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PERSONAL, SPORTS (permalink) 07.31.2007
oh marty, can i see you for a moment?
bella spent the last two weeks at a circus camp. bella has been pretty keen on circusy stuff since seeing a trapeze artist perform at a shakespeare festival a few years back (when the girl we were watching finished bella was the first to rise and exuberantly applaud). at the conclusion of this camp bella informed us that she would be conducting her own camp at home for us, her family. marty and i nodded in support saying that was a fine idea and then dismissed it. moments after getting out of bed the next morning bella came up to me, handed me a sheet of name badges and told me to get ready because class was about to begin.


bella set her school up in our living room. she placed every pillow in the house in the center of the floor. marty somehow got a pass which left me, alex and anthony as bella's only pupils. she began by running us through a series of tuck and roll drills. next bella and i worked on a move where she stands on my shoulders, her arms stretched wide in the air (we're getting pretty good at this maneuver if you ever see us and would like a viewing). next i had to work on a headstand. bella demonstrated how to start out which is this precarious upside-down tripod like pose which i can't even begin to describe. once you're in it though and have your balance you are to raise your legs vertically in the air. i couldn't believe how hard it was to straighten my legs perfectly upright without haphazardly tipping over. seeing me struggle bella came to spot me and started trying to push and hold my legs up. watching, from my inverted view, her laborious attempt to get me into position made me start laughing, much to the chagrin of my six year old spotter. she let go and i fell flat still laughing. i was chastised for not being serious and having such heavy legs. fortunately this impasse concluded our first day of tutelage.

as we wrapped up bella informed me that for our real production to the neighborhood folks a few weeks out i would have to wear appropriate attire which is a leotard. when i confessed to not having one she said i'd have to make one. when i said i didn't know how to sew she said aunt cheri did and i should get her help. since aunt cheri lives in chicago i told bella i thought i could maybe fashion one out of a t-shirt. embarrassingly, this wasn't a lie. a friend of mine told me how her ten year old son got this notion of making a wrestlers bib. to do so, while naked he put on a t-shirt and then stretched it down into his groin and clipped the front and back together with a safety-pin. he was quite proud of his creation and ran around the house playing for a bit. when it came time to take it off, he hit some trouble. he found he was unable to get a good enough handle on the safety pin to undo it. he obviously became vexed by this and went to his mother somewhat distressed. she studied the situation and concluded there was only one way to approach the predicament; roll her sleeves up and go in. i'm convinced it is these unique moments that happen behind the closed doors of people's homes that create the special bonds that make families close and forever connected. because there is little doubt that if i performed a similar service for someone we're either related or seriously dating. the only question remaining is who is the lucky soul living in my house getting tapped when papa troy needs to make tinkle in the potty between acts.

PHOTO (permalink) 07.27.2007
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.
july 2007

KIDS, PERSONAL (permalink) 07.25.2007
a series of threes
three things that put baby anthony immediately to sleep:
  1. the car
  2. the bike carrier
  3. the television

three things that make alexander weep:
  1. bleeding wounds
  2. people leaving the house without letting him push them on the buttocks
  3. bella touching him with an index finger

three things isabella does to agitate people:
  1. poking them with an index finger
  2. hiding their belongings
  3. pinching them in the groin

three things that make marty sleep deprived:
  1. her children
  2. the neighbors wind chimes
  3. season three of LOST

three things my kids do to wake me up:
  1. whispering
  2. tickling
  3. suffocation

PERSONAL (permalink) 07.20.2007
why are the lights dimmed? and who put clean sheets on the bed?
a kind soul sent me a very thoughtful piece of correspondence yesterday. it read:

Become the most powerful lover in your sexual partner's life with these products!
We offer best prices on the most qualitative brand-name goods for men!
We don't offer fake - all our brand-name goods are 100% generic!

while i'm touched by this individual's concern for my intimate well-being, they must realize that by being my partner's only lover, i'm already the most powerful man-cake in her stable. i'm also her most passionate, caring, skilled, hunky, ravenous and capable. granted this math also makes me her most fetid, vile, obese, abject, fumbling and inept paramour as well.

either way you cut it, i wasn't really in need of their aids but in the end proved unable to resist the persuasive claim that all of their BRAND NAME products were 100% GENERIC and ended up buying two of everything. except that one thing which i had to get three of. i mean i do want to be her most prepared lover as well.

