Monday, December 30, 2013

What matters.

The Bears lost the most important game of the season to the Packers. But a mere few days earlier my two-old son referred to his Christmas presents as "treasures," so who gives a shit about football. 

Not me.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Zenway

I caught myself speeding to work this morning, predawn, because it's Christmas Eve and the Beltway was nearly empty. But then I realized, "What's my hurry?" So I eased my hot rod down to a more civilized speed and drove to work with class, sippin' on coffee, letting other jerks whiz past me. I still got to work ten minutes earlier than usual.

There's a skeleton crew here at work. We've already stood around talking about the new Cohen Brothers movie and made fun of how our Jamaican coworker pronounces Camaro with the accent on the wrong syllable. What else is there to do? There's candy that needs eating. I guess I can spend about an hour doing that. I need to catch up on this year's Christmas Angry Birds advent calendar. There's another couple hours.

I guess my flannel shirt and disinterested scowl isn't a big enough signal to the big wigs that production will be very low today. Very low.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Comfort and Joy

I wonder if I can get away with wearing this Christmas tie any other time throughout the year. It ain't got no light-up Santa Clauses. It don't make no special Christmas sound effects. If we're labeling this tie a Christmas tie then it's a conservative Christmas tie. Would I be that guy known around the office as the jackass who wears Christmas ties in July? Or would my coworkers gather in the break room and quietly question whether or not I was color blind? I'm good for a joke, but Christmas ties in July just ain't funny, man. It's not funny.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Church of Reality Television

I have never watched a single moment of Duck Dynasty. From what I gather it's about a family of hairy hillbillies who live in the deep woods and hunt  unsuspecting campers. The inbred one plays a banjo. Ned Beatty was there.

When you go to the zoo eventually you're going to see the animals take a shit. Right in front of you and your children. It's awkward and gross and kind of funny.  Are we really surprised about what the bearded guy said? Really? I thought the whole point of walking all the way to the elephant enclosure was because we might be lucky enough to watch it take a giant piss. I mean, seriously, have you seen these animals piss? It's freakishly impressive!

Amen.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Guy

Next week is Christmas. It's easy to get caught up in the shallow, petty, trivial bullshit that our Christmases seem to be made of nowadays. As I get older I realize more and more that a lot of people just don't get it. Christmas should not be a hectic event we use to bulk up or maintain our social standings. Gifts should come from the heart. What ever happened to sincerity? Where is the love for the Christmas meal we share with the people we love?

And I'm sick of all the arguments regarding "the reason for the season." It doesn't matter why you celebrate Christmas. The holiday itself is a large conglomeration of many different religious, pagan, and solstice celebrations rife with various weird and peculiar symbols none of which any one religion can rightfully claim as their own. None of that matters. What does matter is love. Use this Christmas to take stock of the people you love. And be with them. Truly be with them. Because some day they (or you) won't be there.

I learned something poignant and beautiful on Sunday night from Family Guy of all places. A few weeks ago Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy, decided to kill off Brian (arguably the show's best character). They even replaced him with a new dog, Vinny, voiced by the wonderful Tony Sirico. Family Guy fans were outraged! But, alas, it was the end for the beloved Brian and people slowly got over it and moved on with their lives. But Sunday night Brian came back! It was glorious! Admittedly, I got a little emotional about it. Then later that night Seth MacFarlane tweeted this:

"And thus endeth our warm, fuzzy, holiday lesson: Never take those you love for granted, for they can be gone in a flash."

Amen. Let's eat.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shh

There's a rule at work about lunch. No one is allowed to eat at their desk. This rule was implemented as a way to keep people from avoiding one another. To increase socialization. To break down the walls between the factions and armies and teams that almost always form in the workplace. The problem, however, is that the break room is tiny. It makes me uncomfortable. No one here shares my interests and I can't stand the sound of the weird old guy when he eats.

I'm not sure how to define my preferences. I'm not anti-social, but other humans (especially co-workers) annoy the fuck out of me. I understand the philosophy and theory behind forcing people to eat together. It's cool. But why all the hate for introverts?

As a child, I liked playing alone. I liked not sharing my toys. I liked knowing exactly where Darth Vader was going to be when I got home. I created vast worlds with my imagination and explored them enthusiastically via Lego, or Star Wars action figure, or Matchbox car. I wasn't lonely. I had friends. Many friends. I played outside a lot with my friends. But when it came to peaceful, relaxing moments of my day I cherished being alone.

In high school and college, I loathed teachers and professors who forced students to work in groups. I'm a friendly person. I do smile and greet strangers in the hallways and on elevators. But my interactions with other humans is almost always best when it happens naturally.

Some of my favorite places have always been libraries. Because they have those private, walled desks usually in the back hidden away from the world. Nothing can bother me there. It's license to disappear without ridicule. (I should get one of those desks... for work... to eat lunch in!)

I'm an introverted person. I'm a nice person. And I want to be left alone most of the time. I don't understand why not being sociable is demonized so often. Why can't there be celebration for the quiet ones. For the observers. The guys like me who prefer to watch from the sidelines. The thinkers. The poets. Sure, we don't often get invited to the cool parties or catch the eyes of all the popular cheerleaders like the loud-mouthed ones. But we're deep, baby. So deep.





Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Award Season

I'm not sure if I'm a genius or...

This weekend I handed James a video game controller that was not plugged in with the hopes that he'd assume he was playing a video game along side his dad and be satisfied, content, and unbored. He's two. What does he care. However, now he follows me around saying, "Game, game, game." He even carries my controller around and hands it to me. It's terribly cute, but who's going to fold the laundry? Who's going to make dinner? Who's going to put out that fire in the corner of the room?

A dad's gotta do what a dad's gotta do! Game on, son!

Parenting!

