July 30, 2010

The Weeklies #143

The Weekly Condition. Busyness. Extreme busyness.

The Weekly iPad App. Flipboard.

The Weekly Read. I really, really wanted to like David Wong's John Dies At The End. Sincerely, I did. The author's sense of humor early on - and throughout - grabbed me and made me laugh. The back of the book and reviews I read told me that it was a horror novel that would make me laugh but also be genuinely scary. Clearly I was reading a different book. It wasn't scary in the least. Instead it was, well, a mess. Characters die then suddenly reappear, people jump in and out of time, ancient evil creatures come to life and talk about nothing but sex. It's like the author said here are my 500 ideas that I don't have time to sort out so you try. By the last 50 pages or so, I found myself skimming, reading nothing that had any impact on the story. I'd recommend that you skip it entirely.

The Weekly Time Waster. FlyGuy. I'll warn you now, it's pointless but it's also very charming.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. In perhaps the best example of unintended humor I stumbled across a hilarious and somewhat sad article written by one Stephenson Billings for something called Christwire. It's all about how the TV show Glee is evil and popularizing homosexuality and may or may not be lip-synced (seriously, the man seems to be surprised that the whole show isn't recorded live). Here's a little snippet:

Recently, I wrote about studies that revealed the dangerous influence that the 1980s tv show “The Golden Girls” had on American men now in their 30s, 40s and 50s (see “The Golden Girls: How One TV Show Turned A Generation Of American Boys Into Homosexuals”). The link between watching the Girls and increased risks of homosexual behavior was made abundantly meaningful. In a nutshell, the Golden Girls turned a generation away from procreation. It made our American boys into the most raunchy, campy, carnal people on the planet. If, as a society, we could have returned to the 80s with what we know now and stop that show, American culture might be drastically different today.

Yes, that's the problem with the world - The Golden Girls. Perhaps now that most of them are dead, the world will return to normal.

The Weekly Other Time Waster. iNudge

The Weekly Song Stuck In My Head. I'm a Hex Girl by The Hex Girls. Yes, its a song from a Scooby Doo movie. My children are obsessed with the You Tube clip (don't watch it - nothing good could come of it). And I've had the damn song going through my damn head all damn week.

The Weekly Question. What's the first thing you'd do if someone handed you a million dollars?

Posted by Chris at 6:58 AM | Comments (31)

July 29, 2010

High School U.S.A.

How much do you remember about high school?

I was bored the other night so I decided to Facebook-stalk people from my past. I found a group dedicated to my high school and narrowed the search down to the year I graduated and started looking at names and faces I haven't thought of in years. Now, my class was pretty big - 417 people to be exact, not counting Tommy Carter who was not allowed to walk with the class since they discovered during rehearsal that he wasn't wearing anything under his graduation robe - so it's not surprising that I didn't know everyone. But it still felt strange realizing that I only vaguely recognized the vast majority of the people I'd gone to high school with. Many were just complete strangers.

During the search I made an interesting discovery. I found out that the first girl I ever dated in high school now works for the same company I do, about a three minute walk from my very own office. She turned out to be not all that nice. For example, I never got past first base and I discovered that I was just a temporary replacement for a long-term boyfriend who was living abroad for a year. But I should totally find her office and ask her to the prom today, right?

Anyway, I'm quite sure this is indicative of a large issue, mainly that I'm losing my mind. I think I should remember more about it and about the people I spent four years of my life with. Am I the only one who can't remember much of high school? What's your most vivid memory of high school? And should I walk over and surprise my mean and prude ex-girlfriend?

______________________

P.S., based on your feedback yesterday, it was clear I need to search my site stats and make sure I had the right set of demographics. I think you'll find these more satisfactory.

graph2.jpg

Update: It has been brought to my attention that I probably already mentioned that high-school girlfriend discovery. Um, yeah. This merely confirms that I am losing my mind.

Posted by Chris at 6:37 AM | Comments (25)

July 28, 2010

Fat Kids Revisited

I got some interesting feedback on yesterday's post. I want to call a time-out and explain a few things.

My job is not to write insightful or original posts.
My job is not to be an investigative journalist reporting on the ills of society.
My job is not to identify and/or solve the world's problems.
My job is not to post socially redeeming nuggets of information.
My job is not to form or dictate your opinions.
My job is not to be fair.
My job is not even to have a point.

No, my job is to write whatever the hell I want.

Most of the feedback yesterday was pretty awesome and supportive (so, thanks!). But some wasn't. And that's cool. Everyone has his or her own opinions and far be it from me to tell you what those should be. (Because that's kinda like telling a blogger what he should and shouldn't write.) I write what I want to write about, whatever gets stuck in my brain that I want to get out on paper. If something here strikes you as unoriginal, offensive, insipid or just plain dumb, well, skip it. Come back the next day. I'm sure whatever I write will be radically different. And I can't be brilliant or insightful everyday. I can just be myself. As an alternative I will direct you to the internetwebosphere where there is a vast amount of content - from novels to music to movies to midget porn - for your consumption and amusement. But like I said, that's not an issue since I have solid proof that 99% of you are awesome peeps.

graph.jpg

In the spirit of self-defense, I'd like to add that I passed no judgment yesterday. There were no hidden motives or messages, no secret contempt for overweight individuals. I made simple observations as I saw them, that are in my world absolutely and unequivocally true. Look at what I said - kids are more sedentary, families are less physically secure, the cost of healthy food is out of reach of many, and the complexity of our lifestyles makes that unhealthy food the most readily available and convenient. I fail to see how these are anything other than factual.

