Sunday, April 29, 2012

Every Day, a Little Bit Bigger...

TV Zed

It knocks me over backwards to watch this little girl grow big.  Today I stole a few minutes to just watch her as she was entranced by Phineas and Ferb, and all I saw was blue eyes, blonde hair, and a big girl.

Sigh.  That's the one bit of advice that everyone did get right.  This does go by fast.

Finders Keepers...

Oh how I love just stumbling into something Sarah Jaffe.  While pulling quadruple duty --  reading Stieg Larsson, watching Into the Blue, talking to June, and flipping 'round looking for some new music to turn me inside out -- I tripped on Sarah Jaffe, and now I'm giving her to you.  She's lovely (I kind of always wanted to type the word "lovely").

I'm a sucker for that familiar ground between folk, roots rock and indie it was an easy fall-all-over-myself for Sarah.  It's soulful but sad, like restrained water being held behind the dam, and I love it. Et tu?  Do you go looking for new music, or are you more inclined to stick to your Daddy's Skynard?  Sometimes it's nice to sail off looking for the edge of the world.  I'm reminding myself that I could do a lot more of that.  What are you reminding yourself of lately?  I've got that, and the possibility that the Detroit Tigers are cursed.

Dream Towns...and Our Town


I can't get enough of these Best Places To Live, and Best Neighborhoods magazine features.  In fact, there used to be a time when I checked the racks for these issues every month, knowing full well that Outside, or Men's Journal, had just published the issue, and it would be eleven or twelve months before they would do it again.  I remember laying on the floor in a rented room in the Canadian freshwater dive mecca of Tobermory, ON, waiting for June to come home from work, and burning the hours leafing through a Best Places to Live issue, sighing out loud.

Dreaming of running away isn't just a youthful pursuit.  Even now, all aged and established (supposedly), I still can't help but root through the pages of these issues and imagine little Zed growing up in one of these fantastic places.  More often than not we're blindsided with a listing of a place that we know intimately...Leucadia and Encinitas, CA...Carroll Gardens or Cobble Hill, Brooklyn...and we're rewarded with a sort of geographical vanguard feeling of been there, done that.  It's uplifting when you've decided to call home a place that's a mere 45 minutes from where you grew up.  No regrets, we walk to the beach, and can be sitting in a stadium with 100,000 friends back in Ann Arbor in just over an hour, but Sarnia, Ontario is NOT San Clemente, CA.  Mind you, our neighborhood also doesn't cost us 106% more to live in than the rest of North America.  Still, it's nice to dream, and even nicer to discover that someone else's dreams have also been your reality.  And there's the biggest benefit of where we've chosen to lay down roots.  We can afford to have a little of both...Cobble Hill and Carroll Garden, and an affordable home near the beach.  No one writes magazine articles about that.

My perfect town?

Vibrant, alive neighborhoods...

Lots of families...

An economy that is operating on any level above collapsing...

Some culture, some entertainment...

Close to water...beach smells preferred...

A healthy, active vibe...

Schools and education are important...

A far left pacifism kind of attitude...

Drenched in a collegiate residue...


Bookstores and at least a couple of record shops...

I can walk, or drive...or bike...or paddle...

I can wear whatever clothes I like...cotton Dockers and golf shirts aren't the standard maniform...

There are friends close by...or people I'd call to call friends...

Close to some kind of transportation hub...I wanna get places, and without hassle...

I understand the can take the boy out of the midwest but not the midwest out of the boy...

I can spend my money there...

People are happy.

When you look at it that way...geography only accounts for some of it.  We...our attitudes, our perspectives, our ambitions...make up the rest.  Dream towns don't always show up on your GPS.

...And With the 253rd Pick Overall, the DeWagner's Select...

Photo 112

Yesterday was Draft Day in the NFL...not exactly a holiday in our house, but a cool weekend if you like watching people go from oh-so regular to oh-so rich in the time it takes for someone to call out their name.  It's kind of hard not to get a little emotional watching a 21 year old kid get teary, his smile grow wide, and his family explode with joy.  That's cool as cool gets every time.

We didn't watch much of it.  It was background noise for us at best, but it got me to thinking about what we're getting in baby #2...a funny notion considering we won't have the first idea of what we're going to get with Zoey for at least a decade.  Three to thirteen will fly by fast, but that will also mean that by 2022 we'll also have a ten year old to befuddle us.  Do you really figure your kids out?  Is there really any telling what they'll be?  I don't think so.  I think that at best you might approximate who they'll have some direct control over that.  It's advice that I give kids all the time.  What you become is waaay less important than who you become.  I think that you can get a taste of tht from your children.  Values, integrity, ambition, honesty, goodness, etc...those are all character defining traits that you may catch glimpses of early, and certainly whose seeds you can plant and water, but what you're child will become...nope.

We fall victim to stereotypes as much as the next, and there were some absolutely unfair generalizations that we made about our children's future that are funny to share.

I didn't want a boy that would turn into a hockey player...why?  Because hockey players are 79% a#%holes.  It's true.  I was one.  Not all hockey players are a#%holes, no.  Girls are much less often a#%hole hockey players, and according to my math approx. 21% of all hockey players are decent, unspoiled, generous people, but after spending a giant hunk of my life around hockey players, trust me...the odds are stacked against you.

I'm glad that we're oh-so lower middle class of a family.  Rich kids get a skewed view of the world.  I'm glad our family is more closely connected to working class roots.  It matters.  Having a Dad, or Mom, that donated half of their life to Ford or Chrysler, or GM is something to be proud of, and it helps you find an honest perspective of the planet.  I know nice rich kids, but I know more awful ones.

