Friday, October 19, 2012

Ambler Farm Day

This post is several weeks late, but I wanted to post a couple of pictures and a little video from the great time Spencer and I had at Ambler Farm Day.

The day was a fundraiser for the farm in Wilton, but the way everyone knew each other and enjoyed themselves, it was also a way for people in the community to get together.

The young man and I went on a hayride, saw some farm animals, beekeepers making honey, a pumpkin launcher (which I didn't get a picture of) and antique apple peelers.

The beekeepers (via Instagram)

Enjoying the hayride (via Instagram)

(Find out more about Ambler Farm here. You can find me on YouTube here and on Instagram: @DeanArrindell.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Planning

Memorial Day, Labor Day, the Holidays.

The unofficial beginnings and ends of seasons are good opportunities to look back and reflect, and look forward and plan. Since Labor Day still in our rearview mirror, I thought I'd do both.

This summer we had a big trip to England, several parties, and Spencer grew up a lot! In addition to turning a year old, the young man is walking, trying to do some talking and developing nicely overall. At the start of the summer, he seemed very much like a baby: Not very mobile or vocal (except for crying or laughing). Now, his personality has come through: Happy, enthusiastic, determined, curious, and very chatty!

Looking forward to the fall, I have a few things on the agenda.

The first is to go back to the gym. I haven't gone since early May, and for the year before that while Holly was pregnant and we moved, I hardly went at all. It wasn't always that way. For more than half my life, I worked out in a gym, ran, or rollerbladed. If you include all the years I rode a bike, I've been doing some form of exercise since I was about 5 years old. So, after more than three decades, it feels unnatural to suddenly put that part of my life aside. Now, all I have to do is find the time to go.

The other thing I want to do is be more social. I haven't been to New York in months. I have a couple of friends here in Connecticut, but it's as hard to see them as my friends in NYC. I can't just pop out for a beer on a whim anymore. I haven't even been able to plan to pop out for beer. So, I need to make an effort to see friends. And maybe make some new ones too.

Spencer has started day care on a part-time, which means I will (hopefully) be working soon. Taking care of Spencer wasn't the only reason I quit my job when he was born. I took time off from work to figure out what I want to do professionally. What have I figured out and what will I pursue? I don't have all the answers, but stay tuned.

Exercise, more friendship, and a job I like: Is that too much for a parent to ask for?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Run For President, Have A Beer

I really hate the question, "Which candidate would you rather have a beer with?" It's presented as a litmus test of presidential likeability, but I think the attention the question gets actually demeans the importance of a presidential election. While I may dislike the question, the media and presidential candidates themselves seem to think it's important.

I won't get too political here (if you're into that, you can follow my Twitter feed), but this Daily Beast article caught my attention. In it, David Freedlander writes about how cold frosty brews play a role in presidential politics.

Freedlander contrasts pictures of President Obama and Mitt Romney that were next to each other in the New York Times. Romney doesn't consume alcohol because his Mormon faith prohibits it. In his picture, he carried a hot dog wrapped in foil.

Obama had a beer in his picture.
The president’s refreshment looked to be a classic American lager, pulled from a tap, a slight white head just below the lip—the staple of backyard barbecues the nation over, the most American of alcohols.
Ahh.. beer. America's official alcohol. (Cue sweeping patriotic music.)

It's not news that politicians campaign in bars to show their likeability. Freedlander cites five campaign stops Obama made at bars this year, as well as the release of two beer recipes from the White House earlier this month. During the Republican primary season, Rick Santorum showed his love and knowledge of beer. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton drank a shot of Crown Royal Canadian whisky (she likes beer, though, too).

Having a few cold ones with voters won't make or break an election. At least, it shouldn't. But all of this alcohol consumption is not just about relating to voters. It's about showing manliness and strength, which some people still think are the same thing, and are qualifications for office. Since men are "supposed" to like certain things - beer, sports, sex - having a beer shows you're "a man," (or at least manly, in the case of then-Sen. Clinton). If a candidate projects manliness by having a beer (or doing other things like hunting, playing a sport, talking tough), then the assumption is they actually are manly and strong, and therefore fit for office.

