Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Message FromPumkin

Hi, everyone!

Just wanted to let you know that I’ve made my escape and am now resting comfortably with my momma at the hospital. You can keep calling me Pumkin if you want to, but you can also now call me Norah Lucille. I was born at 4:01 PM on Saturday, July 29th. I weighed in at an impressive 8lbs 14oz and stretched to an amazing length of 20.5”. I just wanted to let all my fans know that I am doing great and so are Mommy and Daddy. I’ll write more when I can, but for now you can feast your eyes on my cuteness in the pictures below.

Norah (aka Pumkin)

Hello World!!
Me and MommyMy Proud Daddy
MoMa holds me for the first timeUncle Jet was scared to hold me...but he got over itGettin' born is hard work

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pumkin Update - Seems Like Labor

While I don't have time for my typical, lengthy ramblings...I just wanted to take a few minutes and let everyone know that we seem to be in labor. Contractions are about 5 to 7 minutes apart and we'll be heading to the hospital soon. No guarantees, obviously...but I wanted to update everyone since the next few hours could get pretty hectic. I'll post again when we have more news.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dear Pumkin

Dear Pumkin,
You really should come out and play with us. We’re all very eager to meet you and the doctor says you’re fully developed enough to have some fun in this rough and tumble world outside of Mommy’s tummy. I know it’s nice and cozy in there, and I know how much you’ll miss pummeling Mommy’s ribs from the inside, but consider the arguments below:

  1. You’re missing all sorts of wonderful opportunities for your grand entrance. All the great legends have a cool birth story for their heroes and there’s no reason you shouldn't have one too. For instance, last Wednesday, one of the worst storms to ever hit St. Louis ripped through town. Your Mom and I were without power all night. We played candlelight Uno and had to sleep in the basement to stay cool. We thought maybe you would take the pressure changes as a sign to depart so that you would emerge against a backdrop of a darkened city. But you didn’t. And while we got power back the next morning, the rest of the city was not so lucky. Half a million people without power. By Friday the power company had restored power to about half of those people…just in time for another huge storm to rip through town again. Trees were ripped up and power poles smashed. Again, over half a million people were out of power. We lost power again and retreated to O’Fallon to stay with Dolly and Duran. We figured you might want to be a blackout baby and share the excitement of the labor with the O’Fallon crew who were housing us. It seemed suitably dramatic. But you opted against it.

    On Saturday, we got up early and went back home to check on the kitties and see if we needed to start unloading the freezer. We had just stocked up that freezer in preparation for your arrival and we were none too keen on loosing it all. But the freezer was still cold, so we decided to use the warm house as an excuse to venture out into the suddenly cooler weather and go to a peach farm to pick some peaches. The day was absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t help but remember the story of Momotaro, the Little Peach Boy. I thought maybe you’d decide to start your escape while we were picking peaches so that you could always claim Momotaro as an inspiration. But you didn’t. I thought maybe you were just unfamiliar with the story of the Little Peach Boy and his fight against the Ogres, so I read you the story that night as we lay in bed and enjoyed the newly returned air conditioning. I thought the story would motivate you to make your appearance while it was still technically the peach-picking day. But it didn’t.

    Over the course of the next few days, I held out hope that you would make your appearance while the city struggled to return power. St. Louisians have a long memory for this sort of thing and I figured you’d have fun being able to tell people you were born during the Great Blackout of ’06. You seemed less interested in that than I was. But, there is still some time, there are currently still about 150,000 people without power. However, your historic window is closing. And this may be your last shot at a cool birth story because I don’t think your Mommy has the energy for any more excursions. Which brings me to:

  2. Your Mommy is REALLY ready for you to get out of her. She’s loved having you along for the ride up to this point, but let’s face it…you’ve outgrown your current living quarters. You can’t stretch out any more and she can’t sleep or even get comfortable at all. You keep hitting a nerve that causes pain to shoot down her leg and your weight has caused just walking around to be difficult for her. Basically, you’re a world-ready kid still hanging around in an embryo’s house…it just doesn’t work anymore

  3. There are all sorts of great things about the outside world. Breathing, for instance. It’s pretty cool in its own right and it leads directly to the ability to cry. And I know you’ll really like crying. It’s just as fun as rib-kicking, but even more people can experience it.

