October 31, 2008

The Weeklies #60

The Weekly Really Stupid Gadgets. Are you starting to get a little worried about what to give to your friends and relatives this holiday season? Well, if they like complete and utter crap, you're in luck. Take for instance the retro handset for a cellphone which is completely, well, counterproductive and useless. You could always pick up the USB thumb drive shaped like an actual thumb. Or one shaped like cabbage. Finally, if you've got any family members who are just crazy about the limbo but are tired of setting up those pesky limbo bars around the house, you're in luck - check out the Limbo String.

The Weekly Read. John Sandford is pretty amazing. He somehow manages to crank out about a book a year across three different series and none of them suck. Dark Of The Moon is the first of a new series featuring quirky yet impressive investigator Virgil Flowers, introduced in one of Sandford's Prey novels featuring Lucas Davenport. Davenport makes brief appearances on the phone but Dark Of The Moon is really a separate entity entirely. While the Prey novels use Minneapolis-St. Paul as their stage, Dark Of The Moon is very rural, very small-town. I was expecting a sub-par Prey knock-off but what I got was a really engaging mystery with a very likable protagonist. I really have no idea how Sandford does it but as long as he keeps writing, I'll keep reading.

The Weekly Music. Probably the most anticipated album released this week was Snow Patrol's new one, A Hundred Million Suns. When I reviewed their previous album, Eyes Open, the week it came out, I think I drew comparisons to its predecessor and declared that Eyes Open wasn't nearly as good. Then I listened to it a couple million times because it's addictive and grew to like it better. If I had to guess, I'd say the same thing will probably happen here. Snow Patrol hasn't invented a new formula, just produced more of the same without ever sounding stale or bored. The songs are well-crafted with great hooks. The only slight exception is the 16-minute The Lightning Strike. Instead of being some grand epic (which I'm used to being a progressive rock fan), it's more like a suite of three fairly strong songs. The lyrics of the third section put it best - all these broken pieces fit together. And they do, throughout the album. Bottom line? It's great, buy it.

The Weekly Time Waster. Know your geography? Prove it!

The Weekly Photo.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Just when you thought Madonna couldn't get any worse, the marriage contract she made Guy Ritchie sign has hit the internet. Why so bad? Included are the following requirements - Guy must work to enrich his wife’s emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Guy must devote several hours a week to reading Kabbalah texts with Madge. Guy must only use certain words during arguments to resolve conflicts in a constructive way. Guy must never shout and instead say, 'I understand that my actions have upset you, please work with me to resolve this.' Guy must devote time to sex sessions and not use sex as a stick to beat one another. Nothing says love like you are required to do me.

The Weekly Hypothetical. Trick? Or treat?

Posted by Chris at 6:33 AM | Comments (34)

October 30, 2008

When Camping Goes Wrong

I've talked about my friend Adam in the past. I even mentioned him the day before yesterday when talking about high school and cliques. That, of course, got me thinking and sparked a memory of one of my many Adam Experiences. There were many and they were often grand, hence the capitalization.

During our senior year, Adam and I went camping a lot. I think it had something to do with the fact that he didn't really get along with his parents and I, well, I had no sense and just enjoyed hanging out and seeing what Adam would do next. We'd take a canoe, a tent and supplies up the Potomac River into the absolute middle of nowhere for a night or two. We'd generally find a small island in the middle of the river to set up camp or an uninhabited piece of riverbank, build a big fire, eat MREs and generally just be stupid. Adam and I were awesome at that.

One Friday, after school, we loaded up Adam's Ford Escort wagon (we called it his Stretch Escort and boy could I tell you stories about that car) and headed out to camp. Almost immediately, we got a flat tire. We changed it and continued the trip but by the time we got to the river, it was already getting dark. We decided to put in and try to find a campsite anyway. We navigated by flashlight and after a few miles, we found the closest abandoned riverbank and pitched a tent (heh).

Everything was fine until I had to take a leak. I wandered into the woods and, fifty feet in, tripped and fell into what felt like a giant roasting pan. It was, instead, a stainless steel tub. I stood up as quickly as I could and shined the flashlight around the area. I'd walked more than fifty feet, apparently, from the woods into a large room. The brick wall separating inside from out had crumbled. Grass, leaves and dirt covered the floor. A now-useless window, glass remarkably intact, lay next to a fallen tree. The room itself was covered with what must have been, at one time, white tile. It was grimy and gray. Scattered throughout the room were more stainless steel tubs. I didn't pee. I turned around and ran in precisely the opposite direction using the fire we'd lit as a beacon. I told Adam what I'd found. Which of course turned out to be a mistake (because this was the guy who hit road signs with his car to see which way they'd fall). We returned to investigate.

We grabbed a couple extra flashlights and I took a gas lantern and headed back to the room. Everything was as I'd left it but in the increased light, it looked truly eerie. A steel door, falling off its hinges, was open inward. On it was a still legible sign that read Hydrotherapy. I turned to Adam and, as usual, he didn't pick up on the clues.

"This is an insane asylum, dude." I said.
His response - "No way."
"Way." We were eloquent in those days.

And against my better judgment, we went exploring. We exited the steel hydrotherapy door to see a long white-tiled hallway stretching out in front of us, rooms on the left and right. We were obviously in some sort of treatment wing. Doors bore words like Electro-Convulsive Therapy, Insulin Shock Coma Therapy, and Occupational Treatment Orientation. These frightened me to my very soul yet we kept walking. We walked through surprisingly intact double doors into a lobby which looked as though it had been snatched from a documentary on Art Deco architecture and dragged through mud puddles. It was both gorgeous and terrifying.

And there, stopped in the lobby taking all of this in, trying to force my eyes to reconcile what I was seeing with my brain, we heard footsteps. We hid but like idiots we neglected to shut down our flashlights or the lantern I was holding. And then, from the same direction as the footsteps came a voice so twisted and frightening, I still have nightmares about it to this day. It was screechy, sounded at once old yet powerful, with a decided Southern twang.

"I'm the care taker. Come on and let me take care of you." the voice said, echoing down the tiled halls.

At that instant, Adam and I looked at each other and mouthed shit. And ran. We realized our cover was blown - or had never existed to begin with - so we ran as fast as we could without any regard for stealthiness.

"I'm the care taker! And I'm going to take care of you, motherfuckers!" Imagine to most insane-sounding, horrifying scream you can and multiply that by a thousand. With that scream motivating us, we made it to the campsite, ran past it and got in the canoe. We heard no footsteps following us from the woods so we decided to put out our fire, dismantle our tent and make as graceful exit as possible. We worked in silence but we weren't alone as we though. As our canoe pulled away from the riverbank, slicing the water behind it we heard echoing from the forest...

"Happy Halloween!"

* * * * * *

Okay, so, yeah I'm a day early carrying on my annual tradition of quickly writing a lame scary story but it was unexpected, right?

What are your best Halloween memories? And what's the creepiest, spookiest thing that's ever happened to you?

