I'm not proud. Just slightly scared.

If you chose not to descend into the depths of useless musical trivia below, I wish you a good Friday.

Dave Matthews Band to Corey Hart
Ahhh, yes. Corey Hart. The dude who wore his sunglasses at night for no obvious reason. Although, he made such crappy music he might have been trying to avoid being recognized. As you might recall, DMB originally worked with producer Steve Lillywhite on the aborted recording sessions that eventually became Busted Stuff. Lillywhite is an accomplished producer having worked with U2, among others. U2 recorded a track for the Rattle and Hum album with B.B. King. King, in turn, has recorded several times with guitarist Eric Clapton including the jointly released Riding With The King. Clapton, inexplicably, played on Corey Hart's first album.

Sum 41 to Megadeth
Ha! Easy. Sum 41, from my understanding, parodied Metallica in a recent video. Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine was actually a member of Metallica before their debut release.

Rolling Stones to David Gray
Uber-producer Rick Rubin produced Mick Jagger's disasterous album Wandering Spirit. Rubin, once known for producing only rap albums, rose to fame in the rock world by producing some very successful Red Hot Chili Peppers albums. RHCP bassist Flea performed on Allman Brothers band member Warren Haynes' solo project Deep End. Haynes and his band Government Mule are signed to Dave Matthew's ATO records. Which also happens to be David Gray's label.

Violent Femmes to ABBA
Sheesh. This one? Not fun. Especially since I really don't like the Femmes and know virtually nothing about them. The only bit of research I had to do, however, turned up the fact that they performed a T-Rex song, Children of the Revolution, on, I think, their third of fourth album. T-Rex guitarist Marc Bolan performed several times with David Bowie. Guitarists Adrian Belew and Robert Fripp, both of King Crimson, often played with Bowie. King Crimson featured drummer Bill Bruford who, it just so happens, took over live drum duties on the 1976/77 Genesis tour when Phil Collins took over vocal duties from the departing Peter Gabriel. Collins produced Abba singer Frida's debut solo album in the early eighties. As a bit of a bonus, Bruford also played with Yes, featuring bassist Chris Squire who also played with Flea on Haynes' Deep End project. So, wow, multiple linkage!

Alabama to Billy Idol
Another tough one and another minute of research on the first link to get me started. For some very strange reason, Alabama provided backing vocals to Lionel Ritchie's Dancing on the Ceiling. Odd, I know. Ritchie has worked with Quincy Jones several times and Jones, in turn, has worked with Phil Collins. Ever get the feeling Phil is everywhere? He is. Phil did some drum and vocal work on Jones' Q's Jook Joint (which I have and it's terrible). Collins played drums on Peter Gabriel's third solo album (although the entire album was recorded without use of cymbals of any kind which had to be frustrating) along side Tony Levin (yes, he's everywhere too). Levin formed an experimental instrumental group called Bozzio Levin Stevens with guitarist Steve Stevens, longtime guitarist for Billy Idol.

Posted by Chris at 7:28 AM | Comments (40)

November 3, 2005

Rants, Raves and Comments

Wow. I'm impressed with you guys. I ask you to rant and rave and you did. You totally made that whole experiment not suck. Great job!

I've read through each and every single comment and I was kinda surprised that some of you are reluctant to comment sometimes. For the record, I don't view commenting as a competition, a battle of wits or a popularity contest. No single comment is any better than another. The last comment is no less valuable than the first. Feel comfortable saying whatever it is you feel. That's all I'm asking.

During the whole ranting frenzy, I avoided posting a personal rant or admission. You'll eventally get hip to that so I might as well do it.

The Rant: Microsoft Fucking Word. May the fires of hell consume the designers and their damned Visual Basic code in a conflagration of epic proportions. Especially the bastards who were responsible for all the formatting and stylistic crap that doesn't work. I spent, oh, about five hours with a 15 page document in a sad and frustrating attempt to get it to look halfway decent. I ended up winning but not before I'd taught the rest of the office some new, descriptive terminology. I curse you all, Microsoft designers. I curse you all!

The Other Rant: Some bastard slipped a commercial for yesterday's Discovery channel programming on the radio this morning. I was sitting there in traffic and I heard all about what was going to be on tonight. Wednesday. I realized it was a mistake after a couple seconds but damnit if that didn't scare the hell out of me for a minute.

