Friday, August 31, 2007

Refried Mr. Bean

Of course I had marvellous observations today, but because I had two teeny-tiny beers I can't remember any of them. So maybe I should just speak unintelligibly and laugh too loudly at my own jokes - wait a second, that's what I do anyway.
Don't tell anyone, but we saw the Mr. Bean movie again, this time with Julie and her sister, who's in town. Hee, hee. We know art when we see it.
It's enjoyable the second time around, too.
And this time I don't need to keep watching Rowan Atkinsons as he tries to distract me from his co-star.

It's also funny to see the neighborhood now as it's exploding with people who are returning from vacations and camps and whatnot to resume regular life. Not as bad as a college town, but still a surprising change of demographic makeup. Pretty soon the sidewalks will be congested with strollers, scooters, like-a-bikes, and protruding bellies (female and male).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gracias (Bean in France)

Ah, the simple joys. If you get a chance to see "Mr. Bean's Holiday," go. Hurharhurharhurhur.

We were actually shushed quite a bit during the movie, because the Other Kid had already seen it and occassionally explained what was coming up, Coco kept asking to make sure he was caught up with all the plot points - and later to ask if Willem Defoe is going to turn into Green Goblin any time soon -, and Madge kept saying things like "Oh, no," "stop it," "don't." Mr. Bean kills her.

I may have to see it again because of the potty breaks I had to take. But I don't mind. Some of the bits are worth seeing again.

And, thinking about it, the fact that the kids had an urge to speak up just proves how good Atkinson's timing is.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hands out for hand outs

At the bank of ATMs at my bank, there is occasionally a person who holds the door open, saving after-hours visitors the agony of inserting the card they will use later anyway in a slot near the door in order to unlock it. In exchange this person is hoping for a little something on the way out.
On my way in I tend to have nothing, and on my way out I have nothing but twenties. I assume others are in a similar situation. If I were an honest and consistent person I guess I'd have to decline the open door and insist on opening it myself because I know I'm not going to trade a twenty for the service.
As it is I give the usual noncommittal hypocritical nod/headshake/mumble and go on my way.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Coco Tuesday

The kid who's been with us the past two days is fun and good-natured, as I've said.
And he likes playing with Coco, especially when Coco is being fun and not shouting or whiny.
But Coco's verbal inexactitudes drive him nuts. He's gotten used to having his favorite game referred to as "thwacker ball" but having his favorite show not called by its proper name is too much.
I, on the other hand, love it, because Coco is tuning in to something most people with reasonable ears and a modicum of experience know anyway. All Disney teeny-singers sound similar. Part perky, part constipated.
And therefore Coco calls everything High School Musical 2 (this number part in particular drives the other kids nuts) that has some teenager singing about something unfamiliar in an overproduced fashion.
Today, for example, he proudly remembered that we had a Hilary Duff CD and kept telling the other kid that it's High School Musical 2.
"No it's not."
"Yes it is."
"No it's not."

On the other hand, I recently downloaded the Go-Go's doing the original "Our Lips Are Sealed" and Coco preferred Hilary Duff's version.
What is the world coming to?

Madge Monday

Little behind, but here we go.
Had another kid with us all day, a former classmate of hers. And one of his coping mechanisms, I think - what do I know, I don't have a degree in child psychology; but then again, what to child psychologists know, they only have a degree in child psychology - is to ask endless meaningless questions. For example, on the way home from the library:
He: Can we go down this street?
I: Sure.
He: Why?
Madge was extremely (that adverb is an understatement) frustrated with him. At one point she said, "I know I can't call him dummy, but I wish I could."
He is pretty good-natured (and had been bugging me, too), so I said, "You know what? Go ahead."
So she said, "Dummy!" and we all laughed and she felt better.
Then, of course, I had to make her stop.

(And, for some reason, Coco didn't pick up on the name-calling. Lucky all around.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Monkee Doo

Coco events are always convoluted. Yesterday he threw up after being on the swings too long.

Why was he on the swings too long?

Because we rented some Monkees episodes and their music videos feature them frolicking and swinging and hanging upside down and doing a flip dismount.

On sand.

Coco's version looked a bit different. I should considere myself lucky that it only ended with vomit.

For the interested parties: the main note was red Kool Aid.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Weird how time flies. I was so busy with limericks last night that I forgot to post.

Lucky for you, though, I got to read another poem at the playground.

IT is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sear:
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night,--
It was the plant and flower of Light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.

