diStraction Saturday Six

Terribly sorry for the lack of Friday Five.

No excuses, I just got super lazy. Seems to be a particularly seasonal pattern of mine. I notice readerships drops dramatically during the holidays and then I notice that the number and length of my posts are responsible and then I eat more pie.

Pumpkin pie is my favorite. It's a breakfast, lunch, and dinner dessert as far as I'm concerned, so I can totally understand why people want to put it on everything from lattes to candles.

But I also understand meth addiction and trickle down economics.

I did a Super Sunday Seven last year to make up for the super lazy Friday, but nothing, nothing, not even all the people I love and admire are going to come between me, trays upon trays of hot wings and twelve hours of football tomorrow.

What have I become?

A work in progress, I guess.

Leonardo Da Vinci carried the Mona Lisa with him for most of his whole life making minor adjustments throughout the decades. The most valuable object in the world and was completed not because of it's perfection, but because of the artist's death.

I can imagine Leo on a super lazy friday, standing in the hallway between his bedroom and studio, staring at the particular angle at which the sun is dancing upon her elusive smile and thinking "I'd love to get back to work, but the History Channel is having a 'Pawn Stars' marathon."

Did they have the History Channel during the renaissance? 

I'm sure they did, but it was mostly rediscovered footage of the crusades.

Colorized for the first time.

Which might have taken longer to do had Leo dedicated more time to Mona.

But we all need distractions.

Here are six of my favorite:

Number one: Tea
Green, black, white, oolong, whatever. Tea is unlike coffee in that you can't set a timer for it and have it ready by the time you make your way from the bedroom floor to the kitchen sink. Tea requires deliberate manipulation. The right water, the right tea, the right pot. Temperature is a factor, steeping time is a factor. This ain't no set it and forget it, it is a full seven minutes of constant care, and producing it requires that you drop whatever it is you were previously doing, or previously thinking of doing. It'll never replace a cigarette, but you can do it indoors.

Number Two: Books I've already read.
Starting a new book is hard. There are too many characters to remember and modern authors are constantly trying to push the intellectual envelope, which I applaud, but secretly hate. I need you to trick me with eye candy and falling in love before I realize I've made a commitment. Rereading an old book is like having friends over for dinner. Good friends. The kind that bring cheap wine and already know what's in your medicine cabinet.

Number Three: Helping Calvin with video games.
I can't honestly say I'm much help anymore, but there was a land before time in which I had magical powers. Somewhere between the Sega Genesis and the Xbox 360 my skills have diminished and followed the elves to the gray havens. But I will stop in the middle of whatever I'm doing to at least have a look and in some cases be able to offer suggestions. I will get sucked in, and in doing so eventually have to create my own file, so I can play after he has gone to bed.

Number Four: Chores.
Sometimes, doing anything is better than doing something, and right now I'm sitting here wondering when the grass is going to need to be mowed next.

Number Five: Personal Hygiene.
It may sound gross, but I do my best work in the morning between my first and second cup of coffee. But sometimes it takes longer than that. Sometimes I'm looking up at the clock and thinking that I should probably put on pants because I have to start dinner soon. A hot shower between paragraphs makes a real difference.

Number Six: Social Media.
I have yet to find the balance between social media as a tool and social media as heroine. And I'm active on so many different platforms that by the time I've cycled through them all, it becomes almost necessary to start again from the beginning to see if any of my posts, likes, and comments have been reposted, liked, or commented upon. I'm not alone. There are ten bazillion of us, and more natural born surfers are being squeezed out every minute. I have a friend who has given up Facebook for the holidays and a niece who has deleted her account entirely. I envy them in the way I envy anyone who can drink a single glass of wine. Which is to be both admiring and find them ridiculous at the same time. Coupling social media and fantasy football and it is a miracle I've gotten any work done at all since September.

And as I close out this week's list, I hope you all have had a wonderful coma inducing holiday weekend, sorry you have to go back to work/school, Hunger Games:Catching Fire is well worth the price of admission and go Niners!

If ever a wonderful wiz there was.

I don't remember hold old he was.

Four or five, maybe?

I had snuck back stage during a production of The Wizard of Oz to surprise my friends and load up on some hugs from a cast I should have been a part of.

It was the middle of a terrible summer where I had run away to join a repertory company, thinking this wold be the beginning of a great career, but instead was mislead, mistreated, and worst of all, miscast.

Actually, the worst part is that my host family did not believe in using air conditioning.

And it was a hot summer.

Maybe I'm a terrible person, but I would let my children starve before I suffered a living room above 75 degrees. It's just inhuman.

