June 28, 2013

The Weeklies #259

The Weekly Excuse. I wasn't tired last night so I stayed up pretty darn late. Sure, I could have used that time to handcraft today's post but instead I drank a beer, surfed TMZ and watched an old episode of Star Trek (The Menagerie, if you're curious).

Have a wonderful weekend.

Posted by Chris at 8:28 AM | Comments (1)

June 27, 2013


I have a friend who just so happens to be gay. She got pregnant with the woman who she considers her wife but no one would legally acknowledge that. She was pregnant with twins. She suffered the usual anxieties of an expectant mother compounded by those of a mother expecting not one but two babies simultaneously arriving in her life. Compounded by the fact that she is gay, in love with another woman, and lived in a southern state which would not recognize her partner's parenthood. So she moved. Temporarily. To give birth in a place that would recognize both her and her partner as parents.

She had her twins the other day. She and her partner will return to their southern state soon to resume life as normal...or whatever the new normal is once you've brought twins into the world. But, speaking of coming into the world, those twins are coming into a world that just got a little more tolerant.

While yesterday's Supreme Court decision doesn't instantly make all these things easier, it helps. And it helps correct a massive injustice. Ask a kid about gay marriage. Don't phrase it that way but just ask if two people who love each other should be able to get married whether they're men, women or both. They'll laugh because to disallow such a thing seems ridiculous and massively counterintuitive. I remain convinced that in twenty or thirty years we'll look back at things like DOMA, collectively hang our heads and say what the hell were we thinking?

Posted by Chris at 7:58 AM | Comments (3)

June 25, 2013

Bruce, Hermione and June

Our yard is a forest animal's dream. It's got trees, grass, a pond stocked with fish and plenty of wonderful-tasting plants. I'm convinced that animals come from all over the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area to visit. The other evening I looked out our back window and noticed a deer, a giant bunny, a pair of doves, a pair of cardinals and a squirrel. "It's like a real life Sleeping Beauty out there," I told Beth.

A couple of months ago, a doe (a deer, a female deer) started poking around our yard. The next day, a young male deer, antlers just budding, hung around for an hour. They came back every few days or so until our mulberry tree did it's thing. Mulberries must be wonderful because the deer were back - separately - every day for hours on end. We named the male deer Bruce (after Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden) and the doe Hermione (duh).

On Saturday, home between swim meets and additional pool time, I passed by the back window and saw something that made my heart explode. Hermione. And her fawn. We named her June after a quick look at the calendar. Hermione waltzed around finding mulberries while June turned our backyard into a racetrack, sprinting around on legs way too big for it's body that it had obviously just learned to use. It lasted about 15 minutes and then they were gone. We like to think that Hermione brought June to meet us. Maybe to say thanks for the mulberries.

You're welcome, Hermione.

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

June 24, 2013

Small World

On Saturday evening there was a knock on our door. It turned out to be neighbors who lived down the street. They moved in about a year ago and have two young kids, one of whom, daughter Ella, is on the neighborhood swim team with Mia and Owen.

"We just made an amazing discovery," said Bruce, the dad. "The hard drive I keep all the family pictures on crashed. My brother-in-law fixed it for me and gave it back this morning. After the meet, I was looking through them with Ella to make sure everything was there. She saw this and said 'That's Mia!'"

He turned his cell phone towards me and there was a picture of Ella, Mia and Owen petting a cow at a local farm. Taken two years ago, at least a year before they moved into our neighborhood and we ever met.

Don't let anyone tell you this isn't a small world.

Posted by Chris at 7:04 AM | Comments (2)

Haiku For Monday #456

I cannot truly
express how crazy a week
this week will be. Ugh.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM

June 21, 2013

The Weeklies #258

The Weekly Loss. James Gandolfini.

The Weekly Awesomeness. My son's favorite band? The Beatles. My son's second favorite band? Iron Maiden. Clearly we're doing something right.

The Weekly Owen's Favorite Band. The Beatles.

The Weekly Owen's Second Favorite Band. Iron Maiden.

The Weekly Conclusion. We're doing something right as parents.

The Weekly Racist And Butter Fanatic. Paula Deen.

