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

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Pumpkin Man Hates Madison Avenue

"I asked Mrs. Lingone if she believes commercials." The Pumpkin Man lisped this report of the interrogation of his pre-school teacher and it was a little-not completely, but a little-out of the blue.

"What?" I replied.

"I asked Mrs. Lingone if she believes in commercials because commercials lie."

"You did? What'd she say?"

 "She said sometimes."

He's earnest, worried.

"Well, that's ok. I know we say never to trust commercials because they lie, and that's true. But it's ok that Mrs. Lingone trusts them sometimes. People have their own beliefs and that's ok."

"Daddy. I thought something bad."

What, buddy?"

"I don't want to tell you."

"It's ok buddy, I won't be mad. I promise."

"Daddy, I thought that because she believes in commercials Mrs. Langone is stupid."

He said with his lisp.

We worked hard to instill that belief. That commercials lie and are stupid and icky and we hate stupid commercials.  Oops.

"Well, it's ok to have private thoughts about people. I'm not mad. But Mrs. Lingone is not stupid. She is an adult and your teacher. It took her many years of school to be a teacher and it will be a very very long time until you know as much as Mrs Lingone."

Except the part about believing in commercials sometimes. It's a dilemma, me raising kids. I have beliefs, I pass on those beliefs, not everyone (mostly no one) shares those beliefs thus I raise weird kids.

We had parent/teacher night with Mrs. Lingone last week. She really is a pleasant, alert, on the ball pre-school teacher. Despite her occasional zombie-like stumble into the miasma of American capitalism, we're happy to have her as the P-Man's teacher this year.

In the meeting, she said we have a "very smart little guy on your hands there." Was that because he's smart, or because he intimidated her with his anti-marketing social humanist bullshit? Perhaps we'll never know.

What we do know is that despite hitting all his developmental marks and possessing an "incredible vocabulary" he still can't remember to enter the classroom and hang his backpack and jacket up in the mornings before he sits on the rug for morning meetings.

"He comes in and chats for five minutes and then comes over to the rug and I look-up and his backpack is on the floor over there and his jacket is here . . ." said Mrs. Lingone.

Take that Pman. You disorganized hippy.

Maybe he's an anarchist?

HM

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pumpkins Float, Right?

There is never a time when the sight of my kid, red-eyed, soaked, and coughing, doesn't fill me with delight. Chlorine poisoned, rasp-throated, water slide otter. Sick from the amount of water he swallowed and refusing to come out even though his lips are the color of blueberries. It's the best. His sister is a bit smoother, more competent in the water, but when she gets cold, she comes out. I've seen "help me" written in ice crystals on the boy's tummy, yet when you ask him if he wants to come out he just shakes violently, and stutters "N-no." This is when we take him out, of course. Wrap him up in his towel until the shakes wear off and his lips are no longer a severe indigo.

Often throughout the fall, we visit the ocean. Sometimes impromptu. We always tell both kids to stay out of the water. The Peanut almost manages it. Usually almost manages it. The bottoms of her cuffed jeans get dark, wet, then sandy and crusty with salt.

The boy will shout a hearty "ok" as he runs top speed into the surf and plunges both arms in, and comes up dripping and crowing about the fish he almost caught or waving a new buff colored half clamshell for all to see. He has spent his fair share of car rides home wearing my billowing t-shirt and nothing else. We always tell ourselves we're just going to keep changes of clothes in the car for both kids, but we don't always manage it.

The Peanut is an athlete. There is no doubt. She watched an eight year old boy doing flips into a pool this summer, decided she could do that, and then did. She can do pull-ups, a handstand with little help for balance, and scale our living room door jam. She flows up and over the monkey bars, she's graceful in ballet and confident in gymnastics. It's like owning a spider monkey.

The boy is a little more like me. He's quicker than you might first think, there is a general impression of physical strength despite his meatless frame ("his" frame being the only meatless one here. Mine has extra capicola), but "grace" would not come to mind.  Rock slides, clumsy bear cubs, a drunken Chris Farley, all these things might come to mind, but not grace. If the statues at Easter Island suddenly grew little legs and started running around, smashing into each other and falling and rolling around on the ground giggling, this might be an apt image for myself and, to lesser-in-stature-degree, my son.

But what he does have over me, is his affinity for water. He loves to swim and he has no fear. One time we were at a local boardwalk type area called Salisbury Beach. It was Mother's Day and the place has lots of skeeball. My wife loves skeeball. We didn't plan on going in the water that day, but the kids did.

The surf was pretty rough and the boy did not seem to notice. I shouted multiple, useless warnings about undertow and current. "Okay," he shouted back absently. "I hear you father," his tone said" Now would you please kindly shut the fuck up?"

Then it happened. A big wave came crashing in. He got knocked off his feet and sucked right into the vortex of the wave. He went around like clothes tumbling in the dryer. I ran down and grabbed his upper arm, yanked him out, set him on his feet. He looked up and said, "Well! That never happened to me before!" No fear, just marveling at the power of his salty mistress. The dude is crazy for the sea.

Most scenarios he spouts for when he's grown-up include the water. He's going to "travel all around the world, and I'm gonna know all the ocean animals and I'm gonna help them." Or he's going to live in "Maine, near the Aunties. And I'll fish and sell the fish and have a nice little cute little life."

Grand or humble, his plans include the water. Ocean child. Young Man and The Sea. The Pumpkin Man floats.

HM


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Yom Kippur, a Report From The Front.

I fasted today. For Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur, technically, is supposed to be a very strict fast. Technically. Even pregnant women are supposed to take part with permission from a doctor. No eating or drinking. At the same time, it is Judaism, so I feel like there's always room for discussion. Because the cool thing about Yom Kippur is that Yahweh is supposed to be atoning too. And you know he has a hell of a lot more to atone for than your average Jew. There he is, spending 25 hours not eating any Krispy Kreams or Fried Chicken. Like Americans, this is mostly what God eats. So, because of that necessity for God to atone for the past year's ills, I feel like there is a little room for negotiation. I feel like you could go, "Hey, God, listen . . . You have a cup of coffee, I'll have a cup of coffee (shrug) no big whoop," and he'd be totally cool with it.

I stayed pretty true, mostly. Had to walk the dog a couple of miles last night, so when I got home I had a couple slugs of seltzer, otherwise known as "Jewish Holy Water."

The kids were fascinated by the fasting. I've done it before, but this is the first year they've paid attention. The day started with the Peanut asking, "Daddy, are you hungry? Are you hungry Daddy? Want me to get you some cereal?" Followed by truly evil giggling.

Then I had to take her to her swimming lessons. Always a good idea on a very tiny person's part to poke a hungry Jew before they take you to a pool.

I brought lunch home to everyone because there was no way I was cooking today, and that's when things got tough.

Because I am infused with self-loathing and irony, I brought everyone BLT's. I know, I know. They were cheap, everyone likes them, and if you didn't fast today then please stop judging. I was atoning for the sin as I committed it. I am nothing if not an efficient sinner.

The heavy smell of bacon and the sight of everyone chewing got to me so I high tailed it upstairs to lay down with the blanket over my head until their dirty, sinful, delicious feast was done.

When the kids asked why I did it, I told them because it made me think about being Jewish, about how and what I did during the year behind me and what I was going to do with the year ahead. I told them it leaves me feeling cleaned out and ready to embrace the New Year. While I didn't say this, I also did it for them. So they could see the tradition, realize it was part of their heritage, and then make their own decision about doing it and if so why they're doing it when they get older.  I didn't mention atonement or God, because I don't actually believe in God. I do believe in atonement to some degree, but I don't know if one manages it by skipping a few meals.

And it does sort of clean me out and open me up again. My Wife went out shopping, so I zapped the kids some popcorn (the will it took to not pop one of those, salt, buttery, hot, crunchy morsels into my mouth as I was serving may very well have been atonement, now that I think about it. It certainly felt like it. That has got to make up for some sins. A lot of sins.) and put on the movie Rise Of The Guardians. It involved Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost, and the Power of Hope and belief and shit. Not a great movie, not a horrible movie, but enough of a movie to make me weep quietly near the end as the kids watched and everything came out ok. Even worse, later that night, my wife and I watched Parental Guidance, produced by and starring the King Of Schmaltz, Billy Crystal. Multiple tear ups on that one too. And this was after I'd broken my fast. On a bowl of chicken soup, some bread, and yes, the leftovers from lunch. A BLT. Fuck you, my name was written in the Book of Life for the year, and you can't erase that shit. Even with bacon. You could make it greasy as hell trying, but you can't actually erase it.

