Be yourself…or be Batman!

Mr. C: Hey Daddy, can you guess what song Killer Croc sings to Batman ?

Me: No, what is it? 

Mr. C starts to sing………..

“Did I ever tell you that you’re my herooooooo?!!!!….

Me:  Oh no!…

C: Everything I wish I could be!!!….

Me: No, no please stop…

Mr C: I can fly higher than an eagleeeeee!!!….

Me: No,no,no, please stop!… (puts fingers in ears) … La, la, la,la! I can’t hear you!

C: For you are the wind beneath my wings!!!!….

Me:  Great, thanks for the earworm!

The Snow Shovel

This past week we had an early Spring snow storm that brought us a few inches of heavy wet snow.  After the storm ended, I went outside to shovel the walkway and driveway, a bit reluctantly since it’s April and I know that all this snow will melt in a few days anyway.  It was just me shoveling, as Mr. C and Ms. J were out taking Scout for a walk.  It was an early Spring day, and the temperature was approaching 50, so I really wasn’t in a rush to finish the shoveling.  It was already starting to melt, so why should I work so hard to clear it off the drive way anyway, I thought.

So I decided to take a break for lunch, and went inside to make a sandwich, leaving my shovel propped up on a snow pile  Between making lunch and eating lunch, I must have taken about a half hour.  Just as I finished my sandwich, the phone rang, which added another fifteen minutes or so to the time inside.  After my break, I thought I would go out and finish clearing off the side walk. However, when I went outside, my shovel was gone!

I looked all over the front yard and there was no sign of the shovel. It wasn’t in the big pile of snow next to the driveway, not in the pile next to the sidewalk, not leaning next to the back of my car in the driveway, not leaning next to the front of my car in the driveway. It was nowhere to be seen.

Then I looked down the street and saw my shovel sticking out of a pile of snow in a neighbor’s driveway.  It’s a very distinctive yellow color, with a yellow handle, and I remember the brand name was ‘Garant, and that the table had started to peel off the handle.  Is that my shovel?   Did my neighbor “borrow” my shovel ?

The house in question is four houses down, across the street, so I walked over to the shovel to check to see if it was mine.  It had the yellow handle, the yellow shovel, and the label was starting to peel off the handle.

‘Hmmm… why would this guy take my shovel?’, I thought.  Very odd.  I knew that this was a new family on the block, so maybe they didn’t have a shovel, or maybe they didn’t know where their shovel was in the pile of boxes they must have from moving in.  So I took the shovel back home and finished shoveling.

After I finished shoveling I put the shovel away, stacking it with the two other shovels I keep in the front entry way.  By this time it was about 3:00pm, Ms. J and C had come back home from walking the dog, and it was still early afternoon, so we were able to do quite a few other things the rest of the day.  I forgot to ask J what she thought of the missing shovel, we were just too busy doing other things and it didn’t occur to me at the time.

The next morning at about 5:00 am, Scout needed to go out.  He doesn’t bark to let us know he needs to go out, he shakes his head until his ears shake around making a distinctive sound.  It’s a fairly quiet sound, so often only one of us wakes up, me or Ms. J.   Since it was still early, J and C were still asleep, and since I was barely awake myself, I decided to just let him out into the back yard.  The back yard is fenced, so we can just let him run around out there if he needs to.  This has been a great advantage on freezing cold Winter nights. We can just open the back door, let Scout out, and wait inside where it’s warm.  So I put on my bathrobe and slippers, went down stairs to let him out.

I open the back door, Scout runs out, and just as I turn to go back inside, in the early morning light I see a snow shovel with a yellow handle next to the back door.  My shovel.  At the back door.  I didn’t leave it in the front yard when I went inside for lunch yesterday, I went in the back door and left the shovel at the back door.

Now I had stolen my new neighbor’s shovel and it was on my front porch.  What to do?    I don’t even know who these people are yet, they just moved in.   Should I wait until the morning and introduce myself as their neighbor down the street who stole their shovel ? So at about 5:15 am, I took the shovel walked down the street and put it back in the snow pile at the end of their driveway.  I did change from the bathrobe and slippers to a shirt and pants before doing that though.





Daddy’s Crazy Music

I still have some old vinyl records, and among the vintage new wave hits of the 80’s in my collection, there are a number of works that I suppose could be called ‘experimental’. Mr. C just calls them ‘Daddy’s Crazy Music’.  Examples include works by This Heat, Steve Reich, Brian Eno, Dead C, Bailter Space, Godspeed You Black Emperor, and Gilbert & Lewis.  Some of this is ambient and some might just be called noise. As a Classical music fan, Ms. J does not prefer to hear any of this either. 

