Friday, June 30, 2006

My Kauai (Hawaii) Travel Tips

To the parent who emailed me (without a return email address). You can find "my traveling with an infant tips" here.

The Big “1st Birthday” and the “No-Gift” Controversy

So next weekend is my daughters 1st birthday bash – and it was as the cliché’ goes - the first year really did go by fast! Her first party is something I’ve been planning for some time now; my wife would probably argue even before she was born. We’re having a catered Polynesian Luau themed-party at our local clubhouse on a lake and are expecting around 110 people (There’s even a surprise entertainer that only 3 people know about which should be allot of fun for both adults and kids). A little extravagant (OK, allot for a 1st birthday) but more than likely the only big party we’ll end up having for her. But it gives us a good reason to celebrate our little one, throw a big party and see allot of people we haven’t seen in the last year too.

With so many people coming my wife and I decided to put “No Gifts Please” on the invitation for a few reasons:

1) She’s only 1 and doesn’t know what a gift is
2) She still has allot of stuff unopened in the closet
3) We think the addition of 30, 40, 50+ gifts is really obscene
4) We want this to be a celebration and not some gift frenzy

One of my cousins recently had a birthday party for their toddler and invited around 60 people, there were so many gifts that she just cried.
We just thought we could do gifts when she figures out “birthdays=gifts” (all kids learn this soon enough) and then we’ll invite just a few of her friends.
Does this reasoning seem odd to anybody? It makes perfect sense to me, but I’ve been getting weird reactions from random people like I’m a bad parent, or worse - some snob, for cutting out gifts.
I know there are people that still insist on giving her something; I’m not against that at all and they’re usually close friends and family –we’re cool with it. We just don’t want everybody to feel obligated to bring something or anything at all but themselves. What’s wrong with just going to a party?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Close Six Flags Magic Mountain!

We live near a theme park called Magic Mountain - Six Flags owns it so the place literally looks like Tijuana on the inside. The whole place smells like stale *something* and the walkways are so sticky you need to pack extra shoes just in case the soles rip off, and I haven't even begun to explain the type of crowd that goes there - basically rowdy wanna-be L.A. valley gangsters (and real ones too). I'm not sure what Six Flags was thinking when they deliberately took all the family stuff out (or left it to deteriorate) and installed Teen-Themed Thrill coasters (Slap black paint on the coaster call it "Batman"--that's "themed"?). Basically, the whole amusement park is an eyesore in the "family" community and nobody really talks about it (Sort of like admitting to watching 90210 in the early 90's - everybody saw it, but didn't talk about it). Unless, of course, you're talking about or visit the adjacent water park, "Hurricane Harbor", which somehow has remained nice as gangsters are afraid step foot in the water (I don't know - maybe the guns and crack pipes aren't waterproof?) so lots of families go there.

Just this week (or last?) Six Flags has decided it's putting the place up for sale...why? It's a big money loser. Duh? , Teens and gangsters don't spend as much money as families do? (Disneyland and Universal don’t do badly off families) They're spending it all on spinners for their "Escalades" or "Scions". So now there's talk about a developers razing the place to build more McMansions (there are allot nearby). The property is worth WAY more than any raunchy theme park any day.
I'm all for it for a few reasons -- the place is so bad not even Mickey Mouse, Shamu, and Bugs Bunny together as a "fellowship" can't save it. They would need to burn the place down (Chicago-mafia style) and start again. And those McMansions really bring up the property value way more than the current theme park does.

But I do hope they keep the water park Hurricane Harbor.


LA Times did a story Sunday with the header "Close Magic Mountain? Residents Aren't Thrilled". I'm not sure who they're cherry picking, but all my neighbors and people I work with who live in the same area all want that place shut down.
I think the only think I might agree with is opening some business park or offices in place of homes (near a larger Hurricane Harbor water park of course.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Baby Loves Disco - L.A.!

So the event finally came to L.A. and we were there Sunday afternoon along with a handful of friends. For those who don't know what Baby Loves Disco is, well read about it here. For those in other states who have gone to one of those "fancy locations" with the Eames furniture and Phillipe Starke looking bars...we're jealous , the location here (the Larchmont) didn't have the posh dressings and was on the sketchy side of Melrose.

