Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Scenes from a Generally Good Day

17 clever quips
The dog licks my face when the alarm beeeep-beeeep-beeeeps at 6 a.m. He then proceeds to step on my manhood like so many others before him. Et tu, puppy?

This prevents my normal routine of rolling back over and sleeping for another hour. Instead, I get up, fire up the laptop and knock off a third of my freelance work for the day before either me or the coffee turns bitter and cold.

* * *

Attending Thing 2's first "publishing party," in which he read the "How To" stories he wrote in class.

He wrote three -- "How to Draw a House," "How to Make a Macaroni Necklace" and "How to Read a Book" -- the most of anyone in his class.

Note to self: Given the recent chimp attack in town, writing may be a good alternative to his monkey training aspirations.

Second note to self: Start assessing female classmates for potential ambitious, corporate executive wife-types.

* * *

On our walk through the neighborhood, Murphy starts digging through a rotting pile of leaves by the curb. He starts to crunch a large black object between his teeth.

"Droooooop it," I say.

He does. To the asphalt falls a garage door opener.

And … it's not mine.

On the stroll home, it fails to open any of my neighbor's garages.

* * *

I finish tweaking the layout of my blog, actually re-writing some of the HTML coding on my own, without causing it or my computer to crash.

Need to suppress my inner geek before I try reprogramming the microwave for time travel, thus reconfirming my semi-idiot status when it comes to technology.

Urgent note to self: Quick! Try to contact Kari from "MythBusters" before power fa …, dang! Too late. Someday, you red-haired scientific beauty, you will be mine. Oh, you WILL be mine.

As long as My Love is cool with it, of course.

* * *

Finally think of and write a decent piece (maybe, possibly) for a long-in-coming project.

"Mary Tyler Moore" theme plays mentally in my head.

My manhood takes another blow. Stupid brain!

* * *

While walking down the supermarket aisle, Thing 1 says, "Hey, Dad! They're playing our song."

On the ceiling speakers, wafting through the shelves of soup and tomato paste, I hear:

I got it! (I got it!) I got it!
I got your number on the wall!
I got it! (I got it!) I got it!
For a good time call!

I had that song on CD we were listening to on a car trip three or four years ago. From the backseat, the Things kept yelling for miles, "Play that number song again!"

Tommy TuTone sure beats that Lindsay Lohan CD she was into one summer.

* * *

I start a fire.

In the fireplace.

Without any Duraflame assistance.

Note to self: Stop eyeballin' that freakin' microwave!

* * *

Thing 2 appears in the living room, giggling, tripping, my pajama bottoms hiked up to his chest as the dog nips at the ankle cuffs.

"Can I sleep in these, Dad?"

"As long as I can take a picture first."


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meet the New Uncool; Same as the Old Uncool

19 clever quips
Get out of your reader and come check out the new look to the "Always Home and Uncool" blog! There's still a little tweaking to do, but you'll get the general idea.

Questions? Comments? Quesadillas? You may want to visit the new FAQ, too.

BTW -- thanks to all of you who contacted me with concern about my well being after that last post. I guess the lyrics to that song and a few other things I said might have led you think that I having a meltdown, joining a cult or worse -- out of beer.

Let it be known that I was in midst of one of my periodic self-imposed freak outs about something of no great consequence (that would be my career), coupled with computer issues and a bit of a butter-creme birthday cake hangover from Thing 1's party.

I'm nearly over it. Just let me finish this corner piece. And lick the plate.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Last Stop

12 clever quips
Ever flip on the radio and suddenly find your favorite station was playing nothing but the audio tracks from the original "Bob Newhart Show"?

I did once. That's how the station signaled that it was changing formats.

The "Newhart" audio was much better than the new music and DJs, by the way.

I'm probably not going do anything that drastic here. I am going to attempt to switch my Feedburner account to Google this weekend and maybe make some updates to the blog layout during the week. Pray I don't lose you, the site or my mind in the process. (If you, like me, aren't of a praying nature, raising a glass filled with the beverage of your choice will do fine.)

I'll have something new posted by mid-week; if it's not in your reader or inbox by then, check back with the site.

Or call 911. In either case, bring beer.

Meanwhile, enjoy the video from one of my favs:

Video: "Last Stop: This Town," The Eels

You're dead but the world keeps spinning
Take a spin through the world you left
It's getting dark a little too early
Are you missing the dearly bereft?