There are more...there are oh-so many more, but I feel embarrassed to have said as much already.  Of course, I know this is all just nonsense, just rambling on a quiet Sunday, but there is some element of truth to it, a whisper at the very least, a roar at the most...You don't know what your child will become, and you can't control it, not entirely, but you can pay attention, and plant seeds, and inspire this development or that, support it, nurture it.  You can  stand up for things and tolerate this or that, but don't try to be there on Draft Day some twenty years too soon.  It doesn't work that way.

Bon Iver on SNL...

I've never been a giant, gushing Bon Iver fan, but then to be 100% truthful I'd never donated much of an effort into listening, and then tonight I stumble into a February episode of SNL (Channing Tatum & Bon Iver) and hear "Holocene" for the first time.  Now I need more...I dunno how much more, but more.  Do I have to pronounce his name like that though?

At one point June said, "Where's he from...Wisconsin?" The statement is entirely accurate, but it sounded so ridiculous at the moment that I nearly choked.  I'm going to use that line all the time now, I think.  "Where's that guy from...Wisconsin?" I have a feeling it won't get old, not for me at least. I'm not sure what the population of Wisconsin is, but there's a certain percentage of times where I'll be right.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Parent Spectrum

Zoey had her first session of gymnastics this morning...her first session without a "big girl" as she'd say.  We were excited.  She's at that age where she could absolutely benefit from structure and the company of others, and all of the lessons learned from a group of other unruly how to wait in line (still learning that one), how to follow instructions (not bad), and how to get along with boys (better).  Strangely, it's Daddy that might need more training.  It's my social skills that are in question.

I loathe gymnastics parents...loathe them.  Hockey parents...bad rap, and deservedly so, but often enough, they are just the same as you and me.  Gymnastics parents...oh my...they're all Bebe designer frames, pink Lulu Lemon sweaters, hair highlghts, and Tom's Shoes.  There are a lot of iPhones and even some downtrodden, well worked over men, but mostly there is narcissism, but narcissism in it's most socially accepted and promoted form...the middle class to upper middle class sports parent.  More specifically, one of two kinds...the sport parent who never, ever cared about, or orbited around sports but who now does...and the sport parent who has always been just a little too into sports.  The rarified middle ground -- the parent with some perspective and probably not the biggest SUV in the parking lot -- is tough to find.

Today I stumbled into the gym on crutches, a leg length immobilizing brace on my knee, to a crowded, chaotic, self-centered mass of yoga pants, and those awful Puma shoes that look like they belong on the feet of race car drivers.  Every seat was taken, nary a standing room existed, and NOT A SINGLE MOM TURNED AROUND OFFERED ME A SPOT TO SIT.  Not a single woman even as much as glanced in my direction.  It was a new low in an already dismal opinion of this particular breed of blight, the gymnastics parent.  It took all of five minutes for my indignation to reach unscalable heights.  Zoey looked cute as #$%*, but these parents could rot.

I spent part of last year enduring the incessant man-bashing I would hear as one of the only Dads stationed near the glass at a gymnastics club.  It was awful, and came close to lowering my lofty opinion of an entire gender except I had perspective, and patience, and a good grip on the notion that these weren't women, they were robots. Evil, evil robots, and there was a reason they complained about men...because no decent man, or man that wasn't broken, would tolerate their Lulu Lemon-ness.  They were abhorrent, and I would never again apologize for myself or the crimes of my gender in the company of women like them.

Perhaps I was too used a more impressive type of girl...the cooler, better adjusted, easier going sort like my wife, or the numerous other women I know and can appreciate?  The kind I hope Zo turns out to be.  At the very least I'm too used to beauty and perspective that isn't ached and sweated over, but just is.  I can name you ten women off the top of my head who I would gladly pack my child up with and send her off to a tournament, or meet, or whatever misguided social sporting event we adults of the 21st century send our kids off too.  These women are beautiful, kind, intelligent, giving, and don't need make-up to make an 8am hockey practice...and they still look great, but you know why they look great?  Because they're not idiots...because they're cool...because the things that come out of their mouth are interesting and drenched with humor and perspective...because they understand that what they're doing is defining their children more than themselves, and THOSE girls I can hang with.  Gymnastics

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sports is For Losers...

I'm just about done with sports least, not without doing some serious analysis of who I'm talking to.  I get more sincere, less antagonistic, back and forths with Zoey.  Tonight I got dissed by a guy who most recently won his fourth Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Women's Varsity Western Division Sports Information Director of the Year award.  It was truly humbling. more sports conversations with anyone that isn't on a pre-approved list of kind, intelligent, discriminate, and well-informed people.  How will you know if you're on that list?  I guess if we talk about sports.  I'm just much too tired of the pseudo-bullying that accompanies most sports if unoriginal opinion and supposed sports information are social capital.  They're not.

I hope Zoey just decides to play chess and the cello.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Links on Ice...and Elevated

Ooooh, all-natural sunscreen.  Need this.

Write this down.

Me and Chorizo are tight, thanks to our good friend Stephanie.  I'm eating this stuff, and you can't stop me.

For my sixteen year old little Hip Hop obsessed friend at the school who thought I had no chops...who had a hard time comprehending that rap was bloody well "invented" by my generation.  Take this... and just in case you thought that you invented this too, here you go.

It seems as though I've got a lot of listening to do.

June's always on this thing...and every time I think, "what the hell," and then she scores something outrageously cheap, and outrageously useful.  Then I realize that I'm a guy and I know nothing about this stuff so I should shut up.

I'd like to know Dave Bidini's secret 'cause the guy's ridiculously prolific.

Shouldn't Justin Verlander have had far more features in major magazines by now?  I'm just sayin'.

Kind of awesome advice.

At first I thought this was cool...and then afterwards I felt a little sad.

Screw you New York Times...I guess it's the Post now 'cause The Daily News makes me feel dirty.   TO be perfectly honest, so does The Post.

