Things I’m currently in love with:

Things I currently despise:

Oh, and due to my current baby-induced vacation, please check out the terrific number of movies I’ve seen lately on the updated (practically daily!) Spoiler-Free Movie Reviews page.  See you in the funny papers!

Memorial Day

I’ll never be accused of being the most patriotic of citizens, but I do have a sentimental streak that’s wider than the nearest river.  I tend to wax ooey-gooey over the slightest of events anymore…wedding toasts, home makeover shows, song lyrics, etc.  Memorial Day for me is just the right mix of patriotism and nostalgia.  We take the time to remember those who have fought, ostensibly, for our freedom.   And, then we go and have beer and bratwurst to honor their memory.  My sister A. and I, until recently, had a fairly significant role in a local memorial service.  It was a very low budget affair put on by an American Legion post at a local cemetery.  It started back in 1995 when a church friend, himself a veteran of WWII, asked us to sing at this service.  And, for 13 years, we marched out among rarely visited graves to belt out the National Anthem and a couple of other hastily chosen hymns that hinted at patriotic fare.  I’ll admit that we disliked it.  It broke up our day off and there was very little recognition in it.  Still, it was a good deed for a friend and how do you say no to someone whose war wounds leave him crippled when your only good excuse is that you’d rather stay in bed?

None of this is to say, however, that I don’t believe fervently that every man and woman killed in combat, be they military or civilian, doesn’t deserve to be recognized, lauded, and memorialized for their efforts.  These individuals made a terrible sacrifice for a common cause, in most cases, and it’s the very least that I can do to show some amount of appreciation.  To that end, I’d like to close this post with part of a poem by Walt Whitman that bears a little witness to what I can do to honor those who’ve gone before on this Memorial Day.

Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night

Vigil strange, I kept on the field one night;

When you my son and my comrade dropt at my side that day.

Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battle-field spreading,

Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet there in the fragrant silent night,

But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh, long, long I gazed,

Then on the earth partially reclining sat by your side leaning my chin in my hands,

Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you dearest comrade — not a tear, not a word,

Vigil of silence, love and death, vigil for you my son and my soldier,

As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones upward stole,

I rose from the chill ground and folded my soldier well in his blanket,

And buried him where he fell.


B-dang!  I was on an absolute tear to start this month.  5 posts in 5 days…and then, zip!  Nothing!  I mean, it was like I’d gone into the witness protection program.

Now, I’ll go ahead and admit that part of that was due to IvyCat Aside: My own personal nickname for my new daughter and her subsequent needs and desires.  Babies are no joke.  They need feeding, changing, bathing, attention and, most of all, love!  C. and I have been tag teaming like Superfly Snuka and Junkyard Dog with the daily activities of our new little one and it has been an absolute rush.  I gotta be honest…I’m better at this than I thought I would be.  I was a little nervous because, y’know, babies don’t come with manuals.  Heck, they don’t even come with fortunes wrapped in a cookie with some sage advice.  But, I was born to rock babies in this rocking chair y’all!  I’m basically at one with the Force on this one, rocking her to sleep and listening to her soft, but insistent, grunts and snorts that substitute for communication.

As well, it didn’t help that we had to go back to the hospital on Monday of this week when IvyCat turned up hypothermic with no weight gain and light eating patterns at the pediatrician’s office.  So, what started out as a one-hour trip to the doctor ended up being a 48-hour stay at the hospital.  Kids…you can’t live with ’em!  So, after the urinalysis (which required a catheter), blood tests and antibiotics (which required an IV Aside: ooh, good one.  Get it, IV, Ivy…oh, shuddup!) and the ever popular LP (pronounced lumbar puncture, which she totally slept through)…turns out, she just needed to learn to eat better.  On top of all this, C. got sick while we were at the hospital.  She was shivering violently through Jeopardy…and not because I was beating her to all the answers…and she still has a wicked cough that they can’t give her anything for since she’s nursing Ivy.  So, if you’ve managed to follow along, on Tuesday night, I was watching two sick girls, one on a monitor and one on a pull out couch and I covered both admirably if I do say so myself.  C. called me a superhero, which you know does wonders for my self-esteem.

