Friday, June 29, 2012

Rockin' Friday: July 4th Edition

For this last Friday in June, with our nation’s birthday just a few days away, I had a hard time picking a song to commemorate July 4th and America. So I picked a few, all of which have very kid friendly choruses that make singing along a lot of fun. 

American Pie: Don McLean’s masterpiece is about the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper in 1959 but also about growing up in the 1960s and the evolution and events of the USA during that period.

Born in the USA: Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 classic is often perceived as a very American or patriotic song, which in a way it is, but it’s really about one man’s attempt to reacclimate himself into society after returning from the Vietnam War.  My Little Dude loves shouting “USA” during the chorus of this tune.

                                                Born in the USA, live in Paris. Irony, anyone?
US Blues: This Grateful Dead jam is, unlike the two previous songs, a very upbeat and silly song. It namechecks countless American icons and repeatedly urges us to “Wave that Flag, wave it wide and high…” That sounds pretty patriotic to me.

What songs make you think of America and/or July 4th??

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Lion

Yes, I'm having fun.
No, I'm not lyin'.

How would you caption this pic? Leave a comment below...

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Cracked A Century

Today marks a special day around this Dude’s house.  What you are reading is my 100th blog post. When I started doing this I never thought I’d hit 10 posts, let alone 100. In fact, I wrote 10 my very first month and thought that I’d exhausted my creativity. But somehow I’ve cranked out another 90 posts and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve read at least one of them. If not, I suggest you go back to the beginning and read each one in order. It will be almost as exhilarating as watching an old lady write a check for a gallon of milk at the supermarket, I can promise you that.
Thanks for your support, Wilt!
As you undoubtedly know from My Favorite Season: TV, I am a sitcom buff. If such a thing exists.  And if you watch sitcoms, you know they always hype the 100th episode, because that helps them reach syndication and ensures that the producers’ grandkids’ college is paid for. The episode is rarely as exciting as the buildup, yet I’m utilizing the same teaser strategy for this post.

So while thinking of a topic for this post, I remembered that I’ve been honored by not 1, not 2, but 3 bloggers with awards lately. Since very few bloggers get paid, many give each other awards as recognition for amazing writing or to avoid chain letter curses.

I recently received awards from 2 ladies, who rock my world every week with their humor, thoughtfulness and, most importantly, passion for snark.

The awesome Zannah from Write, Rinse, Repeat gave me the Kreative Blogger Award. (And yes, it’s ironically misspelled like that.)  Zannah is a sweet Southerner who is very inspiring to me as a writer. Partially because she is like a younger, female Larry David who says the things everyone wants to say, but few ever do.  And she’s very tan.  

The amazing Sarcasm Goddess from For the Love of Writing presented me with the Very Inspirational Blogger Award. SG is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, coated in a layer of thick-cut bacon. She is a thought provoking writer about some serious stuff and also about how she hates playing kickball. She also loves bacon. A lot. Like most people like oxygen. I believe it is her edible muse.  

So those two ladies, and someone else that I can’t remember or find the link to, gave me awards recently. I guess they think I’m a good writer or something. These things usually come with stipulations.  They usually ask you to fill out some questions, list 10 random things about yourself and then select some other bloggers to receive the award to keep the chain letter ghosts from getting you.  So I’ll do just that.

The questions, directly from Write, Rinse Repeat are:

1)      What is your favorite song: Lately, The Weight by The Band. Though that could change in 5 minutes. It tells a great story in an eloquent way. And has a great chorus, too.
2)      What’s your favorite desert? Probably Mojave. But if the question is intended to ask about my favorite dessert, as most people answer it, I’d go with Banana Cream Pie.
3)      What do you do when you are upset? Depends on the cause. Usually, I honk my horn at the person who cut me off.
4)      Which is your favorite pet? Sort of a trick question, as I’ve only really ever had one.
5)      Which do you prefer, White or Whole Wheat? Whole Wheat is healthier, so I tend to lean in that direction. Not that I generally eat healthy otherwise.
6)      What is your your biggest fear?  That I’ll write a word twice in something tons of people will read, notice and laugh at me.
7)      What is your attitude mostly? Sarcastic. Duh.

