3/31/13

Easter . . .

The Easter Bunny ate these. No really, he DID.
Today is Easter (you're surprised? Really?) and this presents an interesting conundrum for me.

 As I continue my Jewish conversion, I will continue to move my "old" Christian life (beliefs, traditions, etc.) more and more to the background except where my daughter and family is/are involved. 

My daughter's mother and I have decided that - at least for the foreseeable future (when she hits a certain point we'll let her decide if she wants to pick a(ny) religion or faith) - we'll raise her to be a Judeo-Christian. 

Basically she'll celebrate any/all holidays and learn about the customs and traditions associated with each and will enjoy the food, candy, treats, and gifts that go with each/every/all. 

To add a twist, I'm going to be a practicing/observant Reform Jew and Ava's mother will be an agnostic-type Christian. More potential for confusion in the simplicity of doing the best we can to parent in a family that continues to find more and more ways to be divided. 

The moral of the story, at least for this morning, is that this holiday (if you are so inclined) is all about renewal, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Not a bad reason to stash some candy and gifts around the house and share a meal with your child and her mother/your former spouse. 

3/30/13

Musical Favorites . . .

Another great reader submission (paraphrased):

Sean - 

You have great taste in music and even with your balding head and current employment status I find you highly desirable and would very much like to spend the rest of my life with you. We could sit on a couch, gently hold hands, talk about politics and narrative non-fiction, and enjoy the peace and comfort that only lasting love can provide. I'd also like to eat egg whites for breakfast, hummus for lunch, and fat free pizza rolls for dinner every night and maybe lay-it-down and turn-it-around three or four times a week with you, too. Let me know about all of the above but, perhaps most directly, what are your all time favorite musical acts/artists. Maybe choose one or two folks you like for a handful of genres. 


Sincerely,
Name Withheld

Well, name . . . I'll never (yes, I said NEVER) remarry and while I enjoy the lay-down, the turn-it-around part is not something I'm currently angling for. That's two strikes and . . . sadly . . . there is no such thing (curse you, Totino's) as the fat free pizza roll so let's just stick to the music. In no particular order - a few genres I really enjoy and my five favorite ambassadors of each . . .

RAP/HIP-HOP
Shaun Carter (aka Jay-Z)
The Roots
Mos Def
Missy Elliott
De La Soul

POP 
Celine Dion (I don't care, laugh. Judge. Throw things. My heart will go on . . . (see what I did there?))
Elton John
Coldplay
Paula Cole
Barenaked Ladies

CLASSICAL
James Galway
Philip Glass
Yo-Yo Ma
Gustavo Dudamel (a conductor but he, like all the greats, makes the music even better)
Olafur Arnalds

OPERA
Puccini
Renee Fleming
Marilyn Horne (mezzo, friends)
Verdi
Placido Domingo

R&B
Maxwell
Roberta Flack
Prince
Stevie Wonder
Lauryn Hill/The Fugees

SINGER/SONGWRITER
Eva Cassidy
John Mayer
The Civil Wars
Tracy Chapman
Loudon Wainwright III

MIDDLE-AGED GREATNESS
Paul Simon
The Weepies
Billy Joel
Joni Mitchell
David Gray

ROCK (IN ALL ITS MANY FORMS)
Ben Folds (Five)
The Rolling Stones
The Grateful Dead (JUST started listening to them . . . wish I started 20 years ago)
The Beatles
Smashing Pumpkins

Lastly - while you did not ask - I wanted to share my MUSICAL OBSESSION OF THE MOMENT! Can't wait for the entire album but this song is strong, strong, strong.

3/29/13

Odd Question . . .

Another submission from the "Reader Suggested Post" entries for your reading enjoyment/horror today. Here was the question . . .

"What is the weirdest thing you've ever been asked for?"

Thanks for asking, reader. I have several dozen answers to this question because "weird" is entirely subjective and even my own subjective definition of it has changed over the years. When I was four, someone asking me for their orange crayon was considered a near affront to my very person but, by 32 years on, I can discover my then-wife's lover's identity via Twitter and go "Eh, that's life." so I'll tell you the following (entirely true) things that struck me as odd in their moment:


  1. My college Priest left me a phone message in my dorm asking to borrow a pair of briefs (as in underpants) and a belt. In two, separate, doses.
  2. I was once asked to sell Girl Scout cookies. From the trunk of a car. And they were not "quite" Girl Scout cookies. For 50% of profit.
  3. Was asked what the proof of Bacardi 151 was. By a bartender, who was pouring drinks containing Bacardi 151. 
  4. Had a (presumed) homeless guy ask me to get him a cell phone with data plan on the streets of New York City.
  5. A former boss asked me to bring him chicken soup, at home, while he was sick. At my own expense. And then he complained over how long it took. And that I had no crackers (specifically oysters) when I arrived.
  6. Was asked if I had any Irish in me. At 2:30 AM. On March 18th. By a guy's wife who was thumbing at her husband as my option for "a little more in me" (the logical and horrifying punchline).
  7. I had a kid in high school ask me to take the SATs for him. 
  8. Was asked for directions, in French, on the streets of Paris. 
  9. $1,000 for a friend to get off his drug dealer/bookie's "kill" list (allegedly). 
  10. The aforementioned orange crayon. Seriously. The NERVE. (It's cool, I nearly pulled her pigtails off later that day).

And now I'll tell you THIS story which I am pretty sure, my life plotted on a graph and/or viewed from 30,000 feet above, is the most OBJECTIVELY weird thing I've ever been asked for.

I got a text message one night, in the early-Spring (probably right around this time) of 2002 (and this was before everyone just automatically texted all the time so it was memorable . . . and she would have had to hit the keys multiple times for each letter so it must have taken moments to compose) from a friend that said (paraphrased):

Will you knock me up? Just need a sample - you won't need to be a dad. Yes. I sent this to Sean Amore. Yes. I am serious.

I texted back:

Sorry. Am morally opposed to just fathering a kid w/out the responsibilities or rewards that would come from it. 

We never really hung out again. I called her and e-mailed several more times. Tried to maintain the friendship. My heart went out to her. She was a beautiful woman, a wonderful soul, and a great friend. And she wanted to share all that with a child. I presume she never answered my calls, texts, or e-mails after that because she was embarrassed or angry OR for fear that I would share "our" secret with the world (surprise, lady . . . 11 years and with anonymity later) and perhaps mock her for it but I've only ever told a few people - none of whom know her and I've never made fun.

It was a WEIRD request but it was not a crazy one. Nothing funny about it. No need to mock or dismiss. Certainly no reason to be flippant. And it bummed me out that our friendship had to end over it/my response. I made a mental note that night to never again just text back when someone digitally asked for me to put a baby up in them (and she DID mean the "old fashioned way" on that, right?). Coulda' lost my virginity that night. Coulda' been special. I digress.

And by the way, dear reader, feel free to TRY and top it. I'm hard to shock and horribly agreeable these days.

3/28/13

Everybody Wants to Kill Bruce Willis . . .

No time/focus for a real blog post today (I really DO spend a good chunk of the "working day" job hunting and today I've got four submissions to get out the door) so - here - enjoy what amused me a little earlier this fine, fine morning.

3/27/13

Gay Marriage . . .

I was just scrolling through Facebook (I am so self-involved I rarely even click over to my "stream" to see what people are saying/doing/liking) and I was sort of amazed at all the red square, pink "equal" sign avatars.

In a good way. A very good way. My friend (who, I will happily admit I think is super bright, very funny, and has two of the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen . . . and in a SET, no less) Laura had a post applauding people for their engagement in the "turning Facebook red" (my words, not hers) campaign and sort of chiding the people who dismissed the effort as a waste since the Supreme Court RARELY factors "likes" in to its decisions (for those NOT fully awake or fully out from under a rock the effort is focused around the Supreme Court's BIG week looking at marriage (gay or otherwise)).

I saw a bunch of people had commented on/liked the post and I was sort of perturbed that I could not readily identify people because they all had the same avatar.

THEN I got it . . . we're all the same. We all have the same basic makeup, composition, and outward image when it comes to love and marriage. We all deserve it. We should all have a chance to do it and do it right. We will be better when we stop seeing orientation as a factor to "make" or "break" love as a valid thing.

