Thursday, May 24, 2007

Random Thoughts Just Before Vacation...

Pencil sharpeners come with instructions?
Yes, and in 8 languages too. My old electric sharpener at work died after 6 years of dedicated service. Today I finally got my replacement, and it came with instructions. Like a dork, thinking it had some special magical powers like bill pay, I read them:
1. Insert plug in nearest outlet.
2. Insert pencil into the opening (oh, so that’s where it goes..?) Motor will start.
3. Remove sharpened pencil.
Save these instructions for future reference. (Recycle logo)

When I’m an Old and Can't Smell My Cologne Anymore
I was tagged by Mamalee for this.
When I am an old, I hope to:
1. Have Robotic parts that allow me to finally crush beer cans in my hand. Or at least on my steel forehead.
2. Have a walking cane with a brass goose head (which removes to reveal a flask) and has a retractable knife at the bottom to scare away rowdy teenagers.
3. To be addressed as "Dr." or "old wise one" to friends, family and strangers. And only as "The Punisher" to enemies.
4. Have lots of grandkids who will want to visit me (the "Dr.") for my ability to make balloon animals, perform magic tricks, and to hear my heroric War stories (of wars I was never in.)

When I am an old, I will not:
1. Still never buy credit card protection insurance.
2. Use a wheelchair or one of those "little rascal" motor chairs (...unless it fly's)
Start complaining about the government (I can do that now)
Use my magic and balloon making powers for evil. EVER!

Invisalign Update
I’ve promised a few of you awhile back for an update on my Invisalign experience (or as I like to call it “ma’ grillzs.....ahhhh yeeeah!" *big grin*)
I’m on week 10 and I think they’re working. They must be because every time I put in a new aligner it hurts for the first two days (nothing a little Motrin and some Vodka won't fix.) The upside so far:
1. It’s working
2. Aligners don’t affect my “speech” anymore.
3. Can’t really tell they’re there anymore.

1. Eating is a pain; in fact I recommend these for weight loss because you really have to think about snacking (is it really worth the trouble of taking them out and then cleaning the teeth, again and again.)
2. The 'tooth sanding'. The dentist sands in-between the teeth so they can move- very weird.
3. The first week - getting use to taking them on and off without sheer pain. After a week it's no problem anymore.
So far, until “lasers”, yoga, or David Copperfield can correct teeth - they're by far the best choice without looking like a dork in your 30's with a metal mouth.

Just another guy named “Tony” at the Italian festival
Yup, that was me on Saturday at a local Italian festival. I wanted to introduce my daughter to a little family heritage (the 1/4th of me that’s Italian; 1/8 in her…does that even mean anything anymore these days?) I’m probably better off just taking her to Italy or maybe Disney's Epcot because Italian heritage in L.A. is pretty sad.
The "festival" was very ghetto, they didn’t even serve any Chianti (only Australian Yellowtail? What's up with that!?) The pizza could be mistaken for Pizza Hut and the sandwiches resembled Subway. And don’t even get me started on the Gelato – they had “basic” flavors like strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate – that's not real Gelato! Where's Amaretto or Hazelnut? My grandmother would have slapped everybody and made them all do push-ups.

Fiji vacation begins Friday night (meca leca hi, meka hiney ho!)

We leave for Fiji and I couldn’t be more thrilled. The wife and I desperately need a vacation away from work and our normal "groundhog day" routine. I’m just going to sit on a beach, eat, drink, sketch, and watch my daughter play in the sand with endangered turtles. (I mean seriously... what kid wouldn’t want to play with endangered turtles, right?)
I am taking my laptop; apparently private islands have Wi-Fi now, so I may end up posting pictures of things like island villagers, beaches, and us painting endangered turtles. Or I may not, and just sleep (you can do that kind of thing on vacation without getting fired.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Warning: The Car Radio Has Been Taken Over By a Toddler

I'm not quite sure yet, but I probably made the biggest parenting mistake ever.
I thought it would be fun to buy some songs off iTunes of my daughter’s favorite Playhouse Disney shows to be played in the car on occasion when NPR does some boring story about melting glaciers and drowning tigers in Las Vegas, Iraq.

I had no idea I was opening Pandora’s box that would ultimately release an angry demon that spits fire and ash when the DJ (me) isn’t spinning the correct tune and releases shrills of fury when I don’t clap along with the song (I SAID CLAP!!... CLAP NOW HUMAN or feel all the wrath which is I....*hiss*..!!)

