December 31, 2008

Resolution #9

For the past several years, I've shunned New Year's resolutions. It's not that thought I was already doing everything right but, rather, that I didn't need a specific day to pronounce what I intended to do with my year. But I've changed my mind. In 2009 I, Chris Cactus being of only marginally sound mind and questionable caffeination resolve to:

  1. Endeavor to be more patient.
  2. Provide as positive an example to my children as is humanly possible which, I'm sure, involves avoiding the f-bomb which fucking sucks.
  3. Own more than one pair of jeans that fit and do not have any gaping holes at any given time.
  4. Paint the basement.
  5. Tell my family I love them at minimum ten times a day but hopefully more like a billion. (To be fair, I'm already uber-liberal with the l-word.)
  6. Take more, better pictures.
  7. Sew up the front of my PJs so my wang stops falling out.
  8. Eat better.
  9. Drink more beer.

So, I showed you mine. Now you show me yours. What are your resolutions for 2009?

Posted by Chris at 6:39 AM | Comments (38)

December 30, 2008

The Yearlies: 2008 In Retrospect

The Yearly Person. Well, Owen of course. Owen joined our little family this year making slightly less little. Now he's a 10 month old little person who eats everything in sight and refuses to keep socks on.

The Yearly Worst Affliction. I'll go with shingles. Remember when I had those? That sure sucked.

The Yearly Ethnic Food. Mexican. Regardless of my level of consumption I've been craving Mexican for pretty much the whole year.

The Yearly Music. Here are my top ten in no particular order.

  • Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (David Byrne & Brian Eno). I always hated the Talking Heads. Absolutely loathed them. So why, now, have I developed an undying love for this album, the second collaboration between Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and everywhere-musician Brian Eno? Who knows. Maybe its simple - it's just damn fine hopeful music.
  • Vida la Vida (Coldplay). I originally knocked this album because I didn't get it. After a few listens, the light went on and I found out it was pretty damn good. You can knock Coldplay all you want but they can write good music.
  • Cardinology (Ryan Adams). Adams writes and releases, like, ten albums a year so its easy for one of his releases to get lost in the shuffle. Don't let Cardinology pass you by. It's fantastic. In fact it could easily be a career-defining album.
  • Harps and Angels (Randy Newman). Welcome back Randy Newman.
  • Stay Positive (The Hold Steady). I've made no secret of the fact that I think The Hold Steady might be the best band recording and performing today. Stay Positive merely reaffirms my position.
  • @#%&*! Smilers (Aimee Mann). A great return to form after the somewhat disappointing Forgotten Arm. Hell, an album featuring Dave Eggers with a whistle solo? Can't beat that.
  • The Seldom Seen Kid (Elbow). Elbow is just about the most underappreciated band on the face of the earth. Whenever I listen to them I feel like I'm being let in on a great secret.
  • Pretty. Odd. (Panic At The Disco). Yeah, it is pretty odd but it's damn good. Combine post-punk emo and Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles and you have Pretty. Odd. It's a good combination.
  • Accelerate (REM). REM's weird. At any given moment I either love them or hate them. Accelerate is aggressive and fantastic. Almost like they got fed up with the lush, soft productions they released over the last ten years. Good call.
  • Live Over Europe (Genesis). My love of Genesis - my favorite band - isn't a secret. When they regrouped last year and hit the road for a reunion tour, it could have been tragic. But it wasn't, as Live Over Europe proves. Sure, they sounded a little rusty from time to time but damn it was nice to hear them digging into their back catalog.
  • Certifiable (The Police). It's a shame the Police's reunion tour was a one-off because they sounded so damn good together, even after 20 years apart.

The Yearly Books.
  • The Unknown Terrorist (Richard Flannigan). I'm not exactly sure why but my mind keeps wandering back to The Unknown Terrorist. It wasn't exceptionally brilliant but is an interesting - and lasting - read. It was most interesting to me, perhaps, because it took place in Australia and, as the title would suggest, involve terrorism. Something that we often think starts and ends on our shores since 911. It doesn't.
  • The Delivery Man (Joe McGinnis). Vegas is a destination but aside from CSI, not a lot of time is spent on Vegas natives. Joe McGinnis paints a pretty twisted picture of at least a few of those citizens. It's not representative if the greater population, I'm sure, but it's a hell of a book.
  • I Love You Beth Cooper (Larry Doyle). Doyle's written a great, funny novel that reads like a John Hughes movie on steroids.
  • Flipping Out (Marshall Karp). Lomax and Biggs are back in Karp's third novel. And damn, it's good. You'll have to wait until April (I got an advance copy) but I promise it'll be worth it.
  • The Brief History of the Dead (Kevin Brockmeier). What happens when you die? Ask Kevin Brockmeier. In The Brief History of the Dead, he poses a particularly interesting theory and makes it seem convincing. Great novel.
  • Then We Came To The End (Joshua Ferris). Like the characters in the novel, I was caught up in the dot-com boom and the resulting bust and like many I got laid off. Perhaps that's why I appreciated it so much. But I'd be willing to bet that even if you didn't have these shared experiences, you'd still enjoy the novel.
  • Mixed Blood (Roger Smith). I've rarely run into a more brutal, disturbing thriller. It pretty much convinced me that I don't want to plan a trip to South Africa anytime soon. Though that wasn't really a new years resolution or anything.
  • The Dawn Patrol (Don Winslow). Winslow is brilliant. Absolutely, insanely brilliant. The Dawn Patrol may be his best novel but line it up with The Winter of Frankie Machine or California Fire And Life and it would be tough for me to choose a favorite. Damn. I think I might have to read it again.
  • The Memory Of Running and The Traveler (Ron McLarty). If forced to pick my favorite of 2008, I'd be forced to choose between two books by the same author. Odd how that worked out. Actor turned writer Ron McLarty's first two novels are extraordinary. I'd be hard-pressed to pick one over the other but if you need place to start, pick up The Memory of Running.

The Yearly Beverage. Beer. (I just looked at last year's year in review and my beverage of the year was Vitamin Water. What the hell has 2008 done to me?)

The Yearly Company to Whom I Managed to Donate A Lot of Cash. Disney.

The Yearly Schadenfreude. John McCain. Because I wanted Obama to win so badly, I, by necessity, took a certain amount of joy in watching the Straight Talk Express derail in such splendid fashion with the addition of Sarah Palin to the ticket. Don't get me wrong - McCain's a good guy. But I got tired of liberal being used as a bad word.

The Yearly Question. What are your bests and worsts of 2008? And if you had a moment in 2008 you'd like to do over, what was it?

Posted by Chris at 7:58 AM | Comments (24)

December 29, 2008

A Christmas Story

So, hi. Since we talked last, we've managed to make it through a major holiday and it now looks as though Toys R Us has thrown up in our house. Let's recap, shall we?

