November 30, 2012

The Weeklies 238

The Weekly Color. Red. Because why the fuck not?

The Weekly Beverage. Vitamin Water Essential Orange.

The Weekly Music. Led Zeppelin was the third band I fell in love with. I remember wanting to play big Gibson sunburst guitars like Jimmy Page and belting out high-pitched wails like Robert Plant. New Zeppelin releases don't hit the street every day. Despite having a crappy sounding bootleg copy of the concert as well as having heard the rehearsals leading up to the 2007 reunion concert from which Celebration Day was taken, I cringed a little bit when I put the new release on. The fact of the matter is that Led Zeppelin sounds a little weak when they kick off their set with Good Times, Bad Times. Call it nerves or lack of practice or just sheer age, they get off to a shaky start. Robert Plant sounds good but John Paul Jones' bass is a bit scattered and Jimmy Page's guitar work sounds stiff and over processed. The good news is that they get better. A lot better. There are moments during Celebration Day that sound like the band's been playing those songs every day since their breakup in 1980. Because of his recent solo output that highlighted the changes to his voice brought about by age or years of screaming, there were concerns that Plant wouldn't be able to perform well vocally but those fears prove totally unfounded. I was frankly shocked that he hit some of the notes he did. He can still wail. Jimmy Page loosened up, eased back the guitar effects and processing, and fell into a good groove. John Paul Jones' bass work hit its stride and he sounded wonderful doing double duty on keyboards as well. Most admirably, Jason Bonham filled his dad's shoes quite well. There were moments when I could swear it was the elder Bonham hitting the skins. There was a lot of talk about a full reunion tour that Robert Plant eventually sidelined completely. And that's probably okay. A fantastic one night performance here is better than a touring nostalgia act. But listening to this recaptures some of the magic.

The Weekly Read. Like any of the half-dozen Ed McBain books I've picked up over the last year, Ax doesn't disappoint. As with his other 87th Precinct novels, it's brief, spare, straight to the point, and incredibly well-written. I wouldn't consider this the best he's written as it lacked some of McBain's usual dark humor and social criticism, but it was well done.

The Weekly Television. American Horror Story will fuck you up. Beth and I are watching the first season. I'ts insane. I might have had a minor panic attack after the episode we watched Wednesday night.

The Weekly Example That I'm A Glutton For Punishment. Between the aforementioned American Horror Story, new episodes of The Walking Dead, and the zombie book I'm reading, it's a wonder I'm managing to get any sleep at all.

The Weekly Word. Biblioklept.

The Weekly Question. Have you started your holiday shopping yet?

Posted by Chris at 7:12 AM | Comments (15)

November 29, 2012

Gratuitously Awesome Things From My Kids

From Mia, who wrote a poem that is pretty awesome especially since she's seven.

Gazing Up

As I lay upon Mother Earth
And look up at the stars
I realize the sky is endless from Mercury to Mars
Meteorites look like shooting stars going whizzzzzz
Stars are like roses
Comets are like posies
Planets are like daffodils
And the sun is a fiery dot in the blackened sky
The moon looks like a ball of brightness in the breezy night
As I lay upon Mother Earth

From Owen, who loves him some Beatles.

Owen: You're my best pee ess ever.
Me: Pee ess?
Owen: Yes. My best pee ess.
Me: You're awesome too but I don't think I totally get where you're coming from.
Owen: You're my best pee ess because The Beatles sing pee ess, I love you.

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

November 28, 2012

The Blow-Out

We had an argument. It was a bad one. A blow-out, really. It was all about driving directions because fights like these usually start over something like that. See, I was leaving the house, heading for a meeting and she gave me directions. They seemed right and I'd never been there so I didn't know any better. Things started to go south when I found myself winding through a neighborhood. A short cut, I thought. But no.

