Reporting, Recording and Relaying - But Always Telling It As I See It

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Technological Quest To Listen To Kim Carnes On My iPad

It is completely possible that I am technologically inept. I don’t like to think that, but it’s possible. I say this because I just spent the last ninety minutes trying to get our PC (specifically our iTunes library on our PC) to stream through my iPad. There is a great rumor going around that this is possible. By streaming (the fact that I am using this word should be some indication that I have some technological chops) I mean accessing our iTunes library over our wireless network so that I don’t have to download all the songs onto my iPad.

First stop, Google. It is indeed true that if you cannot find an answer on Google, it simply isn’t known. The key, of course, is knowing exactly what you want an answer to; but more importantly, exactly how to ask. For instance, if you type “How to synch my iPad with iTunes” you will be directed to, and spend forty-five minutes reconfiguring every song, app and map on your PC and iPad that will result in you being not one step closer to listening to Kim Carnes on your iPad. (During this process, I went up and down my stairs 312 times; upstairs to my PC, downstairs to my laptop, upstairs to plug the iPad in.)

Now, I was on a fucking quest. I refined my Google query to “Please, I just want to listen to the songs on my PC on my iPad. Is this possible or do I need to smash something? Because it is getting so bad my wife just asked if everything was okay.” I ignored the Apple Forums search results, and scrolled down to “Don’s Ipad Help For Complete Idiots.” Don claimed that I needed to enable “Home Sharing” on both iTunes and my “device.” Don said this was easy. I wanted to know why you had to turn on “sharing.” Why wouldn’t you want to share? So, back upstairs to my PC (don’t ask why I wasn’t Google-ing this from the PC, okay? It’s a long story that makes good sense.)

I enabled “Home Sharing” on iTunes by simply entering my Apple ID. Pretty soon I am not going to be able to flush the toilet without entering my Apple ID. I entered my Apple ID in iTunes on my iPad under “Home Sharing” and…NOTHING!

Back to Google. “Home Sharing is enabled on both devices, but for the love of God I cannot access my music library and I am close to losing my mind. Am I too stupid to make this work? Tell me now.” Don has one last step; iTunes has to be open on the PC. Hey, what’s one more trip upstairs? ITunes is open, iPad is on, go to “Music”, “Other”, “Owners Music,” “Which Owner?”, “The Owner Who Spent Ninety Minutes Doing Something It Should Have Taken Five Minutes To Do?”, “ The Owner Who Has ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ In His Library?” Yes, yes, yes!

Ah, the vocal styling’s of Kim Carnes; “Her hair is hollow gold.”

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Without Santa

What if the stockings were hung by the chimney and no one cared? Well, if you have kids who are too old to believe in Santa, but too young to appreciate a fifth of tequila under the tree, this is indeed what you have.

We are into our second official year of life without Santa. (The two years before that were questionable.) Needless to say, this changes the approach to Christmas morning the way Herman Cain changed the approach to job interviews.


Here are a few things that are different when you no longer have to look your child in the face and lie for four weeks:

1. No more being up at 2:30 in the morning assembling a toy that will be broken and missing pieces (if not largely ignored) by 10:00 AM. This also means you may actually be on speaking terms with your spouse in the morning, though you will miss drinking beer in the basement with two thousand toy pieces the size of thumb tacks scattered around.

2. Since the kids now know you are a liar, they see no reason why they have to wait until Christmas morning to get their presents. They will say, “If you already bought it, just give it to me.” You will tell them some stupid anecdote about how it will be more fun to wait until Christmas; about how they are still your baby; but really, you think of just getting it over with and giving up the goods.

3. You won’t have to pay $19.50 for a picture of your child with a drunk Santa that will go immediately in the shoe box with the 2,395 school pictures you have. (You have this many school pictures because it is cheaper to buy the package with fifteen life size cut-outs and 300 8x10’s than the five pictures you actually want.)

4. You have to find some better hiding spots for the gifts you do buy. Bonnie and I use the “In Plain Sight” tactic. (This differentiates drastically from when the boys were little and we could literally hide them in plain sight – like in the corner with a blanket thrown over them.) Today, we need to be a little more ingenious, and choose a place they would never think to look – somewhere like next to the clothes on the floor in their room.

5. For the first time, you consider how much interest you are going to be charged on your credit card to pay for Christmas gifts that will total the GDP of some developing countries.

So when the jig is up and you have nostalgia for bursting smiles Christmas morning, it finally hits you. The laundry and the homework, the appointments and the meetings, set that all aside, if even for an hour, and bask in the greatest gift – family. Whether it is the one God gave you, the one you made or the one you found. It is, after all, the one gift that no one returns.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

When the Bathroom Door is Broken, Just Fix It

There is a naughty elf loose in my house. Or, there’s a ghost of a carpenter past. Or, my kids are liars.

“Dad, the door to the bathroom in the basement is missing a hinge.”

“Missing?” I said, “Like, it is gone?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, ‘you don’t know?’” I queried.

“It’s just like, hanging there.”

And – my son was right; it was just hanging there by the top hinge.

I asked, “What happened?”

No response as they were dialed in to a game of Modern Warfare 3 on xBox.

“I said, what happened?”

“Umm – watch that guy by the building!!!! Umm, we don’t know.”

With a few years experience under my belt in dealing with distracted kids, I knew at this point my investigative inquiry must end. And it ended mostly because I know what happened – they and their cohorts, in a frenzy of adolescent knuckle-dragging broke the door. Ripped it off its hinge, to be exact, evidenced by the screw holes being shredded, rendering the existing wood screws inadequate.

Fixing this door, even to a layman like me is a simple task, as long as someone can take TWO MINUTES AWAY FROM THEIR VIDEO GAME TO HOLD THE FUCKING DOOR FOR ME! I went to the garage to grab new screws and a Philips head screwdriver. At least, that’s what I wanted to do. I forgot that Philips head screw drivers are what you need to adjust and tighten lacrosse stick heads…and apparently, after doing this, the screwdrivers are rendered useless and must be lost, leaving only a screwdriver that may be too small to install a screw in a pair of glasses.

But there is no use in asking about the screwdrivers either, the carpenter ghost probably needed them.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

'Tis The Season To Not Be Offended

Well, ‘tis the season; time to spend a small fortune on gifts and flip someone off in an overcrowded parking lot. Oh, the holidays. Oops! I meant Christmas! Really, I did!

See, it is also the time of year for news outlets to start reporting on how many times someone doesn’t say “Christmas” with the marathon tenacity that TBS runs Christmas Story. “Offended” citizens will spout off about how some local politician or school board or elderly neighbor said “Happy Holidays” or is having a “Holiday Party” and in doing so, have further corrupted the world and brought us to the brink of anarchy. The news dogs will lap this up, providing us with interviews and b-roll footage. Commentators will tell us that the heathens that use “Holiday” instead of “Christmas” are only being Politically Correct, further co-opting this great country. (It is actually becoming PC to complain about this.)


Maybe, just maybe, someone who says “Happy Holidays” is not engaged in some sort of skullduggery. Maybe, just maybe, they realize not everyone is a Christian, or maybe (gasp!) they are not a Christian. Or maybe they just feel like saying, “I am having a holiday party” instead of, “I am having a Christmas party.” Either way, if you are “offended” by this, get your “holiday” panties out of a knot. It is not a big deal! Really, it will be okay. No one is taking “Christ” out of “Christmas,” that was accomplished not long after the three wise men realized an xBox is a helluva better gift than frankincense.

There are plenty of things to be happy/pissed about this Christmas/Holiday season; your kid playing with a cardboard box more than the $3,000 toy that came in it and outdoor lights tangled like Congress. Remember, when you are getting flipped off in a parking lot, you can always say, “Merry Christmas to you too, asshole!”

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turns Out I Miss Vinyl LPs Afterall

My New Purchase: All Things Must Pass
 I am not much for nostalgia since most of the things I liked when I was younger are better now. I never sit around and daydream “God, I wish this TV only had three stations and I had to get up to adjust the volume.” Or, “Man, ten year old Penthouse magazines I found in the garbage were so much better than internet porn.”

So, I wouldn’t say I was feeling nostalgic in Record Revolution in Cleveland Heights on Saturday – just a bit of longing for the forgotten beauty of vinyl albums which Record Revolution had in bins all around the store. But what did I miss? Was it the sound? Purists will say that vinyl recording most clearly reflected the original intent of the musicians and producers who mixed tracks to precisely translate to LPs – and that their future digital incarnations were merely copies – copies that were cleaned and scrubbed, erasing the imperfections that gave each track and each recording session its own signature. But albums could get scratched and needles could jump, and not being a purist, I never really did miss the recordings.

