Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Graduate (Part 1)

I still think the idea of “graduating” a 5-year-old from preschool kind of diminishes the whole idea of accomplishment that used to accompany graduation. When I was a kid, getting to graduation was hard work, and accolades were not handed out as we transitioned from each grade to the next. Ass-whuppings, yes, if we failed to make said transition. But award ceremonies were reserved for bigger occasions.

As I was grousing about this a few days before the big event, to the very nice fellow who works the desk at The Boy’s preschool, he pointed out that a lot of these kids—unlike ours—had been going to school together now for three or four years. For some of them, this was saying goodbye to friends they’d known since they were in diapers together.

I hate it when the other guy’s point is better than mine. What could I do? I acquiesced; let the fake-graduation ceremony take place as scheduled.

Then on the day of, today, it was bloody murder getting there. I figured I’d leave ahead of time and arrive maybe a half hour early to get some shots of the kids during the run-up to the deal. I started packing up to leave an hour beforehand, figuring in a 15-minute drive. Best not to leave anything to chance. After all, The Boy only graduates from preschool once! At 50 minutes before the ceremony, I discovered our little video camera—which it was my job to bring and deploy—was broken. Fuck! No problem, though. I was just in Costco a couple days ago, and they had crates of Flip Videos priced for quick sale. (Apparently it’s fast on its way to becoming a dead technology.)

So I raced to Costco, conveniently right down the street from us. The Flip Videos had been picked over and the remainder had been moved to a much lower-profile display location, in just two days! I grabbed one and found a mercifully short checkout line. I fast-walked out to the car because it was—as usual—cold and windy as hell outside. I got in and began wrestling with the industrial strength plastic shell they seal small, highly-stealable tech items in. This is probably the point in the day when I sliced open my finger, although I did not notice it at the time.

I finally got the plastic shredded and the box open, only to discover that that model doesn’t run on a pair of AA batteries (with which I had come well equipped) like the older versions, it runs on 3 AAA batteries, or ideally a rechargeable battery pack, included. Unfortunately, it was by then a half hour until graduation and I had no time at all to charge up a battery pack, so I decided to run into Rite Aid on the way and buy some AAA batteries.

I got there and dashed into the store, tore open a 10-pack of AAA batteries at the photo kiosk and shoved three of them into my new gizmo while the clerk gawped at me. Hallelujah, they worked! The camera bipped to life. I went to the counter to pay for the batteries, but the counter person and customer ahead of me were both exceptionally chatty, so I decided to head back to the pharmacy. They almost never have a line at this branch and I had an RX to pick up anyhow. As I stepped up to the window, the ancient pharm-tech waved me back and turned around to deal with a drive-through prescription customer. I died a little more inside, but fortunately the drive-through customer couldn’t roll their car window down, so the transaction was necessarily cancelled.

The pharm-tech turned back to me. I cited my name and she looked over the long line of “B” prescriptions, and began to carefully inspect each plastic bag’s I.D. sticker. Honestly, it was like watching Tim Conway’s old man character from The Carol Burnett Show. Not locating the bag with my name, the old lady mused, “Well, let’s go look you up,” and shuffled slowly over to her computer screen. She stared suspiciously at for a moment it then carefully raised her glasses up to her nose. After a minute of slow-motion key-stroking, she smiled at me and drawled, “Well, you’re in here all rightee. Just gotta find you,” and shuffled back to the long line of “B” prescriptions.

[edit, edit, edit…]

I finally made it to the preschool with about 5 minutes to spare. I fast-walked some more, this time to The Boy’s classroom. I barged in the door and everybody turned and looked at me like I’ve got rocks in my head. (And I’m thinking, “Shit, where are all the other parents? Is this thing gonna go off on time?”) The nice teacher jumped up and led me by the arm out the door and pointed to the room down the hall wherein all the other parents had long since assembled. I stumbled in, all eyes turned to me, and I was relieved to see The Missus beckon from the front row.

In no time at all after my arrival, the kids came streaming in. I had my frantically-purchased new Flip Video, dead-technology camera out, and I was shooting my usual background stuff. You know, B-roll. The teachers had prepared a video montage of the year’s highlights, then certificates would be awarded, cupcakes would be served, the end. I decided it would be fun shooting the teachers trying to keep the kids quiet during the video presentation.

Fourteen minutes in, my new camera informed me my brand-new batteries were down to about 10%.

In 14 minutes.

