Sunday Funday . . .

Here's to all you Christians and the birth of the world's most famous Jew. However you do (not) celebrate Christmas - may the true spirit of the day share at least some of the time and energy you expend.


Best of 2016 - Learnings of the Year . . .

Right around the time I got my masters degree, I decided I was "over" the notion of learning and education and sitting in a classroom and endeavoring to get wiser/smarter/more astute/whatever. That was in May, 2000. By September, 2001 (let's say the 11th-ish) I had decided the world I thought I knew so well was way, way bigger than I had thought. I went to Borders (stop laughing) and bought a copy of the Noble Quran and started learning again (spoiler alert - terrorism has NOTHING to do with Islam). Fast forward 15 years and three months and I'll still scratching my head at the world.

Here are the ten biggest/best/most important things I learned this year . . .

10) Common Core is NOT stupid/absurd/whatever - it is just a totally different way to use one's brain than what "we" learned when "we" were in school. Do I think it is better? Nope. But I was raised Catholic and am now a proud, proud Jew. Change is good.

9) "Goy" is (potentially) offensive. Much like "shiksa", "bitch", and other words that are considered pejorative by many but embraced by the bold (?) - calling someone "Goy" (gentile/non-Jew) can either be a simple clarifier of their religious stance or dismiss them as "less than". I had always meant the prior, you could presume the latter.

8) Twitter is Stupid. I've often struggled with my relationship with social media but if 2016 taught me (and the rest of the electorate) nothing else - it taught me that Twitter is no way to communicate or go through life. I had my Twitter password changed for me about a month ago. Haven't missed the stress, anxiety, or shouting at the wall one bit since.

7) I'm an XL/XXL Hat. I'll talk more about this in the coming days but I'm getting super, super bald and I went and had my head professional "measured" (not "shrunk") and my face shape assessed by a true professional/legend and I'm now fully, fully obsessed with protecting my noggin.

6) Nascent means "new", not "negligibly small". I'm 40. I consider myself a word/language lover. The actual definition of this world is, for me, nascent. What other words am I butchering on the regular?

5) Voting Trump doesn't mean you're a sexist, racist, xenophobic, dismissive boor. It means you're a person who values your fellow man/woman/child so little that they would look the other way for someone who is all those things (and worse). Yes. That is what you did. It is. Seriously.

4) If you don't monitor your goals, you won't hit them. 2016 was one of my greatest years in many, many ways. But if you look at my goals and objectives - it was an actual disaster. More to come on this one, too.

3) I can still find delight and joy in the world . . . even when I really, really don't want to.

2) Our democracy and sense of values is under attack - but not at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But, instead, in the North Carolina statehouse, the Sedgwick County Commissioners' meeting room, and countless other venues. I told you all - forget the Presidential election, watch the locals.

1) I'm screwed. Soon enough. But I'm not going down without a well-read, well-informed fight.


Sunday Funday . . .

Three things I love . . . Yiddish, Hanukkah, and Jewish Parody music for any and all holidays and festivals.

PS - I'm BACK to blogging, yo. It has been TOOOOOOOO long.


Proof . . .

I mean I "knew" I was getting married when I asked someone to, you know, MARRY me but I didn't really think - in that cold, crisp air with the jolting smell of dead fish wafting by and the awkward glances of fellow cold, fish-filled air revelers casting about - that it was something that would ever smack me in the face or get "real".

Sure, sure. The ring shopping, the talking with her parents (and I thought actual negotiations were a bit much but my future father-in-law drives a hard bargain and knows the value of his offspring (I jest)), the actual asking, the announcements, the discussions, the (actual) negotiations over ceremony components, the hand wrangling over the bridal party and participants (some of whom are still yet to be asked/informed/negotiated with (I've got a few goats left to give, folks)), the constant "How's wedding planning going?", the save the dates (the hours and hours and hours spent stamping little tags and tying strings and putting satin circles on metallic honey caps and putting the whole thing on the save the dates (why can't THOSE f*cking things be resolved with goats?)), the searching for kippah and cufflinks. The hunting for the perfect ketubah and the tearful (happy tears) review of the language options and the discussion of Jon vs. Yon vs. John vs. Jean as one translates my future father-in-law's name.

It has been "real" (and (generally) wonderful) for many months and yet it was just last night (214 days after "popping the question" and nearly 3/4 of the way through our betrothal period) that I got PROOF that we were getting married.

Debash, you see, put our actual invitations to bed and I was emailed a PDF that put it right there - in "midnight navy" and "aged copper" ink on a double-weighted, "still grey" stock was the succinct (I'm trying to be less verbose (he says, hundreds of words in to a blog post)), simple fact that I'm getting married. I need to review, and approve these details (which we provided) that state for the whole world (or at least the 115 households on the invite list) that we are - in fact - getting married.

It is true. I have (a) PROOF. And a wonderful future father-in-law, wonderful day to look forward to, and amazing, squishy-faced genius to spend my life with.


Spousal Support . . .

Take a minute and check out the Facebook screen grab to the right. Okay. Do more than take a "look" at it. Read it. Now take the remaining 49 seconds left in the minute and do  your calming exercises. Breathe.

What? You're not enraged by this post? HOW not (yes - I know that makes no sense)? But . . . seriously. That crap is horrifying, right? Because let's talk about how strange it is to speak of the "burden" of honesty with your spouse when said "honesty" is not so much "I took the last Oreo" and much more "I've never actually loved you." Yep. That is one of the FOUR examples that this proud feminist bass-ackwards Christian who blogs about things like "How G-d Used Fried Potatoes to Change My Life" and "How To-Do Lists Can Improve Your Within-the-Bonds-of-Marriage-Love-Making" (title modified for personal reasons).

NOW . . . I get that every person is different and has their own belief system (I think "more" of you if your favorite color is orange and I think the more you tell me about your "training" and "fitness" routine the more you need other stuff in your life) and I know that people find inspiration in odd places (my sock drawer, Judaism, and Twitter accounts for the eternally angry) but please, please, please tell me no one is looking for beliefs worth following and inspiration from a woman who thinks you are best not admitting that you're no longer attracted to, in love with, or perhaps have never loved your spouse.

I know that physical attraction ebbs and flows and that the moment sexy stubble turns to mini blades of skin irritation is real. I know that love is alive and evolving. I know and admit and embrace all these things but you should talk with your spouse about these things. Not in the context of "if you lost ten pounds I would bang the bottom of you but, for now, I'm checking out your sister and loving my left hand exclusively" (because that is absurd, childish, and only 4% of men are left-inclined in this way) but in the context of "Hey - where did the love go?"

You know what is a burden? Living a lie. You know what is a burden? Finding out you're living life with a person living a lie. You know what is not worth sharing? Masturbation stats. You know what is not worth keeping to yourself? Misery within a relationship.

I'm not going to soapbox too much on this one but I'll just say this . . . "lov(ing), honor(ing), and vacuum(ing)" is not your friend and you're way, way more attractive than your sister anyway.


Bookshelves . . .

I've mentioned it here on the blog but Debash gave me an ultimatum (she doesn't remember it being quite so stern) about eight months ago . . . either get more bookshelves or stop. buying. books.

In her defense, the $17 particle board/cardboard/sticker-that-looks-like-wood-grain set of shelves (all three layers of 16" x 24" goodness) was well overcrowded and the stacks and stacks of books atop the Walmart specials and on this end table, and that coffee table, and this chair in the dining room, and the dining nook off the kitchen, and in the box in this closet, that closet, and the other three closets were clearly, certainly, undeniably in need of some space to breathe, collect themselves, relax, and show their spines proudly.