Posted by Chris at 6:37 AM | Comments (28)

October 29, 2008

Puppies, Not Presidencies

Mia: Daddy?
Me: Yeah sweetheart?
Mia: Is McCain going to be president?
Me: Uh, where'd you learn about this?
Mia: Don't know. Is McCain going to be president?
Me: I hope not.
Mia: Why do you hope not?
Me: Because I don't think he's the right guy for the job.
Mia: Why's he not the right guy for the job?
Me: Well, because I don't think he'd do a good job. I think he's part of the problem, not the solution.
Mia: We could help him do a good job.
Me: Yeah? How about we just vote for someone we'd think would do a good job?
Mia: Like Obama?
Me: Yeah. Obama.
Mia: But we could give McCain money and he'd do a better job.
Me: Sweetheart, I think the last thing McCain needs is more money.
Mia: Why?
Me: He has enough. And twelve houses.
Mia: Okay, then we can give him a puppy.
Me: That might make him less angry. But I don't think we should give him the presidency.
Mia: Okay. We can vote for Obama but give McCain a puppy.

Here's the deal. You know I don't like McCain. He's a follower, not a maverick. He'd extend the Bush dynasty by another four, or possibly eight, years. He's too old for the job and what's more he seems a little mean. So instead of giving him your votes, let's give John McCain a puppy.

Here are the facts: Puppies are much cuter and easier to take care of than the whole of these United States of America. And? Puppies are great for old people. After all, dogs are used for therapy in nursing homes and McCain's only a couple years away from one of those. McCain wants to drill for things. Well, dogs are great at digging holes. Instead of playing with that temperamental "nuclear football" McCain could toss around the old pigskin with Gipper or Dutch (or whatever he chose to name said puppy), thus avoiding the remote possibility of blowing the world into little tiny pieces. And speaking of the world, a McCain presidency would most likely take giant turds all over the world leaving his successor with the unenviable job of coming behind McCain with really big baggies to clean up the mess. A puppy would just take small shits in Arizona. Finally, if something should ever happen to McCain, let's face it, Sarah Palin is much more qualified to take care of a puppy than she is the Oval Office.


Who's behind me? McCain '08 - A Puppy Not A Presidency!

Posted by Chris at 6:08 AM | Comments (54)

October 28, 2008

Life - Like A John Hughes Movie With More Relevant Hairstyles

We're not in high school anymore. Painfully obvious, I know. But apparently to some, it's not clear.

When I was in school, I was one of those guys who had friends in just about every social clique imaginable. I had two "serious" girlfriends in high school. Both were cheerleaders. Or, rather, one was at one time a cheerleader until she gave that up to be a full time skank at which time I decided that the relationship was no longer as meaningful as it once was. I had three best friends - a wrestler and music fanatic who unfortunately moved after our freshman year; a girl named Sylvia who was pretty much me in girl form and we were, as a result, inseparable during our last two years of high school; and Adam who didn't even go to the same school and was a total fuckup but I loved him anyway. I had parties on hidden soccer fields with the jocks, played guitars with the musicians, was editor of the school paper, and was even in a bowling league with the heavy metal stoners. Though why people thought of them as the stoners I'll never know since the only people I ever saw do anything illegal, drug-wise, were the jocks.

I say this not to brag. I'm not trying to tell you that I was cool or a rebel or an all-around great guy. Because I'm sure I wasn't. But, in political terms, I have something of a history of reaching across the aisle. And I like to think that I still do. Because I think cliques and elitism are just plain stupid. Watch any old John Huges movie - Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off - and I bet that you can find how those lame old high school cliques are still alive and well in your every day life now. There will always be a John Bender, a Long Duk Dong, a Wendy Beamish, a Duckie, or a Lloyd Dobler.

I bring this up now because in recent weeks, I've gotten some comments and some email branding me something of an elitist blogger, an "A-Lister", self-serving, unable or unwilling to tolerate dissenting opinion or publish disagreeable comments. Let me state some things for the record.

What You See Is What You Get. Hi, world. This is my life. I'm not playing an angle, seeking attention or in any way profiting from writing about my life. Well, okay, maybe that's not accurate - I am profiting emotionally because it's cathartic to write this all down and also pretty nice to know that I'm not alone sometimes. But I don't make any cash. Instead, I actually pay to do this. How crazy is that?

Feel Free To Disagree. You're not required to agree with me. I mean, what fun would it be if we all saw the world the same way I do? I don't pre-screen comments before they're posted and I only remove comments that are blatantly offensive. I think I've removed one comment in the last year.

I Don't Know What An A-List Blogger Is. I suppose there are a couple obvious examples but I don't read many of them. Where you fit into the social strata of the blogosphere is kind of unimportant, to me at least. Unless you're just in it to be looked at, to be discovered. Some of the best writers I've encountered have criminally small readerships. Read who you want, don't worry about hanging with the cool kids. Hemingway, for instance, is undoubtedly an A-List writer. But I don't really like his stuff. I'm not going to sit around and pour through everything old Ernest wrote just so I can say I've read an A-List author. That's silly.

With those things in mind, I have a job for you:
- If you've got a blog, pimp it in the comments, lurkers and non-lurkers alike.
- If you know of a site everyone should be reading - your own or someone else's - open up the comments box and let me and the world know about it.

Posted by Chris at 6:27 AM | Comments (89)

October 27, 2008

Plop Plop Fizz Fizz

On Friday whilst at work I began feeling icky (the medical term). I shouldn't have been surprised or anything since half my office has been wiped out by the Great Crud of Fall 2008. It was just a matter of time. But still, it sucked. On Friday night I gave up playing it cool and started taking cold medicine (which, yes, I know doesn't really do a damn thing but it made me feel better at least mentally).

I woke up on Saturday feeling as though I'd been hit by a small car. Maybe a Honda or Toyota. Something compact. The day was rainy, windy and cool so I didn't feel like I was exactly missing anything by staying at home sniffling wallowing in my own illness. Some of it was kinda nice. I mean, I fell asleep on the couch not once or twice but three times. I made good headway on a John Sandford book but accomplished almost nothing else.

On Sunday, I was awakened by Mia climbing into bed with me, wrapping her arms around my neck. It was wonderful except it did force me awake and into the realization that despite the early hour neither Beth nor Owen were in bed. I found them in the guest room. Apparently my cold-induced snoring (who am I kidding - I snore all the time) woke Owen up and he kept crawling over to poke around inside my mouth. Instead of a small car, I felt like I'd been run over by a Mack truck but I'd promised Mia doughnuts and doughnuts I delivered. (Thank the baby jesus for drive-through doughnut places, by the way. I hope whoever thought that up won a Nobel Prize for Pastry or something.) Once everyone was awake, we headed to a local pumpkin patch to take a hayride, find some pumpkins and play in an enormous vat of corn. Seriously.

Anyway, we ran through corn, hitched a hayride, raided the pumpkin field for carvable pumpkins then returned home for lunch and naps which neither child took us up on. Of course, I fell asleep on the couch again, sadly for only about three minutes. The rest of the day was spent coughing and carving pumpkins. And somewhere around 8:00 I faded. I don't completely remember the rest of the evening. So let's just assume it was spent mostly comatose.

I'm not 100% this morning. Maybe only, like, 70%. Anyway, I'm working from home today and I plan on penciling in as much relaxation as I can.

What did you do this weekend? And have you been hit by the Fall Ick yet?

Posted by Chris at 8:22 AM | Comments (27)

Haiku For Monday #240

Cough cough cough cough. Ugh.
Ah-choo cough ah-choo cough. Fuck.
Tired of being sick.

Posted by Chris at 8:21 AM

October 24, 2008

The Weeklies #59

The Weekly Affliction. Colds. Both kids have colds. In case you're wondering, that's not fun for anyone.