The Weekly Read.
With e-publishing serialized novels are returning to popularity. It's a cool idea when successfully done. Back in October, I started reading J.F. Perkins' Renewal series. Now that I finished the tenth and final volume, I feel like I can review it honestly. I was largely attracted to it because it sounded like some good, post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction but a few pages in I realized that's not what this was. Sure, bombs went off, the power grid was destroyed and civilization took several steps back. But this story wasn't dark and hopeless. It was, instead, hopeful and full of characters doing their very best to rebuild and make things good again. While Perkins' writing could use some polish, his characters are wonderful and I became genuinely interested in the story. Each volume clocks in at about 100 pages so you get a nice, bite-sized portion of good story telling that forms a great, compelling story.

The Weekly Catastrophe. My external hard drive with my entire music library crashed. Rebuilding it's a bitch.

The Weekly Question. Do you have a book you can - and have - read over and over again? What is it?

Posted by Chris at 7:32 AM | Comments (13)

June 20, 2013

Summer Tragedy

Woe is us. Tragedy has befallen the land just in time for summer. Don't worry, the kids are fine especially now that school is over. I wasn't abducted by aliens or strange people in public restrooms. Beth didn't break her other foot (she's still in the boot but definitely improving). No odd BBQ disasters or lawn-mowing casualties. My job is fine and I was not attacked by hordes of angry midgets. And - most seriously - we didn't run out of beer.

We ran out of Game Of Thrones.

Beth and I were admittedly late to the party. We watched the first episode a month and a half ago and cruised through the rest of the series quickly. Our cable company decided to give us free HBO a couple weeks back which only fueled our addiction. And now, like the rest of the world, we're caught up. I didn't think I'd get into the show. In fact, I might have laughed at Beth or said something condescending when she first recommended that we watch it. This week I believe that I used the word dothraki in a conversation in which I was really trying to be taken seriously. Things change. Roll with them.

Now it's summer and I feel, metaphorically, like I'm north of The Wall with winter closing in and no tournaments to keep me entertained.

What are you watching these days?

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (11)

June 19, 2013

Earworms: The Answer

Yep, it was totally YYZ by Rush.

Posted by Chris at 9:59 AM

June 18, 2013


Sweet baby Jesus I have an earworm. To celebrate this earworm and hopefully drive it from my head, I'll give the first person who guesses correctly a $10 Amazon gift card. Yes, I realize it could be anything. That's why I'm giving you clues.

1. Alphabet.
2. Oh Canada.
3. IATA.

Have at it.

Posted by Chris at 7:31 AM | Comments (6)

June 17, 2013

Dad's Day

A couple of years back, I cringed at the idea that my kids were making me breakfast. Owen was little so his idea of breakfast frequently included inedible items. Mia's might as well have since she was likely to combine granola, orange juice, a jar of olives and some romaine lettuce and call it good. Luckily for me, things have changed.

Yesterday, for Father's Day, I received breakfast in bed. It consisted of nicely cut strawberries, coffee, orange juice and a plate of fresh blueberry pancakes. I ate as they cuddled around me only occasionally punching one another. Then I opened presents - the latest John Sandford novel from Mia and a few movies from Owen - and we headed to a neighborhood cookout. There was beer, which is always nice, and tons of friends. Hard to go wrong. Afterwards we all watched a movie then went out to dinner.

Apparently Father's Day for me is all about getting fat.

Of course, other things happened this weekend. Mia swam in her first meet of the summer. She was a little rusty but did well in four events - freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and a relay. I'm convinced, though, that swim meets are just an excuse for kids to eat junk on a Saturday morning. At least they're swimming it all off. After the swim meet we all went home, got a snack and headed back to the pool for some family swim time. Then the four of us cooked a big meal, ate, and fell blissfully asleep after only several hours of complaining that no one was tired.

Even if it is a Hallmark-driven, fake holiday, it's a great excuse to eat. I hope all the fathers out there - and all the moms that support them - had a great Father's Day.

Posted by Chris at 8:21 AM | Comments (1)

Haiku For Monday #455

Nothing better than
a kid with a whistle first
thing on a Monday.

