First there was a Man. Then a Woman. Then in quick succession, two cats, a confused dog beast, and two kids. I stay at home with them. I'm the Man

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mixed Blessings

First of all, Christmas Miracle:

Santa, you naughty little minx.
Second, this is a picture of my city's last remaining Jews--from a time when there were many and other than myself-- celebrating Chanukah. It's from the back page of the Everett Leader-Herald and News Gazette. They couldn't decide on a name. Please, for your own good, read and pay close attantion to the blurb under the photo:

Yep, that's what it says alright.



Now that's what I call a Jewian slip. I mean a Freudian Jew! I mean Jewian Je . . . *sigh*. Look, can we just chock all of this up to it being a Jew-o. I mean a type-Jew! I mean a kapo!

That's my home town newspaper. In a blurb about the city's last remaining Jews, they send'em back to Jewusalem. All the Jews that's fit to print.

Jeesh.

HM

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Santa Vs. Death

Nagging, niggling, jiggling guilt. Not a ton. Not quite a paralyzing amount, just the amount that chews out curling up space in the back of your brain or waits quietly, pressing between your shoulder blades. That's my Santa guilt. I never thought I'd have it. Santa is fun and we believe that fantasy is good for children and lord knows everyone lies to their kids at some point, even if they don't think they're doing it.

I have guilt because the following is the Peanut's belief system, and the responsibility for it rests on my wife and me.

"Marina and I were at school today." Marina is her best friend at school. They talk a lot." Marina and I were at school today and we were talking about what happens when you die--

"You were talking about when you die?"

"Yeah and we think that when you die that's it you're just dead and there is just nothing."

"What? You guys were talking about death and you think when you die there's nothing?"

"Yup that's what I think. I think you die and then *shrug*, that's it."

"Oh."

Whoa.

This is pretty much verbatim the conversation I had with the Peanut as we took advantage of a particularly sun spalshed afternoon to make a stop at the playground on the way home from school. Certain and unfazed by the absolute end, the Peanut hangs lightly by her legs from the monkey bars.

At first I allowed myself to wonder whose ideas these were. Is my little fairy princess the existential boogeyman of kindergarten room 8 or was it her friend Marina?

That question was answered for me a few days later when she told me that in school that day during recess she had been spreading her secular gospel of the damned throughout her class. She had told Alexis and Velma  about the end of existence. The lack of eternity. And, "we all agreed." And lo the Peanut spoke from the monkey bars on high, and proclaimed that death is final, and saw that it was good. And the people followed.

Meanwhile, the existence of Santa has been confirmed.

"Sometimes Marina and I talk about the Grinch and we wonder if he's real."

I shrug. "Oh yeah?"

She grins. "Yeah. Nobody knows. But Santa is real though."

So there you have it. The afterlife is a dream, but Santa is definitely coming and, in the Peanut's head, he's probably part fairy.

And I feel guilty about this in part at least because I'm an atheist. Let me qualify that a little. I'm not anti-god or even anti-religious. How can I be? I'm an atheist. I can't be anti something I don't believe in. I mean I could, but what's the point? Religion isn't evil and it isn't divine, it's human.

And that belief, along with our willingness to talk about god in an objective way, to sing prayers during Rosh Hashanah and Chanukah, to answer "We don't know, nobody really does," when the kids ask what happens when you die, to believe in Santa and fairies right along with them, says to me that we leave room for faith, we don't deny them it. Nor would we. If they do end up atheists (Deniers of Gawd!), I'd rather it was something they came to themselves rather than for the reason most people have a given religion . . . because their parents do.

Yet there it is. Faith Denied. So it really feels like lying when I play up Santa. Really really. Who am I to derail my tiny philosopher from her search for truth with my silly, mythical bullshit?

I'm her dad, that's who. And I guess if I've thus far failed her in terms of allowing her the room to experience religious faith, the least I can do is give her the space and encouragement to believe in a magical fat guy with genius Elven slaves and a sleigh that travels at near light speed solely through the power of reindeer farts.  And also fairies are real. And the Glass Ceiling isn't.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

HM

Source


Monday, November 19, 2012

Another F*cking Thankful Post?

This is what my family is thankful for. Yours will be too. If you've never seen it before, lucky you. If you have, don't let that stop you. Please enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.





Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Apparently, Now It's Only Taxes

Death. With the election now over and everyone having settled back into their everyday levels of political interest, I figured now was a good time to bring up death. Not random death. Specific Death.

Here in Massachusetts this year there were 3 major ballot* questions up for voting. One was about cars: that one passed. Another was medical weed: that one was passed around in a circle until everyone got hungry. And the most contentious one was Question 2 the, "Death With Dignity" provision. It stated that anyone who had less than 6 months to live, who was of sound mind, and who asked--verbally and in writing--for the prescription twice with each time separated by 15 days, could be prescribed a bottle of 100 Seconal capsules which they would then have to open and empty into a full glass of water, then drink the water, then die.

I got way behind this ticket. The WeednDeath ticket. I got behind them on Twitter and on my ancient nemesis, Facebook. I even mentioned it on my real life identity Facebook page.

Weed won, Death lost. I was flabbergasted. I really thought death had it sown up, but I was wrong.

A lot of groups, medical and otherwise, came out against it.  I'll quote one, the American Academy of Neurology:

"[I]t has long been understood that some actions taken to relieve suffering might also have the effect of hastening death; such actions have traditionally been regarded as morally and ethically permissible as long as the intent of the physician has been to relieve suffering and not to directly cause the patient's death."

So if you're dying and you want the right to end your life sooner rather than somewhat later then it's, "No, sorry. We'll kill you slow, but not quick. It's against our morals."

I also don't understand why one precludes the other. If we're really interested in easing the suffering of the terminally ill, it seems both logical and compassionate to allow them to float around in an opiate utopia until the day they wake-up and decide they've had enough of this shit, bring on the pills.

There was also the Massachusetts Medical Society. They worried that the person who was asked to be the "witness to the patient's signed request could also be an heir." Nice to know the Mass. Medical Society has that dark a view of human nature. It's kind of surprising they don't want us all dead, with that outlook. Besides, if the patient is of sound mind, it doesn't matter.