    Eating is pretty nifty too. As wonderful as it must be to have nutrients pumped directly into you, I have confidence that you’re gonna love the boob-juice even more. Plus, eating leads to pooping…and that’s going to be all kinds of exciting for you.

    And then there are all the people out here who are just dying to meet you. People to hold you and bounce you and make silly faces at you. People to rock you and talk to you and tickle you. And there’s even one very nice person who is very much looking forward to barking at you. And none of this can happen until you come out and play with us.

In short…it’s time, kiddo. I think everyone involved will be happier once you decide to move on. I know it’s hard to say good-bye to the only home you’ve ever known, but trust me when I tell you that your new home will be even better. And while you’ve missed the Momotaro connection, if you hurry up and come out quick, you’ll arrive right around the time that power returns to all of St Louis. That way we can spin the legend of your debut as Pumkin: The Light Bringer. It’s got a nice ring to it, eh? And it can be yours if you just come out and play with us.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Real Fear

This is a guest posting from Moonshot

I don’t typically feel the need, as my husband does, to write down my thoughts, or to share them in written form with the world. Those who know me well should not be surprised to know that I usually just blurt my thoughts out to any interested party. However, something has been on my mind more and more over the last few months and particularly this last week, and I thought that perhaps sharing my thoughts would bring me, and maybe even some readers, a little comfort.

I suppose it starts with horror movies, which I have always loved. My parents disapproved of this type of film when I was kid, and I was always a good girl, so I didn’t see many of the horror movies that came out as I was growing up until I moved out of their house. In college and the years just after, I learned to love the thrill it gave me to turn out all the lights and descend into the voyeuristic bliss of watching Michael Myers slash, Jason tear, and zombies gobble. Living in an apartment by myself after I finished school, I would sometimes rent these movies to watch at home alone, all the lights turned out and a pillow nearby to stifle my shrieks. I took a strange pleasure in creeping around my apartment afterwards in terror, every light blazing, phone in hand, checking behind shower curtains and under beds for the bogeyman.

In the last year or two, however, I have noticed that my tolerance for these movies has decreased, and my pleasure in them nearly disappeared. It started when my husband and I, sickened and upset by the gore, got up and left the theatre halfway through the recent remake of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and has continued up through my inability to sit through “The Hills Have Eyes” a few weekends ago with friends Taltap and Elsa. A short conversation with those friends followed the movie, in which I argued that horror movies have changed in some intrinsic way, making them unpalatable to me. I was somewhat vague on the exact change, arguing variously that they focus more on torture, that the injuries are more graphic, and the characters more realistic. Taltap tried to disabuse me of this notion, saying that while special effects make it possible to show injuries in greater detail, the basic devices through which these movies disturb and frighten us have not changed. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought over the last week, and have come to the conclusion that the movies have not, indeed, changed. What changed is me.

Back in the days when I used to lock myself in a dark apartment and scare myself witless, I was having fun, but I also believe that scaring myself that way was a cathartic release for real fears. In general, I was not a terribly fearful person, and I tried not to think about the kind of dangers that face a young, single woman living alone. These movies gave me a reason to mentally tick through the safety measures I had taken, to rehearse my strategies for dealing with dangerous situations. In short, I could address my fears of the unlikely possibility of rape or murder, through the guise of preparing myself for an even more unlikely battle with an axe-wielding force of darkness. I could take steps to protect myself and failing those, believe that there always remained for me the option of fighting like hell to protect myself. I could wake up the next morning feeling smug in my false confidence that I could handle any psycho foe, real or imaginary. Some logical part of me understood that it was, in fact, false confidence, but part of me ruled by my emotions could ignore that detail in order to feel better. I felt that I was in control.