Posted by Chris at 8:12 AM

June 14, 2013

The Weeklies #257

The Weekly Loss. Earlier in the week the world lost Iain Banks. I recently wrote about Banks and his impact on me. After a heroic struggle with cancer whilst trying to complete his final novel, Banks died on Sunday. If there's a silver lining, it's that he did finish his novel which is due out later this month. Needless to say I'm saddened that he's no longer with us.

The Weekly Weather Situation. Severe!

The Weekly CNN Headline. Did 'Octomom' Defraud Welfare? Maybe, but she sure as hell defrauded nature.

The Weekly Read. I joined the rest of the world by finally reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. It is one of the rare occasions that something lives up to the hype. It is, quite simply, wonderful. Sure, it's about kids with cancer and as with stories of kids with cancer the outcomes aren't always happy but Green's depiction of the kids, their relationship and their struggles are incredible.

The Weekly Question. So, all this domestic snooping stuff - justified and okay or just flat wrong?

Posted by Chris at 7:34 AM | Comments (5)

June 13, 2013

Funny Guys

I'm a big fan of podcasts. In particular, I love theMike O'Meara Show. And since I won't let my kids listen to it, they profess a deep and undying love of the show as well. Owen calls them the funny guys and desperately wants to be one . So imagine his surprise when I told him he could have his own podcast.

I give you now the inaugural Owencast.

Download now

Posted by Chris at 8:02 AM | Comments (6)

June 11, 2013

Saturday Night: Mia's Tale

As I mentioned yesterday, Mia went to her first sleepover on Saturday night. Owen, as you've learned, had his own plans for the evening. Mia, well, she didn't know what to expect.

When Mia gets nervous she talks. Mia always talks but when she's nervous it's impossible to stop the stream of consciousness that flows from her mouth. Mia is almost never nervous which makes this a pretty rare thing. (For the record, the moment Mia stepped off the stage after her first performance in a lead kid's role a couple years back, I asked her if she was nervous. She looked at me like I had three heads and asked, why would I be?) The conversation was one sided and Mia's contribution was something like this:

Dad, I'm just nervous. I know it's going to be okay and that I'm going to have fun because pizza and cake and a Barbie movie, right, so it's going to be okay but I can't help feeling a bit nervous but I know this family is pretty much like a second family and if there's anything I need or I'm scared about I can talk to them and why would I be scared anyway because it's a party for my, like, BFF and it's going to be so much fun that I can't wait but still, dad, I'm a little nervous because of, you know, my brain and where do you think we're going to sleep or really do you think we're going to sleep because there's not much slumber at a slumber party just pizza and cake and I hope I'm able to fall asleep though because I don't want to be the last kid awake...that just makes me nervous, dad, I'm nervous.

I got her out of the car, took her into our friends' place and she disappeared. I saw her reemerge with a drink that looked distinctly blue and filled with sugar, gave the parents a look that meant better you than me and hopped back in the car.

The phone rang a couple of times that night. Beth and I looked at each other worried that it was the you need to come pick up your kid call...but that never happened. I picked her up the next morning, sugar-buzzed and sleepy reporting all about the wonderful time she'd just had once she got over herself.

Slumber party, check. Another weekend, another milestone.

Posted by Chris at 8:09 AM | Comments (2)

The Lawn Whisperer

We've got a neighbor with a lawn obsession.

It started last summer near as we can tell. It began with some light fertilizing and snowballed into a daily activity. Everyday - weekday or weekend - he's in his yard. On weekends he can put a good 12 hours of work in. How he's spending this time is a mystery. There are tarp-covered mounds of dirt that slowly but never completely go away. There's fertilizing, aerating, mowing, seeding, more seeding, more aerating, more fertilizing, watering, running over the whole damn thing with some sort of machine, then fertilizing some more...and it goes on. Occasionally he throws in something interesting. Like the time he removed a whole tree from his front yard with a crowbar. Or the time he decided to put a nice layer of topsoil on top of the grass. Or last week when he covered two large squares of his lawn with white plastic tarps, logs and sprinklers*.

Here's the thing. Despite all the sweat, attention, and unconventional lawn maintenance...his lawn looks pretty much like ass. I feel sorry for the guy. I want him to be some sort of yard savant capable of transforming soil into lush, heavenly grass. But, no, looks like crap.

