Sep 28, 2011


Unless you've been living under a rock, or just not reading my blog, or avoiding me completely, then you know that in a couple months, WIFE and I will be welcoming our second kid.  He's a boy, and though he's still without a name, he does have a penis.  I've seen the picture.  We're both really excited, for many reasons, but as his "MOVE OUT OF UTERUS" date draws near, I have to admit to some slight panic.

Having one kid is tough. It's a complete adventure, full of giant laughs, lots of danger, and a man's share of the unexpected. Just last night, MONSTA got a bug bite, but instead of a tiny welt, her entire hand blew up like a birthday balloon.  I didn't even know that could happen. Surprise twists and turns aside, however, most of parenting is about the ROUTINE. Curiously, any discussion of this DAILY GRIND was left out of my pre-baby guide books.  But it's true. Once MONSTA could walk, our daily life became defined by routine.  And the taller she, and her hair, gets, the more rigid and complex the routine becomes. If my life were a math problem, it'd look like this: 

So if this sunny outlook is rattling in my brain 24/7, imagine what I'm feeling about tossing in a little multiplication.  


We'll make it.  It's been five years, and MONSTA is still alive.  She's playing hooky right , on account of the  lobster claw she's sporting, but the swelling will eventually go down.  And when it does, she'll go back to school, and when that happens...welcome back, Routine.  What would I ever do without you? 


Sep 21, 2011

Baby Name Game: FLYNN

FLYNN: "ruddy" and also "red-haired one."  

WIFE suggested this.  Wow, what deep meaning.  "Red hair?"  We're really shooting for the stars now.  My continued calls for strong,  titan-esq names like MALONE, HENRY, and TRUMP continue to fall on deaf ears.  The battle rages on...

Sep 20, 2011

"If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right." 
-- Bill Cosby

Sep 19, 2011

New Review: Arias with a Twist

One of the things I love getting to do is reviewing theatre.  Last weekend, I covered the puppet-fueled extravaganza ARIAS WITH A TWIST.  Read about it here.

PS:  What handsome and hilarious volunteer theatre reviewer sat in front of the successful but shy Village Voice writer Michael Musto?  We'll never tell.  (it was me)


After three weeks, thirteen morning drop-offs, and countless lies of "School is fun.  You'll love it,"  today, finally...NO TEARS.
No Tears!  

MONSTA started going to school three years ago, most of which she has enjoyed.  Last year, she didn't cry once, and that was at a Catholic school.  So now, she's going to a charter school, where it's illegal to stress the "fires of hell" and other horrible things, but still, every morning, she's Blanch DuBois.  Tugging on pants, death gripping to our legs, furiously waving a white handkerchief as the Kindergarten train pulls out of the station.  Because of her experience, we didn't think she'd have any problem with the big K.  But we were wrong.  She's cried every single day except for the first, which I assume means she thought she was on a really long play date.  She had no clue that for the next 13 YEARS, this is her life.    

But this morning, finally, a breakthrough.    Though not "jazzed" or "psyched," - her look was, according to WIFE, "melancholy," - MONSTA'S cute lil' face was DRY.  I hope this is a trend, but I doubt it.  She's a dramatic kid, and what's a better show-stopper than a big weep as her mother and I walk out of the drop-off zone, perhaps never to return again.  But as dads and moms know, even one day without tears is a welcomed gift from the gods.  

Sep 17, 2011

Baby Name Game: MALONE

Today's Potential Baby Name:  MALONE.

I don't know what this says about a kid, having the first name Malone, but I think it's something like this:

Sep 13, 2011

America's National CRAPtime

If you follow baseball, then you've heard about the trouble the sport has attracting African American youth.  It's not that they aren't playing sports.  It's just that baseball isn't at the top of their list like it once was.  I can tell you that this is true.

On Sunday, I was out on the bike.  An old grey Firestone (the tire folks) I call the "Grouse Goose." Don't ask.   So I'm on the bike and the day is just lovely.  I'm tooling along, looking like Clark Gable in shorts.  I head around Astoria Park, which butts up against the East River. The views are stunning and dramatic, and it being September 11th, I feel like this city really is invincible. If I was supposed to be afraid of terrorists, I wasn't right then.  If you head south past the park, you'll come to a giant hill.  At the top of the hill is a sign:  "Waterfront Pathway." Lovely, right? So I cautiously proceed down a steep hill (Firestone good at tires, not at brakes). As I do, I can't help but think, "Hey, this neighborhood isn't as nice as I'd imagine, being waterfront property and all."  But it's day light, and today we're all Americans, so I travel on.

Certainly it's true that "Waterfront Pathway" does refer to a serene promenade that runs beside the East River, offering unique views of Roosevelt Island.  What is not inferred in "Waterfront Pathway" is that you're now in the middle of a GIANT HOUSING PROJECT.  Your bicycle promenade is their sidewalk.   Strangely, for a former victim of violent crime while passing through similar neighborhoods, I was feeling fine.  You see, the day was THAT LOVELY.  A kind sun. Mild temps. Patriotism.  Then, up ahead, I see them.