And that's how I won the 2013 Father of the Year award.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Desolation Donuts

It's someone's birthday in the office today. There's donuts. I want one. But I hardly know the lady. I can't just take a donut without saying Happy birthday. It's days like these I wish I lived on my own private island where the only humans I have to interact with are my wife and child. And my beautiful wife will be wearing a coconut shell bikini probably, so "interacting" will be very easy.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Celestial Disturbances

James has entered the broken record phase. "Are you okay, Daddy?" "I'm okay, James." "Are you okay, Daddy?" "I'm okay, James." "Are you okay, Daddy?" "I'm okay, James."

"Are you okay, Daddy?" "No! I'm not okay! I'm annoyed and going crazy because there's a two-year-old who keeps asking me the same question over and over and over and over and over!"

The war of attrition is futile. James has no concept of time. Like a dog, or a comet. He'll just keep doing the same thing in perpetuity because he can't comprehend the passage of time. It's like the end of that Kubrick movie when the Sixth Sense kid finally finds the blue fairy at the bottom of the ocean, which is where the movie should have ended (Thanks a lot, Spielberg!) Instead we find out (spoiler alert!) that the idiot robot boy stood there for three thousand years talking to a statue of a blue fairy before the aliens excavated him and gave us our happy, Hollywood ending.

When it comes to my precious son, however, I will always hope for the Spielberg ending in this Kubrick world.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Reason

All these little unexplained cuts and scrapes on my hands must mean one thing: I was abducted by aliens in the middle of the night, but somehow escaped. I probably jumped from the space ship while it was close to the ground and trees and shrubbery broke my fall. From the middle of a mysterious forest at night I made my way to a road where someone must have picked me up and drove me home.

Or maybe I got all these little cuts from erecting the Christmas tree... Thanks a lot, Jesus.


Monday, December 2, 2013

My Favorite Time of Year

Another Thanksgiving has been digested. Yes, my mother tried to burn down our house, but in the end everything worked out. James had trouble pronouncing "grandpa," and it came out "Pee-Paw," which was hilarious and, if I can help it, a permanent moniker.

The official Christmas tree erection took place. We decided against a real tree and purchased an artificial one that is tall and skinny. It is glorious. But I'm a sucker for everything Christmas. I'm easy. Still, it looks great. And James has taken it upon himself to turn it on first thing every morning when he wakes up.

I enjoy the hustle & bustle of holiday shopping, the canned Christmas music wavering down from department store P.A. systems, the pain from the plastic Toys R Us bag handles because they're too full of toys, the flavored lattes that I wouldn't drink any other time of year, and the anticipation of making Christmas morning last all day.

Now that we have a 2 1/2 year boy in the house, Christmas just got better. James is still a little too young to fully understand what's going on, but he's smart enough to know that Thomas the Train kicks ass and ripping open a present must be done with a surgeon's precision. As usual, we spoiled him this year with lots of wonderful toys. I can't help it.

However, given all the hype and hoopla over toys and gifts, Christmas ain't nothing without spending it with the people you love. This stretch of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is my favorite time of year. I spend most of the time being excited for Christmas morning, but also taking stock of how lucky I am.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Bird is the Word; Or, Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!



They're coming.

This year we're hosting all our parents for Thanksgiving. Yes, they have to stay in a hotel, which by the way is pretty swanky, but our tiny, lovely condo will be filled with the delicious smells of a roasting turkey and fresh baked pumpkin pie. This holiday season all are welcome and none will be turned away. May God have mercy on our souls.

Here is a small list of sounds and discussions to expect at House Carlock on Thanksgiving this year:

1. Football on the television.
2. Golf on the television if my dad is lucky.
3. Near-delirious exultation regarding the wonderful free breakfast offered by the good people at Courtyard Marriott.
4. James running the terrifying gauntlet of three grandparents trying to talk to him and touch him.
5. The myriad of problems and solutions to the country's current political situation.
6. "When's the last time you changed the oil in car?"
7. "Do you know how bad that pop is for you?"
8. The amazing free breakfast at the hotel again.
9. Dueling snores in the Living Room: Grandpa Joe Versus Grandpa Jim.
10. The weather here and how it will never be as important as the weather back in Illinois.
11. The intricate, personal details and nuances of people my mother works with who I will never meet.
12. Seriously, the breakfast at the hotel! Holy shit!
13. "Speaking of food, when are we eating? I have to take my back pills!"
14. "Where's the coffee?" Asked by Grandpa Joe at 9:30 p.m.
15. My dad mumbling and gesturing toward the TV indicating he wants the channel changed.
16. My mother washing the dishes in the sink like the cavemen used to do because she has never used and refuses to trust a dishwasher.
17. A fart. (Grandpa Joe)
18. A burp. (Grandpa Joe)
19. An outrageously loud, misty sneeze. (Grandpa Joe)
20. Laughing. Because our family loves to laugh and have fun.

Obviously, picking on grandparents is easy. Jokes aside, I'm very excited to be hosting Thanksgiving in my home this year. It has been a difficult year adjusting to the absence of Grandma Eileen. Her presence will definitely be felt as we take time to reflect on the important things in life.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dark and Scary

Nothing cleans out the clutter like a blog with sparse entries, right, folks? (Echo!) It's like a spooky basement in here. No recent posts. No pictures. No nothing. The fuck?

In other news, tomorrow the Playstation 4 comes out. I'm getting one. I always wanted to be one of those guys that gets the new gaming console at launch and I'm finally going to do it. However, I still have to wait for it to be delivered. Stupid me forgot to select the appropriate shipping method to receive the console on launch day.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Nuggets

James rides a balance bike. It's a bike with no wheels. It's supposed to help him develop the balance needed to ride a regular bike. Hence the name. He loves it. The mere mention of going outside to ride his bike sends him into a gleeful run to gather his shoes. Watching him ride his bike has helped me better understand joy.

I do my best to retain that sense of joy as an adult, but it's not so easy. It's ironic how we work so hard to create this life, but the life we create requires so much work to maintain. I'm trying to find the joy in the creases. There's cheer in the gaps. I strive to find it like a miner panning for gold in a brisk, flowing creek.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Extra Life. This time it's personal. (Just like it was in Jaws 3.)

