Sunday, December 27, 2009

detective story, maybe

The facts:
At 00:30 on Dec. 26th, a crash awakened Julie (and me, eventually).
Inspection revealed the Christmas Tree had fallen.
We have an annoying cat who doesn't stay away from things and has been batting ornaments ever since we got the tree.
The tree was taller than last year's tree.
It was cheaper than last year's tree, perhaps indicating that it's wood was softer.
The tree stand is (now: was) one year older than it was last year and less maneuverable and still as small.
The tree has been leaning a little more every day.
It fell in the most convenient direction for cleanup, meaning the most accessible direction. This was also the direction where most ornaments were hung, probably because it was the most accessible direction.

Other facts, less relevant to figuring out who did it:
The cleanup took about 45 minutes.
The carpet is finally dry, but still a little warped.
The needles are still everywhere.
We think we got all the ornament shards.
We appreciate that it didn't happen during the previous night.
The tree now resides in the street in front of the building.
The tree stand now resides in the garbage.
The cat still resides with us.

Conclusion:
The cat probably did it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

the gym

I went to the gym today. Yay, me. Had a brief celebrity sighting, but that's neither here nor there.
There was a guy shaving his entire head when I went to take a shower. When I was done and shaved, too, he put cream all over his head. And he sang Christmas songs in a never ending medley. Well, never ending is exaggerated, since he paused to interject with advice and commentary on life in general. During this I learned that he made $70 singing carols the other day. But he wouldn't divulge where when I asked if I might sing there, too. Also, he implied I didn't have the voice for it. (For what it's worth, he had the showmanship, obviously, but his pitch didn't stay true throughout. Just saying.) Then he pointed out he'd probably make $200 on Christmas.
This was around 1pm. At 5:15pm, when we were there for Madgie's swim class, he was still at the gym.
So, if you're looking for a career choice, you might want to follow this guy around and learn. Among his many gems of wisdom was the observation that singing for money is better than going to jail. Then he said he didn't have the body for jail. Internally, I differed (otherwise how could he be working out for 4 hours), but I didn't think I had the time to actually engage him in a debate on this matter.
Plus, I had to make sure the celebrity was who I think it was.

Monday, December 21, 2009

more snowballs

My back and legs are sore from bending and scooping, but somehow my arms are fine.

This popped into my mind after writing about the snowball fight. Not fully formed, of course. Just the first line, really. But then it wouldn't go away, so I tried to finish it. It helps if you know Goethe's "Wer nie sein Brot mit Traenen ass" from Wilhelm Meister, but you don't need to.

Wer niemals Schnee mit Traenen ass,
Wer nie nach eisigem Gefechte
Auf seinem Schlitten weinend sass,
Der kennt nicht meine vaeterlichen Maechte.

Ich fuehrt' euch in den Schnee hinein,
Ich liess euch kalt und hungrig werden,
Dann schmiss ich Schneebaelle: gemein.
(Denn Papa schaemt sich nicht auf Erden.)

Well, the last verse was a little forced. Oh, well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

snowsnowsnow

We were outside three or four times today, but never on any errands (except for me - and work for Julie). I mean the kids and I were out. So now there's extra laundry because of the snow soaked pants and gloves. They've gotten progressively better about dealing with frozen faces and fingers - and my aim has gotten better in the sense that I haven't beaned them in the schnozzle for a while. But now I'm exhausted from making snowballs for everyone and then making hot cocoa - and because I hadn't been able to go to the grocery store I didn't have Swiss Miss and had to use the good Dutch Cocoa powder and sugar and milk - Daddy's stash thrown before the masses.

the boys

Here's a conversation Coco and I had at bedtime.
Coco: What did Mommy say?
Me: She said I should knock before I come in the bedroom.
C: Why?
M: I think she's wrapping a present she doesn't want me to see.
C: I think you're probably in trouble.
M: What, you think I'm going to have spend a long time talking tonight?
C: Yeah.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

snowballs

Some parenting difficulties are almost too weird to explain.
It snowed today, yippee! I love snow. Always have, especially because I've always had a warm-ish place to come home to. We're a little stingy in the heating department, but the near frostbite of being outside too long makes you appreciate a lukewarm apartment.
My problem is this. The kids want to have snowball fights, but, understandably, they don't want to get hit in the face. Not really a problem; I aim at their bellies and below.
But kids are short. And though they've been informed that I'm not aiming at their heads, they duck. And ducking is, by definition, a downward movement.
Not only that, out of twenty snowballs thrown, a few go off target; and when I miss, I tend to land a bullseye - or kidseye, as it were.
So tonight I made both kids cry in the snow. Pitiful, sobby, spittle-ridden, drooly WAAAAHs.
Because I whopped them both in the face with a ball that was packed harder than they can pack so I can aim better to miss them in the first place.
Sheesh.

full picture

This morning we had the Mahalia Jackson Christmas Album playing, and in the middle of "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" I heard, "awooawla-awooawla-awawawaaawla" and thought, "why are the kids making fun of Mahalia Jackson?" But then the "pth-pkpth-pkk-pkpthlawworp" told me the rest of the story and it turned out the cat had been nibbling too many pine needles off the tree and left me a trail throughout the apartment to clean up.
Here's the song. Hope it's not ruined for you. I still like it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

gym

This week, the gym and I didn't have too great a relationship. Either I've been too busy running errands or I've forgotten my lock or my goggles. Not for my welding class, but for swimming.
And now that gifting season is among us, my phone kept singing at me from the locker as I as shaving or dressing or undressing or whatever happened in-between. The downside of having a ringtone song you like is letting the phone ring a trifle too long because you want to hear it all.
The other downside is that the mood of the song affects how I answer the phone.
So, ironically, when Julie calls I always answer in a goofy, giggly way because the Eroica symphony's funeral march is such a gas. No it's Spongebob singing "Best Day Ever."
I think it's backfiring, though. Tonight she called to say her flight's delayed and I may have sounded a bit too happy.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

fell asleep too soon

Sorry I didn't update last night, but for some reason I fell asleep with the kids.
The kids had swim class which drags on through the whole afternoon because the only scheduling I could get was both kids on the same day but 45 minutes apart.
And Coco has two kids in his group who are pains in the rear. So much so, he doesn't want to do the class anymore because of them - and because they make the teacher shout. I've told the teacher and she's sweet about it and said he could join the neighboring class - but it's a lower level, so he doesn't want to. Yesterday seems to have gone better. I did talk to the two troublemakers before class.
I'm conflicted about it. On the one hand, I just want Coco to deal with it, but on the other hand I'm not willing to accept his way of dealing with it - namely, not going to class anymore. So who knows, it may have helped. They MIGHT not have known that they're ruining it for everyone rather than just "having fun" by riling up the teacher. ("I didn't do it." "Oops, I fell in the water." "Oops, I splashed the others." ...)

Last night we wrote letters to Santa. Madge isn't done yet. This year, though, we have the advantage that they wanted to write them on the computer and print them out, so there's a saved version and I don't need to be as attentive as to what goes into the rapidly sealed envelope.

And now it's raining rather than snowing, because New York just doesn't seem to like to mix freezing temperatures with precipitation.

Monday, December 07, 2009

colder here

Sheesh, and I neglected to turn on the heat while the kids were at school because I kept thinking I'd leave the apartment. I finally did, once I found out when a certain store opened, but it opened later than I expected.
At this special kind of year, with the kids as internet-savvy as they are, all I can say is that I went to a place to do something - nudge, nudge - and now I still need to do something else somehow but I'm not sure what. And the something is somewhere now.
But I think I've already given away too much. I'll change topics.
Coco is missing Julie a lot this time around. It's manifesting itself by him missing me while he's at school, but when I asked him about missing mommy it all came out. This is meant to make you feel missed and loved, not guilty, Julie. Fine line, I know. Psych majors, have at it.
There were play dates this afternoon, but they weren't long. No TV, but mostly because they're both obsessed with a friend's DS cartridge.
It belongs to Coco's friend, but Madge just asked him today if she could borrow it and he said yes.
Maybe related: we watched "Yes Man" with Jim Carrey last night. He's in the movie; he didn't come over. Sundays are bad for him; he's coming for lunch tomorrow. (Bwah-BWAAH)
I think Madge may be taking some of the message of the movie to heart. Who knows? I am, but now - just in order to make the checkout person laugh - I'm stuck with a red pepper that was left behind and not reshelved by the previous shopper. How this piece of life-affirmation with play out, I'm not sure. Probably in a salad. But I might have to say "Yes" to some lunch specials first.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

