Saturday, June 30, 2007

Where'd he go?

Is his identity revealed?

Hang on

Saving the world will have to wait while I get this.

It's amazing, btw., how many trucks honked at Coco, how many people stopped to ask him if he was saving the world, and how many construction workers smiled and waved. Maybe because it's New York, but Spidey got quite a welcome.

The costume

See? The ultimate Spidey costume, because it's reversible. And, trust me, we make full use of this function (about once every 12 minutes).

And, in case you were wondering, the authority insists that what we have here is a costume. Peter Parker's is different. His is a suit.

the accent

The accent here is the weirdest.
I don't know if you were following my problems with being "axed" a question.
Coco was at the playground with his new Spiderman (reversible!!) costume and a little girl asked to see his "max." But even she realized how weird that sounded and tried it again, "ma-a-x."
Poor thing.
The dropped t is a secondary peeve. I don't mind it so much in others, but for some reason it bugs me when Madge says "ki'en."
This week I heard an even more extreme version of it when a lady referred to a "co-hang-guh" (dropped t, overenunciated g).

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Now my blogging time is being eaten up.

My voice recorder is collecting ideas, but how to tease them into a post is a mystery to me.
Recent recording: To say that a novel is plotted and planned like a chess game is not only a cliche, but a bad one. Many chess games are terribly obvious and lopsided. Those that aren't frequently end in a draw. Most of what happens in a chess game is beneath the surface and all you really see is some pawn magically making it to the last rank to be promoted.
The novels described as chess-like tend to be more domino-like, where everything gets set up painfully and then, pllllllllllllllllllllt, all fall down.

How did I get to thinking about this? Well, the ominous goldfish opening led to books on chess openings which take a simple beginning and explore several promising continuations.
For example, the classic Goldfish would lead to a frantic trip to the pet store to find identical fish as replacements.
But you could also have a Talking Goldfish Gambit in which the Goldfish begin to spill secrets about their owners.
Or the Literal Goldfish Sacrifice in which a child shaves the gold off one of the fish to make a ring, which turns out to be magic.
I'm just saying.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Fish

You may wonder why Julie left such a panicked comment yesterday.
See, this weekend, one of the fish got him or herself stuck in the decorative leaves. It appears a fish does not have much of a “reverse” function. And, when we freed him or her, the fish spend a good bit of time floating belly up before paddling first with one fin and then sprinting around with both.
Understandably, Julie (never too much of an optimist) is concerned.

pre-k spells relief

Got a call yesterday, letting me know that someone dropped out of the half-day Pre-K program at Madge's school and that Coco can go.
Now it's time to fill out antiquated paperwork.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ominous openings

Some stories have great opening lines that suck you in and don’t let you go.
For example, from George and Martha, “George was fond of peeking in windows.”
Other stories have opening lines that can only lead in one direction.
For example, from Our Life in Park Slope, “We were taking care of our neighbor's goldfish.”

Coco Tuesday

Coco seems to equate vacation, (or, “bocation,” as he calls it) with leaving town. So I foresee some problems next week when Julie is taking some time off work – which, unfortunately means nothing to him, otherwise our problems would be solved.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Madge Monday

What a mixed-up day. Because of last week’s postponed picnic for Madge’s class, I was set to go to the park with them this morning. Then, as I dropped off Coco, I noticed that they were set up for their end-of-the year diploma-giving and sentimentalizing. Eek.
So I zipped back to Madge’s school and got her to attend as well, after which we’d meet her class in the park. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the final goodbye with Madge ended in tears – on her part, not mine. I’ve got a day and a half of relative freedom before the summer break (although the schools obviously do their best to impinge on it), so maybe I should have been the one crying.

There was a potentially awkward moment on the way back from the park. The kids were being antsy – they had been playing ballgames in the park, after all – and Madge’s teacher wanted some sort of order. So she said, “Hold on to your balls as you walk.”
I’m pleased to report that I didn’t draw attention to it then. That’s what the blog is for.

Finally, the pseudo-graduation. It was cute. And I think I deserve a sort of diploma as well because I reached a milestone today. See, John Turturro occasionally drops off or picks up his kid who attends Madge’s school. Today was the first day I actually looked in his face and nodded. Nonchalantly, I thought. I think I deserve a cookie for that. Now I’m ready to actually try a conversation next year.
Just you wait. Before you know it, we’ll be playing chess together.

more test bashing

Markus commented on the "first-borns are smarter - yeah, right" post.

markus :-) said...
Talk about a representative population! 250,000 Norwegian men signing up for the military between '85 and '04.