Here’s the point where I’m supposed to list 10 random things about myself. Wouldn’t you know it that I just did that for a post not too long ago? Check ‘em out here!

11 Bloggers who I think deserve awards:
Zannah listed 7 bloggers and Sarcasm Goddess listed 15, so I’m going right in the middle with 11. They are amazing writers and good friends. Even though I’ve never met them in real life. Their writing inspires me to become a better writer. They make me laugh and I think one almost brought me to tears. Once. Check ‘em out:

Louise at Raising Ivy
Adrienne at The Mommy Mess
Kimberly at Sperk*
Jen at Kvetch Mom
Michelle at The Journey

To the winners, here’s what you need to do now:
1)      Thank and Link back to the blog you awarded you (i.e. me)
2)      Answer the 7 questions above
3)      List 10 random facts about yourself
4)      Pick 11 bloggers to pass one of the 2 awards listed above to
5)      Buy me a new car (optional)

I could have listed 50 more, but here’s a sampling for you of some of my favorites. I hope you’ll check them out and tell them I said hello. They might even buy you a drink.

Thanks for checking out my first 100. Here’s to the next hundred (gasp)!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rockin' Friday: California Girls

This week marks the beginning of summer and so for this week’s Rockin’ Friday blog post I chose a tune by the ultimate summer time band, The Beach Boys. Currently touring the country as part of their 50th Anniversary Tour, the Beach Boys are now past retirement age but still going strong. In fact Brian Wilson just turned 70 on the first day of summer, June 20th.
Beach Boys, circa 1965
I wanted to pick a song that really gave the feel of summer, so I chose California Girls. It’s a classic tune from 1965 that Brian Wilson wrote (not surprisingly) after a bad LSD trip.  He talks about the merits of the girls from all over the country: East Coast, Midwest, Northern, Southern and they all are superlative. But nothing will ever compare to his native California girls.
Beach Boys 2012
Since my Little Dude is a California boy, I hope that he’ll be as lucky someday as I was to snag a California girl of his own. In the meantime, he’ll settle for digging this song as we cruise up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu.

What songs make you think of Summer?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

HuffPo? Who, me?

I didn't want to tell you until it became official but earlier today one of my favorite posts, The Dude's Guide to your First Pregnancy, was published on THE HUFFINGTON FREAKIN' POST!
No, it wasn't in the business section, but rather the Parenting page.

It'd mean a lot to me if you would CLICK HERE to check out the post and even more if you would leave a comment on the HuffPo page. That might help me get on the site again in the future. Then you could tell people you know a famous person: me.

Thanks in advance for your clicks and for your ongoing support of this little page. It means the world to me.

Profile Picture
The Huffington Post

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: I-H-O-P

Hey, I know those letters.
I want to go to there.

How would you caption this photo?

Monday, June 18, 2012

What Judd Apatow Taught Me About Parenting

There’s a scene in the 2007 movie Knocked Up where Paul Rudd’s character Pete (a married father of 2) and Seth Rogen’s character Ben (unwed father-to-be from a one-night-stand) are watching Pete’s two daughters playing excitedly at a park as the older one blows bubbles. The girls and some friends are laughing and having a great time.  Ben and Pete have this exchange:  

They seem to love bubbles.

They go ape-shit over bubbles.

They’re really going ape-shit.

That’s an incredible thing about a child. What’s so great about bubbles?

They float. You can pop them. I mean, I get it. I get it.

I wish I liked anything as much as my kids like bubbles.

That’s sad.

It’s totally sad. Their smiling faces just point out your inability to enjoy anything.

When Knocked Up was originally released in 2007, I was a few weeks from getting married and 2+ years from becoming a parent. Yet the quoted interaction that I mentioned from the movie has stuck with me for 5 years, even though it wasn’t really relevant to me at the time of my first viewing.

Now that I’m 2 ½ years into this parenting gig, I know that what both Pete and Ben said is very true.  Kids are amazing because they can find joy in just about any situation presented to them. Whether chasing bubbles in the wind, pushing a grocery cart or receiving a balloon while at a store or restaurant, kids manage to find sheer bliss in what most adults generally consider to be mundane activities.