more updates

Yep, Julie's out of town, which means there will be more kid news here.
She flew out early this morning.
Usually, I'm a big fan of pacing myself, having learned some sort of lesson about planning for bedtime while making breakfast. (Pancake sugar high must be balanced by exercise to be brought down by screen time which can buy some grocery shopping ennui to be traded for another sugar high and activity followed by an explosive fight and more food and a bath - you get the drift.)
But today I was going at it like a divorced man with monthly weekend privileges.
We started out the day with pancakes, grabbed the DS games and headed on the subway for Macy's where we stood in line - or on line, since we're becoming more NooYoawkified - for the length of a Lord of the Rings movie and saw Santa. Coco wants a skateboard - no news - and Madge wants a computer - not really news though the Christmas focus of said desire is hair-raising. Then lunch at the Macy's buffet in the basement, followed by new shoes for Coco at the Skechers store (he tried on three pair, what a big boy) and a failed attempt to get him a new winter coat to match Madge's new one and, finally, on the way home, I figured why not and we stopped at Union Square to see whatever played first, Mr. Fox or Planet 51. Mr. Fox was sold out so went all out and splurged for tub -yes, a TUB - of popcorn and had a fairly pleasant nap until Madge woke me and told me I can't sleep during a movie. hmph.
Then home and noodles and some TV and flossandbrushandbed. Boom.
And tomorrow they get their regular dad back. I won't shave so I'll seem extra mean.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

our modern age

I'm not sure how to write this up, but Julie and I had an insight the other night. I would have marked the date because of its momentousness, but we were too exhausted from all the thinking and mental assembling we did.
Coco saw his music teacher and told in an odd tone - a tone of marvel and mystery - that his music teacher's name is Mr. McG- and that he is married and that his wife's name is - at this point he looked around furtively - Mrs. McG-.
Julie and I were wondering why he thought this was important and secretive to point out when we realized-
-He thinks there's something incestuous about a husband and wife having the same last name.
Of course, in today's time, when his own parents and most of his friends' parents have different last names, the only way a married couple would share a name after saying "I do" was if they already had the same name beforehand.
Blows your mind, doesn't it?
I wonder what he's been thinking about all his grandparents all this time. But he probably doesn't know that they even have last names.

Friday, December 04, 2009

one step forward, two back

Or the other way around? I don't know.
At the beginning of the week Coco was gung-ho about wanting a sleep-over. This meant that he was willing to try and fall asleep on his own. And he did so, even though it prolonged his bedtime substantially.
As a result, though, he's been having major separation issues the following days and said, among other things,
"Daddy, I missed you so much, before the door opened at school, I cried off my a**."
Yes, he inverts the position of the preposition to the derriere, and no, he does not speak in asterisks.

He also said, "Guess how much I missed you? So much. No. More. More than the biggest building."
No guilt, though.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I'm biased, but I think it's amazing

This needs a little explanation, but not much. Madge and Julie were shopping for new clothes. Madge was in the dressing room, trying on the new items while Julie was out looking for more. Julie left her private cell phone with Madge and kept her work phone so they could get in touch if they needed.
So Madge sent this picture and this message: Nothing wrong.What do u think?

Amazing, is what I think (but you knew that). How does a girl do this? Not only is she rationally trying on clothes before buying them (and trust me, she routinely discards them - Thank you, Clinton and Stacey from What Not To Wear), but she was sensitive enough to alert Julie that there's no emergency.
What a kid.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cold Turkey

I'm having turkey again. Who knew?
See, what happened was that I ordered turkey breast but it didn't have the bone in, so I got a turkey at the store. And, as you know, the later you get a bird, the bigger it is, so we got one that was around 16 pounds. It was great. Still is, that's the point.
And thanks to enlisting the friend who was over (and brought awesome pecan pie), we now call gravy "Yummy Steve Sauce." Email me and I can give you the recipe for "Yummy Steve Sauce." Heh, heh.
Anyway, it seems odd that "going cold turkey" means abstaining entirely from the addictive substance, when in real life cold turkey seems to last forever and translates to a kind of overdose.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

stars, I tell you, stars

Go to (or wait for) the 50 second mark (and, briefly, 1:31).

Monday, November 23, 2009

basketball

The oddest thing. When we go to baseball games, Madge tunes out.
But the basketball we saw this weekend was right up her alley. The noise, the excitement, and the Newcastle on tap.
Wait. The last one was me.
Conrad was not as sold on the event, but I think that's because we timed the cotton candy intake badly. He had his face sticky by the end of the first quarter and the game went into overtime. Or, in sugar-high terms: 23 minutes into The Crash.
Still fun, though. Now if only the local team were any good...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

oboyoboy

By now I think you know I fall behind on posting when we have guests or we are on vacation or the kids are sick - basically when I don't have a prolonged period of alone time.
Today was one of the first days in a while that I've been able to sit here and type and now, of course, I'm not sure what to write about.
We had swimming again today and it was the first time of the new session that both kids were fit to swim. Jeez, what a day. While I was able to schedule both on the same day, there's a 45-minute gap between the classes, so we don't get home from 8:20am to 6pm. Which can be a lot. Especially if one of us is still recuperating from a week of fever and cough.
But we made it.
In different news, I've decided to try to learn a few more things by heart, partly because I get bored on solo walks around the neighborhood and partly because my lengthy ear-popping cold has gotten me off the iPod for a while.
I've learned all of Burns' "To a Mouse" - with accent and all - and was starting on Arnold's "Dover Beach" when I realized that "Dover Beach" doesn't flow off the tongue as well. I like it, but I can't figure out how to say it right.
You can't prove it (other from my mangled punctuation), but this is the last verse from memory:

Ah, love, let us be true
to one another. For the world which seems
to lie before us in a land of dreams
so various, so beautiful, so new
hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
and we are here as on a darkling plain
swept by confused alarms of struggle and flight,
where ignorant armies clash by night.

I also learned - perhaps you sense a theme - the beginning of Yeats' "Second Coming":

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
the falcon cannot hear the falconer.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world;
the blood-dimmed tide is loosed; and everywhere
the ceremony of innocence is drowned;
the best lack all conviction; while the worst
are full of passionate intensity.

I should go back to Pippa's Song, no?
I welcome suggestions what to learn next. I might be going on a fifth-grade field trip to Gettysburg, so I'm thinking of learning Lincoln's speech.

By the way, if you don't mind talking to yourself as you walk, I recommend this. It is quite fun to learn lines while wandering about. "To a Mouse" took me more than a week, I think.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

embarrassing

I'm not talking about the old news of Papa Phillips here.
I was just listening to this song (at random) and realized that, thanks to a Hal Leonard Jazz Pak, I still know that %$#!!#$! flute solo by heart.
It starts at 1:18


Saturday, November 07, 2009

nerdy, I know

This poem doesn't look like much on the page, but I challenge you to read it aloud and not get chills while speaking the last line.
Oh, it's by Robert Browning (jr., the star of the upcoming Sherlock Holmes movie - not!)
You can also take it to the next level and learn it by heart. It's short. You can impress people in the early morning hours. Give them chills, too. But, remember, saying it aloud is the trick.
[Pippa's Song]

The year's at the spring;
The day's at the morn,
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;

The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven -
All's right with the world.

Of course the cynic in me (and, having read some of Browning's other poems, I think the cynic in him, too) points out that it won't and can't last.
And yet, that not-lasting-ness off the moment is what makes it so poignant. (Also, Greek story style, things are only right with the world when the gods butt out of human affairs.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

you ask, we deliver


All Hallow's Eve with warm fuzzies:

yard sale with entertainment

Today was a day off because the elections are held in the schools. In SF and Mpls, they were just in seemingly random homes and garages. In Chicago, we voted in the old people's residence across the street, but I have the feeling in retrospect that it was just another version of "random homes and garages." It smelled more official, though.
So I was home with the kids. Coco didn't want to leave or change out of his pjs until he had the idea to have a yard sale. So we had one. Not that I'm a big fan or that we were very successful, but it got him out of the house and got us to clean a little. Win/win.
And I got to play guitar outside to lure in the customers. Coco kept insisting I put out the case to earn some money for myself but I didn't want to distract from him. Also, it would have meant playing complete songs rather than playing songs I sort of know up to the point where I forget things or mess up and blame a passing squirrel or car for my fudging. Or, put another way, it would have meant playing two songs over and over again rather than playing an aggregate of 6.2883 songs.
Coco earned 6 bucks, mostly because he pulled a bait-and-switch. All toys for one dollar, except for some - was his motto.