I'll go one better and say that, because of the representative population, they figured that 2.3 points on an IQ test are a big deal and blew it way out of proportion. Because that's what, a 47% difference in their statistical sample?

Friday, June 22, 2007

this is your brain on exams

I was forwarded an article with this title, “First-born kid a tad brainier than siblings, study says.”
I have a feeling, if a latter-born had written the article, the title might have read, “First-born kid way more willing to impress authority figures, especially on needless exams, study confirms.”

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Response to Comments

Oooh. Comments. I love comments.
But since I fear nobody goes back to reread and see if I've commented on the comments, here is a separate entry.
The term defined by the Evanses, by the way, is "Pickwickian sense."
Now, of course, I'll have to use it in regular conversation.
As in,
Waiter: Are you still working on that?
Me: Yes, but only in a Pickwickian sense.
And then I'll laugh and Julie will roll her eyes.
This being New York, the actor-waiter will meanwhile have flashed a vacant smile and wandered off. The bus-person will have shyly refilled the water glasses and said, "Esscuse me, ees a cliche, no?"

And, hey, teacherAna, if you really want it, let me know. I still haven't worked through my Fowler (i.e., A Dictionary of Modern English Usage) for which I paid good money and to which I ought to refer first, anyway. And which, if you're nerdy like me, is a trove of good, clean fun.


Our neighborhood is pretty awesome for many reasons. One of the main ones is the quality of books that people leave on their stoops when they’re cleaning house.
Within the last month, I’ve picked up, among other things, Writing Poems, by Robert Wallace (1982) – which, at the very least, is a nice anthology of poetry – and, my favorite so far, A Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage (1957 contemporary, that is), by Bergen and Cornelia Evans (siblings, not spouses). With names like those, I don’t know what other career they might have chosen, except perhaps vaudevillian funeral eulogists.
Between those two books, I’ll be ready to write some cutting-edge ante-post-Soviet mid-post-modern symbolist advertising jingles, or heavy-metal power ballads. Or news-quiz limericks.
Anyway, nosing around in the latter book, I came across this:
The term has become a cliché of the literary and therefore should not be used in their company. It is totally meaningless to the unliterary and therefore should not be used in their hearing either.

Which, really, sums up most grad school discussions. But now I’m getting personal.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

when the cat's away, the mice miss her

Dear Readers,
In case you didn’t know, let me spell it out. When I write something to the effect of “Julie is out of town,” it means, “for God’s sake, send me an email or something because I’m tired of having my only conversational material be ‘put that down’ or ‘clean that up.’” Which is to say, when you see that Julie is out of town, go ahead an comment or send me an email.
Yours truly,

Mr. Lonely

Having sick kids in the house isn’t helping. I swear, for two nights in a row, the clock on the microwave was taunting me with “2:28” (exactly on the nose both nights) when Coco was “asking” (for lack of a better word) for something to drink.

And the straw that almost broke my camel-back yesterday was the fridge. Around five I saw that the beers were sweaty and thought “How odd.” Then, after the kids were asleep, it dawned on me. It’s not just freakin’ humid (it is), but the fridge isn’t working. The light was on, but the numbers indicating the coolness level weren’t on 4, they were on “-“ (maybe they were commenting on me, who knows).
After much frustration and some venting calls to Julie, I realized that I might as well try to move the thing, though it might fall on me and squish me. At least I would have gone out swinging.
But the fridge wouldn’t budge, so I’m still alive.
Luckily, I finally remembered that we have a fuse box.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Coco Tuesday

So now Coco is sick, too, but something is telling me it's not strep.
Maybe the "something" is called "wishful thinking," but still.
Crusty eyes, whinyness, fever, whinyness, runny nose, whinyness, fitful sleep. Have I mentioned whinyness? What am I forgetting? Oh, a shorter temper than ever.
But now he's asleep on the couch. Poor dude.
Let's hope we can go to Madge's picnic tomorrow. His school has one on the same day, but I'm not sure I can handle that, not to mention that, with him sick, I don't know how to shop for treats for said picnics.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Madge Monday

Poor Julie. The guilt.
Julie left town on Sunday, Happy Father’s Day to me – thank you, so of course Madge got strep throat. She’s doing better now and thankfully she understands why she has to take the awful-tasting penicillin.
Oh, and “we” also have our neighbor’s goldfish in the house for a few weeks while they’re out of town. Every time the cat gets close, Madge screeches.