SOCIETY, PERSONAL (permalink) 07.18.2007
may i fetch your slippers and paper miss marty?
some of the neighborhood ladies have been convening about a smooth-talking salesman that's been trolling our streets. since he works during the day, he mostly catches the stay-at-home moms. when he approaches one he quickly opens with some insightful and relevant compliment and then seamlessly rolls into a friendly course of banter. by the time he begins pitching his wares the ladies are engaged enough that they feel unable to snub or refuse him outright as if he were some perfect stranger trying to wrangle money from their home equity lines. in one of their sidewalk pow-wows about the topic one of the ladies suggested what they often suggest when uncertain of an answer to an everyday and possibly awkward situation, "we should ask marty. marty will know what to do." marty is the no-frills, cut-to-the-chase, nip-it-in-the-bud mom on the block.

an example. a few years back we were at a bbq at a neighbors house. there were about six families there and kids were running and screaming inside and out. a small group of parents were standing in the kitchen talking when a kid came running in from the backyard. the child's father stopped him and told him to go back outside because his feet were dirty and he was going to track mud on the floor. the five year old looked at him, turned and ran on, ignoring the instruction. the man looked back to the group passing a hand in the air towards the now gone child and said:

what am supposed to do with that? the kid listens to nothing.

at least he stopped when you addressed him. mine don't even do that.

THE HOSTESS (while mixing a salad)
you should ask marty. marty knows what to do.

THE FATHER (turning to marty who was quietly standing in the room)
so marty. what should i do?

are you really asking me this?

yes i am.

you go get him, you sit his ass in a chair and you tell him he's on time out for five minutes for not listening.

sit him on a chair huh? like he'd stay.

you make him stay. you're a grown man john. are you telling me you can't hold a forty pound child on a chair for five minutes. i've held two down while making brownies and talking on the phone.

so you see. marty is viewed as a bit of a problem-solver in our neck of the woods. her advice might not always be in agreement with all folks, but the girl always has a position and in these hectic, break-neck days that seems to count for something. so when the neighborhood women were stymied by the pearly-toothed home security salesmen they came to marty. they explained the scenario and marty quietly listened. quietly that is until they got to the part of the episode where if the lady starts leaning towards the husband-card, the man quickly says "oh, if i'm talking to wrong person here, i can come back when the decision-maker of the home is in." when marty heard this she guffawed, like one of those great full-belly guffaws. when done she told the ladies that if he appeared on our stoop and made that implication she would say: "oh the man of the house? yeah, he's tied to tree in the backyard for sassin' me. you should go talk to him. he'd probably enjoy the company."

hearing marty so confidently regale the now-laughing ladies in front of our house gives me a sense of pride in being paired with a woman of such conviction. that said, when the laughter dies and the everyone is back in the homes, the strong words resonate in my head leaving a slight chill because of the bravado and confidence in which they were stated. it's almost as if this thing has already happened. or in the least could happen. at any rate, on days i don't update the site, you now may have an inkling as to why.

