June 30, 2011

Snap

After bringing the kids home from a karate class the other night, Beth commented you know, we're always snapping photos with our phones so we forget to actually take cameras when we might want them. It was a good point. While I was interviewing people that evening, Beth had snapped a couple shots of the kids doing karate together on her phone and sent them to me. They were great but not exactly print-out-worthy.

But then I thought hey, I bet I have a lot of shots on my phone I've never really taken a good look at. And I was right. I had over 600 pictures I'd shot on my phone. Look!


So my question is this - is your cell phone replacing gadgets like cameras?

Posted by Chris at 7:08 AM | Comments (19)

June 29, 2011

Go The F*** To Sleep

"The eagles who soar thru the sky are at rest
And the creatures who crawl, run and creep.
I know you are not thirsty. That's bullshit.
Stop lying.
Lie the fuck down, my darling, and sleep."

Those are a few lines from the best-seller Go The Fuck To Sleep, a fake children's storybook written by and for frustrated parents. I've got to admit, I've read it and it's funny. Especially the audio version read by Samuel L. Jackson. But as with all things that are funny in an edgy kind of way there's been a backlash. It's probably best articulated by a recent editorial posted to CNN's site. It says, in part:

As the title suggests, "Go the F*** to Sleep" mocks the parental frustrations of trying to lay a child down to bed. Crass in concept and execution, this is an expletive-filled bedtime story intended solely for the amusement of parents.

Nobody is suggesting that there's a connection between Adam Mansbach's book and child abuse or child neglect. Still, there's no denying the reason "Go the F*** to Sleep" should be kept out of reach of children is because of its violent language and because of the way it demeans children.

The violent language of "Go the F*** to Sleep" is not the least bit funny, when one considers how many neglected children fall asleep each night praying for a parent who'd care enough to hold them, nurture them and read to them.

You know, like all those parents depicted in all those beautifully illustrated storybooks.

And I'm having a little trouble understanding the backlash, frankly. If it was a book for kids then sure. Dropping the f-bomb in a kids book? Uncool. But a book for parents? Right on. But unfortunately some can't see the humor. As one CNN commenter stated:

Believe me as a parent I can understand this frustration but I do not find it funny especially with this degrading deplorable language. And believe me I am no prude. The bottom line is if you find this book funny than you really don't love your kids enough to respect them fully.

Now, I'll avoid even throwing in that there were totally bogus analogies to racism included in the misguided editorial and will just say this - are you fucking kidding me?

It's okay if you're not a fan of bad language or think the humor is crass. It should be pretty obvious by the title that this book isn't for you. But folks aren't objecting based on that. They're missing the point and seem to think that parent's shouldn't get frustrated nor should they express that frustration in any meaningful or humorous way. And they're getting mad a satire. It's like saying that Spinal Tap was a disgrace because of the way it misrepresented rock musicians in the 1980's. That was the point!

We're forgetting a lot of things criticizing this book and others like it. First, most enduring children's stories are terrifying. Cinderella is abused, forced into slavery in her own home. The Little Mermaid is horrifically mangled, her voice taken from her. Countless young princesses are married off to old men. But no, apparently these are fine. Second, parenting is frustrating. It's the most frustrating job I've ever had and I once made cowboy hats in a hot, unairconditioned factory in the Texas summertime.

Am I the only one who has read this book or thinks the concept is hilarious? Or are you all just as horrified as CNN?

Posted by Chris at 7:03 AM | Comments (47)

June 28, 2011

Vroom Vroom

When I was a kid, there was this guy who lived down the street from me. He was, maybe, seven years older such that when I was at the age when I thought high school seniors were cool he actually was a high school senior. His life got derailed when he and his Ford Bronco were involved in an accident with a motorcycle. He killed the driver and was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. This, perhaps, colors the story I'm about to tell.

The other day, the four of us were in the car riding home from somewhere when Owen spied someone riding a Harley. He became instantly infatuated and proclaimed his sincere desire to own a motorcycle. Now, I'm not one to limit the options of a child. I want both my kids to have the full panorama of the future unfolded in front of them. But, to Beth and I, jumping on a motorcycle is on par with smoking, unprotected sex, and shooting heroin. Especially around here with unpredictable traffic, huge roads, constant construction and terrible drivers.