The Peanut told me how proud she was of me for fasting, seemed very relieved I was eating, and kept asking me if I felt "cleaned out." I told her yes and hugged her and thought how unfortunate it was that the phrase "cleaned out" sounds suspiciously like instead of fasting, I went and had an enema. Maybe next year.


HM

P.S. Spell Check told me to replace Yom Kippur with "Yon Kipper." As always, fucking anti-semetic Spell Check.

Monday, September 2, 2013

What's New

Here's what's new:

The Peanut started first grade in a new school (same school system). Her old school, while the teachers were lovely and the principal was talented, was a mess. It was originally a junior high, so the facilities were not anywhere near appropriate for little ones. The floor where the lower grades reside felt like a basement. The bathrooms had been "retrofitted" by the lowering of old sinks so that you could still see the imprint on the wall where they used to sit.

During recess, all the kids headed out to an empty section of the parking lot where they ran gaily over cracked asphalt and splashed wildly through the dirty puddles that collected between old frost heaves, oohing and ahhing over the oil slick rainbows floating thickly on top. It was a bit of a downer. 

Also, the principal was pregnant/just had her first kid, so one can't totally rely on her heart being all the way in the game for a year or so. Especially since she doesn't live here.

The new school has a green field and an actual fenced-in playground and colors and facilities  befitting the tiniest of scholars. So that's cool. 

Of course, we came to find out that even when the playground is empty, the first graders often spend recess right next to the usually empty playground in the cozy chain-linked confines of the basketball court. School-to-prison pipeline much?  It's one of the first issues I plan on tackling once the Peanut has had a chance to establish a bit of an identity. No one wants to start in a new school known as "that tiny girl with the huge pain in the ass parents." We'll give it a couple of weeks, and then dig in. Meet the PTO prez, get on the school site council, and make some noise. School site council, for those that don't know, is a group made up of parents, teachers, and other members of the community. In Massachusetts, School site council members get a say in budgeting, hiring, and school improvement. It's a great way to be a big pain in the ass.  Google your Department of Ed regs today and you too can be the parent no one likes to see coming. The squeaky asshole gets the grease.

Wait  a second . . . 

Let me say, this is not an adversarial thing, this being a big pain in the ass. Teachers and administrators are constantly squeezed by their bosses, the media, the government, over-crowding, and budget cuts in to making decisions that aren't always in the best interest of students. It's human nature. If you're always being beat down, eventually you act out of self-preservation.*(UPDATE BELOW) The thing is, parents have a lot of power in public education. No administrator or teacher really wants to deal with an angry parent. So, you get on that council and you squeeze'em a little from the other direction so they can have the impetus to do the right thing by the kids. Look in to it. The council rarely meets more than once a month for an hour or less, and you can really affect change through it. 

The Peanut's been stressed. She loves routine, she loves knowing all the rules, and she loves being the best student. In a new school, all that stuff is up for grabs, at least at first. She's had trouble sleeping and she's worried about finding her way around. Plus, with her kidney issues, sometimes the need to go to the bathroom goes from no where to emergency in no seconds flat. We talked to her new teacher and principal about it, so we're hopeful it should be all set.
Also:

My wife got a new job! She is now one of two literacy specialists for high schools in her entire school system (in the interest of protecting her anonymity, the city she works in rhymes with Austin).

This basically means that she will rotate between about 6 schools all year, helping the English teachers teach better, or helping non-english teachers (voc, history, science, etc.) be better able to help their students access their textbooks and other written material. She's a teacher's teacher and hot shit.

She's also nervous as hell. Worked at her old school for about 17 years. Wasn't so long ago that her school was operating about as well as it could considering it was a vocational school in a disadvantaged neighborhood filled with at-risk students. Newspeak alert. 

Over the last two or three years especially--and according to plan--, things deteriorated quickly. As more than one person affiliated with the school has put it, the school is "a cancer to work in."

Her school was quickly identified as enemy territory in the War on Education and dealt with accordingly. That is, fucked over on purpose.  Dismantled. It'll probably eventually be closed and then sold to the private university that has been slowly encroaching on the neighborhood for years now. That's the War on education though. Like all our wars of late, it ends up with territories being controlled by factions who probably aren't healthy for the region in the long run.

That phrase the "War on Education" makes me think of a dude in a camo suit with a matching tie going, "Gonna teach you to read, son. Double time! Hold on now, son. Gonna get my (mmph) grenade launcher and stick a literacy grenade in it and shoot you right in your illiterate mother fucking face! (Shunk  . . . . Boom!) You're literate now, son! You hear me? You're li. . . son? You alright? Shit, we lost another one. (Sigh) Goddamn it. Education is Hell."

Best thing to me about that image is that it's kind of accurate.

More testing and more rigorous testing. Test prep classes in lieu of arts education. Longer hours, longer school years, lower pay, smaller budgets. Race to the top. This is the way we run or education system now. We're tough. Tough on education. Education, it ain't for children. Like everything else in the U.S. it's a war. Because war makes money.

Test companies make money. How much money? How about hundreds of billions, Rupert Murdoch, level money? Private consultants also make money. Charter schools are referred to as public schools though unlike public schools, they can raise their own money, make partnerships with corporations, and turn their schools in to test passing factory training grounds for the investors who've given the most cash. It's FUBAR, to borrow a phrase. 

This has little to do (or everything) with my wife (score one each for wine and digression)  personally, however. Although, keeping with the war analogy, she is a lot like educational Black Ops now. She only answers to one person. The various headmasters and principals at the schools she'll visit hold no administrative power over her. She'll get in, teach those teachers how to fucking teach, and get the fuck out. It's pretty cool, all in all.

Also, the PMan starts Pre-K 4 on wednesday. Should be fun. Maybe this year he'll sing Alice Cooper songs at his teacher while he lights the reading rug on fire. The possibilities boggle. 

And that is the deal from Homemaker Central. How're you all doing?
HM

*It occurs to me that this statement is pretty adversarial. If educators had been ever  been interested in self-preservation, they never would have become educators in the first place. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cavalia's Odysseo: it was kind of weird.

Maybe it's just me but, If I were to write a press release for this Freudian equine spectacular it would go something like this . . . 

For approximately 5500 years, humans have had a love affair with horses. From the Catherine the Great rumors to Equus, people, human people, have always wanted to make love to horses. The USA is no different. From the creepy horse/pre-teen girl fantasy love that is constantly hinted at in popular culture to the unnecessarily long post ride rubdowns that Chick would give to Lightning during the heyday of the Cowboy, the U.S has never shied away from it's part in perpetuating the pseudo-sexual (or not so pseud(i)o. Ohh oh.) subtext that has long existed between humans and the  fairer, more equestrian species. We've always wanted to ride the Pegasus.

Case in point: When I was a young man of 22, and the internet was just getting it's feet under it, one of the first documents a computer savvy roommate ever downloaded and printed was a detailed, single-spaced, eight page tutorial on how to properly romance and bed a horse. Human male, horse female. And in one case, male. It included flirtation techniques, foreplay instructions, how you know the horse is "ready," time periods, positioning ("approach from behind" and "get a stool") and, most notably, a technical, step-by-step description of how to extract and then drink a cup of Horse, uhhhh, you know . . . ummm, tangible evidence of the horse's enjoyment, let's say. 

It was an incredible document. We read it aloud many nights until we were sure we had horrified and delighted ALL of our friends. I'm pretty sure even the Bill of Rights has never gotten those kinds of laughs.

I, for one, am not that into horses. I appreciate their strength and athleticism, I understand them as beautiful as all animals have some beauty, but I don't find them particularly fascinating. Seriously, I am not that interested in them. I swear. Please believe me!

This unsteady wagon train of thought could all be yours with a single viewing of Cavalia's Odysseo.

Cavalia's Odysseo is a show by the producers of Cirque du Soliel, which comped us a couple of tickets last year. The Peanut and I went, and we loved it. Almost unabashedly. This year, they ponied up (zap!) four tickets so the whole family could go.