TRAVEL, KIDS (permalink) 07.17.2007
we need a tent that can fit twelve personalities
regarding yesterday's sassafras post, there's more. i captured this series of images on the second morning of our last camp outing. when the first photo was snapped anthony had been awake for one hour. this means marty had been awake one minute shy of an hour. alex is about ten minutes into his day at this point and me, the shooter, about two minutes in. if marty looks chagrined, it's because anthony is a morning person and marty is not and by rule all non-morning people hold great contempt for all morning people, especially when they birthed them. anthony is the first such human living in our home and we're all still adjusting to his peculiar and inconsiderate nature.

shot number two is nothing more than further evidence of anthony-dramatics. he is our best shot of having a child do shakespeare professionally. also in this image, you can see the mayhem on the alex's left knee. he scored a three-inch slice from a rock while playing soccer with his uncle the night before. the real culprit here is a pair of shoes three sizes too big for him. they were passed down by his cousin and alex has refused to wear anything else since obtaining them. shockingly he somehow got tripped up in these man-shoes while playing soccer in the woods after dark. dumb luck that. who could have possibly seen that mysterious result coming? as a bonus prize, that foul looking tear on his knee was re-aggravated four times during our nine days in colorado and is just now on the full mend.

this third shot i simply call PLAYER. anthony's saving grace is his ability to take the form a very chilled-out cat when he feels the looks from the family (namely marty) are getting too derisive (morning-people haters) for comfort. you'll note this laid-back, street-corner look has markedly softened his mother's gaze.

and now if i can direct your attention to the left side of the tent ...

keep going ... just a bit more ... there you go ... here you'll find the real royal of the family. queen isabella doing what she's doing everyday at 10am since birth. you should know such skills are not acquired, they are inherited. this was my contribution to my daughter's core pleasure in life.

KIDS, HYGIENE (permalink) 07.13.2007
you're going to need another piece of chalk
two nights ago i was getting the kids ready for bed. bella was sitting on the toilet with a book spread on her lap, anthony was scooting around the bathroom floor playing with the closet door and alex was naked and about to get his teeth brushed. as i was working over the sink putting paste on the toothbrush alex called out "aaahhhh. anthony has my penis." i wheeled to see anthony with an outstretched arm sitting right in front of alex. he had pinched, quite heartily, the uncircumcised foreskin of alex's penis between his fingers and was pulling it towards the ground. i took a moment to react because i was astounded at how far anthony was able to stretch alex's miniature member. alex's shrieking turned to hysterical laughter and he started chanting "anthony has my penis! anthony has my penis!" to which i said "ANTHONY! let go of your brother's penis!" to which bella very sadly said "i wish i had a penis." when i yelled at anthony he let go and looked at me, smiling. i turned and sensed the score keeper in my brain writing the words LET GO OF YOUR BROTHER'S PENIS in neat letters on a chalkboard and then placing a single hash mark to the left of it. while this accounting was going on alex started gleefully singing his song again "anthony has my penis! anthony has my penis!" to which i again shouted "ANTHONY! i said let go of your brother's penis!" this bought me a second hash mark.

last night marty had to attend a neighborhood meeting which put me in sole charge of dinner and pre-bed prep. this exact situation is the reason the phrase "got his ass handed to him" was ever invented. truthfully, these evenings can go a couple of ways but most often you hear a lot of "you always let us watch tv when mom isn't here" or "when is mom coming home" or "that's not what mom would do". last night actually went ok. i brought dinner home with me removing one of the obstacles. after dinner we walked down the street where in the summertime there is always a legion of little humans running around half naked while parents sit on stoops sipping wine. on this particular night the kids scored some of those glow in the dark bracelets like you see at amusement parks and carnivals. i let them run wild until they started to get shiny and then ushered them home for baths and bed. we walked in the door and i told them to all strip and head upstairs while i got drinks. i was at the kitchen sink when alex called me. when i looked up he was standing in the foyer totally naked with his neon green bracelet placed around his penis and scrotum. while i took this scene in he innocently asked "daddy, do you know where anthony is?"

