Saturday, July 28, 2012

Seven Days

I'm off for seven days to a place with no Internets (apologies to anyone who excitedly anticipated the Seven Days title was a reference to Craig David - a man who clearly used an eyeliner pencil to draw on his facial hair). I realize in this day and age plenty of people have a modern phone with an umbilical connection to the online world - but not me. I'm gonna be off the grid, man.

Try not to break anything while I'm gone.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Snip

A couple of people asked if my daughter took any other videos lately. This is all I have at the moment. But we're off for a week in two days and I'll have her take loads.

The Rotten Chicken Wing

Me: Let's pretend to be dogs and bark.
Angry Chicken Wing Boy: Okay! Woof!
Me: Ha! You said Oeuf! Which is French for egg.

At the playground we go to is a boy who turns everything you say into "chicken wing." It starts off every single visit as him taunting anyone else at the playground with the challenge, "lat one up the slide is a rotten chicken wing." This quickly devolves into him just yelling, "CHICKEN WING!!" angrily at anyone near enough for him to pretend is actually trying to get up the slide before him. Which - incidentally - nobody is. A little while later he'll inevitably be pulled aside by his mother who tells him to calm down and just play nicely. Which he seems to try and do. Except his mentally unstable lust for deriding everyone around him as rotten chicken wings leads him to have a conversation like this (as he did with my daughter) -:

Boy: How old are you?
Daughter: I'm nearly five. It's my birthday next month.

Then he'll throw himself violently down a slide. Weirder is if he's at the bottom of the playground he'll take whatever is said in response to a question (and I really do mean anything) and reply sharply that it proves the other person is a rotten chicken wing - and then try and bolt up the nearest slide to win a race that nobody else is taking part in. Except he's not very good at it and/or other people are already playing. So he rarely ever actually wins. Most times he wont even make it up the slide - stumbling about like a mad horse before repeatedly sliding back down in his angry little face. What would be an embarrassing failed attempt for an older teenager to get up the slide will be observed almost nonplussed by the five and six year old's around him as he just gets both more and more worked up by his own failure, and more and more triumphant about being the winner of a one-man race. But because he's only six that sense of a sad, pathetic idiot is somewhat missing. It sort of reminds me of when we'd play football at lunchtime at school, and no matter what the actual score was when the bell rang everyone on both sides of the game would pompously boast about how they thrashed the other team. The specific part about turning anything any other kid said into a confession that they said chicken wing is the most bizarre part. Actually it reminds me a Lee and Herring sketch about Histor's Eye in which one of the birds changes every sentence to include an avian reference and the word egg.

What's best though is that usually when this boy arrives is at the start of a swimming lesson when another forty kids are all running around ignoring him. With that many kids around my son wants me to play with him.So I'm up on the playground equipment with him - sliding down the slides and climbing stuff. Ten minutes later when the majority of people have buggered off for a swim all that is usually left are this boy, his sister, my son and I and maybe a few other kids. My son will then play with his sister while the Chicken Wing boy has been made to sit in some sort of Timeout by his mother for - once again - descending into a tirade of angry proselytizing, but ultimately failing to do so and just descending to screaming at everyone around him. Periodically he'll be allowed to try playing calmly again - but you can see the rageful lust of mentioning chicken wings bubbling up beneath the surface. At which I'm ashamed to say that I'll be up on top of the twirly slide and I'll bet my son that I can get down to the bottom by climbing down before he can slide down. I'll call that game something like Chicken Chaser and I'll add the caveat that nobody is allowed to do anything like fly with their wings. I have even flat out copied entire catch phrases from Histor's Eye and said the above "Oeuf French for egg" comment just to be a knob. Two minutes later and that little boy always snaps again - usually yelling like the singer of a Japanese Djent band at absolutely no one as he repeatedly fails to climb up a slide because it's too slippery for him to get up. Then me and my kids go home.

Lastly yesterday I also witnessed something I'd only ever seen one time before. And that was a person (in this case - a fully grown woman) eating Ramen Noodle raw right out of the packet as if it were a candy bar. If you don;t know what that is think the shitty, dry noodle things (like Supernoodles in the UK if they still have those) that taste like toenails soaked in chemical powders. So these things -:

The only other time I saw this was at university when I was doing my MA in Buffalo, and a in the library was just crunching away on one like those weirdo's on naff reality shows who eat glass - entirely unaffected by the fact that what they're eating is inedible to most of the population. Obviously being me I immediately found myself somehow equating this scene as an indictment of the local cuisine. Then I instinctively extrapolated that into a larger narrative I dally with that tries to figure out why all US snack foods are corn syrup/sugar based (doughnuts, cakes, pastries, etc) but UK ones are savory (sausage rolls, pasties, scotch eggs, etc) - even though that particular theory is so laughably wrong. The next step in my process is to come to my senses and realize that back home we all eat the exact same shit, but try and make it seem more cosmopolitan up by calling it curry or kebab flavored. A prime example being -:

My mouth is crying just at the sight of that thing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

View From A Mentalist: July 25, 2012

I put my camera through the wash yesterday.

Yeah, I know. So in a twelve hour period my Mp3 player and my camera were destroyed by one of the God's of Water in there many forms. I actually had a goose about online to see which one I could curse for it - instead of pointing the finger squarely at myself. First up popped the Aztec God of Water, Chalchiuhtlatonal. Which ironically is the sound my entire family make when they inevitably choke on whatever drink they're having a stab at. Then I ended up reading about Tiamat - a Babylonian chaos God who is often depicted as some mentally unstable woman/serpent splashing about in the oceans trying to ruin everything. But then I figured if I tried to pin it on a specifically female God (mother of them all too, apparently) that I'd likely draw the ire of some twonk like Hannah Rosin - a narrowly focused writer so obsessed with her thin hypothetical view of masculine society that she even managed to write an entire article that stated that what really made her uncomfortable about the Aurora shootings was that some of the guys allegedly tried to protect their girlfriends - thereby impinging upon them some sort of forced patriarchy. I realized I should stop all this Water God silliness after I began to wonder what my next electroni device and water-based travesty would be - and figured I would either cry or urinate on something against my will until it broke. Then I Googled for images of, "God of Urine" and - after a brief sense of fear that I may actually end up being sent to my own blog - the images appeared and I realized I'd made a terrible error.

Anyway - this all forced me to pull out my daughter's camera. One because I now feel like I'm missing something by not having a camera on me, but also because I've just realized I'm going on vacation in three days for a week and would like a camera to take with us. So I found my little girl's camera in her room. It had been so out my own mind for so long that it took me a good hour to find it. Then I had to recharge the batteries. Then - what do you know - 140 photos are on it. Not all taken at once either. Evidently my daughter had been sporadically firing off shots (by the look of things only three or four at a time, in some cases) every now and again. There were also 14 videos on it - twelve of which were less than a second long. The one of them is 4 minutes long. No wonder the battery is flat. Weirder still is that it appears I and her mother (who amazingly appears to have been home when the sun was still out) even took some of them because she's in a few of them. I don't think she's learned how to mount and delay a shot yet. So I sat down this morning with her and flew through some of them in an old style View From A Mentalist-style way.

