I don’t know why they call it “March Madness”

Taking two days off work and setting up 4 TVs (and a laptop) in your living room to binge watch college basketball games for 12 hours straight each day sounds perfectly sane to me.

Just remember to root for the team favored by award-winning actors everywhere:

So far, so good…



Mad at Bad Dad

My 13-year-0ld daughter Leah is not what I’d call a “morning person.” I suppose very few teenagers are, but she’s the poster child for pre-dawn sluggishness. And guess who gets to wake her up every school day, at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m.? That’s right, her dear old dad. It’s somewhat akin to poking your bare hands into a rattlesnake den, or opening a hornet’s nest with a head-butt. If there’s a right side of the bed for her, we haven’t found it yet.

I try to wake her as gently as possibly, because I know that according to research, teens naturally need a later wake-up schedule. But we’re under the gun if she and her brother are going to catch the school bus at the end of our street at 6:32 (not 6:33… we’ve learned the hard way). Here’s how it usually goes:

6:00 a.m. “Leah, honey, it’s time to wake up…”

6:10 a.m. “Leah, it’s 6:10… I’m going to turn your light on now.”

6:15 a.m. “C’mon Leah, we have to get going.”

6:18 a.m. I stomp up the stairs from the kitchen, and that’s usually her signal to get up and shut her door in my face. I don’t care, because at least she’s up.

But now I have a secret weapon, a brand new musical alarm. It was inspired by my college buddy Vinnie, who used to wake up his teenage daughter Alana by playing the first 12 seconds of Carole King’s “Beautiful” on repeat until she got out of bed.

So I’ve put together my own little morning mashup medley for my precious only daughter, as a reminder that we need to catch the bus:

Yeah, it’s not as sweet and harmonious as a Carole King song, but it gets the job done. Better yet, it combines classic indie rock tunes from the fantastic Royal Crescent Mob and The Replacements (one of my all-time favorite bands) with a snippet from a new song called “Old Friends” from an up-and-coming band out of New Jersey called Pinegrove. (Check out their debut album here.)

Sure, Leah might be psychologically scarred for life, but at least she could turn out to be an indie rock fan!



All I ever needed to know I learned from the funny pages

I’m part of a dying breed: I still get a Sunday newspaper. And the first section I read is always the comics. Probably because my brain is so feeble. But you can find some profound wisdom in the funny pages too. Here’s a Pearls Before Swine strip from last year that I found very enlightening.

It puts the rat race in perspective, doesn’t it?

If you don’t get a newspaper but still want to keep up with the comics (an underappreciated art form, sez me), you can check out some decent ones at GoComics.com. A list of popular strips is here. They just re-ran the great week of Calvin & Hobbes daily strips where Calvin finds a hurt baby raccoon. Start here and read six days’ worth and you’ll see how Bill Watterson could convey more about the human experience in three black-and-white panels than most folks could do in a thousand-page novel.


What’s in a name? My childhood memories, that’s what.

First things first: I believe the Islamic State terrorist group is a rotten bunch of evil-doers.

Secondly, because of Point #1 above, I prefer that they be referred to as ISIL, not ISIS. Because I grew up watching Saturday morning TV in the 70s, so when I hear the name “Isis” I think of a cheesy show from back in the day:


Please don’t sully my childhood memories of Andrea and her ancient amulet by associating her alter ego with a terrorist organization. Not only was Isis Captain Marvel’s best friend, she was also a “dedicated foe of evil, defender of the weak, champion of truth and justice!” Oh, and a darn fine rhymer.

O zephyr winds which blow on high, lift me now so I can fly.

The real Isis also brought a message of peace:

BTW, Secrets of Isis was the first weekly American live-action television series with a female superhero as the lead character (predating the weekly debuts of both Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman). And, the Isis character was created because the producers didn’t want to have to pay a comic book company for rights to an existing female superhero. In an interesting turnabout, DC Comics wound up acquiring the rights to publish an Isis comic book.

In interviews, series star JoAnna Cameron has stated that she hated working with the black raven on the series and asked the producers several times if they could write him out of the script.


If you have 20 minutes to kill, check out this heaping helping of cheese… the bear costume is so bad it’s good!