Of course, part of campaigning is putting on a performance. Drinking beer gives no indication how a candidate will act once they're in office. Drinking beer projects qualities the candidates want to convey to voters: Strength and relatability.

Not any booze will do, though. Some drinks are elitist. Martinis are snooty. And forget about wimpy wine. As Rick Santorum said during his bar hop, "I don't do wine tasting."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

White House Beer?

This is the last thing I expected to see from the White House.

Over the weekend, the White House Blog posted two beer recipes that were recently brewed there: The White House Honey Ale and the White House Porter. My first thought was, "Don't they have better things to do than brew beer?" The brewing was supervised by Sam Kass, the White House Assistant Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives. So, presumably it's his job to do stuff like this. And since he's an advisor on Healthy Food Initiatives, I would hope the beer is relatively healthy, too. (I'd love to get some data on that, though.)

My second thought was, "Wow. I've never seen a home brewed beer recipe before." Now that I have, I just need to find some malt, hops and a couple of fermenters. And then I can add that to list of many things I want to do, but have no time see through.

If you do have the time or just want to see the recipes, click here to see them. And watch this White House video to see how they made the beer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Spencer's Big First Birthday Extravaganza (And Our Third Anniversary)

Holly and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary yesterday. "Celebrated" may be the wrong word, though. There was no date night and no romantic dinner; not even cards. In fact, Holly went to work in the afternoon. (We did take ourselves out for lunch with Spencer, though.) The lack of anniversary sentiment is fine with both of us. We haven't had time for it.

Spencer's birthday is this time of year. So, Holly and I (especially Holly) spent the last few weeks getting reading for his Big First Birthday Extravaganza. The three-day birthday-palooza was this past weekend.

On Friday, we had a photo shoot with the three of us and some of Spencer's grandparents. Saturday, a member of Holly's mommy-baby group put together a first birthday party for all the kids in the group.. all 18 of them. That's right, 18 one-year-olds (give or take a few weeks) and their parents in one backyard! It was awesome!

My Instagram remix of Spencer and 17 of his friends.

Then on Sunday, Holly and I threw a party at my aunt's house in New York. About two dozen family members and close friends came to see Spencer's blessing and celebrate his first year.

The birthday boy!
Between coordinating, planning and going to all the events, our anniversary wasn't our top priority. I actually listed it on the refrigerator to-do list so we wouldn't forget.

That seems unromantic, but it's not without precedent. Last year, Holly was very pregnant with Spencer - his due date was the day before our anniversary - so we already knew were weren't going to do much. And after Hurricane Irene swept through town, we didn't have power. Our anniversary dinner was lukewarm food on paper plates. (At least it was by candlelight!)

This year, Holly and I are going to have a nice day out with Spencer later in the week. We'll go to the Norwalk Aquarium and have a nice lunch out. Then we'll leave the Young Man with Grandma and Grandpa to have a date night and meet up with some friends.

Every anniversary may not be a romantic night out, and that's ok. Because it's so close to Spencer's birthday, late August will forever be a momentous - and probably busy - time for our family. We'll surely find creative ways to celebrate both.

Having said all that, Holly and I agreed the Young Man won't have a three-day birthday extravaganza next year. Not because of our anniversary, but because it's a ton of work.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bath Time

No matter what travels, event or outings we have, the day starts to come together at 6pm: Dinner for Spencer, dinner for us (if there was some planning), a few minutes of play, Spencer's bath, then he's off to bed.

The bath and bed routine begins at 7:00. Spencer is usually playing with Holly and me on the floor. Holly and I look at each other, and one of us asks, "Is it time?" The other nods and says, "It's time."

Then we yell, "Bath Time!"

Spencer looks at us, smiles wide, then takes off crawling for the bathroom. He crawls through the kitchen and pushes open the door to his room. (He sometimes takes a detour and we have to guide him to the bathroom.) With a smile on his face, he looks back to see if we're behind him. We're right there with him on our hands and knees.

Spencer approaches the bathroom and pushes that door open, too. Pushing doors is clearly part of the routine. A few weeks ago, he approached the bathroom door that was open, pulled it closed as much as he could, and then pushed it open again. The final stop on the Bath March is the sink. He crawls up to the cabinet under sink and stands up. Holly undresses him. I get his bath water ready. It's bath time!

