Monday, June 28, 2010

Thirteen

22 clever quips

kids-dont-smokeThat’s was some crazy wedding night.

Happy 13th anniversary, My Love. You’re still smoking, but only in a totally Surgeon General-approved kind of way.

For more of the story, read:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Certifiable

19 clever quips

“From this point on, My Love, you shall refer to me as your husband, the Award-Winning Sports Columnist.”

“Hmm?” she grunted over her coffee.

“I want to now be introduced to people as your husband, the Award-Winning Sports Columnist. And please note -- the inflection of my voice indicates that last phrase should be capitalized.”

“But you don’t write a sports column?”

“I wrote one. The one about buying beer at a minor league baseball game at 10:30 in the morning. That was good enough for the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists.”

“That counts?”

“Yes, it ‘counts.’ And please note – the inflection of my voice indicates that last word is in quotes.”

“Aren’t the people who really write about sports every day going to be mad at you?”

“Their sportswriters. Think Oscar Madison! Ray Romano! At worst, I could toss a few hot dogs one way to distract them then run.”

“If you don’t pull a hamstring. And yes,” she said, “I noted the inflection of your voice indicated italicizing the word ‘sportswriters.’”

“Har har har! Can’t you let me revel? For once my work received actual recognition. In fact, smarty, two of my other columns also won honorable mentions.”

“Honorable mentions?” she said. “Those are real awards?”

* * *

A few days later, I walked into the part of the house known only to the IRS as my office to see the gift of guilt left to me by a certain wife:

SPJ award certificates

I called My Love over, put my arm around her and we soaked in the soothing glow of compact fluorescent lights on imitation vellum.

“So,” I asked, “how’s it feel to be married to a real trophy husband?”

“They’re only paper certificates.”

“Bite me, sweetie.”

dadcentric favorite daddy blog blurb* * *

Congratulations to my fellow-dads-in-crimes-against-literature, otherwise known as the usual gang of idiots over at DadCentric.

Whit, Warren, TwoBusy, The Holmes, Jason, Greg, Croutonboy and I were recently cited by Parents magazine for stringing together one of its “favorite daddy blogs.”

That crack the writer made about “the mundane”? Pretty sure it’s directed at my contributions.

Bite me, sweetie.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wax On, Wax Off Wednesday

10 clever quips

brazilian-hairless-ad-2

If the object of a Brazilian is hair-free hair down there, I would hope frizz-free is a minimal requirement.

But just to hedge its bets, the salon advertised this waxing special for May this past Thursday … June 17.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Carnival Arrives and I Get Stuck in the Cotton Candy Machine

7 clever quips

If you’ve ever checked out my Blogger profile, you know I live in an “area of New England mistaken for New York.” We’re waaaaaay down south in that little nub of Connecticut that inserts itself right into Westchester County, N.Y. I usually refer to it as the state’s “tail,” but you can probably come up with your own body part imagery.

introducing-NEB copy(2)Most people down here root for New York sports teams. They listen to New York radio stations and, until cable permeated our lives in the mid-1980s, we only could watch New York broadcast television stations.

Here we talk a lot about “The City” and the benefits of being a 40-minute train ride from its culture and clubs, but the majority of us only read about it after we’ve picked up a copy of the Sunday Times along with our weekly half-pound of Boar’s Head cold cuts from the Stop & Shop.

We are suburbanites; hear our minivans roar!

That said, it came as no surprise when I signed on to do today’s New England Bloggers blog hop/carnival that I found myself, as usual, to be a bit different from my other 186 NEB members.

The Uncools don’t do crafts.

We don’t scrapbook.

And Things 1 and 2 are not nearly as wholesome as the kids in the carnival logo above. Trust me.

image Then I found her -- New England Girl, a Massachusetts lass with a heart of gold, a backyard full of rocks and a few bottles of Bully Hill wine under her belt.

Based on the photos on her home page, she likes to hang out in bars. How could I resist her?

She’s searching for the perfect dog. Or at least one that won’t eat her cat.

And finally, her man is a professional fighter so damned if I am going to say anything bad about her. Ever.

New England Girl seems a little self-doubting and introspective today, so rather than comment here, please go drop her a quick note.

Or else her man’s going come looking for ya with a bucket of rocks and broken bottle of the Bully.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Father’s Day! You’re Being Replaced By Rosie O’Donnell.

32 clever quips

Since it is far better to give than receive, this Father's Day I shall bestow a special gift to my children: a divorce from their mother.

