I’ve got to tell you, I’m struggling with letting these blog entries stay informal and not working on them to shape them into mini story nuggets wrapped up in nice, little packages.

Ummm … just thought you should know.

O.K. here are some quick thoughts before I lose them:

I listened to samples of Katherine Mcphee’s new cd and it sure sounds to me like her producers and songwriters have completely thrown out everything she was on American Idol and tried to make her into some dance/hip-hop moaning diva. Just take a look at the album cover and you’ll see what I mean. Yes, that is the same sweet girl who almost won the competition on the strength of her emotional version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. The samples I heard just sound like overproduced, mindless junk. Unless she wanted that image change, she should fire everyone involved.

right. now I’m rollin’!

Chris Daughtry’s cd, on the other hand, is really good. It fits who he is (based on what we know from his time on Idol) and it actually rocks. Kudos to Chris, who wrote or co-wrote all but two of the tracks and producer Howard Benson for “keeping it real, Dog”.

I haven’t taken the time to listen to last season’s Idol winner Taylor Hicks’ record yet. My wife has listened to it and tells me it’s just O.K. I was hoping Hicks would win even though I knew I’d not want to hear a whole cd from him. He’s different and seems like a decent guy.

Now, the cd we have both been enjoying lately is by Corinne Bailey Rae. I know the record has been out for a while, but it’s so good I had to mention it. Easy, jazzy, intimate little pieces of audio heaven. How’s that for a description? Do not listen to this cd if you’re in a “Daughtry” mood. However, if you’re in the mood to hear easy, jazzy, intimate little pieces of audio heaven (had to use it again, sorry), take a listen. Rae is scary good.

One more music thing. The other day I heard a snippet of the old They Might Be Giants song – We Want a Rock. If you are not familiar with the band, let me tell you that They Might Be Giants have some of the oddest lyrics you’ll ever have trouble getting out of your head. It’s not often that I sit in front of my iBook and laugh out loud, but I’d completely forgotten about the part of that song where they sing

If I were a carpenter I’d
Hammer on my piglet, I’d
Collect the seven dollars and I’d
Buy a big prosthetic forehead
And wear it on my real head

No, I don’t know what it means. I just know that it’s knocking around in my head right now (my real head, not the prosthetic one).

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In case you haven’t already heard me say it, the radio show “This American Life” is tremendously good. It’s so good, I’d pay to listen to it and in the past I have. No more, though. This American Life is available as a free podcast. You can get it from iTunes or from their website at Thislife.org. It’s really good stuff. The Christmas show from a few weeks ago was a classic. David Sedaris’ story was, as usual, brilliant. My own podcast will be similar in style to TAL, I hope, without being a blatant rip off.

How about that? I’ve used this blog to promote a podcast I haven’t even produced yet!

Twice! (see “Return to Sender” below)

Anyway, rest assured that I will let everyone know when my podcast is finally ready. It’s an exciting and time-consuming project that should be a lot of fun. It should also be more of a collaborative effort than anything I’ve done so far.

But that’s not what I came here to tell you about. I’m here to tell you about This American Life being great and free. So there.

Foul

January 14, 2007

Watch it. I’m in a foul mood today.

My beloved Philadelphia Eagles lost a game they absolutely were able to win yesterday in their divisional round loss to the New Orleans Saints. Great. Now the media can continue their “Hurricane Katrina devastated the city a year and a half ago and now the Saints have reinvented football” diatribe. Unbelievable. According to CNN, it seems the people in New Orleans are way more concerned about finding ways to kill each other than they are about football.

did I tell you I was in a foul mood?

One more football point. To paraphrase my old pal (and greatest football writer in America) Peter King, televised football (especially on the Fox network) is one long commercial with brief football breaks. There was one sequence yesterday during an Eagles’ 4 play drive, which was 3 actual plays and 1 punt, where Fox had a commercial prior to first down, in between second and third downs and after the punt. Yes, I know that American Idol starts this week, Fox, you’ve told me 47 times since kickoff. Yes, I know that Jay-Z has a new and highly annoying record out and that he thinks Bud is a super great beverage. I know about the new season of 24. I’ve seen more than 24 hours worth of commercials for that show.