So why do these movies no longer serve to lessen my subconscious fears? After much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that my fears have changed. When I watch these movies, when I imagine the psycho force of darkness, it is no longer myself he chases. It is my loved ones. Just as the unrealistic terrors brought to mind by these movies once helped me to deal with real fears for myself, they now reinforce real fears for my family. I’m not particularly worried about us being attacked by aliens, cannibals, or mystical dream-stalkers. But the feelings that these foes illicit from me on film are too close for my comfort to the feelings I have when considering real dangers like car crashes, illnesses, kidnappers…

You see, I have so much more to lose now than I did even five years ago. I could then, and can now, face the possibility of pain and death for myself. After all, I tell myself, pain is usually temporary, and if I die, well, I won’t be around to feel sad about it. Besides, as I explained, I am perfectly capable of deluding myself into believing that I can control what happens to me. My problem, you see, is that I haven’t been able to delude myself into believing the same about my husband, my beloved pets, my baby. I imagine terrible things happening to those I love, and I understand true terror. I begin to see that some pain could be forever. I feel no comforting sense of control, and I have no last ditch, fight-like-hell plan. I can only tell my husband I love him when he leaves for work, be ridiculously protective of my dog, search the house endlessly for missing kitties who nap unconcernedly in hidden corners, and voraciously read pregnancy and parenting manuals. I superstitiously avoid mentioning these fears in connection with my family, to the point that I find my fingers slowing on the keyboard right now as if they were immersed in molasses. I wish that I believed in prayer, or charms, anything that could turn my love into a magical force-field to surround and protect my family, to take away my worry, to fill me with that youthful, foolish confidence that once came so easily…

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I will become a neurotic worrier anytime soon. I won’t dwell on these new fears overlong, nor will I let them overwhelm or control me. I’ll simply do my best to live well, love my family, and make them happy. You won’t find me hiding in any corners… but I don’t think you’ll find me enjoying gruesome death scenes and lunatic killers anymore either.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Illusion of Control

Most of life’s big moments can be marked on the calendar in anticipation. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, Star Wars movie releases. The dates are set and you can then count the moments until the event arrives. In stark contrast is the birth of my first child.

We are currently awaiting Pumkin’s arrival on a “really any day now” basis. Oh, we’ve still got two weeks until the official due date, but the doctor has finally confirmed our long-held belief that we’re probably not going to make it that long. Moonshot and I have prepared the nursery, ordered the diaper service, packed up what hospital necessities we can and made a list of the items we can’t pack just yet. We’ve made arrangements for Arlo’s care during the birth and we’ve stockpiled food in the downstairs freezer for use during those hectic first days. We’ve been going back over our notes from the childbirth classes and are basically trying to get ourselves as ready as possible for the big event. The only problem is…we have no control over the timing. Unlike the above listed events, this one…possibly my biggest life altering event since my own birth and until my own death…and I have no idea when it will occur. If only I could talk to the me of one month future…or forty years future for that matter since the date will almost certainly float significantly in my memory for the rest of my life. But for now, the date looms out there…unwilling to give up its position.

This sort of waiting is torture for a control freak like me. It’s probably good for me to suffer through it…but it makes me a bit batty. I’ve been having recurring dreams that Moonshot and I know that “today” is the day. I’ve never dreamed of the birth or even of the child him or herself. I just dream that I somehow know that it will happen “today”…and it is a wonderful dream.

Given my inability to control these events, I’ve turned to my old friend logic to help me through. If I can’t know, at least I can crunch the numbers.

Here’s what I know:

  • The official due date isn’t until August 1, but that’s a bit suspect. It’s based on the idea that conception TENDS to occur midway through the menstrual cycle. So, they basically count from the last day of the last period, assume that conception occurred two weeks after that, and spit out a date. But I don’t trust that assumption. Coming off birth control had massively screwed up Moonshot’s cycle during that time. I wouldn’t take for granted that anything about her cycle at that time would conform to statistical norm.

  • The ultrasound technician predicted a due date of July 26th based on Pumkin’s size back in March. That’s about one week ahead of schedule and perfectly reasonable given the above-mentioned menstrual chaos.

  • At every check-up, the doctor measures Moonshot’s belly and it consistently shows up one week ahead of schedule based on size.

  • As mentioned, the doctor finally agreed that we probably won’t make it to Aug 1.

Based on these facts, I’m pretty comfortable assuming a REAL due date on July 26th.

But even that doesn’t truly answer the question. Because, even a corrected due date is still just statistics and probability. What’s a neurotic guy to do in the face of such uncertainty? Well, if you’re me, you turn to your trusty Excel spreadsheets, generate overly complex calculations, and consequently get mocked by your wife.

