May 30, 2008

The Weeklies #38

The Weekly Favorite Word. Shart. You can figure out what words that's composed of.

The Weekly Reads. I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley is one of my favorite kinds of books - a collection of very funny, real world essays based on nothing more than being a human in a strange world. I guess that's why I like blogging. Crosley is right up there with David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell - pretty good company. In his blurb on the front cover, author Jonathan Lethem summed up Crosley brilliantly when he said she was "telling the truth helplessly." This one gets a definite thumbs up.

The Weekly Music. James McMurtry (son of author Larry) is pissed and he's written an album telling you why. McMurtry's Just Us Kids is musically wonderful and lyrically scathing. McMurtry's mainly upset about the country's political landscape. It's rootsy, it's heartfelt and it's passionate. Give it a spin.

The Weekly Sign We Might Be Reading To Mia Too Much. Mia now narrates everything as if she was part of an elaborate story. For instance, she'll see a bee and say Ahhh, there's a bee, Mia shouted.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Oh no she dint. Hillary actually implied that she could still win the Democratic nomination because strange things happen late in the primary season. Unfortunately, the strange thing she cited was RFK's 1968 assassination. Oops.

The Weekly Death. Harvey Korman, one of the funniest most underrated people ever.

The Weekly Quote. I was talking with a coworker about punching up the language in a memo we were writing. She very wonderfully said, "Don't worry. I'll Bedazzle it."

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. The world is going to end in 37 years. You and you alone know this and it is an absolute certainty. Do you tell anyone? Why or why not?

Posted by Chris at 6:37 AM | Comments (29)

May 29, 2008

Money (Or, Things I Don't Understand Part 3,396)

There's a long list of things in this world that make me feel as though I am not yet an adult. For instance:

  • I can't do long division to save my life;
  • I'm hopelessly addicted to old-school Hanna Barbara cartoons;
  • The smell of Play-Doh is pretty much the best smell ever;
  • Despite protests to the contrary, I love hair metal;
  • I want to be a rock star;
  • I haven't figured out what I want to do when I grow up;
  • I laugh at even vaguely dirty jokes like a 12 year old; and
  • I think farts are funny.

And while these are all minor representations of my inner child being not so, well, inner, there's one more prominent issue I'm not proud of. I don't understand money.

My paystub
My paystub speaks a language I don't at all understand. Apparently FICA means Federal Insurance Contributions Act but it might as well mean Fucked In Countless Areas for all I know. Federal insurance? Why exactly am I contributing to that? And withholding is a concept that is completely foreign to me. I always thought when you withheld money from the government they busted your ass and called it tax evasion. Then of course there's imputed income and something called a GTL offset deduction. Is that what Greek sounds like? Order me some baklava while you're at it.

My house
I have perfected the art of the knowing nod. I employ it whenever we buy something big like a car or a house. Purchases like these invariably come with a list of indecipherable terminology. I understand down payments and even things important enough to have their very own acronyms like APRs. But start using words like equity or escrow and you'll see that knowing nod with absolutely no understanding behind it. Honestly, my job is to make money and sign pieces of paper. Thank god Beth understands this shit.

Wall Street
I understand two things about Wall Street. 1) Every Columbus Day there's a giant cultural festival-like thing, Wall Street itself is closed to traffic and you can get really good food. 2) The only think I know about Wall Street has nothing to do with what Wall Street actually does. Honestly the only bulls and bears I know anything about have more to do with Chicago than New York. In my world, a call option is when you actually have time to stop yourself from drunk dialing. A margin is something you write in. And a hedge fund is a cookie jar into which you drop spare change so one day you can get new bushes for your yard.

Am I alone? Am I the only one who is rendered helpless by the concepts that accompany money or monetary transactions? Please tell me I'm not. What's your kryptonite?

Posted by Chris at 7:19 AM | Comments (48)

May 28, 2008

Have My People Call Your People

I have a question. A very serious question the answer to which I very much need. How do you have sex?

[Okay, upon rereading this, I realize it doesn't quite capture what I'm trying to get at. I mean, how do you have sex? Shit. No. That's not quite right. I don't really want to know how you have sex. That's another post entirely. And I know how to have sex myself. Wait. Not with myself. Well, that too but with a woman. Oops, not just any woman - my wife. I mean, I think I'm quite accomplished at having sex with my wife, at least to the extent that I have two kids which is kinda like proof, right? And that is, after all, the problem I'm trying - and failing - to articulate to you here. Let me try again...]

How do those of you who are parents - or those that aren't that are just really busy or have very needy housepets - find the time to have sex?

I mean, check out the normal weekend schedule. I'm not even going to get into what a weekday looks like but for me it generally starts at oh-dark-thirty and ends with me crawling under the covers into a fetal position muttering something about making the work monsters go away. At least we have a fighting chance to knock boots (not that we wear boots...usually) between attempted naps or visits to grandma's or late in the evening when everyone's finally surrendered to sleep, sweet sleep. Or we've just said fuck it and put the kids in front of the Polka Palace episode of the Backyardigans (yip yip yip yip!) and snuck into the bathroom for a quickie. (We haven't done that. Seriously. Though the Polka Palace episode would be a good one.) And when the situation does actually present itself - when the heavens open and the god of sex (John Holmes) smiles down upon us - I find that I'm smelly and covered in spit-up. Or I haven't shaved in a week. And that's not hot.