Thank God (big G) for libraries cause I was too poor for coffee shops.

It was the rare Sunday where the rep company had a matinee but no evening performance, so I pulled a total jerk move and skipped the curtain call so I could shuck out of my sweaty Nazi uniform and head home before anyone noticed I was gone.

(The show was The Sound of Music, and my last costume was Nazi browns. Just so you know I wasn't attending some kind of rally)

The drive took a little over an hour and I got hungry and grabbed a sandwich at the deli near campus. The girls at the counter would always load up the meats for me so that I could turn one meal into three, but most of it was devoured by the time I got to the theater.

Waiting in the wings, being very patient, was a little boy I had never seen before.

Munchkin? I guessed.

I didn't have much time for small talk, for I wanted to make a grand entrance and feel loved again, so I placed my half eaten sandwich down on the bench, pointed at it, and in a stern voice I said "Stay" Then I backed out of the room slowly, never taking my eyes off the sandwich.

"Mommy?" I heard him say.


"That man just told his sandwich to stay."

"Did he?"

"Uh huh. . . . Mommy?"


"Is the sandwich going to move?"

"I doubt it."

Thus, not only did I end up meeting Caitlin for the first time, I also solidified myself as being the kind of person that frightens young children into thinking they're going to be attacked by food.

There's a very sad story that could possibly follow, several really,  but I don't want to go there, except to tell about this one time.

So, this one time, we were over at Caitlin's house, which was the coolest place to be cause Caitlin was a wife and a mother and practically our age. There wasn't anyone coming home who would catch us being bad or frown upon our elicit activities. It got very late, and we were all very stoned and going through her DVD and CD collection when someone got the great idea of watching the Wizard of Oz with the sound off while playing Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon"

There was this wonderful urban legend about Dark Side being scored to the movie, which accounts for all the irregular time signatures, but was untestable while the album was still trapped on vinyl.

It's a total myth, but there are some uncanny moments where the songs align with the visual narrative.

It's referred to as "The Dark Side of the Rainbow" and has quite a following.

God bless the internet.

Yet, after being wowed for thirty minutes, everyone else fell asleep in their corners and couches, while Caitlin and I tried experimenting with different albums.

Turns out you can do the same thing with The Cure and the cast recording of Rent.

Which is where we too called it a night.

It was 1998 and what was amazing about that moment was that it was my first glimpse of what adulthood looked like for my generation. We were the first children of the internet, we'd seen the rise and fall of grunge, MTV, floppy discs, Crystal Pepsi, and VHS tapes.

I was filled with so much hope that night, for it was possible I too could grow up to be cool and sophisticated, fun and responsible, that I can be the kind of adult that drinks good beer and smokes cheap pot, owns and enjoys The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd and The Cure and cast recordings of musicals.

It was like that moment when Kansas becomes OZ and the world goes from black and white to full technicolor.

If every little blue bird flies beyond the rainbow, why oh why can't I?

Adulthood was going to be amazing and I couldn't wait.

I still can't.

I'm somewhere between the Lollipop Guild and a quest for a witch's broom.

So, the movie comes on last night, I hadn't really been paying attention, and Calvin asked me a question.

"Wait . . . Dad?"


"Didn't you know that I can tell this is an old movie cause it's all brown?"

"It's called Black and White."

"Then why is it all brown?"

Which is when I looked up for the first time and realized that the opening farm scenes in The Wizard of Oz weren't the stark black and white of my memories. Instead I saw the dusty warm browns of sepia tone.


I could close my eyes and see very clearly Dorothy Gale in black and white.

Yet, there it is.


And thanks to the internet, I could just roll over to IMDB and watch the original trailer, and confirm or deny some very vivid visual memories.

Yet, again, brown.

Not black and white.


This changes everything.

Well, no, it changes nothing.

But it does bring up a few memories that I haven't thought about in a long time. So I'm thankful for the reminder, but a little irked that some sacred memories have to be adjusted to the new now.

Yet, whenever I see The Wizard of Oz, I will always think of terrible summers, heat waves, Caitlin, Pink Floyd, the cast recording of Rent, and some of the purest optimism I've ever felt.

I was thinking about little holiday rituals, "The Wizard of Oz" being to Thanksgiving as "It's a Wonderful Life" is to Christmas.

You have network television to blame for that.

And one of the most common rituals is to tell all the dinner guests what you're thankful for this year. Yet, instead of being thankful for things, spend some time and think about the moments that you're thankful for.

Cause people come and go. Treasures fall in and out of fashion and your health will only get worse, but those moments, even the ones that change from black and white to sepia tone, you get to keep for always.

