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.