The Weekly Reads. I read Blackmailer by George Axelrod. Written fifty years ago and finally republished, Blackmailer is a fantastic old-school thriller by the screenwriter of The Manchurian Candidate, The Seven Year Itch and Breakfast At Tiffany's. If you haven't heard of those movies, get yourself signed in over at Netflix and rent them. Posthaste! Anyway, Blackmailer was great, full of twists and turns, noir action and bad dames.

The Weekly Photo. It's supposed to look more like a witch than an evil gerbil with a funky hat.

The Weekly Bumper Sticker. Freedom Isn't Free. I know what you're saying but isn't freedom, by definition, uh, free?

The Weekly Bummer. The fact that I couldn't make it to Obama's Northern Virginia appearance. Apparently that was something of a mixed blessing as just about everyone else in the state turned out for it.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. The Republican Party spends a gazillion dollars on Sarah Palin's wardrobe while she gets her family to fly for free (on Alaska's citizens' dime) claiming they're all on "official business." And we're supposed to believe they care about Main Street? Oh, and no surprise but apparently Madonna is a whack-job, at least according to her soon-to-be ex-husband. Wait, a celebrity divorce? That never happens!

The Weekly Video Extravaganza

The Weekly Hypothetical. There exists what could be an authentically haunted house. You're offered $5,000 to spend the night in it. So long as you don't leave before dawn you can collect the money. There is no electricity, no lights, no entertainment of any kind. Do you do it?

Posted by Chris at 6:36 AM | Comments (66)

October 23, 2008

Freak Magnet or Freak?

Yesterday nearly kicked my ass. Hell, who am I kidding? Yesterday did kick my ass.

I started the day at six in the morning, working from home. I watched, horrified, as thirty emails - ones that I had to pay attention to and do something with - piled up in my inbox from the late night and wee hours. I had two very important back-to-back meetings for which people had been slaving most of the night and into the morning. I answered them, did all the worky things I had to do with them and, around ten, jumped in the shower, threw on my suit and headed to the dentist. No, I wasn't dressing to impress the dentist. Remember, those meetings.

Want to know what happens when you're a lazy son of a bitch and forget to floss all the damn time? You get to have something called root planing done. Sounds evil, doesn't it? That's because it is. Now, to my credit, I've been doing a month worth of hardcore flossing and I was rewarded for it by being absolved of having half the process done. That doesn't mean it didn't suck though. What do they do? Shoot you up with novocaine and scrape like rabid weasels under the gum line. I am so fucking hot. Anyway, it didn't really hurt all that bad and was much less of a big deal than I anticipated. After an hour and a half in the chair, I was done and made a mad dash for Monkeytown so that I'd be there at those important meetings when they happened.

I arrived in time - my compulsively early self was greatly relieved - and the meetings started as scheduled. Sounds like the day, despite the dental work, went okay, right? Not so fast.

What I've neglected to tell you is that, due to all that dental work, the right-hand side of my face wasn't working. I have a really high tolerance for novocaine so the dentist always jacks my ass up on the stuff. Which is great because I can't feel a damn thing. But it sucks because, for a fairly long period of time, I have virtually no control over my face. Hell, I couldn't even feel my nose yesterday. But in I walked to those important meetings hoping no one would notice that half my face was smiling while the other half was a perpetual frown. And no one did. For a while.

At the end of three hours, I thought I had it made. Sure, the feeling hadn't returned to my face but I'd somehow managed to defy the odds and talk like a normal person and I made a reasonable amount of sense in the process. And no one was even looking at me funny. Until the end of the meeting, that is. The end of the meeting when I got up, found a cold spot on my chest and traced it down to what could only have been one singularly extravagant drool puddle on my chest.

I fucking drooled on myself during a meeting. Drooled. On myself. In a fucking meeting. When exactly did I make the transformation from freak magnet to freak?

What's your most embarrassing moment? And sweet baby jesus tell me I'm not the only person who's ever done something like this. Even if you have to lie.

Posted by Chris at 6:58 AM | Comments (54)

October 22, 2008

How I Became My Dad And Other Harrowing Tales of Parenthood

My parents taught me to hold doors open for people, especially women. I have a reputation around the office for doing just that, so much so that occasionally the women I work with like to screw with me and insist on holding a door for me. They know it drives me nuts. (It does. Fucking nuts. It just doesn't feel right, like leaving the oven on before you head out on vacation.) Yesterday evening while leaving the office, a woman was on her way in using the same door I was exiting. I propped the door open, moved myself to the side and let her in.

"Come ahead," I said. And then, apparently, I got a strange look on my face.

"What is it?" she replied.

"Oh, nothing. I just realized that I've turned into my father."

"I know the feeling. I turned into my mom last week in a parking garage."

"So you know."

"Yeah. I do."

And with that she entered the building and I went along my merry way with the realization that I'd just confirmed what I already knew to be true - I have become my father. It's a very small thing but when he holds the door for people, that's precisely what he says. Come ahead. I know, I said it was a small thing. But it's really just the tip of the iceberg.

My dad and I are both very driven. We are, as a result, pretty successful but also very hard on ourselves. We're both a bit on the emotionally intense side too. We have long fuses but short tempers (if that makes any sense). We are both driven by the love of family around us and our highest priority is making sure that those loved ones are happy and safe. We're a little obsessive about that, actually. Both my dad and I are extremely punctual, compulsively so (when we flew places as a kid, we were at the airport a half day early and these were the days before long security lines and bomb-sniffing equipment). We love the same types of music. (Mostly. I honestly don't dig some of the new age stuff he listens to. I mean, dueling flutes and harps? Come on. I'd rather hear Kenny G being beaten with his own sax. New genre - smooth death jazz.) We're enthused by cool gadgets, are liberal in our politics, and have, at most, passing interests in the same sports. Except for golf. The only thing more boring than watching golf is watching someone watch golf. Our taste in books is very similar. We can both take a mean photograph.

Now, don't get me wrong. There are many ways in which we're very different. My dad was a math genius and a straight A student. He even went to the top of his industry which revolves around numbers. I failed algebra twice in high school (shut up), took as many English and history courses as I could and bluffed my way through the rest. I was lucky that I stumbled into a college that let me take music theory for math credit. Which is why I'm 35 and can't add. I somehow managed to squeak out a 3.0 GPA in high school and college. He was valedictorian, I was classkipatorian. He loves to fly fish, whereas I have absolutely no desire to stand waist deep in cold water flicking a fishing rod back and forth hoping to catch a fish that I'd just ultimately feel sorry for.

But despite any differences, the truth of the matter is that I can think of no one better to be than my dad (minus the few bouts of kidney stones he's had because I hear those are painful as hell and I'd be perfectly happy skipping those altogether, thankyouverymuch). It's just a strange feeling - almost like deja vu but in reverse - to have that sudden realization that you have, indeed, become your father.

Have you had any similar realizations? Who are you like and how? And are you happy about it?

Posted by Chris at 6:52 AM | Comments (36)

October 21, 2008

Silly Boy

I just tucked my daughter into bed. Just before she drifted off to sleep, she looked at me, patted my shoulder and said, "I love you silly boy." Now that, my friends, is what parenting is all about.

I love you too, silly girl.

