Sunday, June 29, 2008

Father, Thy Name is Dork

14 clever quips
smiley fries
"Dad," Thing 2 said, giving me puppy eyes and a layer of syrup so thick I began looking for some pancakes to soak it up and digest it down, "you’re the best, smartest, nicest dada in the whole wide world, outer space, infinity and beyond."

"Except when you’re a dork," chimed in Thing 1.

"And how am I, your father, a dork?"

"When you do this," she said.

She scrunched her eyes began wagging her finger at her little brother. "Clean your room. Close that door. Pick up your clothes. Shut off the lights …"

Thing 2 suffered laughing spasms and fell off his chair.

"Uh, I think the word you want is 'dictator. But you may call me 'Dict' for short.'"

"No, you're a dork."

"Yeah, I guess I am," looking down at my Mexican Chester Cheeto T-shirt and oversized cargo shorts. "But I'm the dork who's making your dinner. If I were you, I'd be careful biting into those smiley fries, little one. Veeeery careful."
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Friday, June 27, 2008

To My Love, On the 11th Anniversary of Our First Night of Unprotected Relations

13 clever quips
Disaster always loomed nearby 11 years ago.

I chewed out my mother for meddling at the rehearsal. A rehearsal at which neither the priest nor the hotel manager bothered to attend.

Security kicked me and a groomsmen out for trying to bring cases of beer upstairs for the after-party. We ended up sneaking it in via duffle bags and borrowed luggage.

Twenty minutes before the ceremony, I was speeding across town in search of where the frick I left the marriage license. It was in the trunk of my old beige Accord the whole time.

The ring stuck on a knuckle halfway down your finger. The priest chided me for giving up too easily.

But we made it. Eleven years, eight jobs, four cars, three homes, two time zones, two dogs and two kids later. Can we take the night off?

My Love -- you are the Fiber One in the wide, yet shallow cereal bowl that is my existence and, now that I am 40, you know how important being regular is to me.

OK, that wasn't my best metaphor ever. But jeez, the Things are out of school now and just bouncing off the walls. Every five minutes, it's a new crime against humanity. He's bothering me, she's hitting me, I want to watch my show, I want to go to the pool, we're bored, can I have a snack, I want more Pokemon cards, she took my Pokemon cards, he won't let me look at his Pokemon cards, the bathroom smells funny, the dog took my Webkinz, what's a penis, and on and on and on.

Maybe you should just work late tonight, dear. It's definitely safer out there.

So let me try again. My Love -- there's one idiot in this village, and I guess it isn't you.

And now, a present. I know this isn't our actual wedding song, but I couldn't find a version of "Wake Up (Next to You)" on YouTube, even if it was Graham Parker's only hit single. So instead, I offer you another tune of his. It is one you rejected for the big day, but it holds a lot more meaning now.

So, next time you are far from home, as you so often are, remember:

When the world’s asleep and there’s no one in your arms,
Raindrops hit the window like distant alarms.
You don’t have to worry; hey, girl, don’t you cry.
My love beats adversity, baby -- eats it alive.




Happy anniversary. I love you.

Me
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Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Day I Disowned My Daughter

7 clever quips
"Do your children like to read?"

She stood outside the local Borders with pamphlets in hand, ready to pounce, a tigress with a sales quota based on parental guilt and state-test underachievement steeped in unfunded federal mandates.

She looked 22, but everyone obviously younger than me but beyond puberty does these days. She was blonde with straight hair, square shoulders and a round pin advertising salvation for tween TV obsessed. She looked pleasant. Happy. Content with her station, such as it was, behind a table of four-color glossy brochures of smiling, bookwormed kids and a Technicolor vomit of photocopied fliers standing on the concrete apron outside a suburban bookstore on this sun-drenched, suburban June morning.

She was definitely not from these parts.

Did she know about Thing 1's track record? The summer school following first grade. The remedial state-grant funded afterschool program. Was this mockery or coincidence?

Thing 1 had made great progress this past year. She bypassed another mid-year classroom swelter by the virtue of a generous "alternate" testing methodology. But she was still not up to 8-year-old par. No Nintendo DS Lite for this little one.

Now, this woman stood here, self-assured with a knowing look that here comes a neat commission on 249 bucks a week worth of "reading is fundamental" schlepping toward her in an age-inappropriate indy band T-shirt featuring Phil Spector in an amazing, gravity-defying, pre-mistrial white boy 'fro.

So, was this mockery or coincidence?

"Sorry," I waved her off. "I don't have any kids."