I hope the Supreme Court agrees and sets a standard that allows marriage to be about love, not the disparate genders of the participants.

3/26/13

Second Seder . . .

The "seder" (ordered arrangement) is the traditional meal that welcomes Pesach (Passover) in to a Jewish home. Traditionally eaten on the 14th day of Nisan (1st night of Passover) and also often consumed on the second night of Passover (15th of Nisan) by observant Jews living outside of Israel, the meal is a chance for overeating, celebration, tradition, and honoring the brave Jews that escaped Egyptian slavery and walked back to Israel to reclaim the homeland.

It is worth pointing out that you do NOT have to be Jewish to have a Seder. MANY Christians have them as there are roots of Christianity in The Exodus.

Here are my ten favorite tidbits to consider as you sit down for your Seder.

  1. Preparing Your Home. There is a tradition to welcoming Pesach in to your home that involves the removal of all leavened grain Ior even the remnants and residue of it) from the home. DEEP cleaning, depending on how strong your is not all that different from the American custom of "spring cleaning." Coincidence? Probably not. Additionally, some grocers will even remove all products from their stores and, in rare cases, even "deed" over their owner for the duration of Pesach to honor the mandates of the festival. 
  2. Grocery Shopping. Very few American Jews (3% according to one thing I read) live a fully Kashrut life (I know ONE, personally) but many more will eat as Kosher as possible during holidays and festivals. The Seder is a big one for consideration. Many Jews will want to either buy or make a handful of common Seder dishes including matzah (see below), gefilte fish, and lotsa' wine
  3. Second Seder. If you live in Israel you can have a Seder at sundown on the 14th of Nisan. If you live anywhere else in the world, you can have issues with the clock and the sun and making sure you honor the day the right way. For this reason, the "Second Seder" is marked by Jews outside of Israel. It is also likely common because many Jews have two families to enjoy a Seder with and/or they will have a FAMILY Seder on the first night and a communal (with their congregation, friends, etc.) the second night. Either way - it is good form to have at LEAST two Seders.
  4. Haggadah. The Haggadah is, for lack of a better way to explain, a companion book for a Seder. While the first printed version is dated 1478, there are no "rules" to the Haggadah (for a hilarious and off-color language strewn overview for making your own, click here). The key is to incorporate songs, prayers, traditions, and customs to make the festival your own and to guide the story of The Exodus in a personal way. Not feeling creative? Get tips and advice on a Haggadah here OR stop by a grocery store and grab a free Maxwell House Haggadah in the Kosher food section. This is the one I bought for my first set of Seders. 
  5. Six Foods. While there is a lot of freedom and leeway to the Seder there are six foods that should (must?) be present. They are i) bitter herbs represent the sour taste of slavery ii) Charoset is a brown mixture of sweet foods that represent the mortar the slaves used to build Egypt iii) Karpas is a vegetable (not another bitter herb) dipped in salt water that represents the pain of the Jewish slaves (the salt wash is the pain, the vegetable is the free version of the person) iv) Z'roa is the only meat on the Seder plate and it is generally a shank bone to represent the lamb that gave its blood for The Passover v) Beitzah is an egg that symbolizes mourning the dead (a roasted egg is also commonly the first food served to a person mourning the loss of a loved one vi) Chazret is another, less-bitter herb (lettuce or carrots) to remind participants of their slavery ties. 
  6. Matzah. The most commonly known Seder foot, matzah is unleavened bread that is consumed throughout the festival but is also present at a Seder. Each person is given three pieces and they are wrapped and separated before the meal is served. Each person breaks their third matzah and "hides" it to then be "found" and consumed as the last bite of a Seder. 
  7. Four Sons. While Moses is not mentioned by name in the traditional Haggadah, there are four sons detailed in the prose. Three of them are wise, wicked, and simple and the fourth - perhaps my favorite - is thought of as pitiful. He is pitied not because he is the youngest or because he is naive but more because he doesn't know enough of or value his faith enough to ask questions to grow and advance. Don't be the fourth son. 
  8. Five Cups. While there is open opportunity for the consumption of MUCH wine (grape juice for the sober folk and minors) during a Seder, there is a mandate for at least five cups of wine and the consumption of four. The five cups represent G-d's love in being i) freed from Egypt ii) delivered back to Israel iii) redeemed in his glory and iv) taken to your people. The fifth cup is thought to be left for Elijah (the not-yet-(t)here savoir). One of my favorite customs, however, is to have the fifth cup passed around prior to the consumption of each of the other four cups so each dinner attendee can pour a tiny bit (with their hopes and dreams) in to the cup and then it will make a final trip around the table at the end of the meal where all particpants will drink some of the contents as a way to carry those hopes and dreams, as a community, out with them. Beautiful, yes? 
  9. Customs. There are, as illustrated here, no real rules to a Seder but the key is to make it your own. A few of my favorite traditions/customary customs include leaving the doors and windows (weather permitting) open during a Seder to show there is nothing to hide (it was once rumored matzah was made with Christian blood, for instance), leaving a seat at the table empty for dead loved ones, allowing children to find all the hidden matzah, adding secular loves in to the mix (a friend of mine from Boston will include the reading of the starting line-up of the Boston Red Sox in his family Seder, a friend from my DC days would play Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All" during her family meal). I'll go later this week to a Seder that is being organized/hosted by a good friend where she will be the ONLY (official) Jew at the table. But there will be about 10 of us all told. Make a Seder your own and keep it special. 
  10. Personalizing Your Feast. You can add foods to your Seder plate and to your meal. One of my FAVORITE "common" modifications is to add an orange to the Seder plate. Why? Because a prominent female Jewish-scholar (Susannah Heschel) was once told that a woman in Jewish leadership was as appropriate as an orange on the Seder plate. So she slapped one on at her next Seder and the tradition has caught on. Many also believe the orange has come to symbolize all inclusion in the Jewish faith (women, gays, etc.) and many also believe an orange is important because it contains its own seeds and future. 
Chag Sameach, yuns.

3/25/13

Pesach . . .

When the sun sets this evening (around 7:44 PM CT, for those playing along at home) it will officially be Pesach (pey-SAHKH) or "Passover." Perhaps more commonly known as The Exodus (all caps to show respect), it is a week long acknowledgement of the Jews leaving Egypt after generations of slavery.

You know what that means? Yep. It is time, once again, for me to drop some seriously freshman level of trivia-type knowledge on a Jewish holiday/tradition.

Here are the 10 things I find most interesting about Passover:


  1. Moses. Despite not appearing in the traditional Haggadah by name (he is not the hero of the story, technically) there is much focus on his life and actions during the holiday.
  2. The Midwives. Perhaps the FIRST heroes of The Exodus were the midwives. The Egyptians, because of the part of Egypt where the Jewish slaves were held (in the north east, where an invading enemy would likely enter the country - perhaps allowing them to add the Jewish slaves to their forces and take Egypt) and the growing Jewish population ordered the midwives to kill any male, Jewish newborn. They refused. The first act of defiance. And an important one.
  3. The Plagues. For the first few thousand years of captivity there was no real mention (at least that I've been told of) of the Jews considering getting out of servitude. Many believe the plagues were not just threats against Egypt to allow the emancipation but were also signs to the Jews themselves that their G-d was powerful enough to do great things for them, if they would only follow and join him. 
  4. The Plagues (Part II). Were, in order, i) The Nile running with blood ii) raining frogs iii) lice/gnats everywhere iv) flies and wild animals everywhere v) pestilence (rampant spread of disease), vi) boils (you guessed it, everywhere) vii) hail (so heavy it hurt the head) viii) locusts ix) darkness and x) death of the firstborn.
  5. Lamb's Blood. A decree was passed that all Jewish men would put lamb's blood over the doors of their homes to prevent the death of their first born and to protect the home from the Jewish G-d's wrath. There is a scholarly dispute over whether the first born children in all Egyptian homes were actually killed or if G-d just hovered over those homes and made them realize his power. Either way - that was the last plague needed. Shortly after, the Jews heading back to Israel. 
  6. Freedom. There is little attention paid (by outsiders) to the liberation aspect of Passover. One place where the parallel is not lost? The White House. The Obama family reads the Emancipation Proclamation as part of their Seder Haggadah. 
  7. Matzah. The Jews left Egypt in such a hurry, according to legend, they did not have time for their bread dough to rise. That is why we go without leavened bread (and many other grains and legumes depending on your own customs) for the duration of Passover.
  8. Long Walk. Depending on which account you read, the Jews spent between 35 and 45 years (conventional wisdom seems to be 38 - 40 years) walking through the desert. The desert. Hot, sandy, arid desert. Children. Young. Old. Men. Women. For DECADES. Imagine that for a minute. People didn't live then as long as they live now. People spent their entire life span walking. Day after day. For their freedom and the freedom of their children and their children. Still feel bad that Jews give up leavened bread for a week? 
  9. Red Sea. This was THE SHOW OF SHOWS, no doubt. Moses slams his staff against the beach and a sea parts? And the Jews go through and the Egyptian persuers are drowned? Sure. A big stretch for skeptics and cynics but they had to cross somehow and the hunt ended on that beach. I'd be that jerk walking through a split sea poking the walls of water and complaining about how being around water always makes me have to pee. 
  10. Seder. A traditional meal that has been re-imagined and re-constituted a million ways where Jews gather around a table and retell the story of Pesach and eat six symbolic foods (among others) and honor those that came before them and what they did that we may have our freedom. 

