Unsportsmanlike Five

So I was doing a little research on the new NFL rules for next week's blog when I came across two new no-no's that I thought were funny.

No Foul Language - against an opponent or official. No definition of what 'Foul Language' might be but I'm assuming that calling your opponent "Skittle Breath' is still perfectly legal.

and . . .

No Use of NFL equipment as a prop.

That just says it right there.

The goal post is no longer a basketball hoop or a penis.

For all intents and purposes.

Both of these new rules were listed under the unsportsmanlike conduct section. There were a lot of other new rules too, but I won't bore you with those (just yet). But what did strike my fancy was the thought that maybe somebody should come up with some league sanctioned rules for the domestic househole version of unsportsmanlike conduct.

I think that person should be me.

Rule Number One: No trash in the kitchen sink. 
This includes plastic cups, paper plates, or empty Capri-Suns. That's a five Skittle penatly and loss of one scoop of ice cream. Double penalty if it's plastic from an Otter Pop.

Rule Number Two: Two Minute Warning on mid-day phone calls.
I have nothing to say, You have nothing to say, penalty for exceeding the playtime will result in an automatic hang-up and obligatory foot rub.

Rule Three: You cannot ask the same question more than three times.
Including, but not limited to questions about automatic vs. manual transmissions and the recoil potential of various fire arms. A fourth repeat of the same answer is an automatic fifteen minute loss. Bed time will now be set at 8:45.

Rule Four: No dirty underware on the bathroom floor.
This rule will be added to the height limitations on the pile of dirty clothes on my side of the bed. Infractions will result in loss of holding and an automatic pizza night.

Rule Five: The immediate action rule.
When I say, "Go put your shoes on", then go put your shoes on. When I say "Go Brush Your Teeth", then go brush your teeth. The list also includes: Go clean your room, Eat your food, Close the door, Turn it down, Hurry up, and a positive verbal response to "Did I make myself clear?" Violations will result in a loss of one birthday present and a gain of three pieces of broccoli.

You may cast your vote for these rules and other things at www.waitdad.com
or get the daily bits at www.facebook.com/waitdad.

TBT: The Boy Who Lived

Remember that moment?

Remember the moment you read the first chapter of the first book of the Harry Potter series?

Of course you don't.

You were like ten.

And that was a long time ago.

Or maybe you were finally convinced to read them because everyone else had already read them and although you think you're a rebel, you're really not.

My mom was super way ahead of the curve.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but she was able to jump that bandwagon after only the first two were published.

Even then, however, her review was luke warm. She loved them, but she thought that there were a lot of derivative ideas [Star Wars and Lord of the Rings in particular] and because it wasn't one of those "You Have To Read These Now" situations and I was almost but not quite in my twenties and particularly deaf to everything my mother said, I didn't bother.

Children's stories.


I didn't get into them really until the fourth book came out.

Summer of 2000.

I know this exactly cause I was working in Walnut Creek and my soon-to-be step son was very excited to get it. The news was filled that day with young kids flooding bookstores to get their hands on "The Goblet of Fire" and although I was right around the corner from a giant Barnes and Noble, I was a little worried that I was gonna have to spend the night in line.

Turns out Walnut Creek isn't as progressively cool as the rest of the word (A thing I could've told you back in the eighties) and the shop was virtually empty of cosplaying tweens.

I got the book and felt very excited that I got to be the one to bring the book home.

Parenting is without a doubt the most vicious form of popularity contest and I had just secured my prom queen tiara.

(Or diadem if you prefer)

My ticker tape parade didn't last long and the book sat unread for a very long time.

Long enough for me to read the first and the third installments. (We were missing the second one for some reason) I eventually read the fourth book long before my soon-to-be step-son got a hold of it and like . . . well . . . the rest of humanity . . . I gladly secured J.K. Rowling's morphine drip into the closest vein I could find.

She took a long time to release the fifth one didn't she?

I know this cause it didn't come out until the day before my soon-to-be step-son became my actual step-son. Summer of 2003.

There's this great picture, and I wish I could find it of all the boys (myself included) sitting around in our tuxes reading "The Order of the Pheonix" 

We had to buy three copies cause no one wanted to share.

And then, of course, you know the rest.

A new book released every two years after that, movies released at the same pace, DVD's released a year after those.

Yes, I own all of it.

Cause . . . you know . . . morphine drip.

And then it was all over.

Story finished, films wrapped, DVD's with discs upon discs of extras, purchased and marathon ready.

I'm so glad we got to be a part of that era. My wife, my step-son, me, the world.

But it has always made me a little sad that my younger son never got to be a part of the zeitgeist. What could any of this possibly mean to him when he comes of age to sit down and begin a journey that was nearly two decades before his time?

It made me think of all the precious things that our parents wanted so desperatley to share with us that we could never experience in the same way.

My mother tried for years to get me interested in a series of books about "The Mushroom Planets" Little boys building a rocketship to save and entire alien world. Such good stuff. I just couldn't do it.

My father put Sgt. Peppers on cassette for me, but I didn't get it for at least a decade after that.

My sons may never know Star Wars (or at least never live in a world where Han shot first), they'll never get the Simpsons (even at this late a date), they'll never know what it was like to purchase concert tickets the day before the show at an actual box office. (In addition to that, they'll never know what it's like to have twenty dollars that can both buy the tickets and pay for the gas to get there)

Case in Point: 1994 I bought Nirvana tickets, at the height of their popularity, for $12, put five dollars in the gas tank of an old Volkswagon Vanagan, bought a pack of cigarettes, illegally, and was making $5.75 per hour in my part time job.

That show cost me roughly four hours of filing.

My step son just bought Katie Perry Tickets, same venue, I won't even mention the exact cost, but he makes $9.00 an hour.

Not including gas or pink cocktails, that show cost him a month's wages.

So much sadness.

But where was I?

Passing pop culture to our kids.

I have been preparing myself for my little son's indifference for a long time now. He will never like my music. He probably won't like my movies. He definitley won't like my pathetically slow and impossible video games.

But books are a bit different, aren't they. (Not including the Mushroom Planet)

Books have a timeless quality about them. 6,000 years and Lao Tzu still makes more sense to me than Tony Robbins. Oscar Wilde is so much funnier than Neil Simon who is so much funnier than Tony Kushner.

At least I hope Kushner's trying to be funny.

If "Angel's in America" is not supposed to be a comedy, then Why? God? Why?

Anyway, over a long half decade, I'd pretty much given up trying to instill my pop culture sensibilities onto my son. He doesn't need me. He'll figure it out on his own.

So when he came home the other day and told me that he has to read for thirty minutes, I played coy and standoffish.

What can I read?

What would you like to read?

Can I read the Hunger Games?

Sure, but it's pretty violent.

How about "The Hobbit?"

Sure. But the letters are tiny.

What then?

How about Harry Potter?

Yeah, okay, I guess, but I can't reach them

[My bad, they're kind of beautifully displayed in our front cabinet with a shelf of their own]

Here. how long do you have to read for?

Thirty minutes.

Do you want me to set the timer?


[thirty minutes passes, timer goes off]

Timer's done. You can stop now. [I look over]

Kay . . . just let me finish this chapter.




Week in Wait . . . Dad? Format Changes

Well . . . let's see . . . 


I guess school's back in session. But you knew that already. In fact this year is quite landmark cause the new elementary starts later and ends later.

We call that a "Win-effing-Win" here at Wait . . . Dad? Manor.

The tall skinny one starts his fourth year of college soon. He's very anxious to be done, which I can totally get.

My brother starts his seventeenth year of college.

He too is very ready to be done.

