Month: September 2007 (Page 1 of 2)

Top Five Albums: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back

“You’re quite hostile.”
“I got a right to be hostile, man, my people been persecuted.”</em>

I said in my initial list that this is the most influential album in my life. Before we get to that, first a quick review of how this album fit into the history of rap. When it was released in 1988, rap had already entered the mainstream and was beginning to become a cultural force. That said, most rap was tame, slightly silly, and reminiscent of early rock & roll: fun to listen to but not terribly thought provoking (To be fair, there were many important early songs in rap that had a social context). Then, this hit the world like a punch in the gut. Chuck D’s huge voice, which was to hip-hop what Eddie Vedder has been to rock over the last decade. Amazing production by the Bomb Squad, with layers upon layers of beats, samples, and strange noises designed to assault the listener. The hardest of hard hitting lyrics, all demanding social change. It was Revolver and What’s Going On and Exile on Main Street combined into one album. The music world was never the same. Unfortunately, as hip-hop became the dominant force in music, this social consciousness got left behind.

Now, for the personal side. Music is always personal for me. Songs attach to events and become part of my memories. Music compliments my moods, reinforcing good times and comforting me in the rough periods. But no album has ever affected me like this one. I came from a house where it was demanded that all people be treated fairly, regardless of what they looked like, how much money they had, or where they lived. That was my core belief, but I never thought about it much until I popped this tape into my stereo for the first time. As Chuck D rapped about Louis Farrakhan and Malcolm X, I felt an urge to learn more about them and their beliefs. Within a few weeks, I was reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Let me tell you, that was a BIG hit when I took it with me on my visit to my grandparents and family in central Kansas.). As I’ve listened to Nation over the past couple weeks, I realized if the Wikipedia had existed in 1988, I would have burned that thing up learning about Huey P. Newton, H. Rap Brown, Bobby Seale, and Marcus Garvey.

Soon, I was questioning the life I lived, my environment, and the beliefs of people I knew and loved. Veiled racism became more apparent and I wondered why people were so willing to tell black jokes or default to stereotypes when discussing people who weren’t white, middle class, and suburban like us. Being 17, I was probably far more judgmental that I had any right to be (after all, it’s not like I was without fault or inconsistency in belief), but for a few weeks I imagined myself as a fist pumping, slogan shouting rabble rouser who was going to shake things up in my community. Naturally, I ended up taking a far more subtle route, but I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that 50% of my political and social beliefs have roots in It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. OK, it is an exaggeration, since PE was talking about matters of social and economic equality and race relations and not predicting where political discourse would be 20 years later. But that summer was a turning point in my life. I looked at the world differently, had new ideas for what a just and fair world would be like, and sought out like-minded people who were far more eloquent about their beliefs that I was capable of being. When people looked at me strangely when I rolled around in my parents’ cars, windows down, stereo turned up to black men shouting “I rebel with a raised fist, can I get a witness,” I smiled to myself, thinking that I was, in my own passive-aggressive way, advancing the platform of the Prophets of Rage.

There are better albums (although this is a great, great album), albums I’ve listened to more, but none has changed my life the way It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back did.

One final point. In my Revolver review I said I liked to imagine people listening to classic albums for the first time. This was that album for my life. A new genre, a group like no other before them, and an album that shook the foundations of popular music. When kids in the future imagine someone listening to Nation for the first time, they’re imagining me at 17, staring at my stereo with a look of awe and disbelief, my world turning upside-down.

“I got a letter from the government the other day.
I opened and read it.
It said they were suckers.”

First Gig

So how’d it go? Not bad. I’m fighting heartburn and indigestion today because I found out, after publication of course, that I made a minor but glaring error in my story. The kind of error that I glanced right over but a reader caught right away. Ugh.

