Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Newest Emphatic Phenomenon in Zedderburg

Zoey has somehow figured out how to say, "no way," and she's saying it often. We're blaming Grandma and her habit of teasing her with, "no way Jose." She has trouble with the Hispanic part of that phrase. I suppose she's just 14 months old so a poor understanding of Spanish is completely understandable. We are, however, aghast at her ability to place the phrase in perfect context.

She's also gotten quite good at:

- laying on the floor and playing with ladybugs
- pretending that her stuffed animals are real
- scrubbing herself in the tub
- eating with utensils
- spotting bunnies in the yard
- using the television remote
- putting her own baby powder on
- abusing Debu beyond his tolerance
- brushing her teeth
- crawling up onto the couch
- the physical attributes of magnets
- talking on the telephone
- scrubbing floors
- picking up after herself

She can do other things one handed push-ups, and fantasy baseball. She can also read the same book two hundred and seventy times without flinching. Impressive.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Maybe you would have been something I'd be good at...

Do you like that post title? I do. In fact, I love's a Tegan and Sara lyric, from Call It Off, one of those songs that just grows and grows and grows on you. When I first heard it I was fairly indifferent, then I liked it, and now I love it.

I think of both Zedder and June, and I feel lucky that I don't have to keep searching for things that I'd be good at. I've found them. I'd bet there's a lot of people still looking for something that they can be good at...for someone that they can be good at. Not me. I've got two girls that make it easy. I like the notion of it...being good at someone. It's such a ridiculously sweet sentiment.

"Maybe you would have been something I'd be good at..."

I don't have to ask myself that anymore. I'm good at this.

What kind of an idea are you?

I just checked my cell phone and found this message from a new friend in an awful neighborhood in LA. I imagined him sending the message late last night, perhaps even as I was waking. Above my head stars were giving way to daylight -- above his was the menacing and intrusive search lights of patrolling LAPD helicopters. That's no exaggeration...I've seen them for myself, June too, it's exactly what hovers above your head when you live pinched up against the 110 freeway. Zoey was sleeping peacefully...Lula the same, while both of their fathers proved correct the notion, there is no them, only us.

Hey homes. I read this @#$%.


Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive - or are you the cursed, bloody-minded ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? - the kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, be smashed to bits, but the hundredth time, will change the world?

I recognized the quote but had to Google the thing to place it. It's from The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. Pretty impressive, and not at all what you might have thought given his gangbang'n past and his slowly improving present. Like I said, there is no them, only us.

Of course, it ended with, "That's some crazy shit, huh vacho."

No, the fact that I found this text on my phone is some crazy shit.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Exactly who I am...

Sometimes I wonder if I’m not exactly where I’m supposed to be, exactly where I might be meant to make a stand for the rest of my life. Sometimes, if you can look past seemingly greener pastures, and all the falsely romanticized roles, you can see clearly the gift of your place in this life. It is perhaps like falling water through cracks and into the only puddle it could have physically found, this life of ours. Perhaps I was meant to help people, not in some strict sociological sense, but just by being here…just by showing up when everyone else is hurrying to run in opposite directions. I’m sure there is a fairly complex explanation for the phenomenon…a social theory, of course there is, but perhaps what it really all amounts to is water finding it’s own path with the help of gravity. What if everything we do is exactly that?

I spend my time with the dispossessed, the unwanted…society’s problems. I trust liars and thieves. I call the mentally ill my friends. I sit on the cold pavement sometimes rather than behind a desk. I like my life. I like these people. They allow me all of my faults…my jabbering, my frustrations, my awkward optimism, my sentimentality…they like me in any way, shape or form that the real me manifests itself. In their accepting eyes I am exactly who I am supposed to be, exactly, as Father Greg from Homeboy Industries claims, ” as God intended me to be.”

I met Father Greg this week, although we’d been in touch over the years. He runs the America’s largest so-called Gang Rehabilitation program in Los Angeles. His easy, infectious words changed my life, certainly no more than any one of the thousands of gang members he’s helped climb out of the only life they’ve ever known in Los Angeles County. He tells stories that peel back whatever layers you might have hiding what’s beneath, and he helps lead everyone he meets to their destiny – not to who they should be but to who they already are underneath all the layers of hopelessness. He’s a pretty incredible man.

I also met Luis, a former gang member trying his best to leave that life behind him. His daughter Lula, and my daughter Zoey were born on the exact same day. After four days together I’m happy to call him my friend. His easy, infectious words also changed my life.

I’m lucky. I’ve learned that it’s not what you are but rather who you are. For me it’s always been about us, not them…never them, there is no such thing…there is only us. Somehow the world has settled into a shameful acceptance of us and them. It makes things easier, I suppose, or maybe it allows us our discriminations and egos. I’m not exactly sure. All I really know is that I’ve grown to discover my soul in all of this. I’ve learned how to love better and I’m learning how to accept things. I’m a better person for standing right here, exactly where I am. I’ve learned, from Father Greg and Luis, that where we stand, right here and now, wherever that might be, is holy ground. I’ve learned that a person becomes a person through other people. I know that much.

Maybe the biggest thing that I’ve learned is that those people who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention. I can do that. I can do that from right here where I stand. I don’t need to be any place else. I don’t even ask myself why I do this anymore. I do this because in one way or another we’re all searching for grace, and maybe, just maybe we’re already surrounded by it? Maybe the harder we look, the further we fall from it? We all want grace eventually, but maybe we already have it if we stop to breathe it in.

Maybe I am exactly where I should be. It’s good to be home, but I’m glad that I went.

Friday, March 26, 2010

お誕生日おめでとう !!!

Happy Birthday Baachan! You've got the best gift sleeping over at your house so what else is there to get you? Maybe some chocolate. Hope you have a good day and all that wishful stuff. Have fun with Zedder!

We won't see you today since June is working and I'm in Toronto but we'll bring you coffee in the morning and save you from your granddaughter.

Happy day!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It doesn't seem like much...

Zoey got herself a new pair of shoes Chucks. She needed to make the transition into some kind of harder soled shoe and she wasn't liking most pairs that we tried. She likes her Chucks though, which is hilarious. June called me and told me about how she gasped when she saw them in the box. She was wide eyed and all, "whoa, look at those," and barely able to hold back the wonder. "Pink shoes." June said it was awesome.

...and I missed it.

It doesn't seem like much, but it is.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not a Single Curtis Granderson Card in Print...

So I did what any self-respecting Tigers fan would do when they get to Toronto. No, I didn't pee on the Skydome. I headed straight for Legends of the Game and asked whether or not a Curtis Granderson card has been issued with him in pinstripes yet. Nope. It seems there might not be one this year either. Topps is the only company left to ship and no one is certain if there's a Yankee Granderson in the bunch. Bummer.

Now that my Granderson card search has ended empty handed I'm back at my hotel missing the girls and wishing it was Wednesday already. I'm going to hook up with Scitter, and me boy, Coop (confusing 'cause both their last names are Cooper) and have some dinner and catch up. Tonight I'm just going to iChat June and Zo and relax. Go and grab some coffee and soak up my NEW OLIVER JEFFERS BOOK!! Yep, I finally found The Heart and the Bottle, so I snatched it up quick (Aim...lemme know if you guys can't find it in Michigan yet. I can grab you one here) and I can't wait to dive into it. I've been asking every bookstore within 100 miles from home for it and everyone thought I was mildly retarded. Turds. But now I've got it and I'm gonna geek out with it later tonight.

I also scooped a copy of Huckleberry Finn, but not just any old copy, the new Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition copy. Penguin re-released a bunch of classics with unique one-of-a-kind artwork on the covers. I saw this copy of Huck Finn down near the Flatiron and St. Lawrence Market. It was a great little bookstore with sliding ladders and the whole trip...I saw Huck Finn on the very top shelf and couldn't stop looking at the cover art. I decided then and there that I was going to start a whole new book collection, on it's own shelf and everything, and that Huck Finn would be the very first book in the collection...and not just any Huck Finn this uber cool Huck Finn. I love how the artist (Lilli Carre) referred to Mark Twain as Mr. Mark Twain...awesome.

I guess the day wasn't a complete write off. No Granderson card but a reltively major book haul, not so much in terms of quantity but certainly in terms of least in my notoriously poor judgement. Now I've got Norah crooning through my Macbook's tiny little speakers and a bit of an empty belly. I am le tired and I could fall asleep right now. Not gonna though...I don't drift off to sleep that easy...ask June. She'll cringe and tell you how I've cursed our daughter with the same indomitable spirit for fighting fatigue. Sorry about that.

Long train to absence and fondness and all that crap...

It's funny, Canadians think that we're soooo nice, so polite, and so tolerant, etc...We're not, or at least, we aren't always that way. I'm on a train to Toronto ($100CDN round trip from Sarnia...good to know Kev and Aim) and I'm tortured by the middle aged woman behind me who is rambling on and on about herself and her travels like she's some CBC travel writer. I wanna punch her in the face. That's not very Canadian is it? That's because we're just as obnoxious and entitled as anyone. In fact, I think I hate a Canadian blabberturd more because they're pretending that they aren't blabberturds when really ones nationality has little more to do with it than perhaps tendancies and demographics...My god, if you're a white, anglo-saxon, fifty-something, relatively well-to-do, Canadian woman taking the early train to Toronto there's a 60% chance that you're a turd. Sorry, I have a bar graph that proves it, maybe even a pie chart. It's a true statistic I just made up for this story.

