July 31, 2006

The Recap (Fish, Backs and Gravity)

Someone once said, "a fine summer weekend is grand, even one marred by back injuries and vomiting." Now, I'm not sure who that person was (I’m thinking President Warren G. Harding – it sounds like something he’d say), but it's as if he knew exactly what had transpired this weekend. (Imagine that!) And I couldn't agree with him more.

My lovely wife asked her many wonderful readers to help plan this weekend's events. We went with the aquarium suggestions. Anyone who lives around here knows that we have two "National" aquariums - one in D.C. and one in Baltimore. (Of course, anyone who lives around here can attest to the fact that everything is "national"...while downtown, we saw the National Homeless People, parked in the National Parking Garage and ate a National Snowcone from a National Hot Dog Vendor.) We hit the D.C. version, deciding we shouldn't push our luck with a day-long outing. Mia's teething. Taking a day trip would be like poking a dangerous wild animal with a stick and hoping you survived the day with your arms and legs intact.

Since these two attractions share the same name, you might think that they'd be somewhat equal in their offerings to the public. You would be incorrect, but we knew this going in. You see, the D.C. National Aquarium is conveniently located in the basement of the Commerce Department. It's a little ghetto. Put another way, if we were talking about TV series, the Baltimore aquarium would be like Lost or Seinfeld. You know - quality. The bastard D.C. stepchild would be, well, Small Wonder, that really terrible sitcom from 1985 starring the freaky little robot chick. But still, we had a good time and the aquarium was a hit. Mia loved the fish and managed to stay interested through most of the exhibits. In that respect, the aquarium was perfect. It was kid-length.

The rest of the day was spent flat on my back...or bitching about the massive amount of pain I was in. What happened? I got old, that's what. I picked Mia up, twisted the wrong way and paid for it the rest of the weekend.

Sunday was spent recovering from the back thing, accompanied by some swimming, photo editing, mixed CD making...oh, and vomiting. Or, to be more accurate, being vomited upon. The details are unimportant. Suffice it to say, Mia is feeling much better. The same cannot be said for my hat. I'm not sure how that happened but it seemed gravity was having a little joke at my expense.

This morning, on the way to work, I saw a rather large bra hanging off a tree. Do you think this is some sort of sign? And if so, of what?

Posted by Chris at 06:57 AM | Comments (46)

Haiku For Monday #137

Monday bitchslapped me
Into consciousness. How can
I bitchslap it back?

Posted by Chris at 06:40 AM | Comments (6)

July 28, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Foreign Policy? What Foriegn Policy?

According to Washington Post reporter Robin Wright...

International talks on Lebanon here failed Wednesday to agree on an immediate cease-fire in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah but called for a new multinational force in south Lebanon and opened the way for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to return to the Middle East soon for further discussions, U.S. and U.N. officials said.

The Rome conference did not bridge the gap between a tough U.S. position, opposing a cease-fire except as part of a broader arrangement that can endure for years, and European and Arab calls for an immediate halt to the fighting. The meeting went 90 minutes longer than expected, largely because of stiff debate over the cease-fire issue, U.S. diplomats said.

"We are all agreed that we want most urgently to end the violence on a basis that this time will be sustainable, because unfortunately, this is a region that has had too many broken cease-fires, too many spasms of violence, followed then by other spasms of violence," Rice said at a joint news conference with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and the conference host, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema.

Despite an impassioned appeal for an immediate end to hostilities by Siniora, who said Israeli airstrikes had brought his country "to its knees," the United States pushed through language urging countries to "work immediately to reach with utmost urgency a cease-fire that will put an end to the current violence and hostilities." Most of the 18 parties called instead for "urgent work on an immediate cease-fire."

CNN similarly reported...

One source involved in the talks said everyone but the United States wanted to press ahead with an immediate cease-fire, but Rice argued that taking that approach would leave Hezbollah in place and still armed with its rockets.

Rice also expressed concern over what she said was Iran and Syria's involvement in the conflict, while Annan said that future dialogue should involve Tehran and Damascus.

A senior U.N. diplomat described the mood in the talks as somber. He said everyone but the United States wanted cessation of fighting to make room for more negotiations and humanitarian aid.

Here's a hypothetical. Let's say you happen upon two kids in a parking lot throwing down. Your first reaction? Well, unless they're going after each other with AK-47s, I'm guessing you'll try to stop them from doing damage to each other. I doubt any of us would consider standing a safe distance from them and calmly saying, "hey, kids, before you stop beating the ever-loving shit out of each other, let's make sure we all have in place a mutually agreeable solution to ensure the longevity of your friendship throughout the many years and decades to come." Because that would be stupid. I mean, someone's going to lose an eye or get kicked in the nuts before things get settled and no one involved (even though you might be the most convincing speaker in the history of the civilized world and not a dumb hick) is going to pay attention to your diplomatic ass anyway. Agreed?

By focusing only on the extended future of the region, the U.S. foreign policy we tried to push this week is short-sighted and naive. No, actually it's worse than that. I think it's practically criminal. Shouldn't the goal be to stop people from killing each other, even for a day? To stop innocent civilians from being turned out of their homes or, worse, murdered, by rocket attacks? Worst case scenario, a cease fire lasts a day. That's still one day during which no one was killed. What makes our policy approach even more suspect are comments about Iran and Syria. Instead of appearing as though we're searching for a solution, we appear to be looking for reasons to break out an Almighty American Bitchslap on the Axis of Evil and its distant cousins.

You know, it doesn't really matter which side of the conflict you come down on, which side you rally behind. People are dying and the situation is spiraling out of control. Our government doesn't seem to care, nor do they seem interested in finding a solution. Grandstanding and rhetoric don't solve problems. Instead, a commitment to doing what's right by people regardless of religious or ethnic persuasion is what's needed. And clearly Washington doesn't give a damn about people.