About one hundred yards in front, a gang of boys gather.  Not a gang as in "Holy %$&?, the Latin Kings!", but in the "Hey, that's a large group of young men."  I can see them, but I'm not worried because they look to be playing football.  My anxiety rises, however, when I notice they are running to sit on the park bench that rests beside the path.  "This ain't good," I think. As I get closer, they begin sitting very nicely.  Quiet.  Backs straight. Hands...out of sight. Never trust a kid sitting still.  When I am about ten yards away, they begin counting. One...two...three!  I pass them, and as I do hear the splat of water balloons on concrete.

First thought: "Whew.  I'm dry."  Second thought: "Pedal faster, Lance ArmWrong!"  Third thought:  "Wow.  Those kids would make terrible pitchers.  I was molasses, and they still couldn't hit me from five feet away.  I bet these kids never play baseball."

Sep 11, 2011


From the corner of 35th Avenue and 41st Street in Astoria, the end of our block, you can see the lights that burn in memory of those who died on September 11, 2001.  You can see them from many parts of our neighborhood.  I imagine you can see them from most everywhere in New York.  That makes sense.  Every person who lived in New York at that time, at least those I've met, has a immediate connection to the tragedy.  Either they lost someone, or they knew someone who lost someone, or they themselves had to run from the rubble.  

Certainly no one has a more important connection to 9/11 than children.  Recently, I saw on a program that there THOUSANDS of kids who were orphaned by the attack.  The rest of their lives, without a parent, because of hate and ignorance. Without getting political, it's fair to say that in the military response, thousands more were added to this number.  As long as I live, I will refuse to see the fairness or justification in such man-made loss.  

Whatever your feelings, today, tomorrow, and the next day - but especially today - hold your kid close.  Tell them you love them, even if they're acting nasty.  Parenting is no cake walk, but I'm grateful to be around to do it. And today of all days, give some good thoughts to those who aren't. 


Sep 10, 2011


I've been wanting to see the new Planet of the Apes for a while.  Normally skeptical about big Hollywood pics, but based on this trailer, I'd say it looks pretty awesome!  Those CGI gorilla suits are SOOOO real!!!

Sep 9, 2011


If I wasn't a real parent already, I am now.  WIFE and I just got back from our first PTA meeting.  Because MONSTA goes to a charter school, the group is actually called a PTO, but if you think I waited this long to join the PTO, think again.  I'm calling it PTA, and if someone has a problem, they can stick it in their sub-committee. 

People like WIFE and I join the PTA because we want to make sure the school is as strong as possible.  After all, it's got the crucial task of making sure MONSTA isn't dumb.  If she turns out dumb, then she lives at home forever, which means even longer before I'm free to walk around in my custom-made birthday suit.  So yeah - I got a stake in it.  But how long I can stand this group is anyone's guess.  I can't imagine a better example of why government doesn't work than the PTA.  If I'm ever become a libertarian, they're to blame.  

Today, in our first meeting - a mere 8 days into the school year - things got HE-TED!  First, folks come late.  Alright.  We all get settled, squished onto these tiny lunch tables, and as I naively expected, the meeting begins smoothly.  After all, we're here for a common purpose. We're here to help.  We're here for...the children. 

But this is a group of humans, shut in all summer with their insane children, waiting out Hurri-Quakes, and watching CNN.  I should have known better. With pleasantries out the window, some lady starts pushing us to vote on giving 800 clams to an unknown gym teacher so he can buy uniforms for an after-school football team.  I'm sorry, but everybody knows that if you're gonna ask for a vote on budgetary matters, that ish has gotta be on the AGENDA!  Pedestrian, y'all.  It did not get better.  

Some lady, who I'm sure had Dr. Phil on DVR, gets angry about her son being penalized for not bringing a stapler to class. But instead of contacting the school ("I won't give them the satisfaction!"), she tells the now powerless PTA-chair to "investigate." Then the talking stick gets passed to someone else who is pissed that her son wasn't placed in the class he was "promised." She's got one kid running around the meeting, and another in her arms, and still has the focus to confront the principle, who until now had been coolly observing from the doorway. From the cheap seats, someone insinuated that maybe, you know, 'cause he's SIX, her son got it wrong about which teacher he was assigned to, AND that's when people started to leave.  

I hadn't thought about until today, but if Crazy Sarah Palin is looking to recruit for her "Mama Grizzly" campaign, Queens might be a good place to start. 


Hey y'alls, I'm Paisley.  Ain't I cute?  My mommas got me in this here pretty girl contest, and I gonna win.  Theres lots of pretty girls 'round here, but I gonna win, cause if I don't, my momma said she gonna kill Mickey Mouse. I love Mickey, and I don't want her to kill him.  So I gotta win.  

Do you like my costume?  Momma said she saw it in this movie about a working girl.  This girl had a hard job.  She had to be outside all the time, which is sooo bad for your skin.  And she had to work with all sorts of mean people, like, what did momma call it?  A pimp! That's right.  I love that word.  It's so cute.    There are four letters in pimp., G?  

