Friday, March 22, 2013

Cackle Splat

Snowed all morning, The indoor playground was shut so...


Daughter: My favorite music is techno, because that's what kind of music Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is.

My son is three today. Which also marks a new phase in his life - The Poop Zone. He won't stop being absurdly rude. For example...

Son: Daddy is a poop!
Me: No, Owen. That's rude.
Son: You're a rude poop Daddy. I'll put you in timeout.
Me: Okay stop it. It isn't funny.
Son: ...Nipples...?

Sigh. Almost every conversation - especially ones he isn't involved in - are interrupted with him crowbarring the word, "poop" into it and then grinning like he's a just said something hilariously witty. A prime example being yesterday evening before bed I said, "well I think I'll have a cup of tea." to no-one in particular. He then sidled into those trivialities with his gurning face and said, "no - you mean a cup of poop!" By now though he can sense my complete disappointment (the death-stare gives it away) so he quickly follows it up with, "erm...I mean a cup of Daddy..." But quite honestly half the time he doesn't give a flying toss whether I tell him it's rude. 

Obviously I'd like him to follow my own example of employing rude words that are funny and clever. Ones that when used outside of the home are seen by the people around me as cool colloquialisms from my own country that mark me out as uniquely foreign and cool. But then he tends not to hear those. And at this stage of his life I've filtered my language to such degree that the naughty words I express slip entirely under the radar of a boy very much on the lookout to say and do things that are challenging the edges of acceptable behavior. This conditioning only slips up very occasionally - such as if I'm doing anything that involves a screw-gun or if something goes unexpectedly wrong (but then I repeat myself). But not just "oh dear" wrong - but in an absurd, moronic and Olympic way.

Take the day before yesterday, for example. I was working on something in the kitchen and figured
I'd bring the Shop Vac up from the basement to make cleaning easier and quicker. Initially I joked with my son that the hose was a suck-snake when it was in full- flow but then rethought the fact that I don't want that play-character repeated to anyone else anywhere ever. Then I joked with my daughter that it was so strong that I could likely suck the entire bottle of garlic powder into it from a foot away! At which point it sucked right across the counter into the end, somehow wriggled all the way up the corrugated pipe to the filter and then got stuck. And then the Shop Vac backed up and started spraying garlic powder all over the kitchen in a comedy fountain. I may have broken my no-naughty-word pledge at that point. But not loudly or with any passion. Given the unique nature of the circumstances it would have been said without any hint of vitriol and my kids certainly didn't behave at all like they heard it. Add I quickly began complaining about how garlic powder in your eyes and all over your chapped lips burns like a bastard.

But he is three now. He seemed to understand more when I told him yesterday his foot was three years old. And that before that it wasn't any age at all. I made some fleeting reference to the fact that when he gets older he'll understand how a statement like that will piss some people off. But that while very angry people rant until they're red in the face about that sort of statement that it's important to remember that while you might be able to argue about when life begins it's not a debate at all as to when age begins. In the same way that making jokes and disparaging remarks about Nazis isn't racist about Germans. Because it's important to remember that even though they wanted to be a race they weren't. Slightly deviated from the point there, but it's important to slip in important things like that I feel. But I tried to transmit that now he's an older man he has to start taking better care of himself. Maybe go on some runs with me. Do some weights. Take after his parents perhaps. Not the eating of kettle chips or mini-eggs part, obviously. But the working out bit. For example, I like running and do that as often as possible. And I've started using his mother's Cathy Freidrich ab workout DVD. Admittedly I've been using it as a coaster, but the details aren't important. 

In unrelated events today is the third day of Spring. Look - here's how you can tell.

It snowed a good three-to-six inches a few days ago after we'd gone a fortnight or so with nary a flutter. Which led to my daughter making those bloody great big snowballs in the back yard. And also to the dog sullying the joy of that by pissing all over the side of the one of them before it was hoisted up on top of another one.

Yesterday it guffed out enough snow to refill anything that had melted in the sun. It was also probably the coldest morning in a good while - ruining my self-created reality that a week of slightly warmer days where I could go running without a fleece on as well meant that the more painful parts of winter are over. Obviously that's nonsense.

Today though my daughter has a day off school. Not a snow day I(although it is currently snowing) but a randomly chosen Friday off meaning that her school was only actually open for half a Friday all month. So we'll be going to O-School at the indoor playground. She also really wants me to put batteries in the old keyboard (that would be this infamous Scream Reggae one) so she can listen to techno versions of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. As it's her brother's birthday we will likely do something to mark that - hopefully with their mother after she got home in the wee hours from her jaunt to Colorado. We did go out for the first hot dog of the year for dinner last night. Not me, obviously. I have standards. The minute you start allowing guff like hot dogs into your mouth you'll let all rational slip and before you know it you'll be drinking orange juice with the bits in it (you heathen freaks).

Speaking of bits my son needs to go to the toilet. Bah. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

View From A Tiny Mentalist: March 21, 2013

Time for a treat.

My son has been wandering about the house with the camera over the last week or so. Most of his shots are completely wrong. Not just blurry but not even of the thing he claims to have actually been taking photographs of. Amusingly his sister told him to not waste his time taking photos of things like the television or out the window. Which is precisely what she does - going so far as to turn the TV on or wait for a car to appear so she can take shots of it moving.

Anyway - he's been enjoying himself. The main negative is that he isn't very good at aim. But the more obstructive thing for this here though is that in trying to get him to explain what was going on I was met with quite a bit of resistance. Either because that was eating into his valuable train-shoving time. Or simply because he no longer has any idea why he took a photo. Mostly I was met with the response, "I don't know" when asking why he took it or what was going on. In the end though I got something out of him. Hope you like it.

This is, "the Ghost Hole". Lately he's been aggressively running his trains over it so that it makes that incredibly loud duh-duh-duh noise that can only mean something is being damaged. But incredibly slowly so that you don't notice for six months and then it becomes really apparent that it looks awful.

The weight of the camera means that when my son tries to point it and press the button that it aims toward the ground. Or you know - it's his style of photography. I'm sure if I told him he was doing it wrong he'd call me a square and mutter some such crap about how he's, "blurring the lines, man". But every now and again he'll take a photo and actually see in the image on the view finder that he's taken it too low. Then he'll make mention of the fact that he accidentally pointed too low. At least that's his excuse for constantly taking photos of his mother's chest. I'm not buying into that excuse personally.

