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.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday, future and present

Someday I will explain to my son that there was a time when the Friday after Thanksgiving was not commonly called "Black Friday." (This will come after explaining the day preceding Black Friday used to be called "Thanksgiving.")

The explanation won't be that people didn't go shopping on that day; it will be that the day simply was "the day after Thanksgiving." Certainly retailers were referring to it as "Black Friday" out of a co-opting of that term from original negative connotations to suggest the accounting association of getting "in the black" (profitable). However, that was essentially industry jargon; one didn't see it used in advertisements. (At least, it's certainly my recollection that ten or fifteen years ago commercials didn't refer to it with such terminology; that may be more a flaw of my memory than actuality.)

Given the way things have progressed I fear by this theoretical time in the future my son will be incredulous there was ever a time when commercials didn't expressly reference the day's events as "Black Friday" sales. As one can see now they do so with the full presumption the public knows what that means (which, it stands to reason, by now they do) and it seems highly unlikely that's going to change between these days when it is ubiquitous and when he is old enough to notice such things.

Here's hoping he won't ask why his father was spending some time putting this on the internet rather than being out shopping with the hordes.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Father's Day and the unexpected Kimye moment

After a certain celebrity was ostensibly charged with "breaking the internet" last week I'm reminded of this incident from several months ago...

Back on Father's Day we went to breakfast at our usual spot (because I am a person who prefers familiarity) and although our infant son was in the car seat (in those last weeks before he outgrew it) he wasn't sleeping through things (as he had been doing back then when we went out to eat). But that's not the noteworthy thing here.

Because he was awake we didn't cover the seat with a blanket and thus he was somewhat visible to other patrons. That's not a big deal in general. We'd looked at others' babies over the years so it was only fair that others could take him in.

After we got seated in our booth a woman (not someone we recognized) came over. The canopy of the seat was extended so she asked to see him and so we acquiesced and pulled the canopy back. She remarked on his cuteness and being a handsome boy, and we offered the polite gratitude to the compliments.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Good grief: Parts of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" that will defy explanation

One lingering Halloween thought:

Eventually our son will be old enough for us to show him It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (which, of course, will continue air just before Halloween until network TV goes away altogether), and then some years later, given he's my son, it's likely he will start to question certain details.

I'm fairly certain it won't be questioning Linus' belief in the eponymous gourd-based character; that is the obvious basis of the entire plot; he'll get that much.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Creeped out by Kidz Bop: Notes on Halloween playlists / Cruelty in children's music

Over the weekend we took our infant son to a pumpkin festival. The event was on the grounds outside a museum and was free to attend. Cute pictures in the pumpkin patch, etc. Here's a taste:
Here's all you get, internet.

But that's not our focus for this entry.

There was a stage where children's bands (that is, bands who play songs geared toward children) performed starting in the late morning, but before that and between acts the P.A. played a selection of recorded tracks. Being a "family" event they were of the "Kidz Bop" variety, where children sang cover versions of popular songs. I should interject here that my familiarity with those are still very limited; given our child is only an infant with no agency yet to demand we play particular songs yet I've mostly only heard bits of these types of songs on commercials.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Checking the mailbag: Hanes, their way

Sometimes it seems people have a bit too much time on their hands:

Back in July of 2010 I wrote a post where with my usual light-hearted tone I took to rhetorical task the "lay-flat collar" on Hanes t-shirts, noting grammatically it should be "lie-flat" but I conceded how that didn't play as well from a marketing standpoint. I don't recall that getting any more significant response than any other post.

Then a couple weeks ago I received an email from someone identifying himself as "Ryan" and as a "partner with Hanes." He complimented the content in a single sentence that gave no specifics about what was good—"Great piece of content, by the way!" (Yep, with an exclamation point and everything.).

Then he got to the reason he wrote. He asked if I could add a link to the official Hanes website (and included the hyperlink to Hanes.com) to help my readers access their site. He followed that with some sentences conceding he knew some editors might have issue with that, so it was offered as a request and not a demand.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Gen X parenting: Everything new is old again

Going down the clickhole again...