If there's anything in this world to make me question life's purpose it's sick kids. Nothing is more tragic and unfair than a child riddled with an illness. Fortunately, there are many good people who work diligently to combat the illnesses that plague innocent children. But they still need help. Namely in the form of money.

My sister had cancer as a young child. My good friend Ross (AKA Rooster) had cancer as a young child. And a close friend/coworker of Lynette's is currently dealing with an illness to their 3-year-old child. I can't think of a better way to say fuck you to the universe than supporting this noble cause. As a parent of a 2-year-old I cannot fathom the anguish and agony of having to stand by and watch your child suffer.

I participated in this charitable cause last year and it was a blast. The concept is simple: Play video games and raise money. Last year our team raised nearly a thousand dollars! Never underestimate the power of large groups of organized nerds.

My donation page is here. Put some cash in it, please. Please!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sports.

I've been sick this week. But thank God hockey's back!

Go Capitals.

And Go Bears.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Fireman

I need to move through life slower. Not that I'm an overly hyper individual, or a physically fast person. But my brain seems to over-think and over-anticipate things. I tend to perform daily tasks with my eye on completion as fast as possible. I'm always looking toward the end of a task. The other day I was making coffee in my daily fit of get-everything-done-now hour, which comes when I get James home from daycare and I have to walk the dog, feed the dog, feed James, make coffee and lunch for the next day, and bale the hay. Technically, I have all evening to do these things, but I have it in my head that the sooner I get these things done the more time I have to... what? Do what? What am I rushing for? Where the fuck am I going? As my dad would say, "Where's the fire?"  

I have an anxiety problem. It might be a disorder. Self-diagnosis is so in right now. I also might have Intermittent Explosive Disorder. I reckon our grandparents just called it "a bad temper." I think about it all the time. Even when I'm calm and content. I get upset over really stupid things.

Ironically, I might also be over-thinking this. Funny. Somehow my wife still loves me and I still have a handful of friends who still talk to me. I'm lucky. But, like I said, it hit me when I was making coffee the other day: Slow down. I can slow down. I can drive slower. I can walk slower. I can talk slower. No one cares when I get to where ever I'm going. Either the world waits for me, or it doesn't. Mostly it doesn't, but it has nothing to do with what is going on in my pretty little head.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Salad and The Fashion

I feel different today. Is it happiness? Is it because the Chicago Bears are 3-0? Is it because my loving wife made me a salad for my lunch two days in a row?

Yeah, it's probably the salad. Also, my tie looks great today paired with one of my favorite shirts which is mint colored. Not every man can pull off mint. I can. Swimmingly.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

STFU

I don't own a gun. I probably never will. But that is not an act of protest against gun ownership. I don't own a gun for the same reasons I don't own a python or a table saw or a motorcycle... That shit's dangerous. At least it would be in my house, because I'm not qualified to own those things. What I DO own are violent video games and multiple video game systems to play them on.

Some people in this country would like to think that the mere existence of guns or our right to own them is the cause of violent crimes and mass murders. Other people like to think playing violent video games causes a person to want to go outside and shoot people. Both groups are wrong.

Mental illness is borne from within the brain, sometimes lying dormant until it rears its ugly head. If we knew what triggers mental illness, well, that would be quite the medical breakthrough. Any number of things could trigger any number of behaviors in humans. I can't stand men in sandals. Do I want to kill them? Maybe. Should sandals (for men) be outlawed if I go on a mass male sandal wearing killing spree? Of course not.

That's a silly example, I know. But I'm bothered by our lack of inward focus when it comes to dealing with the fall out of a poor/misguided/delusional decision. And isn't it funny how we conveniently dismiss all the horrendous things that have happened due to the apparent effects of alcohol? The large number of deaths attributed to drunk driving alone should make us question whether or not alcohol consumption is a safe thing.

"Hey, no way! I'm a responsible person! I know how to handle consuming alcohol. I know how to be a safe alcohol drinker." Same goes for gun owners and video gamers. In other words, stop trying to find something to blame and focus on the real problem: Mental illness and our lack of wanting to deal with it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Feral Children

Humans,

Everything is going to be okay. In my part of the world things appear (for lack of a better phrase) fucked up. We will never truly know why a man chooses to arm himself and shoot innocent, defenseless people in public. There will never be a definitive reason for it. So, stop yourselves now from trying to make sense of it all. Humans are strange animals. We wear pants and eat hamburgers made out of vegetables and put other peoples genitals in our mouths as a sign of affection. We watch television. Lots and lots of television. We lose or minds at the slightest hint of a visible naked breast, but could care less if our children are playing violent video games. We're strange beings. I don't understand most of you. But as long as I'm aware of it and feel comfortable not understanding it I'll be okay.

Life is a mystery. Be weary of the man who claims to know all the answers.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Get off my lawn, Part II

I vaguely saw some commotion among famous authors on Twitter this morning regarding something Jonathan Franzen wrote in The Guardian called "What's Wrong With the Modern World."

Salmon Rushdie said (via Twitter): Dear : and I are fine with Twitter. Enjoy your ivory tower.

Obviously, with those kinds of shots fired from such luminous literary giants I had to investigate, and form an opinion that no one gives a shit about.

First, I found the offending article and attempted to read it. I waded through a few paragraphs of some of the most pompous, snooty bullshit I've ever read before realizing that this is actually just some guy (with the luxury of being a famous author) talking about how technology is bad and that people are stupid for falling for Capitalism's way of attaching the words "hip" and "cool" to products as a way to sell the product. The "product" in question is technology.

Look, we're all entitled to our opinions. But when I become a famous author please remind me not to write an article about how "back in the good old days things were so much more genuine and better," etc. etc. and use references to philosophers as a way to justify my stubborn lack of adaptability. Way to alienate an entire generation, dumbass!

Second, if I hear one more person decry the evils of technology in our modern world I'm gonna run home and bite my pillow! Seriously, Twitter exists. People use it. Get over it. If you don't understand how to use it, try not to mock those that do. What will you complain about next? That Rock and Roll is the work of the Devil? Zzzzzz.

