Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Together As One

I've sung DJ Earworm's praises here before. I guess I'll do it again. Too many mashers slam things together and hope something sticks; not Earworm. He has a plan and everything slips into place. I often find the wholes so much better than their original parts. The guy is just a master of the tasteful pop mashup that mellows the coctail hour. The intricate poetry of his pieces lingers long after their novelty has worn off.

This is his latest with vid. To download the mp3, right click here and save target - it's free. If not, enjoy the vid - he mashed that too.

The Red Light

I'm a hands and knees, scrub-brush toting, toothbrush/toothpick tooling, cleaner. I'm not the greatest housekeeper, but when I get going it's obsessive. With two dogs, a cat, and a pair of toddlers the house's condition all too often depresses me and there never seems to be enough time to keep up. That's life.

My mother will attest I was not always this way. As a youth I could ignore any and all debris scattered around our home. My method was the long step. I didn't change much in my twenties as my girlfriend at the time would testify (tell 'em RC). Once I was living on my own, however, something changed. It wasn't just that I had no one else to clean up after me. I just got tired of looking at my own crud. Tidy was my watchword. It still is. So I clean now. It's part of my domestic reponsibilities. I don't like doing it, but I can't stand it not being done.

I try to get a fast run in every day; the old pick up and wipe up. A run of the vacuum a couple of times a week; a serious cleaning every two weeks and the ominous deep clean every couple of months. It isn't enough but it has to do.

When I got pneumonia a while back it preceeded the Boy's birthday party. We had guests coming and the house was a mess. Time and health didn't allow for a thorough cleaning so my wife decided to hire a cleaning service - professionals. When they left I went through the house and cleaned up their mess. So many things were missed - so many things done poorly - we might as well have never called them. And so it goes.

Our vacuum gets a workout sucking up all manner of hair, leaf litter, crushed pretzels and dried elbows of Mac & Cheese. It holds its own throughout, sucking its bags full on a regular basis. God bless Kenmore. There is a light on the vacuum. It is activated by an adjustable sensor that measures the amount of dirt intake. If there are still particulates going in, the light remains red. Once clean, the light changes to green. I keep the sensor on the most sensitive setting. I want all that dirt. It tends to make vacuuming a time-consuming process. The light takes forever to go off. I move the machine back and forth over one spot, my eyes focused on that red light. Eventually, it begins to flicker teasingly: red to green to red - another bit of filth sucked inside and then clear and then, wait, more dirt. When it finally sustains its green I move six inches to the right or left and repeat the process.

The red light controls my life. I talk to it. Curse it. Plead with it. I need it and hate it. I am not done until it says I'm done. I could, of course, just adjust the sensor, but then I would be missing dirt and I can't have that. I am a slave to my vacuum.

The theme of humans enslaved by their machines is an old one in fiction. It always involves our devices becoming smarter than their makers. It's much simpler than that. There aren't Cylons; just Kenmores. The red light is our future.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Oh Yeah

Ok, very much liking marriedtothesea now...

Uh Huh

Just to irritate some people...

From marriedtothesea via JMG

Jurist Imprudence

From the time I first registered to vote one of the things I most looked forward to, other than voting, was jury duty. Forget the boredom, the crap, the inconvenience. I liked the idea of participating. My ego allowed me the luxury of imagining myself utterly fair and impartial; the perfect juror. Over the span of close to three decades I waited for that call to service; the opportunity to judge my neighbor. It never came and I was left wondering how friggin random the process really was.

Then last year the mail brought the letter. I was to be at the courthouse at a specific hour on a specific day. I should have rejoiced; instead I bitched. I was raising a little boy not quite two and I did not intend, let alone have the ability, to unload that burden. My wife took that day off so that I could tell it to da judge. Called into the box for voir dire I told the man in the robe of my predicament, answered a few questions and was sent packing. Why couldn't they have called me when I was free and single and loved the idea of blowing off work for a couple of days?