This is the first picture on her camera. Yes - it is her dragging her brother's head into shot by pulling his hair. I imagine he loved that. I would normally feel a sense of disappointment that she would lower herself to abusing her superior size and strength to get him to do something - but then I saw the following ten or so photos of him laughing his head off at her. Actually this photo reminded me that I know someone with a very young child that is just learning to talk. Out of all the words in the English language that it could choose from to verbalize the emotions and ideas that it had swirling around inside it, it picked, "help." That's not a good sign no matter how you look at it.

.I love this photo. And no - it isn't of Graham Linehan. I've actually convinced myself that my daughter has taken it upon herself to take photographic evidence of her younger brother spilling into the house early each morning still half-cut - reeking of gin and a kebab he spilled all over his own crotch. I say this because there are literally tens of these eyes-half-closed-and-gurning pictures in here. Don't believe me?

See. And as you can see he managed to get home from his Secret Midnight Bender (don't Google that...) on that Lego train which is in soft-focus behind him.

.This is a photo of my daughter looking at a photo book with her mother. It's a Family Album thing you make yourself (this one of 2008) on Snapfish into a hard-back photo book. They're pretty decent. I like the sense of sharing and time spent together that this photo conveys. The next forty-ish photos were jaunty out-of-focus shots of the inside of the photo book.

 Like this one. It's of my daughter eating her first thing at home. I say at home because earlier that day we'd been to a pub in Bath (I think) and my daughter spent the entire time eating an onion. Anyhoo - this photo interested me firstly because my daughter exclusively describes it as, "that was me as a little, wee baby." But mostly because I thought it was interesting that you can experience formative moments in your life but have absolutely no recollection of them at all. But then I remembered that I can't remember pretty much anything about my own growing up growing up and for a solid year at university.

.And here's my daughter as a farmer - probably fulfilling an innate dream of her mother's. I should point out that this is on a big cardboard farm that has a purple silo, a pink tractor and a cat bigger than a horse on it.

I told my daughter that I was impressed that she got a photo of me - as a little carrot - right before she ate me and pooed me out. If you don't know what I'm talking about you can either click that link to learn/remind yourself - or just assume that I haven't taken my Olanzapine this morning yet.

And to tie the whole thing together I promised my daughter I'd put this photo up she took of herself. She says she smiling because she's thinking about Angry Birds. At least she's not obsessed with Twilight or some other such nonsense I suppose.

This is her video of The World's Biggest Pumpkin. I have no idea why she is talking lie that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012



I got caught out in a thunderstorm yesterday. I was about three miles from my house when an ugly, black cloud that followed me (not the metaphorical one - a different one...)away from my house began to start flashing like it was somehow erupting. Then it started raining. And I mean hammering it down. Being in the middle of nowhere - and somewhat cooled down by the rain - I picked up the pace a little. Then the air started feeling very strange. One second it would be very cool only to change quickly to very hot. Everything felt charged too and I could feel the hairs all over my body standing on end.

That's when I noticed a guy on a motorcycle under a tree. Hmmmm. I had my headphones on so a lot of the noise around me was blocked out. It probably didn't help that at that very moment the third song on this Slayer album was chugging along ominously. It was raining so bloody hard that I couldn't really keep my eyes open and my ears were so wet the headphones wouldn't stay in. So I took them out and realized that the very impressive production techniques to that album were in fact the sounds of the sky falling in. The thunder was extremely loud and rumbling - but not particularly local. If you haven't experienced a North American storm then you may not get it. The general loudness of thunder is frighteningly loud. Your spine shakes when it growls seemingly everywhere. But there's a difference between the sound and feel of those bombs going off in the sky and the absolutely monstrous thunder-clap that smashes into the ground like God himself striking the earth. The first one is still scary and vibrates everything. The second one makes you want to hide in the basement.

At which point I made a choice. I could either head into a nearby horse racing track/casino or I could run flat out down the main road and see if I could beat the lightning home before it started twatting everything higher than the ground. I chose the second one figuring that if it really got bad then I'd hide under a bridge on the way home. Obviously I should point out that any plan that has the emergency caveat of "you can hide under bridge if you think you might die" is not a particularly well thought out one. But balls to it - I picked that one. About a mile later I was chugging along pretty hard when I heard that first strike. The roaring int he sky had changed now to include the booming of lightning hitting stuff that apparently annoyed the storm. It wasn't particularly close to me (relatively) but it was evident that the part of the storm that does that sort of thing was very much on it's way. And yes - I've spent many a moment in my house during storms watching and cowering as lightning violently smashed into the ground very close by. As in twenty feet away or so. My five and a half mile run now became a flat out sprint. I'm fairly certain that I never have and likely never will run a mile and a half that quickly ever again. Holy shit I absolutely tanked it home.

Then last night it just got louder and more cataclysmic. It must have been three of four hours of seemingly constant lightning and thunder directly around us. It was so bright the sky looked like a photograph's negative. I tried to watch it out the bedroom window but it was just too bright. My son slept through the whole thing though. My daughter spent the night up with her grandparents. If they had that storm (and they usually have many more than us) there's no way she slept.

Anyhoo - I'm off out to a county fair all day. So as a surprise/fob off you can have these old photos to gawk at.

Here's my daughter's first ever tantrum - this week 4 years ago. She'd never realized that you could actually say No to your parents before. And she'd never felt that overwhelming feeling of primal emotion before either. It overcame her so much that she ended up lying on the floor right where she was possessed by it for half an hour paralyzed by it all.

And this is her up a mountain (Cold Hill to be precise) in the Adirondacks.

And her a few days later, evidently after clubbing a friend's child into submission.


And just to point out now that July is almost over - it's coming. Snow deeper than your car.....


Monday, July 23, 2012

Spatter Gun

Here's the random pish that I've collected over the last week that didn't get blogged all over your happy little faces.

- On Friday whilst I lay prostrate on the grass, and my kids splashed about in their sandbox we all noticed that the Canada Geese started circling. It's July. Not only are the leaves already changing color, but the bloody trees are thundering headlong into Fall colors well before they should be. It's still rancidly humid. Presuming that animals really do know what is going in the world (I'm referring to cows lying down when it rains and that sort of thing - not because they read the New Yorker and listen to Weekend edition on NPR) I'm taking this as a sign of impending weather changes. In an effort to use my considerable influence on Mother Nature (like many women she is tempted by my masculine charms....) by forcibly wearing far too much clothing. At the end of last week and this morning I put on clothes that had legs and sleeves to them. Of course it's 93 degrees and like sitting in a pool of tepid custard outside right now. But I'm not taking this as a sign that Mother Nature doesn't fancy me. No - rather I think she just wants to see me skipping about in the backyard half naked. The dirty, little monkey.

- I should also note that on Friday my daughter brought outside a piece of bread and a fistful of soggy chocolate chips and placed them on on a huge tree stump in our back yard. The neighborhood squirrels have taken to gorging on the walnuts all over the place on top of her slide. So as a gesture of gentle persuasion she made them a walnut sandwich with a chocolate chip dessert. Which sounds sweet and nice but I then found her a few minutes later trying to soaking them in 40% Deet insect repellant because the chocolate was being swarmed by mosquitoes. That might not kill a squirrel - but it is the sort of flashback sequence employed in shit horror movies about how a small American town is enduring a massacre by a strange mutant beast.

