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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Test please

Still working out the formatting kinks...  but I believe if you put your email address in the box above, hit submit, you will be notified via email of new posts.

Try it and let me know if so.  Get the word out folks.  I am not going away.  And try not to do anything around me that might embarrass you.  Cause I will write about it.  You can give me pseudonyms should you like.

Yours in Sarcasm, Wit and Wisdom.

Hank B

Guilty Pleasures

Since trust has been starting from scratch around this household the past few months the following guilty pleasures were inivitable.  After a night out of hoops Monday night it was clear to me the very computer I am typing this on was searched for contraband.  Anyone who knows me is aware I am technically inept.   Needless to say there were some websites I had been searching that caught my wife's attention.

I am, a red blooded male who happens to work at home 2, 3 days a week.  It goes without saying that there are lulls in the day.  For this I am unashamed and surely not alone.  And again, I am a bit of a tightwad so when boredom and curiousity take hold I am surfing free sites only.  Without further adieu please take a look at some essential free sites every Suburban male should have bookmarked (on safe computers not seen by anyone who give you shit.)  Make no mistake, these are NSFW!!!  Took me a whole to figure what that meant, but for all those in real jobs:  not suitable for work.  And sorry ladies, I will write about Bravo shows and Oprah one of these days, promise.  Right, no lying.  Forget it, just ignore this post altogether.

Thesuperficial.com
The first of three celebrity scandal/picture gallery/gossip/blog sites that I tend to view once a day.  Here I can find out if Courtney Cox is in bikini with a co-star.  Has Charlie Sheen hosted another radio show lamenting Warner Bros?  Winner, winner Sheen dinner.  They are big on Suri, Katie and Robot Cruise posts too, which are always fun.  Good, silly pop candy with plenty of scantily clad celebs and up to the minute Jersey Shore scoops.

Egotastic.com
Very similar to Thesuperficial, in fact a great many posts overlap.  They seem to be more Victoria's Secret model-centric.  Sofia Vergara is big here too..  Either way you can do much worse.  Think of this as TMZ unfiltered and with a bit more edge.  Better yet, this is a straight man's PerezHilton.com

Drunkenstepfather.com
This is an amalgam of the two sites listed above.  There are more links to other sites and recently they have begun posting more videos.  Wanna see the lesbian scene Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis shared without sitting through "Black Swan."  Done.  How about the Showtime shows cut down to only sex scenes?  Done.  Forums, blogs, merchandise...  it's all here.  This site tends to have a more international following too.  Lots of foreign magazine shoots and  behind the scenes videos.  For instance, you can see Kate Moss' spread from Vogue Japan.  Useless for sure, but I dare you to look away.

Lastly, the one that my detective wife found, was xhamster.com.

Long story short, free porn videos uploaded by thousands across the world.  I don't know how it is legal.  I don't know how it is free.  And I guess in reality I really don't care.  From Ginger Lynn to Jenna Jameson it is all here. 

Ok, off to confession now.  And no dear, as promised, I am not on these sites now while sitting home(again) with a sick daughter.  Writing about them isn't wrong, is it?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The New Math??

As if missing a week of school wasn't bad enough, we root through the pile of homework due and find new math!!!  I know for certain she has lost the times tables, particularly the 7, 8 and 9's.  We are in the process of changing tutors to the Kumon School.  Tonight was going to be her first session but she had to miss due to illness.  A measurements quiz will have to be made up, and we have not gone over that content all week.  I cannot teach math!!!  I had to double check the times tables on calulator yesterday.  And if she presents a blank stare at a word problem chances are a blank stare is looking back at her.  God forbid I do know the content, then I just get angry that she just doesn't understand.

Comparative Grammar, Social Studies, Spelling, and even Religion...  please bring it!!!  Yesterday I helped with measurements and was not really thinking clearly.  It seems I was reading decimeters, as well as centimeters.  10 decimeters equal 1 meter I was told.  And she had to look at ladders, or wallets and decide which unit of measurement was appropriate.

Um, what is a decimeter again?  I had never seen the word, the unit of measurement, the idea.  I am getting hit with shit I haven't seen in 3rd grade???  Do I check out now?  The insult to injury wrapped up nicely as I tend to a fevered, weak, helpless child.

Sorry young lady, you will probably miss an entire week of schooling.  When you come back the week that was might have been important.  Your dad wishes you well and wants to put you in a position to succeed.  But I cannot look or help with any math work for the rest of your life.  I defer to your English major mother.  I am told she was in an AP Math class at an early age.  I agree these credentials could be fabricated and they are aged.  But it is the only hope we have.  And the tutors.  And staying healthy!!!

3 trips to the pediatrician, an x-ray, chicken soup, Tylenol every 4 hours, house arrest, countless dog movies on several formats (Netflix, Blockbuster, OnDemand, IPad) and we have at least one day left.  The helpless feeling a parent has watching his child suffer lingers more.   Sadly when I asked if she missed her friends she confidently said "No, not really."  Could she be getting used to this?  How then to motivate her to get back?  She knows spring break starts 4.11.  I begin to wonder if she is skilled in fever inducement.  Maybe she is going all Greg Brady/Ferris Bueller on me.

She better get a great jump shot.  She has to be able to go left.  Title 9 cannot go away.  Full scholarships from prestigious colleges will surely flood my mailbox.

Naturally in this alternate reality the WNBA is a viable, money making insititution that America, no the World cannot get enough of.

Music to get me through the night:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0xvEMYBrcc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McRgkE_vgjU


And 4.2.11 Eels tix go on sale.  Who is coming with to Brooklyn July 30th show?  Be there!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Biggest Loser...

Another full day of fever, make-up schoolwork, therapy (solo), picking up softball uniforms, grocery store, cooking, apologizing, work, coffee, candy, phone calls, strangers walking into my home, finding out why my mom bounced a check, and of course Tuesday is "Biggest Loser" night. No, not me, the fatso tv show that images my house every week. I am told my sitting here chirping about the contestants is reminiscent of "Mystery Science Theatre 3000."  I tend to surf on my phone, read TMZ, play some shark eating game, and occasionally look up and remark on what I am seeing/hearing. One of the trainers is yelling at throwing the challenge... Or someone is crying because they realize the main problem is on the inside... Or the producers throw an "unexpected" challenge or temptation. The names change every year but it is the same show. Survivor meets Hoarders meets "Oh, wasn't she a great big fat person.".  I actually researched and found out JD Roth produces the show...  and he produced and hosted "Endurance," the Discovery Kids reality show...  and has been in the public eye for years before.  And I hate him.  And I hate that he is successful.  And then I hate myself that he's successful.

But whatever, good for him.  And besides, what else am I gonna watch???  CSI Wichita?  NCIS?  LAW and Order :Financial Bureau? Dancing with No Stars? Gossip Girl?  Ok, I would soooo  watch Gossip Girl if only cause Blake Lively is smoking hot.  And the one episode I did see she was drugged and ended up in a seedy Brooklyn apartment.  That is a writing staff that is paying attention.

I suppose reading is an option.  But what?  I have a fantasy baseball draft Sunday.  I guess I could do some research as I am the only team in the league without a championship.  Nah, it's still 40 degrees as the high.  Baseball is not in the front of my mind.  Had an opportunity to see the Yankees opening day Thursday.  Pass times a thousand.  Cannot imagine sitting in cold watching those overpaid bums celebrate the season.  And don't get me started on their character-less, concrete cavern of unfun.

I read the paper and some online news sites so I feel current.  A novel?  Magazine?  Sure, they are options.  But what?  My mind is so full of nonsense and trivia that real, tangible knowledge and words that conjure meaning...  um, not in my realm!!!

And the good news is I can return to work tomorrow.  Chest xrays and follow up appointment are on the wife's watch.  There is no way we can send the little one to school, again.  Sadly, she has gotten no better and has grown beyond frustrated.  The dining room table fills up with assignments and lessons undone.  We reverted back to times table drilling earlier as to prevent her cerebellum from sneaking out of her ear drums.

I CAN"T TEACH!!!  She has to get back to school.  Can someone please recommend a mindless, quick read which will simultaneously stimulate my ever fading brain???

Or better yet Jackass 3.  Where did I put my 3D glasses???

Thanks Doctor.

I happen to like the lead pediatrician at my daughter's practice.  Her annual examinations are thorough, informative, and worth every minute.  She promotes wellness and addresses mental development as much as physical development.  I am not alone.  The waiting list for wellness visits is about 6 months. 

The rest of the practice has begun to piss me off.  After our second trip to their offices in 4 days yesterday we were once again sent  home sans drugs.  My daughter is, for the most part, very healthy.  She had strep throat a few times this winter.  Not unusual and it would have been only once had they prescribed the correct meds from day 1.  Other than that no other illnesses in what I will always remember as the worst winter ever.

I explained, calmly, that she woke up with a 102 degree fever (4th straight day) and her cough has worsened.  It does not keep her awake, but 4 days of fever seems crazy, right?  The Dr. re-assured me this is not that crazy.  Some fevers and viruses have been lingering this long he said.  Her lungs sounded good and there was no sign of infection.  If the fever persists please have her come in Wednesday and we can do an chest x-ray, elsewhere.  More wait and see. 

