June 30, 2008

Flying Solo (Kinda)

In the history of mankind, there are certain phrases and ideas that, when uttered, strike fear into our hearts. For instance -

"Fire!" (random cavemen...and Frankenstein)
"I'd really like to pose for Playboy someday." (Amy Winehouse)
"Let's go hunting." (Dick Cheney)
"Really, I just want to meet your wife. I'm curious what she's like" (Amy Fisher)
"Throw some bats on stage. It'll be fun." (Ozzy Osbourne)
"No one's going to miss a few dollars here and there." (any Enron employee)
"I'm going out with my mom to see a show so you'll be alone with the kids for six hours." (my wife)

And that last one? That's what happened yesterday. Which is why it's oh-dark-thirty and I've finally managed to get dressed and head to work after a night spent rocking back and forth in the fetal position in the shower with a fifth of Jack Daniels, my new best friend. Okay. Okay. I exaggerate. It was only one of those little airline bottles.

In all honesty, it didn't go too badly. Not as badly as, say, a couple weekends ago when Beth was gone for three hours and Owen bitched about it for 2 hours and 58 minutes. There was even a stretch (which began at 2:49, the time at which I may or may not have sold my soul to the devil) when both kids were asleep. Well, one kid was asleep and the other was scream-singing Backyardigans songs. But she eventually fell asleep and there was a glorious Ven diagram-like overlap of sleep and peace in the house that I reveled in for the three minutes it lasted. Then Owen woke up, deigned to take a bottle from me after searching my shirt for functional breasts (finding none), Mia awoke and we all played. Beth arrived just before the whole scene threatened to topple under the weight of its own perfection. And we ate pizza and drank beer. And it was good.

Sure, other things happened this weekend - like swimming, Target runs, grocery shopping with a toddler, frog hunting and lawn mowing - but none made me feel quite as victorious as the time spent with my two kids.

There are several things I know for sure, one of which is this: What I call work is sometimes hard but nowhere near as demanding as being a stay-at-home parent. I don't know how Beth does it but a big standing ovation to her and all of you who make parenting their full time gig.

Posted by Chris at 6:33 AM | Comments (21)

Haiku For Monday #224

Dear baby jesus,
thank you for making it a
four day week. Amen.

Posted by Chris at 6:31 AM | Comments (5)

June 27, 2008

The Weeklies #42

The Weekly Time Waster. Have you discovered Hulu yet? TV shows - not lame ass ones you don't care about like the revival of the Love Boat that tragically appeared in the 90s - that you can watch for absolutely nothing with very limited commercials. It seriously rocks.

The Weekly Horrifying Fact. Vern Troyer - you know, Mini-Me - has a sex tape. Seriously. Please don't even be slightly tempted to Google it and check it out. I was barely able to avoid clawing my own eyes out.

The Weekly Reads. I polished off Richard Hawke's Cold Day In Hell earlier in the week. It's a book I'd really been looking forward to reading based on the strength of his previous novel, Speak of the Devil. Hawke's writing is fantastic. His narration is witty in that Harlan Coben kind of way that doesn't turn a serious story into something silly. His dialog pops and his characters are wonderfully drawn. That said, I was a little disappointed with Cold Day In Hell. It wasn't bad - in fact, it was quite good - but it wasn't quite as good as his first. Would I recommend it? Yep.

The Weekly Music. Last week I reported that I'd given the new Coldplay album a spin and wasn't overly impressed. So I took it upon myself to give it a few extra listens this week. Did my opinion change? Yeah, to an extent. Vida La Vida is eclectic, blending more than a few different styles. It seems to me that it's a piece of music meant to be listened to as a whole. The sum - the way I've interpreted it - is more important than the parts that comprise it. It's lush, brilliantly recorded and mastered - a definite headphone album. But the emotional payoff isn't as immediate as with their previous albums. There are fewer hooks, grooves and anthems and, as a result, less of a pay-off to the listener. Yet there's something about it that stays with you. Something good.

The Weekly Death of an Important Person You Probably Never Heard Of. Kermit Love was a costume designer and while you might have seen his designs in ballets or some relatively classic movies, everyone is familiar with his greatest achievement. He designed Big Bird.

The Weekly Schadenfreude/Open Letter. Dear Amy Winehouse: You are a sad, pathetic, fucked up mess. You've screwed your life up so repeatedly it is beyond reason why anyone should feel any sympathy for you. You had talent. Once. Who knows if you still do. I don't care anymore. Go away. Seriously. Go.

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. If you were able to be transported anywhere (geographic location) for 24 hours, where would you go? What sight in the world would you most want to see?

Posted by Chris at 6:42 AM | Comments (45)

June 26, 2008

Pet Project

Mia loves animals. She's an equal opportunity animal lover but she has a particular fondness for dogs and cats. Last night, for instance, I was summoned into her room a half hour after she'd gone to bed and asked to locate the stuffed dog that usually resides on her bed. We have two cats that regularly hang out in our back yard - a white one she's named Stormy and a black one she calls Pretzel. No clue how she came up with either of the names. She tells us she used to have a cat named Callie (which she did, very briefly) but Callie dived (her word for died) but not to worry, she'll get better soon (we're still working on the concept of that death thing).

Unfortunately for all of us, Mia's allergic to both dogs and cats. And she wants a pet. This leaves us with a conundrum shrouded in an enigma wrapped in a fluffy tortilla of mystery. What kind of pet do we get?

There are, of course, the tried and true options like guinea pigs, mice and hamsters. I kinda like chinchillas but know absolutely nothing about them. We could go the fish route but they're not cuddly and usually end up floating upside down. Then you have to have a little ceremony, flush them and explain the concept of death (or diving) once again. Reptiles could be fun but they're also not cuddly. They might also freak her out. Frogs could be cool but Mia might be tempted to free them in the backyard pond with their cousins.