My son initially explained that he was red because he was, "a pickle". Which makes no sense. He knows exactly what a pickle looks like considering if I left an unopened jar of either kosher dill or bread-and-butter pickles on the table he'd chug the entire thing like a rugby player or freshman college girl. Then he said (with a serious and mournful expression) that, "I was hurt". Trying to change the weird tone a little I suggested he was looking for another entrance to the Ghost Hole. And that I imagine it's like the portals in Time Bandits or the gateways in The Matrix that the Keymaker kept bursting through. I could tell by the, "you am a twart" look he gave me that this wasn't a good suggestion.

Here my son said that his sister was, "eating a pillow". He doesn't know why though.But again he did know that she shouldn't be doing it judging by the annoyed expression he had whilst relaying this.

And in a similar train of thought (you will not come across a finer pun all day long) my son said that, "this is Thomas eating the screen".I did point out that Thomas only eats coal. Then my son reminded me of a demented Australian Youtube video in which Thomas eats a meat pie, and I was made to look a complete fool. I couldn't find that one right now but this is the same hilarious voice in my sons favorite videos.

This photo disturbed me for a long time. I couldn't figure out what it was for a good few minutes. At first I kept wondering when my son had seemingly taken candid, blurry photos of topless women in the house. And then I made out the weird eye in the top left. My son says it's him. He claims he was trying to see his brain. But then I'm still disturbed by the Rorschach-style problem I've revealed in that when presented with a blurry close-up of a closed eye and nose I instantly thought, "I wonder who's tits those are?" 

Here's evidence of me cleaning. I'm showing this in case the living room still somehow is covered in the ridiculous hairballs that the dog malts every hour all over the place, even though I vacuum the floor all the time. Our floor is delightful - but with a white-haired dog and the plethora of grey hair that my wife sheds all over the place (snort) it is a bugger to keep looking shiny and nice. This is also evidence that while I think that shirt and vest look awesomely cool, I actually look like a fifty year old American man dressed to do DIY. But in that way that I'm not wearing clothes that have seen umpteen successfully completed projects  - but rather convey a man without any solid actual ability to do things without swearing A LOT. 

Here's the thing about this photo. My daughter had him take this photo. That means she posed for it. And - more importantly - you'll recall how he tends to aim lower than he's supposed to. So in what I dearly hope isn't a flash-forward to either of their prospective careers (especially the notion that siblings begin a home-made porn enterprise from both sides of the camera) I'm guessing she just thought it would be funny.Still - I was impressed it was in focus.

Again - considering his habit of accidentally shooting too low I can only presume he saw something really interesting about two feet above his sister's head. Although presciently when I asked what she was doing he replied, "telling me what to do". Too bloody right. Weirder the flash on the camera has made the paint on the walls look like custard. So now I really want cake and custard. I can take comfort at least that yellowing wallpaper hasn't instinctively triggered me to think, "are those someone's tits?" like the above photo did, though.

And lastly there's this. I'm again hoping that this is the last photo I see that my son has taken of a used sock next to a pile of reading material in which he mostly just looks at the pictures. Especially in this case because there's also a stapler in the picture. And it's all in my living room. I'm not an idiot and am terrified of the day my son starts progressing through the teenage stages of arseholery - complete with it's rampant swings in mood from miserable to hateful to awkwardly horny to convinced he's completely unique all the back to cripplingly miserable again. But I at least hope that he never sullies the innocent sanctity of my living room, one of his sister's socks or - heaven forfend - a pile of children's library books. Especially that one on top, which is actually about wasps. Although I am prepared to imagine there is a post-graduate student somewhere across the globe in an agricultural college who has just dallied with the idea that maybe the perfect thing to prevent wasp infestations is man-tapioca.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Snow Day

It's the first day of Spring.

So obviously we had a snow day yesterday. So to make the most of it we must have been outside for nearly three hours. During which time my daughter did her best Sisyphus impersonation and made these three enormous snowballs. The druids who made Stonehenge (the finest henge in all the world) didn't shove their massive lumps as far as my daughter rolled those things.

And today she should be off to school leaving me and her brother the chance to go do something fun before doing some work later. All the while their mother is making her way on a short-notice impromptu trip to Colorado. She left at 3.30am this morning. Hopefully she'll be back in the wee hours of Friday. But after checking her flights she may be victim to the disgrace that is air travel ticketing. That being you fork over $500 for a flight, the company takes your money and then just sells your seat to someone else and balls to you and inconvenience that causes you. Which would be okay (not really - but she always jumps at the chance of getting bumped) if she wasn't taking the last flight home.

Right - I apparently have to go on a practice Easter egg hunt....

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Joke Of The Day

She's a natural.

I was going to film my daughter making another of her serial-killer patterns with pennies that she likes to make. Her trick yesterday was to line the arms of the chair with them in complex, fractal shapes. Although I imagine that from a great height it would reveal the face of a woman trapped in a well somewhere, revealed to her in a feverish vision. Anyhoo - instead my expectations were confounded and from thence the humor arose.


Son:  Do you remember that Daddy?

I took my son to the Utica, NY train station yesterday. Last week when I took him to the one in Rome, NY he was giddy as a goat. The station in Utica is even more impressive. He thoroughly enjoyed himself even though - despite the timetable arguing otherwise - no trains appeared to be moving.

The stations in Rome and in Utica seem like they're trapped in time. It's like a snapshot of the early twentieth century - minus all the people. I think that's probably the key - nobody rides the trains and hasn't for many decades so there's been no gradual wearing-down of the places. Utica's station is even bigger than Rome's so felt even more empty. Beautiful building though.

My son liked it in there because it was really nice and warm. The Rome station was the same - all the way up the stairs to the platforms too. It's a bizarre situation really that these places are so nice aesthetically and whatnot but nobody goes there. It's no wonder AMTRAK are going tits up. When we walked into the Utica station I was quite pleased to see lots of people in one end milling about only to find out that the city of housed a DMV in there to make some good use of the main lobby. Actually all over the huge building the city have housed various public officials - the city Public Defender and Commisioner's Office are in there as well. I assume so that city taxes can be used to help maintain the place.

It was bitterly cold yesterday so standing about outside the building wasn't what I wanted to be doing - let alone my son. On top of that he wasn't in in any kind of mood for me to be taking photos of him. Mostly because that meant asking him to stand somewhere he'd never been in brutal wind while I wandered off. I did get this bad photo of him in lowlight next to an old steam engine they have parked up. That building in the background is the very back of the station in the photos above, so you can see that we've gone down the platform a little bit.