The sky is still grey, nearer to black at this ungodly hour. Call me soft but 6:40 am train departures are early enough for me. I've never been the 5 am riser, the night urchin or early morning apologist. I hate being awake when I know that the good portion of the rest of my particular slice of hemisphere is still sleeping...hate it. I used to loathe the midnight shift during those summers in high school when I was stupid enough to take a factory job. Even then 3 am could make me cry. I hate the pseudo-isolation of the early morning. I feel...lonely.

I don't mind 7 fact, I love it. Many, but not all, of the world's most annoying people are still asleep, or at least washing the annoyance off of themselves in filthy showers all across North America. I enjoy the semi-solitude of that hour, but 6 am is another matter entirely. I don't like feeling as though the jokes on me. Literally millions of people are still asleep and I'm up and wandering, semi-lucid...semi-disgusted with myself. You don't want to see me at 5 or 6 am. I'm much less than I can be. I'm sure most people are.

This is a nice trip...the train, I mean. It rolls through farmland and forest, past old dirt roads and empty, long neglected stations in long neglected towns. The train whistles and everyone from students to businessmen stumble on and off. There are much worse ways to see Southwestern Ontario but there are few better. It's easy, it's relatively inexpensive, and only occasionally do you end up with white, anglo-saxon, fifty-something, relatively well-to-do, Canadian woman turding up your trip with blabber.

I'm off to Toronto for four days...a delegate at North America's most esteemed Gang Summit and conference. The event is heavy with the most prominent of social researchers, law enforcement, and those strange people they call "gang practitioners." Every major American city is represented here, with added weight coming from the left side of the continent in Los Angeles. Every Canadian city is represented here too, as well as First Nation groups, ethnic special interest groups, drug and immigration officials, and less prominently, guys like me. It will be exciting, if not occasionally depressing and thought provoking...not the kind of thoughts that balance out gang related issues, but the kind of thoughts that make me wonder what I'm doing here and how I got to this place. I really just gave a @#$t about people, and turned out to be pretty good at giving a #$%t about people, and before I knew it BLAM...hangin' with Hoover Crips. Yeah, I know, it barely makes sense to me

I'm excited about the week ahead but I'm more than a little upset that I won't see June until Friday, and I won't see Zo until Saturday. I realized yesterday that June and I haven't been apart for more than one night in a long time. The last time was when I was in NYC, and the only other time before that might have been when June slipped back to Japan to visit family. That was at least six or seven years ago. Before that it might have been another four or five years. We've maybe been apart for more than thirty-something hours on just two occasions in the past decade and that fact makes me smile. We could have been apart on any number of occasions but weren't, mostly because we didn't want to be. I like my wife...I like being around her...I like hanging out with her...I like talking to her. I even like being silent around know, just being. It's nice.

What might be more of an issue is that I've never spent much time away from Zoey. She's been away for no more than 48 hours herself on only one occasion. This week is going to be hard, much harder than I ever imagined when the conference came calling. I won't get to feed her breakfast. I won't get to see her excited face when I get home after work (or her indifference when I leave). I won't get to bath her, or play with her and all her stuffed friends at bedtime. I won't get to read with her, and draw with her. I won't get dragged around the house by an audacious and excitable little girl who just wants her Dad to share in everything she discovers. That's become her thing..."Look Dad. Look at this." I'm going to miss all of that stuff.

I wish that white, anglo-saxon, fifty-something, relatively well-to-do, Canadian woman would start blabbering again. I need a distraction. We're only in London and I miss le Zed already. She was sleeping when I left, and so I didn't want to wake her. I should have least ducked my head in her door. No, that might have made it worse.

Hmmmf...didn't expect to feel like this.

Even Norah Jones Likes London...She Said So

Photo by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

I have a bit of a crush on Norah Jones...always did, but last night it got worse. June knows, and to be perfectly honest I think June looks better. She certainly has a leg up on Norah because she likes me back.

We saw Norah Jones at the John Labatt Centre in London last night. She was A LOT better thanthis totally forgettable review by James Reaney. It was maybe one of the best shows I've ever been to musically speaking. She sounded better than she does in a studio recording, and her musicians were pretty incredible.

Yup, I like Norah Jones. You should too, maybe you already do. If not, read this and try your best not to.

Not only did we see a great show last night but I was re-acquainted with my affection for downtown London. I spent more than a few years there, working with the Boys and Girls Club as well as a Drop-In Centre for street and homeless youth. I loved downtown. I loved living there. I loved walking around. I loved the familiar faces of living in a community as small as a downtown core. I think I could do it London I mean. I have friends there, both old and new, and better yet, old best friends re-discovered, and I have a solid professional network there as well. The JLC brings in world class music, the schools are great, the parks are great. I could still make damn near every Tigers game, and I'd be a short skip to Toronto. June and I spent a chunk of last night talking about the merits of being back in London. The short list...

- June has a great job in the city.
- I can either find a great job in the city, or keep the one I've got and commute.
- We have lots of friends there.
- It's cheaper than Toronto or Vancouver.
- It's a university town, with a college to boot which provides both us and Zedder with opporunities.
- Grandparents are still close.
- Stu and Anne are close
- Johnny Teetantric lives there
- Our good friend Nadine lives there too.
- Joe Kool's has the best burgers around AND is Canada's Official Detroit Tigers headquarters.
- The city has a daily newspaper
- We can scoot to Toronto in no time to see our friends Coop and Mitch
- There is good food in London
- There are bookstores in London
- There are record stores too
- If we need day care I know a girl who runs one...she's nice.
- Did I mention the book stores and record shops?

Anyway...Norah Jones was great...London is a pretty okay place...Oh, and if you get the chance, go to Braise Restaurant on Dundas Street in London (tucked in beside the Market near the JLC and just down from Robinson Hall). It's my new favorite go-broke but feel great place. It's a beaut.

Monday, March 22, 2010

...but whenever Monday comes.

I drove an hour this morning to get stood up by a kid who flat out needs a lawyer...not me...a lawyer. Then I shot back that same hour to meet with someone who could have solicited my help over the phone, but didn't, instead, they opted to eat up a twenty-five minute hole in the middle of my day immediately after the perviously mentioned sixty minute drive.

It seems as though I'm being paid to drive today.

It's obviously Monday...I am le tired, I'm pretty sure I have two different socks on, and Zoey said goodbye to me this morning without even the slightest hesitation or trepidation. She flat out didn't care. I've accomplished very little but have somehow managed to be paid quite a lot, and when I do the ledger at the end of the day I won't be so cool with that. All of that bunk and I can't seem to find a Wrigley weekend out of the whole summer.

"...but whenever Monday comes..."

Mama Cass was a smart lady who could not only harmonize pretty damn good, but she could also articulate the way Mondays feel without peer.

Good thing there's Norah Jones to ease my pain tonight. Sadly, it's nothing more than a drive-by. I'd like to call my friend Johnny Teetottaler up and connect with that fella while I'm in the city but we'll get there jsut in time, and leave as soon as we can since Daddy's gotta be on a train for Toronto at 6:40am tomorrow. It must be Monday.

On a more positive note, I've recieved several emails wondering what got into me with that "Anger" post which was a lot of fun. Nuthin' got into me really. It was just fun to type.'s a pretty funny photo of a kitten...and here's an even more funny one. Get back to work people.

Anger Explained...

Why do you think aliens always circle around down here and then leave? Because people suck, that's why. They do. Save your "concerned" e-mails and stifle your, "thats not really Brian talking," diatribes. People do suck, and its a good thing that they do or we'd have no bar with which to measure awesomeness. People have to suck so that we have a good idea of what great is. It really is that simple. You have to see the awful things in this world to better appreciate the good stuff (also, if your not noticing the crappy junk then psychologists have a word for the kind of so-called healthy attitude you's avoidance, or maybe delusion, I'm not sure which one they'd be more quick to use).

Anger and disdain get a bad rap. There's nothing wrong with positive, constructive anger...nothing wrong with having a little fire in your belly, without anger and disdain that valuable fire can be unceremoniously extinguished without so much as a clumsy whimper. Trust me when I tell you that you don't want that.

You see, anger can be when Bill Hicks said, "I smoke. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your #$%&ing mouth."

It can be bad when Reggie Miller goated John Starks into that stupid headbutt during Game #3 of the 1993 NBA Playoffs.

Good anger and the proper disdain that accompanies it is something to be proud of. It's keeps the world in working order. Bad anger requires legal counsel. I try my best to embrace the former, but on occasion I've been known to require the assistance of a barrister.