Here’s an example from Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis.  ‘Barge Calm’ from their 1980 LP, ‘3R4’.  

If you do go ahead and listen to it, you can stop after a minute or so, it just continues like this….for another 17 minutes. 

Here’s the LP.  (I can’t believe it’s been 37 years since I bought this!)

Since I work from home, and I know this sort of music is not for everyone, if I do want to listen to any of it I will dig out one of these old LP’s during the day. When C is at school and J at work. 

This has worked fine until we got our dog Scout.  Something like ‘Barge Calm’ will make him howl. Hoooowwwwwwllllll ….owwwwwww!  Owwww….Howwwwwwlllll!  This continues until I take the music off. 

Not an avant-garde music fan. 

Looks like I will have to resort to listening to this in the car.  Yes, I do own two copies of this, the other one being a compact disc. 

Lego Advent Mystery Calendar

We finally were able to get a Lego Advent Calendar  this year, after years of having them sell out before we could find one. Among this year’s 24 little Lego sets was this mystery man. 

It looks like he’s getting a chocolate chip cookie ready on some kind of serving board.  Or maybe it’s a cake that he’s taking from the oven?  But why does he have a helmet with a face shield on?  And is that an oxygen tank on his back ?  Is this some kind of tradition that I’ m not familiar with?  Is he a fireman who also bakes? 

At least the Santa figure makes sense.

Is This Important?

Do these toy pieces left on the floor go up the vacuum cleaner tube or not?

I remember this one, it’s a part of a wooden catapult kit. We looked and looked for this for hours, finally giving up and replacing the missing part with a metal washer instead.  Up the vacuum cleaner tube it goes!

I used to think that stepping on a Lego was the worst thing to step on, but a marble is worse.   We spent some money on those marbles though, so, much as I’d like to reduce the number of marbles in the house, I am cheap,  and I don’t like the idea that they would be lost to the vacuum, so you’re safe Mr. Heel Killer.

We love Legos here, so all Legos get a pass.  You’re safe from the vacuum little Lego piece.  I think this one is from a Lego construction truck set.

This guy is missing an arm and his legs.  Tough call on this one.  Mr. C does like this one, hmmm… lets see if he can find the missing parts.  You’re safe for now, little guy.

I’m pretty sure this is a piece from a game.   If we don’t have this piece, it will be hard to play the game, so this one is safe.

The smallest possible Lego piece ?   Also safe, though Mr. C has to get these, I’ve done enough bending down for the day.

I have no idea what this is, and it’s not a Lego.  Mr C. doesn’t know what it is either.  Sorry, little part, it’s the end of the line for you.  We’ll probably need you six months from now when we’re playing with whatever set you came from but that’s a chance we’ll have to take. We must reduce the clutter!  Up the tube with you!

This might be a Lego, then again maybe it’s not a Lego.  Hmmm, the judge says it has to be clearly marked to be a Lego.  Sorry, you have to go, whatever you are.

Good job, Mr. C, you found his arm!   Now how about the rest of him?  OK, orange vest guy, you have 48 hours for us to find your pants.  Then it’s out the door with you, sorry.

Short or long

C gets homework every day, which I usually help him with. Most days doing second grade level school work is no problem for either him or me, but lately it has been a struggle.  His class is now working on identifying long and short vowel sounds, and I have been no help to him at all.

Assignments include such things as circling the words with a ‘short A’ sound in a sentence, making a list of ‘long a’ words, or correcting words that have been marked as being either ‘long’ or ‘short’.   Here’s a sample of how his teacher corrected one of his lists of ‘short a’ words.

I have trouble with this partly because I don’t remember what the difference is between long and short vowel sounds, but I think that main reason is that being a native of Boston, I don’t really say words the way they’re supposed to be said. Typical of the accent is that I tend to drop the letter “r” and replace it with an “h”. Car” comes out more like “Cahhh”, the word “corn”, sounds like “cawn”, “horse” sounds like “hoarse”, “park” sounds like “pahk”, “picture” sounds like “pictyahh”.    Some of us will also drop the “g” at the end of words, so  “walking” becomes “walkin”.  Combine dropping the r and g  and “learning” sounds like “lahnin”.

Also, words that would not sound alike, do in fact sound the same when said by a speaker from Boston, such as “caught” and “cot”,  “four” and “for”, “father” and “bother”.

We will sometimes also add in letter to words, of all things we will sometimes add in an “r” into words where there is no “r” at all.  As though we’re saving up all those ‘r’s  from ‘car’ and putting them somewhere else.  Ms J (who is not from Boston) likes to make fun of the way I say “banana”, which I will add an “r” to at the end,  saying:  “ba-nan-err”.    And all of us Boston natives speak in a nasally drone. Think of the character ‘Cliff Claven’ from the old TV show “Cheers”, or more recently the actors Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg.