A couple of weeks back my wife spent the day doing the same thing. She escaped what promised to be a two week trial through the breastfeeding loophole and a prepaid vacation to Disneyland. Bye, bye.

Saturday brought another notice for me. I am to appear on May 19 in the same courthouse. I now have two toddlers to oversee. I will have to beg the court's indulgence. I shall peer for no one, again. I have this feeling that once my children are finally in school, my days relatively free for such citizenry, I will never hear from the justice system again.

If I were on trial I would not want the people determining my fate to be chosen from a shallow pool of retirees, slackers and bitter victims who couldn't nail down a decent excuse. I don't have a solution for this, but isn't there a better way?

Sunday, April 27, 2008


As I prepared the Boy's bath the other night he sat naked on the floor, waiting for the tub to fill. He was quiet, anticipatory. Suddenly, in a panic, he announced, "I can't find my marble."
"What marble," I asked.
"My marble. I can't find it."
"I didn't know you had a marble," I offered, surprised. Small, easily swallowed objects are not generally permitted in a home with a three year old and a one year old.
"Yeah, I have a marble, but I can't find it. Do you have a marble?"
"No," I answered, "Daddy lost his marbles long ago." (Years from now, Boy, you'll laugh and laugh)
"Does Mommy have a marble?"
"No, I don't think she does, either."
"Yeah she does. She told me."
"Ok, if she said so."

He was quiet again. Then, looking over his shoulder at his backside, and using his hand to pull at the cheeks of his ass, he said, "I really have to find my marble. It mystappeared."

The first thought through my head at that point was that, indeed, a small object had been easily swallowed, and its less than glorious return was imminent.

"Boy," I said, in a panic that now superceded his, "What are you talking about?" I wrestled him up from his seating position and, as he looked on over that shoulder, I delicately examined the potential exit point.

"There it is," he exclaimed. He pointed excitedly to the small, round, birthmark on his right ass cheek. "There my marble!"

I sighed. "That isn't a marble, Boy. It's called a mole. A mole - not a marble."

"Oh. Yeah, we find my mole. Thank you, Daddy."

Yann Orhan

A French amateur photographer and musician, Yann Orhan impresses me with his beautiful and disturbingly alienated images. I wish there was more information about him, or that my french was better.

Because There's A Website For Every One #40

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Because There's A Website For Every One #39

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Because There's A Website For Every One #38

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Because There's A Website For Every One #37

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Because There's A Website For Every One #36

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Vacation Poll

By a 2 to 1 margin we apparently are whipped by our kids, at least when it comes to vacations. Seems that wants outweigh needs for most of us. We just can't say no to our kids. Hey, in our defense, they make it awfully hard to say no.

For the next poll, let's get timely: what are you doing with your big government check?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Disney Magic?

After digesting last week's Disney experience, I have a few notes about it.

We stayed at a Disney hotel at the park; The Grand Californian. Done as an Arts & Crafts Lodge of the type one might have seen around Tahoe in the twenties, the hotel gets all the details right but the irony is overwhelming. The Arts & Crafts movement was based in organic forms that featured huge wooden beams morticed and tenoned together and expressed an affection for natural materials. Shingles usually clad the exterior and art nouveauesque forms predominate. The Grand Californian, like a movie set (or theme park) gets it right on the surface, but when examined closely it all falls apart. The huge beams that predominate the structure are not wood, but poured concrete covered with a plastic resin that imitates the intricate wood grain of the originals. The shingles are the same; not wood, but plastic. The whole of it betrays the very form it claims to represent. It is not A&C. It is some Hollywood imitation of the form.

I arise early every morning out of habit rather than choice. I grab a cup of coffee and usually watch the sun come up. At Disney my routine continued. I would head down to a little alcove by the pool and welcome the day. The first morning, as I sipped my coffee, I noticed the sound of nature was a little overwhelming; birds twittering, frogs croaking, loons looning. After a few minutes it occurred to me that there was no way those creatures could exist there. I looked up and down, and then found the speakers. Disney pipes in the sound of the wilderness. Of course, at 6:00 am on the dot all the nature stops abruptly and is replaced by new age music. A hotel security guard walked by that first morning and asked me what I thought of the fake nature. I told him I had just noticed it and laughed. He said I should wait till the wolf howls, and then added, "Just kidding."

