Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Occupy Movement

I know it is probably a little late to be chiming in about the Occupy Wall Street movement at this point but, what the hell, everybody and their mother has voiced their opinion about them at this point so I'll offer my two bits.

Last month my wife, our daughter and I marched with Occupy Chicago. We found, as I expected, a group of people who care deeply about the future of the world and the glaring economic inequity and the damage it has caused. I was proud to have my three-year-old daughter alongside of them. It is not my future they fight for, it is my daughter's.

A big dig at the movement I've heard from the right-wing media is that it is just a bunch of disgruntled young people. This isn't really true, there is representation from all age groups in this movement, though the leadership does seem to be heavy on a younger generation. But even if this was just young people, so what?

Who the fuck do you think makes real change happen in this world? By and large it is young people. Who was marching against the Vietnam war in the 60s? Who fought the civil rights battles alongside Martin Luther King, Jr? The reason we have so many of the leaders and participants of the civil rights movement still with us today is that they were so young back then. Julian Bond helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee when he was 20-years-old, led protests against segregation all through his early 20s, was only 25 when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 became law and began serving as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives at the age of 27. Stokely Carmichael, Diane Nash and the great John Lewis, other co-founders of the SNCC, were all of similar age. MLK led the Montgomery bus boycott at the age of 26.

Of course this movement is young people. This is what young people do. Our world has done its best to keep them distracted with gadgets, TV, video games, etc to make them as apathetic as possible, but they care about the future a lot more than we want to give them credit. Instead of dismissing them we should be thanking them.

And how can anyone put down a movement for being a bunch of disgruntled young people and then turn around and support the crazy crowd of screaming, angry, middle-aged white people that calls itself the Tea Party?

To the Occupy movement I say this: Stay strong brothers and sisters and screw those people that dismiss you because you're young. Keep fighting for your future and my kid's future.

And, at the risk of sounding like a condescending middle-aged guy, I'm so proud of you. The next generation is not full of nothing but those who have buried their brains in the world of iPods, texting and angry birds. Like I sometimes think.

You are beautiful and I love you.

And thank you.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Gas Whores

A while back, around the beginning of the summer, I started to see postings on Facebook from many people complaining about the price of gas. One of the things I saw posted by a few people was a copied and pasted call to action for a one-day gas boycott. This little tidbit started off by claiming that "This worked when we did it last year..."

Which is, of course, complete bullshit. These stupid gas price protests have been floating around the Internet since I've known there was such a thing called the Internet. Not only is there no evidence to suggest that any of them worked, there is not even any evidence of a significant drop in gas sales on the day of the supposed boycott. But that's not even the point.

I commented on one of these posts put up by a "friend" (one of those people I knew for ten minutes in college who I never even thought about again until she "friended" me on Facebook). What I basically said was that she was wrong if she thought that "worked" last year and that in reality we have the cheapest gasoline in the industrialized world due to our government heavily subsidizing it through direct payments and tax breaks to oil companies, spending trillions of dollars on wars to keep friendly-to-the-US regimes in power and paying off those regimes with "economic aid." All to keep the oil flowing. So the true cost of gas is a hell of a lot more than we're paying for it in this country. I also suggested that a way to save money would be to drive less.

The reaction my points was amazingly vitriolic, from the person whose status I was commenting on as well as a bunch of her friends. She went after me for being someone who "doesn't" understand what it's like to have to depend on a car since I live in the "big city" (seriously, she called me a big city folk) and have access to public transportation but she doesn't. And she needs her car to do things like shop for groceries, pick up the kids and go to church. Why she made a point of telling me what she does with her car I'll never know, but I would tell her that skipping church would save you money in many ways and maybe restore some brain cells lost to the ignorance of faith in the process.

She also made some sort of reference to me being married to a rich doctor as to allude to the idea that I don't understand the struggle of regular folk. Comical comment seeing as how I lived below the poverty level for the entirety of my 20s and a good portion of my 30s, my wife has been an attending physician making real "doctor money" for less than two years (and I think a lot of people who know I'm married to a doctor have an exaggerated number in their head about what my wife makes that does not match reality) and the person making this comment is herself married to a

Then I was called the "most negative person" she knows - despite that she doesn't really "know" me. The oddest thing about this was I was being called negative for pointing out that we Americans have got it pretty good and our fuel is pretty cheap considering the human, environmental and political cost. We have cheap, subsidized fuel that she was whining about being too expensive, but I'm the negative one?

