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!