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TRAVEL (permalink) 08.29.2008
a bird in the hand
today will be one of the few days a year i spend shirtless in a speeding car headed from one region of this country to another region. many who hear of my plans express shock that i would choose a twelve hour drive over a three hour flight. there are many reasons for this choice none of which most would share but the biggest reason i still make the choice is that it is still a choice i am able to make. we are one national event/disaster from having highway travel be as impossible, frustrating and unusable as airline travel.

KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 08.28.2008
big-bad world
the girl made her hand into a ball and threw it at another girl's face. and blood came out of her nose.
a child's awe-struck recounting of an event at her first week of kindergarten.

KIDS (permalink) 08.27.2008
carnival of dogs
for our last movie night we watched a film about a family who found a stray dog and kept it. some weeks later the dog had six puppies. the father who was in marketing and worked a lot of hours insisted that the children give the puppies away in that they didn't have time or money to care for so many dogs. the family protested but he stood his ground and the dogs were given away. through the tumult of these events the man came to be fired from his job because he botched an account.

after this happened i paused the movie and asked the kids what they thought the man would do. the kids turned the question to me asking what i thought the man would do. i said i thought he would open his own company and win the account back showing his previous employer that they shouldn't have fired him. bella then said that she thought he would get all the puppies back, train them up and then have a carnival of dogs that would make him richer than he was before.

bella's outcome was so exponentially better than mine. and, i wish the filmmakers had thought of it as well because the story would have been more entertaining to watch had the story taken bella's counsel.

KIDS, SOCIETY (permalink) 08.26.2008
the question: what does bella call a woman who wears makeup?

the answer: a decorated lady.

the example : yes, that's the same kind of dog that decorated lady in the neighborhood has.

makeup has an odd existence in our home. marty wears it once or twice a year and each time she does i recoil at the sight. upon seeing me cringe she immediately launches into a defense of her battle-paint saying if i realized how little make-up she was actually wearing i'd feel stupid for making such a fuss and if she really went to town with it and did what other women did i'd faint from the end-product. to this tirade i always say the same thing; "so, does all that mean you're not going to wash it off?" to which she always adds "no and if you make another snide comment i'm actually going to put more on."

i have marty's three older brothers to thank for how little she really wears it because the first few times she ever tried using make-up her brothers harangued her relentlessly asking her if she got those black eyes at school and who beat her up and if she was going to be a raccoon or batman's sidekick robin for halloween.

given all this you can imagine how elated i am that bella already finds such matters mockable and i just hope she continues finding it so because she doesn't have three older brothers to help me with that life-lesson.

KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 08.22.2008
and a dinner-party was born
alex had playdate yesterday. it was a girl who is four. we don't know this girl too well and she's never been over before but she will be in alex's kindergarten class next year and marty's trying to get some familiar faces for him so the transition will be less shocking. they picked the girl up after dropping bella off at school. upon returning home marty got them playing and went upstairs to get dressed in some more official gear (bella usually gets dropped at school by people still wearing pajamas). after putting on underwear marty turned and found the girl standing outside the door looking at her. slightly startled she stood up straight. the girl asked marty:

were you going commando all morning?

uhhm. no.

do you know what commando means?

uhhm. yes.

it means you're naked under there.

it is not possible for me to want to meet this small child's parents any more than i do at this precise moment.

PHOTO (permalink) 08.20.2008
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.
August 2008

KIDS (permalink) 08.19.2008
just another eventless weekend
friday bella had her first sleepover where she was the host. the neighbor girl was the guest and she was remarkably polite. after loaning her some batteries for a cd player she listens to while going to sleep, i explained they were rechargeables and i'd like them back in the morning. she looked at me and said quite naturally, "why of course." and when marty told her that if she needed anything in the night she could come into our room and wake one of us up and we sleep right over there across the hall. to this, the small girl said, "marty, i know where you sleep. i almost know this house as well as i know my own house. it's like my second house."

saturday alex and i spray-painted his bike. it was everything he could do to depress the nubbin at the top of the can and given this there was no way he could push that and direct the spray at the same time but he stayed insistent on doing the work. so we would rest the can on the workbench or ground and he would put his body's full weight onto the top of the can, firing the mist in the general direction of the bike or wheel or accessory and i would move the part through the spray attempting to coat it as directed. in the end, this method worked to transform alex's pink and purple bike to a preferred green and black. it also worked to effectively cover me up to the wrists in green and black paint as well.

on sunday, we celebrated anthony's birthday. every time anyone would say the word birthday around anthony, he'd start blowing in the air as if he were blowing out birthday candles. and on this weekend anthony uttered his fourth-ever phrase. it was "close the door". with kids bursting in and out of the house all weekend, he heard marty scream those phrase through the house no less than forty times. if you're wondering, his first three phrases were mama, bella and poop (although poop sounds more like poof but is not to be mistaken because of the way he points a finger at his soiled and smeared ass while saying it).