I don't take issue with people who disagree with me. If we all agreed, the world would be so boring. What I take issue with, however, are the people who drop by and complain about what I write when they've been reading and complaining for - literally - years. I have a couple readers who invariably violently disagree with me, people who have pledged over and over again never to return (yet do), people who I have banned who then changed their email addresses so they could once again comment then complain about how awful I am. Let's say everyday I go buy lunch at the same place. And everyday as I'm on my way in to said lunch place, the manager comes over and kicks me square in the balls. Now, I don't like getting kicked in the balls. It hurts. So why would I go to the same place everyday knowing that I'm just going to get kicked in the balls?

I'm a pretty consistent guy. I've been blogging for seven years. If you've been reading more than a week or two, you've got a pretty good idea what you're going to get when you stop by. It's really easy to drop judgmental emails and comments and hide behind the vastness of the Internet. But when you do that, you're bringing it to my house, to the place I've carved out for myself here. I respect opinions even and especially when they differ from my own. I do not respect asshats.


Posted by Chris at 6:20 AM | Comments (50)

July 27, 2010

Fat Kids

I'm going to use the F-word a lot. No, not that one. Fat. I promise that I don't mean to be insensitive or in any way offensive. Really. I don't want one email claiming otherwise.

We were at the pool the other day - because, let's face it, that's where we always are - and Beth and I noticed something. Or, rather, a lot of somethings. Fat people. This was not at all surprising because for the last decade we've all been told ad nauseum that the population is becoming increasingly heavy over time. But what caught my eye was the number of overweight kids.

I was a kid in the 70s and 80s, growing up in Texas where everything lives up to the expected reputation is bigger. Including portion size. Now, I'm pretty sure in the late sixties, Texas banned hippies from living in the state making small exceptions for college towns like Austin. But my mom broke the mold. She didn't wear long tie-dyed skirts or burn patchouli in the kitchen but she did make every effort to avoid crappy foods and eat naturally before eating organic was trendy. This is why I was, like, eight before I had a piece of candy and my Easter eggs were always filled with raisins and Cheerios. (My dad eventually could no longer take it, considering this something that bordered on child abuse and forced my mother into purchasing candy.)

These decent eating habits (though I will admit to the occasional candy-binge) combined with damn good genetics have allowed me to stay about the same weight for the last twenty years. (I realize I am the exception, not the rule.)

All of this is a very long way of saying that, despite the bigger is better attitude of my home state, I knew virtually no fat kids when I was growing up. In fact, I remember only one overweight kid through elementary school and junior high and thinking back, I'm not sure he'd really even fit today's standards of fat.

1. We're all too busy. It's so much easier to eat crap when you're in a hurry. This summer has really opened my eyes to that. With two kids needing to be different places, everyone in a hurry, events to attend, the easiest way to make sure they get something to eat has been jetting through a drive-through or calling for pizza delivery.

2. Good food is more expensive. It's just that simple. Vegetables cost more than burgers.

3. Kids aren't as active. There's more to do sitting down than I ever had available to me. Video games (okay, I did have an Atari 2600), computers and the internet all keep kids tied down to one place.

4. Security. When I was a kid, I'd take off on my bike in the morning and be back in time for dinner. Society has changed in the last thirty years. We're a little more concerned about the world being mean to our kids because it's been proven that we have to be. We let them roam a little less.

Your thoughts? Am I right, wrong, or just devilishly handsome?

Posted by Chris at 7:09 AM | Comments (45)

July 26, 2010

How The Weekend Kicked My Ass

Oh. My. God. I can't believe it's Monday and I'm so ill-prepared. I have just been through the parenting equivalent of a marathon. Which is this:

Saturday. Mia's final swim meet was an all day affair which began precisely at 7:00 and ended somewhere around 3:30. And it was approximately one billion degrees outside. We were lucky in that we didn't have to stay for the whole thing but, instead, made two separate trips separated by lunch, playing and recovery. Of course, Mia being Mia, we had to hit our neighborhood pool for the remainder of the afternoon. And did I mention it was a billion degrees (in the shade)?

Sunday. Mia's birthday party. Twenty-something kids at the neighborhood pool. Once again, a billion degrees. Beth and I prepped, got the pool ready, mowed the grass, cleaned up the house then did the whole party thing. It kicked ass until the storm moved in with, apparently, seventy mile an hour winds (I wasn't measuring but apparently the weather guys were). So all the kids and their parents ran from the pool to our house, crowded into our kitchen a living room and ended up having a grand old time despite the weather. Everyone we were related to stayed behind for dinner. And then Beth and I drank like winos and I mourned the loss of the weekend and the return to work. And went to bed at 9:15.

Now here I am. No amount of coffee is going to make this day productive.

What did you guys do with your weekends?

Posted by Chris at 6:52 AM | Comments (15)

Haiku For Monday #328

Best word to describe
the weekend? Blur. Because that's
just flat what it was.