QUOTES, KIDS (permalink) 07.12.2007
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.
just a child

SPORTS, TV (permalink) 07.11.2007
the apa recommends plastic bubbles for all children under the age of 15
in regard to my wistful helmet-free bike memory yesterday, i'm in a bit of a snit over this. i predict that within twenty years all children will wear helmets while simply walking around out of doors. why? because some kid in minnesota will have tripped on an uneven seam of sidewalk thus illuminating the obvious perils of cement-based ambulation. and our children will then share their wistful recollections of a youth rife with chasing lightning bugs and playing hop-scotch sans headgear.

on the positive side, head sheaths of the future will be much more stylish and unobtrusive.

and speaking of head-related peril, i recently had one of my most surreal conversations ever. me and this guy, breckenridge pete, were talking about the sopranos and he was telling me about his three points of contention with the show. if you haven't watched the whole series and plan to ... stop reading because spoilers follow ... he primarily cited three plot-lines he was dissatisfied with:
  1. the lack of closure on adrianna's disappearance.
  2. the lack of closure on the pending rico case against tony.
  3. and like many others, the lack of closure with the ending itself.

i defended the last point by saying there isn't a follower of the show that won't remember HOW the sopranos ended. he quietly nodded in agreement and then went on to add:

and, i didn't like the phil leotardo hit either.

why not? too wacky with the car and the head and the puking youngsters.

no, not that. it's just that a human head is stronger than you think.

WHAT! are you telling me that an SUV wouldn't have rolled over a guy's head like that.

not if it was just rolling out of gear like that. no way.


really. it would never happen. the human skull is actually quite rigid.

you say this with some level of conviction. do i want to know how you've come to believe this?

i'm guessin' not.

and i'm guessin' breckenridge pete might buck some current day notions were his kids were still members of the trikes and skates contingent.

PERSONAL (permalink) 07.10.2007
mad, sad and glad ... in that order
it was twenty years ago today that i left colorado. i had just graduated high school and was headed to saint louis to attend college. it was not my choice. i had forfeited my option to stay in the state by not taking control of a situation earlier. this was one of my first severe lessons in life. as i pulled off I-25 and onto I-70 east i recall repeatedly looking into the rear-view mirror, watching the mountains dissipate in the distance. i couldn't cry outright because my home-town pal snake was cheerily riding shotgun next to me. his jovial spirit was certainly a by-product of his golden two-way ticket.

time has shown, leaving fort collins and colorado was one of the best doses of medicine i ever ingested. staying there would have stunted my emotional growth more than a pack a day habit would have stymied my physical maturity. leaving the serene shelter of fort collins granted me not one but two re-inventions of myself (the first of which lacked some of the potential i thought possible). it allowed me to shake off my adolescent conditioning and live a life governed by natural instincts rather than societal expectations. i'm unable to quantify how this change in approach improved my life and ultimate fulfillment other than to say it was immense.

another unanticipated boon of the change was oddly enough my theatre-going. before moving away, i had never gone to movies alone. after the move, i went solo quite frequently (having no one to go with) and found it to be wonderfully liberating. i've actually tested this theory against real-life folks and find it to be mostly predictable. that is, people who live in their hometown seldom or never go to movies alone and those who have had some major change in geography will sit alone without compunction if not by preference. i know it's sad to to insert this sophomoric discovery in with such a heartfelt reveal but i'm disproportionately proud of this observation.

i do have great adoration and warmth towards colorado and love saying i am from the state. a pre-boom, pre-california colorado where kids rode bikes into the mountains without helmets, routinely ice-skated on wild lakes and always knew on which horizon the sun would set. i may return one day but will do so as a different person and with different expectations. and thanks to in-town family i love and a job i greatly enjoy in saint louis, i will patiently do so many, many years from now.

KIDS (permalink) 07.09.2007
i fear the metamorphosis has begun
i confided in marty that i thought i needed to find a book on father-daughter relationships because i've really been struggling with bella the last few months. it occurred to me that my trials could be more about her age than her girl-ness but in thinking through the specifics, i truly feel it's more of a gender problem. after saying she'd keep her eye open for such a book marty told me of an exchange she and bella had earlier that night at bedtime:

this was a special day for me because now that we're back home from vacation i got to focus on being you're mom again and i really enjoyed being able to do that today.

