Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I’m Still Here

Folks, I’m busier than a one-armed paperhanger these days. Two huge projects have hit me at once — it’s like the perfect storm of jobs. To put it another way: work is the iceberg and I’m the Titanic. All my compartments are flooded and I’m going down stern first. I’ve even taken to humming Nearer, My God, to Thee. Just yesterday I answered the phone by saying, “Women and children first!” Not a good sign. I hope to soon start reading everybody’s posts again and plague them with my infuriatingly droll and inane comments.

Monday, September 19, 2005


I’ve seen this happen to other people as I’ve lurked and rambled my way through the blogiverse. In every instance I’ve shaken my head, made the sign of the cross and murmured, “Pity,” thinking this sort of thing could never happen to me. I know it strikes without warning, and suddenly you, the victim, are duty-bound to answer the call as faithfully and honorably as you can. Once tagged, you’re utterly defenseless. No level of martial arts training can prevent or deflect it; prevarication and obfuscation will do you no good, because you are as exposed as an amoeba on a glass slide, laid bare to universal scrutiny. You must act, and act without a single option other than to do what you have been directed to. There is no way out.

Harry Potter fans, this is as close to the Imperious Curse as we muggles can get: the meme. The lovely and talented Chloe has tagged me with seven questions (seven, of course, being the most magical number) and I must respond to them. But be warned, O ye regular readers, for the seventh question will hit close to home. Very close to home. Beware! BEWARE! Bwahahahahaha!

Ahem. (cough)

Seven Answers to Seven Questions

Seven things I plan to do before I die:

1) Go on a cross-country bicycle trip

2) Publish something — anything

3) Do all I can to foster prosperity for my two daughters

4) Adopt a little doggy and name it George

5) Cycle 100 miles on my 80th birthday

6) Strictly follow the Three Laws of Robotics for one week . . . just for kicks

7) Stay indoors for one whole day and — after rising early, running and showering — just read, watch movies, drink decaf espresso mochas, eat and nap

Seven things I can do:

1) Pedal a bicycle really far

2) Draw silly pictures

3) Stand on my head

4) Walk like an Egyptian

5) Make an awesome breakfast

6) Imitate this guy I used to work with in 1986

7) Watch old movies too corny for most people

Seven things I cannot do:

1) Dance in any formalized way

2) Swim strokes that require putting my face in the water

3) Sing

4) Finish reading a bad book

5) The Five Point Palm Exploding-Heart Technique

6) Tell a joke without laughing before I can say the punchline

7) Care about hockey

Seven things that attract me to another person:

1) Intelligence

2) Sense of humor

3) Unpredictability

4) Loyalty

5) Pleasing odors

6) Those who have a tendency to push me to do things I don’t want to do but wind up being good for me in the end

7) No prior criminal record

Seven things I say most often:

1) Mama mia!

2) Inane quote du jour (lately it’s been, “Hello, my name is Mr. Snrub. Yes. That will do.”)

3) Christ!

4) You slay me, you know that?

5) I think not.

6) It was Colonel Mustard, in the conservatory, with the pipe wrench

7) Rosebud!

Seven celebrity crushes:

1) Keira Knightly

2) Keira Knightly

3) Keira Knightly

4) Keira Knightly

5) Keira Knightly

6) Keira Knightly

7) The girl in that movie I saw who looks a little like Keira Knightly

Seven bloggers I'm tagging:

1) Trinamick

2) Nypinta

3) Henry

4) Scott

5) Ryan

6) John

7) Michele (for her inaugural post!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Mr. Schprock’s Guide to Irresponsible Parenting

Lesson 4: Inappropriate Entertainment

In the late eighties, my wife’s and my then 12-year-old niece came to stay with us for a week. We took her around Boston and showed her all the usual sights: the Boston Tea Party Ship, the Children’s Museum, Faneuil Hall, the Public Garden, the Top of the Pru, etc., etc., and even, toward the end of her stay, spent a day in Newburyport, a beautiful coastal town about an hour north of Boston that had a fair of some sort happening. On her last night, I was given the responsibility of choosing a movie to take her to. Robocop was playing then and, despite the R rating, I thought it might be an entertaining movie for us all to see. Hell, the stores were already selling Robocop action figures, so surely it had to be appropriate for older kids, right? Probably the R rating was only because of a bad word or two, but nothing our niece couldn’t handle. And what could be better than a Doer of Good Deeds in gleaming metal? Sort of a modern day Sir Lancelot, you know? So we drove to the theatre, I purchased the tickets, popcorn and soda, and we strolled in.

