Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Say what you mean. Mean what you say.

G, here are some hints to help with the translation of communication by your loving father and mother in case you ever find yourself confused:

When daddy says that he wants to leave by 8:00, he means that the car will actually be pulling away from the sidewalk en route to its intended destination within 60 seconds of the clock striking 8:00.

(I apologize for writing in the third-person but Elmo and Rickey Henderson must be rubbing off on me.)

When mommy says that she will leave somewhere by 8:00, she means some vague moment between 8:00 and 11:45 after she walks to Dunkies to get her coffee (she hasn’t missed a cup since sometime in the 1980’s, I think), showers, blow dries her hair, mulls through 4 or 5 different outfit possibilities while strewing them haphazardly throughout her room, catches up on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, checks her e-mail, and uploads some photos to Facebook. Then, she’ll be ready to go. And no matter what the clock says, it is 8:00 in her book.

When daddy says that he is tipping out on something, he really likes it.

When mommy says that something is her favorite thing in the universe or she hearts it big time, she really likes it.

When daddy says that he is fine, he really is.

When mommy says that she is fine, either you or I or both of us are in trouble.

When daddy says that dinner was good, he really means it.

When mommy says that our next door neighbor is “okay looking,” she’s lying. You can tell because she gets googley-eyed and thinks he’s a dreamy mchottie.

When daddy says that an outfit looks good on mommy, he really means it.

When mommy says that anything was “eh” and shrugs, there’s no way she liked it at all.

When daddy says he wants a treat, he would like an Irish whiskey or a vodka martini with olives.

When mommy says she wants a treat, it better have chocolate in, on, and/or around it.

When daddy says he’s going to bed early, he means sometime before midnight.

When mommy says that she’s staying up late, she means anytime after 9:30.

And when daddy and mommy say that they love you more than anything else in the world, they truly mean it.

A very happy and healthy new year to all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Other than one visit to the eye doctor’s office last week (G got a clean bill of health), the wife has been G’s only parent to bring her to the pediatrician’s office whenever to date. My excuse is that I have a really hard time seeing G bawl. Not to suggest that the wife endures G’s crying any easier than me, but she is apparently better at accepting those necessary evils like shots – or going to the mall during Christmas simply to fulfill the sadistic parent’s rite of passage.

You all know what I’m talking about you evil moms and dads – your child’s first traumatic encounter with the mall Santa Claus just for photographic evidence of your torture. For us kids of the 1970’s, those moments of terror were captured on Polaroids in eerie tones of white, green, and severe red eye. Perhaps you wore Star Trek-like one-piece outfits that matched with any siblings (you got paisley brown, brother/sister got mustard yellow) already born. Nowadays, some of those torturous moments are preserved eternally on memory cards in a digital state of high-definition.

Sometime during a winter college break in the 90’s, I experienced Christmas at the mall from the other side. That’s right. I got a gig temping as a mall Santa. Fake beard. Fake belly. Ho ho ho’s. The works. Bedford Mall. Next to the movie theater and across from the Post Office and Papa Gino’s. $7.00 per hour. What can I say, it was decent cash.

What you might not expect was that I was traumatized all over again playing the role of the tormenter. At least once per hour, a little one peed on my leg while screaming hysterically as parents blindly trudged forward yelling at my co-worker to continue snapping shots. Older kids challenged my North Pole cred by calling me out for the high tone of my voice. The fake beard obstructed my exhalations to the point that condensation saturated my moustache like Freddy Mercury’s in the 1980’s.

One bright spot was a naughty 30-something year-old who sat on my lap with her co-workers and whispered welcomingly inappropriate comments into my ear. Unfortunately, as a 20 year-old, I had no idea how to tame this budding cougar and just hiccupped some very unwitty response to her sultry provocations.

Anyway, back at the 2009 Hall of Justice, I suppose the token Santa visit and photo is the first in many “it builds character” moments for our poor children. For those of you who are either conspirators or bystanders to this potentially scarring experience, be sure to tip your Santas.

As for G, the wife fulfilled tradition and accompanied our daughter to her first encounter with Santa. I’ll let you decide how she felt about it. Check out the photo to your right.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Paradise Lost ... Or Not?

For 34 years, the bathroom has been a place of peace and quiet where I retreated to engage typically in relaxing activities. Brushing teeth? Therapeutic. Flossing? Orgasmic. Shaving/renegade brow plucking/miscellaneous manicuring? Satisfying. Exfoliating? Give me a break – have you seen my pores? Pooping while scouring the almanac for world capitals? Nirvana.

The other office has always been a refuge, or even a sanctuary, if you will. Unless, of course, my 83 Westland Ave. roommates and I devoured Cheung Kee grub on Mass. Ave. at 4 a.m. before calling it a night, in which case the next morning’s activities were generally violent.

Probably the least mentioned lifestyle change that veteran fathers warned me about was the extinction of peaceful bathroom use. The days of a crossword puzzle followed by Sudoku, all while on the bowl, are long gone.

On my early morning shift days (the wife and I rotate every other day), G-sizz and I stir mama around 7:30. In the days before February of 2009, wifey required several minutes to make the adjustment from sleep to awake. While she’s come a long way since bringing our daughter into this world, sleeping beauty still doesn’t exactly jump out of bed when beckoned.

To assist with the transitional stage, G and I adjourn to the bathroom where we brush our teeth together. I keep the peanut cradled like a bag of groceries in my right arm so as to prevent her from crawling around near the toilet or trash can. As G arbitrarily decides between chewing on her brush’s bristles or waving it around as she inspects her reflection in the mirror, I fumble left-handed around the upper molars with my brush.

I place G on the bedroom floor so both hands are available to apply the shaving cream. Before touching the blade to my right cheek (always first for some reason), I hear the alternating sound of a toothbrush clicking and a bare hand plopping against the floor as pajamas shuffle along. Next, I feel the tiny fingers first on my heels, then ankles, and up to my calves as the little creature stands, demanding to be restored to her prior perch. Now she wants to eat the lather on my face.

After the shave, I go right for the shower knob. Next, I abandon G-unit back in the bedroom. Maybe 30 seconds later, the shower curtain is pulled back. She flinches from the wet spray hitting her eyes, but the mini-monkey proceeds to grab at every one of the 37 assorted bottles of mama’s shampoos and canisters.

“Hey you!” Yes, the wife has come to save the day! She's my hero. Ahh, a peaceful shower. I love her – but ... wait a minute. Nope, she’s not taking Greta. Just peeing. Great. So now, the entire family of three is within four square feet of each other in our 30 square foot bathroom. Greta’s hair is now dripping and she’s eaten half a travel bottle of No Frizz conditioner.

On second thought, I love my ladies and I love my mornings. My bathroom is still a paradise after all. (Just don’t mess with my almanac, please.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Before Playlists...

Okay, G, another musical history lesson of sorts.

Back in the day, one could take a rectangular cartridge called a “blank cassette tape” to record 1) entire albums of music, 2) clips from the radio, or 3) the prehistoric ancestor of the iTunes playlist called the “mix tape.” From my personal experience, choices 1 and 2 were pretty rare although I admit to a brief stretch of listening (in the 80’s, mind you) to Z94.5 forever so I could record New Edition’s song that went, “You got to cool it, now. Oooh, watch out. You’re gonna lose control. Robbie, Bobbie, Ricky, and Mike. If I love the girl, who cares who you like?” or something like that. I loved that jam.

In any event, the “mix tape” was a serious endeavor when I was in junior high and even in high school. Unlike the relative ease in which a playlist maker can simply add or delete tracks with the click of a mouse, a mix tape maker had to pause at the perfect moments between songs. We also had to calculate the amount of available recording space on Sides A and B depending on whether you were going with the paltry 60 minute mix or a marathon 120 minute-er. Plus, you had to have the music on hand already! You couldn’t just pull up iTunes and download the song on the spot. You either recorded the song from a friend/the radio already, or bought an original version from Strawberries, Lechmere, or Bradlees.

Distinctions from a playlist aside, there were several, complicated components to a mix tape. First, who was this for? Was this a pump up the jam mix for yourself while jogging with your Walkman? A mix for someone you were hoping to make more than a friend after he/she heard your final product? Or was this a sex-you-up mix for your significant other? (Wait a second, G, that must have been after college because no one had sex until they were married, I swear.) Basically, the song selection was entirely contingent upon the tape’s recipient.

Second, you had to decide how to decorate the package. Was this just a straightforward the-music-speaks-for-itself kind of operation? Or was this a try-to-show-your-artistic-side-by-drawing-what-you-thought-were-really-cool-designs on it? Would you write the name of the band and the song? Would there be a common theme in your song selections? Would you write some really deep message on the inner lining? These were important considerations.

Third, and most importantly of course, how do you select the right song? To answer truthfully, I have no specific recollection. However, music (kind of like a rediscovered scent) has that wonderful element of reminding you of a forgotten memory. Accordingly, I broke down a list of possible “mix tape” songs depending on whether I was in junior high or high school as you will see, in no particular order...

1987 to 1989: Hooksett Memorial Junior High School – Home of the Hawks

1. Love Bites – Def Leppard – 8th grade dance drama.

2. Here I Go Again – White Snake – the crazy model who does the split on the car and married that pitcher from the Angels whose name I can’t remember – dudes, amen here?

3. You Shook Me All Night Long – ACDC – 7th grade hoops bus rides home.

4. Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi – skiing at MacIntyre and drinking peach wine coolers in the parking lot – yeah I was pretty tough.

5. (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party) – Beastie Boys – Before they were Buddhist humanitarians, the Beasties goofed around and had fun.

6. Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N Roses – Axl. Nuff’ said.

7. The Flame – Cheap Trick – 7th grade dance drama.

8. Never Tear Us Apart – INXS – Remember seeing this video a lot.

9. Red, Red Wine – UB40 – Thought this was reggae. Forgive me.

10. Like a Prayer – Madonna – Basically on repeat during the bus ride with my French class to Quebec and Montreal.

1989 to 1993: Manchester Central High School – Home of the Little Green

1. Gonna Make You Sweat – CC & the Music Factory – Riding in the back seat of Tolp’s Mazda as he drove 80+ mph anywhere.

2. Good Vibrations – Last song I remember before losing my virginity. Puke. Sorry, I lied before about no one having sex in high school.