- Being an election year Americans are arguing over absolutely everything at the moment. The most irritating thing that occurs out of this is that it always reverts to annoying stereotypes. Least of which is that there are two major distinct sides that come down squarely on a pro/anti basis that is so inanely untrue that it annoys the tits off me every time I encounter it. Oh, one party is influenced by billionaires unlike the other? Pull the other one. Still - this level of at-each-others'-throats nonsense is nothing compared to a near-apocalyptic ragefest that occurs whenever someone raises the, "what's the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?" question on an Expat website amongst Americans. Holy shit does that always end up poorly. I'm particularly partial to the conspiratorial people who chip in immediately with their contention that there is no difference at all. The only way to ease everyone's bloodlust during a flat-out screaming match liek the yam//sweet potato wars and unify all Americans as One Nation is for a British person to declare that hotdogs are fucking appalling things. Whilst I do admire the odd variety of wieners at the grocery store, most of them taste very much like what they're made out of. But stating the obvious fact that a pig-dick in a rancid bun made mostly out of wood-pulp is tantamount to cracking one out on the Stars and Stripes.

- There was a gay pride parade near me recently the same day as my birthday. I don't really care much about birthday stuff. I don't like the idea of people buying me stuff that I could have bought myself. Or for that making any kind of note that the day is allegedly any better or worse than the ones surrounding it. But a gay pride parade on the same day is a totally different matter. I considered having my family assembling a large wooden platform on the parade route. I would stand atop in Yul Brynner pants from The King and I - with my wife in a massive dress. As everybody minced past - both the general plebs supporting the notion of the day and the extravagantly dressed (or as tends to be on these occasions - extravagantly under-dressed) I - would yell "Head must not be higher than mine! A promise! Etcetera! Etcetera!" and, "You are very difficult woman!"

- In an effort to live a pure, hollistic life my kids and I spend as much time as possible in the back yard enjoying nothingness until the brutal humidity makes it feel like my gusset is crying. They don't let me do general yard work because it's too boring. But they will join in treasure hunts with absolute gusto. Which is a fancy way of describing me digging up things that may or not be the bodies of the neighbors kids while me kids play along side me. The end of last week and today are fine examples of this. The kids wanted to do something but not have me do anything constructive, so I thought, "....there's no one about - maybe I'll have a dig around and see what I come up with...?" I've been meaning to dig in one spot for three years but have never had really had a go at it. In the Spring I dug up a huge area and it was absolutely filled with bricks. It was almost un-diggable. This other spot is an area the size of two tennis courts that I already knew was much easier - with up to two foot in fine ash and kiln waste. My house is alleged to have been a cooperage in the mid-to-late 19th century before being a pretty decent sized brick and glass maker. I was skeptical about whether any of this was true based upon the other bollocks the neighbors had told me as well (orchards, meteorite strikes and a civil war battle come to mind). And because frankly kicking the ground in some places turned up any old shit the prior occupants couldn't be bothered to dispose of properly. Need I remind anyone of finding an engine block buried just below the surface of the driveway? Well....(all the blue/green glass is broken sadly) - 

- I was talking to a woman at a playground today who asked where I was from. The strange accent I had, the England football shirt and me calling my son a, "daft pillock" probably clued her in to my foreignness. I told her I was English and what not and we did the usual conversation pieces (the Queen, James Bond, British people sound so clever, what the fuck made you move from England to a miserable donkey's anus of a place like this?, etc) until she asked if I home much. I said no for a variety of reasons - most of which are logistical (flying with two kids for a solid 20 hours each way doesn't sound fun or cheap) and logical (I would obviously end up in Bristol which was the last place I lived - at which point I may refuse to leave). While I was probably looking mournful - and making the counter point that I'm also worried to go home in case I don't like it at all (thereby crushing all my supposed memories of how nice some things are) she offered that I probably don't go home due to the complete and total social collapse of Europe. Actually she said, "the Troubles there..." - but by saying, "Troubles" quietly as if she was confessing that someone tried to touch her bottom, but that saying it is rude. After I asked her what she meant she mentioned some vagueness about how on the news they're always showing riots, breadlines and poverty-riddled people completely delirious due to their situation. She even managed to mention "socialized medicine" as well. I didn't have it in me to point out we live in central NY state - hardly the Utopia depicted by Thomas More. I did manage, "nah - it's like here but with more jobs and better food." I thought that was somewhat pithy. She looked a tad confused but then offered, "so did you move here because of the war then?" Sadly I'll never get to find out what on earth she was on about because my son told me he needed a poo and we had to leave.

Piers Morgan Is A Twat

Me: Sorry honey. I'm afraid we can't do that (turn off Ross Noble and put on a kid's show).
Daughter: I'm not afraid of anything.
Me: That's not what I meant.
Daughter. Except caterpillars killing me in the dark.

My wife actually took some time off work this weekend and scooted the kids off to the in-laws house. I was supposed to go along as well. Lethargy and vomiting really are the least attractive couple - but they both appeared for me early Friday morning and seemed to persist through the morning on Saturday. Which was fortunate because on the Saturday was a birthday party at a Clam Shack up north. Call me skeptical but I'm thinking that u in the Adirondack mountains isn't going to be the ideal place for clams. I am deathly allergic to shellfish anyway so I was quite smug about the fact that I wasn't going to be going. Mostly because I would no doubt have been lumbered with baby sitting other people's kids. And as we all know - my beautiful children are a joy to be around. Your ugly mutants are fucking horrible. Anyhoo on the Sunday there was a bi-annual family reunion for people from all over the place (people even flying in from Chile) so I had to recuperate in an effort to make that.

Having dozed off in a wimp-haze after my wife's Jeep disappeared out the driveway I ended up realizing that without kids around I have NOTHING to do. Which is a bad thing. In normal circumstances I should get something useful done. In this case it was mostly sitting around and not doing anything that was the plan. I had intended do some valuable reading. But that's not really how my brain works. Five hours later - half of which I'd been asleep for - I'd spent an inordinate amount of time online looking into whether I can solve the world's hunger problems by milking whales. Not as in, "I wonder what people milk in countries where they don't have as many cows?" kind of way. But more a, "someone has to solve this..." kind of way. After 90 minutes of reading about milking, looking at pictures of people who enjoy wearing milk, and taking a detour into reading about how British people used to eat quite a lot of badger meat, I gave up. There's only so much milkiness you can swallow after watching one to many weird Japanese milk commercials. I ended up watching Ross Noble mince about on Youtube.

Not entirely sure why this is the case, but lately I've been experiencing a sharp case of d├ępaysement. Which is a wonderful French word that describes the feeling of being in another country. I'm having a tri-annual (it seems to be about that often) period of thinking about home. Not out of nostalgia really either. It's election year and I'm already sick to the hind-teeth of hearing the phrase, "working American families" that I'm beginning to accept the very clear other status that particular phrase implies. It's weird to constantly hear hopeful public figures trying to stir up passion amongst people by having everyone look collectively at people that aren't like them. Which in my little parochial area would be me. I've been feeling very much a foreigner lately. Which is particularly weird because my kids won't have that feeling at all. In fact I watched a few episodes of The Bubble and Argumental lately and my daughter confessed to not being able to understand a single word of what Sean Lock was saying.