Now, I fully realize that Beth asked something similar (but not quite the same) a while back but I'm inherently lazy and want to hear what you think. When do you find time to, you know, do it?

Posted by Chris at 7:18 AM | Comments (48)

May 27, 2008

Question: Where Did The Long Weekend Go?

Answer: Into the seemingly bottomless void into which weekends - not to mention time in general - seem to disappear with startling frequency.


Saturday. On Saturday, we did a little impromptu photo shoot with the kids. It was hilarious and moderately frustrating. Whenever Owen smiled, Mia got him in a choke-hold which erased said smile. Or, Mia would smile and Owen would make a face that made him look like a drunk and very small version of Ed Asner. But we got a few good shots which made great Mother's Day gifts for our moms and, before you point out that Mother's Day was ages ago, we're very well aware of that but were sidetracked in the delivery of said gifts. Before that, I mowed. After that, we went to a pre-Memorial Day cookout. Fun was had by all, especially Mia who got to terrorize not only her brother but her year-old cousin.

Sunday. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Yeah. We went to the zoo. It was a perfect day for it - sunny, warm and insanely gorgeous. Pity the entire nation decided to visit the National Zoo at the same time. I mean, seriously people, there are other places to see animals, like your television. This is where I came up with the idea for a new stroller, the Rude Cactus 3000. It's just like a regular stroller except for the electric cattle prod welded to the front. Someone stops right in front of you for no apparent reason? They're getting a bazillion watts of power in the wazoo. Aside from the infestation of asshats, the zoo was fun. Mia loved it, especially the beaver. This triggered a long series of beaver jokes only my inner 12-year old laughed about. Then we went home. And all of us collapsed.

Monday. Donuts! And a picnic! On Sunday night I promised Mia we'd get donuts. As soon as she woke up, we headed out to the 'donut store' in our PJs (god bless drive through Dunkin Donuts) and picked some up. I swear, when I got the donuts home and pulled them out of the box, Mia said "mmmmm donuts" worthy of the great one himself (Homer Simpson, which was funny since she's never seen an episode). A while later, the four of us packed up some food and headed to a little park in our neighborhood where we had a picnic. It was rad. (Yes, I said rad. You have a problem with that?). Then the kids napped while Beth and I loaded up the sherpa in order to head to my parents' place for another cookout.


So, what did you do?

Posted by Chris at 6:32 AM | Comments (34)

May 26, 2008

Haiku For Monday #219

As Madonna sang
"We need a holiday." Word.
Back tomorrow, folks.*

* Today's Memorial Day here in the good old U.S. of A. I'll be doing what every good American does - cook out, drink beer, and probably catch too much sun. Enjoy and spend some time doing what should be done today - remember those who served and put their lives on the line for this country. I'll see you guys tomorrow.

Posted by Chris at 8:13 AM | Comments (4)

May 23, 2008

The Weeklies #37

The Weekly Best Idea. The aforementioned consumption of beer.

The Weekly Reads. Ever since Stephen King wholeheartedly recommended The Ruins and it turned out to be one of the most atrocious books I've ever read, I've lost a lot of faith in Mr. King. So the fact that King ranked The Memory of Running right up there with Catcher in the Rye didn't impress me. Instead, the fact that a couple of you recommended it sold me. I'll admit, it was a damn fine book. So much so that I'd encourage you all to go out, find a copy and read about the adventures of Smithy Ide. I really don't think you'll be sorry you did.

The Weekly Music. The Weepies' Hideaway is just a nice album. It won't blow your mind or bring about world peace but it's pretty darn nice. Plus there's something about Deb Talan's voice that makes me smile.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. So, uh, Texas. Now that the seizure of those 440 Mormon kids was thrown out because of a lack of evidence, I bet you feel a little silly now. If they weren't already screwed up, I bet this helped. Uh...oops.

The Weekly WTF. Snap-on teeth. The website looks marginally professional. The television ad Beth and I saw did not. I expected Billy Mays to double the offer to two sets of chompers and throw in a tub of OxyClean.

The Weekly Quote. I guess you bump into people, and it's all about how they bounce off you. - The Memory Of Running

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. You are granted immunity from prosecution from the violation of one law for the rest of your life. What law do you decide to break and why?

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

May 22, 2008

Unclenched

I don't drink. I was never much of a drinker to begin with but I pretty much quit in college. I know - strange timing, right? I blame paranoia and anti-depressants. I was concerned with how booze and pills would interact given their dicey reputation. Just ask Judy Garland. (Could I have come up with a gayer reference? I think not.)

Last weekend, we took advantage of the glorious weather and ate outside on our deck. I was borderline shocked to find myself cracking open an icy cold Corona. Even more surprised that I enjoyed it. I was also reasonably surprised by the fact that I didn't get all drunk off the one beer, take my clothes off and do the can-can on the picnic table. I'm sure the neighbors would have been very impressed. But I digress.