When I go to the grocery store it’s usually to get milk, cereal or whatever else we need for the house. It’s a task, not a party. But for my Little Dude going to Ralphs is an adventure. An opportunity to steer a massive steel robot on wheels through narrow aisles while avoiding bumping into old ladies (usually). 

So when does one’s focus shift? When does that simple bliss become a mindless task? I don’t know that there’s any event that can be easily pinpointed as the culprit, but I do know that it’s easy to get lost in a world of work, hectic schedules and “Draw Something”.  But the key is to figure out what is really important? Is it that Triple Word Score in Words with Friends? Or taking a 2 year old for an ice cream cone? (Believe me, I am guilty of the former more than I’ve eagerly done the latter.)

As hard as the mindset change has been, I have been trying to be more present with my Little Dude.  And I mean present figuratively, literally isn’t a problem. When he’s running up and down the hallway, I am chasing him. Not just checking out baseball scores on my iPhone until he makes a return lap to where I’m standing.   If he’s having a great time then I want to, too.  For he’ll remember that when he’s older, when he has a family of his own, much more than I’ll remember whether the Cleveland Indians won or lost a meaningless game.

So during this Father’s Day season, maybe we should be taking lessons from our little ones when thinking about what really makes us happy and not think about it. Just let it be.
And don’t forget to blow some bubbles. 

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Rockin' Friday: Yakety Yak

This week’s Rockin’ Friday song has been the toughest one for me to choose in the several months I’ve been doing this.  When applicable, I try to select something timely (holiday, newsworthy events, etc.) and choose a related song. But today is my mother’s birthday and this is the second year that she isn’t around for me to wish her a happy birthday. Or at least if I do talk to her, she won’t talk back.

I went through dozens of ideas while trying to select a song and ultimately I picked one that reminded me of time we shared when I was young. As the youngest of 3 kids, I was the last one who needed to be driven around town in her big Buick station wagon with the fake-wood paneling on the sides. We shared a lot of quality time together. She loved music. She loved to sing the songs from her youth,  and as a baby boomer she was a child of the 1950s.  One song that she always liked was The Coasters’ Yakety Yak.

I hadn’t thought of the song in that context before, (at least consciously) because I started playing Yakety Yak for my own Little Dude close to a year ago. It’s short, fast and doesn’t contain a lot of tricky words. I guess that sort of describes him, too.

The song is about the punishment a kid will incur if he doesn’t do things he’s tasked with. And it does contain the ultimate parental order as part of its’ refrain:

Yakety Yak, Don’t talk back!

Happy Birthday. I wish you could talk back.
My mother & me, 2008

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kings of LA? - (DDS)

My latest post at Draft Day Suit is up and waiting for you!

It’s a look at how the LA Kings just won the Stanley Cup & most locals didn’t even notice.

Thanks for your support! (unlike what the locals give the Kings)

"I want to fill this with Zima!"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Life of Dude

With Father’s Day coming up, the great Life of Dad website is running a “30 Days of Dads” series, profiling a different father-ish blogger each day. And lo and behold, they picked me for one of the days. I know, it’s almost as hard to believe as that that’s not butter.  

CLICK HERE to check out my brief interview about what makes me such an amazing parent.

And my required drink of choice to help me get through the days.

Thanks to Tommy for including me in this series!

You should definitely follow Life of Dad on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Kermit

I know what you mean, Kermit.
It's definitely not easy being green.

How would you caption this picture?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dude vs Nature

I’m admittedly not an outdoorsy person. I went to sleep-away camp for many summers as a kid and my least favorite experience every single year was the night we had to hike into the woods, roll out our sleeping bags in the dirt and actually go camping. Yes, nature is beautiful, wonderful, etc. I’d just rather observe it while driving by in an air-conditioned vehicle. 

So when I received an email inviting my family to a KOA Blogger Event, I was excited. Then I Googled “KOA” to see what it was. If you don’t know, as I didn’t, KOA stands for “Kampgrounds of America” which is a company that franchises campgrounds throughout the US. Knowing absolutely nothing about camping, I assumed people just walked into the woods, popped tents and did their thing. I now know those people are usually known as vagabonds or hobos.  

