Thursday, December 20, 2007

So now I'm both old and uncool. Oh well.

So what is cool and who gets to decide? I suppose it’s a hopelessly subjective question;, cool is obviously in the eye of the beholder. I guess age also has a lot to do with it:, toddlers think mom is cool, fourth graders think snot is cool, and teenagers, depending on the day, think either nothing or everything is cool. People my age, however, seem to think it’s cool to go see It’s a Wonderful Life in a real theater with friends and family.

So that’s just what a small group of us did this last weekend at the Lafayette Theatre in Suffern, which is one of the rapidly diminishing number of original vaudeville houses that have been saved and still show first-run movies as well as “classic” films. On Saturday, though, they did a whole holiday thing, that included a Laurel and Hardy silent short accompanied by a Wurlitzer-organ-playing-guy, and a reading of A Visit From Saint Nick which was followed by, go figure, a visit from Saint Nick himself. You know, an actual fat guy in a red suit., Dopey? ,Sure, but the kids ate it up. I’d have preferred a few Rockettes myself, but that’s a different story.

Anyway, the main feature was It’s a Wonderful Life, which I, (and, as it turns out, much of the audience), had never actually seen from beginning to end. And yes, I know it’s a movie that has managed to polarize the masses like no other; ,some people love it with the same sort of blind allegiance they feel towards puppies and rainbows, and then there are those who feel waves of maudlin-induced nausea just thinking about George Bailey and Bedford Falls.

I of course fell firmly in the nausea camp, if only because I’m usually a curmudgeon and proud of it. ,(I occasionally consider myself smug bastard as well, but I usually save that for special occasions.) , Anyway, as you’ve probably already guessed, seeing It’s a Wonderful Life on a big silver screen while surrounded by cheery, unassuming folks really does make all the difference, and before I knew it the snow was falling in Bedford Falls, George was back with Mary, and I was sniffling along with everybody else.

All right, so there’s nothing cool about it, but it’s still not a bad way to spend an afternoon. ,And I got to see Santa, so there.


Monday, December 17, 2007


There’s a lot to be said for the holiday season: the smell of fresh cut Christmas trees, the crunch of new fallen snow underfoot, that special acid reflux that’s unique to eggnog with rum… ,really, it’s an endless cornucopia of sensorial treats when you think about it.

Even better though, as any parent will tell you, is that adding kids to the mix not only lets you hand down those cherished holiday traditions, but provides an excuse to create new ones. ,(Traditions, not kids. Although creating kids is fun too, if you like that sort of thing.) ,Anyway, what was I going on about? ,Oh yeah, new traditions. ,So…, yesterday we not only put up our tree and trimmed it with the usual jumble of shiny, but I also took the opportunity to play Mr. Science and showed the boys how to use a little bit of science foo to de-tarnish the silver ornaments.

To wit: ,rather than slogging it out in the trenches fighting the tarnish on it’s own territory with polishers and such, we simply dropped the ornaments in some hot water with a piece of aluminum foil and some baking soda. It’s the nuclear option, if you will. So, two minutes and an electrochemical reaction worthy of Beakman later, all that unsightly silver sulfide had jumped ship and made it’s way over to the aluminum foil in the form of aluminum sulfide. Fickle stuff, that sulfide is.

So there it is, a new kind of holiday tradition; ,one that celebrates brains over brawn, or as we say around here, good old fashioned smartosity. After all, if I raise my kids to value braininess properly, maybe they’ll stay away from the eggnog.


P.S., Speaking of cutting xmas trees... , anybody have a good cleanup solution other than ,$&#ing turpentine? ,This year our tree was sappier than a Nora Ephron movie... ,yuck.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dead horses, monkeys and my kids.

Although those who know me best might say otherwise, I think I’m an easygoing kind of guy who enjoys some of life’s simpler pleasures. You know, salt of the earth sort of stuff;, mom, baseball and apple pie. ,No wait, those are the things that make me a red-blooded all-American boy, right? ,So how about pina coladas and getting caught in the rain? ,Oh I don’t know, it’s all so confusing.

Anyway, there is one thing about which I’m quite sure, and that’s the pleasure I take in beating a dead horse. So today, even though everyone on the internets has spent the last week having fun with this little gem about Japanese research monkeys being “smarter” than college students, I’m still going to take my turn. Here we go.

So chimpanzees have better short term memories than so-called humans? No kidding. Any parent with a fifth and seventh grader will tell you that there seems to be an inexplicably steep curve with kids and their memory skills. But on the other hand, free will is certainly a part of the equation too. My boys, for instance, have entire episodes of the Simpsons imprinted on their little brains and will be only too happy to recite them word for word ad nauseam… ,and yet they both show a remarkable ability to jettison any information that they deem trivial. Trivial, like bringing home the books they need for homework, or putting on a coat before running out the door into the snow. Or even washing their hands after they go to the bathroom, for heaven’s sake.

So I ask you, is it really that big a surprise that our simian cousins display greater mental horsepower than your average kid? I think not. ,And jeez, unlike my kids we could probably even train them to wash their hands after flinging their poo..., if anybody's up for a challenge.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A day at the CIA. (No, the "good" CIA, silly.)