Monday, November 02, 2009

H-H-Halloween

In a sense, Julie and I got lucky and Madge and Coco didn't get jealous.
Because, man, in our Bert and Ernie costumes, we were celebrities.
"Look, it's Bert and Ernie!" "Hey, Bert!" "Ernieeee!" Over and over again.
Highlights include:
A group of Asians had their picture taken with us. Various kids had their pictures taken with us, too, but the Asian group was in their twenties.
Kids ran up and hugged us. One kid, while Coco and I were in line for a haunted house, just held my hand for a while.
And one kid, believing a bit too much, asked me, "Bert, what are you going as?"
We, of course, played it up and waved to anyone who recognized us.
Individually, we didn't get as much attention. When Julie was out on her own or when I was off doing something, we didn't get as many shouts. But the one-two combination of America's favorite same-sex couple was always a hit.
Warms the heart.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

field trip

The problem - one of the many problems - of Julie being out of town is that I don't really have someone to laugh about things with. Let's say what I mean: laugh about other people. At. At other people.
Anyone can read this, so I'll try to code this as abstractly as I can.
Certain people come on field trips and are no help whatsoever. Don't listen, wander off, space out, and then drag their kids off to do special little excursions. But enough about me... (badum! Why is it so hard to resist the easy joke? Again, because Julie isn't here. Really, she guides me in ways she doesn't even realize.)
No. It was someone else. But I'm guessing by the behavior on the field trip this person wouldn't really know I was writing about him or her because he or she isn't strong in the attention-paying department. His or her attention is several payments behind and about to be foreclosed on. (The metaphor does extend, after all, to attention deficit.)
Anyway. Grr. Julie, you know what I mean, right? Grrr.
It was a Madge field trip, so it was fifth graders and I wasn't so much a shepherd as a goatherd. And part-time monkey wrestler.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Report to London

Today's report is not as elaborate.
It's been rainy. But Coco no longer wants to wear his boots because they're too heavy. Can't blame him. Turns out I didn't need to rush with the kazoos because the choir teacher was out today and his assistant took over.
Coco was irritable all afternoon while Madge took advantage of the iPod that Julie had forgotten to take along, so there was much awkward, non-blissful silence.
Trying to think of some haha moment that happened today but I can't really think of any right now. Madge enjoyed the New Yorker cover, as she always does when it is trying to be funny and Coco enjoyed his after-school Oreos.
I think I just realized one of the sources of his irritability. Oops.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kazoo-istry

I know, I know, a pun. But, c'mon, it's not bad as puns go which makes it forgivable. If not, write me a letter of complaint and I'll refund your money.
Anyway, I finally remembered to get a kazoo, which Madge needs for chorus. Yikes, right? Having two kids, I got two kazoos. (And you people thought I'd never learn.) Why not three, you might ask, knowing full well that for most intents and purposes (barring a few NC-17 ones) I'm still a child as well? Ha-HAA! I had the opportunity to impress the wee ones with some wax paper over a comb. Old-school. They really were impressed, too.
Now I need to buy more combs.

As to the pun, well. Unlike the laws of thermodynamics, I rarely let matters rest and looked up the word "casuistry." Sure enough, it's pronounced kaj-OO-eh-stree. Still not satisfied, I even looked up what it means. Now here's the thing (pay attention, you might learn something):
It involved applying *general* ethical principles to *particular* cases of conscience or conduct.
But - ah-HAA! (that's two times in one post) - the word "casuist" has its origin 1600-1610, the word "casuistic" 1650-60, and the word "casuistry" 1715-25.
Odd, huh, how the word that focuses on applying general concepts to particular cases originates with the individual who does so and only abstracts a general concept more than a hundred years later. Dumb ol' word.
Oh, it also refers to "oversubtle, fallacious, or disingenuous reasoning." I have no idea what that means and can't be bothered to look it up.

Library Background

Yep, the kids have graduated from the laser background on the school pictures.
Julie's out of town, so the posts will be a bit more detailed. Good for everyone except my fingers.
On Monday, I successfully got a white button shirt and a striped clip-on tie for Coco, just as he wished. This morning, the shirt was a bit big, but his old one was way too small, so we rolled up the sleeves and clipped on the tie and were good to go. Or so I thought until he walked around for a bit and realized how uncomfortable it was to actually wear these clothes. So we dumped them and looked or something else and something else and something else and finally chose a red shirt.
This red shirt is meaningless to most of you, but Julie knows this is the exact red shirt we had to buy for the last set of pictures. It's red and has no logos or insignia, but because those are hard to find, it, too, is too big. Or rather was, as now the sleeves merely approach his elbows - rather than cover them - and we were good to go.
So there's still hope for the white shirt and tie.
And Madge (yesterday) merely tortured me by asking "which shirt?" and then not liking my response. I've learned enough to not change my response and stick to my admittedly low-caliber guns, but at least I wasn't accused of changing my mind just to please her.
Please put in your requests for copies of the pictures now.
For a a wallet-sized picture, send in, oh, I don't know, $59.95 for each child.

darn that iPod

Julie's out of town and my stupid iPod launched me into a feeling-sorry-for-myself cycle just because it chose to play Patsy Cline.
Now I need to work through my maudlin "Daddy's Other Mood" playlist. Feel free to suggest songs. This one is on it.
Stupid iPod. Sniff.


Heintje!

Wait.
Why have I never seen this movie?


Monday, October 26, 2009

I Love Rowan Atkinson

Even if you say you don't - and, honestly, you may *say* but deep down you do; it's like *saying* you don't like the Beatles: the homo sapiens DNA does not permit this to be true or the organism will self-destruct - where was I? Oh. Even if you say you don't, you'll have to admit that this is strangely informative, or, as the people across the great spittoon might say: spot on.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My big sister, the star

My sister sent in a message that will be projected onto the Brandenburg Gate on Oct. 22, but she won't be able to see it live because she's out of town.
Her message is, "Congratulations, you are going to be a star for a night!"
A bit Andy Warhol-ish, but she's just being modest. She's always a star.
If anyone's around, please go, take a picture, upload it, and see what happens.
Here are the details:

Dear Participant,

thank you for submitting your personal three-part phrase to the Festival
of Lights.
*Congratulations, you are going to be a star for a night! *

On October 22, 2009 between 7 pm and midnight, we are going to project
your message onto the Brandenburg Gate and make it /your/ landmark. Your
"triads" and your name will light up the gate together with 60 other
phrases from all over the world.

Don't forget that you might have to wait a bit to see your message on
the Brandenburg Gate: the 60 phrases will repeat roughly every 30
minutes that night. If you wait long enough, you'll get to see your
message projected a number of times.
If you can't make it to the Brandenburg Gate in person, we invite you to
watch your message being projected by accessing the webcam *live on the
Internet *at http://www.sei.berlin.de/live-dabei/festival-of-lights/

All the best from the */be /Berlin* team.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Coco Day

Coco had to stay home today because of overly digested stuff zipping out of his body wherever it could. Graphic enough?
On the way to picking up Madge (and a friend of Coco's and two friends of Madge's - I'm turning into the rat catcher of Brooklyn) Coco said, "My butt buns are sticky."
Excellent. But: what other buns does he think he has?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bud Powell

Jeeez.
Just watch those hands dance.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Madge Monday

Madge's friend was over for pizza last night and the girls (including Julie) got to talking about books. They pointed out how hard it was to read Tuck Everlasting in class because it is hard to keep from crying at certain points and nobody really wants to cry in class in fifth grade over a book.
Julie asked Madge if she ever cried over a book and Madge said No, she didn't, but she almost did over this one story.
And then she started telling about (the classic really, the kind that made me weep as a kid) about an animal sacrificing its life to save the child friend/owner. And while she told about this book that didn't make her cry while she read it, she ended up crying while speaking. Aww.
But this, in turn, made her and her friend and Julie laugh, so poor Madge was a wreck: red-faced, laughing and crying at the same time.
And this was when I very confusedly entered the conversation.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

take your time with this

It's a learning experience.
And remember to "Shake it when you P."
(For all y'all who wants your funk uncut.)


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

ooh, almost forgot

today's birthday poem.
The poet is Turkish, Ayten Mutlu, and the lines might have lost something in translation. - You know what? I take that back. They might have even gained something in translation, if only several billion potential readers.
Anyway.