This is a redundant point to make I guess but the station isn't in a very nice neighborhood at all. But then you can pretty much make that point about anywhere in Utica. I can see why some people would love the place. But my word you'd have to have extenuating circumstances for doing so. Nevertheless there was an older woman walking the other side of that train and I asked if she'd take a photo of us. There were a few other blokes wandering about but my sexism told me that they all looked scary - especially the massive guy howling like Tom Waits and pushing a shopping cart of soiled couch cushions somewhere.

Anyhoo - I don't know whether you've been asked to take a photo for strangers at their request. I think I've probably asked someone maybe once or twice to do that. My son wanted to get back inside to the lovely warm building so instead of me faffing about I put on my disabling posh English accent and she took the photo below. She gave us a reassuring smile afterwards that she'd done a good job. My wife often talks about how many people have no idea how to take a photo. This is a good example of not getting any of the principles of a photo right.

We went back inside and my son spent twenty minutes running back and forth across the very nicely warmed foot-bridge.

And as a special treat after that I drove down to the Eastern European district of the city to a store that sells untold piles of weird smoked European meats and strange candy (a nice old-fashioned pick-n-mix as well) that you can't decipher what is inside at all.

So he got a bag of stuff that has pictures of lobsters on as an indicator of what's in it. And I have to figure out what to do with my huge smoked Sudzuka sausage.

But then that's been the rumor for years already. Right ladies....?

Monday, March 18, 2013


On Friday the principal of my daughter's school showed the kindergarten class that he was hiding coffee and bananas in a ceiling tile in his office.

 I still say the word, "banana" like an English person. And yet I've gone to the effort of pronouncing, "tomato" like an American. I'd decided to do that because I'm in a foreign land effectively speaking a foreign language. But more so because I thought it would be really weird if my kids (my in particular) grew up pronouncing it like an English person. I've willingly plowed in and pronounce, "basil" and, "oregano" and all that stuff in a North Atlantic American accent. But for some odd reason I've deliberately taken a stand with the word, "banana." Which is particularly odd because every single night when I put my daughter to bed the story I make up involves a banana (it's alright - don't panic).

You may or may not recall that each night I read her a book (or she reads it now - which is longer but nicer) and then - after the light is out - she says, "Daddy - tell me a story about when you were a little..." before making up a random thing that I have to be. But regardless of whether she picks a little cloud, a little sausage, a little icicle or a little bumcheek (her current favorite) I somehow surreptitiously insert the lovable character Bobby The Banana into the storyline. Which she now recognizes as a clever post-modern callback to a popular character from other stories, rather than a rehashing of old material just to fill up time while she slowly gets drowsier. And each and every single time I very cleverly bring up Bobby again I pronounce, "banana" in an English way. All of which has led me to think that perhaps I should work on scrubbing out the speaking-with-Americans accent that I've developed over the years. Especially as - much to my surprise - some people I chat with don't think I'm foreign at all now but just think I sound somewhat drunk, simple or am an Irish descendant.

Speaking of Irish I did mention the, "We're All Irish!" irritation of an American St. Patrick's Day over the weekend. And how pre-K and kindergarten kids are even taught that everyone should wear green, bang on about leprechauns and mispronounce it as, "St. Patty's Day" even though the correct Irish name Paddy is well-known to everyone already. Obviously my daughter enjoys it thoroughly (which in turn makes me really happy - especially the leprechaun shenanigans - causing me to be torn in two competing directions). All of which was topped off by the class "accidentally" paying a visit to the principal to let him know that leprechauns had not only left glitter and green footprints all over their classroom, but that they'd also somehow turned the toilet water green. So to put them at ease he let them know that he knew how to capture them. Which - bizarrely - involved baiting them into a trap made from some coffee and a banana. Which everyone knows are traditional Irish foodstuffs. Presumably once they nosh down on that they are so backed-up that they can't run off and can be gathered up, taken out the back of the school and killed. Actually I don't know what happens to them. Although I will find out.

Anyhoo - my daughter did make one of these -:

And - astonishingly - one of these. Which you'll notice has her, "Irish" name on it.

Lastly though I wanted to show you three pages of a book I got from the library. I sometimes consider myself to be ridiculously childish. But I defy anyone to read the three consecutive pages below to a five year old without feeling entirely wrong. May I recommend reading them out loud to someone else and I promise you will think you're reading very badly written mouse porn.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Not Quite Three

Before my son received the train he's been going on and on and on about for his birthday (not today - but the pre-birthday is today) we did a bit of this.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Custard And Jam

A few days ago my wife and I shared an intimate moment that triggered an old foul memory. And when I say intimate moment I mean she burst a revolting growth on my back and then told me I was disgusting. The shame of which reminded me of an old story I wanted to share. A story that involved an even bigger, fouler and more evil pus-filled monster.

"Are you ready?" asked my wife. "Because this is going to hurt."

"Sure - just do it as quickly as possible."

I realize that I hold a certain station amongst the online stay-at-home blogging community. I am not considered to be a beautiful man at first glance. But like a fine cheese or virulent yeast I grow on people with a powerful ferocity. Soon my aesthetic appeal begins to make sense and I hold a throbbing lust to some that causes them to think that any other human being is a deformed mutant in comparison (at this stage I ask you not to look at any photos on this blog of me and actually confirm that this is clearly not the case at all - let's try and maintain the illusion). To a select few I am the pinnacle of what they want in their mouth. So it pains me to temper that reputation with the below story. But here goes...

Not too long ago I felt a mild itch on the back of my leg. I reached down onto the back of my left leg - about an inch or so above the back of my knee - and found a huge welt. I managed to angle myself in front of a mirror and saw the monster. It was massive. It quickly dawned on me that it was either an absolutely massive sebaceous cyst, a pretty deep in-grown hair or one of the local squirrels had somehow buried an acorn in my leg without me noticing. The mild-itch suddenly changed into a warm, burning, ticklish feeling. The thing didn't quite have a head. But it felt like I could burst that bastard if I could get the angle of pressure just right. Quickly the warm, burning tickle became a white-hot stabbing in my leg. It was like it was daring me to pop it. And I was more than willing to. Years ago I had a pilonidal abcess that was so painful I honestly considered digging it out with a scalpel. Actually near the end I would have dug it out with absolutely anything I could have jammed into my skin. In the end a surgeon got it out and I spent weeks being visited by various home-nurses who removed and changed the padding in a seven-inch wound. 23 different people saw my naked bottom and it's accompanying grotesque wound due to that. But this was nothing like that.