To get started, I had to make some assumption. First, I assumed that as of our last check-up on July 13th, we had an approximately 75% chance of delivering before August 1. This is clearly a shot in the dark, but that’s what I read between the lines in the doctor’s vague prediction…so that’s what my spreadsheet reflected. I then assigned a number between 1 and 6 for each day between July 14th and the day the doctor would induce labor, August 15th. These numbers indicate the relative likelihood of a birth on that date and they basically stair step their way to a 6 on July 26th and then stair step their way back down. The spreadsheet then calculates these numbers into percentages for each day. It also automatically changes the probability to zero for days that have passed and recalculates the odds for future days given the ever decreasing date possibilities. It’s all very slick and it gave my whirling brain a way to feel like it was doing something, but in the end, it doesn’t really answer many questions. For instance, as I write this there is a 2.08% chance that Pumkin will make his/her grand appearance today. That’s tiny. Basically, right now, any given day has only a miniscule chance since there are so many possible dates. How frustrating! But, I suppose it’s slightly more meaningful to note that there is a 22.92% chance that Pumkin will be born this week.

Moonshot waits for Pumkin - Week 38I know, I know...I should be enjoying these anticipatory moments instead of codifying them into basically meaningless number crunching exercises. But, to some small extent it helps to pretend I have some control over the situation through prediction. And besides…we’re sort of just killing time until Pumkin comes out to play anyway. So while Moonshot reads her kinky Laurell K. Hamilton novels, I’ll spend some time hiding my nervousness by making up probabilities. There are less healthy responses, I suppose. I may not be able to mark a day on the calendar and count the moments, but I say if I can enjoy the random roll of the dice by imagining that I understand the odds…thank heavens for Microsoft Excel.

Note: For those of you who want to play along on the Neurotic Moksha Home Game…feel free to take a look at or download the spreadsheet.

Caleb Vs. Norah

Given the discussion above, perhaps it’s odd that I’m really enjoying the mystery of Pumkin’s gender. I’m looking forward to finding out, don’t get me wrong, but since I’m not really partial either way, I’m very comfortable to wait until Pumkin is born to discover if Pumkin is a Norah or a Caleb. However, what fun would a mystery be without some completely random predictions from everyone we know? So, I invite you all to make your completely random predictions in the comments. I mean, you’ve got a fifty percent chance of having undeniable proof that you knew it all along. Them’s good odds. Moonshot has been telling me for some time that her intuition tells her it’s a Norah. Therefore, based on nothing but my desire for healthy competition, I’m banking my fatherly intuition on a Caleb. Anybody else wanna lock in your vote while the truth is still masked in secrecy?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

You Can Be A Winner In The Game Of Life

I’ve been wearing shorts more lately.

This may not seem like such a big deal, but those who know me well know that my legs never see the light of day. Genetics have blessed me with what MoMa always referred to as “chicken legs.” Even as a kid, when I was quite the runner and had fairly powerful legs, they were tiny, powerful legs. Over the years, my insecurity about my scrawny little legs has led to another embarrassing problem…blindingly white skin. It’s a great combo. Imagine an otherwise normally proportioned guy walking around on lit fluorescent tubes for legs. And so, for years I have hid my shame behind thick denim even in the middle of August. My closet holds only four pairs of shorts. Three are basketball-style, brightly colored and elasticy. I use these to lounge around the house in and as sleep wear when I go a-visitin’. The final pair are beige multi-pocketed things that someone, at sometime in the past, left at my house. I use them for yard work…but only when it’s really hot.

However, things have been changing lately. I find myself wearing those beige shorts to work in the yard even on cool days…and then keeping them on when I go out to a store later that day. This is a big deal. It only happens occasionally, but considering that I have lost the use of my other three pair of shorts since Moonshot’s rounded tummy has greater need of the elastic than I do, my one pair of shorts is getting some heavy use lately. I even went to a restaurant in then last week.

So the real question is, “What changed?” My legs are no more glamorous than before. Their increased but still very limited exposure to sunbeams have not diminished their iridescent qualities. Nor have I suddenly sprouted new-found muscle mass that I wish to flaunt. The answer is that to some small degree, I’ve stopped caring. Oh, I’m still neurotically aware of my own shortcomings, but I just find that I’m less interested in other people’s opinions about my shortcomings.

