Sunday, February 27, 2005

Round and Round and Round He Goes...

Listening to: My Head Screaming and About To Explode

A long-ish and involved post went BUH BYE, goddammit goddammit goddammit, Blogger is gonna get ya' one of these days, I knew it. I've pontificated about copying/pasting
before posting and then I went and hit the 'publish' button and TA DAH! Took me to a the sign in page. Fuckity fuckity fuck fuck fuck. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

OK, Blogger. Why do you do that? Why don't you save the work?

Hell, I know I'm preaching to the choir, here. Back to see if I can re-write my entry from memory....

Friday, February 25, 2005

Wake Me When the Trees Have Filled Out Their Leaves and the Birds Are Singing

Listening to: Frank Zappa, Hot Rats

Tonight, single full-time dad takes advantage of X having the brood and steps out to see a friend's band perform. From what my buddy tells me, his group has a kind of garage/punk sound (this year's flavor, of course) and I'm anxious to see how they pull that off. God, I hope they're not another "Jet" (although I like their hit) and in deferrence to my enduring internet crush on Glitzy, I hope they're like the Monkees with a lot of Cream thrown in.

If you're out and about this way, I'll be the guy in the black crushed velvet bell bottoms, wide-collared striped cotton shirt, and braod-toed platform shoes. Yes, my fashion sense has much to be desired and I don't need anyone telling me there might be a reason why I'm still single. Momma don't dress me, Pappa don't mess, and a bird in the hand is as rare these days as a moment of my mind not playing Mia's "Galang" to me (it's turning out to be a good year for me).

Back to dad tomorrow, briefly, as I pick Lilly up and take her a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese (AKA, Zero Population Growth Conspiracy). Then, back here for more of this where I'm delluded by my impression that this corner of the universe is interesting, where Sisyphus winks and snickers. Alas, you get what you pay for but I get the sense that my motivation is back, in spades (the high suit), and my babbling is about to take on a new, ebullient nature.

God help us all.
Addendum: RE: a question Seeingdouble asked in my HST post. I am no pacifist, I believe there are just wars. Had I been young enough to volunteer, I would have been in Afghanistan hunting down Usama bin Laden, had I been old enough, I would have been in Europe working to defeat Hitler. It saddens me that our current administration has put people in such an economic bind that they need to enlist in a Rich Man's Adventure and fight for corporate interests. Saddam Hussein was a bad man, sure, but no immediate threat to our country. Indeed, George W. Bush has done far more harm to the US than Saddam could have ever done.

Draw whatever conclusions from that statement that you wish.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

While You're Reading This, I'm Reading That or Whatever

Listening to: Love, Forever Changes

Posting light, I know. My mood has been pensive and book-ish, surrendering to my late-February craving for the written word.

Reading has always been, for me, as necessary as breathing. I'll read the back of a soup can if there's nothing else available. Why this time of the year further whets my appetite is a mystery to me although I tend to think it has something to do with the climate. At six-foot-one and 145 pounds soaking wet, I should probably be packing on the carbs instead of the pages but that's the hand I was dealt. The weather outside is frightful and my hunger's beyond a bite full...

Should a likewise book-loving, wine-sipping, neck-nuzzling partner appear to accompany me through these winter nights, the sub-title to this blog would change.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

R.I.P. H.S.T.

Listening to: The Velvet Undergound, Velvet Undergound (Banana Album)


My post was not really getting much attention mostly because after a long day of running therapy groups, I was all talked out. The material I chose to post on, how to keep your child from being drafted into the military by establishing a record of conscientious objection, was certainly something I could be passionate about. But then I heard the news today, oh boy.

He blew his mind out in a palatial cabin in Pitkin county, about 150 miles west of here. That blew my mind. Had the news been that Hunter S. Thompson died in a motorcycle accident or was blown to bits by explosives or trampled to death in a soccer riot, I could have conceived of his passing as the logical conclusion to a strange and twisted life. But suicide is troubling, it always is. With suicide the survivors are always left wondering why, what could I have done, what was so insurmountable that they decided to pull their own number? Suicide is, by and large, a stupid, self-centered, cowardly act - adjectives I never thought I'd apply to Dr. Thompson.