After learning what KOA was, however, I figured this event wasn’t for us. To me, roughing it means staying at a Hilton that doesn’t offer a full breakfast buffet. Then I looked at the KOA website and saw that this wasn’t just camping. It was “glamping”. And yes, that’s a real term people use, meaning "glamour camping".  While there are traditional campsites for people who enjoy sleeping on dirt, many KOAs also offer luxury cabins, teepees and other amenities that are the antithesis of “roughing it”.

The event was being held the weekend of Mrs. Dude’s birthday, so I figured that’d be a good reason not to go.  Since neither of us could be considered “outdoorsy” by anyone other than an agoraphobic, I figured the birthday girl would nix the offer. But then again, it’s been so long since we’ve had a real vacation that I would’ve considered a getaway to Siberia if it was free. Lo and behold, when I told Mrs. Dude she said we should do it. (Camping, not Siberia.)

I really didn’t know what to expect as we trekked the 50-something miles to KOA Ventura Ranch. Frankly, I was surprised to learn that there is real-live nature so close to where we live. Nestled in the mountains near the town of Ojai, CA, I was captivated by the beauty of the surroundings as soon as we entered the area. And not just because there wasn’t a McDonalds or Starbucks in sight.    

We drove to our “Comfort Cabin” and unloaded enough stuff for a week, even though we were only staying 24 hours:

We had a queen-size bed, full bathroom, mini-fridge, microwave and air-conditioning. (It wouldn't be camping without artificial air.)  And to top it off, literally, was a loft area where our Little Dude could play, hang out and sleep.  He thought it was the coolest thing ever. I did, too, until I cracked my head on the super-low ceiling for the first time. 

As you can see, they maximized the cabin space by limiting the width of the staircase leading to the loft:  

We wanted to explore the property a bit before dinner and since their pool is under construction, we wandered down to the creek. I already felt like a figurative fish-out-of-water by this experience, and that was compounded when I found myself surrounded knee-deep by literal fish-in-water.  Schools of tiny white minnows fluttered in the clear water as we walked by. I could almost feel their sliminess through the water:

The Little Dude was having so much fun he almost had to be dragged out of the water. And not just because his non-waterproof diaper bloated when immersed and weighed about 11 lbs.  

With a new diaper in place we headed to the recreation area. They had a giant jumping pillow, but after he nearly got catapulted off by an overeager tween’s flying leap, he’d had enough.  He was too small for the rock wall and most of the other activities, but was eager to ride the peddle bikes with me. I can’t remember the last time I rode a bike in general, and am pretty sure I’ve never done it with a 35-lb lump sitting on my lap. As we navigated the dirt path, the Little Dude cackled with delight while my legs burned in agony. 

At dinner KOA buttered us up, literally, with rich buttercream. They got a special cupcake-cake in honor of Mrs. Dude’s birthday:

Thankfully my child/picky eater, who declined the hosted BBQ dinner, wolfed down two cupcakes in his mother’s honor. And looked like Heath Ledger’s Joker in the process:

Our amenities were very comfortable and our son was so tired from his fun day that he crashed on the loft for 10+ hours. After he passed out Mrs. Dude and I ended up talking, which is apparently an evening activity that people utilized in the old days.  In our attempts to connect with nature, we’d left our laptops at home. Who would have known that a 75-acre campground had Wi-Fi? Thankfully our iPhones had full service. 

Since you are reading this, you know that we survived our night in the wilderness.  And much more pleasantly than I ever would have imagined.  I've stayed in motels in big cities with much scarier accommodations and  surroundings than this. Considering the closest I normally get to nature is buying Girl Scout Cookies every year, I am glad to know that glamping exists.  Even if I had to venture all the way into nature to experience it.

Disclosure: KOA hosted us at Ventura Ranch and provided a cabin, meals and more fresh air than an Angeleno is used to. This post is entirely my opinion.  
For more info or to find the nearest KOA campground, please visit

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Rockin' Friday: Sugar Magnolia

As Paul McCartney sang in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “It was 20 years ago today…”.  No, Sgt. Pepper is not this week’s Rockin’ Friday song, but it is kind of tangentially related.  Twenty years ago today my friend Rick took me to my first Grateful Dead concert.  As those in the loop would say, that’s the day I got “on the bus”.

