Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Divorce: A Tale of Baseball and Bitterness

I guess the World Series is happening. Go Phils. For me, finding out someone likes the Yankees is like finding out they thought Reagan was like a totally excellent president: so disappointing!

But, that said I can't bring myself to really care anymore. I used to care. Don and I fell in love over baseball, I think. But, then the 2003 Cubs happened and I. Was. Done.

Let me tell you the whole sad maudlin tale. What? You think you know? You have no fucking idea.

I'd spent most of 2003 trying to adopt a kid, filing paperwork, being told to be patient. Wait. Wait. Wait. I toyed with the idea of naming the child Godot (that joke achieved a level of pretension rarely seen outside freshman dorms). And then in August of 2003 my father died suddenly. The two or three of you reading this know that already and are probably also aware of how that colored my worldview for some time after the fact. But he died in August of 2003 and it sucked.

In October of 2003, I was sitting on the couch watching Game 6 of the World Series. I was scoring at home using the score book I'd made for Dad so he could score the Redbirds. On the front was a quote from Catfish Hunter I'd dug up. Catfish had just blown a big game (I think it was a World Series game) and when the reporters came back into the locker room he looked just the same as always. When they expressed their surprise, Catfish just shrugged and said "Sun don't shine on the same dog's ass everyday." I love that quote and it totally sounded like something Dad would say.

Oh for Catfish's equanimity! Because when the cursed inning happened, I scrawled through the pages and threw the book across the room.

I had a ticket for Game 7. But I couldn't go. Because I had a work trip. To Del Ray Beach, Florida. Yes. For Game 7, I was going to be in Marlin country instead of nestled in the bosom of the Friendly Confines.

Do you remember Game 7? The Cubs opened up a bottle of weak sauce and tossed it ineffectually at the Marlins. As this was happening, I was sitting at a bar in southern Florida in my sad little Cubs hat and the two or three other people in the bar couldn't have possibly cared less. It really chapped my hide to be losing to a team with such weak ass fans.

My mother called around the 6th inning in the throes of a freakout. I think the rule should be that after the death of a spouse, you should get a solid year to freak out whenever you want to. I talked to her on the phone through the freakout, standing outside the bar, watching the Cubs flail hopelessly through the window.

And then I went back to the hotel. And remembered how I'd felt the night before. I'd felt good. And then the Cubs went and peed in my cornflakes again.

Well, that was it. I was done. If after the year I'd had the Cubs couldn't even manage to maintain an eight run lead going into the 8th inning (do I have those numbers right, I've blocked it) to go to the World Series, I wasn't going to care anymore.

It's been revelatory. I can watch baseball and just enjoy it like the weakass fans in Southern Florida do. Hey, it's a nice day! Am I tanning evenly? I sure do enjoy the repartee between Pat Hughes and Ron Santo.

So, tonight Phils fans and Yankee fans, enjoy the game. Phillies, I hope the sun is shining on your dog's ass. But, all things being equal, I'd have preferred to watch Glee.

Edited to add: Any suggestion that I become a fan of the White Sox, not gonna happen. The same reason I'll never become a Mac person. Because then you become one of those people. Oh, you know what I mean.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Note on Aging

So a note on aging. Outside of the bullshit physical stuff which everyone deals with once you start getting older. And, to which there is really only way comment: "Fuck! Really?"

But there are the mental aspects as well. Now, in my family we have a decided lack of old men, which sucks a lot. I wish we had some more old men because that would mean that the men in the previous generation would not be, you know, dead. So, when I make this grand sweeping statement about old men, accept that my experience is limited and so I could be wrong. But, here's something I think is a hallmark of old man-dom: an old man may only have the loosest understanding of what it is but they KNOW they don't like it. And don't want to know about it anymore. And you're an idiot because you do like it.

It used to be that kind of philosophy was mostly about music and TV and other forms of pop culture. But nowadays we're living in this era where technological leaps happen every 10 minutes or so, which I think is causing the old man thing to proliferate across all ages and most emerging means of communication.

I was at a kid's party over the weekend where I made the crack "You'd know that already if you would just give it up and get on Facebook!" To which the response was "I don't want to reconnect with my friends from 25 years ago. If I still wanted to know them, I would." And then there was high-fiving.

Laney was tugging on my arm, so there was no time to respond, but I really wanted to! This misunderstands broadly (and I would argue purposefully) the point of social networking. For example, the people I communicate the most with on Facebook from my past are often people I wasn't particularly close to at that time I knew them in the real world. At it's best, it's like going to a party where you hear what people are talking about and find people who you want to talk to. At it's worst, you find out that that fellow you know tangentially thinks racist pictures of the president are hilarious. But unlike being at a party where you'd have to extricate yourself delicately, you can just unfriend and move on.