I am pleased to say, no horse on human (or vice-a versa) lovemaking was evident in any of the show pieces. In fact, the horses were treated with great respect. This is not to say that one can't (or won't or doesn't) treat one's sexual partner with great respect, I'm just saying if something kinky was going on, and I have no proof that it was, it was all done on a pretty level playing field.

On the way in, there were some opening night miscues. Where to pick up tickets, what gate to go to, training of the cashiers in the gift shop. I never got a press pass and therefore did not get to go backstage after the show like many of my fellow bloggers did. It didn't bother me much since the kids were exhausted by the end anyway.

The best way I can think of to describe the show is picture the Dothraki hordes hanging out with the Riders of Rohan and everyone is on mushrooms. All of a sudden they're a bunch of beautiful and fun dudes and chicks riding around on their beautiful horses doing crazy tricks and smiling and whooping and all the while the landscape is shifting and the colors are undulating and oh man total visual ecstasy right here, man.


"Where are we going, man?"
" I'm just following the dude in front. "
"I think that's a chick."
"Whatever man. His dress is far out"


Through the show there was a group of mind-blowing non-horse riding acrobats that sort of acted as the chorus. 

At some point, that distinctive horsey smell works its way into your nostrils, which actually enhanced the experience.

The show, as the Artistic Director and co-founder of Cirque du Soleil puts it, is the"world's largest touring show," and that he wanted to "challenge Cirque Do Soleil Las Vegas with Cavalia". From WBUR.org 


"Owner and artistic director Normand Latourelle gladly gives a tour of the site. Smiling, he says everything about Cavalia is big. It’s got a $35 million touring budget, an 18-ton carousel, an 80-ton technical grid and two stages the size of hockey rinks. Dump trucks push 10,000 tons of dirt to make actual mountains under the tent that are three stories high. 
Latourelle admitted quite frankly that he wanted to challenge Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas with Cavalia.“So we gave ourselves the technology to reach that level because a touring show, it’s more difficult than a permanent show,” he said. “Everything has to go in the truck.  
The show actually packs into 100 semi-trucks, which Latourelle said makes Odysseo the world’s largest touring show."


And it was a huge show. And, if you love horses, even in a non-creepy way, it was probably excellent. For me, two things: There was a little bit too much of that pre-teen girl prince/horse fantasy action (Latourelle is definitely aware of the horse/sex connection. Definitely.) and I couldn't shake the feeling that the whole point of the show was to be the largest touring show ever. In Cirque, the acrobats and performers are coming up with new ways to perform crafts that have been around for thousands of years. In Cavalia, they did horse tricks that have been around for thousands of years in a highly stylized setting, but the tricks didn't feel that new. Just, "can you believe all these horses and this tent and all this dirt and stuff? Isn't it huge." From the general audience reaction, which was at it's height when the non-horse bound performers were on stage, many folks would agree with me. I could be projecting but hey, they're not here to say different. 

As for the kids, the girl loved it until she fell asleep about ten minutes after intermission ended and the boy loved it so much he managed to stay awake for the whole thing, eyes wide and glazed. Good trip.

The tickets, befitting the largest touring show in the world, are rather expensive. Obstructed view for $50 up to $250 for VIP tickets. If you have that kind of scratch laying around, go, enjoy. You'll have a unique experience on some level.  If not though, don't worry about it too much. And if you really, really, like horses well then . . . best show ever. 




Thursday, August 22, 2013

Date Night 2013 #3

Three date nights in one summer. Our romance meter reads "Inferno!"

Continuing our short March of the Summer Sci-Fi blockbusters, Elysium. We were very excited to see this. Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, is a lot of violence and slow motion montages and sad faces and dark clothes and extremely simple solutions to extremely thorny human problems. It's like a goth Armageddon. With maybe a dash of Robo-Cop. Everyone who knows me knows I love me some Sci-Fi. Not enough to eventually put money in Orson-Scott Card's sleazy, paranoid, disappointing, closeted little pockets--I'll wait til that one comes on cable--but enough to go and see this and this and write glowing reviews for both. How does that list not include Pacific Rim you ask? The phrases, "my wife hates me" and "almost divorced" play into the answer.

Elysium. I was so excited to see Jodi Foster as the head bad guy. When she first appeared on screen, I leaned into my wife and whispered, "She is gonna be good." And she was, for the 13 seconds she appeared in screen. Blomkampt gave her almost nothing to do. I was really looking forward to a riff on the apoplectic, forehead vein throbbing, near aneurism, performance she gave in Carnage.... but she would have had to have things to act for that to happen.

Same with Damon. You could have dropped Vin Diesel into that part and no one would've known the difference. And, in a Los Angeles where everyone, including Damon's character, was of Latin decent, Diesel's racial ambiguity would've served the part better.

They had machines that could heal the final stages of leukemia in less than thirty seconds, and reconstruct faces blown off by grenades (did I mention crazy violent? ). Why couldn't the same machines heal the psychotic pathology of the the person who turned out to be the main bad guy or even some of the rampant narcissism of the citizens of Elysium? And why, on a planet whose main problem is over-population, would mass access to miracle healing machines be seen as a the answer? It's not, really, you know? And I'm not saying, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population," I'm just saying, try to put a little thought into the script, man.

In closing, I give it 2 sheared off faces via explosion out of a 4 sheared off faces via explosion rating system.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Appreciation

Thursday afternoon my daughter crafted me a bracelet. She worked carefully as she strung the multi-colored plastic beads onto the pink elastic string and presented it to me with more than a cursory pride.  And I took it from her and I beamed and told her I loved it and thought, "what a piece of shit." It is, too.  A total piece of shit. Really just not good. Crappy.  A colorful piece of shit on my wrist. And I do love it. That's the thing. I love this stupid plastic piece of shit. Not because she's especially good at making shitty jewelery either. Have a look at this thing.



Total piece of shit. It's all loose and the beads are separating. I will say it was a little tighter before I showered with it on. Which I did because I am a dutiful and thoughtful father who wears his piece of shit even when he showers, only to find out that the fucking piece of shit can't even stand up to a five minute shower.  We went out to dinner with friends that night and I showed it off as proud as can be. "Look at this piece of shit bracelet my daughter made for me," I boasted, "isn't it beautiful?" 

And everyone made "oh mmm yes, wow that is really a beautiful piece of shit" noises at us. Not just to protect her feelings but also to protect mine, because they could tell that I really love this stupid piece of shit. 

I'm wearing it right now. It keeps sliding half way down my forearm. Because it sucks. 

I asked for this god awful thing too. Really. Pleaded for it, for fuck's sake. My daughter announced to her mommy that she was going to make her a necklace and I interrupted, "Hey, what about me? Don't I get some jewelery? Don't I get a dumb piece of shitty plastic jewelery from the six dollar "Jewelery making kit (as if)" we bought you for Christmas at Toys R' Us? I too want to march around for eternity with an elastic full of petroleum based choking hazards strapped to my body."

She said yes. So then she was making herself a bracelet and a necklace, her mother a necklace, and a bracelet for me. I'd effectively created a tiny sweatshop right at my own dining room table because I couldn't stand to be left out of the Piece of Shit Jewelery Sweepstakes. Couldn't bare it. 

Also, she ended up running low on beads/forgetting to make her mother's necklace--because she's a six year old which automatically makes her a horrible artisan at almost anything she chooses--so now I am the lone adult in the house blessed with a piece of shit jewelry to wear ad infinitum, forever and ever, I'll definitely have to be cremated when I die so 10, 000 years from now the archaeologists don't dig it up at my grave sight and decide on the spot that our entire civilization had horrible taste in accessories. 

One last thing I should probably tell you about this synthetic caterpillar of despair: In the end, she didn't even make it. I made it myself with her resentful oral directions. 

She got the bracelet all done, and brought it to me to wear. But . . . only one end of the string was knotted. So when she handed it to me and I attempted to tie it together, the beads slithered off the string and into either my lap or the dark, crumby recesses of my recliner. So I had to find all the beads and painstakingly replace each one with my big, fumbly, middle-aged fingers while she, distracted by the tv, directed me in an annoyed monotone as to which bead to place when, one-by-one.  "Green. Yellow, Pink, Red, Pink, RednoOrange. (Exhale) Orange."