Of course, all those arguments meant nothing to Owen because he's three. So we decided to put it into a context he could understand (which is code for we made shit up).

Beth: You know, if you want to ride a motorcycle, you have to get a tattoo.
Owen: Cool! I'll get one!
Me: Really?
Owen: Yeah, then wash it off in the bath.
Beth: No, not one of those. A real tattoo. Put on with needles.
Me: It stays on forever.
Owen: Needles?
Me: Yeah, like lots of shots all in a row.
Beth: So, do you still want a motorcycle?
Owen: Oh yeah!

What we tried to do there was change his mind not because we have anything against tattoos but because the kid hates needles. And...parenting fail. Not only did we lie (to my knowledge there is no actual tattoo requirement for motorcycle ownership) but our lie totally failed and we, in the process, introduced something else we don't want him to long for.

What did you want as a kid that your parents were less than thrilled about?

Posted by Chris at 6:36 AM | Comments (16)

June 27, 2011

Second

Me: Let me ask you a question.
Mia: Okay.
Me: Do you care if you win or lose at swimming?
Mia: Well, as long as I don't get below fourth place. I always want to get better than fourth place. So, I guess if I stay better than that, I don't really care.
Me: What I'm really trying to get at - in my weird, roundabout dad kinda way - is are you having fun?
Mia: Yeah. I'm having lots of fun.
Me: Because - and I really mean this - I don't care if you're first or last, I just want you to have fun.
Mia: Me too. I'm having fun.

I really do mean that. I never want to be one of those parents who push my kids into being more competitive than they need to be or, worse, doing things they couldn't care less about. I just want Mia to have fun. And I think she is.

Mia gets up early for swim practice without attitude (most of the time). And when it comes to competition, I truly don't believe she's nervous or feels any pressure. She just does it. She jumps in the pool, launches herself through the water and swims as if no one is watching. And what she did on Saturday was take second place in the backstroke, an event she's had a little trouble with in the past. We were amazed. She was amazed. It was a hundred shades of awesome.

I want her to have fun. But I also want her to succeed, to have some objective measure of success showing her how amazing she is.

Did you compete in anything as a kid?

Posted by Chris at 8:12 AM | Comments (16)

Haiku For Monday #374

Let's all take the day
off. I'll buy some beer and we'll
hit the pool. Sound good?

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

June 23, 2011

Smokescreen

...according to CNN Nine new graphic cigarette warning labels were unveiled Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration, part of the agency's sweeping new powers to regulate tobacco and tobacco products.

Cigarette packages will now carry one vivid color image and one of these warnings about the consequences of smoking: "Cigarettes are addictive"; "Tobacco smoke can harm your children"; "Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease"; "Cigarettes cause cancer"; "Cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease"; "Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby"; "Smoking can kill you"; "Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers"; and "Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health."

The warnings will cover the upper portion of the pack both front and back. Fifty percent of the package must be covered. The warnings must also cover at least 20% of a cigarette ad.


I started smoking when I was 12. This was slightly astonishing since my dad had quit under pressure from me two years earlier. But looking back on it one, there wasn't anything anyone could have done. I wanted to smoke.

I quit - cold turkey - when I was 25 and started again when I was 30. I quit for good the day after my daughter was born. Again cold turkey yet with the knowledge that I would never start again.

I wasn't a dumb kid. Even at age 12 I knew there wasn't anything good about lighting something on fire and inhaling the smoke. But I'm pretty sure no warning label was going to scare me into stopping...or not starting to begin with.

I'm not saying the labels are a bad idea. They certainly cat hurt. But there's no replacement for good honest parenting. My daughter is deeply offended when she sees a smoker. Now, who knows, she could be like me and change her mind but I'd like to think that at least for now, we're doing something right.

Do you smoke? Did you ever? Will the new labels help?

Posted by Chris at 6:34 AM | Comments (31)

June 22, 2011

The Amazing Mia

My daughter is an awesome superhero. Forgive me if I take a few minutes to brag. Here's why:

- She placed third in her two events at Saturday's swim meet. To put this in perspective, she's the littlest kid - by far - on the team and was last year too when she came in last in every event. This never bothered her nor did she complain. Once. She not only improved her standing but cut her times in half in some cases.