Today she is home, again, and not any better than yesterday.  I am not at work again and she will most likely get the x-ray tomorrow.  She had a fever this morning so school looks like a wash, maybe for the week.  Why the reluctance to get the x-ray yesterday???  What would it have hurt?  And why not treat with an antibiotic in the off chance it has turned into an infection???  If it is viral and she receives treatment for infection is it that harmful???

I had the same damn illness last week and got my z-pack and moved on.  I am sure I had a virus but this course of treatment prevented me from infecting others and got me back among the living.   I understand the reluctance to prescribe drugs to kids.  I get that we do not need them reliant on antibiotics.  But can you take your head out of the laptop and see this girl take 1, maybe 2 prescriptions a year??  She is a healthy, active girl.  This is not a junkie faking illness.  I would even suggest she prefers school to staying home.  There are only so many bad movies and youtube videos she can watch.  And the worst thing is me or my wife going over schoolwork/homework at the end of the day.  No one wins there!!!

The juggling continues.  I have already agreed to head in tomorrow and my wife will be on home patrol.  Xrays and a return trip to the doctor await, which was inevitable anyway.  More money and time given to medical professionals.   Brutal, sad and frustrating to say the least. 

At least the doctor never mentioned me not doing drugs...  cause I am not sure I can get through much more of this without them.

And I know it could be worse...  could be in a HR orientation listening to what I can and can't say to women and people of color.  Good grief.  Remind me to NEVER work for a company with an HR department.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Random whore vs. not so much...

AS I sit watching "Mildred Pierce" on HBO, and thinking more and more that Kate Winslet, who I once adored, is looking more like a man after each movie, another thing crosses my mind.  In fact, it's been on my mind for a few days now.  My wife had a dinner meeting with some girlfriend's on Thursday, and naturally, the popular website Ashley Madison came up (http://www.ashleymadison.com/.)  For those unfamiliar, this site offers...  oh right, everyone knows what the site does.

As the women at the table lambasted the site as immoral and tasteless, my wife took the opposite opinion.  Is she the exeption?  Would more woman prefer their husband stray with a complete stranger rather than someone they know, even periphrerally?  And where does the male opinion fit in?  I have a couple of references to go by, and I know for certain I am not of fan of either.  I did not know or even have clue the affair existed the first time.  It was dormant for years and I had done such a nice job of denial that at this point I really could care less.  The seond one was a fine gent who I met a couple times.  I remember meeting him at a work party and him being so overprotective of MY wife.  Naturally she had to go get a bottle of vodka at a local liquor store the moment we arrived.  His chivalry in joining her for the walk was a nice touch I thought.  It was only when he started talking about Jack Johnson I put it all together.  "Now I know where all the homemade cd's came from!!"  I said to myself.  This is the guy who's banging my wife!!!  It was a Eureka moment, and only because I could tangibly see him (and later it was revealed) did the sting break the skin.  Really doesn't make it much worse though.  In the end it was a dude who was providing, in certain sensitive areas, more relief and joy than I was.  It would have made sense if it were someone I knew.  We typically frequent the same social circles. 

I guess in this case it made sense that it was work related.  She had been out to make money, make contacts.  Of course this was a natural progression.  After a while you kind of get resigned to it.  OK, it was kind of a stranger, but I did meet him.  He shook my hand and we had some conversations.  I remember seeing him on a job site shortly after the party and not totally losing my shit.  She got close to someone.  She escaped harsh realities and had something that in her mind was worth all the damage.  Tear off the Band-Aid, make some sense of it all, and move on.

If it were someone I knew and trusted would that have hurt more?  Or would it have made more sense?  Would I have reacted differently?  Would I have had other coping mechanisms to better my acceptance and prepare me for moving on?  Unknown.

I do know it is a compelling question.  During one of the many "talks" that have littered this house over the past few months I remember being asked if "I needed sex I could go a a whore or something."  She would "get" that. 

Now, of course I was thinking this was the biggest trick question around...  but it was still weird hearing it.  And, thank you no.  If I were a single man, never attached, I think I would have to pass on the whore.
Isn't that what bars are for?  So the Ashley Madison thing scares the hell out of me.  And it's not just cause I am a tightwad unwilling to spend my money, although that does come into play.

I think if you are that unhappy that you have joined a website in hopes of hooking up with another married person there are deeper issues than I want to deal with.  I don't care how good you look naked.

We all know this is a totally irrelevent argument in my world.  I am merely a reporter examining the social mores of the Contemporary Suburban Man.  As it turns out he is quite damaged.  On my block alone there about 10 men going through some sort of crisis.  Half of them do not even realize it, and that is the good half.  The other half are too far gone they sleepwalk through life waiting for it to all end. 

Me, I guess I am straddling the tightrope.  Never a net below and glasses as thick as Hillary Clinton's cankles.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

Since my film watching has taken a hit during the past few weeks,  I can only really discuss music these days.  I did watch "The Goonies" with my sick daughter yesterday, but that hardly counts.  But for the record that movie has not aged well.  I knew there was a reason I avoided it when I was a kid.  Spielberg got a pass on that one.  Funny, as she walked through the video store she seemed drawn to his work.  Her other choice was "Jaws."  She told her mother she missed the ride at Universal.  It was about time she knew where the ride was derived.  Strangely she laughed her way through that movie, not scared at all.

Since she is ill now I am toying with taking her to a movie tonight.  Is 8 too young for "Limitless?"  "Suckerpunch?"  Dreading the fact I will have to sit through "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."  Maybe I can load up on cough syrup prior to screening.

Music:
I have been told my anthem these days should be Fences' "Girls with Accents (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jXtGxUjY80&feature=related) ."  The band, a Seattle project headed up by Christopher Mansfield, is rather new to the music world.   This song caught my attention not so much for its fine craftsmanship or intricate stroytelling.  Rather, it was the profane and addictive chorus which speaks volumes to any Suburban Man unable to make even the easiest decision.  Sure it's bad to play a song with the F word littered throughout to your 8 year old daughter.   But I am not about to edit profanity when she laughs at Jaws eating people.  The damage is already done.  


New Zealand's The Naked and Famous might be trying to supplant Flight of The Conchords for best New Zealand import.  Their "Young Blood"(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdO85Qf4Poc) pays its debts to Men Without Hats with some nifty, modern beats.  As is the case with Fences, this band is in its infancy.   Their 80s keyboard sound has been all the rage these days...  see The Limousines, MGMT, Phoenix, etc...  This is a song that has some lasting power.  I am ok with one hit wonders for sure.  I root for more hits, but I will judge one at a time.   My judgment says go download it.


Maybe because I bring no money into my house, I find Fitz and the Tantrum's "Moneygrabber (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bb6cBKE3WzQ)" a fun little novelty song.  Here is yet another new LA act, influenced on soul and led by singer/organist Michael Fitzpatrick.  Fitz has a big voice and as much I tried to ignore or discount this song, it grabbed me.  It helps, or hurts after a while, that Sirius radio has format problems with it.  Is it Alternative?  Is it Adult Contemporary?  Pop?  Apple ran an ad with it so I guess that means it is  ubiquitous.  It's good clean fun that will be sure to irritate after a short while.  And I have heard others by the band that have not wowed me for sure.  Another one hit wonder?  Who cares?  That will still make the score 1 for them and 0 for me.  


I dropped this link without any words the other day...  so just a reminder please take a look, listen to Lykke Li's "Get Some http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TTPGAy5H_E ."  The young (born in 1986, ugh.) Swedish singer has had a few years of success.  This drum driven, sexually charged number is a real gem.  Enjoy.


All this music talk has me wanting to hear and/or buy more.  Concert season coming up w/ 4 shows on the schedule.  4.14 Wye Oak/Caveman @ Bowery, 4.29 Joy Formidable @ Webster Hall, 6.4 Jimmy Eat World @ Wellmont and 6.14 Decemberists in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.


Hope to see ya'll there.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Still Fighting It...

Trying hard to keep my head about me after a long, arduous day.  Was glad Winter let up a bit so school started on time today.  There was a field trip today and it would have been a shame to miss "A Sound of Music" high school edition.  Still a royal pain cleaning off (2) cars of ice and snow.  Opening day is a week away!!!

Today was a NJ runaround day.  Put off some meetings due to illness so I went back at it hard.  Englewood Cliffs to Harrison to Springfield.  Sometime around 1pm I made it back for some quick paperwork.  Off to Stop N Shop so I could pick up some items for the playdate I was hosting.  Usually our daughter stays at school in their after-care program.  Today I promised to bring her and a friend home for some fun time.  I haet using the term "playdate" because 1) I'm a man and 2) It's super queeer.  Maaged to score some juice boxes and white trash dinner kit.  I went all out...  homemade mac and cheese and boiled hot dogs.  I cut some fresh fruit too.  This is about as gourmet as I can bring.  They ate it and gave me insincere thanks.  But that is fine.

Was impressed that my daughter's friend turned down Cadbury Cream Egg dessert because she gave up chocolate for Lent.  Good thing I had peeps as back up.  After dinner I found my way to the cough syrup.  Yummy indeed, but a bit toxic.  I fell into the recliner and lost track of time for a bit.  I stumbled outside and remembered the little one went across the street with friends for a while.  I feared if I had not come to she would have been there overnight.