Posted by Chris at 07:19 AM | Comments (33)

July 27, 2006

Olive Oil And Magnetic Alphabets

Oh wait, I have to run up to the bedroom to get the olive oil spray. It's a simple sentence with a simple meaning yet one I'd never quite imagined myself saying. And I know the question you want the answer to the most - they make olive oil spray?. Indeed, they do. It's a wonderful thing. The other question you might just now be thinking of is why, exactly, did this fine, upstanding human being have olive oil spray in the bedroom?. A good question. You perverts who are mentally spinning all kinds of lurid explanations, take it easy. I was fixing our ceiling fan.

Really. We had a squeaky ceiling fan. I was out of trusty WD 40 and the next best thing I could think of? Olive oil. Don't laugh. It worked. And? It was perfectly innocent. But whatever you do, don't ask about that wheel of gouda I have on my bedside table.

Oh, and check out what happens when someone gives your child magnetic letters. If you're anything like me, you start brainstorming cool band names. Which is tough because you're really limited in what you can spell.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have five (yes, five!) meetings and I'm wearing a very uncomfortable undershirt. It's going to be a long day.

Posted by Chris at 07:06 AM | Comments (56)

July 26, 2006

WTNs, Raises and Advil

A couple days ago, while Beth and I were taking down the outdoor decorations from Mia's first birthday party, White Trash Mom (WTM) yelled in our general direction, excuse me, do you know who keeps piling trash on our front stoop?. We replied that we didn't, because we actually didn't. But I had to bite my tongue. Especially when White Trash Dad (WTD) seemed to get all pissed off that someone had done this. You see, they leave shit piled everywhere. They literally pull trash out of their cars and just leave it, sitting there. Instead of putting their trash in cans or bags, they just haul it out to the curb where it can sit there for all the world to see and get blown into everyone's yards (most often ours). So, I didn't have much sympathy. In fact, I wanted to find the people who were doing this and thank them. And help.

In another interesting turn of events, Beth noticed something amusing whilst picking up an order of Chinese takeout at our local Hunan hotspot. It was a sign beside the cash register which prominently stated the WTNs real names along with the words "bad credit."

The reason I mention this? I think the White Trash Neighbors (WTN) might, finally, be gone. Last night, they came by in the White Trashmobile, hauled trash and house plants to the curb (or, more accurately, yelled at their kids to haul all the crap to the curb) then promptly retreated into the fog of whitetrashdom from which they first appeared. Good riddance, you horrible, horrible people.

To top it all off, I got a raise and the gods of technology seem to be cutting me some slack. It was a good day. Now? I need Advil...and coffee...lots of coffee.

Posted by Chris at 07:02 AM | Comments (68)

July 25, 2006

Technology Chaps My Ass

Technology hasn't been cooperating with me this week. I've managed to piss off the gods of technology, offended them in some way. It started when a patch was pushed to my machine late last week...which disabled Excel. Because, yeah, I only use that everyday. Then the CD ROM drive took a big old crap and died, followed swiftly into the grave by my wireless card. Out of sympathy, Internet connectivity in my house as a whole went tits up and left me twitching without my fix of bits, bytes and blogging goodness. It shouldn't be surprising that, over the last several days, I've had a few choice words for my computer and technology in general.

  • Internet, I can't quit you!
  • We've put men on the moon, shattered the glass ceiling, cloned sheep and mapped the human genome...but we haven't figured out the concept of plug and play. Bill Gates, you're on my list. And not the good one.
  • If you don't start spinning data now, bitch, I'm going to office space your ass.
  • Wires? What are wires? You expect to, like, hook this thing to the wall? How am I going to blog from the couch? Oh, you're a cruel mistress, Fate. You're very, very cruel
  • Let's see...IBM...that must stand for Idiot Butt Munch, the true identity of the dumbass who invented this machine.
  • Why'd you do me like that, Internet? Come back! Thirty minutes and I'm boiling the virtual bunny.
  • I'll give you $20 if you start working. Really. I'll just slide it in one of these little slots and you'll start working. $50? Okay. $100. But that's my last offer. You can buy yourself something nice...like, a little extra memory or maybe a nice new optical mouse. Something that would really accentuate your great display.
  • Sure, I can get Minesweeper to work but Excel? Nooooo! Nooooo! Khaaaan!
  • Blue screen, eh? Now you're playing for keeps. I'll show you blue. Work, motherfucker. Fucking work, you piece of shit. Oh yeah? Well, let me tell you what I did to your motherboard last night, jackass!

I have a very long, very important conference call in a couple of hours. What are the odds that my phone is going to explode five minutes beforehand?

Posted by Chris at 07:02 AM | Comments (45)

July 24, 2006

Birthdays and CDs

It’s been a big weekend, and one rife with technical difficulties so my apologies if I give a less-than-thorough report or leave any loose ends hanging in the breeze.

First, and most important, was the First Annual Celebration of Mia’s Birthday commemorating the day of Mia’s great gynecological escape from the womb and entry into the big old world. Short and sweet? It was a hit. We worked our asses off (and by we, I mean mostly Beth) on Friday and Saturday morning prepping. Family started to arrive around 11:00 on the heels of a nice long Mia nap. She was a little put off by all the people at first but she started showing off in no time. The only things she had lingering doubts about were the balloons. There were plenty of presents, a great deal of attention, heavy and somewhat blinding doses of flash photography, a lot of fun and a bit of cake too.

I can think of no better way to spend a day than celebrating my daughter’s entry into the world. I try to do it every day. But there’s not always cake handy to smear on her face.

more on flickr

Now, the other topic to which I need to bring a little closure is the Mixed CD Multiple Choice Extravaganza. I know I turned some of you off by making it sound like there’d be a lot of work involved. And I know the fact that there were originally 15 questions didn’t help. I whittled them down to a nice, odd seven and here are the results.

What’s a Grover dinner? There’s very rarely any logic behind the crap I come up with at 33. Why would you expect there to be any surrounding something I made up as a kid. A Grover dinner is a term I used to describe a meal composed of all sorts of things that probably didn’t go together. I’m happy to say that my wife uses the term now and several times a month we partake in a Grover meal. Try it. It’s fun.

My favorite band? Genesis. Yeah, I’ll admit that I’m a huge Genesis fan. It’s dorky and totally uncool and I’m fine with that. Although I will say that I’m primarily a fan of their more challenging 70’s output, prior to the invention of the Phil Collins Hit Machine.