Cute, at first sight, because of the little "day - May" thingie in the middle. But it doesn't hold up to much rereading because of the cheap rhymes (i.e., I'm no theorist, it's just what I call it when none of the rhyming words carry much meaning).
And, as a result, he may have ironically counteracted his premise.
("He" being Ben Jonson.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Coco Tuesday

Tonight we went to get a birthday card for GrandJohn. (Happy Birthday, GrandJohn!)
As so often happens, merely going on such a shopping trip means that bribery must take place. Therefore Madge and Coco each got a mood ring.
While Madge's stayed somewhere around purple, I think Coco's ran through the whole rainbow and then stuck out a white flag in resignation.
Those things really work.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Madge Monday

We saw Harry Potter again today. Good thing, too, because the kids asked to leave during different parts, which means that Julie and I got to fill in the gaps on what we missed the first time.
Madge actually talked back at the screen today. Hee, hee.
At her age it's excusable, I think. The first time there were grownups doing it. Less amusing.
But I'm not sure what the cut-off age is.

Staten Island

I'm always impressed with minor league baseball. Not the games themselves, what with the sloppy pitching and all, but with the experience as a whole. And yesterday was a good one. We went to see the Staten Island Yankees play the Brooklyn Cyclones in Staten Island. So the trip itself was fun, obviously. Taking the ferry is always a pleasure, and actually having something to do in Staten Island is a plus. The stadium also has a view of downtown Manhattan, so if the game it too boring, there's always that to distract you as well.
The best part was getting the tickets. As we got to the ticket booth, the lady told us it was sold out. "Awww." But right next to the booth was a lady who couldn't believe her luck to find a party wanting six tickets together. She was so happy to get rid of them all at once that she sold them to us below cost. Not much of a capitalist, obviously. More hotdogs for us.
Speaking of scalping tickets.
This was the second group of guest we've taken on the ferry and they were the second to express their suprise at the fact that the ferry is free of charge. Which got me to thinking that you could make a pretty penny without actually lying directly by standing in the waiting area with a roll of tickets, shouting, "Tickets! Who needs tickets?"
Can they arrest me if I don't say that they are tickets for anything in particular?
And the price? "Five dollars. Wait. Do you have a Metro Card? Yes? Then only three."
I think it could be lucrative.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Not-so-random Aphorism

It's not easy to find one about money that's not over the top.
Here's one by one of the best aphorists ever.

Plenty of people despise money, but few know how to give it away.
-- La Rochefoucauld

money money money

We went to the Federal Reserve today. Going to Manhattan is always an adventure, but that part of town is especially tough for certain people who don't like crowds. The Federal Reserve was quite a respite from all that because it is the Holy Shrine of Gold, complete with sharpshooting monks who enforce silence and humility.
Before you get to go into the vault and see a cage filled with gold bars, you get to watch a video of them handling the stuff. By the wheelbarrow. Literally. And this stuff is 99% pure, not 60%, like the stuff around people's fingers and in their ears.
Anyway, it was quite a mind trip. Especially when the guide asked if anyone was claustrophobic. Because, once your mind is thinking about being trapped, all the information afterward gets filtered through the Escape and Freedom Lobe. Information about being five stories underground in so and so much reinforced steel. And then they start shutting the vault door and talking about how it's air- and water-tight and anyone locked in would stay for 24 hours because the door mechanism is linked to a timer and that there's enough air there for one person for 72 hours. The group had about ten people.
Needless to say, I didn't explain any of this to Coco, who gets a little antsy in the subway.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Guests in town

A good thing, because we now have a change of pace. We'll see how much tourist action the kids can take, but it could be fun.
But first. Sticky day. Pool. Picnic in park.
Here's something, though.
Julie asked if Coco had any tantrums today and our guest said yes. I clarified that he just pouted a little. I guess our guest is in for quite a surprise.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

word thoughts

It appears the English language doesn't have too high an opinion of offspring since the only rhymes for "babies" that spring to mind are:
maybes, scabies, and rabies.
What is our linguistic heritage trying to tell us?
I should stick to the legal word: issue.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Coco Tuesday

Temperatures in the eighties and Coco is wearing a long-sleeved fleece sweater.
Here's why.
Today's my birthday (thank you, thank you).* Madge was in charge of opening a package from Lands' (they never corrected their inaugural apostrophic typo - shows you what kind of conservatism they practice) End from Granny. The instructions were to hide the thing for me and wrap it and keep and enjoy the things for them. They loved their lunchboxes and her new skirt. This morning I unwrap two things. A nice short-sleeved shirt (thanks, Mom) and a fleece sweater, size M. Turns out the fleece is a kid's M. First I thought Granny made a little online ordering mistake, but then I realized it was supposed to be for Coco. And he was so excited he wore it throughout the day.
He loves it.
And ya gotta love giving little ones gifts. Though that kids of enthusiams stops around age seven, when you start getting, "Is that all?"
I, by now, have learned that actually saying "Is that all?" out loud is considered rude.