Now, I get her ready for sleep after some quality "Wipeout" family time and look forward to picking the mrs. up from her 8:51 train home.  She had a dinner event so we traded cryptic texts all day. 

Her:  "I wish I could believe you."

Me:  "You said you were bored in Mexico with me."

Her:  "I just hated me and scared I can't provide for my family"

Me: "I am now convinced you care."

Her: "I need to stop withdrawing like I do."

Typical husband and wife stuff.  A day in the life.  And I think at everything that has gone on over the past 15 years.  Truth is these texts could have come from any of the years.  And they might come during the next 15 too.  In any event, that will be just fine.  As long as we are talking.  It is not all going to be trivia and mindless grunts.

"How was your day?" 

"Great, yours?"

We know all that nonsense.  We work together.  We parent together.  We coach together.

If we fail to communicate past the minutia we are doomed.  It is what failed us on several occasions before and will kill us should it happen again.  It is the difference between realizing all that is good and worth figthing for and throwing your hands up and saying who gives a fuck?

And thanks Catholic School for the crazy day off tomorrow for professional day!!!  Sounds like another test of our strengths as we will attempt to bring the little one in for an internship.  She is fighting with us already.

Expected so far:  a trip to the Halloween Costume Store in the West Village, the Guggenheim, and some fancy lunch.

Did I mention I'm exhausted???  Off to my loyal friend: cough syrup take me away.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Arcade Fire and Spike Jonze

Now, I am the first to admit I am bit dated with this...  but can someone, anyone, explain Spike Jonze's interpretation of Arcade Fire's 'The Suburbs(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HklplrJxEOY)"???  I have seen the video at least a dozen times in the past week and I am more confused each time.

I get the disenchanted youth.  I understand the suburbs as police state/not as good as it seems.  Shit, I lived all that.  Nothing groundbreaking there.  But what of the fight scene???  That is where I get lost.  Obviously a trust was broken, but am I to guess as to what?  Am I trying to hard to find literal meaning?  Should I move on and just marvel at the beauty and art??

Typically, Mr. Jonze makes straightforward classics, like Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htobTBlCvUU)" and The Beastie Boys "Sabotage(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5rRZdiu1UE)."  With "The Suburbs" he has taken a rather simple theme and turned it upside down.  And I am left feeling dumb for not catching on.  And it isn't that I am a big dummy either.  I knew Kevin Spacey was Keyser Soze pretty early on.

Just need some closure on why the boy gets such a beatdown in this video.  Please help.  I will take any and all explanations.

Suburban Man Notices:


Winter:
We get it, you are not done yet.  But, as the calendar inches closer to April, maybe that's it for the snow???  Not wanting delayed openings in late March and am not loving the prospects of a snow day tomorrow.  I need to get back to work and cannot think of taking my daughter on sales calls, to Englewood Cliffs of all places!!!  If you need to announce your presence with authority I give you up until March 15th.  Anything after that and you just come off as needy, and frankly, a bit of a douche.  After the hurting you put on most Americans this year I would hope you could just end it and come again sometime in December.  First pitch is next week and I am supposed to have outdoor softball practices.   Highly unlikely with snow covering the infield.  Enough already.  Never has Spring been more needed.  Pretty please, with a cherry on top, go the fuck away would ya???

Granola Moms:
It is great that you have given up your career to stay home with your child.  Love the unshowered, J Crew rollneck wearing casual look you have mastered.  Great your 2 year old knows the word sarcastic and is perusing the New York Times with you.  There will come a time when your child is gone.  And that time might be sooner than you think.  Then what?  You will be left with a husband who cannot stand you and an identity only defined through a child looking to distance themself from you.  It is imperative you realize you have an identity.  That is a tough pill to swallow, I know.  I struggle with the same thing.    We will agree that parenting is an amazing challenge.  I understand that we are responsible for teaching right and wrong.  In many ways we lay the groundwork for what our children will believe, achieve and accomplish.  But, during no time, should these responsibilities alter how we feel and behave to ourselves.  So, granola mom, go out and get drunk once and a while.  Maybe see an r-rated movie with some of your girlfriends.  And no, not other granola moms you met at church play-group time.  I am talking about a friend from your old office.  Maybe the girl 10 years younger without children.  Live a little and accept you are a living, breathing organism.  That might also include a sexual act that does not lead to childbirth.

See how everybody wins.

;-)






Still alive

Truth be told I probably started feeling sick the train ride home on St Patrick's Day.  When your wife starts asking how many Guinness you had and you cannot answer confidently...  that is the sign you have had one too many.  The next day I was not as much hungover as I was tired.  Tired getting ready for the day.  Tired running errands.  Tired driving to Philly.  Went steadily downhill from there.  Drinking more the next day probably did not help matters. 

Pushed through a rainy Monday in NYC made matters worse.  I thought I would take some Nyquil Monday night and feel much better when Tuesday arrived.  I had forgotten what that medicine does to me, especially when I have not eaten.  About 20 minutes after I took it some mild hallucinations set in.  Rooms went spinning and my body temperature went up, not down.  Naturally, my wife arrived home in tears.

Soon we would engage in heavy talks my body and mind were ill prepared for.  As I would tell her earlier today, I am certain you were upset and I remember specifically being asked if there was a "Cabal" against her.  This all stems from my untrustworthiness and proximity to other woman.  Home sales, pfa's and any and all other options were on the table.  And as always, me living in my parents house, is never far from reality.  And further my head spins.  As I made my way to bed I tossed and turned in a cold sweat.  A few times I woke up thinking the alarm went off.  I showered around 5:30am thinking I was gonna head into the City.  At about 7am my body hit the wall.

I was unable to move.  I could not talk.  And the dry cough that started as a nuisance, ended up burning in my chest.   I ended up sleeping the day away in and out of fever.  Brutal.  Thankfully my wife made it back in time to get me to the Doctor.  A nice Z pack and crazy strong cough syrup has me back among the living.  Nothing worse than illness as an adult.  And without question I am a giant baby when I am sick.  Felt totally useless the past 2 days.  I barely left bed and have seen my daughter for a few minutes tops.  She had 4 tests the past few days and I was not a factor in the studying. 

Now I have to be concerned about job security even more.  If I am looking at the game summary my ability to maintain the home is a huge selling point.  If the mrs. sees she can do the studying and work and everything else...  you can figure out the rest.   I have been most vigilant with my softball coaching correspondence.  I have to display leadership in any and all capacities.  And I have caught up with work missed over the past few days.  Trying hard not to think 1 step forward, 2 steps back (unless it's Paula Abdul singing it.)

Clearly, after reading the above, my mind is not quite back to full stength.  Since I am an old baby I will attempt to get more rest.  Should I not write again you might want to send a cop to my house, just to make sure.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Catholics v Convicts

At some point I began questioning the benefits of Catholic education versus Public.  Having gone through the Catholic indoctrination myself, along with my wife, we were pretty confident this was the right call.  Our daughter tends to be a pain in the ass when it comes to clothes.  Uniforms make that easy.  They have tag days which allow them to dress however they want sometime (within reason.)  On a few occassions she opted to wear the uniform rather than participate.  On one of those occassions there was tears and yelling wondering why she couldn't wear torn sweats and a hoodie.  Pretty sure the school wasn't casting for a young Eminem that day.  And you are a girl!!!  My wife still gives me a hard time after I called her N Degeneres at a school concert.  She was the ONLY girl K thru 8 in pants.  And the dresses these young ladies wear are beyond feminine.  I love that we have a free spirit and true individual.  Uniforms: Pro.

The other selling point were the sacraments.  Baptism was doen through some checks and a few classes.  We were new to town and had to "join" the Parish.  You pay enough and sit through their teachings anyone can join.  Reconciliation, Communion and Confirmation are entirely different animals.  I knew if she were in Public schools we would never be dilligent enough to do CCD or any after school religious enlightenment.  If it is all under the 8 to 3 school umbrella, that would be acceptable.  To date, this has been the case.  There were some Sunday sitdowns for Communion last year, but nothing out of hand.  Again, sign the checks and all is good.  Sacraments: Pro.

Money was never a huge selling point.  We had been paying for full time daycare since she was 18 months.  That bill was at least $1,000 a month year round.  Figure, $4k for 9 months and juggle the summer with some camps and grandmama and the costs would be nominal at best.  Not to mention, the costs of clothes to keep up with those(read:all) more fortunate would drive the public costs higher.  That ties into uniforms but you get the drift.  Finances: Push

The perils of home blogging...  had good stuff in my head 2 hours ago when I started.  Then dinner, and then the studying, which started me on this rant to begin with.  I never remember my parents studying with me, ever.  Here my wife and I are spending a solid hour going over mystery vocabulary words, and eggs and embryos and finally, a big CON, Religion.

What is a vocation?  vow?  Tell me what Holy Orders are?  Here is where I may have some issues.  My daughter has not mastered the times tables, which by now should be automatic.  Maybe Religion class can be during the sacrament years only?  Is that pushing it?  When we are learning essential math facts maybe now isn't the best time to fill her brain with vows and vocations.  Hell I would like her to have gym and art more than Religion.  Not bloody likely at a Catholic School though, is it?  This is a rather large problem.