3. Summertime – Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff – Driving around with the windows down to this song was just great.

4. Moon Shadow – Cat Stevens – Suddenly, I was a serious music fan.

5. Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd – Absolute staple to any mix tape.

6. In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel – Go John Cusack! Perhaps this song went back further but movies and music took a little while to make its way to Hooksett, sometimes.

7. Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers – This crazy kid from Iceland in my French class used to throw the best parties during and after school. I always associate this song with his basement.

8. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana – Distinctly remember sitting on the bus ride home from a track meet when I heard it for the first time. It rocked me to the core. Just the right sound at the right time.

9. Release – Pearl Jam – Just an absolutely beautiful song, period. I’m sure it reminds some peeps from my generation about tender moments. (Has Pearl Jam played anything since that can match its debut album? As Troy Aikman would say, I’m not so sure.)

10. One – U2 – Most likely for a significant other or someone you were trying to win over.
Well, readers. I’m sure I missed a million other staple mix songs from 1987 to 1993.

Tell G what I forgot to include. What were on your “Spring Break 1992” or “Graduation 1989” mixes? Let’s hear from the people who curled their bangs or donned flat tops, wore pegged pants and Coed Naked t-shirts, while drinking Natural Light and running from the po-po in the woods of Candia or Reynolds Field.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Spreading the Good Word

A true blog post will be forthcoming, but in the interim I wanted to advertise a few worthy causes and some business-related announcements:


Boston Firefighter's Local 718 Burn Foundation. My buddy Phil is one of Boston's finest and happens to be an enthusiastic supporter of this charity. You can help out by purchasing some wine (go here: or by attending a party this Thursday at the Greatest Bar in Boston beginning at 7 p.m. (see here for more info: ). For more information about the charity, check out

For those who didn't see my Facebook update last weekend, my friend Nikiki has started a scholarship for students in Jamaica that is really amazing. For more information about the foundation and how you can contribute, go to She recently organized a great fundraiser in Boston in association with the play "Jamaica, Farewell." Nice work!


Partygoers in the Hartford, CT area may be interested in attending Ugly Sweater Karaoke on December 17 at 10 p.m. hosted by my friend Erin who is the longtime proprieter of a cafe and beverage establishment called Tisane. For info about the cafe, go to You gotta love the advertisement to the right, eh? Cheers, E!

For those in need of assistance with hiring of finance and accounting professionals, my enterprising buddy Doug recently opened his own business called Bay Colony Search after many years in the industry. The complete web site is still under construction, but you can get his contact information and a little background on the business here: Congratulations and good luck, Bonesie!

My ambitious friend Megan recently launched a venture of her own called LocalizeIt, which assists businesses with search engine marketing as well as pay-per-click advertising models. Check out LocalizeIt's web site at Best of luck to you, Mountain Girl!

Please help spread the word and support these locally and independently owned businesses.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Homage to the Jacks

My brother, my sister, and I have loved movies since we were kids. One of our favorites, if not the favorite of all time, is “Mr. Mom.” We used to be able to recite every single line, which generally annoyed anyone within earshot.

For those who may not either recall or have not yet seen the film (gasp), I’ll briefly re-cap the plot. The Butler family lives in a Detroit suburb in the early 1980s. The father, Jack, gets laid off from the car plant. The mother, Caroline, goes back to work to support the family. Jack becomes part of the housewives clique and adjusts to being the stay-at-home parent. Meanwhile, Caroline adapts to the dog-eat-dog world of advertising.

About halfway through the movie, Jack and Caroline are experiencing a strain in their marriage while adjusting to their new family dynamic. Both parents thought Jack would be able to find a job and return to being the bread winner. Consequently, he never really embraced his role as a househusband and underachieved during the day by drinking beers, watching soaps, ironing grilled cheese sandwiches, and letting the house fall into disarray.

Inevitably, tension erupts between the couple when Caroline comes home after a long day at work only to find Jack playing coupon poker with his newfound lady friends and flirting with the busty Joan. Anywho, Jack and Caroline confront each other about their unhappiness. Without consulting the internets, I believe Jack makes the following statement to Caroline to explain what he’s been going through:

“My brain [pointing to his head and hesitating] is like oatmeal. Yesterday, I yelled at Kenny for coloring outside the lines. Megan (his one year-old daughter) and I are watching the same TV shows. And I’m liking them. I’m losing it.”

Last week Greta experienced her first cold. Consequently, her sleep schedule was awful. Add to the situation that I love staying up late and I got a flu shot on Thursday, my brain has been a lot like oatmeal. I suddenly realized that I sincerely enjoy two of Gigi’s TV shows that we watch when she wakes up at 5 in the morning and I’m trying to get her to fall back asleep: “Jack’s Big Music Show” and “Yo Gabba Gabba.” I’ll go in order.

Jack, his dog Mel, and his super swell friend Mary are puppets who play music in his clubhouse and teach really cute lessons. Every episode they get a visit from the Schwartzmann Quartet who are a cappella puppets. They also get an occasional visit from real people like Dr. String who made a house call last episode to sing while fixing Mary’s hammer dulcimer, which Jack accidentally broke but decided to disclose after encouragement from the Schwartzmen.

I am not exaggerating when I say that this show makes me laugh out loud at least two or three times per episode, and I tip out on the music. (Seriously, I just downloaded a couple songs on iTunes.) Plus, there is a curly-haired woman who cameos almost every episode during an interlude music video who has a pretty nice rack.

As for “Yo Gabba Gabba,” it’s kind of like a more hip variation of “Sesame Street.” First, the music on this show is great. Here’s just a sampling, and yes, these are all on the iPod. “There’s a party in my tummy. So yummy, so yummy yummy.” The song stops because the carrots and green beans are upset that they weren’t eaten. Then a new beat kicks in and the party starts up again when the veggies are swallowed.” Great stuff.

However, “Gabba” is equally entertaining for the graphic design, DJ Lance, and the shots of “My name is ___ and I like to dance.” As G-sizzle and I cuddled on the couch in the early morning dark last Friday morning, I found myself hoping that Foofa (unfortunately not Fupa, as we originally thought) would have the opening solo because her voice is just so eerily comforting to me. I thought it might help lull G back to sleep because I certainly could have snoozed. G never dozed but she was pretty mellow and I enjoyed every minute of being cozy together under our blanket.

The point of the story is this – for all the Jack and Caroline Butlers out there finding themselves sleep deprived and unfamiliar with the “South to drop off, North to pick em up” school zone commute situations, I feel your pain. We’ll get through this together.

So, any stay-at-home parents out there in Southie interested in doing Jazzercise together at my place on Mondays when I work from home with G? We can watch “As the World Turns” together and comment about how Victor’s vasectomy didn’t take so Vicky’s having his baby. By the way honey, if you call and I’m not here, I’ll either be at the gym or the gun club. How’d you like a little trim on that moustache, Ron? Schooner tuna. Irv, are these tampon maxi pads on special? It’s okay Irv. Nevermind. Forget about it.

Don’t get it? Rent “Mr. Mom,” for crying out loud – or at least check out Jack and DJ Lance.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bats in the Cave

G’s boogie counts were off the charts this week due to her first bout of sniffles – not quite a cold, just a noticeable nose whistle when she has the binkie in her mouth. We use this rubber bulb to suction out the bats in her cave because 1) even our pinkies are way too big to infiltrate her nostril and 2) G has not yet discovered the true mystery and sheer satisfaction of picking her nose.

Perhaps I am nostalgic for him because it is October and the Yanks are back in the World Series, but Joe Torre was the master public nose picker. Joe would be sitting in the Yankees’ dugout knowing full well that a TV camera could be on him at any time, but he would feel the call to arms as a boogie beckoned from one of his cavernous nostrils. So Joe would employ what I like to call the “J.T. technique.” He would quickly pinch and pull on the wall of his nose with a thumb and index finger for quick evacuation and lightly flick away. Mission accomplished. No public humiliation.

As I was walking into work the other day, I saw a great looking women in a suit do the “J.T.” without even blinking. Why is this move so acceptable, yet an all out digging for gold technique is still shunned and disgusted by contemporary society? Answer: the disposal.

Obviously, a tissue is the preferred technique for boogie disposal because one can easily toss a used one in the trash. The J.T. implies that the boogies are light and crusty so perhaps they are less disgusting in nature than the alternative. Digging for gold, however, suggests that you’ve got huge boulders or possibly even the dreaded wet-dry stringer hybrids. Where does the picker dispose of the latter kind? Therein lies the scorn of any observer to such a feat.

I confess that I am a huge fan of nose picking. Especially at a urinal or while driving. It’s just automatic. But don’t worry, it’s the J.T. technique so it’s acceptable. There it is. The truth is out there. I feel so relieved. I can probably date Kate Hudson now and hit over .400 in the MLB playoffs.

Of course, the wife and I will emphasize the importance of tissue usage to G-monster as she gets older. It would be hypocritical of me to chastise G if I do catch her in the act. When that happens, though, I will be sure to watch her technique and encourage the style of Joe Torre. Go Yankees!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reality Means Anonymity, Not Celebrity

Okay I admit US Weekly is an occasional guilty pleasure for a myriad of reasons, but especially for the “Stars – They’re just like us!” section. I just imagine creepy paparazzi staked out in an Aries K-car full of fast food wrappers and assorted camera equipment waiting hours for that perfect shot of an Olsen twin emerging from an organic taqueria in Greenwich Village blasting a Marlboro, holding a 64-ounce cup of coffee, while sporting shades bigger than both of their heads added together, but she’s “just like us” because she bought a burrito.

The most recent cover of US I saw showed America’s newest celebrated divorcing mom and dad. Mom has the blond pheasant toupee that will be a smash hit this Halloween, and dad is the bloated, prematurely mid-life crisis experiencing guy complete with diamond studs. Yes, I’m talking about Jon and Kate Gosselin of course.

The wife has been a fan of their show for a long time and I’ve suffered through a few episodes here and there. By no means do I declare myself an authority of any sort over who is right or wrong with respect to their recent drama. Honestly, I don’t care. I just feel sorry for their children. In fact, both parents make me wince uncomfortably whenever I hear or see either one of them addressing a camera of any sort.

