Monday, June 30, 2008

Crossed-eyed babies, dead dogs

My daughter turned 8 weeks old today--hurray, haven't broken her yet--and she continues to get more and more interesting every day.  She smiles all the time, and is trying her best to laugh, but it comes out sounding a little like a donkey, I think because she only laughs while inhaling.  And now you're thinking about how you'd hee-haw, yup, I can read minds.  

The other slightly worrying thing is a face she makes.  She can somehow manage to completely cross her eyes, and only does so when her tongue is stuck out.  It looks hilarious.  I told my wife today that I thought that our daughter only did it because I laugh when she does--she's just that smart.  I got: "well honey, maybe that's true (eye-roll, eyebrow-raise)."  She's a great mom.  I mean wife.  Okay, both.

I read today that the University of Georgia's mascot, a bulldog, died this weekend.  In a good use of state funds, the university is planning a funeral service for the dog in its football stadium, before it is buried in some decorative tomb in front of the stadium, next to its ancestors, the previous mascots.  

This dog really summed up what it means to be a southerner.  He died with no pants on, of a heart attack, at the age of 9 (That's 63 in dog-years, so he did way better than his kin folk).  He also couldn't read, had funny looking teeth, never finished high school, and hated black people.  If that's not a portrait of a fine southerner, I don't know what is.  Rest in peace, bulldog, its values like yours that General Lee fought to defend.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

US Track and Field, Ad Revenue

You know how I said there is nothing to watch on TV?  Well, I was surfing because there really is nothing on TV, and I came across some entertaining news.  The US held its track and field Olympic qualifiers this weekend, and in the Men's 100m we will be represented by guys named Gay and Dix.  On the women's side, the 100m was won by Hooker.  Please fact-check me.  Yup, I'm right.  Sports bloggers the world over are salivating over this one..."Gay, Dix upstaged by Hooker."  And that's just off the top of my head (ie not very funny).

Today was the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago.  My wife, daughter and I went very briefly to watch, but apparently my wife thought it was too loud for our daughter, so we left.  And so starts her career as the not-cool mom.  But someone has to be sensible.  Thank god for my wife, or I would have definitely broken our daughter by now.  Anyway, a few hours into the event, it rained on the parade, seriously poured.  Right afterwards, though, the sun came out and there was a big rainbow.  Talk about great advertising!  God clearly loves gay people.

In other news, the ad revenue for this site for the month of June is $21.24.  Given that I started on June 9th, that is exactly $1 a day.  Considering the number of people who read this, that is fantastic--if I could increase readership, and more importantly clicker-ship, by a factor of 50 I could do this for a living. 

There is nothing but baseball on TV!

I love summer and all, but my god, TV sucks right now.  There are only a couple of good network shows on in the dead of winter: 30 Rock, The Office, um yeah that's about it, but right now there is nothing.  And the only sport that's on is baseball.  Now, the Cubs are great and all, but you can only watch so much baseball (I can hear my wife quoting this line already as she lobbies for the remote!  Women need to understand that live televised sports always supersedes non-live shows.  Always.  Or we can get a second TV, and that's my final offer.).  No football, no basketball...well, besides the WNBA and here's what we all think about that.  

There's some tennis on occasionally, but with Sharapova and Ivanovic already out of Wimbledon, do I really care to watch?  The Williams sisters look like they belong in the WNBA, themselves.  And that's not racist, just so we're clear.  Its fat-ist and tall-ist, respectively.  Gotta keep your discriminations straight.  And Tiger Woods is out of golf indefinitely, so screw watching golf.  And screw watching women's golf.  I can hit the ball further than most of them, so they're boring to watch, and those of them that hit the ball further than I do, I never ever ever want to look at.  Oh, and you have the European Championships (of soccer) being played.  The final is actually today.  And guess what, its being played in an old stadium in Vienna that the Nazis used as a prison shortly after the Anschluss, right at the beginning of the holocaust.  That's a feel good story...oh, and guess which two teams are in the final?  Germany and Spain.  Hitler and Franco would be so proud.

So since there's nothing worth the time on TV, you've got to look elsewhere for your entertainment.  Now, I think Kobe Bryant is an asshole just like everyone else does, but he has made a couple of great viral videos in support of the new shoes he is peddling through Nike.  Here's the first.  As a follow-up, he did this mock-Jackass episode, which is awesome too. 

Seems like we're fending for ourselves this summer, so if you have good videos, send them this way and share!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cookware, southern-ness

About two years ago my wife decided that we should only cook with cast-iron pans.  Apparently, all the non-stick pans that have been popular for twenty years actually cause global warming, or leach carcinogens into your food, or something like that.  Anyway, I've been married long to enough to know to pick my battles, so it wasn't a big deal.  Plus, cast-iron looks nice.  Sort of backward and romantic.  Like the south, except romantic.

What I didn't know is that when you buy new cast-iron pots and pans, they aren't ready for use.  Actually, first things first, my wife decided to order them online, which seemed like a plan to me--where do you even get cast-iron cookware in Chicago?  The gun store?  Guns are illegal here!--until it arrived all in one box, which I swear weighed over 100 pounds and I had the pleasure of carrying up 4 floors of stairs.  So I got all this stuff upstairs finally and sweatily, and started unpacking it and putting it away.  No, no, no says the wife, We have to "season" them first.  What the hell?  Are we eating the pans?  Is this a suicide cult?  Do they teach little girls this stuff in home economics in the south?  Remember to season your pans!  Wouldn't want your collard greens to stick.

So seasoning a pan, how the fuck do you do that?  Well, the idea is to slather the thing in fat of some kind (this is one of a southerner's favorite games) and bake the fat into the pan.  Again.  And again.  And again.  We did this is mid-summer and had the oven blasting all day.  It is wastes of time like this that may be to blame for the confederacy's demise--"these'n guns is ready, Hoss, but we's justa got season 'em first."  And then Atlanta was burned to the ground by Sherman.  But, the fire helped the seasoning and those guns made some tasty biscuits 'n gravy so it wasn't a total loss.

While you think all our seasoning must have been in vain, because god knows I can't tell a difference, you're wrong.  My mother-in-law was in town (crystal meth sales convention) and used the cast-iron cookware.  I was brushing my teeth at the time, but heard some commotion in the kitchen and decided to investigate.
"Oh, honey, your cookware is so perfectly seasoned!  Its like a 90 year old great-grandmother's!"  She was beaming, beside herself over how HER daughter had perfectly seasoned cast-iron.  That may be the proudest she has ever been of any of her children.  Incidentally, I think most southern 90 year olds are actually great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers, or Eve, take your pick.

Funnier than that, my wife looked and me and said "See, see?  I told you I was right to season it," with a look of a prideful child whose parent has just approved of, and validated, their life's work.  Apparently, praising another woman's cast-iron seasoning in the south is one of their highest compliments.  It is right up there with "your grits are so smooth," "your flag is so big," "your church has a Starbucks!" and "your slaves are so well-behaved."

