His words, not mine

Atticus Flinch

Atticus, follow the ball!

Atticus, support your teammate!

Atticus, two hands!

Atticus, Wake Up!

Now these were only a few things screamed at poor little Atticus by what appeared to be dad/coach/bullhorn on the other side of the soccer field. There were much more, but like Atticus, I wearily zoned most of it out. We all felt sorry for the pasty little thing and secretly hoped his team would win so that Atticus might get some pizza and ice cream after the game. We all had a feeling that losers don't get pizza and ice cream in the Atticus household.

Although, if you are going to grow up to a be a parent/coach/bully, I can't think of a name better suited for screaming across the soccer field.




Can't whisper "Atticus" It has to come from deep in the diaphragm.

Can't shorten or abbreviate Atticus.




Atticus is as much a declaration as it is a name. Strong, indistinguishable, non-comparable. Yet it compels me to wonder how Atticus came by his declarative first name.

It clearly wasn't the first choice of Dad/Coach/BugelHorn.

The sons of Dad/Coach/FireAlarm have names like Jack, John, or Peter.

Cause Dad/Coach/Megaphone is a simple man. He would like simple manly names. Danny and Chuck. Donny and Joey.

No, Atticus was clearly named by his mother. And I doubt it was because she was devoted to medieval era religious figures or ancient greek philosophers or even much of a Harper Lee fan. I think she's always held a little girl crush for Gregory Peck.

Which is perfectly reasonable.

Even I have a little girl crush on Gregory Peck.

It's impossible not to.

And you can see it in the broad shoulders, chiseled chin, and thick dark hair of Dad/Coach/HumpbackBlowHole. There's no actual resemblance, just enough body type for when the sun goes down.

Which is a terrible thing to say.

I take it back.

And I don't really mean to poke my "elitist stick" at parents who shout loud things at referees and eight year old children. I have a ton of friends and loved ones who enjoy getting super vocal at sporting events.

Let it rip, I say.

Sure I feel bad for your children, who end up going through life with daddy issues and inferiority complexes, but that just gives my own children a leg up in the future workforce of America. Which as we all know is going to be very competitive.

And I shouldn't be mocking anyone for name choice. I named my own child after a comic strip. (Although, if pressed, I will make up a whole bunch of stories, up to and including a love affair with high quality underwear model or a chance run in with the wide receiver for the Detroit Lions)

But Calvin turned out to be a Calvin. From the wild imagination to the astoundingly adroit philosophical observations. He's more Elven Warrior than Spaceman Spiff, but he loves sugary cereals and YouTube is just a modern incarnation of saturday morning cartoons.

Atticus did not strike me as an Atticus.

A Paul maybe. Or a Gunter. Sam? Definitely a name that suggests a fondness for chicken nuggets and chocolate milk.

Atticus' don't eat chicken nuggets.

Atticus' should live off the fear of their enemies.

Atticus is going to have to grow up to be 6'5", darken his hair, and learn how to speak softly in broken english.

"I am Atticus." he will say to the college girls "Take me someplace warm."

Or maybe he will become a poet and change his name to an ingredient in his favorite food.

Red Dye Number Five.

Or maybe, mostly probably, he will grow up to become the kind of guy that roams the halls of his high school knocking books out of people's arms, chewing his pizza with his mouth open and searching inwardly for unconditional love.

He'll pretend to punch you in the face, wait for you to jerk back and then give you two quick, but surprisingly painful jabs to the shoulder.

"Two for flinching" he'll say "Two for flinching"

Even at thirteen you'll feel sorry for the dude cause you know how hard it has become for him to run laps during P.E. How he tries to hide the sweat line under his belly. How girls don't talk to him and how teachers roll their eyes when he asks questions. He'll always be on a sports team (Catcher, Offensive Line), but the camaraderie will be left on the field and he'll try to take part in the shenanigans, but the rest of the group will most likely inch him to a quiet place in the back of the bus.

Poor Atticus, you'll say when you read his obituary on Facebook.

Should have listened to your Dad and followed the ball.