The next obvious question, therefore is, “What caused this new boost in self-confidence?” And I think I have the answer. At least partially, it’s because I’ve already won. Yup, in the Game of Life, I’m a winner! I have navigated the biological and social perils of existence and have found a mate. I have impregnated that mate and my genes will now enter the next generation. My primary function as a living being has been accomplished and I can therefore bask in the glorious apathy that is my prize . And while I do plan on going through this reproduction phase again…my mate is already chosen and need not be courted in the traditional “hide my defects and trick her into thinking I’m a prime genetic specimen” manner. My primate brain has decided that the effort spent masking my deficiencies is no longer worth the potential benefit. And so I am no longer concerned that my lack of lower body development is a turn-off for the cute waitress at Ruby Tuesdays

Now, this same logic has led many Winners in the Game of Life to the assumption that they can now “let themselves go.” Mate found and genetic immortality secured, the body becomes the victim of atrophy and unwanted expansion. I am not claiming this as my view and am hoping that it won’t be phase two of my “I don’t care” revolution. It’s one thing to say that since the only person whose opinion I care about is already well aware of my puny legs, I have no need to hide them from the rest of the world. It’s another thing entirely to say that since my spouse will stick around no matter what I look like…I might as well tub out and buy a La-Z Boy with a beer fridge in it.

On the whole, I’m quite curious to see where this new line of thought will lead me. It’s baby steps to self-improvement to be sure, but the shorts are clear proof that a new line of thought has entered my subconscious. However, to those of you who may be exposed to my florescent legs in the near future…I can only apologize.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Seven Random Topics

I’m XXX, Baby!

I had always thought turning thirty would be a big deal…but it just wasn’t. Typically, I’m a big fan of meaningless number games like this. I love watching the odometer flip to zeroes, I remember phone numbers by finding mathematical patterns in the sequence, and I enjoy it when I notice the clock reads 6:22…cuz that’s my birthday. Plus, my birthday was on a Thursday this year, which always makes me happy for some odd reason. So I had every reason to believe that watching my personal odometer flip to a nice even "0" would be an exciting event for me. But when June 22 rolled around, it just didn’t matter too much. It was a good excuse to have some good friends over for some cake, but that was about it. I felt neither particularly celebratory nor old.

The main reason for this is surely Pumkin. Of the life changes I’m going through right now, surviving my 30th revolution around the sun seems like pretty small potatoes. In addition, I think that turning thirty at this precise moment just feels so right that it’s hard to think much about it.

My Dad was 30 when I was born. Well, pretty much...I was born 8 days before his 30th birthday. This age, therefore, has just always seemed to me like the right age to have a kid. I’ve assumed since I was 12 or so that I’d become a Dad on or around my 30th. It’s looking like I’m going to be about a month behind schedule.

Anyway, the point here is that if I weren’t about to be a Dad, 30 would seem suddenly old to me. If, on the other hand I was a Dad and not yet thirty…I think I’d feel too young. So, the fact that the stars aligned and I’m turning thirty at exactly the same time that I’m becoming a Dad made my birthday a point not worth feeling one way or the other about. It’s just the right age to be at the right moment.

And besides… being XXX sounds much cooler than being XXIX.

Pumkin's First Party

As is tradition at this stage of a pregnancy, there was a baby shower on June 23rd. It never ceases to amaze me how much work and planning goes into what, in the end, is just a simple get together. Who’s coming? What games will be played? Where will it be? Where are people staying? Who handles what? Luckily, Moonshot and I, as the guests of honor, got to sit to the side of all the chaos and just watch. We answered questions here and there about what we’d like, but mostly we only got pulled into the complexity for the “where are people staying?” question.

This question comes up often for us. Other than Jet, we have no family locally. For big events such as baby showers and such, we have two families worth of people coming in from Lake of the Ozarks, Kansas City, and Iowa and only two houses in which to stash them all. To add more complexity, there is a fine balancing act between the two families. You see, my family tends to swoop in for such gathering like a swarm of locusts. We’re loud and we travel in packs. Moonshot’s family is smaller and quieter. The baby shower brought the standard fear that given her family’s smaller size and basic tendency toward calmness, their enjoyment of the weekend could be hampered by my family’s…um…enthusiasm. Now, it should be said that this boisterousness is what makes my family what it is…so I’m not complaining at all. However, the differences in the two families are very real factors and are worth considering in events like this. After much wrangling, we arrived at a solution that would find most of my family over at Jets where they could stay up late and drink and holler. Moonshot’s family, on the other hand, would bunk at our place with my grandparents. We were to be the early to bed group and that suited us just fine.