Posted by Chris at 8:07 PM | Comments (17)

Fall Recollections from Dissider Bowes*

I don't remember everything I should. I am convinced that whatever part of my brain is responsible for filing the bits of my life away is somehow faulty and accidentally deletes every third or fourth thing. I'm reminded of the fact that I'm not alone whenever I heard someone admit that they have to think for a second before they're able to accurately answer how old they are, what they did last Thursday or how much money they make. I can't remember any of those without thinking. For the record I'm 35, last Thursday might as well have been 1983 and the money thing is none of your business. It's odd, though. When the weather turns cold, I'm flooded with memories.

I remember football. Every fall, every kid on my street would put aside whatever territorial differences existed and play football on Sundays. The games were always touch but they'd devolve into full tackle by the second quarter. It was just cold enough for your hands to hurt which made catching the football - already a challenge for small hands - tough. We became intimately familiar with the texture of the football smashing into our faces, the feel of the cold hard ground on our backs, the scraping of jeans on the brittle brown grass. We'd limp home for hot chocolate, nursing our wounds, in time to catch whatever real football game was on that afternoon.

When the weather turned cool, the mosquitoes died and the thick underbrush around the bayou just beyond our neighborhood disappeared. Each fall, several of us would venture into it, walk the barely-trod paths on top of the small cliffs that rose above the water. It was an adventure only possible for two months a year. During the summer it was too hot and the bugs were terrible. During the winter it was cold and wet. So during the fall we explored the bayou trying to find proof that it was indeed haunted as we'd long suspected. We never discovered any definitive proof but we creeped ourselves out in the process without fail. For the bayou was always home to a serial killer or deranged lunatic. In our heads at least.

I was maybe 8 or 10, out playing with Bill. Bill was my best friend. We were born two days apart and lived down the street from each other. Bill came to my wedding and while I haven't seen him since, my mom makes sure I'm caught up on what's going on with Bill. Honestly, I really miss him. Anyway, I was playing with Bill down the street and my mom came out to tell me that it was about time to come in. I told her sure, I'd be in in a few minutes and asked if she'd make me some hot chocolate and put my favorite record on. I had dozens of the old LPs that had music and stories on them almost like recorded novelizations of movies. I have no idea what my favorite one was but I remember having a favorite and I vaguely recall what the cover looked like. A few minutes after making my request, I headed home, walked through the front door and instantly I remember being surrounded by this wave of, well, homeyness. The record was on, the snaps and pops, words and music coming from my dad's giant speakers and my mom came into our wood-paneled living room from the kitchen holding a cop of hot chocolate, complete with big marshmallows (though I preferred the small ones).

Aside from a brief return visit six months after I moved away from my old neighborhood 18 years ago, I haven't been back. And while I would like to show my wife and kids where I grew up, I'm not entirely convinced I want to go back. The few memories I've got that my brain hasn't seen fit to throw away are pretty good ones. I'm not sure I want to risk altering them.

What are your most powerful memories of the fall? And can you ever go home again? Without jeopardizing the memories you've held on to?

*When I was a kid, I called myself Dissider Bows. I'm not completely sure about that myself, but in retrospect, it sounds like my first and last names run together by a two year old without a firm grasp on the English language.

Posted by Chris at 6:05 AM | Comments (19)

October 20, 2008

Things I Learned This Weekend

This weekend seemed like it lasted either three hours or three years. That can be a mixed blessing. But I've learned a lot, such as:

Colds suck. Mia has a cold. I ended up cuddling with her in our guest bedroom both Friday and Saturday nights. She alternated between returning my cuddle and kicking me in the kidneys. I think I got a combined six hours of sleep over the weekend. I can't complain. Beth had it worse, as Owen slept no longer than a half hour straight throughout the entire weekend.

I cannot be expected to read even the shortest, easiest Backyardigans book at 4:00 in the morning without drifting off and accidentally creating new story lines.

Me: And then King Pablo went to buy a new crown and a beer with Vladimir Putin.
Mia: No daddy. Pablo didn't get beer.
Me: Who said anything about beer?
Mia: You did.
Me: Are you sure? Why are we awake at 4:00 in the morning?

I am a complete and truly dedicated asshole when I am deprived of coffee. I woke up on Sunday morning having gotten little to no sleep due to the aforementioned cold. And there was no coffee in the house containing caffeine. I thought for a minute that I'd try and fool my body by drinking a cup of decaf but I realized I wasn't giving myself enough credit for not being a moron. I spent the first four hours of the day wearing my hoodie (with the hood fully engaged) rocking back and forth trying not to mutter obscenities due to the splitting headache I had. My wife - bless St. Beth - returned from the grocery store with a ginormous cup of Starbucks. My recovery took about five minutes.

Colin Powell isn't quite the idiot I thought he was. After all, endorsing Obama despite what I'm sure was significant pressure from his own party was a pretty big deal.

Beer is good. I have no idea how I did without beer for so long but I'm ready and willing to admit that it was a terrible mistake. I pray to the gods of barley and hops that I am forgiven.

The pledge of allegiance can be insanely adorable given the right delivery. According to Mia, here's the pledge: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Steaks of Merica, and to the public for which it stands: one nation under God, invisible, with liberty and justices for all.

It takes a village. This weekend was a big one in our tiny little suburban hamlet. There were parades and celebrations and football games. And despite the fact that we live in a seemingly cold and far-flung metroplex the heart of which is our nation's capital, this little town we're in felt pretty small this weekend. In a good way.

My daughter is quite the songstress. Witness the following song she made up in response to Owen's crying.

Don't cry my Owen
I'm your family
And I love you
Like I love the bathroom
You are in my heart
And in my brains

What did you learn this weekend?

Posted by Chris at 7:05 AM | Comments (37)

Haiku For Monday #239

I kinda wish this
weekend had been longer. Then
again, kinda not.

Posted by Chris at 7:04 AM | Comments (4)

October 17, 2008

The Weeklies #58

The Weekly Headline. Don't worry, folks. I'm safe.

The Weekly Read. I will read absolutely anything Charlie Huston writes. His Henry Thompson was insanely excellent as is his ongoing Joe Pitt series. Sure, the Pitt series is all about vampires and I'm not at all a vampire fan but it's possibly the most compelling way in which vampires have ever been fictionalized. Evidence? His latest novel Every Last Drop. While it might not be as strong as some of his previous novels, it's still damn good. I'd encourage you to read the Henry Thompson trilogy (Caught Stealing, Six Bad Things, and A Dangerous Man) then start the Pitt series (beginning with Already Dead.

The Weekly Best Debate Watching Tool. Twitter. Seriously, Twitter is an awesome thing to keep your eye on while the debates are going down. Bet you're happy I clued you in to that now that the debates are over, huh?

The Weekly Desktop. I love an uncluttered desktop. And I've finally rearranged everything on mine. I'm not a particularly religious person but, of the thousands of photos I've taken over the last few years, this one is one of my absolute favorites.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Me. Did you know that the statue of David isn't in the Louvre? I didn't. My art-history-degree-having wife pointed out that David and his chiseled manhood actually resides in Florence. I hereby correct my post yesterday and stand corrected. Oh, also? Ringo Starr. He got on television and told fans never to send him anything again. While I'll admit that 40+ years of being hounded by fans must get old, you don't have to be an asshole - excuse me, arsehole (he's British) - about it.

The Weekly Picture. This has a very zen quality to it and also feels very fall.

The Weekly Hypothetical. (Paraphrased from a fantastic question by Chuck Klosterman) You can a) live your life according to the rules and morals that you agree with or b) change those rules and morals that currently exist so that they would apply to you and everyone else. Which do you do and why?