This debate means nothing to most of us, but to our friends Paul and Betzy, it matters...and to our friends Jeff and Mel, it mattered.  To people like us, or to people like our friends Kevin and Aimee, it's not much of a debate. We love NYC, but we walk to the beach living here. End of debate.

Very good story. There is a lot that sounds familiar in those paragraphs.

I didn't think that I could watch a video of a motorcycle driving down the highway for damn near ten minutes...I was wrong.

Always one of my favorite magazines issues. Best Places to Live (US only)

First good.  For some reason I can't see Stephen Harper "slow jamming" the news.

Last, but not even friggin' close to being least.  Thanks to my good friend, Ally, for pointing out this video...

Uncle B and a Shiny New Knee...Someday

Uncle B and Zo hospital
Uncle Brad and a super distracted niece, Zoey - CK Health Alliance, Ambulatory Care, Ortho Clinic

A visit to the orthopedic surgeon's today found us in the care of Uncle B...and Zed was impressed.  I caught her staring and smiling a few times...following Uncle B around the room with her eyes, and grinning like a freak.  I think she was a little proud...probably in the most ignorant of senses, not having the first clue what was really going on, but I suspect she thought Uncle B was a Doctor.  Ortho Tech...Doctor...whatever.

After our most recent pain-mitzvah, and the subsequent swell-festival, it was back to into the lion's mouth for yet another consult.  This time replacing my month long follow up with an actual surgery, and adding a diagnosis.  Dr. K suspects that there is also lateral ligament tear, but can't be sure until he gets in there, so we'll skip the MRI and go right to the good stuff...a scope.  Who needs all that digital imaging foreplay anyway?  Not me.  I like a doctor that gets right to business.  So now it's more ice...more NSAIDs...and more compression and elevation, and this time we'll add to the mix some immobilization in the form of a stiff black brace the length of my damn leg that allows me to move it approximately four millimetres in any direction.  It is what it is, which can occasionally be funny if June's around to lighten the mood.

Computer and Ice Pack

So...home...immobilized, and doing a little pre-op reading...resting...and cursing every urge to pee, which means going either up or downstairs, and praying peeing is all I have to do.  Sitting is a little complicated.  All things considered, Zo's limping, lethargic excuse for a Dad is feeling pretty good.  The surgeon feels fairly strongly that there is no arthritis in the knee, which is astounding considering the amount of orthopedic trauma it's experienced (and does wonders to convince me that I do indeed live this life of mine with a horseshoe firmly planted between my cheeks), but he can't be 100% positive until he goes rooting around in there.  The X-rays are overwhelmingly positive.

"It's a great lookin' knee," he said.

Thanks Dr. K...and thanks Uncle B...with any luck I'll have a brand new shiny knee by the middle of May.  Without said luck...well, I guess I'll get great parking at Michigan Stadium what with a handicapped parking sticker.  In the meantime...I've got the best medical attention a guy could want. She might be little but my God she's cute.

Doctor Zoey

Has anyone else out there ever experienced being taken care of my their toddler?  It's a big deal to Zo.  She brings me ice, kisses my knee, attempts to help me wrap it, and is seriously smitten with the velcro straps on my immobilizing brace..all SIX of them.  She places Advil directly in my mouth, and hands me a glass of water (it has to be done this way), and she spends an awful lot of time balancing between looking at me with sad concern, and tripping/falling/leaning/whacking my leg.

I'm not complaining.  Good pity is hard to find.

This is bad...isn't it?

Bad knee - April 24, 2012

Doctor's tomorrow...impromptu, I know, but also very necessary, I think. Whew.  Sweet, pain free dreams everyone.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Table Monster

The lovely, and largely innocent looking, June may have just been setting our equally lovely and innocent looking daughter up to be that girl that encourages others into trying ridiculous refrigerator concoctions of leftovers and random condiments.  Zed and her Mom were discussing "decisions" at the kitchen table last night in a conversation that eventually led to drinking pickle juice, pepper water, and cinnamon sprinkled everything.  It seems that daring Zoey to do something is a bad idea.

Mom: Would you rather drink your delicious juice OR pepper water?

Zed: Uhmm, pepper water.

Mom: Are you sure?  Is that the right decision?

Zed: (giggling) Yup.  I think it is.

...and congratulations to Mom for following through and feeding her daughter pepper water.  The problem was that Zoey was down for drinking pepper water...and then pickle juice...and then cinnamon sprinkled pickle juice...and then...and then...

On the plus side, Zoey has been talking about good decisions and bad decisions all day.  On the negative side of things, I want nothing to do with my daughters disgusting little lips, AND I think June just created a triple-dog-dare monster of absolutely legendary proportions.  I pity the girls that choose, oh-so naively,  to be this little daredevil's friends.

I'll Have Mine on The Rocks, Please...

Knee on ice

I'm starting to feel like the Charlotte Bobcats...7-57 entering the last week of this shortened NBA know, like you just can't win. I put the crutches away despite some lingering pain, and it took less than 48 hours to need them again. It seems I am in fact made of balsa wood, and that any sense of normalcy that I've been hoping for are wasted wishes. Daddy's on ice and as Run DMC would say, "it's like that, and that's the way it is."

 I've got one month to rest this aching appendage, and even after that we've only just reached decision time...cut, don't cut...and then it's hobble into the remainder of Spring and quite possibly summer, like Lieutenant Dan except with better orthopedic connections. Boo, I say. Boo! Ever parent on crutches? It's awful. I want to go to the park, and the library. I want to cook dinner without pain and swelling and the need to take a break. I'd really like to be able to sit down to go to the bathroom and not squeal in pain just bending my knee. Sleeping on my side would be a refreshing trick. Driving with a workable brake foot would feel safer. But mostly I want to be able to keep up with Zoey. It's also really tough to work in the situations I most often find myself when the student pities your plight more than their own...actually, that's quite nice. I just want a serviceable leg.