Taking flight and you could be
Here tomorrow
Taking flight, well, you could get
Here tonight

I'm gonna fly on down for the last stop
To this town
I'm gonna fly on down then fly away
Well, alright

Get down

Takin' a spin through the neighborhood
The neighbors scream
Whatchya talkin' 'bout?
cause they don't know how to
Let you in
And I cant let you out

What if I was not your only friend
In this world
Can you take me where you're going
If you're never coming back

Im gonna fly on down for the last stop
To this town
Im gonna fly on down then
Fly away on my way

Get down

Why don't we take a ride away up high
Through the neighborhood
Up over the billboards and the factories
And smoke

I'm gonna fly on down for the last stop
To this town
I'm gonna fly on down then
Fly away on my way
Fly away
Get down

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is This Post Shaking or Is It Just Me?

24 clever quips
Sorry to disappoint if you were expecting a post-Valentine's Day ode to my love muscle (that would be the heart … the other is not muscle -- please repeat Biology 101, perv). I intended to write one, but I'm in the midst of some trippy caffeine-induced heebie-jeebies.

If you do not have such a sensitivity to the world's legal drug of choice, then you are missing one heck of a cheap thrill ride.

Imagine yourself teetering at the mountainous edge of the Acapulco coast.

You gaze at the Pacific crashing below.

The wind picks up.

You lean a bit too much forward ...

Then catch yourself on the precipice of plunging to your doom.


Now repeat that feeling every few seconds.

For an hour.

Maybe three.

Normally I manage my problem like the little old lady I've become at age 40. Then, like this morning, a few too many beans fall into the grinder. I chug a little faster and then I chug a little more than normal and -- ka-POW! I'm a stand-alone 5.5 on the Richter scale.

My first bad caffeine trip came in high school when I was working the supermarket bottle return. For reasons still unclear, I decided to try a couple of pills from a box of No-Doz I found in the pharmacy aisle. I washed it down with a large cup of tea. Yes, I was a pretty hardcore then., too.

I believe I developed the same bug-eyed franticness Peter Lorre's character had in "Casablanca" when he was begging Rick to save him from the police. Paranoia set in. I began fretting about impending midterms, spring dances and whether my deftness at separating brown, green and clear glass subconsciously meant I was a racist.

I stay straight for several years -- until My Love (at the time, she was just My Lusty Squeeze) introduced me to the illicit pleasures of a white foam cup of steamin' fresh Dunkin' Donuts coffee. I started with a medium.

Then, a large.

Then, came the aptly named "Big One."

Eventually I had to get additional fixes by slurping the sludge they brewed at my office.

My problem got so bad that if someone materialized within six feet of me when I rounded a corner, I literally jumped. This was especially unfortunate if, at the time, I happened to be carrying a mug of the office sludge. On the plus side, I believe I provided needed economic stimulus to dry cleaners and carpet companies throughout the greater metropolitan area.

Given my history (and that, at the moment, my monitor appears to be wiggling like Beyonce's thighs after a McRib binge), I wasn't surprised by a recent finding by researchers at England's Durham University. They report that UK college students who get hopped up on the equivalent of seven cups of instant coffee a day are three times more likely to imagine hearing voices or seeing things than those who drank a single cup or less a day.

Of course, this scientific study -- as with most -- raises questions because of its methodology and extrapolations. First, these are college students. God knows what else they've been consuming, especially given England's proliferation of seedy takeaway curry shops.

Second, who the heck uses instant coffee as a measuring stick? Or actually measures instant coffee when they make it? Or would actually drink seven cups of the swill IN ONE DAY? I've been to London, folks, and they have as much access to overpriced corporate coffee shops as you and me.

Still, personal experience tells me they are onto something. It certainly would explain the howler monkey on my back doing an incredibly funky rendition of "Shake Your Groove Thing."

If you are dying to read tangentially about my other love muscle, go over to

To help me overcome my shortcomings, vote me up at

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Symphony for Thing 1

17 clever quips
I wish I could say I wrote this song if only to lay claim to the genius of rhyming "a lot like her mom" with "really the bomb."

Happy birthday, Sunflower Girl. Play on in the light. Play on.

Just make sure you wear a hat.

Love, Dad

Video: "Megan's Song," artist unknown

This is a last-minute addition to Musical Mondays by Jori -O and Diane.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Death of a Web Site; Birth of a Thing

11 clever quips
Back in the days of yore, when American Bison freely roamed the Great Plains and Internet access was dial-up only, we had a family Web page on America Online. Nothing fancy, but it served as a way to keep our friends updated on our adventures following our move to a strange land called Texas.