Both houses would be packed, but that’s just part of the fun. Small spats were had on both sides over who got beds, who got couches and who got relegated to the dreaded air mattresses. When the dust finally settled, we had what I thought was a good system. However, as is the case with all family drama, last minute changes were introduced. All the wonderful arguments over bedding were rendered moot when much of my family canceled. With Aunt Gimpy’s recovering health, her kids were unwilling to leave KC. Plus, my Grandpa had an odd health issue the day before the shower that made his trip from the Lake impossible. We understood completely and mention these issues only because they made all our concern over family balance seem a bit…unnecessary. We ended up with space to spare and happy family members on both sides of the isle. We still would have opted for originally planned overcrowding, but were pleased none-the-less.

What eventually emerged from all the shuffling and planning was a BBQ over at Jet’s place hosted by Jet, MoMa, Husker, Panache, and Mouse. We braved the heat of a Missouri June and played some fun baby games. First was the Play-Doh Baby competition in which teams of friends and family created multi-colored baby-like sculptures for Moonshot and I to judge. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of craftsmanship. Later in the afternoon came the Diaper Relay in which we fought to see which of two teams could have each of their members change a dolls diaper first.

I was the first to go for my team and was pitted against Duke. I ran up to the table determined not to be the typical clueless dad. I fully expected Duke to take his team to an early lead due to his daily experience with this “game,” but I figured I could hold my own. I started out strong with proper form and confidence. However, modern advances in diaper technology proved my undoing. In my attempt to fasten the diaper on my plastic child, I was looking for a peel-and-stick adhesive. I was convinced that the tab I was playing with should have a removable layer of cellophane that would reveal some useful stick-um. I picked and picked and finally yanked…removing the tab completely. As the second member of the opposing team completed their task, MoMa had to come to my rescue with Scotch tape. I hung my head in clueless father shame and handed the doll to my teammate.

Now, in my defense, MoMa later admitted that she had been ready with the tape because she had done the exact same thing. Turns out that the diapers today rely on incredibly fine velco. Velco so tiny that it feels smooth. Once you get it, it really is a vast improvement over the peel-and-stick variety, but they did nothing that day but make my friends and family nod and smile knowingly as my mom had to help me change a dolls diaper. [sigh]

Anyway, the shower was a lot of fun. Thank you so much to everyone who pitched in and made it happen. Thanks to everyone who came over and had fun with us. Thanks to everyone who gave generous gifts to Pumkin…s/he loves them all. And a special thanks to our friend Rack. He had to work that day so was unable to attend. However, as our only friend who drives a truck, he took the time to run long tables over to Jet’s house before the shower. So thanks, Rack, for working to stock a party you weren’t even able to attend.

Mouse and Freddy J craft their masterpiece

Mr. Dingus and his daughter make their entry

Freddy J and Mouse craft their masterpiece

Mr. Dingus and his daughter make their entry

All the Play-Doh Babies

Moksha and Moonshot judge

All the Play-Doh babies

Moksha and Moonshot judge

Carbon Leaf

For my birthday this year, Jet treated me to a June 27th Carbon Leaf show down at the Duck Room. I love this band, I love this venue, and I love catching shows with Jet…so I loved this gift.

The Duck Room is basically the basement of a locally famous restaurant called Blueberry Hill down on the Delmar Loop. The Loop is the social scene that flanks Wash U and Joe Edwards, the owner of the Blueberry Hill, is the guy who almost single-handedly revived the Loop from its 1970 squalor. Blueberry Hill itself is just ok. The food’s fine but with all the options available down there now, it’s mainly cool for its history. However, down in the basement, huddled between the low, wooden ceiling joists and the exposed brick walls, is the Duck Room. Its small size means you’re only likely to catch small or local acts there, but the intimate setting and the acoustics makes it worth it. I know that Carbon Leaf is about to outgrow the tiny little Duck Room and will soon have to make the leap to Joe Edwards’ main venue, the Pageant. It’ll be great for the band, I know, but I will miss being able to hang out after the show and chat with the band. They are some of the nicest “rock stars” I’ve met and it will be shame to loose that casual setting.

