May 31, 2006

Lions, Tigers, Bears...Oh My!

Last night wasn't overly successful but it was certainly better than the previous evening. Sure, there was screaming but a hell of a lot less of it. If nothing else, it was entertaining. I had some weird-ass dreams.

I was trapped in the Houston airport because of a traffic accident on the runway. Seriously. An airplane rear-ended a moving van on takeoff. Somehow we (for I was joined by rogue employee from the airport's Mrs. Field's franchise) broke out and ended up climbing to the ancient Mexican fortress deep in the heart of old-town Houston - the Enconida. Those of you who live in Houston, as I once did, or have visited Houston are probably scratching your heads wondering what the hell I'm talking about. I am too. As far as I know, such a thing doesn't exist. I don't even know what enconida means, so, sorry if its dirty or offensive. We climbed, met people, had a nice little party then returned to the airport and flew to Fiji where we led an armed insurrection, took over the island and made it our kingdom. Sun, fruity drinks and cookies for everyone!

Today - having achieved success at the pool, we're trying the zoo. I, for one, hope to see a liger. It's pretty much my favorite animal. Wish us luck...and have a fantastic hump day!

Posted by Chris at 07:29 AM | Comments (31)

May 30, 2006

Swimming (Zoom Zoom)

This morning, the three of us hit the pool. It was going to go one of two ways - either Mia would be ecstatic or she'd throw a fit and we'd be out of there in under five minutes. Luckily for all of us, she chose option A.

We had a great time - Mia seemed to like the extraordinarily large outdoor bathtub. Beth and I had a good time too, especially when we heard one of the other kid's names - Zoom. I shit you not. This seemingly intelligent woman named her kid Zoom. See that beach ball in the background of the middle picture? It's even got the kid's name written on it.

So...swimming? Check! Worst name ever? Check. Tomorrow? The zoo!

(Oh, by the way, for those of you who might have noticed, yes, I do believe I look as though I have the body of a 50 year old dude complete with saggy man-boobs in that picture. And I'm not happy about it. Gah. I hate getting older but I guess it's preferable to the alternative.)

Posted by Chris at 08:18 PM | Comments (35)

Leeches, Hyenas and Teeth

Oh, hi there. Excuse the yawning, 'kay? It's not you. You're fabulous and exciting people but last night? It was hell. More accurately, parts of it were hell. Like the part between 9:30 and midnight. There was screaming - lots of it - and from the sound of the screams emanating from Mia's bedroom, we were forced to guess that one of several things was responsible.

1. Leeches. Giant, bionic blood-sucking leeches
2. Repeated exposure to the Billy Ray Cyrus hit Achy Breaky Heart
3. A battle with Satan
4. Gas, the likes of which could power the Hindenburg (oh the humanity!)
5. Forced viewing of Battlefield Earth
6. Wild hyenas gnawing at various appendages
7. Spontaneous stand-up comedy routine by Jerry Lewis
8. Teeth

While we're open to all possibilities, we're thinking it was probably teeth. Regardless, for two and a half hours it was wall-to-wall screaming. She's so cute, we'll let it slide. But still...that pretty much sucked.

Today, Official Vacation Day 1, we're going to hit the pool. Wish us luck. This could be, uh, interesting. And if you have any ideas for keeping leeches, hyenas and Jerry Lewis at bay, let me know. Just in case it wasn't that teeth thing.

Posted by Chris at 08:10 AM | Comments (40)

May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Mia and I are sitting here having breakfast. I'm eating my cereal and drinking my coffee while Mia stares up at me shoving Cheerios into her mouth, smiling the whole time. It's pretty much the most perfect morning ever, and will be until tomorrow rolls around at which time I'm sure I'll find something even better, even cuter to move it into the top slot. But it's the kind of morning lots of men and women are missing right now, or will always miss, because they're currently serving our country.

From my point of view, violence is rarely the answer. War is a terrible, terrible thing to be avoided at all costs. The decisions to go to war are political ones. Right or wrong, it's the folks in the military who are charged to carry those out. For them, we must be eternally grateful. And I am.

We can hope a lot of things - hope that decisions to put people in harm's way aren't taken lightly, are justified by facts instead of hunches, by proof instead of rhetoric. Hope that we use those forces wisely, to prevent genocide and other truly horriffic crimes against innocent people instead of merely protecting oil or catering to those who provide it. Hope that force is used only to promote the greater good of all, instead of revenge for the few.

More than anything, I think we need to recognize the difference between the people making the decisions and those whose job it is to carry those decisions out. One group has a choice, the other doesn't. Were you to ask any solider what his or her primary job was, the answer would be simple - to serve our country. Not the whims of one idiotic Texan and his merry band of fools and yes-men, but the country. You and I. The sacrifices they make each and every day are worthy of - demand, actually - our support.

Posted by Chris at 08:28 AM | Comments (23)

Haiku For Monday #132

Taking the week off!
From work, that is. Not blogging.
But expect delays.

Posted by Chris at 07:22 AM | Comments (3)

May 28, 2006

Self-Portrait (With Mia and Dubya)

Self Portrait With Mia

For those of you playing at home, yes, that is a picture of Dubya on my shirt. Don't worry, I haven't converted to the Dark Side. It's one of my favorite shirts in the whole wide world. Underneath Dubya are the words "American Psycho". I enjoy the stares I get wearing it. Better are the smiles, nods, thumbs up and handshakes I've received.

...more at flickr, as always...

Posted by Chris at 09:53 AM | Comments (30)

May 27, 2006

Will. Not. Die.

It's almost gone...almost.

Posted by Chris at 09:57 AM | Comments (23)

May 26, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Guilty, Bitch

Yesterday, Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were, essentially, handed their own asses on two great big silver platters of justice.

from the Associated Press
Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were convicted of conspiracy and fraud Thursday by a federal jury that laid blame for one of the biggest business scandals in U.S. history squarely on Enron Corp.'s two former top executives.

Jurors found that the once-wealthy and powerful corporate chiefs repeatedly lied to cover up accounting tricks and business failures that led to its 2001 demise. The collapse wiped out more than $60 billion in market value, almost $2.1 billion in pension plans and 5,600 jobs.

Lay was convicted on all six counts of conspiracy, securities and wire fraud against him in the corporate trial and all four in the personal banking trial. Former Chief Executive Skilling was convicted on 19 of the 28 counts in the corporate trial, including one count of insider trading, and acquitted on the remaining nine.

Lake set sentencing for Sept. 11. The charges against Lay, who is 64, carry a maximum penalty in prison of 45 years for the corporate trial and 120 years in the personal banking trial. The charges against Skilling, 52, carry a maximum penalty of 185 years in prison.

"I firmly believe I'm innocent of the charges against me," Lay said following the hearing. "We believe that God in fact is in control and indeed he does work all things for good for those who love the lord."

Unless God got a cut of that $62 million, Ken, I'd personally expect him to be mightily pissed.

Look, I don't think this requires a hell of a lot of elucidation. These dudes ripped off a lot of people and, possibly worse, cheated over 5,000 people out of their jobs. There are few things less tolerable to me than greedy people like Ken and Jeff undercutting people's livelihoods like this.

I'd be quaking in my expensive leather boots guys. You're being sentenced on September 11th. That can't be good.

And of course...the very latest hickey update...

Posted by Chris at 06:55 AM | Comments (46)

May 25, 2006

Champagne For Everyone!

