I just discovered this most evocative of phrases and felt compelled to share it.
Also too: Notable Sheds™ is the name of my new band. The shed was talked about will be the first line of its debut release, a triple-disc concept album about small wooden self-standing storage units. Name pending.
The wiimote dies. The Boy requests help. Naturally, I call for one of my seven thousand daughters to do it because Allah forbid I go to the trouble of finding new batteries and taking the cover off and replacing the old ones and so on.
The Bean comes right away and cheerfully hooks her brother back up.
She picks up the book she'd been holding and I see that she was about halfway through the last chapter. "Oh, jeez, kiddo, I'm sorry," I say, and for once I mean it. Getting interrupted when you're 97% of the way done with a book isn't cool.
"No problem," she says, and as usual she sounds like she means it.
I shake my head. "Oh, Bean. You are just too impossibly wonderful. We don't deserve you."
I stop and think. "You're a con man, aren't you?" I ask, coming to the only logical conclusion. "A grifter. You're working the long con, right? You're planning on taking us for every penny we're worth? Which, obviously, isn't much, but that's your scheme, isn't it?"
"Well," she replies. "First of all, I just like to make people happy. Secondly, I don't like when people are mad at me. And third, you're my dad."
She picks up her book and heads off for her room to finish reading. I shake my head in wonder.
An hour later, I realize she never actually answered the question.
Caught in the process of artfully luring more unsuspecting marks.
It's after dinner. As usual, the kids go out in the backyard for a while—depending upon weather and moods, somewhere between forty-five minutes and two and a half hours.
After a while, the Bean and the Golden Weasel go for a walk. The Boy comes in for the night. So the Rose is in the back with the toddler all by herself.
I take pity, and once I finish the dishes, go out to keep her company. The moment she sees me, she starts looking for a tennis ball.
I come in and get the last one from the can atop the fridge. I bring it out and toss it to her.
She winds up and uncorks a wicked fastball with the velocity and accuracy of Nuke LaLoosh. The ball disappears somewhere behind the tool shed. Which is to say, the overgrown area behind the tool shed festooned with black widows and thorns, sorrow and pain.
One throw. Ball lost forever. Game over.
That, it sometimes feels to me, is parenthood in a nutshell.
A few minutes later, the Bean and the Golden Weasel return from their walk. The evening has cooled from its warm but not really hot high of the late afternoon and it's just about the perfect temperature, but they walked up the big hill nearby, so the Bean goes off to take her evening shower.
The Golden Weasel comes over to me. She's a bit sweaty and sticky from her day, and so am I from washing the dishes in hot water in the hot kitchen, but she climbs into my lap even though (I refuse to admit this) at age six and then some, she's a bit too big to really fit as comfortably as she did even just a few months ago. She wiggles the top of her blonde head into the hollow of my neck as she throws her arms around me.
"My daddy," she says sweetly and sighs, content.
That, it sometimes feels to me, is also parenthood in a nutshell.
So here’s something kinda groovy I just discovered this
weekend: scenes from the video game I wrote about eight years ago. Have I mentioned
that I love YouTube?
I wrote this in late 2000, although it took several years to
produce the actual game, which wasn’t released until early 2003. I was never
anywhere near good enough at the game (or any other) to get to where I could
see most of the scenes, although I did have early (and blurry) versions of them
on disc. Still, it’s been a long time since I saw them, and it was pretty cool
to see them again.
One of the things that was so satisfying about this was
that, at that point, there were so few Batman projects that got the Dark Knight
right. The animated show did, but it used a different continuity. And later,
the two most recent films have, but when I was writing this, they were way in
the future. So getting to do the “real” Batman, the way I was writing him in
the comics at the time, he said oh so modestly, was pretty thrilling. As was
using the Batgirl I’d helped create. As well as Oracle, just about my
favorite character of all time.
I know, most of you have no idea what I’m talking about. That’s
okay, neither do I. So here’s one of the clips. There are six of them in total,
including all four of the possible endings, should you make it that far, and
they take almost 45 minutes to watch. I’m going to put two of the six up, but
if you do watch the first one, please please please skip the first minute. If you know Batman at all, it totally ruins a later twist, and if you don't know Batman, it won't mean anything to you anyway. Otherwise, you might want to just watch the other clip, the third
part, since it takes place in Arkham Asylum, which means you get to see lots of
groovy villains and whatnot.