* Happy Birthday to Gary Larson, Steve Martin, and Russell Baker as well.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Madge Monday

I always thought it was understood, but I should add here beforehand that facts on this blog (especially conversations) get altered for comic impact. But the gist...

Sunday morning. Yesterday's leftover bagel and cream cheese has just been consumed.

Madge: Do we have more cream cheese?
Julie: No, I had the last. Do you want me to get you more?
Madge: Yes.
Moi: Don't worry. I'll go.
Madge: Thank you, Mommy.
Moi: ?!?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Another Aphorism

And why not? Picked from my book at random again, I swear.

Praises of the unworthy are felt by ardent minds as robberies of the deserving.
-- Coleridge

Thing is, though, that the lack of context here doesn't make clear whether Coleridge thinks it a good or bad thing to have (or be) an ardent mind.

That said, how about that Barry Bonds, hunh?

Friday, August 10, 2007

kid-heavy posting

I've realized why I've been posting mostly about kid activities. It's because we're on vacation and I don't really have contact with anyone else. These last two days we've just stayed at home. The first day because Madge seemed worn out, and today because the weather was too cool for our regular pool routine. So we lounged around in the morning and then bickered and fought later in the afternoon.
But we're good now. All it takes is looking at them when they sleep and things get better.

Read a poem the other day - whoa, alert the media. No, not a big deal, but it was one of Shakespeare's and it was called "The Phoenix and the Turtle" and I (like many other modern readers, I assume) thought it was some sort of Edward Lear thing until I realized in the last line that the titular turtle was a dove. So I had to reread it.
I still didn't make any sense to me.

Give it a go if you want.

For those with short attention spans, here are my favorite lines:

So they loved, as love in twain
Had the essence but in one;
Two distincts, division none:
Number there in love was slain.

...Either was the other's mine.

Property was thus appalled,
That the self was not the same;
Single nature's double name
Neither two nor one was called.

Reason, in itself confounded,
Saw division grow together,
To themselves yet either neither,
Simple were so well compounded,


Truth may seem, but cannot be:
Beauty brag, but 'tis not she;
Truth and beauty buried be.

mnemonic hint

Count the letters.
If you need even more, check the comments to this post. I'm leaving the answer there.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


My SAT prep gig just showed up again in my inbox and I'll be signing on soon.
It reminded me of stumbling upon an entry on mnemonics. I'm not a big fan of them, because they are usually more difficult to remember than the thing itself. Though, for some people, it really works. Case in point, my mom tends to remember combinations and phone numbers by people's birthdays she knows, which is fine, but she often has to add a number here and there. "It's your great-aunt's birthday plus sixteen, the age you were when she finished that 5,ooo piece puzzle." Or some such.

Here's an example from the entry on mnemonics. I'll give it as a quiz (and don't just type it into Google - that's cheating).

"How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics."

What is this sentence supposed to remind you of?
Leave your best guesses in the comments and check in later for a hint and then, maybe, the answer.

I'm a goober

I can't help myself. Sometimes goofy things make me laugh or snicker aloud even when I'm alone.
For example, I occasionally put crappy songs on Julie's iPod just to remind her of me when she's shuffling through the on the subway. This time I picked a real stinker, The Carpenters' "Superstar." I just listened to it. Creepily terrible, but I might have to listen again because there's also something catchy about it. I may have it wrong, but there is a line in it that goes something like, "Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh, baby."
And the orchestration, aside from the dull drumming and annoying bass, includes the inevitable english horn plaintive line and harp glissando.
I can't wait for Julie to call me to complain.
And I'm giggling again right now.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Coco Tuesday

A couple of choice father-and-son moments.

At the pool, he's started bobbing up and down and flailing his arms. I think he's touching the bottom with his feet when he's submerged. The whole thing looks like he's drowning and struggling to stay alive.
Needless to say I get many concerned looks from other parents.
Here's our conversation about it:
"Coco, are you okay?"
"What are you doing?"
"It tickles my penis."
"Oh." ["Carry on."]