Siri: Prepare to park your vehicle. Your destination is ahead.
Me: I'm in a neighborhood.
Siri: Your destination is ahead.
Me: Again, I'm in a neighborhood. With houses. I'm not even on the right street.
Siri: You have reached the end of the navigable route. You must now walk to your destination.
Me: That's someone's front yard!
Siri: You've reached your destination.
Me: Like hell I have. Your damn maps took me to the wrong place.
Siri: I don't see any places matching the wrong nearby.
Me: If you had eyes you would.
Siri: Would you like me to search the web for if you had eyes you would?
Me: No, just blow me.
Siri: I hope you don't kiss your mother with that mouth.
Me: I'm sorry Siri.
Siri: It's okay. Really.
Me: I was out of line. I won't let it happen again.
Siri: I'd like that Christopher.

I did eventually make it to the meeting, on time and without walking through anyone's backyard. And I made it with the help of another navigation app. Yes, I cheated on Siri. Though, when I opened the app and told it where I needed to go, because I was apparently in a neighborhood right behind the office building I was headed to, it encouraged me to walk as well. I think my iPhone thinks I'm fat.

Siri and I have made up, mended fences but I probably won't use Apple maps anytime soon. Unless I want to walk.

(Yes, this conversation happened exactly as written.)

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

November 27, 2012

The Moderately Rude Jar

Beth and I have breathtaking abilities to curse like sailors. Yet, somehow, we've been able to hide this talent from our children. Wanting your kids to avoid using bad language seems hypocritical and I suppose it is. With our kids, though, we're merely trying to stop them from being rude.

This weekend, Owen called me stupid. I found a mason jar, put it on the counter, and demanded that Owen get me a quarter from his room. He owed me another quarter later in the day when he called his sister a poopoo head. Mia contributed some time later when she told her brother he was a butt.

These are not bad words. We're not talking about a George Carlin standup routine. This is more like Elmo working blue. I know this. Beth and I joked that I hadn't really set up a swear jar, just a moderately rude jar. But I think rude is worse.My kids are allowed to be anything they want to be when they grow up. Except rude.

The other day Mia told me that Owen said the s word which, for a minute, scared the s out of me. I was later informed, to my relief, that Owen had merely said stupid. I realize I don't have a long time before stupid turns to asshole and poopoo head turns to almighty cock nostril but I'll take what I can get.

As long as my kids aren't rude.

It's going to piss me right the fuck off if they turn out to be rude.

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

November 26, 2012

Thanks, As In Giving Some

I misplaced a four day weekend. Have you seen it?

The last four days were a blur of thankfulness, activity and food. We were all over the place, so much so that I snapped something like 500 pictures. Specifically, we:

- Gave thanks
- Ate too much
- Probably drank too much beer
- Visited Arlington Cemetery
- Ate
- Walked the length and width of Roosevelt Island
- Watched all three Narnia movies
- Ate some more
- Came up with our Christmas lists
- Went ice skating
- Had a few play dates
- Got Beyblades and formed a Beyblade Fight Club (which I just broke the first rule of)
- Yeah, ate
- Started watching American Horror Story; freaked out a little

Perhaps my favorite part was being with my family. All of it. We spent several wonderful hours together for Thanksgiving then met the next day to walk through Arlington Cemetery. We visited my Uncle Dick, Aunt Mary Louise, Beth's Grandpa Jack and Grandma Pearl. I can't think of a better expression of thanks or anything that better defines what Thanksgiving is all about.

I hope your Thanksgivings were all equally wonderful and that your reentry into the Monday-morning real world is painless. I suspect mine won't be but, well, they never are.

Posted by Chris at 7:37 AM | Comments (3)

Haiku For Monday 434

I'd like to find the
alarm clock inventor guy
and slap him around.

Posted by Chris at 7:24 AM

November 21, 2012

Formal(ity)

Picture this. I'm fifteen years, ten months old. My parents have told me that I can't get my ear pierced until I turn sixteen. So I'm in my bathroom, lights blaring, staring into the mirror piercing my own ear with a big-ass sewing needle. Two things you should learn from this: 1) Ew. 2) I'm an immediate-gratification kind of person. The next morning I marched downstairs with an oversized hole in my ear to kindly inform my parents that I needed to go buy earrings. On our way to the mall, I distinctly recall my dad turning to my mom in the front seat saying never thought I'd be driving my son to pick our earrings.

