Reality Is Not Real

I’ve been watching too much reality TV lately (hint: there’s nothing really “real” about it…)

If you own a failing restaurant, and you actively seek out television shows like Restaurant Impossible or Kitchen Nightmares for help, understand a few things:

– The production scout singled your place out 2 months ago. Measurements were taken. Menus sampled. Nothing edible was found. Nothing. And, that’s a good thing, at least for you. Your customers, not so much. There’s a reason they found you in this strip mall.

– The TV Host is English, so there’s a language problem to begin with. But, he has a point. Please, don’t advertise your shrimp as fresh if it is frozen. Your salsa is homemade because it comes from a jar. And if you have a can opener in the house of re-fried beans?…

BAM! Go to hell. Straight to hell.

(Also, there’s a TV crew watching everything. So, act accordingly. “Act” accordingly.)

– The Host will hate your food and demand that you update your menu to meet his standards. If you are too stubborn to change the menu, then why on God’s Green Earth did you call these people? You asked them to come. You read the memo. You signed the contract. Don’t look at me.

– Acknowledge this: Your kitchen is filthy, reprehensible, and disgusting. You should be expected to be insulted, infuriated, and/or in denial. You didn’t clean out the fridge before the camera crew arrived? You understand the premise of these shows, yes? They are looking for filth.

When studying your menu…

– Your host will ask you for stuff that no one in their right mind will ask for. Like the “house specialty.” Goat cheese and chicken liver ravioli in a jalapeño pesto sauce?


The Host will spit it out. (Rightly so.)

Everything else on the menu sucks.

– The Host also hates your decor. It’s something from your grandma’s kitchen with a ’50s stained carpet. It deserves to be hated. Everything is covered in plastic. Also, stained.

The Host has a maximum of 48 hours to get this place clean. And completely redesigned. There’s also a laughably small budget. (Because, TV.)

– Also, The Host, despite not having any training in psychology or family counseling, will diagnose and cure you of years of pent up frustrations, resentments, and hostilities with your family and staff. And get you into the 21st century with the computers and the internet and such. In 48 hours. He’s a miracle worker.

But, your regulars are seeking comfort food. Canned tomato sauce. Frozen clams. Reheated burgers. That’s their expectation. And, now you’ve added arugula and parsnips. Who eats that crap?

But, it’ll help if you play along.

Wild World of Gymnastics

In the world of Gymnastics, there are two major organizations: The USAG and the USAIGC.

The USAG are the folks who train, mold, shape, and form the next group of girls for the Olympics. The elite of the elite.

The USAIGC is more family friendly. Winning isn’t the only thing. Yes, excellence is the goal, but there are other things in life. Like school. And ice cream. Plus, it’s cheaper.

The USAG requires their girls to practice 20-30 hours per week. Before and after school. And, also requires a “family commitment.” I read that as dollar signs.

The USAIGC, especially through our YMCA, is actually a great deal. And, it is a wonderful program if you are testing the waters.

We’re poor, so the USAIGC is our path. (The “Family Commitment” is only a few hours per week.)

Funny story:

Turns out, my lovely daughter Isabella (she’s 8) is actually very, very good at the flipping and the flopping. The old post-Soviet Armenian coach told me this when she first started (imagine the accent): Your daughter is verrry verry good.)

I thought he was just being nice. But, turns out, he wasn’t just being nice. He was telling the truth.

She actually is very, very good

So, here we are. In Indian Wells, California for the World Championships. Isabella qualified on the basis that she performed well at the Regional Championship. She is an odds-on favorite for a medal.

In the end, Isabella takes the All-Around Silver Medal. And, we can’t be more proud of her. She finished higher than any other girl from the Glendale Y in history. (And she stuck around to encourage her other teammates who competed later. She’s a classy kid.)

USAIGC 2015 World Medals

But, it’s not about the medals. Because on the trip home (the girls): I want sushi! I hate sushi! I want chicken! I want ice cream! Blah blah Blah.

World Silver Medal!


The Chipmunks

Statement of fact:

Julianna (she’s 10): Daddy, small people sound like chipmunks when they talk.

Me: Well, people tell me I’m short. Do I sound like a chipmunk?

J: No, Dad. Like a dwarf or a munchkin.

Me: So, you’re saying I’m a dwarf, then.

J: No, Dad. You’re a regular person. You just kinda stopped growing somewhere along the way.

Me: So, I’m not a munchkin?

J: No, well, but. You just stopped growing. But, your stomach kept going. Hahaha! You’re fat!

Me: Grrr…

J: I am an awesome kid!

Me: Grrr… No you’re not. And, fat people and dwarfs are regular people, too. Be nice.

A teaching moment.

West Coast Regional Champion of the World

On the way to last Saturday’s regional gymnastics championships, Isabella (she’s 8) complains about not feeling well. She’s been fighting an on-and-off cold for several days.

Iz (on the road to Redlands, CA): I don’t feel well.
Mommy: What’s wrong, Sweetie.
Iz: I dunno. Parts of me feel sick.
Mommy: Which parts?
Iz: I think my “nervous” parts.

Rest assured, Iz got past her stage fright. And, so without further ado, I present:

Your 2015 Uneven Parallel Bars West Coast Champion (of the wooorld!), (8-year-old division): Isabella!

Gymnast....  Salute!

Gymnast…. Salute!

Overall, 1 Gold (bars), 1 Silver (vault), 2 Bronzes (beam and floor). And an All-Around Silver medal! In her first year of competition.

Nationals are next… We are considering adding a trophy room to the house.

The 23rd on the 23rd

The 23rd on the 23rd.