Don't worry about my soon-to-be ex-wife as she'll will make out, too, so to speak. I'll be finding her a lesbian partner.

Before you start thinking that this is some dirty replaced by rosie odonnellmiddle-age man fantasy (though it does sound like a terrific premise for a Fox sitcom), note that I'm making the decision based on ideas from -- gasp -- another woman. She is Pamela Paul, a journalist and author of groundbreaking books on pornography (she says it's bad!), marriage (it's difficult!) and the business of parenting (companies feed on our insecurity to sell us overpriced, unnecessary stuff!).

In her article "Are Fathers Necessary?" appearing in the July/August issue of The Atlantic magazine, Paul cites a single scientific journal article that compiled data from several other studies to determine that my fellow fathers and I bring nothing special to the parenting table. She reaches this conclusion because the study she uses found that children of single moms do better in school and in life than those of single dads. The data she uses also finds that lesbian parents tend to be more emotionally involved with their children than those of traditional husband-and-wife couples, who tend to raise little ones who have more behavior problems, less interest in school and, as adults, give less credibility to the findings of questionable scientific studies.

"The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there's nothing objectively essential about his contribution (to parenting)," Paul writes. "The good news is, we've gotten used to him."

This pronouncement came as a relief to Ms. Paul's husband. Meanwhile, their children have been spotted pleading for asylum outside the home of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi.

With me soon to be out of the fathering game, the question is what am I going to do with myself. With my services apparently no longer needed to teach my offspring how to use proper breath control while burping the alphabet or how to correctly position their hands to maximize the volume of armpit flatulence sounds, I'll have a load of free time.

The Atlantic doesn't offer me or other fathers any help here. The same issue has another article, titled "The End of Men," that says that we males are losing ground everywhere: in the classroom, in the workplace, in possession time of the TV remote. We don't fit in anywhere anymore because, out of the goodness and/or laziness of our saturated-fat clogged hearts, women now are setting the rules. They are apparently breaking them as well, as the article notes rising rates of violent crimes committed by women. In essence, they're acting like men when men were men and women were known as the fairer, gentler sex.

Maybe that was their gender's whole ploy from the beginning. Women's suffrage, feminism, ABC Afterschool Specials like Free to be … You and Me -- on the surface, they were a call for equality among the sexes, but bubbling underneath, they may have been a nefarious scheme to take over traditional male dominance in vital categories such as having a shorter life span and more cell space on death row. If nothing else, this approach has certainly led to women kicking our tails in the competition to write more outrageous articles for major media publications. Well played, ladies, very well played.

That's it! Once I become free from my chains of fatherhood, I'll be able to fully pursue my next full-time role – editor of a once credible, now irrelevant magazine.

Anyone know if there's an opening over at Ms.?

Video: I Wish I Was a Lesbian by Loudon Wainwright III

Video: “I Wish I Was a Lesbian,” Loudon Wainwright III

If you are a lesbian or thinking of becoming one and you would like to replace a father in an otherwise heterosexual family, please send your applications to pamela@pamelapaul.com. Tell her I sent you.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Best Father’s Day Gifts Ever (if you really hate a dad)

18 clever quips

The Always Home and Uncool inbox has been overflowing of late with marketing and PR e-mails purporting to contain great gift ideas for dads this upcoming Father’s Day. However, these products are not so great as to cause the manufacturer’s advertising department to wire even the tiniest amount of money into my PayPal account in exchange for the publicity. Hence, they will now get what they pay for:

Male performance ‘shapewear’
Spanx for men

Nothing says, “Dad, I love you,” like the gift of Spanx for men. Now, I know what the undershirt and underwear are trying to lift and separate, but what’s with the $45 socks? Are they bionic? Do they take out the recycling or walk the dog?

Lounge chairs for your bed
hot chick in a lame lounge chair

Though this looks far more useful than the 83 throw pillows we currently have on our bed, a few points need to be raised:

1. If you are trying to sell this as a gift for dads (at just $220!), what’s with the photo of the woman using it? Is she included or just an optional feature?

2. And why the hell is she wearing my $45 performance socks?

A ‘Mommy Makeover’
botox is for wusses

OK, this PR pitch I received about pimping a South Carolina plastic surgeon who wants to help moms get back their pre-baby bodies via boob jobs, tummy tucks and general Heidi Montag-ization wasn’t explicitly labeled as a Father’s Day gift idea. But how else can you explain it being sent to me – a dad blogger with one perfect honey of a wife – during early June? Oh, right – stupidity.