Christmas Eve began as two of the last three Christmas Eves have begun - in the doctor's office. Mia wound up with some wicked breathing problems, took a few tokes on a nebulizer and went on her merry way with a stocking full of steroids. Then we baked cookies. Later in the afternoon our parents dropped by for a full-contact cookie decorating session followed by dinner. A fantastic time was had by all but my were we wiped out. Which is why our merry asses were dragging like bowls full of jelly when Owen - not Mia, mind you, who was super-excited about the whole Christmas thing yet somehow slept - woke us up at 5:00 in the morning. I quickly sprinted downstairs to make sure Santa had made it and eaten all is cookies and milk then ushered the family downstairs.

Despite her repeated requests for "butterflies" (no other details given), Mia was thrilled by Santa's gift of a fish. Which she immediately named Dorothy.

It also appeared that Pixie Hollow burst and Tinker Bell and all her friends were jettisoned into our living room. Owen enjoyed himself too though he had to compete with Mia for use of his toys. Poor guy. But hey, he was happy.

We had Christmas dinner at my parents' place which, as usual, ended up being chaotic but fun.

Both the kids were thoroughly wiped out by the end of the evening and each crawled into bed without so much as a peep. A few hours later, Beth and I did the same. We vowed that Friday was a pajama day and that no one, unless they absolutely had to, needed to change out of their PJs. Mia was the last one standing trading one pair of jammies for another Friday evening.

On Saturday, Beth and Mia headed to a production of the Nutcracker while Owen and I hung out. Sunday? More hanging out. Yet, despite all this hanging out, I'm still tired.

Now, Beth and I did a really good job this year of explaining the various holidays and how they were celebrated and why. But it's quite possible that we gave Mia too much information. How else could you explain the celebration of baby jesus' birthday complete with "a Hanuka cake that lasts for eight days"?

So, how about you guys? What did you do for the holidays? And did you get anything good under your trees?

Posted by Chris at 8:05 AM | Comments (22)

Haiku For Monday #249

The greatest present
ever? Taking this week off.
That just rocks. Hard, yo.

Posted by Chris at 8:04 AM | Comments (4)

December 24, 2008
Posted by Chris at 7:35 AM | Comments (21)

December 23, 2008

Police Navidad

My daughter has a friend named Kevin. I might have mentioned him before, maybe used a different name but I'll just tell you straight out now that his name is Kevin. I know Kevin pretty well because I work with him. Maybe a year ago, Beth and Mia visited me at work. There, Mia met Kevin and was instantly taken with him. Nearly everyday since, Mia's asked about Kevin. Was Kevin at work today? Was Kevin in your meeting? Did you see Kevin today?

The other day after making and decorating cookies, Mia insisted that I take one to Kevin, make sure he had a good lunch before eating it and give him a hug. I gave him the cookie, in a meeting no less. I let him know about the lunch thing. We skipped the hug but shook hands instead. Kevin was embarrassed but touched and the women in the meeting cried over the cuteness. It was adorable. On Friday, Kevin walked in to my office, plopped a Winnie The Pooh gift bag on my desk and, before I could say a word, said it's for Mia and don't get all mushy or anything it's the least I could do. Inside was a coloring book and crayons but the contents were beside the point for me and I knew they would be for Mia as well. I could pretty much guarantee that Mia's head would explode. And it did. I was immediately ordered to assist in coloring. Mia didn't stop smiling the rest of the day. I mention this now only because it's about the best example of the holiday spirit I can come up with. Something that's pretty high on my list of Top 10 Things I Love About The Holidays.

10. Food. There is seriously a lot of good food around the holidays.
9. Presents. Yeah, I'm that shallow.
8. Christmas Carols. I'm a sucker for old school Christmas Carols like those sung by people with iconic first names - Frank, Dean and Bing.
7. Candy. A subset of #10, yes, but there's so much it deserves a category of its own.
6. Santa. A little tiny part of me still believes in Santa.
5. TV Specials. Remember those stop-motion animation specials that aired before many of you were born? I love those.
4. Snow. Some years we get lucky, others we don't.
3. Time Off
2. The Holiday Spirit. Like Kevin's.
1. Family. It doesn't get any better than family.

It'll be a little quiet here for a few days but I'll see you around soon. In the mean time, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a wonderful new year. I leave you with a Christmas carol Mia calls Police Navidad. It's too cute to correct. (Oh, and sorry for the poor quality but that doesn't impact the cuteness.)

Peace. Be well.

Posted by Chris at 6:33 AM | Comments (67)

December 22, 2008

The Weekend: Pictures, Snot and Tweakage

Sweet baby jesus its early. But I have lots of weekendy goodness to report so I'll plow forward despite a decided lack of coffee.

The first is moderately work related. I thought I was going to be working through the holidays on a Very Important Work Thingy (VIWT). It was something that couldn't be avoided. But as it turns out, someone is smiling down on me and my team. The VIWT won't need to be thought about until after the first of the year. Thank the baby jesus and god bless us everyone. I believe I might just be able to breathe and enjoy the holidays now.

In other news, Mia woke me up a little before five on Saturday morning. She wrapped her arms around me and said it's time to get up daddy and I said oh the fuck it is only I probably didn't say that as I do try and watch my language though I'm not always successful. I couldn't get her back to sleep so, as a consequence, when she napped in the afternoon, I napped with her. On Saturday evening, we went over to a neighbor's party briefly - during that rare Venn diagram-like period during which both kids were dressed and marginally well-behaved - and Mia was enthralled with their cat. She's allergic to cats but we'd be heartless bastards to make her stand five feet from a cat at all times and put her in a protective plastic bubble. So she played with the cat and all the Benedryl in the world couldn't stop the sniffles which, in turn, kept her awake which, in turn, kept me awake or, at the very least, in her bed keeping her company and encouraging her to blow her nose like some weird snot cheerleader. And when I'd finally returned to my own bed at 4:45 on Sunday morning, I managed 15 minutes of sleep before, as the previous day had started, I felt arms wrapped around my neck at five. Luckily, this time around, I managed to convince Mia to return to sleep. These sleeping configurations have left me in need of a five hour massage. Or traction.

Remember last week when I discussed how challenging it is to take portraits of two kids? Turns out that the overall level of difficulty increases exponentially when you're pointing a camera at three. Especially when Mia's involved. She's like this little ringleader getting all the other kids to goof off. And she's a ham. She's going to start a gang, I know it. A cute gang hamming it up for cameras, but a gang nonetheless. Despite this, we did manage to get one nice shot of Mia, Owen and their cousin together before the universe imploded and all opportunities were lost amid a sea of hyperactive, impatient children. There were lots of outtakes.

Proving that my kid is weird, after she'd had a good lunch on Sunday I asked her if she wanted a treat. She said yes. When I asked her to be specific, she claimed she wanted ice. Ice? Yes, ice. I got her a bowl full of ice and she put on her mittens and went to town.


