February 29, 2012
I'm With The Band
My first band's name was Rude Cactus. Hence the name of the site. It was ridiculous and nonsensical which is why I loved it. I've been thinking of starting a new band. Though band is probably not the right word. It would be a solo venture. I'd record crap in my basement with a guitar, a Mac and Garage Band and release it to critical acclaim though never achieve widespread appeal. This would be due, in part, to the fact that I'd never tour. I'm lazy. At some point I'd become disillusioned with the state of the music industry, release a scathing press release and retire. A year later I'd reunite with myself for another critically acclaimed album after which I'd disappear.
But what to call this band? I have some thoughts.
Avocado Pits and the Gazpacho Singers
Atomic Bitchwax (*)
The Vladimir Putins
Love Gun Snipers
Loud Sons of Bitches
The Situational Awareness Singers
Haiku Action Stars
Fire Water Super-Sponge (+)
The Death Star Escape Squad
The Serial Commas
Semi-Colon and the Apostrophes
Kill Devil Bills
The Five Finger Discount
Ed Wood and the Plan Nine All-Stars
The Hardback Remainders
Mark As Unread
Say Goodnight To The Girls
Can Has Rock
John Edwards Stole My Girl
What's your vote?
* Sadly, this one is already taken. Really.
+ After five years of research, I've concluded that these are the only proper substitutes for Rock, Paper and Scissors. Think about it.
February 28, 2012
Virginia Is For...Douchebags
Ads from the Virginia state tourism board will tell you that Virginia Is For Lovers but I'm convinced that Virginia Is For Douchebags. Or, at the very least, Virginia legislators are douchebags. And I am a Virginian which makes this an especially painful thing to say.
Case in point, this from the Washington Post:
A controversial bill that would require women to get an ultrasound before an abortion is now in doubt after Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell diluted the measure Wednesday by making it optional in many cases.
The legislation initially sought to require ultrasounds, which early last week prompted opponents to raise concerns over the procedures’ potentially invasive nature. In many cases, the ultrasounds would require a vaginal probe to establish gestational age.
On Wednesday, citing concerns over that intrusiveness, McDonnell (R), an abortion opponent who had repeatedly said he would sign the bill, asked state lawmakers to amend the measure. House members approved the governor’s amendments, but the bill’s Republican sponsor in the Senate said she would try to pull the measure for the session.
“Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state,” McDonnell said in a statement. “No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.” He did not comment further.
Confusion over the legislation and ultrasounds — and considerable national media attention — preceded the unraveling of the bill. The original measure stated, simply, that a woman needed an ultrasound before an abortion. Many lawmakers did not understand that at the young fetal age abortions usually occur, the invasive vaginal ultrasound would be needed to establish gestational age, as required by the bill.
Now, there's no denying that McDonnell's an asshat but he's far from the asshattiest governor Virginia has ever had. We have a history of electing douchebags as governors then when they're done being governors we promote them to the senate so they can further inflict their douchebaggery on an even large population of people. (You're welcome, America) But McDonnell - or anyone who has a brain - should know better than to try and push through something so thoroughly bad as this. His excuse? He hadn't paid attention to the legislation and hadn't realized that the proposed procedure was invasive. How do you not know these things?
I have a giant problem with legislating issues best left to individuals especially when it's a bunch of 60 year-old, out of touch good 'ol boys deciding an issue that is best decided by women, individually, according to their own morals, standards and beliefs.
I'd like the rest of the world to know that there are some of us in Virginia that aren't douchebags. Some Virginians have brains and aren't still grieving over the North's civil war victory.
February 27, 2012
Pillow forts rock. The kids have drafted me into pillow fort-building service a lot over the last month. The forts have been castles, dungeons, Death Stars, and Batcaves. I'm not a great pillow fort engineer, though, so they've all looked remarkably similar.
The other day - armed with only a camera - I invaded. What I got was an awesome tangle of arms and legs and a hefty volume of hilarity.
I remember my dad making me a mean pillow fort. Sometimes it's the small things you most remember.
Haiku For Monday #402
Dear alarm clock, I
loathe you with every fiber
of my being, k?
February 24, 2012
The Weeklies #205
The Weekly Unsexy Purchase. Last week, siding. This week? Gutters! We're living on the edge.
The Weekly Country To Avoid. Syria.
The Weekly Read. I didn't read a damn thing this week. Rather, I didn't finish a damn thing. I've been wiped out. I'm only halfway through a crappy 300 page book I started 10 days ago.