Posted by Chris at 6:18 AM | Comments (23)

October 16, 2008

All The News Part 2: An Ode to Tipper Gore

A few weeks ago, I revealed that I was the editor of my high school newspaper. Then I reprinted one of the editorials I wrote 17 years ago. And since you guys seemed to dig it - though it was slightly embarrassing for me - here's another. Today's topic - music and censorship.

Have you ever wondered why small groups of people seem to think that they have the right to make decisions for us concerning our life? Shouldn't we be able to make our own choices about right and wrong?

In the mid 1980's, an awareness group was formed by Tipper Gore. That group transformed into the nationwide group who call themselves the Parents Music Resource Council, the PMRC. Mrs. Gore was inspired when she walked into her son's room and heard a far-from-hit-single by the band WASP. She turned her life into a crusade to do away with seemingly harmful music to protect the younger generations.

The PMRC recently got its hands dirty with groups such as 2 Live Crew and Judas Priest. The threat of evil doings has always been a part of heavy metal and rap to some degree. Everyone in the PMRC has always been afraid to listen to Alice Cooper or Black Sabbath. Other such artists have also been blacklisted by the PMRC in recent times. They have involved the artists, record companies and record store chains across the country.

One of their latest victories has been record labeling. Parental warnings and explicit lyrics labels can be found on a lot of recent releases from metal to rap. It's not all bad if you're opposed to explicit lyrics or subject matter. It serves as a warning. but to record distributors it serves as an unnecessary expense. The cost of the labels has also surfaced in the ever-rising prices of tapes and compact discs.

The resentment towards the PMRC has gradually blossomed over the years. And rightly so. The majority of people in this country resent the fact that there are others making decisions that we should be making for ourselves.

Due to pressure from the PMRC and other community action groups, several local chains actually refused to stock or advertise 2 Live Crew albums. In some areas of the country, an avid record buyer must be 18 or older to buy a labeled album.

As a while, the United States has always been a fully democratic society. Freedom is treasured and among those freedoms is the right to listen, read, or watch what you want. Anybody who thinks they can take the right of self-expression away is wrong.

With the development of so many groups fighting for so many different causes around the world, it seems almost pointless to try and have a record banned because two or three people didn't like the lyrics. From the Salem witch hunts to the MacCarthy trials, we have hopefully learned that the condemnation of people or their ideas never works. Suppression has always led to uprisings whether it's the Civil War or strikes. Some people might claim that our society is becoming too violent or teenagers are becoming too rebellious but banning a few records won't help.

I've always heard that if you take something away from someone, they're only going to want it more. Neither the PMRC nor any other group of its kind has the right to take away our freedom of self expression or our right to believe in that self expression.

One day I'll look back at the stuff on this site the same way I look at all the stuff I wrote in high school and think man, I was a little juvenile and a lot idealistic. I already feel that way with some of my earliest entries. What really makes me chuckle is how bad we thought things were back in 1991 when this was written. This was, of course, before the Janet Jackson Effect - the point at which nearly everything questionably edgy became taboo and banned from the television or radio airwaves.

I loathed the PMRC. I thought Tipper Gore and her WASP-hating pals were pure evil. I wanted to drown them in a vast collection of death metal cassettes and hair metal-grade AquaNet. It seemed wrong to censor or label albums just as it would have been wrong to walk into the Louvre with construction paper and tape and cover all the naughty bits of famous works of art. Not that Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was at all on par with the statue of David. I was so incensed I even wrote a song with my band called An Ode To Tipper Gore. It was a bluesy little number and the lyrics went a little something like this:

Fuck fuck fuck fuck
fuck you fuck you
Fuck fuck fuck fuck
You fucking suck ass

Catchy, don't you think? Not Top 40 material, but catchy.

I'm older. I have two kids. I'm ready to admit that I can now see some of the wisdom in what they were trying to do. I was watching CSI the other night (seriously one of the worst shows on TV that I can't help but watch) and I actually found myself thinking that it should be on an hour later in the evening. That show is disturbing to me - both the terrible acting and the violence - so I can't imagine how horrific it would be if my daughter stumbled onto it. Still, parents are the ultimate defense for their kids - the ultimate censors - but I guess the media and the groups that police the media have a role to play. My 17 year old self sure didn't think so. But times change. I have questions though.

#1. Why is violence on television okay but sex is not? You can see someone beheaded on television but god forbid someone flash some boob.

#2. What did you think was hot shit or edgy when you were a kid that seems so tame now?

Posted by Chris at 6:58 AM | Comments (39)

October 15, 2008


My site is not a political site. It's about me. I'm narcissistic like that but then, I paid for it, I built it and I write it. I've always loved and been interested in politics. Politics is a part of me, this site is about me, therefore, on occasion, I write about politics. If you've tuned in for any amount of time, you know where I'm coming from. My political beliefs shouldn't be shocking. I've never hidden my flaming liberal tendencies.

Shortly after McCain announced Palin as his running mate, I became a little more politically vocal. And, in turn, so did quite a few readers, submitting comments or questions via email critical of my views.

First, I was told by several people that, while I was railing against McCain, I wasn't actually telling folks why they should vote for Obama. That's not my job. I can tell you why I will be voting for Obama. I can say, for instance, that McCain's health plan scares the hell out of me. There's no way the math adds up and more people - not less - will wind up without proper health care which, frankly, seems criminal to me. I can tell you that I'd like a democrat in the White House because during the last democratic administration we had relative peace, a record budget surplus and far less rhetoric than we've had over the last eight years. And I can tell you that, according to actuarial tables, McCain has a 75-85% chance of surviving his first term which, while not terrible, is a 15-25% chance that Whackjob Palin plants her ass in the Oval Office. And that, my friends, is a chilling prospect given that Palin's greatest contribution to the nation is a resurgence in Tina Fey's popularity. In fact, had I told you why you should vote for Obama, the same people would be critical of me for ramming my opinions down their throats.

Next, a week or so after one particular post, I was told by a couple of people that one particular fact I broke out in a post was proven false. And that I should print a clarification, a follow-up. That's not my job. I will always do my very best to make sure that what I say here is accurate. But I'm not a reporter and this isn't CNN. Getting your news from me is like acting on stock tips you get from the drunk homeless guy you pass on your way into work every morning.

Finally, I've been sporadically challenged over the past couple of weeks to battles of will and facts by Republicans. That's fine and dandy. I value your opinions and you guys have an open forum to say whatever you want so long as it's not blatantly offensive and, given my predilection for discussing midgets, hookers and crack, the bar is set relatively low. But, two things. First, don't expect me to battle the finer points of every argument. Second, don't blame me if I don't fire right back or refuse to engage. It's not my job to debate you or prove that my opinion is any more valid than yours. Don't say something like oh, I guess I shouldn't have expected a good argument from you since liberals just back down as soon as they hear facts. Because that's bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit. I had a half hour debate with my daughter last night about which pajamas she was going to wear to bed. If you're the parent of a toddler, you know that debate is a critical part of my life. Excuse me if I don't want to argue presidential politics with you. It's not because I don't have strong beliefs and it's not because I can't find a good argument to make. Frankly, people who think they can change my opinions bother me. I don't want to be that guy. And I have enough lively debate in my life as it is.

