November 30, 2007

The Weeklies #13

Good morning!

Damn, I'm hot in the morning. On with The Weeklies...

The Weekly Worst Moment. I'm used to being busy. Slammed. I'm used to sitting in meeting after meeting, returning email, responding to phone calls. So, it's pretty horrific when a slow day arrives. Much less, a slow week. Each of the slow moments this week have been torturous.

The Weekly Dessert. Rocky road ice cream. God bless the person who discovered the marshmallow.

The Weekly Reads. I conquered two mysteries this week. First up was Jeff Abbott's Fear. It was, well, average. His last book was average. If you want nothing more than a wonderfully average book, this one's for you. Next, Marshall Karp's Rabbit Factory. The reviews for this book were excellent but the comparisons thrown around worried me. I don't mind Carl Hiaasen but I wasn't in the mood for wacky. And I just plain don't like Elmore Leonard. I was happy to find that these comparisons were bogus. Rabbit Factory was, without doubt, the most amusing, wonderfully written, smart mystery I've read in a long, long time.

The Weekly Music. I made a couple really great finds this week. Tina Dico's In The Red was up first. Dico - a relatively common name in her Danish homeland but unknown here - delivers an incredibly strong, mature album. Her voice is bluesy and strong. The album is serious, full of emotion and refuses to fall into the slick pop traps so many contemporary singer-songwriters have fallen into of late. Heresy & The Hotel Choir, Maritime's latest release, was next. Heresy is a full-fledged, unadulterated indie rock album. The opening track, Guns of Navarone, is about as catchy as song as you can ask for. And the rest of the album takes its lead. It'll never win an album of the year award but it sure is good.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Remember when Marie Osmond fainted on Dancing With The Stars this season? Totally faked. A writer standing just out of the camera's view told her to do it. Then told her when to get up. And did you see that Britney shoplifted some panties at a porn store this week? Ironically, they had the words Barely Legal written across the front. Pshaw. Like we're going to fall for that barely legal act anymore...and honestly, what's Britney going to do with panties?

The Weekly Question. You are given the opportunity to travel forwards or backwards in time at your leisure. Don't worry - you can come back. Which do you do? And why? Any particular time you want to check out?

Posted by Chris at 7:33 AM | Comments (34)

November 29, 2007

Random Postlets About My Silly Life

I'm feeling random, out of sorts this week. I've been full of ideas for little tiny bite-sized posts and have been collecting these ideas all week. So here they are...collected, seemingly random posts that, taken together, shed a little bit of light on the silliness that I call life.

Reason 3,502 Why I'm Going To Hell
Last Tuesday, I led a training class for some clients. It was an all-day thing so we took a break for lunch in the middle. We went to a hole-in-the-wall place and sat around taking. We landed on the topic of cell-phones and what had finally prompted a few of the people to get one. One guy told a harrowing tale of blowing a tire and being unable to change it. "Eh, you know, generally tires aren't too hard to change if you give it a shot." What I neglected to tell you is that two of the three people in this training class were in wheelchairs. And no, I'm just not lucky enough to have made this comment to someone more, uh, able-bodied.

Lactose Is Intolerant
I was browsing Amazon for gifts. And yes, I'll admit it, stuff for myself. I stumbled on critics review of the latest Dean Koontz book. Take a look. A close look.

Huh. "Darkest Ice Cream of the Year"? The master of horror returns with a chilling tale of dairy gone bad.

Penile Logic
As I might have mentioned, my penis is a pretty hot topic of conversation here in the Cactus-Fish household. Witness the following conversation I had with my daughter.

Mia: Daddy has a penis today.
Me: Yes, as opposed to the other days when I forget and leave it at home.
Mia: It's on the other side of your bottom.
Me: Can't really argue with that logic.
Mia: Play trains! Play trains!

I Have Been Warned
Beth is having a little bit harder time with this pregnancy than she did with Mia. Don't get me wrong - she's thrilled what with the long-term bonus of having a kid at the end of nine hard months. But I think the daily rigor of pregnancy is getting to her. Why? The other day, apropos of absolutely nothing, she said, and I quite, "If you ever get me pregnant again, I'm going to beat the shit out of you." Duly noted. Feel the love.

Posted by Chris at 7:03 AM | Comments (22)

November 28, 2007


In many ways I am an enigma, shrouded in a mystery, bound tightly in conundrum wrapped in a nice warm flour tortilla (inside joke, hopefully still somewhat amusing). One of my popular pet peeves is the media. I like to bitch about the incompetence of the media in general, sensationalism and the placement of importance in stories and people that really aren't all that important. Yet ever evening I visit The Superficial, TMZ and, if I really want to overload my brain, Perez. And in my mind, celebrities just aren't all that important.

My hometown - Washington DC - is obsessed with politics and football. And despite the fact that the seat of government for the free world is really right here, the political aspect is usually vastly overshadowed by football. And I know what you're thinking. My hometown is just as football obsessed. But you're wrong. People get killed around here for voicing dissenting opinions. Our 90,000-seat stadium erupts in violence every weekend because some poor, brainless sap decided to wear a Cowboys jersey to the game. In my mind, such importance is misplaced.

