Sunday, December 22, 2013

Simchat something

I just got back from a Jewish baby naming ceremony. I was invited by a friend at work who has a new baby.

I generally suck at even the most basic forms of social ritual, so throw in religion...and add in anything involving chanting in a foreign language, and I'm out of my element.

Are you supposed to wear a suit? (I did, and that was a pretty safe call.)

Are you supposed to bring a gift? (I didn't, but I didn't see anyone else bring one.)

Are you supposed to wear one of those little Jewish caps? (Hope not. Everyone else had one, except the babies. I'm claiming affinity with the babies.)

When everyone starts singing in Hebrew, are you supposed to move your lips as if you're singing? Even though you obviously don't know the words? Or is that an affront to the faith? (Still not sure. I was the only one not singing.)

Is it inappropriate to make faces at the toddlers in the audience? I mean if they look directly at you? (I have a feeling I failed on this one.)

I survived. I didn't get kicked out, and God didn't strike me dead (always a concern of mine in a house of worship). As far as I could tell, no one whispered behind my back, "Hey, that guy's not wearing his little cap."

So...victory. And now to start packing for our trip to Illinois to celebrate the Christian toy-giving ritual.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Yea! No more piano!

The conversation five years ago went something like this:

Todd: "Why?"

Jen: "I think it would be nice to have."

Todd: "Nobody in our family plays the piano."

Jen: "The boys might play it. Samuel could take lessons."

Todd (calculating costs in his head): "And put it where?"

Jen: "How about right there? In the foyer."

Todd: "The foyer? Right when you walk in? And what would you do with the Columnaire Art Deco radio?"

Jen: " long were we planning on keeping that?"

The conversation last week went something like this:

Jen: "Okay. I'm willing to get rid of the piano. "

Todd (furiously typing Craigslist ad): "Okay."


Holiday wish fulfilled. Now let's have a contest to see how quickly we can fill up that space with crap again.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weekend update

I finished a manuscript and sent it to my agent. Full disclaimer: it took nine months in total, but even procrastination eventually runs its course.

We bought a Christmas tree.

I wasted most of the afternoon looking at vintage lamp shades on eBay.

Yesterday Jen and I walked by the antique store on 79th, and I said to the owner, "I see you finally sold that Art Nouveau ceiling lamp that was in the window for so long." I'd been coveting it for a year. He grumbled, "No, I've still got it, I just haven't been able to sell it."

But, even marked down, it was still $750, know, if pressed, that's probably NOT what Jen would say she wants to get each other for Christmas. So we decided to go online and see how much it would cost to just buy a vintage Quezal lamp shade (sans lamp) and attach it to our existing ceiling fixture.

The answer is $70. We are now the proud owners. Don't tell the guy at the antique store.

The best moment of the day was when Jen told me that we could get rid of our piano. No one has played it in five years; it simply serves as a dumping ground for every box, handbag, backpack, coat, piece of mail, or set of keys that comes within six feet of it. It makes us look like hoarders.

I'm the anal-retentive interior decorator in our household; Jen and the boys are the dorm room slobs. I love quarter-sawn oak, vintage leather, dupioni silk, and antique Quezal lamp shades. Jen and the boys are happy so long as they have a TV, a laptop, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a path to the front door.

I took the dogs for a walk this evening. I was happy with my new lamp shade, and my finished manuscript, and my impending lack of piano. It was snowing, and the Christmas tree vendor was still open on Columbus Avenue, and it suddenly felt very Christmasy.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

There has been a rift in the space-time continuum

As Ethan likes to say, I'm not competitive as long as I'm in the lead. Which is why it pains me to say I am no longer the reigning Dads Gymnastics champion at our friends' annual holiday party.

I came into the event as two-time defending champ, got a big ovation from the crowd when I entered the room, and proceeded to do a lights-out headstand, an A+ cartwheel, and a kick-ass splits (which no dad over 30 can match).

For my optional move, I decided to wow them with an L-sit. I mean, come on, how many dads can do an L-sit?

Let's just say I was confident.

An hour passed. Santa came.

The toddlers retreated to a bedroom to watch "Monsters University."

Finally, toward the end of the party, it was time for the big announcement.

I passed my phone to Jennifer so that she could take a picture of me as I accepted my award.

And then--

I was suddenly and inexplicably sucked through a tiny wormhole into a parallel universe.

They gave the prize to a guy who did a handstand push-up for his optional move.

Come on. Degree of difficulty: 7.5, at most.

But it was a visual move. An L-sit is static. Damn. These are elementary and middle-school judges, after all.

Duly noted. Duly noted.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some training to do.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Darn, I didn't quite get enough DNA off the lip of that Pepsi cup to make a good clone of Elvis

But--hey--I'm in luck.

Oh, this is just sad

From the "Gotta Have Rock'n'Roll" online auction: an Elvis Presley stage-used Pepsi cup...starting bid $600. I suppose if you're interested in cloning Elvis and need his DNA. Otherwise how creepy is this?

Sunday, December 1, 2013


I was happy to have the four-day weekend. I not only needed some mental downtime, I needed a little kid fix. It's like Coke Zero: I go through withdrawal.

