Sunday, June 29, 2008

Baching It

Ugh. Nothing like your daughter waking up an hour & a half earlier than you expected her to to bring out the worst in a guy. Sheesh. This whole past week I've been teaching my summer class, and for some reason The Rozzle has been sleeping in until 7:00, pretty much right on the dot every morning. So, when Miss Tessmacher took off to her TSO gig this weekend, leaving me home alone to play bachelor dad, I thought "Great! Roz will sleep in, and I'll get a little extra shuteye myself!" Which, nope. Despite skipping her afternoon nap entirely yesterday, for some reason she started in with the crib kicking at 5:38 this a.m. That's her newish thing, by the way: just kicking the ever-lovin' SHIT out of her crib, such that it sounds like she's moving furniture around in her room. Big, heavy furniture, like solid cherry bureaus and king-size waterbeds. I desperately sent back-to-sleep vibes out to her, but by 6:15 she was weepy and angsty and I knew that there was no going back. "Don't take it out on her," I kept telling myself. After all, aren't I the lucky guy whose daughter sleeps a reliable 12 hours at night, every night? Alas, I still found myself to be short-tempered, turning my worst passive/aggressive urges on her in a futile pissing contest she wasn't responsible for, let alone that she could even understand. Bleah. Still, we had a pretty enjoyable breakfast, and when I saw how quickly she downed a handful of grapes, some Elmo-Os, her bowl of oatmeal AND nearly a full banana, I realized that the extra-early waking was caused by the bottomless pit of her stomach. Remember in Return of the Jedi, how Luke, Han and their cohorts were to be fed to that gaping desert maw by Jabba the Hut? That maw pretty well represents Rozzle's empty tummy. *Sigh.*

So, at 7:30, when we should have just nicely been coming downstairs, she rubbed her eyes, yawned, and stuck her thumb in her mouth, effectively communicating "I'm tired now, Dad!" So I put her down for a nap, which, HA! Now she's up there kicking holy hell out of her crib and going through an increasing bout of whining and crabbiness. What's a guy to do? Go rescue her, I suppose. More to come.

(...time passes...)

Hokey-dokey, several hours of playing, snacking (while watching a Muppet Show) and reading later, she's down for a REAL nap this time. *Whew!* Single parenthood? Is for the birds. I know, I know...plenty of people do it (including my OWN mother, for much of my childhood), but given that I didn't start out that way, I know there's something better. Easier. Whatever...I'm just really glad I don't have to do this ALL the time.

And, while this nap is likely to last for over an hour, there are probably fifteen other (read: better) things I ought to be doing, but since I started this post, I feel the urge to finish it. So here's an update on what everyone's (okay, MY) favourite girl is up to:

1) Breast feeding is done! This isn't so much OUR choice as it is Roslyn's. Everything I read tells me that "babies don't wean themselves," but that's bunk as far as I'm concerned. Rozzle started slacking off on breast feeding weeks ago, with the obvious consequence that Tess' milk has been slowly waning, and no amount of pumping or beer-drinking has helped. (Seriously: beer increases your milk. Go figure.) We knew that Roz needed to be done by the time she and Tess go up to Interlochen for two weeks, and so we just made the decision: we'd use up the 80 or so ounces of milk currently cramming our freezer full, and Tess wouldn't pump this weekend while she was gone. Voila! Finished. I both laugh and cringe, though, to think that we spent months and months panicking about whether or not we'd have "enough" milk saved up for...well, for whatever we needed it for, and now we're just sort of casually using it up, and even THEN we'll probably throw some away. Ugh. Since July I've come to think of breast milk as being more precious than gold ("white oil," if you will...) and the thought of throwing it away seems more than's somehow sacrilegious. And what I DO give Rozzle in the bottle? She really seems awfully ambivalent about it. I've been giving her 2.5 oz. in the morning and at night, and she almost never finishes it; it's more like, "Oh, thanks, yeah, I was thirsty, come to think of it." She drinks a ton of water now, though, which is interesting.

2) STILL no crawling! She makes more of an effort now, and she really doesn't seem to mind spending time on the floor...but, little headway. On the other hand, STANDING is really coming along. Her balance is pretty good, and when she *Plops!* down onto her bottom she laughs...and then wants to do it again. And again. And again... Every source I read tells me that she'll have SOME sort of pre-walking mobility, but I'm beginning to suspect that rolling is going to suffice for her, and that we'll simply move right into walking. Meantime, at least when I sit her down, I know she ain't going anywhere...

