December 30, 2011

The Weeklies #199

The Weekly Holiday. Huh? Oh, hi.

The Weekly Beer. You really thought I'd be on top of things enough this holiday week to come up with something today?

The Weekly Music. Really?

The Weekly Read. Seriously, you guys must not know me.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. At all.

The Weekly Questions. What were we talking about?

Posted by Chris at 5:52 PM | Comments (6)

December 29, 2011

Parenting Manuals, False Teeth and Cherry Trees

When you become a parent, you should really get a manual. You know, one that tells you all about the pooping, throwing up, eye-rolling and other horrors you'll face. This manual should also list all the things you're obligated to put your kids through as a parent. This list would be long. I'm guessing approximately 350 items. Among these would be:

23. Eating vegetables.
31. Road trips.
47. Reading Charlotte's Web
82. Drinking milk.
91. Wiping your own bottom.
102. Visiting boring historical places.

Yesterday we did 102. We dragged the kids to Mount Vernon.

Mount Vernon is George Washington's home. It's where he lived and where he's buried. It lies just outside Washington D.C. on a beautiful plot of land that overlooks the Potomac. Amazingly, it looks untouched by time as does the stretch of river it's on.

The kids hated it.

We expected this. Both Beth and I figured this would be the least popular thing we'd do over the entirety of Christmas break but, hell, we did it anyway. And the kids hated it. Sure it was cold and windy and there were about 485,000 people with the same idea. And sure, it's essentially an old house and what kid wants to see an old house?

But we did it because that's what you do as parents. That's what the manual would say. If there was one. (Which there isn't.)

Posted by Chris at 7:04 AM | Comments (12)

December 28, 2011

Sad And Beautiful

Beth and I haven't been able to decide if this is something we should call sad or beautiful. It feels like an either/or kind of situation.


One one hand it's quite beautiful. Each of these brave people thought enough of our country and its people that they died for it. It stands as a monument to the dedication of so many who sacrificed everything. And clearly - from the number of visitors to the wreaths placed at every headstone - they're not forgotten. Not by a long shot.

By the same token, it's humbling to see headstones stretching to the horizon in any direction you turn. The scale is unbelievable and unimaginable until you're there.

Maybe sad and beautiful aren't mutually exclusive. Maybe a place can be both. And if it can, this is such a place.

Posted by Chris at 8:30 AM | Comments (8)

December 27, 2011

This Christmas

Ho-ho-holy crap Christmas is over. It was just a few days ago when I said I can't believe it's almost Christmas and now it's gone. I don't know about you but my house is a mess, my kids are wiped out and I'm fatter.

We did all the usual stuff this year which is precisely what you should do in times like these. The whole family came over for Christmas Eve where we served the traditional Baby Jesus Chili and cornbread. We decorated the Christmas cookies we'd baked earlier in the day. We all wore jeans, nothing fancy, drank beer and wine (minus the kids) and hung out.

Then Santa came.

Sunday morning was chaos as every Christmas morning should be. Shredded wrapping paper fell like snow and the gifts piled up like snowdrifts. By ten we'd trashed the place and eaten breakfast but still refused to get dressed.

Santa was kind to the kids. Mia got a slightly used Kindle, Owen got a multitude of Lego Star Wars sets (which I spent hours assembling) and, well, frankly in general George Lucas owes us lunch or one of those life-size Storm Troopers. You owe us, Lucas. Beth and I were pretty kind to each other too. She got a new bracelet (Mia's choice), a jewelry box (mine) and a top-of-the-line pasta pot (hers). I got a new coffee maker and iPhone. (Yep, the 4S, baby!) And then we headed to the in-laws' house where the whole family turned up again and there was more chaos, more presents, more food, and more alcohol.

We are incredibly lucky. Incredibly. We have this huge, wonderful family that gets together like this constantly, holiday or not. We have beautiful children who put on amazingly strange impromptu performances about witches and aliens. We have jobs and money and resources to make sure there are presents under a tree and an abundance of food with which we can celebrate.

