August 31, 2012

The Weeklies #226

The Weekly Excuse. The dog ate my homework. No, seriously. I had a brand spankin' new entry all typed up and everything but this morning? Gone. Poof. Like magic. Bad magic. I think I'll blame Mitt Romney. Not sure why, just seems like the right thing to do. Anyhow, instead of trying to painstakingly reconstruct the brilliant entry where I discovered things like The Weekly Meaning Of Life and The Weekly Whereabouts Of Jimmy Hoffa and, most importantly The Weekly Winner In A Deathmatch Between One Direction And Justin Bieber, I'm going to go have breakfast with my kids then enjoy the last day of work before a nice, hopefully-uneventful three day weekend. But first...

The Weekly Question. Who's going to win the presidency in 2012? Not who should win of who you want to win but who will win?

Posted by Chris at 7:51 AM | Comments (9)

August 30, 2012

...And The Kitchen Sink...

When we returned from the beach on Saturday, we came home to no kitchen. I should mention that this was expected. It didn't wander off. It wasn't stolen. It didn't disappear. No, we actually paid people to come in with sledgehammers* and crowbars to remove it. Entirely. They even made off with a wall.

While we expect a new and improved kitchen in three to four weeks, our lives are temporarily inconvenienced. Because of the layout of our house, we can no longer access the living room or most of the dining room and getting to the basement is not an option. We're cooking in a cheap microwave on the dining room floor. We've taken over the kids' playroom as our new living room. Plastic utensils and plates are used wherever possible. Dishes are washed in the guest bathroom. There's a fine film of drywall dust coating most everything. We have a coffee maker in our master bedroom. The fridge in our garage works but we're forced to go out the front door and open the garage door to get to it. Which has caused some interesting looks at seven in the morning as I return from the garage, bedheadded, with the kids' breakfast delicately balanced in my hands. (And no, I totally didn't run and get a beer from the garage in my boxers. That wasn't me.)

These are not the worst problems one could have. While inconvenient, the simple fact is we'll be getting a nice shiny kitchen and, after a week or so, we'll have blocked all the unpleasantries from our minds. But it sure is a pain in the ass now.


* While I was typing this I accidentally typed sledgehappers which I really like the sound of.

Posted by Chris at 7:34 AM | Comments (4)

August 29, 2012

Tattoo You

After our week long trip to the beach, I've come to the conclusion that Beth and I are inherently boring. Why, you ask? (Because surely you cannot believe that two smart, sexy and witty people such as us are boring.) After a week at the beach, strolling along the boardwalk, swimming in the ocean and lying in the sand, it became apparent that we are the last remaining tattoo holdouts on the Eastern seaboard.

We saw two ends of the spectrum and everything in between. There were the casually tattooed - women with peace signs on ankles and kids names on shoulder blades and men with tribal tattoos and bicep crosses. Then there was the guy whose tattoos started on his chin and covered every exposed patch of skin down to his toes. In between were kick-ass scenes from the African plains and regrettably-placed angels, pulled down from the heavens by unfortunate and unwanted forces of gravity.

And while I clearly exaggerate - I'm sure we're not the only people in the greater Mid-Atlantic region without tattoos - we were frequently hard-pressed to find folks like ourselves who hadn't taken the plunge.

I'm pretty sure I'm not qualified to have a tattoo. Or, rather, I'm not confident that I have the foresight to choose a tattoo that wouldn't transform into a regrettable choice five, ten or fifty years down the road. For example, I wore parachute pants in seventh grade. For all but a six or seven month window, it was a regrettable choice. I also had a mullet for a year or so. Deeply regrettable. Now imagine if either of those regrettable choices were permanent. I would be a very, very sad, bemulleted, shiny pants wearing man today.

Do you have any tattoos? Where and of what? And if not, why?

Posted by Chris at 7:34 AM | Comments (28)

August 28, 2012

Reunion

Next month is my 20th high school reunion. I could absolutely not care less. I feel slightly guilty about this but I'm not sure why. I guess I don't really see the point.