Now two decades later the music’s never stopped for me.  I’ve been to roughly 60 or 70 Dead-related shows since then. I felt it was apropos that this week’s Rockin Friday tune is one that I heard at my first show: Sugar Magnolia.

Sugar Magnolia is a great rock song about the cool things the singer’s loving girlfriend does for him. Basically he says that she is awesome and lists the reasons why. The song was inspired by guitarist Bob Weir’s then-girlfriend, Frankie. 

The chorus gives a little insight into just how sweet Bob’s lady friend was:

She's got everything delightful
She's got everything I need
Takes the wheel when I'm seeing double
Pays my ticket when I speed

Sounds like a keeper to me.

Sugar Magnolia was the Dead’s second most played song in their 30-year touring career. It's an upbeat tune with fun lyrics and one that my Little Dude definitely enjoys rocking along to while we cruise down the road in my four-wheel drive SUV, (which is unfortunately not the Willys Jeep that Bob sings about).

Did you ever see the Grateful Dead live? If so, how many times?  
Have any good stories to share? Leave a comment below...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What to Expect When You See a Movie About Pregnancy

As I mentioned in The Dude’s Guide to Surviving Your First Pregnancy, I recommend parents see as many movies in theaters as they can before their kids arrive. In over 2 ½ years, I had gone to 3 movies until a few days ago when I added another notch to my comfort-fit elastic belt. 

There’s been tons of movies I’ve wanted to see since the Little Dude was hatched but with the cost of tickets, food and a babysitter almost equal to the Gross National Product of Iceland we usually defer viewing until it’s on cable, video or, most likely, never. These are the sacrifices we make for our children.

Speaking of children, what fine piece of cinema did we break our year-long streak with? The film adaptation of What to Expect When you are Expecting.  As I mentioned in the link in the first paragraph, I urge people not to read that book while pregnant (not that you’d read it any other time), because it is filled with horror stories that will frighten people into abstinence.   

I was curious how a medical-fact based non-fiction book would be turned into a fictionalized movie.  Turns out they went with a tried and true formula: hire some popular actors (Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison, Jennifer Lopez, Chace Crawford), write a bunch of vignettes that kinda-sorta-but-not-really intertwine in a forced manner and finally throw in some comic relief (Chris Rock) to drop zingers in the trailer to make sure guys will want to watch it.

This formula has been popular for a several years dating back to Love Actually, which was actually a very entertaining movie.  However, the formula has become more worn out than a one-legged pirate’s kickstand through nonsensical tripe like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. I can’t imagine we are that far from seeing Arbor Day: The Musical or a mini-series about March Madness.  And as long as Jessica Biel and/or Zac Efron star, they should do fine.

So back to the WTEWYAE movie, it featured an all-star cast and a no-star plot.  My question on how they could turn this semi-clinical book into a movie was answered when I realized after it ended that they simply picked a handful of pregnancy clich├ęs and added a few "punchlines" to them. It was also obvious what their motivation was when you notice that the four main characters who are pregnant in the movie are all played by actresses who've never given birth before. How about showing some real women for a change, Hollywood?

Pregnancy is an amazing experience. Having been through it completely once and now halfway through my second  turn, I am in awe of what the female body can endure and how it transforms as it takes a bunch of goop and makes a person out of it.  If they sold a machine that did that at Sharper Image, well, they might not have gone bankrupt.  But the screenwriters here felt compelled to fill the movie with obvious jokes about sore boobs and farting. Yes, those are real pregnancy side effects but this movie could have sold them in much more creative ways.  