Jon Cryer, baby. Yep, I’m most commonly told I look like Jon Cryer. Even getting my hair cut the other day, one of the stylists walked over and said, “hey, you look like Duckie.” I said thanks. And I think I meant it.

Despite my religious belief, I’m clergy, folks. Yep. That’s right. I don’t have a degree in religion nor do I have 27 Bibles. I’m a minister. Ordained, with a certificate to prove it. Sure, I got it on the Internet but it’s real. I’m a man of the cloth. Go figure.

If asked to provide the title of the best movie ever made, I’d nominate Barry Levinson’s Avalon. It is the finest film I have ever seen. But if asked about my favorite, my guiltiest pleasure? Logan’s Run. It’s 1970’s sci-fi cheesy goodness and it never gets old.

In the great boxers or briefs debate, I come down wholeheartedly on the side of boxers. ‘Nuff said.

The name of my first band was, of course, Rude Cactus.

So, there you have it. The verdict? None of you answered all the questions correctly. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe anyone got more than five of the seven answers correct. It wouldn’t be fun, however, if no one walked away with the trademark Rude Cactus Musical Swag. So CDs to all the folks who got five out of seven right as well as the kind people who humored me answering all fifteen original questions. Congratulations to Jen, Hannah, Mrs. Q, Elaine, Linda, Suze, Shash, unixlass, JJ, Kate, Jennifer, Michelle, Corinne, Nic, Dawn, Sue and Amber.

Congrats to all. Please send me your addresses and I'll try to get these out as soon as I can!

Posted by Chris at 07:19 AM | Comments (43)

Haiku For Monday #137

Seven oh five and
I'm stressed and busy already.
Fun times! Fun times! Gah!!

Posted by Chris at 07:06 AM | Comments (10)

July 21, 2006


Amelia, Mia, Miamonster, Mia Bean, Mia Pet (muh muh muh Mia!), Princess Bean, The Bean, Beanie Baby, Zippy, Squizzle, Zippy Bean, Squizzle The Zippy Bean, Squizzlesaurus, Monkey Butt, Beaniac, Beanerschnitzel, Der Beanerschnitzel von Squizzlestein –

In a very short while, you will be a year old. This fact alone amazes and scares me. It sounds cliché, but it seems as if you were born only yesterday. But almost a year ago, we were in the hospital. I was wearing scrubs suitable for a person twice my size and your mom was being so brave. We were both scared, but so incredibly happy that we were about to meet you. And then we did. You were this cute, little thing with bright eyes and a shock of jet-black hair. You were breech, and your feet automatically shot up around your ears when they put you down on the table to clean you off. You cried. You were bundled up. And you were handed to me. I took you across the operating room and introduced you to your mom. We just stared, in awe of you. We still do.

Then we realized we had no idea what to do with a baby. Except love you. As it turned out, love and some instincts were enough.

A couple of days after you were born, I came home for an hour or so to take a shower, while you and mommy were still in the hospital. I checked my email and discovered myself in tears. I stayed that way for a few minutes. I’d posted the news about your birth and here were all these people none of us had ever met welcoming you into the world. Here was my life taking a very welcome but very different turn. The emotions, the outpouring, was and still is overwhelming and wonderful. I tell those people that they rock a lot. I still don’t think they understand how much I truly mean it.

Over the past year, you’ve learned to hold your head up, sit up, stand up, crawl and take a few tentative steps. You can pick your mom and I out of a lineup, mug for the camera and flirt with strangers. Your hair has turned a light shade of brown, your mouth has filled with teeth, and your eyes have settled on a combination of gray and hazel. You clap and roll around and smile and laugh. When I come home from work, you squeal and barrel your way towards the front door. It’s the best thing ever. Honestly. The best thing in the world. All of these things are.

A year ago, I didn’t quite know what to make of this parenting thing. I think I have a better idea now, although I know I still have a lot of learning to do. I do know that there isn’t a more rewarding job in the world. As a matter of fact, I can think of nothing I’d rather be than your dad. I could compose the finest pieces of music, write the greatest novels, solve the problems of the world and the mysteries of the universe but none of these things compare to being your dad. The greatest privilege I’ve had on this earth is meeting you and watching you grow into the little girl you are today. I cherish every minute of it and I look forward to being there for every little step on your journey. Just try not to do it too fast. There’s no rush.

As it turns out, I wasn’t fully aware of the capacity to love a year ago either. I love your mother madly, but loving you, my child, is a little different. I hope you know that I will always love you. Even when you reach that age at which you roll your eyes and say “dad” as if it’s a five-syllable word. No matter what, regardless of circumstances, I will always love you, treasure you and do everything in my power to be the best father I can be.

I love you Mia Bean. I love you with all my heart, now and forever.

Love Always,
Your Dad

Posted by Chris at 07:07 AM | Comments (88)

July 20, 2006

The Mixed CD Multiple Choice Extravaganza

Over the past couple of years, I've offered up a few chances to win some mixed CDs. There are always some people who sound really bummed when they don't win. And I feel sad. When I posted my mixed CD Elements of Style, I received quite a few comments and emails asking for another chance to win. So here it is...the Mixed CD Multiple Choice Extravaganza!

Think you know me? We'll see about that. Scour my site, check out old entries, think back to responses to your comments. Some of the answers are out there, some aren't.

Update: 15 questions? What was I thinking? That's way the hell too many. The burden's a little lighter on you guys now. Anyone who guessed using the original set of questions gets extra credit.

The fine print: One entry per reader. All entries must be accompanied by a valid email address and be submitted via comments to this post by July 23, 2006. The reader with the most correct answers wins. In the event of a tie, there will be a violent cage match to the finish. Or, I'll just send CDs to all the winners. Whichever. Frankly, I'm leaning towards multiple winners because I don't want anyone to die, nor do I feel like cleaning up the mess. It's just a CD, people. In addition, you must be willing to contact me privately with your mailing address. Because I'm not psychic, you know. In the event that anyone answers ALL questions correctly, he or she will win two CDs and the title of The Rude Cactus Freaky Stalker '06. This may or may not be followed by a restraining order.