They also state that "assisted suicide is not necessary to improve the quality of life at the end of life." Thanks for the unsubstantiated opinion there, scientific body. And also the wording of that statement is wonderful. If it's the end of life, then that means it's death. I'm pretty sure dying greatly improves the quality of one's death.

My favorite part of the Mass. Med Society's platform against the provision was that, "Doctors should not participate in assisted suicide." No reason, just because. So there and nyah.

Then there was The Western Massachusetts Pharmacists society. Sounds like a fun group. Their reason was pretty much just "because it's not helpful." Oh yeah?

I can understand being a pharmacist and being uncomfortable with dispensing this kind of drug. I can also understand keeping your mouth shut and doing your fucking job. Besides, there is no knowing if the drug was going to be dispensed at your local Walgreen's. Unlikely considering the people who need it will literally be on their death beds rather than standing in line behind the guy with the restless leg syndrome.

It really comes down to three things, this unwillingness to allow people a basic human right: Money religion, and the American family myth. Hospitals and pharmaceutical companies make a lot of money (Big Pharma: "We heart prolonged agony") off of keeping people alive just a wee bit longer. And everyone knows from The Passion of The Christ, Jesus is waaaay into suffering.

The provision was ahead in the polls for the longest time, too. Then a series of misleading commercials (By the way, is the word misleading still necessary these days when you're talking about commercials or do we all assume now that that is the norm?) financed by a ton of money mostly from out-of-state Catholic Dioceses helped to turn the tide. Big Jesus.

Some people said it was because there was no provision in the bill for alerting families as to the patient's decision. But come now, fuck family. If you've got less than six months to live and you don't want to play out your time suspended high above your bed in a thick, dark, morphine cloud with the hopes that you'll get three extra months to watch from afar as your loved ones file in to cry on your hospital sheets or stay away because they just can't handle it well, I'm cool with that. Not to mention those who don't have families anyway.

There was also some mention made that a psychiatric evaluation wasn't required. And that is true, technically. But what was required was a patient who "would have to be an adult resident who is medically determined to be mentally capable of making and communicating health care decisions."

My guess, and it is merely the humble guess of a humble non-medical professional, is that most doctors would seek a psychiatric consult before they moved forward with the prescription. Could be that I'm wrong and that doctors all over the Bay State would be jauntily signing their patients lives away, ignoring both the moral quandary and the probable malpractice suit that would result in assisting the suicide of someone who right before they took the medication had been screaming how they, "needed the red pills right away" because their name was "Neo" and they were the "Chosen One."

Since a similar law was passed in Oregon in 1997, less than a thousand people have requested the pills and only about 600 actually took them. There is no panic here. No slippery slope. No sudden, giant, statistically significant uptick in the number of people who die slightly sooner than they were supposed to. There is just choice, human rights, and the legions of assholes who stand against them. Better luck next year.

HM


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*There were 5 questions total, but two of them were rhetorical.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Plumbed Depths

Of late, we've had some plumbing issues around the house, and it's been my job to remedy them. I'm no professional, but I'd say my wife is pretty pleased. Boom. Plumbing is full of sexy, sexy words like ballcock, nipple, insert, pipe, drain, wrench, and putty. Ooh yeah, putty. Seriously though, I did get lucky this weekend.

I worked on both our bathroom and kitchen sinks. From what I could diagnose, one had a leak under the sink, while the other had a leak under the sink.

The kitchen sink's sprayer hose (yeah baby) had a hole in it while upstairs the bathroom sink was just leaking.

The kitchen sink seemed like the easier place to start. First thing to do, head to Home Depot and wander around like a war refugee until someone led me to the front door. Once inside I made a beeline directly for the new fake xmas tree display whereupon I peed on one and set three others on fire before security appeared and briskly informed me that they completely agreed with my sentiment.

Formalities dispensed with, I grabbed a cart and zig-zagged my way toward the plumbing department. Due to the approaching Stormzilla™ there were generators and shop vacs for sale all over the store. I was busy attempting to open and attach 11 shop vacs to a generator in order to create a modern day coach or what I like to call a "Horseless Carriage" when security showed up and briskly informed me that Maglites hurt a lot.

From there I met a guy who was known store wide as the "master plumber." He himself informed me he was merely at the level of journeyman. I told him that my level was stud if you asked my wife. He threatened to call security

He showed me the supplies I needed and I stocked up. (A new hose, a big pair of channel lock pliers, some washers, some teflon tape, a basin wrench, baby. Sooo hot.)

On the way out the door I took some time to stop off at the shingles department and offer them some ointment for that . Security had a good laugh at that while three of them tasered me until I started to smolder
.

Back home, I set to work. I scrunched down into the swampy mess that was under our sink. I should say now I'm not what you would call mechanically inclined. Or very inclined at all. I'm inclined to do as little as possible. But this is our house and we had a problem and the kids just kept crying every time I shoved them under there, so it fell to me.

Once there, I took the basin wrench and scraped it back and forth along the underside of the sink until I was positive that I had absolutely no idea how to use a basin wrench.

The basin wrench is a wrench whose head is designed to bend sideways so that you can press the head just flush enough against the underside of my kitchen sink so as to render the tool useless. After taking out my anger on the cat ("You call that a tail? Looks like a fucking pipe cleaner if you ask me. Your mother was part squirrel.") I went to plan b:  Break the knob on the cold water shut-off.

I'm getting things out of order here.  In chronological fact, I broke the knob almost immediately because I knew I would have to do it later anyway, and why not consolidate so as to increase efficiency?

So as I worked, cold water was dribbling continuously out of the top of the unhooked water line like  pee from an old man's penis.

Because I couldn't detach the hose from under the sink, this meant I would have to take the entire faucet out to get at the nut holding the hose. I struggled and grunted and grunted and struggled and then I got back to work under the sink. I semi-succesfully managed to remove the faucet, after which I realized I had to race back to home depot for more putty and a quick round of hide in the ficus until security goes by.