Anyway, what I came to talk about is why’n the hell did you, yes you Intertubes, let all this crazy shenanigans go down while I was otherwise engaged.  Let me recap:

  • Some blonde girl and Douche Trump were kissing each other’s rears on CNN because she answered a dumb question, from a dumb judge, during a dumb pageant and the whole world went dumb about it because they can’t decide what they hate more: gay marriage or nude pictures.  Seriously, why was this news?  Who gives a flying crapola what she thinks?  Is she some sort of enlightened guru who merely poses as a beauty queen?  Doubtful.
  • A U.S. soldier goes ape shit because his mind literally can’t handle the strain of being in combat for so many tours in a row and he kills 5 other soldiers.  Tell me this…would it not have been more mathematically convenient for the Army to agree that this guy needed serious counseling and therapy and just send him home, replacing him with one person, rather than having to replace five men/women and have to admit to their families that they should’ve known better?  Because, they should’ve known better.  We’ve known about PTSD since, I don’t know…the Battle of Marathon in 490BCE Aside: it’s true, look it up.  Documented by Herodotus apparently!  We’ve got treatment for it, but hey…let’s just go ahead and kill each other while we’re trying to kill the insurgents.  Um, that is why we’re there, right?
  • Nancy Pelosi stuck her foot in her mouth and has it wedged in there so tight that she’s having a hard time getting it out.  But, I think the problem is, she’s trying to use the other foot to push the first one out.  We all know politicians are dishonest.  Sometimes that’s how they get to be where they are.  If they weren’t dishonest, they’d never make it off the PTA.  I don’t know what she knew when she knew it, but she does and it would help if she’d get her story straight before talking about it in public.
  • Dear students of Notre Dame, let it go!  Barack Obama is president and deserves an honorary degree no less than any other high muckity-muck you’ve had speak at your hallowed institution.  Just because you have a huge mural of Jesus in the endzone doesn’t make you greater than the rest of us.  Trust me, I’m betting that any number of your previous speakers have had similar views on abortion and a host of other things you disagree with…but they all came and went without fanfare.  But, if you really don’t want to participate in your own college graduation because some guy, whose speech you won’t remember because you got absolutely lit the night before, disagrees with you on unborn babies, then I think you’re going to find that your close-minded view of the world is going to really cut down on your career choices.

So, to sum up, Intertubes, try not to let the world go to hell the next time I need a couple days off.  Fer cryin’ out loud, it was only 10 days and I was busy.  Keep an eye on things next time.

See you in the funny papers!

Ivy Catherine

You’ve all been so patient…waiting for the new baby, waiting to hear the name, waiting for me to post some pictures.  Well, here she is…Ivy Catherine was born at 8:18 p.m. on 5/4/09 Aside: Yes, I had her born on Star Wars Day on purpose. She weighed 7lbs. and 3 oz. and was 19.5 inches long.

Ivy and Carrie

I'm awake!

Mom and Daughter cuddle

…and that is what has made my life even better!

See you in the funny papers!

May the Fourth be with you!

I wait an entire year to use that pun.  It’s almost the perfect pun: wordplay, Star Wars, makes my wife’s eyes roll, normal people get it right away, etc.

Speaking of Star Wars, don’t you sometimes wish you could wave your hand like Obi-Wan and get people to do/not do the things that you don’t want them to do.  Now, I realize that this falls into a category that sounds suspiciously like the dark side.  And, I get it, really, I mean, I’d be using it all the time for minor stuff because I don’t have the discipline to be a Jedi.  I’d be too easily swayed by getting my own way.  <hand wave>You want to make me chocolate chip cookies for no reason</hand wave> Plus, how big of a nerd am I that I just used HTML code to signify a Jedi mind trick?  You be the judge.

Take yesterday for instance, I can think of no less than 3 things where I would’ve used the Jedi mind trick.  

  1. You do not want to give that rambling sermon.
  2. You do want to be born today. Aside: Seriously, when is this baby coming? Is it wrong to use Jedi mind tricks on babies?
  3. You do not want to steal a base against the Red Sox. Carl Crawford…aka THE FLASH!

Plus, that whole using the Force to levitate things would make laundry so much easier.  And, with a lightsaber to mow the lawn!?  Seriously, just call me the domestic Jedi!

See you in the funny papers!

I believe I can fly…

We are all of us obliged, if we are to make reality endurable, to nurse a few little follies in ourselves. ~ Marcel Proust from “Remembrance of Things Past

Sometimes there are moment in our lives where, in the face of rationality, we cling to the irrational.  This is why people who are down on their luck financially buy lottery tickets.  It’s the very reason that superstitions arise from seemingly nowhere.  It’s the reason that I imagine that the new Star Wars films (not including that animated Clone Wars nightmare) were not as bad as critics maintained they were and that somehow my viewing of Red Sox games figures directly into the outcome.  We need the hopes of folly to make reality a little less devastating.

So, yesterday, I started a new hobby for myself which doesn’t really make any sense, but it’s a little folly that delays reality for moments at a time.  I settled into a comfortable area of my yard and began my bird-watching career.  Over the course of the morning, five different species were identified and I was able to get three more on a drive to a Derby party.  I still haven’t pinpointed one particular species that I know is nesting in the neighborhood…but I believe it’s more than likely a Black-crowned Night Heron.  I’m fairly sure that they’re in a migratory pattern and will not be around for long, so I’d like to make certain before they disappear.  So far though, I’ve really enjoyed my time watching birds.  I’m able to identify now by sight several birds and I can pick out the melody of the Song Sparrow just by leaning an ear toward the window.  I’m using WhatBird to assist my identification and it has been very, very useful.