So . . . I did it. I bit the proverbial bullet and I went to Walmart (where all good decisions on home decor are made) at like 10 PM on a Sunday and bought two of the cheapest shelves they sold (this was not a real solution - I'm eventually going to endeavor, with a friend, to build built-ins) and I brought the home and proceeded to use every four-letter word in my vocabulary, and eventually physically destroyed said shelves in the driveway (imagine me "silently" sulking through the house to get to the driveway that I might smash these cheap, bent, crooked, ugly, poorly conceived shelves atop our cement (see-meant to Kansans) slab. Twice. Each.).

Then, the following weekend, I went to Target (where all moderately trendy decisions on home decor are made) and selected a beautiful set of shelves. I carried them to the car. I brought them home. I tore open the packaging. And discovered they were the wrong color. NO matter (yes - I'm so lazy that I won't repackage and return bookshelves . . . in my defense I presumed I would also, eventually, smash these against the driveway too). I put them together.

I moved the books from the falling in shelves to the unit. Half full. I did a loop of the house and amassed every book in plain sight. Two thirds full. I pulled a box out of each of the six closets where we were storing books . . . TOO full.

Back to Target. Repeat. In the same "wrong" color. More boxes came out. More books came out of hiding. More beautiful, dead, didn't die-for-nothing trees-turned-paper-turned-pages-turned-printed word-turned-book-turned AWESOME were out of the closets and on plain display.

I stood back. I admired what I had done here. I rested. I fired up smile.amazon.com (where you can decide what non-profit gets 0.05% of your every (eligible) purchase - please choose Congregation Emanu-El in Wichita, Kansas if you don't already have a place to send your fractional gift. I found my wish list. I. Went. Off.

In the last four months I've purchased 37 books (for me - I've purchased more for the kid and the future missus). And why NOT? I (typically) select used books that are "like new" (which is code for - a library sale and/or someone gave me this book that I'll never read).

I've continued to fill out shelf two and it feels wonderful. My Judaica collection is up. I own (save for ONE) every book Daniel Handler has written. I'm building out Lemony Snicket. I'm just getting warmed up. Don't worry - the shelves are still available (and on SALE) at Target. I'm going this weekend to buy one more. Maybe two. Okay - three.


Sunday Funday . . .

The Olympics are a disaster and the world needs to consider why they are and what they "mean" in 2016 (and beyond). That said - what a year for recurve archery.


Sunday Funday . . .

I'm still sorta mourning the death of Prince (and fighting the annoyance with those who feel it is relevant to his music, legacy, and talents to chase why/how he died). That said - this is just about the music . . . what it should be about. I've been a HUGE Price fan since the mid-80s. He, musically, could do no wrong for me. These folks can't either.


Sunday Funday . . .

Your song of the summer (early). AND - unlike the last few years - this is one isn't rapey or misogynistic or both or worse. You're welcome.


Awning . . .

When we looked at our house there were a few things that I noticed . . . the hardwood floors, the beautiful light fixture in the front living room, the small lawn that would, mercifully, not take much time to mow, the several thousand square feet we would probably never really want or need.

What I didn't, really, notice? Awnings. Yep. Quaint on Parisian cafes, important in Florida subdivisions, and not all that common in the heartland in recent decades. But we have them. Many of them. I didn't have any actual "impression" of them. They were just sorta there. We talked, at move in, about what to do with them (here's what you need to know about how I live my life - my strong advocacy was that we do exactly, literally nothing).

So we did, well, nothing. And then we sped through the first year of life in the warm, friendly, happy confines of Sleepy Challah. And then there was a windstorm and stuff got nutty and this huge, second story awning - closest to the curb - ripped and tore and the frame bent and snapped and it separated from the house and the pieces and fragments just sort of hung from the mountings.

So we talked about what to do with it. And here's what you need to know about how I live my life - my strong advocacy was that we do exactly, literally nothing.

And there it hangs. Sad and clumped - actually knotted around itself - and morose and weak. And I don't notice it nearly often enough. But for some reason, last evening, as I pushed the trash mini-dumpster to the curb, I looked up and saw it. And today - in the 9 AM hour - I'll call about getting it repaired. My days of doing literally, exactly nothing are behind me.


Sunday Funday . . .

People often criticize "covers" of songs because apparently the sincerest form of flattery (imitation) is not all that flattering and/or the presumption that people covering something implies they can do it as well or better is also not, well, flattering.

Then there is Sturgill Simpson. I dare you to take the stance that this is not a significant improvement on the 1988 When In Rome version that we all know and love.

This version of the song, like Helen Hunt inspired Jack Nicholson's character "As Good As It Gets" makes me want to be a better man.


New Experiences . . .

In January I continued an annual tradition and posted my 2016 public objectives. MOST years this act (just posting them) makes me more accountable and more successful. On average I meet or exceed 75% of my public objectives (and do even better on my private ones).

That said THIS year has been, with nearly 39% burnt, has not been my traditional/normal year. I was not really ready for the objectives I set and I was not really willing to do the proverbial work. I started strong in January but February and March were  not exactly focused. APRIL has been much better. I'll start updating my status again with the MAY status (in early June) but there is ONE objective that I'm doing fine with - likely because it is escapism and self-distraction at its finest. Yep. The ONLY objective I am truly ahead on in a proud, loud way is "new experiences".

Here, without context or elaboration, are the seventeen "new experiences" I've already had in 2016.
  1. Wrote and published erotic fiction
  2. Had a drink in a hotel bar while chatting with strangers
  3. REALLY considered a career change
  4. Ate lunch in a sit down restaurant, alone. No book, no phone, no distractions
  5. Wrote and published poetry
  6. Posted a "casual encounter" on Craig's List (that Debash responded to - relax)
  7. Bet $100 on "black" (Wesley Snipes says you should always do that) and won
  8. Tried to explain the irrational fear of transgendered people in public bathrooms to a child
  9. Learned to say quinoa - six years after starting the effort
  10. Left a secret in a "Post Secret" book
  11. Had a conversation with an unironic Trump supporter without laughing or eye rolling - learned a few things along the way
  12. Tried Diet Sierra Mist - NEVER doing that again
  13. Spent thirty minutes reading content on a white supremacist website
  14. Spent twenty minutes looking at my various retirement and savings accounts trying to understand them (yep, I made it longer reading racist filth than reviewing financials)
  15. Started taking medication to stay in my happy place - something long overdue
  16. Read a book on chess (I still can't really play but I get the strategy much, much better)
  17. Booked a surprise weekend trip without any discussion with my fellow travelers
I owe my objective list 19 more but hope to far exceed it. The rest of my list should be jealous of how much I'm enjoying this one.


Liar . . .

You know who's a liar? A stone-cold, to your face, can't be trusted, smile while stabbing you in the back, selfish, caring only for itself LIAR?

Graham Cracker Crust.

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah . . . Cheesecake and Key Lime Pie and icebox/pudding pie, and S'mores torte. Blah, blah, blah. That overly sensitive, fragile, and delicate dust never did a single thing to be celebrated.

Let me ask you this . . . would you order a graham cracker crust from Amazon? Nope. Of COURSE not. You'd order a television. You'd order a chair in which to strap your child riding in the car. You'd have the site send you bottles of Coca-Cola and other sweet confections but not your belllllovvvvveeed graham cracker crust. Why? You have enough common sense in your want-to-believe-the-best-in-dessert-bases head to not risk the money - to not waste the money.