So here’s a question that’s been on my mind more and more lately:, what do you do for fun when you get older? And by older I mean once you’ve acquired all the customary trappings of the suburban bourgeoisie; ,not just the wrinkly kind of old. ,I mean where’s the challenge in simply aging? ,Everybody gets old. ,No, my goal is to age with the same sort of élan as Ivan Ilych. ,Except without all the existential horror and moral bankruptcy., You know what I mean.

Anyway, over the years I’ve found that having fun is getting more challenging than it used to be. After all, when you’re a kid all you need is a few of your knucklehead friends, a pocket full of cash and eight or ten hours to spend barhopping your way across the Village until you end up at McSorely’s. ,You know…, fun.

Now though, as ostensible adults, my Lovely Bride and I have been widening our horizons and trying new things. This last Saturday, for instance, we drove up to the Culinary Institute of America, (watch any of The Next Iron Chef.?) ,which offers all-day “enthusiast courses” which are not only a lot of fun but also very much like an episode of Iron Chef. Basically, we were let loose in one of their industrial teaching kitchens with about a dozen other “students,” ,a teaching chef, and two themed menus that we prepared together as teams.

Then once all the cooking was done we all sat together in one of the dining rooms and gorged on all the food we spent the day making, which was, in no particular order:, filet mignon, shrimp cocktail with cognac sauce, foi gras and caviar on toast points, Bellinis and Kirs, chocolate mouse, bananas foster, and then and rather a lot of Riesling and Medoc for good measure. It was, in short, as much a fun social event as it was culinary.

So then, feeling a little bit of that early winter ennui setting in? Try the CIA for a bit of grown up fun. After all, no matter how it turns out, McSorely’s will always be there for you, just in case.


Friday, November 30, 2007

The finish line. (although I hear that Norwegian Line’s boats are nicer)

Well Bloppers, November is gasping its last and I hope most of you made it. As I noted yesterday I think the exercise of blogging every day was well worth it, even if I was personally responsible for clogging up more than my share of Senator Steven’s tubes with a lot of drivel about my kids, Dancing with the Stars and Halo3.

Aaand speaking of kids… ,just this morning I was appalled when I saw this bizarre poster at the Palisades mall today:

Really? Is this how far we’ve let common civility slide in our culture? We not only tolerate but expect that our children will be shrill, materialistic little monsters?

I guess that’s exactly what it means, but still, the message that I prefer to take away from this sign is that the cosmos is laying a little bit of a serendipitous kudos on me, ,my at-home-dad parenting skills and my well behaved boys. And jeez it’s not even like it’s that complicated to raise not-monster kids. Now of course Children of the Corn is a different matter…, now that I think about it even they were fastidiously polite while they were busy being evil. ,Whatever.

Have a great December!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Still Blopping?

Not to get all meta about this, but it is day 29 for all you NaBloPoMo Bloppers out there… so how you all doing? Everybody having fun? I know that for me it’s been a good exercise in staying focused on one task around here that’s actually good for my noggin.

Not that the usual routine of cooking and cleaning isn’t profoundly satisfying… ,oh right, it’s not… ,but still, way back I used to write every day and I wrote what seemed endless papers to finish up school, so until this month it had been a long time since I felt any pressure to produce. Of course that’s all well and good, but I still need to come up with one more staggeringly brilliant bit of insight by tomorrow. No problem.

Blop on.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hide me...

Day 28

So the next stage in our little renovation project has begun, namely looking at tile. ,Lotsa tile., Tile for this bathroom and that bathroom. ,Tile for the Kitchen. ,Tile for the floors and walls. ,Tiles for breakfast lunch and dinner. ,Gaaaa.

I’m actually doing ok so far; ,at every tile store I’m still nodding and ,“Hmmm-ing”, with a furrowed brow here and a chin stroke there, right on cue. ,I’m looking interested and even throwing in the occasional question just to mix it up, because we all know what happens if my Lovely Bride gets the feeling that I don’t care., Brrrrr.

Ooops, ,gotta go… ,I think I hear her coming and I can’t hide under this desk for much longer… ,pray for me…


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Things I care way too much about. Like Dancing with the Stars. And conspiracy theories.

There are any number of reasons that people blog;, and the range, as we all know, is pretty wide. Some engage in erudite discourse about the loftiest ideals, some blog about what they fed the cat for lunch, and still others like to ramble on about idiotic conspiracy theories. And today I’m proud to present my very own homemade conspiracy theory that’s been carefully wrapped in crazy and topped off with a dash of ridiculous. ,And it’s about Dancing with the Stars, no less.

So here it is:, I’m absolutely convinced that Carrie Ann threw the judging last night when she gave Helio and Julianne that 9 for their second dance. The dance was clearly worth a 10, which I believe put Carrie Ann in the tough position of having to give them the praise the dance warranted and yet still somehow justify a 9. ,So, if you watch her comments closely you’ll see that she’s scrambling at the end to come up that lame excuse about Helio’s lifts not being smooth enough., Whaa?

Of course every idiotic conspiracy theory has to have a rationale, so… , I think Carrie Ann is in cahoots with Mel and Max who are supposed to win tonight, except that they didn’t dance well enough to make it a lock…, which forced Carry Anne’s hand when Helio and Julianne surprised everyone by turning in the best dance of the night. See?, It’s clear that the fix is in at Dancing with the Stars. , Really. ,Why is everybody looking at me like that? ,Here, ,look:


Monday, November 26, 2007

Master Chief Makes Me Feel Funny...

