Thursday, November 30, 2006


I was talking to my mom on the phone tonight, and she told me something I never realized before--that she never had any pets growing up, and she has never had a fondness for animals. Apparently my poor grandfather got bit by a dog at some point, and--I don't know the whole connection there, but, she never had a pet, okay? Actually, she said she did have a cat for a short time, which they took in as a stray, but it immediately had kittens, which they then had to euthanize. You start to get the picture.

So my mom has never had a thing for animals. This despite the fact that we always had an animal, sometimes multiple animals, running around our house when I was growing up. As of tonight I realize that was all my dad's doing, and my mom quietly went along with it. Hmm.

Well, I've gotta say, I love dogs. My brother loves dogs. My sister loves dogs--and trains horses for a living. My kids love dogs. It's difficult for me to imagine not loving dogs. It's difficult for me to imagine anyone not loving dogs.

So to my mom and dad I say, thank you for having pets in our household when we were growing up. It's added an undeniable amount of happiness to my life. And to my mom I say, you're a trooper. And to my dad I say, you owe Mom a nice dinner.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Samuel's Thanksgiving Solo

Samuel sang a solo at the Studio School Thanksgiving Feast. He has always had such a sweet voice. I have to believe he was nervous, but he won't admit it. He did a great job, and I'm proud of him.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving Feast

I've spent the last 12 hours figuring out how to use the editing software that came with my new camcorder to edit our Thanksgiving video (a parody of "The View," with special guests Clay Aiken, Kelly Ripa, John Mayer, Jessica Simpson, the Mark Foley Scholarship winners, Lee Majors, Jennifer Beales, Christie Brinkley, and a token black guy). I finally got it edited and uploaded to You Tube, but I'm unable to save it on a DVD. That task is for tomorrow. Oh, and I'd provide a link to it, but Jennifer insists on keping it private--doesn't want to be publicly associated with it. But here's the outtakes.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Christmas Photo Costumes

I'm finished buying our Christmas photo costumes. The last purchase came through on eBay tonight. Check out this "Bobby & Cissy" vest. I got one for me and one for Sam & Ethan; there was only one kids' size available, so we'll have to shoot their photos separately and Photoshop them together. Also got white, flared-leg slacks and red satin shirts for us boys--they are actually women's/girl's, so that they'll look a little sissier. Or is that Cissyer?

Very psyched. Very psyched.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Iowa Hawkeyes

NCAA wrestling season has begun, so Jennifer has to put up with me listening to matchs on the Internet, punctuated by phone calls to my friend Steve in Iowa. My productivity falls 10% between November and March.

I trained and wrestled in Iowa for 4 years after college. Cursed at the top of my lungs more than during any other 4-year period of my life. So far anyway.

I took Samuel to an Iowa-Okie State match in Iowa City 5 years ago, when he was 3. We sat on the team bench at the edge of the mat--5,000 screaming fans, pure adrenaline. I sensed that Samuel didn't love it, but I was so swept up in it that I didn't really notice, or didn't want to notice. He later confirmed that he hated it. He hated the noise of the buzzer.

Now that he's older and I know his personality well, I know better. He's a quiet guy. He enjoys mechanical things, books, puzzles. He loves the MagiQuest at Great Wolf Lodge. He would sit in the front row at a robot exhibition and love it. But he does not share my love of wrestling. And that's okay.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ethan's top hat

Poor little Ethan came home bawling his eyes out. He had left his magic top hat in the cab on the way home. There is nothing sadder than a 5-year-old who has just lost the thing that is most precious to him in the whole world. If you're an adult it's easy to dismiss, but if you think about what it would be like to lose the thing that is most precious to you--and for me that would be Ethan or Samuel...well, that must be what it feels like to a 5-year-old to lose his magic hat.

So we're going on to eBay to see if we can find another magic top hat for Ethan, and hopefully, soon, all will be right with the world again.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Christmas Photo Dress!

Hurray! I got a dress for Jennifer on eBay for our "Lawrence Welk" Christmas photo. The scariest part is that someone was actually bidding against me.
I also got a Lawrence Welk scrapbook, from which I can possibly find some background images. Next task: some white slacks and vests for me and the boys. And we'll need some green shirts. White shoes too.

Bishops Issue Gay Guidelines

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 —The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops voted overwhelmingly today to support initiatives based on traditional teachings that call for gay and lesbian Catholics to remain celibate and for married Catholics to reject artificial contraception.

The guidelines welcome gay people, but with the caveats that they not be allowed to adopt children, vote, or speak unless spoken to. Also, that they burn in hell after they die.

In related news, fourteen Catholic bishops were arrested for molesting choirboys following a church conference. Church officials were unavailable for comment, as they were busy downloading child porn from the Internet.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Christmas Photo Planning

Every year we do a family Christmas photo. Every year around November 13 I start panicking about what the photo will be. I try to come up with either a flat-out parody (Abbey Road, From Here to Eternity, Anne Geddes Bunnies) or at least something vaguely thematic (1950s family, police lineup).

This year I ran through all the usual ideas that have been rejected in years past (Brady Bunch, Blue Man Group, Beverly Hillbillies), but fortunately came up with some new ones...Beach Boys, hippies on a VW bus, trailer park trash. The top idea was a country/bluegrass/hillbilly band performing at the Grand Ole Opry, circa 1955. Okay, it's better visually than it sounds on paper. You have to picture it in B&W, the Photoshopped Opry barn backdrop, the matching outfits with Colonel Sanders ties, country guitars, stand-up bass, banjo. Yee-haw. You can't do it like you're making fun of it--you have to do it like you're really in the picture, it's 1955, you're there on stage.

But as I started doing a little online research, I thought, you know, what if instead of Grand Ole Opry it was the Ed Sullivan Show? You know, dub in an image of Ed off to the side. Maybe we're a doo-wop group instead of bluegrass. Maybe we're a family of Russian acrobats, with a bear.

Then it struck me--Lawrence Welk! Eureka. I've been completely giddy for the past 24 hours, and I'm poring over apparel on eBay. We'll be one of those gay dancing families, a mixture of the Semanski Sisters and Bobby & Cissy, with Lawrence off to the side and the orchestra in the background. The boys and I will have white vests and ascots, Jennifer will have a '70s pastel polyester dress. Phony smiles, some kind of Up-With-People dance pose. I'm so excited.

It will take some Photoshop--actually a lot of Photoshop for this, and I'm kind of looking forward to that too, to see how accurate I can make it. My Photoshop philosophy is that it's okay to use it to execute an idea that otherwise couldn't be executed, but not simply to cut corners. (Simply pasting our heads on top of the Beatles' would be an example of the latter. I hate that kind of crap.)

Stand by for the results. I'm psyched about this project. The colors, the visual composition, the cheesiness. This could be a kick-ass photo.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Blog Jr High

Blogging is like 7th grade. Your two biggest fears are:

1) What if nobody notices me?

2) What if somebody notices me?

According to the recent estimates, there are currently 47 billion active blogs on the Web*--which means every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth is writing something like 10 blogs each, on a daily basis.** If all the blogs for just one day were printed out and placed end to end, they would reach all the way to Rutherford, NJ!***

That's really mind blowing, and if my older brother were here he'd probably put on some Steely Dan and light up a bong and ponder it.

(*I just made this number up, as I don't really have time to do a lot of research. But I know there are a LOT.)

(**I'm actually not even sure this number is correct, but anyone taking the time to look up the world population and do the math would still, I'm pretty sure, come up with an equally impressive number.)

(***This one is not as impressive, given that the starting spot is Manhattan. Apparently most blogs are quite short.)

Tomorrow: why are all blogs simply about other blogs?