Thing is, everybody who participates in this little exercise of bitching about the price of gasoline always say they don't have a choice, they need their car for everything they do and they have no way to cut down their driving. This is usually bullshit. Everybody has a choice. Especially middle class white people, who are always the ones bitching the most about shit like this. Even if you live in a tiny town without any buses there are ways to drive less.

How many times do people in suburban and semi-rural areas take car trips that are one mile or just a few miles? The kind of distance that can be taken on a bike in a fairly short amount of time? It just takes a willingness on the part of these corn-fed lard asses do climb on one and do it. But no, wouldn't want to that, it might require some energy.

This isn't about gas being too expensive. This is about Americans being being the laziest fucking people in the world who also don't have any sense of cause and effect. Gas cost what it cost because we use so goddamn much of it. Pretty straightforward economics involving the rule of supply and demand. We use such an insane amount of the stuff that the price goes up. If we used less the price would go down and you'd be saving money in two ways. and there would be better air quality to boot.

It is amazing to me that gasoline is really the only thing that people seem to be so hypersensitive about the cost. Where is the outrage over all of the things that cost a lot more than fuel?

I did a little looking up of prices of items that most of us probably use and many should be more crucial to your life than gas. I then figured out the per gallon price of these things. No, this is not an extensively researched list, I just checked the general price of some things on Peapod and figured it out. But look how much we are paying for some things.

Milk - $3-$4/gallon
Soy milk (what we drink in our family) - $6-$8/gallon
Ketchup - $9-$15/gallon
Bottled water - $9-$10/gallon (I'm also a fierce opponent of individual plastic bottles of water, but look how much you see people walking around with it and you don't hear a peep that it cost too much)
6-pack of Stella beer - $16/gallon (You can half this amount if you drink shitty beer like Coors, Bud or Miller and add a little more if you like good craft beers. I went middle of the road with Stella)
Pint of Stella at a bar - $35/gallon
Salad dressing or baby food or pasta sauce - $20-$40/gallon
Cheap shampoo (like Suave) - $20/gallon

And my favorite one is printer ink. If you ink cartridges new for your printer you are paying over $11, 000/gallon for ink! Even if you go the cheapest route possible, buying a refill kit that gives you bottles of ink that you then painstakingly fill the empty cartridges yourself, you would still pay over $700/gallon. Talk about something that is way more expensive than it should be. Especially if you look in to how much it cost to produce.

Look at that list and tell me that any of those things should cost more than gasoline. Why do we hear no bitching about the price of all this other - I would say more important - stuff?

Fact is, we are a country of gas whores. That would make the oil companies our pimps. And when you are a whore you have choices to make when your pimp starts slapping you around and taking all your money.

Stop being a whore.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Netflix Bitching

I'm sure by now - even if you don't have a Netflix account - you've heard about the change in price structuring by Netflix. Basically they started charging separately for the streaming service instead of including it in your DVD subscription for free. If you want to keep your DVD/streaming package you have to pay quite a bit more a month. Though one of the things I didn't see mentioned by anybody was that if you only keep one or the other you actually end up paying less. But who cares about those details?

So began all the bitching and moaning on Facebook (and I imagine Twitter too, but I'm not on Twitter). I really couldn't believe how mad people seemed to be. You could practically hear the foam around some people's mouths. Lots of mean and nasty words for whoever it is that runs Netflix. But who's to blame, really.

Let me spell out how this whole thing came to be.

Netflix hits the Internet, offering a respite for people sick of the arduous task of walking a few blocks or driving a car to the video store. And for those people who find it impossible to return movies on time there are no late fees. Many people sign up despite the fact that they have local video stores nearby that do things like pay taxes to support the schools, fire firefighters and police in the area. After not too long the local video stores stop making money. A vast majority of them close down, despite there being a dedicated group of us that stick with them. Even big corporate behemoths like Hollywood Video and Blockbuster go under.

Competition thoroughly vanquished, Netflix is now a virtual monopoly in the movie rental business. What do monopolies do? They charge whatever the hell price they want for their goods and services, because where the hell else are you going to get those goods and services?