Finally, after, what, five years I've finally decided to make a few design changes here. Nothing major. I'm averse to too much change. But you'll find the site looking a little tighter, a little more streamlined today. Whatcha think?

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (23)

Haiku For Monday #248

Christmas is almost
here! Two days of work and I'm
outta here. Ho-ho!

Posted by Chris at 7:11 AM | Comments (1)

December 19, 2008

The Weeklies #66

The Weekly Fatalities When Technology Strikes Back. Apparently three people in Japan have been killed by their foot massagers. What's next? Sex toys revolt?

The Weekly Read. Mixed Blood by Roger Smith has to be one of the most brutal yet compelling pieces of fiction I've read in a long long time. Set in Cape Town, South Africa, this thriller takes on affluence, the remnants of a country divided by apartheid, corruption, crime and gang violence. It's populated with unsavory characters, and even the more savory aren't necessarily deserving of the reader's sympathy. While this isn't for the faint of heart, I strongly recommend it. Pick up a copy when it comes out in February. That's right - I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advanced copy.

The Weekly Funniest Commercial Ever. Jones Big Ass Truck Rental & Storage. Seriously. Funniest thing ever.

The Weekly Solved Mystery. John Walsh - he of America's Most Wanted fame - finally has a little closure. Police formally named his son Adam's killer, a drifter who died in jail in 1996.

The Weekly Strange Dining Companion. Robin Leach. I was at a business lunch and a few of us looked over at another table and all came back with the same comment. That's Robin Leach. Sure enough it was he of champagne wishes and caviar dreams fame. He'd clearly had too much of both. Robin's a little on the hefty side.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Despite previous reports that Hootie and the Blowfish were dead following the launch of frontman Darius Rucker's country solo career, it turns out they'll be back together again. Just because they're still together doesn't mean we have to listen, does it? Please?

The Weekly Hypothetical. You can bring back any famous person - this excludes immediate family and other relatives unless you're somehow spawn of the famous and haven't bothered to share that fact with me - so they can continue to contribute whatever it was they contributed to society. Who do you bring back and why?

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (33)

December 18, 2008

Parenting Without A Net

Look, I hate to be gratuitous as a parent, and to talk about my kids like they're the most perfect creatures ever to grace this planet. But I'm biased and they are. Whenever Owen does something funny or Mia says something that's unintentionally hilarious, I write it down. Here are the most recent examples.

Butterfly Scratching. When I was a little kid - before I could read - I used to prop a book on my lap and pretend that I was reading. I'd read to myself or out loud to anyone who'd listen. The most famous incident came when I was "reading" to my mom and grandmother. I have no idea what the story was about but it closed with the line you should never scratch a butterfly. It became a famous line in my house. And true, too, if you think about it. I told Mia about this and her response? But you should always tickle butterflies. Hard to argue with that.

Look, We're French. Owen likes for me to stick my tongue out. Then he clamps down on my tongue with his mouth. He thinks this is hilarious. I think it's cute. Everyone else thinks its gross.

Wake Up Call. Mia will, occasionally, wake up, leave her room and come into tell us she's awake. She always comes to my side of the bed and wakes me up by wrapping her arms around me and whispering in my ear. On Tuesday this went down at 5:00 AM. I told her that it was not time to get up but she wouldn't take no for an answer. Despite the hour, it was still pretty much the best way to be awakened ever.

You'll Go Blind. Owen loves being naked more than about anything except crackers. And he is obsessed with his balls. I mean, if Owen's fascination is any indication of their popularity, they should sell scrotums at Toys R Us. It would be weird but I bet they couldn't keep them on the shelves. I keep telling him that if he treats them nicely, they'll treat him well but most of the time he abuses them like a miniature punching bag. He seems happy, though, so who am I to argue?

Stream of Consciousness. Mia is into discovering what she wants to be when she grows up though we constantly reinforce the fact that she has time. She will, when inspired, go on long rambling explanations about her future career paths. As she did just recently:

When I grow up I am going to be a paleontologist. I'll dig and I'll dig and I'll dig in my sandbox and I'll find a great big dinosaur then I'll call help help help mister museum guy help me get this dinosaur out of my sandbox and to the museum so we can put it together. Then we'll put it together and it will be so tall and people will come and look at the dinosaur and they'll be scared but I'll tell them, "don't be scared of the dinosaur because it's just bones and it dived a long time ago" and they'll say, "thank you Mia for finding the dinosaur" and I will also be an astronaut and go find bones on Mars with the Mars lady who lives there. Princesses live on Mars don't they and they have glass slippers? I will be a princess fairy paleontologist on Mars and I will dance the ballet and kiss my baby brother on the head then bake a cake because I will be a princess fairy paleontologist dancer baker on Mars with a baby brother named Owen. Hey daddy, let's dance like fairies.

And I will.

The Assist. If you're a parent, you understand that there's no such thing as privacy in the bathroom. I've resigned myself to operating under the assumption that I will be interrupted while I'm taking a leak. Mia seems to have tinkle radar (peedar). Within 20 seconds, she's there. Usually she makes herself known. But the other day, she sneaked up on me. I didn't know she was anywhere close until - how do I put this? - I felt a little hand giving the Little General an assist.

Me: Hi.
Mia: Hi.
Me: What are you doing?
Mia: I'm helping.
Me: Thanks. But I've got it.
Mia: You don't need help?
Me: No, I think this is definitely part of the process I can handle.

And she turned around and left, unfazed. And this, my friends, is one of those parenting moments no book can prepare you for.

You guys have to be sick of hearing my parenting stories, right?

Posted by Chris at 7:19 AM | Comments (44)

December 17, 2008

What's On Your Nightstand?

This is my nightstand. Sounds like the making of a thrilling post. Tomorrow maybe I'll show you a chair or maybe even one of our fine toilets. But, no, I have a point. If you look, you'll notice that the typical contents of a nightstand - a clock, a lamp - are dwarfed by a gigantic stack of books. This, ladies and gentlemen, is my near-term to-read pile.