The actual worst part? People will lie on behalf of this sweet diva. They'll say "I don't have any issues with my crust. It never breaks. I know the secret to a dependable and solid crust that you can dig a fork in to with reckless abandon." Don't trust these people. They are the "No, no - I don't like Hall and Oates in an ironic way." of the pastry world. They can't - they SHALLN'T (or SHAN'T if you're a more comfortable) be trusted.

If those magical elves at Keebler can't make it work . . . your aunt (by marriage, not even blood - pft) can't make it work. Don't listen to her. Don't listen to them. They will sell you all the fantastic lies the world ever offered . . . like unicorns. Lies like rainbows. Liars. LIE-URS.

I can hear you now . . .  "The world needs delicate things to be respected and to cherish to remind us of the finer, stronger things in life." You'll feel the pressure of those who pretend/imply you are selling yourself short (like when they assure you a $38/bottle wine is "better" than a $14/box wine). The peer pressure, like so much bad beer and sticks and seeds pot when you were a teenager, is not love. They are not your friends. They will look you in the eye and smile as you mutually enjoy a slice of something. That's part of their game. But they aren't putting you in their will. They won't let you come over and use their pool when they are out of town. They, like the crust you built your after after dinner dreams on, can't be trusted.

Don't believe the hype. Don't play in to it. Stand your ground, dear reader. KNOW the truth. KNOW that graham cracker crust is a dessert you simply can't trust. Put the fork down. Go find you a nice puff pastry, or a floury-buttery bastard Grandma used to make. Make your berries, dairy, whipped peanut butter, and other fillings feel properly supported - properly LOVED - in something that can take the "rigors" of a pie slicer or spoon. On something strong. Something reliable. Something real.

Life is short, people. Don't let liars fill your precious time or calorie counters. Let a pie crust fool you once, shame on the crust. Let a pie crust fool you twice, shame on that white shirt you just dribbled on.


Priorities . . .

Here's my new gripe on the state of politics in 2016 . . . the focus on the stupid and small. The misprioritization of the profession. We live (if a neighbor of mine you be) in a state FULL of actual problems.

We have high unemployment. We have more and more people moving out of the state every year. We have a deficit that would make even an NFL payroll wince. We have football and basketball coaches as the highest paid employees at not only our universities but some of our high schools. We have growing obesity. We have dropping test scores. We have a dated infrastructure. We have towns that are literally disappearing. We have thousands of square miles ripe for wind and sun "farming" and a push to NOT develop those resources. We have one of the richest families in the world three miles from where I sit and they lord over the political process for actual sport. Our schools are woefully underfunded. Our focus on education somewhere below the pursuit of better movie snacks and collector's edition sports memorabilia.

More over we have elected officials who, true to form, seem to be stoking the fires of ignoring these issues and trying to distract people away. What has our Legislature been up to? Bathroom policies. Honoring the professional sports team from a neighboring state. Protecting the "rights" of florists to not make corsages for "the gays"(and our "right" to pay the huge fees for an expert witness/bigot to fly in to testify). Oh, oh . . . and taking recess. Because it is exhausting to be a legislator in Kansas. All those hearings on nothing and all that energy grandstanding about how much you care about all people (while advocating for wealthy, white, Christian males).

Don't even get me started on Governor Brownback who - again this week - needed to tell the world that Kansas is not open to Syrian refugees (because of the "threat" - but he's also not open to discussing gun policy despite this happening here recently). He won't look at eliminating the "LLC Loophole" because there are "many other options" to fixing our budget woes. He's a truly lost cause. "We" re-elected him. "We" did this to us.

But here's the thing . . . there is a growing rift. The Republicans in the Legislature seem to be "getting" it. They are grumbling behind the scenes and are expected to be more vocal when they return from their much-needed respite later this week. There is a chance they will push the issue of looking at EVERY option to fixing our budget woes, to getting a better focus on schools and infrastructure, to making things right for the future of Kansas.

You see, unlike The Guv, every one of THEM (on the Assembly side, half in the Senate) is up for re-election in November. THAT has their attention. THAT has them getting focused. Priorities, dear fellow Kansans, PRIORITIES.


Lemonade . . .

I'm not sure if you've heard this or not but apparently Beyonce Knowles released some new music this weekend. I say "apparently" because it is alllllll the social media world can talk about (and will likely be talking about for at least the next 96 - 120 hours (social media attention span, and all)).

I've never minced words on my feeling for Beyonce. Sure, sure . . . she's never considered me her "target" but I've always been so bold as to question her talent and ability. I'm lazy in this but I have always thought her more a vocalist who moans and groans and juts out her hips while wearing the label "feminist" and telling other women to "bow down, bitches" in the same lyric.

I'm here to (sorta) apologize. From the bold, amazing, and hypnotic "Formation" (which was truly lovely and made me realize that perhaps I've just never understood) to the ABSURD reaction to her Super Bowl performance (which was billed as a Coldplay performance until she walked up the field) to the very, very bold "Lemonade" and all that it does and does NOT say, to the maturity and grace of an artist willing to potentially expose all the cracks in her marriage and (until now presumed) perfect life only to end with the assertion (I've not watched/listened to the piece so I'm going on reviews and summaries) that these things ARE life. Things ARE like this. They WILL BE like this.

Let's presume Lemonade is really about life giving you lemons and you doing the best you can with them. Maybe it is about the need to balance water, lemon juice, and sugar to walk the line between the base of life (water), and lemon (the sour and tart) and sugar (the sweet and desired). Maybe it is just about yellow and how great she looks in the color as she breaks every window in sight. Only Beyonce knows.

But here's what I know (from the extensive coverage of and thought pieces on "Lemonade" - including one about the statements made by her hair) . . . this is not something we're supposed to just "understand" and we can presume, like the nearly 19 years since Beyonce, then the centerpiece of Destiny's Child, became famous - that we'll never really understand her or get to know what her private life is actually "like" or what it "means".

When you're one of the richest people in the world, and your husband is one of the richest people in the world, and people just being in your gravity can make them more rich and famous (which, of course, leads to illuminati conspiracies (y'all are corny with that sh*t, Beyonce wants you to know) and other equally absurd reaction) you don't have to share who you really are or what you really mean. It is simply enough to pick and chose what to expose and how to expose it. And the people will go crazy.

Lemons, lemonade. Long live this version of Beyonce. Long live the (presumed) flawed marriage of Jay-Z and Beyonce. Long live Blue Ivy and her flawed, mortal parents (rich as they may be). Long live intrigue and fixation. Long live the pop culture icon that can spur a million rumors with the lyrics "Becky with the good hair". Long live the political and deeper intentions of Lemonade that got lost in the fixation of a private life and marriage. Long live the beyhive. Long live lemonade.


Sunday Funday . . .

Passover, y'uns. PASS. OVER. I may have posted this jam last year but I'm doing it again because, well, it deserves at LEAST one more run. The 3:10-ish mark makes me laugh (out loud, in the literal way) every. single. time.

Dayenu - for those wondering - means (approximately) "It would have been enough (for us)". It is the ultimate "You shouldn't have - but we appreciate it." gesture.


Friends . . .

Do you remember being a kid?

NOT in that sense of summer days lasted forever or that the rules of life were as simple as looking both ways and cleaning your plate for TV time? NOT in the sense of the sensation of learning how purrrrrdy that girl you were pulling the pigtails (not euphemism) of were.

NOT in the sense of loathing vegetables or belting out songs you could not possibly understand ("Yankee Doodle" is an actual cluster f*ck of dated references and colloquialisms). NOPE.