Then we went to Arlington Cemetery to visit those who couldn't be with us this year. We missed them and the holidays weren't quite the same without them in the world.

But they were still pretty darn good...and we were still pretty darn lucky.

Posted by Chris at 8:28 AM | Comments (5)

December 23, 2011

The Weeklies #198

The Weekly Beer. New Belgium Brewing Company's Ranger.

The Weekly Odd Christmas Tradition. In Japan, the closest thing to a traditional Christmas dinner? Fried chicken from KFC.

The Weekly Music. I think I covered that on Monday. It's been a week of Dean, Frank, Bing and others signing some good old Christmas tunes.

The Weekly Read. The Basement was an odd little book. It was a brief thriller that took you into the mind of a rather depraved serial killer. There were twists and turns and some decent writing along the way. Unfortunately, I saw the main twist coming about half way through. That didn't diminish the story, however, just made me wish that the storyteller was a little more clever than me. I found it cheap on Amazon which is the way I'd recommend you find it too.

The Weekly TV Obsession. Fast Forward. Yep, third on my list of now-cancelled TV series I'm catching up on is Fast Forward. Not bad. Not great, but not bad.

The Weekly Question. So, are you on Santa's nice list or naughty list?

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday. I wish you all a merry Christmas. I'll see you after Santa's fled the scene.

Posted by Chris at 8:10 AM | Comments (12)

December 22, 2011

Telecommuting and Phone-ear

I work from home about fifty percent of the time. My commute to the office is 11 miles and on a good day that'll take about 45 minutes during rush hour. So the walk down two flights of stairs to the basement is a preferred alternative. Plus I get to see the kids during the day. The majority of people I work with and for are scattered around the country so working remotely is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Which is nice. The side-effect, however, is that I spend hours each day on the phone. Yesterday I spent almost exactly ten hours on the phone.

My work phone is always forwarded to my cell phone. But I add a step when I'm at home because cell reception in my basement is pretty terrible. I forward my cell to Skype. The end result is spending the day with an earbud in my ear and a headache by the end of the day.

I can't complain - nor will I - because I love the flexibility but I wouldn't mind a few less conference calls during the day. Plus it could be worse. I could work out of my car like I did a couple weeks back more often than I have to.

What about you. Have you noticed an increased trend towards remote working in whatever fields you're in?

Oh, also, on a totally unrelated note, do you think Kim Jong-Il's death will change anything in North Korea? I'm having a hard time coming to any conclusions.

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

December 21, 2011

Spiderdance

Owen is big into superheroes. Among his favorites are Batman and Robin, Superman, Spiderman and, occasionally the X-Men. Now, Netflix is great for kids with a superhero fetish because they have tons of 'em, old and new.

Me: Which Spiderman do you want to watch?
Owen: New-school. Not old-school Spiderman.

Yeah, Owen refers to cartoons as new-school or old-school. Because he is an awesome kid.

Anyway, while watching old-school Spiderman the other day, and completely digging on the theme song, I realize that I'd made an odd transition to Van Morrison's Moondance in my head and entered some bizarre, piano-driven instrumental jam session while Peter Parker was arguing with Jonah Jameson. And then I realized that it made perfect musical sense and, oddly, the old-school Spiderman theme and Moondance were essentially the same song. With some subtle differences like web-slinging and love-making.

Tell me I'm wrong:

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

December 20, 2011

Not A Single Luxury

A couple weeks back Mia was sent home with something called The Robinson Crusoe Reader published by something called the Christian Liberty Press. It's part of her take home reading.

It's a little dense but Mia can read anything. Still, Beth, Mia and I alternate chapters. My introduction to The Robinson Crusoe Reader was on chapter 26. There I was confronted with an explanation of how good God was to Crusoe, how He made Crusoe's barley seeds grow and allowed Crusoe to prosper. And the entire book was just like chapter 26.