No, I think what I miss is my record collection. Like a college bound fool, I sold mine before I left for school - an entire box for the price of a keg or two of beer. Mine was not populated with rare bootlegs – I had Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, The Doors, The Beatles and that Boston album with the flying guitars that looked like spaceships. But it was representative of my high school years – in some way it was part of what defined me. Sure, I can power up my iPod and listen to all these songs in their digital clarity; but I can’t read the liner notes and find out that Pete Willis played guitar on Def Leppard’s High and Dry album. (Rock trivia: Did you know that Tesla’s song, “Song and Emotion” was dedicated to Def Leppard guitarist, the late Steve Clark?)

And I miss the cover art; Bruce Springsteen on Born To Run, his Telecaster slung around his leather jacket; the Beatles looking over the balcony on the 1967-1970 greatest hits album.

Record Revolution (which is still so indie they don’t have a website or a Facebook page) brings all this back. It is like looking through photos from your childhood and wondering what happened to your friend in the picture of the two of you on your bikes in front of your old house. You forgot how much you really liked that kid.

I guess in some way I do miss the scratched records and the jumpy needles. I guess the entire experience has, after all, left me feeling nostalgic.

Record Revolution

1828 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118-1611
(216) 321-7661

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Please Kids, Just Do It

Our recycling container is right next to our regular trash container. I mean right next to it – they are practically conjoined. They are both against the back wall of our garage, equidistant from the kitchen. The recycling container is not located in Anbar Provence. You wouldn’t think this was the case when you hear the banshee-like protestations from my kids when you ask them to take the recycling out.

What I say: Can someone take the recyclables out?

What they hear: Can someone haul three tons of recyclables to Anbar Provence?

What they say: I did it last time.

And this last statement, “I did it last time,” really cuts to the heart of it. No one really knows who did it last time; they just know it was them. Therefore, those recyclables would sit unmolested for months before, God forbid, someone went out of turn. There may be blood sacrifice if for some reason the recycling program was cancelled and someone took them out just one extra time.

“I know you took them out 1,324 times, but I took them out 1,325 times. The only thing that would make this fair would be for me to chop off one of your hands.”

There is no metric that a teenager is more acutely aware of than who did what last. Daily, there is an argument over doing the dinner dishes. We have re-traced dinners for the prior week to arrive back at the current day to decide whose turn it is.

“Monday was pasta, I did those. Tuesday was tacos, you did those. Wednesday – oh crap – we went out for dinner. Well, I would have done them Wednesday. That means tonight is your turn since I would have done them last night and cannot and will not be penalized for going out to dinner. Now, if you let me cut off your hand, I will do them.”

What I said: Can you get the milk for dinner?

What he said: I did it last night. Why do I have to do it again?

What I said: Because you are literally standing at the refrigerator with the door open. IT’S RIGHT THERE – JUST DO IT!”

What I said to myself: Damn, it’s gonna suck when they are gone.

What they said to themselves: Dad is a real jerk-off.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

PSU and College Athletics - Can We Come Back Alive?

All of a sudden, strippers and coke provided by a booster to a college recruit looks like a Pixar film.

Time and a jury will decide if Sandusky, Curley and Schultz are guilty; as well as what shape and form the PSU athletic program will take. There are a lot of questions and calls to not jump to conclusions. Well, there is one question that has already been answered – Division 1 college athletics are not to be trifled with.

PSU was covering their ass at the expense of a child. That is why no one talked to the authorities.

One would like to believe that this is an anomaly; some hideous conflagration of tragic events. It was not. It is systemic of a culture in collegiate sports that puts the program in front of honor and integrity, let alone common decency and humanity. The question that should keep us up at night is not “what happened at PSU?” but, “what else is being hidden in college rec centers and behind weight room doors?”

Is this the trade off we are going to make? What are we willing to sacrifice to see our team hoist the NCAA Tournament trophy or win the BCS?

At a time when kids go to school about twenty-five weeks a year but can play any individual sport fifty-two weeks a year it is appropriate to ask ourselves where we place our priorities. Sports used to be “in addition to…” now they are, “instead of.” You hear a lot of talk these days that there are too many trophies handed out in youth sports, a point I often agreed with. Days like this make me wonder. We turn our back continually on the seedy underworld of college sports. We laugh about cars from agents, cash from boosters and jerseys for free tattoos. That shit is no longer funny.

I read a story once about a mountain climber. He said that there are three things he lives by on every expedition; “Come back alive, come back as friends and complete our objective. In that order.” Right now, I just hope we come back alive.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

10,000 Views - A Brief Q & A

How it all started
As I reach 10,000 views of this blog, I think it is time for a little Q & A.

What do 10,000 views really mean?

Well, if the Blogger analytics tool is correct, it means that I had 51 page views that originated in Iran – which ties them with Brazil but puts them behind Russia. (Really) Not sure it means anything. I guess it means that I am only 50,000,000 views behind some bored housewife who blogs about pureeing carrots for her baby.

What makes you think you can write?

Excellent question. Nothing makes me think that. At the top of my blog I have written, “With Apologies To Actual Writers.” That may be the most sincere statement on the site. I can, however, type a bunch of stuff into Word and paste it into a Blogger template. (This formula is the bane of real writers everywhere.)

Why did you start this blog and doesn’t it embarrass you?

Cool, a two-parter. First, the story of why I started this blog will be detailed in my forthcoming book – which at the pace I am on may be published posthumously. And by “published” I mean photocopied at Kinkos. Either way, the answer may surprise everyone. As to the second part – not as much as when I fell into a reflective pool in front of twenty business associates because I was drunk.

Where did the name “Deluxemixednuts” come from?

A jar of Deluxe Mixed Nuts that was sitting on the desk when I had to title this beast - a poor decision and my biggest regret. Let’s be honest, the name sucks. I was listening to Alice In Chains that day and really wanted to go with “Sludge Factory”, one of their excellent songs, but I rightfully feared a copyright lawsuit. I guess it could have been worse; I could have called it, “MyWallet.”

What can we expect from that ridiculously named blog in the future?

I am currently working on the story of how my wife rescued me from a potentially catastrophic porn career.

Any last thoughts?

Yes. To anyone who has ever read this blog - thanks. I mean that. To anyone who has shared this blog – special thanks for torturing your friends –no one should suffer alone.  Thanks also to Kris Denholm, Joe Dungan, Rick Albright and Chris Whitney - real life writers, authors, photographers and artists.

Whenever I am complaining and thinking none of this is any good, my wife always says, “I think your writing is excellent!” Thanks, Bonnie. She does, however, think I swear too much. Fuck that, time to puree the carrots.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

U2 and Relevance - An Ongoing Email Argument. Part 1

(Walking out of a Van Halen show several years ago, celebrating the return of David Lee Roth, my friend Mark said, "U2 has been the most relevant band in the last 30 years."  I disagreed, wholeheartedly, and argument has gone on ever since.  It has recently re-fired.  Below is the most recent incantation.)

From: David Meyer

Sent: 10/31/2011 05:30 PM
To: Mark
Subject: You Too

Two things happened today that made me think of you. First, I have been listening to a lot of Yes, recently, and it hit me that this is yet another supremely talented band that largely has flown under the radar in terms of popular support. Secondly, I heard an interview with Tom Waits. Waits is one of those guys who I think I should like, if not really like. But somehow, either I am not smart enough to recognize his genius or he is complete BS. He seems very intelligent but his music, well, I just cannot get my head around. Alos, I can barely understand him when he sings.

But all this got me thinking about U2. I am willing to concede that they are one of the most popular pop-rock bands of the last twenty years, but their music lends itself to great songwriting, some interesting musical nuances and catchy melodies. So, in terms of them being very successful at what they represent, they have succeeded. I just cannot see past a level of music that was always better than average, but never great. I don’t think they represent anything and I don’t think they influenced anyone. And by “influence anyone” I am talking about other musicians, because if we are talking about influencing us listeners, we would have to lop them in with Justin Beiber and NSYNC.

I have also been listening to Pet Sounds – which is a studio masterpiece and must be listened to in its entirety from start to finish.

From: Mark_
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2011 8:56 AM
To: David Meyer
Subject: Re: You Too

First of all, I feel 100% the same way about Tom Waits. Never got him myself, but feel like I'm supposed to, with similar critical acclaim to John Hiatt or Lyle Lovett, whom I think are brilliant...

As far as U2, first of all it's 30 years, not 20 - going back to my tenure of relevance comment... I get what you are saying, but I think the 'above average' comment is purely subjective, based on your not being as into them as someone like me. I would argue that the size of their library or 'body of work' is amazing and diverse. If they sound 'poppy' on one album, they don't on the next one. They have changed their sound multiple times on their journey...

• Post punk on Boy and October
• Driving drum beats and pissed off lyrics and energy on their political War album
• More ethereal on Unforgettable Fire
• Went more mainstream and on Joshua Tree
• Underrated tribute to American Blues landscape on Rattle and Hum
• Complete change to dance/electronic nuances with Achtung Baby - when everyone else was going grunge
• Continued into more obscure electronica on Zooropa
• Complete bust on their Pop album where they tried to go dance music
• Back to rock/pop roots on their last 3 albums...