So in two nights we send our precious child to another math tutor.  We were told this is a cost effective and better way for her to learn.  Should it work maybe I will give it a plug.  And the debate wages on.  Is this the best education we can provide?  Should we consider the public option?

Yeah you're right.  New Jersey Catholic Schools have the better basketball programs.

Advantage: Catholics.

Monday Guilty Pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVp7C5vzMgw



Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sick Sunday

Wondering how a grown man can get fever?  And how, a day can go buy without anything gets accomplished?  Take a look over here.  I am the answer man.

Thought by headed to church at 9am that might help ward off the demons and illness.  Probably better to stay for communion than bolt out after the collection, right?  Illness grabbed hard after that, but I was undeterred.  I was on a mission to buy the little one a basketball hoop.  There was talk of a garage mount or pole cemented into our driveway.  Both options proved to be either too expensive or labor intensive. 

It should be known that I may be the least handy human in the suburbs.  So, not only am I unable to bring in solid paychecks.  I am also inept at basic home repair.  I ask you...  who could resist such a formula???

You guessed it.  I was out to purchase the finest portable hoop under $300 could buy.  Only several things wrong with this scenario.  First, my vehicle would not handle the system should I have success.  Enter my neighbor, and his 3 year old daughter.  He has a nice size truck, and like most married men, was itching to get the hell out of the house.  Second, we were off to the big box stores.  Rt 10 here we come.  East Hanover, Whippany. Livingston...  It's like the same road all throughout Jersey.  46 in Fairfield, Parsippany, Totowa, Pine Brook...  35/22/73...  Many ways the reason NJ gets its reputation.  What exit you from?   It has its merits.

And don't get me started on the stretch of the Turnpike from Elizabeth to Xanadu.  Ugh times a million.

Needless to say I went to Dick's, where they were unfriendly, unaware and unhelpful.  Nothing in stock.  Then, Sports Authority.  No hoops available either, but a little more friendly.  Then, finally, to Walmart.  Worst experience of the three, and still very much empty handed.   And since when can't these folks take phone orders?  I can go home and buy online from each of these companies.  Problem is I would be stuck with the $100 freight bill.   Why wouldn't/shouldn't I be able to give you my credit card over the phone so when one of these things comes into your warehouse I can come pick it up???

So I called it a day, sweating with fever and very much expecting the cold stare from a disappointed little girl.  Not the first time.  Doubt it will be the last. 

Any other ladies I can disappoint out there???   Send resumes please.

Quick guilty pleasure to start your work week:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TTPGAy5H_E

And the Big East sucks!!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday nights alright for?

I have may reasons to be embarrassed. Tonight, watching Pitt lose to Butler, I can add a new item to the list. My 8 year old daughter has filled out a better bracket than me. The Big East is officially overrated. Jamie Dixon cannot win the big game. Meanwhile, I am battling flu-like symptoms and drowning in a sea of sorrows. There is nothing worse than fever as an adult. Tried hard to get sleep last night, but to no avail. Good to be out of town, and Philadelphia is always a joy. But, with the NCAA wrestling Championships in town our hotel was overrun with cauliflower eared merrymakers. Add the fact we were near and elevator... Ugh. The question becomes... Does the Suburban Man need pharma to get through the night? For that matter, does he need it throughout the day? Where does caffeine fit in? I am up to 2, sometimes 3 bold Starbucks coffees a day. No milk. Sometimes a shot of espresso is added. That can't be good for me. Or my teeth. Now the serious questions. Beer a day bad? How about 2 or 3? Weed? Certainly not daily, right? And what of sleeping aids? I have some friends suggesting Xanax, or Ambien. Not sure I want to go down that road. But, as my sister noted how many gray hairs were falling to the floor as she cut them... I began rethinking my health habits. I have morphed into an aging, sad man. There has to be some remedy. Eating well and exercise married with serious narcotics. Maybe I started this all too soon. My head is spinning as it is. I know for certain I do not understand why critics love The Strokes. I know I want to hate Kings of Leon and Arcade Fire, but I can't. I know I feel a little dirty for watching Avril Lavigne videos. I know it's late animi tired but I'm scared to lay down. Never had a problem sleeping before and unsure what to do. Ride it out and stay awake all night? Bad tv and Internet could certainly occupy my mind until morning. Nope, I will make the attempt cold, like all the nights prior. But I'm open for suggestions. And I promise... No more fever induced posts.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

I could go on and on about March Madness, and how the first weekend remains the most fascinating thrilling during the calendar year.  I think I have made that clear the pat few days.  There are ways to enhance the thrill.  My first guilty pleasure stands out.

Guinness:
It tastes good.  You could do a whole bunch worse calories wise.  There are only 126 calories in a 12 ounce draught bottle.  So, feel free to drink 8 or 9 and enjoy a steak dinner.  Just make sure that is your only meal of the day.  If, for some reason, you want to dig into leftover Chinese food around 11pm... try brushing your teeth and going to bed.  Wouldn't hurt to get a workout in right after your 5:30am alarm goes off.  And remember, do what I say, not as I do.  And I had a cousin tell me yesterday I wasn't authentic because Guinness is made in Canada.  That's just stupid.  We know where the recipe comes from.  Can we give the Irish some credit please?  If my mom made her sauce overseas using the same ingredients would it taste different??  These are the hazards of social networking.  I post an innocuous Facebook message about getting ready to drink Guinness...  she posts the dumb Canada comment...  and I obsess about it.  Fact is, if you have the time to sit and watch hoops this weekend, enjoy a nice Guinness.  Judging by the warm weather we have today. Spring is coming.  Take one more sip of Winter before sending it on its way.

TV:
Chris Hitchens on "60 Minutes."  If you have 10 minutes please take a look at this segment which aired a few weeks ago http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkAMOrnyy30.  I do not profess to be a reader, not have I read any of Mr. Hitchens books.  However, his bravery and downright bullish attitude regarding his cancer struggles is a lesson in guts.  Not to mention he drink Johnny Walker Red like it's water, even during chemo treatments.  Throw in his anti-religious, anti-left, insight and you have one complex, interesting man.  I wish him well on his recovery and hope, once mature enough, I might read one of his books.  I know, doubtful.

Music:
Perhaps because the bad name defines everything, Middle Class Rut's "New Low" is a song you must download.  A little angry and a little sweet, it has the tinge of 90's acts Fuel and Local H.  Limited chord progression but a nice, catchy chorus sung with intensity by lead singer Zack Lopez.  Sean Stockham is the only other member of the California based band.  Take a look http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5GYOsKLp6o.


Another California band, Young the Giant. has put a number in my head I can't get enough of.  "My Body" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5GYOsKLp6o, shares some sensibilities with "New Low." Big vocals from Sameer Gadhia, sweet guitar riffs and a driving bassline bring this hit to life.  Thinking once you hear it once you will go back for more.


Finally, in celebration of St Pats Day and all things Irish, take a look at Two Door Cinema Club.  Another band that relies less on complex song structure, but rather quick, neat hooks and airy vocal arrangements.  Think Belle and Sebastian meets Phoenix.  As the warm weather approaches the Suburban Man would turn heads listening to this while cleaning up the front lawn.  Not sure if you would get flirtatious attention from men or women.  But, I am always a believer in "all press is good press."


A few options to introduce you:  "What you Know" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXwYJyrKK5A


"Something Good Can Work" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wxu02vp_Vm0&feature=related


Cities:
Was able to enjoy some bar living yesterday in New York.  Today, an impromptu overnight trip to Philadelphia.  Whether Old City, Rittenhouse Sq, South St...  Philadelphia remains a source of happiness.  And I hate every Philly sports team!!!  The City is down to Earth, blue collar, and quiet.  I know it gets a bad rap from the folks around here.  They think Philly and snowballs raining down on Santa enter their head.  Or the MOVE fires.  Or North Philly and its crime.  Maybe piers falling into the Delaware.  But New Yorkers tend to forget Mott Haven in the Bronx exists.  Or Crown Heights.  There are some dangerous and underperforming sections in EVERY city.  I will try to focus on the positive for a change.


Very unlike me.  See you later @ http://www.monkscafe.com/

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March Madness

Got a headache from several Guinness.  Got a daughter who cried herself to sleep.  Got a wife who could either kiss or kill me.  And, maybe most disturbing, got a Final Four team who is out on day 1.  Thanks Rick Pitino.  I guess you have more time to chase waitresses through restaurants now.

And again, shame on CBS for their coverage of the tournament thus far.  I was fortunate enough to watch the early games at PS450 (ps450.com.)  Was bummed to find out my first choice was closed for a private party.  I appreciate they have TBS/TNT/TRUTV showing every game.  But, rather than peek in to watch the end of Louisville/Morehead St, CBS stayed with the 1st half of Princeton/Kentucky.  That neglect for the masses is unacceptable.  This was by far the biggest story of the day.  I guess the assumption is everyone is on their couch and can watch what they want.  Untrue.  What everyone does want to see is the last minute of a close game.   CBS failed to bring it.  And, when Princeton went to halftime they failed to even show the highlight.  It was a full 45 minutes and several tv's later before I saw the 3 pointer that won the game.