The Weekly TV Obsession. Community. I never watched the show before two days ago but there's been so much buzz I had to check it out. The verdict? Fucking hilarious. Sure, it's a little hit or miss but when it hits I swear I'm going to have a stroke from laughing so much.
The Weekly Music. Old-school arena rock. For some reason I've been auditorily subsisting on a steady diet of podcasts and arena rock. I'm talking Journey, Styx, Foreigner and Kansas.
The Weekly Phrase. "I have San Francisco in my pants!" Since it was coined by my daughter without any explanation, I have no idea what it means.
The Weekly Loser. Chris Brown. And possibly Rhianna. Because what kind of fool collaborates with the guy who beat her?
The Weekly Question. If you could make a career change right now, what career would you pursue?
February 23, 2012
Things Rick Said
I know I don't have to do this but I feel I should. Why? Because I'm mystified by Rick Santorum's success. Judge for yourselves with things Rick actually said.
"I love it when the left and when the president say, 'Don't try to impose your values on us, you folks who hold your Bibles in your hand and cling to your guns.' They have values too. Our values are based on religion, based on life. Their values are based on a religion of self."
"Isn't that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?"
"One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country.... Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that's okay, contraception is okay. It's not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."
“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution."
"I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money."
“In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be.”
"Is anyone saying same-sex couples can't love each other? I love my children. I love my friends, my brother. Heck, I even love my mother-in-law. Should we call these relationships marriage, too?"
“The most dangerous place for an African-American in this country is in the womb.”
“There are people who were gay and lived the gay lifestyle and aren’t anymore. I don’t know if that’s the similar situation or that’s the case for anyone that’s black. It’s a behavioral issue as opposed to a color of the skin issue, and that’s the diff for serving in the military.”
"The idea that man, through the production of CO2 — which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas — is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all the other factors.”
“The reason Social Security is in big trouble is we don’t have enough workers to support the retirees. Well, a third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion.”
“The idea is that the state doesn’t have rights to limit individuals’ wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire.”
This can't happen, right? Please, talk me down off the ledge.
February 22, 2012
Say the word Seattle and the first thing I'll think of is music. Music from my senior year in high school and freshman year in college. Flannel, ripped jeans and Doc Martens. And grunge. I'll think of Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Green River, Screaming Trees, Malfunkshun, Mother Love Bone, Gruntruck, Mudhoney, Skin Yard, Tad, Pearl Jam, Brad, Alice In Chains...and Nirvana.
You can't think of the whole Seattle phenomenon without thinking of Nirvana. And yet whenever I look back fondly on all that Seattle music, make nostalgic playlists of grunge, lace up the 8-hole Doc Martens that I bought in 1993 and are still awesomely wearable today, I tend to avoid Nirvana.
I never really connected with Nirvana and I'm not sure why. Like every good flannel-wearing grunge fan, there was a period of time when Nevermind was on steady rotation. But instead of devoting years to the album I probably only gave it a month or two. Frankly, I never thought it lived up to the hype. Lithium was the best, most overlooked song on the album that received almost no radio airplay. And Nevermind itself paled in comparison to its predecessor Bleach. Sure, I own all their albums, collected their singles, and hunted down rare bootlegs and Japanese imports but that's because I felt like I should. In my mind there was just much better music out there.
Kurt Cobain was a deeply troubled guy. But - despite the fact that they're never going to go down as my most favorite band - Nirvana, and Kurt, deserve some credit. Without them, the music scene wouldn't be quite the same as it is today. They opened doors to a whole genration of shoegazing, cardigan-wearing, Fender-abusing kids who played endlessly in their parents' garages. Trust me, I was one of them.
Kurt would have been 45 yesterday.
February 21, 2012
Whenever I talk to people about what we do with our kids, they seem impressed. Wow, you guys do so much stuff with your kids they say. Well, isn't that what you're supposed to do with your kids? Stuff?
Some weekends are just great opportunities to hang out with each other, play games and do nothing much. But other weekends are prime opportunities to get out in the world and learn about it. This weekend, for example. On Saturday we drove to Winchester and took the kids to an awesome children's museum. Museum is perhaps the wrong word. It's the world's biggest and greatest playroom. It's about 100 shades of awesome. And on Sunday we took the kids to a maple syrup boil-down. They got to see tapped maples, a gigantic fire, boiling stuff and smoke... Okay, so, sure they were bored most of the time but now they know where that endless supply of pancake syrup comes from.
Anyway, we got out there, we did stuff in the world, and we had fun. That's how it's supposed to be, right?
I was an only child. My parents and I were - and are - tight. We used to spend every summer on road trips. Sure, they got boring. There were long stretches through Kansas or Iowa that looked exactly the same mile after mile, but I cannot possibly tell you how much those experiences gave me.