Beatle Bob
Plus, Beatle Bob won’t be as fun to watch at the Pageant. Beatle Bob is a local legend. He’s this odd little man who shows up at good concerts and goes into a crazy dance trance. He stands pressed against the stage and dances silly dances as if he were alone in his living room. Some people find him distracting, but I, for one, love Beatle Bob. He’s the harbinger of a good show and having him spinning on his heels and wagging his finger approvingly at the bass player promises good things. Just think of him as a musical shaman disguised as a 1964 George Harrison.

An Overly Wordy Review of Superman

Wednesday found Moonshot and I tagging along with Duke and the gang to see the newest incarnation of the Man of Steel. Duke has been beside himself waiting for this film. The question was not whether or not he would see it opening night, but which of his 12 Superman t-shirts he should wear for the event. And while I’m not a huge Superfan, I do tend to be entertained by a movie about costumed heroes. And the fact that Duke, Duran, and I can geek out afterwards as we discussing minutia, really adds to the enjoyment for me. So, while I didn’t go in with outrageously high expectations, I was fully expecting to be entertained.

I don’t want to turn this blog into a full on movie review, but I wanted to share that I was highly disappointed with this movie. And what’s odd is that all the things I thought I’d hate were the things I liked about it. Brandon Routh was excellent at Superman/Clark Kent. I really enjoyed the scenes between Supes and Lois and appreciated the lonely Superman take. What really bugged me, though were the action scenes. It feels like Hollywood is so in love with their new-found ability to make ANYTHING happen with computer graphics that they feel they have to continually give us “something we’ve never seen before.” And to some extent, I can get behind that. But all too often, what they’re showing me has never been seen before for good reason…because it is outlandishly impossible or freakishly convoluted. Pretty much every big CG scene in Superman lost me. When I was supposed to be fearing for my life in Metropolis, I found myself instead snapped back to a crowded theater in St Charles…which is exactly where I paid to be removed from. I sat in the theater thinking about the newly overblown King Kong and the unbearably long “exciting” middle section which suffered from the same problem. I’m hoping that Hollywood will soon remember that it doesn’t take over the top excess to engage the human imagination.

I’ll accept that a bit of suspension of disbelief is required to watch a movie about an alien super hero who flies around in brightly colored tights, unstoppable save for his aversion to a glowing green crystal. Fine. But what I want to see is what happens IF that hero were actually here in our real world. And nothing in the alien hero premise requires the basic laws of physics to be ignored so that passengers on a standard jumbo jet merrily survive an unexpected jaunt into space. All I could think of was Burt Rutan pounding his fists at the screen, “You think it’s that easy, do you?!” I’m absolutely fine with all those meditative moments Superman spends drifting in the vacuum of space…that’s part of him being super. But Lois doesn’t come back from that trip.

In the end, the movie was just so-so. A silly movie with hints of greatness peaking around the corners just to remind you of how great the movie almost was. But I want to say one additional thing about Superman before I move on to other topics. What does Brian Singer have against dogs? I’ve looked around to find any other web reference about this and haven’t found anything, so I feel its my duty to bring to light Brian Singer’s obvious hatred of dogs. There were three times during the film that Moonshot and I found ourselves mildly shocked by his “being mean to dogs is funny” jokes.

Ok, the first instance was odd, but not particularly offensive. Clark has returned to the Kent farm and the family dog is happy to see him. Pooch runs up with a baseball and drops it in front of Clark expectantly. Clark takes it and freakin’ launches it over the horizon. Dog whines sadly and the crowd laughs. What? Am I to believe that Superman just doesn’t know his own strength to THAT degree? And even if that’s the case…go get it, you jerk. With your super speed it would take you less time to return with the dogs toy than it takes me to dig Arlo’s ball out from under the couch. Teasing a dog with a fake throw or two is one thing…launching its toy into the stratosphere seems oddly mean for the big, blue boy scout. That was a bit out of character for Superman, but not horrible.

Just shortly after this however, Lex and his girlfriend return to the house of the late-widow whose fortune Lex had recently swindled. When last we were at the house, there were two cute little Pomeranians who had cuddled together in the bed of the dying widow. As we return, we see one of the Poms chewing greedily on a small mound of bones. Lex’s girlfriend comments, “Weren’t there two of them before?” Ok, so the humor here is that two dogs were abandoned in a house for so long that one of them was forced to kill and eat its companion? Ha Ha Ha Ha! I don’t get it. In certain contexts, like a zombie flick or something, I’m all for this type of thing. But in a Superman film it seemed very out of place and therefore all the more disturbing.

