Saturday, September 30, 2006

Indulge me my occasional bout of sappiness, okay?

I gotta tell ya, I'm not a big fan of going to work. But I love coming home. Because when I get home and my little boy sees me, his whole face lights up, he gets real excited, and he starts chirping "Da Da Da Da." It's a greeting I never grow tired of. After that, Henry and I play on the floor while Ash recounts their day to me, good, bad, or blah. Then dinner, where Henry hopefully eats more than he flings or drops on the floor for the dog. On paper, they're not the most exciting evenings, but every now and then I give myself the gift of remembering to be grateful for them, remembering just what a huge gift a family is, that there are some out there who have to fight very hard just to keep their families united.

Like most working parents, I have a ton of pictures of my family at my desk at work. My monitor's desktop is a constant rotation of favorite Henry pics. I sometimes get overwhelmed by just how strong my feelings for this little guy are. Just sitting there in my cube, I'll happen to glance at one of his pictures, and instead of moving on to whatever task is at hand, I'll stop and think about him for a second, and I'll get a little teary-eyed. Of course, it seems like I've been more prone to uncharacteristic emotional displays lately, but that's another story. It's a bit frightening sometimes, but I try to appreciate it for what it is.

Since I grew up without a father, I sometimes feel like I'm stumbling in the dark as a parent. Of course my mom worked extremely hard to be the best mother she could, and I spent time around other people's dads, but I can't really point to a particular role model, good or bad, to model myself off of, either to emulate or to do the opposite of. I suppose you could say that just by being present, I've made a 100% improvement over my own father's performance, but that's hardly a major accomplishment. I guess that's why I'm always surprised, reassured, and happy when Henry is so excited to see me every single day. Every day, a little reaffirmation that, imperfect though I may be, I matter to this little guy. And that, my friends, is an excellent state of affairs.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More Shit I'm Tired of Hearing About

Every time I read about these so-called "values voters" I just want to punch myself in the face. These are the segments of the conservative base for whom "values" issues such as gay marriage and abortion are of highest priority. According to some blog postings and articles I've read recently, these "values voters" (and yes, I'm going to keep putting it in quotes because that's the easiest shorthand to indicate ridiculousness) are finding themselves to be a bit disillusioned with the Republican Party for not doing enough to put a stop to, that's right, gay marriage and abortion. Opine some in the various political opinion machines, these "values" folks are so unenthusiastic about the GOP that many of them will either vote against the Republicans or just not vote at all.

Stop and think about that for a second. I mean, sure it's great if it helps the Democrats gain some ground. But if in fact there are enough of these "values voters" out there to help sway an election, that means that there are masses of people in this country for whom the Republicans currently in power are simply not hardcore enough. That's like heavy metal fans who think Slayer is a bunch of pussies because they only spew ten gallons of goat's blood off of the stage instead of the thirty gallons typically spewed onto the crowd during the average Norwegian black metal show. Or it's like freestyle fighting enthusiasts who think that UFC matches are weak because the opponents can't take chainsaws into the ring.

"Values voters." Feh. Somebody tell these people that real values, the kinds without quotes, are not centered around the restriction of personal freedoms. You people make me sick.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Whenever stuff happens

Whenever I see an elevator door open and noone exits or enters, I always wonder if an invisible person just stepped off. Are they walking towards me? Am I about to get goosed? Are they naked?
Whenever I walk past an unoccupied desk and the phone is ringing, I am always tempted to pick up the receiver and then slam it back down into its cradle. But I don't.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Habitually Cynical Worldview Is Challenged

So I sort of work in a cave.

Not exactly a cave, but I'm way down at the end of a row of cubicles. It's cool being next to a window, but sometimes it's a bit quiet. There's plenty of other cubes around me, but one of them is empty, and two are occupied by people who are in the office irregularly. Thus, I find myself alone quite a bit of the time.

In a seemingly unrelated but totally related matter, we have an all-employees meeting every month to talk about how kickass the company is doing. Every month during said meeting, the Q&A session inevitably includes somebody asking if they can get a particular office supply. Red pens. Green highlighters. Functioning staplers. And every month, the answer is the same, just go see the office manager lady and she'll hook you up.

