Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.



Right now, my wife is meeting with a psychic. A horse psychic. I am, of course, incredulous about the whole thing. I mean, I do believe that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio/Than are dreamt of in your philosophy, but reading a horse’s mind? Come on!

I’m a little more okay with the concept of reading other people, ie., other humans… not that I really buy into tarot card readers or the like, but it at least seems possible. Maybe. But horses? Do horses really think like people do? If you really could peer into the equine brain, would you even be able to decipher what you find there?

But, in all fairness to The Scientist*, I will reserve judgment until I hear what this lady had to say. I mean, if she says, “his right front knee hurts him” I’m certainly more willing to buy it than something like, “He says he wishes you would feed him more sugar cubes.”

The bottom line is that I don’t like to be screwed over (and by extension, see my loved ones screwed over) and I think that most of this hokum is smoke and mirrors, con man stuff. I can’t get over the idea that this horse psychic is silently laughing to herself the entire time she feeds her line of BS to my wife. And if she’s not just making stuff up wholesale, I suspect that she’s using a cold reading technique to tell my wife what she wants to hear.

I asked The Scientist what she expected to get out of this psychic. She just wants to know if her horse hurts, and if so, where, she tells me. But really… is she going to make adjustments to her horses care based on what a psychic told her? Honestly? I mean, my wife is smarter than that.

Anyway… I’m sure there will be more written about this, and soon. I’ve been a bit of a dick and promised The Scientist that I’d stop teasing her about this. I love her and I will stop. Mostly. If I pushed it too far… well, you don’t have to be a psychic to figure out what would happen.

* Yes, scientist, as in someone who works in science.



Here’s why my marriage works. This morning I saw that The Scientist had dressed Macey in ridiculous white shorts with big, bold patterns on them. I could not let this go uncommented upon.
ME: Is Macey going golfing after daycare?
THE SCIENTIST [already tired of this conversation before it even begins] Yes.
ME: She is? But, but, does she have clubs?
TS: Yes, I made them for her. Out of wishes and rainbows.
ME: You have time to craft things out of wishes and rainbows but you don’t have time to do the laundry?

To which she replied with a slight smile that said, “You’re an asshole. But you’re funny.”


#153 In which our hero draws a line in the sand, er, tub.

There was a showdown in the bathtub last night.

Generally speaking, the girls get a bath every other night. It would probably only be once a week if I had my way, but The Scientist has a clearer head. And the few times that we’ve gone several days without bathing these kids has resulted in an alarming body odor that really should teach me better.

But it’s a chore, y’know? First Lily doesn’t want to get into the tub (because she has to stop watching TV or playing with the computer or reading books or whatever) then she doesn’t want to get out. And that’s when the showdown started last night.

Macey was already out and dry, and I think Lily really enjoys having the tub to herself, like in the old days before Macey (BM -- which, if you’ve read some of her previous tub exploits, you know is an appropriate acronym).

So all the washing was done, the hair had been rinsed, and she had had plenty of playing time (by my estimate). So I started making noises that bathtime was almost over. Lily didn’t take to this well at all.

I’m still playing! I’m still playing! No! No! Bathtime is NOT over!

I would flip the handle to drain the water, and she would flip it back. We argued back and forth about this several times. Ultimately, the unexpected answer was that her DUCK needed to flip the lever to drain the tub… this somehow made it acceptable.

When all the water was gone, Lily was still actively playing with all her tub toys and seemed no closer to getting out. And so the showdown began.
ME: Lily, it’s time to clean up.
LILY: I’m still playing.
ME: I know you want to play, honey, but it’s time to clean up.
LILY: No! I’m still playing!
ME: Lily, bathtime is over, sweetheart.
LILY: NO! Bathtime is NOT over!
ME: Lily, you have to clean up your toys now.
LILY: NO! I don’t want to clean up.
ME: Honey, you have to clean up your toys.
LILY: NO! I don’t want to clean up!
ME: Lily, clean up your toys, now.
LILY: I’m still PLAYING!
ME: LILY! You have to clean up your toys… now!

And while the situation is escalating, my mind is racing. What’s the right thing to do here? The optimal outcome is if she cleans up her toys herself; the worst outcome is if I drag her out of the tub kicking and screaming. Do I threaten her? Does this situation warrant a spanking? Or just a time out? What if I say I’ll take away her tub toys and she won’t get to play with them next time?

While trying to figure out the best way to get to a good resolution, I stuck with the company line: Lily, you have to clean up your toys.

I was about to execute the time out option (the idea of a naked, dripping wet 3-year-old sitting in a chair in the corner made me laugh) when she gave in. I’m not sure what happened… if she realized that I wasn’t going to let her sleep in the tub (an option she suggested and I quickly rejected) or if she sensed that real punishment was eminent. But regardless, she said “o-kay” in a slightly teary voice and picked up her toys.

Someone tell me why that even though I got to what I considered the best outcome -- and I did it without having to resort to threats -- that I still felt like shit? I felt like I had somehow broken my wonder little girl’s spirit, and it made me sad.

Of course, five minutes later we were laughing again and I’m sure the entire thing had left my daughter’s mind… but still.

Is this what parenting is really like? Even when you win you lose?



My youngest child is attempting to kill me. She has, no doubt, received coaching on this technique from my oldest.

This is a pretty cool thing about keeping a blog… I can go back and review what Lily put us through and say, “huh, whatta ya know, Lily didn’t sleep through the night either.” But, unlike Lily, Macey doesn’t just fuss or cry at night, she screams like her crib is on fire.

And that’s the part that really drives nails into my skull. Her teeth are hurting her or she dropped her bottle or whatever, yeah, I get it, it makes you unhappy, but good Lord… do you really need to go from “I’m uncomfortable” to “I wish I was never born” so quickly? Because that’s just what happens… she fusses a tad, then opens the floodgates of hell, unleashing the shrieks of the undead and damned to jolt me awake.