So once again I turn to you, oh faithful readers, for advice. What kind of pets did you have as kids? And what should we do about a pet for Mia? By the way, don't suggest a horse. Beth has some strong feelings about horses, none of them good, as evidenced by her latest art project.

Posted by Chris at 7:30 AM | Comments (76)

June 25, 2008

(It's Not Easy) Being Green

I spent my formative years in the 80s. I was, therefore, witness to the start of many inexplicable fads like Guess jeans, florescent t-shirts, consumption of Mr. Zogs Sex Wax, parachute pants, hair metal, and Molly Ringwald. So, yeah, I've seen one or two fads come and go. Lately, though, it seems like something a little more worthwhile has taken root almost everywhere and become quite a trend - going green. How else can you explain the booming fluorescent lightbulb business, increased sales and availability of hybrids, and even a green network?

All this exposure forced me to look at how I interact with the environment and what kind of impact I have. So I did a little investigating. Turns out that, according to my calculations over at carboncounter.org, I emit somewhere around 21 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. Well, not me, bodily (that would suck), but our house and cars. We recycle. We're vegetarians. We buy organic when it's practical. We don't own massive, gas-guzzling cars and take them on road trips. We rarely fly. We don't stand over glaciers with hair dryers or flame-throwers, club baby seals or dump nuclear waste into the ocean on our trips to the beach. I'd say we're just about average - we're not going to single-handedly save the environment but we're not going to be responsible for ruining it either.

But what else can we do?

I'm all for taking on the big solutions. I want to put solar panels on the house, plant my own vegetables, take public transportation, buy a hybrid, use my mad plumbing skills to work out some sort of household gray water reclamation scheme, start composting, make my own shoes, buy goods and services only from environmentally friendly companies, and mount a wind turbine in the back yard. But those things are either a) expensive or b) a real pain in the ass. And I think that - being a pain in the ass - is what stops most people from taking action. Most of us (myself included) are materialistic to some extent and influenced by the concept of immediate gratification. There's nothing terrible about that. It's our society. But until we get over ourselves a little, there's a point at which we can't become much greener.

So how concerned about the environment are you? And what are you doing about it? What ways do you think we can all be a little greener?

Posted by Chris at 6:24 AM | Comments (42)

June 24, 2008

The Ideal Gig

A while back, I talked about the worst job I'd ever had. As a reminder, it involved making hats in a factory in Texas in the summer with no air conditioning (the fact that there was such a structure in Texas should be illegal) and touching old guys' sweaty heads (that should be illegal too just on principle). And I asked you about yours and you came up with some that were truly horrific and gave me nightmares. Anyway, while I'm reluctant to talk about work in any depth, I've had a lot of conversations with people all centered around what they want to be when they grow up. I'm far from the only one who has not yet figured this out. I'm relieved.

I'm 35 years old (I think but I always forget...let me do some subtraction...yes, 35) and I was under the impression that, by this point, I should know what I want to do with the rest of my life. And I do know to a certain extent. I want to continue to be a father and watch my kids grow up into cool people. I want to hang out with Beth and grow ancient together. I'd like to travel a bit and I'd like to read lots more books and listen to much more music. Maybe write a book of my very own. But what I want to do professionally remains a mystery.

When I was a kid scoring Cs in school, I used to get the Limit Your Options Lecture from my dad. It went something like this:

"In your life you need to keep as many options open to you as possible so you have opportunities to do whatever you want. Each time you get a C - or worse - in a class, you're limiting some of those options. I just want to see you have the ability to do whatever it is you decide to do down the road."

And, though I hated the lecture and gave it not one iota of consideration because it sounded like one of those standard-issue pre-packaged lectures parents are required by law to deliver at some predetermined frequency, he was right. (Don't tell him I said that.) But here's where the whole theory breaks down. From the time we start high school we're expected and forced to limit our options. In high school, we choose some subjects or activities at the expense of others. In college - from a vast slate of academic opportunities and knowledge that supports future careers - our 18 to 20 year-old selves are expected and required to find one or two areas we most want to know about. And this decision - being made, I remind you, by people who are only just eligible to vote and drink (maybe) and have no understanding of the real world - rules out an astronomical number of career paths. It's like, we're the oppressed masses and the universe is The Man keeping us down. So, okay, we shouldn't limit ourselves but it's okay for the universe to? That doesn't seem right.

Unless you're the rare breed who decided to be a cop when you were eight then chased that dream until you were eventually a 35 year old cop - and I'm convinced that single-minded determination is rare yet totally admirable - maybe you're in the same boat I am. Don't get me wrong (especially you, people who I work for if you've somehow figured out where I blog) - I love what I do. It's hard and draining and, at times, frustrating, but I'm good at it. I'm just not convinced it's what I want to do professionally for the rest of my days.

Are you doing what you want to do? If money was no object, what's your ideal gig?

Posted by Chris at 7:23 AM | Comments (80)

June 23, 2008

The Weekend In Numbers

Strange and little known fact - despite the fact that I rarely post anything over the weekend, Monday is the day I see the least traffic around here. I blame the fact that everyone's trying to get back into the swing of that whole work thing. It gets in the way of all the good stuff. That, or I'm just really boring on Mondays.

The weekend? Well, that was anything but boring. Check out the weekend numbers.