Why did I do this? My doctor, when she broke the news about the shingles and I said something to the effect of you're shitting me, told me to. Something about the condition being greatly exacerbated by stress.

Me: So you're telling me I should relax.
Doctor: Yeah.
Me: With two kids and a demanding job.
Doctor: I didn't say it would be easy. Just relax more often. Have a beer.
Me: I don't drink.
Doctor: Start.

I'll admit that I've always had a slightly paranoid concern in the back of my mind about falling into alcoholism like quicksand. It runs in my family. But I think that's just an excuse. Honestly, I think a part of me is afraid to lose control. That's me - Rude Cactus, control freak.

Conclusion #1. Beer is good. This is not a shock - I've always liked beer. Growing up, my dad always let me have beer. He wasn't buying me a keg when I was in kindergarten or anything and I do remember the threat of grounding me for life when he discovered I'd gone through a stash of beer before my high school orientation (how wrong is that?), but I was always welcome to a sip here and a small glass there. My grandfather, good German that he was, was convinced I had to learn to drink early. I can't tell you how many times I finished a meal at their house tipsy. Really. I honestly don't remember. I was blitzed.

Conclusion #2. Sometimes I'm a real tight-ass and I just need to loosen up. Consider me looser. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

What are your vices and what do you most need to loosen up about?

Posted by Chris at 7:13 AM | Comments (58)

May 21, 2008

We Are John Cusak

The night before last, I was over at Stacy's place and she asked an interesting question - who'd play you in the movie of your life? Damn fine question, dontcha think? So, completely ignoring the fact that countless people have told me I'm the spitting image of Duckie - the Pretty In Pink era Jon Cryer - I went with John Cusak. Stop laughing. Really, stop. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Because we're all John Cusak. Let me explain.

We all start out as bit players in life, like Cusak's Angry Messenger in Broadcast News. If we're good at what we do, we get bigger parts and opportunities. Some of those moments become cult favorites, laughed about during holidays and admired by associates at work. Think of Craig Schwartz and his bizarre quests in Being John Malkovich. Think of High Fidelity's Rob Gordon and his rules governing the construction of mix tapes. Think of Lloyd Dobler and his aversion to all things bought, sold and, especially, processed in Say Anything. If we're lucky, we're eventually given our shot at the big time, our names in lights with sexy co-stars, whispers of Oscar, or at least the promise of box-office gold. But, for most of us, unless you win American Idol or the lottery, these opportunities don't pan out the way we'd hoped. Like Serendipity or Runaway Jury. At some point - and not because you don't have motivation or the desire to succeed - you accept your lot in life, decide to be good at what you do, and go after good parts with great scripts. These are often overlooked but really constitute your best work - Grosse Pointe Blank, Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil, Identity and The Ice Harvest.

Like John Cusak, all we can really hope for is a strong body of work at the end of the day. Maybe we never found the obvious fame we were seeking but what we end up with is better and something we can be prouder of than box office glory. And, hopefully, we all have our one shining moment, boom-boxes hoisted over our heads. If we're lucky, we all get our Diane Court in the end too.

Posted by Chris at 7:10 AM | Comments (31)

May 20, 2008

Connected

Over the weekend I got a new phone. A Blackjack II to be precise. I managed to stumble on a sale on Amazon and picked the bad boy up for a single solitary penny. Yeah, I said a penny. It arrived and I unboxed its technological goodness and since then I've wandered the greater Washington DC area basking in the glory that is high speed 3G connectivity and a full QWERTY keyboard. Overkill? Yes. But let me repeat - I got it for a penny.

With this wonder of modern technology, I get all my calls, text messages, comments and email from you guys, and work email all delivered to the palm of my hand. And that got me thinking - how connected are we and what's that really gotten us? I took a quick inventory.

In my house on any given day you will find an iPod Touch with handy WiFi connection, my newly acquired and previously discussed Blackjack, Bluetooth headset, a laptop kindly provided by my employer, a personal laptop, Beth's laptop, a desktop, two external hard drives, and a WiFi network linking all these wonderful things together

Now, when I was a kid, I was astounded when my dad brought home our Apple II+. I spent hours playing Infocomm text games and trying to get some fucking turtle to move around a green-tinted screen by inputting numbers (seriously lame). From what I can recall, the computer itself had no internal memory; all the data was stored on disks about the size of a Mini Cooper. In high school, there was a pretty significant threat to my family and I was forced to carry around a cell phone. It was about the size of your average brick. When I was in college, I finally scored a PC with an internet connection. AOL rocked in what now seems like a very lame way and it took a hell of a long time to download good porn.

Now, I can tap into the internet and stay connected about a billion different ways from things that can fit in my back pocket. I can stream my 200GB collection of music anywhere in my house (or even work) and download virtually any song with the touch of a button. Not only that but I have a blog, several email addresses, a Flickr account to show off my photos and my kids, a place on Facebook to hang my virtual hat, and a Twitter account to bitch with. My Apple II+ using self - or even my college self - would never believe the technology we have today.

