Thursday, December 13, 2007

Fin

I finished the first draft of the book I was working on. It's just short of 120,000 words -- not bad for about 43 days of work on it! Here's to writing while on the job, eh? Woo hoo!

Oh, and in addition to loving blimps and zeppelins, B1 is now fascinated by the Union Jack.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And on and on

I'm at over 105,000 words on the long piece. Much carnage and mayhem. Technically, I'm probably closer to 115,000 words, but I vaulted 20 pages in my "Cuttings" file, where I mothball stuff that's problematic. Anyway, I'm really hoping to get it done by week's end, like around the 120,000-word mark. It's a decent story, I think. People will probably think I'm depraved, but I'm just writing, y'all.

I can already imagine the interpretations as people read it, although anybody who knows me will see so much of me in it as they read it, like my trademark sarcasm, irony, snarkiness, and angst. Heh.

I'm definitely more pleased with this piece than any long fiction I've done to date. Once I get the draft done, it'll be time for the read-through and revision, the tightening of the laces, keeping it all together, tight, effective, all of that.

Then I'll let some folks read it, see what they think.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Superdad

Music: My Bloody Valentine, "When You Sleep"

I put together B1's loft bed the other night, got it all set up. The room looks sharp, he loves it, and his baby brother loves getting his brother's old captain's bed. Everybody wins, although the boys have to get used to the overhang on the loft bed -- every so often I hear "Hahahah! *KLONK* Waaaaaaa!"

So, tomorrow's Homegrrl's potluck -- I'm bringing a giant apple pie I picked up from Costco. Had to, because I've always wanted to get one of their giant cakes or pies, but it's too much for normal consumption, is perfect for a party. Spousette may or may not come, depending on how much studying she gets done tomorrow.

I didn't go to work today, didn't want to go. Missed out on the holiday party, but oh, well. The Production Posse was flummoxed by my absence -- they refer to me as "the glue" that holds their social grouping together; my sparkliness (to use Homegrrl's terminology) seems to follow me wherever I go. But I just couldn't imagine drinking and eating for what would have amounted to about 5 or 6 hours. No good. Better to skip out, go shopping at Costco and Target, getting needed things.

Of course, I called in sick, so there you go -- I got some nice floor lamps, one for our living room, one for the boys' room. See, the boys' room needed a new light -- during nightfall, it basically became only a sleeping room, because of that. Now, with the new lights, it's a-okay, and they can use the room again. Viva Target!

I'm going to add some pix to Flickr, now.

So, I crossed the 100,000-word threshold on the story I'm working on right now, which is a speed record for me, given that I started this one right after Halloween. I should've done National Novel-Writing Month this year, eh? Ah, well. Hopefully, this story'll be the one that I can market effectively, one that'll let me write full-time. Fingers crossed. It's sure to be banned by fundamentalists everywhere -- it's kind of like "Heathers" meets "The Howling." But I like it, it works well. I'm hoping that I can wrap it up at 120,000 words. If I can keep the pace I've had the last 40 days, I'll have it done by next week (assuming 120,000 words = done). I know the ending I want, it's just a matter of the protagonist letting me get there.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Falconer

I saw a peregrine falcon in the park across the street from our building. It was off the path I take to reach the bus, was in the grass, eating the remains of a pigeon. It was really cool seeing a wild peregrine so close – I was probably no more than 15 feet away from it. It kind of kept an eye on me, but I didn’t get any closer, and it returned to noshing on the pigeon, stayed there the whole time I waited for my bus. I wish I had my camera with me to snap a shot of it, but I wasn’t planning on running into one of those this morning!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Da Bears.

I'm creeped out by people in masks...



That's Aimee Echo of TheStart singing/warbling.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"You want it when??"

This picture commemorates Mame and me at Bizarroworld, when we were the dynamic duo, dealing with crazies and lazies and everything in between. I love it! She manages her polite professionalism (while probably visualizing something terribly violent), and I have a world-weary word warrior look on my mug.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bunkum

I ordered bunkbeds for the boys, from Target. Something like $599 for the bunk and the shipping. Choke! And that doesn't count the twin mattress, which I'll still have to get. But it's easier to order the bunks than to go dicking around town for them, and then somehow fitting them into our dinky car.

Still, it should work well with the captain's bed we already have in the boys' room. The bunk is a loft bed, which'll be for B1, with B2 down below on the original bed. Can't wait to finally cashier the crib, which has been B2's bed for the past couple of years. He's big enough to climb out of the crib if he wants to.

Anyway, the boys should love the bunks, once we get'em set up.

The adventures of Domestic Dad continue!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Snuffle

I'm still wrestling with the remnants of a cold that had already tagged the rest of the family. I'm nearly better, it was a mild cold, but an annoying one.

I'm also recovering from a bout of South Park Character Generator addiction -- whew, glad to be over that; for about 48 hours, I was turned everybody I could into South Park characters.

I cranked out over 4,000 words on a story I'm working on; I've been frustrated this summer, working on some long-term, long fiction projects (it feels pretentious to call them books, so I almost always just say "stories" or "long fiction" or that kind of thing -- to me, a book is what you hold in your hand, and a stack of papers isn't a book, really. It needs a spine to be real for me, a "book" is a finished product; until it gets to that point, it's just a draft). Anyway, I've stumbled a bit this summer, humming along on some pieces and then something going wrong with them, or them not quite cohering for me. It's a little frustrating, but it's part of the creative process -- some things work, some things don't. When they don't, and when, after a reasonable interval, I can't make them work, I put them down and work on something else. I can always revisit the failed pieces.

Still, I don't like failing; I play to win, and it bugs me. I was caught in a bit of a funk near the end of the summer, and have gotten my feet under me again, and am working again. That's good, even though I wrestle with whether my ability to write translates into having anything worthwhile to write about. I dunno; I get all tangled up inside -- like I'm always thinking about things and am passionate about a lot of things, snarky about even more, and part of that always percolates into my words, but at the same time, I wonder if there's no real depth to my work, or if I run away from depth.

Like maybe it intimidates me, or that I'm afraid to be vulnerable in that way, to really show what I care about. I mean, there are things that I truly care about, but if I were to explore them fully in fiction, there might be a risk of sentimentality, or hokeyness, or something. I don't think I have a great mind; I'm smart, but I'm not brilliant -- about the only area where I would say I'm brilliant is in my ability to make people laugh. I'm really, really good at that.

But at the same time, it's not something that necessarily translates into fiction, or at least something I personally can translate into fiction. And yet, there is a black humor to a lot of what I do, a gleam in my gimlet eye that gazes at the world -- I can't escape that part of me that laughs at everything. That's the part, the jester, that doesn't take things seriously, and I feel like if I killed the jester, I'd be a pretentious douchebag (DB), like so many of the DBs I work with at Bizarroworld, who take themselves Oh. So. Seriously.

Those DBs bug the hell out of me, and how they network and protect each other. Then again, Spousette says it well when she says that if people's work is any good, it stands on its own, and doesn't require that kind of networking for the work to shine. And yet, it does. Networking matters. Gruh. I don't take myself very seriously, and I wonder if that's what holds me back, or if it's a good thing.

My drugs are wearing off. Sigh.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

'Tis the Season

Ah, yes, baking season. Spice Chick's led off the holiday baking season with her famous garlic shortbread. *CHOKE*

She must've used the same cutting board or else has an old wooden one that's infused with garlic. I was halfway through a piece of that shortbread when the garlic attacked my tastebuds. ACK!

People: don't cross your cutting boards! Use one for savory, one for sweet -- and if you simply refuse to have two boards, at least wash the hell out of it and sniff-test it before throwing some dough on it. Christ!!!

I threw the damned stuff in the trash and filled my mouth with baby carrots to try to exorcise the taste in my mouth.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Replacements

Some great stuff from 1981. They don't make bands this good anymore. Nice to see Bob Stinson alive, too, and at least looking healthy. This is mostly in order, although I got tired of doublechecking the track listing, so...

Takin' a Ride

Careless

Somethin' to Du (I love the lead-in imitating Bob Mould's guitar style)

Kids Don't Follow

Customer & Rattlesnake

Goddamn Job & Junior's Got a Gun
"Goddamn Job" is my theme song these days.

Maybelline

I Hate Music & Stuck in the Middle


D.E.A.D. & Shut Up & Raised in the City

Johnny's Gonna Die (A bit out of tune, eh? But that's part of their greatness)

Dope Smokin' Moron

Otto

I'm In Trouble

Slow Down

Big Hair

While looking for something else (an example of chick hipster hair), I came across this picture, which reminds me of any number of chicks I went to high school with. Spousette saw my yearbook, and said "So. Much. Big. Hair!"


Too true! That's some serious big hair, there. I love that there's a can of hairspray in the background, although it diminishes some of the impact of it, like makes it obvious that she bigged it up specifically for some retro 80s party, versus it being a normal part of her lifestyle. Still, WHAT HAIR!!

Halloween

B1 was the toast of the Halloween circuit in our 'hood (and from his school) -- people were blown away by his Hancock Building costume, would compliment him on the street, saying how cool his costume was (and when they saw that I'd added a red LED reflector light behind his head, that was like the cherry on top of the satisfaction sundae -- people kept saying "Look, he's even got a red light on there!!"). They did a Halloween parade at his school, where the costumed kids would go from classroom to classroom, and older kids, upon seeing B1, would say "Hey, that's the kid who was the Hancock Building! He came to my class!" And so on. "Cool costume!" All of that. If only B1 were able to appreciate the school-cred he earned!

One yuppie guy, part of a sidewalk Halloween party whose attendees all applauded upon seeing B1's costume, reached into the candy bin and took out a handful, and said "You win the prize for the best costume I've seen all night!" B1, for his part, took all the praise with a guarded grace, in his way, which cracks me up. The one design flaw of the costume was it made navigating stairs difficult, and so many of those places in our area are walk-ups.