I have to admit, I was a little shocked. Not about the references to god. After all, Defoe used Robinson Crusoe as a vehicle to talk about his own spiritual beliefs. (I'll readily admit that I looked that up from a couple of sources because I've never, not once, read Robinson Crusoe.) On one level, I was a little shocked because it came home as a take-home reading book from my kid's first grade public school classroom. And, further, while I'm not overly offended by a book dealing almost exclusively with god coming home with my public school kid - whose curriculum, it was my understanding, would be secular in nature - I thought the idea was offensive. Why? Because it took a classic story, bastardized it and turned it into nothing more than a tool.

There are beautiful books that intentionally deal with god and faith and religion in wonderful ways. In fact my favorite book - The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell - is just such a book. And that's strange since I'm such an ardent atheist. If you want to talk about faith or religion or, specifically, god, you don't have to edit literature.

Posted by Chris at 8:27 AM | Comments (12)

December 19, 2011

Have an Old School Christmas

We spent the weekend with Christmas music echoing through our house. I realized something - I'm old-school when it comes to Christmas tunes.

Frankly, I don't care to listen to Christmas tunes made in the past fifty years. Josh Groban can take his yuletide cheer elsewhere. Michael Buble can shove his modern crooning up his Bublehole. Even John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen are a little too modern for my tastes.

No, give me Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra and the rest of the rat pack, Nat King Cole, Burl Ives, and just about any brand of old-school big band swing and I'm a right jolly old elf.

Now, I'll make one thing very clear and what's confusing about this whole thing - I would never listen to this stuff if it wasn't Christmas. Okay, I might indulge in a little Sinatra every now and then. And it's always fun when a Dean Martin tune comes on in a cheesy Italian restaurant. But if Bing Crosby recorded anything beyond Christmas songs, I'm not aware of it. Mel Torme puts me to sleep. Eleven months of the year, I call Perry Como Perry Coma. Only in December does Johnny Mathis not drive me up the wall and John Denver not force me into an epic stupor.

But they're my Christmas music MVPs.

Posted by Chris at 8:18 AM | Comments (10)

Haiku For Monday #394

Ho ho ho ho ho
ho ho ho ho ho ho ho
ho ho ho ho ho.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (4)

December 16, 2011

The Weeklies #197

The Weekly Homeowners Affliction. Leaky toilets.

The Weekly Read. This week I found myself plowing through the short but entertaining The Old Man And The Wasteland by Nick Cole. I got it cheap on Amazon and wasn't really expecting all that much. What I got was a modern retelling of Hemingway's similarly-named classic. What made it unusual was that it wasn't merely an update or retelling. It acknowledged it's namesake, continually referencing the situations and characters in The Old Man And The Sea. Very few novels can come close to the perfection of Hemingway's novel and to be fair this is far from that level of writing. But it is compelling and interesting and moving in its own way.

The Weekly Food. Pizza. I've had a lot of pizza.

The Weekly Music. I feel like I've listened to about three minutes of everything I own without having settled on anything to listen to for any length of time. It's been that kind of week.

The Weekly Television Fascination. Several episodes into Breaking Bad and, yep, I'm hooked.

The Weekly Most Interesting Person. I'm going with Vladimir Putin this week. The egocentric, shirtless horse-riding dictator is trying to get back in the saddle of the Russian presidency. But there seem to be quite a few who aren't going for it. He's one of those guys you want to learn more about but are kind of scared to.

The Weekly Question. Okay, the Duggers. I'm sorry for their loss and I cannot imagine how hard something like that is to go through. But I have a question. Are the cards they distributed at the ceremony they held - the cards that showed them holding the lost baby's little foot - a little strange? I've never been in that situation. I have no idea what I'd do. But I'm not sure I'd do that.

Posted by Chris at 8:00 AM | Comments (15)

December 15, 2011

Facts About My Music Collection

Over the last few days, I've been trying to get my music collection in order. And in doing so, I've noticed a few interesting things.