So to all those people that jumped on the Netflix bandwagon early on and are now complaining about them raising the prices, I say fuck you. You're the reason that I had to finally give in and join to begin with. I was perfectly happy walking to my local video store but now I have none near me thanks to you.

I'm not sure if it is people in general or just Americans (this is what I suspect) that have such a disconnect from cause and effect. I hear some of my friends who drive to work everyday bitch about how bad the traffic is and how it frustrates them, without even considering that traffic is so bad because they drive to work everyday! Everybody else is the cause but not them. I hear many lament the loss of book stores and music stores, but press anybody on how much stuff they purchased from Amazon (yet another company that doesn't pay sales tax - and has an army of lobbyists fighting attempts to change the laws so local business owners stand a fighting chance and to salvage decimated local government budgets) compared to how much they bought from the bookstore or record store - before they closed - and I bet I know what the answer is for a majority of them.

And don't think Amazon won't inch their prices up once they don't have the competition from Borders or Barnes & Noble anymore.

Think about this the next time you're ordering online instead of going down to your local shop. What is the result of the choice you make? And not just on you, but on our economy and world as a whole.

Oh, and quit complaining about paying too much for something that cost a hell of a lot less than it did ten years ago.*

*Do the math - if you watch more than five movies a month on the 2 DVD + streaming plan you are paying less per rental than you did at the video store back in about 2000 or so.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Peace Through Redneck Music

I'm a huge fan of the Playing For Change project that was started a few years ago by music producer Mark Johnson. He recorded street musicians all over the world playing various parts of the same song and then put it all together to create these fantastic tracks of beautiful music. (If you've never heard of this watch the video that started it all, Stand By Me. Then go buy the albums) On top of the wonderful music, Johnson also used this project as a chance to raise money to build music schools in impoverished areas around the world. So, you know, he's an awesome guy all the way around.

I've heard him talking a lot in interviews about the project. One of the lines he always seems to use is something about the power of music making us a part of something bigger than ourselves. Certainly a romantic and poetic thing to say, but I always kind of thought it had a decent amount of hyperbole. As much as I love music it is just music, right?

Maybe it's not hyperbole.

A few weeks ago I went to the Old Town School of Folk Music for a show by Southern Culture on the Skids, a band I've seen several times. SCOTS is always a fun show. The Old Town School was the most unlikely venue for them, a seated space that also has some tables directly in front of the stage where lots of wine sipping goes on. Not anything like any of the other venues I've seen this usually raucous band.

On paper it seems odd that I would go see a band like SCOTS. No band may be prouder than their redneck Southern heritage. I grew up in the South but have vowed to never live south of the Mason-Dixon ever again. They like to throw fried chicken at the crowd during shows. I'm a proud vegetarian. They seem to have a fascination with both Mexican wrestling and car racing. I have a hard time thinking of two things I may dislike more.

But I do love this band anyway. Probably because of just how genuine they are. It's not really hillbilly shtick as some people think. They are just hillbillies.

This particular night had the strangest combination of people in the crowd. I got there late and was sitting on a bench in the lobby while the opening act was playing. There was a guy sitting next to me who asked if I had been inside. When I told him no he told me that he had to leave because the band playing was getting too political. "Why can't they just play music," he said.

I know there are a lot of people who don't necessarily like political music, but I find that people who walk out of a show because the band is being "political" do it not because they don't like political music but because they don't agree with the politics being expressed at that moment. I didn't say anything to the guy, I wasn't about to get in to it with anybody.

Beyond that guy we had a mix of rockabilly hipsters (think the Brian Setzer look), the middle-aged hippies that are a constant presence at the Old Town School, the aforementioned wine-sipping upper-middle class crowd, t-shirt wearing music nerds like myself, hillbilly hipsters who wear John Deer hats to be ironic and also honest-to-goodness real hillbilly types wearing John Deer hats because they drive John Deers on their farm.

