Monday, September 8, 2008

Message to my New Readers from the Blink 182 Forums Pages

Welcome! I won't be mad if you refer all your friends here.
Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thirteen Things You Can Do With Google CHROME GOOGLE CHROME

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In My Defense, I Did Conquer Tzichlitan With my Ninja Tanks. . .

A lot of people think video games are the latest agent of our progeny's demise and I am one of them. I can't think of a more ridiculous and possibly sinister leading indicator of imminent doom than kids who won't clean their room or feed their dog but never forget to flush the toilet or feed their goldfish on Sims. It scares the bejesus out of me and I strive to threaten my children with uninterrupted painful flogging if they spend more than 18 minutes a day playing video games.

I've also made some disparaging comments about some of the retired people I know who spend hours and hours playing video games. Bingo and solitary have been usurped by Zelda and online solitary.

To all of this I have thrown up my hands and shaken a sage and surly finger at all involved, saying they are squandering the precious few moments they have here on this little ball of dirt. Which makes me a pathetic a sad old hypocrite.

At about 1:30 in the afternoon this Saturday, I started playing a game. I just wanted to see what it was like. I'd seen the Roon slackjawed and dazed, playing this game for three hours at a stretch, which is pretty good even for him, and I wondered what was so compelling.

The game is called Civilizations/Revolution. The graphics are average. The length of gameplay is only a couple of hours. There are no car incendiary crashes or crimson head-shots. In the game, you choose to start a civilization, say the Roman Empire, from scratch and endeavor to take them from caveman to Cosmonaut ahead of all the other empires in the game. It. Is. Awesome.

I started just after lunch and a few minutes later, [My Attorney] called and asked what I fed the boys.

"Hot dogs."
"For dinner?"
"Dinner? No I just gave them hot dogs just now."
"Do you have any idea what time it is?"
"What? Uh, three?"
"It's eleven o'clock."

I had been playing this game for ten hours. TEN HOURS. I don't do anything for ten hours. I don't even sleep for ten hours. I looked around at my house, empty and dark, the dog crouched by the door with his legs crossed, the boys passed out on the couch under a protective blanket of spent Cheetos bags. I realized I was dehydrated, I was starving, and I'd been holding it for something like three hours straight because, dude, I needed to get the people of Pima to build one more Galleon so I could make a fleet and sink the new ships from Bismark, my enemy to the north.

I have never been so into a game in my life. Again, you have to understand, the graphics are sub par. But the manipulation of a tiny universe is brilliant! And it affects your world view. We started watching a movie which showed the 18th century workers of a dying factory and I instantly realised that if only there were more of them, that country could upgrade to the industrial era so, hey, it teaches history.

Late the next day the family wanted again to watch a movie and I was playing the game, my world dominating Egyptian empire having just discovered the Internet and on the brink of colonizing Alpha Centauri when the family G politely asked me to turn. Off. The. Game. I reacted ungraciously (I'm being diplomatic here) and my son started laughing. "Geeze, dad, you're acting just like me. You're addicted, dude!"

I'm so scared. I have two simultaneous deadlines, a huge complictaed ceremony, Bad Movie Night, and god knows what else due in the next two weeks but I am terrified that what's gonna happen is [My Attorney] is going to come home and find the kids emaciated and me surrounded by a nest of laundry and cold pizza looking like Uncle Fester and mumbling to myself: "I gotta research steam power. I got to build more legions. I got to get a submarine . . ."

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Message to my new readers from [the nest] and Expressive Parents

Howdy and welcome! In case you're wondering, the title of my blog, "Death By Children," refers to the fact that parenting is killing me and my kids are in on it. Proactively.

I won't in the least bit be offended if you email every single person in your contacts list and demand that they subscribe to Death By Children instantly. They really should show the same kind of class and good taste you have displayed in choosing to subscribe to my humble scribblage.

Explore the morgue! Click on the "more . . ." links under the Exhumed heading there on the left. Enjoy!

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Name is [NAME]; I'll Be Your Lunchroom Mom Today

Today was my first day as lunchroom mom for my son's 6th grade class. I am proud to say that I managed to secretly flip him off seven times without detection and he got me twice.

I was up past the witching hour last night writing so I was groggy as all get out this morning and showed up late with Monkey Boy's half-assed bag lunch, wearing a Cabela's hat, and one day's beard which on lesser men looks a lot like a nine day beard.

I was all about the irony of being a lunchroom mom and swore I'd wear a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off and "LUNCH ROOM MOM" written across the back with a sharpie but I manned out and forgot. I wasn't even funny. I didn't speak. I stood near the door like a disgruntled janitor waiting for some kick to cack on the floor. I'm sure some kid asked Monkey, "Dude, is your dad retarded?"

By the time the end of lunch had rolled around, they were stacking desks and had one kid duct taped to the ceiling. The class geek was using the teacher's laptop to hack into the grading queue. Some other kid was making prank phone calls to the class next door. Someone was hung out the window by their ankles. Mayhem. Depravity. I think. Maybe. I don't know. I know that I wasn't counting all the kids leaving for the head and when the teacher showed up I finally shook off my fugue, looked up, and realized half the class was missing.

"Where's my class?"
"All of them?"
"Uh . . . . maybe I should count next time?"

At the sound of her voice the building tipped sideways and the bathrooms spilled children into the hallways, all of which walked past me as if I were some kind of exhibit.

I believe I have mentioned the malicious nature of children. You can't give them an inch, not a millimeter. Today one of the girls walked up to me carrying a bag of skittles and asked if she could go to another class to give it to someone. Dazed, barely awake, I looked at her for a split second then, mustering all the wisdom 8 minutes of sleep can provide, I asked her: "Are you allowed?" then watched the subtle contraction of her irises as she calculated, rechecked, and filed away the precise level of gullibility I had just exhibited and responded "Yes. Yes I am." then disappeared. Unable to properly focus my narcotic gaze as she left my field of vision, I noticed the girl in the desk in front of me, blocked by the Calculatora's head just a moment prior, was staring at me with hr mouth open.

I will never recover. I know how it works. If my daughter's school is Super Hero High, the Monkey's school is Hogwarts for The Holy and every kid in there is a certified genetic malaprop destined to be aggressively wealthy IP lawyers and moguls of various species and already, in sixth grade, I have shown weakness in front of them. They've got my number. I am doomed.

I can see already my lunchroom mom excursions will become increasingly militant as a cold war simmers between me and the students, with them imagining ever more complex and improbable permissions and goading each other to ask me if they can engage them. I'm tempted to just say "No," to every request. But, as I type this, I can feel the ropey sluice of my morning coffee finally jolting my brainpan and I realize that the best tactic for me is not to deny them anything at all, but to allow everything they request. These are honor students we're dealing with here. If I say "Are you normally allowed to superglue the bunsen burner on?" and they say yes, it's them that's gonna git the divil, not I.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Vote for My Son For President!


Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

13 Bad Headlines for NASA's Admission to Sex Training For Mars Mission

A NASA adviser recently battled the president of Virgin Atlantic for the title of "most purposefully misquoted official" after they discussed how co-ed Mars Mission astronauts---stuck together in tight quarters for three years--- might, um, think about, um . . . probing. Read the whole story here.

