Feel the Noize

I realize that I have have neglected my DDFT fan base by not reporting on Isabella’s (she’s 9) International gymnastics competition.  A Gold Medal (i.e. Best in the World), a couple of silvers.

And, I have boasted and boasted about her to anyone with at least one functional ear.  And, I sing:

“She is a Champion, my friend…”  Freddie Mercury rolls over in his grave.

Since, we are talking music, here’s my story..

Leaving Los Angeles (from the Burbank airport, because LAX is, I believe, one of Dante’s rings of Hell) heading to Atlanta.  (Long story, spending the night at Grandma’s before we all drive down to Orlando.  World of Mickey Mouse.  Look at my joy.)

But, I digress.

Back in Burbank, at the Southwest gate heading toward a layover in Las Vegas, I want my phone charged to 100%.  I spy a three-seat charging station.  The middle seat is empty.  I dash.

As I approach, I notice an obvious Rocker-type guy:  Middle-aged, long curly black hair, blue jeans, Quiet Riot T-shirt.  He says something to the guy in seat number three.  They are together.  Seat No. 3 guy is more clean-cut, short hair, tweed sports jacket.  But, he obviously rocks.  He’s got ‘tude.

He's the #1 I sat next to.  Didn't really see his tongue.

He’s the #1 I sat next to. Didn’t really see his tongue.

I sit and charge up between them

I glance over at Seat #1 guy.  He’s looking at a Quiet Riot website.

Whenever I’m in these situations, I usually employ the Urinal Rule (“Eyes Forward, and Don’t Talk to Your Neighbors”).  But, this time, I couldn’t help myself.

Me: So, are you guys in a band?

Given the hair, T-shirt, and the Website, it wasn’t that much of a leap.

#1 (annoyed): What?

Me (air-guitarring): You play?

#1: We’re in Quiet Riot.

And, I swear to you, my mouth and hand were reflexive.

Me: No shit! (while my hand formed the devil’s horns rock gesture.)

#1:  Yeah.

Me:  Are you playing in Vegas.

#1 (clearly not wanting this conversation to continue): No, we’re hooking up with the rest of the band and heading to Santa Rosa for a show.  (Then) Hey #3 (whatever his name is), did you call Bob…

This was my cue.  I took my 86% charged phone and got up and headed back to the seat next to future World Champion, Isabella.

Me: You see those guys, they are rock stars.

Iz:  The ones with the Southwest uniforms.

Me: No, the guy with the hair like Mommy.  And the other guy.

Iz:  Ok.  And…?

Me:  No “And.”  Just.  They’re musicians.

She goes back to playing on the phone.

Meanwhile, I furiously Google Quiet Riot.  #1 is Frankie Benali, the only long-time member of the band.  He’s the drummer and also manager.  #3 is probably Chuck Wright, but I don’t really know the band like John, Paul, George, and Pete.

When we board, I notice that Wright (with what looks like a bass guitar on his shoulder) has a higher boarding number and gets a better seat than Benali.  I’m guessing the people who handle their flight arrangements are in fact, Benali and Wright themselves.

When we land in Vegas, I notice Benali standing by the gate, looking for Wright.  I resist the urge to ask for a selfie.  But, I secretly do the devil horns thing with my hands…

Note: The only head banging on the flight occurred when we hit some turbulence over Barstow.  Always keep your seat belts on.


Curb Numbers

Since it’s June, it must be Street Curb Numbering month.  This is the time of year when various “well-meaning” “non-profit” “neighborhood-oriented” “community-based” folks want to paint my house’s address number on the curb outside of my home.

After dropping off the girls at school: I came home to this on my door knob:

Hmmm.  It's a "Donation" to what specific organization, exactly?  Or, should I not ask?

Hmmm. It’s a “Donation” to what specific organization, exactly? Or, should I not ask?


Why are you screaming?  You’re not official anything.

Blah blah blah.

Let me get this straight, you are going to paint over the numbers on my curb (which are already quite clear) with new paint?

They leave a leaflet on my door knob about how important it is that my house number be clear to First Responders in an emergency.  For my family.   Think of the Children.  (LOL. They don’t read this blog, do they.)

Their service is free.  But did they mention “donations are collected at the door.”

So, let me say to you.  Thanks for the public service, but No Thank You.