‘Intelligent’ toothbrushes
stupid toothbrushes

What message does this send a guy? You embarrass me with your unsightly plaque? You’re too dumb to master up and down, not side to side?

And now a gift that a dad might really like – no kidding:

sugar milk by ron mattocksIf you have a dad in your life who likes a good book, let me recommend one to you: Sugar Milk: What One Dad Drinks When He Can’t Afford Vodka by Ron Mattocks, who some of you may know in the blogosphere as the guy with a Coldplay fixation who also writes Clark Kent’s Lunchbox.

Even though I have met Ron and his vastly superior wife, Ashley, and he has vaguely helped raise some cash for and awareness of Cure JM for me, the man has never asked me to plug his book. The bastard wouldn’t even send me a freebie copy to review. If I sent him the copy I bought -- at full retail price, mind you -- I’m sure he’d expect me to cover the return postage.

With that disclosure out of the way, let me say Ron wrote a very amusing book about his struggles with unemployment, divorce, computer dating and being a stepdad to two clever little girls who need to be properly compensated with heaps of homemade pancakes (made with fresh milk, you cheap so-and-so) for providing him with so much funny material. I laughed, I giggled, I shot good beer out of my nose.

Ron – you make us dad bloggers proud.

Tune in Friday to learn what I’m giving My Love and The Things for Father’s Day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I’ll Take a Mulligan

17 clever quips
My pinpoint accuracy in golf is legendary.

If by “accuracy” you mean my ability to inadvertently hit objects that I am not aiming for but would be pretty impressive to nail if I actually was.

Anyone can hit a tree or a golf cart or even another golfer (sorry about that random middle-age guy circa 1985 in Pound Ridge, N.Y.), but hitting small man-made objects from takes a certain talent. These include:

divot repair box A divot repair box.

yardage markers
Fairway yardage markers.

golf cart directional sign Golf cart directional signs.

My specialty, however, is tee markers. These are placed at the start of a hole to show you where you must tee up your ball depending on your ability. Below is an example of the white tees that most courses use to show where the average male golfer (me) should hit from: 
teeing off 
Some yards in front of these are usually a set of red markers. These are where the average female golfer tees off from and those are the ones that, roughly once a year, I hit with a low errant drive. As the ball skims the grass, you can almost hear the worms scream in terror.

In 2010, I have been very good about avoiding the ladies’ tee markers. Then I took a three-day golf weekend with some friends the other day.

Oh, I avoided the ladies’ tee markers just fine.

It was the mens’ markers – the ones I hit from – I failed to avoid.

And, as you can tell from the way the man is lined up in the above photo, that is a pretty hard feat to accomplish when the markers are not in front of you, but AT A 90-DEGREE ANGLE TO YOUR SIDE.

Since the tee markers were made of granite and solidly set and our tee box was elevated above the previous hole, this what happened:

how not to hit a golf ball

I’m not expecting to be invited to next year’s outing.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Renovate Your Bathroom; Wreck Your Life

23 clever quips

My world thickens in daily layers of dust.

Saw, sheetrock, saw, joint compound, ceramic tile, saw.

I’m an archeological dig in reverse.

Indiana, where are you? Be not afraid, Dr. Jones -- the only snake here is easily charmed by my plumber. At $45 an hour.

So if you plan to renovate a bathroom, here are some important things to know beforehand:

  • It costs how much?!
  • For every one room you renovate, expect at least two other rooms to be adversely affected for the duration of the construction period. Generally, these will be the rooms you spend most of your waking or sleeping hours in. In my case, both.
  • Temporary walls of plastic sheeting do not a bedroom make.

bubble boy's bed

  • If you are renovating a second-floor bathroom, repeat after with me: Acrylic, in-laid tub – good; cast-iron standalone tub – holy hernias!
  • If your desk is on the floor directly below that cast-iron tub, up your life insurance. Just in case.
  • Vanilla yogurt stains on your shorts send the wrong message to construction personnel.
  • That message is not as bad the one you send them when you have fresh vanilla yogurt dribbling down your chin.
  • Stop telling me to think about the future resale value. At these prices, I plan to be entombed in this flippin’ bathroom.
  • Can you tell the difference between a new toilet and the old toilet with a new seat and lid. I thought not.
  • Avoid backing into your subcontractors’ cars.