Third, I hate the fact that this guy's opinion is being discussed. Because if he was a nobody like me writing on a blog very few people know about, well, I'd have nothing to write about this morning, would I? I wonder if Mr. Franzen would have even written such a subjective article if he wasn't sure a large number of people would read it. I don't understand why anyone would want to be a Green Bay Packers fan, but I'm not going to waste my time writing a lengthy, elitist article about it. Unless I knew a bunch of Green Bay Packer fans were going to read it... hmmm... I'm on to you, Franzen!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Unconditional Love Versus Roast Chicken

When I roast a chicken that's when my wife really knows how much I love her. That's when she suddenly realizes that the large man standing before her is a monstrous hero always ready and willing to amaze and dazzle her. She likes to be dazzled.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A trail.

I keep thinking about geography. Location versus state of mind. Because I keep seeing myself living in a wooded landscape in a cabin set far from a road rarely traveled. Except I'm also working in a city making enough money to provide for my wife and child. I keep thinking I can't have both. The cabin in the woods and the well-paying job.

Can I have my cabin in the woods in my mind? Can this tiny two-bedroom cando provide the solace and peace I desire? When I left home for Yellowstone National Park in 1994 to work in a hot, steamy kitchen scrubbing pots and pans, I anticipated "finding myself." And I did just that. Except, I also learned that "the Zen you find at the top of the mountain is the Zen you take up there with you."

We are the decisions we make. We carry around in our minds the world we want to live in. Don't we?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Scheherazade

I'm gaining weight. I stopped exercising and now I'm gaining weight. I know how much because I fear facts. The bathroom scale speaks truth like an asshole who lacks empathy. I'm sure the gain is minuscule compared to the amount I lost in the Spring, but still, for some reason I'm hung up on it like some teen aged girl worried about prom.

This world is so confusing. I mean our world. The human world. Specifically, the American world. So much value is placed on waifish, emaciated bodies and yet King Television forces us to worship the almighty Dorito. The fuck? How are we all not mentally ill from the constant bombardment of contradictions? People are losing their feet due to diabetes, and yet Coca-Cola tells me I can't make friends unless I buy them a Coke. Fuck you, Coca-Cola. I love you, but I have to kill you.

So here I am contemplating my large belly and neck fat why? Why am I troubled with it? Whose evil plan am I falling into? Which bait did I take?


Monday, August 19, 2013

The Art of Being Important

2013 is turning out to be a banner year for Jason J. Carlock. First, I was honored with the distinction of being the Best Man at two weddings for my dear friends Ross Herosian and Marcus Barry. And now I've been recently asked to be Godfather for the glorious new son of Max and Christine Cooper. (This afternoon I expect a call from the mayor of Alexandria offering me the key to the city.)

I don't know what I did to deserve such accolades. I'm no hero. I'm just a man. A man making his way through life trying his best to be a good and decent husband and father. I'm not perfect. I'm moody and insecure and could stand to lose about 15 - 20 pounds. Hopefully, what people see in me is someone who recognizes his own faults and desires self-improvement. I don't aspire to be the best. I aspire to be happy.

I'm selfish. I'm emotional. I'm insatiable.

I'm loyal. I'm observant. And I listen.

I'm a challenging human to get close to, but I pay attention to details. And I appreciate beauty in all its subjective forms. If you get close enough to my Main Reactor, I might write a poem about you.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Music Appreciation: Josef Suk

Serenade for Strings in E flat Major

Tie Me Up

I found a new hobby: Buying ties.

I reckon tie shopping is akin to shoe shopping. They're two articles of my work attire that very few people will notice or care about. Maybe that's why I like it. These are subtle nuances in my overall appearance. Only people who really give a shit will notice how much my tie kicks ass today. I like these people. Not because they noticed how cool my tie is, but rather because they pay attention to details.

Paying attention to details is our way of non-verbally communicating to the world, "I give a shit." As they say, God is in the details. We so often look far and wide for peace and balance in the world, when all one really needs to do is notice someone's beautiful tie. The power of a good tie compliment is immense. Go ahead, try it. Find someone wearing a tie and compliment it. You may not see it, but on the inside you made that man soar. And isn't that why we're all stuck here on this floating rock? Is there a better mission in life than to spread cheer  and make people soar?

Spot good ties and leave a wake of joy.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Gauge

James is a mirror.

Yesterday I had a low parenting moment. James had every contraption/toy/iPad on and the noise brought my nerves to a boiling point. It was in the evening and I had just completed my daily whirlwind couple of hours of picking up James, walking Leia, feeding Leia, feeding James, preparing my lunch for the next day, washing dishes, and was just sitting down to eat my own dinner when the chaotic noise came to its frothy head. James has a habit of turning electronic toys on and then walking away. In his wake is often a symphony of bleeping, blooping, low-res mush of sound. I yelled at him. And the look on his face brought me to my knees. Literally. I (hopefully) showed him with a hug that sometimes Dad does stupid, impulsive things like yell about toys. But what I saw in his face was a reflection of myself being an asshole.  Yes, people make mistakes. I make plenty. And James is there to show me how many mistakes I make. Or maybe he's here to teach me.

James also helps me know that I can be good, too. I can make him laugh with a goofy face and that's worth everything. His happy demeanor speaks volumes as far as I'm concerned. My goal in life is to bring him joy and happiness. Fortunately, his face proves to me that I might be doing okay with that goal.

Friday, August 9, 2013

God's Needle

Yesterday Lynette gave me a bunch of records for my birthday. Among them was my all time favorite album of all time: The Cure Disintegration. Holy shit, does it sound amazing on vinyl! Among the birthday stack was Van Halen, The XX, Justin Timberlake, The Postal Service, and John Mayer. 

In this ever expanding age of tiny devices and compressed data, I am proud to say that when I go home I will turn on my Audio Technica SL120 record player, slide a record out of a large, art-adorned sleeve, and sit down on my couch while Robert Smith's haunting voice envelopes me. 

