November 30, 2011

Zen And The Art Of Legos

Owen loves Legos. So do I. We get out the bin of Legos, dump them on the floor and play them all the time. And it's then that I realize just how completely patient Owen can be. Because I'm a pain in the ass to play Legos with.

I'm not obsessive-compulsive by any stretch of the imagination. I used to think I was but then a shrink told me that I was slightly anxious and slightly depressed. That said, building Legos calms me in much the same way that lining up all my books used to (they've been donated) and making sure all my digital music has the right cover art does (I'd line up my CDs but they took up way too much room so I ripped them and packed them away). There's just something relaxing about making sure things are just so, lined up, symmetrical.

I think I know why this is. In life - mine, at least - there are few binary things, few things that are right or wrong, on or off, black or white. There's an undeniable symmetry to Legos, an order you can impose. An order that isn't subjective. It's just there.

You can totally tell, now, that playing Legos with me is no fun, right? I totally overthink it. But that's pretty much how I am about most things.

Posted by Chris at 7:56 AM | Comments (9)

November 29, 2011

Drink Locally

Two seemingly unrelated facts that I promise to tie together:

1. I like beer. Really, I do.
2. It's almost my birthday yet, because Beth and Mia will be so busy over the next couple of weeks rehearsing and performing, Beth took me out for my birthday on Saturday.

We left early on Saturday - like 80 year olds would on a date - and headed to Alexandria. For those of you not familiar with the Greater Monkeytown Area, Alexandria is a very old town that sits on the Potomac River just a stones throw from Monkeytown itself. Our destination? Port City Brewing Company. It sat in a nondescript warehouse in a nondescript area of a regularly descript town. When we got inside, we were greeted by a pretty large crowd and some very enthusiastic Port City employees eager to give us all kinds of beer to try. Sure, twist my arm. After trying a few varieties, we took the tour. And two very related facts that surprised me were shared:

1. Port City is less than a year old.
2. Before Port City's arrival, there were no breweries in the DC area.

The tour was impressive, the people who ran the joint were even more so, and the beer was, of course, excellent. Afterwards, Beth and I drove into Old Town Alexandria, walked around, reminisced about past homecoming and prom dates we'd had in the area, then ate wonderful tapas. And then the Great Thanksgiving Cold (which wasn't so great) hit me so we went home around the time 80 year olds would.

I learned several moderately related things from my trip to Port City:

1. Finding something that you love (beer) and pursuing it (beer) has to be a damn fine job.
2. The closer you are (geographically and emotionally) to something you consume, the more you appreciate it. Regardless of the fact that Coors is shitty beer, kicking back with a Coors that was mass produced in a giant factory hundreds of miles away doesn't seem nearly as satisfying as opening a bottle of beer that a few folks took a lot of care and patience to make just down the street.
3. It's easy to say you'd like to do that whole eat local thing but harder to actually follow through. It takes two to tango - someone to produce and someone to consume. It should be easier for small businesses to produce things that support their immediate community.

So, yeah, I got all that from a trip to a kick-ass brewery. Well, that and a nifty buzz.

Posted by Chris at 7:20 AM | Comments (9)

November 28, 2011

10 Things I Am NOT Thankful For

The holiday was great. Lots of time spent with family and just geting to hang out together. And, like I mentioned last week, I have a lot of things to be thankful for. But there's a flip side to that coin. In lieu of an incredibly poignant post or recap of the long holiday weekend which I am not currently capable of, I give you this, the 10 Things I Am Not Thankful For.

1. The Capital Beltway, an 8-lane terror-filled ride around Washington DC
2. My sleep number bed. I can't get comfortable. My sleep number is apparently something like 358 and the thing only goes up to 100
3. Pepper spray
4. Cyber Monday
5. The rate at which the gazillion dollar two year old playhouse in the backyard is decaying for no apparent reason
6. Some of the photoshop work I did populating old movie posters with my in-laws. Some worked well (like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) while others didn't (Doctor Zhivago)
7. Herman Cain
8. The five extra pounds I've gained over the last four days
9. Re-entry into the real world and the week ahead
10. The post-Thanksgiving cold my kids kindly donated

How were your holidays? And what are you not thankful for?