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

George Carlin: Comic Genius, Mets Fan

2 clever quips
You've read the obits for the great comedian George Carlin by now. What you probably didn't read is that he was a Mets fan.

Check out this clip for a side of Carlin even I wasn't aware of. He is being interviewed by baseball Hall of Famer/Mets announcer/namesake of deceased Uncool dog Ralph Kiner during a rain delay around 1989. It's great for so many reasons, but here are three:
  • The description "Hippy Dippy Weatherman" superimposed under Carlin's name.
  • Carlin explaining: "You can always tell when you start taking drugs, because that's the year you lose track of who won the World Series."
  • Carlin being far more sober and coherent than Kiner.

I sort of vaguely remember seeing this before, maybe when it first aired. But thanks to two great Mets blogs -- Faith and Fear in Flushing and MetsMerized -- for digging it out again

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ever Get The Feeling You've Been Cheated?

15 clever quips
When asked over the last month what she most wanted to do with my dear, at-home Dad self this summer, Thing 1 steadfastly would reply, "Watch 'Camp Rock!'"

"Uh, that takes care of the first night after school is out. Then what?"

"Watch it again and again and again and again."

At her insistence, I took a seat on the couch with her and her mound of Bop and Tiger Beat magazines to sit through a TiVo'd recording of "Camp Rock," the Disney folks summer 2008 attempt at "High School Musical" superstardom featuring the squeaky-clean Jonas Brothers.

After losing 90 minutes of my life, I can sum it up as such: disingenuous.

It was neat and sweet with a politically correct population of diverse campers chirping about letting the real you shine. Hence, a boring and as anti-rock 'n' roll as you'd expect from the Mousketeer makers.

But it could have been saved. Here are the three key elements I feel it lacked:

A scene in which the bad-boy-teen-idol-in-exile (Joe Jonas) got completely wasted on cough medicine and Krazy Glue. He staggers out to the camp entrance, transposes the letters of the welcome sign so it reads "Ramp Cock," then canoes across the lake in search of some strange at the nearby Girl Scout jamboree.

camp rock promojohnny rottenThe camp director should have been played by someone with some true flip-off-authority rock 'n' roll stones. I'm thinking John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols. "It's no good being nice and young and naïve," he'd advise his bad boy nephew while quoting his real life self. "There's no good in that at all. You've got to do it all yourself, and you've gotta learn quick. And you can't look for sympathy either.” Then he'd hock a loogie in the boy's eye, head butt the snotty runt and boot his arse into a vat of that night's mystery stew.

Rather than "rebeling" against the record label making him play its crappy teen-pop songs by, well, writing his own crappy teen-pop song, the bad-boy-teen-idol-in-exile and his band (those other Jonas brothers) should have fired off an Internet-only release of the Pistols' "EMI" backed with Graham Parker's "Mercury Poisoning" and Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music, Part 3." Then they would take hostages, holding them at plastic sporkpoint until Oprah put them on a "very special" primetime edition of her pap fest. When she did, and you know she would, they would drop trou and whizz all over the Dr. Phil's wingtips.

Now, that, it rock 'n' roll, baby, and I like it.
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Monday, June 23, 2008

Party of One at DadCentric.com

6 clever quips
dadcentric logoThe nice gents at DadCentric, you know - the blog with the picture of the elephant crapping in the toilet, made me their guest blogger on June 19.

It's a slightly edited version of my post about losing my manhood at the American Girl store in Chicago. Sorry for the rerun, but it was fresh when I submitted it to them a month and a half ago.

Judging by the lack of comments it received, it was as well read on that site as it was on this one. At least I'm not endangering my semi-cult status.

But Whit, one of the eccentric daddy's on the site, did drop a line of support. Check out his at-home dad blog, Honea Express, for a good laugh.

So tell me: Must I ramp up the fart and fluid humor and random gratuitous swear words to maximize my appeal to the masses? Or should I just say, "Screw the flatulent fuckers"?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

"Stick Out Your Can …"

10 clever quips
sanford and son signNot only does Craigslist allow me to foist my useless crap unto others for small, nontaxable sums (further justification for maintaining my at-home Dad status - I'm the Fred Sanford of daddy bloggers), but it also presents a great challenge to me as a "writer." For how does one make my useless crap sound essential and life altering enough that some wise soul would not only buy it, but also be willing to drive to my house, hand me the cash and haul it away?

I thought I finally wrote my Craigslist masterpiece with this one for two wobbly barstools:

"They make your bottom comfy when the conversation is not. They swivel so you don't need alcohol to make the whole room pivot around you. Dimensions: 3 ft high (2 ft from seat to floor), 18-in wide. Black metal frame. Seat padding is red and gold. Really, a good deal that your tush deserves."