Owen is very much his own person (as is Mia) and I love that. While choosing Thanksgiving outfits last night he decided that he wanted nothing more than a bow tie. I got on Amazon, found one, and ordered it for next day delivery so it would be here by Thanksgiving. I never thought I'd be ordering my son a bow tie. Not that there's anything wrong with the old school dapper look.

P.S. The hole really was ginormous. Though I haven't worn an earring in years, the hole is still there and very much functional.

(That's what she said.)

Posted by Chris at 8:01 AM | Comments (5)

November 19, 2012

Juxtaposition

The four of us took a lovely walk in the woods yesterday. We followed a stream and, at some point, lost the trail. So we blazed one of our own and stumbled upon deer, vultures, and army of squirrels, two hawks and a red-headed woodpecker. Whilst wondering through said woods - tromping through creeks and trying not to get hung up on thorns - we found a ladder in the trees. I'm guessing some kid built it - and the platform at its top - to hang out in. I'm glad he did. It provided the most awesome juxtaposition of the day.

Thank god Owen can't read...and that Mia was oblivious.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (5)

Haiku For Monday #433

It's impossible
that it's Thanksgiving this week.
Time, slow the fuck down.

Posted by Chris at 7:08 AM | Comments (1)

November 16, 2012

The Weeklies #237

The Weekly Excuse. Yes, I'm very well aware of my delinquency. I blame the fact that I worked a 13 hour day yesterday and am double booked in meetings all day today, a trend that started at 8:00 this morning. Rude. So instead of running through a list of the week's happenings, I'll just say TGIFingF and I hope you all have wonderful weekends!

Posted by Chris at 8:53 AM | Comments (3)

November 15, 2012

Galaxies Far Far Away

The past couple of weeks have been crazy. With all the storms, illness, general confusion and extreme busyness, this happened:



Owen will tell you he's the true Star Wars fan of the family but he's wrong. It's Mia. She's just afraid to let her inner geek shine. Truth be told, she can tell you things about Star Wars you never knew. It was Mia who was gung-ho to go to the Smithsonian Air And Space Halloween celebration dressed as Leia. And it was Mia who took great delight in the fact that she was the only Leia we saw who had real hair buns. And it was Mia who had to pose with every Star Wars character we could find.

Don't get me wrong. Owen had fun too, especially when he got into a shoot out with a Stormtrooper. But Mia's our geek. Granted, she's a fashionable, jock kind of geek. But a geek nonetheless.

Posted by Chris at 7:24 AM | Comments (9)

November 14, 2012

Sparky

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Posted by Chris at 7:48 AM | Comments (7)

November 13, 2012

Division 2012

Please tell my why I have to explain this to my daughter.

I could have dodged the question, ignored the fact that Mia saw this and wanted to know what it was as I showed it to Beth. But I didn't. Instead, I told her the truth. The truth that, a long time ago people owned other people. And then, after they were freed they still weren't free. That they had to ride on different busses and drink from separate water fountains. Then segregation was ended but some resisted. And some still do.

When you put things into a context that children understand, it makes whatever concept you're trying to explain seem ridiculous. Racism is one of those things. My kids aren't conscious of race. Sure, they see the difference but to them it's no big deal. Trying to explain racism is like trying to explain a world without gravity. It's just not something that registers.

I don't think Republicans are inherently racist. I think there are probably more racist Republicans than there are racist Democrats but I'm not labeling an entire political party. My father-in-law and brother-in-law voted for Romney. They're no more racist than Martin Luther King, just fiscal conservatives. But I do think it's interesting that some things haven't changed. Interesting and sad.

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

November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day

I went to Mia's school on Friday afternoon for their Veteran's Day performance. Six classes of kids sang the patriotic songs they'd been working on for weeks while parents watched and clapped. At one point, all the veterans in the audience, about eight or nine, were called up front, thanked and applauded and one last song was sung.