Posted by Chris at 6:31 AM | Comments (2)

July 23, 2010

The Weeklies #142

The Weekly Oh. Oh my god, I'm worn out. Two days of meetings, two days of a conference that I helped put together, a sick Owen and a birthday girl will wear you out!

The Weekly Event. Mia's birthday, of course.

The Weekly Beer. Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA.

The Weekly Read. Vicious by Kevin O'Brien is pretty much the perfect summer read. It's a mystery and thriller with a splash of horror all in one. While there's nothing truly original or surprising about it, it's pretty compelling and kept the pages turning quickly. Vicious isn't fine literature nor is it about to win any literary prizes but it was well worth the read.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Shirley Sherrod was removed from her USDA job earlier in the week when a videotape of her surfaced which seemed to indicate that she was more than a little racist. People went nuts. Then a little context was added. The tape was part of a larger one in which Sherrod explains that how she conducted herself twenty years earlier was wrong. People went nuts again. She was offered a new job. She spoke to the President. Why didn't the administration find out the truth before jettisoning her? Who knows.

The Weekly Time-Waster. PixEvo - The Fountain.

The Weekly Question. What are you watching this summer? My TiVo is very, very bored.

Posted by Chris at 6:44 AM | Comments (22)

July 22, 2010

Five

Dear Mia,

Five years ago today you came into the world, took your first breath and screamed your first scream. The nurses wiped you down, measured you and gave you to me where I held you close to your mother's head so she could see you. You had a bent nose, jet black hair, and legs that desperately wanted your feet to rest beside your ears. While the doctors took care of your mom, I took you out to meet your family. You met your very own paparazzi after which you were whisked away for your first bath and diaper.

Today you are five years old. I have absolutely no idea how that's possible. It's like you were born and we immediately entered some rift in the space-time continuum and, a day or a week later, found ourselves standing here, scratching our heads, looking at this short person with all these ideas and feelings and opinions.

Five years later, the jet black hair is gone. It's brown with blond highlights and stretches to you bottom. Your nose is normal. Your feet have given up their quest to see your ears. Your imagination is nothing short of magical. You sing. You dance. You refuse to color inside the lines because, as you say, you can but it's not as much fun. You march exclusively to the cadence of your own drum. You love your brother, though he annoys you and you hate it when he wanders into your room and even thinks of touching your stuff. But you are protective of him and he worships you. You are the most determined and stubborn person I have ever met. You refuse to give up. You enter, instead, a zone and accomplish whatever it is you set out to do.

I am proud of you and who you are. The pride and love I have for you completely fills me. Were I to let it out all at once it would surely fill the atmosphere and embarrass you greatly but leaving it bottled up without letting a little more out each day would cause me to explode. Words, quite simply, cannot adequately profess my love, my admiration, my respect for you.

Mia, five years ago, your mother and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We were happy and nervous and terrified all wrapped up in great big balls of excitement. Nothing could have prepared us for you and nothing has brought us greater joy than you, in our world, in our family, in our hearts.

I love you, Miabean.

Dad

Posted by Chris at 6:38 AM | Comments (33)

July 21, 2010

As Seen On TV

On Monday, I talked about quirks. I left one out. Well, I probably left out billions. But the one I'm specifically thinking of? I love home shopping. Not actually purchasing anything but just watching.

A long, long, long time ago when I was 10 or 11, a friend of mine and I would stay up all night watching the Home Shopping Club. This was before the Network or the Channel. Back then, home shopping was just a continuous stream of home shopping that networks would cut to when they wanted to go dark for the night. They sold complete and utter crap but then again I'm not sure that's changed too much. These were the early days before automated ordering so we'd yank the operators' chains as much as was humanly possible. We'd order hundreds of artifacts from the Atotia, a Spanish ship that sank in the 1600s which they claimed had yielded a limited number of gold coins yet sold thousands upon thousands of each and every night. We'd order crappy porcelain dolls and ask if they came with free sledgehammers so we could smash them upon arrival. We were, in short, hilarious. At least we thought so. We were 11. Everything was hilarious

Twenty-five years later, Beth and I are still pretty enamored with home shopping. When there's nothing on TV, TiVo has failed us and the crabby b-movies streaming from Netflix feel too high-brow for us, we surf home shopping channels.

Electronics shows are for the most part boring unless something horrible goes wrong or the laptop starts showing off the hosts' stash of porn. Jewelry shows are similarly borning as are most of the vitamin and skin-care product showcases. The real entertainment value is in the shows hocking household products or those that pretend to be cooking shows. They are the holy grail of home shopping entertainment.

These people whip up five metric tons of food in an hour of demonstrations. Though they could probably feed half the homeless population of wherever it is they're broadcasting from, they seem to feed camera crews who, I'm sure, end up in the hospital with food poisoning after ingesting half-cooked chicken breasts straight out of the Wolfgang Puck Wonder Oven, Rotisserie, and Wet/Dry Vac. And the hosts always coincidentally seem to own whatever it is they're showing off. Their houses must be like something straight out of Hoarders, small appliances, cookware, tupperware sets and huggable hangers stacked everywhere.

Have you ever bought anything from television? Did it live up to expectations?