I suppose at the genesis of the show, the idea of televising their unique family situation was arguably an innocent way to supplement the household income. After all, they did have 8 mouths to feed.

Although their story was admittedly compelling, I doubt anyone foresaw the extent to which they would become celebrities. The frenzied tabloid coverage they’ve drawn since the marital problems arose publicly seems more appropriately reserved to greater accomplished head cases like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, or Lindsay Lohan. Maybe because of this notoriety, I can’t help but suspect that both of the Gosselins privately craved fame when they decided to launch the show – or at least assumed the risk that they could become “reality celebrities.”

This brings me to my next point. (Wait a second, I’m getting out the old soap box.) The entire concept of a “reality” TV show absolutely blows my mind away. The idea of anything realistic happening on any of those shows could not be further from the truth. First, let me distinguish the reality competition shows like Project Runway, Top Chef, and SYTYCD (obv – greatest shows ever!) that celebrate actual talent, as well as those documentary-esque shows like Deadliest Catch (strangely entertaining), as opposed to those:

1) with fabricated “reality” plot lines celebrating shallow, talentless, wholly worthless individuals (see anything ever shown on MTV or starring Paris Hilton);
2) that recruit contestants from the slums of Desperateville (see above and any episode of The Bachelor/Bachelorette) to accomplish a sacred vow like, I don’t know, marriage; and
3) with main characters who go onto Larry King Live or The Today Show to publicly argue in the court of public opinion why he/she is so right and their future ex-spouse is so wrong.

Are we Americans so intoxicated with the idea that fame solves all of our problems and cures our unhappiness that we prefer becoming a celebrity for any stupid reason, instead of just living our lives as good people in anonymity? I pose this question on the heels of reports that a former Wife Swap father so desperately craves fame that he staged a hoax about a runaway hot air balloon using his poor 6 year-old son to lie and barf on national television, in order to land his own reality TV show.

Simply put, the shows that fall into any of the aforementioned 3 categories simply have little to nothing in common with actual reality. We real people go to work, raise our children, care for our homes, love our families, pursue our passions, struggle emotionally and financially all the time, fight over issues that truly matter, regroup, recover, and repeat. We are the ones who deserve free drinks and line privileges at bars – but we don’t have the time, energy, or money to go because we’re too busy working and just plain getting by!

Okay, I’m off the soap box now. Wow, I think I just blacked out like Frank the Tank during the debate in Old School. Where was I?

Let’s just say I would never in a million years sign up to televise my family life. I prefer my hugs and kisses from G and the wife to be in the warm privacy of our home, far away from any zoom lenses, confessional booth cams, and accompanying soundtracks with the coolest new Death Cab For Cutie jam – just like other real people. I mean, right?

Friday, October 2, 2009


No alarm clock necessary. G is automatic for the 6 a.m. wake up. She squawks and beckons from the crib, sometimes tapping a binkie repeatedly against the rails or just plain letting her pipes loose. I got the early shift this morning. Time to get up.

I shuffle in my undies over to the bowl and pee. Flush. Hand wash. G hears the noise and you can tell she’s waiting. She’s trying to stand in the crib even though her sleeper sack easily trips her during the hurried attempts to rise up. As I creep along the hallway, she sounds as if she just stumbled. I peek my head into her room.

“Hwaaaaaaaaahhhhh,” she screeches pterodactyl-like. G is standing in a semi-squat position resting her arms on the top rail to balance as she bounces up in down with glee. I greet my little one like a female gymnast after, well, basically any event that a gymnast just completed – and she’s kicking and squirming in delight.

Sleeper sack off. Remove the diaper and wonder at its weight as I fold it up. Replace with a dry one while swatting away the kicking hamhocks. (All in the dark, thank you.) We move to the kitchen as she yanks at my chest hair with one hand and clutches in the other hand whatever object I could find to distract her during the diaper change: a stray shoe, Timmy the Turtle, a squeeze bottle of Bacitracin.

I place G into this “Phil & Ted’s me too” baby seat, which suspends off the side of our kitchen counter top with screw-in attachments. The binkie’s still in her mouth. I go over to the sink and challenge myself, as I do every time, to fill the bottle as close to exactly 6 ounces as possible. 6.5. I’m a little off.

Three scoops of formula next. Attach the remaining bottle components. Cover. Shake. Turn back to G- sizzle who’s been waiting impatiently for her breakfast. I smile until I see it for the first time.

After a few seconds, I flash back to my pledging days at college. I think of vomiting beer into a T-shirt breast pocket and slamming it with my hand to indicate I was done. I think of spewing assorted parts of multiple goldfish out of my mouth onto the head of a pledge brother. I think of Montezuma tequila blasting its way through my nostrils and the burn that dripped post-nasally. Please tell me G can projectile vomit, too.

The night before, a backing to the wife’s earring fell out. She innocently removed the backless one and then the other, placing them on the kitchen counter top. We went to sleep. A few minutes ago, I turned my back to make the bottle and saw for the first time that only one earring was laid on the counter easily within G’s grasp.

At this moment, an EKG would definitely show an uptick in my cardiac activity. I grab the abandoned earring and immediately look on the floor under Greta. Nothing. Adrenal glands now kicking in. Inner monologue tidbit: “Michelle’s gonna kill me… Guess I’ll have to call out from work today… Looks like we’re taking our first trip to the emergency room… Maybe the bottle will help induce her to puke it up if I overfeed her a little bit…”

No matching earring in sight. Okay, here goes. (Hurried walk back to the bedroom.)

Me: “Hi honey, how’d you sleep?”

Wife: “What’s wrong?”

Me: “Nothing.”

Wife: “Why are you waking me up?”

Me: “No reason. Um, so, did you happen to take one of your earrings into the bedroom last night?”

Wife: “No, why?”

Me: “Um, nothing. Just ruling out whether Greta may have swallowed the earring that YOU put on the counter directly next to where she eats without telling me. Be right back.”

Now I’m running back towards Greta. She’s pissed that I haven’t brought her a bottle. I yank her out of her seat and feel around desperately. “Could she pass the earring in her poo?,” I ask myself because I clearly do not wish to ask the wife this question when -

YES! JACKPOT! Holy shit. Thank God. Phew. Back to the bedroom.

Me: “Go back to sleep, hon. I got the earring.”

Wife: “Are you freaking kidding me right now? You just gave me a heart attack.”

Me: “Nothing to see here. Just go back to sleep. False alarm. Sorry. Ha! That was funny, huh?”

Wife: “I’m getting up, I can’t sleep.”

Crisis averted! Wow, that adrenaline was better than coffee. Returning to G, I see that she is chewing on the laptop’s electrical cord. Good times. 6:13 a.m.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Before Greta, there was Wally. He was raised in a Southie brothel – I mean apartment – by the wife and “all the single ladies” with whom she lived at the time many moons ago. They weaned him on Fancy Feast, expressions of feelings, The Bachelor, and sangria – basically the perfect recipe for spawning a pimp.

When I met Walter back in 05’ at Pacific Street, I sighed and thought “Oh great, she’s one of those single girls with a cat.” In other words, pretend to like her pussy (pause) cat if I want to get her pussy (pause) willow … but little did I know, this cat was of the coolest variety.

Wally strutted around our home like he just owned the joint. Passersby might try to call him over, but he wouldn’t just stop for anybody. You needed to have some type of rapport or history with him. Basically, you had to be one of his peeps.

The Wall-man was a hulking, feline mass of black, white, grey, and light brown stripes. He had a small pie slice missing out of one of his ears, which was a souvenir from a back alley fight during his rookie season. He went undefeated from that time until a minor setback with raccoons (yes, plural) back in 07’ but he dragged himself back to the ring to re-assert his dominance of the East Third and G Street Southie sector a couple weeks later.

Despite Wally’s tough exterior, he had a keen sense when one of his loved ones was down. He had an uncanny knack for crawling up on a lap and maybe even licking an arm, at just the right time. He was especially close to his most loving and longest-serving parent, Shell. “He is my rock,” she would tell me all the time. Let's just say, he knew her moods better than I did most of the time.

Of course, the 20+ pound mass of loving, hairy warmth won me over probably after the first time he plopped himself on my chest as I laid in bed one night. His purring was like the perfect, wonderful lullaby. The ever growing affection I had for him was eroding my machismo. My preconception that "straight men don’t love cats,” couldn't have been more wrong.

Over time, I came to marvel at Wally’s unique qualities. For example, he growled when the door bell rang. He came running from out of nowhere when I whistled for him to come home. As he crossed the street, his belly would sway from side to side as he said “mow wow mow wow” which translates in cat to “where the hell have you been, I’ve been waiting forevah fo’ ya across the street” in a thick, Boston accent. But most impressively to me, Wally could get an erection from licking his own scrotum. (Seeing his lipstick always made me think of the meat beneath the shell of a lobster claw, for some reason.) Moving on.

After I knocked up the wife, we speculated about how Wally would react to his future sibling’s presence. He was, after all, an only child for over 9 years by the time February of 2009 rolled around. When we came home from the hospital with G, our worries about Wally’s feelings towards her evaporated when we caught him affectionately nuzzling the side of her face. We were a happy family.

Unfortunately, we lost our little man during the same week that my grandmother passed away, which was a few weeks after Greta was born. Wally went missing before we had left for my grandma’s services in New York. When we returned, we received the bad news about Wally from a neighbor. He was most likely hit by a car. It was a bad week, to say the least.

Walter Cooney Teravainen now sleeps peacefully beneath a beautiful, flower garden in Carver close to where Greta will be playing happily in the years to come. I imagine that he went running with his belly swaying into the Pearly Gates. I hope he gave a nice “mow wow” to those who greeted him.

I am grateful to Wally for introducing me to a sort of fatherhood. He was the first pet that I ever called my own. He is and will continue to be missed in our home. I needed some time before I could appropriately memorialize him. I hope I did justice to his mystique.

To all of you loving parents of furry children out there, give them a nice hug, kiss, and a special treat in memory of the Wall-man tonight. Maybe that early morning wake up tomorrow will not be so bad after all!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rip Van Greta Snoozebug

(I’ve decided to temporarily discontinue updates on the Facebook about new blog postings because I’m worried that readers are on overload from me. I’m feeling a bit insecure and overexposed circa Britney Spears and her 2008 streak of photos exiting cars commando. I’ll wait until my publicist says the coast is clear.)