Which was basically on the "bad" side of Melrose (yes, there is a bad side even though the good side looks like the bad side..) That didn't stop us and other parents from having fun though. We arrived almost exactly at 2pm and stood in the 85 degree sun while parents and kids lined up with Baby Bjorns and diaper bags in hand. It's kind of funny standing in a line outside a club at 2pm, with an infant, when a bouncer is checking your ID (for cocktails) and giving you a wristband. About 80-90% of parents had to be in their 30's (like us) so we were in good company and all were saying stuff like "Wow-I haven't stood outside a CLUB in YEARS!".

Inside they played mainly 80's music, and none of that annoying 80's stuff, like you know, "Sunglasses at Night", "Everyone Have Fun Tonight" it was more of "The Cure", "General Public" (English Beat), "Siouxsie And The Banshees" with some "Wham!" and old school "Madonna" thrown in. We were quite pleased and the free Nilla Wafers cookies, Fruit Snacks, Candy, Juice Boxes made it even better.

From what they told us, I guess this is going to be an ongoing thing now, once a month. Which is pretty cool. It's kinda nice to hang out dancing with friends and the kids. We're definitely going back, and some friends with no-kids were interested in going too (I guess they'll just have to rent-a-kid for the day or something). All in all, we had fun -it definitely beats Chuck E. Cheese any day.

Monday, June 26, 2006

‘America’s Got Talent’ and so does David Hasselhoff

We did something rare on Friday night, we went out to dinner as usual, and then went home and watched TV. The little one is teething (she’s a little late) and can’t sit for more than 30 minutes – the poor thing has her hand attached to her mouth and gives puppy dog looks all the time now. So what do I do? Take pictures!

We came across that really cheesy show “America’s Got Talent” and laughed at all the freaks (Jugglers? Magicians? Parrots?). The biggest one being David Hasselhoff. Over the course of the show he was actually getting more ‘sauced’, ‘toasted’…drunk. So bad that Moesha and the “I’m not Simon, but I’m English too” guy had to hit his “go home” buzzer for him. It was both weird, and very fascinating. We kept jumping back and forth between that show and HGTV's "Big Splash" (we love HGTV). But unable to focus on HGTV because we kept wondering what Hasselhoff would do next.
After some discussion afterwards I came to the conclusion they (TV producers) should give the guy his own talk show. And it should be in a bar (with an old bartender named ‘moustache’) and in-between guests he could sing show-tunes or cover songs at a piano. The guy can sing just a well as Michael Bolton…how you seen the video? I see a big 3rd comeback in the works…

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Doodlebops Freak Me Out.

But my daughter can’t keep her eyes off them. My wife and I have tried showing her snippets of other shows, but nothing resonates with her. It’s not that we don’t like the Doodlebops, but the orange guy (Moe) really scares me…(maybe it’s his voice, or the “hiding” thing at the beginning of each show). I think it’s because he reminds me of this guy that I use to work with, and he was a bit creepy and odd - like almost postal-strange. As first I really thought it could be him until I saw the pictures of them without makeup, they just look like kids from Fame.
Either way, maybe she likes the Sid and Marty Kroft –esque thing they’ve got going on. I think I may try showing her some of that stuff, but then again Cha-Ka might scare her (like he scares me).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Preschool Drawings into Works of Art

I saw the COOLEST idea for artwork happening down at Gallery Nineteen Eighty-Eight (down on Melrose and La Brea). They went around asking preschoolers to draw their favorite scenes from Disney's Winnie the Pooh, and then "the professionals" (grown-up artists) took those kid-art creations and created pretty amazing pieces based on them. The results are very clever!
Being an artist myself, I'm always trying new things with my daughter, but at 11 months she can't "draw" yet, but it doesn't stop me from drawing her (I'll post those one day), creating funny artwork inspired by and for her, and she just loves watching me sketch (or just wants the pen/pencil really bad.)
But this idea is brilliant! I'll have to try this out in a few years time. (Now if only she could draw now without trying to eat the pencil...)

'The' Homeowner’s Association Meeting

Last night I attended my first neighborhood HOA meeting in about 4 years. The last time my wife and I had gone to one of these, there were police, attorneys, and about half the neighborhood showed up because of something stupid was going on -- like some people wanted to sue everybody for taking down trees, somebody’s barking dog, or another “recall” of the board (The drama went on forever…). I forgot what exactly happened because the whole thing was very Jerry Springer-like and we left (ran out the door) early. So like most residents (800 in our HOA!) we just stay away, I have enough things going on that are more important.

