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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ah, Finally... Christmas


When you are the parent of two boys Christmas can get pretty hairy - there's not a toy on the market that these kids didn't want although we did somehow managed to trim the fat as they say and get them to buckle down and make a list of the "important stuff" as my oldest son said.

Of course just about everything we got them was trump'ed by the Playsation 2 my sister-in-law got them. It's been sore thumbs and blood-red eyes since then!

It is quite humbling to have your 7-year-old son kick your ass at Madden 08 but downright exciting that despite our age differences we still can muster up competitive game play. The next day they took some of their gift money and we headed off to the game store to get some used games. We picked up NHL 07 and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (plus some ATV game for my youngest) which should tide them over for some time. Now the focus is on a memory card... or so I'm told.

There's still lots to digest - both literally and figuartively - about this holiday season (and the joys of Guitar Hero III!) but I'm glad it is finally coming to close and the family can now focus our attention on 2008.
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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sweet, Dude, Sweet...


"Dad," said my 4-year-old son.

"Can I see the camera?"

"Sure," I said and then turned and went about my business of checking my work schedule online, making a few phone calls and folding some clothes.

All of the sudden I heard "Ah! Sweet, dude, sweet!"

This is the picture he took.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Is Santa Real?

My 4-year-old walked into the family room this weekend and proudly proclaimed that Santa Claus is not real.

"Who told you that?" I asked.

"Nobody," he said. "I just know."

"Well that's news to me because last I checked Santa was real," I said.

His brother never really questioned the existence of Santa until recently. The last two years we've taken to writing their names on presents from Santa left handed so that they wouldn't be able to recognize our hand writing.

This year my 7-year-old said he was going to ask Santa for his autograph because then he'd know it wasn't me - because after all - I would be asleep when Santa came to deliver the goods. This is the same kid who asked me how Santa got into houses that didn't have fireplaces; we need to update our folk tales quickly if we want to keep up with the future generations.

I've gone to great lengths already to preserve the lore surrounding Christmas.

  • For instance,there was that Rudolph story

  • My youngest also told me that the Santa at the mall was fake. I rallied and explained that Santa can't be everywhere during the Christmas season so he has people stand-in for him. "The elves are fake too Dad," he said.

    If you were at the mall, you probably saw the wind go out of my sails at that moment.

    "Yeah, those are fake elves," I said.

    Then we sat there in silence watching kids get their pictures taken on Santa's lap.

    Monday, December 17, 2007

    The B Brothers Live


    Where my kids get some of this stuff is beyond me.

    Anyway, the B Brothers played their show on Saturday. I didn't have a mic for the vocals so it's pretty much awash in noise but you still get the overall vibe of their performance. I'd tried to post the mp3 but apparently BLogger won't let me.

    The Set List:

    -Life Is A HWY
    -Tony Hall (aka Tony Hawk)
    -Gems Today
    -Snake Attack
    -Hard Cour Wreslers (that's hardcore wrestlers, yo!)
    -Hot Wheels Beat That
    -Race Track
    -Go Kart
    -Kids From The Future
    -Soul Boy
    -Run, Run, Run (which features the nugget, "one thing you can't run from and that's yourself")
    -Shark Attack

    All songs from the forthcoming CD The B Brothers in Outer Space...
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    Saturday, December 15, 2007

    O, Christmas Tree

    The family went out last night and got our Christmas tree. While it's not the cool-as-tits black goth tree that Rock Star Mommy is sporting I still think it's a pretty freakin' awesome tree.

    We've gone to the same place for the last three years and their trees always seem to be spot on: always symmetrical and fresh.

    When we got back home we whipped up some snacks and got to the business at hand of decorating the bad boy.

    Decorating the Christmas tree requires background music. But since I'm in the business of working at holiday parties, I'm just about at my wit's end with kids' choruses backed by cheap Casio keyboards or that insipid James Taylor holiday CD I was forced to endure at a recent celebration. Fortunately, I've been in the business [could you say "business" one more time Greg? - Ed.] of writing about music for the last fifteen plus years and possess some fairly eclectic Xmas discs.

    I usually save my Etta James 12 Songs Of Christmas for Xmas morning and the opening of presents because her voice is so pure and divine it seems appropriate and definitely sets the setting. Last night I decided dig deep and go for Merry Axemas Volumes 1 and 2. And while Al Di Meola, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani make my skin crawl, tucked between cuts by them are seminal holiday favorites tackled by guitar virtuosos. Some of my favorites tracks are Steve Stevens' "Do You Hear What I Hear," Zakk Wylde's "White Christmas," Robin Trower's "O Little Town Of Bethlehem," Joe Perry's "Blue Christmas," and the Brian Setzer Orchestra's "Jingle Bells." Shit, even the Nuge's "Deck The Halls" is tolerable!

