This is Zach's personal blog. If you're looking for his movies, please click here. Otherwise, have fun!

Saturday, August 31, 2002

If it's Labor Day, why aren't we working? Greenbelt is not an old company town (it's an old government town), yet for some reason Labor Day is the biggest holiday around. Maybe it's leftover New Deal socialism. Anyway, there's a three-day festival going on this weekend, down at the town center, and we're close enough (and they're loud enough) to hear Every Last Thing. This wouldn't be a problem if it weren't so temperate all of a sudden. It's too cool to not open the windows.

At least the bands are good. There's also a film festival featuring members of GATE (Greenbelt Access Television) at the movie theater, which I really should go to. But I am told I'm too tired. And the source that says this is probably right.

(She was also looking over my shoulder as I wrote that, so you can use your judgement about the truth.)

Friday, August 30, 2002

Ha! I am such the happy camper! Mac OS X is installed and iCab works with Blogger now! Woo hoo! No more using the evil giant ugly browsers! (Though I admit I did like Mozilla, it was just a little buggy under OS 9.)

That is all. Peace be with you and we shall return to our regular storytelling soon.
This is a Mac OS X and iCab test.

Thursday, August 29, 2002


Moving on up to Mac OS X 10.2 soon. I just finished backing up the hard drive and now I have to re-partition it (alert readers will recall that I split the drive in order to use Darwin, which, now that I have OS X proper, is no longer needed). Wish me luck.

I have a lot to write about. But I'm not in the mood. How ungrateful is that? Okay, here goes.

My brother C---s is a really good songwriter. I finally heard his (former) band's latest CD, for which he wrote two songs. They're fantastic. I had no idea.

Speaking of songs, the Gonnas went a little crazy the other day and bought a new bass guitar, a gorgeous five-string Cort, and a bass amp to boot. Rex did the major payment and bought himself an acoustic guitar, no less. I love used music stores. That is, stores that sell used musical instruments, not music stores that have been used, which makes me think of a music store that's left alone the morning after a one-night stand with the 7-Eleven from the wrong side of town. Ahem.

K and I are struggling from day to day to keep our sanity. D's jealousy just seems to get worse and worse. Screams and temper tantrums and hitting, oh my! These kids today, I tell ya.

Well, there it is. See you next time. And I'm sorry I missed you yesterday. I hope you'll forgive me.
A lesson for Ashcroft. For those who were wondering: I did indeed make it onto a jury. It was a criminal case. A gentleman (a 20 year old kid, really) was accused of: possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana, and (this is the one I wanted to put him away for) failure to stop at a stop sign.

It really all came down to two things: the accused is innocent until proven guilty, and guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. So, in this particular case, though on the face of it the evidence meant the guy was probably guilty of the cocaine charges, the simple fact was that there was no corroboration of this evidence--basically it was just "he said, she said"--and the state had the burden of proof, which they didn't meet. So, Not Guilty. We did find him guilty of the Mary Jane and the stop sign.

I have a clear conscience. We ruled on the evidence and on the evidence alone, not on our sympathies or conspiracy theories or hatred of cops or whatever. We did what we were supposed to do with a minimum of fuss.

It was actually a good experience. I'd do it again, despite the splitting headache it gave me. Besides, the courthouse cafeteria had great french fries.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Multiple choice. The reason I'm not blogging today is best expressed by which of the following aphorisms?

A) All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

B) Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

C) Fatherhood and jury duty, when mixed, produce exhaustion and a splitting headache.


Monday, August 26, 2002

The first two sentences are sincere.

I have fallen in love with my daughter.

She has such big, beautiful blue eyes, and she gazes at me with such longing that my heart just jumps.

She has a wonderful singing voice, too. She's very proud of it, I think, since she uses it all day long. We hear her sing after her nap, before her meals, during her bath...

D, our son, also appreciates E's singing voice. More often than not, they duet, usually in the afternoon when we all need a lullaby. They don't know any lullabys yet, of course, but you can't have everything.

Tomorrow I have jury duty (true!) and I can just picture what I'll say to the judge:

Squelch: Your Honor, I'm the primary caregiver to a three year old boy and a three week old girl. They rely on my wife and me for all their needs. I have not had a full night's sleep all month.

Judge: I see. So you're asking to be excused?

Squelch: Er, no, Your Honor. I'm asking to be sequestered.
Copyright Hormel Foods. My inbox is finally starting to get cluttered with spam. It's been so sparse lately. I can only figure it has something to do with the fact that a Blog of Note has linked to me recently. So I'll now be adding the spam-killer thing to my email address on these pages. Get rid of the "REMOVETHIS!!!" and then mail me.

Still, it's so nice to be wanted by people who wonder if I like music (and have recommendations if I do) and need help with their father's money in Nigeria. Almost makes it worthwhile.

Sunday, August 25, 2002


I'm tired, but I'm not depressed. This is disturbing. I thought I had it all worked out: early to rise, late to bed, makes Squelch a dull boy. But tonight is an exception. I wonder why. I dare not hope that I'm actually cured or anything. No, no, no... I'm a Depressed Person. Even if I happen to be happy at the moment. I am happy. Really. See my big, bright smile?