This isn't anything extraordinary, and I don't want to turn this blog into a series of firsts ("Spencer took his shirt off! Spencer stacked three blocks!"), but Bath Time is the first time he responded to Holly and me in this way. We had been saying "Bath Time" for a while, and one day he just took off to the bathroom. Holly and I were a little stunned. "He understands us?!" Not only does he understand us, but he knows where to go (barring any detours) on his own, too. It's amazing to watch him grow up.

And it's very cute!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

In The End, A Perfect Sunday

The things I loved about New York as a non-parent make me nervous as a parent: Lots of people and activity with little predictability, space and control. If Holly and I lived there with Spencer, none of that would be a big deal. It would be "normal." But we don't. So, I get a little apprehensive when taking Spencer to Manhattan.

Naturally, when I drove Spencer in for an appointment on Sunday, I was a bit tense. We've taken Spencer to the city before, but I was dropping Holly off at work straight away. Except for ride in, I was flying solo.

It turns out, I didn't have much to worry about.

There was surprisingly little traffic on our drive in (always a good way to start the day!). I dropped Holly off at work, then Spencer and I drove to Midtown. Finding a parking spot was easy. We had some time before our appointment, and since Spencer was asleep, we hung out in the car. After the appointment, we took a walk to visit some of my old work colleagues. Spencer got a little cranky, so I took him up to Rockefeller Center, down to Grand Central then over to Bryant Park. Avoiding the crowds on Fifth Avenue made it was a nice leisurely stroll.

Satisfaction after lunch in Bryant Park.

Spencer had fun looking at all the people and things in Bryant Park while eating his lunch. We hung out there for a bit, went back for another visit with my work friends (no crying that time), then we hopped in the car and drove home.

The day wasn't anything exciting, and that was perfect. New York feels very relaxed on summer weekends. Residents go out of town and Midtown isn't packed with workers. The heat and humidity didn't bother us too much either. Taking a nice stroll with my son reminded me of how much I miss New York City and how much I hope to move back some day.. as a parent.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Farmhouse

About two weeks ago, Holly and I went to a concert in Killingworth, CT. It was unlike any other show I have ever seen.

There weren't pyrotechnics. There wasn't a lightshow. There were only three solo performances and about 12 people in the audience.

And the show was in a living room.

The "venue" is called The Farmhouse and it's about the furthest thing you can get from Madison Square Garden. That's the point.

Nat Lyon performs at The Farmhouse (aka: his living room).
The show was definitely more that just three guys singing in front of a bunch of people. The performers, Stephen Steinbrink, Emperor X and Nat Lyon, had mics, amps and set lists. Steinbrink and Emperor X came with copies of their music to sell. Many of the audience members didn't know each other before the show. Nat and his wife Stefanie, who hosted the event, didn't know some of the audience members either. 

On their website, Nat and Stefanie describe The Farmhouse as an "intimate setting." That might sound like a small club with a stage and groups of people congregating around tables or the bar. And no one speaking to each other.

This wasn't the case at the Farmhouse. People mingled; performers and audience members alike. Even "co-host" Emma mingled with the guests and made an appearance on-stage. Overall, the night had the feel of a party, not a show. Talking with Emperor X before his set gave his songs a very personal feel.

Emperor X and "co-host" Emma.
There's going to be another show at The Farmhouse this Friday, August 4. It's supposed to be much bigger than the first one. They're expecting tens of people!

It'll be in their backyard.

Find out more:
The Farmhouse
Nat Lyon
Stephen Steinbrink
Emperor X

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Grill Master

Is grilling a man's job?

When Holly decided to have a 20/40 party a few weeks ago (20 years in America, 40 years old), she wanted to have it at Sherwood Island Beach. Besides being at the beach, she wanted it there because of the grills that are available to the public. When the day arrived and the party got going, we didn't start grilling right away. We didn't have charcoal right away due to a mix-up. But when it arrived, it was time to start grilling.

That's when it got a little quieter and people started looking around. A few of us guys started looking at each other. It was clear that grilling was a man's job. It's not that a woman couldn't grill. It's because everyone silently agreed that a man would do it.