I got home, slapped the new hose on, replaced the faucet, and congratulated myself on having made the need for cold water in my kitchen obsolete via the breaking of the cold water. It runs at a thin trickle. Which was my nickname in high school.

The bathroom sink was a whole different sink related situation. There, the leak was probably caused by the 4 toothpaste caps, one toothbrush, one double A battery, one ferret, one thinly rolled scroll of Chinese astrology animals, and seven farthings I found when I opened the up the pipes.

As it turns out, this fix was a breeze. Due to the age of my house--it's been carbon dated to the year eighteen hundred and we should just fucking move--and the creative nonchalance of the former owners, I found the pipes gerry rigged in a fashion that my endlessly resourceful in a fringe apocalypse survivor sort of way mind could understand. I fixed the gerry and jiggled the rig and whammo, no more leak. Hopefully it'll hold until the plumber gets here to "fix" the cold water. My wife insists. Me, I'm glad we've been freed of the totalitarian, capitalist, soul crushing yoke of expectations that is instant cold water. The proletariat shall no longer suffer the indignity of washed vegetables!

Admittedly, the hardship is great. having to walk all the way upstairs for cold water. It's as if we're living in an undeveloped land where one has to walk a mile to the watering hole and then carefully balance a brimming earthen jug on our heads. Like Detroit.

HM



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Of Fairies and whatnot.

The Peanut believes in Fairies. Hard. In fact the Peanut believes that she is a fairy. Possibly their erstwhile ruler banished long ago because of some horrible bureaucratic oversight. This belief was implanted by her mother, the Aunties in Maine, and me. There have been fairy houses built from shoe boxes and birch bark and love (you need a glue gun for the love part) hidden in dappled glens in the nearby Maine woods. Gifts left and found and reciprocated at sacred stumps in the light of a full moon. Notes written in the strange language of the Fae folk. Use of the phrase "Fae folk." We really go overboard. We encourage this belief in part because she is so tiny, so mercurial, so ethereal in her way that not only is it appropriate, we hope it's good for a little confidence too. Maybe it'll give her a bulwark against always being the smallest. "I may be the smallest kid in class but eventually I'll be able fuck your shit up magic style, so it's all good." Or something to that effect.

Eventually because the deal is, she's not a fairy yet. She's got fairy blood sure, but to become an actual fairy takes years of training. Years of studying things like wood craft and fishing, reading and writing, math and science, wild edibles, swimming, and flying. It takes eating your fruits and vegetables and being nice to your brother. It takes being kind to animals. It takes a lot of manipulative parental bullshit.

But she believes now. She'll often tell you she can, "fly for one second" before jumping in to the air and flapping her arms like a hummingbird. She'll ask you to touch her ears sometimes and then ask if you can "feel how they're getting pointier." Joke's on her when she graduates from college with a Forestry degree and an entire wardrobe of bedazzled camouflage only to realizes the only magic power she has is the ability to apply for a job at Starbucks.

Teased? Apathetic? Hungry? Read more at Dadcentric!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Be a Mensch, not a Gonif.

Hey. This guy right here runs a 5k soon.

Whoops. I meant this guy.
He goes by Always Home And Uncool And this is how he actually feels about running.
But he's doing it anyway because of this girl.

Who could blame him? She is his daughter and she is fighting a rare and often deadly disease called Juvenile Myositis. Which is why I bring all this up. See the bar near the side of the top of this post? Click it, donate 5 bucks to cure JM by October 12th, and support AHAU's run, and I will go on twitter and retweet whatever you want. I repeat whatever you want.* I promise I actually have some pretty influential followers on there, so you never know who might see and enjoy your particular brand of mishegas. 

HM
*Must be legal. http://www.curejm.org/

Monday, September 24, 2012

Based On A True Story

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess. As befitting a princess, she lived a life of leisure.
She awoke approximately at noon each day, drank copious amounts of Diet Coke, ate a breakfast of whatever was handy, and then proceeded to play video games until the moon rose in the sky and the need for food, or booze, or marijuana, or what-have-you, drove her from her palatial apartment and out into the streets with her other (less) royal merrymaking friends.

There they flitted from pub to pub, sharing stories, quaffing ales and spirits, dancing and falling, singing and puking until the sun threatened the night and it was time to return.

And this was how her life went, give or take some studying here and there for her royal degree.

Among her royal merrymakers, there was a handsome and charming commoner. Quick with a joke and a laugh, he befriended the princess. And her suitor, the duke. The duke came from a wealthy family, known far and wide for their taste and generosity. He was a fine duke and a good man, and he treated the princess with respect and dignity.

The handsome and charming commoner took to living in the castle of the princess and the duke. He became close friends with both of them.

And here is where our story turns. For the commoner loved the duke and so gave him his love where he could. They laughed at the mummers farce known as the Simpsons, walked to the great bizarre called Harvard Square, drank Heffenreffer Private Stock (The Malt Liquor with the Imported Taste) as a point of pride, and it was good. But while the commoner loved the duke, he was in love with the princess. Of course. She was a princess, after all. But that love was not to be. And befitting his place, he knew this, and did not despair, but rather lived in the glow of the royal couple, happy to play their fool. He was really good at playing that fool. He could fool the shit out of whatever needed fooling. He even fooled himself, from time to time.

The duke was good and faithful. Emotionally unavailable at times, but still, very nice. Also smart. Really smart. And the princess loved him.  Here and there, the relationship lacked passion, and there was an occasional misunderstanding of need, and perhaps a smidgen of different priorities, but what relationship doesn't suffer from these things, from time to time? Besides, it was none of the fool's business.

The fool provided laughter at a moment's notice, and a sympathetic ear to which ever royal seemed to need one. The feelings he felt (because that's how you know they're feelings. you feel them) for the princess were almost never considered. The fool buried them--along with many other metaphorical bodies--in a haze of pot smoke and beer and general goofing off. Which, everyone agreed, was for the best. The fool was as good at goofing off as he was at fooling around, and so a delight at parties or other gatherings that had need of energetic and unapologetic frivolity.