(a full minute of silence passes)

i have one of your hair barrettes hidden behind my bed.

while bella's response is precious on several levels it also speaks volumes about the sort of challenges i'm facing with her. i mean it's not like she can hide my hair barrette when angry with me so her reactions manifest themselves in less obvious and even less decipherable ways.

i'd like to put this on the record as yet another example of how my sucky hair is ruining my life.

TRAVEL (permalink) 07.06.2007
my only real question is how did you come up with 81 cents?
on the morning of our last day at the fort collins hilton, i found our week-ending bill had been slid under our door. in addition to the expected and numerous charges there were several line items listed as LOCAL CALL $0.81. i went to the phone to see if such a charge was noted there. it was not. i then scanned other visible literature in the room and didn't see any such notification. i had faith that had i appeared at the front desk with the bill clenched in my fist, the charges would have been 'forgiven', with a smile even. i did not do this because it is the mere fact that they'd put me through this exercise for something as inconsequential as a local phone calls that made me agree to pay this final insult. and i wanted to leave with an appropriate amount of bile in my throat as to remember this experience.

bottom-line the hilton is meant for business travelers who aren't ultimately responsible for the net expense of their trip and not a family trying to enjoy a summer vacation. i can clearly see that. i just think they should be big enough to own up to their smarmy way of business and notify prospective guests that their purpose is one of fleecing and not pleasing their customers.


TRAVEL (permalink) 07.04.2007
i write this through gritted teeth and taut sphincter
the hilton engineer noted in yesterday's post had mentioned that if i just needed to check email and stuff they had some computers in their business center off the main lobby i could use. needing to send a single message i stopped in there today. after sitting down and pressing the space bar to wake the workstation i was met with an introductory screen asking me to swipe a credit card on the side of the monitor to charge the fifty cents a minute usage fee to.

i'll give them one thing, the are impressively comprehensive in the fleecing of their customers.

TRAVEL (permalink) 07.03.2007
reading this review will cost you $10.99
i hate the hilton.

let me back up.

last thursday morning me and mine piled into our family van and pulled away from our home's curb in the direction of fort collins, colorado for my high school's twenty year reunion. the drive from saint louis to fort collins takes between twelve and sixteen hours depending on wether you're riding with me or my father, respectively. using the band-aid removal theory, my intention was to drive straight through. after one hour of smooth sailing we watched the brakelights stack up in front of us which resulted with us sitting for one hour. this was followed by torrential rains, more traffic congestion and then more rains. the only saving grace of this seemingly cursed adventure was the children traveled amazingly well, better than i could even hope for and this without the aid of the portable dvd crutch (which very well may be the reason our kids travel so well).

so instead of arriving at 9pm, as i had intended, we arrived in the fort at 2am (MST). a classmate had offered his carriage house to us. he caveated the offer by saying it was on the tail-end of a renovation, but thought it was far enough along to house my brood. he was going to be gone when we arrived and told me where he kept a key secreted away. i had hoped i would be looking for this key in the late dusk light instead of the moon's, but as i said the trip thus far had been cursed. with everyone sleeping in contorted positions throughout the van, i momentarily sat and looked at the dark house. i got out of the car and went into the backyard. my goal was to find the key and get into the house before a neighbor reported a prowler to 911. my eyes were still adjusting to the dark when i heard a bush move. i turned to find a well-built figure clad in only a pair of shorts rapidly coming at me. as he neared, images of blairwitch entered my mind and i thought i was about to experience the final scene first-hand. he then spoke; "hey. i wish you had called first." it was my friend, and for reasons i won't get into, the lodging wasn't going to work out. i returned to the car and tentatively told marty we needed to get a room somewhere for the night. she silently nodded in understanding and i pulled out in search of some red-eye lodging. at one point during the hotel quest marty said with very succinct and frustrated tones she needed me to find a room, and like right now. there was a time in our relationship such an urgent mandate was a sign of good things to come. our relationship is sadly no longer part of that time. so i amped up my efforts.