I couldn't quite get a purchase on it. So I had to wait all afternoon long - unable to leave the thing alone for more than a minute at a time - until I picked my wife up from work. In the car I told her "I want you to have a look at something for me." She thought it was a gift I had at home. She certainly thought so when I plopped the kids down in front of the laptop (to play with this) and led her upstairs and rapidly dropped my trousers. "How big does this thing look?" I feebly said - and then confusingly pointed at the back of my leg. She gasped so loudly I thought the windows might implode as the pressure rapidly changed in the bedroom. It was a gasp that combined both a sense of revulsion but also equal parts adventure. She bent down on one knee to get a closer look. "That thing is massive!" she told me with just enough glee to let me know we were going to do this. Finally - I thought - we will get to use that safe-word we'd agreed upon.

I suggested possibly a wire coat hanger - things like this may require that sort of barbarism. She went and fetched a weird metal pole-thing that she bought at an Asian store in Ann Arbor years ago for removing blemishes. Next to the termite-hill in the back of my leg it quickly became obvious that this tiny Asian implement wasn't going to work. I told her it was just going to have to be a case of me having a good stab with the Very Pointy Tweezers (their official name in my house) until it was obvious I'd wounded the thing and she could begin pumping. I managed to get the blade of the tweezers in at a good angle and pierced the beast. It hurt like an absolute bastard. But there was also a slight sense of relief and mild pleasure as if I'd let a slow-leak in a completely over-bloated balloon. Then my wife crouched down behind me and asked me if I was ready. After confirming that she should just go for it she crushed her two thumbs into the sides of that massive acorn-mound as hard as she could.

I didn't hear it burst. But if I had to put a sound to it I'd say it would be quite a bit like stamping on a pastry bag filled with custard and jam. This is a good idea of what happened actually. My wife made extremely loud moans of horror as it began to ooze and gush. She then kept handing me brand new unused diaper cloths to, "clean the gunk out of it." And being her she kept remarking how disgusting it was - but in that way that you could hear the excitement that it was still revolting - while still wanting to have another bash at it to make sure she'd done as thorough a job as possible. The crushing that she'd given it had hurt so much that I instinctively wanted to fight her. It took quite a lot of willpower to not do that and I begged her to just let me grit through the pain and get the last vestiges of that crap out of it. That thing just kept weeping evil for a good two minutes. I swear you could have filled a very unpleasant cream cake with the foul discharge that belched out of my leg.

Afterwards my leg felt wonderful. Like I well used muscle. The area that we - the perfect team - burst has a warm sense of complete satisfaction. It didn't have a face but I could actually sense it smiling. Like this.

Friday Fizzle

Son: The rudeness!!

My son has started imitating me. But not in a complimentary way. I for one have never found him helpfully eating all the hazelnut chocolate in the house before anyone else finds it, purely so that no-one could be hospitalized from a nut allergy that suddenly develops. But then we can't all be heroes can we? Nor - thankfully - has he started copying some of my more offensive and socially unacceptable habits. Obviously I'm not going to mention those because I don't want anyone to know that I have a hair growing out of my nose that I like to gently twiddle so that it tickles pleasantly. Or how I pick beef jerky out of my molar teeth with tweezers. And I certainly don't want anyone to know about my record of how many quarters I can stuff inside [content removed to maintain the last shred of dignity I have]. No. Instead my son has started melodramatically yelling, "HOW DARE YOU!" like Brian Blessed when I ask him to do things. It can be anything. I can ask him if he wants to play a game, or if he's hungry or even if he could please stop jumping on me with his goat-like hooves. And then he'll bellow that at me. I've tried to get it on video but the little bugger gets camera shy.

That's not all that bad. And quite often afterwards he progresses on to the more absurd yelling of, "the rudeness!!" before running off. More embarrassing is that his current acting-out story obsessions is yelling, "MR. WORM HAS GOT ME!!!" while we're stood in the school corridor waiting to pick up his sister. Worse though is that he grabs my finger and tries to jam it into his ear/eye/down his shirt collar before yelling, "MR. WORM IS IN MY GHOST HOLE!!!" I try my best not to look either too uncomfortable or too completely comfortable with the situation when he does that.

My daughter has also taken to telling her birth story to people at school. As in other kids at school. Oddly she seems to think it's such a thrilling story that she's decided to make a book of the events for a few of the kids there so they can keep a copy of the memorable moment at home. Complete with drawings that she's doing as well - although hopefully not one of what was occurring when her mother was on her way down the stairs after she really kicked into labor overdrive. Luckily for her we have a self-made book of the event that she's basically lifting the story line from word for word.

This is her version of the inside cover page. Cracking likeness there.

When I asked her about it yesterday after school she also helpfully made the face she says that she was making when she was born. It's a real winner of a face.

Lastly though - as I'm sure you're all aware - today is Leprechaun Day. Which is just the massively racist way that St. Patrick's Day has been relabeled at my daughter's school. And although that isn't even today this is the last day of school before then - so my daughter was asked to wear green and keep an eye out for things being stolen. Which as we all know are the two main characteristics of the Irish. I've written before about how it's demented that the US has taken a foreign holiday and turned it into a surreal, prejudicial day of mentalness where the completely inaccurate idea that, "Everyone Is Irish Today!" is bleated around - so I won't do it again. Except to say that my daughter has already forewarned me that she suspects that there are leprechauns hiding in our house who are planning to trash the place. And what with her having a half-day at school I can't wait to find randomly dropped crap everywhere that my kids then blame on the Irish.

Although when I ask my son if he chucked those books on the floor I am hoping to video him camply wailing, "THE RUDENESS!!" at the suggestion.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Daughter: We had to hide in the bathroom in case the crook tried to steal us. But some people were too loud so the teacher made them hide in a cupboard.

At no point in my entire childhood did any school I was at have a YOU WILL ALL BE MASSACRED nuclear war drill. Ever. Because that's demented. It clearly has absolutely nothing to do with safety. And so we fastforward to today when the Cold War is over, I now live in the US with kids of my own and we can leave all that ridiculous bollocks behind. Except now there's another reason to scare the utter shit out of every kid at school.