- She wants nothing more than for her teeth to begin falling out. Quite often, she puts her finger in her mouth and wiggles it telling us that they're getting close.

- She loves her brother even though he hits her. Granted, she hits back so I'm sure that helps.

- She got a report card that was positively glowing. If it had letter grades, they'd all been As.

- She's a first-grader. Yeah. A first-grader. How exactly did this happen? Her first year of school flew by and it was an incredibly successful year for her. She mastered the fine art of reading (finishing a second grade curriculum), gained more best friends than you can count on both hands, found two boyfriends (not sure how I feel about that yet), and now knows more math than I do.

Five years and eleven months ago (exactly), this little black-haired creature came into this world. She cried and refused to sleep or eat and was miserable as a result. But she was gorgeous. And she still is. She's turned into quite the little girl. It's been amazing to watch.


Posted by Chris at 7:41 AM | Comments (15)

June 21, 2011

Death and All His Friends

Mommy, daddy, am I going to die?
Is Papa going to die?
What happens after we die? Do we come back?
Do kids die?

All of these questions came hurting towards us at terminal velocity from the back seat after Dick's funeral. They caught us off guard as did the emotion behind them. It shouldn't have been unexpected but it was. I have never seen Owen so completely upset, so obliterated, so incredibly sad. And since Beth and I a very honest with our kids, Mia decided to follow suit.

Owen, after you die you either get put in a box and buried under the ground or you get burned in the fire.

And the tears kept flowing. Justifiably so after that sisterly reassurance.

So we told him the truth without scaring him and when we finally got where we were going, we pulled him out of his car seat and give him the biggest hugs imaginable.

Mia is a sensitive kid about some things but she generally takes everything in stride. She dealt so well with the whole death thing, we were caught off guard by Owens line of questioning. Owen is like me and my dad - he wears his heart on his sleeve and sometimes that can hurt.

The truth is there are just some things we don't know. Combined with the fact that death is really one of those things grownups are trained to ignore, reassurance is hard.

Posted by Chris at 6:52 AM | Comments (11)

June 20, 2011

Thanks of a Grateful Nation

I had the honor of attending my Uncle Dick's funeral on Friday. Despite living in the DC area for over 20 years, I've never had the opportunity to attend a full military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.

I had no idea what to expect but I never expected the experience I had.

We arrived and our family was sequestered in a wood-paneled room. The minister arrived followed shortly by the cemetery representative who walked us through what would happen. Then, a short time later, we were asked to get in our cars and follow the representative. We drove a quarter mile to a circular drive atop a grassy hill. In front of us stood a band, an honor guard and a dozen other soldiers who I don't know enough about these things to classify. There were at least fifty soldiers in full dress. And a horse-drawn caisson carrying my uncle and aunt's remains, covered in an American flag. My first thought - is this all for us?

We were asked if we wanted to walk behind the caisson to the burial site. My mom, dad, Beth and I accepted while the rest of the family including Mia and Owen, followed along in the cars. We walked - at a fast clip - about a mile, through the maze of Arlington. Nearby soldiers stopped and saluted, vistors to the cemetery stood solemnly. We walked, trying our best to keep up with the three horses and soldiers marching ahead of us.

The grave-side ceremony itself took far less time than the actual walk. Maybe ten minutes start to finish. A twenty-one gun salute. Taps. The folding and presentation of the flag to my mother. A few words from the minister.

It was a privilege to be a part of.

I'm always proud to be an American but there are a handful of incidents that have distilled that pride into something almost tangible. This was one of those times. The honor and time and appreciation that goes into honoring our dead, our fallen heroes, is remarkable and it says something about both our people and our government. Here were all these people - these uniformed kids - who, day after day, commemorate the dead and see that their families have some degree of closure, that their fallen brothers are honored.

While I miss and will always miss my Uncle Dick, I'm proud that he served the country and that his dedication and heroism was so wonderfully honored. It's the least we can do to those that helped ensure our continued freedom. And it's a humbling thing to observe.

Posted by Chris at 7:14 AM | Comments (17)

Haiku For Monday #373h

I can only hope
that this week is quieter.
Let's join hands and pray.