The coverage of Sean Taylor's death has, therefore, blown my mind. It's all this town - and seemingly the country - can talk about. And I won't deny the tragedy here. But what, besides the fact that this guy was a young football star, makes this one event so notable when

  • Somewhere around 1,417,745 violent crimes happened in 2006.
  • 473 violent crimes occurred per 100,000 people.
  • Firearms were used in 68% of murders, 42% of robberies and 22% of aggravated assaults.
  • 447,403 robberies were committed in 2006.
  • 14.3% of robberies targeted residences.
  • An estimated 17,034 persons were murdered nationwide in 2006.
  • Murder comprised 1.2 percent of the overall estimated number of violent crimes in 2006.
  • There were an estimated 5.7 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
  • Only a very small percentage of the victims of these crimes were professional athletes, rock stars, celebutantes, and pop culture icons. The rest were like you and me.

So where, exactly, is the outrage for the other victims of violent crime, robberies and murder? The ones who don't get their faces splashed across the papers and morning news shows. The ones who don't have multi-million dollar contracts with their employers. Where are the vigils at 90,000 seat football stadiums and tributes from civic leaders? Where is the wall-to-wall coverage? These are not rhetorical questions; I'm really asking.

* facts and figures courtesy of the FBI.

Posted by Chris at 7:08 AM | Comments (37)

November 27, 2007

The Bumblebee Toy

Over the past week or so, we officially opened Mia's eyes to the wonder that is Christmas...and Santa Claus. Last year she was just a bit too young to fully appreciate it. And, sadly, a bit too sick to enjoy the holiday when it eventually arrived (cross your fingers for healthy kids this Christmas, please?). She's got the whole story down - the letters to the North Pole, Santa's list of girls and boys and the toys they want, sleighs, and the whole reindeer thing.

Yet for us there's something of a mystery this holiday season. Immediately after discussing Santa (and I'm talking seconds, not minutes or hours) for the first time, she proclaimed that he was going to bring her a bumblebee toy. This wouldn't be a problem if Beth and I had any clue what she was talking about. But she's adamant. And we're clueless.

We've leafed through all her books. She watches very little television but we've sailed through the handful of Backyardigans and Little Einsteins episodes she likes. We've scoured the internet, paying particular attention to the entire selection of toys available from Amazon. And? Nothing.

Therefore, dear internets, I have two questions for you, as I'm hopeful that several hundred minds are better than our two.

Question 1. What the heck is my daughter talking about? Now, some of your kids have actually played with my kid. Do you own such a thing? Anyone have any good guesses?

Question 2. What do you want for Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Festivus or whatever seasonable holiday you happen to celebrate)?

Posted by Chris at 6:36 AM | Comments (60)

November 26, 2007

The Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

Five days. Yes, I was off - as in not working - for a whopping five days. And now I'm back at work. I'm sad. But I guess the vacation couldn't go on forever. For one thing, we'd be poor and I have the feeling I wouldn't like welfare. I don't think you can buy lots of books and music on welfare.

...more can be found at flickr, of course...

So, what did we do with those five days? How much time do you have?

  • Gave thanks and ate (in)appropriately. This is probably the reason why Mia told me I had a "big tummy" and wondered aloud if I had a baby in it like mommy. This was after she told me I was old. Christ.
  • Watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade has devolved into half Broadway show, half whorefest. I'm not talking about the Rockettes. The float/act-to-advertisement ratio seemed to average about 1 to six. And could NBC whore their own "stars" anymore? I'm sure they could. Tune in next year.
  • Made gingerbread men. This was a highlight since Mia has been bound and determined to make them since she saw an illustration of a gingerbread man a week and a half ago. It blew her little mind.
  • Chose colors to paint the interior of the house...again. The original list of colors escaped. We did a hard-target search of every outhouse, hen house, flop house and doll house to no avail. So we had to do it again. Good timing too since painters will be here at the end of the week and they need something to paint with.
  • Read a book or two. A book and a half, really.
  • Visited the Air and Space museum. We told Mia she could see rockets. I think she was a little disappointed it wasn't the Rocket. From Little Einsteins. Though traumatized, she survived.
  • Sang Christmas carols...and realized I didn't know the words to half of them. How does that happen in a land where we're inundated with the damn things starting around Halloween? Mia is particularly thrilled with her Christmas books and music this year. I'll be trying to keep my sanity for the next month.
  • Re-enacted a circus in my daughter's bedroom. It involved her brand new trick of drinking water from a sippy cup while upside down. I blame Patrick.
  • Removed all the vegetation from the fish pond. It smelled like fish poo. It took half an hour in the shower to get the smell off of myself.
  • Bought jeans. This is something of an accomplishment. Mia and I hit Old Navy and I stocked up on jeans and long-sleeve t-shirts and stuff. She's officially my new fashion consultant.
  • Caught up on some TiVo. For the record, this included Grey's Anatomy, Dirty Jobs (I could empathize after the fish poo), Flip That House, CSI (which I'm now calling Criminally Stupid Investigations yet I still watch), Survivor and House.