Yesterday when I picked my daughter up she was clearly overly thoughtful. Then she told me what they'd done at school. I wish I could have taped the initial conversation because it was a lot more chilling and bizarre than the one below. Believe whatever you want about how the Second Amendment should be interpreted. But getting kids to hide in a cupboard and telling them to practice being quiet in case a kidnapper/gunman is in the classroom is fucking insane.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Japanese Death Train

So I was upstairs washing the toothpaste scum off the sink when I thought I could hear VERY loud Japanese hardcore metal. Which couldn't possibly be right because my son was downstairs watching Thomas The Tank Engine on Youtube. Specifically Thomas and The Stinky Cheese. And there's no way that there could be some weird link up between effeminate toy trains and screaming metal music. I mean seriously - that would be like playing death metal over My Little Pony videos.

Uh oh...

Look at his little face. It's almost as if he understands. Seriously though - skip to 2.30 of this and you'll get the full gist of it.

Wipe This Entry

Daughter: My poop today was a long as the word chart Daddy!

There's a boy in my daughter's class who got in trouble for gluing things to his face. Which is fair enough (not really, but you know what I mean) for a six year old. But the point is that the day that happened my daughter told me in the crowded school corridor when I was picking her up that this happened. As did a few other kids that came out with her to their own parents. Which basically means that fifty people heard about a child with a very distinctive name doing that. Worse is that the tend to hear on a daily basis hear about the transgressions of this one child in the class. Which paints such a narrow picture of a child based upon whatever he got into trouble for at school that day. Sadly which seems to be all the time. And not just the usual case of not behaving politely or being quiet. But random weird stuff - like throwing scissors. Or deciding they wanted to go on a school trip - so escaping from the classroom and hiding in the principal's office. In plain sight mind you - leading to the plan falling down immediately. All of which is a shame I guess because it must be extremely frustrating for everyone involved when a child just has absolutely no idea about rules and boundaries. But is even more so when the parent of aforementioned child is picking them up and we all watch their mostly nonplussed reaction as all the other kids say loudly remark in the hallway that, "[child's name] pulled their pants down and tried to sit on everyone."

Which is unpleasant. My appreciation for what kindergarten teachers are expected to hurdle has been raised after vicariously experiencing it. In particular the fact that this year appears to the one when most kids learn an independent habit of pooing (or IHOP for short). Obviously some have more success than others. So much so that there are two boys in my daughter's class who are famously renowned to all the other kids to be befoulers of the bathroom. Lots of the kids are learning how to wipe their worries away all on their own - with varying success. And often the teacher will have to come help. At the very least they have to monitor the bathroom for the Brown Nightmare that apparently occurs on a daily basis - particularly as a result of two famously named boys and their propensity to crap everywhere. So famous that if they are spotted approaching the bathroom everyone makes it their business to find out if it's for a Number One or a Number Two. Because if it's the second one it will mean that nobody else should approach that room until a HAZMAT team has been assembled. My daughter has - with wrinkled nose and clearly imitated look of revulsion - told me how if the one boy goes for a poo he will wipe himself but not flush it away. Instead he'll pile up his collection of fudge-paper on the floor, or shelf or just in the sink. And that another child seems to have the odd habit of missing the entire toilet. And the teacher - with everything else on their plate (for legal purposes I'm not trying to compare a poo-covered plate with the school lunch menus...) - has to go clean that up.

Most parents will talk about the strangeness of how dealing with all that stuff is okay because it's your child. But 20 other kids!? Every year for your entire career? No thanks. To my daughter's credit she has been able to tell me with confidence that she's only pood at school twice. Following in her father's footsteps there. Keep it at home, I say. Regardless the one apparently didn't require a story to be told. But the other one did. She told me in the car on the way home earlier this week that she had a poo at school. I asked if she needed any help and she said no. Then - with a burst of excitement - she said, "My poop today was a long as the word chart Daddy!" I was crestfallen. Not only had my daughter taken after her mother in creating apparently monstrous bottom-sausages, but she seemed to be taking a similar level of pride in doing so. I quickly asked if she felt a burning desire to show it off to everyone. She said she didn't - so I felt a glimmer of hope that she hadn't learned all of her mother's bathroom habits. Then she clarified that she meant that she went into the toilet when the class started a Word Chart exercise, and when she came out a few minutes later they were done. Which makes me much happier. Because the notion that my delicate little daughter could wind out a twenty-five-to-thirty inch bum banana fills me with sadness.

Also today I watched an elderly lady wrestle a hobby horse off her grandson because "it's a girl horse." We had gone to the indoor playground for what is likely our only visit there this week. The boy - clearly old enough to be in school and strangely loud and angry - had been smashing around with a toy car for fifteen minutes before spying the horse and figuring he'd have a go. The grandma genuinely rushed over to him - after he asked how to use it - and snatched it away. I had no idea that humans are only supposed to ride the same sex horse as them - even if it is a fictional one made out of wood and plastic. Sadly this seemed to spur the boy on to an idea to take whatever toy other kids were playing with. Clearly just to grin about that he'd taken it too - because he didn't play with anything he took. He took a plastic panda off a one year old girl and then carjacked his own younger sister. Then he nicked all the freight cars from the wooden railway my son was playing with. Then he did that forcefield-arms thing where he answered his grandmother that he was indeed sharing via sacrifice - because everyone else was allowed to play trains but not in the clearly smaller section that he had commandeered. Which just so happened to have all the trains in it. Grandma did that token thing of telling him that he best share or else - but nobody did anything and nobody changed their behavior. My son buggered off to hide in a tunnel with the big train that he drags around like a prosthetic limb every time we go to the playground.

Then he finished up by plowing about in the bouncy castle thing before we buggered off to buy olives and go home.

Right now he's trying out another new cold. Another constant flow out of his nostril. I should get to cleaning up. I have the treat of scrubbing the bath.

Life of glamor...

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Happiest Boy In The World

Oh yes.

Spent half an hour at the local train station. Saw a huge goods train rumble through. Then the actual train - one of only 3 each day that comes through - arrived. Much to the complete surprise of the person getting on it who remarked that it is always an hour late. Speaking of which - the number of people who got on the train? Two. Number who got off? Two. No wonder Amtrak is going down the toilet. Still - I picked up their brochure and their marketing still manages to convince you thatit's a great idea to jump on it and go up north to Montreal for a quick break. Even though the only things I've ever heard about cross-country trains in this country are tales of utter woe and fifteen hour sweatbox-prison cars to go a 3 hour journey.