He is also ready to start kicking my butt again in Fantasy Football. Which, although I have no plans of going down without at least some kind of fight this year, it's probably gonna happen. My one regret so far is taking Arian Foster over Doug Martin in the third round. It was a gutsy move, cause a hamstring injury is a lot more serious than a shoulder injury, but Foster's back-up is gonna have a much better year than Martin's backup, and I like a little testicle with my buffalo wings.

Speaking of Football, I have been considering changing the Wednesday format from a review piece to a football blog.

Crazy right?

But here's the thing.

I have like three, maybe even four general readers who like football too and might find a Wait . . . Dad? take on the sport kinda fun.

That and it means I can make my Rotowire subscription a tax write-off.

I'm kidding.

I don't have a Rotowire subscription.

Also, and this is key, I've been finding a lot of requests for sports blogs on the interwebs and would like to try my hand at it for awhile before I start submitting.

I pick Wednesdays cause the review format didn't really work. I wanted to start reviewing things like books and music and TV shows and Movies, but for some reason, I just couldn't get my head around it and it turned into more of a 'blah' personal exposé on the last six days of my life.

I'm afraid I'm not that interesting.

And maybe, for the remaining twenty six of you, Football won't be that interesting either, so I'll make a deal with you:

I'll put up a football blog for eight weeks and then compare the readership numbers against the eight previous weeks. If viewership goes up, I'll continue for the rest of the season, if viewership goes down, I'll find a more Pinterest worthy format.

Quilting? Suateeing? Decoupage with fingernail clippings?

Now I do promise that with this new format, I'll still be me.

Which means lots of terrible puns and a very liberal interpretation of statistics.

Now for the rest of you (Dad, Jeff, Steve, sometimes Jeremy, and really anyone), I'm a gonna need three things.

First, I need a name.

I was thinking something dirty like "Third and Long"

or something tough like "Grid Iron Mania"

or an acronym like "WMTSBUQB" (Wednesday Morning Third String Back Up Quarter Back)

So please, if you have any suggestions, drop me a line.

Secondly, I'm a gonna need some feedback. Not in the "Why didn't you mention the linebacker from Penn State who got caught taking a selfie with someone other than his girlfriend." kind of feedback. I just wanna know if it's informative, funny, and or worth the two hours it'll take me to write it and the five minutes it will take you to read it.

Finally, Trash-talk. I want the comments section on Facebook to look like an anit-abortion debate.

Feel free to feel strongly.

Anyway, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of my regular readers (Joann, Nicole, Shelia, Mom) and hope that you won't be too bored with this new format (and Shelia, I promise not to talk too much trash about the Seahawks, but I will a little.)

And for those of you who would get this joke:

What do you think the odds are that Tim Tebow gets a call from St. Louis this week?

Season begins in eight days . . . 


HTT: How To Morning

In the summer of 2011 I noticed something weird.

The weird thing I noticed is that everytime I would get up from a sitting position I would get this shooting pain in my lower back that made it really tough to stand upright. I didn't give it much thought, cause, well, getting older sucks, and there was a good chance I just wasn't getting enough sleep. There was also a good chance I wasn't getting enough exercise, that I was eating and drinking too much and that my posture was terrible.

My bad.

The pain drifted a bit. There were good days and bad days, but, for all intents and purposes, I am a boy and it would be a least another year before I decided maybe it was time to see a doctor.

The doc didn't have very good news for me.

Bad body mechanics had worn out a disc and was now pressing on my sciatic nerve. If you don't know what that is, it's the big nerve cluster at the base of your spine that connects to everything below it. Imagine hitting your funny bone on a kitchen cabinet door, that sharp pain followed by hours of dull ache.

That's what it feels like for me getting out of bed.

Except instead of just my elbow screaming, it's my hips, knees, calves, ankles and toes.

There are lots of fix-it possibilitites. There are exercises, and drugs, and injections. The is acupressure, acupuncture, chiroprators, therapists, and steady handed surgeons. There are even shoes.

None of that has worked yet, but I'm still hopeful.

And trust me, I'd much rather deal with my pain than deal with yours.

You people have some serious issues.

But the challenge isn't necessarily the pain, though that sucks; No, the real challenge is that I wasn't much of a morning person to begin with.

Case in point: I spent 15 years getting up before the sun and never not once ever has my internal clock reset itself. 15 years, five to six days a week, and I still need a forklift, a pot of coffee, and several quiet hours before I can be confused with an actual human being. I've slept through storms, earthquakes, crying two year olds and in the winter of 1997, I might have slept through the worst flood in California's history had my roommate not dragged me out of bed to help sandbag the front door.

So when I say I'm not a morning person, I mean that literally.

I am not a person in the morning.

I am cranky and puffy faced and racked with pain. I am unpleasant, impatient, and nothing like my chipper afternoon self.

But I have learned a few things.

A few things that might help those of you, who, like me, have never said "Good Morning" and not meant it ironically.

And in the immortal words of Bob Fosse "I can't make you a good dancer, but I can make you better."

Step One: A reason to get up.
You've got a job to do, you've got people counting on you, your car is underwater. Whatever. If you don't have a reason to get up, you have to manufacture one. Maybe develop a crush on the local Weather Girl, get hooked on an a.m. soap opera, maybe set a new rule that you can eat as much bacon as you want before 7:15. If any of that fails, as a last resort, drink a bottle of water before you go to bed each night. A gallon of urgent pee can be a life saver.

Step Two: A cold glass of water.
This one is actually scientifically sound. A glass of water not only hydrates you from eight hours of sweat loss and lubricates all of those dry bones and muscles, but the thermal exchange between your belly and some ice cold H20 actually jolts up your metabolism in preparation for chasing down leopards on the Sarengheti.

Step Three: Get into the shower quickly.
Some people might suggest a cold shower. But fuck them and the horse faced Tony Robbins they rode in on. Hot is just fine. It relieves the dullness, works out a few of those aches, and spending time with your naked body reminds you that you are indeed both alive and still have some work to do. It also forces you to put on some clean underwear afterward. A showerless morning = A skidmark plagued afternoon.

Step Four: Marry a morning person.
That may seem as preposterous as a cold shower, but it's actually one of the saaviest moves you'll ever make. First of all, morning people aren't bad people, think of them like border collie puppies, they're just excited to be alive and impatient for you to get on their level. Just open the door and throw the ball. And just like puppy ownership, you have to be firm, but kind. You have to draw the line of what is and what isn't acceptable morning behavior and you have to be careful not to hurt their feelings. I called my wife "Chatty Cathy" this morning, but I said it in a soft funny kind of way. She knows she was two seconds away from getting the hose again, but she also knows that I think she's pretty. And besides, if you marry someone like yourself, who's gonna make the coffee? I owe half of my life to that beautiful woman for her percolating skills alone.

Step Five: Simple food preparation
This morning I wanted to send my wife off with a healthy, nutricious breakfast, so I cooked up a kale, kidney bean frittata. This was a mistake. It required chopping and rinsing the kale, opening cans, scrambling eggs and playing with fire. There were too many sharp objects and way too much timing involved. Gotta eat? Keep it simple. Bagels, bowls of cereal, something you can eat and read. If like me, your low carbing it, consider a pre-made shake or something equally filling. You don't taste anything anyway. But, if like me, you wanna eat good solid, non-GMO foods, then consider just making it the night before. This morning may have been a mistake, but the leftovers will slide us through tomorrow with the greatest of ease. Next week, I'll know better, and frittata the night before. That won't be a challenge at all. Hell, I've started novels at 2 am, I think I can handle a pan of eggs.