They have had significant influence in a lot of alt rock bands, but other than Bono's voice, they are difficult to emulate because they have changed it up so much. Do they have the best guitarist, drummer, and bassist ever to emulate? No. But they may have the best rock and roll front man, and their whole sound is greater than the sum of their parts.

Plus, people still buy and listen to their entire albums. What brought it home for me is that they could have picked any of their hundreds of songs during their concert, and many in the crowd would have been excited. I think that deserves some props and respect that there are very few sucky U2 songs, or ones that were mailed in. And even if they are not the best musicians in the world, their consistency of good material while changing styles and staying uber popular deserved its own category of greatness!

(Not shown here was a recent, hour ling argument - tailgating at the U2 concert of all places -over the term "relevance" and how it can be defined as it relates to music.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Erin Andrews - She Is Not REALLY A Facebook Friend

Confession. I’ve always had a little (major) crush on Erin Andrews. Not in a “Google Image Search” (maybe a few times) sort of way, but definitely in a “got me to watch Dancing With The Stars last year” sort of way. So, when she popped up on Facebook as a suggestion for me to subscribe to, I thought, “Why not. I’m sure she has some interesting insights on the BCS.” Plus, I would quickly (for a dreadfully long time) check out whatever pictures she posted.

Good Lord, did I get an eyeful, and not from her dressed in a gold mini-dress. Oh no. What I glimpsed was insight into the undercarriage of celebrity e-stalking.

Let’s run the numbers.

Yesterday, Erin Andrews posted the following: “Dental X-Rays are a treat.” This seemingly innocuous post generated 677 “likes”, 19 “shares” (which may be the most odd metric of this entire train wreck), and 532 comments. Here is a sampling of the comments:

• “dat ass”

• “Still lying around hotel rooms naked and suing news organizations that report on it? Does anyone really take news/sports actresses like you seriously?”

• I am going to paraphrase this one: “Would you be interested in…” Actually, I can’t. It was two words, the first of which was, “wanna.”

Granted, they weren’t all this insane. Some were even stranger in their casualness. They were written as if the subscriber was an actual “friend.” Things like, “Right? I hate that too. Hope everything worked out!” These types of comments are frightening because they project a relationship that does not exist. In reality, you are posting on a strangers wall. These people are so absorbed in this faux relationship that these casual comments presume an air of connectedness that is delusional on every level.

If I was Erin, I would be less concerned with the guy who wanted to bang me than the guy who actually wanted to know how my dentist appointment went. Both total strangers, one honest and one obsessed. I’m not a sociologist or a psychologist, but this seems like scary stuff.

Most of us know Erin underwent a very traumatic experience when she was videotaped through the peephole of her hotel room door. My money says it was the guy who wanted to know how her tarter build up was.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

(Not So) Great Advice For Calming an Angry Woman

The following advice is not only foolhardy and useless, it is possibly inflammatory – dare I say incendiary? According to “Ask Men’s Health”, one way to calm an angry woman is with phrases like, “It sounds like you’re feeling really irritated” or “You seem to be feeling misunderstood.” What kind of jackass would say this to a pissed off woman? I asked a woman I work with how she would feel if a guy said to her, “It sounds like you are feeling really irritated.” She said, “I would say ‘you haven’t seen irritated you f***er!’”

The entire paragraph, in fact, is as uninformed as someone who thinks the best way to find a surgeon is on Craigslist. Let me highlight the errors:

• “You want to be as open and non-defensive as possible.” Wrong. You physically want to protect yourself at all times. Cowering is advisable.

• “Your body needs to say, ‘I’m on your side.’” Her view is that you could not be further from on her side.  She will never buy this bullshit.

• “Interject only when there is a natural pause in her speech.” First there will be no pause in her speech (and “speech” is a term used very loosely). Secondly, “interject” is interpreted as “You haven’t listened to a thing I have said!”

• “Once things blow over don’t broach the topic unless she does first.” HA! Don’t broach the topic again, ever!

• “If you have a lingering thought or question, let a day or so pass before reopening the conversation.” If you have a lingering thought or question, bury it deep within your soul along with your ego.

So, Steve, from Grand Forks, North Dakota, I would have answered your query differently had you asked me, instead of Men’s Health, what is the best way to calm an angry woman. I would have said; “Steve, you obviously have never dated. There is no way to calm an angry woman. You should sit there and shut up. Do not try to rationalize or plead your case. When it appears it is over, say you are sorry for whatever it is you are accused of (guilt is irrelevant, just apologize.) Never, ever bring it up again. “

But he didn’t ask. Just like Damien from Glendale AZ, didn’t ask me how to avoid gaining weight during the holidays. I wouldn’t have given the advice of “you need a pre-nuptial agreement with your food.” I would have said not to eat so much.

Keep your mouth shut and don’t eat so much may be words we can all live by.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Powdered Hands and a Harvard Degree - Living the Eccentric Life

The most singularly eccentric man I know appears to powder his hands. I can’t be sure of this because I haven’t asked, and if I did, surely he would answer in a way that would provide no insight. But what appears to be baby powder lingers in the creases and folds of his hands – hands that also seem to taper down to almost nothing.

He lives in a very exclusive enclave in Pittsburgh’s east end in a home that was built in 1930 by his parents who hired a very prominent pair of European architects to design the house and every piece of furniture and every fixture in it. As such, it is an architectural treasure.

Sadly, it has fallen into disrepair. I believe strongly it is the result of the current owner, the son of the couple who built it, the eccentric who may or may not powder his hands. Harvard educated and an inventor of some renown, housekeeping is not one of his strong suits. It appears he may have done nothing in twenty years. Carpets are worn, furniture is falling apart and three story draperies are tattered. (Remember, everything in this house was designed and built exclusively for this house.) The house is damp and smells terribly of mildew.

I first met the owner two years ago and have seen him several times since. Every six months or so he calls us about looking at some work on his house. It is the same thing; we go up, we provide pricing, we tell him he needs things done, and we never hear from him until he calls us to give him prices on the same thing six months later.

When he meets you at the door, the instructions are always the same “Don’t touch anything, especially the banisters.” He then turns and gently opens the door using only his powdered (or not powdered) pinky and ring finger. On the way upstairs, you will pass the kitchen that has several bags of cereal on the table. And I do mean bags, as in he takes the wax paper bags of cereal out of the box and arranges them on the table. You will pass by the expansive dining room where once I asked if I could look in. “No,” he said, “I don’t think so.” You will also pass several very large stuffed animals – the kind that make you wince if you actually win at a carnival because they are so large.

Recently, I was at his house with several other contractors. As we were walking upstairs (careful not to touch banisters) one of the other guys asked if he could use the bathroom. The owner, at the front of the line stopped dead in his tracks, lowered his head and inhaled deeply through his teeth, making a hissing sound. I had the feeling that no one had ever asked such a thing. Hisssss his breath went again. The passing seconds were excruciating, everyone waiting on the back stairs, hands prominently in the air. We were all wondering the same thing, is he going to let him use the bathroom? “Well,” hissss, “Um, I guess you could use the one up here.”

I asked him once if he was married. “I was married and have a daughter,” he said. “Oh yeah, are they around here?” I asked. “No,” he said without looking at me, “They are far away.” Far away as in you killed them and they are buried far away? Or far away as in they are running an ex-pat bar in Malawi to stay as far away from you as possible? Either seems possible. Did someone touch a banister?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kids and Porn - Just Another Thing To Deal With As A Parent

Porn rarely catches me off guard. It did, however, when it was on the television in the basement where my kids had recently had a sleepover. Odder still was that, a) it was on fast forward, and b) the kids were outside. It gives an entirely new meaning to the parental mantra, “Get in here and turn this TV off!”

The first thought I had was, “Porn in fast forward is interesting. Did you know that in fast forward a – umm, never mind.” My second thought was, “What the hell is going on here?” My third thought was, “If Bonnie comes down here we are all in trouble.”

I grabbed the remote and hit Stop. A message came on the screen that said “Do you want to delete this recording?” YES! Well, sorta yes. I mean it was porn and it was already there. What am I saying? Of course yes and where are those boys? “Hold on,” I thought, this was no time for overreacting. It was time for thoughtful consideration.

Now, I am not one of those parents who think their kids do nothing wrong. In fact, I always assume they are doing something wrong. So, how do I approach this conversation? And, how do I keep this from Bonnie?

When I thought the time was right and their friends were gone, I had the boys come into the deepest recesses of the garage. (At this point, and for their personal safety, I still thought it was best if this was kept between us men.) “Boys, I know what was on the TV and I am not happy about this.” (And that was partially true, I really wasn’t happy, but they are thirteen, so I do get it.) They pled completely innocent of all charges and were visibly upset.