But it was kind of cool to go down to the RCA Dome and cover a game as a working member of the media. I got to sit in the press box, along with a couple other writers who were covering the game. It wasn’t exactly Colts-Patriots. And there were maybe a couple thousand people in a stadium built to hold around 50,000. It was a bit surreal. There were four games scheduled, and I was covering #2 of the day. My editor told me to expect a blowout, but it ended up being a close and entertaining game, with the favored team pulling out a 91-yard drive in the fourth quarter to take the lead, then another 60-yard drive to kill the clock.

The biggest thing was that I had to keep stats for the entire game myself. Thanks to a quick tutorial from my editor last week, I had a pretty nifty way of keeping both a running play-by-play and an overall stats sheet. I had practiced the method once with a game on TV, but it still took about a quarter for me to get in a good rhythm where I was quickly noting who touched the ball, what they did, what the result of the play was, and then accounting for it on both pages. It was nice to have a clear and quickly updated scoreboard to reference when I couldn’t do the math quickly on big gains. I was also pleased, when looking at the Indy Star’s small story on the game yesterday, that my stats were in line with theirs, and I even had one scoring play right where they missed the correct yardage. I’m already kicking the corporate owned paper’s behind!

My post-game interviews were pretty brief. I was only able to catch the head coach (our paper only covers one of the teams, so I was only obligated to talk to that coach), so I didn’t get to ask the players any questions. Normally, on a Friday night, I’d have from the time the game ended until 10:45 to compile stats, do interviews, write a roughly 500 word story, and then get it submitted. No way could I have done all that Saturday. I’m glad my first experience came on a Saturday when the deadline was noon the following day. I’m already getting a nervous stomach over my first Friday night game. I’m sure the entire process gets easier, which will make that time constraint easy to work with, but I’m not looking forward to my first attempt at it.

So now I’m officially a professional sports writer. How about them apples?
 

The Curse Of Being Second

M. always gets her way. At least when it comes to music in the car. Perhaps it is because she knows how to shout the phrase “I WANT M. MUSIC” continuously until we play Laurie Berkner. Anyway, I thought it was telling when I made an immediate transition after dropping M. off at pre-school today. On the way to school, it was Laurie Berkner and friends. On the two-minute drive home, C. got to hear the last 30 seconds of “Paradise City” and the first 90 seconds of “Icky Thump.” She didn’t seem to mind. Smart kid.

I love M.’s reactions when we drop her off at and pick her up from school. In the mornings, she goes bananas when the teachers open her door and reach in to help her hop out. She kicks her legs wildly and screams in excitement. One of these days she’s going to give someone a foot in their teeth on accident. She’s added the loaded question of, “Don’t I look pretty today?” as they are helping her to the sidewalk. Last week, one teacher looked and me with a smile and said, “Don’t you just love it?” It is pretty funny, yes.

What I also love is watching the kids stream out at the end of the day. Here’s how the process works: As parents show up, we can either park and go get the kids ourselves (Or even walk, as we did one lovely day last week) or we can line our cars up along the curb and, three at a time, the teachers will bring the kids out and help them climb into the cars. All the kids have a slightly dazed look on their faces as they walk out, as if they’ve been playing like crazy for four hours and are badly in need of a nap. For some reason, M. always emerges with one arm up in the air, like she’s waving before she even sees us. I think she’s actually just trying to keep her bag on her shoulder. But, when she does see us, that dazed look disappears and she starts shouting, “There’s my daddy/mommy!” I like the fact she shows all the other parents that she is pleased to see her mom and dad. Makes us look like the best parents ever.

One more note about the pick-up/drop-off routine. There are rules for how it’s supposed to be done. You aren’t supposed to get out of your car if you line up. You aren’t supposed to buckle your kid into their seat. Instead, you stay in the driver’s seat and let the teacher help them into the car and close the door, then slowly pull ahead and do all the buckling down further up the curb a bit so that all the other kids can be placed in their cars quickly. Naturally, a number of parents violate these rules, so we’ve already had a note sent home with all kids clarifying how the system is supposed to work. Of course, I get all indignant anytime I have to wait because some other parent decides to get out and start buckling their kid in. I keep thinking of the scene in Mr. Mom when Jack takes the kids to school for the first time and goes the wrong way. “You’re doing it wrong!” the kids scream. I can’t find the exact quote, but as the other moms all honk furiously at him, one drives by, gives him the finger, and says, “South to drop-off, asshole!” I tell S. that one day I’m going to snap and recreate that moment, laying on the horn and shouting, “Pull up to strap in, asshole!” What was that I said about the other parents thinking we were perfect?