The Hierarchy of Concepts

When the Abstract Concepts sit down to eat,
The Passions argue about veggies and meat,
While Intellect grumbles,
"Pipe down, sit on your a posterioris,
and tell each other meaningless stories.
I want to reach beyond all your vainglories
and hang out with the two a prioris."
But Intellect notes
Space drifting,
tapping his feet,
and nodding his head to an unheard beat,
And Time sitting proudly in a corner seat.


Yikes, that was hard. Feel free to guess the source line in the comments.

just like ...

I know it's childish, but I also think I'm not the only one. Whenever this song comes up in a cafe or some other pretentious setting, I can't help changing the lyrics, for example:





She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman

But she farts like a man.


I'm sure you have other things she does like a man.
Feel free to share in the comments.

Monday, October 05, 2009

lost verse

Flann O'Brien's Birthday today. Odd coincidence because I recently picked up his Best of Myles and love it.
The poem I found online is already funny, so I'll only try to add a verse rather than cast it in a different light.


Well, Mexico was lots of fun
out here on the Yucatan.
But when Montezuma's wrath's begun,
A pint of plain is your only man.

Madge Monday

This morning Madge was playing a computer game. When the levels changed she said, "Look it's you." The guy on the screen didn't resemble me at all. He was balding. I said, "Really?" and she answered, "Yeah, it says super dad."
Of course I raised her allowance right away.

On a different note (you'll get the pun later):
Messing around the internet and noticed that today is the 40th anniversary of Monty Python's Flying Circus. When we still lived in Minnesota, we had a membership to CostCo. This was when the complete 15-DVD set was issued and I bought it there, thinking, "A three-year-old can handle this. Well, maybe not any three-year-old, but MY three-year-old can handle this."
After explaining that, No, he's not a naked piano player, he's a naked organist, which is much funnier, and that, Yes, it is funny to see people and animals fall from great heights, we came to this sketch and I had to toss in the towel. Maybe we can watch the sketches now that she's ten.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

different birthday confluence

Roy Blount jr.'s birthday is today, too. He's a writing hero of mine, if you didn't know yet. Basically, he's too funny for words but he gives them a go anyway.
And it appears he gets to share his birthday with an older comedian - Buster Keaton. I share a birthday with Steve Martin. For some reason, I find this, uh, well, I find it.
In a book of Roy Blount's I am rereading he has a review of Steve Martin's Cruel Shoes. I really love the honesty and gumption of the review, especially this paragraph:

An item about a nationality called Turds approaches risible flatness, but why "Turdsmania" for the country's name? Turdsey, perhaps. Turdwana. There is something to be said for this sentence from "Poodles...Good Eating!": "The dog-eating experience began in Arkansas, August, 1959, when Earl Tauntree, looking for something to do said, 'Let's cook the dog.'" But "experience" is not quite the word, the town in Arkansas should be given, there ought to be a comma after do, and "Tauntree" is not a funny name.

Dang. Happy Birthday, Roy!

birthday poem

Hugh McCrae is (was) an Australian writer I hadn't hear of until now. Sorry, Hugh. And Happy Birthday!

Following the Trail of Crumbs

Finding a recently emptied cookie jar
I didn't wander all too far
and discovered
Beth.
She was all of five months past three
and had a face covered with chocolate and glee.
But when I inquired
about what transpired
She looked on me with sadder eyes than Death,
And answered,
"Yeth,
I confeth."

pee-eth: gueth the source in the comments

Friday, October 02, 2009

another birthday poem

This one, hoo boy. It doesn't seem there are any Oct. 3 poet birthdays, which seems odd. Ginsburg's Howl was deemed non-offensively legitimate on this day, but I'll save him for another day.
You know whose birthday it is, though? Ernest Evans. Oh, yeah, you say, him.

Leonardo Works On His Model's Features

Now, you are mighty fine,
We all agree.
Yes, your jaw is sublime,
but there's a flaw.
I need a look that says you're looking just at me.
Then let's just see what Papa Leo can do for you.

Now you turn to the left
when I say gee.
You turn to the right
when I saw haw.
Now come on, one little smile, just for me.
Boogety, boogety, boogety, boogety, shoo.


So there. Happy birthday, Ernie. (Or, as you guys might know him, Happy Birthday, Chubby Checker)

ps. know the song? leave a comment

Oh darn

I just found an Untermeyer line I sort of like, but only because I think it's funny out of context since I'm ruining his enjambment. Or, rather, because his enjambment is crummy - oh, yeah, I said it - and I'm taking advantage of it. So, happy belated birthday, Louis.

The Wife Who Only Feigns Sleep While the Husband Fetches a Drink for the Offspring

Here in this moonlit room, I watch you slip
and crack your head on the cold hardwood floor.
I try not to stir, but chew on my lip
and wait to laugh until you're out the door.

ps. want the source? leave a comment

new tricks

I was thinking of doing something new this month, inspired by a "contest" I participated in online.
Take a line from a poem and make a new poem out of it. Brief, don't worry. I won't stretch your limited patience.
I figured I'd do it with poets whose birthday it happens to be, but I was thwarted right away. Yesterday was the birthday of one Blanche Oelrichs, who wrote under the pseudonym Michael Strange, and one Louis Untermeyer. And none of the lines of theirs that I could find online spoke to me in the way I hoped.
So I tried again today, which happens to be the birthday of Wallace Stevens. Happy Birthday, Wally. Here goes:

On Observing Teens Needle the Portly Security Guard at the Library

Oh! How cruel, how cruel,
those teens who've got nothing to do after school.
But I do vaguely recall the day
when getting a rise out of strangers was considered play.
And now I wish I'd had a video recorder.
Oh! The blessed rage for order.


ps. If you want to now which of the lines isn't from me and/or where I got it, let me know in the comments. If I had prizes to give away, I'd make it a contest. But I don't, so I won't.

heh, heh

Gotta love Simon Pegg.
And you gotta love this sketch. So simple, so obvious, and yet we didn't think of it, did we?



Thursday, October 01, 2009

Have I shared this before?

If so, it only proves how much I like it.


hm

A happy confluence of root meanings seems to form "gravity." Well, maybe not happy happy.
But it seems that the Old English and Old High German word for "to dig" and the Latin word for "heavy" made it possible for us to say that "the grave is grave."
Or to say that astronauts find levity in zero gravity.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

shirts or skins

After dinner the kids and I went to the "fake grass" to throw a baseball around. There was a soccer game going on and Madge noticed how longingly I was staring in its direction, so she said, "Why don't you just ask if you can play?"
I said, "But what about you guys?"
"We don't mind, do we Coco?"
Coco didn't respond but finally agreed.
Problem was, they had teamed up dark shirts against light shirts and I was wearing a dark shirt, but the dark shirts were already outnumbering the light shirts.
So I went shirtless.
My general rule of thumb with shirts v. skins is to go with skins if you want to win, shirts if you want to have more fun. See, shirts tends to have all the girls and skins are people who like to show off their upper bodies, so their either buff or not smart or both.
But that was not the case here - except for the not smart bit - and after the game Madge said I ought to exercise my chest more because it was bouncing around a lot.
pffffffff [that's the sound of a deflated dad]

Friday, September 25, 2009

dang

"People laugh at metal detectorists," is my favorite quote by Terry Herbert, who apparently now can thumb his nose at all of us laugherists.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

who's the kidder?

Madge has been around me too long, in the sense that it's hard for me to shock her anymore.
The first instance was back in San Francisco, when some aria that's a bit too high for my limited aging baritone - let's say Nessun Dorma - was playing in a restaurant but I decided "what the hell" and just pushed a little harder as I belted out "Vin-eh-CEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-ro!" in my best Prosciutto Pavarotti imitation. Neither of the kids even looked up from their meals.
Then, yesterday, we were walking home from school and Madge was complaining about lower back pains, a stomach pain and a slight queasiness, as well as a headache and irritability. I think they all come from the flu we're sharing (as a family is prone to do), but I said,
"Maybe you're pregnant."
Hoping, of course, for a shocked, "Dad-deeeeee-uh!"
Instead, she nonchalantly said,
"Maybe."
AND LET ME F--IN' SUFFER OPEN-MOUTHED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK FOR A GOOD FOUR-MISSISSIPPI before adding,
"But I don't know how that would have happened."
Sheesh.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I finally see the irony

It always bugs me when the kids, especially Madge, freak out about stuff that is super-unlikely to happen. Scorpions, black widows, tarantulas, thunder (not lightning, thunder) come to mind.
And I finally realized why it bugs me so much: they don't understand statistics.
While she's worrying, for example, about black widow spiders, she'll be chewing on her backpack's string which has been God-knows-where and not looking both ways before crossing the street because there's still plenty of time once the light turns red.
Meanwhile, how can I be sure there's not a great white shark in the sewers?

