Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Growing up in the Bay Area, the U-turn is just a way of life. Sam & I were amazed to find that an alien concept when we arrived in Seattle in 1991. Oh, it's not that folks don't do it here, it's just that it's not ingrained in the cultural fabric as it is in California (and other states with lots of straight roads).

I use this particular traffic custom as a metaphor for the day. It started out going one direction and it's done a complete about-face.

As Inigo Montoya says, "Let me 'splain... No, there is too much. Let me sum up."

Last night. TFMD away for dinner with a friend. Met up with amigos online and did some CoH. Late night getting to bed. Took a swig of codeine cough syrup AND a Sudafed. Bam. Out like a light. This morning. Still coughing and snotty. Woke kids. TFMD drove Kayleigh to school on her way to work. Trouble with the boy. Saw a dire situation about to happen and contacted IEP teacher to head it off at the pass. Crisis averted. Calmed down and started to be productive. Was productive.

Met an old Pandy friend (I say "old", but he's really 20) while paying for my iced tea at the QFC. That was cool - we might be able to use him in a project or two. Got some brown rice sushi (cucumber rolls, freshly made just for me). Got some prep work done on the next short. Stress significantly reduced.

So, from dire to directorial. A U-turn of a day is something to celebrate, no?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oh, And...

.... .- .--. .--. -.-- / -... .. .-. - .... -.. .- -.-- --..-- / ... .- -- ..- . .-.. / -- --- .-. ... . .-.-.-

He would have been 218 today. And he doesn't look a day over 50.

Three For Three

TFMD beat me to this week's weekend update. Check it.

Friday went pretty much as planned. Took a walk to the produce stand and had a nice little jaunt through the hood. Had Niki and Todd over for pizza and Braveheart. And when put in the context of a cultural event (Niki and I providing a sort of historical Scotsmentary for the film), TFMD actually liked it a lot.

Saturday consisted mostly of taking our cars to their respective dealerships to get their required maintenance. Car Pros gave us a loaner while Ruby was in, so we got some breakfast and poked around at JoAnn. Found some cool black garden stones (but didn't buy any). Also got a wrought iron bird feeder hanger for the back yard. Then we went to PaperZone and I got my graphic design on.

In an effort to earn some money, Tyler mowed the entire back yard on Friday, and the entire front yard on Saturday. Then he rode Raechelle's bike over to his friend Miles' house. And Kayleigh had been invited over to her friend Darian's.

Carpe Diem!

So Raechelle and I headed down to Ama Ama on California Ave for happy hour. The hostess and I geeked out about how the place was a Godfather's Pizza many moons ago. I discovered I don't like Cosmos. But I absolutely loved their salad. We were going to check out the Feedback Lounge, which was opening that night, but it was absolutely packed (and we all know how my fiancee LOVES the crowds), so we headed back home. I let her pick the movie, and to my pleasant surprise, she chose the Australian Macbeth film. And loved it.

Two for two.

Picked up Tyler and the bike from Miles' house. Along with Miles. The boys played videogames until the wee hours of the morning.

Sunday greeted us with zero gumption, despite it being a pretty nice day. Picked up Kayleigh, and took my girls to Barnes & Noble for some coffee. Then we packed up everyone and went to see Monsters Vs. Aliens in 3D. Raechelle had never seen a 3D movie, and she'd suggested the plan when I returned with Kayleigh. It was pricey, even for a matinee, but the movie was entertaining. In the interest of full disclosure, I am (and have always been) a Pixar snob. In my opinion, none of the other CG studios have come close in terms of character and story (although Disney has come close with Meet the Robinsons and Bolt!), but MvA was quite good and I found myself laughing aloud several times.

So, three movies screened, three movies enjoyed by the girl. I think it has everything to do with mood and environment.

Sunday evening found us sitting outdoors at Pegasus, and we wound up the weekend by holing up in the sanctuary and watching some Futurama. Kayleigh was so kind to have shared her virus with me, so now I'm sucking down the green tea and hitting the Vitamin C and echinacea Ricola drops.

I should be good to go by this evening, as we have Steph and Isabella coming over for dinner. Another rollicking, frolicking week ahead. Sweet Jeebus.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Will Power

Happy Belated Birthday to The Bard.
The glover's son from Stratford-upon-Avon.
Bill to his friends.