I think probably what blew people away was it was a thoughtful costume that was also handmade -- most kids just did store-bought costumes, versus anything handmade, and certainly nothing as offbeat as being a building, or as carefully thought out.

Halloween's my favorite holiday, by far.

I painted my nails with glow-in-the-dark polish, although you can't really see the glow unless it's pitch black. I wanted to find black polish, but got to the CVS too late to score any. D'oh!

B1 was a little under the weather yesterday and the day before, so we didn't do a marathon trick-or-treating yesterday (against my old-school instincts -- for me, Halloween was a marathon event, where you'd try to score absolutely every bit of candy you could). And, again with the old-school eye I have on Halloween, I noted which streets were more forthcoming than others, and how much competition there was for goodies, etc. You have to get all of that tactical stuff sorted out for future outings.

While we were walking around, I thought about how cool it would be to set up a close-to Halloween Zombie Walk -- like a charity event (like the assorted walks that occur), but one that had people dress up like zombies for it, and how cool that would look. I don't quite know how people set up things like that, but think that would rock, this mass of zombies walking for charity. Hee hee!

In Cincinnati, there's an event called "Run Like Hell" that is a 5K, where people are encouraged to run in costume. I think that's pretty great. We need something like that in Chicago, yes? The Zombie Walk might be just the thing. There is a Trick-or-Treat Trot or something, but I'm talking a fucking Zombie Walk, here.

Anyway, that'll be lurching in my head as I already think on next Halloween.

Music: Ministry, "Every Day Is Halloween"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ZzzzzzZZZZzz

Music: The Warlocks, "So Paranoid"

I'm sleepy. Cat puked at the end of the bed around 3ish, about the worst alarm clock one could have, and I was up, and that was that. It's extra-bad because last night was Spousette's class night (Part 1, Wednesday is Part 2), so I waited up for her to get home, so I slept like 10:30 to 3:30, or something like that. Not enough sleep.

The song I have on, a syrupy bit of psychedelia from the Warlocks, is like a shot of NyQuil in my sleep-deprived condition, but oh well.

I just changed it to Negative Approach. Just try sleeping through that. Trouble is, it's only 1:17 long. Now I've got Nugent doing "Stranglehold," which is another long, sleepy one. Everything's gonna make me sleepy today. All part of the zombie dance, I guess.

I'll do black and orange tomorrow (black shirt, orange t-shirt, black fingernail polish), in honor of my favorite holiday, which, unfortunately, caught up to me this month way too quickly. We've just been too family-busy to stop and enjoy the moments.

And I hear it might rain tomorrow evening. Halloween rains suck. It better hold off.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Down with the sickness

I'm taking a sick day from work today; I actually do feel sick, and I'm sure that being at work will only make me feel sicker, yes? Best to stay home and get better than go to work and get sicker. Sure, it'd be best to go in and get everybody else sick, and then take tomorrow off, landing me a three-day weekend, but oh, well.

So, I watched ANTM last night, and what's-her-name quit the show when the time came for the judging. She actually wasn't going to be picked, but jumped the gun and quit, instead, earning the Contempt of Tyra(tm)! She was the gal who looked like she should be a 70s drug dealer's girlfriend in a movie, or something.

I'm definitely rooting for Heather in this. Lisa's really attractive, but has a kind of empty-eyed look and kittenish insecurity that's not appealing. I like that gal (Jenah, maybe??) who has the goose egg eyes and blonde hair who's not impressive in motion, but who nails it with the pictures. She reminds me of a gal I knew from college, except that she's bottled blonde. The so-called "plus sized" model is sort of interesting, too, at least in her looks -- on camera, anyway. In person, she's kind of furtive.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Printergate

Did I tell you that B2 broke our new printer? Same way he hamstrung the old printer, by snapping an internal guidewire. Christ!! The saga continues. I'd told Spousette to make sure that B2 didn't break it like he did our old one, but no dice. The stinker had gotten in there and busted it.

So, the circle is complete! But, since the printer was still covered by [Store's] returns policy, we took it back for a refund, told them it was broken. This was Spousette's suggestion. I wasn't keen on it, since it wasn't [Store's] fault the printer was broken, but she said "They won't care; I'm sure that happens all the time." So, we went back and returned it, nearly got our money back (e.g., it was credited to our credit card).

Thus, we are now currently printerless, with the memory cards still on their way, the ones I'd bought to fix the new printer problem to begin with. Fancy! Now, on one level, you might think, "Hey, Daibh, at least your system will have new memory, and perform better. And you can just grab any printer you like, now." and I'd agree. Except that we have several pricey inkjet cartridges that only go with particular HP printers. This was something we'd bought months ago when running low on cartridges, before we realized our Lil' Luddite would destroy our old printer.

Thus, the quest has shifted to me trying to find a replacement printer that uses those cartridges we have AND which our computer can handle. The Holy Grail would be a cakewalk by comparison, given that about half of the printers using those types of cartridges are discontinued. Sigh. There are still some out there, but they're generally older printers, not necessarily the latest-and-greatest printers -- and also they're not the cheapest printers, either (they run over $100 routinely, the ones that are compatible with the cartridges we have). If I find a good refurbished one, I'll be sorely tempted to snag it, and to place it behind Lexan to keep B2's cute little mitts away from it.

Amazing month of luck.

My three-word summary of last week: That fucking printer!!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

ACG

Alice Cooper Group were great. I always get an extra hankering for them around Halloween, although their music holds up nearly 40 years later…

“I Love the Dead”

“Under My Wheels”

"Elected" (I think of this one every election year)

“Eighteen”

“Black Juju” (the pie in the face, classic!)

“Lay Down and Die Goodbye”

“Is It My Body”

“Public Animal #9”

100th!

Today I got my 100th "Editor's Choice" comment star on Salon! Woo hoo! My day will be downhill from this point.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Carded.

The epic continues.

  1. New printer is too memory-intensive for old computer
  2. I order a memory card to add memory to old computer
  3. I discover that computer requires a matched set of memory cards to work
  4. I order another memory card matched to the original
  5. I try to install the cards, only to find out that the Dell only takes specific types of memory cards
  6. I then order a pair of Dell-friendly memory cards
  7. They finally arrive, I go to install them, only to find out that the company sent me a mismatched pair of cards; one works, the other doesn't
  8. So, I wrote the company and requested a matching card to match the one they should've fucking matched it to to begin with

I can't fucking win. This is insane. It's been like a month, now, since B2 destroyed our old printer.

Tricks are for kids

Some parental trickery -- Spousette took B2's Noo Noo (as he calls his blankie) and cut it in half without him knowing it. This was to make it easier to launder the thing, since any time we'd take the Noo Noo, B2 would squawk. So, magically, we now have two Noo Noo's, one of which we use and the other we keep in reserve. Come laundry day (Sunday), I take the dirty Noo Noo and replace it with Noo Noo 2. B2's none the wiser.

Another trick: B1 doesn't like the crusts on his bread, so I slice the crusts from them. Then I dice them and put them in a little baggie for B2, who thinks because they're in a baggie, they're somehow a treat. In the past, if I put those diced crusts on his feeding tray, he'd just ignore them or throw them away. But in a baggie, why, suddenly they're special, and he's happily munching on them! Muahaha! So, no wasted bread, and children get fed!

Still another one -- B1, ever the diva, won't willingly eat the heels of the bread. Sometimes, though, that's all we have left. So, I take the heels and put peanut butter or Nutella on them, and stick them together. That way, he can't see the heels! Muhahahahh!

Our boys love "Between the Lions" -- muppettish kids' reading show, on at 6:30 a.m. CST on PBS, if you must know. And they do a great job with it, except for a couple of shows that kind of weird me out -- there's Cliff Hanger, this benighted soul who's always hanging from a cliff, never seems able to escape.

And then there's Chicken Jane, who occupies this twisted world where she's always getting reamed somehow and saving the kids (modeled after Dick and Jane) from peril. Here's a representative episode of it. I always feel bad for poor Chicken Jane, forced to protect these idiot children from all sorts of things. When the little ditty starts, I'm always saying to Spousette, "Poor Chicken Jane!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Shrinkage

With Halloween's imminent approach, the candy aisles overflow with chocolate. And that's swell, although I have to say that the "Fun Size" isn't so fun, anymore. They keep making them smaller. I just ate a fun size Mounds that was all of .6 of an ounce. I bet in the 70s, a fun sized Mounds was likely far bigger. I hate that. So, eating two of them, I end up eating 1.2 ounces of Mounds. I might as well go shoe-shopping afterwards. Sheesh.

Work's insane as ever. Annoying Bizarroworld, extra-annoying and mentally ill coworkers, and me just wanting to be gone from there, trying to keep my head down for when the bullets start flying. I have a couple of job-lead nibbles, but refuse to get my hopes up just yet, lest I jinx'em.

I watched "Beauty & the Geek" last night, again. I hate that they call the geeks "geeks" -- that bugs me. But it was still amusing. Spell "Intelligence" -- I loved how slowly and carefully the mimbo spelled that. The makeovers were amusing, too. Now they all look like hipsters, with varying degrees of success. The pretty boy did the best in the makeovers; hopefully he'll keep that look going, and should be up to his armpits in babes after this show's over.

I can't believe it's only Wednesday. Today should really be Thursday, shouldn't it? Lordy.

Something I stumbled on over the weekend, on one of the lame weekend shows, they had people sum up their week in three words, which led to a treaclefest. But I liked that concept, and will likely do that for kicks.

Last week: Sick of it!!

