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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Boognish Sighting


I saw Ween last Friday.

Click on the headline for linkage to a review I wrote for Harp.
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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Going International

Stefan Korn over at diyfather dot com did a podcast with me last week.

Click on the headline for direct linkage.

We talked about what it is like to be a modern father, dads as primary caregivers and the At Home Dad convention among others things.

It's weird finding myself as some sort of spokesperson for dads that are raising kids while mom is at work.

But I'm all about trying to shed some light on what it is like to be a 21st Century dad and hopefully let people know there are alternatives to "mainstream" parenting.
[yes, it's a picture of me holding a blender with my kids. don't ask]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ghost Riding Tha Whip

The other night my wife and I were shooting the shit and somehow we dredged up an old memory.

And its one that we've brought up a few times before that needs to finally be put to paper.

Er, virtual paper.

As the story goes... it's the early '90s and we're a broke but very much in love couple living in Los Angeles with a few friends in a house nestled in a canyon in the Verdugo Hills (somewhere between Glendale and Pasadena). You could ride your bike op Glenoaks Blvd. and come up on a ridge that overlooked the Rose Bowl.

When the Bills played the Cowboys in the Super Bowl we climbed that ridge with flour and tried to write "Go Bills" but clearly our letters weren't big enough because we never saw them on television.

Being broke and young in LA at the time, we decided that we would take up camping as a way to see the world around us - we weren't budding naturalists as much as card-carrying Frugalists. So we got a two-person tent, some 20 degree sleeping bags, borrowed our roommates' camping stove and off we went to camp for the first time.

We ended up somewhere in the Angeles National Forest and names like JPL, Altadena and Wilderness Park circulate up in that windtunnel that is my head but I can't pinpoint the exact place. I know it was close (but also about 2,500 feet higher in elevation; the word topography would permenantly entire my vocabulary then) and that the road to the campsite prove to be very windy, full of curves and one that made us slightly dizzy by the end.

I remember the campground being bare,almost empty, and I remember waking up to ice on the tent and my digital watch on the fritz from the condensation. It was winter but winter in LA and my knowledge of altitudes was limited.

So our night "roughing it" basically consisted of driving to a campsite in the dead of winter, setting up our tent, getting wasted and then going to bed only to wake up at God know's what time to bitter cold.

We packed up and out and scratch our heads; it was camping L.A. style and we chuckled how quickly we succumbed to the elements.

As we left the campground parking lot, we spotted a guy on a beach cruiser just approaching the road that would lead down the "mountain" if you will and then we watched - in total amazement - the dude ride down the entire winding mountain road with no hands.

After each turn, when you'd expect him to grab the handlebars and steady the beast, he'd not do it, and then we would erupt into Dude!/Sweet! laughter. At one point I think we even hit the travel odometer to track the mileage because surely we were witnessing something of Guinness Book Of World Records proportions.

When we all arrived at the bottom of the hill (see now it's a hill!) he finally put his hands on the bars. We cruised past him as my wife leaned her head out the car window and gave her best Ozzy Osborne-like-a-dog-out-a-car-window impersanation throwing the devil horns and screamin' "Heeeellllll YYYeeeaaaaahhhhh!"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Before Having Kids


I had this hobby called photography.

Once a budding independent filmmaker/videographer in college (it's called getting a Mass Com degree folks!),I soon turned to photography because it seemed cheaper and less cumbersome then the latter.

I turned out to be dead wrong but I was too far gone for the cause to turn back.

Much like music, it became a necessary and accepted flaw.
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Might As Well


I was a music editor at a local weekly and my job involved - or so I thought at least and one could call it research - going to see a lot of shows.

But unfortunately, we had a limited budget for freelancers and back then a photographer had to incur the cost of film & processing plus their time and energy for an assignment [uh, analog]. I felt bad only being able to pay them what I could pay them so I took to taking pictures myself (satisfying my latent desires under the guise of "job responsibility").

This is a picture of Mac McCaughan eating a fish taco. I believe this was part of a story I wrote about Merge Records turning ten.

Or maybe it was just for a new record they had released.

Back when they released new records and back when I had the time to write about people releasing new records.

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Photo Fetish


I soon developed a fetish for foot shots.

[That last line is going to kill me on Google searches...]
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Yer Soaking In it


PIPE set list.

Suffice it to say, I saw a lot of PIPE shows...
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Game Grub


One thing that I like about watching championship football is the ability to drink and eat to my hearts desire by the warm hearth of a fire.

Nothing says football grub like pigs in a blanket so of course we had to have that on the menu. Also on tap was prosciutto-and-swiss wrapped asparagus (ever notice the the smell of your urine after consuming asparagus? It must be in the chlorophyll as a recently had white asparagus and it was quite noticeably absent) and Moroccan-spiced salmon (served on sliced baguette brushed with olive oil and crisped under the broiler) that was leftover from the shift I worked on Saturday.