Ridiculously Early Five

Why yes, I am totally aware of the fact that I'm super late with writing the Friday Five and that my chosen topic is getting places early, so the irony is not lost. 

But I'm at tonight's venue 30 minutes before sound check and there's a good possibility I won't be going on for two hours. Yup. 

I'm early. 

Which I know sometimes drives my wife a ittle nuts, but there are reasons for my obsessive punctuality:

1. I get super ragy when I'm running late. 
You'll know I by the fact that drive like I'm in a high speed chase. 

2. I hate when other people are late. 
So many years of being up at 4 am have ruined my chill. 

3. I hate pacing at home. 
Ill pace anywhere else and be just fine. But when I pace at home I end up eating too much left over burrito. 

4. Contingency. 
Things go wrong. All the damn time. Either go nuts over-planning or just show up early enough to fix it. 

5. My wife's pretty, regardless
And the longer she takes in the bathroom the more concerned she gets over hair styles and panty lines. Lighting a little fire means I have to pretend to notice things a lot less. 

Breakout Potential

So I don't usually write about my fantasy football team for two reasons:

One, it's not really all that funny,

and two,

My chief demographic are moms 25-52 and couldn't care less that Doug Martin's nickname is "The Muscle Hamster" and that he was injured this week and that his back-up is no longer available on the waiver wire.

Probably don't even care what a waiver wire is.

Get well soon Muscle Hamster.

Yet something kinda odd happened this weekend which has been rolling around in my head for the last 24 hours.

You see, this weekend, my team was primed for an awesome win.

The whole group has been right on the cusp, and by right on the cusp, I mean that they have pretty much sucked all season long and each and every one of them was due for a big blowout game.

This was gonna be my week.

But the exact opposite happened.

Not only was every member of my team not good, it is almost statistically impossible to have scored as low as I scored this week.

A freakish mathematical anomaly of suckage.

And all I keep thinking is "What exactly were the steps, the decisions, the thought processes that lead to the most historic low score in league history?"

How could my team possibly be this ridiculously bad?

Especially, and this is what is killing me, especially since this is almost exactly the team I was hoping to get after a month or two of some pretty heavy research and speculation.

My chickens just won't hatch.

And I'm getting hungry.

So last night, I went back a bit to look at where, why, and how I made the picks I made, for there are all kinds of different attributes that go into drafting players, and when it turns out that you've single handedly drafted the worst possible with the best intentions, it might be time to rethink everything.

So I looked back and I found it. I found my Achilles heal.

As I said, there are all kinds of attributes to sift through, and to a data collector like myself, a set of statistics makes me as giddy as my wife with a new episode of Downton Abbey. And when you're dealing with all kinds of possible outcomes, as an analyst, you kind of have to decide which attribute is going to be the most effective. Which trait is going to be the leading indicator of future success.

For me, this year, every choice was skewed toward breakout potential.

Take everything into consideration except, and this is hysterical, take everything into consideration except past performance.

Pick the guys who were statistically primed for the best season of their careers.

I didn't want a fleet of mini-vans, or pick-up trucks, or classic muscle cars, or a combination thereof,

I wanted rocket ships.

And all of them, with the exception of a few well timed ignitions, blew up on the launch pad.

Cause I didn't go with the guys that were great, I went with the guys that were supposed to hopefully be great.

Interesting, right?

I guess that's where my head is at.

Cause, as of September 6th 2013, I'm totally betting my life and the lives of just about everyone around my that I am supposed to hopefully be great at the dream I've always dreamed of doing. And when you deal in magic, you start to see omens everywhere, and the complete implosion of my fake football team sends this monster metaphoric signal to my sub conscience that I and the rest of the Partridge Family are doomed.

Doomed, I tell you, doomed!

But that's just stupid.

Even if it takes me a day or two to work out how stupid that is.

Cause the fake football game is really fun when you win, and it's really fun when you lose (it's just funner to win), but winning or losing doesn't make the games less exciting, or the data mining and speculation any less fun. Everybody wakes up Tuesday morning looking to the next week.