They're the ones that define who you are.

Even if you're the kind of guy that talks to roast beef sandwiches.

Shopping Maul Five

I really had to get out of the house.

Really, really.

The walls were starting to close in on me and I had forgotten how many days I'd been wearing the same underwear.

The answer was only one, but I wasn't sure, and that scared me.

This week and the last were all about getting ready for Wednesday's show. And for those of you that missed it (which is all of you), it went very well. The venue was very nice, the beer was very good, the staff were fantastic, I had just enough material and I only forgot the lyrics to my originals, so no one would have known the difference.

But four hours in the car, two hours set up and tear down, and three hours on stage, that's like a full time job right there. Feels good to say that.

But two things are clear; One, I'm outta shape, and two, I need to learn more happy songs. Both easily in my grasp.

Yet after two weeks of cramming, rehearsing, preparing, and pacing nervously, I woke up yesterday and decided to give up on life. I ventured away from the couch only twice. Once to refill my coffee cup and then again to eat dinner four movies later. Suffice it to say I got up this morning feeling extremely cow like.

So when the opportunity arose to get Calvin a new pair of sneakers, it seemed like a golden opportunity to stop all the blood from coagulating in my extremities and maybe generate some fodder for today's five.

And when it comes to fodder, the mall never disappoints.

Five Things Shopping Maul:

One: Americans can't handle roundabouts.

The distance between my house and the nearest J.C.Penny's is barely a half mile, but of course we had to drive and that half mile of street contains four stop signs, one traffic light, and three roundabouts. The american brain is a very complicated thing. And one thing I've noticed over the years is that when the american brain is confused it essentially forces the user to make the worst decision possible and then over correct in a ridiculous hail storm of bad maneuvers.

Now, I'm a proponent of roundabouts, on paper.

In practice, however, in the age of soccer moms and suburban assault vehicles, a funny thing happens. Nine out of ten drivers aren't mentally prepared for the roundabout and find themselves in the middle of it before realizing it, and again, when americans are confused, they don't slow down and proceed with caution, they speed up and just aim their cars in the direction they think they want to go.

Roundabouts are safer and more efficient, but damn, they're scary.

Two: Shopping will forever remain a mystery to me

I just don't understand how we can spend twenty minutes looking through racks of blue jeans and dress shirts when we clearly came for sneakers. It just breaks all the physical, mathematical, and evolutionary laws that I know of and will forever force me to renegotiate my terms with reality.

Three: Calvin's starting to become a man.

It didn't take him longer than three seconds to pick out a pair of shoes. He looked up from his new Nintendo game, said he wanted the orange ones and only the orange ones, that was what he wanted, and when it turned out there wasn't a pair in his size, he looked up from his game again and said he wanted the green ones and only the green ones.

I liked the green ones too. They're velcro.

Four: I don't remember why I ever disliked velcro.

I do remember feeling like it was important for Calvin to learn how to tie his shoes. I do remember, so vividly, that amazing moment when he stopped me in the aisle of a supermarket so he could tie them all by himself, and I do remember it taking a very long time but I was oblivious to the fact, for I was in that moment of Parental Bliss when the child takes another step toward independence. But ever since that moment, I have hated laces with the heat of a thousand flaming suns.

Putting on shoes to go anywhere or do anything is quite possibly the reason why parents kill their children.

That, and buckling up.

Five: Paying the full retail price suddenly feels very wrong.

I don't know what happened. I have never felt bad about paying anything for anything. If I need it, I buy it. If I want it, and I've already paid for the things I need, I buy it. I used to just assume that things cost what they cost.

But retailers have shot themselves in the face by skewing the value of just about everything. Sale prices, markdowns, door busters, bogos, coupons, groupons, and membership cards.

I honestly don't know what the price of sneakers are.

Joann told me the price of the green sneakers and I had no idea what it meant, but judging by her face I could tell that it was ridiculous.

Not high.

I've paid more for an overcooked 8oz steak and soggy broccoli.

Just ridiculous.

We actually had to stop and talk it through.

It seemed so terribly wrong to pay full price, but there were other factors to consider. Like, we would have to go to another store and there's no guarantee that the prices would be lower, and we might not find something that he likes, and the attention span of an eight year old has steep curve into super irritating after the half hour mark. There was a time factor, wear and tear on the SUV, and our very sanity at stake.

In the end, we bought the shoes, but felt terrible about it.

And now I have to go learn a Katie Perry song.

Cause that's my job.

When I grow up

Wait . . . Dad?


When you write a book, do you get it for free or do you have to buy it?

I'm sure you get it for free.

So you can just walk into the store and take it?