Posted by Chris at 7:19 AM | Comments (6)

Haiku For Monday #391

Rip Van Winkle was
one lucky bastard. But was
clearly unemployed.

Posted by Chris at 7:08 AM

November 22, 2011

Thankful Trees

Every year Mia makes us all cut out leaves and trees out of colored paper. Every Thanksgiving before we devour our Thanksgiving dinner, we break them out and write what we're thankful for on each leaf. Then we glue them to our trees. They're our Thankful Trees.

I've decided that I shouldn't be caught without a few ideas in my back pocket on Thursday. I've come up with a list.

I'm thankful for:

Beer. Yeah, I sure do like beer. You can have your wine, fancy drinks with umbrellas and medicinal brown drinks that taste like you did something bad to deserve drinking something so awful and give me beer any day.

Music. Life would suck without music. And it would be a whole lot quieter. I'm especially thankful for insanely long progressive rock pieces that would drive most of you insane and give you ample cause to doubt my musical tastes. But I like it all, or at least most of it - old-fashioned rock and roll, British invasion, art-pop, arena rock, 80's guilty pleasures, power ballads and metal. Give me a world with shitty music over a world with no music any day.

Books. Music and books go hand in hand...not literally because I can't really read and listen to music at the same time. Maybe I'm just not bright enough to do both simultaneously. Books - in their electronic or old-school paper form - are pretty awesome. Imagine, there's this little thing that you can become completely and utterly lost in. The power is amazing. Give me a book and a quiet room and I'm a happy guy.

Technology. Our wired world is a little overwhelming. We're probably all too connected and one day we'll figure out the balance. But even though we're a generation with noses buried in cell phones, it's a pretty awesome time to be alive. And I can only imagine what technology will bring five or ten years down the road.

A job. Speaking of technology, I wouldn't have a good job without it. Not everyone has a job right now. I'm thankful for mine and the quality of life it affords me and my family.

America. I'm a little cynical when it comes to our country and politics but I have absolutely no doubt that this is the greatest country in the world. I could have been born a citizen of any corner of the globe but I was born a citizen of this country. We have issues, yeah, and sometimes seem to proud (or stupid) to resolve them but if anyone can, it's us.

Family. There is absolutely nothing I am more thankful for than my family and nothing I cannot do without their support and love. It's been a tough year for us. We've had to say some goodbyes and that's hurt. I am so very thankful for Beth, Mia and Owen not to mention my immediate and extended family who often drive me batshit crazy but only because they love me and I love them.

I'm taking a couple of days off to kick back, hang with all the things I'm thankful for and enjoy the holiday. I am, of course, thankful for all of you. After so many years, you still read, still take the time to comment or drop me an email, and share your thoughts. I sincerely hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

What's on your Thankful Tree?

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

November 21, 2011

God Gave Rock And Roll To You

Getting Owen dressed in the morning is usually something of an adventure. He asks me to pick something for him to wear, I inevitably pick wrong, and he gets cranky. Or I ask him to pick what he wants to wear (because I inevitably pick wrong) and he gets cranky. Plus, he just likes to be naked. But sometimes it's just plain confusing.

Owen: I want the birthday party everyday shirt.
Me: What?
Owen: The birthday party everyday shirt.
Me: The what shirt? Birthday party?
Owen: Yeah. Birthday party everyday.
Me: I don't get it. You don't have a birthday party shirt.
Owen: Birthday party everyday!
Me: Still, not getting it.
Owen: Rock and roll!
Me: I wanna rock and roll all night and party everyday?
Owen: Yes!
Me: Oh, you want your Kiss shirt?!
Owen: Yep!
Me: Okay, cool. I can do that.

Yeah, my kid has a Kiss shirt. Owen rocks. Literally and figuratively rocks.

Posted by Chris at 7:52 AM | Comments (11)

Haiku For Monday #390

How do you solve a
problem like Maria? You
nuns heard of duct tape?

Posted by Chris at 7:48 AM

November 18, 2011

The Weeklies #194

The Weekly Affliction. Traffic. It's awful around here. Worse than ever. Yesterday alone I had a day long meeting at a client's place. It was 30 miles from my house. I spent four hours in my car getting there and back. Seriously. I could have been at the beach in less than that time. Which would be appealing if it wasn't so damn cold.

