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Monday, January 29, 2007

we done moved!

the dust has begun to settle on the move and the general wreckage of what was once my life. here is my conclusion: oof. more specifically, here is a list of a few things i have learned over the course of the past few weeks, and a bit of news:

  1. moving sucks ass. amend that. moving sucks the ass of an unshowered obese grandmother after an olestra binge. especially when one has a twenty-month old who just the WEEK PRIOR to moving started referring to the old apartment as "home." as in: we would return from an outing, she would spy the apartment building and she would then raise her arms and shout with glee "HOME!!! YAY! CATS!" it was heartbreaking. how do you tell a wee babe that "this is not your home anymore. we are uprooting you from the only place you've ever lived and taking you to a 100 year old rotting woodframe house with drafty windows and clanky heat. because we don't love you."
  2. you know who we do love though? honestly. if you are moving to (or from or within) new york city, you must use Big Apple Moving. we've used them twice -- they've come in under the estimate both times and they didn't even hold our stuff hostage. they are fairly intimidating behemoths at first blush, but they are gentle giants. miracle workers. i am thinking about planning another move soon just so i can hang out with them again.
  3. ok that last line was a joke. the only way i am leaving this house to take up residence elsewhere is in a body bag, chopped into tiny little pieces and immolated. ain't nobody getting me out of here alive.
  4. my in-laws fucking rock. they should be world famous. they should walk only on rose petals. they should have long odes to them written in latin and sung by beautiful young eunuchs. they should be enshrined in the guinness book of world records as best in-laws ever. they were here for about 12 days. they painted the ENTIRE INTERIOR OF THE HOUSE in some colors they even strenuously objected to. they did odd jobs -- like refurbishing the original mantle, like dismantling fixtures, like recaulking windows, figuring out if it was possible to install recessed lighting (which they will do themselves when they come back in march for a month and completely GUT and RENOVATE our kitchen. for us. which they helped us design and order while they were here.) they make me feel simultaneously tearful with gratitude and completely useless -- a withered vestigial tail on the beautiful body of my own marriage.

and now the news, part one of which is not really "news" so much as it is the "terrifying absorption of a long-suspected truth":

  • it is very hard not to murder your toddler. every single day there are at least 74 murder-worthy moments in this child's life. before breakfast. like when she won't let you clean the poop out of her pants because she wants to keep it. and yet, miraculously, we are so far choosing to let her live. each morning begins at 6. you bring her downstairs and she demands her bottle, from which your pediatrician has told you several times to wean her if you don't want her to grow up toothless, lisping and pumping gas for a living. "bobble!" she says. "hmm, how about a banana?" you say. shockingly, she replies "yeah. ok." you think you have made progress. you are the best parent ever. you grab a banana and she says, like the little monkey she is, "NANA!" she's excited. you peel it for her and hand it to her. she goes cross-eyed with rage and screams "NO! NO NANA!" she throws the banana at you. jesus. you flinch. but you remain calm. "ok sweetie, how about an orange?" panic sets in. "cereal? CEREAL. CEREAL CEREAL!" ok, fine. you get her a bowl of cereal. just as you start pouring the milk she falls on the floor and bursts into flames.

"honey. stop. are you sure you don't want cereal? you asked for cereal and i've already poured the milk."
"NO! orange. bobble."
"you want an orange? you already said 'no' to the orange."
"orange? or banana? which is it?"
"yeah. ELMO!"
"ok. fine. here's an orange. here's a fucking banana. here's elmo, a bottle and whole box of cookies. sort it out for yourself."

at this point your wife comes downstairs, woken by the sound of a grown man being broken by a little girl, one-third his height. as she wipes the sleep from her eyes, she is at least comforted by memories of the strong matador who, in her still-fresh dreams, was just holding her in his strong, sweat-beaded, hairless arms.