One thing in the trailer that made me want to see the movie was the “Dudes Group” storyline about a bunch of fathers who hang out at the park together with their infants, none of who apparently ever needs a diaper change.  That was actually a little surprising since Chris Rock had most of the funny lines in the movie, which I’d think might make some of the toddlers laugh so hard they’d wet their little designer pants. I appreciate that the film recognized that fathers do often play a vital role in raising children these days, but somehow these Dudes just weren’t believable.  Another case of the media portraying Fathers as morons. 
Any guy who doesn't know how to hold a baby is a dope. 
I had higher hopes for this film, though I don’t see many movies so maybe this is considered quality these days. Now that I know that what to expect when going to the theater is a lot of worn out gags, I will expect that next time I see a film. Most likely around June, 2013. 

Did you see this movie? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Bigfoot

It may not fit now, 
but it won't be long.

How would you caption this picture?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Old Man at The Sea

Mrs. Dude and I started taking the Little Dude to the beach last summer when he was a year and a half old.  We wanted it to be a fun experience for our whole family.  It costs about a million dollars less than going to Disneyland, which is a good start.

The coast in LA is usually very overcast in the morning before the marine layer burns off. That’s a fancy way of saying it’s usually cold and gray until after noon, which perfectly describes our visit. As a result, the beach was nearly empty when we arrived.  

We picked a spot near the lifeguard tower, and then set up our blankets, coolers and toys.  The only thing missing was the sun. Fortunately we brought sweatshirts because it was a brisk 62 degrees out.  It felt like being sequestered with Ben and Jerry, or rather in one of their freezers.

We met the young stoner  lifeguard who was hanging out in the adjacent tower on one of our 87 trips up and down his ramp, which he didn’t seem to mind. Or he may have just been a little too dazed and confused to notice on this early Saturday morning.

After a while I noticed a group of 8 teenagers come in with a stack of 8 pizza boxes and set up camp about 75 feet away from us. There were a couple dorky guys who were shamelessly trying to impress the girls in the group.  I had to watch them to see if the kid who looked like a 95-pound String Bean with bad acne would be swept away by a strong gust of wind.

Also, with such a small group I wondered what the deal was with all the pizzas.

After a while, Mrs. Dude and my Little Dude were off exploring the water when I noticed one of the teen girls wearing jeans, boots and a hoodie, lying on the sand trying to get comfortable.  It wasn’t sunny out, so she wasn’t going to get tan even if she hadn’t been dressed for the Alaskan apocalypse. Her friends then covered her up with a blanket.  What were these dopes were up to?

Once she was fully covered, they started covering the blanket with slices of pizza. I think they wanted to see if the seagulls hovering nearby were lactose intolerant. Surprisingly, after a few minutes no birds came. Then I noticed the pizzas were from Domino’s, so I guess it shouldn’t have been a big surprise.

So the String Bean Kid decided to kick things up a notch. He started tossing slices. He was throwing toward the water and a slew of birds flocked toward the greasy slice of goopy cardboard he’d pitched. Since his splotchy face closely resembled his flying objects, he had to try harder to impress the girls who were busy reading their US Weeklys. What would he do?

Their group was about 75 feet away from us, parallel to the water. A few birds had landed between our blanket and theirs and were gnawing on some crust when String Bean decided to offer them another slice. So he reeled back and with all his might threw the slice toward them. He must have had a burst of adrenaline as the slice way overshot the birds and landed about 2 feet from me, right on my blanket.

Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled. The teens all saw what happened. I think their first thought was “is this guy going to be cool or what?” The correct answer was “or what”.

I stared at String Bean who was frozen among his friends. I stood from my lounge chair, which is hard to look cool while doing, and sternly told him to come over. He started moving in my direction, but appeared to be taking his time, to show off for his friends. I told him that he better start running. His Marinara-face turned Alfredo-white as he moved double speed to my blanket, not sure what was going to happen when he arrived.
I ordered him to clean up his mess. His voice cracked as he nervously apologized. I think the fact that I was more than double his size and age may have caused him to wet himself. Fortunately he was wearing a bathing suit which provided good water retention.

My gaze turned back to his group. I saw his friends laughing at him as he moped back toward them.  His fantasy of impressing the girls likely squelched for that day. I smirked to myself, before a realization hit me. In an instant I had turned into every grumpy old man from every movie ever. All this time I’ve thought I was a fun young Dude. But today I became the Old Man at the Sea.  

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