Tomorrow's post? More on number ten, above, The Seder. In the meantime, Chag Sameach (KHAGH say-MEH-ahk) or "Joyous Festival," yuns.

3/24/13

Non-Alcoholic Wines . . .

From the reader mail bag . . .

Sean -

Great blog. I obsess over your every post and hang on your every word. Your thoughts are progressive, endearing, and stimulating. I'd like to give you a baby. In the meantime, What your thoughts are on non-alcoholic wines? Let me know about the baby. I'll swing by a hospital and snag one up.

- Reader with Large Bazooms

Ah. Readers. You are certainly clever, smart, funny, and appreciated. But, uh, Bazooms . . . please don't steal other people's children (for me or anyone) and please know that no one is calling them "bazooms" these days. And by these days, I mean recorded time. In the meantime . . . let's talk fake booze.

Hate it. Plain. And. Simple. I don't get why it exists. Truly. I'm a firm believer that things should either be or not be. To take the booze out of booze is absurd. And I know what you're saying (Bazooms) - "I'm pregnant and still want to go out and have fun with my friends, husband, and his mistress." Two words - ice water. You put a baby inside you. You signed on for a life time of sacrifice. If you can't go nine months without feeling "cool" with a wine, martini, beer, or shot glass (and when DO we get alcohol free vodka on the market?) in your hand . . . you're going to be a miserable, resentful parent. I promise you.

And I hear you, Husband of Bazooms, you are a recovering alcoholic and you still want to socialize with family, friends, and your mistress without feeling like an outsider. No. No you do not. You want to flirt with disaster. You should swing by a gas station and get one of those one gallon things with the bendable straw and fill it with Diet Mountain Dew and then have them melt the seal on the lid closed so you look like you belong ANYWHERE but in a bar or around booze. Because you don't. One day at a time, fella. One day at a time.

And here's the thing . . . booze even in its purest and most intended form is nothing but empty calories and bad decision planters. No one has ever gotten drunk and solved a problem. No one has ever taken down a twelve pack or two and curing cancer. No romantic relationship has ever come out of a blackout a better thing/place/couple. There is nothing to miss in not drinking. I can no longer have modified sugars. I get the loss. I have the occasional sugar free confection. I am not a hypocrite . . . I am MAKING MY POINT . . . there is NOTHING for me in a sugar free cookie or scoop of ice cream except a sugar alcohol-induced squirt poop and/or self loathing.

I say we round up all the alcohol free beer and wine in the world and put it at Hartman Arena . . . better make it the AstroDome (yes, I know it is no longer there) and we send out a massive invite for EVERY Facebook user to come to the party. Open bar. Bowls of peanuts and popcorn and pretzels for all. 21 or over, please. And when they show up we let them all in. We lock the doors. We have a moderator step on stage with a microphone and we turn it in to an AA/preggo woman meeting and we group hug it out. Then all go get some sugar free Oreos and crap our collective pants.

Bazooms, you are an appreciated reader. But "do" or "do not" - there is no "try" in alcohol.

3/23/13

Scientology . . .

As the (somewhat) rare overlap of the Judeo-Christian "holy weeks" (Passover for The Tribe, The Palm Sunday - Easter stretch for the "saved") begins tomorrow/Monday, I wanted to answer another reader post suggestion and share my deepest feelings on Scientology.

I know, I know. DANGEROUS subject, right? The lawyers, and B-list celebrities will come after me if I dare say nuttin' bad about no religion that is based on the companion writing for a a science fiction novel. (If that is even really what it is based on . . . more about that later). But I'm not scared because, and this might actually shock some of you, I have NO problem with Scientology. That's right - sorry to say it but, like Anonymous (a far scarier group, in my never humble opinion), my ONLY issue with the "church" is the same I have with a bunch of other religions . . . the LEADERSHIP.

Imagine, for a minute, that the organization (insert any religion, government, Fantasy Football league, or boy scout troop) is actually the purest, best, most genuine version of itself. It does exactly what it should - offers a forum and a common place for those who seek what it offers. But now imagine that the leaders (priests/rabbis, CEOs, volunteers, etc.) have their own agendas for what the organization should be? No, silly - it is NOT hard to imagine. It is REALITY. EVERY ORGANIZATION EVER has been influenced, changed, altered, and - 51% or more of the time - lessened because of the human element of leadership.

Do I wonder why people "are" Scientologists? Sure. But I also wonder why my parents are still Catholics. I wonder why my older brother is an Agnostic at best. I wonder why a friend of mine, an avowed Atheist, talks about heaven, God, angels, and hell in weirdly reverent ways. I wonder why the Boy Scouts of America is still even a thing. I can't figure out why ANYONE likes Beyonce. I torment myself trying to figure out why reality television has grown, and grown, and grown. I get perturbed when I ponder that there are people out there that are not part of it but can name EVERY member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan. I shake my head when my mother asks me what I think of the Royal Baby in England. I've been asked 1,576 times why I'm converting to Judaism. Hell, my younger brother took a shot at my via text message just last night.

But I GET why all these things are what they are and have followers and legions and members . . . people want the ORGANIZATION. They want the best part of the ideal and they will ignore the human element and the trappings of it to "belong" - to feel like they are on a journey or a mission. To feel like they are honoring and cleaving to (cleave, by the way - fantastic word . . . it can mean "connecting to" and "separating from" depending only on context) something and, candidly, hoping they will get something back out of it. Be that merit bages, retweets, or eternal salvation/cleanliness.

I've got no real bone to pick with Scientology. I don't really understand it. Other religious faithful I barely "get" include, but are not limited to: Mormons, Jesuits vs. Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Protestants (I kid, I kid) and Pastafarians (but if you want to dig in to an intelligent discussion of religion, I suggest you look no farther than "his noodly appendage).

I'm FINE with Scientologists. I wish they had more comfortable, confident, open leaders. But that is why I left the Catholic Church (how tall ARE the walls around the Vatican). That is why I avoid a lot of other religions - I don't want to learn the machinery. Is Judaism any better? No. You've got four recognized versions of the faith (and a million other variations within/between each faction) and you've got Rabbis who try to steal congregants from other Rabbis.

But I consider myself a Jew more and more every day and I'm fine with that. I'm fine with a Scientologist on level 8 (or whatever) and I'm fine with parents having their sons become Eagle Scouts. I'm fine with gay couples holding hands in a Catholic Church during mass. I'm fine with facing Mecca to pray. Live. Let live. But do that genuinely. Don't let your personal agendas and leadership style interfere with the best, purest form of what an organization can be.

There. My feelings on Scientology. Confused? Me too.

3/22/13

Casual Gaming . . .

My friend Walker suggested I share my thoughts on Casual Gaming with yuns. Here you go, Buhhhday. . .

It was late 1999. I was ass-deep and elbow-high (my elbows hang oddly on my body, don't over think it) with work and graduate school and I had roommates and super morbid obesity to contend with and there was just ONE thing that made it better. . . Ricochet.