  • The earliest records of musical expression are to be found in the Sama Veda of India and in 4,000 year old cuneiform from Ur. My music collection contains none of these.
  • Instead it sports a whopping 4,183 albums - or 46,499 songs - that would take me 153.3 days to listen to.
  • The most well-represented artist in my collection is Pearl Jam with 1,929 songs. Coming in second is Genesis with 1,209 songs.
  • The longest song is The Whirlwind by Transatlantic which clocks in at 1 hour, 19 minutes and 52 seconds. The shortest is Ikea By Night by The Flower Kings which lasts just about 4 seconds.
  • The worst album ever made is The Transformed Man by the great William Shatner is actually the worst. Followed closely by Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space. Yes, I own them both. Shut up. I'm not proud of it.
  • The worst song I own is called Taste Of My Love by Emerson, Lake and Palmer off their album Love Beach. I think you can all guess what it's about. The fact that the whole thing is driven by cheesy synthesizers only makes it worse.
  • The word that most frequently appears in song titles is you (4,497) followed by love (2,061). Angel (505) and girl (423) make a pretty good showing. Of course all these take a backseat to the which I couldn't count in good conscience. There were 21,494 thes in my collection.
  • Even the most obscure letters of the alphabet are represented. There are two artists that begin with X (XTC and XYZ), six that begin with Q and two that begin with Z.

And there you go.

Posted by Chris at 8:03 AM

December 14, 2011

The Great Give 2011: The Results Show

Two pretty amazing things happened yesterday.

1. You all managed to comment 273 times which, when all the hot matching action is added up, made for a donation to Fisher House of $409.50!

2. I heard from a lot of people I haven't seen around these parts in quite a while.

Both were nice. I mean, it doesn't get much better than giving to a worthy cause. But it was pretty great to see some names I hadn't seen in some time.

All of this merely reaffirms my long-held belief that you are the awesomest readers in the history of the blogopshere. So thank you, sincerely.

Posted by Chris at 7:43 AM | Comments (9)

December 13, 2011

The Great Give: 2011

2011 has not been an easy year. I don't need to remind you why. They're apparent, and obvious and unforgettable. But they've been far worse for some, namely those who've returned from battle injured and scarred, physically or mentally.

You can help.

Every year you all donate money to Fisher House, a charitable organization that supports injured soldiers and their families when they most need it. How do you accomplish this, you ask? It's simple - you comment.

2011 will be no exception.

For every comment I receive over the next 24 hours, I'll donate twenty-five cents. This means a couple of things. First and foremost, today is not the day to read me via Google Reader or RSS feed. Second, let me worry about being stingy with money; don't be stingy with your comments or with getting the message out. Third, while we raised some good money last year, I was disappointed. Don't let me down!

So what are you waiting for. Get with the commenting, people!

UPDATE: Two very kind and generous readers have agreed to match the donations. So, basically, for every comment a donation of $0.75 will be made. Keep 'em coming!

SON OF UPDATE: I have two additional matches! That means for every comment, you're donating $1.25! Sheer awesomeness people!

THE UPDATE STRIKES BACK: Yet another awesome match which translates to $1.50 for every comment!

Posted by Chris at 7:53 AM | Comments (273)

December 12, 2011

That's A Wrap

After all the rehearsals, all the long evenings and seven - count 'em seven - performances, the curtain closed on Mia and Beth's play last night. It was an incredible experience for both of them...and for Owen and I.

While Beth and Mia were out rehearsing, Owen and I got to spend some quality time together. Okay, the quality was sometimes an arguable point. I'll admit to being a bit more lenient with the TV rules and together we attacked quite a few levels of Lego stormtroopers. But we hung out together. And that was cool.

Beth and Mia also seemed to have had a pretty incredible experience. They met new people and did new things. We learned pretty quickly that while Beth is always smoking hot, a yellow paisley dress presents a challenge even to the hottest. We also learned that Mia doesn't understand the concept of stage fright nor did she ever come close to exhibiting it. They were both brilliant and I've never been a prouder husband or dad than I was sitting in a random middle school for four performance watching them on stage.

Among the cast and crew, there's apparently some desire to get me on the stage. It's not going to happen. You'll never find me acting in a play, singing in a musical or even doing kareoke in a bar somewhere. I'm just not that guy. But that's okay. I'd much rather see my girls on stage. Because they're awesome.

Of course it'll be nice having them home more too.