Bags of mulch put down: 33
Yards mowed: 1
Aspirin needed: 382
Boxes painted by Mia and I for her room: 2
Beers consumed: 3
Takeout meals eaten: 2
Parents horrified by Barbie nightgown Mia chose for herself: 2
Emails answered: 160
Dollars paid for gas: 96
Rolls of chub Owen has: 487
Pink cowboy hats worn: 1
Hours of HGTV watched: 4
Ice cream men caught at the last moment: 1
Popsicles eaten: 2
M&M's eaten: 8, 972
Trips to Target: 3
Episodes of Arrested Development watched: 4
Times Owen spit up in my nose (don't ask): 1

So, okay, my Monday morning posts aren't the most exciting but you try getting up at oh-dark-thirty and coming up with something brilliant. I'm off to mainline some coffee. What were your numbers for the weekend?

Posted by Chris at 6:24 AM | Comments (48)

Haiku For Monday #223

wealthy. A dream for early,
dark Monday mornings.

Posted by Chris at 6:21 AM | Comments (2)

June 20, 2008

The Weeklies #41

The Weekly Fucked Up News. On Wednesday, the sixth human foot in 11 months floated onto the Canadian coast. No one is quite sure why.

The Weekly Bogus Degree You Can Bestow Upon Yourselves. Get your Internet Diploma! Seriously. Do it. And hang it on your wall. You know you want to.

The Weekly Reads. This week I conquered Lisa Lutz's The Spellman Files. Maybe conquered isn't the right word because that implies that it might have been something of an ordeal. It wasn't. It was a pleasure. Lutz delivered a quirky mystery involving a somewhat odd yet lovable family of private investigators. It's funny, fast-paced and ultimately endearing. Like your friend who insists on wearing grass hula skirts to work every Friday and saying your name in Klingon. Give it a whirl.

The Weekly Music. Admittedly, I've only listened to it once but the new Coldplay album? Meh. It deserves many more spins than I've been able to give it but my first impression wasn't so great. Not that it's bad. It just seems a little boring. Not so for The Hold Steady's latest release (released a month early on iTunes so don't look for it in stores yet), Stay Positive. Craig Finn and company are back with another fantastic album. While their last - Boys and Girls In America - was their breakthrough, I didn't feel it was their strongest (that title goes to Separation Sunday). This one is even stronger. If you haven't already done it, please check out The Hold Steady.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Oh, Maddie Briann Spears, how we feel for you. Your 17 year old mother is a trainwreck-in-training, learning from the best, your aunt. I have one piece of advice for you. Run! Run like the wind. Run as far and as fast as you can.

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. You have to spend 24 hours as a currently famous person. You're basically living their life for a day. So, what famous person do you choose and what do you do?

Posted by Chris at 6:49 AM | Comments (53)

June 19, 2008

Older? Yes. Wiser? Probably Not

As I mentioned the other day, I got all my hair cut off. Okay, not all, but a hell of a lot of it. What I neglected to mention, though, was the fact that, as it was falling into little hair piles on the floor, I saw something monumentally horrific. It was all gray. Fucking gray hair. I also haven't mentioned that I'm having a damn hard time reading lately. I need to break out my trusty reading glasses. Yes, I said reading glasses. Shut up. Thank god my shingles have at least temporarily subsided. The last thing I need right now is the recurrence of a disease that most frequently occurs in those 65 and older. I feel like I'm just seconds away from telling meddling kids to stay off my lawn (or I'm one step away from being the villain in an episode of Scooby Doo) and my new favorite question is "what?"

What I'm getting at here is that, occasionally, I'm reminded that I'm getting older. And I'm not happy about it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy that I have this aging problem as opposed to the alternative (dirt nap). Being older is a good problem to have. But it scares me. There are a few people in my family whose bodies are lasting far longer than their minds. And it's not pleasant to watch and is somewhat disturbing to imagine myself suffering the same fate. But that's the state of modern medicine. As my favorite comedian Patton Oswalt once said, "science - all about the coulda, not the shoulda."

Surely I'm not alone here, right? I'm not the only one either feeling a little older or fearing what's in store as I get a little older. How has your outlook on life changed as you've grown older? And what are you not looking forward to about growing old? And what do you most want to do before you get too old? (Apparently I start asking lots of questions as I grow older.)

Posted by Chris at 6:28 AM | Comments (43)

June 18, 2008

Why (Or, How Baseball Is Afraid of Lesbians)

Mia: Where did you go today?
Me: I went to work, sweetheart.
Mia: Why?
Me: Because that's what I do during the day.
Mia: Why?
Me: To make money.
Mia: Why?
Me: So we can buy the metric ton of strawberries you like to eat every week.
Mia: Why?
Me: Why do you eat a metric ton of strawberries each week? Because you like the way they taste.
Mia: Why?
Me: Because they're sweet and you like sweet things.
Mia: Why do they taste sweet?
Me: Because they have sugar in them.
Mia: Why?
Me: Because that's the way they grow.
Mia: Why?
Me: Because the baby jesus wanted strawberries and Strawberry Shortcake was brought to life and it was her job to pepper the holy land with strawberries and, lo, it was good and the people were happy.

Now, if I can handle the endless string of why questions that come from my daughter, surely I can handle the why were those two women kissing at the baseball game question that may come up if we were to visit a Seattle Mariners game. But apparently there are those who can't.

...from KATU, Seattle...
Most of the time, a kiss is just a kiss in the stands at Seattle Mariners games. The crowd hardly even pays attention when fans smooch. But then last week, a lesbian complained that an usher at Safeco Field asked her to stop kissing her date because it was making another fan uncomfortable.

