Month: August 2007

Fives: Favorite Albums

Remember a while back when I mentioned a new gimmick of lists of five things I would be dropping on you? Haven’t seen list #2 yet, have you? Well, there is an explanation. This list is a biggie, and I’ve been struggling with how to properly roll it out to you. I’ve finally figured out how I want to do it, so hopefully we’ll get back on track.

This one is a multi-edition list. We’ll start today with the list itself. Then, since it’s a Big List (meaning an important one), I will break down each element over the next 4-5 weeks, probably on Mondays. Along the way, I hope to get additional lists of fives posted on Fridays. But you know me; don’t hold your breath.

Five Favorite Albums of All-Time

Rules: No soundtracks or greatest hits packages. One album per band. I must own the complete album in one format or another. And it obviously must rock.

5 –Achtung Baby – U2. Somewhat overshadowed by another album released about the same time Nevermind this helped to define the 90s sound.
4 – Revolver – The Beatles. The album every other album wants to be.
3 – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back – Public Enemy. No album influenced me more.
2 – OK Computer – Radiohead. The last, great, rock concept album?
1 – London Calling – The Clash. The entire history of rock & roll on two pieces of vinyl.

Honorable Mention:
Paul’s Boutique – Beastie Boys. Vastly underrated.
The Rising – Bruce Springsteen. The perfect statement about one of the worst days ever.
Vitalogy – Pearl Jam. Their artistic high point, would rate higher if not for the obligatory throw-away tracks.
Summer Teeth – Wilco. An American stab at what The Clash did on London Calling, summing all genres into a single piece of art.

Super Honorable Mention:
Purple Rain – Prince & The Revolution. A soundtrack, yes, but one performed by a single artist rather than an all-star affair (Like Footloose, for example).

Look for the Achtung Baby breakdown on Monday. Happy Labor Day weekend!

Words

It’s fun to watch the girls as they develop their verbal skills and vocabularies. M. is making a leap in logical ability and saying things she’s not heard before because she understands that the words can fit what she’s trying to say. C., on the other hand, has reached the point where 15-20 words and sounds just isn’t enough, and each day means something new and recognizable comes out of her mouth.

With M., it’s equally amusing and concerning. One day, she’ll bust out something hilarious. Recently we were out in the front yard and a neighbor walked by with her small dog, which came over to sniff at the girls. M. was excited, but also a little anxious, and backed away from it while she giggled. Finally, she said, “Dad, what a wonderful dog!” Where she got that, I have no idea.

On the concerning side is how her imagination works at times, and how at others she throws things back at us. One day when she was hanging out with her grandparents and it was time to come home, she protested by saying, “Please don’t take me back there. They’re terrible!” The they being S. and I. Lovely. When she defies me, I’ve been explaining how she doesn’t make the rules in the house, her mommy and I do. In response comes this lovely rejoinder, “No, I’m the boss, Dad.” She’s pretty certain of herself, but that doesn’t go over well with her parents.

C. was happy just saying Dada, Mama, Dora and assorted animal noises until late last week, when she started repeating about one word a day that I would say to her. The first was Daddy, which was tremendous and when coupled with hugs and kisses ensures she’ll go to private school her entire life. She also picked up ball over the weekend, and each time she saw my t-shirt Saturday, which was an Italy World Cup shirt and had a soccer ball in the middle, she said, “Ball!” and pointed at it. Unfortunately, in an effort to show the world what bad parents she has, she’s also begun saying “Bah-pah,” which is her version of Backpack. For those of you without kids out there, Backpack is a character on Dora. Throw in her spot-on imitation of Boots the Monkey, and that means roughly 10% of my daughter’s vocabulary is directly tied to her favorite TV show. Concerning.

I mentioned her affectionate ways above. The girl loves to give kisses, and will often randomly walk over and give me a smooch. I was getting a little concerned about the OCD qualities her kissing habits were demonstrating one night last week, when, as I went into her room to give her Motrin at 2:00 AM, she stopped screaming long enough to give me a kiss, then went right back to screaming again. Strange.

I keep saying this is a sign that she won’t talk to me at all for about five years when she turns 13, since she is all about loving her dad now. M., on the other hand, could care less about showing affection, and will probably be my best friend in her teen years.

One last note, the girl got four teeth last week. When our girls get teeth, they get teeth! Unfortunately, she still has nine to go, and since our girls must suffer for about five months before anything pops through, we’ve still got a long ways to go.

Getting Closer

Sunday was a big day for M.: she got to go and meet her preschool teacher, some of her classmates, and see her classroom. To say she was excited was an understatement. It had already been a big weekend, with three of the out-of-town aunts coming home for a wedding shower, and one of her out-of-town uncles coming back as well. Plus, we had been talking up going to see her class for a couple weeks, so by Sunday afternoon, she was ready to go.