In the hotel rooms, when the call of nature hits in the middle of the night and you toddle off to the bathroom, you may turn on the light. When it comes on you notice how little illumination it provides. Then you notice it slowly, almost imperceptibly, becoming brighter. The light is on a self dimmer that takes a full two minutes to reach its maximum intensity. It allows the eyes to adjust, protecting you from the middle of the night, oh my god I'm blind, totally miss the toilet, disaster.

Speaking of bathrooms, the shower curtains feature a well-conceived Arts & Crafts print of a forest, but, being Disney, the forest is home to Bambi and Thumper. Weird to do your business with little doe eyes (yes, I know Bambi's male) staring at you.

No Free Coffee!

I'm sure I will have more to go on about. Hey, I have so little in my life to share.


The funny keeps on coming. After the Lowes anecdote the other day I received a message on my answering machine yesterday that said:

Lex, hi. This is Fred with Lowes. You left your AARP card in our filter department the other day. We will hold it for you if you would like to pick it up.

Very funny, Paul.

I will have to wait till after my hip replacement to get it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

(Special K) = X+Y, -(Special K) = X+X

In a weird study that showed up today, women apparently have some control over the sex of the children they bear. Although men contribute either the X or the Y chromosome that combines with the woman's X to determine male (XY) or female (XX), women who don't eat breakfast around the time of conception are more likely to have a girl than a boy. It seems that evolution made it more efficient for the species to have girls in times of famine and boys in times of plenty. Men can reproduce more frequently, but women more dependably, so when times are good (and women are eating more as a result) more boys get born. When times get lean (and women are eating less) more girls show up. The trend in most western countries has been skewing towards more girls primarily because we don't tend to eat breakfast. The study found that just a bowl of cereal in the morning can increase the likelihood of a boy. The fascinating algebra of genetics strikes again.

So, Curry, get that girl to eat something in the morning, ok?

Lowe Blow

Out at Lowes picking up air filters for the furnace. I have the kids because my wife is at the dentist. An employee about my age, wearing the ubiquitous vest, is in the aisle with the filters and notices my charming children. He says hi to them and comments on how cute they are. I tell my son to say hi to the nice man, but shyness overcomes the Boy and he just asks me for a hug. As I squeeze my son, the employee says, "Ahhh, they sure love their grandpas, don't they?"

As we leave I tell my son that I was wrong; the employee was not a nice man.


Ok, panic has slipped into some quarters regarding the "story"™. Sweat not. It's just a story, not the SATs. We're just sharing here. Nothing more than we do every day on these damned blog things. Relax. Hell, I haven't posted yet either and I started this thing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Little Hiawatha

The hotel at the Mouse House had a channel on the TV specifically dedicated to old Disney cartoons; 3 or 4 repeated, ad nauseum. We found them useful when trying to put the kids down for a nap or just to keep them occupied while we showered or dressed. The Boy became obsessed with them, partly because he knew nothing Disney prior to going and partly because he almost never watches "cartoons". Since returning home he has talked incessantly about a particular fave. Thankfully, youtube comes to the rescue. So sit back and enjoy with the Boy, the cute, albeit mildly incorrect, Little Hiawatha. Hey, at least it isn't friggin Steamboat Willie.

Land Of Fake Believe

Back from, well, vacation, I guess it's called. Mouse House was as expected; dripping with irony and plastic. The Boy, though he enjoyed himself immensely, found no ride other than the train desirable. Most of them were "scary" and so he was content to sit in the stroller and watch his sister spin and loop and fly by. The Goofy/Pluto/Donald pals were anything but; "NOOOOO! Make them stop," being his general response when they approached. Kind of mine, as well. It was Disneyland.

