Monday, September 26, 2011

My Mini Me

One of the great things about taking care of my son is the frequent compliments that he receives while we are out and about. Everywhere I take him the ladies we encounter say “I know who he looks like” or “I know where he got that curly hair”. It’s been said that BC looks just like me. A lot. At first glance you’d probably question it, because he is about ½ my height and about 1/6 my weight, but other than that there is apparently a significant resemblance. Or so people tell me. Personally, when I look at him and look in the mirror I don’t see it.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t look like me. In fact, I think he really looks like me. I know that may sound contradictory to what I just said in the last paragraph, but he does look like me. When I was 3 years old. Given that he is almost 2, I’d say we have a good idea of where he is headed. For better or worse. 

One way that he resembles me is hair-wise. I already told you about the debacle of his first haircut in my blog post: “A Little Off theTop” but what you may not remember is that he has my curls. No doubt about that one.  The weird thing about is that my hair was bone-straight until I was 12. BC’s hair was straight until he turned 1.

I wonder if people would still say that he looks like me if I still had a super short buzz cut like I did just a couple ago. Even at my wedding my hair had been clipped with a #2 guard just a few days before the ceremony.  Now my hair more resembles a blend of Andy Samberg’s & that creepy reporter kid from Glee. I guess the goal is Hip with a hint of Jewfro. 

There is one group of people who do not think that my son looks like me, however.  They make up a tiny percentage of the population that has volunteered their thoughts on the matter. They’ve been adamant since the day he was born when he was still waterlogged and scrunched up like beef jerky. Those people are my wife’s family & friends. They insist that BC looks exactly like her.

I guess I should tell you that as long as she and I have been together, people have said that SS and I look similar. I guess from a distance that’s plausible: we both wear dark glasses, have medium skin tones and thick dark hair. But that’s where the comparisons end. Once when we were first dating, we were out to dinner one night at a nice restaurant in Santa Monica. Toward the end of our romantic evening, the waiter asked if we were brother and sister. Would you like to guess what kind of tip he received?

Anyway, my wife’s family insists that he looks like her. My family says he looks like me. So I guess the general population has the most unbiased opinion on the matter. And 99% of them say he looks like me. If you think about it, who is more trustworthy than the checkout woman at Ralphs or the random woman on the street walking a dog? (Side note: I said women because only women comment among people we don’t know). At the end of the day it’s not a competition anyway. And besides, my wife was the Prom Queen her senior year in high school, so it’s not like she looks like Chaz Bono (pre- or post-op). No matter who he looks like, BC is going to turn out just fine. As long as he can learn to keep the ladies at bay. As it is, he’s already a chick magnet and he’s not even 2. 

Judge for yourself. Who do you think BC looks like? 

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--JJ aka The Dude of the House
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

My favorite season: TV

As we cross into the second half of September and summer rolls to its chilly end, the calendar is almost back to the most glorious time of year. No, not autumn. I live in Los Angeles where there is no autumn (or winter or spring, for that matter). No, it is almost time for the Fall TV season to kick-off.

I’ll be honest. I’m a big TV fan. Huge. I’m not quite as rabid as Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy, where the obsession goes to dangerous places.  More like the guys on The Big Bang Theory, except I’m not into sci-fi and I’ve kissed a girl before.  

I’ve always been a big sitcom fan. As far back as I can remember I would watch just about any sitcom that was on TV. I was really into Soap for a while in reruns. I got very sick my junior year in high school. My family did not have cable, so as I laid on the couch for a month recuperating from mononucleosis, I became hooked on reruns of Andy Griffith, Gomer Pyle, etc.  

I remember many Saturday nights as a pre-teen watching the NBC prime time lineup that included 227 and The Golden Girls. Both were obviously shows that I fit the primary demographic for, as a 12 year old Midwestern Jewish male hypochondriac.  No matter the case, I kept watching for better or worse. And more often than not, they were worse.  

I’ve never been a big fantasy or science fiction fan. I find the bizarre characters, alternate universes and odd languages remove me too much from the story as I try to figure out what a Klingon or a Hogwart is.  I know people like that stuff.  Not me.  My wife watches Fringe, a show that has some sort of alternate parallel universe story as its mythology. Huh? I have no desire to keep up with the Kardashians, let alone these physics weirdos.