Good anger never gets the credit it deserves, while bad anger is omniscient and too often unnoticed. It is in mosques and churches and synagogues and just about every book ever written that purports to be holy. It's on right-wing talk radio and left-wing blogs. Good anger is Bill Hicks and Richard Pryor. Good anger is a gentle blend of realism, sincerity, and #$%& you. Good anger is hard to find. I practice it with a devoutness more typically associated with college football rivalries. So while most of the world is working hard to ease their anger, perhaps even dissolve it, I'm working hard to preserve mine. I certainly don't want to be free from it's grasp. I'd like to think that those drive-by aliens are onto something, something that eludes us earthly turds, and I would like to align myself with them. At least when it all comes to a fiery end I'll be on board the mother ship trading barbs with three headed extra-terrestrials, laughing at all the pitiful, suffering son-of-a-bitches left below to burn in the inferno of their own ignorance...and a really big friggin' laser blasting continents from afar.

Anger and disdain are good, if channeled properly. People do suck, and this world is a horrible place and I'm allowed to call people on it. I'm allowed to acknowledge bust balls, to offend, to make enemies, to burn bridges, to call 'em as I see 'em. I'm allowed to be a prick, and for maybe the first time in my life I'm happy to admit it. Deal with it. My job is demanding, my life is stressful, my perspective is shaped often by the ugliest parts of this human experience we so regularly like to sugar coat with naivety and niceties. Sometimes I get angry. Sometimes my world view is terribly disdainful, but then sometimes it's exactly as it's supposed to be, because people suck...they do, and it's okay to say it.

There really wasn't much point to this whole splintering of thoughts and ideas, in fact, it's really just something of a disclaimer for future bad behaviour, one that I've selfishly tossed out into the great universe in hopes that it sticks to something. It might explain a lot, but that's only if anyone is paying attention. It might, at the very least, someday explain to Zoey why her Dad was wont to tear into giant, all-consuming rants about the thoughtlessness of people who don't use their signal lights or how people who don't say hello back deserve lashes. If she reads this she might come to understand that anger can be a good thing, if directed in positive angles. Of course, it can also make someone look like a jerk. On most occasions I'll risk it. Look around you. We're all allowed to lose our minds from time to time. I think Bill Hicks said it best, "...we live in a world where John Lennon was murdered, yet Barry Manilow continues to put out @#$&ing albums. God-dammit! If you're gonna kill somebody, have some @#$%&ing taste. I'll drive you to Kenny Rogers' house." Now there's a guy I'd like to bring with me when those aliens come to collect the reasonable people.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Fairly Serendipitous Discovery...

Tonight, while waiting for CTV to broadcast the film "Serendipity" at 9pm (one of my all time favorite films...a guy film in disguise, if you're paying attention to John Cusack and Jeremy Piven's relationship and exploits...I love it) I stumbled into the season two of Elvis Costello's SPECTACLE...and I discovered Jesse Winchester. Now I love Jesse Winchester too.

Who is this lucky target of my newfound affection? He's a musician, but not just any musician. There's a pretty heavy story attached to this particular musician.

After getting his draft notice in 1967 Jesse Winchester fled to Canada, refusing to take part in the Vietnam war. In 1969 he met Robbie Robertson of “The Band” who helped him record his first album released in 1970. Many consider that first album to be a masterpiece with songs like “Yankee Lady” and “Brand New Tennessee Waltz” among many great compositions. (Bernie Taupin once said that his big regret was that he did not write “Brand New Tennessee Waltz.”) Jesse lost a lot of his recording career because of his sojourn in Canada, but finally returned for concerts and recording sessions under the amnesty program. Many people consider Jesse Winchester to be one of the greatest songwriters alive today, now I do too.

Here he is performing on Elvis Costello's Spectacle...

Anyone that can make Neko Case cry just by singing is alright by me. It's gotta be one helluva song.

Now I have to go 'cause Serendipity is starting...and I need to go cling to the ups and downs of Jonathan Trager.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Zedder's Got Some Brand New Wheels

Baachan picked the right time to buy her granddaughter a car...right now, when what Zo considers a decent car is something made out of plastic that doesn't require insurance. We're still stuck with providing her with a real car when she turns sixteen, which is a prospect that frightens us both. Have you seen the cost of insuring a teenage driver these days? I can't even fathom what that'll look like in 15 years.

Good thinkin' Baachan...get her a car when it won't force you to re-mortgage your house. You can also, with good conscience, tell her fifteen years from now that you won't help her into more than one car in her lifetime. I wish we'd have thought of that.

We Love Our Trusty Postal Workers Around Here

Look what we got in the mail. Whoa...that's right...perforated cardboard fun tickets for an entire summer of sunshine, hot dogs, random Bergquist hook ups, and missing Curtis Granderson. Our Detroit Tigers Season Tickets arrived in the mail and I've never come as close to hugging a postal worker in my life.

We also ordered extra Tigers - Yankees tickets for Granderson's first game back in Detroit on Monday, May 11th. This is one family that was sincerely bummed out when our Centerfielder was traded away to New York, but we're rallying. It's going to be a different feel down at Comerica Park without Curtis, that's for sure. We're just happy we get to be there when he comes back.

We're kinda excited about Johnny Damon, and really curious about Austin Jackson, but we're completely befuddled when it comes to buying Zo a new Tigers tee. Her Granderson one will have to be packed away for future smiles and sighs, and a new one will have to be sussed out. We're not sure who Zo's Tiger will be this year.

I just asked June who her Tiger will be this year now that Granderson is gone and she looked like I stole away her entire family and exiled them to some distant, impossible to reach land. It seems Mom misses Granderson more than anyone.

We have a few games that we're going to be getting rid of, so if you're interested in scooping a few tickets cheap, get in touch. Our good friend Joe already grabbed most of July and August since we'll be good and gone, but there are some early and late season games up for grabs if anyone wants to inquire about them.

Now, back to that depressing chore of finding a new Tiger.

Look what we can do...

Look...Zedder has enough hair for Mom to start making her look ridiculous. This is a better photo of the Zedder avec hair elastic and kinda sorta pony tail thingy.

Mom's been waiting patiently for Zoey to grow enough hair to make her look like a girl. We're getting there...slowly.

Random Ramblings on a Cold Saturday

Waking up to no Zo is an unsavory affair. You miss her the minute 7 or 7:30 am slips past and there's no chatter from her crowded room down the hall. Sure, you sleep a little more, but you miss that beautiful inconvenience of waking up too early to keep up to an eager, curious little girl. If you're really lucky, as we were this morning, you fall back to sleep immediately and wake up two hours later feeling just as absent from her presence but better rested than you've been in awhile. I think June was awake an entire half hour before she loaded up to go scoop her up from her Baachan and Grandad's. We miss her when she's gone...of course, Grandad and Baachan don't mind her being gone provided she's good and gone right there in their laps. They love her like an old song but better.

I stayed home this morning to wait for friends who may or may not be coming to visit. Ambiguous, I know, but their people we adore so someone needed to be here and wait so that we wouldn't miss one another. I was kind of looking forward to the Partridge kitchen table but now I'm staring out at winter again, and the odd snow flake falling over the lake. Snowflakes? Just yesterday I was in shorts. Yeah, is March in Ontario, Canada. Snowflakes shouldn't seem so surprising.

While I'm waiting for the girls...I like saying that, the girls...I'm occupied with coffee, oily peanut butter, and the many distractions that tend to bounce around my head ubiquitously...This morning I can't stop thinking about reading. I need a New York book, a good read that feels like Bryant Park in the Fall, that makes me think of walking down Fifth Ave at midnight with nothing more than a silly ambition to walk all the way down to Washington Square and back up to 44th again (why not?)....that sounds like Hell's Kitchen as the day winds down and the night is winding up...that feels like wandering out of Rudys and into a night of possibilities...Knicks game? Dinner? Village? I need that kind of book.

I leave for Toronto in a few days...bookless, and with damn near a week away from those same girls I'm eager to see back in my peripheral today, with only just a few hours apart. I'm going to talk to gangsters, the South Central kind...straight off the rez in Manitoba kind...Venice Trece, and Indian Posse...Hoover Crips and Bloods, and law enforcement, maybe the biggest gang of them all. I'll be fully out of my element and completely overwhelmed and summarily surprised at where my life has led me. How am I apart from my family for a week, knee deep in the discussion of drugs and gangs and young people when I used to shoot free throws with nine year olds struggling to understand why Mom and Dad weren't at home...who familiar enough with foster care to consider sleeping outside rather than going back. I liked that. I liked being the guy who rebounded their misses and shrugged my shoulders at their questions. How'd I manage to come to share an afternoon with a guy whose scope of worldly wandering never extended East of Crenshaw Avenue in Los Angeles or the West end of Winnipeg? I dunno. It's interesting stuff, and I like what I get to do but it confuses me how fast I got to this place. What's next, I wonder?

I'll tell you what's, light hearted living, incredible photos and tanned skin...a place to finally call home, and new distractions...the best we've ever felt and looked...a talking little girl...paying some attention to the space in which we live...summer plans...making friends a priority...finding new traditions...stepping out on limbs...reading more...working on making this life we've got better and more inspiring every minute of every single day.