Watching Greta sleep at night is one of the happiest moments in my typically uneventful daily routine. The position is always unpredictable. She could be contorted like a yogi master on her side crammed into the corner. She could be on her back in the center of the crib, her chest moving ever so slightly as she breathes. Like any child’s face to his or her parent, G’s during sleep is precious, innocent, and angelic.

When Greta is sleeping peacefully, I imagine she is dreaming of limitless quantities of formula in a bottle that she can swipe away yet never leaves her mouth. Or possibly endless bath time with Mr. Crab, Timmy the Turtle, and Jenny Jellyfish. Maybe a crib piled high with cell phones and remote controls for unlimited gnawing and chewing.

It surprises me, though, that her restless sleeps aren’t more frequent considering her days are basically fodder for bad LSD trips. Think about it. Constant exaggerated facial expressions by mom, dad, or BFF Kate with over-the-top, wide eyed smiles. Songs with confusing topics like bags of wool, spiders walking up spouts, and bridges collapsing in London. Words for letters, numbers, and colors in Spanish. It’s amazing she can get any sleep at all.

The next best thing to watching her sleep, is greeting her when she wakes up. Kicking her legs, babbling, and rolling around, she looks up at me with a drooly smile and a pterodactyl screech. Maybe my daily routine isn’t so uneventful after all…

Monday, September 7, 2009

Spring Break Shark Attack!

Here’s the Comcast info description of this 2005 made-for-TV movie: “A sheltered college gal encounters studly predators on land and killer sharks in the water during spring break.” I think .7 seconds elapsed before selecting “record” on the DVR. Who could possibly pass up such a horribly awesome program? Certainly not someone watching the “Sy Fy” channel at 11 pm on a Sunday night. While I watched for gratuitous scenes of wet 20 year-olds in two-pieces, I actually received valuable lessons in parenting.

This is what we learn in the opening scenes: Danielle is a busty college student who commutes to college while protecting her virginity. Her parents refuse to let her go to Florida for spring break. Somehow, Danielle convincingly justifies her desire to wrestle in kiddie pools full of jello with other girls in bikinis because father once cheated on mother. Of course, in complete disregard of her parents' instructions, she leaves the next day on a plane to meet her two girlfriends who are staying in a beach house nice enough for Puff Daddy to host his annual white party.

(Don’t forget the equally clichéd Taken also involved a girl disobeying her father’s instructions about traveling and she almost became a concubine – let’s see where Danielle’s decision takes her.)

DAD LESSON 1: Anytime your daughter is planning to go away on a trip, lie to her about natural disasters striking the exact area where she intends to travel. If she persists, chain her to her bed until the spring break week is over. She’ll hate you but at least she will become less popular and less likely to be invited on future spring break trips. Back to the movie.

While the three girls are sunbathing on the beach, one of the girl’s boyfriends (Max) is astonished to learn that they crashed his vacation plans because he and his buddy (J.T.) planned on making a spring break-themed “Girls Gone Wild” video. That night, Max is dancing with his girlfriend but unabashedly hits on a different girl on the dance floor while his g.f. is looking the other way. We soon learn that evil people die horribly in this cinematic masterpiece when Max and his around-the-way girl are devoured during a naughty swim in the ocean.

Meanwhile J.T. is somehow fascinated with humping Danielle even though her friend Karen is ten times hotter and 100 times sluttier. Fortunately for the audience, local nice guy Shane (too poor to go to college so he works with mom at their boat rental shop) enters the scene and vies for Danielle’s affection. Naturally, J.T. is overmatched in this battle to feed Danielle’s horses so he resorts to slipping a roofie into Danielle’s drink like any typical creep on spring break. Don’t worry, Shane foiled J.T.’s plan but not before Danielle called home to confess about her disobedience to her father.

DAD LESSON 2: Anytime your daughter calls you intoxicated or otherwise inebriated from a place where she was not supposed to be, you travel immediately to that location with an unloaded gun and a shovel. Upon arrival, you tell any dudes near your daughter that you intend to use the shovel to hack up their body after you shoot them. In all likelihood, they’ll help carry your daughter to the car when you will subsequently transport her home. (See Lesson 1.)

The next day, J.T. inexplicably visits Shane to “thank” him for helping to take care of Danielle. As a token of appreciation, J.T. offers to hire Shane for a 24-hour boat ride with the three girls. (Meanwhile, Max has been missing for 2 or 3 days and no one seems to care.) Shane objects but his mom really needs the money so Shane relents. Just before disembarking, Danielle’s dad arrives and embarrassingly confronts her. Defiantly, Danielle jumps on the boat as J.T. laughs in dad’s face.

DAD LESSON 3: When attempting to kidnap your daughter in front of her friends, calmly convince her to speak with you privately first, then throw her over your shoulder to complete the abduction. Punch J.T. in the face later.

The boat ride ensues followed by a near death experience with two tiger sharks. Clearly, Danielle’s virginity spared her from tragedy as the sharks opted not to attack her – the only person in the entire movie spared from losing limbs. During the struggle to evade the sharks, the boat is slightly damaged and almost sinking. The crew is forced to stay the night on an island ½ a mile away so that Shane can repair the engine. As they get off the boat, Danielle discovers J.T.’s stash of roofies, which he brought with him on the boat for reasons that defy logic. Shane, Danielle, and her two friends ostracize J.T. but allow him back on the boat the next day when they return to shore.

In the interim, the audience discovers that a businessman from a rival town previously used Shane’s boat to chum the waters in an effort to lure sharks to the new beach front that has stolen his profits. He hoped the sharks’ presence would divert the spring breakers back to his bar where they used to go. The best part about this preposterous evil plan is that the businessman is Tom Cruise’s partner, Coughlin, from “Cocktail” who apparently resorted to these guerilla business warfare tactics because the bottle throwing show at his “Hopes and Dreams” bar just wasn’t drawing the spring break crowds he had in 1988.

Anyway, J.T. decides to drown his sorrows of failing to rape Danielle by getting drunk and hitting on a different set of girls. While he parties with hundreds of other college kids on a floating stage at a beach party, they somehow fail to notice approximately 57 tiger sharks infiltrate the waters around them. Mass bloodshed ensues and J.T. (don’t forget he is evil) meets an appropriate ending as a tiger shark tears him apart. Shane, Danielle, and Danielle’s brother (don’t ask) save the day by luring the sharks away using methods that are irrelevant for purposes of my summary. Shane’s mom appropriately chastises Coughlin before police take him away. Shane and Danielle finally french. The end.

DAD LESSON 4: Pray that for every trip that your Danielle takes without permission, a Shane will be out there to protect her long enough for a tiger shark to eliminate J.T. from the equation. If your daughter turns out to be Max’s secret hook up girl, go back to Lessons 1 through 3 before it’s too late!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Say Cheese

G-sizzle’s two front lower teeth recently poked through her gum. Depending on the facial expression she makes, you can get a quick glimpse of them. I try to pull her lower lip down to see the central incisors (thanks Google!) but she gets annoyed and swats my finger away with her forearm of sausage links. Upon seeing the teeth for the first time, a few questions arose in my head:

How long until I don a tutu and play the tooth fairy? What is the going rate for a lost tooth these days, adjusting for the recession and of course, the state of the current economy (the blame of all current evils)? What happens if she catches me as I’m trying to do the cash-for-tooth exchange?

Furthermore, what kind of orthodontic work is my daughter going to require as an adolescent? Considering the dental makeup of her mom and dad, it’s a good possibility that head gear, rubber bands, and awkward pronunciations of esses are in her future sometime between 5th and 8th grade.

What I notice most about braces is not the actual hardware. I mean, they’re noticeable but after a while, I forget about them. More so, it’s the awkward way that many braces wearers curtain their lips over the teeth in a feeble attempt to hide the evidence, as if to throw off the scent. “Nothing to see here folks. Just a normal set of pearly whites here. Move along.” All I can think of is a boxer before a fight after the trainer plops in the mouth guard before squirting some water in his mouth. Brett Favre and Tom Cruise always did this during their adult invisalign periods. Overall, though, no big deal.

At least the wife was fortunate enough to get braces as a kid. She apparently had a good set of bucked out choppers and did the whole 80’s grille circa Jennifer Grey in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Martha Plimpton in The Goonies (they had braces, right?).

Unfortunately or not, AIG did not have a dental plan when we were growing up so I was blessed/cursed/stuck with my gap on the upper deck. Honestly, I’ve been totally content with my gap for a long time. It took some time and teasing of course to get there. But at this point, if dentures are in my future, I’ll opt for a recreation of the gap as long as the replica isn’t Michael Strahan-esque.

Whether G grows buck teeth, a gap, or even a shit tooth, I am comfortable knowing that cosmetic orthodontic solutions abound. However, there is one dental fear for G-sizzle that I dread worse than zombies, Sarah Palin boosters, or Greta alone in a bar with a single, 55 year-old Casey O’Connell: the dreaded food in teeth phenomenon. My teeth crevices are like a Venus fly trap for food scraps, I swear. Might as well just pack a box of tooth picks with me 24-7.

While the horror and embarrassment of discovering a post-meal treat long after several conversations, laughs, and grins with multitudes of people are excruciating, it doesn’t compare to the frustration I experience when a friend or relative who admits he/she chose not to disclose that half a pound of chicken was visible in my teeth for all the world to see beginning 2 hours ago. And don’t even get me started on the red wine/wood teeth thing.

Greta, don’t worry kid, I got your back. Not only do we have dental coverage, but I’ll give you the head’s up when broccoli or poppy seeds decide to stick around in the fangs after a meal. Just make sure you tell me, too!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


While feeding a bottle to G as she sat on my lap the other day, I sensed that all too familiar vibration ripple on my thigh. As I pondered whether it was a dry fart or one with bonus features, I dare say a sly grin came across my daughter’s face. At that moment, I wanted to high five her.

Let’s be frank. Farts are funny. They sound funny. They smell funny. They are funny among friends and family. They are especially funny when occurring outside of friends and family. Well, okay, at least for me and anyone else with a juvenile sense of humor.

Just think about the word itself. FART. Could there possibly be another word that more appropriately fits its definition? “Flatulate” just doesn’t do it for me. I think queens and dukes “flatulate.” Normal folks fart. And Massholes fahht.