* Beth and I tried to come up with some explanations for this last development. Our best guesses were getting rid of mushrooms, growing mushrooms, killing grass, and hiding bodies of the last two people who made fun of his yard.

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2013

Saturday Night: Owen's Tale

On Saturday night, Mia had her first sleep-over. Mia was thrilled. And so was Owen. He'd planned the entire evening out, though some of those plans were only apparent at the very last minute.

Literally the minute that I walked in after dropping Mia off, Owen claimed the evening. He was dressed in a vest and nice pants (no shirt because he's like the business man Village Person who didn't make the cut after the indian was added), Beth was wearing a dress and a high heel shoe (singular, due to boot) and I was informed that I would be required to change into fancy clothes. The coffee table was covered with a white table cloth and a centerpiece consisting of his hermit crab food surrounded by socks (seriously) adorned it.

We ordered Burmese food - Owen's favorite so long as it contains hefty quantities of meat - and settled in for an evening with Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. It was clear from the 2 second mark that Owen was not digging the movie. When a bad guy was pierced by 3 of 4 metal spikes, he was pretty much done. We rapidly switched to The Incredibles instead (which, coincidentally, I have to admit is a pretty fantastic movie) and the night was back on track.

Owen wasn't feeling great, his sister having given him the cold she had last weekend. He requested that we both take him to bed - in our bed - and we did.

It's rare that Owen gets to be the center of attention. It was a pretty special evening. Even though it would have been cool to see Indiana Jones again.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (2)

Haiku For Monday #454

Okay, who thought this
Monday thing was a winner?
It sucks, okay, sucks?

Posted by Chris at 7:05 AM

June 7, 2013

The Weeklies #256

The Weekly Beer. Boulevard Brewing Company's Single-Wide IPA.

The Weekly Sport. Swim team has begun, baseball is ending. There's a rather unfortunate overlap between the two this weekend which will make Saturday rather interesting but aside from that summer sports are cool.

The Weekly Inevitability. I feel really, really bad for Paris Jackson. How can a kid with that life be expected to grow up normally?

The Weekly Read. Ben Winters' The Last Policeman was a total letdown. It should have been so much better. I mean, check out the premise. An asteroid is headed towards earth and everyone's going to die. Civil servants stop serving civilly and only a few police are left to do the policing. The Last Policeman focuses on one such person - Detective Hank Palace. It sounds brilliant, right? It's not apocalyptic at all. The asteroid doesn't take center stage. There aren't tales of looting and pillaging. This novel, at its very core, is a mystery novel. It's just a shame the mystery is so damn boring. By the end of the novel, I really didn't care about its resolution and I wished that Winters had lived up to the potential of an awesome concept.

The Weekly Wishful Thinking. Apparently Justin Bieber just signed up to head into outer space on Virgin Galactic. Anyone else hope he just kinda stays up there?

The Weekly Hated Cartoon Character. If a recent Facebook post of mine is any indication it's a tie between Caillou and Scrappy-Doo. Both are animated asshats. I'd actually like to see a cage match between the two.

The Weekly Vocabulary Words. My daughter walked in on us while watching Game Of Thrones. One particularly animated conversation involved almost every dirty word imaginable. Luckily for us she was watching more than listening. Whew.

The Weekly Question. What's worse - the administration targeting reporters, pulling your phone and internet records or going after right wing groups via the IRS?

Posted by Chris at 8:18 AM | Comments (3)

June 6, 2013

Two Little Thumbs Up?

Mia is attending her first sleepover this weekend. This is monumental. Not for Mia, who's totally chill about it, but for Owen who will be alone in the house with Beth and I for a night. He's pumped. He has it all planned out. Apparently we're going to Red Lobster and then watching a grown up movie.

This is a thing with Owen. He desperately wants to be old enough to watch a grown up movie with mom and dad. And while we've watched the Star Wars series on and endless loop for the last two years, I don't think that's going to cut it anymore. I'm not talking Texas Chainsaw Massacre XXIX: The Whackening or Human Centipede. Owen's lobbying for Lord Of The Rings. I've got my sights set on The Three Amigos. I suspect we'll land somewhere in between. Of course this is the kid who still talks about Christmas where I let him watch the last 10 minutes of The Bishop's Wife starring Cary Grant.