Music: Big Black, "He's a Whore" (perfect tune for the moment)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturdazed

Well, I'm back. What a gray, overcast day today's been! But busy, too, as Saturdays always are.

Got up my usual crack o' dawn (the word "dawn" will forever be tainted to me, for those who know why, there's no need to 'splain it). And I exercised in the fitness room downstairs (nautilus then 35 minutes of elliptical trainer -- part of my fall/winter routine, when the weather gets ucky). Then later, I dropped Spousette off for labs this morning (got her up there around 8:30 a.m.), then took the boys to the Dominick's that's off of Howard (pretty nice for a Dominick's, very roomy -- it's the point of the spear of the gentrification going on in the area, part of a plaza of various things, like a Bally's etc.) Went grocery-shopping ($133, got a wide array of needed staples), then drove back home, did the dead-dad shuffle (that is, toting B2 in left arm, pushing packed grocery cart with right arm, while helping B1 along as well). Of course, I couldn't get parking too close, so it was a bit of a hike, maybe 150 urban yards, zigzagging. The kind of haul that prompts bachelors to walk by me with looks like "Christ, I'm so glad I'm not a dad."

Then getting into our building and unloading the groceries, making raisin toast for the boys (they both loved it. B1 ate nearly six pieces of it! B2 ate two plus some of the ones his brother left). Then I put B2 down for a nap, then watched some morning cartoons with B1 (he loves "Legion of Super Heroes" and "the Batman" -- even though I'm a Marvel guy at heart, I must admit that with the animated stuff, DC does it better).

By that point, it was time to get B1 ready for soccer, so I got him all ready to go, and at the last minute, roused his brother from his nap to get him ready. Then it was a hasty drive to the park, managing to luck into some parking, and hot-footing it to the game.

I'd brought the baby backpack, so B2 was riding on my back. B1's whole team was there, and while they practiced, I let B2 toddle around, get into mischief. With Spousette at labs, and me the only parental representative from our fams there, it's kind of isolating -- like all the other parents are there and talking, and I'm busy trying to keep B2 from swallowing bottlecaps and pieces of park-glass. Although I have to let him walk himself out, so he'll be more sanguine about being piggybacked when the game actually begins. The parents are all nice, and are always pleased by my enthusiasm when the game begins. One of the moms, Kate, totally reminds me of Mame. She could be Mame's other sister.

So the game was played, and the Silver Sharks (B1's team) played very well, but they were up against this impeccably-drilled team, these five little soccer robots trained by this hardcore coach. They were all little, but the kids could play -- they held great field position, played incredible defense, and even made actual offensive plays on the field. They were great, but it was kind of unpleasantly so, like they were grimly great, you know? Versus joyously so. They scored the first goal, but then our team rebounded.

Long story short, we lost 3 to 5 -- but it was a far closer game than that score might make it seem. It was tied for most of it, and only an accidental goal error by our ace (he knocked it into our own goal) made it a two-goal game. Otherwise it would've been 3 to 4, for real. So, even though our team was beaten, they played hard and they played well.

Only Kate's kid (who is this little diehard, all heart, a good player, though mostly instinctively athletic, versus being an ace) cried this time out, with Kate cornering him and saying "C'mon, C___, you need to get a hold of yourself. You played really well; everybody did. C___, enough tears."

So, that's some progress. And B1 asked right after the game if we'd won or lost, so that's progress, too! And our team really did play hard and well, and made those little robots work for their win.

After that, I let the boys play on the super-happy-fun playground (B1 scouted it out, said "Since there are no clowns there today, we can play there, Daddy!") I asked him what he didn't like about clowns, and he said "They're boring!" That amused me. I let the boys play about 45 minutes, both of'em running around, having fun.

Then we stopped by the gas station, and I added some air to one of the tires, which was a little low, then it was home (again, no parking behind the building -- gruh) so I had to go to one of my secondary parking areas, and haul the boys back home.

Then it was a snack-and-a-nap for B2, and a snack and Wallac & Gromit for B1, with Daddy taking a few minutes to rest! In no time, Spousette'll be home, and it'll be dinner time. I figure I'll do pizza.

Oh, and I ordered a soccer ball with a shark face imprinted on it, as a surprise for B1. He'll love it. I was inspired to look for it when I'd spied a soccer ball with a tiger on it. I thought "Oh, I bet they've got shark soccer balls." B1 might not be the best player, but he'll have the coolest ball, once it eventually arrives.

This was Game 6 for them; so there are three more in this part of the season. Then nine more games in spring. I have to say that the soccer league is really generous with the amount of games you get for what you pay for. Pretty great!

Alright, sofa-time for Daddeo!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Big Star

Song for the day, from Big Star. Sadly, there's no Big Star clip, but here's some guys covering it...

Don't Lie To Me

Don't lie to me
Don't lie to me
Don't lie to me
Don't lie to me

I know where you been
And I know what you been doing
Don't lie to me

Don't push me 'round
Don't push me 'round
Don't push me 'round
Don't push me 'round

I don't like that
Now, I'm telling you
Don't push me 'round

Don't cross me babe
Don't cross me babe
Don't cross me babe
Don't cross me babe

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

This'll be me


Once I try to get those memory cards installed in our computer!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Weekender

I find Monday's the best time to recount the weekend, since it's best to do so on company time, versus on home time. Not that there's terribly much to recount. Going backwards in time, let's see...

Sent out some rezzies, as ever. We'll see what happens. We took the boys outside to watch the marathon (where we live, we can catch them at Mile 5 and then can walk up the street to catch Mile 11). That was fun -- I'm a good cheerer, cheered those sorry running bastards on. We managed to hotfoot it to the Mile 11 spot (intersection of Armitage and Sedgewick) and see the elite marathoners shoot by, and waited there awhile (maybe 45 minutes) and watched some of the folks we cheered at Mile 5 make their way sweatily past us. Some of them were looking pretty worn out by then, ready to drop. The humidity took its toll, for sure. Then we went back to our apartment and watched the great finishes for the elite runners. I felt bad for Adriana Prieta, the Romanian who was coasting to a first-time marathon victory, only to have it snatched from her in the last minute by a sprinting Ethiopian champ. That was pretty amazing -- Prieta made a classic blunder: ending the race before crossing the finish line. Live and learn, I guess? She had an amazingly light stride for somebody running so damned far.

Spousette's definitely wanting to run a marathon at some point, but I told her no way am I doing it; I'd happily cheer her from the sidelines, but I only run when chased. The boys and I would cheer her on, but that's her particular mountain to climb, not mine!

We also went out and wore the boys out with some soccer and walking around the neighborhood; the boys enjoyed playing in the fountains in the kiddie part of the Zoo, which was cute. Although B2 was drawn to try to pick up cobbles and throw'em. He loves grabbing rocks and chucking'em. What else? Oh, speaking of soccer, B1's team won again, so they're 3 and 2, which is nice. Once again, B1 is hopeless at soccer, compared to three of his teammates (he's about equivalent to the remaining teammate). But he's young, is still learning.

Athletically, he's certainly capable of playing, but he's not aggressive or competitive enough to get much play time, and kind of loses his focus during play, although he seems to enjoy himself, and that's good. I thought he'd enjoy soccer for all of the running, but he just kind of goes off into his own world, although, as I said, he seems to have fun. The season is an amazingly long 18 games, so there's still a lot of time to learn and develop his skills.

One amusing thing -- as we finished, he said "did my team win?" and I told him they did, and he was happy, wanted to go to the playground nearby (which was all wet from the rain). I didn't really want to, wanted to get the boys back home, but we went over there, and I saw an honest-to-goodness (or badness) clown on a bicycle, riding around in there, like for some kid's birthday party, or something. I said "Hey, there's a clown in there." and B1's like "What?" and he looks, and says "Oooh, I don't want to go to the playground, now." And I said "Are you sure?" and he's like "Yeah. Let's get out of here!" so we went home, after all. For once, I was almost glad to see a goddamned clown.

We Peapodded our groceries on Friday, which left a lot of the weekend, open, thankfully. Spousette's labs started Saturday, so I drove her up there and played Soccer Dad for the game. I'll actually have to do that for the remainder of the fall season, and probably for spring, too. I just put B2 in our baby backpack, carry him the way, keep him out of trouble -- I let him run around and wear himself out while B1's practicing, and then backpack him for the game, so I can watch B1 play.

One thing we got from Peapod is this great full-fat mozzarella cheese. It's soooo good! First time we had it, we didn't realize it was full-fat, and were like "Damn, this cheese is great!" and then we saw it was full-fat. Yummers.

I was disappointed to hear the Cubs blow it on AM radio. They totally imploded.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Lightsabers Rule

Man, these guys do some amazing lightsaber duels. The dork factor is through the roof, but what amazing stuff; my production geek self is amazed at the cinematography on this...

Ryan v. Dorkman 1

Ryan v. Brandon

Ryan v. Dorkman 2

I always wanted a lightsaber. I really want one at my current job.

Mac-n-Cheezus Christ!

We went to Stanley's up the street, a bar and restaurant, kinda mangy on the inside, but good Southern cooking in there, poppets. Anyway, I encountered a new mac-n-cheese delivery system that was fantastic!

Fried mac-n-cheese! That's right! You take mac-n-cheese that's thick enough to be molded and cut it into cubes, and then dredge it in breadcrumbs/batter, and then fry it. They served it with a tasty ranch dressing variant and also a tasty tomato dipping sauce. The delectable mac-n-cheese cubes were finger food, roughly the size of a pair of old-school alphabet blocks side-by-side, to form a rectangle of mac-n-cheesy goodness.

Just when you think nobody could improve on mac-n-cheese, along comes this! I have to experiment, now, try to render this at home. It was really tasty.

