31 July 2009

Foot Fetish

"I wish I liked anything as much as my kids like bubbles."

This is one of my favorite lines, in one of my favorite movies, Knocked Up. Sidenote: I have a friend that's convinced this movie is the reason I now have a child. That this movie made it okay for me to want a baby. He's convinced of this because he believes movies inform most decisions in my life. And while it's true that I grew a beard the first time because I thought Jason Lee looked cool with one in Chasing Amy and that I started collecting vinyl after one too many halfway-inebriated, late-night viewings of High Fidelity, and yes, I do fantasize about being pseudo-hipster college prof Grady Tripp from Wonder Boys when I am middle-aged (though perhaps without the adultery and maybe a bit less pot), I must disagree. Knocked Up had nothing to do with my wife and I having a baby. The fact that the film was released in June and she was pregnant by November is irrelevant.

Wow. Longest. Sidenote. Ever. Maybe I do need to Twitter, it might teach me not to pontificate.

But I digress. Back to the story at hand and the title of this post. My son is fascinated by his feet. Fascinated. I cannot fathom devoting the amount of time he does to inspecting and examining them. How can feet be so interesting? Babies truly are very strange little creatures. The things that catch--and hold--their attention are impossible to predict and often downright baffling.

For example, my son has a multitude of toys that move, make noise, play music, light up, etc., and yet, he will often bypass all of these in favor of something seemingly mundane, such as an empty plastic water bottle, a shoe, or a department store catalogue. These items will hold him in rapture for untold amounts of time.

And those feet. And the toes. His utter fascination with them often leads to him trying to eat them. They cannot taste good, nor offer true nutritional value for a rapidly growing baby, but this does not deter him from constantly putting them in his mouth and trying to eat them. Sure, he puts pretty much everything in his mouth, but he appears to have a special penchant for those feet. And the toes.

As he nears a year in age, my wife and I have started putting shoes on him more and more when we take him out in public. Yes, he's a baby, so technically footwear is optional, as his feet don't actually touch the ground, but we've made the collective decision that going barefoot in public, at any age, is sorta hillbilly and we are raising a baby sophisticate, not a baby hillbilly. But just like the feet unadorned, those shoe-covered feet go straight into the mouth. Watching him go to town, mawing on a sandal, inadvertently recreating Charlie Chaplin's Gold Rush routine (http://tiny.cc/hKCIG), I wonder is he making a meal of that shoe leather, or is he really trying to chew through it, because he knows those wonderful, delicious toes are hidden inside? And how the hell does this occupy so much of his time?

Seriously, my shoes and feet are in no way interesting or edible. Or appetizing. Apparently, in the decades since I was one, things have gone terribly awry.

20 July 2009

The Wake-Up Bomb

Heard this tune on my commute the other day, with my iPod set to Shuffle. New Adventures in Hi-Fi remains (for me) the highlight of the R.E.M. catalogue. I know purists prefer the earlier records (which were, incidentally, actually records), but this is definitely my favorite.

And the reason I use it here is that the wife and I had an old, familiar experience the other night. The 4 am wake-up call. Or rather, cry. Now, since birth our son has not been the greatest sleeper. Wait. That's an understatement. He is, in fact, a terrible sleeper. He takes after his mother in that regard, who even under optimal conditions, routinely has trouble falling asleep. While I, meanwhile, could fall asleep sitting upright against a cement block.

From the start, we would read all these statistics about how babies are supposed to sleep 10-12 hours every night, and 2-3 hours every day. Who the hell are these babies? And where do we get one exactly?

Okay, so we're not prepared to trade him in. Not yet. Still, he resists napping. At all costs. It's like he doesn't want to miss anything. We've tried explaining to him that he really won't miss out on anything. I mean, it's not as though he does a whole lot when he's actually awake. But apparently, there is no reasoning with a baby.

It's only been within the last few months (and again, he's going on a year) that we have reached anything resembling normalcy when it comes to a sleeping schedule. Maybe it's our fault. We did wish for a quiet, bookish lad and instead we got some kind of speed freak, a non-sleeping, loudly-screaming, interested-in-everything, curious-as-hell kid. So perhaps it is our fault.

