Thursday, April 28, 2011

Scenes from a mall.

New shoes for all three boys at Kohls. Nerve-wracking enough for a dad, but then Tertius insists on new jeans, because his current pair aren't tight enough. "I want to look good," he declares. (Tertius is eight.)

We try out Lee slimline. Too baggy. He settles somewhat grudgingly for Levis narrow fit, with a sharp intake of breath required to snap the waistband. (And good luck trying to get anything into those pockets.) But all the time, he's complaining that I won't take him over to the girl's department, where he believes he can find an even tighter pair.

Son, my testosterone may be ebbing with age, but I'm not ready for the last drop to be sucked from my body. Ask your mother.

Besides, I think the only place you're going to find a tighter pair is the paint department of Home Depot.*

By some miracle, I get Primus to choose a new pair of sneakers, after he'd already sworn eternal fealty to his year-and-a-half-old Heelies, or what's left of them.

Secundus, on the other hand, has narrowed his choice to six pairs of potentials lined up along the aisle, and proceeds to eliminate them one by one like an axe-murderer in a teenage slasher movie. Because I don't want to spend the night in a department store while he makes his mind up, I let him have both of the two finalists. He then declares his intention to wear one of each to school tomorrow. Well, why not? We've long set a family precedence with mismatched socks. (This started out as a fashion statement by Primus, but has since become a general necessity.)

Later, we're parked in the A&P parking lot when I point out a passing convertible Mini Cooper with the top down.

Tertius asks me later what happened to the "fold-out" Mini.

Donald Trump candidacy? Well, after the first black president, why not the first orange president?

(Okay, that joke came to me quite independently this afternoon. But I googled the line and found that three people had already posted it. Facebook's loss is your gain, dear reader.)

*Benjamin Moore 838 Denim Wash. Or 795 Faded Denim.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Need to get out more.

"Country" is one Tertius's spelling words this week. He demonstrates that he recognizes it by citing the USA as his home country.

"But country has another meaning," I point out, never content to leave a horizon unexpanded.

"It does?"

"Yeah, as in 'going to the country.' What do you call the place you get to when you go out of the city and head for the open fields and farms and forests?"

"The suburbs."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Headlines we didn't need.

"Miley Cyrus has royal wedding fever."

Associated Press, twenty minutes ago. (I'm not making this up, you know.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mooching on Mother Nature

We're stepping out of the house and into a light rain. "You know what I like about rain and snow?" says Tertius.


He sticks his tongue out and catches some drops. "Free drinks!" he cries.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The third time's enemy action.

I think that's a quote from Goldfinger (the book, not the movie), but it's not to hand to check.

I was just asked to do the Unicorn Writers Conference again for a third time, next year. I must be doing something right, then.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A thousand words.

For two years now, the talented Darren Wagner has been the official photographer of the Unicorn Writers Conference. He's just posted a montage of last Saturday's event on his website. Here's a smaller YouTube version:

I think this is my first ever YouTube appearance, that I know of. It goes by pretty fast, but in case you're trying to spot me, I'm wearing my reading glasses with the thick, black frames in all of Darren's pictures. My first appearance is 39 seconds in, with Lee Stringer. (Note how the neatness of my hair deteriorates through the course of the day.)

It's in the genes.

I arrive this morning to take the boys to school. Only Tertius comes to greet me.

"Where are the others?" I ask, glancing at my watch.

"Well, [Primus] is in the office reading a book," he tells me, "[Secundus] is still in bed . . . and I don't know where I am."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Where's that better mousetrap, then? And I'm still waiting for my flying car.

Secundus has always been the inventor in the family. But eight-year-old Tertius is catching up. He's just quietly rearranged the boys' shared bedroom into a classroom, with their plastic storage crates for desks and a dry-erase sheet taped to the wall as a chalkboard. Each desk has a book, a Post-It pad (and I want them back!) and a bottle of Poland Spring. A larger teacher's desk faces the others.

I remark to Secundus, who has been studying Thomas Edison in school, that his little brother is following in his footsteps, but that Tertius is now the one putting all his energy into furniture-shifting. When S. gets involved in these projects, he tends to be the more cerebral overseer.

"You know what they say, Dad," he replies coolly. "Genius is one percent perspiration . . ."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Every one a gem.

The wondrous Laura Lippman lamented on Facebook the other day that Tina Fey's announcement of her pregnancy on "Oprah" has "raised the bar" for authors on book tours.

I suggested you could one-up Fey by getting pregnant on "Oprah."

(Lends a whole new meaning to jumping on the couch. Yeah, I know, it's all a bit obvious, but it's not every day a multi-award-winning New York Times best-selling mystery author sets up your one-liners.)

Talking of best-selling mystery authors -- of whom I am not yet one -- I briefly met Carol Higgins Clark yesterday, who was charming and gave a very entertaining presentation at the Unicorn Writers Conference. I did a mystery-writing workshop later, but I don't think I got as many laughs. Well, not intentionally. More about that later.

Of course, in the way of these things, "later" will end up meaning "earlier," since we always read the latest blog first. So you know this already. Do I have to repeat myself?

(Maybe Tina F. will deliver on "The Colbert Report"?)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Roger Ebert is not guilty.

Film buffs may remember the bit in the great Costas-Gavras film Z, in which a conspiracy to cover up a murder is revealed when the same distinctive metaphor -- "as lithe and fierce as a tiger" -- is used to describe an action by supposedly independent witnesses.

I noticed in at least three previews or (generally negative) reviews of the remake of Arthur (the old Dudley Moore comedy, not the PBS cartoon series about an aardvark, although that might have been better casting for Russell Brand) that actress Greta Gerwig is referred to as an "indie darling."

So I did a search, and got nearly 20,000 Google hits on the precise phrase "indie darling Greta Gerwig."

Is an "indie darling" now a proper job title? Or the birth of an accepted piece of jargon, like a native son or a principal boy or an MVP? Or are we just seeing desperately lazy and derivative journalism?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Got me taped.

Netflix charts the ratings you give movies and TV programs and makes suggestions for your viewing.

Their number one selection for me? "The Best of Benny Hill."

That's bordering on racism.

(Next up was a SpongeBob SquarePants compilation, which is more like it, although I always preferred The Fairly Odd Parents.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bail-out? Oh yeah? Bail THIS out, buddy.

It's the Unicorn Writer's Conference next weekend, in Portland, Connecticut, and I'm ferrying my friends Maureen Amaturo and Lee Stringer -- two other contributors -- in the trusty minivan, the Starship Minnie.

The exterior has long been a lost cause, but the interior is also temporarily unfit for human conveyance, having been trashed by the boys. So when Secundus comes sniffing for sources of income, I suggest he puts in a bit of time clearing up after himself and his brothers.

"How much will you pay me?" he asks.

"I'll give you five bucks," I reply. He shakes his head regretfully.

"That's not enough. It's a real mess in there."

Why do I feel he has a future in investment banking?

Minnie back in 2004, disgorging a three-seater sofa from Costco, still in its box. Not only did I get it all into the car -- single-handedly -- but I got the rear door closed, too.