I also had a country-style pork tenderloin dinner (with mashed potatoes, biscuit, and yummy gravy), and a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale. All was good!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Can't win for losing

I knew our free (sigh) cable went out for a reason this summer; they're doing the MLB playoffs on basic cable this year! Thanks heaps, Bud fuckin' Selig. Now I won't be able to watch the Cubs play. That alone might guarantee them a World Series Championship, just in sheer Fuck You Factor. Still, it's really irritating -- I love watching the playoffs, and they took them off network television. WTF? Those of you with basic cable, looks like they'll be on TBS. I guess I'll listen to the games on WGN AM 720. Pout.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Boyish

B1 cracked me up; he's all about the "-ish" these days...

"I want something coolish; not foodish or girlish. I want something not porkish. Maybe something sharkish."

That cracks me up. I don't know how "girlish" ended up uncoolish in his lexicon, but somehow it did. Classic boy -- girls have cooties! At least for nowish. Actually, there are a couple of girls he plays with after school, but they're more tomboyish; the girlie-girls all hang in girlie-girl packs.

B2 totally headbutted me yesterday, clocked my left ear with his head (since I was wearing glasses, the ear part of my glasses was mashed into my ear). It hurt! It still hurts, actually. Little stinker! He's such a bad boy. We have a good boy and a bad boy, and it's already terribly apparent.

B2 is cute and cuddly, but he's like 100% mischief, whereas B1 is a diva, but he's also sweetly helpful and amazingly rational at times, even if he's also very stubborn. He always wants to help out, which is touching, whereas B2 is all about destroying things or trying to get himself killed. We know which kid'll want to bungee jump, skydive, and hang glide, for sure, and which one'll like Radiohead and playing chess. You can already tell. We call B2 our little warrior boy, because he's so scrappy, whereas B1 is likelier to be something science-related, or business-related, or else some kind of anglo mafia don who breeds orchids in his spare time.

Spousette's still battling a nasty cold she's had for over a week; she's usually vulnerable to those sinus-type colds. Fortunately, she doesn't have labs this weekend, so she can cool her heels and try to recover.

And the Cubs clinched their division last night! They're going to the playoffs! Wooo hooo! They're the first team to clinch their division in the National League, which is amazingly up for grabs right now.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bloody Nose!

B1 had his first bloody nose sometime last night. He woke up this morning, hale and hearty, with dried blood smeared on his cheeks, hands, and forehead. He didn't even realize it, so there wasn't any emotional reaction, like "Whaaaa???" or whatever, and Spousette and I were matter-of-fact in addressing it. I took a washcloth and swabbed it off him, but he was like Kid Carnage this morning. A definite Fangoria moment, there.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Island Fever

I find I get a distinct feeling of horror when I look at remote oceanic islands or atolls. Especially the aerial photographs of them, as in Palmyra Atoll. The remoteness, and that endless dark of the ocean surrounding it. And only six feet of elevation. A couple of years ago, I wrote a short story set on an atoll, although the true horror of such a place wasn't something I really explored, versus the exigencies of survival for the characters in it.

Anyway, I'm researching islands and atolls for a story that's been in my head of late (really a revision of an earlier piece), and I find those photographs and the isolation of the places really horrify me. A drawing on a map doesn't really do it to me, because that's just a drawing. But a photograph makes the reality of the place more coherent to me. This place exists. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It has only a six-foot elevation. The slightest storm surge would swamp you, to say nothing of a fucking tsunami.

And reading about Palmyra, itself, made me think of yet another story, a short story. Of course, a horror story. All that ocean water, just waiting to swallow you up! Atolls are land's last gasps before they go underwater for good, never to rise again. So symbolic, so spooky!

All of that islandish thinking got to me when, on a whim, I read about Pitcairn Island, seeing what's been going on there lately. Something like 46 people live there, so it's a metropolis compared with Palmyra Atoll, which might have 4 people living there. Still, so isolated, so splendidly horrible.

I mean, I think I'd go apeshit and drown if I were adrift at sea; that would kill me before sharks or starvation or thirst -- and obviously if the choice was a desert island or being adrift, gimme that desert island. And I think the Hawaiian Islands are cool, but those are big islands, compared to those teensy ones -- the bigger the island, the more okay I am with it. But the tinier the island (and the more remote it is), the more freaked I get by it.

Maybe it's because I'm a fire sign -- the prospect of being awash in all of that water just spooks me. I look at the ocean and think "Death." I mean, it's also beautiful, and home to amazing life and wondrous animals, but for Man, there's a world of difference between coastal waters -- warm, inviting, beautiful -- and the deep sea. Like "rogue wave" -- those words spook me, too; powerful, you can reason with it, it'll destroy you -- as hokey as that "Poseidon Adventure" remake surely was, the trailer for it, showing that monstrous wave hitting the boat, that spooked me, makes my hands sweat just to recall it. Or that scene in "Master and Commander..." when the "Jonah" kills himself, holding onto a cannonball and holding his breath as he descends into the dark, trusting the cannonball to take him deep enough, fast enough, that there's no going back.

And those little islands, forgotten splinters of stone and coral in vast, untamed oceans, hoo boy! Big-time angst! The ocean spooks me. Endless mystery, unpredictable, eater of men. I'm always fascinated by sea monsters, too -- sea monsters are natural corollaries to the sea, itself, almost metaphoric. Spousette loves the ocean, and I enjoy dipping in the water at the shore, and even taking a boat out onto the sea, but when land is out of sight, something else gnaws at my bones, the endless blue-blackness of the sea, and I'll look over the railing at the water and the waves, and think "This is Death."

Boys will be boys

B2 broke our printer; I don't know what the lil' Luddite did, but he snapped some guidewire in there or something, and the thing died. So, Spousette and I went to Costco, coupon in hand, and scored a new HP printer, before going out to Wishbone for a delayed anniversary dinner.

Anyway, I set up the printer last night, and apparently the printer's got more firepower than our computer can handle (we're like a megabyte short of the minimum required RAM). Sigh. Right in time for school to start for Spousette. Grruh! The temptation is to replace the old Shitbox (as I call our computer) with a brand, spanking new one -- but financially we're not up for that at the moment, so I ordered some RAM to add to the Shitbox (which has historically been a finicky machine to upgrade -- I kinda hate Dells; they tout their excellent customer service, but I chalk it up to the necessity of it, because their computers are finicky). So, hopefully that'll go well. PCs are nice and cheap these days, but with the holiday gauntlet looming, it's kinda not doable at the moment.

A funny thing -- B1 hadn't realized that his soccer team had lost Saturday's game until Sunday! I'd have thought the other boys crying would've tipped him off, but he probably thought they were just hurt or something. Anyway, I'd mentioned it offhand to my folks while on the phone with'em, and he said "What? Our team LOST?!" and then he dipped his head down, Charlie Brown-style, and muttered "I don't want our team to lose to the Dragons." I told him it was okay, that it happened sometimes. He was bummed, but it cracked me up that he hadn't realized it on the game day -- but I think his priority at the time was playing at the cool playground near Margate House, which is near where he plays soccer. I remember thinking "Wow, he's really chipper; he took that really well!" Little did I know!

Spousette and I are going to do some ad hoc practices with B1 during the week, hopefully get him more comfortable with passing the ball, running and kicking with it, and so on.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Bleak Shall Inherit the Earth

The quandary I find myself in is a clash between humanism and environmentalism, which isn't something my leftist heart likes. For example, I keep hearing about how the Earth's human population is going to skyrocket in this century, to something like 8 or 9 billion in our lifetimes, or something. I don't remember the exact chronology of the estimate. If the world had 2 billion people in it, it would mean wonders for our habitat. But we're at 6.6 billion and counting, with no end in sight. Bad stuff ahead with that. Of course, I have two kids, so Spousette and I have replaced ourselves, populationwise, and added to the world's burden. We'll raise them to be good citizens, not mindless consumers, and I hope that'll help moderate the damage some.

That kind of freaks me out, because the kind of "limitless growth" ethos that governs this world to date would mean that such explosive population growth would be devastating for the environment, and likely devastating for humanity, too -- like the US has 5% of the world's population, yet consumes 40% of the world's resources. So, that would mean the world could have basically one other US-style mega-consumer nation, and everybody else scrambling for what remains. Obviously, the world can't bear to have that kind of monstrous consumption -- everything will be used up, and/or countries will end up, in aggregate, competing ever more strenuously for ever-smaller slices of the world and resources, a kind of "Road Warrior" type of existence, where failed states become commoner things.

The US needs to scale back its consumption in a big way, although in the Tragedy of the Commons kind of grow ethic that drives the world economy, likely some other nation or nations would swiftly move in to take our place as mega-consumer. The rapacity of corporate society demands it: endless markets, endless consumption.

For the sake of our habitat and for our species, that needs to be scaled back and controlled -- but consumption for its own sake is the dominant attitude, and no current politician would dare say "Consume less!" -- I mean, SUVs were huge sellers at a time when oil reserves were lower than ever. SUVs are probably indicative of humanity's doom, like the willful, flagrant waste and stupidity of them (esp. people using them in the flat-as-fuck Midwest). Their popularity in this country reflects the detachment from reality that embodies the American experience. More highways, more gas guzzlers, more growth, a rising tide lifts all boats (and I'm thinking, "Hey, most of us don't have any boats, fuckers!") For most Americans, consumption is the American way of life -- and if you take that away, what's left? What does being an American mean, precisely? Does it mean "Being able to get whatever you want, whenever you want it?" Is that what we're reduced to?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Holliday

Doc Holliday versus Johnny Ringo

I just threw that in for fun; great scene. Kilmer did a great job as Holliday in "Tombstone."

Lots of Thoughts

I'm feeling particularly philosophical today. Where to start?