And living the dream is fun. It's fun when you have success, and when you fail, at least you get to sleep in, and if "Wait . . . Dad?" implodes in real life that way it has in Yahoo's Fantasy Football game, then gee whiz Mr. Cleaver, I guess I'll have to go back to the cushy middle class life where I teach people about coffee and tea. Bummer.

But those two things are mutually exclusive.

Like soccer moms and muscle hamsters.

Fifteen to Showtime Five


So I gots about fifteen minutes before I get into the car and hustle to my next gig.

Tonight at 6:00 (incase you was wondering)


I thought rather than pacing back and forth waiting for Joann to find a top that makes her look eighteen again, I would post up a few of my favorite pre show rituals.

Of which there are five:

1. Sleep In
There are a lot of chores that you can't really do prior to performing, so there's really no need to be that early worm. You don't want to tax your voice, break a nail, or (and this is totally true) throw out your back trying to change the tire on your 1963 Ford Galaxie. That was one strange show, where I had to be carried on stage and then carried off again. Anyway, not much to do besides pace and read and make every else as nervous as you are. So hit the snooze alarm till at least 10:47am.

2. Eat a Big Lunch
Tummy's gonna be too queesy for pasta carbonara late in the afternoon, so go ahead and splurge those calories with an extra side of fries around noon. You're gonna be starving after the show, so plan an exit strategy.

3. Sit ups
Learned this after a dance class got in the way of my sleeping in once. A hard core workout releases that lower shakra and puts your diaphragm in the right place.

4. Luxuriate in the Hygene
Long hot shower. Clip toenails. put a little extra gel in your hair and weazle the lint out of your belly button. The person on stage is a lie. make it a pretty lie.

5. Have fun
Or, as my best friend John said to me exactly thirty seconds before we walked out onstage to a crowd of 2,000 people, "This is supposed to be fun, so try not to fuck it up for the rest of us, Josh."

See you on Monday :)

A little game called Pepper

My Father-Law stole one of my red ripened jalapeños.

Right off the plant.

And it's the second time he's done that.

Drives me up the wall.

Now, it's important whenever you get irrationally pissed off at people, to kind of take a step back and see things from their perspective, cause there is always (and I meant it, ALWAYS) a better solution than sitting around in your jammy pants ticked off and blogging about it.

[blogger takes deep breaths]

So for starters, the red ripened jalapeños are considered "over ripe" and some insist that they are less hot and less sweet, though some insist the exact opposite. All I know is that they are pretty. And I've got one last big harvest of jalapeños before the season comes to a full close and I was planning on going full "Portlandia" and pickling them for future enjoyment. The red one's were going to add a nice little visual touch to a steaming hot plate of nachos.

There is no way for Vito to know this.

He cares nothing for plating techniques, and rarely eats nachos.

What he sees is fruit over-ripening on the plant and needs to be picked. And he was in the neighborhood. And, well, you know, why not?

His motives are filled with love and purity.

Which isn't true at all, but let's just believe that for a moment.

So what to do? What to do?

The simplest and best answer is to just ask him not to pick any of the red jalapeños. Yet, now that he's done it twice, it might send the wrong message, and I might inadvertently hurt his feelings, or worse, end up in a debate about the optimal time to pick jalapeños, when all I clearly want is for him to leave my peck of peppers alone for me to pickle.

"Pick 'em before he sees 'em" My wife says.

The passive aggressive act isn't always the correct one, but listening to your wife will always and forever be the smartest move a young man can make.

Can I call myself a "young man" anymore?

My father would say yes, but the gray in my beard clearly says no.

I should save that thought for next week.

So either I deal with it, or I "sorta" deal with it, or I just let it go.

You ever played an actual game of Pepper?

Where you're the runner between two people? And they're throwing the ball back and forth and you're trying not to get tagged out?

It's a game about commitment and error.

The throwers only have two choices: Throw the ball, don't throw the ball.

But the player in the middle has three: Run right, run left, or don't run.

The game only ends when the runner commits to run.

And the runner will only commit to the run when he/she sees that a thrower has made an error. Either the ball was thrown too slow, too high, out of the lane or dropped.

The runner decides when to end the game, but chance decides the out come.

Sort of a macabre distillation of life itself.