    I hope everyone has a very rockin' Holiday Season.
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    Friday, December 14, 2007

    I Heart Shudder To Think

    Last night, while tending bar at some neighborhood holiday party in Chapel Hill, a Shudder To Think song popped into my head. Shudder To Think has been on the tip of my tongue and on Recently Played in my brain for a few weeks now.

    I'd like to go on and on about what a great band they were - often overlooked and almost always misunderstood - but I'll just let this clip speak for itself. Not the best quality but they signed to Sony towards the end of their career (and quite possibly could be argued as the band's death knell - like so many other early '90s alt.rock bands who gave up the indie label ghost for the majors). So Sony vids can't be embedded. Bastards.

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    Awesome Show Coming Up!


    I worked late last night and when I woke up to make the kids breakfast I saw this gig poster stuck to the pantry.

  • These guys rock!

  • Hopefully I'll have a show review to post after their gig but be forewarned - they've pulled a George Jones on me before and just never showed up for their performance.

    And they've bailed me several times when I had the studio booked for their inaugural (and soon-to-be seminal!) recording session.

    Fucking rock stars...

    [UPDATE: I've since noticed two more gig posters - one in the hallway and one on the back of my bedroom door - for the upcoming show. One even has an admission price: "Two bucks."]

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    Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    Found Art, Lost Friend


    I recently found this little drawing in my desk from Craig Grasso.

    Craig was a pro freestyle BMX'er back in the late '80s/early '90s [he once road naked during a King Of Vert contest!] that I met through my bmxing friends. He fell in love with a girl who lived in Maryland and ran with my circle of friends so he came out from Southern California a few times to visit. I even put him up with a place to stay at my parents' house during a summer between college semesters when I was home in Aspen Hill.

    I showed him all the trails we rode and the old, hot jumping grounds from when I was a kid riding Torkers and P.K. Rippers and doing crossed-up kick outs at places like the Alligator Pit, the big launcher at Wood Jr. High, and that big ass hill behind Peary High School (which is now totally overgrown and wooded by the way). He would do the same a few months later when I came to Hermosa Beach to visit some of my friends. Only Craig's repertoire involved wall rides, something I was not well-versed in.

    He was a super nice guy and crazy talented both on his bike and off it: the guy had this Mark Gonzales style of illiterate outsider art going on. I was never quite sure if Craig really couldn't spell or if misspelling words was part of his style.

    After I relocated to Southern California in '91, I still kept in touch with Craig even though he lived in San Francisco where he was part of the storied bicycle messenger scene and a soap box derby racer. He also had the claim to fame of living at one time with Puck from the Real World.

    Once during a visit to SF, Craig and his buddy took me to some crazy ass warehouse party where we drank assloads of Jagermeister and then on the way home from the party, before we could stop at some "killer burrito joint," they initiated me into the seedy world of gay SF.

    They pulled over curbside in what appeared to me to be some random place in town and instructed me to get out of the car. They said they had a dare for me. This was the pre-Jackass days of skate/bmx culture which was - and still is - filled with fiesty challenges of bravado and courage.

    My request seemed simple enough: I was to walk down the alley in front of me and they would meet me on the other side.

    Didn't seem like much of a challenge so I eagerly flung into action.

    About 25 yards down I realized something wasn't right. The alley was littered with bottles and condoms and wreaked of piss and shit. And soon enough I was greeted by a man in a 10 gallon hat and leather chaps, cock in hand being stroked asking me if he could "service me."

    "No thanks," I said and just kept walking only to find the entire alley overrun with gay male prostitutes all who resembled in one way or another a member of the Village People.

    When I got to the end of the alley, Craig was hunched over holding his ribs laughing his ass off.

    My face must have been pale. I'd had never seen anything like that before.

    "Welcome to the Castro!" said Craig.

    And with that we got back into the car and got ourselves some "killer burritos."

    I lost track of Craig sometime before I moved from SoCal to NC in '95 and haven't heard a peep from or about him since then...

    [UPDATE: A contemporary told me that last he heard Grasso was living and working in that alley he dared me to walk through...]

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    No Shit


    We took the kids to the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Christmas parade on Saturday morning. We've been going to that parade and camping out in front of the Orange County Social Club since before we had kids. Even though we moved to Durham it still is an annual tradition.

    Usually I don't get to make it because of my catering work schedule and usually it is cold as hell out but this year the temperature was downright balmy and I managed to squeeze in some free time.

    And just to show you how serious they take their basketball here in Chapel Hill, the fire engines are painted Carolina blue and have the patented Tar Heel logo imprinted on them.