  • once we got somewhat settled into the house and the tsunami of office drudgery that coincided with my move began to subside, i was hit with a particularly delightful form of stomach flu. i am still recovering. have you ever had to spend an entire day parenting a 20-month-old alone while experiencing extremely aggressive diarrhea? it's awesome.
  • i was honored and touched to be invited to a new york blogger's reception at the 92nd street Y before a talk by the excellent Adam Gopnik and Patricia Marx of The New Yorker. part of me suspected that this was a ploy: the Y was continuing its long-standing tradition of good works by rounding up as many bloggers as possible in one place and gassing them into eternal silence. but no, it was an earnest invitation. so cool! but. i couldn't go. (see: afforementioned office drudgery.)
  • on the new commute home from work i learned an interesting fact the other day, spoken at the top of a particularly angry young mother's voice to no one in particular on a very crowded train: "IF THESE CRACKERS WOULD BEAT THEY KIDS FROM TIME TO TIME, THEY WOULDN'T GO ALL COLUMBINE, SHOOTING UP THEIR SCHOOLS AN' SHIT." interesting logic. i wonder if there is a similar strain of thinking behind my new neighbor's apparent abuse of his wife.

finally, the big news!

  • vinnie three fingers is a man of his word. yes. it took him a year. but he is nothing if not very thorough. after i went through all my trouble to find the right doctor to cut me open and fix my knee, it seemed his main meniscus source suddenly dried up. well. now they tell me that they have found a matching piece of tissue (read: vinnie finally sent some poor lanky 30-year-old with strong joints to sleep with the fishes. except for his left leg, which will be harvested for my benefit.) and they have put it on ice. i am scheduled to have incredibly nasty knee surgery on march 13. Dr. Hot's assistant told me that since it's a pretty intense surgery, i should plan on spending the night in the hospital. i told him i remembered that detail from when i was originally supposed to have surgery ... a year ago. he said "you're going to be in a lot of pain," which sounded like a threat and a promise.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

the shadow state of the union

check out this excellent interactive feature that the new york times popped up online right after the prez concluded his state of the union address. impressive. what's most amazing is not the fact that they got this together and published it so fast -- no, they knew the speech was coming and had time to prep it.

what's most amazing is that bush apparently said "ass" 7 times in 2005 ... 4 times tonight.

what fun words can you find?

Monday, January 15, 2007

t-minus 13 hours till the move

we're just finishing up packing now. for the love of god, when did we acquire so much useless shit? and where was it all hiding in this tiny apartment?

more to come after the move. provided i survive.

UPDATE (1/19): well, i survived the move. so did the wife and child. i may not survive the unpacking and the DIY kitchen renovation, but that is something else entirely. i am currently slammed at work and computerless at home. will hopefully have more happy fun posts on sat or tues. meantime, enjoy this short video of Donna Stoneman shredding it up on electric mandolin while wearing momjeans. i think i'm in love:

Saturday, January 13, 2007

an official nice guy endorsement: PARENTING!

dear lord, let me bear witness: do you have any idea how freakin' grateful i am for PARENTING magazine?

seriously! just yesterday i got the february issue of the mag in my mailbox (on jan. 12 ... why not?). but as a side note before i get started (what would that be, by the way? not quite a prologue, more of a side-logue or maybe a demilogue. i don't know; i'll let you figure it out), i'd like to point out that i never actually subscribed to PARENTING magazine. it just started arriving. one day i had me a infunt, the next day i was readin' me a magazine! simple as that. how did the topdawg at PARENTING magazine know that li'l ol' me was procreatin'
? more importantly: how did he track my unlisted ass down?

ANYWAY. the latest incarnation of the magazine came yesterday. there is no stopping its arrival, with its beautiful baby doll-models and 22-year-old coke-skinny covermoms. february's issue in particular caught old eagle-eye nice guy's attention for a couple reasons. first of all: have you ever looked at the cover, directly above the bold printed "PARENTING?" no? take a gander some time. there, hovering over the magazine's very name, you will read this line: "what matters to moms."

oh, no. they di'n't.

oh yes they did! PARENTING magazine puts it right above their own name: parenthood is for girls! NOW THEY TELL ME! this wouldn't be so totally and completely awesome if february's issue didn't also come complete with a Very Special Feature Article by the world famous William Sears M.D. ... devoted entirely to "the daddy-baby connection." wow. thank you, PARENTING magazine for dedicating an entire article in your parenthood-for-girls magazine to dads! we are so very blessed. since you took such a special effort to address our complicated needs, i -- being a "dad" and therefore not technically a "parent" -- feel it is incumbent upon myself to take special care in giving your magazine a close reading this month, to the extent that i can actually read. shall we begin? oh goodie!