Yet, we really have to extend the metaphor out a bit, cause life isn't just a single game of Pepper.

Life is infinite games of Pepper.

Sure, sometimes you're playing Pepper in the sand lot, and sometimes in the ninth inning of the World Series, but it's still just a game of Pepper.

And here's the thing:

We all have multiple games of Pepper going on at the same time. Take anything you can think of regarding your life and there is a Yes, No, Maybe solution.

For instance, I want to use my red ripened jalapeños for some seriously awesome Super-Bowl Nachos. But if I bark at the old man, I could create familial tension, and as tough as it is to admit, his love is more important than a pretty plate of nachos. Even if only by a little.

But I know exactly when he's most likely going to show up in my back yard.

Sunday morning between the hours of 10:00am and 1:00pm.

So I have until about 9:45am to go out into my own backyard in my jammy pants and pick any over-ripened jalapeños myself.

His error,

my commitment

and the game continues forever.

And Joann gets to be right.

Five things P!NK

Went to see Pink in concert last night.

It was like a punk rock dance circus.

Easily one of the best shows I've ever seen.

And I learned a few things.

Five things, you might say, which I will make quick because it's getting late and I've got dinner to get to. (Barbecue chicken and mashed potatoes if you must know)

Number One:
I really need to put together an act that includes a 4' 7" asian girl who plays a hot pink Flying-V and sings back-up. This is a new must for me.

Number Two:
The last time I was in the Oakland Arena was in 1994 seeing Nirvana, which means that I am both really old, and need to get out of the house more often.

Number Three:
It is physically possible to sing a power ballad while spinning in three directions in an acrobat's rig one hundred feet above a crowd of thirty thousand people. I do not think I would have ever considered this, but I was both amazed by its execution and relieved that I would never have to do it myself.

Number Four:
Both Pink and I have a songwriter crush on the guy who wrote "Time After Time" for Cindy Lauper. It was the first song I ever heard where I suddenly understood how the crafting of lyric and melody can move you emotionally. Pink did an acoustic version of it sitting on the edge of the stage with her guitar player. Everyone sang along.

Number Five:
If you ever want to strike it rich in life you don't need a good idea. You don't need a good education, you don't need to work hard. You don't need talent and you certainly don't need sex appeal. No my friends, if you ever want to strike it rich in life, you need to sell Bud Light at a Pink Concert.

I guess, whatever.


Sup babe?

How come Calvin's not wearing a shirt?

Cause I put him in "Time Out" on the couch in the studio cause he was crying and running back and forth through the house and he took his shirt off and was pretending to throw it at me.

Did he? Did he throw it at you?



Calvin was crying today because he got a bad hair cut.

It wasn't that bad, and it certainly wasn't the worst.

The worst, of course being the time when I tried to do it myself and he ended up squirming so bad that we had to shave it all off. He was screaming, his mother was screaming and we ended up with a boy who looked like he had mange.

This one just gives him a page boy top with a surfer dude curly bottom.

It's not that noticeable, especially if you're like me and not the kind of person who notices those things.

So Joann comes in just now and tells me that his hair cut is really bad.

I guess, whatever.

Which is the only thing I ever say that makes her want to punch me in the uterus.

See, technically, I was the parent of record during the hair cut, which makes me the one who is ultimately responsible for things not turning out well. But, in my defense, I did every thing I could to ensure that the basic instructions were met, and by doing so, am bullet proof in the eyes of the lord.

I was to tell the hair cutterer to give his hair a nice trim and get it out of his eyes.

I relayed those instructions to the letter.

The hair cutterer, a big boned gal in her mid 20's, who clearly hated everything about her life, starting with her job and possibly ending with everything that ever happened on any day that doesn't end with Red Bull and vodka, did exactly what I told her.

She trimmed a bit and got his bangs out of his eyes.

It wasn't pretty and she was essentially done before I could finish an article on a local french restaurant that was very polite but rather short on praise, which I found interesting because the restaurant had gone out a business awhile ago.

Which can only mean two things.

Either I've slipped time again or the hair cutterer's boss need to update the magazines.

Calvin started sniveling the second we got to the car.