What are the best experiences your parents gave you? And you gave your kids?
February 20, 2012
Glitter died yesterday.
(For those of you scratching your heads, Glitter was the latest of Mia's fish.)
Mia was only partially devastated. Frankly, we saw this coming. Glitter was acting a bit lethargic. She wasn't eating. She refused to fetch the newspaper. But still, it's sad.
Since Mia is six, we're thinking a new pet is in order. And not something you can flush. Conveniently. I mean, I'm sure a hamster would go down given enough prodding but that's not plumbing bill I feel like paying.
Mia's allergic to cats and dogs and lord knows what else. So we're tossing ideas around. Hamsters and gerbils have been recommended. Me, I think a snake or iguana would be cool. But we've really got no clue whatsoever.
So, Internet, what would be the perfect pet for Mia?
Haiku For Monday #401
If I had to sum
it up succinctly, I'd say
Monday blows donkeys.
February 17, 2012
The Weeklies #204
The Weekly Unsexy Purchase. New siding for the house! Seriously, the place looks 1,000 times better.
The Weekly Read. Hallgrimur Helgason's The Hitman's Guide to House Cleaning was a wonderful book. It started slow for me and I worried how it would evolve. I wanted it to be more than a silly tale of an Eastern European hitman who found himself running from his bosses and impersonating a priest in Iceland. And I got more. It was a stunningly great, refreshing book that I didn't want to end.
The Weekly Beer. Acme IPA.
The Weekly TV Obsession. I'll admit it. After the first two episodes of The River I'm hooked. I just hope they didn't shoot their wad on the first two hours. If they did I'll be pissed. It has real, creepy potential.
The Weekly Music. I think my epistle on Van Halen pretty much covered me this week.
The Weekly Loser. I'm going to go with Rick Santorum just because. It seems like an obvious choice.
The Weekly Reminder That I'm Old. I took some work people out for a happy hour. It just so happens that they're all significantly younger than I. We talked about television shows when we were growing up. They were all Power Rangers and cable and I was all Scooby Doo and four, maybe five channels.
The Weekly Question. What was your go-to show as a kid?
February 16, 2012
Boy Adventure Day
Every week Beth and one of her friends, Kelly, have Boy Adventure Day. On Boy Adventure Day, they take Owen and his best friend (Kelly's son) on an adventure. One week they'll head into Monkeytown and visit a museum. The next, they'll visit an old Civil War town.
Boy Adventure Day is a fantastic idea. Though I do think we need Grown Up Adventure Day.
What would you do on Grown Up Adventure Day?
February 15, 2012
And The Cradle...Doesn't Rock
There are two kinds of people in life - David Lee Roth people and Sammy Hagar people. No musical issue since Yoko Ono's very existence has so divided fans. Me, despite the fact that I know the Roth years produced more critically solid material, I've always liked Sammy Hagar.
So, when A Different Kind of Truth dropped - Van Halen's first album in 14 years and first with David Lee Roth in 28 years - I picked it up. Then I hurriedly downloaded the latest from Chickenfoot, the post-Van Halen supergroup consisting of Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony along with Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and guitar superstar Joe Satriani.
What I got is proof that I'm old.
A Different Kind of Truth is the better of the two albums. It's honestly a triumphant return to form from a once very lost band. It's fun, it's heavy, and it's musicianship is solid. Of course, the same can be said for Chickenfoot's latest. The problem with that is the sum of Chickenfoot's personnel doesn't live up to the potential they have as a band. What a conundrum - you expect a new album from Van Halen to suck while a supergroup like Chickenfoot should drop something brilliant, right? Just the opposite happened.
That said, I discovered that while one album was definitely better than another, neither of them really did anything for me. Apparently I'm not fifteen anymore. I guess high-kicking spandex-wearing lead singers don't do it for me anymore. Or lyrics about hot substitute teachers. Or three minute excuses for guitar solos.
The conclusion? I'm old. Sure, the music rocks but I don't care. The fact that something rocks doesn't make for a happy ending anymore. No, as I've gotten older my inner wannabe rockstar has upped the game. It has to rock and be interesting.
How have your musical tastes changed over the years?
February 14, 2012
Best. Birthday. Ever.
On Friday, Owen turned four. This fact still amazes me but that's not the point. The simple fact is that Owen had an amazing birthday.