The wife nixed my plan for beer cheese fondue but soldiered on to make cream cheese and crab wontons in our frydaddy, the making of which turned into a family affair.

It was a good day...
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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tooth Fairies, Home Invasion, and Lying

My eldest son recently lost his third tooth.

He's seems like he's a little behind the curve as far a loosing teeth goes as far as compared to most of his classmates.

His first tooth he inadvertently swallowed (and no I didn't sift through his shit to find it).

I remember the tooth fairy giving him five dollars since it was his first tooth (and since it met such an unsavory demise).

My wife and I couldn't remember how much money the tooth fairy gave him for No. 2 so we asked him and he had this elaborate story about how the tooth fairy left him three dollars in a tiny box under his pillow.

Not knowing what the fuck he was talking about with the whole box thing my wife interjected saying that the fairy doesn't always leave money in a box thus covering our asses.

Or so she thought.

That night the kid was all high anxiety, much the same way he's been in recent years with Santa - about the prospect of some stranger entering our house and coming into his room. To him it's straight up home invasion of the sort you'd see on reality television like COPS. To relieve him of this stress, we suggested he put the tooth in a zip loc bag and leave it outside his door (which would also help us from a.) forgetting and b.) not having to possibly wake him while digging around under his pillow for a tooth).

At the eleventh hour he decided he wanted to indeed have the tooth under his pillow and not outside his door.

The next morning he awoke with a clatter and came barging into our room...

"You lied, mom!" he said.
"You lied. You are the tooth fairy!"

We both looked at each other quizzically and then he explained that he had told us three dollars as a test and that he had told us three dollars when in reality he had only gotten one dollar for the previous tooth.

Since he told my wife three dollars, deductive reasoning led him to conclude that my wife was the tooth fairy.

"My mom is the tooth fairy!" he said with a wry smile.
"I can't wait to get to school and tell my friends my mom is the tooth fairy."

"That might not be a wise idea," I said.
"Why don't you just keep that to yourself for the mean time."


Man, kids are just too smart these days.

It makes keeping those parenting secrets alive harder and harder...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fuckin' Squirrels, Man


I got a new bird feeder for Christmas from the family because I really like birds.

  • I really do.

  • I've managed to make friends with the wrens from the summer and have been tossing them old bread from time to time and then I figured since winter was upon us that maybe it would be nice to put some food out there on a regular basis for them.

    I hung the bird feeder up in one of the trees right off our back deck; one that had an easy vantage point from the window over the sink in the kitchen (where I spend most of my time rinsing and cleaning dishes) as well as out the back door (which I go through all the time to toss beer bottles into the recycling bins).

    It seemed like the birds were ignoring it or hadn't discovered it yet because every time I looked out the window the feeder was still full. Yet my backyard is full of birds like cardinals, wrens, orioles, finches, tufted tit mice and the occasional owl, hawk or falcon.

    The one day the feeder was empty.

    Completely empty.

    And the I noticed that the fucking squirrels had chewed their way through the little beak size holes and made them big enough to stick their heads in there.

    Don't get me wrong, I like squirrels for the most part.

  • We almost adopted one this past summer

  • But goddamn if they aren't a total fucking nuisance when it comes to trying to maintain a bird feeder.

    I always hear of talk of squirrel-proof feeders but then everybody I know who has purchased one said that the squirrels eventually figure out a way to get at the food.

    Somebody help me... or help the birds!
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    Sunday, January 13, 2008

    Bands and Beers and Shit


    Over the weekend I was the doorman at a local hotel and bar for an event called
  • Elvisfest

  • It was about twenty bands over two nights with the catch being that each band had to include two Elvis songs into their set.

    As you can probably imagine, the place was crawling with pompadors, chain wallets, chubby Betty Page wannabes, and plenty of tattoos. There was capes, kilts and cowboy hats.

    All things considered it was a fairly sedate crowd and there wasn't any problems with the general douchebaggery you get anytime you have that many bands in one place. Although I did catch shit from putting on people's wristbands too tight and marveled at how skinny some women's wrist can be.

    There was a lot of people and a lot of those people got drunk.

    At the end of night two some guy stumble in the door with a handful of stickers and gave me one. It pretty much summed up the general attitude of the weekend.

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    "C'mon Dad!"

    I spent the better part of Saturday morning teaching my 7-year-old how to ollie.

    An ollie is a skateboard trick that involves smacking the tail end of the board on the ground with your foot (or front end... that would be a nollie) and making it pop up into the air. It is to skateboarding what the bunny hop was to BMX.

    He's got this obsessive nature and is an imprintable freak which can be both adorable and annoying at time so he was thrust into this early morning ollie session after spending a week play Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 on PS2.

    We did a lot of this type of stuff over the summer where I would use a stick as something innocuous to jump over. So we found a stick in the yard and put it in the middle of the street.