No, you have to pay for the books at the store, but you receive some free copies from the publisher.

Oh. Wait . . . Dad?

Uh Huh?

I'm glad you're an author now so I can ask you questions while you're at work.

Fair enough.

He called me an author.

Which, cool and all, but I'm not really ready to call myself that yet. I mean, in the more specific sense of the word. Generally an author is anyone who created or gave existence to anything (Thank Wikipedia for that definition) So we can all be described, broadly, as authors. Even if we are just the authors of our shopping lists.

Which, you know, I mean, I put a lot of thought into my shopping lists. Grouping like items together, organizing by aisle, limiting items to fit a budget, and keeping a certain open flexibility in case there is a sale on peanut butter or taco shells.

There is a craft in writing shopping lists, so I'm not knocking them as bereft of artistic merit, they just don't usually make the anthology after a writer dies.

And if it's not in the anthology, then it never happened.

On a side note, the second volume of Mark Twain's Autobiography is out in stores now and I suggest you borrow my copy of volume one before you go running over to Costco for the set. I got about 300 hundred page into it and had to stop.

It was very good, but Twain bounced back and forth through stories with such rapidity that every time I got up to make myself a sandwich I would forget which millennium we were in.

And the print was very, very, tiny.

I will not return to it until I am a very old man and there is little else I can accomplish.

Think Christmas 2058.

And while we're on the subject of old men, I am suddenly, quite suddenly, very unsure of what I want to be when I grow up.

If you'd have asked me when I was four, I would have told you Superman.

(Yes, I know, Batman and Spiderman are so much cooler, but this would have been 1981, and you can't tell me that Adam West was a more hard core badass than Christopher Reeve.)

Point is, at four, I wanted to be freakin awesome.

Yet, if you had asked me at eight, I would have told you that I was going to be a writer.

(Same age as my own son now, curiouser and curiouser.)

At twelve, a writer, at fourteen, a writer, at fifteen, a rockstar, at seventeen, an engineer (The physics kind, not the train kind) at twenty, an actor, twenty four, a songwriter, twenty four through thirty five, a coffee and tea expert, and between then and two weeks ago, I would have told you that I would like to be a working class musician.

Not a mind boggling list of trades, or thematic, but one kind of led to the other. There never was an epiphany, just a casual slide. I was doing one thing and then one thing became two things and then the first thing either got boring or didn't pay as much or got put on the shelf alongside my copy of Mark Twain's Biography Volume One.

So two weeks ago, I am working class musician.

Working class musician differs from it's rock star counterpart in that its a little bit of everything and for the most part stays off the radar.

There's no super hit, just pennies from multiple revenue streams.

I'm good with pennies.

Makes my shopping lists more exciting.

I mean, I'm still spending more than I'm making, but I've been at this full time for less than eight weeks, so don't roll your eyes until you talk to me a year from now.

But then I lost a gig (miscommunication between another artist and the agent, not a big deal), and then I went to a music licensing seminar and instead of feeling at home with a bunch of other working class musicians, I felt even more out of place, not being lame enough to join the lepers, and not cool enough to swap dead baby jokes with the taste makers.

I'm not out of fashion, I'm outside of fashion.

And then I receive two emails. One, a rejection notice of one of my songs (Not devastating by any means, but still hurts a little.) And then, a second email notifying me that one of my own articles had made the front page of an online music forum.

Front page one day after I submitted to the open portion of the forum.

I did not Pass Go, but I did collect 200 hits to my website in less than 24 hours.

And then Calvin calls me an author.

Not a singer/songwriter like it says on my business card.

An Author.

And if he called me that to my face, then most likely, that's what he tells his friends, or more importantly, what he tells his friends with pride.

Cause if an eight year old said it, it must be true. And it must be awesome.

This blog page had been visited 13,000 times.

Songs streamed: 19.

I can't wait for the check from Pandora.

And the most telling bit of all, when I began discussing this with my wife, mentioning I might want to consider writing more stuff, her shoulders unknotted and she breathed a sigh of relief as if she had been waiting six weeks for me to come to the same conclusion, which she had obviously come to a lot quicker, but was afraid to mention it.

Which is exactly what she said.


Now I'm not about to go abandoning five years worth of work to start penning mystery novels, and I'm not abandoning my two year financial plan just because YouTube hasn't made me an overnight sensation, but just like a well crafted shopping list, you gotta leave room for the unexpected, whether it's taco shells or a career in wordsmithing.

If you want your life to be an adventure, yes, yes, you have to hack into the jungle with the recklessness befitting a mad man. It's the only way. The ONLY way.