Step Six: Consider Commuting to Work
Not traffic commuting (road rage will get someone killed) but like a nice thirty to forty minute drive, off the highway, maybe along the coast, or wine country. A thermos of coffee, windows cracked, NPR on the radio, or if it's August through December, ESPN. The return home won't be all that great, but consider a cup of hot chammomile, light classical, or stopping off to the side of the road midway through to hit some golf balls at the driving range. I spent a year with a fifty minute commute and I can positively tell you that it was the most pleasant, most productive era of my life.

Last Step: Consider becoming an artist.
Or any job really that bases your performance on output and not scheduling. Alarm clocks are like nine tenths of why we need gun laws. Now it won't make getting out of bed any easier, especially if you've been cursed with a ninety year old man's spinal column, but it does spread out the urgency a bit and allows you to be at your best when you are at your best.

No, you will never be a morning person. Not gonna happen.

But maybe, just maybe, you can get through this, homicide free.

And live to dance another day.   

Can I Get A Witness?

So I was in the middle of writing a very boring blog about entropy and the state of an elementary school parking lot when I heard a knock at the door.

The deep cavelike entry way to my front door reverberates just about every sound made and I could easily hear two men talking.

What exactly might two men be doing outside my front door at 10:30 am on a Monday morning?

I mean, there is clearly a 'No Soliciting" sign glued to my front door. Which I can say is usually about 37% effective against unwanted sales people, the other 67% either can't read or don't care.

Drives my wife crazy.

But it's an election year, so there is a good chance I'm gonna be asked about my opinions on the state of the local economy.

My only complaint: I think the death penalty should be used against violators of our current leash-laws and child abusers, but nothing else.

The third possibility . . . well . . . you know . . . Mormons.

I say that sarcastically, cause I have a nephew, whom I love very much, who is a student at BYU, and whom I wish nothing but happiness and success.

I think evangelizing a belief system against all kinds of indifference and opposition creates a certain temerity of the soul. Were that I could find a way to challenge my atheist children with such a task.

I may disagree philosophically, but as long as you like good food, you're always welcome at my table.

Anyway, I wasn't having any success with making entropy funny, so I decided to take a look-see.

The two men, an older gentleman and a young republican, both in suits, both with pleasant smiles, if I were to apply a description that would encapsulate what is probably their entire existence, I would probably say that they were 'Neatly Quaffed'

The older gentleman was holding a well read bible (good for him) and a stack of flyers.

Hi, what can I do for you?

Well, we're here to talk about finding answers to life's big questions. Finding answers through science, or philosophy, or through the word of Jehovah. Where do you find your answers?

Depends on the question, doesn't it? (yes, I actually said that.)

Well, we as Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the answer to all of life's questions can be found here in the [well read] bible. Questions about a happy marriage; I myself have two teenage boys and we all know what that can be like? [The three of us share a moment of joviality, though I suspect that the young republican isn't old enough to remember an era before Wifi] We'd like to tell you about this website, jw.org, that can help you in finding answers, not only to those questions, but also those answers to your role in the kingdom of heaven.

The older gentleman handed me his flyer, which I took graciously, I thanked them both and wished them a good afternoon.

Cause . . . why not?

And as I walked back to my kitchen, looking curiously into the leaflet, I realized something;

Despite all the lip service against the organization, the jokes, the taunts, the cultural punchlines;

I realized I know absolutely nothing about Jehovah's Witnesses.

Like . . . nothing at all.

I understand a good chunk of the idea behind the Latter Day Saints, Protestants, Evangelicals, Born Agains, Lutherans, Baptists, Southern Baptists, my wife grew up Catholic, I've read the bible cover to  cover.

I don't know a whole lot about Judaism, but they get the most exciting parts of the Bible.

If you haven't read the Old Testament, do it.

That shit is cray.

But what makes the JayDubs tick?

No idea.

So I looked it up. Their website first, and then, of course, Wikipedia second.

And what the dude told me was pretty much it.

They believe that the answers to all life's questions are there at your fingertips, written on rice paper and leather-bound.

Jehovah [That's God to you] gave us the bible in his own words, and it is through study, prayer, and the strict interpretation of the Watch Tower Society that we can deny the whisperings of the dread Lord Satan and join with Jehovah when he decides to extend the Kingdom of Heaven to include the Earth.

That's actually kinda nice if you think about it.

Stop thinking about stuff so much.

The answers are already there.

You might even say that they were 'Neatly Quaffed.'

They also don't believe in holidays. They think, and rightly so, that holidays we attribute to christianity, Christmas, Easter, July 4th, are in fact pagan rituals and are incompatible with the word of Jehovah.

As a multi-decade retail worker, I can hardly agree more.

They are devout evangelists, and as a multi-decade retail worker, I totally understand turn-over.

They believe in actually studying their bible.

Through strict Watch Tower interpretation, sure, but still, they've read their own book.

Looking at you, just about every other Jesus based religion followers.

So, I think we should take a very un-scientific approach to validating such a novel concept.

Here are the three questions that I am concerned with today:

1. What should I have for lunch?

2. Do I write, rehearse, clean, or spend the rest of my day on NFL.com?

3. How can I save my marriage?

Let's start with number one: What should I have for lunch?

Matthew 14:17 
We have here but five loaves and two fishes.

Tuna salad it is, but I'm on a low carb diet so no bread.

JayDub's get half a point.

2. Do I write, rehearse, clean, or spend the rest of my afternoon on NFL.com?

Matthew 13:52 
Therefore, every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven
 is like unto a man that is an householder, 
which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

Two points for the JayDubs, not only telling me to write (scribe) and clean (householder), but I didn't even have to turn to the index to find the answer, it was right next to the first one.

3. How can I save my marriage?

Arise, and be not afraid.

Total game changer. Put one in the 'Win' column for the JayDubs for not only good sound advice, but also for a perfectly framed penis joke.

Now, I've told you this particular story so that I can tell you the important one.

The Kingdom of Heaven, any of them, all of them, resides in love, laughter, kindness, courage, foot rubs, and two top ten running backs on your fantasy football team.

Most of that can be found in any book you open, most of that can be found in any religion you choose. Most of that can be found in just about everyone you meet (child abusers and violators of leash-laws excluded, of course).

You can find the Kingdom of Heaven just about everywhere you care to look.

Can I get a witness?

Why You Can't SUV Five

There is a very narrow sidestreet adjacent to my son's school which is the perfect drop off pick up point for savvy parents like myself who religiously prefer to avoid the the obvious bottleneck situations and unprotected left hand turns.

Only one problem.

Actually, more like hundreds of the same problem.

And that problem is SUV's.

They are frigging everywhere.

And the narrow street adjacent to my son's school wasn't prepared.

When you consider that you've got cars parked on both sides of the street and hundreds of kids and parents meandering through the boulevard like it was Disneyland, there's barely enough room for a Ford Fiesta to squeeze in and out of, let alone two suburban assault tanks. 

Standing for Sport Utility Vehicle, the SUV used to be the vehicle of choice for Jeep lovers and dog owners, but sometime in the late nineties (we're talking 20th Century here) the SUV became the high powered replacement for the seriously un-cool mini-van.

And I get it.

I totally do.

And in all honest disclosure, I own one myself. That's right, I too am a crossover enthusiast. Lots of members of my family are SUV drivers too. No, I don't go off-roading, no I'm not hauling much more than my little Echo couldn't handle with ease, and no, it's not even 4 wheel drive, so I most likely couldn't even drive it up my front lawn.

But it's a nice V-Six sitting cozy on a front wheel drive automatic trasmission, it feels safe and heavy at freeway speeds, and my wife looks hot in it.

So there's that.

It's definitley the car for me.

But it's not the car for you.