Sod that though. My son thought the station - old fashioned, pleasantly warm and completely empty - was nice. And he loved the trains.

Monday On Tap

The sun is out.

Was actually a nice day yesterday. A nice day to round off an awesome weekend. How could it not be with a weekend that involved a trip to the Science Museum in Syracuse, a bloody good lunch out at a good restaurant (that for me involved Andouille sausage - I could have broken down on the the thru-way but having sausage of pretty much any kind would have made the day a plus) while a blues band played, a few good 7 mile runs, a nice splash about in the mud with my kids (they LOVED that) and discovering that Red Bridge gluten free beer is surprisingly good. We did a bunch of other stuff too and the weekend didn't feel rushed at all.

So with the sun out again my daughter decided to dress, "like a girl in Hawaii"for school today. Which is fine because it's always like an oven in that place. But outside it's all just wet, sloppy and muddy. So my job was to get her from the front door to the bus without getting mud cacked all over her. Her job before that - according to her - was to tap dance.

And I'm sure you can all applaud that I did get her to the bus without getting muddy. She did, however, stand in one of the astounding amounts of dog poo all over the driveway (no clue why but when it's deep with snow he insists on dropping his Minstrels where it's been plowed) and then somehow manage to step on my thigh. Which meant she was clean and my reservations for wearing khaki's on such a sloppy day were born out after just twenty minutes. Thankfully I got them changed before the nickname Shit-Pants Buckley gained any popularity.

Now - time to take my son to the train station so he can watch a real train chuff in and out.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Giant Coconut


I took my son to the indoor playgroudn near us yesterday. For a full half an hour he pretty much did this.

Yep - unsurprisingly he ignored the other two kids (one was a girl about 6 months older and the other one a boy around a year old) there completely and played with that honking big train you can see on the table there before just playing with the wooden train set they had. Then he randomly perked up when he heard the mother keep repeating my name - which just so happened to be the name of the baby she had with her. That sparked him into an immediate fantasy land where he grabbed the attention of the little girl there and screamed, "QUICK!! THE BABY IS GOING TO EAT US!!!" I should stress that he hadn't said much of anything to the girl, baby boy or their mother at this point. So him running over there, pointing at the drooling kid and airing that warning may have seemed a bit strange. But as kids are want to do the girl was entirely on the same wavelength and gave a good, "LORD HELP US ALL!!!" shriek. For the next hour she and my son would run right up to the baby, my son would yell something along the lines of, "Him going to get us!" before escaping to safety up the stairs of this two-level play firehouse.

Of course that wasn't the end of it all. Oh no. My son had apparently found his true calling here. Normally they would hide up there and shriek, "HE'S GOING TO EAT US!!" through those little plastic windows. Then the girl would athletically slide down the fireman's pole. My son absolutely would not let go of that massive plastic train so he'd make his way down the stairs. By the time he'd done that the baby boy would have ambled up to the steps. At which point my son would - with astounding volume and ferocity, may I add - stretch out the flat palm of his hand toward the boy's face and yell, "ICECUBE!!!" Then he and the girl would scramble back up the stairs and my son would triumphantly (seriously - he was quite pompous about it) declare that he'd used his super powers against the baby. Those super powers being (I feel we should review) -:

1 - Yelling, "icecube" at him.
2 - Climbing stairs.

That's it. Which is also how Dr. Who defeats the Daleks mind you (sans, "icecube" shrieking) - so why mess with a tried and tested method? I will try and ascertain though if he's freezing the baby or if he's just referencing his favorite member of N.W.A. They might be there again next week so if he starts barking, "they have the authority to kill a minority" then I think we can officially declare which one of those that is (FACT: I once watched two very drunk, very white, very ginger and very middle class - and seemingly very nice, by the way - engineering students rap that song in the middle of a conversation about how frisbee is bad-ass and that bagels are terrible without smoked salmon on them).

Anyhoo - we're off to the library in a bit. Tomorrow it's the Science Museum in Syracuse. But while I did the dishes and cleared up the general guff around the house my daughter made this for you. Right before which I showed her the train track I'd got for her brother's birthday that I've hidden upstairs. She then "tricked him" by telling him brazenly that we'd just been upstairs to, "look at Daddy's giant coconut."

Then she turned to me and gave me the, "yeah - we tricked the fool..." look.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Turd Toppler

I got him.

I've been wanting to catch this for ages. My son does this very odd thing when he needs to go to the bathroom. If he just needs a quick whizz then he's perfectly normal and civil about it. Bet if he needs to churn out some fudge then he always does the following. Not a clue why but I finally got the magic on camera.

Death Of A Librarian

Son: You are all making me sad.

On Tuesday I took my son to a story hour at our local library. It's aimed mostly at three-to-five year old kids getting acclimatised for pre-K - but very much open to everyone. My son being 3 in a fortnight has had a bash at this a few times before but spent the last time we tried barking at people (I think it was something to do with lebensraum, whatever that is...) to piss off. He didn't do that this time. But he was not pleased at all that all these people were interfering with his library visit. Which he well knows includes finding a Thomas The Tank Engine DVD to borrow, maybe another one for his sister (she watched along completely bewildered to Alice In Wonderland this week after he'd picked that one out) and then bombing around in the children's section downstairs picking out books and putting them in the bag on the other side of the room. It most certainly does not include two older women with a flipchart stood in front of twenty children reading a book about a dog covered in spots. So he sat and scowled as we all sang a song that had all the kids names in it. Then came a participatory game in which one kid covers their eyes and another kid hides a dog bone behind them and the first one has to guess who has it. The nice woman who read the first story asked my son if he wanted to hide the bone. At which point he said calmly and clearly, "you are all making me sad."

Not to be defeated by that I took on a visit to another library the one city over for another story hour. But this one promised finger puppets and was in an unfamiliar location so he couldn't make any sort of territorial claim against the other people. After we went in he started to give me the, "what's going on here then?" look. He was reeking of suspicion. Then as we casually strolled around the main part of the library he began to get irrate. Mostly because at first glance there didn't even appear to be a section for young kids. There was a normal section, a computer room and some cloyingly, depressing section for young adults (they should just rename it, "Books About Vampires And Sex" to be honest)
- but no obvious children's section. So I told him it was in the basement and we made our way down. On the way he cheered up after grabbing a Thomas DVD he hadn't ever seen before. But then he spied the telltale circle of chairs. And he knew then this was either a story hour or I was finally going to a support group for Men Who Abuse Mini Eggs (get that image out of your mind immediately). So I faked it as if we were sort of hanging around while this was going on. Ruined a little by talking to the woman running it and explaining that my son is an interesting cocktail of shy and grumpy at these things.