The Weekly Read. I've been busy this week and incredibly bibliographically negligent.

The Weekly Music. My friend Scott and I revisited a Robert Plant performance captured on NPR. It is a fantastic testament to the maturation of a rock and roller. You should really give it a listen.

The Weekly Special Day. Beth's birthday was on Monday. That's an incredibly special day if you ask me.

The Weekly Dead Movement. Occupy Wall Street. Okay, it might not be officially dead. There are some die-hards hanging on to the movement for dear life and I admire them. But we're clearly on a downward slope here, right?

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Conrad Murray - Michael Jackson's medical bitch - was convicted of manslaughter. The guy fucked up in a major way - I don't dispute that - but we all know Jackson was pretty hell-bent on his own destruction and probably would have succeeded without Murray's help. That's no excuse. What he did was wrong. But he wasn't in on it alone.

The Weekly Question. Conrad Murray was immediately handcuffed and hauled off to jail. Frankly I don't think he's a threat to others. Nor do I think Lindsay Lohan deserved jail time. Sure, she's an idiot and will never win Woman Of The Year but lockup seems a little unnecessary. Should non-violent offenders really serve jail time?

Posted by Chris at 7:17 AM | Comments (6)

November 17, 2011


Take a minute and look at the picture. How many toothbrushes do you see?

I did a hard-target search of every bathroom in the house. Total toothbrushes? Eight. Beth and I each have one, the fancy electric variety. But for some reason the kids need three. Each. Superheroes are well-represented by Spiderman and Captain America. Wall-e and Eva make an appearance as does Hello Kitty. More old-school though suction-cupped brushes round out the lineup.

I'm not sure how many toothbrushes we need. Eight, apparently.

Posted by Chris at 6:57 AM | Comments (8)

November 16, 2011

You Really Pay Attention

You guys pay attention, and have for years! I post about celebrating Beth's birthday and you guys ask if I made fettuccine Alfredo. Seriously, if I was a junior high school English teacher I'd be handing out A+ grades for years of great reading comprehensive. During the course of the last couple weeks, actually, I've realized that like the final season of Lost, I've managed to leave quite a few plot threads unanswered. So allow me to tie a few of those up for you. (It's a sad excuse for a post, sure, but it's all I got right now.)

Celebratory Alfredo. I did, in fact, make Celebratory Fettuccine Alfredo, Beth's most favorite food. It was wonderful if I do say so myself (and I do) as anything would be with that amount of butter, cheese and cream. I think I might have grown another butt.

Renovations. We haven't come all that far in our renovation plans. In fact, we're just where we were when I last talking about it. We call it "the planning phase" but really we're just sitting on our asses. In our heads, we've already destroyed a living room and a dining room, expanded our garage, built a sunroom and added a new deck and fire pit. Ahh, but there's the whole issue of budget.

Rehearsals. Mia and Beth continue to rehearse for their grand Christmas production. They're usually out two or three nights a week. This allows Owen and I some male bonding time and, after he's out, some prime sitting on my ass time. Which is great what with that new butt I grew from the fettuccine.

Work. Work is work. I'm busy. I'm busier than busy, actually. Luckily, I'm getting busy in the basement. Wait. That didn't sound right. What I meant to say is that I'm working from home quite a bit. The two flights of stairs are far better than the 45 minute, 11 mile commute (yes you read that right) I face when I try to drive to my actual office.

Music. I've lapsed into this odd progressive rock phase where songs are about as long as your average sitcom. It's kind of where I started musically. I've come full circle.

Death. Speaking of coming full circle, Owen is still obsessed with death. Specifically, Uncle Dick's death. We'll be having a nice conversation around the dinner table about, you know, Mia's homework or my day at work and then Owen busts out, "so when you die, daddy, will you get burned and go in a small box or get buried in the ground?" It's not like he's obsessed. He's just intensely curious at very odd times.

There. I think you're all caught up. And how are you?

Posted by Chris at 7:25 AM | Comments (7)

November 15, 2011

Rolling Bones

In celebration of Beth's birthday, we did something odd on Saturday night - we ate bad Vietnamese food and went gambling. Now, to be clear it wasn't our intent to eat crappy Vietnamese food. We hit a local restaurant we'd never tried, the food was sub-par and we won't be going back. But we went gambling on purpose.