That’s not even the worse of it -- now I have these songs stuck in my head all day long (Hot Diggity Dog! All aboard the Choo-choo train! Get on the bus!!….But, but... I can’t get on the bus..I don't know where it is!?)
Why do they haunt me during normal business hours?! Oh yeah, they have simple tunes and catchy lyrics (kind of like Debbie Gibson songs.)

I blame you Debbie Gibson!

On the upside it is pretty adorable seeing my daughter (nearing 2) trying to sing a song. She sounds kind of like that William Hung guy – except she’s much cuter and has much better pronunciation and dexterity. She even does some choreography in her car seat - guess who taught her how to do Jazz hands" and Nomi's X-arms?

I now wonder if I’ll ever get control of the car radio again. I long for the days of listening to NPR --- people complaining or heartfelt stories about some poor guy with no arms who learns how to play the fiddle.
Life was so much happier then.

Hey fiddler! Play "Fruit Salad" and "Hot Potato" for me, O.K.?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

When Mommy’s Gone, It’s Gummy Bears and Ice Cream for Breakfast (Hooray!)

Single parents, I empathize with you. I just don’t understand how in the world do you do it. And especially those with small kids --- you people are either crazy or deserve a medal (and a cookie -- a good one from Nordstrom's, or J.C. Penny's)

The wife’s job sent her to Canada early Sunday morning and pretty much left me to play the role of single parent for a few days. Which meant more 'daddy and daughter time' other than my normal one day a week when the wife is studying for her GMAT. I do pretty well on those days. In fact, some might say almost at a 'professional' level.
I didn’t do too bad on the first solo day (piece of cake!), did alright on the second (how in the world am I going to get these tangles out of her hair!), and today, well now I’m counting the hours until the wife gets back. This morning I forgot “the stinky blanket” (the whole world stops if “the stinky blanket” isn’t around) and gave in to her breakfast demands of popcorn ("crackcorn" as she calls it.)
Today when our sitter saw my daughter she told me that she could tell mommy wasn’t around (How? Can she smell the Chicken McNuggets odor?)

It’s tough doing simple things that I once took for granted, like going to the bathroom in peace. Unless, of course, I want to hear screams (DAD-DEEEEE!!!) accompanied by pounding and little fingers and toes sliding under the closed door like an alien trying to attack and then eat me.

No sir-ee, it just ain’t right.

Yesterday while my daughter was playing in her toy kitchen I made a run for the “Loo”, the screaming followed me (HA! - I can still run faster!) When I closed and locked the door behind me the yelling stopped followed by a mysterious silence (is she alright? Maybe I should check on her…? But I really, really have to's been , like 2 days and I ate Chili Beans for breakfast---why!?) Then she slid her poopie book (the potty training one we use when we put her on the toilet) under the door and said “Daddeee here, poo-peeee!” and then I heard feet running back to her room while singing her poopie song.

That was weird...

I still haven’t been able to take away “the stinky blanker” to throw it in the washer machine (she sleeps with it in a tight kung-foo grip.) I still can’t fix her hair -- It’s just not humanly possible! She's looking like a mini version of Phil Spector. And her diet consist of popcorn, goldfish, tortilla chips, and freezed-dried peas (Yes! veggies...success!!)
The wife is sure going to love me when she gets back.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother’s Day 2007: The Canadian Tour - What Would Celine Do?

This was the wife’s 2nd official Mother’s Day and sadly we were unable to give it the proper celebration it rightfully deserved.

Her somewhat new crazy boss (a bizarre middle-aged, childless, workaholic woman – the kind who’s waiting for her penis to grow in…) decided that Mother’s Day would be a great day to make the wife leave for Quebec on a business trip. This was something that could have literally have been planned anytime, you know, like tomorrow or even later in the day.
I’m not saying this to be insulting, but I’m sure glad my boss isn’t a woman. Well, let me be more specific - not all woman only this breed of 'woman boss'.
This crazy lady purposely pulls this stuff all the time; it’s literally like an adult version of “Mean Girls.”
Most men bosses would never pull the kind of stuff (mind games, secret wars, calls at 10:30pm, making co-worker alliances then moving in for the kill…!) I’m not sure if I’ve just been lucky, but all of my men (and one woman) bosses throughout the years have been very accommodating, especially if it involved anything that has to do with family or holidays (like Mother’s Day.)

Anyhow, enough griping this is Mother’s Day…

Early in the morning we made a mad dash for a quick breakfast and then headed off to Air Canada’s LAX terminal where we saw about 6 police cars and 12 airport police take away a woman in handcuffs (I wondered if she was Canadian or a mother….OR a Canadian mother?)

