Monthly Archives: April 2011

go down on your permanent record


Please have a sharp #2 pencil ready. You may now open your blue books. Answer the following questions:

1. Home office nook on the left, or the right?




2. Which do you choose, Deep Fuchsia or Fandango?




3. Which cute laundry room idea – the one on the left, or on the right?




4. Iridescence or opalescence?




5. B-flat major…


or C-sharp minor?


athwartships, says the foremast jack



See that, motherscratchers? We live in a weathervane neighborhood – half the people on our block have them, and now I understand why. When the wind comes from the west – the ocean – it’s a cold, fishy blast that ensures your vegetables won’t grow. But when it comes from any other direction (like east, shown above), it means it’s from the desert, and we can finally start having SPRING again.

Yes, I know Southern California isn’t supposed to have “weather”. But at the beach, that’s all different – we get seasons just like anyone else, and winter sucks green donkey balls. These are the days when you are reminded of fantastic times ahead and behind.

It is days like today, when the afternoons begin to yawn out to lingering evenings, that remind me of those early spring trips in North Carolina. Quick jaunts to the beach, or a stunningly spontaneous trek to New Orleans, when sitting in the shade is chilly, but the sun is almost too hot. It begs a flannel tied around the waist, it begs a jack and coke, it begs a decision to blow off a plan and chart an alternate course for the evening.

It was on days like this when you’d wind up kissing someone in your class you didn’t know was so beautiful until just this instant. Solo walks became serendipitous meetings, get-togethers became parties, and parties became legendary. In grade school, kids’ hands stick to the desk with a little sweat, as they look outside to an afternoon pregnant with possibility… how can they expect us to do math, when the world just threw open its arms?

I live in a weathervane neighborhood, and I live as a weathervane man. I spin, occasionally pointing in ghastly directions, but today let’s all assume we’re blowing in from warm savannahs, and everything is in its place.

bottoms of trousers rolled


A few days ago was my 9th blogiversary, which means I started doing this before it was cool, continued to do it when it became cool, continued further when it wasn’t cool anymore, and will continue it until it’s retro and ironic.

To do anything for nine years means having constantly-shifting reasons for doing so, but one in particular stands out: Facebook can’t have everything. Some clubhouses you have to build yourself, with no prefab construction or Ikea dishware.

It being 9 years, I’d like to check in with absolutely everybody, even the lurkers: how are you? Is everything cool?


a few hours before I start this exercise in earnest, April 2002

yes, sweetie, that’s prince edward island


Adventures in Dexedrine, Chapter CXVI

As many of you know, I’m a sucker for “fucking with walls”, and that includes the many houses I’ve rented. I’m also a sucker for “doing things that weren’t allowed in my own room as a kid”, so I dreamed up a little project for Lucy’s bedroom that has worked out pretty well.

First off, I wanted a full-wall dry erase board because then you can draw all over the place without any sort of repercussion. But I also wanted it to be magnetic so you could stick all kinds of things on there. But to keep it from looking like a blue-sky meeting at a failed dot-com, it needed a theme. And of course, I’m always gaga for maps.

So I found a nice company that makes magnetic dry erase sheets cut to your desired length, and fit three strips on Lucy’s wall with nice non-toxic glue. I don’t recommend doing this part all by yourself like I did, because you’ll end up gluing your nuts to the ceiling, but the material is pretty forgiving.


Then I borrowed a cheap digital projector, hooked it to my laptop, and projected an image of North America onto the wall. I was going to trace the borders with permanent marker, but Tessa wisely countered that it would smear, and tests proved her correct. So I got some very adhesive gaffer and duct tape, and made long, thin strips with a box cutter. Then came the painstaking part: going along each border and deciding how accurate I wanted this thing to be.



I would have done more, but I also wanted the wall to be clear enough for Lucy to experiment and make her own mark, so I traced the outline of the United States, and part of Canada and Mexico. Then, with red duct tape, I outlined the states where we have family or history, so that later we can put pictures around it.


