Krewella de Vil

So, my attempts at teaching my daughters about actual, good music on the drive in to school have ended up as an abysmal failure. Bowie, Stones, Beatles. Simon and/or Garfunkel. They yield nothing but yawns. Kids these days.

Usually, trips to school end up like mini-raves (do they still do raves?) with the minor 7th chords and the dance-y rhythm. At stop lights, the car bops likes like a 3.2 earthquake. Other drivers nod, knowing my pain.

Apparently. there’s someone called Krewella. A singing sister duo. But, they turn the word “Time” into a multi-syllabic monstrosity. Tiii-eeem.

I point this out every time (tii-eem) it appears on the playlist. And, I am yelled at for correcting her (them… whatever).

When my daughters complain about my bitching, I mention that Adele doesn’t call from the Outsi-eed. Because she actually understands the English language, And, she’s actually English.

Girls: Tii-eem. That’s how Krewella sings it.

Me: Well, it’s wrong. I don’t care. It’s a one syllable word. Time.

Girls: I hate you! You are ruining our life!

Me: “Lives.” Because, there are two of you. So, plural…

Sometimes, when you’re a dad, you do what you can…

Double Rainbow Jinx

I brought it on myself. There is no one to blame but me.

I’m in the bathroom with the girls at bedtime: brushing teeth, braiding hair, believing that they will listen to me about the value of a full night’s sleep.

Good luck with that.

Isabella (she’s 9): Daddy, I have crusty stuff under my eye.

Me: Everybody gets that. Because, your eyes are constantly leaking tears even when you don’t think they are. And, there’s stuff in tears that make the crusty stuff.

Julianna (11): Maybe you have a fection.

Me: IN-fection, and no she doesn’t.

Isabella and I both look deeply into the mirror at our eyes.

And, then, quite on purpose, just to see if my monkeys are as trained as I think…

Me: Man, I am a good-looking man!

And then, my monkeys perform…

Girls, simultaneously: No you’re not.

Girls: Jinx!

Girls: Double Jinx!

Girls: Rainbow Jinx!

Girls: Double Rainbow Jinx!

Iz: You owe me a soda.

J: No, You owe me a soda, because you weren’t looking at me when you called the Double Rainbow Jinx.

Iz: Yeah, but you weren’t looking at me when I said you owed me a soda.

Me: Who came up with the rules? Back in my day, a Jinx was a Jinx.

Girls: Daaad! Stop!

They are so well-trained.

There’s quite a bit of back and forth regarding who owes whom a soda. I quietly slip out of the bathroom.

Now, I’ve never heard of a Rainbow Jinx. Apparently, if you call Jinx under a roof, it has to be of the Rainbow persuasion. The “you owe me a soda” thing is completely out of left field, because the girls don’t drink soda.

The fight roars for 4 or 5 minutes. Feelings are hurt. Tears are shed. Crusty stuff forms.

Meanwhile, I head to the kitchen, and crack open a Coke.

Bedtime.

It’s a God-Awful Small Affair

The local LA indie/artsy radio station KCRW is playing David Bowie all day today. He died last week. I can’t turn it off. It’s a somber day of reflection for me.

That doesn’t mean I won’t be insulted. Because, kids.

On the drive back from gymnastics with Isabella (the newly minted nine-year-old), the radio plays a version of the ’80s hit “Let’s Dance” that was re-mixed sometime around 2000. It’s all Spanish-y guitar and a melody that most people would call a harmony part with lousy voice leading. (Inside musician joke.)

Isabella: Who’s that?

Me: David Bowie. You know, you have the same birthday as he does.

Iz: Yes, and Elvis Pretzles.

Me: Presley. January 8th.

Iz: Whatever… Was David Bowie old when he made this?

Me: Well, when he first recorded it, he was probably in his mid-30s.

Iz: But, was he old when he made this?

Me: Um, I guess he was about the age I am now. So, if you think that’s old, then…

Iz: Wait! What? You mean you could still make a song. Even at your age?

Me: Well, yes, I suppose I could. I try sometimes.

Iz: But, it wouldn’t be popular.

Me: Because…?

Iz: Because, you’re not very popular.

Me: Thanks for that, Honey. I was never very popular no matter what age. It’s probably why I loved Bowie so much.

Iz (on the bright side): But, I know you’re popular with 5 people. Me and Julianna. Mommy. And, Grandma and Grandpa… Though, some more than others.

Let all the Children boogie.