Later, my daughter and I met my grandfather and his "lady"-friend (she’s like 70 - I can’t call her “girl”…it’s too weird) at the Huntington Library in San Marino. This was the place the wife and I had planned on visiting, so it was a little odd being there without her.
The day turned out to be perfect 78-degree weather. I haven’t been to the place since moving out of the Pasadena area around 6 years ago. They’ve built a lot in a few years and are building more – Chinese Gardens, some fancy Jungle Arboretum with LCD panels of plants and underwater remote-control fish cameras (with a “fire” button that makes them shoot “lasers”! – I wish…), new giant gallery space, and a really fancy children’s garden that my daughter absolutely went crazy for.
Oh yeah, and the price of admission nearly doubled. Although, I didn’t mind since the place is pretty nice, had more, and is definitely worth future visits.
I still don’t know why they call it a “Library”, from what I know – there is a small Library somewhere on the 120 acres but us “normal folks” can’t visit (I don’t know -- maybe the invited scholars don’t like to share?) The whole place is basically a HUGE park mixed with galleries and themed gardens, reminds me kind of like Shinjuku Gyoen park in Toyko or Disneyland.
Maybe they call it “Library” to keep the rowdy teenagers away – at least, that’s my theory for today.

And to my wife…
I really missed her today. Not only is she an incredible wife, she’s also a remarkable mother (…and she’ll be even more wonderful if she brings me back something cool from Canada -- like beaver bacon or Canadian moonshine…)

And our daughter?
She’s not even 2 yet, so she doesn’t know mommy’s crazy, mean boss made mommy go away to Canada on Mother’s Day to visit Canadians.
When I had her give my wife a card (one she colored) she yelled “Happy Birthday Mommy!!”

Thursday, May 10, 2007

HELP! Aliens Abducted My Sweet Baby Girl And Replaced Her With A Toddler!

Hurry! Call Moulder, Oprah, Velma, Inspector Gadget, Antonio Villaraigosa, and maybe even Dr. Spock (you know the one with the elf ears.)

I think the incident happened sometime last weekend; I’m not sure exactly when, maybe while I was sleeping , or ordering some popcorn chicken at KFC (darn you KFC! First my chicken changes and then my kid!) My daughter began doing the most peculiar things - things completely out of the ordinary that were unheard of 2 weeks ago.
The weird part is that she still looks the same, my pleasant little baby girl (perhaps a little taller, less baby dimples around the arms and knees...) with that laugh and smile that makes me melt into a big softy. But now, there’s this shift in attitude as if something takes over her brain and turns it into a demanding teenager -- and she’s not even 2 yet! It just doesn’t make any sense... (head in hands)

(Peeking into her room slowly)

Me: Good morning!
Daughter: (happy. confusion. then eyes turn red) I WANT MOMMY! I WANT MOMMMMMY!!!

(wife comes in calmly, picks her up. still for 2 seconds....hisses at me…)

Daughter: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I WANT DADDY! I WANT DADDY!! (dark clouds form in room, fire engages from mouth, stuffed animals burning in hot lava – starts speaking in latin "Necronomcon ex Mortis…")


Do you want peas?
Daughter: NO!!!!
Me: O.K.

(3-second pause)

Daughter: I WANT PEAS!! (crying, whining) I WANT PEASsss!! (knocking over things, arms flailing all over the place with no place to go - like a Paula Abdul backup dancer.)


Time to brush your teeth..!
Daughter: (Jaguar growl, then climbs the wall on all fours to the ceiling, spewing acid at me below - grabbing towels for protection while Lorena Mckennitt music plays in the background…)

It has to be aliens, right? Or possibly some brainwashing by Elmo (I never did like his whiny voice - he's telling kid subliminal messages - I just know it!!)
Fellow parents, when does it end? I want my baby girl back...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

An Open Letter To The Great Creator Of Chicken In A Bucket - Colonel Sanders

Dear Colonel,

We both may have lived in entirely different generations, but we both share great love of a time among southern accents, white suits, an original recipe of 11 unknown herbs and spices, and above all - the perfection of deep frying in a sweet treat of pure American fat.

Today, for the first time ever, I tried your organizations “new” non-trans fat chicken. To be more specific --Popcorn Chicken (by the way, I love the mini popcorn bucket concept you came up with) and let me just say it doesn't still have that great taste I've grown to love. Actually it taste like nothing. Yes sir, like nothing. In fact, Tofurky carries more flavoring (although I've never actually tried that horrid stuff.)
It may look like chicken and come in a package with your image on it - but it sure doesn’t taste like anything you would have ever approved of.