And then, as a small throwback joke to the above mentioned laugh fest, when Lex and his girlfriend find themselves stranded on an island with the remaining Pom, Lex insinuates that he plans to eat the second dog. Normally, this would just be an, “Oh, Lex, you asshole,” moment. But with the image of a cute Pom chewing on doggie bones still fresh in your mind, you are forced to consider that Brian Singer is indeed expecting you to imagine a scene in which Lex picks the last remaining bit of Fluffy from his teeth. And furthermore, Singer expects you to be laughing.

In short, Moonshot and I won’t be inviting Brian Singer over to our house anytime soon. He tends to make fun movies, but I’d be afraid to leave him alone in the room with Arlo.

There Should Have Been Balloons

June 30th would have been my Dad’s 60th birthday. He’s been gone for almost nine years, but I still miss him just about every day. And, as one would expect, I find myself thinking about him even more as I prepare to become a father myself. The symmetry brought on by his being almost exactly 30 when I was born and my being almost exactly 30 when Pumkin will be born is comforting to me on many levels. However, it does tend to highlight his absence. And I don’t seem to be the only one who is feeling this. On several occasions recently, Moonshot has brought up how much she would have liked to meet my father. I can only agree and realize that this feeling will probably amplify as we all begin wishing Pumkin could have met his/her grandpa.

On most days, it’s hard to pinpoint how exactly my life would be different had fate unfolded in another way. I sit at a desk during my workday and that’s probably what I’d be doing even if Dad were still cheerfully boating down at the Lake. Sure, I’d talk to him on the phone and visit him, but it’s difficult to say exactly when these moments of contact would occur. However, I can say that on June 30th, 2006, there should have been a party. We should have been mocking the old man with black balloons and questioning his level of senility. Significant moments like this bring to the forefront how differently things turned out. There was no party, just a day on the calendar that came and went. And though no one really mentioned it, I can only assume everyone in the family was imagining those black balloons.

A Much Appricaited 10-Hour Drive

Moonshot chats with Elsa and TaltapTaltap and Elsa came for a visit last weekend. They were unable to attend Pumkin’s shower, so they made the long trek down from the Twin Cities the next weekend. That worked out better anyway since we were able to devote our full attention to the weary travelers. I’d like to fill this blog with tales of our exploits and exciting accounts of our shenanigans in and about St Louis. However, it was 95 degrees all weekend and Moonshot is nine months pregnant…there were no shenanigans. We lounged about the house and enjoyed hours of wonderful conversation with our far-away friends. We did travel out to O’Fallon on Saturday evening for the annual Dolly/Duran 4th of July BBQ. But even then, aside for a few intense games of bocce, our activities were mainly confined to enjoying wonderful conversations. Same activity…larger group.

Sunday we tried to go down to Old Town St. Charles and join in the festivities there, but quickly retreated when Moonshot started feeling the effects of the heat. We ended up renting the new remakes of “The Hills Have Eyes” and “Pink Panther.” I can honestly say my IQ has been permanently damaged by this disturbingly idiotic combination. Our thinking was that the stupidity of Pink Panther would counteract the gore of the Hills. What we didn’t count on was the fact that hidden beneath the gore, Hills was just as insultingly dumb as Panther. My head still hurts to think about that viewing combo. Luckily, we had our witty and snide comments with which to defend ourselves.

Pumkin Update

As we enter the final leg of the Pumkin growing phase, changes are finally starting to be noticeable at a quicker pace. Braxton-Hicks contractions have, on three occasions, reared their head to make Moonshot’s face contort into slight grimaces. Furthermore, Pumkin chose this weekend to silently slide down a bit to get into launch position. While neither of these developments really mean much as far as narrowing down the timing of the birth, they do serve to draw attention to the fact that Pumkin is preparing to exit his/her first home so s/he can come out and demand in a high pitch wail to be renamed either Caleb or Norah. The reality that the time until this transition is better measured now in days than in months is slowly sinking in.
Moonshot: Week 35
Moonshot: Week 36