Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

Dancing With The Robots

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Dylan and I went on a big bicycle trip today, we may even have set a new family record for miles covered on a radventure.  Our first stop was Chuck E. Cheese, which is currently Crackerface’s favorite.  Dylan has begun telling stories about the kid centric pizza place to persuade Janelley and I to bring him there.   “We could go to Chuck E. Cheese and dance with the robots, Daddy.  We can eat pizza, and I can play games, it will be a lot of fun,” he tells me with deadly sincerity.

Dylan plans to have his third birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, and we now have several plastic toys and doohickeys imprinted with the logo and likeness of the D-man’s favorite anthropomorphic  mouse.  Mickey who?   My favorite is the inflatable hammer.  That’s right, I said inflatable hammer.  We also currently house a CEC flying disc (frisbee for you oldtimers), a plastic microphone, and a bag of unused tokens and tickets.

Chuck is not the only character in the lineup, so Toddlerpants has developed a close personal relationship with the other onstage personas as well.  We will be dancing up a storm when the music will stop and Dylan will begin lecturing on the subject of their names and group affiliations.  “Chuck E. Cheese is a mouse,  and Jasper is a dog, and Pasqually is a guy, and Helen is a bird, and Munch is a big purple gorilla!”

As I watch my boy resume dancing, the only human faced robot on stage seems to lock eyes with me.  I catch myself wondering how Pasqually the Italian drummer fell in with this crowd when Dylan’s high pitched voice tells me that it is time for “more rides”.  The time for dancing with the robots has passed, and the feeding of the machines is up next, I wonder if he suspects how much I love Chuck E. Cheese?

Dylan on Bob the Builder's 'Dozer

Dylan and Lukas Playing Air Hockey

Dylan Sharing His Green Balls


In Uncategorized on August 11, 2009 at 12:22 am

I did it!  As mentioned previously, I have been working on my repertoire (and working up my courage) to prepare for a thirty minute open mic night performance.  Not wanting to blow my debut, I practiced my songs early in the day, had a set list prepared, and even outlined some banter to cut down on awkward silences and spiraling tangents while on stage.

To say I made a few rookie mistakes would be an understatement.  It turns out that performing on stage is quite a bit different than belting out a tune in the comfort of one’s own living room.  The number one lesson learned is that the more eye contact I make with the crowd, the sloppier my playing becomes.  I occasionally found my mind wandering, thinking ahead in the song or wondering how I was coming across to the audience and lo and behold I would forget the lyrics!

When you are onstage singing and playing by yourself, there is no one else to blame for miscues; no drummer to pin random tempo changes on, no lead singer coming in too early or too late with the lyrics, no drunken guitarist slurring the chord changes while striking guitar hero poses.  They say it helps to picture your audience naked, but while the crowd was good-looking enough this visualization technique can be distracting, so I merely pictured them in their underwear and felt much more comfortable.

The crowd at the Red Raven Espresso Parlor was very welcoming, I got a little bit of a sing-along going on a classic Pink Floyd tune and words of encouragement from some of the other musicians.  Yes, I made a lot of mistakes, but I also rocked.  My set consisted of cover songs and a short contact juggling story, thirty minutes of mostly entertaining music and banter with only occasionally awkward moments.

I used some of my time to comment on the crackdown underway against small venues allowing cover songs to be played.  The music publishers have been bullying the smallest of fish into paying fees to have copyrighted music played in their establishments.  My solution was to declare  that all of the mistakes made were my own original mistakes, and were satirical in nature and so are covered under the fair use provisions of copyright law.

This was on Wednesday, August 5, 2009, from 10:30pm to 11:00pm.  The High Plains Reader chose the same topic as the subject of their editorial and picked the Red Raven’s open mic as a Best Bet for the week.  Raul Gomez (co-owner and multiple hat-wearer of the High Plains Reader) proposed a different solution to the licensing brouhaha, but were we truly thinking along the same lines at the same time?  This is after all a story that has been playing itself out across the country.  Was this a kind of cultural synergy, an issue that both Raul and I were attuned to in approximately the same way?  Or was something more mundane at work?

Perhaps someone took in my performance, left the coffee shop and walked the three or four blocks to the offices above a.k.a. where by many accounts the HPR staff routinely scrambles to throw together a weekly alternative publication in time for their Thursday printing.  I’m just saying is all.

Daddy Flashback: April 28th, 2008

In Uncategorized on August 4, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Note- This is the “pilot” Daddy Dispatch that was presented to the High Plains Reader just a month after I took on parenting as a full-time job.

Although there was snow on the ground it was a beautiful sunny day, and we encountered several smiling faces on our walk toward downtown Fargo (where all the action is, don’cha know).  All of a sudden, we saw a face that was definitely not smiling.  A man was hunched over in the gazebo in Davy Park, groaning and swaying.

My first thought was that he was drunk, and that we should hurry past.  Then he fell.  Now I was facing a serious moral dilemma…do we get involved?  On the one hand, the man may be angry or violent, and there’s no sense exposing a fourteen month old child to that kind of nonsense.  On the other hand, what if the man is hurt and needs medical attention?  And on my third hand, my gut instinct is to help, so we cautiously approached the supine form to see what we could do.

I parked Baby Boots a few feet away, just in case things got ugly, but it turned out that the man was not capable of speech, much less violence.  “What’s your name?” I asked, hoping to start a conversation that would go somewhere, but not at all sure of where it might go.  “Do you need help?  Do you have someone you can call to give you a ride?”

There was no response, but he did extend his hand, so I pulled him to a sitting position and told him to hold on to the nearby post for support.  He promptly fell back over.  I was starting to think police were the answer when the man strung together his first full sentence.  “Please, help me.”

I dialed 911, then the man said, “Please, don’t do that.”  Is it my place to get the police involved when the man has asked me not to?  My phone rang, ending all internal debate.  The 911 operator had called back, the call went through after all, so I did my best to explain the situation to the official voice on the other side of the line.  The questions I was asked in return surprised me.  “Is he intoxicated?  Did he ask for help?”  I had to admit that he did not ask me to call, but stated that I was not comfortable just leaving him lying on the sidewalk.  The operator said they would send someone to check on him, and Baby Boots and I retreated to a safe distance to see what would happen next.

Five minutes later, three squad cars pulled up and it was now out of our hands. I explained to Baby Boots that we sometimes have to make tough choices, even if we don’t know what the end result will be, but that we had made the right decision.

Despite my assuring simplifications, I am left with many questions.  Should I have called 911, or is there another resource I could have tapped for assistance?  Will the man be charged with a crime, or is being incapacitatingly drunk before noon punishment enough?  Did the police see the man as someone who needed help, or did they see him as a waste of their time?  More than anything, I wonder what brought the man to this fork in our path, what stories and experiences left him alone and falling down in a city park on a beautiful spring day, and what responsibility we all have for a world in which this story is not unique.