I maintained it fairly regularly for about three years until the nearly simultaneous arrival of Thing 2 and the onset of Thing 1's autoimmune disease overwhelmed my free time and patience. For six years after, it sat idle and abandoned like a zillion similar sites other people set up back in a time when the closest thing to iTunes was the squawking ping of the modem mating call.

This past Halloween, AOL killed that site along with its entire free "Hometown AOL" Web hosting service. I'm sure the ironic timing was lost on them but it was an understandable death.

People move on. Priorities change. Technology improves (or, in the case of Word 2007, it grows more annoying). Blogger's days will also eventually be numbered, I'm certain.

But before the site went black, I downloaded all its content. I hadn't seen much of it in years and I was surprised that it wasn't nearly as embarrassing as I thought would be. Nor was it as good. Eh, life is one continuous re-write, is it not?

Therefore, to mark this weekend's anniversary of My Love's squeezing Thing 1 out from between her marathoner's thighs, I bring you -- from the archives -- my blow-by-blow account of that blessed birth -- as written by myself nine years ago with some slight clarification and enhancement for today's sophisticated tastes:

Feb. 5, 2000 - Baby due. Baby no show. An entire bag of Reduced Fat Oreos disappears from the cupboard.

Feb. 8, 2000 - My Love's doctor says not to worry. If no baby by Feb. 15, they will induce that day. After the appointment, we go for Mexican food. Much salsa is consumed.

Feb. 14, 2000 - Valentine's Day. Still no baby. Inducement scheduled for 8 a.m. tomorrow. Our Whitman Sampler is low on vanilla creams.

Feb. 15, 2000
Approx. 1:15 a.m. - My Love's water breaks. Hey, no one tells her when she's going to have a baby!

1:30 a.m. - My Love's wakes me and tells me the news. After asking her if she's sure for the 20th time, we decide to go to the hospital.

2:30 a.m. - On the road to the hospital, My Love predicts a six- to eight-hour labor. "I'm going to make this mind over matter," she says.

3 a.m. - We arrive at hospital and check in. My Love asks for, and receives, Labor Room 1 because it has a jacuzzi. (Ed. note: Not sure why. Water birth wasn't part of the plan. I didn't bring my trunks either.) My Love starts having contractions.

8 a.m. - The epidural is administered. My Love's language again becomes printable in a family newspaper.

10 a.m. - I go for breakfast at the hospital cafe. Western omelet, toast and coffee. Mmmmmm.

Good signs appear while reading the newspaper: Horoscope for today's birthday, according to Joyce Jillson in The Dallas Morning News: "It's a year of self-expression. Your need for expansion takes over, and you may move into a bigger place ... Your best signs for romance are a Taurus or Libra."

I am a Taurus. My Love is a Libra. Oooh, veeeeeery scaaaaaary stuff kids!

The News' "People in the News" column notes that also born on this day was Mick Avory, original drummer for The Kinks.

Video: "Tired of Waiting for You," The Kinks

11:30 a.m. - We settle in for a viewing of the Jimmy Stewart classic "Harvey," which includes this dialogue:

Doctor -- Uh, trauma. Spelled t-r-a-u-m-a. It means shock. There's nothing unusual about it. There's the "birth trauma" - the shock of being born...

Elwood P. Dowd -- That's the one we never get over.

1:15 p.m. - I go for lunch: chicken salad, pretzels and cranberry juice. Mmmm. (Ed. note: Around this time My Love had her 10th cup of ice chips. Sometimes, it's good to be me.)

4 p.m. - Now that we've finished watching "Oprah," time for My Love to start pushing. My role is to hold up one of her legs and count 10 aloud during the pushes, which is a good thing because the nurse keeps forgetting the count.

4:58 p.m. - Out pops baby Thing 1.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

25 Random Things -- Uncool Family Edition

18 clever quips
I planned to ignore the two recent Facebook requests I received to do the "25 Random Things About Me" meme. First, I'd already done shorter versions of this at least two times already in this blog (here and here) and then 26 more things here. Second, I hate to be a sheep.

Then, on the last day I was receiving home delivery of The New York Times (as much as love newspapers, these days it's hard to justify $400+ a year on something that's free online), I read its article on "25 Things" being the latest social media STD. This assured me the fad was well on the wane, and I, if nothing else, am behind the Times.

Since you already know so much about my questionable existence, I thought you'd prefer to learn a little bit more about the people (and animal) who put up with me here at Uncool Manor on Uncool Estates:

My Love
1. Tandem jumped out of an airplane shortly before we met. That's right -- "before."