I turned it off and ended up shooting the certificate handing-out with my little digital still-camera’s video setting:

Eight seconds later, the big moment had come and gone.

In the end, it was delightful and charming as only events where well-meaning adults try to get a crowd of five- and six-year-olds to do their bidding in an orderly fashion can be.

We got lots of pictures. His teachers:

Some friends:

I still don’t know whether or not it’s a good thing, a graduation for every year of their life. I remain unconvinced. Happily for everyone involved, I don’t have to approve, I just have to show up on time and have the camera situation together, and I damn near dropped the ball on both today.

Ah well. There’s always next year’s graduation ceremony.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Black is the color of my true love’s heart

Picked The Boy up from preschool yesterday, and all the kids had been busy with a craft project that involved arranging, then melting colorful plastic beads into kid-friendly shapes likes flowers, hearts, teddy bears, etc.

He hands me the piece below, and he says, “I made this for you, Daddy.”

Every other piece he’s made using this process, he’s included every color of the rainbow. So I say, “Well, that’s lovely. How come it’s all black?”

He beams at me. “I know that’s your favorite color!”

Monday, April 25, 2011

On the horns of a metaphor of some sort…

So I’m watching Mildred Pierce with Kate Winslet on HBO. I had originally skipped the first two (of five) episodes, because the critics were unanimous that they draaaaaagged. The last three episodes were great. Evan Rachel Wood is amazing. All that quality personal time spent with Marilyn Manson has not gone to waste on her art.

The last few episodes were so good, I decided to go ahead and watch the first couple anyhow. Man, am I glad I did. The pace isn’t slow or leisurely, but deliberate. Every moment is a telling one. Every detail, down to the smallest one, informs the story.

Example: I just watched a scene where a broke, desperate Mildred Pierce gets off a bus during the Depression, while on a job hunt, and in the background is another woman wearing the exact same drab, faded print dress as Kate Winslet. It’s such a small moment it probably went right by most viewers, but to me it said volumes about Depression-era America.

It was otherwise definitely a scene—the protagonist walking down a street—the critics would have trimmed to get to Wood’s big nude scene in episode five, and the quality of the film as a whole would have suffered for it.

Why do I bring this up? Why has it crawled under my skin and hung out its shingle?

On account of I have my own piece of long-form fiction in the can, and the one thing everyone who’s taken a look at it agrees on is that it draaaaaags in the beginning. One told me, “I’m 80 pages in and nothing has happened.”

The first 80 pages establishes an alternative timeline where Christ didn’t die on Golgotha; the villains—complete with metahuman abilities—are introduced; the Shroud of Turin is vandalized; and one main character meets his Love Interest while another main character is murdered.

Come on—that’s a lot of story for 80 pages!

[Full disclosure: I also got called on a horrible cliché in the second paragraph of chapter one. For years, the offending sentence ended thusly: “…like a metaphor of some sort.” Unfortunately, what I came up with to replace the placeholder line wasn’t even that good, but I have since corrected it to my critic’s satisfaction.]

So now I don’t know what to do. I’m under no illusions that my little alternative-history thriller is on a par with Todd Holland’s magnificent Mildred Pierce, but in my opinion, all the critics bellyaching about how long it took Pierce to get going got it wrong. Every “draaaaagging” moment is rich in period, plot and/or character detail.

And I think my epic is, too, but I’m way to close to it to tell.

In the end, I agree with the criticism of my story in that a lot of the first part of the narrative is filled up with characters whom I do not particularly like, who are not there to be liked. I’m trying to think of a way to consolidate their scenes, or streamline them, but I can’t figure out how to eliminate them entirely or move them from the front of the book without cutting the story off at the knees. Everything that happens later in the story hangs on what happens in the beginning.

Just like Mildred Pierce.

So I’ve fixed the opening cliché. I’m gonna print out about the first ten chapters, paper-clip them by chapter, and see if there isn’t stuff that can be consolidated or cut without rendering the story incomprehensible. I think graphically, and maybe having the pages laid out in front of me instead of filed away on my computer will make things clearer.

I think I’ve got one last edit in me. New goal is the same as the old one; make it the best story it can be, and if at all possible, get to the action a little quicker. But watching Mildred Pierce turn down one shitty, demeaning job after another—and discovering that the first couple hours of Mildred Pierce do not suck at all, in spite of critical consensus to the contrary—has re-remotivated me.

I’m gonna drive a stake through the heart of this manuscript. I’m gonna tighten the beginning, polish it to my satisfaction free of commercial considerations, then move on to something else. Like a… like a… you know, a metaphor of some sort.

