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nullToday, we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King. I know he had a dream, but did it include ice skating? When I heard some parents offer to take my kids ice skating today, I was surprised. Is this what his struggle was for? Perhaps so black and white children could skate together in one rink?

Maybe I’m over thinking this. But then I heard about a Hennesy advertising campaign “Mixed Drinks MLK Jr. Would Be Proud Of.” Hennesy goes on to say, Monday is Martin Luther King Day, a day used to commemorate the work of the Civil Rights activist. In the middle of winter, beaches and BBQ parties are impractical for the majority of the country that are given the day off. Check out these delicious Hennessy V.S specialty mixed drinks that are perfect for any indoor gathering to celebrate Dr. King’s life.. The new best way to honor Martin Luther King Jr. is with a cup of “Introspective Moment,” made from cigar-infused Hennessy, coffee, bitters, ginger beer, and a cherry.

What is the point of having a day off to honor Martin Luther King? I wonder if it would make more sense to not give children and adults the day off, but instead, use the time in school or in the work place to learn about the issues he cared about such as racism, and non-violence. If we can dedicate one day a year to give thanks on Thanksgiving; can’t we do the same to gather and learn about racism, non-violence, and how it impacts our lives today?
What do you think?

As I read the NY Times report about Amy Bishop the Harvard PhD accused of killing three colleagues at the University of Alabama in Huntsville,one part of the story stood out. It is the following,”  The Boston Globe reported that Dr. Bishop was charged with assault in 2002 after punching a woman in the head at an International House of Pancakes in Peabody, Mass. According to a police report, Dr. Bishop was angry that the woman had taken the last booster seat in the restaurant, which Dr. Bishop wanted for one of her children, The Globe said. It added that Dr. Bishop was sentenced to probation and that prosecutors recommended she take anger management classes, though it is not clear whether she did.” I’m not an authority on these matters, but I feel pretty certain she never made it to anger management class.

As I read about George W. Bush’s promises to balance the budget before he left office, I wondered if he was told by his dad or his brother to say what people want to hear. This is very unlike Obama who is not sugar coating the deficit mess we are in. He is saying it’s going to take time, let possibly 10 years time to get out of this mess. In 10 years I thought his daughter, Malia could start her political career. I think Sasha would be too young. I wondered if the Obama’s are going to be another political family, like the Kennedy’s, Bushes, or Clinton’s.

I don’t think Michelle wants to run. However if she was called to service, I think she would. I don’t know anything about his daughters, but certainly the world will be following them for the rest of their lives. Will they follow their father into politics or stay out of politics.  I hope they go for the dynasty. What do you think?

It;s 7:30am, I’m blowing past a string of green lights to get my kid to a 7:40am student council meeting. On the way, I stumble through a myriad of radio station, pausing to hear “Boston”  singing “Smokin” on  the classic rock station. My mind drifted back to parties where “Boston’s” first album was pounding out of  every woofer and tweeter in the house. “Boston” was legendary. Perhaps the greatest question about them was, “how come they don’t have more albums coming out.”

We were convinced they were the greatest band of our time-at least their first album seemed that way. I remember going to see Boston in concert. This girl’s dad was a Chicago cop, who worked the event at the Stadium. He somehow managed to get about 10 of us into the show.As a parent, I can only imagine what a nightmare it was to keep that promise to his little girl.But it  was a great night. The band sounded as good in person as they did on their album. In fact, some people suggested they were lip synching. For weeks after that, we boasted to anyone who came near us that we went to the “greates fricken concert ever.”

As I screeched into the school parking lot at 7:38, I wondered if kids today could listen to those long songs that Boston sang, or Electric Light Orchestra. You have to be patient or high to sit through some of those things. I don’t know what became of the legendary band. I keep waiting to hear their next album is finally coming out.

My family likes to laugh. So, at some point during the holidays, it is inevitable that we will talk about Saturday Night Live characters. It has been happening for years. But now with youtube, hulu, and instant ipod viewings, we not only describe the episode, we show it. After viewing many scenes, I have picked my favorite. It is the “I am your mother” sketch with Fred Armisten.  I think he consistently puts a fresh twist on his characters, and this time was no exception. It was so over the top, it was hilarious. What do you think?

I should have seen it coming. Over the weekend, my son received a kid size snuggie for his birthday. I never dreamed we would be victim to one. Having seen it and even tried it on, I can honestly say, it is worst than I imagined.