In all seriousness, I really like cast-iron cookware.  I highly recommend it, but I suggest you wait until winter to do the seasoning.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mourvedre, Dog Strangler

A lot of people tend to prefer one style of red wine.  One side of the spectrum is the light and nuanced pinot noir used to make the fantastic wines of burgundy.  Very good pinots are also being produced in California and Oregon, as well as New Zealand.  On the other side is the jammy, thick, fruit-bomb style of Zinfandels, and pure Cabernet Sauvignons.  I happen to like both ends of the spectrum and most things in between.  Last weekend I had the opportunity to drink some of Kosta Browne's 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, which was fantastic.  It went perfectly with the ground pepper I had seasoned our grilled salmon with.  It is pretty costly though, and near impossible to find.  The previous weekend I tried Orin Swift's "The Prisoner" Zinfandel 2006 from Napa Valley, and thoroughly enjoyed it as well.  We drank that with medium-rare steak, and the moist, rummy tobacco bouquet was a great complement to the char on the steaks.  It is a huge production wine and should be available just about anywhere for $30.

My favorite red wine varietal, though, is an esoteric one.  It is more on the heavier, darker side of the pinot-zin scale, and has the potential to be very bad when poorly made.  When done right, though, Mourvedre is an interesting and rewarding, not to mention delicious, wine.  On its own it can be what a wine critic would call gamey, and I would call wet dog.  Maybe a little mildewy.  As a result, it is usually blended with another grape variety to give it more fruit--Syrah and Grenache are its typical blending partners, and Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes added as well.  And while pure mourvedre can be problematic--its nickname in France is "Estrangle-Chien," or dog-strangler!--, blended, properly aged mourvedre is, to my mind, the most enjoyable wine to drink in the world.  I definitely agree that the great growths of Bordeaux are technically better wines, but they require a lot of aging and then decanting, etc.  Too much effort.  I think mourvedre is the best of both worlds on the continuum I mentioned above--big and fruity, yet elegant and nuanced.  Many wines with a lot of fruit and alcohol burn out your taste buds after one glass, but mourvedre remains interesting for an entire evening. 

One of the main reasons that mourvedre isn't as widespread as it might be is that it is notoriously difficult to graft.  In the late 19th century a large percentage of Europe's vineyards were wiped out by phylloxera, an aphid that decimates grape vines.  Following that plague, Europe's vineyards were replanted, largely from New World vines that had themselves been grafted from European vines in Columbian times.  Mourvedre, however, proved almost impossible to graft until a new method was introduced in the 1980s, and thus is fairly obscure whereas in the 1800s it was one of the most important varieties of grape.  

There are several regions in France that produce Mourvedre-blend wines.  It is prominent in both the north and south Rhone regions, but comes into its own in the small appellation of Bandol in Provence, near Marseilles on the Mediterranean coast.  My favorite Bandol wine is Domaine du Gros Nore.  I love it because it runs the gauntlet from plum and strawberry aromas to charcoal on the finish (aftertaste).  The 2005 is available in better wine shops, and costs about $26, a huge bargain.  The most famous Bandol producer is probably Domaine Tempier, and is also consistently good.  Their wines should be easier to find than Gros Nore.

The other main producing area of mourvedre is the south-eastern Spanish region of Jumilla.  Known as monastrell in Spain, mourvedre is at its best in this warm, seaside climate.  If I could only drink one region's wine for the rest of life, Jumilla would be it (besides good Bordeaux, and who can afford that?).  On the budget end, you have Bodegas Luzon's, "Altos de Luzon" 2005.  At about $14 a bottle, I challenge you to find a better bottle of wine for the price.  This is a wine that would cost $50-60 if it were made in California.  Its immediately fruity--maybe raspberry?--but has a long finish with great acidity that will make it a happy companion for anything with a decent amount of fat in it.  Red meat, soft cheese, your mom.  This could be tricky to find, so if you see it I suggest you snap it up.  

A second Jumilla bargain in Bodegas Juan Gil 2005.  This wine smells like a trusty leather jacket that has kept you dry in the rain, but tastes first of berries and then of cocoa on the finish.  Again, this one will go with about anything, and at $16 a bottle is a spectacular value.

My favorite Jumilla wine, though, is Bodegas El Nido "Clio."  I've had the 2003, 2004 and 2005, and this wine features prominently in my limited collection.  Of those vintages, the 2004 is probably the best.  It smells like melty vanilla ice cream, and initially tastes like warm, buttered toast.  This is because it is aged for a good while in new oak barrels.  The finish is very nuanced though, something hard to find in wines that have been heavily oaked.  It ends with acidic, smoky tones, something like the smell when you open a humidor.  At about $43 a bottle, this is a little more expensive, and also challenging to locate.  If you're in Chicago though, stop by my place and we'll break out a bottle.  

Besides France and Spain, mourvedre is grown in Australia, California and South Africa.  The Californian stuff is not impressive in the limited contact I've had.  In Australia, mourvedre is exclusively a blending grape, and used to produce GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) wines which are a great value, though not as intricate as the wines of Jumilla.  One producer in South Africa, Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Vineyards, however, does it right.  His Columella 2004 mourvedre blend is the best South African wine I've tasted by a long ways, and the 2005 is supposedly even better.  These aren't cheap bottles--$70 range--but if you ever come across a Sadie Family wine and want to treat yourself, I highly recommend it.  

I hope those of you that have access to decent wine stores will try out a mourvedre (or monastrell if its Spanish) in the near future.  Start with a cheaper Jumilla, and you won't go wrong.  If you like it, great.  If not, it was $15.

Daily Rant?

This is why a "daily rant" is a bad idea.  
Not sure why this guy is taping a rant on the sidewalk, but there you go.  Its kinda like an American suburban slacker version of an al-Qaeda video.  

End of Days...

There is a lot of stuff going on right now that, if you were so inclined, you could use to convince people that the end is near, the sky is a-fixin' to fall, that sort of thing.  So, you start a cult, convince your followers to give you all their money and possessions--the world is fucking ending people, that money in your savings account isn't going to help you--and serve everyone some anti-freeze flavored Gatorade.  Presto!  You're rich.  Not that I've given this any thought, I'm just saying... so fuck off FBI!

The American economy is really, really fucked.  This is going to be one of the worst years for the average American in a long time.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost almost 3% yesterday, capping a month of getting horse-pounded.  The reason?  Well, oil, which I've already discussed a while back, and a bad combination of inflation and low interest rates.  For starters, oil is not going to get cheaper.  You can drill the Alaskan reserve or the US coastlines until you're blue in the face and the Pacific coast is as filthy as the Jersey shore, but it doesn't matter.  China and India have discovered that they like oil, and at this point we're just along for the ride.  

