Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The elevator and the swing set (but actually One Large even)

I got to work early this morning. Walking in I held the door open for a lady I don’t think I’ve seen before. I can’t be sure because there’s a lot of people I don’t know that work here, and I tend not to pay attention. She said thank you and then when we got on the elevator she asked me what floor I was on. I said five and she pushed it, as well as six for herself. She looked at me and said, “this is my last day here.” It’s 6:30 in the morning and people don’t normally talk to me in the elevator. I think I said something profound like “really?”

Her: I’ve been here twenty-five years and my job got deleted.
Me: (oh wow am I not prepared to have a conversation like this) Well, what are you going to do?
Her: I don’t know. Probably cry a lot.
Me: (trying to be funny, but also inspiring) You should do something awesome like go to the roof and throw stuff off. (it doesn’t work)
Her: (starting to cry) I just don’t know.
Me: (swimming in it) I’m sorry.
Her: thanks.

The elevator reaches five and the doors open.

Me: I hope it’s a good day.
Her: (fully crying now) thanks.

And I got off the elevator.


Yesterday I got home from work and I don’t know what it is about the drive home, but by the time I get in the driveway EVERYDAY I’m fighting, like shaking my head and yelling out loud fighting, to keep my eyes open. Something about the drive home just exhausts me. I put the car in park and have to immediately get out or I’ll fall asleep in the driveway. Crazy.

So when you’re sleepy tired like that, the last thing you want to do is…well, anything. Jacob and Asher were out on the play set and something happened and Shannon was feeding Piper, so I got nominated to go outside and manage the issue. So I drag myself outside and intervene—I don’t remember what it was about. Maybe the plastic shovel for the sand box. Anyway I get out there and Jacob disappears to do something else, leaving me with Asher, who now wants to go across the street to play with the fifth grader.

I convince him to stay by starting to swing. Once I start swinging, he of course wants to swing. Asher loves swinging. He just loves it. He’s not big enough to get in the swing by himself, but yesterday I taught him to stand with the swing on the back of his legs and reach high on the chains and pull himself into the swing. He’s not strong enough to pull himself into the swing yet, but with just a fraction of help from me he did it. And now I’m fully awake and have forgotten that I’m a selfish jerk. It’s a beautiful afternoon and I’m really enjoying being with Asher.

He loves swinging. I know I already said that, but I really can’t emphasize that enough. He loves going high. So I’m pushing him and he’s laughing and we’re talking the way a thirty-five year-old dad and a two year-old son do. We’ve done this a lot and it’s something we both really love.

Then he fell.

I play it back in my mind and I can’t identify what went wrong. I pushed him exactly as I had pushed him for the previous ten minutes. He reached the bottom of the arc and then tumbled backward out of the swing. I can only guess he let go of the chains. He did a back flip and appeared to land on his hands and knees.

As a parent you learn to recognize the difference between when they just fall down and when they’re really hurt. He only fell like two feet or so, and the grass is thick where he fell. So I played it for “just a fall” and waited that fraction of a second between the actual event and his response to see if he’d come up laughing or crying. He came up crying so I scooped him up and headed for the house.

We can talk about how I played this one wrong, but I think you already see it.

We’re walking up to the house and he’s got a good cry on. We reach the steps and I think he’s probably had enough time to cry the scare off, and any pain that might accompany it. So I say, “that was pretty scary wasn’t it?” He cries his yes. “Ye-he-ess.” And then in my best conspiratorial voice I say, “but it was kind of fun too, wasn’t it?” I get an emphatic no through the tears. I still haven’t looked at his face.

We get inside and Shannon says, “he fell?” And I say yeah. Shannon walks around behind me to look at Asher. “Neil, he’s bleeding!”

I am the worst parent ever. This at least ties with the time I dislocated Jacob’s elbow.

I set him on the counter and now it’s pretty obvious he didn’t land on his hands and knees. He landed on his face. He landed face-down in the grass. Face-planted in the truest sense. He’s bleeding out his nose and mouth. Not a lot of blood, but enough. He’s got bruising on his forehead, nose and upper lip. His upper lip is fat and his nose looks broken. He actually has grass up inside his nose. We’re pulling grass out of his nose.

Like I said, worst parent ever.

And that was the worst of it. He’s got all his teeth. He didn’t bite his tongue and he can breathe through his nose. Nowhere near what Weston went through with the bathtub incident, but still…


These two things are somehow connected, the elevator and the swing set. I can’t see how yet, but there’s a thread there I need to pick up.