As Drudge says, "developing". There's no way for me to know right now what was going on in HST's world, whether he'd been recently diagnosed with a slow, painful death or... well, I can't think of another rationale for suicide. Even then (and if that diagnosis was indeed the case), HST was a coward because he couldn't face his demise. God forbid, if I was given a similar diagnosis, I know I'd hang on to the end until the pain was a constant, unbearble, and I was unable to think about anything else than hoping for a hasty end. Then, and only then, you can hand me the hemlock.

Three authors heavilly influenced my life during my senior year in high school, determining the direction I'd take as I took my baby steps into adulthood - for better or worse (and the jury is still out on that). Hunter S. Thompson was one of the triumvirate of the dog-eared, well-penciled, bookmarked-beyond-reason radicals who helped define what my world could look like if I could break free of the stupefying drudgery of mass culture. A young man needs his heroes, an exemplar, a mentor to guide him to meaning amidst the banality of middle-class America. HST spoke with authority, a booming voice that could end a bar brawl as easilly as it called out the hypocricy of reactionary swine. He was a giant amongst obsequious pygmies.


So distracted, the Velvet Underground is over and I put on the Liars, Fins Make Us More Fish-Like just for the cut, Pillars Were Hollow and Filled With Candy, So We Tore Them Down. Perfect for my bitter, resentful mood of betrayal. It wasn't supposed to happen like this. Not a self-inflicted gun shot to the head.

It's just as well. I'm too old for heroes now, been making my own way for far too long without having to genuflect in an empty apse of noise. Hunter S. Thompson stood for something and then negated it all with craven nihilism. Standing on the shoulders of a giant, I was able to see that while heroes may fall, principles may not, even in the face of betrayal. Stepping off those shoulders, I was forced to seek the truth for myself and it's a good thing I did. The shadow of a falling giant is the last place I want to be.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Qui c'e tanto freddo. Segga vicino al fuoco... Aspetti... un po di vino...

Listening to: Giuseppe Verdi, La Boheme (Krajan, BP, 1972, Pavarotti & Freni)

One person in a hundred here will know that tomorrow, at 1:30 P.M. (my time), the Met will present this year's last performance of La Boheme on it's Saturday broadcast. Confessin' the blues, I'll be listening, to see if Ruth Ann Swenson's "Mimi" has evolved into anything spectacular. The initial reviews were "eh-eh, we'll see". I want to see. Or hear. See.

The wonderful thing about the Met on Saturday's is you never know if you're going to get that performance that makes you pump your fist into the air, "Oh YEAH!!!" you howl while doing a victory dance on the coffee table.

As I've admitted here before, I'm queer. I like opera, ergo, I'm a fairy. The Stonewall Riot occured after two NYC cops eavesdropped on a couple of immoral deviants talking about opera, which clued the cops into the notion that they might be sitting in a gay bar. Talk about opera, you're queer, QED.

Well, tell Dr. Dobson that absorbent and yellow and porous is me because tomorrow, I'm tuning into the Met.

My introduction to aural sex and rampant rhapsodomy came when I was a mere lad of seventeen, a drama jock (my emergence as a drama QUEEN would not commence until I'd heard the pink propaganda opera music), one of those sensitive and poetic dark types at the cofee shop, except on water skis, at the lake. The downtown sophisticates and deviants in the local community theatre used to meet on saturdays for the Met, playing it loud and drinking prodiguously, cheap wine, homemade kahlua and sticky, green mota.

Sufficiently doobaged and drunk, I was primed to be pumped by opera, oh god, I was greased and ready to go. Give it to me. Bitch. Oh yeah. Opera lovers had recruited me into their dissolute circle of giddy aestheticism. Been so tainted ever since.

The Saturday Met broadcast ritual continues to this day, pared down, sans bacchanal. Likewise, my household gets it's fair share of opera, from time to time. No one covers their ears and everyone endures.

Sometimes Lilly says, "Play some opera except none of the singing." That's silly I say, opera is all about the singing.

I don't mind exposing my children to subversive, depraved music. Sure, there's a lot of death and dying in in opera, so what? Death in opera is where everything culminates, art and narrative and beauty and everything ends, intimately, comprehensively, emotionally. In opera, death is not just a statistic, no atonal media freak show; it matters. I would rather my children witnessed a thousand stentorian deaths in opera than one second of sterilized carnage on television.