Posted by Chris at 6:38 AM | Comments (14)

July 20, 2010

Pay What You Want

In 2007, Radiohead decided to shake up the record industry releasing In Rainbows without a record label or distributor. Instead, they released it online. The twist? Buyers could decide what they wanted to pay. It was part fuck you to the industry and test of consumer honesty. In Rainbows was a successful album but it's more difficult to tell just how successful it was as a pay-what-you-want experiment. An estimated 1.4 million copies of the album were downloaded almost immediately. The band calls this figure exaggerated. We do know that while one-third of downloaders paid nothing, the majority paid what they considered a normal retail price, most likely between $6 and $10 when you line it up against average prices on iTunes and Amazon.

Radiohead wasn't the first to try this nor will it be the last. The idea is so appealing, Panera's decided to try it. In May, the Panera Bread Company opened it's first non-profit pay-what-you-want restaurant dubbed the St. Louis Bread Company Cares Cafe in Missouri. The results have been so successful, the company will launch to more restaurants this summer.

Last year, we were all up in arms about the economy. It was the single thing on everyone's mind. I remember sitting in traffic listening to NPR on my way home and thinking that this was quite possibly a financial disaster that would devastate us all. I tend not to be reactionary but it certainly felt like bad news. And I wasn't alone in feeling that way.

A year later, things feel slightly different. Though not fixed, arrows seem to be pointing up instead of down. Fear seems individualized and less of an oppressive blanket threatening to smother us all. Banks have tanked, major manufacturers have shut their doors and the oft-cited Main Street has undergone a financial makeover resulting in more than a few boarded-up storefronts. But it feels like the dust is settling.

In light of all of this, do you think the traditional retail model should or could change? And are you better or worse off than you were this time last year?

Posted by Chris at 8:27 AM | Comments (16)

July 19, 2010

Cactus-Fish Kid Truth #3

Owen can still be a little hard to understand. Case in point, this morning Owen asked me where his white cock was. I had an answer all ready to go until it occurred to me that he was asking about a clock. Huh.

Posted by Chris at 8:06 AM | Comments (10)

Quirks

Everyone has their quirks, you know, those little (or sometimes very big) habits that make them, well, them. I've done a little brainstorming and come up with a few of mine.

Whenever I read a story to the kids and accidentally read a sentence the wrong way and leave a word out, I go back and say the words under my breath so they don't feel left out.

Food - prepared food like stuff that's frozen or dairy products - must have an expiration date or I will not consume it.

Leftovers annoy me. I rarely, if ever, eat them.

I will eat no food with an expiration date of September 11th.

I'm vaguely phone-phobic. I don't really enjoy talking on the phone at all.

All of my CDs are organized alphabetically by artist (last name first, in the case of individuals) and, if there's more than one CD by that artist, chronologically.

I lock my car even when its in my garage. Ostensibly I do it to prevent the kids from getting in should they wander out into the garage.

My favorite number is 18. I believe the 18th day of each month will be awesome.

I get chills when I pass some people. I think I'm able to sense when they're bad.

And there you have it - a few of my quirks. You learned something today. Now share. What are yours?

Posted by Chris at 7:06 AM | Comments (36)

Haiku For Monday #327

This week will be a
doozy. And I could use a
less doozyful week.

Posted by Chris at 7:03 AM | Comments (1)

July 16, 2010

The Weeklies #141

The Weekly Milestone. Seven years of blogging. How in the hell did that happen?

The Weekly Explanation. I found myself explaining World War II to my daughter. My five year old daughter. I brought out the globe and everything. I was able to reassure her that Hitler was indeed dead and I steered clear of the whole ethnic cleansing thing. All-in-all a success.

The Weekly Time-Waster. Entangelment. Say goodbye to your afternoon.

The Weekly Read. This week I flew though Jack Kilborn's Endurance. Reviews suggested it would be a freaky horror novel and, frankly, it had been a long time since I'd read a good piece of horror. Endurance didn't disappoint. At all. It was graphic, disturbing, fast-paced and fun like a great 80's slasher flick. Only much, much more fucked up.

The Weekly Great Ad Which Is Most Likely Not Legit. Many of you might remember Jones Big-Ass Truck Rental and Storage, one of the greatest viral clips ever. Jones is back. With Jones Good-Ass BBQ and Foot Massage. And while you're at it, don't miss Jones Cheap-Ass Pre-Paid Legal Advise and Daycare Academy

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson are the schadenfreude gifts that keep on giving but I'm getting tired of talking about them. But there's bigger and better schadenfreude out there. After failing to get a recommended rating from Consumer Reports and then deleting mentions of said report from their own forums, it looks like Apple's finally admitting that they're new iPhone ain't all it's cracked up to be. They've got a dog and pony show scheduled for this afternoon to perform a big mea culpa.

The Weekly Question. What have you discovered as an adult that you've been doing wrong or misunderstood all your life?