Next, you have Fed Funds at 2%, and inflation on the rise thanks to, yes you guessed it--oil!--and you have negative growth  (If prices increase at a higher rate than your money can grow in the bank or your wages are growing, that is really, really bad and means you can afford to buy less stuff and/or your standard to living goes down).  So to combat inflation, the Fed has stopped lowering interest rates, and this week indicated that they may soon increase them.  Well, that is textbook for fighting inflation, but now stocks are going to take a huge shit, because corporations can't borrow money as cheaply, so their profits decrease.  Higher interest rates in theory encourage you to save more money.  This means there's less money chasing the same amount of goods, so inflation should abate.  However, it also diverts investment away from equities.  So long story short, the stock market is going to take a beating.  I wouldn't buy anything.  This is going to be an rare example of when stocks and bonds both get hammered.  Honestly, my best investment right now is my Lexus Hybrid and my 75 bottles or so of good wine.

What else is fucked up?  Floods everywhere, the Midwest of the US and parts of Australia, coupled with crippling droughts in both countries, mere hundreds of miles away from the floods.  And that's not even mentioning the floods in Asia, because those seem to be a yearly occurrence so it might be more remarkable if parts of Asia weren't submerged and China wasn't having massive earthquakes.  

But what has really convinced me that the end is coming is that Chicago sports teams are doing what I'd like them to.  Yesterday, the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose with their super-lucky 1st pick in the draft.  That is a great pick!  I think Rose will be one of the three best NBA players in five years from now, so I am very excited by the prospect of him being a Bull.  I was sure that Chicago would find some reason to draft someone else, or trade the pick, or something typically asinine.  This also means bye-bye Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls' current way, way too white point guard who sucks.  Hallelujah!  Pass the Gatorade!  And if that's not enough, the Cubs have the best record in all of baseball half-way through the season, and if that's not enough, the Bears are totally fucked!

The economy may suck and there may be natural disasters all around, but providing the world can hold its shit together and not end in the next few years, it should be a good time for Chicago sports.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Posts about wine

Most of the writing that is done about wine these days is highly convoluted stuff, in which the writers use a collection of upwards of 300 different tastes, flavors, colors and aromas to describe the qualities and characteristics of the wine.  The wine is then typically given a precise score out of a possible 100 points, the idea being that that gives you the closest possible thing to an apples to apples comparison.  As a result, I never thought of writing about my thoughts regarding wine because I don't have the background knowledge to speak in that language.  I also happen to disagree with the methodology in principle--I have tasted many wines that have scored in the low 90s that I've found much more enjoyable and interesting than wines scoring in the upper 90s.  While its true that a rating system like that keeps you away from truly bad wine, so would a review that says "tastes like balsamic vinegar," or "what do you expect from a $4 Cabernet?"  Regardless, I never gave writing about wine a second thought.

I recently read a book that changed my mind.  Its called "A Hedonist in the Cellar" by Jay McInerney.  It is basically a collection of essays that he has written about wine for some or other magazine over the years, I think it might be "Home and Garden"?  Anyway, in the preface he says pretty much exactly what I've said--he didn't have the traditional knowledge of wine to be a wine writer, but he liked wine and could write, and had enough experience drinking wine to be able to pick out bottles that people would enjoy most of the time.  I'm not saying that I can write well, but besides that we're on the same page.

Besides blogging about the minutiae of my day to day life and going on various rants and raves, I'm going to start occasionally discussing wines that I've had that I think are worth spending the time and money to seek out.  While I'm never going to get a job tasting wines for Wine Spectator, I hope you'll find bottles that I recommend to be at least drinkable and enjoyable, and hopefully memorable.  

And as always, feedback and suggestions are welcome.  Had a great bottle lately?  Tell me about it, I'd like to have readers' selections, too.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tomatoes, dishwashers and lead

Recently the FDA ordered that all tomatoes be taken off the shelf in grocery stores and banned restaurants from serving them, because several hundred people got salmonella poisoning from some tainted tomatoes.  Because the FDA confuses itself with the CIA, they wouldn't release information on the origin of the bad tomatoes for fear of...actually I have no earthly idea why they wouldn't say, but I've seen all those movies lately about midnight CIA renditions to secret prisons where god knows what happens to you, so I'm not complaining, merely observing that its a little weird.  

But anyway, Lou Dobbs, CNN's resident venerable crazy old uncle in the attic, thinks that George W. Bush should be impeached.  Hmm, okay, he is a pretty big fuck up.  Took the country to war under false pretenses, okayed the outing of undercover CIA agents, used to own the Texas Rangers--all of these could be impeachable offenses, maybe.  So which does Lou Dobbs think warrants the censure?  None of the above.  Actually, he wants Bush to be impeached because of the tomato salmonella case!  I shit you not, a major news network is letting one of their talking heads suggest this idea.  Apparently old Lou has had enough, W!  Fox News, you may not be "Fair and Balanced" like you claim, but at least you're not "Random and Crazy" as CNN clearly aspires to be. While we're on the topic, I would like to impeach Bush because the grocery store sold out of cherries yesterday, and then on the way home a dick-head driving a pick-up cut me off.  

So the FDA won't tell where the salmonella came from, but fear not, for I may have cracked the case.  I'm sorry to say that there's a very good chance that the salmonella originated from my dishwasher.  It has been getting progressively more cruddy lately, so today I decided to completely disassemble the thing and give it a proper clean.  And holy hell, I need to be apologize to everyone who may have eaten a meal at my house over the past 2 years.  That thing was beyond filthy.  My building is 8 years old and the dishwasher has clearly never been cleaned thoroughly, ever.  

The funny thing about taking a dishwasher apart, and I'd never done this before, is that you keep finding more and more pieces that come off.  There are the 2 rotating washer things, the clips that hold them on plus 2 nuts and 2 washers a piece, plus the grates, plus the primary drain filter.  Then you get to the secondary drain filter, which isn't visible until you take the primary out, and sweet Jesus that is the mother load of disgusting.  Tomato peel, long human hair--see wife, I told you your hair gets fucking everywhere!--, and several ounces of organic mud that I carbon-dated to be at least 5 years old.  It was a horrendous experience, but at least now I know my dishwasher is actually clean and performs cleaning operations, as opposed to depositing a fine layer of toxic sludge over the plates off of which I eat.  Of course, when I finished putting all the clean parts back together, I had to wash every kitchen utensil, every plate, bowl, glass, but at least now I am pretty confident that I can have people over for dinner without them getting sick the next day.

So the moral of the story is this: if you've never taken your dishwasher apart to clean, do it.  I swear, this is one of those things that archaeologists will look back on in 1000 years and laugh at us for, for bringing about our own demise out of laziness through slow poisoning.  Hmm, sounds suspiciously like Rome and the lead in the aqueducts!  And we already have our Nero...

Friday, June 20, 2008

In the news...

Ok, so during my time in high school and college, I knew some people who did ridiculous things, and I may have even partaken in some pretty borderline activities myself.  Those stories may very well never see print, because I don't want my kids thinking, Oh Dad got drunk and then rode around on the hood of a car going 50 miles per hour on a dare and he turned out okay... And that is one of the more PG-rated tales I have to tell.  Here's something I wish I had done.  If you haven't seen this video, what have you been doing with your life?  No really, what?