FAMILY (permalink) 08.15.2008
wishing i had a picture.
summer at our house ends today in that next week we have kids starting back up at school. the biggest impact for me does not deal with resuming the fight to get kids out of bed, or the rush to get them to school or enduring the dinner table's long battle stories of recess trespasses, but what i will miss most is that my full entourage will no longer escort me to work.

i guess most know i walk to work. it's about a nine minute commute on foot. the family doesn't come the whole way. just down the street until i turn a corner. but when i do turn that corner they all stand there waving and bye-ing and wishing me a good day and alex always yells that if i see any broken glass i should walk around it. yesterday as i turned and looked back at my still pajama'd crew waving and shouting as they left my sight i had the sad realization that it will never be just like that again.

SOCIETY, WEB (permalink) 08.14.2008
If you want to sell the house, you've got to mow the lawn.
there are few days that go by that i don't think about how hard life as a woman must truly be.

and we can all thank bookguy for sending this morsel my way.

HUMOR (permalink) 08.13.2008
get 'em while you can
for any ira fans, he's coming to town. i'll see you there.

KIDS (permalink) 08.11.2008
feeling rich.
saturday alex's training wheels came off. we were probably four or more months overdue with this but my knee surgery prevented my helping with the running alongside period of training. on the good side, when you over-wait this particular skill, kids hit the ground running, rolling and quickly flying.

we had friends over for dinner on friday night and the dad ran up and down the sidewalk with alex a very generous number of times (much thanks jk). during this alex looked very good so the next morning i pulled the training wheels off his bike (he had been practicing on bella's bike). by this time i just had to give him a slight push and he'd take off for about eight houses worth of sidewalk and then stop. i would walk after him (in that i still can't run or jog) and when i'd get to him we'd turn him around and i'd give him a push back the other way. after about three rounds of this when i was walking toward him he got tired of waiting and pushed off himself and shot right past me as if there was nothing odd about this new development (aside from a monster grin of pride on his face). and that was that. within the hour he and i were off for an hour plus bike adventure all over a university campus next to our home. there are many tree-lined, wide, twisty and smooth sidewalks to explore and on a saturday in early august, not many people. this was one of those special moments as could be seen in the perpetual smile spread across alex's beaming face as his little legs churned and pumped him with greater velocity and confidence with each conquered section of campus.

when we would pass a walking student or visitor alex would brightly say hi as he zoomed past. his hi's are very matter of fact. and alex rarely passes anyone without throwing one out there at them. he does not yet know that this ritual greeting is an optional part of society. unsurprisingly most people are startled by this small boy's resounding hello, especially when that 37 pound super-tanned, smiling kid is flying by on a tiny bike in his first hours of true two-wheel cycling. i like trailing behind and watching the dazed people come out of their stupor, orient their eyes to who just said hi, smile genuinely and then almost as an afterthought say hi back to the small boy who is already well past them.

our kids are pro-hello people. i reckon they picked this up from marty and i but they've been like that from the start. when bella and alex were both still in the rickshaw carrier and i would ride them through crowds of people they would wave and greet the throngs as if they were royalty being charioted to their regal home. in telling marty about alex's first ride out, she recalled once when she and the kids were driving through forest park (stl's central park) bella was counseling alex on how he should yell hello out of the window at all the people walking, roller-blading, running and biking. in showing alex how it was done, bella was yelling hi's and hello's to people out of her window. then the car passed a wedding party taking photographs in front of a fountain in the park, bella from the moving car screamed out of her window, "NICE WEDDING!"

for all the rigors of parenting, the payoffs are quite substantial.

VIDEO, SOCIETY (permalink) 08.08.2008
another reason i dislike hilton hotels is they have a lot of guys like this there.

and i really don't know or care if this is fake, i've seen behavior close enough to this to give voice to my point.

KIDS (permalink) 08.07.2008
our generation's duct-tape
before having children i'd used super-glue about four times in my life. since having children it shares equal prominence with the milk.