You and I, we've had this conversation before. The one about the White Trash Neighbors (WTN), remember? I bring it back up because I, on my very own, added a nice new wrinkle, realized a fundamental truth then heard some related news that, literally (and I use the word "literally" uh literally), made me dance around the office.

You see, last night we gave Mia a bath and then took her to her room to get ready for bed. Her room is on the front of the house and is well within shouting (and honking) distance of the WTNs. And once again, instead of actually communicating with one another, they started honking their car horn to urge the remaining WTNers out of the house, into the car and off to whatever WT hangout they frequent on a Wednesday night. It was a nice night. Our windows were open. I didn't want to hear the damn car horn.

"Oh great. More honking. The mating call of White Trash," I said to Beth. It was then that I got 31 flavors of fed up. "STOP!" I yelled out the window. I wasn't at all visible so I giggled when White Trash Wife (WTW) shouted, "I know you weren't talking to us" out her car window. They eventually pulled out, I glanced out the window and was met by the WTNs staring me down as they pulled away.

It was then that I became absolutely 100% sure beyond even the most unreasonable doubt that these people were completely demented. That there was no use whatsoever in trying to deal with them because they are crazy fucks who have absolutely no clue about anything. So, being me, I agonized about this shit the entire night. All night. I didn't get much sleep. I expected to walk out the front door and find my car tires slashed. My mind wandered away with me, and I began thinking of the horrible ways in which they were harassing my wife and daughter while I was stuck here at work. Then I got a call from Beth.

It seems that, when she arrived home from errands this morning, Beth discovered a box containing a toy suitable for an infant. There was no note but, a few minutes later, White Trash Daughter came over with a note from WTW hoping that Mia could get some use out of it. Since they were moving. And didn't want to take it with them.

Me: You're shitting me.
Beth: No. They're moving.
Me: You're shitting me.
Beth: No. They're moving. Isn't it great?
Me: You're shitting me.
Beth: Snap out of it. They're moving!
Me: I think I might have #3ed myself.

People, today is a good day. Sure, I'm not breaking out the champagne until those dickweeds pull out of the neighborhood with their moving truck full of wifebeaters and porkrinds but damnit if this doesn't make me feel good. Now, I don't want to jinx this so cross your fingers and think good thoughts. And let me hear a big "FUCK YEAH!"

Posted by Chris at 12:16 PM | Comments (76)

The Irritated Guest

A very strange thing just happened. I was sitting here, sipping my morning coffee while trying to come up with this morning's entry. Then this odd, out-of-body feeling hit me. My arms grew all tingly and I began feeling as though gravity had given up on me. I must have passed out because, before I understood what was happening, I realized that ten unaccounted for minutes had passed. Stranger is the fact that I'd apparently written a complete entry during that time. Rather someone or something had. Take a look for yourselves.

What the fuck are you looking at? Just because I'm the strong, silent type, handsome, round and easily recognizable, doesn't give you the right to stare. Nah, I'll give you something to stare at.

Here's the deal. Me and my kind? We're totally underrated. Kinda like a freak show carny. Remember the Incredible Two Foot Tall Man or Bearded Lady? Like that. You stare a lot but there's no respect. So pardon my attitude. But I'm hacked the fuck off. All this staring yet no acknowledgement that I even exist. I'm hurt. Makes a guy angry.

It could be worse - I could be a zit. Anyone can get one of those, whether you're some old broken-down bastard hunched over a walker dreaming of the days when you could take a leak without sitting down or some oily-faced young punk sporting more hair on his big toe than his balls. Zits aren't picky yet they think they've got a lock on the whole skin thing. Like we're just intruders on their turf. You want a war? I say, bring it bitches. There were a lot of dinosaurs back in the day too, but the joke's on them now, isn't it?

Of course, we're not as sexy as a big skin lesion. You know, something you could get as a side-effect from a night of pure unrestrained, rampant sex with a second rate hooker in a third world country? Some guys get all the luck. Not this bastard here. Nah. He ended up with me. And I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.

What I got is staying power. White on rice, baby. Stink on a corpse. Charlie Sheen on, well, damn near anything illegal. Tan on George Hamilton. You get the point. I ain't budging.

That's right, folks - I've got one mean and obviously irritated hickey.

Posted by Chris at 07:17 AM | Comments (45)

May 24, 2006

Music You Should Own

I asked and you spoke up. One of the things you guys mentioned was that I don't talk about music as much as you'd expect I should or could. Given the thousands of albums I own, I'd say you're right. So, in what I hope to make a semi-regular feature (but will probably forget about next week), here are some albums you shouldn't live without.

stills.feathers.jpgThe Stills: Without Feathers
Couple years back, The Stills released Logic Will Break Your Heart which was widely praised in what really became the second coming of new wave. Years pass. Band members sufficiently rotated, they're back. With a completely different sound. I'll be the first to admit I've never heard their debut but I'm sold on Without Feathers. Imagine what Coldplay would sound like if they let their roots show a little. British Invasion-style rock abounds, forming a fantastic, energetic sound without losing any edge. Mia and I bounced around to The Mountain and Helicopters last night. She loved it. And frankly that's the only endorsement I need.

weepies.say.jpgThe Weepies: Say I Am You
Two songs - The World Spins Madly On and Nobody Knows Me At All - justify the entire purchase price of this album. After that, you're in bonus territory. Don't get me wrong. The bonuses are good. Through the course of these 13 songs, there's no rocking but neither is the mood whispy enough to put you to sleep. The songs are, instead, thoughtful, well-delivered and lyrically articulate.

rhcp.stadium.jpgI'll say right here and now that I've never liked the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I've never bought into their white boy funk routine and, worse, I always thought their radio-friendly ballads were nothing but schlock delivered by a singer who couldn't carry a tune. So why oh why would I pick up their latest, a double album no less? Because I was curious. And damnit, what a pay off. Stadium Arcadium is, almost without exception, fantastic. There's a lot to listen to - 120 minutes, to be exact. Some songs could have been left off the album...but only a scant few of the 28 songs fail to connect or work. There is, without doubt, something for everyone here. Most impressive is John Frusciante's guitar work. Why has it taken me so long to discover this guy? His guitar playing is magical, adding another dimension to what I had assumed was just a tired old band.

Secret Machines: Ten Silver Drops
Secret Machines have never hidden their influences. They make music that sounds as if it's the product of a threeway sex romp between Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Flaming Lips. Sure, it sounds odd but on Ten Silver Drops it's oddly beautiful. The band sports a stripped down sound. Drums are simple but insanely loud in the mix, complimented by the plodding basslines. Guitar work is handled deftly and and the vocals emerge from the mix as if from a dream. As I said, its a simple, stripped-down sound but there's something at once classic and contemporary about the feel as well as something that definitely gives off an 80's vibe that I can't quite put my finger on. Download "Alone, Jealous and Stoned" for a taste test. If it doesn't impress the crap out of you or earworm its way into your subconscious, forget about it. But the album is addictive, stylish and tender.

Oh, and just so you're in the loop...

Posted by Chris at 07:14 AM | Comments (39)

May 23, 2006

So Random It's Painful

Some evenings, I try and get a head start on the next day's post. I have an idea so I write it down. Maybe I write around it a little bit. I need all the help I can get because, frankly, I usually get up and get in early. Last night? I worked. Yes, I had work to do so once Mia went to bed, I was doing that work thing until 9:30 or so. This is the price you pay for a week off. So, of course, I didn't have time to brainstorm. Consequently, this morning? I've got nothing. I mean, my head is actually empty. I'm afraid you're just going to have to put up with my random Tuesday morning thoughts. And a meme.