Anyway, back to that 4 am wake-up incident. It immediately took me back to the early months of his life, when he would routinely do that. All. Night. Long. Just like Lionel Richie. And I remember during those middle-of-the-night sessions, pacing endlessly, rocking and shushing him, bleary-eyed, delirious, agitated, and at my wit's end, I would always, without fail, think about the movie PCU. Most people haven't heard of it, let alone seen it, but it is pretty much a Comedy Central stalwart at this point--in fact, it might even be playing right now. Anyway, it stars a bunch of actors who look far too old to play college students, well, playing college students. It stars Jeremy Piven and there's a flashback to his freshman year, when he roomed with conservative uber-nerd David Spade. When Piven brings a girl back to their room to hook up, he can't, because Spade is trying to sleep. And Piven goes crazy, jumping on the bed, screaming, "Go to sleep! Go to sleep!" The moment where Spade is doused (in slo-mo) with whiskey, while writhing and whining through his braces and headgear--well, it really doesn't get much funnier.

Maybe you had to be there.

Okay, so this entire thing was a ruse, a means to mention Jeremy Piven and therefore discuss the current season of Entourage. I apologize. I dig it. And I know that everybody talks about how brilliant Piven is, but Kevin Dillon (justly recognized with another Emmy nomination this week) is consistently amazing, if for nothing else than the mere fact that he's managed to make Johnny Drama more than a caricature and closer to something resembling sympathetic.

I have just one complaint. 10:30 time slot? Doesn't HBO realize I have a baby who doesn't like to sleep? 11 pm is very late for me these days.

Pathetic. When did I get so old?

14 July 2009

Say it ain't so.

Okay, so this is probably old news. I tried denying it at first, but I guess I have to start working on acceptance. This will be one very rare occasion where I discuss sports. Only to say that I am severely disappointed and may never watch basketball again:


“Ball don’t lie?” Sure it don’t. Except for when it betrays you and moves to Boston. Thought we had something special, ‘Sheed. Guess you didn’t feel the same. And now you’ve made me cry in front of my son. Thanks a lot. Jerk.

10 July 2009

The Birthday Party

No, no, it’s not what you’re thinking. I’m not planning on mounting a new production of the first play by Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter. The wife and I are starting to plan one for our son. Quite different. Not so bleak. Less absurdity. No cockney accents. Well, of course, it hasn’t happened yet. So I can’t really promise anything. But nobody dies.

I don’t think.

Anyway, so yeah, my son is verging on turning one year old. How did this happen? Where did the time go? I am rapidly becoming a very old man. I’m still not used to it (this whole being a parent gig). Does anybody ever really get used to it? I mean, to put this in perspective, there are certain TV series that I’ve been watching longer than he’s been on this planet. A lot longer. That’s just plain weird.

One of those series is Rescue Me. And its current season has been a very bright spot in the otherwise arid desert of summer TV programming (Dance Your Ass Off? Really?) And honestly, this might be the best show on television. I’m just saying. It could even (almost) be described as Pinteresque (see what I did there?) in its commingling of darkness and levity, in its black-comic brilliance. It is one of the few shows on TV—pretty much ever—to not only embrace, but actually get the concept of absurdity.

But I was talking about that birthday party. It’s a very amusing undertaking as the guest of honor goes to bed early, doesn’t really speak, and won’t even realize he’s being celebrated. This has not stopped an entire industry from rising up around this occasion. Recently, we received not only an entire first birthday-centric catalogue in the mail—oh wait, Pinteresque absurdity in action, after all—but also a handy, detailed checklist of necessary items from a well-meaning, kid-friendly neighborhood chain store—one with a very long-necked spokesperson/icon/mascot. And I’m guessing that all of these items (commemorative bib? really?) are conveniently available for purchase at one of your myriad, multi-colored locations. Am I right?

While we appreciate your generous attempt to guide us through the tangled forest of first birthday-planning, we think we’ve got it covered. Though, we did have an eerie, possibly foreboding, experience recently that might have made us think twice about this whole birthday party thing. While doing some preliminary research on paraphernalia for said birthday party at our favorite big box store, which we love and spend most of our free time at and which was recently given the Eddie Vedder Stamp of Approval (http://tiny.cc/5fVJR), something rather absurd, and fairly disturbing, occurred.

