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Showing posts from September, 2010

What to Do about Middle School

The mysterious they who proclaim themselves to be expert on all things related to child rearing say that middle school is a critical time in a child's life. Those mysterious pundits whose expertise comes from fortune cookies, guest posts and gumption would have me believe that the wrong choice in middle schools will set off a chain reaction of misfortune that will culminate with me curled up on the floor in a fetal position begging my child for forgiveness. I wish that I could say that I was making this up, but I can't. Whenever I hear or read something so silly I find myself engaging Jack's patented look of disbelief and irritation. It is so effective that even the Shmata Queen recoils from it, but I digress. Join me for a moment as I walk you through an upcoming parenting dilemma known as what school do I send my child to. For the moment let's pretend that years of private school tuition haven't kicked my butt and I am flush with cash, so tuition is not an iss

Stuff That is Worth Reading

The posts are fast and furious around here. Got some new material coming shortly, topics include middle school, dad blogs and why a beach requires salt water. In the interim take a moments to check out some of the recent material here. There are more than a few nuggets to read this week. 2010 Is Still the Year Of The Daddy Blogger Jericho A Word To The Wives Cosby- Children are Brain Damaged The Sweaty Suit Tuesday Morning News of Note More Midnight Music Madness Your Blog is Your Online Resume Children and Changes Dad Blogs, Happiness And Blog Templates Happiness Requires Action Dancing at the Movies - Music Video Dad As A Role Model

2010 Is Still the Year Of The Daddy Blogger

My six year-old has been running around asking everyone she knows if they know the meaning behind "Friends, Romans and Countrymen, lend me your ears."  Since she is a clearly a child prodigy I asked her to tell me why 2010 is NOT the year of the daddy blogger. And then my beautiful, witty and extremely bright girl said, "what is a blogger." Apparently, I a self proclaimed daddy blogger have failed to educate her in the ways of social media. She doesn't know what a blog is, doesn't have a Twitter account or a Facebook page. The girl hasn't the foggiest idea what it means to be LinkedIn, StumbledUpon, or Reddit. But say Inigo Montoya and she'll join you in saying "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to Die!" And I have got to tell you that I appreciate knowing that she is serious so be smart and don't kill me or you will face her terrible wrath and I'll probably haunt you. So my friend the blogger with

Jericho

(For Fragments of Fiction- new dad blog post coming later this evening) I met Jericho in a time and place that no longer exist. The people we were are long since gone. Now they drift through time and space in a place that I call memory or perhaps it is just my imagination. If you ask Jericho she'd probably push for imagination. She'd want to say that what I remember has been obscured by my own desire for the future. She'd tell you that it was never as good as I remember it. But if you took her aside and caught her in one of those moments she'd admit that it was exactly the way I remember. She'd admit that as the queen of low expectations it is easier to think of things that way. She'd tell you that to really remember is too painful, too tragic. So old Jericho set up those walls, long and tall, deep and wide. She lies in wait behind those walls waiting for the future to come. She lies behind those walls and watches the days pass in front of her.

A Word To The Wives

Here is some friendly advice that I like to call a word to the wives, specifically those of you who enjoy blogging. A blog is a wonderful tool that you can use to build relationships with others, express your thoughts and learn about yourself. When you are upset it is useful to use your blog as a place to vent and certainly if you have friends in the blogosphere it is a good place to find support. However, I recommend that you not use it as a place to write stories about how your husband pisses you off. You may think that it is funny to paint him as a buffoon or moron. You may find that it feels good to have a good laugh at his expense. You may find that sharing your stories is cathartic and that you resent him less for whatever it is that he is doing to irritate you. If you choose to do this you should bear in mind that it might not serve you as well as you would like. He might find your stories to be less than cute. He might decide that it makes him angry for you to share these s

The Sweaty Suit

They tell me that yesterday was the hottest day in recorded history and that today will be cooler. Yesterday was so hot that when it hit 113 the thermometer broke, at least that is what they say. I have a different opinion, I think that sucker was jumped off the wall and headed out to the beach. Unlike many of my friends, family and neighbors I like the heat. The heat is filled with all sorts of fond memories and whispers of the future. It reminds me of a time many years ago when I was a kid working for Pitney Bowes. That kid spent part of his time cold calling businesses around the City of Angels. Dressed in a black suit he would walk from office building to office building with a dream of making a buck. There were more than a few days where I'd find myself frantically trying to mop up the sweat off of my brow so that I could try to get the receptionist in these offices to connect me to the person who purchased office equipment. Those ladies were the gatekeepers to the people