We the music consuming people of the world, need to go back to the roots of what it means to listen. Music has turned into that noise you ignore while shopping for groceries. Music was not invented to make awkward elevator rides a little less (or more) awkward. Listening to music -real music-  is not a passive activity. 

We've grown into such an efficient sound bite world that we've forgotten about our souls. Our starving souls. If going to church bring you closer to God and opens your hearts to His love, then hearing The Cure's Swimming the Same Deep Water as You on vinyl greases the hinges of the door to my soul where I can step out into the world naked and alive and ready. 

Listening to vinyl is like being aware of every breath you take. Of course, our bodies are designed to breath involuntarily and without the need of conscious thought, but that just makes its awareness that much more meaningful. Perhaps the word I'm alluding to is gratitude. Miles Davis' Kind of Blue on vinyl might bring a tear to your eye if you actually listen to it.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wild Nights, Wild Nights

By Robert Creeley

It seemed your friend
Had finally others to attend.
My time was yours alone to spend.

I leaned against the fence and waited.
Our love, I felt, was unequivocally fated.
To go sans word would leave all still unstated.

Hence scurrying hopes and pledge at last! Now here—
With all the fading years
Between—I wonder where

Time ever was before we
Walked in those towering woods, beneath the ample clouds,
Bathed in that wondrous air!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Plans

By Stuart Dischell

She plans to be a writer one day and live in the City of Paris,
Where she will describe the sun as it rises over Buttes-Chaumont.
"Today the dawn began in small pieces, sharp wedges of light
Broke through the clouds." She plans to write better than this
And is critic enough to know "sharp wedges" sound like cheese. 
She plans to live alone in a place that has a terrace
Where she will drink strong coffee at a round white table.
Her terrace will be her cafe and she will be recognized
By the blue-smocked workers of the neighborhood, the concierges,
The locals at the comptoir of the tabac down the block,
And the girl under the green cross of the apothecary shop.
She plans to love her apartment where she will keep
Just one flower in a blue vase. She already loves the word apart-
Ment, whose halves please her when she sees them breaking
The line in her journal. She plans to learn the roots
Of French and English words and will search them out
As if she were hunting skulls in the catacombs.
On her walls she'll hang a timetable of the great events
Of Western History. She will read the same twenty books
As Chaucer. Every morning she will make up stories....
She looks around her Brighton room, at the walls,
The ceiling, the round knob of the rectangular door.
She listens to the voices of the neighbor's children.
A toilet flushes, then the tamp of cigarette on steel,
The flint flash of her roommate's boyfriend's lighter.
When she leaves she plans to leave alone, and every
Article she will carry, each shoe, will be important.
Like an architect she will plan this life, as once
The fortune in a cookie told her: Picture what you wish
To become, if you wish to become that picture
.

Monday, August 5, 2013

This is 40

This week I turn 40.  I'm not sure the implications have hit me yet. Forty years old. I am a forty-year-old man. Is this what I thought I'd be when I turned 40? What do 40-year-olds look like? Or act like? There's a voice in my head yelling, "I'm not ready!"

But I'm not sure I know what I'm supposed to be ready for. Perhaps that old stereotyped way of thinking of aging has faded away. Because honestly I still play video games and yearn to touch boobies. (Not particularly in that order.)

Sure, I'm sporting some extra weight in my abdomen, and my hair is graying. But I've got wit that kills and my wedding tackle is in tip top condition. I'm looking forward to introducing my son to Star Wars and Lego and comic books. I may not know all there is to know about football and sports in general, but I feel the imagination is our most precious asset. No age is going to stop me from pretending to be Han Solo flying the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field on a Wednesday afternoon as I navigate traffic on the Beltway.

And when it comes to love, well, let's just say the pursuit to get my wife to send me sexy text messages is never ending (see above re: boobies).

Then again, I do finally drive a nice car and all my pants have been tailored to fit me perfectly. I actually enjoy wearing ties and subscribe to the moist wipes philosophy. I go to bed early and wake up before dawn. And I have no qualms about wearing cheap $9 boat shoes when I walk the dog.

But... I'm learning how to play the banjo and I use my Nintendo 3DS on a daily basis. I have my own Lego sets and I get angry at myself for forgetting to pack fruit snacks in my lunch. However, I'm pretty sure 40-year-old me and young-at-heart me both share similar thoughts regarding girls in yoga pants. Oh baby. Show me a woman with a great ass and I'll show you a man who's going to live forever!


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Morning

We're living in Sunday Morning right now. Its brief existence celebrated with early coffee and a hazy Sun lolling overhead. These are the mornings skin feels its smoothest. Kisses their softest. Sighs their deepest. You're safe here.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Schedule

Life amidst the Wednesdays. The Sun rises and sets like any other day, but we emphasize our numbers and months so damn much it's hard to remember that when I wake up breathing on a Wednesday I should be just as happy as I am on a Saturday. The only difference is that I get to do a lot more kissing on Saturdays. And I am so much happier when I do more kissing.

Anyway, schedules. Am I right? Maybe tonight I'll pretend it's Saturday and seduce my wife. Maybe. We'll see how it goes. The variables are depressing.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

45

Got a box of 45 rpm records in the mail yesterday. Typical jukebox fare. But the cream of the crop was Juice Newton's Queen of Hearts. You haven't lived unless your eight-year-old self played this song on a jukebox while on a family vacation at some backwoods fishing resort.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Harass Me

I have a magic tie bar. You know, those metal things men clip to their ties to keep the back part of the tie from swinging out from behind the larger part. (Now you know.) Every time I wear it people say, "Wow, you're dressed up today!" But I've ratcheted up my attire a month ago. They may have noticed, but was waiting for that neutral window of opportunity to give an appropriate compliment.