Monday, 29 September 2008

An open and flawed rant about Hollywood producers (but actually 354)

So here's this from Don Miller.

And it's funny in that, "I couldn't think of anything else to write about today" way. But the part that gets me is the Michael Poryes interview. I'm not sure which part is scarier:

1. He' a mega-Hollywood exec responsible for the biggest tweener show on tv. But he doesn't watch content on the web. THE ONLY TIME HE SEES WEB CONTENT IS WHEN MILEY SHOWS HIM SOMETHING!!!

2. "House" is his favorite show. Okay. He doesn't come out and say it, but you only reference the stuff you think is awesome. And this was his reference. Now, I'm sure "House" is a great show. I know lots of people who love it. But for me, it falls into the whole "CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Blah Blah Blah" dumpster. It's not a show other writers talk about (Arrested Development, The West Wing, Lost, The Office). So this guy loves "House", which is fine EXCEPT HE'S SUPPOSEDLY THE GATEKEEPER OF WHAT'S COOL FOR CHILDREN & YOUNG TEENS!!! And he doesn't watch content on the internet. Did I mention that?

3. His son cracked the whole portable screen technology for him. He says it like he didn't know people were watching movies like that. AND HE'S GOT AN IPHONE!!! Hey buddy, you know you can watch movies AND get the internet on that cool little gizmo, right? YOU CAN WATCH CONTENT OFF THE WEB IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND!!!

And this is the guy responsible for Hannah Montana.

It's no wonder every episode reminds me of "I Love Lucy." (Don't get me wrong. "Lucy" was a great show. Groundbreaking in its day--45 years ago.) And has anyone else noticed that while the sitcom in its traditional form is dead, Disney is the only network that continues to produce shows in that format?

(Sigh) Why do I even bother?

I understand he doesn’t have to be the cool one or the one most in touch with the audience. I get that. It just galls me that guys like this control what gets on TV. It doesn’t make any sense.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Bono on the Fed Bailout.

how about this?

Quoted from The American Prospect.

It's extraordinary to me that the United States can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can't find $25 billion dollars to saved 25,000 children who die every day from preventable diseases.

- Bono, rock star and anti-poverty activist.

Advent Conspiracy

I first heard about Advent Conspiracy two years ago. It changed the way I see things. I'm going to make a concerted effort for my family to participate this year.

Monday, 22 September 2008

No Press for Character (but actually 418)

If you’re a fan of the NFL, football or sports in general, you know the story of what happened in Denver last Sunday with referee Ed Hochuli. If you don’t, you can find it here. Do I think the NFL competition committee should make it possible for referees to correct mistakes like this during the game? Absolutely. But I’m more concerned with the integrity and character that Mr. Hochuli has shown. I wish more people were talking about it.

Hochuli blew the call. Knew he blew the call but couldn’t do anything about it. He apologized publicly for his mistake. He spent the week fielding—and even answering—hate mail from fans. Then on Sunday he flew to Baltimore, put his stripes on and did his job.

This is the kind of guy I hope to be. I wish guys like him would get more press for how they respond to the adversity they face. But because there’s no meltdown, because he didn’t do anything else to cause a headline, because he did exactly what a man of integrity should do, the culture monster lost interest and went looking for juicier fodder.

And this is what I don’t get about our society. We all say we want better role models for our kids. We lament the lack of integrity found in Hollywood, on football and baseball fields, on the hardwood. We talk in public forums about the need for better values, better morals. And then we get what we ask for. A guy like Hochuli passes through the headlines for something he did wrong. He responds in EXACTLY the way we say we want our heroes and role models to respond. But we don’t take notice. We all but ignore him.

Why? Because he didn’t rush out of his house without his cell phone with a gun in the glove compartment? Because he didn’t refuse to do his job? Because he didn’t act like a spoiled celebrity? I can’t think of any other reason.

Isn’t this the kind of role model we want for our kids? He does his job, admits when he makes a mistake, and then gets back to work. Why isn’t Ed Hochuli at the center of our national conversation right now?

Situations like this expose how broken and upside-down our cultural machine is. Which in turn exposes how broken I am, because as much as I want Hochuli to recognized and heralded, I’m scanning headlines for the latest on VY, waiting for the next meltdown.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Now this you gotta see.

I can't believe this happened. (Mom, click on the "this", it's the link to the blog I want people to see.) I gotta think about it.