SOCIETY (permalink) 08.05.2008
i was charged $3 because the front desk answered the phone
i just got back from a couple of work-related days in chicago. i realized too late that i was staying in a hotel owned by the hilton cult. it seems they are hip to the fact that some people hate their whoring ways and are now trying to hide behind differently named hotels. it worked this time. this time.

my first night i arrived late, tired and hungry. i checked the room service book and saw they had 'fresh buttered popcorn' for a perfectly respectable $8. i called down. i asked the order girl if the fresh buttered popcorn on the menu could also read 'recently microwaved popcorn'? with a soft chuckle she said that it could also be called that. it is often the case that things go more smoothly when everyone sits down to the table with a sense of humor.

fifteen minutes later an older gentlemen dressed in a suit arrived with a silver platter which held a silver bowl which held the still steaming contents of an ACT II popcorn bag. after asking to come in he walked this platter to a table in the room as if he were delivering filet mignon to a visiting ambassador. with a bow he handed me the black binder holding the bill. i opened it and found, to my expectant delight, the hilton family, even under the guise of another name, can still transform an advertised charge of $8 into a transaction fee of $15.87. i mean these people are fricken magic. after listing the original $8.00 fee, they listed the $4.50 delivery fee and then the listed the service fee and then the taxes. let's be clear, i've had car repair bills that had fewer lines than this. but there was one more line. this last line was blank and to the left contained the single word; Gratuity. it is my understanding that a gratuity is something left to someone after a service has been performed. does anyone know the going tip-rate for a good ole fashioned corn-holing?

FILM, SOCIETY (permalink) 08.01.2008
one of the very last old, saint louis movie houses closed a few months back. several years ago it was absorbed by landmark when they came to town along with a few of the other small, privately held theaters. for several reasons landmark decided to cease operations of the hi-pointe theatre, originally built in 1922, and shuttered its windows.

but then, with the release of the new batman film, the hi-pointe's lights mysteriously came back on. while showing my support at a 10:15 viewing, i was told that a landmark employee based out of chicago quit his job, leased the space and is resuming operations of the historic theatre as a private business venture.

oh, and i was also told that next week is free popcorn week. so grab your girl or guy and take in heath ledger's farewell performance, which is worth seeing, in one of saint lou's last theaters with character. and i'd call about the popcorn. i may have heard that wrong or it may just be a few nights or whatever. i just don't want anyone getting pissy with me because i botched a detail. but, either way, at the hi-pointe you can actually load up at the snack bar for less than ten bucks.

and i have to comment on something said in the article linked to above. in it landmark ceo ted mundroff says that part of their decision was based upon the fact that "people prefer to go to multiplexes." i'm going to pause for a moment to collect myself before continuing. ok. almost there. alright. i think i can proceed now. let me start by saying HEY TED! SHUT THE HELL UP! and please, please, please don't ever again apply you imbecilic and self-serving notions about movie culture to me again. feel free to say your mother prefers multiplexes or your neighbor or some college frat brother, but don't ever imply that this is the true choice of the people. unless you are equating the sheer paucity of options left to the consumer after the corporations razed the land.

typically when i go to a movie theater i go to see A movie and i don't take my seat and reflect at how pleased i am that there are fourteen other movies playing at the same time in the same building as the one i actually came to watch. because you know what ted. the second i walk down the aisle of your multiplex theatre the first thing i feel is claustrophobic and that is because you shrunk and shrunk and shrunk the rooms so you could shoe-horn two or three or five more screens into the complex. but once i find my seat and sit down i'm welcomed by the inviting feel of a piece of fabric stapled to a piece of cardboard glued to a metal chair that is welded to a string of twenty other chairs so that when the four hundred pound guy eight seats away hefts himself out of his chair mid-film to refill his rubbermaid size tub of day-old, butter-it-yourself popcorn the whole row rocks because all the damn seats are connected to one another because the are cheaper by the dozen. but thankfully my mind doesn't dwell on this nuisance given the explosions and music and screams emanating through the wall of the films playing on either side of the room i'm in, movies, mind you, i did not come to see OR hear. so ted mundroff, someone may have put you in charge of a movie theatre chain and told you to do good but it is not because of your love of film or knowledge of the theater-going experience or even because you know what movie-goers like, want or need. it is because you know how to work a casio calculator and your gifts could just as easily be applied to shoes, valves or tampons. so again, don't ever pretend that you have my or any other customer's best interest in mind. it insults your patron's intelligence and reveals your lack of it.

and ted, there ain't a multiplex in this nation that has better: than the hi-pointe. you pompous douchebag!

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