And do I have to get started on their studio???  Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith are awful.  Whatever polish Ernie Johnson and Greg Anthony have is tarnished by their marble mouthed misinformation.  Thankfully I will not be as critical since my bracket is already blown up.  We all deserve a bit better, for sure.

The NFL is a mess.  Major League Baseball promises to be more of the same.  Boston this.  Yankees that.  Phillies staff is All World.  Hockey playoffs will be a welcome event for sure.  This weekend should be special though.  We have the chance to see Butler, and Princeton, and Gonzaga.  Schools where students attend class.  For 40 minutes they can go head to head with certain NBA players.  Storied programs and coaches versus upstart Mid-Majorsand unknowns.  Each game the biggest of their lives.  40 minutes of Glory.  And we send it back to Charles Barkley in the studio...  and I can't understand a word he is saying.  Let the games play.  Show me every ending.  And save the endless commentary to the know- it -alls at ESPN.  At least I can understand their horseshit.  Better to make fun of words rather than grunts.  I am talking to you Doug Gottleib.

All in all an exciting day of hoops today.  Look for more upsets this weekend.  And of my beloved Big East...  how many Final 4 teams are required for them to crow about how elite it is???  11 teams in and I am having my doubts.  I am talking to you St. John's.

Time to pretend to sleep.  Looking forward to studying for math test first thing in the morning.  Sounds like tears during drop-off.  And they could come from any and/or all of us...


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Top Chef

The biggest problem with one of Bravo's biggest hits isn't Padma Lahksmi's pretension. Or Tom Colicchio's ego. Or the ridiculous Apple commercial which boasts "if you don't have an iPhone, you don't have an iPhone." Those things bother me for sure. The ad might piss me off the most. Love every Apple component ever created. But the transition from neat little gadget to corporate giant scares me a bit. I keep my antiquated Droid mainly out of spite. Please let other companies keep pace, maybe innovate. Otherwise I fear a world not unlike "Blade Runner.". Maybe with a twist of "Wall-E.". It's ok to want to have something for function, novelty. But when it starts trending toward "if you are one of us, you WILL buy one," I get a bit scared. Disregard my typing this on an iPad. No, I can make it through an episode dealing with those obstacles. I do get hungry though. And I am not even a foodie. When you have been eating as poorly as I've been, freshly prepared food looks purty good. Too bad I have no desire to get up and eat. I guess I would rather bitch about it. Looking forward to March Madness tomorrow. Must admit I am a little concerned with St Patrick's Day falling on the same day. I was proactive and hired a babysitter from 4 to 8. So, should anyone else want to play hooky tomorrow come find me at The Mason Jar (Masonjarnyc.com). And the more I look at my brackets I am convinced the Big East will fail. Please Lord bring me someone other than Kansas and Duke!!! Off to deal with a feigning sick child and a hungry stomach. Enjoy the hoops. Have a Guinness, or several along with me. After writing that sentence I am more convinced St Pats day on a 65 degree day tomorrow is a bad idea. Thinking I'm in for things seen I will be unable to unsee.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Ides of March clearly upon us

How else can I explain the endless parade of peril that define my Tuesday.  First, I have a $1000 bill for my surgical procedure that I need to address.  Second, the Mrs is looking at 7 fillings for her teeth over the next month...  $1,300 at the very least.  I attempted a toy purge earlier in the day and feel I got no where.  I filled one garbage bag but the basement and garage were not touched.  I would love to throw together a yard sale but can't fathom haggling on a Spring Saturday.  Can I outsource the yard sale and take a percentage?  Dare I try Ebay (ebay.com?)  Could it be that hard?

I have a daughter who is pestering me for a hoop on our garage.  That requires paving the driveway to make it ideal.  Figure another 3 to 4k right?  And the winter's snow destroyed our fence.  We should probably tear it down and start anew.  Thoughts on prices there?  Whatever.  If it is $100 it is not in the budget.

Gotta start thinking about summer camps too.  We have 1 week down, but the rest of the summer is in limbo.  I know we have 2 weeks vacation scheduled, which is not paid for yet.  Will cross that bridge when I can.

At the present time I have a few dinners going.  Put together some homemade chili I have no desire to eat.  Got chicken and mac and cheese for the little one.  She is content and vegging out to ICarly.  Once she is done we can study for Science and Social Studies tests.  Oh wait, gotta do therapy at 6:30 too.  Shit, the day is getting away from me.   Thankfully I do not sleep so maybe I can watch some NCAA hoops around 10.  What's that?  Biggest Loser night?  Forgot.  Ok, I can go over my bracket one last time before submitting.

Ouch, someone sounds like a whiny bitch, huh?

But while I am at it I have some thoughts.  First, Charles Barkley had NO business sitting in on the NCAA selection show Sunday night.  He could not be understood.  And I do not mean his "expertise" regarding the college game.  I literally mean I did not understand a word he was saying.  And this is a guy I can barely take on NBA broadcasts.  Not that I watch him there either.  But is CBS that poorly staffed they have to outsource NBA analysts to critique the brackets.  I don't even want to get started on Kenny Smith.

And enough of the UAB/VCU vs Virginia Tech/Colorado debate.  Every year teams are going to get in that are beyond questionable.  Similarly, teams are left out unfairly.  You know what?  Who cares???  If Colorado wanted to play in the tournament they could win the Big 12 tourney.  Same with Va Tech.  Go out and win games.  When you leave the deciding to AD's who haven't competed in decades, these things happen.  Computers and opinions and kickbacks have as much to do with this process as wins and losses.  So, next year when March rolls around Seth Greenberg, go out and win the ACC.  Then you leave no doubt come selection Sunday.

As for the brackets, I am as clueless as I have ever been.  I let my 8 year old fill out a sheet and I am pretty confident she will do as well, if not better than me.  Like last year I am going with (3) 1 seeds.  Louisville is my representative from the Southwest, with Duke, Ohio St and Pitt rounding out the 4.  I have Pitt and Jamie Dixon's squad finally putting it together and winning it all over OSU.  Safe and predictable I know.  But after living a reckless life the past few months maybe this is a good thing.

I know this, the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament is some of the best drama on tv.  I look forward to getting it going.  Good luck with your picks.  Easy to join some free ones if you have 10 minutes.  Check out these links to get going...

http://mayhem.cbssports.com/splash/mayhem/spln/opc/free?ttag=BC11_sem__all_goog_bc_0005
http://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/en/entry?addata=2011_TCMEN_PAGE1


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Desert Island or Death List

Anyone else think end of days is upon us?  Earthquakes, tsunami's, nuclear meltdown, floods, locusts, Charlie Sheen???  What other signs do we need?  And if end times are near do we indeed begin the wild rumpus?

At a friend's St Patrick's Day party we somehow got around to talking about death, suicide and all things morbid.  Typical party talk.  I was surprised that many thought I was crazy for updating my death soundtrack on an almost daily basis.  I suppose we could have gone with the desert island disc thing.  But in reality, I barely travel, let alone to an island.  It is far more likely that I will have a terminal illness or what to take a long drive in a closed garage.  This is why I think of the death car shuffle far more than the desert island nonsense.  And it always brings up good, hard questions.  Let's say the carbon monoxide takes over my lungs in 10 songs.  Which 10 would the ones I last want to listen to??  Maybe I only want to hear 1 artist.  Maybe I am feeling nostalgic and want classic rock?  Old school rap?  It really does change day to day.  Sometime hour to hour.  Maybe there is a fight earlier in the day that triggers memories.  Perhaps N and I were rockin out to "Grenade," and it is fresh in my mind.  I like thinking of the last live show I saw, so maybe that needs to be in the mix.

I guess some think this is morbid and silly.  But with all the craziness that surrounds our world's what is the harm in thinking about it.  The process alone can bring fond memories and happiness.  I would pick a "National" song because I still think of that concert with a giant smile on my face.  I think Ben Folds "Still Fighting It" would appear because I used to rock N to sleep listening.   The exercise forces you to look back and reflect.  You will be surprised how rewarding it can be.

Do I want to take the drive in the garage?  Hell no.  It is optimistic to even think that would be an option.  Seems everyone these days is dying fast and without expecting it.  Nice bus trip to Mohegan Sun ends with 14 dead.  Unrest in countries all over the world is taking the lives of thousands.  Natural disasters have wreaked havoc for years now.  Hell, if I get 5 songs before checking out I will call that a success.

Not bloody likely...  but for now this would be the short list.  Subject to change:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmOuMudZt0I  Eels, "End Times"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxWQMyoYJBU  The National, "Mr November
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqPwR39VMh0  Ben Folds, "Still Fighting It"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN7HQrgakZU  Temper Trap "Sweet Disposition"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SR6iYWJxHqs  Bruno Mars "Grenade"




Saturday, March 12, 2011

St Patrick's Day Parade

It always amazes me just how many drum and pipe bands exist.  After another trip to the Morristown St Patrick's Day parade, I am still blown away.  I must have seen a half dozen before we left.  And I know for sure there are another few parades within 100 miles of here.  Men and women. Young adults and the geriatric.  Hell, I saw some young teenagers twirling fuzzy drumsticks and fingering bagpipes.  Where do they come from?  I get there are a shit ton of Irish folk.  But am I so far removed that I ignore their existence.  Not to mention the 2(!!!???) Irish School's for Dance that marched.  And they were both local.  There was even an Irish Dog Kennel "Erin Go Bark."