Also yesterday, our planned 4 day, 3 night trip to the beach this summer turned into an 8 day, 7 night (and almost 3 times the cost) beach torture event. I’m not a big fan of going to the beach. I like it for about 4 hours on the first day and then I’m ready to do something/anything else. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find a nice coffee shop or cafe with internet access and I’ll be able to get some writing done. Of course, I don’t need the internet access in order to write, but it does help with my love of procrastination.

The more things change …

January 8, 2007

My friend Becca really got me thinking this morning. She started a message board discussion about music that “really takes you back”. Now, music has always been a huge part of life for me, just like a lot of people. When I was just a little kid, I’d fall asleep on my bedroom floor in front of my record player listening to my Beach Boys (Endless Summer, Spirit of America), John Denver’s Greatest Hits and Bee Gee’s Greatest Hits albums. I also had access to a great collection of 45s from the early 1960’s that belonged to my dad. To this day, “Bumble Boogie” by B. Bumble and the Stingers occupies a place on my list of greatest songs (and greatest band names).
Gaining access to the radio when I was a bit older prompted a change in my tastes and opened the door to a whole new world of music. I remember sitting by the radio waiting to hear Terry Jacks’ “Seasons in the Sun” which had not yet been called the worst song ever written. There were many hours spent sitting in front of my radio with a cassette recorder in my lap waiting for the chance to hold the recorder up to the speaker and record a song like the Mannfred Mann’s Earth Band version of “Blinded by the Light”, which was also the first song I ever called a radio station to request. When I got older and bolder yet still had no idea how things worked, I remember calling into a radio show hosted by a guy called Terry “Motor Mouth” Young and making requests. Terry Young played standard top-40 type stuff. I always called to request AC/DC “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”.

He never played my request.

The teenage years brought a whole new set of musical influences which are too numerous to mention because every feeling is exaggerated to a teenager. So many songs hold deep, emotional meaning at that time in a person’s life. Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” doesn’t have anywhere near the effect of me now as it did when I heard it at every, single High School dance I ever went to. However, songs by Iron Maiden still take me back.

So, fast-forwarding to the present, we have great things like iTunes to provide us with almost instant music. No more saving allowances and walking to the store to buy music. Click. Done. I think it’s fantastic that spending just a couple of minutes on the computer can result in hearing those old songs again, playing them for my kids and hearing their precious laughter at the music I listened to when I was their age. I could do without the eye rolling, though. But you know what? My kids can instantly recognize a Beach Boys song when they hear it. They listen to The Monkees even though they were born sometime after The Monkees 57th (or so) reunion tour.

There are those who complain about the sameness of music these days, but I feel that with the new technology we have, our musical choices can be much more diverse that it was 10 or 20 years ago. It just takes some effort and an open mind. We’re no longer restricted to what the record store wants to stock. You just know they wouldn’t bother with “Delta Dawn” by Helen Reddy (1973) or (Icelandic folk band) Without Gravity “Tenderfoot” (2005). I’ve legally downloaded both of those in the past year or so. The digital age has saved music, not ruined it. So now you know why you may show up at my house and find me asleep on the floor in front of my computer.

Return to singer

January 5, 2007

My previous blog entry was titled, “Return to sender” and boy am I sorry I didn’t call it something else. The Elvis song, “Return to sender” has been playing in my head for DAYS! It’s a great song but after playing in my head for a while, it begins to affect my mannerisms. My lip begins to rise on one side. My hair looks different. I walk differently. Then, the song begins to escape from my brain via my mouth. Dentists can give you some strange looks when they hear you mumbling “Ad-dress un-known” while you’re sitting in their office.

I guess it could be worse. If that song had been covered by some Disney channel actor or, even worse, the Cheetah girls, my affliction would also include dancing. The dentist would really hate that.