I was shocked that it took me 10 days to unload them. Including a phone number or e-mail address during that first week of posting might have hastened things along.

Still, my favorite part of Craigslist is checking out the writing gigs. Usually, 15 out of 16 offer no pay, no benefits and nothing beyond clips for dimeadozenpseudohipzineforposuers.com. (Note to self: Update resume.)

Now, the 16th gig is usually for pay. Good pay. It also usually requires reviewing male-on-male porn.

adam bernard and catFellow blogger Adam Bernard, under the influence of many a Guinness, recently suggested that this could be my calling.

"Think of the niche -- the first married, straight father to write gay porn reviews online for a living," said Adam. His own niche is being a very white, bespectacled, suburb-dwelling, cat-owning, Mets-loving … hip-hop music journalist. Simply, he's a genius bundle of contradictions in a "Hogan Family" T-shirt. I'd marry him, but that would throw off my entire marketing plan.

Yes, I am giving Adam B's idea deep, deep consideration. I can imagine my future appearances at school Career Days now.

"Now, Thing 2's dad, Mr. Uncool, will talk about his work. So, what do you do, Mr. Uncool?"

"Boys and girls, have you ever seen one male dog hop on the back of another male dog? Well, imagine that scenario but with two oiled-up beefcakes, a bottle of butterscotch Magic Shell and a popping bass and wah-wah pedal soundtrack …"
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Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm the King of My Castle (When You're Not Around)

12 clever quips
My Love arrives home tonight after a week of trying to convince the Germans that snack foods fortified olestra are not retribution for past crimes against humanity. She's that good. However, the big news is that this is her last scheduled solo trip until autumn.

The Things are happy.

Poopy Pup's tail is a-waggin'.

I'm, I'm … I'm rapidly feeling my power slip away.

What? But you’re the man?! King of the castle! Lord of the roost! Cock of the walk!

Uh, yeah. If you want to live that delusion at least do it while envisioning me looking a lot more like a shirtless Brad Pitt, lounging about on my red velvet winged back chair, a frosty 4-to-1 Bombay Sapphire martini (up with a twist) in my hand. Now, Angelina slinks across the room. Her pregnant belly is ripe with my seed, long legs stretching out from between the slits in her silky bla- …

Whoa. Gotta stop that before her limo pulls in.

It's not that we do things much differently when My Love's not here. It's ravioli or pirogues for dinner at least once a week (My Love has some freaky mushy food gag reflex -- great at parties, I might add). The Things get to lay around on the marital bed and hear me curse Carlos Beltran taking another third strike until their Skittles-high wears off and they crash land. Mac-n-cheese stained dishes sometimes go extra crusty in the sink -- no, wait, that happens when she is home.

It's just nice being the sole, unquestioned authority in a world where the most serious issue is who gets to sleep in the middle while mommy's away and whether all the carrots must be eaten before dessert is served. That won't be the case when their teenagers, so I'm trying to absorb as much as possible now.

But, ultimately, the at-home Dad gig can be a lonely double-edged sword when she's gone.

Uh-oh. Plane exiting international waters. Feeling control … slippin' … away … aaaaaaaah



Video: The Milt Show, "The Man Song"
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Brief Interlude - Don't Run Yet!

2 clever quips

jm flierI'm interrupting the frivolity today (regularly scheduled programming will resume tomorrow) to ask if you or any one you know is a long-distance runner.

Cure JM Foundation, the all-volunteer nonprofit working to find a cure for Thing 1's autoimmune disease, will be a participating charity in the Carlsbad Marathon and Half Marathon on Jan. 24 and 25, 2009, which happens along the lovely oceanfront of southern California. A Cure JM team will run and raise money for more research.

Similar Cure JM teams raised nearly $500,000, combined, doing this at the Chicago marathon in 2006 and the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. last year.

If you or someone you know is self masochistic, ur … dedicated enough to want to run 26.2 or even just 13.1 miles for a good cause:

- check out the links below, then

- drop me an e-mail, and I'll hook you up with My Love, the event chairwoman (like none of you saw that one coming, right?) so you can get all the details.

Run or volunteer and you get a wicked cool fluorescent green shirt like the ones the kids are wearing in the photo (click the photo to enlarge it for more details on the fundraiser).

As for The Uncool Household: My Love is wimping out and only doing the half marathon this time. Things 1 and 2 will be doing the kids' fun run through LegoLand (yes, a city made of those little plastic bricks).