But recently I’ve gotten pretty active in our little spot; we have a common area that needs a gate (outside the houses is a major street that small kids have run out on a few occasions) so I got neighbors to sign a petition to the HOA to install one. (I would much rather pay for it myself rather than go through the HOA…but you just can’t do that).

When I stood up to speak (with a 3-minute timer running) it was like addressing congress. I got no reaction and the board members were sweating, looking around nervously waiting for one of the others to talk first. Once the timer had “tinged”, one whispered into the HOA lawyer’s ear (like the OJ trial). Then my turn was over and another resident hippie-type woman talked about frogs in our lake and how the HOA should kill them all and artificially inseminate them with rabbits (or something stupid like that). Another stood up asking the HOA to take away kids skateboards and throw them to tigers or piranha’s (or something like that), another asked to have kids shot, or sent to China, so they stop yelling at the pool because he can’t hear Wheel of Fortune (or something like that).

I don’t think I’ll be going to another HOA meeting again. Unless I want to ask the HOA to have everybody paint their cars yellow (to keep aliens away), and people should only wear roller skates in the summer.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Baby Cruising and Popular Filipino Baby Names

I’m not sure when it happened, but what started out as my daughter holding onto couches and chairs for a week or two (with maybe a few steps left and right), has somehow instantly transformed herself into Spiderman --grabbing onto things and quickly attaching herself to chairs, stools, walls, legs, etc. Making her way to things like trashcans, the knife drawer, household chemicals under sinks, or worse… my new Nintendo DS Lite! Can somebody please tell me how they know where to find this stuff? It’s like they’re instinctively drawn to it, or my theory, some other ‘older infant/toddler’ told them (in baby babble) where to find the “goods” in their house while passing them at the market while sitting in the basket.
The wife and I are looking to baby proof, which is a little annoying since we wanted those magnetic key drawer-lock ones. But we’re rethinking that since we know of people who have accidentally lost the key (or the toddler “hid it”) and were shut out of their stuff.

So do you ever wonder what the most popular baby names are in other countries? I'm not sure why, but I do. Maybe just in case I ever run into a Pag-ibig in the future, I can say something like “Hey Pag-ibig - That’s was a pretty popular name back in 1995 wasn’t it?” Good conversation starter.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Thoughts on the Britney Interview

So I finally saw the notorious interview on YouTube after reading/hearing so much about it the last few days from friends, co-workers and on Blogs. All I can say is Britney should just stop talking and maybe sit in her house for a few years with the door locked. Or maybe move to a cave in Alabama until she’s grown up enough to not chew gum and rub her leg during an interview.
I did think it was pretty funny how the editor kept cutting to “sexy Britney” and current “Wal-Mart checker Britney”. I hope the director and editor get an Emmy for that or at least a Sizzler coupon for their brilliant work.

How does this relate to anything?? 1-Debbie Gibson never did anything like this (well, except for that posing nude thing). 2- My daughter will never become a ‘pop-star’!!

Monday, June 19, 2006

The ‘Big 1st’ Fathers Day

Seriously, you really don’t feel like a Father until other people start acknowledging it and address you as “Dad”, like all day yesterday. It really did make me feel like I should pull out a pipe, give it a puff, while choking up a tie -- or something like that.

My day turned out to be really good. My two ladies passed on the Dockers and gave me a gift I really wanted (a game for the new Nintendo DS lite I bought last week…yeah, I know, how old am I?) And then we all made a lunchtime visit to The Grove out here in L.A. I got to eat at one of my favorite places call The Gumbo Pot down at the Farmer’s Market section – Man, I just love Creole cooking ever since my first trip to New Orleans over 8 years ago and this is the best place for it out here. The food was so spicy that I looked like an emotional father while feeding cornbread to my daughter. Some older woman stopped by and said “First time dad, huh?” At least I didn’t look as emotional as “My Two Dads” who sat nearby taking pictures of each other feeding their 3 month old.
While meandering around, we stopped at that new American Girl Place. They had something going on called “Date with Dad”, which I thought was a pretty good idea to possibly do in a few years. Problem is, you might need one of their $175 dolls. And maybe the doll needs her $400 carriage to meet you there or just a trip to the doll salon to get a $20 hairstyle. That place made Barbie look like Britney’s best friend at the trailer park.