As the looks abounded and "Do you want to do it?" was uttered a few times, it became clear we weren't just deciding who would have the task of grilling. We were deciding the responsibility of cooking the food for the event. There was also some honor involved in who would be chosen as Master Of The Grill.

So, would another Grill Master be an insult to me? No. There didn't need to be a power struggle over the tongs. I had no problem transferring the title to someone else for the day. (As husband of the host, I guess it was mine to transfer.) I'm not an expert around a barbecue. A gas grill is easy, of course. But I haven't seen a charcoal grill in decades. Seriously. And there was this contraption called a barbecue chimney, that gets the charcoal heated quickly. I had never used it before. I could've managed the grill if I had to, but I didn't want to be the guy who got sideways glances because doggies were overcooked or burgers weren't cooked fast enough.

So, which man stepped up to be Grill Master?

I hadn't met Dave before he volunteered to work the grill, but he immediately knew what he was doing. In no time, the grill was going, food was cooking, and all the guests seemed to be satisfied. Thanks for stepping up Dave.

But back to my original question: Is grilling a man's job? Why? Leave a comment below.

Friday, July 13, 2012

England Trip 2012: Queen's Diamond Jubilee

We didn't know about the major celebrations for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee before we booked our trip. But being there that weekend was one of the highlights of our visit.

As soon as we arrived, we could see everyone getting in the spirit. There were tons of signs in shop windows, local events were planned (we went to one at a local library in London) and bunting was everywhere. Seriously. I never thought I would see so much Union Jack bunting. I couldn't escape it. If Elizabeth is around in 10 years for another Jubilee (which is very possible), get into the bunting business. You'll make a ton of money.

The first celebration we went to was in Brockham, about 20 miles south of London. There was a festival on the town green that had carnival rides and stands set up by local business.

The Brockham Jubilee Celebration.

A house along Brockham Green. (Notice the bunting hanging off the roof!)

It was a relaxing afternoon. It looked like it might rain a few times, but it turned out to be a beautiful day (a rarity on the trip). We were traveling during the wettest June since 1910. So, we were lucky to have some sunshine in Brockham.

We could've used some of that sunshine the next day when we were in London. Holly's brother Stuart was able to get us passes for the Jubilee festival in Battersea Park. The park sits along the Thames and the plan was to catch a glimpse of the Queen leading the flotilla of 1000 boats going up the river. The seven of us (Holly, Spencer, me, Stuart, his wife Denise and their two kids) packed a picnic, drove as close as we could to the park and walked to the festival.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

England Trip 2012: Driving And Roundabouts

A big reason we planned a two-week trip was so Holly could visit family and friends she hadn't seen in a long time. We took a lot of day trips to visit them, which meant a lot of driving. Sharing driving duties usually wouldn't be a big deal, but one of the things the UK and US don't share is driving on the same side of the road.

I briefly got behind the wheel a car on our last trip to England in 2008. Notice the word "briefly." Between being a manual transmission and a right-side drive car (wrong side in my mind), it didn't go well. There was lots of lurching and Holly yelling, "Left side! Left side of the road!" My confidence was low after that trip.

I did much better this time. I had my share of stalls and lurches. Holly calmly said, "Left side" only once. Bottom line: We're all still in one piece.

The one thing that tripped me up are those roundabouts. (We call them circles here the US.) I hate them. The lanes are confusing, the signs are confusing and they can move pretty quickly. One roundabout tripped me up so much that we had a European Vacation moment. We circled it at least three times. Between the size of the roundabout and waiting at the traffic lights, it must've taken us three or four minutes to get through it.

At least we got out of it before the sun went down.

Friday, June 29, 2012

England Trip 2012: Getting There And Back

With the exception of the party game we discovered, I haven't blogged about our trip to England. I'm finally settled and able to look back and talk about it.

Other than some road trips, one of which was unplanned, Holly and I haven't travelled much in the last couple of years. Our last big trip was in August 2010. We like to travel, so it was time for us to get away.