My kids will never be exposed to Janet Street Porter, Keith Chegwin or Alan Titchmarsh. They won't feel a warm tingle of love at the sight and sound of Stephen Fry. They won't feel the gnawing anticipation of the upcoming football season. They won't get to see what true freedom of expression with regards politics is - by seeing people comfortably on network television shows like Newsnight, Have I Got New For You or Mock The Week calling elected officials insipid twunts who deserve to be pilloried. Or hearing an interviewee like Alexie Sayle or Mark Steel advocate that they are indeed socialists - and it not be followed by a collective gasp as some people cover their children's eyes as they escort them from the room. Instead they have to watch the mock-outrage that is customary in American politics at whichever manufactured controversy is currently spinning around. They will grow up thinking that elected officials are almost regal (especially the more senior you go) - and that mocking them is almost treasonous. Yet somehow they still have to endure human fuckstain Piers Morgan in the US. Without any help from me their exposure to my culture will be loud abrasive square-headed muppets like Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsey yelling at people. Or gushy brain-dead looks at the Royal Family - as if that somehow describes something about the UK at all. That makes me weep inside. 

Which is the place I was in early Saturday morning when - after staring incomprehensibly at Ross Noble Geordie-ing around on the laptop screen - my daughter asked me to turn it off. After which she revealed that she was afraid of killer ninja caterpillars that attack at night. Either she's been watching Slugs without my knowledge or she's overheard Michele Bachmann say something mental on NPR and pieced it together with my warnings about the furry white buggers in my back yard.

Anyhoo - time to go dig holes outside.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Wilting


It is somewhat ironic that I'm very aware there is no cheese in the house to go with the whining I've been doing all morning. My daughter wanted some. She even managed to ask when I was throwing up. Seemed wrong somehow.

In the end I gave up and lay on the grass outside so that nature itself could heal me (thanks David Suzuki) while the kids dug in the sandbox. Later we're all supposed to go up north for a secret party and a family reunion. I really REALLY don't want to go.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Man Without A Country

I have an affliction.

Because I feel like a man without a country I have adopted all sorts of odd accents that I instantly employ (almost without thinking) for particular situations I'm in. They're mostly based around where I've lived or whatnot. So being English from a RAF family (Welsh mother/Liverpudlian Dad) and moving a lot as a kid around the UK/Europe, and spending a large chunk of time in South Wales where peopel were more than willing to remind me I am not one of them, then transplanting to the US and then briefly back to Bristol in England - I've developed a strange elastic accent. It is never the same. Depends on mood, situation and who's there. Around my kids I'm very English in a way I'm not around most Americans (or even with my wife - whom rarely gets my English-with-the-kids voice because she thinks I'm putting it on). When I moved back to the UK nobody thought I was English - even though I thought I was just speaking in a clear, concise English voice. Most of the time here in central NY I'll use an easy mid-Atlantic thing to save me from the puzzled, "a foreigner is here - I should alert the authorities...." look I can get from people. It still sounds English enough for everyone to think instantly feel like I have a PhD and for them all to want to have sex with me obviously. Still, If I'm with my kids I tend not to bother with all that though - employing some odd multi-regional English that even includes cadence and enunciation from places I've never lived. The problem with all this chopping and changing is that not only do I have no country, but I don't even know what I really sound like anymore.

But all morning I've been watching Ask Rhod Gilbert (with very Welsh people like Lloyd Langford on it) on Youtube and my late 90s Swansea University welsh accent has returned so thick it's actually beginning to frighten my kids. My daughter genuinely asked me if I was okay.


I got that look today.

One from the cashier at the grocery store. It was a twofer as well! Equal parts of "oh you have custody today?" and, "nice nutritious breakfast loser." We'd slipped out early (just after 6am) for a few things. I picked up some Half & Half for myself. I also grabbed some chocolate chips for the version of GORP I make. I wanted to pick up some potato chips for the wife and kids but absolutely nothing was on sale except Cheetos. Which - considering the insane hours my wife has been working (went to work at 6am, got home at 2am) - seemed like the kind of absolute crap that would hit the spot for her when she needs to crash and pig out. Sadly the cashier at the store took one look at that collection of guff and used her overweight, minimum-wage lofty perch to judge us.It probably didn't help that my daughter was cradling the Cheetos like it was her security blanket. I imagine the cashier took the innocent scene before and managed to translate it into something like this.

Mind you the girl in that picture is far to alert and smiley to have been my daughter today. I'm sure you've figured out by now that once my daughter wakes up that usually she throws herself around like Bez from The Happy Mondays at a Man Man gig. But this week she's been so lethargic and morose that I even considered that she might have mono (good Lord that would be awful). She was so afflicted with it yesterday that after what seemed like a startling recovery in the morning we headed out to a playground. She played relatively normally for five minutes with some kids we see at her swimming class. Then she very suddenly started looking very very tired. At which point she lay down on the playground, told the girl she was with that she couldn't play any more as she was too tired and started crying. I had to carry her back to the car. She then lay on the couch and whimpered for four hours. She would randomly weakly cry out to me that she was unable to stop crying - but she didn't know why she was crying in the first place. Fast forward to this morning and what the cashier was presented with was a wild, half-dead looking child with tears in her eyes that have been present for a week now. Even though it was my daughter's idea to go out early for cereal (which we didn't get - I'm not paying $6 for any cereal that doesn't come with naked photos of Lisa Edelstein in it) the cashier no doubt assumed she'd been dragged out against her will. Maybe she hadn't even been to bed yet - forced to stay on guard while Dad plays with his two best friends - a paper bag and a can of spray paint.

Luckily my son isn't sick and is very much a morning person. So when he rumbled up to the cash register and started babbling and pointing at the big smiley sticker on the cashier's chest (a recurring theme as you can see) she didn't receive that as a friendly child being happy and warm. No - she paired it to the other "evidence" in front of her and likely assumed that he was just a foul-mouthed, sex-crazed little person like Marcus in Bad Santa. My son's energy this morning has been almost heroic. A quick synopsis of his morning-:

- Yelling cheerily at his mother and pointing at her breasts, "I WANT THOSE!" He's been weaned a while now so that had all kinds of odd undertones to it. Is he already hitting puberty? Oedipal? Is he doing that thing like the cat in Red Dwarf where he points at stuff that he claims as his own territory (better than pissing all over it frankly)? Or weirdest of all - is he stating out loud that he hopes when day to grow his own delightful breasts? That is an answer that will only be answered after many years and possibly some intensive surgery.

- Playing a game where he stands in the center of the living room screaming, "DUBADUBADUBADUBA!" until some undetermined time, when he then darts off to ride the dog like an unobliging getaway horse

- Running across the landing at such an alarming speed that he felt the need to close his eyes - and therefore ran head first into a wall. Not to worry though - he is immune from any physical pain before 7am and turned the entire experience into a new extreme sport. He then tried to coax his sister and I into a game of Oboe's Blindfolded Bash and Crash - only this time it involved running in any random direction with his eyes shut until something

- Doing this for at least an hour straight this morning.

The wife claims she's coming home early and everyone can nap with her. During which time I might intentionally go back to the store to pick up some brown paper lunch bags and a can of Raid. I'll even remember to be fidgety and tell the same cashier to hurry up as the kids have likely chewed through their ropes and strayed quite far from the motorbike by now.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Cucumber

Featuring a special guest....