And even when The Scientist is right there with a fresh bottle, she still writhes around like a epileptic on speed (does that metaphor even make sense?), screams unabated, until my wife talks her down from the ledge.

She has a bit of a temper, it would appear.

Last night when The Scientist refused to pick her up, Macey glared at her, threw her bottle to the ground, then collapsed in a screaming fit. This is what scares me the most… that her behavior is indicative of what kind of teenager she’ll be. I already know that it’s going to be tough going with me and my girls for at least part of our lives, and things aren’t going to be any easier if Macey has a temper to match her father’s.

Right now, I can still take both of them. But when they’re teenagers? If they work together? I may be in trouble.



My reactions to the Sci Fi Channel’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” episodes 4 & 5.

I missed episode #4 while I was on vacation, and haven’t been able to catch a rerun of it yet. However, I did read the synopsis on the Sci-fi Channel’s website, and it sounds like it was a shocker!

First out -- Creature, my dark horse to win. Dammit! I didn’t see the show, but if she really jaywalked while out trying to do good deeds… well, that’s hard to argue. In Stan Lee’s slightly skewed world of superheroes you don’t get the break the law, ever. Not even a little bit. So she gets the boot. At least with one hottie gone there’s still Lemuria’s big boobs in the competition.

Another competition and one more to go. This time it’s… Lemuria! Shit! So much for eye candy.

I did manage to catch the last five minutes of this episode before the new one, and boy-oh-boy is Feedback crazy. He is clearly an uber-geek who’s just a little too invested in the entire superhero thing. I guess it’s no surprise that Stan eats this up, but having a grown man blubber and say that “you’ll like a father to me” and that “Spider-man helped me become an adult” has to leave you feeling a little creeped out. I’m guessing Stan had to take a shower immediately afterwards. Ugh.

On to episode 5.

First competition, go in front of a classroom full of kids and talk about your “super powers.” Hard to say what Stan was looking for in this one… Fat Momma and Major Victory do a better job of connecting with the kids, but Feedback remains true to his character, talking about the accident that gave him his powers and so on. In the end the most kids choose Fat Momma as their favorite. Stupid kids.

Next challenge, follow a series of clues to find The Dark Enforcer. Again, the awkwardness of having a “super arch enemy” that you don’t really fight in any way, shape or form is highlighted. The heroes run around and find clues -- actually, find people who are wearing the clues -- which lead them to The Dark Enforcer so they can… um, run up to him and say hi. Then he insults them. Them they walk away from each other. I wish they could have had him doing something sinister… like pretending to saw through a phone pole or something… anything.

Quick side note: as part of this challenge the heroes had to rub lotion on the belly of a fat guy, making a clue appear on his skin. How do you cast for something like that?
Wanted: white male, morbidly obese, hairless chest with no blemishes or moles. Must not be allergic to lotion or adverse to having strangers touch you in an intimate fashion. Contact Stan Lee at 1-800-NO-HOMO.

Major Victory and Feedback do well on this challenge, but Fat Momma clearly doesn’t take it seriously and screws around, even stopping for a massage while she’s searching for clues.

That evening, after some dumb drama from Fat Momma, Major Victory is eliminated. Major Victory?! I call bullshit. Stan claims that it’s because Major Victory is such a goofball, acting "more like a stand-up comedian than a superhero." This from the guy who wrote Spider-man, the only superhero to throw more bad puns at his villains that actual punches. I’m stunned by this turn of events.

Part of it is that I just can’t help thinking tactically. See, The Sci-Fi Network says they are going to make a movie starring the hero from this competition… and who better than Major Victory? He’s telegenic, has some acting chops and looks great in his costume.

But what really infuriates me is that if anyone else had acted like Fat Momma, blowing off the challenge in favor of getting a massage, Stan would have reamed them a new asshole. He should have said, “Hey, tubby, since when does a superhero stop for snacks and massages on their way to catching a super villain?” He could -- and should -- have send her packing that night. I don’t even think any of the other competitors would have objected too loudly, expect to say, “Um, maybe stopping for that candy apple wasn’t the best plan, huh?” Christ, Stan, at least be somewhat consistent with your criticism.

But now we’re stuck with Fat Momma and Feedback. Given how much screen time the producers have given to Fat Momma breaking down at the thought of Feedback being eliminated, I can’t imagine she’ll win. Which leaves Feedback… the creepy comic book geek.

Honestly, I’ve started to lose interest in this show since it’s so clearly scripted. I mean, I know all reality shows are only loosely based on reality, but what Stan says and what Stan does are so at odds that it just leaves me scratching my head.

Maybe the producers quickly identified Feedback’s unstable nature, realizing that if this guy didn’t win they might have a situation on their hands. Nobody wants this guy hanging himself with his own superhero belt after the show wraps.

Of course, the other alternative is that Fat Momma is going to win this thing. A thought that leaves me quivering like her enlarged heart after climbing a set of stairs.


#152 In which our hero discusses his church.

I have an uneasy relationship with organized religion. I’m the youngest kid (I have three older sisters -- and I mean much older… there is seven years between me and my youngest sister, 15 years between me and my oldest sister) and Mom and Dad were pretty much tired of going to church by the time I came around, so I was never exposed to organized religion growing up. Add to that the fact that so many people seem to use their religion as a crutch, not to mention all the people trying to force their beliefs down my throat… well, it all adds up to me not being especially motivated to dedicating myself to weekly Sunday services.

However, when The Scientist and I got married and started talking about kids, we both agreed that it would be a good thing to take our kids to church. Not so much in a “so they don’t burn in hell!” way, but more that we hope they’ll grow up to be well-rounded and educated kids. I always vaguely felt like I missed out on something by not being part of a church when all my friends growing up were.