First, for those of you who really dug the hickey look, I'm happy to report that it's still enjoying the good life on my forehead.

I know. Hot, right? I wore good ass pants (yeah, guys have them too, okay?) to distract people from my head. I'm not sure how successful that will be since I spend the majority of the day sitting on said ass. But it's worth a shot, right?

Some time ago, I was tagged by the insanely hilarious Tink (you should totally go visit her because she's funny as all hell). Lest she think I'm an incredibly unresponsive asshole (albeit one with a fashionable dot on his forehead and great ass pants), here's the meme money shot.
I AM a father, a husband, a flaming liberal, wannabe rockstar, music junkie, voracious reader and freak magnet.
I WANT to buy the world a Coke.
I WISH I was independently wealthy so I could spend more time at home with my kid while simultaneously avoiding all the things that accompany sudden wealth and fame, like a bad coke habit and conversion to Scientology.
I MISS Callie and Pixel, now residing in kitty heaven.
I HEAR voices...telling me to do subscribe to magazines from Publisher's Clearinghouse. Go away! Go away, Ed McMahon and Dick Clark!
I WONDER what would happen if animals could really start talking. I bet the penguins would talk our ears off.
I REGRET not getting the full three gallon bucket of coffee instead of the measly one-gallon bucket I picked up this morning.
I AM NOT Aretha Franklin disguised as a little white man.
I DANCE in my kitchen and frequently injur myself doing so.
I AM NOT ALWAYS sane. This shouldn't be a shock.
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS rude gestures with startling frequency. Eat your heart out Justice Scalia.
I WRITE in several different styles of handwriting depending on my mood. I'm sure this a trait frequently displayed by serial killers...or people who hear voices that sound like Ed McMahon or Dick Clark.
I CONFUSE right and left. I'm 33 years old yet I still fuck that up.
I NEED an exact clone of myself to be a stand-in for me at work while I nap under my desk.
I SHOULD really get on that clone thing because that would be killer. Unless, of course, my wife liked my clone better. That would just suck. I'd be sad.
I START laughing and can't stop.
I FINISH laughing and feel like I'm going to hurl. But I don't. Funny shouldn't end with vomiting. Sucks the funny right out of whatever it was you were laughing about.
I TAG anyone who needs an excuse for content or frequently hears the voices of Ed McMahon and Dick Clark.

One more thing. To avoid future trainwrecks such as this fine post, help me help you. What would you like to see here? What questions haven't I answered? What portions of my life haven't I provided you a glimpse of? Consider this your virtual suggestion box.

Posted by Chris at 07:39 AM | Comments (56)

May 22, 2006

Another In A Long String Of Weekend Recaps

I worked from home on Friday, which gave me the chance to ease into the weekend...not to mention working in my PJs. We had a nice Friday night and actually watched a movie. You don't understand. This is maybe the third actual movie we've watched in the last ten months. And the last one was just last week. In case you're wondering, it was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Azkabani Prisoners' Chamber Pots. Or something. They all run together for me.

Saturday? Decidedly less relaxed but for very good reasons. Playing with Mia is both given and obligatory as was sprucing up the house due to impending company. Yes, not only did we watch a movie this weekend but, in a truly monumental event worthy of a made-for-television movie, we had people over for dinner who were not related to us! Corinne, her husband Forrest and incredibly adorable son Shepherd came over for dinner. Mia dug hanging out with the baby (and by hanging out I mean trying to slap him about the head and feast on his nose) and Beth and I appreciated talking to real live adults. It was totally cool and not at all awkward for a meeting of "Internet people." Of course, after they left, the first thing I told Beth was, "god, I hope they didn't think we were freaks." "Well," Beth replied, "there's not a damn thing we can do about that now." Fingers crossed!

Sunday started early and ended somewhat late. Later for Beth who was up half the night with a screaming baby (I predict tooth number eight). We managed to sneak a nice walk in in the morning before the clouds invaded. I finally got a chance to try our little baby backpack thingy which is probably why I can walk about as well as Barbaro this morning. The combination of being a little out of shape and a 23 pound baby on your back? Uh...ouch! The evening ended with bathtime. There was splashing and suction cup-laden bath toys stuck to daddy's head. Which caused a little incident...

Her: You're a good dad.
Me: Thanks. But why, specifically.
Her: The lengths you go to to entertain Mia.
Me: Yeah, well, it's not like I intentionally threw myself under the bus on this one. Not like I saw this coming.
Her: True. But you'd have done it anyway.
Me: Yeah, probably. So, how bad is it?
Her: Let me put it this way - you want some makeup?
Me: Crap. Thanks, but I'll pass.

See, one of the suction cups left a little big-ass mark. Think anyone will notice?


Posted by Chris at 07:55 AM | Comments (53)

Haiku For Monday #131

One week left before
a week-long vacation - yay!
This week will be long.

Posted by Chris at 07:07 AM | Comments (8)

May 20, 2006

The Saturday Routine

On most Saturday mornings - and this was no exception - I wake up with Mia, let Beth sleep and we play for a while. Eventually, we're all up and two-thirds of us are ready for coffee.

I think we've stumbled across the reason why newspaper circulations are steadily declining. Bill O'Reilly claims that they're tools of the liberal media and people are tired of them. Of course, Bill is a tool himself, in more ways than one, so I don't buy into his reasoning. Instead, I think the Internet is just easier. It's that simple.

Now, anyone know anything that can replace vacuuming? Or cleaning the kitchen? Because guess what I have to do now...

Posted by Chris at 12:18 PM | Comments (22)

May 19, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Can't Buy Me Love

Today I bring you two very obvious stories of heartache and woe. I just couldn't decide which was worse.

Oops, She Did It Again

Front-page photographs in Tuesday's New York Post and New York Daily News depict the 24-year-old pregnant pop star driving her convertible Mini Cooper with 8-month-old son Sean Preston in the back, sitting in a car seat facing forward. The photos — in which Spears also sports hair curlers — have sparked debate over whether the singer violated the California vehicle code. In February, authorities visited Spears' home after photos showed her driving in a car with the baby on her lap, rather than in a safety seat as required by law. Spears later apologized, saying she held the boy because of an encounter with paparazzi.

Is there any doubt that Britney is now the poster-child for stupid celebrities who should not reproduce? I mean, this shocks no one, right? Please tell me none of your are surprised. I've always thought that people should be given tests prior to attempting to have a child. I shall now use this as my argument. Can you imagine all the therapy this kid is going to have to have?

She Loves You...Yeah, Yeah, Uh-huh...

Former Beatle Paul McCartney could lose up to a quarter of his estimated $1.56-billion fortune after separating from his second wife Heather Mills, legal experts said on Thursday. That would equate to roughly $1.9 million for every week of their short-lived four-year marriage. McCartney, 63, and former model Mills, 38, announced their separation on Wednesday, blaming media intrusion for the collapse of one of the most high profile showbusiness marriages. Lawyers believe the divorce would never be allowed to degenerate into a messy court case but they said McCartney's decision not to seal a pre-nuptial deal could cost him dear in a private settlement.

Bottle of Just For Men hair coloring? Check
Little nip and tuck action? Check
Mind-boggling fortune? Right-oh
Prenup? Oops!

