Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Mini Horse Race

When is one of these ponies going to win already?

How would you caption this photo?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Three Times a Lady

Since it’s the last Monday in May, today is Memorial Day which is an important American holiday for many reasons. First and foremost, Memorial Day is a tribute to the brave soldiers who’ve perished while serving in our Armed Forces. Another way of looking at it is as the only holiday in a 3 month period where I don’t have to get Mrs. Dude a gift.

Don’t get me wrong, my wife is amazing and totally deserving of every kind of gift, card and cake that you can think of.  If I had the means I would get her everything she wanted plus things she didn’t even  know she wanted, like a gold-plated toothbrush. Or a night off. But that isn’t an easy task from May through July every year. (Side note: If enough of you read this, think it’s wonderful AND tell friends who are TV producers and/or book editors, that might happen sooner than later.) 

What’s the issue?  I pay tribute to my superlative wife on the second Sunday in May for Mother’s Day. Then a mere three weeks later (give or take, depending on the year) is Mrs. Dude’s birthday. Again, gifts and cake are mandatory.  The former for her, latter for both of us. Then a little over a month later is our wedding anniversary.  Each year a more elaborate gift is customary, per some old list made by people who thought that people wanted gifts made of paper, iron or wool.

I want to make it clear: these are all great occasions that I am fortunate to celebrate. I just wish they were spaced out 2-3 months apart. Ideally an April/July/October schedule, if you know anyone who can help me reconfigure our family calendar.  Like Doc Brown.  

So what’s the bigger issue? I will be the first to admit that I am not a great gift shopper. I always tell myself that I should start looking weeks in advance, then never do and scramble at the last moment to put something together. There must be some deep psychological reason for my procrastination, but I will have to figure it out later.

It’s a challenging situation that I face. Possibly even a lose-lose situation as Michael Scott is fond of. Is one of these three days more important than the other or are they all equal? Mother’s Day rewards her for the hard work she’s done on a daily basis for 2 ½ years.  But our anniversary rewards her for the hard work she’s done on a daily basis for the last (almost) 5 years.  I must give my wife a lot of credit. Dealing with babies is not easy. And neither is raising children. 

I’d have to guess that the birthday is the least important. While it’s nice to be celebrated, no woman I know over the age of 21 wants the actual reminder that she is a year older. Then again, from my experience, they don’t usually seem to mind the cake so much.  

Another twist in this whole scenario is the Little Dude. He’s fantastic, but also a sponge financially. He rarely picks up the tab when we go out to eat and never pays for gifts. Even when he makes homemade cards for his mother, I have to do all the writing.

So what should I do if I have limited funds and want to make sure Mrs. Dude gets the most special recognition that she truly deserves?  We all know the old saying “it’s the thought that counts”, so if I merely think about getting her really nice gifts, will that be sufficient?  I’m 1/3 of the way through this year’s triumvirate. My Mother’s Day earned decent reviews, with bonus points for fresh bagels and flowers, but now I have to top that and only have a few days to spare. Can you spot me a Benjamin?

What would you do if you were me?

read to be read at yeahwrite.me
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Rockin' Friday: Masterpiece

This week’s Rockin’ Friday tune of the week is a tribute to arguably the greatest lyricist of all time. Yesterday was Bob Dylan’s 71st birthday, so I picked When I Paint My Masterpiece as this week’s song.

Dylan’s masterpiece was written in, coincidentally, 1971 and received its’ initial release with accurate premonition on Dylan’s “Greatest Hits Volume II” album.  The song is Dylan’s retelling of his travel through Europe and the unusual things he experienced on a quest for creative nirvana.  That being said, he also shares a bit of homesickness as well:  

Sailin’ round the world in a dirty gondola

Oh, to be back in the land of Coca-Cola!

Masterpiece has a catchy chorus that the Little Dude likes singing along to. But it also has a strong message about seeking our place in the world.  That chorus can apply to many things in life, and is something I often think about, as it can apply to many situations:
Someday, everything is gonna be diff’rent

When I paint my masterpiece.

Masterpiece has also been recorded to great acclaim by The Band, Dylan’s backup crew, and was part of the regular repertoire of the Grateful Dead for many years as well.  Chris Whitley recorded a bluesy version for his final album. 

Grateful Dead 7/26/87

What's your favorite Dylan song?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Goodbye Grandma Fran

As I coast peacefully 6 miles above the Earth, I stare at the clouds and think of you.