I don’t get into the procedurals, either. I’ve never seen CSI, NCIS or any of that stuff. It’s hard enough to keep track of all the new networks, let alone watch shows whose names sounds like a dyslexic’s worst nightmare. I was recently surprised to learn that CSI and Law & Order were not the same thing. No joke. Never watch ‘em. I know they all have secondary names, like Law and Order: SVU or CSI: LA. Why not just make one big mega-show and call it Law & Order: CSI, the NCIS years. I don’t know what those acronyms stand for, but I’m sure the producers can come up with an explanation.

Obviously BC is too young to watch most of the shows that my wife and I like. Likewise, I’m generally too old to enjoy the shows that he likes.  I already told you in my blog entry “From Deadhead to Elmo Addict” how he and I have gotten very into Sesame Street. I know it’s cliché, but the show is somewhat tolerable and he likes Elmo. 

What I find most interesting about it is that all of the humans who live on Sesame Street are not at all bothered by the fact that 95% of their neighbors are monsters.  Given the propensity of studios these days to mix things up to keep franchises fresh, I’d like to see Wes Craven direct an episode of Sesame Street. You know that within 10 minutes Luis and Gordon would be slaughtering Big Bird and sacrificing him to Satan in return for the right to eat Snuffleupagus.  That I’d willingly watch. 

There are a couple other shows that BC’s gotten into that I also find intriguing:

Dinosaur Train: This show is possibly more preposterous than Sesame Street.  It’s a cartoon that takes us back to prehistoric times where we meet a family of dinosaurs and their kids. The kids are very curious about other types of dinosaurs and take the Dinosaur Train to other historic periods to learn about them.  Um, were the creators unaware that there were no combustion engines functioning in the Triassic period 230 million years ago? Also, when I was in school it seemed like there were 3, maybe 4 different types of dinosaurs. This show has a new type every episode. How is that possible?  

Yo Gabba Gabba: If you haven’t seen this show, drop what you are doing and go check it out. YGG is like if Sesame Street mixed with the cartoon sequence in any movie where the main character accidentally takes drugs.  It’s a funky show with unique monsters who are all very talented singers and dancers.  The show mixes in C-list celebrity cameos (Weird Al! Rachel Dratch! Angela from The Office! ) and a pimped-out ringmaster named DJ Lance. This guy has sideburns that go on for days and is almost as proud of them as he is of his neon orange jumpsuit and fur hat.  

Yo Gabba Gabba incorporates a lot of music into the program and the songs all have good messages for kids.  Songs about brushing your teeth, being nice to others and always tipping your crack dealer. OK, so I made that last one up.  But if they had a song about it, it would be very nice. They also have a character named Brobee whose superlative in the title song is that he’s “the little green one”. Brobee is either clinically depressed or possibly bipolar; I’m not sure because I’m not a psychiatrist.  Either way, it’s a pretty cool show and it’s on like 17 times a day.

When he’s ready, I’ll introduce BC to the wonderful world of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Parks & Recreation and Louie. I imagine that will be at least a few weeks from now, though. In the meantime I’ll look forward to those shows and several other good sitcoms returning over the next few weeks to populate my Tivo, where they will reside comfortably next to episodes of Sesame Street, Dinosaur Train and Yo Gabba Gabba. 

--JJ aka The Dude of the House

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11: A New Hope

As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, I must admit that September 11, 2001 affected me in a way unlike most others. Let me be clear, what happened to our east coast brethren was a horrible atrocity and I solemnly remember those who lost their lives that day and those who have fought for our country since then.  For me, however, it was one of the most powerful days I’ve had in my 12 years in Los Angeles and possibly my nearly three-dozen years on Earth.

During 2001 I was working an awful job in human resources at a big movie studio.  If you know me at all, you know that I am definitely not an HR kind of guy. The job probably wasn’t awful if you are into TPS Reports and that kind of thing but I absolutely was not.