Tuesday Morning News of Note

More Midnight Music Madness Your Blog is Your Online Resume Children and Changes Dad Blogs, Happiness And Blog Templates Happiness Requires Action Dancing at the Movies - Music Video Dad As A Role Model A Daily Stop Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Offici... Ok, it is not really Tuesday morning yet. It is almost a quarter to 1 A.M. and I am awake. In a few short hours I will wake up and start two projects that I dread- but I can't put them off any longer. Resolution, I seek resolution and I shall find it. Don't know why, but when I think about one of them I hear the sounds of a battlefield- cannons to be precise. Just this booming noise that repeats itself over and over. Confession time: Sometimes when I find myself feeling a little bit stressed I think of the theme to Rocky and I feel better. Goofy trick, but it works.

More Midnight Music Madness

La Tortura -Shakira feat. Alejandro Sanz Wake Me Up When September Ends - Green Day What Hurts The Most - Rascal Flatts Your Wildest Dreams - The Moody Blues Isn't Life Strange - The Moody Blues No Time - The Guess Who Time Of The Season - The Zombies Zombie - The Cranberries Should I Stay or Should I Go - The Clash In the End - Linkin Park Insomnia - Faithless A Country Boy Can Survive - Hank Williams Jr. I Will Find You - Clannad Faithfully - Glee Version The Bad Touch - The Bloodhound Gang

Your Blog is Your Online Resume

Ten thousand years ago the editor of a college newspaper sat back and listened to a professor lecture a room full of students about how to market themselves to publications that were searching for writers. Since it was the ice age she didn't talk about Photoshop, PowerPoint or any of the myriad tools that we now have access to. Back then the tale she told was to be diligent in cutting our your clips so that they could be displayed in a professional manner. You wanted your portfolio to look beautiful because sometimes your potential employer would spend more time looking at it then reading the articles contained within. I always thought that was ridiculous and stupid. Because if I was the one doing the hiring I would be more interested in the quality of their writing then how well they could package it. I was young, dumb and naive. At that time I really believed that the working world was filled with people who would go to work and do their jobs because that is what they got pai

Children and Changes

The first weekend of the Fall is coming to a close. In a few hours the kids will be showered, shaved and shipped off to sleep. Ok, there will not be any shaving but that won't last forever. I know this because yesterday my son was an infant who slept upon my shoulder and now he is a fourth grader who will be a teen tomorrow. He and his sister are playing together now. They are just across the room playing some kind of board game and for the moment they couldn't be happier. But like the weather in Seattle this change in a moment. One gesture, one word or the dog can set off a series of screams. These two have a love/hate relationship that isn't that different from the one I had with my own sisters. It makes me proud to see them grow like this. They have a bond that will not be broken and I rest comfortably that they will always look out for each other. Doesn't mean that I won't continue to stress the importance of family and why they need to look out for each oth

Happiness Requires Action

The secret to happiness is contained within this post. That is not hyperbole or a marketing trick. With this one post I am going to put Tony Robbins and his cohorts out of business. With one post I am going to destroy the mental health industry because I am going to provide you with the secret to being happy. Happiness requires action That is it. Boil it down and that is the root of being happy- action. Ok, that is not going to be enough to kill Sir Tony and company. His business isn't going to be impacted by this nor do I have to worry about a group of angry social workers/therapists putting out a contract on me. So what does that statement mean. Is it a silly slogan that will one day sell millions of t-shirts. Is it an off the cuff remark that I am trying to make sound powerful and significant? Well, it could be all or none of those things, but I like to believe that it is meaningful and something that works. I can even tie it into blogging. I blog because I like to recor