Shield your eyes

A requested by T-Bone - the Gin-Rummy champion of the 612 area code - a pic of me with the facial hair and new haircut.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Fade to what?

I know that fiction finds its sources in life, but I’m still surprised when I see the real-life models.
The other day I was picking up some items at a corner cheapo store (Save On Fifth). As I was leaving, I heard one of the employees say, “No, we don’t [indecipherable]” I looked and saw a guy in a stained tracksuit, with gray, slicked back hair get back into his crappy red Chevy SUV (with Jersey plates) that was filled with what looked like “prime” merchandise.
Without the Hollywood magic, that behavior is incredibly cheesy.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

lookin' good

Got a haircut yesterday. And read these lines by George Peele the same day:

Let not my beauty’s fire
Inflame unstaid desire,
Nor pierce any bright eye
That wand’reth lightly.

Coincidence? I think not.

Speaking of which, Coco sure has a thing for pretty girls – pretty by his standards, which appear to be those of a New Jersey mobster. Yesterday, he literally hounded this girl, probably eleven, at the playground. A mom and three kids (Brianna, Steven, and Taylor). Big gap between the first, the “pretty” girl and the little siblings. It must have been nanny’s day off, because the mom was totally overdoing the singing and jumping and chasing and playing and … You can always tell the inexperienced ones at the playground, usually aunties, uncles, or just friends, because they have no idea of pacing. If you don’t have dinner and bedtime in view at all times you’re going to be a wreck by 5 pm. As this lady will have been. And I think she bribed the girl (tight jeans, tight white shirt, padded bra, white hoop earrings – Coco called them “moon earrings”) to help out.
The mom also got the “Head and shoulders” lyrics wrong.
C’mon, people. Things rhyme.
“Head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.” (repeat)
Then – and I know I’m a picky dork for getting irritated, but there you go – she sang/grunted:
“Eyes…ears…nose…and a mouth.”
And forgot about the rest of the song. Jeez. That song should be part of the parent application program.
The mom also thought that Coco wanted to play with her two-year-old, Steven. It was a bizarre love-play triangle.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

your plumbing is showing

(Sorry, but you're going to have to follow this link to get the visual)

Here's how I imagine the community meeting about this building.

Builders: We think a twenty-story building would be great here.
Neighbors: We think it would block our view.
Builders: Huh. How about this? Glass. You can see through glass, right?
Neighbors: Yeah.
Builders: Okay, then.

And apparently that was it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

comment on comment

Speaking of Madge's shorter hair,

xineymarie said...
i disagree -- i specifically grow my hair for summer
because i like being able to put it up, both off my neck AND out of my face
(shorter hair falls in the face more frequently, i've found).

There is a character in German lore, Till Eulenspiegel, who loves walking uphill because he knows he'll be going downhill soon after (and gets sad when going downhill).
It seems xineymarie is the kind of person who dons sweaters in the summer for the joy of taking them off when everyone else is complaining. Either that or she works in the same place as Julie where they can't seem to get the climate control working so the general population is comfortable.

it also takes less time for me to 'do', since you can just throw longer hair in
a ponytail, rather than having to make sure the short hairs are all in their
[untethered] places....then again, i'm not responsible for untangling a
seven-year-old's knots. so i can see that particular logic. a few weeks ago i
had a rather unproductive chat with my boyfriend's niece (age 4) about us
unknotting HER hair. i did not receive permission, and greg made her cry. oh

And there you go, she answered her own disagreement. Love it.

Coco Tuesday

Coco tidbits, because I'm in a rush.
He's super clingy lately. So much so, he has a fit when I say I'm going to the store without him.
On Saturday I wanted to play soccer and not take him, but because of fits and because he hadn't been out much and because I'm a sucker, I took him along. It went fine, since there were other kids, too.
After, he expressed his surprise. "You like playing 'no-hands' ball?"