The technology we've got makes a big world smaller and helps us connect with people we'd never have been otherwise able to meet (like you!). But it also ensnares us with the promise of instant accessibility. It is, in short, harder to disconnect, to take a break, to drop out. But, technology, I can't quit you.

I ask you - is it a blessing or a curse? And how are you connected?

Posted by Chris at 6:29 AM | Comments (62)

May 19, 2008

Ladybug Ladybug Fly Away Home

I'm not gonna lie - I'm bitter that it's Monday. This in spite of the fact that I took Thursday and Friday off. That should make me well-rested and ready to take on the world, right? Yeah, sure. Yet, here I am at oh-dark-thirty getting ready to head to work. And I'm exhausted. Why?


Thursday. Since the day we went the first time, Mia has wanted to return to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. This was bolstered by the fact that we discovered and subsequently told Mia about a new butterfly exhibit. Where you are in a room with butterflies. Flying all around you. So as soon as we were all awake and dressed, we headed to Monkeytown and checked it out. Mia loved everything, especially the dinosaurs and butterflies. She was especially pleased with the fact that a butterfly landed on me. Owen, well, Owen was just along for the ride. Then we came home and said hello to all the caterpillars. And fed them.

Friday. Mia and I went to her music class - really just a room of singing dancing kids, what could be better? Then we hit "the french fry store" (McDonalds) for sustenance and crapped out the rest of the day. Oh, we talked with the caterpillars too, of course.

Saturday. On Saturday, we hit the local nursery and bought flowers. Then we brought them home and planted them. A couple pots of impatiens, a new bed of tomatoes, watermelons and strawberries, and several new additions to the pond later, we were covered in dirt. So, right there, it was a good day. Add some caterpillars and you have a successful day.


Sunday. Beth's parents volunteered to come hang with Mia and Owen while Beth and I took some time to ourselves. We hit a local book store (for ourselves), a craft place (for Mia), Target (ourselves, again), and Babies R Us (the kids) and called it an afternoon. Then? Chinese takeout. After getting two very tired kids to bed, we got ourselves to bed.

And now you're caught up. So, I've been out of the loop a little. What did I miss?

Posted by Chris at 6:29 AM | Comments (24)

Haiku For Monday #218

I have a feeling
this will be a long week. Gah!
Too early for beer?

Posted by Chris at 6:28 AM | Comments (2)

May 16, 2008

The Weeklies #36

The Weekly Best Idea. Taking yesterday and today off. Take that, The Man.

The Weekly Shingles Update. Breaking news - I still have shingles. The random skin thing is gone and now I'm left with the pain. It's been fun. On Tuesday I was pretty much convinced that several of my fingers were being chewed off by invisible, rabid, and angry mice.

The Weekly Reads. How Evan Broke His Head And Other Secrets is pretty much the best Nick Hornby novel Nick Hornby never wrote. It was written instead by Garth Stein and trades England for Seattle, Washington. It is the funny, heartfelt and brilliantly-told story of Evan - one-time guitarist for a one-hit-grunge wonder and his realization that he's a father. If you like Hornby, this is worth a read. Even if you don't...

The Weekly Music. You know how I sometimes lay stuff on you you've never heard of then some of you chime in later and tell me how awesome a suggestion whatever it was I recommended turned out to be? That's because I don't steer you wrong. Continuing the trend, I wholeheartedly recommend The Midnight Organ Flight by Frightened Rabbit. I know what you're thinking - who? These guys are Scotland's answer to Snow Patrol and I might go out on a limb here and say that they're as good if not better. This is a fantastic album and I honestly expect this band to blow up in the near future. Remember, you heard it here first.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. This actually has nothing to do with Schadenfreude. This is actually a feel good.

...from CNN...
Joe Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that if the president disagrees so strongly with the idea of talking to Iran, then he needs to fire his secretaries of state and defense, both of whom Biden said have pushed to sit down with the Iranians. "This is bulls**t. This is malarkey. This is outrageous. Outrageous for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, sit in the Knesset ... and make this kind of ridiculous statement," he said. "He's the guy who's weakened us. He's the guy that's increased the number of terrorists in the world. His policies have produced this vulnerability the United States has."

So, yeah, Biden was too politically incorrect to ever score a place in the White House but this proves that we need people like Biden in public service.

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. Truth or dare? You know, in general, what kind of person are you? Truth? Or dare?

Posted by Chris at 8:20 AM | Comments (34)

May 15, 2008

Randomosity

I'm taking today and tomorrow off from work to catch up on some much needed rest and playing. So I leave you with the least thought-out post in the history of my 2520 entries. In fact, it's just all kinds of random.


  • There's someone out mowing right now. Not ordinarily an issue except it's 7:50. In the morning.

  • The best worst show on television has been canceled. Word came down that October Road is done. Dammit.

  • And speaking of television, the last CSI episode written by the Two and a Half Men writers was perhaps the worst thing I've ever seen on TV.