Actually, today was really good. My mom and stepfather visited, and D, faced with YET ANOTHER day where people gave him presents, was as cute as a button. E was asleep as a button. There must be another simile to be had there, but I can't think of it because.... wait for it.... I'm too tired! There, now I've done a nice recapitulation, which is de rigeur if you want to appear as though you've told a story but haven't really. Mark that down in your notes, kids.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

"You know, I'd love to attend, but I have this anal probe that I'm really looking forward to." Well, today was D's birthday party (though his birthday was the 20th), and here's a fun fact for the super-chic: being fashionably late isn't just for adult parties anymore. Our first guests appeared an hour late. The party ran an hour late, too, so the time we had expected to use for recovery was cut in half. E did sleep, thank goodness, but man! were we all beat by the end of it.

The first arrivals were, in fact, a family who occasionally babysat for D, so when he saw them, he grabbed hold of my leg and screamed bloody murder, which is a great way to get a party started, of course. I guess he thought we were leaving him with them, but I rather like K's theory, that he thought they came from the hospital and were staying, just like E.

It was the first birthday party to which we exclusively invited kids, although in practice the parents stayed as well. (Previous parties were family, friends, everyone and anyone, you know, the usual new-parent crap.) Thank goodness the parents came; they're all good friends of ours, and since we only invited a few, we actually got to talk to people for a change. Our house is so small that even a mid-range number of people renders a party complete chaos. (Yes, complete chaos is good in college. But for a bunch of toddlers, chaos is a given even without a party.)

D's BIG PRESENT was a tricycle, and naturally he had no interest in it at first, despite the big drum-roll lead in. He may have been confused because when I dragged the trike out of the closet, the new vacuum cleaner came with it, and he worships the vacuum cleaner on high. So maybe the trike was just a letdown.

I had a wee panic attack when the party ended. I couldn't eat dinner when K left the table to feed E. I felt lost and confused, like I needed her to anchor me and help me decide whether to eat the leftover fish or the leftover rice. Eventually, in my addled state, I sat on the couch, and when my head lolled forward and I lost consciousness, K patiently suggested that I put down my Sprite and go upstairs and nap. I did. She tells me I only napped for twenty minutes before she called me to help D with his bath, but I think she's lying. I think it's Sunday already.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Memoirs, like the corners of my bookcase. Well, my little experiment in memoir paid off nicely, I think. In fact, it's already garnered a Google hit (someone was searching for Jerry Finnegan's Sister). More importantly, I really enjoyed serializing a memory. Maybe I'll do it again sometime. I must have a wealth of stories by now... right? And if not, I could just make 'em up or steal someone else's.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Editing the future, cutting the past. So, being a fan of both H.G. Wells and Guy Pearce, and always looking for a good bad movie, I rented The Time Machine at the local video store. You know what? It wasn't quite as bad as its reputation. Don't get me wrong; it probably deserved to sink like a stone when it was released. But the design was actually quite good, and Jeremy Irons wasn't as embarassing as he could have been. And hey, what's a convoluted story with no second act among friends?

You know, though, one thing to say for it, it was short. So many action films are bloated to over two hours these days, but this one was a trim 92 minutes. Which makes it all the odder that they made such an awful editing decision.

You see, if you rent the DVD, you should check out the "Deleted Scene." It's a nice little character moment, but more importantly, it introduces a theme that pays off at the denouement. The ending would have been much more powerful had they left the scene in. I don't get it. They didn't need to cut any minutes out of it. Maybe it was a pacing decision, but still... I wouldn't have done it.

Betcha my version woulda been a hit, too.

Edit: I just read the IMDB user comments on the film... the one that popped up claimed to be a "big fan" of the original; turns out he meant the "original" movie from 1960, not the book! He thought it was just a remake. Idiot...

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Here endeth the lesson. Well, what did I know? Like most performing arts majors, I knew a lot about performing and not much else. Well, how could that be used? Well, maybe Red performs at a cabaret club at nights... mmm, don't think so. Wait! What about the wolf? Maybe he was a performer... yeah, after all, he dresses up in costume, doesn't he? Yes, and, and... what if Grandpa (Grandma's hubby would take the place of the deus ex woodsman) was a talent agent?

BAM! It all spilled out. The Wolf was trying desperately to get a job. He was a bad comedian, but he had heart. He met Red on the path, ran ahead, then, with much comedy, ate Grandma. (Lights dim, Bach's Toccata, loud.) Then, after some witty repartee, ate Red. (Ditto.) Then, Grandpa comes home, finds a very fat wolf, and the wolf eats him. (Ditto, but the lights come back up...) Or does he? Grandpa's still there, cowering in a corner.

Grandpa: You didn't eat me?
Wolf: No... but I made you think I would, right?

Ah ha! The wolf is a good actor after all! But where are Red and Grandma? "They're in the closet," says the wolf (and Brent had just the right sheepish tone for this line). They're safe and sound, the wolves' fat is revealed to be just pillows, and, WOWED by the performance, Grandpa gives the wolf a job.