I'm at the point now where email seems like an obsolete, clunky way to communicate. With social networking, it's like you put something out there for people to pick up if they want to. When you email me pictures of your kid or that hilarious link, it gets all mixed in with the 800 emails I get a day from various political groups and I feel like I have to look at it right then or else I'll lose it in my inbox. I'd be thrilled to relegate email to professional communication only. But, I have people with whom email remains my sole method of communication, because they refuse to join the rest of the world in social networking. Get off my lawn.

The telephone, by the way, is only to tell me that someone is dead. I'm not really sure why I still have one. I can texted for mortal alerts.

To be fair, I do see one legitimate reason for eschewing social networking: you're old school when it comes to privacy. Which I understand even if I think it's kind of quaint.

But to the rest of you old men out there, it's kind of fun to have people on your lawn.

That sounded a lot dirtier than I meant.

Also, up to Chapter 10 on Brooke, if you're interested (pw is brooke!123 )

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Great Moments in Parenting, the Unironic Chapter

Today, a friend of mine took her daughter and Laney to the Disney Store for an event there. I went to meet them after work. The girls were playing in the play area when I arrived, so I sat next to my friend and she told me about their day. She had a big bag and in it were some fairy wings she'd bought for her daughter. "But, don't worry," she said "I told Laney they were just plastic bags I needed for my recycling."

I asked if they were expensive and she told me they were 50% off. So, on a whim, I headed into the Disney Store and bought Laney a Rosetta (from Tinkerbell: The Incredibly Successful Marketing Tool) dress and fairy wings. When I came out and showed them to Laney, the look on her face was priceless.

She was gobsmacked.

Later, as we were walking to dinner, my friend tells me that Laney had pointed out some dress-up shoes and said "These are accessories. I don't have any accessories. Mom says we spend money on what we need, not what we want."

I've heard it a million times: your kids internalize the things you say over and over to them. What is often omitted in that bit of wisdom is how often you'll discover that you sound like an asshole.

I'm so glad I bought her the damn fairy wings and dress.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Greatest Quote on the Internet

I am ripping this off shamelessly from Shakespeare's Sister, but I went to the link itself because I thought they must be snarking or something. But they aren't. The actual quote about Balloon Boy's dad, Richard Heene... I kind of want to make you wait for it because it's just that good... but I can't. Just read it:

"Heene believes the world is going to end in 2012," she said. "Because of that, he wanted to make money quickly, become rich enough to build a bunker or something underground, where he can be safe from the sun exploding."

Admit it: that's the funniest thing you've ever read. Did we really get punked by a a six year old and a dude who thinks a "bunker or something" would help you survive the sun exploding?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

The reviews are in for Where the Wild Things are and I'm mostly finding them annoying. There seems to be this developing meme that kids can handle dark and scary stuff if it weren't for all these neurotic and over-protective parents. Blerg.

I am annoyed as a rule by strawman arguments. I'm pretty sure this is one. I haven't heard a parent out there say the movie is too dark for a kid. I've heard a lot of parents say it's too boring for a kid.

And here's the thing: I'm willing to bet that 9/10 of the things hailed as the Greatest Kids Story/Movie/Book/Whatever get that moniker when viewed through an adult lens. Grown ups love Where the Wild Things Are because it reminds us of how we felt as children. Kids think the book is good. But I'm willing to bet dollars for donuts that there's not a kid out there who loves that book anywhere near as much as you remember loving that book when you were a kid. Because you didn't love it that much when you were a kid. You love it that much as an adult because it reminds you of how you felt when you were a kid. Savvy?

You know what kids do love? Farts. They think farts are hilarious. If Max from Where the Wild Things Are and Captain Underpants were both drowning, I'll give you one guess which one the kid is going to save.

I've been a grown up for a long time, but I've never stopped reading books ostensibly for kids. I'm not sure who died and decided that at puberty you need to cast off Maurice Sendak for Proust or something, but there's just no reason why we can't accept that fact that we love those books more than our kids do. And there's nothing wrong with sharing these things that you love with your children. So long as you leave a little room for Captain Underpants too (full disclosure: Captain Underpants cracks me up)

A few months ago I took Laney to see Ponyo. One scene scared the bejeezus out of her; the rest was marginally entertaining. I loved it. A year ago, I took her to see the play The Selfish Giant, which made me weep with its wondrousness. She gave it a 6 out of 10. All this is cool because remembering what it's like to be a child is nothing like what it's really like to be a child. Savvy?

I have no idea what I'm using this expression "savvy?". It was in a movie. But I can't remember which one. Probably watched it when I was a kid.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Attn. All My Chicago Peeps

So, I have a question, Chicago People, does the following ring true to you at all?