    One of the older neighborhood kids rode by on his bike and decided to watch and see my son practice his ollies. My wife came out to watch as well. At one point I was getting aggravated because he refused to listen to the instruction I was giving him when all of the sudden my wife chimed in, "Well let's see you do it!" And then my son came at me as well, "C'mon Dad!"

    Game on.

    I nailed it on my second attempt but my son was up the street and claimed it wasn't a "clean one." But his friend said that I made it.

    So I did it again.

    The neighborhood kid seemed impressed.

    Tuesday, January 08, 2008

    Food, Glorious Food


    It's been some time since I wrote about food despite that fact that the holidays innudated me with fine grub so I'm going to try and get back to doing more food posts.

    Yesterday I made beer brats with carmelized onions and dijon mustard served with "chips" (as those Brits like to say).

    Take notice of the paper plate: in my wife's quest to reduce water usage in the midst of this crazy drought the Southeast has found itself in, she has taken to paper products.

    So we've traded one problem for another.

    It's always something ain't it?
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    Friday, January 04, 2008

    Guitar Hero Heroes

    My wife always swore that there would never be a video game console in our house.

    And then came Christmas and the PS2 from her sister.

    And then came Madden 08, NHL 07 and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4.

    And then came the saddened cry to the world, "I've lost my family to Playstation!"

    But that all changed when we scored the Guitar Hero I & II bundle off of craigslist - complete with two wireless guitars - for $100.

    Then the family spent the waning hours of 2007 standing in front of the family room TV taking turns at songs like Danzig's "Mother," Cheap Trick's "Surrender," and Wolf Mother's "Woman" to name a few.

    And now my wife is a video game junkie on her way to being a Guitar Hero hero
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    Fathers & Sons


    I spend so much of my time these days trying to figure and discover just what it means to be a father to sons that sometimes I forget that I still am son to a father.

    Over the holidays I got the chance to spend some time with my parents and – in particular – my father. I had been in contact with my mother over the past month or so trying to nail down the specifics of a visit be it them coming here or my family going to them.

    Eventually it boiled down to the ‘rents coming to me.

    So I put a plan in motion and succeeded: I scored a pair of UNC basketball tickets for me and my dad. Nothing says “I love you” in a more manly father-and-son way then getting much-sought after tickets to a legacy basketball team currently ranked Number 1 in the polls.

    It was the least I could do for a man who took me to God knows how many Redskins games – my dad has had season tickets since before I was born. Of course I still curse him for exposing me to that sports radio prick Ken Beatrice because I can’t think of any Skins memories without thinking of waiting out parking lot traffic at RFK listening to his post game wrap-up.

    Not only was my dad an avid Skins fan but he was almost all things sports growing up; he was elemental in the formation of the Olney Boys & Girls Clubs and was a coach, ump and referee throughout my upbringing.

    It was probably a necessary respite from spending his days toiling away in the bowels of the Dept. of Defense, Crystal City, The Pentagon or whatever type of government jimjam he had his hands in at the time.

    Yes, my dad was a high school football referee. Which I guess is sort of like having a dad as a cop except he had only access to a yellow flag not a gun

    My dad coached me in CYO track when I was in elementary school. I’m not sure how it came about like was there no one to coach the 12 under boys team and my dad stepped up or that he wanted to take a stab at it and I was his entry to that world. I think he coached my sister’s softball team and my brothers’ football team at various points but that seemed fairly long ago in my mind by the time he got to me. And what did he do? He made this sprinter - 100, 200, 4x100 and long jumper - tackle the 800 meter run. Maybe he saw something in me that I didn’t but I always thought it was because we needed someone to run the 800 and there was nobody else to do it and being the coach’s son I was the default guy. I still get razed by my brother Mike for making it to the championship during my inaugural year at the 800, finding myself tied for second on the final turn, yet I managed to finish dead last.

    During the game we talked about many things fathers and sons talk about – old neighbors, relatives, and the state of the union (ha! That last one’s a joke folks. I don’t go near politics or religion with my parents), but one of the things we talked about was what makes a good coach. He said good players. But I said a good coach knows how to recruit the right players. We went on at length about “coach-ability” but in the end it came down to being able to lead or finding those who will follow your lead which is a lot about what being a parent is about – it’s a lot like coaching and sometimes your dad might be like Bobby Knight but despite his warts-and-all disposition he still might posses some decent qualities. While my father by no means was a Bobby Knight, I’d say more like Dean Smith or Joe Gibbs where intellect came before emotion.

    This could probably merit a longer post but I hate reading long winded posts myself so here you go. Pictured above is the rally towels they gave out at the UNC vs. Nevada game we went to. I’ll be selling these on eBay for top dollar when they finish the season undefeated…
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    Did You Know?

    - the moon will be at its farthest point from Earth for the month of January. The Earth’s closest approach to the sun for the year is called
  • perihelion

  • - that
  • tonic water
  • has about the same amount of sugar as other carbonated drinks like soda

    - what the purpose of the
  • Iowa caucus
  • is