Ricochet (I hope I am remembering the name correctly) was (is?) a crude (by today's standards - cutting edge then), browser-based game where you pointed what looked like a straw around a playing screen, tapped the space bar and shot "balls" in to the air with the intent of bundling "balls" of the same color so they would disappear and open up more playing surface. Clear the board? Get a new board. You could play for 30 seconds or 30 days and nothing, good or bad, would ever happen. I would waste ENTIRE work days. HALF of a Saturday. ALL my study time. Whatever worked.

I never felt even vaguely guilty about my Ricochet time. I'm not alone. By an entirely made up University of Nowhere based study, Americans spend an average of 19 hours per day, each, with casual gaming. Sure. We are not all playing Ricochet. Some are playing Bejeweled. Some are playing the Ticket to Ride app (I do too, admittedly). Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, and Farmville (are people still playing that friggin' game?) and some are in casinos, in broad daylight, putting nickels, dimes, hopes, and dreams in to "virtual" versions of their favorite gambles.

I might also argue that Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Ravelry, and LinkedIn are just modified versions of casual gaming. We collect "friends", "likes", "connections", "comments", "RTs" and "favorites" like there is something in it for any of us. And no one is hurt by it. No one loses anything. No one is any worse for the wear. Arguably. The University of Nowhere is still doing the research.

I tell you all this today because, no doubt, many of you have already ANGRILY ripped up your "March Madness" brackets (I know, I took it in the shorts with Long Island University Brooklyn didn't even win their play-in game too. Totes with you.) and you've already told your admin to remove you from the trash-talk e-mails that will continue for the next three weeks . . . with or without you. And no one "loses" anything here either. Except the MILLIONS of hours of work time that will be lost between the first two days of the tournament and the BILLIONS of dollars spent gambling, eating, drinking, and gambling AGAIN during the tournament.

I'm not saying you could do anything better with your $10 (or $1,000) but it should be noted that Ticket to Ride app is only $2.

3/21/13

Kindness . . .

One more reason Pink! has such a huge, loyal fan base.



Have you been kind to anyone yet today? Chop-chop, suckers.

Adoption Help . . .

My friend (and former colleague) Mike Simmon and his wife are in the process of adopting their second son from Ethopia and they need some help.

Want to buy one of these t-shirts and help defer the very high costs of international adoption?

Click HERE for more details on the family and their t-shirt campaign. Good luck, Simmons family.

Winter Playlist . . .

Now that Spring is officially here (the forecasted high in the mid-40s tells me so), I have finalized my Winter 2012/2013 playlist (comprised of all the Songs of the Day (for those that also follow me on Twitter)). Here is last season's (and to clarify - it is soooooooo last season) playlist. Bookmark it. Follow it. Subscribe to it. Share it. Criticize it. But I know you're bobbin' yo' head - cuz' I can see-ya!


3/20/13

Monogrammed Towels . . .

I got some great post suggestions from some loyal readers. I'll sprinkle them over the next few weeks but wanted to tackle my favorite of the RANDOM suggestions first. Here was the assignment . . . Monogrammed Towels.

Let's be clear. I'm FANCY. I like FORMAL and DECORATIVE and color-coded and dantified way more than any other heterosexual man you've never met does. You should see how many pillows are on my bed as we communicate. And I miss Ballard Designs catalogs and Traditional Home magazine way more than I miss a lot of things about my old married life. I digress. So you're probably assuming I am PRO monogrammed towels. Nay. I say nayyyyyy to that presumption.

Let me clear my throat and be succinct (for once).


  1. If you  have your initials stitched in to your towels, you might very well be an assh*le. People are in your home. They know your name. Your spouse's name. Your shared (or hyphenated) last name. They know exactly who pays the water bill for the toilet they flush. You don't need to put your initials on your towels.
  2. There is very in the bathroom little LESS sanitary than a monogrammed towel? What do I mean? Simple. If you get labeled towels you should just got with FM for "Fecal Mist" because that is all that's on those towels. Because everyone that uses the bathroom is indirectly spraying it and no one really USES those "decorative" towels so they never end out on the floor and never get washed, dried, and rehung accordingly. I'll bet there are monogrammed towels in a home inside Wilson Estates right now that have hung exactly as they are for a decade. That's a LOT of FM to monogram itself into terry cloth.
  3. MOST people are "given" monogrammed towels. As a gift. OFTEN they are registered for. If you registered for towels with your initials permanently printed on them . . . WHY? Did you not have enough decency to admit you were out of NEED items and short on WANT items for your wedding/house warming/divorce party? And if you gave them . . . WHY? You were so out of actual ideas or knowledge of someone's wants/needs that you had to say "Well, I know their initials and can wait three or four more days for delivery of my gift . . . that will be used after people use the toilet, sink, or shower/tub in a bathroom." Get em' a toaster oven, y'animal! 
  4. And don't talk to me about those towels that look like penguins you wrap your (grand)kids in that have their full names stitched in to the "beak" of the terry clothed creature. The towels aren't that cute and the name on the beak is the opposite. How many other kids or people in the house do you have that would fight for ownership of the penguin? And why do you need to label your child anyway? I'll bet you don't have the fingerprints and/or a DNA sample of your kid on file for the horrifying "what ifs" but you'll be sure they are properly IDed immediately after bath time.
I can't even type a number five. My head is going to explode. Luckily I squirreled way a copy of House Beautiful the last time I dropped kiddo off at her mother's house. Serenity now! 

3/19/13

Undefeated . . .

As you well know - if there is one thing I love, it is sports (that is sarcasm). One thing I really DO love? Character.

And the documentary "Undefeated" has nothing but character and characters with character.

The focus of the movie is high school football. But, a la the greatest TV show that no one ever watched for some stupid reason . . . CONNIE BRITTON, people (Friday Night Lights), it is not really "about" football at all. Nope. It is about hope, promise, leadership, teamwork, overcoming adversity, and wholesale lumber. Sorta.

I don't want to talk too much about it (I'm horrible at giving away movie endings . . . I was the ONLY person in the summer of 1999 to tell someone "You'll freak out when you learn Bruce Willis was dead the whole time.") but I'll say that the movie will leave you inspired, engaged, and wanting to do something about your own character and the way character is developed in young people. A sample of the genuine joy and love these young men are given . . .

"Football doesn't give you character. It exposes character."
- Coach Bill Courtney

I talk entirely too much about this but my one hope and prayer in this life is to not screw up my kid. I want to  give her a toolbox/bag of tricks that is well equipped, sharp, smart, giving, and joyful. The centerpiece of that ensemble has to be character. Strong, focused character.

I know I can't be the only one to help form it. Certainly her mother is on board and doing a great job. Our larger family. Our friends. Her friends. Their families. She'll have mentors, idols, heroes, coaches, trainers, directors, advisers, etc. I had some. I had great ones. They helped shape my character. And, like with me, you, and everyone else, somewhere in the mix will come the people who aim to knock her down, challenge her position, make her feel "less than" and otherwise obstruct her path. They, too, will give her character. I say bring them on. A full bag of tricks can handle that. Will WELCOME that.

ONE NOTE: If your kids play football . . . always do that thing where you put the helmet through the shoulder pads and carry them to the car for the kids. That seems important.

3/18/13

Emoticons and Text Speak . . .

I have dragged my feet, grumbled, moaned, begged, criticized, publicly outed, and resented those of you that love to use emoticons and "text speak" (aka the absurd, and wildly inconsistent shortening of words to save on keystrokes and screen taps in our "too much of a hurry to actually write out a word" culture). NONE of this has even put a dent in the way I'm constantly bombarded with the crap. On that note - I give. I quit. Unkl (that's Uncle, for all you proud proliferators).

Hencetofore (nope, not a word - but neither is the crap you all type in your communications with me) I'll be using the following in our every exchange. Print and hold this post, I'm blazing a trail people. You can keep your LOL, BRB and ROFL (which none of you have EVER actually done anyway).