Life is not cheap in opera. If you're one of those people who say they'd rather die than sit through an entire opera, think about what that really means. Really means. And then see if it's not worth a listen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Newsweek Deems Dads As Interesting As the Jeff Gannon Story

Listening to: PJ Harvey, To Bring You My Love

There's no doubt in my mind that Judith Warner's "Mommy Madness" cover story from the latest issue of Newsweek is linked on the Poopy Diaper Corner of Blogotopia like Magen David on mamaleh's charm bracelet, pro, con, and my-god-I-don't-have-time-to-read-this. Then there's me, loathe to follow the Madding Crowd (Be the Obscure) but compelled to because, well, being hoisted by my own petard is my mid-winter ritual. The moms who read the article may be screaming for my blood after they read this review.

In my own defense (having a distinct affection for my few pints of blood), my purpose here is slamming the article and not moms. So chill, ladies, you'll probably agree with me that although Warner raises a few good points in the article, she keeps the focus limited to moms.

Thing is, if you check my resume, I think all the qualities of "mom" are included in the "skills and abilities" section. Except, according to the Newsweek article, I'm a Barbie Mom - anatomically incorrect. Stale if-I-had-THAT-I'd-never-leave-the-house cracks aside, the article had me feeling isolated. Many of the issues that Ms. Warner identified rang true to me: lack of decent childcare in this country, corporate apathy to the plight of parents, economic stressors, and yep, the thud you hear is my head pounding the wall. However, most of the article had me feeling like Marvin the Martian peeping through his humongous telescope, "They're so naughty and so complex. I could pinch them."

Indeed, Dads were barely mentioned and if they were, they were summarily dismissed as stone-age stereotypes oblivious to the weight of wifey's cape and codpiece. If there are SAHDs (much less, like myself, SSAHDs) dealing with the complexities of modern parenthood, they slipped well beneath Warner's radar. Tell me if I missed a dads-as-moms mention (between the bazillion calls for juicy boxes and the mountain of dirty laundry, my attention-span is shot) but the article might as well have been a piece from the Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell cover and ads for the Edsel included. According to Ms. Warner, it's women brining up baby while dad naps on the couch, calls for a beer, and complains about Y.A. Tittle not starting often enough for the Giants.

However, not all my issues were gender oriented. Ms. Warner's examples of stressed-out Super-Mom wannabe's might as well have been characters from an Ayn Rand novel (had Ayn a heart instead of a hunk of kryptonite). An anchorwoman. A Dartmouth grad. A writer for a major weekly magazine. A Ph.D. candidate. If any of those women were at the park this past Monday, they weren't sitting at my bench. If the article was meant to appeal to heartland America, the author forgot that Wal-Mart isn't just a name on a to-boycott list.

Are these girpes minor? I don't think so, considering that the article should have shed a little light on the travails of PARENTING in modern society, ability to lactate or not besides the point. Was the article a waste of time? Unless you're looking for an excuse to hang from a cross and gripe about your sagging boobs, oh yes, the article's birdcage bound. Considering that my life doesn't suck and it's a helluva lot harder than the women quoted in the article, it's hard to sympathize with congenital whiners. Considering I'm a dad and a mom and my type was not deemed worthy of two words in the article, it was nothing short of an insult.

UPDATE: Warner's article gets bashed so more on elfling's diary at DKos but with more of a left stab, of course.

AND HERE: M.A.D. Woman also slams the article, nicely (see comments).

AND HERE: Barbara Curtis at Mommy Life says, "Kwitcherbitchin'!"

AND HERE: Wendy at createahome also has problems with the yuppiefied pissing and moaning.

I went onto to the online discussion (transcript HERE) and was completely ignored. Apparently, unless you were kissing her ass or asking her for a good cookie recipe, Judith Warner didn't want to hear from you. Let's hope shilling and shameless self-aggrandizement is not a quality she's passing onto her brood.

The Slug Arises and Takes a Sip of Beer From the Saucer

Listening to: David Bowie, Low

RE: My previous post, the ill-fated contest entry that won't go anywhere. The dearth of posts here has been due to that fiasco, by and large. That and trying to fulfill my short fiction regime. I did have a post I was writing on Saturday night but ended up trashing most it. Really, my energy was devoted to composing the severely verbose post you see below.

I haven't even had much time to read my friends.