And So It Begins

I think I’ve vaguely touched upon the fact I was lining up a writing gig. It’s been confirmed for about two weeks, but I was waiting until all the paperwork was complete and I had my first assignment before I shared it with the world. This Saturday I will return to my earliest journalism roots and start covering high school sports for a local paper. I’ll be starting with a bang, too, as the first game I’ve been assigned will be played at the RCA Dome downtown. So while I’m watching a bunch of high school kids run around, I can pretend I’m watching Peyton, Dwight, and the rest of the Colts battle the Patriots or some other rival.

The paper is located in the county south of Indianapolis/Marion County and covers six high schools. Since they are a county paper (and a daily one at that) and independently owned and published, they still devote quite a bit of coverage to high school sports. I wasn’t sure if I would get to do any football right away because they have a pretty good crew of writers who cover football, but figured I would cover some other fall sports then really get into the mix when high school basketball begins later in the fall. I got a crash course on how to cover football today (although most schools keep stats, we’re responsible for tracking every stat on our own and submitting a complete box score with our story) along with some hints for how to craft a story to fit their style (Roughly 500 words, and since they don’t have a Sunday edition, my story won’t be the traditional “Here’s what happened” story).

It’s a pretty cool gig in that it fits into what I want and need to do at this point in my career. I want to work around my family commitments while still getting to write on a regular basis, building up my clip files, and honing my reporting skills. Another great thing about this paper is that they cover Indy pro sports closely since they are just 30 minutes from downtown. A friend of mine is their regular Colts beat writer. I like to think if I can handle high school hoops, I might get to do a Pacers game at some point. Actually, without knowing exactly what the process for getting to that point is, that’s one of my new career goals: to sit in press row for a Pacers game this season.

So, I’m about to go pro. Hopefully I’ll improve on those crappy, last-minute articles and columns I wrote for the Raytown Rayflector back in 1989.

Fives: Five Best Movie Experiences

(This was supposed to be posted Friday. I made the list mentally Thursday, then when I sat down to put it together, had a total brain cramp on one entry in the list. Naturally I remembered it over the weekend, so here’s my delayed list.)

Thursday I saw my first movie at a theater in over two years. I saw the Wedding Crashers while my brother-in-law was in town in August of ’05. He’s in town again, so we checked out The Bourne Ultimatum (Odd to be the only two people in the theater, but that’s what we get for taking in a 4:05 matinee on a Thursday). I’ve loved the Bourne series (I think I’ve read all the books) and its combination of classic Cold War spy thriller styles with the realities of the modern world. The final installment was no disappointment, perhaps the most intense movie experience I’ve ever had. During the chase/fight scene in Tangier, I literally started laughing out loud about 15 minutes into it. Not that it was funny, but it was so intense I needed some kind of release. It got me thinking, though, about what the five best experiences I’ve had seeing movies in theaters are. Hey, here’s a list of five things for you!