Now, on to the questions...

1. When I was a kid, I coined the term “Grover dinner”. This refers to:
a. A dinner in which all food is blue
b. Dining while watching Sesame Street
c. A meal of all kinds of unrelated food
d. Grilled Muppets
e. An all-dessert dinner

2. My favorite band is:
a. Air Supply
b. Metallica
c. Genesis
d. Dave Matthews Band
e. Kool & The Gang
f. Pearl Jam

3. I am most commonly told I resemble:
a. Brad Pitt
b. Chris O’Donnell
c. Rosie O’Donnell
d. Jon Cryer
e. Abe Vigoda

4. Despite my religious beliefs (or lack thereof), I am:
a. An avid churchgoer
b. A minister
c. A scientologist
d. The owner of 27 Bibles
e. Holder of an undergrad degree in religion

5. My favorite movie of all time is:
a. Citizen Kane (Rosebud!)
b. Full Metal Jacket (Five-foot-nine, I didn't know they stacked shit that high.)
c. The Three Amigos (Sew, old one. Sew like the wind)
d. Logan’s Run (There is no sanctuary!)
e. Casablanca (I don't mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one.)

6. I wear:
a. Briefs
b. Boxers
c. Nothing – commando, baby!

7. The name of my first band was:
a. Atomic Bitchwax
b. Swan Song (Zeppelin covers band)
c. Rude Cactus
d. Wyld Stallionz
e. Eclipse (Pink Floyd covers band)
f. Hardcore Rickshaw Attack

Posted by Chris at 06:51 AM | Comments (41)

July 19, 2006

Balance (Thy Meaning Is Twofold)

To balance out The Seriousness, I offer some Cuteness. Because I can. Why would I not share this?

She's wearing my shirt. Yes, it's a little big on her. For the time being anyway.

Posted by Chris at 01:58 PM | Comments (43)


A couple of days ago, I asked what you thought about the explosion of violence in the Middle East. Some of you had opinions, some didn't. That's cool. You know you can say what you think or just choose to keep your mouths shut whenever you wish. But it is slightly unfair of me to expect answers when I don't offer my own thoughts in response. So what do I believe?

I believe that reactions to provocations are inevitable but such reactions must be proportionate to the offense. I believe violence is inevitable but discretion is the true test of belief. I believe each country is sovereign, allowed political and economic free will, just like its people. I believe we should avoid insinuating ourselves into every situation - whether it supports democracy or not, whether it supports what we believe to be important or not - but I also believe in helping where we can. I believe we, as a country, should express our opinions, help right wrongs, but do so using force as a very last resort. I believe that elitist leaders hell bent on creating legacies and avenging past wrongs place innocents in harm's way and, worse, don't care. I believe that terrorism will exist forever and while we should do our very best to resist it, we will never be able to truly consider any terrorist-related mission accomplished. I believe you can love your country without supporting everything it does.

Of course, I also believe that bears do shit in the woods, that the Pope is Catholic, that Grant is buried in Grant's tomb, and that, if a tree were to fall in a forest without anyone to hear it, it would probably make a sound. So, you know, I could just very well be crazy.

Last night, I finished Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men. While only slightly remarkable, it did contain one wonderful quote especially applicable now. You can be patriotic and still believe that some things cost more than what they're worth. That's me. I'm patriotic but I sure do believe that some things aren't worth the steep price we're expected to pay for them.

Posted by Chris at 07:04 AM | Comments (30)

July 18, 2006

Dishes, Discoveries and Dumbassery

I did some yard work on Sunday. You know, trimmed the hedges, weeded a few flower beds...that kind of stuff. Then I spent another portion of the day supporting an eager little girl as she walked around the house. Both of these things led to some pain. Not Rush Limbaugh Oxycontin pain. More like a fistful of Advil (which sounds like an old western, maybe an old western for geriatrics). By the end of the day, the social demands of which led me to consider installing a revolving door in the house, I was tired. After Mia was asleep, I crashed on the couch and flipped on the TV. It was then that I received a dire warning from my satellite dish informing me that entertainment was dead and I had indeed killed my television. All I wanted to do was collapse on the couch for a while. But it was not to be.

Yesterday was a Monday, and a nice hard day to boot. I got home and did some full-contact baby-playing. We hid-and-sought, we peeked-and-a-booed, then she peed on me. After a nice long shower, I answered some work email, responded to a few of you fine people then headed to the couch for some first-class vegetation. But it wasn't to be. I flipped on the TV and...nothing. So I bitched about it for a while. Then I took action.

If you happened to be in the Northern Virginia area last night and saw a dude in PJs, a t-shirt and running shoes sprinting around his house, that was me. And as I was running around, silently cursing television, satellite companies and modern technology in general, I uncovered a few fundamental truths.

Fundamental Truths I Discovered Sprinting Around My House In My PJs:

1. I'm vastly out of shape.

2. White Trash Neighbors are indeed moving! Their cars? Loaded with their White Trash Belongings. Good riddance, fuckers!

3. Running shoes and PJs? Not the best fashion statement in the world, leading to possible confusion with the actual White Trash Neighbors.

4. Hedge trimmers? Slice right through coaxial cable. Specifically the one leading from my satellite to my house. Like butter, baby.

Posted by Chris at 07:14 AM | Comments (49)

July 17, 2006

President Says What?

Oh my god! The President dropped the s-bomb at the G-8 today! (CNN's got the video). If the media's reaction is any indication, the world will now come to a screeching halt. (Mission accomplished now, bucko!)

Come on, guys. Who the hell cares? What we should really be surprised by are his atrocious table manners. Chew with your mouth closed, dude. And go easy on the butter.

You know somewhere in Texas Barbara's breaking out a bar of soap.

Posted by Chris at 03:43 PM | Comments (35)

Slap It On The Ass and Call It A New Week

What I didn't tell you all last week was how I was trapped in more meetings than I have fingers. I was in Maryland, D.C., and all kinds of places in between (although, Maryland is right next to D.C. so there's really nothing in between but I meant that more in a metaphorical sense) yet, instead of endless bitching about meetings, how much I hate meetings, and how much people who schedule meetings suck, I just kept a lid on it and blogged all normal-like. I think I pulled it off okay. But it's over, it was a hard week and I'm praying for a slightly more laid-back week this time around.