We live in Northern Virginia which is right at the cross roads of any number of states - Pennsylvania, Maryland, Deleware, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. And gambling is totally legal in West Virginia. We've both lived around here for a good long time but neither of us had ever made it to Charles Town in which the largest casino and horse track is located. So we remedied that.

After our shitty Vietnamese dinner, we pointed the car to Charles Town in anticipation of a highly-ironic and tacky evening. We weren't disappointed. Charles Town's Hollywood Casino is essentially a gigantic warehouse. A nicely appointed warehouse, sure, but still a warehouse. It's a smoky (yes, you can still smoke inside in West Virginia) maze of restaurants - from a food court (which was honestly the nicest food court I've ever seen) to upscale steakhouses - and themes and games and bars. It sports more slot machines than I've ever seen in one place (and that includes Vegas) and there are pockets of table games all over the place. We tried our hands at the slots (that sounds dirty) but lost everything we had. We had only slightly better luck at roulette but we eventually walked away empty handed. But it was more fun to watch the people anyway.

It was a diverse crowd. On one hand you had back-woods West Virginia residents who seemed as if they came with their paycheck every week. On the other was the DC contingent, the people like us who drove over the mountains from the Washington area to see what was going on and lay some money down. It was a hell of a mix.

We were done after a couple of hours, having had enough irony for one evening. So we drove home, relieved Beth's parents who'd been kind enough to hang out and get the kids to bed, and had a couple of beers. There's no irony in beer.

Posted by Chris at 7:34 AM | Comments (6)

November 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Beth!

Today is the birthday of the hottest, smartest, most caring and fantastic wife and mother who has ever walked the planet. It's Beth's birthday!*

I was talking to someone the other day who asked how long Beth and I have been together. It was mind-boggling. In a very good way. We've been married for 12 years and together for over 18. We're rapidly approaching the point at which we've been together longer than we've been apart. And I can't wait. While I don't believe another person can ever define someone, I do believe that Beth has made me who I am today. She's a fantastic wife. She helped me bring two incredible kids into the world. And at the end of the day she's a hard-ass who doesn't take any of my shit. I need that.

Beth, I love you immensely. You are amazing and I'm grateful every day that 25** years ago you were brought into this world. I love you. Happy birthday.

* for those of you who thought I was talking about Florence Henderson - you know who you are - ew.
** Okay, she was totally not 12 when we hooked up because, again, ew, but a guy doesn't spill his wife's age. And she totally looks 25.

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

Haiku For Monday #389

Lamp, chair, couch, TV,
twelve loads of laundry. Just shit
in my living room.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM

November 11, 2011

The Weeklies #193

Have a listen or - download it or stream it in your browser - if you'd like.

The Weekly Thing I'm Trying Not To Forget. Flossing.

The Weekly Music. After years of bad behavior, Oasis finally called it quits last year. I always liked Oasis but I wouldn't call myself a huge fan. For whatever reason I was enamored with the idea of Noel Gallagher's new effort Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. I downloaded it on Tuesday when it hit the virtual shelves and immediately gave it a listen. How is it? It's pretty darn good Oasis-like British rock. It's nothing short of refreshing to hear such well-crafted rock and roll complete with the occasional string section and horns to punctuate the already vibrant music here. It's not going to be number one on my list of 2011 releases but it's going to chart.

The Weekly TV Show. I am completely and utterly absorbed in The Walking Dead. We waited a good long while to give the show a shot. I wasn't expecting to like it. I was so, so wrong. Yes, it's gory and scary and a bit over the top but what makes it so incredible is the writing. It is so brilliantly written, so clever, and so character-driven you get sucked in almost instantly. We finished the first season in a matter of days and have moved on to the second season airing now.

The Weekly Read. I have a soft spot for Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. It defies all logic. You know what you're going to get - a wandering hero, a small town, rampant injustice. The novels are all formulaic yet they're all incredibly good. The Affair was no exception. In it we find a younger Reacher just before the end of his career as a military cop. Then we find a small town and rampant injustice as we all knew we would. There's no reason to keep falling for the formula yet I do and it works again and again. The Affair is pretty darn good and a great place to start if you're interested in Lee Child's novels...not that there's any particular order to them.