We liked it, or at least I did. And even when it had the dubious distinction of the smallest audience we ever played (one person), Brent (the wolf), Kathleen (Red), Mike (Grandpa), and Miranda (Grandma) did a bang-up job with it.

No, it's not Hamlet. But I still like it, and I think it would make a great children's book. Hmm...

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Continued from the last memoir. The three shows were to be Stone Soup, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Princess and the Pea. There was--briefly--a coup attempt, born of fear that I wouldn't deliver, which attempted to install a regime of Jack and the Beanstalk, in which some of us had acted recently at another theater. However, once I found out about this, I pointed out that we didn't have the effects and stage space to pull that particular adaptation off. But I also pointed out that I didn't have a clue how to dramatize The Princess and the Pea, so my ego would not be crushed if we simply did two kids' shows instead of three. Upon re-working the schedule, this actually came out better.

Stone Soup was going to be a musical, and as such, I started on it much earlier. It was probably a little too talky, but man! did I enjoy stretching this little French folk tale out into a half-hour play. I spent a lot of time polishing the dialogue, writing the songs, coaching the actors (myself included), most of whom played multiple parts. But it was solid, especially thanks to the prop goddesses (I can't remember who was in charge--I think Miranda) who found all the plastic food.

Then came Little Red Riding Hood. We were due to start working on it once our other shows were up (we were doing rotating repertory--four shows a week, a different show each night--and Red was the last one to enter the schedule). As I recall, the day before rehearsal was due to start, I hadn't started the script. I knew the story, of course, and the moral (stay on the path!) and I knew I didn't want to have a deus ex machina woodsman kill the wolf at the end.

So what the hell do I do instead? I thought to myself, as the Northern Lights shone onto our cabin and my candle swiftly ran out of wax.

And then it came to me, the advice every creative writing teacher gives, advice which I've always thought was claptrap, but in this case was exactly what I needed:

"Write what you know."

... to be continued--nay, concluded!--in the next entry...
But first, a word from our sponsor. Happy Birthday, D! He's three years and one hour old as I write this entry. His party is Saturday. Come on by!

Monday, August 19, 2002

Continued from below. This, of course, weighed heavily on me, so much so that at one point I walked out. I thought it was the usual "personal and creative differences," but in truth it was probably just fear of what lay ahead of me (at that moment, nothing). They graciously took me back, and I eventually got a job as an apprentice electrician at Syracuse Stage. Doing nothing would have been preferable to that experience, but that's another story.

We did four adult shows (California Suite by Neil Simon, Speed-the-Plow by David Mamet, Jerry Finnegan's Sister by Jack Neary, and The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams). I designed scenery for three of them, acted in two of them, and directed one. Our entire scenery budget was $300, but we manged to do something stylish, and while my portrayal of Tom in Menagerie would not rank with the great performances of the twentieth century, I think we all put on a great show, especially for seven bucks a ticket, which at the time was slightly less than most movie theaters charged per ticket, even in Maine.

We begged, borrowed, and stole to get by. On one memorable occasion, Brent talked the resort owner into serving us a free dinner. We made a (very) little money and had a lot of fun.

We also decided to do three children's shows, and assigned them to Theater-on-the-Pond's Playwright-in-Residence... me.

... to be continued in the next entry...

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Young and stupid... isn't it great?

The other night, by a tortured series of references, I got to thinking about Theater-on-the-Pond, a tiny theater company I worked for right after college. The tortured series of references was as such: I said, "Hello, little girl" whilst holding E, which made me think of the number "Hello, Little Girl" from Into the Woods, which is sung between Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, which made me think of the adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood that I wrote for, you guessed it, Theater-on-the-Pond.

Saying that I "worked for" ToP (as we called it) is misleading. More accurate might be to say that I helped found it, except that it had technically started the year before (and didn't exist the year after). It was up at a resort in Maine, Embden Lake Resorts, so for the whole summer we had a built-in clientele, even though we had almost no support from the resort itself. Case in point: I wrote the play (as well as the other children's show we did, Stone Soup) by candlelight, in a unfurnished, un-electrified, un-watered cabin that we all shared for half the summer. (The second half, we shamed the owner into letting us have an unused cabin that had a stove and a shower.) Those were the days... all of us acting, directing, building sets, with the threat of scandalous sex always around the corner. (As far as I know, it never happened... at least not to me, anyway.)

There were six of us--Brent, Julie, Mike, Miranda, Kathleen, and me. I was the only one who had just graduated; the rest of 'em all had a place to go the following year. be continued in the next entry...
The vacuum cleaner is dead, long live the vacuum cleaner. Not to mention the new lamp, too.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Go, Johnny, go. Today is my first rehearsal with my brand spankin' new guitar. I'm sure, now that I've spent a lot of money on it, I'll be a much better guitarist. That's how it works, isn't it?