But you gotta follow the signs when they're presented to you. And you gotta listen to your wife, cause a woman's intuition is a tender mistress but a terrible enemy.

And if you're gonna grow up, and I'm not saying you have to, but if you do,

Grow up to be the man that your boy thinks you are.

Cause that dude is freakin awesome.

Daddy Five

One of my closest friends is going to have a baby soon.

Which I found out about through my father through Facebook. I told my wife a day later, but she already knew too. How is it that I can spend hours on Facebook and still be behind the times? Answer: I'm paying more attention to my own shit than everyone else's, but I think thats a whole different Friday Five. The "Like" me Please "Like" me Five. I'll save that one for a more melancholy afternoon.

Which reminds me, I should probably give him a call and congratulate him before writing about it, but deadlines are deadlines, and he's a theater director and probably doesn't answer his phone until after 6:30 pm.


Since it'll be too late to deliver this message over the wireless, I think it's perfectly reasonable to ante up some sage advice in a public forum, you know, like a blog that anyone can read.

So here it is:

Top Five things no one's going to tell you about being a Daddy:

1. Everything you've ever known about anything is fundamentally wrong.
You may have thought you had a grasp on the world. You may have believed yourself above the curve with your multitude of talents, genius level intelligence, and snappy fashion sense, but your life perspective is about to go from street level to the 180th floor. You are going to find yourself suddenly equipped with superhuman strength and courage one minute and crying during beer commercials the next. Good luck with that.

2. You own nothing.
Now, no one is ever going to confuse you with a materialist, but at this point, everything from the shirt off your back to your eternal soul belongs to someone else now. You won't get a receipt, but it's all tax deductible, which is nice.

3. Everything is fine, everything is normal.
You, my friend, are about to be introduced to the modern era of parenting. Books, magazines, online forums and WebMD is all at your finger tips and is all designed to send you into an anxiety spiral where every cough is pneumonia, every rash is a flesh eating disease, the Kaiser advice nurse is going to start calling you by your first name, and are you sure you have enough car insurance? Go ahead and become the expert on every physiological, psychological, developmental disorder you can get your hands on and then try to remember that everything is fine, everything is normal.

4. Find the Daddy Park.
I can't stress this enough. There are three different kinds of parks: The Soccer Mom Park, The Trophy Wife Park, and the Daddy Park. It's easy to avoid the Trophy Wife Park, it's usually the newest, most upscale park, with young trees, newly manicured fields, a Pilates group, and almost no children playing anywhere. Even in your most charming affable presentation, you will be scowled at like a potential child molesting leper.
The Soccer Mom Park is a bit more inviting, but the women there want to chat and brag, and the worst is they want to supervise play time. In my opinion, children are territorial pack animals and should be allowed to run with the herd untethered. Kids should learn how to deal with the jerk who keeps stopping in the middle of the slide. Kids should get their hands dirty and hit each other with sticks.
The Daddy Park is usually the oldest, with the best shade trees and a slightly dangerous look about it. Dads don't strike up conversations unless you're wearing a sports jersey, they don't get up off their benches until there is either too much blood or too much silence, and you won't be sneered at for feeding your child chicken nuggets instead of carrot sticks. The Daddy Park, I shit you not, will become your favorite place in the world. You will be able to sit in silence, sit in solace, sit in contemplation, and watch your baby grow as the leaves turn from green to red to brown to green again. Nothing will feel better than the day she conquers the slide, nothing will hurt worse than the day she no longer needs a push on the swings.

5. It's not the baby who needs you, it's your partner.
Babies are easy. Feed 'em, burp 'em, rock 'em, put 'em to sleep, clean their butts and take lots of pictures. It's kind of like college. But here's what separates the men from everyone else; for the next few years, the two of you are going to become crazy unfiltered hot messes. You are no longer two islands that get to occasionally have sex, you are now a mighty third world country constantly on the edge of civil war. Remember that there is NO COMMON GROUND and under no circumstances should you ever keep score. Repeat after me: Flowers, Sweet/Dirty notes, 2AM feedings and Clean Dishes. You see, when you feel like you're losing it, you go for a run, it's what men do when they can't rationalize their emotions. On the other hand, when she's losing it, she needs to yell at somebody about the places you leave your socks. Let that happen. Be a man of empathy until you feel your inner bastard starting to rile you up, and when that happens, go to the park.

Take the baby with you.


Wait . . . Dad?


Is it hard to make these blocks?

It's not hard, its just time consuming.

Its just time consuming.


How long do you think its going to take to make all of them?

Well, we're going to finish this one and then I'm going to go write, and then we can work on them some more until soccer practice and then when we get home we can work on them some more.