As the Mariners played the Boston Red Sox on May 26, Sirbrina Guerrero and her date were approached in the third inning by an usher who told them their kissing was inappropriate, Guerrero said. The usher, Guerrero said, told them he had received a complaint from a woman nearby who said that there were kids in the crowd of nearly 36,000 and that parents would have to explain why two women were kissing.

There's more to the story and who knows what's accurate. Some say the two were making out. Others - and the couple - maintain that they were eating garlic fries and smooching casually (after garlic fries? really?). The Mariners are quick to point out that Safeco Field has a code of conduct which prohibits public displays of affection. Apparently we're all still in high school. Let's say the truth is somewhere in the middle. That doesn't change the fact that ushers never stop heterosexual couples. And there's the big gay double-standard - feel free to live your life as you please as long as it doesn't many anyone uncomfortable. God forbid.

Now, I may be more liberal than most but I need a sanity check.

- Is the way this played out acceptable?
- Is a code of conduct forbidding kissing at a baseball game acceptable?
- Is there a double-standard at play here?
- Are the Mariners playing it too safe?
- Are most parents really that freaked out about explaining something like this to their kids?

Posted by Chris at 7:20 AM | Comments (48)

June 17, 2008

Missing: Most of My Hair

So, what's the verdict on the do?

Posted by Chris at 9:33 PM | Comments (57)

Friday Night Slights

A month and a half ago, Buzz Bissinger - you might know him as the author of Friday Night Lights - showed up on Bob Costas' Costas Now and lost his shit over the topic of sports blogs and, it would seem, blogging in general. His profanity-laden tirade was impressive, almost as impressive as his reputation for being a top-notch sports journalist. His perspective was simple and multi-fold: blogs are dumbing down society as well as sports fans; bloggers are cowards hiding behind the anonymity of the internet; and bloggers are uninformed, crappy writers. Last week he showed up on a local afternoon radio show I listen to and railed against the blogosphere in its entirety. It kinda pissed me off.

Blogs should never be considered the authoritative source on anything except the lives of those who write them. I am the leading authority on me. You may search high and low and travel the seven seas but you will never find anyone as well-versed in me as, well, me. If I wrote lengthy posts about midget rodeos, I'd encourage you to find another source. I really don't know anything about midget rodeos. I'm hardly an authoritative source. Trust but verify. So, if I wanted to find out everything about midget rodeos, I probably wouldn't start in the blogosphere. Lots of bloggers - none of you, of course - are terribly uninformed.

There are lots of people who discover the blogosphere and are immediately enamored with the fact that they have a voice. So they put virtual pen to virtual paper and write. And they suck. I've seen some doozies (again, none of you). But while some - like Bissinger - might claim that if these folks can't say anything well they shouldn't say it, I view it just the opposite. People are writing, or trying to write. People are expressing themselves to the best of their ability. How is that a bad thing?

For good or ill, the internet is the last great lawless frontier we have left. There are no rules. As a matter of fact, I really dislike the fact that people actually get away with publishing books about how to blog or even blogs about blogging. There are no rules. Repeat after me. There are no rules. Sure, you should be skeptical about what you read and not believe everything because there's a decent chance its bullshit. No one ever took an ethical pledge before we logged onto the internet. There's a whole lot of stuff happening in the world, 95% of it (my number), traditional outlets aren't talking about. Shouldn't we be trying to find out about everything that makes up our world? Shouldn't we be shouting these issues from the virtual rooftops? Shouldn't we be encouraging conversations about issues so that we're better informed? Shouldn't we all be able to share little slivers of our lives with those around us without judgmental assholes shouting at us from our televisions about the nerve we've got to exercise our rights to free expression? Even the worst written, most inane blogs do that.

And the most important rule of thumb - if you don't like it, don't read it. Problem solved.

Many of you blog and since you're here you obviously read blogs. Where do you come down on this one? Am I overreacting, looking at this the wrong way or is Bissinger just an asshat? Why do you blog? Why do you read blogs?

Posted by Chris at 6:34 AM | Comments (65)

June 16, 2008

The Father's Day Recap

Father's Day weekend was not relaxing. That's not to say it wasn't fun. It was. But the two kids ganged up on us and managed to keep us awake over the 48 hour period. That's why we're not having a third. We'd be outnumbered and hopelessly screwed.

On Saturday, Mia and Beth had a girls' day out which left me with a rather grumpy Owen. And by grumpy I mean pissed. Given the choice, I think he'd have preferred the one of us with the fully functional breasts and mad lactation skills to stay at home. But it didn't work out that way. I survived the several hours of screaming - though I'm sure there will be flashbacks and some residual post-traumatic stress - until Mia and Beth arrived home. Then Beth's mom arrived, allowing Beth and I to flee screaming from the house run out, grab lunch and get some errands done. No, that's not code for checked into a motel and got busy. We're actually more likely to check into a motel and have a nice wholesome nap. e did neither. After the errands, we headed home, time miraculously disappeared the way it so frequently does, and it as time for the kids to go to bed.

Which they did. It's just a pity it didn't stay that way.

It's par for the course for Owen to wake up in the middle of the night. He's an infant. And he's obviously trying to bulk up for the World Baby Sumo Wrestling Championship. But the fact that Mia was, for some odd reason, awake from 12:30 to 5:00 on Sunday morning was a little unexpected. I drifted off in her bed a few times but every time I awoke, it was to a startlingly awake Mia. She finally relented and humored me when my last idea was something along the lines of "You call those eyes closed? These are closed eyes [closes eyes]. Now, close those eyes pronto and please for the love of god fall asleep." Like I said, she eventually humored me and I stumbled back into my own bed for a few hours of sleep.