I had a good time in high school. I was an average student because I was reasonably bored, except for math which just actively pissed me off. I was middle-of-the-road in the popularity department. I hung out with the smokers and stoners and math geeks and musicians, dated cheerleaders, and was the editor of the school newspaper for three years. But as good a time as I had, I have no reason to look back.

High school has become a synonym for drama. I've got kids. I've got enough drama. I also don't feel like I remember enough about high school. I looked at the relatively small list of names of classmates who'd already bought tickets to the reunion. I remembered few. It's probably this apathy I feel that's keeping that list small. There were over 400 people in my graduating class. About 30 are attending. Worse, everyone who commented on the reunion site either sounded 90 or 15. It was kids these days or let's get trashed!.

I'm not trashing high school reunions. My parents are from small town Ohio. They went to the high school, not one of a hundred suburban high schools. For them getting together every ten years is like bringing back the whole town, catching up on each other's lives and sharing memories of the community. I can see the value in that. I'll be honest though - I don't really see a point in going to mine.

Have you attended any high school reunions? If so, how were they? If not, why?

Posted by Chris at 7:26 AM | Comments (23)

August 27, 2012

Reentry, By The Numbers

This morning, after a week at the beach, I find myself back in a land where you have to wake up to fight traffic, flip-flops aren't considered proper dress for business, and I can't take a mid-day break for beer and pizza. And frankly that sucks. How'd I spend my week?

- Miles driven: 375
- Times the fire department visited: 1
- Family staying under the same roof: 15
- Family murdered by the end of the week: 0
- Speedos worn by Owen: 1 (his request, seriously)
- Times I referred to Owen as "my European child": 57
- Card games played: 15
- Card games won: 0
- Beers consumed: 28
- Calories of crappy beach food ingested: 82,538
- Pictures taken: 76 (check them all out below)

- Books read: 1
- Hours of television watched: 0
- Beach visits in excess of 5 hours: 5
- Bottles of sunscreen consumed: 2
- New Zealand-based vineyards pleased we took a trip: 3
- Boardwalk French fries consumed: 42 (estimate only)
- Times I wished for a giant salad: 8
- Sno-cones eaten: 2 (record low, I'm disappointed in myself)
- Kids exhausted: 2
- Parents exhausted: 2

Seriously gang, I'm wiped.

What were you all up to while I was gone?

Posted by Chris at 7:56 AM | Comments (11)

Haiku For Monday #423

Reentry's a bitch.
Though I'm happy not to have
sand every damn where.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM

August 21, 2012

Reality Break

As I was sitting here drinking coffee, listening to kids play and watching the morning march to the beach, it occurred to me that I'm missing in action from the blogosphere. I'm on vacation, living on a steady diet of boardwalk fries, snow cones and beer. I'll be back to reality next week.

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

August 17, 2012

The Weeklies #225

The Weekly Pending Destruction. On Monday our kitchen gets blown up. For reals.

The Weekly Sore Spot. I'm getting really tired of mass shootings. Not nearly as tired as the victims but tired nonetheless.

The Weekly Read. Dani Amore is one of those authors who just popped up with the ebook revolution. Her books are well-reviewed and cheap so I figured I'd give one a shot. Dead Wood turned out to be a pretty decent read. There's the requisite murder, a troubled P.I. with a tragic backstory, and seedy characters, all pretty standard fare. But there was also a spark of originality to the story that propelled me through it and wished there was a sequel (there isn't).

The Weekly Television. The Olympics are over and my DVR has - literally - nothing on it. We're catching up on Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report instead.

The Weekly Lifestyle Change. Exercise. Running, biking, swimming, oh my. I'm exhausted.

The Weekly Asshat. Dave Mustaine, singer and guitarist for Megadeth. He's always been a notorious asshole but he's upped his game by supporting every ultra right-wing conspiracy in the book stating this week that Obama was responsible for the recent spate of shootings in an attempt to gain sympathy for increased gun control measures.