William Shakespeare was 445 yesterday (although his actual birthdate is not known, he was baptized on April 26th and biographers have adopted April 23rd as their best guess for DOB).
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
- Macbeth

Bugs & Such

This week has been one giant battle against the throat bug that has been stalking the countryside like a giant stalking thing. The kids and I are finally on the other side of it, but TFMD was wondering if she wasn't coming down with it now.

Fight it, honey! Fight it!

Speaking of Braveheart (if you're confused, you didn't hit the link above, did you?), that's on the roster for tonight. Complete with commentary from Rae's resident Scot (yours truly) and her actually Scottish co-worker, who is coming over with her hubby for pizza and beer and sweaty kilted Highlanders.

This weekend we have overdue car maintenance and a game night in Ballard, but we're still recovering from the overstimulation of Rae's 34th birthday rockstar party, so some downtime to clean and organize and catch up on some movies will be good.

Not much else to report, except that my knee has recovered pretty well. Raechelle and had a nice walk around the Roxhill Park loop yesterday, and then came home and made soft tacos and margaritas. It was a nice summery (wishful thinking) meal. And we retired to the sanctuary to watch The Office and 30 Rock.

Still having hardware issues with the new computer. But I've been able to get a bunch of graphic work done for the next Duo short. Which is nice.

And that's all I got. Peace out for now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thank You, Craig.

So, one year ago today, this adorable brunette showed up on my doorstep to audition for And Tears Fell. She sang a few songs, left me some demos and headed back to work.

Life would never be the same.

It's been one heck of a year. Full of ups and downs (but mostly ups). And Monica Guzman of the online Seattle P.I. has put everything into perspective. And you know I'm all about the perspective.

Happy "Click Day" to TFMD.

As she says, we had a terrific evening with dinner and a wonderful show at the Paramount. And Monica's article was a really nice present to find online this morning. I'd just come home from taking Kayleigh to the doctor for a persistent cough she'd been having (just your everyday spring virus), and I was away from the office most of yesterday, so I am just now catching up with everything.

Some highlights from last weekend:

The rockstar birthday party for Raechelle was a hit (as was the signature drink I invented for the occasion - The Stage Dive: equal parts coconut run & Rock Star energy drink, served over ice with a wedge of lime). Much loud singing and thrashing was done.

Much of Sunday was spent with my high school buddy Colin and his son Sean, who were in Seattle for an audition. After I dropped them at the hotel, I assembled Rae's new bookshelf, which she is using to stack her sweaters in, next to her dresser. After half an hour sitting cross-legged on the floor with prefab wood product and hardware, I only realized when I tried to get up that my knee had actually dislocated. Like fully slipped out of joint. It was the most terrible knee pain I've ever experienced; even worse than in eighth grade, when I grew twelve inches in one year and had to miss a lot of PE due to my Osgood Schlatter condition. After writhing onto the bed, unable to move my left leg without severe agony, I slipped my right foot under it and extended my right leg underneath my left. The knee slipped back into joint with the loudest POP I've ever heard come out of my body (and I've done years of chiropractic). And suddenly I could walk again.

And yesterday, as I mentioned, was spent driving around doing errands. Which was a lot of fun for my knee (clutch and all).

So, yeah. Crazy year. Crazy year indeed. And if I hadn't placed the audition ad on Craigslist, things may have turned out very differently. I'm glad I did.

Thank you, Craig.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I haven't gone into too much detail about Tyler recently because a) he's almost 15 and I have a modicum of respect for his privacy when it comes to public discussion, and b) it's not really anyone's business. But something came up over the past 24 hours that has me fuming - and it's not about Tyler, per se. It's about a teacher.

Last Wednesday, I attended an IEP meeting at the high school, with Tyler and the IEP "team". An IEP is an Individualized Education Program, geared toward helping students who may have emotional disorders or learning disabilities succeed in public school. Keep in mind that three of my four grandparents were public school educators (as is my brother), and I've always given public education a slight benefit of the doubt in terms of the teachers and administrators really caring about my kids and what happens to them.

Also keep in mind that Tyler's most recent IEP was started at the end of 8th grade, and did not get put in place until last Wednesday. So I was understandably skeptical that anything was going to happen. And thusly very pleasantly surprised when I found a very competent and caring teacher assigned to Tyler's case. All seven of us in the meeting (including and especially Tyler) put ideas on the table and together we hammered out what we think will be an effective educational program for my son.