When you're worth over $1.5 billion dollars, how is it possible you don't have a prenup? Love, trust, faith and all that shit but that's billion with a capital b. Paul, you've written some great music and you're a talented guy but you're also a colossal dumbass. You've got a few hard days' nights ahead of you, day tripper. She's got her ticket to ride and she's leaving home, but perhaps you can work it out. Tomorrow never knows...

Now I leave it up to you...who have I missed this week?

Posted by Chris at 06:47 AM | Comments (49)

May 18, 2006

Break(fast)ing Up

It's true. Several months ago, a small, seemingly benign crack appeared in the windshield of our love. Then it began to spread like hookers in a bad neighborhood. Finally, it's on the verge of transforming that windshield into purposeless shards of glass, exposing me to the elements, leaving me with windblown hair and flies in my teeth. Dunkin Donuts, I can quit you!

It all began on a cold winter day when the store changed ownership. That's when the big chill set in. But I held onto the hope that our love could remain intact. Flourish even, in the face of such a change. But the new owner? Dismissive, cold, distant. The owner tries to charm me with superficial small-talk about the weather. Sure, maybe there's a free donut or two on occasion but the staff is different. They no longer employ local high school kids on weekends. Sure, Crazy Beatles-Loving Guy is gone, along with his inability to do simple math and count change, so that's something. But still. The donuts are the same, the coffee slightly better, but prices have gone up. Unless they learn some new freaky donut moves, I'm going to have to break it off.

Dunkin Donuts, unless you can make more of an effort, it's over. I've really wanted to stick it out, make it work. But my eyes are starting to wander. There's this other place on the corner, from the West coast, that I'm intrigued by. Such full, abundant muffins. So tall, dark and venti.

Posted by Chris at 07:30 AM | Comments (52)

May 17, 2006

Remember Who You Wanted To Become

When MP3s are ripped, little segments from this gigantic, broad spectrum of sounds are removed. They're small. You'd probably never notice they were missing if someone hadn't told you. Now that you do, you still won't. Maybe a teensy bit of the treble is weeded out. Or a little bit of bass. These pieces are removed not because they're unwanted, but because they take up space. They're not efficient. And the one advantage about MP3s is their size.

As I was driving home yesterday, I saw a bumper sticker that made this whole thing I've been thinking about come together, forced this lame analogy. Remember Who You Wanted To Become, it said.

We all start off full of promise and potential, without boundaries or, at least, not knowing what those boundaries are. Gradually, though, like the sounds that come together to form music, small, almost insignificant frequencies are stripped away. Whether by necessity or age or expectation, we lose a little of our speed, power, agility, depth. When we're in elementary school, we learn a little about everything. Through secondary school, we continue to digest large chunks of information about the world around us, history, science and our languages. But then we reach a point at which specialization is not only encouraged but required. In college, we no longer focus on history but the history of a defined region or culture. We no longer focus on English but a minute period from the vast history of the language or a form it took. Education is only one example. When we enter adulthood we're expected to become serious, focus on our jobs (further specialization), raise a family. Our personalities are expected to take a back seat to all this Adult Responsibility.

We cross the line, at some point, between generalists and specialists and no one ever gave us the choice. And you know what I say? Fuck society and its expectations. Remember who you wanted to become.

When you go home, jump on the bed. I once got a concussion from jumping on the bed. I was in college. And I wasn't even drunk. I'm damn proud of it. Screw doing the dishes tonight. Watch a bad movie or roll around on the floor with your kids. Put their clothes on your head. Don't hide your farts; laugh about them. Tell a really lame joke. Have Cheez Whiz for dinner. Eat your dessert first. Crank some music and dance around the living room. Make a crank call. What ever you do, if only for a few minutes, avoid being the person society's trying to transform you into. Be yourself. Remember who you wanted to become.

Posted by Chris at 07:15 AM | Comments (60)

May 16, 2006

Inappropriate Poopage


Look, I hate to spoil the mood I tried to set yesterday but I have a question. This inquiry is three-fold:

Who - in the name of all that is good and holy, like Ed McMahon, caramel apples and those pincher thingies that help you snag something really high - takes a dump in a urinal? And for god's sake why? WTF?

Sadly, this isn't theoretical. It's not a visionary flight of fancy or a, albeit disturbed, musing about the insanely frightening bathroom habits of others. No, were you to present yourselves before me right now, I could easily point you in the right direction and allow you, like Gil Grissom, to follow the evidence.

So why? Why has a crazy, deranged person fouled a urinal (not a stretch, I understand) when a more appropriate alternative existed less than two feet away? Why not go ahead and crap on the floor? It would be easier. I'm not going to get into the logistics but someone really had to make an effort to score a birdy in that particular hole.

Sometimes I feel like I work in a fucking frat house.

Posted by Chris at 07:03 AM | Comments (69)

May 15, 2006

Yet Another Weekend Recap

Before I talk about the weekend - which I will because I'm incredibly predictable without the requisite gallon of coffee and that's what I always seem to do on Mondays - allow me to wish all you mothers out there a very happy Mother's Day. Over the last ten months, I've developed a new-found respect for you guys, having watched Beth join the ranks of motherhood. It's a tough, the hardest gig in the world. So, I think everyday should be Mother's Day. You should get bonuses in real cash money handed out on at least weekly basis, fleets of chauffeur-driven limousines should be placed at your disposal, and even the top-shelf ice cream should miraculously lose all caloric content just for you.

Now, back to the weekend...

Friday nights are of little consequence in the Cactus-Fish household. As you might have gathered, our hands are somewhat full. Rarely do we make it out for a wild night of clubbing. Instead, we're both somewhat comatose by the time 8:00 rolls around. And after last week? A week in which I spent no longer than one hour straight in my office because of all the damn meetings? I was operating at the level of your typical lobotomized lab rat.

Saturday, however, was a different story. Mia and I got up early and let Beth sleep in. There was some hardcore playing to include games of Stand Up, Fall Down; The Kitchen 500 (in which contestants crawl laps around the kitchen's center island until, well, it gets really really boring or the contestants spot something shiny elsewhere in the house); and the ever-popular, Grab Daddy's Nose Really Hard And Make A Third Nostril. I don't recommend that last one. It smarts. Once Beth was up, I grabbed my camera and headed out to take some pictures of a newly constructed church I really like. Then it was back home to play some more (avoiding that nostril game), edit some pictures and just hang out with Mia.

Sunday, Mother's Day, found us hosting a brunch for our families. There was food, so much, in fact, that I brought what was left for the office vultures to tear apart this morning. Overall, it was a great time and Mia was incredibly social and lots of fun. Afterwards - in an effort to keep ourselves awake - we went out, got Mia some toys and played the rest of the day.

I did a lot of hanging out with Mia this weekend, much more than I get the chance to during the week. Mia is, without a doubt, one of the coolest people I know. And I have this amazing chance to watch her grow up and play a big role in that process. I often complain that I'm tired, overworked, depressed, annoyed or generally pissed off at the world but, more than anything else, I'm lucky. Lucky to have this wonderful little girl who looks up at me and smiles whenever I walk into a room. Lucky to have Beth, who is a fantastic wife and a stellar mother. And lucky to have my own mom who, if I do say so myself, didn't do too bad a job with me.

Posted by Chris at 07:21 AM | Comments (27)

Haiku For Monday #130

A Monday monsoon.
Like streets, slippery brain. Thoughts
slide into gutter.

Posted by Chris at 06:54 AM | Comments (4)

May 13, 2006

Subject: The Church

I woke up this morning, got Mia up at the appointed hour, and we played, letting Beth sleep for a while. It was a gorgeous morning, just the kind I was hoping for since I wanted to head out with my camera for a bit.