And then, either the truth came out, or, it was an ingenious lie. The sleepover was being held in conjunction with a pay-per-view MMA event. My son had asked earlier about recording it. Considering I was paying about $3,000.00 for it, I not only wanted him to tape it, I wanted him to burn it onto DVD’s and sell them out of their lockers at school. He told me that he added time to the recording in case the fights ran late. (Now, I have done this myself for sporting events.) So, after the fight was over, they (supposedly unknowingly) began recording “***** *** Like ** ****” (deleted for discretion) that came on after the fight.

This still left the issue of the fast-forwarding. The reason given was that they wanted to fast forward to the main event, friends came over and they went outside, totally forgetting about the fight. This makes total sense. Anyone with kids knows that when friends come over they would leave in the middle of bowel movement.

Problem mostly solved. I had to tell Bonnie. I wouldn’t even have told my wife about this except for one thing. She pays the bills. This meant that our next cable bill was going to be $80,000 and include porn that her kids recorded. She took it pretty well – very well, actually. Much better than had she thought I did it, in which case she wouldn’t have bought any of that bullshit about “oh, it must have accidentally recorded!” Besides, that stuff is DIS-GUS-TING. I can only watch an hour of it at a time. Yuck.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Golden Rule Of Driving With Your Spouse.

There is a car commercial where a young couple is camping and gets rained out. As they speed away, the guy realizes he has lost his sunglasses somewhere along the journey. The couple begins to retrace their steps, laughing and giggling all the way. As the guy is coming out of a cave, he flips his hoodie up and his glasses tumble out. His wife or girlfriend giggles as if to say, “Oh you, so silly!” The guy shrugs his shoulders as if to say, “I know! Silly me!” In reality, that’s doesn’t happen.

Anyone in a relationship, let alone a marriage, knows full well that sort of shit is not funny. Car rides are always one misstep away from a full on donnybrook. Maybe on a first date misplaced sunglasses on a long car ride is funny. On any subsequent trip, misplaced sunglasses can lead to hours of tension and cold stares.

But sunglasses can be a metaphor for many other tenuous devices that can cause strife in a car ride with your “loved one”. They can include: traffic, closed rest areas, bad weather or deciding on a place to eat. (Sometimes it can be caused by something as innocuous as, say, breathing the wrong way.) Trouble usually starts when someone says, “Are you upset?” or, “Don’t be upset.” This is met with an immediate, “I AM NOT UPSET!” Feel the tension descend.

But upon examination, one would find that these triggers are not in and of themselves the problem. The problem is that men and women have difficulty (hate) riding together. We can function perfectly well at a party or dinner – but the ride to and from is many times fraught with a fragility that rivals any mid-east cease fire.

But barring an astounding leap in teleportation technology (and believe me, the men working feverishly on this technology are those who are most likely car pooling with their wives to work), men and women will be driving together for years to come. Therefore, the best advice I can give is, try to ignore each other as much as possible when driving. If this sounds cruel and childish, I will suggest you have either, a) never been in love, or b) do not cherish your relationship. For those of us in longstanding, solid relationships, we have found that nothing says “I love you” like not speaking to each other in the car. (And if you do misplace your sunglasses, shut up about it, I promise you no one will care.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Passage To Bangkok - A Rock and Roll Travesty.

Here’s a fun question. What band was formed in 1968; produced thirty-five albums; is third behind The Beatles and the Rolling Stones for consecutive gold albums by a rock band; is fourth behind The Beatles, the Stones and Kiss for most gold and platinum albums in MUSIC FRIGGIN HISTORY and still tours in 2011? If you guessed Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, you would be wrong. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, however, have been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Insane this year.

This year’s slap in the Stratocaster goes (again) to the great Canadian band, Rush. Below is my eulogy. (Non Rush fans, get out your decoder rings.)

So, with a Caress of Steel and Presto! Rush gets screwed again. With all due Grace Under Pressure, Geddy, Alex and Neil realize that even if they Test For Echo in 2112, even if they Roll the Bones with their Counterparts, the Hemispheres will not produce Permanent Waves that will permeate the Power Windows of the Hall Of Fame nominating committee.

But Hold Your Fire! Do not cast upon the nominating committee your Snakes and Arrows. Sure, we all want the committee to Fly By Night (away from here), but we had Signals years ago with the inclusion of such rock luminaries as Earth Wind and Fire that Rush was going to be nothing but Vapor Trails, gliding through the Moving Pictures of rock history. This is truly a Farewell To Kings.

Did I miss any Album Names? 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Important Facebook Updates! Please Read!

After the smashing success of the re-designed homepage, Mark Zucherberg and the Facebook brain trust plan to roll out the following changes in the very near future:

• They are switching to the Mayan calendar.

• Thought Translation Technology (or, ToTT): This will instantly post your thoughts about any particular update. Sample update: “John Doe…let’s plan on doing something great today!” TTT will automatically respond with your first thought: “Go fuck yourself” and post it as a comment.

• Google Search Post Generator (or, GeeSPoG): All of your Google searches will now be automatically posted to your wall. I beta tested this, and my wall post said: Dave Meyer just Google Image Searched “Sophia Vergara Nude.”

• Parental Cloaking (or, PreCk): This provides a faux page plug-in so when, as a parent, you view your child’s page, you see things like, “Your child likes Santa Clause.” Your heart warms while your kid just “friended” the little slut from the next development on his real page.

• Anti-Yum Engine (or, AYEn): This prevents forever the use of the word, “Yum!” Therefore, you will never, ever, be allowed to post something like, “Just finished the best chicken pot-pie! YUM!”

• Picture Reconciliation Drive (or, PRoD): This will block a user from posting 172 nearly identical pictures of their baby in a high chair with pureed carrots on their face. It will also limit any one photo album size to 3,000 pictures – especially vacation photo albums.

• Celebrity Reposter (or, CerP): Any user who posts a comment on a celebrity fan page thinking that said celebrity actually gives a shit will have their post displayed on all your friends’ pages. For instance, you may see: “Dave Meyer…You looked really great in last night’s premier. XOXOXOXO…on Sophia Vergara’s page.”

• Friend Confirming Engine (or, FeCE): The engine will require to prove you actually know someone before “friending” them by having you answer a few simple questions. The first question will be, “Do you even know this person?”

Of course these, like many Facebook updates always bring up the issue of privacy. I would respond by saying, “If you want privacy, stay off of Facebook.”

Monday, September 19, 2011

Joe Sure Plays A Mean Jazz Guitar (Further Enlightenment)

“I found this laying right by the side of the road! I sanded it down so they take it as number one copper. If there’s paint or something on it, they only pay you for number two.” Joe pointed to the section of copper tubing, about fourteen inches long lying on the ground amongst the scraps of copper wire strewn about his feet. Per usual, Joe was sitting on his metal stool, stripping wire - the life of a scrapper.

Since I last updated you on Joe (installment one, here) I have tried to find some things for him to do around my business. This has mostly been pulling weeds and sweeping. He does it gladly and is more than appreciative of the few extra dollars it puts in his pockets.

But the real return for me wasn’t a weed free parking lot; it was listening to Joe strumming his 1963 Guild hollow body guitar, singing a George Benson song. We had started talking about music a week or so before. Joe told me he played every Saturday at a nearby bar that had an open stage in the afternoon. A few days later, when I stopped after lunch to check up on him, he opened the door of his old yellow station wagon and pulled a battered hard shell guitar case from the back seat. He propped one knee up on the floor of the back seat, tuned his B string a bit and ripped into those funky jazz chords that are played halfway up the neck and sound just a bit off, almost slightly pained.

Since then, Joe and I have talked a lot about music. He can talk incessantly about jazz guitarists and their instruments. It is technical and loving.

A few weeks ago, Joe had to sell his Guild. He was having some problems with the pick-ups and the body had two cracks in it. He couldn’t afford to have the pick-ups fixed and the cracks caused a bit of a tone problem when he played through an amp. Besides, he needed the money. Selling a few pounds of copper scrap a day is a tough way to make a living. (Joe is so poor that he once walked six blocks to get a coffee because he didn’t want to waste the gas. That has been fixed; coffee is now free from our office.)

Joe has recently had his mind on a Peerless double cutaway, part of their Thinline Series. “I need to get something lighter, I want to stand up when I play,” Joe says. At around a grand a piece, Joe and I both know that may be out of the question. Today, Joe told me he is now thinking of a used Fender Stratocaster. Either way, that’s a lot of copper wire.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Admit It, We Love Each Other

On September 8, 2009, Marine Dakota Meyer (absolutely no relation), saved thirteen Marines and Soldiers, pulled four of his dead comrades back from the lines and killed eight insurgents – and oh yeah, he was wounded in the leg. For this heroism, he received the Medal of Honor. You would think this would come with a check for a billion dollars – that is stimulus I could get behind. (Interestingly, when the White House contacted him, he was working a construction job and refused the call. The White House called back during his lunch break.)