When I woke up that morning and flipped on the TV, my jaw dropped while watching the visuals taking place in New York City.  I immediately called a couple people on the east coast to make sure they were safe and thankfully they were.  Then my aunt called to tell me that my cousin who worked in one of the Twin Towers had stayed home that day. As I watched Good Day LA, I was also thankful that Steve Edwards was working that day because one of the last people you would want reporting a story like the one that was unfolding is Jillian Barberie. 

My parents were visiting from Ohio and staying at a hotel up the street from my apartment. I called to make sure they were aware of the situation and they were also captivated by the TV. As I was getting dressed, I received a phone call from my boss saying that due to the attacks, work was canceled for the day.  At that point, I was thrilled to have a day away from the misery of I-9 Forms and endless interviews.  So I got dressed and met my parents at Dupar's for a late breakfast. Over the next couple of hours we watched the events unfold and life as we knew it evolve.  There would be no more taking safety for granted. None of us knew if any further terrorist activity was subsequently headed our direction given that we were in the 2nd largest city in the US and #1 had just been hit. 

Not knowing what to do with ourselves that day and quickly realizing that most of Los Angeles was shut down due to the attacks, we drove west down a desolate Santa Monica Boulevard until it ended. We parked and walked around the deserted Third Street Promenade. A few vendors were open but the great majority were not.  Even on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the stores are closed the movies and restaurants are thriving. This was like nothing  any of us had seen before.

Eventually we wandered over to the Santa Monica Pier. It was empty. No vendors, no tourists, no nothing. Ironically, the terrorist activity back east had turned what is normally a tourist filled madhouse into the most peaceful place on earth. For me the beach has always been a place of tranquility.  As I looked over the great Pacific, I had no idea where my life was headed or if there would even be a tomorrow. But somehow I felt comfort in that situation being surrounded by the beautiful blue abyss. Needless to say, I was very fortunate to be able to share that day with my parents. 

That evening my parents and I met my brother and sister-in-law and her parents for dinner at one of the few places that was open in the area, the wonderful Trattoria Amici.  As we nibbled on focaccia and talked about what had happened that day, how it affected us and what was to come, we received a major life-changing revelation. It was at that meal when I learned that my sister-in-law was pregnant and 6 months later I was blessed with my first nephew.  The joy of that spectacular news helped brighten what had already been a very emotionally charged day.

Obviously my son, BC, is too young to learn about the tragedy that hit our nation that fateful day a decade ago.  So today, what my wife and I did with our son is what I did with my parents exactly 10 years ago. We went to the beach. It had been overcast in LA yesterday, so the beach was nearly deserted when we arrived, very much like that day in Santa Monica.  For a few hours we sat and talked, played and ate. Interestingly, BC seems to be as enamored by the ocean as I am.  Someday I will have to tell him about the catastrophe that befell our nation on 9/11/01 and I am lucky that I’ll be able to share some good stories with the bad. Because for me 9/11 was not only a tragedy but also a life-changing day filled with peace, serenity and family.   

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--JJ aka The Dude of the House

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Here's a link to a beautiful song that always reminds me of 9/11/01:
"Brokedown Palace"- Grateful Dead, 6/21/89 Shoreline Amphitheater

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Can I see some ID?

From the time I was born, I’ve always looked older than my actual age. I weighed 10 pounds & 15 ounces at birth, bless my mother’s heart.  While in the hospital, the doctors and nurses all wanted to come see the 11 pound baby.  Seriously doctors?  I was a big baby, not the Elephant Man. 

I went to a very small elementary school and I was always forced to stand in the back row of the class pictures among the teachers and other faculty. One year, people thought I was the janitor. I was 9.

My brother is almost 8 years older than I am. Ever since I turned 12 or so, people who’ve met us together often ask who is older. I guess you could say that he is fortunate to look younger than he is or I am just unlucky to be mixed up with an old geezer like him.  Since my brother was in college when I was in 6th grade, when I would go visit him he’d take me to do college activities. No, we didn’t go to pep rallies or to make homecoming floats. I was able to waltz right in to fraternity parties, bars, etc. A couple times I got carded and was lucky to have the fake ID that one of his friends had found and let me borrow. In case you were wondering, my alias was George Boll.  