  • LMFAO - Lend me four apples or oranges
  • CH9L - Cats have nine lives (something I'd never say drawn out or in shorthand)
  • >:-( - Furrowed brows are a sign of true disappointment 
  • IHTGNYADMN - I have to go now, you are driving me nuts
  • NOFI - I definitely didn't think you'd be THAT offended when I insulted you
  • NSNAP - Sugar Free Apple Pie (I mean, duh!?!)
  • SFW - Sebastian Frederick Wallace (a made up person)
  • CATS - Certain as the sun (rising in the East)
  • :) - You're profoundly unfunny, so I'll rattle off two taps to pretend otherwise
  • LO1 - Take Kellogg to the "Hillside" exit. Head north and take a left hand turn on first street
  • TPFTW - A nude selfy of your chest would be a grand, well-received gesture
  • BAMF - Nightcrawler is teleporting in this Marvel comic I am reading
  • IRLNL - I really love natural light 
  • NSFW - I presume you or your colleagues are uptight and/or utter prudes
  • SB - Wait. Something that a person would do even if you didn't text them to "stand by." Are we trying to save time or creat work here, people?
  • IMTHRST - I could really use a beverage right now
  • 911 - Bring me some hummus. Please? Seriously. Hummus. Now. 
  • DH - Dustin Hoffman
  • ;) - One (or more) of us should be naked by now. 1-2-3, not it. Now TPFTW already
  • HRNE - It's 1978, I make adult films, and I'm in the mood for some sexual activity 


Text ya' later, fools.

3/17/13

Burst Your Bubble . . .

We've had a chance to enjoy some spring-like weather the last few days (admittedly Saturday was not fantastic) and, for my kid, that means BUBBLES.

I'm not sure when/where/how that happened. I think because we have always put a bottle of bubbles in her Easter Basket, maybe?! Regardless (or irregardless as some of you would like to insist it is okay to say) she loves 'em, I have never really understood 'em. I mean . . . I get it. You put some soapy-water mixture and use a device to stretch it out and then gently blow and . . . bubbles.

But there are a few things I don't get. First, I can never get the air pressure just right so I wind out either hyperventilating or freaking out with frustration. Second, when I do figure it out . . . they just get popped. There is nothing lasting about bubbles. You can't have them, hold them, share them, keep them, hold them, or even spend a few seconds with them. Maybe it is the cheapster in me, but even at $1/bottle, I think they are a waste of money (I DO happily buy them for Ava but I always at least try to steer her toward some other option.).

I can't bring myself to like ANYTHING in this world (even something as beautiful as bubbles are) without some basic staying power. That goes for my relationships, commitments, fun, fantasy, toys, distractions, candy (speaking of - check out these AMAZING sugar sculptures I am getting for kiddo's basket this year) or even children's books (I always look at the page count, I can't help it).

I know what you're thinking . . . isn't it better to have something truly beautiful to behold and enjoy, even if it is fleeting? And if the whole point is to pop the bubbles or watch them float away anyway - doesn't that mean even a short life is all the time they/you need? Sure. Sure. But in a world where you can get equally beautiful, equally translucent, equally festive Easter Bunny sculptures that you can have and hold as long as you want and then eat (if you have a stomach that can process modified sugars (I do not)) . . . why settle for JUST bubbles?

3/16/13

Bailey's Shakes . . .

A long, long time ago (13 years) ago in a land far, far away (Hamden, CT and Washington, DC) your blogger was way, way less sober than he is now. I never saw myself an "alcoholic" but I was a classic (in all the wrong ways) Binge Drinker (all caps to show fear/respect). We're talking blackouts, poor decisions, unbecoming words and actions, etc. Bad times. BAD times. If you and I were friends then, I'm sorry and I appreciate your love and support despite my not really deserving it. I still owe Ben Affleck an apology (long story for another post).

The GOOD news is, I cleaned up my act and stopped dipping a toe in the bingeful (sp?) waters. The BETTER news? I still owe Kathryn Casey Lawlor Osborne (she was simply Case-Face to me back then) a woman who WAS a friend of mine then (and still is, I'm honored to say) a favor. In honor of the 13th Step (handing off your booze recipes) and tomorrow's St. Patrick's Day lunacy - I give you my Bailey's Shake recipe. This is a treat I made just one season out of the year (sorta' like the Shamrock Shake at McDonald's it is more a window of time vs. for a specific occasion  and something that people typically enjoyed.

1) Get out your blender and wash out the pitcher. They get dusty really easily, yo. Also - wipe off the blades with a clean, damp cloth. They get gross really easily, yo.
2) Gather the following ingredients . . .

  • 1 gallon of vanilla ice cream (allow to soften for 10 minutes on the counter).
  • 1 standard sized squeezy bottle of chocolate syrup (store band is fine)
  • 1 gallon milk (I actually prefer skim milk for this, much to the dismay of thick shake lovers)
  • 1 BIG bottle of Bailey's Irish Creme. I suggest the Chocolate Mint but you can stick with the standard, to taste. I would suggest against the coffee, caramel, or hazelnut but - as Randy might say "Do your thing, dawg."
  • 1 750ml bottle of cheap vodka (no one will ever taste it either way)
  • 1 750ml bottle of CLEAR Peppermint Creme de Menthe. You can also use a clear Peppermint 
  • Schnapps but the syrup-factor of the Creme is better here. I stress the CLEAR part. The green doesn't color mix well with these other ingredients. 
  • 1 12oz. bottle of Guinness or another dark, stout beer
  • 1 can of whipped creme 
  • 1 chunk of chocolate and a grater and/or chocolate shavings
  • Straws and spoons (1 per person)

3) For each PITCHER you want to make (even if you're drinking alone, go with the pitcher) add the following:

  • 1 1/2 cups ice cream 
  • 1/4 cup chocolate syrup
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup Bailey's
  • 1 cup Creme de Menthe (or Peppermint Schnapps)
  • 1 jigger (a shot glass full or 1.5 oz.) of the stout beer

4) Blend for a full minute. Just let the blender go. People like that sound at a party. Trust me.
5) Pour milkshakes in to the drinking vessels of your choice (I used pint glasses) and add a straw and a spoon to each glass (the shakes will separate a little so you will want to remix them as you go for consistent enjoyment)
6) Enjoy.

There you go. Be safe. Don't drink and drive. Don't drink and text (unless they are inappropriate photos you want to send me (I kid, unless you were gonna' do it)). Don't drink and social media. Blah, blah, blah. Slainte! (Pronounced Slawn-cha and the Gaelic equivalent to "Cheers!")

3/15/13

Once Upon Another Time . . .

If you don't think Sara Bareilles has a phenomenal set of pipes (not a euphemism (for once)) that are far more developed than her years on this earth you and I are not friends (statistically we aren't either way but, still - we are not).

3/14/13

Beautiful . . .

Dear Child-o-Mine -

I wanted to take a quick minute to explain something that may seem basic, and I hope (in a weird way) doesn't seem to be relevant to you. I wanted to talk to you about the word "beautiful." For you see, sweet girl, the word beautiful is a trap - a trap.

No one should "chase" beauty. No one should feel better because someone casually remarks they have it. It should not be something that brings you peace or value. There should not be any part of you that wants to give any part of yourself or your energy to someone because they can whip off a three-syllable compliment while maintaining eye contact.

Conversely the word ugly, when tossed around like so much spring breeze, should never harm you as a stick or a stone might. It should not stick on you, give you pause, or make you feel "less" than you are. Now - if someone who truly knows you tells you that you are ugly . . . we should have a talk immediately. There is a larger problem there. One you need to address.

Your mother and I don't agree on everything but we agreed on one thing when you were still in the womb. We were going to raise you to be a wonderful person. We dreamed of you being loving, having gifts to share, being happy, making a way and life of your own, being strong, confident, a leader (in the right sense of the word) and being fiscally conservative and socially liberal. We never dreamed of your hair color or texture, the pale of your skin, the glow of your eyes, or the roundness of your body. Those things did not matter to us then. They don't matter to us now. They won't matter to us in the future. What does matter is what is inside you. Your character. Your essence. THAT is the part of you that will ensure happiness. THAT is what matters. THAT is who you are. You can be disfigured tomorrow. You could have plastic surgery to recreate your body. Those things would not matter. They are not what will make (or prevent) beauty.

Let me be clear about something - you should HAPPILY accept (demure a little, we raised you better than to be glib) the compliment of being told you are "beautiful" (no reason to be one of those hostile people (another time, another post)) when someone who truly knows you tells you this. You should cherish it. Hold it. Allow it to flush your cheeks, warm your heart, and make you mentally swoon.