(I also didn't tell you about a really funny conversation Beth and I had. But I won't. Because it's completely inappropriate. All I can say is that it dealt with hard-hitting issues like pudding and fitted bed-sheets. And no, you sick bastards - not a combination of the two in any way, shape or form.)

The weekend? Good. But short. Saturday was nice and laid back. Not a heck of a lot went down. Except for the early morning head-bagging (Headbaggers Ball?). Sunday was quite the opposite. After a very early start, a friend from college visited along with his wife and their brand spankin' new son. I have a hard time believing that Mia was ever that small but I'm sure she was. Thank god the put on The Chub quickly. After they left, family descended upon us. My folks, Beth's parents and my brother-in-law all stopped by to see and play with Mia. At one perfect moment, all of us were sitting around in our living room watching Mia do something like point at the lights or take a step. It was pretty insane (in a good way) to see all the family you love and need in one room. It wasn't any revelation, just a moment in which something clicks and you smile.

Now, I have two very personal questions for you:

1. When you're getting your child to sleep, holding her in your arms, how do you not break out laughing (thus possibly waking her up through your hearty guffaws) when she lets a ginormous fart?

2. Without fear of reprisal or name calling, what do you guys think about the whole Israeli-Palestinian-Lebanese thing?

Posted by Chris at 07:09 AM | Comments (38)

Haiku For Monday #136

Coffee? Check. Advil?
Check. Incessant yawning? Check.
Yep. It's a Monday.

Posted by Chris at 07:03 AM | Comments (7)

July 16, 2006

See: Dawn, Ass-Crack Of

Hey look! It's 3:00 AM! And I'm awake! Mia couldn't sleep so Beth asked me to give it a shot. It went something like this.

Beth: Hey, are you awake?
Me: Hrmopop blah digorydoo.
Beth: She's been awake since 1:30 and I can seem to get her to sleep. Want to take a shot?
Me: Jakep blek redogo quincy em dee.
Beth: Thanks.
Me: Mmmm-bop.

I guess it kinda worked because she's marginally (not totally) quiet. I think I'll have a donut.

Posted by Chris at 03:14 AM | Comments (29)

July 15, 2006

We Attack At Dawn!

This morning, Mia and I staged an early morning raid on the kitchen. Because, you know, sometimes you just have to wake up early and put bags on your heads.

Posted by Chris at 10:13 AM | Comments (31)

July 14, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Be Like Mike

There's a clear-cut winner this week, my friends. No, it's not someone in the Bush administration, anyone involved in the latest bout of Middle-East unrest, or even headbutter extraordinaire Zinedine Zidane. Nope. It's Allen Heckard. I can hear you now - who's Allen Heckard?

According to Fox...

A Portland, Ore. man has filed a lawsuit for $832 million, saying he is tired of being mistaken for Michael Jordan, according to KGW-TV.

The television station's Web site says Allen Heckard filed the suit against His Airness and Nike founder Phil Knight on June 29 in county court, claiming to have been mistaken for the basketball legend nearly every day for the past 15 years.

And he's tired of it.

"I'm constantly being accused of looking like Michael and it makes it very uncomfortable for me," Heckard reportedly said.

Heckard apparently is suing Jordan for defamation and permanent injury, emotional pain and suffering. He is suing Knight for defamation and permanent injury for promoting Jordan and making him one of the world's most famous athletes.

You, Allen, are a complete fucking moron. Could you be a bigger waste of space? I think not. Let me see if I get your logic - you look like a famous dude and this is somehow damaging so you sue for it. It's really that cut-and-dried? That simple?

Our legal system's arteries are already clogged with the detritus of litigious stupidity, initiated by people who are after a quick buck. People sue because their coffee was too hot, their coffee was too cold, they heard a bad word on the radio, exposure to a violent movie at age 10 caused them to lose their shit 20 years later, or they accidentally played an Ozzy Osbourne album backwards and contacted Satan. Basically, people are stupid (not you guys).

Instead of just being lambasted here, I think we should all turn around and sue Allen for being a dumbass. Or, I could just resume my legal proceedings against Jon Cryer.

How about you? Who'd you nominate this week?

Posted by Chris at 06:53 AM | Comments (51)

July 13, 2006

Magic and Kinetic Energy

New this week...my daughter can stand and take a few steps. On her own. It's amazing. It's like watching a little old person trying to walk while wearing giant invisible clown shoes. Yet, somehow, it kinda works. It must be all the magic. Or kinetic energy.

Mia, being young, has this look of surprise on her face whenever I manage to do something she just doesn't quite understand. By way of as-yet meaningless explanation on my part, I took to exclaiming that whatever it was I did was magic. Daddy bounces a rubber ball on the floor? Magic! Daddy armpit farts? Magic! Daddy puts a diaper over his head and, blinded, walks into walls? Magic! Beth, however, chided me for the constant use of the explanation. Maybe because it wasn't true. Gosh, Beth.

Yesterday evening, Mia was opening and closing the Freedom French Doors that divide our living room from the kitchen. After a couple of tries, they'd eventually lock into place and I'd have to open them again so she could repeat the process. At one point I tried to explain what was happening to Mia. Beth was well-within earshot.

Me: You know, Mia, the ability to slam those doors has nothing to do with magic. It's all about kinetic energy.
Beth: What?
Me: You wanted me to stop saying everything was magic. I'm going with a different explanation - kinetic energy.
Beth: So, now you're just making shit up?
Me: Yeah. Pretty much. It sounded good, didn't it?