It’s gonna be great. I can’t wait to be done with the fucking thing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A shout-out to my homies…

I’ll see you at the rally and march today. Civil disobedience never promised to smell so sweet!

They tell me I’m 49 today…

Everybody who had their money on 48 owes me $20 a head. Paypal preferred.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This generation’s Townes Van Zandt

Meet Hayes Carll, my newest, most favoritest young singer:

What is it about Texas that breeds such ghastly politics and amazing songwriters?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Zach!

The clip below is from a club show in the late 90s, where he saved the evening, playing after two memorably horrible opening bands; one that was awful by design, the other hilariously oblivious in a Spinal Tap-meets-people who can’t play their instruments kind of way.

From one survivor to another, congratulations on another successful trip around the sun!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Trying to read the Tea leaves

Setting aside all the “birther” nonsense and the other extremes of the Tea Party—they just burn up all the oxygen in the room making it impossible for thoughtful discourse to proceed—it’s not that none of the points they make are without merit.

Philosophically, I think most people would agree that government, like private citizens, oughtn’t to spend more than they make. Can you imagine if every Tom, Dick and Harry in America could “raise his debt ceiling” whenever he reached his credit card limit?

It wouldn’t even make plausible science fiction.

I’m watching ABC’s Sunday morning political chat show and they have four of the new Tea Party Congressional freshmen on, and my jaw damn near hit the ground when one of them just said he’d be willing to vote to raise the debt ceiling if he was guaranteed certain fiscal concessions “down the road.”

And it occurred to me that this was how this first wave of Tea Party legislators were going to be absorbed into the system; their credulity will be exploited.

Watching these until-recently dentists and (I swear) used car salesmen agitate for the non-repeal of Bush’s tax cuts for gazillionaires just underscored that credulity. Just one year in and they’ve already been brought to heel.

Because they did not come to Washington to prop up Big Business or save the government at all; they came to dismantle the system, not repair it. It was their stated purpose, and poor people and welfare cheats (among others) from sea to shining sea voted for them in droves. (I know some of these ne’e’r-do-wells myself, the ones who exist on the government teat yet vote against every social program, bond issue and progressive politician who comes along because they’re just simply not bright enough to put A together with B and come up food stamps. One of them recently drove from Tucson to Las Vegas and got lost for five hours. Five hours in this age of satellite oversaturation and GPS everything. Big-time Tea Partier.)

Except for a few clever young guys and gals, this crop of Tea Party legislators look like they’re going to be as gullible as the people who sent them to Washington. In that sense, they are the perfect representatives of their constituency.

If they go ahead and vote to raise the debt ceiling, they’re toast. Or as the leading GOP presidential contender would say, “They’re fired!” That’s not what their districts sent them to D.C. to do.

Whatever the solution to the budget pickle is, if one even exists, isn’t on the table yet. It’s not scaling back government to its barest bones then throwing them to the super-wealthy to chew on; and it can’t be running up our national debt in perpetuity. That’s one the Tea Partiers are right on. Eventually that bird will indeed come home to roost and it will not be pretty.

If anything is gong to rescue us, it’s going to be an unforeseen event. It’s sure not going to be the current political wrangling going on in D.C. There, you have the Republican party at war with itself—one half wanting to scale government back to almost nothing, and the other half who won’t be satisfied till it’s nothing nothing; and on the other hand, you have the feckless Democrats, who couldn’t find their cajones with both hands.

Still, the Dems and the old-school GOP lawmakers have a lot more in common with each other than the Republicans do with their Tea Party brethren. All the Old Dogs on either side of the aisle are committed to preserving the status quo in some way, shape or form, while the Tea Partiers just want to burn the place down.

Consequently, fabulous political theater occurs in Washington and precious little else. And after the battle of the budget, it looks like it’s Crafty Old Pros 1, Wide-Eyed Newbies 0.

We’ll see if the newcomers wise up when “down the road” stays forever just over the horizon. When the current batch of legislators is back pulling teeth and selling Buicks, we’ll see if their Tea Party replacements will hew more closely to the party line. I’m guessing they will.

And then, while we wait for the unforeseen event that will either unite or destroy us, we will learn if anarchy is indeed preferable to bureaucracy.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Atlas watches own movie, shrugs

Okay, I had heard through the grapevine that Atlas Shrugged sucks ass by unanimous critical consent. I begged the grapevine not to tell me anything about what he’d heard, but he insisted.