So then we needed to decide what flavor of religion we would expose our children to. The Scientist was brought up Catholic, but we both have big problems with some of their teachings, so that one was out. My father was Jewish, but never practiced, and I don’t consider myself Jewish (and since Mom isn’t a Jew, I guess officially I’m not) so that one was out. We planned on making the rounds of a couple of local churches to see if we felt at home anywhere.

And we actually never got past the first one we visited, a United Methodist church right up the street. The welcoming committee -- a gaggle of cute little old ladies -- descended on us after services, plying us with coffee and cookies and generally being extremely nice to us (and not too intrusive). We were looking for someone to marry us at the time, and since we hit it off with the pastor right away, that was a big plus, too. So we found a church.

And before having kids, we were really pretty good about going. Our attendance dropped off after the pastor we liked so much was transferred, which is very commonplace with the Methodists. We weren’t so keen on the new pastor and her boring, rambling sermons.

And once we had babies, that really curtailed our church-going. Neither of our kids want to sit still for an hour, so we end up chasing them around the back of the church while everyone else is singing and otherwise being filled up with God. And after awhile we realized that we could not hear the sermon as easily from our family room as from the basement of the church, so why not just stay home? We hope to return more regularly when the girls are a little older and/or we come up with better threats.

Which is all a long-winded way of expressing my “ugh, why am I here?” frame of mind last night at a church meeting.

Here’s the thing: our church is very small and is full of old people. In the last five years, I would guess that there were 3x as many deaths as births in the congregation. The church is constantly in fear of having the home office pull the plug due to low attendance and spiraling costs and just shut the whole place down. And while The Scientist and I aren’t exactly active members, we like most of the people there (there’s a few assholes everywhere, I guess), and we’d hate to see the church shuttered.

So when the administrative council nominated me to be part of the evangelism committee, I accepted. Now, this committee isn’t the public preachin’/come to Jesus thing its name implies, it’s more membership and recruiting. And since I work in advertising, I thought I might be able to bring a few ideas to the table, maybe boost membership a tad.

I created a brochure and made some guest cards for the pews. Then I wrote up a bunch of ideas that I thought could help membership; I broke these into “free,” “some cost” and “never in a million years could the church afford this.”

And there’s the rub.

The chair of the evangelism committee keeps bringing out this list of ideas like it’s the, um, like it’s a really important book. She keeps saying that she doesn’t want any of these great ideas to fall between the cracks.

Buuut… the problem is that she doesn’t know the great, dark secret that all advertising people know but don’t talk about: this shit might not work.

I mean, it’s all reasonable thinking, and it would probably work, on some level… but it’s a crap shoot, really. Like all advertising, you do what’s worked before and hope it will work again. See, in the advertising world if you try something once and it gets the results you were hoping for, it’s PROVEN. Never mind that maybe it was luck, and next time it will flop. It’s PROVEN TO WORK! So while this chair keeps hammering at implementing my ideas, I’m less enthusiastic about it… because yeah, they may work, but then again, they may not.

The reality is that the church is in dire straights, without enough income to pay the monthly bills, let alone the repairs that need to be done to the façade. We don’t have enough money nor manpower to really do half the things I’ve suggested.

And now, the new pastor (yeah, another one) wants to split the evangelism committee into two groups: one for current members, and one to drum up new members. Naturally, they asked me to head the new committee.

And miraculously, I somehow mustered the wherewithal to say NO.

See, I know me. Unless I’m really excited about a project, I’ll procrastinate and put it off until the last possible minute. If it’s an open-ended task, I may blow it off altogether. Plus, I already have a couple of other projects starring me in the face, daring me to get off my ass and just do them.

And yeah, I feel a little shitty about it, since it’s basically my own laziness preventing me from maybe doing something good for this good little church. I dunno. I’m willing to pitch in, I just don’t want to run the show.

Guilt. Shame. Uneasiness. I guess I have found religion after all.



Back to work. The vacation was enjoyable, but tempered to a great deal for missing my girls. All three of them. Next year, I’m seriously considering skipping this annual outing if The Scientist can’t come with me. It just makes me too lonely.

Managed to get sick the last day. I was feeling low Saturday and Sunday, but I feel pretty decent right now, expect for the head full of cotton. I’m not sure if this is the death-throes of the virus I’m feeling, or the after-effects of the Nyquil. That stuff hits me like a Mack truck… 20 minutes after taking the suggested dose (or, ahem, maybe a bit more) I’m passed out and drooling.

I appear to have rebounded quicker than usual to this round of illness, a miracle that I attribute to Airborne. Perhaps it’s all in my head, but this “unique natural formula of seven Herbal Extracts, Antioxidants, Electrolytes, and Amino Acids” seems to get me up and on my feet sooner than plain old Tylenol.

In other news, I returned from vacation with a big abrasion above the bridge of my nose. Those who know me will not be surprised by this, but I’m waiting for my co-workers to say something. I’ve already noticed that eyes wonder up to my nose during conversations, but no one has been brave enough to comment yet. When someone does, I think I’ll say, “I got in a fight” and leave it at that. Makes me more mysterious.

Just realized that this post is all over the place, and makes minimal sense. Must be the drugs. Or maybe it’s the “Isatis Root” in the Airborne.

More when my senses have returned.



Couple of quick things:


Tomorrow I leave for a week’s camping trip sans wife and children. Here’s hoping that I don’t get soaked or broiled. But the truth is, I’ll probably get soaked then broiled. Nana and Pop-pop are in town to help with domestic life, so I don’t feel too guilty about leaving. But I shall certainly miss my girls.

Don’t expect any updates until after I return in a week.