Return to sender

January 2, 2007

Well, the holidays are over and thank goodness. I don’t know for sure, but it seems like when Santa left the gifts for our children, he took their sanity back home to the North Pole with him. It’s been pure craziness around here. The kids all march around and declare a state of boredom in our house. We have, at last count, 3 televisions, 3 computers (all with DVD capability), 1 portable DVD player, 1 video game system, countless board games, many Christmases and birthdays worth of toys, gadgets and dolls, and don’t forget that we are at the end of the fifth warmest December on record, so they could be outside every single day. They’re bored, they say. How can these kids be bored when just two generations ago, kids played games called “Kick the can” and “Stick ball” because all they had to play with were empty cans and sticks. My kids are bored. And crazy. I’m almost to the point where I wouldn’t mind if they played games called “Kick the DVD player” and “Gadget ball”. I can’t even find the words to describe how crazy it has been in our house, so I’ll have to resort to using words I learned from watching cartoons on Saturday when I was a kid. Did I mention that now there are TV channels which show cartoons 24 hours a day? My kids are too bored for that. The cartoon words that describe the situation here are “Rassin’ Frassin’”. It’s been rassin’ frassin’. Now, if I wasn’t such a lazy goof and if I had my podcast up and running, you could hear me pronounce those words properly, with heavy accents on the Rs and As. I am working on producing a podcast because I feel that what the world really needs is another unqualified lunatic with a media outlet. Anyway, it’s been truly rassin’ frassin’ around here and if this is a gift that Santa left for us, you’ll find me in the return line.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Save the t-shirt. Save the world
Current mood: watching too much tv, apparently

There is a television show here in America (for my international friends) called, “Heroes” and it’s about normal people who discover that they have unusual powers and their struggle to understand and control them. One hero can bend time and space. Another can fly. Others can heal, paint the future, etc. I believe that I am one of those people.

I am StainMan.

In my hands, normal stains on clothing, linens, machinery, plant life and even humans, become unremovable. They become some sort of superstain. Anyone can make a stain with oil, grease, ink and blood. Those are easy. In my hands, water becomes a stain maker. In my super StainMan hands, the products which are marketed to remove stains become stain makers.

Did you read what I just wrote?

I can cause stains with the very products which were created to REMOVE stains. That is a power almost beyond my comprehension. It is certainly a power beyond the comprehension of those for whom I do the laundry. I became the chief laundry guy in my house more than 5 years ago when I became a stay-home dad. It sort of came with the job. However in those 5 years, I have ruined countless articles of clothing. In 5 years, I have never successfully removed a stain from anything. I have caused stains to appear in clothing by simply considering wearing that clothing and, apparently, by just being near the clothing.

I’m just now beginning to accept my power. I still don’t know how, or if, it can be controlled. I’m struggling to figure out how to use my power for good. Much like some of the “Heroes” characters, I’m having a difficult time seeing how my power can help others and how it doesn’t just make me a dangerous freak. I really don’t know how mankind can benefit from my super stain power. Maybe if the world becomes threatened by evil GQ Man who’s wearing a really nice suit that he loves. Maybe if the secret to controlling the universe is printed on my favorite new t-shirt. Maybe there’s a way.

Maybe.

Some times my power is almost too much for me to bear. It weighs upon me. It saps my energy. Some times, I can’t even look at the laundry, afraid of the untold damage I could do. I want to be a positive force. I’m afraid that one day my power will begin to control me, and I will become a force of evil. There will be no more new, white shirts. No more nice, crisply dressed people. No more beautiful, unstained walls in people’s homes.

I just feel that, if I could just connect with others who are like me, I could make sense of it all. Then, I could use my power for good and not evil. I just need to know …

are you on the list?

It just struck me

January 2, 2007

Monday, August 28, 2006

It just struck me

You know that chirping noise that eggs sometimes make when you boil them?
I guess it’s air escaping from inside the shell, but to me it sounds like chirping.
Not once in my life have I ever turned off the heat and tried to save the little baby
bird that might be inside one of those shells.