Pretty sure NJ's biggest supporter of teachers, Chris Christie walked.  I could not see him, which surprised me given his size.  Can I really trust Christie as my State's leader.  The man cannot take care of himself.  I understand he is probably more representative of the American public than, say me.  But can you mix a salad in once in a while?  Mean to tell me Drumthwacket transformed the gym into a study once McGreevy left office??  He just looks ill to me.  It was good he was walking a bit today.  And I saw he walked some flooded areas yesterday.   Maybe in the spring he can start training for a marathon.  Otherwise here is a man picking fights with cops and firefighters, teachers and union stronghands NOT taking care of his body.  Wouldn't the play be to go all Christian Bale in "Dark Knight?"  Late night workouts, minimalist meals and no sleep are mandatory.  When you go to war you best bring some physical game.  Think of who you are going after?  And their numbers and influences???




Fitting then that the loudest cheer was for the Guinness mascot.  Yes, bigger then the Vietnam War Vets, or police and firemen.  Don't get me wrong, I loves me some Guinness.  But even I understand many died for me to haves me some.  


There are certainly Irish among us.  And I guess for now, I won't be scared.  In fact, I plan on partying with some later.  Wish me well.




Suburban Man Notices:


Muhammad al-Gaddafi:  Don't think for a second you fooled me. Christchurch, New Zealand was pretty cool.  You flew under the radar on that.  An audacious earthquake that destroyed a nation.  Maybe it was just a warmup.  But I knew your hands were dirty then, and I know so now.  How do you do it though?  What is the technology you are using??  Whatever it is you do it well.  By bringing Japan, and consequently the World, to its knees with this horrific earthquake, most have forgotten about Libya.  Not me brother.  I see you killing civilians.  I see you booking Botox appointments.  I see you buying new baggy threads.  Shame on you and stop it.  


Big East Basketball:  Listen, I am a MIchigan fan.  I can't wait to watch The Fab 5 tomorrow on ESPN.  But the Big East clearly stands out as the best basketball conference in America.  Getting the chance to watch Kemba Walker was an absolute pleasure.  Also served as a good reminder to my daughter to never give up.  6 point leads with 40 seconds can go away.  Reminded me of last week's Louisville v West Virginia Game, which saw Louisville spit the bit down the stretch.  Mainly because the coaches are legends, the teams iconic, and the talent immeasurable.  I did not have a horse in the race in the Garden last night, but I felt the intensity.  In fact I hate UConn and Louisville.  Not gonna stop me from watching.  At this point in my life bring me some fire.  Give me a kid who wants nothing more than to beat you.  No contracts.  No shoe deals.  Perhaps still on 1st marriage, under 3 kids.  Just being tough and going after it.  Raw talent nurtured by skilled teachers.  Sorry if I don't get that from Duke/UNC.  Or Florida/Kentucky.  Or Kansas/Texas.  Those programs might produce this years champion.  And that will not alter my opinion one bit.


And a quick note about Madison Sq Garden.  It's a special place for sure.  But when you are in the 400 section luxury it ain't.  Damp, warm and a bit smelly describes much of it.  The arena too.  Obviously it is tough to reconfigure/redesign a place that is in use all year.  But I ain't dying to go back to the World's most famous arena.  Even if Lady Gaga tickets open up...  

Friday, March 11, 2011

guidetosomewhere.blogspot.com

go there please...  thanks.

hankb

Guilty Pleasures

The Road to Somewhere is filled with potholes and detours as we have all learned.  Today, after another sleepless night caused by a failing, screaming cat, I attempt to gain clarity.  First up, I have been following the old cat all over the house and waking her up.  Occassionally I scream in her ear before forcibly removing her from whatever bed she has chosen.  The highlight of last night was her knocking over some wire hangars.  At 1am the loud crash to our hard wood floors sounded like cars crashing into buildings, not unlike what is happening on the Japanese coast right now.  Add to that her shrill, bellowing sound of her death cries...  my God!!  That reminds me...  be right back.

Ok, I am back.  Took her from my bed (screaming and clawing) and put her outside.  It stopped raining so she can deter the squirrels from tearing up the yard.  She has claws, it will be fine.  But really?  All the shit going and I have to worry about an aged cat keeping me up???  Sound like a perfect time to get a puppy.

It will not stop me from guilty pleasures.  Taking free tix for tonight's Big East semi's is first and foremost.  The excitement coming from an 8 year old girl has been amazing.  The fact that she watched the end of Rutgers/St John's the other day, and was outraged the refs blew RU's chances, warms my heart.  I will hope for another 6 OT thriller from Syracuse/UConn tonight.  I would never expect her to hang for the late game.  And ND should run over Louisville anyway.   Aside from that, lots of new stuff this year the Cialis crowd should be into.

Music:

After nearly 15 years with Directv, I switched to Fios yesterday.  Mainly done to save some money, I discovered a revelation:  MTVU (http://www.mtvu.com/.)  When I first bought Directv(http://www.directv.com/,) in 1998 my revelation was MTV2.  Now, that channel is the wasteland of bad tv.  I see old Cribs episodes and pimping of one's ride.  If I am up at 3am I might see a video or two.  Typically it would be bad rap or bad emo.  Yesterday I found MTVU on the dial and as unable to change the station.  I was digging video's by Chiddy Bang (my daughter and her friend could nto look away), Matt and Kim, Sleigh Bells, and Arcade Fire, to name a few.  It should be well established that I am pretty dense.  I grew up on videos.  I remember a half hour show on Philadelphia's local channel called Video Rock.  11pm every night they gave me Thomas Dolby, or Rockwell, Bow Wow Wow, Eddy Grant.  Truly awful stuff.  It was spoon-fed, low brow craziness.  And if it were on tonight I would watch, smiling ear to ear.  Now, I can appreciate the music by itself.  I love a nice care ride with the radio playing.  Live concerts are most rewarding.  But, when I see a great video married to music.  I am into it.  I hated Black Keys' "Tighten Up" upon first dozen listens.  But when I saw the brilliant and funny video it changed my mind.  Same thing has happened in the past.  Eels "Last Stop: This Town" did that same thing to me.  It helps to see the band.  It gives me a greater idea of how they think.  OK GO made the great treadmill video a few years back.  It was campy and innovative.  Now, they keep trying to recapture that lightning and it comes off as desperate.  I have tuned their music out as a result.  I would never say the video transcends the music.  But it certainly can enhance.  I will turn off "Born this Way" from Lady Gaga on the radio.  Damn it if I did not watch the whole effin thing last week!!!  And the whole theme/concept of the video is a mess.  I know I am not the first to say it, but does Madonna get a co-writing credit for that song?  Maybe some royalties?

Needless to say thank you Verizon.  If I go back to Directv you will really have to do something poorly.  Music videos, 24-7, has won me over. 

A couple of songs have my attention these days.  The first, is The Raconteurs "Old Enough" Featuring Ricky Skaggs & Ashley Monroe.  Duh, winning.  Ashley Monroe has a voice reminiscent of Emmylou Harris and Nicolette Larson.  Skaggs and White riff nicely on mandolin/guitar respectively.  Vocals and tempo are incredible.  I wonder sometimes how I fell into these bluegrass traps, but I welcome it.  And Jack White is without question a major and influential talent.  Check it out here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4QbEcVVBHM.  Like the transition into "Wake up Little Susie" in particular.

The other, naturally, is Avril Levigne's "What the Hell?"  Maybe because it is so juvenile and airy?  Maybe because she is adorable, and maybe a little off?  Or maybe cause it's got a good beat and you can dance to it?  Whatever, I am into it.  Take a look should you dare: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQmEd_UeeIk.

Other bands waking me from a slumber include Fitz and the Tantrums, Two Door Cinema Club and Decemberists.  Looking forward to seeing The Decemberists again in Brooklyn later this Spring.  Remember being amazed how much of a shoman Colin Melloy was.  Sorry, check this out too...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5C2WVCruPM  Incredible!!  Why cant they play near here, and soon???  The National featuring Sufjan Stevens on Letterman.  Please but their album "High Voilet."

Television:

The Onion News on TV (http://www.ifc.com/.)  I always look forward to reading their paper on the Subway.  It is the perfect 6 train companion from Astor to 28th St.  With the addition of Brooke Alvarez and her fake news staff, The Onion has reached new heights.  Should you get IFC take a look.  They parody everything cable news holds high.  I really enjoyed the piece about Obama being kidnapped on inauguration day and replaced with an imposter.  Malia was quoted as being "Relieved they found my dad.  I was mad my dad was so weak and cowardly."

I am not crazy for Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's "Funny or Die Show" on HBO.  I do however like the one called "Juggalo News."  In fact anything Insane Clown Posse entertains me.

Bib Huggins, head coach Wes Virginia, is also must see tv.  His intensity and glare, not to mention his tracksuit, tell me it is March Madness.  He is exactly the coach I would send my son to play for.  He will smother you with critiscm, but be the first one helping you get rid of the evidence after you killed someone.  In these days we need that kind of loyalty, don't we?