New Comic Book Guy is awesome! You may recall that I was a little worried about the change in staffing, but it’s working out great. New Comic Book Guy is much younger, and is always on the phone… but he still hops to and gets me my pull when I walk in. Hasn’t learned my name yet, but that will come. We’re well along the road to a speechless relationship. And! The other day I asked if he had issue #1 of a book I missed, (Gaiman’s Eternals, in case you’re curious) and he told me he’d re-order it for me. And he did!

Being that this is his job, it might not sound so amazing, but in the past Old Comic Book Guy would have said something like, “Huh, I think we sold out of that issue” and left it at that. And on the few times I asked him to reorder me a book, it just never happened. So I’m not quite ready to confess my love of New Comic Book Guy, but I am in like with him.

Keep your fingers crossed!


Just found this blog with the clever name of “Dad Gone Mad.” In it, he refers to his wife as “Hot Wife” much as I refer to mine as “The Scientist.”

Hot Wife. Man, I wish I would have thought of that.


My reactions to the Sci Fi Channel’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” episode 3.

It appears that Stan Lee and the producers went out of their way to cast people who were not comic book fans… because no real fanboy would keep making the dumb mistakes these contestants do.

But first! The introduction of The Dark Enforcer! Lumbering foot-falls! Smoke! 80s-era strobe effects! Cool new costume, too. I bet that guy is glad to be done with that stupid cardboard gun. In great comic book tradition the villain is revealed in front of the heroes with great fanfare, and the heroes are shocked, shocked! To find it’s their former teammate, The Iron Enforcer.

Quick word about reality show editing: don’t trust anything you see. In last week’s previews of this episode, we clearly see Ty’Veculus shout, “What treachery is this?!” when The Dark Enforcer takes off his mask. However, in the real episode, he says, “What’s this?” in a noticeably less dramatic fashion. So what gives? No doubt Stan saw the take and said, “Hey, let’s do that again, but this time I want you to say ‘what treachery is this?’ … and really mean it!” So they did it again for effect. Happens all the time. Even the producers of the category leader, Survivor, have admitted to staging events to make for better TV.

And once again, our heroes miss a great opportunity. They keep acting like contestants on a reality show, and not real HEROES. As soon as the lights dimmed, they all should have jumped up, ready for action. I can almost hear Stan saying, “A hero has to be ready to confront evil at a moment’s notice!” But they just sit there until this strange man freely enters the lair. One of them should have shouted, “Heroes, prepare for action!” or something… Stan would love it! Speaking of which, here’s another missed opportunity: they aren’t acting like a team. Sure, they’re being eliminated two at a time, but until only one remains, they should band together. They should come up with a team name, too, and a battle cry! Can you imagine if they had their own version of “Avengers Assemble!” ? Stan Lee would wet his pants.

I so need to be on this show if they do a second season.

So anyway, The Dark Enforcer is introduced. He says a few threatening words, the heroes react, and he leaves. It seems a little odd that the heroes let this new menace just stroll away, especially since he knows their secret hide-out. But it makes sense of you think like a comic book character (or Stan Lee)… The Dark Enforcer hasn’t really done anything yet, so there’s no reason to gang up on him. But again, a missed opportunity… one of the heroes could have said something like, “Dark Enforcer, you were once one of us. Now, you are an enemy. But unlike you, we are able to show compassion. You are free to leave. But cross us or attempt to thwart our efforts at establishing justice… and you will pay the price!”


First challenge: go get takeout? Come on… clearly the challenge wasn’t really about your taste buds, there’s something else going down. Feedback even says, “It seemed so simple, I thought it might be a trap. But there were no cameras inside the restaurant.” What?! You’ve never heard of a hidden camera? Come on, man! Think!

So naturally, most of these dullards fall for the trap and reveal their secret identity to the actor playing the waiter. This is the big problem: it seems like none of these guys have figured out that they are on ALL the time… Stan is always watching. He wants REAL heroes, not actors who chuckle at the whole silly concept of dressing up in tights the moment the camera isn’t on them. ALL THE TIME! These guys have to figure that out sooner or later. Only Feedback really gets into it and says the magic words: “a hero never reveals his secret identity.” Awesome!

Stan calls for an elimination, and Monkey Woman is out. I feel bad for her, because she really busted her ass on the attacked-by-dogs challenge. But, she gave up her real name without even being asked for it, and it comes out that she’s really an actress, not a real estate investor as she originally told Stan. Mr. Lee doesn’t put up with no lyin’ heroes! Turn in your costume!

Sadly, no clever send-off by Stan. I hoped for a, “Monkey Woman, you’ve climbed your last tree.” But alas, no such luck.

Next up, a challenge to test the heroes’ courage. I thought walking across a beam blindfolded was pretty extreme, especially considering that Fat Momma isn’t exactly an athlete. But as soon as I saw that there was no harness or safety lines involved, it was obvious that they weren’t really risking anything. And it should have been obvious to the heroes as well… in this day and age of constant litigation, do you really think a TV show would put you in real risk of bodily harm? Of course not.

But The Dark Enforcer was there to… um, mildly pester the heroes? Blindfold them with their permission? This is the problem with a villain on a show like this… if he’s not actually living with them to instigate inter-lair personality conflicts or to make day-to-day living bothersome for them (“Hey, who didn’t flush! Enforcer!!”) then all he can do is show up for a challenge and hurl insults. Since I’m pretty sure that most challenges won’t be strictly physical in nature, what’s this big oaf to do? He isn’t even very good at acting intimidating, in my opinion.

Everyone makes it across and “saves” the woman (by the way, nice use of sexy twins, Stan). This makes elimination hard… no one failed and was automatically on the chopping block. So Stan makes them each stand up and declare who they think should be booted from the show.