Do you remember childhood in the spirit of making and keeping friends? I do. Vividly. For me it was a relatively easy experience. I was always the fat kid so I had to be funny and warm and gregarious as to proactively endear vs. alienate. On top of that I was, from a young age, a "studier" of people. A "watcher". A "classifier". I understood cliques from the age of six (when it was "slides" vs. "teeter-totters"). I was able to flow relatively easy between groups and dynamics. It helped, greatly, that my father was the elementary school principal and I was in a small town in Upstate New York where just about everyone was white, middle class, and Christian. There were 72 kids in my graduating class. We spent almost thirteen years in that same grouping. We "knew" each other.

We didn't all get along. No, no. Heavens no. There were some that were labeled as "outcasts" and "unacceptables" (they were, in reality, poor or maybe slightly learning challenged or had mental/psychological ticks that we'd call autism or ADHD or whatever today). They didn't have the easiest of walks and they weren't exactly voted homecoming king (I got that honor) in some sign of being bigger than us.

But we got along. I can count the total number of fights I saw in school on my hands. I can count the number of times a kid brought a gun to school on my thumb (he claimed intent to harm but he told every kid he saw that day he had it and it was fourth period before the administration called for the cops to come get it from his locker). There was bullying and name calling. There was ostracizing and trickery. I never participated in any of it. I wasn't "better" than it - I was the fat kid. I kept a low profile. But I did defend kids and tried to smooth things over or distract people. I was proud to be inclusive and open and kind and warm more often than not (by a wide, wide margin).

I ramble on because my childhood was very different than my kid's. She lives in a city. She goes to a school with diverse kids with diverse backgrounds. She is not mine, genetically, and she is far more shy than I've ever been. She is bright and warm and loving. She's also an only child who displays classic traits of one in that she's pretty happy just being on her own. She's almost ten. She has three or four real friends. She assures me this is fine. I worry.

It is not that she should have dozens or hundreds of them (my college priest and one of the most emotionally bright men I've ever known used to insist that if you can't count your real friends on one hand you're not really using the right criteria) but I want her to feel liked and included. I want her to be warm and bubbly all the time. I want her to reach out to kids and hang out with kids. I want her to be the peace maker and the story teller. I want her to be happy.

She'll be fine. There is time. She's aware of the pressures of youth and how kids "are" (with their trickery and faults and encouragements and disappointments) and she is trying to rise above it and make the right connections and relationships for the right reasons. I just hope that her childhood, thirty years lagging from mine, will be warmly and fondly remembered when her own child (if that is her path) hits this point in life.


Headphones . . .

I always tell people my first job was at a bank as a senior in high school. That is a lie. My FIRST job was selling rock on the streets of Baltimore. I kid. Patapsco (that's a Baltimore metro are joke, Google it). I kid. My FIRST job was working at a Boy Scout Camp.

Yep. You didn't know that I'm a recovering Eagle Scout with palms? Sent it all back because, well, homophobes. BUT - for a long time - I was a proud and engaged and happy Scout (including my Webelos years (that is a scouting joke, Google it). And when I worked at that camp I ran the Handicraft area (that's right I taught basketry and leatherwork and metalwork and woodcarving) and I kept the workshop open morning, noon, and night and I was always bumping the Classics - really loudly. It helped the day flow and it kept people interested and music is fun, fun, fun.

Fast forward 25 years (almost to the day) and you could still tell I was at work by the happy sounds of music (ranging from hip hop to classical, spoken-word podcasts, to folk, big band, to the occasional country fit (when in Rome/Kansas)) that is, of course, until a few weeks ago.

I don't talk about work much here and I don't bring my battles to social media and I try not to complain about my lot in life but I had, for the first time in 18 years, to take home my speakers and bass cannon after complaints from colleagues.

Let me be clear - people have complained before. Directly, respectfully, casually. I'll apologize, turn the music down, roll my eyes, grumble at them, and go back to what I was doing. It worked well. Everyone won. Then the reports of criticism came from not those directly upset but vice presidents, senior vice presidents, the c-suite. By the time you're getting text messages from the actual head of the company . . . it is time to turn the music down, the lights up, and do last call.

It is fine. I get it. I'm almost forty years old. It is an office and place of "business". People like varying degrees of quiet and peace and noise and stimulation. Profanity from my mouth is bad enough but vibrating lyrics through the cubicle walls is probably a lot.

I'm fine with it. It is what it is. I feel bad that I upset those around me enough that they felt the need to escalate to highest reaches of our organization. Lesson learned. The good news is that the vast majority of my peers "get" me and the leadership of our company does, too. Good discussions, lessons learned, thoughts/perspectives shared, etc.

I bought some spiffy new headphones that have audio quality far superior to their $26 price tag and I've eliminated the even potential for complaints or distraction (also well worth the price). I'll never hear my phone ring again. People can stand over my shoulder and patiently wait for me to just happen to sense their presence for way longer. My music kills only my hearing and calm and focus.

Basket weaving this is not.


Lemony Snicket . . .

When I was a kid I read lots of books. I've always love to read and hope I always do (you know that "Sophie's Choice" question about losing sight or hearing . . . take my hearing - no question about it) but I didn't spend nearly enough time, in my never-humble opinion, reading "kid's" books.

Oh sure, sure - I rocked Richard Scarry and Dr. Seuss and Beverly Clearly (who turns ONE HUNDRED tomorrow) and many, many others but I remember jumping from "A Wrinkle In Time" to "Flowers for Algernon" and "The Lottery" and just never, really looked back.

But, thanks to the joys and bemusements of parenting, I get another chance . . . I get another chance to read books that are technically "for" children but that appeal to me and my imagination anyway. I'm also, in sharp contrast to my dismissal of everything for "kids these days" (vs. the superior alternative that my age and generation could enjoy), sheepish to say that books for kids are far better today anyway - or at least the quality stuff is more quantiful.

We've made our way through 43 (of the 54 - number 55 comes out in July) "Magic Tree House" books and we got through the first "The Mysterious Benedict Society" book and we've read almost all of the Disney Fairies/Tales from Pixie Hollow books and a couple of "The Never Girls" novels and a few dozen other books like "Peter Pan" (which is actually not a great read), "Ella Enchanted" (which is better than the movie), and several of the aforementioned Ms. Cleary's works as well as all the (to my great delight) "Ivy & Bean" - a few times each.

But now comes the tween years . . . the cursed and magical TWEEN years and that means we can up the literacy game. And there is one guy that I'm alllllllllllllllllllllllll about - Lemony. F*cking. Snicket.

Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) is my singular literary obsession at this point. Oh sure, sure . . .  you're probably thinking about the 13 "A Series of Unfortunate Events" right now. I get that. And we're going to read those. But we're also going to tear through "All the Wrong Questions" and "The Composer is Dead" and the other complimentary writings for his series.

But here's the best part . . . there is also Snicket/Handler for ME to read . . . I'm currently laughing my way through "Horseradish" (which reminds you that life is full of pain and suffering and this book won't help) and I have "Adverbs" waiting for me and "This Is Why We Broke Up" and "We Are Pirates" on order. That doesn't even include our annual, Hanukkah-time reading of "The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming".

I total get that, soon enough, I'll be locked out of my daughter's room at bedtime so "Flowers in the Attic" and "and we won't share reading time (or reading stacks) and that is fine. I'll have Lemony Snicket to keep me in touch with my youth.


Stop and Smell the Flowers . . .

Let me get in front of something here . . . I'm very, very excited that I'll soon be married. I want, very badly, to be back under the warm, feathery, soft wing of marriage in all of its traditional and evolving definitions of the word/institution. I'm very happy - in ways that I've not known or felt or pondered in a very long time. I'm lucky. I'm fortunate. I'm blissful. That said - I've been miserable.