I was awakened to the same, now-perky Mia climbing into bed with me wishing me a happy Father's Day. And it was. Because despite the lack of sleep, the vomit-encrusted t-shirts, the lack of two spare minutes to rub together and call my own, I'm damn proud to be a father to these two kids. In my mind, there's only one nobler profession - a mother. So I ate my blueberry pancakes with pride and treasured the homemade Father's Day card as though it was the Hope diamond, proof of the Loch Ness monster's existence and directions to Jimmy Hoffa's whereabouts. Sure, it sounds cheesy, but the love of my kids - and Beth - is the most valuable thing in the world to me.

But a little sleep would be nice. I'm just sayin'.

Posted by Chris at 6:28 AM | Comments (18)

Haiku For Monday #22

This week? Will be harsh.
Raise your coffee cups high and
please wish me some luck.

Posted by Chris at 6:27 AM | Comments (1)

June 13, 2008

The Weeklies #40

The Weekly Ominous Observation. It's Friday the 13th! Dun-dun-dunnnnn.

The Weekly Weather. Hot. Africa hot. Sweaty balls hot.

The Weekly Time Waster. Guess The Google. You get 20 images and you've got to figure out what Google keyword was used.

The Weekly Reads. Once upon a time, I used to shy away from books that were parts of series. I'm not sure why but I did. Now, among some of my favorite characters are those in series - John Sandford's Lucas Davenport, Marshall Karp's Lomax and Biggs, Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar and Lee Child's Jack Reacher. I was browsing though a pile of paperbacks the other day and realized I had two of Lee Child's earlier Reacher novels I hadn't tackled. So I dove into Without Fail. And it was, without fail, a darn good mystery. Reacher's a badass and impossible not to like. The mystery is well plotted and the action non-stop.

The Weekly Music. I've been an Aimee Mann fan since she did the music for Magnolia (a seriously brilliant and underrated movie). @#%&*! Smilers is yet another great release in her long string of good releases (interrupted only by the loose-concept album The Forgotten Arm that didn't really do much for me). So, just a little advice - check it out!

The Weekly Worst Movie I Haven't Seen. The Love Guru looks like one of the single worst films ever made. Seriously, it's going to suck. Steer clear at all costs.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Let's talk about Hulk Hogan. His kid had an accident while speeding and turned the passenger into a vegetable. And Hulk said it was god's will to make the kid - the passenger who's now comatose - a better person. Hulk and his wife are going through a divorce. She's now dating a teenager. He's dating a chick who looks exactly like his daughter. Ew. There's more schadenfreude than you an shake a stick at!

The Weekly Not A Hypothetical Question Question. What's your number one comfort food?

Posted by Chris at 6:38 AM | Comments (64)

June 12, 2008

Sleep Deprivation At Its Finest

Beth and I take turns putting Mia to bed. We alternate nights. I've probably mentioned this before but a long time ago, I started telling Mia Hoppity stories. They caught on. She asks for them every night.

Hoppity is a bunny who lives in the forest along with an elaborate and increasingly difficult to remember cast of characters. There's Francisco the moose, a fish named Steve, and an owl who is quite imaginatively named Owl, Frank the bee and Molly the butterfly. At Mia's insistence - because she's a toddler and is incredibly picky about these things - all of these stories start off exactly the same.

Once upon a time there was a little bunny named Hoppity. She lived in the forest with her mommy, her daddy and her baby brother. One day, Hoppity woke up and her mommy was there...

And from there, new adventures are invented. Hoppity has joined the circus, planted a garden, visited the zoo, discovered dinosaur bones, met The Backyardigans, and even traveled into outerspace. The options are limitless. Lately, though, the stories have taken a bizarre turn.

Mia's been waking up after falling asleep lately. This has required intervention, pretty much always in the middle of the night. When I'm tired. So tired in fact that, more than once, I've accidentally tried to wear my t-shirt as pants. I'm not so swift at 3:00 in the morning. So, I wake up, get some clothes on, stumble into Mia's room and see what's wrong. Once she's calm, she'll usually ask me to lie on my back so she can lie on my stomach...on her back...it's confusing. Then she'll ask for a Hoppity story. I'm happy to oblige but my storytelling ability - like my ability to dress myself - is pretty terrible at that hour. Because I drift off. And wake up to find myself still telling the story but a very nonsensical, dad's on acid version. What follows is a good example.

Once upon a time there was a little bunny named Hoppity. She lived in the forest with her mommy, her daddy and her baby brother. One day, Hoppity woke up and her mommy was there. She said, "let's go to the zoo" so they did. There they saw elephants and dancing umbrellas listening to Megadeath's Greatest Hits. They saw penguins with purple helmets riding unicycles. Then they screamed "fire the photon torpedoes Mr. Sulu!" and the villagers danced their merry dances while Francisco the moose got blitzed out of his mind on cheap gin.

I usually wake up and hear myself telling this bizarre story, and wonder what in god's name I've said to my daughter. But invariably, I find a little sleeping Mia on my tummy, blissfully ignorant, gorgeously dreaming.

What's your best moment of sleep-deprived glory?

Posted by Chris at 7:10 AM | Comments (38)

June 11, 2008

Speak Your Minds

If you pay attention to the news (and frankly, I'm torn between the desire to be a well-informed individual and hiding in a land of blissful ignorance), you're continually bombarded with signs of the impending apocalypse. Or so you'd be led to believe. That's because I'm firmly convinced that the news is designed with one purpose - to scare the shit out of you. Why? Because people watch when they're scared and they need to know what they're supposed to be afraid of. If you checked out any of the major news sites online, here's what you'd be led to believe:

  • Gas prices will soon reach a bazillion dollars a gallon and we'll be forced to walk everywhere.
  • Eat a tomato recently? Ooops, you're dead.
  • Rising food prices will force us into a diet of nothing but disease-ridden tomatoes.
  • The Democrat/Republican (choose one) who takes power in January will plunge the country into never-ending depression.
  • Lindsay Lohan will act again.
  • You will never be able to sell your house because it has the approximate property value of Three Mile Island.
  • If you're not lucky enough to sell your house, you'll be foreclosed on.
  • Your cell phone/MP3 player/laptop (choose all applicable) is slowly killing you.
  • Iran is somehow going to find a way to kill us all. Well, those of us not gotten by global warming, small electronics or tomatoes.