In keeping with the habit of brevity that I’ve been trying to cultivate here lately, please indulge me as I toss out the following declarative statement with no further build up. ,Ready? ,Here goes: ,I’m at a stage in life in which I’m down to very few vices. Actually I have so few left the number is embarrassingly close to zero, what with me firmly entrenched in my forties and being the very model of a modern major father figure… ,as it were.

That said, one of my knucklehead boys managed to step on/destroy/mangle our Halo3 disk this weekend, which left me unaccountably distraught until I realized in the midst of my grief that I seem be involved in a love-hate relationship with Master Chief as potentially destructive as that between Lindsey Lohan and booze., Or Paris Hilton and herself. ,You get the idea. ,I am, ,in short, ,pining for Master Chief. I used to hate both him and that damn game, and yet I kept playing it. ,A lot. ,Aw jeez, I guess I’m supposed to say it out loud: ,“Hi, my name is Evan and I’m addicted to Halo3.”

Really, as much as I whined about Big Team Battles and the sheer stupidity of Oddball, I was still getting better at beating down newbs and nose-scoping the better guys. My rank in Lone Wolves was 13 with 95 total experience, for heaven’s sake., (Good Lord, did that just sound as nerdy as I thought it did?) ,Yeah, think I need help for my latest addiction. ,Or…, at least another copy of the game.

Yeah, I’m just going to go out and get another copy of the game. What the hell, even if it is a nerdy addiction that’s turning my brain to mush at least it’s not killing my liver. ,Go me!


Sunday, November 25, 2007


Day 25

Anybody want a folding beach chair? Howzabout a set of bocce balls, or even better, an Easy Bake Oven. Most of it’s barely used, as are most of the boxes of junk now occupying my driveway like a small army of itinerant squatters who have come to vex me just in time for the holidays.

Well, I may be exaggerating as I’ve been known to do, but either way I just want the world to know that I was stuck this weekend cleaning out the garage, which is a job that I would imagine is only slightly less appalling than, say, a summer spent as Liza Minnelli’s pool boy., Only less humiliating. ,One would imagine.

Anyway, the point is that I’ve got a ton-‘o-crap to get rid of and not much time before the contractors show up to throw the rest of the house into chaos. ,So, who wants a big box of half empty paint cans?


Cutting it Close. Blopping Wise, That Is.

Cutting it kind of close but I haven't gone to bed yet..., gotsa keep blopping...
got it in my blood now. Not much of a post, you say? ,Yeah well I'll make up
for it tommorow by being even more staggeringly brilliant than I usually am., Even I can't wait. Yawn. Bye.


Friday, November 23, 2007

The Gathering Storm.

And so the chaos begins. Not too long ago I mentioned that we’re going to be putting an addition on our house, which as best I can tell will throw our lives into a state of chaos unseen since we got married. Or moved here. Or had kids. Actually it’s more than that; , it looks as if this project will test the very bounds of human endurance. Well, our patience anyway.

To wit: this morning My Lovely Bride and I began the first round of moving/thinning/disposing of our crap, which meant innumerable trips to and fro the attic, which at one point this afternoon left our living room looking like this:

Not so bad at all really, and I know it’s nothing compared to the coming storm. Still, after today I know for sure that if our Blissful Union can survive the whole renovation to the end we will officially have the strongest marriage ever. ,(And we’d better, ‘cause New York isn’t a no-fault divorce state.) ===Permissum venatus suscipio!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Food Coma In The Making

Coffee, whipped cream with pumpkin and apple pie, some turkey wing, stuffing, dinner rolls, another bottle of Becks, glazed carrots, gravy, white meat, more stuffing, roasted potatoes, peas swimming in butter, stuffing, cheese and crackers, crudités and a bottle of Becks.

There. I believe that’s a complete list, in reverse order, of everything I put in myself today. And not only am I stuffed, but I believe I feel a food coma coming on. Hope you’re enjoying your food coma. See ya.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving. But Not Too Much.

So here we stand at the threshold of the Holiday Season. The leaves are finally falling, the turkey has arrived fresh from the chopping block having been separated from its head, and I’m sharpening up my can opener in preparation for one of my favorite time honored rituals: the annual Releasing Of The Cranberries. Woo hoo!

Well not really, but I was having a hard time making the whole thing sound more exiting than it actually is. Either way though, what this means to you is that you won’t find any maudlin, bittersweet Thanksgiving stories here. Nope, I’ve read a few of those on the blogs today, and there’ll be none of that here.

So have a good Thanksgiving, but remember, don’t go getting all mushy about what you have to be thankful for. It’s unseemly. Bye!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Brief, Politically Incorrect Rant.

As I pointed out yesterday, for me writing is a creative process that often involves an undue amount of thematic wandering before I manage to sneak up behind my literary prey and knock it senseless with a barrage of mixed metaphors and preposterous similes. The aftermath is rarely pretty.

That said, today is all about brevity... ,so this is all I have to say to the all the sheeple I sit behind in traffic every day: ,I don’t care about the bumper stickers on your car and I still don’t give a crap that you want to keep Christ in Christmas... ,and what’s more, the only reason you’re all worried about it is because Bill O’Reilly told you to be. Nobody’s out to get either you or Christmas. Get a life, you paranoid nitwits. ,And as long as we’re at it, I don’t care that you think it’s, “Ok to say Merry Christmas” ,to you, ‘cause I wasn’t going to anyway. You want validation of all your fears and that this artificially manufactured war on Christmas is real? Go watch Fox News and leave me out of it.