Me? I will be passing out sports drinks and water to parched participants. Why am I not running to help out my beloved-yet-materialistic Thing 1? Because:

1) I am more heartless than Cynical Dad at a kindergarten graduation,
2) I really do run like I have a refrigerator on my back, and
3) Someone has to be the pack mule, so why not choose the biggest ass?

Don't be afraid to pass this around. Kids, not just mine, need your help. My sincerest thanks for putting up with this non-commercial commercial interruption

IMPORTANT LINKS:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summing It Up in a Simple Six

17 clever quips
My sista-from-another-mista, Manager Mom, tagged me to write up six random facts about myself. I'm ready for the analysis, Dr. Freud:

marion barry1. Former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry once gave me the finger. I was not close enough to check it for residue of crack or crack whores.

2. I spent most of my reporting career with a recurring vision of my managing editor walking up behind me and smacking me in the head.

train engineer3. The last time I took one of those online tests to determine what career best suited my personality, it recommended train engineer or general practitioner. This may explain why business has been slow lately. Being a dirty old sooty engine driver has it's obvious appeal, though.

4. I no longer have the goatee or the dog shown in my profile photo, but neither is ever very far away.

bald man with chest pains5. Three times I have convinced myself I was having a heart attack, resulting in two ER trips and one heart sonogram, most recently in February. Instead, I've had a strained chest muscle, sinus issues, seasonal allergies and a proneness to the occasional panic attack.

Lee Ho Fook business card6. I've walked through the streets of Soho in the rain to get a big dish of beef chow mein at Lee Ho Fook's and I've had a pina colada at Trader Vic's, but my hair is rarely perfect.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

10 clever quips
Thor's hammer explodes the darkness with invisible migraine force. Jagged white-hot bolts silently slash the thickening night as a million bitter drops pierce my feeble plot. The satellite TV is out. Dang it to hell.

lightning hits houseThe Uncools, sans My Love who is being beaten down transatlanticly by Air Force One screwing up air traffic around Heathrow, retreats into Game Night mode. A high-stakes game of Clue Jr. ensues along with this philosophical discussion.

Thing 1: "Rain is when God cries. Lightning is when God's angry. Sara told me so. She went to church Sunday."

Me: "What's God angry about? I'm sure his satellite hook-up still works."

Thing 2: "Did you know that lightning doesn't hurt as much as a shark bite?"

Me: "No, it's you are more likely to get struck by lightning than bit by a shark."

Thing 2: "That's what I said."

Me: "No, you said … oh, just roll, would ya?"

Thing 1: "I don't like storms. They knock down all the homes of the animals and then they have no place to live."

Me: "I'm surprised more animals don't live here since you two never close doors."

Thing 1: "If lightning hit our home, would we grab Murphy and take the car and go live at Sara's house?"

Me: "That's an option. Do they have satellite?"

Thing 2: "We'd go next door to the Jorges. They have a poooool."

Me: "I like the boy's thinking. Now, why do you think God is angry?"

Thing 2: "I dunno."

Thing 1: "I dunno."

Me: "Me neither, but I know why he's crying. He must have gotten a whiff of your feet and it's making his eyes water."

Thing 2: "Stinky feet! Stinky feet!"

Me: "Girlfriend, you need to change two things every day -- socks and underwear. How many times do we need to review this?"

Thing 2: "Stinky feet! Stinky feet!"

Me: "Uh, I would not poke fun, Boy-Who-Forgets-To-Wipe-His-Butt-A-Lot."

Thing 1: "It was Ms. Scarlett who ate the cake at two o'clock and drank a lemonade."

Thing 2: "WAAAAAAAAAH! WAAAAAAAAH! WAAAAAAAH!"

Me: "Please, strike me now, Lord. It's only Monday night."
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Monday, June 16, 2008

My Little Diva

10 clever quips
"Sara and I aren't friends with Mindy anymore."

"Why?"

"She said Sara and I are divas."

"Do you know what a diva is?"

"No."

"Then how can you be upset with her if you don't what she's calling you? I showed you where the dictionary is. You know how to Google. Jeez, you're 8, get on the stick."

"Diva sounds bad."

"She could be calling you a great opera singer. That'd be a compliment. But I've heard you on the karaoke machine and I doubt this. You're flat. Very flat. Especially on 'See You Again.' Sometimes out of pitch, too. Are your ears clogged again? Do I need to get the squeegee bulb and acid? Do you want singing lessons?"

"No."