For in that word is hopefully, really the validation that you are a combination/all of the things you really want to be like kind, gracious, loving, giving, strong, intelligent, honest, sophisticated, gentle, approachable, well read/versed, appropriately vulgar, generous with your time and smile, accomplished, and with great hair (not that last one). See, kiddo. Beautiful is a trap because it captures so many other things in it. Dig deeper. Be deeper (than your skin).

I love you and your mother loves you. We want you to know that we think you're truly beautiful. In a way that makes us very, very proud.

- Sean-Daddy (Yes. My daughter actually calls me Sean-Daddy.)

3/13/13

Hump Day . . .

In a world of weird things that people say that I'm not okay with and will never understand or accept (there's not enough time or space on all of Google's servers to list them all) the one that has always sorta' plagued me the MOST is "Hump Day."

I get it. Wednesday. Middle of the week. As Miley Cyrus once warbled, we've made The Climb and sometime around mid-day today, we'll start the descent and the "weekend is coming" (so, uh, hang in there baby (cue cat on limb of tree and/or clinging to toilet seat (another thing I loathe - Internet memes like "cats")). I totally get the joke. And it has been "funny" in some weird, unfunny, un-ironic way for a very long time, I might presume. So WHY? Where? When? Whom (if only so we can kick their ass)? Like any of my curiosities and open questions I IMMEDIATELY dismissed it as "not my problem" and "something I'm better than" (I'm kidding, sorta') and then dug a little deeper.

Turns out - there is NO good/logical/sensible/acceptable set of answers to the 5 Ws of "Hump Day." And, as such, I'd like to officially ask all of you to stop saying it. With ironic or genuine intention. Publicly or privately. On t-shirts of Twitter. In social interaction or office settings. Around the office cooler or a pitcher of beer. If you MUST do it, fine. I'll allow it. I'm not going to judge or dismiss you (you Caucasian Cancer, you). I'm not even going to roll my eyes if you use it in front of me (unlike if you say you are "good" if I ask how you are). But I'd simply ask you this . . . if you don't know why you say something and if you don't honestly find it smart, funny, unique, or useful - why are you doing it?

At least wait until Thursday when you can point a knowing finger and pop a knowing wink at any woman eating green M&Ms. Or is that Tuesday? I can't keep all the stupid things people say apart these days.

As you were . . .

3/12/13

Daylight Savings Time . . .

This is my living room in the morning sun (floor to ceiling windows). This
photo does not make do the warm, orange glow of the light "justice."
It usually takes me a few days to really accept the greatness of changing the clocks.

  • The act of moving the clocks ahead - by itself - makes me resent the impending Kansas summer
  • The first few days are some sorta' faux jet-lag crisis for me
  • I am not a morning person. Or an afternoon person. Or an evening person. Or a night person. 

But I eventually (in this case earlier today) see/experience something I have not seen/experienced in a long time . . . when I answered my 7:15 AM alarm (yes, I still get up as though I have to be somewhere by 8:00 AM Monday - Friday) I walked out to the living room to find my little corner of this big blue/green ball FILLED with sunlight. 

I mention this for a simple reason . . . I've been unhappy lately. A wee bit (you can't take away my swagger, yuns). And it has been years and years and years since just seeing sunlight filling a room has made me truly smile. And this morning it did. And I paused to really enjoy it. And I got my kiddo out of bed so she could come enjoy it too (before plunking down on the pictured sofa and complaining that the sun made it heard for her to use a chunk of her daily Roku/Netflix time while sipping her morning chocolate milk). I pointed out that the sunlight beats the television any day. She agreed. But only enough as to not have an actual debate in the 7 AM hour. She's not a morning person either. 

Early morning sun. I have not see that in months. I'm either already started on the day or not paying attention bu now I've got it to look forward to for months to come. HOPEFULLY for just a few, short minutes before running out the door to get to work.

3/11/13

Post Suggestions . . .

I finished 2012/started 2013 with a string of reader suggested posts. I enjoyed it. I've got a lot of random crap on my mind lately (only a fraction of which is appropriate for this forum). I wanted to open myself up for more topics. Coupla' simple rules . . .

1) There are no rules.
2) If you suggest it, I WILL tackle it.

Please send me your thoughts. You can leave them here as "comments," DM or Tweet at me (@seancamore) or even zap me an e-mail (seancamore - at - gmail - dot - com). Cheers.

Landed . . .

I love Ben Folds, as many of you know, and this song has always been in the upper half of his songs that I love. Lately - top nine. Maybe eight.

3/10/13

Iron . . .

Am I the ONLY person that sees this photo and immediately wonders why they don't have an iron or someone with some pride to help these flags and curtains out a little?


(And I wonder why people often presume (and argue) that I'm gay.)

Caucasian Cancer . . .

No. This is not a shot from a dating site but is, instead,
the funniest result I got when I Googled "Funny mug shot."
Not long after I moved out of the house and accepted that my marriage was over, my absolutely absurd and I-am-dubious-she-even-has-any-certifications shrink suggested that I try online dating.

NOT "dating" or "going to a bar to meet someone" or "asking friends to set me up with someone" but online dating. Very specific, yes? And why would she suggest this? Simple, she explained. My brain is overly analytic and yet I am gut-driven. I (and the women of the world) would never survive the process if I were to actually try to just date in the real world. Besides, she continued . . . the point is NOT to find someone and fall deeply in love - the point is to see if my brain can spark an interest in another woman or if I can find any one out there that stimulates me (the essence of me - I have Google for finding things that entice my simpler parts). Did it work? Yes. Candidly, it did.

But it was not easy . . . I found myself poring over 100s of women. NONE of whom had expressed any interest in me. 99.9% of which would not have any interest in me anyway. They were, instead, looking for something totally different than what I was looking for. They wanted love. Or a quick date. Or a hook up. Or a hybrid of the above. They did NOT want to simply be evaluated as part of some homework assignment for an emotionally crippled man. They certainly did not want to be judged. But judge I did, sadly (tis' my way according to a good friend of mine).

NAMES:

  • I loved the names women gave themselves (Ready2Luv46? Could be her age or maybe 45 people before her also HAD to have that name.) Also odd how many corresponded to Twitter handles.
  • No, no. No. You cannot do something flirty like "CurvesToHoldTight" and then talk about how much you love G-d and how you can't stand game playing or men just looking for sex. No. You can't.

DESCRIPTORS: 

  • Weird incorporation of their astrology in to their names and profiles (One headline read "Caucasian Cancer Seeks Frequent Smoker" (I can't make this up!)).
  • If you are 72 years old . . . you should not be trying online dating. Period. Shhh-shh. No explanation needed. Shut down the profile. And take down the selfies of you with your peers. Too much temptation.
  • If you say "no" to "Wants kids" in the bullets, you can't then elaborate down below about your dream to have five children . . . of the two legged variety. (This woman had seven cats. Seven cats. Seven. Cats.)
  • Yeah . . . the "ideal first date" that includes dinner, drinks, dancing, and maybe a concert or the rodeo" - how about coffee? Or lunch? Or any ONE of the above five things?" Want to look complicated and needy? Propose six or seven hours as a first meeting. 

PHOTOS:

  • One woman actually had 31 "selfies" (19 of which were just subtle angle shifts of each other in her own bathroom, with poor lighting, and with the toilet seat up in the background). The other 12 were clearly set up to emphasize her cleavage (which I am FINE with). 
  • Another woman had 10 pictures of various people (Kids? Friends? Family? Ex-lovers? Strangers?) that were not captioned or identified in any way. Also - bad Glamour Shots are alive and well, friends.
  • Captioning a photo of yourself in thigh highs, high heels, a school girl skirt and a cardigan sweater with "Revenge is sweet, bastard." does not really tie in to how you're "Mature and civilized with your exes."
  • Also, ladies, let's try to not have our name tags and the name of the medical clinic where we work in the shots. That's not really good for privacy/safety. 
  • Do I need to see a picture of your three adult children? I don't know that knowing what your offspring grew in to helps me decide if I want to go to dinner, drinks, dancing, a concert, and a rodeo. But I'd look at that picture DURING drinks, as appropriate.