  • Broken Prey (John Sandford) - John Sandford is like the north star of writers - you can always count on his stuff to be there and be good.
  • The Chicago Way (Michael Harvey) - Word of mouth, plain and simple.
  • American Visa (Juan De Recacoechea) - The blurb on the cover from George Pelecanos sold me. I'm a sucker for George Pelecanos.
  • Rant (Chuck Palahniuk) - What can you say about Chuck.
  • The Power Of The Dog (Don Winslow) - Winslow is probably one of the best writers I've had the pleasure of stumbling on in the last five years.
  • Manhattan Nocturne (Colin Harrison) - I forget what I read by Harrison a few years back but whatever it was left enough of an impression that I picked this one up.
  • Boy Toy (Barry Lyga) - I got an advance reader copy. Of the selections available to me, this was the most interesting sounding.
  • Prodigy (Dave Kalstein) - This one has been on my to-read list for years though I'm dubious about it since Beth recently read it and described it as "readable". That's not a hell of an endorsement. The back of a cereal box is "readable."
  • The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) - Again, advance copy.
  • The Sand Cafe (Neil MacFarquhar) - I heard MacFarquhar on NPR a while back talking about this fictionalized account of being a reporter in the Middle East during the first Gulf War. I was intrigued. Intrigued enough to buy it but apparently not enough to read it yet.
  • Tsar (Ted Bell) - Bell's hero is an over the top James Bond figure that makes for a fun, trashy read requiring very little brain power.
  • The Army Of The Republic (Stuart Archer Cohen) - Advance copy.
  • Nothing To Lose (Lee Child) - Child and his hero Jack Reacher rock.
  • Heat Lightning (John Sandford) - Yeah, another Sandford. Like I said, you can't go wrong.
  • Magical Thinking (Augusten Burroughs) - The Burroughs speaks for itself.
  • The Dark League King (Keith Lee Morris) - I stumbled on this novel set in Idaho. When do you see a book set in Idaho?
  • 361 (Donald Westlake) - Hardboiled noir crime fiction. Goodness.

I feel somewhat threatened by this pile, like if I don't make some kind of headway soon, it'll collapse on me in the middle of the night and leave me bruised, with paper cuts. I'd like to tell you that this represents the extent of my book-buying obsession but that would make me a liar and my pants would likely burst into flames. There's a limit to how hot I want my ass to be.

I've got four nice bookcases in the basement totally devoted to storing a mob of unread books, just waiting for me to pay attention to them. I've got at least a half dozen bookcases dedicated to storing books I have actually read. It's clear that I have a problem. In fact, I might as well come clean and show you the inside of my nightstand too.

What's on your nightstand? And what do you collect or just plain have too much of?

Posted by Chris at 6:35 AM | Comments (60)

December 16, 2008

Away In A Manger

I've mentioned before that I went to a private southern Baptist elementary school. It was really the only way in which I was abused as a child. My parents weren't assholes. They didn't hate me nor did I end up hating them as a result of this educational nightmare. They thought they - totally non-religious souls themselves - were doing the right thing, doing me the favor of a good education. They weren't and halfway though fourth grade, I let them know. They yanked me out. All this is a really long way of saying that I should know the biblical differences between David and Joseph when it comes to the story of the baby Jesus. Apparently I don't.

Early last week, some relatives sent a Christmas card accompanied by a sheet of stickers for Mia. Nativity stickers. For some strange reason I decided that this was the time to discuss the story of Christmas with Mia. She pointed at a sticker on the sheet and I explained the significance of each. The manger, the star, the three wise men. I totally blanked when Mia pointed to Joseph. I said David. Beth, within earshot, corrected the error then laughed at me. Explaining the three wise men took a little doing as well, as I'm not completely sure who was holding the gold, frankincense or myrrh. (On a side note, I really like the way myrrh is spelled. Is it too late to change Owen's name?) I chose not to explore the possible reasons one of the wise men was giving the sheep strange looks. And I encountered a little trouble when there was one person I couldn't for the life of me identify. I settled on "Erica, the baby Jesus' the nanny."

The day after we had this discussion, Mia's preschool put out a nativity scene for all the kids to play with. Mia is now enamored with the baby Jesus. She loves playing with him. She refers to the three wise men as "the three wise guys." I like to imagine Joseph sitting in a smoky strip club with them, putting a hit on some rogue shepherd for a cut of the myrrh trade and a little frankincense under the table having yet to realize that his son has the ability to turn water into wine thus opening up a whole new range of money-making possibilities.

When talking about religion with my daughter, I am flip but not disrespectful. I don't want to minimize the importance of religion even though it's not important to me. But I like to think the people at that southern Baptist school would be horrified and perhaps every time I'm flip it's a shot at them. To me, the religious education I got there, in my first five years of school was like getting waterboarded at Gitmo. Instead of disclosing information about terrorist training camps, I was forced to regurgitate Bible verses I'd spent the previous week trying to learn.

At some point I realize that I'll have to explain the story of the baby Jesus in more detail, describing not only the who and the what but the why as well. I can't guarantee I won't be flip but I will try and be respectful, and accurate though I reserve the right to color the story with my own beliefs. I'll try to stay away from the three wise men as mafia, biblical characters as sheep molesters, and learn the difference between David and Joseph. Beyond that I make no guarantees.

How was religion handled in your house growing up?

Posted by Chris at 6:37 AM | Comments (58)

December 15, 2008

Moon Over Virginia

This is going to be a long week. Really. And I'm having a hard time with the realization that it's Monday. I don't want it to be Monday. But, checking the calendar, apparently the universe isn't taking its direction from me. Still Monday. Let's look back on fonder times, on the weekend.

Did you realize that the moon was closer to the earth this weekend than it has been all year? I wasn't allowed to forget it once I'd shared this information with Mia. Because whenever she saw the moon - or a reflection in the window she mistook for the moon - she shouted the moon! like the moon she was talking about was her bottom and it was on fire. Mia woke me up really early yesterday morning and, despite the fact that I stumbled into the kitchen table and fucked up my toe, nearly forgot to put coffee int he coffee maker and almost ended up with really hot yet non-caffeinated water and then put my hoodie on inside out, the view of our backyard through the kitchen window was pretty damn remarkable.

Beth and I made several attempts to capture some Christmas portraits of the kids for our Christmas cards. With varying degrees of success. A tip for those of you photographing children: 3% of the shots turn out the way you want them to while 97% don't. If you're lucky. And the vast majority of portraits involving two or more children look as though said children are attempting to become professional wrestlers.

After planning escape for months, my ass finally tried to make a break for it. I don't know why it felt the need to abandon me but I did manage to escape and am working on terms under which my ass and I can live happily together.

Mia designed and developed what I think you'll agree is the cutest, most awesome holiday-themed superhero-princess combination in history. Allow me to introduce you to Princess Noel, the holiday tropical princess fairy.

For the record, I also drank beer, ate pizza and Mexican food (not at the same time), finished a book and started another, worked for a little bit, was dressed up like a princess (no pictures, sorry), watched the Redskins game (disappointing as usual), cut out fairies using previously undiscovered fairy-designing talents, cleaned, slept, dreaded returning to work, and caught up on TiVo. So, yeah. It was a little busy.

How about you? What did you do this weekend? And are you ready for the holidays?

Posted by Chris at 6:44 AM | Comments (30)

Haiku For Monday #247

There is not enough
coffee in this universe
to wake my ass up.

Posted by Chris at 6:43 AM | Comments (7)

December 12, 2008

An Open Letter To The Internet

Dear Internet -

Thank you. You did good this week - good, not well. You guys raised or gave $500 to charity in 24 hours. Five. Hundred. Dollars. In what's shaping up to be a pretty rough time economically.