  • Okay, still on TV, I think I have an unhealthy obsession with both house hunting and house flipping shows.

  • Did you know there are porn sites for the deaf? I'm not talking about closed captioned porn. Who need porn's terribly written and largely irrelevant dialog subtitled? I'm talking about actual deaf people doing it while talking dirty using sign language. Look, I don't begrudge deaf people their porn but that's just silly.

  • President Bush actually stated that he was showing his solidarity with the soldiers in Iraq - and those who have died in that conflict - by giving up golf. Seriously. To quote, "I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as -- to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal." Don't you think maybe leading the country and telling the truth would be a better way to honor the dead and those serving their country abroad? I've always thought he was stupid. Now I just think he's insane.

  • I'm 35 and a dad of two. I take a certain pride in the fact that I played my daughter an acoustic version of Iron Maiden's The Trooper last night.

  • I was surfing CNN's site yesterday when I noted a funny little icon next to a few of the stories. So I clicked through and found what is perhaps the silliest most useless thing on the internet - headline slogan shirts. Look -

    Can you tell me exactly why anyone would want to own such a thing?

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

May 14, 2008

Prom Season

Most of the memories of high school have fallen out of my head. I had fun, I just don't remember much about it. Maybe I had too much fun. It was also sixteen years ago (holy shit!). But not too long ago I had to enter my old high school to vote in the Virginia primaries. The hallways were smaller than I remember and there seemed to be classrooms where I'm sure none existed before. It made me feel kind of old. Yet, despite the passage of those sixteen years, I recall several high school institutions fondly - Friday night football games, basketball games in the winter, skipping the lunch period to hit Taco Bell (something I did every day - really - for an entire school year and busted only once), homecoming and, of course, prom.

Without even glancing at a calendar, you can tell when it's prom season. Swarms of limos can be seen on the road, teens in fancy dresses and tuxedos are in bloom, and surprisingly young people trying to look very suave and sophisticated show up in restaurants.

When I was in high school, I actually went to three proms. During my sophomore year, I DJed my prom. Correction. I stood behind a table holding a couple tape decks smoking cigarettes cringing at the really bad Richard Marx and Michael Bolton songs blaring through the hotel ballroom. Aside from that, I remember very little. I was in-between girlfriends when my junior prom rolled around. I went with a good friend (Amy) and her boyfriend (Adam - one of my best friends at the time who went to a different school) and my "date" was a cute private school chick. It was kinda fun. I mean, Adam and Amy were practically on the verge of intercourse all night long but for me there was no pressure and Erin was cool to hang out with (and, I'm not going to lie, kinda hot). By the time of my senior prom, I was dating someone seriously. I forget where we went or who we went with though I seem to recall it was with her older brother who was a friend and classmate of mine. I had a penchant for cradle robbing. But talk about awkward.

So recently when I've seen all these kids, dressed up, in such a hurry to be all adult and shit, it makes me laugh. I mean, first, there's no reason to be in a rush to grow up. You think adulthood will be cool because you can eat all the ice cream you want, go to bed whenever you please, stay out on a school night because really there are no more school nights, and you can legally drink beer. The problem is that its not as cool as you think it will be. Worse, when you get older ice cream makes you fat, it's a bitch to roll out of bed if you've stayed up too late the night before, and too much beer still makes you puke. Second, they just look silly. I'm pretty sure I thought I was hot shit when I was that age, hitting my own prom but they're kids. Not hot shit. Kids.

What kind of prom memories do you have? Come on - spill. You know you want to!

Posted by Chris at 6:26 AM | Comments (47)

May 13, 2008

Seven Types of Cheese

Yesterday morning it was raining. It poured all day long but it was especially bad in the morning. Nothing is worse than a cold rainy Monday morning. I parked my car in Monkeytown and trudged to the office avoiding the puddles and cursing the resurgent winter for all it's rain and cold.

Of course that's nothing compared with what the Chinese woke up to. Nearly 10,000 are estimated dead in the earthquake that struck central China . And it's nothing compared to what the Burmese woke up to last week when a cyclone leveled Myanmar. Up to 100,000 may have been killed in Cyclone Nargis.

Yesterday afternoon, I left the office, walked back through the rain and the puddles and sat in traffic on the way home. I turned on the radio and heard the reports from both China and Myanmar. I wasn't prepared to hear the stories about the vast amounts of children who had perished in both disasters. And I just don't know what to do with that knowledge except maybe double-over and cry.

There is nothing more precious to me than my children. I cannot under any circumstances understand or imagine what these people halfway around the world are going through. I don't want to. What I do know without having gone through it myself - and please, that's an experience I don't want to have - is that they're facing the worst thing a person could.

Last night, Mia wouldn't tell us what she wanted for dinner. The only clue she gave us was that it involved cheese. So we ran through every type we had in the fridge - holey cheese (swiss), spicy pepper cheese (pepper jack), pizza cheese (mozzarella), round cheese to bite (provolone), cream cheese, noodle cheese (Parmesan), and yellow cheese that's lost its yellow (organic cheddar). That's seven types of cheeses. Seven fucking kinds of cheese. And then we played Attack Of The Killer Mushrooms (long story) with Mia.