I don't even know, so I'll just go where my thoughts take me, okay? The other day, I watched "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" for the umpteenth time -- I actually enjoy that movie, even though it was roundly tarred as a flop, so much junk, all that. But I think, for blockbuster fare, it's got a great style to it. I'm sure that stems from its "Steampunk" qualities, which I've always enjoyed even way back in the time of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's kinda dry "The Difference Engine" (which imagined that Charles Babbage's "Analytical Engine" -- his mechanical computer, actually worked, bringing the computer age into Victorian times). I enjoy speculative spins on history, and I enjoyed what they did with "The League" (I'm a fan of Alan Moore's work, even though he gets very pissy about film adaptations of his works). But what strikes me most about that story is the sense of hope that was still with humanity in the 19th century, before the darkness of the 20th century snuffed out our souls.

There's a scene in the movie where the villain Moriarty's master plan is unveiled, showing 20th century innovations like tanks (WWI-type, primitive) and armored battle suits with flamethrowers (complete with exposed rivets, as if Jules Verne had been kidnapped by Nazis to design them), and so on, and I thought with horror how people in the 19th century didn't know what they were about to stumble into in the 20th.

Now, I'm no Neo-Victorian wannabe, but I think it doesn't take much imagination to realize that, on the whole, no human century was bloodier or more brutal than the 20th. Look at all of the innovations: corporations, political police, secret police, WWI, chemical warfare, Fascism, totalitarianism, Stalinism, Nazism, WWII, genocide, total war, firebombing, nuclear weapons (and accompanying annihilation), military-industrial complexes, permanent war, death squads, terrorism, televangelism, environmental degradation, global warming, genetic engineering, overpopulation, bioterrorism, and so on.

I feel like humanity disgraced itself in the 20th century, and we're still living in the shadow of that disgrace as a species. Sure, good things came out of it, too, but as a species, we've never really lived down what happened in the 20th, nor come to terms with it. Somewhere in that bloody century, humanity lost its hope, lost its way.

Back in the 19th century, people still had hope for progress, for humanity, despite all of the problems they had then. They could still look to the horizon and hold out hope. WWI was really the first tolling of the bell, when those old values came into a stark collision with the new technological world. Now, it feels like humanity is just waiting to die, whether through a bang or a whimper, and hope has died. All of the old verities are dead, and only nagging uncertainties loom in the corner of the eye, and we face a clash of cultures all over the place -- the fundamentalist versus the secularist, the biotechnologist versus the naturalist, the corporate versus the individual, the fascist versus the progressive, the nationalist versus the internationalist, the anti-intellectual versus the academic, the American versus the rest of the world, and so on.

It's like we've broken down into disparate tribes, the Hobbesian war of all against all, without a uniting principle, or perhaps even the possibility for such a principle. Raising two children, I think about it a lot, like what kind of a world will my boys come into. Sure, every human era has its problems, but so many of the problems humanity faced had solutions, didn't they? Bad drinking water? Hello, sanitation! Revolution? Hello, suffrage! And so on.

Where's the hope? This 2008 political election in America looms, and I fear for our country's future, feel like what's being offered by both parties is too little, too late. The GOP is simply wrong in what they're after -- that is their answer; and the Democrats aren't really after anything coherent. So, the "choice" is between a group who stands for the wrong things (what I'd really call un-American things), and a group who stands for nothing really at all (except saying "Oh, we're not like THEM!"). Bogus. It's insulting.

The only thing I find that I can stand by is honor. I'm honorable and fair, even when I end up getting screwed over for it -- because the alternative, being dishonorable and unfair, is repugnant to me. The straight and narrow is that way for a reason, isn't it?

Watching "Pan's Labyrinth," I thought it was interesting how the actor playing the Captain brought humanity to his monstrous character. It was a great portrayal, and I found it revealed the horror of fascism that this otherwise human being was so polluted by his ideology that he'd lost what humanity he had -- he was as much of a victim of his ideology as the people he killed. This blinkered, emptied soul, this guy with his pocketwatch, marking time, keeping schedules, taking lives without a blink of an eye. Unhuman, inhuman, he can't possess empathy -- it's been taken from his world, he's cast it out. He's become a monster, deserving only death, for redemption is simply beyond him.

I was reminded of this while filling out a consumer marketing questionnaire (for $20); the reduction of a human being to a pile of preferences and choices, "you are what you buy" -- holy crap, is that ever dehumanizing. Economic Man depresses the hell out of me; I get depressed when the CTA disembodied voice calls us "customers" instead of "passengers" and when the news calls people "consumers" instead of "citizens." Is this the future for us, consumers and customers all, reduced to open mouths and empty hearts and minds, shallow and devious, craving and yearning, without any grander existence? Christ, it's depressing. I get scared that I think human rights are being eclipsed by property rights, where if the authorities have to choose, they'll take the latter and screw the former. That way leads back to Auschwitz, humanity reduced to property. I saw the other day that 10 million children die worldwide every year. That's astounding and horrifying.

Where is the nobility in the human spirit? Where is the honor? I try to be noble, to be honorable, to be just and honest and kind and compassionate and fair -- these are values that matter to me, but they're not values that are truly venerated and cherished in our society. I see people around me who are duplicitous and manipulative and ruthless and corrupt, and they thrive. But I won't and can't be like them, because that would mean an end to me, the emptying of my heart and soul.

This is just a long ramble, sorry; all I can do is try to teach my boys to be honorable and true, and hope that it's enough to help them survive, and that people rekindle human hope, rediscover honor, and banish the long shadow of the 20th century once and for all. We need something new, and something better. Something altogether kinder and cleaner. Something that recognizes that this world is all we've got, and we have to be our own cavalry, we have to rescue it from the tyrants and the butchers and the maniacs, and make it a better, worthier place. So that we'll be worth it as a species, worth preserving.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Antichristo Salad

The boys are in bed, thank heavens. Christ, what an evening! The simplest things turned into massive chaos. I told Spousette if she got Subway for us, I'd snag needed groceries, so she agreed. I was worn out after biking home (nice, vigorous Chicago headwinds take the piss, they do). Had myself a root beer n' rum (not a bad pairing, believe it or not; as an Epicurean, I take it upon myself to test these things out) with my Veggie Delite. Everything's okay, until we decide to go the store (Treasure Island) -- Spousette said she'd go along, bring the boys; then B1 starts caterwauling about not wanting to so, so we're like "C'mon, we're all going, now." I think for a minute about bringing out baby backpack, packing B2 into it, but Spousette's already got him in the stroller.

So, we're walking down to TI, and B1 is in full-on fussbudget mode, carping, whining, and complaining about everything the whole way. I tell him in an offhand manner, "You know, you keep wagging that tongue like that, some troll's gonna come along and take it."

Well, that set off B1 bawling, like "Nooooo! I DON'T WANT A TROLL TAKING MY TONGUE! NOW I'M GONNA HAVE NIGHTMARES, DADDY!" So, I'm like "We're not gonna let any trolls getcha, [B1.]" And he's carrying on, and I said "Trolls are pretend, [B1.]" and Spousette said "Daddy's just teasing." That mostly mollified B1, along with showing him some impatiens flowers, with their seed poppers, which he said would give him good dreams. So, I told him to think about those poppers if he ever had bad dreams, and he said he didn't like trolls, etc.

Then we get to the store, and B2 then decides to try to grab things off the shelves in passing, including a jar of jam, which he drops to the floor with a crunch/crash/plop, which happened right as I was getting milk for us (the main reason we went out to begin with). So, we do quick parent disaster triage, with me handling the boys, and with Spousette telling the store people there's a broken jar of jam in Aisle (fucking) Four.

At this point, we put B2 in the shopping cart (versus his stroller), and continue on our way, me with the stroller and B1, Spousette with B2 and the shopping cart. B2 begins reaching into the stroller and methodically hurling things out of the cart. We're like "No!" but it doesn't deter him. He keeps grabbing things and hurling them. I grab an eight-pack of my beloved Chinotto Italian crank soda (in that the stuff is so addictive!) and the damned thing's paperboard yoke bursts, raining the cute little bottles throughout our cart. Thankfully, none of the little fuckers break. Spousette says "Those boxes ALWAYS do that, I swear." Meantime, I'm trying to keep B2 from getting at them -- so far, everything Lil' Antichristo has been hurling has been soft and/or shatterproof. The last thing I need is him chucking a glass bottle.

Against all odds, we manage to finish our grocery run, and are settling up, with B2 grabbing at everything, trying to climb out of his stroller, while B1 is fussing about this and that. We get one of those mouthbreather baggers who barely can handle his job, and I help him through it, and we've at last got stuff loaded up and we're ready to go, and we make it to the sidewalk, with B2 returned to his stroller, now.

At this moment, he decides to take his little Crocs and hurl them across the sidewalk, and to try to climb out of his stroller, so Spousette and I descend on him and put the five-point harness on him (since Spousette had only engaged two of the restraints, Lil' Antichristo had slipped free). By now, I'm sweating and stressed out, and other couples with only one kid are smiling, amused at our travails, probably thinking "Thank God our little Eleanor Anne is our only child!"

We make our way home, nerves frayed and frazzled, and then get to our building, and make our way inside our apartment. Then my mom calls for some inane reason, and I'm multi-tasking with unloading the groceries while Spousette's dealing with the boys (B2 wants to dig into the grocery bags, reaches for the eggs, I'm like "Noo, you don't!" and stash'em). I get everything unloaded, then I realize "Where the hell's the milk?"

Spousette's like "No milk? I was busy with the kids. You were with the groceries." And I'm like "I know, I was watching, I don't see it." I give my mom the phone bum's rush, and B2 is busy climbing something, trying to get at a knife. I grab him, hand him to Spousette, tell her "You handle this, and I'll get the milk." (a running joke we have is we call B2 "This" -- I actually started it, like holding him up, saying, "You take this." Now we both do it).