I saw a piece on the Washington Post site about being a Gen X parent and straddling that divide between the pre-internet/social media era and now in regards to raising children.

As a parent (albeit of an infant) who is technically of that generation, I had a few thoughts (which somehow I found a few moments to compose).

The author started by mentioning when she takes a carpool of adolescents to school each morning she points out a river by the road, trying to get the kids to look at nature, and how they all just look at their phones. She uses that to frame the larger topic of how her generation are pioneers in dealing with child rearing that is so drastically different than how they were raised, before any of this high tech world was ubiquitous.

While I see her point, the piece suffers from a bit of solipsism (although I get the feeling the writer is aware of that), carrying an implication that not having a foundation for dealing with Facebook, etc., is somehow dramatically more difficult than anything parents have faced with previous generations. It somewhat blithely ignores the reality that every generation of parents (at least over the past century) has had something come up that their kids had which they didn't back when they were children.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Claim to fame: Your source for that one 3D Picnic song's lyrics

After a decade of having the blahg the main thing it has had to show for existing is being referenced as an authority for the world's largest corn dog. There are other posts that get a reasonable number of hits as well, certainly, but the corn dog is the star.

However, I've found that something else distinctive I've done with it is when years ago I took the time to transcribe the lyrics to a song. With the many websites that focus on song lyrics you'd think there'd be no way I would need to go to such effort, but with the relatively obscure L.A. band from the late '80s/early '90s called 3D Picnic their catalog didn't appear to garner attention on such sites. But their quirky punk roots rock was right up my alley.

Back in January of 2011 I posted the lyrics to their song "Charles Thinks About It" which is rather blithely optimistic in its tone (unlike much of the music from that era) during a time when I would post snippets of lyrics in a "Lyrics du Jour" segment (which was no daily). With that song, however, I was inspired to include them in their entirety. It just seemed worth doing, even though it involved that old school method of listening to the verses over and over.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Our wacky language: It's enough to give up its meaning

As regular readers know, I was never a linguist but I do find the topic of language development to be of at least passing interest. Not of sufficient interest to do exhaustive research, of course, but enough to ruminate on something for the next few minutes.

I paid attention in life to an extent that allows me to know the difference between possessives (such as its) and contractions (it's). I'm not suggesting that is at all an impressive intellectual feat; I'm merely identifying it as a bit of knowledge that, experience tells me, distinguishes me from some other people (who appear to have difficulty consistently distinguishing which is which).

Lest you start to think this will be a scathing criticism of those who seem to fail to make the effort to learn such things, let's step back a moment and consider what our language requires of us all.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Father stays on Facebook; domestication of the dog continues unabated

Recently a friend on Facebook posted that he moved the app to the last screen of his iPhone, out of a desire to have it take up less of his time. Then he shared a link to an article posted on the ABC News site titled "Mom Deletes Facebook From Phone and These 5 Things Happened" (because unless a story is in list form no one will read it). I clicked over and read it (gleaning the gist of how the writer had an almost addiction-based relationship with social media), then left a comment on my friend's post "#6: Mom writes self-congratulatory article."

Then he perhaps jokingly responded he expected a Dougression about that. But instead, I give you this:

That comment was, of course, a glib reaction. Undoubtedly, there was probably some element of subconscious envy on my part fueling that, given the writer got her piece on a major news site and I just have my intermittent posts on the blahg here that get read by 12 people (because I'm not inclined to write in list format). However, it's also merely the sort of response that fit in with the amount of time I had in that moment to say something pithy (and perhaps hold a modicum of being worth read by the other friends of this friend who may see it).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

These new-fangled car seats: How did any previous generation survive childhood?

The thing about having an infant and a car seat in the back of the automobile in which he rides whenever we drive somewhere: When we are with more than one other person and need to go somewhere in a vehicle, we are going in separate cars; after my wife and son in the back and me driving we can fit one modestly sized human in the passenger seat. And even if the other people have a vehicle that can accommodate the number of people involved, we can't take their car because the car seat is not in their car.

For example, when visiting family back in June, when it came time to go out to breakfast someone initially thought we could all fit in one truck, with our son being held in our lap.


Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Unexpected Majesty of the Every Simpsons Ever Marathon

Since a week ago Thursday through this past Monday the cable channel FXX aired the complete run of The Simpsons (#EverySimpsonsEver the hashtag reminded us) in a marathon. Over those twelve days I have tuned in to re-watch episodes when I had the chance, and have found it to be perhaps the best background viewing material available.

We'll get to Sesame Street later.
For example, last Thursday night as I washed the dishes I saw parts of the 2003 Treehouse of Horror episode. I didn't need to give it my full attention but when I wasn't rinsing I was reminded of the scene where Homer has killed Death and takes over as the Grim Reaper and goes to claim Jasper's soul—and upon seeing Grim Homer, Jasper asks "Where's the regular guy? Where's Doug?" Obviously that joke holds special appeal for me personally, but it's the way something like that can stand on its own as a moment without me having to then pause my task at hand made it particularly good as what I'd want on the TV when I couldn't give it my full attention.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

O Captain, my Captain: the only rank in nicknames

Over the past months of being a parent I have noticed when I concoct an impromptu nickname for my infant son it often involves taking his mood or action and prefacing it with "captain" (and sometimes appending "pants" at the end); a slightly cranky boy is dubbed "Captain Fussypants," for example. It occurred to me that of all the military ranks with which I'm familiar—which are many—the go-to for these extemporaneous assignments is always "captain"; he's never "Sergeant Squirmy" even though that has some nice alliteration. Sure, "Captain Kickypants" flows well, but "Colonel Kickypants" or "Commodore Kickypants" would carry the same similarity of opening sounds—and could be even higher in rank.

I suppose I could conclude "captain" has its default status because that rank is both high enough to be respected ("Private Poopypants" seems clearly pejorative, for instance) but still holds room for advancement ("General Giggles" sounds like a jolly fellow sitting behind a desk, not one out there participating with the troops).

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our first Emmys as parents

The older and more mobile our infant gets the more we as parents have to do on the weekends and the less time we have for "premium" TV (and in the evenings during the week the little time we have for watching we aren't really looking for anything other than light fare).

So, much as we'd aspire to catch up with the second season of Orange Is the New Black or the FX Fargo series, we won't be getting to those anytime soon (and certainly not before tomorrow's Emmys). Heck, we only finished up the last two episodes of the recent season of Louie a few weeks ago, months after they aired.

If the final season of Breaking Bad had not concluded while we were only expecting it's possible we still might not have seen it. And the last half of Mad Men's final season next year we may not see until our son heads off to kindergarten.

We had a good run being TV viewers (I wrote about it enough over the years to suggest that), but as any parent can tell you, that coming to an end was inevitable.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I need more than 140 characters to tell you that 'F*Upd' is f*cked up

My relationship with Twitter went from general disdain before I really tried it to eventually finding some merit in it; if you follow the right people (those with clever or amusing or interesting albeit pithy thoughts) it can be better than Facebook in certain regards. (Well, these days saying something's better than Facebook isn't necessary giving it much of a compliment, but with any luck one gets the idea.) Ultimately, like anything else on the internet, some of it is good and a lot of it is crap, but one is under no obligation to trek through any more of the drek than one chooses.

I don't tweet very often (so it's not difficult to understand my low number of followers) but occasionally I am inspired to throw 140-characters (or less) worth of a thought out into the Twittersphere, with the general expectation no one will really see it, or at least that no one will reply. (Which is pretty much the same attitude I have about blahg posts; the difference is I spend far less time on the tweets, so those really are a more logical outlet for my online sharing. But I digress.)

And then there are moments where the void is preferable to getting some acknowledgement of someone else seeing a tweet. But in this case that wasn't quite for the obvious reason.


A few weeks ago I tweeted a quip regarding the traffic snarls in Los Angeles caused by the president's visit, suggesting if a 2016 candidate for the G.O.P. promised never to come here I might vote Republican.