After the adventure, later in the day, I was with the mini in our hallway with her shadow in front of her as she walked. She kept stopping and pointing to it, and then tried to grab it off the ground a few times. I laughed and then tried to grab at it too, but she just broke out laughing, which was quickly interrupted by a loud "toot" and then her “poopie” face followed. While changing her diaper I just thought to myself “My 1st Father’s Day; I’ll remember this for the rest of my life”.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Father’s Day Stuff

So my first Father’s day is Sunday. I’m not sure if I should be planning a BBQ, expect a necktie, a new wallet, coupon lunch at Black Angus, $16 shorts from Ross, or any other of the ‘traditional’ gifts that are always advertised. I always wonder what advertisers think of Dads these days. Like we don’t change from the previous generations and we all enjoy a trip down to Hometown Buffet for lunch (hey ya’ll lets make sure Dad gets a starter spare tire going and don’t forget the socks with sandals).
Growing up my brother and I just usually gave my Dad some gift, like Docker Pants my mom picked out from JC Penny and Dad would BBQ some T-Bones and baked potatoes while mom sat around complaining to him (Note: I HATE Dockers and JC Penny and…). Now that it’s my turn, I want to do things a bit differently. I want my daughter to make me funny kid art, you know like a portrait of me in macaroni and finger paint, and maybe some cool title like “Portrait of a Contemporary Father”. And then maybe a video game taped to the back. I wouldn’t mind that after eating a Sushi or Cajun lunch.

Top 10 Coolest BBQ Grills (And Then Some!)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

First Aid, CPR Class & P.I. Lawyers

So I finally did it. After years and years of saying to myself “I’m going to take CPR classes” I ultimately got around to it (and work gave me the day off and paid for the class too!). What really persuaded me was not only for the safety of my family but also hearing a story from a guy at work how he actually saved a sixty-something year old woman’s life at his kid’s t-ball game. Talking to him was really inspiring.

I have to admit I was pretty apprehensive at first thinking they’d show nothing but blood, guts and severed fingers, but that wasn’t the case; as I soon found out it really isn’t as unpleasant as people think. The part that really threw me off was that about a quarter of the class was reviewing California’s “Good Samaritan Laws” and avoiding getting sued from our state’s famous out-of-control trial lawyers (the ones who go after First Aid responders). Yes, can you believe it? It really is sad; reviewing cases, like in which some extremely overweight diabetic can have a cardiac arrest, be unconscious, you come along do CPR until the paramedics show up 20-30 minutes later. And the family sues YOU for trying to save the person’s life. The instructor gave a current stat saying that 80% of the time, you’ll likely end up using this stuff on a friend, neighbor, or family member just because of the fear of getting sued.
At the end of the class, I came out pretty confident on what to do if I were put in that situation of watching/finding somebody who had “gone down”. But also really wondering if I should just walk away from any strangers who might need help with that idea of getting sued stuck in my head. The instructor did say that it was my choice and that’s about the only way to insure you can’t get sued for anything these days.
I guess I’ll just have to decide at the moment if that time ever comes. Maybe I should carry a small waver form on my keychain along with the mini disposable Red Cross CPR Face Shield… just in case.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

World Cup and the Crocodile Hunter

You know, I don’t know what “rest of the worlds” obsession is with soccer. While working out at the gym last night I tuned into (they have really cool little TV screens on some equipment) this World Cup business for about 10 minutes and I just got really bored with it. All that running around made me tired and all the players, to me, looked like they were forced to play for their lives (or like if the Russian mafia was watching closely and had grandma tied to a train). And don’t even get me started on the size of the playing field, why can’t they shrink it down 75% and maybe give the guy’s armor and sticks to fight with. Maybe that would make the game more interesting. Somehow I know there’s some wacky Brazilian out there who is going crazy reading this, but I don’t care. If Soccer in the U.S. hasn’t caught on by now, it likely never will. I think Curling has more of a chance (if they add hungry bears chasing the players).

So I switched the channel and saw Steve Irwin’s Great Escapes. My wife and I use to watch his regular “Croc Hunter” show and found it pretty entertaining. On this new show - he’s with his family (2 kids now!) and wasn’t being chased by zombie piranhas while running holding a dead chicken, like his old glory days. I guess now that he’s a family man, like all guys who have kids; he had to change his habits a little. Nonetheless, he’s still a pretty entertaining Aussie and his kids are pretty funny too.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Baby Shower, “MI:3”, “Cars”, Nintendo DS Lite and Neighborhood Watch Militia

That’s pretty much how you sum up our weekend. My wife and daughter attended one of my many cousins baby shower and because they live really, really far away in a magical place called “The Inland Empire” (which is just a fancy name for San Bernardino County, which doesn’t sound very magical and sounds more like a rodeo BBQ.) So I thought I would spend the afternoon with my grandfather. Maybe take him to a movie - something he doesn’t do too often.