It's really easy to be cynical, simple to believe the worst in the world. But I've spent the last 36 hours watching the comments roll in, open-mouthed, amazed. You guys helped some folks in desperate need. Including myself. I think I needed to see a real life example of some pure unselfish goodness. And you came through.

Five hundred dollars. Amazing. Now, granted I've got a beer and a half in me but I think I love you guys.


Posted by Chris at 8:34 PM | Comments (16)

The Weeklies #65

The Weekly Thing My Daughter Said That Cracked Me Up. I'm drinking french-fried juice!

The Weekly Read. The only way I can really describe David Sedaris' latest book When You Are Engulfed In Flame requires a little explanation. To me, funny makes you laugh while amusing makes you chuckle in a Family Circus kinda way. And, in my view, Sedaris has, with each book, become less funny and more amusing. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just an observation. When You Are Engulfed in Flame was about 50% amusing, 35% funny and 15% whiny. Maybe I mistook introspective for whiny. I'm not sure. Is it worth reading? Hell yeah. I don't foresee a future in which anything by Sedaris isn't worth reading even if he keeps moving in the Family Circus direction. Still, not quite as funny as he's proved he's capable of.

The Weekly Stupidest Network Television Move. Did you see that when Jay Leno retires from the Tonight Show he'll be getting his own one hour weeknight prime time slot on NBC. Yes, NBC is sacrificing five hours of prime time per week for Jay. Who I think is about as funny as the bubonic plague. God is that going to suck.

The Weekly Music. I'll admit that while I own the entire Queen catalog, I've only been a passive fan. Sure, I like some of their stuff but I also find a lot of their stuff to be, well, kinda lame. Yet I've long dug the original incarnation of Bad Company and, specifically, vocalist Paul Rogers. When most of the remaining members of Queen brought Rogers on board for vocal duty and toured, I was doubtful. Yet somehow Rogers singing Queen worked. He sounds nothing like Freddie Mercury and yet it's that difference that made it work. I mean, a Freddie Mercury clone would just be crass. Queen + Paul Rogers just released their first studio album together, Cosmos Rocks. And I like it. If you're expecting something that sounds like Queen of old, you're going to be disappointed. But if you're expecting a good solid album chock full of rock anthems and startlingly good guitar work, this might be right up your alley.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and O.J. Simpson are in a dead heat for the Schadenfreude title this week (while clearly the governor wins the funny name and bad hair titles). Frankly, their exploits are nothing short of Schadenfreude Hall Of Fame material. First one to be caught with a dead hooker or crackpipe wins!

The Weekly Measure of How Much You Guys Rock. As of, well, now I received 321 comments. At fifty cents a pop, that's a $160.50 check for Fisher House. Courtesy of fellow blogger Brooke, that same amount will go to the charity of her choice. Words cannot express how much you guys rock. I watched the emails come in and the comments pile up all day yesterday and it was just an awesome feeling.

UPDATE: The Stiletto Mom has agreed to match the total donation to The Fisher House. So, for the record, we managed to raise a whopping $481.50 for charity yesterday. That's so insanely awesome I might weep.

The Weekly Hypothetical. Why? (Now, I know that's not much of a question but it happens to be the single most often-asked question in my house courtesy of my daughter. I'm just seeing if any of you happen to know the answer because clearly I can't come up with it. So...why?)

Posted by Chris at 6:52 AM | Comments (42)

December 11, 2008


Larry Miller is a comedian and an actor. He's been everywhere and in practically everything. You've probably seen him before. In his book Spoiled Rotten: Outrages of Everyday Life, Miller highlights our fortune, mentioning the boxes of food that exist on nearly every corner. He's right. We've literally got big boxes of food - grocery stores - everywhere in North America. You want white bread? Simple. Pineapple in the middle of winter? You got it. Hummus with a unique blend of 40 spices prepared by Mongolian peasant children in bowls made of solid gold? Easy. In addition to the boxes of food, we've got boxes of books, boxes of televisions, boxed of porn, boxes of music...boxes of nearly anything and everything you could possibly want or need. This overabundance borders on insane when you think about it. Worse is our perceived need for all this stuff as evidenced by the Black Friday trampling and shooting deaths, robberies and beatings, all over stuff that is nowhere close to vital for our everyday survival.

Did you know there are people in this world who live without running water or electricity? I know, that's a really dumb, somewhat rhetorical question but it's a fact easily lost amid the sea of HDTV sales. In actuality, I'd venture a guess that the vast majority of the world's population are less fortunate than we are. I'd go a step further and guess that those of you kicking back with your morning coffee pulling up my site are more fortunate than the majority of North Americans.

I mention this not because I think any of us should feel guilty about our prosperity or success. I know I don't. We drive nice cars, live in a nice house. I have piles of books that will take me years to get around to reading. Beth and I have worked hard. We've carved out a nice life for ourselves and our kids. I'm immensely proud of that. No, I mention this because we should always remain aware that there are people less fortunate than ourselves. Especially in rough economic times like the ones in which we now find ourselves.

For each comment I get over the next 24 hours, I will donate $0.50 to charity. I will donate the proceedings to Fisher House. Each comment must be from a unique visitor - no commenting a hundred times or changing your name or email address and commenting again. There's a cap on how much I'm willing to donate but I haven't figured it out yet. I'm probably not going to be forking over $5k or anything because, let's face it, the economy blows donkeys.

Tell your friends, share the link and comment. It won't cost you a thing except a minute or two of your day and that minute or two could go a long way towards helping someone who could really use it.

UPDATE: The very generous Brooke has agreed to match my total. That basically means that your comment amounts to one genuine American dollar. Spread the word, pimp the link and tell your friends!

About Fisher House
"The Fisher House™ program is a unique private-public partnership that supports America's military in their time of need. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Because members of the military and their families are stationed worldwide and must often travel great distances for specialized medical care, Fisher House™ Foundation donates "comfort homes," built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times - during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury."

Posted by Chris at 6:40 AM | Comments (335)

December 10, 2008

Celluloid Heroes

I was channel surfing on Saturday night and there was nothing on. Like, really nothing. It was like all the good shows had curled up and died. I'd already exhausted my There's Nothing On Television Favorites like Univision's Sabado Gigante, a show that truly leads me to believe that my television has the ability spy on the inhabitants of another dimension. Home shopping was boring and the local cable access channels were showing 30 year old operas and a talk show about psychics (which, as Beth pointed out, why do they need a whole channel? Shouldn't they be able to beam their show into our minds?). Luckily, while flailing wildly with the remote, I stumbled on the 1987 classic Can't Buy Me Love. I'm moderately embarrassed to admit this but I've seen Can't By Me Love about eight and a half million times. As a matter of fact, it ranks seventh on the Top Ten List Of Movies I've Seen More Than Eight And A Half Million Times.