Within minutes a… okay, the kneejerk descriptor would be "right-wing nutjob" but as will be seen that's not quite appropriate nor is it fair for me to cast such aspersions recklessly, so let's just go with… conservatively-minded individual replied positing an alternative theory: that I might vote thusly because "Obama F*Upd pretty much EVERYTHING he touches".

Good to see Twitter is still encouraging clever (albeit succinct) discourse, eh?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Earache my baby

When changing diapers or bathing our infant son I find myself absent-mindedly humming Cheech and Chong's "Earache My Eye" more times than I probably should admit. (That riff is too catchy.)

However, I take some comfort in the belief he's still months away from speaking, so I'm probably not negatively influencing him too badly.

Of course, if eventually his first full sentence is "World's coming to an end, I don't even care / as long as I can have my limo and my orange hair" then clearly I will have some explaining to do (first to my wife, then to the teachers and other parents at his daycare, and finally to the authorities).

At least I'll have plenty of time to prepare my story.

And my son won't care if people think he's funny ('cause he'll be a big rock star and making lots of money… Money!... MONEY!...).

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Love is a buffalo: The persistence of silliness

If there were any logic to how my brain retained experiences I'd be able to recall almost everything I studied during my years in college but instead it seems to operate thusly:

In the mid-'80s, during my last year of high school, I got an after-school job that would turn into a near-full-time job that paid for the aforementioned college's tuition. There were a number of us in our late teens and early twenties working there and at times a few of us would sit around a table in the back room preparing product to go out, chatting and cracking jokes. We always had a radio playing, typically on the local rock station.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Amusing an infant

The best part of being a parent at this phase of our son's development is discovering what silly gestures I make elicit a gleeful giggle from him.

Lately the gestures are:

With him lying down and me standing up, I take the palms of my hands and swirl them in circles of alternating directions while slowly bringing my hands down toward his chest; while doing that I make a woo-woo-woo-woo sound in time with the speed of my hands. When my hands get to his chest I dance my fingers down to his tummy.

He loves that.

Another thing I've done from time to time is the unnecessary zoom (a la Wayne's World). Again, with him lying down, I step back and then swoop in so my face ends up next to his face with an accompanying "whoa" sound.

He squeals with delight over that.

It's marvelous.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Judy is, in fact, not a punk

In commercials for FX's new summer comedy Married they featured the Ramones' "Judy Is a Punk." And I was reminded the lyrics state "Jackie is a punk" while "Judy is a runt."

At no point during the three verses that mention Judy is she identified as the eponymous punk.

And somehow for over three decades I merely enjoyed the song without specifically thinking about that disparity between the title and the lyrics even though I knew exactly what the title was and what the lyrics were (well, I knew those lyrics from the start; some of the rest took some time to decipher--Joey's vocal stylings about going to Berlin and joining the ice capades took a bit longer).

Joey, you were throwing us off with that title, weren't you? Why would you do that?

Oh, I don't know why (perhaps they'll die).

Oh yeah.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How messed up is Old 97's "Most Messed Up"?

[Note: This post was originally composed back in May and was intended to be published two months ago, a few weeks after the release of the mentioned album. But as the parent of an infant I must put the blahg on the back burner sometimes, so this won't be quite as topical as it might have been before, but I hope it's still worthwhile for fans of the band.]

The more I listened to Most Messed Up the more it grew on me. My initial response upon my first spin was it didn't quite have that same je-ne-sai-pas upon first hearing them 15 years ago; I suppose it struck me as trying to recapture the old magic, and while the songs generally rocked they didn't quite have the perhaps ineffable quality their songs had before. However, the more I thought about it, it wasn't so much that the songs are different (although they are) but that the band members are different people than they were and (more important) I am different than I was. It's not that I cannot hear new music and quite like it but music must merely fit into a rather busy life. Fifteen years ago I may have thought I was busy but I really had no idea what busy was… and fifteen years from now I'll say the same thing about how busy I am now.


Sunday, July 06, 2014

Soccer popularity and the World Cup... again

With the defeat of the U.S. team in the World Cup last week, we almost guarantee four years hence the discussion of why soccer is not as popular here in America as in the rest of the world will have a chance to be resurrected.