The Weekly Question That Sounds Rhetorical But Really Isn't. What the hell are we going to do with no kitchen for a month? Hey, internet, would you invite us over for dinner?

Posted by Chris at 7:36 AM | Comments (15)

August 16, 2012

You Can't Always Get What You Want (But You Get What You Need)

This weekend we drove to Pennsylvania to hang out with the Amish. It was a spur of the moment thing. Beth and I hatched the plan on Tuesday or Wednesday. We were pretty proud of ourselves.

Up to a point.

We left Saturday morning and before we reached neighborhood escape velocity, the kids were tormenting each other. It became one of those if you don't stop now I'm going to turn this car around* kind of moments. We persevered...and ran into traffic. Obscene Washington, D.C. traffic the likes of which other parts of the country rarely sees since the powers that be decided to tackle three separate major transportation projects at the exact. same. time. We passed our first horse-drawn buggy four hours later. Which is when my children - who I love more passionately than I love anything else on this great earth - became obnoxious on a scale rarely seen in kids who aren't child stars. We did touristy stuff - had lunch, made barns, rode buggies - but these were all punctuated with threats about the trouble they'd both be in if they didn't shape up**. Which included going home first thing in the morning without spending the next day at the amusement park they'd been hoping to visit.

The straw that broke the parents' backs came late in the evening when neither would go to sleep. More consequences were discussed and after a while everything settled down. We all got up the next morning, had breakfast, then we packed the car and headed home. No amusement park. Children were devastated. Parents were too.

The second we got home, we had lunch, the children changed into old clothes and worked in the yard. They pulled weeds. They thought about what they'd done*** and they sweated and they got filthy. But they did it.

I took Monday and Tuesday off - as planned - and we had a wonderful time. We spent Monday hiking around a lake and playing in a water park. We went to an IMAX movie and wandered around a museum followed by some insanely intense bouncing at an indoor trampoline place on Tuesday. It was awesomeness. It almost erased the terrible weekend. The weekend where the kids called a bluff and we had to follow through.

I've said it before - parenting isn't easy. It's so hard not to give your kids everything they want. But you can't always do that.

* I actually said this. Swear. I felt 90.
** Yes, I said this too. About a thousand times.
*** I'm not proud of the fact that I said that too.

Posted by Chris at 7:16 AM | Comments (11)

August 15, 2012

Gay Pride Barn

During our aborted and emotionally scarring weekend jaunt to Pennsylvania Dutch country* we managed to squeeze in a few touristy things, among them a buggy ride and toy-making. Mia made a rag doll. Owen and I hammered together a barn. Yesterday, Owen decided he wanted to paint his barn. I got out paint and brushes and we changed into appropriately ratty painting clothes then he got started. And by got started I mean handed the paintbrush over to me as soon as he got a speck of paint on himself. From then on I performed all the painting while he directed. The front of the barn is brown, the sides are white and the back is blue. Half the roof is green and the other half consists of stripes of bright colors.

I've named it Owen's Gay Pride Barn.

I'm sure the Amish from whom we purchased it would be horrified. I think it's pretty.

* more on this later

Posted by Chris at 7:02 AM | Comments (5)

August 13, 2012

Armpit Magic

"See, daddy really does have magic."

I have no idea how or when it started but whenever the kids get some minor injury, I ask them to put the impacted body part in my armpit. We count to twelve - always twelve, never eleven or thirteen - and the body part is then released. The healing power of my armpit can easily be attributed to the preceding twelve seconds of silliness but the kids don't seem to see it that way. I see laughing, they see a healing miracle. These days minor scrapes are quickly followed not by screaming or a request for bandaids but, instead, a dad, I need your armpit.

This is one of those situations that your pre-parenthood self could have never imagined. That's the awesomeness of parenting.