It is as ugly as advertised. Yes, everyone who wears one looks like a monk. But the annoying thing is that it doesn’t seal in the back. Picture an intrusive hospital gown made of blue fleece. Now imagine walking around with your backside uncovered and exposed. In fact, it reminds me of those annoying shoes that have the backs cut off, so you can just slip your fit in them. When I see crapt like that, I keep thinking, “just finish what you started.” I could probably tolerate it more if it was cut like a poncho. And did it occur to them to put a slit in the front so guys could go pee after sitting, watching tv, and drinking?

images (19)My family spent the day at a town carnival. Let me state up front, I hate those things. The rides freak me out. And I don’t know how they do it, but they always seem to find guys with missing or damaged teeth and tattoos to run the rides.

Fortunately, my sons are way into going on rides together. Even still, I came prepared with some malox tablets in case I got called into action. My boys are pretty daring, but today I learned there are limits.

Let’s put it this way, as I heard my sons get locked into the “zipper”-a cage like object that  flips and flops upwards, I had some doubts. But this is why God gave us “denial.” And then I heard the shouts from the sky, “get me out of here!!!!” Yes , those were my sons. images (20)

The carny reassured me he was bringing them down.(pause-who you may rightly ask-seeks parental “reassurance” from a carny.) He said, “the little one was a bit under height regs, but I planned to keep an eye on him.” And then he pointed out, “this rides been around for a long time, so long. In fact, I remember it from when I was kid…..I just never realized I’d be operating one of these things. “

As our kids came running into our arms, I knew what they were thinking…”WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU_HOW COULD YOU LET US GO UP IN THAT CAGE!!!” And that is when I knew, unlike many teachable moments, this was a therapy moment. One I imagine we’ll be hearing about for many years to come.

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The videos and DVD’s seem old and boring.  Every traffic jam seems like one too many. The empathy you felt for “that poor driver” on the way there suddenly turns into,”for crisake, get off the road!” And about now, the food goes downhill. You go to Bob Evans for the sausages and biscuits, start drinking serious quantities of Big Gulps from 7-11, and the fruit has to come from unnatural food sources; “sour apple, grape, and fruity” flavored gum, cereal and treats. And then its time for one more night at a motel.

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Not even the “cont’ breakfast can change your mood.. You feel forced to hear  loud truckers compare road tales. Despite swearing off excessive carbohydrates, you are forced to eat white bread, powdered donuts, Frosted Flakes, and drink coffee with Creamer packets. The place is so far down the motel totem pole, they don’t even have “waffle off.” Only then, do you realize how good you had it. The dining room is basically 10 card tables and some black chairs with minor rips and stuffing peeking out. You have to wonder if its even worth eating there and then its back on that long, long, long drive way.

EPKFBCAHB8R7DCA09N5KYCA6D9JUUCA6WAUKDCALX708LCAJVN9OCCAP600XCCAG2WHM2CAB2RY4YCAMHFE33CAZQ5XV1CAB35651CAG2IYGACA74XY3ICAD7SN5GCAU8R50DCAK5BN54CAT4IT9MEvery rest stop feels like a burden. You can’t even make one more joke about the bathroom key being attached to a hubcap.  And jus t when you are about to give up, you see home. At first, the house feels stuffy. A big pack of bills is waiting for you. The microwave lights are blinking because the power went out for awhile while you were away. The laundry sits in a mountainous pile. You take a hot shower. The air conditioning starts to kick in. You watch a show you’ve been missing and then………….. fall asleep……. during the best part.

ZTLRUCA4SH71UCA0KIRYMCA90KDRLCAZ4X2JXCAVIRMKJCAQ1YIONCABZU0JPCAR5W69PCA6X2BWSCAG2P44ACAHQUHEUCABB7R25CAM71WIACA1EUE8ECADD47S7CA6G8BGECAGLQX4BCA3AZQFLThe bags are packed. The DVDs and Cd’s have been collected . We will be leaving for summer vacation.  We will drive 19-20 hours with our 7 and  5year old boys. It will begin with tremendous optimism about the journey. The car will be spotless and have that fresh new car smell. We will  fill our stomachs with healthy snacks,bottled water, and  fruit.