So, C and I will sit at the kitchen table and I will try to help him decipher which words have a short vowel sound and which have a long vowel sounds.  I will attempt to say these short second grade level  words the way they are supposed to be said, like “far”, “park”, “course”, “there”, “where” and I’ll usually end up getting the both of us confused.

I’ll be glad when this unit is finished in his class.

Here’s a pretty good example of what we talk like here from Seth Meyers.  It’s a parody of all the recent crime films set in Boston so there’s some violent scenes toward the end, just a warning.  Or as we say here “a wahnin”.


C’s school planned to have a “grammar costume day” on Halloween. So instead of coming to school in the costumes that they would be wearing later that night, the kids would come in as some form of speech.  For C’s class it was ‘adjective’.  That’s a nice idea, but now we have to come up with TWO costumes?

So I asked C which adjective he might want to go as, and he said that he’d rather not do it at all.  It wasn’t required was it? he’d ask.  No, it’s not required.  OK, let’s not do it, I’ll just be a vampire for Halloween night.

OK, great.  Only one costume to work on. The weekend before Halloween I didn’t think much about his costume, planning on getting it together Monday afternoon, once he came home from school.  We’ve always made his costumes ourselves, always at the last minute, so this was not unusual.  One year he wanted to be a tiger, so I took one of his old orange t-shirts covered it in  stripes of masking tape and spray painted the unmasked areas in black. Once the masking tape is pulled off, he had a orange and black striped shirt – there you go you’re a tiger.  One year he wanted to be a pirate – so I found a strip of red cloth, painted a skull on it,  cut out a piece of cardboard to look like a sword and painted it gray , wrapped the cloth around his head he’s a pirate with a sword.  One of the earliest was his request to be a robot.  That was easy, a cardboard box wrapped in aluminum foil, with a hole cut in it for a flashlight to poke out from the front, and added a few switches and dials from the pile of broken things in the basement to look like robot dials and buttons.  Cut a hole in the top for his head, holes on the sides for arms, and he’s a robot. So a vampire would be easy, take a black wool blanket wrap it around the shoulders and make some fangs.

Then Monday morning came and he asked me if he could go to school as “Stormy”.  This was at 8:30 in the morning.  We have to be at school by 8:45.  So we had ten minutes.  Uhhhh…. Ok, let’s see what we can do here…hhmmmm…. I said as the seconds ticked by.

We took that black wool blanket, wrapped it around his shoulders, pinned it on his shirt with several safety pins.  There you go, you’re a big black rain cloud!   This is what I said, trying to sound enthusiastic, while in my head I was thinking that this has got to be the worst costume I’ve ever come up with, but it’s all I can think of with ten minutes to go.

Then I drove him to school and started to see all of the elaborate costumes that the other kids had on.  There were a variety of adverbs, adjectives, nouns, conjunctions and prepositions.  One kid was dressed like a penguin, he was supposed to be “chilly”, one kid looked like a giant brain, he was supposed to be “erudite”.   So I was worried that he would feel a little left out since his costume could barely qualify as a costume.  All day I was worried that he would come out of school and be upset with the costume, but then again we only had ten minutes anyway.

Later that day, I go to pick him up from school.  All the kids come running out, very excited to plan their Trick or Treating night so they’re running around showing off their costumes to each other.  C comes out and says ‘Look at me I’m a storm!’ and runs across the field with his blanket flapping behind attached to his shoulders.  What a relief.

Later, while getting ready for a Halloween party, he says;  I want to be a dragon trainer!  Not a vampire?   No, a dragon trainer.   Once again, this is with about ten minutes to go before the party.

We took the black wool blanket, attached it to his shirt again, found a toy dragon and attached it to the blanket with some twine on his shoulder.  There you go, now you’re a dragon trainer.


Those are some giant CDs, Dada!

When I was about seven years old, my Hippie Cousin, much older than me, would play me his weird hippie music from the late 60’s.  Hippie Cousin would play me his Beatles records most often, since I probably liked them the most at the time. They’re a good choice for kids, on most of their songs they sing clearly and their songs are easy to understand and remember.  He would also try to get me to listen to the more experimental sounds of Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Caravan, and King Crimson.  All of those other bands just confused me when I was seven, just too weird for me at the time.

I have had an old record player in the basement for more than fifteen years, it’s probably not a good idea to store it down there since it can get damp and mildewy, and I thought it would be fun to show Mr. C some of my old records so I set it up recently.   I pulled out my boxes of records from a closet and played him some of the new wave hits of the 80’s that I still have on vinyl.  ‘Wow, those are huge CDs!” he said, when he saw 33-1/3 LP records for the first time.