Oh, and I should explain for those of you that have never
played a video game. These bits of animation are called cut scenes. They introduce
a game, give you an idea of the plot and the mission, and then it switches to
game play, where you’re in control. Once you’ve achieved one of the goals, it
cuts back to pure animation, and the plot is advanced a bit more. That’s why these scenes keeps fading to black and then back in—it's like a series of vignettes. And, also, keep in mind that digital
animation makes leaps every year, and that this stuff is seven years old.
Funny, until watching these this weekend, I'd totally forgotten that I had to write a bunch of different endings, including a few where the Batman actually dies. I'm a hopeless romantic, I know, but I found writing those scenes surprisingly moving. What can I say? I'm a geek.
I’ve had a lot of pretty righteous gigs over the years, but this
was definitely one of the coolest.
When we bought our Christmas tree three weeks back it was, of course, just a bit too big to fit into the tree stand. So I took out my handy-dandy saw for the first time—in years past I’d had to make do with a hacksaw which, I quickly learned, was not really very suited to the task; I learned it quickly but still didn’t do anything about it for eight years, so make of that what you will—and lopped off the bottom couple inches and some branches which were inconveniently located and voilá! It fit perfectly.
Naturally, being me, I carried the tree into the house, leaving the lopped-off bit and the branches on the porch. I’m not a good neighbor. I try to be, and I’m pleasant enough, I think. But I really don’t keep my yard up to snuff, at least by the insane standards of my peers.
A couple days later even I got embarrassed by the branches, so I tossed them in the bushes, where they could become compost and thus did my bit for the enduring Circle of Life. The little lopped-off bit I sorta kicked to the side. And every time I walked into or out of the house over the next week or two, I saw and thought to myself, hmmm…I should do something about that. Since I don’t actually walk out of (and therefore, later, into) my house all that much, though, I managed to brush that aside quite successfully.
And then it disappeared. As it clearly meant that Top Management had finally gotten tired of my mess and done my job for me, I was pleased and embarrassed.
But no. Turns out both that pleasure and embarrassment were misplaced for once. Because I looked on the back patio just now and saw that lopped-off bit. It’s somehow migrated to the back out of the house where it’s congregating with a bucket, an old colander, an empty bottle of bubbles and a big ball that sometimes hangs on the jungle gym. I can’t quite wrap my head around what kind of game you can make out of this collection of castoffs, but there it is. Clearly one of my children saw that lopped-off bit and recognized it for the diamond in the rough it is.
Kids are weird. But, man, are they creative. A lopped-off bit of old tree trunk, a colander and a big rubber ball. Of such junk are wonderfully sunny and warm days in January made.
So one of the many reasons I’ve not been updating this here site nearly as often as she deserves is because Top Management, bless her heart, foolishly forwarded me a couple links she’d been sent. Turns out the links were to a whole mess o’ classic arcade games, like Space Invaders, Centipede, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Joust, Qbert, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and so on.
Naturally, I got nothing done for two flippin’ days. But I did find myself having dreams of leaping over barrels and climbing girders in a vain attempt to rescue the girl from a big monkey. Thank God it only has the first screen; had it more I’d probably have died of starvation by now.
Wouldn’t you think she’d know better after all these years?
Anyhoo, in order to share the wealth/love/pain, here are some of the links. If you don’t find the game that you loved oh so much when you were young and restless and bored and living by the sword, trying Googling; you'll be amazed and (later) horrified by how many you’ll find.
Start here, as this one has a ton to choose from, including Tetris, which has invaded not just my dreams but my every waking moment.
This one isn’t a classic, just one we stumbled across, but it’s pretty durn good.
There’s also a perfect recreation of the old Adventure game for the original Atari 2600 which doesn’t hold the same appeal for me as the others because I was a neglected child who never had an Atari or Colecovision or any of that stuff as my parents didn’t love me.
Top Management’s parents loved her, though, so she had an Atari, and upon gazing for the first time in well over twenty years at the Adventure game, she said her heart actually began to pound, remembering how the dragons in the game would chase you as soon as you tried to grab the gold key. I watched her play it and it was a thing of beauty, how her always-lovely face positively glowed as she revisited a beloved childhood friend.
If you didn’t experience back in those days of yore, however, the game comes across as just shockingly lame, so I’m not bothering to include it here. You’ve got Google. Find it yourself, you lazy bastards.