As she explained the ideal plan to just interject him ten minutes at a time over a few weeks and then leave while he's still relatively happy my son discovered the abomination. The library had no Thomas books. This is amazing mostly because it means my son had to look up the space Thomas would normally be in - either under the original author (Rev. Awdry), the letter T (this filing decision bothers me greatly) or the even more unusual decision of putting it under Britt Allcroft - who makes the television series. Either way he was absolutely bloody certain that these absurd people hadn't stocked up on Thomas. The fact that he was already holding a DVD didn't make a dent in that idea. I figured I'd swoop in and save the day and find a book - anything - and placate him. And then find myself saying, "well would you look at that - they don't have any!" I tried to make it sunny and breezy. Still - my son heard it as, "the people here all think Tomato Pie is the best breakfast ever - in spite of it clearly being the most foul, wretched, sorry excuse for food on earth." In short he gave an unimpressed, "these people don't know what they're doing..." grimace.

Then the lady tried to nicely ask him if he liked, "Thomas The Train". You could see the absolute contempt in his face. He might slightly hide behind my shoulder when he meets strangers. Right now he raised his eyebrow. Which I clearly understood as, "that's not even the right name. I'm surrounded by muppets..." Then he quietly told her to go away and told me, "I don't like all the teachers." He didn't put on a show or have a break down or anything like that. He was very methodical. But in a way that suggested he didn't want to alert all these people that it was seriously about to kick off because that would ruin the surprise when they realized he'd set the building on fire.

Consequently we left a few minutes later. Right after he had some sort of odd flashback to earlier in the week and complained, "Batman has to say sorry to me." Even the librarian understood that one. I tried not to look too shifty but frankly it didn't work. I think we marked our own cards there as the weird English people who showed up, got stereotypically huffy (in an old English villains in movies kind of way) and then apeared to start tripping on LSD. All in good fun though.

Next week he will be going back to his own library story hour and then trying this new one again. Obviously I'll search his pockets to ensure he hasn't smuggled any kindling or fire-starters into the place first. This morning though we are off to O-Skool. Which is what he has taken to solidly calling the indoor playground. He's already mentioned Batman again but I'm hoping he doesn't show. First though I had to shave. I started to look a bit too Mark Watson for my liking. And we wouldn't want to look silly now would we. My daughter would never take a photo of me looking a prize tit now, would she?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cookie Monster

After a few chores this morning (in and out of the house) we came home and made cookies. Basically a variation on the Tollhouse. Yeah that's right - I fooled with a classic. Breaking rules and conventions left and right in this house. Anyway - during the whole process my son kept repeating "I love you Daddy." He usually reserves that for his mother so I'm convinced he was just really chuffed at getting to lick the mixer paddle.

The Bullfighter

Son: The absorptivity \alpha_\lambda is the ratio of the energy absorbed by the wall to the energy incident on the wall, for a particular wavelength. This will be proportional to \alpha_\lambda E_{b \lambda}(\lambda,T) where E_{b \lambda}(\lambda,T) is the intensity of black body radiation at wavelength \lambda and temperature T.

My son made the bold suggestion yesterday that I should go back to work. But - and this is key - that he should stay home by himself. This was prompted by me saying that when his mother got out of work I was going for a run - so he'd have to go with her while his sister did a dance class thing that she loves. He has fun as well bombing his little trains around the play area - but said that he'd made his mind up that he was staying home with me instead. I repeated I was off out on that run ("I fully intend on eating the rest of these Mini Eggs - which means I need to do at least five miles so I don't feel terrible about buying another bag later this week and then eating all them as well...") and he looked at me like I'd missed the obvious. Which was that he'd stay home. After going through how you can't leave a nearly-three year old at home alone I made the ludicrous point that I could go back to work if that was the case. Which he liked a lot. "I'll play trains and eat moose juice." he proudly argued. I'm sure you can see the fundamental flaw in that argument. After asking him which moose he intended to milk to get this so-called moose juice he shrugged. So I asked him what Kirchoff's law of thermal radiation was and had that dreaded pang that he'd just start reciting formula and explaining it to me in such a way that it would suddenly be clear that I had no idea what it really was either.

Actually he has also made another unrelated bold pronouncement. That being that whatever color a truck is indicates what cargo is inside it. Hence whenever we see the UPS truck he yells "they're delivering chocolate!" Importantly we see it parked up outside people's houses - meaning my son thinks it's perfectly reasonable for chocolate to be delivered in bulk right to your door. There is a yellow truck that we tend to see parked outside the local gas station that he claims is delivering much-needed bananas to the community. Mind you he claimed the white trucks we see are responsible for delivering snow to the surrounding areas - suggesting his understanding of weather patterns is woefully inadequate.

On another track entirely - I've also suffered another one of those moments were I thought I was being rational but it makes no sense. That being I watched the first 20 minutes or so of Harry Potter: The Chamber Of Secrets with my daughter. During which time I marveled at the acting of Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman and Mark Williams. Whilst thinking that they were wonderful choices for the characters they were playing I suddenly had the strong pang of, "Yeah  - I think I want to go home...." Which seemed rational and like I'd been suppressing a truth for fear of admitting it. Then I realized I'd got that strong urge by watching a children's movie about witches.

Right - we're off to wait for the bus. So until I tidy up the thing I'd actually written for today you can watch this video of my daughter pretending to be a bull.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Considerably Cooler Than Yow

Daughter: No schools get money by getting all the kids to give them theirs. 

Before I say anything else I wanted to mention that on Friday I made the rookie mistake in telling my wife - who had just told me she thought her hair might just be closer to the side of crazy rather than sassy - that she looked like Helena Bonham Carter. Who I happen to think is delicious. My wife happens to think she's physically abhorrent. A reminder that compliments, even when sincerely intended, can be received as if you've spat in someone's face.