The Weekly Kid Joke Stylings. Knock-knock.

The Weekly Controversial Statement. The events at Penn State this week are a perfect example of the fact that big money-making sports programs often cause people to look the other way.

The Weekly Question. Did Penn State handle their mess correctly? What should happen from here on out?

Posted by Chris at 7:17 AM | Comments (4)

November 10, 2011

Baby Hoarders

I opened a can of worms on Facebook so I figured I'd open one here as well. What am I talking about? The article I stumbled on earlier this week which read, in part:

"Every child deserves to be excited they are a part of life," Michelle tells PEOPLE after just revealing that she is pregnant with her 20th child. "Even when we were having our 5th and 6th [kid] … we would celebrate each pregnancy."

The reality stars have faced mounting criticism over the size of their family and the risks of Michelle's new pregnancy following the premature birth of their daughter, Josie, in Dec. 2009. But the couple insists that Josie's frightening premature birth and Michelle's life-threatening preeclampsia were not enough to convince them that 19 kids were enough.

Look, I'm an only child. I don't get the whole sibling thing. I don't know what it's like to have brothers and sisters. From that perspective I don't understand the whole life as a Duggar kid any more than I understand the dynamic that Mia and Owen have beyond my own observations.

But I am a parent.

Two kids is enough for us. Parenting is rewarding like no other responsibility can possible be. But it's also tough. We drew the line at two. Two kids seemed like the maximum number that we, as parents, could give our full attention to and rase the way we wanted to raise. Also, Beth's second pregnancy was wonderful but harder on her than the first. The delivery and immediate aftermath were scary. The recovery took longer. And I didn't want Beth to go through that again and hav an even harder time.

So when you roll all of these factors into a giant burrito of truth, I just can't understand how having 20 children is a good idea.

I have a theoretical understanding of how fantastic large families can be. I understand the passion for kids and the allure of more. But I don't undertand how parents could possible spread their attention across so many kids and end up, at the end of the day, with healthy relationships with each and every one of them. I certainly don't understand a parents willing to put her life in jeopardy to the detriment of her entire and very large family that needs a mother.

I've never walked in the Duggars' shoes so far be it from me to pass judgment. But my hunch is that this isn't normal.

Posted by Chris at 7:25 AM | Comments (20)

November 9, 2011

Bustle In Your Hedgerow (Don't Be Alarmed Now)

Stairway To Heaven is officially 40 years old. Which is really saying something when you consider the fact that it's generally voted one of the top rock songs ever recorded.

I've always had a soft spot for Led Zeppelin. They were part of a holy Atlantic Records trifecta with Yes and Genesis that influenced my love of music early in my life. My early teen years were spent rocking out to Physical Graffiti and Houses of the Holy cranked up to eleven. Though Stairway isn't my favorite Led Zeppelin song (that title probably goes to Ten Years Gone or When The Levee Breaks), I think I can objectively say that it's one of the greatest, most epic and iconic songs committed to record.

There are few songs that can stand beside it in a head-to-head battle of rock epic greatness. Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd), Crossroads (Eric Clapton) and Yours Is No Disgrace (Yes) are pretty good contenders. So are Layla (Derrick and the Dominos), and Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones). The entire second half of Abby Road (The Beatles) could give it a run for its money. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen), Won't Get Fooled Again (The Who) and American Pie (Don McLean) could also pose a pretty good rivalry. But those kinds of songs just aren't written and recorded every day.

So, happy birthday Stairway To Heaven.

What's your vote for most iconic song?

Posted by Chris at 7:28 AM | Comments (7)

November 8, 2011

Cutting The Cable

The other day I sat down on the couch and flipped through easily 400 channels and there was nothing - absolutely nothing - to watch. Or, rather, nothing I wanted to waste my time on. So I flipped on my Wii, logged into Netflix and watched something there instead. Which got me thinking...we could totally cancel our cable subscription and, most likely, never know the difference.