Posted by Chris at 7:06 AM | Comments (6)

Haiku For Monday #422

Words cannot explain
how exhausted I am now.
Don't think my eyes work.

Posted by Chris at 7:03 AM

August 10, 2012

The Weeklies #224

The Weekly Excuse. I'm just very, very tired.

Posted by Chris at 7:45 AM | Comments (2)

August 9, 2012

Thunderstruck

Word to the wise. Don't ever stand in the middle of a men's room having an active conversation on the phone and try to play it off like you're not doing exactly that - having a conversation, in a bathroom, on the phone. Don't say that you're in your car in a thunderstorm. No one's going to buy that. The pee sounds from the men using the bathroom for its intended purpose - and silently wondering what kind of asshat has an actual phone conversation in a men's room - don't sound like rain. Flushing toilets don't sound like thunder. They sound like toilets. Flushing. And the fart that one guy ripped in the corner stall? How do you explain that? "Oh, um, yeah, well the the rain was coming down so hard I apparently hit a waterbuffalo". If you're going to stand in a bathroom having a conversation, own it. Say I'm in the bathroom and the guy in the corner stall has a serious gastrointestinal problem but please go on and tell me about your day or whatever.

Please note: I did not learn this through doing, merely observing.

Posted by Chris at 7:44 AM | Comments (8)

August 8, 2012

Blogaversary, And Why I Blog

I've been blogging for nine years almost exactly. Happy Blogaversary to me! After nine years, I've entered into some rather lengthy internal debates about why I continue to do this. As it turns out, the answer is simple. I blog because I want to. If I didn't, I'd stop.

I don't need advice on blogging. I don't really need story ideas. When I don't know what to write, I don't write. Or I just ramble about something that's rattling around my head. I don't need products to review. Chances are I won't get around to reviewing them and I don't want to feel obligated to anyone for any morsel of content. I don't need strategies to reach a larger audience or conferences telling me how to get them. The idea of people getting together to catch up is nice but certainly it's not necessary for a medium that's all about self-expression. Though I don't get the comments I used to, my site stats tell me that everyone's still around. Not that I check my site stats all that often. I had some ads once. I hated it and the $100 a month I was getting wasn't worth the grief.

Sometimes I think about giving up. Sometimes I sit in front of my laptop after (or before) a long hard day and it's just one more thing that I don't want to deal with. I don't want to struggle with an idea, don't want to string together witty sentences and don't have a funny bathroom story. But then I figured I'd be pissed at myself if I quit before the ten year mark. And I have more to say.

Over the past nine years, blogging changed. Blogs used to be by and about individuals. Now they're everywhere. Everything and everyone has them and as we've grown used to soundbites and 144 character messages, individual blogs have declined, ceding territory to Facebook and Twitter.

But I'm lucky because some things never change. Many of the folks I started blogging with - the class of 2003 - are still going strong. And quite a few of the folks who read my blog when it was humbly beginning have stuck around. And while some of what I wrote way back when was laughably bad, I just went back and read Haiku For Monday #1. It went a little something like this:

The weekend is gone

And now I'm trying to work

Crap crap crap crap crap


Seems right at home today, doesn't it?

Through 3,919 entries, 86,893 comments, countless bathroom stories, and a thousand or so very poorly executed ideas, I haven't needed PR people or book deals or conferences or advertising to keep going. I've just needed you. Thank you for reading.

Posted by Chris at 7:56 AM | Comments (38)

August 7, 2012

The Tooth Fairy Is A Neat Freak

I was informed yesterday - after the fourth in what is to be a long line of bloody teeth popped out of Mia's head - that the Tooth Fairy accepts only glistening, white clean teeth. Apparently the Tooth Fairy is offended by the sight of slightly unclean teeth. And Mia has high standards for imaginary childhood beings.

I cleaned said tooth, almost losing the tiny thing to an open drain - hello, shit creek, where is my paddle? - and returned it to Mia though her standards of cleanliness were not met. Beth took a turn with the toothbrush. Mia then informed us both that she would be writing the Tooth Fairy a note asking that she be allowed to keep her tooth.