Was that enough? Trust me, I've forgotten to report half of it. So, what did you do?

Posted by Chris at 6:20 AM | Comments (30)

Haiku For Monday #194

Rude awakening.
Monday after a five day
weekend. Coffee. Now!

Posted by Chris at 6:15 AM

November 23, 2007

The Weeklies #12: The Abbreviated Thanksgiving Edition

I've got the day off and I'm going to take full advantage of it. So today I bring you an abbreviated weekly report. I'm off to play. Or, possibly, stand in line at the DMV to get my license renewed. To-may-toh, to-maah-toh.

The Weekly Best Moment: Thanksgiving, of course. All the usual things happened. The same old arguments, the same jokes, the same bloated, sleepy ending. In short, perfection.

The Weekly Reads: Two down this week - Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger and Gold by Dan Rhodes. Unger's Beautiful Lies was a fantastic thriller, sure to appeal to damn near everyone. It's literate, complex and written in an almost conversational style that completely absorbed me. As for Rhodes' Gold, it may well be the best book I've read in a long, long time. In less than 200 pages, Rhodes has produced a wise, quirky, and utterly wonderful novel. Only after I put it down did I realize just how much I loved it. I can't pinpoint why. But I did.

The Weekly Music: Did you know I now review music over at They Will Rock You? Well, I do! While you're there, check out my two latest reviews.

The Weekly Favorite Photograph: The first of what I'm sure will be many pictures I post from the Thanksgiving weekend.

The Weekly Question: What's the best album you've heard recently?

Posted by Chris at 8:46 AM | Comments (28)

November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving


I am thankful for so many things. You among them. Happy Thanksgiving to all (even if you don't happen to celebrate it).

Posted by Chris at 8:01 AM | Comments (30)

November 21, 2007

Traditions (Or, I Don't Want Pumpkin Pie, Dammit)

The following conversation will take place tomorrow, Thanksgiving.

Mom: Don't you want some cranberry sauce?
Me: No thanks.
Mom: What, you don't like cranberry sauce?
Me: Um, no.
Mom: Since when?
Me: Name a Thanksgiving when you've ever seen me eat cranberry sauce.
Mom: Huh.

That conversation will be followed an hour or two later by this one.

Dad: Would you like pumpkin or apple pie.
Me: Apple please.
Dad: No pumpkin pie?
Me: Remember the last time mom saw me eat cranberry sauce? That was the last time I ate pumpkin pie too.
Dad: Huh.

Later in the evening, my mom will pour the last of a bottle of white wine into her glass, my dad will give her a look, and my mom will continue whatever it was she was saying punctuating her points with what she thinks is filthy language but really isn't all that bad. Then we'll talk about politics and we'll do our best to convince my father-in-law to repent and mend his Republican ways. We'll lose but it won't be for lack of trying. If we're lucky - and most of the time we are - we'll get a chorus line-like show from my mother and mother-in-law. They'll claim they're dancing for Mia's benefit but we'll know the truth - they're silly.

These things, taken together, would be pretty annoying if they happened everyday. But they don't. Instead, they're traditions, those things - good, bad or indifferent - that you can count on happening. Or at least I can count on happening every Thanksgiving.

We're entering a season rife with tradition. So I ask you - what are your favorite or least-favorite traditions?

Posted by Chris at 8:06 AM | Comments (39)

November 20, 2007

Members Only

The topic for today? Penises. Yep, the schlong. Junk, johnson, shaft ("shut yo mouth!"), dong, phallus, member, prick, dick, willy, weiner, pecker, knob, rod, "Little Elvis", man-meat, noodle, The Lizard, cock, kielbasa, Snake of Love, peepee, weewee, hose, wonder wand or stiffy. No matter how you slice it, we're talking about the wang. Sadly, we're also talking about slicing.

A couple days ago, Beth asked me what I thought about circumcision. I told her that I was 34 years old and that decision was most definitely behind me. Then I noted the fact that I am actually circumcised (did I share too much?) and asked her to please pay more attention to the details of our relationship. Then she clarified. She was, in fact, inquiring as to my thoughts about circumcising our son. Almost immediately, I cast my vote for the snip. And then I thought about it for a minute and came to a conclusion - that shit's gotta hurt. So the jury's still out.

Later in what was becoming a rather penis-centric day, Beth and I briefly discussed the v word. See, after our as-yet-unnamed son is born, we're done. And the best way to be done is for me to start firing blanks. Lights! Camera! Vasectomy! I'm totally on-board. At least I was, until I started absorbing the reality of what is done when said surgery is performed. I know, I know - my wife went through far worse to bring Mia into this world and carrying our son can't exactly be a carnival either. A little snip pales in comparison. But still...uh...knives and, well, that area don't go together. At all. So, the jury's still out on that one...only not really.

The trifecta of this penile extravaganza? As previously reported, my daughter has discovered that I have a penis. The new wrinkle? She wants to tell the world about it. The cashier at the grocery store, waiters in restaurants, and the UPS guy. All of these people know that I have a penis. I'm sure they all could have guessed. But now they know.