I don't have a religious bone in my body but I like cool buildings. And I like this church. It's very modern yet, in parts, quite traditional. It turned out to be a perfect subject for my first, belated outing with my new camera.

Check out the full set or the slideshow.

Posted by Chris at 04:11 PM | Comments (21)

May 12, 2006

Neil Young: Living With War

young.war.jpgNot too long ago - in April, as a matter of fact - Neil Young surprised his record company by announcing he'd gathered a choir and some musicians together and recorded a new album worth of songs. In two weeks. Without missing a beat, Reprise, his record company, agreed to release it. Living With War hit shelves this past Tuesday.

Neil Young's discography is something of a mixed bag. His pseudo-country releases drive me nuts (as in, I can't stand them). His more aggressive albums usually leave me cold. His voice almost always sucks. Yet, there's something I really like about Neil Young. He has written truly incredible songs, proved himself to be a maverick, and supported some amazing causes. And his voice, well, there's just something about it that sounds so sincere. Young is nothing if not sincere here.

Be forewarned. Living With War breaks no new musical ground. It was recorded quickly and it shows. The production is basic. The musicianship, while relatively strong, is raw and unrefined. There are a few moments when a musician or producer might have stopped, backed up the tape and taken a second shot. But Living With War isn't really about the music, it's about the message. Young is pissed and with song titles like Shock And Awe, Lookin' For A Leader, and Let's Impeach The President, the reasons should be pretty clear. You can read the lyrics online if you have any doubts. Rest assured, however, that the price of the album is justified by Young's rendition of America The Beautiful, complete with backing by a 100-member choir.

Living With War is a modern-day musical protest brought to you by one of rock's most influential, and unique, voices. The strength of the music doesn't match the venom of the message but Young's heart is in the right place. Should you buy it? If you're a fan, sure. If you support his point of view, definitely. And how great would it be, what kind of message would it send, if this album charted?

Posted by Chris at 07:37 PM | Comments (16)

Schadenfreude Friday: Smoke, Mirrors and Low IQs

This week, I just have to take a shot at the obvious.

From the Associated Press...
David Blaine emerged weak and wrinkly from a week spent submerged within an 8-foot snow globe-like tank -- but without a world record for holding his breath.

Rescue divers jumped into the tank Monday and hauled up the stunt artist as he struggled to break the record of 8 minutes, 58 seconds. Blaine held his breath for 7:08, but after spending some 177 hours under water.

After being given oxygen, Blaine, 33, addressed the large crowd that had gathered around the tank on the plaza of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

"I am humbled so much by the support of everyone from New York City and from all over the world," Blaine said. "This was a very difficult week, but you all made it fly by with your strong support and your energy."

The challenge had taken a toll on the magician's body, including liver damage, pins and needles in his feet and hands, some loss of sensation and rashes all over his body, said Dr. Murat Gunel, who heads Blaine's medical team and is associate professor of neurosurgery at Yale University School of Medicine.

Blaine started training in December, with some help from Navy SEALS. He lost 50 pounds so his body would require less oxygen. The water temperature was regulated to help keep his core temperature near 98.6 degrees, and he ate and relieved himself by tubes. He remained tethered to an oxygen tube.

Why do I have a problem with this? Why do I delight in Blaine's failure? Because it was stupid, not to put too fine a point on it.

You see, there's a difference between magic and, well, stupidity. Spending a week in a giant "human aquarium" as he put it, then trying to hold your breath for eight or nine minutes is like me spending a month in a cabin with no Internet connection then, towards the end of the month, trying not to pee for a whole day. It has nothing to do with skill, talent or, especially, magic. It's just kinda lame. And not all that bright.

Previous stunts Blaine attempted included standing at the top of a pole for 35 hours, being buried in a coffin for a week, becoming the creamy center of a human ice cube for 61 hours and fasting for 44 days suspended in a box over the Themes. I'd argue that each and every one of us after receiving the requisite lobotomy could do the exact same things. No magic, skill, or intelligence required.

Dude, if you want to pull a great stunt, want to break out some magic on the world, how about disappearing guns in the inner city, feeding some kids or housing some homeless. Or making the White House disappear, preferably, along with the inhabitants.

Posted by Chris at 07:29 AM | Comments (57)

May 11, 2006

Bringing The Silly

And now, since the old neurons aren't firing so well this morning, on to the absurd.

I'm just taken a trip into my spam box (which sounds ditry but is actually the place all the incoming spam ends up). I love the senders' names. Take, for instance, Mr. Tart, Calisto Breese, America Casillas, Shelagh Bloyd, Savanah Daily, Unfairer H. Revenges, Osip Tremblay, Discommoded V. Ingestion, Modifiers D. Analyzers, Probable V. Kiddy, Chevron O. Scheme, Braided J. Predicament, Harmoniousness B. Lorgnette, Fornicating Q. Predecessors and my favorite, Parachutes R. Boycotted

Last night, we gave Mia a bath. This is great fun for all three of us, especially in light of what happened last time. Mia has this little fish that fills up with water. When you squeeze it, water shoots out the mouth. I squeezed the empty fish underwater.
Me: Oooh, fishy fart, fishy fart.
Beth: And daddy thinks farts are always funny.
Me: Yes he does. But not water farts.
Beth: Water farts? Why not?
Me: Farts in or around water smell ten times worse than dry farts.
Beth: What? Are you serious?
Me: You mean, you didnt' know that? I thought everyone knew that.

The following communication was believed to have originated with a rather odd home shopping channel viewer and was intercepted during transmission.
Dear [home shopping company],

I am watching the Breezies Intimates Collection and (although slightly dismayed as I expected to see inmates with whom I could correspond) I am loving what I'm seeing. I'm a chesty gal who's always in search of the perfect brassiere (and a nice, chisled inmate doing some time for non-violent offences). When I saw the Breezies Seamless Full Support Underwire Bra with UltimAir, my heart almost leapt from my heavily bosomed chest. What a perfect, novel solution packaged in the wonderful form of lacy underthings! I've found, however, that I'm unable to fully visualize the product on the mannequins your hosts relied upon. Therefore, I wholeheartedly suggest the use of live models, preferably in simulated, erotic situations. Perhaps there is a local coeducational correctional facility from which you may gather volunteers? Regardless, I do believe sales will be enhanced given such demonstrations, not to mention the partial nudity which, let's face it, always draws a crowd.

Thank you for your fine programming and even greater products.

Yours in Christ,
Ima Packinwood

Hello Ms. Packinwood,
Thank you for contacting [home shopping company].

I have forwarded your suggestion to the appropriate department. At [home shopping company], customer satisfaction is our top priority, and we always appreciate comments and ideas from our valued customers.

Thank you for contacting [home shopping company].

Kind Regards,

Dear Ms. Packinwood,

Thank you for contacting [home shopping company]. We always value feedback and suggestions from our home shopping audience. As you may expect, we're unable to implement every shopper's suggestions regardless of how hard we try. Your suggestion was interesting and I'll ensure it's addressed when planning similar presentations in the future. In the mean time, please accept an online coupon for use with you next shopping experience at [home shopping company].

Roger [Last Name]


Thank you for your reply and the coupon. You "sound" like a big, strong, strapping customer service representative. How do you look in frilly intimates?

Yours in Christ,
Ima Packinwood (Are You?)

