after all, i’m dad

I guess the weekend seemed long.  We got a lot done… both social and around the homestead.  For that I’m thankful.

Saturday Keaton and I put up the Christmas lights outside.  We went all-out this year, using three separate circuits and illuminating the trees and bushes.  Well, I guess by today’s “all-out” standards for Christmas lights we’re still bush league – but it’s considerably more than we typically do.  Keaton, as usual, was a trooper and stayed outside with me the whole time.  I really do love the way she likes to help me “work,” it’s super endearing and makes me feel all big-time.  A week or so ago I overheard her telling a visiting friend, “You know, my dad built this whole house!”  How awesome is her faith in dad?  To her, why couldn’t I have single-handedly built the house?  After all, I’m dad.

It’s one of those night where I’m the king of the castle.  On my own with both kids while Sharaun’s off with girlfriends.  In fact, I had the kids “on my own” quite a bit this weekend, for one reason or another.  It’s nice, sometimes, to get a small taste of what Sharaun’s kid-centric days might be like.  I don’t know if I’m cut out for being Mr. Mom on a full-time basis, but I do like to tip my own hat to my reflection when I have a successful daddy-daycare weekend and am still able to get things done.  Sharaun would laugh, I bet, hearing how much of a triumph her everydays are to  me.

So anyway I’ve got the night to myself.  I’ve been in a strange music mood today, starting with a morning of blues from a Chess Records retrospective and then onto Tim Buckley in the afternoon.  Then, for whatever reason, I felt like some cool jams in the evening so I put on Todd Rundgren’s one-man show of Something/Anything? to give me those early 70s vibes.  What?  You’ve never heard Something/Anything?, oh man… get yourself to school you Philistine!  But I’m not kidding.  In real life you should hear this record before you die, especially if you weren’t around to hear it when it hit the scene in 1972.  Go ahead, Grooveshark has most of the tracks – even if they are out of the right running order.

I guess that’s it for tonight.  Goodnight.

as into it as i am cynical about it

Happy Wednesday internet.

I’m sitting here in the living room with this laptop on my lap.  Sharaun’s watching Glee but I’m not.  See, I’ve actually got a pair of headphones on and I’m listening to music.  Yes, this my be the definition of dysfunctional – but Picthfork’s review of Kanye’s new record came out this week and they gave it a perfect 10.0.  I saw it tonight and simply had to listen to the album again to see if, perhaps, I’ve been missing something.  Liking rap is such an uncharacteristic thing for me, I’m almost conflicted when I realize something is good (this is one of my musical weaknesses, like my knowledge of the 1950s or jazz).  I’ll figure it out; dig deep and decide if this is good, bad, or just OK.  A perfect ten?

Today at work I sat through the first day of a three-day intensive training.  We’re sequestered, no contact with work proper.  No e-mail, no cellphone, incommunicado.  This class is supposed to “strengthen” me.  For the first two hours I hated it.  Bloated Utopian concepts delivered in clichéd buzzwords; idealistic tripe requiring a suspension of reality to even discuss; supposed “shifts in thinking” which everyone knows would be buried under waves of reality when they meet the true corporate culture.  I was turned off and pessimistic after the first five minutes of this pep-talk crap.  After lunch I gave things another chance, figuring I had two and a half days left.  Maybe it’s because the afternoon was more rubber meeting road, or maybe it was all about my preconceptions – but I enjoyed things a lot more.  I don’t feel any stronger, though.

We took one of those pseudo-psychology self-defining tests, ala Myers-Briggs.  I tend to love those things, even if they reek of the kind of “they nailed me!” one-size-fits-all “revelations” common to horoscopes and other “well duh” self-help materials.  In the end it spit out five “top themes” for my strengths.  They use made-up corporate words like “ideation” and “empathy.”  It’s such a narcissistic exercise.  Me and all the other managers, reveling in our own strengths, basking in the glow of our own skills, patting ourselves on the back and giving each other under-the-table handjobs in kind.  I can’t believe how good I am!  How well I do these five things!  I’m the maestro of communication; I’m the the high-poobah of woo; I’m a triple black belt in “intellection.”

