School. Sigh.

I would be hard pressed indeed, as would most anyone I presume, to think of any time of year that is as bittersweet as are the closing days of summer. The days are getting shorter, the sun is setting noticeably farther south, and the night air brings a chill not felt since spring. The heady days of rough and tumble fun at the beach are now behind us just as surely as a last campfire somewhere slowly burning down.

Good Lord, what a load of sappy nonsense. Campfires indeed. Anyway, bottom line is that the lads are back in school, and despite my mildly conflicted feelings about losing the freedom that summer brings, I know it's best for everybody to be done with it. Sure, it's tough to get back into the grind of our over-scheduled lives, but at this point the lads and I have had about as much fun as we can stand.

The boys have played through every video game we have, and I've gotten tired of being beaten at Call of Duty 2. We've read books, done puzzles and watched every Marx Brothers movie I managed capture and burn from TCM. There have been trips to kid museums, science museums and aquariums. We've done day trips here and weekend trips there and we've been pruned up in the town pool more times than I care to remember. We've played tennis. We've played kickball/football/Frisbee in the back yard. We've played basketball in the driveway. We've fished, bowled, and been to the local skate park. We even fit in some minor league ball (Go Jackals!), a trip to the U.S. Open and went whitewater rafting. In the end I was, simply put, pooped.

So it was with a renewed spring in my step that I took the lads to Target last week and collected a shopping cart full of pencils, markers, notebooks and all the related educational tools that will, apparently, make them smarter. I was actually a little surprised by how well the boys adjusted to the news that summer was over and that the fourth and sixth grades, respectively, were upon them. After all, I guess there's only so many times that they can whip me at Halo2 before they're ready for a new challenge, even if it is (sigh) ...school.



Spot The Bork! (What's a Bork?)

We have just recently, as I’ve previously mentioned, spent a great week in Florida visiting friends and doing Disney while staying at the Nick Suites hotel. So then, am I going to go on about all the fun and exiting things we did? No, of course not silly, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t share a new activity that the boys and I invented that I think may have a practical and positive impact on society in that it helps ward off boredom: it’s a little game we call Spot The Bork.
It’s simple enough, really; we were sitting around waiting for our flight at LaGuardia on Saturday afternoon whilst I was engaged in my usual pre-flight ritual of downing Dramamines and rather a lot of scotch. (Afraid of flying? Goodness no; if the plane goes down there’s not a thing I can do about it; no, it’s that I’m motion-sickness-boy and flying makes me feel crummy. In fact, it used to be that by the time I got off a plane I felt worse than David Gest after a long weekend with Liza… but no longer! Hooray for the yummy modern medical miracle that is scotch and Dramamine!)
Anyhoo, as we were sitting there the older lad piped up: “Psst, hey dad, look, a bork!”
And sure enough, he had sighted a particularly nerdy bork wandering along the skyway, so we decided to award the lad one point; and so it was that Spot The Bork was born. The rules are simple enough, each participant gets one point per sighting, and each sighting has to be confirmed by at least one of the other players. By the end of the trip I was in firm control of first place with eight points, followed by a respectable six for the older lad and one for the younger lad. We really should consider fabulous prizes.
So, should you find yourself and your brood sitting around cooling your heels somewhere this summer, fear boredom no more! Go on, Spot A Bork!



We're Off To See The Wizard...

Usually, my preferred method of posting here involves a bit of thematic noodling around before I get around to spelling out what I’m actually trying to say, but today I’m running a little short of time. So here it is: today we’re jetting off to the Sunshine State to visit friends and then, of course, Disney.

It occurred to me this week that our trip is nothing less than a pop-culture pilgrimage; and then I got to musing just how powerful the notions of pilgrimage in particular, and journey in general, are. Really, human experience is, if nothing else, all about movement, expressed both as travel away in exploration, and travel back home in pilgrimage.

So anyway, as much as I’d like to noodle around with these mythic themes today, I’ll just leave this link to Wikipedia’s entry on pilgrimage. Go on, nose around a little, it’s fascinating stuff, and I’ll bet you get lost in there.

Have a great week!




I Have Seen The Future, And It Is... Dorky.

I do, on occasion, muse that there is a seemingly endless list of things that I don't understand. Moreover, I'm often surprised by the very breadth of the things I just don't get; indeed my non-comprehension of stuff runs the very gamut of human experience from the lofty to the mundane.

To wit, the lofty: The theory of relativity tells us that if you're standing still, a beam of light emitted from a flashlight in your hand will scamper away from you at exactly 1,079,252,848.8 kilometers per hour, and yet if you began to run with that flashlight at incredible speeds you would never be able to catch up to the light because it will keep receding from you at exactly the speed of light no matter how fast you go. Oh sure, you say, that's possible because it's time that's relative bla bla bla, but do you really understand how the whole theory fits together? No, of course you don't, and that's why you're sitting there reading my dopey blog instead of working on some sort of super-sciency-government project building shiny death ray guns or some such nonsense. And of course if you really are building shiny death ray guns, then shame on you.

Now where the hell was I? Oh yeah, things I don't get. And the mundane: like why my two boys who are otherwise perfectly intelligent, reasonable people can't remember to flush the damn toilet. It's a mystery. Anyhoo, the point of all this is that recently I've begun to notice a mysterious phenomenon that not only do I not understand, but would categorize as both mundane and inexplicably annoying: People Who Wear Bluetooth Headsets Everywhere And At All Times.