10. Lethal Weapon
9. Fletch
8. Die Hard
7. Can't Buy Me Love
6. Say Anything
5. Spinal Tap
4. The Breakfast Club
3. The Three Amigos
2. The Forbidden Planet
1. Logan's Run

And there, listed alongside that Patrick Dempsey classic are some of my other favorite, most-watched movies. If you asked me what my absolute favorite movie is, I'd have to tell you that it's Avalon, Barry Levinson's masterpiece about generations of an immigrant family in Baltimore. It is a beautiful, insanely moving film that devastates me whenever I watch it. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Citizen Kane. Hitchcock's oft-overlooked Rope is nothing short of brilliant. Coppola's Godfather, Scorsese's Gangs of New York and nearly everything by Stanley Kubrick top my more critical list of great films. But none of them are movies you can pop into a DVD player and just chill with or laugh at. They're Serious Films. And you don't always want to watch a Serious Film. Give me the seventies cheese of Logan's Run any day of the week or the fifties sci-fi goodness of The Forbidden Planet and I'll be happy. John McLane, Martin Riggs, and Roger Murtaugh can save the world and Spinal Tap can rock it. I'll be there watching. They may not be brilliant movies, but they're damn good to me.

What's on your list of favorite movies? What are your favorite critically brilliant films? And your favorite guilty pleasures?

Posted by Chris at 6:29 AM | Comments (51)

December 9, 2008

Charity By The Pound

After we'd managed to sneak away from the kids for a while on Saturday evening (don't worry - it's not like we left them unsupervised with piles of razor blades and loaded handguns) and gone out for my birthday dinner, we hit Starbucks. We were behind about 37 other lemmings when something occurred to me:

Me: We're really stupid.
Beth: Huh?
Me: We're just really stupid. People, I mean.
Beth: Why?
Me: Look at us. We're standing in line for the privilege of paying $5 for a gigantic and truly overpriced cup of coffee that, while good, isn't mind-blowingly orgasmic or anything.
Beth: You want to leave?
Me: Oh hell no.

Apparently the caloric value of the meal - to include a big honkin' piece of lemon meringue pie - wasn't enough because, after waiting in line for five minutes I ordered a venti white chocolate mocha which is kinda crack cocaine for suburban white people. Immediately after ordering and before I was told how much the second mortgage on my house needed to be so that I could may for my steaming cup of coffee, the barrista asked me an unexpected question - would you like to donate a pound of coffee for the soldiers in Iraq? I asked her to repeat herself because I'm 36 now and my hearing is apparently going. She did. And I said something like well, yeah, sure because how can you listen to that question and say you know what, I'm just really happy to be in this nice warm store buying a terribly overpriced drink before I go home to tuck my two kids into bed and enjoy the rest of the evening crapped out in front of my TV on my nice comfy couch where I don't have to wear a bullet proof vest or pack a machine gun so, honestly, while the absolute least thing I could do would be to kick in an extra $11 for coffee so some guys busting their asses for me and my family in a desert halfway around the world having left their own families behind, fuck that, no coffee for them? She forked over a pound of coffee and a Sharpie and told us to write a message on it. While I paid, Beth did. Then we waited.

Beth: Do you think they really send that pound of coffee over to Iraq?
Me: Sure. I mean, they asked us to write on it. Why wouldn't they send it?
Beth: It just seems easier to send some big shipment from Seattle.
Me: Huh. You're right. And do they even need coffee? I mean, wouldn't they be better with some pound of body armor campaign or pound of....

It was then that my brilliant idea struck me like a Mack truck on roadkill. A Pound of Porn for the Troops. I'm thinking you get a whole lot more bang for the buck (apologies for the unintended pun) out of a pound of porn. I mean, first, who doesn't love porn? There are lots of people who don't like coffee but porn, well, that's universal. Second, once you're done with a pound of coffee, you're done. But porn is the gift that keeps on giving. And once you're tired of Miss December, pass her along to the next platoon. It's recycling. So you're saving the planet. That's more than you can say about coffee.

So, who's with me? And how do we start? What are your favorite charities this year?

Posted by Chris at 6:50 AM | Comments (42)

December 8, 2008


It's Monday and I have the definite feeling that this is going to be quite a week. So while I get strapped in and guzzle some coffee, let's recap the weekend and figure out why I'm already so beat. Over the last 48 hours, I:

  • had a little family birthday party
  • opened gifts
  • went to swimming class (for Mia, not me)
  • braved Target for Christmas related things not once but twice
  • decorated the outside of the house in Arctic conditions
  • bought a tree
  • decorated a tree
  • caught up on a little Tivo
  • went on a date (with my wife, people)
  • responded to approximately 8,392,110 of Mia's questions which started and ended with the word why
  • identified potential Christmas gifts for Beth to buy me
  • finished a book
  • started a book; and
  • listened to some tunes

All that combined with the stress of the Christmas season pretty much explains why, for a few minutes here and there this weekend, I kinda felt like I was on the edge. Christmas is a double-edged sword. I love the season but that doesn't mean its not a tremendous pain in the ass. It all comes down to the Christmas lights.

On Saturday, I hauled out our vast collection of outdoor lights and plugged each of them in to see if they worked. 97% failed. So I did what any person in my situation would do - I muttered a few expletives and headed to Target. Unfortunately, after you've acquired the lights, the presumption is that you'll actually do something with them. And putting up lights is the thing about the holidays I most hate. Hanging lights makes me want to kill an elf. But I persevered and no diminutive Santa's helpers were harmed in any way. It turns out dropping $70 at Target can get you a pretty impressive light show even if they do look like they were arranged by a drunk, blind monkey.

Sunday found us face to face with another light crisis. After we'd bought our tree, Beth tested out the vast collection of indoor lights. Unlike the outdoor lights, 97% of them did not fail. They all failed. I repeated Saturday's procedure - expletives and Target. Unfortunately the vast majority of the greater Washington area had descended on Target. Half of them were still in the store while they had all conspired to rid the place of lights. I climbed shelves until I snagged the last five boxes of lights. Then I took them home and made Beth put them on the tree. I do this for our marriage. I turn into a bit of an asshole when I have to do the lights. Allow me to illustrate using actual examples from the recent past.

What I Mean: You think we need more lights on the tree?
What I Say: More lights? Are you fucking kidding me? This tree needs more lights like I need an impacted colon.

What I Mean: Is the tree straight?
What I Say: This fucker better be fucking straight, goddamn it.

What I Mean: I'm really looking forward to this Christmas season!
What I Say: Why couldn't we be Jewish?

What I Mean: Could you please hand me that string of lights?
What I Say: Just give me the goddamn lights so I can be done with this shit.

What I Mean: Well, this certainly looks festive.
What I Say: Fuck it. I'm done.