A woman who was too big for her clothing - but not by much - was crossing the street ahead of us. I was in the process of determining whether the entire effect was pleasant or not (a difficult task with only a distant view from behind), when we had this conversation about it:
"Daddy. Look at her butt."
"Coco! Shhh. You shouldn't say stuff about people's looks in general and bodies in particular." ["Way ahead of you."]

Monday, August 06, 2007

Madge Monday

Highlights of today's playdate (that is, Madge had a playdate, which then migrated to our house):
When we got there, Madge - who wanted a playdate so she could get away from Coco for a while and play with kids her own age - said, "Can Coco stay?" (I've got a little bald patch from yanking out a chunk of my hair.)
The playdate was brave and tried to eat the bread Coco had chosen at the store even though none of the kids could manage to chew it. I finally made her a peanut butter sandwich.
They played shoe store. Not my shoes, obviously. But those of the person in the house who has more shoes than feet (and fingers and toes and ...) [Oh, have I mentioned that Julie's work has been blocking the blog?]
Finally, I was called in to adjudicate a dispute as to whether the "sugar packets" in the shoe boxes are edible or not. One had already been opened, but none eaten. Or so I must trust.
Meanwhile, I've pressed 9 and 1 and am holding my phone ready just in case.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

my likeness

See, this is the fun kind of thing you can make at the Simpsons site. They call it making an Avatar.

(It's late, so I'm wearing my glasses.)

Finished Faulkner

I'm not sure I should have been laughing as much as I was. The beer probably helped.
As did the suddenness and bizarreness of some of the events. Still, not much of a plot.
But, hey, there's other ways to get plot. Like the Three Musketeers, which I'm reading to Madge at bedtime. Now I have two reasons to look forward to the kids' bedtime(s).

Also, if you're looking to use your work time creatively and meaningfully, mosey over to and make characters that look like you, your friends, your colleagues, etc.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday slowdown

I can't think of anything witty myself - at this moment - so I'll dip into my handy book of Aphorisms.

How's this? It's the first one I landed on, really.

Regarded as a means, the businessman is tolerable; regarded as an end he is not so satisfactory.
--John Maynard Keynes.

I'd say, if Keynes knew some of our neighbors, he'd realize that it is too weakly worded.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

elevator troubles

Our summer schedule has been shifted a bit this week, mostly because the elevator has been out two mornings in a row.
We get to the pool the Flintstones way – through the courtesy of my two feet while the kids recline in the stroller. The stroller is too wide for the regular door and stairway, but it’s just fine in the elevator. And the elevator is one of those fancy contraptions that opens right into our apartment. Which makes it such a crushing blow to discover that it isn’t working.
Now. I happen to be on the email list for the people who own the condos in this building and there’s been quite a bit of yapping about the elevators in the other buildings with the same management company, built by the same developer. Not happy. One of the members suggested going to the NYTimes. I suggested storming the Bastille, but then decided against actually sending that email.
But I think they may have a point with the company that maintains the elevators – called Rotavele (tricky, no? and also ironic since they tend to get things backwards). See, on the days they fixed the elevators they left a scrawled note on the ground floor door saying that they needed to get parts and it would be another day.
Too bad I didn’t take a picture for evidence, because the best part followed. Carelessly scratched out were the words “Sorry for.”
Obviously they thought better of having any compassion for the tenants. Heavens forefend there might be a wheelchair-bound person on an upper floor. (There’s not, but a family with twinfants on the fifth floor who were quite inconvenienced, I’m sure.)


I’m no bleeping prude, but…

On the recommendation of some friends, I rented the first disc of the HBO series “Deadwood.” And within the first few minutes of a show set in the Dakotas in 1876, there were some f—ks, some c—ksuckers, even a c—t. And they made me cringe. Not because I don’t appreciate the use of these words, but because they seem out of place, or out of time, rather.
I’m still trying to decide whether it’s as if the characters were wearing sneakers or merely boots with a Harley-Davidson logo on them.
Typing a few choice words into Google I found this:
of which my favorite quote is,
[Creator David Milch] cites a bibliography he put together in his research. “It’s called ‘Profanity in Deadwood,’ and it has like 50 sources.”

That’s like so cool.
I couldn’t finish the first episode the first time around.But then I figured, hell, I rented it, why not watch it. And there’s good stuff, though it seems like a prolonged “It’s a Wonderful Life” set in a Wild West Pottersville. Still, the bad guy is really bad. Who knows, maybe I’ll rent another disc. And pretty soon I won’t care if they’re wearing espadrilles.