Golden Gate

I’m going to do what I never wanted to do on this blog: A Travelogue. I hear you screaming Nooooooo! But, I’m closing in on 500 posts, and I need some filler material to reach my goal. But, this is mostly for Grandmothers…

San Francisco.

I’ve never been there. Lynn (the Mommy) has never been. The girls only briefly during a layover from Beijing. (I kid, of course. China doesn’t allow for US adoptions.) So, we had them the old fashioned way: Me, with a cigar in the waiting room. Everything else was easy. I am digressing in a major way. (If I am too funny, then just smack me a little. Owww!… You won’t be the first.)

So, Santa didn’t really bring many gifts. But, he left us a big-ass Recreational Vehicle in the driveway. The label read: San Francisco.

Oh, look.  Santa brought us a trip.  Who's driving... [crickets]

Oh, look. Santa brought us a trip. Who’s driving…? [crickets]

So, we loaded up the truck, and we moved from Beverly. Hills that is… (You get the reference, or am I that old?)

We took an unorthodox trip, because the voyage is about the journey, not the destination. Or some such Buddha/New Age jumbo. Also, Isabella (she’s 8) said that. Smart kid.

And, off the itinerary, we visited a Catholic mission. San Antonio de Padua. Lynn couldn’t be more excited. The priest didn’t expect to, but he held an actual mass for the four people in attendance. There was kneeling and praying and standing and sitting and kneeling.

San_Antonio_Church

We really did see things through the Los Padres National Forest that were breathtaking. (Hint, don’t try this drive in an RV. Unless you are manly-man driver like me. Or, stupid. Like me.)

At the top, there are extraordinary panoramic views of the Pacific. But, this picture pretty much sums it up:

Yay!  Daddy didn't drive off the cliff!

Yay! Daddy didn’t drive off the cliff!

And, we haven’t even gotten to San Francisco.

The RV park in ‘frisco (yeah, the locals hate that. It’s like people from Iowa referring to California as ‘Cali.’ No one here calls it that. So, stop that.)

Anyway, the RV park is nothing to write home about. It is across the street from what used to be Candlestick Park, home of the Giants and 49ers. Candlestick is now a pile of rubble, destined for yuppie condos and a mall.

Location Location...  There was a picnic table in our "preferred" spot.  Dude "upgraded" us.

Location Location… There was a picnic table in our “preferred” spot. Dude “upgraded” us.

But, now, we had a home base. And, thanks to Uber, we were ‘frisco bound. Yeah, I’ve got to stop doing that. (Am I right, Cali friends?)

So, of course, Chinatown for… Sushi! Wait, what? Ok, we walked past the “Floating Sushi Boat” restaurant, and the girls were transfixed. They didn’t care about the ethnic incongruity. Because there’s sushi. On boats!

Japanese food in Chinatown.  Why?

Japanese food in Chinatown. Why?

I’m a non-pescatarian (I don’t eat fish), so we also worked our way up to an actual Chinese restaurant. Funny enough, it’s hard to find good Chinese food. In Chinatown. But, I digress.

We also took a New Year’s Eve boat ride across the Bay to Sausalito, or as Julianna calls it: Sausage Island. It is not an island. And, sausage is served only during breakfast hours.

Not Sausage Island.  Because, it is not, in fact, an island.  Also, sausage is served only during regular breakfast hours.

Not Sausage Island. Because, it is not, in fact, an island. Also, sausage is served only during regular breakfast hours.

Oh look, Alcatraz.

The Rock.  With the Bay Bridge (to Oakland) behind it.

The Rock. With the Bay Bridge (to Oakland) behind it.

Julianna (she’s 11): Daddy, are there still prisoners there?

Me: No, Honey. It was closed years and years ago.

J: Good. Because, they would be sad to see us in the boat pass them by…

And, of course, there’s the Golden Gate Bridge. We walked across it on New Year’s Eve. Making us among the last people to cross in 2015.

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

Isabella desperately wanted an “I walked across the bridge” button from the gift shop before we did the walk. After the walk, the gift store was closed.

Oh, look. Disappointment and crying and screaming. Also, Isabella was bummed.

Family vacations are fun!

Almost Arrested in Solvang

Daddy/Daughter Fun Time is feeling nostalgic.

Did I tell you about the time I almost got arrested for domestic abuse in Solvang? Funny story.

In 2009, we went on a camping expedition to Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County (two hours north of Los Angeles) with Julianna’s pre-school class. It was on a beautiful lake in the middle of nowhere.