1 Die Hard. Bourne may be more intense, but it’s not fair to list it as #1 so soon after seeing it, so this list may change in a few months. It’s easy to forget what a big deal the first Die Hard was. I saw it on its second weekend and the theater was still jam-packed. It was the perfect combination of good guy – bad guy action, humor, and a just plausible enough plot. I sat near the screen, maybe second row, and remember leaning towards the screen during certain scenes, as if I was part of the action. With all the twists and turns in the plot, I think I was drained when I left the theater, although also exhilarated from such a great experience.
2 Bourne Ultimatum. A near endless series of chases and fights, like the first two movies, yet the story doesn’t get lost. The ridiculous cutting and camera angles made me feel like I was in the fights and chases, a key component for creating an intense experience. Not as funny as Die Hard (there’s little overt humor) but probably a little smarter. The Tangier chase is one of the all-time greats, although I had a hard time buying a high-speed chase through Manhattan on a work day.
3 Saving Private Ryan. A good war movie should make you fear for your safety a little. If you weren’t ducking during the Omaha Beach landing scene, you weren’t paying attention. It also made me appreciate how truly epic D-Day was.
4 The Empire Strikes Back. Standing in lines that wrapped around the block. Watching on the massive screen at the Midland theater, settled into their comfy, velvety seats. Summer of 1980. Good times! Star Wars affected me more after the film, but I didn’t know what I was getting into that day. With Empire, I had been waiting for three years and was ready for something amazing. I was not disappointed.
5 Coming to America. Back in the day, a few friends and I liked to see certain movies in certain settings. If it was a “black” movie, we liked to venture to theaters where the audience would at least be evenly split racially. We figured we would be getting a better experience that way. That generally proved to be true, although when a guy started yelling at the screen about how people shouldn’t hook up with different races during Jungle Fever, I got a little worried.

Anyway, Coming to America turned out to be the ideal test of our theory. We saw it in an area that was rapidly becoming predominantly black (the old Bannister Mall area) but was still frequented by enough whites where it was neutral territory. I’m pretty sure we saw it the first night, and the theater was packed. I was seated next to a very large black man. When I say very large, I mean fat. He was practically spilling into my seat the entire night. But he turned out to be a jolly fat man. Forget the fact that the entire audience was really into the movie, so much so that we were missing all kinds of lines because there was so much laughter. My neighbor to my left would start laughing, and when he saw I was laughing too, he would elbow me and nod, give me a little fist bump, or even slap my knee. We had just nodded to each other when we took our seats, but in a blow for racial harmony, he decided that for the next 90 minutes, we were going to be buddies. When Prince Akeem handed the bag of money to the destitute Duke brothers, I started howling. My new friend didn’t catch the reference and asked what was so funny. When I explained it, he too howled, gave me a high five, and then explained to his friends, who gave me knowing nods. For one night in southern Jackson County, Missouri, a few of us decided to toss aside our differences and enjoy one of the finest comedies of all-time as members of the human race, not as colors. I think we can all learn a lesson from this story, can’t we?

Seriously, it was a great time. It’s a shame Eddie can’t be that funny all the time anymore.

Where Should We Be?

Perfect fall afternoon: partly sunny and 74 with a breeze. Makes me wish I was 19 or 20 and skipping class to sit at a bar near campus and drink some cheap beer while we loaded up the jukebox with all our favorite songs.

 

A Bad Case Of The Whys

I was dumb for even thinking it. For some reason, since M. only used the word “why” occasionally, I thought we might miss out on the endless repetition of that word. Sadly, however, she’s come down with a bad case of the Whys. All of a sudden, she’s saying it roughly every 7.5 seconds. I blame those little monsters she shares her preschool classroom with. Who knows what other horrid habits she’s going to pick up from them. It’s enough to make me want to send her to public school!
<p style=”font-family:Helvetica Neue;”>She has said some other funny things, though. Last night I was trying to get a pull-up onto her before she and C. started rolling around on our bed (I have a hang-up about bare-assed kids being anywhere near my pillow). I told her, somewhat forcefully, to hold still so I could get it on. She extended her arms, hands up so her palms faced me, and said, “Chill out, Dad. Just chill out.” I had to pull her close to me so she couldn’t see me trying to keep from smiling and laughing. While I was hugging her, she started patting my back and said, “You’re my big, old boy, Dad. My big, old, sad boy.” This morning she was calling me her “Big, old chicken.” Where she got it from, I have no idea.</p>
<p style=”font-family:Helvetica Neue;”></p>

Now Playing: <strong>Hussel (feat. Afrikan Boy)</strong> from the album “Kala” by <a href=”http://www.google.com/search?q=%22M.I.A.%22″>M.I.A.</a>

Much Ado

Rick Ankiel. Apparently I’m supposed to be shocked, appalled, devastated, and disappointed by the revelations that Cardinal outfielder Ankiel received shipments of HGH three years ago. Over the weekend the sports pages, airwaves, and blogosphere were full of people expressing strong sentiments about the news. I kept wondering why.