I sat there watching the show with this diverse mix of people (OK, diverse mix of white people, let's be honest) and I was even more in awe of this band. As usual, the band invited people to join them on stage and dance. Middle-aged hippies were dancing next to rednecks in from the farm, t-shirt-wearing music geek was dancing next to ironic hipster, the school's young and perky go-go class instructor (seriously) was showing moves to a pre-teen farmer's daughter who was wearing a John Deer hat to match her dad's. Downtown upper middle-class mingled with rural working-class. Those with a taste for micro brews were shaking it with those who guzzle PBR.

Even better, I'm sure that liberals danced with conservatives and Christians danced with atheists. The way that we should.

They all helped with the traditional throwing of the fried chicken from the stage.

All this because of a band that plays the oddest mix of country & western, bluegrass, 1950s pop, 1960s rock, a weird take on traditional Hawaiian, psychedelic, rockabilly, easy listening, rhythm & blues and somehow all blended together with surf guitar.

It was obvious that there were probably more people in the room that voted for George W. Bush than in any other concert I've ever been to. I have no idea what SCOTS political leanings are, mostly because I don't think they've ever done a political song. They are about fun and if you don't want to have fun they are going to make you anyway.

Before playing the song "For Lovers Only" lead singer Rick Miller started encouraging couples in the crowd to put their arms around each other. Down at a front table was a rockabilly hipster with his girlfriend. Miller went straight to him and told the guy he should put his arm around her. The hipster wouldn't do it. Miller even stepped in front of the mic stand and got really close to the guy, pleading with him to put his arms around his date, telling him how pretty she was and, "don't you want to put your arm around her?" The guy still wouldn't budge.

The crowd got really quiet trying to hear what he was saying to the guy - since Miller was in front of the mic now - when there was a single voice that yelled out from the balcony. "For god's sake, put your arm around her!"

The crowd exploded in laughter and cheering, and rockabilly hipster guy finally put his arm around his date. May have been the loudest applause of the night when he did it. And despite his best efforts, for the first time all night the guy looked like he was having fun.

Southern Culture on the Skids strikes again.

Friday, May 27, 2011

What's Become Of Me?

I'm not sure why I've been reflecting on my middle-aged self lately. Maybe the mid-life crisis is starting (oh my wife will be so lucky!) or maybe it's just that I look back at my life so far and then look at my daughter, recognizing that she has all of that to go yet.

I look at her at the age of 2-1/2 and it boggles my mind that she will some day be in her 20s, out of the house and living on her own. Possibly in a different city than her parents or even a different country. Hopefully I'm the kind of parent who will encourage her to do all the things I should have done when I was younger. Like strap on a backpack and travel the world. The last thing I want to be is stifling to my kid the way my mother was to me. Her life should be about her, not me.

I suppose I have hopes that she'll be doing more with herself than I was in my 20s. Don't get me wrong, I had a ton of fun in those years and I think I really found myself. But I spent a lot of time chasing a career as a theatre artist that, let's face it, I was amazingly mediocre at and had no real business thinking that it was what I could do with my life. Despite some decent success in my college theatre days I really should have figured out a lot sooner that I was never going to succeed in it. Would have saved me a lot of disappointed feelings over the years.

So I do hope that my daughter doesn't end up chasing a dream all through her 20s that she's just going to give up a quit in her mid-30s. Hopefully she has a lot of her mother, the doctor, in her. Maybe just a touch of me so she's not only working hard all the time and is having some fun. 80% Mom, 20% Da would be a decent mix.

Of course, trying to guess how my daughter's life will turn out is about the same as trying to beat the house in Vegas. It ain't gonna happen. Hell, trying to figure out how my own life will turn out is impossible. So many stages of my life I never saw coming.

I ended up living in Seattle at the age of 23. When I was 22 I had no idea that would happen. Seriously, even a year earlier I didn't see that coming. Being married and having a kid is a complete shock to me. I never saw myself having a kid. Lots of parents are the types who have been dreaming about the day they'd have kids since they were kids themselves. I got excited about being a dad about, oh, maybe a week before my wife gave birth. (Honestly, I think this makes me a better parent, not having a lifetime of expectations about what raising kids would/should be like). Scared shitless is what I was feeling the rest of the time.

So many things I never saw coming, like giving lectures and workshops to medical school faculty in Taiwan. I never even imagined visiting Taiwan and it turned out to be one of my favorite places. Living in New York, being on a game show, talking to Peter Buck in a bar in NYC, meeting a random Buddhist guy from Australia in an Indian restaurant in Cambodia and having a full night of grand conversation, the same thing happening with a singer-songwriter from Manchester in a bar in NYC.......