And I've got five reasons why:

Number One: You Don't Know How to Drive It
You may think you can drive it. The Y suspension and cozy cockpit kind of lull you into thinking you're driving a mid sized luxury sedan, but you're not. You are a good two to three feet further from the ground than you really should be which makes you top heavy and unwieldy at high speeds. And because they don't make them with manual transmissions, you have virtually no direct control of how the engine engages between zero and about 15 miles per hour. The exact speed you need to be going down narrow streets adjacent to elementary schools.

And speaking of low speeds,

Number Two: You Don't Know How To Park It
Jesus said something about pushing a camel through the eye of a needle being easier than gettin a rich man into heaven. (Matthew 19:24) He only used that hyperbole because he never saw a Whole Food's parking lot. Had he gone up and down the rows, he would have been able to see that not a single on of you found a way to comfortably manuever between the lines. I've seen parents having to pull their children through the windows because none of the doors would open wide enough for an eight year old girl to slip through.

And speaking of eight year old girls,

Number Three: You're Too Short For It.
If your line of sight isn't at least six inches above the steering wheel, if you can't see the edge of the hood, then this is not the car for you. First of all, a 4'10" soccer mom having to use a hand hold to pull herself onto the first step, looks dowright stupid. And because she can't see the first sixteen feet in front of the bumper, well, that's how dogs die.

And speaking of dead animals,

Number Four: The Amount of Fossil Fuels You're Burning is Literally How the Terrorists Win.
Actually, that's not true at all (sorta). Most of the "Foreign Oil" you're using is Canadian. They're good people. And in truth, the only way to secure commitment to renewable energies is for the costs to be equal or less than the resource burning competition. So . . . guzzle away my friends . . . I want an electric car before I die.

And speaking of supply and demand economics,

Number Five: You Can't Afford It.
True story: Long returning customer walks in.

I say "Hey Nancy, haven't seen you all week. Where ya been?"

And she says "Well me and John [her husband] were looking over our bank statements and we discovered we were spending a small fortune here and decided to cut back to once or twice a week."

I can only smile. I like her a lot as a person. And she's right. Together, they spend more on their coffee per month than some of my part time workers used to make in the same amount of time.

But I sold a luxury product for high prices. That's how business works.

And since I did like her and her husband, I wanted to help. Maybe getting a small instead of a medium. Maybe getting the oatmeal bar instead of the scone. And maybe she didn't know that I was charging her for both the vanilla and the caramel, cause that's what she wants, but she was paying double for different flavored sugars. That's like 75 cents per adjective.

But what I was really smiling about is because the SUV she just pulled up in was costing $650 in autol-loan fees alone. I also knew that her husband's Mercedes SUV was costing upwards of $800 per month. (I know this cause I'm a gossip queen and I eavesdrop with impunity, I mean did they really think I was sweeping the lobby all the time cause cared about clean floors?)

Cars are in fact, the absolute worst dollar for dollar investment (sans Mortgage Backed Securities). The minute you drive them off the lot you've lost nearly 30 percent of their value.

Now let's just say for fun sake that John and Nancy (not their real names) used their down payment cash and purchase a couple of clean presentable five year old Honda Accords. Not flashy, but you know, elegant, and there really isn't any reason to drive faster than 80, or go off-roading in the wine country, so serviceable.

So they own the cars outright. Since there is lots of city driving going on, they'd probably halve their gas consumption from lets say $250 a month to about $120. Their insurance is less, assuming they have an alarm installed, their maintenance fees are much much less.

So let's put their average monthly savings at right around $1,800.

And let's say they kept this experiment going for five years.

The exact amount of years before their twin boys turn sixteen.

Just a little math . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . 

John and Nancy would have a round about savings of $108,000.

So in five years, give or take, they are spending $108,000 (extra) on two cars that they can't drive, can't park, look stupid in, support Al Queda with (joking), and is forcing them to think seriously about managing the size of their lattes.

So I ask you? Can you afford and SUV?

Yeah, kinda didn't think so.

But in conclusion, and this is super important, cars are awesome.

Big cars, nimble cars, luxury cars, fast cars. The roar of a V8, the high pitched squeel of a turn takin like a man, the moment when you floor it on a freeway on-ramp to get ahead of a barreling semi and the torque just grabs you by the balls and throws you out into space.

Awe yea.

So get whatever car you fall in love with. The more ridiculously you the better. I'll ask you to let me drive it long before I'd ever sit in judgement.

Unless of course you're that one lady this morning who shut down the enitre narrow street because she parked her vehicle halfway into the road and needed the other half to open her door and spend fifteen minutes unbuckling her children from car seats that were so high up she couldn't reach them.

Her I'm gonna judge.

TBT: First Day of Fourth

The Year: 1985

Orwell had gotten some if it wrong.

Not for any lack of trying, god knows, but because the technology hadn't quite caught up yet. And, as it turns out, who needs the Thought Police when a good marketing department can do the same thing?

Fox News is anything but subliminal.

Pete Rose just beat Ty Cobb's hit record. Go Pete. He'll be a Hall of Famer for sure.

"We Are The World" hits the airwaves and Michael Jackson just bought all the Beatle songs.

You say you want a revolution? Well . . . you know.

Iraq dropped some bombs on Iran. Apartheid is still real, East Germany is still very real, and the Glass-Steagal Act super-annoyingly unrepealed.

And I missed the first day of school.

I don't remember why though, honestly. It was probably some wedding or something, but I remember it not being all that big a deal.

Back in the good old days, the first day of school was always the Wednesday after Labor Day. You came in, found your seat and did nothing for three days, except decide how much you're gonna hate your teacher.

The following Monday was when things got rolling.

The reason I remember missing the first-first day was because I very much remember my-first day, and being distinctly lost.

Up on the chalk board (dry erase had not yet become king) was a riddle.

"Animal Beverage."

The teacher called it something. It was some sort of game. Those who solved the riddle got some sort of prize. (We didn't understand how sugar effects nine year olds back then, so I'm pretty sure the prize was candy)

I was super lost.

Thankfully I was sitting right next to Joe Mitchell.

The reason I remember his name exactly was because he was smart and confident and his best friend was named Mitchell Jo.

Swear to God.

Joe Mitchell was also friendlier than Mitchell Jo, I'd like to think it was because me and him had the same initials, but it might have been something else.

I might have asked Joe Mitchell for help since he was sitting right next to me.

But I think he was a classy kid and just saw that I was hopelessly lost.

"It's a rhyme." he said.

"lkjashdlkj?" I replied.

"It's a rhyme." he repeated. "You have to find a synonym that rhymes."

Yes, I did indeed think he said 'cinnamon'

But that was all the instruction he was able to whisper as our teacher cleared her throat and ushered us back to silence. I glanced over to him, hoping there was more, but he was busy solving the riddle himself. He tore off a sheet of paper and folded it and looked pleased with himself.

"What rhymes with 'Animal'?" I thought to myself.

And then I had my breakthrough.

Maybe it's not a word that rhymes with 'Animal', maybe it's an animal that rhymes.

The answer is 'Dodo'



Pronounced Dough Dough.

It's a bird.

And 'Dough' technically, rhymes with 'Dough'

Smug little me wrote that down and folded my own paper, looking very pleased.

The teacher came around the room with a big glass jar and had each of us put our folded answers inside. Once she had collected all the answers, she went to the chalkboard (we called them Blackboards then, even though they were clearly green), and one by one, began removing the folded slips of paper and writing down all the different answers.

Most of the kids, probably smarter than me, but definitly with three days worth of edge, answered  Moose Juice, with an honorable mention going to the kid who answered,  Deer Beer.

She wrote each of the wrong answers down too.