first thing's first, by which i mean not second. i being a dad, and therefore a male, notice that the very first advertisement spread across two pages of your magazine is for some random australian hair product (tagline: "add some roo to your do" ... that's copyrighted, folks) prominently featuring four very hot, very
not-mom models. actually they're probably not even "driving-age" models. whatever. i guess the advertising industry needs moms to feel bad about their bodies and hair and their age just like they do non-moms. better still is the next page! after your soft-core prepubescent surfer-girl two-page, um, spread, for follicle fabulosity is a TWO PAGE SPREAD FOR CONTRACEPTIVES!!!! this, i will remind you, is a magazine all about the joys of having babies. (with, presumably, fellow adults.)

i repeat: AWESOME.

but, oh, it gets so much more awesome on page 66, the page where the "daddy-baby love" article (as the editor's note calls it) officially begins. it's called "the daddy-baby connection" and here, line-by-line is why it receives The Official Mr Nice Guy Endorsement of Awesome:

  • "The Daddy-Baby Connection" tagline: "Everyday ways to help them bond" because we poptards will never establish an effective bond with our own children unless some benevolent soul comes to guide us along our bumpy journey, clucking her tongue and half-ironically tapping her left toe while smirking ruefully at all our wacky foibles.
  • the parenthetical after the tagline "(think diapers, dancing and more)" what? you mean i am going to have to wipe a butt? AND dance? and then do ... "more???" i was told wipe OR dance, but not both ... my god, cruella. the second you ask me to, like, give you input on my daughter's footware, i am so on a one-way flight to reno. who signed me up for this crazy "parenting" escapade?!?
  • paragraph five: "Dads have a delightfully different way of relating to their babies -- and their babies enjoy this difference." nice. do you know what i most enjoy about this sentence? the vocabulary lesson. this here piece of advice reminds us that "fathering" is the latinate root of "patronizing." thank you for making that connection so explicit.
  • paragraph six, addressed to the mother who takes a high-stakes risk and leaves her kid alone with dad for a few minutes: "You might be surprised at the fuss busters your partner musters with absolutely no help from Mother." ha! take that "mom." sure that sentence makes no sense, but you might be surprised! you might realize that you have put so little faith in your man all these years that leaving your helpless babe alone with dad might start you along an uncomfortable road of introspection and self-doubt. you might find yourself wondering if you've ever quite accurately grasped even the most trivial events in your own life. you might realize that, in despair, you have turned to PARENTING magazine to help you through your marital problems which you now realize might actually spawn from your own father's ancient neglect and jesus what does it take to get noticed around here!? you are a full-grown woman, the last time you checked!
  • paragraph seven: "When given freedom, he may start to develop his own rituals with your baby." DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN! remember this is YOUR baby. not "his!"
  • somewhere on page two of the story, under the "Help them get a little closer" section, Dr. William Sears recommends getting dad a baby sling: "This physical closeness is a very natural way for them to bond, and (bonus) he'll have his hands free to help out with the dishes!" hahahahaha! this is funny because, silly rabbit, dads don't do dishes! gosh!
  • on page three there is a graphic with "Baby-calming moves a dad can love ... number one: THE FOOTBALL HOLD." because if it won't fit into some kind of homo-erotic sporting metaphor, we just ain't interested, woman! now go rub some more aussie roo hair gel into your scalp and make with the fancy IUD! daddy needs some mommy time. baby boring!

fat spat

so what was it i was saying about never posting another youtube video ever again after the awesomeness that was "nasty dan?" yeah, well, scratch that.

no, literally, scratch that. here is something highly groovy (and a great way to start eductating your wee ones in the ways of hip-hopracy and turntablism). this is taken from the first solo album by Cut Chemist--formerly crate digger-in-chief to Jurassic 5--released last year, called 'the audience's listening.' overall not a mind-blowing record, but this here is pretty hot and kid-friendly. best enjoyed loudly:

Thursday, January 11, 2007


didn't i mention i was going to have something to say about poop? ok, fine. i owe you. the gist: my kid, she is obsessed with poop. here, generally, is how every single day starts:

mr and mrs nice guy are asleep, dead to the world in their connubial chamber. it is, unfailingly, somewhere between 6 and 6:30. out of nowhere a child starts yelling.