Posted by Chris at 7:09 AM | Comments (4)

Haiku For Monday #393

Instead of slaying
the dragon, I'd rather it
have a nice long rest.

Posted by Chris at 7:06 AM

December 9, 2011

The Weeklies #196

The Weekly Vegetable. Mashed potatoes.

The Weekly TV Obsession. I finished every episode of Jericho ever made and, as is a growing trend in my Screenings of Canceled TV Shows, I was disappointed that it was over. But I jumped back on the horse and started watching Flash Forward which is pretty darn good.

The Weekly Oops. The MythBusters apparently shot a cannonball through a house. The myth they were testing apparently had nothing to do with a house or the velocity a cannonball must achieve to pass through a private residence. Oops.

The Weekly Work Side-Effect. Utter exhaustion.

The Weekly Read. This week I tackled Blake Crouch's Locked Doors and it's follow-up novella Break You. They're both worthy successors to one of his earlier novels Desert Places and round out the Andrew Thomas trilogy. Thomas is a thriller writer who finds himself on the wrong end of a serial killer. The trilogy follows his long bumpy ride as he challenges the killer and becomes a fugitive himself. All three novels are good but I particularly liked Locked Doors. Break You wasn't particularly worthy of a place in the series but if you've read the other two, it's worth the quick read.

The Weekly Music. I love old-school progressive rock and one of the bands I fell in love with as a kid was Yes. Thirty years later, they're still making music (which is a good thing) and releasing live albums (which, apparently, is not). I picked up a copy of In The Present, the latest in a long string of live albums. I'd like to be given some reason to defend this album. Yes, they're old. Yes, they've had some personnel changes. But there's no excuse for such a terrible album. It sounds good, it's well produced and the art is, as always, great. It's the music itself that falls flat. The band has totally lost their fire. Songs are slowed down to the point of glacial plodding and the technical wizardry they once showed is completely absent with the exception of contributions from guitarist Steve Howe who's on fire. It's sad.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Alec Baldwin got kicked off an American Airlines flight for playing a game on his iPhone. After seeing what ensued afterwards, I'm not sure who is worthy of more schadenfreude sympathy, the airlines or Baldwin. I'll take hidden answer C, Lindsay Lohan because, well, why not?

The Weekly Question. What do you most want for Christmas this year?

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

December 8, 2011

Three Reasons I'm Not Easy To Live With

I'm not easy to live with. We've talked about this before but in a more general sense. Today, I've got specifics.

Reason 1: Beer
Last night, Beth told me she'd run by the beer store to pick some up since we're running low. She asked for a list. I provided her the following.

Big ass Boxes:
- Sierra Nevada - Torpedo
- Starr Hill - Northern Lights
- Whatever - Loose Cannon

Sixpack:
- Port City - Monumental IPA
- Dogfishead - 60 Minute IPA

Bad Beer You Shouldn't Get:
- Miller Genuine Draft
- Schlitz Malt Liquor
- Pabst Blue Ribbon

People Who Wear Sweaters:
- Bill Cosby
- Mr. Rogers

I can apparently make nothing either easy or straightforward.

Reason Two: My Jacket
Beth thinks she has to tell me too many times about something, like I'm not listening. I am listening. Really. But it's true - she has to repeat herself way too much. This is because my brain can no longer hold on to any fact. Like my jacket. For a week - seriously - I couldn't find my jacket. It was nowhere. Not my car, not the closet, not Beth's car, not anywhere in the house. As it turned out I left it at work on the back of a chair.

Reason Three: My Food Thing
I have a weird food thing. I can't eat leftovers. Things must be fresh. If it's been in the refrigerator for longer than a week - provided it is some sort of foodstuff which does not come individually wrapped - I will not eat it.

These are three reasons I am not easy to live with. And why my wife deserves a great amount of sympathy.

How are you difficult to live with?