I know plenty of people, overweight out of shape, abusing themselves etc...and they all walk. I'd like to walk. I'd like to ditch these crutches and never see another pair as long as I live. I'd like to stumble headlong into some Cal Ripken-like streak of consecutive days without being out of the line-up. Anyone have any miracles saved up, 'cause I'd to borrow one...just a little one, hardly even a miracle, really. Anyone? Over the years I could have made proper use of my own ice machine, and thirty years is just far too long to require crutches in your closet.

On a much more positive note...I do indeed have two legs, both in occasional working order, and my daughter is cool as hell.  My wife too.  Oh, and despite my also-occasionally grumpy disposition they like me back.  Maybe I don't need to borrow any miracles?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Zoey and The Three Investigators...and The Poddy

Zoey - Three Investigators

When I was a kid I was an enormous fan (geek) of Robert Arthur's "Three Investigators" series. I loved it. If you were to go to my hometown library and pulled those books from the shelves, you'd find my library number stamped in the back of most of those books in overwhelming fashion. WHen I say I loved them...I LOVED them. Some time ago I purchased a portion of the entire series on ebay, and tonight, while using the poddy, Zo wanted me to read them to her. Not exactly toddler reading...or pddy reading... but she humored me through a few pages. "I like these books Daddy," she said. "You do? I asked. "Do you like this story?" "No, she replied flatly. "I just like them because you like them." Sweet. Mostly I hate suck ups but this one I'll tolerate.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Morning Coffee Links...

Book spine poetry...sounds like a new hobby for our friend Beth

Pretty excited for this film to make it's way into my eyeballs and absorb into my frontal lobes.

Some serious Children's titles from some of the world's serious graphic designers...pretty awesome. 

Grandad doesn't just listen to music, although he's always been a big fan his entire life...there's a science involved in sound and music that really catches the corners of his curiosity.

Wow...different perspective.

I bet you didn't even think about the origins of yesterday's infamy, did you? I hadn't.

And this is why we live near the beach on Lake Huron.

Ted Nugent is a turd.

OMG...I'm doing this! Message me if you want in!

On Record Store Day, what is a list of links with one that makes your ears orgasm? Listen to this and then pay me back by saying nice things about me when I'm gone.
rsd+date_wide_2011 It's Record Store Day...or second Christmas, as we like to call it. Wake up early, shower, dress, coffee...grab my list, and the lists of friends, and head out the door to wait for the local record store to unlock it's doors. What a simple, honest, sincere little event...and I love it. There isn't much out there that turns you thirteen years old again, but this does. Check out

Friday, April 20, 2012

Always the Photographer, Never the Photographed...Almost Never


June has one heckuva eye for framing a photo, for catching a moment, for finding the photo in the background of what the rest of us typically see...but because of that she's rarely the subject matter.  It seems like this blog alone has a pile of Daddy and Daughter pics, and only a handful of Mom and Zed photos.  Dad needs to snap a better pic so that we can change that.  I love seeing these two girls all caught in a moment.


Even more rare are the family photos when all three of us get a chance to sit for a snap. That happens only occasionally, and so we cross our fingers that we have a decent showing when we do stumble into one. Or we act like idiots and waste an opportunity that surely won't come again for months. Kinda how we roll. As Spring stretches toward summer I think we need to amend both phenomena.

You've Got a Friend in Me...


What is it about kids that anyone is a potential friend...that fun needs to be shared...that boundaries, differences, Hell, even language, mean nothing in the face of friendship?  There's an obvious lesson in that. When do we start judging, and discriminating so boldly, and at what point do our biases begin to outweigh our need for new friends?

Zoey makes friends in the quick snap of your fingers...with anyone...anywhere...period.  When we were in New York  her easy attitude, and the sweet presumption that every kid is a potential friend, often found her approaching other children with the quiet offering of friendship and play, and many a miniature native New Yorker walked away with a puzzled look on their face.  She is oh-so eager to make friends, and there are a lot of kids much less inclined.  It makes us proud of her.  Our friend's kids are her friends...quickly, and without question...the Elle's, and Amelia's, and Julia's, and Harmon and Simon's of the world (all distant, and often only occasional acquaintances...the oh so lie...children of friends) are instant friends, with lasting connections and memories and stories.

Are your kids the same?  How social are your children?  Ours seemed ready for school and summer camp the minute she took her first breath.

Windy City Pictures


It's been two weeks since we slipped off to visit the Windy City for the weekend, and it was the first time that Dad left both his cell phone and laptop at home...on purpose. We were dire need of a blogless weekend, with no risk of a crisis phone call buzzing into our bliss...and we got it. Thanks in large part to the Byers family, Mother Nature, and the city that Mike Ditka built, we got four days of uninterrupted awesome.

Chicago 1 Chicago 2

We stayed with Zoey's BFF, Meredith, and her family in South Chicago, and were careful about our Chicago Cubs references. Meredith's Dad, Glen, was so cool as to literally loan us his apartment for the weekend, and we settled in like urgency, no touristy tourist stuff...just hanging out and having fun.


We had dinner with the Byers family, visited the Brookfield Zoo, snuck away to downtown Chicago, skipped a Cubs game that we had every intention of making, rode the train (Zed's first real train aside from the subway), hung out in Millennium Park, shopped, wandered...and soaked up the city in as relaxed a fashion as we could muster.  We played with our reflections, walked sidewalk tightropes, practiced our alphabet...the kinds of things that you don't find in Foddor's guide books, but you do find in awesome photo albums.