Usually, if a variety of euphemisms exists in lieu of a proper word, it’s a good indication that the proper word refers to a body part and/or bodily function. For example, penis and dong dong, vagina and vajajay, breasts and booby salad, scrotum and ball bag, defecate and poop, urinate and piss like a race horse, etc. Sorry, I digress.

As for farts, we’ve got a myriad of euphemistic substitutes for flatulence. One alternative is the polite “passing gas.” Then, there is the old school “breaking wind.” And, of course, don’t forget the 1980s elementary “cutting the cheese.” We even use euphemisms to temporarily distract bystanders within earshot of our gas passing such as the sincere “is that a squeaky board?” or the naturalist “did you hear that barking spider?”

Admittedly, I would classify myself as a quite gaseous person. Everything makes me fart. Beans of all sorts and pretty much any stereotypical Mexican food, no surprise. Frozen yogurt especially. Anything with garlic. Fresh fruit definitely. Multiple draft beers from dive bars, particularly. Wheat bread – no joke. For Gigi’s sake, I hope she didn’t get my colon. If she did, perhaps I write this to pre-empt some of the societal shame and embarassment of simply carrying out a function of the digestive system.

On a different note, farting is a good measuring stick to determine how tight you really are with a person. In other words, who is in your fart circle of trust? Is there really any better way of gauging how comfortable one feels in the company of another than to toot at will in their presence?

I released the hounds in front of the wife on our second date. I was tired of holding the gas in until it was safe to crop dust away. (We went out for pizza at Woody's.) I decided to cut to the chase (and the cheese, for that matter) by revealing my true gassy side. Fortunately, she didn’t hold it against me. And now we have our little girl.

So, G-Spice, I write this to you now. Thank you for letting me into your fart circle of trust. That is, at least while your diet is still just formula and rice cereal. Go ahead, pull my finger.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Want to Ride My Bicycle!

The wind whipped my slightly feathered, middle-parted bowl cut as I coasted speedily down Union Street on my 12-speed. I felt triumphant and exhilarated after a long awaited make out sesh with Carla Gresham. It was the summer before my sophomore year. My driver's license wouldn't be until the following year but at least the bike could get me around for the time being. Things were looking up.

If my bike ride was an episode from The Hills, "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas would be playing in the background as I smiled and head bobbed to the beat. Although I'd also probably be text messaging on an iPhone while driving a BMW suv without a license.

Unfortunately, my moment of euphoria was short lived. A brake handle became detached from the handlebars, which eventually lodged into the spokes of the right front tire. Several facial abrasions and an undiagnosed concussion later, I had to explain to my parents why I disobeyed their order not to pedal the 8 mile return leg from Manch to Hooksett after dark.

Now fast forward to a few weeks ago when I bought a used ("burns my fingers" hot) mountain bike off Craigslist from a shady dude in a Dorchester basement. During one of my subsequent commutes home from work, the post-frenching wipeout of 1991 flashbacked in my head and my thoughts eventually moved to G-sizzle. I think my inner monologue went something like this:

"That kiss was still so worth the wreck. Yeah, I must have been what - 15? Probably... Hmm, where was Carla's dad when the business was going down? (Downshifting as the road inclines.) What the hell am I gonna do if I catch some pumpkin haired teenager sucking face with my little girl? I mean, I don't want to deprive her of innocent teenage rites of passage. I like to think that I'm on the progressive side, but what is too much freedom?... And what about the blatant disobedience of my parents for the sake of a crush? What kind of stunt is G gonna pull that will make me cringe?... Man, this hill goes on forever. I'm definitely sweating through my shirt by now... At least I have a long time to develop a game plan... Hey, maybe I should get one of those bike cabooses so that Greta and I can ride around together."

So on that note, I look to you readers, fellow parents, and anyone who accidentally found themselves on this page. Any good or bad experiences on child seat/attachment-thingies to a bike, out there? If so, what brand and model?

And while you're at it - do you turn a blind eye to frenching under your roof, because at least you know you can find a lame excuse to enter the living room at any moment? Or is it just easier to enforce a strict "no tonsil hockey allowed" zone in your house?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Dirty Seagull meets Crazy Legs McGigi

Based on this audition tape alone, Nigel Lithgow has agreed to waive the age requirements for both Shell and Greta so that they may compete on "So You Think You Can Dance" next season. They are going straight to Vegas.

Crazy Legs gets her groove on at the 34-second mark, and then again at 1:13.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Reunited … and it feels so good!

So three good buddies marry three sisters. They live within a few blocks of each other in Brooklyn. They have kids. They rotate Sunday dinners at each other’s homes. Their kids grow up together. Their kids party together, play games together, get in trouble together, and end up just plain loving each other. That is pretty much my dad’s side of his maternal family in a nutshell.

My grandmother Grace Teravainen’s maiden name is Triano. Grace’s sisters Rose and Dorothy (“Dottie”) ended up marrying buddies Frank Kelly and Pete (“Dude-a-bops”) Milazzo. Frank and Pete were buddies with my grandfather Allan. He was born in Finland but ended up somehow in Duxbury, Massachusetts and eventually in New York.

Last weekend, as they have done every year for more than a decade, my father’s cousin Marie (Milazzo) Williams and her husband Doug hosted a Triano family reunion at their home in Bloomville, New York. You need to get a visual before we proceed.

First, Bloomville is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Farms dot the hilly, green landscape with pretty wooded areas separating most neighbors. As you pull your car up to a reunion, this is what you will see.

The Williams’ home is a beautiful, two-story farmhouse set on a few acres of lawn, flower gardens, and trees. A huge barn sits to the house’s left, which functions as a poker hall, concert house, and saloon – more about this later. As you walk past the barn up a small incline, you will see an old two-story schoolhouse and a large function tent immediately next to it with a bunch of picnic tables underneath. By the way, a four-wheeler and a golf cart could be buzzing by you at any moment, which are usually operated at unsafe speeds by kids too young for driver’s licenses. As you come under the tent, a charcoal grill is to your right. A covered deck adjacent to the schoolhouse is on its back side, which overlooks a large open backyard surrounded by a sprawling corn field and a steep hill with tall grass to the right. The yard is our bocce court.
Meanwhile, most folks pitch their sleeping tents in various locations of the yard between the house and the picnic tables. Some people sleep in their cars, others in the schoolhouse, while the truly adventurous sleep at the Buena Vista motel about 8 miles away.

As stated previously, my father’s generation of Triano cousins (and not just the children of Grace, Rose, and Dottie) had their own bonds and shared experiences growing up in Brooklyn. As they married and mated, many of them relocated to greener pastures. Due to the geographic distance and lack of opportunities to spend time together, the Triano cousins planned sporadic reunions in random locations or used special occasions like weddings to accomplish their bonding time.

Over time, the cousins’ spouses and children were added to the mix. They, too, began to enjoy and partake in the bonding of the reunions, holidays, or whatever event they may be spending together. Ultimately, Doug and Marie hosted their first reunion at Bloomville and the annual pilgrimage to their home began.

As Bloomville became a staple event of everyone’s summer schedule, my generation of “cousins” also began to stage our own reunions at different times throughout the year. For example, uncles and cousins come to Boston for one weekend of NFL playoffs every year. Other times, relatives of any generation are known to show up for shows by our cousin Steve’s world famous band, Peculiar Gentlemen. There is also an annual trip to Key West by any male Triano (and in-laws) over 21. Basically, we find excuses to reunite, bond, catch up … and party.

At any reunion, we have certain traditions – and most of them involve gambling. After everyone arrives on Friday, we eventually congregate in the barn. After a lot of arguing about ground rules, a massive game of scat (see for the rules) will ensue with players of any age. After scat, poker begins. It doesn’t matter how old you are, Uncle Bob will bleed anyone dry of lunch money or social security in 7/27. Meanwhile, bodies will fade into the night to their respective sleeping spaces as the crowd gradually thins. The usual suspects who close out the barn playing drinking games tend not to be the early morning risers on Saturday.

Saturday morning usually begins with someone vowing never to sleep in a tent again because of some drunkard’s late night antics. After people return to the premises, we collect $20 from each participant for a massive bocce tournament complete with a championship belt that memorializes the first and second place finishers of years past. Again, as long as you have $20, we don’t care how young or old you are. You’re in.

As the day goes on, people drink, eat, chat, watch and play bocce, and compete in any other yard games that arise along the way. During these rituals, we reconnect with our loved ones. You trade stories. You catch up. You share news. Perhaps you relive a memory from a previous year’s reunion.

By the time Saturday night rolls around, a live music show begins. Doug sings in a doo-wop band that warms up the crowd. After the opening band’s set, Peculiar Gentlemen comes on and stokes the crowd into a dancing frenzy. The night usually ends in a similar fashion as Friday, but usually with more mutants and cretins. This year’s Saturday was highlighted by keg stands and cross-eyed daddies whose baby mamas went back to the Buena Vista sans papa.

More importantly, 2009 was Greta’s first experience at Bloomville. Our family greeted her with hundreds of hugs, kisses, smiles, laughs, goofy faces, weird sounds, and every other way I hoped they would. The highlight of the weekend for me was our chance to compete together a la Baby Bjorn in the Sunday morning Frisbee golf tournament, which is another belt eligible event and a $10 entry fee.

While reflecting on this year’s reunion and looking forward to the next one, I am excited about Greta’s future reunions and Triano experiences. I can’t wait for her first bocce tournament in Bloomville when she eliminates Uncle Bob in the first round. It will also be fun to see her holding cards at the beginning of a scat tournament, hoping that her three chips will hold up long enough to win the big money. Above all, I am especially looking forward to seeing her interact with the next generation of her own “cousins.” There is such a comforting warmth in experiencing the connection to an extended, loving family. Even though we all live far apart, the reunion lets us forget about our problems and stresses for a little while, we get to know each other a little bit better, and we have fun doing it together.

Anyway, next year’s Scrabble tourney leaders are rumored to be developing a championship sash to rival the bocce and Frisbee belts. Looks like Gigi and I have some reading to do…

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Dad's Consumer Report

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, especially to the Grizz and my Dear Old Uncle Grandpa (“D.O.U.G.”)! Coincidentally on this Father’s Day, we await the arrival of Baby Z who is the spawn of our good friends known as the Zillas. Hopefully, Baby Z and the weather will hold out long enough for daddy-z-to-be and I to get a round of disc golf in tomorrow morning.