Of course, such things, once implemented, take time to show results.

So let's catch up: IEP meeting last Wednesday. Tyler in school on Thursday. Home study on Friday and Monday. Back on-site at school on Tuesday & Wednesday.

Wednesday night, I received an exasperated email from one of Tyler's teachers, saying how disruptive he was and how she was doing everything asked of her by his IEP (which had only become officially implemented at the beginning of this week), and aren't there any expectations of Tyler in all of this? As if we'd bend over backwards to make Tyler's school experience soft and cushy without standards of behavior and a mechanism to hold his feet to the fire and pony up some personal responsibility.

That perturbed me a bit, but it was late and I let it go, not wanting to fret about it all night.

Then, first thing this morning, another email arrived, from another teacher echoing the sentiments of the first teacher. He ended the email with "has anyone thought about contacting CPS?"

You're f**ing kidding me.



I wonder if the teacher realized that both Tyler and I are on the email list. Oopsie.

Now, I'm all for the existence of Child Protective Services. It's unfortunate that they have to exist, but it's a generally good thing they're in place. When Tyler was two, he took a header off the front porch while Sam was gardening, had a seizure of sorts, and ended up in the ER at Children's Hospital. Before we were allowed to leave, we were interviewed by a case worker from CPS - just to make sure we weren't beating our child. After the initial shock (and a bit of insult, to be sure), we both realized that it was good that someone was looking out for Tyler's well-being like we were.

However, you don't call CPS if a student is being disruptive. You don't assume things are bad at home because one of your thirty kids is making the already herculean task of teaching that much more difficult. In fact, if a teacher suspects abuse at home, he or she is REQUIRED by law to contact CPS, not just bat the concept around dismissively. And you certainly don't jump on the bandwagon before there has been adequate time to distill some results.

I'm just a bit ticked off. Well, more than a bit. Okay... a LOT.

After more than a year, we finally have an IEP in place, and a caring IEP team to facilitate. In most things, I'm firmly on the side of teachers. But these teachers are not making it easy to be on their side.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mo Betta

Despite being thwarted at every turn when it came to TFMD's birthday dinner last night, we managed to pull the occasion out of the fire and have a satisfactory evening. I didn't sleep very well, but the caffeine achiever in me took over this morning, and I've gotten a lot accomplished, including the tax filing and a haircut!

And tonight, yes, we are looking at houses again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It Is, As They Say, The Suck.

Yesterday was stressful for too many reasons to go into here, and I don't think I've quite recovered. Most of it is kid/household related, and it's got me exhausted and reexamining how I allocate my energy. Accompanying this is a persistent worry about my grandmother's health, and boy howdy do these things stack up to make the day weighty.

We have a festive birthday evening planned for TFMD, so hopefully things will perk up.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ran the Gauntlet

Seems like the last few days were chock full of people dying and reminders of people dying. Despite it all, I had a pretty phenomenal weekend.

Friday was pizza movie night with MST3K: Hercules Against The Moon Men. And since Tyler was working Norwescon hospitality with his aunt and uncle, it was just Kayleigh hangin' with the grown-ups. Then Kayleigh retreated to a project and TFMD & I put in Tropic Thunder and proceeded to laugh our asses off.

Saturday we actually slept in past 8AM, which, for anyone with kids, is a real achievement. Tyler had arrived home in the wee hours of the morning, and was cruising on about four hours of sleep. By the time Gavin arrived to take the kids to the convention, Raechelle and I were chomping at the bit to get started on our day. We'd kept the calendar clear of social obligations, thus were able to cram a lot into one afternoon. International District, Capitol Hill, Southcenter, Westwood. Many errands run, and much productivity accomplished.

Then TFMD got a bee in her bonnet and decided to cook us a yummy dinner for two. Coconut curry Basmati rice with raisins, and stir-fried greens (red chard and cilantro). And wine.

I headed down to SeaTac to pick up Kayleigh (Tyler would come home around 2AM), and we retired for the night. Only made it through the opening monologue of SNL, and didn't care enough about Zac Efron to try to stay awake.