After a lot of work on Friday morning, I took the afternoon off. Beth and I picked Owen up from school a few minutes early and took him to Chipotle, which he adores and calls The Chip Restaurant. We had lunch then dashed to the local theater where Star Wars: The Phantom Menace just opened in 3D. The boy loves him some Star Wars. His mind was blown. Then we hung out, played for a little while, and the four of us went to his absolute favorite restaurant for dinner.
Saturday was low-key but Sunday was anything but. It was his birthday party day. Maybe four or five months ago, Beth stumbled onto a perfect birthday party deal. At least we thought it was perfect but didn't have any way to really tell. It was a Groupon for a ninja birthday party. What we got was nothing short of perfect. For an hour, a fantastic karate instructor walked kids through an assortment of activities after which pizza was served. The birthday cake - Batman escaping from his Batcave - was served which Owen was allowed to cut with a giant ninja sword. And after that, everyone got to break boards.
I cannot tell you how perfect the party was. And I need to make one thing clear - I had little to do with this. Beth did all the heavy lifting. The place was perfect, the instructors were astoundingly awesome, and the kids had the most fantastic time ever.
I am confident that no four year old has ever had a better party. Of course I'm also confident that there's no more awesome four year old than Owen. I might be a little bias but I know that to be the truth.
February 13, 2012
As I wrapped up three major work projects on Friday and it is the day after Owen's Great Birthday Bash, I've decided to take the day off. I will be back tomorrow. In the interim, I invite you to talk amongst yourselves. Allow me to recommend a few topics:
- Coffee versus tea: A warm beverage smackdown
- Whitney Houston: Guess the cause of death
- Products for which the worst commercials are made
That should keep you busy for 24 hours.
February 10, 2012
Happy Birthday. It's impossible to believe that you're four. It sounds cliche but it seems like just yesterday we were bringing you home from the hospital, putting your naked self in the sunlit window hoping that the jaundice would go away and realizing that you might not be quite as mellow as we'd been led to believe.
You've grown up. All of a sudden, you're this little boy with little boy thoughts and little boy fears. You have giant feet, hate shoes, and are generally up to no good. But you're the sweetest, nicest and kindest little boy I've ever known. You love superheroes, ninjas, and Star Wars. You love to play - Legos, Star Wars, wacky games that you've spontaneously made up - but you're a terrible hider when we play hide-and-seek. I suspect you'll get better. As laid back as you are, you need everything to be a certain way. Doors and drawers have to be completely closed. The ghost you cut out at preschool that's hanging in the kitchen has to be facing outward; you check it every time. And your blankets must be in the right order on your bed.
When you were born, I had no idea what to do with a boy. I'd only ever been a dad to a girl. I'll admit that I was a little afraid. But you made it easy by being a cool kid. You're an amazing little boy with killer facial expressions and bright blue eyes. And I love you very much, O-Man. Very, very much.
February 9, 2012
After years of discussing it, we pulled the trigger. In the spring, our kitchen will be torn apart.
Last week the space planner came. He measured the kitchen and we talked about all the wonderful destruction we could rain down on our kitchen. There was talk of walls being moved or coming down altogether. Floors ripped up. Appliances trashed. Yesterday we saw the plans for the new kitchen, picked out cabinets, looked at counter-tops, thought about floors. And in late March or early April, cabinets will be delivered and sledgehammers will be swung. We will be inconvenienced mightily but it will be worth it.
I foresee a month of takeout, eating out of our garage fridge, and dinners out. As well as a fine layer of dust covering everything. But it'll be well worth it. We're a close family. We seem to always be occupying the same eight square feet of space. Usually in the kitchen. These family bonding moments usually end with Beth saying something to the effect of would everyone please get out of the kitchen...NOW!.
All of this is nice but exactly what have we signed ourselves up for?
February 8, 2012
I have several guilty pleasures but perhaps my guiltiest is lame sci-fi movies from the fifties and sixties. Last night Beth was out, I was tired, the kids were in bed. So I settled in with a pizza, a cold beer, and Voyage To The Planet Of The Prehistoric Women.
I told you it was a guilty pleasure.
The premise of Voyage To The Planet Of The Prehistoric Women is pretty simple. Astronauts visit Venus and find a tribe of prehistoric women. Except they're not really prehistoric. They're hot. Or what passed for hot in the early sixties. In Italy. Because that's where this was filmed. English was dubbed and clearly an afterthought. The sad thing is that 20 minutes in I realized I'd actually seen Voyage To The Planet Of The Prehistoric Women.
I'm not sure what it is about these bad movies that I love. Maybe it's the antiquated vision of the future, model spaceships hurtling into outerspace, strings clearly visible, and narration about the wonders that lie in front of us.