What's my point?  Well, I've been reading lots of child care books lately (okay, skimming.   What's your fucking point?), and they tell you to do this, do that, do this, and hopefully your child will be a fully functioning 6 month old.  Ok great, I know we're taking baby steps here (actually not for another 8-10 months but anyway...) but why not cut to the chase and tell me how to get my daughter to be a fully functioning 20 year old.  And by fully functioning, I guess I mean not ever pregnant until at least after college.  I suppose I have some other items on the wish list: no tattoos, no piercings in places other than ears, oh, no stripping please god... There was a Chris Rock sketch I guess ten years ago: "how do you know you've succeeded as a father to your daughter?  You managed to keep her off the stripper pole."  

No, but really, what's my point?  Here, I'll tell you.  I was reading the news today and I came across one of the worst stories for a father of a daughter to read ever.  Twenty or so girls in a shithole Massachusetts town (really narrowing that down for you, huh?) high school, none over the age of 16, made a pact to get pregnant and raise their children together.  As more and more girls got pregnant, the remaining ones got desperate to the point that one of the fathers is a 24 year old homeless dude.  Score for him, I guess.  But that is just some fantastic judgment.  Apparently, they all come from awful broken home environments--hang one a second while I go hug my daughter and kiss my wife in front of her, okay I'm back.  

Oh really Time Magazine, they have home-life issues?  That is some outstanding reporting, about the level that I'm accustomed to expecting from you.  Time Magazine really sucks, by the way.  No offense if you read Time, but people who read Time are morons.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thank You Notes

Southern people do all sorts of weird things.  And yet, they don't think the things they do are strange, because they grew up in the middle of a strange-acting place thinking they were normal.  

Now, as you may know, I am married to a southern lady.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  Sometimes though, these weird southern behaviors become a real pain in my ass when I am expected to do them, and act as though I think they're perfectly normal.  

Among the weirdest of these practices, and one I seriously hate, is writing thank-you notes for everything.  In my book, if someone saves your life, that deserves a thank-you note.  If someone sends you a gift for your baby, not so much.  I would say a friendly email would suffice.  But god-all-fucking-mighty forbid that a thank-you note does not get written.  That would be a serious snub, and talked about in hushed, scandalous tones at the gun show.  

So why am I all bent out of shape about this?  Well, I'll tell you why.  When I started working in the trading industry right after college, aged 23, I worked on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.  Among my duties was to be on a headset--I looked like a helicopter pilot--with one of the craziest motherfuckers I have ever come across.  He was a broker who worked for my boss.  My boss would tell me what to have the broker do, and I would relay the message.  The broker was across the trading floor, I could see him, so even though he wouldn't acknowledge me half the time, I could see him work the order I gave him.  Sounds not so bad, but when hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the line and you're 23 and have a negative net worth that sure seems like a lot of money and things can get a little hectic.

Well, on one of my first days wearing this headset, I guess I fucked something up.  The broker I was on the line with went absolutely apeshit.  He was a good 200 feet across the room from me, but I could see his face turn bright red--it matched his trading jacket--and he started berating me over the headset, though he was screaming loud enough that I could hear him across the room, as could the thousand other people standing around listening to me get verbally raped.  He continued on his tirade for at least a minute, and the icing on the cake was "If you ever make a fuck-up like that again I will fucking come over there and fucking kill you."  And as the "fucking kill you" came out of his mouth, he pulled a huge knife out of his pocket and waved it my direction.  Nice, normal psychopath.  

The great thing about the trading industry is that if you're smart and good at what you do, you advance at a rate that seems ludicrous to people outside the business.  The broker and I established a pretty good working relationship, and the last two years that I worked at my former firm I was his boss.  Anyway, he is a really good dude, and today in the mail we got a package of baby gifts from him and his wife.  Very nice of them.  
"You need to write them a thank-you note, hun" says my wife.
Are you fucking kidding me?  I'm going to write an Emily Post-esque thank-you note to a guy who once threatened to kill me?  
"Yes, its the only decent thing to do."

So I guess I'm writing a thank-you note.  I have twenty bucks that says it makes the rounds at my former office.  I can see it now:
Dear Bill and Mary, [lots of grins]
We were excited to receive Alexandra's package in the mail today. [FAG!]  Thank you so much for your sweet gift. [FAG!]  She looks so cute in her onesy, and pink is a great color on her. [Dying laughing: onesy? Pink? Great color? FAG FAG FAG!] It was so thoughtful of you to send her such a nice gift--I hope you're able to meet her soon. [WellI hope she's not as big a FAG! as her dad!]  This is going to suck...

I've just devised a counter-plan though.  Every time someone does something that my wife says merits a thank-you note (Dear Mailman, Thank you for only fucking up our mail 74 days this past year...) I am going to demand that she takes two shots of tequila.  Seems ridiculous, honey?  Well that's just how its done in Botswana, its only decent, I just don't know what to tell you.  Guess you weren't raised right!  If someone sends you a gift, you pound tequila.  Everyone knows that.  You can even mention it in the thank-you note if you'd like.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Missed opportunities

My dad has always had a lot of good ideas for intentions.  There are several products that have come to market in the past fifteen years that I can clearly remember him suggesting before the actual "inventor" came up with them and made them happen.  For example, he always said how he wanted an LED scrolling panel in the back window of his car so he could share his feelings with motorists behind him--in Botswana sometimes the finger isn't clearly understood.  And I have to admit, being able to flash "Go Fuck Yourself!" to a guy tailgating you does seem like a great idea.  I even suggested that you could have one mounted on the front of your car that displayed mirror-writing so drivers in front of you could read it in their rear view mirrors.  Step on it, Grandma!"  Genius, right?  Well, lo and behold, I saw a product very similar to that which I just described in a catalogue the other day.  And that sucks, because my dad totally invented that fifteen years ago.  

Anyway, growing up I always said that if I had good ideas I would make sure I developed the product and made some money in the process.  So shopping for baby clothes...b o r i n g.  The Gap tries to spice things up a little bit by having cute sayings on the front--"Monkey Business" and a picture of a monkey.  Precious, sure.  But, I thought to myself, wouldn't it be great to market a line of baby clothes with dark humor printed on them?  Yes, indeed that would be a fantastic idea.  Lots of people my age like dark humor and lots of people my age are having kids.  Well last night I was looking for baby clothes online (yes, my life is that gloriously exciting) and what do I come across?  A website that sells the very clothes I thought up.  And instead of making a hundred thousand dollars off the plan, what did I do?  Yup, I spent $40 on two articles of clothing, and contributed big time to their hundred thousand dollars.  Damn it.