We have the aforementioned Netflix subscription, an Amazon Prime membership and Hulu Plus so we've got a bit streaming entertainment potential. But while the glory of Netflix is easy to capture in our living room, Amazon's video streaming for Prime members and Hulu aren't quite that handy. Owen and I headed to the local big box store that I loathe and picked up a little device called Roku. It sounds like sushi but it's not. It's basically a hockey puck sized thing that sits next to your TV and streams movies and TV from about 300 different sources. Cool. I plugged it in and I was good to go.

So we're trying a cable-avoidance campaign. So far, we've caught the latest episodes of House and Grey's Anatomy, rediscovered The Daily Show (which I could never remember to DVR) and are halfway through the all-too-brief first season of The Walking Dead. When they're allowed to watch TV, the kids are perfectly happy with cheesy old cartoons or shows we actually own and watch courtesy of Apple TV.

But I can see chaos brewing ahead. There's no good way of getting to CSI (which sucks, I know, but we're still watching) and Survivor. Though we don't watch local news, I can see a definite need for the ability to do so. One day the kids are going to ask to watch something from our cable's on-demand library and the answer won't be taken well. And frankly the selection on all of our options is limited. Right now, there's no single solution to get all the entertainment you want from one source.

That said, I feel victimized by my cable company and wouldn't mind kicking them to the curb. I'll let you know how the experiment goes.

How do you consume entertainment? And how has technology changed that?

Posted by Chris at 7:17 AM | Comments (28)

November 7, 2011

Evil, In Toy Form

A small, homemade video for your viewing pleasure this Monday.

Aside from the copy of William Shatner's 1969 album The Transformed Man, this might be the absolute worst thing we have in the house. If there's any saving grace, it's that it's a piece of crap and will break before too much damage is done. Either that or it will be forgotten about by Wednesday.

Posted by Chris at 7:47 AM | Comments (16)

Haiku For Monday #388

Hello God, it's me
Cactus. Why did you have to
invent Mondays, yo?

Posted by Chris at 7:27 AM | Comments (1)

November 4, 2011

The Weeklies #192

You can download it or stream it in your browser if you'd like. It's up to you. No pressure.

The Weekly Condition. My balls and the rest of me are all back to normal. Of course, when I went back to the doctor for a check, she scared the hell out of me. “Don’t lift anything more than 15 pounds for a week or so, okay? Like, anything bigger than a gallon of milk. That ways 15 pounds, right?” I just nodded. But I really wanted to say “Holy shit. You operated on my balls and you have absolutely no sense of measurement or weight? Seriously?”

The Weekly Award. I'm number 16 on the Babble Top 50 Dad-Blog award.

The Weekly Show. Since Beth and Mia are rehearsing a couple of nights a week, I found myself surfing Netflix and stumbled on The Event, one of last year’s failed shows. I meant to check it out while it was on so this was the next best thing. I’m eight episodes in and it’s a damn fine show. Of course I know that since it got canned, there’s a series of bizarre cliffhangers than never get resolved coming. I think I’m prepared for that.

The Weekly Music. Coldplay is an important band. They’re easy to make fun of, sure, and an easy target for jaded music fans but they’re still an important band. It’s partially because of them that innovative rock found itself once again in the mainstream during the last decade. And while Coldplay developed a legion of sound-alike followers, they spawned some excellent bands as well. While I own everything the band’s released, I don’t consider myself a die hard who can’t see the flaws. And there have been lots of flaws to see lately. Sadly, Mylo Xyloto is no exception. Half the songs feel like a Chris Martin solo project. After all, why is the rest of the band there if they’re programming drums and using synthesizers in place of bass and guitars? A few songs sound as if they were written by others (U2) and the remaining few sound almost like the Coldplay I know. Released by any other band, Mylo Xyloto might be a triumph but released by Coldplay, it’s disappointing. It’s not that the album is bad. It’s not. Many of the songs are quite good. But the album is over-produced, each song drenched in a shiny gloss that makes it difficult to penetrate the album’s emotional core, what the band wants you to feel. I know that core’s there. I just can’t reach it or relate to it.

The Weekly Read. The Hunter is a classic crime novel by Richard Stark, AKA Donald Westlake. And it's amazing. Why? Westlake pulls off the impossible. He makes a book packed with terrible people that is fun to read. And despite the fact that it's 50 years old, it holds up amazingly well.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Lindsay’s going full frontal for Playboy. God help us all. Do we really need to see that?

