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Monday, February 25, 2008

No Shortage Of Drama Here

This weekend proved to be chock full of drama here at the ol' household involving a myriad of variables.

First up was the fish.

  • I've written about the highs & lows before

  • And this weekend it bit me in the ass again.

    It was somewhere around Saturday afternoon when I realized that one of our fish, a black molly named Black (after Big Black of the show Rob & Big) wasn't doing too well and that one of the other fish was pecking away at his listing body.

    Before this progressed any further, I called the boys in and had them take a gander at the tank and see if they could come up with a solution. My oldest Spencer suggested that we remove Black until he could get back on his feet. So I got the net and scooped out Black and put him in a bowl.

    Shortly after, my wife came home and we calmly explained the situation. She told the boys it looked like Black was going to die and that we should take him to the pet store with a sample of our water.

    Black was my son Cole's fish. He didn't seemed too upset about the prospect of Black dying as long as he could get a replacement fish. Spencer was deeply concerned and went with my wife to the pet store.

    They came back empty handed but with the promise that tomorrow they would get to go to the pet store again. But one thing that did come up was that Spencer's fish was an aggressive fish and the cause of Black's untimely demise. The only solution - it was determined - was that Shark as he was so aptly named - must be removed from the tank.

    And then came the tears.

    Lots of tears.

    Spencer was upset at the thought of it all.

    The next day when they went off to the pet store, with Shark in hand to trade in, and Spencer could barely composed himself. At some point Cole put his arm around him and told him that it would be okay and that he can stop crying now. Cole, after all, explained that Black had died and he didn't cry.

    Spencer's response?

    That this situation was harder because it was like taking away a member of the family (all told through lots of tears & sobs). We've always known him to be the sensitive type but when he found out about Black he didn't shed a tear. Although he did confess to me later that he was surprised that Cole didn't get more upset.

    It's days like this you just want to say, "They are fucking FISH people!" but you can't and must keep the facade of the calm, cool parent.

    After the fish fiasco, came the tooth. Or teeth issue. Spencer had this top tooth dangling forever but suddenly one of his bottom teeth fell out at the beginning of the weekend. When he asked how much he would get my wife told him that she would wait until the other tooth fell out.

  • It was only a month ago that he called my wife out on being the Tooth Fairy

  • When I came home from working a pre-game party for the UNC vs. Wake Forest game, Spencer ran to the front door to show me his new toothless smile. Shortly before bedtime, when querying about how much money he was going to bring in from two teeth, he spat out this gem: "Since I know you are the Tooth Fairy, the only thing left I wonder about is are my parents Santa Claus..."

    We are doomed.

    On top of all that, my brother-in-law has been in the hospital with lung issues. He's a life-long smoker, so while the verdict so far isn't dire, it is painfully obvious the dude has to quit smoking for his quality of life to improve. This news coming just weeks after my father-in-law's recent hospitalization for his heart so the year seems to be off to quite a start.

    This would be the perfect time for a Mountain Goats song...

    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    Can Of Worms

    When Chag over at Cynical Dad asked me to step in to guest VJ over at his site this week, I had no idea that it was going to open of a can of worms: I've been late night surfing YouTube for lost gems from my youth everyday since the invite.

    After I can home from band practice last night, I sat outside with an adult beverage and took in the natural wonder that is a lunar eclipse.

    I came inside and resumed my surfing from the night before but with the full moon on my mind. You see, I often get what my wife refers to as male PMS and I often get these bouts around full or new moons. Being an Aquarius, I do find that the moon and the water have strange affects on me. I have written on the site before about how sometimes I feel unhinged and on the verge of bugging out during these times.

    At the beginning of the week I told my wife I just wasn't feeling right, that I felt anxious and edgy but that I couldn't put my finger on the place from whence it came.

    That was until I saw the newscast about the lunar eclipse.

    It led me to browsing the internet on the subject of lycanthropy and skin-walkers and "going full moom mad." And maybe I put some validity to such matters because I grew up on a steady diet of Bela Lugosi and Lon Cheney (and Abbott & Costello!), Stephen King, the Misfits and Fang that leads me to believe that somebody, somewhere turned into a wolf under a full moon once.

    Don't know Fang?

    Well, here they are in all their vintage VHS tape glory. I don't know too many people who cite themselves as hardcore Fang fans, as most people thought they sucked. But, and this is probably still true to this day, I've always been draw to the outcasts of the outcasts, the non-conforming non-conformists and all those who skirt the edge of the edges of society and for me Fang were one of those bands.