How's that for what's next? Yeah, I thought it could use some work too. First, Spring, the return of my lovely ladies, re-heat this coffee, find something to read, get some more artwork and writing done, and wait for Dustin and Kelly...I guess waiting doesn't really count as an activity does it? Or does it?

I think I want to smile a lot today.

That last statement has inspired me to ramble a little...maybe even toss youa few fun links to fill your empty day...

Just about my favorite thing on the planet right now are my selvedge Levi's and Rainbow flops (the best on the planet earth)...just add sunshine and sighs.

I'm a dude and I'll tell you flat out that Sabon is one of the greatest places ever. My Toronto trip will see me emptying my wallet there.

Do yourself a favor and watch this.

I miss this place...a lot. I have dreams about it.

A subscription to this would beat the hell out of Sports Illustrated.

This post over at "A Time to Get" led me to this which led me to think that I wish I was friends with those guys.

This looks stupid fun. Why don't I know these people?

I think I want to go to Skagit County in Washington.

I think I want to go here maybe...well, someday.

This makes me smile, and feel good, which I suppose is the rather illusive point. (Warning: Rated 14A)

I'm just a man, not even a great one...Great lyric from "The Thrills" song Saturday Night.

This photo is pretty much an exact replica of a lingering adolescent daydream of mine. Sigh. Which brings to mind two things...first, June has glasses that she wears every now and again and I love it...and two, when I was a child I loved libraries so much that when I got myself run over by a car when I was ten years old the paramedics said that when they asked me if I knew where I was while lying on the side of the road I answered, "at the library," proving the point that finding your so called happy place probably really works in times of awful uncertainty.

Someday I would like to stay here. Maybe even move there permanently.

Hey...I just learned that Howard Zinn passed away. That's a huge bummer.

A friend of mine used the term "those creepy kids," the other day after I was done ignoring him I thought to myself, "Hey, that's a great name for a band," which of course it is, so I was bummed out when I discovered that there's already a Creepy Kids band out there. They suck, but still, the name is all used up...buggers. I should note here that I don't play a single instrument and couldn't sing if my life depended on it. I still want a be in a band though.

I just discovered a quote by Carl Sandburg that read, "I'm either going to be a writer or a bum," which made me wonder why the hell he couldn't be both? Kerouac was...Bukowski was...Mike Lupica is sometimes.

Broken Bells is Danger Mouse and James Mercer (of The Shins) and I love them.

I've decided that musicians are funny people. Pay five bucks at the door, and they will sing and dance for you. For $10, you can take their heart and soul and all of their thoughts, and play them at home, in your car, and for all your friends...and they like that set up. Weird. That said, I'd certainly pay $10 to listen to this harpy goodness at my convenience, but I still think musicians are funny, which is a nice way of saying weird, I suppose.

Musicians are also !#$%ing least Brian Wilson was. Here's the final studio cut that we're all familiar with.

I just bought some of these. I didn't even hesitate.

Zoey's been a good girl and deserves these just in time for the summer. How fun is that? Awesome fun, that's how fun.

That Beach Boys clip was so fun I thought I'd chuck you another one. Listen to the change that happens in the horns and flute part at 2:33 (before) and how Don Randi steps in at 3:16 and changes the part-asking them to play staccato. Brian goes with it and that little change made such a huge difference in the section. I don't know uch about the technical side of music but I know that you can hear history being made right there. Here's the finished version. Awesome...just awesome.

BTW...How ridiculously beautiful is this family? That's Stacey, Sammer, and Bri's cousin Scitter...we love them. They're so peachy it makes lesser families want to barf, and it should. Zo is going to visit Sam at college someday and they're going to corrupt one another...someday. I can't wait.

Uhmmmm, that's about all for now.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Well Educated Mind...hurts

If you haven't read every book on this list then I'm afraid that we can't be friends.

The list is from Susan Wise Bauer's, The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, and it's crazy! After perusing it I've come to the conclusion that I'm a bit of a dumb ass.

Cutting this down a bit might be my summer reading project. Lofty ambitions huh? And I might be able to put a dent into it from lovely Brooklyn, NY if things go as we think they might. That's right, I said Brooklyn, NY. We've got six weeks to get lost and loitering Prospect Park sounds like as good an option as any I can think of. We've got some friends there and some people we need to be better friends with...could be a done deal, which is more than I can say for this reading project idea.

If we do end up in Brooklyn I will most certainly be loitering here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"____________ Without a Cause"

There's a story that Dennis Hopper tells about when he was 18 or 19 years old and starting his career in Hollywood. He thought that he had some unique talent, that he was on a fast path to becoming the best young actor in America, and then he met James Dean. He first saw Dean act on the set of Rebel Without a Cause and what he saw made his stomach flip. Dean was an actor. Hopper was just pretending to be. Hopper saw Jimmy doing things so far over his head as an actor, that at the time he couldn’t even comprehend what those things were. He felt humbled. It was obvious that Dean knew something that Hopper didn't, that Dean had something that he didn’t, and it made him special. It had never been more apparent that Hopper wasn't special.

Hopper was so mesmerized, so enthralled, that on the set of Rebel, he grabbed Dean by the arm and threw him into one of the cars being used for the scene. He begged him to let him in on the secret, “You gotta tell me what you’re doin’, because I don’t understand. Tell me what to do. Should I go to New York? Should I study at the Actor’s Studio? Man, you gotta tell me what I should do.” Dean told him very simply, “Don’t go to New York and study. Don't do that." Hopper was confused. "Just don’t act, OK? Just, you know - do it. You don’t have to act. Don't try to act, don’t show it – just, you know, do it.

Hopper goes on to talk about how Dean told him that when he was in a scene where they wanted him to smoke a cigarette, to avoid acting like you were smoking a cigarette, "just smoke the cigarette," he said, "That's all. You can't be more real than actually smoking the cigarette, so just smoke it."

Good advice.

I love that story, and Hopper tells it with such obvious reverence. You can hear it in his voice. The lesson was profound. Dean himself was most likely the most profound actor he had ever met, you can see it in his eyes. More in-depth interviews have Hopper going on to dispell the myth that Dean may have been a creative genius by saying that Dean wasn't trying to be creative at all. He was trying to be in the moment, to avoid creating anything except reality. It was equally as difficult as it was easy and he's chased that notion his entire life.

I'm pretty attached to that story. In fact, I love it. I think there's a lesson in it that we could all pinch and apply to ourselves -- how we live, move and breathe should be natural, not necessarily effortless, but natural. We’re focused on efficiency, convenience, routine, how the world sees us. What should I say? What should I wear? What should I do? What will people think of me? Before you know it life becomes stale and predictable. It can become this sad, uninspiring thing that ultimately is the end to all our means. We stop anticipating or welcoming anything unplanned, different, or unexpected because we wouldn’t know what to do with it. We wouldn't be able to accept it naturally, instead we're working hard in a fairly fruitless effort to act our way through life. Instead of just living we find ourselves acting out roles rather than inhabiting moments.

I wonder sometimes what I’m missing out on in life because I don’t want to be inconvenienced, or maybe because I'm trying too hard to be this person that you believe me to be, or to be that person that someone else might think I am. Sometimes I wonder if I've never quite been as self-aware as I thought I was, or if perhaps I've been playing a role for a long, long time? Wife and daughter, age and the inevitability of change has led me to believe that the person who I really am may be something infinitely different than what you thought I was, infinitely better perhaps, and maybe even far more capable of things than either you or I had believed...although I suppose I never really knew just what others might believe. I think growing up can steer you far from the path that you should be on.

So what made me think about all this nonsense? I spent the day (not unlike any other day)with people who have been either defined wrong their entire lives, or defining themselves wrong. It struck me that it just might be the one thing that no one ever points out to us, and hey, we can't all be James Dean...well, no one can really, except Jimmy. Stop trying to be something people, and just be.

If you want to be a writer...write.

If you want to be an artist...create.

If you want to be a music.

It's really that simple, isn't it? Thanks Jimmy.

While you are out getting drunk at 9 am...

There's a guy who sits right next to the door at the coffee shop I stop at each morning who looks exactly like Norman Mailer, you know, except alive. It floors me every time I see him so today I had to tell him...he looked at me and said, "Who the hell is Norman Mailer?" I stumbled on the remark but rallied with some good humor.

"He's my uncle," I said.

"Mother's or father's side," he asked. Which made absolutely no sense to me. So I stretched that hit into a double...

Neither," I jabbed on my way out the door. That bugger'll be annoyed with me tomorrow morning for sure. Serves him right...a 70 or so year old man and you don't know who Norman Mailer is. It's not like it's some obscure literary reference. The guy was as famous for punching out his wives as he was for penning pages. There's a head and ass reference here somewhere, or at least some under a rock type comment just waiting to be thrust out into the atmosphere. How does he not know who Norman Mailer is? I didn't say, "Hey buddy, you look like Sean Higgins." If he didn't get that I would totally understand. First, he's not black, and second, he's the type of guy that thinks that any sport played in shorts isn't a sport. Lastly, 9 out of 10 of you guys think I'm an idiot for making reference to Sean Higgins. I can't wait for tomorrow morning.

On a much less random and eccentric note...