Earlier this week, motorcyclist Brandon Wright was pinned under a car – his motorcycle tangled in the front burner and on fire. Undaunted, the people of Logan, Utah, lifted the car ala the Justice League and pulled Brandon to safety.

And we certainly need look no further than New York, Washington and Shanksville ten years ago, the heroes of that day our countless.

The point is this; things are going to get interesting in this country over the next twelve months as we face down the unbearable presidential campaign season. We will argue, snipe, conspire and slander. (We may even libel, which is like slander, but different. Sort of like flotsam and jetsam – no one really knows the difference but they always seem to go together.)

But when it is all over and the votes are counted (and re-counted, and after the Supreme Court chimes in) we will have a new (or new again) President. At this point, we can comfortably resume our arguing, sniping, conspiring and slandering. That is, we can resume this until the shit hits the fan. We can resume this until someone we don’t know is trapped under a car, until someone is stuck in a burning building or until our friends are pinned down. Because when that happens, Americans don’t really seem to give a damn about who you voted for. The firemen and police in New York didn’t ask, the citizens of Logan didn’t ask. Dakota certainly didn’t ask.

Are we a nation of heroes? No question about it. But we are also a nation of people with different views, beliefs and lifestyles – who also happen to choose time and again to refuse to let anything bad happen to our fellow Americans. This, my friends, is why freedom and respect always win.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Permission To Educate

Today was the first day of school for my boys. (This was evidenced by the somewhat heavy application of body spray in the house this morning.) When I arrived home after work, I was presented with the first of over 3,000 documents I will receive – each carefully formatted – that will require my careful consideration. And by careful consideration I mean stuffing them in a drawer.

However, given that this was the first day of school, I decided to give what they brought home my attention, as we recently melted all of our gold so that we could purchase the school supplies they would need that are outlined in over eighteen pages.

As usual, some of these forms required a signature – particularly the one that asked whether or not I want my boys to be present in health when they talk about AIDS. As if to assure parents that this is not the School District’s idea, the letter starts by stating that School Districts were mandated in 1988 by the PA State Board of Education to teach a unit on AIDS, and that they are only complying with state law.

It goes onto state that, “there are at no times graphic pictures or in-depth discussion of risky sexual behaviors.” Well, that’s a relief, although I am not sure how you show a “graphic” picture of AIDS. Isn’t that like saying they are not going to show a graphic picture of the flu?

So if I have this right, a disease with no known cure that is easily preventable through education requires a parent’s permission to allow their child to receive this information? But I get it (and excuse me for the following bitch), this is done to placate a few ass-backward parents who think they can lock their kids in a room with a set of Hardy Boys books and a rosary and unleash them on the world at the age of eighteen and hope with all their might that they will be okay. Well, personally I think that is reckless.

We don’t have to fear AIDS – or drugs or sex or texting while driving or not eating enough vegetables– we have to fear the consequences of not teaching our kids about these things. It’s irresponsible to do anything less.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The One Piece Of The Chicken That Doesn't Taste Like Chicken

Pierced by my cocktail fork, the chicken heart, dark and shiny, was larger than I expected. I studied it for a few moments; considered it. I wondered if I would know the difference between garden variety food poisoning and salmonella.

Still, it was larger than I expected. But make no mistake, it looked like a heart. It was bulbous and asymmetrical. It was replete with a large vein sticking out of it that looked like a stem that curled a little at the end. It was done “yakitori” style which is some sort of Asian technique that translated means “way to cook food that should kill you.” Surrounding the half dozen or so hearts were four pickled quail eggs, each topped with a bit of bacon.

Bonnie and I were celebrating our anniversary at one of Pittsburgh’s newest eateries in the East End, Salt of the Earth. Our restaurant preference is usually guided by these principles; if it is ethnic, cultural or otherwise quirky; we will take a table for two. Our last foray had us eating beef tartar and bone marrow.

I took one last sip of my mescal and told Bonnie, “Hang on a second, I gotta eat this thing and I need a moment of quiet.”

I’m usually a pretty adventurous eater. If I have never had it, or better, never heard of it, I tend to try it. But still, eating a chicken heart was giving me pause.

It just seemed like something I shouldn’t do. So I ate it. And you know what? It wasn’t bad. It was not nearly as funky as I had prepared myself for. Sure, it was rubbery, but I was expecting that. I mean, it was rubbery until it wasn’t. After a few chomps, it sort of turned mushy, like I released all the connective tissue and it melted. It had the typical iron and mineral flavor that a lot of organ meat does. If it had been anything but a chicken heart, I may have actually enjoyed it.

But it was a chicken heart, and chicken is one of those things that we have been told can kill you instantly if cooked to anything less than an internal temperature that exceeds that of downtown Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Of course it didn’t kill me or make me sick. Salt of the Earth was a great restaurant. (I highly recommend the cheese plate after dinner with fantastic, smelly blue cheese.) Nonetheless, I think I may have eaten my last chicken heart. Try as I might, texture and taste aside, the little voice in my head that said, “you are about to eat a fucking chicken heart,” has proven to be too difficult to overcome. The pickled quail eggs, however, rocked.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Healthy Colon, Cigarettes At Dinner And Other Tales From 1944

Would you ingest something that promises to “help the friendly colonic flora to fluff up and prepare wastes for easy elimination?” Well, in 1944, that was the claim made by Kellogg’s All-Bran, reminding you that it is not a “purgative, it is a regulating food.”

To substantiate this claim, Kellogg’s enlisted the help of 71 year old Frank Lowe, from 4303 S. W. 9th Street, Des Moines, Iowa. (Yes, they provided the very regular Mr. Lowe’s street address.) Among other things, Mr. Lowe states that “after the first week my passage was normal.”

I came into the possession of the 1944 Cleveland News through my wife, who spirited a few copies from her dad’s house. This one happens to be from June 6, 1944. D-Day. In huge bold letters on the front page the headline reads, “INVASION ON!” (That sure beats, “CONGRESS AT AN IMPASSE!”)

But since we all (hopefully) know the story of D-Day. I thought I’d highlight a few other interesting items from the paper.

• They picked up a story (God knows how) from Pittsburgh about a guy who filed a complaint against the Office of Price Administration (known today as OPEC) for the ever increasing price of the small cakes he bought daily for his lunch. The baker is quoted as saying, “I only sell the cakes, I don’t make the prices.”

• The Pendleton Round Up in Portland, Oregon was revived after a two year hiatus. It is hard to believe that anyone outside of the Portland metropolitan area cared about this, but there it was on page 3.

• It was “Meat Week” at Fisher Foods. They remind you to bring in your waste fats for the war effort.

(Much of the advertising had to do with the war effort. The most prominent was from Raleigh Cigarettes, urging its consumers to not hoard its smokes as a full 35% of its production capacity was going to the armed forces.)

• An apartment building owner in Wesleyville, PA, was so upset at the Rent Control Board that he posted a notice on his apartment building stating, “This apartment will not be for rent for the duration due to the unfair rental set by the Rent Control Board.” There isn’t more to the story; it is thirty-eight words long. It is right above a shorter piece on the over production of magnesium.

• "The Correct Thing," an etiquette aside, informs its readers that if refreshments are refused, do not “urge” by saying, “I’ll be insulted if you don’t take something.” A friend of mine refused a shot one time, he was told, “drink the fucking shot, you girl.” I guess I have a long way to go.

• The advice columnist, Elinor Ames, states that it is not impolite to smoke between courses at a friend’s home, as “most hostesses will pass cigarettes.”

• The State Theater was showing “Two Girls and a Sailor.” You can work your own magic on this one.

• Lastly, the classifieds offered this gem. “On and after this date, I will not be responsible for debts contracted by any other than myself. Clyde Shook.” Clyde went on to write fiscal policy for the United States.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Do Not Password - Do Not Collect My $200.00 Dollars.

Being robbed and assaulted at gunpoint would be less traumatic than having my gmail account hacked. I am certain of this because I protect my password with the veracity of a mongrel dog protecting a marrow bone while I freely walk around with my wallet dallying in my pocket, shielded only by a swath of denim.

You wouldn’t think this would be the case, as staring at the business end of a 9mm before its owner pistol whips you could challenge even the meatiest of Health Savings Accounts, not to mention the need for reconstructive surgery and testimony.

Yet we are led to believe, via television and radio, that identity theft is a crime that renders the victim a credit quadriplegic - his life ruined into the foreseeable future as he is left wondering if even his customer loyalty card at the local coffee shop is valid any more. Tragically, this may in fact be the case. But the mere threat of identity theft has left us a nation incapable of social discourse because our brains are taxed remembering our passwords for our fucking gmail accounts!

