Wednesday, April 29, 2009

outer space

We went to Mars 2112 last night. It's a themed restaurant. Guess the theme.
You get in a spaceship that bounces and squeaks and rattles like a school bus and when you're done, you're in Mars. The kids, especially Coco, loved it. Now he selflessly thinks we should take Mommy there on Mother's Day. And every ten minutes or so he suggests someone else who needs to come visit us because I told him we can't just go there any old day, it needs to be a special occasion.
So, when you come visit us, be prepared for some overpriced average burgers in a place with a great, albeit low-gravity (wacka-wacka), atmosphere.

Friday, April 24, 2009

afternoon fun

I forgot to mention about the playdate...
Because of grade recess, I picked up Madge first, on the way to get Coco. A rare occurrence.
When his classroom opened and we went in, he asked to have a playdate with a friend, the kid who cries more than I'm comfortable with. Only in class, though, so playdates are okay.
I said okay and told Madge about it. She said, "That's not the 'Ow, my wiener' kid, is it?"
I said no, and the playdate was greenlighted.

The "Ow, my wiener" kid needs explanation, I know. Apparently he smacks himself in his privates and then shouts, "Ow, my wieeeeeener," to the delight of his friends.
They're so precocious nowadays. I don't think I started using crotchal pain as a conversational stimulus until my mid-twenties.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

what happened to yesterday?

Things just got away from me, I guess. Between working at the Coop and Family Night at school (and limericks and basketball playoffs), I didn't get around to keeping Julie updated. Here you go:
I had my Coop shift and we went to Family Night at school.
Today we played board games. Madge and Coco played Monopoly before school and picked up where they left off after a playdate this afternoon and then packed it in when they got bored.
I wish modern capitalism - especially the kind based on real-estate greed - could be taken care of in the same way.
Oddly enough, Madge skipped her reading homework today (she has accumulated homework passes, so it doesn't really matter) because she was busy reading things I brought back from the library.
How meta.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

no TV update

Last night, Coco dreamed that Madge was watching TV.
This upset him.
So I said I'm giving her a time-out in his dreams tonight.
Problem solved.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

oops, no notes

Of course we did stuff today, but I wasn't keeping track. No super cuteness that needed to be written down. A special treat was that we got to talk to Julie on the phone - thanks, Caroline, for lending Julie your phone!
Coco made up some French sounding stuff ("bonzoo") on the phone, which was confusing to all parties involved. Then he wrote a note which we had to put in an envelope. I'm glad I could convince him not to send it off or it would probably be lost.
Oh, yes. No TV week. I got some markers today. The smelly kind. You know, not the intoxicating ones, but the ones that smell like fake fruit. Sure enough, the pink one made Madge think of penicillin. But we have some new drawings on the wall now.
No, we didn't color the walls.

party game

This could easily become a warm-up game for your trainers, Julie, or just for anyone who's a little bored.

Take a celebrity and launch a fragrance line (or makeup line) around them.

From Orlando Bloom (objectively crisp, wispy top-notes of sandalwood to a scruffy undertone of peat moss, this fragrance is a pick-me-up for those under sixteeen and those over thirty-seven) to Judy Blume (play-do and musty books combine to a mischievous alliance of insouciant intrigue; think jelly donut with a kick of mustard), this could be hours of fun.

Try Caroline Kennedy, Salman Rushdie, Pete(r) Doherty, Whoopi Goldberg.

Or others of your choosing.


It's a song the salsa band I was in (long time ago) played. The lick repeats a lot: bah, bibiduda, dap-DAA, duh da dwee dap dee dum
Anyway, it's on my iPod now and kicks my butt when it shows up while I'm running. No way to merely jog to this:

Monday, April 20, 2009

day two

Of course, now that mommy is out of town, it turns out that this is school's turn-off-your-tv week. Okay, it sounds like I'm complaining, but really, other than me needing to be a bit more of a cruise director, it leaves the kids in a better mood, so it's a good thing. The heavy rains, however, are another story.
This morning we didn't know about the no-tv thing yet, so we were watching SpongeBob in which he said it was his best day ever (not the episode with the song, though; he says it a lot).
Coco said, "Saturday is the best day ever. That's when Mommy comes back."
We tried calling Mommy this afternoon (evening for her). It's hard to coordinate the timing because she's busy. Sure enough, Le Front Desk Guy (that's what they call a concierge in France) said that she had stepped out. When I hung up, Madge said, "I didn't know you could speak French so well." She was impressed that I never switched to English. Which is sweet, but it sounded like she's been trying to speak French with me for a few years now and has only been holding back because she figured I wasn't very good at it.