Grrrrrrrrr... on top of everything else, I'm looking at this blank template thinking, "What to write, what to write...." and it's infuriating, winding me up like a Dollar Store helicopter. I need some creative laxative; I need a damned vacation.

A few months back I took a weekend alone up in the mountains at a time share. No internet or TV, no cell phone, no contact with the world, just me and a good novel and my composition books, a little wine (a little too much wine one night but what the hell, I was alone...) and a couple of cigars to smoke on a sunny outcropping of stone. It was my escape from the madness of the election and the madness I found myself slipping into after taking full custody of my kids. For two days, I got to breathe.

I'm learning to breathe on a daily basis but sometimes, the air up here is rather thin, altitude and attitude rarifying everything to a thin powder. Guess there's no choice but to chop some up, give it a toot, have another hit of sweet air.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Unsigned Melody

Listening to: Giya Hancheli, Morning Prayer

Program note: This was the entry I meant to submit for The Zero Boss's "Blogging For Books" and my sorry ass thought the deadline was SIX P.M. on Monday, not 6 A.M., but oh well, if this entry doesn't make the cut, it was a nice dry run - and there's always March. You, my beloved readers, will go to bat for me, I'm sure. Unless you think this post is dry and pretentious and if that's the case, I assume you'll let me know.

Unsigned Melody

There’s something about spring that, since my early childhood, has charged me with possibility. Waking up in the morning with the window open, greeted by the smell of fresh-cut grass and the distant hum of lawn mowers, I always get the sense that good fortune is imminent, reward for enduring the harsh heart of winter. Everything’s green and glistening, like the cold glass bottle of coke that greeted me every afternoon after baseball practice.

Spring is my re-acquaintance with childhood, each day met with wide-eyed wonder and hope. Renewal, rebirth, a reaffirmation of faith that things change and, in the aggregate, change is for the better.

One spring night, many years ago, my band was playing in Denver. It was unusually warm for that time of the year and the doors of the bar were wide open, people spilling out onto the sidewalk during set breaks, excited, breathless, sweating. We’d just finished our second set and had joined the crowd outside when Shep, the bar owner, sought us out. “There’s a record company guy in there looking for you,” he said, “He’s bought you guys a round and wants to talk to you.”

It was 1991 and the major labels had a hard-on for anything that reeked of The Underground. Since every band in Seattle had been signed (whether they sucked or not); the A&R guys were rolling south to Austin and Denver was a regular piss stop for them.
I didn’t think we’d be on anybody’s radar, since we were relatively new (only about three years on the circuit) and hadn’t “paid our dues” proper. Yet, the hope of discovery was always in the back of my mind. After all, we were doing well and well, we were “alternative” and that was what was hotter than anything in the spring of 1991.

“What do you guys sound like?” I was asked all the time, to which I’d reply, “We sound like shit. But we get a lot of work playing for people who like to listen to shit. Shit sells.”
The Replacements meets Black Sabbath meets Talking Heads meets The Thirteenth-Floor Elevators meets the fat Elvis on acid. Something like that, but different, weirder, more out-there and more-or-less our own thing. The ultimate compliment to me was when people thought our covers were originals and our originals were covers.

Shep led us back inside to a table in the back where the A&R guy sat. He stood up when we approached, shook our hands, “Great show, guys,” he told us, enthused, “I love it. You guys are really rocking this place out. Everybody loves you here.”

The A&R guy had done his homework, said he’d seen our single doing respectable on a lot of college radio play-lists, “I love what you guys are doing,” he said, “love your guy’s sound. Edgy. I love edgy. The record company loves edgy.”

A lot of love, I’m thinking, Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine” playing in the back of my mind. Sure, a record deal is my ultimate dream, the culmination of all my fantasies, the chance to become something I never thought I could be.

For the past few months I’d shifted my focus as far as my music and where I wanted to take it. I’d been branching out, playing solo, just me and an acoustic guitar. Free of the noise of a band to back me gave me ample time to reflect, to wonder if I was as good a songwriter and composer as everyone was saying I was, if I really had the stuff to get to the next level.

I had my doubts. I wasn’t sure that I had what it takes and I was looking for something else to land on. Going back to school had been on my mind. We’d been playing at a lot of colleges and I was meeting people who were talking about things I wanted to be able to talk about. Making music was fulfilling a certain urge but a greater need tugged at me; I longed to learn.