But we won't rehash that. Four years ago I offered some quasi-serious/semi-tongue-in-cheek thoughts on its lack of popularity, then chronicled getting sincerely caught up by matches, and then when it was over conceded I wasn't quite a convert but noted I'd be back.

Instead let's ponder: Is any American sport as fanatically popular as futbol is (per capita) in these other countries? Even were soccer to outshine the NFL here, it's not certain it would be as popular (when viewed as the percentage of the nation's population who essentially worship the sport).

In four years we'll still be a huge country with many distractions; that seems unlikely ever to change. So the discussion may never have cause to cease—although maybe that's really more due to the fact we (as a country) aren't really listening that closely, because we have other things to do; every fourth year those thusly inclined to talk about it never feel as though it was thoroughly considered the last time, and hence it's still ripe for discussion.

We do this to ourselves.

Proof I watched a World Cup match that didn't involve the U.S. team.

Let's acknowledge that soccer is popular in the U.S. by the fact we have a professional league that has fans and gets acknowledged by the sports media. Also, perhaps more important, there are many living here who follow the games played in other countries (some of which now get telecast on American TV).

Friday, May 23, 2014

Singing to my son in the bath again: the Duran Duran / Billy Joel (non) connection... and the Pixies commercial

While bathing my infant son I tend to occupy those moments by singing or humming tunes to him. Unlike what one might expect I don't go with lullabies or traditional children's songs but whatever happens to be stuck in my head (which I can still get away with because he has no grasp of what I'm singing).

Something I realized while doing so recently: The guitar riff in Duran Duran's "Planet Earth"...

...is very similar to the melody of the "whoa-o-a-o-ah" vocals in Billy Joe's "Uptown Girl."

I'm about 85 percent sure that's mere coincidence.

Monday, May 12, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Cologne

Back in my youth comic books drew some level of dismissal by the larger culture, but now of course "nerd culture" is mainstream. That acceptance seems like a step in the right direction, but those steps can go too far.

With the movie X-Men: Days of Future Past coming out soon the commercials are running heavily. However, yesterday I saw one that proved to be a cross-promotion… with Axe Body Spray—perhaps the epitome of douchebaggery. And while the distinctions were somewhat nebulous in those days of past (when only the nerds would know the X-Men story on which the movie is based) such products would never be explicitly marketed to such a demographic. I'm not saying there was no crossover between nerds and douchebags—of course there were was—but that was not considered a desirable group for advertisers.

It's enough to root for the Sentinels to wipe out everyone; neither humans nor mutants deserve to survive in a world where would happen.

We need to send someone back in time to stop this...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

No more heroes

The clear inclination to dig up dirt and air everyone's dirty laundry of the internet age (combined with the oversharing potential social media offers) will eventually render no one to be admirable in even the slightest way.

That may not be an altogether bad thing.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

How I responded (or didn't) to the finale of 'How I Met Your Mother'

Although over the years I've spent more time on this than can possibly be justified it was impossible I wouldn't spend at least a little bit today on the finale to How I Met Your Mother that aired last night. It was a popular topic on social media, and every TV critic out there chimed in (not that I've read them all yet… but I probably will later); I don't pretend to have a different take on it, but I figured I owed the show one last post.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Noah... right

When I see trailers for the upcoming Russell Crowe film telling the story of Noah, looking like a big-budget action flick, I am not interested.

 It's not that I have anything against the Biblical subject matter; it's that it doesn't appear to be based on the best source material out there: Bill Cosby's stand-up on his 1963 album Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow – Right!

In that Noah is a bit... incredulous... upon hearing from the Lord about being told to build the Ark. Somehow I don't get the impression that's how Crowe will play it.

Here's Bill performing it thanks to the wonder of YouTube:

You and me, Lord…


Let me know when they've made that movie. (Oh, like Hollywood wouldn't take that and screw it up.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The future for rebellion through music

On a Slate Culture Gabfest episode a while back they discussed how for the first time in 55 years of the Hot 100 no black artists topped that chart in 2014. Whether this was merely an aberration in pop culture or a larger trend signaling the end of hip hop's dominance was difficult to say.