There were close ones like Goat Coke, and Mice Ice (technically not a beverage). And had I'd understood the game and been blessed, like I am now, with twenty years of professional lyric writing, I might have added Swine Wine, and Daughter Water. (Daughters are technically animals)

But all I had was Dodo.

And when she unfolded my paper, I already knew how hopelessly wrong I was, and feeling kinda bad about it.

She looked at my answer. Sighed. Annoyed. And wrote it down on the blackboard with the most dejected sense of tolerance I had ever seen.

I have felt very stupid many times, but that was the only time I ever felt as though my being stupid had actually ruined someone else's day.

I still feel the ache of that moment. Isn't it amazing how of all the things we accomplish in life, it's the insignificant paper cuts that leave the deepest scars.

I dropped my son off to his first day of fourth grade this morning. There were no weddings to attend, thankfully, so he's gonna get the same start as the rest of the kids.

And his teacher, unlike mine, is young and enthusiastic and hopefully it'll be many years before her soul is crushed by hundreds of little slips of paper with the word "Dodo" written on them.

Do you know why Dodo became a synonym for stupid?

It's because the odd looking little birds had never learned to fear mankind (or fourth grade teachers) and would walked right up to the barrel of a hunter's gun.

If I remember correctly, once they were discovered, they were extinct in less than ten years.

Thankfully, I'm a much quicker learner than the Dodo ever was.

And, thankfully, my son is a much quicker learner than me.

You tell me that it's evolution. Well . . . you know.

Week In Review: Ticonderoga

It's a special week here in Wait . . . Dad? Mannor.

It's back to school week.

What does that mean exactly?

Not a lot.

Bedtimes are now offcially shaved back to a reasonable hour. We get to see how much our little guy has grown since the last time he actually wore shoes. Meals have to be planned. Homework time has to be planned. Cheetoes and Capri Suns must be purchased. And at some point I'm gonna have to teach him how to throw a punch and how the only way to get girls to pay attention to you is to treat them like dirt.

I'm kidding about the last two.

Or am I?


This year he starts in a new class, the accelerated learning class which he didn't quite make but everyone figures he'll blend in. I went to the parent teacher night and even though we are two days from Day 1, some parents are already complaining about having to juggle homework and soccer practice. One woman in particular seemed so overwhelmed by it she was on the edge of panic.

The teacher, whom I like very much, just kinda shrugged and went on to the next part of her powerpoint presentation.

My feeling is that if you didn't want to help build a Mission, then, well, I only have one word for you.


(Adoption could have been another, but considering the amount of weekdays she mentioned as soccer days, I can only assume the Birth Control is a sin.)

But the bigger point, is that YES, the fourth grade is where the kids start learning Californian History.

We will be taking field trips to Gold Country, and building models of missions, and hopefully we can get all the way up to the Reagan years and the teacher can use New Math to explain trickle down economics.

They get to learn science stuff too.

They get to work in the dirt and manage a pot farm.

The teacher also mentioned that there will be a Rock project as well.

I almost asked if it was going to be focused on Classic or Progressive, but this was not my room.

The thing I didn't mention was the supplies.

There are so many supplies needed.

Like soooooo many.

What struck me as interesting is that this class is progressing to paperless.

The kids will have individual laptops, their own closed circuit email addresses and will be doing their homework online.

Cool right?

So why exactly did I find myself standing in my kitchen counter sharpening 24 Ticonderoga #2 pencils. I have purchased and sharpened, starting in the first grade now to the fourth, nearly Ticonderoga #2 pencils for school use, and yet, and yet, The one I use at my desk, the one I write with, has been around since before my son was even born.

There is no chance on earth he has gone through 72 of those things in a scant 3 years. I am starting to think there is a secondary market for slightly used school supplies that the Disctrict is using to fund nitrogen boosters for their fourth grade pot farms.

And not only do I have to buy the things, I have to sharpen them too.

Which, now that I think about it.

I don't really mind

cause, well, you know,


The first day of school cannot be achieved without at least once getting the soft smokey scent of freshly sharpened pencils in your nose. The feel of a real wooden pencil and not those cheap springy things with the soft lead. The green and silver nib holding onto the dusty pink eraser. These are the first signs of Autumn and the circle of life simply cannot spin without them.

Tune in Tomorrow for a Special Edition Throwback Thursday where I'll talk about my own first day of the 4th Grade.

Or, what I can remember at least.

Or, what I feel like making up on the spot.

HTT: How To Bath

I'm a shower guy.

And it's a good thing too.

Because at around hour 27 passed my last shower, all kinds of things start leaking out of my pores. Things like garlic, onions, full diapers, and wet puppy dogs.

Joann calls it 'Man Smell'

Not, 'Josh Smell'

Man Smell.

She'll say it with a smile, but I can clearly see her ear twitching and her left eye filling with water.

At night she'll just roll far away from me and press the bottom of her cold cold feet against my thigh like  a battleship firing a warning shot.

Come no closer.

So my rule has pretty much always been 'Shower every day . . . sometimes twice.'

But today's How to Tuesday isn't about how to shower. Showering is easy. It can be done before you've had two cups of coffee. And my rule is if something can be done before you've had coffee than it probably doesn't need an instruction manual.

Actually, I just made that up.

But the logic is sound.

No, today's HTT is about the Bath.

Taking a bath is something that should never be considered before you've had a cup of coffee. That's like trying to play Russian Roulette while naked and covered in soap.

There are a lot of hard surfaces in the bathroom and you need to be aware of their abilities to conspire with both gravity and your lack of grace.

Simply put: Your bathroom is trying to kill you.

But baths aren't just household killers, nor are they just water-wasting, time-wasting, Man-smell irradicators.

No, baths are soothing.

They're calming and relaxing. They open the pores and the sinuses, they wrinkle the fingers and wrinkle the toes. They clear your head and make you sleepy.

The drawback is that they are like cat-nip for serial killers, but if you believe everything you see on screen, they are also a prelude to really hot sex.

I like those odds.

Anyway if you are a beginner or a seasoned bath professional, here are a few tips and tools to make your bathing experience safe and delightful:

First thing: You need a bathtub.
I know that sounds obvious, but this is advice for the people househunting and or apartment shopping. My wife and I didn't have much of a choice when purchasing our first home and we lucked out in sooooo many ways, but the bathtub situation . . . well . . . rather sad.

Our bathtub is a little more than four feet long, and just a bit more two feet wide, and just shy of 18 inches deep.

That's not enough tub.

We obviously make do, but this is not the tub for hard core bath enthusiasts, and there certainly isn't room for serial killers . . . or, you know . . . the other thing.

So make sure when you are house hunting, or even hotel trolling, that you consider the size of the tub.

Next: You're gonna need a book.
To really enjoy a bath, takes time. The water has to fill, the bubbles have to bubble, the steam has to rise. But if your thoughts are anything like mine, you probably don't want to be alone with them for that long.

The book you choose should be a paper-back (hard covers don't like steam), it should be trashy (cause all books should be trashy), and it should be the kind of book that you can read a few chapters and then forget about until your next bath.

Magazines are okay, I guess, but I find them to be unwieldy.

I have an entire shelving unit filled with mass-market paperbacks, all of which I've read two or three times that are perfect for baths because I don't really care if they get wet or if I lose them all together. Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Jane Austen, Anne Rice, and any and all science fiction. Don't overthink it.

Thirdly: Bubbles or Bath salts.
You choose. Doesn't make much difference to me. I prefer the good smelling stuff. Essence of lemon grass or lavender, whatever. If you're a girl it's just gonna make you feel good about your life and if you're a boy, it's perfectly acceptable to be a little gay.