And you still could not tell me that this is not a beautiful bracelet my daughter made for me with her own two hands. A beautiful, sweaty, ugly, slick, uncomfortable, piece of shit plastic mistake of a bracelet that I will wear everyday for the rest of my life or until she makes me a new one, whichever comes blessedly first. 

HM

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Fence

Busted, rotten-toothed, blighted, crystal meth-mouth of a fence. Pink paint peeling to show grey wood, like new flesh shedding to reveal old. The stretch that provides the border between our faded tar driveway and our neighbor's. The neighbor children toddle through the snaggletoothed space left by broken pickets, like chocolate drops tempting jagged fangs to clamp down on plump, defenseless, sweetness. And there's only me to fix it. Carpentry. I hate carpentry. Also not a big fan of dentists.

Maybe it's more fair (to me) to say carpentry hates me. I try to learn the language of carpenters. I admire carpenters who carpent well and provide well-carpented structures. Measure twice, cut once, inches, wood, nail, nail banging device. I know all the lingo. I just have trouble connecting my hands to my brain and my brain to the wood.

If I had been the Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi had sought to teach me karate via light carpentry, I never would've made it. I would have been gone before the end of sand the floor.

"Eieesh, Homemaker-san. What you do to dis floor? And the fence! Looks like it was painted by brain damaged muskrat! You no learn karate. You go buy gun. Chances much better."

But, I did it. It's done. Basically mostly pretty much done. I replaced the missing and broken pickets. Two days ago my wife noticed one of the new pickets was loose at the bottom. I have yet to check on it. Probably I'll until wait a gust of wind finishes ripping the picket off the fence and drives it through our dining room window. Then I'll blame the kids. "Who launched this 3 foot picket through the dining room window?" I'll scream. They won't know who did it because kids don't know anything. And if they do, I'll give them Starburst to eat until their mouths fuse shut and their teeth look like the fence. Like the fence once did, he said with smugness.

The fence came out ok, really. The original fence builder didn't exactly get everything straight, so that took a lot of pressure off. My whole house has kind of a "This Old House" meets Charles Bukowski feel. It leans drunkenly, and it's fucked up and a little grubby, and hipsters would like it if you told them to. Yet, it's 125 years old, still standing, and there's just something charming about it . . .

The reason I tackled the fence in the end, other than that it was a dangerous and unneighborly eyesore ("your mother" joke. Bam.), and that neither I nor my chubby, sloppy, little ego could afford to hire someone, was that I want the kids to have some sort of comfort with tools. Even some small, fleeting, incompetent handle on a tool and what it does--"this is called a drill you use it for drilling. This is a screw driver, you use it for screwing. I don't know what that one is. That one hurts fingers. I call that one Saul. Whoops, careful son, that one stays in your pants til you're thirty." And so on.

I called them both out of the yard and had them help me. O, how they helped. It's difficult, I find, to teach someone something you don't know yourself.

"Ok. Good job. Whoops careful. Put that down. Put that Down. Thank you. Thank you. Can you hold that. No, just hold it. Hold it. Sure, you can put it in your pocket. Ok now, pull. Pull it. The button thing there. The trigger or whatever. I'll hold it too. No, I'll hold too. Because it's dangerous. BECAUSE IT's--you just sit over there for a minute. No just sit. Sit. There. Yup. Ok. Yes, you can hold that. Not like that. Yes. Ok. Now, do you want a turn? No, right there. Just push . . . I don't know what those numbers mean. I don't know. You ready. Ok. Good Job. Because . Because you can't. You just . . . what? Ok. You're going back in the yard with Mommy? Ok. Thanks for the help guys!"

The exclamation point is there because I meant it. They really did help. They distracted me from the task at hand.

And they did spend some small sliver of time around tools and fixing stuff and so forth.  I put this in the parenting victory column next to "they have yet to break a bone," and "Don't really know what a Justin Bieber or a Selena Gomez is."

Next up, we have to replace the doors on our bulkhead. I've been stressing about that for years now. The doors are so far gone they couldn't keep out a caffeinated Jehova's Witness. If my calculations are correct, I should have that project done poorly by April 2015. If the weather holds.

I am the Carpentry Walrus. I don't exist, and even if I did, I have fucking flippers and big stupid tusks and a terrific mustache. I can't fix shit. Coocoocachoo.

HM




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Funny, I've Heard That Name Somewhere Before

Next door, we have black neighbors. Across the street and next door on the other side too. The particular neighbors in question have a six year old son. He was in The Peanut's kindergarten class this past year. He's a big, huggable, good-natured sweetie-pie. His name is Trayvon. How's that for some shit?

When the verdict came down, I felt so bad, so guilty. Remember when Obama was elected the first time, and we were all walking around and looking each other in the eye, and nodding like, "yeah, voted for him too." And it felt like we were all on the verge of a big high five. This was exactly like that, except the complete opposite. I felt like every black person I met wanted nothing to do with me. And who could blame them? I didn't particularly want much to do with me or my kind--I mean white, not Jewish, but to most people, I'm splitting hairs here--myself (By the way, white guilt is an excellent, excellent quality in a white person. It's really one of the finest qualities a white person can possess. Beware of the non-guilty white person, everyone who is not white. They will get you, eventually).

Except for Tre'. That is how I knew my neighbor Trayvon at first.. As Tre'. I knew him as that until shortly after Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, actually. Imagine my shock when I first heard his full name.

Anyway, the night of the verdict, all I wanted to do was find that little boy and hug him and laugh with him and tell him sorry. I wanted to say sorry to him, his whole family, every black person I saw. Still do. But I don't. Don't know why for sure. Probably because it'd be rather presumptuous and weird and self-serving.

I do know that Florida sucks. There have been lots of voices more eloquent and erudite than mine that have stated the fact that we shouldn't blame Florida. That systemic racism is a blight upon our entire country. And that's true. Black men are frisked at a much higher rate in New York than are whites, die at a much higher rate in Chicago, lack the chance at a quality education and get incarcerated at a much higher rate everywhere. The backlash against our first black president combined with the long standing injustices that frame black life in America have the entire country neck deep in the shit storm that is systemic, institutionalized racism. But then again, Florida has been fucking up for over a decade ( at least) now, in issues of race, the law, political gaffes, sleazy real estate deals,  etc.

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure every Canadian blanches when they find out they have to go anywhere near any  U.S. city with the possible exceptions of Burlington, Vermont and Portland, Oregon. So maybe I should give Florida a break. But probably not.

I know that this post is late. Many people have written about this topic from most every angle, and mine is not a voice that should be heard over anyone else's on this subject.

I also know that when I first saw our neighbor Tre', two days after the verdict, he waved and grinned and said "Hi, Homemaker Man!" And I waved and grinned and said "Hi!" back.

Finally, I know (reaching the limits of my personal cache' of knowledge now) that part of what has gotten us here is too much silence. And I know a little boy named Trayvon. He is a friend of my daughter's. He's got a chubby, smiley face and a friendly way about him and I love that little kid. And so though I'm late, and though I'm only one middle-aged white blogger, and though I'm ineloquent, I will not be silent. I'll say what I feel I have too and I'll keep on saying it. I've got to now. Trayvon lives right next door.

HM


Thrills! Amusement! Thick Inner Ear Fluid! It Could All Be Yours!

The sky spun around us as we flew higher and then higher still. One push of the little black button and we soared, in perfect circular formation with the other fat, primary colored jets around us. We were Flying Aces, and it was the first ride we went on at Six Flags New England this past sunday.

We were invited --and comped--for a day at Six Flags New England as part of their Media Weekend and we had a blast. 

For those who want to skip the review, go to the end, comment, and be entered to win a family 4 pack of tix that includes free parking. Free. Parking.  In the Boston area, free parking is as mythical and valuable as Unicorn tears. 

So, first off, we were met at the gate by Samantha. She was our media guide for the day. She was very pleasant. Early on we convinced her to go on a raft type ride with us that both spun "a lot more" than she "remembered," and had about three inches of water in the bottom, immediately rendering her shoes soggy relics of the past.

This is Samantha. We ruined her shoes. 