Because to get "married" (in the traditional and not-fast-enough evolving for my laziness) sense of the word requires a wedding. The whole "in the eyes of G-d, family, and friends" thing. The four total seconds of uttering "I do" and "You betchyur sweet ass." gives way to long processionals and harp music (that is either part of a wedding or the line for heaven - I could be confusing the two) and all the folderal that comes with it.

I've dragged my feet. I've grumbled. I've been openly hostile. I've been lazy. I've been . . . disinterested. But that changed the other day. I got on board with Team Let's Have a F*cking Wedding!

What happened?

BloomHaus! We scheduled an appointment and walked in to meet with Kathleen (a co-owner). I was, needless to say, the last one in the door. Then stuff just sorta changed. The kiddo got excited, Debash got excited, I got less bitchy. We climbed the stairs after walking through the fragrant, lovely lobby area. We spent an hour talking flowers and decor, styles, and substances. Ideas and wants and needs were lobbed about. Laughter was had. By the end of the appointment I was in love with a vase and the notion of having a big ol', flower-covered party with the woman I love, the daughter I adore, and every person the three of us, collectively, have ever met.

I'm still TOTALLY open to taking a long lunch break and sneaking off to the ol' court house (like Bobby and Diane did in the fifth season finale of NYPD Blue) but, if that option is truly off the table (keeping hope alive - like so many of you keep the promise of harps and heaven the same) I'll be more than happy to stand before the eyes of . . . whomever.


Hold Your Water . . .

There are probably a million reasons why you should't resist the urge to pee. The lead of which is uromysitisis. They degrade, quickly, from there. But I'll allow - technically - that there are times and reasons.

You know when you have a million reasons to NOT get up and pee, adults? At a BOOK READING.

Let me clarify - Debash and I went to hear the great Augusten Burroughs talk about his latest memoir "Lust and Wonder". I could not have been more excited. She and I don't exactly have the same taste in books. I read sarcastic fiction from funny know-it-alls. She reads tomes that truly make the world a better place. But - on this guy - we totally agree.

So we go and we're there and there is a wait for him (not that he was being prima donna-ish but because that is the nature of these things) so there was a bar (which I will say felt a little odd - to fill the audience for a guy who writes openly about his alcohol addiction and sobriety with bottles of beer and mixed drinks - but what do I know?) and people were drinking. And that is fine. 5 PM somewhere (including at Abode) and all that. But here's where I get annoyed . . . people kept getting up and going to the bathroom.

Here's a guy who flew in to Wichita and he's read five minutes of his book and he's talking, very candidly, about suicide and addiction and familial strain and changing your life, etc. and people are just traipsing to-and-from the bathroom. And I'm not pretending like they were slinking off in a dark room they were up and strutting - high heels on concrete floors, the whole thing.

And then . . . and THEN . . . they were hot stepping BACK to their chairs. Forget the cluster of empty chairs in the back of the room. Nevermind the basic thought of just being polite. How about we start with the root of the problem - who are these adults that can't sit for 70 full minutes without peeing? I mean - no judgement if there is an overlap between Burroughs fans and urinary incontinence sufferers (which is a serious problem not to be made light of) - but what are the odds here?

Let's just be blunt . . . you wanna whoop it up in the 5 PM hour before a 6 PM event and drink a few . . . goodonya. Go drain the main vein at 5:55 PM. Not quite ready? Presume you're going to be released to relieve yourself at 7:15 at the absolute latest and then be thrilled when you get the go at 7:10 PM. And if you can't pull that amazing feat of self-control off at least - at LEAST - do the right thing and sit down in the back of the room. He'll still be able to see you and call on you for your overly pretentious, self-indulgent inquiry. Promise.


Shakshuka . . .

There is a meal, dear friends, that will make you as happy as happy can be - IF you can put your brain on the right track (and trust the sweet, sweet suggestions of a fat man who knows little in this world more than food). This dinner (or breakfast, or lunch, or snack, or whatever) is called shakshuka.

The only mandate for shakshuka - a dish that originated in Northern Africa but is now popular in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and these United States - is poached eggs. Shakshuka, you see, means (loosely) "mixture" or "to shake".

Want to make shakshuka? Yeah you do, dirty-dirty. Pick your base:

  • Tomato sauce
  • Hummus
  • Purred spinach, green beans, and zucchini
Then pick your toppings:
  • Okra
  • Green beans
  • Red peppers
  • Mushrooms
Then put your good stuff on it:
  • Grilled onions
  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Cheese (bleu, parmesan, cheddar, alllllll the varietals)
  • Za'atar
Then poach some eggs in the mixture (if you do the tomato version - otherwise poach separately or just hard boil) and get a loaf of bread. Not a slice. Not a section. Not a segment. A LOAF. And tear it. Don't slice it, cube it, cut it, mince it, dice it, or butcher it - use your hands and tear it.

Now get in there. Get your shakshuka on. You will not regret it. Trust me. It ain't purdy but it is delicious. Sooooo delicious.


Sunday Funday . . .

I'm happy Archer is back. I'm going to miss the crew when they go away forever (this is the last season):


Kids . . .

The twenty most important reasons to have children (in no particular order):

  1. You'll never again approach the question "Why?" casually.
  2. Because keeping shoes in pairs is way overrated and searching for the "left" one when you're already five minutes late is way underrated.
  3. There is NOTHING better than the first time your darling says the word "f*ck" with such force and power that it becomes polysyllabic.
  4. You will feel "old" in the best possible ways . . . "Wait, you were ALIVE in the 1900s?"
  5. The way you learned math is no longer "the" way to learn math so you don't have to feel bad about never "learning" math to begin with.
  6. Suddenly you get why your parents would always dump you off at the birthday party and run back to the car - returning at precisely the time given by the host parents.
  7. School music programs give you appreciation for actual music.
  8. You get to read this book - knowing it is going to be a real help to you in a real talk in the near future.
  9. Irrational fear of spiders, the dark, Republican Presidents, and more spiders are all things you have to treat with actual sincerity.
  10. You've created a captive audience that you can "introduce" to your musical heroes Paul, George, Mick, Bryan, Jay-Z, Alanis, Mozart, and Missy Elliott.
  11. There will come a day when they will read to YOU. And you'll cry. And they won't understand.
  12. Learning to bite your tongue on a whole host of subjects from the best flavor of jam to why their mother is not perfect sorta becomes your "thing".
  13. Arguing for no apparent reason becomes something you regret initiating but really regret responding to.
  14. You can now blame someone else for your incessant "lateness" . . . even when the kid is with her mother for the weekend - and you're on a business trip anyway.
  15. WHY run out for ice cream on a Tuesday night? The kid wants it. ONLY the kid. You're just the designated dairy driver.
  16. Doodling, arts, crafts, puzzles, building blocks, comic books, toys, and juice pouches. 
  17. The realization that two minutes really, truly IS forever . . . and you get to endure it twice a day while the kid pretends to brush their teeth, all the while they are just swallowing their toothpaste anyway.
  18. Pop music is dreadful, infectious, and forever.
  19. Teaching important life lessons - like "snooze button" strategy and morning schedule shortcuts.
  20. You'll officially never get out of student debt. And that is okay. Because education is everything.


Think Local . . .

Have you had enough yet? Are you "over it"? The whole thing? The entire Presidential Election? Yeah. Me, too. Here's the worst part - you still have 223 days until it will be actually, you know, "over". And then there are four lonnnnnggggg years until we get to go through all "this" again.