My mom gave me a big tub of bath salts that makes your skin feel all tingly. And as I said, a bath is not just a way to get clean, it should be a heightened experience.

In a pinch you can use dish soap.

Fourthly: Something to drink.
If you bath right (with hot hot water) you're gonna sweat and you're gonna need to replace that salty brine with some kind of fluid.

I go old school and stick with ice water. Juice can be a thing too, but milk is just gross. Now if you're planning on going straight to bed then alcohol is reasonable, but it should be cold and something you feel comfortable drinking out of a plastic cup.

Glass is dangerous.

Chilled white wine is a good choice. You can even bulk it up with several cubes of ice. I won't tell.

Beer is outlawed.

While farting in the tub is both fun and refreshing, burping can make your body unstable and either splash water all over the place or make you drop your book.

Next: Relax and enjoy for a bit.
Let the soft white noise of the falling water lull you. Let the steam fog up your head. This is 'You Time'

Now, when the water reaches it's peak height, turn it off and enjoy the silence. As the water cools you will cool with it. Gravity relaxes it's grip and long before Jack Ryan finds the Red October, you will find yourself at peace.

However, it used to be perfectly fine to let a little water out and add more of the hot stuff, but we are in a drought, so, you know, be a little earth conscience.

Once you are done there are two methods of getting out:

The first, and my favorite, is to put my book away, drain the last drops of my watered down chardonnay, pull the plug, close my eyes, and feel gravity slowly pull my body (soul) back down to earth. If you choose this method, be sure to get up very very slowly cause you're still naked and covered in soap and just a little punch drunk.

The second is to stand slowly, grab your towel and dry yourself off as you exit the tub.

Either way, remember that all kinds of sticky dirt/deadskin/toe-jam/buttbooger stuff is going to pool on the surface of the tub without actually running away with the water. If you love your wife, you will spray it down with the shower head for a few seconds after you've regained your composure.

It's one thing to be earth-conscience, it's another to avoid hours of scrubbing with caustic substances to remove years of ugly rings.

Finally, for Safety:
Remember, your bathroom is trying to kill you. Always move slowly and deliberately and really try to limit yourself to the amount of alcohol you would drink before driving your child and his friends on a class field trip.

Also, remember that your son has no intention of knocking, and doesn't need to see you naked, so lock the door.

Locking the door is also good because . . . well . . . serial killers.

but make sure your wife has a key

because . . . well . . . the other thing. 

Road Rash

So my son fell of his bike this morning.

Yes, he was wearing his helmut.

Yes, that is how you spell 'helmut' but it's always gonna look weird.

No, he didn't break any bones.

But he did get quite a nice bit of road rash from the middle of his calf all the way up to his knee.

Don't worry, there was hardly any blood.

Yet for a kid who seems so fearful of the big scary outside world, he sure does crash and burn a lot. So much in fact, that we are almost out of band aids. For his birthday in a few weeks I'm seriously considering getting him a jumbo sized first aid kit.

Just what every boy wants.

An unlimited suppy of gauze and anti-bacterial wipes.

He also had this tiny knick on the end of his big toe.

He insisted that that too needed a bandaid.

Which is why we've run out of bandaids.

It's not the pain of the wound that freaks him out, it's the sight of it.

So after calming him down and covering him head to toe with neosporin, he was back outside and ready to take on the universe.


That's such a good word for such a fascinating concept.


I often stop to think about what 'success' means. Or in corporate speak what success 'looks like.'

What's the Big Picture? What will the view be from Journey's End. And the project can be small, like losing the last inch before you squeeze your butt into those old jeans, it can be big, like, quiting your job to chase a dream, or it can be monsterous, like, maybe living a life worth living.

And there are such highly towted atributes such as strength, fearlessness, courage and preseverance.

But we honestly use those kinds of words when we really mean single-minded, pig-headed, dogmatic, insane, or too stupid to take no for an answer.

But resilience is something different, isn't it?

It's fluid, malleable, you might even say organic. It responds to the blows of life, not in the way heated iron might respond to the blows of a smith's hammer, but in the way a lake might respond to a skipping stone.

The lake doesn't ignore the stone. It doesn't spend any time seeking ways to protect itself from future stones. It ripples and then lets the stone sink in for a bit and pretty much goes "Okay . . . well that happened."

Imagine all the things that happen within a day, a week, a lifetime, all the damage, from contusions of the skin to compound fractures of the heart. It's not courage or strength that calms the waters, it's resilience.

Resilience can be like a big fat tube of Neosporin. Apply liberally to the affected area. Repeat until you're all healed up.

But it can't be applied to everything. Obviously a zen approach to life isn't going to magically wash the dishes or write this blog, and . . . if I hadn't been too pig-headed to take 'no' for an answer, I may never have been able to convince my wife that I was the love of her life.

You gotta pound the pavement sometimes.

I don't suggest you do that literally by falling off your bicycle.

But pound the pavement none-the-less.

And pound it with the understand that the metaphorical road rash is gonna be a thing.

And after the pain and the blood and the tears and the anit-bacterial wipes are all gone, just think about running out to your friends and slowly peeling the bandaid back; "Dudes . . . check this out."

Danglin Dog-Day Five

Summer's almost over.

Kids go back to school next week.

Poor things.

And I have to start getting up early and making breakfast.

Poor me.

Anyway, it's been a lovely summer and I thought I'd reminisce.

First Up: The Rubik's Cube competition
In February, my son made me learn how to solve a Rubik's Cube cause he wanted to learn how to do it too. By April we were ordering speed cubes so that he could get his time down. By May he was averaging less than a minute on the 3X3, and less than twenty second on the 2X2 and the Pyraminx. By June, at eight years old, he participated in his first competition. He came in fourth from last place, but was the youngest dude there and is now a nationally ranked speed cube competitor.

If that last paragraph didn't absolutely reek of parental pride then you gots to go get your nose checked.

Second: The Harmony Pedal
For really the first time I made an investment in my sound rather than in hustling for gigs. The vocal harmony pedal took my live show up a good fifteen notches and I finally feel good up there.

Third: The Water Park
Calvin finally convinced me to take him to the water park, which despite living right next door to it for almost a decade, we had never done. Well, we've done it now.

Fourth: The Little Garden that Couldn't
We did everything we could, even got the experts involved, but our pretty little vegetable garden hasn't harvested much more than a handful of hot peppers and cherry tomatoes. There is hope though; With the cooler weather coming in, some of the plants think it's spring and are flowering, so who knows?

Fifth: The Moment I've Been Waiting For

I got offered a gig.

Which doesn't sound all that exciting.

But I got offered a gig from a venue that I've never solicited.

Did you get that?

A venue actually sought me out!

I just got 'word-of-mouthed'

In a video game we would call that 'Leveling Up'

I wonder what next summer is gonna look like.

TBT: Breakfast at Lego-land. Table for Two

Yes, I know this picture isn't exactly a throw back.

But it really should be.

And I'll tell you why;

Christmas 2011 my brother got my son this beautiful, massive Lego set. There isn't a kid alive who doesn't like Legos, just as there isn't a parent alive without scars on the bottoms of their feet.

Now a curious thing happens with Lego sets come birthdays and christmas. My son was born with three sets of grandparents, a plethera of aunts and uncles, and a host of children in the cul-de-sac. So when it's time to open presents, my wife and I have become masters of toy organization. There are the "I need to play with this now!" kind of toys, the "We're gonna have fun with this in a few minutes" kind of toys, and the "This is not the time or place to pop 3,672 little plastic pieces out of their bags, Oh look, Cake!, Lemme just put this box in the car." kind of toys.

Guess which pile the Legos head for?

And as I said, this was a beautiful massive Lego set.