It seems as though Mr. C is interested in making a transition from the music of Raffi and other children’s music artists, so I’ve been looking for things that he can listen to from my collection and I’m having the same problem that Hippie Cousin had.  Even though most of his records befuddled seven year old me, at least Hippie Cousin had Beatles records though. I don’t have anything by The Beatles, and I quickly realized that  I don’t really have much music that interests a seven year old.

My old records tend to be recordings by either angry political ranters, like The Clash or The Jam, “What’s he talking about, Dada?!”


Or songs that are too menacing or existential, like Magazine….

“This guy is just weird, Dada”


Maybe something more recent?    Will Oldham, maybe?   His songs are easy to understand, I thought.  No, this is not a good choice for Mr. C.  This could be the saddest song ever written.


How about something older?     Van Morrison comes close, Mr. C does like his “Caravan”, and “Woodstock”, but he mumbles a lot, so C just says ‘blah,blah,blah’ when he tries to sing along during the typical Morrison mumbling scat singing parts.  He does like the   “La, la, la, la,…La,la, LAAAAAH!” section of “Caravan”.

In between Will Oldham and Van Morrison I have Califone.  Much as I love this band, it won’t work for Mr. C, this guy mumbles even more than Van Morrison does.


Ah ha, here’s something, I thought.  In my desperation to find something of interest, I pulled out an old record that I had not played in many years.  However, I forgot that it is the number 1 ear worm song of all time.

Of course, now it is Mr. C’s favorite song and we listen to it ten times a day.  All hours of the day and night this song goes through my head now.   Make it stop, make it stop!!!     I shouldn’t complain, I did buy it when it came out.

Maybe I should buy a Beatles record.









Mr. C’s Favorite YouTube Channel

When I was a kid, I would watch Sesame Street, hoping to see a specific short film they would run fairly often.  This was way back in the early 1970’s, before VCR’s, and way before youTube.  So if you wanted to see a specific show on television, you had just the one chance to see it, when it was scheduled to air, and that was it.    In between the short animated films, and skits featuring the muppets, Sesame Street would sometimes include videos featuring people doing their jobs, such as farmers, bakers, doctors, policemen.  One of my favorites was one featuring a man who operated a car crusher at a garbage dump.  I’d watch the show hoping they would include that video, and would be disappointed if it was not included in that day’s show.    I will admit that I was actually more interested in seeing the cars being crushed than in the day to day activities of what the adult working world was like.   At seven years old, I really had no interest in the educational content of the short films, I just wanted to see old junk cars get crushed up.

I remember that I searched for that video a few years ago on YouTube, i did find it and shoed it to Mr. C.  I  can’t seem to find that specific film on YouTube now though, the closest I can get is this one, “Where The Garbage Goes”, which I do remember seeing as well. Not exactly the same as the car crusher, but it was at least in my top ten back when I was seven, and you can get the idea of what the typical film like this was like.


Now, through the magic of YouTube, Mr. C doesn’t have to wait to see his favorite short film to show up on a television show.  He can ask to see it, and there it is on the computer.

It’s ‘The Hydraulic Press Channel’, where a hydraulic press operator crushes various items in an industrial press. There’s no added educational content, no discussion of the physics or material science involved,  he just crushes things up in his press.

I think he’s from Finland, so his English is heavily accented and can be hard to understand at first.  This can often actually be helpful since he will sometimes let loose with a four letter word if an item is being especially stubborn in the press, his accent is so hard to understand on those curse words that Mr. C has not noticed that he is saying them.  Mr C. will often make suggestions of things he should crush; baseballs, watermelons, bananas, metal ball bearings. I will then do a search and just about all the time Mr. Hydraulic Press has already posted a video of the suggestion item.

I don’t know how we found this channel on YouTube, I think it was in a list of suggested videos. Maybe YouTube searched my history and came up with a similar video to that old car crusher video and thought that Mr. C would like it.



I’m now officially old

Well the dreaded day has finally arrived.

Here in the US, at a certain point in your life, you are sent a letter from the AARP asking if you want to join their organization.  That’s the American Association of Retired Persons.

This letter is sent nowhere near to when you are planning on retiring.   How the AARP is able to mail these offers out so accurately near to your big birthday is a mystery to me.  I happen to work in this type of database marketing, and I still don’t know how they do it.  Maybe I should have titled the blog ‘Old Dad’. IMG_7718

Oops, in the process of opening up their offer, my feeble old hands seem to have torn the envelope into a pile of unreadable garbage.


I’m sure they will send me another one in a few months, they don’t give up so easily.