Posted by Chris at 7:26 AM | Comments (17)

July 15, 2010

Seven

Seven years ago, I had no children. As a result, seven years ago I actually got to sleep through the night. Beth and I could go take ecstasy and go clubbing (we didn't) or do blow off of each others toned abs (we didn't do that either). Now I have no abs. If there's a six pack, it's buried deep in the cooler. I had no concept of what having children was like. Now, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Seven years ago we moved into a cute little yellow house that we almost immediately outgrew. When we moved in we didn't have much furniture. We improvised, using a couple of outdoor chairs and a sheet-covered vacuum box as our living room furniture. We now live in a house with actual storage rooms and have grown-up furniture.

Seven years ago my hair was wonderfully brown, with no traces of gray Now gray accounts for maybe 35% of the hot follicle action on my head.

Seven years ago, I could see a little better. I now own reading glasses. I don't use them but I own them.

Seven years ago, I'd just entered my thirties. Now I'm marching quickly towards my 40s. There are black balloons and over-the-hill coffee mugs in my near future.

Seven years ago I got this bizarre idea to get online, set up a website and write about my life. Despite the fact that I didn't think it would stick - I'd never before exhibited any will-power when it came to keeping a journal or writing anything - I bought the server space, built the site and started writing. And when the whole site crashed and burned a month later (which is why, if you look at the archives, everything seems to start in August), I rebuilt it and started again. 3,082 entries, 77,937 comments and 2,506,266 hits later I'm still going.

While the design has stayed almost exactly the same, lots of things have obviously changed, not only in my life but in the way I write and how I use the site. I'd be at least partially lying if I said that I'd do it in a vacuum with no readership. The truth is I like writing with an audience and I appreciate the feedback and validation I get. This place lets me be funny, uptight, political, scared, creative and even obnoxious when I can't in real life. It is a true outlet.

I cannot possibly say this with more honesty and conviction - thank you. Thanks to all of you who have read over the years. I've gotten to know quite a lot of you and made some wonderful friendships that might not have otherwise been possible I've appreciated everything all of you have shared with me over the years. The fact that each of you take time out of your busy days is incredible to me. And I am thankful for it...and you.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (45)

July 14, 2010

Tattoo You

There's a lady who frequents our neighborhood pool. She's relatively young - maybe early thirties - she has a one year old boy and is currently quite pregnant. What makes her memorable isn't any of this stuff. It's the fact that she's covered in very mediocre tattoos.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against tattoos. Some are incredibly awesome, true works of art. But some aren't. This would include the arm-length portrait of a dog named Palmer (I know its name is Palmer because the tattoo itself is captioned in large, fancy script just above the elbow) on this woman's right arm. I'm sure she loved the dog. I'm sure it was a very special dog. Maybe Palmer was her only childhood friend after her parents perished in a horrific car accident. Maybe Palmer pulled her from burning wreckage. I get that kind of sentimentality. What I don't get, though, is the Ratt tattoo on her shoulderblade. Ratt? Really? They were, at best, a second-rate hair metal band that had some good hits (Round and Round and Way Cool Jr) but, I'm sorry, they were a poor man's Whitesnake with half the talent and yes I know what I'm talking about because I own the entire Ratt and Whitesnake catalog thankyouverymuch (shut up).

I've always been tempted to get a tattoo. I've just never been able to figure out exactly what wouldn't look terrible thirty years down the line. Plus I just don't think I'm a tattoo kinda guy. I'll just have to get my nipples pierced.

Do you have tattoos? Ever considered one? What's the worst that you've seen?

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (54)

July 13, 2010

Cactus-Fish Kid Truth #2

Mia is the most determined kid I have ever known. Tonight, mere minutes ago, she participated in her swim team's swimathon. She swam for 45 minutes straight. 27 laps. That is determination.

Posted by Chris at 7:36 PM | Comments (14)

Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Suffering From An Acute Case of PTSD

On Sunday night, Beth and I tried something we'd never done before. Get your minds out of the gutter. We left our kids with someone who wasn't directly related to us and went to dinner.

I know you're probably weeping for our poor, sheltered children but you shouldn't. You see, we have by no means a large family but the family we have is all located here, no more than a half hours' drive. As a result, the kids have great relationships with their grandparents, not to mention their aunt, uncle and cousins, and we have built in babysitting. We're not going clubbing every night but we do get out and our children have learned that the world keeps spinning without us. But we don't always want to have to rely on our folks. So we found someone to hang out with the kids for a couple of hours. Not just anyone - the daughter of Mia's most favoritest teacher ever. Her sixteen year old daughter.

Oddly, neither Beth nor I were really freaked out. Its marginally terrifying to realize that this girl is less than half my age. And my paranoia wasn't helped by the steady stream of memories of what I was like at sixteen that flowed through my overactive imagination at dinner.

Let's talk about what I was doing at sixteen.

I was trying to get laid in the back seat of my Jeep. This was easier than expected both from a relationship point of view and logistically (fold-down seats). What was tough was explaining to my parents why I found myself stuck late at night on desolate roads when the Jeep's engine started to tank. I went through six starters in five months and suffered more than one embarrassing phone call and several agonizing waits for AAA.

Around the same time I was infatuated with stealing the giant inflatable Frosty perched on top of the local Wendy's. This was after I was forced to give up on my dream of stealing a giant Bob (you know, Big Boy). As it turned out, they were made of fiber glass and were way too hard to cut through with a hack-saw. My crazy friend Adam and I hatched many plans for capturing the oversized beverage. We made several midnight reconnaissance missions and even took a shot at the thing with a pellet gun, hoping to deflate it. Whatever it was made of was no match for the pellet gun. We never captured the Frosty, long gone since the place is now some lame diner.