Okay now, Is gonna go.  They just called my name.  They said, "Okay folks, here comes Paisley to the mainstage."  That's how I know it's my turn.  That, and they start to play my music.  I can't remember what the song is.  Something by my momma's favorite band, Warrant.  She love them, cause she say their drummer man was almost my step-daddy.  I wish I could play Katy Perry.  But momma know best. 

Sep 7, 2011

Do Something, With Your Kid...NOW!

This is from my birthday.  That's my daughter.  She's a wonderful, loud, always singing, often times screaming, sometimes angry five year old.  We went to the Mets/Cardinals game.  I won't tell you who we were rooting for, but I'll tell you we lost.  I couldn't have cared less.

The point is:  take your kid to do something fun.  It doesn't have to be big time like a ball game in New Yawk.  Try out a local minor league team.  We did as kids.  The Greenville Braves.  On Mother's Day, they gave my mom a carnation.  Or maybe just go to the park.  Or the mall.  Or down the street.  Spend that time with them, because it's sooner rather than later that they won't want to spend it with you.  It's a fate we all face.  Even me, super cool dad supreme.

Sep 6, 2011


actual shirt, in an actual Children's Place.
Hey, you!  Are you buying that shirt for your kid?  Yeah, the one Children's Place put right in the front of the store?!  Guess what?  It ain't cute.  I mean, aesthetically it is, but.  You don't know what "aesthetically" means? Then swing by Books-a-Million and pic up a dictionary.   

This is the deal.  If you buy that shirt - and I'm not leaving until you're done shopping - I'm going to take your kid.   I mean it.  I will take your daughter and raise her as my own, because you, madame, are too stupid to be trusted with life.  Actually, my plan is to drop your kid off with a couple of meth addicts I know, cause I'm really curious if they can do a better job raising her than you.  They may forget to feed her for a couple days, but they'll never do something as horrible as buy her this shirt!  And I don't care if it's on sale!  The messages it sends are terrible.  What are you trying to raise?  A rich housewife or an even richer divorcee? Either way, they both end up sad, pickled, and full of regret.  Of course, the regret we'll never see because her face will be so pulled back - like a midget tugging on her cheeks - that absolutely no emotion will be visible.  

Seriously, lady.  The GAP is right next door, and they've got some really nice t-shirts. Beige, purple, a sun-faded pink.  Go crazy.  The world's your oyster.  And on sale, too.  I admit, they're probably made by children just like ours, but at least no will want to kill you for taking her out like that.  I know this is harsh, but I only want to help.  Think about it: our two children may be in class one day, and I'd hate for the learning to be slowed down for mine just so the teacher can spend extra time with yours.  This, dear, is the meaning community.  Pitch in or get out.  

Sep 4, 2011


A Question:  what's your response to those special fits?  You know the one.  Your kid, this thing that was, at one time, perfect and delightful, is flailing about, kicking everything in sight like a horse about to win the Glue Factory 500.  Part of you is thinking, "Man, is she having a seizure?" but the other part of you doesn't care so long as she quits.  

MONSTA had one of those last night.  We don't spank, but man did I want to punch her.  Not really punch, but like, lightly tap her with a closed hand.  The kind that the refs in the WWF will warn you about, but not call the match.  One of those.  But I'm a peaceful man, so we just took away television...on a Sunday.  Tell me this:  who gets punished on that one?  

So how do you handle those?  My parents whooped me, and since that isn't an option, we're always open to new ideas.  Of course, when her head starts spinning, and goo is pouring from her ears, having a chat doesn't seem realistic.  

Sep 3, 2011

Picking A Name Aint' What It Used To Be

In just a couple months, another beautiful, loud, hungry mouth will be making noise in our apartment. No, my father isn't coming to visit.  WIFE is preggers, silly.  Along with diapers and booty cream, this little thing will also need a name.  Today, parents have a wide variety of names to choose from.  Once people stopped feeling obligated to give their child a religious name, it was like the gates of crazy opened up.  Ashley Simpson named her kid "Bronx," which is hilarious because I'm CERTAIN she has never been to the Bronx.

Our specific dilemma is that WIFE, MONSTA, and myself are all M's.  I've been warned that if we give this boy a name beginning in something other than M, he'll feel left out.  (God I hope he's more secure than that)  Needless to say, we've boxed ourselves in on this one.  But what we choose is important.  Society makes a lot of judgments based on first names.  Did you know that resumes with ethnic names may be less likely to get called in for an interview?  So a name counts, man!  I don't want to be supporting little Marsuvious for ever.  Here then, are the ones my wife and I are considering, along with what it may say about who this guy will be.

MARTIN - a nerd or tiny black stand-up comedian

MORTIMER - a magician, nerd, or mid-level cartoon villain

MITCH - guy who answers phones at GEICO and/or small town D.J. 

MYSTIKAL- great rapper, terrible person

MYSTERIO - tiny hispanic wrestler

MALCOLM - revolutionary activist for rights of middle-income kids of mixed race

MATT - cool guy and/or smooth operator and/or old lady across street walker (and/or Second Coming???)

At some point I'll let you know what we choose.  Until then, we'd love some ideas.