That, my friends, is parenting - making shit up and hoping it sounds good enough to stick. I'm not talking about answers to pesky little questions like why is the sky blue or why is Barney purple or what were you and mommy doing when all the lights were off and why was she talking to God. No, I'm talking about fundamental parenting here, the truly foundational shit. You can't prepare for parenting. It's like learning Spanish. You can study and conjugate verbs until the vacas come home but you haven't really accomplished anything until you've used it in the real world, until you've had to bribe your way out of a Mexican jail after being discovered, naked and passed out in the back of a 1968 VW Beetle with a dead hooker, a drug lord's pet alligator and a kilo of the finest South American blow. Only then have you truly earned your stripes. Parenting, like life, is just a matter of being fast on your feet and making shit up.

One thing I do know - while kinetic energy might be involved somehow, it's definitely magic.

Posted by Chris at 07:00 AM | Comments (42)

July 12, 2006

A Disturbing, Explicit Conversation...About Children's Books

I've always shared the conversations Beth and I have, despite the fact that I'm sure it makes us look like two raving lunatics half the time. Half? Okay most of the time. I've refrained from sharing some of the more crass conversations, though. Until now. Be warned.

Mia likes go sit in front of her book shelves, pulling them off one by one and handing them to Beth and I. Last night, she was doing just that.

Me: Oooh look. It's the Pokey Little Puppy. Which is a freakishly boring book. Hey. Why are you poking me?
Her: 'Cos you said pokey.
Me: Huh. Okay. Well if that's the case, let's read Handjob, The Bunny.
Her: There's no such book.
Me: Okay, um, then The Dirty Sanchez Kittens?
Her: Eww. Do you know what a Dirty Sanchez is?
Me: No, I don't. What is it?
Her: I'm not telling you.
Me: Is it anything like a Roman Helmet?
Her: What's a Roman Helmet?
Me: I have no idea. What's a Dirty Sanchez?
Her: Wikipedia it. I'm not telling. You find it?
Me: Yeah. That's fucking disgusting. But I'm calling dibs on this one.
Her: Fine. I don't want the Google hits.
Me: And I have no shame.

Posted by Chris at 06:53 AM | Comments (58)

July 11, 2006

Little Spaces I Inhabit: My Obsessive Book Buying

Lately, it seems as though I've traded lots of email about my mad book-buying habits. It's time that I come clean with you guys and reveal myself as the true obsessive compulsive guy I am. Like Superman's quick phone-booth changes, although my cape has a big "OCD" on it and I refuse to wear tights. How bad could it possibly be, you ask? Well, you remember my 3,700 CDs, right? When I do something, I do it big. I give you my unread book collection.


Yes, you heard me right - unread. When I'm in a bookstore and see something I'm interested in, I pick it up. There are more book cases (and boxes) in the basement chock full of books I have read. But very few of these spines have been cracked. I've provided a little detail in two other shots (here and here).

Surely I'm not alone, right? Okay, okay. Maybe you're not obsessed with books or music but you've got to have something! What is it?

(Oh, while I've got you here, check out my Independence Day and cemetary sets - totally unrelated, I assure you.)

Posted by Chris at 06:59 AM | Comments (70)

July 10, 2006

The Right Side of the Dirt

There are problems with long weekends like the recent one over the Fourth - they make the regular, two-day versions seem a little skimpy, and not skimpy in a good bikini kind of way. Yet, I still managed to cram a lot into those days. I played with Mia, went swimming (twice), finished a book, started another book, bought a few books (it's a sickness), walked through an old cemetery taking pictures, upped my life insurance and cooked a couple of meals. Not bad, eh? But for some strange reason, the weekend seemed to revolve around the concept of death.

Do you think they grasp both the literal and metaphorical brilliance in this?

For the record, no one keeled over dead in our living room or anything. I'm not talking about actual death and mayhem occurring in front of my eyes. It was more conceptual in nature. And was a topic of several different conversations beginning on Saturday morning. I'd just received a death-related update from my mother regarding my great uncle. He (the 90 year-old who drives a hot red sports car) and his wife (who doesn't even know who she is anymore) are moving into an assisted living facility. The facility sounds great but the situation itself is awful. Crazy family members are trying to abscond with their possessions before they even move and lawyers have already been called.

Me: We should start saving up now.
Her: For what?
Me: A hit man.
Her: Why? Who pissed you off? I know the White Trash Neighbors haven't moved yet but that's no reason to take them out.
Me: I beg to differ but that's not what I'm talking about. We need to hire one for us. When we get all old and feebed out, just before we completely lose our shit, I want someone to cap my ass.
Her: I'd shoot you.
Me: Thanks. But what if you were just as far gone? And honestly? You trip over the coffee table almost every day. I really don't think you should be walking around with a gun.
Her: True.
Me: Think of it like insurance. Highly illegal, death-for-hire insurance. From a guy named Bruno or Lefty.

Later on Saturday, I took a couple of hours to venture out with my camera. I ended up walking through a local cemetery. Morbid, huh? After an hour walking on the dead (and doing my best to put that final scene from Carrie out of my mind...you know, the one where Carrie reaches up through the ground...), I returned home. After a cursory hi, I received a very well thought-out plan to up our life insurance from Beth, complete with the exact totals of cash that would be available to support various activities in the event of my untimely demise. I, of course, signed all the paperwork. So, if you don't hear from me for a while and Beth is suddenly talking about a new convertible and the cute UPS guy on her site, start asking questions, okay?

It got me thinking, though, and I realize now that I'm pretty freaked out by death or, more specifically, the lack of health (think about it - the two are not the same). I honestly don't have any great insights to share with you, no words of wisdom or breath-taking life-affirming nuggets of Tuesdays With Morrie-like brilliance. Just this: we're on the right side of the dirt. Enjoy it!

Posted by Chris at 07:29 AM | Comments (38)

Haiku For Monday #136

I'm so not awake.
Yet, I'm at work. So thank god
I'm no brain surgeon.

Posted by Chris at 07:10 AM | Comments (8)

July 08, 2006

Cart, Before Horse

I wear glasses to read. (Yes, I'm old. Shut up.) Apparently, Mia thinks she should too...even though she can't read. Minor problem.

Posted by Chris at 09:57 AM | Comments (31)

July 07, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Schadenoverload

Too. Much. Material. Really, guys, there's just too much out there. It's schadenoverload (also a style of armoires from Ikea). I'll give you a few to choose from this week.