I like this video.

For some reason I love this post. It's all manly and hilariously effeminate at the same time, but by today's standards only. Our grandfathers would have cared about what was on their feet.

I want to read more about Bunker Spreckels.

Uhmm, I wish so desperately that I lived in 1953 Los Angeles. Of course, then I'd only be a short four hour car ride to 1953 Las Vegas as well.

This might be one of the most bad ass rock photos ever (#5 of the 5 pics posted). I GOTTA see the new film, The Runaways, gotta.

That's about all...

Happy St. Patrick's Day and all that.

It's been a long time since we gave a crap about what really amounts to drunken, debaucherous, green beer day, but we thought we'd acknowledge it here anyway. No, we didn't get Zoey all decked out in green (for the record, Dad's least favorite color), and no, we won't be eating corned beef and cabbage for dinner tonight. The fact of the matter is we're just don't care all that much for all that luck 'o the irish junk. Sure, it can be fun (if you're drunk and debaucherous) and yes, we've indulged ourselves in some pseudo-Irish activities in the past, but there's no downtown pub to crawl home from now, and we've got Zo waiting to play with us when we get home, so breathing whiskey and corned beef all over her makes you feel like something less of the parent that you could be. We'll be more excited tomorrow when the first round of the NCAA tournament least then everyone isn't annoying the hell out of us with their horrible fake Irish brogue.

We don't mean this post to sound negative...we're in quite good spirits, it's just that we find St. Patrick's Day to be more than a little overrated. If anything, I should be the one who is the bummer here. June's family is half Japanese and those folks over there in Sendai and Aomori etc...couldn't give a @#$% about what's happening in Dublin, whether or not leprechauns exist, or how if it wasn't for whiskey or a potato famine the Irish might have taken over the world...not Japan they wouldn't. For someone like June's mom, Zoey's Baachan, St. Patrick's Day must be a cute little European immigrant enterprise that allows red heads to feel like they're the chosen ones. It's silly, really...unless, of course, you're actually Irish, then it's just pushy.

How come no one goes crazy on Bastille Day? I like wine...I eat cheese...I'm all for overthrowing constitutional monarchies.

I think we'll settle into a nice, normal evening of Zed, and let all the one-sixteenth Irish-Dutch-Iranian drunkards fill all the jail cells from here to Boston and back. I'm gonna go and pick me another holiday to act stupid on, you know, when all the bars aren't so crowded. Maybe we'll get all stupid on the vernal equinox?

Oh, BTW...Irish stew is just stew.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This doesn't bode well...

Zo likes to answer the phone already. That's not good is it?

There's more of this nonsense over at June's Flickr site.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I know why the caged bird sings...

This is the face I came home to today...sweet slathered liberally with cute. Usually I'm in a pretty decent sized rush to get home and this is why. Occasionally I linger over this task or that one but more often than not I'm scooting for the door and finding the shortest route home.

Today I kind of lingered. It was a good day, full of easy hours, a nice visit to youth probation and a reminder why what I get to do every day is pretty cool, a potential job offer of, for me what amounts to a staggering amount of loot, but also semi-staggering being on the other side of the country. I also received notice that McMaster University is willing to tolerate me for the Spring semester and further, so that's pretty cool. I also found the time today (it is March Break after all) to slap together a schedule of my next few months so that:

a) I won't ever be as bored as I was this past weekend, and numerous other undocumented weekends.

b) I don't double book myself, or happen to find myself with a weekend with nothing to do but watch Tom Waits on YouTube

It's starting to look pretty full, which is wildly encouraging after the winter of our discontent. The Spring is looking good with a Norah Jones show, Train at The Phoenix, North America's largest Gang Summit and Conference in Toronto, Tegan and Sara at the Royal Oak Music Theater, Tigers Opening Day, the Michigan Spring Football Game, Corinne Bailey Rae at St. Andrews Hall, Curtis Granderson's return to Detroit with the NY Yankees, an LA road trip to see the Tigers and Dodgers in Chavez Ravine, Dave Matthews Band in Toronto...etc...awesome etc...

Not a bad lookin' schedule huh? And the summer concert schedule hasn't even been released...and that's not including our 6 week summer bail out, or a potential trip to Fenway Park. I know you're thinking that this doesn't sound at all like a man who's given up on sports but trust me when I tell you that this is a near hunger strike for me in sports terms. It used to be much, much worse...much...much worse. My heart used to beat in perfect rhythm with the Sportscenter intro.


I wonder if McMaster really knows what kind of idiot they just opened the gate to? Probably not. Now...any ideas for Easter?

NOTE: I just reviewed the schedule as it's drawn up and it seems that we have only four completely free weekends between now and December. Grandma laughed at me because I debated as to whether or not a Sunday baseball game in Detroit counts as a free weekend. I feel as though it kinda does. She thinks that's funny.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday's restless rambling, writing, and realizations...

Spent most of this weekend fighting off restlessness...and soaking in as much distracting music as possible. Right now I'm knee deep in Corinne Bailey Rae's, Are You Here, and loving every soulful strum. A little earlier in the day I was fully consumed with Ben's Letter by 54 Seconds, which reminds me...God, I love bands who still make music 'em. Anyway, when I could have been watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament's Selection Show I was singing along with, and making a mess of, Tom Waits and Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis, which just might strangely be the sweetest song ever. Just for the record, Tom Waits might also be just about the coolest guy alive.

It's funny, I've been losing my interest in a lot of the things that I used to find escape the NCAA Tournament. Anymore, I'm just kinda who cares about that junk. I've been discovering, or re-discovering more and more alternative means of entertainment. I've been writing a lot more, and enjoying it. Sports ruined how much I loved writing. Now I write stories just for the sake of writing stories. Just this afternoon I sat down in an attempt to avoid a nap, and sketched out the start to what might be something I continue with. It took all of five minutes to start a story that I think I'd like to finish. It felt better than watching Murray St. celebrate their tournament bid.

My afternoon distraction looks like this...

The name Charlie Holden pricked the ears of friends and neighbors alike. He was distressing to most, an unfathomable botheration to others, and occasionally even something of a danger to the people around him. He was a mild annoyance to most everyone, and a substantial concern to the general populace of his entire community. His reputation was so considerable that the police precinct in Waubuno was more familiar with Charlie than with any other civil threat that they encountered on a daily basis. His fat and flustered face was plastered all about the muster room for everyone to fear and loathe. That was a momentous accomplishment for a twelve year old son of a cocktail waitress, but a distinction that he wore proudly, like a Boy Scout badge, that is if Boy Scout badges were awarded for arson, assault, common thievery, and general nuisancery, which is a word specifically invented to describe the future felon.

Charlie Holden was bemoaned by everyone save his mother. Her name was Jenny Parker (Holden was a surname belonging to Charlie's long since, and wisely estranged father), and she thought that Charlie was at worst, incorrigible, and at best bored. The consensus amoungst friends, family and strangers alike was that Jenny Parker was generally an idiot. Unfortunately for everyone, Waubuno suffered idiots indiscriminately. In fact, it had a glorious history of doing so. It was a lineage than ran much deeper than Charlie Holden's psycho-social issues, or his mother's reputation as something of an easy target, to generously infer a more gentle kind of morality on her oft observed indiscretions. Not surprisingly, Waubuno itself had quite a reputation as well, although not for the same sexual impassivity that Jenny Parker did, but rather for the overall malaise and apathy of it's inhabitants.

Waubuno, as the saying goes , is where ambition goes to die. The town is infamous for its sheer number of degenerates. Surrounded by failing farms and full to the brim with defunct factories, it ranked number one in the region for welfare fraud, liquor consumption, sexually transmitted diseases, and indictable marijuana possession charges. It ranked a less distinguished second in the province for drug trafficking convictions and prescription narcotics abuse. The town wasn't without some redeeming qualities though. Waubuno's Novice hockey team, quite surprisingly, won a Provincial Championship in the very same year -- last year -- that it's head coach and trainer were convicted of fraud, stealing $22, 000 from the minor hockey association's bingo accounts. It did, however manage to lift one of it's young sons into the National Hockey League, Kerry Kinicki, while a much less distinguished list of seventy or eighty men were serving sentences of five plus years in Federal penitentiaries. Fifteen years before anyone in Waubuno could remember it happening the town also sent one it's own to Hollywood. Ellen Carpenter never made a single feature film and died penniless and alone on Fifth Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, a victim of sexual solicitation gone bad. They found her body in a construction site port-a-john. Aside from the Novice hockey championship Waubuno had very little to boast, except, perhaps the worst twelve year old of all time. Charlie Holden quite possibly could have been that.

See what I mean? A story out of nowhere, and for what purpose? Just to write it, I guess.

I suppose I'd better get busy filling out a Tournament bracket. I haven't completely lost interest. It's just hard to find any of it very important with all this nonsense falling out of my head and smattering all over the keyboard all the time. There are notebooks full of that stuff. Ever since I stopped checking ESPN every twenty minutes and started filling my ears with more music than Sportscenter highights it's been prolific city. I'm happier, healthier, and certainly closer to being actually productive with my free time than I was before. I dunno what all this scribbling means, I just know I like doing it. It feels better than watching Michigan football stumble again and again, or see the Tigers miss the post-season in a one game play-off. Writing feels a whole lot better than that.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Zedder works her contact list

Gotta give my girls a call...tell 'em to tune into Saturday Night Live...