I will say though, that that site has some damn funny baby clothes.  A shirt with a picture of a fifth of Jack Daniels on it, with the text "Mommy Drinks Because I Cry." Or "He Thinks He's my Daddy." One of my favorites was a picture of a toilet roll, "Don't Forget to Wipe My Ass!"  Another: a picture of a rainbow, "They're Raising Me Gay!"  or a recycling sign with "Made from Recycled Genetic Material" printed below it.

So I clearly missed the boat on those, but I think I have another plan.  Little kids apparently love to dress the same as their parents--god help them--but it seems like it would be hard to find matching  clothes that weren't from Wal-Mart.  So maybe I'll come out with funny matching clothes.  You could have a mommy and daughter t-shirts that said "Mini-Me" for the mom, and "Please Tell Me My Ass Isn't Going to be That Big!" for the daughter.  Or maybe a matching father and son get-up with a kid's shirt that says "I Wet the Bed" and the dad's saying "Bet He'll Take an Interest in Reading Now."  The possibilities are endless.  Anyone want to invest?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Golf and appetites

Beautiful weather in Chicago this week, cloudless, not humid, warm.  What better time for an unemployed person like myself to play some golf?  On the subject of golf, I saw this video this afternoon, and although I've done some stupid things before, this has me beat. Wow!

When I got home from golf, my daughter was napping.  When she woke up she greeted me with the biggest, warmest, most sincere smile I've ever seen.  She is awesome.  She also continues to grow at a ridiculous rate.  Since the heart-melting smile she has proceeded to actively eat for three and half of the last four hours.  And she doesn't fuck around, either.  When she decides she's hungry, she seems convinced that starvation is just around the corner, and will try to eat anything in site.  A few days ago she latched on to my neck and gave me a hickey.  While she's trying to locate a food source, she opens for mouth as wide as possible, python-like, and I worry she'll dislocate her jaw.  When she thinks she's found something that might be a boob, she slams her head into it.  Like a hammerhead shark, I guess.  Last night she just about concussed herself on my collarbone as I carried her to my wife.  Of course, after slamming her forehead into my collarbone, she lets out a howl and looks at me like I'm the asshole.  Women...she's learning the ways of her sex early.  I am outnumbered and I know it.  Best to play golf.

Luckily neither my wife nor I are working, so dealing with the leech baby is not as bad as it might be.  The worst consequence for me--my wife's the one who has to deal with her latched on non-stop-- is that she has several nicknames that we call her by that all have to do with her voracious appetite.  There's Sumo and Pork Chop, and my current favorite, The Hungry Hungry Hippo.  Remember that toy from the 80s?  The four hippos that you controlled, and you tried to get your hippo to eat as many marbles as possible?  She knows the game, and she's damn good at it.  

The only problem with these nicknames is that we've got to stop using them well before she realizes what they connote.  The last thing I want is a little girl who thinks, "Great, my daddy thinks I'm a hippo.  I need a donut friend."  Maybe I'll run a competition on this site--"Nickname my Daughter."  Monkey and Stinkypants are already in use.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Ah, my first Father's Day, and it was outstanding.  My daughter slept for seven straight hours, which is a record for her, so I got plenty of sleep.  When we eventually woke up my wife made my favorite breakfast, eggs and biscuits.  She then made my favorite thing in the world, brownies, which said "World's Best Daddy" on them, making them the world's best brownies.  

Mother's and Father's Day when you have a baby is kind of weird.  Obviously the kid has nothing to do with the gift, nor any clue of what is going on.  So its all down to your spouse.  The first one is like a first wedding anniversary, too--you don't want to fuck it up because that'll haunt you for the rest of your days.  I thought I did a pretty decent job with Mother's Day, especially since our daughter was only 6 days old.  I got a very nice floral arrangement (also got flowers for her mom, who was staying with us at the time), I cooked one of her favorite meals, and I got her a Kindle.  When Amazon was conceptualizing the Kindle they must have my wife in mind.  She reads like a fiend and buys books by the box load.  Now with the Kindle, she gets books instantly and they're a lot cheaper too.  Our house doesn't look like a crazy book collecting hermit lives here, which is a plus as well.  So I thought I did pretty well.  I think my wife has bettered me though.

After eating myself close to oblivion, it was present time.  Since I've quit my job my one complaint has been a lack of adrenaline rushes.  Nothing like risking a couple hundred thousand dollars several times a day to get the juices flowing--or to stress you out to the point of quitting, as the case turned out.  So while I've been relaxed and overall much happier, if I could tweak one aspect of my life it'd be to make it a little more exciting.  Blogging just isn't cutting it so far.  So, my wife and daughter got me a first flight school lesson.  I get to do a couple hour course, then fly around Chicago for 45 minutes with a flight instructor, and coolest of all I get to do some of the flying.  Now I am a little uneasy flying commercial, but this sounds fantastic.  The only problem standing in my way is my wife's realization that the plane is a single-engined Cessna.  You would think the pictures of the plane with a solitary propellor on the website and gift certificate might have tipped her off, but apparently not.  I'm not sure if she was expecting me to be tooling around, circling the Sears Tower in a 747, but regardless she can't believe our 6 week old daughter would want her dad up in a single-engined plane.  I guess I can see her point, so her call.  Whether I do the flight or not, coolest present ever.  

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Auntie Coffee Grinder

Disaster has struck in Chicago!  My coffee grinder is broken.  

Moment of silence, please.

All right, I think that I've been considerably more relaxed since I quit my job, haven't been getting irate at minor, inconsequential things, but this is just bullshit.  We've had that grinder for less than a year, it cost like $80, and the motor appears to have burnt out.  Its not like I drank that much coffee!  Fucking fuck!

So while I was messing with the broken grinder, getting beans and old grounds all over myself, the kitchen counter and the floor, some noise in the stairwell woke up my daughter.  My wife was asleep, I was covered in coffee at various stages of ground-ness, and the baby awoke, was unhappy and decided she was on the verge of starvation.  So I had to go pick her up, thus caking her in coffee, and presented her to my wife to feed.  "How did she get coffee grounds all over herself."  Well duh!  How do you think?  

Coffee grinder update: since the debacle this morning which prompted me to write the first part of this post, I worked on the grinder some more.  It still didn't work, and I got so pissed off that I slammed it against the marble counter-top.  Presto!  It works like new.  Now on to what I meant to talk about today:

My daughter has three aunts.  My sister, wife's sister, and my wife's brother's wife.  Two of my wife's friends have so far referred to themselves as Aunt so-in-so, a tradition that I think is nice.  Its kind of weird for little kids to call their parents' friends by their first name alone, and calling close family friends Mrs. So-in-so is overly formal.  We're not going for The Sound of Music here.  Aunt B, however, is not amused!  

She was staying with us for a few days before her Indonesia trip, and as a result got wind of the impostor-aunties.  One of them has the last name Duck.  "Well," says Aunt B, "Your daughter can just call her Quack Quack!  SHE IS NOT HER AUNT!"  Very entertaining.