Dad As A Role Model

Someone taught my son how to curse. Rumor has it that the same person taught his little sister how to do it too. I'd like to blame Charles Barkley for it but he is not a role model . That mysterious person who taught these children to use four letter words looks a bit like me. He even sounds like me, but I know that he can't possibly be me because he isn't as handsome. Not only isn't he as handsome, he is not as smart, funny, witty or wise. He is just some dumbass that occasionally walks around the house in a pair of shorts, t-shirt and a backwards baseball cap. I know that he can't be me because that dude is missing some hair, has a bit more belly than he should and lines on his forehead. So clearly he cannot be me. The other day I heard my son belt out a few lines of colorful language and thought it is time for a reminder not to speak like that. So I wandered over and asked him where he learned those words. He looked up at me and said that I taught him. I shoo

A Daily Stop

I don't know how, who, when or what made me aware of Letters of Note . What I do know is that I get a lot of pleasure from the site. It is a collection of correspondence that I find to be quite interesting. Some of them are letters from celebrities and some of them are from people that are interesting for other reasons- such as the one the Kamikaze pilot wrote during WWII. It has become a daily stop for me. Check it out.

Johnny Calls a Psychic

Sometimes the best way to deal with the challenges in life was to let go and laugh. Just laugh at the absurdity of all. Just laugh at the surreal, the bizarre and the incomprehensible moments and events of the day. It is not always easy to do, often it is quite hard. When you look at your world and wonder why the wheels haven't fallen off of the bus you have to ask why laugh. Really, if things are serious and you feel that the situation is grim it can be hard to find your smile. But life is about perspective and sometimes when things get to be that crazy the first thing you lose is...perspective. You can become so close to the situation that you can't see the start or the end. There were more than a few occasions where Johnny described feeling like he was sailing around the world, except the motor and mast were broken. He'd stand on the deck and slowly turn in a circle. There was no land to be seen, just endless miles of ocean. It wasn't hard to imagine what it wa

A Musical Interlude

El Dorado - Iron Maiden It is A Livin Thing - ELO Beth - KISS You're My Best Friend - Queen Fooled Around and Fell In Love - Elvin Bishop Strange Magic - ELO W*O*L*D* - Harry Chapin I'd Love To Change The World - Ten Years After Call Me - Blondie Highway To Hell - AC/DC Shoot To Thrill - AC/DC Junebug - B52s

I got my ass kicked at Dancing With The Stars

I had no idea that a trip to see Dancing With The Stars could make life so interesting. No idea that a few hours that were supposed to be devoted to Foxtrots and Waltzes and Paso Dobles would lead to being handcuffed next to a beautiful woman. Yes, I said handcuffed next to- not handcuffed to a beautiful woman. And to be clear in different circumstances it would have been great to have been handcuffed to a beautiful woman.  Like in a private room where it was just the two of us with some wine, a fine meal and maybe some soft music. Let's be honest Mighty Jack has some game, but it is severely hampered by sitting in the back of a squad car because for some odd reason women don't find the idea of getting it on in the same place as the crackheads, rapists and murderers. Why that is I'll never know. I just classify it as one of life's mysteries. But I digress. I suppose that some background is necessary. My friend Michael called and invited us to go with him and a few p

I Am My Own Worst Enemy

" Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine ." Ralph Waldo Emerson This has become one of my favorite quotes. I have turned it into a bit of a mantra. It is a reminder that the man in the mirror is responsible my success or lack thereof. It is a reminder that I must always hold myself accountable for my actions. Accountable and responsible for what I have or don't have. Accountable and responsible to placing stumbling blocks before myself and determining how to remove them. It is not always easy to do. Not always easy to look in the mirror and accept my role in how things play- but necessary. Necessary because my acceptance of playing a part in things gone wrong also necessitates my accepting credit for good things. It is not always easy. I am very hard on myself and have always been so. If you read through the ramblings here you will see what I have said about being good enough. I don

Jack The Fireman

She called it Grief Revisited and it made me think about a bunch of things such as saying goodbye to my grandmother earlier this year. A few years ago I still had three grandparents and now I only have one. Grandma's voice is saved on my voicemail. It is a short message with her and grandpa singing happy birthday to me. Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht.- That is Yiddish for Man plans and God Laughs . And if ever there was a time where I understood that to be true it is now. I called this post Jack The Fireman because that is what I am doing-putting out fires. Got a million things going on that all require my attention and it feels like half of them are things that have to be dealt with yesterday. If this was an action movie I'd be the hero that is driving the car on the freeway. We're doing well over a 100 MPH except we are going the wrong way. Horns honk and fists are being shaken at me. The other drivers think I am crazy and maybe I am. But that is immaterial now becaus