Chicago 3 Chicago 4

We saw Silverback Gorillas, heard a shop owner explain the Cubs-Sox rivalry to a confused looking European tourist, watched a puppet show from the back of a bike, ate stellar pizza, consumed beers, and avoided any kind of traditional Easter celebration.


We ate ice cream at the Original Rainbow Cone, and watched old growth trees mowed down to the dismay and protest of locals, as the old Evergreen Golf Club in Beverly was leveled to make way for commercial interests.  None of it was on our radar before we left home.


Mostly we did a lot of nothing except enjoy each other...and it was exactly what we wanted.

Chicago 5

We're city vacationers, or often enough we're city vacationers. There is always lots to do, lots to see, something to discover around every corner...parks, trains, stores, sights, sounds, and giant shiny bean sculptures...and zoos...there are always zoos.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Girls, Girls, Girls...

This is what I've learned in fifteen or so years of helping young people figure things out...

Boys are seemingly black and white on the surface...easy-peasy, but remarkably complex beneath that veneer. Girls are all complex and confusing on the surface and yet so profoundly black and white behind all of those frightening fireworks...a girl's math typically adds up every time, if you use her equations. It's a generalization, of course, and something that often stirs debate, but trust me, both observations are compliments to each gender, and both are based on all day, every day watching, learning, and absorbing. We can't figure each other out for a reason, and there's something so incredibly yin and yang about it all that I triple dog dare you to argue the point.

Someday, June queries, I'm going to have to deal with a house full of girls, that will someday be women, and am I ready?

More than ready...I'm excited about it. I've learned that if you can get past the difficulties in the moment with a young girl, and figure out the who, what, where, and whys...especially the whys, everything makes sense...but just because a boy resolves his conflict instantly, and with fists, or harsh words, does not mean that the problem was a simple one, in fact, you might find it more irrational, more emotional, and harder to find source, and impact. I'll take the puzzle that is a woman every time, which isn't saying I'm any better at translating their language, deciphering meaning from action, or putting my calculator away. All it means is that I'm willing to do those things, or try, and that I'm more than ready and more than willing to be wrong.

Am I ready for a house under the spell of three incredible girls...I'm over the moon at the prospect, but I could be wrong.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Best Magazine Article of All Time...and One List That You Don't Want to Make

Least Influential

I used to be a ridiculous reader of magazines. When I was working away in UCLA's Writer Program a pretty fabulous professor had us reading every damn publication that we could get our hands on, even trimming articles, cutting and pasting a filing them, pasting them into collections of our most favorite writers or styles, or even subject matter. It was a golden age of indulgence. We were even assigned the occasional Playboy writing, which made for awkward visits to the corner store. Somewhere lives a professor that essentially turned all of his students into perceived pervs in the neighborhood convenience stores.

Just recently June collected a batch of mail that Canada Post had allowed to build up when we moved and forwarded mail. Naturally, some mail never made it to the new address. Boo, except for the literal Christmas Eve of unopened magazines and the endless awesomeness between their glossy covers.

I stumbled into this article and nearly was irreverent, hilarious, rude, and yet accurate...all at the same time. I had to snap a shot or two of it's best parts.

Hank Jr

And as if that grin inducing attack on America's most red of necks, Hank Williams Jr. wasn't enough, the author went and enlightened me on the minutia of the Bobby Bonilla contract that practically destroyed the New York Mets.

Bobby Bonilla

Are magazines a gigantic waste of money? Yes...without question. Are they occasionally awesome? Absolutely. I wonder if I can defer friendships the way that Bonilla did dollars?

Three Year Olds Have Different Ideas About How to Make the Perfect Hamburger

CLose up of the starburger

Dustin Wellman, please pay attention. You will absolutely not see this on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. No way. Apparently THIS is how you season a burger due for the grill. It looks gross but the sprinkles just melt away, and of course, the child doesn't want to eat it once it's cooked anyway.

Cooking with a three year old is an adventure minus logic, or any familiar sense of reasoning whatsoever...but it's fun.

I think our foodie friends Mel and Elle would be awfully proud of this effort.

Get Your Knee Sucked Dry of Gunk...BBQ, Then Play Catch With Your Daughter

Dad Zed catch - April 2012

Once Daddy could bend his knee again with only a moderate amount of pain, he was excited to have two legs under him again...even if one of them wasn't worth a damn. Time for a game of catch. We can ice and elevate later!

As the afternoon burned on without a cloud in the sky, Daddy and Zed played a little catch in the backyard while we waited for Mom to get home from work. Zo was SO excited that she could throw like a real baseball player...'cause she could...and she even had to wear her Tigers sweatshirt. Apparently Dad was fine in his Kings jersey...must have been the purple. Purple gives a guy a free pass every time with Zo.

Mom and Zed baseball backyard

Baseball freaks and geeks out there....when did you put a glove in your child's hand? Hit off a tee? Start planting the seeds of loving the slowest game on the planet (cricket and chess excluded)? And when do you remember starting to play catch with Mom or Dad or sibling in the backyard? Playing with Zed tonight I wondered why we hadn't done it sooner.

Who Knew That Knees Could Be Made Of Balsa Wood ? I Didn't

Knee Clinic 2\

Don't play on the teeter-totter's just not made for middle aged idiots...well, idiots, sure, but not middle aged ones. Turns out I tore a meniscus in my right knee while playing with Zed in the park, and I've been a limpy gimpy drip of a Dad for days, a full week, in fact. I finally had a consult with a damn good Orthopedic Surgeon know, officially, not on the down-low just 'cause Uncle B works for them. Today an actual factual surgeon jammed a great big fat needle into my knee and drained about a billion litres of yellow gunk out of my knee and lower quad...that was kind of dodgy...especially when Dr. K started rummaging around in there, you know, with that turkey baster of a needle. That sucked.