In light of Daddy Z’s impending fatherhood, we will highlight some of the essential products whose worth and usefulness have been truly tested now that I’ve been fathering for the past 4-plus months. Please note that the names of these products are probably not accurate because I reserve that section of my brain for more important information like world capitals and all-time home run leaders.

1. The Bob Revolution stroller. Almost equivalent in cost and size of a Cadillac, but well worth the investment. G and I go running with this machine at least twice a week, sometimes at obscene hours of the day. Now that she’s pushing 16 pounds, I basically push a 20 pound weight around Castle Island and Carson Beach, which is great considering that I’m hovering in the 180 pound neighborhood.

Seriously, the oversized tires and rugged suspension enable a pretty smooth ride for both the driver and passenger. G’s sleep success rate is a strong to very strong 80% in this contraption. If dad can get a good cardio workout while spending time making faces at son/daughter until he/she falls asleep, I (in a Mayor Quimby voice) hereby declare this stroller to be the cat’s meow. Grade: A.

2. Jameson’s Irish Whiskey. When Anbesol and Tylenol don’t do the trick, I add some Jamey to the Similac and mix up a mini hot toddy. Sometimes, I just stir it right into the rice cereal. It seems to work really well.

Before you go and report me to DSS, I’m just kidding. Just making sure you’re paying attention. This product is for dad after a long hard day at work. I recommend the 18 year version neat and the standard label on the rocks. Grade: A-plus.

3. The Baby Bjorn Bjork holder carrier thing. When she was smaller, I packed G in so that she was facing my chest. It was really handy to use when you are doing chores around the house. At the risk of over-thinking the product’s intent, I believe she liked the warmth of my body heat and the proximity to my heart beat. Basically, dad can get at least 45 minutes of fussy-free time to pick up, which is necessary if mom has no regard for order or zen in the house.

At her current size, I’ve been carrying G facing forward. She loves watching all of the action buzzing around her when we walk to Dunkin’s for mom’s large iced coffee with extra skim milk and 3 sugars. A hidden bonus of the face forward option is how it operates as a chick magnet. Since movin to Boston in 1997, attractive women in their 20s and 30s haven’t paid much attention to me unless they were walking quickly in the opposite direction. When G’s strapped in to my chest now, these ladies come right up smiling and chatting away. Take note, single men with access to small nieces and nephews out there. Babysitting does have its perks.

The only minus points here are for the strain on my back and shoulders after extended periods of use. Grade: B-plus.

4. Nursing tank tops. When the wife was nursing (we’re exclusively bottle feeding now that she’s back to work), when she wasn’t paying attention, I would unclasp one of the sides and latch on for a quick snack if I didn’t feel like going to the fridge. Just kidding! Tough audience.

Really, I included the tank tops in here because the wife raved about them as an alternative to wearing a bra. And they were very reasonably priced at Tar-zhay. Happy wife = happy life. Grade: ask mom.

5. The Cradle Swing a/k/a Mariano “Enter Sandman” Rivera. Although G is probably on the verge of being too big for this thing now, we’ve saved many a nite for quiet dinners after the swing rocked G to sleep just as Mo has saved many a victory for the greatest baseball team of all time.

As for drawbacks, this thing runs on batteries and burns through them pretty quickly. Also, like Rivera, the swing isn’t always a sure thing. (Dave Roberts was out by a mile when he allegedly stole second base in 2004, by the way.) Grade: B-plus.

6. The Bumbo seat. Although G's fat thighs get stuck when I'm trying to pull her out of it, I think this little seat has helped out a lot with the strengthening of her neck. It's also great to prop her inside her little Amazon Rainforest thing while she's sitting in the Bumo. As a matter of fact, she's sitting in it directly to my right as I type. She's yelling and gnawing on a dragon made of triangular parts. Perhaps this is a good time to end.

Okay moms and dads, now it’s your turn. What products are must haves for the new parents out there?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bust a Move!

Recently, the wife and I witnessed G-force rapidly kicking her legs in various 10 to 20 second bursts as she swung in the apparatus otherwise known as Mariano Rivera. (Whenever she’s on the verge of sleep, we drop her in this swing and she’s counting sheep within minutes.) Like most biased parents, we concluded that our daughter’s brilliant dancing career was inevitable - especially considering dance backgrounds of her gene pool.

The wife patented the “Dirty Seagull” move, which she busts out only on special occasions. As a witness to probably every appearance of the D.S., I easily recognize the symptoms. The wife’s eyes suddenly bulge into a crazed stare as her head turns haphazardly in the direction of the chanting crowd surrounding her. With her mouth agape, both arms slowly raise at the sides above her head, and then it happens: the wings flap down as her head and torso fluctuate in wavelike movements. It’s quite entertaining and embarrassing at the same time. Chances are good you’ll see the D.S. flying around if dirty martinis are poured in the bird bath.

As for me, I’ve got a small arsenal of terrible moves. The “shoulder shimmy” is my equivalent of the white man’s overbite. It’s an uncontrollable instinct that spontaneously occurs whenever I hear a good song. It’s quite unimpressive. My “side head bob” is an indication that music is playing, I’m feeling self-conscious about dancing, but I feel the need to do something. So I just bob my head. To the side. I also recently discovered to my horror that my worm is so inflexible and un-smooth that I’ve decided to retire it indefinitely. That’s all I got.

Now, in the tradition of Britney’s parents, Jacko’s dad, and Lindsay Lohan’s mom, the wife and I are exploring the ways in which we may exploit our daughter’s talent and sanity for our own personal gain. This brings us to So You Think You Can Dance.

For those who somehow don’t know about SYTYCD, it’s a dance competition show between 10 men and 10 women. A man and woman are paired up to dance a choreographed routine of varying genres from week to week in an effort to receive enough votes to avoid having to “DANCE FOR YOUR LIFE!” The winner gets $250,000 and the title of “America’s best dancer.” You know the drill. Quite standard, really.

I hate American Idol and Dancing with the Stars so my attachment to SYTYCD mystifies me. Perhaps it's because of the hot ladies. Perhaps it's because I'm trying to watch the dancers' moves for the next time that I go clubbing. Perhaps it's because these kids are just really talented and impressive, which makes for good entertainment. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Not only have I found myself religiously watching SYTYCD with the wife, but I actually attended a live show of last season’s top 10 finalists at Boston University last year with her and three of her lady friends. Let’s just say that the ratio of women to men in the audience was about 100:1. And the ratio of straight men over 30 to the rest of the audience? Probably 1000:1. Did I care? Hell no. Plus the wife and I were secretly hoping that the beats might somehow transmit good dancing skills to G-sizzle while she was in utero. In light of G’s aforementioned kicking frenzy, the live show appears to have created the desired fetal effect.

So as we wait to see if our daughter evolves into a ballerina, breaker, fox trotter, or samba, I recorded a diary of the Wednesday and Thursday shows. Without further ado:

Ba-da-ba-bup! Ba-da-ba-bup! So you think you can dance, dance, dance… Tonight’s show will be hosted by Cat Deeley. She is the coolest reality show hostess in the business – and that’s saying a lot. She also looks fab tonight in her fancy dress.

Our judges include executive producer and occasional mullet wearer Nigel Lythgoe, guest judge Adam Shankman, and the absolute beating known as Mary Murphy. I could probably write an entire post about the ways in which this woman annoys the crap out of me. Let’s just say that she sucks and move on.

Obv, the wife and I watched the preliminary auditions and the subsequent screening of invitees to Las Vegas. My predictions for early weak sauce contestants are Jonathan, Tony, and the unitard girl. My gut tells me that Jason, Phillip, and Melissa are strong to very strong.
First up, we have Jeanine and Phillip with a hip-hop routine by married choreographers Napolean and Tabitha. The wife and I heart Napolean and Tabitha. I’d love for them to witness the “Dirty Seagull” in person and give us feedback. “I loved your energy when symbolizing the gull’s head movements but your wing flaps aren’t quite hitting hard enough.” Anyways, great opening routine. They nailed it.

Asuka and Vitolio are next. Vitolio’s life story is compelling. Asuka is arrogantly attractive. Choreographer is Tyce Diorio. He’s annoying and predictably selects a broadway number. I hate broadway. Not surprisingly, the routine stinks. Yawn.

Karla and Jonathan. Jonathan’s looks will get him votes but he still seems weak. Karla is humbly hot. They do salsa, I think? Anyway, Mary says afterwards that “she likes it rough.” Gross.

Unitard girl and Evan are next. Evan is charming but he has a disproportionately large ass for his body. It’s weird looking. Unitard girl is married so they are worried that their contemporary routine may be too risqué for her husband. Admittedly, they do a really nice job.

Paris and Tony do a futuristic hip-hop routine in shoulder pads and pleather. Tony has probably made it this far only because he’s cute. Paris is impressive because she has recovered from a bad car accident. Irregardless, they look pretty flat.

Caitlin and Jason. Caitlin’s body is re-donk-a-donk. Jason is effeminately cute. They did Bollywood. It was good but nothing like last year’s routine by Katee and Joshua.

Janette and Brandon are next. They do a fox trot. Brandon is seriously ripped but he’s even more effeminate than Jason. He also smiles constantly. I think you could punch him in the head and he’d still smile at you. Janette’s bod is impressive, too, but she makes me think that she has a moustache whenever I look at her. Anyway, they do a pretty good job.

Ashley and Kupono are next. Wade Robson choreographed this contemporary piece. The wife and I heart Wade big time. He’s truly brilliant. As expected, he delivers a gem for Ashley and Kupono. I’d like to swim in Wade’s brain to see how he comes up with this stuff.

Melissa and Ade are up. Melissa is a naughty ballerina – yum! Ade has Barry Sanders’ tease fro and wears a pick. Solid. The only thing I remember from their performance is almost falling off the couch when I heard Richard Marx playing.

Finally, our last couple of the night, Kayla and Max. Max is the token Russian male contestant with a ballroom background and tight, sequined outfits. (I swear there is one every year.) The wife loves Kayla because her grandfather cried when she passed her first audition. They do a samba. Mary declares a “hot tamale train.” A crazed fan suddenly gags and bounds Mary before abducting her from the stage. I celebrate wildly from my couch. And that’s a wrap.