I like how my son is so impressed that he's wearing a silly hat that he's in a trance for ages. Then - just for the briefest moment - you can just about make out him going mental. But not quite - I've never completely captured that on camera. But one day I will. Also, right at the end my daughter is trying to tell me, "Daddy, my head feels like it's bigger." Which means it is swelling from bouncing around. She then lay on the couch lightly whimpering for 20 minutes afterwards. Whatever illness she has gives her about 3 minutes of normalcy before crippling her for half an hour.

I Don't Know

I don't know.

Do you remember watching movies years back when a key factor of parenthood was supposed to be the endless Why? questions that a child asked? This was usually depicted like repetitive gunfire - with a child asking a seemingly endless series of banal questions about everything and anything of a parent. This was a painful thing because the parent simply didn't know and their intrinsic value and self esteem took a hit each time they revealed to a child (who assumed their parent knows all) asked them something. Finding out most of that information required effort and time as well.And in the depiction the parent would tell the child - who would then process that information and immediately return with a new question. Two people learning together with entirely different worldviews.

Then yesterday my sick daughter and I were sat on the couch watching Sid the Science Kid. The idea of which is that a curious boy has "just gotta know" the answer to certain questions he has about life. The weird thing about it though is that the time between him thinking of something and getting the answer is tiny. He is usually doing something that makes him come up with a question - and then he wanders into the kitchen to ask his parents about it. Who then instantly behave as if they have no clue, but check the internet. They then sort of get out of the way of the information that answers the question. In other words a 30 minute show is effectively over after 90 seconds. It then dawned on me that I haven't seen that portrayal of parenting above (the constant questions) for some time.

I started thinking about whether my own kids ask me stuff and how I answer it. And it's true - they never stop asking me questions. Everything from "what's that noise?" (pardon me, by the way.....), to the bizarre, "why does Owen think his own bum is so big Daddy?" to the inquisitive, "how does an airplane fly if it's so heavy?" to the icky and worrying, "Daddy, why is the rice in the garbage can moving?" So they do ask me questions all the time. Also my initial answers to questions tended to be honest. As in - if I didn't know then I would say so. And I was glad to realize too that I didn't just fob them off or just look it up online. I don't know why - but in most cases I didn't do that so it must not have seemed like the right thing to do. So in short - kids are obviously still asking and asking and asking - but the portrayal of this in popular culture has evolved from a parent not having the answers to now looking it all up on Wikipedia. Which has to mean something fundamental.

And then later on as I was farting about on Facebook and saw this.

Now the actual point or accuracy of that particular poster/flyer/meme isn't actually important here at all. Add that it's almost a guarantee that the one thing more irritating than an uninformed Christian blathering on about how gay-marriage is evil is an uninformed atheist blathering on about it with them. Believe whatever you want (and for the record - I'm very much pro gay-marriage). The thing that actually blew my mind about it were the comments after comment from people who (were technically adults) said, "who is that supposed to be?" That's a pretty iconic picture of a massively important historical figure. I would have guessed that most people in the UK would be able to recognize who that is. Outside of the UK numbers would go down yes. But still - I didn't expect to see the sheer number of people over the age of 18 who had no clue at all who he was.

All of which reminded me of an uncomfortable truth about my own children that I am going to have to wrestle with. I'm not unique - a lot of you already area and many many more people will. And that is that it is very possible that my kids are never going to experience what it is like to not know something. That might sound counter-intuitive after the above point about the meme, but it isn't. Because the hordes of people who didn't recognize Henry VIII didn't learn anything. They didn't experience a lack of information at all. Years ago when you didn't know something that was just how it was. You might wonder about something you didn't know - and to get that information required real work and time. You would feel the not-knowing inside you. It would be an empty space where a certain shaped piece of information needed to go to help put together a larger picture. You could ask untold numbers of other people if they know - and they wouldn't know either. Then you would all be filled with wonder. It didn't make anyone stupid because they didn't know that information. It just meant that they didn't know. And to find out something active had to be done to learn it. This is the very essence of learning.

That's not how it is anymore. The difference between not knowing and knowing doesn't require learning at all. It just requires retrieval. There's no wondering about something. There's no wrestling with the question of it or what it means. There's no feeling anything about not knowing whatever it is. There's no effort involved in getting the information. And you don't need to ask anyone else about it. There's no wonderment or curiosity at all. Instead there's just a brief moment between thinking about something and retrieving every piece of information available about that thing that has been typed into a computer ever. You now have all the information right there without learning or understanding any of it. A comparison would be effectively thinking a question about something in the early 1980s and instantly being placed in front of a university library section related to that question. It doesn't change the knowing by doing that. And worse - there's no need to look through the information - it's just there and someone else can pull out the very narrow, specific thing about it. That is a skill of some sort - but it isn't one which gets you to know something.

Weirder still is that the internet means that you can convince an awful lot of people quite quickly that you know something that you very much don't have a clue about. Which effectively has created an entirely new breed of people who have all the bravado and arrogance of someone who knows exactly what they're talking about, but that actually have no clue at all. And it's accentuated because the ability to get information is so easy that instead of being confident that they know their stuff, they now feel that they can know everything. So in essence not only is the curiosity gone (from the countless hours of not knowing something), and the actual learning itself gone (from the activity of getting the information in context) but also so is the need to retain any information - because it is technically always just one click away. Except things like that picture above. Most people don't know how to Google a picture. So what we've ended up with are smart-arse, loud-mouthed, arrogant wankers who behave like they know everything about a chosen subject (but don't), but who are also oddly public about how ignorant they are about EVERYTHING else. Because if they can't Google or Wiki it - it isn't valuable information on principle. So they don't care. Which is why it seems that so many people glory in the fact that they are completely ignorant of all the other stuff. Being intellectually incurious about specific things is a badge of honor for a lot of people these days. Which is why clearly stupid, incurious people who behave with an intellectual swagger they didn't earn are held up as geniuses by swathes of people. I need not mention modern political celebrities here....

What we have is the Powerpoint Principle. I may have mentioned this before. Everyone of us has been sat in a meeting when someone starts a Powerpoint presentation, and it becomes clear that they are going to read it word-for-word. Or that the presentation slides are all put together with different fonts, text sizes, paragraph alignments, colors and whatnot. It's visually jarring and painful - especially when they then read it word-for-word. Practically anyone can cobble together 20 slides on Powerpoint. It's so easy in fact that knowing how to do it properly, or learning how to give presentations is rendered completely unnecessary. This is what seems to have happened with how people know things. Because it's so easy to cobble together a group of loose facts, you don't really need to do it properly and understand it. So now we have a generation of aesthetically-obsessed, tech-savvy people that crave attention, but don't actually know anything.

This is horrible. Especially as it's been hitched to a very thick veneer of arrogant wankishness. All of us know very stupid people who think they know everything. Usually you work with them. They are easily the least impressive people you know as well. Absolutely nothing can be done to convince them that they don't. They live in a an entirely false world of no curiosity, no learning and no information retention. Instead it's just Googling, talking bollocks and then weirdly being arrogant about it. And more than anything they will never utter the words, "I don't know." There is all kinds of value in that statement. It doesn't convey stupidity at all. I just means that you don't know. And you can't learn anything until that is understood.