This went on for many years. And never did the fool reveal his feelings to anyone. Especially himself. The only tell tale sign that the fool was anything other than the loyal jester that he appeared to be was his friendship. Or rather, how that friendship was applied. For everyone thought that he was the duke's best friend. And why wouldn't they? They drank awful beer together, they got drunk and jumped off things for fun, they saw Barb Wire together. I mean, c'mon. Total besties.

It happened, however, that this was not the case. The truth was, the commoner was the princess's best friend, and she was his. And this only the two of them knew. And they spoke of it almost never. It would take a mighty pull of the tube and a rare moment alone for either one of them to even hint that the one was the other's best friend. They talked and laughed with each other like no one else, but smoked a shit ton of weed together too, so six of one a half dozen of the other, if you get my drift.

And so it went, year after year. The couple going on, the fool staying with them. Until . . . the duke wanted to travel. He wanted to backpack through Europe. He hadn't done it in college. Nothing wrong with that. The fool couldn't afford it, and at the point was attempting to fool people professionally, and the princess was involved in the beginning of her career. But the duke didn't care. He'd go alone, if he had too. And so he and the princess talked and talked. Blah blah blah. And it came to pass that there was no longer a romantic love between them. And so he went. And left the princess alone with the fool.

And the fool, seeing his chance, jumped all over that shit. He confessed his love to the princess and to his delight, she did the same. He emailed the duke at an internet cafe in Belgium. The duke was pretty cool with it. And it's been happily ever after ever since.

Turns out that fool was pretty fucking clever, for a fool.

The End.

Monday, September 10, 2012

MONEY TIME! Update!

As you can all see, there is a new widget over there. No there. Right next to the post. At the top. The top. There we go. Juvenile Myositis is something no family should ever have to live with, but many do. I'm not really the person to articulate how frightening a diagnosis of this disease can be for a family. Or how long and hard the fight is against it. Or how there is no cure. For that you need to visit here, here, here, here, and here.

It's a rare disease that afflicts relatively few but affects many. Including this little girl and her family. As written about by her dad, Always Home and Uncool. I'm pretty sure I buffeted whatever readership I have with this cause last year. And now it's here again. Like hurricane season. Let me offer you a deal: 

Think of it like a public radio fundraiser. Around my parts, the public radio station promises that if they raise so much money for programming by a certain point, they'll skip the next scheduled fundraiser. And they make good on that promise, too. I will make you the same promise right here and now and in print. If we can raise a mere 250$ for this cause by the end of the month--and we're already 1/5 there--I  promise that I too will skip the next public radio station fundraiser.


HM 

I almost forgot . . . The above mentioned dad, Always home etc., is running--along with his son--his first ever 5k in order to raise money for Cure JM. So please pledge your support. Whatever you can afford. Because this man, he runs like the wind when you consider that the wind has no legs.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Boston in Film

We re-watched the last third of The Town last night. Don't hate.

There was Ben Affleck deftly slinging his Boston accent. There was Boston once again being portrayed as a modern day version of prohibition era Chicago. Violent Irish (in this case) mobsters, shooting it out in broad daylight in front of a really good place to get clam chowdah. That shit never happens around here. We almost never have shootouts. At least not in front of the places where you can get good clam chowdah.

And that accent. And the dialogue. In the movies, at least within a certain socio-economic archetype, the word Fahkin' is unnecessarily prevalent. Ubiquitous, even. Very.

Every pause or salient point is brought home with a "fahkin'."  Everyone in the city is a fahkin' tough guy. It's like punctuation. "I like fahkin' ice cream fahkin cake fahkin cookies fahkin pie.  I gotta huge fahkin' sweet tooth." People here don't talk like that in real life.  Mostly. Basically. At least not all the time.

"My parents owned a floweh shop when I was growin' up, so I know all yaw fahkin' flowehs. Ya gotchah fahkin' peonies, fahkin' alestroemedia, fahkin' black eyed susans, fahkin' snap dragons, fahkin' Irises. All that fahkin' shit. That shit fahkin smells great and it's fahkin beautiful, too."

We watch a show called Falling Skies on TBS. Don't hate. It's post the alien invasion of earth and the humans have formed a resistance. The aliens are these crab/lobster looking things. It has Noah Wiley, but we watch it anyway because we like sci-fi stuff and the first season is set in and around Boston.

The thing is, no one has a Boston accent. Not the worst thing. The acting is shaky enough without throwing a bad accent into it. But I wish someone would make a sci-fi movie with Marky Mark as the hero where he just rips into his Boston accent, Hollywood style.

"O, what? You fahkin' aliens ah gonna come to my fahkin town and kill my fahkin' family? Fahhhk you, you fahkin' quee-ah. I'll fahkin dip you in buttah, you lobstah lookin' mutha fahkah. I'll kick yaw fahkin' ass"

As he hits the self-destruct button on the mother ship:

"Look, I don't caiah if yaw name is fahkin' President Roosevelt thaiah Chahlie. We got fouah minutes until this fahkin' place fahkin explodes big time and shit."

You wouldn't sit down for ninety minutes of that if the special effects were good?  Of fahkin' course you would.

HM

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Elderberry Wine

It's hard to respect my elders. I used to. Back in the day, elders were people who deserved respect. Because they'd made it to being elder and that was amazing. The village elder was respected by all as a voice of reason and leadership because no one could figure out how he became so elder. This is something on which we all pretty much agree. As late as 1900, it took a rare combination of smarts and luck to make it past 40.

But now medical science has conspired to make us all into elders. It doesn't take anyone special to be old now. Nowadays old people are--or will be--the same dopes and morons you see bumbling around at 25--or 50--texting while driving and drinking 5 hour energy drink. An endless supply of selfish, mediocre, old people riding medical science into the future. Evolution's oopsy.

The largest and most annoying wave of these defilers of Nature (these scornful, mocking, ancient, deriders of God's Will!) are the Baby Boomers. I'm not saying all Baby Boomers are bad, I'm just saying generally, as a generation, they remind me of the seagulls from Finding Nemo ("MINE. MINE. MINE."). Entitled egoists grasping at old age the way they grasp at everything else not nailed down in this country. Aging beyond reason while they continue to go up and down the 12 Steps, read self-help books, write self-help books, and take credit for everything good that happened after 1960.