While we are more or less used to all manner of human person from small children to wrinkled geezers sizing up our progeny and gushing forth with excessive adulation, we were not prepared for the sudden appearance of the rather mangy, unkempt little girl (though in hindsight, she was not that little) who shouted “Baby!” and bum-rushed our shopping cart in a mad attempt to manhandle and ultimately kiss our son. No kidding. She got right up in there. It bordered on terrifying and my wife practically had to physically restrain this creature while her mother/parent/guardian was obliviously absent the entire scene.

Seriously, this girl looked like the creepy chick that climbs out of the well and emerges from the TV screen in The Ring (the remake, not the original—and while we’re on the subject, that scene of the horse going crazy and jumping off the ferry might be the scariest thing I’ve ever seen, I should never have watched it alone at night and oh no, now I’m thinking about it again—wait, back to the story). I mean, there’s poor parenting and then there’s this. Not only the ragamuffin’s appearance, but general inappropriate behavior. It was all I could do to not scream, Hey lady, get your dirty urchin offspring away from my kid!

The whole thing was almost enough for us take our son home and lock him away from the world for a very long time. Skip the whole birthday thing and just do it next year. Or five years from now. Either way.

I mean, really, it’s not like he’s even going to know the difference.

08 July 2009

Welcome to the Dad Scene.


You should know up front, I am somewhat neurotic. (That noise you hear is my wife's ebullient laughter at the
somewhat qualifier.) By way of introduction, I will say that I am worried that I'm (a bit) too late for this party. And I don't mean fashionably.

I mean that perhaps starting a blog at this late date in 2009 is just way uncool. Or maybe it's cool and retro like my extensive vinyl collection. Or is the phenomenon of blogging no longer where it's at, so to speak? It seems like maybe I should be on Twitter, issuing tweets, but unfortunately, I have a problem with verbosity and that 140-character limit thing just does not sit well with me. I would absolutely agonize over those missives, spend far too much time crafting, editing, fine-tuning, and shaping them into perfect examples of witty, sardonic, engaging displays of language.

Yeah, I've probably just set the bar way too high here.

The other issue that brings me late to the whole blogging thing is my innate potential to become obsessive about this type of enterprise. In the same manner that I am preoccupied with updating my book "shelf" on Shelfari and my Netflix queue (not to mention the rating movies section of that site)--I devote far too much time to such activities. It’s also why, so far, I’ve avoided social networking sites like the plague.

But I digress.

As the name of this blog suggests, the subject here will basically be my son. And his (constant) interference with my consumption of popular culture. This is not meant to be educational in any way. But if it helps, comforts, or amuses another first-time parent, I'll take it.

Back to that kid. And his cramping of my style when it comes to . . . . well, most everything I did before he was around. Seriously, he doesn’t like to sleep, he constantly needs to be monitored and/or entertained. Enough already. As I asked him a few weeks after he was born,
when exactly do you start fending for yourself?

He's now about 11 months old and has yet to answer me. What a jerk.

Okay, so I don’t really think my son is a jerk. Though he does sometimes smack me in the face and knock my glasses to the floor, as though I’m a scrawny weakling in the 4th grade and he’s the doughy, oversized school bully that’s been held back two full grades. But I know it’s not intentional.

At least, I think it’s not intentional.

And other than that, he’s pretty good-natured, laughs when I tickle him, appears to pay attention when I read him books, and is an expert at high-fives.

As for the whole pop culture thing, I'm happy to report that the wife and I have gotten out recently on two (count 'em, two) occasions to see some summer flicks. This being early July, that's somewhat sad, seeing as how even last year, we would've seen most of the big releases already. [Ed. Note – Here my wife insists that I relate how last summer, on the very day she was to be induced into labor, to give birth to our son, I forced her to sit through
Pineapple Express, when she would have much preferred to see Brideshead Revisited. And here I thought we were past all that. Oh well.] But I have to be satisfied (so far) with only Star Trek and The Hangover. And as this post is already incredibly long, I will limit my reviews.

Star Trek: Best. Star Trek Movie. Ever.

The Hangover: Best. Vegas Bachelor Party Movie. Ever. (So sorry Very Bad Things.)

But again, it's July and I've only seen these two movies. Because of my son. What was once as natural as breathing, a basic human right, has now become a rare treat. Because I'm a parent. Seriously, what happened?

Dude, where's my life?