The best magnets, in my long and storied opinion, are the Rare Earth Cube Magnets, which are strong enough to cleave to anything remotely steel-ish, but small enough to negate itself with its own weight. If you know what I mean. A few packs of these, and a few magnetic letter alphabets, and we started putting things on it a few nights ago. Every bedtime, Lucy and I talk about a different place on the map.


As a counterpoint, this is the other thing I’ve made over the last two weeks:


Yep, it’s a box-framed cabinet to hold large objects and emergency supplies in the garage. Total time to make the dry erase magnetic map: 2 days. Total time to make the garage storage cabinet: 4 days. No, I don’t understand it either.

spirit rich, flesh lacking



This is Ian’s wife Tessa speaking. When we got back from dinner tonight, he was so ashen-faced and sickly-looking that I told him to go to bed. En route, he ran into the butcher’s block and knocked over an entire rack of knives – in other words, he’s out of it, and needs to sleep. He said he needed to write a blog, and I told him I’d write a note to get him out of it.

He can come back out to play tomorrow.



before a skating competition last week

choose the grail wisely


I’m on self-imposed deadline for tomorrow (and consequently sporting a disastrously Amish beard) so today we will have some code word questions I hope you will answer honestly, because it’s a big issue whether you know it or not. Here ’tis:

• Do you think you truly know what you want?

• Do you think you truly know what’s best for you?

• Do you think you might have been wrong at least 50% of the time?

• If you had followed all your preconceived notions, would you have ended up being with the same person you are now?

(feel free to be anonymous animals)


no threats, no fights, no fantasies, you amaze me



Lucy every three months from Apr ’05 to Apr ’11 – click for bigger

Hi there my sweet, wonderful Lulubeans! You turned 6 years old today, and I’m so happy it’s your birthday! I have been remiss in writing these little missives to you (as always) but my excuse is simple: it’s impossible to sum up the awesome complexity of who you’ve become.

First, the things that have always stayed the same… your absurd flights of delirious fancy are still in full swing. You can go on monologues for entire car rides that make sense only if we’ve decided to jump onto your non sequitur train and hold on for dear life. There was a time when I was worried you’d lose that part of your daydream life too quickly, but I shouldn’t have feared; Alice isn’t leaving Lucyland anytime soon.


charmin’ the neighbors with cool jazz stylings

Your social nature, as always, remains elusive from adjectives. You are extroverted, shy, boisterous and ponderous… depending, I suppose, on the tides and the phases of the moon. And yet you possess a self-protectiveness that will serve you well – your mom could occasionally be reckless, and your dad could be a neurotic nervous nelly, so it’s good you landed somewhere in the middle.

Something happened at the farm last month that was very telling: we put your boots on for the snow, and as the hours wore on, once or twice you said your foot hurt. Finally, around 4pm or so, you actually sat down on the barn floor and removed your boot, revealing that a WHOLE NOTHER SOCK had been shoved inside the toe.

If that had been me at the same age, I would have been moaning bloody murder about how my foot was being tortured and called off the day’s festivities about five minutes in – but you soldiered on for hours before it got to you. You don’t possess any of those sensory integration issues; you’re just too busy discovering the world to let something like an oddly-fitting boot get in your way.


discovering the telephoto lens doubles as a telescope

Speaking of discovering, your scientific thirst for knowledge is second only to your desire to create storylines for everything in your grasp. I remember when you used to make your forks talk to each other at the dinner table, and now you’ve got a cast of at least 45 characters living on your bed and in the playroom. I have had to make up voices for at least 30 of these dolls and stuffed animals, which means I’m starting to differentiate between the Liverpool accent (Chuck the horse) and the Manchester accent (Aljert the baby polar bear).