inverted hunger strike

I'm always a bit late on reading the Economist, so this might not be news to you.
It appears that aside from using the delightful word "inquorate" (a negative adjectival manipulation of "quorum"), it points out that Evo Morales went on a hunger strike to get what he wants. Kicker one is that he happens to be the president.
Kicker two is that he didn't actually get his way, but got to eat again because the problem could be fixed in time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"lazy" Sunday

Neighbor boy came over and we watched an animated X-Men thingie.
After lunch, neighbor girl (gotta think of pseudonyms, I think) came over. New haircut, cute. Madge was teaching her the Twilight characters' names off the poster. "Rose something" giggle "Jasper" yes "Isabelle Swan" giggle "Edward!"
Later we played with neighbor boy at playground. He's an only kid, so he does the infamous only/older rule-making and rule-adjusting, which got very frustrating for Coco. I tried to stay out of it and was sort of proud and sort of feeling bad for neighbor boy when Coco walked away from the whole situation.
Which isn't to say that Coco isn't the manipulation king or at least prime minister.
I handed out allowance today and he tried to give Madge a dollar in order to collect a ten from me.
After various frustrated and -ing attempts at an explanation, it turns out that it was his tenth dollar. He finally agreed he'd have to cough up all ten - and not to her, but to me - in order to get a Hamilton instead of Washington.
Now Coco is asleep in our bed so I won't be lonely, he says. I should teach him that Police song, the one that I'm always humming when Julie's out of town:

Mommy in Paris

There will probably be more kid updates here now, so Julie can keep up with our shenanigans.
Our plan for the day includes playdates and shopping and perhaps some balcony gardening - I think I'll plant the garlic that sprouted in the pantry, to see what will happen.
So far, we're still just lounging around, singing "I'm a Barbie Girl in a Barbie World" and enjoying open windows for the first time in quite a while.
See, Julie, you're not missing much - except that we got to hear neighbor boy do his singsong playing on the balcony - which is where Coco went for the first part of the playdates.

Larkin review of sorts

The proof of hope lies in disappointment.
That’s the most positive spin I can put on these poems. Don’t get me wrong; they’re great. But don’t look to Larkin for uplift. Look to him for honesty, insight, and formal play. How very cliche, but I don't know how else to summarize the appeal.

[Here’s my story of getting to Larkin. It seems that every pseudo-intellectual started misquoting Larkin’s “Annus Mirabilis” because McEwan’s On Chesil Beach is about a kind of sexual awakening at the referred-to time. “Blah, blah sexual intercourse began blah 1963 blah blah Chatterley ban blah blah Beatles LP.” I meant to look up the actual poem but didn’t get around to it. Then I started reading Kingsley Amis and picked up Lucky Jim and sure enough, it’s dedicated to Larkin. Then I noticed that all of Larkin’s poems fit on less than 200 pages and there we are.]

I’ll try to give you a taste.
As a reader, I hit my stride in Larkin's mid-thirties – I’m not bold enough to say that it’s when he hit his stride as a writer – with The Less Deceived. A random sampling of titles will give you a flavor of his subjects. Poems include: Next, Please; Going; Wants; Maiden Name; Born Yesterday; Whatever Happened?; No Road. You get the drift.

Here’s a bit of “Maiden Name”:

Then is it scentless, weightless, strengthless, wholly
Untruthful? Try whispering it slowly.
No, it means you. Or, since you’re past and gone,

It means what we feel now about you then:

Or, how about only the rhyme words of “Maiden Name”:

Disused; face; grace; confused; cannot be; beauty; used;;
No one; scattered through; prize or two; ribbon; wholly; slowly; gone;;
Then; young; among; again; faithfulness; meaning less; laden.

Great stuff. If you don’t care for a whole book of poems, I highly recommend “Church Going,” “High Windows,” and “The Trees” (“Their greenness is a kind of grief.”)

[Depending on my speed on bigger novels, I reserve the right to count this reading as four books, since The North Ship, The Less Deceived, The Whitsun Weddings, and High Windows each originally appeared as a separate volume. And now I’m off to start Lucky Jim.]