3) Remember when Venkman, Ray and Egon were told that they had to "choose the form of the destructor?" Well, in our household that form isn't the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, it's The Rozzle. Armin Brott told me that Roz would be building block towers like crazy during her 9th or 10th month, but so far all she wants to do is wreck the ones *I* build. I stack 'em up? She knocks 'em down. She will tolerate no toy to ever be stacked or resting or otherwise atop any other. Never. Not ever. If I thought to extrapolate her future career from her present activity, I'd say she's going to one day own her own demolition business. You know, like those people who so artfully implode casinos and buildings and whatnot into relatively neat little piles of rubble? Except, in her case, she's going to invent a far more efficient method whereby the casino would EXplode with such ferocity that every particle of it would be strewn outside the Vegas city limits...thereby eliminating the need for any sort of hasslesome cleanup.

4) She's learned to throw (see #3 above), especially her handy little Fisher Price look-at-the-thing-inside blocks...except she manages to throw everything BEHIND her. We've quit putting pillows behind her when she sits, and she still occasionally goes backward with a thumping "ka-WHAM!", but it never seems to bother her. Now, though, with the throwing everything behind her...well, I can just see her somehow tossing a block and then flopping backwards onto a corner or what have you. Yeah, yeah...paranoid parenting.

Otherwise she's going great, with two ferocious little teeth in her bottom jaw and hand mobility skillz that allow her to pick individual cat hairs off the be subsequently tried as a rare delicacy. Ahem. Here are some photos for your perusal, as she nears her first birthday...

Out to lunch on Mackinac Island.

Readin' with Dad.

She actually told me this was "O" when she picked it up.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I got a short tag from Stinkbumps, and since I'm solo parenting this weekend I thought it would be just the thing to keep CF updated. Here're the rules:

1. Write the title to your own memoir using 6 words.
2. Post it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who tagged you.
4. Tag 5 more blogs.

I feel only a tiny bit sheepish in admitting that I began a quasi-memoir several years ago, and it is conveniently 6 words long:

My Life in the Kiss Army

So there ya go! Instead of tagging 5 separate BLOGS, I'm tagging the remaining members of Classy, Tacky, or Stupid: Tess, Kat, SDB, Strangela and Fashionably Late. We need some new material, so get on it, y'all!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

This I Believe

I've been giving lots of thought lately to who I am as a person, and what percentage of that person is based on the beliefs I hold. Y'know, in a kind of "I am not this body" way of looking at things. Certainly I am this body, because without it I ain't got much, right? Lots of good thoughts, whoops! Little fall down the stairs stove my skull in, now I got no brains to think 'em! So, yeah, the physical part of "me-ness" is certainly important. But, once you get beyond that corporeal element of personal definition, things get a little dicey. Steph and I have been goin' at it lately about something that was originally just a minor tag-line to conveniently wrap up one of my recent posts; she has lately spun off a wonderful bit of self-introspection that, consequently, got me thinking about how I define myself against the backdrop of the world at large. I took a pointer from the NPR This I Believe series and coughed up a random list of 10 things that I believe in...things that, for want of a better way of saying it, make me who I am. I suspect the list could go on & on, so don't try to read anything into what I might have left off...likewise the order is (to my conscious mind, anyway) completely random, simply a list of the first ten articles I came up with. Any attempts to form a logical chain from one to the next, and therefore discover something about ME, are solely the domain of the reader, and may not have anything to do with reality. Or, they may. Who knows?

1) I believe that Jesus Nazareth was a brilliant man, humble and wise and caring, and that in the millennia since his death we have (mostly) fucked over his message beyond comprehension. In kindest terms, I think of myself as "agnostic," which, in its broadest definition, means I neither believe nor disbelieve in a "god" concept. I specifically DO NOT believe in the commonly-presented Christian all-powerful father deity, who called upon his only son to die for the sins of humankind. But, on the other hand, I also don't accept the lack of absolute proof of such a deity as proof that s/he DOESN'T exist, either. Get it? What I do believe was there once existed a man from Nazareth, whose name was Jesus, who preached peace and love and kindness to others. Whether or not he preached these things in "the name of god" is completely immaterial to me. I'm not a follower of his teachings per se, and therefore am not a "Christian," any more than I might be a "Marxist" or a "Hegelian." I just think he was a great guy, and he said a lot of things that made sense, and in whose name this bureaucracy of small-minded anti-egalitarianism has sprung up, more or less eradicating what he originally stood for.