And finally they get it! Or at least, some of them do. In Stan Lee’s universe, the ONLY correct answer can be “If someone has to go, it should be me.” Only Ty’Veculus and Fat Momma actually name someone else, which results -- surprise, surprise -- in them being in line for elimination.

Ty’Veculus is eliminated… and I have to say, for good reason. He was a little high and mighty, saying that Lemuria had “a lot of growing up to do” and shouldn’t be on the show. Strong work, jackass, please turn in your BMX helmet.

After the elimination, Fat Momma gets in everyone’s face and says that they only volunteered to be eliminated because “you know that’s what [Stan Lee] wanted to hear!” Well, no shit. The two geniuses who didn’t say what Stan wanted to hear were up for elimination. This all just plays back into Stan Lee’s desire to find a REAL superhero… someone who is living the hero lifestyle 24 hours a day. The sooner these dumbasses get that, the better off they’ll be.

So, only five heroes left: Lemuria, Major Victory, Fat Momma, Creature and Feedback. Who’s going to take it all? Fat Momma is definitely out… probably next episode. After Ty’Veculus left, she said, “It feels like my spirit is broken.” Stan won’t like to hear shit like that from his heroes, so she’s a short-timer. I think Lemuria is soon to go, too. She’s too quick to let Fat Momma get her riled up, a hero has to be above that sort of thing. And she’s still not owning the hero lifestyle. That leaves Feedback, Major Victory and Creature.

Feedback is starting to scare me. He’s a little too geeky and intense. Major Victory is clearly having fun on the show, and that helps. Stan likes his heroes to have a little personality. He’s still smart money.

But Creature is my new favorite to win. She was the underdog, performing poorly in the first couple challenges, but she’s started to grow into the hero role. And Stan loves heroes that overcome adversity and become the true hero they always were inside! Or some shit like that. If she keeps it together and doesn’t do anything dumb next show, I think she can do it.

Speaking of which -- next time! Conversing with convicts! Speaking poetically! Revealing their deepest, darkest secrets! Wonder if that includes the fact that Creature has naked pictures of herself on her website?

Tune in next week to find out!


#151 In which our hero has a challenging evening.

Last night was challenging. I’m a little stressed to start, because I’m leaving for a week-long camping trip on Saturday, and I have a bunch of stuff to get done before I’m ready to go. And when I get stressed about something -- which isn’t that often, thankfully -- I can tend to be, well, a bit of a dick.

I’m aware of it, (my therapist is very pleased with the progress I’ve made) and I try hard not to manifest my dickness inappropriately. But last night?


Here’s the thing: it’s easy to forget that Lily is only two because she’s so articulate and level-headed. And you can reason with her. Well, sometimes. Other times, there is no reasoning with her, and it drives me up the wall. I’m predisposed to have a problem with children, I guess, because I hate to repeat myself. If I am reasonable and clear the first time I tell you something, why should I ever have to repeat it? Wait, don’t answer that, I already know: because the person I’m talking to is TWO.

Lily’s big thing right now is that she “don’t want to.” My preciously little angel don’t want to do damn near anything it seems. “Lily, it’s time for dinner.” “I don’t want to eat dinner!” “Come on Lily, it’s time for your bath.” “I don’t want to take a bath!”

And on, and on, and on.

We try hard to be good parents, and not ever tell our kids that they have to do something “because I said!” The other night Lily tried a couple of bites of something we were having for dinner, then said she didn’t like it. So we didn’t force her, and she ate other things instead. Not a major deal.

But some things, like taking a bath or going to bed, just aren’t optional. You don’t get to dip a toe in the water then say you don’t like it. Especially when you’re filthy from playing outside all day. So last night everything was a challenge. I don’t want to eat dinner! I don’t want to go inside! I don’t want to take a bath! I don’t want to go to bed!

I tried to distract her with funny faces and asking her what she did today, etc., but it wasn’t working. I finally deposited her in her bed (I don’t want to stay in bed!) and turned out the light. I retreated to my bedroom, only to hear this:
I don’t want to be in bed! Daddy! I don’t want to be in bed! I don’t want to be in bed! I don’t want to be in bed! Daddy! Daddy! I don’t want to be in bed! I don’t want to be in bed! I don’t want to be in bed! I don’t want to be in bed! Bwaaaa! I don’t want to be in bed! Bwaaaa! Bwaaaa-AAA!
I went in once to reassure her that yes, I hear you, I’m not ignoring you, but you have to go to bed. It’s dark outside. Everyone is going to bed. It’s night-night time. Lay down! I left her and the complaints continued.

The red rage built in my skull as I tried to deal. I don’t want to get into the habit of rushing to her side every time she complains about something, so I let her cry a bit. She needs to know that crying isn’t going to get her what she wants. Unless what she wants is Daddy to develop a brain aneurysm.

Finally, The Scientist intervened. She was afraid that Lily’s crying would wake up Macey, and she was right in that if that happened, NO ONE would be happy, for hours. She had a discussion with the little girl, which actually ended up in a spanking. The Scientist calmly explained that it was night time (Ha! I tried that!) and that it was dark outside (that, too!) and that she needed to lay down in bed (strike three!). But Lily turned the corner when she continued to stand up in bed and refused to lay down, as The Scientist asked. Reportedly, it went down like this:
MAMA: Lily, you need to lay down in bed.
LILY: [shakes head no].
M: Lily, you know you have to listen to me, right?
L: [Nods yes].
M: Okay, then please lay down.
L: [Shake, shake].
M: Okay, honey, I’m going to count to three.
L: [Nod, nod]
M: And you know what happens when I get to three, right?
L: I get a spanking on my hiney?
M: That’s right. One… two…
L: [Shake, shake].
M: Lily, do you really want me to get to three?
L: [Shake, shake].
M. I didn’t think so. Okay, I’m going to start over. One… two…
L: [Shake, shake]
M: Three.