Here's a list of people who are not Baby Boomers: Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Janice Joplin, Bob Dylan, Ken Kesey, Gloria Steinem, Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, John F. KennedyMalcom X, Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and Rosa Parks. Here's a list of people who are Baby Boomers: The fucking BeeGees.

Politically, the first time the very oldest of the Baby Boomers got to vote was 1964. Lyndon Johnson. I think we can agree that their voting record has been a little spotty ever since. Really though, I'm generalizing. Some of my best friends are Baby Boomers.

Besides, what are you going to do? We're stuck with them. An entire generation of people who didn't eat right, didn't exercise, did drugs like other generations do air, polluted the planet, ran up our debt, and sold out everything, living on and on and on all the while telling us how great they were because Woodstock and Civil Rights*. Civil Rights are cool--eroding* in the face of a largely baby boomer controlled government--but cool. And Woodstock sounds like it was great fun. Otherwise, meh, Baby Boomers. Meh.  The largest voting block in history gets everything it wants and then realizes what it really wants is money and food. Where is the shame? I mean c'mon. You gave us the 80's.

HM

*With the help of a government not at that time governed by baby boomers.

*Except for gun rights and corporate personhood rights. So you know, way to go Baby Boomers. Civil rights and stuff, yay.


Over at DadCentric, I wrote something that while much less confrontational, is at least as inflammatory. It's about camping and bathing. Good luck.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Meatballs

The Great Outdoors. It's Great, isn't it? And it's really, really outside. And big. And not inside. And we are going camping in it. This week. In the White Mountains. Crawford's Notch area. On Tuesday. I post this so if no one hears from us for a while, you'll know what to tell the authorities. We're due back Saturday night. I'll be getting a pizza.

We're going to be just like that family of campers in that one book you read/tv survivalist expert show you watch with the small, almost not worth noting exceptions that: we'll be in a campground and our car will be parked less than 25 yards away. And we have a pop-up tent. No assembly required, just extend the poles and pop-up the middle and bam, instant wilderness shelter. And a big ass cooler full of food. And beer. And we'll be less than 20 miles from Story Land theme park (excited? you bet). But otherwise, totally hard core wilderness conquering motherfuckers. Like Lewis and Clark with a propane stove and an after theme park dinner planned at local landmark the Spaghetti Shed. But without any sort of Native American guide. Except for Mapquest. Also, there's a ton of outlet shopping. But that's including an L.L. Bean Outlet so again, nature and down vests and shit.

This is the 2nd time we've camped both this summer and ever. The first was at a campground in western Massachusetts on the shore of Tully Lake. Really had fun. Only went for two days. This trip is four straight days of nature lovin', private showerless fun. There are showers on the campground. And a store where we can get most anything we'll need. But still, trees and chipmunks and shit everywhere.

Also, this is supposedly bear country. I have always wanted to wrassle a bear. I think I can win. I've been sharpening my claws on the local telephone poles and Bear Necessities is practically my theme song.

Other things to tell you: I quit my job at Foods That Are Not Broken. Just wanted more time with the flim-fam. Especially with school bearing down and the Peanut has/has had a bunch of doctor's appointments mostly due to her stature. In the Fairy Princess community, she's considered average height.

And, the Pumpkin Man had his first rush to the emergency room injury. I wrote about that over at Dadcentric.

Finally, remember, if anyone asks: White Mountains, Crawford's Notch, last seen trying to suplex a black bear.  Thank you.

HM

P. S. For a real "stuff that happens to me when I try to go camping post," fuck this pithy bullshit and go here, if you haven't already. Oy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Camping Checklist

Tent and rainfly? Check

Sleeping bags and bedding? Check

Food (and beer) stuffs packed and prepared to be loaded into cooler first thing in the morning? Check

Clothes and toiletries? Check

Games, cards, books and other rainy day necessities? Check

Take the dog out for a walk at 12:30 am before going to bed and watch helplessly as she gets nailed in the face and chest by a skunk while you're only 4 steps from your back gate? Fucking check.

Skunk spray is yellow and has a very strong chemical smell to it up close. We used a combination of wd-40 sprayed right on her fur and a solution made of 1qt 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and a teaspoon of dawn dish detergent.

It seems to have worked after 3 applications. I am now drinking. Thank goodness my wife heard me screaming--tragically ineffectively--outside at the dog right below our bedroom window and got up to check on us.

Fucking skunk even tried to scamper away and my moron dog just couldn't let her. Wish us luck on our camping trip. Maybe she'll get eaten by a bear.

HM

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Believe That


"They baptized the baby on the 16th."

"Yeah I know, at the Methodist church. How'd you feel about it?"

"Well, it's not Catholic, but at least they believe in something."

We hear that kind of thing all the time. "Well, at least they believe in something. 1"

Even leaving aside the condescending nature of the phrase what really floors my wife and I is how widely that sentiment is thrown around.

In the interest of full disclosure, we're atheists. Not in your face, religion sucks, my-Nothingness-shark-ate-your-Jesus-Fish atheists, but mind our own business, keep our lack of faith to ourselves, mention it only if it comes up in conversation, atheists.2


"Hey, you wanna watch the Red Sox game?"

"No thanks, I'm an atheist."

So maybe that phrase rankles us more that it does other people. Or maybe we get to hear it more often than some. Mostly though, it feels like a widely held belief in our area of the world. Like automatically, just the act of believing in something makes everything better. Like that's the important thing. Faith itself. It matters little what people believe, as long as they believe in something.

"Tiny beanies and magic underwear they have to wear all the time? And they can't eat bacon like, ever? Holy shit. But you know, at least they believe in something."

"Jesus's Non-existent American vacation and Hebrews in America thousands of years before BC and no archaeological proof and magic spectacles and Utah? That is weird. But you know, at least they believe in something."

"Mind control and cutting you off from your family and threats and evil space aliens? And the Tom Cruise?!  Freaky but . . .  at least they believe in something."