Playing solo gigs not only allowed me to work out musical ideas, trying out covers of songs I loved but the band would never play, new originals that were too personal to play with the band, but it gave me a better sense of my limitations as a musician. I’d started my band career playing punk. Although I’d fooled with acoustic guitars here and there, it took me five years to finally buy an acoustic guitar and move past amplified and distorted noise. Electric guitars had allowed me to glide over mistakes but the acoustic was a stern mistress and immediately I noticed how sloppy my playing was.

More than that, playing solo brought back the spirit of my punk roots, the desperation, urgency, and immediacy, no bottom-line to consider but playing only for the sheer joy of making a racket. I played what I liked with no concern with who danced to it or how it went over and, in fact, I preferred that the audience sat and really listened.

In the midst of this, I was expanding my repertoire and my horizons, listening to musicians who were a million miles away from what I was doing with the band. The experience was disconcerting. As my ears became more discerning to other musician’s craft, as my mind opened to bold lyrical statements, my assessment of my own talents continued to diminish.

The A&R guy ordered us a round of drinks as we sat down, gave us the quick and dirty explanation of what we could expect from a contract. We’d get a small stipend to make the move to L.A. where we’d get “developed”, pay to play in places they’d booked us. We’d recoup that money from gate percentages, he assured us, but it was up to us how we managed our money and kept up with the bookings. We’d have to work day jobs but in the end, as we built a name, there was guaranteed money, for recording and distribution, touring, etc.

He left us with a sample contract and a business card, asked us to give it some thought and get back to him. Shep must have told him we were booked for the weekend in another two weeks because he promised he’d be back for the show if he hadn’t heard from us.

For the next couple of weeks, discussions about signing dominated band rehearsals. Of course the guys were gung-ho, ready to go in an instance but I held all the cards – I wrote all the songs – and I wasn’t sure I was prepared to pull up roots and go to Los Angeles. Yeah, it was exasperating to them, I know, but I was being pulled a thousand different ways by my ego, my doubts, my desire to go to college, the band’s desire to shoot for the moon. It was a lot to handle.

The drummer had his corporate attorney father look at the contract and aside from a few minor details, everything seemed copasetic. Everyone was asking me to call the record company and agree to sign. Everything was pointing to the notion that I should sign. And yet, something inside of me told me that I needed to wait.

When we returned to Shep’s bar, it was another warm spring night. We played ferociously, probably motivated by the expectation that we were about to break loose, into the big time, playing stadiums instead of bars, indulging every fantasy we’d ever entertained. It was one of the tightest most powerful gigs we ever played.

We closed the second set with a cover of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Shoot Out the Lights”, a song I’d brought to the band from my solo-acoustic exploration. God we were jammin’ it, searing it, stretching it out and soaring. I looked at the other guys on stage and we all three had that moment only a musician knows, that absolute transcendence of realization that nothing could sound this good, everything’s clicking, rocking, falling right into the place that the moment has provided for improvised perfection. I tell you, there’s no sex like it, no high like it, nothing compares.

I turned away from the guys to take the mic on the coda, buzzed, ebullient, my moment of satori extending into the final chorus as my realization became clear. Looking out into the bar I could see that the crowd was maniacal, frenzied, everything was perfect for the end of the set.

As we sat down to talk with the A&R guy, he asked Shep to get us anything we wanted. The guys ordered shots of Jameson’s; I ordered a cold bottle of coke. If we were going to hash out the details, I wanted a relatively clear mind.

The A&R guy told us he’d get us booked into top clubs for a lot less than going rate. We had to change our name, though, our name was owned. He wanted to get back to the company’s attorneys regarding the details on the contract we needed changed but said he’d didn’t foresee any problems and we should probably get together the next Monday to sign the papers.

The next day I filled out an application for the local University.

In the springtime, the optimist gets his wings; he doesn’t have to wait for a ringing bell, all he has to do is let the Earth turn. Good things are gonna’ come, they always do. “She’ll come back around,” says the optimist and sure enough, she always does.

I was never so sure. As I grew older and more cynical, I learned that a sure thing was a sucker’s bet. When we were playing “Shoot Out the Lights”, I realized I could never write something that confident, that compelling, that complete, never in a million years, I knew I could never reach those heights. No matter how good it felt feeling otherwise on stage, no matter what all the fans and bar-owners and record company agents said, I knew that my reach was sadly limited.