    I wonder, are there any other college towns out there who eschew the traditional red fire engine in favor of the local university's colors?
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    Friday, December 07, 2007

    Looking Back

    One thing I love about blogging is the archives. Having always been one to keep some sort of diary or journal, being able to word search your archives or go back to a certain date in time appeals to the archivalist in me.

    The first week of December in 'O5 I was
  • being abducted by aliens

  • and in '06 I was
  • channeling my middle age rage

  • Well, I haven't had any visits from aliens lately but I'm still channeling my middle age rage: Chest Pains with
  • Gun Metal Black
  • and
  • Tooth
  • tonight in Durham...

    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    A Task Of Herculean Proportions

    Well maybe many tasks but starting with the show my band played last night, I will either have to work a catering gig or play with my band 11 out of the next 13 days.

    That's pretty brutal if I may put it bluntly: Imagine getting up with your kids at 7:30am everyday, making them breakfast (and lunch for school), doing household chores for the next few hours while Number 2 is at playschool (and writing to meet deadlines), entertaining both kids afterschool until dinner (which I will have to make) and then head off to work some party until God knows when (or in the case of last night play in some smoky club until God knows when). Then come home and pray for a good night's sleep so you can wake up and start the whole process over again... like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

    This is my life right now.

    In two weeks I'm sure I'll be writing about having bronchitis or the flu or some shit.

    I'm smart enough to wade through the waters with caution but being dead dog tired doesn't ward off the cooties very well.

    I Smell Like An Ashtray

    It's one of the downsides to being in a band.

    You sit around for hours in a club pounding your free beer, waiting to play, then make $40 and come home smelling like an ashtray.

    I've already showered and still wreak of cigarette smoke.

    Playing smoke-free clubs is such a pleasure...

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    I Regret To Inform You All

    I have passed down SAS to my 7-year-old son.

    It's true, I had my suspicions for months now but last night was the deal sealer.

    I heard him calling me from behind the bathroom door.

    It was the sound of distress.

    I open up to see what was the matter and was greeted by the most heinous smell ever.


    His ass fucking stunk like a cesspool baking in the hot, humid sun.

    I gagged and then asked him what he needed.

    "I can't reach that book," he said.

    So I grabbed the book in question, the one the finger was pointing to and gave it to him.

    Then made a hasty exit and bowed my head in shame for passing on the Stinky Ass Syndrome to my son.

    But I did look up and say a quick prayer to God and tell him that I'm thankful, thankful we've got two fucking shitters up in this joint!

    And yes, the little fella reads on the toilet.

    Wonder where he got that idea?

    Monday, December 03, 2007

    Product Review - The Baby Butler

    When I recently received an email about reviewing some baby products, I figured what the hell. We at-home dads are sailing in unchartered waters so any light I can shed on the situation I feel is a good thing.

    It took me several years being the at-home primary caregiver before I decided to reach out to other dads on the interweb and seek guidance and counsel.

    And when I did find web sites and blogs dedicated to the AHDs of the world, well it was sorta like replying to a classified ad in the back of the punk zine Flipside as a teenager – suddenly I found myself surrounded by like-minded people in a similar situation.

    I’ve been extolling the virtues of punk rock D.I.Y ideologies since as long as I can remember and if you really think about it, me being an at-home dad is just an extension of the do-it-yourself philosophy.

    So I am eager and excited to be able to help educate the world on the needs of fathers who are the primary caregiver: 7 years ago there were no black diapers bags, rather it was world filled in pink and covered in bunnies and bears. We have truly made some strides in the last few years.

    This brings me to the Baby Butler – a unique and clever way to free up your hand during bottle-feeding an infant. Now I must say that my boys are way past the days of bottle feeding but damn I do recall wanting to grow another appendage to help me out in my day-to-day dealings with a baby. Which is exactly what the Baby Butler does for you: it essentially gives you a third hand.

    The basic premise is that you have a burp cloth with a velcro’ed spot to affix a bottle. This is all fine and good but one thing that is often overlooked in the kid market is versatility. Because what might seem like a wise investment now will only end up being an item taking up closet space the next. Kids develop at an alarming rate of speed (take note you non-parents out there) and spending your hard-earned cash on something your child will age out of in mere weeks can dissuade the frugal parent from exercising their purchasing power. The beauty of the Baby Butler is that its not only a weighted burp cloth slash bottle holder but can also double as a diaper changing pad and even has a pocket to store your binky, er, pacifier. And it is the Baby Butler's ability to be utilized in many different ways that makes it a good thing. Plus, at $22 a pop, they are reasonably cheap.

    Now all we need is to take it one step further and invent the ManBoob™ so that fathers can truly enjoy the breastfeeding experience.

    *click the headline for a link to product website