"Good because I can't afford them. Your addiction to Target, American Girl dolls and malt liquor are tapping me out. See, your dear stay-at-home Dad is a semi-employed writer, which is the same as a being an unemployed writer but without the principles or romantic aura. If I didn't know how to operate the TiVo, fix the computer and run the washing machine, Mom would kick us both out."

"Huh?"

"I think when Mindy called you a diva, she means you're a bit spoiled. You and Sara have lots of toys and clothes, and you bring them into school, show them off and kinda of rub them in the other kids' faces. You don't want to be rubbing things in other people's faces for a living."

"I don't."

"Even if you don't, just having all that stuff at school gives other kids the idea that you are. Not everyone is lucky to have a human resources MILF goddess of a Mom who makes enough to afford my taste in microbrews and your tastes in all things Disney Channel. Some of your friends probably think you get everything you want and they are upset and a little jealous that they don't."

"I don't get everything I want!"

"Yeah. Like what?"

"I want a Nintendo DS and I don't have one."

"That's because you aren't reading at grade level yet. Our deal last year was once you finally reach the proficient grade level, you'd get a DS as a reward. That's called incentive. But, girlfriend, you have been on a long walk to the short bus. You need to step it up."

"I know …"

"Good. No crusts on this toast, right."

"Yep. Butter it out all the way to the edges."

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Happy Father's Day and Thanks for Not Kicking My Ass

9 clever quips
Hey, Dad:

Thanks for all the years of giving me shelter, food and a good life by working like a dog. Speaking of dogs, I know you tried many times to convince Mom to let me have one. It's was like banging your head against the wall, I know, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

zits comic strip about father and sonThanks for attending nearly all my baseball games, Tiny League through high school. This includes junior year when I spent the entire season in the bullpen warming up a bunch of rag arms that even I could have smacked a triple off even though, as you've pointed out on more than one occasion, I run as if I have a refrigerator on my back.

Thanks for letting me drive the Oldsmobile Cutlass along the back roads that one time when I was 13.

Thanks for giving me the Oldsmobile Cutlass when I finally got my driver's license.

Thanks for The Talk before college and for knowing that "don't be stupid" was all you needed to say.

Thanks for not quitting on me that time when I was pitching and I told you from the mound that I needed a "father not a coach." I'm a real jerk at times.

Since I mentioned "The Jerk," thanks for taking me to my first R-rated movie when I was only 11.

Thanks for taking me to the midnight showing of "The Kids are Alright" at the old Avon on a school night when I was 14.

Thanks for throwing me all that extra batting practice even though you regularly ran the risk of a line drive denutting you. I know all that pitching contributed to your need for rotator cuff surgery a few years back. Sorry about that, too.

Thanks for not kicking my ass that time I drove home from a party in high school under the influence of Coors and peppermint schnapps. Did you go easy on me because of that Christmas Eve incident a few years earlier? Either way, we're square.

Thanks for never making me feel guilty about unpopular things I've had to do like moving to frickin' Texas of all places.

Thanks for buying all those Topps baseball cards with the powdery, stale "gum" inside on Sunday mornings along with the donuts from Beldotti Bakery and the New York Daily News. All influences on my life … not necessarily good ones, but special ones.

Thanks for never publicly questioning my parenting skills and technique during parties and family gatherings at my house.

Thanks for telling me last year that I'm a good Dad.

Thanks for harassing all your clients to donate to Cure JM every year to help us find a cure for Thing 1's autoimmune disease. You're helping many more children than just mine.

Finally, thanks for not practicing birth control that one time, or else I couldn't thank you for anything at all.

Here you go: still the greatest Dad song ever. Enjoy your day. I'll try to do you proud.




Video: John Hiatt, "Your Dad Did"
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Progress Among Modern 6-Year-Old Boys

3 clever quips
"Did you hear what the boy said while we were watching 'The Simpson Movie' tonight?"

"No."

"During the scene where the two policemen kiss and hug and then go into the motel room, he said, "Gay.'"

"Did he say it like, 'Ewww, gaaay!'"

"Nope. Just kind of matter-of-factly. 'Gay.' Plain statement of what he saw. No editorializing."

"Well, good for him."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chew on This, Pal

10 clever quips
I clothesline little old soup-making grandmas at the supermarket for the choicest marrow bones for you.

I mail order the longest, thickest bully sticks for you, despite the whole notion of what part of the bull they come from freaks and fascinates me simultaneously.

I have a trunk full of not-made-in-China, compressed rawhide bones that I'm willing to toss to you at the slightest hint of pathetic neediness in your big brown eyes.

So, would you please lay off the eyes of the kid's stuffed animals? I can only cover your furry ass so many times, my friend, before I give in to the demand to trade you in for a guinea pig.