I went anyhow. I already survived Sucker Punch this year, I figured I could sit through anything.

It turns out, Atlas Shrugged was not that bad after all. Oh, but it wasn’t that good, either.

And this is a book that should have been done properly. According to Variety’s review, this film was rushed into production in order to keep rights from expiring, which is never the best motive when creative decisions are being made. (How cheap is it? The film’s shadowy, be-hatted bogeyman, John Galt, is played by the director himself.)

At times, this film had Big Names attached; Angelina Jolie, Clint Eastwood… but over the years, interest waned, the Big Names dropped out and the decision was made to do the film in three parts, and on a relative shoestring. And right fucking now, too!

Accordingly, no-name or character actors were hired to fill pivotal roles, and the absence of any heavy hitters in the lead roles is a considerable impediment. I liked Grant Bowler, who played steel magnate Hank Rearden, but heroine Dagney Taggert was woefully miscast. Whereas the book describes its protagonist as a Katherine Hepburn in her prime-type, Taylor Shilling (of TV’s Mercy), just comes across as wan, pretty, reactive. Empty, half-lidded eyes. Uninteresting except in a leggy way. To put it politely, she is no more Katherine Hepburn than she is Dagney Taggert.

Cohen Brothers vets Jon Polito and Michael Lerner, in small roles, were excellent as always.

The only truly egregious performance in the film was by Jsu Garcia as playboy Francisco D’Anconia. He was genuinely awful. Without checking imdb, I would guess the producers hired a telenovela soap star and he memorized his lines phonetically.

Oh, and the producers might also have hired a director and cinematographer who somebody besides their families have heard of before. Atlas Shrugged is not a property to make your bones on.

But I think the film’s main mistake—besides deciding to do it on the cheap—was in attempting to contemporize Rand’s book, and setting it in 2016 (which I imagine is the year the film’s makers hope to have the third movie in the proposed trilogy out), instead of keeping it the period-piece (1950s America) it would have been by now.

But who would have wanted to watch that? The producers would have to have been Mad Men to even consider it…

It would have benefited in other ways, too, from being set in the recent past. The allegories to the present socio-political climate would have gone down a lot smoother if they hadn’t tried to shoehorn a 60-year-old paradigm into a present-day plot-line. It’s why Spock could always get away with his ad hominem criticisms of humanity—his remove gave him a more objective perspective, which this film, like its source material, ironically lacks.

Which is to say, the movie also suffers from being too faithful to its hardback origins. Most noticeably and gratingly when it repeats passages of Rand’s overheated rhetoric about titans of industry being entitled to the full fruits of their labors. When the book was written and CEOs earned a meager 10 times what their workers did, it was one thing to agitate for their financial recognition. But today, when Captains Of Industry make 300 times what the average worker-bee does, whether or not their company makes any money that year, and in the wake of Wall Street bailouts and white-collar bonus scandals… the argument rings pretty hollow. It would have worked much better in a historical context.

In the end, I thought it was an okay effort, but couldn’t help wishing that HBO had decided to pick it up and give it the Mildred Pierce treatment; as many hours as it needed to tell the story, stay faithful to the source material’s time-period, and throw some Medium-Sized Names into the cast. Jon Hamm could play almost any one of Rand’s heroes. Ellen Page would have ruled as Dagney Taggert.

So it goes…

Atlas Shrugged is definitely for fans of the book only, but most of the fans in the auditorium with me for the noon Friday showing seemed to be pretty satisfied with it. (And to all my Left-Wing friends who expect this movie to be a big draw with the Tea Party crowd, I would question the average Tea-partier’s interest—as well as the average moviegoer’s—in sitting through a 100-minute film of rich people talking to each other in sumptuous drawing rooms about philosophy and economics.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Great Moments in Low Self-Esteem

(An ongoing series)

So I had to pick The Boy up from preschool yesterday because The Missus is sick.

I walked into the classroom and addressed The Boy, we hugged, and he went to get his jacket.

His tiny little teacher pulled me aside with a clipboard in her hand and a stern look on her face. I know that look; my hackles shot straight up.

She says, “Did you pick up The Boy yesterday?” And my mind immediately takes me straight to Defcon One. “What do you mean?” I stammered. “Is he bruised? Is he hurt?” I almost demanded, “What has he been telling you?!” but I’m glad I didn’t. I mean, I have never clobbered this kid, not even once. Hell, I’m not sure I’m still even strong enough to lift him if I wanted to.