When it comes to me and lights, I'm a real barrel of rainbows, puppies and sunshine. But I'm happy to report that we're all decorated and festive this year and my marriage remains intact.

What are your favorite parts of the holidays? And your least favorite?

Posted by Chris at 6:27 AM | Comments (34)

Haiku For Monday #246

Brrr, it's cold, people.
When it's this damn cold we should
all just work from bed.

Posted by Chris at 6:26 AM | Comments (9)

December 5, 2008

The Weeklies #64

The Weekly Number. 36

The Weekly Music. Scott Weiland's first solo album, 12 Bar Blues kinda bit. I tried to get into it but the more I tried the more I despised it. And frankly, from that point on, almost everything he and Stone Temple Pilots released bit as well. So I was apprehensive about Happy In Galoshes. But I bought it anyway. And it was a good choice. Turns out that despite all of Weiland's issues and unpredictability, he's recorded a pretty decent solo album. One can only hope that whatever he ends up doing with STP after tragically walking out on Velvet Revolver will be this good. (Also, The Beatles White Album, disc two track one.)

The Weekly Quote. "Last week the candle factory burned down. Everyone just stood around and sang Happy Birthday." - Steven Wright

The Weekly Picture.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Ding dong the Bratz are dead! A judge in California issued the order to stop production on Bratz dolls and merchandise. Sweet baby jesus there is a Santa Claus!

The Weekly Hypothetical. So, you just happen to be on some blogger's site and you put two and two together and realize that it just might be his birthday. If said blogger asked what one cool thing - something new, something he's never tried, some cool experience - he should shoot to do during this, his 36th year, what would be your advice?

Posted by Chris at 6:55 AM | Comments (96)

December 4, 2008

The Lost and Found Mixtape

(Author's note: I know that the term mixtape is outmoded, overcome by events and inventions and is a few generations old. But that's my generation we're talking about and there's something cool and romantic about the idea of a mixtape. So regardless of your generation and mode of music delivery - tapes, CDs, playlists, whatever - I'm just going to keep calling it a mixtape. Even though I, myself, have abandoned the format.)

In the parking lot of my local grocery store, I happened upon an old CD. It was lying there on the ground, neglected, scratched and dented. It was labeled For Jane. Apparently Jane wasn't impressed or no longer cared. While I wasn't expecting much, I popped it into my car's CD player. Surprisingly it worked. So I listened to it. And here's what I found:

  1. In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel). Whoever this guy is - and let's call him Kevin because him is just awkward - he's starting off with a great song but a hard act to follow. I mean, when you start off with the Lloyd Dobbler Anthem, you set your expectations a little on the high side.
  2. Stone In Love (Journey). This wouldn't have been my first choice of romantic Journey power-ballads but hey, I'm not Kevin and maybe it means something to then. Still, solid song.
  3. Can I Play With Madness (Iron Maiden). Um, now, I'm an unabashed Maiden fan - seriously - but it seems to me that the CD took a gigantic turn in a strange direction. In no way is Maiden, even in their quietest moments, romantic. Unless you're, you know, satan. Or one of his minions.
  4. How I Could Just Kill A Man (Cypress Hill). Ahh, memories of that night, smoking some pot and rolling homeless guys for their bottles of Boone's.
  5. Irresponsible Hate Anthem (Marilyn Manson). I get the definite sense that Kevin is a little unsure of what he thought of Jane.
  6. Crazy For You (Madonna). Yep, this confirms it. Kevin's bipolar.
  7. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You (The Beatles). Nice song. Too bad the mood is completely and utterly ruined by an androgynous metal-head and 420-fueled rap.
  8. Angel (Massive Attack). Again, great song but the mood is ruined.
  9. Groove Is In The Heart (Deee-Lite). The video for his one-hit wonder was pure awesomeness in motion. But as a stand-alone song? Huh.
  10. Still Crazy After All These Years (Paul Simon). You can say that again.
  11. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover (Paul Simon). Jane, pick one and leave quickly.
  12. Loves Me Like A Rock (Paul Simon). Loves you like a psychotic freak, more like it.
  13. Cherry Pie (Warrant). I don't know what the significance of this song might be and I honestly don't care to know.
  14. How I Could Just Kill A Man (Cypress Hill). What, once wasn't enough?
  15. I Think I'm Going Bald (Rush). Possibly the most obscure song in the entire Rush catalog. And you put it on a mixtape for a chick. Accentuating the fact that you might be losing your hair. You sure know how to woo them, Kevin.
  16. Personality Crisis (New York Dolls). The personality crisis I'm picking up on is yours, Kevin. Frankly I'm terrified.
  17. I Think We're Alone Now (Tiffany). Jane, I'm more than a little worried about you. Especially if you are indeed alone with Kevin. Run, Jane, run! Run like the wind.

Now, not only is Kevin's musical taste eclectic and his song selection moderately terrifying, but he broke all the rules of a mixtape. Allow me to recap The Rules:
  1. Don't repeat songs. Even if they're alternate versions of previously included songs.
  2. Try your best not to repeat artists and, if you have to, ensure songs by the same artists are separated by a few tracks. There may be some instances in which artist repetition is okay as with mixing solo artists and the bands from which they came. For instance, including a Beatles and Paul McCartney song on the same mixtape is perfectly acceptable so long as they're separated by a few songs.
  3. Genre mixing is okay but flailing wildly across the musical spectrum is a little strange. And terrifying.
  4. Don't be a fucking psycho.

I have no idea what may have happened between Jane and Kevin. I can only hope that Jane isn't tied up in the trunk of a car crossing state lines.

What are your mixtape memories? Bests? Worsts?

Posted by Chris at 6:51 AM | Comments (59)

December 3, 2008

History - Apathy, Revisionism and Raves

As I mentioned on Monday, the day after Thanksgiving, Beth, Owen, Mia and I decided that the cool thing to do would hitting the newly re-opened Smithsonian Museum of American History. It had been closed undergoing renovations for two years. My history degree-having self was curious to see it. And Mia wanted desperately to see Dorothy's ruby red shoes. When we crossed the border into Monkeytown it became clear that our idea was flawed. It was a nightmare of tourists, pedestrians and traffic. I dropped Beth and Mia off at the museum while Owen and I spent the next half hour trying to find a place to park. It pissed me off. I almost let Owen drive. Then he and I waited in line to get into the museum. Once there, I dialed Beth's cell, told her to find us, and Owen and I hid from the massive throng of crazy history nuts.

Now, I've never been to a rave so I'm probably talking out of my ass but a rave is the only good reason that many people should be together in the same building. We were packed tight. I expected the lights to go down and electronic dance music to start blaring at any moment. I expected someone to offer me a glowstick, a hit of ecstasy and a bottle of water. I expected a mound of blow in the bathroom. But no, just a lot of people, most of them very young or very old. Yet, while I was stuck in that massive sea of people, I came to a cool realization. There were tons of people, there, gathered together to look at history. They could have headed to the mall to buy shit they didn't need and trampled other shoppers to death. They could have bought tickets to Twilight. But no, they checked out some history. And that's pretty cool. I mean, it was a pain in the ass for us but, overall, pretty cool.