And you know, as long as I’m ranting, if you’re one of those smug bastards that has a bumper sticker that says, “I Pray. Deal With It!”, you can not only shove it, but please invite all your xenophobic neo-con friends to do so as well. You think Jesus is the bee’s knees? Great, I like Jesus too, just don’t be such a dick about it., Grrrrrrrr.

Whew. Ok, I think I’m done. Have a nice day!


Monday, November 19, 2007

Dawdling, Podcasting and Algebra. The Long Way.

There’s no question about it, I’m not merely behind on most things, I’m a highly skilled procrastinator. The interesting thing about that though, is that it’s not even just nasty bits of business like checking the boy’s homework and taking care of a certain plumbing problem that makes me squeamish that I fall behind on; I even mange to lose track of things I enjoy. Which makes no sense, but there it is.

But, here we are in the 21st century and at least one of those nagging issues has been solved for me with the ability to, as true geeks put it,, “time shift my entertainment choices.” ,Or, simply put for mere humans such as myself,, “podcasts are awesome because now I never have to miss any of my favorite shows, ever.” ,So now it no longer matters if I miss a week with Car Talk and the Tapppert boys, because they live on in perpetuity on my Zen V like cloistered nuns, waiting patiently for my attention. ,Or something like that.

…And I know, I know, it’s always a long trip from the first sentence of one of these posts to whatever it is I’m trying to get at, so here it is in a nutshell: I just got around to listening to the Car Talk puzzler from three weeks ago, and as intractable a problem as it seemed to me, my older boy rolled up his sleeves and figured it out. The right way, no less… using algebra.

Granted, after staring at the answer it’s all clear to me now, but the point is I gots me a boy who practically oozes smartosity, and I couldn’t be prouder. ,And maybe just a teensy bit jealous, but mostly proud.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Everybody Loves A You Know What.

It’s late on Sunday night and I can’t for the life of me remember the details of the anecdote that I was going use as the hook for this post. ,Damn. ,It was something to the effect that as a cub reporter the young Robert Benchley had been sent to cover one too many parades and ended up writing a piece that pointed out that once you’ve seen one parade, you’ve seen them all, and there really isn’t anything else new to say after reporting that “all the children are rosy-cheeked” for the hundredth time. Or maybe it was James Thurber. ,Damn. ,Anybody?

Anyway, just for the record I’d like to add that even though it’s true that there’s nothing new I can say about parades, I enjoy them just fine nonetheless. In fact just today we spent the afternoon with friends watching Stamford’s Thanksgiving parade, and it was just fine, thank you very much. It’s fun not only because I happen to like rosy-cheeked children, but it’s also a real big time parade, complete with Macy’s-sized balloons, fresh kettle corn vendors and yes, even a small herd of fez-wearing Shriners driving those little cars. How can you top that for good old fashioned, all American kitsch?

Well you can’t, and what’s more, I just might even post some pictures of my own rosy-cheeked kids at that parade. So there. ,Damn it’s late., Gotta go.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Live and Learn. Again.

I realized some time ago that there are plenty of reasons that I’m glad to be a higher primate with a large forebrain, not the least of which is that being one affords me the advantage of appreciating the fact that I’m a higher primate with a large forebrain. Circular reasoning you say? Perhaps, but my point is that evolution was kind enough to provide me with this big noggin, and when I’m not using it for immaterial flights of irony like this I do occasionally, as they say, live and learn.

Case in point: ,I learned two things today. The first is that the rather snide tone I took with Atlantic City yesterday wasn’t entirely warranted. The Guys and I ended up staying at the Borgata Hotel, and it’s not really the sort of, place where elderly, obese smoker’s dreams go to die” ,as I had implied that all of A.C. is. ,The Borgata is actually pretty nice. ,Go figure.

The second thing I learned is actually a repeat lesson, which is that as much as I’d like to believe that I’m indispensable around here… ,I’m not. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but once again I left for an entire day and everybody did just fine. Not only were the boys fed, dressed and healthy when I got home, but apparently there wasn’t even so much as a Marx Brother’s-like mix up involving either plumbing, farm animals or Margaret Dumont.

Of course that’s probably all for the best, because if my family was prone to such high-jinx I wouldn’t be able to sneak away at all, now would I? ,(Although I am tickled by the notion of my boys going toe-to-toe with Margaret. ,She wouldn’t have stood a chance with them either.)


Friday, November 16, 2007

Mmmmm, testosterone!

There’s not a lot of time to spend here today; ,by this afternoon I’ll be speeding south towards the bright lights, glitz and glamour that is Atlantic City! ,Woo hoo! ,Well, not so much glamour, but there sure are a lot of bright lights. ,Oh, all right. ,So Atlantic City is none of those things, but is actually a rather sad, grubby little place where dreams go to die., The dreams of elderly, obese smokers, mostly.

But hey, that said, it’s all good, ,‘cause a couple of times a year a few of my buddies and I go down there to celebrate our birthdays in style. It’s always fun in a typical Guy sort of way;, it’s a night away complete with gambling, some laughs and an embarrassingly extravagant dinner during which we gorge ourselves on a cow and some lobsters that were gracious enough to sacrifice themselves for our enjoyment.

