Monthly Archives: January 2007

fairly goshparents

1/15/07

Neva asked a good question about godparents, and specifically how we see Lucy’s godparents given that we don’t adhere to any specific religion (and my own relationship with any Church is, to be mild, somewhat fraught). I suppose the answer lies in the same reason we go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve; we like to pick and choose what part of the ritual and canon we have for our own lives.

For me, I just like the sound of “godfather” and “godmother,” especially since I didn’t have either. I liked the idea of being a teenager and getting to steal a weekend away with “my cool godmother,” so we set about to make sure Lucy had those options in spades.

Being magnanimous completists, that meant we wanted about 40 godparents for Lucy. If you think you might have been one of them, I guarantee you were. We managed to whittle it down to four, from all vastly different walks of life. Straight man, straight woman, gay man, gay woman, all with distinctly different philosophies. None of them had kids of their own when Lucy was born (although, that has suddenly changed, excitedly!) and we’ve known them all for a combined fifty years.

I’ve never said who they were (and still won’t, although I gave one away already) because I felt it might be taken as a slight to other old friends. The truth is, Lucy is a big character and will probably make you her godparent eventually anyway. Her extended family of uncles and aunts is formidable – besides, we’ve been tossing around the idea of perhaps one day having more kids, and obviously we’ll need more godparents.

But as for the role specifically, we just wanted someone who could show them the world reflected in a slightly different prism. This I know: one godparent is married to a priest and will give her the best birthday presents for fifty years. Another will take her on her first whirlwind jaunt through the East Village. Another, with her lovely wife, will teach her how to surf – and the fourth will send her postcards from the Seychelles, the Maldives, and Madison, New Jersey. If that isn’t spiritual guidance, then I don’t know what is.

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heaven or las vegas

1/10/07

Yesterday, Jody brought up a great example of something I love: The Accidental Cheap Solution that is Infinitely Better than the Popular, Expensive Solution. His example was the ZR motorcycle helmets that retail around $99 and perform better than all the other stylish helmets five times as expensive.

In order to find your particular Accidental Cheap Solution (ACS), you need a few things: the internet, obsessive chat forums, and eBay. Once you have those things in place, you will find that there is a four-dollar part that will make your $35,000 car run more smoothly. You will discover the guy who can make your TiVo hold 250 more hours of television. There is a woman who sells an ointment for $6.99 that is better than Crème de la Mer.

My personal favorite has to do with the iPod. I have become better read than ever thanks to Audible.com and fallen in love with new music again, all because of long road trips accompanied by naught but the iPod and sour gummi worms. The problem is this: if you don’t have a tape player in your car (or a specific MP3 audio jack) you are reliant on some pretty ancient goddamn technology. I refer to, of course, the FM transmitter.

Take a look at this page and you’ll see the cottage industry that has built up around these things. You’re basically creating your own tiny little radio station in your car, and hoping the signal is strong enough to go through the window and hit your own car’s antenna. If you think about it, it’s pretty ridiculous.

But the worst thing of all, is none of these bastards work in big cities. There’s simply too much interference from all the other radio stations to get a clear sound, and if you’re listening to books on tape, forget it. All of these products, the DLO TransDock, the Belkin TuneFM, the Griffin RoadTrip, costing almost a hundred dollars, become useless pieces of plastic in a place like, say, Brooklyn.

Enter the Accidental Cheap Solution. Thanks to hours of DIY sleuthing on the part of folks at iLounge, a small, disturbed following of aficionados discovered a tiny, white FM transmitter that blows all of them out of the water. It’s called the Scosche FM Transmitter and it was languishing on dusty bottom shelves at Walmart. You could get it on eBay for five bucks.

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This motherscratcher has got to be illegal: it not only overpowers local broadcasts on the same channel, it’ll transmit your iPod to cars around you. Tessa and I tried it in the countryside one afternoon with two cars and it was like having IanFMRadio. Which meant lots of Smiths, XTC and the Cocteau Twins for my wife and Lulubeans in the other car! HA HA!

Anyway, someone must have figured out it was breaking FCC regulations, because they’ve come out with a new one in black: I can’t vouch for it. Oh, and don’t get the white one made specifically for the iPod – it doesn’t work for shit. You want the one that is specifically in the link above, that plugs into your headphone jack.

And so I ask, what is your favorite Accidental Cheap Solution? It can be anything from any walk of life – enlighten us!

tied to me tight tie me up again

1/9/07

Those without kids avert your eyes; this is the kind of talk that’ll make you think that the act of childbirth turns us all into blubbering, precious, drama queens. BUT… I’m sure most of you parents have read Consumer Reports’ test of baby car seats: ten of the top twelve sellers failed catastrophically at speeds over 30 mph. Crash test dummies were violently thrashed, and one flew thirty feet through the window. These seats include, no doubt, yours, and certainly the one we used, the every-yuppie-has-one Peg Perego Primo Viaggio.

Remember, these are crashes at less than 40 mph, far slower than many you’ve seen on the freeway. One of the main culprits was the LATCH system that comes standard on almost all new cars. It’s those little metal closed hooks that are buried in the fold of the back seat (along with four french fries, a packet of used ketchup and eleven cents in loose change). I was so psyched to snap in li’l baby Peanut Lucy into her LATCH, thinking that crappy car seats were a thing of the past. Instead, the LATCH system – and all of these baby seats – became an industry-wide fuckup that is Corvair or lawn darts or tobacco in scale.