And, I loathe guinea pigs.

eyeless teddy beareyeless stuffed kangaroo


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

For Father's Day, all I want you to do is give it, give it …

8 clever quips
Father's Day is coming up and, ladies, you know what we want.

We want it in the morning, in the afternoon and in the sweet, sweet evening.

Up and down. Front and back. Bedroom and kitchen.

Respect. That's right. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

(Yeah, we want the other thing, too. Stop complaining to your other girlfriends about that. Worry when we stop begging you for something-something.)

Today's dads are more involved in parenting and home life than ever, not that we get much credit for it in the mainstream media, as Fellow At-home Sperm Donor Rebel Dad notes. Instead, we get insightful loads of Eisenhower-era stereotypes from Women's Health "magazine." I'm canceling my subscription, by the way.

That kind of parental insignificance must have annoyed me even before I was snipping Thing 1's umbilical cord -- still the freakiest moment of my life, BTW. I found this out when I recently dug out my grade school report cards. They are in a special "report card" book my parents kept and on the back of each year's page is a multiple-choice section called "When I Grow Up I Want To Be."

The list for girls starts with "Mother" (it also includes airline hostess and secretary -- this was bought in the early '70s), but there was no counterpart in the boys' list.

career choiceSo, each year, in the fill-in-the-blank section, I scribbled in "Dad." And each year, I dutifully chose "Baseball Player."

I get partial credit, right?

Dads are the Paul McCartneys of the parenting duo. Sure, we add nice bass lines and melodies to the mix but all the credit for substance goes to John Lennon. I contend that neither one's solo work is up to par with the best stuff they did together. "Some Time in New York City" -- dreck! "Ebony and Ivory" -- porcelain god visit in 5, 4, 3, 2 ...

We can work it out, people -- starting now:

Lazy, stereotyping media mavens -- let's make it about the importance of "parenting" this year rather than about "mothering" or "fathering."

Sitcom writers -- how about one focused on a handsome, witty, work-at-home dad who has to teach his frazzled corporate wife the etiquette of the child pick-up auto queue at school and Pokemon card hierarchy? (Not based on me. I constantly violate line integrity and trade my best cards away.)

Overzealous wavers of the having-it-all-Mom flag -- chill. We can help if you give us a fair chance. Ohio State University researchers found that the more you involve and encourage your guy to be an active father and the less you criticize him for not doing things your way, the better. Would you rather the kids go hungry or they eat mac and cheese until they poop straight Velvetta? Hmm ... I withdraw the question.

However, if your man still won't change a diaper, share in the housework or have a tea party with the little ones, please don't take it out on my entire gender. Maybe, you just … wait … you tell 'em, John Hiatt:





If you doubt my yin and yang on this, ladies, then let's return to your national anthem -- "Respect." Aretha may have sang it better, she wouldn't have even hit a note without Otis Redding writing the song in the first place. That's right ... a man. Amen.

So let's get busy and make music together ... you know what I'm saying?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Life is a carnival -- believe it or not

11 clever quips

something wicked this way comes posterI love carnivals. Or, at least I love the creepy, cool fever dream images of carnivals I keep in my brain. These come from reading too many Ray Bradbury stories while I was a sheltered adolescent whose parents wouldn't let him ride his bike out of the yard.

Needless to say, I got as giddy as the schoolgirl I'd wish My Love would dress like from time to time when I noticed a nearby church was setting up its annual fair. It took three days for The Things to notice it, but when they did, it was all "Daddydaddydaddy, canwego, canwego, canwego" in Beach Boys harmony.

I went looking to uncover some great metaphor for life or have a "Paul the Apostle knocked off my ass by lightning" revelation. Two hours of seeing my kids reflected in the neon-lighted whirls of the Mind Scrambler and Vomitorium Vulture should produce some deep thoughts, I figured. Then, I'd peck up these wondrous insights and pass them on to you, changing your lives for the betterment of all humanity.

At minimum, I was prepared to develop food poisoning like My Love did during the Notorious Norwalk Oyster Fest Chicken Fajita Upchuck of '91. She, for obvious reasons now, does not like these events as much as I do.

But, frankly, I got nothing. Nothing but a $60 hole in my wallet from the unlimited-ride wristbands.

The Things took to heart my requirement they spent their own unearned sheckles on the rigged games (results: one plastic sword, two small stuffed animals and a purple nubby ball). They repeatedly ran through the world's lamest fun house and hall of mirrors, and they rode the whiplashing mini-race cars and big-ass slide until I broke their little hearts with news of pending bedtime.