Some days it's all about the penis. Wait. That didn't sound quite right.

Posted by Chris at 6:54 AM | Comments (73)

November 19, 2007

An Experiment In Terror

Around 6:00 on Saturday evening, Beth and I found ourselves horrified at the situation in which we found ourselves. Walking down her parents' driveway, we tried our best to make each other feel better about the heart-wrenching decision we'd made.

Her: I hate this.
Me: Me too.
Her: I don't want to do this anymore.
Me: I don't either.
Her: We can't go back?
Me: No, we can't go back. That would make it worse. But what the fuck were we thinking?
Her: No clue.

As you can see, we weren't exactly pillars of strength. But we kept walking. We made it to the car and drove off into the darkness. We went to dinner - a local Indian place - made small talk and occasionally threw a "this sucks" in for good measure. We tried to see a movie after dinner but there was nothing we wanted to see. Instead, we got a cup of coffee and headed home. We caught of up on a little TiVo and set the volume of the television a little higher than normal to obscure the uncharacteristic silence coming from the rest of the house.

If you haven't figured it out, what we'd done was left Mia in the capable hands of Beth's parents for the night. We have another kid on the way and, most likely, two or three days in the hospital as a result. It was time to see how Mia handled sleeping someplace else.

Lucky for everyone involved, Mia had, by Saturday night, reverted to her good-sleeping self. She spent a night getting spoiled by her grandparents and loved every single moment of it. Beth and I? Well, we made it but it was tough. Our house didn't feel like our house without all three of us in it. The absence of the baby monitor's hum nearly forced us to turn it on despite the fact that Mia wasn't in her room. The nightly pilgrimage to check on her - to make sure she's under the covers and quietly laugh at whatever position she's managed to get herself into - was replaced by a pilgrimage of my own. A trip to retrieve one of the many stuffed animals with which she sleeps and put it on my bedside stand.

We picked Mia up on Sunday morning and spent the rest of the day catching up - reading stories, singing songs, playing games and cooking dinner. It was wonderful to have her back. And then I broke one of my pinky toes. But that's neither here nor there.

So, long story short. This weekend? Great for grandparents and Mia. A little more difficult for parents and toes. This parenting thing is tough, guys. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Posted by Chris at 6:39 AM | Comments (23)

Haiku For Monday #193

Day one of a two
day week. Please let it not suck.
And I'll be thankful.

Posted by Chris at 6:33 AM | Comments (7)

November 16, 2007

The Weeklies #11

The Weekly Worst Moment. I mentioned the screaming, right? There's been lots of that. Collectively, those really account for pretty much the worst moments of the week.

The Weekly Best Moment. My wife's birthday, Mia playing with all the decorations I'd hurriedly hung at 5:30 on Wednesday morning before jetting off to work, singing happy birthday, and all the positive reinforcement and kind words from you yesterday. All-in-all, despite the screaming, not a bad week, guys. And then, last night, Mia slept. No screaming, no tantrums...just sleep.

The Weekly Reads. Upon the advice of every critic out there, I picked up a copy of Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects. The verdict? Flynn's first novel - she's a TV critic over at Entertainment Weekly - is astonishingly captivating. I think Sharp Objects is misclassified as a thriller. You'll be best served to think of it as a horror novel. Not in the traditional sense - there are no zombies, no demon children, no haunted houses. The horror is of the more plausible variety, the kind in which bad things happen and the demons being wrestled with come from within. Sharp Objects is a fantastic first offering. I can only hope Flynn delivers many more.

The Weekly Music. One of my all-time favorite songs is Pearl Jam's Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town. When I saw a cover version of it online - despite the fact that I had no idea who the artist was - I downloaded it. Totally worth it. Charlotte Martin - the artist in question - has a voice similar to Tori Amos. The cover is sparsely arranged, just Martin's exquisite voice over solo piano. Liking this (I got chills, actually), I explored the rest of Martin's material available online. The similarities between Charlotte and Tori persisted yet I found Martin's music much more compelling and complex. While her songwriting is as eccentric, there's something less forced about the songs and, quite frankly, Martin has a better voice.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. O.J. is being forced to stand trial for his "sting operation". Barry Bonds has been formally indicted for perjury. Lance Armstrong hooked up with one of those Full House twins. Not a good week for your professional athletes. Unless you like barely legal emaciated child stars and don't mind winding up with Bob Saget for a father-in-law.

The Weekly Political Observation. I was driving home from work on Wednesday evening and two bumper stickers caught my eye. The first endorsed someone from president I'd never heard of. The second said, simply, "Celebrate Assimilation". I was curious and, figuring that one complimented the other (they did), I looked up the candidate, Tom Tancredo. This, my friends, is a scary dude. He spews extreme conservatism that, while not inherently evil at face value, provides the backdrop for social and racial exclusivity. In his world, immigration is wrong, English is the only language that should be spoken and abortion should be outlawed not just because it is wrong but it prevents us (Americans) from growing in numbers sufficient to stave off the influence of the hordes encroaching on our borders. Instead of embracing our unique heritages, cultures and languages, Tancredo asks us all to assimilate. I've never before found a better argument for educating yourself about the candidates.