It makes me wonder though - Should I say something to someone if I notice a tiny detail about their attire? I have no qualms telling someone their barn door is open, or if there's a streamer of toilet paper following them out of the bathroom. But God is in the details (as they say). I chose this tie bar from a selection of amny tie bars. I tried to find one aesthetically pleasing. I may not get a "Hey nice tie bar!" but the tiny detail really tied the room together

It feels good when someone notices our little things, doesn't it? We adorn them for a reason, don't we? Or are we hoping people keep their thoughts to themselves? Of course, in the workplace I can't tell a pretty woman that she chose today's skirt wisely. Or that her tight slacks gave me a boner. I can say, "Cool shoes," can't I? Or, "You got your hair cut!" Can't I?

Maybe I'll just keep my thoughts to myself.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hearing the Light

Sometimes (sometimes) you're wrong. About that thing you were so fucking sure about. So wrong.

Last night Lynette and I received a special delivery in the mail. A brand new Audio-Technica LP120 record player. We decided in Magical Minneapolis last month to add a record player to our home after experiencing a wonderful household with a great vinyl set-up. After some extensive research we decided on the brand and ordered it. In anticipation of its arrival, we went record shopping last weekend and I spent a few hours unearthing our old record collection from the storage unit.

Here's what I was wrong about regarding sound quality: vinyl sounds amazing! Holy shit! CD's and MP3's do not hold a candle to the way music sounds on vinyl. It's definitely a realization one needs to make on his own, because I've always been skeptical.

Anyway, here's my gorgeous bride inspecting our new record player moments before falling in love with music all over again.

Mobile Upload

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

After a Brubeck Concert

By Miller Williams

Six hundred years ago, more or less,
something more than eight million couples
coupled to have me here at last, at last.
Had not each fondling, fighting, or fumbling pair
conjoined at the exquisitely right time,
thirty-four million times, I would be an unborn,
one of the quiet ones who are less than air.
But I will be also, when six hundred years have passed,
one of seventeen million who made love
aiming without aiming to at one
barely imaginable, who may then be doing
something no one I know has ever done
or thought of doing, on some distant world
we did not know about when we were here.
Or maybe sitting in a room like this,
eating a cheese sandwich and drinking beer,
a small lamp not quite taking the room from the dark,
with someone sitting nearby, humming something
while two dogs, one far away, answer bark for bark.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vinyl and Kayaks, Amen

A lot happened during our Upper Midwest excursion. Wisconsin proved once again that if God exists, he must have rested his elbow there while taking a break from creating the planet, because I can't dip my feet in one of her cold lakes without falling down the spiritual slide of my consciousness. Wild eagles floated overhead and we had to act like it was as ordinary as a candy-coated tree. If unicorns existed this is where I'd send them (and pray they're never seen again.)

Church is a kayak on glassy water in early morning. Its congregation quietly agreeing with the sermon from the back row in the forest. I will get back there again some day.

Church is a vinyl record slowly spinning in the house of a man who wants nothing more out of life than to fish from the banks of the Mississippi River, which can be seen from his kitchen window while Doc Watson praises the lord from a scratchy bygone era.

We're home now. And I want to worship all the gods.

Music Appreciation: Volcano Choir

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Marriage of Elizabeth and Marx


Last week I experienced an event that brought hope to a world so often full of tragedies and pain and cynicism. I witnessed the true, ethereal power of love in its most sought after form. If I didn't have photos to prove it, y'all wouldn't believe me. This event occurred on June 28, 2013, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on the dreamy banks of an infinite river.

As the bride and groom stood knee-deep in the muddy current of the Mississippi, their guests drank wine from Mason jars while listening to the joyous sounds of a live bluegrass band. Rain and sunshine danced back and forth all day with brief demonstrations of their tumultuous power, and children played on a rope swing that hung from a tree. Bugs kept their distance and we ate deliciously grilled sausages and hamburgers skillfully made by local chefs hired for the occasion. Kisses were captured in the photo booth, and Middy the Dog, wearing a handkerchief that matched the groom's tie, stalked the tables for scraps of food.

The entire day was an organic metaphor for the symbolic union of two lovers who spent their lives navigating the wilderness of life while beautifully nurturing the love they clearly have for each other. Thank God for their endeavor. I have an immense amount of hope for these two people. I can't wait to see what grows out of their lives after this perfect start to the rest of their gorgeous lives.

Love is alive and well. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

For Marcus

How do we compartmentalize our emotions? In the face of adversity and tragedy I tend to make jokes and laugh. Some people cry. Some people eat, or take their anger out on others, or beat the fuck out of Fluffy. Whichever the method, differentiating between our highs and lows is not a skill we learn in high school. So, how do we figure it all out?

Is a man commended for acting cool under pressure, or is he seen as cold and aloof? If we were in a war I want a leader who doesn't bat an eye when soldiers die all around him. But if I trip and fall on my way up the stairs to have sex resulting in multiple broken bones, I think I might need a hug.

The compartments have a hierarchy. Some things are more important than others. Getting laid isn't as important as protecting freedom. But in our minds they're one and the same. There are things we set out to do and do them we must regardless of what gets in the way. If I need to get up those stairs because there's a woman waiting for me, I'm going to get up those stairs broken bones and all. I'll get to the hospital... after we have sex. If I'm planning an outdoor wedding and it rains, I'm standing under those drenching skies with my bride and saying I Do.  If the last donut falls to the floor I'm eating that fucking donut.

Dirty, wet, broken, it doesn't matter, because we have plans. Plans must be carried out. No matter the cost. No matter the pain. If the cost of freedom is crawling through a mile of shit, I'll look forward to the shower at the end. Because freedom is worth it.

Love is worth it. Terrible things happen all the time all over the world, but we can't stop our lives to lament and be sad when it's our turn to cheer and be happy. It's our turn now. You can mourn the losses, but do not forget to reach for that golden ring. It's dangling right in front of you. Fucking grab it, man.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pixel Love

In 2002, Lynette and I bought a Nintendo GameCube and played a lot of Animal Crossing. A lot. It was a blast. If you don't know anything about Animal Crossing you are definitely missing out. In a sentence, it's a game about nothing. You live in a little village and you maintain a little house and talk to cute, animal neighbors and go fishing, etc, etc, etc. If Zen could be packaged in video game form, Animal Crossing is it.