I love politics. I have since I was a young boy. I've never been horrified by or embarrassed of politics or politicians. These folks, by their nature, are megalomaniacs and sociopaths (they woke up one day and decided to run to be the most powerful person in the world, folks, what did you possible expect?). Yet here, on the eve of the tenth Presidential election in my life time (and seventh that I've actively watched and enjoyed), I can tell you that I'm way over it. WAY over it. The name calling, the stupidity, the least-common-denominator-chasing, the media globbing attention on to whore candidates and then wondering why people are giving them so much attention. The "status" being attacked as though the very nature of political work (not "power" - "work") doesn't REQUIRE some institutional knowledge, devotion, and pragmatism. ALL of it.

So here's what I'm doing - SOMETHING. I've come to realize something very, very terrible. As BAD as 2016 is (in terms of general quality of candidates, discussion, candor, ideas, and reason-to-believe) 2020 is going to be way, way worse. If Freshman Senators and first-time-candidates aren't doing it for you and the elder statespeople of politics want nothing to do with the show WHO will run the next time? And will they be any better?

In the meantime you have big political money and long-term strategy at play with modifying the very funnel and path to power. Forget buying a President like they did in "Prez: Corn Dog in Chief" (which is a hilarious, wonderful, and charming read). These forces are doing it the more patient way. They are buying dog catchers and school board members, state legislators, and sheriffs. We now have candidates who, by their nature, are coming in to politics at the small/local level with a loyalty to money and influence and power-seekers who wish to remain clean handed.

You see where I'm going with this? We need to do SOMETHING, people. If you don't like 2016's presidential candidates (and we wouldn't blame you) think about 2020 or 2028. Or, heck, 2040 (the first Presidential election a child born today will be eligible to vote in). Are you scared? You should be.

Pay attention to your local politics. Attend city and council meetings (or at least read coverage of them). Get to know your state legislators and your Congressman. Understand what an Attorney General actually does. Remark on the real influence Secretary of State can yield. Think about who they are, what they want, who they really represent, and what drives them to office. Then decide if you want them there because - no matter what - we, ultimately, have an equal say/share of power in who actually gets there. But we have to vote. In 223 days.


Tradition . . .

Amid the chaos and turmoil of the recent death of conservative-leaning legal giant (and eloquent bastard) Antonin Scalia there was something small and quiet that I adore - tradition.

While there is no question his death took on the decidedly "political" tone of DC (and that is both regrettable and expected) there was also something else very "DC" about his death . . . the actual logistics of handling it.

There were coordinated statements, the President addressing the nation on a Saturday evening, the media scrambling, colleagues and opponents opining about his "larger than life" self, etc. That is the "tradition" of death in DC. Then there is the other tradition - the pomp and circumstance. I don't care who you are, what you do and don't believe (politically) and what you do or don't feel about Scalia the man - the thought of his former clerks (almost every, single one of them) in black suits in parallel lines standing silently in front of the Supreme Court awaiting their former mentor's coffin is a sight to behold. There is such formality and randomness in this tradition. The thousands of dollars in airfare, the Brooks Brothers suits, the shoe shining, the reunion of Chet and Skippy and Pennington IV (aka Pence) at the hotel bar are one thing. The interruption of life is another thing. But - there they are - tradition.

Of course this was a total of ten or fifteen minutes in what has stretched on to be weeks of the final great DC tradition . . . fighting over everything and being awfully transparent about the mourning of a man not mattering as much as the mourning for a conservative justice in an otherwise well-split court.


Song of the Day / Playlist . . .

I've been listening to less music lately. I think I've shifted over to podcasts more and more and I think, in general, my musical preferences have sorta frozen and I just like to listen to the stuff I like over, and over, and over again.

That said . . . here is a playlist from the winter. Some good, old fashioned, song of the day greatness.

Please to enjoy.


Quinoa . . .

I want to talk with you about one of my favorite absurdities in the world . . . food trends. You know what I mean - the grapefruit diet, the Atkins diet, the Hollywood Cookie diet, the I-decided-I'm-allergic-to-gluten-trend, the Kale movement, the no-sugar diet, the soy milk thing, the farm to table push. 

Let me be clear - I don't care about any one of these food trends as a one-off (that is a lie, I resent most of them on principle alone) but, collectively, I think they are just about the most ridiculous things imaginable. I get why peg-rolling your jeans was cool in the 80s. I get why boy bands were hot in the 90s. I get why smart phones and buying books digitally were immense in the 00s. I get why throat tattoos had their time in the sun a few years ago. I get all that. 

Trends and fads are about belonging and the greater culture and the greater sense of "us". That is why every Disney movie makes a billion dollars, every reality TV show is "loathed" but carries huge audiences, and that is why the NFL remains popular. No one is really, truly paying attention to these things or into them. They just sorta "do" them.

Enter quioa. You know what quinoa is? DELICIOUS. You know what else it is? Dumb. Quinoa is a high-protein "grain alternative" that has been a staple of Latin American food for actual ages. Why has it been popular there? Because they had it before Lululemon yoga pants. I kid. No one but American fad-followers is rocking $160 yoga pants so thin you can see the wearer's colon. Nope. They ate it because it was local and cheap and . . . delicious. But then it got "cool" and all the hipsters and idiots and rice-adverse "needed" it in their lives (this was just between tart cherry juice for sleep aid and fair trade honey mustard). It was so popular that the locals couldn't actually keep up. Like any misplaced gentrification of an urban neighborhood this was just people being people and the others suffering.

Well, like everything else the quinoa craze has faded a little bit, the supply has come up, the cost has gone down and everyone will live another day . . . with whatever trend comes next all over their bodies and plates. 


Sunday Funday . . .

The center of an aspirin tablet is the same size as the center of a beach ball . . . the physics, math, and amazing feat of high accuracy archery.


I'm Back . . .

Yes, yes. I'm fine. Yes, yes. It has been weeks since I blogged with any normal frequency. Yes, yes. This is regrettable all the way around because it is a symptom of a larger problem that I'm not keeping up with my commitments and the things that I typically enjoy and prioritize and just make a point of doing. I don't know what is "wrong" (nothing, really). I'm just distracted and busy and frustrated and flummoxed. These things are all manageable. But they've put me - collectively - in a funk that has taken a few weeks to work through. Alas, I'm done with the funk and will resume normal blogging Monday.


Inconvenience . . .

I was listening to a Jewish podcast this weekend (as one like me does) and there was an amazing story about a woman flying El Al who gave up her seat on a flight and then, after discussing the reason why (her gender) decided to sue the airline for discrimination.

I don't, to clarify, think it was discrimination (another passenger made a request to not sit next to a woman, the airline offered the female passenger an upgrade to vacate her seat, she accepted). While this gets at a much larger issue of religion and society (things I won't touch here) it raised a very interesting discussion inside our car (my ladies were with me - one even sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME).

All three of us had different takes on this situation.

  1. The kid didn't care. That is essentially a quote/the entirety of her comment.
  2. I thought it was handled fine - that the airline coming to ask the woman to move with an improved situation waiting for her was ideal.
  3. The third person in the car thought the fact that the guy was even indulged in this was nuts.
I should clarify this woman loves and is marrying a Jew. This is not about his religion or beliefs. Her concern - which was very well received after she elaborated - was that if this guy doesn't want to sit next to a woman (or a skinny person next to a fat, or an elbow-rest-lover next to an equal-rights-for-equal-elbow neighbor, etc.) then he should have purchased a second seat to ensure he was not next to someone he didn't want to be with.