I reached my current height of 6’ when I was 12 years old.  Sadly, my only growth since then has been horizontal.  At my Bar Mitzvah I was taller than the Rabbi though that’s not really a huge accomplishment. For a while, I was the starting center on my junior high’s basketball team.  It’s too bad I was as graceful as a giraffe on ice skates or I could have gone pro. 

During my senior year in high school, I wanted to see how long I could go without shaving. It wasn’t purely a scientific experiment, however. It also spawned out of a combination of laziness and convenience as I’ve always hated shaving and I lived somewhere with brutally cold winters. This was also during the Grunge era when flannel was all the rage, so I will admit that on numerous occasions I was confused for a lumberjack or a member of Pearl Jam.  Since it is obviously very likely that either one of those people would be hanging out at a high school in Ohio. In case you are wondering, I managed to last four months with my built-in neck scarf. 

So when my son was born, beyond my natural curiosity about what he would look like I also wondered if he would have the same older look that I have. Based on those creepy 3D ultrasound pictures you get toward the end of pregnancy, I had a feeling he was going to come out looking like an old Chinese kung fu instructor. Fortunately, he did not. He looked like a handsome little stud. Oh, did I mention that everyone says he looks like me? 

And while my wife’s doctor was concerned that he was going to be a giant, as I was at birth, he weighed in at just under 9 pounds. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but not gigantic either. In fact when measured against my brother's & sister’s kids BC ranks 4th out of 6 in birth weight. It seemed he was destined to be a Three Little Bears kid, not too small and not too big but just right.

Of course that all changed the day after he was born, while still in the hospital. Obviously we were new to diapering, but my wife and I couldn’t figure out why we couldn’t get the diapers to fit properly on our little man. We called the ultra-patient maternity nurse who couldn’t quite get the diaper on right either. On Day 2 of his life, BC had already outgrown the Newborn sized diapers and was upgraded to Size 1.  I could see right then that this was going to be a long road.

Over the next few months, my wife and I watched in amazement as BC was always one clothing size ahead of his age. When he was 3 months old, he was wearing 6 month size. When he was 9 months, he was wearing 12. BC has always been near the top of the growth chart at his pediatrician’s office.  He’s been consistently at or above the 90th percentile in height. Guess what? I was 99th percentile in height until I was 12. I see a trend starting. Fortunately it’s not a bad one.  

Speaking of growth, when BC turned one we tried for weeks to find him shoes that fit. Every time he’d try them on, they never came close to fitting. We figured that size 4 was too small for him so we tried size 5. It wasn’t until a few weeks after his birthday when we took him to the shoe store I went to growing up when we learned what the problem was. We were looking for size 5 shoes for him, but his feet measured size 6 ½ EXTRA WIDE. Guess what, I’ve worn size 13 wide shoes since I was 13. Lucky me. 

When BC was 6 months old, we took him to the LA Zoo for the first time. He loved it so much that we bought a membership and have been regulars there ever since. Ironically, the giraffes are his favorite animals by far. Maybe he feels a kinship? Whatever the reason, he loves those tall ruminants and squeals with delight when he sees them from afar. They are much more exciting than the meerkats and Golden-backed Weavers, after all.  

Zoo policy lets kids under 2 years old in for free and we have a family membership that covers two adults, so our little family is covered for admission. However the last few times we’ve visited the zoo, instead of the normal wave-through at the front gate, there’s been a more thorough inspection of our group. The Bouncer (aka pimple-faced teen hired to greet the members) has started a line of questioning about our 20 month old son.  

Teen: Um, how old is the kid?
Me:   20 months
Teen: Are you sure?
Me: Yes, I’m pretty sure I remember when my wife was sliced open and he was cut out of her stomach.
Teen: Um, oh, OK. Sorry. Have a nice day.

With that, the teen returned to texting his dopey friends and we entered the animal kingdom. I can’t help but wonder how long until this type of inquisition becomes a normal part of life for my child.  There is nothing wrong with being big, or small for that matter. I just hope he learns to embrace it a little better than I did. That’s why on his second birthday I’m going to start teaching him some interior post moves, just in case he is also the tallest kid in his 7th grade class.

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--JJ aka The Dude of the House

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