Now, being somewhat of an asshole, and never missing the opportunity to get at Aunt B, I decided that the best course of action was to make her feel better about the whole situation by referring to everyone that my daughter sees as Auntie.  
"Look sweetie, its Auntie Cleaning Lady."  
"Say 'thank you' to Auntie Grocery-Bagger!"
"There's Auntie Homeless Dude digging through the trash again..."

Aunt B's retaliation plan is to try to get my daughter to call people other than me "daddy."  Especially big black guys.  Not bad, not bad.  You didn't used to need my daughter as an excuse to talk to big black dudes, though.  What happened?  

In all fairness to Aunt B, she is a very good aunt, and my daughter loves her.  She's not even that bad of a house guest.  Unlike fish, she doesn't start stinking after a few days around.  She smells bad all the time.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Witch vs. Sangoma

Big news in Chicago today is that R. Kelly, Grammy-winning pedophile and child pornography producer, was acquitted of all charges against him.  This is sort of like the OJ case, except if OJ had videoed himself killing Nicole Brown.   I guess that proves that R. Kelly doesn't need a 13 year old girl to get off. 

In other news, the advertising revenue of this blog is up to $7.74, which means I'm making about $2/hour.  

I solicited suggestions on what the hell to post about today, and received two responses:

"In your next post, I think you should explore your obviously repressed fear of witches.  Did you have a run-in with a sangoma when you were a kid?" and "an entire post about auntie-o and her awesomeness."  I think I'll go with both, and thus not have to award the promised prize, which doesn't exist, at least not until I get my thousand BumDad t-shirts.  Ahh, trickery and treachery!  Two of my favorites.

Let's start with the witch allegations and save making fun of Aunt B for tomorrow, when she'll be away from the internet, on her way to Indonesia, and miserable wondering what I've said.  Maybe I give myself too much credit.  No?  Okay, didn't think so.

In fairness to me, despite the multiple references to witches, I have only been referring to one person, our hypno-birthing teacher.  And I stand by my assessment that she may well be into witchcraft.  She has a humped back, crazy eyes and the aforementioned moles of Satan.  I am also willing to bet that if we tossed her into Lake Michigan with weights attached to her she would sink, and I would be vindicated.  

Now, the question of a run-in with a sangoma.  Well, first of all, what the hell is that?  According to Wikipedia a sangoma is "a practitioner of herbal medicine, divination and counseling in traditional...societies of Southern Africa," also know as a witch doctor.  In Botswana, where I grew up, people would go to witch doctors for treatment of various maladies, and also to put curses on enemies.  Seems like George W. Bush could use a good sangoma right about now.  But anyway, no, I didn't have a run-in with a sangoma, but I do have a respect for them.  I mean, why risk it?  I don't need to get cursed.  I'm not huge into the whole organized religion thing, but I'm not going to roll a joint with page from the Bible, either.  The flagpole at the school right across the street from my condo got struck by lightning last summer.  I think it may have been a warning shot.

Another cool thing about sangomas is that they give out muti.  Muti is "traditional medicine," and can range from echinacea-type plants to marijuana, to asbestos if you're a dick.  Although you do have to question the sangoma prescription for AIDS treatment--muti and sleeping with ten virgins.  South Africa's presumptive next president is a believer in that treatment, though.  Awesome.

Which brings me to the whole point of this discussion, the nexus if you will, and that is wouldn't it be cool if they made a movie called Witch vs. Sangoma?  It would be like Alien vs. Predator, but guaranteed to be better because that was one of the worst movies ever.  I can see it now, you'd have the witch brewing up potions and dispatching birthing advice, and the sangoma hanging out selling weed--I mean muti--and telling people to sleep around to cure their ailments.  Gee, who do you think would win?  Hollywood, here I come. 


Tell me what I should write about today.  Winner gets a prize.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Don't do Bradley

There are several child birth classes out there, and quite frankly I don't think any of them are anything short of mind numbing.  Unfortunately, if your wife is pregnant and wants to go to a class, guess what, you're going.  So you're pretty screwed regardless, but heed my advice and you may come out of the experience without having blown your brains out with a large caliber bullet.

I'm aware of three different classes you can choose from:  Hypno-birthing, Bradley, and Lamaze.  Lamaze seems like it would be the least painful--and by least painful I mean its over the fastest.  Of course, we didn't even sample Lamaze, because that would have been too easy.  And god knows that if there is one way pregnant women don't do things, its the easy way.  If your wife suggests Lamaze, just say yes quickly, suck it up and you'll be done.  Then pinch yourself, wake up and laugh.    

I was presented with the question of which I thought sounded better, hypno or Bradley.  Well, my first thought was, Which is longer?  And like a dumbass, I asked the question.  That was not the response that my wife was looking for. Even though I tried to plead the case that I was wanting to select the longer class so as to be more thorough, she didn't seem to believe me.  Pregnancy does not make your wife less intelligent--just less reasonable.

My wife suggested that I had maybe better do some research before I ventured my next guess as to what the right answer was.   She already knew which class we were taking, she was just sending me on one of the various fool's errands of pregnancy.  Like the king sending a brave knight to slay a dragon to secure his daughter's hand, when we all know there's no fucking dragon in the first place, and the king is an asshole.  Basically, there is no right answer in this situation, so since you're in for some trouble anyway my advice is to have a beer and watch some sports on TV.  

Turns out my advice, which I followed because, let's face it, I'm generally right, sucked.  Instead of weathering the storm of the grumpy pregnant lady and going to whichever class she wanted, which I had hoped would be the outcome, my wife decided that we should sample both classes.  Fucking fantastic.

We went to hypno-birthing and it was pretty terrible.  Possible-witch instructor, annoying classmates, Monday night from 7-9 for five weeks and at the time I was working from 5am-4pm.  I didn't think Bradley could possibly be any worse, but oh sweet Jesus was I wrong.  Again.  

Bradley class was every Sunday afternoon from 2-6, and the first class we went to was on the first Sunday of NFL playoffs.  I was thrilled, nowhere I'd rather have been.  At least the piece of shit Bears were so bad last year that they didn't make it out of the joke division that is the NFC North, so I didn't have to worry about cheering against them and risk getting my ass kicked at whatever bar I would have been at.  So we get to the class, and first things first, I ask the instructor how many weeks the class runs.  Twelve.  Blind fucking terror.  Just get me back to hypno-birthing, please god, I promise to be a good boy.  I blanched, started shaking and began considering ways to fake my own death.  

Of course, we were the first to arrive, so we got to chat with the instructor for a while as the rest of the class straggled in up to fifteen minutes late.  And Mary was as big a freak as she looked like she'd be, which was...a really freaking big freak.  She had a forehead as though she belonged on Mount Rushmore, a general vacant look in her eyes and a permanently slack jaw that caused her mouth to hang open either like she was a moron or a fly-trap, or as the case may be, both.  Anything that she might be able to teach, I had no interest in learning.  