Yet through all of them, you maintain a high degree of erudition. Your favorite character of late is Bracka the Brachiosaurus, a baby sauropod from the Playmobil Dinosaur Set who speaks in a falsetto and has to eat the tops off trees before bed. Occasionally you’ll have Necky the Giraffe or Ptriky the T-Rex (all names invented and spelled by you) explain the difference between the Jurassic and the Cretaceous, and where igneous rocks come from. We’re beginning to suspect you might actually grow up to be what you said you’d be: a poem-writing paleontologist ice skater.


telling Bracka a bedtime story about a Kentrosaurus


practicing her hula moves before the skating recital


What can I say about kindergarten? (Not much, since I never went.) You, however, have taken to it with a seamlessness that makes me appreciate your mother even more. When I hold your hand into the classroom, then peer through the window as I leave, watching you sitting in your square, next to your three girlfriends, reading “Today’s Schedule” in tandem, I have to tear myself away.


pointing the direction of her home borough, atop the Empire State Bldg.


wearing the Barnes jersey Uncle Chip gave her… don’t worry, Tyler H., she’ll always carry a torch for you


With you turning six, there is the sadness that any parent feels when they know their little pumpkin pie is growing up, but one thing remains true – we have loved every phase you’ve gone through, each more than the last. There will come a day when you’ll know how hard we were trying to bring you a little sister or brother, and how much we wanted it to happen by now, but we’ve also come to see it as a blessing. We got to have you all to ourselves, to be with you in so many transcendent moments, and in return, you got to have us.

We will still try to make our family bigger, but in the meantime, I can only hope we have been exactly what you needed. Because in every glorious, window-rattling, deliriously insane and utterly lovely way, for us, you have been enough.


sex, lies, and 720p


Oh, technology. Why do you have to be so stupid sometimes? Like yesterday, you took a perfectly wonderful product – the Flip camcorder – and decided to kill it. Apparently “everyone’s got smartphones now with HD video recording” and thus the Flip was of no further use to you.


Lemme tell you something: the Flip was kind of awesome. At least three of us in our family has one, and not because we like to jack off to obsolete plastic, we actually used them. Sean has recorded his kids and the Soundtrack Series on his, and I’ve recorded Lucy, my band, and my gold-medal-winning adult figure skatin’ wife on mine. The Flip is tiny, the picture is excellent, the sound is awesome, and it’s about as complicated as a toothbrush. You turn it on, then hit the red button. When you’re done, plug it into your computer, and it downloads everything, the end.

Here’s the thing about smartphones, and I’m including my beloved iPhone when I say this: WHEN YOU’RE USING THEM TO DO SOME OTHER BULLSHIT, YOU CAN’T USE IT AS A PHONE. Even if my iPhone 3GS could shoot HD movies (which it can’t), do I just have to hope nobody calls while I’m doing so? What if I’m trying to record a 20-minute lecture – I can’t access the Web, I can’t see my calendar, and I can’t jot down any ideas. Forget playing games, and, oh yeah, you have to hold your phone up for 20 minutes because there’s no built-in tripod jack.

One other thing, motherfuckers… I will start thinking about using my cell phone for all your magical shit WHEN YOU START MAKING BATTERIES THAT LAST LONGER THAN A SOLID AFTERNOON. If I start making HD movies with my phone, I will need to have a solar array mounted on location in order to keep it from expiring.

Why couldn’t you just let the Flip be the Flip? Why abandon something you just got right? I know, someday we’ll all have UltraDemigodPhones that run for years on nothing but saliva and positive reinforcement, but for now, we’ve got these little smartypant devices that do a B-minus job of everything, and they’re putting the solid A products out of business. It reminds me of those shitty TV/VCR/DVD combo sets from the mid-90s, where inevitably – INEVITABLY – one of the components would break, leaving you with a crappy TV/VCR/DVD combo with another DVD player hooked up to it.

Bring back the one-track gadgets! Bring back the overhead projectors that dreamt only of being an overhead projector! The jack of all trades always falls to the queen’s single-minded king, especially if the king’s got a sweet Laserdisc player.

do not use blur tool




A picture has just been taken of your exact mood. Without thinking terribly hard about it, describe exactly what this mood is, and a couple of factors determining it.