Wait . . . Dad?


How long is it going to take you to write?

I don't know. Sometimes it takes me awhile to have an idea, sometimes I have too many ideas, and sometimes it all just comes together quickly. Could be an hour, could be two, could be three. Aren't you supposed to be in school right now?

It's Veteran's Day.


Wait . . . Dad?

Uh huh?

What chapter are you on?


That's a long time to just be at chapter two.

Well, I don't just work on that project, I have music to work on, pictures to take, I write a blog which is kinda like a diary for other people to read, I have to play with you, I have to play with mommy, I have a fantasy football team to manage, I have to make sure you are fed and have your soccer shoes ready and I have to rest.


And I have to feed you.

Wait . . . Dad?


Can we make just one more before you go write?

Yes, yes we can.

Sometime during the weekend, Calvin had discovered someone on YouTube playing with actual Minecraft blocks.

Now if you don't already know what Minecraft is, you're not alone, you're just really really old.

Minecraft is a video game.

Sort of.

Essentially, you play a character made of blocks.

In a world made of blocks.

And you mine things.

And the more things you mine, the more things you can craft with the materials that you mine.

You find a stick, you find another stick, and another. You find a block of iron. With three sticks and a block of iron you can craft and iron pick ax with which to dig deeper than just the wooden one that you started out with.

You can find and craft all kinds of things. Hoes, pick-axes, swords, iron, steel, diamonds.

But there is an unwritten rule that you should never waste a diamond on a hoe.

True dat.

And as night draws near, Creepers come out to get you.

They are scary green block kamikaze monsters that race up to you and explode, killing you and destroying your stuff.

You can thwart them by building a house for yourself out of wood and stone and whatever else.

There is no end to the game.

You mine, you craft, you build, you try not to let a creeper explode near you.

And the game is open sourced, which means that anyone with some programming knowledge can add things to the game. Like chickens and TNT and entire continents to explore.

You can play alone or you can play online with friends.

You can have battles or you can switch it to peaceful mode where even the Creepers won't bother you. You can play it on every platform there is, computer, X-Box, iPad, iPhone, nap time,  and DS.

It's a digital playground and it's huge.

I don't remember when Calvin got into it, but it's fascinating watching an eight year old develop a mastery that is way beyond the scope of my understanding.

And the bigger it gets, the more things there are to master.

Which is where the YouTubes come in.

Somebody decides the place needs sheep and suddenly every fan boy with an online connection is learning how to craft the perfect knife so that the sheep can be shorn and wool sweaters can be knit for christmas.

So, as I said before, Calvin found a kid on YouTube playing with actual blocks designed to look like blocks from Minecraft.

But he couldn't find out where to buy them online.

Except the ones made by Lego, and those weren't the ones from the video and they were too expensive anyway.

He very conscience of how much things cost.

We're going to do just fine as poor people.

So he waited all morning for me to get up so that I can figure out how to get those blocks.

And it turns out that there is an entire sub-craft of making real mine craft blocks out of PDF's, glue, tooth picks, and an exacto-knife. And then playing with those blocks like they were Legos and action figures.

It's called Minecraft PaperCraft.

And it's huge.

A video of a kid just playing with these blocks has over 125,000 views.

To put that in perspective, my video for "Only Hope" off of the new album has 160 views.

I am clearly, clearly in the wrong business.

No matter, I'll get where I need to go.

Anyway, now, because I wish to stay true to my "Best Dad Ever" coffee mug, I have to spend an hour or three crafting a whole bunch of paper cubes so that my son can play with them for a few minutes.

I tried to convince him that we could print up the PDF's, cut them out and then glue them onto real wooded cubes (blocks) which would save me at least an hour, but he would have none of it.


But it wasn't a total loss, I did force him to learn how to use the exacto-knife, which made hime very nervous, and would have made his mother even more nervous had I not waited till she took a nap.

He was certain he was gonna kill himself.

I told him that if he did indeed cut himself, it would be at least a few years before he bled out, so not to worry.

I wanted to get to the point where he could cut them out and I could do the gluing, but he wasn't ready for that level of commitment.

So we made two diamond blocks,

and two TNT blocks,

and one stone block,

and then it was time for me to write.

It always feels a bit weird to me to be putting my life on hold in order to write about that life.

I remember once yelling at Calvin to stop pestering me to play catch while I was in the middle of a blog about how much fun it is to play catch with my son, a story I've told before, but it resonates.

I just came back from a music conference, where I was pleased as punch to attend, but it wasn't much different from any other business conference. Define your product. Package that product. Sell your product.