In the pitch black darkness at 11 o’clock…

One of the mothers was escorting children to the bathrooms a quarter mile away. Holding both hands with the kids, she stumbled and fell face-first onto the roadway.

Patty (not her real name) needs to go to the hospital. Her face is a mess. Who can drive her? She’s bleeding!

Among the still-awake, word spread quickly. Around the fire-pit, no one offered. The bottles of Fireball Whiskey and Tequila and something smoke-able and God knows what else had made the rounds.

Who can drive her? Everyone looked at each other. (not me… not me… not me…) And, then,

I raise my hand.

When I am the most sober person at a campfire in the middle of nowhere after the smores and the tall tales and the bourbon, you know there’s going to be problems.

I volunteer to take Patty to a hospital 45 minutes away in Solvang, on uncharted roads. (The guard says, drive 20 miles that way, then 10 miles this way, then 8 miles. Then left. Don’t miss it because no U-turns for 15 miles on the totally deserted 2-lane road. Yeah, right.)

Angela (actually, her real name. Also a great name for a story like this) comes along cradling Patty’s head wrapped in a towel.

I haven’t even started telling this story, and look how enticed you are. And here is where it begins.

Act II:

Someone gave us a Garmin GPS device, because it was the Dark Ages before they were standard in-dash items. “In 12 miles, left turn ahead…”

We arrive at the hospital around 12:30.

Walking in are Patty, Angela, and me. Patty has a bloody towel covering her face.

Now, the Solvang Santa Ynez Hospital Emergency Room doesn’t get a lot of action, even on a Saturday night. Maybe a heart attack once in a while. The occasional weapons discharge.

But, one thing I’m sure they get a lot of cases are: Domestic Abuse.

We all walk in, Angela is holding Patty. I come in a few steps after.

The nurse/receptionist notices the bloody towel and asks what is the problem.

Patty says, matter of factly: I fell.

The nurse’s eyes dart at me like sabers.

The nurse calls the doctor.

Nurse: She fell.

Doctor: She fell?

His eyes dart at me.

And, I’m like… What the fuck. Yeah, she fell. And, I’m doing my civic duty, helping a friend in need. Angela is not the Sister Wife. If Vincent didn’t blast through half a bottle of Jaegermeister, he could have brought his own damn wife here. But, I did it instead. She simply fell.

I’m the hero.

The doctor insinuates: Well, we’ll see.

He nods to the nurse, who picks up the phone. I couldn’t see the number she called, but she only tapped three numbers. The first one may have been a 9.

The doctor takes Patty and Angela behind the screen. I am shown to the waiting room. I don’t know exactly what questions the doctor asked Patty. I’m sure some of them included: Did he hit you? Did he push you? Did he hurt you?

And, none of: Was he the soberist guy around the fire pit talking about William Mulholland and the waterways that get water to Los Angeles. (Yes the topic du jour before I was called away)

It takes quite a while for the ER doc to gently pull the gravel and dirt and schmutz out of Patty’s face, and stitch up.

Apparently, Patty and Angela answered true enough that the patrol car turned around and headed to its next meth lab.

When all was said and done, Patty thanked me vociferously for my help. At 2:30am. She said that the nearest ER plastic surgeon was 30 minutes away in Santa Barbara, because it was her face and all.

I volunteered to take her, because my night was already busted. But, “No,” she said, “you’ve already done enough.”

And, I’m like, Dude… I didn’t get arrested yet. Let’s go to Santa Barbara!

But, I was actually very sleepy.

We rolled back to the campground around 3:30 a.m. With a story to tell…

Liberty Mutual

Facebook passive-aggressively asked me “Season’s Greetings! What’s on your mind?”

Then, “Let your friends know if you are feeling festive.”

I am not. And, this might put me on some Watch List. Because, I read 1984, but I am not a natural-born revolutionary.

Topic: Liberty Mutual Insurance commercials.

Dear Liberty Mutual, I do not have a car named Brad. I am not driving on 3 wheels. And, I understand that my car depreciates before the first oil change. Because, I effing read the policy before I signed it. I am not standing in front of a green screen with the Statue of Liberty behind me. And, that island park that I am supposedly standing on with the sea gulls and the boat and the waves… Do you have a snorkel because I’m pretty sure that I’d be swimming in the bay. And, now, it looks like I’ll have to endure another year of your horrible commercials. The only thing missing is a gekko. Someone, get me Flo on the line. I know I’ll be in good hands with her. That’s prudential. Huh? Wait… What?