    I've said enough...

    Monday, February 18, 2008

    Hey DJ!

    My fellow dad Chag over at Cynical Dad dot com asked me to step in and deejay for him this week. Click on the header for a link to his fine site.

    Chag has been ending his posts for-EVER with some sort of YouTube clip and this weekend I had the pleasure of the musical invite.

    It was kinda hard - I must confess - to narrow it down to five because my head was a-twitter with the possiblities of being able to warp his readers minds with crazy shit. Suffice it to say there's no Buttholes Surfers, Clockcleaner or even the Chest Pains.

    I kept it relatively tame and did some sort of biographical look back on bands that passed through my radar while growing up. Still this was tough, because there's been many and - honestly - even I'm a bit confused by some of my choices.

    One pick was The Obsessed, a metal band from back in the days when I was dabbling in hesherism and skateboard punk as a wee lad in Aspen Hill. They were the guys who wore ammo belts and had cut-off jean jackets with patches and smelled like cheap weed.

    The Obsessed crossed-over as it were playing for both punk and metal bands. I once saw them play with Iron Cross and Government Issue at a rec center in Wheaton, Maryland.

    Wheaton, Maryland, folks!!

    And I had my dad drop me off too because I was in like 9th grade and couldn't get my driver's license until I passed chemistry. A feat I still don't know how I accomplished!

    Anyway, thinking about The Obsessed dredged up some fine memories... and also some downright scary ones.

    Case in point:

    During the end of my tenure living in Los Angeles, I had stumbled upon a weekly paper listing that The Obsessed were going to play. The band had broken up and reformed a couple of times and now it appeared they had signed to a major label. The time being what it was back then (punk had already "broke" as they say), the band was scheduled to appear to play in some seedy joint called Dragonfly that ultimately would give them some sort of hipster stamp of approval. I had previously seen Shudder To Think and Everclear there.

    So I set out to go check out the band - solo - as I had done so many times before because I was a music geek who would go to the far reaches of the earth to see a band most had never heard of nor wanted to hear of in their lifetime.

    Thing was, the flyer I had gave me the wrong information. Instead of the 6500 block of Santa Monica Blvd., it had the 6100 block of Santa Monica Blvd., which for the uninitiated (at least at the time) was boys town - the hot block for male prostitution. So I found the address - according to the flyer - and parked on some side street in a not-very-well-lit place. I felt something was amiss because I didn't see any long hairs milling about but then I convinced myself that I was just one hip motherfucker who knew about a band nobody else knew about. Ha-hah!

    Crossing the street to get to said bar I was harassed by some Latino gang members who were loitering outside a liquor store.

    Okay, that was uncomfortable but I was on a mission.

    Again, I had this slight feeling that I was in the wrong place but couldn't rightly feel confident enought that I was, so I soldiered on. But then I got to the address on the flyer and there was indeed a bar and the door was open but it surely didn't look like the Dragonfly I had been inside before, so I made a mental note and decided that my hunch that the flyer's address was wrong was indeed true. I figured I'd just go back to my car and drive a few more blocks down the boulevard and find the right place.

    I was standing on the corner waiting for traffic to pass when a tricked-out Lincoln Continental pulled up to the curb, curb-feelers scraping cement so much so that I had to step back. The electronic window on the passenger side slide down and as I bent down to look in a German(?) voice came from within.

    "You vant a ride?" said the faceless figure.

    Puzzled, I looked down again into the window.

    "Comez zit in my car," said the voice and I saw a pale white hand pat the passenger seat.

    And then it hit me that this dude thought I was some trick, some Private Idaho runaway junkie looking to score.

    Flustered and confused I shot back, "I'm just trying to cross the street," I said.

    "Vhat about vhen you cross?" said the voice.

    "Fuck off," I said.

    Then I ran into the darkness, got into my car and drove home as quickly as I could. I stopped closer to my Los Feliz crib and bought a 40 ouncer.

    Once home, I locked our front door and sat on the couch drinking that bottle as fast as I could.

    "We got to get out of this town," I said to my future wife.

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    Sunday, February 10, 2008

    Saturday Night's Alright


    For backyard bonfires.
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    Making Smores

    We seized a rare moment last night to make smores over a campfire in our backyard.

    The weather was just cold enough, the sky was clear, the moon was out and it just seemed like the right thing to do.

