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!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Iran? Really?

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

--James Madison

'Nuff said.

--------------=Bonus Feature!=---------------

Hey kids! =Wondering who started the California Fires?= It was Al Qaeda! = Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Matt Is A Moron

I have no idea if this counts as a truism, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say this: Kids keep getting smarter and more fun as they grow up. There, call me crazy, but I said it and I’m standing by it. Unless of course you’ve somehow done it all wrong and raised your kids to be little monsters, in which case I have no sympathy for you. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Phyllis Chambers.)

Anyway, that being said, our boys are now old enough to not only share in some of the decadent fun of prime time television, but they are even developing into pretty savvy viewers who bring a healthy dose of skeptical perspective to what we watch. Case in point: the boys are watching Heroes with us this season, and this is what our snarky little quorum has decided:

1. Matt is a moron. Despite being able to read minds he still spent all of last season bumbling around and getting played by literally every person he came into contact with. And this season, it’s more of the same: =“Go on, Molly, find the nightmare man for me, I won’t let anything bad happen to you.”= And,=“Sure dad, even though I know you’re an evil freak I’ll blindly follow you into that back room… what could possibly go wrong?” =Jeez.

2. Claire’s new boyfriend is obviously not the innocent he pretends to be; but is he good or bad? Can’t tell yet, but that story he trotted out for Claire’s benefit about the “man in the horn rimmed glasses” was almost painfully clumsy. Whichever side he turns out to be on though, our plot twist prediction for him is that he turns out to be the brother of that nasty little blond who’s looking for Peter. Bet on it

3. Hiro: what’s up with that whole storyline? --------Z z z z z z z z....

4. Mohinder has always been gullible, but it’s starting to look like Matt is rubbing off on him. He’s now handed Molly over to “Bob” whom he knows is not to be trusted, and even better, he allows Bob to send him away like an errand boy to New Orleans.

5. Prediction: Jessica is just pretending to be crazy again, and she is in fact the killer going after the 12 in the photograph. Or maybe that’s too obvious and it’s merely a red herring... =Nah, She’s the killer.

6. Nathan: He fell apart pretty quickly in just four months, didn’t he? =Anyway, we’re assuming since he had to visit his kids at a school in Washington that his wife has taken his seat in congress… =which will be pivotal later in the season.

7. And last but not least, as the boys and I are fond of reminding each other on a regular basis: - Matt is still a moron.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Chariots Of Adolescence

It’s been said that raising children is like having a window into one’s own past; a chance to both watch and relive one’s own childhood. Now while that sort of vaguely maudlin sentiment generally sets my teeth on edge, I must admit that as the boys have grown I have found myself doing just that: rediscovering and reliving a lot of cool kid-stuff that I haven’t thought about in a very, very long time. I had, for instance, long forgotten how much fun it can be to dig for worms and go fishing, build and fly rockets, play kickball in the back yard and stay up way too late watching old Mst3k episodes… you know, boy stuff.

Anyway, I had yet another one of those moments this weekend when I found myself volunteered as photographer for the Friends of Crawford Park fun-run and 5k race. Not only was it a mildly pleasant way to spend a beautiful fall morning, but it reminded me how much I loved running cross country in high school and that a lot of my weekends in the fall were spent running 5 and 10ks with the team. And even better, this year the boys came with me, so while I was busy taking pictures my ten-year-old ran the fun-run and the twelve year old ran the 5k… in a pretty respectable 29 minutes, I might add. Atta boy!

Actually, now that I think about it, why should I stop with simple kid stuff like fishing and running? I could involve them in anything I please. Have them do my bidding, if you will. I could maneuver them into professional sports! I could send them to Hollywood! I can just imagine them now, living out their lives fulfilling destinies pre-ordained to ensure that I can live vicariously through them forever… or maybe not. Seems like a lot of trouble. Just ask Dina Lohan.

Oh well, I guess I’ll just stick to our usual routine of casual fun stuff. I’m sure there’s still plenty for me to rediscover, and the boys will probably like me better for it anyway.

---(Oh, and speaking of Mystery Science Theater, if anybody has any episodes they’d like to trade, I’ve got a bunch. Lemme know. “Keep circulating the tapes!” –E)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sartre Would Be Proud

There are times I enjoy a cerebral challenge, like the Times crossword on a Thursday or Friday for instance, or even trying to decipher the math homework my seventh grader brings home. (Irrational numbers and a boy going through puberty? Oh the irony.)

There are, on the other hand, some challenges that don’t seem fair. For instance, after finishing up a perfectly pleasant dinner with my boys at a local Chinese place tonight, my fortune cookie ambushed me with this little bit of existential horror: “The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.” Oh really.

Would anybody out there care to explain that little nugget of inscrutability to me? I expect it has something to do with emptying one’s consciousness of unnecessary worldly distractions, but really, all I wanted was to enjoy my orange slices and warm hand wipe in peace. Jeez.

And you know, as long as we’re on the subject, not too long ago I was on a road trip with the lads and my Lovely Bride when I was confronted with this little bit of diabolical ambiguity:

“no credit cards only on this pump”

After repeatedly re-reading this hand scrawled sign that had been duct-taped to the gas pump, I began reading it aloud for all to enjoy, reveling in its sphinx-like syntax. Yes, of course in this case the meaning was patently obvious, but that didn’t stop my two precious youngsters from spoiling the fun by crying out in unison from the back seat: “It means cash only, dad!”

Cash indeed. At least it didn’t keep me up nights like that damn fortune cookie will.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Boo. Or, My Kids Are Growing Up Too Fast.