After that, I myself was not up for much ride wise. I love roller coasters--the anticipation during the long climb, the brief jolt of weightlessness as you plummet earthward, the high pitched girlish screaming emanating from my throat, the soiled undergarments--love it. But the spinny rides .. oh the spinny rides kill me. After 3 or 4 revolutions, my inner ear fluid thickens up like egg white and my stomach threatens to turn the entire ride into a vomit-y whirlygig. Don't love the spinny rides.

But, we had a great time. They have two sections dedicated to little kids like ours (and smaller), plus other family and kid oriented rides sprinkled throughout the park, so there is a lot to do for little ones. Plus, there is the water park. The day we went was in the 90s, so the water park was packed, but we still enjoyed it. 

The Peanut met her personal hero, Wonder Woman, and got her autograph. That was wicked sweet. There was also most of the cast of Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo, and the entire Justice League.

The park was immaculate. Most of the employees carried sticks with levers near the handle and white claws at the end so they could pick up trash whenever they encountered it. I kept trying to convince Sam to challenge one of the other employees to a claw stick duel, but she was far too professional. I think'd it'd be very entertaining, but I'm kind of a moron. 

They had lots of free shows going on around the park. The Peanut had been sick for the magic show they had at her school this year, and I had promised her one this summer, so the magic show at the park totally bailed me out there. The kids loved the show, though there was a whole Marilyn Monroe tribute part that was completely lost on them. Which is probably my fault. I've neglected their pop-culture education. 

I would say, if you do go with young kids, bring an extra adult/big kid, so that two of you can ride the big rides while one watches the kids. Also, if you have someone willing to stay close to your bag, backpack, etc., avoid renting a locker at the water park. It's expensive. Other than that though, big thumbs up to Six Flags New England. We had a friggin' great time and we'd go again in a heart beat. Enter the giveaway so you can have a blast too. 

HM

Bonus Pics!

Trying really hard to catch glimpse of the little Kintner Boy.




Yeah, we blew Scrappy right the fuck off.
Original Gangstas only, please.



The Peanut met her hero. And so, I assume, did Wonder Woman.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Vacation Accompli

The sky was blue like clouds had never been invented. The kids had made fast friends with a very nice man named Charles.  Charles had come up from Manhattan "on a whim." He grew up in San Francisco with summers at his grandmothers house in the French countryside ("It was so boring. It wasn't like it was Paris or anything. It might as well have been upstate New York. My dad got me a Eurorail pass when I was 14 or 15 and boy did grandma freak out about that! He can handle it, he can handle it, my dad said, but she was not happy.")

My Wife, lounging on the beach, took a moment from our Charles chat to beseech our daughter.  "Honey, it's so hot out and the water is beautiful, just try it." Up until then, we had spent most of our swimming time in the hotel's salt water pool.

The Peanut jabbed a toe into the foam near the shore. "It's cold," she bleated.

"Me and the Peanut, we're the glass half empty-girls," said Charles. 

And that is just a tiny sliver of the perfection that was our week in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  We stayed from Saturday to Saturday. The beach we played at was the hotel's private stretch. It was way more than we could afford but we didn't have to afford it. It was paid for by My Wife's Aunt.

The Aunt, along with her wife, are the legal guardians of My Wife's 14 year old cousin . . . The Girl. The Girl's father, after a long illness, died about 5 years ago. The Girl's mother is a human non-recyclable, so in his will he named his sister--The Aunt--The Girl's legal guardian. The Girl, a fine student, excellent athlete, and all around good kid, is an only child with no cousins near her age. She thirsts for family. 

About four months ago, The Aunt called and said to My Wife, "Do you have plans for the Fourth?" 

"No," said My Concise Wife. 

"Well, we'd like you to come down to Provincetown for the week of July Fourth this year. We go every year and we want you guys (including the dog) to come. The Girl would really love it. We stay at a hotel with a private beach and a salt water swimming pool and you can watch the fireworks from the beach and we'll pay for the room."

"Nonononono, that's too much, we can't do that, thanks for the offer but nonono we couldn't do that I, uh, no," was My Suddenly Inconcise Wife's reply."

The Aunt said, "You never got a graduation present (true), or a wedding present (true), or a honeymoon (with the notable exception of every single day of our perfect union, also true), you never go anywhere (apparently she'd never heard of a little place called "the movies.") just let me do this for you."

So we said yes. We were nervous as hell. A vacation. With family. Who paid! Sounds like the plot of an old John Candy movie.  In retrospect, an excellent decision.

Provincetown is clean beaches, sea waters teeming with life, houses that are New England quaint on the outside and marvels of open space and burnished Scandinavian wood inside. It's thriving night life, great restaurants, fabulous art galleries, a note-perfect Cher impersonator, great shows (Patti LuPone! Megan Mullally!) everything in walking distance, dog friendly, and people without a single unkind word for anyone. Everyone was so upbeat, so joyous, so gregarious and interesting and FUN. We weren't three days in before the kids told us they never wanted to go home. Who could blame them? 

The first day, The Girl was overwhelmed. The affection, the action, the expectations that our kids had for her knocked the pins out from under her. She needed a break. But as the week went on, they grew closer and closer and by the end she was the one holding their hands on our walks, waking up excited to play, spending hours with them at the pool, teaching them how to play soccer. We have plans to go to the movies (see?) with her later this week. Bonds happen quick like Krazy Clue when people are young.

We sat in the sand together and watched my kids' first real fireworks display. Glowing faces and shining eyes and all that. The Pumpkin Man kept up a constant commentary throughout the show. The Aunt said, "he really never stops talking, does he?" She has no idea. We'll be seeing a bit of them from now on, I think. The Aunt pronounced, more than once, that  "you'll have to come down again next year. We'll make it a tradition." We responded with stunned silence. We're slick like that. Family, luck, timing. That shit be crazy. 

As for me, I lived on the Cape some in my former life as a boy nomad and then again as a man-child. I was never a big fan. Until now. PTown. You stole my heart. Seriously, that was some rich food. I think my heart fell out near the library. 

HM

Bonus Pics!

Praise Neptune!



The family marches steadily toward the downtown area,
intent on wreaking millions of dollars worth of havoc.
The kids looove tequila.


The Peanut caught it all by herself in an area called the Beech Forest.
I kissed it and it turned into Prince.
This is what is sounds like, when jokes die. 




Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Boy exercises his 1st amendment rights and then finds out he doesn't have any.


The boy got in trouble at school the other day.  There was allegedly a play dough incident involving my son and three other children, The play dough in question--color unspecified--was strewn about the eponymous table and onto the floor.

Play dough: Check. Strewn:  Check. Sounds like the boy may have been involved.

His pre-school teacher is mild-mannered to the point of comatose tapioca, so I knew it was pretty bad because when we spoke, she had her eyebrows. Raised. Both of them. And she held them there for most of the conversation.

Heres how it went down:

The teacher came over to scold the group of salty, doughy, scalawags.

"If you're going to do that with the play dough and not clean-up, then there will be no more playing with the play dough." His teacher  admonished.

The boy, self-appointed group spokesperson, responded:

"I don't care what you say because I have other places I can play with play dough."  Ooooohhh!

This is something to be addressed in my house. We don't truck with that kind of sass or hold with any backtalk. We will not listen to that mouth, tolerate such disrespect for his elders, put up with that attitude, or condone such nonsense. There will be no mouthing off, no giving of guff, lip, or any other item that could be associated with insolence. See middle finger, stuck-out tongue, et al.                             

The wound caused by this snotty rebellion is compounded by the fact that my wife is a teacher. High school. This is what she said to the boy:

"Do you know what I do when my students talk to me like that?"

He shakes his head no.

"I don't do anything because my students wouldn't dare."

Scary shit.  I think one of us actually peed our pants. Possibly him. Me.

He was pretty upset by the whole thing. He's quite a sweet, empathetic boy. He also constantly rages against windmills, tilts against the machine, and other common phetamors. I don't blame him.

As we all can agree, authority figures must be perpetually challenged and questioned, even in times of prosperity and happiness, because if not they become complacent and then abuse that authority. I don't know where he gets it.