I did well in school, excelled in a way that I knew I couldn’t match playing music. Although I don’t dwell on what might have been, a day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about how things might have been different had I gone ahead and taken my shot. No regrets, none at all, and I have three beautiful children to attest to the fact that I made the right decision. But there are times when I’m out watching a band and thinking, “I could do that – I did that. And I did it better.”

Friday, February 11, 2005

Answer the Cry in the Night

Listening to: Miles Davis, Milestones

It was close to One A.M. and I was just finishing up the previous post when Zeke started crying. My experience says that most of the time he'll cry for a bit and then fall back asleep. Sometimes, however, he needs to be rocked back to sleep and that was the case last night.

"I want my dad-eeeee... I want my dad-eeeeee...," he was crying with that pathetic trill two-year olds do so well. I picked him up and his little arms spread across my shoulders, his head nestled beneath my chin. We rocked and I thought about how to be completely in the moment, to not take it for granted, to emboss the then-and-there indelibly into the totality of my time-line.

When I was working at the mental hospital there was a woman strapped down in one of the containment rooms, terrified, confused, lost to the torture of her psychotic mind. She must have been close to 40 but she was crying, "I want my mommmy! I want my mommy!"

The sadness of that situation tore at me because I heard my own children crying and I shuddered as I whispered my hope that my children would never be middle-aged and crying for their mommy or daddy. I went outside for some fresh air, some quiet, to let the sadness pass on into the night.

It was inescapable. As I tried to diminish the impact of that moment, I considered the children who would not cry for mommy or daddy because they knew they would get no comfort, only pain. A slap, a cigarette burn, a loathsome touch, an affirmation of being unwanted and disposable. If the poor woman in the padded room was in severe emotional pain, at least she had, in some remote corner of her mind, comfort in arms of mommy. So many - too many - will only have the straps and empty room, cries to no one in particular as the shroud of Haldol drags them into the dark.

Zeke got some comfort in my arms, rocking him back to sleep, but it was me who found the greatest comfort. Knowing he was safe and felt safe in my arms, indeed, the safest place he could conceive was my embrace. Everything right in the world right then, right there. There is no greater comfort.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Shit Happens and It Happens When I Shit

Listening to: John Coltrane, A Love Supreme

Self-critique time.

Amongst the various daddy blogs, I'm the most self-centered, meaning not many of my posts are of the Cutie-kiddie-quip-crap-filled-diaper type entry. I'm conscientious of that and Lord knows I try to recall some cutie-pie caper to relate but I'm almost always coming up empty-handed. I dunno, I listen to my kids and I adore the things they say but maybe my Wite-Out huffing habit has left me with severe memory loss. That and my Wite-Out huffing habit has left me with severe memory loss.

Another thing and I hate to admit it but my kids aren't nearly as cute as everyone else's. Not that we haven't tried to make them cute. However, the hours of "Be a Cute Kid" videos, the reams of training material, even the Cute Brood Team-building weekends have not made a dent. My kids are congenitally un-cute; they are cute-challenged.

Yep, they take after their dad.

Hovering inches above the cute vortex and inhering certain short-term memory deficits (inhaling correction fluid created genetic mutation), I've consigned my kids to either endless appearances on CNN commenting on their generation's version of the Scott Peterson case or being servers at Bennigan's. So you've been warned about the kind of dad I am. Having those hands dealt all around (it ain't no Celebrity Poker Showdown, I assure you), I make do with the cards I have.

Throughout the day I try to be pro-active, "Who wants juice? Milk? Cigarettes? Tranquilizers?” I'm trying to anticipate their needs, you never know when you're going to have to scream obscenities at an insurance agent or shoo off a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Or enjoy "Dad Time" alone on the throne.

Anticipating that, I'm pretty blunt. "Who needs to go potty now because Dad's about to camp out and stink up the joint and read and will be real cranky, as you know, real, real cranky, if you bug him, so who has to go or thinks they'll have to go in the next decade, for god's sake go now or you'll bygod go in a coffee can?" Followed by an emphatic, "Are you sure? You're absolutely sure? Are you really really really really sure"

I'm not screwing around. My constitutional calls, Nirvana awaits, assume the position of the Turd Lotus and enjoy the benefits of absolute bliss. Yet, as soon as I hike my legs just right and get a paragraph or two into my reading, just at the moment I get that first Oh Yeah movement - the door opens. Bet the house and Katy bar the door, inquiring minds want to know.