Food:

Sugar.   You never know how much depression can affect your day to day.  Eating and sleeping have become less important.  I have lost weight, great.  Questioning my choices though.  It seems it has been a non-stop orgy of Whole Foods chocolate covered cherries, Nutter Butters, Cadbury Cream eggs and all sorts of sugary cereals.  Protein and vegetables have taken a back seat.  And I mean the back of "The Sweet Hereafter" bus.  They were already the misfits relegated to the back, now they are off a cliff drowning in frozen waters.  Hmm, gotta do a better job.  I know the remedy...  food at the Garden tonight.  Maybe some $10 Bud lights too.  Maybe sugar should not be on the guilty pleasures list.  Sounding more like necessary evils.

Wow, that was more than 10 minutes.  Guess I should see if the cat is still alive.  I am unsure which answer I prefer.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bookmark this!!!

New direction, new title...

http://guidetosomewhere.blogspot.com

More to follow.

H

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I don't want To Just Go With It...

Ever since I became a father I realized the importance of time killers.  Maybe it was because when T gave birth we were living in a tiny apartment, still way above what we could afford.  When the little ones start to walk, and most of all talk, they require constant attention.  The only child deserves ALL of your attention.  In fact they demand it.  So, with some success there were the mind numbing Little Einstein videos.  A nice day might bring us to the park.  Maybe Liberty Science...  or storytime (or worse sing-along time) at the library.  I did some circle times at the Y.  Starbucks was always good for a half hour here and there.  When we bought our house I would take her for a donut and milk every day.  She would sit on their awful mobile booster seat and make a bloody mess of their floors.  I would be able to read the Star-Ledger.  Rather, I would skim the headlines and dissect the box scores.  Time killers, the lot of em.  The idle child will wreak havoc.  And I hustled.  Morris Museum: check.  MoMa: check.  Coney Island, Sandy Hook, Camden Aquarium, Union Sq Park (Shake Shack), Hoboken, high school sporting events, Christmas tree shows, Bronz Zoo: Check already.

Ideally, I try to pinch the pennies.  Life's great moments are free, right?  Not tonight.  Since T is in the City for an event and I promised to get her early from school...  long night ahead.  Time killer please.  I had thought of an impromptu trip to the RAC to watch the Prep B Boys Hoops final.  St Anthony's v St Pat's.  1 v 2 in the nation.  Glory Days for sure.  Had to rethink though.  Am I making my adorable little girl a boyish thug.  We are going to the Garden Friday night.  Ok, aborted selfishness and decided we could do a movie.  Naturally, she will pick Rango or another animated feature.  No interest.  Off to the Adam Sandler vehicle Just Go With It.  These are the time killers that hurt.  The expenditure is bad enough.  I loved the bargain we got at the concession stand.  "Medium popcorn and a bottled water please."

"You know you could get the Combo and it would be like $2 less."  Pierced attendant says.

"Um, Ok." I muttered.

"That will be $10.75."

"Oh, that's all it will be???"  I gasped.  All at once I am acting like my father.  Missing only the "In my day" speech.

And I root for Adam Sandler.  And his goofy face makes me laugh sometimes.  And the goofy voices.  And the just plain goofy movies.  And although my 8 year old daughter laughed a bit, I need a bit more.

Jennifer Aniston and Brooklyn Decker love traingle???  To have that self esteem must be magical.  Now, how about taking the cast and crew to Hawaii???  Can you make me hate my life anymore???   The premise is beyond absurd so I find it wasteful to acknowledge it.  And where hath the editors of Hollywood gone?  After the requisite 15 minutes of trailers this movie dragged for just a touch under 2 hours.  Thought the 715 showing would get my girl into bed right around 9.  Not quite.  We left the theatre around 920.  She was drifting off to sleep moments after I heard her seatbelt click.  She got home with that delirious giggle brewed from sugar and tired.

And I felt dirty.  Dirty for paying the money/  Dirty for paying for bad art.  Dirty for hoping.  I think it was Charlie Sheen who said "hope is for suckers."  Wise Mr Sheen where were you when I needed you??  Wasted ensemble pieces from Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews.   Worse than anything the children in the movie were awful.  I am not going to IMDB or Wikipedia to get their names.  I do not want to know who they are.  Tonight or ever.  Does anyone see a young actress play an annoying girl trying to be an actress, in a British accent!!!  Oh my god I am getting angry just thinking about her role.

Sorry, I can't do this.  Please do not see this movie.  Did we learn nothing from Punch Drunk Love?  Or Funny People?  Or Grown Ups???  It's over.  We will also have Canteen Boy.  And Remote Control.  Make a nice quilt out of $1000 bills and leave me alone.  Scram. Get outta here.

Now who is Prep B champs???  Ah, congrats Bob Hurley Sr. and the Friars.  Can't say that surprises me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Dog Skip... the little prick

My Dog Skip was a movie that had never been on my radar. Wishing very hard that it had remained that way. And curse you too iPad, and Netflix on iPad. Give an 8 year old some freedom and wireless streaming entertainment and next thing you know I am in the midst of tear fest. Here I thought it was a great idea to let the magical Wii broadcast the dramatic conclusion. Let's all have some family time. Soon, war hero Kevin Bacon and his son Malcolm from Malcolm in the Middle, are fighting civil rights, emotional scarring, moonshining bandits and the love of a dog in 50s Mississippi. And damn it if the Skip the dog doesn't take a spade to the head. Great, I get to see the tearful bedside vigil. Quickly I have to google if the little prick makes it. Thank god he does, but we fast forward to Malcolm going off to college. He is an only child. He waxes poetic about the joys of having his dog as his lifelong companion. The narration is so sugary sweet it makes my resistance to a canine in this house all he more selfish and ugly.

But I argue the opposite... Can we really invest all this love and attention to something that will die and break our hearts??? Skip ended up all alone on Malcolm's bed. Life moved on and left poor Skip to die. The good times were but memories clouded by the grim hand of death. Is that what I want to get into right now? I guess. But let the record show I have my reservations.

Odds and ends:
Can meterologists please give me the 5 day forecast for my area and end it? I need not know the barometric system building in East Texas. No concern at all about Midwest lake effect. Tell me what to expect at 8am, noon, 5pm, and nightime in greater NYC area. I understand the weather elsewhere causes weather here. That is assumed. Just give me the numbers monkey and move on. I would propose getting rid of the forecast altogether, but I don't want to eliminate jobs. But, in reality, newscasts could flash a 10 second graphic before commercial breaks detailing what to expect. Shit, they do it for the Dow and NASDAQ. Last I checked hose things were as important as what bad sweater or shirt I decide to wear.

And what is the deal with the Charmin adds with the bears?? First, I have to suspend disbelief and accept there are pink bears. And as far as I can tell these are not the pink bears you might find on Christopher St. Clearly they are in the wild. They have a nice pad in an idyllic countryside. Naturally, after they sit their fat asses on what can only be the biggest toilet ever, toilet paper sticks to their nasty, pink fur. I think back to an old Seinfeld special... "Who are the add wizards that came up with that???". I just don't understand how that gets me to buy their product. I may have thrown up a bit in my mouth thinking about it. The bears I know shit in the woods with reckless abandon. And then they go to chat roulette for hours at a time. As for Seton Hall... Thugs and underachievers at the very best. I like Coach Willard and the direction the team is headed. But after a week that saw them beat St Johns and Marquette I needed to see a better effort today. Bright side though... my Hall friend gave up his tix for Friday's semifinals. Love when someone's loss is my gain. Oops, didn't mean to write that. On a therapy night too... Scandalous.

Must change blog name...

Any ideas???  Too many suburban dads on the web.  Kindly submit ideas should you have them.

And no I will not accept self absorbed asshole...  or variations there of...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Feeling like Ziggy

Monday's can be bad enough. Today was no exception. It began with the frantic rush to get out the door by 7:45am. Today we were responsible for taking our neighbor to school too. She arrived around 7:20. After they were settled and eating breakfast I made sure the trash and recycling were curbside. A quick dash to Starbucks to get the morning caffeine. Back in time to rally the troops and be on our way. School drop-off was uneventful. We race to the commuter lot to make the 8am. Hair still wet and underdressed I curse myself for not checking the weather. Elfin cold and windy out. PA rings out on the New Jersey Transit platform... Train is late 10 minutes naturally.

The work day is a big question mark. We have a job installing that has my fingerprints all over it. You guessed it. Big problems. First, our end user gave us the wrong number so my men are wandering around an NYC hospital aimlessly. Then, turns out I had the custom Corian countertop made incorrectly. The sink cut out was supposed to be in the center, not the left. Now I have to deal with contractors and end-users to make sure we can move on. We can, for a price. I eat shit for it and try to make the best out of an awful situation.

Quick walk to another job site is fruitless as the space is not ready to be measured. Back to the office, but wait, gotta stop off at furniture dealer to pick up sample. Diverted there a while with job updates, project questions, and other assorted conversations. No food yet as it nears 2pm.