2) I believe in the concept of karma, and that somehow the universe strives for balance and cause/effect equality. As a way of trying to balance the waffling beliefs of Item #1 above, I offer you this wishy-washy New Age guide to feel-goodedness. But, I actually do believe that a good thing I do today will be balanced (repaid?) by a good thing done to me in the future, and that bad behaviour - or even negative thoughts - are sure to revisit me, probably when I least want them to. It seems to me that many mathematical and physical equations present an x=y balance, and I wonder if some unknowable future generation won't find such a cosmic equality many years after what I used to be has become dust.

3) I believe in the mind-numbing, life-affirming power of heavy, thumping rock & roll. A girl I was once dating actually tried to get me to explain why I liked this kind of music so much, and it ended up being impossible; all I could do was turn the volume up and try to get her to hear what I was hearing. "Y'hear that? How it booms in your very soul? No?? Let me TURN IT UP A LITTLE!!!" A truly great moment in my life: standing at the back of The Palace, with Mötley Crüe bashing through Live Wire on the stage in front of me, and screaming along at the top of my lungs: "'Cause I'm alive! 'Cause I'm alive! 'CAUSE I'M ALIVE!!!" In that moment, which lasted all of 15 seconds, I never FELT more alive in my life. I guess this item doesn't have to be rock & roll necessarily; I'd love it if all people could feel this sort of life-affirming connection to music. But for me, this is the stuff that does it: Kiss, Crüe, Twisted Sister, Cheap Trick, AC/DC, and all other manner of stuff in that vein.

4) I believe in order and justice, the free will to disavow both, and the rightousness of consequences for failing to live up to them. Here's where the "rulesy-ness" part of me comes online, but perhaps this is a better way of explaining it. I believe that one cannot embrace entropy, cannot embrace the waves, and so the only bulwark AGAINST entropy is an agreed-upon set of "rules" (for want of a better word). I use rules in my classroom: come to class, turn in your homework, do your reading, study for tests. Students exercise free will by deciding to either DO or NOT DO any of those things, with a nearly infinite variance of degree of "doneness." By adhering to "the rules" of the classroom, students will enjoy positive consequences of their actions and will learn the requisite material. Those who exercise free will and avoid "the rules" often find less desirable consequences, which they define as "a failing grade." There are occasions when the consequences, frankly, ain't so bad: if you call yourself a "Christian" but never go to church, well, I somehow doubt your god is going to come knockin' with a Bill of Due. If you're caught smoking pot in a public park, you might get anything from a slap on the wrist to a little jail time. Murder someone in cold blood and you pretty much have to run for the rest of your life...and even THEN you usually get caught. Free will - and the choices we make with it - is a wonderful thing, but when the consequences are spelled out for you, you shouldn't bitch when they come callin'.

5) I believe that people who have power need to use at least some of it to help better the lives of those without the means to better it themselves. Power in this case can mean so many different things, from the actual political power of a presidency to the "power of the purse" and a willingness to simply send money to people who'll help others in your name. Basically, another way of saying this is to say I support a kind of loosey-goosey socialism wherein everyone recognizes that it's socially responsible to help those who need helping. (Come to think of it, that's kind of Christian too, isn't it?) I generally help with the aforementioned power of the purse: I give to causes that I feel fit my personality. I try to help (when I can) with the power of my height and/or strength: I help old ladies get stuff off of high shelves at the supermarket, or help the neighbor haul a chest freezer down into his basement. If EVERYONE would help just a little, I think it might all get done. Whatever "it" is, right?

6) I believe in the value of good friends and family. I really don't even make the distinction between those: I was born to a "family" that includes my mother, grandparents, aunt & uncle, etc. etc. I also chose a family that goes as far back as kindergarten (Eric), through high school (Chris, Susan) and college (Mike, various Lisas, Drew), and on into adulthood (Kirsten & two Stephs, Marie, Andy & Carmen). These are just the immediate examples I thought of, and of course leaves off all of Tess' family whom I now regard as my own. Money is great, but it's meaningless in the face of those family ties. Hear that, y'all? I love you. You make life worth living. Thanks...and here's to more good times. (*Clink!*)