The diagnosis...

Torn meniscus...right knee. We drained the bugger...go home and ice it, rest it. take it easy, then come back in a month and talk about surgery.

Strangely enough, I'm about as bouncy as you could expect a guy to be...times ten. It is what it is. I got me a balsa wood leg, but no biggie. I like balsa wood.

Thanks Uncle B for breaking ahout seventy-eight rules today and sneaking me in. Now I'm really sorry for breaking your nose that one time. You're alright.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Winged Wheels and Wide Eyed Little Girls

A Joe Louis Tuxedo

I wasn't always a fan of the winged wheel, but there was a time in my life when I didn't have 40 years of experience either. It turned out that with the exception of two times, the only professional hockey games I'd ever seen had been in Detroit. The first hockey jersey I ever wore was a Montreal Canadians jersey. The first games I can ever remember were Toronto Maple Leaf games, and my first favorite hockey team was the Edmonton Oilers. I own two Red Wings sweaters, two Edmonton Oiler sweaters, one New York Rangers amazing LA Kings sweater...and one somewhat out of place, retro style Mats Sundin Vancouver Canucks jersey (found like a damn buried treasure in a store's bargain bin)...and considering the number of times that I've visited Joe Louis Arena, and also my unabashed Oilers affection, all of the jerseys hanging in my closet make more than perfect sense. What doesn't is why I don't own a vintage Leafs jersey, a dynasty era Islanders jersey, a black retro Bruins sweater (lace-up) and a Ken Dryden Habs red number. Such embarrassing phenomena makes absolutely no sense to me, nor does the fact that I don't own a vintage Tom Barrasso Sabres jersey (my most favorite dude ever as a young goalie) and a classic CCCP Russian Red Army Tretiak jersey. That just seems borderline insane to me.

Zedder-berg 2

I didn't force Zo into a Red Wings jersey. She was, in fact, super stoked to wear Dad's sweater as he donned 'er for tonight's Game 4 in Detroit. She probably gets more stoked when Dad wears his Kings jersey with all those purple much so that she wants one of her own. She's never asked for a red and white one. I promise you that we only brainwash her with Maize and Blue, and old English D's...everything else is her own to decide. NAturally, she's been asleep for hours before Edmonton games air, and Dad watches the Red Wings at home. At some point this beautiful little girl was trying on the winged wheel for kicks.

Zedder-berg 1

We settled in on the couch, tuned the television in to CBC, and got busy watching a Wings game without the embarrassing awfulness that is typically FOX Sports Detroit"s Red Wings commentators (nausea). Sometime in the first period Zoey turned to me and said, "Daddy, I never saw you play hockey did I?"

"Nope," I answered.

"I wish I did see you be a goalie. I wish I saw you and Uncle B play this hockey game. I'd be SO proud."

So it looks like Dad will be playing hockey again next winter. I'd become a damn figure skater if it made this little girl as wide eyed proud as she was tonight imagining her Dad playing hockey. In the meantime, this is all she gets...

Goons 2

Look at that smile! I'd wear a damn Calgary Flames jersey if it inspired that kind of unfettered joy. Oh, the good old hockey game, it's the best game ever played...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Two Run Home Runs Are Great Distractions


This guy can occasionally help you forget about troublesome things. I'm always amazed at how Brandon Inge always manages to get his hits...ahem, his few big moments. His two run home-run in the 5th inning tonight was one that had me jump up in my seat, which in turn, made me lose the ice pack on my knee, which then spilled water all over the floor, which I then had to get up, find my crutches, and hobble to the kitchen for something to clean up my mess, which hurt...but I didn't mind.

3-1 Tigers.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's Common Knowledge That Three Year Olds Make the Best Photojournalists

Zed Chuck photo

I went digging through my phone and found this pic, snapped by Zed, and nearly choked on my coffee. A picture of her shoe? Surely I was rendered impressed by the blue Chucks, pink polka-dot socks, and pajama bottoms, but perhaps more so by my daughters curious photography skills. I don't remember where we were, but I suspect this photo was snapped at the bank. I don't understand why Zed was in her pajamas in what appears to be full daylight either. All I know is that three year olds with cell phone cameras are dangerously funny. A photo of her shoe? And that's no accidental shoe was placed there on the edge of the seat for framing. That was an intentional shot...but of a shoe? Yes, a shoe.

If you want to have some fun, give your toddler a camera and then have a peek at what he or she chooses to snap photos of. You'll gain a new insight into the mind of your child. I just did. Apparently Zo is awfully proud of her blue shoes...and very adept at waiting for the auto focus to work.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Zed Dentist before after

Zed tackled her very first trip to the dentist's office today, and knocked the experience out of the park. She was happy, totally co-operative, curious, and an all around general Dental Hygienist favorite which made us SO proud.

Dental dam...No problem

New friend and all kinds of sterile medical looking doohickeys...Whatever

People sticking their fingers in her mouth and scraping away at teeth...Easy Peasy

Zo Brittany

It was the easiest trip to the dentist in the history of modern dentistry. Zo made a stellar new friend in Brittany, the hygienist, and she scored all kinds of treats and prizes for being so good...a new ring, and a butterfly hair beret...and Mom and Dad felt a gentle sigh of relief that one of the bigger moments of toddlerhood was tackled with aplomb.

Have I mentioned that we're the luckiest people alive before?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Curious Girl Cover 1

It's not unusual for me to have seventeen projects at once. It's probably not all that unusual for anyone to have seventeen projects going all at once, but mine are most typically not tend to the garden, or clean out the closets, and fall more into the category of frighteningly demanding, at least from a creative perspective. Books for your daughter don't just make themselves do they?