It’s been 48 hours since I saw you lowered 6 feet below the Earth.

Your pine box the final resting spot in a life filled with homes of all shapes and sizes.

Eternal slumber near your long-gone parents.

Will you meet my mother again?

And finally learn of your only daughter’s cruel fate.

You had 90 years.

That is more than a blessing.

And you made the most of them.

Until robbed of your memories.

You fought until the end.

You will always be missed. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Blood Pressure

See what the machine says in bold type, Dada.
Do you need to check yours?

How would you caption this photo?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Are You Husband Enough?

Given the recent controversy spawned by TIME magazine’s sensationalistic cover story “Are You Mom Enough?” there has been a lot of public discourse on the merits of the cover photo. Perhaps even more than the article itself, which most pundits have claimed to have not read. Since I fit that criteria, I thought I’d chime in with my list of “10 Things Husbands Should Do”, or “Are You Husband Enough?”.  I realize that not all husbands are fathers and not all fathers are husbands, but I am both so here’s my list.  

10 Things Husbands Should Do

1)      Support their Spouses: In traditional contexts, this meant financially. Period. But it today’s society it means so much more. It means staying home with the kids while wives work. It means grocery shopping. It means a lot of things that would make Ward Cleaver roll over in his grave. But this is the year 2012 and as Bob Dylan said, “The Times, They Are A-Changing”.  

2)      Cooking: It may not be Wolfgang Puck quality, but as long as it’s better than Ronald McDonald makes, it’s probably good enough for at least once a week.

3)      Fix Stuff:  I’m Jewish, so I take a flier on this one. But on every TV show, it seems like the thing that husbands do. I’ll take their word for it.

4)      Negotiate Car Deals: We just need to coordinate that our wives wear appropriately low-cut tops while we do so. If car salesmen can play games with no rules, why can’t we?

5)      Hold Their Hands During Childbirth: We may be looking the other direction, and possibly checking game scores frantically texting relatives on our iPhones at the time, but we’ll be there.

6)      Share in childcare fun: Both parents should be able and willing to give their kids baths and change their diapers. For if they don’t, who knows how the reciprocity will work in 50 years?

7)      Kill Bugs: They might be big and nasty looking but it is our sworn responsibility to slaughter the creepy-crawlies that the Mrs. discovers crawling on the ceiling, inevitably just as you are about to go to bed. Otherwise she will be convinced that the almost-invisible-to-the-naked-eye arachnid she just spotted will leap from above to take a giant munch out of her neck like Dracula. (Note:  husbands are sometimes reluctant to do this in hopes that it’s the spider that bit Peter Parker and we may soon acquire Spidey Senses.)  

8)      Remember important dates: If you can’t remember your wife’s birthday, your anniversary or other key dates, you are an idiot.

9)      Be willing to alternate preferred entertainment with spouse’s:  I may sit through an awful romantic comedy every so often, but I will not be afraid to play Words With Friends while doing so.  

10)   Communicate: You may not always be together due to work or other commitments, so even when you can’t be there, be there. I have three different ways to videoconference with my wife on my iPhone. I think it can even make phone calls, too. Plus texting, email, etc. Just saying hello can sometimes make both your days. Especially if you are standing outside a strip club at the time away on business while she’s home with the kids.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rockin’ Friday: Here Comes The Sun

This week’s Rockin’ Friday tune is The Beatles’ Here Comes The Sun. Recorded for their classic Abbey Road album, this is an atypical Beatles songs as it is one of a small minority written and sung by George Harrison.   

England has a well-deserved reputation for being gray and gloomy, no matter the season. One spring day in 1969 Harrison was tired and fed up with what was going on around him at The Beatles' studio so he popped over to his pal Eric Clapton’s house to hang out. As he strolled Slowhand's garden strumming a guitar, this song was born.  

My Little Dude loves this tune. It has easy, repeatable choruses and a sweet acoustic melody. The lyrical message is a great one, too:

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Whether taken literally as an homage to Spring or as a metaphor for the evolution of happiness and spirit, it is inspirational and always brings a smile to my face.

Here's an All-Star version of HCTS.

What is your favorite Beatles song?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Lego Mitts

I'd like to play with my Lego bricks,
but currently have less dexterity than Edward Scissorhands.

How would you caption this pic?