Indulgent? Sure, but sometimes a testosterone-fueled weekend is just what the doctor ordered. ,See ya.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Things I’m Not Embarrassed About. Really.

As I think about it, there are actually very few things about which I’m embarrassed. I don’t, for instance, kick puppies or bite my nails, and I’m invariably polite to people… ,even when I shouldn’t be. Like the cranky old supermarket bagger lady who seems to take a perverse pleasure in crushing my eggs and bread. In fact I make a point of actively avoiding the line where she’s bagging, but I swear she sees me coming every time and the next thing I know my grapes are all in a squishy mess underneath the soup cans… ,but I digress. Where was I?

Ah, yes the writer’s strike. Something I actually am a little embarrassed about is that the screenwriter’s strike is starting to make me a little antsy. Daily Show and Colbert? Gone. And it’s not like I’m even a big TV watcher by any stretch, so just those two shows alone meant a lot to me… ,but now what’s going to happen to Heroes? ,Or the Bionic Woman? ,At least there’s some Battlestar coming back and whatever reruns of Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs I can catch on my homemade DVR…, good lord, this strike has finally exposed me for what I really am: ,a TV addict. ,(And a nerdy one at that.)

So what does this mean? ,Are there any twelve-step groups out there for me? ,How does that work? Do I have to take Jesus into my life? ,I hope not, because he and I don’t really have much in common, except maybe some facial hair and a slight persecution complex. ,See?, I’m rambling again.

All right, calm down, boy. It’ll be fine. This writer’s strike is just like any other passing storm;, I’ll just hunker down in the root cellar of my dvr and pass the time with some Iron Chef. Yeah, Alton Brown is always there for me, strike or no strike, and that’s nothing to be embarrassed about.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Imminent Chaos. And Bathrooms.

Just this morning I was trying to think of just how many fundamental, life-altering events I’ve experienced. As best I can tell, the short list includes, but is not limited to: buying a house, getting married, having kids, learning to tie my own shoes… you know, the big stuff. ,(There is of course a whole other category of awesome life altering events, but this is a family friendly blog… and actually I’m not even sure if I’m allowed to think about those things anymore…)

Anyway, this morning my Lovely Bride and I finally committed to a brand new project; one that may be slightly less important than bearing children, but still promises to create at least as much chaos for us in the coming months. We have, in short, decided on a contractor who’ll be expanding our house. It’s a big step for us because it kills three enormous birds with one metaphorical stone. ,1: we’ll finally be able to separate the boys as the older lad is long overdue for his own room, ,2: my Lovely Bride and I will have a bedroom large enough so that we’ll no longer have to do rock/paper/scissors to see who has to crawl over the bed to get out in the morning, and ,3: at the age of forty two I will for the first time in my life finally have my own damn bathroom.

Yup, a master bath, just for me. Well, and my Lovely Bride too, but the point is up until now we were all sharing one bathroom off the hallway, and I’ve had quite enough of that. It wasn’t that big a deal when the boys were younger, but as they’ve grown so has the volume and variety of traffic through the house, which means that I can’t so much as leave our room to go pee without getting dressed and waving a cordial hello to whichever neighborhood kid I may pass on the way. ,Grrrr.

So, let the chaos and tumult of construction begin. What could possibly go wrong?


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lessons Learned and a Bit of Incoherent Rambling. Or: I’m Sick, Day Three.

Live and learn, I always say. Or at least I mean to say that, but since true learning experiences are pretty rare for me, it’s not really very often that the opportunity presents itself. Anyway, in this case it seems I’ve learned that I was all wrong yesterday as I was ranting about the malevolent spirits and pixies that I assumed were the source of this horrendous head-stuffin’, nose-runnin’ ,general bitching and moanin’ ,head cold that has me in its death grip.

It seems, I’ve since been told, that it really isn’t spiteful fairies who are responsible for all this sneezy misery, but germs. Germs? Really? Little bastards, I’ll show them. Just like Kurtz, I’ll “bomb them all.”= Yeah, that’s the answer, I’ll carpet bomb the little beggars, but instead of napalm, I think a handful of Motrin and a fifth of Johnny Walker should wipe them out. ,Yeah.

Or then again maybe I should just go take a nap. I wouldn’t want to upset the balance of Humors in my liver. Did I mention that I’m really, really tired of being sick?= Blech.


Monday, November 12, 2007


We're certainly a smart lot as a species, aren't we? We've figured out all sorts of things, albeit some more useful than others. We know, for instance how to keep milk from spoiling and how to make airplanes fly. On the other hand, we also know how to split atoms and make sneakers with wheels; ,both things we could probably have done without.

Either way, it occurred to me this morning that it's all too easy to sit here in the comfort of the twenty first century and be smug about all the things that we think we have figured out. For instance, when it comes to this nasty head cold that my kids and I have been passing back forth I firmly believe that it’s just as likely that evil spirits are responsible for all this misery as the so-called “germs” that science would have us believe.

Think about it, if microscopic germs are real I can’t possibly see what they could have against me or why they’ve chosen to curse our little household. And what’s more, they’re so tiny I can’t even imagine how they could come up with a plan to make us so stuffy, runny and generally miserable, let alone carry it out. No, an infestation of spiteful pixies makes much more sense.