Posted by Chris at 7:13 AM | Comments (1)

June 17, 2011

A Little Distracted

I'm going to admit to being a little distracted. So please excuse a slight deviation from The Weeklies. I'm enjoying the internet from the comfort of my new Mac. Yes, I made the switch. Please excuse my while I revel in this technological hotness. And also I'm taking the day off. The universe owes me that after the week I had.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Posted by Chris at 7:33 AM | Comments (20)

June 16, 2011

To My Children in 2031

Dear Mia and Owen,

Hi from the past. It's your dad here. I'm sitting here in the living room banging this out on a computer that, if I told you the specs, would seem pretty ridiculous now since you're probably reading this with your mind or on a hologram or it's being read to you by robot slaves. Anyway, you're in bed now and your mom and I are here glued to archaic computers so I thought I'd write you a letter. (By the way, I know you guys always want to stay up late and are curious about what your mom and I do but the truth is that we watch some TV, maybe play some cards - your mom always kicks my ass - and most of the time talk about you guys.)

Why am I writing from the past? Because I can. And because there are some things I just can't say to you now. You're too young. I give you a lot of credit for being smart but there are just some things you have to be older to understand. Did you know, for example, that your dad is a guy with flaws, imperfections and uncertainties? Dad's are supposed to be uncertain. They're supposed to be strong, stoic, and fun (if those things actually go together).

When I was a kid, I often wondered why I was an only child. At some much later point - I think I was 37 - I finally got around to asking. "It was just, you know, a lot of emotion. It was hard for your dad." That's what my mom said. And that's all she needed to say. My dad - Grandpa - is a lot like me. Or rather, I'm a lot like him. He's passionate and emotional and the most empathetic person I've ever met. He wanted me to grow up strong and smart and to take advantage of the advantages I had. You know, all those things you've heard me say about applying yourself, sitting up straight, realizing your full potential, not hitting each other in the head with stuff. Those are all things I got from my dad. I didn't just accept them as gospel and parrot them at you. Over time they made more and more sense. And seeing you little people they came to mean even more.

I'll admit here and now - the living room, twenty years in the past - that I have not always been nor will I be the best father this world has ever seen. I attribute that largely from the passion that I inherited from my dad. I'm not the most patient person as a result. After all, I taught you your first curse word (dammit) and was perhaps not a heck of a lot of fun to play board games with (especially Candyland because let's all finally admit that Candyland sucks), and I even introduced religion into the household with my frustrated cries of Jesus Christ!. I don't tolerate attitude or entitlement or laziness (unless its my own) and I expect politeness even to sibling who sit and fart on you for no obvious reason.

So I'm not the most patient person on the planet but I am one who loves you with the power of a million blazing suns. And no amount of farting on each other will ever change that. Though twenty years from now we're going to have to talk if that's still going on.

Love,
Your Dad

Posted by Chris at 6:05 AM | Comments (12)

June 15, 2011

May The Force Be With Me

Luke Skywalker
Han Solo
Lando Calrissian
Jabba The Hutt
Kit Fisto
Plo Koon

I've figured out that if Owen wakes up super early I can drag myself out of bed, cuddle with him and if I list as many Star Wars characters as I can, he will counter with another. And I've discovered that I can actually nod off and get a little extra sleep if I can manage to maintain the stream of random characters.

Anakin Skywalker
Ahsoka Tano
Obi Wan Kinobi
General Grevious
Captain Rex
Commander Cody

Unfortunately, because Owen is obsessed with Star Wars and has developed a somewhat encyclopedic knowlede of the galaxy far far away, I run out of names long before he does. And even if I was able to outlast him, no list of Star Wars characters no matter how long could save me from this week.

Princess Leia
Luminara
Yoda
Chewbaca
R2-D2
C3PO

If you looked at my calendar, you'd shudder in fear. Meetings start at 8:00 AM all week long and my schedule is packed with back-to-back meetings and conference calls until 6:00 each evening. I'm trying to figure out exactly when I'm supposed to do all the stuff I talk about in the meetings. Haven't figured that out yet.

Emperor Palpatine
Padme Amidala
Boba Fett
Darth Maul
Jango Fett
Darth Vader

I'm out. And look. I'm awake...to do it all over again. Wish me luck.