The trip to England would be different because we traveled with our little guy. For him, it was his first plane ride and his first trip overseas. For us, it meant extra planning and thinking ahead. That's not a bad thing, though. Sure, we lose a little spontaneity, but everyone is a lot happier at the end of the day.

Before we could actually be in England, we had to get there.

The flights there and back were the most difficult part of the trip. Flying without an infant is obviously easier because your time and space is your own. You're hungry? Great. The food cart is coming. You're tired? Recline and take a nap, or watch a movie. Forget about all that with a little one who's in your lap for six-and-a-half to seven hours.

We flew British Airways because we read foreign carriers have better amenities for families traveling with infants and children. I'm glad we chose BA, but I'm also glad we had a little luck on our side.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm Not A Babysitter

It finally happened.

Holly and I were having lunch with another couple. I had just returned to the table when the male half of the couple across from us, who I had just met, leaned in to ask me a question. "So, how does it feel to be a..?" He paused, searching for a word. "...Babysitter?"


I'm going to assume that this guy wouldn't have asked Holly the same question if she wasn't working and I was. The "how does it feel" part of his question implied, "As a man, how does it feel to be a babysitter?" Because it's a woman's job to perform the daily duties of caring and raising an infant (aka "babysitting") right?

That was the first time I had encountered that type of reaction to me not working and taking care of Spencer. I get the term "Mr. Mom" a lot. I don't particularly like it, because it implies child-rearing and maintaining the home are duties meant for women. Raising a child is the role of father, too. I'm not crazy about "househusband" either. I do cook and clean a lot, but I would probably do that if I worked (maybe not as much, though). Besides, Spencer and I get out as often as we can. We're not housebound.

I don't really take offense at those terms though. When I tell people that I don't work and I'm with Spencer, I get overwhelmingly positive responses, particularly from men. Some of them even say they wish they could do it.

The fact is, Holly and I are fortunate enough to be co-parenting: She's able to be home and spend a lot time with Spencer. While she's doing that, I'm able to write and figure out what I want to do with my professional life. (That's another post for another time.) So, househusband, Mr. Mom, whatever, doesn't really describe what I do anyway.

But this "babysitter" remark was the first time I was engaging with someone who clearly questioned the notion of a father not working to be at home with his child.

In the pause following his question, I figured out how to calmly respond.

"I'm not a babysitter," I said with a smile. I continued with something like, "I'm Spencer's father and I'm home raising him. I'm happy and very lucky to be doing it."

He nodded and smiled. I don't remember what he said after that, but we quickly moved on to something else. I realized that he probably wasn't judging me.. probably. I don't think he was trying to be condescending or insulting. He just couldn't conceive that a father could be his child's primary caregiver. He was having so much trouble putting it together, he just couldn't find the word to articulate it. The best one he could come up with was babysitter.

Maybe I opened his mind a little bit.

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Party Game: Find The Wedding Ring

Have you ever hosted a party and and found that the guests didn't mingle? Want to bring them together? 

Lose your wedding ring.

That's what I did at a gathering Holly hosted when we visited England. She invited friends and family she hadn't seen in a long time. Like any party, groups of friends and acquaintances coalesced around others they knew. That all changed when I looked at my left hand and realized my wedding ring was gone.

I was outside playing catch with my nephew. It was cool and rainy, so my fingers must've shrank a bit. And because I was catching a rubber ball barehanded, my hand was feeling numb. When I looked at my hand and saw the ring was missing, I was stunned. I never take it off and I was pretty sure I had seen it just a few minutes before. 

Within minutes of telling the first person about it, at least 20 people were outside in the rain looking for the ring. Some searched individually, others in teams. They were lifting benches and sweeping the grass with sticks. The folks inside the pub where the party was held were looking everywhere too, on the off-chance I had lost it inside. One searcher said to me, "We're not leaving here until we find it."  

Holly was fine with it. "You can always get another one," she said. But I wasn't happy. I felt like shit. I had already left my contact information with someone at the bar. I had given up hope.

About 15 minutes after I noticed it was gone, a miracle happened. The husband of one of Holly's high school friends put a piece of metal on the end of a stick and swept it back and forth in the grass. He waited to hear the *clink* metal makes when it hits another piece of metal, and voila! I have my wedding ring again. Holly put it back on my finger and re-sealed it with a kiss. 