I originally wanted to take him to see the new Disney/Pixar flick “Cars”, but of course, we were there only AN HOUR before it started on 4 screens and they were all sold out. So it was either “The Omen” or “MI:3”. Grandpa has high cholesterol so we saw MI:3. This isn’t a movie I wanted to see (you know with the Tom Cruise fake relationship with Dawson’s girlfriend and the artificially inseminated “baby” –my theory), well at least pay to see it in the theatre, we usually NetFlix movies like this…but when you’re in a bind, what can you do? I have to admit though it wasn’t bad and pretty entertaining. Felicity made a good hitman/woman in the 5 minutes she was in the movie. I’m rather surprised it didn’t do better box office numbers - I blame the Tom backlash (you know, the Dawson/Batman’s girlfriend thing).

I did have an interesting time yesterday. I ran out early to our local Best Buy to pick up that new Nintendo DS Lite. I wasn’t a big Nintendo fan for years after that GameCube business. But after going to E3 (the video game industry convention) my mind changed about the company. So far, I like the thing. My wife and I were playing that game Brain Age yesterday and it turns out, I currently have the mind of a 58 year old (That’s not a good thing). My wife’s Brain Age is 47. Afterwards, I took my old brain and played Mario Cart DS with some Frenchies in France. (over the Internet on the game units Wi-Fi connection). How high-tech am I? Well, pretty high tech for a 57 year old.

Last night our little community had yet another Neighborhood Watch meeting with the local Police department. With the recent home break-ins in the area (2 houses and 2 cars in the last 7 months) we villagers have gotten pretty angry (P.O.’d…yes, we are!) and have formed neighbor patrols at night between the hours of 1:30-5:30 AM (the times of the crimes). They’ve been going on for 3 months now with the same 8 guys. The police were pretty impressed and told us that if the hamburglar was still around he’ll likely get caught and sent to jail from all the participation. But just after the sergeant comments I heard 3 fella’s shout out, “When we catch ‘em, then we’ll lynch ‘em!!” and everybody yelled “Hooray!!” Then they asked for “all the men” to sign up to for at least 1 patrol a week (2 guy teams) posted on a tree. They’ll even provide you with a Maglite, but you have to provide your own crowbar (I made that part up). I told them I’d only go out if I can have a torch, wear war paint and dreadlock wig, and be addressed only as “Gwar”.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Costco and Local Celebrity Shoppers

My wife and I are not Costco members, but we get most of the benefits when we ask co-worker friends to take us shopping there during lunch. I mean, seriously, the diapers are much cheaper than anywhere else on the planet. As it’s fun to look at the random stuff that you never thought you needed (like an “18-foot high inflatable waterslide” or “10,000 candlelight spotlight” that operates from a car’s cigarette lighter) but would never really buy.
Our local Costco, near work, is in Burbank and going for lunch is always crowded. Not only are all the senior citizens there hanging out at all the free samples stations, but also you get everybody on their 2-hour lunch rushing in and rushing out.
Today we saw a local morning news celebrity, Michaela Pereira, at the checkout line and my wife and I couldn’t help to see what she was buying -why not? Which happened to be a cart full of alcohol. From the looks of it, you would think she was partying later tonight with Liz Taylor and David Hasselhoff (wow, wouldn’t that be a party!). In her defense and being the morning news watchers that we are, she was planning a friend’s 40th birthday over the weekend. But given the looks of other people, seniors and industry-types, they all had the look of “wow-that chick must have problems!”.

We've got ourselves a "Little Parrot"

So the mini has been trying to talk for some time now, but last night my wife said something with the word "Up" and the mini immediately repeated it back, clearly. And she kept repeating it over, and over, and over again until she fell asleep.
Over the weekend, she was pointing at another kid around her age and would clearly say "Baby", and then she would point to some random woman and say the same thing.
It's pretty weird when this little thing starts talking, I never really put much thought into it, but somehow before becoming a Dad, I thought they just started talking maybe saying stuff like saying "Dad, go fetch your own beer, dammit". Well, no not really (and I wouldn't ask such a thing), but as a guy you don't go around pondering the learning/developmental habits of infants until you become a Dad.
It's really tempting to teach her words like "freak" and "hippie" right now. I wouldn't mind her pointing at people and saying stuff like that, because people would just laugh and think it was cute. If I said that, I'd probably get dirty looks or worse, punched.