She felt that to even approach the woman to move - to a better seat or otherwise - was not right and should be avoided. I still think there is a grey area where we can ask people to be kind and giving and accommodating (on a plane, a train, an automobile, or anywhere else) then we should do it. Ask for kindness and cooperation. See if it comes back around. See if it can make life better. 


Abuse . . .

I don't know what it is like to be abused. I have never been hurt - verbally, physically, mentally, sexually - or otherwise - by anyone much less someone I care about and who claims to care about me. I hope and pray that I'll never know the feeling, that my daughter will never know the feeling, that anyone I know and care about will never know the feeling.

Yet I have so many people in life that have endured at least one form of abuse at the hands of at least one abuser. The statistics are heartbreaking, the stories harrowing, the impact profound, the ignorance stunning. I know so many abused and I know so many who chose to ignore or pretend it doesn't happen (ignorance is bliss - as I hope and pray it never happens).

Please, dear people, be aware of and angry about abuse on any level and at the impact of anyone - regardless of age, gender, class, or life position. Be kind and caring. Be open to seeing and hearing the signs. Be ready to help when and where you can. If you are being abused - trust someone. Ask for help. Say or do something. Get out of there. Know that someone will help. You are not alone.


Tuxedo Tips . . .

If EVER the world needed Men's Wearhouse founder and former head George Zimmer and his "I guarantee it", um, guarantee it was Wednesday evening at my local store that lost its way when it lost its leader.

I should clarify - I'm not "manly". I have never killed anything, I can't build anything. I cry - ALL the time. I can tell you, without a drop of irony, my favorite essential oils and I always ask people what the "mid-notes" of their cologne are.

I'm not the least bit "masculine" except when it comes to my clothes. Because make NO mistake the great failure of "man" is not our collective wussification (not a real thing anyway) but it is, instead, the cut of our jeans and the slouch of our appearance. I may be fat, balding, and awkward but I know exactly how to dress my body. And that, dear reader, might be the first problem with me going for a tuxedo fitting.

Wanna hear a story? Sure you do . . .

So I went to have my tuxedo fitting on Wednesday. We had stopped in on Saturday but, between prom season, wedding season, and Commitment Balls the place was an actual, literal mad house so we left and I made the latest appointment available on a weeknight. The mele gave way to utter silence - and maybe the "scrubs" of the staff.

I arrived, on time, and was greeted by a very enthusiastic employee - tape measure and pamphlets in hand - who was unable to find my appointment but they DID have one for Sean Amorg in the system. Yeah. NO reason to presume that person isn't me. But how did the "e" become a "g" when I typed it in? So after that weirdness I got wave two of the perk. This professional was more than happy to help - and by "help" I mean wait until my partner arrived. Partner? Why do I need my PARTNER? If a woman walked into my store and I hinted I would wait until her old man arrived with the money I'd be a jerk. Alas . . .

So upon additional inspection of the computer screen it was determined that my partner (why do they keep saying "partner") was right there in the system from their appointment at David's Bridal. Of COURSE it was my partner's fault that my name was wrong. But then I was told "Don't worry - he (yep, HE) probably just was too excited to spell my name right." Wait, wait, wait . . . this person thinks I'm gay and having a gay marriage in Kansas with someone who went to their fitting at the bridal shop? What is going on here?

So then we cleared up my heterosexuality and moved on to the real pain. My choice in tuxedos was clearly unacceptable. My selected accessories were not right. The colors we chose for the big day seemed strange. My decisions on not having ring bearers or "junior groomsmen" (yes - we are REALLY doing that in the year 2016) was strange. The thought of all the men wearing the same uniform for duty seemed bizarre. This went on for a solid ten minutes. THEN we got into shoes. Let me be very, very clear you can wear ANY color with a universal neutral. ANY color.

Time for the measurements. As I mentioned earlier I am not manly but I know my body and I know the horrifyingly large numbers it puts up. I know my inseam to within a quarter-of-an-inch. I know that my neck is a full inch smaller than the neck in my dress shirts because my torso corpulence is brutal. But despite my strong declarations AND the fact that I was told I HAD to come back in early September for re-measurements I had to let tiny-arms (this employee looked like a t-rex from the shoulder out) take full stock of me AND to correct them at each sloppy, vague attempt to get the "right" numbers. Horrifying.

Next pain point? The party itself. Men, their names, their contact information, their relationships to me and Jesus Christ (that was an actual question - imagine their shock to discover I'm down with G-d way more than J-H-C) and how we could move ahead with getting them taken care of and how they can go to ANY Men's Wearhouse (I swear to you and all that's holy that I'm going to encourage them all to go to Tulsa to avoid this experience) in America to get "served" (that was the word).

So about 40 minutes (felt like eight hours) I was finally free to go. I was tired. I was grumpy. I was stabby. I was never less excited to be alive and in a society that wears clothes. The best part? I get to go back three more times - at least. Ugh.


For Sale . . .

I'm spending sooooo much time online lately looking at random crap and trying to pretend I'm artsy. I'm not. Okay, fine, I AM but only in very specific ways that have nothing to do with the sort of arts and craftism I need to be in this hour of need. You know who IS crafty? The folks on etsy.

I mean there are MILLIONS of great things for sale on that site - many of which are homemade and I love them all. They are either really charming, unbelievably dreadful, or a combination of the two. Here are ten things that made me super, super happy.
  1. The Uterus Skirt - Yep. EXACTLY what it sounds like, complete with pocket. I love it.
  2. Spray the Bitch Away - I never knew "the change" was so easy to manage.
  3. Nearly 650 Pieces of Shoulder Jewelry - I never knew this was even a thing much less such a thing.
  4. Adult Fairy Wings - No. No. I. Said. Nooooo.
  5. Glass Sex Toys - Hundreds of shops dedicated to temperature responsive pleasure sticks.
  6. $330 Salad Bowls - And - if I'm being honest - I think it is worth every penny. So good.
  7. Custom Puppets - Creepy just got a hand up its butt.
  8. Swizzle Sticks - Now make me a whiskey sour and say something tawdry.
  9. Wait . . . WHAT? - If there IS a market for this trinket of movies passed . . . don't tell me.
  10. Stuff From My Childhood - I just called my mother and told her she can get $100 for this.


Leap Year . . .

Any good scientist (who isn't so naive as to believe that the world is round) can tell you that today isn't so much "special" or "magical" or "different" as it is overdue and needed. In reality our clocks, calendars, and societies NEED Leap Years to stay normal.

You see no matter how much we try to "control" things with our special ideas on time and space we're not actually in "control". We're just sorta trying to stay on top of it. We can and do cram alllll the stuff and appointments and wants and needs into the day and we force the day to last "exactly" 24 hours and have "exactly" 365 days per year. At least now - at one point there were only 360 days in a year and each month had exactly 30 days.

So we take/use that time because we know we have "exactly" this much time so then we presume to do these things because our earth moves in such a way that we rotate "exactly" once every 24 hours and we move around the sun "exactly" once every 365 days.

But we do NOT. We're off by seconds on the rotation (you can scoff at seconds but think about how many car crashes, world records, and other feats of strength, science, and physics are made or broke by a thousandth of a second (or less) and then push that against every day of every year. HUGE things can and do happen in said discrepancies. And the spinning around part? NOT exactly ANYTHING . . . once every 365.2422 days (we're STILL not actually "fixing" it with this extra day every four years).