Wouldn’t you think identity theft would decline with the current state of the economy? Isn’t there the very real possibility that the person whose identity you were going to lift is worse off than you? We aren’t exactly a nation of polo match attending aristocrats.

Nonetheless, we have been convinced (and maybe rightfully so) that our entire electronic presence is constantly at risk of intrusion (I originally typed “intursion”, which isn’t a word, but should be). Therefore, I need a three number, five letter, ten character, encrypted and updated every five minutes password to open the email that states that iTunes did, in fact, charge me $.99 for Bette Davis Eyes.

“But your credit card information is stored on those sites, that’s why you need a password!” the grand identity protectors say. To which I say, “But isn’t it also stored on my actual credit card that I hand over with impunity to every merchant - including the nineteen year old pot head who is looking to score a dime bag from the corner dealer after his shift?” This does not seem worrisome to most.

So, in lockstep with the rest, I have accumulated passwords like politicians accumulate PAC dollars. I sleep better knowing that no one will ever be able to hack into my Twitter account and tweet a message to Ozzie Guillan.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Reason I Don't Wear Women's Clothes

There are some things that only women are emotionally equipped to deal with. At the top of the list is the care of clothing. This is resoundingly evident on the rare occasion when I run an article of Bonnie’s clothing through the laundry. I take it out, mutter “oh shit” and start to think of how I am going to explain myself. I would put it away and hope it goes undetected, but she maintains an arsenal of drawers and closets all over our room, and I don’t know where ANYTHING goes. She walks a mile in the morning to collect her outfit.

But this isn’t a result of Bonnie being overly finicky; it’s the result of women’s clothes requiring the care and maintenance of a live donor heart. Men’s clothes (at least my clothes) are pretty simple; they get washed and subsequently dried.

As an example of what makes women’s clothes so complicated to wash, let’s examine tank tops. (And let’s assume that I am even using the correct terminology here – in female nomenclature they may not at all be called tank tops – but that’s what they look like.) Some tank tops (which all look exactly the same to me) can be washed and dried; some can be washed but not dried; and some require Bonnie to use settings on the washing machine like “delicate, fabric softener, half spin, triple rinse, twice removed.” This has her turning dials and punching buttons like she is engaging the Caterpillar Drive on the Red October.

The complexity of the washing parameters extend backward to the purchasing of clothes. Tags have to be examined. What? I barely consider whether clothes fit let alone how to wash them. (Of course, my accumulated time shopping for clothes over my forty-two years is about seven minutes.) On the other hand, men’s clothes are pretty straightforward. They basically consist of pants, shorts, shirts and – nope, I think that’s about it.

The end result of all of this is that I try not to wash any of Bonnie’s clothes unless she is hovering nearby to monitor me for potential mistakes, like the seasoned transplant surgeon studying the shaky hands of the intern while the heart comes out of the Coleman cooler. But when she is not around, and one of those tank tops rear its cotton, silk, flannel, spandex poly-cashmere blend selves, well, I look over my shoulder and toss it right back in the dirty laundry.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

ELO, Ola Brunkert and the Travesty of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Quick, how many top twenty singles did the band ELO have? Quicker, who the hell is Ola Brunkert? On Friday afternoon, in the sweltering heat of a Westlake, Ohio, garage sale, I met the only man (possibly on the planet) who knew the answer to both.

My wife was holding a garage sale at her dad’s place, and things were moving along as expected. A few older ladies browsed the jewelry; a young couple looked at the car seats and one guy rolled up in a jeep asking for ammo.

Nothing was out of the ordinary when the couple got out of their dated Olds 88 and sauntered up the driveway. She was dressed in an Ohio Lottery tee shirt and the longest denim skirt I had ever seen, and he wore a Rush 2011 Tour shirt, stretched to within an inch of its life over his belly. That Rush shirt was my undoing. I am an unabashed Rush fan and figured that since I was in the city that housed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the fact that Rush has somehow been overlooked for induction, I would break up my heretofore routine of saying, “sure, I’ll take twenty-five cents for that,” by asking him about Rush.

“Hey,” I said, “did you see Rush this year?”

“Saw them in Columbus at Nationwide Arena!” Now I realized I was talking to Westlake’s version of John Goodman. He was big and loud and spoke in pronouncements – everything with an exclamation. It was like being on the set of The Big Lebowski.

“Can you believe they’re not in the Hall?” I asked.

“I know! But can you believe ELO is not in the Hall? That band was a juggernaut!” He would say that line a four more times in the next ten minutes. I don’t think I have ever used the word “juggernaut” in a sentence, but he wielded it like Ron Popeil wields that big fire-resistant oven glove in his Showtime Standard Rotisserie infomercials.

Pseudo John Goodman went on to say, “I was a DJ at Baldwin-Wallace College (my wife’s alma mater) in the late seventies, and every week I would have a poll. Who was the best band; ELO, Zeppelin or Aersosmith? Every week it was the same thing, ELO won by a landslide! They were a juggernaut! They’ve had nineteen top twenty singles!”

I noticed that when he spoke, he never looked at me. He always tilted his head slightly backward as if staring off into the heaven of the rock gods.

“You have to induct these bands before people start dying, man. Look at Boston. Brad Delp is dead, now. How can they not be in? And even if they get inducted, they aren’t Boston without him!”

“Somehow, they let Abba in. But even that sucked because Ola Brunkert was dead. He wouldn’t have died if he lived in a bigger city. Bled to death right there in his garden because he couldn’t get good medical care.”

(Ola Brunkert was Abba’s drummer who did indeed bleed to death after falling through a door window. He died on the island of Majorca. I have no comment on their medical facilities. I would like say, however, that I never thought I would hear about this in father-in-laws driveway.)

Eventually, his wife bargained her way into two plastic containers. But the rock savant was not finished. “Right now,” he said, “Jeff Lynne is holed up in a house in Elyria (Ohio) with Joe Walsh working on a record. Later, man.”

It was a cryptic finale. With that, his wife stuffed the containers into the back seat of their car and they drove off.

My son ambled over and said, “Dad, he really wants ELO to be in the Hall of Fame. What do you think he does in his spare time?”

“Considers the effect of AK47 fire on the Hall of Fame’s glass façade,” I told him.

(Shamefully, I Googled his stat on ELO and they did indeed have nineteen top twenty singles. I found no mention of inadequate medical care on Majorca.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Empire State Says, "We Do."

Today, the state of New York began marrying gay couples. Also today, several local and state employees have quit their jobs because they felt that issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals would violate their religious beliefs. I wonder what part of their religious belief covers issuing marriage licenses to people who have a fifty percent (or so) chance of having their marriage end in divorce. It’s probably nowhere near that silly part about “do unto other as you would have them do unto you.”

In the spring of 1995, my future wife, Bonnie, and I walked into the Cuyahoga County Courthouse, presented some identification, paid a fee and walked out several minutes later with our marriage license. We weren’t asked if we loved each other. Hell, we weren’t even asked if we knew each other. We did, however, have opposing sexual organs, and were therefore granted the right to be legally married.

Therefore, the standard for determining the qualification for marriage was, and largely continues to be, the premise that a penis marries a vagina. It’s not love or commitment or support. I mean, if those things were important, wouldn’t the state ask?

It is certainly within the rights of those employees to quit, as it is within anyone’s right to be against gay marriage. But isn’t there a higher standard in this country that above all of this is the right of individual freedom and the sharing in the bounty of those freedoms? There are a lot of things I don’t like (men who beat their wives but are allowed to get married comes to mind), but that doesn’t give me some moral prerogative to co-op the liberty of others.

If the framers of our constitution made one mistake it was not including the following language: “And above all else, mind your own business.” But absent of this, I am pretty sure our country can survive the inclusion of homosexuals amongst the ranks of us married folks. In the spirit of this, I would like to offer this marriage blessing I heard from a local writer one time, “go ahead, if you think there is no hell.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How I Came To Further Appreciate Humanity Through Lady Gaga

 Damn it! Damn it, damn it, damn it! I may have fallen for Lady Gaga. There, I said it. She is supposed to represent all the things I dislike about modern pop music; manufactured, auto-tuned, processed, over-produced. Oddly, she is ALL those things, times ten. So I shouldn’t like her, right?

But then, BUT THEN! She shows up on Howard Stern. And she’s talking. She talks about drugs and how lonely they made her feel – then demurs on the subject because she “has so many young fans” and she doesn’t want them to think it is at all worth it. She talks about how she felt she “made it” not when she became the behemoth machine that is Lady Gaga, but when she was living in New York, on her own, and finally felt free to be herself – really herself. She talks about writing songs with her dad, and expressing his feelings in a way he could never do on his own.

“Okay,” I thought, “all good stuff. But she still wore a meat suit! Jack Bruce would have never worn a meat suit!”