As the rest of the class filed in, I realized that my wife and I were the only two people there who had a chance of passing for normal.  Let's discuss the cast of characters in ascending order of oddity.  The least strange couple looked eccentric, but not too bad.  She was a teacher, he an AV engineer, whatever that means.  He had some odd, odd facial hair going on--the full beard but with various segments shaved out for some reason.  She has totally average looking, and I thought they could be okay, but then they said they'd driven 45 minutes to be there and had spent the whole day at their church.  NFL playoffs.  What the fuck are you doing with your lives?

The next odder couple were uncomfortable to share a room with.  He was clearly gay, she clearly in denial and pregnant.  Ladies, if your man asks you to wear a strap-on and/or likes Clay Aiken, these are both red flags, and you should run.  Don't marry him and get pregnant that one time you have sex when you're wearing a Ricky Martin mask.  At one point something upset the woman very much and she began crying, then left the room.  She stood some distance down the hall audibly bawling, but-- rather than, I dunno, comfort her?--gay guy sits there pretending nothing is happening, intently watching the inane video.  Not even any attractive men in, so my wife tells me.  The instructor eventually went to talk to the crying lady, leaving us all writhing in awkwardness.

The oddest couple, though, we straight out of a time warp.  They both looked like they could have been extras on one of the early episodes of Roseanne.  The guy was fat and disheveled, wearing a stained t-shirt and stonewashed tapered jeans.  The lady was wearing a super-baggy sweatshirt, tracksuit pants, and a turtleneck.  Big hoop earrings.  She also had large, perfectly round glasses, the kind which I haven't seen for a good ten years, and a haircut to match.  Ponytail, bangs, dandruff.  Awesome.  They were the last to come in to class, and they carried several grocery bags with them.  They proceeded to unpack a full pre-made meal: a complete rotisserie chicken, corn, coleslaw, a loaf of Wonderbread.  Mmm.  Nutritious and delicious.  I thought perhaps people took turns bringing snacks and they were just a little strange.  Nope, no one else was eating but them, and boy did they eat.  The worked on the chicken for at least 3 of the 4 hours of class and I've heard dogs handle chicken bones with more eloquence.

Then there was the class material.  Holy shit.  Here are some highlights:
- Husbands, be supportive of your wife.
- Try to remain calm.
- Let's make a rice-sock (literally a sock filled with rice, no shit) that you can microwave and put on your wife's back to help ease pain.  
- I decide to hang myself with shoelaces but am crushed when I realize I wore loafers.  Douchebag! 

It really was the rice-sock that put me over the edge.  It took over an hour for four couples to manage to fill a gym sock with rice, tie it shut, and microwave it.  I despair for these peoples' kids.  They have probably starved because I estimate that it would take their parents at least three hours to change a diaper, and then another two hours to get the kid dressed.  Three hours of chicken eating later, and you have a newborn on the verge of death. 

Luckily, my wife was as aghast with the whole situation as I was, and we made a pact to never return and instead go to hypnobirthing.    It was pretty terrible too--the instructor was more likely than not a witch, and has moles on her face that speak (the one on her chin is a pretty cool guy)--but nothing could ever be as bad as Bradley class.  So future dads, listen up.  Try to dissuade your wife from taking a class.  My wife ended up having a C-section because my daughter was breach, but even if she had had a natural birth I don't think the class would have helped.  You really think me telling her to go to her happy place (that's right, happy place) when something the size of a grapefruit is passing through something a whole lot smaller is going to help?  Fuck, I get scared even thinking about it.  But the point is, you're probably going to have to take a class, just make sure you avoid Bradley!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Baby talk

I'm sure this is totally normal and all dads do it.  So don't worry about reading any further.  And don't judge me.  Sometimes when I'm holding my daughter and talking to her, she'll make a face or smile or coo, all of which is awesome.  But when my wife is around, I'll venture guesses out loud at what my daughter is trying to communicate.  Thing is, today I did that and realized that for the past five weeks I've been giving her the voice of a ghetto black guy a la Chris Rock.  She had an anguished look on her face this afternoon, so I asked her, "Sweetie, what are you doing?"
"I'm pooping my pants, fool, what does it sound like I'm doing?"  
"Oh, I see."
"That's right, and you'd best be changing me before I blow out this here diaper all over your cracker-ass lap."  Chuckles.  "Cracker-ass-cracker."

Having visited the pediatrician today, I think I may switch from Chris Rock to Fat Albert.  She has gained 3 pounds in her 5 weeks of life.  Hmm, 3 times 10 is 30 times 10, carry the 3...holy shit!  That means by my calculations she will weigh a little over 300 pounds by her 10th birthday.  Luckily, she has also grown 3 inches.  So...--phew, this calculator is getting a workout!--that's 300 inches in 10 years.  Um, no one tell Homeland Security, but my 10 year old daughter may be 25 feet tall to go with her 300 pounds.  And that's making the modest assumption of linear growth.  Throw a natural logarithm in there and Godzilla had better watch his scaly ass.  

So my daughter is going to be an ebonics speaking 25 footer.  Fantastic.  At least the WNBA will be a little more interesting and she'll be able to support me in my dotage.  But even if my daughter turns out to be normal-sized and not the white female Yao Ming, I'll have all the wonderful income from my Google Ads which you will find conveniently located just to the right of this post.  The funny thing about Google Ads is that they make you agree to a serious list of conditions and things that you won't do.  For instance, I'm not supposed to click on my own ads.  As Borat would say, "That would be like doing it with my sister.  Very nice!" Fair enough, I guess, no blog incest.  I'm also prohibited from soliciting my blog visitors to click on my ads.  Well what the fuck?  Are they supposed to click themselves?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Five S's

Ah, the "Five Ss."  Sounds like some sort of teenage rite of passage check-list, but its not.  Well, I suppose it could be, but not where I grew up.  Anyway, this dude named Dr. Karp has a DVD and book out called "The Happiest Baby on the Block" in which he advocates swaddling, shushing, swaying (read: shaking), sucking and something I can't recall.  

We first came across this guy in our child-birth class (which deserves a post in its own right).   He looks like a homeless guy who has been fortunate enough find someone's discarded royal blue button-down shirt and a tie, makes strange attempts at jokes which no one on camera laughs at, and is generally uncomfortable to look at.  He is so disheveled, in fact, that he could conceivably be Robert de Niro, deep in a weirdo role.  

We watched a ten minute segment of the video in the birthing class, and I remember being horrified, and laughing that anyone would actually take this clown seriously.  He takes a crying baby and wraps it in a blanket, arms at the baby's side pseudo-straitjacket-style, then starts shaking the baby such that its head is wobbling like a bowl of jello.  Simultaneously, he is shushing loudly in the baby's ear.  Surely this was exactly what not to do, right?  I couldn't stop from laughing in class, but everyone else looked on intently, and at me like I was the asshole, and seemed to take the guy seriously.  Retards.  They had probably been shaken as babies.