Checkers Speech

Gotta look it up now.
Apparently it has to do with finance and ethics, obviously the GOP's strong suit, but, judging by the campaign button, this is when they got the "ironic gay vote."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

tough times

Poor Coco. Yesterday the girls stayed home, sick. Coco tried to talk his way into staying home, too, or at least into coming home early, but I'm a little more experienced as a parent and it's too early in the year for me to say "*&%! it, let's go kite flying instead."
It was tough going, though. He refused to hold my hand the whole way. One of the regular benefits of the stay-at-home world is that, in ten years now, not a single day has passed when I haven't held a smaller hand in mine. (It's only a downside on really hot, sweaty days.)
But after school he held my hand later and apologized for the morning and told me that he almost cried at school because he missed me. He didn't, though, don't get the wrong idea. Apparently, he rubbed his eyes and sniffed and it went away.
Then, this morning, after we had our goodbye smoochie and I turned around, I was hug-tackled around my thighs and there he was again, with his eyes a little redder and bulgier than usual. I bucked up and gave him another hug and off he went. Brave dude.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

the shirt

With the change of seasons comes a change in clothing. I feel like I ought to get a flannel shirt soon, but can't decide on one. I know, this is a problem and it really concerns you.
I did notice, though, that my closet - or rather, the closet I share with the kids because real estate is so precious in Bklyn - holds quite a few button-down shirts. And I also noticed that, the more expensive a shirt was, the less likely I am to wear it. So today I wore a shirt that is currently at about $39.97 1/2 per wear. Gotta get that rate down.
I have T-shirts that weigh in at less than a penny per wear.

Putting on Pants

When people say that someone is just like you and puts on pants one leg at a time, I wonder.
Do they know how perilous an endeavor it is when I put on pants? How I really stake my all on whether or not my foot will proceed through the hole without a snag?
I'm just saying. The last time I was at the pool and changed into my regular clothes I had one of those moments. The floor was wet, obviously, so I was trying to be careful about not letting the pants touch the ground. On the other foot (seems more appropriate than "hand" here) I still had to commit fully to getting the ungrounded limb through the opening. And when I reached that point of no return, there was that moment of weakness and doubt when I wasn't sure I'd be reenacting oh-so-many slapstick scenes, especially because it took quite a few hops to regain my balance. Luckily I was able to run into a locker rather than a person, though the person would probably have been softer. Still better than the floor, though.

freakin' awesome

stick with it, it gets really good
(if you're really impatient, skip to the 2 minute mark)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

the kids

What's up with the kids, you may wonder.
Well, they're in school now, getting acclamated to the hard life. Madge is a pro, it seems, and is taking it in stride even though she's got a cold and is a little extra tired. But she likes her teacher a lot and has described her as McGonagall from Harry Potter. She's still waiting for her Transfigurations lesson. Little does she know that Transfiguration in the real world is called Puberty.
Coco is a First-grader now. Hoo-boy. He walks in on his own, very proudly. And when he comes out I wait by the fence and he comes to me. This is hard. For me. Because he's so darn cute and comes running at me but gets upset if I hold out my arms or run to him, too.
Madge often comes speeding towards me as well but catches herself as she approaches, just in time to remember to be a bit surly as I try to hug her. Sometimes I can squeeze a little kiss under the radar, but I pay the price later. Oh, well; it's worth the price.
Coco's biggest difficulty - or rather my biggest difficulty - is that people talk to me because that's part of social convention. But it tends to interrupt his stream of thought.
As a matter of fact, if you want to update A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, I think all you have to do is tell a 6-year-old boy that it's time to go to school and have him launch into ramblings that go from bending the four elements to "the reason Germany is so big is because it's so far away, let's go to Paris for my birthday." Take that Proust; and Coco only has six years of memories to fall back on.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Whoooeeee!

So it's more than 9 minutes, deal with it. Think of how the bass player feels.
Pour Some Water On Me!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Nifty

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/business/15bank.html?_r=1&hp
USDJ Rakoff (I think he's a district judge, not a disk jockey, but who knows, maybe he's both) ruled against the penalties for BofA in the Merrill Lynch bonuses thingie.
See, they were going to pay out $5.8 billion of shareholders' money to themselves as a bonus, but meanies decided it was unjustified and wrong.
So they agreed to pay $33 million of shareholders' money as a fine, but now a judge, obviously also a meany, decided it is unjustified and wrong.
Apparently he cited Wilde's line of a cynic being someone "who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." Pretty cool.
Except, of course, that an Elightened Being knows the price of Everything and the value of Nothing.

I don't even know what to say

How did...?
What the...?
Who could...?
Hunh...?
And yet: Oh, soooo perfect!

Friday, September 11, 2009

swimming

The kids had their first swimming class of the fall. They've had them sporadically in different places we've lived, but never consistently and they've not really learned strokes in a structured way.
Which is a roundabout way of introducing my fatherly pride in Madge. We had signed them up in the basic pollywog 1 class. Doing one of the exercises, the teacher asked Madge if she could do it without the noodle and she said yes and did and was moved to pollywog 2 (in a different lane). While doing the pollywog 2 exercises, specifically doing the freestyle with proper breathing (which she has never done for me, I might add), the teacher of that group said said, "Stay here after class."
After class they ran her through some more paces. These were: "Can you do the backwards frog?" "I don't know, what is it?" Teacher shows, Madge does. "Do you know breaststroke?" "I don't know, what is it?" Teacher shows, Madge does.
So now she's in guppy.
Coco should probably be in pollywog 2, but was super proud since he was able to show the rest of the class how he can float on his back.
Okay. I'm done bragging.
Getting them there after school and getting them to bed tonight was a pain in the ---

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

back to school

I'm a bit slow on the uptake.
This afternoon Coco told me that if I'm sad and lonely and miss the kids it's okay.
It's around midnight now and I just realized (thanks to the andante movement of Mozart's 18th piano concerto) that he missed me today.
(Listen to it and you'll feel it, too):


If you've listened this far, you might have noticed that it's not quite done. Here you go:

Thursday, September 03, 2009

"like" on facebook

Facebook allows you to comment on posts, as you know. And, for the extra-lazy who still want to be heard, you can just click "like" to show your approval.
Oddly enough, though, if you follow something like an NPR newsfeed, you get something along the lines of "Wildfires Kill Thousands" with a link to the story.
What exactly are you saying when you click "like"?

reruns can be good

In case you missed Flo Luehnsdorf on your TV the first time around, you can catch him again! And if you've seen it already, I'm sure you'll tune in again, because, let's face it, who doesn't want a snootful of Flo?


First rerun of "Feuerschiff"!
Donnerstag, September 10th, 9:45 p.m. in NDR

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

more on movies

An anonymous contributor has asked that I point out that I squealed like a little girl during District 9.

I squealed like a little girl during District 9.

And it was very weird to be in a full theater (not an empty matinee) with only adults. At least adults in age; some of us were, as mentioned, squealing like little girls.

Madge Monday

We went to the Prospect Park zoo yesterday. It was a milestone of sorts because it was our first time going there without packing anything. All we did was go. No picnic lunches, no extra snacks, no special treats. Just: out the door, up the slope and whee.
Of course the trip home was filled with a lot of "I'm tired of walking" - alternating with bursts of running through the grass.
The trip was fun. Madge, though, has been weepy lately for, I'm guessing, hormonal reasons. ("Why are you crying?" "I don't kno-ho-ho-hooow, sniff.") So, the more tired she got, the more breaks we had to take to calm her down. In a way it's nice because it's not something I did to upset her - I seem to upset her a lot - and I look like a good guy for trying to cheer her up. We'll see how this turns out.