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Bittersweet Mother's Day

Once when I was 7 or 8, I found a chocolate bar in my house. No one was around, or at least looking, so I tried it.  I can still recall the sharp-rich flavor from the first bite, then the harsh sourness as I chewed.  I probably thought to myself that I had taken a bad bite, so I tried again and received the same undesirable result.  I remember flipping the wrapper to see what it said, and it was a word I had never seen before: Bittersweet.  I didn’t know what the word meant at the time, other than “awful candy bar”, and it took me a long time but I know now.

Mother’s Day was this weekend and there are two very important mothers in my life: my own mother and my wife.  It is important to honor them both on this day. Their day. The one day of the year dedicated to celebrating how wonderful they are for having given themselves to their children and families. Even though we should really celebrate them 365 days a year. 

My wife is wonderful. She is not picky or demanding and is very laid back. My mother was always surprised by how calm Mrs. Dude is and has asked me countless times “Is that real? Is anyone really that chill?”  I can’t think of anyone who is more helpful, caring, nurturing or loving than my wife. She is now half-way through her/our second gestational journey and is still constantly chasing our 35-pound 2 ½ year old Little Dude with a smile on her face.

We had a wonderful weekend celebrating my wife and the superlative mother she is. It was not-surprisingly all low-key with quality spent time at the beach and the pool enjoying the weather and each other. We BBQed and played with our Little Dude. And it was amazing.

But honoring my own mother was more difficult. The only mother I know who might be more extraordinary than my wife is my own. From the moment she birthed my 11 lb. body, she was always willing to sacrifice for me. As the youngest of three kids, I was able to get a lot of quality time with her when I was younger, when my older siblings had grown up and gone to college. We spoke our own language and no one else really ever got it.  And that was OK with us.

What made this weekend hard is that I couldn’t call my mother to thank her for her tireless work over these last few decades. She lost her battle with breast cancer 16 months ago, so this was my second Mother’s Day without a mother to call or send a card to. And it sucked.

Living across the country for the last dozen years, most years I was not with my mother on Mother’s Day.  Now I would give anything to have just one of those missed opportunities back. To sit beside her and listen to stories of her pregnancy with me, when people constantly asked if she was having twins. Including her OB. (No joke). Stories that only she knew and I never had the foresight to ask her to record.  I try to recall as many as I can, but it gets harder with each passing day as my own child begins to occupy more of my limited available memory.

I really struggled with how to pay tribute to her now that she is no longer just a phone call away. Oftentimes when I would call her, she’d answer with “that’s good ESP”, meaning she was just thinking of me.  After a while I realized that it wasn’t a coincidence. I was constantly on her mind, as I’m sure my brother and sister were as well. For that’s what a great mother is about. Living for her children. Her family that she would do anything for and which keeps her up at night from birth until, well, until…

I guess the best way to pay tribute to my mother is to continue our ESP. For though I can no longer call her on the phone, all I really need to do is think of her and I know she’ll be there for me.  As she always has been and always will be.  Just as I know my wife will be for our son. From now until, well, until…

read to be read at yeahwrite.me
Come check out some amazing writers &
vote for your favorites on Thursday.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rockin’ Friday: Mother’s Day Edition

This Rockin’ Friday is a special one, as one of the most important days of the year is only two days away. Mothers’ Day is this Sunday and I want to pay tribute to those wonderful women we owe our lives to with a blossoming bouquet of musical treats. 

Rather than pick just one song, this week I’m going to highlight a few of my favorite songs about mothers. As I was trying to make my choice, I realized there were so many good options that it would be impossible. So like a good mother would I am recognizing a whole batch.

Without further ado, I present "The Dude’s Top 5 Mother Songs":

1)      Mama Tried: This Merle Haggard classic is a tale of a young man who committed a crime despite his mother’s best efforts to keep him on the straight and narrow. He realizes that he should have listened to her, but not until after he “turned 21 in prison, doing life without parole”. Mothers are wise, people, listen to them!

2)      Your Mother Should Know: Paul McCartney wrote this tribute to a mother’s wisdom for the Magical Mystery Tour album & movie. Though he basically calls her old (repeatedly), Macca suggests that we honor her by listening to a song that “your mother would know”.  Even if you don’t like the song, you can honor her by  dancing with her for a few minutes.

3)      That Was Your Mother: Paul Simon’s tells the tale to his child about the fun he and the child’s mother had before the child was born. Apparently they spent some wild times in Louisiana dancing to zydeco music and as a result, the kid was born. They must have stopped at Pat O'Briens.