"Hell fires and horned demons? Crazy tall hats? Magic cannibalism? And no sex at all unless it's between a clergyman and a little boy3? That 's pretty fucked up but well . . . at least they believe in something."

It almost feels like as long as a monotheistic God4 is involved it doesn't matter how a person worships. Human sacrifice, bestiality, worshiping at Carl Jr's, calling Jesus "Mr. Jeezle." Whatever. As long as a person believes in something, they have a shot at the presidency.

If you're going to believe in something, then believe in it. And when someone believes in something different, good for them. We'll find out who's right eventually. Until then though, a little respect please. If we can't drop that sentiment from our culture altogether then just once I'd like someone to say, "You believe that death is it, no greater power has its hand on the steering wheel, Michael J Fox was once upon a time one of comedy's greatest treasures, a good beach day is better than a day at the spa, Moonlighting never gets it's due as a classic, and if you just keep eating ice cream and pizza you'll eventually emerge through a cholesterol wormhole where on the other side those things are actually good for you? That is some dumb shit. But, I mean well, at least you believe in something."




1 Maybe this phrase is some sort of attempt at religious tolerance. I doubt it though. I'm pretty sure when people start lining up for Holy Wars, you don't really get a lot of "We'd kill you as a heretic but you know, at least you believe in something.

2 For those who've read here before and are wondering about our quest for religion, or at least a temple we can go to for some good, clean, Passover fun, no, we haven't completely abandoned it. We've visited a couple temples and it still comes up in conversation. It's just a big commitment for us in terms of my wife converting. Also, we haven't found a temple that feels right yet. Maybe the feeling of pursuing religion doesn't feel quite right either. I'm not sure.  Either way, Homemaker Family and the Quest for Guilt continues. 

3Possible cheap shot. 

4 And white. Or at least followed by lots of whites.  And vaguely Christian. Probably, someone who practiced voodoo or believed in Santeria could not be elected president in this country. Unless they were running against an atheist.




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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

OMG!!! WHAT HAPPENED?!



In a special episode of MFTBP, a guest post from the estimable Mrs. HomemakerMan. As talented as she is beautiful, my lovely wife shares with us a true story. 


A stupid little cat scratch… sometimes it’s just easier to give them the flippin’ bandage



Players: Peanut (5 years old), Pumpkin Man (3 years old), Ivy Pickles (5 months old), Mommy (40 yrs old)

Conversation 1 – between the kitchen and the dining room

Peanut (in tears): Mommy! I’m bleeding really bad!
Mommy (panicked): What?! What happened?!
Peanut (matter of fact): Ivy scratched me, like really bad…
Mommy (washing a long, shallow scratch):It’s fine. What were you doing to her?
Peanut: (guiltily) Carrying her. (rising toward hysteria) But it isn’t fine! Look at this blood! I need a Band-Aid!
Mommy (rational): It’s too long for a Band-Aid, besides it’s not a big deal. Go play.

Conversation 2 – overheard in the playroom

Peanut (whining): Pumpkin Man, look at what Ivy did to me!
Pumpkin Man (concerned): Does it hurt, Peanut?
Peanut (proud): Yes, and look at the blood.
Pumpkin Man (awed): hmmmm …that is a lot of blood. A real lot!
Peanut (defiant): Yup, and Mommy won’t give me a Band-Aid.
Pumpkin Man (deeply concerned): Why?
Peanut (conspiratorial): She says it’s too big… hurts so much…
Pumpkin Man (amazed): Uh oh, look at that blood! Squeeze it again!
Peanut (authoritarian): Here, try to get the blood on this…


Conversation 3 – In the dining room

Mommy (frustrated): Peanut, come here!
Peanut (fearful): What Mommy? Do you need to see my scratch again? No doctors!
Mommy (acquiescent): No, no doctors. Let’s put a bandage on that scratch, okay?
Peanut (hopeful): Yes, please.
Mommy (resigned): Better?
Peanut (satisfied): Yup, all better.

-- End Scene

Epilogue: I still don’t know why they were trying to collect her blood – could have been drug testing, DNA experimentation, or genetic modification… I just knew that at that point it was easier to give her the flippin’ bandage.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pickled Kitteh





This is Ivy Pickles

 

She is an asshole.
She spends much of her time living either in the shoe tree or in our food like some sort of huge, blue-eyed, boll weevil.

She is fiendishly cute and cuddly.
She will steal your heart right before she steals your sandwich.

This is Ivy Pickles.
And she is an asshole.

In other news this:

What stars shine and fade and shine again in the sky; warming upturned faces with the glow of patriotism writ loud upon a black canvas? Why, those would be fireworks. I fucking hate fireworks. 


You can read more over at ever lovin' DadCentric


Happy Independence Day.


HM

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Strength in Numbers

There comes a time in every family's life when decisions must be made. When the petty bickering and every day disagreements that make up the white noise of our day-to-day existence must be drowned out, turned down, muffled. When we must pull together as a unit and face the onslaught that is life. The raging torrent of darkness that washes the light into gutters of malice.  The World at large. We stand in that torrent as a family. We embrace one another and hold tight and hope. And love. And maybe that torrent breaks around the bulwark of our collective soul. Maybe the strength of our bond redirects the hungry current and the waters find easier prey. Maybe, just maybe, we get a new kitty.

Which we did. Get a new kitty. We're back up to three now. I don't know why we need three kitties. Maybe it's in case the other two get drafted. She's about four months old and appears thus far to be full blooded Siamese. We found her online on a local animal shelter website and jumped all over that shit. 

You know how hard it is to find an actual full-blooded Siamese cat at an animal rescue? Imagine how hard it would be to find a Unicorn or one of Bill Gates's kids at an orphanage. But there she was, so we grabbed her. 

It wasn't easy. We had to give references and work numbers. We were in competition with another woman. We won because we have another young cat and because we stole our competition's identity and ran up her credit cards betting on Siamese cat fighting rings. 

She is cute as hell and after kicking around on the streets for a bit, she'll eat anything, anywhere, at anytime. So far upon waking in the morning I've found an empty can of Pringles, a mangled cereal box, and a dozen cracked and empty eggshells. The weird part is, we don't even eat Pringles. 