I’m almost as into it as I am cynical about it.



It’s 8 o’clock and Keaton and I are watching an episode of Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers.  Yes, that show from when we were kids.  I torrented the whole thing.  Been doing a lot of that, mainly nostalgia but also in response to how incredibly terrible most of the cartoons are today (yes, this coming from an adult – and one who won’t watch anything from Japan or with roots in a trading card game on principle).  She likes cartoons, so it’s an easy way to please us both.

At work I exist in a cubicle.  All day long I work in this little space about twice as big as the water closet in our master bathroom.  I never minded all that much, it’s been that way for ten years now.  Last week, however, while we were in Oregon, our site “decompressed.”  This means that our tiny cubes were expanded into bigger cubes.  I got to see my new decompressed cube for the first time today, and I was impressed.  No longer is my monitor facing directly out into the aisle, no longer does my chair risk hitting the back wall when I push-off from the keyboard, no more do I have to look into the rearview mirror on my monitor to see if someone’s lurking (yes, I really have a rearview mirror on my monitor for this purpose).

Before the decompression, I took an opportunity to “downsize” while packing up my stuff.  Got rid of a ton of crap I’ve collected over the years and ended up with three little boxes of stuff I took to the new cube.  I unpacked those today during a conference call and tried to make the place a little more hospitable.  But with all the new wall space it still looked sparse. That’s when I remembered a cardboard tube in our garage.  In that tube are all my old posters from highschool.  Beatles, Tolkien, Zeppelin, etc.  Now, I’m a little too grown up to pull out most of these… (and in fact don’t really know why I’ve saved them) but I did dig through to find the Beatles’ White Album portraits poster… because I have no shame hanging that.

So I’m the old dude with a Beatles poster in his cube.

better pinch yourself!

Today I am going to be indulgent and write about music.

Actually, reading my own entry I kind of hate myself.  What kind of pansy has enough time to get so analytical about a single song?  People really care about songs to a degree where they’d dissect them and ascribe meaning that’s probably not even there?  Yeah, well, I like to do that sometime.  I just don’t typically overcome the embarrassment and write it down.  Anyway, when words come out I hate to throw them away.

A while back I wrote about the seventeen minute track that caps the new Sufjan Stevens EP.  I loved it.  Today I’m going to write about the twenty-five minute epic that caps the new Sufjan Stevens album (what can I say, the guy’s prolific when he gets going, a long-player right after an almost album-length EP and all).  No, really it’s twenty -five minutes long.  The song, called “Impossible Soul,” is longer than some albums in their entirety.  I’d recommend queuing it up by going here and give it a critical listen whilst you read my interpretation.

This song is tough to swallow.

In the third movement, Steven’s loses his mind and has a full-on bed-intruder autotune breakdown. In it he robotically warbles about a “stupid man in the window” and some begging-to-be-deciphered stuff about how he “couldn’t be addressed.” I, in addition to some other armchair theorists, like to think that Sufjan is talking to God.  But I’m getting ahead of my theory: I’ve decided that the song is about how “impossible” Sufjan feels it must be to have a saved soul in the face of his earthly motivations, and that the track represents his struggle with God upon this realization.

Structurally, the song is split into musical/lyrical fifths.  Because it’s pretentious, I’m going to refer to these as “movements.”  Here are the lyrics.  Let’s get stupid about it.