And then the spanking. One quick swat to the butt later, Lily was crying softly as The Scientist held her, explaining that she has to listen and that mama doesn’t want to spank her, but will if she has to, and so on.

This just goes to prove that our little girl can listen to reason. But that sometimes that reason has to be delivered forcibly. To the hiney.


#150 In which our hero returns from a successful trip.

So, the trip to the cabin went well.

I got to catch up (briefly) with a couple of cousins I hadn’t seen in a long, long time and generally enjoy being with family. Well, wait… that’s a bit of bullshit, really. I did enjoy my time with family, but mostly I chased around kids.

In hindsight, it was a really ambitious outing… introducing our kids (2 ½ and 1 year old, you’ll remember) to a kinda primitive setting, having them sleep outside in a tent for the first time and trying to squeeze in some quality family time. We brought a ridiculous amount of stuff (tent, air mattress x2, crib, bedding x4, pillows, flashlights, high chair, potty chair…) set it all up Saturday morning and tore it all down Sunday morning. And it was a brand new tent so I wasn’t 100% sure of how it went up. Ugh.

Lily really enjoyed playing with her older cousins (ages 6 and 10, I think); some of the favorite games included “smacking things with sticks” and “filling up the wheelbarrow with dirt” along with a healthy dose of “can I play with your Gameboy? Can I now? Can I now? How about now?!”

Macey is just old enough to toddle off and pick up any rock, acorn or hunk of dirt in a two mile radius and stick it in her mouth. So both of these kids ended up filthy. After chasing them around for eight hours, Macey decided that she only wanted to sleep about an hour at a stretch. Come morning, The Scientist and I were both pretty punch drunk. The whining and crying that occurred while the car was being packed damn near pushed us both over the edge. I’ve noticed that when we’re in that state, most of our sentences tend to start out the same way:
Look, all I’m saying…
It’s not my fucking fault…
Hey, I didn’t want to…
Is that a fucking joke?
Christ! What’s taking so long…
And go downhill from there. But both girls were asleep 15 minutes after leaving, which made for a pleasant car ride.

All the Uncle John drama I feared did not come to pass, at least, not on the surface. He did seem older to me; older than I’ve seen him in some time. But at least he got to meet my kids.

So now, back to business as usual. That is, if Macey would just sleep through the night. I’m seriously considering putting her in the car overnight. I mean, She slept for three hours straight on the car ride home… maybe she’d sleep all night?

Relax, I’d roll down the windows.



My reactions to the Sci Fi Channel’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” episode 2.

Holy crap, this show just gets better and better! Stan Lee piles on the cheese until nothing remains but a creamy soufflé of reality show delight!

The first challenge is running past attack dogs while wearing a bite suit. Pretty typical reality show fare, we’re seen this on Fear Factor and other shows before. I’m waiting for the twist, like one of the dogs has a thorn in it’s paw and you have to pull it out… but no. Seems like a pretty straight-forward challenge. As expected the woman have a hard time with it, and all the men make it. Except for The Iron Enforcer! He gives up when he’s mere inches away from the goal… how can this be? In the after interview he says, lamely, “I don’t know what happened.” Well, now WE know what happened… more on that later.

Full props to Monkey Woman. While you can never really trust reality show editing, it appears that she dragged herself forward while those dogs bit the shit out of her. It took her 10 minutes, but she reached the goal. Pretty impressive. Of course, Stan was impressed, too; telling her he was “very proud of her” in the next video conference. Stan comes across a little patriarchal at times, but I guess the guy is old enough to be the great grandfather of most of these contestants, so I’ll give him a pass.

And then! Surprise elimination! The producers aren’t screwing around, they’re booting people left and right. On the chopping block is everyone who didn’t make it (except Fat Mama… she gets a pass from Stan. Probably because she tried to distract the dogs by throwing them donuts from her utility belt. She’s using her powers! Stan eats it up!): Cell Phone Girl, The Iron Enforcer, Creature and Lumuria.

I was sure it was going to be The Iron Enforcer. And here’s where the producers threw me: we’ve seen Cell Phone Girl in a different (and improved) costume on the website, making me think that she made it to the new costume challenge. But no! Cell Phone Girl is out, mostly for bitching about having a headache. When are these people going to get it? Stan wants you to be a superhero ALL THE TIME. And I’m not saying you can’t complain, but you have to COMPLAIN LIKE A SUPERHERO. All Cell Phone Girl had to say was that “local radio interference” was causing her powers to fluctuate or some such shit and Stan would have eaten it up! But she doesn’t and she’s given the boot. Stan in his awesomeness tells her, “Your minutes are up.” Excelsior!

Finally, the “challenge” I had been waiting for… new costumes! This is just the fanboy in me, but I was really excited to see what the producers would do to improve the costumes the contestants made themselves. And, it made for the most cheesetastic moment of the evening!

Each superhero was brought into a room to talk to Stan, via TV screen, of course. I love it that Stan won’t actually appear in person with them at any point. I’m sure the Big Brother act is all BS and that Stan is right there on set with them, probably talking to a camera is the next room. But I love the effect.

Lemuria is first. She needs the most help, since her current costume is a disco-era gold jumpsuit. And her boobs are in danger of popping out at any moment. Which is 100% true to the comic book universe, but the producers don’t want to spring for extra pixilation costs.

So lab coated A.I.M. agents spring into action and measure her for new duds. She’s led into a closet, the doors close AND! The house rumbles! Cheesy lighting effects shine from under the door! The doors open again, spilling out clouds of smoke to reveal! The NEW Lemuria! Her new golden suit still shows plenty of cleavage, but the nip-slip worry is removed. Not bad.