On top of The Mustachioed Boy there is now this little distraction...literally born on the couch, on my lap, with elevated and swollen knee throbbing just inches away. The book's cover (shown above in rough form) and story all fell together in a matter of a few hours, while Zo played with her dinosaurs beside me. It's been the easiest manifestation of my mind's meandering that I've ever stumbled into. It just kind of wrote itself, and the artwork, at least it's earliest concoctions, just kind of came to me. Maybe it was the ibuprofen, or maybe just critical mass, but either way, this the closest I've ever come to BLURBing out my nonsensical ideas into the form of something that might rest on your bookcase (if we're friends). I still kind of can't believe it.

I may be seeking test opinions...and graphic design help, but here and now I'm impressively far along, and I only had to hurt myself to do it. At this point the crutches might be worth it.

So what's the story morning glory?

It was initially inspired by Zoey's unshakable loathing of boys and then fell together pretty organically after that...a look in my head...a sketch...a title and some mixed red balloon to balance out the cover illustration that eventually became a central part of the story...etc...etc... It's been fun. As frustrating as being half a cripple can be, it may very well have given birth to the first idea to actually become more than just that.

The universe throws some serious curve balls sometimes.

Knee Rehabilitation Thursday Links...The Second Best Kind

After a story about our old swimming hole and tree from when we were kids, Zoey was eager to see a picture. Of course, we didn't have one but in my search for a Google image to give Zed something of an idea, I stumbled into the art of Jason Stillman and this painting. It's stellar, and now I have to own it. Crossing my fingers that Jason gets back to me. Oddly enough, the painting is seen on the wall during the Modern Family opening credits. Now I REALLY need to own a copy.

Great story about exiled Black Panther Pete O'Neal in Tanzania...even better photo gallery.

Uhmm, kind of awesome if you're into such things.

If I won the lottery. I'd build this narrow beauty on Neptune Lane in Encinitas. Love it.

Finally, someone who loves cardboard as much as I do. Caine is the coolest kid ever.

Some people have it figured Nate. I think I like Nate a lot.

This America doesn't seem possible.

Ever hear of Slab City? It doesn't sound too appealing, but it does sound wildly interesting...a living, breathing simultaneous social statement and experiment. Here's a great photo essay by Clare Martin.

This made me laugh out loud.

I dig myself some hot dogs but this just sounds gross.

It's true. Rich people suck.

I used to have no opinion about UM's Mary Sue I do.

The Santa Monica ferris of my favorite places on the planet.

The Wonder of Where's Waldo?

Gramma Zoey - Wheres Waldo
Clandestine Macbook Photobooth pic of Zed and Gramma at the beginning of a "Where's Waldo" marathon

As I lay in a pile on the couch, with the Spring sun shining in on me and my ice packed right knee (sick day), Zoey and Gramma are sitting seven feet away reading Where's Waldo books and making me smile. My morning routine of rest, ice, and elevation gave Zed ample opportunity to sit and play beside me on the couch...with dinosaurs who regularly stuck their noses in my ears and nose looking for meals of wax and boogers. I thanks my lucky stars for good hygiene and a poor haul for those hungry dinosaurs. It's something of a nice treat to sit and soak up Spring sunshine with these girls. It's something more of a treat to watch them interact together. There's a casual, easy and unhurried education happening here...numbers and letters and grammar and manners...all kinds of colors and sketching and building and singing and marathon Where's Waldo sessions. It's sweet, and encouraging and a nice way to spend the day swollen and sore, but happy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Guy, A Girl...An Airplane...and an Adoring Niece.

Mere and Ian - Red Lake 2011

There are pictures to post...Chicago pictures...Easter pictures...but first there's the matter of Uncle Ian leaving for Red Lake tomorrow. It's another summer of flying fisherman into false glory...building flight hours...and seeing the girl that he wants to see every day, well, every day. Zoey is going to miss her Uncle Ian. She got terribly spoiled over the past six months.

Following dinner tonight she abruptly made her feelings known. "I love Uncle Ian, she said, "I'm going to miss him."

Tears from Mummy...smiles from Daddy...cursing the universe that she never mustered the wherewithal to say such a thing in front of her Uncle Ian. Someone likes her Uncle an awful lot. She won't be the only one missing Uncle Ian.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy a Non-Denominational, Chicago Instead of Church Kind of Way

June Zo Easter Pic

Instead of church we went to Chicago on Easter. To be fair, we've never been to church, and Chicago seems way more our Easter Sunday kind of style. It's all about eggs, pastels, sunshine, and bunnies in this household. Zo still refers to Jesus as "cheese" which I have to admit is pretty funny. We're good people. We believe in a greater could be "the Force" for all we know. The one thing that we're certain of is that there's Godliness in playing with your children in Millenium Park on a beautiful Easter Sunday, and that's just about all that really matters isn't it?

Friday, April 6, 2012

In Chicago...

Chi sky

We're in Chicago, so we'll see you on Monday. We're going to the Zoo...Wrigley (despite South Side protests)...and whatever else tickles our fancy. Oh, and I promise to never use the phrase "tickles our fancy" ever again.

Adios beloved muchachos. That's Mexican for good-bye beloved muchachos.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Opening Day 2012...Responsibility Wins


There was a time when I wouldn't have missed Opening Day for a billion dollars, and now I do...consistently. It's not that I don't have the choice to go, because I do, and for two years in a row I've chosen work over play. I suppose if work didn't revolve rather tightly around the lives of other people it wouldn't have been such a tormentful (did I just make that word up?) decision, but the truth of the matter is that if I go to a baseball game today, when I should be working, someone gets forgotten about. I don't want to do that. Of course, I also don't want to be drinking beer at 8am on a Thursday anymore either, so maybe it's a little more than just a commitment to the people that I work with.