So, last week Nintendo released a new iteration of Animal Crossing specifically for the Nintendo 3DS and I bought a limited edition Animal Crossing themed 3DS (with the new game pre-installed) for Lynette for our 14th wedding anniversary.

I know societal conventions dictate that I'm supposed to buy flowers and jewelry for my wife on our wedding anniversary, but we're not a typical couple. Sure, my bride enjoys flowers and jewelry as much as the next woman. And she gets 'em. But flowers only provide a very minute amount of time for enjoyment, whereas Animal Crossing (and any other game on the 3DS) will entertain my gorgeous chick for days/weeks/years!

Anyway, the name of my Animal Crossing town is Pinetree. Stop by if you need any pears!



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pew Pew Pew

Y'all been yearning for some nerd? (Nerd Yearn?)

Last week E3 happened. It's an annual electronics expo where all the major video game companies show off their up coming wares, games, etc. This year Microsoft and Sony unveiled their new consoles, the Xbox One and PS4. For nerds, gamers, and general homebody introverts like myself it's like the Super Bowl of geek. I love it. And this year shit got real.

There was high drama among the gaming community. Along with their unveiling of the new Xbox One, Microsoft also announced some "features" of the new console, and not only did the shit hit the fan, but the fan was on high and the shit splattered all over the internet! Apparently, the new Xbox One MUST always be connected to the internet. And it MUST "check in" with the mothership once a day. AND buying/playing/selling used games will no longer be allowed. These restrictions are referred to as DRM (Digital Rights Management). It's a way for game publishers to limit piracy of their software. But what it also does is restricts someone who purchased the software to lend or sell their game to anyone. Also, DRM restrictions assumes everyone is always connected to the internet all the time. Additionally, in case the DRM restrictions weren't enough to ruffle feathers, the new Xbox One will not work unless Kinect is connected. Which means that Microsoft's eye will always be on watching you get late night blowjobs on the couch of your living room. In light of the recent news that the NSA illegally monitors all your emails, this ain't cool. Not cool at all.

Then Sony unveils their new PS4 and guess what... Not only are there no DRM restrictions for their system, but the PS4 will also sell for $100 less than the Xbox One. They even made a funny video sticking it to their competitors explaining how PS4 users can share games: Step One: Hand the game to a friend. Done! Sony also won't have a HAL-9000-like presence in your home all day and night.

Like I said, high drama. Microsoft is currently backpedaling and removing the DRM restrictions for the new console, but the damage is done. Once someone pulls a gun out at a party the party is ruined. Gamers will still end up buying both, but this will go down as one hell of a debacle for Microsoft.

Meanwhile, Nintendo is sitting idly by watching the nonsense. The Wii U and 3DS are an amazing consoles with amazing games at half the price.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sailing

Not that there's anything wrong with a little pomp. I like my brides in gorgeous white dresses, my post-game press conference athletes in shiny, designer suits, and my wife of 14 years in lacy, expensive underpants. You can only wrap presents in newspaper so many times before people start giving up on you.

Last week I stepped up my wardrobe at work. Slacks and ties, motherfucker. And guess what - it matters. I know it shouldn't, but it does. People treat me differently. People take me more seriously. Women want to have sex with me. But you can only wear sweat pants among doctors for a limited amount of time before people start giving up on you. And honestly, shoes really do make the man. It's all about the shoes.

So, yesterday I wasn't ragging on formal weddings. I was merely pointing out that we, humans, tend to miss the forest for the trees. Yes, I want you to look pretty. But, yes, I want you to remember the important things are so tiny, microscopic, that it's easy to forget.

Also, I met a guy last weekend who said he has connections and can get Christopher Cross to perform anywhere for $10,000. So, if I really had it to do all over again, I'd shell out the ten grand and get Christopher Cross to play "Sailing" at my wedding. I'd take out a loan if I had to. (Not joking.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Marriage is a canoe, not a kayak.

"Just drop 'em," said the guy at Men's Warehouse when I returned six tuxedo rentals yesterday. So I said back to him, "Oh, so they're like Christmas trees." Precious until the morning after. A heaping pile of used, discarded, smelly fabric. Once symbols of elegance, only to be added to the retched mound of refuse.

Looking back, as I told Ross before The Big Day, things enormous quickly become insignificant. So much of our daily lives are like tuxedo rentals. In the end we're going to wonder why we spent so much time and energy caring for and worrying about the little things.

I was talking to Lynette about our wedding which was 14 years ago and imagined a wedding without tuxedos and perfection. I envisioned a circle of tents in the woods with a camp fire and an official who could legally perform the union. Then music and dancing and stars and sky.

14 years later I realized that the symbolic crap regarding a beautiful marriage doesn't come from Men's Warehouse. A strong lasting marriage rears its head when the baby vomits, or when a spouse's mother dies. These are the pillars of a lasting foundation. Not the boutineer that I struggled to attach to my lapel.

Weddings should end with the couple boarding a canoe. Because if you've ever paddled a canoe you know how it tests the bonds of the two people involved. One person cannot paddle it alone.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

That Sun Guy is Bulemic

I've been skipping breakfast lately. On mornings I don't get to the gym. Shouldn't that guy dressed as a giant sandwich be accosting me here at work to give me something to eat? (Actually, he's dressed as the Sun, but I'm seeing sandwiches right now.)

Food. Am I right?

I've been dealing with weight issues my whole life. And when I wasn't fat, I didn't know it. How's that for a mind fuck? I was quite svelte in college, but who knew? Let's see what happens at age 40. I'm one pound away from losing 30 lbs. since January. I want to be a hot dad.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Our Shells

I'm in the midst of changing my wardrobe. Gone are the days of Dockers khaki pants. I've gone through so many Dockers khaki pants and only just recently came to the sudden realization that every time I wore them I looked like a giant manchild on his way to church. Nothing says I will wear the bare minimum attire scraped from the bottom of the office dress code than a pair of Dockers khaki pants. Wrinkled, nonetheless.