Well, the baby in the video stops crying and looks perplexed, bordering on stunned, but generally content.  I kept waiting for the instructor (who was a pretty border-line character herself--I think she may be a witch) to jump out and say "See all the crazy shit people will try to get you to do to your baby?  Never shake a baby!" but instead she goes on about how great this dude is and how this video will make things so much better for you.  Hmm.

It seemed fucked up to me, so rather than take Witchy-poo's word for it, I asked our Harvard educated pediatrician.  Surely she'd tell me it was bunk.  Nope, actually our pediatric practice hands out a sheet of baby soothing suggestions itemizing the five Ss.

Turns out that a baby's biggest problem is a total lack of coordination.  My daughter will repeatedly bitch-slap herself, gouge her eyes and then fish-hook her mouth for good measure.  Naturally, this pisses her off big-time, and she seeks revenge by way of poking, scratching and her favorite move, the backhanded pimp-slap.  And, not surprisingly, her attempted revenge just enrages her further.  Its kind of a like when a bigger kid would grab your hand and hit you with it--"Stop hitting yourself.  Hahaha!  Dummy"--except that she plays both roles herself.  So actually swaddling is a godsend because it stops her from kicking her own ass.  

Shushing?  Are you kidding me?  Good one, Einstein, shush a baby.  That'll work!  Maybe just ask her stop?  She's a baby, she doesn't know that shush means be quiet.  Or does she?  Turns out the hobo in blue is right again, and an irate crying baby responds positively to being shushed.  Loudly!  Strange, because if someone broadcast static into my ear it would set off the bitch-slap reflex discussed above.  At some point I know my daughter is going to develop that too, and I'll have a black-eye from my two year old.  

Swaying, the homeless guy's euphemism for shaking, is the hardest of the Ss to do--its now "shake the baby, shake the baby"--but the most worthwhile.  She can be throwing the ultimate shit fit but gently jiggling her will almost always get her to stop, at least momentarily.  And let's face it, life with a newborn is nothing but a series of moments, and you just hope that your day contains more good ones than bad.  

As for sucking and whatever the fifth S is, I can't say yet.  My daughter won't take a pacifier really, although she does go absolutely ape shit for my finger dipped in watermelon juice.  I know that's a no-no and I've only done it twice, so chillax.  What I can say with certainty is that The Happiest Baby on the Block is a great investment.  If you're having a kid, buy it.  If you swaddle, shush and sway, your baby will love you for it--or at least stop screaming in your ear.  

Monday, June 9, 2008

Chicago sports

I know that I said just yesterday that this blog was going to be about fatherhood, but some breaking developments in the Chicago sports world in which I live demand attention.  Here's the deal: I love the Cubs.  I love the Bulls.  I hate the Bears.  Actually just Bears fans--I don't know of worse sports fans on Earth.  The Bears themselves are too pitiful to hate.  I don't care about the White Sox, or the entire American League for that matter.  And Chicago may still have a hockey team, although I don't think anyone cares, and I know I don't.  

Anyway, the Bears' marque running back, Cedric Benson, was arrested again.  He will probably be cut by the team, leaving the Bears' backfield as good as empty.  Or they may keep him, and we'll be a continued disappointment and locker room cancer.  Either way, this news just makes me smile.  This promises to be a stellar year for Bears hating--Fall 2008 is going to be awesome.  

So the Bears are hosed, hurrah hurrah.  Unfortunately, the Bulls are trying their best to self-destruct, too.  Being that I don't have a job, I am annoyed that I didn't bother to apply for the Bulls' head coach position.  I would have been hired for sure.  Instead, they hired Vinny del Negro.  Yeah, I know, who the fuck is Vinny del Negro?  Sounds like he may be related to Speedy Gonzalez.  I sure hope so.  Hmm, well according to Wikipedia (hey, do I get 2 cents if someone actually clicks that?  No???  I don't understand!) he bounced around various NBA teams, some Italian teams, then was assistant general manager of the Phoenix Suns.  So basically the guy is Dwight Schrute (2 cents? Fuck!) but interested in basketball rather than beets.  Awesome.  Good thing the Bulls have first pick in the upcoming NBA draft.  I will be sure to enter that, just in case my friendly neighborhood team comes knocking.  

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Why Blog?

Blogging has always seemed like a colossal waste of time to me.  Either that, or self-involved, or egomaniacal way to make yourself feel more interesting.  Do funny people really blog?  Do interesting people take the time out of their fascinating lives to blog?  And if so, why?

A friend of mine is a consultant and was considering working for an internet ad company.  I asked him what a good ad rate was.  $20 per 1000 referals.  That's 2c for every person that looks at your page AND happens to click on an ad.  I'm not self-involved or egomaniacal enough to think that that would make a blog worth my while, and I know that I'm not funny or interesting enough for it to be profitable, either.  

So once again, what the hell am I doing?  For some reason, several people I know seem to think that I should blog.  I'm not sure why.  In fact, I'm a bit suspicious.  Do they think I'm self-involved?  Egomaniacal?  Stop nodding.  Oh, maybe they think I'm funny and interesting.  Slim chance there.  Maybe they're trying to set me up for failure!  Maybe, they'll mock my crappy blog and show their friends--not enough friends to make that 2c per referral add up to anything, mind you, because my friends don't have that many friends.  Losers.  No, just enough people to form a consensus that I'm not funny but boring, and therefore self-involved for doing this in the first place.  And certainly egomaniacal.  See why a blog is a terrible idea?  

Me too.

My wife points out that I could parlay it into a book deal if people actually read it.  Unfortunately, I think she is one of the few people who still read books.  Or maybe a newspaper column, she suggests.  Also not the hottest plan, since not even she buys a newspaper anymore.  

Another set of problems with a blog is that for me being entertaining often goes hand-in-hand with being offensive.  Now, most of my friends are aware of this and accept it, and maybe if I were less offensive I'd have more friends--but I digress.  The point of this paragraph is my wife's parents.  They're well aware that I'm offensive, but I worry that a blog where I chronicle my thousand favorite yo' mama jokes--all carefully personalized to my mother-in-law--could hurt some feelings.  Don't worry, I won't dwell on your truck-stop prostitution or your real money online poker addiction.  Okay, okay, one of those is totally not true.  Both are felonies.  And let's be honest, how many southern women in their fifties play Texas Hold 'Em?

And yet in spite of all these pretty solid reasons to not write a blog, I think I'll give it a try.  Fatherhood is funny shit.  Ridiculous things happen all day.  Poop is always the topic du jour in our house.  Rather than poker, I play diaper-roulette;  yellow, brown or green?  Place your bets.  I get sent to the baby store to buy contraptions with names like "My Brest Friend" and am expected to do it with a straight face.  My wife suggests I read books with titles like "The Diaper-less Baby".  I point out that that book has a sequel in development--"The Fatherless Baby" --and thus I don't have to read it.  

So armed with my 11 pound muse and lack of gainful employment, here we go...
But don't worry, having a child hasn't stripped me of opinions, so prepare for the occasional rant about sports, wine, politics, taxes (God, I fucking hate taxes!) and whatever else I feel like.