The Weekly Question. You've been asked by Superman, Batman, The Boy Wonder and The Wonder Twins to join the Justice League. The only condition? You have to choose your own superhero persona. So what superhero do you choose to be and what are your powers?

Posted by Chris at 7:28 AM | Comments (33)

November 15, 2007

Sleep, Interrupted

The past few nights have been bad. The idea of bed hasn't so much appealed to my lovely daughter. That in and of itself isn't outright horrible. Usually, she's content to hang out in her room, reading books or telling stories to her stuffed animals if she's not tired. The whole bed routine was going wonderfully until this week. Then it got ugly. Instead of singing or reading herself to sleep, Mia's taken up screaming. Full-on, hysterical rabid wolves are gnawing off my feet screaming. As far as we can tell, there's nothing wrong. It's all attitude. It's fun. (I say that with a full dose of sarcasm because it's about as much fun as I'd imagine being sodomized by an angry porcupine would be.)

The other day I looked at both my calendar and my wife and realized that I was going to be a father of two in less than three months. This combined with the new nighttime routine of screaming like a banshee caused me to panic a smidge.

I know what you're saying - Calm down, dude. You've done this before. You know what to expect. Look at how awesome Mia is. And realistically I know this is all at least partially true.

I have done this before. Mia is awesomely wonderful. She is, without doubt, my favorite person in the entire world. But because I've done this before, I also know what I'm getting myself into a second time around. Screaming, late nights, early mornings, sleepwalking through days, rocking my little boy to sleep and crossing my fingers that, for once, it takes and I can successfully make it out of the room before the crying starts again, being a bed and a teething ring and a diaper changer. And then there's the stuff I just don't know - how I will possibly divide my time between Mia and this new little person and how Mia will react to this whole thing. Through all of this, I also realize that I'm the one who gets off the easiest - Beth has the hardest job of all. I fully realize that I don't have it nearly as hard as my wife. Until I learn how to shove a ham through my left nostril, I have no good reason for bitching.

I guess what I'm trying to say, Internet, is that I'm a little scared, nervous, anxious and insecure all wrapped into the one giant bite that I've taken off of the buffet of life that, right now, is sitting, rock-like, in my stomach.

This is when you say shit like Calm down, dude. You've done this before...

Posted by Chris at 7:11 AM | Comments (56)

November 14, 2007

Birthday Girl

Dear Beth,

You know those really bad days? The days you and I fight or have a hard time getting the kid to bed (like last night) or are just inexplicably terrible for no good reason? Those days are perfect compared to even the best of days I'd travel through had you not been born. I love you. Always have, always will.


Posted by Chris at 6:53 AM | Comments (41)

November 13, 2007

Chucks (Or, How The Internet Made Me Hip)

A couple of weeks ago, Sarah kindly gave Mia some of the clothes her daughter Claudia had grown out of. Included was a pair of pink Chucks. You know, old-school Converse sneakers. Sarah and the Goon Squad are so hip it hurts (ouch). Oddly enough, I'm just a few weeks shy of 35 years old and I came to the abrupt realization that I'd never owned a pair of Chucks. I was trading email with Emily who'd just posted a picture of her own Chucks and she was horror-stricken (okay, maybe not "horror-stricken" but she sure was surprised). So I bought some and fixed the problem. To be cool like my daughter. And the internet.

Of course this brings up a question for you guys. See, when I was in junior high school, Guess jeans were the coolest thing ever. If you didn't have a pair, with the triangular patch on the back right pocket, you just weren't cool. Now, my mom never saw any reason to buy me actual Guess jeans, something about the fact that they cost a billion dollars a pair. Instead she bought less expensive knock-offs. Ashamed, I learned that I could cut the wannabe patch off the pocket and the unfaded triangle on the back would make them look just like a pair of Guess jeans. I just told people the label fell off. Clearly, this somehow traumatized me since I'm 34 years old and still thinking about this. But it was one way in which I was never cool. Another, more current example is the fact that I think I've seen about five episodes of The Simpsons in their entirety. It's funny, yes, I just never watch it.

And this brings me to the question: How are you uncool? What fad have you missed? What pop culture phenomenon do you just not get?

Posted by Chris at 6:21 AM | Comments (75)

November 12, 2007


There are several go-to games Mia has - dollhouse, trains, and dance party are three of the most popular. I'll be standing in the kitchen, feel a tug on my jeans and look down to find her saying play trains. And instead of waiting, she'll grab my hand and lead me to the playroom. This scenario played itself out yesterday. We played dollhouse, a game which involves me sitting on one side of the dollhouse, her on the other, walking her Little People through the front door. While playing, I noticed something.

The dollhouse is, like damn near everything else, made in China. So far, it hasn't been recalled but that could change. The dollhouse is adorned with stuff - a telephone, television, toilet, bathtub, a master bedroom, a kid's room with crib and mobile, and a laundry room with washing machine and dryer. Somewhere, in a land halfway around the globe, this thing that is so representative of what Americans have or want was shaped out of plastic. Someone in that far off land assembled it or made sure it was put together correctly or shoved it in a box. Someone, most likely, who will never have a home like that, whose kids will never even own a toy like that.