So I was looking around my little cave cube dwelling the other day when I was completely by myself, and I decided that I needed a plant. And I decided that a plant qualified as an office supply. So I went to the office manager lady's desk.

HOLMES: So we're supposed to talk to you about office supplies, right?

LADY: (grabs pad and pen, ready to take down The Holmes's request) That's right! What can I do for you?

HOLMES: I need a plant.

LADY: (uncertain) A plant?

HOLMES: Yeah. See, it's kinda dark over where I sit.

LADY: And a plant would brighten it up?

HOLMES: Well it'd add some life to the place.

LADY: I see. What kind of plant?

HOLMES: (indicating nearby plant) I don't care. I'll take this one.

LADY: You can't have that one.

HOLMES: Okay. Well just a plant really.

LADY: And you don't care what kind?

HOLMES: I'd prefer it didn't try to eat me.

LADY: (writing on her pad) One plant. Okay, I'll see what I can do.

I had about zero expectation of actually receiving this request. If I wanted a plant in my cube, I'd hafta bring it from home.

Except, about an hour later, the Office Manager Lady shows up with a plant. A living green plant. "Here you go" she chirped, and set it on my desk. I couldn't believe it.

So now I have a plant. Yay for unexpected responses to smartass requests.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Violence Against Children

So it seems that lately, me and the Ash keep ending up with these movies that depict scenes of violence against children. They range between slightly unnerving to horrifically graphic, but the common thread is definitely there, and in some cases they jarred me so bad that I couldn't help but get up and go check on Henry while he slept (Syriana, Tsotsi, I'm talking to you).

Which brings us to the other night when Ash and I plunked down to watch
The Pledge. I'll spare you the extended review, but let's just say that's two hours I'll never get back. The plot revolves around the main character's hunt for a murderer of little girls, and as such there are some rather graphic scenes. It's no Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but as a parent, it was more than enough to disturb my otherwise pleasant suburban evening.

It was while watching this film, this completely squandered bit of cinematic potential, that the Ash piped up with an observation about the recent glut in our household of movies with this kind of imagery, one which I found interesting. She said at first that she thought it was a weird coincidence, us getting all these movies with kids suffering at the hands of violent hate-filled adults. Then she thought that maybe somehow we were subconsciously choosing them, as if some force deep within our collective psyche was compelling us to move these films to the top of our queue. Which doesn't totally make sense to me, but okay. But then she thought, maybe it's simply that there's a boatload of movies out there that depict violence against children.

Before I go any further, I'm not about to try and make a case for censorship. Just so you know. I don't think it makes much sense to blame the movies for society's ills. If anything, blame society's ills for the movies.

I don't know if there's any relevance to it or not, but I think Ash may have a point. Regardless of how they keep ending up in our DVD player, there simply are a lot of films that depict violence of some sort against children. Becoming a parent obviously causes me to notice it more than I did before, and in fact, I think I've found myself to be much more sensitive to violence overall. Again, I'm not advocating for censorship, nor would I ever. I hardly think I fit the profile of the hysterical parent who thinks the world needs to be padded in Nerf foam and is outraged, OUTRAGED I TELL YOU, at all of the corrupting influences out in the world that could stain his poor baby's innocent little soul. But still, I have to ask, what does it mean? What can we say about a society whose film, whose art, whose entertainment, is capable of producing such imagery? Are they a happy people? Do they find this kind of thing entertaining? Are they so desensitized to violence that their filmmakers have resorted to victimizing children on screen in order to disturb an otherwise blas
e audience? Or, perhaps looking on the brighter side, does it all indicate a broader cultural awareness of the tragedy of a child's suffering? I know it may sound stupidly obvious to say that children suffering is tragic, but I don't think it always was quite so. In other words, maybe the massive appearance of violence against children in movies is actually a sign of progress.

Then of course, there's the question of why? Why show such imagery? As a playwright who's penned some rather brutal scenes of my own, I think that much of the time, the intention is in fact to disturb the viewer, to jar them out of a complacent state, if only for a moment's thought, a brief reconsideration that the world as they know it is in fact the place they think it to be. Sure, sometimes, scenes like this are only meant to shock or disgust, but I think the intention is usually easy enough to infer.