And despite the fact that this is what I was like at age 16, I think I could have kept two kids alive for a couple hours.

We returned home to two shriekingly-happy kids and one slightly shell-shocked 16 year old. Mia and Owen immediately demanded we call her to have her over again.

How long do you think it takes your average American teenager to recover from Mia and Owen-induced post traumatic stress? 16 year olds bounce back quickly, right?

Posted by Chris at 6:57 AM | Comments (14)

July 12, 2010

Time To Make The Donuts

Since acquiring my iPhone (and no, this isn't another pro-Apple Steve Jobs love-fest post), I've used it to wake me up every morning. Of course, the same can be said of Owen. Unfortunately, Owen has no snooze button.

It's a toss-up as to which is going to succeed in waking me up.

Since each day demands different things, I've set up a few different alarms all of which I find annoying whenever they happen to go off. My first instinct when I hear my iPhone's jaunty little marimba-laden tune is to throw it across the room but then I remember that the phone was kind of expensive and I love it except when it's trying to wake my ass up. But by then, after I've noodled that through, I'm awake. (Or, more accurately, I've hit snooze a couple times and Beth punches me in the kidneys and says something like get the fuck out of bed - she's not a morning person - which guarantees I get the hell out of bed.)

alarming.jpg

After all this goes down, I stumble. I stumble around the room to find clothes, stumble around the bathroom getting myself clean and ready and then stumble down the stairs to get my stuff before stumbling out to my car to drive into work. Anyone watching would think I was hitting the bottle bright and early. But no. I'm just a parent. That's how I roll.

When do you typically get up in the morning? And what wakes you up?

Posted by Chris at 6:45 AM | Comments (30)

Haiku For Monday #326

I was not ready
to haul my ass out of bed.
Speaking of alarms...

Posted by Chris at 6:44 AM

July 9, 2010

The Weeklies #140

The Weekly Proclamation. Prince claims that the internet is dead so it must be true, right?

The Weekly Read. Richard Flanagan's Evening's Empire was a little daunting at first glance. It was big and thick clocking in at 650 pages and the advanced copy I was sent had tiny print. I contemplated reading it a few times but finally decided to tackle it. I'm so glad I did. The book chronicles 40 years in the of the fictitious band The Ravons and its members, the central character and narrator being Jack Flynn, the band's manager. What I think impressed me most about the novel was the fact that it was so understated. Flanagan had every opportunity to rehash real-life tales of on-the-road depravity - trashing hotel and dressing rooms, nailing groupies, snorting mountains of coke - but he didn't. The Ravons weren't always well behaved but instead of going for over-the-top drama, Flanagan instead focused on the characters, their stories, and the rise and fall of the recording industry. It was fascinating, incredibly well-written, and maybe the best thing I've read so far in 2010.

The Weekly Music. Earlier in the week I copped to the fact that I own Lady Gaga's The Fame. What can I say? Everyone is talking about her. She's more popular on Facebook than the President. I had to see what the buzz was about. And I have to admit though I'm a rock and roll kind of guy, she's got some talent and comes up with some catchy tunes. It borders on pop genius. Maybe it crosses the line. I'm not going to give up my Zeppelin albums or anything, but you could do a lot worse.

The Weekly Foreshadowing. An odd, obscure board game is all the rage these days. It's called BP Offshore Oil Strike. Marketed in the 1970s, the game allows players to build off-shore oil platforms and deal with the cleanup when they inevitably fail. I wish this was a joke.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Lindsay Lohan is headed to jail for 90 days on a probation violation. Now, I'm in no way defending Lohan who is indefensible but shouldn't jail be reserved for truly terrible people who do awful things? Not terrible actresses with substance abuse issues? Lindsay should be sentenced to clean up the homes of parents who have lost their kids to drug abuse or work with ten year old terminal cancer patients. Something that helps her understand that the the world isn't all about her and that there are bigger issues than being relegated to acting in shitty straight-to-DVD movies.

The Weekly Question. Is the internet a fad or does it have staying power? How would you be most impacted if it disappeared overnight?

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (19)

July 8, 2010

Cactus-Fish Kid Truth #1

Owen is a holy terror, leaving a trail of destruction behind him. Mia neatly stacks everything up. The moral? Every kid - whether they're related or not - is different. And slightly insane.

Posted by Chris at 8:35 PM | Comments (5)

A Word Of Thanks

A Facebook friend sent a message out the other day. She helps Veterans out and was looking for notes of encouragement and support for a vet who'd just had a stroke and was understandably depressed as a result. So I wrote one.

_____________

Hi Dewey,

My name is Chris. I'm just an average guy with an average job doing my best to support my wonderful family. I've been married to my wife, Beth, for ten years though we've been together for eighteen years having met and fallen in love in college. I have two extraordinary children. Mia, my almost-five year old daughter, and Owen, my two year old daredevil son. I consider myself to be a relatively patriotic guy. I'm not a rabid flag-waver and my patriotism doesn't blind me to the problems that exist in our country. But I'm a proud American, perhaps prouder since I became a father.