We all take for granted what we have. I'm not saying we shouldn't. I mean, we really shouldn't but we probably always will. What we can't ever afford to take for granted are the people who gave up their lives - months or years of lives in their entirety - to allow us to have the lives we lead.

Today is Veteran's Day. There are some things you should consider doing. First, thank a Veteran. Call a father or grandfather who fought for our country. Or one who currently does. These are the people who allow us to continue to live the American dream or whatever currently passes for it. Second, write your congressman or senator, pick up a sign and protest, or find a worthy candidate to contribute to and send the message that the war playing out a half a world away is wrong. I don't care if you're a republican, democrat, libertarian or communist - it's plain to see that the current approach isn't working. The best way our government can honor our men and women in the armed forces is to take them out of harm's way.

Posted by Chris at 9:38 AM | Comments (17)

Haiku For Monday #192

Bitch about Monday?
Why? I'm taking the day off.
It's about damn time.

Posted by Chris at 9:35 AM | Comments (5)

November 9, 2007

The Weeklies #10

The Weekly Worst Moment. Right now. It's Friday, I've got a big cup of coffee and a short day ahead.

The Weekly Best Moment. What, you thought that I was joking about the urinal cakes? Damn good part of the week right there.

The Weekly Reads. This week, I tackled The Winter of Frankie Machine by Don Winslow. It was insanely great. Why? Not only did Winslow manage to develop a sympathetic mob hit man, but he peppered his story with wonderfully realized backstories that made Frankie Machine's plight that much more gripping. By the time I'd plowed through the 300 pages, Winslow's world seemed real, it's history complex, and it's characters fantastically developed. Highly recommended.

The Weekly Music. None of the new, freshly downloaded stuff on my iPod was doing much for me this week. I found myself, instead, shuffling to four of my go-to albums. Here they are:

  • Ten Silver Drops by Secret Machines. If you took a cup of Zeppelin, a cup of Pink Floyd and a dash of Flaming Lips and shoved it all in a blender, you might end up with Secret Machines. This, their latest release, is perhaps more mellow than previous efforts, but it's brilliant. Each time I hit play I love the album more.
  • Eyes Open by Snow Patrol. I initially didn't like this nearly as much as their previous albums. I was wrong.
  • The Last Broadcast by Doves. Doves are a band that can do absolutely no wrong. This, their second album, is by far the best of the three they've released to date. The Last Broadcast has been tragically overlooked. One of the single best albums to come out of the UK this decade. Check it out.
  • How We Operate by Gomez. I've followed them for years but this is their single best effort to date.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. What isn't all about the schadenfreude this week? Britney missed more than half of her scheduled drug tests, Dog The Bounty Hunter discovered that, contrary to his own opinion, he wasn't black, Mickey Rourke went on a drunken scooter ride, and O.J. finally ended up in court. Combined with the fact that we're not getting a heck of a lot of new TV due to the writers' strike, it was an interesting week.

The Weekly Question. If you were elected President of the United States this very moment, what's the first thing you'd do?

Posted by Chris at 6:23 AM | Comments (37)

November 8, 2007

The Little Things

This week has been much better than last. For one, I haven't worked my ass off. I checked. It's started to grow back. This week I've been much more optimistic about my prospects for good days. Granted, it's been darker and colder and tougher to get out of bed but once I'm dressed and out of the house, I'm good to go. A good cup of coffee might start the day right, maybe a nice email from one of you when I boot up in the morning. But sometimes, it just takes a little more. I need a sign.

Look! New urinal cakes at the office!


It's going to be a good day!

Oh, and speaking of pee, I have a serious question. Peeing in the shower - ew, that's seriously wrong or what's the big deal?

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (60)

November 7, 2007

Once Upon A Time...

Mere moments ago, while putting Mia to bed...

Me: Why don't you tell me a story.
Mia: Okay. Once upon time, old woman walking through the forest. The end.
Me: That's great. Tell me another one?
Mia: Okay. Once upon time, old woman, little boy and daddy walking though forest. Now you're in bed with me. The end.
Me: Another good one.
Mia: Thank you.
Me: How about another?
Mia: Just one more.
Me: Okay.
Mia: Once upon time, old woman walking through forest. I love you daddy. The end.
Me: Perfect.
Mia: Perfect! No more stories. The end.

Posted by Chris at 8:46 PM | Comments (18)


Have you ever played that game where you take a word and repeat it over and over in your head? As it makes its way through the twists and turns in your brain, the word - whatever word it is - starts to fly apart, to become something else, to sound strange.

Last night I was sitting at the dinner table eating, gazing at my beautiful little girl. After a few minutes of staring, I was struck with a revelation - this is my little girl. This beautiful little person sitting there munching on pasta covered with an insane amount of parmesan cheese, this little girl who had just, mere minutes before ran around the house screaming at the top of her lungs that I had a penis, this little girl who found Beth's old Babar and Celeste dolls which she now calls Du-bar and Castanets, this little girl who is no longer little, who has opinions and thoughts and dreams of her own...this little girl is my daughter. Holy shit, how did this happen? And how did I get so damn lucky?