Posted by Chris at 7:20 AM | Comments (12)

December 7, 2011

Fascinating People

According to the always brilliant, hardhitting journalistic machine that is E! News (and shouldn't every news organization have an exclamation point? CNN! ABC! MSNBC! Al Jazeera!) Barbara Walters is all set to unveil her list of fascinating people for 2011. On the list, predictably, are Simon Cowell (if I were only mean and British I too could be famous), Pippa Middleton (presumably because of her ass), Katy Perry (I have nothing snide to say because I kind of like some of her songs and she hasn't yet become a rampant nip-slipping meth-head), the Karshians (because God is punishing us for something and I'm pretty sure divas with giant asses was in the Book Of Revelation somewhere but was mistranslated), and Donald Trump (which would be appropriate if the focus was only on his hair but I bet we have to hear him talk so it's totally not worth it).

I realize Barbara Walters is, like, 312 years old and could, as a result, be slightly feebed-out but is this seriously the best she could do?

How about Jay Bradner, a cancer researcher who thinks he stumbled onto something that could help advance the fight but instead of patenting it, he went open source with it, sending it to labs around the country while publishing the results? How about the organizers and protesters who spawned the Occupy movement? You might not agree with them but they started a wave of peaceful protests and actually stood for something. How about Lee Soucy, a survivor of Pearl Harbor who decided decades ago that when he died he wanted to be buried with those who weren't so lucky? Yesterday his ashes were placed in a porthole of the sunken USS Utah.

You don't have to be famous to be fascinating. And by putting reality TV stars, famous people's less famous relatives and people who are famous only for being famous, we ignore the opportunity to recognize those people who've truly made a difference.

Who - famous or not - would you vote as the most fascinating person of 2011?

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

December 6, 2011

Community Theater

For those of you who haven't been following my ramblings all that closely, Beth and Mia auditioned for and are now appearing in a play. It opened on Friday night. Beth was great in her admittedly minor role. Mia was brilliant in her more pivotal one.

I saw the performance for the second time on Sunday evening. I took Owen. He wanted to see his mom and big sis on the stage. Since I knew what was coming and didn't have to sit, white-knuckled, waiting for Beth and Mia to appear on stage, I had a little bit more time to look at the whole performance a little more critically.

I think everyone in the production would admit to what I discovered - it has highs and lows but is right on par for what it is. Community theater. And then I started thinking...community theater almost by definition shouldn't be perfect.

I'm no actor. I have no desire to be on a stage performing in front of people. But I admire those that do. And that's what makes community theater great, regardless of the results. It's the fact that a rocket scientist (really) has the lead role and probably only does it because his wife (who has the female lead) talked him into it. Or the somewhat minor role played by the woman with terminal cancer who gets chemo treatments before going to rehearsal. Or the kids who try out with their parents, playing small roles or singing in the choir so they won't be bored out of their minds. Or the guy who unbelievably plays in a rock band and really has no business being an actor on a stage but who loves it so much that it's obvious and infectious.

It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be fun.

Mia is most definitely having fun. And I know I'm her dad and I have to say this but I can't make you believe it enough - she's really, really good. She goes out, smiles, delivers her lines authentically, and has a wonderful time doing it. And I have a wonderful time watching.

Posted by Chris at 7:43 AM | Comments (2)

December 5, 2011

Dirty Fine

It's official - I'm a little bit older today. (The age, for those of you who are curious, rhymes with dirty fine.) Do I feel it? No more now than yesterday but, in general, a little, yeah. Some of it just goes with the territory. Some of it is my own damn fault.

Things having to do with age that are my own damn fault:
- The weight. I weigh more than I ever have. That's not to say I'm fat. By any measure I'm not. But still, the scale freaks me out sometimes. I blame beer. Small sacrifice.
- I ache. I've got a desk job that requires sitting for a long time. I've noticed recently that this is painful especially after long stretches. Sure, it would help if I actually exercised.

Things having to do with age over which I have no control:
- Gray hair. "Distinguished" or not, it's still gray. And getting more prevalent.
- Attitude. I was thinking back to high school the other day, specifically to how much thought everyone put into their pants. They had to be a certain brand and a certain style, often rolled up in a very certain way. Now what do I care about pants. The only thing I care about is that I don't accidentally leave home without putting on a pair.
- My memory. I used to remember everything. I never wrote anything down. Now? I, uh...what was I talking about?