I realize that with the impending birth of my daughter Aside: Still nothing…really, I promise, I’ll let you know. that this new hobby is more than likely folly, but it does take my mind off of the reality that I will soon be a father.  It also staves off the reality of work, yard maintenance, and other necessities.  So, I guess you’d say that my life, at least since yesterday, is for the birds!

See you in the funny papers!

Derby Day

Today’s the day!  This is what we’ve been waiting for, or so we’ve been told.  This is why an onslaught of landscape companies has been mowing interstate medians at ludicrous speed.  This is why news features focused on whether or not ice storm debris from February would be picked up in time.  This is the reason why celebrities from all 3 major food groups (television, film, and sports) will descend on this little town that only exists because of a huge chunk of fossil in the river.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, today, the first Saturday in May, is the day when roughly 20 thoroughbreds will flirt with death along a likely muddy track for roughly two minutes to appease a nation of partygoers, most of whom won’t know who won until tomorrow.

You’d think I didn’t love the Kentucky Derby.  Truth is, I’ve never even been to the Derby.  I’ve seen it several times on television and there are few things that make me tear up more than hearing that Stephen Foster classic “My Old Kentucky Home” played by the University of Louisville Marching Band as an entire grandstand of people sings along beneath those classic twin spires.  Still, I’ve never had the desire to go to the Derby.  I’m not a huge horseracing fan.  I much prefer baseball as my sport.  Very rarely does the winner of the World Series have to be euthanized on the pitcher’s mound following the game.  I think it’s a little silly that this town does everything in its power to manicure and powder the landscape to make it seem as though we worry about this sort of thing all the time.  Let it be known that the medians are mown once before Derby and then maybe once or twice more just to keep the snake population from invading the urban populace.

Yet, it’s a decent reason to party.  I, myself, am attending a party this afternoon to celebrate the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby.  I would imagine I’ll be pleasantly buzzed by the time the call to post is bugled and I even have a pick (Dunkirk), though I should warn you that I’ve chosen exactly two winners since Genuine Risk in the 1980 Kentucky Derby.  And, when the two minutes is up, we’ll all go back to our lawn chairs and wait for next year.  It’s fun, I suppose.

See you in the funny papers!

Be Always Learning

One can live by ideas or one can live by media consultants. Public figures in contemporary America seem to have made their choice. ~ George Scialabba from his essay “Honesty: A Syllabus

Even though I matriculated from college in May of last year Aside: Wow, has it been a whole year?! I’ve never really lost the desire to know things.  I yearn for knowledge, or, at the very least, knowledge which I’m interested in, superfluous and trivial though it may be.  Still, to avoid becoming well-versed in things found only on the back of a Trivial Pursuit card or in the Potpourri category on Jeopardy, I try to find knowledge and entertainment in things that have served the common good for centuries, or are currently being touted as “need-to-know.”  Generally, this information comes from the Intertubes and one must have a fairly fine filter to divine whether or not the information is useful and genuine.  Other information comes from books which have always been, in my opinion, mostly above board in their reliability for useful knowledge.  Still more knowledge is gleaned from the shimmering air of radio.  More often than not, the radio portion is limited to NPR, PRI, and their family of networks that bring us news from around the globe.

To that end, on a drive out to a friend’s home for dinner on Tuesday, C. and I were tuned in to the radio listening to Fresh Air on NPR and caught a segment on George Scialabba, whose quote you see at the top.  Mr. Scialabba is, like myself, a staff member at a university.  His university is one you may have heard of, Harvard University.  However, his writings are becoming (or maybe have been) well known and just upon reading a few of his essays and reviews, I’ve found that we are kindred spirits in our desires to be well read and well informed.  Mr. Scialabba is definitely ahead of me on both counts, but now I have a goal for which to aim.  He not only reviews books but writes them as well, and he has one out now called What Are Intellectuals Good For? which should be a very interesting read, but one of his reviews is for a book by Peter Singer called The Life You Can Save:Acting Now To End World Poverty.  I have come to the conclusion based on a small variety of sources that poverty is the number one detriment to global reconciliation and community.  I’m certain that this book, based on the review, would be more than substantial in showing us how we, any of us, could be instrumental in eliminating poverty around the world with a minimum of effort.

So…that is my challenge as I become a new father Aside: No, the baby is not here yet.  I’ll let you know, I promise! to do my part to make certain that poverty becomes a thing of the past.  As a friend of mine wrote the other day: 200 dead of swine flu in the Americas, 410,000 dead of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa…I’m just sayin’.

See you in the funny papers!