Well, rather than writing something original, which is difficult to do with one typing hand (E being in the other, and crying at that) I thought I'd pass on a reference. Mr. Nosuch, though I vehemently disagree with his taste in movies, it would seem, has nonetheless been on a roll with other topics. I suppose getting engaged and a puppy at the same time would do that to you. And not to be outdone, a proposal on the Empire State Building, no less. Best wishes to him and his love. Check it out, it's worth a read (even without the whips and chains).

Meanwhile, my daughter's makin' eyes at me (blush!). So away I go....
And now our vacuum cleaner is dead. Funeral services will be held tomorrow. In lieu of flowers, the bereaved request you give a donation to the Old Dustbusters' Home.

Friday, August 16, 2002

There is only one light in our office, and it just broke. It's a ... hmm.. how shall I describe it. Think Luxo Jr., you know, one of those, with the base that clamps to a shelf or the side of a desk or whatever. The clamp, or more specifically the partt inside the clamp snapped in two. So now, with no ambient light but the computer screen, I'm trying to write this entry. And, as I mentioned before, I'm a hunt and peck typist, so I need to see the keyboard, and everytime I look up at the screen to see what I've written, it dazzles me. Solution? Don't look at the screen at all. Until I need to. Okay, let's see how I did...

Well, not too badly, just one typo, and I forgot to hyphenate hunt-and-peck. Well done, Squelch.

Now if I could just find the content in the dark. Has anyone seen it?

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Besides Mother Theresa, I mean.

I don't even know what I'm thinking about! I recommend sleep and call me in the morning.

What I'd love to do, right now: play the guitar. Alas. It's past nine P.M. and the walls separating our unit from the neighbors are (liberally speaking) an inch thick, and I'm just too damn nice, despite the music that they pump over here occasionally.

Plus it would wake D and E. Okay, so that reason is closer to home. So I'm not altruistic! So what? Is anyone?
I ain't inspired at the moment, so it's back to the improv training. Character, location, conflict.

Character: Morton McFeldowitz (of the Clan McFeldowitz), superintendent of the Murrayville schools system.
Location: The nursery of the hospital where his first child, a daughter, has been born.
Conflict: She has a life-threatening condition, and he's a Christian Scientist.

Lame. If he's a Christian Scientist, what's he doing giving birth in a hospital anyway? Besides, even by asking that question, I reveal that I know nothing about Christian Science, and it's too late for research.

No, it's clear; there will be no great series mysteries starring Morton McFeldowitz, at least not if I've gotta write 'em.

I know I've mentioned my chameleon-like writing style before. Maybe I should apply that and devote my life to writing fanfic.

Maybe not.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Music? K's sister and her wife visited today, on their way home to Florida after a vacation in New England. It's always fun to see them.

I recorded a demo song today and sent it to the rest of the Gonnas to put some lyrics to it. My lyric muse has left me in recent years. The last decent lyric I wrote was to a song I wrote for D after he was born. The chord progression of this new song was just too good to lose, though. Sorry, no link to the new song. Too embryonic at this stage.

My electric guitar, which I bought for $50 in working order, is in the shop for $150 worth of repairs. It's still less than buying a new guitar that looks just like it, as nice as it'd be. Besides, once it's done, it'll be brand new.

My thought when I bought the thing was that I'd just fix it myself--it needed a re-wire and maybe a new pick-up--but when I ripped the guts out and discovered I didn't really know what I was doing, I decided it wasn't worth the time to do it myself, but it was worth the money to have someone else do it.

So when the neck of my acoustic got cracked during rehearsal, and the repair guy at Atomic Music did such a great job at fixing it, I figured I'd shove some more work his way. So, with any luck, on Friday I'll have a nice new-ish black Les Paul knockoff, and I can finally learn how to play lead.

Sorry, that's the best I can do for entertaining stories today. Except, maybe, that Aunt K---n took D for a five-minute walk that wound up--because of D's tenacity in walking where he wants, dammit--being forty minutes, and ended only when K---n picked him up and forcibly carried him all the way home from Greenbelt Lake.
Deliver me from sibling rivalry, please!

There's only so much of D's screaming and misbehavior that I can take. Has anyone got any foolproof way to deal with this? I'm going out of my mind.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Made you look! Heh. I still think this is funny.

And I still think this is stylish, and I still think this is well-written.

And... I still think I'm Napoleon.

Which of these is more likely? Discuss.
Hey! You! Don't you have better things to do?
Reconditioning. For some reason, the greatest number of search engine hits I've had--by far--is for "Build Your Own Air Conditioner." In honor of this, we bought our own air conditioners today to replace the two that came with the house when we bought it. Happily, they're both so energy effecient they're off the charts. (Literally. On the standard scale given of 8 to 10, one is a 10.8 and the other is an 11.2.)

I wonder if I'll ever get nostalgic for the ones we're getting rid of, with their attractive duct-taped louvers and their tendency on humid days to sound like some of the first season monsters on Buffy...


Monday, August 12, 2002

Do you have any that are Osbournes-themed?

I don't know why, but it's impossible to find a decent birth announcement anymore.