Today marks Lynn’s and my 23rd anniversary (also on a Saturday). In 1992, Johnny Carson aired his last Tonight Show on the night before our wedding. This week, David Letterman retired from The Late Show. Let’s see how many more talk show hosts we can outlast. Happy Anniversary to my Sweetie.

Also, I understand there are children. First I’ve heard of it… (also, there’s a blog?)


Mommy: Julianna, you can’t have both the iPad and Laptop at the same time. I have work to do.

Julianna (she’s 10): But, I’m doing something AND watching something.

Skipping the “back in my day” lecture…

Mommy: Give me the iPad. Now.

J: I was multi-tasking. But, now I’ll have to log in to Netflix.

Back in my day…

As Narrated By…

Heading out to pick up Isabella from her Saturday gymnastics practice, I find Julianna (she’s 10) in the car seat next to me.

Me: When did you get there?

J: Daddy, I was always there.

Me: Well, not always, you see the Big Bang…

J: Dad stop. Can I put on the radio?

Me: Of course.

She clicks it on. Blondie. “Heart of Glass.” My arms start dancing while I’m still holding the steering wheel.

J: Daddy, please stop. It’s dangerous.

Me: Honey, my elbows want to talk! Because we haven’t heard enough Blondie on the ’80s station recently.

And, I actually said this:

Me: … He said facetiously.

Without skipping a beat:

J: Dad, please stop narrating yourself. (actual quote.)

Because I do do that a lot (Ha! I said doodoo! Help me.)

Julianna flips the station to the adult contemporary station. She’s a “Maneater.” Thanks for that Daryl and John.

We are stuck at stoplight. A couple of little girls cross the street with their Mom. The girls are in flouncy skirts with crinoline.

Me: I bet they just came from a performance.

J: Maybe they just like skirts.

Me: Nobody wears skirts like that unless they are performing.

J: Well, but you do.

Me: No, I don’t. That was a joke, right?

J: But you can’t wear high heels.

Me: No, I can’t balance.

J: Because you are fat.

Me: No, honey. Not because I am fat. I’ve never worn them. So, I’d be wobbly.

J: Because you’re fat.

…And, we haven’t even picked up Isabella yet. The trip home? Fuggetaboutit.

By the way, I’m Ok with men wearing skirts. As well as women wearing pants.

Hot Water Heater. It’s All about the Bidet. Part II.

I know that most of you didn’t read the previous post about our busted/no good/rotten water heater. Take a second and scroll down to catch up. It’ll take but a minute.

I’ll wait…

Ok… You’re back. So, the plumber people gave us the news: Our water heater was dead. Yeah, we got that.

They were happy to replace our old water heater for $1500. Which is a lot of money. But, we asked… What else ya got?

Editor’s note: Lynn and I have longed for an instant water heater for the bathrooms because they currently take, no kidding, four minutes of water flow before anything becomes even lukewarm. And, we’re in the middle of a drought. So, the state-suggested 5 minute shower is actually ONE minute.

Trust me, there are things I cannot clean in one minute.

Also, the water heater is in the kitchen and we want to remodel.

So, we talked to the plumber boss and we settled on an Instant-Hot-Water system. It’s a bit more pricey. Also, We could use the space as a kitchen cupboard. An additional 50 cubic feet!

But, really, we’re talking about the bidet. No one wants to talk about it. Elephant in the room. The French say “Bih-Day.” The English: “BEE-day.” The girls: “Butt Washer.”

It looks so innocent.

It looks so innocent.

The previous owners of our house built one in to the master bathroom. But, trust me, you don’t want to sit around (literally) for four minutes waiting for warm water to flow. Because, cold water THERE is enough to make you jump. Believe me, I tried it.

These things will change your life. (I’m not kidding.)

So, the plumbers assure of that we’ll have warm water within 30 seconds. Because, my ass if they don’t. Literally.

Hot Water Heater. A Pleonasm* (note the asterisk, see below). Part I.

You know how sometimes, you’re standing in your kitchen at 11:00 at night, and you hear gentle raindrops falling. Then you remember, it’s not supposed to rain tonight. So, you open the door and look out at the beautiful nighttime sky. And you see the moon. And Venus. And even, if you squint hard enough, you can make out Jupiter. There’s not a cloud in the sky.

So, you close the door, and yet, you still hear the drip, drip of water.


So you (and when I say “you,” of course I mean “I”)… So you open up the closet that holds the water heater. And, there’s the source of your “rainfall.” A rusted out unit. Drip, drip, dripping.

Because, come on, how often do you check your water heater for rust?

Because, come on, how often do you check your water heater for rust?

And, it’s 11:00 at night.

So you do what you’re supposed to do: First thing, you wake up your wife. Because, we’re in this together, baby.

OK, so buckets and towels. You turn off the gas pilot light, and shut-off the water intake valve. You attach a hose to the drain (there’s another hilarious slapstick comedy* moment) and open it.

And, nothing drains. Because when you try to let air into the tank, you realize that the shut-off valve is broken. And water starts spraying everywhere.

Did I mention: Crap. And, you’re dog tired.

So, you seal up all the connections and put the buckets under the tank. And, you plan to call the plumber in the morning. Because, there’s nothing you can do about it now.

And, now the plumber is here. Part II of this story will follow. I know you can’t wait. (Neither can I. I need a shower.)

*A Pleonasm is the use of more words than necessary to define something. Like, a hot water heater (you’re not heating hot water). A burning fire. A free gift. A true fact. And, “slapstick comedy.” (Have you ever heard of a slapstick melodrama?) See… Reading this blog will make you intelligently smart.