Now, you can't believe everything you hear. And I don't believe any of these things. They're sensationalized, exaggerated, spun, hyped and injected with a healthy Roger Clemens-sized dose of scareoids. Largely because the mainstream media believes that we're marginally braindead and have to be scared into finding out what's happening in the world. It's no conspiracy - I don't want to imply that. But I do honestly believe the media thinks we're pretty darn dumb.

That brings me to you. There are thousands of you out there who stop by each day. Some comment, some don't. That's cool. But I'd like to know what your biggest concerns are. Let me repeat - your concerns. Not what CNN tells me you're concerned about. What are the biggest issues in your world? Speak up. I'm really curious.

Posted by Chris at 6:23 AM | Comments (93)

June 10, 2008

Deferens of Opinion

Beth: So, you're not going to like this conversation but I have a question.
Me: Oh goody. I love questions that start off like that.
Beth: If I die tomorrow...
Me: This is a crappy subject.
Beth: ...I'd want you to be happy and get remarried and stuff. And if that happened, do you think you'd want to have kids with whoever it is you remarry?
Me: Uh. You don't expect me to have an answer for that right now, right?
Beth: Why wouldn't you?
Me: Well, seconds ago we were sitting here all married and stuff watching House Hunters and now you're dead and I'm shacking up with some chick I'm pondering having kids with. I've got a small case of mental whiplash.
Beth: Focus. So, would you?
Me: Can I ask why we're talking about this?
Beth: Because I'd hate to push the whole vasectomy thing if you might actually need that ability again.
Me: Crap. I hadn't thought of that nor did I want to but now I'll have to.

I left the question unanswered because a) mental carcrash without an airbag b) holy hard question, Batman and c) that's fucking depressing. The question required a lot of theorizing that I'd rather not do plus it's a cascading questions - a question that requires many other questions to be answered and may cause your head to explode. Like, how the fuck do I keep my shit together much less Mia and Owen, should something happen to Beth? Does New Wife have kids? Do I want more? Does she want more? Is she hot (I know, off topic but the mind wanders)?

Beth and I are done having kids. In fact, if we had any more, you'd find me in my darkened basement in a fetal position rocking back and forth mumbling pointlessly and helplessly cursing our virulent and highly productive nether regions. Our hands are full, both literally and metaphorically. So I noodled the vasectomy thing around in my head for a while and came to the firm conclusion that I was going to buy a few bags of frozen peas and go under the knife. I mean, neither I nor my scrotum are thrilled by the idea but it's the least I can do. Beth endured two major surgeries to bring Mia and Owen into the world. Getting a snip in the ball sack is the least I can do to hold up my end of our reproductive (or non-reproductive) bargain. Though I will admit I recoil when I think about it too hard. But really those better be magic peas made from a spell cast by genital-free wood nymphs with the power to rid balls of all pain. Or there better be good drugs available.

What I'm trying to say is that - regardless of the what ifs in life - I don't think I'm going to change my mind and do an about face. My vas deferens aren't going to get a last minute reprieve. But Beth's question is a good one. Because having a ball-sacectomy has a certain implication of permanence. Kinda like the tattoo artist who, back in 1986, asked you, "do you really want a full body tattoo of the band Night Ranger because one day that might be kinda uncool?"

Given similar circumstances, what would you do? And if you go the way of Elvis (assuming he's dead which I'm not sure I buy), what do you hope happens after you're gone?

Posted by Chris at 7:17 AM | Comments (72)

June 9, 2008

Signs of Summer

I grew up in Texas. Summer was something to be savored even though it was - literally - hot enough to fry an egg on the street. And summer - not the true season according to the calendar but the overall experience - was long. It started in April and ran though the end of September. As a result of all that summer, there are lots of things that mean summer to me.

  • heat and humidity
  • tick tick tick of sprinklers shooting water over hot grass
  • low hum of lawnmowers' engines
  • water-like mirages of heat coming off the streets
  • the smell of chlorine and the accompanying sting in your eyes
  • sunburn and the smell of aloe and bactine
  • the coppery smell and taste of water fresh from the tap
  • hum of an ice cream maker being fed rock salt on the back porch
  • buzzes of cicadas interrupted only by the calls of grasshoppers who took over at dusk
  • sounds of the ice cream man's truck rambling through the streets
  • distant sounds of splashing and screaming coming from pools throughout the neighborhood
  • stubbed toes and skinned knees
  • the smell of grills, fired up and cooking hamburgers
  • the smell of beer on my dad's breath
  • absolute, complete exhaustion at the end of the day

For the first time since the weather turned warm, it's possible we actually spent more time outside than in. As it should be. On both Saturday and Sunday, we filled up Mia's little pool and chased each other through sprinklers. We were hot and wet and tired and filled up with energy as we were absorbing it directly from the sun. Or from the 3,402 popsicles we ate. And each evening we collapsed into heaps, utterly spent. It was a weekend that brought back almost all of my childhood memories of summer and I got to see them through Mia's eyes. And maybe even Owen's.