4)      Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys:   Ed Bruce originally sang it, but Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson made this tale about the hard life of men in the old West famous. It is suggested that Mamas encourage their sons to become “doctors and lawyers and such” to avoid the loneliness of a life chasing cattle and horses around and wearing Levi’s. Not the worst advice I’ve heard.

5)      Mama Said Knock You Out: LL Cool J’s Mama told him to “knock out” all the critics who thought his career was over. That’s why he starts the song with “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years”. His Mama believed in him all the way and he had a career renaissance after this song came out.  Though he’s now on that CSI show that doesn’t look very good.

So what’s the message from all these songs? It’s pretty simple: Mothers are inherently wise. Listen to them and you will thrive. Mine suggested I start writing again, so I listened to her and here we are. I will forever be grateful.

What Mother related songs do you love? 
Or what songs remind you of your Mother?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We Are All Wild Things

As I mentioned in The Dude’s Guide to Surviving Your First Pregnancy, I suggest that expectant parents-to-be see a lot of movies in theaters before their little bundle of diaper-destruction arrives.  Mrs. Dude and I were regular theater-goers throughout our relationship until our Little Dude was born.  Since then, I think we’ve gone 3 times in 30 months, or about as often as Lindsay Lohan gets arrested.

We had a scheduled C-Section, thanks to a large breech baby with a short umbilical cord, so we knew when he’d arrive. During our last weekend of freedom, we went to see “Where The Wild Things Are”, the film adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic storybook. 

Though the movie was quite picturesque, what stood out most to me was how they managed to turn a book containing a total of 10 sentences into a movie 104 minutes long. Also notable, it featured larger-than-life animatronic monsters, one of which sounded exactly like Tony Soprano. 

"Max, let's grab some Gabagool & head to the Bing"
But Sendak’s tale of young Max and his quest to find his place in the world resonated with me. I’d read the book countless times as a child, but none in the last 30 or so years.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much I identified with Max. Like him, I left the familiar place I was raised (Ohio) where I often wore unique non-traditional attire (tie-dye shirts) and moved to a far-off land filled with Wild Things (Los Angeles). 

When I arrived in my new distant land, many things didn’t turn out as I expected. Like Max, I sought to become king of the wild things. And even though that hasn’t happened yet, like Max my journey continues. After more than a dozen years I’ve battled my share of monsters, attended numerous Wild Rumpuses and I’m still here to tell the tale.

Now as I raise my Little Dude, I look forward to the day that he gets to hear Sendak’s classic for the first time.  And I hope that he is not afraid to express his creativity and individuality, like Max, for better or worse.

Maurice Sendak died yesterday at the age of 83.  
May his stories continue to inspire little Wild Things for generations to come. 
Maurice Sendak (on the right) and a friend.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Listen Up!

Read my shirt, 
then get out of my way.

How would YOU caption this pic?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Do Real Dudes Wear Pink?

For the Little Dude’s 2nd birthday party, we hired a guy in an Elmo costume to entertain the kids for an hour.  As part of his shtick Elmo made balloon animals for the kids.  Since it was his birthday, the Little Dude got first choice and was very excited when he saw the rainbow of options laid out before him in cheap latex.  There were myriad options: blue, red, yellow, orange, green, pink, purple, and pretty much every other color on George Clinton's head.  If it were me, my first choice would always be blue. My son picked pink.  My heart sank.
George "Crayola" Clinton
The following week, at one of his friend’s birthday party, one of the goodie bag items was a bottle of Mr. Bubble pink foamy bubble bath. Seems harmless enough, right? After we introduced it to his bath routine a few days later, every night he was clamoring for “Mas Pinky!” (Side note: he uses “Mas”, which means “more” in Spanish, more than the actual English word “more” for some reason.)  When that bottle ran out, we replaced it with a bottle of blue Mister Bubble foam which he now refers to as “Blue Pinky!”

There have been a few more instances like this over the last few months, which made me start drilling down on this. What’s the problem, you ask?  I guess the manly man section of my psyche yearns for my son to be a manly man, too, and choose blue instead of pink.  Is it my “fault” that he likes pink? Did I do something wrong? Should I have covered him in fresh animal pelts as an infant instead of a soft silky blanket?

I did some research to find out why we associate blue with boys and pink with girls. I figured the tradition dated back hundreds of years and had a purpose-driven origin. I was quite surprised to learn it’s only been since WWII and that pink was originally associated with baby boys, because it was recognized as a stronger color. Light blue was seen as better for baby girls because it was “softer”.  Whatever that means.