While eating this blasphemy, I reflected on so many happy moments with your chicken throughout my life. As a small child, my mother coming home late from work smelling like alcohol -- but stopping for a bucket along the way would make things feel better (“Sorry kids, I got another flat tire again…”). Grandma telling me my father was in a car accident – but a stop to the local KFC on the way to the hospital to sneak dad a chicken wing would cheer us all up (“feed it to me son....I can’t move my hands right now...”) In my school-age years, being the new kid on campus (again) bringing a bucket to the 'cool kids’ house for a pool party would instantly produce new friends (“hey chicken guy! Yeah you- you’re totally awesome!”) As a teenager, getting my acceptance letter into art school and celebrating down at the local KFC with the neighborhood goth kids, yelling and jumping on the chairs (“DM 101 Rocks! And so does this chicken!”)
So many memories and now it comes to an end.

When I was done (no finger-lickin' this time) for a moment I saw your image on the box cry. Yes, cry - with tears of blood (or spilled BBQ sauce.)

Just like that “new” Coke experiment, I hope your corporate management sees the error of their ways and brings back the original (maybe you need to haunt the headquarters to shake things up a bit – be sure to use a deep moaning voice and fireworks.)

But until that day comes, I’m going to Popeyes and making new memories.

Your biggest fan,

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

When Talents Were Handed Out, I Passed On Car Repair and Sports.

I was stalled on the freeway this morning for about 45 minutes before the AAA tow truck arrived - all because my 9-year-old Jeep Grand Cherokee’s transmission decided to die.

There I was going about my normal ritual of listening to “the history of bumblebee mating calls” or something like that on NPR (not sure since I usually “zone-out” anyways until some interesting topic comes up.) Next thing you know, my car was coasting as if an alien mothership was hovering above me and stole the power (or all of my $3.49 a gallon gas – stupid aliens!)

On the way to the Jeep dealer, my Armenian tow-truck driver was talking into his cell phone the whole trip speaking in his secret language. I had the crazy suspicion he was talking about me. Why? Because he kept glancing my way, and then would whisper as if I wouldn't understand his mumbling. I don’t know Armenian but I can understand when somebody is talking about me in another language (it’s a superpower of mine - kind of like invisibility or impersonating a Bee-Gee.)
When we arrived at the dealer, the first words I hear from the service guy's mouth was “Hey Buddy! Why don’t you just get a new Jeep….I can show you some out on the lot”.
No dude, just fix my car. I do not want a car payment, I do not want to walk the lot, I do not like your shirt. I do not like the Beatles, and I do not like green eggs and ham!!
When the wife picked me up from that horrible place, my stomach sank and I immediately got that feeling as if I were the “new guy with the Tom Selleck mustache” just about to take my first prison shower. I knew they were going to give it to me.
And they did - $4,100 (more than the car’s worth.) But since the guy thought I “was cool” (maybe it was my haircut, or lack thereof) he was going to knock off 10% (still a little more than what the car’s worth.)

Why didn’t they just take my kidney and steal my cookie!? (I screamed to the heavens above...!)

I hate to say it, but I’m attached to the car. I bought it just before the ‘sexy-lady who would become my wife’ moved out here from Paris (not the Texas one.) We drove the car on our wedding day to the hotel and then to the airport for our honeymoon. We packed and moved into our first house in it. We’ve taken it on road trips to far away places and on camping trips to the mountains (we would get rained on and then retreat to the back of the jeep.) We drove our newborn daughter home in it for the very first time (I still remember that day as if were yesterday…) I’m not a sentimental, emotional, sappy guy - but the thing is part of the family.
So while the wife and I were researching options of what to do --buy another car? (No, we’re going to Fiji in a few weeks and the money-tree ain’t producing no mo’!) Sell it to that mechanic at the dealer with two gold teeth who offered $700? (never trust a dude with gold teeth -- unless, of course, there's a grill that says “money”.)

I just couldn’t do it.

Thankfully, a longtime friends’ dad (an amazing guy that I’ve known for years since college who practically knows everything “real guys” should know - like how to change oil or make steak chili) happens to have a friend who owns a shop, offered to fix the car for much less than the dealer.
I jumped at it! Why? Because I’m attached to it, just like old underwear.

I can’t be the only one, right?