Monday, June 11, 2007

Madge Monday

Last night Madge asked me to play guitar while she fell asleep.
“Awww,” you might say, being ignorant of how often I mess up, and, in response to which, cuss.

[Mental note: write “lullaby” called “Sweet $#@!%! Dreams”]

Friday, June 08, 2007

Revisionist History

Speaking of petrified historical remnants.
Madge, who has been reading Asterix (she’s got good taste, after all), asked me yesterday if the Gauls and Romans were the “second people alive.”
“What do you mean?” didn’t get me very far, so I asked her who the “first people alive” might have been.
She said, “You know. The Flintstones.”
I guess the answer to her question is, “Yes.”

Museum items

We went to the Transit Museum yesterday. Fun.
The old subway cars had chewing gum ads from the forties, and gum under the seats from the twenties.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

words, words, words

After a chaotic pot luck at Madge's school, Coco fell asleep early. (So did I, but Madge was kind enough to wake me up and remind me that I had limericks to write.)
While I was "working on the limericks," which involves a lot of random procrastinary web-surfing, Madge was looking up a word in her Children's Dictionary, a word that had no chance of being there.
"R-E, R-E..."
"What are you looking for?"
"Uh-huh. What does it mean?"
Now, I happen to know the Thelonious Monk song, "Crepuscule With Nellie," so I said, "It means 'of the evening.'" Where does she get words like this?
"'Of the evening'?"
"Yes, 'crepuscule' means 'evening-time' or 'dusk' or something like that, so 'crepuscular' means 'happening at that time.'"
"Oh. 'cause it says here that the rabbit is crepuscular."
"Yeah, I guess it means that they like evening-time rather than..."
and at that time she blanked out.
But still.

Then, later, as I was actually thinking of rhymes, she sat at the table, copying out definitions from her dictionary, each entry in a new color. She's up to "abolition the act of getting rid of."

Today, she's being a "regular" kid again, watching a Disney cartoon and arguing with her brother.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Asking for trouble

Madge's school is pairing up with Barnes and Noble for a mutually beneficial bookfair. You buy books, present a voucher, and the profits get split somehow between the two institutions.
But the flyer we got in the folder included this:
PS321 Students, Parents and Teachers:
Come read your Pandamonium poem, or any poem you
like, at our first 321 OPEN MIC NIGHT

Barnes & Noble

I can just see some dad, dressed in requisite black, smelling of frankincense and myrrh - or maybe just cigarettes and gin - going up to the mic and saying:
Here's a little something I wrote, called "Full Custody, My Ass."

The kids will love it.

One more

Coco was coloring Spiderman yesterday. He's finally gotten over breaking down in agony when he accidentally colors Spidey's eyes, which must stay white at all times.
Then he seamlessly went from "accidentally" getting some red on his arm to taking off his shirt and coloring a complete costume on his chest.
But he didn't finish. Not because I intervened, but because he was using the scented markers and I think the faux cerises were getting to be too much for him.
Of course he was duly complimented by his friends at school today.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Madge and Coco, Mommy's away remix

Julie's out of town, so here are some more updates for her benefit.
Good timing on her part, too, because she hates it when people spit.
And Coco's logic has led him to believe that he won't have to go potty if he just spits enough.
At least I got him to spit in the sink or potty. If he keeps this up, he'll be the first 4-yr-old Brooklynite (of the twenty-first century - oh, how I'd hate to be wrong about the factual aspects of this awkward joke) with his own spittoon. ptoink.

Madge, our lighthearted one, has taken to writing in her diary which choices she has already made in the choose-your-own-adventure book she's reading now. Saves time, I guess.

Coco Tuesday

Coco keeps wanting me to have a playdate with his teacher. His selling point: she’s beautiful.
What impression does he have of me? (I know, I know, it’s harmless, but, still, taken out of context… “Really, Julie, it was Coco’s idea. A playdate with a beautiful woman. Please, get your mind out of the gutter.”)
So today I had my playdate with his teacher. I called it that to get him off my back. (Writing those words, I see the irony, since his preferred mode of transportation is still my shoulders.) It was really an end-of-the-year parent-teacher conference. No surprises. He’s got a temper. He’s sweet. He doesn’t like being bossed around or rushed. He’s active and charming and caring. He’s better at using his words rather than scratching or hitting. In all, rather similar to my last performance review.
But back to the playdate aspect. Who wouldn’t want a playdate with his teacher? Honestly, sometimes it feels like have a caretaker for your child is cruel and unusual punishment. As an only moderately attractive male (three beers or two glasses of white wine and I’m kind of cute, I hear) it is rare that I get to see females be as openly cheerful and warm as around my kids. Now add the fact that I’m essentially gay to them – i.e., unavailable, therefore appealing – and you end up with a potentially frustrating situation.
Luckily I never think about these matters.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Madge Monday