Who knows - by the time our children's children's children inherit the earth (the flooded, hot disaster it will be) they might decide to add another day to every few years or even another few hours to every year or a few minutes to every day . . . or whatever they might want or need to do feel more in control. But it won't be enough and it won't be right. It'll just be another attempt to fudge the world and control and own it.

So enjoy your quadrennial attempt to remedy the world spinning ever-more out of control. Maybe by 2020 we'll be better prepared for these 24 hours.


Sunday Funday . . .

I'm going to Israel. I don't know when . . . I don't know "why" . . . but I'm going to "G-d's living room".


Hesston Shooting . . .

At least three shot dead. At LEAST a dozen injured (many seriously). At LEAST a reason to know that we have a gun PROBLEM in America. Mass shootings have come closer and closer to home, Wichita.

I've got nothing beyond - for those innocent people killed for simply being at work and the family and friends that will have to carry on without them . . . "May their memory be for a blessing."


Kansas Schools . . .

I refuse to pretend like I'm not TERRIFIED for the future of the state of Kansas. No, no. NOT hyperbole . . . actual fear and terror. Because we're not only making "penny" foolish decisions today on things like how to increase the insured among us or to not rebuild our infrastructure, grow our communities, add real/meaningful jobs and careers, and making everyone feel equal and included (sorry women, Syrians, and those who don't want to just carry guns all day, every day but we're making DOLLAR foolish decisions by screwing (figuratively) our future by screwing (figuratively) our children.

Think this one through, Governor Brownback and your dummy ilk in the Legislature . . .

  • When you refuse to fund our schools at a bare-minimum per pupil standard;
  • When you try to consolidate schools so that it can be 50 or 60 miles from one edge of the district to the other (and hundreds of square miles covered altogether);
  • When you confuse the "savings" of underfunding and over clumping our schools (wow - a potential $100MM/year in savings (but the multi-million annual state legal budget for Kris Kobach's pet projects and senseless endeavors is protected);
  • When you face down an actual school shut down with just an obnoxious, stubborn Governor and an incapable legislature (and $200MM deficit and nowhere to find the $73MM needed to properly fund schools) in the way;
  • When you . . . 
You see my point. But here is the thing, fellow Kansans - there is NOTHING more important for us and our shared future than schools. We must keep them OPEN. We must keep them FUNDED. We must attract and retain great teachers. We must attract, retain, and empower great students. We must have schools that employees and employers want to stick around Kansas for. We must have schools so poor kids can escape the chaos and mess at home for a few hours a day a few days a week. We must have schools to inspire and motivate and excite our children so they might find their passions and be their best. We must have schools for social and cultural reasons. We must have schools so that the system "works".

If we don't have schools that welcome and enrich kids, if we don't have great teachers to guide and mold and motivate them, if we don't have programs and options that entice and delight kids, if we don't have these facilities and professionals and programs that keep employers and employees here, if we don't have all these things we don't get the next generation of jobs and professionals so we don't get taxes and we don't have homeowners and we don't have happy, healthy people, and we can't keep the state moving and growing and being happy and healthy.

We cannot do anything if we don't educate and empower our future. PLEASE get your stuff together, Governor and Legislature (and the voters that keep them in place) and put the right emphasis on our schools and put the right funding behind them.


Graphic Novels . . .

A few months ago I told you about my daughter's love for comics/graphic novels and how I was dipping a toe in the ink pools and was going to give them a shot.

Well, kids, the ink is just fine and I'm neck deep. I've started reading a handful of "books" (I'm an insider now, I have a pull list, I'll say what I want) and, so far, they are wonderful and fun and engaging and charming.

While I'm still not "big" on the superheroes and action figures and all that stuff I do appreciate the art and story telling and beauty - but will point out four of the five below are "optioned" for movies. Ugh.

Anywho - here are a few books (and you'll notice I'm essentially obsessed with Image - probably because my friendly, courteous, informed, and wonderful local comic book store's staff are feeding my beast based on what I tell them I like) that you might check out if you're also curious about these things the smart love and the movie studios keep bastardizing:

5) The Wicked + The Divine - Every 90 years some Gods are made human and are forced to suffer the slings and arrows of mortality but only for two years . . . and then they die. It is a complicated trick to tell the story of these idols made one of us - but not for long.

4) The Fade Out - If Raymond Chandler decided to write pithy dialogue with pretty pictures instead of long, pulpy noir novels he might have come up with this series about 1940s Hollywood and all the dark stuff that (might have) happened there.

3) Chrononauts - Two brilliant scientists/best friends figure out how to jump the space, time continuum. Will they use it for "good" or for "evil" (selfish pursuits)? Yes. Yes they will.

2) Saga - If Archer and Lana had a baby and were on the interstellar run you'd see what this book is about. I'm obsessed with this tale of forbidden love, overlapping story lines, and profanity filled, humor.

1) Huck - It started out strong and has gotten better. Four issues in and I'm counting the DAYS until number five arrives.

Honorable mentions to Chew, Lumberjanes (which is more "for" my daughter but I'm really enjoying these young ladies), Twilight Children (I just have one issue of this one but I'm in to it), Grayson (again - just started it and may be opening up to superheroes et al), and Stuck Rubber Baby (dark, sad, but oddly loving).


Never . . .

So this is how it is going to be, right? The next eight to eighteen to eighty years of my life? My child - in all of her tween wisdom and elaborate, diverse life experience just sorta telling me what the world holds, how it spins, and why it is not flat?

I remember when she was just learning to really talk/communicate. EVERYTHING was a "no". "Do you want ____?" "No." "Put ________ down." "No." "Would you like to practice your colors?" "No." "What about French?" "Non." That lasted about a year. Her mother and I were sure it was a good thing. She was becoming her own person. She had opinions. She was pushing back. She was exploring boundaries. She was consistent. She was stubborn.

That lasted several months/years and it just sorta became the "norm". I can't remember when/how/why it started and I don't, really, remember it truly ending but surely it did. Probably right around the time I started asking "Hey, do you want to go get a snack?" "YES!" Well, here we are, many years older and many years wiser but we're reverting.

The new sensation-that's-sweeping-her-nation is "never". The overly emphatic, overly obtuse, overly naive way to declare yourself apart from something. It is far, far more infuriating than the last round of "Negatory Big Bird" because unlike when she was X months/years old (and you'd challenge her and she'd either acquiesce or give you that smile that made your heart melt (I'm romanticizing the phase, I fear) NOW it is just long, void stares, or overly dramatic, overly sweeping, overly naive explanations of why "never" is the way to go.

  • "I'm never going to swear." "Yeah, sure. O. F*cking. K. That sh*t might last."
  • "I'm never going to have a boyfriend." "From your lips to the poor kid you bring home to meet your obnoxious father's ears."
  • "I'm never moving out of you or mommy's houses." "The day after your 18th birthday you start paying rent - using your birthday money." (that one isn't true)
  • "I'm never going to be mean to a stranger." "Oh, sweetheart."
  • "I'm never learning division." "You won't need to if you were serious about never moving out."
  • "I'm never going to like any music more than 'Pop Star Du Jour'." "A valid point, I still love me some Celine Dion."
You get my point. It is the above and far, far worse. Weird life-long pledges (no booze, no boys, no love, no girls, no pot, no religion, no single-payer health care system, no - wait, what?) that are just begging to not last.

Who knows we might, in another eight or nine years, call down the basement steps to tell her that dinner is ready and have her clarify she's "not hungry" (or some other negative response to a simple engagement) or we might miss the days when every, little, thing is met with "No. Never. Because I'm nearly ten and I KNOW." I doubt it. I don't think I'll EVER miss this phase. But I wouldn't say "never".