Then she slides over to the piano, and she plays “The Edge Of Glory.”  And she can sing, I mean really sing. She has passion and poise and grace.

And I am pissed. I don’t want to like her. I want to mock her. But I can’t. Behind all the costumes and the eccentric behavior is an artist. An artist who I am sure hears the rants of people like me, and then promptly ignores all of it to follow her path – the one she is so sure of. (How many of us can say that? How many of us have the guts to do that?)

I won’t be buying Lady Gaga tickets anytime soon, or downloading any of her songs. But I will remember this: we have to get over ourselves sometimes. We probably don’t know as much as we think we do- especially about other people. I thought Lady Gaga was a cartoon. She’s not, and it sucks that I didn’t take the time to find out.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When Your Key Fob Dies (Exercises In Futility)

I now get into my car using a crowbar. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but it sure as hell feels like it.

A few days ago my key fob died. I know, at best my complaining makes me a whiner. At worst a narcissistic elitist. But really, this is a pain in the ass. For those of you who scoff, I ask, do you search for the remote for days on end before you turn the television on at the set? Exactly.

When the key fob stopped working, (and by the way, where did the word“fob” come from?  I feel dirty even saying it.) I put all of my mechanical and electrical knowledge into high gear. That is to say, I pressed the buttons really hard. This is as foolish as turning the knob on a lamp really quickly when the bulb is burned out in hopes that somehow you can conjure the thing to work.

This wouldn’t be more than a minor inconvenience if you could use a key somewhat effectively to access your car. But you can’t. Car companies have reaped millions in savings by removing all but the driver’s side key mechanisms. As a result, regardless of what door you want to open, you have to first open the driver’s side, where the sole remaining keyhole exists.

The end result is that you find yourself opening and closing doors endlessly just to get a gym bag out of the cargo area. Do you leave the driver’s door open when you go to the back? Do you close it? Shit, I locked the doors. Open the door again. What did I want? Should I just crawl over the seats to the back? Maybe I should just forget about even going to gym!

I did try the obvious, changing the battery. This didn’t work and marked the exhaustion of my expertise. Unless there is a switch that is in the off position and should be “on” I am pretty useless. (The only other method I know of to repair things is to unplug something and plug it back in, hopeful that the tech fairy can work his magic. Oddly, this is an amazingly effective technique.)

Just so happens, I have to take my car in for service next week. The front end makes frightening sounds when disturbed by the slightest deviation in the roadway – since I live in Pennsylvania, this happens every ten feet or so. In the mean time, I have moved my seat as far back as possible and will keep everything on my lap.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Gettinginthecar-aphobia (But we are getting there.)

It’s not that our new dog, Haley, dislikes riding in cars, she just dislikes the whole “getting in and out of the car” thing. And I mean “dislike” the way you would dislike the thought of a colonoscopy at a teaching hospital the day after the staff Christmas party.

Haley is sixty-two pounds of puppy muscle and excitement, so when she decides she doesn’t want to do something; she reacts by pulling on her leash. Forcefully. This must have been how the Secret Service felt when trying to keep Clinton reigned on Presidential visits to South Beach. This was the situation I found myself in last night while I was trying to get her in the car to go to the dog park. I tried everything; tossed her tennis ball in the car, tried to lead her to it with treats – hell, I would have strapped on Lady Gaga’s meat suit if it would have helped. I was determined to take her, so I figured I would just have to pick her up. Dogs have an uncanny ability to add significant weight when you try to lift them. I am figuring Haley imbued about three hundred pounds right there on the garage floor.

We can deal with the neurosis. Haley is about a year old. She was one of nine abandoned dogs found living in a house with no owner. God only knows what went on before she was rescued. Her journey to us started at the Orphans of the Storm shelter in February. In June she was transferred to Animal Friends and on July 5 she came home with us. So, in a year’s time, she has lived in four different places. I would imagine that in the past, every car ride meant a new and scary place.

But we think Haley is going to be just fine. She is perpetually friendly though a bit timid at times. She is getting the concept that playing fetch is a two-fold process that includes returning the ball.

Best of all, she is genuinely happy when I come home. Normally, all I am greeted with from the boys is, "what's for dinner can I have money it's not my turn to take the garbage out," then silence.  Haley bounds down the stairs with the enthusiasm of a weightlifter at a Mexican pharmacy.

Maybe she is neurotic about getting in cars – or maybe she just wants to drive. That would be fine by me; I have no problem riding in the back.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Into The Air Travel Abyss.

“Zone three passengers, you are now welcome to have your entire travel plans scuttled. You will be left wondering if anyone even remembers you are here. You will be kept in the dark as to exactly what is going on with your plane. You are free to call clogged phone numbers or wait in a line that moves with the speed of a blood engorged leech. If you do happen to get to the front of the line (though this is only possible be concocting a wrinkle in the time-space continuum) we will type furiously at the keyboard while we think of a way to further inconvenience you. Oh, and by the way, those of you with connections, you can forget about those.”

The gate agent went on to say, “We will, however, have marriage counselors standing by, if indeed you think your marriage can be saved after spending the next six hours in the boarding area together.”

“The problem,” he stated, “is that the front tire of the aircraft has a bolt stuck in it. This requires a spare tire (and not the baby spare we keep on the plane, a real tire), a mechanic and a jack. This being an airport and all means that none of these is within three hundred thousand miles of our gate. So, while the actual changing of the tire should only take about thirty minutes, getting all three here may take anywhere from ten minutes to, oh hell, we have no idea. But be sure we will not keep you informed.”

“Meyer family? Yes, yes. We have you booked on the next connection out of Charlotte at ten tonight. AND, only five and half hours after your scheduled departure! However, when you get to Charlotte, you will find that we managed to book your wife and kids on the eight o’clock flight, and you, Mr. Meyer, on the ten o’clock. This way you can plan to catch a cab while your family finally gets to sleep!”

Smiling, he continued, “What you don’t know is that you will be able to fly stand-by on the flight with you family after all. BUT, that flight we have your family booked on – that plane is delayed out of Philadelphia, so in Charlotte you can pace some more at the gate until we decide we can’t get the flight from Philadelphia in. We will pull a plane out of mothballs for you all to fly on – preferable with no bolts in the tire. Therefore, the 8:00 flight will actually leave at 8:45. When you get to Pittsburgh, your baggage will be on Belt A. But, if after everyone has retrieved their baggage and you are left alone, go to Belt B. Silly us, we put everyone’s bags on A but yours…just go to B…after you wait an extra twenty minutes and have suppressed your homicidal feelings”

The agent finished by saying, “As a special gift, the power will be out at your house when you finally get home at midnight. Then, after you realize you don’t have your house keys and are just about to drive your car through the garage to get in, the power will come on. We know you have a choice when flying, thanks again!”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Under The Bridge Downtown - Enlightenment Through Joe

Joe may be one of the hardest working people I know. Several times a week, I see him sitting on a milk crate in front of his weathered, yellow Cutlass station wagon under the bridge next to my office. He spends hours stripping copper wire from its insulation to sell at the local scrap yard. He works efficiently with a just a few tools. Some days he works feverishly with small engine parts, digging through their housings for a scrap or two of copper like he is trying to shuck an oyster.

“Three Forty-One a pound today. Highest it’s been in a long time, “ he tells me as I look at the carefully wound brick of wiring at his feet. It’s shiny, and reminds me of gold. To him, it is.

“That’s a lot of work,” I tell him.

“It sure is. Tougher now that the price has gone up so high. These damn garbage men, they take all the good stuff – appliances and what have you. Before they go to the dump they detour to their buddies garage or some damned thing. So they are getting a pay check from the city and making money scrappin.” He neatly slits a length of red insulation and effortlessly removes another two feet of wire.

“You see that hockey game last night? Vancouver could not get a shot off.”

This was not an entirely surprising conversation starter from Joe. Scrap may be at $3.41 a pound, but that is not enough to pay for cable – not even basic. Therefore, Joe relies on the one channel he can receive on his television for all of his entertainment and news. It just so happens that the station Joe gets is our local NBC affiliate, channel 11, which had the game on last night.

It seems unfathomable to me the dire prospect of living without cable. But I wonder if for Joe this provides some sort of freedom. Maybe he is the new American – the anti-media-magnate. No more channel surfing, no more worrying about a misplaced remote, no Blackberry or email. I’ve checked Facebook three times just writing this – who’s crazy?

Joe goes home, his pockets filled with a few dollars from a very honest day’s work, turns on the TV (probably, GASP! from the button on the set) sits back in his faded recliner and relaxes. Whatever is on NBC is good enough…it is only television, after all. I just fretted for five minutes looking for a radio station to listen to on the TunedIn Radio app on my iPad for Chrissakes! I ask again, who is crazy? I feel like I am making a hundred decisions a day just to satiate my media fix.