I really like Garrison Keillor, he of Prairie Home Companion fame. I love his show. I've even seen it live. But I absolutely loathe his poetry segment that airs weekday mornings on NPR. I loathe it with a fiery passion that burns with the strength of a thousand suns. It's the radio equivalent of Xanax and could literally not be any more boring. Listening to paint dry would be more exciting. When that spot comes on, I change the channel. I don't write to Keillor and question his sanity or intelligence. I don't tell him his love of poetry is stupid. I just change the channel.

A lot of the closest friends I've ever had are deeply religious republicans. We remain close because we have an understanding - I'm never going to be a good conservative Christian and they're never going to become liberal heathens. So why not skip the whole conversion thing? For me to attempt to argue someone into my own belief system marginalizes theirs by default. And that just pisses people off. Shouldn't we all be secure enough in our own systems of belief that we're not threatened when someone else thinks differently? Shouldn't we be comfortable enough in our own convictions that we don't need everyone else to think as we do?

Please continue to share your thoughts. Continue to disagree with me. Continue to tell me when you think I'm wrong. But also understand that I'm under no obligation to respond or engage. And I'm secure enough in my beliefs, in what I think is right, that I absolutely do not feel the need to defend those beliefs to everyone who challenges them. That's not my job.

Posted by Chris at 6:43 AM | Comments (65)

October 14, 2008

The Wizard of...What?

Mia: Daddy, what is bondage?
Me: What?
Mia: What is bondage?
Me: Bondage? Did you say bondage?
Mia: Yeah.
Me: Where did you hear that word?
Mia: What is it?

My internal monologue: Oh christ, where in the hell did she pick up bondage? What the hell does Beth do around here all day? Is this why the UPS guy seems so happy when he knocks on the door and so disappointed when I answer? And does this explain that metal-studded leather hood? I just thought Beth was really serious about hide and seek. Oh, no, wait...The Wizard of Oz.

Last week, and despite never having seen the movie, Mia started singing a song from The Wizard of Oz. I realized shortly after that we had the book. I asked her if she'd like me to start reading it to her. Now, I didn't hold out much hope since it's a long book and, being a toddler, her attention often wanes quickly. But after a week of reading a chapter or two at a time, we're halfway though the book. And Mia is fascinated.

Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz in 1900. The language is, therefore, stilted and dated with some parts reading like a modern-day description of a gay pride parade. Despite the presence of bondage, gay and queer getting a lot of play in the book, I haven't noticed any hardcore gay sex. And thank god for that.

When I recounted a certain conversation about difficult concepts I had with Mia a while back, I traded lots of email with many of you. The bondage discussion brought me right back to the same conclusions I came to then. When we talk to our kids, we pack those conversations with our own judgments and preconceived ideas, despite our best intentions. There's no reason queer shouldn't mean strange, gay shouldn't mean happy or bondage shouldn't mean slavery. It's my brain that transforms them into emotionally (or sexually) charged terms. Kids have no preconceived ideas. They just need the truth. The truth presented without our jaded adult preconceptions.

That said, separating my brain from the one my kids have is tough sometimes. And I'm guessing that, at some point, I'll have to explain something a bit tougher. Like actual bondage or hardcore gay sex.

(I'm sure going to get a lot of interesting traffic today.)

Posted by Chris at 6:20 AM | Comments (36)

October 13, 2008

Fire and Rescue, Heavy on the Rescue

Usually I end posts with questions. Today I'm starting with one. Is there ever a point at which parenting becomes any less physically or mentally exhausting? I'm hoping your answer is something like why, yes, there is and it always happens on October 13, 2008 at which point parenting becomes a magically refreshing activity and your kids begin to follow your every instruction and behave like perfect angels and even, as an extra-added bonus, sleep through the night. But I'm guessing that's not actually the answer. This weekend was awesome but it wasn't without drama or exhaustion.

A visit to the local fire station for their open house kicked things off on Saturday. Mia got to sit in the truck, blow the horn, play on the rescue boat and put out a fire with a real firehose. Oh, and there was a moonbounce. Hard to say which was the coolest. One thing we learned for sure was that the fire department's response to a real fire - thus emptying the station of fire trucks, equipment and firemen - pretty much sucks the life out of a fire station's open house. So we headed to the pet store where Mia ogled cute and not so cute things. Her response to almost everything - even the big scaly lizard - is awww, he's so cute.

On Saturday afternoon, we recruited my parents to come over, babysit the kids and Beth and I abandoned ship and went on a date. We went to a new Italian place and celebrated our anniversary. If you're curious, Beth had the butternut squash and walnut ravioli while I ordered the porcini mushroom pasta. We finished off the meal with chocolate mousse. Then we rolled ourselves home, relieved my parents of the kids, sent them home, got the kids to bed and passed out on the couch.

Sunday yielded yard work - what I hope to be the last of the yard work for the year - and an afternoon with both sides of the family. It was craziness. In a good way. But also a stressful way.

Parenting is awesome. Truly, one-hundred percent awesome. But it's the most tiring job I can ever imagine. Luckily, while the office is open today, I'm working from home. I'll be in a fetal position under my desk in the basement if you need me. In the mean time, regale me with stories of your weekends. And answer that first question I asked up there if you're so inclined.

Posted by Chris at 7:32 AM | Comments (44)

Haiku For Monday #238

Oh Chris Columbus.
A day named after you that
I don't get off. Boo!

Posted by Chris at 7:31 AM | Comments (3)

October 10, 2008

The Weeklies #57

The Weekly Way To Prevent You From Embarrassing Yourself In Front Of The Internets When You're Hammered. Google Goggles. Because it's important to stop drunk emailing.

The Weekly Political Observation. John McCain's old. Yeah, I know. That's pretty obvious, like the Pope being Catholic or Tom Cruise being insane. But, watching the debate the other night, it became astonishingly evident how old McCain is. Either that or he's slowly mutating into a turtle.

The Weekly Read. This week, I read a book called Hooked by Matt Richtel. And was I, as the title stated, hooked? Not so much. Don't get me wrong. The book was very well written and, while there were a few this could never happen moments, the plot was compelling and theories interesting. But there wasn't much to differentiate it from a half dozen other books I've read over the past few years. Should you pick it up? Yeah, sure, if you want something fast and entertaining and you don't require that it's 100% original.

The Weekly Music. Want to hear some good road music? So did an ad agency out in California. They took a normal, everyday road and sliced and diced it so that drivers going about 55 mph would be treated to the William Tell Overture. Check it out. You think they can get my street to play Freebird?

The Weekly Good Cause. Movember. No, that wasn't a spelling mistake. Let me allow the press release to explain it. "Participants in Movember (known as Mo Bros) start the month clean shaven, and along the journey of growing and grooming get people to talk about health issues normally avoided, at the same time raising money for the cause. Since Movember’s inception in 2003, almost 200,000 Mo Bros have sported a Mo and more than $29 million has been raised globally for prostate cancer research, including $740,568 raised in the United States last year. Movember is the biggest international event supporting prostate cancer." Am I going to do it? Probably not because Beth would refuse to speak to me and I'd look like a lame 70's porn star. But if you know someone who's taking on the challenge, be sure to support them.

The Weekly Photograph. Aarghh! It's the dread pirate Miller. Beerghh.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Everyone knows that McDonald's Happy Meals come with a free toy, right? Did you know that one of those pimps a convicted felon? Apparently one of the six electronic games offered up is "Michael Vick Football." Oops.