"MOMMY? moooooooooooommy! poopy! DADDY POOPY mommypoopymommypoopy! poopydaddy!"

then whoever's turn it is to take the morning shift drags his/her sorry ass out of bed and goes into the baby's room. let's say it's me. i walk into her room and the child lights up with glee: "DADDY! IT'S A POOPY!" wiping the sludge from my eyes i lift her out of the crib. "should we change your diaper, sweetie?"

baby: "yeah. poopy."
dad: "no, sweetie, you don't have poopy. i can tell."
baby (defiantly): "yeah. POOPY!"

and of course she does not have a poopy. she just knows -- she has learned -- that if she yells "poopy" regardless of the facts in her pants, someone is going to eventually start paying attention to her.

the other night, mrs nice guy put the kid to bed. the kid did not want to go to bed. five minutes after the door was closed, we heard "MOOMMY! POOPY!" so mom walked back into her room and found the kid grabbing her butt and moaning "poooopy," which was pretty awesome. so mrs nice guy pulled her out of the crib and peeked at her diaper. no poopy. THE BABY, MERELY 20 MONTHS OLD, OFFICIALLY KNOWS HOW TO LIE AND MANIPULATE. I AM SO PROUD. mrs nice guy was suddenly in the absurd position of explaining to another human being that "there is no poopy in your pants! now go to sleep and stop saying poopy!" she gave the kid her toy train, her "choo-choo." she kissed her and left the room. two minutes later, we heard a metallic clatter-clunk -- the sound of the train being thrown from the crib. and then: "MOMMY! DADDY! CHOO-CHOO DOWN! UH-OH!"

she is a conniving little twerp, i'll say that much.

but her obsession with the poopy i believe is in earnest; it's not merely a tool with which to control her parents. she really loves the poop. when we look through picture books i'll point at, say, a drawing of a girl. i'll say "look, sweetie, that's a girl. you're a girl too!" and she'll say "gurrgl." "that's right sweetie! a girl!" and then she'll say "gurrgl has a poopy?"

when she is not saying poopy, the other word that is sure to come from her mouth a mind-bending number of times a day is "elmo" and also "ernie" and, my favorite, "oscar" which she pronounces "ocka." this is significant for one major reason: we do not watch TV in the nice guy house. we have a television, but no cable and no reception. we do, however, have a DVD player and, like, 4 dvds -- all sesame street related (except for the laurie berkner disc which is now burned indelibly into the synapses of my lower cortex. i know her every dance move, wretched wink and infuriating little body wiggle by heart.)

we have made a conscious decision to be evil parents and not have a functioning tv in our house at all ever. the occasional handpicked dvd? fine. but no nightly news/entertainment tonight/geraldo/the view/commercials/COPS/etc. it's hard to tell people about this decision because they mostly assume we are sanctimonious twats or fruity granolacakes. but we haven't really had a tv for about 10 years, so why start now? as it pertains to kids, i am familiar with all the arguments on both sides of this issue, and we lean more towards the AAP on this one. i mean, the american academy of pediatrics probably knows more about kids than i do. besides, i get to watch waaay more internet porn this way. also, netflix (and, let's be honest, the tv in my office) pretty much fill my tv needs. a little history: i am a reformed television junkie. if i had direct tv or tivo i would pretty much never talk to another sentient being or shower ever again. i would become the first-ever couch-human hybrid. it is for my own good that we do not have a tv that actually gets, like, channels.

the problem: my insanely willful daughter has apparently inherited my tube addiction. every morning, after she wakes us up with her filthy lies about having a poopy diaper, she then demands "elmo." and "ernie." and "elmoernie." and "ocka." and she DOESN'T STOP. it is very hard to say "no, sweetie, no tv this morning" when she is fully prepared to retaliate with "ELMO! ELMO! ELMO! ELMOELMOELMOELMOELMOELMO! ELMODADDY!" and her coup de grace: "elmopoopy!" it's not like she hasn't seen every single one of her 4 dvds about 984,368 times. this week. we do generally let her watch, on average, about 45 minutes a day. which is about 45 minutes more a day than i'm comfortable with -- she's not even two years old, ferchrissakes. don't get me wrong, i have been known to enjoy me some Sesame Street Old School even after my child has gone to bed. but why she needs urgently to see elmo choose which picture he wants to display at the monster art show AGAIN NOW AGAIN NOW AGAIN NOW is driving me to drink. by which i mean drink more than usual. by which i mean i am hoping to harvest my child for her liver in a year or two.