QUALIFIERS: 


  • Don't tell me you're tired of "stupid men" who can't communicate if your profile is full of typos, fragments, run-ons, and slang, shortcuts, abbreviated, and words that only teenagers with texting disorders can understand.
  • Save a little bit of mystery. If you give me your entire life's story including what hospital you were born at, there is no reason to ever meet you. How would that go . . . "No need to tell me anything about yourself. I know it ALL. What are you doing tomorrow?" Also, feel free to take liberties with the body description category. I think it actually speaks to confidence if you're overweight and you say "A few extra pounds." but don't say you "need" a man in to fitness to help motivate you to lose weight. That's a very different personal ad . . . for a personal trainer. 
  • Presented without context or cynical criticism: "I'm dun plyaing around. If your just looking for some durte sex, click elswehre, a**hold. Im a real women and I want the real dele - wite horse; doors opent; Xs & Os: big hard c*ck but onyl fur me." 

I looked at every, single photo. And the backgrounds of them. And I recognized a few of the women. If I'm being honest, there were a handful of women that DID catch my attention in a positive way. There would be something curious or comical in their profile, a photo of them looking genuinely happy that I admired, or excellent sentence structure and flirty subtext that made me giddy. It didn't matter. I was not who/what they wanted and I was not looking for what they were so . . . it ended there.

Don't hate me, Carrie, for "judging." Yes. I dismissed. I criticized. I judged. BUT the lasting "judgement" on each woman was positive. Each of them had the courage to summarize their life in to a preset framework, to outline who and what they needed (like any of us ever know) and to upload pictures of themselves in whatever context/position/framing/lighting they thought would best reflect who they were and what they were looking for. They are all far more courageous than me (I have nearly a decade of time with a woman I could never figure out or be figured out by) and I hope they find whatever happiness they seek. And/or learn how to "brand" and "market" themselves more effectively. Hopefully both. And in whatever order is best for everyone involved.

Oh, and to clarify how the experiment "worked" . . . just enough to tell me that I'm not ready to date. I'm not in a place where sharing time and space is healthy. I came to realize I may actually be a Caucasian cancer myself. Temporarily, I hope.

3/9/13

Fun with Google Earth . . .

Kiddo and I spent a bunch of time on Google Earth last night. We looked at her latest obsession for a while (Eiffel Tower) and then I showed her every place I've ever lived . . .

Groton, New York
The Mighty-Mighty 'piac!
Foggy Bottom (deep in our Nation's Capital)
Eastern Market (deeper in our Nation's Capital)
The Baltimore 'burbs
Back to the Nutmeg State
The Wichi-Wichi
Current Dwellings

3/8/13

Well, Uh, What? . . .

I've been having a LOT of chats lately. I use "chats" on purpose . . . some of them are formal interviews, some informal interviews, some "networking" interviews, and some are just straight up chats. I have no real preference what the model/label is.

I'll over-hydrate, trim my ear and nose hear and put on my navy blue hopsack blazer and a set of penny loafers for just about anything these days. As long as the direction is positive.

And GENERALLY, they have been. Generally. I've put off making this post live though because - in the recent past (being directly vague here to protect those involved) I had a real doooooozy (that is the correct spelling, by the way) of a chat. (In my best En Vogue voice) . . . Like to hear it? Here it go?

I show up at the agreed time. I am ready to go. Fresh breath, full Windsor knot, print out of my resume on card stock, full research on the person, position, and company done. I'm ret-tah-go! But they are not. So I wait. And I wait. In that sort of uncomfortable way where even the receptionist keeps looking at me with that "Damn, this person must not respect your time." way. But I smiled back in that "No big deal, really. I'm not even mentally recounting all the things I w/c/should be doing versus thumbing through your old trade magazines right now." After about 42 minutes (but who's watching the clock) I pulled out my cell phone and fired up the data plan. And 30 seconds later the person walks out to the lobby and says "Well, if you could pry yourself away from your phone . . . I'm ready to give you my full attention." WHAT?!

So I put the phone away, apologize, and make a joke about keeping up with all the latest emoticon trends. We walk back to their office - past a vast cubicle farm of unhappy looking people and weird "approach mirrors" so no one can "sneak up" on them (NOTHING says strong corporate culture like whisper-quiet cubicles and mirrors for employees who fear being watched).

We get back to the office and I'm offered my choice of chair filled with random crap or chair with coat and bag draped on/over it and told "Just throw that stuff on the floor." I opted for the bag/coat chair and, instead, hung the coat over the back of the chair and put the bag, gingerly, at the foot of the chair. The interviewer sat down and immediately made a phone call . . . complete with the "one second" finger gesture - one belied when they put their cordless head set on and leaned back in their chair, fingers locked behind their head. Four minutes later they said they "Had to go. I've got someone here in my office looking awfully impatient." WHAT?! I have spent this time subtly looking around (my head never swiveled on my neck/shoulders). Pictures of a family that seems oddly photoshopped on their desk and curio. Company calendar on the wall. Some random golf trophies on the bookshelves that are oddly vacant save a few managerial books and some random company coffee mugs that somehow look both stored and on display on the shelves. The air is  thick with Curve (JOOP?). The music of Sade, super low but somehow still audible, plays from under their desk. A visibly dusty bowl of M&Ms sits on the corner of the desk.

So we started to chat . . . well, they said "Tell me about yourself." and then proceeded to fire up their e-mail (I could see the reflection in their window - like the reverse approach mirror it is). Remember that scene in Wayne's World where they go on the radio show? Yeah. It was that sort of a discussion (without the blatant toying with the listener). And it didn't last much longer. ONE more question is asked, inbox scrolling continues.

"Sean. This is all great stuff. I've gotta' say, I'm impressed with your resume, with your approach, your attitude, skills, network, and you would be a real asset to this organization." and you know what's coming next . . . yes you do . . . sure you do . . . ready? . . . "BUT I just don't know that you are right for us. I would love to talk more about it but I'm already late for my next appointment and I hate to keep people waiting." WHAT?!

"I see," I lied. "I guess I don't understand . . . I sent you my resume and we had some great e-mail discussion and it seemed like you did want to talk about me for your position. You even just said that I have a lot of things you need and that I'd be an asset. So why, if I might ask - and I'll happily sign something to go off the record if you're worried about me suing you or something crazy like that (insert hearty laughter here to show that I'm being playful) - why I'm what you need but I'm not right for you. I may come off as desperate here but I'm unemployed and need the feedback as much as the validation."

"Well . . . huh (they actually said 'HUH') . . . I guess I didn't realize this was such a big deal to you or I'd have probably asked tougher questions and been more direct with you over e-mail." WHAT?!

"Which tough questions would you have asked? And of course this is important to me. I see real opportunity in this position and was excited to talk about it and see if we could do some great work together. I really don't know understand the disconnect. I've done nothing more in this room than told you about myself and answered one question you had about digital billboards. How did I lose your attention or interest in that context?" (I PROMISE you I was being very polite and professional.)

"It's just not going to happen, Sean. I can see you're getting defensive and clearly a little graspy so - before this gets any more awkward for me - let me get you outta' here and back to your day. But feel free to grab one of those coffee mugs off my bookshelf there. A souvenir of what might have been, right (awkward guffaw)?! Hell. Take two. You can always sell one later when you run out of unemployment. Get some of that powdered soup you just add water to with the money. Drink it from the first mug, right?" (I shit you not - the preceding is 99.9% verbatim.)

I stood up. Closed my leather-like padfolio. Put my pen in my breast pocket. Reached out my hand. Gave a confident shake to the person. Wished them the very best. Thanked them for the time and apologized for any disconnect that got us to the point we were. Reached over. Took ONE coffee mug (I have my pride, people.) put their bag back in their chair and followed the interviewer back to the front desk. I wished the receptionist a pleasant day, shook hands one last time (trust me - one LAST time) with the interviewer and walked out to, as they put it, get back to my day.

Please. Someone. Hire me. Get me back to work. Before I have to sell this coffee mug.

3/7/13

The Eiffel Tower . . .