So it didn't fall under the later category of "I'm bored" or "What should I do in the seven minutes before soccer practice.

This was a rainy-day Lego set.

But here's the thing: It never rained that year.

Sure there might have been some drizzle. The might have been like six or maybe even seven dark looking clouds, but 2011 took us right into the drought and beyond.

And because this massive beautiful Lego set was in a perfectly rectangular box, it stored very comfortably in the toy closet of no return.

Now don't get me wrong. The Closet of No Return isn't exactly on the other side of the river Styxx. About four times a year my wife, realizing that she can't handle another day without being able to slide the closet shut, will do a massive reorganization/donation/bon fire with all the old and forgotten toys.

And each time she has done this, she has pulled out this beautiful massive Lego set and stared at it for probably at least like eight minutes, tryng to figure out the most ideal time to break it out and let the boy get his play on.

But it never rains.

And although the box clearly says it's for ages 8-14, such a suggestion is a lie. This was going to require some adult supervision, at least until the build is finished. Once the build is done, the kid can do whatever he wants with the pieces. That is the way of the world.

But if this thing requires adult supervision, then it's probably going to require a time investment, and Daddy can be a bit of a prick when it comes to unscheduled time investment.

Me, I'm daddy.

So I was surprised to see this box open and spread out on the dining room table as I made my way from the bathroom to wherever it is we keep the coffee pot.

"What the hell?" said prick daddy.

"Calvin wanted to play Legos this morning." she said.

"Of course he did." said prick daddy as he began microwaving his blackbean and spinach fritata.

"I thought you two could have fun doing this today." she said.

"Of course you did." said prick daddy as he grabbed the sriracha sauce out of the fridge, his fritata out of the microwave, and sat down to blindly eat his breakfast, listening closely for the coffee pot to finish gurgling.

"That looks good." she said.

"It is. Would you like some?" said a slightly softened version of prick daddy.

"No I already had a bagel." she said as she wandered off to do the kinds of things girls do when they're getting ready for work and nothing fits them.

So slightly softened prick daddy ate his meal and watched his son diligently putting together what would turn out to be the body of a four headed dragon.

And then something happened;

Slightly softened prick daddy got a little jealous. And he got a little nostalgic. And he remembered every movie ever where prick daddies finally come to understand that the joy in life isn't in money or cars or high class hookers, it's in spending gobs of time doing eight year old things with eight year old kids, preferably ralated to you.

And, as I said, this was a beautiful massive Lego set.

And my wife straight up told me to take the day off from writing and play with your son, god-dammit!

Who am I to argue?

But then another thing happened.

Completely softened prick daddy suddenly became very worried that this might be one of those moments where eight year old boy wants to test his mad skills and has no intention of letting prick daddy muscle in on his territory.

Prick Daddy felt very sad about that possibility, but he wasn't going to let his guard down so quickly.

"So . . . kiddo . . . would you, uh, would you like to put this together all by yourself, or, um, would you like it if I helped?" I asked.

Apparently, asking my son to let me play with his Legos is exactly like being in highschool and trying to ask a girl out on a date.

I could honestly feel zits growing in places zits haven't grown for over twenty years.

"You don't have to help me." he said.

OMG he was trying to let me down easy.

"You should do what you want." he said not looking up. 

Is this some sort of code?

Long pause.

"I just think it would be funner if you helped." he finished.

Awe Heels Yeah!

I grabbed an instruction booklet (there were three), a fat bag full of random plastic fun-ness, and dug in.

Now, modern Legos are a bit mystifying.

There are a lot more specialized pieces than I'd ever seen before. Pieces that would have made me wet my pants with glee three decades ago. We didn't have snake teeth or marble firing dragon heads.

We had, like, blue, and yellow, and square, and you had to be extremely careful when putting together two thin rectangles of the same size, because you were never going to be able to get them apart again.

And there are a lot of little pieces. I mean little.

And there is a lot of manual dexterity involved and sometimes the pieces don't slide in the way they're supposed to slide in (Calvin's fingers acutally slipped at one point and he got a nice little gash on his thumb).

But complexity and potential blood-letting aside.

A morning with my son and a beautiful massive Lego set is a morning well spent.

Even if it should have happened years ago. 

Week In Review: Poverty To Poets

This week marks the end of a very long stretch.

When I go back and think about it, it feels like last week started out at the end of June. 

I'm not complaining, July 2014 turned out to be the kind of month I had anticipated when I started this little adventure. Ten shows, with just a few days off in between, spent gobs of time hanging out with my little dude, finally harvested an edible tomato (just one, but it was delicious), got into full swing fantasy football, and had dinner on the table for my pretty little wife everynight.

But I must say, when my wife turned to me last night and said "We don't have any plans this weekend do we?" I realized how glad I was that that was true. Again, not complainin, but a touched relieved.

Of the ten shows I played, only two of them were inside. The rest were all about banging on the guit-fiddle under the terrible sun. I spent a good portion of this month very damp. Although, I did discover which shirts show sweat stains the most. So . . . like yeah . . . it's all about learning.

Anyway, this week we slipped gently into that cool August, and it went something like this:

This Week in Success:
Because I've finally got the equipment I need to put on a show, and enough solid material to MC just about any event, there was for the first time this year, a positive balance in my cash flow. This is the first week I've been able to buy more than a week's worth of groceries, fill up my gas tank, and pay a credit card bill. All with Music Money.

Feels freaking amazing.

This Week in Music:
Joann and I have started working on music for her to sing. A project that has been on the back burner for, man this is sad, for over a decade now. We're just picking songs and trying out keys at this point so don't race off to fund the Kickstarter Campaign just yet, but it's a treat to be starting something, even if it is just the suburban indie equivalent to the Mah&Pah Family Band.

This Week In Shows:
Had two back to back shows this weekend. One, a street show for Sacramento's Second Saturday Art Walk. This is always a treat. I play, we have a few beers, pass out some business cards, get some pocket money in tips, try out new songs when nobody is paying attention.

There was an episode though. A homeless guy (?), a little scary looking, probably stoned, probably just a bit off his rocker, came right up to the gate while I was playing one of my slow songs. He was pacing back and forth, staring me down and violently running his hands through his hair like he was getting pumped for a knife fight.

Now I don't know about you, but I'm a bit of a sissy when it comes to confrontation. I will avoid it at all costs, because, and this is true, there's a part of me that makes a switch from scared, to very, very, angry. And this dude had me cornered real good, while my wife and son stood watching about ten feet away.

So I'm in the middle of playing a soft love song while in my head I'm trying to figure out which piece of equipment has the lowest dollar to deadly ratio. Like, I could Jimi Hendrix this nut, and that would be the end of that, except it would also destroy a $700 guitar. There is also a heavy speaker and a dangerously knobby mixing board, but I'd have to be pretty quick with unplugging all the chords and neither would give me much reach.

I was kicking myself for not bringing my brass music stand.

Anyway, I had settled upon the microphone stand as my best choice. Cheap, easily replacable, good reach for both a jab and a swing, and there were enough people out on the street to stop the fight if I missed.

I hoped.

But then logic kicked in, remember I'm still singing and playing at this point, and I realized that I should probably just try looking intimidating first before considering bashing in his solar-plexus with a fist full of SM58.

So I stared right back at him.

And winked.

That chilled him right down and he smiled and backed up a bit.

But he didn't go away.

Which was fine, he had every right to be crazy on a public sidewalk.

Except he was scaring off my audience.

And I was having a good night. People were crossing the street to drop cash in my tip jar.

A song later, he came up and introduced himself as Ernesto.

I shook his hand and gave it a hearty squeeze. His grip was weak.

Gotta lose respect for a man with a weak grip. Now instead of scared, I was just annoyed.