  1. Astronauts Train For Bumpy Ride!
  2. The Eagle Has Landed! (um, that's not my Eagle . . .)
  3. NASA Talks to VIRGIN About SEX!
  4. Asked to Extend Boom, Astronauts Giggle Uncontrollably.
  5. Virgin Atlantic Adds "NOT!" to Logo!
  6. Probes No Longer Limited to Aliens!
  7. Uranus Begs for Name Change!
  8. Cigar Shaped Object Not Cigar!
  9. Howard Stern Heads New Apollo Mission!
  10. Mile High Club Extended by 100 Miles.
  11. Cape Canaveral Worker Fired for T-Shirt: "I Got Yer Right Stuff Hangin!"
  12. NASA Relocates to Miami Beach, Opens Club.
  13. New Space Suits Designed by Trojan.
Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Death By Children's All Inclusive Back to School Sale and End of Summer Halo 3 Body Count

I'm bleary eyed and woggly because it's the last week before school and my kids are attempting to induce sleep deprivation psychosis because, apparently, there's some kind of unspoken contest to see who's groggiest on the first day of school.

The young hommes d'G has been on a three day killing spree on Halo 3, Army of 2, and Call of Duty and is going to walk away from summer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a pack of Lucky's rolled up in his shirt sleeve.

The girl child remains obsessed with her monosyllabic post-midnight-calling flop-haired paramour to the exclusion of everything else including sunlight and food. She has to annotate Into the Wild, the hippy bush death manifesto, by Tuesday and I'm relentless and cruel in my efforts to keep her focussed.

The niece is about to finally abandon us for Portland, Hippy Mecca, the Haight Ashbury of the 21st century, leaving me defenseless and alone before the drooling horde of drowsy, unwashed, wrinkled, laze narcotized, couch dwelling summertards my children have become.

I have had to go downstairs every night and threaten my hideous spawn with torture and maiming to get them into bed using what I believe is the sane argument of pointing to the clock where it is plainly after 2 am, well past the allowable period of microwaving popcorn, playing Halo, and watching the "Mysterious Ticking Noise"YouTube video three hundred and seventy four times without headphones.

It would be one thing if I came downstairs to find them studying Latin or using a ouija board or engaging the ring valve on the flux capacitor or something useful, something that shows their mind is vibrant and spinning in its gambols but no, I come down and they are pasted into the back of the couch, eyes wide and glazed, face bathed in a gray light from the computer, from the TV, from the video game, mouth partially open, like grandma after three days at the slots.

And I'm not much better. I usually reserve the summer for drooling and watching tv and then maybe drooling but I put a bid on a fun job and I won so I've been working all the time and not paying attention unless I smell fire or hear sirens. I walked into the living room today and realized the boy child hadn't bathed in . . . well, I actually can't remember which is bad since he will only take a bath after I'm literally holding his Xbox out the window so I should recall his last ablution. I did notice the dog stopped sleeping with him.

What I'm saying is I can't wait for school to start so I can have my routine back, so I can have a house where the walls don't ring from ordinance and if the phone rings at midnight it means somebody got hit by a truck and breakfast is at 6:30, not 2 o'clock in the afternoon. I want my life back. I want peace and quiet. I want normal again. Thank God for school.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Historical Precedent for my Parenting Methods!

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

I bet we're related!

For everyone who has a story of their kid sticking a fork in th garbage disposal, sticking a slice of bologna into the DVD drive, or getting lock in the running car, I present your one-uppance:

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Why Men Shouldn't Watch Sex in the City with their Teen Daughters, for the love of Christ!

I may have mentioned that [My Attorney] and I are somewhat liberal in our parenting values. I should say we are a weird mix of Catholic conservatism and freak hippy liberalism. I.g., I don't care if my kids cuss but I don't want them cussing in front of my relatives or on Easter Sunday. This also means that while we have raised our little girl
with the care and attention and best education regarding sex we can possibly find and/or afford, and while we realize that we can't raise her to be a sophisticated genius AND a prude, we remain mortified whenever she proves the level of sophistication she has achieved vis-a-vis a clinical understanding the humdrum sex lives of most Americans.

I am regularly distressed by some wry comment or the sound of her laughing to a dirty joke I didn't know she could hear, distressed because she gets it which means she understands it which means AAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGHHH!!!!! It makes my brain shrivel. But this point of view has been coming at us like a glacier on skates since she started rocking her traveling boob display case wardrobe and being beautiful on purpose. Also, my daughter is a measurable and certified genius, gets a 4.0 at Superhero High School, and can, as she displayed at th Rusty Armadillo rooftop Margarita oasis yesterday, explain RNA versus DNA protein transference through cell wall membranes, from memory--IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER. So when [My Attorney] suggested we invite her and her visiting highly sophisticated artist cousin to watch it with us (she's been iTuning it and letting them watch) I didn't think twice. I just took my customary chair, patted my daughter on the head, clicked the remote and AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!

It was porn. I mean, ok, it was porn if you're Mormon. But still, as sophisticated and aloof and urbane as I'd like to blieve I really am, I spent most of the show with my face buried in my hands while [My Attorney] fumbled wildly with the complicated PAUSE ACTUATOR SEQUENCE INITIATION DEVICE and my daughter howled with mirth at our silly bourgeois prudishness--and the face of the guy doing the horizontal mambo over the should of on of the main characters.

But I made it through this important plot device at the very opening of the show and thought "it can't get any worse" until it did and an entire storyline was devoted to one woman being hugely disappointed by her new boyfriends not being, um, huge. The conversation on the screen proceeded through a discourse on the value of a boyfriends', um, added value, that it was over before I could heave a chair through the gas plasma screen and I was left, again, glaring at [My Attorney] who was laughing so hard she could barely breathe, all while my daughter screamed.

This is coming on the heels of our most recent family movie, scheduled at the last minute when the DARK KNIGHT was, again, sold out at our favorite luxurious theater, and we said oh, ok, let's got see wanted, which is a really REALLY good movie for eleven year old boys and 15 year old girls if, a) you really want them to see a guy banging his best friend's girlfriend against the sink during his lunch break while he checks his watch and, b) the kind of high definition entry and exit wounds that would make Sam Pekinpah shoot himself for being such a loser with his paltry slomo dime shot shots.

But the flip side is the best-friend-betrayer and his girlfriend get a non-lethal and wholly justified come uppance in Wanted which (I hop) teaches the leeches that bad manners will get you a swift backhand from former friends and gratuitous sex is stupid.

As for watching SATC with my daughter, you can bet your adze it ain't happening again. I truly don't mind if she watches it with [My Attorney] but I hope to never have to sit through another HBO porn shot in the same room as my burgeoning goth princess.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Too weird for words

Tooling around the internet, I Stumbled on this bizarre series of photographs. I have no idea if it's real or staged or hallucinated but I love it. Salud!

Soviet Space Pig.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Why Men Should Watch Sex and the City

So we're on our way back from New Orleans when [My Attorney] whips out her laptop and asks me if I want to watch Sex in the City.

For a little vacation lagniappe, we used some of our miles to bump into first class thinking it could be a great way to top of the trip. A little bubbly. A little movie. Comfort. First class is status symbolville, rock star level, pole dancer stewardessing luxury. I wanted the optional foot massage and nude kabuki theater. Instead, I got a crabby stewardess who yelled at everyone. The champagne was crap. My seat was broken. There was GRAFITTI on the seatback.

There was no movie. There were no peanuts.