Posted by Chris at 6:54 AM | Comments (5)

June 14, 2011

Words

I'm really quick to blame censorship in political correctness, fear and close-mindedness. I say that it's needless and that it's a result of oversensitivity and a fundamental fear of hurting anyone's feelings.

I was listening to a podcast on the way home yesterday and the hosts played a clip from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In the clip, Sean Penn calls other surfers a bunch of fags. That combined with the fact that no matter how many times I typed it fags was autocorrected to tags got me thinking. Maybe I'm wrong about all the political correctness. Maybe some historically aware folks took a look back and realized that while sticks and sticks and stones did break bones, words left a lasting impression that outlived even the deepest physical scar.

When we were in college, Beth and I got the chance to take a class taught by James Farmer. Farmer was a civil rights pioneer. He marched with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. He rode in the front seats of buses in protest. He was hosed in the streets of the south and beaten and jailed along with his brothers. The class was one night a week for a semester. For two hours we'd listen to farmer, then blinded and wheelchair bound by diabetes, sing the protest songs they'd sung on the bus, tell stories from their marches, recall life on the road with MLK. It was amazing. By the time the final rolled around, we realized that there was virtually nothing to study. It didn't matter. The final exam was nothing but simple multiple choice questions. There was no way to fail. What was important was, as with Farmer himself, the experience.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that most likely behind every claim of political correctness, there's most likely been suffering, been struggle, been a fight. And, personally, I shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the fact that words are important.

Dr. Farmer died a few years ago. His memory lives on at our old school where he is memorialized. Rightly so. He is a true hero, luckily one that I was personally able to learn from.

Have you ever met a hero?

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

June 13, 2011

On Your Marks

Mia's time trials for swimming were this weekend...and with that starts the summer swimming season.

Saturday mornings this summer will all play out the same way. We'll be up at six, furiously packing up everything we need for the long day ahead. We'll have the is it too hot for coffee, oh hell no it isn't debate. We'll throw on our team shirts. Invariably I'll bitch about something because this is an activity that requires me to be social and I don't like being social especially first thing on a Saturday morning. Then we'll head out the door, pack a neighborhood swimming pool, and cheer for our kids. And the entire team will gaze in wonder as Owen tries to eat a donut the size of his head.

Wednesday nights will be similar, complicated by the fact that I'll be freshly home from work and dinner will be something of an issue for all of us. We'll shove something marginally nutritious into our kids or just hope the pizza the home team snack bar ordered is decent. Then we'll cheer for our kids. When all is said and done, it will be dark and we'll be racing to get our kids clean before they fall asleep.

It'll be an interesting season. On Saturday, Mia - five years old, almost six - smoked some other kids in the eight and under category. I smell some blue ribbons. If not, there's always the fun of being with family and friends...not to mention those head size donuts.

What are you most looking forward to this coming summer?

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

Haiku For Monday #372

Frabjous day my
ass. Mimsy your borogroves
dear Lewis Carroll.

Posted by Chris at 6:35 AM | Comments (7)

June 10, 2011

The Weeklies #179

The Weekly Work Annoyance. Five hour meetings. Especially two them back to back.

The Weekly Sign of the Returning Summer. Swim team is back. Mia's already getting tan and blonder. Time trials tomorrow!

The Weekly Infestation. There was a mouse in our house. We know this because it got caught in a glue trap intended for insects. Poor guy. I'm more disturbed by the fact that he was killed than the fact that he was in our house to begin with.

The Weekly Read. Steve Hamilton - noted mystery author - crafted something truly special when he wrote The Lock Artist. I've never read anything else by the man so I'm not sure if it's an anomaly but I'm positive that it's the output of a talented author. The Lock Artist tells the fascinating tale of a safe cracker. It's rife with tales of his jobs but the more poignant tale is his own personal one - the one that made him stop talking at age eight. The story is really well told, utterly captivating, and instantly likable. High marks for this one.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Twitter-Perv Anthony Wiener in the Weekly Schadenfreude.

The Weekly Music Question. In the absence of any musical discussion this week, I have to first acknowledge that I'm in something of a musical rut. So, what are you listening to lately?