Life really can be a series of unexpected curve balls. And that's a good thing. Better that then how much of my extended family has lived their lives - living in the same town where they were born, never seeing any other place in the world beyond the Midwestern United States.

I was trying to look at my life the other day through the eyes of the 25-year-old me. A weird exercise if ever there was one.

I was giddy when we found an apartment that was right across from the Whole Foods, which made it my favorite apartment ever. Sleeping late on Saturday means getting to stay in bed to all of 8:00 (at 25, 8:00am was fucking early). Having post-it notes all over a computer monitor at work to remind me of things to do. Actually having a job that involves a desk and a computer. I wear ties to work. Daycare. Diapers. Parent-teacher conferences (yes, we've already had one of these). Hanging around playgrounds.

It dawned on me that the 25-year-old me would think the 40-year-old me was a big old loser.

But what does that slacker hippy stoner know? That dumbshit thought that buying a $50 bong with his credit card (without having the money to pay the bill) was the coolest thing ever.

Friday, April 22, 2011

When Technology Is Awesome (Instead Of Sucks)

I'm not a technophile by any stretch. I'm not, despite what some of my friends might tell you, a Luddite either.

I love things like BitTorrent for giving me the ability to get hundreds of live shows from my favorite musicians. I hate texting - with its inherent passive-aggressiveness - and fact that everyone seems to just disappear in to their hand held device in lieu of actually interacting with people or maybe even reading a book.

I love that I can burn mix CDs instead of spend hours making a mix tape. I hate that iPods are ruining music and the way we listen to it. (And they are, don't even try to argue that point with me.)

I love Facebook. I hate Facebook.

The point is, I do love a lot of the technological advances and how they make our lives - or at least mine - better. I don't love it just for technology's sake like so many people seem to.

But there are some moments that happen as a direct result of 21st Century technology that make me just think, "Wow, this is so awesome."

I had recently fallen in love with a song on YouTube that I found due to a link from a singer-songwriter from Manchester that I met in Harlem one night. (Full story about that meeting here.) The song is Train Driver by a band called Becca and The Broken Biscuits, who are also from Manchester (I think). I really haven't been able to get enough of this song it is just so brilliant and catchy.

I've also been taking guitar lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music the last year or so. I really wanted to learn how to play Train Driver. And because Becca has a Facebook page I was able to drop her an email and ask her to give me instructions on how she plays it. She sent me an email with some chord shapes, her tuning for the song and where she puts the capo. Then I took it to my guitar teacher who was able to translate guitar-speak in to something a bunch of amateurs could figure out.

So I got to fall in love with a song because of YouTube, by a Manchester, England band that really never would have had a way to share it with the rest of the world without already being an established act with a record label. I was able to get the songwriter to help teach me how to play the song because I was able to contact her through the internet.

None of these things could have happened fifteen years ago. How would I have ever heard a song that doesn't get played on the radio where I live? How would I ever have kept in touch with a random singer-songwriter from overseas that I met in a club one night in New York, for him to tell me about another cool artist? How would someone get in touch with a performer to ask them how they play their song?

Even better, after turning my guitar teacher on to this piece of music - he fell in love with it himself and told me he saw why I sought out Becca to learn how to play such a special song - and getting the class to learn it, I put up the video camera to record us playing it. I then loaded it on to YouTube and sent the link to Becca so she could see it.

Her response was beautiful. She loved that a group of people thousands of miles away learned how to play her song and said she was moved.

And the internet age had a lot to do with making it happen.

But at the end of the day it was still about human connection. No, I hold no odd delusion that Becca and I are now really good friends or something. We've never met in person, but she has been very sweet to a random fan who emailed her. And that's pretty cool.

But even though technology helped to facilitate this chain of events, it was at the end of the day about people connecting with people. Al Baker played a set of music in a club in Harlem that blew me away, I went up to tell him how much I loved his music, he joined my friend Joe and I at our table, I bought him a bunch of beers (I had won a bunch of money earlier that day on a TV game show - yes, really - and was celebrating) and he gave me his CD.