As an aside, “Lemuria” ? I guess she’s trying to express luminosity, light powers, or something, but I still thinks it’s a dumb name. And I just can’t get past the fact that “Lemuria” is also the name of a lost undersea continent in the Marvel Universe. But this woman has probably never read an issue of The Sub-Mariner in her life.

One by one, all the other superheroes get new suits. Most are just better constructed and shinier versions of what they came with, especially Feedback. Guy looks like he fell into a vat of Armor All. Monkey Woman is actually showing a little less skin after the makeover… very surprising. But Creature (my new dark horse to win this thing) is still decked out in very little.

Of special note is Ty’Veculus. He’s clearly being set up when he comes out in a ridiculous soft-shape costume, complete with a stupid feathered helmet. But, even though he hates it, he tells Stan he loves it. Feedback actually mocks him when Ty’Veculus rejoins the group (a move that would bite him in the ass later). Ultimately, he reveals his dislike to Stan, who allows him to put on his old costume. But oh, what a missed opportunity for Ty’Veculus! All he had to do was make up something like, “I wear a costume not to disguise my identity, but to augment my powers -- and this isn’t doing it” and Stan would have been all over it. “A hero must always be true to himself,” I can hear Stan saying, “In costume or out.”

Then! Elimination time again! On the chopping block this time are Ty’Veculus, for lying to Stan about how he liked his costume; Feedback, for making fun of Ty’Veculus’ costume; and The Iron Enforcer, for… for I don’t know what, exactly. Stan gives a lame explanation, citing how he’s not very well liked in the lair, and “something wasn’t quite right” during the makeover.

The smart money was on Feedback to go, for cracking jokes at Ty’Veculus’ expense. But no! It’s The Iron Enforcer for, um, what exactly again? I’m about to call bullshit about the arbitrary way he was eliminated… but wait! Stan “The Man” Lee has a huge twist up his sleeve! Oh, Stan, how could I have ever doubted you?

As The Iron Enforcer dejectedly walks down the street, Stan suddenly pokes up (on a closed-circuit TV someone conveniently left atop a pile of trash in the alley) and makes The Iron Enforcer a deal: he’s a crappy superhero, but he’d make a great supervillain! Would he be willing to work with Stan to “make the superheroes life very difficult”? The Iron Enforcer is in! A.I.M. comes roaring up in a van and one cheesy lightshow later he’s transformed into The Dark Enforcer! The superheroes now have an arch nemesis! AWESOME!

Man, oh man. ALL BETS ARE OFF! Suddenly, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” has morphed from reality show to soap opera. Was The Iron Enforcer in on it all along? Of course he was. It’s just way too convenient that he was abrasive and no-one liked him, and now he’s a villain. So who else is a plant? A quick search on IMDb shows me that most of the contestants have credits and are in the business in some fashion. Only Cell Phone Girl (who’s already gone), Nitro G (also gone), Fat Mama and Ty’Veculus have no Hollywood credits to their name… we can probably assume that they are real people and not plants. The Iron Enforcer doesn’t have listed credits either, but I’m not buying it for a second that he’s not working for Stan.

So now I expect the cheese to be cranked up by a factor of a billion. Previews from next week show Ty’Veculus shouting, “What treachery is this?!” when the new Dark Enforcer makes the scene.

What treachery, indeed? Only Stan knows for sure.


Entry #149 In which our hero talks about the cabin.

Yesterday I asked The Scientist, “hey, are we doing anything this weekend?” To which she replied, “Ye-ah, we’re going to the cabin!” To which I had to say, “Jesus, how did I forget that?”

My family owns a small hunting cabin in the Allegany National Forest Reserve in Pennsylvania. This cabin has been in my family for probably 50 years. It’s not fancy… matter of fact it doesn’t even have running water. But there is electricity. It can sleep 10 comfortably. We’re expecting about 16 this weekend.

I love it up there. It’s deep in the forest and far from the road noise and light pollution of big cities. My childhood involved at least three trips up there every year; visits in which I’d hike the trails (including a rather harrowing getting lost experience when I was about 13), help gather wood for the campfire, go deer-spotting at night, roast marshmallows and hotdogs over the fire, drink way too much soda and laugh and play with my cousins. Every night we’d play penny-ante poker, usually under the auspices of my grandfather (who was actually a bit of a bastard, but kids are quick to forgive) who would fill the tiny cabin with clouds of sweet-smelling cigar smoke.

In time, my three older sisters would abandon the cabin, having either moved too far away or simply losing interest. But I still went up every year, driving as long as necessary to get there.

August is a special time for the cabin. My Mom’s side of the family gathers for a family reunion of sorts, with plenty of eating and drinking and bullshitting. I’ve always been among the youngest, so I don’t have to prepare anything and have no responsibilities other than getting myself there. A weekend getaway in a beautiful forest setting with all the food and drink I want for FREE? Yeah, I’ll pay for a tank for that.

But this year is different.

It’s different in that now we have kids, and it will be Lily and Macey’s first trip up to the cabin. Since bunk space is at a premium, we’re bringing a tent… I’m a little concerned that Lily will be freaked out by sleeping outside, but that kid takes so much in stride my worry is probably unfounded. No, I’m more worried about my Uncle John.

A little history.

I’m not sure when the cabin first came into my family’s possession, but it’s upkeep fell to my grandfather and grandmother for most of the early years. They even lived up there full-time for a bit. After they died, the care of the cabin (including paying its property tax, etc.) fell to three couples: my Mom and dad, my Aunt Joyce and Uncle John, and my Uncle Frank and Aunt Maryann.

My father died in 1993. This was a blow to everyone, but trips to the cabin continued, more or less uninterrupted.

My Aunt Maryann died in 2001. In many ways, this was a bigger blow. Not just because the usual crew was now down by one-third, but because after Maryann died, Frank refused to return to the cabin. He said he just couldn’t deal with being there without his wife. Not only was that heartbreakingly sad, but it was a bit of a problem in that Frank is the handy one. He’s the guy with tools and the know-how to fix a leaky roof or replace a broken window. Some of that responsibility has fallen to me… and Lord knows I’m not especially handy.