This Dad "Just says No" to Minivans and Station Wagons

Its not that I’m against other people buying the things, I just wouldn’t buy one. Even though I’ve had countless owners who’ve tried to “convince” me of their practical-ness, storage space, remote control doors, child silencers (I made that one up), etc. I still think they’re horrid excuses for transportation. They’re downright ugly and horribly designed, yes, even the Honda and Toyota ones. I had to drive my in-laws minvan once and it was a scary experience. My response is why not just get an SUV or one of those miniature SUV’s. In fact, I think the reason SUV’s were so popular for years was because of people like me who hated the alternatives of minivans or station wagons…well, at least until gas prices went up.

My perspective has changed “a little”... My wife and I have an aging SUV that’s over 8 years old and like recent pictures of Jerry Lewis, is starting to show really bad signs of aging. We hardly drive the thing anymore since we bought our “family-friendly” MINI Cooper (that’s a little joke). And also, every time I take the thing farther than 20 miles from the house, I get visions of calling AAA to pick me up.
So of course I have been thinking about this and its future replacement. Seriously, what guy doesn’t like looking around for cars? My first choice is a Porsche Cayenne, but the wife thinks there’s something not “family-like” zipping around in a Porsche (Uh…you should see the looks we get now carting a baby around in a MINI). And the gas thing is an issue (we’re in California -$3.30/gallon is considered a bargain).

Recently I stumbled upon BMW’s version of a wagon; well “sports sedan”, as they call it and not really a wagon (I’m wagon prejudice). It could also be the fact that it’s a BMW that really makes the car intriguing. No "Brady Bunch" factor there.

Shorts/Pants with Words

Can anybody tell me why -- shorts and sweatpants with words that say stuff like “Juicy” or now with school team names “Wildcats” across the butt? These were once made for the older crowd but have somehow made their way down to the young kids.
Honestly, you’re just making it O.K. for guys to take a good look at and check out your butt. Speaking as a guy here - if you’re older (like J-Lo) and want guys to check out your caboose, sure go for it. If you’re a parent, don’t buy your kids this stuff. Somehow I’m noticing it’s the hoochie-looking moms (you know, the ones who live vicariously through their daughters) who let their daughters wear this stuff.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

National Accordion Awareness Month & Me

How could I have forgotten! Actually, I never knew they had a “month” until I heard a story on NPR’s Day to Day. I have this strange l love-hate thing with accordions, you see, when I was a kid (around 9-10) I wanted to take Piano lessons just like all the other kids at school and around the neighborhood. Call it peer-pressure or “the piano-renaissance of ‘84”, or Van Halen’s synthesizer riff “jump” I’m not sure which. But I really wanted to take lessons - bad. I did what any other kid does in these situations, begged my parents and grandma.
I’m not sure how it happened but one Saturday morning (during cartoons!) my Dad took my brother and I to some nearby industrial park. We walked into a non-descript building and inside were small kids with huge boxes –accordions – and an old guy who looked EXACTLY like Geppetto (from Disney’s Pinocchio, white mustache, glasses and all). I remember thinking What the..? Well, not really more like “I don’t get it? This ain’t no piano, pops?!”. Thus, began my accordion career. O.K. so no career, but living a secret life of taking lessons and practicing accordion while hiding it from other kids. My brother and I were ashamed of our (used) accordions (I yelled at it on occasion “I HATE you stupid accordion!! You smell like great-grandma!!”) and we never spoke of “the accordion” during school or anytime else. It was like a dirty secret for around 2 years. My only joy came sometime in ’85 when I started playing Depeche Mode songs on the smelly box. This proved to give me some enjoyment playing songs from “Some Great Reward” and later “Catching Up” albums.
And quite honestly, you’ve never really heard “See You” unless it’s being played on an accordion. But being 11-12 years old, you just can’t walk around outside or into the schoolyard and play it for your friends (I had a reputation to live up to and I didn’t want to get beat-up).
Fast forward to college, well, Art School (Calarts)- I was sitting in the dorm hall, probably eating Cheetos or something like that, and some music student walked in jamming on something. I immediately had flashbacks and my heart pounded hoping no one would notice me and “out” my accordion skills (I don’t know? Maybe accordion players had some “look”?), but to my surprise people got up and were like “Dude, You Rock!!” to the guy. My view of the accordion changed; I got up some courage and was like “Hey Hippie Dude, Let me try the shiny box out”. I did, and played “Just Can’t Get Enough” a little bad at first…but good enough to get chicks screaming in excitement, throwing their underwear at me! No, not really, but people were thrilled and really surprised.