Issue One: Skyrockets In Flight...No Afternoon Delight For You!
Lil' Kim Jong Il. I think I probably made my point yesterday. The famous Wonkette even gave me the nod on this one. How cool is that?

Issue Two: Sentencing Delayed
Yes, folks, Enron mastermind Ken Lay died earlier this week. I've made no secret that I'm against the death penalty but I'm all for saving taxpayers' money. However, I honestly don't take any pleasure in this. As a matter of fact, I'm a little upset due to a nugget discovered yesterday evening:

The death of Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay will likely cause his conviction to be erased from the record, experts said Thursday. The 64-year-old executive's sudden death Wednesday from heart disease allows his lawyers to ask the court to vacate his conviction for fraud and conspiracy in Enron's scandal that left thousands jobless and wiped out billions from investors.

Issue Three: Bringing Tanks to A Rock Fight
The whole Israeli-Palestinian thing is irking me this week. I don't live there so I'm not going to make any judgments, only observations. I'll say this much - the force used by the Israelis seems, somehow, disproportionate to most recent threats raised by the Palestinians. It's like dynamiting your house because you found ants.

Issue Four: Someone Needs a Jeff Probst Ass-Kicking
Yet another Survivor winner in trouble, according to the Associated Press...

A winner of the popular reality show "Survivor" was arrested Wednesday after allegedly shooting a puppy with an arrow. Brian Heidik, 38, was released on bond after being charged with battery and cruelty to animals. During the bond hearing in Douglas County Magistrate Court, Heidik told a judge he thought the dog was a coyote that has been harassing his pets, WSB-TV reported on its Web site. Douglas County Chief Deputy Stan Copeland said it was a puppy.

"At about 3 a.m., his wife called to report that he was outside and that he had shot a puppy that was on his property with an arrow and planned to shoot another one," Copeland said.

That speaks for itself, right? You don't need witty commentary from me. My only suggestion? Drop this bastard in North Korea with his damn bow and arrow and see what happens. Either that or strap him down and let puppies lick his face for all eternity.

Issue Five: It's Like The Onion, But It's Real
As evidenced by the stories above, the wires were freakishly hot with news ripe for the plucking. Which is why I scratched my head and uttered a quiet hrmm every time I checked out the CNN site. Among the stories above the virtual fold this week?

- Coke Wants Court Secrecy After Pepsi Tipoff
- Subway Rider Attacked With Power Saws
- Vile-Tempered Bear Cubs Terrorizing Neighborhoods
- The Tough Hotdog That Won't Die
- Ashley Judd: I Was Treated For Depression
- Putin Kissed Child 'Like A Kitten'

And that's just CNN. Damn them and other news outlets for feeding us trash while actual important shit is going on. And damn us for letting them get away with it. Next thing you know, we'll just vote in any old moronic presidential candidate...

Don't let any of this get you down, folks. This morning, after I'd gotten dressed, I leaned over the bed and kissed my wife goodbye. Lying next to her was the most adorable thing in the world, my daughter, sleeping peacefully with a little smile on her face. Take inspiration from the important things in your life and don't be smothered under the weight of what is often a stupid world. Very often, it's a beautiful place to be as well.

Posted by Chris at 07:22 AM | Comments (39)

July 06, 2006

An Open Letter To Lil' Kim (The Other One)

Lil' Kim Jong You-Be-Illin' -

You are one crazy motherfucker. Look at you and your homies, launching missiles, thumbing your noses at the world. Don't you think screwing with us Americans is a pretty bad idea? You have to understand by now that we'll go to war on your asses for damn near any reason. Even if we have to make something up. The fact that you played into our clever little plan and handed us a reason - seven missiles' worth - is a serious bonus. And now that we have the backing of our international bitches allies? Doubleplusgood. It's not mandatory but it helps.

You're stretched really thin, you say. Correct. But, hell, we'll arm our guys with swords and football helmets and send them riding triumphantly into battle in Ford Festivas if we have to. And please don't worry that resistance from a few people back home will do anything to dampen our fighting spirit. No, we'll just ignore them and act as though they're completely unpatriotic for even raising questions about our preparedness or motives. (By the way, do you guys have any naturally occurring sources of oil over there? Just checking. Kim Chee? That's it? That'll do. Note to self - check viability of kim chee-fuelled SUVs.) Mark my words, the invasion will begin with a little shock and a lot of awe and you'll know you're only a few years from being completely and utterly wiped off the map when we stand some jump-suited official on the deck of an aircraft carrier in the Sea of Japan and declare the mission accomplished. There's nothing that we, and our overpriced contractors, can't do, dammit.

One day, when you find yourself locked away in some remote military prison with human rights standards equivalent to, well, pretty much what you're used to already, don't say we didn't warn you. Fear the Almighty American Bitchslap, North Koreans, for it leaves a mighty sting and a bright red handprint on the face of the democracy-haters.

Yours Truly,

P.S. - I just had a thought. We've got incontrovertible, unimpeachable proof that you've got weapons of mass destruction, right? You know, that might just not be enough. We wouldn't want to make any snap decisions, right?

Posted by Chris at 06:59 AM | Comments (43)

July 05, 2006

The Pool, Revisited

Ah, yes, right - the weekend. The long, long weekend that was, somehow, entirely too short. The last several days are, actually, quite easy to sum up. I played with my daughter, read a couple books, and went to the pool. There was a Fourth of July cook-out that turned into a cook-in due to the torrential downpour that forced my brother-in-law to grill while dressed like the Gorton's fisherman. There were random shopping trips for things like tiny bathing suits. The pool, however, was the focus around which the entire weekend was structured.

For the first several years of my life, my neighborhood pool was the nexus of my childhood. Sure, in the fall and winter there were endless games of football and, to my parents' horror, epic battles staged throughout the neighborhood. But, until my parents had the backyard torn up and installed a pool of our very own, the neighborhood pool was the place to be. When I walked into our community pool a while back, the sights and smells - shouting kids and the unmistakable tang of chlorine - brought that aspect of my childhood rushing back.