Which doesn't come as any shock unless you haven't been paying attention to anything ever.

The other bit was sacrifice.

House wives don't have hit records.

Pop stars don't have personal lives.

I wasn't, and still am not, willing to give up either, so the only solution is to combine them. And in order to do that, you have to separate them and filter them through one another and forgive yourself for not being brilliant at both.

Calvin walks in and asks me when I'm going to be done.

"I don't know." I tell him honestly.

Joann walks in and tells me that I was supposed to wake her up.

"I don't remember that at all." I tell her honestly.

She laughs with her mouth, but her eyes are deciding which part of my spine to plunge a fork in.

Calvin comes back in and asks me how long until I can come back.

"I really don't know, but it takes longer every time you ask."

"Kay" and races back out again.

I realize I have to shower at some point.

Or I could wait till tomorrow.

Point is, God Bless America, God Bless our Veterans. Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, Be kind and rewind, and don't waste your diamonds on a hoe.

Highway 5 Five

Five hours in a straight line through the Central Valley.

All Californians have done it.

Unless they own convertibles and have the time to stop at every B&B on the PCH.

The most direct route from The City to La La Land.

My best friend has a terrible anatomically correct name for it, which I refuse to share cause it's not G rated and is only funny if you have a good understanding of lesser known parts of male genitalia and a belly full of single malt scotch.

Which, if you do, then maybe it's time to consider that you have a problem.

But this is not an intervention.

This is the Interstate 5.

The Interstate 5 Five.

First up, Anderson's Pea Soup.
It is what appears to be a diner with what is either the biggest most memorable sign on the face of the planet, or, or, the only thing of viewing consequence for so many miles that it's impossible not to burn the memory of it on your retina.

I'm pretty sure I ate there once during a road trip with my uncle.

Pretty sure. 

Second comes the town of Buttonwillow.
Can't forget a name like that, but what makes it more memorable is the fact that just about everyone I know has broken down in Buttonwillow at some point in their lives, and those who say they haven't have either blocked out the memory or are clearly lying.

Thirdly, The Cows of Coalinga.
It starts with the smell.  Miles of rolling golden hills punctuated by what at first smells like a silent little fart from one of your friends in the back seat in which you demurely roll down your window to air out,

This, however, is a mistake.

The odor just intensifies, miles after raging mile, until you are filled with the dibilitating terror that humanity will no longer welcome you back into the fold.

Then come the cows. You crest that final hill and look east into a sea of black and white and brown and flatulent.

You've decided to give up red meat.

At least until the next In and Out Burger.

Fourth are the drivers.
Northern California is home to the worst drivers in America. Southern California is home to the most impatient. Toss in three million tons of coked out trucking services and you are exactly sixteen miles away from Thunderdome.

Five is emptiness.
I'm a Northern California boy. I've lived my whole life between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Nevadas. I could go surfing in the morning, snow skiing in the afternoon, and be slightly tipsy on Cabernet before the wine tasting rooms close in the valley.

So hundreds of miles of flat farm land is a total shock to me. Why and how it's not a completely deserted wasteland is a total shock to me. What other people do when they're not walking distance from a Trader Joes is a total shock to me.

What do you do on Thanksgiving when Auntie May only brought white wine?

Oh my god, Christmas morning without a 7 Eleven for emergency AAAs?

My tummy hurts just thinking about it.

I'm going to have to lay down.

Have a good weekend y'all.

Steven Seagal Week

Oh yeah.

It's Steven Seagal Week on AMC!

I'm willing to bet that up until this moment, you never knew there was a Steven Seagal Week. In fact, I'm willing to bet that it never would have occurred to you that there was any need for Steven Seagal week. That a universe lacking a Steven Seagal Week was clearly incomplete.

I too was like you.

Up until 9:15 this morning.

With a cup of coffee and catching up on The Walking Dead.

Then I was suddenly informed that the work of Steven Seagal classifies as one of the Fifty Two most important things to celebrate this year.

Which, when you think about it, of course it is.

I feel almost foolish for not having thought about it before, and I consider myself to be quite the connoisseur of Seagal's artistic out put.

I've actually seen two of his movies from start to finish.

I know.

I should write a book.

And the book should be called "Hard to Kill Under Siege: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Steve."

But after my second cup and a little death and dismemberment, I realized that maybe I didn't know enough Steven Seagal trivia to last an entire blog let alone a dissertation.

Off to the internets!

Did you know that aside from starring in two movies I've seen,  Steven Seagal is an accomplished director, producer, guitarist, deputy sheriff, reincarnated lama?