I wanted to buy the guy a drink, but he was on antibiotics at the time and couldn't consume alcohol. Since he was unable to do that, his wife was the recipient of a rum and Coke. I bought myself one too. I needed it.

After it was over, Holly said it was like a treasure hunt. So was everyone else. It was a little bit of excitement that got the everyone in the party working together.

With the ring securely back on my finger, someone said to me, "That was great! What's the next group activity?"

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Rosen-Romney Faux Fight

As a father who doesn't work (outside the home - an important distinction to make these days) I didn't take offense at Hillary Rosen's CNN appearance in which she said, in part, Ann Romney "has never worked a day in her life." Why? I knew what she was talking about. She wasn't trying to divide working moms, stay-at-home moms, or fathers of either group. She wasn't trying to devalue the work that parents do. She was making a distinction about the choices the Romneys and other super-rich families have when it comes to career and parenting, and the limited choices available to the rest of us who don't have their vast wealth.

I felt like I had a dog in this faux fight since I don't work and am home with Spencer. Sure, there are different pressures men and women feel about their decisions to stay home with their children or go out to work. A woman can get it no matter what does: If she works, she's not a good mother; If she stays at home, she's hurting the progress of women's rights. Men are still "supposed" to go out and work to provide for their family. Staying at home isn't considered being a good father. The upside is that these pressures aren't as strong as they used to be, and that both mothers and fathers have the options available to them to do what's best for their family.

I haven't been on the receiving end of overt criticism for my decision to quit my job and stay home with Spencer. I get the surprised "Oh!" every now and then. You know, the "oh" gets high-pitched and is held out for a long time. I may be deluding myself, but I think it's mostly been surprise, not judgement.

Back to the issues brought up in the Rosen-Romney kerfuffle, do you know what might change some of the pressure and make decisions about whether to stay home or stay at work easier for parents? Paid parental leave. The United States is the only industrialized country that doesn't require paid parental leave. When parents don't have to worry about paying the bills and feeding the kids, they can make a better choice for their family about how to take care of those kids.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

First Class Surprises

A couple of weeks ago, I went to my first parent-baby group with Spencer. I was a little nervous because it felt like the first day of school.. for me.

There were two people from Holly's mommy-baby group at the pool. I had never met them before, but at least that was a couple I "knew." The anxious part for me, though, was that I hadn't interacted with Spencer, other parents and their kids. It's a strange dynamic to be talking to another baby through their parent, and have that parent talk to Spencer through. It's like four people having a conversation, but two of them are talking and the other two are drooling.

There was another reason the class was weighing on my nerves: It's a swim class. Even though I'm with Spencer a lot and we've gone to a lot of different places, I still get apprehensive taking him to a new place with potential logistical hurdles: Where are the changing rooms and how are they set up? Is there enough room for all the babies? What items (belonging to parent and baby) can be brought poolside? Where do we leave items not allowed in the pool area, like the stroller? They might seem like silly questions, but they're important for a planner like me. I don't like surprises when I take him out. I'm quickly learning, though, that surprises are just about the only thing I can count on.

And boy did I get one.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Funky Connecticut

For kicks, I googled "funky Connecticut." I'm no longer in the New York, and I wondered where to find funk in Connecticut. I also thought it would be funny to see what came up. So, what did I get? The Vanilla Bean Cafe came up as the first few results. Where is it in relation to me?

I'm near point A on the map below. The Vanilla Bean Cafe is at point B.

View Larger Map

It's about as far away as it can be while still being in the state. Not that this is all the funk Connecticut has to offer, but that's a long way to go.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Talkin' Poop On TV

I don't mind talking about poop. Changing diapers means I'm intimately acquainted with it, but there's a time and place for everything. And for me, more often than not, that time is not in a 30-second commercial.

You're probably all acquainted with the Charmin Bears. We've been watching them in the woods taking care of business for about a decade. Even after all this time, I still think, "Why are they showing these bears on their wood thrones leaving toilet paper bits on their asses? And why am I still watching it?"