i found a ramada for $90 a night. the room was of a nice size, had two beds, free internet, a pool, a fridge and complimentary continental breakfast. but given that we were going to be staying a week, marty wanted to get a nicer room closer to our activities. once we got settled marty went online and price-lined better accommodations. she scored a $220 a night room for $75 a night at the hilton. the next morning we packed up and headed across town for our new digs. hilton hotels are nicely appointed with lavish lobbies and clean rooms. upon checking in the first thing we noticed is that there was no fridge. marty called the front desk. they said they could deliver one at a charge of $10 per day. we needed one so requested it. never-mind that given the length of our stay, we could have purchased a new one at target for the same price and got to keep it in the end.

next i plugged in my laptop to check my mail and couldn't get a connection. i called the front desk for assistance and they said they'd send an 'engineer' up. two dowdy looking twenty-somethings arrived minutes later and i showed them what was happening. one of the two asked if i had yet payed the internet service fee. i said i had not assuming it came with the room. i assumed wrong and was told the fee was $12. i commented that that seemed steep for a week of internet given the availability of free hotspots. the technician corrected me saying the fee was per day and not per stay. i asked him to leave my room.

later that night my folks arrived to watch the kids while we attended an event. i told the children i'd get them an in-house movie for the night and queued it up. the pre-purchase warning screen advised of the $12 charge. $12 doesn't seem like a lot for r-level porn when you're away from home but it somehow felt like a burn for disney. i shrugged the imbalance off and accepted the charge. the next screen informed me $14 dollars had just been billed to my room. that is $12 plus a $2 tax and service fee which was obscurely footnoted in the previous screen.

the next morning i went down to get a coffee and bagel. i was greeted with a neon sign that said breakfast buffet $12.99. no morning coffee. no morning bagel. i stopped at the front desk to ask if i could get a microwave for my room (so i could make oatmeal). i absolutely could ... for a mere $10 a day.

i got back to my room and grabbed a bottle of water sitting on the television. just before i cracked the seal i noticed a piece of cardboard at the top that had in a bright red font, $4.00. below the price in a softer blue text were the words PLEASE ENJOY! i put the bottle back in place, went to the bathroom and scooped a handfull of water out of the toilet. before raising it to my mouth i looked behind the tank checking for a water meter with a dollar sign on it. i didn't see one but figured they could have hidden it behind the drywall. i poured the water back into the commode and then peed in the sink, afraid to use or flush the toilet given the distinct possibility of a hidden flow-meter.

now don't get me wrong about this. i'm far from uptight about spending money, especially when on vacation. in the past, i've laid out upwards of $600/night for a room on a ski mountain. i do believe you get what you pay for and am willing to appropriately compensate service providers. but i also believe one should charge what it costs to accommodate a client. if you can't shoulder basic and what i would say are reasonable requests from your guests, then you should charge more. some of these services routinely cost this business money and some do not thus making some of the added dings definitively frivolous. the net result of this treatment is that not only will i never again stay in the fort collins hilton but i will never stay in any hilton (wether they engage in such nickel and dimery or not) and i will actively evangelize against anyone else staying in them. an honest translation of such evangelism is if ever asked i will say i'm not sure where you should stay but i am certain where you should not stay. i'm told this tactic of repeated ten dollarish thumpings is a main-stay of pricier hotels. i reckon there's some battle-tested psychology that the more affluent appreciate perks when a fee is attached to them (anything someone will give you for free is not worth having you know). and conversely, sub-hundred dollar travelers expect everything inclusive, al a buffet-restaurant hell.

i for one, regardless of price, would like to engage a service and then not have to think about it again so i can focus my thoughts on my leisure or work. this hilton did nothing to improve my experience, all of their energy was spent increasing the size of my bill which on this stay they did succeed in doing but the obvious short-sightedness of their approach has forever lost my patronage and by extension anyone who cares to listen to my opinion, which record has admittedly proven is not all that many. so be it.

let me state again, in the event i have not been clear.

i hate the hilton. i'm not a huge paris fan for that matter either.

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