All of which is making me think I need to do something about my own kids and knowing/not knowing things. Ironically I don't know what that is. Which I'm taking as a good sign. Because my kids also don't know about that too. But I can foster a valuable tool in them that if they don't know then that's useful. Because that is an honest statement that ironically declares what it is you do know and what you need in order to learn more.

Right now though my daughter wants to know what it feels like to be encased in a duvet and beaten with a bean bag. Which I am able to answer for her.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Acorn Apocalypse

It's here.

You probably didn't expect to learn about that here. Probably on the news. Or - at a push - from your pastor. But honestly - it's all gone mental. I suggest grabbing a Bible from somewhere and having a quick peruse through Revelations and then playing Spot The Difference with what transpires.

Actually none of that is really true. But I figured I'd go off on a Glenn Beck-style mad-as-a-bag-of-shit conspiratorial bent. Mostly because it's so bloody hot and humid that we've all pretty much been awake since 2am whining about not being able to sleep due to the rancid humidity. I'd given up and come downstairs. Thirty minutes later my daughter was running around on the landing angrily telling her brother to leave her alone. He - as a two and a half year old - was so fixated on the Rules Of Nighttime (those being everyone should be asleep in bed, and as they aren't something terrible is going to happen) was chasing his sister around to try and coerce to get back into bed and go to sleep. Their mother then (somewhat justifiably I have to admit) then wanted to know why I was up at 2am for the third night straight. I tried to tell her that she'd been awake - but still rolling about irritated in bed - for the past two nights as well - but I was on to a loser there.

Frankly the repetitive lack of sleep married to the soul-sapping humidity has coupled together with a slowly creeping recidivism to leave my mental state frail and impressionable. I've been making poorly thought-out decisions. Like taking the kids through the back yard brush in bathing suits (and myself shirtless) with a metal pipe and a bucket to uncover blackberries and possibly confront a skunk. Which is okay (in some ways) except raspberry bushes are like a hybrid of tiny nettles and brambles. And it was so stinking hot and humid  - and the bugs so thick and irritated that it didn't matter how much bug spray we had on. More dense than that was an attempt to go for a long distance run yesterday at 6pm in 95 degree heat literally four hours after vomiting beef-water for the last time. That's never going to go well. The day prior I'd run like a demented, aggressive moose at 8pm in 80 degree heat and enjoyed it immensely. It greatly helps me level out and relax after a long day. But last night I only managed 4 miles at a rather labored pace because it was just so frikking soupy out.

But what better way to abuse any mental frailty than to piece together the odd events of the past few days and to weave some sort of conspiratorial End Of Days scenario? A solid start was that yesterday - after recovering from an aggressive beef-jerky pukeathon - I decided to head out with the kids in the car. At which point we were set upon by squirrels. Two of them pounced from a tree and landed on the hood of the car like the walnut-felching demons they clearly are. The one spied us and jumped down. The other ran on the roof before- and I'm not kidding here - sliding down the window on it's arse to taunt us with how completely non-frightened it was. Weirder was that it seemed to propel itself off the window just over halfway down with using it's feet - almost as if it had such exquisite (yes that's right - exquisite...) control of it's rectum that it uses it's anal sphincter as some sort of elastic jumping aid. Which all sounds far-fetched were it not for the fact that I did get a quick photo of the skid marks.

Clearly evidence of evil afoot. Glenn Beck would easily lay that at the feet of the Illuminati-controlled Muslim communists at ACORN - mostly through the blatant link of squirrels to an organization named after a tree nut. But not me. Because how would you also explain this sighting my wife and I had on Monday of a green bee. Although it might be a green wasp. There are already enough of these buggers about. I don't need more of them - secretly communicating some unknown plan to grow like the Borg and destroy all around them.

Don't try and tell me that is actually a different bug (edit: unless you know what it is obviously - I need the comfort of knowing there aren't green wasps banging about the place). Shortly after viewing this monstrosity my daughter started acting bizarrely. That has NEVER happened before. I didn't get much more than the evidence recorded here below. I didn't want to notify the squirrel overlords of the One World Government that I was on to them. But I did manage to hide behind a bush and take this photo of my daughter with her Thetan Bucket Thought Collector on her head.

Lastly and most telling was something we found at the Salvation Army. Right in between a chldren's Bible story about Daniel and a book about alligator eggs (a real niche children's author there...) was the below book. I know you could blame a careless store clerk or a customer for placing the book back in the wrong place. But Beck wouldn't allow you to believe that. No - he'd prove to you that the books content and placement was perfectly intended by militant enviro-jihadists and their gay agenda.

There you have it. A linear clear-as-day photographic trail of world revolution. So if I don't return later with an irreverent video of me and the kids sweating/dancing/blasting things with a hose then it's because They (you know - Them - the ones in charge of it all....) are on to us. Or because we're off out swimming, then to the dentist and the library.

Stay strong....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Beef Jerk


If you've ever had the thought, "....I think I might have food poisoning...?" then you didn't have it. Because you know when you have food poisoning. There's very little mystery about it. Which is how I spent some of my early morning. Evidently nobody else got it (my son had an insane crying fit prompted by nothing for ten minutes but is good as gold now) - and seeing as the only thing I ate a lot of and no-one else did was beef jerky I'm calling it the culprit. They all enjoyed (I use that generously here) Hot Dog Monday while I skipped dinner and went for a run - only to chug on beef jerky when I got back. So today early morning was spent wobbling about all frail and wimpy. Since 10ish I seemedot have stopped puking so took the kids outside to whack walnuts (steady on) and then went off to look for t-shirts for running in. I may feel crappy now - but come evening I'll be tanking and sweating around the countryside like a reliable Rhondda girl.

In the meantime you can enjoy my combined baseball/tennis walnut whacking game. We shall be spending much of the afternoon doing bugger all.

I Am The Daddy

Every day I get up and sincerely hope, "Maybe today is the day that I can wear pants again...."

Summer isn't all that long. But the humidity can be so brutal that wearing pants - let alone socks and shoes - leaves you in that frazzled state of being too-hot to function properly. So I inevitably put on shorts and a t-shirt. Which goes against my principles of decency completely. First off - any man wearing shorts looks like a five year old boy. Secondly - I like collars. No idea why but if I'm not wearing a collar I feel very scruffy. Almost naked. Which is why I'll put on a clerical collar when I'm showering. Anyhoo - yesterday the weatherman did the usual - claiming that in two days the weather would calm down with this constant, brutal humidity (hyperbole obviously - it's been about two and a half weeks really) and cool down. He will even claim that starting tomorrow it will drop three or four degrees. Then the next day this whole spiel will be forgotten as he gloats about accurately forecasting the 2 degree increase in temperatures. Then he'll try that whole, "in two days the constant, brutal humidity will calm down" bollocks. I don't know why I give him any credence seeing as the only other thing he ever mentions is the potential (statistically.....) impending death-storm that may strike us given the right conditions. He always neglects to mention that those conditions involve completely different geography, weather and, I suspect, nefarious intervention by the Weather Wizard

Speaking of clothing my daughter came to me a frustrated panic late yesterday afternoon. She had that wobble in her voice - as if she hadn't decided whether to capitulate to her emotions yet - but that pretty soon she wouldn't be able to make the choice herself. "Daddy - my bum cheeks are broken." You can't laugh at that. Actually that's completely untrue as I did immediately laugh. But I've developed a way of doing that which I can pass off as a facial twitch and/or an old-person fart-face. Needless to say that once I delved a little further into the situation she had put her underpants on backwards. That hadn't dawned on her at all. No - instead she automatically assumed that she'd been outside in her bathing suit and everything was normal. But then upon entering the house her buttocks became instantly deformed. Although to be fair it did remind me of 7 or 8 years prior when I stood in front of my wife claiming that somehow every single item of clothing I tried on had shrunk. Maybe the new laundry detergent was defective somehow It used to fit - but slowly over the past 3 or 4 months it seemed to be getting smaller and tighter. A complete mystery only solved at the moment by me postulating that eco-terrorists had sabotaged clothing soap to irritate the general populace by making the clothes all tiny.