Something that was suggested (although this post is not an attempt at defining music history): Hip hop became mainstream by appealing to a middle class white audience of teens who were looking for a type of music they could use to rebel against their parents who came of age in the rock era.

However, now that generation has come of age and now the next one must rebel by turning to something else (as quipped by one of the panelists: "When your parents listened to Public Enemy you rebel by listening to the Lumineers").

I've pondered in the past what our son, in about 15 years or so, To what could our son listen in order to try to rebel, or make us tell him to turn that crap off?

Monday, March 10, 2014

So Long and Thanks For All The Books: Missing Douglas Adams

I saw on my Simpsons' calendar tomorrow is Douglas Adams' birthday. It would have been his 62nd.

I don't recall exactly how I was introduced to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy back in my middle school days but I easily recall being hooked when I read it, enjoying the clever and funny lampooning of science fiction. I sought out the next books in the series. In fact, when So Long and Thanks for All the Fish (the fourth book in the series) came out and I got it for a Christmas gift, I spent all day on that New Year's Day in my bedroom reading it from cover to cover (something I never did before and still have never done since). I was that much of a fan.

(I didn't care as much for Adams' Dirk Gently books, but the essays he wrote about his travels were quite good.)

Anyway, when I was in college (sometime in the mid-'90s) he came to campus for an event (not a book signing but a speaking engagement, as I recall). I have the feeling it was even free to attend.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

When different vowels rhyme

Discussing the quirks and difficulties of learning English is a played-out trope. I know. Nonetheless, something that occurred to me recently (when my brain probably should have been better occupied) is someday I'll be explaining to my son how words can rhyme despite having different vowels. In fact, sets of rhyming words with four different vowels came to mind.

Herd, bird, word, turd.
Jerk, smirk, work, Turk.

The pattern in both is that any vowel followed by r and another consonant gets pronounced "er"; the r sound is too strong, it seems.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy People-(Mostly-Advertisers)-Call-It-Presidents/Presidents'/President's Day

Although as I wrote two years ago today is a federal holiday officially known as Washington's Birthday (and as others mention every February)*, it is more commonly known by the position he held. Efforts to include Abraham Lincoln (or even others who have occupied that office) have come to make the colloquial name reference "President" in some way.

However, because it's not an official name there is no standard for whether it should be called Presidents (no apostrophe) or Presidents' (apostrophe after the s) or President's (apostrophe before the s), and that results in a variety of ways it appears.

For this post I wanted to offer a bit of an update of this post from four years ago by showing shots from commercials that mention it, to see how advertisers appear to think of it.

Most automobile companies are having an "event" for the long weekend:
Honda - apostrophe after the s (of course, given how they're clearly featuring Honest Abe they really need to play up the plurality and possession)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Music (not) on the brain

Something dispiriting that having a newborn has revealed about me: Although I have many songs in my head with which to serenade my child (particularly when trying to soothe him, or during diaper changes) I discover when I start to actually sing them I don't know all the words without the song playing along. Sure, I can concoct alternative lyrics on the fly or fall back on wordlessly humming the melody, and my son has no grasp of any of this yet anyway, but when I started singing I at least fancied the notion I had the words more or less down.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

How I'm viewing How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother is ultimately the story of lead character and narrator Ted's (protracted) journey from meeting the woman he thinks is "the one" (Robin) through to the eponymous meeting of the mother of his children (to whom he is telling the winding tale in the year 2030). From its beginning in 2005 that's been the framework of the show. We know in the first season Robin is not the Mother (because narrator Ted tells us so in voice-over), so it's all a matter of him getting over Robin (which, as the series draws closer to its finale, in has… in theory—we'll get to that shortly).

When the series was new my wife and I were only dating, and HIMYM was a show we came very much to enjoy. It was probably more for the characters of Ted's friends Marshall and Lilly (and lothario friend Barney). By season 2 we were tuning in every Monday night. As the years have progressed we've gotten married and even had a son (just like Marshall and Lilly did on the show), and we've also kept watching (as I've written about before). We have a long-established relationship with the show.