Chicago is known as the Windy City. And Chicago can be pretty windy. Picture: it's January and you're walking amongst the skyscrapers downtown. Those tall, elegantly substantial buildings protect you from the bitter, biting wind if you hug close to them. But one building will give way to the next and and as you make your way across the corridors between them, a wind tunnel can strike. Wind tunnels focus the wind so that as you cross them, the wind might blow off your hat, knock you off your feet. But, if you are a Chicagoan, as you brave that wind tunnel with frozen snot on the inside of your scarf and sensation in your feet a distant memory, you'll grab your hat before it flies away, chuckle and think "It's only a certain kind of person tough enough for this. In Chicago, we filter out the weak. Chicago is so awesome."

This brings me to the real reason why Chicago is called the Windy City; because despite those January days, Chicago isn't really all that windy. Cleveland, I'm told, is way windier. And while there are various theories as to how the moniker came into being, there's one I believe because it sounds so much like Chicago. It was coined by the editor of the New York Sun in the late 19th century to refer to the Chicago habit of rabid boosterism. To his point: even the truly terrible Chicago weather serves as a point of pride for a Chicagoan.

Only denizens of the wider Philadelphia area are more vociferously proud of their hometown. And whence this proud spirit of noisy boosterism? Much of it stems from a genuine recognition of all the things that are wonderful about Chicago, the amazing architecture and theater, the sports teams, the brusque affability of its people, the sparkling lakefront. Yet there is one shameful, unspoken reason Chicagoans boast so much: it's often just so much whistling in the dark to cover up the younger sibling inferiority complex we have with New York.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Coupla Things

So, I have this long commute to work and sometimes Laney and I chat (these days mostly about what things AREN'T FAIR). Other times we play various alphabet-related games. And sometimes we sit silently seething over the soul-crushing waste of time that a 45 minute commute is (it could be that only one of us if silently seething). But under any circumstance, whenever I see this car:

I feel like I've been transported to some third world banana republic and the recently deposed dictator of the military junta is sitting in the backseat wearing fatigues and wraparound aviators. Is that just me?

Also, two more chapters of Brooke, if you're interested (pw is brooke!123 )

Thursday, October 8, 2009


So, I'm a liberal which means I hate America. Duh. So, I'm having a hard time figuring out what to make of these two things:

Thing One: Frederic Mitterand, the culture minister of France who vociferously defended child rapist Roman Polanski, wrote a memoir in which he tells us:

I got into the habit of paying for boys....All these rituals of the market for youths, the slave market excited me enormously... the abundance of very attractive and immediately available young boys put me in a state of desire. (h/t Paul F)

Thing Two: In Australia, they think performing in black face is HILARIOUS!

Seriously, if i'm going to carry on being an America-hating liberal, the rest of the world is going to have to stop being so so so creepy!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pardon My Head Exploding

It's just been a weird few weeks. First there was this view of idealized (crazy photoshopped) womanhood:

And then there was this (hahahahalightenupit'sjustajokecakes)"

And how about Don Draper being voted the most influential man of 2009 on a poll by

On the political front, the NRCC is distributing literature waxing rhapsodic about how badass general McChrystal can put Nancy Pelosi "in her place." I bet they're disappointed that Don Draper can't put Nancy Pelosi in her place.. he'd be good at it. Then again, Nancy Pelosi is so old and gross! Speaking of which...

How about this article about Ten Hollywood Actresses who are "past their expiration dates"?

And then my head exploded. And I thought I am raising a daughter in a world where she will be viewed as no more than the sum of her parts by a substantial portion of the people she'll walk the earth with. In a world where braying jackasses somehow wield enough corporate, media power to put boob-to-waist ratio at the top of the general female wish list.

And then I picked up the pieces and remembered that there are lots and lots of really good men out there. I'm married to one. And we're raising a daughter with a focus on finding a place outside the vast sea of corporate, media-driven sexist shittiness out there. If we do our jobs right, she'll grow up understanding that her function in life is not to fit into some pat, played out definition of what a woman should be and instead just be the person she wants to be.

That is if she can avoid the kind of crap thrown at her from magazines and television.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Morning Commute Conversations

This morning we returned to a familiar topic: how much way more totally awesome it is to be me than it is to be Laney.

Laney: It's not fair. You get to do so much more stuff than I do!
Me: Like what?
Laney: You get to drink Miller Lite.
Me : I think you may be overestimating the value of Miller Lite.
Laney: But it's still not fair you can do so much more than me!
Me: You can put both of your feet behind your head. I can't do that.
Laney: Maybe I can do more actions, but you can have more permissions.
Me: Don't you think that's a fair exchange?
Laney: How do I get the mucus inside me?
Me: I really don't want to talk about mucus this morning.

I really think the ease with which we segue from putting your feet behind your head to mucus is really indicative of just how long our morning commute is. Also, Miller Lite? We're really not much of a Miller Lite household. It's not like Don comes home from work and says "Hey, baby, got a Miller Lite for me?" I don't even think there's Miller Lite in the fridge. Whence came the Miller Lite comment? I can only surmise that she's been watching football with Daddy.

Now, had she bemoaned not being allowed wine...

Thursday, October 1, 2009