Reading the fine print:

Rude RepresentativesCropped

Should I expect rudeness?

Attention Curb Painter Professionals:  Customer Service 101… Don’t let people know that they are going to be treated like crap.  Literally in their own home.  Just say:  Expect to be bullied by a guy at the door demanding money for a service you did not request, then call us.  And vent all you want to the wall.  We’ve never seen this before.  Never.  I swear. Our business model is not based on this aspect.  We are People people.

Now, I’ve watched The Sopranos, Goodfellas, The Godfather.  Hell, I was born in northern Jersey.  I know a shakedown when I see one.

Read this in the best mafioso voice you can muster:

Ding dong.

The Collector:  So, uh. We painted your curb for yous.

Me: I didn’t ask for that, but thanks.

The Collector: Yeah, but.   You see, there’s a “donation” that we ask for.  Twenty dollahs.

Me: But, I didn’t ask for you to do that.  And, technically, the curb is City property.

The Collector: You know, we do this as a public service.  It would be terrible if something happened to your beautiful house.

Me: Uh..

The Collector: And, the fire department or police couldn’t find it because you had no number on the curb.

Me: Yeah, but, it’s right there on the side of the house.  Numbers on the street are sequential.  Also, Google maps and all…

The Collector: It would be tragic if those numbers fell off.  Like, in a wind storm…

Me: Wind storm?

The Collector: Yeah.  Santa Ana winds.  And, then a horrible thing happens here.  Is that your daughter’s tricycle over there?  Is that your beautiful wife I hear in the kitchen?  I don’t know what I would do if something should befall dem.

Me: Um.  I’m about to call 911.

The Collector: Good luck with that.  They won’t find you. Ever…  Twenty dollahs.

Me: Let me get my wallet.


[I’m going to go ahead and officially © copyright this.  Because, I hear that Led Zeppelin is in town.  And, also because this would be a hilarious bit in something.  Why aren’t people asking me to write with them?  Oh…  Because I never asked…]

The Invisible Baby

A typical car ride home:

After school, pulling up to a stoplight, I mention the guy on the bike with the empty baby seat behind him.

Me:  Oo.  Look at that invisible baby!

Julianna (she’s 11): What baby?  Where?

Me: On the bike, behind the guy.

Isabella (9): Daddy, there’s no baby there?

Me: Yes, there is. It’s invisible.

J:  Dad, there’s no baby there.

Iz: Yeah, the chair is empty.

Me: It’s an invisible baby.  (Scientifically wistful…) They are very rare.

J:  Wait.  You can see it?  An actual baby?

Me: Yes, definitely.

[emotions rise]

Iz:  How do you know there’s a baby there?!  I can’t see it!

J: Yeah, how?!  How can you see an invisible baby?!

[I pause]

Me: Because, I know what an invisible baby looks like.

Girls: Daaaaad!

And, this is why they hate me.

Car Key Batteries

Taking the girls to school this morning, we get in the car.

The dashboard beeps and tells me:

“Oil Maintenance Required”

Required?  Like I’m taking an SAT quiz.  Or I got arrested last week buying coke from a street dealer?  And, I have to take a blood test?

Wait, where were we?  Oh.  On oil.  (Two instances of alliteration there.  Shakespeare.)

Then, the dashboard beeps:

Low Gas.  8 miles.

I know that, but Costco is 10 miles that way, and school is 12 miles the other way.  Girls, I think we can make it.  No guarantees.

(Funny thing about buying a Prius:  Yeah, it gets 46 miles a gallon, but the tank is about a thimble full.  You’re still at the gas station every other day.  Like with your compensating-much? Hummer.)

Then, out of nowhere, the what-the-hell-is-this light (flat tire, as I learned) comes on.  Doesn’t tell me which tire, just “a” tire,  Shit.

So, I pull over and check.  It all looks good.

We head to school.

Isabella (she’s 9):  Dad, I don’t think you closed your door all the way.

Me:  Why, Honey?! Why?

Iz: Because of the alarm.  And the wind.

Shit. I pull over.

Me: Is everyone Ok?  Seat belts? Bagel Bites? Fuzzy Bunnies? Whatever.

Girls:  Yes.

Me: So we’re good?

Julianna (she’s 11): Yes.  Except for the gas thing…

Me: Leave it alone.