Two observations. 1) Seven fucking kinds of cheese. Some people in Myanmar and China have never even seen cheese. 2) I love my kids. I love to attack my kid with mushrooms. I'm a better person for having become a father and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything in the whole wide world. And I can't imagine how life must be for those with children that were swallowed up by the earth.

Yesterday morning it was raining. It poured all day long but it was especially bad in the morning. But there are things that are much worse than a cold rainy Monday morning. Life is still very good. And I'm a lucky man. Please think about doing something for those less fortunate.

Posted by Chris at 6:36 AM | Comments (21)

May 12, 2008

Mother's Day (When We All Fell Down)

In the aftermath of the Civil War, activist Julia Ward Howe thought introducing something along the lines of the Mother's Day celebrated in England might be a good idea. It was first celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia on May 10, 1908. The location is now called the International Mother's Day Shrine (seriously). Apparently, it was a hit. Woodrow Wilson declared National Mother's Day in 1914. Of course, now many people (myself included) consider the holiday the height of commercialism. It's expected that, this year, Americans will have spent $3.5 billion dining out for Mother's Day, $2.6 billion on flowers and $68 million on greeting cards. Turns out that Howe agreed with the whole commercialism argument. In 1923, she found herself opposing the holiday itself.

Yet I'm sure Howe never had a Mother's Day celebration quite as silly as ours.

Yesterday, we hosted a Mother's Day brunch at our place. No easy feat when you have a sore-armed husband, a hyper toddler and an infant with a cold. But we pulled it off thanks to the best mom in the world herself, Beth. We showered her with gifts which Mia was responsible for picking out. No surprise, they included an Elmo DVD and chocolate. Then the grandparents came over and much spoiling and eating was done. After we ate, we had a group sing-along including a rousing, well acted-out rendition of Ring Around The Rosy. Yes, we all fell down. Then Mia dressed me up.


I've said it before and I'll say it again, the woman I married turned out to be the best mom in the world. And I'm a lucky guy for it. So are my kids.

What did you do for Mother's Day? And what do you think of the holiday itself - nice, commercial or both?

Posted by Chris at 6:32 AM | Comments (32)

Haiku For Monday #217

I'm pretty sure The
Bangles wrote Manic Monday
'bout this very day.

Posted by Chris at 6:31 AM | Comments (3)

May 9, 2008

The Weeklies #35

The Weekly Disease. Shingles.

The Weekly Observation. Shingles suck.

The Weekly Other Observation. I suck at doing nothing. Really. I try to take some time off to rest and relax and I go crazy. Perhaps this is part of the problem. A big part.

The Weekly Cookie. The peanut-butter cookies Beth and Mia made. They've got a chocolate kiss plopped on top. And, I think, a little rock of crack.

The Weekly Reads. I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle is a fantastic read. It's hilarious and heartfelt. Go grab a copy. You won't be sorry.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Amy Winehouse got arrested. For drugs. Again. Now, have you seen this chick lately? I don't mean to kick anyone when they're down but she is the very definition of fugly. And honestly (and I don't mean to imply that I'm hoping this because I'm not and that would be mean), how is she not dead yet?

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. Quick - the Sense Thief has arrived and given you approximately five seconds to decide which one of your five senses - taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing - you're most willing to part with. You have to give up one. Which one do you kiss goodbye? And which one is the most important to you?

Posted by Chris at 6:53 AM | Comments (40)

May 8, 2008

Wrong Number (Confusion In Three Acts)

Act One
Me: Hello?
Her: Hi. When we spoke yesterday you told me you'd be at my house between the hours of 8 and 11. It's 1:45 and I haven't seen you yet. Are you invisible or just late? I need to run some errands including a very important visit to the county offices so I cannot sit around to wait for you to come install my cable. So I ask you, when are you going to be here?
Me: Uh.
Her: Is that your answer young man? "Uh?" I hardly think that's an answer to my question.
Me: Hold the phone. You are somewhere around the 14th irate and, honestly, strange person who's called me today. Apparently I am very late for my appointments. Apparently I'm a reasonably unreliable guy. Apparently I have either woken up in either a different body or alternate universe. Because, apparently, I'm a cable installer. But in this reality, I'm an IT security consultant who knows virtually nothing about cable installation or repair.
Her: Why would I be waiting around for an IT security consultant to install my cable?
Me: I don't think you're quite getting my point.
Her: Which is...?
Me: Your cable installer guy gave you and half the known universe my number, not his.
Her: So you're not going to come install my cable?
Me: I don't think you'd want me to do that. You'd end up with The Weather Channel on every channel. In Spanish.

Act Two
Dear Comcast Subscribers,

If I may be so bold, I can do a lot of things pretty well. I'm darn good at what I do for a living. I take a mean photograph and write an okay song. I play the guitar, bass, piano and drums. I draw, though admittedly I can only draw a few things well. I ride horses and bikes. I can fire a gun with pretty decent accuracy. I write. I can design a computer network. I can design a website. I'm a good husband and probably a better father. The one thing I cannot do is install or fix your cable. So stop calling me. Don't get me wrong - I feel for you. I've been the victim of those maintenance windows and I know how often they're actually accurate. But I'm not the guy who's going to make that right. Blame the guy who gave you my phone number instead of his.