So when my attorney offered to play a rental on her laptop, I jumped at it. So what if it's Sex and the City? None of my friends were there. The seatbacks (covered in gang tags) were pretty high. So I did it.

I know, you guys are throwing your hands in the air asking How Could You, Man!? I was bored. I needed something. So she hits play and the credits come up and I find myself intrigued. The credits are pretty good and I'm surprised that the lead is actually much hotter than I used to think back in the day when SATC was the rage. And I got to give credit where credit is due--the directors really use a lot of slo-mo hair flips which are nothing more than extended gratuitous boob shots. Yay.

So the show starts and I'm all prepped to crack on the crappy writing but instead I'm asking questions and saying dude, (I often refer to My Attorney as Dude--it's unisexual, I swear), that dude's a loser and what's up her crack? And I'm into it, the story is pretty good, pretty well written, and the jokes are funny as hell. I'm realizing that basically this is just a recurring chick flick, like Roman Holiday on endless repeat, and Mr. Big is Cary Grant and all the other chicks are the quintessential American women: the hot slut, the hot professional, the hot girl next door, and the hot brainy lit chick. They're all perfect and exquisite and they have interesting conversations. About sex. For an hour. Now that's pretty cool and tolerable and yes, you will learn something about the mindset of women and yes that will help you understand your [attorney] better.

But that's not why men should watch Sex and the City.

Dude, you should watch Sex and the City because, dude: you get to watch hot naked women have sex--with your [attorney].
I saw more skin in three episodes of SATC than I ever did watching Serena Williams play tennis. It's like the Sopranos only instead of a really satisfying lurid payback assassination, you get one of the women topless.WITH YOUR [ATTORNEY]. 

So get comfy and plop yourself down on the couch and make occasional comments like yeah, that guy's a turd,or wow, she changed her hair. And every time they have one of the xtra-hot main characters revealing their most bankable options, say Oh that's gratuitous. Say it like you mean it.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thursday's 13 Things That New Scout Merit Badges Should Cover

  1. Family Guy Trivia Merit Badge
  2. Talk Like Cartman Merit Badge
  3. Cut Your Finger While Carving Boobs into the Picnic Table Merit Badge
  4. Cry Like a Girl Because You're Scared of a Daddy Long Legs Merit Badge
  5. "This Lake has Awesome Graphics," Merit Badge
  6. "Does Our Tent Have WiFi?" Merit Badge
  7. Sink Your Canoe on Purpose Merit Badge
  8. Kick Your Senior Patrol Leader in the Balls Merit Badge
  9. Drink a 32 Oz. Chocolate/Watermelon/Mocha Shake Then Puke All Night Merit Badge
  10. Hold Your Poop Seven Days Merit Badge
  11. Texas Hold 'Em Merit Badge
  12. Secret Backwoods Private Club Start-Up Merit Badge
  13. Saying "Camp Sucks," So Much It Is Statistically Improbable Championship High Score Merit Badge
Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

13 Things on Thursday That I Already Miss from our Trip to Fat City!

One: Lump crab and alligator cheescake from Jaques Imo's. Holy. Mother. Of. God. This was by far the most bizarre and delicious thing I've ever eaten. Ever. ever.

Two: Sweetbread Appetizer at Bayona's. I saw God. God said You think this is something? Try Jaque's Imos!

Three: Pravda. The hip-ass literati lounge decorated in prewar commy art, and Absinthe curia. They played the Cocteau Twins and served us Absinthe with no prattle or disdain. Arty yet homey. Loved it. And they made the best dirty martini in the quarter. This was a martini so dirty it was served with a pair of panties and a call from your wife. Absinthe, by the way, is . . . drifty.

Four: Koops. If you're a waitress or a bartender and your joint is closed and you just want some good food, a beer, and no bullshizzy, go to Koops. Two of the bartenders who'd served us at other places walked in while we we there after the quarter had shut down. It was cool. And rabbit and oyster gumbo? God.

Five: The infinite jukebox. I'm hanging with my girl arguing tequila with a dishwasher from the Marriot listening to Filipino Box Spring Hog, then Cake, then Waterboys, then . . . the Darth Vader theme from Star Wars? It's like a giant iPod that plays any song you want but also tries to get you to play video poker.

Six: Soul Rebels. They pointed their trombones at my wife and sang Getcha Booty Down Low. For that alone, I adore them. They are a HIGH ENERGY BAND. They could make baptists dance.

Seven: Rebirth Brass band. I've wanted to see this band for so long I almost cried when they got on stage. The ultimate New Orleans band (with Soul Rebels on their heels). They own the Maple Leaf, they shake the roofbeams, THEY MAKE STUFFY WHITE PEOPLE DANCE LIKE JAMES BROWN! You got to understand how to see Rebirth. At 10:30 at night they were just getting the barbeque going in front of the club. Around 11:30 they finally got started and just blew the roof off the place. By 11:35 the little hall where they play had gone from maybe thirty people evenly dispersed like a checker board and enjoying the odd cool breeze to A FRIKKIN VIBRATING DRUNKEN MOB 300 STRONG, SWEATING, MAKIN' OUT, GETTING IT ON. It was divine.

Eight: Pat O'Brien's. I know it's a cheesy tourist thing and is pretty much the Space Mountain of New Orleans but damn is it fun. I'm such a music snob that when Phil Collin's comes on the car radio I'll kick it out of the dash board. You couldn't PAY me to play a Billy Joel song. But three minutes and four Margaritas into Pat O'Brien's and I'm scream-singing Piano Man and throwing money. But beware: They will keep serving you booze until you die. NOBODY GETS THROWN OUT OF Pat O'Brien's! I got so drunk I started requesting Gilligan's Island Incidental Music, Mutant Ninja Turtle Fight Song, and Mendelssohn's Concerto in G Minor which did not make the real-estate-saleswoman-cum-lounge-singer laugh.

Nine: Alvin, the professional drink tray soloist. Look. It's impossible to explain. Pat O'Brien's has two great big copper clad dueling pianos between which a man stands with a drink tray covered in quarters. He has huge thimbles on all his fingers and at some point the piano players say Take it away Alvin! and he DOES A SOLO on a DRINK TRAY. It's just stupid and insipid and clearly a gimmick for generating tips. Here's how you tip him: You roll up a dollar (I saw a guy throw a 20) then get his attention then throw the dollar-ball which he catches on the tray and the room goes crazy. It's just. . .stupid. I know it's silly as all get out but I had the most fun tossing money at this guy and just digging on the fact that somewhere in the world there's a guy making a living playing a drink tray. And, here's the weird part, HE'S NOT THE FIRST ONE! THIS GUY did it first (We saw him in 2003).

Ten: The Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches every night at 10pm at LaPavillon where we stayed, dripping in splendor. The place is ornate, gilded, and flush with Louis 14th antiques. They treat you like landed gentry, turn your bed down at night, wear those safari hats and open the door for you and it's just rock star luxurious. But every night at ten oclock they have a tiny buffet table with cold milk, hot chocolate, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Old men in sear sucker suits and little old ladies in chiffon dresses and trust-fund leveling diamond necklaces were elbowing me out of the way to stack these free sandwiches in their arms and go back to their room. But, after a night of professional Margaritavilling, those sandwiches hit the spot.

Eleven: Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. Another silly tourist trap. Whatever. They make KILLER margs and Brint Trenor plays there twice a week and he frikking smokes a slide guitar.