Who will be dancing for their lives tomorrow night? Who is still awake this far into the post? Only time will tell. Who do you think deserved to go home? Should the wife and I enroll G-sizzle into dance classes right now considering her early prowess? C’mon SYTYCD fans. Let me know you’re out there.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Word of Mouth

Changing things up a little this week to promote some very creative people’s projects of which the wife, G, and I are huge fans. We highly recommend the talents of each of these weirdos.

Exhibit A: Peculiar Gentlemen. My cousin Steve a/k/a Sweet Willy Jive founded (along with co-conspirator Eric a/k/a E-beats) this extremely entertaining band. For anyone in the NYC area looking for an interesting evening, I urge you to check these guys out in person. Their next show is at Jalopy in Brooklyn on June 19. While their recorded music is truly unique, they have an even stronger energy when they play live. The PG3’s round out the vibe so nicely.

I am so proud to have witnessed this band and its sound evolve and mature since I first saw them play at Galapagos probably around 6 years ago. P.G. released their second album earlier this year and submitted it to iTunes, although they are still waiting for iTunes to post those tunes. Hopefully, The Difference will be available there very soon. In the interim, take a gander at their web site and their blog

Oh yeah, feel free to purchase P.G.’s merchandise and music because I want to be there when P.G. goes on tour and they’re driving motorcycles through the hallways of hotels into the swimming pool with stripper groupies on the back. Good stuff.

Exhibit B: the Insufficient Funds blog. The message greeting this blog’s readers “Come Waste Your Time” could not be more appropriate. I indulge this recommendation often.
My buddy Matt is the brain trust behind this science project. We met through our significant others. I needed to hang with this dude when I saw that he posed for a Kickball Team photo (without telling anyone else in the picture, of course) by dropping trow and hanging brain while keeping a straight face.

Anyway, Matt annoys me because he is much funnier and edgier than I am in my posts. He also has a great knack for supplementing his entries with equally entertaining video and still images. Although he works more hours in his day job than anyone else that I know, he still manages to deliver a good post when he finds the time. To get a good idea about his style, I recommend checking out the April 14 post entitled “Ear Muffs.” Go to

Exhibit C:, radio not well done. DJ Ben Chioffi and I have been friends (of the FB kind) for exactly two days. Notwithstanding, he and the wife go way back to their Castleton College days (yeah Spartans rule!) so I have adopted their longstanding friendship as my own through association.

So Ben hosts a weekly radio show on the web from Burlington, VT every Friday night from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. I just heard his show for the first time this past week and I’m hooked. Solid range of bands. Considering that a ménage-a-trois on my Fridays nowadays means a quiet dinner with the wife, G, and I – as opposed to a date from the “casual encounters” section of Craigslist – I will be tuning in much more frequently. I understand that Ben will be off this Friday night but don’t be alarmed – he will return next weekend. Here is the link:

If anyone else has recommendations of the like, please feel free to pimp them on the blog. I’m happy to provide a link at the side bar. Peace.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Save Yourselves!

My movie selection skills have fallen victim to a swine flu. Please, please, please send recommendations as soon as possible to Casa de Teravainen. I’m begging you.

I have a bizarre fixation that forces me to watch any movie, no matter how bad, from beginning to end (except “Hostel,” which has been more than enough to discourage me from ever going within 200 miles of Slovakia) so I suffered through my last four On Demand selections. Here’s a brief summary of the last four gems I discourage you to bother with:

“The Reader” - Characters speaking English while supposedly living in Germany? Check. An English actress portraying a German speaking English with a German accent? Check. Shocking sex scene with an octogenarian Kate Winslet and an unconvincingly straight Ralph Fiennes? Check. Okay, maybe not the sex scene but seriously, what was with all the hype?

Besides sitcoms with pre-recorded laugh tracks, commercials for "ER," and almost any musical, my only other equally bothersome pet peeve in entertainment is a story where characters don’t actually speak the language of the country where the story takes place. Science fiction and fantasy movies conveniently get a free pass here because aliens/hobbits sound more convincing speaking English with foreign accents. But as for “The Reader,” couldn’t they have just conjugated verbs and repeated days of the week in German with English subtitles? I will never get this.

“Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist” - I so wanted “Juno.” Instead, I got “The Burbs.” You see, I loved “Juno” because it was so perfectly executed on almost every level. As for “The Burbs,” I thought it was fine but it was really only memorable because I had my first frenching with Cheryl Cote at the South Willow Street theater in 8th grade, and I was so relieved that I made out before I got to high school. Similarly, “Nick and Norah” was ehhh, but the wife and I frenched mid-way through the movie and had sex on the couch. Just kidding. She fell asleep around the 25-minute mark, but I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“The Invasion” – Nicole Kidman is an Australian portraying an American who speaks without her accent at the beginning of a scene, loses track mid-way through a scene, then remembers that her character is American towards the end of a scene and quickly substitutes “buddy” or “pal” instead of slipping with “mate.” In any event, Nicole has done it for me since going nude for “Eyes Wide Shut,” so I’m giving her a pass. I’m pretty sure she could post me up on the block and possibly dunk over me if we ever played one on one hoops. I wonder if she and Cruise ever played H.O.R.S.E. while they were married? Moving on.

“Taken” – Imagine the secret love child of Jason Bourne with any of Steven Seagal’s characters during his illustrious career and you’d get Liam Neeson’s character in this barely compelling suspense/action flick, which tenuously connects to the purpose of my blog (reminder – thoughts on becoming a dad) because Neeson’s character goes on a rampage to save his daughter from becoming a concubine for the Iron Sheik.

Again, we have character nationality issues: Irishman Neeson (who I generally enjoy, by the way) portrays an American in France who only speaks English with a vaguely Northern Irish accent to Frenchmen and Albanian thugs. I didn’t have a problem with the improbable car chases and fight scenes, the predictable villain who walks away before the good guy protagonist is killed, the unbelievably bad aim of bad guys with guns, and the inevitable rescue of his daughter. Truthfully, I rather enjoyed the excessive number of deaths by windpipe chops and other neck breaking moves whose success rate in the movie seems highly suspect. What killed me, though, is that Neeson’s character (I seriously doubt you need a spoiler alert here) shoots his friend’s innocent wife in the arm after she just cooked them a nice chicken dinner. I feel like that part slipped through the editing process mistakenly.

So, please suggest something good to watch On Demand or else I’m going to Blockbuster for some slam dunk options like “Teenwolf” and “Major League” to break this bad streak.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hair and Now

Blooming like dandelions in a field, the image of my ear hairs in the mirror alerts me to one of my favorite rituals: it’s time for a trip to the barber shop. Although my barbers don’t trim either my ear weeds or the brow confetti , they do get the Wolverine mane that creeps up in the rear shirt collar region. The old school guys apply a straight razor on my neck for a nice smooth finish, possibly touching it up with a warm towel and a dash of witch hazel.

A trip to the barber while growing up was great not just because my dad, my brother, and I were male bonding, but because I always looked forward to that guaranteed lollipop. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee Greta ever going to the barber shop with me.

Perhaps my intuition here is sexist, but I assume first of all that she would prefer to get her up-do at the salon. Barber shops offer combs, clippers, and scissors – not foils, wraps, dyes, relaxers, perms, curling irons, crimpers, wax, or $50 shampoos in 6-ounce containers.

But secondly, the barber shop is more than just a place for $15 hair cuts. The storefront with the red, white, and blue swirly sign-thing outside the door is a sort of dude sanctuary. A good barber can shoot the breeze about anything: current events, sports, politics, women, you name it. The best chats extend beyond the guy sitting in the chair to the gallery of dudes within earshot. (I imagine ladies experience a similar sense of escape at the salon except $15 probably pays for only a six- or seven-toe pedicure.)

Waiting for their turn, customers peruse the standard reading material: tattered sports sections and 6-month old Sports Illustrateds, or the coveted nudie mags. You need to dig around for them, though, because they’re usually in the hands of the guys who arrived ahead of you. (For the record, I just read Playboy for the articles … and, um, to stay current about the most recent celebrities posing nude … I mean, it’s kind of like our Us Weekly. Moving on.)

“Skip’s” is a small place up the street for me. Bobby Cards is an old guy who hangs around there entertaining customers with his Donald Duck voice impersonations and card tricks that are about 67% successful. While sitting around, he’ll also show you pictures of his Cadillac and his winter home in Florida. Total character. My buddy Fun Boobs swears that Bobby greased him for a $20 bill that somehow disappeared when he went to pay for a trim.

Recently, a new trend has emerged, of which I frankly don’t know what to make. Shops previously content with AM radio broadcasts suddenly have enormous, flat screen TVs with ESPN telecasts blaring. Lollipop jars have been replaced by full service bars and cappuccino machines. Instead of waiting for the grandfatherly, white haired man in a tie and blue overcoat, I choose between a 20-something wearing a t-shirt tight enough to cut off circulation or his buddy with the alternate Celtics away jersey complete with gold chain and backwards, straight brim ball cap. Some of these new fangled places are even open for business on the previously sacred off-day of Mondays!

Is this a product of the “metrosexual” phenomenon or simply an industry adjusting to a more competitive market full of men with limited time and shorter attention spans? Or am I simply slipping prematurely into an old school generation nostalgically lamenting about what it was like in the good old days?

Whatever the situation, I’m off to “Skip’s” for my boy’s regular. Number two clippers on the back and sides. Scissors on top. No gel. Hey Bobby, show us that card trick again.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Granite State: Once Red, Then Blue, Now Pink?

Hold on a second, just getting on my soap box. Left foot, right foot. There we go.

Somewhere along my path in life, same-sex marriage became an important cause to me. I imagine part of the reason is because of my desire for our nation to constantly progress towards achieving a state of absolute justice and fairness, or at least as close as possible. Yeah, yeah, bleeding heart liberal. Hug a tree.

Seriously though, another reason is simply because of the loved ones in my life who aren't straight. It kills me to imagine that if two people are crazy about each other and even crazier to want to spend the rest of their lives together exclusively, why should they be denied the legal benefits of a status created and defined by our government in the Land of the Free? Forchrissakes marriage is hard enough, no wonder perks (like filing taxes jointly, for instance) exist to help ease the strain and challenges of a perpetual union.