A half an hour later we strolled out, with my niece protesting my efforts to simultaneously block her ears and her eyes with my hands (try doing that — not easy). It turned out that right from the get-go the F-word was mentioned just a little too frequently, the violence was a tad too intense, and there was a men’s room scene where one of the characters, in a rush to leave the urinal and scoot out of there as quickly as he could, didn’t take the time to keep his pee pee from dribbling down the front of his trousers. Yep, the movie squarely earned its R rating and was, indeed, too strong for my niece’s impressionable mind. I couldn’t possibly watch the whole thing with her sitting next to me, because a keenly felt responsibility to monitor the imagery reflecting onto her retinas and the language vibrating her eardrums would torture my conscience from opening title sequence to ending credits. So out we went.

Okay, let’s fast forward to two years ago, shall we? When my youngest daughter was 12, she asked me to take her to a Marilyn Manson concert. Judging from what you’ve just read, what do you think my response was? Incredulity? Outrage? Anguish? Tears? A hasty call put in to the local exorcist? All of them good guesses and quite reasonable to expect. But wrong, wrong, wrong. My initial reaction to her request that I, her father, take her to a concert put on by this generation’s version of Alice Cooper was a profound sense of flattery. And do you know what I did? I took her.

Remember my squeamishness about the F-word? MM’s first words to the audience was “Hey all you motherfuckers!” Ouch! Strong stuff, no? Not very much like the Monkees, my band of choice when I was 12. And, of course, there were those lovely song lyrics of his, mercifully incomprehensible due to his propensity to practically swallow the microphone. And what else? Oh yeah, the two women on stage with him, ostensibly for back-up vocals, but really there to dance like strippers, only stopping just short of actually removing their clothing. Add to that the decibel level, which was dangerously high, and the audience, which looked like a Halloween costume party, and what you’ve got is a Family Value-Free Zone. My old Lutheran pastor would have needed ’round the clock medical care after this one. The Department of Social Services would surely have made my daughter a ward of the state had they known. In short, Daughter Number 2 and I had a wonderful time, and, to this day, she looks back on the event as a highlight of her life. She’s actually proud of the old man for taking her to it.

How could I justify it, you might ask. After all, Robocop was the very food of the devil for my niece, and yet, in the case of my daughter, Marilyn Manson — the devil’s own spawn — was acceptable? Hmm, that is a tough one. I think in part it was because I felt I knew my daughter and I thought she could handle it. Also, there was something in the old stratagem of co-opting the controversial rather than putting it out of bounds, with the effect of making the thing less an object of desire than it should be. And there was another reason, purely selfish: I was interested in going myself.

Before I agreed to take Daughter Number 2, I had her give me some MP3 downloads to listen to and I liked what I heard. True, Marilyn Manson’s lyrics aren’t what anyone would call wholesome, but he has an original sound that’s extremely interesting to listen to, especially the instrumentation, which is (in my opinion) complex and unique and appealing. You can tell he works hard on his music and goes out of his way to defy the mainstream. He takes a lot of risks. Antichrist Superstar has become one of my favorite albums. I can’t say I agree with what it stands for, but as music I find it enjoyable to listen to.

Well, the latest indication of my parental unfitness occurred a couple of weeks ago when I took Daughter Number 2 to The 40 Year Old Virgin. Have you seen it? I think it’s the funniest movie since Meet the Parents. It’s both innocent and profane and has definitely earned its R rating. Yet never once did I feel uncomfortable watching it with my 14 year old daughter sitting right next to me with all the F-words flying around and the explicit sex talk. Weird, isn’t it? I'm going to hell, right?

You know, maybe on the way home tonight I’ll rent Robocop. I don't think my kids have seen it yet.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Reality Tapping at My Door

Vacation is over and work is back with a vengeance! Once again my job is interfering with my blogging — such a distraction! All because I have a few bills to pay I put myself through this misery. (Of course, if everyone in the United States sent me just one dollar, I could free myself from this bondage.) My wife and I had a wonderful trip last week. We ended our vacation back at Hippie Camp (or the World Fellowship Center) in New Hampshire. The place is just like home to us. To save a little money, the missus and I stayed in a tent this time. I ate my three square meals a day and did the requisite lounging around. On Saturday, we went for an all-morning bike ride with three other people through beautiful farmland, then made it back just in time for a big lunch. Afterward, I showered, grabbed my book and camped out in my usual corner in the Lloyd Lodge porch. I read for about two hours, felt drowsy, took a one and a half hour nap, woke up, made some tea, read some more and waited for the dinner bell to ring. This is how life should be, people! To hell with industry and ambition and all that other stuff my sixth grade teacher used to drone on and on about. We should all live like my cat. When you feel hungry, eat. When you have to go to the bathroom, go to the bathroom. When you feel tired, sleep. Repeat as needed. (I’ll loan my cat to anyone requiring a demonstration.)