Warm Regards,
Chris

Act Three
Dear Comcast Cable Installer Guy,

Hey, asshat! Stop giving out my phone number or I'll have to pull off my diseased left arm and beat you with it.

Yours in Christ,
Chris

Posted by Chris at 6:55 AM | Comments (32)

May 7, 2008

Reach Out and Google Someone

I'm ready and willing to admit that I'm guilty of Googling people. I know it can be perceived as sneaky but I'm moderately obsessed with it. And here's proof.

Things I learned by Googling people from my past and present.

  • The first girlfriend I had in high school once I moved to Virginia from Texas now teaches at my old high school. Which I now live behind. In her old neighborhood. Odd the way that works.
  • Someone I work with led a hunger strike at a local university. It's strange because by my estimation she weights about 95 pounds. I wonder if she forgot to stop striking.
  • A former employee of mine is/was related to a now-dead sitcom star and appears to be making successful video games out in California.
  • One of my old neighbors ran for congress several years back. He lost. Big. Which is a good thing because he was a real asshole.
  • A guy I met in a meeting late last week is apparently "One Sexy Thang!!!" according to his My Space profile.
  • Another former girlfriend is now a child advocacy lawyer in South Carolina.
  • One of my best friends from high school might be a porn star.
  • His old high school girlfriend is now a professional mime.

What this shows is twofold. First - and this should come as no surprise to anyone - I run into some really interesting people. Second, everyone leaves virtual fingerprints everywhere they go. In fact - because I know people who know people who do some really interesting shit for a living - I've seen scary-ass versions of online applications that collect every single fragment of your lives and consolidate them into one handy, easy-to-read report. It's scary.

This leads me to two related questions:
- Is Googling people creepy, unethical or just kinda cool?
- Do you Google people? If so, who and what kind of good stuff have you learned?

On another note, I was staring at the horror that is my arm and I think I saw the image of baby Jesus in my rash. With all this rampant pain, I was thinking that while it probably won't fall off by itself, I might just lop the damn thing off. How much do you think I can get for my Weeping Baby Jesus Miracle Arm on Ebay?

Posted by Chris at 6:31 AM | Comments (55)

May 6, 2008

My Arm, Revisited

Yesterday morning, armed with the memories of horrific Google searches and a searing pain in my left arm, I did the unthinkable. I made an appointment with my doctor. I know - like reading instruction manuals or asking for directions, this is something virtually unheard of but I was, after all, afraid of losing my arm. I was motivated. I scored an afternoon appointment and marched myself in there at the appointed time.

Then I whipped it out - my arm, that is - and became Ross Geller for a few minutes.

Remember that old episode of Friends where Ross has an odd thing on his ass he claims is a third nipple? Then the doctor gets about two dozen of his colleagues to come in and stare at it for a while? Yeah, that was so me yesterday except it was my arm, not my ass. The throng of medical personnel finally rendered a verdict. And contrary to many of your opinions and my original diagnosis it was not a bite of any kind, ringworm, the onset of lyme disease or lupus or even leprosy. It was, instead, shingles.

Fucking shingles.

If I may go Doogie Houser on your asses, basically the chickenpox virus is like a one night stand gone horribly wrong after a long night of drunk dialing. It just lingers and won't go away. Sometimes it just wears you down and leaves you achy while other times it causes excruciating pain. This is shingles.

I sucked it up, walked out of the doctor's office and headed to pick up the inevitable prescription. I picked it up and headed home. On my way, stopped at a light, I opened up the bag and started surfing through the medical advisories and side effects. It was then that I noticed something odd - a request from the manufacturer that I please wear a condom while having sex. Odd. My anti-depressants have never made that request. Antibiotics could care less about my sexual habits. The occasional decongestant never gave a rat's ass if I wrapped up 'Lil Cactus. But apparently my shingles medication is really concerned about the state of my wang.

That's because its Valtrex. Fucking herpes meds.

This should come as no great surprise, I guess, because all these immune system-related infections are pretty much the same thing. But still. I could have done without even a hint of The Herp. My wife, though, thinks it's hilarious. She's already taught Mia how to tell everyone that her dad has herpes.

I'm so hot. I have a nasty rash on my arm (and I'm still not ruling out the possibility that it will fall off by the end of the week), chronic pain, mild exhaustion and, if you listen to my daughter and read my prescription bottles, a rampant case of herpes. I can just call this a week and skip the rest, right? Surely my work here is done.

Posted by Chris at 6:17 AM | Comments (69)

May 5, 2008

How Will I Type With One Arm?

There is a very real possibility that my left arm will fall off by the end of the week. Thank god I'm right-handed.