I'm sure the same thing went on at thousands of elementary schools across the country. In the aggregate, nice but unremarkable. But individually, incredibly special. It was something that transcended what was actually happening in a random public school gym. Those eight or nine people left their families, traveled around the world, learned new skills and - literally - risked everything for our country. It seems to me that, surrounded by kids and parents in the epicenter of your community, being recognized in this way is perhaps the most wonderful and perfect way to thank those who took that risk. Not only is it much earned recognition but a way for kids to learn about the burden that those veterans took on for the rest of us.

For those who served, thank you. For those that didn't, be sure to thank a veteran.


Posted by Chris at 8:02 AM | Comments (3)

November 9, 2012

The Weeklies 236

The Weekly Event. The election.

The Weekly Asshats. All those vindictive souls who were pissed about the election on Wednesday and couldn't wait to take it out on other people.

The Weekly Thing I'm Not Going To Miss. Robocalls.

The Weekly Animal. Guinea pigs. Specifically, Anderson.

The Weekly Read. I started the six volume Yesterday's Gone by Sean Platt and David Wright expecting to read one volume, move on to something else, then return eventually. It should be some indication of how I liked that first book that I read the rest in one shot. The scenario - of various people waking up one morning to find most of the population gone - isn't all that original but the execution is fantastic. The narrative bounces from one character to another until you've got a geographically-separated band of survivors each with a very unique backstory. And while they might be the only humans around, they're not alone. Dun-duh-dun.

The Weekly Music. Aerosmith's new album - Music From Another Dimension - begins with two minutes of Outer Limits/Twilight Zone spoken word intro that promises some sort of inter-dimensional experience. As it turns out that's pretty accurate. But instead of a dimension chock full of good, honest rock and roll, we enter the Dimension Of Suck. The new Aerosmith album is terrible. Why? It vacillates between the 1990s power ballad Aerosmith and what I assume is an attempt to sound like 1970s Aerosmith. The power ballads are only moderately tolerable. The attempts to revive the classic Aerosmith sound are contemptible. The entire album is horribly written but the "rockers" are especially dismal, sounding as though they were conceived by a 15 year boy after a series of wet dreams. Which is really creepy considering that the songs are actually written by a bunch of 60 year old men. Whatever credibility the band could have saved with the instrumentation is lost amid slick production, vocal manipulation, and a bland rhythm section. Most of it sounds like it was laid down by lame session musicians. It's sad to say but Steve, Joe and the boys need to hang up their guitars, put the drums in storage, and take up a hobby that the rest of us don't have to listen to.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. See The Weekly Music.

The Weekly Question. What are you doing this weekend?

Posted by Chris at 7:51 AM | Comments (4)

November 8, 2012

Anderson

Internet, meet Anderson.

With the untimely demise of Chloe the hermit crab - chronicled earlier this week - we accelerated our quest to find an appropriate pet for Mia. Fish didn't cut it, dogs and cats were sadly out (allergies), and rats held the top spot for a while until Mia actually held a rat and got a little freaked out (justifiably so). So on Tuesday, Beth, Mia and Owen went to the pet store, played with Anderson, buried their faces in Anderson to see if allergies were going to be an issue, and after an afternoon of consideration (and wonderous lack of sneezing), they returned to the pet store and brought Anderson home.

As you can see from the picture, Anderson is a very cute guinea pig though he appears to be 95% nose. He and Mia are bonding. I kinda like him too, especially when he sits on my chest and whistles at me.

Why the name Anderson? I have absolutely no idea. But it's a very Mia thing to name a pet and I think it's pretty much the best pet name ever.

Posted by Chris at 7:53 AM | Comments (10)

November 7, 2012

Proud

Proud. That's what I am. Tired, a little hungover, too. But proud. We, collectively, did the right thing. And I'm proud of that.


Posted by Chris at 7:33 AM | Comments (9)

November 6, 2012

Why I Am Voting For President Obama

Today after what feels like the longest, most vicious election season ever, I will cast my vote for Barack Obama. After today the robocalls will stop ringing, the signs will be taken down, and the political commercials will end. But what will we be left with in the election's wake? Four more years of the Obama presidency, I hope. Why?

It's my responsibility - as a person and a citizen - to do my part to make sure children are educated, the poor don't starve in the streets and those who served our country are repaid the debt they're owed.