    We also did the right thing and called the fire department to see if the open fire ban was lifted. It was... until this morning that is, so sorry for the jinx my friends. At least we got ours in.
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    The Trail


    So my wife acquired a split rail fence.

    When she told me she got a split rail fence I assumed we were going to try and remake said fence somewhere on or around our property.


    My wife wanted to use it for firewood.

    Of course just about everybody we know told her you can't burn that shit in a chimney so she had to find another use for it.

    There was a lengthy argument about her desire to use some of it to make a privacy fence and as usual I got badgered into completing the task.

    But we were in unison on using the rest of it to make a trail to the far reachest of our backyard known as the Back Forty.

    That's where the fire pit lives... and now a sort of hiking/biking trail.

    The Backyard Beautification Process is now currently in progress...
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    The Bridge...

  the Back Forty.

    We had a bridge in place over this little creek before but it got washed away during a raging storm. You see, our neighbors haven't maintained their drainage ditch, er creek, probably ever as it's all overgrown and clogged up with God knows what so when the heavy rains come, it can cause minor flooding in our backyard.

    Maybe this one will be able to weather the storms.

    Of course, we're still in a drought and it rarely ever rains any more here.

    And becausee it has only rained sparsely in the last six months the backyard has turned to dust.

    Which means it turns to mud when it rains.

    And we don't have a mud room.

    Do the math.
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    The Back Forty

    We've called the overgrown part of our backyard the Back Forty since as long as we've lived here. The plot we have is half an acre but the old lady who was the previous - and original - owner had a little dog so she fenced in half of the backyard.

    Over the years, we've toyed with doing something back there like building a gazebo or something. Then we had kids and now the kids are older and I often talk about building a bmx track back there.

    I wanted a track, I got a trail.
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    Saturday, February 09, 2008

    The Long Lost Art Of The Medley

    Despite how one might feel about The Hives, as a musician and a music critic, this clip thoroughly blew me away during a recent late-night YouTube session.



    I was channeling surfing when I came upon the Dr. Drew-hosted trainwreck that is Celebrity Rehab and - like a car crash - I felt the need to crane my neck at take a peak.

    And much to my surprise, the gaggle of washed-up stars were in group therapy moderated by Dr. Drew and...

    Bob fucking Forrest!

    Bob was in a seminal late-'80s LA band called Thelonious Monster. The Monster featured ex-Weirdo Dix Denney on guitar. Over the course of the band's existence, they would get by with a little help from friends like John Doe (X) and Flea and John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers). The band was once championed as possibly being the next best thing out of Los Angeles but Bob's sporadic, drug-addled behavior eventually railroaded the band.

    They were an odd duck for my musical tastes at the time which consisted of a strict diet of hardcore and metal but being a avid skateboarder at the time, I was well exposed to plenty of alternative music (Chili Peppers, Jane's Addiction etc.) that I would soemtimes listen to as a break from all the bar chord noise going on in my head. Something about Thelonious Monster spoke to me whether it was Bob's lyrics or their drunk punk attitude (close cousins to the Replacements) and somehow they managed to secure a lifelong spot in my collection.

    Several years ago, Bob Forrest came through Chapel Hill on some triple-bill of songwriters and played an acoustic show at the sandwhich shop/used book store called Skylight Exchange. Not having heard from him since the demise of Thelonious Monster (nobody ever informed me about the post-Monster outfit Bicycle Thief) I felt pulled to go see him.

    As I browsed the books during one of the opening acts playing (that I can't remember) I bumped into Bob - dressed in customary suit and hat despite it being the middle of the summer in the southeast - and struck up a conversation with him. It was far from the fanboy type as I had learned over the course of my music journalism days that that kind of conversation gets you nowhere, and more on a level of book geekdom.

    He left to buy some books and then put them in his car. As he was walking down the alley back to the club he noticed me walking out with a book in hand.

    "Whaddya get?" he asked.

    "Howl" I said. I was in the midst of a City Lights Pocket Poetry chapbook collecting spree and it was a pleasant surprise to stumble upon this Ginsberg classic in this ramshackled location.

    "Nice!" he said.
    "I was thinking to myself that if it was still there after my set I was going to buy it!"

    Bob played barefoot.

    It was good, not great.

    He appeared sober.

    And that was the last I'd heard of Bob until spotting him on the show.

    So this one's for Bob Forrest...well and my sister (who's not born-again by the way).