I got my first taste of unassisted solo parenting of two children. It didn't go nearly as badly as I'd expected. Sure, there was screaming but only on the part of the littlest Cactus. Not me. So that's a plus. We spent the majority of that morning - like the rest of the weekend - outside. Owen watched his big sister display her artistic talent for all the world to see using her sidewalk chalk. Then he got dragged through the sprinkler just like the rest of us.

This is a weekend that I'll look back on for a long time to come as one that truly defined summer. What kinds of things define summer for you?

Posted by Chris at 6:23 AM | Comments (29)

Haiku For Monday #221

Don't wanna go to
work Mister Reality!
Now, fuck off post-haste.

Posted by Chris at 6:22 AM | Comments (3)

June 7, 2008

After A Long Week

Posted by Chris at 9:54 AM | Comments (23)

June 6, 2008

The Weeklies #39

The Weekly Weather. Tornadoes, high winds, tree carnage and power loss dominated the second half of the week. Luckily for all of us, we had a DVD copy of Cinderella and a juiced up laptop.

The Weekly Odometer Reading. Look, my car turned 44,444!

The Weekly Reads. In a startling turn of events, I have to admit that, while I'm most of the way through a book, I haven't actually finished a book since I recapped the week last Friday. Hey, it had to happen sometime.

The Weekly Music. I mentioned last week that Jame McMurtry was pissed. If that's an accurate assessment, then Richard Patrick is absolutely livid. Patrick's band, Filter, is back on the scene with Anthems for the Damned, a scathing condemnation of the war in Iraq and the administration that launched it. Even if you're not political, though, there's something to be enjoyed here. Patrick continues to move Filter away from the Nine Inch Nails sound of their early albums toward something that sounds almost like a hard-edged U2. A while back, I think I went out on a limb and said that Army of Anyone - a band fronted by Patrick with the DeLeo brothers from Stone Temple Pilots - was going to be huge. Well, they broke up with the reformation of STP but the new Filter album is the next best thing.

The Weekly Thank You. Yesterday I was wallowing in self-pity and not thinking all that highly of myself at least as far as parenting goes. Thank you for all the kind words and advice. You guys, well, you rock. But I hope you knew that already.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Whether she's willing to admit it or not (as yet, publicly, not), Hillary's not going to be the Democratic nominee in the 2008 presidential race. While I most certainly would have supported her had she gotten the nod, I've got to admit that I take some joy in her loss. I mean, how cocky was she going into this thing?

The Weekly Hypothetical. Here's the situation. There's a guy serving a life sentence for something horrible. But you and you alone know he didn't do it and you have the evidence to prove it. You're also armed with the knowledge that he did other horrible things for which he wasn't charged, will never be charged and won't ever be punished. Do you exonerate him for the crime he's locked up for but didn't commit? Or do you do nothing, knowing that he might never be punished for the crimes he did commit?

Posted by Chris at 6:38 AM | Comments (28)

June 5, 2008

Father Of The Year...Not

I'm a terrible father. Okay, okay, I realize that's not an entirely true statement but it is how I feel right now. And how I've felt for the last week or so. For some strange reason, I've been angry, not at any one thing, person or fact of life (though that Lisa Welchel chick pisses me off) but I've managed a sustained level of pissedoffitude right near the surface that bubbles up easily. Most often in reaction to something the kids do. And, thus, I feel like a terrible father.

Lately, Owen has driven me up the wall with his crying though it's so much less than Mia ever complained when she was his age. And he's teething. There's no reason it should aggravate me as much as it does. The other night, Mia woke up about 45 minutes after I'd fallen asleep. I walked in, pissed off, to find her sitting on the edge of her bad, scream-crying. I'm sure I sounded mean when I asked her several times, in a stern voice, what was wrong then unsympathetically told her to get back in bed and lie down. All she wanted was to sit in my lap and hold on to me. Which is what eventually happened but not before I'd gotten 100 shades of pissy.

I love my kids something fierce. I love Owen and his Harrison Ford smile and newfound giggle. I love Mia, her narration of her every move as if she was reading a story about herself, and her inherent quirkiness. I love everything about them but despite that my tolerance for them seems to be so low. The problem is whenever I cop an attitude, I feel immediately bad about it and I also realize that its not the attitude I want them to see from me. Which, of course, makes me feel as though I've failed in some spectacular way and that they somehow pick up on that and feel unloved which makes me feel even worse thus beginning a downward spiral into self-loathing.

So, today, I kinda feel like the worst father to ever walk the planet. Realistically, I know that's not true but that fact doesn't make me feel much better.

What do you do when you're frustrated beyond belief? What are your tricks? And I'm not alone, right? Please tell me I'm not alone.

Posted by Chris at 6:31 AM | Comments (59)

June 4, 2008

When Angry Blind Men Pee

Since starting this site and becoming something of a freak magnet, I've found myself in a unique and somewhat unenviable position to report on bathroom etiquette most of which I have learned - for good or ill - through first hand experience. Allow me to recap what I've learned over the years.


  • Pee
  • Poop
  • Wash your hands

Do Not:

  • Eat or drink. Consuming foodstuffs of any variety is just plain wrong. Even if you've been starving in the Sahara and stumble into a bathroom only to find a buffet, there's no excuse.
  • Multitask. We already addressed eating but worse than eating is eating and talking on the phone while doing your thing. Or brushing your teeth while taking a leak. Do one thing and do it well.
  • Allow your pants to fall down around your ankles.
  • Talk on your phone. No one wants to hear your side of any phone call while you're in the bathroom. And I'm pretty sure there's no one who actually wants to be spoken to from the bathroom.
  • Engage in spontaneous conversation.
  • Laugh hysterically at your own farts.
  • Wear clown costumes. That level of freaky is just uncalled for.
  • Break into classic Aretha Franklin songs.
  • Be a crossdresser.