Al and I stayed in touch on email and Facebook, he eventually posted a link to Becca's video and I listened to the song over and over and over. I emailed Becca to learn the song, took it to my guitar class, my guitar teacher loves the song too, we share it with other students in the class and many of them really get in to it. Becca's YouTube hits almost double. (Though, to show what a stupid place the world can be, Becca's got a couple thousand hits compared to, say, Rebecca Black's gazillion or whatever).

We as a class then get the opportunity to show an up-and-coming performer how much we love one of her songs by playing it for her. Several people start asking if it's possible to bring Becca to visit the Old Town School. The whole thing warmed my heart and made me feel great about my fellow humans.

It's all about how we use our modern devices. Do we disappear in to our iPhones, never looking up to even see others? Do we spend twelve hours a day in a dark room playing online video games or ranting on message boards - or worse, comment sections of articles?

Or do we do something else? Something that makes us feel more connected, in a much more real way.

Below is Becca and The Broken Biscuits' Train Driver video, then the video I filmed and sent her. (Better to click the link at the top of each screen and watch in YouTube's site, these videos never fit on my blog page)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Parenting Oblivion

I'm riding the bus to work yesterday (one of the downsides of moving to Chicago from New York is that I actually have to be on the bus instead of the subway a lot) and a guy gets on the bus with his daughter, who appears to be about five or six. They sit across from me, the little girl with her backpack on looking cute as hell. She sits there in silence, I'm reading my book and not really paying attention to anything else.

Then I look up at some point and see that the dad is listening to his headphones.

After parents smacking their kids, this infuriates me more than just about anything I see parents do. I mean, come on! You're sitting there with your daughter and you escape in to your own little world and don't interact with her at all? I do not understand this type of parent at all. Why have kids if you don't want to talk to them?

Now this was a young father it seemed. And certainly looked to be someone who is probably a lot less well off than me. So there is a very good chance that this guy wasn't really planning on having kids at this point in his life, was just liking having sex with his girlfriend.

But still, it happened. You have a job to do now. A big job.

I'll bet if you ask this guy if he's doing the things he needs to be doing as a father he would probably say yes. The little girl was clean and well dressed. She didn't look hungry. He was getting her off to school. Her basic needs seem to be well taken care of.

But there is so much more to being a parent, and it drives me batty when I see parents that don't get that.

I never, ever put my headphones on when I'm out with my daughter. I can't believe that anybody even thinks that's OK. How could you not want to have conversations with your kid when you are riding on the bus or train?

I know that my kid already has an advantage over this guy's kid just based on the condition she was born in to. My wife makes great money and we're white in America. I know that it will be easier for us. But I think that's why it so much more important for this guy to take a bigger interest in his daughter. When parents are involved kids do better in school and in life. A lot of these parents will also be the ones bitching about the quality of the schools in their neighborhood, and that's a valid point. But what are they doing to help? Don't they think their involvement makes a difference in how their kid does in school, how well they learn? I have my doubts that the kind of parent who listens to music and ignores their own child on a bus is the kind of parent that shows up for parent-teacher conferences and PTA meetings.

Yes, we should all have equal advantages, it is not fair that my kid has a leg up on his from the moment she was born. But the answer is not to just say "fuck it" and put on the headphones.

And I think that's what these parents are doing when I see them. Just giving up. Instead of talking to this amazing little person that they created, helping them to engage in the world around them, they'd rather shut themselves off from that world.

And along with it, their own kid.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What I've Learned - Year 2

I've now been a father for over two years now and, as I did after the first year, I have some reflections on what I've learned. I actually accepted a job a few months ago, so I'm now a working parent instead of a stay-at-home dad. I'm not really sure if this affected my outlook and opinion of parenting or not. We shall see...

I'm pretty sure my wife and I are the only parents of a toddler who don't refer to ourselves in the third person. You know, stuff like, "Bring that apple to Daddy." I really expected I would start doing this even though it annoys the hell out of me, just because every parent I've ever seen does it. Thankfully I've never even felt the urge. We all hate anybody who refers to themselves in the third person in every other situation, why do we find it OK when parents do it? I really don't get why parents do this anyway. A one-year-old is perfectly capable of understanding the concept of me, my, you, yours, he, his, etc. At least mine is. Treat them stupid and they will be stupid, I say.