First, I didn’t understand why Ankiel wasn’t subjected to the same assumptions that any other baseball player who suddenly performs at an exceptional level is subjected to. What about Ankiel made people think it was perfectly reasonable for him to get called up to the majors and immediately begin abusing pitchers without tossing around the J word? (The J word is juicing for those of you who haven’t been following along.) Instead, he was dubbed The Natural, which in the age of pharmaceuticals, clearly meant more than just having a sweet swing.

As I read a stream of outraged reactions over the weekend, I wondered why these people were so outraged. Haven’t we decided that everyone is at least under suspicion or at worst doing something more than just working out and eating their Wheaties? Were these people really outraged about what Ankiel was accused of, or where they just mad at themselves for forgetting about the times we live in and believing in someone for a moment?

Ankiel seems to be the textbook example of a player who would use PEDs. Most of the players who have tested positive since MLB began testing have been marginal players looking for the edge they need to stay in the league. Ankiel is much more talented than most of those players, but his situation is unique. He was a can’t-miss prospect who made it, then flamed out in as spectacular of a fashion as anyone has ever done. When he had a chance to remold himself and reclaim his career, wouldn’t it make perfect sense for him to look for a little something extra to make sure he returned to the majors? I’m not sure I understand how he earned the Clean card.

(Please note, I’m not implying that Ankiel has continued to use HGH or any other PED or saying that his story isn’t a great one.)

His case points out the problems with PEDs and why I’ve found it difficult to get too worked up about them. The line of what is legal is always moving. When reporters found andro in Mark McGwire’s locker in 1998, it was legal. A year later it was not. When Ankiel was allegedly using HGH, it was legal. Today it is a banned substance. If, and this is obviously a big if, Ankiel is clean today, how can we prosecute, castigate, or label him? If he’s always operated under the rules of the game, but changes in those rules alter how we view his past behaviors, how do we hold him responsible for that?

I hope players are clean, but I think most players are using something. Why wouldn’t you, if you could effectively mask what you were using or found something that there was no test for, be tempted to trade long-term health issues for a chance to make millions of dollars? If you know the people you’re competing with for roster spots are using, I imagine it is pretty easy to make the decision to use as well. That’s the reality of the times we live in, and it’s difficult for me to heap scorn on the few people we have proof have used when chances are most of the players I enjoy watching have probably used something during their careers as well.

What was most disturbing about the Ankiel case was how it was such a hot story and overshadowed the Troy Glaus story that broke at the same time. If you missed that, Glaus, the 2002 World Series MVP, was accused of receiving steroids over a two year period. The Angels beat Barry Bonds’ Giants in the ’02 Series, despite Bonds going nuts over those seven games. If the Giants had won, think of how many people would have called for an asterisk to be placed next to the result once Barry’s alleged steroid use became public knowledge. There would have been the outcry to end all outcries. I haven’t heard a peep about Glaus’ role in the Series and affect on its outcome. Somehow, the Ankiel story is more important. All because a bunch of people bought into his story without questioning him the way they would question any other player.

One last note, we went to dinner Saturday with a friend who is a big Cardinals fan. Naturally, I asked him what he thought about the issue. After talking through the details for a while, he said this. “If I was Mark Cuban, and had more money than I could ever spend, I would start investigating every single Met since 1986 to see what they were on.” It was the New York Daily News that broke the Ankiel story. To my friend, payback meant going after every Met. It was good to see some old fashioned, mid-80s NL East hate!