    Wednesday, February 06, 2008


    I don't believe I've got many superstitions especially when it comes to sports like rally caps and such yet I've know many people who can only wear certain things when watching their favorite sports teams.

    But I do think UNC basketball's All-American center Tyler Hansbrough might have a few as I've seen him several times eating breakfast at the Whole Foods near my house and he always seems to be sitting in the exact same seat.

    So if you fancy yourself a Tar Heel fan, click on the headline for direct linkage to Psycho T's autograph... on a grease-stained Whole Foods napkin no less.

    Why? Because tonight is the UNC vs. Duke game which is one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports. And the Heels could use some good luck.

    Saturday, February 02, 2008

    Inside The Devil's Lair

    It's been busy around these parts for the last few weeks.

    I'm doing an internship at the local NPR affiliate - WUNC radio - and I started taking a class through the Center For Documentary Studies in Durham by Duke University, both as a way to add a few more feathers to my cap for when I get to job hunting when my 4-year-old goes to kindergarten.

    Band practice has also resumed from the holiday break.

    And now catering is starting to pick up again.

    I had to work last Thursday. When I checked my schedule I saw that the party was on Duke's campus and that it was in a building by Cameron Indoor Stadium. So I checked the team's basketball schedule and - sure enough - there was a game that night which meant that most likely my party would be a pre-game thing. Pre-game shifts are always hectic because you have to scramble to set up the space before getting slammed by a rush of people eager to eat and drink before high tailing it to their seats. The upside is that these parties are usually quick and have what we like to call an end time because people have somewhere to go and therefore don't stand around shooting the shit while we caterers have to politely wait for them to leave before we can break down and clean up.

    When I got to campus I found out that this particular party was going to be held on this sixth floor of a building right next to Cameron. The guy who was captain for the pary arrived with the van full of supplies and confirmed my suspicion: it indeed was a pre-game gig. But instead of the usual fare of heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks this was to be a seated, served dinner (three course) for 14 people.

    No big deal. I've done this sort of thing a thousand times.

    The problem was that we needed a card to get into the building and then some sort of ID to get the elevator to work. Again, not that usuual as most campus buildings these days have pretty good security.

    When we pulled the cart of food and drinks off the elevator we were greeted by a big picture of a Duke basketball player and then a whole hallway of photos and trophies.

    "Oh shit," I mumbled.

    As some assistant told us where our kitchen space and prep area was going to be it became plainly obvious that we were in the war room of Duke basketball.

    We set up our are and then went into a conference room and turned it into fine dining. As guests arrived I was instructed to see if any of them wanted something to drink. This is called butlering - as oppose to standing at a bar - and takes a bit more dexterity to balance a dozen of so drinks in varying glassware on a small, round tray.

    The door to the room was closed and the assistant pointed to another door that I could use to get into the room so I turned and entered...

    And I found myself smack dab in the middle of Mike Krzyzewski's office.

    Or Coach K as he is known to the rest of the world.

    I had joked earlier when we were unloading the van about how I should have brought my camera because the world needs to see the silliness that is Krzyzewskiville: a tent city where students camp out for Duke basketball tickets. I would love to ask the parent of one of these students how they feel that their kid is spending an entire semester in a tent for $45,000 a year.

    And now here I was in Coach K's office with signed basketballs and trophies and framed jerseys and not a damn thing to show for it.

    Man I wish I had a camera phone just for times like this.

    For you Heels fans, nope I didn't get a chance to pinch their playbook or spill red wine on Coach K's floor but there's always next time....

    And now the menu:

    Passed Hors D'oeuvres-
    crab cakes topped with basil aioli
    house-smoked salmon on a potato cake with creme fraiche and chives

    First Course-
    Arugala salad with red onion and parmigiano-reggiano

    Second Course-
    Cowboy-cut beef steak served over sweet potato hash, topped with chipotle-lime compound butter.

    Third Course-
    Creme Brulee

    Everybody Knows About The Bird

    A couple of days ago, shortly after his bath, my 4-year-old waltzed into the family and said, "Dad look!"

    I turned to see him standing there, fingers balled into a fist with his middle finger in the air.

    I said nothing.

    He stood there.

    "Look dad!" he said this time shaking his finger at me with an angry face.

    At this point I wasn't sure what to think or say and - quite honestly - began to wonder just where in the hell he learned this gesture.

    A few moments passed while I began to formulate a reply before he spoke again.

    "Look! I have a CUT on my finger!" he said.

    This was followed by a "sheesh" and then: "Can I have a band aid?"