I think we are also the only parents that don't use cutesy names like PJs, blankey, boo-boo and the like. Another thing I don't understand about other parents.

Reading your kid the books you remember from your own childhood can be a double-edged sword as they may not be as awesome as you remember. Sure, those Richard Scarry books are just as cool as you remember. But when I read Curious George I got sick to my stomach. The man with the yellow hat is not George's "friend" as the books refer to him, he is his captor. He captured George as a baby and took him out of the jungle to the city. George is his monkey-slave. And this supposedly makes George happy? Evil, evil book. I can't believe our parents read that to us.

The original two Corduroy books, by Don Freeman (which were not a part of my childhood), are so fantastic I can hardly stand it. All the rest, written by different authors after Freeman died, are such complete pieces of shit I can hardly stand it.

After having been a stay-at-home parent and now being a working parent and can now say with certainty that being a stay-at-home is a lot easier. I know this isn't necessarily the most PC thing to say, but I've been on both sides. Let me just say this, my new job doesn't have a nap time.

I'm soooooooooo ready for the diaper years to be over. It's another one of those things that make me wonder why people have more than one kid. You want to extend the diaper years?

I laugh even more now than when I hung around sketch comedy actors/writers. And I hung around great sketch comedy people. Two-year-olds are fucking hilarious.

I'm so happy my daughter has decided to call me "Da" instead of "Daddy" or "Dad." I don't know why, maybe just because it is less common (outside of Ireland at least) and when I'm around a bunch of other parents I'll know if it's my kid calling me. Unless those kids at daycare start influencing her with that pedestrian "Daddy" stuff.

I'm so impressed when my kid does something new, like the first time she counted to three or when she made it all the way to ten. I know she's not like a super genius, smartest kid in the world or anything. But when you are hanging around a little human who can suddenly do something she couldn't do the day before it sure seems genius.

I know people call it the "terrible twos" (really a degrading thing to call a kid) but I like having a two-year-old so much more than a six-month-old.

CDs of popular or classical music that are rerecorded to be "for kids" are so utterly stupid. Just play Vivaldi for your kid, not the horribly simplistic and shallow version that Baby Einstein puts out. If you want to introduce your kids to The Beatles, then play them a Beatles record. What's the point of a lullaby version of The Beatles? To annoy everyone? These things seem to be more likely to make your kid a music hater.

You can raise your kid in a green(er) way. There are better options for diapers out there, you don't have to use chlorine-filled disposables. You also don't need to surround yourself with a house full of plastic shit. You have to lay down the law with your family and friends and risk offending/upsetting some of them, but you can avoid having nothing but plastic toys. When you ban plastic you get better quality toys anyway. We have also proven wrong all those people that said after we had a kid we would have to buy a car.

After being offered my job - I wasn't actually looking for a job when this all came up - I had less than a month to find a decent daycare for my daughter. I'm pretty sure I've never experienced a higher level of stress in my life.

I hear lots of parents say that raising a child is the hardest thing you'll ever do. I think these people have never done anything in their lives that is actually hard. Raising a kid is a cakewalk compared to just about anything else this side of being born an heiress.

I think I may have one of the most laid-back two-year-olds ever. Whenever she's starting to get testy and having a hissy, acting at her absolute worst, most other parents will react with, "Wait, that's her worst? Hell, that's nothing." So maybe it is just raising my kid that is so easy.

The most important thing I've learned is that I'm really goddamn good at this, being a parent. I know that seems smug and egotistical but I can't help it, I just am. I totally thought I was going to suck at being a parent. I feared it. But it turns out I am so awesome at it that I'm amazed by myself. Seriously, I have never been the most confident person about anything. I always questioned that I was a very good theatre director even when I was having success at it, and feel similar about what I do for a living now. But parenting? I'll go toe-to-toe with anybody. I try not be this way, I really do, because I know how annoying it makes me. But when I see most other parents in action I just can't help but think to myself, "What fucking morons."

Terrible, I know. I shouldn't be so mean toward other parents. I'm sure most of the ones I see are doing a perfectly acceptable job. Just not as good as me.

I really have never been as good at anything as I am at being a dad. I guess that's also why I know this isn't that hard. Because if I can be good at this...