Of course now I'm like a finely toned greyhound. I've also managed to calculate an algorithm that allows me to consume not solely Arsehole Fuel (4 apples - 8 cups of coffee before 2pm). I knew that complete lack of appetite was a temporary thing and that at some point ice cream and milkshakes would make it into my diet as I treat the kids i all this heat. Quite simply instead of running the minimum of 4 miles every morning I can use my lack of appetite to my advantage by not bothering with dinner (waste of time anyway) and run at least five and a half miles every evening at 8pm in the savage humidity. It won't sell as well as all those fashionable diets that were all the rage a few years ago. Especially as I still mostly don't have much of an appetite and it involves running a lot. But it has allowed me to stuff my fat face with the gift of beef jerky that I received recently and suck down large strawberry milkshakes with the kids content in the knowledge that the three of us will sweat out all this nastiness like a Gitmo torture-victim.

All of which makes me wonder why my daughter thinks I look like a plump, middle-aged woman. One who wears some sort of purple overalls as well.

 Not only that but I appear to be married to Swiss Toni. No idea how this all happened but when my daughter plays with these toys I'm always the purple lady and this is my husband.

Now you see why I have to put pants and a collar on again and firmly show that I am the Daddy of this household.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Two Kids, One Cup

And a confused dog.

This morningm y daughter taught my son to hold an empty cup over his mouth so it sounds like an echo - and then to yell, "I'm pooping in a cup!" Obviously I tried to get it on video. My son saw me hovering with a camera and seemed to realize it would be used as evidence at some point, so clammed up a little. My daughter knows no fear so went for it. This was the only one I got where my son didn't basically tell me to get lost. 

The dog gave me one of those, "oh nice work....." looks.

And cheers to Justine for the title.

Shiny Happy La La

I have a headache.

I don't get headaches. I recall being completely puzzled by the whole notion of them when I went off to university and melodramatic claims about the intensity of them came from all over the place. Since then obviously I've had plenty. And this morning I'm feeling slightly under the weather. Luckily the kids are feeling delightful. They must be - seeing as they've been up and bouncing around since 5.45am.Their mother got up early to get some extra hours in before work. Before she'd even left my kids were rolling about in the Big Big Bed (that's my bed) debating whether to make the effort to go back to sleep. My son was far more awake than I wanted him to be, and I was hoping my calm presence would be an inspiration. Instead he suddenly became amazed that I have armpit hair. So he started yelling to anyone who would listen that he'd found some secret hair. He certainly seemed convinced that I'd no prior knowledge of it. This prompted his sister to take a look as well. Who then concocted a game where her Teddy bear thought it was breakfast. After a few minutes of that the two of them started off on their daily salmon-wiggling body-slamming routine of jumping back and forth over me until it hurts too much. So I got up.

I then noticed I was groggy and my head hurt oddly. I don't drink so it's not a hangover. But the humid air and the dog barking at the morning walkers didn't feel good at all. Add my daughter was particularly eager to eat Peaches and Scream oatmeal this morning. Which as fun and interesting as it can sound some days, sounded a lot like this today. Time and place dear.

Oddly during breakfast my daughter joking asked for pizza. My son thought this was hysterical. So I told them people don't eat pizza for breakfast. Then I remembered where I am. Pizza a cake for breakfast is an American staple. Doughnuts galore obviously. And not the nice ones filled with fresh cream and fruit. No - the synthetic dough crap with the white stuff that isn't cream - and likely would never decompose if left outside to rot. And the breakfast pizza idea is one of those things I just can't get my head around. Just look at this greasy nastiness -

I'm all for eating yesterday's pizza in theory. Not actually these days what with not eating wheat flour anymore. But breakfast pizza combines the greasy, lurid pukefest of regular pizza with the slimy, greasy puddling, chemical nastiness of cheap breakfast sausage in one offering. "Cooked in the tangiest pig sweat syringed directly out of their fat-folds. Now with added sebum!!" There's nothing quite as repulsive as running into a gas station in the morning on the way to work and seeing people - not even smiling about it because they know what kind of a statement about their self-esteem they're making - buying a slice of this crap, and a soda for breakfast. But at least that isn't the vapid, pointlessness of Tomato Pie - which looks like a Time Of The Month open-faced sandwich.

It's morning's like this that I project my irritation and discomfort directly onto my kids - via a loathing of certain things that the US offers us that I don't like. I'm not even talking about perpetual war, glorifying autism (which is what it seems like) or steadfastly opposing universal healthcare and claiming that is a noble, Christian thing to do. I mean the little things. My kids are never going to think these things are nuts. Take the morning walkers. Granted walking for some is exercise of some sort. But they will never recoil in alarm when they go to a mall like I did the first time - only to find a militia of people walking slowly around and brazenly claiming it's exercise. It's not exercise - it's walking. Like normal people all over the world do. And it looks eerily similar to the zombie walk in Bristol they now have annually. Except much slower. I think I might be able to fob off any irritation at that if the people involved in it didn't dress up as if they were running a cross-country ultra-marathon. Or the fact that they reward themselves for walking up and down the mall twice by buying a 32 ounce Mountain Dew and a slice of pizza. I cannot articulate well enough how culturally stunted a place must be that walking in athletic clothing for 15 minutes can be considered worthy of the title of exercise. It's during moments like this I can only look at a place that is so overrun by corn syrup that they even put it in the fucking gasoline and wince. Oh please take me back to England with it's Gregg's sausage rolls and their guaranteed 17% meat - the rest evidently made up of those chewy bits that can only be verrucas and toenails.

Anyhoo - moan, whine, complain. Hopefully I'll feel cheerier later. Maybe if I pompously eat beef jerky and sip on my 4th cup of morning coffee I'll start getting sunnier inside. It's grey and threatening to rain outside. Which I hope it does on the one hand as we have had one flirtation with rain in about a month. But that would mean no swimming class for my daughter. It would allow my son the chance to watch his Thomas the Tank Engine DVD though. The one that I thought had a very camp Welshman narrating it - until I realized it was Pierce Brosnan. How the mighty have fallen.

More coffee.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Princess Bounce and The Eminemasaurus

It's hot.