And earlier this year, my Aunt Joyce died. Her death is especially hard for me, for a couple of reasons. Her illness (actually, a brain tumor that took a little while to diagnose) came on suddenly late last year. She was fine, then she started having seizures. What followed was a long, painful year in which she seemed to get better, then relapsed. She had chemo and radiation, people were hopeful, then she got worse. During this time I was reminded that she had never met my children, and she wanted to. Before it’s too late, was the unspoken coda.

By this time, my Aunt Joyce sometimes had trouble recognizing or remembering people. I wanted to bring the girls to see her, but not if she was so out of it that it wouldn’t matter. Mom kept me updated, and it seemed she was getting better. So I waited, hoping that she would rally and we could have a pleasant visit in which my children got to spend some quality time with my favorite aunt.

As it turned out, I waited too long. I see now that Mom’s reports were colored with a unrealistic dose of optimism, making her sister’s condition sound better than it really was. She died, almost a year to the day after being diagnosed. My children will never know their Great Aunt Joyce, or really understand why she was a favorite.

As plans were being made for the traditional August trip, John declared that he wasn’t going to go. Not so soon after Joyce’s death. “I’m just not ready,” he told my Mom.

The usual cabin crew was down to one.

Not that Mom would be the only person there, far from it. My Aunt Joan is coming, and her daughters. My youngest sister is coming, with her two boys. My Uncle Jim is coming as well. And a few others. It’s going to be a full house. But mom would be the only member of the usual cabin crew.

But I talked to Mom last night, and it turns out John is coming. I don’t know what motivated the change in heart, but I’m glad for it. I’m also apprehensive. Next month would have been my Uncle John and Aunt Joyce’s 40th wedding anniversary.

I can’t even imagine.

This year is The Scientist and my 5th anniversary (that’s the wood anniversary, if you’re curious). I’ve now been with my wife longer than I’ve been with any woman in my life. And I’ve only been with her 1/8th of the time as my aunt and uncle were. How do you recover from something like that? How to do you live with someone for four decades, only to have them suddenly and permanently removed from your life?

I hope this weekend is as full of laughter as it always has been. I hope it’s not too soon for my Uncle John to return to the place that’s been so important to our family for so long. I hope John beats the socks off of everyone at the poker table.

And I hope that the usual cabin crew doesn’t dwindle any further for a long, long time.


#148 In which our hero talks about a coworker.

I work with this one guy who is… um, jeez, how to explain? He’s not retarded, not in a clinical sense. It would be easy to say “Boy, he’s crazy!” And this is said around the office, and often, but it’s not really accurate. Again, in a clinical sense. And not even in a “you so cra-zee!” sense.

When explaining him to The Scientist, I think I called him “socially retarded,” which is closer to the fact, but still not really hitting the target. I think the bottom line is that the guy just lacks the ability to communicate with other humans.

This is made all the worse in that we work at an advertising agency, which is all about communication. Which means that, by and large, the people who choose to work in advertising can communicate thoughts and ideas in a clear, succinct fashion.

Not this guy.

He tends to ramble a bit, and goes off on tangents that not only don’t make sense, but seem completely out of left field. Sometimes, if you listen closely enough, you can discern what he’s getting at. For example, for the recent bean count, the jar containing the beans had two strips of masking tape covering the threads that read “DO NOT OPEN JAR.” I happened to be there when this guy walked up, looked at the jars and said, “It’s just like Watergate!”

He said it with a smile, and it was clear he was trying to make a joke… but everyone, in unison, looked at him with a clear WTF? look on their faces. Thing is, I sorta got what he was saying… the jar were sealed with tape, like evidence in a police investigation. And I guess Watergate = Famous Police Investigation, even though I don’t think most people make that jump in logic. He could have said, “it’s like evidence in a murder investigation!” which might have made more sense… even though it’s still not funny.

But even though my industry is about communication, it’s not uncommon to come across someone who just doesn’t do it very well. In my experience, that’s been mostly graphic designers, like this guy. This makes a kind of sense, in that these guys can express themselves visually, and don’t necessarily need to use words. Usually, when you have a designer like this they get it that they’re not the strongest public speakers. These are the guys who come into my office 10 minutes before the client presentation and say, “Um, do I need to say anything in this meeting? Or are you going to handle it?” And when I say I can do all the talking, the look of gratitude in their eyes is moving.

But again, not this guy.

I was in a client presentation with him once and he barreled straight ahead, oblivious to the fact that the client was clueless about what he was trying to say. Thank God it was a conference call and they weren’t sitting right there across the table. At one point the account executive literally tried to wave him off, gesturing with her hands like a road worker trying to steer a sleepy driver away from construction.

In all fairness, he’s a nice guy. And if he was brilliant at his job, I’d give him a complete pass. That’s my workplace policy: you can be a complete pain in the ass, but if you do good work, all is forgiven. But from what I can tell, he’s okay at his job. I have yet to see anything from him that really blows me away.

As there’s about a dozen other designers and I don’t really work with him too often, it wouldn’t be an issue except for one thing: he likes my sofa.

He’ll occasionally wonder in and plop down. What follows is a halting conversation about… Jesus, I don’t even know what. He generally says something nonlinear and I smile and agree, hoping he’ll get up and leave. He’ll usually add, “I just want to sit on the couch for a minute,” which is vaguely creepy, but that’s the price you pay when you bring furniture in to your office. Finally, he’ll get up and wonder off, presumably to bother other people with odd ramblings and nonsensical comparisons.

Or, as he might say, “It’s like building an airplane out of cheese!”