But sooner than we expect, we’ll stop at a  highway Mc Donald’s. At first, we’ll stick to salads, fajita sandwiches, and happy meals. We’ll continue to be hopeful as we arrive at the U shaped halls of the Comfort Inn. We’ll adapt to the musty curtains, heavy floral print sheets, covers, and erratic air conditioning  because its our first night on the road. And as the the kids jump from bed to bed, I will complain about the room. My wife will then remind me  that we’ get a free breakfast in the morning.FY24DCATKK6VRCALFU3CDCAE26WO8CAT5NVVOCAJA8AOXCAKPZOQSCA60BHKTCA39P4CCCA70XZSXCA4VW79PCAE85XF2CALR17H9CALC2PSLCA7MGQOBCAJ3WOJLCA9S504XCAB69UQCCAEBVP6L And then all is good.

No doubt, we’ll be shocked to see how many people will be sharing our carbo loaded  “free” breakfast with us. The kids will be excited about the unhealthy cereal choices and doughnuts. And my wife and I will remark on this amazing product called, “waffle off.” While we’ve never seen it anywhere else in the world, we always find it at the Comfort Inn’.

What you may ask is “Waffle Off?” It is a spray used to clean off the waffle makers in between uses at the “Cont Breakfast,” (continental breakfast.) However  I’m still unclear as to which continent started this breakfast tradition.

S1247CA7N5N2DCAW8TNONCA162919CA3VSQ2SCAUL7V80CA382EL8CAIT3VO1CARNM5BICAEUQMU8CAMCCXS8CATDRGL2CA4QS26OCA2ATP2HCAQBOR0NCAZVNXQDCAZPOC1SCAHVLCGMCA0A21S5After filling up our tummy’s and the tank, we’ll continue our journey until one of the boys shouts, “why we aren’t at Grandma’s house yet?”

imagesIt’s late, my 5 year old should be in bed. But he came charging into our room, jumped on the bed and asked, “why did God make under ware?” I love that he asked that. My older son once asked, “does God have to brush his teeth?”

I can’t believe I have one of those kids I’m used to seeing on TV shows. The ones where they point out that kids say the darnedest things. He’s the kid that lets me know if “Mr. Nobody” has joined us for a meal. images (1)

For someone who is used to being the cynical observer of life, its humbling to have such a cute kid. He often gets this very serious look, and then says,”dad, dad, I have to tell you something you don’t know.” I think I now understand why you want some kids to stay kids as long as they can.

And by the way, why did God create under ware?

This is a great time to be a parent. Primarily because there is so much great music for kids. When we were dating, my wife and I used to make music tapes for each other, now our kids make them for others. In fact, I was inspired to write this while listening to a CD my youngest son wanted to make for his camp counselor.  So please allow me to share some fun music for kids and their parents.

1. MaMa Be Right Back, by the Doo Dads

2. The Other Day I met a Bear, by Bare Naked Ladies.

3. Bedhead, The Jimmies

4. D is for Drums, They Might Be Giants

5. Nicky Nicky Knock Knock, The Dream Band Jam

6. Alphabutt, Kimya Dawson

7.Yellow Bus, Justin Roberts

8. Jump, Jive, an Wail, Louie Prima

9. The Name Game, Taj Mahal

10. Sugar High, I can do it by myself

WHVKOCA3BAS5WCAR7DLS5CABZ94ECCAW3KJSDCA0XW6Z8CA09XTFZCAWAJISMCAHX0THACAJRZZSGCAW8PTY1CA7WNJOKCAIMVVJ4CAYO3X5ZCAAAFOX9CAB1KXY2CAXXWSIRCA3S7YVYCABWDZMDSummertime in Chicago means Michigan Avenue is  congested with families visiting the city. Unfortunately, most of these families only get to see a very small fragment of the city. Sure they see the “bean,” Art Institute, and shop at the “American Girl” store in Water Tower Place, but Chicago is very much about the neighborhoods and hidden gems within them. Since I love this city, I ‘d lke to share a few off the tourist path places to visit.