I'm realistic about it. Voyage To The Planet Of The Prehistoric Women was a suckfest. It was a terrible, terrible movie. The director should have been shot and the special effects people lobotomized. But, hey, it made for a good Tuesday night.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
February 7, 2012
Note To Self (Memory Like A...Like A...)
I went to the office on Friday to pick something up. Then I headed to another office to do some work. After I picked up that particular something I returned to the parking garage...and totally fucking lost my car. I wandered around the parking garage for fifteen minutes. It was pathetic. I looked like the best dressed crazy homeless drunk guy ever, occasionally muttering to my suit and tie-wearing self where the fuck is my car?
Eventually I found it.
I returned to that same office today to drop aforementioned picked-up thing. I wrote myself a note.
A long, long time ago, I lamented the fact that I had fallible parents who forgot incredibly important things like the planet that Spock came from or how come the Thompson Twins could be twins when one was obviously black and the other, well, wasn't. But now I understand. You get older and you forget stuff.
It's happening to me more often. Walking through the parking garage muttering to myself I wondered if maybe I had some sort of issue. I haven't come to any conclusions yet. But if I post the same entry tomorrow or a week from now, you'll have your answer.
February 6, 2012
The Big Game
Any Superbowl is analyzed against three main criteria - the game, the commercials and the halftime show. And while the commercials are clearly the most important, all three come together to determine an equally weighted Incredibly Scientific Superbowl Scoring Methodology.
The Game. The game was actually pretty decent. Not mind-blowingly intense until the end but being that it's pretty much the only football I watch all year, it held my interest. Five out of ten possible points.
The Commercials. Let me say it clearly. The commercials sucked. I mean, really and truly bit. There were maybe one or two memorable ones but I'd already seen them. They'd lost the element of surprise. It was a waste of time and money, from a marketing perspective. One out of ten possible points.
The Halftime Show. The heavily lip-synced halftime extravaganza looked cool but it was so not. By the end, I was left thinking about how cool Cee Lo Green was (not Madonna), reminded how absolutely mediocre Madonna's lyrics are, and startled by how inappropriate it was for a woman Madonna's age to be doing what she did on stage. Yes, I'm getting old. But so is Madonna. Three out of ten possible points, and I think that's generous.
The Verdict. Out of thirty possible points, this Superbowl gets a whopping nine.
Okay, so, how many of you watched The Big Game last night? And how many of you thought it lived up to the hype?
Haiku For Monday #400
Four hundred haikus!
That's got to be some kind of
world record, right yo?
February 3, 2012
The Weeklies #203
The Weekly Beer. Heavy Seas Pale Ale.
The Weekly Read. Last week I read my first Ed McBain book. This week I read my second - Killer's Choice. And I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to be the proud owner and reader of all McBain's 50+ 87th Precinct novels. They're stupendous. He writes a damn fine book with a compelling cast of characters. It doesn't hurt that the mysteries are good.
The Weekly Television Cock Block. We ran out of Breaking Bad. Sadness ensued.
The Weekly Podcast. No music this week but I did manage to discover a damn fine podcast. While nothing could be better than The Mike O'Meara Show, the Mike & Tom Eat Snacks Podcast is pretty damn awesome. It's pretty much what it sounds like - Michael Ian Black (who's appeared on damn near everything) and Tom Cavanagh (you might remember him from TV's Ed) eat a snack and talk about it. I know, it sounds moronic but these guys are funny and totally worth a listen.
The Weekly Schadenfreude. The Susan G. Komen fund shot itself in the foot this week, severing ties to Planned Parenthood. What happened? Celebrities and other activists severed ties to the Susan G. Komen fund, instead directing donations to Planned Parenthood. Donations skyrocketed in spectacular fashion.
The Weekly Question. Who does the most good? What charity to you feel is most deserving of your money?
February 2, 2012
When it comes to clothes, I'm not hard to please. If it's comfortable and doesn't look like it came out of the 70s, I'm good with it. As I type this, for example, every stich I have on minus my fading Obama '08 t-shirt came from Target.
There's one thing I can't go cheap on. Work shirts. There are few clothing items for men in which quality makes a true difference. Shirts are definitely one.
My place of work is a little on the formal side. Like suits-and-ties formal. And as it turns out, I'm a sucker for a nice shirt. It's not a luxury. It's a necessity. The only issue is that the shirts I like are apparently spun from gold thread mined by fairies and washed with the tears of magical orphans. Because they're fucking expensive. So much so that I make my tastes well-known then hope for the best when Christmas or my birthday or an especially bountiful Arbor Day rolls around.
What can't you skimp on?