Dude was costing me money, but it was the end of the night anyway and my wife gestured for me to continue playing until he went away. But that wasn't really the kind of hint he was going to take, so I finished up my set and started tearing down.

The first thing I did, obviously, was to grab my tip jar from my street side table. Once the cash was out of sight, I did my normal routine. Somewhere in the middle of that, Ernesto came up to me, and almost politely asked if I could give him two dollars for beer.

And I said "Sorry, I don't have any cash on me."

Which was absolutely technically true, all the cash I had was tucked away in my wife's safe keeping (cause that is the way of things), but he looked at me like I was crazy and finally walked away.

Now, here's the thing. A good chunk of me is a socialist. I honestly believe in a regulated distribution of wealth, especially when it applies to social programs such as education and healthcare. I also believe in paying taxes. A trillion dollar US company shouldn't be allowed cheat with an offshore account, nor should an investment bank pay less taxes on their capital gains than I do with my sweat and blood.

So there's that.

And here was a guy, who knows when he had his last meal, who knows when he'll eat his next, who knows what his mental challenge is or what good-will he burned along the way because his neurons don't fire off in a socially acceptable manner. A Forty of Olde English might quiet his senses a bit, and probably provide half a day's worth of calories.

And what is two dollars to me?

Me, who is packing two thousand dollars worth of equipment into a twenty thousand dollar car so I could snuggle up to my pretty wife in our three hundred thousand dollar home.

So I'm clearly a bleeding heart liberal when talking about twenty million of Donald Trump's cash flow and clearly a Tea Party Libertarian when it comes to two dollars of my own.

There's certainly some hypocrisy there, but I gotta be honest, I don't like pan-handling. I don't like door to door salespeople, and I don't like Geico commercials. Street Bums and Insurance Companies have no product to offer other than relieving me of a small piece of guilt.

Had the dude sat down with a bucket and a pair of sticks and done his best to bang out a rythym, then hell yeah I would've dropped a Jefferson on him, and yes he scared off some of my audience, but he also could have easily grabbed my entire tip jar and ran away with it.

I wouldn't have chased him.

In the end, I didn't have to. He went his way, I went mine.

I did say that I had two shows this weekend, but if you think the first show had a story, wait till next week when I give you the D.A.M. Festival.

Which brings us to the final part of this week's Week In Review;

Week in Williams:
We all found out Monday afternoon that the great comedic actor Robin Williams was found dead in his home in Tiburon, an apparent suicide.

That is sad.

Fame, Fortune, and Legendary Iconic Status.

As much as we'd like to believe, none of those things are ingredients in a fat slice of Serenity Pie.

Shame that we chase those things with such singular relentlessness.

But if you want my opinion, and I know you do, there are some sure fire things you can greedily consume that will make the difference between a successful life, and a life well spent:

Go get yourself some laughter,

from a giggle to a cackle. 

And a little human touch,

must be requited.

And good food,

any kind.

And a queit nap, and a new set of guitar strings, and an unscheduled weekend.

But that's just my recipe.

You can always add raisins if you want.

HTT: How To Turkey Bacon

I'm pretty sure that I've said this before.

But I think we all need to consider Turkey Bacon as an actual food.

However, and this is a 'must understand', there have to be a few ground rules. The breaking of any one of which will undermine all the progress we've made so far as to dismantle the entire theory that one can enjoy Turkey Bacon with impunity.

Since there never will be any formal study, for the pork lobby is too strong, and the health food lobby weakly protein deficient, I've taken upon myself to run several taste trials and method experimentation. My data has been tracked informally, and yes, you might be able to say that it is just one man's opinion and therefore scientifically invalid, but I assure you, as both a proponent of sizzling belly fat, salt, apple-wood smoke, foodie purist, and a champion of good eats, I'm simply the best friend turkey bacon will ever have.

Also, I doubt very highly that Ron Swanson reads my blogs, so there shouldn't be fear of fictional retrobution.

Anyway . . . 

Here are the ground rules:

First and Foremost: Turkey Bacon is NOT a bacon substitute, but it can be an alternative.

Case in point, you can use a slices of cooked Turkey Bacon to seperate the layers of deli meat in a club sandwich, but you cannot make a BLT with it. You can't, don't do it.

Also, you can have eggs and Turkey Bacon for breakfast. It is salty and chewy and rich in animal protien, however, you can not order it at a breakfast cafe. You do not go to cafes because you're interested in making good decisions. You go to breakfast cafes to be bad.

Be bad.

Also, Turkey Bacon is not acceptable to be used in soups, stews, and god have mercy on your soul should you hand me a bowl of chili with Turkey Bacon bits.

I will gut you.

(Same chili rules apply to yogurt instead of sour cream, and any form of mild chedder.)

Next, Turkey Bacon needs to be fried, in a pan.

My method for pig belly bacon is to bake it in the oven at roughly 400 degrees on a foil lined cookie sheet. This does magical things. It not only cooks the bacon evenly, but because of heat diferentials in every oven ever, there will be a range of slices that go from chewy to crispy to extra crispy all on the same sheet. Major plus for a household of picky bacon slice eaters. It also has the added benefit of collecting all the bacon fat so that you can crumple the foil to form a little bowl and let it congeal before throwing it in the garbage. Never pour bacon fat down a drain. Unless the cute girl next door happens to be both a runway model and a part time plummer.

But Turkey Bacon cannot be cooked using the magical bacon method. No. It has to be fried in a pan under medium high heat until the slices start to sizzle, then it has to be flipped and you have to keep an eye on it so it doesn't over cook.

Extra-crispy Turkey Bacon is not enjoyable.

Now . . . 

When going to purchase Turkey Bacon it is important that you read the ingredients. It should have turkey in it. And salt, it's definitely gonna have salt. Oil too. Probably canola oil. Then we get down to the flavoring and preservative parts. Most likey it's gonna have some sodium nitrate in it. That's the stuff the makes hot dogs hotdogs. If you can stomache hotdogs, you're good to go.

But . . . 

Do not purchase if the list contains sugar. Sweet Turkey Bacon is pretty gross.

Also, and super super important, do not purchase if there is any hint of some kind of liquid smoke flavoring. Not only is that stuff freakishly over-powering and just a nasty thing to do to your olfactory senses, but it will repeat on you for like three days.

I am a man who enjoys a good burp, but liquid smoke will just linger in the back of your throat and make you wish you could get through life without eating another thing again.

Do not hide Turkey Bacon in things. We all know the difference. Even though the Turkey Bacon producers think they're terribly cute in cutting the slices to look like bacon, no one is fooled. 

If you are the primary cook of your household and are considering making the switch to Turkey Bacon for health reasons or because it's a little cheaper, make sure you pass the idea to your SO before placing a plate of the stuff in front of him or her on some random morning.

If you do that, they're gonna be dissapointed. Possibly angry. And if you did it before they've had a cup of coffee, you're likely to get some mild verbal abuse.

Instead, start the conversation before you go to the super market with something like this:

Hey Honey?


I was thinking about trying Turkey Bacon.

That sounds terrible.

Well, it's a bit cheaper, doesn't have quite so much concentrated animal fat, and I've been trying to think of simple ways to get  back into that catholic girl school uniform that you used to like.


Yeah. Remember back when we could both fit in the shower together?

Yes honey. Yes I do.


Well what?

Can we try it?

Yes dear. Yes we can.

It really is that simple. Don't force it. Make it a "Why don't we give it a try?" adventure, instead of a punishment for putting so much cream cheese on your pastrami sandwiches.

Turkey Bacon is not a cure-all.

But it can be tasty.

And that's all that really matters isn't it?