Tiny teacher started to smile and waved the clipboard in my face. “The sign-in sheet,” she explained slowly. “Whoever picked your son up yesterday forgot to sign him out.”


The rest, of course, is the usual blur of shame-faced embarrassment and self-deprecating one-liners. No matter how bad I feel, I can always find the energy to kick myself when I’m down.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Daddy-o Gaga

Listening to Michael Nesmith sing “Begin The Beguine.” Really good shit, man. Makes it hard to concentrate on writing. If you’re not familiar with this guy’s work and would like to be, click here to download a collection of personal favorites, or go here and buy the whole albums. I believe they’re only available there and in used record stores and on ebay.

But Nez is a column for another day.

Until I put Nez on, this week has been all about me and The Boy. As has been noted elsewhere, he got good and sick just as his Mommy was stepping on an airplane to be elsewhere for six days. So I was not only flying solo on The Boy, but he was especially needy, followed by especially underfoot, the whole time.

There were a few tense moments. We played checkers on Thursday; I didn’t let him win and there were tears. And anger. Crossed arms. Worried dog. Daddy trying his best not to crack a smile. On the one hand, I like the fact that he wants to win. I also like that he doesn’t mind losing games of chance, like Candyland and Chutes & Ladders, but he really balks at losing games of skill. I like that he recognizes the difference and the relative value of both.

But we spent a lot of time on the angry crying thing. Still not sure I got through to him; frankly, I doubt my work there is done. Gonna challenge him to another game today. Maybe I’ll let him win one quick, then go in and take him down fast in the follow-up game. At this point, I’m more concerned with his after-behavior than honing his Checkers chops. He’s already doing fine at the fundamentals.

After spending the whole day Wednesday pooled in a puddle on my office floor—and after a quick, unnecessary trip to urgent care that evening—by Thursday The Boy was back to his usual fun-loving self. Meaning he wanted to watch super-hero cartoons all day, meaning I spent the day looking for alternative stuff to do. Good Lord, we even went for a walk. Although he complained, “That wasn’t a very long walk” at the end, and I thought, Funny, it was twice as long as the walk last weekend that caused you to have a meltdown on the sidewalk. But I didn’t say that.

We went swimming at the local indoor community pool yesterday. I’m usually not squeamish, but when this big chunk of long hair drifted over my hand underwater, I was pretty grossed out. When we got home, The Boy pointed out that the scab on his knee was gone. We both bathed right away.

This morning, after the obligatory super-hero cartoon (“Generator Rex” today), he announced he wanted to listen to music during breakfast. “Rock & roll,” he clarified, apparently afraid I was going to put on some sensitive acoustic guitar hippie shit while he tried to digest his Cheerios.

I loaded up Queen from Wembley Stadium and prepared our cereal in the kitchen while “Tie Your Mother Down” blasted from the big speakers in the front room. I came out and The Boy was dancing around the front room, pretty completely healed from the bug that bit him earlier in the week.

I skipped to “Love Of My Life” while we ate and told him a little bit about Queen and Freddie Mercury. He’s fascinated in a disconnected way with people’s state of mortality; ie, I’ll mention some actor or singer, and he’ll say, “He’s dead, right?” No, man, he is not dead. What gets into you?

But Freddie Mercury being dead made the music even more interesting to him. I pointed out aspects of Mercury’s technique and his range, the way he held the audience of thousands and thousands in the palm of his hand. I told him, Son, that there is a rock star. That is how it’s done.

Then for the Big Finish, I skipped ahead to one of The Boy’s current favorite tunes, “Radio Gaga.” He was torn between getting up to dance and finishing his food.

And really, there hasn’t been a rock showman like Freddie Mercury since Mercury died. The closest we have is George Michael. I remember after Mercury died, there was a tribute concert, with the surviving members of Queen playing with a collection of the era’s biggest names in rock and pop. And everyone either lowered the key of their assigned song to suit their vocal range, or strained to match Mercury’s soaring vocals and failed miserably.

Everyone except George Michael. He had both the range and the presence. The next time The Boy asks for some rock & roll, I’ll have to dig my copy of that DVD out. My recollection is that Guns & Roses and Metallica also turned in a couple of scorchers.

It makes me sad, every time I hear Queen, that Freddie Mercury was taken from us so young. Younger than I am now, I’m pretty sure of that. On the other hand, he didn’t grow to become old and ugly. He is forever young and fabulous in our collective recollection, and I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded that a bit.