Since 8.30 this morning we've been outside. We've been off to buy fruit and poked around a garage sale (very bad - mostly old tools that nobody would buy and not for the silly price they wanted) and then ponced about in the backyard. After 90 minutes or so of working and playing we tried some more Warheads sour Popsicles (bloody awful - so obviously my wife came home and tried one and declared them to be amazing). To fill the time up the kids and acted out a Captain Cheesestick adventure. It's been a good month since he last one. I thought it would grab their attention and it reinvigorated my daughter into staying out side for another hour until her mother got home. In this particular story Princess Bounce (a detective archaeologist in this story) and her sidekick Dr. Bonk discovered that under the potatoes in their vegetable garden lived a group of dinosaurs. Captain Cheesestick (that's me) is well known in these parts to be a great dinosaur naming expert. So they'd basically shovel up a pile of dirt (and maybe a potato - though sadly not many) and I'd name them.

"Ah - the Plopasaurus. Interesting one this. Spends it's entire day on the toilet..." I'd say. They would then laugh and dig for more. We got through these in a few minutes before the potatoes dried up. Some I won't explain because they're obvious, but some I will -:

The Bananasaurus (which is yellow, curvy and is Bobby the Banana's Great Great Great Great Grandad)
The Lickasaurus (he simply cannot stop licking people)
The Donkeysaurus
The Woofasaurus (a stubborn dinosaur that wont stop eating the bloody walnuts no matter how much it makes him desperately shit himself)
The Sniffasaurus
The Michael Knightasaurus (had one red glowing eye and was often suspiciously covered in puppies)
The Bumasaurus (massive, it was)
The Poopasaurus (my daughter offered that to my dissaproved gaze - and changed it quickly to Hugasaurus)
The Cheese (that's my son's offering....)
The Honkysaurus (my daughter thought it honked like a seal - but I suggested it was the white-cracker voice that Richard Pryor used in his act)
(and my favorite)
 Th Eminemasaurus (Thankfully not a foul-mouthed big-nosed homophobic dinosaur - but rather a dinosaur from Spain that looks just like my son - but that laid M&Ms all over the place. Which is how we get all the ones we eat today. It's not even food - and the people of Spain can't believe we actually eat them).

After that we splashed about and picked berries - what was left of them - for a bit. As it seemed to be getting hotter and more humid and the kids were all played out in the back yard we needed to go somewhere fun that wasn't horrifyingly hot. So the wife came up with slapping on creek-walking shoes and taking a stroll up the river.

After getting home from that it was still ridiculously hot and the kids seemed to be the wrong side of tired. Meaning that one where they are not going to sleep but should, so you need to get them to do something that will make them more tired so that at regular bedtime they'll go to bed really easily. I needed to get groceries and the wife needed bras. So stupidly I suggested a combined mall/grocery trip and off we went. Me and the kids zoomed off to get groceries while their mother put her boobs in things. I'm assuming she tried on bras too but frankly she could have been doing anything.

Obviously my wife had a good time. Shopping alone with a gift card? Always going to go well. I, on the other hand, had picked an atrocious store to buy food in and my daughter needed to go to the bathroom three times to poo. And as many Americans can attest to - going to the grocery store at 3.30 on a Saturday afternoon is probably the dumbest time to go. So the bathroom was busy. My daughter ended up three-times squashed into the little stall chutneying unpleasant sounding poos (not a clue what caused that - she'd eaten perfectly normally) into the toilet. Her mother would have beamed with proud then as her daughter whispered as loudly as possible, "EVERYONE CAN HEAR ME POOPING DADDY!" Which would have been true if my son wasn't gripping the dividing wall between the stalls as firmly as Silvester Stallone in Cliffhanger and yelling, "Hi!" at the guy in there. Who - ironically - looked quite a bit like John Lithgow exited his stall while we were washing hands and eagerly shot straight into the one we had been in. Which is the big red flag for a Creepiness Alert. Upon our immediate return (obviously decided upon when we are the part of the store absolutely furthest away from the toilet as possible) I checked the bathroom for tell-tale signs of creepiness - and was very glad that there weren't any obvious enough that someone like me (who's never witnessed that sort of thing in a public toilet) could identify it. Sadly I did quickly wonder if I could grab a Woods light from the electronics department to double check - but decided that it was a 50/50 chance that I'd find a pentagram on the stall-walls made from DNA and I'd rather live in ignorance.

After picking up all the food parts we met up with my wife to get faff like hair ties that I thought my daughter would enjoy picking out more with her mother.  I was evidently wrong about this because my daughter snottily rejected some her mother showed her as, "boring and dumb." Obviously that's not nice - and oddly out of character. So I grabbed my son and headed for the cash register to get out of the store. My daughter then proved that she's been reading this stupid blog by having a tantrum at the cash register. Yes - my daughter decided for the first time in her life to be a dick at the store. Her mother told her was time to go and they were off. I then endured those sympathetic looks from the other shoppers. Not that kind of sympathy either - the one that suggest they are really sorry that snotty little brat has to be raised by shit parents like us.

Very briefly at home I asked my daughter what is going on. She's been fantastic for almost 5 years. Then one weekend two weeks she turns into a world class arsehole at least once a day. She made some vague comment that we keep telling her she can't do things. In this case that she can't say unkind things or have hair ties. She suggested we do this all the time now and she should be allowed to do what she wants. Her attitude and the cadence in her voice made it sound almost conspiratorial. Frankly her being a full-blown whack-job would be easier to handle. I know people like that. I know people that think the Moon landings were fake, but that ironically that Capricorn One was filmed on the Moon just to take the piss. I even have a friend who is decent and logical in almost every area, but has sincerely confided when mildly inebriated that he thinks there is only one blackbird in the whole world and you just keep seeing the same one all the time (now that's proper mental). I've even been sat between two people who argued with sincere anger that speaking in tongues was either the Holy Spirit saying chants through real Christians (that cannot be understood by other not-real Christians - easily identified because tehy don't do it)), and alternately that speaking in tongues is the devil calling his demons to fill Christians with sin. Those kinds of odd conspiratorial ideas are easier to deal with in my opinion. The closet my daughter has come to that was rushing into the kitchen this morning while I was making coffee to claim that, "black holes make tormadoes Daddy - they don't think I know bu t I do." And yes - she does say, "tormadoes".

My son does this odd thing where he assigns ownership of something to someone. Nothing will ever shake the fact of this. So the grill is Mommies. And the lawnmower is mine. As is the weighing scale in the bedroom. If it isn't referred to using it's full designation (ie: Mommies' Grill) then he will correct you. For some odd reason this morning outside he kept calling everything mine. So he was playing in Daddies' Pool, then on Daddies' Slide before we dug for Daddies' Potatoes (get your mind out of the gutter - that is a perfectly activity). Evidently this annoyed my daughter enough to angrily yell a one point, "NO! Everything isn't Daddies!" Obviously my son growled at this point. The kids went back on forth growling for a few moments before I intervened to tell them that we aren't wolves. So my daughter went with the calmer, gentler tact of telling him with a customer service voice that, "Just so you know - the bathing suit is mine. So is that bike. And the carrots. I have my own clothes in my own room. Everything else is Mommies. Except Daddy has a coffee machine and a car." While I weighed up how a house I bought for cash with my own money was now just my wife's in her mind, my daughter remembered,"....and the skunk is Daddies." Oh good. When the her mother kicks me out me and the skunk can pick up some real quality ladies in Utica with some quality one-cup coffee options for them to sample.

Now - I have to consider weather running at 8pm in 90 degree heat, after putting the kids to bed and on Graduation Party night is a bad idea or not. Probably is which is probably why I will.