Beth hatched a plan. Not only would we drop some cash and leave the current tooth but we'd return the three previously-lost teeth. There was the problem of money though. Neither of us had any cash. Luckily the kids and their allowance aren't easily parted and they have wads.

Me: We don't have any money.
Beth: She has money.
Me: She doesn't have any small bills. I had to make change last night for the Chinese delivery guy.
Beth: He has cash.
Me: Ones?
Beth: Yeah.

I can't tell you how this all turned out. I was out of the house and in the office by the time this played out. But I do think that the Tooth Fairy should keep her standards a little lower. And Mia should keep a few more dollar bills on-hand.

Posted by Chris at 7:26 AM | Comments (9)

August 6, 2012

The Show Must Not Go On

Yesterday afternoon, the girls wrapped their show. That's theaterspeak for got done with it and can now hang out with their boys.

While I won't tell you what the show was - because that could get you all stalkerish and while I'm not worried about you but the pervs on the internetwebosphere - I can say this. It was a two hour musical with elaborate costumes and more musical numbers than you can shake a stick at. Beth set expectations low through the rehearsal phase. I was expecting the worst. But it was wonderful. Last night a packed house rendered standing ovations to the 60+ cast and it was magnificent.

Apparently this performance deserved huge knockers.

oscarette.jpg
When the girls got home last night, I handed them Oscar-like statuettes. Beth was awarded "Best Actress for her Outstanding Performance In A Role With Big Hats" and Mia, naturally, won "Cutest Actress." The more I looked at them, though, the more I realized that the statuettes had unfortunate noses and disproportionate breasts. But, you know, I guess it never hurts to have a realistic slice of Hollywood here in Virginia.
Posted by Chris at 8:27 AM | Comments (1)

Haiku For Monday #421

Did you know if you
typed fuck seventeen times, you'd
an easy 'ku?

Posted by Chris at 7:34 AM | Comments (1)

August 3, 2012

The Weeklies #223

The Weekly Television Obsession. The Olympics. I can't stop watching!

The Weekly Annoyances. Olympic spoilers.

The Weekly Read. Gillian Flynn is an amazing writer. Sure, her entertainment writing for Entertainment Weekly was great but better are her three novels. The latest - Gone Girl is no exception. Like all Flynn's novels, this one is creepy and dark but Gone Girl is exceptionally twisted. I can say very little about it without saying too much. Just read it. Seriously.

The Weekly Music. In Dreams & Time by Ancestors is my pick of the week. It's heavy (and I don't mean hard like thrash or metal), dramatic and beautiful. Think of combining early 90s grunge (specifically Alice In Chains) with Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here and you'll get the picture.

The Weekly Who Cares. Hey, Kiss is releasing a new album! Yeah, I couldn't give a shit either.

The Weekly App. While there are way too many games that try hard to be like Angry Birds, Where's My Perry? actually gets it right. I mean, it's awesome that its Perry the Platypus and all but if the game sucked it wouldn't matter. It's an Angry Birds-like physics game but there's are a few twists and a good sense of humor to match.

The Weekly Thing I Can't Believe Exists. $1,000 headphones for cats. For the cat who has everything and the owner who has no actively firing brain cells.

The Weekly Beverage Discovery. Starbucks Refreshers. Of course, I made the mistake of drinking one of these before my morning cup of coffee and bounced around the rest of the morning.

The Weekly Question. Where you live, are you inundated with negative political advertising and phone calls from political groups? And does any of this influence who you'll vote for?

Posted by Chris at 7:18 AM | Comments (10)

August 2, 2012

Obscurity

I didn't have a lot of phone calls or meetings at the office yesterday. I did have a lot to catch up on so I popped in my earbuds and set the iPhone on shuffle. Here's what it came up with.