I can't wait until his first walkout. I remember mine. Fifth grade. I got into it with a substitute and the subsequent exchange led her to declare in front of the entire class that, "You don't think in school, you do what you're told!" Not her finest moment. Not mine, either. Imagine how hard I had to push that poor woman to get her to say something that silly. I laughed and repeated what she said and then, dumb head held high, I strode from the room down to the familiar confines of the Principal's office.  I sucked. Come to think of it, that was probably not my first walk out that year. In the first one I made it all the way home. I may still hold the detention record in for that grade. I really sucked*.

Like I said, I don't know where the boy gets it. I don't want that for him. Class clown antics disguised as righteous indignation. The constant questioning, yes. Absolutely. Not at four years old maybe, and not over cleaning up his play dough, but still.

I just want him to have enough respect to question politely, and then if dissatisfied with the double talk that the MAN is laying down, come home and talk to us, his parents--the alpha and omega of authority figures--about it before flying off the handle. Before you laugh, shake your head, and mutter, "Good Luck, paper plate face," let me tell you, I think we have a chance. In the home of my youth, a formal education was not considered important, necessary, or even respectable. In my family, we learned our Algebra on the streets, and we liked it. We failed it, but we still liked it.

Not the same here. Like I said, my wife's a teacher. High School. Disadvantaged urban (speaking of double talk) school at that. We gonna do our book learnin' 'round heah.

He wasn't eager to return to school the next day. I told him he could stay home if he was planning on going directly for a nap. Classic playtime embargo. He went, tiny shoulders bowed, soles of his sandals scraping the sidewalk. Heavy is the burden of the Pre-School rabble rouser. Protestin' ain't easy. His teacher said the day went well.

It's going to be a trust thing, in the end. If he trusts that we're listening and that we respect his opinions and have his best interests at heart, then we'll trust that he's not staging a walk-out over his teacher's bourgeois notion of how markers should be used only on things not breathing and covered with skin.

God save us all.

HM


*When his grandfather was a boy, he staged a sit-in in his own high-school cafeteria. I forget the why of it. That story is a legend that the old man would be happy to blow the dust from, were he present. Nope, don't know where the boy gets it from. Must be the fluoridated water.



Sunday, June 16, 2013

Duly Noted

A couple of mornings ago,  before school, my daughter is writing in her diary. I take a peek because I'm curious and often she keeps it pretty secret. It's got a little lock and everything. Usually it has things in it like a portrait of herself with her name under it and on the top of the page the musing,  "I love me."  Or one whole page covered corner to corner by the lone exclamation, "My brother is CRAZY!"

I take a lot of peeks. She leaves the key around. Something about unlocking that little pink diary to read it feels oh so right and so wrong simultaneously. I blame the NSA.

On this particular day in question, she has drawn a picture of a flower, dated it June 11, and written a caption above the picture that says "It is winter."

I say, " Hey honey that's pretty intriguing, writing it is winter over a picture like that. Very creative." She says, " No but it's not that."
I say, "Ok honey, I just think it's cool is all."
"No it's not what that says though." She replies.
"Ok, well, even if you didn't mean it, I still think it's neat. Sometimes mistakes turn out to be really--"
She collapses to her knees like a pocket James Brown and screeches, "Noooooo!  It's not THAT!" And then buries her face in her hands. Hardest working tantrum thrower in show business. Godfather of soul devouring outrage.  It's early so I get mad. I slam what ever it is I'm holding (hair brush? lunch box? Monkey's Paw?) down on the dining room table, spill some water and bark, "No! Why are you yelling at me! Stop it!" I pick her up and put her down on her feet and send her to her room. She comes down and we talk about communication. She says sorry, I say sorry, and we go to school. I never find out what happened and we don't really talk about it again. At home later that afternoon, she writes this and hands it to me:
It reads, "Dear daddy, I love you. I Love You! Happy Father's Day.  I hope it's fun. Me and Pumpkin Man did the best we could at listening. Thank You.


I immediately scoop her up in my arms and squeeze her and cover her face in kisses and babble about how wonderful she and her brother are (You like how she threw him in there for good measure?) and how much I love them. Emotionally evicerated, my head swims from lack of blood and I have to sit down and put it between my knees where I've cleverly hidden a bourbon. Some bourbon. A liter of bourbon.

-----------------------------------------

When you're with them every day, all day, you see the best of them and the worst. The thing is, they see the same of you. You can't help it.

A lot of parenting advice boils down to being even tempered. Don't get too high or too low. Don't yell or freak out or get too excited. Be calm and cool at all times. Walk away, take a time-out, breathe deep and consult your higher power (Mine's a chicken burrito. With guac!)

You know, just don't react with any sort of emotional extreme to actions taken by the people you are biologically programmed to love more than life itself. Easy Peasy. When you're kid wins the race, fucks up at school, performs an act of kindness, lathes the cat, poops in the potty for the first time, etc, don't over emote. Just stay on an even keel. That parenting philosophy, with the notable exception of gender roles, hasn't really changed all that much from the 1950's archetype. Just knock the bowl of your Father Know's Best pipe with the heel of your hand, and tousle their hair/give them a stern talking too, and go back to your twitter feed. The truth is, we don't do that. Not every time. The truth is, some of us have called our toddlers fucking assholes when they're acting like fucking assholes or squealed like Bieberites at the Bieber ice cream smorgasbord jamboree and hair combing expo when they nail the landing in gymnastics. It's natural. We feel passion for these little genius/assholes.  The truth is, to remain as even tempered as we're supposed to all the time, that pipe bowl has to be loaded with sociopathic tendencies and opium.

The thing is, they bubble with potential, our kids.That means the potential to be almost anything. Anything doesn't just mean astronaut or president. It means junkie or murderer or lobbyist. They are human, they are imperfect. Their potential is near limitless And as parents, we are the same. Imperfect. More so, maybe. We've had longer to work on our imperfections.  And when you spend countless hours with tiny beings who are just learning the world, those imperfections come to bare. Yours rub against theirs and it results in days of too much yelling, too many tears, too much guilt, too much pride. It happens. What're you gonna do? We love them on a cellular level. That kind of passion is sure to lead to some amount of ill. I mean, have you seen humans?

I strive for even tempered. I really do. But I'm a man of loud voice and large opinion. So my kids know when I'm angry. They also know when I'm happy or proud or content or silly or gassy. Especially gassy. They know it all. In return so do I. It's not so bad, knowing when they're sad and when they're happy. Knowing for sure. Makes thing a little less complicated. Sometimes. Other times it makes getting ready for school in the morning sound like the Red Wedding.

And they test the even temper. They probe it with whines placed just so or negative responses to reasonable requests. They tap tap tap on the wall of my pleasant detachment with psychological ball peen hammers until the wall cracks and I can feel my blood pressure behind my eyes and I'm pretty sure my nose and left ear are bleeding freely. Then their are the times when my better nature wins out and no matter how the they probe and poke and tap and claw, I hold firm. I'm usually pretty proud of myself when that happens. Glassy eyed and exhausted, but proud.

What I hope (What else can I do?) is that in the tumult of a household full of passion and opinion (and gas) that they find themselves unafraid of their emotions. That as they get older they can feel and express themselves openly with just enough restraint to not get arrested. Let me add, just for posterity, that they really do listen well. Most times.

HM

P.S. Happy Father's Day and stuff.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Rooster, Run

So I'm lurching my way through my little 3 mile (generously measured) run the other day. I've started running again because I'm stupid and I also I don't like taking my genetically disadvantaged fat guy  medications. I'd do anything to avoid taking that shit. Even running. Funny though, if Percocet lowered cholesterol, I'd never run again.

But I'm running and I'm at about the 3/4 point and I have the headphones in and the Alice In Chains song Rooster comes on and even as I am aware of how awful I am,  I start to identify with the song. The Rooster is a song written by the band's guitar player about his father. His father was a member of the 101st Airborne division and Team Leader of a Long Range Recon Patrol during the Vietnam War. Which of course is exactly like a chubby jew gasping his way through a half- hour run on a sunny Sunday morning in America. I need more shame.

Scene

Me: Sweating and gulping and jiggling and trudge-jogging and wishing I had a burrito.

My headphones swell with the intro. The lyrics kick in:

"Ain't found a way to kill me yet"
Eyes burn with stinging sweat"

And even though I know how I sound, in my head I'm still like, "Holy shit. That's me! My eyes are totally burning with stinging sweat. And I'm still alive. I'm the Rooster!