sometimes i cave and relent. i fail. i say (usually to myself) in top parenting form: FINE FUCKING WATCH TV UNTIL YOUR FUCKING EYES LEAK OUT YOUR FUCKING HEAD; SEE IF I FUCKING CARE! other times i manage to distract her with books and talk of poop for long enough that forgets ... for about an eighth of a second. and then she starts asking for tv again. mrs nice guy and i are both at a bit of a loss as to what to do. it's gotten a little dire. if the kid is at home, she wants to watch tv. it's all she asks for. it's all she talks about (aside from the poop that is likely not in her pants). we have resorted to keeping the tv unplugged because she has figured out how to load the DVD player and turn the thing on herself!

i was talking to an older colleague with a college-aged daughter the other day who asked how she was doing. i said "oh she's fine. a big fan of testing limits." he smirked and said "i was a big fan of setting limits." he went on to say that kids want limits, you just have to be firm. he said that his kid now says that he was "stricter than most of her friends' parents," and she does so "not without a little pride." i looked right up at him, nodded, and simply replied "poopy."

sort of like what holding a sax did for Coltrane

hey! what are you doing? sitting there in front of your screen, eyes glazed, spittle collecting at the corners of your mouth? go pick up a newspaper, bro! do it with a little flourish! all the stylish young lions are rocking the newsprint ...

what's that? forgot how to read a paper? need some pointers? here. take garrison keillor's hand. let him show you the way with his seven rules for reading the paper

Saturday, January 06, 2007

"aren't you johnny trash?"

i know this blog sometimes risks just becoming a youtube's greatest hits site, but dammit, there are some things that you people absolutely need to see, whether you realize it or not.

this is one of those things. there are not enough synonyms for "awesome" to adequately describe to you how awesome this is. the english language utterly breaks down when attempting to process the sheer face-melting amazingness of this clip. the human mind is incapable of understanding this much greatness. i may never post a youtube video again because, simply put, nothing will compare to this.

also, this is more proof that sesame street used to RULE. taken with my stevie wonder post, here you have further evidence that kids' music today is just pathetic (outside, of course, of a few shining examples like dan zanes and pancake mountain) and we are sorely depriving our wee-est ones.

my humble theory: kids don't need music that's been labratory-designed and focus-grouped and edge-free. kids don't need "kids music." kids just need good music.

my proof: mr. johnny cash ... with a little help from Oscar the Grouch.

i love it that oscar is such a hepcat, chiming in with "right on!" and "far out!" throughout the song.

Friday, January 05, 2007

how i started my all-ramen diet

so the new year has been off to quite a start, i must say. here's the first week quick nutshell:
  • on wednesday we sold our apartment
  • on thursday we bought our house
  • on friday i had 2,569 heart attacks
here's what i have learned from the process: selling property is awesome. you make a squijillion dollar profit -- free money! -- and the purchaser has to sit there like a groveling jester in the court of the Slumlord King, signing contract after contract after contract. you sit there for 3 hours (because you were too stupid to remember to give your lawyer power of attorney) and watch them develop debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome. then you laugh maniacally and count your money, only you can't count as high as a squijillion. you might even take a check and rub it into your bare chest, which you find to be less satisfying than it should be. or at least than it would be if it were a pile of crisp benjamins.

then. then the next day the tables turn! buying a house is less awesome. you sign your name eleventy thousand times in a row and then big mean lawyers take the squijillion dollars you made yesterday and you wonder why you didn't run away to mexico in the dead of the night.

but then you are handed keys! and suddenly you have a house! a house that isn't an apartment! this is a very special feeling. the house is beautiful and it's YOURS and it's a house and it's 100 years old and beautiful. and then you realize that since it's 100 years old and needs a new kitchen and could use 90 coats of paint and is probably sinking and has rotting guts or something, there's another squijillion dollars worth of work that needs doing before you can spend one minute inside. also, the bank owns your ass. this is when the heart attacks start.

and that's the third thing i learned, heart attacks hurt. a lot. and they don't stop just because you want them to.

but what i really wanted to talk to you about today was poop. yet ... i just can't do it right now. sorry, i am too busy having my 2,570th heart attack to give the poop stories the full love and attention they deserve ... perhaps another day. because, seriously, this is one hell of a first week. 2007 scares me.