7) I believe that everyone is entitled to an opinion, with the qualification that opinions based on knowledge and consideration are more legitimate than those which aren't. That sounds elitist and non-egalitarian, even to me. Tough shit. All I want...all I for people to think about a given situation, and then make up their own minds. Listen to your parents, your preacher, your friends & co-workers & congressmen...but then, dammit, come to your OWN CONCLUSION! That's all. If you have an opinion about something, and your only source of info for that opinion is what you heard the "president" say? Fuck it...I'm not interested. Now, if that opinion is one that's shared by your neighbor, and your butcher, and your paperboy...that's fine, you now have a quorum of sorts. But I'll always place a higher value on an opinion that's buffered by...well, by the notion that you've at least considered the alternate point of view.

8) I believe that there are battles worth fighting, but I conversely believe that nothing is ever solved by fighting, and that there is always a better way. World War II? Probably worth fighting...although what I understand of that battle is that it was a direct outgrowth of poor handling of World War I. The Iraq War? Totally could have been better handled by diplomacy. I do believe that you sometimes need to bash the school bully in the mouth...once, to make the teasing stop forever. Standing your ground is worthwhile, when there are no other options. Too often, our culture disregards the other options as disagreeable or somehow contrary to our stated "best interests," and we go in swingin'. Is that what Jesus would do?

9) I believe in the absolute abandonment of all hierarchies that put the worth or value of one person higher than another. Women should make the same amount of money as men, people of all skin colors should have the same life opportunities, and on & on. Money shouldn't be able to buy power or prestige. I believe that if you HAVE money, you can buy more THINGS with it. Gene Simmons will always have a "nicer" (read: bigger") house than I do...but put us on the same arts council together, and we should have the same say. No caste systems, no sexism or racism or valuing the hotel owner over the woman who cleans the toilets...we all matter. Equally. Let's start acting like it.

10) I believe that both selfishness and giving are commendable personal attributes, and that denying one or the other leads to a life of falsehood and irritability. I tried to cover the giving aspect in Item #5 above, but I also believe that selfishness has a place in the world. I teased Steph recently about Ayn Rand, and while I'm certainly not an advocate for her Objectivism in its "purest" form (remembering that her writings represent a knee-jerk reaction to the Soviet world into which she was born), I do believe generally in the philosophies of her biggest heroes, Henry Reardon and Howard Roark. These were men who understood that their accomplishments had value, and that they deserved a fair exchange for those accomplishments. So: do I want to give my music away? Some of it, but not all. I want to be paid by my publisher, and in general if you want my music, I'll have you buy it...but, I reserve the right to give it away at my discretion. This is always my argument FOR the bands (like Metallica) who go along with the RIAA and sue so-called "file sharers" (i.e., music thieves). Fact is, that music represents the artistic output of the groups who created it, and only they (and by default their record company) have a say in how it's distributed. It's THEIR decision to give...which is selfishness. I'm not saying you shouldn't share your food with someone who has none...I'm saying that it's unnatural to pretend an all-consuming altruism at the expense of the individual. A good balance is necessary for a happy life.

That's it! If you care to turn this into a blogging meme, feel free to consider yourself tagged.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

5 Weird Things About Me

This is the long-delayed meme that Steph over at Sweet Water Journal tagged me with. Well, at least that's the INTENT of the meme. I'm supposed to come up with five "weird" things about me, but I'm having a hard time with it. (Fill in your own jokes here, smart-asses.) I've done memes similar to this before, so there are some things that I could list, but would feel redundant. I'm trying hard to think of really ODD things here, but again, I'm coming up blank. I'll try just diving in, and see what happens.

(Time passes, with much typing...)

Okay, fuck it. I got through three examples, only to discover that I wasn't doing a "5 Weird Things" meme, but instead a "5 Personality Flaws" meme, and really, that kind of self-flagellation has no place in the blogosphere. I'd rather turn this over to those who know me...and even frequent readers who DON'T really know me, but who get a sense of who I am by reading Cranial Flatulence. Tell me, y'all out there: what are five weird things you know about me? I'll look for your comments in...well, in the comments section. Duh.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Music Of Our Lives