2. Once kayaked 13 miles across Long Island Sound. (I was sidelined with seasickness, panic attacks and a numb foot that day.)

3. Recently skied the Swiss Alps. I, on the other hand, recently drank some Swiss Miss.

4. Pronounces "acoustic" as "a cue stick." Every time.

5. Almost knocked down comedian Jackie Mason on a Manhattan sidewalk a few minutes after we selected her engagement ring. She balked at my idea of having him sign the diamond's certificate of authenticity for luck. I would have had him write: "Atone, shiksa!"

Thing 1

1. Hates chocolate (except sometimes the white kind) yet every summer bugs us to take her back to Hershey, Pa.

2. Drinks only milk and water.

3. Likes ballpark nachos far more than this photo leads you to believe.

4. Once announced, when we arrived at an outdoor concert, that she had left the house without her pants.

5. Declared on the Thunder Mountain roller coaster at Disney World in December that she had "the need for speed." She rode it 15 times.

Thing 2

1. Believes the best way to look for a lost object is to stand in the middle of the room until the object grows legs and crawls to him.

2. Has arrived at school without shoes. Twice.

3. Can and will sleep anywhere.

4. Knows the strengths, weaknesses and special powers of all the Pokemon. Yet, at age 6, still can't tie his own shoes.

5. Can melt your heart with his cuteness or drive you to Google the location of the nearest orphanage all within the same minute.


1. Has a scar over his right eye from freak deck accident. It involved humping the neighbor's dog.

2. Once at an entire avocado. Pit, too. Hello, $600 vet bill!

3. Was said by one trainer to have doggie ADD.

4. Recently lost the last of the black on his nose. Do they make a Just for Dogs nose-coloring kit or will a Sharpie do?

5. Is officially spoiled because he now gets to sleep with the kids at night.

Oh, all right ... Me (brushes-with-fame edition)

1. Had Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver make fun of me once because I was so nervous, I stuttered when I asked him a question.

2. Was named after a singer my parents saw on a television show once. Unfortunately, they don't remember the singer's last name.

3. Flagged down guitarist Jimmy Vaughn once by yelling "Hey! Jimmy Ray Vaughn!" But him and little brother, Stevie Ray, were incredibly cool about it.

4. Appeared on national TV once because my Little League team was playing one coached by singer Meat Loaf.

5. As a child, I had a fan letter read on air by the groovy "Magic Garden" babes, Carole and Paula. (Unfortunately, that is not on this clip.)

See ya, see ya -- hope you had a good, good time.
Randomly vote for me at and I won't send this meme to you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Little Chickadee

26 clever quips
For the past few winters, I have put two bird feeders off the deck outside my office. It's a tradition I've inherited from my father, a man who spends more on birdseed in a given month than he does on clothes in a decade. He's a good man in that way, even if he's not fashionable.

My feeders are a pretty popular spot with the locals:

The regulars include a flock of mourning doves and one of chickadees; one Pileated Woodpecker (known as Alan) that perches on the exact same rung on the right feeder every time; another woodpecker (Charlie) that's fond of Nat Nast bowling shirts and hookers; and a male cardinal (below) and his mate:

I know the cardinals are an item because I caught them nesting in one of my shrubs this past spring. For the record, they don't practice birth control. Or restraint. Go Big Red!

Then, of course, there's these idiots:

Ever use a product that claims to repel squirrels? Better yet, ever use one that worked? I think the last "repellent" I dowsed the feeder and seed with was actually a mislabeled MSG for the ravenous Eastern Gray tree rodent. It also caught the fancy of our wonder mutt, Murphy.

I'll spare you the photo of dog-poop shaped birdseed. But, for the record, the squirrels ate that crap, too.

It's pleasant to occasionally turn to my left, away from the online records of my dwindling IRA and the regular e-mail correspondence from my two biggest spammers (Jay Markoff, president of, and Groton Benton, seller of contact information for America's gynecologists), and unwind with the antics of my feathered friends and even those furry bastards.

Except for about once a month when I'm alarmed by a heart-deadening thump upon my sliding glass doors.

Upon hearing this, I'll get up, look out and -- sure enough -- slumped upon my deck like a pouting Citibank executive whose just been told bailout funds won't pay for his luxury retreat in Tahoe, will be a bird that flew smack into my sliding glass door.