He was very disappointed in the way he looked.

I didn't notice.

Yet had I been a hair cuttering professional, I would have seen clear as day that this was not the most reasonable outcome for a ten minute $18 hair cut.

Wasn't really all that close.

Was actually pretty ridiculous.

And here's the thing: I've been in customer service for years,


And people are awful. They really are. I'm sorry about that. And when they go to a place to pay for a service, they kind of have a reasonable expectation that the professional will be making a few professional decisions based on the likeliest positive outcome.

Like when people would ask me to make some thing for them that I knew was just going to be awful, I would let them know first that it was a terrible idea and that I could make them something much better if they wanted, but if they persisted, I would let them know that I will absolutely make it for them to the best of my ability, and that if I was right and it was awful, I will be magnanimous about it and make them something better to replace the thing they thought they wanted but didn't really.

There are actually four possible outcomes to this scenario:

One: They trust me and we all live happily ever after.

Two: It's awful, they recognize it as awful, they gratefully accept my better judgement.

Three: Its' awesome, and we both agree that we have just experienced a very human sharing moment.

Four: It's awful but they're way too embarrassed to say so and creep out of the room in shame never to show their faces again.

All four are perfectly fine.

However, if I say nothing, all hell breaks loose. I'm just stirring the pot with my indifference.

Now I'm the kind of customer in scenario One. I'll give you instructions to the best of my ability and then I'll read your body language to see how close I came to reasonable. You won't be able to hide your disappointment of me if you think I'm crazy and I'll get your advice one way or another. We will win the game of society because I openly admit my ignorance and trust your professional judgement.

But if you don't care; if I'm like "Take off a few inches and get the bangs out of his eyes." and you're like "I guess, whatever." and the outcome is terrible, well then, we've lost the social fabric, and my wife  has permission to punch you in the uterus.

Cause I'll be in "Time Out" pretending to throw my T-Shirt at the Jets game.

Scratch and Sniff Five

Wait . . . Dad?


What does Tooty Fruity smell like?

There is no such thing. Why?

Cause I picked the Tooty Fruity sticker.

What does it smell like to you?

It smells like sour.

Like lemons, limes?

No, like bad fruit.

Like evil kiwi?

No, like bad fruit.

Like drunk and disorderly casaba?

No, like bad fruit.

When have you had bad fruit?

I don't know.


Now when I was a kid, scratch and sniff stickers came in only one smell:

"Scratch and Sniff" Smell.

Could have a picture of chocolate cake or a bowl of fresh strawberries, but it always smelled the same after you scratched it.  A sweet stale smell like medicine with a candy coating. Yet it has become clear that scratch and sniff technology has grown so precise that they have to create an entire new vocabulary around the exotic smell catalogue.

Tooty Fruity

Oh, Rudy.

So here we go, Random Five Scratch and Sniff Smells that I think could have a chance to make it in the internet age.

1. Clean Baby
Nothin like clean baby smell. It is without a doubt the single most dominant reason why we don't eat our young.

2. Skittle Breath
Not a mouth full of Skittles (cause that would be too overpowering), but when you are talking to someone who just enjoyed a mouth full of Skittles. It's softer, sweeter, and makes you instantly like the person. I would so stick that sticker on my wrist and take heavy sniffs during awkward moments of just about every conversation I've ever had.

3. Ripping the foil off a brand new pack of Marlboro Lights.
Stale, sweet, agonizing death.

4. Grandma's Purse
A heavy mixture of bottled perfume, lipstick, and double mint gum.

5. WD-40
You know when you smell WD-40 that something went and got itself fixed. Something that had been sitting around unfixed for like ever. When you smell WD-40 you know you're smelling someone who has just secured the right to take an afternoon nap. WD-40 is the smell of champion.

Please, send me the smells you would like stick on your wrist and make other people smell. Maybe we can get something going with some Capital Investment groups.

Have a good week end y'all.

Too Crass

Wait . . . Dad will be unavailable tonight cause something he thought was funny turned out to be offensive.

We will continue our regularly scheduled good natured non-offensive material tomorrow.

Good night and good luck.