This post is a sort of follow-up to my Kiss bitch-session from a couple weeks ago. I had quoted Paul Stanley explaining the lack of new material from his band (rather lamely, I might add) by saying that new music sounds fresh, but it doesn't have the "connection" that the classic songs do. He has tried to use this argument over & over again for several years - pretty much since Kiss stopped releasing new music! - and it grates on my nerves every time, because dammit, I DO want new music!! I? I really tried to think about music, and why the music of my (our?) youth resonates so much, and whether that feeling of resonance is maintainted throughout adulthood. What I came up with was...curious. Not troubling so much, but still the kind of thing that really gives a person pause. Because really, I don't listen to new music with the same intensity as I did when I was 10, or 15. Why is that? Why DOES the music from about 1977 to 1987 mean so much to me? And why does most of the music I've discovered SINCE that point pale in comparison? And, is that a more-or-less universal attitude? This is what I came up with:

1) It stands to reason that the first music you hear, BEING the first, is nearly all-encompassing. Listening-wise, it's as if you're an empty vessel, and whatever gets poured into your ears becomes the foundation upon which all future listening experiences will be built. So that, even while Kiss is my first "band," I actually retain a fond soft spot for Helen Reddy (especially Delta Dawn, Ruby Red Dress, and You & Me Against The World) and early R&R. In addition to introducing me to Kiss, my Aunt Deb also had me listening to a number of 45s, songs that to this day rank among my absolute favourites: Billy Don't Be A Hero (Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods), Devil Woman (Cliff Richard, the "British Elvis"), Down In The Boondocks (Billy Joe Royal), Seasons In The Sun (Terry Jacks), and Boogie Fever (The Sylvers). Aside from those one-off songs though, I was totally consumed by Kiss. And aside from the bubblegum cards and a few magazines, I didn't have any of the merchandise they're famous for; it was really the music that did it. So, obviously I do relate those particular songs to that particular point in my life.

2) Speaking of points in life, I do understand the concept of momentous experiences being accompanied by memorable music. And really, isn't the high drama of junior- and senior-high school one long string of momentous experiences? The music you listened to while cruising, or partying with friends...using music to make new social circles (I once managed to get Chip Creason to quit picking on me by lending him my Lick It Up album), or the power of the songs you first slow-danced to. Once again, the concept of newness is important: all of these feelings and experiences are NEW, and so you remember and hold in high regard the music you were listening to at the time.

3) I also think disposable income has a lot to do with it. When I was 10 or 11, I had (thinking...) probably 10 albums. All Kiss. Oh, and one Cheap Trick LP, At Budokan. So, my listening choices were somewhat limited. I think it's safe to say that, in a given week, I probably listened to Kiss Alive! at least 4 or 5 times. All the way through both platters. Needless to say, this music is FIRMLY planted in my psyche! As an adult, I have hundreds of LPs and thousands of CDs and MP3 files. (As well as a now-dispersed collection of several score of cassettes.) I'm able to buy and experience a nearly infinite batch of new music...but the downside is that very little of it ends up being firmly entrenched in my mind. I think the last NEW disc that I heard that really "did it" for me was the Pink Cream 69 release Electrified. And even then, I can't sing my way through all of the songs, or air-guitar the disc with any accuracy. Why is Destroyer so much higher on the musical food chain than Electrified?

4) Listening to music used to be FUN. This idea is cemented for me by a recent Rolling Stone article I read about the increase in - believe it or not! - vinyl sales over the last year. While CD sales plummeted 17%, LP sales actually ROSE 1.4%!! One of the folks quoted in the article summed up my feelings about listening to albums very well, claiming that "you got your friends, you got your weed, you're rolling while someone else is picking out another record." Well, I ain't got my weed, but still, there WAS something magical about shuffling through those huge records, picking one out and flopping it on the turntable, and then staring at that huge expanse of artwork. I now have access to TONS more music than I did when I was young...but there's no fun in picking out another CD-R with no artwork, or hitting 'shuffle' on my iPod. I wonder: would I sit around and stare at the album artwork for The Donnas newest release? (Well, in their case, dirty old man that I am: YES!)

So, I'm trying a little experiment now: I recently bought the new David Readman solo release from iTunes. He's the lead singer for PC 69, and I absolutely LOVE his voice. I've been listening to it a lot, mostly while I run. I'm trying to see if I can make THAT music stand for a particular time in my life - summer 2008 - in the same way that, say Love Gun stood for the summer of 1977. I'm trying to recapture a little of the magic of music. What about YOU out there? Are you still hooked on the music of your youth, largely to the exclusion of music you've found as an adult? Why do you think that is? Yes, this IS a quiz, so I'll grade you according to your comments.