The Weekly Update On an Earlier Post. For those of you who dropped me a line commenting on the rumored forthcoming Guns N Roses album which shares a name with Wednesday's post, I'm happy to tell you that your 10 year wait (yes, ten years) might be over. Axl's Chinese Democracy will be released on November 23rd. That's a Sunday for those of you playing at home, not the standard Tuesday release. You'll only be able to pick it up at Best Buy.

The Weekly Hypothetical. You are given the power to stop time twice for one hour each time. What do you do during those two hours?

Posted by Chris at 6:38 AM | Comments (19)

October 9, 2008

Nine Years

Nine years ago today, Beth and I ended our six year shacking-up-in-sin era and, in front of a hundred and fifty of our closest friends and relatives (and a few people we invited but were convinced would never show), got hitched. Looking back now, comparing our lives then to our lives now, it's amazing that it's been only nine years. Just take a look at the differences.


I have to thank Beth for putting up with me. See, I'm not the most perfect husband in all the land. I don't listen very well. I don't always pick up after myself. I invariably leave my napkin in my chair after dinner each night. I never remember which nights of the week are trash nights. I'm pretty selfish with my time, I can be a real asshole, and have a quick temper on occasion. And I have to thank Beth for spending the last nine years (and the six before that) of her life with me. I haven't always made it easy. And of course I have to thank Beth for helping me bring two fantastic kids into the world.

I love you, Beth. Thanks for saying I do those nine years ago. And for picking me up in that bathroom sixteen years ago. (That's a story for another day.)

Posted by Chris at 6:19 AM | Comments (54)

October 8, 2008

Chinese Democracy

I like egg rolls, lo mein, fireworks, fortune cookies and really big (some would say great) walls. I was even glued to the Olympics this summer. But this weekend I found myself reading the fine print of every single apple juice label in the grocery store. Why? Because, while I like some things that come from China, I don't want my kids to ingest anything from China. And there's usually a little something from China in every bottle of apple juice. Like just about everything else.

Just take the crap on my desk. My phone? Made in China. My stapler? Chinese. Speakers? China. Computer? Yep, China. Scissors? Bingo, China. My cheap ball-point pen? Mexico (who knew the Chinese didn't have a monopoly on cheap pen manufacturing?). My belt, while technically not on my desk, also Chinese. My underwear? Chinese. (Note to self: never again remove pants to check underwear label while in the office.)

Over the past couple of weeks, the industrial chemical melamine has been found in Chinese-made milk-based products. These products have made 53,000 kids sick and killed four. Chinese-made products have been pulled from the shelves all over Asia after testing positive for melamine. And it wasn't an accident. The Chinese government has pointed its large communist finger at 22 companies. Those companies, it is theorized, watered down their milk products to yield more and added melamine - which boosts protein levels - in an effort to fool quality tests.

This is, of course, the latest in a long string of recalls and health scares involving Chinese-made products. Especially products for kids.

(Blogger's Note: Holy shit. I just realized that I'd typed, what, four whole paragraphs and I have absolutely no point whatsoever. What you are witnessing is the derailment of a post, people. I've jumped out of the plane but by cheap-ass Chinese-made parachute won't open! But I've never let the lack of a point stop me.)

Anyway, as I was saying before I was rudely interrupted, the problem doesn't stop with all the imported crap that's got real potential for hurting our kids. In June, it was calculated that the Chinese hold $922 billion in U.S. securities. (That number includes public and private debt - the Treasury securities China holds amount to around $491 billion. If you're economically challenged like me you just heard "blah duh bloo da dee". Just know that this is a shitload of money.) With all the recent economic instability, shouldn't we all be at least a wee bit concerned that a communist country with an atrocious record of human rights violations and an inability to manufacture safe products has us by the balls? Or, rather, 922 billion balls?

China kinda scares a little bit of the crap out of me. And I'm tired of buying crap that could hurt my kids. Boycotting isn't the answer. If we tried that, we'd be running naked through the streets cooking our Grade-A US raised beef over campfires, writing with Mexican pens. But I do think we can demand better. We can force the companies who sell Chinese-made products to test them. And we can encourage a little fiscal responsibility in our government. Maybe instead of bailing out greedy Wall Street tycoons we could take back a little control of our economy.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not some xenophobic asshat hell bent on closing borders to imports and making everything our damn selves. We long ago lost the capacity to make everything we need. But we all keep hearing about our reliance on foreign oil. How about our reliance on foreign crap?

(PS, did you watch the debate last night? What did you think?)

Posted by Chris at 6:26 AM | Comments (32)

October 7, 2008


Mia: Daddy, what's a prescription?
Me: It's medicine.
Mia: You take medicine?
Me: Yes, I take medicine every day.
Mia: Why do you need medicine?
Me: It's for my head.
Mia: Does your head hurt?
Me: Something like that.

Mia and I were standing in line at the prescription counter in the grocery store on Sunday morning. She was, for the most part, pacified by my explanation. And thank god (or whoever). I give my daughter all the credit in the world for being a smart kid but I'm not sure she's ready for the full answer. Or maybe I'm not ready to tell her. But mostly, I think the explanation would be too nuanced for her and she wouldn't be able to appreciate the fact that, on the whole, I'm fine. And happy.

I'll admit to you right now that I've typed and retyped the remainder of this post (and I'll probably retype this admission) because it seems nearly impossible for me to phrase this just right, in a way that I'm happy with. It's not a sensitive subject or difficult for me to discuss. It's not even something I've avoided talking about here. Instead, it's just another something in my life I deal with and move on. And it's also something millions of other people have faced; my experience is nothing special.

See, the prescription I was waiting for was for Paxil. I suffer from depression.

While other kids in college were discovering the joys of binge drinking and promiscuous sex, I discovered the joys of extreme, crippling panic attacks. Not quite as much fun as beer pong but an experience nonetheless. The panic attacks were followed by an extreme reluctance to leave my apartment except to attend class and even then my attendance record was miserable. Somehow I emerged from college with a future wife and a 3.0 grade point average so, on the whole, I did pretty well. In the intervening years I've done pretty well too.

I've resigned myself to the fact that I'll probably take medication of some sort for a long time. When I first started all this, some fifteen years ago, I thought of pills as a crutch. I've changed my mind. Whatever gets you through the day. Occasionally, I'm an asshat and forget to take meds for a couple of days. Or I grow convinced that I took them earlier in the evening and skip a dose not wanting to double-up. It's then that I realize how much they help. Without them, I worry and, as a result, I'm rigid and tense. With their help, I've come a long, long way.

And I don't want Mia to have a sad daddy. I'd rather her think that, just occasionally, my head hurts.

Posted by Chris at 6:43 AM | Comments (62)

October 6, 2008

Weekend Hangover

Sweet baby Jesus on ice (and seriously, who wouldn't want to go see that Icecapade show?) this weekend was busy. Not oh, yeah, we ran a couple of errands and played with the kids busy. More like hi, I'm the Jack Bauer of parenting and the Backyardigans have been taken hostage and we have only 24 hours to rescue them busy. Here's how the last few days played out.

I took Thursday off, primarily to attend Mia's preschool class picnic. I was looking forward to it, to see how she'd adjusted, how she acted in her classroom. Of course, she looked and acted like she owned the place. Unfortunately, her teacher revealed that she was still pretty sad at times during the day. Which sucks. I thought we'd mostly moved past that. I guess these things don't get solved overnight. After the picnic, we returned home, I sat in on a couple of conference calls and then we all played with wild abandon. Or something like that.