As a Dude who grew up in the 1980s, you might think I would like pink.  Most of the movies I grew up watching featured either a very cool or very wicked male character (usually Andrew McCarthy or Rob Lowe) who was invariably dressed in a Preppy pink polo shirt.  But the Preppy style died down when the ‘80s ended and Grunge styling took over. I don’t remember Nirvana wearing much pink flannel during the early ‘90s.
Do you think John Locke isn't a Dude?
So should I be bothered that my son would pick a “girlie” color, if given the option?  At first, I was frustrated. I want him to like the things that I like. A big part of parenthood is teaching our offspring. That’s why I play him the music I like and why he has Ohio State memorabilia all over his room. It’s not that I don’t like pink. It’s just that it’s not blue, which is my favorite color*.

The Little Dude’s affinity for pink is merely that: something that is pleasing to his senses. Does it make him  any less of a Dude? Not at all. I don’t understand why he would ever choose to eat 3 plain rice cakes instead of pizza, but I don’t think that makes him any less of a Dude either. 

After thinking about all of these factors, I think it really just means he’s more creative for looking outside of the box. He is very artistic in many ways so this is probably just an extension of how his unique mind works.  I don’t want him to be a conformist anyway, so I give him credit for blazing a Dudely new trail. Even if it leaves pink dust behind it.

I tried to think of things that I like that are pink and came up with a short list:

Pink Ribbons: Enough said. 
Pink Floyd: If you don’t eat your meat, how can you have any pudding?
Pink Panther: Not the crappy Steve Martin version, though.
Pink Lemonade: Though I have yet to encounter a pink lemon...
Pink’s Hot Dogs: Though their lines are always atrocious, the dogs are top notch.   
Pink Houses:  Ain’t that America? 

What pink things do you like? Leave a comment below with your favorites.
*=Is it strange for a grown man to have a favorite color? Or just to admit it?

I'm linking up with the amazing Yeah Write crew again this week.
Go check out some great blogs
and vote for your faves on Thursday.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Rockin' Friday: La Bamba

For this week’s Rockin’ Friday tune, I wanted to pay tribute to a holiday that many people will be celebrating tomorrow: Cinco de Mayo. A common misconception is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, but that is actually September 16th. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, as well as a commemoration of the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

Now that our history lesson is out of the way, let’s talk about today’s song. I wanted something upbeat, fun and festive, as many people celebrate Cinco de Mayo with grande fiestas. So I chose Ritchie Valens’ La Bamba. Technically it’s a classic Mexican folk song, but Valens made it famous so he gets credit here.

Many of us don’t speak Spanish, just as Valens didn’t (he was born in LA and his grandmother had to teach him the classic Mariachi tune’s lyrics phonetically). Just to clarify, here are the lyrics in both English & Spanish:

Para bailar La Bamba. Para bailar La Bamba se necessita una poca de gracia.
Una poca de gracia y otra cosita y arriba y arriba.
Ay! Arriba y arriba. Por ti sere por ti sere por ti sere.
Yo no soy marinero. Yo no soy marinero, soy capitan, soy capitan, soy capitan.

And the English translation:
To dance La Bamba. To dance La Bamba you need to be a little bit funny.
A little bit funny and another little thing -- get going, get going!(literally 'get up and get up')
Ay! Get going, get going. I'll be for you, I'll be for you, I'll be for you.
I'm not a sailor. I'm not a sailor, I'm a captain, I'm a captain, I'm a captain.

To me, that means the singer wants to dance and let loose. He’s also assertive and knows how to have a good time. How do you interpret those lyrics?

Check out this version of La Bamba by Los Lobos who helped bring not only the song, but also Ritchie Valens’ legacy, back to life in 1987 when his biopic was released.

What other Mexico-themed songs can you think of in honor of Cinco de Mayo?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

(DDS) Saints Are Sinners: Isn't It Ironic?

Hey gang,

My latest contribution to Draft Day Suit is locked and loaded. I'd really appreciate if you'd go check out my list of ironies in the sports world. Don't worry, I know what ironic means. Unlike Alanis Morissette. 

Check out "Saints are Sinners: Isn't It Ironic?". You'll be glad you did. 
And leave a comment, it'll make me look good to the boss. 


The Dude
"World Peace" doesn't look very peaceful. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Model in Training

Where's the camera crew? 
I don't have all day.

How would you caption this photo?