We got her because we lost both our other Siamese over the last two years or so (I really need to update the characters list), and my wife really missed having one in the house. You know, because they yowl like babies and demand to be spoiled, so who wouldn't want that kind of per around?

We let the kids name her. Sometimes, families make mistakes. We let the kids name her and here's what they came up with: the cat's name is Ivy Pickles. Seriously.  That shit is like, Brady Bunch precocious. I don't know how I feel about referring to a living thing as Ivy Pickles for the next 15-20 years, but what choice do I have. The Family has spoken.

I wish I had pics to post, but I don't. I will as soon as I have them. Be warned, she is really frigging cute.

In other news, We went to our first at the movie theater movie this week. I wrote about it over at DadCentric.

HM

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Circus Peanuts

I can admit to some provincialism now. Some sort of false air of superiority brought on by negativity, New England born mistrust of emotion (any emotions. Unless taciturn is an emotion.) and a dash of easy, widely acceptable, anti-French sentiment. But now that I've see it I can say with certainty: Cirque Du Soleil fucking rocks.


Caveat one: Our seats were great and the tickets were comps. I think I would've enjoyed it as much had I been the sort of person who could afford to spend that kind of money per ticket on an evening at the Cirque, but still, free helps.


Caveat two: There were times when the thematic artifice they employed wore a little thin, and it probably wouldn't stand up to a rigorous inspection. But in the end, when you have talented, bat shit crazy people who happen to be some of the best in the world at what they do doing it for your entertainment less than twenty feet away, who gives a shit about a little contrivance?


The Show is entitled Totem and from the website, the set-up is this:

"TOTEM traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. The characters evolve on a stage evoking a giant turtle, the symbol of origin for many ancient civilizations.
Inspired by many founding myths, TOTEM illustrates, through a visual and acrobatic language, the evolutionary progress of species.
Somewhere between science and legend TOTEM explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential."
I think the best advice comes from this review also via the website:
"Forget reality and let this magical world full of spectacular acts enchant you."
Ze.nl, Amsterdam

Because what the set-up does is allow for a loose theme that ties the show together as well as some spectacular costumes and set pieces.

The show started with a big turtle shell style-- the big turtle being a popular beginning of the world myth-- tarp and when the tarp was lifted there was a sort of skeleton underneath filled with acrobats whose costumes and choreography were more than reminiscent of neon geckos. The tarp lifted and they all started doing crazy, in sync, acrobat type shit.

Also, did I mention that we only got two tickets? And that we couldn't find a babysitter because we've never hired one before because we're paranoid? My wife really wanted to go. Her sacrifice was great. I took the Peanut with me. I will dispense with the suspense right now and say that she loved it, that she behaved perfectly, that the show started at eight and got out at about 10:50, that we didn't get home until 11:30, and that she was awake and happy the whole time. If that's not an endorsement then . . . I will write some more endorsement.

There were two folks dressed as Native Americans who did work with hula-hoops that made the damn hula-hoop seem magical.  Complicated geometrical shapes, eagle wings, and nimble feet.

There was a live band that played the score to the whole thing. They were very good.. 

Our seats were close enough to be able to look into the performers' eyes and see them set themselves for each big stunt. We could see the emotion ripple under the composed surfaces of their faces. 

A troop of asian women came out riding ten foot high unicycles with stacks of bowls balanced on their heads which they proceed to place on their feet and kick to each other or back on to their own heads. This might have been my favorite part because on two of the bowl tricks, they missed. And the composure of the lead unicyclist, the unflappable nature of the entire group was amazing to see up close. They just did it again, man. Naked humanity. They may have gotten the loudest ovation of the night. 

Throughout there was a masked acrobat who dropped down from the ceiling, his costume bedazzled to the point that he became a human disco ball, and he would offer, I think, divine inspiration. At one point he passed what looked like a brightly glowing egg to some cavemen types and then a bunch of shit started to happen. This oval of inspiration showed up again and again throughout the show, as did the bedazzled muse being. 

There was a Darwin type "scientist " figure who did the oddest, coolest juggling act. He stood in what amounted to a giant, upside down, erlenmeyer flask, and slung brightly lit, color changing balls all over the damn thing. 

There was a troop of dudes who held 25 foot tall poles on their shoulders while other climbed them and did shit one should never do when 25 feet of the ground. 

There was a another troop who used three flexible balance beam type devices to do crazy feats of balance and courage all while said beams were being held on the shoulders of other troop members. 

There were space alien women who did some sort of spinning tricks with sparkly blankets which sounds horrible but was actually quite entertaining. We called them the Alien pizza twirlers. 


There was an act done on the rings by two very muscular men and one completely JACKED woman. This woman would eat T2 Linda Hamilton for breakfast. It's uncommon for a woman to be proficient at the rings at it's because most of them aren't built like She-Hulk.


There were two very good clowns. One who jabbered continuously in Itanglish and one who remained entirely silent. 


There was a retractable section of stage that extended and then bent backwards like a yoga teacher's spine.


There were trapeze artists that inhabited the trapeze like chimpanzees inhabit tree limbs.


In terms of contrivance, here's the most memorable example. Two canoes were "rowed" out onto the side of the stage. One held a Native American princess type, the other her erstwhile suitor.  She was sad and beautiful and when she stood up and stepped out of the canoe, she was wearing roller skates. Old school roller skates. She crossed to the middle of the stage laid down on a round platform that might've been 7' in diameter. Then the roller skate wearing suitor got out of his canoe, and they did a Sleeping Beauty riff. 


The act itself was awesome. The speed with which they whipped around on that tiny platform. All sorts of daring, figure skating type lifts and spins. But sad Native Americans in roller skates . . . it got to me. 


Really though, it was just a blip in an otherwise amazing evening. The only other oddity worth mentioning was that we sat next to the whitest, most reserved family in Massachusetts. Two guys around their 60's a women the same age, a couple teenaged grandchildren types, and maybe a mom. Most of the family made with the golf clap most of the night. The two men (I think  the one sitting next to the Peanut was actually San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovitch) kept their arms crossed the entire night. They both had looks on their faces like "these clowns think this shit is hard, try balancing the budget for an entire office floor of 75 people." 