Joe and I chatted for a few more minutes. Finished with the wire, Joe pulled out a brush and swept up the remnants of the insulation and scooped the debris into a cardboard box that he put into the back of his station wagon – a trait that speaks volumes about the kind of guy he is. Me? Well, I walked across the street, jumped in my car, checked my Blackberry, started the engine and started to flip through my satellite radio stations. Really, who is crazy?

(Joe has one very quirky trait. He has an interesting and conspiratorial view about the issue of stink bugs that are the bane of us here in Western PA. I need to do a little more digging on this with Joe – I’ll get back to you.)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Furniture and Location

After thirteen years, one month and twenty-two days together, my two boys will not be sleeping in the same room tonight. (I am not counting the thirty-five weeks they spent in the kiddie pool of amniotic fluid in Bonnie’s stomach. I am also not counting the ten days Dylan spent in the NICU after he was born.) Suffice to say; along with the boys becoming teenagers, a switch was flipped that required some more…personal space.

There is nothing worse for a parent than not being able to come up with a reason to not allow something. “You have a perfectly good bike.” “We don’t need chocolate AND vanilla ice cream.” Even the parental fall back, “because I said so.” None of these were going to work. And to be truthful, Bonnie and I begrudgingly understood it. After all, we have a spare room inhabited only by the remaining gerbil. (Blackjack, the gerbil would be moved to the “computer” room. Does anyone else have names for rooms based upon contents and not function? The spare room has alternately been called “the gerbil room” and the “PS2 room” because the old Play Station game system lives there.)

The biggest challenge would be deconstructing the bunk beds – bought to be two single beds specifically for this inevitable occasion. I found an allen wrench that fit and Dylan and I took the bunks apart without anyone being crushed and me uttering not one single swear word. Once we moved the futon (bought from Ikea that came in a container as large as a shoe box holding enough wood to build an arc) and the antique armoire (not very fashion forward for a 13 year old) from the spare room, all that was left was to negotiate the bed and a desk to its new quarters.

The boys have been busy redecorating their new living spaces – Dylan in another room and Chris adjusting to life with a bed without a top. Posters are being re-hung and the futon has a new home in Chris’ room.

After college, I moved four times in six years - two apartments, an apartment with Bonnie and then our first house. Each time I moved a new chapter was starting for me (admittedly, I moved to my second apartment only because it had a balcony – but you get the idea.) For thirteen plus years, we have always said, “the boy’s room.” But as minor as this may seem, it is not lost on me that my kids are starting a new chapter. Today, it is a new space; someday it will be a new place.

And this is all as it should be. Cribs and bunk beds, or sharing a room – it’s all just furniture and location. The rooms will always be there, but the names will change; “the boys room,” “Chris’ room,” and eventually “Dylan’s old room.” But the names that stick, like Dylan, Chris, mom and dad…they can live anywhere.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Debunking the Myth - Why "Chasing Your Dream" is BS.

Last night I dreamt that I peed the bed. This is always a very dangerous narrative to have swirling around in your head in the middle of the night because of the very real possibility that you may actually pee in bed. Anyway, it woke me up (in my dream) and I went downstairs in a house that was a mish-mash of my first house and a four star restaurant. It also had women who would cut your hair. So, I sat down in a barber chair and the lady began to give me my no-fuss buzz cut – but with scissors. It took forever and she stopped several times to help out the wait staff for the restaurant.

During these breaks I would look in a mirror that was suspended in mid-air and wonder why in the hell she was doing this with scissors when shears (is that what they are called?) would be so much faster. Anyway, during one of these intermissions, someone came up to me and asked me if I wanted to adopt the puppy that wandered in. So this stranger, who was recognizable to me in the dream but unknown in real life, and I went into the living room where the little puppy was being cuddled by a full-grown male lion. One of us remarked that it would make an awesome YouTube video. Neither of us remarked that the lion seemed out of place.

Things get fuzzy after that. I awoke, for real, and was infinitely relieved that I wasn’t relieved, though I really did have to pee. It was during this toe-banging free darkened trip to the bathroom that it hit me what a crock of shit it is about: chasing, following, capturing, running down, etc. your dreams really is.

When someone says, “I always dreamed of…” I want say, “Really? You really had that dream? You sure you weren’t confusing that with the dream about your buddy’s mom down the street who asked you to hand her the shampoo while she was showering?”

See, I think anyone who says “it was always my dream to…” is a liar. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I am the only one whose dreams feel like Dali and Warhol were turned loose in a Crayola factory with a tank of helium and a case of absinth. But I doubt it.

It may be your goal or even your fantasy to spend your life fetching Lady Gaga her Diet Snapple. But trust me, in your dream that Diet Snapple would be at the convenience store on Mars – and you wouldn’t think twice about going there to get it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Losing To My Kids - So They Think

I get it; my kids are coming into their intellectual, athletic and know-it-all prime. But why does that have to be at my expense?

Last week I picked them up at our local field where they were watching a lacrosse tournament with their “we are da badasses” group of friends. In one corner of a field, they and their buddies were firing lacrosse balls into a net while another kid clocked their shots with a radar gun.

Routinely, these boys were zipping shots in the low to mid-sixties. Now, all six foot two inch, two-hundred pounds of a reasonably in shape forty-two year old should certainly be able to muster the energy to get something close to that. One would think. After I was told reluctantly that I could give it a shot, I cranked the lacrosse ball a whopping forty-eight miles per hour. I also managed to damn near need Tommy John surgery.

“Alright, “ I said, “Well, I will be at the refreshment stand.”

It was yet another example that the list of things I should be able to do better than a thirteen year old is diminishing faster than a co-ed’s inhibitions on a booze cruise.

Because of this continued depletion of self-worth, I have retreated to secret little pleasures that only I know about. Where I am my own competition – where success and failure are determined by my own hand. That is to say, I go to Apple’s App Store.

At Christmas, my ever thoughtful wife bought me an iPad, thus giving me access to thousands of apps of which I have absolutely no need for and largely do not understand.

Recently, I downloaded a game called “Rat On A Skateboard.” It is, so goes the cliché, what it is. You control a little rat with aviator sunglasses as he tools through a cartoonish urban setting. You tap the screen to make him do tricks, all the while avoiding the bouncing basketballs. Yes, it’s stupid – and also uncannily addictive. The point is, it was my game. I learned to grind some rails and flip the tiny skateboard to amass extra points.

When I broke a hundred points I was thrilled. When I scored a personal best 131, I was ecstatic. Then, one day my son Dylan was playing with my iPad and said, “Dad, what’s this skateboard game?”

“Nothing,” I said. “It’s a work application that I use to develop depreciation schedules for outside the box, going forward, value added capital appropriations.”

“Oh yeah?” he said, “Well I just scored 235 points.”

I considered deleting the game to avoid having to look at a score I will never beat prominently displayed at the top of the screen. My son tells me to use that as an incentive to get better. He doesn’t understand that the 131 was an anomaly – it is not unusual for me to score in the fifties.

I will never beat 235 and I will never shoot a lacrosse ball faster than my kids. On the other hand, I get to be their dad – beat that!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

This Is My Yard (I Mean Field)

Feng Shui - 13 year old boy style
“I will grow grass next year, this year I am growing kids.” Unknown

I heard that quote on a radio interview some years ago. I am not quite so poetic, so more likely would have said, “Until the kid’s leave the house for good, our yard will continue to look like hell.”

Buying a house with a big, fenced in yard was important to Bonnie and me. We had a dog and two boys and wanted plenty of room for all three. What was not considered was that we bought the only house in the neighborhood with a big, fenced in yard. (It has become so popular it is not uncommon at all to have neighborhood kids playing there when my kids are not even home.)

Our yard is now a field…and a beat up one at that. It is not lush, full or thriving. It barely supports life. It does support upwards of ten teenagers at a time, and serves as a lacrosse field, football field, a made-up game field. It does not, though, serve as lawn.

That ship has sailed. I didn’t acquiesce easy. I tried to fertilize, but soon realized that fertilizer is not resistant to the thunderous trampling of kids. (“It weeds, it feeds, it causes third degree burns…keeping kids off your lawn for years!”) Conscientious golfers replace their divots; the boys create them…willfully and with malice.

Aside from a flower bed near the house that my wife tends and small garden in the back, the kids have co-opted the rest. Just yesterday, my son Dylan asked if we could buy some field paint so he could line the yard. He was totally serious. Before I said, “no,” I admit I thought the idea was be pretty cool. That is how much I have given it over to them.

And all of that is okay. It won’t be long until they are gone. The grass will grow. The lawn will be lush, full and thriving. I will miss the clover and the dirt and the weeds. I will miss running over the lacrosse balls when I mow and finding the stray hockey stick. My yard looks like hell, just the way I like it.