Sunday morning, Tyler wasn't feeling well, so he stayed home from Norwescon, while Kayleigh went for her second day. There was only a slight twinge of grief, being the fourth anniversary of Sam's death. We headed over to brunch at Etta's with Doug & Ann, and had a great time. We followed it up with coffee, and then Raechelle and I took off to engage in more productivity. A quick trip up to Champion for birthday party supplies (thwarted, due to them being closed on Easter), followed by office organization and [gasp!] recording, which was the original thing that brought us together. We now have seven rough drafts, including three of Raechelle's originals, two of mine (which she's writing lyrics for) and two covers.

THEN, we shot some photos of Raechelle in her cool rocker wig which she's wearing for the rock star birthday party I'm throwing for her this coming Saturday, and I made it into a fake concert shirt and rocker pins for the party. Doug and Ann are going to be tour managers and work the door, and we have JD bringing Rock Band for our big screen. We also have some cool DJ lights and will accent the interior lighting with black light bulbs.

Anyway, it looks like the shirt design came out nicely. The fake band name is CHELLE SHOCK, and the back says WORLD TOUR 2009, with a list of cities around the world. Every city is stamped CANCELLED, except for Nestorville (WV) and Seattle.
When I step back and think about all the crazy theme preparations, it seems a bit overboard. But this is the guy who used to host custom-written mystery theme parties known as the Black Pelican Dead Man's Party & Hallowe'en Ball. Five of those suckers - from a 1930s murder mystery on five acres in Sacramento, to a 1960s secret agent fest, to a 1950s B-movie "who's got the brain?" drunken piss-up, to a pre-20th Century literary salon murder, to a pirate treasure hunt. And I haven't really been able to flex those muscles much in recent years, except maybe when helping Darlene with Chinese New Year party prep (on the rare occasions when I do help).

That, and I kinda love my woman a bit.

We grazed on nachos and I played Godspell (my annual Easter movie), but Raechelle had no frame of reference for a) Judeo-Christian history, b) musical theater, or c) 1970s folk-rock. So it was kind of lost on her. From now on, I'm thinking Monty Python's Life of Brian for Easter viewing. Because I'm sure not going to ask TFMD to sit through The Last Temptation of Christ, no matter how good I think the film is. Because I care.

Wedding prep continues. My neighbor John is selling his house, which has been partially remodeled and sitting vacant since his own marriage to a woman with a home closer to his job. He made a rare appearance yesterday, and got all misty when I told him Raechelle and I were getting married. He brought over hand-picked tulips from his yard and thanked Raechelle for being in my life. It was sweet.

Kayleigh came home from Norwescon with a lot of stories and some swag. We retired to the bedroom for Sunday animation, and conked out pretty hard. For a weekend with nothing on the calendar, it turned out to be pretty intensely packed with lots of good stuff, and a big sense of accomplishment.

Friday, April 10, 2009

RIP Dave Arneson (1947-2009)

One of the founders of the modern RPG hobby has passed. Dave Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, was 61.

Fair winds and following seas, Captain.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Man, did I ever need to see this today...

Reset! Reset!

I want a big ol' reset button for the day, like on a videogame console. So on days when I wake up at 4:30 in the morning with stress-induced TMJ pain (wearing a mouth guard has ceased to help), I can just punch the button and start the level over. It doesn't help that my grandmother is still back and forth to the hospital.

I'm in a bad place today.

But I have a coffee chat with Darlene this morning (happy belated birthday), and I'm going to be gentle with myself today.

And a Facebook friend (an old theater associate of Sam's, in fact) posted a link to a really excellent and thought provoking blog post. Amen, brother.

That's all I've got.

For now.

I'm sure, given enough time, I can find something else to complain about.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My New Fave

Thanks to Stacy for this. When you're all burned out on cute kittens and doggies, or have had your fill of Engrish, check this out.

Here Comes the Sun

And I say... it's alright.

We had gorgeous weather yesterday. Spring seems to have spring, instantly and with a vengeance. As evidenced by TFMD's marathon sneezing jags. Wheeee!