I take requests

I have been asked by an anonymous contributor to blog about how great the movie "District 9" is and what a genius Julie is for suggesting we go see it.
The movie "District 9" is great.
Julie is a genius for suggesting we go see it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

clarification on heads and tails

A recent twitter post of mine was a little vague, I think. I guess 140 characters can't explain too much.
It involves the guy at the video store and his daughter. Both were little. I'm saying this because I think his size influenced the Napoleonic bullying of his offspring. Anyway, she was about five and had picked some Lion King sequel and he groaned, "Not again!" Then he followed it with, "You haven't seen this Harry Potter movie yet. Let's get this."
Now, I'm not really into censoring but this kid was too young to really get much of the movie, so it was clearly for him. When she didn't bite, he topped it off with,
"I'll tell you what. We'll flip a coin. Heads: I win; tails: you lose."
Seriously. Even Madge later said, "I couldn't believe that. That was really mean."
Way to make your offspring a sucker. He even clarified it to her to make sure she knew the difference between heads and tails and then quickly glossed over the fact that she'd lose either way.
Let me rephrase that. She wouldn't get to choose the movie she wanted. But I think he loses either way.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Coco Tuesday

All right, another.
Coco was chewing on his shirt collar over the weekend and somehow bit on the button and has been complaining about his teeth ever since. This is not a good introduction to a story in which I am one of the main actors. Sure, on TV or in a book this could be amusing, but grrr.
We went to the dentist today because it hasn't gotten any better. It seems to "only" be the molars coming in. "Only" in the sense that it's probably not an abscess.
I sure hope not.
The news is helping Coco out, though. I think he thought the button chewing caused it and therefore he was to blame for his own misery. Who wants that, I ask?
Speaking of which - yes, you need to fill in the gaps in my reasoning - there was a somewhat interesting review in the New Yorker by James Wood about the new anti-atheism. Thoughts, anyone?

Madge Monday

And again I'm behind.
Monday was a double-playdate. I took four kids to the pool. Yippee.
It wound up fine, with only a few minor scrapes and scratches and whinings.
It was Madge's best friend and her little sister, who is half a year older than Coco. Madge finds this little sister annoying. I finally realized on Monday that it's not only because the little sister is pesky but because she has a told-you-so air about her that is very much like Madge's.
When it flared up and I pointed it out to Madge, well, let's just say it took a while to deal with the tears.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sinatra

Tell you what. Do yourself a favor and get "Where is the One?" onto your iPod of whatever portable means of listening to music you have.
But, as tempting as it may be to crank it up, especially if you're out and about after dusk, don't - and I repeat: don't - make eye contact with anyone while the song is zipping up and down your spine.
You'll just make a fool of yourself.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chente

Sorry I can't embed this thing.
Please feel sorry for my children, because I have this on CD and can't help belting out the "ayayayayyy" and the harmony part at 1:30. (Stick with it.)
And please write your thoughts on the horse's role in the comments.

Friday, August 21, 2009

some soap

I was playing this today - got it off the iPod in no time and in F#.
How come the kids tell me to stop screaming when I sing this, but feel free to shout along with the recording?
Hm.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Footy Goodness


Coco's first pedicure. Madge is obviously already an old pro.
Coco's ecstatic expression is a result of the back massager in the chair, which is giving him a mild concussion in this picture.
He's convinced that I need a pedicure, too. I'll see if there's a blacksmith available to take the spurs out of my hoofs.

Not So Puzzling

I'd like to use this forum to formally apologize to the cat.

Sorry, Baci, for accusing you of taking three pieces of the sky. You keep laying on the puzzle and pawing at the pieces that I thought it was a logical conclusion.
I was wrong. I had merely not sorted them out correctly.
Except for that one piece that wound up in the Barbie hot tub.
So I guess I'm only two-thirds sor.

GET OFF THE TABLE!!!!

Love,
Daddy

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Coco Tuesday

My schedule is all off. Vacation is beginning to tell. Yesterday, yesterday...
Oh, we stayed home all day. Lounged about. Watched TV. Enjoyed the air conditioner.
Today we went out and made up for it a little by doing the usual pool visit, followed by some hot dogs and french fries. Then, later in the afternoon we got ingredients for some creamy tomato soup. Very successful.
Coco gets super talkative when we leave the house and start walking somewhere. It seems that his legs only go if his jaw is going, too. It gets hard keeping up with what he's saying, especially since Madge is so fond of correcting him and he is definitely not very accurate in the statements he makes. For example: Germany is so big because it takes to long to get there.
Where do you even begin with a statement like that? And he makes it often, I think because he wants to be challenged. But I'm a bit tired of the bicker-fights and feel like I contradict the kids too much as it is.
They don't really see it as, "Oh, Daddy is showing me that there are multiple ways of seeing the same thing." They see it as, "Daddy thinks I'm wrong again."
Yippee.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Madge Monday

We rented Amadeus over the weekend. Madge didn't really want to finish watching it because she was worried she'd cry. In case you didn't know - SPOILER ALERT - Mozart dies.
Between a previous Barbie movie and this, Madge now thinks she's the Queen of the Night. Her iPod is loaded with arias and she's hooting and heeing away at various coloratura passages. It's cute, but after a while I get tired of shooing away all the stray dogs.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

repeat but new

Coco is getting older. This is obvious to everyone except his parents. Whenever I do notice, though, it tends to be in context of him doing something that Madge once did. Right now, for example, he argues more and more when he's asked to desist or change or something.
It seems I should know how to handle it. Patience seemed to work okay for Madge. But here's the catch: she doesn't have much of it and jumps on him very quickly.
Also when he ventures theories of causality. "I got my wart from the ocean." (Because that's where we first discovered it.)
She's like the lyric from that "Mother-in-law" song: Every time I open my mouth, she steps right in and puts me out.
Now that I wrote that line, it makes little sense. But that's how I remember it. So there.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Coco Tuesday

Grr, grr, grr. I'm really beginning to dislike previews. Not the kids at the beginning of DVDs which start to warn you slowly but surely that the movie you are about to rent is not going to be as good as you hoped, but the kind that gets repeated on TV.
And not because they make the kids want to see the movies. I don't mind that so much - except for the case of the Avatar preview, which looks way too dark to do justice to the fun Cartoon Network saga.
No, it started with the Night at the Museum 2 and Rodin's Thinker (cut to 15 yrs from now, lovely American tourist kids in Paris: "Oh, it's the guy from that movie that I loved as a kid!") saying the immortal lines: "Boom! Bang! Firepower!"
Coco and his friends were endlessly rehashing the line and correcting each other on the correct pro- and e-nunciation. "No! No! It's: 'Boom! Bang! FYE-uh-Paww-waaah!"
Now it's a preview for Shortz that has the little guy all riled up, and for reasons that are more hair-raising, I think. The line in the preview is, "Say hello to my little friends!" Which the kid in the preview says as he's releasing a bunch of tiny aliens from his backpack. Coco is saying it all over the place and I get the feeling people - especially those without kids and therefore without knowledge of the preview - think I've been letting him watch Scarface.
And trust me, Coco doesn't deliver the line softly.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Madge Monday

Coney Island again, this time strictly for sun- and sea-bathing purposes. But today was hot, so two of the five boroughs emptied out onto the beaches of Brooklyn.
Coco is still new at this beach thing, so his towel etiquette is lacking. In other words, he kept tramping over the new* towels with his sandy feet. So did the offspring of the two boroughs that visited our ten square feet of beach space, especially after the Icee vendor parked in front of me.
Other than that, it was relaxing. Madge got a bit of a rash from the sand in her suit mixed with the sea water.
She also got to be big caretaker sister because the ride home is long and he fell asleep on her shoulder. That kind of thing makes her feel good.

*Incidentally, if you want to meet friendly gay couples, just go shopping on your own in the bedding and towel section at Macy's and nod and smile. I'm just saying.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Coney Island

Now that the rides are disappearing, the freak shows are popping up. Unfortunately, the Mermaid was taking a break and maybe science was no longer able to keep the Headless Woman alive, so all we got to see was the World's Smallest Woman, a 29 inch individual from Haiti. When I say "we," I mean everyone except me. Somehow betweeen the groupings of people who went - "No, you go first and tell me what it's like." "No, you go." "Okay, I'll go, but you'll have to go next." - I wound up passing on the attraction. I did get to go on the Cyclone again, though. What a great rollercoaster! Every time, it surprises me. Come visit, I'll go with you.
We went on the Wonder Wheel, too, which freaked out some of us because we went on the swinging gondola.
And finally we topped it off by letting the kids go in the water. "Just your feet, though." An hour later, we were buying new clothes. Maybe we should invest in hearing aids instead.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Coco Tuesday

Why me? is Coco's current battle cry. And also, You never had this exact bruise, pain, incident, etc., so you don't know how it feels.
We went to The Highline today. It's not some Amsterdam-style bar. It's an elevated subway line that got converted to a public park. Very nice. Almost too nice, gentrification kicked into overdrive. http://thehighline.org/
After we had some gelati*, we were ready to head home and Coco kicked into his own overdrive on a stretch of the park we hadn't walked on before. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't really learn to read until this school year, so he missed the sign that warned him of the uneven pavement. Very arty ridges in the cement served as unwanted and unseen speedbumps, causing a wipeout and skinned ankle and hands.
He didn't appreciate Madge's telling him that "Daddy still has a pebble in his knee from when he was a kid." Poor Coco.