  • The first movement is a struggle with human desire; a man crushed by a woman he loves, still pining pitifully for her.
  • In the second movement our narrator changes, and we’re now hearing the woman who was our subject in the prior section.  And in this movement the object of his desire reminds the diserer that this obsession is a mere distraction from more righteous pursuits.  Urges him to get over let go of his longing, to not “be distracted” by it, it’s not “worth all the work.”
  • Our narrator returns for the third movement and issues a gauntlets-down challenge to God, baiting Him to come down and get involved.  It’s the most abstract of the sections, and where I’ve made the biggest stretch in guessing intent.  I say the “man in the window” is God (maybe thinking of stained glass or something).
  • If you buy this crap so far, then I’d tell you that I think the fourth movement is God’s response to our narrator’s challenge.  His response is both fatherly and reassuring.
  • And, like Job’s response to his go-round with God, the fifth and final movement sees our singer wither from his previous hubris and humbled again before his creator.

In the end I feel it’s likely not a bad stab at it – much of Stevens’ output is steeped in Christian allegory. Anyway, because I like to think he’s talking to God, the song becomes that much more awesome. The bouncy denouement pronouncements of, “Boy, we can do much more together! Better get a life! Better give love! Better get it right! It’s not so impossible!” take on the air of a revival-tent pep-rally.

I’m almost not posting this crap.  Goodnight.

maybe i should invent a machine

Hi internet.  I took a break latter half of last week and I deserved it; did me well.

Sunday the weather turned cold and wet here in Northern California.  It was, by me, welcomed.  Even into last week we had temperatures in the 80s and it just didn’t feel like October.  When the rain came today it pushed a summer’s worth of dust and dirt down from the gutters, spitting out a foamy mess.  Maybe it’s the 100th time I’ve said this, but it’s always amazing to me how strongly things like weather and songs and smells can bring back memories.  Combine one or two or even three of those things and I swear you could create as immersive an alternate reality as is possible.  Maybe I should invent a machine.

I’ve started turning off work e-mail on the phone over the weekends.  This is my second weekend without.  I have to say it makes a dramatic difference.  Not reading that one thread which will start Monday morning’s rolling snowball of a complicated task means not dreading the coming of Monday morning; means not having to fight the pull to log on and dispatch a preemptive answer; means not getting sucked into a discourse and being derailed from time with family.  It may seem silly that I have to turn off the feature to get away… but when it’s on it’s just so easy and so right-there.  It’s hard to not look when the thing clicks at you, announcing a new thread about Q4 budget or receive-side adaptive equalization.

I’m sitting in the living room now, listening to this out-of-nowhere record Forget by some dude who calls himself Twin Shadow.  Egad is it good.  It’s like a guy was frozen in the 80s and woke up to  make a totally rad anachronism.  Even Sharaun is kinda jamming to it.



Days where you feel like you get no “wind-down” are the worst.

Where the callings of work end and the callings of the home begin and things don’t slow down until well after 9pm on the evening where your brain has to be “on” again for that 10pm meeting.  But it’s my 9pm now and I have an hour to wind down and write and listen to some music.  I chose the 1993 shoegaze anthem Souvlaki by Slowdive.  If you’ve not heard this album you’re really missing out (there are some songs on Grooveshark here).  Sometimes the sonic wash of bands like Slowdive or The Ecstasy of St. Theresa is just what the doctor ordered.

You people with three and four and five and more than five kids… you people amaze me.  Y’know when we had Keaton I wrote about (too lazy to look it up and link it) how I had to learn to be a lot less “selfish” upon her arrival.  Maybe four years was long enough for me to get ultimately settled into my more selfless, less me-time, routine… because with Cohen’s arrival I’m struggling again with time-slicing things to where I feel like I’m being a good daddy, a good husband, and have a spare minute here or there to listen to some music and write on the internet and read some websites (we’re talking weeknights here).  Maybe I’m thinking about things too discretely… or maybe I’m just as anal with my time as I am with everything else.

Lately I’ve been feeling like things just aren’t “settling down” at night.  Or, when they do, I’m too tired to eke more night out of what’s left.  I suppose this will pass as Cohen gets older and I get better at juggling and in general with time.  Or maybe not.  But man, you quiverfulls are to be admired.  Keep doing what you’re doing… someone has to.