Julianna: Also, the flat tire.

Me: Alone.  Leave it. Yoda. Said.

Surprise, I get the girls to school.  No flats. A cheap gas station is literally a block away.  Everything is good.  Then, I get home.

When I turn off the car.  Beeeep:  Key Battery Low.

Excuse me?  Keys have batteries?  Since when. You are kidding me, right:

Prius: No, dude.  FOB.  Battery.  Google it.

Shit.  Why does my car hate me?

Leonardo Da Vinci-oh

Isabella (she’s 9) is interested in the Mona Lisa.  She goes to an Arts school.  Hippie.

It just so happens, I bought the Leonardo Da Vinci sketch books like, 100 years ago.

Isabella is confused.

Iz:  Which turtle is he?  Turtles can’t draw.

Me:  Different Turtle.

Iz: Is he on TV?

Me: Different Leonardo.

Iz (to her 11 year old sister):  Julianna! Julianna!!  See!  I told you Leonardo wasn’t just a turtle.

J:  He wasn’t?

Iz: He’s also an actor.  On the TV!  The Titanic!

Doing the Dishes

When did “doing the dishes” become a euphemism? Because, I was texting with a friend when my wife asked me if I could hurry up and do the dishes.

I relayed this to my friend: Wife wants me to do dishes.

And, my friend was all: Oh, I see. Tuesday night. Dishes need doing.

I was like: Yeah, 4 people. Dirty dishes.

And he was: Your wife asked for that? I see. LOL.  Winky emoji.

How old am I? I know that Debbie Did Dallas. Did she also Do Dishes?


Oh, my word. She did.

Back to the Future Past

When you turn 50, you’re supposed to visit the doctor.


Yeah, I don’t want that.

Doctor:  Let’s just make sure everything is Ok.  And, while we’re at it…

Me:  I already don’t like where this conversation is going, and now you want to add a parenthetical clause?

Doc:  Let’s talk about your diet.  Exercise. Life style.  Sleep.  Blood pressure.  We want to add years to your life.

Me:  Yes, Doctor.  But, you are adding years to the end of my life.  If you want to add years, give me a couple more 1984s.  Because, I totally would have asked that cute redhead cheerleader to the prom.

“Sick” day

Julianna (she’s 11) is “sick” today.  She has a headache.  She didn’t sleep well.  Her tummy hurts.

It’s all bullshit, of course.  She just wants to ditch.  School ends soon, and she’s finished with the State Tests.

(It will help if you read this part in a Downton Abby accent.)

Me:  Ok, Darling, You are sick?  You can stay home.   No computah and no TV though.  We don’t want to tax your mind.

J: Wait, you didn’t say that before.  About the tax.

Me:  Yes, Honey, No school.  Sorry, no fun.

J: But, but… Fatha.  My Minecrahft.

So, she reads a while from something called a boohk, then draws pictahs in her notebook ’til ’round noon.

She has broth, and I let her watch Scooby Doo.

And, then.

Me:  So, you were faking it.  Being sick.  Right? Charlatan!

J: No (smiling)  Never, Fatha. I would nevah.

Me: Kidding, Child… I did the same thing when I was your age.  Fakin’ it.  Like those Meddlin’ Kids in Scooby Doo? Laughs galore.

J:  Really?  You faked being sick?  Diseased.  With Scarlet Fever?  Or Consumption?

Me:  Honey… Do you really want to end up like me?  Without schooling?  And, no Futah?

J: Absolutely not, Daddy…  Nevah.  Not like you!  Evah!

Me: Then, tomorrow. School.  Yes?

J:  Of couse.  When does the schooner to school arrive?

Just like real life.

Me:  There is no schooner.  You put you God Damned shoes on and get in the car.

And, that’s how I got Julianna back to school.

Isabella will be a whole ‘nother issue.

Thank you…  The DDFT Players!

Tips welcome!  (just not wise ass ones.)


Bye Bye, Miss America. Pie?

If you are following this blog (doubtful, but I remain hopeful), this week marked my 50th birthday. There’s a hilarious post about it, but I can’t remember where I put it.  They tell me to click the “Back” button.

A long, long time ago…

The day the music died.  Is this metaphorical…?  On the 134 Highway.  Heading East.  In traffic? Hahaha.   Hang on…

And, I can remember how that music used to make me smile.