The Weekly Question. Occupy Wall Street and the whole Occupy movement: good, bad, dumb or indifferent?

Posted by Chris at 7:38 AM | Comments (9)

November 3, 2011

Our Heroes Are Getting Older

Pop culture is a reference point for lots of people, myself included. And it occurred to me the other day that my childhood heroes - or, while not heroes, people I saw on TV, listened to on the radio or watched in movies - are aging.

Remember when Perry Farrell and Jane's Addiction started the whole alternative music scene? He's 52. Axl Rose turns 50 in a couple of months. Sebastian Bach is 43. Madonna is 53. Robert Plant is 63. The youngest guy in Metallica is 48. The youngest guy in Pearl Jam is 45 and in Soundgarden it's 43. The youngest guy in The Stones is 67.

The Brat Pack aged too. Molly Ringwald (43), Judd Nelson (51), Emilo Estevez (49), Rob Lowe (47), Ally Sheedy (49), Demi Moore (48), and Andrew McCarthy (48) are all long past the point at which teen angst is appropriate. The dorky kid from Jerry Maguire can drink now. Macaulay Culkin's okay to be home alone...or even own a home. He's 31. William Shatner is 80. Mark Hammil is 60. All of the guys who portrayed Darth Vader are in their seventies or eighties. Magnum PI is 66, Sonny Crockett is 61, and Ricardo Tubbs is 62.

Douglas Coupland - the guy who coined the term Generation X then wrote about it - is 49. Brett Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero, The Informers, American Psycho) is 47. Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club) is 49. Jay McInerney (Bright Lights Big City) is 57.

Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Rogers and Jim Henson are all dead. Pee-wee Herman (or Paul Reubens) is 59 yet astonishingly youthful.

I guess it's inevitable - we all get older and so do those we grow up with.

Who were your childhood pop culture icons?

Posted by Chris at 7:34 AM | Comments (10)

November 2, 2011

Toothless In Virginia

We reached something of a milestone this past week. Mia lost her first tooth. She was ecstatic and saw it as both a rite of passage and a money-making opportunity.

I'm made of pretty strong stuff as a parent. I've been pooped on, peed on, puked on and cleaned up oodles of boogers but I've got to say that watching a tooth twist around in someone's mouth is fundamentally unnatural and uncomfortable. I don't remember being grossed out by it as a kid. I remember it being oddly satisfying.

The Tooth Fairy came and left a nice, crisp five dollar bill under Mia's pillow. We were quick to point out our theory that the Tooth Fairy rewarded first lost teeth more than subsequent teeth and she shouldn't expect this kind of windfall to continue throughout her tooth-losing career. For her part, Mia's convinced that the Tooth Fairy - it's a girl, of course - uses the teeth as building materials and lives in a castle made of teeth. She's unclear on the exact geographic location of said mansion.

For me, well, it's another sign that my kids are growing up. It's wonderful to see but hard to fathom that I have a child capable of developmentally-appropriate tooth loss. Next thing you know she'll be asking for the car keys. Or dating.

It's too early to start drinking, right?

Posted by Chris at 7:05 AM | Comments (5)

November 1, 2011

Warning: Approaching Holidays

Like most people with children under 10, we went trick-or-treating last night. Our group was large and included Bumble Bee, an anonymous bear, Rapunzel, Batman, a strawberry, Mace Windu, an uncharacteristically mouthy ninja, Captain America and a Dutch waffle. It should take very little time to figure out that Rapunzel and Captain America belonged to us. It was cold and I was surrounded by rowdy kids each trying to scare the crap out of one another. But it was nice. Really nice.

Halloween is the gateway holiday. Beginning on October 31st a flood of holidays come rushing at you. By the time the new year spits you out and leaves you forgetting the date, you're tired, spent and slightly emotionally unstable. But I love them. Sure, I mourn the loss of summer for a little while but the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet as I escort little princesses and superheroes is kind of nice. I enjoy the Christmas lights, being surrounded by family and the smell of wood fires in the air.

How about you - do you look forward to the holiday season or cringe at the idea that it's coming?

Posted by Chris at 7:50 AM | Comments (12)