Anyway, I'm changing my wardrobe. Real pants. And shirts packaged in plastic and stick pins. I'm not trying to be overly hoity-toity. It's just that I have a real good chance of getting a bog promotion at work and, well, you know what they say: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

So I've been doing some shopping, and I feel like a whole new world has opened up. Before, the only times I ventured into that section of the store where you find all the nice shirts packaged in plastic was funerals and weddings. (By the way, I am so ready for someone to die! I already have something to wear!) Now, I know exactly what size I am (17 1/2 36-37) and selecting ties is kind of fun.

Oh shit - Does this mean I'm getting old? Well, for the record, in the evenings and weekends you'll find me wearing the same old pair of gym shorts and my lucky bathrobe.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Music Appreciation: Drop City Yacht Club

Remember when I said Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" was going to be the song of the summer? Scratch that. It's this one.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Confidence, Stupid

I have an idea for a children's book. A good idea. All I need now is an illustrator. Or maybe I don't... Lynette is always telling me she like the way I make drawings. Perhaps I can illustrate this thing myself...

I've spent my entire life with shit for confidence. Where the heck does that come from? I can see my son acting timid sometimes, but it takes him time to warm up to new things. I suppose he gets that from me. Swimming pools start out as pits of hot lava and he cries to save himself from it, but then some time later the kid won't get out of the water for fear of dying like a suffocating fish.

I guess this unsure feeling in us stems from a deep fear of the world. I grew up fearing everything and it saddens me if I think too hard about the experiences I missed out on due to stupid fear.

So, how does one get a children's book published?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

239

Get ready, here comes some boasting. I weighed in at 239 lbs this morning. In January, I weighed 266 lbs. I'm about half way to where I want to be, but dang it feels great to see progress.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lotion and Dessert

The black coffee experiment had results that did not surprise me. Or in other words, I failed. I can't drink black coffee. I'm back to cream and sugar and happiness and joy.

In lotion news, I've been using L'occitane en Provence. If you're a user of lotion in any way, this shit doesn't fuck around. Not only is it effective, I am also addicted to its scent. So Lynette found a L'occitane en Provence store at a fancy, hoity toity mall nearby. My goal is to slather my girl in this wonderful lotion. I also bought some fancy after shave lotion that makes me smell like every man you've ever wanted to have sex with.

I also ate at my first Pinkberry frozen yogurt place and holy shit, people, this stuff is amazing! It's not just a hipster trend. It's delicious. Seek it out.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sex Coffee

Today I'm taking my coffee black. And I'm having a rough go of it. How the hell do people do this?! Sorry, it's only day one. My taste routine has been changed. Change is the Devil. But then again, I once heard an old adage that you should do one thing every day that scares the shit out of you. I googled how to switch to black coffee and everyone said it takes time. A lot of people also said women are more likely to have sex with a man who takes his coffee black as opposed to the guy who adds cream and sugar. So, I think you know how this will turn out...

Monday, May 20, 2013

RIP Ray Manzerek

Pew! Pew!

Yesterday we bought new chairs for the kitchen and Lynette picked up a few things from Victoria's Secret. Always the pragmatist, I asked her to model both items simultaneously. Know this: Our shopping spree yielded gorgeous results.

We also bought some new wine glasses and fresh mangoes for making sorbet. Seducing my wife is stealing time away from my video games.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Everybody leaves.

Look, man, I know it's just a TV show. I know. I know! But I cried like a kid who's dog just ran away while watching the finale of The Office last night. I don't know why I feel such a connection with that show, but I do. And now it's gone. My heart hurts. As the end neared I started welling up because I knew it was almost over, but it was Andy's line that pierced my soul:

"I wish there was a way to know you're actually in the good ole days before you've actually left them."

Goodbye Office.

Seriously, whoever's cutting onions in here needs to stop!


May Song

by Wendell Berry

For whatever is let go
there's a taker.
The living discovers itself

where no preparation
was made for it,
where its only privilege

is to live if it can.
The window flies from the dark
of the subway mouth

into the sunlight
stained with the green
of the spring weeds

that crowd the improbable
black earth
of the embankment,

their stout leaves
like the tongues and bodies
of a herd, feeding

on the new heat,
drinking at the seepage
of the stones:

the freehold of life,
triumphant
even in the waste

of those who possess it.
But it is itself the possessor,
we know at last,
seeing it send out weeds
to take back
whatever is left.

Proprietor, pasturing foliage
on the rubble,
making use

of the useless—a beauty
we have less than not
deserved.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to make mango sorbet.

It takes several days to make mango sorbet. It's a drawn out process requiring patience and planning. First, you have to learn how to cut a mango. (Try not to slice off any thumbs.) Next, you have to make sure the tiny ice trolls working in your freezer are well versed in sorbet construction. Then, if you're lucky, oral sex, because there's a lot of waiting and it's not like you can watch your favorite hockey team move forward in the playoffs. Finally, you can eat your delicious concoction and drink wine and get drunk and lose clothes in the kitchen.

Mango sorbet. Easy peasy.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Hint of Spring

by James Whitcomb Riley

'Twas but a hint of Spring—for
        still 
The atmosphere was sharp and chill
Save where the genial sunshine smote
The shoulders of my overcoat,
And o'er the snow beneath my feet
Laid spectral fences down the street.

My shadow, even, seemed to be
Elate with some new buoyancy,
And bowed and bobbed in my advance
With trippingest extravagance,
And, when the birds chirpt out some-
         where,
It seemed to wheel with me and stare.

Above I heard a rasping stir—
And on a roof the carpenter
Was perched, and prodding rusty
         leaves
From out the choked and dripping
         eaves—
And some one, hammering about,
Was taking all the windows out.

Old scraps of shingles fell before
The noisy mansion's open door;
And wrangling children raked the yard,
And labored much, and laughed as
         hard,
And fired the burning trash I smelt
And sniffed again—so good I felt!