Last Thursday I noticed that my whole arm hurt. Hurt as in somewhat uncomfortable but I don't need to drink a fifth of vodka or bite down on an arrow to control the endless stream of pain. I decided to check it out. Turns out I've got one fairly dramatic bite on my forearm and one circular batch of bites on my left shoulder. The cluster of bites are the most concerning - or were - because they hurt like the aftermath of a flu shot. I grew curious. I turned to the internet.

Bad idea.

Now I'm fairly convinced that my shoulder has been chewed on by something dangerous and tropical with a 99.99% appendage mortality rate and it now seems completely reasonable that the forearm bite was the gift of a kind passing brown recluse spider. Like I said, I'm pretty sure my left arm will be gone - either forcibly removed or through rapid deterioration - by Friday.

While it could be argued (and I would agree) that the internet's primary purpose, as designed by Al Gore, is a that of a first-rate porn delivery mechanism, I'd argue that the second best use of the information superhighway is to freak yourself the fuck out. Judging by the hits I got on my searches I could have lyme disease, lupus, ringworm (which, interestingly doesn't involve a worm and isn't parasitic), athlete's foot (probably not it since my shoulder is not actually my foot), Paget's disease of the nipple (again, shoulder not nipple), the bite of powerful spiders (the pictures, oh, the pictures...must get them out of my head) and adult circumcision. I'm pretty sure I can rule out that last one too.

The lesson here is simple. While the internet is handy for blogging, meeting and trading ideas with nice people such as yourselves not to mention acquiring good quality porn, it is not a helpful diagnostic tool for medical conditions. Quite the opposite - using it for a diagnosis should be avoided at all costs. Of course I could be wrong. I'll get back to you by the end of the week. If my arm's fallen off, the joke's on me.

So what did you do this weekend? And, uh, you think my arm's gonna fall off?

Posted by Chris at 6:17 AM | Comments (50)

Haiku For Monday #216

It was just Friday.
How did this damn Monday thing
happen so soon, yo?

Posted by Chris at 6:16 AM | Comments (1)

May 2, 2008

The Weeklies #34

The Weekly Strange Moment. I emerged from the parking garage in downtown Washington to be immediately faced by a banjo-playing homeless guy playing the theme from Deliverance. I almost went home. I probably should have.

The Weekly Reads. If you've read The Weeklies for any period of time, you'll know I've read a lot of Harlan Coben. I just finished his almost-latest The Woods. Coben's a great writer. He's a great storyteller and he's got a great sense of humor. That said, The Woods was perhaps not his strongest. While suspenseful, it was a tad lengthy.

The Weekly Music. I was surfing emusic (if you haven't checked them our for all kinds of DRM-free indie goodness, you really should) and ran across the Matthew Good back catalog. Good stuff. Hospital Music, a solo outing, and The Audio of Being, recorded by the Matthew Good Band, are especially good. The albums are kind of like what Live would sound like now if they didn't suck.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Remember Steve Fossett, the dude who tried to break all kinds of flight records usually involving hot air balloons? His wife is getting a bill from the state of Nevada for the search to the tune of $687,000. Is it me or does this set a shitty precedent? I mean, Fossett's wife didn't put a gun to the governor of Nevada's head to force the search. And don't we all have a reasonable expectation that emergency workers will actually do their jobs and help without demanding repayment?

The Weekly Observation. Remember the old Cinderella song Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone? In a very leather pants-wearing way, I feel that way about sleep.

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. At what point do the rising gas prices force you to make major changes to your life? And what are those changes?

Posted by Chris at 7:05 AM | Comments (46)

May 1, 2008

All's Fair in Love and Vanity

Yesterday, the latest issue of Vanity Fair hit stands. The issue contains now-controversial, already infamous photos of the 15 year-old Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) shot by Annie Leibovitz. These shots wouldn't be anything write home about were it not for the fact that Cyrus was clad only in a sheet in some of the shots and sprawled across her father - one-hit wonder Billy Ray Cyrus - in a somewhat suggestive manner in others. Of course, even with both of these elements, the story wouldn't be a story at all if not for the relentless stoking by the celeb-hungry media.

A few weeks back, I posted about the invitation to a Bratz-themed birthday party Mia received. And that post fueled a lot of conversation. But now seeing the uproar and media feeding frenzy over the Vanity Fair piece and catching news of brawling Winehouses, drunk Lohans, and soon-to-be Spears spawn my head is all screwed up and I can no longer be sure which came first, the skanks or the Bratz. I mean, were Bratz dreamed up because sluts just became so popular or did Bratz and products like them contribute to the overall skankiness of society?

My brain is locked in a chicken-and-egg argument over sluttiness. But what my brain does know is that I want to dismiss all of this - the celebutantes, the paparazzi, the media - as a great big old ball of meaningless crap but I can't because it's what people - kids in particular - pay attention to. And that's just all shades of wrong.

So I ask you, oh readers, oh limitless fonts of knowledge and inspiration, what's the problem and what's the solution? And in the Vanity Fair versus Miley Cyrus argument, who's at fault - Miley, her parents, Vanity Fair, Annie Leibovitz? Or are we all being manipulated by the media?

Posted by Chris at 6:50 AM | Comments (55)


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