*Pun alert: I don't think the plural of gelato is gelatoes unless you, like Coco, wear sandals and spill a lot. HeyOOO!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Madge Monday

I saw Louis C.K.'s half hour on HBO in which he picks on his daughter a bit, justifiably.
Two-year-olds ARE stupid. Especially when it comes to playing hide-and-seek. It is just as he describes. They tell you where to hide and when it's your turn to seek, they won't let you find them even though they hide in the open.
Madge, when she was younger, added this running patter when she was the seeker: "Where are you? Don't scare me. Don't jump out and scare me. Where are you? Say something."
If she'd known what one was, I'll bet she would have been worrying a rosary the whole time, too.

I do have a fond memory, though, of Coco being asleep and us playing a theoretical game of hide-and-seek. I was laying in bed, tired out from getting Coco to sleep, probably, and also from being up too late the night before. She wanted to play, so I said, "Okay, let's just play from here. Imagine where you're hiding and don't tell me. I'll start looking."
I dutifully counted to twenty and said, "Ready or not, here I come!" And then I looked in all the places she might (not) be: "Are you in the dishwasher? No. Are you in the catbox? No. Are you under the bed? No. Are you in the Heffalump chapter in Winnie-the-Pooh? No."
The game lasted much longer than a regular game, mostly because our two-bedroom has many more invented hiding places than real ones.
Good times.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coco Tuesday

Because I wasn't aware of the calendar and the class schedule of my Level 2 Improv class, I wound up bringing the kids to the class show last night. Luckily, some friends responded to my last-minute invite so the kids didn't have to sit on their own.
I had prepped them (or plied them) by saying that they are part of the show because they could shout out suggestions. As a result, Madge got in three suggestions before anyone else in the house even woke up to the idea that they could do the same.

Teacher: A location that fits on the stage, please.
Madge: House!
Teacher: Okay, what room in the house?
Madge: Dining Room.

Teacher: A relationship, please.
Madge: Hatred.
Teacher: ?
Me [aside]: Two people who hate each other.
Teacher: Two people who hate each other.

Teacher: A specific time.
Madge: Midnight!

And off we went. Though now that I look at these three - dining room, hatred, midnight - maybe there's something she'd like to discuss.

Later in the show Madge got out another suggestion, after which was heard Coco's voice: "Madgiiiie-uhh!"
Because he wanted to get one off, too.
He finally did, one that led to a fun scene filled with ominous dramatic irony:
"Haunted....House!"

And now he can't wait to do again because he wants to say, "Golden Toilet Convention."
What the...? Has he been reading Moore's Utopia on the sly?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Madge Monday

Feelgood moment of the weekend:
Coco had been whining and arguing about all the DS cartriges Madge was getting for her birthday. It wasn't many, but he saw each an every one as a personal slap in the face.
Yesterday the girls went out to use some gift certificates - yes, it appears that fourth grade is the beginning of certificate-giving, mostly because the birthday child's wants have already been met in multiples (how many doll clothes does one girl need, for example - don't answer). When they returned it turned out that Madge had used her certificate at Gamestop to buy her little brother a game he wanted.
Awwww.

(Of course any more advanced game needs to be played by her first, not only because his reading skills aren't up to par for the games, but also just because. Still, awwww.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Disney Jesus

We had had a late and lengthy dinner with distant relatives, who had brought an even more distantly related four-year-old. Among the entertainments keeping the kids going was the treat of having coins pressed with Disney images in one of those exciting machines in which you insert money and push a button and stand back and watch. Great fun for the little ones.

Madge got an imprint of Pooh and Coco got Lilo and Stitch. The 4-yr-old got Pocahontas and, I think, John Smith. I didn’t see the coin, but I think it was John Smith because the kid said, “It looks like Jesus” and I don’t think he was referring to Pocahontas, though you never know. Disney in Orlando, FL, by the way, if that wasn’t obvious by now.

What does a kid say in a situation like this?

Coco chose to say, “Who’s Jesus?”

Since it was already late and I (we) didn’t want to get into anything, I (we) decided to ignore it, but Coco couldn’t let it rest. I think he thought Jesus was a Disney character. In a sense he (He, if you want) is, but not one that is named in a movie. So Coco started getting more persistent and said, “I don’t know who Jesus is!”

Again, we let it go. It might have just been easier to say, “He’s the Christmas baby and the Easter dude.” Coco would have probably said, “Oh,” and let it go. But in my mind was, “He’s this character people have made up in order to feel better about their lives.” And I figured that would have been inappropriate, so I said nothing.

Big difference between first and second children. At the same age (six and change), Madge referred to Jesus as “the guy who got hammered,” because we had gone to some museums and she was fascinated by the various pictures of this naked guy on a cross.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back from Disney

Fun times, of course.
But man, little things can sure grate.
I don't know at what age kids fathom the secrets of drinking with a straw. In case you haven't learned yet, either, DON'T tilt the cup when your straw is sucking air but you suspect more drink to be had.
Well, Coco really enjoys the tactile sensation of pushing in the little pop-up indentational identifiers on the lids of soda cups. His drinks are always all four somewhat contradictory options. Unfortunately he depresses them before taking a sip which occasionally results in a spill. He also really dislikes spilled cold drinks on his pants. So now he has two new Mickey shorts, thanks to the generous concession stand employees.
I wonder if they get a percentage on the clothing sales. "Tell them Melissa from Dayton, OH sent you! And have a magical day!"

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

behind again

It's tough to keep up with the blogging on vacation days because the kids always want a piece of the computer. Sorry. I'll do my best.
Meanwhile we're in the middle of getting ready for our trip to Disneyworld with the grandparents. Whoo!
Yesterday's installment included three haircuts. Juno, our hairdresser/stylist snipped his finger in the process. Luckily my dad-bag comes not only with Nintendo DSs but also with band-aids, so we were good to go.
Today's installment involves the storage unit and picking up some more summer clothes. Also dropping off some winter items. I think we won't need snow pants in 80-degree weather, but you never know.
And of course the pool. Let's not forget the pool.
Meanwhile the kids are percolating on the couch and can't wait to get packing. Only four more days, but who's counting?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

baseball and beyond

We saw a minor league game last night. The Brooklyn Cyclones (our team) beat the TriCity somethingorothers (Tiger, I think, though don't ask me what three cities make up the TriCity home base). In the last inning, "we" were trailing by a run. While Madge and I were getting ice cream there was a lead-off double - jeez, I hope I'm using these brand new terms correctly - and after the bases got loaded and a guy ran in on a base hit, the number 40 dude smacked the ball over the outfielder and against the fence and that was it.
Whooo! Let's go Cyclones! clap clap clapclapclap.
The girls went home because they were wiped out, but Coco (who was wiped out too but is a sucker for late night activities) and I (merely a sucker) stayed for the fireworks. The stadium passed the time by playing a kind of beach ball volleyball, which Coco enjoyed a little too much. At first he was playing on my shoulders and then he wanted down and started running around the stands. Luckily, I reeled him in for the fireworks.
On the subway ride home, he was drowsy, but refused to fall asleep because he wanted to make sure he'd get his pjs put on when we got home. Go figure.
Two women, approaching thirty, were standing near us and one of them said, "mumble mumble gorgeous eyes." I said, "He does. Yes." She said, "No, you. You have gorgeous eyes."
Oh.
So I said, "Thanks. Too bad you can't see my ass from there."
No. Of course not.
I said, "Thank you" and left it at that. She had one of those empty mega-drink containers from Coney Island and I think it was full when she originally purchased it, so that may have influenced her judgment. Not of my eyes, of course, just of the appropriateness of her endeavor.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

gummy

The Summer Hit of 2009. For us. For others it may have been the hit of 2007.