Am I the only one?

LA Snow Day (of sorts).

In Los Angeles today, nearly 700,000 students and tens of thousands of teachers and staff were sent home with no warning because of a terror threat. Even after some kids had already arrived at school and moms and dads were already into their obligatory weekly staff meetings, with the PowerPoints and the donuts and the Starbucks boxed coffee. Literally, millions of people were affected.

I know you are dying to know how this affected me. (I’ll try to not waste your time.)

For my non-LA, NY, Chicago friends, 700,000 people is probably many times the size of your city. And, I’m just talking about kids. Now, they are all (or at least 2 of them) making impossible demands in my kitchen: No! I hate peanut butter! She hit me first! She won’t help me! Daddy, you’re fat! I’m soooo bored! I want a waffle even though I know we don’t have any. Daddy, can I sing my new song to you? And can I play the violin? Can I have the iPad? Can I have the iPad? No Fair! Why does she…

Never mind Mommy and I have work to do.

When I was a kid back East, a snow day was a fun time when my mother would wrap me in way too many layers (like the little brother in A Christmas Story) and send me out with a sled for hours and hours of fun.

I’m not quite sure what to do with a “terror” day.

And, if you suggest going to the library… We tried that. Hipster dude in front was tripping on whatever the kids trip on nowadays. He was dancing and shouting and dancing some more. He ended up face down in the dirt. I told the librarian. She called 911. The girls saw it all.

Still, I guess it’s better that the girls are (reasonably) safe at home if there’s a credible, yet unverified threat. Because, Sandy Hook was not verifiable.

Now, if they’d just get off my back. (I mean that literally; One is climbing over me to get to the TV remote.)

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy

Our girls’ hippie school keeps asking open-ended, outside the box essay questions that I wish my teachers had asked me when I was in school. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

“Judging from behavior, how can you tell if a fish is male or female?”

I’m chomping at the bit with my sixth-grade, comic Gold answer: “They all must be a female. Because, none of them pee standing up.”

Punnily enough, Julianna (she’s 11) won’t take the bait. Though, I guarantee that’s the answer they’re looking for. I would have rocked at this school.

Tire Change Breakfast

So, our van has a busted tire. Chunks out of the sidewall. Lynn says I must have hit something. Other than that damn squirrel, I think “no.” Nothing that would cause that much damage. I’d remember that. But, I didn’t drive the van last Saturday night. I wonder who did. (Dun-dun-DUUNN!)

Fingers are pointed. Puzzled looks are shared. Conspiracy theories are hatched. Made-in-Hollywood Headlines are generated. The passive voice is used. (That’s for my English-major friends…)

But, honestly… It doesn’t matter. The tire is busted.

I take it to the Costco for replacement. Road hazard, they tell me. Under warranty. They pro-rate me 50% on the 3 year old tire. I am Ok with that.

How long? Umm. About an hour, hour and 15.

Cool.

8:40am.

Surely, there’s a nice, neighborly breakfast place nearby. Let me walk down Victory Blvd in beautiful Burbank, CA. Yeah, no. Umm… No place to eat. Nothing but apartments.

8:50

Let’s me swing down to Burbank Blvd. “Hair’s Where You Wanna Be!” Or, something. “Otto’s Auto Autopia.” Tongue Twister. Also, redundant. No food. No dice.

9:05. Nothing.

So, I U-turn it, and head back to the only land of breakfast civilization that I can find.

9:20

McDonalds. Big Breakfast. With the greasy hash browns. WiFi. It’s a small place. I sit near the bathrooms. Hell, the whole place is near the bathrooms. I’m Lovin’ It.

9:45.

I cross the crazy-multi-intersection back to Costco. I see that the van is still in the bay. So, I kill time by actually, you know, shopping in Costco. (Hint, the doors open early Post-Thanksgiving. Most people are lined up for returns…)

I pick up some bananas, pigs-in-a-blanket. Bottle of egg nog. A couple of those. Chips.

I pay the lady, get the exit-door guy to mark my receipt, then I see my van pull out of the bay. I show the dude my paper work, and I get in and drive away.

But, I’m left wondering… Surely, there’s got to be some decent breakfast place in the neighborhood. Near the 5. Victory and Burbank. Near the Costco. I come by all the time, just not usually in the morning with time to kill. This was my chance. And, now… I’m afraid I will never know.

Where do the people eat?

(And, now the Burbank Chamber of Commerce will flood me with freebies… Let’s see. Let’s hope.)