The last Opening Day I went to, two years ago, I spent far too much money, got far too deep into the dangerous side of many beers, and finished the day having missed most of the ball game. Not really my style anymore. It might never really have been but I did it anyway. Today will start with coffee, then fill up with people, and hopefully creep along gently. With luck it will end with a slight whimper, and I'll sneak away to catch the last few innings of a game I used to never miss. There's the potential to be a really great day, regardless of where I'm, school. road...I know that I won't be drinking at 8am, and that whatever money is in my pocket should probably stay in my pocket barring incident. Wow, that sounds...responsible, which makes me smile. THere are worse sounding things.

Eat 'em up Tigers.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why Do I Give a Sh!% About the New York Knicks?

I watch a film and I get giddy...a good film, but I suppose that's all about context and perspective...but I watch a good film and I can't stop smiling. I can't help but get a little twisted around in the plot and characters, not unlike a good book. It makes me wonder aloud, "why do I give a sh!% about the New York Knicks...or the Los Angeles Lakers...or, well, let's not get too carried away. I'll always give a sh!% about the Los Angeles Lakers. Strangely enough, a good movie reminds me that I don't care about much more than a good story. It reminds me that I need more escapism and indulgence, and that my imagination is a universe almost entirely unexplored.

I was once asked, somewhat incredulously, by what we believed to be a cheap Hells Kitchen palm reader, why I was doing what I was doing when I could have so much more of an impact writing about the things that I know and believe in, and understand. Why did I work so hard to change lives one at a time when I could write and if I was lucky change thousands on lives at a time? I didn't have an answer, especially because I thought she was half nuts, and because you're not supposed to believe in palm readers because that makes me you dangerously crazy, and even more dangerously naive. Perhaps I'm reminded of her truth, however, in the dizzyness of a film, or the disorientation that a good story can inspire. Why do I give two sh!%s about the New York Knicks when "Midnight in Paris can make me light up like a child? Maybe she's right. Maybe it's more noble to inspire others to help themselves than help them yourself. That in itself is a big part of what I do. I help people help themselves, by giving them truth and faith and trust and time...I don't know if that translates to paper, and en masse.

I think I need to spend more time cultivating whatever garden of creativity and inspiration is inside of me, and less time paying half-attention to Madison Square Garden. I don't remember the last time that the Knicks made me light up, but tonight, after watching a fun and boldly imaginative movie I'm going to fall asleep smiling. Sometimes the simple truths are the hardest ones to understand...and sometimes palm readers aren't so #$%king crazy maybe?

The Pounding of My Little Heart...

You wouldn't think that a little girl's pounding heart could make my own nearly burst but it could.

Tonight after her Dad put her to sleep with a countless number of books that included, in order, Peter Pan and Wendy... Where the Wild Things Are... How to Catch a Heffalump... and assorted poems and stories from Where the Sidewalk Ends, a soundly sleeping little bundle of hugs and hope fell asleep peacefully. She woke almost exactly an hour later in a sweat, trembling from a dream, her little heart absolutely pounding from beneath her ribs. I could feel it distinctly with my hand as it rested on her heaving chest. I felt as though it might burst from her pajamas at any time. She cried and cried about the picture she had drawn that was bad, and scary, and how she couldn't find her Daddy to help. I talked to her, reassured her, and then rocked her back to sleep, but I won't quickly forget that fast beating heart, and the way it felt under my hand.

Sometimes this Daddy business is hard.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Yes, That is a Jeff Ament Button on Zoey's Jacket...

Zoey Denim with Buttons

Zoey likes Pearl Jam. Who doesn't? No one I want to know...Zoey either it seems. Yes, that's a Jeff Ament Pearl Jam button on Zo's denim jacket...right next to the hilarious I ♥ Midwives button. It just so happens that Jeff Ament is Dad's favorite too.

If you ask her who's on her button she'll tell you with confidence, "Jeff," and then for good measure, and to be perfectly clear, she'll add, "he plays bass.

Daddy couldn't be any more proud. I do feel bad for the boys tempted to woo this little girl though. Jeff Ament's a tough guy to top.

Girls Gone to a Baby Shower + Daddy All Alone = Brand New Art Station For Zed

Zed at New Art Station

Daddy built an art station in the living room. It's terribly artsy with just a dash of fartsy, and it's all Zed's. It's a combination of a couple of Ikea Expedit end tables, a $5 chair from Goodwill, a cheap Ikea lamp, an old suitcase, and a bunch of etc...

Not too shabby for a guy who started the day with no intention of building anything. Happy Sunday Zed. This is what happens when you leave Daddy all alone for a day.

Baby Showers Are For Girls...

Zo balloons and lollipops - Serree's Baby Shower

It was a girls-only day today. Zo and June headed to London and Aunt Serree's baby shower while Dad lingered at home and did, well, home stuff. Serree is due in mid-May, and so the traditional baby shower was imminent. It was Zed's first, and she was SO excited to go. Of course, she had a lot of fun. She also managed to be something of a hit herself, and really dove into the day with both feet.

Ribbons Bows Zo

June's never been much of a shower girl, so much so that she didn't have one when we were married. She didn't have one before Zoey was born, and she only enjoys other people's based on a pretty tricky sliding scale of how much she loves that person. In this particular case, Serree, she was more than happy to go and shower it up with one of her favorite people on the planet. It seems Zo was too.

Zed Serree Baby Shower

As always, Zed was her usual helpful self...translation = gift ripper opener girl. Of course her odd obsession with greeting cards was also on full display. We have no explanation for it, but she's always just kind of been really interested in checking out the cards that come with gifts. It's a nice little habit that we probably inspired at some point, but that we never meant to turn into such a staggeringly polite little convention.