Except that only four people ever died playing Jarts, and they were drinking. This is the kind of corporate suck-my-dick move that means someone in Accounting did the math and calculated the cost of your child’s life in litigation fees, and projected it against future profit. Worse, you’ve got government agencies like the apparently useless NHTSA barely bothering to tell us that “LATCH is confusing” and exhorting us not to worry about it.

Well, actually, I am going to worry about it. Look, I am not some ninny parent who keeps their kid in a hyperbaric chamber and feeds them nothing but organic flax. We lead pretty big lives and we schlep the Buglet from one continent to the other, despite the fact she won’t remember any of it.

But I spent my early years in Cedar Rapids, IA during the 1970s, when it seemed like nary a season would pass without some family being visited by some motorcrash horror or another. Simple trips to the Hy-Vee would become gruesome accidents with memorial services; kids would have their faces disfigured; innocuous jaunts to Shakey’s Pizza would become cautionary tales for generations. There were seven of us in that household and I’m still blessedly thankful we all made it out intact.

If this LATCH system is actually worse than just hooking the seat belt through the car seat base, then it’s a massive failure of initiative and imagination, an unconscionable breach of trust, and an unnatural rewinding of the technological clock. We should treat car seat makers Evenflo and Britax – as well as government oar-draggers like the NHTSA – with the same respect we give Halliburton and Philip Morris.

In the meantime, I guess the only solution for newborns is to ditch the expensive seat you got at the baby shower for the only two seats CR could recommend. We should also demand two more belts: one attaching to the floor in front of the baby seat, and another that stretches behind, like the toddler seats we use now.

Oh, and duct-tape mattresses around your car, fill your back seat with styrofoam peanuts, and don’t drive over 15 mph. That oughta do it.

the one about the one that’s about itself

1/8/07

Oh, one more thing. Taking this long break from blogging made me crystallize a few thoughts : first, I really needed the long break for personal reasons. Second, when you have laryngitis, you literally lose your voice, but for me, I actually temporarily lost the desire to speak in the written word as well. It felt equally frustrating.

Thirdly, I’d like to do two things with this space from now on. For starters, I am going to post when I really feel like it, rather than spewing something useless. On the days when you get nothing from me, that’s your cue to start a conversation on anything you want. We get a few thousand hits a day here, so your thoughts might just make a difference. Or just ignore me and go back to YouTube (where I hear they have several captivating clips of recent Dook highlights).

The other thing is that I might start asking regular guest contributors to the blog. They promise to be smarter and sillier than I am.

Oh, and one last more another thing: I’m not going to talk about the blog itself in the blog. Nor am I going to talk about talking about it. I’m just going to do it, or, occasionally, not do it.

And now I’m going to California, and will see you all there!

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LUCY’S THIRD FRENCH FRY!!!

earl grey’s finest bag

1/7/07

Is there anybody in a leadership position in America that can be as much of a jerk as Koach K, day in and day out? Okay, obviously the entire Bush administration, and every manager of a Home Depot, but the Dook Koach always manages to cap off every win – or in this case, a loss – with a statement that makes you want to throw bricks of gouda at his rat face.

Consider this one, after their awesome loss (at home) to Virginia Tech (who had lost to Marshall):

In this decade we have won about 85 percent of our games, a lot more than anybody. [This team] is not those teams.

In essence, he is saying that HE is the mark of constant quality, and any besmirching of his record is the fault of the piece of shit team he currently has. You rarely hear people so deftly throw their entire bunch of kids under the bus for the sake of their own ego, but if you’re looking for a modern-day Narcissus, gaze no further.

Don’t get me wrong; I’d gladly metaphorically throw any Dook player under any bus you’ve got coming. That Jon Scheyer kid makes my pantapoons itch, and Greg Paulus – another in a seemingly interminable line of annoying white Dookies – definitely deserved to be teabagged.

What’s that? You didn’t see the Va Tech guy gently graze his nut hairs over Paulus’ forehead en route to a layup? You weren’t reminded of Vince Carter jumping over that French guy in the Olympics, only pausing to dip his écrous dans sa bouche? Well, by all means watch it here!

I’ll go into more detail about this later, but 2006 and 2007 seem to be years when the truth comes out from hiding, when the unjust get what they deserve, and when the tower of lies comes tumbling down. I will really enjoy watching this happen to Dook, who have benefited from the unwarranted (and, in my opinion, slightly racist) largesse of sportscaster punditry. Koach K only has one set of vertebrae, and he already used them to get out of one season; I doubt it’s an option again.

And the true glory? My beloved Heels are as fun to watch this year as last. Young, crazy, talented, humble and exciting. It’s the gift those awful years gave us – the ability to truly love each win, no matter how lopsided. I used to have a undercurrent of dread for each Dook game, and now I salivate like a lion who has just spotted the zebra. They might get away, who knows, but the chase makes life worth living.

my winter vacation

1/4/07

Disease:

strep throat

Time period:

December 21 to December 28

Keywords:

unmitigated misery, like gargling with lit gasoline

Disease:

pneumonia

Time period:

December 27 to December 31

Keywords:

chronic, impacted, spirit-draining

Disease:

conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Time period:

January 1-2

Keywords:

crusty, annoying, demoralizing

Disease:

laryngitis

Time period:

December 30 to present

Keywords:

fist-through-window frustration, horse-noises, surrender