So, I'm heading outside and reviewing the grocery list, and I see no milk purchase on there. I'm like "Huh?" Then I flash back to TI, and I realized that at the precise moment when I'd grabbed the milks, that's when B2 had broken the jar o' jam! I'd never put them in the cart to begin with! I'm like "Ahh, okay. That's how we missed it -- there was nothing there."

Instead of humping back to TI, I just go a half-block up to White Hen, and get myself a fucking Mega Millions ticket (figuring we need some good luck, are definitely overdue, and could really use $60 million), and I get our two gallons of milk (2% and whole). I'm pleased that we didn't actually forget the milk, and get home, hearing B2 screaming angrily from down the hallway, and I'm like "Oh, that ain't good."

I open the door, and the door bumps into this table/lamp thing we had in the kids' room. "Throw that damned thing out," Spousette says. "What's wrong with it?" I ask. "B2 tried to climb it, and the whole thing fell over, knocking everything down in their room, and making [B1] upset because it broke the light bulb." I'm like, "Okay." and I cart the thing to the trash room, and on returning, I explain the milk shakeup, how it all worked out.

Then we get the boys to bed, no questions asked, and by 8:01 p.m. CST, the little stinkers are tucked in and in bed, and Spousette and I are like "Whhhhhewwww." It was pure chaos in Casa Del Daibh tonight, poppets. I told Spousette as we were heading home, "I'm totally blogging this, although I doubt I'll be able to capture the craziness of the moment." She laughed, agreed.

"Why do people have kids?" I asked her rhetorically. "For the joy," she said, laughing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Test your morals...

This is pretty interesting, a survey of morality. This is tied to "The Happiness Hypothesis" (which was talked about in the NYT).

I only took the first survey, which had me way more oriented toward avoidance of harm of others than liberals and conservatives, way more on fairness than either, far less on authority than either (big shock, eh, HG), more on loyalty than liberals (but less than conservatives), and roughly a tie on "purity" with liberals and far lower than conservatives.

I'm going to take the other surveys later. No doubt my moral underpinnings are why I find the situation at Bizarroworld so intolerable (given that it's the most corrupt place I've ever worked).

Monday, September 17, 2007

Wankmaster's return

In honor of the imminent return of Wankmaster...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Luau

Poor Spousette and B1 have colds. So far, B2 and I are spared. I'm in a better mood today than I've been in a number of days, mostly because I wrote 1500 words of fiction yesterday; I hadn't written f*ck since visiting my folks. Writing always makes me feel better, like I'm getting something done. Never mind that it's a rewrite; it's still writing.

Today's busy, but not as insanely busy as yesterday. It's also very quiet. Maybe a little TOO quiet...hmmm.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fucking Cute

I got a haircut last night, and a coworker this morning said it was cute. I thanked her politely, but wondered: two words have followed me forever: "cute" and "spunky."

Cute: 2. Attractive or pretty in a childish, youthful, or delicate way.
Spunky: full of spunk: spirited.

Seriously. A great number of coworkers (females and gay guys) over the years have used "cute" to describe me; I'd been called that in high school, too. I don't know if I'm like this giant baby-faced fella, or what, exactly -- what's cute about me? I'm 6'3" and (currently) 270 lbs. Is that cute?

Cute is like a baby, a stuffed animal, something little and irresistible. Spousette always calls me cute, has done so since forever. She jokes that my totem isn't really Dog -- rather, it's Puppy. Her sister has said that when I'm sad, I look like a kicked puppy. Maybe that's why middle-aged women always seem to like me.

Cute. I'm fucking cute? What about handsome, howsabout? There must be something eternally boyish about me or something, maybe in my mischievous personality, or a gleam in my eye, or my smirk, or my sometimes shyness, or something. That's probably tied to it.

What does a 37-year-old guy do with "cute?" It's odd, because when I was younger, people would usually guess that I was about 5 years older than I actually was (which helped when buying beer when underaged, and with dating slightly older girls) -- some combination of being a big guy and perhaps brooding and/or serious at times. I dunno. But while that would happen, the "cute" would stay with me, regardless. I think in my 30s I finally caught up with my actual age, in terms of how I looked, but "the cute" is still there.

I mean, it's way better to be "cute" than creepy -- that's for sure. But looking at my face, it's very European, with harsh lines -- big nose, strong jaw, cleft chin, furrowed brow. It's not a fucking baby face, is it? I dunno. Maybe it's because I have good skin, and always have -- like I'm older, but I'm not all craggy the way some guys get. Maybe that's part of the babyface thing. Oh, well.

Since I always wonder about trying acting (goal one is weight loss; goal two is acting classes; goal three is being a successful writer so I don't have to become an actor), I wonder about perceptions, what I could pass for as a character, and that cute thing kind of stays with me, like a ghost. Old, but cute? Hmph. What's next, bowties and straw hats? "What a cute old man! He's so dapper!"

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Who'll stop the rain?

Damnable rain caught me, soaked me. And then, from Navy Pier to Oak Street Beach, 20+ mph headwinds brought me almost to a halt, forcing me to soldier on at a heart attack-inducing pace (fortunately, I have a strong heart), while Johnny Knoxville Junior (hipster guy with silver aviators, Plebe-plaid shirt, jeans) pedaled nearby, dismayed that I'd passed him, then passing me again as I fixed a slipped bike chain. Then I passed him again, then he passed me again, standing on his bike pedals to get that extra leverage he needed to make headway in the unrelenting wind tunnel. Tough ride, yesterday. If I hadn't been biking all summer, I'd not have been able to do that one. Nasty stuff. I don't remember seeing anything about rain in the weather report.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Glass-lined stomach

Sigh. Well, yesterday wasn't so great, after all. First off, I just did a hit-and-run with Herr Direktor, scoped him out amid the sycophant parade, saw plenty of unfamiliar faces and the general dissolution of our group, and got out of there.

Then, the would-be beer lunch was kind of sabotaged b/c the place we were going to didn't open until 4:00, and our backup place didn't serve beer or wine (even though it said they did), so we got soft drinks and laughed about that. It was odd, hanging out with Cookie, Crabcakes, and Miss Manners -- they're really not my type of folks, so I was mostly subdued with them. They're nice enough folks, but they're not my peeps, you know? I'm the oldest of them (I think Crabcakes just turned 30, and Cookie and Manners are in their mid-to-late 20s), so we occupy different worlds. And, weirdly, I think Cookie and Crabcakes aren't terribly sharp -- I could really sense that. They're nice enough, but not sharp. After spending years wrangling with assorted sharp folks, hanging out with these others was kind of jarring. Like I couldn't really apply my trademark wit without feeling like it would be out of place, so I kept mum. Crabcakes was miffed that she couldn't get any beer -- nothing a Hobbit dislikes more than being deprived of ale, right?

Luckily, 3-D was out while I was out, so I got back undetected (despite the long lunch), and then worked quickly and banged out a bunch of work. I talked Leona into joining the Lunch Bunchers for the postwork outing, but around 3:30 I was beginning to feel nauseous, and was like "Uh oh." I nearly puked in the workplace restroom, and then managed the bus ride to our destination, fighting nausea along the way. I didn't want to skip out on the gathering, though I was feeling like hell. I had one (1) beer and that was it; hung out with Homegrrl and Leona in the rain, then met up with Shallot and Plebe, who arrived later. All in all, I hung out for about two hours (since Leona and I got there at 4:30), and left in between bouts of nausea -- which was either a reaction to some sushi the night before, or else an ulcer-related reaction to possible stealth roasted red pepper in the sauce of what I'd had for lunch; either was possible. Either way, it was really annoying; I wanted to hang out, but the tummy failed me, as ever. Strong man, strong heart, weak stomach and bad lungs; no fair!!

Leaving was the best thing to do for me, under the circumstances; it was nice to see everybody, regardless. I didn't eat any dinner when I got home, just had water. Guess I should just eat rice cakes for a few years or something. Sheesh.

When I got home, Spousette told me that B1 was grousing about me being gone, saying that he didn't want me to have any buddies, and that my buddies should all just go home! That's so him, it cracked me up. We were talking up Halloween costumes for the boys, and said B2 would be a great little clown (!!) because he's got that outward-curling Bozo hair, and would look cute. B1 said he'd never be a clown because that was too silly! He wanted to be an airplane (?!) but we talked him into being a building, and thought we'd make him the Hancock Building, which I think he'd like (esp. because we'll put in a row of glowsticks at one spot of the costume, the way the Hancock Building does with its lights during holidays).

Today was B2's first day sitting on his practice potty. He likes to put his foot in the little cup, although we did get him to sit down on it and praised him when he did so, although of course, he doesn't really know what it's for, yet. He got up and went to his highchair and then peed on the floor. We didn't freak out or anything, just walked him back to the potty and told him that was where the pee-pee went. The long dance begins.

Today is B1's first day of soccer (around 1:00); we've got his cute shorts, his little cleats and shorts, his knee socks and shin protectors, and his special ball (I found him an iridescent blue one that looks like Uranus, his favorite planet). So, it's sunglasses and sunblock and soccer today; I think B1 will love it. His "season" is nine weeks long. He'll get a uniform and all of that. He's got the perfect big feet for soccer, and loves to run, so it should be his kind of game, versus T-ball, which was too static, bored him.

Nothing else fancy planned this weekend; I'm finishing "The Terror" and then will try to rekindle the sparks of the fictiong I've worked on (dying embers, more like). Oh, and I sent out some resum├ęs this morning.

The lead singer of this band looks so much like Baron Von Halfday... (though the song is cooler than he deserves)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Tomorrow is only a day away

Tomorrow's gonna be a crazy day, Poppets.