"Hey! Are you watching SNL?! Pearl Jam is on!! I #$%!ing love Jeff Ament...LOVE HIM!"

Avet Brothers - Live Volume 2... So damn good.

If you don't own The Avett Brothers - Live Volume 2 then you should feel ashamed of yourself, probably for about five or ten minutes and then go out and get it.

We offer a full money back guarantee if you don't like it. That's right...if you don't like it we'll find someone willing to give you your money back...someone.

Now quit stalling and go grab that damn music.

More fun than anyone ever...

Today Dad and Zoey got a little stupid with their fake mustaches...a lot stupid actually. Dad carves quite a mean 'stache out of an old apple sauce box. Zo didn't even mind the looks of it all that much. She was even game to wear one herself. So with a little help from Dad, and more tolerance than we ever thought she'd have, we gave it a whirl.

We could hardly manage the feat as everyone, including Zedder was laughing so hard. Surely, any witness would have thought that this whole family had some seriously dented DNA. We were flopping around the kitchen floor, snapping photos, laughing, and affixing faux mustaches all while the rest of the world was wishing they were having as much fun. I gotta say, I thought I looked alright but this kid wears the absolute hell out of a mustache. She looks great...better than me.

I can't believe we waited this long before making fake mustaches. What were we thinking? Do yourself a favor and the next time you have a lazy afternoon of nothing, bust out the scissors and some old cardboard...get to snipping and carve yourself out a mustache. You won't regret it. Trust us, there are lots and lots of things that you'll regret more than making yourself a handsome faux 'stache...such as:

Robbing a bank...sure, seems like a good idea at the time but if you've ever watched the last scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, well, you'd just get a second job.

Asking a girl to pop pimples on your back on the first date... We shouldn't really even have to tell you how bad of an idea this is. You'd regret it the instant you thought it.

Riding a bike with no seat... Kinda self explanatory.

Seeing Maroon 5 live in concert... Trust me, it's a mistake...a big embarrassing mistake.

Tattoos of cartoon characters... You can tell someone over and over again how stupid Captain Caveman looks carved into their thigh but they'll never listen. Actually, a Captain Caveman tattoo would be completely forgivable and probably only slightly regrettable.

Buying that Frampton tee last summer... I don't really have to explain this one...beg for forgiveness, maybe, but never explain.

Little Zedder Blue Eyes...

Today while I was driving with the Zed I looked in the rear view and caught her staring at me. She was grinning this giant grin and if I thought I was familiar with the feeling of melting before I wasn't. I asked her, "What are you looking at?" and she grinned wide and ducked her head shyly. I think she likes me.

So far there's really only been a few things that she can absolutely slay me with...

Her eyes... kind of an obvious weapon but one that I regularly underestimate.

Tears... they bubble up so fast and pour out of her eyes and she makes it look as though the whole world is upside down. I can't stand it.

Her mouth... she doesn't have to smile or anything. She's got her Mom's mouth and just the sight of it makes me smile.

Pleeease... Zoey's learned sign language and she's pretty good at using it discriminately so when she does sign 'please' we know she means it. She signs so urgently too that you can't help but swoon a little.

Her head on my shoulder... When Zed's really upset she'll bury her head into my neck and shoulder and I can feel her tears through my shirt. It makes my heart hurt.

Closer... Sometimes Zo can't get close enough. She'd crawl inside of your skin if she could, and other times she just wants to brush her cheek up against yours, or maybe lay her head on you. It makes me a little weak.

The sadness... When Zoey isn't smiling she can just look so down and out. She's usually just tired, but when she's sitting still and quietly, and when her beautiful little mouth isn't turned upward, she just looks so sad.

Good morning... The look of surprise on her face when you poke your head into her room and say good morning is enough to send you reeling for a heart transplant.

This little girl is going to be the absolute death of me.

Asobi Seksu...Good, good music...Now go get it!

Yuki Chikudate and the rest of Asobi Seksu

While Zedder naps Dad finds new music to blow his mind. That was the plan, a simple one, and successful before Zo is even done squirming.

GO to Amie Street and download Asobi Seksu, then imagine yourself on a long train ride, staring out the window into the sun, small towns, maybe a lake view on occasion, strangers and porters, but mostly sunshine and Asobi. What is it? Think of this generation's version of "Girl from Ipanema," maybe add some Richard Linklater soundtrack and there'll you'll have it. The tunes also allow for superior daydreaming and pretty good nap transitions.

Do it or we can't be friends anymore.

An Unnecessary Look at This, That, and The Other Thing

I know that this blog is largely about Zoey Sakura Bejanger (an homage to my nephew, Reece, and his previous inability to pronounce his own last name, DeWagner) but sometimes I just have to empty my brian on this keyboard and unfortunately, you bare the annoying weight of that mind dump.

Here's the latest...

I ventured into the world of writing about music just once. It involved a certain fairly obscure in some circles, yet beyond amazing publication, called Paste. Throw into the mix The Troubador in West Hollywood, Jason Collett, Shawn Mullin's lame-o publicists, The Vines, and a stellar view of LA from the Hollywood Hills Hotel and you should have the perfect introduction to music journalism...nope. Hated it. It sucked the mustard. It did, however, make me a lifetime fan of the good people at Paste down there in Decatur, GA. After that ill-fated excursion into the unknown I haven't missed an issue...I donated to their Save Paste campaign when the recession was threatening the magazine's longevity, and very existence. I even have a rack in my living room dedicated to the best music magazine on the know, in my humble opinion.

Anyway...the magazine survived, the living room magazine rack keeps filling up and I regularly find the best new music and re-discover the best old music regularly simply by opening it's pages. The magazine sports some seriously incredible writers, people like Andy Whitman, whom I've come to respect beyond simple articulation, and now my newest favorite...Steve Labate.

In a review of the new White Stripes DVD, Under Great White Northern Lights, he wrote this...

"Whenever Jack and Meg White make music in Under Great White Northern Lights (the new documentary about their 2007 Canadian tour), they're a peppermint swirl of electricity -- the culmination of decades of greasy blues and DIY punk; the American garage writ large. They're the heirs apparent to everyone from Ledbelly to Bill Monroe to John Lee Hooker to the MC5, Led Zeppelin, The Flat Duo Jets, and Nirvana. Moreso than countless slick modern bluesman, newgrass-picking hippie bands and rootsy singer/songwriters pretending the last 40 years never happened, The White Stripes have synthesized the canon of traditional American music into something fresh and relevant."

Uhmm, wow. I think I hate to read more Steve Labate, find the DVD "Under Great Northern Lights," and maybe reconsider this music writing business.

Or maybe not.

On a completely unrelated note. I never paid much attention to Joan Jett before but after several weeks of watching Freaks and Geeks episodes over and over again I've fallen in love with her 1980 single Bad Reputation, it makes me feel seventeen again and makes me realize that although I hope Zoey is a bit of a musichead and very much the Lindsay Weir type, I don't know how I'll manage all that healthy angst. Take it as it comes I guess...after all, I couldn't deny her The White Stripes, and she's already thumbing through Paste. Maybe we'll just loop episodes of Freaks and Geeks on a television in her room while she sleeps? Probably not...we want her to turn out like Lindsay Weir, not Kim Kelly. Maybe we should just send her to the Girl Scouts and hope for the best?

Pearl Jam for Breakfast...then again later

We woke up this Saturday with nothing more on the agenda than relaxing, doing whatever the schmank we want, and waiting for Pearl Jam on SNL tonight. We typically don't organize our lives around the television but this is Pearl Jam. If we missed it we'd have to give up our Ten Club membership and probably go to confession or somethin' know, if we did that sort of thing.

So the first thing we did was get Zed all decked out in her best PJ onzie, then we snapped some pics and started making plans for what we'd do to kill some time before Eddie started wailing into the mic on the soundstage at 30 Rockefeller Plaza later tonight. We figured we were also obligated to send a copy of the pics to our good friend Colin, whose blood pressure actually spikes and fades to the beat of Matt Cameron's drums. After, empty Saturday...we can do whatever we want.

Maybe we'll rob a bank, or get Zoey a tattoo or somethin'? Or maybe we'll just stay home and practice swear words. Either way, there's a lot of time to waste before it's 11:30 pm.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Expensive sketchbooks are made for scribbling, or should be

Dad and Zoey like to draw things...mostly scribbly, scratchy, indiscernible things that consume large quantities of quality sketchbook paper. Dad doesn't care 'cause he loves doing it, and Zoey doesn't care either 'cause she loves doing it too, so no one cares why Dad doesn't just grab scrap paper and scribble away on it rather than the good stuff.

"Even thirteen month olds need to feel like an artist," he says, "especially thirteen month olds."

No one believes his @#$% but it's cute and sweet and he paid for the damn paper in the first place so who cares?