My daughter is on our local neighborhood swim team. Last year when the pool opened for the summer she wanted nothing more than to swim on the team with the big kids. So she worked all year to become a good, strong swimmer. Now she's the smallest, youngest and slowest swimmer on the team but she swims with an unparalleled determination that is inspiring to watch. I know I'm her dad and I'm supposed to believe this with all my heart and soul but it is obvious watching her that she could do or be absolutely anything she set her mind to. And here, in this country, nearly anything is possible.

That's what you fought for.

You served and fought for my daughter's ability to do whatever it is in life she might want to do, to take on whatever challenge she wants to assume. You've played a part in enabling her to achieve her dreams. For that I am truly grateful.

But it's not limited to my daughter.

My son, like his sister, has a blank canvas in front of him. He wants to be a superhero now - Superman, specifically - but I suspect that'll change. And the possibilities in front of him are limitless.

When I was a kid, my parents and I took nearly endless road trips driving - literally - across the country nearly every summer. America is a vast, beautiful country and, like it's people, diverse. There is, I believe, a spirit that runs through America's soil and the minds of its people that is truly unique, something we all need to do our best to recognize, preserve and fight for when needed.

We send men and women into battle to do the right things by our country and its people. It's wrong to assume that our obligation to those men and women ends there. It doesn't. The people who cross oceans and deserts to fight for our freedom - like yourself - deserve not only the thanks of a grateful nation but its perpetual gratitude and support. You, Dewey, have mine. I will be eternally grateful for the part you played in my life. You made it possible for my kids to be anything. And I suspect they'll make us proud.

Thank you Dewey. I wish you a quick recovery. My family and I will be thinking of you.

Sincerely,
Chris

_____________

There are over 23 million veterans living in the United States. Nearly half are over the age of 65. In fiscal year 2008, the federal government spent $84.4 billion dollars on veterans benefits programs. But no amount of money can convey the gratitude of a simple thank you. A number of organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars have established programs to support veterans. Don't forget them. Don't let them be forgotten.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (14)

July 7, 2010

An Evening In The Life

Last week I talked about wondering about strangers, who they are, what goes on in their lives. Whenever I read other blogs - which, admittedly, is rare these days - I wonder what they aren't telling me about their lives. Last night, I had a minor out of body experience. Stepping back, watching the evening play out, it occurred to me that our evenings are just plain odd. Here's a typical one:

I get home from work. If time allows, I change and go to the pool where Beth and the kids actually live (the whole house thing is a total sham - they live at the pool). If not, I shuck the suit and tie in favor of shorts and a t-shirt and bathe the kids, ridding them of sunscreen and chlorine. Then we play for a while. Sometimes its a rousing game of Run Around The House Like A Maniac. Other times its Is Daddy Awake? Then we eat. Eating generally consists of Beth and I tackling our meals while begging Owen and Mia to do the same which results in full-scale, unadulterated, Rod Blagojevich-style bribery (our latest tactic to get Mia to try new foods is to give her a buck if she eats three bites of a new food). After dinner, whoever didn't cook cleans up (because Beth is Superwoman, she usually manages to cook a meal each day which makes me the resident dishwasher). Owen asks me to put on some music so he can dance. I put on Lady Gaga (yes, I own The Fame and it doesn't suck...shut up and stop looking at me that way) and Owen puts on his Scooby Doo suit and dances. Then he finds a microphone and sings along to Just Dance while we explain to Mia what a disco stick is (and by explain I mean make shit up). And then, after explanations are made and dancing is done, we head upstairs to bed. Vitamins are taken, teeth are brushed and books are read. And if we're lucky both kids are asleep by 9:00. We'll have to visit Mia a few times. She'll be reading or listening to music and be totally unwilling to sleep. I'll give her a great reason to sleep and she'll say dumbass with her eyes. Eventually she relents. And we are out by 11:00, having watched some crap we TiVoed or read a book.

I'm guessing that's not your typical evening. Strangely, it is in our house.

What's your evening routine? Is mine uncharacteristically strange?

Posted by Chris at 6:52 AM | Comments (20)

July 6, 2010

Clutching Superman

The problem with having kids - aside from the fact that your clubbing days are effectively over and you have to worry about little people walking in on you during sex (I'm not talking midget porn) - is the fact that one day your kids get old enough to talk and eventually combine this with socialization. They end of talking with other kids who have other ideas that you are not responsible for nor can you control.

It's a blessing and a curse.

For instance, it's a blessing when your child comes home and due to the recommendation of another kid, they want to try carrots and broccoli. Or they've found a new age-appropriate series of books they'd like you to read with them. Or they've decided that soccer looks like fun and want to try it.

But it can turn ugly too. Like when your child comes home requiring that you show her Star Wars immediately despite your warnings that it could be perceived as scary (I don't know about you but Darth Vader freaked my ass out when I saw it at age seven or so) and is then plagued by nightmares about imperial stormtroopers hiding in the closet for a week straight. Or discovers and nurtures an abiding love of Spongebob despite the fact that he's pretty much the most fucking annoying cartoon character invented save The Chipmunks. Or maybe The Snorks who were really just second-rate Smurfs.