I am now a firmly middle-aged father. In a Prius.  In the parking lot.  Picking up a 3rd grader. At 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon.  With the milk and eggs in the back.   And, quite probably a case of maybe some wine.  I can practically hear the guitar strumming.  Pling.

Read nothing into that, hipsters, because that is not my point.

I know the tune.  The melody.  The whole song.

The next time you hear American Pie, listen to the bass the line.  It is an absolute clinic in bass playing by Rob Stoner (neé Bob Rothstein, but Rob Stoner is the Best name of all early ’70s musicians.  Maybe ever).  By the 11th or 12th verse, he totally doesn’t care what the root of the chord is, he is writing a magically musical line of his own.  It is brilliant.

Pianist Paul Griffin usually gets credit for giving American Pie its soul.  And, he deserves the accolade.  And, of course, the writer, Don McLean.

But, Rob Stoner drives that puppy home.  Absolutely.

And then I read the news.  My dear friend Ray Colcord died just a few months ago.  He played on this album.  I didn’t know he had done that until I started googling this post.  In February, and it made me shiver. He had played on that Album.   And then my eyes became a faucet…  The day the music…  you know…


I’m 50!

Remarks by
Darren Otero
on the Occasion
of the
50th Anniversary of His Birth
1 June 2016

Pretentious enough?  That’s how I roll.

When I started thinking about my 50th birthday, the first thing I thought of was: Maude. Not the actual actress Bea Arthur.  But, the early 1970s TV show.


I grew up in a household of All in the Family and whatever Norman Lear had next. In 1973, the next thing was Maude.  Florida the Maid transformed to Good Times.  Because: JJ Walker was (Dy-no-mite)

But, I digress.

Who here remembers Maude, not as history, but as an actual telecast?

Crickets.  (Hang on for the ’70s T&A.  Keep scrolling.)

Like I said, we were an “All in the Family” family. And, then whatever came next. In this case, it was either Maude or Baptist Time or Jesus Jesus Jesus. We had three channels in Richmond, Virginia. We chose the Communist Broadcasting System’s (CBS) Maude. We were Revolutionaries. By default. I was 7.

There was an episode in 1973, which I absolutely remember to this day. Maude’s husband Walter (Bill Macy) turned 50. And, this was a Big Deal; the centerpiece of the episode. He hated everything about the milestone. Because he was old. 50.  He was passed by. He was a dinosaur. He was half-a-century old.  His friends were dropping dead.  Maude wore a Mumu.  Because, of course she did.

Laughs were milked in that ’70s live-audience way.

But I mostly remember Walter’s step-daughter Adrienne Barbeau. Because, even a 7-year-old boy would remember her…


Adrienne Barbeau.  You see what I'm sayin'.

Adrienne Barbeau. You see what I’m sayin’.

But, I also remember this specific episode. From 1973.

Walter felt the weight of being half-century old.  Because, he actually was a half-century old.  With the dust and the cobwebs and the aches and the pains.  And the younger people who didn’t make it that far.

Half of a Century.

When you are seven, a half-century is forever. And Adrienne Barbeau had big boobs. These are the things I remember from 1973.  And, they left indelible impressions. (There’s a joke there.  With the boobs…  but I’m keeping it classy.)

So, now I am at the half-century mark.

And, I realize that I won’t be getting a career-retrospective or a lifetime achievement award or a monument or a bridge or a park named in my honor.  I won’t be invited to give a commencement address or asked to write a memoir.  A scholarship won’t be offered in my name, and I won’t shake the President’s hand.  Or, go to Mars.  Or be the center square like Paul Lynde.  (Am I giving away my age?  Ha!)

No, my honor is that today, you have joined in my celebration, half a century in the making.

Hold my hand.  Even if metaphorically.  Give a squeeze if you are inclined.

And, with my incredibly smart, musical, and beautiful wife (also a couple of daughters ,,,  you read the blog, yes?), I get through life,

(And, just so you know. Maude’s husband Walter, Bill Macy, was born in 1922. 13 days ago, he celebrated his 94th birthday.)  So, GO TO HELL Adrienne BarbeauHalf a century ain’t nothin’.

I'm 50!  (Though technically, Molly Shannon is a couple years older than me...)

I’m 50! (Though technically, Molly Shannon is a couple years older than me…)