Cupcakes, no matter how cool, are bad at bedtime

Cupcakes at 6 pm are a bad idea, at least if your total body mass is less than 25lbs and you have to go to bed in two hours, in which case it's a very bad idea. Zoey cried herself to sleep last night because she really didn't want to go. She still had sugar pumping through her veins. She still wanted to talk to her stuffed animals and play with Mom and Dad's feet. She was jonesing for more cupcake.

Just a few days ago we purchased a couple of cupcakes for Zoey to give Grandma on her birthday, one for Grandma, naturally, and one for Zedder...naturally. They were these wicked awesome Sesame Street cupcakes, an Elmo and a Cookie Monster, and we had to buy them. We were so excited at the prospect of showing both Grandma and Zoey that we forgot to give them to either. We shamefully marched them out a full day later and suffice it to say, Grnadma never got a hand on one. Zoey settled back into her high chair after dinner and tore into them. It was so cute we couldn't even stop her. She was talking to them, kissing them, and then finally ripping their heads off and digging right into them. Apparently being her friend means your not above fulfilling her needs, at least if you're Elmo and Cookie Monster.

Zo started off gently, perhaps a little hesitant since she'd never seen a cupcake with eyes before, but it didn't take long before she got a little whacko and ripped into the sugary skulls of her sunny day friends. Once she tasted icing the animal in her took over and Elmo and Cookie Monster were done. She started with the cake...

but by the time that she was finished with all that chocolate and vanilla goodness she was knuckle deep in the icing that comprised the puppets heads. Not much mercy in a sugar soaked mind...not much guilt or trepidation either. Just keep your hands to yourself and watch Zo turn into something unfamiliar and unpleasant...funny, sure, but frightening all the same.

If we were even remotely capable of keeping all joking to a minimum we'd say that she was quite well behaved, tackled the sugary wonderfulness of the moment with quite a lot of restraint and dignity and was nowhere near the little monster that I'm making her out to be. It was actually one of the cutest things I've ever seen, and I've seen piles of cute in my life...that's right, piles of it. Regardless, giving your daughter that much sugar that late into the evening is nothing but trouble no matter how cute she gets. Parenting lesson #217 - Easy on the sugar there Willy Wonka, it's a bad idea 8 times out of 10...the other two times it's just a mildly stupid one.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happy ___ th Birthday Grandma!!

Today is Grandma's ____th Birthday. She spent her day chasing after her granddaughter and playing outside in the sun. Sounds pretty good to me. It was a low key celebration with flowers, some wicked coffee mocha cake, heartfelt cards and plans t think o snap the first family photo in over a decade, maybe even as much as twenty years. Its long overdue, and I really couldn't of a better birthday present.

Now the big question is what does Grandma do with the next thirty or so years of her life? We've got her covered for a few years helping us with Zedder, but she doesn't golf, or have any interest in chilling out in a trailer in Florida. She's gonna have to train for marathons or somethin'...maybe hike the Appalachian Trail or start her own fishing charter service or something. She could just get a cools part time job and enjoy the hell out of the rest of her life. I personally hope she moves to Southern California and auditions for movies. That's just me being selfish. We don't need any more reasons to visit Orange County.

Happy Birthday're pretty okay in our books...Zoey likes you a little too.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dixie Chicks Documentaries and Dad's Dreams for Daughters

How are you supposed to turn the channel on a Dixie Chicks documentary when you turn it on and Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers is playing drums with the girls in the studio? You don't. You don't even have to like the Dixie Chicks. I suppose you do have to like Chad Smith a little, but what you really need to embrace is the coolness in that turn of events. Chili Peppers and Dixie Chicks...kinda cool. It seems Smith laid down all of the drum tracks on the Chicks last album. That's cool.

Why would I even ramble on about this stuff? Mostly because it's a great documentary, more about the post-Bush trashing experience the girls endured than about music specifically, and also because I feel really strongly about a person's right to let what they're thinking seep into the atmosphere. As much as I understand how unfair life is, I'm also the most fervent of advocates for the pursuit of that same illusive fairness. The Dixie Chicks stood up for what they believed in and I became a fan that very instant. Right or wrong, it was their commitment to the pursuit of truth and freedom that pulled me in, and it's this documentary film that's helping to keep me. I want Zoey to grow up a strong and introspective girl, certainly one who's willing to fight for something. There really isn't much that is more powerful than a person whose convictions are just and beyond reproach. I want her to say what's on her mind, and I want her to believe in herself enough to say anything.

I was watching this documentary with the most innocent of intentions and ended it hoping that my daughter is willing to stand up for herself, her friends, and her beliefs.

If you haven't seen Shut Up & Sing, get busy watching it. You don't have to agree with it, but you'd be hard pressed not to respect the kind of conviction it takes to do what these girls do. All that AND Chad Smith is cool.

Pillow Pals and a TV Induced Trance

This is how Zo watches television now...set comfortably on her ladybug pillow pal, usually with some forced company (she's taken up the habit of kidnapping Mom and Dad whenever she wants company), and zoned out.

We worry about her taking in too much TV, even though she actually gets to watch very little, but I suppose, as parents, you're always worried about that kind of thing. I'm mostly concerned with how bloody organized she is. That's terribly worrisome. We could have an organizer on our hands, a planner, the goldest of personalities, which would be completely foreign to both June and I. Too much television is the least of our concerns. This kid could be the kind that actually uses her school planner!

Whose Dreams...Whose Expectations

One of my secret shames is that I can't get enough of 8 Simple Rules. I loved it when John Ritter was the focal point of the entire show and I loved it after John Ritter passed away. I love the characters, I love the story lines, I love the messages. It feels like the kind of show that I grew up know, family values, entertainment, blah, blah, blah...

Tonight I watched a re-run on Treehouse. It was the episode where Bridget wanted to become an aesthetician instead of attending a traditional college, and her Dad, John Ritter, freaked out. The message of the particular show is that you've got to let people be themselves and make their own choices, and it struck me as a valuable sit-com inspired lesson for raising Zo. Sure we want this or that for her but in the end it'll all come down to what she wants for herself. I guess that puts the pressure on us to lay a good foundation so that whatever she chooses to be or do it's something valuable. It's important to us that we remember whose dreams are on the table in front of Zo, and whose expectations she's trying to meet. If the answer to either of those questions is something other than herself, well, we've messed up.

Look at you Jack Tripper...still teaching us valuable lessons, like allowing your child to live her own life, and why faking a gay lifestyle can get you a better deal on rent in Santa Monica, California. What an inspiration.

The Dude abides, let's hope Zoey doesn't...not always

Jeff Bridges takes home the Best Actor Award at this years Oscars

Parenthood wears you out, so much so that I missed one of my most favorite actors ever taking home the Oscar for Best Actor 40 years after his very first nomination. Nice work fatigue. You robbed me of seeing The Dude walk off the stage with Oscar in tow. Damn you.

Zoey couldn't have cared less about the Oscars. To be perfectly honest, she couldn't care less about a lot of things, except for buttered raisin bread toast, her Mom, Mathilda, and the Backyardigans. There isn't much for a kid in all this Oscar stuff anyway. She wouldhave enjoyed seeing my elation at jeff Bridges win though...I would have enjoyed seeing my elation at Jeff Bridges win. Instead we were both deep in slumber, she, dreaming of, dreaming of riding in a cab with some homeless guy. Don't ask. Despite Oscar's lack of appeal for the pre-Kindergarden set, there were some Zedder references throughout the early evening though...

Tonight I heard Sandra Bullock tell a story about how when she was a child her mother begged her to be different than the rest. Both her mother and her father were creative sorts, to say the least, and appreciated the value of individuality. It's important stuff -- do your own thing -- and so she worked hard her whole life to not do what others were doing, you know, within reason and respectfully so. I liked that story, and I thought of Zo immediately after. Be yourself, that's a good mantra to make your child familiar with. The urge to be otherwise is perhaps the most ubiquitous urge on the planet. Something like that takes reminding and encouraging, I'm sure. More imporantly, I suppose it takes an example. That might explain a lot that is yet to come in our lives.

We're acutely aware of the little eyes that are watching, and we're constantly doing our best, or at least trying our best, to respect that. She will be be who we are, and then some. The least that we can do is take care of the us part.

The Dude abides, I just hope Zoey doesn't, not always.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sketching out a perfect day...

Zoey enjoying a bean bag chair that isn't hers.

After we stole our daughter back from the loving clutches of Baachan, we made a straight shot for the bookstore for an afternoon of playing with things that we had no intention of buying. Zedder loves the bookstore, especially now that bookstores sell everything but books, it's one of her favorite places. Not so strangely, it's always been one of Dad's favorites too.

Zedder and Dad doing some Saturday sketching on the couch

It was an amazing day full of blue skies and empty roads, brand new toy maracas, an empty handed search for Oliver Jeffers new book, and some Saturday sofa sketching. Zedder is getting better and better with a pencil and, well, Dad is too. He even got some semblance of a grip on that illusive story line for the illusive, Heart on my Sleeve project. Days could be better, but there are plenty worse too. Now cross your fingers that sun keeps shining. Daddy wants to wear shorts.