In the above image, the boy is hiding under my arm, screaming in terror.

I'm sure I will reference more of the experience in the coming weeks. Like roughage, it will take some time to digest. Just having a difficult time returning to blog mode.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Torture Poll

The suffering knows no equal than We Built This City, though Achy, Breaky Heart would probably do the trick in a pinch. Interrogation could succeed with some Celine Dion, but strangely, You Light Up My Life seems to frighten no one. There was one vote for something other than the choices, and let's face it, when it comes to torture the victim rarely gets a choice. Jack Bauer's arsenal is more varied than just some kneecapping or waterboarding.

For the next poll, pick the importance of need versus desire in vacations with spawn.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


It occurs to me that at this moment I am such an iconic American dad. It's the crack of dawn. The family is just waking. I am packing the car with kid's crap. We are driving to Disneyland. I don't even like Chevy Chase. When did this happen?

Bye all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Doctor, Doctor, Gave Me The News

Well, the verdict on the knee is in. Torn lateral meniscus. Possible small tear to the lateral collateral ligament. Wait and see. He wants to see if it will heal of its own accord, at least to a functional state, which takes about 6 weeks. So, I see him in a month and hope for the best. If it doesn't do its job, the surgeon will do his. It was good news, really. I don't want to get cut anymore.

We're off to Mouse House tomorrow and will be back Sunday. No posts till then. Try to survive without.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Yo Baby, Eat This

The Girl's nutritional demands have changed. When I say demands, I mean demands. In addition to the adult food she picks at throughout regular meals, she has demanded only yogurt for her other meals. She is refusing all the other veggie/fruit items that we so carefully prepared from wholesome, organic originals and stored in the freezer. The Boy at this point still loved the stuff, but she will have none of it. Only yogurt, and only Yo Baby Yogurt, and only if while feeding her you hold the container in such a way that she can view and point to the baby on the front of the package. Turn the package and prepare for refusal and fit. This just doesn't bode well for our future.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Blog Of The Week

Purely His.
Don't miss the links section, the book reviews, or Modest Monday.
Or the reprint of her article, A Sacrifice for Freedom.
Or the helpful post for the Christian Family Organizer.
Or the Olive Garden Salad Dressing Recipe.
This blog Rules!!

The Girl On The Mantle

The girl sits on our mantle. She is no more than 14 or 15 and possesses the pleasant, but seen-it-all smile of adolescence. She wears a light blouse buttoned to the collar and behind her the blocky angles of San Francisco extend to the horizon. I have no idea who she is. She is identified in the title only as "Young Girl". We are quite fond of her.

Four years ago, sifting through Ebay's offerings of bad, or mass-produced, or fake art, I found the painting. It was a shock. The current bid was low - very low - and the artist was one whose work I had long coveted, though it was her photographs that had most held my interest. I was initially leery; small doubts about its authenticity lingered. I finally made a bid after emailing the gallery and getting reassured. That bid turned out to be the last and the painting arrived the following week. She's resided upon our mantle since then.

Lucienne Bloch enjoyed a long and fascinating life. Born in 1909, daughter of the composer Ernest Bloch, she worked in many artistic mediums - painting, glass, woodcuts, sculpture - but is best known for her murals and photography. Schooled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris she returned to America and landed the opportunity to work with Diego Rivera in the early 30's. She assisted him, grinding his pigments in mortar and pestle during part of his prolific period of mural production. She also befriended and became the close confidant to Frida Kahlo, despite Kahlo's words when first meeting her husband's new assistant: "I hate you."

Bloch is well-known for her intimate photos of Rivera and Kahlo and their work. The only existing photos of Rivera's infamous Rockefeller Center mural, that Rockefeller ordered destroyed, were taken by Bloch when she snuck a camera in under the guise of looking at it one last time.