If you have kids, especially boys from about 5 to fully grown, then take the L train to Belmont and walk West to “Uncle Fun.” When I am struggling for something to do, I will take my sons there. They will carefully examine the fart pen, fake vomit, rattlesnake eggs, enormous sunglasses, and of course the giant Elvis pez holder. You will find all the gags you can’t find anywhere else. For example, do you know how hard it is to find a squirting nickle? It’s hard to leave there without a few stocking stuffers, like “dr. fart.”www.unclefunchicago.com

JK31XCAUGGUAMCAD7D0NECASSPHSGCAPDGIAUCAM5PKV6CAG8S2DOCAPJYIB9CAWZ6KR5CAPGUSGZCA0OHPBLCAU395QDCA9JE45TCAC1MIZ8CAPWELSOCA0488UNCACSVP2TCAFFTIWQCAF4ETSPWhat is a vacation without sweets? Since it is unlikely you’ll find great bakeries in the Loop; take a train, bus or cab to Andersonville, and go to the Sweedish Bakery. The samples are reason enough to stay, but the cookies and cakes will keep you coming back. The place is always bustling with people studying the goodies, and the personnel take care of you  until every box is tied and sealed.

IS0YMCA4BNY3KCAAVLL2TCAG2KOQXCALD6D4PCASH32ADCA1L08UJCAO1JT81CAWAM0U5CARLWPPDCA1IE0FWCAYUQ20JCAH8V2OOCAIJNROHCAL5GXDJCALE0F9ZCAOSZN3ICAPLGMZ9CAYC0TBHLastly, why bother with another cup of Starbucks or Caribou coffee when you can have Metropolis coffee. It is easily accesible by train,bus, or ride the bike path North.  Metropolis has consistantly been labeled the best coffee in Chicago. They make their own coffee  on site on Granville Avenue. If however you are doubtful about leaving the Mag mile, at least ask the coffee shop if they serve Metropolis brand coffee.

So when in Chicago, do as the locals do and avoid downtown or Lincoln Park.

images (95)This summer, I have on more than one occasion, been struck by the increasing number of mosaics in Chicago and neighboring suburbs. It is a wonderful way to turn ordinary concrete structures into colorful images to interact with.

While riding the bus, I noticed children putting one together under a viaduct. Walking home with my son, I saw some concrete pillars, with small pieces of glass, stone, and colorful gems settling in front of a public school. In fact, most elementary schools I’ve passed, have created mosaics. images (94)

While I don’t know how it started,  I do prefer the mosaics to the grand community art projects, which often included graffiti drawings and larger than life images. Is this happening anywhere else in the world or is it just in Chicago?

IVW2MCA4KC21WCAQLOLHOCA0W26ULCASCW733CAX4ME20CAUW249ACASJHCV5CALKJKPFCAG21NDLCA08YL91CAV6Q4NMCAM4CS28CA6BJKFRCAGTRLJTCAVKAMKDCA7P4T9ZCAXDCN50CA0QS87B3I1D4CAPW2RMICA65FJH3CA12FKZXCAF7CYT8CA3NNX67CAMXL7N6CAOOW7ULCAJ03Z12CA41W1N4CAHY8XZKCAM34N7VCANDBGY3CAWVDQ04CA3VYEX7CAT8KKKWCAJXOB9FCA17CPM8CARJNG3UAs I’m about to enter the L train tunnel at Fullerton, I put on my Ipod and hit shuffle. Within seconds, I hear James Taylor singing, “The Water is Wide.” I immediately flash back to our wedding program and a poorly drawn picture of a rowboat and a couple of oars for two. I tried to focus on the words to the song, but the feelings seemed to tangle me in random memories of our wedding day. It was our wedding song.

At the time, it seemed like all the details were important. You had to make sure you had the right song. But how well do those songs hold up today? I wondered what it would be like to have “Disco Duck,” Stairway to Heaven” or a Wierd Al Yankovich song as the song that connects the two of you.

 I guess the words or meaning of the actual song is less significant than the memories or feelings it brings up for the couple involved. And then I wondered how does that song, “Brickhouse” sound now that your divorced. Do those wedding songs bring up as much remorse for some as it does joy for others? XT0ULCAX2B0G2CA6OQPKDCA16BFYCCAAORLJ9CALZ6BA3CAOT5CWNCAHBNGIZCAKSKZOQCANNY320CANAF6ITCA2NHNDCCA07O7GBCA03VVN4CAO8OBC2CAU5BHEECA51YWEPCASMGQVKCAF6QLY7

I’d love to hear what you’re wedding song was and your thoughts about its meaning today.

When life gets overwhelming, it helps me to slow down, and keep things simple. So I think I’m going to apply that rule to my struggle with coming up with something to write about.