The unimaginable has happened. Madge agreed to get her hair cut short. She volunteered it, even. New York humidity has its benefits, I guess. See, what happened was this. We’ve been telling her and telling her that shorter hair is cooler (as in less hot) because it exposes your neck and in general doesn’t trap as much heat. Of course she didn’t buy it. But, luckily, she actually heard it and remembered it. (Which she does with many, many other things that I don’t always realize at the time.) The other day it was, to her, unbearable, and we used a clip to put her hair up. She was amazed at the difference and, after about half an hour, said that she wants a haircut. Short. Like mommy’s.
I’m just relieved that we don’t have to fight about brushing the hair anymore.

Lighter mood

It’s weird how much a diet affects my mood. Eating less turns me into a grumpy prick.
Now I’m eating more regularly and have become my old self, a happy prick.
For example, I saw someone wearing a hoodie this morning which read, “Authentic American.” Last week I would have gone into a hateful spiral of how, judging by the people who “represent” Americans, it means ignorant, rude, greedy, insensitive, selfish, etc. But today I just thought that it would be funny to have a hoodie that read, “Fake American: don’t ask for my papers,” or, better yet, “Superficial American: more authentic than the Authentic kind.”
Similarly, a birthday party I attended yesterday, for a friend of Coco’s would have upset me, because the parents are affluent enough to get a mini soccer camp organized, headed by four coaches, well-equipped.
But, as it was, I enjoyed it. They were good and had great coaching techniques for the little ones. Miyagi-like, but with fun activities rather than housework.

The best part was this, though. The coaches were Italian. Coco goes to an international school and some of the parents are French. One of the French dads started playing with the coaches. Of course I joined in after a while even though I had been restraining myself because it wasn’t a party for me – but, hey, I didn’t start it. And that’s sort of my point. As much as we pretend to be older, we always fall into irritating childish habits (“I didn’t start it, so it’s okay for me to join later”). And so it was with the other dad. Not only did he start playing, but, after the kids were done, he wanted to play a game and said that the teams were Italy against France, a rematch from the World Cup.
I was on the Italian team, so I called him a son of a terrorist whore and he headbutted me, but still got to keep his Adidas endorsement contract.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Madge zinger

I'm still giggling about it.

Madge is going to a friend's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's this weekend. Of course Coco wants to go, but can only go separated from the party itself.
He said, "When I get big like Madgie I go to birthday party, too."
To which she replied, "The party will be over by then."

Mistah, c'n I ax you somethin'?

I subbed yesterday and got a little fed up about, well, a lot, really. Seventh graders. Man.
As usual, I’m not sure school is what they need, and I’m not just being facetious. From the teacher’s end, I want them to sit, quietly. But, c’mon. They’re 12-14 – or 25, depending – and sitting quietly from nine to three makes no biological sense whatsoever.

Anyway, at one point I interrupted all the shrieking – “shrieking” to me, “regular conversation” to them – to pick up the trusty dry-erase marker and say, “Okay, we’re gonna play a game of charades now. [“Oh, I love charades. I wanna go first”] Sorry, not charades, pictionary. And you don't get a turn.”

Then I drew what I hoped was a picture of a hatchet.

“Ax.” “Or ‘axe.’” [No, of course nobody said that, but wouldn’t that have been amusing?]
“That’s right.”

Then I drew a picture of a head with a speech bubble that had a question mark in it.

“Talking.” “A cartoon.” “A question.”
“Okay, what do you say when you’re ‘talking’ a ‘question’?”
“NO! That’s my point. Ask. A-S-K. Ask.”
“Good grief!”

Then I drew a picture of a butt. I wrote “ass+k.”
Finally, after a lot of "hey, he drew a ass," I heard, “Oh, I get it.”
“Okay. Try it. Asss-k.”
“Good enough.”

I may have put them on the managerial track at McDonald’s now.