So, if you had to land on a supposedly grown up movie you'd share with your kid, what would it be?

Posted by Chris at 7:24 AM | Comments (10)

June 5, 2013

Parenting Pass or Fail?

Owen - my five year old - can now open a bottle of beer for me. This is either the awesomest thing ever or I am the worst parent alive. I'm really torn.

Posted by Chris at 7:35 AM | Comments (3)

June 4, 2013

Soliloquy Guy

Everyone's got a talent. This weekend, for example, I saw an incredibly tall woman riding a unicycle uphill while carrying on a conversation with a person walking along beside her. I watched a really talented band play in the 90+ degree heat without passing out. They even managed to pull off a not-shitty cover of Led Zeppelin's Rock And Roll (and everyone knows that cover versions of that song are almost always shitty). And then there's Soliloquy Guy.

The grocery store we most frequent is a store I've been going into since I was in high school. It's about two minutes from our house and after about five trips you pretty much know everyone who works there. My favorite is Soliloquy Guy. I wandered in there the other day to pick up a random collection of stuff I'd totally forgotten in my previous trips that week. Once I'd found all the stuff, I popped it on the belt and stood face to face with one of the few human beings I've ever encountered who truly needs no interaction to carry on a perfectly good conversation.

As best I can remember, this is exactly how the conversation went.

SG: Hello, sir. Did you find everything you were looking for? Oh, hey, it's you. How's it going, man? Yeah, me, I'm just waiting for 5:30. Been waiting all day. Don't care that it's all rainy out and stuff because I'm taking my girlfriend out on a date. I'm thinking a really nice restaurant, you know? I'm just going to drop my whole paycheck on her because she's totally worth it. Unless you want to pay for it. Ha, man, no I don't expect you to pay for it but where should we go? I was thinking Outback, you know, with those big-ass onions? If she likes it I'll tell her it was your idea. Nah, I'll take credit for it, no offense. Hey, I love Triscuits too. Ever notice Triscuits look like a little blanket the way they weave that wheat or whatever together. No Triscuits at Outback, just those big-ass onions and steak though you can look at me an tell I don't need any steak but my girlfriend doesn't care and that's why I'm taking her out tonight and dropping my whole paycheck. Beer. Yeah, hold on a sec. I'm not 21 so I've gotta get my manager over here to scan this, okay? He better get over here soon. I mean, I got to get you on your way and, look at the clock, it's almost 5:30. I got a girl, an onion and a steak waiting for me. You, girl, steak, onion, all important stuff, man. Oh, okay, just swipe your card and sign there and you're good. You have a good one, man.

Me: You too.

Posted by Chris at 7:45 AM | Comments (4)

June 3, 2013

Baked Not Fried

Summer is a wonderful thing.

It's early in the season but we've already settled into the weekend routine of going out and doing something in the morning and spending the balance of the day at the pool.

If you live on the East Coast, you know that Memorial Day - the unofficial summer kick off - sucked. It was about 50 degrees, and windy. Pools were freezing. My son swam but turned blue after about two minutes. Such is the life of Zero Percent Body Fat Boy. This weekend, though, this was more like it.

We spent the bulk of Saturday baking in the sun at a local carnival, riding rides, eating, watching a decent string of bands perform. It was hot and sweaty and absolutely insane but a great amount of fun the kids wait for all year. We cooled our heels (literally) at the neighborhood pool for three hours in the afternoon then went out for dinner. The result was a dehydrated, sunburned and exhausted family of four. Just how a summer Saturday is supposed to turn out.

Sunday was more chill, based on the weather. Errands, lunch out, dinner with our extended family. Pretty awesome. In between we managed to squeeze in a marathon of Game of Thrones and How I Met Your Mother. Sleep was in there somewhere (but not much of it).

All-in-all, a perfect summer weekend.

Posted by Chris at 8:30 AM | Comments (1)

Haiku For Monday #453

Coffee? Check. Rain? Check.
Sick kid with a fever? Check.
Yep. It's a Monday.

Posted by Chris at 8:27 AM