At the request of Frank Lloyd Wright, she took a position teaching sculpture at Taliesen. While there she reunited with Diego and Frida and ended up with them in Detroit. Diego asked her to re-interest Frida in painting. Lucienne happily set up a studio in the apartment and it was there she and Frida spent their days painting and teaching one another english and spanish. When Frida had a painful miscarriage Lucienne helped her recover by working with her on small paintings.

All that time with Rivera/Kahlo helped a still young Lucienne develop much of her artistic style. She used it to her advantage when she went to work with the WPA painting murals. Many of them can still be found adorning buildings throughout the country. In 1991 Madonna became acquainted with Lucienne while looking into making a movie about Frida. As a result, Madonna funded the restoration of one of Lucienne's more famous murals of the 30's; the Evolution of Music in New York's George Washington High School.

In 1935 Lucienne married Stephen Pope Dimitroff, another Rivera assistant. The two of them settled eventually in Northern California to raise their children and continue their work. Over the years most of America's preeminent muralists came to them to learn or improve their craft. She also frequently worked as a photographer for Life magazine. Ms. Bloch passed away in 1999.

I have always been curious about our painting; who is the girl, was it a commissioned or personal. The title and the date, 1965, were the only pieces of info I had. Yesterday, I emailed Ms. Bloch's granddaughter, who oversees Lucienne's legacy. Her name is also Lucienne. I asked her if she had any information about the painting. We sent emails back and forth throughout the day as I provided pictures and details and she did her best to help me out. In the end she decided it was a commissioned piece though she did not know who the subject was. She remembered when it showed up on Ebay and asked if that was where I had gotten it. She said she would ask her mother about it but doubted her mother would know much more.

It was strange to correspond with the granddaughter of someone who had painted the picture on my mantle. Despite the dearth of information available about the painting, I somehow feel more connected to it just through a couple of emails. Though Bloch's paintings rarely come on the market and even images of any of them are hard to find, its value isn't something with which I'm concerned - it's worth what you pay for it is the best appraisal. But my fondness for it is substantial. I won't likely part with it.

The girl will stay on our mantle looking down on our family, its brushstrokes a link to nearly a century of history, art and social upheaval. Maybe that's what the girl is smiling about. Maybe her creator passed along all of it to her. Maybe she really has seen it all. Lucienne certainly did.

More Modernism

On the subject of modernism, the Padre tipped me to Jones, Partners: Architecture (J,P:A) this week. A firm out of Southern California, their designs are fun, exhilarating, and very masculine, while still feeling warm. The residential designs in particular are appealing. I like their use of cargo containers in various configurations as modular housing; green and functional. There is an interesting interview at Slow Home with Wes Jones, the firm's founder, about their philosophy.

Be warned: the firm's website is flash, takes a while to load, and is rather unwieldy considering their nice designs.

Modern McKinley

Bay Area painter, Tom McKinley's sense of humor is finely displayed in his most recent exhibition at the Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco. While maintaining an obvious affection for modernism, his paintings poke at the form's sterility and lifelessness. Call it an homage/smack. The exhibition runs through May 3rd. Wish I could afford a couple.

Bed Poll

The bed poll totally destroyed my theory. I postulated that women sleep more frequently on the right and men, the left. The results, however, were more evenly divided with an insignificant edge to male/left. Another theory shot. Oh well...

For the next poll, forget waterboarding. Pick your poison in a Cheney world.

Because There's A Website For Every One #35

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Because There's A Website For Every One #34

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Because There's A Website For Every One #33

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Because There's A Website For Every One #32

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Because There's A Website For Every One #31

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Green Thing

So I'm bouncing twixt blogs, noticing the same lack of posts for the day as has I, when I see a twitter a-flitter upon the curry's board. It sayeth:

It was an odd one when after doin yrs of eco npo work I realized this green thing has nothing to do with saving the earth.

Not having any idea to what this references or from whence it's derived, but suspecting that curry is bitching bout the ecowarriors' failure to comprehend that which they espouse, the gears of opinion starts a twirling in my head. So here I goes...