First thing Friday morning, Beth loaded up the kids and headed to a music class while I enjoyed an hour or so of silence. Seriously. I'm not sure I did anything beyond sitting on the couch listening to the sound of absolutely nothing. Maybe I read a book. That seems like light years ago so who knows. Friday afternoon, after no one had managed to get their sleep on and while Beth was treating herself to a well-deserved massage, Mia, Owen and I watched The Little Mermaid for, oh, about the billionth time. After the no-sleep thing, we decided against heading to the high school football game, thus averting a disaster of epic proportions.

Mia and I woke up, got our swim suits on and headed to our local indoor pool for round three of Mia's swimming lessons. She loves the water and, by association, the lessons. And it's something cool we can do together. So I love them. After the lessons, we raced home, got baths and showers, got dressed, had lunch and headed to the circus. Yes, Mia and I were circus-bound on Saturday afternoon. How was it? Thanks for asking. It was pretty cool. I mean, the circus itself is pretty cheesy but perfect for little kids. It was about two hours of perfection as far as Mia was concerned. Getting to buy a bag of cotton candy bigger than her body probably had something to do with it too. We arrived home, told Beth and Owen about everything we'd seen and spent an hour and a half developing our own acrobatic and tight-rope routines. Turns out I do a kick ass 360 Bootyshaking Spin of Doom. Get me, I'm circus people. About six Saturday evening Mia imploded from all the fun. The kids were asleep by 7:00. Beth and I relaxed as best we could with beer, wine, ice cream and DVDs of Arrested Development.

I'm afraid the excitement caught up with us on Sunday. Mia's interrupted slumbers forced us both into the guest bedroom and consequently I got little sleep. We both woke up grumpy. As did Owen. I wasn't witness to his night-time shenanigans but I have it on good authority (Beth) that he didn't get a lot of sleep either. Still, between fights about braids, jackets and "noisy shoes", Mia and I made it to the grocery store before attempting nap-time. Inevitably, the nap didn't happen but everything worked out alright. Because all four of us got to have dinner with Aimee of Greeblemonkey fame. Mia was so excited, she declared it Aimee Day and drew several portraits of Aimee in advance. (The portraits were originally intended as gifts for Aimee but Mia refused to permanently relinquish them after Aimee had touched them.) Aimee was awesome and dinner wasn't at all awkward in that whole hey, I've only read you on the internet so I have no idea what to say to you in person kinda way. And now Mia is totally in love with Aimee, even forcing me to email her immediately after we got home to find out her middle name.

So, uh, as I asked in today's haiku, what's the cure for a weekend-fueled hangover? Coffee? A greasy burger? Hitting the snooze and telling Monday to go screw itself silly?

Posted by Chris at 6:25 AM | Comments (24)

Haiku For Monday #237

I had a lot of
weekend. What do you take for
weekend hangovers?

Posted by Chris at 6:24 AM | Comments (5)

October 3, 2008

The Weeklies #56

The Weekly Best Idea I've Had In A Long While. Taking Thursday and Friday off.

The Weekly Music. If pressed to pick my favorite guitarist of all time, I'd have to go with Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. There's something about his playing that is ethereal, transcendent. Gilmour just released Live At Gdansk, documenting his live show at the Polish port city. Appropriately enough, the venue he played was a shipyard. Gilmour, with fellow Pink Floyd member and recently departed Rick Wright, play a fantastic concert comprised of Gilmour's latest album played in its entirety and, of course, Floyd classics. The show culminates with a fantastic version of Comfortably Numb which contains my favorite two guitar solos ever written. Live At Gdansk is available in multiple formats - CDs and DVDs. Find the one that you're most interested in and buy it. It's a great performance by a legend. And Rick Wright's final one.

The Weekly Read. I'm a big fan of the old-school pulp mystery novels put out by publisher Hard Case Crime. This week, I polished off Say It With Bullets. And I ask you, has there ever been a better mystery title? Written 50 years ago, the book was what you'd expect given the title. It was full of cheese, very pulpy with lots of intrigue and, of course, bullets.

The Weekly Photograph.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. This is too easy. You watched the debate last night, right?

The Weekly Not Quite Hypothetical. The economy, the bailout, and the stock market - wigging you out or unconcerned?

Posted by Chris at 7:51 AM | Comments (29)

October 2, 2008

The Agenda

I've done this before but I've gotten a lot of questions, comments and emails asking me exactly how I manage to do all I do in a day. As much as I'd like to finally reveal that I am able to bend the space-time continuum at will, I have to do everything the old fashioned way. I reveal to you my average daily schedule.


Of course, the schedule may vary based on the day. I've been known, for instance, to hit the snooze button 27 times in a row until Beth punches me in the kidneys. Turns out that's a painful but effective way to get me out of bed.

So, how do I get stuff done? Looking at that, I still have no idea. Though I have decent time management skills, I can't manage to keep a to-do list or planner (beyond my calendar and flagged messages in my inbox) to save my life. I am, in that respect, organizationally challenged.

What do your days look like and how do you get things done?

Posted by Chris at 7:08 AM | Comments (29)

October 1, 2008

Inside Joke

When I was a young, impressionable kid, there was this silly Maxwell House (I think) coffee ad on television. This was the mid-80s so I'm working off of memory and I know my details are shakier than an OJ alibi but here's what I remember:

A middle class home, middle class family, middle class clothes. It must have been after dinner or during breakfast because the entire family was seated around the kitchen table drinking big steaming cups of coffee. Someone made a positive comment about the coffee. Or maybe pointed out that it was decaf. The head of the household, hearing whatever comment had just been made, states, deadpan, "well, I guess I need a bigger mug."

Okay, okay. I'll admit, that sounds about as funny as Al Gore doing stand-up (I saw last comedy tour - called An Inconvenient Truth - but honestly, I thought the punchlines were weak and, frankly, it was a little too risque for my taste. Gore shouldn't work blue.). But the humor of the ad really came from the way in which the "bigger mug" line was delivered. Or maybe we were just high. Still, it cracked my parents and I up and became a go-to inside joke. If you were hungry in my house? You need a bigger mug. Need more of anything? I'll get you a bigger mug. Want more, uh, coffee? Let's find a bigger mug. Okay, the humor still isn't obvious but that's what makes an inside joke an inside joke. Trust me, it was funny.

Sometimes, though, I wonder how the bigger mug joke managed to survive the last twenty years, especially in the face of some other opportunities for potentially better inside jokes. Like the time my dad rushed out of the house in order to face off against the SWAT team. It was an uneven match since he was armed only with one powdered sugar doughnut. There was also that time he locked his keys in his car. Sadly, it was running. He went after the back window with an axe. The neighbors might have thought he was a little nuts. Once, a big jug of acid for our pool spilled in the backseat of my dad's Buick Land Yacht and I got to spend the better part of a year siting back there literally watching the road pass underneath us through the hole in the floor. Now that I think about it, my dad could have been single-handedly responsible for lots of good inside jokes but, for some strange reason, for years and even today, that bigger mug thing remains are go-to family inside joke.

I'm personally of the opinion that every family has an inside joke or two. What are yours?

Posted by Chris at 6:15 AM | Comments (40)