Thursday, January 22, 2015

Born Day

As my toddler had me up at the wee hours one recent morning, and we were due to attend our first birthday party of his best buddy at daycare, the following occurred to me about the term "birthday."

On the anniversary of people's birth we call that their "birthday," but generally I don't hear people refer to it as the day they were "birthed"; it's the day they were born. Giving birth is more what their mother did (and probably for many hours prior to the actual emergence out into the world which is considered the moment of birth, as though all that traveling through the birth canal up to that point was unimportant).

So conceivably the expression instead should be "Happy Born Day," with "Happy Birthday" being what you would direct toward the person who actually did the birthing.

This is why I shouldn't think at such an hour.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Oh, those Eighties

A few weeks back I was up somewhere around 1 a.m., and flipped around channels in those wee hours. On VH1 Classic they had somewhat resurrected 120 Minutes—which is to say they programmed old alternative rock videos for two hours in the same midnight to 2 a.m. slot that was the spotlight for such videos back when it was an MTV show in its heyday.

As one who well over two decades ago used to videotape (yes, set the VCR) to watch that, I paused on the channel for a few minutes. Coming back from commercial the first one was the Psychedelic Furs' "Heaven." It was fascinating to be reminded of the production values that sometimes were applied back in the mid-80's, especially given the extremes to which the medium would eventually go.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Great, just great (fun with pronunciation)

A while back the site Grammarly's Facebook page had a post about the inconsistencies of English, and the following came to mind (probably for unrelated reasons; I'm just grasping at any connection to justify spending time on it). It regards how the same letter construction can have different pronunciations.

"Eat" rhymes with "beat" (and "beet") and "feat" (and "feet") and "meat" (and "meet") but not with "great" (but it does with "greet"). Or, put another way, "great" does not rhyme with most other words having its same last three letters (in fact, I'm not sure there is another English word ending in "eat" with which it rhymes); it rhymes with "ate" (the past tense of "eat") and "fate" and "mate" and "grate" (most words where the e moves from before the a to after the t).

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"Santa Claus is Coming to Town": A shining example of good timing

There are enough Christmas songs (and versions of them) to fill the month leading up to the day. We've heard them every year since our childhood; they've been drilled into our heads to the point where we can sing along with many of them without having to think about what the words are.

It is in that embedded-without-consideration light that "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" remains a holiday staple, because if one pauses to actually give even a rudimentary analysis of the lyrics that eight-decade-old chestnut seems rather inappropriate.

Let's face it: If someone wrote a new song today that featured the couplet "He sees you when you're sleeping / He knows when you're awake" and it was clearly directed at children there would be such an outrage that no radio station or store muzak would dare touch it. But because of the story of jolly ol' Saint Nick delivering toys to the world's children (and coming from an era when there wouldn't be such creepy overtones from such lines) it is considered a classic that is suitable for all.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Visiting Santa

We paid too much for this to give away
the whole picture for free on the internet.
A couple weeks ago we took our son to the mall to meet Santa—which is to say, we wanted to have a photo with the man in the red suit and beard for this, his first Christmas where he's not less than a week old. Luckily my wife found one could make a reservation and so we only had to wait around ten minutes.

When we handed him to the assistant (not an elf) to be taken up to Santa and the bench (operating as the sleigh in the pictures) he wasn't upset. When he was set in Santa's lap, he didn't cry (a la Randy's reaction in A Christmas Story); he also didn't smile. His expression was more one of mild confusion. The combined efforts of both of us and the photographer and assistant couldn't bring a smile, and so the "best" photo of the shots taken was not optimal cuteness but at least it didn't have tears streaming down his face.

Could have been far worse.

Of course, with the amount they charged perhaps his expression was incredulity that his parents could consider the venture to be a prudent use of funds. (It's quite a racket...)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The time I met Matt Groening

On this, the 25th anniversary of the debut of The Simpsons, I offer this true tale.
Last month my wife and I got to sit in on the table read for an upcoming episode of The Simpsons. I was sitting literally five feet away from Matt Groening (well, five feet away from the back of his head, but still). On the other side of the table from him was Dan Castellaneta and Yeardley Smith. As a fan of the show from its beginning this was beyond cool.

But first let's back up and talk about how it came about.

Our son ended up in a daycare infant class with another little boy and the two of them became buddies. Through that pairing we met the other boy's parents (with whom we get along well). As it turns out, the boy's father had years ago befriended someone who is now a producer on the show. And last week he contacted us about getting us seats in the room for the table read.

So, having kids is worthwhile after all.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Recently when I went to lunch (at a restaurant where I dine probably at least once every other week) I walked to the register and ordered my usual. When the cashier noted the amount it seemed a bit less than I expected but I didn't balk at that. I handed her money, got my change back, and then found a table to await my food.

While waiting I looked at my receipt and noticed: She had given me what was noted as the "senior discount" (10% off my pre-tax total).

The thing is: I'm only in my mid-40's.

Nonetheless, I thought: Hey, all right--that saved me 87 cents.

Getting old has finally paid off.