Let me explain my idea of "decent." When D was born, we managed to find something stylish but funny: a "movie magazine" type thing describing D's birth as though it were a major motion picture release, slipping in all the important info in the copy and closing with quotes (raves, of course) from critics. Given our (okay, my) obsession with films, it made good sense. Plus, it wasn't sentimental or maudlin--just fun.

Well, naturally, we went looking for the same style thing for E. First of all, 90% of the cards out there are gender-specific (including, perversely, faux-Sports Illustrated covers where the boys play sports and the girls wear swimsuits and never the twain shall meet), and we didn't know what we were having ahead of time. Second, and more important, "fun" is out, and "sentimental and maudlin" is in. No jokes, just "a little angel," too many damn ribbons, and maybe some cartoons if you're lucky. Oh, and a special mention to the "Born in the USA" cards that not only play on your heartstrings but foment jingoism, too.

We wound up getting a decent cartoon with a movie theme, again ("Our Feature Presentation"), but we were really hoping to make people laugh, dammit, as well as say "Awww!"

Maybe next time NEVER.
Store creep. I pride myself on shopping at local businesses. In fact, my town has the only remaining indepedent video store in the Western Hemisphere (which I almost, in a fit of insanity, bought), as well as a deli which makes decent pizzas.

So really, I should feel more guilty that I'm grabbing the commercial Internet by the horns, and ordering pizza and renting movies online.

But I guess this is how it starts. Soon, I'll be drinking Starbucks and shopping at Borders, like the rest of the world... I already do that? Says who?
Jesus! It's already past four?! What am I doing when my doctor only gives me seventy more years to live?!
Sigh. How do you get an IDEA out from your head and onto paper? Someone once described writer's block as simple fear. Maybe that's true. Maybe I just need to sit down and Do It.

Maybe I need to quit thinking of myself as a writer, and the writing will come unbidden. Irony: I once started to write a story about that (using a fantasy metaphor of powers that only mature when you stop wanting them to do so), but (of course!) I never finished it.

Maybe the time isn't right--after all, how many good stories have come out of exhaustion and new parenthood? Um... a hell of a lot, Squelch. Shut up.

If I were a superhero, I would want my superpower to be Story Sense.

Is it just this: it's easier to be creative at 21 than at 30? Maybe.

Maybe it's time to open Clarence's card. No... not yet. (I am a seagull! No... not that...)
Sugar highs aren't what they used to be. I just had a Rice Krispies treat and I was expecting to come up here and BLOGBLOGBLOGYEEEEEHAWBLOGBLOGWOOOOOHHHOOOOOOBLOG! but it's coming out Another casualty of age.

It's even happening with my rocket fuel of choice. Any time I have a Coke, I fall asleep once the sugar high goes away--unless I have one at night, when I actually want to sleep. And on the recent occasion of my daughter's birth (have I talked about that yet? Well, maybe later), I had bunches of Cokes because the hospital soda machines were just so convenient. I wound up with a splitting headache.

And, no, changing my rocket fuel to booze is not an option; it interferes with my heroin. (Well, no, I'm not really doing heroin. But it's true that I can't drink booze.)

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Minor fun tidbit: due to a typo, the last word of the previous entry was first published as "lustening." Which, given the Attorney General's fear of breasts, might be appropriate.
I'm gonna start carrying an umbrella now. There's a first time for everything, and for the first time, someone has linked to me without my harassing them first. I'm pleased and touched. Plus, she lives in Hungary, so she must be okay. Check out The Umbrella Stand (great name!).

She said I was nicely-written! I think I'm in love. (Ahem... with my wife, of course. John Ashcroft, are you listening?)
Roll 'em! We're adding a new blog to our fequently visited list--Singing Potatoes, from a fellow computer animator and geek. Possibly the first blogger whose work I know from somewhere other than blogging. (Well, except those I know personally, of course.)

Snap go the dragons.

Both our kids were born just after tragedies involving people close to us. Two days before D was born, my sister A--- almost lost her life in a car accident. (I'll never forget driving up to Pennsylvania to see her even as K was at home on bed rest. We all survived.) E was born just after a good friend's spouse left for another person, as I chronicled earlier. While that one wasn't as quite as traumatic as the first, it was nonetheless--is still nonetheless a tough nut to get past (to mix a metaphor).

A--- is doing well now, fully recovered after a long bout of physical therapy. I hope my friend recovers as well... they are officially divorcing.
Critical Flaws ( by Philip Kennicott

A very good tweaking of cultural criticism as practiced by many blogs (among other media). Of course, the article begs the question: Since this article enagages in a kind of cultural criticism, how do you classify yourself?

Still, I enjoyed it if only for the jab at George Will's baseball columns.
Blogger says "Welcome back, Squelch" every time I log in, and silly me, I actually feel touched.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Of course I'm impartial!

E is the most beautiful baby girl right now. She wasn't like that at birth, though--like all babies, she looked like a raisin. Don't agree? Judge for yourself--pictures are up at last. More to come soon.