Posted by Chris at 7:55 AM | Comments (17)

June 9, 2011

Field Day

Mia's annual Field Day/Bring Your Dad To School Day was this week. And of course, being a hopelessly devoted father to my little Bean, I took what I could of the day off and went. During the course of the day, I realized (or in some cases reconfirmed) several things.

Thing One. I have an almost phobic aversion school. I love Mia's school and adore her teachers but being back in a school setting, being part of the daily routine, having attendance taken, made me just a bit anxious. This isn't something new. I've avoided school like the plague since I graduated from college. I was always something of a reluctant student. Still am.

Thing Two. Kids are freakishly hilarious especially as a group. Going into Mia's class I felt how old explorers must have felt when they explored the Amazon basin and found a tribe of people who'd previously had no exposure to the outside world. They had a language and set of social rules and mores all their own. I caught on but got the feeling I was only scratching the surface.

Thing Three. The people who try to organize massive amounts of elementary school kids around twenty-something games are hopelessly optimistic people who have never tried to herd cats, or have tried but dont mind the sense of mild defeat.

Thing Four. Teachers - good teachers like Mia's this year - are horrifically under appreciated. Watching Mia's teacher teach was like watching a tennis pro return a serve or a doctor operate. Especially impressive since Mia's teacher is approximately 14 years old and shouldn't be nearly as good as she is.

That's what I learned from my kids this week. How about you?

Posted by Chris at 6:24 AM | Comments (12)

June 8, 2011

Who Exactly Are You?

All of us come from somewhere.

I'm French-German on my dad's side. It's where the hard-assed stoicism and love of cheese comes from, I suppose. On my mom's side I'm supposedly descended from the very pilgrims who rode over on the Mayflower. But that might be bogus or a convenient cover for an irrational love of buckles. Those French-Germans became farmers in and around Ohio, then business owners. They owned hardware stores and box factories and erected churches. The pilgrims went on to do similar things, some becoming gangsters in prohibition-era California. All of them raised families and went to war. Most returned and picked up where they'd left off. Which all leads to me, a French-German South American-born Pilgrim who enjoys cheese but has no particular fascination with buckles.

Who are you?

Posted by Chris at 7:40 AM | Comments (32)

June 7, 2011

...And The Kitchen Sink

I've mentioned it before - we're gutting our kitchen. We don't know exactly when but it's got to be soon because knowing that there's a light at the end of this particular tunnel has made living in our current kitchen frustrating. The floor's uneven with grout falling out, the cabinets are crap and some of them are built over outlets and AC vents, and there's this one particularly vicious, carnivorous drawer that comes off its rails and chomps on human fingers whenever it gets the chance. And, of course, it's the one room where we spend most of our time.

We talked to our contractor and he set us up with what sounded like an easy, fun task - put together a list of everything you want.

- kitchen of the future that cleans itself
- walk-in pantry
- maid
- floors that don't fall apart
- french doors that lead to a back patio
- a butler
- double ovens
- pot lights (lights in the ceiling, not grow lights...sheesh)
- USB-equipped wall sockets
- masseuse (cos why not?)

This is by no means a fully thought-out list. In fact, its terribly malformed because I just came up with it off the top of my head since I don't have our real list handy. But here's where I need you - what are we missing? What's in your kitchen that you can't live without? If you could have your kitchen equipped with anything, what would it be?

Posted by Chris at 7:03 AM | Comments (44)

June 6, 2011

Dorothy, 2008-2011

On Saturday afternoon, June 4, 2011, and after over two and a half years of loyalty to Mia, Dorothy The Goldfish passed away.

Beth discovered Dorothy's passing just as she was finishing up getting Mia tucked in. We voted to tell her in the morning then we both thought better of it. When we both walked into her room she knew that something was up. First she smiled then she seemed to sense that bad news was coming. I told her Dorothy was gone and her face fell. To say that the news was not well-received would be something of an understatement. Mia was devastated.

Services for Dorothy were held yesterday morning. Dorothy lies in our backyard, under a newly purchased and planted foxglove. Dorothy's body will nourish the plant and we will forever be able to see her beauty when she and the flowers bloom each spring.

Safe home, Dorothy.

Posted by Chris at 7:02 AM | Comments (12)

Haiku For Monday #371

Staying in bed was
the preferable but least
profitable choice.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (1)

June 3, 2011

The Weeklies #178

The Weekly Climate. Hot. Damn hot. Africa hot.