It deteriorated from there:

"Seems every path leads me to nowhere"

No shit. I'll barely make it home at this rate

"Wife and kids and household pet
Army green was no safe bet"

Check, check, check, and running is extremely dangerous for a man in my condition.

"The bullets scream to me from somewhere"

If one interprets"bullets" to mean "yippee dogs" then fucking check.

"Here they come to snuff the Rooster
Yeah, here come the Rooster, yeah
You know he ain't gonna die
No, no no, you know he ain't gonna die

Walkin' tall machine gun man
They spit on me in my homeland
Gloria sent me pictures of my boy"

This part is where it gets to be just a little bit of a stretch. Although, I was about 59% certain I was going to live, and I spent some formative years in a small town in New Hampshire and while I wasn't often spit on, I did not get along with many people. Ok, so I'm hanging in.

"Got my pills 'gainst mosquito death"

Cutter with Deet. Bam, I'm back!

"My buddy's breathing his dying breath"

Took the dog with me and she is panting pretty good at this point. Check

"Oh God please won't you help me make it through"

If I had a nickel for every time I said that when I went for a run in my life I'd probably have upwards of two dollars.  Because I hate running.

Then that refrain comes in again and at that point I'm just about home and filled with an electrifying simultaneous sense of shame and accomplishment. Felt that A LOT as teenager. At least I'm exercising again.

HM

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Date Night '13' Or How We Spent our night of freedom.

Mild Spoilers ahead. Nothing specific and I was careful. Besides there's a study out that shows that spoilers actually enhance your enjoyment, so live a little.

Tonight was Date night which traditionally in our household means Sci-Fi Movie night. Given a choice between Will Smith's careening narcissism and Star Trek Into Darkness, we chose the latter.  We really had a good time.

We saw it in 3D because that is also traditional in my household. The 3D was great in some spots, a little stagey in others, and in still others just a little too much. At times it felt like we were watching Star Trek Into Chris Pine's Acne Scars.

I love science fiction. The way the good stuff acts as a mirror for modern society. The way any science fiction worth its salt is allegorical. The way shit blows up and makes pew pew sounds and warp speed and encounters with sexy aliens and chase scenes and set phasers to fucking yeah!

Anyway, In Star Trek Into Zoe Saldana's Mediocre Acting Ability (Seriously, I wish someone else was Uhura. She didn't ruin the movie, but is Angela Basset really too old? Kerry Washington not free?), we've got terrorist attacks, including one where a large ship is purposely dive bombed into a city, and a struggle by those in charge as to how we should respond. With vengeance or with justice? And are the two different? It could be seen, by me anyway, as an allegory for our current situation concerning terrorists, drone strikes, Guantanamo, etc. In the movie they waffle, but eventually try to bring the bad guy in alive. Because that's how they roll. In the movie there is a moment when Chris Pine's left pockmark is giving a speech, and in it he says something along the lines of how while we want vengeance on those that harm us, we must be careful not to find or encourage their evil in ourselves. We bring'em back alive and put'em on trial. Because that's how we roll. Or rather, that's how they roll. We're not so sure these days.

Let me say I've read no other reviews of this movie. Doing so would have totally harshed my writing buzz, as they say on New Vulcan. I don't know if this viewing of it has been driven into the ground or debunked as nonsense. And I never watched Lost, so I don't really know where J.J. Abrams's brain is at.

The movie is just light enough, just loud enough, just fun enough to make me think that possibly I'm full of shit. Probably.

Possibly.

But then again, J.J. Abrams is supposed to be pretty good. And it's a good story, the movie. There are themes of friendship, father-son relationships, the dichotomy of human intellect versus emotion, and a totally fucking ripping space jump scene. It is mildly predictable, but it is a Hollywood Summer Blockbuster (said with reverb).

So I'm gonna go the generous route and say ol' J.J. threw one by the Hollywood system and managed to make a pretty solid Lib-Lab Commie Scumbag allegorical science fiction flick. 3 1/4 dead Tribbles out of a four dead Tribble rating system.

HM

P.S. I don't know that you have to see it in 3D. Definitely on the big screen, but not necessarily in 3D. It was fun, but I can't say it was completely worth it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Birthday Time/How To Succeed In Parenting Without Even Trying


I'm 40 years old today. All week, he kids were asking me, "Are you excited daddy? Are you excited for your birthday daddy? You're gonna be 40 on saturday daddy, are you excited?"

"Yeah, I'm excited." I'd reply eye-rollingly.

Honestly though, I am excited. There a lot of places I expected to be at 40. Dead, drunk, naked, performing in a dive bar in East St. Louis as "Lady Gagguh." So all in all, I'm feeling pretty good about it. 

Also, there's this:

So we found this injured bird in the backyard. A grackle. I found it. The poor thing was flopping around on its back and trying to turn upright without success. I got some gloves on and tried setting it upright. It hitched and bobbed and wobbled and flipped back over again. 

"Maybe it's shitfaced?" I thought.  I smelled it's breath. No such luck. I didn't know what to do with it. I certainly couldn't have the kids finding it.

For more, please go and visit Dadcentric. Thank you and Have a Pleasant weekend. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Family's Cheerful Acquiesance To A Billionaire

I've been very busy lately. I got  a new pair of sun glasses and I've been going around trying to convince people (myself) they're Google Glass. You can take pics, make videos, google stuff. You have to say "ok glass" to activate Google Glass. This has led to a lot of me conspicuously barking "Ok Glass. Google how to say half a pound in Chinese," and then screeching a string of unintelligible gibberish at my Israeli falafel guy before abruptly turning around and moaning "Ok Glass. Google love." Then I laugh and exclaim to passers-by, , " If only  you could see it, man!" Then I try to convince strangers I'm staring at them because I'm an auteur filmmaker , then I say, "Ok Google Glass, google auteur filmmaker." Then I pass out. Technology is amazing.

This past Saturday, my family and I took part in our city's Spring Park Clean-up initiative. We swept and raked and picked up trash while a nervous city worker kept driving by to tell us he thought we'd done a heck of a job and why don't we stop already.

At the end, we had an audience with the mayor. It took my power wife five minutes to convince him she needed to be on "some committee somewhere." I was getting a sandwich.

It was nice to do something for our city because soon we're going to be taken over by casino billionaire Steve Wynn and then we'll all be spending most of our time toiling away a thousand feet below the Earth's crust in Mr. Wynn's vast poker chip mines. I can't wait to lose one of the kids at the roulette table. 

A casino for my metza-metz-not-quite-fair city is beginning to seem imminent. I actually asked the mayor and his city planner , "So you don't think you're going to get screwed by a billionaire?" They laughed and then gave me two thousand parking tickets. 

There is an agreement in place for something like 30 mil this year and 20 mil a year going forward plus a hiring preference for Everett residents. I don't know how he'll get out of paying the cash, though I'm pretty sure he will. but I do wonder if that hiring preference thing includes job training. Not a whole lot of black jack dealers in my city, I'm pretty sure. I'm also pretty sure all of Mr.  Wynn's billions would seem meaningless to him if his Google Glass could google love. Cue music. Call me, Hollywood.

------------------------------------------

Check out a Google Glass ad here. My favorite part is that while they've been spending time trying to convince us all that there is no danger of intensely creepy and ubiquitous violations of privacy, one of the first things they show in their promo video is a dude quietly following a ballerina down a dark stairwell. 

Which reminds me, what if you get google glass and you forget to deactivate the camera and then it records everything you look at for two-and-a- half hours straight? That is a lot of bootlegged Food Network.  


Also, if you click the link about the casino and read the story, that rendering of the casino is so far from what ny city looks like right now I'm convinced they're going to bulldoze the city and the forcibly re-assign the majority of us to hard labor in Mr. Wynn's vast felt paddies. 