And one more question I have to bring up: why is violence against a child more tragic than violence against an adult? My short answer: it's not. But I have to confess, I think it's more my head giving that answer than my gut or my heart.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

New Stuff

New things Henry's doing:

1) Sharing food:

sharing with mom

He's definitely getting better at feeding himself, as evidenced by the improvement of his mouth to floor ratio. He pretty much tried to feed the dog from the first day we put food in front of him, but just recently he's started trying to share with me and the Ash as well. Today alone, he and I fed each other banana, pasta, and peas. He seemed to find as much satisfaction in feeding me as he did with filling his belly.

2) Holy rocking crap, Henry threw up his first today. We weren't prompting or coaching or listening to Black Sabbath or anything. He just up and out of nowhere. Tragically, the camera was not in reach at the moment, but his Aunt Kiki and Uncle Alan were there to bear witness to Henry's first great moment in rock.

Oh, and not necessarily something new that Henry did, but we bought his first Halloween costume yesterday, and I think the Ash and I are both bursting at the seams to see him in it. He may just have to wear it once before Halloween arrives. Technically, this is his second Halloween, but he was only ten days old for his first one, and he insisted on dressing up as a colicky baby and he refused to leave the house.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Better Days

Ah man, back when we had Ann in the governor's mansion and Bill in the White House.

Good night Ann. Thanks for everything.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Random Quotations Meme

From reverend mommy, who I don't actually know, but whose blog I enjoy:

It's an easy one to do. The rules: Go here and look through random quotes until you find 5 that you think reflect who you are or what you believe. Feel free to use the "New Random Quotations" button at the bottom of the page. I hereby tag all my friends with blogs.

Here's mine:

"Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information."
Kurt Vonnegut
US novelist (1922 - )

The arts must be considered an essential element of education... They are tools for living life reflectively, joyfully and with the ability to shape the future."
Shirley Trusty Corey

"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."

Mahatma Gandhi
Indian ascetic & nationalist leader (1869 - 1948)

"In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you."
Leo Tolstoy
Russian mystic & novelist (1828 - 1910)

"The world is now too small for anything but brotherhood."
Arthur Powell Davies

Plus a few more good ones:

"The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
US jurist (1841 - 1935)

"If dracula can't see his reflection in the mirror, how come his hair is always so neatly combed?"
Stephen Wright
US comedian and actor (1955 - )

"Modesty in an actor is as fake as passion in a call girl."
Jackie Gleason
US television actor & comedian (1916 - 1987)

Monday, September 11, 2006

All the sorrow in this world

It is so easy to get distracted in this life. So incredibly easy to have your gaze pulled away from The Big Picture. To get caught up in bullshit and forget to focus on That Which Truly Matters.

I had absolutely no intention of mentioning 9/11 in this blog today. In fact, if I remember right, I bet if you searched the archives of this humble blog, you'd find not a single mention of that day. And today on its five year anniversary, I had no more intention of writing about it than I did yesterday or the day before or last St. Patrick's Day. It's not that I intentially set out to not write about it, but seeing as how
nearly every story on NPR this morning, and over half of the headlines in my blog reader today were 9/11 related, I just felt no need to add mine to the 17 megatons of voices already going on about it from all sides. And folks, now that I've brought that day up, I wouldn't blame you a bit if you stopped reading right now.

Cuz see, I sorta changed my mind about not blogging about 9/11. And since it's late in the day on 9/11, most of you won't read this until 9/12 at the earliest.

See I was coming back from running an errand on my lunch hour today, and I was singing along with one of my favorite songs:

Man I was singing it, the kind of uninhibited belting that somebody like me can only achieve when sealed away in the solitude of their vehicle. Or when drunk. And at this point, I was not thinking about 9/11. I didn't have the above video scrolling by in front of my eyes. I wasn't thinking about crumbling buildings or bombs or children with seared flesh or the sound of a uniformed voice telling you that your kids no longer have a father/mother. I was probably only thinking about getting back to the office so I could eat my sandwich and then slog through the rest of the day so I could go home. Except then I came around a corner and I saw a flag at half mast, and I thought "why's that flag...?" but before I finished asking the question, I remembered yet again what day it was, and it was right at the part of the song where he mentions good men being trampled down "just to settle a bet that could not be won between a prideful father and his son." And right there in my car, music blaring, grief washed over me like a fucking tidal wave.