Coco Tuesday

Hm.
The schedule gets thrown for a loop during vacation time. We'll see how I can keep up.
I don't really remember what fantastic things happened on Tuesday. We went to the pool, I know that. Got rained out. Still had fun, though.
Yesterday we went to the pool again. Surprise, surprise. Coco doesn't want to walk home in his wet swimsuit, so he brings a change of clothes, but for some reason he doesn't want to change where everyone can see him so he goes to a stall and does it there. Fair enough.
When we got out of the pool yesterday, there was a guy in the showers - cold showers - washing himself, without any clothes on. I would find this unusual, but here certain people swim with shirts on. I don't think it's a religious thing. I dare say it's a socio-ethno-economic thing.
One guy even rolled his eyes at me, indicating, you know, "Pffft. Some people."
So I said, "What, did you see something you don't have?"
No, I didn't get punched. But he was indignant and said that his little nephew didn't need to see that.
I'm confused. Couldn't one just look away?
(Admittedly, it would have been difficult, because the physique of this guy had the bizarre appeal of a three-car pileup, but still.)
We'll see what exciting stories arise at the pool today.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Madge Monday

Here's a song I've transcribed recently. No big deal because songs like this just linger on I and IV with the occasional V, and this one has the gimmicky I - III7 - IV - I in the B section.
The lyrics:

I was dancin' with my darlin' to the Tennessee Waltz
When an old friend I happened to see.
I introduced her* to my loved one and while they were dancin'
My friend stole my sweetheart from me.

I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz
Now I know just how much I have lost.
Yes I lost my little darlin' the night they were playing
The beautiful Tennessee Waltz.

* I'm so flexible, I changed it to "him" when I sing it. Or does that make me inflexible in a different way?




Madge started singing along, but commented on how I only like sad songs.
Well, duh. Those are the only good ones, right?
So I said, "Tell me a good happy song. There aren't any."
But she zinged me with, "I'm a Barbie Girl in a Barbie world."
Madge: 870,046 - Daddy:2

Friday, June 26, 2009

last pre-kids-at-home day

Yesterday, Thursday, was my last day before the summer without the kids at home full time.
It wasn't supposed to be, but Coco has a fever today.
I took advantage of that day by getting my teeth cleaned. (Is it an insult or compliment if the dentist says she might be able to let me be the test subject for a new kind of bleach?)
Then I got some new clothes (psst, don't tell).
And finally had lunch at a bar on Prince Street. The bartender was overly flirtatious and friendly and inquisitive and pushy. He exhibited none of these characteristics to me, personally, probably because I just sat down to read and ignored him - wait; maybe that's why my beer was flat. But listening to and surreptitiously watching him I realized he was revelling in his inoffical role as "New York City Charm" to all the tourists because he always brought out the phrase, "so, where are you from?" followed by a tenuous connection to a more-or-less current news story. Good times.
The biggest Wow-moment for me, though, was when a family of three came in. Dad: short, balding, glasses. Mom: about the same size, poorly cut and colored hair. Son: probably 12.
The bartender established that they were from Finland and promptly had nothing to say. Finland stays out of the news, I think.
The man wanted a local draft (or draught, rauther) beer and the bartender poured him a taste of something (New York City Charm). The man approved and ordered a glass. The mom and son sat at a table while the pocket Napoleon had his beer at the bar. Then he paid and they all left.
What the...?!?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

piquenique

Yesterday was the fourth grade picnic. Apparently something happens between the third grade picnic and the fourth grade picnic that makes the kids more independent and less willing or desirous of adult interaction. This is a good thing in general, I know, but I'm not quite at the stage of whipping out a book at one of these events and just kind of disappearing.
Don't get me wrong, I managed to bully my way into a soccer game. But before that, Madge kept coming over and asking if I was okay since I was just standing there, watching. Sweet kid.
I need to be aware of this transition, though. I think it marks the point where the kids are going to actively avoid adults in order to stay out of trouble.
Because we all know: as long as you're not caught, you're not in trouble.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coco Tuesday

This morning was the Kindergarten end-of-year celebration. The teacher is fantastic. I'm going to miss him a lot. But we can always stop by to see him next year. Graduates of his class do it all the time. He's a popular guy.
The activities of the celebration were songs and poems. They sang songs together and then read individual poems. The types of poems were: "I remember," "Pretend you're a," and more free-form pieces. Good times. The crowd favorites were a piece about the unborn baby in a mom's tummy and a piece about how beautiful a mommy is. Aaaah. Talk about playing to the audience.

Okay, don't read past here if you want to keep your good-ish opinion of me.

Still with me? Figures.
There was a moment when a girl in the class was questioning the teacher about his handling of the microphone between readings.
(Oh, yes, the event was mic-ed, though the kids didn't quite understand the principle of speaking intelligibly into the mic. "Whoooo! Hee, hee. Hi. mbllmib by mubblemeep. unglemung muh neebolphrip. noopah mmMMmmoobah. Whoooo!")
She was badgering him with, "Why are you doing it like this? ... Why not...?"
A mom in front of me was very enthusiatic and said, "Oh, she's good. When she's older she's going to make a great - "
And in the break where she was trying to figure out the right profession - producer, executive, manager, I don't remember which - my mind blurted,
" - ex-wife. She's going to make a fantastic ex-wife."
Luckily my mouth didn't kick in.

(I'm glad that some of you weren't here, because I would have been too tempted. You know who you are. To twist Ogden Nash: I know I'm incorrigible, so I don't need you to incorrige me.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Madge Monday

End of school year and art is coming home, which means we need to rethink our gallery space and maybe lower the prices on some of the older items.
Inky Squiggle with Mermaid Tail and Wings, tentatively entitled "I Have Mastered All The Elements, Suckas!" 2007 (Marker on Paper 8 1/2" x 11") now will go for only $12,500. Pick it up while supplies last.
One of the things she brought home was a sculpture - picture coming soon, hold your horses - which she thinks is ugly. Her friends say it's bad, too.
I gave her a watered-down version of art-as-mirror vs. art-as-lamp and said that her sculpture, to me (and Julie) is more of a lamp. I think she understood what I was going for.
And trust me, the thing is pretty awesome. It even had an accident on the way home and has involuntarily become a partial bobble-head. Ups the price, of course.

Father's Day

Close call.
The day was great, of course. Got some hand-drawn cards from the kids. Breakfast in bed.
On our way home from lunch out, though, we walked by a cat-adoption van, and I almost wound up with a little grey feisty fuzzball of a kitten with wacky eyes just crying out for me to play and cuddle and...
Close call again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Coco Tuesday

At transitional moments such as getting ready for school or bed, Coco is still picking little fights that escalate to tears. Grr, grr.
I've been managing things to start the processes earlier in order to keep our schedule.
Julie suggests asking him what might be going on.
She's a freaking genius! Love her!
(I'm so close to the thing that this simple strategy hadn't occurred to me.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Madge Monday

Today's half day was quite a success. Half day of school, that is.
(Maybe we parents should get roll-over days for these and then send our kids to school on weekends of our choice. Oh, or better yet, on evenings when we can't find babysitters. I think I'm on to something there. You guys work out the details.)
Anyway, Coco had a playdate set up so Madge and I went home, made sandwiches and a salad and watched some Seinfeld episodes before heading off to the big library where we could spend some time in the stacks without chasing/entertaining the pre-reader.
The only downside was that the library was quite full with high school kids socializing. But once you got away from the computers and went to the actual printed matter they were no longer to be seen. Only heard.
Still had fun though. And, on the way home, I even let her read while walking.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Photojournalism

Madge's class has a photo-essay assignment. They each got a disposable camera and are supposed to be snapping away, focusing on a self-assigned theme. Madge's theme is "How I Feel About My Dad."
This is flattering and sweet, until I catch her snapping pictures of the inside of the catbox.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why did it take me so long

To get introduced to this site?
http://oldjewstellingjokes.com/
Got some catching up to do.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Coco Tuesday

Half days at school get pretty crazy around here. Disgruntled parents frantically juggling their schedules and amped up kiddies excited about a quasi-vacation.
We had some lunch and rented Star Trek episodes (the first appearance of Khan) and then had soccer later in the afternoon. Not a bad day except for the unpredictable weather. It came down HARD this morning. Right as we were about to leave the sky turned from 8:15 am in Brooklyn to 10:45 pm in Krakow. Weird.
When we went to lunch I let Coco go to the bathroom on his own because we had already gone together and he just wanted to go rearrange some things.
"Why do you need to go again? Do you just want to wash your hands?"
"Noo-wuh. My peenuss feels like its stuck to my pants."
"Oh, go ahead."
The operation took a while and I went over to listen at the door two or three times. When he finally emerged he looked relieved and said he felt like he might never have gotten out of there. Apparently his hands, after washing, were too slippery on the door handle. I recommended using a paper towel on the handle next time.
He didn't get cranky but took it stride. "Oh, good idea, Daddy."
Phew.