First, we get to meet Herr Direktor in the morning, and we're encouraged to show up (no doubt to create the illusion that we're not a Potemkin Department -- they should've given us cardboard cutouts of people to bring to fill out the ranks -- hell, some of those cutouts would be better editors than some of my coworkers).

Then, around 12:30 I'm going to a bar near Bizarroworld with Cookie, Crabcakes, and Miss Manners -- the first two wanted to snag a beer to herald the end of summer, so I was like "Awrighty!" We'll see what kind of scoopage, if any, I can get from C&C. Always good to know Production folks.

And THEN, around 5:00 and 5:30, the Lunch Bunch (or most of it, members-in-good-standing) will be gathering at another bar/restaurant for some socializing. It should be Homegrrl, Shallot, the Plebe, and me -- possibility that Leona may turn up for a drink-and-run, but we'll see if she does.

Anyway, it's going to be a busy day. And Wankmaster is turning up around 10:30 for a meeting with Leona and Cherry and others -- that SOB (haha) better not show up at the 12:30 outing, but I figure he won't. If he does, I'll be like "Hey, Shitmonkey. I knew you'd be back."

Daddy's gonna be one busy fella tomorrow -- that's way more social than I usually am in one day, Heaven help me.

Right on, Target!

B1 has his first soccer match this Saturday (are we fully yuppified, yet?) So Spousette and I had to take the boys out, find B1 his soccer gear. We went to Target in the rain; I wasn't optimistic about getting what we needed (cleated shoes, shinguards, socks, the right sized soccer ball) but they had it all -- woo hoo! I think he'll really enjoy soccer.

Spousette has had some interesting talks with various other school moms (and their nannies -- yes, we're up to our frickin' armpits with nannies where we live). She said the moms are always going on about their house this and their house that (in Chicago), and about their nannies, and estates in Tuscany, and all of that jazz. Today Spousette had an interesting talk with a young nanny who was watching twins -- the nanny groused about the parents, the 40-something mom who barely spends time with her 2.5-year-old twins, and how they're utterly lax with the kids, that she handles everything, how they still sleep in cribs (even though they're too old, and can climb out), and aren't potty-trained, and so on.

I told Spousette she's got a goldmine of material with these encounters with these moms and their help (many of the moms are full-time at-home moms, and they STILL have nannies!!) Spousette agreed, said she was just storing it all in her head.

The other day at a playground in our 'hood, this Mommy Mafia appeared with their kids ("Charles!" "Henry!" "Anastasia!" and so on) and started talking various Upper Middle Class things, and kind of roped Spousette into it, since she was a mom, too -- I was the only dad there, watching the boys, and the moms clustered and clucked, and I was thinking "Christ, where the hell are the dads?" Finally a few of them turned up, but most of these folks were all 40-somethings, older than we were. Where are the Gen X parents in our neighborhood? I know they're out there, but it seems we don't see them at the playgrounds too often. I can see it now...

"Paige, do you want to take Kelleigh to the playground?"
"Whatever."
"I'm going to watch Knight Rider, instead."
(shoulder shrug)
(Kelleigh toddles around the room, looks at her slacker parents)
"Yeah, real cool, Mitch. That's a kids' show, you know."
"I'm watching it ironically, Paige."

and so on.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Prescient

Who knew when the Subhumans (BC) sang "Firing Squad" in 1980, how prescient they'd be. I fear that's in our future, especially if the Right in this country keeps going at the rate it's going. Unfortunately, I can't find any video for the song, which is a good one...

I had a Firing Squad Dream
I saw it so clearly
I saw their head that people scream
I saw it so clearly
I saw the holy man
blood on his holy hands
I saw their justice of god


Police and priests and profits all in one
the new order soldiers taking in unholy orders
people bowing at the call
rebel standing at the wall
it's called their justice of god


I saw their justice
I saw the word of god
I saw their mercy it was the firing squad


Innocent and guilty behind bars
lock em together madness and confusion
of this time could last forever
the minister of execution calls for a retribution
calls for the justice of god
Crowds of disciples running wild under control
while desperate people hide inside
wait to explode another week another year
who knows who will feel the fear
who'll feel the justice of god


I saw their justice
I saw the word of god
I saw their mercy
it was the Firing Squad


I saw their justice
I saw their word of god
I saw their mercy
it was the Firing Squad


It was the Firing Squad

It was the Firing Squad

It was the Firing Squad

Clown Kick...

Guess I'm thinking about clownish things because Autumn's approaching, and it makes me think of Halloween, and spooky things, and clowns creep me out.

Classic...



That's such a great bit!

And this, man, oh man.

What, me worry?

Another day. The ride home last night was amusing; I wore myself out trying to keep up with a biker who'd passed me. I'm amazed at how mundane folks (versus superbikers -- I expect the superbikers to do so) can pass me, even when I'm in a high gear, like 20th gear, cruising steadily. Anyway, if somebody like that passes me, I use them as my pace bike, try to keep up with them. It's a very Aries thing to do, I'm sure, all competitive and what-not. They don't realize I'm pacing them because they're able to keep a distance from me, usually widening the distance until they're out of eyeshot. It's amazing to me that I can't beat them. Again, pure Aries, that -- like "Me? Beaten?? Impossible!" Hahah!

I "won" yesterday -- my pace biker passed me at 53rd Street and I eventually retook the lead at Shedd Aquarium (so you can get a sense of how long it took to pass them; I only managed it because they'd paused at McCormick Place to get a drink, and I'd been able to close the distance -- I'd actually given up being able to catch them yesterday, grumbled "You beat me." under my breath, only to get that second chance when they'd paused -- even then, it took me the distance from McCormick to Shedd to finally pass them, even with the closed distance).

It's true, though -- I work best if I have somebody to contend with; like I'd never go jogging by myself -- but if I were racing somebody, I'd try like hell to beat them. I'm a competitive cuss, my lovelies. My bike pacers never realize I'm racing them, mainly because they've left me in the dust.

But yesterday's "race" left me pretty tired; I was down for a couple of hours, not like flat on my back, but just bone-tired. It's tough to be 37. What a stupid age. I first noticed getting tired when I was 33, when we owned our house, and I'd spend a weekend mowing the @#$% monster lawn we had, and I'd be measurably tired afterward. That was a new feeling for me, he of the boundless energy.

I worry about that, some; I've written about this before, but a key component of who I am (beyond love, humor, enthusiasm, sarcasm, irony, and angst) is energy -- I'm a tireless bundle of energy. But as I get older, that energy is less forthcoming, and I worry about that. Take away the energy, and a key component of who I am is kinda gone.

Certainly I've been exercising harder this summer than I have in years, and it's helped (I guess), but the aches and pains sneak in there, and the need for down time creeps in. And this is just at 37! I can't imagine 47! 57! And so on. Learning that stuff first creeps in at your 30s was a real kicker. For some reason I figured the 20s and 30s would be mostly the same, but they're not. It's when baseball players start to fall apart, and now I find myself understanding that, realizing "Ah, yes. That's how it is."

I've decided not to bike every day; weather permitting, I'll likely do it three or four days a week. I find that taking a day off helps me exercise better, whereas if I do five days a week, I feel a little ground down. That said, I'm biking again today, because it's going to be a good weather day.

Blah blah blah-blah blah! <-- my impression of this entry

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Debt Man Walking

Music: The Sky Drops, "Million"

I'm still dreadfully depressed today; I was down last night, telling Spousette before I went to sleep, "I'm afraid for our future." And for once, it wasn't just general angst, like world-oblivion or the like; rather, it was my ability to support our family on my income, and being able to finance Spousette's education. We're seriously banking on her being able to get herself a good-paying career, and even if that gamble pays off, it won't be until our early 40s, and even then, it'll probably not be until our mid-40s before that gamble really works for our benefit. Meantime, it's white knuckles and grinding teeth, and me trying to find something that'll pay enough to fund that gamble, while also trying to write and be a good dad. One out of three's not bad, I guess. I've never felt more under the gun than I have now (except perhaps when we owned our own house, and I was busy trying to make that all work -- but I think my ability to write reams during that commute offset some of the angst associated with working at Bizarroworld). It's tough to convey the damage I feel in my heart. Lately my writing's suffered; I despair of ever getting anything of value done.

Anyway, guh. Despair is gnawing at my fingers and toes like frostbite. I'm losing my optimism and spitefully combative resolve before a war of economic attrition being waged against me and my family. Of course, Spousette could go back to work, but that would mean slinging B2 off to day care, which we'd rather not do.

People talk about not sweating money, saying that it comes and goes; but that statement implies that it comes and goes in equal measure -- all I've known my life is money going, not so much coming. And that's while living frugally, being prudent -- fact is, I've never had the luxury of being able to splurge on anything. I'm so hunkered-down these days (and that counts the '90s), that if you gave me $1,000, I'd be tallying how much groceries I could get with that, or would think "well, that'll help with rent." I'm under siege, and it's impacting me psychologically, wearing me down.

I truly don't know what I'm going to do, where I'm going to go, or how I'll manage to fake giving a damn through my next job, and what directly the hell I'll do, whether my generally affable nature will survive Bizarroworld. I feel like it's been eroded away.

For my boys, I want the best; and yet, in our affluent neighborhood, it's so clear to me that we're the riff-raff. Where I live, being middle class IS being the riff-raff, for real. How do all those people make all of that money? Are they smarter than me? Luckier? Better connected? I don't know. I'm just not good at making money, I guess. I told Spousette yesterday that I'm not consumed with things -- to me, time is infinitely more precious than any thing. If I were rich, to me what would be most vital would be the reclamation of finite time, my life. That's all I want. Not stuff; just time. And each paycheck is theft of time from me, poorly compensated with wages. Grrrr. It makes me angry to think about.