Fragments of Fiction Update

If you are one of the 17 long time readers you know that when I am not pretending to be a daddy blogger I am working on one of my 39 unpublished novels. Here in cyberspace you get to pull up a cyber seat and read the mutterings, utterings and musings of a half crazy mad man named Jack. Consider for a moment that one day I could be a published author of 39 books who managed to sell a grand total of 8-31-68-5-9-69 books.  What, you say that I didn't include a real number there. Well brother if you hang around long enough you might get the chance to read a story called The Return of The Shmata Queen or how one man tamed the crazy clevelander turned Texan. Also known as "I told you that LeBron would never stay with the Cavs" It is tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury- signifying nothing. Oops, just plagiarized Shakespeare. So here is the real purpose of this post. I am trying to collect all of the inserts for Fragments of Fiction. The goal is to eventually take

Dad The Hero

"Dad, I need to write about my hero, so I am going to write about you." Those are the words that my son shared with me yesterday morning. Words that thrilled and terrified me. He looked up at me with a sparkle in his eyes and a huge smile on his face. I smiled and put my hand on his shoulder. There were so many things that I wanted to say and yet no words came out of my mouth. I looked at him and understood the feeling and where it comes from. I feel that same way about my father, but he has earned it. Me, I am not sure if I really have. Can't help but wonder what he would think if he really knew all that there was to know about me. It is sort of a silly thought because at almost ten years-old there is no reason to have that kind of knowledge. He doesn't really need it. No reason for him to worry or be concerned about some of the things that occupy my mind. No reason for him to know about the insomnia, headaches and stomachaches that have helped remove some of the

Jewish Humor

A couple of jokes for you. "A man was walking through the woods to go visit a dear friend. As he was walking he stumbled and his yarmulke fell off of his head. So he bent over to pick it up and upon standing up he noticed a bear standing in front of him. He froze in fear and began to tremble. As he stood there he watched in amazement as the bear stood up and placed a yarmulke on his own head and began to daven. He thought to himself, "I am saved, I have found the only Jewish bear in creation!" So he breathed a sigh of relief and began to daven and give thanks to G-d. He finished just in time to hear the bear utter the last words of the bear's prayer -- hamotzi lekhem min ha-aretz.*" (*the blessing that is said before meals) And "A Priest and a Rabbi are riding in a plane. After a while, the Priest turns to the Rabbi and asks, "Is it still a requirement of your faith that you not eat pork?" The Rabbi responds, "Yes, that

What I Would Say

A man sits in the corner of a coffee shop and closes his eyes. His cup is half full but not in the philosophical sense of the word.  His life is good, rich and full of love and meaning. Ear buds extend from his computer into his ears and one can only guess what it is that he is listening to. His head bobs back and forth and a soft smile flashes across his face. It is not clear whether his solitude is self imposed or if he is waiting for someone. At least these are the thoughts and feelings that I have gathered from a brief glance at his corner of the room. As an avid people watcher and story teller I can't help but look and wonder. It is part of my process- that is the fancy term I use for how I develop characters and story lines for my books. I head out into the world and set up a place to sit and watch. I stare at the people around me and develop the stories of their lives. The woman standing in line in front of me has a story. She is in her early forties and recently divorce

A Pirate Sails For Parts Unknown

Another year has come and gone. Rosh Hashanah has made its appearance followed by Yom Kippur and here I sit, Jack the pirate king. Or is it more accurate to say on this Talk Like a Pirate Day that Jack the Pirate King no longer runs a kingdom. The man who mastered all that he saw got caught up in this and that and in the process lost his kingdom. Would that be more truthful and more accurate to say that now he rules over a kingdom of ash and shadows. The man who was the Pirate King could be referred to as he who has mastered memory and nothing more. Or maybe not. Maybe the joy and beauty of being a pirate is that what you lose can always be recovered because a pirate is not limited by rules or convention. Been a while since I raised my flag and spent time as the scourge of the seas. Been far too long since the thunder of my cannons and the clang of my steel caused men to quiver in fear. Been far too long since that wench brought me some grog and more than a while since I spent tim