After standing us up last week, Comcast sent their dude out to set up our revamped service. A new HD-capable set-top box and remote (to replace the ancient AT&T remote that dated back at least 10 years or more), a new cable modem, and phone service to replace Vonage. Gave us a package deal I couldn't refuse. And although I'm usually not down with monopolies, I haven't been screwed by Comcast... yet. What's nice is that, although the projector is not HD, we can still see the HD channels (and they look good, just not true HD on the projector). If and when we upgrade the projector, voila - instant HD. We also moved the old tiny cable box downstairs to the bedroom, and the guy gave us another new remote, so now we have all the channels and the on-screen guide in the bedroom. Nice for chilling in the sanctuary. Rae said she couldn't wait to get sick so she could lie in bed and watch cable all day.

It was an otherwise normal day, until Tyler came to me in the afternoon and asked me to buzz his hair off. After years of fighting haircuts at every turn, and cultivating a very "emo" look. He likes to keep us on our toes, that one. So I happily sat him down in the carport outside, and started with the biggest guard. "Can you go shorter?" he asked. Of course I can go shorter. So in about 3 or 4 passes, I had it down to the 1/2" guard, and he was pleased. He also asked me to shave off his "boy-stache", as he heard that it will grow in thicker if he keeps shaving it.



My little boy is growing up. And he looks a lot like Sam. I was taken aback by the "after" photo I snapped. Anyway, he's happy with it and he looks great. And we took advantage of the weather and had a picnic dinner outside: hot dogs and potato salad.

By the time Castle rolled around, I was exhausted. Rae & I slept like two very immobile things, not waking up all night. And I must say, it's a lot easier to rise in the morning when the sun is already coming up.

This week is another emotional roller coaster. From the high of my grandparents' 68th wedding anniversary to the anxiety of my grandmother's repeat hospitalizations and colonoscopies, to the anniversary of my brother Matt's death, to the anniversary of Sam's death. But I'm just going to admire the sunshine and push through. I'm going to get some cucumber rolls for lunch and heat up some brown rice, and try not to think about the downside.

Yep, here comes the sun. And I say... it's alright.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Ping

So last night, a reporter and the staff photographer (two of the remaining 20 staff of the old Seattle P-I now assigned to the online version) came out to the house to interview TFMD, the kids and myself. It was a bit surreal, reliving everything and basically taking a stranger on the tour of my house and the last five years of my life.

Rae's intent was to follow-up on the original P-I article and let people know how things had changed for the better for my family - a sort of epilogue and "thank you" to the community who propped us up when we were at our lowest. It ended up being that, and so much more.

Thanks for that, baby.

The week has been a mix of fatigue and joy, much work and a little play (like Wednesday evening's sessions of The T-Shirt Game and Apples to Apples with Raechelle & the kids). My grandmother is facing another surgery. And tomorrow kicks off the second Duo short shoot at Emerald City Comicon. Oh, and Sunday, I've been asked to shoot the full-band set of Kirby Krackle at ECC.

Tonight, however, while my fiancee is off having a birthday dinner with (and for) her Best Lady, I am going to go see The Underpants. Gotta support the Twelfth Night homeys.

Another stupidly busy weekend. I gotta knock this crap off.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Once More...

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it

- Wm. Shakespeare, Henry V

My grandmother went to the hospital again last night. Same recurring problem. My mom texted me this morning, saying that they were giving her another unit of blood.

My phenomenal Tuesday came crashing down around dinner time. TFMD was shellshocked from a miserable workday, and we'd planned our pizza movie night for that evening, since we won't be around on Friday. So I had pizza delivered and waiting when she got home. And since she'd never seen Ghostbusters, we put that in. And I didn't follow my instinct to pull away from the "grrr" radiating from my fiancee's head. I just sat there and let her relax over the course of the movie, finally cuddling up. It's a new way of doing things for me, but I'm willing to adapt.

She was able to rebound pretty well, until we ran into evening complications with the kids, who are on spring break this week and feeling all sorts of entitled. So once that was all sorted out, we sort of cuddled angrily (angry not with each other, but with how the day had run its course) and drifted off to sleep. Awoke with some pretty bad jaw pain - although the mouth guard might keep my teeth from grinding at night, it doesn't stop the jaw muscles from tensing up.

TFMD called from work this morning to see if I wanted to drive up to Bellingham to see my grandmother. Weather is crappy, but I'm really considering it now. We'll see what happens this morning when my mom gets to the hospital.

[EDIT: This is SO not an April Fool's joke, just in case anyone was suspicious.]