car bumper needs botox

  • If you do back into one of your subcontractors’ cars, pray it’s the guy doing the drywalling. Even I have hung, taped and mudded drywall, so how badly can he screw you over to exact revenge?
  • Say, where are my car keys? And the dog?
  • The air conditioner guy is not a plumber no matter how convincing he sounds telling you about needing a second hot water tank to meet your new showerhead’s output.
  • But just to be safe, double check the gallons per minute rating on the manufacturer’s spec sheet. Boo-yah!
  • The difference in color between ivory and isabelline grout is nearly impossible to distinguish with the naked eye in daylight. However, your  spouse will.
  • Heated towel racks are a nice luxury. Placing them across the room from the shower is pointless. Trying to even out the error with radiant heated floor tiles – yeah, nice try.
  • Are you serious? How FRICKIN’ much?
  • In the end, time waits for no man -- especially the repairman. Get what you pay for the first time.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Are We Raising Kids to be Winners or Participants?

27 clever quips

I saw the green ribbon, all imitation silk and faux gold-leaf lettering, buried on a cluttered table. It had the telltale crinkles and creases of surviving amid the worksheets, Pokémon cards and snack wrappers in my son's backpack. It bore, in capital letters, a single word that would wound any serious athlete: "PARTICIPANT."

third place ribbon"How'd field day go yesterday," I asked my son. "Not so good?"

The potato sacks were too small for his extra-tall frame, he said. The tire he had to roll around an orange traffic cone went wobbly and out of control.

"So you didn't win any events, huh?" I said, bracing myself for tears but hoping for a flash of determination followed by a vow to chase chickens and chug raw eggs Rocky-style to get ready for next year's three-legged races and water-balloon tosses.

"No, our class beat three others in the tug of war," he said. "We were really gooooood."

However, there would be neither blue ribbons nor empty hands. Every second-grader would leave the playing field an equal -- a green-ribboned member of the indistinct middle. In a few days, my son’s ribbon had disappeared without a trace and without any saddness on his part.

I'm not a subscriber to the Vince Lombardi-isms about winning being the only thing. But I do sometimes wonder if we do right by handing prizes to our children for simply showing up rather than actually excelling. How can they learn the value hard work and practice bring to success when results are irrelevant to reward? Has modern society's focus on preventing our children from ever feeling inadequate bred out the competitive gene by instilling a sense of entitlement for just being?

"It's psychotic!" I kept hearing the superhero father say during The Incredibles movie. "They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity ..."

I prepared many weeks in advance for my first field day when I was a fifth-grader (yes, son, back when dinosaurs and imitation wood-paneled station wagons still roamed the Earth). My event -- the softball throw. I spent hours heaving the one cement-hard gray softball we owned back and forth across our yard. Victory, I knew in my bones, could be mine with practice, attitude and stalling for a good gust of wind at my back.

When field day came, I was ready. Unfortunately, so was Millard. Millard was an impossibly tall classmate whose preference for unbuttoned cardigan sweaters optically enhanced his vertical superiority over not only the entire student population but also most of our teachers. Legend was he had stayed back a year. Or three. Reality was that on that spring day, he threw a softball clear across the entire asphalt back lot, the orb nearly clipping the metal backboard at the far end before hitting dirt on the edge of the woods.

My throw that day proved only good enough for third place. However, I came home with a yellow ribbon, proud I had showed given the missile launch I had witnessed. The ribbon hung on the corner of my bedroom mirror, holding a place of honor for more than a dozen years before I packed up my childhood for adult pastures.

ribbon_tag A few days later, while searching some boxes in our basement, I came across that yellow ribbon, all imitation silk and faux gold-leaf lettering. "THIRD" screamed its front. On a cardboard tag on the back someone had written my name and my not-quite-winning event (and I quote), the "softball through."

This reminded me about the upcoming second-grade spelling bee my son had been prepping for lately. I found his vocabulary lists and the note the school had stapled atop them about the bee.

It concludes: "We will be handing out prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners!"

Maybe the competitive gene hasn't been bred out. Maybe we're just making it more selective.

* * *

Postscript: To the best of my knowledge, Millard, the softball-throwing machine of my youth, is dead. He was stabbed or shot while he robbed someone or was being robbing himself. He was in his 20s. I cut the article out of my hometown newspaper many years ago and tucked it away because I knew one day I would need to write about him. It was while searching for this clipping (which I still haven’t found) that I happened upon the ribbon I won that day. Winning isn’t everything or the only thing. Sometimes it’s just a flash that leaves a ghostly imprint you see when you close your eyes.

And who finished second in the fifth grade softball toss of 1979? Hey, Ms. Picket: I could be wrong, but you might want to check with The Kid.

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