Found this great book today...Petit, the Monster by Isol. She's this really great Argentinian illustrator and author, certainly one you should be paying attention to. I am.

Happy Birthday Aunt Netta

If Zoey could say more than this, Dad, up, Mum, and duck she'd surely wish Aunt Netta a Happy Birthday...but since she can't I guess it's tough friggin' luck Netta.

Have fun anyway.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Take Me Out To The Ball Game...

Spring has sprung, and this family are Detroit Tigers season ticket holders again! It's just a 27 game package, but we get some nice little perks and Zo gets to spend yet another summer at the ballpark. As crazy as it sounds to invest in a ticket package, MLB and the Detroit Tigers really do make it affordable entertainment. Each game is costing the three of us a grand total of $22 US. We'll sell a few of them off 'cause we can't go, or maybe don't want to see KC on a Wednesday night in May, but we'll keep the best of the bunch and invest in some sunscreen.

Let it snow now, I don't care. It's Spring as far as I'm concerned.

I was driving home yesterday from one of the schools I frequent and I was tuned into the Tigers - Jays broadcast from Lakeland, FL, now this ticket boon...Oh man, it's Spring despite what any calendar might say.

On maybe an even more exciting note, I discovered that the Tigers are in LA over our Victoria Day weekend (CDN stat holiday for putting up with all that Queen stuff all those years, as in Victoria, not as in drag) and a flight/hotel combo to scoot out and catch four of five days of LA sun and some Dodgers-Tigers action in Chavez Ravine would run us just on the high side of $400. That just might be another deal that gets sealed in the coming week or two.

Wow, talk about a rally when you need one. Despite my felony conversation with a young scared (lying, stealing, using) accused oxy dealer this morning the afternoon turned amazing. He's going to jail, saving many of your friends and family member's children from potential harm, and I'm going to Comerica Park, maybe even LA if I'm lucky. Done and done. All that and the sky is blue, the temps are rising, and I'm leaving this heartless office in less than 60 minutes. The only bummer is that Zoey is at Baachan and Grandad's tonight, and we won't see her smiling, smooching face until tomorrow. Bummer for us, but I'll bet Baachan is doing backflips...Grandad too.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Zoey at 17

We've decided that Zoey will grow up in film and television related and/or defined phases or stages...that's right. We're going to count on her being exactly like various film and/or television characters throughout her life. Please, don't second guess this pointless decision of ours. Live your own life and quit judging ours, okay...


We fully expect Zoey to grow up to be like Lindsay from Freaks and Geeks. She's cool, and smart. Then she can grow up and be Tina Fey.

That's about all I have to say.

Today's random cute photo...

Zoey has figured out mittens. She didn't really want anything to do with them before but now she's got them figured out and so no mittens are beyond her curiosity, including Mom's.

Some days I feel like this...

Sometimes you just know that the boat can't pull you. Of course, sometimes it can get you up and out of the water, and then you're embarrassed by all your naysaying (which is my word of the day BTW...I'm going to use it no less than nine times today) and the negative energy you were chucking out to the world. Sometimes you can and sometimes you can't. I should get that tattooed on my hand.

I've got me some funk in the middle of all this sunshine, and it's not the good kind of funk, you know, like George Clinton style funk...nope, it's restlessness and some weird psychological stuff, something oddly in between Imposter Syndrome and some Dunning-Kruger Effect type stuff...either way, the definitions are annoyingly academic, and nowhere near accurate, so I'll keep on feeling like Jumbo at Cypress Gardens.

Strangely enough, I started reading Walter Kirn's Up In The Air yesterday and the first chapter felt like my life, you know, minus the Palm Pilots, rental cars, salted almonds, Kevlar luggage and nameless suite hotels...the airports too.

It was the feeling of that first chapter that echoed in a voice I recognized. On the go, relatively rootless, passing strangers all day every day but the job is to bridge that gap between stranger and friend...instead of air miles I get mileage cheques. It was so familiar that it made me feel at home right at the very moment I was, in the structure of my usual day, without a home. I use other peoples offices and telephones. I win over their secretaries and assistants so that they'll help me with what I need help with, and so that I get their oh-so-helpful fly on the wall perspectives. They typically have no right to give me access to what kind of information they give me access to but since I ask nicely and I swing in and out of their cubicles and lives, it's an easy exchange. I smile a lot an mostly I mean it...97% of the time, which I'm sure is more than most.

I know about your problems, and your family's problems. I know what people say about you, and what you say about them. I'm Switzerland. I'm perpetually balancing on a narrow fence rail. I know people...who you should call, who will be cool, and who won't. I can tell you if that application is going to get approved or not. I'm racking up miles like you've never imagined. I'm regularly pinching off 2,500 kms a month or more, and that's just on the highway. Emotionally speaking I've got miles and miles of road behind me...the problem is I've got just as much ahead of me every day when I crawl out of bed. It's what I do, and it's what wears me out some weeks.

It's also what inspires me other weeks. This week I'm choosing to be in a bit of a funk...the key is choosing. When I lose my ability to choose I'll be doing something else. Sometimes it just feels better to know that the boat can't pull you. It sure feels better than a mouth full of more water than air. Ironically, it doesn't feel half as good as walking on water.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mo Teef... and a lot of stupid rambling

I know a little girl who just got her ninth tooth and is staring molars right in the mouth...kinda literally. Well, not really staring them in the mouth 'cause it's her mouth that has them primed to bust through the skin and make dinner an entirely different experience from this day forward. That's right, Zedder's growing herself some more teeth.

We can tell 'cause she occasionally sucks right now...not on anything in particular, that's just a general behavioural observation, which is actually completey untrue. Zo is pretty much a smiley, happy funsterm approx. 90% of the time. She is indeed getting more teeth, but she doesn't suck...not even a little.

BTW...this might be the cutest picture ever known to mankind...maybe. We have to carbon date it, which will be the only dating this little girl will ever do, just to be clear.

Also, I've recently thrown the gauntlet down at my friend Johnny Twothings to make me more Canadian, without me having to wear an actual lumber jacket. Growing up on the border like I did, all I really know is that Canada is a constitutional monarchy, which technically means we have to obey the Queen if she orders us to do something. It’s mainly a symbolic thing though, as she rarely exercises the privilege. I think the last time was in 1978 when she ordered us to execute Gordon Lightfoot. We didn't. We would, however, be willing to sacrifice Steven Page...every single member of Nickelback as well...and Loverboy. Maybe Shania Twain too, and for sure Celine Dion. Not Anne Murray though, never Anne Murray.

What the hell did I start this blog post about anyway? Does anyone remember?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dream a Little Dream of Me...

I dreamt about Zoey before she even arrived. I dreamt about a little girl who asks her Dad questions about boys, and a little girl who shoots better free throws than her father, and drags him around to swimming pools all over the country. I dreamt about weekend visits to crowded college campuses and photos on the first day of kindergarden. I dreamt about buying Mary Janes and learning how to braid hair and I even dreamt about being worried I would dress her wrong.

It's so strange to look at this little girl and know that I dreamt her before I even met her.

Sometimes your words just hypnotize me...

Zedder and her Pillow Pal plop down for some Backyardigans

Sorry, that post title was a terrible reference to Notorious BIG's song Hypnotize, but it seemed appropriate considering Zoey's paralysis in front of the television whenever the Backyardigans is on. She's hypnotized. We try to make sure that Zo doesn't get too much television, but we're pretty big fans of PBS and Treehouse, and of certain shows...Super WHY!, Dinosaur Train, WordWorld, The Koala Brothers, and of course, Sesame Street. Zo gets pretty zoned in for Elmo but nothing beats The Backyardigans.

Zo and Tyrone taking in...well, Tyrone.

Zo's started a routine of grabbing her ladybug Pillow Pal and settling in for her show. It's just about the cutest thing ever, at least since John John and Grover got together to count back in the day. She plops herself down and doesn't move a muscle until the last note of Elmo's song is just an echo in this house.

Best Company Ever...For Real

So both June and I missed out on all of the available Olympic gear this year, but wanted to get something that showed our syrupy Canadian pride, so we ordered some gear from Roots (which is about twenty times better than all that Hudson's Bay Co. junk). We logged onto and spent a wad. It was totally worth it, and we learned that Roots is pretty much the greatest company on earth...yeah, too bad for you Phil Knight and Yvonne Chouinard...Roots is the best thing ever.

We already knew that Roots was a pretty rad company but this latest order solidified our opinion AND encouraged a deeper love by delivering our beauty hoodies straight to our door in less than 48 hours with no shipping charges. What? Yeah, less then 48 hours from the time we clicked the enter button on our computer a box from Roots arrived at our doorstep, delivered by a Mountie and his pet beaver.

I ordered the Alberta Hoodie, and June scooped the Women's Roots Canada Hoodie, both purchases helping to contribute to the uber-amazing Right to Play Program. If you don't know what that is then get familiar with it and feel bad that you didn't come up with the idea. After that you should go back to and buy something from the best company ever. Do it or else you'll regret it forever and ever. I swear on my mukluks.