The Admission: I'm a total dork. Specifically, I'm a total music dork. I have a savant-like talent that I'm sure I've admitted here before - I can do the whole "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" thing with just about any two bands. Don't think there's a relationship between heavy metal icons Iron Maiden and top-40 hit generating machine Genesis? Think again:

Iron Maiden recruited guitarist Janick Gers when Adrian Smith departed. Janick did the guitar work on former Marillion vocalist Fish's debut album. Fish, in turn, performed vocals on two albums by Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks and was considered a front-runner for the lead vocalist position when Phil Collins left.

Or how about hair metal's Whitesnake and their twisted linkage to John Mayer:

Whitesnake (and former Deep Purple) lead singer David Coverdale recorded the Coverdale/Page album with Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page who, earlier, recorded two albums with former Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers under the name The Firm. Bad Company bassist Boz Burrell was a founding member King Crimson, replaced, eventually, by Tony Levin. Levin performed in Peter Gabriel's backing band (and, in fact, has performed on every one of Gabriel's releases) with Jerry Marotta who played drums on Mayer's first major label release, Room for Squares.

Anyway, there's my lame admission. Not so much an admission, but a quirk, rather. I'm nothing if not quirky.

Posted by Chris at 7:42 AM | Comments (40)

November 2, 2005

Hump Day De-Lurking Rant and Startling Admissionathon!

Last month, I asked you for a rant or a startling admission. It was popular. 67 of you chimed in. This month - today in fact - I want more! Today? Is the Hump Day De-Lurking Rant and Startling Admissionathon! If you're out there, say hi. If you're sick of something or someone, vent. If you want to get something off your chest, do it! Here are some examples.

The De-Lurk: "Hi. I've been reading your site for two years and I've created a small shrine to you and your site in the corner of my bedroom complete with a life-size cardboard cutout of you. I just thought you should know. So, um, hi!"

The Rant: "As I was leaving the house this morning, I fell down half a flight of stairs. Fucking gravity."

The Admission: "I've had this feeling for several years now that I'm a lesbian trapped in the body of a gay Chinese man even though I'm straight and white. And? I find the show Full House strangely compelling."

These are, of course, examples and have no basis in reality. So, it's all you. You're steering now! It's up to you to make sure this doesn't suck!

Posted by Chris at 7:48 AM | Comments (102)

November 1, 2005

Another Point for the White Guys

I know this might sound odd coming from me, but I wanted to applaud Bush's nomination to the Supreme Court. There really aren't enough wealthy white men in government. I - as a white male - view this as a positive step forward for people of all colors (except for those that aren't white) and genders (women excluded) everwhere. Way to cut through the racial and gender-based stereotypes that remain so exceptionally pervasive in the United States, George!

I heard a small, muffled explosion echoing through the DC area yesterday morning. My guess is that it was Sandra Day O'Connor's head exploding.

Posted by Chris at 4:59 PM | Comments (22)

Long Weekend Debrief

You know what the downside of taking a day off is? The deluge of crap you end up having to deal with first thing in the morning. And when I opened up my email, I opened up the floodgates. I had to flag about two out of every three email messages for follow-up. I hate to follow-up. But it was all worth it for such a wonderful weekend.

On Friday, the in-laws invited Beth, Mia and I out to dinner. One of our favorite restaurants was closing for good so we had to get one last meal in. I was really apprehensive about taking Mia out to eat. You know those people who bring their screaming kids into restaurants then just let them sit there and scream? I hate those people. And I don't want to become one of those people, inflicting my child on everyone else. I've gotta say, though, Mia was pretty good.

Continuing to live on the edge, we woke up Saturday and took Mia to the mall. I think Beth is secretly trying to pass on her own shoe obsession early but a new wing of the mall opened up and I wanted to check it out. Again, Mia was awesome. Sunday and Monday were a bit more relaxing, although yesterday we were able to get out for lunch. After which I replaced the kitchen faucet while Mia and Beth looked on. I hate doing plumbing work. Mia learned some new vocabulary words.

Now you're all caught up. I must do the same. I've gotten email requesting my presence in meetings, input on several documents, budget information on my projects...it's only a matter of time before I get a request for my left testicle. And frankly, that's where I draw the line.

Posted by Chris at 8:00 AM | Comments (20)


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