So, that said, it’s all chanting, wearing garlic and lighting incense for me tonight. ,Well..., and maybe just a little bit of Tylenol. Damn, I guess I really am just a week-kneed secular humanist at heart. Oh well.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

NaBloPoMo... Day Eleven

Well, it’s another a crisp, beautiful Sunday morning. The fall colors are at their peak, the geese are on their way southbound, and there’s even a little frost on the pumpkin, as it were. So what does that mean to me? Well, I’ve just dropped my Lovely Bride and the boys off at church, so now it’s just me and my laptop sitting here in the parking lot, waiting for those creative blogging juices to start flowing. ,Come onnnn, juices.

Actually, so far this whole exercise of blogging every day during November has been a good experience in that it’s forcing me to tighten up my daily routine just a little bit; and more than that it’s probably done as much as anything else to get my at-home-dad addled brain working again. Who’da thunk that staying at home with little people all day every day would turn your brain into mush so quickly? ,(Yeah, I know, I can practically hear whole generations of moms rolling their eyes right now.)

Anyway, it looks like church is about over and I’m out of time, so I guess instead of posting one of my staggeringly brilliant pieces like usual, this dreary little aperitif will have to suffice…, hey, maybe if I actually go inside next Sunday God’ll do me a solid and slip me a little inspiration. Is that how that works? Then again that’s probably a weighty question left for another day. ,See ya.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Keeps Going and Going...

There are few things I enjoy more than entertaining. Not the vaudeville variety mind you, but more of the cooking food and sitting around kind. I guess I could sing and dance if I really had to, but I’m at the age where I’ve accepted the fact that grilling stuff and having a few beers is more my skill set. What’s funny though, is that I had completely forgotten how easy it is to fall out of practice at some things..., some skill sets are not forever. ,Like chasing toddlers.

It was just this afternoon that some close friends came over with their eighteen month old bundle of joy;, a precocious bundle of toddling energy who was thrilled with all the challenges that came with the new environment that is our house: ,cabinets full of whatever, stairs, knick knacks, garbage cans and so on. It was a fun afternoon, but it reminded of two things: that adorable, sweet natured toddlers are an absolute joy to be around, and despite that I have now idea how I survived raising two of my own. Maybe I was just too young to be tired back then.

Anyway, ,kudos to the Doodle and her awesome parents, who are doing a great job. Goodness knows the grilling and entertaining was the easy job today.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Star Trek and Python? Well Sure!

Human frailty is, I think anyone would agree, a universal trait. To this day I’ve never met anyone without their quirks and foibles;, so really all that differentiates us is just the degree to which we follow our own odd little muses. At one extreme, for instance, are those who are content to fill their days with numismatics and flower arranging…, and at the other extreme there are those who like nothing better than a weekend spent raiding their kid’s college fund so they can hole up in motel room in Vegas with a stash of crank and a one-legged hooker before ending it all in a standoff with the Feds. =Or so I’ve heard.

Since I’m just an average guy though, I like to think that I fall somewhere in between those two extremes. And besides, I’m not really even sure what ‘crank’ is. In short, I’m at the stage in life where pretty much the only vice left available to me is procrastinating in front of YouTube. Now granted, 98% of the stuff there is crap, but every once in a while I stumble across something that tickles me just enough that I feel compelled to share. So, with no further ado, please feel free to share in today’s little vice:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Crystal? Really?

Day 8

Does fifteen years seem like a long time? I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. Fifteen seems like a long time to me, but if you’re a quahog clam, that many years probably goes by in the blink of an eye; ,and as long as we’re at it, Cubs fans also probably measure time in decades rather than years. Actually now that I think about it, I’m really glad that I’m neither a long suffering Chicago fan nor an ex-bivalve from the arctic circle. And not just because they share similar climates.

Anyhoo, today is, by no small coincidence, my fifteen year anniversary with my Lovely Bride. So, how do I play that? As best I can tell I have two choices. 1: Fifteen years seems like forever which is a good thing because “each year is just a little bit more magical than the last, honey” or 2: Fifteen years seems like nothing because “even though time flies when you’re having fun, I’m having the time of my life, dear.” ,Damn, I’m romantic.

Finally though, I’m not going to bother picking one over the other. I’m I lucky guy. I love my wife, and (as best I can tell) she feels the same about me, so I’m going with option 1 and 2. There, done.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

&%$*ing Gravity Hammer...

Day 7

One of the great things about being the parent of young children is that everything is really very simple. All you really have to do is change their diapers, put some food in them and keep them from running into traffic. It can’t really get any more straightforward than that, now can it?

And before you get your knickers in a twist, I didn’t say parenting is easy, just simple. Never confuse the two. Anyway, I’ve found that as the years have gone by and my fair-haired tots have grown, much of that simplicity is disappearing just as quickly as the clothes and shoes they outgrow. In short, they’re real people now, and just like big people, they come with big baggage. Should they be allowed out after dark? Who are they hanging out with? When should I expect my first visit from the cops at my front door? Not so simple anymore.

But luckily enough, they’ll never be too old to enjoy some of life’s simpler pleasures, not the least of which is picking up a 360 controller and kicking my ass in Halo 3. Just like the old days, it doesn’t get any simpler than that. I try my damnedest at slayer, big team battles and lone wolf, but the result is the same: ,I die. ,Repeatedly. ,And usually in a big embarrassing mess of plasma grenades and gravity hammers. Grrrr.