Friday, 5 September 2008

double-long ramble (but actually 960. YIKES!)

It’s been two weeks since I’ve written anything. Awesome. I’ve got 500 lb block of cheese kind of writer’s block.

So here, a ballast-blowing emergency writing exercise. The stream of consciousness. The only rule is you can’t stop.

I’m still flossing, so I’ve got that going for me. And I’ve even begun exercising. I’ve resorted to getting up near-Starbuck’s early to make this happen, but I’ve been at it a week and I don’t hate it, which I usually do. Except the alarm at 4:30. I do hate that. And I hate rushing to bed so I’ll get up at 4:30. I’m not a morning person, but everybody else I work with is.

Shannon and I constantly talk about our need to exercise, but we never do. We claim victory when the kitchen is clean and the kids are all in bed. Sometimes just when the kids are in bed. But recently I’ve noticed that I get nervous on the stairs. The kind of nervous when you’re carrying something and can’t see the stairs. But I’m not carrying anything. Maybe that’s a bad sign…

Football has finally started. Finally. Again. Finally. It’s the new Christmas for me. And although the Olympics took the edge off my Jones this year, these last two weeks have been pretty jittery. But finally, salvation in the form of the G-men/Skins. Let’s just acknowledge how bad the ‘Skins looked. It’s the first game, sure. New coach, sure. But dear Lord this is the NFL!!! And when you’re down two scores with five to go you don’t hand the ball off!!! YOU CERTAINLY DON’T HUDDLE! You throw outs and screens and GET OUT OF BOUNDS. You HUSTLE to the line! These guys are getting paid astronomical sums of money and when it came time to get it in gear they looked like my movers that took TEN HOURS to move me one mile. Even I know when you’re down two scores you go to no huddle somewhere between six and five minutes to go.

But it’s football so I’m glued to it to the very last tick even though the ‘Skins have no chance but have FINALLY started playing with some urgency. I’m yelling “what’s the point? You blew it!” at the TV and I don’t even care about the ‘Skins, but still I’m not changing the channel because it’s football.

And then we have the RNC. Any person who ever studied Theatre History will be able to tell you that plays written in Renaissance and Post-Renaissance eras were over-written with frequent plot summaries inserted because of the nature of how plays were viewed back then—with people constantly coming and going, much like today’s sporting events. And this is exactly what the RNC was to me. I watched Giuliani out of the corner of my eye as I cleaned the kitchen, then gave Palin my undivided attention. Giuliani told me all about Palin. He told me all about McCain. Then Palin came out and told me all about McCain, (even using some of the same lines). Then she told me all about herself. Basically recapping what Giuliani had already told me. Last night I flipped b/n Cindy McCain and the ‘Skins debacle. She told me all about Palin. She told me all about her husband. Then we get a video. And what a video. I mean wow. A video that tells us…wait for it…all about McCain. And finally, McCain himself. It’s was like the Beatles. People went crazy. People were crying. He gets up and proceeds to do what? Tell us about Palin? Yes! Tell us about himself? Yes!

I know this is their moment. I know this is primetime and maybe the only time they may get the attention of a large part of the country. And I know there are distractions. I know people are idiots. But for the love, do I really need the “said no to the bridge to nowhere” line six times in two nights? Do I need four speeches (just the ones I saw, I’m sure there were others) and a video to tell me McCain spent five years as a POW?

I KNOW I’m a West Wing junkie. And I know EXACTLY what that qualifies me for when it comes to political speech writing, especially at the national level. But I really think I could have done a better job writing McCain’s speech. The opening was good. The respect to Obama was great. The personal recounting of his time in Hanoi was good, when he talked about his fundamental shift in perspective. The outdated policy stuff was excellent. But I would have stopped him there. I would have had him say something like this:

We’ve been here four days. You’ve heard a lot of speeches about me: about my life, my campaign. About our strategy to relieve your financial struggles, about our strategy to make good for our boys and girls fighting overseas, for my sons, for Sarah’s son. You’ve heard about our plan for energy alternatives. You’ve heard about our plan for schools, for teachers, for families. You’ve heard about how we will make a better America. And you’re going to hear a lot more. Senator Obama and I will discuss the issues for you in just a few weeks. But tonight I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for your belief in me. Thank you for your support. I love our country, and I’ll do everything necessary to see we right the economy, right the war on terror, right the environment.

And that’s just off the top of my head.


There you go. Random ramblings and an off-the-cuff speech for the RNC.

I’ll eat my way out of this block yet.