Now Playing: <strong>The Drugs Don’t Work</strong> from the album “Live from Mars” by <a href=”http://www.google.com/search?q=%22Ben%20Harper%20&amp;%20The%20Innocent%20Criminals%22″>Ben Harper &#038; The Innocent Criminals</a>

Top Five Albums: Revolver

No list of best albums is complete without a Beatles disk. I say that as someone who really didn’t like the Beatles for most of my life, finally learning about and appreciating their genius over the last five years or so. (My dislike for the Beatles was perhaps the first manifestation of my contrarian side. When I was little, my parents and their friends listened to the Beatles all the time, so I got sick of them and decided I didn’t like them. All the Wings albums my parents had didn’t help, either. I think John would have approved. “Don’t like something just because someone tells you to. Find your own way, man!”) But over those five years, I’ve become a true fan and now count them among my five favorite bands of all-time.

I know it’s a real stretch listing Revolver as my #4 favorite album. It’s generally considered one of the ten greatest albums of all time. While you can make an argument that any one of five Beatles albums is their best, I think Revolver is clearly their finest effort. It fits into the sweet spot of their career, when they were just beginning to expand their sound but had not yet dissolved into a band in name only. Where the later albums were basically collections of John, Paul, and George songs (along with a few that John would write for Ringo), Revolver still sounds like a true group effort. The band was beginning to see just how far they could stretch things, how much freedom the studio offered, and how they could sing about more than just falling in love or being chased by teenage girls.

It doesn’t hurt that Revolver includes both my favorite Beatles song, “And Your Bird Can Sing,” and what I feel may be their most influential song, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which I argued awhile back is the root from which all alternative music grew. Aside from those, it includes two other great Lennon songs (“I’m Only Sleeping,” and “She Said She Said”); three great McCartney songs (“Eleanor Rigby,” “Here, There, and Everywhere,” and “For No One”); George Harrison’s first major statement as a songwriter (“Taxman”); and a song custom-made for Ringo (“Yellow Submarine”). Finally, the album shows exactly where the band members were headed in their writing over the next decade.

One of my favorite things to do with albums that changed music is to try to imagine the reactions of people when the album was first released. With Revolver, I like to imagine a young girl, maybe 16 or so and deep in the grips of Beatlemania in 1966, taking the album home and placing it on her small turntable. She thought “Taxman” was a little strange, but her dad always complained about taxes and it was nice that her dad and the Beatles agreed on something (And who was that singing? John or George?). “Eleanor Rigby,” “Here There and Everywhere,” and “For No One” were beautiful. “Yellow Submarine” was lots of fun to sing along with. “And Your Bird Can Sing,” was a bouncy little rocker. “Got to Get You Into My Life,” was different, but also sounded kind of mature, and the boys were growing up. And then “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Nice girls didn’t drop f-bombs back in the 60s (or at least in my little fantasy they didn’t), but I imagine the girl sitting and staring at her turntable, slack-jawed, and thinking, “What the fuck was that?” and seriously considering not listening to the album again just because of it.

Revolver covers an immense amount of territory, jetting off in dozens of different directions. It’s remarkable that the album sounds so good when the band was exploring so many new sounds and ideas. Some of their later albums, notably the White Album, suffer from trying to cover too much ground. Revolver, though, was the perfect statement at the perfect moment. Along with the Beach Boys and Bob Dylan, the Beatles were leading rock and pop into an exciting new age where writing music meant more than just crafting a dozen or so pop songs that lasted 3:30. Revolver is the album that every band since has tried to equal.

First Day(s)

Big day today in la casa de B. It was M.’s first day of preschool and C.’s first day of class at Gymboree. As I have shared before, we’ve been working hard the last two weeks to get M. to understand that we would be dropping her off at preschool and leaving – no mommies or daddies allowed inside. She seemed to grasp the concept, but we were both a little worried about how her reaction would be when the time came to leave her behind. I had a realization this morning that I needed to quit worrying: sure, it was a little scary to be leaving our daughter with someone who wasn’t a family member for the first time in her life (spoiled kid!), but we’re paying tuition, damnit, and not only do the teachers know how to deal with these situations, but they’re being paid to deal with them! So I chilled a bit.