Despite all this knowledge and somewhat regrettable personal experience, nothing really prepared me for the conundrum I faced today. When you find a blind man in a restroom peeing into a trashcan, do you say something? I realize this sounds purely hypothetically - like what's the sound of one hand clapping or does the Pope shit in the woods - but I assure you it is not.

Now, the guy was blind and the trashcan was one of those wall-mounted things with a paper towel dispenser above it so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt about how he happened to get into the situation. But what do you - an innocent yet deeply unlucky individual - do about it? Do you say, hey blind guy, you're peeing into a trashcan or take his arm and lead him to a urinal or do you do absolutely nothing and let him wonder how his shoes became so wet? I said something, something along the lines of excuse me but I believe you must be in the wrong location for that. Okay, so, sure it was a pretty awkward sentence but how do you phrase something like that? His response? Mind your own fucking business, perv. So despite every passive aggressive instinct I had which involved shouting something about his nether regions and peeing on his shoes, I did as he asked. And I left.

Now, what would you do? What's the polite way to go in that situation?

Posted by Chris at 6:32 AM | Comments (45)

June 3, 2008

I See London, I See France

Before I dive into today's post, I need to explain myself. In the timeless, age-old debate between boxers and briefs, I clearly come down in favor of boxers. Hands down, every time, as you shall see. I've got no love for the tighty-whiteys. They're uncomfortable and restrictive and they shall not darken my underwear drawer.

I bought new boxers over the weekend. Okay, I understand that your initial reaction is probably somewhere in the vicinity of the Greater So-What Metro Area but this is a blog-worthy event to be sure. To prove it, I now reveal to you the contents of my underwear drawer.

Figure 1. Seasonal sweat-your-balls-off boxers. Yes, they're festive but they're toasty.

Figure 2. To the designer of button-fly boxers - this was not your finest moment. My wang falls out of these.

Figure 3. Sure, silk is sexy and sophisticated and I do love these. I'm just not sure silk is the way to go for everyday wear.

Figure 4. Ruh-roh! Tigger and Scooby. I love them but they also fall into the silk category.

Figure 5. Are those hot peppers on your underwear or are you just happy to see me? Muy caliente!

Figure 6. Older than my daughter.

Figure 7. Older than my relationship with Beth. We started dating in 1993.

Figure 8. Onesical, twosical. My boxers are Seussical!

I'm averse to change by nature and, apparently, this trait extends to my underwear. I think you understand now why the purchase of a few new pairs borders on a life-changing event. Of course, I had help. I've come to learn that Beth was secretly throwing out a pair or two when I wasn't paying attention. Sometimes we all need a good shove.

Now it's your turn. What's your preference - boxers, briefs, panties, thongs? Or are you a commando kinda person? What's your favorite pair or your most embarrassing?

Posted by Chris at 6:22 AM | Comments (57)

June 2, 2008

Cannonballing In The Puddle Of Life

I'd be lying if I claimed that this was the best weekend ever. I mean, it was good. Above average, in fact. But I was in a crappy mood through much of it so I'm sure it could have been better for everyone involved. I blame the 8,961,448 things that I've somehow got to get accomplished before 3:00 this afternoon. That's neither here nor there.

So what did we do?

On Friday night we watched Lost. It was great, sure, but I'd been more blown away by some of the previous Lost season closers. Of course, despite the fact that for each question the show answers, it asks about a dozen more, I'm still hopelessly addicted to the show.

On Saturday, I woke up nice and early and mowed the grass. Damn, how suburban of me. With this newish yard, it's not a task that's accomplished quickly. It didn't help that I was simultaneously attacked by gravity and a bush. Our front yard is on a hill and it's lined, on the street side, but three large bushes. I lost my footing and the lawnmower conspired to push me right into one of the bushes. I fell on it, then into it. Luckily I cut the motor before it hit me. But it kinda sucked when the branches of the bush became lodged in my back. Hurt like a motherfucker, in fact. And left a mark.

The afternoon was focused on my niece's first birthday (fun, a mob scene) and the fact that I whipped up the most perfect summer meal ever - homemade baked beans, corn of the cob, fresh tomatoes chilled with balsamic vinegar and freshly sliced watermelon. And beer. Once both of the short people were in bed, we watched a movie (The Illusionist). Can I tell you how long its been since we've watched a movie at home? No. I can't remember that far back.

On Sunday, we all woke up early and headed to Home Depot. Owen and I both had minor meltdowns so Mia and I dropped Beth and Owen off at home and we headed back to Target where many things were purchased. Mia's new sidewalk chalk came in handy when she hung out with me outside whilst I built a new extension to our patio. For future reference, slabs of slate are fucking heavy. Especially the piece I lost control of when I had it hoisted above my head. No major head trauma, I don't think, but I seem to be randomly losing the ability to use vwlls nd nly rmmbr cnsnnts.

I'm happy to report that the weekend ended on a wonderful note that transcended my shitty mood. We filled up Mia's little pool in the backyard and we all got in. Sure, it was a little cramped because it's about five feet in diameter and maybe a foot deep. But it was fun. Then I cannonballed in it. Repeatedly. After which we had pancakes for dinner. And I had beer with them. After which Owen laughed his first, hardcore laugh. It was hilarious. It was righteous.

Posted by Chris at 6:10 AM | Comments (21)

Haiku For Monday #220

"Won't you take me to
Monkeytown?" What are the odds?
I'm already there.

Posted by Chris at 6:09 AM | Comments (2)