Signs o’ the times

Three of my four kids have a weekly paper route, and the routes aren’t close enough to our house to be walkable. So my wife and I get to play (uncompensated) Uber drivers every Wednesday. My daughter has one newspaper delivery on a street that obviously has been forgotten by the City of Cincinnati road repair crews. It’s so bumpy, pothole-riddled and eroded that it practically qualifies as a gravel road:

What the name of this crumbling street?

Yep, Sturdy Avenue. Not because the street is sturdy, but because your car’s suspension needs to be to drive it.


There’s a cafe downtown that closed several months ago, allegedly “temporarily”, due to “renovation.”

Someone took a Sharpie and called B.S. on their signage:


There’s a FastSigns location downtown.

Here’s their corporate tagline in the window:

A. If they are “more than fast” and “more than signs” then maybe it’s time to consider a company name change.

B. Also, you’d think a sign company would be able to print a sign that could fit into a single window pane.


Looks like the Convent of The Good Shepherd isn’t accepting any visitors at this time. Maybe it’s temporarily closed due to renovation.

Intimate dinner conversation

Today is Valentine’s Day, but it’s also Taco Tuesday. So light some candles, turn on some Barry White and serve this for your sweetie:

I call ’em VD tacos. But perhaps another name might be more appealing.

Groundhog Day all over again

Yesterday was Groundhog Day, but the day before that, there was a Groundhog Day sighting in Cincinnati.

Yes, THE Bill Murray was at the Xavier-Seton Hall men’s basketball game (his son Luke is an assistant coach for Xavier). Everyone knows Bill. Everyone loves Bill. But how about a little love for his good friend, writing partner and sometimes co-star, Harold Ramis.


Harold’s star never did shine as brightly as Bill’s, but his fingerprints are all over so many of the most memorable comedies of my generation:

  • he wrote Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters and the screenplay for Back to School and Groundhog Day
  • he was the head writer for SCTV for a couple of years
  • he co-starred with Bill Murray in Stripes and Ghostbusters, and also was an actor in SCTV, Knocked Up and As Good as It Gets
  • he directed Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Groundhog Day… and 4 episodes of The Office. (He also directed Stuart Saves His Family but still, not a bad batting average.)

Beyond the IMDb stats, though, from all reports Mr. Ramis (who passed away in 2014) was a really good guy… and that doesn’t happen often in Hollywood. Here’s Groundhog Day actress Andie McDowell talking about him:

Raised Jewish, Harold gravitated toward Buddhism, and even created a pocket-sized “5 Minute Buddhist” cheat sheet, which he kept with him at all times.

He described his belief system as “Budd-ish.” The influence of Buddhism shows up in Caddyshack:

And it’s all over Groundhog Day. So on the day after, which is like the day before, and the day before that, let’s practice a little gratitude for Mr. Harold Ramis.

And check out these fun facts about the Groundhog Day from Harold’s director’s commentary.





What this country needs is a dream… and a matching t-shirt

Love the latest t-shirt from Neil deGrasse Tyson. Get yours here: https://represent.com/ndt/neil-degrasse-tyson-lets-make-america-smart-again-the-cosmic-perspective?store=startalkIn


Keep your feet on the ground… and keep reaching for the stars

My Top 10 resolutions/goals for 2017: 

  1. Learn a new language. (Russian would seem to make the most sense.)
  2. Buy the world a Coke. (Just to clarify so we’re all on the same page, I’m buying a single Coke and all 7 billion of you will have to share. Don’t worry, I’ll spring for a 2-liter. Bring your own straw.)
  3. Have an attitude of gratitude… when I finally win that Powerball jackpot that The Man has been cheating me out of for years.
  4. Avoid all media references to Kim Kardashian and/or Kanye West. (So basically go live in a cave.)
  5. Sell my idea for bacon-wrapped Canadian bacon to Hormel or Oscar Mayer.
  6. Stop, collaborate and listen (per the instructions of self-improvement guru Vanilla Ice).
  7. Stop making lists for everything.
  8. Somehow convince our incoming president that “counterintelligence” has nothing to do with knowing the difference between granite, quartz and laminate.
  9. Finish what I start.



Literally Christmas

Our 11-year-old son gave our 15-year-old son an Xbox for Christmas:

It’s the thought that counts, right?