Just as the fog comes on little cat feet, so apparently, does autumn. It certainly snuck up on us with little warning in our little section of New England this year, if only because September and much of October have been, as Cole Porter once noted, too darn hot. Only now it’s not. Hot, that is.

In short, Fall has finally arrived with dark, rainy skies and a certain chill in the air that tells me it’s time to gear up for the next faux holiday: Halloween. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a sucker for holidays both real and artificially manufactured as the next guy, but I find with each passing year that my enthusiasm for this sort of thing ebbs in direct proportion with the level of commitment shown by my boys.

Actually, my boys have, it seems, gone full cycle. As infants, Halloween obviously meant nothing to them; it was just a day like any other, which meant their goal was, rather like Liza Minelli, to simply cry, eat, and poo as much as possible. But anyway, as the boys grew into toddlers they did catch on pretty quickly. They found early on that Halloween is in some ways even better than Christmas in that it’s a day of unfettered indulgence, only without the whole good/bad guilt trip laid on them by the fat man in the red suit.

As an event though, the whole thing seemed to peak for them in elementary school. Each year the excitement began to build in tandem with the appearance of candy and inflatable ghoul/monster yard decorations in the stores in August… which inevitably led to plans for ever more elaborate and gory costumes. (I still occasionally find spots of what I can only assume is fake blood here and there under the kitchen counters, but I suppose that says more about my commitment to closure and cleanliness than anything else.)

Now though, both the lads are even older yet, and it seems that gory costumes and ghoulish decorations are losing out to the distractions of middle school. Sure, there’s still some talk of dressing up as a toilet here and plans for trick-or-treating there, but the real focus this year is on… the Halloween Dance. It is, I’m told, a real Dance. With Girls.

My first reaction to the news was as predictable as it was inane: “Really…” I asked no one in particular, “you mean like a party with a punch bowl and crepe paper streamers?” My question was met with the sort of silence that is usually accompanied by nearly audible eye-rolling, but, never being one to let the obvious go, I forged ahead and lobbed the next question directly at my Lovely Bride: “Or is it like a Halloween Dance with guys asking girls to go and then hanging out and… you know, hanging out?”

You of course already know the answer to that, so I’ll just finish up by noting that now I’m just a teensy bit sorry that I spent all those years being all snarky and dismissive of Halloween as an event. Jeez, next thing you know they’ll be too grown up to celebrate Arbor Day with me. Oh well.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Holy Grail Of Fatherhood

It was not so very long ago that I found myself staring out the kitchen window on a typically bucolic New England autumn morning, complete with singing birds, dappled sunlight filtering through the maples, and fresh dew glistening on the lawn. Or, should I say, that Damn Lawn.

I realized with a heavy heart that my lawn, a cold and merciless adversary indeed, had engaged me in an endless, Sisyphean battle. It grows, I cut it. And so on. In fact, as I turned from the window in search of more coffee I mused that the whole affair made a tidy metaphor for man’s timeless struggle for survival against a cold and unfeeling universe; a universe singularly unimpressed by our hopes and dreams. Or at least my admittedly prosaic dream of not mowing that Damn Lawn yet again.

Anyway, just as I was really starting to enjoy wallowing in this exercise of existential ennui that was as ridiculous as it was pointless, I spied my older lad sitting at the breakfast table and a light went off in my head. There he sat, in the midst of his usual morning routine of shoveling pancakes into his mouth so fast it was really just a blur of forks and syrup.... all the while blissfully unaware that he was about to be pronounced fit for a rite of passage as timeless as suburbia itself.

“Hey,” I said, in the most innocuous tone I could muster, “looks like a beautiful day out there. And I’ve got a great idea.” -His fork slowed down for an instant and he favored me with a particularly wary glance.- “You’re a big, strapping lad now,” -I continued, “howzabout I teach you how to use some really loud and potentially hazardous machinery?” -There was silence and it seemed touch and go for a moment, but as soon as that fork came to a complete stop I knew that he was hooked and sweet victory was finally mine.

So here I stand on the deck enjoying the fruits of my labor; -one of the finer milestones of fatherhood, if you will. Of course now that he has the term “Hazardous Machinery” in his head I know it’s only a matter of time before he’ll be eyeing the family car… but that’ll just have to wait.

Friday, October 5, 2007

It's Columbus Day Again? 2007? Really?

That Columbus day weekend is here again can mean only one of two things: I was abducted by Homeland Security goons who took a shine to me and kept me longer than they meant, or (and this seems rather more likely) I’ve somehow managed to lose an entire year through sheer laziness.

Truly, one minute it’s still 2006 and I’m an engaged, topical-minded at-home-dad blogging away about dad/political/nonsense issues ‘til the wee hours each night, but the next thing I know it’s October 2007 and after slacking for a year I find myself feeling rather like Rip van Winkle after an epic snooze. Except without the long white beard. And I probably smell better, too.

So, a quick recap: This is no longer the Dads On The Couch as it was when I began this sometime early in 2003; when I turned 40 I became a born-again healthy guy by finding the gym and losing sixty or seventy pounds. In short, not so much with all the bacon cheese burgers and beer. Or couches. It’s all about the clean living now, baby.

And lets see, what else. 2007 has turned out to be quite a year, eh? My boys are in fifth and seventh grades enjoying all the fun and chaos that middle school has to offer, Britney continues her march toward self-parody, and the Democratic congress has retreated faster than Bruce Willis’ hairline. And since it’s October, the Yankees scraped their way into the playoffs while the Mets did whatever it is that the Mets do.

Anyway, if only because I feel like my creative life has stagnated and this outlet of mine could stand a little freshening up, here goes with Dad’s Off The Couch. I’m sure the On The Couch archive feels neglected as well, so there you go.