Next year, on this day, I turn 40. I'm not traumatized by that thought but I am determined to make sure that 39 counts for something.

Posted by Chris at 6:55 AM | Comments (30)

Haiku For Monday #392

When I woke up this
morning, the first thing I thought
was "Oh shit. Monday."

Posted by Chris at 6:54 AM

December 2, 2011

The Weeklies #195

The Weekly Beer. Port City's Monumental IPA.

The Weekly Read. John Rector's first two novels - The Grove and Cold Kiss - blew me away and earned high praise. I had pretty high hopes for his latest offering, Already Gone. The verdict? It was strong but not as good as its predecessors. Already Gone tells a fairly standard wrong place, wrong time, wrong guy kind of story that's good, well thought out and compelling but not nearly as great as his earlier works. The difference? Grittiness. Rector's first two novels were gritty and a little uncomfortable to read in their realism. Already Gone feels like a standard thriller. All that said, it's still a good book worthy of your time.

The Weekly Music. When I first heard it back in 1990, I fell in love with Chris Cornell's voice. Now, the 1990 Cornell is a little different than the 2011 Cornell. There's a little less screaming, some decent and some terrible solo material, a Soundgarden reunion and, like the rest of us, age. Recorded on his most recent solo acoustic tour, Songbook is a glimpse of the more laid back, quieter Cornell. And it's a welcome change given his last, absolutely terrible solo album. Sure, his voice sounds a little ragged in places (during the album he credits a cold for this), and he's not always hitting the highest notes, but Cornell sounds fantastic on solo, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and Audioslave songs while throwing in a few covers for good measure. A must buy if you're a Cornell fan.

The Weekly TV Addiction. Following my mild addiction to the first and only season of The Event courtesy of Netflix, I've moved on and developed a slightly unhealthy obsession with Jericho. Even if you're not a fan of the whole end-of-the-world scenario the show paints, it's a well-written and acted show.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. I realize that I suck by even mentioning it but is it wrong that I'm starting to empathize with Kris Humphries? The dude's a tool, sure, but he got taken for a ride by Kim Kardashian. The world would be a better place if the Kardashians just disappeared. Not likely though.

The Weekly Question. Who's the most interesting person of 2011?

Posted by Chris at 7:49 AM | Comments (7)

December 1, 2011

Wired Kids

Last night after I got home from work, Owen begged me to open up my Mac and let him type. He knows how to spell his own name and loves to see it on the screen. That and the neighbor's cat's name (JJ). Of course Mia jumped on the bandwagon and wanted Beth's computer so she could type in "fancy writing."

I set them up, walked into the kitchen, then looked over my shoulder and saw what it must look like for an hour or so in our house every night after the kids go to bed. Or what it would look like if Beth and I were much tinier people.

Mia's and Owen both have iPods. To be fair, they're both cast-offs from me. Owen has my third generation classic iPod that he listens to Superman stories on every night. Mia has my iPod Touch which I replaced with my current iPhone. She listens to Ramona stories and Glee songs every night and checks the weather first thing every morning. I realize it's pretty ridiculous to have two kids with high-caliber gadgets but they'd just be sitting in a drawer otherwise.

But now Mia wants a Kindle for Christmas and it's obvious that we're going to be able to keep the kids away from computers and anything else with a screen only so much longer. I know screens are the new paper and there's no stopping that particular train but the purist in me wants to hold off just a while longer.

I guess it's easy to blame technology for, well, everything, but good parenting can actually head off some of the negative, unintended consequences of that technology. Just the other night as I was putting Owen to bed, he wanted to see a picture of Lady Gaga and some cool drum solos. With a few swipes of a finger, we saw Gaga, watched a 1976 Phil Collins drum solo and saw Mike Portnoy play his Boba Fett drums. Pretty amazing.

What do you think? Are kids exposed to too much technology too young? Or is it an inevitability that we're just going to have to live with.

Posted by Chris at 8:10 AM | Comments (13)


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