(That's a beta test picture page, by the way, and anything in it is my fault. K usually handles all the family web pages, but she's been a wee bit busy lately. Moo.)

Sleep is a girl's best friend.

A baby girl is so different than a baby boy, and I'm not just talking about diaper-changing technique (good thing, too, 'cause if I did I'd probably get arrested). For one thing, unless she's wearing a pink, frilly outfit, everyone assumes she's a boy. For another thing... well. There is no other thing. It's just different, darn it.

She's a week old today and I really feel like she's mine for the first time. She even has my nose, poor kid.

It is easier this time around, that's the truth. But to get used to midnight feedings and that peculiar (though thankfully not incessant) infant cry again... well, it's easier, but it's still tough. Thank goodness K has told me to stop being chivalrous and go to bed while E's feeding. (I still get up to change her; as I may have mentioned, K's in charge of input and I'm in charge of output.)

I got an unsolicited e-mail from a reader with no connection to me whatsoever, which was a great thing. She was responding to the entry about Spam canisters, and wanted to assure me that K's irrational fear of the answering machine bogeyman was all about the hormones. Let me clarify: K articulated this fear long before we had children. D'oh! Nonetheless, thanks for writing... and reading!

I had all sorts of stuff to write today. It's all swallowed up in the pain in my legs. Here's a Hint from Heloise: when you ride your bike to your piano lesson, STRETCH before you sit down on the bench to murder a Chopin prelude.

I'm sure I'll write more later. After all, I'm very tired, and some of my most hurtful screeds have happened when I'm too tired. Bet ya can't wait!
Six more children? I don't think so!

Friday, August 09, 2002

Who invented silence? John Cage sues rock band.
e is cradled in my left arm at the moment, so no capitals. hope you're not too bereft.

d is having some adjustment issues, which means the rest of us are, too. i'm sick and tired of the terrible twos. there's only so much screaming you can stand. and bingo, now it's in stereo!

i've been very bereft in my fatherly duties. do you know i haven't even once brought out the camcorder? what is that about?

she's one week old tomorrow. d is 3 years old on the 20th. my life sure has changed in the past few years...

... what will i do for an encore?
I haven't. If you've ever wondered what the spawn of Mike Daisey and Laura P. would look like, here I am. Alas, until they sign up, I guess I'll remain an only child. I also haven't provided them with any grandchildren, yet. (Quick, Clarence! Start a blog!)

(Tip o' the Spice to Anna for writing about BlogTree.)
Be creative. Is that really so hard?

Preparing for the worst, hoping for the... less worst.

Does this make as little sense to you as it does to me? I have to re-do our answering machine greeting to reflect the new addition to our family. One of K's idiosyncracies is that she doesn't want me to say, "We're not in right now," but "We can't come to the phone right now."

Her reasoning? You should never tell people that you're not home. That's an open invitation to break in!

Excuse me? Do we really believe that some burglar is going to call our house, realize that our answering machine is ambigious about our whereabouts, and decide to hit the house next door instead? "Hmm, if they weren't home, I could fence their collection of antique Spam containers, but they're merely unavailable... (twirls mustache) Curses! Foiled again!"

Related to this is the cargo net in the back of our minivan (well, of course we have a minivan). You can put lightweight packages in it and so on. When I saw it, I thought, "Hey, cool, the groceries won't fall over." When K saw it, she thought, "Hey, cool, when we have an accident the groceries won't fly forward at 70 MPH and hit us in the head, filling our brains with shards of aluminum from all those Spam containers and rendering us comatose until our painful deaths."

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Heyyyy... does Clarence have a blog? He should. He's a good writer.
Clarence strikes again! Got a congratulations card from an old friend of ours. So far, so good. But inside the card was another card, this one addressed to me alone, and labeled "Open Only When You Think the B-Side to 'Help!' Was Written to Describe How You Feel." Hmmm... B-side to "Help!"? Pardon me whilst I rack my brain for my useless Beatles knowledge. "Yes it Is"? No... "Long Tall Sally"? Alas... Ah! "I'm Down." Perhaps he's referring to my investments? Wait, I don't have any investments (I correctly predicted the crash of 2002. Of course, I predicted it'd happen in 1994).

No, of course not, because this friend is the one euphemistically referred to in these pages as Clarence, after Jimmy Stewart's guardian angel in It's a Wonderful Life. He evidently reads this blog and knows of my propensity to get depressed (latest theory: not enough testosterone... thank you, six o'clock news, but I refer you to the two kids my wife just begat). Anyhow, I'm going to respect his wishes and wait for the appropriate emotion. When I reach it, you'll be the first to know. Obviously. And then, and only then, will I reveal its contents.

So now you have a reason to come back! Hooray!
E's asleep... shh. Am I becoming just another fucking baby blog? Yet another neurosis to add to the list, along with age, creativity, sex...

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

No developmental delays here, buster! E continues to amaze us all. Today, she... cried! And after that, she... slept!

Hmm, I guess the interesting stuff won't happen for a few months.
Beltway Plaza, the only mall in the Greater D.C. area that provides complimentary pornography with every toilet!