Locking the door is not an option, the noise is intolerable. Sounds of the kind of hell that you hope awaits Michael Jackson. The interruption is inevitable, an enviable regularity, "Dad-eeeeeeee, I need darr bar bar blah blah blah bluh rr-rrrrrrrr..."

See this? See what daddy's doing? Peek in the bowl and see if you find any floundering flying monkeys. Yeah, see? That's what I figured.

Dad's nailed to the seat and they know that. They've got to do that little power play, see who jumps and who holds fast to throne. Indeed, they conspire with ways to get me off the crapper, flood, fire, pestilence, the boom of something big crashing to the floor followed by the sound of running feet.

Today was a low-key affair. The door edges open with Marni peeking in with Zeke behind her, gotcha' back, sis.

We want to know why, if we have to share, you're not sharing your bubblegum with US.

"Yeah," Zeke reiterates, "Bub gum."

The cabal is all too obvious to me, Marni convincing Zeke that Dad has some hidden stash of Bubblelicious and it's within the reach of little fingers. Remember the great Chewy Runt raid? The Miniature Snickers mother lode? Marni convinces Zeke that Dad's must be fat with bubblegum somewhere.

I don't have any gum. No bubblegum, no quit-smoking gum, no grow-some-hair gum, no had-a-cocktail-at-lunch gum, no gum.

No gum, she affirms.


Well, you're going to have to buy some, she says, next time you go for groceries. Get milk and juice boxes and bubblegum. And then, you can share your bubblegum.

"Yeah, bub gum," chimes Zeke.

My little mafia at home, great. Lacking cute, my kids get reduced to a con job akin to give us money or we won't beat you up.

I reached over, closed the door, returned to my reading.

Oh, they'll refine the con but dad is always a step ahead, having done that same con on his dad as his dad did on his dad, and so on. My long-term memory seems fine and it tells me that the cons will become more elaborate and ridiculous. And I'll be shitting bricks, as my father was when I interrupted his constitutional, a car on fire and people jumping over the fence and cops in the driveway and dogs fighting.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Baby Bug Blowback

Listening to: Mixmania #1, Peace, Love, and Rock-n'-Roll

More on the music selection in a moment as I summarily dismiss "Mardi Gras, Part II".

After my last post I never made it back out to the party. A vicious malaise snuck up on me. Considering I'd avoided everything the kids had, I was wondering if and when my number would come up. Well, it came up and hit me with all the subtlety of porn spam. The downside was that the heel-shaking hurling was followed by fever, chills, and body aches. The upside was spending the rest of my weekend and all Monday on the couch, watching marathon History Channel; the four-part history of battleships was compelling stuff. Green tea, crackers, back issues of Rolling Stone I'd never read, and really, I only got in an hour of semi-consciousness for every ten hours of sleep.

If I weren’t feeling like shit in a specimen cup, I'd have thought I'd died and gone to slacker heaven (without the bong hits).

For all you wags who suggest it was just a two-day hangover resulting from Mardi Gras madness, stow it, my intake that evening was only moderately dipsomaniacal, a drop in the ocean compared to truly debauched benders of the past. By Carnivale or even local standards, I was a lowly Two on the inebriate scale (“Sixteensh” being Detox bound).

X was kind of enough to keep the brood. The kids were wonderful when they made it over here, merciful imps; at least no one dumped a mound of tuna casserole on the floor. I’m selling them short, they were angels, they really were.

So mixmania rocks, ya'll. Mamacita, thank you so much, excellent job. Some of it I knew, a lot of it I didn't (I really dig the 12 Girl Band's version of "Clocks").

The fun of sharing mixes is realizing the other mixer has included cuts I had considered (i.e. Jeff Buckley - THAT cut, in fact!) but especially cuts that make me go "Oh yeeeaaahhhhhh..." The Harvey Danger, man that grooved me so completely a few summers ago, an open the windows and play it loud, sing it and don't care who's watching, a beer-sloshing, air-punching song.

It's been my soundtrack all evening.