It’s actually starting to make me a little crazy because even though Halo is one of the very few things in life I’m actually trying to get good at, the skills necessary are clearly beyond me. But hey, I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m a lucky dad and I still have my two bright-eyed lads right at my side…, even as they’re busy assassinating me from behind with a laser. At least it’s simple... , for them.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Keep Circulating The Tapes!

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I like Saturday mornings. Call me crazy, but it’s more than that; I really love them. I suppose my fondness for them actually goes back to my childhood when a quiet Saturday morning was nothing short of a Shangri-la of six straight hours of cartoons in a darkened room that only ended when sports took over the airwaves. By then it was noon, and I would have no other choice but to stumble out into the sunlight and find something else to do with all the other pale little kids.

One of my very favorite Saturday mornings though, was in 1991 when I was, ostensibly at least, an adult. I was sitting on the couch with a plate of waffles and bacon in one hand and the remote in the other and I happened across what was clearly a pretty bad movie featuring an anonymous would-be starlet and a slack jawed hunk of a leading man who were notable only in that they were wearing animal skins and running around with a elderly wizardy sort of character. “Ah”, I murmured to myself with a mouthful of waffle, “It’s not Bugs Bunny, but it’ll do.”

Then, of course, came the revelation. There was what looked like a silhouette on the bottom of the screen with three small figures. It sounded like they were talking. I washed down the rest of my waffle with some lukewarm Tang and leaned forward. Sure enough the silhouette wasn’t a hangover-induced hallucination as I had first assumed, but was in fact Joel, Tom Servo and Crow busy riffing on a masterpiece of cinematic debris called The Cave Dwellers. Ah, sweet serendipity, thy name is Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

Anyway, Sixteen years, ten seasons, three networks, two hosts and one final cancellation later, the group seems to have split into different camps (I hate it when Daddy and Mommy fight).=But the cool thing for big honking nerds like myself is that each group has a new project in the works. The Joel, Trace, Frank, Mary Jo and Josh camp are producing a live show called Cinematic Titanic, while the Mallon-Chaplin camp has retained the rights to the Best Brains production company and revived with a lot of pretty sweet content..Did I mention that I’m a huge nerd?, And…, Mike, Kevin and Bill Corbett are producing “Rifftrax.

I guess what this really means is that now I really have no excuse for not rehabilitating my weekend mornings by hooking my boys on sluggy Saturdays spent on the Satellite of Love with Mike, Joel and the bots.

(Oh yeah, and even though I’ve actually managed to collect about fifty or sixty episodes as mpegs if anyone wants to trade, there’s also a really serious trading site here. =“Keep circulating the tapes!”)


Monday, November 5, 2007

Vote. Yeah, That Means You.

Hey kids, tomorrow is Election Day, so get out there and vote! Democracy is the coolest! Or something like that. At least that’s what MTV says.

I had actually forgotten that election day was looming until just the end of last week when my mailbox was nearly lost in a blizzard of glossy campaign ads. Big ones, small ones, color and black and white… there were literally dozens of them. And actually that was just fine with me because with old man winter setting in we can always use more kindling for the fire.

What I’m not (to use the vernacular) =‘down with’ though, is the automated phone messages that clogged up my answering machine as they began rolling in like waves of verbal flotsam and jetsam. These ads aren’t merely irritating simply because I’m a curmudgeon though, more than that, they reaffirm my cynical conviction that not only is the old saw true that ‘all politics are local’, but that all politics are petty, mean spirited and worst of all, small minded.

Sure, half the print ads are of the happy, colorful look-at-me-and-isn’t-my-family-lovely and-hey-look-we-have-a-puppy-too!! variety, but the other half are, quite frankly, inept, ham-fisted attack ads. Now what that means around here in my little neck of the woods in Rockland County is that it’s the season to revisit the one local issue that’s like a gift that keeps on giving: the fate of the 1981 Nanuet Brinks Robbery victims and the status of those convicted of the killings.

After the better part of thirty years the social and political controversy continues to swirl: did those that have been paroled deserve to be released, and should those who are still doing time stay in jail? To this day the whole episode remains a potent and polarizing issue around here, if only because it’s so shamelessly exploited by everyone who can get their hands on it, regardless of which side they’re on. And sure, I have my own opinion about how this tragedy has played out, but unlike everyone else in this county with an agenda, I’m keeping it to myself.

Anyway, having said all that, I guess I’ll still do the right thing and go vote. I’ll hold my nose and pull the lever for the few candidates who don’t smell quite as bad as the rest. =Grrr, no wonder I’m a curmudgeon.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

It's Wafer Thin...

Blech. It’s been four days since Halloween now and I don’t think I can take it anymore. You hear that faint whimpering in the background? Why, I believe it’s the sound of my arteries crying for help. Since Wednesday our house has been harboring a giant bowl of candy, and just as sinister as any of the mustachioed villains who ever threatened Clara Bow, it has been holding the fair-haired damsel of my arteries hostage on the train tracks of cardiovascular disease. (There, how’s that for a hyperbolic butload of similes, you broken down Democrats?! Thanks, Jim Earl!)