That he is the same age as my mother and once broke Sean Connery's hand during the filming of Never Say Never?

Which, when you think about it, of course he did.

Yet as much as I wanted it to be true, he did not invent the pony tail, nor did he star in only movies with three word titles.

But between you and me, I'm not gonna stop believing, for it was the early nineties, and a very formative age for me.

So I started thinking, in all honesty, like I do, that it must have been a very interesting meeting at the AMC headquarters when the suggestion tossed out to the group to create and promote Steven Seagal Week.

Like the guy at the head of the table said something like "Well, it's almost lunch, are there any other ideas for the first week of November?"

and after a long pause where everyone at the table made slow uncomfortable eye contact with everyone else at the table, and someone's stomach rumbled uncomfortably, Joey raised his hand.

"Steven Segal Week?" Joey said meekly.

"What was that Joey?" said the guy at the head of the table.

"Steven Seagal Week?" Joey said again a little louder.

"Did you say Steven Seagal Week?"

"Mmm Hmm."

"Okay, does anyone have a problem with Steven Seagal Week?"


Tummy rumble.

Eye contact.

"Done. And please, would everyone remember, not to talk about last night's Walking Dead. Thank-you."

Because that's how things happen.

But not really.

In reality AMC bought a catalogue from a distributer and someone realized that there were at least six different Steven Seagal movies on the list. And although you may think it's easy to program a cable network, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year is a lot of space to fill.

And although, as a content creator myself, I am horrified that there are so few opportunities for new work to see the light of day, when there is clearly so much space needing to be filled, at least in this modern world I have YouTube and Blogspot.

AMC can have their back catalogue and their Steven Seagal Week.

Kelly Lebrock could sure use the residuals.

Epic Fails Five


Everything has to be EPIC.

Trips to the grocery store are epic. Katie Perry's new album is epic. The amount of candy wrappers I've found in my studio this afternoon is epic. The amount of curly brown hair that my wife leaves in the shower drain is epic.

The amount of LIKEs my step-son gets when he complains about mid-terms on Facebook is epic.

Well, actually it's disproportionally inflated in relation to the content.

It's my jealousy that's epic.

If I had a tenth of the social media engagement that he has, well, I could most likely pay off his student loans.

Which would be epic.

And failure isn't failure unless its epic.

Running out of juice boxes?

Epic fail.

Mosquito in the house?

Epic fail.

That shirt you're wearing?

Tragic Epic Fashion Fail.

Man is measured by two things. How good he is at winning, and how good he is at failing. And since I've been asked a lot lately how I'm doing, I thought it might be a good time to for a little Epic Fail progress report on this week's adventures:

Epic Fail Numero Uno:
My beloved son has no idea how to Trick or Treat. You have to think strategically, going down one side of the street and coming back the other. I watched him for twenty minutes running up and down and crisscrossing the streets until he had complete forgotten which houses he'd been to. And we live in a cul-de-sac. No rhyme or reason. No understanding of which houses to avoid. It is by luck alone that he ended up with at least a few peanut butter cups, which are in my opinion as important for Halloween as Turkey is for Thanksgiving as Gift Cards are to Christmas as Hookers are to Mardi Gras. So it wasn't a total loss, but like the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, I can only shake my head and hope I get luckier in next year's kid draft.

Epic Fail Too:
I actually answered an ad for a show I was already booked for. Honest mistake, but it made me look like a rube. 

I hate looking like a rube.

Epic Fail Three:
I accidentally booked a smoking room for our trip to LA. Joann and I kind of looked at each other, like, hey, maybe its not such a bad thing, I mean, we've got the room, might as well toss in a pack of Marlboro Lights with the wine and cheese.

Neither of us have had a cigarette in eighteen months. We have to celebrate sometime.

Epic Fail For:
Let the big son take the car for the week just so he could get some proverbial fresh air. First thing he does, drives to a Halloween Party out of town and misses class the next day.

You thought he wrecked it, didn't you?

Nope, just your normal mildly irresponsible 20 year old behavior. Which in almost every other case would elicit nothing but a shrug from me, cause I firmly believe we all are guilty, but it was really terrible timing, especially since I told him he couldn't take the car and then chilled out at the last minute.

Makes me look like a rube.

And you know how I feel about that.

Epic Fail Five:
I may or may not have gotten accidentally hooked on Downton Abby. It's not official yet, but I did wait till the end of an episode to get up and pee. And if the rumors are true, I'm gonna have to grow a handle-bar mustache and get into the bare-knuckle-fist-fight circuit in order to get my "Man-Card" back.

Next Week: Setting sail with a thousand ships to get Helen back. Which should be epic.