It got tricky answering some of Mia's history-related questions, though. Trying to answer them reminded me how complicated our history - and current events - is. Take the following examples.

The Topic: Thanksgiving
The Questions That Resulted from My Explanation I Gave: Who are the Indians? Why did the settlers leave England? What is independence? Why didn't anyone respect their religion? What's starving? Why didn't they fly from England? Are Indians mean or nice? Or jump? How long does it take to sail from England to America?
The Explanation I Should Have Given: Once upon a time, some people sailed a really big ship from England because they were tired of the fog and boiled meat. When they got here, they instantly bonded with their friends, the Indians. The Indians helped them plant crops. They lived happily ever after.

The Topic: America's Independence
The Questions That Resulted from My Explanation I Gave: Why did we want our independence? What are taxes? How did we fight England? Are we still mad at England? Why couldn't we be friends with England? What does spangled mean?
The Explanation I Should Have Given: A long long time ago mean English guys wanted the colonists to pay for living here. And instead of doing that, they decided they wanted to be free, like Ariel wanted to be free to visit the surface and fall in love with Prince Eric. So they said get out bad people and after a while of arguing and really bad manners the English said okay and left. Then we gave England a big hug and became really good friends.

The Topic: Abraham Lincoln
The Questions That Resulted from My Explanation I Gave: Did Obama beat him? Why isn't he still our president? What is assassination? What is slavery? What's a civil war? Did the north not love the south anymore? He's not our president anymore but we still love him, right? Why did they make a memorial out of him? Was he really a giant? Did he find the Gettysburg Address so he could tell the mailman where to send it?
The Explanation I Should Have Given: Once upon a time, Abraham Lincoln became the president and he wanted everyone to be nice to each other. But there were still lots of people with bad manners who didn't play or share the country nicely. So they argued a lot. But Mr. Lincoln settled the argument and brought everyone together after which he went to the theater to see an early adaptation of The Little Mermaid and later he died.

The problem with history is that it's complicated and sometimes pretty rough. Talking about history exposes my daughter (and all kids) to some pretty dark periods that I'd rather she not know about. Also? Some history is fucking depressing. I mean, how often does a chapter of our history end with and everyone was happy and had a great big party or they lived happily ever after? Rarely, if ever. But, as the saying goes, to live in ignorance of our history is to be doomed to repeat it. Also, I, as a parent, understand that I am much more sensitive to the baggage these ideas carry around with them; kids just see the truth without the symbolism, the ideas, the perceptions with which we color them.

For a long time, I thought American society was a fairly apathetic one, my generation especially. The past election proved me a certain extent. So I guess that instead of bitching about the long lines, the crowds, the asshats that cut me off while I was pushing a stroller (and seriously, people need to stop cutting off moms and dads pushing strollers or one day I'm outfitting mine with a cattle prod) I should actually be congratulating society for giving a damn about its history. Yay you. But you could have saved me a place to park and gotten the fuck out of my way.

Are you a history fan? What do you think are the most important events in history?

Posted by Chris at 6:36 AM | Comments (33)

December 2, 2008

Escape Velocity

Dear Target -

I've long been a fan of your pajamas. I have a dark green pair that I've worn to the point of being nearly threadbare. They're wonderful. My only complaint is that the material is slightly form-fitting, especially in the crotchal region. Since I wear these in the comfort of my own home, this isn't really a big issue. Everyone here has seen my junk. But it did prove slightly uncomfortable when I wore them in the hospital when Mia was born. I caught more than one nurse trying to see what kind of package was in the mail. So to speak.

The perfection that is these pajamas forced me back to your fine establishment to find more. And I did. Two pairs to be exact - one black, one gray. Unfortunately they weren't exactly like my previous pair. It seems they've been slightly re-engineered with a bonus design flaw. Unlike the previous pair that assumes absolutely no gender or need for peeing standing up, these most recent pairs have four inch slits down the front, apparently designed for easy wang access. Unfortunately, said hole also allows wangs the freedom to flop around all willy-nilly on the outside of the PJs, having sought and found freedom. Despite the fact that I wear these only around the house, I've already been trapped in several interesting and compromising positions. This weekend, for example, I felt a decided nether-region chill and looked down to see that Willy was free. While preparing breakfast for my daughter later that morning, I was abruptly asked, "what's your penis doing?" Gazing south, I was immediately able to confirm that the little general had launched an air assault past the front lines.

I, for one, am not a fan of the whole easy access idea. But I don't presume to speak for all men. Allow me, instead, to suggest a happy medium - zippers, buttons, snaps or even velcro (though velcro may have some unpleasant side-effects depending on one's grooming habits). Regardless of the mechanics, there should be a way to prevent the rocket from leaving the launch pad unless lift-off is the goal.

Yours in Christ,
Chris Cactus and the Commander-In-Pants

What are your most embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions?

Posted by Chris at 6:07 AM | Comments (46)

December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving, In Verse

Thanksgiving has come and has gone
It's unfortunate but I'm back at work.
My time was well spent but I'm spent like the time
Coffee in my blood has yet to perk.

We spent the weekend with family
and ate way too much as most do.
We played, we read, we napped, watched TV
Now it's dark, it's early, feel like poo.

On Wednesday the girls headed out
to the Ritz for a nice fancy tea.
The guys, we stayed home, watched Magnum PI
with Higgins, Magnum, Rick and TC.

Thanksgiving day began with a parade
lame performers and a half-assed St. Nick.
It ended with just over a dozen full bellies
just slightly south of sick.

Friday we had an idea
to Monkeytown to see Dorothy Gale's ruby shoes
Unfortunately for us we weren't close to alone
For lunch all I wanted was booze

The museum was packed with blue-haired grannies
and families with little kids taking a tour
At least we got to see Stephen,
he of the Colbert Report.

Saturday was insanely relaxing
I never, not once, left the our pad
We played, watched a movie, ate fajitas.
Kids in bed, watched TV, sleep was had.

Sunday was rainy, we stayed put.
We didn't get dressed 'till at least noon
Though I must admit, I lived in fear of the knowledge
that the new work week would be here soon.

Now Thanksgiving is over.
And Christmas will be here so soon.
Just flip on the radio and you'll know it
soon as you hear Frank and Dean croon.

My mind is still stuck in the holiday.
To get my head into work I'll need luck.
My brain would rather be decorating a tree.
About work I could not give a fuck.

(And how were your weekends?)

Posted by Chris at 6:40 AM | Comments (20)

Haiku For Monday #245

I'm not at all pleased
That I'm headed to work now.
Cold, dark, wet. This sucks.

Posted by Chris at 6:39 AM