I know this shouldn't be a revelation. I'm a relatively observant guy. I didn't just discover I had a kid. I helped create her and she's been a massive part of my life for almost two and a half years. But life's kinda like words. Taken as a whole it can feel overwhelming but often quite ordinary. Let it make its way through the twists and turns of your brain, let it fly apart into the sum of its parts and some things start to seem pretty incredible.

What kind of revelations have you had?

Posted by Chris at 7:01 AM | Comments (32)

November 6, 2007

Retail Therapy

It's time for me, finally, to come clean with you guys. For years, I've been battling some personal demons. It's not a constant fight; it's one that comes and goes depending on the situation. It's something I'm not sure people understand or even know is out there. This weekend, however, my condition reared its ugly head again. It's time to speak up. For years, I've dealt with URAD - Upscale Retail Anxiety Disorder.

Upscale Retail Anxiety Disorder (URAD) is characterized by a persistent, excessive and unrealistic worry about the patronage of high-end shopping establishments. URAD symptoms include general anxiety, mild to moderate perspiration, shortness of breath, unrelenting worry during visits to retail stores, and acute panic attacks. Such symptoms must exist in excess of six months for this disorder to be cause for concern. Erections lasting longer than four hours require urgent medical care. According to the National Institute of Shopping Health (NISH), approximately one out of every thirty Americans is stricken with URAD at some point in their lives. Usually around the holiday season.

Earlier this year, I received an incredible French-cuffed shirt as a gift. It puts all the other shirts I own to shame. It's the Cadillac, the Michael Jordan, the Ernest Hemingway of shirts. I get compliments on it wherever I go. Last week while wearing it, I remarked to myself that I should really visit the store that sold these fabulous shirts and buy myself some more. So, this weekend, I went.

I knew my URAD was going to be a factor the second I set foot in the store. The central aisle of the store was lined with employees, all there, apparently, to say hello to me and inquire as to my day. And there, at the end of that aisle leading to the very center of the store sat a gentleman dressed to the nines playing a giant black grand piano. Slightly self-consciously - dressed in jeans, a baseball hat, t-shirt, leather jacket and Doc Martens - I made my way to the men's section. Where I was greeted by yet another contingent of abnormally friendly people who also, oddly, inquired about my day. I began browsing. Within five minutes I'd been asked by not one or two but five store employees if I needed help. I said no. I said I was just looking. Within five minutes, the five employees had each checked in again.

I did eventually find the shirts I was looking for. They cost $250 each. I was horrified on two levels. First, no human should actually own a $250 shirt when there are poor, starving business men wearing $30 shirts to work. Second, I actually own a $250 shirt. And I've worn it, all willy-nilly without special countermeasures like a protective bubble. I realized there that I'm not a guy who can buy $250 shirts. So I spent $150 on two shirts. Which is only slightly better.

I've always had URAD. Don't get me wrong, I like nice stuff. And I appreciate that people are there to help me but honestly, I pretty much like being left alone. I don't need a pianist or overly attentive service personnel when I'm looking for clothes. I can read numbers so I can find my size. If it's not there, I'll go somewhere else. Most importantly, I honestly don't want to pay $250 for a shirt because what I'm really paying for is a $100 shirt, an over-eager staff, a baby grand piano and some dude to play it who goes home at night and curses his bad luck that despite his original plan to play in a fledgling jazz band destined for greatness he's stuck playing for jackasses like me in a department store.

Posted by Chris at 6:23 AM | Comments (36)

November 5, 2007

The Weekend (And Some Stats)

Being Monday, it's time for two things:

1. Mourning the passing of the weekend;
2. Getting my ass to work; and
3. Recapping the weekend.

Yes, I know I said two things but it's early and I don't do math in the mornings no matter how simple.

Anyway, bitching about how fast the weekend flew would be really boring to read unless I came up with brand new combinations of curse words. I'm not that creative right now. So I'll skip that. And really, unless I was abducted by aliens or picked up a hitchhiking Liza Minelli on the way to work, a long rambling narrative about getting to work would be boring as well. I'll skip that too. That leaves me with one remaining option - recapping the weekend.

Friday night, my old high school (the one I now live close to) played it's last home game of the season. One last time to catch a football game and witness the stunning half-time show. (I say that with a truckload of sarcasm because honestly, the band kinda blows. Their regrettable lack of talent isn't helped by the fact that their entire half-time show is cobbled together from pieces by Shostakovich. They really shouldn't be playing anything more complex than Kool & The Gang covers.) And Mia does love the marching band. So we blew off bedtime, caught a little football and reveled in the shostakovichy goodness.

Saturday morning found us at the mall. (God damn, we're thrilling people.) I went on the hunt for new slacks (I'm sorry but when I use the word slacks I feel about 85 years old) and wound up buying a few new shirts instead. Mia enjoyed the mall as well and Beth exchanged some pants. (You're absolutely, edge-of-your seat fascinated at this point, aren't you?). I spent the afternoon mowing, edging and cleaning up the yard in anticipation of winter. Then? Takeout for dinner.