Anyway, my point is that this has been the toughest candy season yet since ’05 when I started going to the gym and lost that sixty or seventy pounds. Up until now I’ve been pretty good with all the dietary pitfalls that seem to be part and parcel of being an at-home-dad, but over this last week I’m ashamed to say I’ve shown a remarkable lack of discipline.

Despite that though, the worst may be behind me because I think it was this morning that I finally hit bottom. Sure, Ray Miland may have had the DTs and his whisky hidden in the chandelier, but he’s got nothing on me. For breakfast this morning I had pancakes. Not just any pancakes, but pancakes made with chocolate marshmallows and white chocolate orange slices melted right in. And I had a lot of them. A real lot. And they weren't wafer thin.

So here I sit on Sunday afternoon, writing this in the parking lot of the gym. I’ve just finished my forty minutes on the elliptical and am just waiting for My Lovely bride to finish up. Of course it’s all well and good to be back on the righteous path of dietary virtue, but just to be on the safe side I’m still tossing most of that candy. After all, I’d be pretty embarrassed if anybody found my stash of KitKats in the chandelier.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Home Stretch

The vigil continues. It’s day three of the older lad’s self-inflicted incarceration, but it seems to be going as well as can be expected. Granted, there are a few sullen grunts here and a few pained moans there, but he’s spent most of the time reading quietly, playing his guitar not so quietly, and watching a little television.= (We allow TV while he’s grounded only because he doesn’t really care for it all that much. See? In retrospect it was genius of me to have weaned him off that thing because now he finds it almost painfully boring. Woo hoo!)

Anyway, I should really get back to enjoying all this peace and quiet now because tomorrow is Liberation Day, and before I know it we’ll be back to our usual routine of karate, skateboarding and general chaos as the boy and his friends run roughshod through the house and our lives…= which I’m actually starting to miss. Maybe just a little bit. But that’s just between you, me and the internets.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Karma and Punishment

It was not so long ago that on this very page I was waxing rhapsodic about fatherhood in general and a certain rite of passage in particular. The Holy Grail of fatherhood, I called it…= my older boy was finally old enough to start mowing the lawn for me. Not only that , but I must admit I was feeling pretty proud of not just the boy, but also my own mad parenting skillz, yo.= Go me; as it were.

So that’s all well and good, but while I was still wallowing in my haze of parental hubris, karma snuck up behind me this week and sucker punched me. To wit: On Halloween that very same golden haired child I was just praising went and did something very foolish. Not the law-breakin’ kind of foolish mind you, but idiotic nonetheless.

So, although I won’t bother divulging any further details of the lad’s infraction, (if only for the sake of preserving the marital bliss of which I’m so fond) the upshot of all this is that the boy is in the midst of his first real grounding. Like the no-going-outside-or-video-games-or-going-to-karate-or-anywhere-else kind of grounding. Three days worth, no less.

I’m taking it all in stride though, because I realize I have to pace myself. He is, after all, only twelve, so I know that before long I’m going to need all my wits about me and the patience of a saint when he grows into a real teenager. (Big sigh.)


Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Nose By Any Other Name

As anyone who knows me at all can tell you,= (although why they would bother, I can’t imagine) =I’m a predictable guy. Conventional if you will. For instance if I can possibly help it, an average day for me always includes, but is not limited to: Grape Nuts on my breakfast table, blue jeans and a polo shirt on me, and last night’s Colbert on my Tivo. In short, I like routines, and, for better or worse, they seem to like me right back.

It is, however, just that sort of behavior that makes me guilty of perpetuating the stereotype that suburban New Yorkers are the worst offenders when it comes to not taking advantage of all that the city has to offer. And what’s more, it’s true. Ask anybody who lives within half an hour of Manhattan when they last went to any one of the ten gazillion museums there. Or saw a show, or walked through St. Patrick’s, or started a Sunday with dim sum on Mott Street and ended up in Peter Luger’s for dinner. =We’re just lazy that way.

That being said, my Lovely Bride and I do occasionally break that lazy routine though, so this last Sunday she and I ventured in for some brunch at Marseille and then saw Kevin Kline in the new Cyrano de Bergerac at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. I had actually gone in with fairly low expectations because I made the mistake of reading some of the rather snobby 'reader comments' on the NY Times website, but despite that we both thought the show was, in short, a great lot of fun. Well, except for all the pathos and dying at the end.= But you knew about that anyway. =And if not, sorry for the spoiler.

Anyway, despite the huge cast* and correspondingly immense stage and sets that could have very easily overwhelmed the whole thing, (not to mention that it’s also as much a Kline vehicle as anything else) Rostand’s timeless, witty prose and poignant story still shined through.

So, even though it’s on a short run, do yourself a favor and get into the city and see some great theater.= Or failing that, at least pick up some tickets for the Rockettes at Christmas... ‘cause you still haven’t done that either, have you?

*Oh, and as it turns out, the part of Lise is played by the marvelous Nance Williamson, a favorite of ours from the HVSC. Go Nance!

** and the image is copyright of the estate of the late, great Al Hirschfeld, of course.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boo! Happy Halloweeen!

Hey, what’cha doing here? Go out and get some candy with your kids. Don’t have kids? Well then dress up your dog, or your ficus plant. Or your friends.

Either way, you’re never too grown up to go out and get some goodies. Go on, shoo!