Cheap Trick - Times of Our Lives
Genesis - She Is Beautiful (late 60's demo)
Genesis - Carpet Crawlers (Live: Liverpool - 1975)
Dream Theater - Forsaken
Kaipa - The Seven Oceans of Our Mind
Peter Gabriel - Blood Of Eden
Spock's Beard - A Guy Named Sid
North Atlantic Oscillation - Chirality
Karmakanic - Who's The Boss In the Factory?
Genesis - Horizons (Live: Toronto 1973)
Yellow Matter Custard (Beatles supergroup cover band) - It Won't Be Long
Peter Gabriel - Biko
Spock's Beard - Kamikaze
Fountains Of Wayne - Cemetery Guns
The Beatles - Think For Yourself
Robert Plant & The Band Of Joy - Angel Dance (live at the Bowery, NYC)
Agents Of Mercy - We Have Been Freed
Peter Gabriel - Steam
Elbow - An Audience With The Pope
Neal Morse - Author Of Confusion
Elbow - Grounds For Divorce
Led Zeppelin - Dancing Days (Live In Southampton 1973)
The Flower Kings - Numbers
Cheap Trick - This Time Around
Pearl Jam - Severed Hand
Porcupine Tree - Cheating The Polygraph
Dream Theater - Prophets of War
Foo Fighters - Aurora
Snow Patrol - Please Just Take These Photos From My Hands
The Tangent - Company Car
Airbag - All Rights Removed
I am guessing that the vast majority of you have never heard of 85% of these bands. By mainstream standards, my iPhone's music selection is uncool. But I dig it.

What are you listening to these days?

Posted by Chris at 7:26 AM | Comments (8)

August 1, 2012

Chick-Fil-Gay

Full Disclosure: I'm a liberal vegetarian. I like gay people.

As far as the Supreme Court is concerned, corporations should be treated like individuals when it comes to campaign donations. Fine. So let's use that logic and just assume that corporations - when appropriate - can have a corporate identity and philosophy.

A couple of months back I wrote about the local Jesus-yogurt place that makes no attempt to hide the fact that it's schilling froyo for the holy spirit. Fine. It isn't my thing and I probably wouldn't patronize them but it's not hurting anyone. Business owners can believe what they want and articulate it though their restaurants or businesses. If my local bank decided to show that they were hardcore Rolling Stone fans, kept Sticky Fingers on repeat in their branches and exchanged their lame logo for a big pair of lips, I'm sure it would alienate some smooth jazz fans (and those who think Let It Bleed is a far superior album) but, again, personal - or business - preference.

For a while I felt the same way about Chick-Fil-A. They're a business based on strong Christian values and those values inform them that homosexuality is wrong. If Chick-Fil-A president wants to support “the biblical definition of the family unit” and maintain that those involved in same-sex unions are “inviting God’s judgment” well fine. I think he's misguided but I'm sure there are hundreds of thousands applauding him. I don't like it and I don't agree but everyone's entitled to their beliefs. I don't ever have to go to Chick-Fil-A again and, since forceable poultry crimes are at an all time low, I doubt that anyone will ever force me through their doors at gunpoint.

But then Chick-Fil-A got stupid (and potentially illegal). To counter the media blowback, it appears that Chick-Fil-A set themselves up with fake social media accounts, leveraging the voice of a nonexistent teenager to try and do damage control. Which of course made everything worse. And now come claims that Chick-Fil-A fired women so they could be stay at home moms thus supporting corporate values. Which is kinda illegal and flies in the face of that whole do unto others thing.

There are two sides to every coin. Some would say it's no different than companies that come out in support of gay rights or businesses that embraced equal employment practices for African Americans in the fifties and sixties. I'd be hard-pressed to disagree. And hell, I applaud companies for taking and stand for and pride in a strong set of values. But my son's going to have to get his chicken fix somewhere else. The fantastic employees and wonderful service can't compensate for what I believe to be backwards beliefs.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (10)


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