Long-story-somewhat-shorter, one of Owen's friends imparted to him the wisdom and wonder that are superheroes. And now Owen is in love with Superman. If he could somehow discover a world in which Wall-E and Superman coexisted, he would be in heaven. So I went out and bought him a Superman action figure which - and this makes me feel like a terrible father depriving his son of everything to which he's entitled - is his first ever action figure. The other night I walked in to his room to look at him sleeping, something Beth and I do with both kids each night. He was clutching his Superman tightly in one hand dreaming, no doubt, of flying over Metropolis saving the world from reanimated dragons, out of control robots or, maybe, broccoli.

Let the days of Superman, The Caped Crusader and The Boy Wonder, and Spiderman begin.

What's your favorite superhero. And if you have super powers, which ones would you want?

Posted by Chris at 7:16 AM | Comments (20)

July 5, 2010

Day Off

I never get a day off or at least a day off on which my company is closed and I don't have to worry about missing some critical email or phone call. Today, however, is one of those days. Im not working and work wouldn't be there even if I wanted it to be. So I'm taking that as something of a sign and taking the day off entirely - professionally and personally.

And it's well-deserved since my kids didn't make it to bed until 10:30 last night because of the hot live fireworks action we checked out and which Owen described as big bright cool loud and my think scary scary scary.

Me, I'm off to the pool. Now that's how you spend a Monday.

Posted by Chris at 8:23 AM | Comments (5)

Haiku For Monday #325

Coffee, breakfast, pool
That's what's on tap for today.
That's independence.

Posted by Chris at 8:22 AM

July 2, 2010

The Weeklies #139

The Weekly Soul-Crusher. The 23 hours I've spent in meetings during the last three business days.

The Weekly Soul Un-Crusher. Long holiday weekend, baby!

The Weekly TV Show I Can't Seem To Stop Watching. America's Got Talent. Okay, so The Hoff is gone but Howie Mandel is so much better. It's a sad and guilty pleasure I know. So sue me.

The Weekly Wise Words From Spam. Change your style. Make your surrenders pay attention when you wear moddish cufflinks. A close second? Your willie stay rock-like.

The Weekly Read. This time last summer I was spending some quality time with the first draft of what would become Marshall Karp's latest novel Cut, Paste, Kill. I just finished the final draft (available in bookstores everywhere!). I loved the novel then and I loved it as much if not more the second time around. It was also interesting to see the tweaks Marshall made over time, to see the book with the cover art Marshall debated, and, of course, to see my family and me in the acknowledgements. All-in-all, Cut, Paste, Kill is a damn fine book. Seriously. You should own a copy.

The Weekly Shocking But Not Really News. Larry King is retiring from his long-running (and ultimately pretty pathetic) CNN talk show. I kinda figured he'd just die in that chair. Like, one day they'd do the little voice-over introduction, pan the camera over to him and then have to say uh, we're sorry everyone, it seems that Larry is dead.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Mel Gibson is in trouble once again. Instead of ranting about Jews and calling officers of the law sugar tits, Mel has apparently beaten the crap out of his former ex-girlfriend and mother of his child while also launching into tirades in which he dropped the n-bomb and expressing his desire for his ex to be gang-raped. Classy dude.

The Weekly Question. I like Cinderella, Little Mermaid and Lady Ga-Ga music. What's your favorite right now?

Posted by Chris at 7:57 AM | Comments (19)

July 1, 2010

Wally

After the first sonogram we had when Beth was pregnant with Mia, we remarked how much like a little lima bean our first child looked. We took to calling her - of course then we had no idea if she'd be a she or a he - Bean. It stuck. She's five and I'd say its pretty evenly split between calling her Mia and Bean. Or Miabean. She's surprisingly okay with it which is good especially since I told her the other night that was unlikely to change. Ever.

Owen proved somewhat more difficult to assign a nickname to. He's known by various names, among them O-man, O-dude, dude, Mr. O, or, simply, O.

A couple of months ago, Owen and I ventured through Target. This is not an expedition for the faint of heart. Owen in Target it like Tiger Woods in a brothel - he must have absolutely everything he sees and take it home immediately. It was less about shopping for me than it was restocking shelves. Anyway, when we sailed through the DVD section he saw a copy of Wall-e. He shrieked robot! and made it abundantly clear that he would not be leaving Target unless accompanied by Wall-e. I caved because I am weak. And slightly mortified by my kid freaking out in public. We checked out and we drove home immediately to watch the movie. Which he absolutely loved with a hitherto undisplayed passion.

Lately - though we haven't watched it in a while - Owen has revisited Wall-e and started pretending that he's the main character. And while that's cute, what's even more adorable is the fact that he refers to Beth as Eve (though he pronounces it, like Wall-e, Eva.

Owen: My am Wall-e. Wall-e love you, Eva.
Beth: Eva loves Wall-e too.

Only recently did Beth remember something interesting. Like I said, Owen's nicknames didn't present themselves early or easily, once he was born. But we did have one for him all through pregnancy.

Wally.

(I just got chills. Did you?)

I'm not sure I'm a great believer in fate or karma or destiny. But being a dad kinda makes even the most skeptical a believer.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (17)


DEC08_RECENT.jpg


DEC08_ARCHIVE.jpg