I thought that was the limit of doody on TV. Then I saw this commercial for the first time this week. It's apparently been running for at least a year, but it's only recently that I take notice of ads for baby items. The other reason I noticed it is because it reminds me of my worst diaper-exploding nightmare.

I'm not a fuddy-duddy. (Really, I'm not!) I guess I'm just resisting the push to get real about what happens in the bathroom.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Back To The Gym

Boy, do I need to hit the gym.

Before I became a father, I used to exercise a few times a week. Between jogging in our neighborhood in NYC and working out at the gym, I might exercise four times a week. (Well.. on a good week.) That all changed when Holly became pregnant.

I was still working out when we lived in New York, but it was a little less. Between getting ready for the baby and preparing to move to the suburbs, there was less and less time for exercise. Before the birth, I was able to get in a few runs here in the 'burbs, but not too many. And I never joined a gym.

I like to say I took 2011 "off" from the gym, because I hardly went at all. I can feel it, too. I don't feel as strong or as healthy as I did. Lack of sleep doesn't help, nor does my less-than-stellar diet. (When trying to get in a quick bite during nap time, unhealthy snacks are seductively quick and easy.)

The good news is, Holly and I are on the verge of joining a gym. We're finally getting into a good routine with Spencer, and we're getting used to our new roles as "stay-at-home dad" and "sole provider," and our time is a little easier to manage. We're starting to eat better, too. Now, it's time to get our bodies back in shape.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

CNN Contributor Roland Martin In Trouble Over Tweets About The David Beckham H&M Super Bowl Ad

This post was originally published on my other blog, Jazz Guns Apple Pie.

UPDATE: CNN suspended Roland Martin.

When the David Beckham underwear ad for clothing retailer H&M came on during the Super Bowl, CNN's Roland Martin took to Twitter to comment on it. Now, Martin is under fire from gay rights group GLAAD.

Here are Martin's tweets:

A lot of people on Twitter responded negatively to the remark, including GLAAD. The gay rights group and Martin had this exchange:

Critics also point to a history of remarks including this piece he wrote on his website in 2006. In the post, he equates homosexuality to sinful behavior like stealing and infidelity and says his wife, a Baptist minister, "has counseled many men and women to walk away from the gay lifestyle."

On Monday, Martin posted this on his Twitter feed:
Fam, let me address the issue that some in the LGBT community have raised regarding some of my Super Bowl tweets yesterday. I made several cracks about soccer as I do all the time. I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I'm sorry folks took it otherwise. It was meant to be a deliberately over the top and sarcastic crack about soccer; I do not advocate violence of any kind against anyone gay, or not. As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, anytime soccer comes up during football season it's another chance for me to take a playful shot at soccer, nothing more.
Martin's Twitter timeline is filled with protestations that he was just talking about soccer. Even if that's the case, he implies football is a better sport because it's manlier. And because it's better and manly, it should beat up inferior and less manly sports - presumably, like soccer - and the people who like them. By saying a "real bruh" wouldn't buy David Beckham's underwear and by suggesting followers should "smack the ish [shit]" out of someone who likes the ad, he basically said my sport is better, manlier, and can kick the shit out of you and your sport.

That's if you believe he was just talking about soccer, but I don't think he was.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Big Black Guy

This post was originally published on my other blog, Jazz Guns Apple Pie.

Every now and then someone will be telling me a story, when suddenly, it sounds like nails on a chalkboard. With emphasis on how imposing a person they encountered was, they say, "And then there was this big black guy."

"Big and black??" I'll say if I'm feeling cheeky. "Oh no."

The story usually falls apart from there.

This isn't to say that there aren't imposing and intimidating black men, as there are imposing and intimidating men of every race. Some rappers purposely strike an intimidating pose to show how tough and strong they are. That intimidation, though, also has to do with perception.

In a New York Times piece about white female rappers, Touré writes:
For many Americans, black male rappers are entrancing because they give off a sense of black masculine power — that sense of strength, ego and menace that derives from being part of the street — or because of the seductive display of black male cool.
In that passage, he writes as much about rappers as the public's view of them: Menacing. Seductive.


The same is true for the person who tells the story with "the big black guy." That description, though, can say more about the storyteller than the person in the story.