Twelve: All the naked chicks. I can't say enough about the importance of high quality public nudity as a means to boosting tourism.

Thirteen: Drunks touring Bourbon street at two in the morning--with their kids. Here I am smoking a cigar and drinking a MaiTai on the street at 2 in the morning giggling uncontrollably at the collection of nearly nekkid wimmin hanging out the door of a strippers club and I'm looking at the pictures on the facade of the place which are lurid and pornographic and I hear 'Daddy, I'm tired' and I turn to my right and there's a guy AND HIS WIFE AND KIDS looking at the very same damn porn I am. And people question MY parenting skills!

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Friday, June 6, 2008

13 Things on Thursday about Being a Parent that You Should Think About

One: You are an idiot.

Your opinions are to the wisdom of your eleven year old boy as paleolithic man is to an astronaut.

 The only reason one should learn higher math is so that when your daughter asks you to explain a trig formula, you can confidently pronounce the answer from the back of the book.

However; you never understood quadratic equations, you never will understand quadratic equations, refer to number one.

 The only truly effective parenting technique so closely resembles good-cop-bad-cop routines that you will begin to take notes during Law & Order.

 You will discover--from their vocabulary--the only time your children listen is in the car.

Sympathetic magic is real. When I took my toddler son to the Sanford Zoo in Florida, he was distractingly fascinated by the three toed sloths, standing rooted to the walkway for twenty minutes staring at the immovable animal with a look of divine grace. I thought he was farting. Eight years later, I understand: he'd found his God. Three toed sloths in our neighborhood race past this kid, elbow him out of the way, and say 'who's the slow kid?!' I'm not lying.

 The D.A.R.E. program isn't to keep kids off drugs, it's to keep parents off drugs. Think I'm lying? Just wait until you're at Buffalo Wild Wings ordering a Newcastle and your kid says "Beer is drugs, Dad! You're takingdrugs! My dad takes drugs!" The waitress said "I'll bring you an Iced Tea," with a wink. I tipped her $20.00.

Nine: You are made out of money. It doesn't matter that you bought the kid an xbox three sixty. You also have to buy him the wifi connection, xbox live account, Gears of War, Rock Band, and a spare guitar so his friend can play bass with him for fourteen seconds before they toss the whole rack on the floor and go out to glue scrap cardboard to their bike-forks so their spokes will rattle, thereby playing with garbage for an hour after you dropped nearly 7 bills on a video game system that could pilot the space shuttle. 

Ten: You will experience the urge to kill. (Refer to number nine).

Eleven: You will face the dilemma of birth control pills with candor and resolve. Even when they are prescribed by your daughter's ob/gyn who swears your daughter doesn't need them for actual birth control but to control the random and overwhelming effects of her orc horde. You will repeat this respectable raison d' acclaim to yourself like a holy mantra as you drink fistfulls of martinis in an effort to erase the barely perceptible evil grin your daughter was trying desperately to suppress as you were thusly schooled.

Twelve: You will learn not to post stuff like that on the internet because as much as you're Googling her dates before they go out with her, they're Googling her which means they're Googling you, which means your stupid tell-all blog is their number one stalker's reference page. Dumbass.

Thirteen: You will learn patience. Not by some kind of hallmark afternoon special hands folded treacly bull caca. You will learn by the daily practice of forward thinking. Every time your kid trips over their brand new bass guitar, their Ps3, their fortress of Anime, or their library card while succumbing to the mind-numbing effects of tween/teen sudden-loss-of-constant stimulation, while nearly fainting from it while muttering their hive-mind/Borg mantra 'I'm so booooored'. While that happens you will not erupt with WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE ; nor will you throw a book at them; nor will you tell them they'd be less bored if they'd try to clean their lair for three minutes; nor will you sigh dejectedly, throw your hands in the air and surrender your wallet.


You will do the following Tantric exercise, recommended by the ceaseless research conducted at the Death By Children Institute for Parental Sanity: close your eyes; envision yourself standing on the sidewalk as your youngest child packs his very last bag into a rusty clunker on his way to college three or perhaps ten thousand miles away from you. Smile warmly, appear happy/sad, crinkle your crows feet as much as possible. Now, envision yourself reaching back and patting your back pocket wherein lie two round trip tickets to an all inclusive trip to Vegas.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Recipe # 9,356. Dirty Martini Grenata and Admiral Byrd Popscicles

Summer is here and summer means it's time to try again to make the world's greatest Popsicle. I had a mango and chili Popsicle two years ago that I'm still smacking my lips over. I've been trying to find that mysterious Mexican Bicycle Ice Cream guy ever since. And last year's nearly world famous pickle juice Popsicle was so bizarre and delicious I'm still getting emails about it. So today I moved forward. I'm making Popsicles for grownups. Why should I be forced to endure cherry bomb sugar blast rainbow pops and frozen Spongebob on a stick when I can make my own spectacular sub zero masterpieces? My first two attempts are in the freezer: a Frozen Dirty Martini and what I'm going to call an Admiral Byrd: Earl Grey tea and raw sugar. I can't wait.

Here's the recipes: Admiral Byrd Popsicles. First, get a popsicle mold. Don't be cheap and use Dixie cups--what's the matter with you? Get a cool mold. Second take some raw sugar and mix it with equal parts warm water. I used a heaping tablespoon of unprocessed sugar. Big spankin' brown grains. Third, make some earl grey tea. Use the good stuff, loose leaf, let it steep THREE MINUTES, dammit. THREE MINUTES! Strain, mix in the melted sugar, MIX IT WELL and pour it into a couple of molds. Freeze (duh).

Now--make a dirty martini. Don't be cheap and use crap Vodka. Be a man. Use Belvedere.

Here's how you make a good martini: two shots vodka, half a shot of Vermouth, a generous shot of olive juice. Pour it over ice, put on a good song. Shake the shaker like a mofo. Shake it through half the song. Shake it until a thick layer of ice forms on the outside of the shaker. Shake it until your fingers turn blue. Shake it until your arms are paralyzed. Now strain it into a chilled martini glass with three big fat olives--oh, wait. I mean pour it into a Popsicle mold with a couple of olives. Big fat ass olives that barely fit into the mold.

Rigorous testing in our secret underground testing kitchen reveals that Belvedere vodka is very monkey corvette dance routine (hic!) and even slightly hot redhead psycho Disney movie (hic!) (Hic!). Sorry. (You should've been there when we tested the tequila pops . . .)

The Dirty Martini does not freeze well because of all the vodka. It will be more like an Italian ice: a grenata. So run som hot water over the mold and pop it out into a bowl. It tastes like a fnorkin dirty martini. I wish it would freeze because it tasted awesome. I had nine of them and I love you man. Sheriushly. I luuuuuuv you maaaaaan. I .... I think of us more like brothersh (hic) than . . .

[three hours later]

The Admiral Byrd does freeze and is, in my humble opinion, the greatest Popsicle ever. I highly recommend it and you should send me money now.