Words And Music

Thoughts, ideas, words and images wrestle for top billing inside my head. Sadness, anger and frustration are involved in a duel with hope, joy and happy memories. I had thought about saying that the former were involved in a death match with the latter but it just doesn't work. Doesn't work because it is a bit more melodramatic than I want and because it simply isn't real. Thinking, feeling and thoughtful humans will never reach a place where they can hide from darkness and that is ok. It is not that I am a fan of sadness and disappointment but rather because they help us understand joy. They help to bring balance and appreciation to our lives and while I will always wish for more joy than sadness I won't cry if it it doesn't happen. Woman, if you'd pull your damn head out of the mud and much you might be surprised at what you see and what you hear. I did the best that I could to turn off my mind so that I could float along the sea inside my head. Did it bec

6th Week of The Daddy Blog Hop

The rules... 1. You need to be a father. New father, old father, soon to be father, want some day to be a father, father...doesn't matter. You just need to be a dad. (Or a really awesome mom!) 2. You must own and maintain your own blog. 3. If you meet the requirements for rules one and two, look back over your posts from the past week, from Friday to Friday. Re-read them all. 4. Choose the post you feel was your particular BEST for the week. It can be funny, helpful, sad, dramatic, deep, light...whatever. Pick the post that most reflects you and what your awesome blog has to offer. 5. Follow the host. That's me. It's quick and painless and I always follow back. (This part is optional, but oh so appreciated!) 6. Put your blog address and a short description of the post in the Linky link located below. Be short but concise. (You know...like twitter!) 7. After you are on the list, surf the posts of the other dads and follow as many as you

The Beach

Twenty-five years ago at the height of the John Hughes era a teenage boy and his friends walked down HaYarkon street in Tel Aviv and headed towards the water. Endless hours running around shirtless had taken his olive skin and turned it a golden brown. Americans would approach him slowly and ask in broken Hebrew for directions to the bathroom or for recommendations for a place to go eat. He thought it was funny to let them struggle to ask the question and then answer them in flawless English. Sometimes they would look at him and ask how he had learned to speak English and he would say that 16 years in Los Angeles helped. It was the truth, but not everyone believed him. More than a few had told him that they wished that they could speak Hebrew as well as he spoke English. It made him laugh to hear that. He spoke decent Hebrew, but had a thick American accent that made him self conscious. But he quickly learned how to fool other Americans into thinking that he was Israeli or from s

I May Be in Your Vacation Photos

I am a bit puckish in nature. I love silly tricks, slapstick comedy and all sorts of goofy stuff . Some might even say that I have a bit of a twisted sense of humor. In my younger years I went through a phase in which I thought that it was great fun to surreptitiously place myself in the background of pictures and home videos. It was a game in which my friends and I would try to see who could end up in the most. We had to use the honor system as it was virtually impossible to verify who was the actual winner. There was one basic rule to this game. We avoided wedding, funeral, Bar-Mitzvah or similar type occasion photos. The game was a lot of fun and lent itself to some memorable moments. Back in 1988 I was in Georgetown visiting a friend when we decided to go to see the Washington Monument. While we were there I decided that there was no better moment than the present to try out my hand as a tour guide. So I spent a few minutes searching for a good target and identi

Who I Am Now Is Not Who I Was- Atonement

Yom Kippur begins tomorrow night and I am at a loss because who I am now is not who I was. That is the sort of cryptic, new agey comment that I hate. I look at it and say what the fuck does that mean. It is gibberish and not the authentic frontier gibberish that they used in Blazing Saddles. When I asked Scary Mommy if she was interested in a guest post she said yes and asked me to provide a short biography. Here is what I shared there: The Jack B. is a writer and author of 39 unpublished books and three screenplays. A former athlete and would be superhero he still fights for truth, justice and the American Way. Though he may look like a grown man, don’t fool yourself he is still a boy at heart. When he is not engaged in Walter Mitty like fantasies he is a husband, father and friend and blogs at Random Thoughts . Some of that is true and some of that is what I want to be true. I am not going to bother providing you with the details of what is what- read it and decide for y