I used to resent the times when The Missus was out of town and The Boy got sick, which seems to be almost almost every time that I can recall. But this time it was different. This time, I had no Big Project that parenting was keeping me from. The writing itch has been extinguished and nothing has come along to take its place yet, so meddling in my son’s life is filling that void nicely.

And it’s paying off big time. No one is more aware than me that that the days of him coming into my office and asking, “Daddy, will you play with me?” are going to be coming to an end not so long from now. As soon as he makes some neighborhood friends of his own, I’m yesterday’s news, so I’m making the most of every moment of pal-hood that remains. It won’t be long before we’re at each other’s throats, fighting over everything from household chores, to curfew, to that Unintended Consequence that is always waiting around the next corner.

These last few days, all I had was a wee bit of work, the dog and The Boy, and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t almost as fabulous as Freddie Mercury at Wembley Stadium. In my opinion, five-and-a-half is just about the perfect age for a Man-Child.

Now here he is, at my side, barking “What about now?!” through a damned microphone at me:

So I’m hastily ending this thing and thinking about how I wouldn’t have missed being a Dad for anything and the lyrics from “Love Of My Life” float through my head. And in spite of myself, I can’t help but miss Freddie Mercury again, even while I smile at the thought of my son and I at this blessed, fleeting period of grace in our lives.

You will remember
When this is blown over
And everything’s all by the way
When I grow older
I will be there at your side to remind you
How I still love you—I still love you

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Another odious milestone reached

Well, The Boy’s first barfy flu is in the books. Managed to avoid it for almost six years, too.

Poor little guy came running into the bedroom last night. “Daddy, Daddy, my mouth wants to throw up!”

I bolted for the kitchen and returned with a stainless steel mixing bowl in the nick of time. (I’m not a big proponent of ralphing directly into the toilet. It adds an extra degree of debasement that I find unnecessary when alcohol is not involved.)

I removed him to my office, where he repeatedly assured me it was the three baby carrots we had forced him to eat at dinner earlier in the evening that made him sick. After some Big Chair Time I packed him back off to bed.

Just as I was falling asleep a while later, he came running back into the bedroom, panic in his voice this time. “Daddy! I’m gonna throw up again!” I grabbed the stainless steel bowl and dove across the room, landing on my knees and skidding to get the bowl into position, again, just in the nick of time.

I took him back into my office and spent some more Big Chair Time with him. I also gave him some Children’s Tylenol (or Advil, I don’t know) to ward off a potential fever.

Once again I packed him off to bed with the best intentions; once again, I was awakened apparently just after I had fallen into a deep slumber, because this time he woke The Missus before me. And all three of us huddled there on the floor together, and our poor little guy puked up the kiddie aspirin he had ingested less than an hour before.

Thank God his mother can sleep anywhere. She stayed on the floor with him (after I had fetched pillows and blankets) and I slunk off to bed like the non-caring/nurturer I am for a couple hours of sleep to rub together. Unfortunately, she had to leave this morning for a six-day job-work-confereence thingie in Florida...

So you can imagine how relieved I was this morning when he woke up and seemed to be feeling better. We gave him a trace amount of Gatorade to get some electrolytes back in his system and he really seemed to be on the rebound. Confidence was high!

Cue the second-act crisis...

He was actually in a deep slumber with the dog (below) when the power went out in the whole neighborhood and the goddamn battery back-up unit that cost us an arm and a leg didn’t do anything but shut down my iMac before I had time to transfer the files I was working on to a thumb drive. It was just as well The Boy was sleeping, as it made it unwise for me to scream the frustration I felt.

About the time the power came back on (needless to say, I am backing up frequently—okay, obsessively—at this point), The Boy woke up, flushed and groggy. He was panicky again and as soon as we got the bowl in place, thick, red hoik proceeded to splash forth. Even as he was in mid-hurl, he had the presence of mind to croak out, “It’s just the red juice, Daddy…” then as soon as he could speak again, he repeated it.

Which I’m frankly grateful for. I had forgotten all about the cherry Gatorade and was seeing blood—lots of blood!—and mentally charting a route to the nearest E.R. Which we may still end up visiting if I can’t get some liquids into this kid to stay. But that is a problem for after I get today’s paper to bed.

Because it’s only 1:40 pm. Not even twelve hours since the first yawp, and still so very much could go wrong. The weather remains crappy outside—promising more unexpected power outages—and The Boy hasn’t stirred from his spot on my office floor for hours except to throw up.

A perfect storm could yet be brewing.