Posted by Chris at 07:55 AM | Comments (28)

May 10, 2006

My List

Yesterday (it was only yesterday?), I asked you guys for your list of top five dinner guests, alive or dead. I guess it's only fair I provide you with mine.

1. Fred (Mr.) Rogers. That's how this whole thing started. When I was very young, I asked my mom if we could invite Mr. Rogers over for dinner. It was always something I'd have liked to do. The morning it was announced Mr. Rogers had died, my mom called me at work to tell me. She thought she should be the one to break it to me. And to tell me that we'd never have him over for dinner.

2. Peter Gabriel. The man is a genius and his slightly surreal way of looking at the world is remarkable, as is the way that world is reflected in his music.

3. Iain Banks. Many years ago, I read a book that changed how I viewed reading. It was called The Bridge. In it, Iain Banks created a bizarre, surreal world and, at the same time, an incredibly beautiful portrait of life. Banks' can write like few others. His range is amazing and his language is brilliant.

4. David Gilmour. The Pink Floyd singer and guitarist is truly my favorite guitarist. Gilmour's sound seems to radiate actual warmth. His technique and the sounds he manages to coax from his guitars are quite simply some of the most gorgeous sounds I've ever heard.

5. Harry Truman. While there are other, flashier presidents out there waving a little more political bling, I've always been fascinated with Truman. I guess, like most, I'm most curious over the decisions to drop the bombs on Japan.

And there you have it. Now, what should we have for dinner...

Posted by Chris at 07:22 PM | Comments (17)

Street Cred

I sometimes fear that I repeat myself here. If so, I hope things are as good the second (or third) time as they were the first.

When I was a kid, I knew my street like the proverbial back of my hand. First, I knew the neighbors, both the things I could prove and the things I suspected. I knew that the green house on the end was messy, inhabited by a four-person family who I rarely saw. I heard that the oldest son was crazy, evidenced by the rumor that he'd fired a shotgun shell with an icepick and a hammer. The family next to them had a cute daughter. She was the first girl I played doctor with. She and the rest of her family were chased out of their home one evening when a batch of copperhead snakes hatched in one of their air ducts. That was the rumor, anyway. Harold, our next door neighbor, divided his backyard in half, dedicating space to a beautiful, irrigated rose garden. He also had a mint-condition early 1960's VW Bug. I liked Harold and still think about him quite often. A few houses down was a guy who was building a small airplane in his garage. Across the street from him was a guy named Scott, who, at 17 became the role model for all the boys in the neighborhood. He drove a jacked-up Bronco. I wanted my first car to be a Bronco. Scott went of to college but returned too soon. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter when he accidentally killed a motorcyclist and severely injured the rider's girlfriend. Scott was never the same after that.

I'm not just talking about the people, though. I mean the street itself. Minor miracles of concrete, complete with pebbles, cracks, dimples in a composition as unique as a fingerprint. There was the long crack down the length of the street; the streets sloped from the high center point to prevent flooding and standing water. Then there were the curbs. When we moved in, there were no curbs. I guess yards just ended and the street began. I don't recall. I do remember that the arrival of the curbs, the pouring of the concrete, was big news in the neighborhood. Word that we got to get our street address painted on them only added to the excitement. I remember the huge gash somehow cut out of the middle of the street; it made a killer bump for popping wheelies but proved a spot to avoid when skateboarding. And I remember the burn mark that never faded. It arrived one night, riding the back of a lightning bolt. We were watching the thunderstorm move through when we saw the lightning strike, 50 yards or so in front of us. I woke up early the next morning to investigate.

Most of all, I remember the cul-de-sac at the end of our street. A ring of shrubs close to the curb surrounded an ash tree. It was haunted. We had no proof, we just knew. The biggest dare among the kids on the street was to climb over those shrubs and climb the tree. None of us did it often.

My point? I'm not sure. Although, maybe it's this - in this age of immediate gratification entertainment, the Internet, television and all the other associated goodness that can, just as easily, be so evil, do any of us know our streets the way we once did as kids? And will our kids?

Posted by Chris at 07:18 AM | Comments (33)

May 09, 2006

The Early Show

I'm compulsively early. I must be on time. Actually, I take that back...I must be early. When I am not, I begin to tremble and my language becomes utterly foul. A couple weeks ago, I had to travel the same route I had to take this morning. I was carrying stuff for an insanely important meeting. I couldn't be late. I left two hours ahead of time. To go 12 miles. Traffic was a nightmare. I recall referring to the guy next to me who was snacking on his breakfast while refusing to let me merge as a breakfast-eating fucktard dick-nostril with a mother-fucking shit-kicking car not worthy of wiping my ass on. I was not a happy cactus. I made it with five minutes to spare.

That's why I left butt-early this morning, apparently too butt-early. Learning from past experiences (as one is so frequently encouraged to do in life), I allowed myself a little over two hours travel time. And I was over an hour and a half early. At least I wasn't late. And I got some work done. Thanks, Starbucks.

(Side note: I don't know either the origin or precise meaning of "butt-early" but it sounded right at the time.)

Posted by Chris at 08:16 PM | Comments (41)

Meetings, And Dinner Guests

I have to make this fast. I have to be in downtown Washington DC for a meeting at nine which means that I should have been on the road by, oh, about 5:30 this morning. That's particularly sad when coupled with the fact that I only have to drive 12 miles. I shit you not. You'd think I have to drive to DC by way of Tibet. Anyway, I have to go be all important and shit despite the fact that I had to be all important and shit yesterday. I have to keep up the act for a couple of days because - and I'm not exagerating here - I'm scheduled to spend, at minimum, 15 hours in meetings this week.

Okay. I'm late. Gotta run. Talk amongst yourselves. The topic? If you could invite any five people, living or dead, over for dinner, who'd you want to dine with.

Posted by Chris at 06:02 AM | Comments (61)

May 08, 2006

Titles Are Overrated

Ahh, yes. Monday. Can't have a week without it, right? I'd be okay if we all gave it a shot, though. Just to find out. Consider it an experiment and call it science. Let's do it next week, though, alright? Because I? Have an insane week and I actually need Monday. How sad is that? In the interest of time (my own and yours), I've provided a few short topics for discussion and comment.

  • The weekend, you ask? The weekend was nice. Way too short, but nice. I trimmed the ol' hedges, poked around the yard, whacked weeds and drilled. And while those are all great euphemisms for other things, I actually did the real things. Sure, not as fun, but productive. During the course of doing all this labor, I somehow managed to sprain myself and now I'm hobbling around like a 90 year old. Good times!
  • You might have read the product demo over at my wife's site. Well, I tried the lube (on my arm people, on the arm!) and it didn't do a damn thing for me. Nothing. You need lube? This ain't the way to go.
  • A few people told me they were surprised that I didn't comment on the grippy, truthy speech given by Stephen Colbert at the National Press Club. I was surprised too until I remembered that I am me and it's pretty pathetic when you are actually able to surprise yourself. I came to the understanding that I was merely lazy. See, I did watch it (and there are links out there to it, so find it and watch it) and I thought it was brilliant. Colbert has the ability to be funnier, but the brilliance was in his bravado. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Colbert must wear some great big pants to hold his giant balls.
  • I have this shirt I like to wear. It has a picture of Dubya on the front with the words "American Psycho" under it. Lots of people smile in my direction when I wear it. Other people shake their heads and refuse to make eye contact. I dropped a bunch of laundry off at the cleaners on Saturday. It's this mom-and-pop Korean cleaners we've been going to for years. The owner looked at me, then looked at my shirt. "That's Bush" she asked. "Yes," I confirmed. She turned to the other employee, pointed at the words on my shirt and, I think, translated their meaning. Then she inquired, "You like Bush?" "Not so much," I replied. At which point they both burst into laughter. I think it was good. I think we shared a laugh at Dubya's expense. But I realize there's the off-chance my shirts will be coming back full of holes.
  • For you Lost're aware of the new, mysterious book just released entitled Bad Twin, right? If you're not, I'll have you know if was written by one Gary Troup, completed just days before he stepped aboard Oceanic Flight 815 never to be heard from again. Interested? I'm 100 pages into it and more than a little captivated myself.
  • Last but not least, Mia can now stand herself up. With the assistance of a stable object, of course. She still hasn’t' quite mastered the whole gravity thing yet. It's amazing to think about. Almost 10 months ago, we brought this tiny person home who couldn't do anything except cry and poop. Now, she's standing herself up, getting into absolutely everything, and has developed such a wonderful, unique personality.