Thing 2 didn't even break into his "It's TOO SCAAARWWWY! TOO SCAAARWWWY!" routine on at least one truly, pathetically not-scary ride. Last year, it was the little fire trucks that go around a 20-foot circle at a breakneck 1.3 mph.

In review, The Things had the kind of fun members of the single-digit set should have at one of these cheesy, overpriced affairs. They raced and giggled with a bunch of their school friends. They ate too much cotton candy. They essentially partied like Mormon rock stars. I guess that's what being a kid should always be about, regardless.

The event, however, did present one great mystery of life to me.

I saw a mom cuddling her baby as she watched her other child circle overhead in the Helicopter Heaven ride. It made me wonder:

Why would a near-middle age woman wear a pair of brown sweatpants with the word "JUICY" emblazoned in apple-size gold letters across the butt when her posterior is definitely closer to "OVERRIPE"?

I tried to take a photo to prove my sighting but it came out too dark because:

1. I was too far away and my flash stinks.
2. My zoom was sticky. That's not a sexual metaphor at my expense, either.
3. Her husband was nearby and he definitely looked like he could piledrive me … or at least give me a voice-altering wedgie. Not an image I want kids to carry with them for life.
4. Taking Pulitzer-worthy photos of women's rears could land me on the same watch lists as my brother-in-law. He's a master of shamelessly snapping digitals of the waitresses' backsides whenever he goes to Hooters.

So, I'm open to explanations. Anyone?

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Friday, June 6, 2008

I got a desk full of papers that mean nothing at all

3 clever quips
Office Dwelling Subcreatures and others -- I give you your Friday getaway song:



I have a new goal in life -- just once, in concert, I'd like to show off my rhythm egg skills on this song with the Fountains of Wayne folk. No harmonies will be attempted, just some shake 'n' bake. Trust me, I've got the wrist action down.

Can you arrange that, My Love? You know what a poor helpless "man" I am, and you are an all-powerful being I was never worthy of procreating with based on my continued inability to provide our happy home with anything other than a dishwasher in which all items are sequenced in proper spatial relationship by size, shape and material.

At least, that's what Murphy implied the other night during "South Park" reruns. See, what you miss when you "executive goddess" too much for the Healthy Snack Conglomerate and need to sack out with the kids by 9 p.m.? Your assistant really needs to enter these meetings of the Uncool Domesticated Workers and Animals Committee into your Outlook Calendar.

Oh, yeah. He also wants a bigger max on his Visa (your area) and only Aquafina in his bowl (mine).

Excuse me now, I've got overpriced shrubs from Designs By Lee to plant and mulch to spread. The manure, obviously, has already been put down.

Cheers!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Screw Soccer Moms. This is a Mannish-Boy Blood Sport.

19 clever quips
Some fellow Suburban Sperm Donors and I recently filled the void left by a misguided local ban on cockfighting. All it took was a half dozen hopped-up 6-year-old boys, a muddy park, some soccer balls and the fact our wives didn't expect us home for at least another hour.

its a soccer thingIt started innocently. A midday rain scared off half the league's players (OK, it scared off their parents and -- yes -- I AM staring through this flat screen right at you, Manager Mom). A bunch of the coaches got together, combined their pitiful lot of attendees into one game, and started early in hopes of getting us out of the rainstorm and into a six of Sam Adams as soon possible. And I had doubted there was strategy involved in this game.

Halfway into the match, it stopped raining. The sun came out. Girls, their summer frocks rippling in the breeze, began serving highballs and canapés while we hearty Sperm Donors cracked bons mots about the Dow (bathroom cleaners), our sporty foreign cars (Japanese minivans) and our palatial estates in the tropics (wormy rentals on the Jersey shore).

speedbump soccer cartoonWhen the "real" game ended, half the group dispersed. But some of the (6-year-old) boys decided they had enough Gatorade and PowerBars in their systems to play some more. Thing 2 was one of the them.

Who am I to deny him the chance to fit in before he starts his inevitable, long journey to the middle?

What ensued, friends, was magical, hysterical and frightening all at once. See, soccer for the post-Barney, pre-Snoop Dog crowd normally goes like this:

Ball goes left.

Swarm-of-children-go-left-and-kick-each-other-until-ball-squirts-out.

Ball squirts rights.

Swarm-of-children-go-left-and-kick-each-other-until-ball-squirts-out.