I know how much those tickets cost. Crack a smile at least. 


The Peanut's favorite parts were the clowns and the troop on the bouncy balance beam type apparatus. 


"Daddy, tomorrow, we're gonna put on a show at home. We'll spread pillows all over the living room, and we'll get one bar for swinging and one for bouncing and I'll put on a show." 


While I did not spring for the bars, The Peanut did manage to cobble together quite the troop of hula hoopers at playgroup the next day.  "Daddy, watch. We're Citque Do Soleil!" 


"Yeah honey, that hula hoop stayed up for almost a moment. Great job,"


Thanks very much to Rochefort Associates for the tickets. They were much appreciated.


One of the advantages to having a ne'er do well musician as a parent was that I had access to a lot of experiences I never would've had otherwise. I met Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Rich. Saw lots of great shows, etc. 


Blogging has provided a touch of that for my kids. I guess what I'm trying to say is that any PR companies promoting any sort of performing arts in the Boston area, if you send tickets, I promise I will use them. I don't promise a good review, but at the very least a passionate, honest one. If you're not going to do it for the sake of promoting the show, then at the very least, do it for my children. Thank You. 


In other brief news: Over at DadCentric I tell one of my darkest secrets. Also over there, it's 30 days of Dads, and there are some really good bloggers, some well known, some not yet, putting up some really good posts. 


Finally, two of the most important posts I've read this month. One from a soldier who is dealing with being middle-aged and halfway home, and another about the sort of support the troops desperately need when they do get back


HM

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

By Way of Explanation.

The Chase. The thrill. Sweat lubricates your joints. Adrenalin fuels your muscles. Everything is in focus. Your breathing is smooth. Relaxed. The rhythm is your rhythm. The pounding of your feet against pavement keeps time with each breath and your body is in it's groove. The groove of fifty trillion cells beating the same tom-tom, slapping the same bass strings, and driving you forward. In pursuit. Blood pulses through your temples and back down again feeding those cells the oxygen they need. There is no other. Only now. Only it. You will have it. The Prey.

It's getting tired now. And you close in. Your pupils dilate and the big muscles of your thighs squeeze, your calves grow taut and you launch. And gravity gives way for a moment and you know you've got it. You reach your arm out and the line it makes to your shoulder and though the rest of your body is unbroken. You are an arrow flying towards it's target. 

Your fingers open, you're ready to snatch your prey, to bring it down and you miss. And the ground drives all the poetry from your body. You're a lump of flesh. Unresponding, soft, clumsy, pathetic, bruised. And some days, that is what it's like having kids. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Giving Tree, A Co-dependant's Field Guide To Life

The Giving Tree: A fine piece of children's literature, or a touchstone for twelve steppers* and other co-dependants? Let's discuss.

This poor fucking tree. The book starts out promising. A little boy comes and hangs out and makes leaf crowns and swings in her branches and eats apples. It's never made clear whether or not the boy has broken into an orchard or if this is some remarkable wild apple tree that happens to produce bushels of pest free apples, but hey, that's picking nits.

The boy carves a heart into the tree and inside it carves M. E. + T. We learn two important facts right here:
1. This is one lonely little boy.
2. This is one creepy tree in that it enjoys being tattooed by lonely little boys.

Then the boy gets older and starts coming around less and when he does come around, it's because he needs a place to bang his girlfriend. Whose initials, along with his own, also go inside a heart carved onto the tree. The tree seems to have no problem with this because as we've already established, she's creepy and is in to watching teenagers copulate as long as they agree to tattoo her again immediately upon completion. And from the book "the tree was happy." Mm, I bet.

Then the kid takes off again for a while. He comes back and now he's an almost an adult. He demands that the tree give him some money. Not too bright, this kid. The tree tells him that she has no money, but she'll give him her remarkable magic pest free apples and he can take them into the city and sell them for money. The kid does this--and here's the kicker--without even a thank you. Not even a mumbled, resentful "thanks." This ungrateful punk then goes off again for years. When he comes back, he's paunchy and approaching middle age. He says he "wants a wife and children." But to get those things he needs a house. Then he asks the tree for a house. Obviously the woman he's interested in is some kind of gold digger, but each to their own. So the tree tells him she doesn't have a house, but he can take her branches and build a house. Much to his credit, the kid doesn't reply, "What the fuck kind of house am I supposed to build with the branches of an apple tree?" What he does do is cut off all her branches and then he takes his leave. Again, without a single showing of gratitude. "And the the tree was happy."

The next time he comes back, he's older and his life has turned to complete shit. Not surprising considering he tried to convince a gold digger to marry him by building her a house made from the branches of a single apple tree. This time he says he just wants to sail off in a boat by himself for a while. Got a bad case of the poor fucking Me's, this guy. The tree tells him to go ahead and cut her down so he can build a boat for himself. And this selfish asshole does it. Without even a meaningful look back over his shoulder when he leaves. Again, "and the tree was happy . . . but not really." No shit? A little disappointed are you tree? After giving up your entire being to an ungrateful bitch? It's about time. But wait . . .

Finally he comes back and now he's an old man. And when the tree sees him, she's all apologetic because she feels like she has nothing left to give him. She is just a stump. But the old man says he's just tired and wants to rest. So the tree says hey, stumps are great for resting. So the old man sits down on the tree stump, I think we can reasonably assume to die. "And the tree was happy."s

Am I wrong in thinking that this is some crazy, co-dependant, seriously unhealthy shit? That's rhetorical. I'm not.  Just two fucked up needy beings feeding each other's psychoses until both their lives have turned to shit and they die. Jeez, thanks Shel. Nice children's book.  I can only imagine what kind of, ahem, complicated opinions Mr. Silverstein held in terms of women and Mother/significant other dynamics.


I do know for sure that if my kids ever come to me and try to cut down my trunk in order to make a boat, they are screwed.

HM

*I don't mean to lump all people who are in a twelve step program together. I just happened to have been fairly to quite close to a number of them in my life, and they all love this book. Anecdotal, but true.

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