Look at me rambling, how are you?

Posted by Chris at 07:29 AM | Comments (28)

Haiku For Monday #129

Ahhh, Monday, we meet
again on the battlefield.
You feel lucky, punk?

Posted by Chris at 06:56 AM | Comments (5)

May 07, 2006

Pearl Jam: Pearl Jam

pjay.jpgWhen I brought home crappy report cards in school, I used to get the "potential" speech from my dad. You probably heard it too. It's the one that starts off something like, "I know you can do better than this, that you have the potential to do so much more." See? I knew you'd know what I'm talking about. One of my biggest peeves - due in some small part to my father, I'm sure - is when fantastic artists release mediocre albums. It happens all the the time. You know, you hit the store, buy an album and as much as you might want to really dig it, you're underwhelmed. All because you know that they can deliver better. Since they released Vitalogy, that's been my thought about every Pearl Jam album.

Prior to the release of Ten, I'd been an ardent follower of Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone. When Andy Wood, Love Bone's singer, passed away and members of both bands formed Temple of the Dog, I moved into die-hard fan territory. To say I was ready when Pearl Jam, featuring members of Mother Love Bone and Temple, released their debut would be an understatement. I picked up my copy as it was being placed on store shelves. Since then, I've bought each Pearl Jam release on the day it hit stores.

Ten was a pivotal album for me, an important album. It took its place beside U2's Joshua Tree, Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti. I guess it shouldn't be any surprise that I've found most albums Pearl Jam's released since then to be somewhat lackluster. While I'd never expect them to stand still, releasing Ten clones, I've always hoped they could recapture the magic of their debut release. I'm not sure that Pearl Jam doesn't do just that.

Life Wasted opens the album with the band's traditional grunge/punk hybrid. This and World Wide Suicide, which follows, prove to be gritty and tough yet rife with hooks. Each are just plain brilliant. The somewhat inconsequential Comatose follows, with Severed Hand up next with its strange guitar intro, bombastic rhythm section arrangement and astoundingly wonderful guitar contributions from Mike McCready and Stone Gossard. The band's virtuosity shines through once again on Marker In The Sand, one of my personal favorites on the album. It is nothing short of astoundingly brilliant. Parachutes provides the first quiet spot on the album. Despite my determination not to like it - I typically don't go for breezy, acoustic guitar-jangling songs such as this - I honestly can't help myself. Unemployable and Big Wave, both up-tempo rockers follow then yield to the melancholy Gone, another one of my favorites. Wasted Reprise flashes back to the album's first track before the plodding, hook-driven Army Reserve takes over. Bluesy timelessness is encapsulated by Come Back before the album is brought to a close by Inside Job. I'm fairly certain the band listened to Pink Floyd's Animals a few times before recording the song, yet it's anything but derivative. In two words? Fucking brilliant.

If you can't tell, I liked it. I wanted to find some roofs to yell "Pearl Jam's back, baby" from the tops of. Listening to Pearl Jam is a blast. There are times in which you can close your eyes and know for absolute certain that this is the same group who recorded Ten, one of the greatest albums ever recorded. There are moments in which Pearl Jam proves to be one of the greats as well.

Posted by Chris at 07:48 AM | Comments (25)

May 05, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Xerox, My Muse

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts...
- Me

A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.
- Me

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
- Me

Aren't I brilliant? Wait. You, in the back. What? I didn't come up with those myself? Shit. Okay. I'm so busted. Like Kaavya Viswanathan.

(February 2006)
Out of the blue came a contract for close to $500,000 from publisher Little, Brown & Co. for a first novel she had only started and a second she had barely imagined. She was 17.

No problem. While taking a full five-course load, Viswanathan banged out ''How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" in her free time. The book is done and due out in April, and Little, Brown is convinced it has signed up one of the hottest young talents in fiction.

Michael Pietsch, the head of Little, Brown, said the publisher wasn't out beating the bushes for such a book but grabbed it when it was offered. ''It's purely a response to the work and idea," he said. ''She has a remarkable range of capabilities, a seeming effortlessness. That's more astonishing than anything." He added, ''I've been in this business since 1978, and it's my first experience signing up an author in her teens; in fact, with several teen years to go." There's enough early buzz and interest for at least a 75,000-copy first printing.

Want a giant buzzkill?

(April 2006)
The publisher of a Harvard University student's debut novel took the book off the market on Wednesday and canceled the contract on a second amid mounting allegations that she copied other authors' work.

The announcement comes less than one week after Little, Brown and Company asked booksellers to begin returning the newly published novel "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life," to the publisher so that Kaavya Viswanathan could rework certain passages.

The publisher had planned to republish the book, but it will not do that now.

The 19-year old Indian-born Harvard sophomore admitted that she unintentionally imitated passages from Megan McCafferty's "Sloppy Firsts" and "Second Helpings," which she read in high school.

Harvard's student newspaper on Tuesday reported that "Opal Mehta" also contained similarities to Meg Cabot's 2000 novel "The Princess Diaries" while the New York Times reported additional similarities between Viswanathan's book and work by Sophie Kinsella.

Is it me or are plagiarists just stupid? Not in the sense that they steal other people's stuff (that is unacceptable in my book) but they steal stuff from popular sources. Know why cars don't get jacked on busy streets? Because there's too much of a risk that someone will notice. If you're going to steal from existing chick-lit, steal from some of the unknown stuff. Come on, there's enough of it out there! If you're stupid, you steal from not one, not two but four bestsellers.

You know what bugs me the most? There are people killing themselves to write. The blogosphere alone is rife with brilliant writers who just want a chance to get published. Instead, this hack, with all the skills of a Xerox machine, lands a deal. So excuse me if I take a little pleasure out of it. Personally, I think we're looking at the first nominee for the James Frey Award for Literature (Fiction/Non-Fiction/Why Decide? category).

As I always say....Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it. Okay, okay...that wasn't me either. Damn you Henry David Thoreau!

Posted by Chris at 07:10 AM | Comments (42)

May 04, 2006

I Prefer The Term "Eccentric"

You all started when...ummm...damn, I don't know how to explain this.

During the past week or so, we've bathed Mia in the evenings. I like to help. Bathtime? Fun! Mia digs the water, loves splashing and playing with all her little bath toys. And while it's been a lot of fun for me, it's also proven one thing beyond any doubt - Beth and I are 12.

Last night's bath devolved (very quickly, I might add) into a hardcore water fight, complete with water-spitting fish attacks. Beth eventually exited to get a bucket for easier water throwage. I figured I might as well beat her to the punch.