The green thing has nothing to do with saving the earth, nor does any eco movement. My great green gripe is that, whether the mighty forces behind these slogans/messages/ideas are idiots or just bad marketers, the message is stupid. If they want to Save the Earth? That's simple - jim jones kool-aid. Planet has seen worse than us and seems to have come out of it fine, if a little burnt around the edges. It will be here long after we've taken our final bow. It will be here long after the last of the styrofoam and fallout and bronze statuary have slipped from its memory.

The real question/message/marketing slogan/idea? Save ourselves. Global warming, collapsing biodiversity, pollution, lack of fresh water, you name it; the planet could care less. We are the ones in trouble. Of course, we'll take a few species along with us - our generosity knows no bounds - but the big blue marble will shrug it off. The Dinos have a bigger space in the old album than we do, and probably a bit more mourning from Terra Firma than can be expected for us.

Not a proponent of the "Mother Earth" idea am I: the planet doesn't think. However, I do see it as a living organism. We just happen to be along for the ride and like any guest, if we don't play well with others we're gonna get kicked off. Parasites are we and if we mess around too much with the host, its immune system will kick our asses. Whether it's the summer house in the Hamptons suddenly knee deep in a bayou or Ebola hopping a flight to Denver, we are now a target. That's the message. It isn't Save the Planet; it isn't Us vs. Them; it's my way or the highway. The Earth and its minions are out of patience, so if you want to live, if you want your children to live, KNOCK IT OFF!

Sorry, just feeling pissy tonight about enviro-idiots who can't seem to get the message, let alone the concept, right.

Lest someone think I am referring to Curry when I rant and rave, fear not; he gets it and always has.

The Old Mouse House

In anticipation of our Mouse House trip this week, I've been doing some prep work that keeps me from doing real prep work. I've been seeking out old home movies of other people's Disney vacations. Corny, but it beats packing. Weirdly enough, today Daddytypes posted a link from boingboing that was exactly what I was looking for.

Robbins Barstow and family won a scotch tape contest in 1956 and the prize was a trip to the newly opened Magic Kingdom. He made a home movie of it that's goofy, dad-dumb, and really kind of charming. It's half an hour long, but the nostalgia and sweetness of it is quite affecting. Maybe my cynicism about this trip should be lightened a bit. You'll have to follow the link as it won't embed.

In the meantime, here's some footage from the 60's/70's that isn't quite as charming.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Challenge

There are too many stories. Too many stories to share, too many stories to hear. I don't care. I like them. I like mine and I like others'. So... I offer up a challenge. To my bloggers in kind, all storytellers par excellence, I challenge you to tell a story. But not just any story. I want the stories that no one ever believes; the ones that, though true, defy comprehension when shared. We all have those incidents in our pasts that, when they took place, we knew no one was ever going to buy. Lay yours on me.

The challenge goes out to Banks, Rebecca, Goz, Bluestem, and Curry (minus the "a"s), as well as anyone else up for the work. If you have no blog, drop it in my comments. The cut-off is Sunday, the 20th, though it's not a hard date. I will post mine, the following Monday or Tuesday, depending on how much energy the House of Mouse sucks from me (I don't even know which story I will choose yet). If you make one up, I guess that's ok - who would know - but you have true ones, so why waste them. Consider this my glove across your cheek.

I should add, this ain't a contest mes amis; just a glorious conflagration.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Parenting Tip

It doesn't work. If you tie balloons to an incessantly cranky little girl you can not achieve any kind of considerable lift. Other methods of disposal must be considered.


MRI took place on knee this a.m. Following SOP the tech offered only the cryptic, "Good luck with the knee." I'll have to wait for the doctor next week to make a decipherable diagnosis. On the up side, I have a very nice pair of disposable earplugs to show for the experience.

Heavenly Gift

Much rejoicing!!! Bouncy seat has arrived!!! Slumber will make its return!!! Please.

The H Plan

From the Boy's detailed proposal to build the letter "H" utilizing oversized legos: "It has two sides and two edges and goes back and forth and back. It have to stand. H is for happy. It easier than S."