Really now, why? I've never seen any of these people actually talking; it looks as if they've got these things permanently attached to their heads just in case someone should call and they just can't get to the phone in their pocket fast enough. Maybe they're all waiting for a call from Commissioner Gordon and they just can't get to the phone fast enough to avert a bank robbery! Or maybe they're all waiting on a call from the President and they just can't get to the phone fast enough to help avert a terrorist attack! Or maybe they're all waiting for a call from mom and they just can't get to the phone fast enough to be reminded to pick up a quart of milk from the QuikieMart!

What a bunch of dorks. Not only do I see a few of these people every day now, but while my Lovely Bride and I were at Stir Crazy last weekend there was, I sh#t you not, a guy at the table next to us who was wearing one of these things while on a date. With a girl. For the entire meal. Never talked on it. But boy was he ever ready to take a call. Dork.

Or maybe we need to coin a new term. Bluetooth dork... Blocutus? No... Blork? How about just bork? Yeah, thats it, bork. I just hope this guy doesn't mind.

Oh well, have a nice day!


That's My Boy!

It’s been said that having the confidence of your convictions is a key to success. Now certainly having convictions is an integral part of that formula, but I would argue that studiously ignoring real world evidence that may contradict your convictions is, how shall we say, stupid.

But of course our lives are full of examples of such foolishness. I, for instance, remain convinced that I will someday be good at golf, that the next pepperoni pizza I eat won’t give me heartburn, and that watching Stargate One doesn’t make me a geek. A guy can dream, can’t he? (Now it’s obvious that at this juncture I could take this premise and make a sharp right hand turn into the driveway of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but I’m really not in the mood today; and really, who has time for a laundry list of grievances that long?)

Anyhoo, the flip side of my occasional moronic stubbornness is the joy of having a cathartic experience that takes me by the hand and leads me from the fog of arrested opinion into the light of reasoned enlightenment. (Anyone for a second helping of hyperbole?) So yes, once again I’ve seen the light, and today it shines on… little league. I am, for the moment at least, now a big fan of the game and my kid’s team. Yes, I know, the past few springtimes I’ve posted diabolically clever indictments of the institution of little league; postings that employed brilliantly withering sarcasm as well as breathtakingly insightful social commentary. (Well, perhaps mildly snarky and a bit grumpy is a more accurate way to characterize those posts, but once again, a guy can dream, can’t he?)

My change of heart about little league is really pretty straightforward: my oldest is playing pretty well. He’s getting plenty of field time playing third base and he’s getting hits to boot. What’s more, he’s been making some good plays in close games that are actually exiting. Whoda thunk? What finally tipped the balance for me though was a play last Saturday: my boy was playing third when a kid on the other team hit a long ball to the outfield. Our team missed the runner at second when the ball was overthrown, and then when the runner came around third the ball was overthrown again, but my boy hustled for it like a pro and threw the runner out at home to save a tie game that they went on to win. Woooo!

And there I was, screaming and cheering like a sports-parent-maniac. Go figure. So anyway, today’s lesson: you really need to pay attention when life walks right up to you and pokes you in the forehead, otherwise you’ll just look like an obdurate nitwit. Or a Neo-con. Whichever.




The Boys Of Spring

Ah, spring. Season of daffodils, bunny rabbits, longer days and all other things renewal-themed. It is also, however, a season of convergence in which just about every activity the boys have ever been involved with competes for attention. Karate, belt tests, D.A.R.E. basketball tournament, homework club, religion, sleepover birthday parties, regular birthday parties, parades, Easter, book reports and every pesky little side project in school that they're trying to get in before the end of the year... and then just to add insult to injury: little league.

I understand of course that I shouldn’t complain, really. Happy healthy boys with fun, fulfilling lives and all that. But still, little league? Just the thought of the endless hours sitting on an ice cold aluminum bleacher early in the season and then sizzling, sun baked bleachers by the end of the season is enough to make my butt go numb already. Second only to the butt-numbing quality of little league, however, is its uniquely mind-numbing quality. I can’t, after all, watch a bunch of 10-year-olds alternately whiff balls and walk in runs for very long before my eyes glaze over and I lose my will to live.

But, as my Lovely Bride is fond of reminding me, it’s not about me, it’s all about the kids. Yeah, I know, and I’ll still keep taking the boys as long as they want… but should you find yourself at a little league game someday and notice a guy sitting on the bleachers with that look on his face, you’ll know who it is. Bah.



The Funny.

Good morning philosopher kings and queens, working class heroes, progressive utopians with no sense of humor, lurking conservatives... you know the drill. If, by any chance you don't though, then grab a hot cup of cocoa and snuggle up with your favorite blankie and I'll tell you a little story about the funny.

Ahem. Although I have never had any interest in listening to commercial talk radio, about a year ago I did find myself suddenly and serendipitously addicted to Air America's morning drive-time show, Morning Sedition with Marc Maron and Mark Riley. I was hooked from the first episode I heard; I couldn't believe my luck in running across a radio show made by smart guys making smart funny that embraced all things cerebral including, but not limited to, philosophy, politics, art, dreams, feral cats, the occasional fart joke and one particularly foul mouthed stem cell.

Anyhoo, long story short, although the show got killed last fall by the spineless toads at Air America, the funny is now finally back on in L.A. complete with Jim Earl's Milfington boys et al... but the sucky catch is that the podcast is only available with a "premium" (read: $50 per year) membership to Air America. So, being that I can't live with out my fix of Rapture Watch I did pony up the dough, but I figure as long as I did I'll perform a fine public service by making the shows available by posting them on the interweb.

So, with little further ado, please allow your gaze to drift up the left side of this page where you will find links to the shows for your listening pleasure.

Good night, sheeple.


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