Finally, go here and donate to help Always Home and Uncool and his family run to Cure JM. Not only will you be donating to a good cause, you'll essentially be paying to make him compete is a race against his own children. What could be better than that?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May 5th

Cinco De Mayo. or as we know it here in the Northeast, Mexican St. Patrick's Day. For those that don't know, Cinco De Mayo celebrates the day when Senor Tostito led the uprising against the imperialist forces of regular potato chips, there by freeing Mexicans to sneak over the border and bring tortilla chips and salsa to all of America to eat with beer or Margaritas while watching sports or movies. Which conversely, then freed the people of Mexico even more so they can cut our grass or become line cooks. At least, that's pretty much what I learned at my daughter's school on monday.

I happened to be volunteering at my school during their Cinco De Mayo festivities this year.

Festivities included (and were limited too):

Making paper sombreros inexpertly decorated to wear on their inexpert heads (except for my daughter who used just the perfectly tasteful amount of little colorful pom-poms, crayon squiggles, and poorly glued sequins. Truly captured the soul of Mexico if by soul of Mexico you mean Taco Bell.)

Eating tortilla chips and lousy salsa at snack time.

End of festivities.

No mention of the Mexican Revolution, the Franco-Mexican war, Hidalgo, Juarez, or Salazar (Author's note: These are Mexican heroes. As a point of pride you should know that I only had to look up three of those names, and two--Hidalgo and Salazar-- I actually recognized due to the fact that the former is the name of a very mediocre Viggo Mortenson film and the latter is a combination of luck and that Hollywood often picks it as the name of the head drug dealer in any given cop movie. America: History Shmistory, your ticket'll be twelve dollars sir.)

Also, for those that might not know, Cinco De Mayo is not a big deal in Mexico. It's more Flag Day than it is Independence Day. Which I'm cool with. Really, I don't mind vaguely racist excuses to drink and try ethnic food. At least something happened in Mexico on Cinco De Mayo. St. Patrick's day in Ireland was originally a small, sad, quiet meal consisting of mutton and depression in honor of St. Patrick Wilson's uncomfortable schtupping of Lena Dunham in Girls. Look it up if you don't believe me. It's science.

I really don't have a problem with the nationwide Margarita throwdown that is the celebration of Cinco De Mayo in the U.S. At least people are thinking about Mexico. A little.

My only issue, and it's an infinitesimal one at that, is that while they had them celebrate Cinco De Mayo at school with a racist hat'n'snack "Fiesta," they mentioned nothing. Not even that bullshit about it being Mexican Independence Day. Just, "here you go guys. Color in these paper hats as offensively as you can and then we'll go have chips!" "Yaaaaay,"the children replied.

Of course, now I'm hungry for nachos. Stupid nachos.


HM

P.S. A photo gallery of traditional Cinco De Mayo art for your enjoyment.

That is one nervous looking cactus. Maybe because it's afraid it'll be deported when the kids are done coloring it. I wonder where the school officials got the "Racist Coloring for Kindergartners Workbook." I can't find it anywhere
The Peanut can color though, can't she? Colored the shit out of that racially stereotyped cactus, that's for sure. Probably she and I should have a little talk about Mexico at some point. She should at least know that most cactuses do not dress that way.

World's record for longest photo caption.

Yaay! Peanut sure can glue the shit of some pom-poms though, can't she? Glues her ass off. 






Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Anticipation is the Best Part I Guess.

I have to pee. I'm not getting up though. Not right now. There is no way I am missing this. But man, I have to pee. Really like, squirming and worming and wiggling my butt. But if I get up now it'll be over by the time I get back. Just gotta squeeeeeze tight. Mmmf. Can't. OohUhhh. Lock my ankles together. GO just get up and go and then No no no. I'm ok. Alright. Let's see this. Whoa he's gonna rip that guy's throat out. Look out! Ahh no. I really have to pee. Seriously.

"Do you have to pee?"

"No."

"Ok, because you're wiggling all over the place."

"NoIdon'thavetogoPEEEE!"

"Ok."

Man, do I have to pee. I mean really bad. But look at this. The other guy is winning now. I can't believe it. AHH I have to pee. Get him! Look out! Ooh, I think I just let a little out. But this guy is about to kill the mean one! Arrgghh!

"Are you sure you don't have to pee?"

"YesI'mSUURREE!"

"You can take one of your dinosaurs upstairs with you."

" . . . Okaaay. Daddy this dinosaur is a Gigantosaurus and the Gigantosaurus attacked the Brachiosaurus but the Gigantosaurus is a meat eater but the Brachiosaurus manages to get away because he uses his looong tail to hit the Gigantosaurus and then he gets away."

"Wow. That's quite the upset. Get upstairs to pee now."

"Daddy come with me."

" . . . Okaaay."

Phew.




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Uphill

The boy turned four in December. Pumpkin Man. His squash remains magnificent, but man, four is tough. It wasn't quite so tough with the girl, but he was two then and she was her. Now, he's bruises and belligerence. Affection and anger. It's an in between moment, four years old. Right between baby and little boy.

Expectations mount and a lot of crap that used to be cute isn't so much anymore. Learn stuff, pick stuff up and put it away, don't shit your pants, don't chase the cat, please try to use your fork but not on the cat. The demands are multitude.  And he's got the added pressure of Polly Perfect Pants as an older sister.

Our school system uses a traffic light/Yakuza paradigm as a discipline tool. Everyone starts on green, yellow is a warning, red you lose a knuckle on your index finger.  The Peanut--in the school system for three years now--has yet to receive so much as a yellow light. Every teacher loves her and her classmates admire her. She's horrifying. From the point of view of a little brother, terrifying and absolute in her good dobeeness.

He's been on red light once so far. In pre-school. Some sort of trumped up cereal stomping charge. A charge we didn't find out about until a week later when the guilt got to him and he spilled it. His teacher neglected to mention it. We talked. She won't do that again.

He questions everything. A quality I hope he keeps forever just not right now.  He talks in streams of four year old consciousness. Streams miles long.The car is often his pulpit. Daddy always listens. Daddy sometimes dreamily contemplates unbuckling his own seatbelt and making for the nearest telephone pole, but he listens.

He's a very good boy, the Pman. Empathetic, loving, hilarious. He's good at puzzles and he loves nature. He's planning on being a nature documentarian when he grows up ("I'm gonna take pictures of animals and make movies of animals. Will you come see all my movies Daddy?" "'Course I will, buddy."). He loves hard, he plays hard. He is hard. He has an agenda that must be filled immediately. He's often got an answer for everything. He's me so much and so much more than me. He's got it hard, the Pman. Second child. Windy child. Four year old. I wouldn't go back there.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Leadership

Leadership is important. Without leadership, there would be no leaders. Or ships, possibly. Imagine a world without ships. Then we would never have the movie Titanic. What a great world. Leadership can be defined thusly:

In a world where most people would fall to their deaths by blindly walking off of cliffs--which would be a pretty long walk from Kansas--a leader is a person who will step in front of those people and say "hold on a minute here you guys" and then lead them with great insight to the fastest place to walk off that cliff.

In other words, a leader is a person who leads. Why do I bring this up you so presumptuously ask? Because on this blog, I am the leader. Every time I write I lead my readers right of of cliffs and to a watery death. At least we're in Malibu

Another person who is a born leader is my wife. She always has been the type of person who can walk into a situation and take control. Also, she is unfailingly true to herself. Helps to make her a great teacher, a great teacher mentor, a great department head, and a pretty good capture the flag player.

Now she may have a chance to be a principal. There is a fellowship in our neck of the cliffs that offers, for the qualified candidate, to both pay for their principal classes (How to Make Kids Wait on a Bench, Announcements 101, Budgeting on a Budget, The Philosophy of Pantsuits, Theoretical Angry Eyebrow Knitting, etc.) and pay her salary while she's learning. And she always said after she got her Masters, " The only way I would ever got back to school now is maybe if someone paid me. Maybe"

And so here we are. I don't know exactly how many applicants there were-- a safe guess would be a million-- but my wife is one of a handful of finalists. Which meant she had to go to a seven hour interview last week. I can only assume three and half hours of it were filled with getting the ratios of pens to pencils correct in a desk pencil cup, and the rest was practicing the most threatening/condescending way to say "Mr. Murray. Why don't you come in and have a seat."

I always got on really well with my principal if you measure it by time spent in his office.

I don't know if she'll get it, but I'm crazy proud of her already because I know she represented with passion, honesty, and students foremost in her mind.

But if she does get it, I can't wait to get called to her office. Rawr.

HM




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