No adult or child should lose their financial future because they got sick and didn't have insurance.

The troops must come home.

More effort must be put into seeking peace than making war.

Change is hard and not something that can happen in four years.

A leader shouldn't be blamed for the mistakes of his predecessor.

The American dream isn't the exclusive domain of the rich.

Tough problems - ones fundamental to our society and it's future - deserve solutions, not bandaids that kick the problem further down the road for another generation to deal with.

Climate change exists and energy alternatives must be found. And that requires investment. Now.

A society that doesn't collectively look after it's people isn't a society. It's a failure.

No one truly interested in reducing government and putting more decisions in the hands of the people can simultaneously want decision-making power over a woman's right to make her own reproductive decisions.

I realize that my points of view are fundamentally idealistic. But one of the things in which we should invest our ideals is our country. Regardless of your ideals, make sure to get out and vote.

Posted by Chris at 7:52 AM | Comments (12)

November 5, 2012

Chloe 2012-2012

In fond remembrance of Chloe, hermit crab, 2012-2012.

Chloe was found deceased in her habitat at approximately 7:33 PM on the evening of Sunday, November 4, 2012. Chloe's loved ones were nearby. There were no signs of foul play.

Chloe's owner - Mia - was despondent, remembering the night on the boardwalk when she first spotted Chloe in her vaguely Rastafarian-colored shell. Tears were shed - many of them - and the search for an appropriate pet resumed.

Chloe is survived by Batman, a three month old hermit crab who paced around his habitat nervously on Saturday night as if he knew something was awry.

Rest in peace Chloe.

Posted by Chris at 7:57 AM | Comments (3)

Haiku For Monday 432

Sun, wind and pumpkin
makes for unwelcome Monday
mornings. And coffee.

Posted by Chris at 7:08 AM

November 2, 2012

The Weeklies 235

The Weekly Holiday. Halloween!

The Weekly Odd Superhero Duo. Batman and The Snow Queen.

The Weekly Read. Hugh Howery is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. After his Wool series, I bought and downloaded everything he's written. The Plagiarist didn't disappoint. It's like a good Twilight Zone episode - spare, compact, a little twisted, and a great deal of fun. Howery is an author to watch.

The Weekly Sad Fact. My daughter - who is seven - knows fractions better than I do.

The Weekly Geek Event. Disney bought Lucasfilm. Look, I know this has made a lot of fanboys nervous, quaking in their stormtrooper gear, but, hell, more Star Wars movies are on their way and my kids are thrilled. Even Mia who refuses to admit she's a Star Wars fan. But totally is.

The Weekly Beer. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA. I've never been a Sam Adams fan but this has redeemed them in my eyes.

The Weekly Storm. Sandy.

The Weekly Aunt. Sandy. I'm sure these things are unrelated.

The Weekly Politician. Chris Christie. I can't help but like the guy.

The Weekly Question. Less than a week to go - five days in fact. Who will win?

Posted by Chris at 7:51 AM | Comments (1)

November 1, 2012

Halloween

As I write, I have spooky music blaring from the upstairs window directly above the front door. My kids - dressed as Batman and The White Queen (from Narnia) - are out in the cold, trick-or-treating in our neighborhood for the first time in years (we've traditionally trick-or-treated with friends in another neighborhood), and I'm handing out candy to Jason, a gnome (WTF?), Mario, Captain America, Jasmine, and an inappropriately dressed 20 year old with a costume that must have been sold as Slutty Bo Peep.

I love Halloween.

I never dress up. I'm not a big candy eater. I love the odd horror movie but it's not my genre of choice. I just love Halloween because it's so expansive. Yeah, expansive.

When I was a kid, our neighborhood tripled in size. Not literally. Not like a suburban TARDIS. But on Halloween night, when it was dark, houses seemed a million miles away from each other, the next block over seemed like a far away land and the end of the street disappeared into darkness. Part of it was the darkness and being allowed to wander the neighborhood in it and some of it was perspective, being much shorter than I am now.

I hope my kids grow the same memories of Halloween.

Posted by Chris at 7:31 AM | Comments (1)


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