But this … this was steel-cage, death match 3-on-3. Actual passing. Dekeing. Elbows flying. Simulated leather smacking into runny noses. Boys in black knee socks doing bicycle kicks while signing autographs in mid-air. That last part was a lie. I'm not sure any of them can spell.

But there was lots of shouting. From the dads.

"Take him, Doug*, take the ball from him!"

"Be aggressive, Prescott*! Don’t let him pass you!"

"Stop crying, get up and go after the ball, Bruce*. Just shake it off."

"Go for his throat, Berton*, or so help me you will be back with the babies in pre-K on Monday!"

Thing 2, meanwhile, decided be goalie. His game plan was screaming in the most guttural but annoying tone possible any time the ball came near him.

"HAAAAAAAW!! HAAAAAAW! WHOOOOO-HOOOOO-HOOOOO!!"

"Hey, buddy," I said to him. "Why don't you get out of the goal and see what you can do upfield?"

"HAAAAAAAW!! HAAAAAAW!! WHOOOOO-HOOOOO-HOOOOO!!"

"Dear Lord, my son is an idiot," I told Berton's dad.

Or is he?

The other kids scored only two goals on him. Thing 2's team scored seven. Plus, he walked away without a bloody nose (Doug) or a short-term future back with the Pampers set (sorry, Berton).

Maybe he understands that life is all about knowing where you best fit into the game.

HAAAAAAAW!! HAAAAAAW! WHOOOOO-HOOOOO-HOOOOO!! The little freak may beat his destiny yet.



* Names changed to match those of the members of The Knack for no apparent reason other than I felt like giving the band a shout. Plus, can you think of four worse names for blood-thirsty boys in florescent jerseys?
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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Invading the land of estrogen and mommy talk

5 clever quips
I have a guest blog appearance on the Fairfield County Child.com blog about Father’s Day gifts. To view it, go to: http://fairfieldcountychild.blogspot.com/2008/06/and-now-for-something-completely.html.

Apparently, I got the nod because the FCC warned the site about not meeting the minimum levels of digital testosterone. Pay a visit and drop a comment if you please. Thanks!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions: At-home Dad Style

11 clever quips
snappy answers al jaffe bookMuch to my mother's chagrin, I owe much of my sense of humor to the usual gang of idiots at Mad Magazine. Imagine my reaction when I read this weekend that Al Jaffee, mastermind of back page fold-in, received a long overdue Reuben for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year from his peers at the National Cartoonist Society.

Vin-di-CAAA-tion!

Where would I have been without Al Jaffee, Mort Drucker's movie and TV satires, Sergio Aragones' "Spy vs. Spy" tales, Don Martin's "Adventures of Captain Klutz" and the rest? Probably on my yacht in the Caribbean, counting the millions I made in a real profession.

But I'd be counting very, very dourly.

So, in tribute to one of Mr. Jaffe's most influential works in my life, here are some "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions" about being an at-home dad:

Q. Do you miss going to an office every day?
A. Definitely, because nothing matches the thrill of sitting in rush-hour traffic.
A. Yes, I just can't seem to get enough exposure to florescent lighting on my own these days.
A. Sorry. I was too busy enjoying life to hear what you said.

Q. Does it bother you that your wife is the family breadwinner?
A. Of course, it does. I graduated with a degree in journalism specifically because the field offered such lucrative earning potential.
A. Well, it is completely throwing off my plans of living off welfare and food stamps.
A. I have a wife?

Q. Do you must miss interacting with other people every day?
A. The telemarketers fill the void, assuming you stretch the definition of "people."
A. Like a Greenwich trophy wife misses her wrinkles and saggy breasts.
A. With a credit card and an Internet connection, I interact all I like for $3.99 a minute.

Q. You must love doing housework?
A. Yes, especially in stilettos and a frilly French maid outfit.
A. Have you seen my house?
A. Yes, and if I don't get a hit of Pledge, Windex and Clorox fumes soon, I'm going to go postal on your ass.

Q. Your children must enjoy having you around all the time?
A. Those aren't my children. I rented them from a real working couple.
A. I have a court order here that says differently.
A. Shhh, they'll find me.

Q. Do the mothers look at you strangely when you show up to your children's events during the school day?
A. Strangely? No. Lustily? Yes.
A. Only when I forget my pants.
A. It's jealousy over how much better I fill out my sundress.

Q. Does being an at-home dad make you feel like less of man?
A. Yes, but I make up for it in beer consumption and poor hygiene.
A. No. Do you feel like more of a jerk for asking?
A. Yes … yes, it does. Excuse me, I need to cry now.
A. Not after I restore the balance by opening this can of whoop-ass on you.
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My Uncool Past

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