Sometimes, if I’m in a bad mood, the chirping noise makes me smile.
And sometimes, if I’m in a bad mood, I crack open those boiled eggs with just a
little bit of extra anticipation.

I’m so ashamed.

So S.A.H.D.

January 2, 2007

Monday, June 12, 2006

So S.A.H.D.

The following is a message I posted on a message board in response to
a debate/argument some people were having about stay-home parents and
kids and all kinds of touchy subjects. It got a pretty good reaction over there, so
I thought I might share it over here. Feel free to let me know what you think, even if
you hate it.
:0)

I’m a stay-at-home-dad (SAHD – and I don’t like that acronym one bit).
I freely admit that I’ve lost my mind. Actually, I turned my mind over to
the authorities when we made the decision that I was to quit my job and
spend all my time with pre-schoolers. I thought my mind was possibly
defective and wanted to get it fixed.

no luck. out of warranty.

So, I mindlessly trudged on. I truly do appreciate that I get to have a hug
from my kids when they wake up, hear them say, “Good morning, Daddy”
and then tell them to go back upstairs and brush their teeth. I don’t look
back wistfully at my former job and wonder what it would be like if I
hadn’t given it up. I do sometimes think of the boat I could buy with all
that extra money, but otherwise it’s best if I just realize how lucky I am
to be in this situation.

It can be hard and some days it takes quite a bit of effort to stay grounded
and centered and not get frustrated. I mean, just because I chose to be
a stay-home parent, that doesn’t mean my kids have suddenly become
the Brady kids, forming singing groups and performing in talent shows
wearing matching outfits. They’re still kids. I’ve been doing this for
five years now and I STILL have days where I wander the halls in
confusion muttering, “What the hell is going on around here? Where am
I?”

Bored? Sure they get bored. I have a 13 year old who can not sit still
for the TWO MINUTES between the time she’s ready for the bus and
the time the bus actually arrives. She fills those two minutes telling anyone
within earshot how bored she is. That back to school commercial with the
guy in Staples – I’ve done that. I re-enacted that commercial in the
Staples store. It went really well until I crashed my shopping cart into
another guy doing the SAME EXACT THING.

Being a stay-home parent is truly a blessing, but it is still really hard to
spend your entire day, seven days a week, with kids. Parents have to
find a way to be grown-ups from time to time. A supportive spouse makes
it much, much easier to handle. I am in awe of those single parents who
are taking care of everything solo. I don’t know how they do it and they
have my respect.

Some stay-home parents miss the working world and feel like they’ve
sabotaged their career and maybe they have. But the other day, my
son brought home from school a paper about what he wants to be when
he grows up. The paper said, “Fireman”. I asked him, “So, you really want
to be a fireman, huh? That’s pretty cool.”
He said, “Not really. They made me pick from a list.”
I asked, “Well, what do you really want to be?”

“A regular dad, like you”, he said.

That’s enough for me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More French and a bonus

Well, a guy can only learn so much French from a book, so I downloaded an audiobook of
French language instruction. It’s produced by Earworms MBT. It has music running through
the background while people speak words and phrases and the music is supposed to help you
remember. It’s actually pretty cool and enjoyable to listen to. The problem – the music is

well, it’s sort of …

sexy.

I feel like I’m listening to some sort of weird French porno movie.

bumchicka, bumchicka, bwowbwow

“Je voudrais un cafe au lait”.

bumchicka, bumchicka, bwowbwow

“I would like a coffee with milk.”

bumchicka, bumchicka

Mmmmm. Cafe!

It’s almost embarrassing listening to these people. However, this does confirm my suspicion
that French pornos probably do include coffee.

BONUS: two thoughts in one day!

My 3 year old son can count to five.

I did not sit down with him and teach him this skill. He knows how to count to five because
five is the number I count to before he gets in trouble. He’s pretty sure that the number that
comes after “five” is “That’s it, now you’re gonna get it.”

like this:
one
two
three
four
five
that’sitnowyou’regonnagetit

I can’t wait until he takes THAT knowledge with him to kindergarten.