Yes, cursed that I am with built-in Ex-Lax, I had to seek out a bathroom in the Plaza, and to my surprise there were several pages hanging from the handicapped-rail, featuring a woman who knew how to have a good time, if you get my drift. I wonder if the young fellas leaving "Spy Kids 2" at the movie theater down the hall realized they were missing a real show just around the corner...

Hmm... I suddenly hope no one finds this entry while looking for news of E.
Evil and stupid. Here's a paragraph from today's Washington Post, featuring a lovely quote from our good friend Bill O'Reilly, the man who puts "unbalanced" back in "fair and balanced":
But a national TV talk show host, Fox News Network's Bill O'Reilly, compared the assignment to teaching "Mein Kampf" in 1941 and questioned the purpose of making freshmen study "our enemy's religion."

Context? UNC has asked its freshmen to read a book about Islam, Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations, as a pre-college reading assignment.

Just another reason to pigeonhole conservatives as demagogues who need to oversimplify issues in order to attack them. One, Nazism was not a religion. Two, Mein Kampf was a political tract, not an academic discussion of a religious text. Third, even if you buy the argument that Islam is our "enemy"--a contention I vehemently disagree with even as I support, with reservations, the current war--isn't it best to defeat the enemy by knowing him?

Another reason to be glad you're male.

Here's K's description of labor pains: "Imagine someone pressing down on the inside of your bowels with all their might. Now imagine that person is Wolverine, of the X-Men, in full claws-extended mode." Got that, boys?
Welp, Mike's a Blog of Note. Now would be a good time to link to me again, Mike. ;-P

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Hmm? Blurgh, brealyjre, obodi rumiefidle. Yeah. I need a dap. Map. NAP! Phew. First nioght with the new baby. E, that's her name. MNot so bad, really. As these things go. Kept us all up a bit. D included. Now everyone is alseep. Exciept me. Technically. Will bne non-technical soon.

Had l;ot6s of stories to tell. FGone niow. These typos are ayuthentic, byt the way. Not some affectration. I huint and peck for a lving. Zzzz. Eyes burning, tired me iss. So much fun! So many sories to tell. Wuill I forget them, all? Probably. IOh well....

Love and hugs, Squelch

Monday, August 05, 2002


After D was born, I heard "I Can See Clearly Now" on the radio as I drove home from the hospital. I was reduced to tears. The rain really was gone, and it really was a bright, sunshiney day...

After E's birth, the best the radio stations could manage was the Rolling Stones' "She's So Cold." Gulp.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Wham, bam, brand new ma'am.

Well, it was a whirlwind day yesterday. When we arrived at the hospital around 6:30 A.M., K was having contractions. Well, at least that's what the monitor said, because she couldn't feel them. That state of grace would not last long.

The most insidious sound in the world, by the way, is a baby's heart monitor. Once you've been hearing it all day, it continues in every sound. I could have sworn I heard it at home last night in the fan, the crickets, even the dog's snores. But I get ahead of myself.

K was on the monitor continually since she was being induced. Pitocin (a labor-helping drug) was dripping in through her IV, and the labor was reasonably uncomfortable--about the level of bad mestrual cramps (so I'm told). This continued through 4:30 or so. We had gotten through most of it with the Robert Redford movie "The Candidate" on American Movie Classics, and if that isn't a bizzare endorsement, I don't know what is. ("Two Thumbs Up!" "A great American film!" "Put me in tremendous pain every two minutes!") Anyway, when they examined her at 4:30, she was at 3 centimeters, and she asked for an epidural.

"Are you sure?" asked the OB/GYN. "It's kind of early. We could give you regular pain relief."

"You gave me that with D," said K, "and it was like an acid trip."

"Mmmm, let's do the epidural." I think K was secretly disappointed.

I was settling into the coach's role by this point--figuring, OK, it took her this long to get to 3 cm, guess I'll go downstairs and get a soda, since the epidural will just slow things down, and, hmm, K's screaming that she wants to push, maybe I should ring the nurse? It took an hour to get from 3 centimeters to seven, and then fifteen minutes to get from seven to full dilation. BAM! Since it was "so early," they had put a very low dose on the epidural, figuring they'd have time later. They never got the chance, and K had as close to a natural childbirth as she ever wanted to get. She was fantastic.

She pushed for less than fifteen minutes, and out popped E--purple from head to toe. But she had a lusty cry from moment one, and was quite healthy despite her color. She had smashed through the birth canal so quickly that she was bruised all over. And once she was cleaned up a bit, she latched on for nursing like she had been practicing for years.

It was wonderful... I didn't cry like I did when D was born, but I think that was just because I never got the chance to work up a head of steam. It was crazy. The nurse had to run and get the OB, saying "This baby's coming!" (Our nurse was excellent, by the way. With D, we had three nurses, but E managed to be born within one shift, which was really nice. Now we know exactly to whom we'll address the thank-you card.)