I turn forty-four in eighty-five minutes and I still feel twenty-two. Seventy Thousand things to get done this week and about fifteen free minutes to accomplish them. Convalescence might have caught me up on sleep but it killed my single dad efficiency coefficient. If time is money, I'm Bush and the budget, my grandkids will be paying this debt.

At least I have a sublime music mix to make the upcoming stress-out do-able.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Mardi Gras, Part I

Listening to: Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band, Trout Mask Replica

My lesbian neighbors/landlords invited me to hang out with them for Carnivale; if a fag hag is a woman who hangs out with gay guys, what am I? A "dyke spike"?

Being ear-deep in beads, it's obvious I've seen more nipple than any of my kids. Sweet.

Hippie town that I live in, all the bands play Grateful Dead, the Band, Dylan, tepahh, yepahh, yepahh, yahooooooo....

Oh, For the Days of Public Horse-Whipping

Don't know if any of you caught this on the Cable Nooze but I got wind of it from Atrios:
A Florida couple accused of torturing and starving five of their seven children were taken into custody Friday night in Utah after detectives were able to track their cell phone signals, authorities said.

Capt. Jim Cernich of the Sheriff's Office in Citrus County, Florida, said deputies in San Juan County, Utah, apprehended Linda Dollar, 51, and John Dollar, 58, on a road after recognizing their gold 2000 Lexus sport utility vehicle.
The accusations include pulling out the children's toenails with pliers and keeping them so malnourished they "looked like pictures from Auschwitz," authorities said.
In a 1995 DCF questionnaire, Linda Dollar wrote, "We have five adopted children and have seen what we can do to help those less fortunate, we can see so many children who need special care, love and an opportunity to be part of a warm, loving, caring home atmosphere."

The Dollars are accused of forcing the five children to sleep in a closet in the master bedroom with a "wind chime affixed to the door so that the Dollars would know if they tried to get out of the closet," Tierney said.

In addition, they are accused of using a cattle prod or some sort of stun gun to shock the children, securing them to spots in the house with chains, striking their feet with hammers and pulling out the children's toenails with pliers.

"There was evidence of damage or missing toenails of these children," Tierney said. There was no evidence of sexual abuse, she said.

If having these shitsacks spend the rest of their unnatural lives in prison is the worst we can do to these maggots, there is no justice. At the very least we should be able to paint them brown and ship them off to Gitmo.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Mess Beckons

Listening to: Nirvana, Bleach

It's been less than a half hour since X took the wee ones for her bit of custodial bliss and my mood continues to plummet. Not for missing my children (that will kick in soon enough) but for the condition of my house looking like Gettysburg after the battle. In my personal samsara, the Catherine Wheel turns such that by the time I finally get everything cleaned and put back into place, the kids will be back. Having seen all The Lion King videos more times than any human should have to endure, I'm more acquainted with The Circle of Life than I care to admit. Except my Circle of Life, spun madly from weekends to weekdays, makes me dizzy.

Hopefully, I'll get a few minutes (and a few beers under my belt) to scribble in my composition book, writing creating the illusion that I'm actually accomplishing something. Oh, the joys of fiction.

Still, I can hardly complain. Comments left on the posts of the last week or so make me feel like the most semi-attractive single dad on the net and that's saying something. Again - the joys of fiction.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Listening to: MC5, Kick Out the Jams

Already the second day of February and I'm still working on my January short story.

It's been an interesting process, trying to finish up the story, not at all like my previous experience. Last year I wrote a story based loosely on an anecdote from my band days (picking a fight with racist skinheads and then soundly humiliating the lot of them) and it was wretched, no echo of my own voice, an exercise in excess, Joyce meets Faulkner meets William Burroughs meets Hunter Thompson meets post-modernist pretension. It took me three months to write that crap.

This story, however, has evolved much more organically, the narrative developing from the sheer joy of telling a story, the rhythm resonant of the throb of my heart.

Strictly speaking, I'm on track for holding to my New Year's resolution of writing a short story a month. Sure the thing is still in the roughest of drafts - just a step up from an outline - but it's complete as far as the story has been told and now awaits fine-tuning.

Um, so does the start of my February task. So posts have taken a backseat in priority, here.

I have my Democracy For America meeting tonight (I'm the county coordinator) and most likely won't post until tomorrow. Maybe I'll come up with a blog to post my short stories... OK, I'm riffing here. Thanks for everyone's patience (especially after the rant in my last post).