When we got to the school, I signed a few forms then wandered around until we found her classroom. We walked in and found nametags waiting for the kids. I put M.’s on her shirt, and one of the teachers came right over and said, “Hi M.!” M. lost all control of her excitement, doing a little happy dance and shrieking, “I’m at school! YEAH!!!” Any fears we had of her being a shrinking violet were quickly put to rest. I collected the other handouts that were waiting for us and tried to get her to play with the other kids. She was reluctant at first, preferring to bring toys over to me so she could show them to me, “Look, Dad, it’s a cooker!” (Her name for barbecue grills.) Her teacher came over and introduced herself and went through some of the things they’ll be doing this year with me, and asked a few questions like “Is she potty trained?” Not to jinx her and set her back, but fortunately the answer is yes. While we were talking, M. was playing with a letter game in which you make letters from sticks of different lengths and shapes. She was in the A position, but rotated the two long sticks so it looked like and H, and said, “Excuse me, Daddy. I made an H!” The teacher, who did not hear her entire sentence, said, “You’re right, that is an A.” I thought about correcting her – “No, no, she just made an H, see how well she knows her alphabet?” – but I chose to let it go. They’ll figure out how smart she is soon enough.

One of the teacher’s aides was going around taking pictures of all the kids, I assume so they can put faces with names before class starts in two weeks. When it was M.’s turn, she smiled at the camera and yelled, “CHEESE!” The aide looked at me and said, “I think someone’s had her picture taken before.” I should have handed her the address to our Flickr site!

M. finally decided to dive in and play with some of the other kids. She sat down at a table where another girl from her class, and that girl’s little sister, were playing with some toy food and place settings. They shared quietly for a few minutes, and then M. looked at the little sister, who was probably 18 months old and working on a binky, and asked me, “Is she a baby, Dad?” I responded that no, she was not a baby anymore. “Why does she have a binky then, Dad?” I sensed an opportunity to scar this little girl for life, so I chose my response carefully. “Well, some kids keep their binkies for awhile. You kept yours until you were almost two years old.” “Oh. OK.” And back to playing, with the little girl apparently no worse for my answer.

M. had said she wanted to go see the playground, so I started to move her in that direction. My wife tells me around three is the time when kids stop “parallel playing” and actually begin to interact. M. is starting to make that jump. She looked at her classmate, who had hardly said a word but had shared some toys nicely, and asked, “Do you want to go outside with me?” The girl just sat there and blinked. Sometimes it can be sad how little kids don’t understand how not every other kid wants to do the same things they want to do. But M. shook it off and we went outside.

We played for awhile, went back inside to get some ice cream, and then exited to head home. On our way out, M. saw a small statue of some kind of religious guy. Naturally, she had to ask who it was. I know it wasn’t Jesus, and could tell it wasn’t St. Francis, the only saint I can name by sight. The church is named after St. Elizabeth Seton, and I knew it wasn’t her. I didn’t have much else to go on. “Ummm, that’s a priest,” I said. Good enough for her, I figured. I quickly checked around to make sure there was no one else in earshot, especially one of the actual priests at the church. I figured it was a little early to pull the “I’m not Catholic” card which I keep in my back pocket to get out of jams at church. I don’t need the priests ensuring my daughter gets an extra heaping portion of dogma.

Despite my little faux pas at the end, it was a good day. M. was excited to go, was well-behaved, and seemed to enjoy it. Now, though, we’re working on the hard part: explaining that in two weeks, mommy or daddy will not be going in with her. This is the first time she’ll ever be away from us, so I expect either total acceptance because she’s excited about it, or a total meltdown. But definitely not indifference and silence.

Now Playing: <strong>The Right Profile</strong> from the album “London Calling” by <a href=”http://www.google.com/search?q=%22The%20Clash%22″>The Clash</a>

Axed, Sort Of

As I’ve related, things on the professional side of your humble blogger’s life have been looking ever-so-slightly up lately. In addition to my regular editing work, there is the much-agonized over book I’ve been editing (working on my final skim now), another small project a friend tossed my way, and then there’s something that will involve regular writing that I’ll be interviewing for later this week. Just the way I want to plan my professional life for the next few years: a number of small projects that A) keep me busy, B) keep enough cash coming in to justify my many purchases at the Apple Store, and C) put me in a position to easily transition in to a more vigorous writing/editing lifestyle when all our kids are in school.

Sadly, one component of my current program has slipped. The state press association is running low on funds, and not surprisingly, decided to end their relationship with me through at least the end of the year. There’s a small chance they might call me back for more work when the calendar turns to 2008, but given the arc of their revenues in recent years, that’s not likely.

It wasn’t a big surprise. For the past three issues I edited, there were several articles about how they were running short of and trying to raise more money through ad programs. I told S. a few weeks back that I expected their need for an outside editor to disappear quickly if they didn’t find some new funds. And while it wasn’t a ton of money – when I was really efficient, I could say I made $60/hour, which is right about what I’d like to make from jobs like this – it was nice to have a paycheck every month, even if most of it had already been delegated to go towards eBay wins or new toys for my Macs. A man feels better about himself when he’s got a little cash in his pocket and an ice cold beer in his hand. Isn’t that from Shawshank? Never mind.

So Monday nights are freed up, just in time for football. The silver lining! Seriously, I don’t like to promote too much here, but this is a good opportunity to remind folks that if they ever run across situations where they, a friend, a family member, business associate, etc. need someone to do some writing/editing, I am available. I’ve even got business cards! Which I forgot to hand over to my “prospective client” in KC last week (I’ll include one with my invoice, Mr. N!).

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