The office is a blur. Must put out several emails detailing the issues at the hospital. Print them and file them away so I can be covered for future fuck ups. I do get around to some new business. 4 quotes pounded out in the span of 20 minutes. That makes me feel somewhat productive. Miss the 2:13 train though. Why the rush?? Dentist appointments at 4pm for myself and daughter. I get the last quote done and race out the door in an effort to get the 2:35. Gotta get train tickets too. Ouch, $99 for 9 tickets. And we will have to buy more before weeks end.

There is one major detriment to the early train: local stops. Great I can get out early, I guess. But over an hour later I am in my town. I race to pick up my daughter. I apologize for not getting her sooner. She complains she is hungry. She doesn't want to go to the dentist. I apologize again and explain no one EVER wants to go to the dentist. We arrive exactly at 4 and spend the next hour getting cleaned and overall good marks. No cavities, but $400 lighter.

Her patience deserves a happy meal. By now she is starving. 12 chicken nuggets later we are home. I leave her home for 10 minutes so I can pick up T from the train. I shovel some leftover macaroni and cheese as I leave. Finally some food. Back home there is some quick studying and then a half assed attempt to make dinner. Fail. Hot dogs and frozen vegetables does not a dinner make. Have no real food though so it will have to do.

But as the dust settles a vibe is felt. And I know that feeling. It is one sentence that puts it all in perspective: "I look at your face and I feel disgusted.". I get that. Just hurts hearing it.

I hate Mondays.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Softball Starts

Today marked our first official softball practice.  I drafted the team this year so I have a pretty good grasp of the personalities on the team.  For 3rd and 4th graders it is essential that you have coachable girls.  I could care less if we lose every game.  If the girls are interested and focused they will get better.   And, I hope, they will have fun along the way.  Last year was an eye opener when we moved our daughter up, playing a 2nd grader in the 3rd/4th grade league.  I took a passive role and watched as she became more and more disinterested due to a coach that put too much emphasis on wins and losses.  Should we really be teaching girls to not swing in order to get walks???  Of course not.  I will not fall into that trap this year.  These girls will learn where the play is.  They will learn to throw the ball properly.  They will learn wear catch the ball with the glove facing upward.  If time permits we can get into the proper ways to chastize an ump, spit correctly and chest bump.  I may allow for some bench cheers, but that is debatable.  Cheering is for cheerleaders.  If you are playing softball I really have no patience for the annoying cheers.  There is nothing worse than watching the college softball World Series and hearing 20 somethings cheer from the dugout.  Just thinking about it made me throw up in my mouth a bit.

The real test will be co-coaching with a wife who could is straddling the line between loving and hating me.  Let's say all is well and there is a close play at the plate.  Perhaps our girl is thrown out due to me sending her home from 3rd.  That might be grounds for divorce.  Maybe I leave a girl in too long on the mound and the next batter hits a game winning home run,  Divorce.  Maybe I forget the post game donuts.  You guessed it.  Divorce.

I suppose it could go the other way.  Every game is a picture of Rockwellian beauty.  Grandparents holding American flags in ragged lawn chairs.  Younger siblings having a catch with their dads as they follow the action.  The mrs and I hand and hand as we write the line-up card, teach the grand game, and bask in the sunshine.  Watching, ever so closely, as our prized pedigree pitches and hits our team to glory. 

More realistically it promises to be somewhere in between.  Daughter will more than likely rebel at times.  You hated having one parent coach you, right?  Try two!!!  And two parents on the precipice of utter disaster for that matter.   She is full of talent though.  So I am sure we push her harder than others.  That being said, she will have plenty of success.  There will certainly be times we scratch our heads.  The two times we play our coach from last year should be enlightening.  At the draft we laid the ground rules for the upcoming season.  We decided each game would have a gentlemen's agreement prior to first pitch.  He was one to have girls circle the bases until the pitcher got the ball back.  Now, this is 3rd and 4th grade softball.  If a ball goes awry in the infield it could take several throws and minutes to harness that ball in the pitchers circle.  This is instructional ball.  My opinion was work more on fundamentals than embarassing others.  Shit, if a girl was on 3rd base and the pitcher had the ball at the mound, 9 out of 10 times she could run home and score safely.  Rarer than exposed skin on a Muslim woman to complete a successful throw, catch and tag.  I am sure when I tell him there will be 1 base only on overthrows it will be met with resistance.  I will remain positive for now.  The kids seem great.  No one was hurt today.  Nobody cried.  And for a moment it felt like spring was near.

So, we hope to teach the right way and the wrong way.  All the while trying to live our own lives without damaging those in and around them.  Baby steps I keep telling myself.  Play ball!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cedar Rapids... a nice place to visit

Last week I raved and raved about Paul Giamatti.  In particular, I marveled about his performance in Barney's Version.  This week, Ed Helms is securely in the spotlight.  As Tim Lippe, an innocent, naive midwestern insurance salesman, Mr. Helms has once again delivered a nuanced effort.  Off to save his small company at the annual insurance convention, Lippe veers off track. 

Havig never been in an airplane, or in a hotel, or apparently in a rental car ("Sweet" he mutters when he says his temporary ride) Lippe soon finds out trouble is lurking, everywhere.  Lippe, along by John C Reilley as (the prototypical loud mouth drunkard) Anne Heche (vixen) and Isiah Whitlock (seasoned pro) find out how cuthroat the insurance biz can be.  Double crossing, lying, sexual depravity, and bribery pepper the conventions' Cedar Rapids hotel.  Every firm represented kissesChaper President Orin Helgesson (an always reliable Kurtwood Smith) ass in an attempt to capture the prestigious 2 Diamond Award.  Lippe's firm has won the past few.  Will he be able to bring it back home?  Will he be able to stay away from temptations?  Can he maintain his integrity? 

More a film on the overall theme of whoring oneself, Cedar Rapids is full of good, clean laughter.  Reilly is over the top and clearly having fun as Deansie.  We have all know the guy.  Bigger than life with the best timing for the most inappropriate joke.  Heche's Joan is a fiery career gal with devoted family back home.  This is her yearly escape.  A few days to kickck and forget about the soccer games, romance-less marriage and a life unfilled.  "Remember, what happens in Cedar Rapids..."  And Isisah Whitlock as Wilkes, brings just the right touch of humor and warmth.

Lippe has never seen anyone like this group.  Hell, he even cowers in fear when Whitlock opens the door to let him into their shared suitet.  He is on a call home when he declares "A large African Amercian is at my door."  Helms, who was much of the reason The Hangover had success, is perfect as Lippe.  At times soft and vulnerable, the next smoking crack and getting into fights.  Helms is rock steady playing either type.  And all along, there are quality laughs. 

Good to see everyman as tragic and/or comedic leads.  Certainly I can relate far more to Helms bumbling insurance rep than say, Matt Damon's Bourne character.  Granted, I am probably more attractive than both, but you get the point.  Life is a series of missteps and fuck-ups.  I have yet to be in a car chase or jump through a plate glass window.   And yes, this might be an indictment on Adjustment Bureau.  I like Emily Blunt and I am sure it's a fine and entertaining film.  But, do I have to buy into a closet opening a time portal?  And why does the bureau have to look like 50's ad men?  And they cast John Slattery as a cheap rip off???

I will wait for DVD.  Obviously, I like to torture myself with all that is wrong with world.  Why suspend disbelief for a while when you can be reminded how much life can hurt???  "Do you know what it's like to fall on the floor, cry your guts out till ya got no more, hey man now you're really living.*"

Special credit to Phil Johnston who wrote a smart, funny script.  And director Miquel Arteta keeps the film well paced and tight.

NEW FEATURE 

The Suburban Dad Notices:

You, with the ratty sweatpants and stomach hanging over them.  Have you just given up?  And could you try to do something with your hair?  When was the last time you went to a salon?  Nails done?  Gym?  C'mon now!!!  You can do better.  But wait, that's not what I am mad about.  No, cause I look like shit too, so who gives a fuck?  No, you are one of those aren't you???  I did not notice at first because I was looking at the hole in your sweats.  Plus I assumed you were talking to a friend in line cause you are so fucking loud.  Nope, I get it now.  You have the bluetooth in ear and we are now all soooo lucky to hear about your kids in college, and dogs illness, and gout.  Thanks.  I was so hoping I could learn the inner thinking of a deranged stranger this morning.  All before 8am.  Please do me a favor and talk this loud when you get to the register.  Excellent, you did it.  Now the barista has asked you 3 times what you want because she doesn't know f your talking to her or your imaginary friend on the phone.  Let's hope you order a, oh there it is...  8 pump, double whip venti, soy caramel latte.  Time sucking, inconsiderate oxygen taker!!! Indicative to NJ?  East coast?  Please tell me your kids are fictiouts.  Could they have been raised by you and still function effectively, and more important, politely?  Next time let's pretend that your time is not more valuable than the hard working baristas that have to deal with people like us (read:you.)  Politely stay off the phone for 5 minutes.  If, for some reason the call is essential, wait outside until it reaches its conculsion.  Then calmly proceed to line.  When prompted give the nice barista your order and attention.  Would not hurt to say "hello, please, thank you."  The $5.00 drink you get does not entitle you to be aloof, rude or pretentious.  Every 5 year old in town can buy that drink with their milk money.  And they know how to say please and thank you.  I am watching you.  And as soon as you get off the phone I will say something.  Just don't want to interrupt your call,  That's rude.


*Song lyrics: Eels