In the last 72 hours, my child's mind has apparently moved from dinosaurs to something equally regal and equally timeless . . . the Eiffel Tower. Neither her mother nor I know exactly where the obsession has come from (we've read This is Paris to her a million times (we have about ten of Sasek's books), I got her a snow globe at Paris last year, she got a Disney souvenir tower from the France Pavillion at EPCOT last fall, we had a painting hanging in our old house that featured the structure but it's never been a real focus of conversation or obsession). But obsession is the word.
  • We spent over an hour tonight on Vimeo watching random videos featuring the Eiffel Tower 
  • We ordered an Eiffel Tower cookie cutter (and spent 50x the cost of it to have it shipped)
  • A replica of the tower is being made (of Popsicle sticks)
  • THIS has been put at the top of the Easter "wish list"
  • We went this evening and bought and read the fist chapter of Eiffel's Tower (yes, I'm reading my six year old narrative non-fiction written by a historic scholar)
Want a crash course on the tower? I suggest this one.

We talk about the tower all the time (when not discussing dinosaurs and when we're going to make our first of trips (always plural) to Paris to see it) and we've begun learning random facts about the tower, Gustave Eiffel, the 1889 World's Fair (why the tower was built - intended to be a temporary structure in BARCELONA, for the record), and the City of Lights itself.

Random aside - when I was 15, I went to Paris (and a whirlwind tour of all of France and Geneva, Switzerland) with my high school French Club. I was scared to go up the Eiffel Tower (I hate open-air heights). I was eventually convinced to partake in an ascent only to be essentially mugged (the attempt failed) and I ran down the stairs . . . from the second deck allllll the way to the ground (if you're not afraid of heights, run down steel grate stairs for about 15 straight minutes - you will be). But I'm glad I went up. I'm glad I saw Paris from above the ground.

I've yet to tell Ava this story. I want her to believe it is the most amazing, magical place on earth where nothing bad could ever happen . . . because that is what dad's do for their daughters . . . make the world safe. Or at least save the scary stuff for later. 

3/6/13

How To Survive a Conversation . . .

I'm going to give you a life tip here today, folks. Truly. Something you can carry in to any situation (say a job interview) and use to survive. It is called Agree, Agree, Ponder/Disagree, Agree. Here's how it works:

  1. You are having a conversation about (or something comes up mid conversation) that you know NOTHING about. I'm talking BLANK knowledge base to pull from (say me talking about ANYTHING overtly manly).
  2. You panic and admit defeat.
  3. I'm kidding. NEVER SURRENDER. Here's what you do:
  • Agree
  • Agree
  • Ponder/Disagree
  • Agree
And you're done. What the hell am I talking about? Let me give you an example:

PERSON 1: How about that Columbian drug cartel? We really should intervene as a world leader, right?
YOU: Yes (agree).
PERSON 1: I mean we are a global superpower for a reason and half that snow lands on our coast anyway.
YOU: Sure does. Big problem. (agree)
PERSON 1: It might cost a billion dollars a year but it is money well spent.
YOU: Well. We have a lot of other priorities to consider so I might not be in for a billion. (ponder/disagree)
PERSON 1: I'm just saying that we shouldn't think so cheaply as we face our demons.
YOU: Damn right. 'Muhhrikuh! (agree)

STILL not convinced:

PERSON 1: I can't believe Manti T'eo didn't know he was being duped by that little sick girl.
YOU: I know, right? (agree)
PERSON 1: I mean he's an adult male in the digital era. He couldn't find anything about her but he went along?
YOU: Silly and hard to believe (agree)
PERSON 1: He was probably in on it. I've even heard rumors he had his own stuff to hide (raises eyebrows)
YOU: Well. I don't know about all that. I just think the whole thing is unfortunate (ponder/disagree)
PERSON 1: Either way. It's going to hurt his status in the draft, especially after the recent combine.
YOU: Agreed. I hope Johnny Football down there at A&M has a better sophomore season.

And BAM! You'll note that, in both cases, the point of the ponder/disagree is to allow you to introduce something you DO know something about so that the conversation might quickly turn to that. And it usually will. Example:

PERSON 1: I think my butt may look big in these pants.
YOU: I'd have to take a closer look. Stand up. (agree - to perhaps agree)
PERSON 1: I mean I've been eating a lot of deep fried mac and cheese with ranch dressing lately and I can't quit nightly milkshakes.
YOU: That is probably not the best diet in the world. (agree)
PERSON 1: I'm just getting fat and out of control.
YOU: Well. I don't think you are fat and I don't think those pants are particularly unflattering either. But if you don't feel great about yourself, you might think about how you could feel better. (ponder/disagree)
PERSON 1: You're probably right. But, seriously, don't let me have a milkshake later.
YOU: It is a promise.
PERSON 1: You seem fairly confident despite your balding head, your obese body, your marital status and your employment status. What's your secret.
YOU: Well . . . 

See. BAM! Back to something you can talk about.

Try this out. Try being on both sides of the equation. It can/will not fail. (One disclaimer - it might take longer to move on but keep following the 2, 1, 1 pattern and you'll be fine). 

You're welcome, kids. You. Are. Welcome. 

3/5/13

I Get Skurred . . .

I have a lot of idle time lately to think and stew. I try to use those hours for good. I really, really do. And I have been largely successful - I've been applying for and interviewing for lots of jobs, my home is clean, my laundry done, my dish rack empty and clean (including the smegma that was growing on its underside), I cook my own meals, and every random errand/mailing/etc. I had to do is done. I've even been ticking off long-outstanding mix CD requests (ready for more, dear readers).

A good chunk of the rest of my time is spent parenting. More still spent studying for Jew School and reading in general. I listen to music. I watch a tonna' Netflix on my Roku. I go for walks (I should go for more walks).

Try as I might to stay busy and productive though . . . I still find time left over for fret and worry.

No. I don't worry about money or security (a new job is around the corner and money is fleeting) and I don't worry about the stuff my normally self-centered brain goes to. Nope. Instead I am scared of things like . . .

  1. The state of politics in Kansas.
  2. The guy in Dillons who could not explain the "cookie vs. creme (no, not cream)" Oreo promotion to my child despite being HIRED to run the promotion.
  3. I took a pledge from a KPTS donor tonight who would pay $525 for him and five other people to see THE TENORS
  4. That a woman I used to date self identified herself as a seven. When did THAT happen?
  5. I am thinking about buying a new car in December to mark the 10th anniversary of owning my current (and to date ONLY) car.
  6. The state of education in Kansas.
  7. I obsess over these. Daily. 
  8. A stranger on the street today told me that she needed to find a bathroom before her "guts leaked into her shoes." And I HELPED DIRECT her to a restroom vs. running from her.
  9. The state of art and culture in Kansas. (FACT - If they reach the goal for plates sales here, it will EQUAL the state's budget for TOTAL direct expenditure on the arts in Kansas).
  10. My parents REALLY think the only reason the Pope is retiring is because of his health.
  11. I never saw (nor did I understand) the end of the movie Red Lights coming but I REALLY enjoyed the movie.
  12. Ha. Ha. Haaaaa. Bush 2016 rumors. Haaaaaa. 
  13. People are making "Harlem Shake" videos. Still. 16 minutes later. In HUGE numbers.
  14. I got an e-mail today from a person I've known for 19 years and they spelled my name S-H-A-U-N. He E-MAILED me that. My E-MAIL address starts with my FIRST NAME SPELLED CORRECTLY. Shaun? REALLY? The second most obnoxious way to spell the name (you're still the King, Schoon - yes, I knew someone that spelled it that way). 
  15. I thumbed through Splurge magazine today. Twice. And not even on the toilet. (You're welcome for THAT mental image.)
  16. The Jodi Arias trial is STILL going on. And the jury has ONE HUNDRED questions to ask before they settle on a verdict. 
  17. It was headline news today that they MAY know the gender of the baby growing inside the maybe-future-queen-of-England. And it's NOT a boy (ruh-roh, Reorge!). I kid. I don't give a DAMN about that baby.
  18. My ex-wife told me she "never" reads my blog! When did THAT happen?
  19. I will probably never get over the massive creativity that some people posses. I have BIG ideas. I'm a BIG thinker that can problem solve. But my ideas rarely create magic
  20. Just about EVERYTHING in Kansas.

Someone. Please. Hire me. My brain is turning to even greyer matter.