Next, maybe a bloody mary pop (on a celery stick). With aspirin.
Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Recipe #5: Pepperoni Pancakes

You start by offering breakfast to the 537 tweens and teens bivouacked in your abode. After they shrug, as if the effort to speak their thoughts aloud is too much for them, as if the arduous mechanics of sucking in air and expelling it in such a fashion that it may communicate something is beyond the scope of their hive-mind ennui, as if the words f a willing and competent chef are like the indulcent tones of a facks moh dehm, a 2oth century relic of low baud telephonic comm service--after that, feel free to interpret their collective disregard as "Please, sir, make us something truly and indelibly hideous!" Make them this:

1. Bisquick in the usual fashion.
2. Add sliced pepperoni.
3. Cook.

Serve with syrup and the option of a little red sauce.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mission Accomplished

The father and son fishing trip is perhaps one of the classic moments of fatherdom. The Roon and I were fortunate enough to b invited to one by my friend and political antithesis, Dave Haynes, Republican Committee Chairman, CPD Sergeant, and talk radio superstar. Dave's family rents all the cabins at Sunset Bluff Resort every May and has a fishing weekend.

Fishing is more than a sport, fishing is a kind of religion. Its rituals are ancient and the man who pays them due regard is participating in an ancient and honorable ceremony of petitioning the earth for sustenance. Should he pronounce the sacred words correctly, should he furnish himself with the proper instruments of his office, should he perform the illustrious dance with the proper form then he will be rewarded and the earth shall give up her bounty, the robust and filling, mysterious small-mouth bass; and the man shall hold it against the palm of his hand and appeal to the gods of the water in the time honored fashion and with the following proper oration: Jesus Snot Barking Christ in a Hat Basket, I didn't drive five hours and pay $900.00 to catch more bait! And then ceremoniously throw his Shakespeare rod and reel into the weed choked briny depths of Lake Hamlin, Michigan.

Fun on a father-and-son fish camp vacation is hampered by several obstacles, not the least of which is the bizarre and unexpected skill possessed by one's son in knotting his fishing line, mid cast, in the wind, into a perfect model of an Amazonian jungle spider's massive web, large enough to catch a man (which we proved). How Roon managed this on nearly every cast is completely outside the scope of science. But, like in a cartoon, I'd set up his hook, his bait, the bobber, turn around a gently place my Rapala with the grace and precision of a man comfortable with his place in the world, turn back to the kid to find him entrapped in a monofilament cocoon.

There s an etiquette and a collection of best practices associated with fishing that can easily be translated for the man who, like me, hasn’t fished in a long time and who, like me, is about to embark on a weekend excursion among a group of uncles and brothers and sons and nephews who’ve been fishing this lake since Sinatra was on the radio and the first lesson is this: watch where they fish.

One of the draws of Sunset Bluff is that the cabin cost includes a boat, a nice open topped Boston Whaler aluminum john boat with a 9 horsepower outboard motor hanging off the back. We woke the first morning, fled our cabin to the dock where ten or twelve guys are all standing on the docks and the banks fishing worms. There were a couple of guys in their boats but they weren’t going anywhere. Their boats were still tied up, fishing off the back of their boat three of four inches from the pier. Me and Roon jump in our boat and take off across the lake.

Aaah, the open water! Spray in our face, wind at our backs, lures lodged firmy and irretrievably in the carpet of weeds that lie thick and mocking in every direction on Lake Hamlin just three inches below the surface of the water, the ping of your son’s lure catching on the keel of the johnboat, where it will dangle like an inverse trophy hood ornament, a badge of your lack of paternal instruction, throughout the trip.

About six minutes into the weekend, Roon and every other 11 year old child, threw their arms into the air from sheer exhaustion. They were bored and they needed guns so while we were getting our fishing licenses at Wal Mart, I talked Dave into letting the kids get air soft guns.

When I was a kid, I remember the Titanic task of begging my mom to let me have a BB gun. My mom would say “You could put an eye out with those things,” and I’d shrug, staring of at the rack of high powered pellet guns, shiny black and lethal as hell, and say “Yeah--barely.”

And air soft is a wimpy version of a BBgun, molded out of high impact plastic to look exactly like an AK 47 or a Glock, the pistol most favored by drug dealers and Gary Busey. The producers finally started making them out of clear plastic so the neighborhood watch people would stop calling in their kids as gangbangers. They fire little plastic pellets that can hardly hurt you and probably would merely give you permanent diminished sight, not total blindness, not like a BB gun.

Not sixteen seconds after opening the passage, homeboy had already had his gun confiscated for pointing it at one of the grown men in the cabin—all cops—who wholeheartedly disapproved of the toys, especially their propensity for filling the damn things by, apparently, tossing all 15,000 bright green plastic BBs into the air, hoping a few might make it into the ammo slot. By 11:30 one of them had shot the other in the leg and both guns were on top of the fridge and they were sulking around the property. Bored.

But some rights of passage are vital and must be endured. Most vital, on a father and son fishing trip, is the entirely unnecessary profitless run. This is a trip by boat at a time when even comatose fishermen know that no fish in their right mind would get off their warm lake-bottom bed to eat a lifeless worm dangling from a rig transmitting our every word like a loudspeaker into the black water beneath the boat.

It is vital that this trip be undertaken under threat of rain, when it is far too cold to even creep slowly past an open kiln, much less fly across the open water of a deep water lake in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. (Not many people know that Lake Hamlin, in Mikasoukee, means “dress in layers”).

But we did that right of passage. Four of us, Dave, Connor, Nate, and myself, in a tiny rowboat with an 8-horsepower engine (and by horse we mean dead horse and by dead horse we mean a three legged, diseased, malnourished ancient asthmatic dead horse) cutting a deep wake across the very center of the lake. Boats flew past us, barely touching the water, their keels just slicing through the very tips of the whitecaps, their Ray Bans following us in silence as they skimmed by, the look on their face the same look you give to someone limping to a four way stop in a purple 1973 Gremlin.

We got to the furthest edge of the lake, dropped anchor, and began fervently casting in all directions, the water cool and perfectly clear, calm as glass in the little cutaway glade we found, the bottom riddled with shallow pans of fish beds. We were silent, studious, our lures and bait in the water for all of, I don’t know, three maybe four seconds before Roon start reeling furiously.

“They’re not biting, let’s move.”

After getting his lure snagged on the anchor rope, and after getting mine snagged under the boat and onto Nate’s line and after a beaver swam up to stare at us with that same Ray Ban glaze the pros were using out on the open water, that there but for the grace of God go I stare FROM A BEAVER Dave and I chucked it all and raced (I’m exaggerating) across the lake to a waterside restaurant and order fish baskets and beer. We’re all puttering along toward the docks under a gray sky and the waves are low mounds, the reflection of the clouds like silver jewelry on the surface of the water and just as I’m thinking that, Roon notices it too and he says “Dude, this lake has excellent graphics!”

Later, after docking the boat, we saw that nearly everyone who had elected to stay at the docks had caught enough fish to feed Bolivia. We all took positions on the ends of the docks and dropped our bait in the water. I watched as mine drifted all the way back from the middle of the slough to just in front of me, a shaft of setting sunlight gilding the worm just a few feet below the surface and by some miracle, two fish, a bass and a northern, spun their slow motion front fins and idled up to my bait and I swear to you I SWEAR they looked at the worm, looked at each other, and shrugged.

About that time, Roon got a bite and reeled in a gorgeous 2 pound bass and his inner cave man perked up and said hey, wait, that’s kind of cool, and Roon got bit by the fishing bug and we stayed there until it was so dark he couldn’t see his bobber anymore.