Typically, whenever the subject of 9/11 comes up, I roll my eyes. It's not that I don't see it as an unspeakable tragedy, because it is. It's just that I tend to let my focus get stuck on the political side of things...which is ironic since I always get angry whenever I hear about blatant politicizing of that yes, I get angry a lot. And as its anniversary approached, the only thing I really thought about was how our idiot President would once again use it as an opportunity to tell us how great his war is going and how we have to watch out for terrorists around every corner while he pretends that he gives two shits about the deaths that his war has caused. Meanwhile the left and the right will continue to hash it out all the way up to election day. The political blogs will keep firing away. And people will keep dying.

But today, I don't know why exactly, but something hit me, something well beyond politics. I don't know if it was the song or my mood or what, but all I've been able to think about since I found myself tearing up uncontrollably in the car this afternoon is all the death and grief and rage and hurt that led up to that day, that happened on that day, and that have stemmed from that day. Death built on lies built on tragedy built on hate built on...shit, where does it stop? The sheer number of people dead, the number of loved ones left behind.

So if we're going to remember 9/11, let's remember every last bit of it. Every last life lost. The victims in the towers and in the planes and in the Pentagon. The first responders. Every soldier and civilian killed in the ensuing wars, no matter what side they were on. And while I'm at it, every poor uneducated Middle Eastern kid who gets duped into strapping a bomb to his chest by a charismatic psychopath with a carefully edited version of the Qur'an. And the sorrow of every loved one who will mourn them until the day they die. Because, as I so easily forget sometimes, it's about people, not politics. And it's not just the loss of American life that's a tragedy. It all is.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Theater Goes Corporate

If art is a lie that tells the truth, then the Yesmen are the most honest thespians I've ever heard of. From their site:
"Honest people impersonate big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.... The Yes Men have impersonated some of the world's most powerful criminals at conferences, on the web, and on television, in order to correct their identities. They currently have hundreds of thousands of job openings."

Help Isabel

I don't know these people at all, but if Henry ever got sick, I'd want the word to get out. This is Isabel and she's a sick little girl in need of help. Click the picture to check out the website.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Protest Picture

Picture from an antiwar protest in, of all places, Salt Lake City, Utah.

I hope the answer to this kid's shirt is "no", but since we're going to have to attack the entire world, I'm afraid it's "maybe."

Monday, September 04, 2006

#$%* you I won't sleep when ya tell me

Look upon these pictures my friends, look upon them and understand that the Holmes today is different from the Holmes of the past.

Henry and Dad RATM

Henry and mom RATM

See, ten years ago or so, had I seen some happy couple with their happy little baby wearing a Rage Against The Machine onesie, I think a little short circuit would have occured in my brain. "Do they think that's fucking cute?! Do they think that's clever?! How can they dress a baby up in a shirt (for I did not know the term "onesie") bearing the name of the MOST AWESOME BAND IN THE HISTORY OF EXISTENCE?!?!?! That baby doesn't know how to rage against any machines! He's too young to have learned of the evils of capitalism! He knows nothing of the suffering masses or of class warfare or of corporate greed!"

Yes, that's how seriously I took RATM and myself. Can't say I'm proud, but hey, let's dredge up a few of your past attitudes and see how well they hold up. And anyone who thinks that a baby can't rage against a machine hasn't seen Henry smash a phone and a remote control together repeatedly, as if he's trying to meld them together into one supercontroller.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Welcome to the new blog

So yes, I'm shutting down my old blog and have officially moved over to this new free one. And just like any move, things are a bit of a mess, there are some unpacked boxes shoved in corners, and I don't have any decorations up, but I'm moved. And yes, I did make the slightly nutty move of importing all my old entries from my old blog into this new one. Yes I did. I thought about just abandoning it and leaving all that old stuff behind, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. That old blog was started right after we found out that Ashley was pregnant with Henry, and many of those entries follow the pregnancy and the first ten months of his life. I like to think that in however many years, Henry might want to look back and see what his dad had to say during that time. I guess I just want to make sure he has as clear a picture of me as he can, and part of that includes the stuff I put into writing.

So anyway, welcome to the new blog. Look forward to more Holmes goodness.