After that, they moved E to the nursery to get her cleaned up and moved K upstairs to a private (thanks to our nurse again) room. It took a long time, too long really, before she was back with us. A hell of a lot of babies had been born right at shift change, apparently.

It was a joyous time, but I was reminded that it isn't always so. On my trips to and from the ice machine (K was only allowed to eat ice chips, and boy, did she), I had noticed a middle-aged woman outside another delivery room, looking worried. When K and I were moving out after the birth, someone--I'm not sure who, maybe a nurse, maybe a family member--gave her bad news. I don't know what it was, but it reduced her to tears and sent her to the floor. This morning, as I came back the first time, she was leaving the hospital chapel.

We were very lucky.

Welcome to the world--it's a nice place to live.

E was born at 6:02 PM on Saturday, August 3, 2002. She was 8 pounds 10.8 ounces and measured 20 1/4 inches from stem to stern. She came out really darn quickly; an overachiever from the beginning.

More details to follow, but for now, it's back to the hospital.

Friday, August 02, 2002

The night before K's induction.

And all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except just under her blouse. The labor bag was packed in the kitchen with care in hopes that an epidural soon would be there. And I in my PJs and K in the bed had just settled down for a long night of dread...

Next entry I write I'll be a father of two kids, not just of one. Wish K luck. And I'll take some, too, if you've got any left over.
Long Odds at Vegas. So many people have so many guesses: "Oh, it's a boy because you're carrying low!" "Oh, it's a girl, 'cause the ultrasound has a feminine face!" "Oh, it's a boy, 'cause you're craving chocolate!"

And so on.

And somehow, I keep wishing for a way they all could be wrong.
I was watching public television while waiting for a videotape to rewind. A video of a stocky man singing in front of a string and piano quintet appeared.

The announcer intoned: "There are only a few true heroes of 9/11."

The stocky man continued singing, "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis. And the announcer said, "Daniel Rodriguez is one of them. As a New York City police officer, he was among the first on the scene of Ground Zero."

More singing, unctious and the worst kind of bel canto.

Announcer continues: "Now he's lifting America up through song."

At this point I retched and turned the television off.

Okay, it appears this guy is the real thing and was respected as a singer before the attacks. But, my God! Am I the only one who sees this commercial (on public TV, no less!) as the worst kind of cynical and opportunistic marketing? Calling himself a "true hero" while hawking his CDs and concerts...

There's no baby yet. Move along.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

What planet is this man from? Verbatim transcript from the end of my piano lesson:

Me: I'd like to re-schedule my next lesson.
Teach: Oh, you can't make Wednesday evening?
Me: Well, my wife is scheduled to be induced on Saturday, so she'd probably be coming home on Wednesday. So...
Teach: Oh, I see. She's being induced on Saturday?
Me: Yes.
Teach: Hm. Well, if you're sure, we can reschedule, but she might be home that same day, you know.
Me: (Jaw drops to floor, striking the piano keys on the way down.)
Teach: Ah, excellent arpeggio!

To protect the Innocent.

This is going to be hard to write about without creating clues as to true identities. I guess I'll have to talk in the most general terms.

A friend of mine--who I'll refer to as "it" because it may be male or female--recently discovered its spouse was carrying on an online affair with an old flame. A hot and heavy Internet affair. And when it confronted its spouse about this, its spouse went to visit the old flame on the West Coast. (The spouse had a business trip there anyway, but left six days early and flew directly to the old flame's city.)

It used to feel they had a decent, rock-solid marriage; and it's willing to chalk it all up to mid-life crisis... if the spouse and the flame don't sleep together. But the spouse, when asked to promise that no sex would happen, couldn't do so.

So, there's a picture of a fine marriage disintegrating, out of nowhere. My friend is despondent. Who wouldn't be? It isn't every day that your marriage becomes a bad Ann Landers column.

I tried to assure my friend that it was probably just an infatuation, that the spouse and the flame were in love with their memories, not with each other, and that's probably true. But I'm not sure their relationship can survive such a huge breach of trust.

I don't know if mine could. I don't think there's any danger of anything like this happening to either K or me. It's not to say I never get caught in the "what might have been" kind of games or even the "boy, I'd like to get to know her better" kind of games, and for all I know, K may too. But this little incident has made me realize that if I ever were to go chasing after a fantasy in a photo, it wouldn't just be my choice to make--it wouldn't just affect me. It would hurt K, too, and that's why I feel extramarital affairs are the most selfish act anyone can take. It's different, I suppose, if the love is entirely gone, but I can't live without K and she can't live without me.

I hope it's a road we never have to take.

Besides, no one would ever want to have an affair with me, anyway. (Oh, come on, you knew I couldn't leave that unsaid, didn't you?)
Is it normal to refer to a female friend as a "buddy"? It just sounds odd, somehow.
Stories, we've got stories. Don't forget to listen to my buddy Stephanie on WAMU today from noon to one. It's sure to be a hoot!
Looking for answers? Nope, no baby. Thanks for checking! In the meantime, why not peruse our handsome gallery of whining? Yours to annoy and hurt your loved ones--nearly as good as drug addiction!