I’m no longer ashamed of the accordion, so if there’s ever a need for a “Depeche Mode playing accordion player” I’ll be ready. I can even start the set with “New Life”.

Kindergarten Graduation?

So we went to yet another kids birthday party over the weekend (they seem like every weekend now) and some parents were talking about their 5-6 year olds upcoming “cap and gown” graduation ceremonies. I’m might be going out on a ledge here, but why? What’s so significant about graduating kindergarten? All they have to do is “show-up” for a few hours a day, color, sing songs, play “duck, duck, goose”, learn the alphabet, etc. So? When I was that age all I got was a certificate that said, “(blank) is ready for 1st grade” In fact, I think we had to write in our own names. And I think there was a picture of Big Bird on it too. That thing hung on the fridge until it “mysteriously disappeared” like all fridge art usually did.

If somebody invites us to a kindergarten graduation party, I’m boycotting. We already have too many other kid birthday parties going on.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Children's Nuclear/Biological/ Chemical Protection

You know how toddlers play Fireman, Batman, Pirate, Princess, or some these days Paris Hilton? Well, you can now add 'homeland security operator' or 'biological aid worker' to the list. A place out in the UK is selling this kid-sized gas hood (with blower airflow unit) for around $600 US dollars. Kids can even make the experience even more fun (and be the envy of the other neighborhood children) by completing the set with some night vision and Counter-surveillance equipment. Modern day kids have all the cool toys.

Childs Gas Hood @ Spycatcher

Friday, June 02, 2006

So your kid is gifted? O.K. whatever.

I’m always hearing from other parents how their kid is somehow gifted or way ahead everybody else’s, like “my kid could change his own diaper at 6-months” or “my kid walked when the cord was cut…then paid the hospital bill”. Yeah, these are exaggerations, but if you’re new to the parenting thing you’ve probably heard this in some form or another. I know I have since day 2. It may just be normal competitiveness, mutated X-Men genes, or some people actually really push their kids to become Doogie Houser M.D. by kindergarten.
I came across this pretty entertaining article from Parent Center on school age giftedness. I say entertaining because its criteria are 5-years old who can “perform mathematical calculations in her head”, or “Thinks abstractly… advanced mathematical and linguistic concepts and can talk about such complex issues as ethics, morality, and religion”. Honestly, I just view kids like this as freaks and feel pretty sorry for them because more than likely they have parents who are depriving them of childhood.
I’ve been teaching an art class once a week for nearly 3-years now and I came across a kid like this once and he had trouble talking/relating to kids his own age. Even ones a few years older and wouldn’t you know it - he had parents that really encouraged this. In my humble opinion, I was surprised the kid could even operate a door handle.

Disney Channel Shows on the Internet

So sometime today Disney Channel will start playing a few of their full-length TV shows on the internet for free (well, with commercials). Personally, I think this idea is pretty cool. I really wish they would show some of their Playhouse Disney shows online for those times I’m on the computer with my daughter - I usually end up on the Boobah website (she loves it, but it gives me a headache) or popping in the Baby Einstein DVD crack as a last resort and minimize the screen.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I knew it! Batwoman is a lesbian

Well, no, I actually didn’t until today when DC comics revealed her “secret”. But apparently she had a relationship with lesbian former police detective Renee Montoya. I wonder if Batman knew this? I bet Robin did and has already bought a t-shirt from Don't Panic.
Next thing you know, she'll be moving to West Hollywood, drive a Saab, play a mean game of Pool, make some pretty good cocktails, and maybe one day settle down with a partner and get artificially inseminated. Batbaby shall be its name...
The return of Batwoman - as a lesbian socialite

Prince Albert of Monaco has a daughter in SoCal

So the guy had a fling with a waitress from Riverside in 1991 and makes another love child. If I'm not mistaking, I think they've made a Disney movie about this already called 'The Princess Diaries'...? I can't wait until Julie Andrews tries to clean her up. Because those Riverside kids need all the help they can get.

SoCal Teen's Dad a Prince of a Fella'