Sometimes the poor things die on impact. Sometimes they die of fright after Murphy gives them a French kiss and presents them to me like they were a free bouquet from (hurry -- the contest ends Friday). Once in a while, they're just stunned and need a few minutes to get reoriented. That's when I get out the box:

This is Zeppo, my first rescue of the winter. He was lying on his side, eyes wide open, breast pumping hard for air. I scooped him up, righted him and held the dog at bay so he could fix his horizontal hold.

After about 10 minutes, he was still breathing, just not moving. I started combing my Rolodex for the number of my vet.

Unable to find my vet's number, which is good because I've paid the man enough to nip, tuck and de-giardia Murphy in the last two years anyway, I went out and shook Zeppo's box a bit to try to jumpstart him.

Sure enough, he hopped out, right onto my threshold. Then he sputtered a little further along:

Here's your closeup, Zeppo buddy:

I stepped outside and Zeppo revved up and ZOOM, straight through the railings and into the woods.

Maybe I missed my calling in the veterinary sciences? Anyway, hurray for Zeppo and good lu-...

Wait, what's this? Right on my cedar planks.

Frickin' little turd!


Vote for me at or I send Alan and Charlie over to do a number on your shingles.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Valentine's Day is for Pansies ... and Other Free Flowers

10 clever quips
I've been trying to think of my worst Valentine's Day stories but, frankly, the day has always been pretty uneventful for me.

The days before and after, though:

My first serious girlfriend in high school dumped me on Feb. 15th. Several years later, we almost got back together but she died under mysterious circumstances. That's a tale for another day.

Once, a few hours before I took My Love out for a pre-Valentine's Day dinner, my old Dinosaur Boss ripped me a new one for allegedly not working above and beyond. I had been getting all my work done despite spending much of the previous few months at the children's hospital with Thing 1, who had recently been diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis; however, I had apparently failed to kiss the ring of some equally ancient Salesosaurous who normally never wanted to give me the time of day anyway and he complained about alleged my lack of commitment. Upon hearing this tale at dinner, My Love referred to my boss as a "dinosaur" and, thus, a nickname was born.

I bring all this up because the gents I write DadCentric with are giving away free bouquets of flowers from for Valentine's Day.

Why are we doing this when, for the holiday of love, every other blog seems to be giving away marital enhancement devices?

We're classy.

We're sophisticated.

We're obviously on the wrong promotions list.

For a chance at winning, you need to go to this post at and in the comments section tell us your best Valentine's Day story ... and by "best," of course, we mean "worst/most embarrassing/the one that led to a three-night couch camping trip."

Tell 'em I sent ya.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm Cheating on You

15 clever quips
Last week I was overwhelmed taking care of the junk that had piled up during my four-day excursion West, and then with a couple days of labor.

(To be clear, mommybloggers, I don't mean the "squeezing a bowling ball out from between my legs" kind of labor. I know, I know. It was a beautiful yet painful and horrible experience for you that I -- a "man" -- can never truly comprehend. You're all awesome. Down there. And stuff. You humble me. I was only referring to the mentally draining kind of labor that comes with a pittance of a paycheck in the mail six weeks later. Sometimes it makes me wish I could opt for the bowing ball.)

This weekend, I was hard at work fulfilling contractual obligations -- as a blogger and as a youth soccer coach.

On the blogging front, you can read about the utter disappointment suffered by me and Thing 1 upon watching the 2009 version of The Electric Company over on Click the links in it. Lots and lots of great clips from the original show and, thankfully, none from the new one. Bleech!

Next, I contributed a little something about sex to a brand new spanking blog called "Hot Dads." (Hmm, there should have been hyphens in there somewhere. It is NOT a blog about spanking. Or Spanx. Do they make Manx? Maybe Reverse Manx for, um, date-night enhancement.)

In the soccer arena (really middle-school gymnasiums -- got that hyphen right), the Things' teams went 1 and 1. A little hollow because the one victory was notched when the other team didn't have enough players show up. So that day, we ended playing a practice game once I sent three of my players (including Thing 1) over to the other team for the afternoon.

Now, I said "practice game" because I was confident these 8- and 9-year-olds -- some of whom I have previously coached -- wouldn't understand the word "scrimmage." I learned they also didn't know the term "practice game."

"Who won?"

"Technically, we won the league game because the other team didn't have enough players. So, we played a practice game. That ended in a 1-1 tie."

"So did we win?"


On the ride home, I told Thing 1 that she played OK but it didn't look like she was giving as much effort as she could.

"I didn't want to kick the ball too hard," she said, "because I didn't want the other team to beat you."

Oh, my precious Pumpkinhead (because that's what I called her as a baby), you're a keeper.

Just not a goalkeeper.


My Uncool Past