That comment above was my daughter's response to me explaining why their is a Gatorade display in her school cafeteria. I was explaining that schools make money by companies making contracts with them to sell their stuff. Vending machines and that sort of stuff, generally. But - for some reason in this case - a refrigerator that only has Gatorade in it. But after I finished explaining that she told me that no - school get money by getting the kids to give them all their money. I can't tell if that's a healthy dose of skepticism or a rallying unionist cry to support teachers. This being the US she's bound to fall on one side of that divide at some point.

Today I took my son to a nearby indoor playground. The three times we've been before he's played with the same little girl and another young boy who showed up. Actually that's not entirely true. The first time he vacuumed the entire place while his sister bossed the little girl around. But the last two times it's pretty much been my son and this much younger girl showing each other toys but not really actually playing together. I don't think I put this up before so here's a quick look-see at the inside from last week.

Today though we were there alone for 45 minutes before anyone else showed up. Add the place was an absolute state. I'm assuming there had been a party over the weekend. And by party I mean 150 ecstasy-fueled lunatics who tried to cover every surface with as many piles of toys as they could. The guy who works there was happily sitting at the front desk playing Angry Birds when we got there and seemed in no hurry whatsoever to clean up. My son managed to unearth a huge train - about the same size as his torso - from under the filth and set about running it around the place for three quarters of an hour.

At which time two independent families showed up. One was a little girl - around 3 or 4 years old - with her mother and presumably her mother's friend. The other was Batman. Before I get into that I wanted to mention that I know that a lot of parents take their kids to things so that not only their kids can have fun but also so that they can have a break. But the second the kids were in, their shoes were off and running around all three of the other adults stood glued to their smart phones (the now legendary photo of this parenting technique is here). Which isn't awful in itself. But it was really weird to hear the robotic, insincere, parroting of parental phrases offered up to their nearby kids that didn't involve them looking up at them at all. So the little girl would say, "look at me Mommy!" and the mother very much didn't - but did say, "Oh look at you! Yay!!" to her. The other two adults did much the same for the ten minutes that my son and I remained. Except their platitudes and, "yes honey!" remarks were more false for entirely other reasons.

This is because the child they brought was dressed from head to toe as Batman. He was also massively overweight. The sort of overweight where all boys of that age (presumably four-going-on-five or he'd be in school) look identical. I don't know how a child can overeat to that degree at that age and I'm certainly not judging the kid. The reason that it's important here is that the sheer size of him was quite intimidating to my son and the other little girl. More so because he was playing in character as Batman. Except a very loud, angry Batman. Who then proceeded to throw toys around like a deranged, drunken bear out of the top of that toy firehouse above. It was the sort of obviously not acceptable playing that even managed to snap the mother of the little girl out of her phone-induced haze and loudly ask her child if she was okay. By which she meant to make the point to the parent of Batman that he was being far too aggressive. Proven to be a completely valid concern when he burst the bouncy castle by jumping around in it in such a violent fashion that you'd be forgiven for thinking that somehow a local pony had somehow become trapped in there and was trying to get some sort of stable footing. Which was when my son and I left for fear of our own saftey. Seemed like a good time. My son had effectively taken to sitting next to me at this point with an judgmental furrow on his brow and was telling me that the boy had broken the rules. Add neither Batman or his parents seemed to give a toss at all.

Moving quickly on though - I have a strange dilemma. I mentioned to my daughter on Saturday morning the idea that something was, "cool". She's obviously heard the notion of coolness quite a lot by now. She asked me to explain what that actually means. I gave her some general description of what it means at which she just said, "so you might as well say it's just things that you like then...?" Which isn't it at all. I like all kinds of things that are most definitely not considered cool (oddly the first two things that I could think of are watching Jacques Pepin on PBS and how nice my nostrils feel after sniffing a Vick's VapoInhaler). That doesn't convey something imbued with an inherent sense of something astounding that makes you hair stand up. I thought of a few other things off the top of my head and Googled them. I thought of Miles Davis (Solea might be the coolest thing ever blown through a trumpet) and Lenny Bruce (again - this is achingly awesome and not at all like his standup). After rifling through a bunch of different musicians, comedians and random things I noticed that quite a lot of them had something in common - that being smoking. Not exactly the angle I was going for.

After a quick brain reboot I came up with a single iconic moment in my brain that I thought was undeniably cool. That being Indiana Jones doing this -:


But that devoid of any context is all kinds of wrong. A white, American man shoots an Arab on camera without any regard at all for the consequences - just so he can get on with running off with artifacts he's stolen from under the noses of other white people stripping the Third World of their treasures. I think it's safe to say that movie pitch (get the American to gun down the Arab hilariously!!) would result in a quick call to Homeland Security. Obviously I didn't show her that. I happen to think Indiana Jones is absurdly cool but that GIF could be about how cool imperialism, guns, chin-scars or waxing your chest is. None of which are cool at all. As an aside it took me a long time to realize that my considering Indiana Jones, Han Solo and Deckard from Blade Runner was actually a latent homo-erotic fancy I had for Harrison Ford.

After rethinking again weirdly what kept popping up in my brain was Belgium. Yeah - I know. But it makes perfect sense. Apart from the ridiculous amount of awesome music. Or the fact that Stephen Fry thinks it is the coolest place on earth (and thou shall not question Stephen Fry). Or that Stella Artois is Belgian. Nor is it the fact that surrealist wallpaper, Tin Tin or the strange quantity of chocolate/cream drenched waffle-filth cuisine all came from Belgium. And it certainly isn't the suspiciously popular mixing of stone-wash denim and lace. It's more that it sits between the pretentiously self-aware France and nervously apologetic Germany. It's almost invisible because of this. But to those in the know it mixes the best of both worlds, but with a humbleness and a healthy does of not giving a toss whether you like it or not as well. Which is another reason why Norway is the finest place on earth.

In the end I though settled on this Fantomas video. She's seen it before and absolutely understood what I meant. It made her feel instantly alive and desperate to dance. She felt in her bones that it's cool. Not only because it's something irreverent and that they genuinely don't care if it's popular or not. But that they just adore doing what they do (a pretty good indicator) and can do it really well and because it's at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Which is cooler than pretty much any other festival going. I later asked my wife and she essentially rounded back to the notion of not giving a flying fig about what other people think about what you're doing (after telling me how she heard an old NPR piece on how coolness was adapted into mainstream white culture by pilfering from other cultures). Which skirts dangerously close to vapid arrogance (without any actual merit for that arrogance) and people who spend a majority of their lives solely inside of sweatpants because they don't care. 

Kind of like a huge Batman bursting a bouncy castle.