M. was very excited when she woke up. She thought we were leaving as soon as she got up and was a little disappointed when she learned she had to get through breakfast, a bath, getting dressed, etc. before we could actually head out. She was dying to leave at 8:00, and I explained that her teacher wouldn’t be at the school until 9:00. Luckily, we actually went to Mass a week or so back, walked over to the school afterwards to check it out, and needed someone to unlock to doors for us. I told M. that her teacher had the keys and we couldn’t get in until she was there. Remembering her experience two weeks earlier, that made perfect sense and she stopped asking.

Our church/school is literally three minutes from the house, so we piled the family into the van at about ten ’till and drove over, M. nearly breaking her carseat straps from her excitement. Finally, the moment of truth. They do a curbside drop-off/pick-up system, so we pulled up, popped open the door, and before S. or the teacher’s aide could start to help M. out, she started screaming. Good screaming, thankfully. “I’M AT SCHOOL! YAYYYYYY!!!” S. helped her down, the aide pointed at the door to her classroom, and M. sprinted to it, waving and laughing at us as she disappeared inside.

That was easy.

Perhaps too easy. I expected the phone to ring while we were at Gymboree saying she had the mother of all meltdowns and our presence was required. Happily, that did not happen.

So we continued on to Gymboree. I never went when M. took a class when she was about 20 months old, so this was my first time as well. We weren’t worried about C. at all. Saturday, we went to a local mall that had a play area, and she dove right in despite the fact a number of kids that were way too big to be using the play area were in it (she got jacked twice by older kids, and I was busy shooting some serious dirty looks at the parents who were letting ten-year-olds play on slides made for two-year-olds. I snapped at one kid to watch what he was doing after he knocked her off the steps leading to the slide. It was mass chaos. We’re never taking her there on a weekend again.).

Class was a bit of a trip. This was a level three class, covering 10-16 months, I believe. For the first, and perhaps last time in her life, C. was one of the big kids. Most of the others looked to be right around 12 months, and none were as sure on their feet as she is. She was racing around, climbing on things, bouncing balls, doing all kinds of tricks. Even though we’ve just gone through the phase, it is amazing how different kids can be in such a small age range. While other kids would sit on their moms’ laps looking at the bubbles the teacher was blowing, C. would push herself away from me and march right up to the teacher and say, “OOOOOOOOO!” She was also the only kid who could “sing” along to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Yeah, so I’m basically saying C. kicked some serious ass in class today!

S. tried to let me go it alone, watching from the lobby area. But as I was the only dad there, I forced her to come in. All the other moms and kids had been there before. It was bad enough being the only dad; I didn’t want to be the only person who didn’t know the words to the songs, etc. So S. came in and helped.

C. loved the class, and we’ll probably give her a couple more and then ask about moving her up since this stuff seems a little basic for her. It is great, though, to have her in class at the same time as M. is in school. C. will only go on Tuesdays while M. is in class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

At 1:00, when we picked M. up, she was still in a good mood, and there were no notes slipped into her bag saying she had a huge meltdown or anything like that. She did have a bandage on her right knee, and she told us that she had fallen down during outside play time. She said it hurt, but didn’t seem to be favoring it at all. However, after her nap, she insisted on walking around like Kerri Shrug: knee stiff, toe pointed down, limping badly. I think she was just being a drama queen, because when S. or I wasn’t looking, she would walk normally. She’s already picking up bad habits!

So our girls are out getting socialized, which is always a good thing.

Oh, and I took a drug test today. Assuming they don’t test for caffeine, next week I will become a paid sportswriter. I’ll share more about that once every i has been dotted and t crossed.

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