Ironically, I probably know more gay people who are indifferent towards marriage equality than straight people who openly oppose it. Nonetheless, I simply cannot accept the idea of a government that blatantly discriminates based simply on sexual orientation. (Yeah, I'm one of those radicals that believes sexual orientation is biological, not a lifestyle that is chosen.) If my daughter ever chooses to take the plunge, I will be happily giving her hand away in the civil institution of marriage to her future spouse whether that person is a man or a woman.

I understand that religions also have their own definitions of marriage, which is separate and distinct from the status granted by a government. As much as I disagree with those religions who restrict the definition of marriage only to a man and woman, I absolutely believe that they deserve the protection of the First Amendment to give them the freedom to practice such a belief.

But last I checked, I don't vote for pope or bishop or rabbi or cleric. I vote for elected officials in a government that separates church and state.

Perhaps I'm preaching to the choir. I live in the state that was first to recognize same-sex marriage and issues tickets for possession of marijuana weighing less than one ounce. We have Dukakis, Kerry, and the Kennedy compound. Clothing in public will probably become optional next year. Yet somehow, the Bay State did not collapse after the monumental Goodrich v. Dept. of Public Health decision in 2003. Since then, the commonwealth somehow avoided absolute pandemonium and civil unrest. And the legislature declined to extend the right for people to marry animals.

Alas, the trailblazing lesbian plaintiffs in the Goodrich case eerily mirrored 50% of their straight counterparts: they divorced in 2006. Thus, we are reminded that marriages are challenging regardless of the spouses' sexual orientations.

In conclusion, with all due respect to the governor of my northern neighbors and my childhood home, practice what your state preaches. Live Free or Die. Let freedom ring in the Granite State and establish equal marriage for all. Thank you. I'll get off my soap box now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rock On Completely With Some Brand New Components

In addition to cracking voices a la Peter Brady, bad perms, braces, and arm pit hair, musical taste begins taking root during puberty – or at least it did for me. Fortunately, my uncles Tim and Tom gave me a rock music birds and the bees talk when I was around 12 or 13. Okay maybe it wasn’t an actual sit down but because I worshipped anything that they did or said, I began paying special attention to their bands. As teenagers during the 70s, their tastes were unsurprising in retrospect but absolutely solid nonetheless. I recall The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, etc.

Lucky for me at that time, Uncle Tom purchased what was known as a “compact disc player” and bequeathed many of his albums to my brother and me. During those lonely junior high nights, I’d place the needle on a record and wear enormous earphones that dug into the side of my head if I moved my neck. The A side of “Who’s Next” provided the soundtrack as I pondered whether Christine Idzelis would ever go out with me.

Apparently, the popularity of record albums is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. The trend, I imagine, is due in part to the “hipster” generation of pierced and tattooed bike courier-types who forego iPods in favor of the more classic LP players. However, I must admit a certain pleasure exists in hearing the crackling and hiss that accompany songs played on vinyl.

Nowadays, my musical appetite does not consist strictly of Rock. My need for variety has introduced me to music of all genres. Some days, I’ll nibble on rap, hip hop, soul, funk, and top-40. Other days, I’ll feast on classical, Cuban, bossa nova, or jazz. And I’m not scared by heavy metal, punk, or bluegrass. But then, of course, I get one of those cravings where all I want is some good old, guitar solo/air boards/white man’s overbite/head bopping/freak out by yourself in a car with no remorse rock n’ roll.

“Irregardless,” I am so excited for that day when G-love is ready for her own sit down about beats and tunes. If you forced me at this very moment to list the top 10 greatest albums of all time, I’d be happy to indulge. But before doing so, you should understand my criteria.

First, “alternative” and “rock” will be considered together. I was in high school during the “Grunge Era” so these styles of music are overlapping in my world of music. Second, the albums were considered as a whole to the extent that an album with one great song and the rest mediocre will not make this list. For example, “Heat of the Moment” by Asia on their self-titled debut album is a great song but the other songs are pretty lackluster. Thus, these albums deliver an overwhelming majority of “solid” to “off the charts”-level songs from start to finish. In other words, you are not inclined to fast forward over any of the songs. Lastly, “Greatest Hits” albums do not count. Without further ado:

10. “Rubber Soul” by The Beatles. I omitted “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” from this list because there are too many songs that I fast forward – “Fixing a Hole”, “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” and “Within You Without You.” Then I realized that I don’t FF any songs on “Rubber Soul.” I like to think this earlier album was a true harbinger of The Beatles’ future brilliance. “Drive My Car,” “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown), and “I’m Looking Through You” are my personal faves.

9. “Who’s Next?” by The Who. The boards that introduce “Baba O’Riley” trigger an eerie feeling of temporary escape in my brain as soon as I hear that opening “ding – ding, ding. ding – ding, ding.” Moon’s drums are appropriately splashy (thanks Ron Burgundy), Townsend’s guitar blazes, and Daltrey nails high notes on the same level as Robert Plant. That’s right. I went there. I fucking love that song.

Often overshadowed by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, The Who was so effective at building an orgasmic crescendo in its anthem songs through effective repeating riff foreplay. (Besides “Baba,” think “Eminence Front.”) Anyway, don’t skip any songs on this album. Trust me. For the record, “Going Mobile” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” rock it out completely.
8. “Ten” by Pearl Jam. Think long hair, flannel shirts, and a voice that channeled the angst of high school kids everywhere in the early 90’s. “Release” is far and away the best song on this album. No argument. Hands down.

Unfortunately, Eddie Vedder developed a condition that my buddy Scott and I coined “E.V.S.” (Eddie Vedder Syndrome) where the band’s commercial success was such a strain on his artistic vision that he was unable to speak publicly in coherent sentences from about 1993 to 2000. You also write songs about “bugs in my head.” Fortunately, Eddie recovered and helped advocate an overthrow of the Bush Administration with Sean Penn.

(As an aside, The Killers currently have a serious case of E.V.S. I mean who the hell writes a song asking whether “are we human or are we dancer?” Give me a freaking break.)

7. “Motorcade of Generosity” by CAKE. The lead singer of this band would probably mock me just for writing a top ten list, but this is my favorite CAKE album start to finish. “Jolene” also happens to be my overall favorite song by this band, as well as my inspiration for the protagonist in my screenplay that will never complete. Anyways, I hope they give me permission to play the song when Jolene walks out on Jonas in Portsmouth.

For the record, these guys blow the doors off live. I lost my mind at The Orpheum seeing them with T-bone, Skipzy, and Bree a couple years ago. And, the first time I saw them live, they played “Jolene.” I almost cried. Almost.

6. “Weezer” a/k/a “The Blue Album” by Weezer. COLLEGE!!!! The vibe on this album just totally resonated with me when I heard it for the first time. It’s rare that I can listen to a band for the first time and truly enjoy every song. That happened for me one special day in 1995 after a trip to Pure Pop in Burlington.

Surprise, surprise, Jonas’ inspiration came from here. However, “No One Else” and “Surf Wax America” also make me want to dance around in my underwear. The wife and I watched one of their concerts in Japan on TV and they brought up a fan from the audience to play guitar on “Say it Ain’t So.” She was bawling, but she pulled it off. Re-donk-a-donk.

Weezer still does it for me (their song “Jamie” is a tribute to their lawyer – how cool is that!?) but I’m not sure their future albums can ever eclipse “The Blue Album.” Footnote that Rivers Cuomo has apparently recovered from his bout with E.V.S.

5. “Siamese Dream” by Smashing Pumpkins. Whenever I hear “Cherub Rock,” I think of a road trip to Montreal during college in which our car averaged about 90 the minute we crossed Derby Line, Vermont. Just thought you should know.

I challenge you to find a bad song on this album. You will not succeed. I once asked Tooth to play “Mayonaise” at my funeral. I’ve subsequently changed my mind but that was how strongly I felt about this album. Also, please do not overlook “Sweet Sweet” and “Luna.” They are two very pretty songs.

Unfortunately, Billy Corgan still has not recovered from his infection with E.V.S.

4. “Abbey Road” by The Beatles. If I was considering just Side B, we’re talking serious contender for Number One. That side starts with George’s masterpiece “Here Comes the Sun” and ends with possibly my favorite lead guitar solo ever (I think it’s John) on “The End” (well technically “Her Majesty” is the last song on but it’s kind of a mini-song only). Every song on Side B seamlessly flows into the next. By the way, I have no idea what “polythene” means but that song really does it for me.

3. “Achtung Baby” by U2. Back to high school again. Go to any party during the summer before my senior year in high school and this was playing either before or after “Check Your Head” by The Beastie Boys. The radio focused on “One” and “Mysterious Ways,” which are good songs. However, “Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World” is far and away the best song on this brilliant album. “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” is a sleeper on this disc, too.

2. “The Beatles” a/k/a “The White Album” by The Beatles. I agonized about where to rank these last four albums, but I’m satisfied with their order now. This particular double album is like a Thanksgiving dinner of good songs. “Dear Prudence,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Blackbird,” “Revolution” (the slower version), and “Sexy Sadie” are my BFFs in this chapter of the Bible of Rock.

1. “The Joshua Tree” by U2. Heather Voigt let me listen to this cassette on her Walkman during a 7th grade summer camp overnight in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. That night, blondes and “With or Without You” established themselves as my personal kryptonite. “Joshua Tree” never fails me. It’s like a security blanket you pull out for emergency purposes.

If your heart rate doesn’t increase slightly when you hear those opening notes in “Where the Streets Have No Name,” I question whether you are alive at all. And is there a better 1-2-3 punch than “Streets,” “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For?” and “With or Without You.” It’s like Gehrig, Dimaggio, and Williams on the same team.

But don’t dare stop there. Please keep going. “Bullet the Blue Sky” is so purely dark and brilliant. “Running to Stand Still” and “In God’s Country” are off the charts, too. I thoroughly enjoy every single song on this album.

“The Joshua Tree” is just so absolutely perfect, I can’t handle it. I don’t want anything about it to change. Just perfect. I can’t say anything more.

So there it is. Take your best shot. What did I miss? Agree? Disagree? Has anyone even made it this far? Shout out.