Saturday, April 18, 2009

picture time

a little self-dressup from Madge

Thursday, April 16, 2009

tissues at the ready

I can't embed the clip, but here's the link.
Seriously, I dare you not to get chills.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lord Of The Rings

Sure, Coco may be a little young to see it, but he said he'd just wear his dream bracelet to bed to avoid nightmares.
So we polished off the movies this weekend.
This morning he noticed that we still had some cotton candy left over from a Knicks game we saw a while ago and asked if he could have it.
When I handed it to him, he hunched over it and gurgled, "Aaah, my precious!"


finished my first book for the 100 books thing and wrote a little "review"
Great Gatsby

Did you remember that Tom and Daisy had a kid?
Pammy is her name. She’s three.
It’s odd, the things you notice when you reread a classic. I’m now convinced that the only reason the book is assigned to high school kids is its length. For example,

A) If I didn’t have kids of my own, I don’t think I’d have noticed the kid, since the Buchanans don’t seem to, either. I would have noticed Tom breaking his mistress’s nose for mentioning his wife, though. It, too, came as a surprise to me on the reread (am I really such an inattentive first-time reader?).

B) If I hadn’t moved to New York after living in Chicago and Minneapolis, some of the West vs. East would have been greeted with a “whatever.” Makes sense now, though.

C) If I hadn’t passed my thirtieth birthday a while ago, I would have rolled my eyes at this observation:

“I’m thirty,” I said. “I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.” (177)

Which is part of this theme:

Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known. (59)

“You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”
I’ve always been glad I said that. It was the only compliment I ever gave him, because I disapproved of him from beginning to end. (154)

Put Gatsby on your list of 100 books to read five years from now. It’ll be worth it (again). I’m sure I’ll be picking up recommendations from all of you, too.

The oddest line for the contemporary reader is probably

-- intruding into one chamber where a disheveled man in pajamas was doing liver exercises on the floor. (91)

But Chapter IV, in which he describes the Long Island crowd, is filled with great nuggets as well. For example:

From East Egg, then, came the Chester Beckers and the Leeches, and a man named Bunsen, whom I knew in Yale, and Doctor Webster Civet, who was drowned last summer up in Maine. And the Hornbeams and the Willie Voltaires, and a whole clan named Blackbuck, who always gathered in a corner and flipped up their noses like goats at whosoever came near. And the Ismays and the Chrysties (or rather Hubert Auerbach and Mr. Chrystie’s wife), and Edgar Beaver, whose hair, they say, turned cotton-white one winter afternoon for no good reason at all. (61-2)

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I've signed up to a site where I can publicly catch up on stuff I've never read.
Here's my first bit, the assignment:

Speaking up

I just finished an intro level improv class. Fun stuff. And now I'll go off to level two. Yippee.
This weekend I went to see two shows, which made me notice something.
When I show up to my kids' classes (from pre-K to 4th grade so far), there are always kids who raise their hands before they have something to say. Inevitably, one of them gets called on because, let's face it, they are very skilled at raising their hands and going "ooh, ooh, pick me!"
Well, it turns out that this never stops.
At Friday's show, the cast was going to ask for
was going to ask for a suggestion of the place you're from.
"Oh. Israel."
And from then on, she had hardly anything to say. To her defense, she probably didn't know the English words for the stuff she did as a kid. Still.

At Saturday's show, the cast asked for something special that happened to someone in the audience.
"Ooh. Me! Me!"
"You over there."
"What happened to you?"
"Well, next week we're all going to get together and..."

I suggest that grammar school teachers crack down harder on kids who speak before they've listened to instructions. It only gets worse with age and alcohol.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Julie can attest to this.
When we were living in San Francisco (the second time), I needed to get new contacts and didn't have an opto- ophtho- opti- eye doctor. So I looked in the phone book and chose one based on his name: Thomas Chong.
He still sends me reminders to get my eyes checked even though he's been sending them to Brooklyn for two and a half years now.
And, no, it wasn't even remotely who I hoped for. But he did a good job. I can see fine.


Because Coco has to take his getwellicillin for last week's strep throat, he gets to kill the icky taste with candy. He chose gumballs.
Now, our video store has a gumball machine, and they give out a free rental if you get a yellow gumball. However, we got our gumballs from a corner store. The packet contained two yellow ones and Coco didn't miss a beat.
"Let's save the yellow ones so we can get free rentals."
And no, I don't think it was meant as innocently as it reads. He intends to sneak them in and pretend we got them from the machine.
That's my boy.
(Madge, of course, is outraged at the idea.)

Thursday, April 02, 2009


I wish I could say I wore out Miles Davis' Kind of Blue when I was a kid.
This is the single I played over and over and over and ...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Fools

At pickup today I overheard a dad tell his daughter that the mom had gone to Florida on business and they are going to pack up this afternoon to catch up with her and spend an extra wee there before spring break. She was ecstatic and jumped up and down until he said those magic words which deflated her and literally sat her on her butt on the ground.
That doesn't compare, though, with Coco's April Fools. "Your eyebrows are tied. April Fools!"