My son wanted to find some youtube videos to send to a friend. He selected Rob Zombie, Dragula, OkGo, Here we go again, a young Beat boxer doing beat boxing and a drum battle between Gene Krup and Buddy Rich. My favorite was OK Go. But my favorite one that we did not use is about people from ages 1-100 hitting a drum.

Why? It’s sweet. It’s simple. And I like drums.

images (76)My wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by going on a very long walk and simply talking. Its something we used to do without consideration when we were dating. But today, it requires scheduling the time and getting a sitter. From the time we leave till we return, it feels like we fill each other in on the details of our lives. I love it.

images (74)I love reading with my sons. I usually lay down on the floor with a big fat pillow for two and read whatever books my sons choose. Lately, my youngest son has been asking for “In the Night Kitchen,” by Maurice Sendak.

I enjoy the sections we read out loud together, “Milk, Milk, Milk for the morning cake.” At one point Mickey, the boy in this story is dreaming about swimming in a large bottle of milk. As he does, the dough on his body melts away, leaving a very naked little boy in the milk. At this point, my son just cracks up andimages (75) shouts, “booty.” It doesn’t matter how many times we read the book, he cracks up every time. I live for these moments.

imagesAs I was playing this multiple choice question game with my son, a question came up with one of the possible answers being “soap on a rope.” He asked what that was. I said it was what it sounded like. But as quickly as I opened my mouth, I realized the kids usually use liquid soap.

I wasn’t sure which was stranger to me, liquid soap or the idea of a bar of soap hanging by a rope. I think the idea was so you could hang the soap up after using it.

I’m assuming it was so the 10 cent brick wouldn’t get lost. And then I flashed back to that images (2)horrible moment when soap got in your eyes.  And God forbid the soap slid off and landed on a dust ball under the radiator. You could end up spending the rest of your shower, cleaning it off.

And remarkably the soap never seemed to go away.  As the pieces got smaller and smaller, they just merged with other pieces of soap that eventually balled up into a regular sized multicolored play dough like object that rested on a wet soap dish.

images (1)My son’s only exposure to a bar of  soap is limited to the picture book about a boy named “David.” He’s a kid that constanly gets into trouble. I can remember reading the book and trying to skip over the section where David gets soap put in his mouth as punishment. But like the soap on the rope, he eventually asked, “dad, why does David have a bar of soap in his mouth?”

I’ll save that one for another blog entry.

imagesWhile getting breakfast ready, my oldest son and I were talking about his last day of school. I asked if he was doing anything special for it. He didn’t know, but then he glanced at his schedule from the past year. As he did, he started saying, “no more reading, no more math, no more p.e, no more tech time, and so on.” And as he was talking, I could hear Alice Cooper in my head singing, “School’s out for Summer.” But my son doesn’t know that song.

So I wondered if this is how Alice Cooper came up with the words to song. As my son was running down the list and continued to say, “no more…,” I gave an invisible high five to Alice Cooper for getting how it feels to end a school year. Now clearly, Cooper was identifying more with the relief of the drudgery being over than the sadness of ending relationships and positive learning community. 629FBCARCI35ECADS0SRXCAYYOY8YCAWLIBJ2CA174EGICA3W00SMCA3F7EJNCAMMI1MYCATBDYAACA0KQE7FCAICI0EHCAAUORTSCA20K8I9CAZ6XUQ6CAVW9J76CA9YX0E8CALMQW3OCA6IQDAT

I debated telling my son about the song. I guess I want him to extend his love of school for as long as he can. He’s got time for it to be a grind. He’ll find his cynical voice in time. For now, it’s enough for him to know there is a song out there that uses words similar to the ones he used to capture the end of the year. When I told him, he responded by asking me, “Alice Cooper? Isn’t he the guy who did ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ on the Wayne’s World Cd?”

So much for the age of innocence.

P.S.- Do you know how hard it is to find an interesting interpretation of this song?

More than a year ago, I volunteered my wife and I to coach my sons soccer team. We’d never done it before. We didn’t know the kids, the families, or the rules about getting the best uniforms. So in essence, we were rookies and we had a team with the ugliest uniforms in the league.

But we won, and then won again, and eventually the season came to an end…today. And we didn’t lose a single game. I know you win some and you lose some, but when the kids, families, and ugly uniforms come together with a string of victories, it sure feels good.

So here’s to the champions!

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