Sunday was equally as thrilling. I finally got up off my ass and replaced light fixtures. Goodbye 80's brass light fixtures, hello modern goodness. Then Mia woke up cranky from a nap, my parents dropped by and we had a nice dinner of homemade minestrone soup.

(You so want to hang out with us now don't you?)

The Weekend Numbers: In case you're playing at home, here are the stats for the weekend:
- Fixtures changed: 6
- Diapers changed: 867 (an approximation, don't ask)
- Takeout dinners: 2
- Episodes of Little Einsteins watched: 4
- Marching bands watched: 1
- Good marching bands watched: 0
- Hours of work done: 0
- Acres of yard mowed: 29.4 (but really 0.5)
- Pounds of Halloween candy consumed: 37

What are your weekend stats like?

Posted by Chris at 6:22 AM | Comments (25)

Haiku For Monday #191

Do you realize
that I've done one hundred and
ninety-one of these?

Posted by Chris at 6:21 AM | Comments (6)

November 2, 2007

The Weeklies #9

Am tired. Overworked. And somewhat comatose this morning. Need coffee. And weeklies...

The Weekly Worst Moment. Wednesday, when I realized I'd already worked a 40-hour week. It just got worse.

The Weekly Best Moment. On one of the nights I put Mia to bed, she rolled over, put her arms around me and said, "I love you my darling daddy." That rocked.

The Weekly Conversation.
Beth: Do you want to take a bath?
Mia: NO!
Beth: Do you want to take a shower with mommy?
Mia: NO!
Beth: Do you want me to just stand here and spit on you for a while?
(She didn't, of course.)

The Weekly Reads. Two books this week - Graham Swift's The Light of Day and Nick Hornby's Slam. I've always liked Swift. His book Last Orders is one of my favorites. This one? Well, it was decent. It was a mystery that slowly unfolded to reveal its secrets. Swift's writing was fantastic, as always. Hornby's latest is an odd thing. It was written primarily for young adults. But I love Hornby so I couldn't resist. It read like an old after-school special. A really well-written and funny after-school special, though. We all know the dangers of teenage pregnancy and don't need a very funny writer to explain it to us again. But, then again, maybe a 15 year old somewhere does. Would I recommend reading it? It's Hornby - you bet.

The Weekly Music. Radiohead has always been a few steps ahead. They released their latest - In Rainbows via the Internet. Not totally cutting edge. But how they priced it surprised people - they allowed consumers to name their own price. It was a cool move. I ponied up somewhere around $10 after the total was converted from Euros to dollars. Now, I haven't really been a fan of Radiohead's output since OK Computer so I was expecting to be let down. I wasn't. In Rainbows is excellent. It's a mellow album but so much more focused than anything they've done in the last decade. It is, lush. Also lush - not to mention terribly overlooked - is the band Wheat. Their most recent album, Everyday I Said A Prayer for Kathy and Made A One Inch Square, is odd, meandering, lush shoegazing pop at its insanely, very good best. I've owned the album for a while and always loved it. But I suddenly realized just how genius it is.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Last week illusionist David Copperfield made his career disappear. This week, Dog The Bounty Hunter's career skipped town.

The Weekly Question. If, indeed, a woodchuck could chuck wood, how much wood would said woodchuck chuck, do you think? And, honestly, why would he chuck all that wood to begin with?

Posted by Chris at 7:10 AM | Comments (28)

November 1, 2007

Halloween Part XXIV: The Aftermath

I am on The Record* as being staunchly anti-clown. Nothing is more disturbing to me than a grown man wearing clown makeup sporting a giant, squishy bulbous red nose. Except, quite possibly, spiders. Especially spiders wearing clown make up with giant, squishy bulbous red noses. I make one single solitary exception to this rule:

Because how can you not love that?

Halloween has come and gone and Mia has officially concluded her first ever round of trick-or-treating. She was tentative at first and I was concerned that she was going to psych herself out but after she'd conquered the first two houses, there was no stopping her. She was like a kid at, well, a candy store. Eventually, I let Mia and Beth soldier on into the night gathering candy from unsuspecting neighbors not previously warned of Mia's cuteness (and Beth's for that matter) while I returned home to hand out candy. We had witches, wizards, pirates, Princesses-Of-The-Year (whichever model Disney is currently pushing), Jedi Knights, a tree (which had me stumped - ha - for a second) and one rather tall, awkward looking teenage boy wearing normal street clothes and a long flowing wig. The concept was unclear but I gave him extra candy. That took balls.

We did somehow manage to get Mia off to bed after she'd consumed her bodyweight in candy. And now it's time for Thanksgiving.

* For The Record, The Record is, officially, this blog. Other blogs, pieces of paper, lists, shiny black or silver discs containing music, might claim to be The Record but be warned - they are not. The Record is a copyright of Rude Cactus Enterprises Limited, a division of Cactus-Fish Partners. Patent pending. So don't steal. That means you. Yeah, you.

Posted by Chris at 6:25 AM | Comments (55)