So I was happy to go to Ethan's Thanksgiving feast at his school on Wednesday. Lots of little kids singing about multi-culturalism, followed by a meal of turkey and watered-down apple tea in the lunchroom. I got to sit next to Ethan and right across from a 4-year-old. Hee-hee-hee.

I was not happy to pull my calf muscle on Wednesday afternoon. I was 2 minutes into a fast run and was thinking, "You know, I can still run a 6-minute pace for at least a few minutes--." Crap. The >50 Curse strikes again.

I was happy to spend Thanksgiving with Jen and the boys and my aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews.

Even though Samuel and Ethan are too big for it, I still love to play hide-and-seek and pull-the-kid-along-the-floor-by-his-feet. I tried not to blatantly ignore my own kids, but when little Ella asked me to be her assistant on her gingerbread house, I was like, Samuel and Ethan who?

Poor Samuel and Ethan. I've abandoned them for younger, trophy kids. Years of therapy are ahead for all of us.

I still love you, Samuel and Ethan. I just have an addiction.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ethan's new theory

Ethan has a new theory. He believes that video games don't cause violence, research does. 

By interrupting people trying to play video games in order to ask them silly research questions, it annoys them, making them more violent.

He also feels that if everyone were busy playing video games, there would be no time to commit violence. We should therefore discourage young people from going outside and interacting with other people in the real world, and instead encourage them to stay home and play video games.

Monday, November 18, 2013

In the category of "Of absolutely no interest to anyone but me"...

Inspired by the gray silk curtains I saw at the Art Deco hotel in LA...

Voila. I'm a man who gets things done.

Once I did that, I was immediately repulsed by our modern white plastic electrical switches. Nothing says "Home Depot" quite like white plastic electrical switches. I can't live my life like that.

Excuse me for a second, I just threw up in my mouth.

I thought, "You know what would really be cool?"

Yeah, baby. Inlaid-pearl push-button switches. Courtesy of

But seriously, I'm really easy to live with. Just ask Jennifer.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What I found in Ethan's pockets

When I took the dogs out last night, I instinctively grabbed the nearest jacket that looked like it would fit.

It was Ethan's.

When I got outside I noticed that the pockets were very heavy...

3D glasses from last Saturday night when we went to see a movie...a bunch of loose eraser...some currency from Nepal that he got from his friend Zoe...and something capsule-like, which I couldn't make out in the darkness.

Oh, my God, is that a pill? Is he buying drugs from Nepal?

I moved under a street lamp to get a closer look.

It was the stub of a Crayon.

May his pockets always be filled with 3D glasses and crayon stubs.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The new movie theater

We went to see "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" in 3D at the Loews theater on Broadway and 84th.

They've replaced all the old theater seats with plush leather recliners. It's like watching a movie in First Class. I suppose.

Eight thumbs up.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


"Would you rather have a happy and fulfilling life, or live in the real world?"

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Six Flags: the final weekend

In an effort to wring the last morsels of value from of our season passes, I dragged Jen and the boys to Six Flags for its final weekend of the 2013 season.

Jen came willingly because it was my birthday weekend. Samuel was willing even though he had a lot of homework to do. Ethan would've preferred to stay home and play on the computer, like any normal person in fall weather would do.

Six Flags in October is a little bit like me in October: a sad shell of its summertime self. It tries to perpetuate the myth of fun outdoor activity by putting up cobweb decorations and red food coloring in the fountain and referring to it as "Fright Fest." But, really, it was just a cold amusement park. And it made me sad to walk by the closed log flume ride, completely drained of water.

But, like me, Six Flags will do whatever it takes to wring the last bit of August out of October.

And we got our money's worth, by God.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

California trip

Just got back from a 3-day trip to LA.

I sat next to a 3-year-old boy on the plane, which normally would be a good thing, except that he kept farting for the entire 6-hour flight.

My first stop--about fifteen minutes after I landed--was Randy's Donuts. I needed to purge my olfactory senses of toddler farts and get things back on a positive note.

I stayed at a restored, Art Deco hotel overlooking the ocean. Restored, Art Deco, and Ocean are three of my favorite words.

Here are the things I loved about it:

1. The entrance.

2. The view on the way to my room.

3. The silk drapes.

4. The ocean view through 75-year-old windows.

5. Art Deco wood flooring and baseboards.

6. Funky crown molding.

7. Polished nickel bathroom fixtures.

8. The fact that it was right across from the beach, so I could go for a run before sunset.

9. The open bathroom, so I could take a shower after my run while watching the sunset.

10. The sunset, which made me feel like I was part of an Eagles album cover.

11. The fact that no one could see me naked--unless they had a really good pair of binoculars.

Okay, okay, enough about the damn hotel.

I got to see a hockey game with my sister's family.

Bonus: I got to see my niece Addie do a silly dance.

I picked up 7 donuts on my way back to the airport for the flight home, 5 of which made it to NYC. No farting toddlers on the redeye.

Happy to be home again...but it was a good trip.