The next morning when the insane bird that kept flying into my window every morning had finally committed birdicide and I finally crawled out from under the blankets, Roon was gone. I found him down on the bank with his rod, my rod, and someone else’s rod, working all three, eyes on the bobbers like a bird of prey. He caught a couple of bluegill and we took the boat our one last time for the hell of it. Roon road silently in the boat for like ten whole minutes before he finally spoke and I braced myself for the inevitable, for him to say I’m bored, or this is better on x-box, or fishing is gay, but instead he just says “This was pretty cool, dad.”

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


It occurs to me that I don't blog nearly as much as I should.
Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Joys of Scouting

Roon crossed over into scouting recently and I became a leader in the scout troop: I am the senior patrol advisor for the Funky Ninjas. This means I'm responsible for standing around drinking coffee and yelling such precious nuggets of wisdom as Who left their plastic spoon on the table? If you don't keep your plastic spoon then you'll be eating your ice cream with your fingers tonight, freaking spaz!; the incessant plea of put that knife away; this sage advice: peeing in the woods means BEING IN THE WOODS not standing five feet from your tent under a streetlight while half the troops in the council are pulling in to set up camp, spaz! and the classic WHAT. THE. HELL. ARE. YOU. DOING?!!
Our troop attended the annual Lincoln Pilgrimage, camping at New Salem, a living rendition of Abe's hometown and birthplace. We camped in a slough by the parking lot after snaking our way through the maze of campsites in the dark watching people put up tents in the glare of halogens and hearing snatches of conversation like "Well it's gonna be a long weekend if you two are fighting all the time" and "Stakes? Tents have stakes?" Grinned like a stuck pig the whole time because our troop is old school. We don't use inflatable tent furniture, pop-up dome tents, and portable gas grills. We sleep on the ground in Vietnam War era canvas a-frame tents, make the boys do all the work, and we cook over an open fire. Our camp looks like a set piece from "Follow Me Boys."

Cub Scouts always felt like an obligation to me. It was alright but for the most part, the boys were snarky and high on sugar all the time, could barely tie their shoes, much less get a project done, and didn't listen to me if their life depended on it. Which is fine. We had a great time anyway but the adults involved do get the feeling, eventually, that they're a breed of specialized volunteer babysitters. Scouts is different.

First of all, all the scouts refer to each other as Mr. So one scout will call out to another who has, for instance, gone off toward the latrine in a hurry and say "Mr. Skidz, I hope everything comes out alright!" I hardly ever heard them call each other by their first names. Oddly, this eliminates nicknames which I kind of miss as I was prepared for a slew of monikers. I even tried to label a couple of kids, like my favorite Ninja, a 5th grader whose hormones are biding their time, a kid as small as a second grader. I love this kid cause he's always smiling, always throwing himself into the crowd, and kills himself to keep up on hikes even though he's literally walking twice as fast and twice as far as everyone else because he's half their size. He never shuts up, seems to bilocate all over the campsite, and has a voice like a cartoon squirrel. I think he eats sugar coated helium pops for breakfast every morning. I tried calling him squeaker and thinmint but the scouts wouldn't have it: as much as they tossed him around and made polite fun of his helium voice, the boys in the troop fully adopted this boy, never made him feel bad about lagging behind because of his size. At the end of the hike, this kid was beat. He really had walked twice as far as anyone else. His feet were killing him and he was exhausted. But, as always, he was all smiles. Even when he told me he was dead on his feet, he smiled.

And here's the astonishing, amazing thing about scouting. One of the other boys, a ear or two ahead of Squeaker, took a hard fall early in the day. Our first aid scout patched him up but you could see in his eyes that it hurt pretty bad. Then we hiked five hundred thousand miles and he never complained. At the end of the day, this scout, injured and tired, heard Squeaker complaining and without even thinking about it, hauled him up for a piggy back to the campsite.

There was an article in the Trib today about how Scouting is working hard to make itself relevant. As Scouting nears it's 100 year anniversary (2010) it faces dwindling numbers and criticism for some of the principles by which the organization is run.

The biggie: Boy Scouts excludes openly gay men from becoming scoutmasters or leaders in a troop. Although I'm not going to be carrying a sign anytime soon, I don't agree with this policy. I think the times are generally past the days when homosexuality is considered uncommon. It's becoming part of mainstream culture, losing it's taboo, except in certain highly fraternal cultures--like Scouts. I've had some gay friends, work friends. One of them was so flamboyant he made Rip Torn look like an Amish preacher. I didn't know the other guy was gay until he mentioned it one day. In both cases, I loved these guys like all my friends. They worked hard, treated people fairly, and stood by their principles. In both cases, these guys were legendary managers and everyone who worked for them became their friend. They would have been great leaders in any organization and would have done a great job as scout leaders.

The thing is, we don't sit around talking about sex in scouts. And a Scoutmaster is so busy ordering people around and cooking dinner and organizing a campout, they don't have a lot of time to exhibit their nascent sexuality. This weekend, even when the boys were finally asleep and in their tents and the men sat around the fire to bullshit with each other, even then we didn't talk about sex. This may come as a big surprise, but men, generally, don't sit around talking about their sexuality. We talked about leadership, cigars, writing, gear, our own legendary car wrecks, old jobs, and the efficacy of spaghetti dinners over golf tourneys for raising money. We didn't talk politics, religion, or our respective tendencies when getting it on. It just doesn't come up.

Of the 14 boys I hiked with this weekend, I couldn't tell you if any of them are gay, if they're Mennonite, or if they believe in God and I just don't care. When you see them working together, teaching each other, helping each other; when you see one of them cheerfully binding some other kid's wound--with great skill; when you sit around the fire and listen to them tell stories, bust each other's chops, and talk about what they learned on their hike, you realize that the program is great. That these kids will do well. That they will easily and happily join in, help out, organize.

What really struck me was how the new guys took to it. My son, who's future appears to involve a lot of lounging, some flopping, and a propensity for couches, worked his butt off. I can barely get this kid to take out the trash without having to pay him off but when he was made the bungie carrier while the troop assembled their enormous tarp, he was into it. Through out the weekend, he pitched his tent, unpitched his tent, gathered firewood, cleaned the campsite, loaded and unloaded the troop trailer, and various other jobs. He pitched in, without me screaming at him. He took responsibility and he acted independently on it. At the same time, I saw the other scouts just assuming positions of leadership. I mean, they jumped in and took control. They were quickly able to take on a task, grab some other scouts, organize the thing, and follow through to getting it done and done right. These guys, as much as they desperately want to push their online kill ratio in Halo 3, are also becoming leaders. It's obvious when you're with them. And the merit badges they earn are all lessons in living in the real world, they're all about civic duty, character, honor.

I'll happily defend a program that makes that happen. I look forward to when the organization finds its way to 21st century policies like any other but their arcane policies are minor when compared to the good they do. Find me another organization that's generated these kinds of principled graduates.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Death By Children Rescues a Man from the Brink of Certain Demise!

I received this email this morning and it really brought home to me the importance of being an accident prone articulate smartass:

bloodyowl has left a new comment on your post "The Water Pik Netti Pot Listerine Don't Try This A... ":

AHH! I reached this mess by Googling "netti pot listerine" to see if I could! I saw Water Pik, and said in my congested head, "Yessss, I totally have one of those!"So, thankfully, my ADD held off long enough for me to read the outcome of your fiasco... otherwise, I would have whitewashed the oldest and deepest parts of my brain with straight Listerine.Thank you for saving my life, and doing it hilariously.But I'm curious: are you still stuffed up?
Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

TAG! I'm it.