Apparently, if you want full-blown crazy? Just add water.

Posted by Chris at 07:15 AM | Comments (54)

May 03, 2006

Winners and Search Strings

First and foremost, I know you guys probably want to know who won yesterday's little contest. The clue again was:

The song captured in the ring tone is an anthem with a killer intro performed by a band that's current but definitely not young (they have been, in fact, saluted by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). They're picture-perfect rebels who debuted on the charts in the late seventies and have been charting ever since.

Many came close, but only a few people came up with the correct response - AC/DC's For Those About To Rock (We Salute You). I mentioned that I left some clues within the clue. Current, of course, referred to the name of the band while young referred to Angus and Malcolm Young. Picture-perfect rebels was a little more obscure. Hopefully it made you think of a camera and, if you thought of a camera, you might have tied it with rebel and come up with the manufacturer Canon. And the song features some excellent canon blasts. Okay, so it was a stretch. Congrats to Melissa who came up with the answer first. And a special shout-out to everyone else who guessed the song or came so close!

To other things...I was doing a little site maintenance last night and came across some interesting search strings. It's been a while since I broke out this feature, so here it is!

Mouth size. Many have claimed it's too big. I think it's just right.
Getting out of jury duty. When asked about proper punishment for any offence, even the most minor, scream "Death penalty! Rotten scoundrels deserve the death penalty, I say!" at the top of your lungs. That should do it.
My dog ate a squirrel in the yard. Did he leave any for you? Mmmm, squirrel.
Mazda Miata in snow. I've never driven one, but I have the feeling a Miata is about as good as a legless midget in the snow. Two words - you're fucked.
Led Zeppelin Ten Years Gone analysis. All kidding aside, it's really one of their finest, most underrated songs. So, I say "fuck yeah". There's my analysis. Insightful, huh?
Animated Southpark. As opposed to the real life Southpark? Or Southpark on Ice?
Penis in a hat. Someone has to explain the birds and bees to you again.
How do I know if my neighbor has a meth lab? First, is your neighbor hoarding Sudafed? Any small explosions? Has their house blown up recently?
Escorts North Carolina spanking. Okay, which one of you has traveled to North Carolina recently?
I really don t know what the hell I'm looking for but oh well search anyway whilst I attempt to type correctly and fail miserably. Look, whoever typed this? I love you. You're my kinda people. Thanks for leaving this little nugget for me to find.
Kleshto. Bless you!
Craziest thing you intend to do in the future? Once I build the time travel machine, I think I'll take a nice little jaunt to 3059 and moon the intergalactic overlords.
Tunes for a baby that won't drive you crazy. I don't know what the color of the sky is in your world but all babies will drive you crazy eventually.
Wilfred Brimley. I don't know why, but I really like the fact that someone searched for Wilfred Brimley and landed here.
Lost Sock Memorial Day. One of the lesser known American holidays.
Things to do with a history degree. If you're anything like me? Nothing.
Men's nipples blog. Wouldn't it be awesome if there was such a thing? Journal Entry 1: I didn't do much today. Didn't really feel like I served too much of a purpose. Kind of a lame existence, if you ask me. Maybe something will come up tomorrow.
Chris is full of shit. You're not the first to pose that theory, my friend. And you won't be the last.

Posted by Chris at 07:15 AM | Comments (33)

May 02, 2006

Like The DaVinci Code...Only With Ringtones

One thing I forgot to mention, what with it being a crazy weekend and pretty crappy week last week. Beth and I got new phones! Yeah, boring. If you're anything like us, you get new phones ever couple of years and have a drawer full of old ones in your kitchen. Why did I ever wait to share the revelatory news, eh? But they're cool phones. They're cool, sleek (and dare I say sexy?) Motorola Razrs. I would have mentioned it sooner but they arrived about five minutes before we put the cat to sleep, and while I wish that was a clever euphemism for something else much more festive, sadly, it isn't. To be honest, nothing sucks the fun out of an exciting purchase like death.

Anyway, I have this problem with cell phones - the ringers aren't loud enough, or at least haven't been on my previous phones. I even went way out of the way to make sure I could hear my last one installing a unique and different ring tone so that I could differentiate my phone from everyone else’s. I still missed calls all the damn time. I'm happy to report that the Razr has a mighty howl but, knowing my Selective Cell Phone Deafness (SCPD), I added a ring tone surely no one else has, one that will grab my attention every time. Guess it and you win a custom-made CD. Here's all I'll give you as far as clues go:

The song captured in the ring tone is an anthem with a killer intro performed by a band that's current but definitely not young (they have been, in fact, saluted by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). They're picture-perfect rebels who debuted on the charts in the late seventies and have been charting ever since.

First one with the right answer - title and artist - wins. Knowing me the way you do, you might figure I'd have thrown some clues into the clues themselves. You'd be right.

Remember, if you won a CD from me last week, make sure you send me your address. I'll be mailing them out soon!

Posted by Chris at 07:16 AM | Comments (94)

May 01, 2006

The Weekend Recap (With Cameras and Pants)

I don't know what it was like in your neck of the woods (sheesh, I sound like Al Roker), but it was a wonderfully gorgeous weekend around these here parts (sheesh, I sound like John Wayne, who is, I believe, the exact opposite of Al Roker). Let's recap, shall we?

As I mentioned on Saturday, I went out and got myself a new toy. Despite the fact that I frequently have to remind myself what SLR stands for, I've wanted one for a while. I threw caution (and money) to the wind, broke down and bought the Nikon D50. I've gotta say, it's pretty darn cool. By the end of the day on Saturday, however, Beth was shooting the middle finger every time I aimed the camera her way and I stopped taking pictures of Mia for fear of blinding her with prolonged exposure to the flash.

Sunday brought the Easter celebration that had to be rescheduled. Mia wore another cute dress (pictures coming soon) and was an absolute angel, playing with everyone and everything despite the fact that she'd had only a crappy nap on the drive over. People, my daughter is the sweetest, most adorable thing on the planet.

Now, those two events do not a weekend make. There was plenty of other stuff, like the fact that Beth and I finally finished off season three of 24 which we started, I believe, before Mia was born. There was a little bit of house hunting, just for fun (damn is it expensive to live here). We also managed to pick up all the cat stuff which depressed me to no end. There was one thing, however, that sucker-punched me in the emotional gut.

There are tons of kids - of all ages - in our neighborhood. It's a great neighborhood for families. On nice evenings, like Saturday, it seems as though the entire neighborhood turns out to hang out. Some kids across the street are into skateboarding, like I was when I was a kid (for the record, I had a kick-ass Vision Gator which I loved but never quite mastered). They've got a ramp and all kinds of other crap. I'm sure it's fun. But it's not fun for us to listen to at 10:00 at night. By the time 10:30 rolled around, I'd had enough. I got out of bed (because, yes, I'm old and I was in bed at 10:00), put on my pants (because no one - not even kids - respects a pantless man and, frankly, I don't want to be known throughout the neighborhood as The Mean Guy With No Pants), marched outside and told them to knock it off. They seemed surprised, like it was unreasonable. But they stopped. I walked back inside, got into bed and turned to Beth. "This sucks," I said. "I just turned into the guy I hated when I was a kid."

Such is life.

Posted by Chris at 07:11 AM | Comments (44)

Haiku For Monday #128

How can I, like spring,
get sprung from my dark office
on days like today?

Posted by Chris at 06:49 AM | Comments (3)