The Weekly Cool Political Move. 33-year-old Harper Reed is the President Obama's new Chief Technology Officer. He's the former CTO for Threadless. Very cool move.

The Weekly Read. In concept, Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovich was brilliant - a London cop finds himself learning magic as an apprentice in a little-known police division. It's like Law & Order meets Harry Potter in a gritty urban fantasy. And it's wonderfully written. Aaronovich is witty and snarky but doesn't let the humor undermine the seriousness of the tale he's telling. There is no reason I shouldn't have liked this book...but for some reason the longer I read, the more distracted I got. It wasn't bad but it didn't hold my attention for great lengths of time. I suspect it was me, not the book. I'm even willing to read the follow-up just to see.

The Weekly Music. Like many, I took advantage of Amazon's Lady Gaga deal. After all, they were selling the new album, Born This Way, for a buck. Hard to go wrong there. Now, I know what you're thinking - you listen to Lady Gaga? Truth be told, her last album was brilliant. And she's nothing if not a shrewd marketer. What I liked about her last album is noticeably absent in this one - hooks. The first album was compulsively listenable. This one seems a bit flatter, a bit more mechanical. There's not much that draws the listener in and compels him to keep on listening. That said, it's not a bad album. Just not as good as her last.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. John Edwards has had a bad year. He has an affair, a child with another woman, his estranged wife dies after a protracted battle with cancer and now a grand jury is set to indict the former vice presidential candidate on charges that he used campaign funds to cover up his affair. The only thing worse would been if he'd actually been elected before all this blew up.

The Best Customer Complaint Letter Ever. Comedian Eugene Mirman got sick of Time Warner's service. Or lack thereof. So he wrote a letter then promptly took out a full page newspaper ad to publish said letter. It's brilliant. You can read the letter itself here and watch the author read it here.

The Weekly Question. What's your favorite thing about summer?

Posted by Chris at 7:10 AM | Comments (14)

June 2, 2011

Discourse

Opinions are like assholes - everyone's got 'em. I get that. And I certainly don't begrudge anyone their opinions nor would I ever tell anyone what they should and shouldn't believe. But some people either cross the line or share way too much. Case in point, the car I was behind on the freeway this morning.

It was a white SUV with Colorado plates. Sandwiched between the Terrorist Hunting Permit and No You Can't bumper stickers was one that truly frightened me. Black text on a white background, it read, simply, Doctor Kevorkian for White House Physician.

There's a difference between expressing a political opinion and wanting someone dead. One is a right, the other is irresponsible. But its indicative of the sorry state of politics. Instead of talking about issues, we just call each other names in the hope that one off them sticks. I'm rubber, you're glue. Those of us who give a damn get shafted out of real political discourse. Fucking disgraceful is what it is.

Am I off-base? Does a bumper sticker like that cross some sort of line?

Posted by Chris at 7:42 AM | Comments (16)

June 1, 2011

You Can Never Go Home Again (Only You Kinda Can)

Over the weekend, the four of us went on a mini road trip. We headed down to Fredericksburg, about an hour outside of Monkeytown. It's where Beth and I went to college, met, lived, worked and played for five years of our lives.


We hit the campus first. Time marches on but surprisingly little changed in the last fifteen years. And the same can be said about the town. Sure, giant strip malls line the major roads and there's an area of town that seems to last for miles comprised only of restaurants and retail stores. But Fredericksburg itself - the old part, the part Washington knew - hadn't changed at all. The music store was right where I left it. The drug store that still sported an actual soda fountain was intact. Our favorite restaurant hangout was still there, still serving the same wonderful meals we'd eaten as poor college students. Our old apartment complex actually looked a little better than it had when we lived there. And there was no Starbucks to be seen.

Inevitably the kids loved most of all. (It's like giving a kid the best toy ever and having him love the box it came in even more.) They unpacked, packed, and unpacked again. Mia even hung her underwear and socks on those hangers with the little clips on them. Every inch of the place had to be explored.

It's true - you can never really go home again. But sometimes the evolution one place is slower than others. And thank god for that.


Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (5)


DEC08_RECENT.jpg


DEC08_ARCHIVE.jpg