I HAVE BEEN "tagged" by Femminismo, and since I'm now "it" this is what happens:
1. Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Post THE RULES on your blog.
3. Post 7 weird or random facts about yourself on your blog.
4. Tag 7 people and link to them.
5. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.
Here are seven random facts about me:
1. I hate it when I get tagged by other bloggers because I'm essentially lazy and anti-social which bodes poorly for social marketing and it makes me feel guilty when I don't do it. Plus, it's kind of like a 21st century chain letter.
2. I talk to myself when I drive. I used to devise insanely complicated schemes to mask this behavior but since cell phones and Bluetooth I don't care anymore and flagrantly chatter away behind the wheel having imaginary conversations with Mark Twain and Faulkner which ought to remain inside my skull. Gives ex-temporaneous a whole new meaning.
3. I always do the math of people's names in my head to figure out if there's some kind of hidden meaning that might explain why they're so weird. I also check the gematria of every character in every story I write--fiction and none--for the same reason and if the math adds up to traits not viable with their story, I change their name.
4. I am a fantastic and highly prized procrastinator having devote my ENTIRE life in pursuit of . . .
5. I try to write about three things in fiction: 1) what I'm most scared of; 2) the balance of stock characters and situations against their direct opposite; 3) the South.
6. I belong to a secret society called the [DELETED--FBI].
7. I remain deeply angry with my younger self for foregoing college with such capricious disregard yet NOT getting stoned in Nepal.
I am tagging these seven lucky people:




This guy

My Favorite Waiter

A Freelance Writer Who is Good

League of Reluctant Adults

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Son Has an Outstanding Online Kill Ratio

I was at a little league game one time and my spawn was playing right field, the place where they put blind kids and quadriplegics, and the first base superstar, a kid with reflexes slightly higher than a coked out ninja astronaut, misses a grounder. It bounces out through the grass into the glove of the spawn of my loins
who was probably about to scoop up an interesting rock. He stood up in total shock, threw the ball to second base and got a guy out. After spending most of the season saying, well baseball isn't that important, and you should see the kid golf, I screamed so loud I spit my left lung into the dugout.

I don't pay much attention to sports. I just can't get into it. Guys will start talking to me about sports and I just blank out. Sounds like gibberish to me. Like cheerleaders talking about purses. Like old ladies talking about the neighbors. So the poor kid, he doesn't have much of a sports dad to teach him the ropes. That might not matter much since he is to sports what a fish is to the hot desert sands. He plays golf and volley balls. Excels in one, keeps up in the other. That's just fine with me and definitely fine with him because he's not a playa. He's a killer.

I never got to scream that's my boy after a three run RBI but I am proud to say he's an unsympathetic, merciless, unstoppable, death machine when he's playing Halo 3 on Xbox live.

Yesterday, he was playing some guy from Australia who was a Brigadier level player (which means he hasn't slept in eight weeks) who had the temerity to kill my son who was on his own team, a move the game announces by saying you were betrayed. Connor's inner sense of justice was so fouled, he followed the guy through the rest of the game and punked him at every opportunity. Scored the highest kills in the game, left a pile of bodies behind a Warthog. The guy couldn't even get in the game. At one point, his virtual highly armored self actually shrugged its virtual shoulders and virtually stood there, virtually crying. I was so proud.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Reward for Most Boring Post Ever Award Goes To ...

Ok, I agree. The most recent post was weird, out of character, and didn't belong here. But it's a great example of what writers do when they're stuck. I wanted to write something for my blog and, truth be told., my kids aren't very interesting lately. The boy hasn't blown himself up and seems to be leaning away from such dangerous proclivities , and the girl is being entirely well behaved. The future of this blog is in serious question if they don't start going crazy again soon.

So I'm siting there realizing I have to my Manday post, knowing I don't really care that baseball season just started (though I'm excited about upcoming grill sales . . . ), I had nothing Manly to talk about so I tried to tie together the beginning of movies, the dictionary, and the dust bowl.

In the hands of a capable speculative essayist this might've turned out either a) spectacular or b) hilarious but in the hands of a desperate bloggist, it turned to be a) what the hell? ad b) huh?

So I swear to you, my capable readers, I'll stick to the subject in the future.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Manday is Happy First Movie Day

Today in history there were several important firsts:

Noah Webster published the first dictionary of the American language, beginning the slow death of American dialects and verbal orthography. Today America has less dialects than any other country in history.

Thomas Edison made the first movie on his kinetiscope. Not long after he gave us the Great Train Robbery, the movie which arguably started the cinema industry and helped, I am certain, Webster's cause to homogenize language by perpetuating a kind of cinematic dialect as the one true trope.

Finally, in 1935,
a dark cloud appeared on the horizon in the western midwest. Not locusts or carrier pigeons or crow, but dirt. Plain old soil, lifted into the air with such alacrity and authority by the wind that it blocked out the sun and caused people standing thirty feet from their back door to get lost in the sudden darkness.

It may be hard for us to imagine the disparity between people prior to the conformity brought on by the 20th century. People living only a few towns away from each other in America may have developed accents and dialects so distinct they could not easily converse though they both spoke English.

But the dictionary and the movie theater made these things different. For one, a theater might be the first place people congregated in enforced silence other than church. Imagine even today seeing a new movie and how wonderful it can be, how thoroughly we leap into the movie, becoming entirely vested in the story even though we have grown up in a culture of cinema. Imagine now being there when "The Great Train Robbery" first appeared and everyone in some town hall somewhere, some converted storefront, was together, hushed, engaged. Where other than Church had anyone experienced that?

Dictionary's certainly existed before the version by Webster (Caudrey's lexicon from 1604, for instance) none had tackled the American version of English. Mark Twain used rural orthography to his advantage when Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer were talking but all other words, all other essays, employ the King's English (if driven through the pen of a 19th century man of American letters), as did all other popular writers of the time. They all had a similar, if not identical, grammar and vocabulary and their books and plays were popular. But their effect on the language overall was not as strong as that of movies.

Twain and Page and Howells celebrated regional dialect. It's easy to read Huck Finn's twang as a diminutive but Twain was recording this voice as it was. He was celebrating that specific American tongue. Which is a good thing because pretty soon, that tongue disappeared.

There may be some twang left in deep pockets of American regional and rural living--Alabama and Mississippi come to mind--but mass communication leveled most of it. And movies started the whole thing and dictionaries put it down in writing.

Of course, I love dictionaries (I own an ungodly number) and I love movies. But I can't help but wonder what kind of world it would be if they hadn't happened, if there wasn't some way that language and ideas were so seamlessly transferred. Movies happened right as a major agriculture disaster, a major economic disaster, and world war were all occurring (not simultaneously, but over nearly contiguous years and that matters). After all the grief and terror, here's this magical thing to take our mind off of the crap. People flocked to the theaters because they needed to be entertained, to be distracted, to get a breather.The identity of neighborhoods and regions remains strong. You can hear a difference from Kentucky to Indiana. The twang is more open, softer, in Kentucky. But they're both still talking about what a dick Simon Cowell is.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Homework Tornado Strikes Chicago Living Room. Dog Scared.

 y daughter turns fifteen in a few days and I am compelled to make a few observations. I am finally getting to the point where her boobs don't scare me, where her astonishing compilation of sexual inuendi doesn't surprise me; and where her frank independence no longer challenges my authority and I am damn proud of myself.