I remember summer, the stifling heat and humidity of Texas. I remember one summer in particular, the one in which I cracked my chin against the edge of the pool. The damage I'd done to myself required stitches. I rode all the way to the emergency room in the backseat of my godparents' old Mercedes, munching on potato chips. I still have the scar. I remember my friend Bill, who was three days older than I, much more neurotic even then and my constant companion, walking to the pool and walking home, exhausted. I remember water-wings, rafts, diving masks and the heat of the cement walkways surrounding the pool. I remember watching tennis players take to the adjacent courts, practicing their serves and volleys. I'd eventually take lessons there, from Mrs. Schwartz. Mrs. Schwartz quit teaching for a year, returning the next looking older and thinner and wearing out more quickly. She died a year later. Of cancer, we heard our moms whisper.

The lesson is, if not easily identifiable, simple. Despite the fact that things are so complicated - North Korea launches test missiles, wars rage in the Middle East and so many other places - to a child, not much has changed over the years. The pool is still the epicenter of childhood and the most irrefutable requirements in life are those that revolve around getting home in time for dinner.

Posted by Chris at 06:36 AM | Comments (25)

July 04, 2006

National Blow-Up Stuff Day!

Happy Fourth of July! Or, for those of you in other countries, Happy Tuesday! Remember - beer good, fire bad, and you're expected to end the day with all your digits and appendages intact. So be careful and have fun.

If you'll excuse me, I'll be sleeping all day. Why? Because I have this feeling that it's going to take a long, long time getting Mia to sleep tonight with stuff exploding everywhere. Whoever came up with the bombs bursting in air bit clearly didn't have any kids.

Posted by Chris at 07:40 AM | Comments (30)

July 03, 2006

The Hazards Of Living With Two Women

Warning: Living with two women may be hazardous to your manliness. Even when one of them is quite wee; the other one is freakishly persuasive.

Posted by Chris at 05:18 PM | Comments (42)

More Music You Shouldn't Live Without

It's a nice, long holiday weekend for me. I'm taking the day off work and hitting the pool. I'll wait to recap the weekend for now and, instead, share a few summer music tips with you. And, as always, if you have some suggestions for me, please feel free to share. In the mean time, enjoy!

angels.whisper.jpgAngels & Airwaves: We Don't Need to Whisper
Tom DeLonge knows a thing or two about putting a band together. He was, after all, the brains behind Blink-182 and Box Car Racer. I'd drop the old third time's a charm cliche, but the first two bands worked out pretty well. And so does Angels & Airwaves. We Don't Need to Whisper is an emo-tastic, post-punk anthem-fest of an album, long on emotion and gigantic sound. What separates this from the hundreds of similar releases this year alone is the production. DeLonge and company have mined the studio environment for all it's worth. The production is slick and the instrumentation shines. So much so, it might be responsible for the album's only flaw. It's like a non-stick pan. Sure, it cleans up easy but you know, there's some appeal to that old seasoned iron skillet...plus, it lasts longer. Don't get me wrong; the album is good. But it's sheen, it's polished surface, make it slightly less interesting than it might have otherwise been.

blackkeys.thickfreakness.jpgThe Black Keys: Thickfreakness
Do you like blues? Really gritty, dirty blues with raw guitars, howling vocals and stripped down rhythms? The kind you'd expect to hear in a southern roadhouse? So do I. And I'd honestly thought that there weren't too many young white guys making blues anymore. Well, these two Ohioans traveled down to Mississippi some time ago, heard the blues and never looked back. Thickfreakness is reputed to be their finest effort but I can't attest to that; it's my first exposure to The Black Keys. I can say is that it's fantastic. If you're a blues purist, you'll find some flaws, but if you just like a good, old-fashioned bluesy vibe, you'll dig it.

who.next.jpgThe Who: Who's Next
After 20+ years, The Who - now the duo of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey - is set to release new material. So it's a perfect time to look back at Who's Next, their finest album. The album itself is just stuffed full of excellent material - Baba O'Riley, Bargain, Behind Blue Eyes and Won't Get Fooled Again are all here...and they're more than just great CSI theme songs. Also here are Daltrey's howl, John Entwistle's bombastic bass lines, Townshend's power chords and Keith Moon's manic drumming. I have thousands of albums in my collection but there are few I know of as reliably brilliant as Who's Next.

gomez.operate.jpgGomez: How We Operate
Gomez has always been a quirky yet talented band that, somehow, has been perpetually overlooked. When I heard their latest, How We Operate described as their most accessible, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was scared. I shouldn't have been. How We Operate is indeed their most accessible album to date yet it's also their finest. They haven't lost their quirk but they've channeled it so wonderfully here. There isn't a bad song on the album; each seems to offer something new upon each listen. This is, in short, the perfect Gomez album. It is also one of the best things you'll hear all year. But you have to buy it first. So...what are you waiting for?

murdoch.time.jpgAlexi Murdoch: Time Without Consequence
You know, I'm getting wary of these so-called singer/songwriter, folk-type albums. Why? They're boring. I mean, look, I liked Elliot Smith as much as the next guy. The words and music were pretty but there wasn't much dynamism to his stuff. Smith, Gary Jules, Jack Johnson and the rest are fine and have their place but they just don't do anything for me. You've heard one, you've heard them all. Or so I thought. Alexi Murdoch proved me wrong. Murdoch's voice is so utterly wonderful and genuine, I couldn't help casting my cynicism aside almost instantly. He sounds like the genetically impossible love child of Chris Martin and Nick Drake. His music, while simple, is driven by hooks and instrumentation not common to the folk genre. It's compelling rather then strident, complimenting Murdoch's wonderful voice. Time Without Consequence is utterly wonderful. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Posted by Chris at 07:10 AM | Comments (15)

Haiku For Monday #135

Morning without work.
Playing with Mia instead.
Gotta love days off.

Posted by Chris at 06:52 AM | Comments (8)

July 01, 2006

The Bridge

A couple of years ago, Beth, my parents and I went to France for a few weeks. While the cameras we had weren't digital, that didn't stop me from tweaking a few. Only one of me was actually in Paris at any given time, however.

Posted by Chris at 04:57 PM | Comments (18)