My folks did well for themselves at a given point in their lives, but whatever class advantage they enjoyed will die with them. Both my stepsisters married comparatively well; I'm easily the poorest member of my family. I'll be poorer than my nieces and nephews, judging at the rate I'm going, and that doesn't bode well for my boys -- unless I'm able to change things for the better for our family, markedly so, then my boys will have to work extra-hard to survive in this ever-crueler world.

I feel like I've let them down, and they don't even know it, yet. They love me, I'm a good dad, and I hope that helps them handle the damage that'll come their way through life; I just wish I could give them more advantages than I currently can, since those fucking advantages seem to matter so much to so many, and it'll impact them. They're smart, they're cute, and they're loved -- I hope that's enough for them to thrive, because they're definitely not rich kids. Not with me for a dad. Sorry, guys.

Boys Don't Cry

This morning B1 goes to kindergarten, his first day of "big boy school." He's not looking forward to it, but that's always the case with transitions. I think once he gets used to the routine, he'll be golden. It's half-day kindergarten, which will be good, I think. I'm curious how it'll go.

Nothing else to report at the moment; the weekend blazed by, as I knew it would. I got nothing substantive done (except reading around 300 pages of The Terror). Now I'm back on the job, in a Skippyless office, wondering how long until Leona finally and irrevocably snaps.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Labored Daze

Out of one of our living room windows I see Venus, and a smoggy sunrise. All is quiet at the moment, although B2 is soon to wake up in earnest; he's gnawing on his blankie and baby-cooing.

I've been reading The Terror by Dan Simmons, and enjoying it (although also kind of analyzing it, what I think he's doing right and wrong with it, with a mind to my own work; then again, he's got like 20 novels under his belt, including some NYT bestsellers, and me, I got nothing, yet! Still, I think his editors could've helped him a little bit here and there, but they probably handled him with kid gloves).

Nothing fancy planned this weekend; for me, in my heavily-scheduled workaday existence, not having anything planned is a demigodsend.

My big accomplishment of last week was inventing a new word...

Smarmalade: unctuous, greasy charm; sleazy, pretentious fakeness.

I'm kinda proud of that one. I added it to the Urban Dictionary, which is what I do with any new words I create.

I had to get Daddy-crafty y-day with B1; we went out to eat, and B1 refused to eat anything in front of him (it was French toast). So after trying to get him to eat for awhile, and failing, I said "You know, Santa's watching, and if you don't try any of that, he's going to put you on his red list." B1's like "Red list?" and I said "Yep, for 'Naughty.' And that means you won't get anything but a rock for Christmas." and he's like "But I don't WANT a rock!" and I said "If you try that French toast, you'll be put on his green list."

I figured I'd appeal to his Capricorn greed and acquisitiveness, instead of fighting his stubbornness. And it worked; he choked down a few bites of French toast (we knew he'd not eat the whole thing, but we just wanted him to try it, since it was a new food for him), and his attituded changed from resentful opposition to us to excitement about the prospect of being in good with Santa.

When we got home, we made a green list, where we'll put a single toy item he wants for Christmas, which is contingent on him trying new foods -- if he tries another new food, another desired item gets on the list; if he doesn't try it, it doesn't get on the green list.

I know parents aren't supposed to bribe their kids that way, but I thought of it more like extortion, bringing the mighty Santa in as hired muscle to get the kid to play ball. Lord knows it won't be long before he doesn't believe in Santa, so I've got to do what I can, while I can!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

All is frustration

I'm utterly alone on the job. No allies, no friends in-house. Short-term, I'm making way more money than I was, them throwing it at me to keep my fingers in the dam. But I can go a whole day without talking to anybody, now. For an extrovert like me, that's soul-hurting. Sigh.

I teased Leona this morning, asking her if she'll go work at Skippy's new place, once he's ensconced there. She gave one of her usual guarded nonresponses; I could see her doing it, frankly. If she ended up there, I'd be unsurprised, just like if she and Skippy ever married (haha, but you know), I'd also be unsurprised.

There's just me, myself, and I. I'm the only one I trust here, now, in-house. That's not a pleasant place to be. I miss my buddies, my friends and allies, people I could rely on. Now it's just nutjobs, nancies, neurotics, and nabobs of negativity. No!!

I need something to cheer me up...



Ahhh, that's better. Barely.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Kate Jackson

Not THAT Kate Jackson, but the singer of The Long Blondes. She reminds me of all of my eternal crushes on musician chicks. And I'm always a sucker for a New Wave girl; everybody knows that punk boys always liked the New Wave girls, because they always looked better...



Not that the Long Blondes are New Wave, but that look of hers in that picture rocks! And I like the guitar babe in the background, too, despite all those pedals she's using. Just so long as one of them is a flanger pedal.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A picture's worth...


I've always been haunted by this statue from WWII Stalingrad. What does it mean? I'd love to know the story behind it.

Yes...

I'm pleased that a few others agreed with my general dislike of LMS (bolded, below); this is from Wikipedia; I love the line about the bamboo under the fingernails...

Reviews
The film has a "92% fresh" rating from critics and 96% fresh from users at Rotten Tomatoes.[10]

Michael Medved gave Little Miss Sunshine four stars (out of four) saying that "…this startling and irresistible dark comedy counts as one of the very best films of the year…" and that directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the movie itself, and actors Alan Arkin, Abigail Breslin and Steve Carell deserve Oscar nominations.[11]

Joel Siegel gave Little Miss Sunshine a rarely-awarded 'A' rating, saying that "Orson Welles would have to come back to life for this not to make my year-end Top 10 list."[12] Breslin's depiction of Olive Hoover has also moved many critics, with USA Today's Claudia Puig saying "If Olive had been played by any other little girl, she would not have affected us as mightily as it did." [13]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C rating, calling the characters "walking, talking catalogs of screenwriter index-card data."[14] Jim Ridley of The Village Voice called the movie a "rickety vehicle that travels mostly downhill" and a "Sundance clunker."[15] Anna Nimouse of the National Review writes that the "film is praised as a 'feel-good' film; perhaps for moviegoers who like bamboo under their fingernails. If you are miserable, then Little Miss Sunshine is the film for you."[16]

On the December 22, 2006 edition of The Tonight Show, Dustin Hoffman, who was on the show along with Abigail Breslin, said, "It's[specify] one of the best performances that I have seen in my entire life."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine of a bitch

I'm still not talking about California, yet. Sorry!

But I had to mention that I saw Little Miss Sunshine over the week off, among other movies (The Wedding Crashers, Borat, and a couple of others I've already forgotten). I had a very Elaine-watching-English-Patient moment with Little Miss Sunshine (LMS). I hated that fucking movie. Wow, I don't even know where to begin with it. It's like a big dungheap of contrivances passing for funny, and empty windbagging passing for meaning. Overrated! Overrated! J'accuse!

There's some general thematic thread about winners and losers that runs through it, but the pat ending kind of cheapens that, I guess. But the setup for it, lordy -- like anybody would even want their daughter to try out for a beauty pageant at all, let alone a little chubby, cherubic girl like Olive Hoover was. C'mon. But they go with it because otherwise there's no movie there. Grandpa snorts heroin -- why? I guess so he can OD on it later and end up carried out of the hospital to make the trip with them (hey, National Lampoon's Vacation did it better -- the minute Grandpa turned up in the story, I was like "Oh, I bet he'll die en route and they'll have to transport him. Wow.) Why is Steve Carrell's (sic) character a gay suicide survivor? How does that actually serve the plot in any way, shape, or form? In no way, except for him to whine about being the world's foremost Proust scholar (overlooked by the guy who stole his man from him, but that's incidental to being passed over for a MacArthur Fellowship gained by his rival). Why is the freak Nietzsche-reading misfit deliberately mute in his quest for the Air Force Academy? Just something quirky for him to do, which is cast aside when, quite by accident, he discovers he's colorblind. Meh. Greg Kinnear's character is asshole du jour, another failure (reminded me a lot of my stepdad, actually -- even how he dressed), but that's not really very relevant -- I mean, he has an epiphany that a girlie beauty pageant's not good for his kid? No shit, Sherlock. And the mom realizes it, too, I guess -- she's mostly a cipher, filling in the Shelley Duvall (sic) role, I guess. And why does the bus crap out near the beginning -- oh, because it's a quirky thing to happen, gives the characters something to do.

The actors did well with the parts, and the girl playing Olive was cute as a button, in her geeky way, but Arkin was given a freebie for his teensy, largely pointless role in that movie -- I mean, he won an Oscar for that, didn't it? Didn't that movie with a bunch of Oscars?

Sure, the family comes together at the end, but it's all so much tinsel masquerading as gold. I know like 90% of the country/world loves this movie, but I was shocked by how much I didn't like it. I was searching for explanations, like trying to see what else the writer and directors did -- turns out, not much (they've directed music videos, the writer wrote a couple other things, but not much). And it showed. Spousette didn't like it much, either, although she was gentler with it than I was. I guess I write too much to cut a writer any slack in a story. But I'm very glad I only saw it on DVD, didn't pay cash-money for it.

For those who love it, what do they love about it? What are the lessons in it? I want to look it up on Wikipedia, see what people say about it. I remember deriding Donnie Darko as a "deep movie for shallow people." LMS had that kind of quality to it, like awkwardness pretending to be funny, and emptiness for depth.

The Wedding Crashers was somewhat more amusing, although it was surprisingly thinly written. I want my comedies served up with thick slabs of Funny, and while TWC had some bits that I liked (including Rachel McAdams -- drool), but overall it was pretty weak, went on a trifle too long -- but it still managed, in its own slobbery way, more depth than smirking LMS clearly thought it had.

And that's my piss-and-vinegar film review for today!