But there is a trait that seems to have grown deep roots in the fecund habituae my daughter possesses and that trait is abject, terrifying, horrible absence of kempt. The girl's a slob. She exudes disarray, disorder, and disarrangement. She isn't, how do you say, sheveled.

She comes by it honestly--I am a reverse neatfreak. I'm obsessive-repulsive, I throw stuff everywhere. Well, ok, that's not entirely true. I love order. I relish organization. I get a contact high at the container store. If a house is organized and perfectly arranged I'm capable of pretty much keeping it that way. It's the putting it that way that I'm not up to and never have been. There's so much unfinished laundry in my basement that it's more like excavation than housework. I can pull it apart and read the history of our family as easily as a paleontologist reading lithics: the German Porn Bin-olithic era, the Pink and Purple pajama pant-o-zenic stage, the Osh Kosh B'Gosh-a-zoic. One day I'll break through the onesie-stratum and reach the floor.

But the girl child has taken it to a new height. Her habits aren't human, they're gull-like. She doesn't have a room. She lives in an impenetrable nest of unmatched bikini tops, iPod earbud wires, pantyhose, Pirates of the Caribbean pajamas, and yarn. Lots of yarn. I reached down to yank a lose strand of yarn out of the way yesterday and slung a hamster corpse across the room. This wattle is adorned like a crow's nest with spent Vitamin Water bottles, old glasses of orange juice, chip bags and Popsicle sticks.

This isn't so bad. I venture into her room trembling with fear, wary of boobytraps and micro-carnivores, stuff her underwear into her drawer and back out carefully. I keep the door closed. And just like the mom in Poltergeist, I will occasionally open it for curious strangers who will stare in wonder and fear then marvel at my indifference (not recognizing it as abject terror). As long as it's contained, I feel safe.

But last night, the unclean-teen's poltergeic puerility escaped and wreaked havoc on my living room.

As I have mentioned (bragged) in the past (five minutes) my daughter (monkey) attends Superhero High School, oft mentioned in a national magazine I'm too humble to name (Time) several (5) times. Her workload is college level and she often has homework questions I can't answer. Thank God her mom (rumored to be My Attorney [true]) is a superkillerfreakyEinstein genius with dominate genes or she'd be eating paste every day. Instead she's writing essays about Buddhism and Teen Pregnancy (that was a fun trip to the Library) and working calculus. This last weekend she crammed for her very first final exams ever. Her focus was like a powerful searchlight. You could see her thinking. It was like watching Jackie Chan outtakes, only for math. She studied for 17 hours straight and aced her exams. She earned a perfect score.
However, proud as I am, some reject teacher assigned a scrapbook project on the Greek Gods--all of them--showing the God, the origin of their name, and a well known product or object named after them. Two days before finals. That #@%@!

So I go to sleep and she's perched on the edge of the couch with scrapbook materials and her laptop, prim as a pea. I woke up to this:

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Monday, March 31, 2008

I Totally Cheated on My Wife

n response to former Governor Spitzer and sitting Governor Blindguy's recent admission of infidelity, I feel compelled to admit that I have totally cheated on my wife.

More, I have to admit, to expose that it was totally hot and sticky and I spent most of the time moaning and saying 'oh Go, oh God' and I'll probably do it again.

Since going on this damn diet, I have successfully dropped some serious tonnage. My pants are starting to hang off my back end by accident and not design. My old shirts are starting to actually fit me. Even my shoes feel different.

And for the most part, I haven't had the horrible cravings you would think I'd have by giving up dirty martinis and Manchego. I've been just fine. Until yesterday. Yesterday she arrived, waltzed in to our house steamy and hot, and said 'come on, baby, I'm all yours'.

And I caved. I did. I only had a little, just a piece, but it still counts. My poor Attorney was at work, slaving away, and there I was at home, my hands full of the voluptuous, delicious, totally hot Cheese Pizza.

I had a corner, a tragic baked-out postage-stamp-sized sliver with just a spoonful of hot melted cheese and a wad of Italian sausage slumped under it but it was delicious. Made Jenny Craig taste like wheat paste, I swear.

I just ... I had to say something. I wanted there to be full disclosure, just like Spitzer and Blindguy, because I am a man of honor.

Except when faced with cheese pizza.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jenny Craig, I think I Love You

ot many people know that I have been, most of my adult life, secretly obese. I hide it well with baggy clothes and by never leaving the house, but, truth be told, I'm fat as all get out.

By average standards, I have been, at my greatest rotundity, 100 pounds over the standard mark. Just because the standard is set according to the average size of fanatical fasting Fakirs in Darfur doesn't mean it isn't right. I'm supposed to be only one person and, according to the measure, I'm two.

My gorgeous attorney has also battled with thinnitism and decided recently to join Jenny Craig. As a measure of support, I vowed to stand by her, diet spackle bar to diet spackle bar, steamed zucchini to steamed zucchini, in her quest to reduce her size by one thin secretary.

So here we are, 7 weeks into the program and we're down 20 pounds each. 20 pounds. I never thought I'd freakin lose twenty pounds. You know how much twenty pounds is? Grab four bags of sugar. Wear them. For thirty years.

However, no one's noticed yet. My pants are hanging off my ass like I'm some kind of white rapper wanna be. I went bowling and nothing worked because I'm used to heaving twenty more pounds up to the line and I'm just . ... off. I look in the mirror and I look different to myself and I see me every day. I see my attorney every day and we LOOK DIFFERENT! WE'RE SKINNIER! AND NO ONE NOTICES IT!

I think it has to do with fear of fat. When my attorney complained that no one had noticed that she'd lost weight, I told her that until she's dramatically thinner, no one is going to say anything because they can't be sure they're right. If they say "Wow, you've lost weight!" and you say, "Uh, no," look at them for a minute then finish with "I'm still fat," well, it's an awkward moment.

It's the opposite of the irrevocable comment: "When's it due?" to which the robustly bellied recipient of this folly replies, with frigid malice, "I'm. Not. Pregnant."

If you are on the upside of ample, as Mrs. Death and I were, please accept my assurance that you can lose it. You really can. And it's easy.

I've been losing two pounds or more every week for eight weeks. I eat more than I used to, the food is good, and I haven't exercised. At all. I'm not advocating that by the way so all you nitpickerels can just stand down now. I hate exercising and I doubt I'll really do it until I have to. If I was exercising---I'd have lost probably 25 pounds by now.

Jenny Craig food is expensive and it doesn't always live up to the picture on the box. The pesto pizza is terrible. The cheese tortellini is torpid and wan. But the Fish and Chips is alright and the pot-stickers and cashew chicken dinners are pretty tasty.

The important thing we've found is to load up the fridge with diet Jello and really good vegetables. We eat a salad every lunch and a huge bowl of steamed veggies every night. I have yogurt and dry cereal for breakfast every morning with a fruit, a cup of coffee and a lot of water. I eat a snack two hours later: yogurt and a snack bar with fruit. I eat a JC lunch with a womping salad at lunch, take a vitamin, have a snack two hours later, cottage cheese, a fruit, and diet chips. Then dinner. Then desert. I'm eating more food than Oprah on a binge and I'm losing weight.

I know some of my readers are, as I have so delicately described, on the upside of ample. Maybe it's you. Maybe this sounds like preaching but I'm pretty excited about losing weight. It can be done. You can do it. If I can do it ... you can.

Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.