That's what has made us stick with it (as I've also written about before) even though for several seasons it has not been anywhere near as good as it was in those early seasons that got us hooked.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Vexed by lack of vexing in the Super Bowl

In the impending "Big Game" I must admit I'm not sure for which team I'll be rooting.

AND WE ALL KNOW THAT'S NOT RIGHT. One should have an unhealthy allegiance to one side or the other over a contest that holds no actual significance but will be viewed by more people than anything else. What the heck is wrong with me?

On the surface it seems I'd fall back on my childhood allegiance to the Seahawks (who came into the league when I was eight, and whose uniforms I liked... which is really all an eight-year-old requires). However, when I watched part of the AFC Championship I found myself actually a tiny bit excited when it became clear Denver's victory was ensured. I think part of me is rooting for Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning to get a second ring, if for no other reason than it might cause the sports punditry to shut up about how his relatively poor post-season success detracts from his legacy.

On the other hand, if Seattle pulls out a victory (on the strength of their defense) it will give the Lombardi Trophy to a franchise that has never had it before, and a championship to a city that hasn't had that to celebrate in "the big four" sports since 1979. (Their WNBA and MLS teams have won their respective leagues multiple times in the past decade*, but unfortunately the state of sports in America still doesn't give those their due.) And the kid in me finally gets to cheer.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Enjoying the early days in the Parent club

Now that we are parents I think we are treated somewhat differently by people we know who have been parents for a while. We have joined the club, as it were, and are going through the same joys and challenges they had. No matter how good you were with their kids, until you have a child of your own you're still a bit of an outsider.

Of course, you're still a newbie yourself when you have a newborn, and while the more experienced parents can relate to what you're facing (the feedings, the diaper changes, the interrupted sleep, etc.) there's still that hint of finding your worried responses to what are ultimately common things babies go through (the crying, the odd noises, the fussy moments, etc.) to be quaint.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Figuring out parenting

In the weeks since my son was born I've gleaned that parenthood is enjoyable in part because it is challenging. Reading books with tips for dealing with common situations is all good and well, but with each child being unique there's still very much an element of figuring out what will and won't work for your specific baby.

For example, although he has taken to breastfeeding well, he has little interest in pacifiers. In the hospital, when they had to perform an ultrasound on him (because he hadn't urinated for 40 hours after birth) the nurse tried to give him a pacifier (with a little sugar water on it) and he wanted no part. So we cannot rely on the plastic pseudo-nipple.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Swaddle, side, sleestak...

A book we downloaded for after our baby would was born—The Happiest Baby on the Block—talks about the "secret" to stopping babies from crying in a process the author calls the five S's: swaddling, sideways, shooshing, swinging, and sucking.

Basically, that is wrapping the baby up in a blanket in a manner resembling a burrito (to replicate the confining nature of the womb), placing the baby on his side or stomach rather than on his back (which can trigger a fear of falling), making a loud "shh" noise to imitate the sounds he heard when in utero, rocking him back and forth, and giving him something to suck on.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The early answer to "Do you feel like a dad?"

Now that we have the baby some people have asked me if I feel like a father. I tend to respond that I've not been through this before so I'm not sure how it's supposed to feel. Being that it was only a few weeks ago I was still an expectant father, it's still pretty early in the life-long role of being a father; the full extent of how my life will change hasn't really kicked in yet. I mean, look at what I'm doing right this second: ruminating on a topic of my own choosing. That's the same thing I've done for years. Sure, the topic is driven by the circumstances of having a child, but I'm not approaching it from a completely different mindset than the way I approached topics over the years. In short, I don't feel utterly transformed.

Frankly, if I did I'd suspect it was more an affectation than a genuine metamorphosis; it would be convincing myself something was more than it was (at this point) because of a perception of what people expect.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

New year pondering: Spangled

After a few bowl games it struck me: I can honestly say I've never even thought of the word "spangled" (much less used it) outside of the context of our national anthem.

Were it not specifically mentioned in the lyrics ("...does that star-spangled banner...") I suspect the term would have dropped from our lexicon altogether by now.

Happy new year, whether you work "spangled" into your vocabulary or not.